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Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer

Bambach, Carmen C. with essays by Claire Barry, Francesco Caglioti, Caroline Elam, Marcella Marongiu, and Mauro Mussolin
392 pages
370 illustrations
Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) Award for Excellence, Winner (2018)
BIGNY Book Show, Winner (2018)
Phyllis Goodhart Gordan Book Prize, Winner (2019)
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Consummate painter, draftsman, sculptor, and architect, Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564) was celebrated for his disegno, a term that embraces both drawing and conceptual design, which was considered in the Renaissance to be the foundation of all artistic disciplines. To his contemporary Giorgio Vasari, Michelangelo was “the divine draftsman and designer” whose work embodied the unity of the arts. Beautifully illustrated with more than 350 drawings, paintings, sculptures, and architectural views, this book establishes the centrality of disegno to Michelangelo’s work.

Carmen C. Bambach presents a comprehensive and engaging narrative of the artist’s long career in Florence and Rome, beginning with his training under the painter Domenico Ghirlandaio and the sculptor Bertoldo and ending with his seventeen-year appointment as chief architect of Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. The chapters relate Michelangelo’s compositional drawings, sketches, life studies, and full-scale cartoons to his major commissions—such as the ceiling frescoes and the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel, the church of San Lorenzo and its New Sacristy (Medici Chapel) in Florence, and Saint Peter’s—offering fresh insights into his creative process. Also explored are Michelangelo’s influential role as a master and teacher of disegno, his literary and spiritual interests, and the virtuoso drawings he made as gifts for intimate friends, such as the nobleman Tommaso de’ Cavalieri and Vittoria Colonna, the marchesa of Pescara. Complementing Bambach’s text are thematic essays by leading authorities on the art of Michelangelo. Meticulously researched, compellingly argued, and richly illustrated, this book is a major contribution to our understanding of this timeless artist.

Met Art in Publication

Leda and the Swan, Cornelis Bos  Netherlandish, Engraving
Cornelis Bos
Saint John the Baptist Bearing Witness, Francesco Granacci  Italian, Oil and gold on wood
Francesco Granacci
ca. 1506–7
Battle of the Nude Men, Antonio Pollaiuolo  Italian, Engraving
Antonio Pollaiuolo
ca. 1470–90
Cupid, Michelangelo Buonarroti  Italian, Marble, Italian, Florence
Michelangelo Buonarroti
ca. 1490
Bronze statuette of a youth dancing, Bronze, Greek
late 4th century BCE
Bronze statue of Eros sleeping, Bronze, Greek
3rd–2nd century BCE
Studies for the Libyan Sibyl (recto); Studies for the Libyan Sibyl and a small Sketch for a Seated Figure (verso), Michelangelo Buonarroti  Italian, Red chalk, with small accents of white chalk on the left shoulder of the figure in the main study (recto); soft black chalk, or less probably charcoal (verso)
Michelangelo Buonarroti
ca. 1510–11
Design for the Tomb of Pope Julius II della Rovere, Michelangelo Buonarroti  Italian, Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, over stylus ruling and leadpoint
Michelangelo Buonarroti
Sardonyx cameo fragment with Jupiter astride an eagle, Sardonyx, Greek or Roman
1st century BCE–1st century CE
The Christ Child and Saint John the Baptist, Sebastiano del Piombo (Sebastiano Luciani)  Italian, Black and some white chalk, on blue paper
Sebastiano del Piombo (Sebastiano Luciani)
Julius Caesar, Andrea di Pietro di Marco Ferrucci  Italian, Marble, Italian, Florence
Andrea di Pietro di Marco Ferrucci
ca. 1512–14
Pietà with Angels in front of the Cross, Giulio Bonasone  Italian, Engraving
Giulio Bonasone
Pietà, Michelangelo Buonarroti  Italian, Gilt bronze, Italian, Rome
Michelangelo Buonarroti
mid-16th century
A Papal Gathering in the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo's Last Judgement on the back wall; the crowd looks on through a screen, from "Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae", Giovanni Ambrogio Brambilla  Italian, Etching
Giovanni Ambrogio Brambilla
The Last Judgment, Michelangelo Buonarroti  Italian, Black chalk on brownish paper
Michelangelo Buonarroti
Icon with the Crucifixion, Ivory, Byzantine
mid-10th century
The Crucifixion, Gilded copper, cloisonné and champlevé enamel, French
ca. 1100
Plaque with the Crucifixion, Champlevé and cloisonné enamel, copper alloy, gilt, South Netherlandish
ca. 1150–75
Equestrian Statue of Henry II, King of France, in the Palazzo Rucellai by Daniele de Volterra, Antonio Tempesta  Italian, Etching
Antonio Tempesta
Published early 17th century
View of the Campidoglio on the Capitoline Hill, with equestrian statue at lower right, from the series 'The Small book of Roman ruins and buildings' (Operum antiquorum romanorum), Johannes van Doetecum I  Netherlandish, Etching
Johannes van Doetecum I
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View Citations

Bambach, Carmen Capell. 2017. Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman & Designer. New York New Haven: Metropolitan museum of art Yale University Press.