Michelangelo worked on a number of projects across his career where a main structure was built first, with areas left free for later free standing decorative items, just like Night as shown here. Some of these projects included tombs and altarpieces and frequently required a number of different sculptors' input, particularly when things took longer than initially expected. Night itself was formed entirely from marble and this was Michelangelo's preferred material for a large part of his career. The artist would have been around fifty years old at the time of this work, and his reputation already well established right across the country.
Florence would become the centre of the Italian Renaissance and so it is entirely fitting that a number of Michelangelo's original artworks still remain there today. He was one of the three true masters of this period, though there was also a number of key figures elsewhere at around this time across in Northern Europe where a similar level of artistic innovation was being displayed. Joining Michelangelo within what we now refer to as Italy were Leonardo da Vinci, a highly regarded painter and inventor, as well as Raphael who produced many extraordinary portraits within his short life. Some of the latter's highlights included the likes of School of Athens, Stanza della Segnatura and Disputation of the Holy Sacrament.
Night was just one part of Michelangelo’s work for the Sagrestia nuova (New Sacristy). He also produced Day, Dawn and Dusk. These were all planned as complementary pieces, just as he had completed a series of figure sculptures of saints for the Piccolomini Altarpiece. Having completed the four sculptures, they would all then be placed at the tomb of Giuliano di Lorenzo de' Medici, Duke of Nemours, with Night positioned on the left hand side. Thankfully, this display can still be seen today and in the years that have passed since the sculptures were originally completed, several well known cultural figures have made reference specifically to Night within their own musings.