Michelangelo and pupil, Girl with a spindle, a black chalk drawing

Florence, Italy
About 1525

Michelangelo (1475-1564) was not known as a great teacher. He preferred to be viewed as a solitary self-taught genius who had neither the time nor the inclination to run a workshop. In this sense he was very different from his rival, the artist Raphael (1483-1520), who set up perhaps the most creative and productive studio in sixteenth-century Rome.

However, Michelangelo did attempt to pass on his skills as a draughtsman to a group of pupils and assistants. Most of his pupils were mediocre and this drawing seems to demonstrate that. Michelangelo began the sheet by drawing a profile head. One of his pupils then made a partial copy of such ineptitude that Michelangelo was moved to cover it up. This masking operation inspired Michelangelo to sketch a fancifully dressed woman seated in a high-backed chair. The poor sketch was incorporated into the left sleeve of the now seated figure and the nose, eye and chin of the earlier study can still be seen faintly.

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More information


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


Height: 28.800 cm
Width: 18.200 cm

Museum number

PD 1859-6-25-561



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