Michelangelo, one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance, epitomises the ideal of universal artistic genius, excelling as a sculptor, an architect and a painter. Drawing was essential for him in order to explore and develop ideas formed within his imagination. This fascinating study allows an extraordinary insight into the creative process of the artist and displays a strongly how Michelangelo’s creativity was stimulated by the very process of drawing – the flow of his ideas quickening and evolving as he captures them on paper. In the density of a this study sheet which combines a variety of motifs the artist explores compositional as well as figurative problems with exceptional virtuosity: the Infant Jesus on a pillow in the foreground vigorously moving and turning to the right with outstretched arms, the delicately hatched profile of the Madonna of almost ethereal beauty and, emerging between Mother and Child, the face of Saint Joseph in which many scholars recognize a diminutive, sketchy, and distraught self-portrait of the artist. Three sketched figures of Infant Jesus and little Saint John complete the drawing on the upper left. The motifs on this sheet are combined by areas of rapid hatching and they reflect Michelangelo´s works executed in painting and relief such as the so called »Tondo Doni« (in Florence, 1503) in Florence and the »Tondo Taddei« and »Tondo Pitti« (in London and Florence; probably around 1504/6). The stylistic characteristics of the drawing with its extreme variety and density of lines, hatching and cross-hatching, correspond to other early drawings by Michelangelo.


  • Title: Studies for a Holy Family
  • Creator: Michelangelo Buonarroti
  • Date: 1505
  • Physical Dimensions: w20 x h28 cm
  • Type: Drawing
  • Medium: Pen and brown ink on paper
  • Inv.-No.: KdZ1363
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-018511
  • External Link: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyright: Text: © Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / D. Korbacher Photo: © b p k - Photo Agency / Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jörg P. Anders
  • Artist Place of Death: Rome, Italy
  • Artist Place of Birth: Caprese, Italy
  • Artist Gender: Male
  • Artist Dates: 1475/1564

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