This exhibition is dedicated to the issue of the attribution of Old Master drawings in the particularly contentious case of Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564). Besides his world-famous sculptures, frescoes, and buildings, Michelangelo made a large number of drawings, which compelled great admiration in his day. As he never signed his drawings and burnt a lot of them shortly before his death, it is difficult to determine whether many of the surviving sheets are actually autograph or copies or imitations by other artists.
The occasion for the exhibition has been supplied by a drawing in the Städel Museum’s Department of Prints and Drawings whose attribution to Michelangelo was the subject of controversy in the past. Recently, the sheet has again been attributed to Michelangelo by several experts. Presenting a number of selected examples – amongst them loans from the collections of the British Museum in London, the Royal Collection in Windsor, and the Casa Buonarroti in Florence – the exhibition grants various possibilities for direct visual comparison, providing visitors with an opportunity for exploring the issue on their own in front of the original works.
The sheet from the Städel Museum’s holdings, Grotesque Heads and Further Studies, was purchased as a work by Michelangelo in the nineteenth century and attributed or partly attributed to the artist since then, before being deattributed around 1980.
Städel Museum Website