I was recently asked the question, ‘If you had a time machine, where in the historical past would you go?’
It’s a fair enquiry, and one many would ponder at great length. For me, there is a clear time and place. Late fifteenth century Florence.
Florence is a rich place, a creative shot in the arm. I love it. So, travelling back there, to the time when both Leonardo Di Vinci, and Michelangelo were working in the same city, would be a thing of joy.
If I had to choose two artists who I’ve always been fascinated with, well, those are the two. Leonardo da Vinci. A painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer, a man who never considered a painting finished, and often discarded them, spent four years painting (Mona) Lisa, the wife of a family friend, but never finished it. The Last Supper, painted on a wall, using experimental techniques, and now literally crumbling away.
Michelangelo. Hands- on, resilient sculptor of marble, toiling for years mining his source material, and also prone to discarding works. His statue of David is sublime; his Pieta reduced me to tears when I first saw it. His dislike of painting was well known, but the Pope twisted his arm just enough to spend the equivalent of £78,000 on commissioning him to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in 1508.
When I initially cast my eyes upon that I couldn’t speak for some time after.
Both artists met many times yet, according to the artist and biographer Visari, a contemporary of them both, they disliked each other intensely.
A friend of a friend, a very accomplished artist, has invited me to visit her in Florence once again, to study the masters, and learn some of their ways. To be so placed rather fills me with excitement- to learn new skills in the very spaces the two masters honed their craft. I cannot wait. To cover myself in paint, and drink wonderful wine, well, what more could a simple artist wish for?