- Museum number
A right arm with raised palm, to front
- Production date
Height: 112 millimetres
Width: 155 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Wilde 80 is a fragment cut from a larger sheet, drawn in the soft black chalk characteristic of Michelangelo`s later drawings. The arm was first drawn more bent, then shifted to the l. and the open hand extended upwards, Michelangelo`s subsequently reinforcing the contour of the inner forearm in its final position (the initial placing of the arm is seen in the vertical stroke breaking the contour on the underside of the arm). Similarly reworked is the outer contour of the shoulder, within which the artist focused on the articulation of the muscles and bones under the skin. In contrast to the varied pressure and strengthened strokes of the contours, the underarm is shaded in widely spaced and broad stokes of the chalk, uncrossed. The arm was no doubt drawn from a posed and muscular male model, although this does not mean that the destined figure was necessarily male since it was Michelangelo`s usual practice to use a male model in preparation for a female subject.
The drawing was linked to the `Last Judgement`, and thus dated c. 1534-41, until Wilde noted that the motif does not appear in the fresco, and for whom the style of the drawing recalled Michelangelo's latest surviving studies of the nude, especially the ex-Gathorne-Hardy study of a male torso (Corpus 382), and a fragmentary sheet in the Casa Buonarroti (Corpus 378 recto) depicting - in remarkably abbreviated form in hard black chalk - a head and torso seen from above. Barocchi (1962) concurred with Wilde`s assessment, noting how these drawings anticipate the `sfaldamento chiaroscurale, tutto vibrazione` (`a fracturing chiaroscuro, all vibration`) of the last Crucifixion drawings. For Hirst (1988) these drawings are extremely late, closer to 1560 than 1550.
Although the precise destination of Wilde 80 is unknown, a similar arm motif is seen in the Ashmolean drawing representing `The Risen Christ Appearing to his Mother` (Corpus 400), and Wilde noted the similarity of Wilde 80 to the l. arm of the Virgin in Venusti`s `Annunciation` destined for S. Maria della Pace in Rome, based on a `cartonetto` (small cartoon) now in the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York (Corpus 399), and that of the r. arm of the praying Christ in Venusti's `Gethsemane` panel, equally based on a cartonetto, now in the Uffizi (Corpus 409). Michelangelo produced another drawn version of the `Annunciation` for Venusti (Corpus 393 in the Uffizi), from which Venusti derived the altarpiece surviving in S. Giovanni in Laterano. Wilde 80 might be thought a better match with the Virgin`s raised r. arm in Uffizi cartonetto, although the Virgin`s palm is not turned outwards - but the study offers an still closer comparison with the raised r. arm of the statuette of Moses, present in both `Annunciation` cartonetti, highly finished in the Uffizi version, abbreviated in the one in the Pierpont Morgan Library.
Lit.: J. Wilde, 'Italian Drawings in the BM, Michelangelo and His Studio', London, 1953, no. 80, p. 119; L. Dussler, 'Die Zeichnungen des Michelangelo', Berlin, 1959, no. 303 (ascribed to Michelangelo), p. 170; C. de Tolnay, `Michelangelo V: the Final Period`, Princeton, 1960, no. 206, p. 199; P. Barrochi, `Michelangelo e la sua scuola: i disegni di Casa Buonarroti e degli Uffizi`, Florence, 1962, under no. 149 (= Corpus 378), pp. 187-8; Ibid., exhib. cat., Casa Buonarroti, Biblioteca Laurenziana, Florence, `Michelangelo: Mostra di disegni, manoscritti e documenti`, 1964, under no. 153 (= Corpus 378), pp. 72-3; F. Hartt, 'The Drawings of Michelangelo', London, 1971, no. 479; J.A Gere and N. Turner, exhib. cat., BM, London, `Drawings by Michelangelo`, 1975, no. 163; C. de Tolnay, 'Corpus dei disegni di Michelangelo', Novara, 1978, vol. iii, no. 397, p. 59; M. Hirst, `Michelangelo and His Drawings`, New Haven and London, 1988, p. 69; Ibid., exhib. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, `Michelangelo Draftsman`, Milan, 1988, no. 48 (= Corpus 327), p. 116.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1964, BM, Michelangelo, no.82
1975 Feb-Apr, BM, Drawings by Michelangelo, no.163
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- A pen note in the departmental copy of Roger's sale relating to lot 1212: 'Fuseli, This lot contained two small sketches in black chalk on one of which was a sonnet in the hand writing of Michelangelo. It was purchased for the Print Department but the sonnet was handed over to the M.S. Department there not being any autograph of importance by Michelangelo in the Collection there'
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number