- Museum number
Study for a man rising from the tomb; seen from behind, his hands behind him, supporting his body. 1540
Verso: Studies for a man rising from the tomb; a torso and right arm and two arms
- Production date
Height: 233 millimetres
Width: 293 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The drawings on the recto and verso of this sheet are studies from the life for three figures in the group of the resurrected in the bottom left corner of the altar-wall fresco of the 'Last Judgement' in the Sistine chapel in the Vatican, Rome. It is the fourth of the BM's exceptional sequence of five sheets related to this project. A drawing in the Ashmolean (de Tolnay 361; no. 87 in the 2005 catalogue), analogous in technique and media, contains a study for the fourth main figure of this group.
For Wilde these studies were drawn in close relation to the full-size cartoon required for the corresponding area in the fresco. Nevertheless, the figures as painted show an inevitable diminution of detail and some changes in composition, offering a 'visione più sintactica e schematica sia della luce che del modellato' (de Tolnay). Wilde considers it unlikely that Michelangelo ever produced one cartoon for the whole fresco, drawing instead large sections corresponding to his progress. There is a record of payment for the lowering of the scaffolding in front of the altar-wall dated 15 December 1540, thus providing - Wilde hypothesises - the date for Michelangelo's beginning of this section.
The recto study is placed in the upper part of the sheet and recalls the studies of the mid-1520s for the statuary of the New Sacristy in San Lorenzo, Florence (see W46 verso). The head, of which the face is not drawn, has been cut above the ear by the trimming of the sheet. The subtle tonal modulation across the back and arms (the areas of greatest exertion as the figure lifts himself from the grave) is achieved using the point of the chalk in a way which largely obscures the individual strokes. The curve of the spine is countered by the bulge of the neck as the figure looks upwards. The r leg is left undrawn since, as in the fresco, it is to be imagined still within the grave.
Lines of small circles, a motive also seen in 63* and the Ashmolean sheet of this group, have been drawn in areas left free of shading, descending the figure's r shoulder and arm. Hirst surmises (see W13) that this was a device used by Michelangelo to note the areas of greatest highlight, an alternative to the use of white chalk. It is a motif peculiar to Michelangelo, first seen in the study for the Sistine Haman (W13). Unusually, Michelangelo has added an area of shadow extending beyond the figure, that cast by the l hand. Characteristically, there are many pentimenti, the most noticeable being in the contours of the lower l arm, the l side of the r elbow, the hand beneath, and the outline of the chest to the r. The genesis of this figure is seen on the Windsor sheet (de Tolnay 351) containing numerous compositional studies for this section of the fresco.
The main study on W63 verso is for the shrouded figure to the l of the figure for which the recto is a study. The head is lightly indicated in a few lines, its upwards gaze countering the curve of the torso which strongly recalls the limp body of Christ in images of the 'Lamentation'. For de Tolnay (1960) this figure may have been drawn from a corpse. Beneath is a summary detail study of the same figure's upper body and head in which the l shoulder blade, only indicated in the previously drawn sketch above, is observed in the greatest detail. These two sketches would appear to have been preceded by the two studies, to a larger scale, of a l and r hand and forearm. They correspond closely to the arms of St Stephan the Deacon who appears immediately above the figure for which the main verso image is a study.
Opinion concerning the autograph status of W63, like W61, has not been unanimous: previous to Wilde only Thode and Steinman ascribed the sheet to Michelangelo. Dussler (1959) remained unswayed by Wilde's arguments, his regarding this sheet, as well as W61 and de Tolnay 361 to be studio copies after original drawings by the master. For Dussler, the contours are weak and the long parallel strokes lack spontaneity and strength. De Tolnay, in contrast, regards the handling to be of 'altissima qualità'.
Lit.: J. Wilde, 'Italian Drawings in the BM, Michelangelo and his Studio', London, 1953, no. 63, pp. 102 (with further literature); K.T. Parker, 'Catalogue of the Collection of Drawings in the Ashmolean Museum: Vol. II, Italian Schools', Oxford, 1956, under no. 330 (= de Tolnay 361), p. 170; L. Dussler, 'Die Zeichungen des Michelangelo', Berlin, 1959, no. 563 (apocryphally ascribed to Michelangelo); C. de Tolnay, 'Michelangelo V: The Final Period', Princeton, 1960, nos.185-6, pp. 190-1; P. Barocchi, `Michelangelo e la sua scuola: i disegni di Casa Buonarrotti e degli Uffizi', Florence, 1962, I, under no. 283 (= CB 27F, no de Tolnay no.), pp. 323-4; F. Hartt, 'The Drawings of Michelangelo', London, 1971, nos. 390-1; J.A. Gere and N. Turner, in exhib. cat., London, BM, 'Drawings by Michelangelo', 1975, no.137, p. 121; C. de Tolnay, 'Corpus dei disegni di Michelangelo', Novara, 1978, III, no. 360; P. Joannides, in exhib. cat., Washington, National Gallery of Art and London, Queen's Gallery, 'Michelangelo and his Influence, Drawings from Windsor Castle',1996, under no. 55 (= de Tolnay 351); C van Tuyll van Serooskerken, 'The Italian Drawings of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries in the Teyler Museum', Haarlem, Ghent and Doornspijk, 2000, under no. 64 (= de Tolnay 357); H. Chapman, in exhib. cat., BM, 'Michelangelo Drawings: closer to the master', 2005, no. 86, p. 246; C. Van Cleave, 'Master Drawings of the Italian Renaissance', London, 2007, p. 124, illustrated p. 128; C.C. Bambach, in exhib. cat., New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, ‘Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman & Designer’, 2017, nos 180 (recto) and 181 (verso), p. 307.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1964 BM, Michelangelo, no. 38
1975 BM, Drawings by Michelangelo, no. 137
1980 Adelaide and Melbourne, no. 31
2005/6 Oct-Jan, Haarlem, Teylers Museum, 'Michelangelo Drawings: Closer to the Master'
2006 Mar-Jun, BM, 'Michelangelo Drawings: Closer to the Master'
2012/13, Nov-Apr, Bonn, Treasures
2017, March - May, London, BM, G90a, 'David Hockney: People and Prints'
2017-18 Nov-Feb, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 'Michelangelo Divine Draftsman and Designer' (recto/verso)
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number