Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian, 1475-1564)
red chalk over black chalk, Sheet: 34.30 x 24.30 cm (13 1/2 x 9 9/16 inches); Secondary Support: 34.40 x 24.40 cm (13 1/2 x 9 9/16 inches). Gift in memory of Henry G. Dalton by his nephews George S. Kendrick and Harry D. Kendrick 1940.465.a
Universally considered one of the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance, Michelangelo devoted four years to painting the vast ceiling fresco in the Sistine Chapel. This preparatory study portrays one of the 20 athletic male nudes, known as ignudi, who serve as supporting figures at each corner of the Old Testament scenes painted down the center of the ceiling. Michelangelo worked out the positioning of the ignudi in red chalk drawings before beginning to paint each section of wet plaster. The energy and monumentality of the figure in red chalk, whose body extends beyond the sheet, suggests the heroic athleticism of Michelangelo’s sculpture.