Discover the fascinating, crucial, and often dangerous relationship between Michelangelo and the stone quarries of Carrara in this clear-eyed and well-researched exploration that “recounts the artist's large life and lasting works with care and reverence” (Booklist).
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. 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.
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.
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.