Where to Catch Michelangelo Around the World

You don't need to go to Italy to see the masterpieces of this Renaissance man

By Google Arts & Culture

Michelangelo Buonarroti (after 1564) by Giorgio Ghisi, after Marcello VenustiNational Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, known to history simply as Michelangelo, was born on the 6 March 1475, in Caprese, of the Republic of Florence. He was a rival of Leonardo da Vinci, and the contemporary biographer Giorgio Vasari named him the greatest living artist.

Over the course of his long life, Michelangelo produced some of the most enduring works of art in the western canon. But you don't need to travel to Italy to see his masterpieces, you can find them in museums and galleries all over the world…

Study for Adam (1511) by Michelangelo BuonarrotiBritish Museum

British Museum, London

Starting in London, you can find Michelangelo's Study for Adam, made in 1511, when he was 36. This red chalk drawing was the study for his Creation of Adam, found on the ceiling of the Vatican City's Sistine Chapel.

Michelangelo puts great detail into Adam's muscular torso and thigh. It must have been one of his final studies, as the pose of Adam as painted in the fresco is almost unchanged from this working drawing.

Archers shooting at a herm (c.1530) by Michelangelo BuonarrotiRoyal Collection Trust, UK

The Royal Collection, London

If you drop by Buckingham Palace, you can view this drawing, made around 1530 and known as Archers shooting at a herm. This was one of a series of large scale works Michelangelo made as gifts for his closest friends. Many of these were imbued with deeply personal meaning.

In this intriguing picture, a group of archers (mostly without bows), are posed as if shooting arrows at a target hung on a herm (a freestanding column with the upper half in human form) to the right. A winged cupid sleeps below, while to the left, other putti blow on a fire.

Studies of an outstretched arm for the fresco 'The Drunkenness of Noah' in the Sistine Chapel (circa 1508 - 1509) by Michelangelo BuonarrotiMuseum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

Across the English Channel, the  Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, holds a study for the fresco The Drunkenness of Noah, painted in the Sistine Chapel. This unusual biblical tale tells of the time Noah was found blind drunk and naked in his tent.

This drawing shows how Michelangelo was experimenting with the position of the arms and hands, as we see from his corrections to the contours. These naturalistic drawings were almost certainly made during the study of a live model.

Studies for a Holy Family (1505) by Michelangelo BuonarrotiKupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin

In Germany, the Kupferstichkabinett holds this study for The Holy Family. The page is dense with pen strokes, but if you look closely you can just about make out the infant Jesus resting on a pillow, the Virgin Mary, and a portrait of Joseph, assumed to be a self portrait.

Extra details include the three studies in the top left of infant boys, perhaps Jesus and John the Baptist. This work shows how Michelangelo valued drawings as a method for working out form and composition.

Seated Young Male Nude and Two Arm Studies (recto), c. 1510-11 (c. 1510-11) by Michelangelo BuonarrotiAlbertina Museum

Albertina Museum, Vienna

Even in his own time, Michelangelo was recognised for his pulsating muscular bodies. Sometimes this turned to mockery. Leonardo said Michelangelo's figures resembled "bags of walnuts or bunches of radishes".

You can make your own judgement at the Albertina Museum, Vienna, where this work is on display. This male figure was probably drawn as a study for the Sistine Chapel. This was one of the most important commissions of Michelangelo's life, and it produced many masterpieces.

Pieta (ca.1538 - 1544) by MichelangeloIsabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

Michelangelo's art can also be found outside of Europe. In the United States, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts, holds a magnificent drawing made towards the end of his life.

This Pieta was drawn while Michelangelo was living in Rome, having been commissioned by Pope Clement VII to create a fresco of The Last Judgement. This small yet detailed drawing was given as a gift to the poet Vittoria Colonna, Marchioness of Pescara.

The Torment of Saint Anthony (c. 1487–88) by Michelangelo BuonarrotiKimbell Art Museum

Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth

The Kimbell Art Museum holds a very special work. This painting of tempera on panel is believed to be the very first painting by Michelangelo, made at Ghirlandaio's workshop under the guidance of the artist Francesco Granacci, at the age of just 13 years old.

Vasari recounted that to give the demonic creatures veracity, Michelangelo studied the colourful scales and strange anatomy of creatures he found at the fish market. This painting was widely acclaimed by his contemporaries, and set him early on the path to fame.

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