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Viel Lärm um nichts:

A drawing ‘not by Michelangelo’, and


‘not by Jacone’

Charles Davis, 02.02.2009

Following a year of negotiations the ‘Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio


di Verona Vicenza Belluno e Ancona’ acquired, in late 2001, or early
2002, an architectural drawing attributed to, or by Michelangelo from
private collector in England to deposit at the Centro Internazionale di
Studi di Architettura “Andrea Palladio” in Vicenza, Italy. On 1 March
2002 the drawing was unveiled to the public at the ‘Centro Palladio’.

A few days earlier a brief article in the Corriere della Sera of 27


February 2002 had reported the return of the drawing to Italy:

RITORNI E' IL PROGETTO PER UN ARCO TRIONFALE. PROSSIMA


DESTINAZIONE, IL «MUSEO PALLADIANO» DI VICENZA

In Italia l' ultimo disegno privato di Michelangelo


Una trattativa privata tenuta segreta fino all' ultimo. Un prezzo più
basso delle attuali quotazioni di mercato perché, sembra, che gli ormai
ex-proprietari volessero fortemente che quel disegno tornasse dall'
Inghilterra in Italia. Questi i possibili retroscena del rientro in patria,
dopo due secoli di esilio, dell' ultimo disegno di Michelangelo
Buonarroti fino a pochi giorni fa ancora in mano privata, rientro
annunciato soltanto ieri «per evitare rischi» e cospicuamente finanziato
dalla «Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Verona, Vicenza, Belluno e
2

Ancona». Nessuna indiscrezione sulla cifra d' acquisto anche se vale la


pena di ricordare che a luglio una Addolorata, sempre di Michelangelo,
era stata venduta a Londra da Sotheby' s per quasi sei milioni di
sterline. Il disegno verrà presentato ufficialmente al pubblico venerdì
alle 11 a Palazzo Barbaran da Porto a Vicenza ed è destinato ad
arricchire le collezioni del «Museo Palladiano» che la Fondazione sta
costituendo proprio a Palazzo Barbaran. Nel celebre Corpus dei disegni
curato da Charles de Tolnay (De Agostini), viene catalogato sotto il
numero 630. Sul recto (il dritto) del foglio si trova un disegno (di 285
millimetri per 270) fatto a sanguigna e con tutta probabilità realizzato
tra il 1520 e il 1525. Dove un Michelangelo ormai quarantenne «si
avvicina all' architettura attraverso le sue esperienze di scultore e di
progettista del monumento funebre di papa Giulio II». Si potrebbe
infatti trattare di un progetto per la tomba di un papa Medici (Leone X
o Clemente VII) «nella forma di arco trionfale» più due schizzi per la
pianta del pilone e del pilastro. Anche se, stando ai recentissimi studi di
Caroline Elam, si potrebbe invece parlare «di uno studio per qualcuno
degli apparati effimeri che venivano realizzati per l' ingresso trionfale
dei papi». Resta invece il mistero del verso (il retro) del foglio. In cui,
accanto ad uno studio autografo di Michelangelo per uno stemma
mediceo (sempre a sanguigna), viene affiancata una teoria di santi in
piedi sopra un portico ad arco. Il tutto disegnato a penna ma da altra
mano. Forse quella di Aristotile da Sangallo, forse quella Raffaello da
Montelupo.
Stefano Bucci

Pagina 37
(27 febbraio 2002) - Corriere della Sera

(http://archiviostorico.corriere.it/2002/febbraio/27/Italia_ultimo_disegno_privato_Michelange
lo_co_0_0202274583.shtml )

TRANSLATION:

RETURNED IS THE PROJECT FOR A TRIUMPHAL ARCH.


DESTINATION: THE PALLADIO MUSEUM IN VICENZA

In Italy, the last drawing by Michelangelo in private hands


A private negotiation kept secret until the last minute. A price lower
than the prices current on today’s art market, because, it seems, the by
now ex-owners mightily wanted that the drawing return from England
to Italy. These, the possible backstage scenarios of the re-entry in its
3

homeland, following two centuries of exile, of the last drawing by


Michelangelo, until a few days ago, still in private hands, a re-entry
announced only yesterday “to avoid risks” and very considerably
financed by the «Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Verona, Vicenza,
Belluno e Ancona». No indiscretions concerning the purchase price,
although it is worth recording that in July an “Addolorata” (mourning
female figure), also by Michelangelo, was sold in London at Sotheby' s
for nearly six million Pounds Sterling. The home-bound drawing will be
officially presented to the public Friday at 11 AM at the Palazzo
Barbaran da Porto in Vicenza, and it is destined to enrich the collections
of the «Museo Palladiano» which the Foundation is in the process of
establishing at the Palazzo Barbaran. In the celebrated ‘Corpus dei
disegni’ [of Michelangelo] edited by Charles de Tolnay (publisher: De
Agostini, Novara), the drawing is catalogued under number 630. On
the recto of the sheet is found a red-chalk drawing that was most
probably made between 1520 and 1525. In this drawing the forty-year-
old Michelangelo «si avvicina all' architettura attraverso le sue
esperienze di scultore e di progettista del monumento funebre di papa
Giulio II [approaches architecture from his experiences as a sculptor and
as the planner of the tomb of pope Julius II]». It could, in fact, be a
project for a tomb of a Medici pope (Leo X or Clement VII) «nella forma
di arco trionfale [in the form of a triumphal arch] », plus two sketches
for the plan of the pier and of the pilaster. This, even if, following the
recent studies of Caroline Elam, one could speak of «uno studio per
qualcuno degli apparati effimeri che venivano realizzati per l' ingresso
trionfale dei papi [a study for one of the ephemeral apparatuses that
were realized for the triumphal entries of the popes]». There remains,
however, the mystery of the verso of the sheet. Here, alongside an
autograph study by Michelangelo for a Medici coat-of-arms, also in red
chalk, is found a group of standing saints over an arched portico. All
this is drawn in pen and ink, but it is drawn by a different hand.
Perhaps that of Aristotile da Sangallo, perhaps that of Raffaello da
Montelupo.

Much, but not all of the information contained in this report – which is
coloured with the suggestion of a ‘giallo’ – was included in a press
release issued by the Studio ESSECI (Padua), a press agency, on the
occasion of the very brief public presentation of the drawing at the
Palazzo Barbaran da Porto, Contrà Porti, Vicenza (see infra).
4

On the same day (Mercoledì, 27 Febbraio 2002) another newspaper


article, one containing additional information about the “retroscena
del rientro in patria” of the drawing, appeared in:
L’ARENA: IL GIORNALE DI VERONA.

(http://www.larena.it/storico/20020227/IE.PRIMA/F.htm ; 18.12.2002.

This link is no longer functional, but the text can be searched in the Archive
(‘Archivio’) of the newspaper: http://www.larena.it .

L’ARENA: IL GIORNALE DI VERONA


Mercoledì 27 Febbraio 2002

Il prezioso „schizzo“, l’ultimo ancora in mano a un privato, è stato ceduto da


una collezionista inglese in memoria del marito

■ L’amore per l’Italia riporta a casa un


Michelangelo
Il disegno acquistato dal “Palladio” di Vicenza grazie alla Fondazione Cariverona

Vicenza. Più che un disegno è un fotogramma della vita di Michelangelo, una


radiografia della sua creatività turbolente e terribile, un flashback del suo modo
di lavorare, fatto di ragionamento che insegne l’impulsività, senza mai
raggiungerla. „Il tormento e l’estai“, per dirla con il cinema di Hollywood.
L’eccezionale disegno – lo schizzo di un arco di trionfo, quattro facce di
cartapesta destinate a onorare il Papa Leone X che entra a Firenze nel 1515,
poi sovrastato da una nuova idea sopra quella vecchia, ricalcando e
modificando con la matita rossa – è ora conservato nel caveau del Centro
internazionale di studi di architettura “Andrea Palladio” di Vicenza.

In Veneto il disegno è giunto dall’Inghilterra, dopo un anno di trattativa fra il


Centro e la famiglia di un collezionista inglese, che lo acquistà all’asta da
Sotheby’s nel 1979. La vedova del collezionista ha voluto cederlo a
un’istituzione italiana per onorare la memoria del marito, innamoratissimo
dell’Italia.

L’importanza del disegno e dell’acquisto, reso possible grazie alla Fondazione


Cariverona, dev’essere colta almeno sotto due aspetti. Primo: questo è l’ultimo
disegno di Michelangelo ancora in mano privata. Tutti gli altri sono di pro-
prietà di musei, e quindi incedibili. Secondo: per una volta è l’Italia a riap-
propriarsi di un pezzo del suo patrimonio artistico, che di solito invece
5

arricchisce le collezioni straniere. La paternità e l’importanza del disegno sono


state certificate da Caroline Elam, direttrice del prestigioso mensile “Burlington
Magazine”, vera autorità nel settore.

Naturalmente nessuna indiscrizione trapela circa la cifra che è stata pagata per
entrare in possesso del disegno di Michelangelo: l’unico riferito per stimare il
valore del disegno è il prezzo pagato l’anno scorso per un disegno di Michel-
angelo, “La donna velata”, battuto all’asta da Sotheby’s per 24 miliardi. Ma da
Vicenza tengono a far sapere che l’importo per questo disegno è stato “molto,
ma molto inferiore”. Insomma, non è stato pagato prezzo di mercato.

Ora il disegno di Michelangelo sarà sottoposto a un necessario restauro: ma si


tratta di un intervento leggero. Per il futuro, si pensa anche a una mostra a
Vicenza: potrebbero essere esposti, assieme a quello appena acquistato, anche
altri disegni di Michelangelo, tutti relativi all’architettura, attualmente nei
musei di Oxford, Firenze e Londra.

TRANSLATION:

The precious “schizzo”, the last in private hands, has been given over by an
English collector in memory of her husband
■ The Love of Italy brings a Michelangelo
home
The drawing acquired by the “Centro Palladio” of Vicenza, thanks to the
Fondazione Cariverona [Cassa di Risparmio di Verona (...)]

Vicenza. More than a drawing it is a cinematic ‘snapshot’ captured from the life
of Michelangelo, an X-ray of his turbulent and ‘terrible’ creativity, a ‘flashback’
of his working method, constituted by a thought process that communicates
impulsivity without ever reaching it. “The Agony and the Ecstasy”, to say it
with the movies of Hollywood. The exceptional drawing – a sketch of a
triumphal arch, four papier-mâché façades destined to honour Pope Leo X who
entered Florence in 1515, and then overlaid by a new idea on top of the old one,
retracing it and modifying it with red chalk – is now conserved in the vault of
the ‘Centro internazionale di studi di architettura “Andrea Palladio”,’ in
Vicenza.

The drawing has arrived in the Veneto from England, after a year of nego-
tiations between the Centro Palladio and the family of an English collector who
acquired it at auction from Sotheby’s in 1979. The widow of the collector has
wanted to give it up to an Italian institution in order to honour the memory of
her husband, who was madly in love with Italy.
6

The importance of the drawing and of its acquistion, the latter rendered possible
thanks to the Fondazione Cariverona must be understood from at least two
points of view. Firstly: this is the last drawing by Michelangelo still in private
hands. All the others are the property of museums and cannot be sold. Secondly:
for once it is Italy to regain a piece of her artistic patrimony, which instead
usually enriches foreign collections. The authorship of Michelangelo and the
importance of the drawing has been certified by Caroline Elam, the editor of the
prestigious monthly publication, “The Burlington Magazine”, which is the true
authority in this sector.

Naturally no indiscretion has leaked out about the price that was paid in order
to come into possession of the drawing by Michelangelo: the only point of refer-
ence useful to estimate the value of the drawing is the price paid last year for a
drawing by Michelangelo, “La donna velato” [The Veiled Woman], which fell
under the hammer at Sotheby’s for 24 billion [Lire? Nota bene: The sum appears
to be an error.]. But at Vicenza they make a point of stressing that the amount
paid for this drawing was “molto, ma molto inferiore” [much, indeed very much
less]. So the market price was not paid.

Now the drawing by Michelangelo will undergo a necessary restoration: but it


will be a minor operation. For the future is also planned an exhibition at
Vicenza: at it there could be exhibited, together with the drawing just acquired,
also other drawings by Michelangelo, all relating to his architecture, drawings
at present in the museums of Oxford, Florence, and London.

The press release issued on the occasion of the ‘primo marzo 2002’
reads:

Michelangelo torna in Italia


Vicenza, Contrà Porti, Palazzo Barbaran da Porto

Dal I marzo 2002

Dopo il restauro, sarà esposto in una mostra alla fine dell'anno

COMUNICATO STAMPA

Vicenza. Apparso per una sola ora, custodito in una speciale teca “difesa” da
due guardie armate, nel corso della presentazione alla stampa ed alle autorità,
il prezioso disegno di Michelangelo “Progetto per un arco trionfale” riportato
7

dopo due secoli in Italia, è ora affidato ad un laboratorio specializzato per


essere sottoposto ad esami sul suo “stato di salute” e ad un intervento di
restauro conservativo. Le condizioni del disegno paiono buone ma saranno gli
specialisti a decidere se e come intervenire per assicurare lunga vita all’opera.

Dopo questo esame, il disegno tornerà al Centro Internazionale di Studi


sull’Architettura “Andrea Palladio” di Vicenza che a dicembre lo presenterà
finalmente al pubblico all’interno di una preziosa mostra di disegni di
architettura di Michelangelo che il Centro Palladio sta predisponendo intorno a
questo suo prestigiosissimo deposito, mostra nella quale il disegno comparirà
affiancato da altre prove grafiche michelangiolesche oggi a Londra, Oxford e
Firenze.

