Study For The Battle Of Cascina By Michelangelo Buonarroti

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2015-06-26 10:50:47

The Study for The Battle of Cascina by Michelangelo Buonarroti is one of the sketches produced by the artist during his preparation work for a commission entitled ‘The Battle of Cascina’.

Background history

During the early years of his career in 1504, and just after his completion of his statue of David, Michelangelo received a commission to paint a fresco depicting the Florentine victory of 1364 over neighbouring Pisa.

The fresco was to appear in the newly-built Sala del Gran Consiglio in Florence's Palazzo della Signoria, and was commissioned by gonfaloniere Piero Soderini.

Michelangelo’s great rival Leonardo da Vinci had also been commissioned to create a similar fresco on the wall facing opposite, this one representing the Battle of Anghiari. Together the two paintings would commemorate famous Florentine victories, created by two of the city’s most famous sons.

Michelangelo finished his preparations for the piece, and had only just begun work in 1505 when he was asked to return to Rome by the newly-appointed Pope Julius II and build the Pope's tomb. He never returned to finish the piece, and it is now regarded as a lost masterpiece.

No trace of da Vinci’s work remains, but some art historians believe it to still exist hidden beneath another fresco or behind a secret wall in the Palazzo della Signoria.

The drawing

The drawing in one of 24 sketches still in existence. The majority of these depict single figures in movement or several caught up in battle.

The subject of the piece was to show Florentine soldiers surprised by the enemy whilst bathing naked in the river Arno, an event which took place towards the beginning of the battle. This allowed Michelangelo to focus on one of his favourite subjects, the depiction of the male torso in motion, one of which is displayed in the drawing.

It has only appeared on public display once, in a 2010 exhibition of the artists’ sketches at the Albertina in Vienna, and had remained in a private collection for over 30 years.

Notable sale

In June 2011 Christie’s announced that the drawing would feature in their Old Masters and British Paintings Evening Sale on July 5, with a pre-sale estimate of £3 million to £5 million.

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