Michelangelo, Saint John the Baptist (1496) aggiungi alla cartella

general information - sources and documentation

Places, Architecture:
Sculpture portraying the Young Saint John

Author, circle:
Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)

Commissioner, collector:
Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici, known as Il Popolano (1463-1503)

Epoch, date:


Technical details:

The "old house" of the Medici in what was Via Larga (now Via Cavour)

Description, subject:
There are no accurate descriptions or iconographic illustrations of the Young Saint John sculpted by Michelangelo, which has unfortunately been lost (or at any rate not yet identified). The pose of the young Baptist could have analogies with that of the same figure in the Manchester Madonna, a painting now generally attributed to Michelangelo, around 1497. The same formal solution was then reproposed by the artist in the Bruges Madonna, sculpted before 1506.

Historical information:
In the "old house" of the Medici in the "ground floor chamber" of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco was the Young Saint John the Baptist in marble sculpted by Michelangelo, as accurately recorded in the inventory of the assets of 1498-99 (bibliography: Shearman 1975, pp. 19, 26 no. 33).
Buonarroti probably began this work shortly before leaving for Bologna (October 1494), while its commissioner was still in exile, to which he had been condemned by Piero il Fatuo. After the explosion of the rising led by Girolamo Savonarola in November, when Piero and his family were driven out of the city, Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco and his brother Giovanni returned to Florence at the side of Charles VIII of Anjou and adopted the appellative "Popolani", as a sign of their support for the new Republican government. A year later, around Christmas 1495, Michelangelo too returned to Florence: he once again began to frequent the Medici garden of San Marco and it was probably there, in an adjacent workshop, that he returned to work on items that he had left unfinished on his departure, such as the Young Saint John and a Sleeping Cupid (related records: Michelangelo, Sleeping Cupid), both lost.

Destiny and criticism:
Critics have traditionally dated the work after Michelangelo's return to Florence, which took place between the end of 1495 and the early months of 96. Recently (bibliography: Weil-Garris Brandt 1999, p. 340; Acidini 2005), it has been proposed to bring forward the start of the execution to before the artist's departure for Venice and Bologna (October 1494) or during his sojourn in Bologna (up to the end of 1495). Various proposals of identification have been put forward, but none is decisive (bibliography: Baldini 1973, no. 10). Recently Parrochi (1960, 1968 see bibliography) identified the sculpture as the Saint John the Baptist in the Bargello Museum in Florence, in reality a work by Francesco da Sangallo. It also appears that we can rule out the identification with the Young Saint John in the church of San Salvadòr in Ubeda in Spain, where however reflections of Michelangelo's work have been observed (bibliography: Weil-Garris Brandt 1999; Acidini 2005)

informazioni generali - apparati e documentazione


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