03/06/2012 08:33 am ET

Happy Birthday, Michelangelo!

Today we commemorate the prolific artist Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, aka Michelangelo, on what would have been his 537th birthday. What makes Michelangelo's legacy so endearing is the fact that the man tackled just about everything he put his mind to. From painting the Sistine Chapel to the sculpture of "David" and the construction of St. Peter's Basilica, Michelangelo was an artist that knew no bounds; he was (do we say it?) a "Renaissance man."

Michelangelo broke his family's banking tradition by developing an early interest in art. The young painter became an apprentice to Domenico Ghirlandaio at 13, which was, at the time, rather late for an apprenticeship. However, his late start meant little after falling in favor with the Medici's of Florence, who saw to it that the budding artist got a steady stream of commissions.

Michelangelo holds the unique distinction among artists of being revered while he was still alive. He is the first Western artist to have a biography published during his lifetime; in fact, two rival biographies were published as it is believed that Michelangelo was not satisfied with how he was depicted in the initial biography. For an artist responsible for some of the crowning cultural achievements of the Western world, it's understandable that he might display some diva-ish qualities when it came to the biography.

View a slideshow of some of the primo uomo's most famous works below. Happy Birthday, Michelangelo!