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Michelangelo, One kneeling and three seated nude men; A male torso, leadpoint and pen and brown ink drawings

One kneeling and three seated nude men

  • A male torso

    A male torso

 

Height: 18.800 cm (One kneeling and three seated nude men)
Width: 24.500 cm (One kneeling and three seated nude men)
Height: 18.800 cm (One kneeling and three seated nude men)
Width: 24.500 cm (One kneeling and three seated nude men)

PD 1859-6-25-568

Prints and Drawings

    Michelangelo, One kneeling and three seated nude men / A male torso, leadpoint and pen and brown ink drawings

    Rome, Italy
    About 1508

    In 1508 Michelangelo (1475-1564) was commissioned by Pope Julius II to paint the Sistine chapel ceiling in the Vatican palace in Rome. He divided the ceiling - over forty metres long - into nine compartments, filled with scenes of the creation of the world and man's early history.

    One of the most admired and copied elements of the Sistine chapel ceiling were the ignudi - the seated nudes holding swags which keep the bronze medallions upright. Each painted figure has a different pose, although the similarity of the two pairs nearest the entrance wall, surrounding The Drunkenness of Noah, indicates that Michelangelo did not at first envisage such variety.

    This early study for the ignudi most likely dates from the period before the painting had commenced and it shows Michelangelo deliberating over their basic pose. He probably began the sheet on the left with the study of a live model leaning on his right knee, with his right arm raised above his head. The three figures on the right of the sheet are seated as are the ignudi in the fresco.

    Once Michelangelo had settled on having the ignudi seated, he could turn his attention to the specific task of designing the first two pairs nearest the entrance wall. With this in mind he used the other side of the sheet to make a study of a powerfully muscled nude drawn in an unusually greasy black chalk. The drawing is related to the torso of the ignudo to the upper right of the scene.

    H. Chapman, Michelangelo drawings: closer (London, British Museum Press, 2005)

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