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drawing

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1859,0625.564

  • Description

    A group of three nude men, one seen from behind; study of the Virgin and Child Black chalk (nude men); pen and brown ink over a sketch in leadpoint (Virgin and Child). Unrelated marks. 1503-4 Verso: Studies of a man seen from behind; two studies of children/putti; a study of a man's left leg; sonnet verses Black chalk (the man); pen and dark brown ink over traces of lead point (the putti); pen and light brown ink (the left leg and the sonnet verse); lead point (the fragments of a sonnet)

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  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1503-1504
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 315 millimetres
    • Width: 277 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Verso inscribed in pen in the artist’s hand: ‘Sol io arde[n]do all ombra mi rima[n]go / qua[n]d el sol de suo razi el mondo spoglia / ogni altro p[er] piaciere p[er] doglia / prostrato in terra mi lame[n]to e pia[n]gho’ (‘I alone keep burning in the shadows/when the sun strips the earth of its rays;everyone else from pleasure, and I from pain, prostrate upon the ground, lament and weep.’ Trans. J.M. Saslow, ‘The Poetry of Michelangelo’, Yale and London, 1991, no. 2) ; six lines in lead point of a sonnet, barely decipherable, ‘...ch(e) febo alle ... nora ...’; ‘Amicho’
  • Curator's comments

    Like the figure on W4 recto, the group on the recto and the nude on the verso are connected with the `Battle of Cascina', these two studies being amongst the earliest surviving chalk drawings by Michelangelo. The nude on the verso, first drawn on the sheet, is a sketch for the r.-hand figure in the recto group and like the central figure inspired by Antique statuary, here, the `Horse Tamers' on the Quirinal. Wilde notes that the oblique parallel lines to either side of the central figure on the recto could - and have been - interpreted as representing wings. Michael Hirst (1986) believes that the central figure of the recto group was conceived independently before Michelangelo linked it with the two other figures. Konrad Oberhuber (1992) has related a figure on the verso of a recently attributed sheet at the Fogg Art Museum to the figure striding into depth on the verso and recto of this sheet. The verso sketch is to a larger scale than its correspondent on the recto and has numerous pentimenti, especially in the lower half. It includes, roughly indicated, the centre and l.-hand figure of the recto group. A more highly finished drawing, also in black chalk, of this three-figure group is in the Louvre (de Tolnay 47). The Virgin and Child in pen and brown ink and at right angles to the Cascina group is a study for the Bruges Madonna, Hirst describing the drawing's `econony of contour' as suggestive of a work to be hewn from a block (Hirst, 1988, p. 33). In the preliminary lead point sketch beneath, the Christ Child's r arm rests on the Virgin's r leg (this is extremely difficult to perceive), De Tolnay writing that `il pentimento si può spiegare con il interessse di Michelangelo di fissare il movimento'. The sketches in pen and ink to the l and r are studies of the same child seen from the front and back - above the figure to the r are trials of the pen in the same ink incorporating the word `amicho'. The uncrossed hatching gives a powerful sense of the modulation of surface, and coincides with Wilde's assessment that they are studies - together with the drawings of women and children on W4 verso - for the infant Christ in the Bruges group and the infants Christ and St John the Baptist in the RA Taddei tondo. Judging from their position to either side of the sheet, the two putti were drawn later than the figure between them. With the sheet turned a hundred and eighty degrees is the pen and ink study of a l. leg, very different from the flanking putti in technique, being executed in long pen strokes of uneven tone and showing the skeletal system beneath. Wilde calls the study `écorché', considering it `more an exercise in anatomy than a study for any definite figure'. For Carmen Bambach (1997), Perrig's attribution (1991) of the verso of this sheet to Benvenuto Cellini is `baffling, especially in view of Wilde's fine summaries of the Michelangelo inscriptions, dating, and design context'. See W4. Lit.: J. Wilde, `Italian Drawings in the BM, Michelangelo and his Studio', London, 1953, no. 5, pp. 10-14 (with previous literature); L. Dussler, `Die Zeichnungen des Michelangelo', Berlin, 1959, no. 162, p. 103; C. de Tolnay, `Corpus dei disegni di Michelangelo', Novara, 1975, I, no. 46; J.A. Gere and N. Turner, in exhib. cat., London, BM, 'Drawings by Michelangelo', 1975, no. 6, p. 17; J.A.Gere and N. Turner, in exhib. cat., New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, 'Drawings by Michelangelo from the BM', 1979, no. 2, pp. 20-3; M. Hirst, `I disegni di Michelangelo per la `Battaglia di Cascina' (c. 1504),' in E. Borsook and F. Superbi Gioffredi (eds), `Tecnica e stile: esempi di pittura murale del Rinascimento italiano', Milan, 1986, pp. 43-9; M. Hirst, 'Michelangelo and his Drawings', New Haven and London, 1988, pp. 27, 33-4; A. Perrig, 'Michelangelo's drawings: the science of attribution', New Haven and London, 1991, fig. 76 (verso, as Benvenuto Cellini); K. Oberhuber, `A Newly Found Drawing for the Battle of Cascina', in C. Hugh Smyth (ed.), 'Studies in the History of Art. 33. Michelangelo Drawings', Washington, 1992, pp. 39-41; H. Hirst and J. Dunkerton, in exhib. cat., London, The National Gallery, 'Making and Meaning: the Young Michelangelo', 1994, no. 20; C. Bambach, `A Review of A. Perrig, "Michelangelo's drawings..."', "Master Drawings", XXXV, 1997, pp. 67-72; H. Chapman, in exhib. cat., BM, 'Michelangelo Drawings: closer to the master', 2005, no. 14, pp. 75, 90-1 (recto) and pp. 90-1 (verso); H. Chapman and M. Faietti, exhib. cat., BM, London, `Fra Angelico to Leonardo: Italian Renaissance Drawings`, 2010, no. 95, pp. 296-7 (cat. entry C. Casoli); C. Bambach, review of A. Perrig, `Michelangelo`s Drawings. The Science of Attribution` in `Master Drawings`, vol. 35, no. 1 (1997), p. 68 (entire article: pp. 67-72).

