• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7435

    British Works on Paper

    21 November 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 52

    Benjamin West, P.R.A. (1738-1820)

    Studies after Michelangelo's 'Last Judgement' in the Sistine Chapel

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Benjamin West, P.R.A. (1738-1820)
    Studies after Michelangelo's 'Last Judgement' in the Sistine Chapel
    one inscribed 'ye left thigh longer' (lower left)
    pencil and black chalk on pink paper, one with the edges made up
    22½ x 16½ in. (55.8 x 41.9 cm.); and 17 x 23 in. (43.2 x 55.8 cm.) (2)


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    These copies after Michelangelo's Last Judgement do not date from West's first visit to Italy in 1760, as might be expected: the bold and confident style suggests that in fact the present drawings date from later in his life. He may well have been working from prints of the fresco. As a young man seeing the Old Masters in Rome for the first time, West, like his contemporaries, would have responded more readily to the grace and elegance of Raphael, rather than Michelangelo's visionary monumentality. Yet, in his maturity, he came to appreciate aspects of Michelangelo's art.

    His views on the Last Judgement are fortuitously recorded in Joseph Farington's diary for 16 February 1804: 'He [West] sd. of the Last Judgement of Michael Angelo that the Groupes of figures were immensely fine, but the Composition of the whole together Gothic and indifferent' (ed. K. Garlick and A. Macintyre, The Diary of Joseph Farington, New Haven and London, 1979, VI, p. 2246). In these studies, West therefore isolated what he believed to be the most admirable elements of the whole.

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    Provenance

    The artist's family, and by descent to
    Mrs P. Howard; Sotheby's, London, 22 March 1979, part of lot 32, where purchased by the present owner.