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

The Holy Family with the Infant St John

Black chalk over drawing in stylus, 317 x 191 mm
British Museum, London

This black chalk study depicts the Virgin Mary unclothed, enthroned, and in slight profile. Given the close resemblance to the Madonna and Child in the Medici Chapel, the drawing was often considered to be a draft for that sculpture. However, this assumption was rejected in view of the substantial deviations. Furthermore, the compositional concept suggests a realization in the form of a painting rather than as a sculpture. We may assume that the present drawing was not the final draft for the project, as the Virgin Mary is still completely nude. The powerful shapes of the Virgin Mary reflect the new, monumental figural ideal that Michelangelo started to develop during his work on the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel.