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Michelangelo's Mountain: The Quest for Perfection in the Marble Quarries of Carrara

by

Michelangelo's Mountain: The Quest for Perfection in the Marble Quarries of Carrara Cover

ISBN13: 9780743254779
ISBN10: 0743254775
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

No artist looms so large in Western consciousness and culture as Michelangelo Buonarroti, the most celebrated sculptor of all time. And no place on earth provides a stone so capable of simulating the warmth and vitality of human flesh and incarnating the genius of a Michelangelo as the statuario of Carrara, the storied marble mecca at Tuscany's northwest corner. It was there, where shadowy Etruscans and Roman slaves once toiled, that Michelangelo risked his life in dozens of harrowing expeditions to secure the precious stone for his Pietà, Moses, and other masterpieces.

Many books have recounted Michelangelo's achievements in Florence and Rome. Michelangelo's Mountain goes beyond all of them, revealing his escapades and ordeals in the spectacular landscape that was the third pole of his tumultuous career and the third wellspring of his art. Eric Scigliano brings this haunting place and eternally fascinating artist to life in a sweeping tale peopled by popes and poets, mad dukes and mythic monsters, scheming courtiers and rough-hewn quarrymen. In showing how the artist, land, and stone transformed one another, Scigliano brings fresh insight to Michelangelo's most cherished works and illuminates his struggles with the princes and potentates of Carrara, Rome, and Medici Florence, who raised intrigue to a high art. He recounts the saga of the David, the improbable masterpiece that Michelangelo created against all odds, of the twin Hercules that he tried to erect beside it, and of the Salieri-like nemesis who snatched away the commission, turning a sculptural testament to liberty into a bitter symbol of tyranny and giving Florence the colossus it loves to hate.

Scigliano plumbs the Renaissance archives, uncovering previously unpublished and untranslated documents, and trolls the earthy cantinas of Carrara, where old cavatori who wrestled giant blocks from the mountains by hand recount the miseries and glories of a vanishing heroic age. He takes readers along with another sojourner, the exiled poet Dante Alighieri, who drew his visions of Hell and Purgatory partly from the surreal panorama of Carrara's quarries. Interweaving art, architecture, science, politics, folklore, and even quarry cuisine, he traces the mystique of marble and the magic of the stone carver's art from prehistory to the present, and shows how they culminate in the triumph and tragedy of Michelangelo's Pygmalion-like quest to bring life out of stone.

Review:

"A lively blend of art history and travelogue....An affectionate, gracefully written portrait of a little-known place that has suffered much pain to bring the world great beauty." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"The book is well-written and does include many nuggets about marble and Michelangelo. But it suffers from the bane of many single-subject books: too much detail slowing down the story." Seattle Times

Review:

"This is a terrific book, original in conception and exhilarating in its range and sweep. Eric Scigliano effortlessly marries the vibrant and tumultuous world of quattrocento and cinquecento Tuscan politics, philosophy, and art to his own 21st-century travels in the region. Whether sketching a landscape, exploring the geology of marble, following Michelangelo from commission to commission, waxing lyrical on the curing of pork fat, or talking stonemasonry to elderly quarrymen in a Carrara bar, Scigliano is a deft, eloquent writer; the connections he makes are always surprising and often revelatory. His Michelangelo emerges as a man as much of our time and place as of his own." Jonathan Raban, author of Bad Land and Passage to Juneau

Review:

"This is a masterful work, in many respects a new kind of narrative nonfiction. Dancing seamlessly between past and present, Eric Scigliano illuminates Michelangelo through the sculptor's passion for special stone, set against the story of the stone itself and the people who still share that passion today. His strong, polished, yet informal prose — reminiscent at times of the marble he describes — is the perfect vehicle for this remarkable balancing act." Paul Robert Walker, author of The Feud That Sparked the Renaissance

Synopsis:

With vivid writing and characterizations, Scigliano dramatizes Michelangelo's life and times through his obsession with the legendary marble of Carrara and his creation of three incomparable masterpieces — the Pieta, David, and Moses.

Synopsis:

No artist looms so large in Western consciousness and culture as Michelangelo Buonarroti, the most celebrated sculptor of all time. And no place on earth provides a stone so capable of simulating the warmth and vitality of human flesh and incarnating the genius of a Michelangelo as the statuario of Carrara, the storied marble mecca at Tuscany's northwest corner. It was there, where shadowy Etruscans and Roman slaves once toiled, that Michelangelo risked his life in dozens of harrowing expeditions to secure the precious stone for his Pietà, Moses, and other masterpieces.

