Michelangelo’s studies and sketches: nudes and men’s maliciousness

Michelangelo Buonarroti, schizzi, studi e nudi - sketches, studies and nudes

"Study for the Lybian Sybil", 1511-1512, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Here is a series of studies by Michelangelo: there are tests and sketches, mostly details of manly figures that are now spread in museums and collections of the whole world.

In a 19th-century essay, philologist Sebastiano Ciampi wrote, “Michelangelo loved to portray nudes with the most possible truth in imitating Nature. He preferred to exaggerate it rather than to minimize it; and he showcased it skillfully […]; thus he presented symbolic and ideal naked or semi-naked figures…”

The author of this essay, written in the form of a letter to a friend of his, also adds, “You might remember, dear friend, his answer to the person who asked him on behalf of the Pope to cover up the nakedness in the Sistine Chapel frescos: ‘Tell the Pope this is a small issue that can easily be fixed; if he can fix the world, fixing the painting will take little time’ (Vasari, ‘Vita di Michelangelo’). With these words, he meant to say that evil was not in imitating reality, but in men’s maliciousness” (“Lettera di Michelangiolo Buonarroti pubblicata ed illustrata dal prof. Sebastiano Ciampi”, D. Passigli e socj, Florence 1834).

August 28, 2015