- Museum number
Christ at the column; standing whole-length (feet truncated), drapery around the hips. 1516
Black chalk, with some stumping, over stylus underdrawing
- Production date
Height: 274 millimetres
Width: 143 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Like W15, this study was drawn by Michelangelo to assist Sebastiano del Piombo in the composition of 'The Flagellation' which the latter had been commissioned to paint above the altar of the Borgherini Chapel in S. Pietro in Montorio, Rome. It was painted between 1520 and 1524 and is unusual in being a mural executed in an oil medium. Vasari documents Michelangelo's assistance to Sebastiano in the form of preparatory drawings for this and two other painting commissions at this time, 'The Raising of Lazarus' and the 'Pietà'.
Although Wilde in his BM catalogue of 1953 gave the study for a Flagellation (W15) and the two Lazarus studies (W16 and W17) to Michelangelo, he maintained the attribution of this drawing to Sebastiano. In the their BM catalogue of 1962, 'Raphael and his Circle', Philip Pouncey and J.A Gere argued that it was by Michelangelo in line with the other drawings of this series - a judgement with which Wilde by that time concurred. Pouncey and Gere describe the modelling of the torso as 'massive and at the same time infinitely delicate', and see the 'hasty yet powerful indication of the limbs' and 'the exciting way in which the contour of the l. side of the body is searched for by repeated stylus-lines' as further confirming Michelangelo's authorship. This animated use of the stylus strengthens the kinship of this drawing with W15. For de Tolnay the attribution is only probable, his interpreting the double contours differently, as evidence of Sebastiano's having gone over Michelangelo's original sketch. De Tolnay believes that a summary pen drawing on another sheet, now in the Courtauld Institute of Art (de Tolnay 101 verso), provided the impulse for the composition of Christ, this sketch in turn related to the Prisioner sculpture intended for Julius II's tomb. W15A is rare in its use of stumping - as opposed to stippling. This technique is seen in the face, giving the effect of shadow (interestingly, Christ's face is also in shadow in W15 whereas in the altarpiece it is illuminated). For Hirst (1981), the unusual use of stippling is attributable to Michelangelo's desire to 'demonstrate the chief physical accents of the figure [...] in terms which the Venetian could most readily understand'. It is known from the correspondence between the two artists that in the autumn of 1516 Sebastiano was preparing a cartoon for the central mural, his preparation for this included modelling a small-scale clay model of Christ. The very plastic modelling of the torso in this drawing reflects Michelangelo's desire to help Sebastiano, and in order to help his friend he adopts a Venetian 'veiled softness of modelling' (Chapman 2005, p. 147). An overlooked argument in favour of Michelangelo's responsibility is how the pathos of Christ's pose in the drawing is not translated in the finished work. S.J. Freedberg (1963) agreed that this drawing is of the same hand as the other BM drawings of this series but favoured an attribution to Sebastiano's, observing that the Venetian 'could draw in a manner resembling Michelangelo's' and that he did so `in his studies for paintings where (by Vasari's report) he had some form of model from Michelangelo' (1963). Subsequently, however, Freedberg (1993) seems to have distanced himself from his earlier conclusions.
Lit.: J.C. Robinson, 'Descriptive Catalogue of Drawings by the Old Masters, forming the Collection of John Malcolm of Poltalloch, Esq.', London, 1876, no. 365 (as Sebastiano); J. Wilde, 'Italian Drawings in the BM, Michelangelo and his Studio', London, 1953, under no. 15, p. 28; P. Pouncey and J.A Gere, 'Italian Drawings in the BM, Raphael and his Circle', London, 1962, no. 276, pp. 163-5 (with previous literature); S.J Freedberg, 'Drawings for Sebastiano or Drawings by Sebastiano ?: A Problem Reconsidered, "The Art Bulletin", XLV, 1963, pp. 253ff.; J.A. Gere and N. Turner, in exhib. cat., London, BM, 'Drawings by Michelangelo', 1975, no. 38, p. 43; C. de Tolnay, 'Corpus dei disegni di Michelangelo', Novara, 1975, I, no. 74; J.A. Gere and N. Turner, in exhib. cat., New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, 'Drawings by Michelangelo from the BM', 1979, no. 8, pp. 44-5; M. Hirst, 'Sebastiano del Piombo', Oxford, 1981, p. 61, fig. 80; N. Turner, in exhib. cat., BM, 'The Study of Italian Drawings: The Contribution of Philip Pouncey', 1994, no. 26, p. 25; S.J. Freedberg, 'Painting in Italy: 1500-1600', New Haven and London, 1993 (3rd edition), p. 677, n. 78; H. Chapman, in exhib. cat., BM, 'Michelangelo Drawings: closer to the master', 2005, no. 33, pp. 147-8
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1964 BM, Michelangelo, no. 16
1979 New York, Pierpont Morgan Lib, 'Drawings by Michelangelo', no. 8
1994 BM, The Study of Italian Drawings, no. 26
2005/6 Oct-Jan, Haarlem, Teylers Museum, 'Michelangelo Drawings: Closer to the Master'
2006 Mar-Jun, BM, 'Michelangelo Drawings: Closer to the Master'
2008 Feb-May, Rome, Palazzo di Venezia, 'Sebastiano del Piombo'
2017 15 Mar-25 Jun, London, The National Gallery, Sebastiano-Michelangelo
2019 Apr-June, Budapest, Szépművészeti Múseum, The Triumph of the Body
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- According to Gabburri a large part of Cicciaporci's collection of drawings came from the sale in Rome in 1736 by the heirs of the Roman painter Giuseppe Cesari, see M.S. Bolzoni, 'Il Cavalier Giuseppe Cesari d'Arpino, Maestro del disegno: catalogo ragionato dell'opera grafica', Rome, 2013, pp. 148-153
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number