Southern Chesapeake Bay region, Virginia, United States of America
Knossos, Crete
Nepal or Tibet, 11th–12th century
Namikawa Yasuyuki
Paolo Uccello
Paris, 1868, Oil on canvas, 111 x 70 cm
25th Dynasty, Egypt
Tang Dynasty Horse from Henan Province, China


The Crucifixion, Michelangelo Buonarroti

Black chalk with corrections in white chalk, Italian
AD 1540-1549
Florence, Italy

Michelangelo’s profound religious feelings lie behind his treatment in drawings, made from the 1540s onwards, of subjects such as the Crucifixion which, in their obsessively worked black chalk technique, seem to function as lingering meditations.

This sheet is one of a highly pictorial group, probably dating from the last few years of his life, showing Christ on the cross with two mourning figures, always frontally viewed. Traditionally such figures represent Christ’s mother, Mary, and Saint John the Evangelist, and the right-hand agonised figure here seems to be that of a woman – although the figure has also been identified as Saint John or Longinus, or another male saint. Similarly, the male figure on the left has had various identifications and may even be intended for the artist himself. The drawing is highly worked, with subtle shadowing on the body of Christ (another study of the crucified Christ alone is on the verso of the sheet). The tremulous repetition of the outlines and the brushing over of corrections with the same white pigment that is used for highlights give the drawing a tentative, nervous quality and an almost visionary radiance.

Presented by a Body of Subscribers, 1846.