Conservato in un’importante collezione inglese, era l’ultimo dei disegni del


Buonarroti ancora in mano privata. A finanziare l’acquisto ed il ritorno in Italia
dell’opera, dopo due secoli, è stata la Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Verona
Vicenza Belluno e Ancona che ha deciso di affidare l’opera al Centro
palladiano, destinandola ad arricchire le collezioni del Museo Palladio che
l’istituzione vicentina sta costituendo in Palazzo Barbaran da Porto. Per una
volta, quindi, è l’Italia a riappropriarsi di un brano importante del proprio
patrimonio culturale, usualmente preda ambita dei grandi musei internazionali.

Il foglio è presente al n. 630 del monumentale Corpus dei disegni di Michel-


angelo di Charles de Tolnay, in accordo con l’attribuzione di A.E. Popham e
Johannes Wilde. In occasione dell’acquisto l’autografia michelangiolesca è
stata ulteriormente confermata da Caroline Elam, direttrice dell’autorevole
“The Burlington Magazine”, in sintonia con Michael Hirst, indiscusso
specialista dell’opera grafica di Michelangelo.

Il disegno, a matita rossa, è un opera di un Michelangelo ormai quarantenne,


che si avvicina all’architettura tramite le proprie esperienze come scultore e
soprattutto come progettista del monumento funebre di papa Giulio II.

E’ un disegno rapido a mano libera, equivalente in termini architettonici di un


“primo pensiero” per una composizione a figure. Rappresenta uno studio di
progetto per un arco di trionfo, da collegarsi probabilmente agli apparati
effimeri realizzati a Roma e Firenze per l’ingresso trionfale in città del papa
Leone X nel secondo decennio del Cinquecento. Il segno, rapido e vigoroso, e il
modo in cui la composizione è progressivamente trasformata e rafforzata,
tradisce non solo i modi grafici e il linguaggio architettonico di Michelangelo,
ma anche la “terribilità” delle sue procedure creative.
8

La presenza del disegno di Michelangelo nelle collezioni di palazzo Barbaran


da Porto, a Vicenza, è significativa non solo perché l’artista fiorentino e Andrea
Palladio sono i veri protagonisti dell’architettura di pieno Cinquecento, ma
anche per la stretta amicizia che legava il Buonarroti con un altro vicentino,
Valerio Belli. Nei fondali architettonici delle pietre dure e cristalli di rocca che
incideva con rara maestria, il grande orafo vicentino si lasciava ispirare
proprio da disegni d’architettura di Michelangelo del tipo di quello ora
presente al Centro palladiano.

Anche in questa occasione la Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Verona Vicenza


Belluno e Ancona si segnala per la sensibilità e attenzione con cui interviene a
favore della cultura artistica del proprio territorio, non solo sostenendo restauri
e iniziative espositive e di ricerca, ma anche con acquisizioni sul mercato
internazionale che consentono di ricomporre brani importanti dell’identità
culturale del nostro paese.

Per informazioni: Centro Studi Andrea Palladio, Vicenza tel. 0444.323014 fax
0444.322869
Sito: www.cisapalladio.org

Ufficio Stampa: Studio ESSECI - Sergio Campagnolo, tel. 049.663499 fax


049.655098 Email info@studioesseci.net; sito internet: www.studioesseci.net
( http://www.studioesseci.net/evento.php?IDevento=11 )

An illustrated and uncopyrighted brochure was issued for distribution


at the time of the first public presentation of the drawing in Italy.

Michelangelo a Vicenza: Vicenza, primo marzo 2002, Fondazione


Cassa di Risparmio di Verona, Vicenza, Belluno e Ancona, Vicenza,
2002. – 16 pp.: Ill. ; 30 cm

Copies of this publication were sent by CISA to interested, or


interesting persons and institutions. The present writer received one in
the mail. It was what attracted my interest in the drawing in the first
instance, although I knew it from Tolnay’s Corpus. Apparently only a
few examples of the pamphlet found their way into research libraries.
9

The three libraries of the Kunstbibliotheken-Fachverbund Florenz-


München-Rom hold copies (including the original, in Florence):
www.kubikat.org .
BH: Ca-MIC 28-6022 (Kopie)
KHI: J 6214 xmhdg (Kopie); J 6214 xmhdga (RARO/ Original)
ZI: D-Mi 57/1206 (Kopie)

An online version is found at SCRIBD ( http://www.scribd.com/ ):


http://www.scribd.com/doc/10876249/PDF-Disegno-Vicenza .

The “brossura”, Michelangelo a Vicenza, was issued on the occasion


of the deposit of the drawing in the collections of CISA. It contains, in
addition to a preface by officials announcing an exhibition of the
drawing in the very near future, a lengthy essay by Howard Burns
concerning Michelangelo and the drawing – with the suggestion that it
may once have formed part of the collection at the Casa Buonarroti in
Florence – , maintaining that the attribution of the recto “presents no
problems”. He reports, “The negotiated price reflected the owner’s
desire to facilitate the permanent transfer of the drawing to the
Centro”, and concludes by drawing attention to questions remaining
for future research: “If many aspects of the drawing have already been
clarified (...), its interest lies not only in what is known about it, but in
the problems it still presents: what was the intended destination of the
project, what is the relation of the elevation to the plan with
dimensions within which the drawing is placed, are the notes written
by Michelangelo? The drawing on the verso also presents a series of
problems: who is the draughtsman, what is the project, is the under
drawing in red chalk by Michelangelo himself? It is to be hoped that
future research will clarify these questions: to make the drawing better
known and to stimulate further research and discussion, the Centro
plans to organize a small exhibition later this year including not only
this sheet but also a number of other drawings by Michelangelo.”

The pamphlet includes excellent illustrations of the ‘new’ drawing,


illustrations of facsimile quality which remain valuble for study. It
concludes with a ‘scheda’ on the drawing by Caroline Elam, which
labels the drawing as by “Michelangelo Buonarroti”. This text is that
of the expertise, written by Elam, which was submitted to the
Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio in support of the acquisition of the
10

‘Michelangelo’ drawing. Elam’s expertise reads like a scholarly


catalogue entry. She had clearly studied the drawing when it was in
England, still in the hands of the former owners. Lionello Puppi
recently refered to questions raised by her expertise as follows: “(...)
siano state sperperate in iniziative estemporanee ovvero, e in misura
molto consistente, nell’acquisto di un disegnetto per garantire la cui
incerta paternità di Michelangelo i Nostri sono ricorsi a una benevola
e amichevole certificazione esterna al Cisa e non, tanto per cambiare,
al vaglio delle solidissime competenze presenti nel suo Consiglio
scientifico, mentre, se sulla chiacchieratissima provenienza del foglio
glissavano, si preoccupavano di leggittimare l’improbabile attribu-
zione dissipando altri quattrini nell’allestimento di una mostra, di cui
nessun altro sentiva il bisogna, sul Buonarroti architetto” (IL GIORNALE
DELL’ARTE, N. 282, dicembre 2008, p. 42). In reality, prior to the
acquistion, doubts concerning the attribution emerged within the
Consiglio Scientifico. The Fondazione solicited an independent exper-
tise, which was less than favourable to the Michelangelo attribution,
and, in fact, the drawing was acquired by the Fondazione Cariverona
not as “by Michelangelo”, but as “attributed to Michelangelo”, a fact
reflected in the “long negotiations” and the low price paid (see infra:
Relazione e bilancio dell’essercizio, 2001, Fondazione Cassa di Ri-
sparmio di Verona Belluno e Ancona, p. 35; Relazione e bilancio del-
l’essercizio 2002, p. 42; three problems: “Parlance – Price – Prove-
nance”, infra; et passim).

The initial presentation in Vicenza was accompanied by numerous


articles in Italian newspapers, many of which simply retrace the
contents of the press release (supra), and many of which were
distributed online. Some remain in the Internet and can be located
through widely used search engines. A few are quoted below, or
Internet links are given to them. Many have apparently disappeared
from the Internet.
11
12
13

In early July 2002 the present writer held a public lecture at the
Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence that addressed many of the open
questions concerning the drawing mentioned above, in particular the
“mystery “ of the verso, including its authorship and purpose. CISA
facilited my study of the original in preparation for the lecture,
providing photographs and transparencies for projection. Along with
other components of CISA, Howard Burns received an early invitation
to attend, which he declined to follow. The large, and largely
Florentine public included numerous qualified experts of
Michelangelo and of architectural drawings.

Shortly thereafter, in September 2002, the lecture was, in all its essen-
tials published in Apollo (The International Magazine of the Arts,
CLVI, No. 487, pp. 22-29), at that time perhaps the leading English-
language monthly for the history of art. This publication is found in
very many libraries. The article put forward an identification of the
draughtsman of the verso – Jacone – which in turn served to clarify
the purpose of the arch on the recto: 1525, the Feast of San Felice in
Piazza (Florence), of the Annunciation to Mary at the church of San
Felice undertaken by the Compagnia dell’Orciuolo, as described by
Vasari in his account of Jacone. In the event, as the title above
suggests, both the attributions to Michelangelo and to Jacone, as well
as the date, have proved mistaken, but the destination for the Feast of
San Felice in Piazza and the connection with the church of San Felice
remain among the few certainties about the drawing.

After a long unexplained delay, the exhibition of the drawing and


‘Michelangelo architetto’, promised for later 2002, took place in 2006
and 2007 at CISA in Vicenza and at the Casa Buonarroti in Florence.
Although I had known Burns for many years, he indicated no interest
in my findings, which subsequently played a large rôle in the
exhibition and its catalogue. I declined invitations to participate in the
exhibition, owing to reservations about the participation of the editor
and to the uncertainty about how the CISA drawing was to be
presented in the exhibition, while suggesting that they find more
qualified collaborators. The Vicenza drawing constituted both the
raison d’être and the pivot (“fulcro”), and indeed the point of the
exhibition, although there was a determined attempt to maintain that it
14

was a only secondary aspect of a broader exhibition devoted to


Michelangelo as an architectural draughtsman. Nevertheless, the
exhibition as presented was the same one proposed to the public in
March of 2002 at the time of the initial presentation of the drawing,
with the drawing as its centrepiece and with loans from Florence,
London, and Oxford. The CISA drawing is illustrated on the cover of
the catalogue; it was the image of the ‘manifesto’ and the ‘invito’ for
the inauguration in Vicenza, the most frequent illustration in the press.
The 12 page entry devoted to it (No. 24: H.B.) is by far the longest in
the catalogue. The failure to be clear about the purpose of the
exhibition led to incongruities in the exhibition and catalogue, as was
noted in the Burlington Magazine (vol. 149, 2007, pp. 206-207) by the
reviewer (who appears to have had difficulty making sense of the
exhibition). Indeed, the drawing now in Vicenza at the Centro Palladio
entirely escaped the notice of another in-the-know reviewer, Andrew
Hopkins (Apollo, February 2007; readable at:

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0PAL/is_/ai_n27152781 .

Nevertheless, the underlying purpose and function of the exhibition


was clearly to gain credibility for the contested attribution to
Michelangelo and to confer onto it a documented status. The
exhibition at the Casa Buonarroti was to be Michelangelo’s seal of
approval.

A first press release for the exhibition, issued in the summer of 2006,
reads:

Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio
Fondazione Casa Buonarroti
Michelangelo: disegni di architettura
Vicenza, Museo Palladio

in palazzo Barbaran da Porto, 17 settembre – 10 dicembre 2006
Firenze, Casa Buonarroti, 15 dicembre 2006 – 19 marzo 2007

Vernice per la Stampa: sabato 16 settembre 2006, ore 12
15

Ulteriori informazioni e immagini: www.studioesseci.net

COMUNICATO STAMPA
Questa mostra è dedicata a quelli che sono forse fra i più bei disegni di
architettura di ogni tempo, tracciati da un autore di eccellenza, Michelangelo,
che attraverso di essi ci racconta le proprie strategie di progettazione.

Sarà ospitata a Vicenza, nelle sale di palazzo Barbaran da Porto, dal 17


settembre al 10 dicembre 2006, e successivamente riproposta a Firenze nello
spazio espositivo di Casa Buonarroti (dal 15 dicembre 2006 al 19 marzo 2007).

Presenterà alcuni dei più bei disegni architettonici che Michelangelo abbia
realizzato nell’arco della sua vita, disegni che ci permettono di leggere la
complessità delle sue procedure di progettazione. Sappiamo che spesso queste
ultime prendevano avvio da un modello in cera, purtroppo mai conservatosi, si
evolvevano sul foglio da disegno, per concludersi con disegni in scala 1:1
tracciati in cantiere: sarà ad esempio possibile presentare in mostra riproduzioni
al vero dei disegni di Michelangelo ritrovati sulle pareti della Sacrestia Vecchia
a Firenze. L’esposizione renderà ragione delle tipologie e delle finalità dei
diversi disegni, dal vero e proprio modello per la facciata di San Lorenzo, al
famoso disegno per Porta Pia, agli straordinari studi di fortificazioni.

Fulcro dell’esposizione è il disegno di un arco trionfale, identificato nel Corpus


dei disegni di Michelangelo di Charles de Tolnay con il n. 630. Questo, che era
probabilmente l’ultimo disegno di architettura di Michelangelo rimasto in una
collezione privata, nel 2002 è stato riportato in Italia e acquisito alle collezioni
grafiche del CISA Andrea Palladio grazie alla Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di
Verona, Vicenza, Belluno e Ancona. Il disegno, rapido e vigoroso, a mano libera
– equivalente in termini architettonici di un “primo pensiero” per una composi-
zione a figure –, rappresenta lo studio per un arco di trionfo, da collegarsi
probabilmente agli apparati effimeri realizzati a Roma e a Firenze per l’ingresso
del papa Leone X nel secondo decennio del Cinquecento. Sul verso dell’opera
michelangiolesca compare un secondo disegno a penna, identificato da Charles
Davis come opera di Jacopo di Giovanni, detto Jacone.

