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Michelangelo’s Birthday

michelangelofaceItalian Renaissance painter, Michelangelo, was born on March 6, 1475 in Caprese, Italy. Considered one of the greatest artists of all time and an influential figure in the development of Western art, and he is probably best known for his sculptures Pietà and David and for his remarkable painting of the ceiling and altar of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.

Michelangelo was born Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni to small-scale banker and magistrate Leonardo di Buonarrota Simoni and Francesca Neri. He was the second of five sons born to the couple. As with most prodigy-like artists, Michelangelo took an interest in painting, drawing, and other forms of art at an early age as he watched painters at nearby churches. Early Michelangelo biographers claim that Francesco Granacci, one of Michelangelo’s grammar school friends introduced Michelangelo to painter Domenico Ghirlandaio. Not blind to Michelangelo’s disinterest in regular schooling and the potential takeover of their family’s financial business, Michelangelo’s father sent him to apprentice under Ghirlandaio. He learned fresco painting during his time apprenticing with Ghirlandaio, who was a master of the technique.

In 1489, Ghirlandaio was asked by the de facto ruler of Florence, Lorenzo de’ Medici, to present his two best pupils. At age 14, Michelangelo was sent to study classical sculpting techniques and philosophy at the Humanist academy at the Medici gardens. He gained access to Florence’s social elite and was exposed to some of the greatest artists, writers, and philosophers of the time. He also was granted permission by the Catholic Church to study cadavers and gain insight into human anatomy. These years of study greatly contributed to Michelangelo’s style which combined a precise realism with a lyrical beauty. The only two works that have survived from this time in Michelangelo’s life are  Madonna of the Steps and Battle of the Centaurswhich show his exceptional talent even in his teen years.

After moving to Rome in 1498, a still young Michelangelo began to work under the wing of Cardinal Jean Bilhères de Lagraulas. The cardinal commissioned him to do what would become known as one of his greatest pieces, PietàPiet means “pity” or “compassion,” and the sculpture was a six-foot wide and six-foot tall piece of marble carved into the shape of Mary cradling a dead Jesus in her lap. Michelangelo finished the piece in less than a year when he was only 25 years old. It was erected in the church which contained the cardinal’s tomb, and has since been moved five times and now rests at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. This work is the only of Michelangelo’s that bears his name, as he carved it on the sash Mary wears after hearing spectators attribute the work to another artist.

Michelangelo became well known for Pietà, and was commissioned to finish the work of two other artists who had failed to complete a statue of David. He sculpted a strong, yet vulnerable figure from 17 feet of marble, and the Statue of David became a symbol of Florentine pride and freedom. It is one of the most renowned works of the Renaissance.

Pope Julius II invited Michelangelo back to Rome in 1505 to build a series of sculptures that would be part of the pope’s tomb. This project was interrupted when the pope asked Michelangelo to begin painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Originally commissioned to paint the Twelve Apostles on the ceiling, Michelangelo asked for more freedom in his work and began painting complex scenes representing representing the Creation, the Fall of Man, the Promise of Salvation through the prophets, and the genealogy of Christ. When finished, the ceiling included over 300 figures. After firing all his assistants and finishing the 65-foot ceiling himself, he revealed his work on October 31, 1512. Michelangelo returned to working on the tomb of Pope Julius II over the next few decades, but never completed the project.

michelangelo2Painting the Sistine Chapel took a great physical toll on Michelangelo, and he began to focus on architecture. He was at the head of several projects including the Medici Chapel and the Laurentian Library, though his greatest was probably St. Peter’s Basilica, which he became chief architect for in 1546. He dealt with many conflicts later in life, including backlash after creating the large fresco in the Sistine Chapel, Last Judgement, which included several nude figures thought inappropriate for such a holy place.

Due to his harsh personality and short temper, Michelangelo had rocky relationships with most people he encountered, especially his superiors. He turned to writing as a way to express his melancholy and other feelings about his mostly solitary life. He composed hundreds of poems, sonnets, and other literary works towards the end of his life.

Michelangelo died in 1564 at age 88 in Rome after suffering a short illness. By his request, he was buried in Florence at the Basilica di Santa Croce, and Florentines revered him as the “father and master of all arts” at the time of his death. He is one of the lucky few artists who became wealthy and famous during his lifetime and saw two biographies about him completed. Along with Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, his name has become synonymous with the Florentine High Renaissance, and his life’s work remains legendary.

Sources: Biography.com, Wikipedia, Michelangelo Gallery

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WIN a Signed Mary Singleton or Susan Winget Calendar

Over the next month, Calendars.com has partnered with LANG Companies to host giveaways for signed Mary Singleton and Susan Winget calendars!

Both Singleton and Winget have become well-known over the years for their heart-warming and beautiful folk art, inspired by their picturesque country surroundings. Their calendars are sure to bring life to your walls and joy to your heart!

To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is comment on this blog post. The contest runs until February 14, and winners will be announced February 15.

