"I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." - Michelangelo

At a Glance

  • Live online
  • 2 hours a week
  • Wednesdays 18:00 - 20:00
  • 5 weeks: July to August
  • Tutor: Leslie Primo
  • Fees from £60 to £105
  • Imperial College attendance certificate (T&Cs apply)
Booking link


Michelangelo Buonarotti (1475-1564): The Life of the Divine Painter, Sculptor and Architect

During the Renaissance just one artist achieved immeasurable fame within his lifetime and would tower over all artists for the rest of his life and for centuries thereafter. That artist was Michelangelo Buonarotti. No artist before had been so naked in his ambition, so much so that he would invent the modern superstar celebrity artist, and in doing so would set the standard so high that all subsequent artists would struggle to emerge from his vast shadow.

This series of lectures will unpack this long and extraordinary life starting from his very early days and upbringing, shedding light on how his early childhood and family circumstances fuelled his relentless work ethic and fierce hatred of rival artists. The series of lectures will conclude with the triumph of the Sistine Chapel, the tragedy of the Papal Tomb of Julius II, and finally his intimate personal relationships played out through his ‘Presentation drawings’, his final works and the legacy of his art.

Online Access to Course

This is a taught live online course which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time on a specific day of the week. To take part in the course you will need a suitably equipped and internet-enabled device with a microphone (built in or separate). Headphones generally improve the sound quality and tend to reduce distortion and echo significantly.. Please find full details and instructions below under 'Course Delivery'.

Attendance Certificate

Those who attend at least 80% of the course sessions will receive an attendance certificate from Imperial College London upon completion of the course.

Course Information

Course Programme

Session 1 (28th July) – Michelangelo - first works: The Emergence of the Painter:

Michelangelo’s emergence as a painter is examined in this session; looking at his earliest paintings (both housed at the National Gallery in London) from the point view of subjects and techniques.  These works will be compared to the influences Michelangelo gleaned from artists of an earlier generation and his fast-emerging use of different mediums and his growing confidence in this area of work.

Session 2 (4th August) - Michelangelo: The Fame Establishing Sculptural Works:

In this session we will not only look at the two of Michelangelo’s greatest sculptural works – The Pieta and David and the circumstances surround their commissioning, but also the early works that led up to these iconic works and his prodigious sculptural output that ran concurrently with these extraordinary works.

Session 3 (11th August) - Michelangelo: Rivalry, Competition and the Battle of Cascina:

Michelangelo’s great battle project is examined in this session with an in-depth look at the surviving drawings, their place and use in the proposed fresco and the varied mediums used by Michelangelo.  This session will also look at the competition amongst artists in Florence and Rome, and the influence Michelangelo’s drawings had on other artists, and how Michelangelo use these drawings in competition against his rivals.

Session 4 (18th August) - Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel Projects:

The Sistine Chapel projects was one of the most significant projects of Michelangelo’s career, but how the circumstances come about to enable his to gain such a lucrative commission, what was his relationship with the notorious Julius II – the famed Pope that commissioned this iconic ceiling. This session will look at all the surviving drawings for this project and how they relate to the ceiling, the circumstances, scheme, ideas and execution of the ceiling project.  The session will then look at the later part of this project – the back wall Last Judgement fresco; the execution and the subsequent controversy surrounding this part of the project.

Session 5 (25th August) - Michelangelo: Final Days and Final Works:

At the very end of Michelangelo’s life, he returned to his first love – sculpture, producing a few pieces, some of which were left in an unfinished state at the time of his death. This session will examine those pieces and their relationship with Michelangelo’s late drawings.

Additional Reading

There is no compulsory reading required for this course, and there is no set course text.

About Your Tutor

Photograph of Leslie Primo

Your tutor for this course will be Leslie Primo. Leslie is a highly experienced and well-known art historian who has appeared on television & radio and who has also lectured at organisations including the National Gallery in London and Wallace Collection.

