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Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564)

Daniele da Volterra (Daniele Ricciarelli) (Italian, Volterra 1509–1566 Rome)

Date:
probably ca. 1544
Medium:
Oil on wood
Dimensions:
34 3/4 x 25 1/4 in. (88.3 x 64.1 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Gift of Clarence Dillon, 1977
Accession Number:
1977.384.1
  • Gallery Label

    This unfinished portrait has recently been identified as the work of Daniele da Volterra, Michelangelo's faithful follower and the author of a bronze bust of the great Florentine artist. Indeed, an inventory drawn up after Daniele's death lists "a portrait of Michelangelo on panel." It was probably painted about 1545, when Michelangelo would have been seventy. It was the source for numerous copies.

    The portrait looks unfinished, but Daniele has fully described the sculptor's features and his left hand, almost as though recalling Michelangelo's notion that, "It is necessary to keep one's compass in one's eyes and not in the hand, for the hands execute, but the eye judges."

  • Catalogue Entry

    When this work was first published in the nineteenth century it was considered a self-portrait by Michelangelo (De Romanis 1823), an attribution that persisted into the twentieth century, although Gaetano Milanesi (1882) and others (Knapp 1912, Garnault 1913) ascribed it to Francesco Salviati (1510–1563). Gaetano Guasti (1893) was the first to identify it with a portrait of Michelangelo by Jacopino del Conte (1515–1598) mentioned by Giorgio Vasari in his Lives of the Artists (1568, p. 258), and this association was taken up by most later scholars. Recently, however, Andrea Donati (2010) has convincingly attributed the painting to Daniele da Volterra, dating it 1544. By the 1530s, Daniele had left his native Tuscany for Rome, where he fell under the influence of Michelangelo, becoming a loyal disciple and close friend. At the end of his life, Daniele was hired by Pope Paul IV to paint over the nude bodies in Michelangelo's fresco of "The Last Judgment" in the Sistine Chapel, for which he earned the nickname "Il Braghettone" (the breeches maker).

    Donati's attribution is based in part on the composition of the Holy Family visible in x-rays underneath the unfinished portrait (see Images), which seems to relate to a painting by Daniele in the d'Elci collection, Siena. Donati also identifies the picture with a work included in Daniele's inventory of 1566. The painting may subsequently have passed to Fulvio Orsini (1529–1600), an antiquarian and collector who was employed by the Farnese family in Rome, eventually becoming the tutor of Odoardo Farnese (1573–1626), to whom he bequeathed most of his collection. Orsini's inventory of 1600 includes a portrait of Michelangelo attributed to Jacopino del Conte. Inventories of the Palazzo Farnese of 1644 and 1653 include self-portraits of Michelangelo, one of which could also be the Museum's picture. The painting is next heard of in the nineteenth century, when it was said to have been bought by baron Alquier in Naples (De Romanis 1823), where the Farnese collection had been transferred in the eighteenth century. After the painter Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780–1867) saw the picture in 1852 in the Chaix d'Est-Ange collection in Paris, he praised it as a self-portrait by Michelangelo in a letter now in the Museum's collection (1977.384.2; see Images).

    This portrait of Michelangelo is the prototype for numerous images of the Florentine master (Du Teil 1913 and Donati 2010). Since it was, for no apparent reason, left unfinished, the portraits that depend from it show various attempts to deal with the unpainted torso. One copy known as the Strozzi or Uffizi portrait, now in the Casa Buonarroti, Florence, was formerly considered the primary version by some authorities.

    [2011]

  • Technical Notes

    X-radiography clearly shows that underlying the portrait is a painting of the Holy Family. Indeed, the image of this earlier composition dominates the x-radiograph (see Images) in relation to the image of the portrait. On the left side, the Child half-stands on His mother’s lap, one leg raised, looking out at the viewer. The Virgin’s right hand supports his right arm; in her left hand she holds an open book, its cover facing outwards. In contrast to the frank sweetness of the Child, the Virgin’s countenance is somber and contemplative, her gaze apparently directed towards the book. Joseph, on the right of the composition, looks over her shoulder at the open pages. The ghostly presence of the earlier composition can be seen from the surface, in the unfinished areas of the portrait: the contour of the Child’s legs and torso, his left eye, the Madonna’s hands, and, more faintly, Joseph’s head.

