Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer will be on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from Nov. 13 through Feb. 12. The exhibition will present 128 of his drawings, three of his marble sculptures, his earliest painting, and his wood architectural model for a chapel vault. A substantial body of complementary works by his teachers, associates, pupils, and artists who were influenced by him or who worked in collaboration with him will also be displayed for comparison and context.
A towering genius in the history of Western art, Michelangelo was celebrated during his long life for the excellence of his disegno, the power of drawing and invention that provided the foundation for all of the arts. For his mastery of drawing, design, sculpture, painting, and architecture, he was called Il divino (“the divine one”) by his contemporaries. His powerful imagery and dazzling technical virtuosity transported viewers and imbued all of his works with a staggering force that continues to enthrall us today, according to the museum.
“This is an exceptionally rare opportunity to experience first-hand the unique genius of Michelangelo,” says Daniel H. Weiss, president and CEO of The Met. “The exhibition will display the magnificent beauty of Michelangelo’s works in order to deepen our understanding of his creative process.”
Selected from 50 public and private collections in the United States and Europe, the exhibition will bring together the largest group of original drawings by Michelangelo ever assembled for public display. Many of the drawings rank among the greatest works of draftsmanship produced. Extraordinary and rare international loans will include the complete series of masterpiece drawings he created for his friend Tommaso de’Cavalieri and a monumental cartoon for his last fresco in the Vatican Palace, according to The Met.
The exhibition will trace Michelangelo’s life and career, beginning with his training as a teenager in the workshop of Ghirlandaio and his earliest painting, The Torment of Saint Anthony (1487–88), and first known sculpture, Young Archer (ca. 1490). It will move on to the commission of his colossal marble sculpture David in 1501, the early planning of the Tomb of Pope Julius II, and the monumental project of painting The Last Judgment on the Sistine Ceiling.
An entire gallery will be devoted to the Sistine Ceiling and will include Michelangelo’s original studies for the project.
Other sections will explore his portraiture and the beautiful finished drawings he created for close friends; his collaboration and friendship with Venetian artist Sebastiano del Piombo (1485/86–1547); and the drawings and poetry he created for the young nobleman Tommaso de’Cavalieri, whom he met in 1532 and who became a life-long friend. The artist’s last decades in Rome are reflected in the last part of the exhibition and will include, in addition to architectural drawings, the enormous cartoon (full-scale drawing) he prepared for the Crucifixion of Saint Peter fresco in the Vatican Palace, as well as a rare three-dimensional model for the vault of a chapel.
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