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Study of a male nude
16th Century
Born 1475 Italy, Died 1564
Study of a male nude
[Studio per un nudo maschile 32 F]
red chalk on paper
13.9 x 19.6 cm  [HxW]
Casa Buonarroti, Firenze

The Casa Buonarroti collection of Michelangelo drawings in Florence is the largest of its kind in the world. It consists of over two hundred items carefully preserved down the centuries by the artist’s direct descendants. The collection includes the Study of a Male Nude displayed here (inv. no. 32 F).

The masculine figure is vigorously drawn in red chalk, with a rapidly sketched head, and it was connected in 1953 by Johannes Wilde (pp. 87–91) to a group of preparatory studies for a portrayal of the Resurrection of Christ on which, the scholar maintains, Michelangelo spent much time between 1532 and 1533 (cf. entry no. 3). Many have agreed with this hypothesis, even though there are also different suppositions: it was originally thought, for example, that it may have been intended for a tympanum to be frescoed in the New Sacristy of San Lorenzo in Florence, on which Michelangelo worked for ten years, as from 1524. The Resurrection studies have been attributed an earlier date in order to refer them to the Resurrection of Christ which Sebastiano del Piombo (c. 1485–1547) was to have painted in the Chigi Chapel of Santa Maria della Pace in Rome (cf., again, entry no. 3). Some have even considered this to be a sketch for a final drawing which was to have been given as a present. In 1945, Carlo Gamba (pp. XXVIII–XXXII) suggested that these studies by Michelangelo might have been made for a Resurrection fresco for the entrance wall of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican: the original painting of this subject, made between 1481 and 1483 by Domenico Ghirlandaio, had been irremediably damaged in 1522 by the collapse of the wall. This hypothesis, which had long been neglected, was recently put forward again by Paul Joannides.

Pina Ragionieri

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