(b. 1475, Caprese, d. 1564, Roma)
Madonna and Child with the Infant St Johnc. 1533
Black chalk, 314 x 200 mm
British Museum, London
This is a charming depiction of the Madonna and Child with the infant St John. It can be observed that the posture of the Madonna is reminiscent of the young female figure in the Rehoboam - Abijah lunette in the vault of the Sistine Chapel. The manner in which the children are teasing one another in Michelangelo's drawing is rather uncharacteristic of depictions of the Madonna. It seems that the artist oriented himself on the grotesque movements of the Morris dancers, which have been depicted in the arts since the early fifteenth century. Examples include the famous sculptural group by Erasmus Grasser as well as engravings by Israhel van Meckenem.
In the fine, compositionally accomplished execution of the drawing and the dense, relief-like joining together of the figures there are close parallels to the presentation sheets for Tommaso de' Cavalieri such as The Fall of Phaethon, The Holy Family with the Infant St John, and the Warwick Pietà.