Michelangelo Buonarroti, Four studies of a crucified man, a drawing

Italy, about AD 1510-11

This is a preparatory drawing in red chalk for the figure of the crucified Haman, painted in the corner of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Rome. According to the Old Testament (Esther 7:10), Haman persecuted the Jews and was executed by King Ahasuerus. He is shown crucified at a dramatic angle which prefigures Christ's death on the cross.

The main study to the left concentrates on the body and legs of the figure drawn from a model. Below is a more detailed study for the right foot. At upper right, a looser sketch of the left thigh. To the right a drawing of the figure's left thigh and the awkward angle of the knee and leg. In particular, the muscles are indicated through the light and shade created by the red chalk. Unlike earlier drawings, where the artist used white heightening to suggest light, here Michelangelo has marked those areas with small circles. They are just visible on the main figure's right thigh and more clearly on the thigh of the separate study of the left leg. These circles therefore mark the projected areas of strongest light in the fresco.

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More information


M. Hirst, Michelangelo and his drawings (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1988)

M. Royalton-Kisch, H. Chapman and S. Coppel, Old Master drawings from the M, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1996)

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)


Height: 404.000 mm
Width: 206.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1895-9-15-497 (recto)



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