Michelangelo's history of sporadic activity as a painter seems to support his contention that he was primarily a sculptor, despite his training in Ghirlandaio's workshop. It was in painting, however, that his ambition was realized most completely. His three monumental fresco cycles in the Vatican - the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the Last Judgement on its altar wall, and the two lateral walls of the Pauline Chapel - are among his greatest achievements.
He produced few easel pictures. Among the speculative attributions to his early period in Rome, the Entombment and the so-called Manchester Madonna (both in the National Gallery, London) seem likely to be authentic. The Doni Tondo (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence) is Michelangelo's only existing documented panel picture. The survival of the original frame, which may have been designed by Michelangelo, makes the tondo doubly important as the sole intact decorative ensemble in his oeuvre.
The Doni Tondo was not the last of Michelangelo's panel paintings. Around 1530 he painted a Leda and the Swan (untraced) for Alfonso I d'Este, Duke of Ferrara. Alfonso never received the picture, which vanished in France. It is known from a number of 16th-century copies, of which the most reliable appears to be a painting in the National Gallery, London.
|Summary of works by Michelangelo|
|Sculptures | Paintings | Sistine Chapel | Drawings | Architecture|
|-1501 | 1502- | David | Julius II's Tomb | Medici Tomb | Pietŕs|
|Easel paintings | Frescoes in Pauline Chapel|
|Division of the ceiling | Genesis | Prophets | Sibyls | Ignudi|
|Spandrels | Lunettes | Triangles | Medallions|
|until 1530 | after 1530|