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  • Bibliography

    • Turner 1986 12 bibliographic details
    • Wilde 1953 5 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (Italian Roy XVIc)

  • Exhibition history

    1964 BM, Michelangelo, no.6 1975 Feb-Apr, BM, Drawings by Michelangelo, no. 6 1979 Apr-Jul, New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, 'Drawings by Michelangelo from the British Museum', no.2 1986 BM, Florentine Drawings 16thc. 1994/5 Oct-Jan, London, National Gallery, 'The Young Michelangelo' (no. 20)
    2005/6 Oct-Jan, Haarlem, Teylers Museum, 'Michelangelo Drawings: Closer to the Master'
    2006 Mar-Jun, BM, 'Michelangelo Drawings: Closer to the Master'
    2010 April-July, BM, `Fra Angelico to Leonardo`, no.95
    2011, March-June, Uffizi, Florence, 'Figure, Memorie, Spazio: Disegni da Fra'Angelico a Leonardo', no.95

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1859

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number

    1859,0625.564

A group of three nude men, one seen from behind; study of the Virgin and Child  Black chalk (nude men); pen and brown ink over a sketch in lead point (Virgin and Child). Unrelated marks. 1503-4  Verso: Studies of a man seen from behind; two studies of children/putti; a study of a man's left leg; sonnet verses  Black chalk (the man); pen and dark brown ink over traces of lead point (the putti); pen and light brown ink (the l leg and the sonnet verse); lead point (the fragments of a sonnet)

Recto

A group of three nude men, one seen from behind; study of the Virgin and Child Black chalk (nude men); pen and brown ink over a sketch in lead point (Virgin and Child). Unrelated marks. 1503-4 Verso: Studies of a man seen from behind; two studies of children/putti; a study of a man's left leg; sonnet verses Black chalk (the man); pen and dark brown ink over traces of lead point (the putti); pen and light brown ink (the l leg and the sonnet verse); lead point (the fragments of a sonnet)

Image description

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