- Museum number
A nude man in violent motion; whole-length to front, his arms raised above his head
Black chalk. Red chalk off-set from another drawing has coloured the paper. c. 1555-1560
- Production date
Height: 101 millimetres
Width: 60 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- W73 is a small study in black chalk of a nude man in movement. Berenson and Thode, however, are representative of early opinion in seeing the figure as floating and to be an unused study for the `Last Judgement`. Wilde interpreted the figure as striding forward and related it to the complete study, equally in black chalk, of the Angel Gabriel contained on W72 verso. The leftwards movement of W73 and the lowered arms, the latter drawn in a second moment (Dussler considers them first drawn), correspond closely to the Angel of W72 verso. The style and technique of the two sheets is also analogous although they are to different scales, W72 verso being considerably larger. W73 contains a second significant pentimento in the legs where they are drawn extended. Wilde thus dated the fragment to coincide with W71-2 in the late 1540s.
Dussler (1959) considers the destination of the figure to be uncertain. De Tolnay broadly agrees with Wilde, dating the sheet to 1547, and observes that the composition appears to have been taken up by Michelangelo in the wingless angels within the fresco of the `Conversion of St Paul` in the Pauline Chapel. Hartt notes the affinity of W73 with W71-2, giving a late date range for all three sheets, 1550-60.
Joannides and Burnod (2007) have recently published a related fragmentary drawing. It measures 14.5 x 5 cm and contains four sketches in black chalk by Michelangelo equally divided between the recto and verso. The two on the recto are to the larger scale and represent a nude man rising to the left. They are place one above another, and would appear to have been drawn in immediate sequence. The lower of the two contains a significant pentimento to the r., the outer contour of the r. leg and hip being shifted to the r. and made more curved; in the figure above there is a pentimento in the r. thigh and the figure is more crouched with greater shading in the bend of the torso.
The two figures on the verso are equally placed one above the other and preceded the recto studies, being drawn to a smaller scale and to significantly less elaboration. In contrast to the recto studies, the crouched upper figure on the verso is in movement to the r. and is drawn in contour only. In characteristic style, the head is superimposed on the line of the shoulder. The lower figure is indiscernible in reproduction due to the overlaid red chalk.
The fragment was catalogued by Berenson as no. 1542 and related to the `Last Judgement` ; it was then lost to sight in a private collection. W73 was also connected to the `Last Judgement` by Berenson and catalogued as no. 1510 but he otherwise did not link the two drawings. However, Joannides and Burnod plausibly argue that the fragments derive from the same sheet. The recto drawings of the newly discovered fragment are overlaid by unhatched strokes of red chalk; the verso drawings are equally overlaid by red chalk across its entire surface and with the fragment of a face including half the r. eye to the lower right. Joannides and Burnod justly observe that the overlaid drawing is inconceivable as Michelangelo`s, and that this must have also been the opinion of the collector who cut the drawings. W73 also contains red chalk applied in diagonal lines to the lower r., and more smudged elsewhere, which Wilde understandably considered offset. Cut lines of red chalk to the top of W73 can now be read as once forming an over drawing. W73 is stuck down and, as Joannides and Burnod observe, it is not known whether it contains more of the red chalk face found on the verso of the rediscovered sheet.
The likelihood that the new fragment and W73 derive from the same sheet is reinforced by their congruity of style and motif; for example, they share the characteristic of Michelangelo`s late graphic style whereby the feet are all but left off. W73 would appear a logical development of the motif, double the size of the recto studies on the new fragment. It is still difficult to judge the subject, although Wilde`s assertion that the figure is rising rather than floating is reinforced. Joannides and Burnod suggest the drawings might be preparatory for a Raising of Lazarus, although they note no such commission is recorded for the period.
Joannides and Burnod are inclined to date both fragments later than the date Wilde assigned to W73 of c. 1542-50, drawing a parallel with the sequence across sheets in Oxford and the BM (W76-8) produced by Michelangelo for Marcello Venusti`s composition of the `Christ Purifying the Temple` in the mid-to-late 1550s. In these sheets the figurative motifs are developed in increasing scale across both sides of the sheet in an analogous manner to W73 and the rediscovered sheet. The new date given to W73 on-line is thus 1555-60. Previous to Joannides and Burnod, only Hartt (1971) had dated W73 so late.
Lit.: H. Thode, `Michelangelo: Kritische Untersuchungen über seine Werke`, Berlin, 1913, III, no. 331, p. 141; B. Berenson, `The Drawings of the Florentine Painters`, Chicago, 1938, no. 1510, p. 188; J. Wilde, `Italian Drawings in the BM, Michelangelo and his Studio`, London, 1953, no. 73, p. 113 (with further literature); J. Wilde, `Cartonetti by Michelangelo`, 'The Burlington Magazine', CI, 680, 1959, p. 374; L. Dussler, `Die Zeichnungen des Michelangelo`, Berlin, 1959, no. 321 (ascribed to Michelangelo), p. 176; C. de Tolnay, `Michelangelo V. The Final Period`, Princeton, 1960, no. 223, p. 208; A. Perrig, 'Michelangelo und Marcello Venusti', "Wallraf-Richartz Jahrbuch", XXIV, 1962, pp. 285 ff.; F. Hartt, `The Drawings of Michelangelo`, London, 1971, no. 434, p. 304; J.A. Gere and N. Turner, in exhib. cat., London, BM, 'Drawings by Michelangelo', 1975, no.151, p. 129; C. de Tolnay, `Corpus dei disegni di Michelangelo`, Novara, 1978, III, no. 398; T. Clifford, A. Griffiths and M. Royalton-Kisch, in exhib. cat., London, BM, 'Gainsborough and Reynolds in the BM`, 1978, no. 219b, p. 78; P. Joannides and V. Burnod, `A Drawing by Michelangelo Reappears`, "Master Drawings", XLV, Summer 2007, pp. 236-40
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1964, BM, Michelangelo, no.81
1975 Feb-Apr, BM, Drawings by Michelangelo, no.151
1978, BM, Gainsborough and Reynolds in the BM, no. 219b
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number