    [Charlotte Hale 2010]

  • Provenance

    ?Daniele da Volterra, Rome (until d. 1566; inv., 1566); ?Fulvio Orsini, Rome (until d. 1600; inv., 1600, no. 57); ?Cardinal Odoardo Farnese, Rome (1600–d. 1626); ?Farnese family, Palazzo Farnese, Rome (1626–at least 1653; inv., 1644, no. 3085 or 4335; inv., 1653, no. 257 or 285); baron Charles-Jean-Marie Alquier, Vilvorde, near Brussels, and Paris (purchased in Naples; by 1807–d. 1826); Monsieur Symonet (attorney for Alquier's estate; 1826–36); Gustave Chaix d'Est-Ange, Paris (1836–d. 1876); his son, Gustave Chaix d'Est-Ange, Paris (from 1876); his widow, Mme Gustave Chaix d'Est-Ange, Paris (in 1913); Chaix d'Est-Ange collection (until 1934; collection sale, Galerie Jean Charpentier, Paris, December 11, 1934, no. 29, as attributed to Michelangelo, for Fr 205,100 to Weiller); [Sidney Weiller, from 1934; sold to Dillon]; Clarence Dillon, Paris, later Far Hills, N.J. (mid-1930s–1977)

  • Exhibition History

    New York. Pierpont Morgan Library. "Drawings by Michelangelo, from the British Museum," April 24–July 28, 1979, not in catalogue.

  • References

    Inventory of Daniele da Volterra. April 5–6, 1566, f. 778r [Archivio di Stato di Roma, "Miscellanea Corvisieri", fascicolo 50; published in Donati 2010, pp. 330–31], lists "un ritratto di michelagnolo [sic] in un quadro di legname", probably this work.

    Inventory of Fulvio Orsini. 1600, no. 57 [published in Pierre de Nolhac, Gazette des beaux-arts, 2nd per., 26 (May 1884), p. 433; and Pierre de Nolhac, Mélanges d'archéologie et d'histoire 4 (1884), p. 175], as "Quadro corniciato di noce col ritratto di Michelangelo, di mano del medemo" [i.e., Jacopino del Conte], possibly this picture.

    Inventory of the Farnese Palace and other properties in Rome. 1644, p. 165, no. 3085, or p. 236, no. 4335 [Archivio di Stato, Naples, Archivio Farnesiano, 1853 (II), fasc. VIII; published in Jestaz 1994], as "Un quadretto in tela, cornice di noce vecchia, ritratto di Michelangelo Buonarota" (no. 3085) or "Un quadretto in tavola con cornice di noce con il ritratto di Michel Angelo Bonarota di mezzo tempo, mano dell'istesso" (no. 4335), one of which may be this picture.

    Quadri di Palazzo Farnese di Roma. 1653, no. 257 or 285 [Archivio di Stato di Parma, Raccolta manoscritti, n. 86; published in Giuseppe Bertini, "La galleria del duca di Parma: storia di una collezione," (1987), pp. 212–13], as "Un ritratto di Michelangelo Bonarota in tavola cornicetta di noce mano del d.o." (no. 257) or "Un quadretto in tavola con il ritratto di Michelangelo Bonarota fatto dall'istesso, cornice di noce" (no. 285), one of which is possibly this work.

    Filippo De Romanis. Letter to Clemente Cardinali. June 10, 1823 [published in "Alcune Memorie di Michelangelo Buonarroti da' mss," Rome, 1823, pp. 5–6], recounts Jean Baptiste Wicar's description of this painting as a Michelangelo self-portrait that is only partially rendered in color and has an incomplete Holy Family in its underpainting; states that it was acquired by the cavaliere Alquier in Naples.

    Domenico Moreni. Illustrazione storico-critica di una rarissima medaglia rappresentante Bindo Altoviti opera di Michelangelo Buonarroti. Florence, 1824, pp. XXVII–XXVIII, cites Wicar's identification and attribution of this portrait.

