The Great Debate: Leonardo or Michelangelo?

The two masters of their time. Contemporaries, rivals, Renaissance men.

It seems there is more historical significance attached to the works of Leonardo da Vinci, but was he the greater artist?

In my estimation: no. I believe the striking realism of Pieta contrasted with the imaginative splendor of The Creation Of Adam shows a more soulful, humanistic artistry than do the varied works of Leonardo da Vinci. I don’t think the sculptures of Michelangelo will ever be bested. The Pieta will stand until the end of the time as perfection chiseled of sweat and marble. It becomes a scene in your mind that you once witnessed and can only be fully remembered by gazing once again upon the stony embodiment. I believe it transcends all other artistic works.

That being said, sculpture may not be your thing and perhaps you consider the innovative, atmospheric style of Leonardo da Vinci more artistically affective. There is, of course, no right or wrong answer.

For reference:

Creation of Adam
Mona Lisa
The Last Supper

Interesting question, and I’m nowhere near qualified to answer. But. I must say that the Pieta is, IMHO, the greatest work of sculpture in the world, however I would NOT say it was realistic. The woman (whether Mary the mother or Mary the lover) is waaaaay out of scale with the Christ figure. On purpose, of course, but I think that speaks to the piece not being accurately described as “realistic”.

It is exquisite. I was able, many years ago to get very close to the Pieta and it is even more stunning at close range.
The man was clearly a show-off as well, there is absolutely no need for Mary’s toe to peek out from beneath the fabric but it does…because he can. Look how many folds I can do!!! bloody smart-arse.

I’d say Michelangelo shades it but Leo wasn’t too shabby.

Incidentally, for those lucky enough to visit Rome, go take a look in the Palatine hill museum or the Ostia Antica museum and feast on the sculpture produced some 2000 years ago. It is clear to see where Michelangelo got some of inspiration from.

I always preferred Donatello.

but Rafael had those bitchin’ sais…

I was actually at the Palatine Hill museum in Rome last week, and I agree; I was also very impressed by the Roman statuary at the Vatican Museum, particularly Laocoön and His Sons, which Michelangelo himself had seen unearthed and which affected him deeply.

Also, the Pieta does indeed kick ass, as does his statue of Moses at San Pietro in Vincoli. OTOH, the Sistine Chapel was nice, but I was actually more impressed by the Raphael Rooms.

Leonardo leads, whereas Michelangelo is a party dude.

I don’t believe any writer ever tried to bring leonardo at par with michelangelo when it came to sheer artistic skill and inspiration. The Mona Lisa has one of the best facial expression of any painting but that was it. His contraptions? Nice but they wouldn’t have worked.

OTOH, I loathe Donatello. By my scales, Michelangelo was the artist *par excellence. * Nothing Leonardo ever did ever came close. The Mona Lisa is a piece of trash compared to Moses or David, let alone the Pieta of St. Peter’s. Leo gets the nod for interesting inventions (that can’t be built with the tech of the day) but Mike takes every other category hands down.

No, Michelangelo’s proportions don’t match those of real people. This does not mean that his statues are not realistic; rather, it means that there’s more to realism than just matching the proportions. His works are more realistic than they would be with the “correct” proportions, and being able to pull that off takes one heck of an artist.

Leonardo, no question. I mean, five Oscar nominations, come on!

I’d say that Michelangelo was by far the better artist, having seen quite a few of his works in Rome, Florence, Bruges and Paris, and seen most of the famous Leonardo ones in the same cities.

However, I think that Leonardo was much more of a polymath; Michelangelo was an artist and sometime architect (he had a large hand in the current layout of St. Peter’s), but not much else, while Leonardo was pretty deeply involved in many other sorts of thoughts and concepts.

Personally, I’m partial to Caravaggio as far as paintings go, and I have to hand it to Michelangelo as a sculptor- nobody else really holds a candle to him.

Michelangelo’s work was not supposed to be realistic; it transcended realism. Why do you think his *David *has such huge hands, but tiny genitals? The hands needed the strength to kill Goliath, but David was not famous for his procreation.

And Leonardo could never have conceived of the Dying Slave.

Many of his “contraception” were actually put into use during his lifetime, so I’m not seeing where you get that last bit other than a focus on the subset of fantastical contraptions that clearly did not or would not work.



Thank You, I needed to get that off my chest.

Leonardo didn’t sculpt nude women who clearly look like muscular bois with breasts glued on as an afterthought. Tell me more about Michealangelo’s “soulful, humanistic artistry”…

Team Leonardo all the way. There’s more soul an humanity in Vitruvian Man than any passive-aggressive dig at religion hidden in a ceiling painting.

That may be. But look at paintings of Moses by Rembrandt, Millais, Chagall, etc. Then look at the sculpture by Niehaus. Lastly look at movie depictions by Heston and Lancaster. Sorry, none of them come close to Michelangelo’s, coming as they did centuries after his in 1515.

Leonardo may be good at sensitive expressions and chubby-cheeked women with nice lips. But no one exalts the male form as well as Michelangelo.

And if it’s the female form you want, I suggest you go with Bernini.

Look how Pluto’s fingers dig into Proserpina’s body.

If exalting the male form’s your thing, freak freely. Although IMO in that arena Michaelangelo was only as good as Epigonus (if you believe it’s Epigonus who sculpted the original Dying Gaul)

Me, I’ll stick with the guy who painted the world’s greatest painting, bar none.