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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site

 

Ideal head of a woman by Michelangelo, a black chalk drawing


Michelangelo, Head of a woman


Height: 28.700 cm
Width: 23.500 cm

PD 1895-9-15-493


Sophisticated studies of profile heads, such as this one, were created by Michelangelo as works of art in their own right. He probably made this highly polished drawing as a gift for a close friend. It shows an idealised female beauty who, in keeping with Michelangelo's ideal of beauty, has rather masculine features.

The intricate arrangement of the woman's plaited hair, which flows out of the side and back of her bizarrely strapped helmet, is reminiscent of earlier Florentine portraits. Michelangelo may have been influenced by works from the 1470s, including a painting of Cleopatra by Piero di Cosimo and Leonardo's exquisitely worked studies of heads, including his early metalpoint depiction of a leonine warrior.

The lower left corner of the sheet has been cut, perhaps because there was a desirable small study on the verso, and a small section at the top is also missing (this is shown in old copies such as one at Windsor).