Colnaghi Foundation Journal 02 - Page 159

MICHELANGELO / Two drawings
MICHELANGELO / Two drawings
Fig. 8 / Unidentified
draughtsman after
Michelangelo, Christ on
the Cross, black chalk, 29.2
x 22.7 cm, Paris, Musée du
Louvre, Département des
Arts Graphiques.
Fig. 7 / Michelangelo, Christ
on the Cross Between the
Virgin and Saint John, ca.
1555 and ca. 1560, black
chalk and body-colour, 38.2
x 21 cm, Windsor Castle,
The Royal Collection.
Fig. 9 / Unidentified
draughtsman after
Michelangelo, Christ on
the Cross, black chalk,
37.6 x 24.5 cm, Present
whereabouts unknown.
planning a painting of the subject as an altarpiece for
the Capella Paolina to be executed by another, perhaps
Marcello Venusti.7
been able to compare them directly. Their existence
demonstrates that, in addition to making full replicas,
copyists were allowed to extract single figures.
The appearance of this copy, of considerable interest in
itself, compels me to correct an error in my catalogue
of drawings by and after Michelangelo in the Louvre.
In discussing a drawing of the Crucified Christ (fig. 8) as
an isolated figure, I dated it to the 1540s and assumed
it to be complete; Charles de Tolnay had reached a
similar conclusion, so I was at least in good company.8
Now, however, it has become clear that this and a
second, virtually identical, drawing – long known from
an outline engraving by Landon, but which reappeared
only in 2006 (fig. 9) – are both partial copies from
the Windsor drawing before Michelangelo erased the
figure of Christ.9 The two copies seem to be by the
same hand, that of Giulio Clovio, although I have not
Giulio’s copies (see figs. 8 & 9) show Christ’s forms
in higher definition than one would expect from an
original by Michelangelo of ca. 1550-1560, and it is
likely that he sharpened them. The same is true of
the new drawing, in which Saint John and the Virgin
are also drawn with considerably greater precision
than those figures on the Windsor original, which
Michelangelo did not re-model. It follows, as a general
principle, that we must be careful in estimating the date
of an original from a copy: we are so accustomed to
seeing near-facsimiles of Michelangelo’s most highly
finished drawings that we may be too ready to accept
the accuracy of copies made after drawings that
Michelangelo brought to a lesser degree of finish.


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