La mostra consentirà di “entrare” nel disegno vicentino e di ragionare sulla sua


autografia, ma anche sulla tecnica di disegno, sulle convenzioni rappresentative
e le procedure creative dell’artista, grazie alla presenza di capolavori di Michel-
angelo provenienti in primo luogo dalla Fondazione Casa Buonarroti di Firenze
ma anche da altre raccolte italiane e britanniche.

Con il foglio vicentino, in mostra ci saranno altri trenta disegni di architettura.


Pur estremamente raffinata e rigorosa nella sua ideazione e articolazione, questa
16

esposizione sarà in grado di parlare a un pubblico non specialistico, innanzitutto


grazie alla bellezza delle opere esposte – fra i più affascinanti disegni di architet-
tura mai eseguiti – ma anche attraverso video di presentazione delle tecniche di
disegno e modelli di ricostruzione.

Un disegno di architettura può apparire talvolta muto agli occhi del pubblico.
Molto spesso viene letto come un’icona del progetto realizzato e non per quello
che in realtà è: uno strumento per la progettazione di un’opera in cui sono
appuntati i pensieri dell’architetto, verificate soluzioni diverse e, in definitiva,
dove sono registrati il tracciato del pensiero dell’artista e l’evoluzione del
progetto stesso, come attraverso un sismografo o un encefalogramma. Ciò vale
in particolar modo per il corpus grafico di Michelangelo Buonarroti: nei suoi
disegni le diverse soluzioni progettuali spesso si sovrappongono le une alle altre,
dando origine a un palinsesto, a un vero e proprio diario di viaggio alla ricerca
della forma, che si conclude solo con l’opera realizzata.

Il consiglio scientifico della mostra si avvale di alcuni fra i più noti specialisti di
disegno di architettura e di Michelangelo, che cureranno anche i testi in
catalogo. Comprende Guido Beltramini (CISA Andrea Palladio), Luciano Berti
(Fondazione Casa Buonarroti), Howard Burns (Scuola Normale Superiore,
Pisa), Cammy Brothers (Virginia University), Caroline Elam (Courtauld Insti-
tute of Art, London), Marzia Faietti (Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi),
Michael Hirst (Courtauld Institute of Art, London), Mauro Mussolin (New York
University in Florence), Pina Ragionieri (Fondazione Casa Buonarroti).

Il Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio di Vicenza, che


insieme alla Fondazione Casa Buonarroti propone questa mostra, è una
fondazione culturale sostenuta dal Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali,
dalla Regione del Veneto, dalla Provincia, Comune e Camera di Commercio di
Vicenza. Fondato nel 1958, ha da sempre un profilo spiccatamente inter-
nazionale e le sue attività sono indirizzate da un consiglio scientifico di cui
fanno parte autorevoli storici dell’architettura provenienti dall’Europa e dagli
Stati Uniti. Il Centro, diretto da Guido Beltramini, promuove pubblicazioni,
convegni e mostre su diversi aspetti della storia dell’architettura. È il solo museo
e istituto di ricerca dedicato esplicitamente alla storia dell’architettura esistente
oggi in Italia. Il Centro ha sede in uno dei più bei palazzi di Palladio, dove negli
ultimi sei anni si sono organizzate grandi mostre alle quali hanno contribuito,
con il prestito di importanti opere d’arte, prestigiosi musei europei e nord-
americani. Tra le principali esposizioni organizzate in questi anni: «Palladio nel
Nord Europa. Libri, viaggiatori, architetti» (1999); «John Soane architetto 1753-
1837», in collaborazione con Royal Academy of Arts e Sir John Soane’s
Museum, Londra (2000); «Vincenzo Scamozzi 1548-1616» (2003); «In Cima.
Giuseppe Terragni per Margherita Sarfatti. Architetture della memoria nel ‘900»,
17

in collaborazione con Centro Studi Giuseppe Terragni, Como (2004); «Andrea


Palladio e la villa veneta. Da Petrarca a Carlo Scarpa» (2005).

Michelangelo: disegni di architettura

Vicenza, Museo Palladio in palazzo Barbaran da Porto (contrà Porti 11), dal 17 settembre al 
10 dicembre 2006.

La mostra sarà successivamente riproposta a Firenze, in Casa Buonarroti, dal 15 dicembre 
2006 al 19 marzo 2007.

Per informazioni:
web site CISA: www.cisapalladio.org
Ufficio Stampa: Studio ESSECI – Sergio Campagnolo tel. 9049.663499 
info@studioesseci.net

The use of my name in this press release certainly did not require my
consent, although, in light of my having declined to participate in the
exhibition, the organizer would have been correct to inform me,
before involving me in his project and associating me with it in
countless newspaper and Internet reports. By the same token, Michael
Hirst was placed, without his knowledge on the Comitato Scientifico
of the exhibition, where he, in fact, declined to serve. Similarly,
according to Elam’s complaints, reported by her friends and others
who had spoken with her, her detailed expertise was published in
‘Michelangelo e Vicenza’ (2002) without her consent, contrary to what
is stated in the depliant (p. 7: “which she has allowed us to reproduce
here”). She did, however, consent to be the ‘curatrice’ of the
exhibition catalogue.

A later press release reads as follows:

"benché non sia mia professione"

Michelangelo e il disegno di architettura


18

Vicenza, Museo Palladio in palazzo Barbaran da Porto, 17 settembre - 10


dicembre 2006
Firenze, Casa Buonarroti, 15 dicembre 2006 - 19 marzo 2007

Vernice per la Stampa: sabato 16 settembre 2006, ore 12

Ulteriori informazioni e immagini:


http://www.studioesseci.net

Comunicato Stampa

Questa mostra è dedicata a quelli che sono forse fra i più bei disegni di
architettura di ogni tempo, tracciati da un autore di eccellenza,
Michelangelo, che attraverso di essi ci racconta le proprie strategie di
progettazione.

Sarà ospitata a Vicenza, nelle sale di palazzo Barbaran da Porto, dal 17


settembre al 10 dicembre 2006, e successivamente riproposta a
Firenze nello spazio espositivo di Casa Buonarroti (dal 15 dicembre
2006 al 19 marzo 2007).

Presenterà alcuni dei più bei disegni architettonici che Michelangelo


abbia realizzato nell'arco della sua vita, disegni che ci permettono di
leggere la complessità delle sue procedure di progettazione. Sappiamo
che spesso queste ultime prendevano avvio da un modello in cera,
purtroppo mai conservatosi, si evolvevano sul foglio da disegno, per
concludersi con disegni in scala 1:1 tracciati in cantiere: sarà ad
esempio possibile presentare in mostra riproduzioni al vero dei disegni
di Michelangelo ritrovati sulle pareti della Sacrestia Nuova a Firenze.

L'esposizione renderà ragione delle tipologie e delle finalità dei


diversi disegni, dal vero e proprio modello per la facciata di San
Lorenzo, al famoso disegno per Porta Pia, agli straordinari studi di
fortificazioni.

Fulcro dell'esposizione è il disegno di un arco trionfale, identificato


nel Corpus dei disegni di Michelangelo di Charles de Tolnay con il n.
630. Questo, che era probabilmente l'ultimo disegno di architettura di
Michelangelo rimasto in una collezione privata, nel 2002 è stato
riportato in Italia e acquisito alle collezioni grafiche del CISA Andrea
Palladio grazie alla Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Verona,
Vicenza, Belluno e Ancona. Il disegno, rapido e vigoroso, a mano
libera – equivalente in termini architettonici di un "primo pensiero"
per una composizione a figure –, rappresenta lo studio per un arco di
trionfo, da collegarsi probabilmente agli apparati effimeri realizzati a
19

Roma e a Firenze per l'ingresso del papa Leone X nel secondo


decennio del Cinquecento. Sul verso dell'opera michelangiolesca
compare un secondo disegno a penna, identificato da Charles Davis
come opera di Jacopo di Giovanni, detto Jacone.

La mostra consentirà di "entrare" nel disegno vicentino e di ragionare


sulla sua autografia, ma anche sulla tecnica di disegno, sulle
convenzioni rappresentative e le procedure creative dell'artista, grazie
alla presenza di capolavori di Michelangelo provenienti in primo
luogo dalla Fondazione Casa Buonarroti di Firenze ma anche da altre
raccolte italiane e britanniche.

Con il foglio vicentino, in mostra ci saranno altri trenta disegni di


architettura. Pur estremamente raffinata e rigorosa nella sua ideazione
e articolazione, questa esposizione sarà in grado di parlare a un
pubblico non specialistico, innanzitutto grazie alla bellezza delle opere
esposte – fra i più affascinanti disegni di architettura mai eseguiti – ma
anche attraverso video di presentazione delle tecniche di disegno e
modelli di ricostruzione.

Un disegno di architettura può apparire talvolta muto agli occhi del


pubblico. Molto spesso viene letto come un'icona del progetto
realizzato e non per quello che in realtà è: uno strumento per la
progettazione di un'opera in cui sono appuntati i pensieri
dell'architetto, verificate soluzioni diverse e, in definitiva, dove sono
registrati il tracciato del pensiero dell'artista e l'evoluzione del
progetto stesso, come attraverso un sismografo o un encefalogramma.
Ciò vale in particolar modo per il corpus grafico di Michelangelo
Buonarroti: nei suoi disegni le diverse soluzioni progettuali spesso si
sovrappongono le une alle altre, dando origine a un palinsesto, a un
vero e proprio diario di viaggio alla ricerca della forma, che si
conclude solo con l'opera realizzata.

La mostra è a cura di Guido Beltramini (CISA Andrea Palladio),


Howard Burns (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa), Caroline Elam
(Londra), che ne hanno affidato l'allestimento all'architetto Umberto
Riva, con Monica Manfredi. Il catalogo, edito da Marsilio (Venezia), è
a cura di Caroline Elam, per quindici anni direttrice del "Burlington
Magazine" (1987-2002), la più prestigiosa rivista mensile di storia
dell'arte al mondo, e recentemente "Andrew W. Mellon Professor" al
Center for Advanced Studies for the Visual Arts della National Gallery
di Washington (2002-2004), e "Kress Fellow" al Courtauld Institute of
Art di Londra.
20

"benché non sia mia professione"


Michelangelo e il disegno di architettura
Vicenza, Museo Palladio in palazzo Barbaran da Porto (contrà Porti 11),
dal 17 settembre al 10 dicembre 2006. La mostra sarà
successivamente riproposta a Firenze, in Casa Buonarroti, dal 15
dicembre 2006 al 19 marzo 2007.

Per informazioni:
web site CISA: www.cisapalladio.org <http://www.cisapalladio.org>

Ufficio Stampa: Studio ESSECI - Sergio Campagnolo tel.049.663499; fax


049 655098 info@studioesseci.net; www.studioesseci.net
<http://www.studioesseci.net>

www.studioesseci.net/allegati/mostre/269/CS%201.Michelangelo.doc.doc

A further press release, issued shortly before the opening of the


exhibition, reads as follows:

Studio ESSSECI, 16. September 2002

MICHELANGELO: DISEGNI DI ARCHITETTURA


Vicenza, Museo Palladio in palazzo Barbaran da Porto
Dal 17 settembre al 10 dicembre 2006

"benché non sia mia professione"


Michelangelo e il disegno di architettura

Vernice per la Stampa: sabato 16 settembre 2006, ore 12

Comunicato Stampa

Mostra assolutamente d’eccezione quella che si inaugura il 16 settembre al


Museo Palladio in Palazzo Barbaran da Porto a Vicenza, aperta al pubblico fino
al 10 dicembre. Protagonista Michelangelo Architetto. In mostra più della metà
di tutti disegni di architettura del Maestro oggi noti al mondo. Una mostra
d’eccezione non solo perché emergerà una dimensione nuova del fiorentino:
“Nelle sue architetture – afferma Howard Burns, che con Caroline Elam e Guido
Beltramini, cura la mostra – Michelanelo scrive poesia. In senso letterale perché
21

non è raro trovare versi poetici appuntati dal Maestro accanto agli schizzi di
architettura, quasi ad esprime di getto l’emozione sorta dall’aver “inventato”
forme armoniche, poetiche appunto. Ma anche perché si serve, nelle sue
architetture non di figure scolpite, ma di capitelli e basamenti, luce e ombra che
evocano i grandi temi poetici della Vita e della Morte, dell'Amore, del Tempo e
della Fama.”.

“Benché non sia mia professione”, come egli stesso scrive, in architettura
Michelangelo è stato grande, grandissimo, interprete, assolutamente all’altezza
di quanto ha raggiunto in pittura, scultura e poesia.

Le ricerche, molto approfondite, che hanno preceduto questa fondamentale


mostra hanno portato anche a numerose nuove scoperte. “Da questa esposizione
e dagli studi raccolti in catalogo (edito da Marsilio) emerge un Michelangelo
ancora più “titanicamente poeta”, afferma Burns. Tra le numerose novità, la
scoperta del primo disegno di architettura oggi conosciuto del Maestro, un foglio
con schizzi sul verso e sul recto, prima solo attribuito e ora documentato di sua
mano. Burns, con l’ausilio di nuove tecnologie digitali, ha scoperto il disegno
originale di mano di Michelangelo sottostare il ripasso ad inchiostro di un suo
allievo e, accanto, sempre autografa del Maestro, una annotazione di misure
espresse in braccia fiorentine. Burns ha anche dimostrato che il verso di questo
disegno raffigura il portale della chiesa fiorentina di San Felice in Piazza: ma
non è il progetto della porta. Il progetto, infatti, è per gli addobbi per la festa
annuale della chiesa, che Michelangelo poi passa all'amico Jacone che ne curava
l'allestimento.

Le ricerche (che, storicamente, su Michelangelo architetto sono state meno


intense che sugli altri aspetti dell’arte del Maestro) hanno anche portato ad
assegnare a lui un edificio sino ad oggi di “architetto anonimo del Cinquecento”,
il Palazzo di Baccio Valori - oggi noto come Galli Tassi, in via Pandolfini a
Firenze.

