This beautiful red chalk drawing of the male nude is for the figure of Adam painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Rome. His left arm resting on his left leg stretches out to receive life from God. At the lower left is a study for his right hand.
Michelangelo has exploited the qualities of the red chalk to create a warmth of tone as he drew from the life model. He was also freely inventing as the position of the upper body is.an impossible one although Michelangelo makes it look entirely natural. He concentrated on the torso and upper legs of his model whose ideal anatomy is indicated by shading, especially on the chest and stomach areas. Around the outside of the whole body he has reinforced the edge with a strong line.
Michelangelo was summoned to Rome by Pope Julius II in 1505, spending the years 1508 to 1512 decorating the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. He painted the figure of Adam, on the second half of the ceiling, around 1511. The pose of Adam as painted in the fresco is almost unchanged from this working drawing. Michelangelo would have used a full-size cartoon to transfer the final design to the ceiling itself.


  • Title: Study for Adam
  • Creator: Michelangelo Buonarroti
  • Date Created: 1511
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 193.00mm; Width: 259.00mm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Medium: Drawn
  • Technique: drawn
  • Subject: nude
  • Registration number: 1926,1009.1
  • Producer: Drawn by Michelangelo
  • Material: paper
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased with contributions from The Art Fund, Duveen, Joseph and Van den Bergh, Henry.

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