Imagine the autumn of 1497 if you can. Michelangelo Buonarroti is just 22 years old and has just been commissioned nothing less than the Pietà by the French Cardinal Bilhères Lagraulas. He gets to Carrara riding a gray horse, visits the Polvaccio Quarry, and commissions a load of local marble from the stonecutter Matteo Cuccarello, who undertakes to send the stone to the artist as soon as possible, despite the fact that the season is about to begin prohibitive to work in the quarry.
The material then arrived in Rome very late, so much so that the Bishop was induced to write to the Marquis Malaspina to solicit its dispatch. Although not much is known, it is likely that the impediment was due precisely to a gabelle that the Lunigiana feudatory imposed on the extraction of the precious material.
The small great story passes from the small yet large fiefdom
Oh yeah, to imagine Carrara, we have to imagine the fief of Massa, dominated by the magnificent Malaspina Fortress.
Three years earlier, in 1494, Charles VIII, who was named a knight, within the walls of the sumptuous castle.
That same year, Ricciarda Malaspina was born in the fortress, the only daughter of the sovereign, who despite her sex was destined to become Marchesa di Massa, Lordship of Carrara, Moneta and Avenza and an important Tuscan emissary in Rome.
Six years later, in 1500, Jean de Beaumont, who was sent by the French to help Florence against Pisa, was passing through and so, en passant, confiscated Massa and other territories to Alberico and handed them over to his uncle Gabriele II Malaspina, his archenemy.
«… because on the first year Giulio, who committed the burial, I spent eight months in Carrara working the marbles … And on the ninth of that, I had two hundred ducats from Domenico Boninsegni to go to Carrara for the Cardinal’s marbles»
The artist’s visits to Carrara marked his path, and in fact his maturation and knowledge. Being close to the Carrara quarrymen, knowing their life of sacrifice and danger, and with the local stonemasons, experts in marble working, Michelangelo learned a great deal. And certainly he was a welcome guest, since his were always patrons who paid no heed.
It is 1505, Michelangelo must carry out his most painful and often modified work: the funeral monument to Pope Julius II: on that occasion, for the first time he began to sketch the marble block in Carrara, and later turned to some boat owners in Avenza for transport to Rome.
In 1516, Michelangelo still did not finish completing the complex sepulchral work. The new Pontiff, Leo X, insisted on using the quarries of Pietrasanta because, being a Medici, he wanted to give the job, and therefore the gabelles, to the city of Medici dominion.
But Michelangelo did not leave Carrara.
His choices at this juncture of his life make one think that the artist’s notoriously rebellious and tormented spirit was well suited to that of the quarrymen, who at the time already forged their traditional anarchic spirit between their mountains and their work. . The thirty-year relationship with the city of marble was troubled, full of quarrels, but also of mutual recognition, of passion.
In 1515 Michelangelo had in fact taken up residence in Carrara and even founded a company with Leonardo Cagione, a quarryman, to excavate and earn on supplies of marble to the commissioners. The company was fortunate until the quarrelsome minds reached irreparable disagreements regarding delivery times. Along with tensions with Alberico, this was the reason why, for a period, Michelangelo had to turn to the Versilian quarries, even if for a short time because, being new quarries, those who worked there were completely inexperienced with respect to the great competence of the Carraresi.
In 1525 is one of the last testimonies of the presence of the artist in the city, and Michelangelo’s signature in the Fantiscritti quarry, together with that of many quarrymen, bearing witness to his presence, always together with the workers, always close to the stone.
In July 2017, in the quarry appears the street art, celebrating Michelangelo
The street artist Eduardo Kobra realized in 4 days, in July 2017, an extraordinary mural in the Carrara Marble Quarries depicting Michelangelo’s David and symbolizing the return to the origin of art. 10 meters high, the work fully retains the artist’s style, with its colored diamonds now found in many murals scattered throughout the world.
La foto in copertina è il David di Kobra da Arttribune.com