7.12.09

Michelangelo's Drawings

Michelangelo Buonarroti. Florentine sculptor, painter and architect, 1475-1564. Known as Il Divino, "the divine one."


1. Studies for Nude Men (One kneeling and three seated), Rome, 1508. Leadpoint and pen and brown ink, 18.8 x 24.5 cm. British Museum, London. This early study for the ignudi most likely dates from the period before the painting had commenced and it shows Michelangelo deliberating over their basic pose. He probably began the sheet on the left with the study of a live model leaning on his right knee, with his right arm raised above his head. The three figures on the right of the sheet are seated as are the ignudi in the fresco. Once Michelangelo had settled on having the ignudi seated, he could turn his attention to the specific task of designing the first two pairs nearest the entrance wall. With this in mind he used the other side of the sheet to make a study of a powerfully muscled nude drawn in an unusually greasy black chalk. The drawing is related to the torso of the ignudo to the upper right of the scene (Hugo Chapman, Michelangelo: Drawings, London: British Museum Press, 2005).
.

2. A male torso (ignudo, verso of the previous leaf), 1508
.

3. Study for Adam, c. 1510-11. Red chalk drawing, 19.3 x 21.9 cm. British Museum, London (London, British Museum, Michelangelo: Drawings, March-June 2006, No. 25). This is the only surviving study for Adam in the Creation of Adam scene on the Sistine ceiling and it was drawn from a live model. According to the Bible, Adam was the first man to be created by God. Michelangelo manages to make the impossible position of Adam's upper body look convincing, because his observation of his muscular form and the play of light on it is compellingly realistic (Chapman).
.

4. Drawing for the Libyan Sibyl, 1511, red chalk done from a male model. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
.

5. Study for Day, c. 1525 (London, British Museum, Michelangelo, 2006, No. 49).
.

6. Study for Seated Male Nude (Ignudo), red chalk (London, British Museum, Michelangelo, 2006, No. 26).
.

7. The Bathers (Battle of Cascina, 1504-5), copy by Bastiano da Sangallo after the lost original, 1542. Holkham Hall, Norfolk
.

8. A seated male nude twisting around, drawing for Bathers in The of Cascina, 1504-5, pen and brown ink drawing with brown and grey wash and lead white (British Museum, London). Michelangelo made this drawing for a scene called Bathers. It was designed as the centrepiece for a never-executed fresco of the Battle of Cascina for the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. The drawing relates to the pivotal seated figure at the centre of the work. A combination of pen and lead white describe the model's glistening limbs in a highly effective way. The figure is of crucial importance in the larger scene because his turning body directs attention to the bodies behind. Close inspection of the figure reveals that, despite the remarkably realistic three-dimensional rendering, his pose is unnatural. This is particularly true of the upper body, which has been twisted to impossible limits (Chapman, Michelangelo, 2005).
.

9. Grotesque Heads, Hercules and Antaeus, 1524-5. Red chalk, black chalk and stylus drawing, 25.5 x 35 cm. British Museum, London. The three grotesque heads are of contrasting character. The one on the left portrays wide-eyed anxiety, that on the right half-witted mischief, while the third one below depicts gloomy lethargy, eloquently expressed by his drooping ears.
Possibly Michelangelo drew these heads for his pupils as amusing models for them to copy. He is not an artist usually associated with light-heartedness but in this case he obviously felt that it was appropriate: he is quoted as saying that such grotteschi should be a source of 'variation and relaxation of the senses'. On the same sheet, the right-hand study of two figures relates to a plan for a gigantic sculpture of Hercules and Antaeus which was never actually made. The artist Antonio Pollaiuolo tackled the same subject sixty years earlier and Michelangelo was aware of his work. The manner in which the two figures are locked together - and particularly Antaeus' desperate push against the top of Hercules' head in his attempt to break free from his grip - is [somehow] reminiscent of a statuette and small-scale panel by Pollaiuolo (Chapman).
.

