Michelangelo Buonarroti, Portrait of Andrea Quaratesi, a drawing

Italy, around AD 1532

His only surviving portrait drawing

According to Giorgio Vasari, one of Michelangelo's biographers, he was most reluctant to make portrait drawings 'unless the subject was one of perfect beauty'. This is the only surviving portrait drawing by Michelangelo. Drawn in black chalk, it shows the head and shoulders of a young man, Andrea Quaratesi (1512-85) who was one of several noble youths much admired by Michelangelo. Though from a noble Florentine family, it is possible that Michelangelo tried to teach this young Florentine how to draw, as the artist wrote on a drawing now in Oxford: 'Andrea, have patience'. The young man wears contemporary dress, a cap flat on his head, as he looks out to his left. The drawing is lit from the left so that the delicate shadows are formed by small, careful parallel strokes of chalk.

Michelangelo rarely gave his drawings away, other than to close friends or pupils. He presented these carefully finished 'presentation drawings' only to those whom he admired and loved. In his own words, they were carried out 'for love rather than duty'.

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Michelangelo Buonarroti, Portrait of Andrea Quaratesi, a drawing

Andrea Quaratesi, Michelangelo's favourite pupil

 

More information

Bibliography

N. Turner, Florentine drawings of the six, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1986)

J. Wilde, Italian drawings in the Depa-2 (London, The British Museum Press, 1953)

J.A. Gere and N. Turner, Drawings by Michelangelo in th, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1975)

Dimensions

Height: 410.000 mm
Width: 290.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1895-9-15-519

PDO8222

Location

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