- Museum number
The Medici tombs in the New Sacristy: a study for one of the Ducal wall-tombs. 1520-1
Black chalk; an old brown-ink stain, showing through from the verso
Verso: Two vases and the outline of a male figure; handwriting
Black chalk; pen (the handwriting)
- Production date
Height: 294 millimetres
Width: 209 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The recto study on this sheet, the third of the BM's sequence of studies for the Medici tombs to be sited in the Sacrestia nuova (New Sacristy), represents the elevation of a wall tomb, elaborately composed in the form of a façade. It is the first drawing clearly associated with the Ducal tombs and is close to the form in which they were carried out. Like W26, this study takes into account the wall recesses in which the tombs were to be placed: to the top l. is seen project into the study a corner of the l.-hand flanking Corinthian pilaster in pietra serena. Unlike earlier, quattrocento solutions to tomb architecture, Michelangelo conceives the tomb as an integral part of the wall against which it is placed and for which, as architect, Michelangelo was also responsible.
The study is drawn in black chalk in free-hand with remarkable exactitude, Michelangelo's rapidly altering the pressure of application; the initial lines are lightly drawn (and remain so in the r.-hand half since, the tomb being symmetrical, only one half required detailed elaboration), areas of interest, the sarcophagus, the sculptures, the first storey niche and flanking architecture, being emphasized in thick, re-drawn lines. W27r was made after the final disposition of wall monuments in the Sacrestia had been decided, the two Dukes each receiving a single tomb in the central bay of each side wall, the Magnifici a double tomb in the central bay of the entrance wall opposite the altar.
As Hirst (1988) notes, the drawing is still exploratory and drawn in free hand, there being significant changes made in the definitive design, the height of the lower and main storey, for example, being increased at the expense of the attic and the side sections widened at the expense of the central one so that the sarcophagus cuts into the side sections. The reclining figures of 'Rivers' (so called by Michelangelo himself see the working drawings of a River God on W35) were intended to the very last to be placed either side of the plinth of the sarcophagus. Neither these nor the standing figures intended for the tabernacles of the main storey were in fact executed. De Tolnay suggests that this study may be for a double tomb (either for the Dukes or the Magnifici), his noting the similarity of the figure in the panel to the l. of the sarcophagus to the sculptures of the dukes as executed. Both Wilde and de Tolnay date this drawing to before April 1521 when Michelangelo travelled to Carrara to finish his working drawings and modelli and order the marble for the tombs.
On the verso, with the sheet turned upside down, are drawn an amphora and an urn. De Tolnay suggests that they were studies for the vases above the lateral entrances to the chapel. To the r. of the vases is a rapidly drawn sketch of the upper part of a male nude in profile. Its attribution to Michelangelo has not been questioned and Wilde concurs with Berenson in regarding it as probably being connected with Michelangelo's marble sculpture of 'Victory' planned for the lower storey of the Julius monument. Dussler upholds this view. The fragments of sonnets were deciphered and published by Frey, 'Die Dichtungen des Michelangelo Buonarroti', Berlin, 1897, nos. xix xxi.
Lit.: J. Wilde, 'Italian Drawings from the BM, Michelangelo and his Studio', London, 1953, no. 27, pp. 53 6 (with previous literature); L. Dussler, 'Die Zeichnungen des Michelangelo', Berlin, 1959, no. 151, pp. 95-6; P. Portughesi and B. Zevi, 'Michelangelo Architetto', Turin, 1964, p. 151; F. Hartt, 'The Drawings of Michelangelo', London, 1971, no. 291; P. Joannides, 'Michelangelo's Medici Chapel: Some New Suggestions', 'The Burlington Magazine', CXIV, 833, August 1972, pp. 541-51, fig. 44; J.A. Gere and N. Turner, in exhib. cat., London, BM, 'Drawings by Michelangelo', 1975, no. 50, p. 55; C. de Tolnay, 'Corpus dei disegni di Michelangelo', Novara, 1976, II, no. 185; N. Turner, in exhib. cat., London, BM, 'Florentine Drawings of the sixteenth century', 1986, no. 73, p. 107; M. Hirst, 'Michelangelo and his Drawings', New Haven and London, 1988, p. 99, fig. 206; G.C. Argan and B. Contardi, 'Michelangelo architetto', Milan, 1990, pp. 175-81, figs 229 and 231; A. Morrogh, 'The Magnifici Tomb: A Key Project in Michelangelo's Architectural Career', "The Art Bulletin", LXXIV, 4, December 1992, pp. 567-98, fig. 9; P. Joannides, in exhib. cat. (S. Androsov and U. Baldini eds), Florence, Casa Buonarroti and St Petersburg, Hermitage, 'L'Adolescente dell'Ermitage e la Sagrestia Nuova di Michelangelo', 2000, no. 18, pp. 120-22; H. Chapman, in exhib. cat., BM, 'Michelangelo Drawings: closer to the master', 2005, no. 41, pp. 172-3 (recto) and 165-6 (verso)
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1964 BM, Michelangelo, no. 27
1975 BM, Drawings by Michelangelo, no. 50
1986 BM, Florentine Drawings 16thC, no. 73
2000 May-July, Florence, Casa Buonarroti, 'L'Adolescente dell'Ermitage...'
2000 Sep-Nov, St Petersburg, Hermitage Museum, 'L'Adolescente dell'Ermitage..., no. 18
2005/6 Oct-Jan, Haarlem, Teylers Museum, 'Michelangelo Drawings: Closer to the Master'
2006 Mar-Jun, BM, 'Michelangelo Drawings: Closer to the Master'
2013-4, Nov-Mar, Bonn, Kunsthalle, 'Florence!'
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number