Many books have recounted Michelangelo's achievements in Florence and Rome. Michelangelo's Mountain goes beyond all of them, revealing his escapades and ordeals in the spectacular landscape that was the third pole of his tumultuous career and the third wellspring of his art. Eric Scigliano brings this haunting place and eternally fascinating artist to life in a sweeping tale peopled by popes and poets, mad dukes and mythic monsters, scheming courtiers and rough-hewn quarrymen. In showing how the artist, land, and stone transformed one another, Scigliano brings fresh insight to Michelangelo's most cherished works and illuminates his struggles with the princes and potentates of Carrara, Rome, and Medici Florence, who raised intrigue to a high art. He recounts the saga of the David, the improbable masterpiece that Michelangelo created against all odds, of the twin Hercules that he tried to erect beside it, and of the Salieri-like nemesis who snatched away the commission, turning a sculptural testament to liberty into a bitter symbol of tyranny and giving Florence the colossus it loves to hate.

Scigliano plumbs the Renaissance archives, uncovering previously unpublished and untranslated documents, and trolls the earthy cantinas of Carrara, where old cavatori who wrestled giant blocks from the mountains by hand recount the miseries and glories of a vanishing heroic age. He takes readers along with another sojourner, the exiled poet Dante Alighieri, who drew his visions of Hell and Purgatory partly from the surreal panorama of Carrara's quarries. Interweaving art, architecture, science, politics, folklore, and even quarry cuisine, he traces the mystique of marble and the magic of the stone carver's art from prehistory to the present, and shows how they culminate in the triumph and tragedy of Michelangelo's Pygmalion-like quest to bring life out of stone.

About the Author

Eric Scigliano's ancestors were quarry-men and stone carvers in Carrara. He is the author of Love, War, and Circuses: The Age-Old Relationship Between Elephants and Humans and two regional books, Seattle from the Air and Puget Sound: Sea Between the Mountains, and the co-translator of Trinh Công So'n's wartime poetry. An award-winning journalist, Scigliano has written for Harper's, Outside, Discover, and many other publications.

Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction: Aristide's Trail

Chapter 1 Pietra Viva

Chapter 2 The Sculptor in the Garden

Chapter 3 Cities of Stone

Chapter 4 The Magra's Mouth

Chapter 5 The Cardinal's PietÀ

Chapter 6 David and the Orphan Stone

Chapter 7 The Painter and the Sculptor

Chapter 8 The Tomb of Dreams

Chapter 9 The Brotherhood of Stone

Chapter 10 The Agony of the Bronze

Chapter 11 Painting in Stone, Sculpting with Paint

Chapter 12 The Promised Land

Chapter 13 "The Mirror of All Italy"

Chapter 14 Taming the Mountain

Chapter 15 The Walls Come Tumbling Down

Chapter 16 The Kiss of the Medici

Chapter 17 The Last Blows of the Chisel

epilogue: Another War

Notes

Bibliography

Acknowledgments

Index

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Gold Gato, March 17, 2013 (view all comments by Gold Gato)
"...the closer you see paintings approach good sculpture, the better they will be; and the more sculptures will approach paintings, the worse you will hold them to be."

Michelangelo was obviously "scultore", the Sistine Chapel not withstanding. This book covers the whole spectrum vis-a-vis this great Renaissance artist, from his personal life to his works to his obsession with the perfect block of marble. Michelangelo felt the only place he could find the perfect stone was in the quarries of Carrara, so we also get a full history of this town which has produced the finest white marble since antiquity.

The author has quite a task to perform, as there are so many different facets to this story. Yes, we learn about the artist and the quarry, but we also get some nice history on the Medici, various Popes, sculpture, Florence, Rome, WWII, and anarchy. I felt the book became more enthralling as it came toward the end, with Carrara once again becoming a central point.

The ability to take a block of stone and then to chip away to find the life within is simply amazing. How sculptors do it is beyond me. I never talk to a painting, but whenever I walk past the garden outside the Houses of Parliament, I always say "hello" to the Burghers of Calais. After reading this book, I now understand why.

