The original materials for the study of Michelangelo's life and work are the two biographies by his contemporaries, Vasari and Condivi. Vasari's was the first of these (1550), and like the other portions of his "Lives of the Painters" contained many inaccuracies. It was to correct these that Condivi published his little book a few years later. This rival effort aroused Vasari's wrath, and after Michelangelo's death he issued an enlarged edition of his own book, unscrupulously incorporating all that was valuable in Condivi's work, and adding thereto many reminiscences of the master's life. The fame of Vasari's monumental work caused Condivi's little book to be entirely forgotten for long years, and it has been one of the tasks of modern scholarship to restore it to its true place. Even now, however, there is no available form of Condivi's biography for American readers, though Vasari's "Lives" in Mrs. Foster's translation is found in most libraries. The latest edition of Vasari, published in 1897, contains annotations by Mr. and Mrs. E.H. Blashfield, and A.A. Hopkins, which correct all the statements in the light of recent authorities.

Far more valuable even than the early biographies is the mass of existing documents of the Buonarotti family, including contracts, letters, poems, and memoranda, and containing data for a full and exact biography of the master. Unfortunately, however, this great storehouse of material has been for all these centuries a sealed treasure, given up only little by little, to successive generations of scholars. When Hermann Grimm wrote his celebrated "Life of Michael Angelo" (in 1860), the only original material accessible to him was the collection of letters in the British Museum. His volumes are still read with interest and profit, though it is to be regretted that they should be reprinted without any editorial comments to connect formerly received opinions with later conclusions. John S. Harford's "Life of Michael Angelo Buonarotti" was published at about the same time as Grimm's work, that is, in 1857. It was in two volumes, and contained translations of many of Michelangelo's poems, as well as material about Savonarola, Vittoria Colonna, and Raphael. The work is found in the older libraries, and is well worth studying, as the latter portion is still valuable for all that refers to the architecture of St. Peter's.

Signor Gotti's "Vita," in 1875, was the first to profit to any considerable degree by documentary researches. The conclusions of this book are best known to the English-reading public through Charles Heath Wilson's "Life and Works of Michelangelo Buonarotti" (1876 and 1881), consisting of compilations from Gotti, to which are added original investigations of the Sistine frescoes, which are very valuable.

More privileged than any of his predecessors was John Addington Symonds, who, by special favor of the Italian government, was allowed to examine the Buonarotti collection in Florence, so long debarred to others. His "Life of Michelangelo Buonarotti" is therefore unique in being, as the sub-title announces, "based on studies in the archives of the Buonarotti family at Florence." It was published in 1893 in two large, finely illustrated volumes, and is taken as the latest authoritative word on the subject, a word singularly independent of others' conclusions, and influenced by an artistic and literary nature of rare sensitiveness.

To those who wish briefer notices of Michelangelo's life and work than any of these full biographies are recommended the chapters on Michelangelo in Kugler's "Handbook of the Italian Schools," in Mrs. Jameson's "Memoirs of the Italian Painters," in Frank Preston Stearns's "Midsummer of Italian Art," in Mrs. Oliphant's "Makers of Florence," and in Symonds's volume on "Fine Arts" in the series "Renaissance in Italy."

To understand more fully the character of the man Michelangelo, the student should read his sonnets. There is a complete collection translated by J.A. Symonds, while both Wordsworth and Longfellow have translated a few.

The life of Michelangelo has furnished material for two long poems by American writers,—Longfellow's drama, and the poem by Stuart Sterne. The former, which is annotated, is a well-balanced study of the great artist's career and ideals.