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Mary AutographWine Country JKT_14

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Edouard Manet Dies at 51

French Impressionist painter Edouard Manet died of rheumatism and untreated syphilis at the age of 51 on April 31, 1883.
Born into a wealthy, well-connected family in Paris on January 23, 1832, Edouard Manet was expected to practice law by his mother and father. Manet, however, had little interest in law and was instead fascinated by painting and the arts.
After failing his naval examinations more than once, Manet’s parents finally supported his career choice and sent him off to study under painter Thomas Couture. In addition to this, Edouard Manet would spend hours at the Louvre recreating classic masterpieces.
Manet was among the first of the 19th century painters to approach modern and post-modern subjects, and was an integral part of the artistic movement from Realism to Impressionism. Some of his most famous paintings are Olympia, The Luncheon on the Grass, and A Bar at the Folies-Bergere.

Sources: Wikipedia, Biography

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Pablo Picasso Dies

One of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso, died on April 8, 1973 in Mougins, France.

Born in Malaga, Spain on October 25, 1881, Pablo Picasso was a Spanish painter, sculptor, ceramist, and stage designer. He is known in the art world for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of collage, and a wide array of other artistic styles that he helped create and develop.

Some of Pablo Picasso’s most famous paintings are: The Old Guitarist (1903), Gertrude Stein (1905-1906), Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), and Guernica (1937), although there are many others. Picasso practiced many styles of painting throughout his career as an artist, and would go through periods where all his paintings were crafted in a particular style. Most notable of these styles are the Blue Period, the Rose Period, and Cubism.

Check out some of Pablo Picasso’s work in our selection of Picasso calendars.

Sources: Biography, Wikipedia

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Renoir’s Birthday

February 25 is French painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s birthday!

Born in 1841 in Limoges, France, Renoir honed in on his artistic skills as a child while working at a porcelain factory where he was recruited to paint designs on fine china. Renoir officially began studying art in Paris in 1862 under Charles Gleyre, where he was introduced to fellow artists Alfred Sisley, Frederic Bazille, and Claude Monet.

In 1864, Renoir began showing his paintings at this Paris Salon. His work was not officially acknowledged until ten years later when six of his paintings were shown at the first Impressionist exhibit in 1874.

After many year of struggling as an artist, Renoir helped mold the Impressionist artistic movement and became one of the most esteemed artists of his time. Posthumously, Renoir’s paintings have become extremely popular; two of them have sold for more than $70 Million.

Check out some of our calendars that feature French Impressionist painter Pierre-August Renoir!

Sources: Wikipedia

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Inspire Your Heart with Art Day

January 31 is Inspire Your Heart with Art Day!

Inspire Your Heart with Art Day is a celebration of creativity which focuses on the effect that art can have on one’s heart. To observe the occasion, go visit a museum or an art gallery, or make some art on your own.

If you’re going to celebrate by checking out some professional art, pay attention to the artist’s technique and ask yourself how each particular piece makes you feel. If you’d rather create your own art, get together with some friends in a judgment-free zone where everyone is comfortable expressing themselves creatively.

Check out some of our amazing art calendars!

Sources: Holiday Insights, Bendo13

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Sistine Chapel Ceiling Revealed

File:Sistine chapel.jpgToday marks the 500th anniversary of the revealing of the Sistine Chapel ceiling to the public. Commissioned by Pope Julius II in 1508, the ceiling was painted by Michelangelo and revealed in 1512. Although Michelangelo was foremost a sculptor and reluctant to paint the ceiling at first, the beautiful ceiling he spent four years painting became his most accomplished work.

Read more about the painting of the Sistine Chapel at the Huffington Post.

Did you know…Pope Julius II initially planned for Michelangelo to paint the 12 apostles, but Michelangelo negotiated for something more grand and complex. Permitted “to do as I like,” as Michelangelo supposedly said, he ended up painting over 300 figures and nine scenes from the Book of Genesis.

 

Sources: Wikipedia, Yahoo! Voices, Huffington Post

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Frida Kahlo’s Birthday

I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”

- Frida Kahlo, quoted in Frida Kahlo 1907-1954: Pain and Passion by Andrea Kettenmann

July 6, 2012 celebrates Frida Kahlo’s 105th birthday. Though her paintings display the fantasy and dream-like quality of surrealism, Khalo, a Mexican painter well known for her self-portraits, never considered herself a surrealist, asserting that she didn’t paint her dreams but her reality. Khalo’s work reflects the physical and psychological pain she endured through out her life – from the 32 surgeries, long periods of isolation and recovery, miscarriages, and lifetime of pain that resulted from a traffic accident in 1925 to her volatile marriage to Mexican artist Diego Rivera. In a biography of Kahlo published in Oxford University Press’s Grove Art Online, Hayden Herrera described Khalo’s self-portraits as “a kind of exorcism by which she projected her anguish on to another Frida, in order to separate herself from pain and at the same time confirm her hold on reality.”

Though undoubtedly unwanted, Kahlo’s suffering led to beautiful works of art, literally – Khalo began her painting career while immobilized and isolated for three months after her accident. Constantly examining herself through her self-portraits, Khalo was not afraid of being vulnerable and openly displaying her physical and emotional wounds. Khalo’s personal subject matter combined with bright colors, surreal and primitive style, and the influence of Mexican culture resulted in close to 200 striking and powerful paintings, 55 of which are self-portraits.

Frida Kahlo’s 2013 calendars are for sale at Calendars.com.

Sources: Wikipedia, Modern Museum of Art, The Guardian

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Calendar Life Sketches From Stephen Anthony

One of our seasonal call center employees sketched some clever cartoons during one of his lunch breaks. It was one of those moments when all of us stopped in awe, not knowing his hidden talent.

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