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Visualizing the Invisible in Michelangelo's Drawings at Casa Buonarroti

Stylus drawings: Ignudi / San Lorenzo

The two stylus drawings on sheet AB,IV,22 were sketched at the lower edge of a letter sent to his brother Buonarroto “by sculptor Michelangelo in Rome, in July I know not which day” [1511]. They were traced on a blank sheet which was then turned over and used as a letter and thus trimmed to the height of the heads of the two figures and folded for sending. These are two preparatory drawings for the pair of Ignudi in the first arch of the Sistine Chapel near the wall with the Last Judgement: the figure on the left appears almost identical to the one in the chapel, whereas the figure on the right represents a significant variation.
Some architectural drawings have also been traced with a stylus on bifolio AB,V,6 and, as in the previous case, these sketches were done before the sheet was reused to draft a letter, in this case the very famous letter sent to Domenico Buoninsegni on 2 May 1517, in which Michelangelo declared that “this work of the façade of San Lorenzo is the mirror of architecture and sculpture of all Italy.” Here too the marks are reversed with respect to the writing and appear to be trimmed because a large part of the sheet was cut away. The sketches represent the molding of a base (the highly sophisticated one on the doric lesene of the Colosseum, taken from the Codex Coner and drawn on sheet 2 A verso of the Casa Buonarroti) and a plan drawing with a pair of columns, perhaps studies for the foundations of the structure, similar to those in sheet 113 A at the Casa Buonarroti. On the surface of the page we can see the so-called “transportation points” used to transfer measurements and traces from one sheet to another, while the regular row of four dots under the molding rather seems to indicate a metric scale of four arms.


Buonarroti Archive, IV, 22 recto, Letter by Michelangelo to Buonarroto with studies in stylus for the Ignudi of the Sistine Chapel, 1511; pen and ink, stylus (215 x 222 mm); visible light.

Buonarroti Archive, IV, 22 recto, Letter by Michelangelo to Buonarroto with studies in stylus for the Ignudi of the Sistine Chapel; grazing light.

Buonarroti Archive, IV, 22 recto, Letter by Michelangelo to Buonarroto with studies in stylus for the Ignudi of the Sistine Chapel; grazing light (reversed with respect to the previous one).

Buonarroti Archive, IV, 22 recto, Letter by Michelangelo to Buonarroto with studies in stylus for the Ignudi of the Sistine Chapel; detail with grazing light on the stylus marks.

Buonarroti Archive, IV, 22 recto, Letter by Michelangelo to Buonarroto with studies in stylus for the Ignudi of the Sistine Chapel; redrawing of the stylus marks.

Comparison between the stylus sketches of AB, IV, 22 recto and two Ignudi of the first arch near the Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel (photographs by Anderson (details), before 1900, KHI, inv.nr. 116425/37636, silver-gelatine print/albumin print).

Buonarroti Archive, IV, 22 recto; backlit.

Buonarroti Archive, IV, 22 verso; pen and ink, seal; visible light.

Buonarroti Archive, V, 5 recto, Draft letter by Michelangelo to Domenico Buoninsegni, 2 May 1517; pen and ink (315 x 217 mm); visible light.

Buonarroti Archive, V, 5 verso - 6 recto; visible light.

Buonarroti Archive, V, 6 verso (overlaid on paper 5 verso), Beginning of a draft letter by Michelangelo to Domenico Buoninsegni with stylus marks for the façade of San Lorenzo, 2 May 1517; pen and ink, stylus (135 x 217 mm); visible light.

Buonarroti Archive, V, 6 verso, Beginning of a draft letter by Michelangelo to Domenico Buoninsegni with stylus marks for the façade of San Lorenzo; grazing light.

Buonarroti Archive, V, 6 verso, Beginning of a draft letter by Michelangelo to Domenico Buoninsegni with stylus marks for the façade of San Lorenzo; grazing light with redrawing of the stylus marks.

Buonarroti Archive, V, 6 verso; backlit.




© KHI in Florence | 18.09.2019 00:42:18