Riunire a Vicenza trenta opere originali di questo livello è stata una impresa non
facile. Determinante è risultato l’apporto del museo Ashmolean di Oxford, e
della grande raccolta di disegni di Christ Church della stessa città, oltre che
naturalmente della casa Buonarroti che ospiterà la mostra vicentina dal 15
dicembre 2006 al 19 marzo 2007.

“Vorremmo che il pubblico si avvicinasse a questi capolavori di Michelangelo


come se stesse partecipando ad un processo creativo: dalla genesi di un’idea, al
suo successivo avvicinamento alla forma definitiva, con tutti i ripensamenti e le
modifiche, sino alla realizzazione di quegli schizzi e di quegli appunti nelle
forme in pietra” afferma il Presidente del Centro Internazionale di Studi di
Architettura Andrea Palladio, Amalia Sartori.
22

Anche l’allestimento è stato pensato da Umberto Riva e Monica Manfredi come


un percorso emozionante che favorisce un rapporto molto intenso ed individuale
con i disegni, isolati in nitide nicchie. Per rendere parlanti questi materiali, il
visitatore prima di arrivare nel “Sancta Sanctorum”, passa attraverso una serie di
ambienti con multivisioni digitali.

In apertura della mostra, un sorprendente "ritratto dal vivo" di Michelangelo, ad


opera del fotografo Pino Guidolotti, presenta una inedita serie di immagini
digitali, montate in sequenza, del celeberrimo busto di Michelangelo, realizzato
da Daniele da Volterra e conservato alla Casa Buonarroti.

"benché non sia mia professione". MICHELANGELO E IL DISEGNO DI ARCHITETTURA

Vicenza, Museo Palladio in palazzo Barbaran da Porto (contrà Porti 11), dal 17 settembre al
10 dicembre 2006. La mostra sarà successivamente riproposta a Firenze, in Casa Buonarroti,
dal 15 dicembre 2006 al 19 marzo 2007.

Informazioni: web site CISA: www.cisapalladio.org; www.cisapalladio.org


da martedì a domenica, dalle 10 alle 18 (chiuso il lunedì); Ingresso intero 5 euro; ridotto 3
euro; gruppi e scuole 2 euro

http://www.studioesseci.net/mostra.php?IDmostra=269

The Exhibition catalogue:

Michelangelo e il disegno di architettura, Centro Internazionale di


Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio, ed. Caroline Elam, Venezia:
Marsilio, 2006. – 239 pp.; 29 cm. Mostra: Palazzo Barbaran da Porto
<Vicenza>: 17.9.-20.12.2006; Casa Buonarroti <Firenze>: 15.12.2006
- 19.3.2007. – BH: Ca-MIC 26-6060; KHI: J 6214 xmhxm; ZI: D-Mi
59/466.

Numerous newspaper articles and reviews based on press releases


issued and interviews with the organizer accompanied the exhibition.
Some of these are cited above and at the end of this commentary.
Other will be added subsequently.
23

An early commentary on the exhibition was provided by the present


writer:
Rectification : Apropos 'scheda ventiquattro' in the exhibition "Michelangelo e il
disegno di architettura" (Vicenza - Florence, 2006 - 2007), pp. 209-219, by
Charles Davis. München: FONDAMENTAarte, 2006. – 6, [1] pp., Ill.; 30 cm.

This text may be read at the largest art history libraries at Rome, Florence, and
Münich (www.kubikat.org). Electronic versions have circulated. Upon appli-
cation, an electronic copy may be received from FONDAMENTAarte (eMail:
fondamentaARTE@t-online.de).

My discussion contains the following principal mistakes: (1) it accepts the


attribution of the drawing to Michelangelo; (2) it follows the assumption that the
recto and verso of the drawing are by two different artists; (3) it maintains the
attribution to Jacone of the verso. These conclusions are corrected in Recti-
fication [2], which follows.

Owing to other commitments, Rectification [2], which was written in 2006 has
not appeared earlier.
24

RECTIFICATION [2]:

The following text was written in early October 2006; some additions
were made on 23 October 2006 (here given in italics). The text has
been read in 2006 by some Michelangelo experts and by other
qualified readers. It constitutes the promised second part of
Rectification [1]: Apropos ‘Scheda ventiquattro’ in the Exhibition
“Michelangelo e il disegno di architettura” (Vicenza-Florence, 2006-
2007), pp. 209-219, München, FONDAMENTAarte, 2006
[September]. The text itself constitutes a sort of ‘draft research’, a
work in progress to which it is hoped that contributions and
corrections may come from others. In as much as the findings have
already informally circulated, I have chosen to make widely accessible
the text in the formulation of October 2006. A few subsequent
additions and modifications have been made here in the form of
clearly identified addenda.

The text of RECTIFICATION [2] follows:

In light of the numerous questions raised concerning the attri-


bution to Jacone of the verso of the Vicenza drawing
(Fondazione Cariverona, in deposit at CISA, Raccolta grafica) in
scheda ventiquattro of the exhibition catalogue, Michelangelo e
il disegno di architettura (Vicenza-Florence, 2006-2007) and in
light of the many problematic and, in part, contradictory
considerations concerning the recto of the same drawing
(including the relationship of recto to verso) advanced in the
same catalogue, it appears incumbent to reconsider the drawing
ex novo in its totality. A general conclusion at the present time
is that the Vicenza drawing is drawn by a single hand (recto and
verso), and by, more specifically, a Florentine artist, between
25

around 1565 and 1590. A provisional hypothesis of attribution


to, for example, an ‘anonimo collaboratore di Bernardo
Buontalenti’ represents a perhaps fruitful line for further
exploration.

I. REGARDING FIGURES 25F AND 25G:

In the exhibition catalogue, Michelangelo e il disegno di


architettura, figs. 25f and 25g (= the verso of the Vicenza
drawing, without the pen-and-ink drawing, which has been
removed using digital image processing [although some
newspaper reports state that laser technology was employed –
the technical procedure is unfortunately not explained in the
catalogue]) provide a completely new point of entry into the
numerous unresolved questions which this drawing has raised,
questions raised both by the exhibition's cataloguer and by
those who doubt or deny its attribution to Michelangelo, doubts
which, although widespread, are in some quarters treated as
unthinkable and indeed inadmissible. The red chalk under
drawing was previously nearly indecipherable, owing to the
dense and dark ink over-drawing, and the questions the new
image raises are only marginally treated in scheda ventiquattro.
Shortly before the opening of the exhibition on 16 September
2006, newspaper articles reported that this under drawing "è
stato ritrovato, scoperto, quasi casualmente durante gli studi
preparatori della mostra" (Paolo Vagheggi, in: «la
Repubblica», venerdì 1 settembre 2006, p. 50; see infra).

[The consideration of this question is facilitated by making enlarged


quality photocopies of figs. 25f and 25g, which are susceptible to
considerable enlargement.]

Nevertheless, a number of initial preliminary conclusions are


possible:

(1) The under drawing is not comparable to the known drawings


attributed to Jacone, and hence, as a working hypothesis, one
must assume that the under drawing is 'not by Jacone'. For the
implications of this conclusion, see infra.
26

(2) The under drawing, as it has been revealed, does not appear
to make any particular claim to be from Michelangelo's hand,
considered as a drawing in and of itself. For the inscription "b.
5¼", see infra.

(3) Function. The under drawing seems to serve two purposes:

(a) The intention of the red chalk under drawing is, possibly,
to register the dimensions of the portal of the church San Felice
in Piazza and, almost certainly, to map out very summarily the
outlines of a design preparatory to the pen and ink drawing
applied over it, which elaborates it in order to formulate a plan
for the temporary decoration of the entrance door of the church
on the occasion of a feast of the Confraternity of the Virgin
Annunciate called "dell'Orciuolo". Very many, if perhaps not
most sixteenth-century Florentine drawings in pen and ink are
drawn over lightly sketched under drawings in chalk or pencil,
which have been made in preparation for the subsequent ink
drawings, which, in turn, often conceal the under drawing. That
the present under drawing is, functionally, closely bound to the
over-drawing suggests rather compellingly that both drawings
are by the same draughtsman, who obviously understood how
to complete the very summary and only half-formulated sketch,
which he had conceived; see, for instance, the 'palla medicea'
with peripheral 'dadi' (cubes) at the right, in ink, which the
draughtsman knew to add, in completion, to the 'palla' at the
left, in a variation intended from the outset, but not prescribed
explicitly in the under drawing itself. This consideration
logically appears to eliminate the claim of Jacone to the
authorship of the pen and ink drawing applied over the under
drawing (in that he is not the author of the under drawing), a
conclusion which accords with the very numerous doubts
expressed in the exhibition catalogue (CISA-Casa Buonarroti)
concerning the presence of Jacone's hand in the drawing. In any
event, the normal case for the vast majority of old master
drawings is that they are executed by a single hand. Despite
exceptions, drawing is not a collaborative art. (Michelangelo's
drawings do contain a perhaps unusual number of extraneous
27

graphic additions, but for this consideration to be relevant it


must, in the first instance, be demonstrated that the drawing is
by Michelangelo, if only in part.) The likelihood that the pen-
and-ink drawing is by the same hand as the red chalk drawing
beneath it is immensely greater than that of the converse case,
which would posit the intervention of two distinct hands (and
indeed raise the possibility that three draughtsmen are active on
the sheet). It is methodologically correct to assume a single
hand unless compelling arguments can be adduced for the
contrary case.

(b) The second function of the under drawing is to plan the


symbolisms referential to the worlds of patronage and religious
celebration to which the decoration of the arched portal of the
church of San Felice in Piazza is addressed. These symbolic
references are contained in the three most clearly delineated
elements of the under drawing:

(1) the vase or 'brocca' at the upper centre, over the


'stemma', clearly (in light of the subsequent pen and ink
drawing) a reference to the Virgin Annunciate and presumably
to the Confraternity of the "Orciuolo".

(2) the central 'stemma impanneggiato' (= with fabric)


bearing a lituus-like crosier (= 'pastorale'), apparently a
'stemma ecclesiastico' (possibly in reference to a bishop), a
circumstance which remains to be explained.

(3) The 'palla' with, on its foward side, potentially five


'cerchietti'. This 'palla', in light of the proximity of the Medici
Palazzo Pitti and the long-established connections of the Medici
with the Feast of San Felice, must be seen as a Medici 'palla', as
all writers have maintained. The five 'cerchietti' might seem to
point to a 'late' date, but this point needs to be more closely
elucidated. Neither the elaborate 'palla' (or 'palle') or the
'stemma panneggiato' seem particularly Michelangelesque, and
indeed they point in other directions. The ‘ferro di cavallo’,
which seemed to characterize the design of the ‘stemma’ has
disappeared in the ‘elaborazione digitale’ of fig. 24g.
28

Simply as a possible or plausible example or model, and for the


sake of illustration of how these symbolisms might accord with
one another, one might hypothesize an occasion of the annual
feast of the Virgin Annunciate at San Felice during the bishopric
of Alessandro de' Medici as Archbishop of Florence (from 1574;
Cardinal 1583).

It is difficult to avoid the impression that the primary purpose


of the under drawing is to articulate the elements of the
symbolic decoration (as is that of the pen-and-ink drawing that
lies over it), and that the diagrammatic indication of the church
portal is merely a structure on which to dispose these symbolic
elements. There seems no reason why Michelangelo would need
make such a drawing (unless he were planning the ephemeral
decoration of the portal), nor is a drawing of this nature
characteristic of his practice.

ADDENDUM (23.10.2006): If the symbolisms contained in the red


chalk under drawing, and developed in the ink drawing, are
examined more closely, the possibility that Michelangelo
conceived or drew them nearly disappears.

At the far left of fig. 24f (Raccolta grafica, no. 1 verso: under
drawing) there is sketched in, in red chalk, a circle surrounded
on its periphery by small circlets. The under drawing is
effectively made as a pro memoria, as is the pen-and-ink
design drawn over it, which, in turn serves to explicate and
clarify certain aspects of the under drawing. As the pen and
ink drawing makes explicit, the circle and circlets of the under
drawing are to be understood as round, that is, as spherical.
In the under drawing, only four circlets are indicated explicitly
in red chalk, but symmetry demands that five circlets are to be
understood implicitly. As soon as we comprehend that the
large circle represents a globe, then it becomes clear that a
further circlet or 'pallina' lies on the far side of the globe (which
we do not see) at an 'equatorial' latitude. Thus the small 'palle'
are in the number of six, that is in the number of 'palle' that
belong to the Medici arms ('stemma'). The 'palle' symbolisms
29

were deadly familiar in mid-century Florence, and would have


escaped no one. What is represented in the under drawing is
the 'palla-mondo' impresa of Cosimo I de’ Medici.

This image is the visualization of a verbal pun on the palla-


mondo: Cosmo (Cosimo) = Cosmo (il mondo), or 'Cosimo/
Cosmos', which carried the 'deeper' meaning of the world as
Cosimo and of Cosimo as universal. In the course of Cosimo's
triumphal entry into Siena in 1560, this image appears,
perhaps for the first time (as specialized studies maintain),
when there is found a 'mondo' at the top of an arch, explained
with the words, "ΚΟΣΜΟΣ ΚΟΣΜΟΤ ΚΟΣΜΟΣ", which Anton
Francesco Cirni (Corso) (1560, p. 4 verso) explains thusly: the
Duke "Cosmo" honors the world, and the world, him, or
rather, the world belongs to Cosimo, and he to the world" (A. F.
Cirni Corso, La reale entrata dell’Eccellentissimo Signor Duca
e Duchessa di Fiorenza, in Siena, Roma: A. Blado, 1560, 12 pp.;
KHI: P 1224q raro; Paul William Richelson, Studies in the
Personal Imagery of Cosimo I, Princeton University, Disser-
tation, 1973, New York: Garland, 1978, p. 70, note 60; cf. Janet
Cox-Rearick, Dynasty and Destiny in Medici Art, Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1984, p. 279). This component of
Cosimo's personal imagery is seen again, in 1569, in an
'impresa' of Cosimo contained in Egnazio Danti's Trattato
dell'uso et della fabbrica dell'astrolabio (Florence, 1569) with,
as a motto, the words, "ΚΟΣΜΟΣ ΚΟΣΜƠ[or Ō (?)] ΚΟΣΜΟΣ",
beneath the globe of the world, to the surface of which are
affixed the six Medici 'palle', and hence there is represented a
'mondo impalleggiato' which symbolizes the 'cosmos cosmiano'
of Cosimo I de' Medici, Duke of Florence (1537 ff.) and Siena
(1560), and later Grand Duke of Tuscany (1569-1574) –
illustrated in: Janet Cox-Rearick, Dynasty and Destiny, fig.
186.

