- Museum number
Studies for the St Bartholomew in the 'Last Judgement'; the whole, nude figure to the front, omitting the head and the lower part of the the right leg
Verso: Sketches of a male torso and a head
- Production date
Height: 342 millimetres
Width: 262 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- W62 recto represents the study of a male torso, drawn from the model but reminiscent of a study after an antique sculpture. The touch of the black chalk seems almost tremulous in places, Michelangelo's exploring variations of contour rather than pose. The area of the neck is left void and the legs beneath the knee undrawn. Characteristically, Michelangelo has focussed on details in two subsidiary studies to the l., drawn contemporaneously to the main figure: the upper represents a variation on the figure's r. arm, the thumb differently placed; the lower, the r. hip joint, the area in the main study with the most significant pentimenti.
Of the verso drawings, Wilde considers the greatly foreshortened head and neck to be the first drawn, the artist then inverting the sheet to draw the torso study. For Wilde these two studies, which share a considerable twisting movement, are for the same figure. De Tolnay (1960 and 1976) suggests that the contours of the torso appear to have been gone over by a later hand. The upper torso, with indications of the arms, has been all but rubbed out.
Considerations of style and iconography cause Wilde to relate W62 to the figure of St Bartholomew in the Sistine altar wall fresco of the 'Last Judgement', the main recto study appearing to hold a knife in the r. hand corresponding to the instrument of St Bartholomew's martyrdom seen in the fresco. Wilde observes, 'The complex stretching and twisting of the body, so characteristic of Michelangelo's figure style at the beginning of the 1530's, were given up in the figure as executed, and the action of the arms was correspondingly changed'. W62 thus becomes the fourth sheet in the BM's sequence of five related to the 'Last Judgement'. The verso study would appear to be affinitive to the torso study on W61 recto.
Of the critics previous to Wilde, only Frey (1909/11) related W62 to the 'Last Judgement', and then to the figure of Christ. Thode (1913) thought the recto and verso studies unrelated and, with Berenson, left the question of the destination of the studies open. For de Tolnay, W62 is closest stylistically to the drawings for the sculptures for the Sacrestia Nuova in the period 1530 34, 'a causa delle forme agili e flessibili che caratterizzano il corpo'. He interprets the object in the hand of the main recto study as probably representing the baton held in the hands of the Giuliano de'Medici sculpture, its only being partly drawn to allow the study of the anatomy of the abdomen. In this case, the l. hand could be interpreted not as pointing to the chest (Wilde) but as holding the other end of the baton. Joannides (1981) observes that Wilde's linking with the St Bartholomew 'is still the most plausible suggestion, but if it is for the Medici Chapel then it is closest to the Damien.' The verso head is regarded by de Tolnay as sharing an affinity with the soldier to the l. of the risen Christ in W52 and that on a sheet at Windsor (Wilde 432 v).
Although Dussler (1959) concurs with Wilde's analysis of the destination of W62, he judges the quality of its execution as betraying the hand of a studio assistant. In particular he describes the r. arm of the main recto study as being 'stuck' to the torso and the shoulder muscles of the left as being incorrectly positioned, whilst the contours of the verso study are more 'ornamental als organisch klärend'. For Barocchi (1962) both W62 recto and verso possess 'meditate slegatura e preziosità'.
Lit.: K. Frey, 'Die Handzeichnungen des Michelagniolos Buonarroti', Berlin, 1909-11, nos. 229-30; H. Thode, 'Michelangelo: Kristische Untersuchungen über seine Werke', Berlin, 1913, III, no. 298, pp. 121-2; J. Wilde, 'Italian Drawings in the BM, Michelangelo and his Studio', London, 1953, no. 62, p. 102 (with further literature); L. Dussler, 'Die Zeichnungen des Michelangelo', Berlin, 1959, no. 551 (apocryphally ascribed to Michelangelo), pp. 253-4; C. de Tolnay, 'Michelangelo V. The Final Period', Princeton, 1960, no. 161 (recto), 162 (verso), p. 178; P. Barocchi, 'Michelangelo e la sua scuola: i disegni di Casa Buonarroti e degli Uffizi', Florence, 1962, I, under no. 19 (= de Tolnay 141), p. 30; F. Hartt, 'The Drawings of Michelangelo', nos. 385 6; J.A. Gere and N. Turner, in exhib. cat., London, BM, 'Drawings by Michelangelo', 1975, no. 133, p. 117; C de Tolnay, 'Corpus dei disegni di Michelangelo', Novara, 1976, II, no. 221; P. Joannides, Review of 'Corpus...', "The Art Bulletin", 1981, p. 683
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1964, BM, Michelangelo, no. 41
1975 Feb-Apr, BM, Drawings by Michelangelo, no. 133
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number