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Knights of the Art

Sometimes in a crowd of people one sees a tall man, who stands head and shoulders
higher than any one else, and who can look far over the heads of ordinary- sized mortals.
`What a giant!' we exclaim, as we gaze up and see him towering above us.
So among the crowd of painters travelling along the road to Fame we see above the rest a
giant, a greater and more powerful genius than any that came before or after him. When
we hear the name of Michelangelo we picture to ourselves a great rugged, powerful giant,
a veritable son of thunder, who, like the Titans of old, bent every force of Nature to his
This Michelangelo was born at Caprese among the mountains of Casentino. His father,
Lodovico Buonarroti, was podesta or mayor of Caprese, and came of a very ancient and
honourable family, which had often distinguished itself in the service of Florence.
Now the day on which the baby was born happened to be not only a Sunday, but also a
morning when the stars were especially favourable. So the wise men declared that some
heavenly virtue was sure to belong to a child born at that particular time, and without
hesitation Lodovico determined to call his little son Michael Angelo, after the archangel
Michael. Surely that was a name splendid enough to adorn any great career.
It happened just then that Lodovico's year of office ended, and so he returned with his
wife and child to Florence. He had a property at Settignano, a little village just outside the
city, and there he settled down.
Most of the people of the village were stone- cutters, and it was to the wife of one of
these labourers that little Michelangelo was sent to be nursed. So in after years the great
master often said that if his mind was worth anything, he owed it to the clear pure
mountain air in which he was born, just as he owed his love of carving stone to the
unconscious influence of his nurse, the stone- cutter's wife.
As the boy grew up he clearly showed in what direction his interest lay. At school he was
something of a dunce at his lessons, but let him but have a pencil and paper and his mind
was wide awake at once. Every spare moment he spent making sketches on the walls of
his father's house.
But Lodovico would not hear of the boy becoming an artist. There were many children to
provide for, and the family was not rich. It would be much more fitting that Michelangelo
should go into the silk and woollen business and learn to make money.
But it was all in vain to try to make the boy see the wisdom of all this. Scold as they
might, he cared for nothing but his pencil, and even after he was severely beaten he
would creep back to his beloved work. How he envied his friend Francesco who worked