- Museum number
'David' after Michelangelo; nude male standing, seen from behind
Pen and brown ink, over traces of leadpoint
- Production date
- 1505-1508 (circa)
Height: 396 millimetres
Width: 219 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Watermark: scala (ladder).
A drawing after Michelangelo's colossal marble 'David' which was completed c. 1503 and set up in front of the Palazzo della Signoria in May 1504 (for recent information on the dating of the sculpture, see M. Hirst, 'Michelangelo in Florence: 'David' in 1503 and 'Hercules' in 1506', 'The Burlington Magazine', CXLII (August 2000), pp. 487-492). Raphael probably arrived in Florence in 1505 and thus would have seen the 'David' once it was settled on the ringheria of the Palazzo della Signoria.
It has been pointed out that the viewpoint of the drawing is not exactly like the viewpoint of a man standing behind the sculpture. It is drawn from the back left corner of the base, although the neck and shoulders are viewed as from above, which would have been impossible from the perspective of a man standing next to this gigantic sculpture. Scholars have attempted to explain this by pointing out that Raphael could have sketched the sculpture from more than one viewpoint and incorporated the various views into one drawing, but considering Raphael's extraordinary perception of three dimensionality, it should not be discounted that he could have imagined the top of the sculpture as he stood at its base.
While in Florence, Raphael took great interest in the Florentine masters, often copying figures and then interpreting them in his own style. For example, he made a copy of Leonardo's 'Leda and the Swan' in a drawing now in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle (inv. no. 12759, Joannides, cat. no. 98). Michelangelo must have made a big impression on the young Raphael because many of the works of this period are dependent on figures inspired by his sculptures Some of these copies such as the 'Saint Matthew' (BM no. 1855-2-14-1) and the present sheet are fairly literal copies of Michelangelo, albeit infused with Raphael's own style, while others such as Pp 01-65 consider the prototype and adapt it into a new figure based on the original, yet re-invented by Raphael.
Paul Joannides published a copy, perhaps after a lost Bandinelli, in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan after this drawing and a Raphael nude Hercules (his fig. 12).
Another example that shows how this drawing, or a copy of it, must have circulated among artists can be seen in an Italian maiolica plaque (British Museum,1885,0420.1). There, the David appears also seen from its back, but in reverse; see D.Thornton and T.Wilson, 'Italian Renaissance Ceramics: a Catalogue of the British Museum Collection,' vol.I, London, 2009, pp. 246-249, cat. no.150).
Lit.: P. Pouncey and J.A. Gere, 'Italian Drawings in the BM: Raphael and his Circle', London, 1962, no. 15 (with previous literature); J.A. Gere and N. Turner in exh. cat. BM, 'Drawings by Raphael', 1983, no. 39; P. Joannides, 'The Drawings of Raphael', Oxford, 1983, no. 97; E. Knab, E. Mitsch and K. Oberhuber, 'Raphael Die Zeichnungen', Stuttgart, 1983, no. 226; F. Ames-Lewis, 'The Draftsman Raphael', New Haven and London, 1986, pp. 41-43, fig. 43; N. Turner in exh. cat. BM 'Florentine Drawings of the Sixteenth Century', London, 1986, no. 15; D. Cordellier and B. Py in exh. cat. Villa Medici, 'Raphael: Autour des dessins du Louvre', Rome, 1992, p. 84; A. Weston-Lewis in exh. cat. National Galleries of Scotland, 'Raphael: The Pursuit of Perfection', Edinburgh, 1994, no. 15, pp. 50-1; J. Meyer zur Capellen, 'Raphael in Florence', London, 1996, pp. 120-126, no. 66; H. Chapman, in exh. cat. (by H. Chapman, T. Henry. C. Plazzotta et al), London, National Gallery, 'Raphael: from Urbino to Rome', 2004, no. 58; Paul Joannides, 'On, around, and after a new drawing by Raphael', "Master Drawings", XLIII, Fall 2005, p. 361, fig. 10
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1962-1963 Nov-Sep, BM, Raphael and his Circle (P+G)
1986, BM, Florentine Drawings 16thC, no.15
1994 May-July, Edinburgh, NG Scot., Raphael pursuit of perfection, no.15
1983, BM, 'Drawings by Raphael', no.39
1992 Oct-Dec, Norwich, Sainsbury Centre,UEA, 'Florentine Drawings', (no cat.)
1999-2000 Nov-Feb, Sydney, Art Gallery of NSW, 'Drawing the Figure'
2004-2005 Oct-Jan, London, National Gallery, 'Raphael: From Urbino to Rome'
2015 Feb-May, Bonn, Kunst und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 'After Michelangelo: Michelangelo's Influence on European Art'
2017 01 Jun -03 Sept, Oxford, Ashmolean, Raphael: The Drawings
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number