Michelangelo, An old man wearing a hat (Philosopher), a pen and brown ink drawing

Rome, Italy
About 1495-1500

Michelangelo (1475-1564) would have been in his early twenties when this drawing was executed. Two tones of ink - brown and a greyish colour - have been used, and blank paper provides the highlights in the figure's draperies. Michelangelo may have been inspired by the intense contrasts of lighting used by his tutor, Domenico Ghirlandaio, in the painting of drapery in some of his panel paintings.

The extensive use of crosshatching - a technique used only sparingly by Ghirlandaio - gives this figure great sculptural solidity. The identity of the pensive figure is unknown, although the shell attached to his peaked hat indicates that he is a pilgrim. The object in his hands, perhaps a skull or casket, suggests that he might be one of the Magi adoring the newborn Christ.

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Michelangelo, An old man wearing a hat (Philosopher), a pen and brown ink drawing

Michelangelo, Philosopher, c1495-1500, pen and brown ink


More information


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


Height: 33.100 cm
Width: 21.500 cm

Museum number

PD 1895-9-15-498



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