10. The Fall of Phaeton, black chalk over stylus drawing, 312 x 215 cm. British Museum, London. Michelangelo made this study in black chalk for Tommaso de'Cavalieri, a young Roman nobleman with whom he fell in love during an extended trip to Rome in 1532. He also expressed his feelings for Tommaso - who was forty years his junior - in poetry and letters. That Michelangelo was homosexual is now almost universally acknowledged, but opinion remains divided over whether he ever expressed these desires physically. Love's destructive power is symbolised by Phaeton falling to his death after losing control of the chariot of the sun, borrowed from his father Apollo. He was hit by a deadly lightning bolt from Jupiter, who is shown astride an eagle at the top of the drawing. Below him, his grief-stricken sisters are transformed into poplar trees. Michelangelo's identification with the plunging figure of Phaeton, punished for aspiring to his father's divine realm, is echoed in his poetry, which frequently equates love with fire and burning. The study is inscribed at the bottom with a note written in Michelangelo's hand: 'Messer Tommaso, if this sketch does not please you, say so to Urbino in time for me to do another tomorrow evening, as I promised you; and if it pleases you and you wish me to finish it, send it back to me'. Urbino was Michelangelo's servant Francesco d'Amadore, who took the drawing to Tommaso (Chapman).
.

11. The Rape of Ganymede (copy after lost original), 1532. Pencil. Royal Collection, Windsor Castle
.
Fundamental to Michelangelo's art is his love of male beauty, which attracted him both aesthetically and emotionally. In part, this was an expression of the Renaissance idealization of masculinity. But in Michelangelo's art there is clearly a sensual response to this aesthetic. The artist's expressions of love have been characterized as both Neoplatonic and homoerotic. Recent scholarship seeks an interpretation which respects both readings, yet is wary of drawing absolute conclusions. However, the greatest written expression of Michelangelo's love was given to Tommaso de Cavalieri (c. 1509–1587), who was 23 years old when the artist met him in 1532, at the age of 57. Cavalieri himself was open to the older man's affection: "I swear to return your love. Never have I loved a man more than I love you, never have I wished for a friendship more than I wish for yours" (c. 1532-5). Cavalieri remained devoted to Michelangelo until his death. The artist dedicated to him over three hundred sonnets and madrigals, constituting the largest sequence of poems composed by him.
.

12. Study for The Last Judgement: A Flying Angel and Other Studies, c. 1534-36. British Museum, London. In 1534 Michelangelo returned to Rome, where he spent the last thirty years of his life. He had been invited back by Pope Clement VII to paint the altar wall in the Sistine chapel. The resulting work, his Last Judgement, was a highly original, if controversial, masterpiece. The Last Judgement was a common theme in church art, but Michelangelo's interpretation was new and, to some members of the church, very shocking. His Apocalypse is filled with muscular naked figures and dynamic, often violent, action. Although he took great care to strip the nude figures of their sensuality, calls for censorship meant that drapery was painted on some of the figures after Michelangelo's death. After the Last Judgement, Pope Paul III asked Michelangelo to paint the Pauline chapel in the Vatican Palace. These frescoes - the last he painted - were finished in 1550 when he was aged seventy-five. After this he worked mainly as an architect, an area he was involved in from 1546 when Paul III asked him to complete the Farnese Palace in Rome. However, it was the building of St Peter's that occupied him most, and his design for the basilica is one of his greatest achievements. Michelangelo continued to work to within a week of his death at the age of eighty-eight. He left extremely detailed documentation of his life - about 1400 letters along with hundreds of notes of his expenses and financial transactions - providing a unique insight into his daily life (Chapman).
.
Credits. Images: 1-3, 5-6, 8-10, 12. British Museum; 4, 7, 11. Wikipedia. The paragraph about the artist's sexuality is based on the information provided by Wikipedia (7.12.2009). For a discussion, see Robert Liebert, Michelangelo: A Psychoanalytic Study of his Life and Images, New Haven and London: Yale UP, 1983.

1 comment:

Gina desde el Centro said...

Miguel Angel: Un gigante. No se puede agregar nada realmente. Es insuperable. Gracias.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...