The Easel

Simon Callow on Michelangelo: the most heroic toiler of the human race

At 37, Michelangelo’s most glorious artistic achievements were done. What came next was … architecture. After many notable projects, at age 71, he took on St. Peter’s Basilica. It was by far the world’s biggest building project, already 40 years in the making and a disaster. Michelangelo brought a sculptor’s sensibility to its design, remaking the vocabulary of architecture. As an architecture historian notes “It’s Michelangelo’s church, and no one else’s.”