You can read more about your tutor at: Leslie Primo's website

Twitter: artfirstprimo     

Blog: artfirstprimo

Course Fees and Rate Categories

HoursWeeksStandard RateInternal RateAssociate Rate
10  5  £105 £60 £80
All fee rates quoted are for the whole course.
Term dates 1

Fee Categories and Discounts

Standard Rate

  • Applicable to all except those who fall under the Internal Rate or Associate Rate category, respectively.

Internal Rate

  • Applies to current Imperial College students and staff (incl. Imperial NHS Trust, Imperial Innovations, ancillary & service staff employed on long-term contracts at Imperial College by third-party contractors).
  • Current Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication (CLCC) staff, current CLCC PhD students, Science Communication (Sci Comm) postgraduate students, and students enrolled on an Imperial College 'Language for Science' degree programme should email evening eveningclass@imperial.ac.uk before completing the online enrolment form.

Associate Rate

  • Students (non-Imperial College)
  • Alumni of Imperial College and predecessor colleges and institutes
  • City & Guilds College Association members
  • Members of the Friends of Imperial College
  • Francis Crick Institute staff, researchers and students
  • NHS staff (other than Imperial NHS Trust staff)
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council staff
  • Harrods staff
  • Historic Royal Palaces staff
  • Natural History Museum staff
  • Science Museum staff
  • South London Botanical Institute Members
  • Victoria and Albert Museum staff
  • Royal Geographical Society staff
  • Royal College of Art and Royal College of Music tutors and other staff
  • Santander Bank staff (Imperial College Walkway branch only)
  • Austrian Cultural Forum staff
  • Staff of Exhibition Road Cultural Group (Discover South Kensington) organisations
  • Lycee Charles de Gaulle staff
  • Tutors and other staff of other universities and higher education institutions
  • Tutors and other staff of institution members of the Association of Colleges
  • Residents of postcodes SW3, SW5, SW7, SW10 and W8
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Members of the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI)

Late enrolment

It is possible to enrol on many CLCC Evening Class and Lunchtime Learning programmes after the course has started. For non-language courses this is subject entirely to agreement by the tutor. For language courses it is subject to agreement by the language Coordinator conducting level assessment. If you want to join a course late do bear in mind there might be work you will need to catch up on, particularly in language courses.

Applicable terms & conditions

Please read these before enrolling on any course.

Term Dates

HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer termSummer School
 10  5 n/a n/a n/a w/c 26 Jul - w/c 23 Aug 2020 (5 weeks)

Certificate of Attendance

Our adult education evening and daytime classes do not offer academic credits, but we do offer an attendance certificate to those learners who attend at least 80% of the taught sessions. Eligible learners receive their certificate by email after the end of the course.

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment starts 18 June

Enrolment and payment run through the Imperial College eStore. Please click on the blue booking link on the relevant course page noting below instructions:

  • Our rate categories are explained on the course page and your applicable rate category must be selected on the eStore
  • First-time eStore users please create an account by entering an email address and password. These credentials should also be used for future bookings. Imperial College users please note the eStore is not a single-signon College system
  • The booking process involves entering payment details after your course choice and applicant details are collected via an in-built questionnnaire
  • The following email notifications are sent:
What is sentWhen is it sentWhat does it contain
1. Payment confirmation Is sent instantaneously following submission of your online application
  • This is a receipt for your payment and includes payment date, order number and course title
  • Confirmation of your place on your chosen course will follow later
2. Enrolment confirmation Is sent within 10 working daysPlease treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received
  • Re-confirms your course choice
  • Shows your course's term dates
  • Confirms the day and time of your course
3. Programme information Is usually sent on Friday late afternoon the week before term starts
  • Contains joining instructions for your course, incl. tutor contact details
If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756

Any Questions?

Questions regarding the content and teaching of this course should be sent to the course tutor, Mr Leslie Primo at artfirstprimo@gmail.com

If you have enjoyed this course, why not look at other arts and humanities evening class courses at Imperial College. This includes courses on the history of western art from ancient Greece to the nineteenth century, Understanding Modern and Design, the history of film and cinema and Greek and Roman mythology in art. We also run practical courses in art and photography and creative writing classes, and a growing programme of science based evening classes.