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

Sonnet with a Caricature

c. 1510
Pen and brown ink, 283 x 200 mm
Casa Buonarroti, Florence

In this sonnet, the artist mocks the state to which he has been reduced as he lies on his scaffolding to paint, forced to adopt uncomfortable and unnatural poses. In the accompanying sketch, he depicts himself with one arm raised and his head tilted backwards, painting a diabolical form on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

The text on the drawing reads:

I've got myself a goitre from this strain....
My beard toward Heaven, I feel the back of my brain
Upon my neck, I grow the breast of a Harpy;
My brush, above my face continually,
Makes it a splendid floor by dripping down....
Pointless the unseeing steps I go.
In front of me, my skin is being stretched
While it folds up behind and forms a knot,
And I am bending like a Syrian bow.