(b. 1475, Caprese, d. 1564, Roma)

Studies for a Flying Angel (recto)

Black chalk, 407 x 272 mm
British Museum, London

The centre on the recto of the present sheet is occupied by a study of one of the flying angels carrying the Instruments of the Passion in the right lunette of the Last Judgment. Michelangelo painted this lunette after he had completed its left counterpart, which marked the beginning of his work on the monumental fresco in 1536. Probably drawn after a living model lying flat on his stomach, the drawing differs from the figure finally executed in the fresco in the posture of the head, the position of the left hand, and the fact that the lower part of the body is not turned toward the viewer.

The verso of the sheet includes two further studies of the floating angel of the recto as well as a sketch of his left arm.

Unfortunately only a few preparatory drawings for the monumental Last Judgment fresco have been preserved. Like the present drawings, there must have been numerous other study sheets on which the master prepared individual figures with utmost precision, altering or rejecting them as the final design took shape.