Artist: Giorgio Vasari (Arezzo 1511 - Florence 1574): design; Giovanni Battista Lorenzi (Settignano c. 1527 - Pisa 1594): Bust of Michelangelo, Painting; Valerio Cioli (Settignano 1529 - Florence 1599): Sculpture; Giovanni Bandini (known as Giovanni dell'Opera; Florence c. 1540 - 99): Architecture; Giovan Battista Naldini (Florence 1535 - 91): Pietà and angels holding back the curtains
Title: Monumental Tomb of Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475 - 1564)
Material and tecnique: white Carrara marble, polychrome marble, wall painting
Dimensions: 500 x 600 cm
Position: Basilica of Santa Croce, south aisle, between first and second bay
Michelangelo died in Rome on 18 February 1564 and was buried in the church of Santi Apostoli, but his nephew Leonardo purloined his uncle's remains and brought them back to Florence "secretly in a bale, under the title of merchandise". The body reached Florence on 11 March and though every effort was made to keep the news of its removal to Santa Croce a secret, the word rapidly spread. The church was soon so full that it proved difficult to move the body into the sacristy, where it lay in state to allow the citizenry to pay tribute to the great master who had been absent from his city for thirty years. A solemn funeral was subsequently held in the basilica of San Lorenzo, but Duke Cosimo "ordained that an honourable place should be given to Michelagnolo for his tomb in Santa Croce, in which church he had purposed in his lifetime to be buried, because the sepulchre of his ancestors was there".
The glorious artist's legend was thus posthumously reappropriated by highlighting his relationship with the city of his youth and the Buonarroti family's centuries-old bond with the Santa Croce neighbourhood where they lived and had their family tomb. The church was also chosen on account of the role of guardian of Florence's past glories that it had begun to take on when it received the remains of Leonardo Bruni and Carlo Marsuppini.
The monument to Michelangelo, devised by Vincenzo Borghini and designed by Giorgio Vasari, was only completed in 1576. The Bust of Michelangelo and the statue of Painting were commissioned from Giovan Battista Lorenzi, Sculpture from Valerio Cioli, Architecture from Giovanni Bandini and the frescoes from Giovan Battista Naldini. The result was a manifesto of the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno: all the artists involved were members of the Academy and its symbol of tree interlocking crowns adorns the central register. Vasari also considered the emblem, which Borghini devised for the institution, to be Michelangelo's personal crest in memory of the three circles with which he would earmark blocks of marble that he chose in a quarry.