Throughout his long life, Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564) never ceased to practice drawing with pen, pencil, or chalk. In the 60 years of creative activity encompassed by this volume, the artist produced scores of sketches, drawings, and studies — nudes, heads, figure studies, Madonnas, anatomical drawings, studies of children and animals, mythical representations, and religious works. This book reproduces 46 of his finest drawings, embodying most of his artistic themes and techniques, and executed in his characteristic media of pen and ink, and red and black chalk. The extraordinary strength, grace, and clarity of his renderings are beautifully illustrated on every page.
The compositions, carefully reproduced on fine-quality paper, range from youthful studies modeled after ancient sculpture and early Renaissance frescoes to the otherworldly religious creations of his old age. Many are preliminary drawings executed in connection with some of his most important commissions: the marble David of 1501–04; the famous cartoon of 1504 for the projected fresco in the Palazzo Vecchio, The Battle of Cascina; the paintings on the vaulted ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, executed 1508–12; and the imposing fresco of The Last Judgment in the same chapel, executed 1535–14; as well as several of the more highly finished allegorical presentation drawings of the early 1530s. In some cases, e.g. The Battle of Cascina, the drawings are all that remain of a lost masterpiece. All drawings are accompanied by brief descriptive captions including date, medium, size, and current location.