Pen and brown ink, brush and purple-pink wash with admixtures of white, and brush and brown wash, with graphite underdrawing; squared for transfer with graphite
Sheet: 20.2 x 14.7 cm (7 15/16 x 5 13/16 in.); Secondary Support: 25.7 x 21.3 cm (10 1/8 x 8 3/8 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 2017.5
By the end of the 1500s, Michelangelo’s treatment of the nude male had permeated artistic practice. Some artists (today called Mannerists) began to stray from the master’s grounding in human anatomy, emphasizing instead the expressive potential that Michelangelo brought to bear on the human form. To make an emotional impact, Giovanni de’ Vecchi created fluid figures with exaggerated proportions, such as the central figure of Christ that appears here. De’ Vecchi used pen and purplish watercolor to render the forms of the dead Christ surrounded by Saint John the Apostle, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, the grief-stricken Virgin Mary, Saint Mary Magdalene (at Christ’s feet), and their companions, who adoringly convey his body to the tomb in the upper left. This drawing was preparatory for an altarpiece for the church of Santa Prassede in Rome.
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