    Domenico Campanari. Ritratto di Vittoria Colonna...dipinto da Michel'Angelo Buonarroti. London, 1850–53, p. 22 n. [see Steinmann 1913, p. 26, cited as 1854 ed.], cites this painting as a Michelangelo self-portrait.

    Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. Letter to Varcolier. January 10, 1852 [published in Dacier 1920], praises it as a self-portrait by Michelangelo.

    Giorgio Vasari. Le vite de' più eccellenti pittori, scultori, ed architettori. 7, 1906 ed. Florence, 1882, p. 331, attributes this portrait, then in the Chaix d'Est-Ange collection, to Salviati.

    Gaetano Guasti. Il ritratto migliore e autentico di M. Buonarroti. Florence, 1893, pp. iii–iv n.1, pp. xii–xiii, mentions an unfinished portrait of Michelangelo that was bought in Naples by cavalier Alquier; notes Milanesi's attribution to Salviati, but quotes Vasari's statement that the portrait is by Jacopino del Conte.

    Cornelio von Fabriczy. "Mittheilungen über neue Forschungen:Ueber ein Bildniss Michelangelo's." Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 17 (1894), p. 333.

    Joseph Du Teil. "La collection Chaix d'Est-Ange." Les Arts 6 (July 1907), p. 6, ill. p. 4, calls the picture a Michelangelo self-portrait and discusses its provenance.

    Ernst Steinmann. "Zur Ikonographie Michelangelos." Monatshefte für Kunstwissenschaft 1, nos. 1–6 (1908), pp. 50, 52, fig. 3, considers it the prototype for most portraits of Michelangelo, including the Uffizi portrait (now Casa Buonarroti), but makes no attribution.

    Henry Thode. Michelangelo, Kritische Untersuchungen über seine Werke. Berlin, 1908, vol. 2, p. 548, no. XXXVIII, says that there is no doubt that the Uffizi portrait is based on this one.

    Fritz Knapp. Michelangelo: des meisters Werke. 4th ed. Stuttgart, 1912, p. 165, ill. (detail, frontispiece), calls it the best portrait of Michelangelo and attributes it to Salviati.

    Joseph Du Teil. "Essai sur quelques portraits peints de Michel-ange Buonarroti." Mémoires de la Société Nationale des Antiquaires de France 2 (1913), pp. 184, 186–89, 191 n. 1, 193–220, 222, 224, figs. 11, 15, 25 (overall and details), considers it a self-portrait by Michelangelo; illustrates three engravings after it (figs. 30–32), and a sketch made during the nineteenth century after the Holy Family underpainting (fig. 19).

    Paul Garnault. Les Portraits de Michelange. Paris, 1913, pp. 154–59, considers it a copy of the Uffizi portrait, which he attributes to Jacopino del Conte and dates about 1544–45; tentatively suggests Salviati as the author of this painting.

    Ernst Steinmann. Die Porträtdarstellungen des Michelangelo. Leipzig, 1913, pp. 23–26, pls. 8, 9B, attributes this portrait to Jacopino del Conte and observes that it may have been the portrait of Michelangelo by this artist listed in the 1600 inventory of Fulvio Orsini's possessions.

    Ernst Steinmann. "Ein Michelangelo-Bildnis in der Stadtbibliothek zu Breslau." Monatshefte für Kunstwissenschaft 8 (1915), p. 432, repeats his attribution to Jacopino.

    Émile Dacier. "Les portraits peint de Michel-Ange." Revue de l'art 37 (January–May 1920), pp. 61–62, ill. p. 59 (detail) and opp. p. 60 (overall), pp. 186–88, supports du Teil's attribution to Michelangelo; publishes the Ingres letter of 1852.

    Hermann Voss. Die Malerei der Spätrenaissance in Rom und Florenz. Berlin, 1920, vol. 1, pp. 144–45, considers it without doubt the portrait of Michelangelo by Jacopino del Conte mentioned by Vasari, and calls the Uffizi portrait a replica.

