Did Michelangelo Have Gout?

Robert S. Pinals, MD; Naomi Schlesinger, MD


J Clin Rheumatol. 2015;21(7):364-367. 

In This Article

Michelangelo's Lifestyle and Personality

Michelangelo was completely devoted to his art and withdrawn from social interactions. He held strong religious beliefs and read the scriptures, upon which much of his art was based, but had little interest in ceremonial practice. He stayed in contact with his family and wrote regularly when he was not in Florence.[9] He was moody and suspicious and often had outbursts of anger. His first biographers, Vasari[4] and Condivi,[5] both his apprentices, described him as a workaholic, who needed very little sleep or food. His meals were often a little bread and wine, which could be consumed without interrupting his work. He never married, nor did he have children, remarking that "….the work I leave behind will be my sons."[4] Frequently, he appeared to be depressed. One report analyzing his psyche concluded that he may have had Asperger syndrome, or high-functioning autism.[10] Michelangelo's papal sponsors were often very demanding and seemingly unconcerned about his welfare, but in 1531, Pope Clement who, as Giulio de Medici, had been his childhood friend, noticed his anxiety and suggested that he relax more often and go for a walk occasionally. However, the advice went unheeded.