- Museum number
Studies for a Pietà, after Michelangelo, a grieving figure kneeling to left.; separate studies of heads and hands
Verso: Christ on the Cross
Black chalk. Trimmed on all sides. Second half of the 16th Century
- Production date
Height: 234 millimetres
Width: 234 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- W92 recto is a copy of an autograph drawing in black chalk at Windsor (Corpus 271), an initial idea for a Pietà with which W64 is related. The Windsor sketch is reproduced in W92 recto but in much harder and legible outline. So faint is the original that Berenson (1938) noted that its purpose would have remained obscure if it were not for W92. The extent of the copyist's invention is seen especially in the right arm and hand of the stooping, standing figure where the contours are many times redrawn; this figure is interpreted by Wilde as the Evangelist, to whom the Virgin turns. The anguished, kneeling figure holding Christ's head in his left hand, was subsequently incorporated within the initial sketch (Wilde's interpretation) and worked up by the artist. It is this figure that is reproduced in W64, in slightly more cramped form, pressed close to the Virgin, and to be identified as the Evangelist. This figure was also reproduced by the copyist, although it is executed with more attention to outline than the original, the copyist not attempting to reproduce Michelangelo's drawing technique and indeed elaborating the original, for example, making more complex the folds in the mantel above the thighs.
The subsequent study in red chalk of an outstretched right arm interpreted by Wilde as relating to W64 is not copied, but this need not mean that W92 was copied from a version other than the original. In some areas the copyist seems to have misinterpreted Michelangelo's intentions, thus exaggerating, for example, the width of the Evangelist's right calf. In comparison with W92 recto, the chalk appears softer in the original, and the strokes of the chalk applied consistently.
On the verso there is a copy in black chalk of the feet of the Crucified Christ on the sheet formerly in the Seilern collection, now in the Courtauld (Corpus 420). The quality of this fragmentary drawing is high, the copyist reproducing something of Michelangelo`s technique; it is at right angles to the recto drawing, cut along its right edge - and thus demonstrating that the sheet must have extended considerably in this direction.
Berenson (1938) noted the ascription (inscribed in pen and ink on the old mount) to Daniele da Volterra but considered the copy 'more likely by a later Florentine'. Wilde, in contrast, described W92 recto as a near contemporary copy; the later architectural studies on the verso and the column profile on the recto of the Windsor drawing show that it lay in Michelangelo's studio for many years to which our copyist must have had access.
Lit.: B. Berenson, 'The Drawings of the Florentine Painters', Chicago, 1938, under no. 2506 (= Corpus 217), p. 327; A.E. Popham and J. Wilde (the Michelangelo entries by the latter), 'The Italian Drawings of the XV and XVI Centuries in the Collection of His Majesty the King at Windsor Castle', London, 1949, under no. 433, pp. 256 7 (= Corpus 271); J. Wilde, 'Italian Drawings in the BM, Michelangelo and his Studio', London, 1953, no. 92, p. 126; L. Dussler, 'Die Zeichnungen des Michelangelos', Berlin, 1959, under no. 718 (= Corpus 271), pp. 310-11; C. de Tolnay, 'Corpus di disegni di Michelangelo', Novara, 1978, III, under no. 420, p. 72.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: FAWK,5211.75