    Jean Alazard. Le portrait florentin de Botticelli à Bronzino. Paris, 1924, p. 164.

    [André Dezarrois] Musée de Saint-Omer. La Collection du Teil [and] Chaix d'Est-Ange: peintures, objets d'art, ameublement. Saint-Omer, 1925, pp. XX–XXII, XXXVII, considers it a self-portrait by Michelangelo.

    Ernst Heimeran Friedrich-Alexanders-Universität Erlangen. Michelangelo und das Porträt. 1925, pp. 55–56, 60–61, rejects Steinmann's identification of this portrait as the prototype for other likenesses of Michelangelo; doubts the attribution to Jacopino, and considers the Uffizi portrait of higher quality.

    Odoardo H. Giglioli. "Ritratto d'uno Scarlatti dipinto da Jacopo del Conte." L'arte 29 (1926), p. 65, fig. 2, calls it Jacopino's portrait of Michelangelo.

    Carlo Gamba. "Un ritratto poco noto di Michelangiolo." Rivista d'arte 11 (1929), p. 66, argues that it was painted by Jacopino in Rome about 1540, under the influence of Salviati and Bronzino.

    A[dolfo]. Venturi. "La pittura del Cinquecento." Storia dell'arte italiana. 9, part 6, Milan, 1933, pp. 219, 221–22, fig. 128, attributes it to Jacopino, about 1535, and considers it the prototype for all other versions.

    Ludwig von Baldass. "Ein beachtetes Bildnis des Michelangelo." Pantheon 28 (July 1941), p. 281, cites it as Jacopino's portrait of Michelangelo mentioned by Vasari and painted shortly after 1538.

    Federico Zeri. "Salviati e Jacopino del Conte." Proporzioni 2 (1948), p. 182, attributes it Jacopino and considers the Uffizi portrait a mediocre copy.

    Charles de Tolnay. "Note on an Unpublished Portrait of Michelangelo." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 35 (1949), p. 449 n. 5, calls it a copy after a lost portrait by Jacopino.

    Federico Zeri. "Intorno a Gerolamo Siciolante." Bollettino d'arte 36 (April–June 1951), p. 140, dates it about 1537.

    Craig Hugh Smyth. "Bronzino Studies." PhD diss., Princeton University, 1955, p. 261 n. 2, ascribes it to Jacopino's "moderate, monumental style of interim mannerism," i.e., the 1530s.

    Giorgio Vasari. La vita di Michelangelo. Milan, 1962, vol. 4, p. 1739, calls it the one that Vasari mentions as by Jacopino; dates it about 1535.

    Deoclecio Redig de Campos. "Das Porträt Michelangelos mit dem Turban von Giuliano Bugiardini." Festschrift für Herbert von Einem zum 16. Februar 1965. Berlin, 1965, p. 50, refers to it as Jacopino's original portrait of Michelangelo.

    Josephine von Henneberg. "An Unknown Portrait of St. Ignatius by Jacopino del Conte." Art Bulletin 49 (June 1967), p. 140 n. 9, as by Jacopino; suggests that Michelangelo's pose was adopted from his portrait by Jacopino in his frescoes for San Giovanni Decollato, Rome, in 1535.

    Iris H. Cheney. "Notes on Jacopino del Conte." Art Bulletin 52 (March 1970), p. 38 n.51, calls it a Jacopino of the 1530s.

    S. J. Freedberg. Painting in Italy: 1500 to 1600. Harmondsworth, England, 1971, p. 501–2 n. 23, as by Jacopino; notes that it must predate his trip to Florence in 1547.

    Charles de Tolnay. Alcune recenti scoperte e risultati negli studi Michelangioleschi. Rome, 1971, p. 19, mentions a group of portraits of Michelangelo, all with identical compositions, of which the prototype is attributed to Jacopino.

    Charles de Tolnay. "Ein unbekanntes Porträt des Michelangelo." Festschrift Luitpold Dussler. Munich, 1972, pp. 205, 208 n. 1, lists it as attributed to Jacopino.