The three-dimensional globe planned with six symmetrical


'palle' ornamenting it in the under drawing for the ex-Jacone
pen-and-ink drawing for the decoration of the main portal of
San Felice, by the 1560s in the Medici quarter of palazzo Pitti,
represents a symbolically identical image, with only a minimal
30

variation in the visual/spatial disposition of the six little balls,


which, were they to speak, would say, "palle", "palle", "palle",
"palle", "palle", "palle", which is simply another way of
pronouncing the name, "Cosimo I Duca" and which recalls the
'palle palle' cries of the little boys dressed in white gowns who
preceded Cosimo in his entry into Siena in 1560. The
chronological implications of this unmistakable and unequi-
vocal statement are so obvious that they do not require
comment and, indeed, appear inescapable. The image 'Cosimo-
Cosmos' appears to date only from the 1560s, but earlier
examples may in time be identified. In any event
Michelangelo's allegiance to Cosimo I was, at best, slight, and
it appears nearly inconceivable that he would deign to devise
such an intricate image in the service of courtly Medicean
panegyrics, when he completely ignored the Duke's many
entreaties to return to Florence in the aftermath of his final
departure from the city in 1534.

Thus it is clear that the artist of the verso of the Vicenza


drawing is formulating a symbolic programme consisting of a
complex of highly specific heraldic and quasi-heraldic
elements, and, further, that in this iconographic programme
the single Medicean heraldic elements have become detached
from the formal heraldic context to which they belong, that is
to say, from the Medici coat-of-arms itself, in a free play of
'palle'. It is not entirely clear when this development emerged
in Cosmian-Medicean iconography, but it would appear to
represent an advanced phase, appearing not before the 1550s
(façade of the palace of Sforza Almeni; Palazzo Vecchio).
[There are precedents in Clementine iconography.] The
invention of this late-Medicean iconographic programme is as
foreign to Michelangelo's mentality and to his art as it is to his
political allegiances and sympathies. The are no 'palle-palle'
poems among his verses; we are in the world of Sebastiano
Sanleolino's Serenissimi Cosmi Medycis Primi Hetruiae
Magniducis Actiones (Florence: Mariscoti, 1578) and that of
later Medici panegyrics.
31

In 'scheda ventiquattro' the claim that the under drawing


shown in figs. 24f and 24g is by Michelangelo rests entirely on
the assertion that the inscription "b(raccia) 5 ¼" (p. 209; read
alternatively as "b(raccia) 3 ¼" on p. 210) is written in
Michelangelo's hand (“nota autografa”). This is far from
certain, and indeed certainly wrong with regard to every single
element of the brief indication of measurement which exhibits
any individual characteristic whatsoever, wrong, that is, with
regard to the ‘b’ abbreviation of ‘braccia’, and wrong with regard
to the numbers ‘5’ and ‘4’, none of which corresponds to
authentic specimens from Michelangelo’s hand, despite
assertions in the catalogue to the contrary. The fractional
expression of "¼" in "5¼" is presented in the Vicenza
catalogue, with reference to the form of the "4" as an "x" set on
its side, as an idiosyncratic usage, associable with Michelangelo,
who, in point of fact, does not ever write the number '4' in
exactly this form. The inferior '4' in a fractional expression (e.g.,
"¼") does however occur as an inferior fractional number in
exactly the same form (although reversed) in a drawing by
Bernardo Buontalenti (Uffizi 2315A recto; illustrated in Adolfo
Venturi, Storia dell’arte italiana, 1939, XI/2, p. 492, fig. 444;
see also the books about Buontalenti by Amelio Fara); it occurs
again in Uffizi 2315A verso, by Buontalenti in the fractional
expression "¼" (if, that is, one understands the "x" set on its
side as a "4"). The graphic indications of '4' in Corpus, nos. 478-
479 are simply not in the form of an 'x'; here the four takes two
forms: (1) a rapidly drawn '4' formed by a downward stroke and
then an upward one, followed by a looping descending line; (2)
an equally economical '4', resembling a 'Q' or a 'φ', but not an 'x'
set on its side. The character of this inscription on the verso of
the Vicenza drawing is, it merits repeating, the only reason
adduced for attributing the under drawing of the verso to
Michelangelo (aside from the presence of two construction
lines, such as characterized the graphic practice of many
architects), but, as we have seen, the arguments advanced are
not binding in light of contrary evidence (see infra et supra).
Further: the ‘b’-formula as an indication of ‘braccio/braccia’ in
Raccolta grafica no. 1 does not, in point of fact, strongly
resemble ("paralleli stretti") the "b" abbreviations for "braccia"
32

contained on Tolnay, Corpus, nos. 478-479 (Archivio


Buonarroti, I, 127, fols 240-241: = fig. 24h). Specifically it
should be noted that the rising terminal flourish of the ‘b’
crosses the superior arm of this letter as it moves over it to
indicate an abbreviation, crosses it, that is, as a ‘t’ is crossed.
None of the ‘b’s’ of Corpus, nos. 478-479, is crossed (fig. 24h),
and while Michelangelo does write braccia abbreviations in
which the ‘b’ is crossed, none of these crossings are made by a
rising linear terminal flourish. The form of the ‘b’ abbreviation
illustrated in fig. 24g finds close parallels in numerous late
Cinquecento Florentine architectural drawings, in the years
leading up to 1600 and later. It is matched, for instance, in
Uffizi 2365A verso, a drawing by Bernardo Buontalenti (“b 23
½”, lightly inscribed in pencil). One should not lose sight of the
fact that, whoever writes them, all "$"-signs or "₤"-signs
resemble one another. Here, too, in the 'braccia' abbreviation,
we are dealing with a conventional standard abbreviation,
written, from time to time, within a restricted range of variation
(cf. Adriano Cappelli, Dizionario di abbreviature latine e
italiane, Milano 1929, pp. 30ff.). The form of the number ‘5’ is
also not notably characteristic of Michelangelo, whose numbers
five most often resemble an ‘S’. The ‘five’ of fig. 24g has a zigzag
form, organized around a steep, rightward slanting diagonal
axis, devoid of curving elements and almost swastika-like in its
incisive graphic formulation. [The same five is on the recto.] The
calligraphic extravagance of the "b" on Raccolta grafica no. 1
verso ("exuberance"?) is, further, paralleled in the handwriting
found on the recto, with its exuberant "V" in the word 'adverso'.
My impression is that the handwriting of the verso of the
Vicenza drawing is the same as that of the recto, but it must be
observed that the "b. 1/x"-inscription contains only a few
characters (see also two possible '4's at the margins of the
recto). In any event, one may ask if 'exuberance' is a
characteristic of the calligraphy of Michelangelo in any of its
variations, and more generally if exuberance was a trait of
Michelangelo's character once his youth passed by. Calligraphic
flourishes do characterize some specimens of Italian
handwriting in certain situations and at certain times, partly
under the influence of printed manuals of calligraphy (see
33

infra). Even in chalk-inscribed examples, Michelangelo’s


handwriting retains something of the chain-link-like structuring
which characterized his regularized and slightly affected cursive
italic script, a trait which is absent from the more informal
calligraphy of the Raccolta grafica no. 1 recto.

II. WHY THE VICENZA DRAWING IS ‘BY MICHELANGELO’:

Numerous expert opinions (A.E.Popham ["in via di ipotesi"],


Johannes Wilde [verbal communication to Julien Stock],
Charles de Tolnay [Corpus], Wolfgang Lotz, Michael Hirst [“in
conversation”], Paul Joannides) of various degrees of certainty
are cited by Burns and Elam in favour of an attribution to
Michelangelo. The contrary opinion of Alexander Perrig is
simply dismissed out of hand as apparently not worthy of
consideration. The cited opinions seem the principal ground for
the statement that the "attribution of the recto presents no
problems" This affirmation, on the part of the cataloguer,
carries no weight, in light of the fact that it is widely known that
qualified doubts persist, and that these doubts were well known
to the cataloguer, who addresses them with silence. This stance
belongs to a very extensive pattern of affirmations which has
sought to impose the attribution to Michelangelo without
discussion. We have not yet been able to read the often cited
letter of Wolfang Lotz ("inedita"), who died in October 1981,
and thus one must, on this point, suspend judgment. Burns,
who is almost certainly in possession of the original or a copy of
the letter, which he relates selectively, should make it
acccessible in its entirety [For contrary opinions, see infra.] Of the
other distinguished experts called into account, only Tolnay,
perhaps, had studied Michelangelo's architecture and his
architectural drawings in great depth long before 1979 – this
being the last time the drawing was shown publicly before the
present exhibition [in February, 1979, Sotheby's , London, and again,
just before the sale in June], excepting the brief unveiling in
Vicenza on 1 March 2002, in a “teca” flanked by armed guards.
One might ask after the opinion, here unrecorded, of “James S.
Ackerman, studioso di Michelangelo”, to whom the 2006
34

exhibition catalogue is dedicated. [It should be noted that Michael


Hirst has reconsidered the drawing, which he saw only once, prior to its
sale in 1979 in London. Following an examination of the original in the
Florence exhibition, Hirst denies the attribution to Michelangelo,
confirming his earlier rejection of the sheet, partly in response to the
considerations presented here (letter to the present writer of 10
November 2006, in his possession)].

Nevertheless, if one attempts to formulate the reasons why the


recto drawing is by Michelangelo, it will be seen that these
reasons are far less conclusive than the cataloguer in scheda
ventiquattro maintains, and, further, that those characteristics
of the drawing that are presented as traits identifying the
draughtsman as Michelangelo are characteristics which can be
found elsewhere, that is, in other draughtsmen, and found not
merely as isolated single characteristics, but also in
combination. I shall first formulate the essential justifications
for a conceivable attribution to Michelangelo, as I see them, and
then turn, summarily, to the grounds advanced in the 2002
publication (Michelangelo a Vicenza) and in the present
catalogue, as well as in the attendant newspaper articles that
accompanied these publications, often offering arguments for
the attribution to Michelangelo in a more assertive form and
making claims for the drawing not expressly introduced in the
exhibition catalogue itself, e.g., that the Vicenza drawing
represents Michelangelo's first surviving architectural drawing.

(1) The drawing employs a graphic system of architectural


description or representation (orthogonal, i.e., non perspectival,
combined with a simplification of architectural forms), which,
when executed in red or black chalk in a somewhat sketchy
manner, bears a resemblance, perhaps only superficial, to some
of Michelangelo's architectural drawings. The abbreviated
orthogonal representation of architecture is also employed in
the Codex Corner, from which Michelangelo copied, and
Michelangelo may have learned it from the copies he made. This
system was a widely practiced one. For example, a drawing such
as Uffizi 2842A (there attributed to Giovannantonio Dosio),
executed in chalk, appears at first glance almost
35

Michelangelesque, although perhaps no one would seriously


want to attribute it to Michelangelo himself (cf. Adriano Ghisetti
Giavarina, Aristotile da Sangallo, Roma: Multigrafica Ed.,
1990, fig. 83: Uffizi 4312A).

(2) The simplification and abbreviation of architectural forms


manifest in the recto of the Vicenza drawing (capitals,
entablatures, bases, etc., especially in the profiles) may appear
to resemble Michelangelo's drawings, but they are present in
the Codex Corner system of architectural representation and
elsewhere, and they serve to simplify and expedite the process
of architectural planning and documentation.

(3) Certain Michelangiolisms: These are mainly Burns's and


Elam’s "signs and conventions"; for the most part the signs:
rapid, 'hacking' short diagonal lines indicating the lateral
projections of elements in entablatures and bases (cornices,
architraves, mouldings); graphic abbreviations, etc. These are
not many.

(4) The 'palimpsest syndrome': The draughtsmen of the arch of


the recto of the Vicenza drawing clearly drew the beginnings of
a first idea for his structure and then, it would appear, changed
his mind in mid-stream and, without hesitation, simply drew a
second project for an arch on top of it. (In fact, there seem
several mind-changes embodied in the drawing, and it is not
clear that any distinct concept or concepts can be unequivocally
extracted from it.) This is seen by Burns and Elam as
characteristic of Michelangelo's working method, as indeed it
may be, but countless other artists and scribbling dabblers
practice it as well, and indeed this approach to the design
process is quite widespread among draughtsmen and in time. It
is scarcely unique to Michelangelo, and it remains to be seen if
the exact nature and iter of the revisions manifested in the arch
of the recto are characteristic of Michelangelo in his 'palimpsest'
mode.

