Michelangelo builder: design on site

Sheet AB, I, 57, 144r for Palazzo Medici and the drawings
for the marble carving in the New Sacristy related to it

On the occasion of Prof. Vitale Zanchettin’s lecture, the last in the series dedicated to Michelangelo’s drawings, the Casa Buonarroti has decided to dedicate a selection of Michelangelo’s drawings and autograph writings from the Archivio Buonarroti and the Archivio Storico Generale della Fabbrica di San Pietro to the topic.
Exhibited on this occasion in the original or in facsimile reproduction, and shown to the public for the first time, they are a rare trace of Michelangelo’s executive design of stone architecture, an activity that was widespread in his architectural work, and of which only minimal traces remain today.
This small exhibition is also an opportunity to reconsider the drawings in their correct interpretation, the subject of recent and recently published studies by Prof. Zanchettin. Thanks to this in-depth research, it is in fact possible to recognise in these sheets the materials used by Michelangelo for the on-site design of the mouldings of the Medici tombs in the Medici Chapel in San Lorenzo. Specifically, a template obtained by cutting out a sheet and destined to be transferred, generally, into tin or wood and used for carving. On other sheets, however, we see – underneath pencilled text – a freehand red chalk drawing representing a plan of one of the ‘kneeling’ windows of the Medici Palace in Florence designed by Michelangelo around 1524.
The sheet belonging to the Archivio Buonarroti and the Archivio Storico Generale della Fabbrica di San Pietro (AFSP, Arm. 7, B, 427, c. 497), which shows a sketch for the cornice of the entablature of the drum of St. Peter’s, created using the same graphic conventions as folio I, 57, 144 recto, is exhibited in facsimile photographic reproduction by kind permission of the Fabbrica di San Pietro in Vaticano.