    Francis Haskell. Rediscoveries in Art: Some Aspects of Taste, Fashion and Collecting in England and France. Ithaca, N.Y., 1976, p. 32, observes that although it was once considered to be a self-portrait by Michelangelo, it "proves to have been little more than a copy of a fairly well-established prototype probably by Jacopino del Conte".

    Federico Zeri. "Rivedendo Jacopino del Conte." Antologia di belle arti no. 6 (May 1978), pp. 118–19, tentatively dates it about 1535.

    Keith Christiansen in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1975–1979. New York, 1979, p. 48, ill., ascribes it to Jacopino del Conte, observing that the Holy Family, partly visible beneath the portrait and fully revealed in x-rays, is manifestly inspired by Michelangelo and is also apparently a work by Jacopino.

    Romeo De Maio. Michelangelo e la controriforma. Rome, 1981, pp. 243–44.

    Jean S[hepard]. Weisz. Pittura e Misericordia: The Oratory of S. Giovanni Decollato in Rome. Ann Arbor, Mich., 1984, pp. 69, 164 n. 2, figs. 63, 64 (x-ray), notes that the x-ray reveals a figure composition more like a Holy Family in the d'Elci collection, Siena, by Daniele da Volterra than a work by Jacopino del Conte.

    Hélène Toussaint. "Ingres et la Fornarina." Ingres et Rome: Bulletin spècial des Amis du Musée Ingres (Actes du Colloque). Montauban, 1986, pp. 69–70,74 n. 14, fig. 9, notes the use of this composition for a detail of Ingres's painting of Raphael and the Fornarina in a private collection in New York.

    Marco Chiarini. Tableaux italiens: Catalogue raisonné de la collection de peinture italienne XIVe–XIXe siècles. Grenoble, 1988, p. 145, under no. 113, catalogues a portrait of Michelangelo at Grenoble as a copy of the MMA painting, which he notes is now considered Jacopino's original.

    Philippe Costamagna and Anne Fabre. "Di alcuni problemi della bottega di Andrea del Sarto." Paragone 42 (January 1991), pp. 24, 28 n. 46.

    John T. Paoletti. "Michelangelo's Masks." Art Bulletin 74 (September 1992), p. 431, fig. 8.

    Michel Hochmann. "Les dessins et les peintures de Fulvio Orsini et la collection Farnèse." Mélanges de l'École Française de Rome: Italie et Méditerranée 105, no. 1 (1993), pp. 61, 82, identifies no. 57 of Orsini's inventory with either no. 3085 or no. 4335 of the Farnese inventory of 1644.

    Bertrand Jestaz et al. "L'inventaire du palais et des propriétés Farnèse à Rome." Le palais Farnèse. III, 3, Rome, 1994, p. 126 n. 3085, p. 172 n. 4335, identify no. 3085 in the 1644 Farnese inventory with no. 57 in the 1600 Orsini inventory, but also mention no. 4335 in the 1644 Farnese inventory in this context.

    Giovanni Baglione. "Variante, postille, commenti." Le vite de' pittori, scultori et architetti: dal Pontificato di Gregorio XIII del 1572 in fino a' tempi di Papa Urbano Ottavo nel 1642. 3, Vatican City, 1995, pp. 572–73.

    Michel Hochmann in I Farnese, arte e collezionismo: Studi. Milan, 1995, p. 119, identifies the work included in the Orsini inventory with no. 4335 in the 1644 Farnese inventory, noting that the picture is listed as a self-portrait in the latter.

    Alexander Wied in Vittoria Colonna: Dicterin und Muse Michelangelos. Exh. cat., Kunsthistorisches Museum. Vienna, 1997, pp. 317, 319, ill., under no. IV.3.

    A. Vannugli in Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon: die bildenden Künstler aller Zeiten und Völker. 20, Munich, 1998, p. 601, calls it an autograph replica of a lost original by Jacopino, which he dates about 1535–40; notes that the Madonna composition underneath is attributed to Daniele da Volterra.

    Joanna Woods-Marsden. Renaissance Self-portraiture: The Visual Construction of Identity and the Social Status of the Artist. New Haven, 1998, p. 37, pls. 21, 26 (overall and detail).