While there are some other grounds for the attribution to


Michelangelo advanced in the 2002 publication (Michelangelo
36

a Vicenza) and in the present catalogue, as well as in the


attendant newspaper articles, press releases, and interviews
that accompanied these publications, these must be treated on a
subsequent occasion. It is noteworthy that none of these
elements constitute absolute individual characteristics that
inevitably demonstrate an attribution to Michelangelo.
37

III. THE RESTITUTIONS OF FIGS. 24A AND 24B:

The two arches are conventional and uninteresting. Their


appearance is strange. The 'doubling' of the arch designs makes
the 'deficiencies' of the drawing acutely apparent and lays bear
the un-michelangelesque character of the draughtsmanship.
Fig. 24b is exceedingly similar to Uffizi 4314A, attributed to the
circle of Sangallo (see. A. Ghisetti Giavarina, Aristotile, 1990,
fig. 86), which is a further testimony to the unremarkable
character of the arch design.
38

IV. 'DUCTUS' AND "IL DISEGNO BRUTTO":

In talking with friends and acquaintances, I have experienced


that upon seeing, unprepared, the cover of the exhibition
catalogue, they remark, "Che disegno brutto!", or express a
variation on this thought. In my view, and as I shall attempt to
demonstrate, the almost harsh and brutal style of drawing
which is manifest in the arch of the recto represents a conscious
aesthetic scelta on the part of the draughtsman, one which is
not a merely personal choice but one, in the course of time,
made, for various reasons, by numerous other artists, in a kind
of 'art brut' avant la lettre. I do not believe, as I shall attempt to
39

demonstrate, that this aesthetic inclination manifests itself in


Michelangelo's architectural drawings in chalk, even when they
are summarily executed. The question is, naturally, a
fundamental one in the interpretation of Michelangelo's graphic
oeuvre and of the character of his art in its entirety.

For shading or in order to impart relief to architectural


elements Michelangelo uses parallel or tendentially parallel
hatching (often in the background, that is, beside the tangible
architectural elements).

Michelangelo's architectural drawings tend to be precise,


delicate, and restrained, and not shaggy, crooked, and lopsided,
drawn with a 'tratto duro'. (It is not certain that every other
drawing shown in the exhibition as ‘Michelangelo’ is from the
master’s own hand.) When Michelangelo draws in an
approximating way, there remains a lightness of touch, indeed a
not inexpressive tentativeness, with almost a note of hesitation,
and this is a not negligible contributing factor to the ashen
beauty of such drawings. Indeed, Michelangelo' architectural
drawings very often possess something of the grave beauty and
elegance of the decoration of the Laurentian Library reading
room.

There is most often a trace of reflectiveness in Michelangelo's


architectural drawings, as if he saw drawing, as did Joseph
Beuys, as the visible form of thought. As do the drawings of
Beuys, Michelangelo's drawing often seem possessed with a
mysterious faintness, almost evanescent, as if they were about
to disappear.

This is in marked contrast to the harsh drawing of the arch on


the recto of the Vicenza drawing, where impulsive spontaneity
reigns. Moreover, in contradistinction, an artist such as
Bernardo Buontalenti practices at times a kind of action-
drawing in which forms emerge from seemingly aimless lines
and seemingly haphazard, sometimes almost crudely drawn
marks.
40

Although it has been considered primarily as a figural drawing,


the pen-and-ink drawing of the verso of the disputed sheet
perhaps betrays more of the hand of an architectural
draughtsman than has been hitherto suggested. The
architectural indications of the underdrawing have been
confidently developed without hesitation. The use of lateral
hatching to indicate an inferior plane at the sides of the
architectural elements is a clear convention of architectural
drawing, as is the diagonal shading with rapidly drawn parallel
lines in the lower portion of the entablature at the lower left of
the sheet and the ‘template-like’ emphasizing of the profiles of
the architectural elements in this zone. The nearly amorphous
description of the featureless heads is another characteristic
trait which merits consideration. The parallel and crossed
hatching with parallel lines assumes at certain points almost the
appearance of a graphic exercise. The presence of the male torso
at the bottom of the verso indicates, rather than a premature
termination of the portal, an artist with a propensity to
accumulate multiple motives on a single sheet, a sheet that was
apparently much larger than the present fragment. A fairly
developed chalk drawing consumed by an overlaid pen-and-ink
drawing is a practice often exemplified in the architectural
drawings of a Buontalenti.

(Last revision: 23.10.2006)


41

PARLANCE – PRICE – PROVENANCE:

PARLANCE (dialogue/dialogo):
The organizer of the manifestations centered around the CISA drawing has
repeatedly proposed the drawing as a topic for discussion. The recourse to a
press agency, Studio Esseci (Padova), has prompted innumerable treatments of
the drawing in the Italian press, placing it in the public domain. The pamphlet,
Michelangelo a Vicenza, expresses the hope that future research will answer the
many open questions concerning the drawing. In his conclusion to ‘Scheda
ventiquattro’ Burns lists a number of open questions concerning the drawing
that, again, remain for future research to discuss, indicating an interest in a wider
consideration of the drawing. Nevertheless, Burns has sought this dialogue
through interviews with journalists, and with his own students, but he has shied
away from discussions with professional colleagues and with members of the
Centro’s Comitato scientifico. I suggested, in writing, to the Uffizi drawing
cabinet and to CISA that they organized a ‘tavola rotonda’ in Florence during the
exhibition at the Casa Buonarroti, but this suggestion was not followed.

PRICE:
Although it is suggested that to name the price paid by Cariverona for the
drawing is somehow indiscreet, the economic functioning of the art market
requires that prices be known to the market of buyers and sellers, the art market
is a focus of modern art history, and the price paid reflects a current estimate of
how convincing an attribution at the time of the sale transaction is, both for
buyer and seller.

At Vicenza the question of price was addressed in various forms in 2002 and
2006, at the times of public manifestations. One spoke of the “long negotiation”,
lasting a year. A central topic in sale negotiations is price. In comparison to the 6
million pounds sterling paid for a Michelangelo drawing a year earlier, the price
paid was “molto, ma molto inferiore” – “not a market price”. The generosity of
the former owner is “reflected in the price”. – “The negotiated price reflected the
owner’s desire to facilitate the permanent transfer of the drawing to the Centro”
(Burns, in: Michelangelo a Vicenza, p. 7). That would mean that the widow
42

accepted a price less than she sought in negotiations, that is, a price ‘less than
Michelangelo’. The seller is thanked on p. 10 (Michelangelo a Vicenza): “(...) it
remains only to thank the former owner of the drawing for wishing that the
drawing should find a permanent home in Italy, and specifically at the Centro
(..).” Usually donors rather than sellers are thanked, but here the “negotiated
prices” are in play.

There was nothing secret or confidential about the price paid: the equivalent of
Euro 220.769 in pounds sterling. The Fondazione Cariverona placed this
information in the public domain on its web sites:

RELAZIONE E BILANCIO DELL’ESSERCIZIO 2002:


p. 42: “euro 220.769 per l’acquisto di un disegno attributito a Michelangelo”
p. 61: “I Beni artistici di proprietà presso terzi sono relativi: (...)
– ad un disegno a sanguigna attribuito a Michelangelo per euro 220.769
depositato presso il Centro Internazionale Studi Architettura A. Palladio di
Vicenza”
( http://www.acri.it/3_fond/3_fond_files/Bilanci_2002/4705_B_02.pdf )

Relazione e bilancio dell’essercizio, 2001, Fondazione Cassa di


Risparmio di Verona Belluno e Ancona, p. 35:

„Disegno di Michelangelo Buonarroti

“Dopo oltre due secoli, grazie alla Fondazione, è tornato in Italia un disegno
architettonico attribuito a Michelangelo, databile verso la metà del secondo
decennio del Cinquecento, conservato in una importante collezione privata
inglese. È l’opera dell’artista ormai quarantenne che si sta avvicinando
all’architettura dopo le esperienze come scultore e come progettista del
monumento funebre di papa Giulio II. Il disegno, eseguito di getto, più per
fermare un’idea che per meditata elaborazione, fu accolto nel corpus dei disegni
del grande artista stabilito da Charles de Tolnay e si avvale delle attribuzioni di
A. E. Popham, J. Wilde, Caroline Elam, Howard Burns, i maggiori studiosi di
Michelangelo. Il disegno, acquisito per 220.000 Euro circa, è stato concesso in
deposito al CISA di Vicenza, che già possiede un corpus di disegni di Andrea
Palladio.”
(http://www.acri.it/3_fond/3_fond_files/Bilanci_2001/4705_B_01.pdf )

It is clear that the Fondazione paid for a drawing “attributed to Michelangelo”


and not a drawing “by Michelangelo”. The meanings of the terms used are
conventional ones in the art market, and they are explained carefully in many
43

sale catalogues. The prices of Michelangelo drawings in recent decades can


easily be followed in printed and Internet indices of prices, and they have been
the subject of many articles in the press, often to be read online. Here can be
mentioned articles by Souren Melikian, one of the most acute observers of the
art market in recent years, often writing in the International Herald Tribune
(31.01.1998, 12.07.2001, 25.03.2002: $7.48 million, £5.94 million, £8.14
million, €13 million). The €220,000 circa (less than £200,000) paid bears little
relation to the prices paid for genuine Michelangelo drawings, even considering
that an architectural drawing might bring substantially less. This analysis was
indirectly confirmed in a press interview with Burns, where he stated that
previously the drawing was only an attribution, but following the ‘discovery’ of
a autograph annotation by Michelangelo on the verso, the drawing is
documented as by Michelangelo (“prima solo attribuito e ora documentato di
sua mano”). Burns also maintained to the press (2006) that now, after his
establishing the drawing as an autograph Michelangelo, the drawing is worth
more than a “millione”, although its not clear in which currency, sterling or
euros, or possibly dollars. In any event, we can talk about price without
embarassment.

Documentation:
http://www.fondazionecrverona.org/home1.php3 : 'Bilancio di esercizio
consuntivo, 2001', p. 34: "€220,000"

The art sales index, Art Sales Index Ltd., 1979: see 'Michelangelo'
(£14,000 / $29,400) = The Annual Art Sales Index, 1978/1979, vol. II, p.
1056: Michelangelo, Project for an Arcus Quadrifrons Monument.

Sale catalogue (“MARIO”): An Interesting Collection of Old Master


Drawings formed by an eminent connoisseur, The Property of his Widow,
Sotheby Parke Bernet & Co., London, New Bond Street, 28 June 1979,
lot 40 (estimated price: £18,000).

The price paid in 1979 was significantly (circa 20%) below the estimated
price. The price appreciation between 1979 and 2001 is complicated by
the introduction of the Euro, but using the US Dollar as a common
denominator, the following computation is possible:

$30,000 in 1979; €220,000 in 2002 = $198,000

Gain: $180,000 over 23 years. This represents a return on investment at


an annual compounded interest rate of approximately 8.1%, only
moderately better than a relatively low risk financial investment in this
period of time. To gain perspective it may be considered that €220,000 in
44

2002 represented approximately a monolocale in an attractive Italian city,


not a major expenditure or risk for a large bank.

PROVENANCE:
The provenance of the drawing is not a secret. A number of art historians,
including students of architecture, saw the drawing at its two showings in
London in 1979, and some, including Burns and his friends, were present at the
public auction in June. Thirty years is a long time, but it is within the living
memory of a number of surviving participants.

In general it is true that establishing a complete a provenance as possibile


belongs to the basic attempt of art history to secure the identity of the objects it
studies, a concern relevant to many of the wide range of questions that historians
address to works of art. James Byam Shaw’s introduction to his catalogue of the
drawings at Christ Church, Oxford, contains an illuminating statement of why,
with reference to drawings, provenance and the old inscriptions on drawings
matter so much. Provenance is an established element of drawing and exhibition
catalogues. In recent years, Provenance-Forschung has concentrated on works
of art that disappeared between 1933 and 1945, an area to which Gert-Rudolf
Flick’s Missing Masterpieces - Lost Works of Art, 1450 – 1900, London 2003, is
related.

TOLNAY: “In any case the drawing was already present in England when Charles
de Tolnay included it in his Corpus of Michelangelo drawings; it remained in
England after a private collector bought it at a Sotheby’s sale in 1979” (2002).
See the Sale catalogue, 1979, quoted infra: letter of Tolnay, 25.02.1975, that is at
the time the drawing was exhibited in London, February 1979, well before the
sale in June. Paul Joannides called Tolnay’s attention to the drawing. It is not at
all clear that Tolnay ever saw the original drawing. It is included in the last
volume of the Corpus (1980). Tolnay died on 17 January 1981 in Florence.

“It is not known when it left Italy. It is possible that it once formed part of the
collection at the Casa Buonarroti in Florence, deriving from Michelangelo
himself (...)”, 2002, p. 7. In 2002 several newspapers reported that the drawing
left Italy 200 years earlier. See 2002, p. 7: sales of drawings from the Casa
Buonarroti by Filippo Buonarroti (1761-1839) and Cavaliere Michelangelo
Buonarroti (1805-1960): sales of drawings, e.g., to Wicar (then to Lawrence).
This has the effect of suggesting a prestigious provenance, a typical marketing
argument.

THE PROVENANCE OF THE FONDAZIONE CARIVERONA/CISA DRAWING :


45

The information concerning the provenance given in the 2006 Exhibition


Catalogue, catalogue number 24 is incomplete. There follows a fuller account of
the provenance.

Casa Buonarroti (?) [Michelangelo a Vicenza, Vicenza 2002]. This frequent


suggestion seems baseless, as is the related suggestion that the drawing left Italy
two centuries ago (2002), that is, ca. 1800. (“It is possible that it once formed
part of the collection at the Casa Bonarroti in Florence, deriving from
Michelangelo himself [...]”, Michelangelo a Vicenza, p. 7, and numerous
newspaper articles.)

(1) Collection of H. N. Squire, Suffolk, England (before 1976: Byam Shaw,


Drawings by Old Masters at Christ Church, Oxford, 1976, p. 52). A. E. Popham
died in 1970, as did Johannes Wilde, and the drawing must have been acquired
before this date.

(3) Sale Sotheby's, London, 28 June 1979, lot 40 (sale catalogue: An Interesting
Collection of Old Master Drawings, Sotheby's, 1979). Sold by the widow of H.
N. Squire.

