(b. 1475, Caprese, d. 1564, Roma)
Studies of the Crucified Christ (recto)1534-36
Black chalk, 330 x 229 mm
Teylers Museum, Haarlem
The final decades of Michelangelo's life were characterized by a heightened religious feeling. His thinking was influenced by the leading personalities in the church reform movement, but the most important influence was that of the poetess Vittoria Colonna (c. 1491-1547), who had been linked to Michelangelo by a close platonic friendship since around 1534. In 1538 Colonna presented Michelangelo with a copy of her poems, which had just been published, and the artist gave her a number of religious drawings, including a Crucifixion (now in the British Museum, London).
The present drawing probably dates from the time when the poetess and artist were exchanging views on religion. The central study depicts Christ, his heavy body hanging from his up-stretched arms, which are fastened to an invisible Y-shaped cross. A study of the right side of an upper body is found to the right in another sketch, while to the left is another torso seen slightly from below. These studies were probably drawn from a live model.
The verso of the sheet contains figure studies and architectural profiles, all in Michelangelo's hand.