New Book Highlights The Lesser-Known Accomplishments Of Michelangelo In His 80s | St. Louis Public Radio

New Book Highlights The Lesser-Known Accomplishments Of Michelangelo In His 80s

Nov 6, 2019

Most people are knowledgeable about the early accomplishments of Michelangelo, like his work on the Sistine Chapel ceiling in his 30s. But the artist and architect worked well into his 80s, at a time when the average life expectancy was about 40 to 45 years. In fact, he was still carving sculptures four days before he died.

William Wallace is an art history professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

The latter part of Michelangelo’s career is the focus of a new book by Washington University art history professor William Wallace. It’s titled “Michelangelo, God's Architect: The Story of His Final Years and Greatest Masterpiece.” 

According to Wallace, one of Michelangelo’s greatest masterpieces is his work as an architect on St. Peter's Basilica. Wallace said Michelangelo knew that he wouldn't live to see the work completed.

“He wanted to do as much as possible to ensure that the dome would get built according to his design, and that’s what he worked to accomplish,” Wallace said. “And he did it. Although he never saw the dome, the dome is his construction, his design; and we call St. Peter’s his church because of the power of his design and the power of his authority for those 18 years when he worked on it.”

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Sarah Fenske talked with Wallace about his latest research on the artist.

Listen to their conversation:

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Tonina Saputo. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

Send questions and comments about this story to