(4) 1979: Acquired at the auction (3) by "una importante collezione privata
inglese" (http://www.fondazionecrverona.org/home1.php3)

(5) 2000 ca.: Inherited by the widow of the “collezionista inglese”, Maureen
Burns, sister of Howard Burns (Michelangelo a Vicenza, Vicenza, CISA
Palladio, 2002)

(6) 2001/2002: Acquired by the Fondazione CARIVERONA in England, “sulla


segnalazione dello stesso Burns” (exhibition catalogue, 2006, p. [8], Amalia
Sartori) from Maureen Burns (Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Verona,
Vicenza, Belluno e Ancona. See 'Bilancio di esercizio consuntivo, 2001', p. 34:
“Michelangelo Buonarroti (attr.), Disegno, Collezione della Fondazione,
Concesso in deposito al CISA Palladio, Vicenza.”
(http://www.fondazionecrverona.org/home1.php3 : See 'Bilancio di missione,
2001', a pag. 23: “MICHELANGELO BUONARROTI (attr.), Disegno. Collezione della
Fondazione, Concesso indeposito al Centro Internazionale di Studi A. Palladio di
Vicenza”, with illus.:
http://www.fondazionecrverona.org/attach/Content/Bilancidimissione/573/o/bila
nciomissione_2001.pdf )

(7) 2 March 2002: deposited at CISA (The Bank remains the owner, retaining
incidents of ownership.)

This provenance has been confirmed by the responsible parties, to whom I have suggested,
directly and indirectly, that it be made public.
46

Conclusions:

What does all this mean for the attribution to Michelangelo? In 1979, the names
Popham, Wilde, and Tolnay seem to furnish a strong hand in favour of an
attribution to Michelangelo. But in the interim, other estimates of the drawing
have emerged. It is stated in Michelangelo e Vicenza (2002) that the drawing
“has been examined at various times by scholars” (p. 7). The only scholars
named beyond those who examined it in 1979 or earlier are Wolfgang Lotz and
perhaps Caroline Elam (pp. 7-8). One asks, who were the others and what were
their conclusions?

An evaluation of Burns’s considerations of the drawing must take into account


his near proprietary interest in the drawing since 1979, first as a counselor to his
family, and, since 2002, as a custodian of the drawing. It is clear that he regards
himself as the intellectual owner of the drawing. His interest in the drawing does
not preclude his scholarly treatment of it, just as museums discuss their
possessions, although not always with complete objectivity. Burns’s dilemma is,
however, that he has sold his drawing, at considerable expense and with a
considerable profit, to a Vicentine institution for deposit at a Vicentine
institution, partly on the basis of his credibility as the presidente of the
Consiglio scientifico of CISA. To admit that the attribution to Michelangelo is
wrong would bring with it a loss of credibility. For him the possibility that the
drawing is not by Michelangelo cannot exist. What Burns writes about the
drawing must be considered in this light as well, and this aspect is especially
apparent in his interviews prior to the 2006 exhibition and in his ‘scheda
ventiquattro’. An anonymous architectural drawing of the Cinquecento, similar
to the Vicenza drawing, might have brought at auction in 2002 something in the
neighbourhood of €5,000, in the event that it sold. Such drawings, at auction,
often went unsold (see printed and Internet indices of auctions, sales, and
prices).

Some have questioned the wisdom of having a Vicentine institution acquire the
drawing. I have no doubt that the operation was undertaken in the unquestioning
belief that the drawing was by Michelangelo. The buyer was, it is reported,
aware of the identity of the seller. Nevertheless, the fautori of this adventure
were not unaware that qualified doubts existed. These doubts may also be
reflected in the price. If the drawing is ‘not by Michelangelo’, as I and others are
convinced, the acquistion appears, at the least, injudicious and perhaps even rash
and reckless.
47

REJECTIONS OF THE ATTRIBUTION TO MICHELANGELO:

Alexander Perrig, Golo Maurer, Christoph Frommel, Lionello Puppi, Michael


Hirst, Christof Thoenes, Georg Satzinger.

Alexander Perrig (Welt am Sonntag, 1979)

Golo Maurer (Michelangelo. Die Architekturzeichnungen, 2004)

Lionello Puppi (Giornale dell’arte, December 2008). Puppi is the author of two
catalogues of Michelangelo’s architecture (1964; 1964)

Michael Hirst (letter to compiler, 10.11.2006)

Christof Thoenes (in: Michelangelo 1475 – 1564. Das vollständige Werk, Frank
Zöllner; Christof Thoenes; Thomas Pöpper, Köln: Taschen Verlag, 2007,
768 pp. – Thoenes’s Corpus (id est, “complete”) of Michelangelo’s
architectural drawings does not include the Vicenza drawing.)

This list includes the names of those who have expressed themselves clearly in
print and/or to a number of people, sometimes including the present writer. The
list could be easily be greatly expanded, but in general it is to be hoped that
scholars will speak for themselves, although, owing to the embarassing
circumstances surrounding this drawing, there has been a general reluctance to
come into contact with it. I first addressed the drawing unaware of these
circumstances (although the custodians had ample opportunity to inform me, as
they had others), and this alternative is not left open to me.

There are other topics that might be considered more closely with regard to the
drawing. These include the price history of the Old Master Drawings market,
with specific reference to Michelangelo drawings, the problem of objectivity in
Elam’s commissioned expertise, raised by Puppi, the rôle and the repeated use of
the Burlington Magazine and its imputed prestige in attempts to sell the
drawing, to conceal its provenance, and to impose its attribution to
Michelangelo. It might further be noted that a good part of what has been
48

written about the Vicenza drawing fits into the pattern of what auction houses
write about their offerings to increase their attractiveness to potential buyers.

And there are yet further questions that remain. The present exposé represents
findings essentially as of late 2006. Questions should be addressed to the
original dimensions and character of the sheet of which the present drawing is
only a fragment. This is important for the proper interpretation of the surviving
elements. Its vertical folding, presumably in the middle is of interest, and it
corresponds to the practice of some architectural draughtsmen. The reading of
the inscriptions remains equivocal, but “adverso” seems correct. The literature
cited for the drawing is incomplete. It is also reproduced in: Alessandro Nova,
Michelangelo – Architetto, Milano: Jaca Book, 1984. (This work escaped my
attention in 2002 because the KHI-Florence copy was missing for many years.)
The insistent connection of the drawing’s arch with Bramante is incorrect, and it
is based on a mistaken architectural analysis. The adamant insistence of Burns
and Elam on a dating of ca. 1515 for the recto belongs to the same unalterable
pattern. The discussion of the instances of “arco doppio” in scheda 24 is
incomplete. The erection of a monumental column in the Piazza San Felice in
1572 may provide an ante quem for an ephemeral arch on the piazza.

“In the room the women come and go


Talking of Michelangelo.”

Since the Ottocento sensational discoveries of new sculptures by Michelangelo


have become almost routine, recuring years apart at irregular intervals. After a
period of intense discussion and dispute, nearly every one of these objects has
faded into insignificance, many never finding an author. Even the famous Santo
Spirito Crucifix, viewed favourably by many, has been returned, relegated to the
church in Florence where it was found. A ‘new’ drawing by Michelangelo must
also be viewed in this context, although it is true that, with the intense attention
to master drawings in the last five or more decades, many forgotten drawings
have come to light, among them a few unknown Michelangelos. Works that are
not clearly comparable to the established works of the master are the ones most
likely to fade into oblivion.

Michelangelo does not belong to a few specialists, some of whom, attracted


early on by his fame and prestige, study little else. He is admired, studied, and
understood by all who concern themselves with Cinquecento art. Thus issues in
Michelangelo research deserve to be treated with transparency. ‘Prestigious’
institutions and publications have a responsibility not to mislead a wider public
that extends beyond a relatively small circle of ‘experts’. And this, the more so
in respect to an artist, Michelangelo, who has attracted so much study, so diverse
in kind and so uneven in quality.
49

SOME NEWS REPORTS ABOUT THE EXHIBITIONS

LA REPUBBLICA, 1.09.2006

IL PREZIOSO STUDIO PER UN ARCO DI TRIONFO SCOPERTO


DURANTE GLI STUDI PER LA MOSTRA DI VICENZA

MICHELANGELO ARCHITETTO, IL PRIMO DISEGNO

PAOLO VAGHEGGI

Vicenza

Il primo disegno di architettura di Michelangelo. È stato ritrovato, scoperto,


quasi casualmente durante gli studi preparatori della mostra Michelangelo:
disegni di architettura (Vicenza, palazzo Barbaran da Porto, dal 17 settembre al
10 dicembre 2006; Firenze, Casa Buonarroti dal 15 dicembre al 19 marzo 2007).
Un'esposizione preceduta da indagini che hanno permesso anche di identificare
come michelangiolesche le finestre di un palazzo che si trova a Firenze in via
Pandolfini 25, appartenuto a Baccio Valori.

Ma la storia straordinaria è quella del disegno, piccolo, 28 cm di lato, acquistato


per trentamila sterline e che ora ne vale almeno un milione. È di proprietà della
Fondazione Cassa di risparmio di Verona Vicenza Belluno e Ancona, comprato
per il fondo di disegni archiettonici del "CISA Andrea Pallaio di Vicenza". Era
semplicemente un Alzato architettonico di un arco in asta a Londra. Il disegno a
penna e inchiostro, tracciato a mano libera in maniera rapida e vigorosa è una
"prima pensiero", uno studio per un arco di trionfo, da collegarsi probabilmente
agli apparati effimeri realizzati a Firenze per l'ingresso del papa Leone X nel
[sic: de'] Medici. Sul verso dell'opera michelangiolesca compare un secondo
disegno a penna, identificato come opera di Iacopo di Giovanni, detto Iacone,
che fu buon amico di Andrea del Sarto.

Sotto questo disegno ve n'è un altro a matita rossa, uno schema, scoperto da
Howard Burns, della Normale di Pisa, curatore dell'esposizione con Guido
Beltramini e Caroline Elam. E insieme allo schizzo l'elaborazione al computer
ha messo in rilievo un piccolo scritto autografo di Michelangelo, delle stesse
50

dimensioni di quelli che inviava alle cave di Carrara. Insomma ora non v'è
nessun dubbio attributivo su questo disegno che fino al 1979 era conservato in
una raccolta inglese. Fu pubblicato da Charles de Tolnay ma soltanto oggi si è
potuto ricostruire la storia del disegno, che segue lo schema del portale della
chiesa fiorentina di San Felice in piazza.

Tutto comincia con Iacone, che sembrava destinato a diventare un bravo artista
ma che poi, come ricorda il Vasari, "ebbe sempre più il capo a darsi buon tempo
et altre baie et a stare in cene e feste con gl'amici che a studiare e lavorare". A
Iacone fu commissionato l'arco per San Felice e come altri chiese aiuto a
Michelangelo che gli regalò un vecchio studio. Questo sostiene Burns è
testimoniato dallo scritto appena ritrovato. E per questo dice che è il primo
disegno di architettura, scampato al rogo che Michelangelo fece delle opere
preparatorie "accio nessuno vedessi le fatiche durate da lui et i modi di tentare
l'ingegno suo, per non apparire se non perfetto".

NB “per trentamila sterline” è un errore, si tratta di dollari; see: The art sales
index, Art Sales Index Ltd., 1979: vedi 'Michelangelo' (£14,000/$29,000), thus
$30,000 in 1979.
PAOLO VAGHEGGI. Inviato speciale de “La Repubblica” e Direttore di “Kataweb Arte”
Vagheggi è tra le non molte firme che fanno opinione nel giornalismo culturale ed è per
questo che ci ha onorato constatare il suo interesse per le vicende del nostro ambito e, in
generale, per la salvaguardia e valorizzazione dei beni monumentali e culturali. Su questi
temi, Paolo Vagheggi è intervenuto più volte su Repubblica e ancora di più su Kataweb Arte il
sito specializzato sull’arte oggi tra i più autorevoli e seguiti in Europa, che egli ha creato e
dirige. Lo ha sempre fatto con puntualità ed efficacia, da grande maestro di giornalismo e
appassionato uomo di cultura quale è. Il nostro Premio intende testimoniare la stima per
questo suo grande lavoro e abbiamo l’ambizione di credere che a conferirglielo e idealmente
consegnarglielo non sia solo l’istituto Regionale Ville Venete ma tutto il mondo della cultura
italiano che, come noi, gli è grato. (STUDIO ESSECI)

ADIANEWS.IT

Un Michelangelo strepitoso da non perdere al CISA di Vicenza:


disegni inediti di architettura a cura di Burns, Elam e Beltramini

Articolo di: Angelo Miatello

Vicenza, 22 settembre 2006.

