In 1527, the citizens of Michelangelo's native Florence expelled the ruling Medici family and installed a republican government. Despite being in the employ of the Medici Pope Clement VII, Michelangelo backed the republican cause and was appointed Chief of Fortifications. He took the job seriously, suspending work on the Medici Chapel and devoting himself entirely to the defense of Florence. His bulwarks later proved a significant obstacle when the Pope's forces arrived to reclaim the city, and Florence survived 10 months under siege before finally falling in August 1530.
Michelangelo had a special relationship with Vittoria Colonna, who lived in a convent but often went to Rome to visit Michelangelo and discuss with him poetry and religion. She inspired some of Michelangelo's finest poetry and several of his images of Mary are believed to be based on her appearance. It was a terrible blow to him when she died in 1547.
Beginning in 1505, Michelangelo worked for nine consecutive Catholic pontiffs from Julius II to Pius IV. His breadth of work for the Vatican was vast, and included everything from crafting ornamental knobs for the papal bed to spending four grueling years painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
The Deposition (also called the Florentine Pietà or The Lamentation over the Dead Christ) depicts four figures: the dead body of Jesus Christ, Nicodemus, Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary. The face of Nicodemus is generally considered to be a self-portrait of Michelangelo. According to Vasari, the artist made this sculpture to decorate his own tomb.