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

Brutus

1540
Marble, height 74 cm (without base)
Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence

This is Michelangelo's last work of primarily political significance. The bust of Brutus was fashioned for Cardinal Niccolò Ridolfi, who, in 1530, had fled Florence for Rome like many other Florentines; although Michelangelo might well have been thinking of Lorenzino Medici, the well-known "Modern Brutus" who had killed Duke Alessandro de' Medici in 1537, this is clearly an idealized portrait of the patron. In the head, which shows strength of will in the way it is turned to the right, a cold tranquillity and great energy blend fascinatingly with hatred, wrath and bitter contempt.