(...) Tra le numerose novità, la scoperta del primo disegno di architettura


oggi conosciuto del Maestro, un foglio con schizzi sul verso e sul recto,
prima solo attribuito e ora documentato di sua mano. Burns ci spiega con
51

semplicità e cortesia da gentiluomo che ciò gli è stato facile "con l'ausilio
di nuove tecnologie digitali ho scoperto il disegno originale di mano di
Michelangelo sottostante il ripasso ad inchiostro di un suo allievo e,
accanto, sempre autografa del Maestro, una annotazione di misure
espresse in braccia fiorentine." Burns ha anche dimostrato che il verso di
questo disegno raffigura il portale della chiesa fiorentina di San Felice in
Piazza da addobbare per la festa annuale della chiesa. Le ricerche hanno
anche portato ad assegnare a Michelangelo un edificio sino ad oggi di
architetto anonimo del Cinquecento, il Palazzo di Baccio Valori - oggi noto
come Galli Tassi, in via Pandolfini a Firenze.
(...)

http://www.aidanews.it/old_site/articoli.asp-IDArticolo=6542.htm

LA REPUBBLICA:

Michelangelo architetto, il primo disegno


Repubblica — 01 settembre 2006, pagina 50, sezione: CULTURA

Il primo disegno di architettura di Michelangelo è stato ritrovato, scoperto, quasi


casualmente durante gli studi preparatori della mostra Michelangelo: disegni di
architettura (Vicenza, palazzo Barbaran da Porto, dal 17 settembre al 10
dicembre 2006; Firenze, Casa Buonarroti dal 15 dicembre 2006 al 19 marzo
2007). Un' esposizione preceduta da indagini che hanno permesso anche di
identificare come michelangiolesche le finestre di un palazzo che si trova a
Firenze in via Pandolfini 25, appartenuto a Baccio Valori. Ma la storia
straordinaria è quella del disegno, piccolo, 28 centimetri di lato, acquistato per
trentamila sterline e che ora ne vale almeno un milione. È di proprietà della
Fondazione Cassa di risparmio di Verona Vicenza Belluno e Ancona, comprato
per il fondo di disegni architettonici del "Cisa Andrea Palladio di Vicenza". Era
semplicemente un Alzato architettonico di un arco in asta a Londra. Il disegno a
penna e inchiostro, tracciato a mano libera in maniera rapida e vigorosa è un
"primo pensiero", uno studio per un arco di trionfo, da collegarsi probabilmente
agli apparati effimeri realizzati a Firenze per l' ingresso del papa Leone X nel
Medici. Sul verso dell' opera michelangiolesca compare un secondo disegno a
penna, identificato come opera di Iacopo di Giovanni, detto Iacone, che fu buon
amico di Andrea del Sarto. Sotto questo disegno ve n' è un altro a matita rossa,
52

uno schema, scoperto da Howard Burns, della Normale di Pisa, curatore dell'
esposizione con Guido Beltramini e Caroline Elam. E insieme allo schizzo l'
elaborazione al computer ha messo in rilievo un piccolo scritto autografo di
Michelangelo, delle stesse dimensioni di quelli che inviava alle cave di Carrara.
Insomma ora non v' è nessun dubbio attributivo su questo disegno che fino al
1979 era conservato in una raccolta inglese. Fu pubblicato da Charles de Tolnay
ma soltanto oggi si è potuto ricostruire la storia del disegno, che segue lo
schema del portale della chiesa fiorentina di San Felice in piazza. Tutto
comincia con Iacone, che sembrava destinato a diventare un bravo artista ma che
poi, come ricorda il Vasari, "ebbe sempre più il capo a darsi buon tempo et altre
baie et a stare in cene e feste con gl' amici che a studiare e lavorare". A Iacone fu
commissionato l' arco per San Felice e come altri chiese aiuto a Michelangelo
che gli regalò un vecchio studio. Questo sostiene Burns è testimoniato dallo
scritto appena ritrovato. E per questo dice che è il primo disegno di architettura
scampato al rogo che Michelangelo fece delle opere preparatorie "acciò nessuno
vedessi le fatiche durate da lui et i modi di tentare l' ingegno suo, per non
apparire se non perfetto". - VICENZA

http://ricerca.repubblica.it/repubblica/archivio/repubblica/2006/09/01/michelangelo-
architetto-il-primo-disegno.html

Michelangelo e il disegno di Architettura


(...) Nella straordinaria edizione fiorentina, la mostra presenta ben 39
disegni originali; inoltre, un ampio apparato didattico multimediale
consentira' di verificare la genesi delle architetture michelangiolesche, dal
primo momento creativo sino all'opera compiuta. Da una mostra come
questa emerge una dimensione nuova dell'artista. "Nelle sue architetture -
afferma Howard Burns che, con Caroline Elam e Guido Beltramini, ha
curato la mostra - Michelangelo scrive poesia. In senso letterale perche'
non e' raro trovare versi appuntati dal Maestro accanto agli schizzi di
architettura, quasi ad esprimere di getto l'emozione sorta dall'aver
'inventato' forme armoniche, poetiche appunto. Ma anche perche' si serve,
nelle sue architetture non di figure scolpite, ma di capitelli e basamenti,
luce e ombra, che evocano i grandi temi poetici della Vita e della Morte,
dell'Amore, del Tempo e della Fama". Michelangelo architetto e' stato
grande, grandissimo, interprete, assolutamente all'altezza di quanto ha
raggiunto in pittura, scultura e poesia.

L'approfondita ricerca scientifica che ha preceduto questa fondamentale


53

mostra ha portato anche a numerose nuove scoperte. Da questa


esposizione e dagli studi raccolti nel catalogo, edito da Marsilio, emerge un
Michelangelo ancora piu' "titanicamente poeta", afferma Burns. Tra le
numerose novita', la scoperta del primo disegno di architettura oggi
conosciuto del Maestro, un foglio con schizzi sul recto e sul verso, prima
solo attribuito e ora documentato di sua mano. Burns, con l'ausilio di
nuove tecnologie digitali, ha scoperto il disegno originale di mano di
Michelangelo sotto il ripasso a inchiostro di un suo allievo, e sullo stesso
foglio un'annotazione di misure espresse in braccia fiorentine, anch'essa
autografa del Maestro. Lo studioso ha inoltre dimostrato che il verso di
questo disegno raffigura, della chiesa fiorentina di San Felice in Piazza, il
progetto degli addobbi per la festa annuale della chiesa. Michelangelo
passo' poi il foglio all'amico Jacone che aveva avuto l'incarico di lavorare a
questi effimeri ornamenti. Le ricerche (che, nei secoli, su Michelangelo
architetto sono state meno intense che sugli altri aspetti della sua arte)
hanno anche portato ad assegnare a lui un edificio sino ad oggi ritenuto di
architetto anonimo del Cinquecento, il Palazzo di Baccio Valori, oggi noto
come Galli Tassi, in via Pandolfini a Firenze.

(...)

http://www.undo.net/cgi-
bin/2000/search.pl?KEYWORDS=Pino+Guidolotti&more=10&what=pressre
lease

Michelangelo feted as architect


FLORENCE SHOW UNVEILS 'POETRY' BEHIND PROJECTS (ANSA)

FLORENCE, OCTOBER 26 - A NEW SHOW HERE IS SET TO CELEBRATE THE ARCHITECTURAL


GENIUS OF MICHELANGELO - PERHAPS THE LEAST-KNOWN ASPECT OF THE MULTI-FACETED
GENIUS.

Some 40 original sketches at Florence's famed Casa Buonarroti will chart


the creations of the Renaissance great, unveiling newly discovered
buildings to set beside masterpieces like St. Peter's and the Capitol in
Rome.

The thrust of the show, according to curator Howard Burns of the Scuola
Normale di Pisa, is to illuminate Michelangelo's fundamentally "poetic"
sense of architecture - as underscored by the poetical musings found on
several newly discovered manuscripts. "Michelangelo writes poetry in his
architecture," Burns says. "One often comes across verses by the Master
right next to the architectural drawings, expressing the pure emotion he
felt after inventing such harmonious forms".
54

Among the exhibition's highlights is a newly discovered sketch which


Burns believes shows decorations for a Florentine church. Computerised
laser probes were used to uncover the red-pencil sketch on the back of a
known drawing, Burns explained ."I believe this shows the decorations
for the annual feast at the Chiesa di San Felice," Burns told ANSA. Burns'
work on the show has led him to the conviction that a Florentine palazzo
not far from the city's famed Palazzo Medici was designed by the multi-
talented painter and sculptor, whose architectural credits also include
Florence's Medici Chapels and Rome's Palazzo Farnese.

"I've compared the so-called 'kneeling windows' on Palazzo Medici,


features attributed by many to Michelangelo, with the ones on the other
building, which is now Palazzo Galli-Tassi," Burns said. I've been pouring
through the archives and I've found personal correspondence between
Michelangelo and the man who commissioned the palazzo, former
Florence governor Baccio Valori. "Among other things, Michelangelo
owed Baccio his life because he shielded him from a papal warrant after
he built Florence's fortifications".

Ironically, Michelangelo fortified the city - and used huge cotton bales to
protect its great sites from cannon fire - against invading anti-papal
Swiss troops in 1527, before those same imperial troops swept down to
sack Rome. But the Vatican was angered when the same fortifications
defied a papal bid for independent Florence a few years later. However,
Michelangelo made his peace with the popes and spent the last years of
his life in Rome, working on great projects including the Sistine Chapel
for Medici pope Clement VII (1523-37). Earlier - as a sign of his up-and-
down relations with the papacy - he had been commissioned to design
arches for the grandiose Medici pope Leo X (1513-21), a son of Lorenzo
the Magnificent who excommunicated Luther.

Michelangelo's design for Leo's arch, bought at a Sotheby's auction in


2002 by the Centro Internazionale di Studi Andrea Palladio (CISA), will
also be on show.

Burns has curated the exhibit with CISA's Guido Beltrami and the
London-based Michelangelo expert Caroline Elam.

Michelangelo: Architectural Drawings runs at the Casa Buonarroti from


December 16 to March 19, 2007 .

http://able2know.org/topic/85462-1
55

At home with Michelangelo

(ISSUE NO. 43/2006 / NOVEMBER 2, 2006)

New cultural sketches on display at Casa Buonarroti

Michelangelo aficionados will soon be queuing up at his front


door. Some 40 of his original architectural sketches will be on
display in Florence’s famed Casa Buonarroti. This collection will
unveil newly discovered buildings sketched by Michelangelo to
set beside his other masterpieces like St. Peter’s and Capitol Hill
in Rome.

The thrust of the current show, according to curator Howard


Burns of the Scuola Normale di Pisa, is to reveal Michelangelo’s
‘poetic’ sense of architecture—as underscored by the poetical
musings found on several newly discovered manuscripts.
‘Michelangelo writes poetry in his architecture,’ Burns says.
‘One often comes across verses by the Master right next to the
architectural drawings, expressing the pure emotion he felt
after inventing such harmonious forms.’

Among the exhibition’s highlights is a newly discovered sketch


that Burns believes shows decorations for the Florentine church
of San Felice. Computerised laser probes were used to uncover
the red-pencil sketch on the back of a known drawing. Burns is
convinced that a Florentine palazzo near the famed Palazzo
Medici was designed by the multi-talented painter and sculptor,
whose architectural credits also include Florence’s Medici
Chapels and Rome’s Palazzo Farnese. ‘I’ve compared the so-
called ‘kneeling windows’ on Palazzo Medici, features attributed
by many to Michelangelo, with the ones on the other building,
which is now Palazzo Galli-Tassi,’ Burns said.

The works featured will also include Michelangelo’s design for


Leo’s arch, bought at a Sotheby’s auction in 2002 by the Centro
Internazionale di Studi Andrea Palladio (CISA). Burns has
curated the exhibit with CISA’s Guido Beltrami and the London-
based Michelangelo expert, Caroline Elam.

http://www.theflorentine.net/articles/article-view.asp?issuetocId=260
56

ANNEX 1.

AN INTERESTING COLLECTION
OF OLD MASTER DRAWINGS
FORMED BY AN EMINENT CONNOISSEUR,

The Property of his Widow

which will be sold by auction

by

SOTHEBY PARKE BERNET & CO.

Auctioneers of Literary Property and Works Illustrative


of the Fine Arts

At their large galleries


34 & 35 New Bond Street, London W1A 2AA

Day of Sale

Thursday, 28th June, 1979, at 11 a.m. precisely


To be viewed and sold in the Royal Watercolour Society, 26 Conduit Street, London W1

In sending Commisions this catalogue may be referred to as ‘MARIO’

On view at least two days previously (not Saturdays)

[London 1979]

page 27:

MICHELANGELO BUONARROTI

[lot] 40 PROJECT FOR AN ARCUS QUADRIFRONS MONUMENT

Red chalk. Inscribed in red chalk by the artist upper right: el Tucto to (braccia)
25; and along the bottom: ad . . . santo spirito.
57

Some losses along the lower right and bottom sides.


285 X 270

Literature:
James Byam Shaw, Drawings by Old Masters at Christ Church Oxford, Oxford
1976, p. 52, under no. 64

The attribution to Michelangelo was first proposed by Popham and later


accepted by Wilde and most present-day Michelangelo scholars. This study was
at first thought to be a project for a monumental altar; however Prof. de Tolnay
feels certain (letter dated 25.2.79) that it is a project for an Arcus Quadrifrons
funeral monument; cf. the two ground plan sketches at the left and lower centre
of the sheet. He goes on to say, ‘Such projects for a free-standing monument
were suggested to Michelangelo by Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici (later Pope
Clement VII) through Domenico Buoninsegni, in the latter’s letter of 20
December 1520. Related drawings for this tomb project are in the Casa
Buonarroti and the British Museum (see Tolnay, Corpus dei disegni di
Michelangelo, 1976, vol. II, NO. 182 r.) both for the tomb of Leo X, datable about
December 1520; and there is a more developed study at Christ Church (Tolnay
280 v.) datable c. 1525’. The present sheet, as Wilde, Byam Shaw and now
Tolnay suggests, is close in date and style to the verso of the Christ Church
drawing; both, in the opinion of Tolnay, are projects for the tombs of the two
Medici Popes: Leo X and Clement VII.

The pen and ink study on the verso, of Saints standing on top of an Arched
Doorway has been attributed to two artist; Aristotile da Sangallo by Wilde and,
considered close to Raffaello da Montelupo by Tolnay. Wilde also pointed out
that a red chalk study of a Medici coat of arms can be discerned beneath this
drawing; in his opinion it is by Michelangelo.

[Recto and verso illustrated pp. 77, 78]

James Byam Shaw, Drawings by Old Masters at Christ Church Oxford, Oxford
1976, p. 52, under no. 64

These are certainly closely related; as are some studies on one side of a sheet in
the collection of Mr. and Mrs. H. N. Squire in Suffolk.