Book Season = Autumn (good travelling in Italy)
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780743254779
Author:
Scigliano, Eric
Publisher:
Free Press
Subject:
History - General
Subject:
History
Subject:
Sculptors
Subject:
General Art
Subject:
History : General
Subject:
Michelangelo Buonarroti
Subject:
Sculptors -- Italy.
Subject:
Art-History and Criticism
Copyright:
Publication Date:
September 2005
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 20.335 oz

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » Artists
Arts and Entertainment » Art » History and Criticism

Michelangelo's Mountain: The Quest for Perfection in the Marble Quarries of Carrara Used Hardcover
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$6.95 In Stock
Product details 368 pages Free Press - English 9780743254779 Reviews:
"Review" by , "A lively blend of art history and travelogue....An affectionate, gracefully written portrait of a little-known place that has suffered much pain to bring the world great beauty."
"Review" by , "The book is well-written and does include many nuggets about marble and Michelangelo. But it suffers from the bane of many single-subject books: too much detail slowing down the story."
"Review" by , "This is a terrific book, original in conception and exhilarating in its range and sweep. Eric Scigliano effortlessly marries the vibrant and tumultuous world of quattrocento and cinquecento Tuscan politics, philosophy, and art to his own 21st-century travels in the region. Whether sketching a landscape, exploring the geology of marble, following Michelangelo from commission to commission, waxing lyrical on the curing of pork fat, or talking stonemasonry to elderly quarrymen in a Carrara bar, Scigliano is a deft, eloquent writer; the connections he makes are always surprising and often revelatory. His Michelangelo emerges as a man as much of our time and place as of his own."
"Review" by , "This is a masterful work, in many respects a new kind of narrative nonfiction. Dancing seamlessly between past and present, Eric Scigliano illuminates Michelangelo through the sculptor's passion for special stone, set against the story of the stone itself and the people who still share that passion today. His strong, polished, yet informal prose — reminiscent at times of the marble he describes — is the perfect vehicle for this remarkable balancing act."
"Synopsis" by , With vivid writing and characterizations, Scigliano dramatizes Michelangelo's life and times through his obsession with the legendary marble of Carrara and his creation of three incomparable masterpieces — the Pieta, David, and Moses.
"Synopsis" by , No artist looms so large in Western consciousness and culture as Michelangelo Buonarroti, the most celebrated sculptor of all time. And no place on earth provides a stone so capable of simulating the warmth and vitality of human flesh and incarnating the genius of a Michelangelo as the statuario of Carrara, the storied marble mecca at Tuscany's northwest corner. It was there, where shadowy Etruscans and Roman slaves once toiled, that Michelangelo risked his life in dozens of harrowing expeditions to secure the precious stone for his Pietà, Moses, and other masterpieces.

Many books have recounted Michelangelo's achievements in Florence and Rome. Michelangelo's Mountain goes beyond all of them, revealing his escapades and ordeals in the spectacular landscape that was the third pole of his tumultuous career and the third wellspring of his art. Eric Scigliano brings this haunting place and eternally fascinating artist to life in a sweeping tale peopled by popes and poets, mad dukes and mythic monsters, scheming courtiers and rough-hewn quarrymen. In showing how the artist, land, and stone transformed one another, Scigliano brings fresh insight to Michelangelo's most cherished works and illuminates his struggles with the princes and potentates of Carrara, Rome, and Medici Florence, who raised intrigue to a high art. He recounts the saga of the David, the improbable masterpiece that Michelangelo created against all odds, of the twin Hercules that he tried to erect beside it, and of the Salieri-like nemesis who snatched away the commission, turning a sculptural testament to liberty into a bitter symbol of tyranny and giving Florence the colossus it loves to hate.

Scigliano plumbs the Renaissance archives, uncovering previously unpublished and untranslated documents, and trolls the earthy cantinas of Carrara, where old cavatori who wrestled giant blocks from the mountains by hand recount the miseries and glories of a vanishing heroic age. He takes readers along with another sojourner, the exiled poet Dante Alighieri, who drew his visions of Hell and Purgatory partly from the surreal panorama of Carrara's quarries. Interweaving art, architecture, science, politics, folklore, and even quarry cuisine, he traces the mystique of marble and the magic of the stone carver's art from prehistory to the present, and shows how they culminate in the triumph and tragedy of Michelangelo's Pygmalion-like quest to bring life out of stone.

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