Michelangelo Drawings at the Met

As an earnest and diligent student of figure drawing, I followed my art instructor’s recommendation to see the Michelangelo exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. The drawings are culled from multiple collections, both public and private, throughout Europe and the U.S. I was enraptured by each contour, hatchline, and the shade and shadows that created three-dimensional images on a flat piece of paper. These magical acts come from a discipline unmatched by any other since Renaissance times, and I was able to view these hundred or more performances all at once.

I first joined an exclusive after-hours evening at the Met to digest and sip the information slowly. The next morning, with a courtesy admission, I was able to quickly document the exhibition so I could later savor this encounter with Michelangelo.

Here are a few visual highlights with associated text from the exhibition. They are annotated in the order that resonates the most for my interest in figure drawing:



The Human Figure



Early Precedents: These show how and from whom he learned. The white highlights on tone paper provide contrast and depth to the drawings.


Painting Preparation and Students






City Planning


There’s still time to see this magnificent exhibition until February 12! If you are unable to attend, I invite you to please study and relish these reproduced copies carefully. In order to share these in a timely fashion, I have not captioned or annotated every image. I hope you will nevertheless catch the whiff of Michelangelo’s development, intentions, and success.  We should appreciate the wealth of information we now have at our disposal. The contributors to the exhibition are listed below. Congratulations and thanks to the Metropolitan Museum for this incredible effort.

P.S. I wanna be this guy!!


6 thoughts on “Michelangelo Drawings at the Met”

  1. Hi Victoria–thank you for journeying to NYC, braving the cold, and capturing these wonderful drawings. (The resolution is so sharp, it’s just like being there!) The red chalk drawings are especially captivating. You must have been mesmerized.–Royee


    1. I also particularly like the red chalk images. They give me inspiration to keep trying! The white highlights and black contours are also immediate and believable. I’m glad you took some time to enjoy these images-albeit reproductions of the real thing. The long list of contributors at the end was also fascinating. Going to NYC any time is a treat!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Victoria. I have just this week sorted through hundreds of life drawings our son did in his first year at uni. Not quite the same, but I was still impressed!


    1. Tricia, what a delight to hear from you! If you had the same experience I had discovering your child’s hidden talents, it’s a revelation. It’s a bit like reading one’s diary, and seeing the roads that were once traveled. I hope you will get a chance to learn from your son about the journeys traveled through his artwork the year he drew them.


      1. Funny you say that as I’m transcribing the diary from our first trip back to China with Gilbert’s siblings. Posting twenty years to the day on a blog called ‘backtonanling.wordpress. It’s been a journey I’ve enjoyed reliving. It will flow to next year when we take the children back.


      2. That was a fantastic journey and an experience of a lifetime! Your children will be able to carry on the family legacy with these shared memories、


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