Drawing on Genius

THE BRITISH MUSEUM, LONDON

Michelangelo Buonarroti was a methodical man. The Florentine genius made hundreds of working drawings during his career in preparation for his paintings, sculpture and architecture. But for reasons not entirely known, he burned many of them. It's possible that he didn't want people to know what hard graft went into the finished product. After all, when he started his career at the tail end of the 15th century, artists were seen as craftsmen rather than geniuses. His bourgeois father disapproved of his low-status career choice.

Thankfully, however, about 600 of the drawings survive, and around...

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