    Anna Maria Pedrocchi. Le Stanze del Tesoriere: la Quadreria Patrizi, cultura senese nella storia del collezionismo romano del Seicento. Milan, 2000, p. 282, mentions it in connection with a copy attributed to Francesco Salviati in the Patrizi collection.

    Ann-Sophie Lehmann. "De hand als hoofd zaak." Kunstschrift 4 (2001), p. 3, fig. 2.

    Philippe Costamagna in Raphael, Cellini & a Renaissance Banker: The Patronage of Bindo Altoviti. Exh. cat., Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Boston, 2003, pp. 337–38, 347 n. 52, p. 348 nn. 54–55, fig. 175, attributes it Jacopino, dates it about 1547, and sees the influence of Sebastiano del Piombo in the pose; suggests that the large number of copies is a result of a version being included in Paolo Giovio's gallery of illustrious men at Borgovico.

    Pina Ragionieri in Michelangelo tra Firenze e Roma. Exh. cat., Palazzo di Venezia, Rome. Florence, 2003, p. 22, states that the version formerly in the Chaix d'Est-Ange collection (the MMA picture) has long been identified as the prototype by Jacopino, which she dates about 1535.

    Carl Brandon Strehlke in Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and the Renaissance in Florence. Exh. cat., Ottawa. Ottawa, 2005, p. 182, under no. 56.

    Daniel Robbins in A Victorian Master: Drawings by Frederic, Lord Leighton. Exh. cat., Leighton House Museum. London, 2006, pp. 35, 37 n. 12, under no. 1.8, notes that Leighton's drawing made in Florence in 1856 (Leighton House Museum, London) was probably done after the Strozzi version in the Uffizi; refers to the MMA painting as the original by Jacopino del Conte mentioned by Vasari.

    John Garton. Grace and Grandeur: The Portraiture of Paolo Veronese. London, 2008, p. 129, sees similarities to Veronese's portrait of Alessandro Vittoria (MMA 46.31), suggesting that the composition may have been known to Veronese through a copy or variant.

    Andrea Donati. Michelangelo Buonarroti, Jacopino del Conte, Daniele Ricciarelli: Ritratto e figura nel manierismo a Roma. San Marino, 2010, pp. 163, 264–74, 300, 305, 331, figs. 250 (x-radiograph), 266 (color, overall and details), ill. on back of dust jacket (color), attributes it to Daniele da Volterra and dates it to the summer of 1544; discusses the similarity of the composition visible in x-rays underneath the painting to Daniele's Madonna in the d'Elci collection, Siena; identifies it with a work included in Daniele's inventory of 1566 and also tentatively with a work in Fulvio Orsini's inventory of 1600; relates it to three drawings by Daniele depicting left hands very similar to the one seen in the MMA painting (Musée des Beaux-Arts et d'Archéologie, Besançon; Musée du Louvre, Paris; Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt); discusses and illustrates numerous copies.



  • Notes

    Ingres's letter of 1852 to his friend Michel-Augustin Varcollier (1795–1882), in which he discusses this painting, is owned by the Museum (acc. no. 1977.384.2; Watson Library; see Images). Following is a transcription of the text: "Mon cher Varcolier, / Notre charmante causerie de l'autre / jour a ravivé chez moi le souvenir du / beau portrait de Michel ange que / Me Chaix d'Estange à [sic] le bonheur / de posséder; portrait chef-d'oeuvre / en effet parti de la main de ce colosse / de genie! portrait vivant de ses moeurs, / histoire toute entière de l'art! en un / mot toute la vie de Michel ange un / de ces hommes si puissants après Dieu / et qu'il ne nous envoye que de siècles / en siècles! / Vous donc, cher ami, qui savez les / heures où l'on ne dérangerait point / Mr. Chaix d'Estange de ses hautes / occupations, sachez me dire le moment / de me faire revoir ce chef d'oeuvre et / d'autres de sa galerie pour me retremper / toujours à la source divine des anciens. / Votre ami tout à vous de coeur. / J. Ingres. / 10 janvier de l'année / libératrice et glorieuse 1852."

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