Artistic Match Ups #1.

Have you ever played a game of comparisons where you match up persons or things and try to decide which you prefer? I know we can’t or won’t really say who is the better artist but it is fun to take two artists who are contemporaries and match them up.

I invite your comments on these two artists. I simply want to know who you prefer, Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo Buonarroti.

leonardo da Vinci.

leonardo da Vinci.

da Vinci was born in 1452, and died 1519.  da Vinci was a great draftsman, and scientist, and is best known for the Mona Lisa, and his sketchbooks which he used in his scientific studies. The ultimate Renaissance man, he was a painter, sculptor, scientist, and engineer among other things. In general  a man of great curiosity.

However he completed relatively few paintings, leaving many unfinished. He never published his scientific findings, which limited  their influence on the  future course of science. Because of his experimenting with unusual techniques the Last Supper, one of his most famous paintings, started falling off the wall almost as soon as it was completed.



Michelangelo was born in 1475, and died in 1564. Michelangelo was a great sculptor and architect, and is best known for the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and Saint Peter’s Cathedral in Rome. Prolific in sculpture, painting, sketching, and architecture, he sculpted two of his most famous works, the Pieta, and David, before he was thirty.

However, I find his handling of the female form to be little more than breasts stuck on a steroid enhanced male body.

Who would I give this match up to? da Vinci’s famous painting with the lovely smile, the Mona Lisa, is a great painting, but am I alone to think it a bit drab in colour, and static in composition? Could he not get his mind on one thing long enough to actually complete more work? He must have been incredibly frustrating to work with.

Michelangelo’s famous ceiling in the Sistine Chapel until recently would also be considered drab in colour, but recent cleaning has revealed wonderful bright colour. His sculpture is some of the greatest ever produced but his handling of the female form is poor. Yet he produced great painting, sculpture, and architecture. He had a great temper, and must have been infuriating to work with.


10 thoughts on “Artistic Match Ups #1.

  1. Have to agree 110% .. Michelangelo! In fact I was just thinking about his sculptures this very morning. I do like da Vinci for his sense of adventure & innovation but for me Michelangelo was The Master Artist!


  2. I’m going to have to weigh-in with a dissenting vote. I pick da Vinci, hands-down. I’ve seen works by both and while the pure aesthetic of Michelangelo is appealing, even intoxicating in its setting, it is the sense of exploration in da Vinci’s works that constantly draws me back in time, and into his world. da Vinci was an explorer, if not one of the seas and of continents, then of form and biology, of range and distance, and of science and imagination.


  3. Those are all valid points, on both sides, but personally, I would find it far more enriching to spend a year hanging around Leo D’s studio. If the criteria is how creative one human can be, he is one awesome and exceptional brain. His sketchbooks rank among the greatest cultural achievements I’ve ever seen.
    And Michelangelo was no slouch to be measured up to either.
    But… best painter ever? Rembrandt’s self portraits are incomparably rich.


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