Even as a lad, Michelangelo knew that he was destined to create despite his father's attempts to beat the notion out of him. And, indeed, he left us a great many masterpieces, in sketches, sculpture, painting, and architecture. The David, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica are perhaps his best-known accomplishments. But there are many works by Michelangelo, some in varying stages of completion, still available to us today, more than 450 years after his death.
Michelangelo is one of the most studied artists of all time. His legacy lives on through his creations.
But did you know the context in which Michelangelo worked? Did you know that his was an era riven by political strife? Did you know that he almost lost his life -- by assassination -- for his political views? Did you know that if he'd died then, he would never have had a chance to paint the Last Supper or complete the Vatican basilica?
Written in obscurity from a prison cell, this hero's ideas about power and the roots of social inequality would change the world.
In 1925 the Prime Minister of Italy, who ruled constitutionally from 1922, dropped all pretense of democracy and established a dictatorship. His name was Benito Mussolini. And if he didn't like the way you thought or what you believed, he had his goons eliminate you or throw you in prison on the remote island of Ustica.
This is where our story of Antonio Gramsci begins. Mussolini had him arrested in 1926, not for his actions but his words and ideas. Gramsci's vocal point of view was simply too dangerous to allow him to walk free. He was a threat to Mussolini's power.
Some people will go to extraordinary lengths and do whatever it takes to ensure that others succeed. That was Maria Montessori's hallmark.
Born in Italy in 1870, Maria Montessori spent her life challenging expectations -- from the sexism embedded in a country and culture with strictly defined gender roles to the prevailing notions of how children learn.
Maria was one of Italy’s first female doctors. She endured years of hostility, harassment, and outright rejection on the part of her male teacher and peers. But she persevered. And focusing on pediatrics and psychiatry, she became an expert in pediatric medicine.
She began to practice privately in 1896. But the priority she placed on learning and education -- inherited from her parents who sent her to the best institutions Rome then had to offer -- was never too far away.
In the 1890s, most doctors believed that “mentally disabled” children were incapable of being educated. Sadly, many young people, who today would be regarded merely as “learning challenged,” were confined to asylums for life. But Maria disagreed.
Do you consider the arts and culture an essential part of life, worth protecting for future generations?
Well, so did Michelangelo’s first patron: Lorenzo de' Medici.
Lorenzo de' Medici is better known to history by his nickname: Lorenzo the Magnificent. In his case, greatness skipped a generation: he was born on January 1, 1449, into the powerful Medici family and inherited more of the skills used by his grandfather, Cosimo, to elevate the banking family to prominence than did his father, Piero.
Cosimo, who recognized the boy's promise, saw to it that Lorenzo was groomed to lead.