Michelangelo may have been a titan of the arts during the High Renaissance, but in person the Italian sculptor, painter and architect may have been surprisingly short.
Experts from the Forensic Anthropology, Paleopathology, Bioarchaeology (FABAP) Research Center in Sicily studied shoes thought to have belonged to the artist.
They found that the artist — famous for works including his sculpture of David and the painting of the Sistine Chapel — stood at no more than 5 feet 3 inches.
The study is the first ever to try to estimate the physical characteristics of the great artist based on measurements of personal effects.
Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Experts from the Forensic Anthropology, Paleopathology, Bioarchaeology (FABAP) Research Center in Sicily studied three shoes (pictured) thought to have belonged to Michelangelo
They found that the artist (depicted in this portrait) — famous for works including sculpture of David and the painting of the Sistene Chapel — stood at no more than 5 feet 3 inches
The study — the first to try to estimate the physical characteristics of the great artist based on measurements of personal effects — was undertaken by palaeopathologist Francesco Galassi and forensic anthropologist Elena Varotto of the FABAP research centre. Pictured: Ms Varotto takes measurements of the shoes in the Casa Buonarroti museum, Florence
According to the researchers, the finding of their study matches contemporary descriptions of Michelangelo's physique.
The 16th century artist and writer Giorgio Vasari — who acted as Michelangelo's biographer — wrote: 'He was of mediocre stature, broad in the shoulders, but well proportioned to the rest of his body.'
Mediocre, here, would have been used in its Latin-derived meaning — that of being 'average' or 'mean'.
The study was undertaken by palaeopathologist Francesco Galassi and forensic anthropologist Elena Varotto of the FABAP research centre.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
The duo studied three shoes left in Michelangelo's Florence home after his death — a pair of leather shoes and a single leather slipper — and preserved for posterity, along with the property, by the artist's great nephew, Michelangelo Buonarroti the Younger.
(The companion of the lone slipper was reportedly stolen from the Casa Buonarroti museum on January 14, 1873.)
The fact that all three pieces of footwear — and presumably the missing slipper in the pair, as well — were the same size suggests that they were all worn by one man, and they have long been regarded as having been worn by Michelangelo himself.
However, the team acknowledged, it is also conceivable that they may have belonged instead to another in the artist's household, such as a contemporary family member or even a descendent.
The team used a previously established formula to estimate stature from the dimensions of the foot — both length and breadth.
On average, the shoes were around 8.7–9.1 inches (22–23 cm) long.
Based on their measurements, the duo concluded that Michelangelo (or, at least, the owner for the shoes) likely stood at around 5 feet 3 inches, or 160.3 centimetres.
While this would be considered somewhat short for a European man of today, such a stature would have been quite average for a man like