Friday, May 22, 2009
I have a marble table-top, real marble. Probably travertine. It is 1/2" thick, 2' x 3'. It's a family heirloom and had been sitting on top of a coffee table for years. I'm moving, and I just moved it and was amazed at how heavy it is. I put it on the scale It weighs 50 lbs. Exactly 50 lbs. Isn't that interesting?
Now consider the statue of the Dying Slave (Michelangelo). How much would that weigh?
And consider that you carve a statue by removing marble from a much larger chunk of marble.
I just finished re-reading The Agony and the Ecstasy, about the life and times of Michelangelo, for my trip to Italy. In the book, we learn that at one time, the Pope told Michelangelo to find a new marble quarry (the Carrara people weren't being cooperative), and to do that, Michelangelo had to (himself), BUILD A ROAD to get to the new quarry. Up in the mountains of Italy, with mules, and all that.
And moving something as large as a hunk of marble from which to carve a Dying Slave or a David had to be done -- sometimes -- by inching board under the cart (a strong cart) and moving it just a foot or two at a time. He had to invent his own method as well.
Of course there were generations of stonecutters and quarry workers, but new methods were always needed.
And more about your job description -- Michelangelo was a sculptor. That was his love and what he wanted to do. When the Pope ordered him to paint the Sistine Chapel, he had not done anything prior besides sketches for his statues. But you don't tell the Pope "no," (though he tried to), so he painted the Sistine Chapel. The painting was on the ceiling and he had to invent his own scaffolding and method for getting up there to lie on his back and do something he really didn't want to do, or know how to do--paint the Sistine Chapel.