Press Room Search

Current Press Releases
Archived Press Releases

News Home Current Press Releases

Michelangelo's Influence on the Florentine Art World Is Focus of New Getty Exhibition

Michelangelo to Vasari:
Drawing the Figure in Renaissance Florence
At the Getty July 15-October 19, 2003

July 28, 2003

Los Angeles--Michelangelo Buonarroti, one of the towering geniuses of Renaissance Italy, was a master draftsman whose sublime, powerful drawings influenced multiple generations of artists over the course of his 50-year career and long after his death. Michelangelo to Vasari: Drawing the Figure in Renaissance Florence, at the Getty Center from July 15 through October 19, 2003, focuses on important drawings by Michelangelo and his contemporaries to illustrate the central importance of the master artist on the Florentine scene, and in particular, his impact upon the art of drawing the human figure.

The highlight of the exhibition is the Getty’s own Michelangelo drawing, The Holy Family with the Infant Saint John the Baptist (about 1530), a monumental group, drawn in pen and ink with red and black chalk, showing the Virgin Mary, Joseph, the Christ Child, and the young St. John. There are fewer than a dozen Michelangelo drawings in American collections, and the Getty’s superb example is one of the most important. Surrounding that work are 25 drawings and 1 print by the master’s Florentine contemporaries, including Andrea del Sarto, Jacopo Pontormo, Rosso Fiorentino, Agnolo Bronzino, Baccio Bandinelli, Jacopo Zucchi, Giovanni Battista Naldini, and Giorgio Vasari, among others.

"This exhibition brings together, for the first time, the Getty's collection of 16th-century Florentine drawings, revealing one of the great strengths of the Museum's collection," says Deborah Gribbon, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum and vice president of the J. Paul Getty Trust.  "It is a unique opportunity to see them side-by-side as a coherent group. The show also includes one of the Getty’s recent acquisitions, An Angel Holding a Book, by the Tuscan artist Cristoforo Roncalli, called Pomarancio, who was directly inspired by Michelangelo.

Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564), called "the Divine" by Giorgio Vasari, was arguably the most influential artist in the development of 16th-century Italian art.  As Vasari stated in his famous Lives of the Artists (1550), art reached its perfection in the genius of Michelangelo. "Give thanks to Heaven, and imitate Michelangelo in all things," he proclaimed. For Michelangelo, the quintessential Renaissance man—painter, sculptor, draftsman, poet, architect—the human form was the most profound expression of God’s creation, and fare le figure (to represent the figure) was his highest artistic aim.

The practice of drawing was central in Florentine workshops of the period, and the influence of Michelangelo's muscular, vibrant drawings was widespread. His drawings were often copied by his contemporaries. Casting off earlier Renaissance ideals of restrained classicism, many of the finest Florentine artists followed Michelangelo's lead in composing dynamic, intense, and complex body poses and facial expressions. Eventually, as demonstrated by the drawings in the exhibition, these elements led to what is called the Mannerist style, with its hyper-elegant, twisting, and elongated figures.
The Getty's Michelangelo to Vasari exhibition is organized with the participation of senior art history majors from Occidental College, Los Angeles, under the direction of Professor Eric Frank, a specialist in Italian art.  The students aided in writing labels, and gained hands-on curatorial experience.


Saturday, August 2, 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Museum Courtyard

The Renaissance comes to life in all its pageantry and finery for this full day of celebration with live music, dance, theater, storytelling, and interactive workshops.  Children can draw inspiration from the great Florentine and Flemish masters as they make their own works of art. FREE – no reservations required.

Lecture: Figure Drawing in Renaissance Florence
Sunday, August 10, 4 p.m., Harold M. Williams Auditorium

David Franklin, chief curator, National Gallery of Canada, explores the profound impact that Michelangelo had on the concept and practice of life drawing, as his ideal interpretation of the human body and the sculptural quality of his compositions inspired many contemporaries and followers such as Andrea del Sarto, Jacopo Pontormo, Rosso Fiorentino, and Giorgio Vasari. FREE – seating reservations required; call 310-440-7300.

Note to Editors: Images available upon request.
For more information, the public can call 310-440-7300 or visit

# # #

About the Getty:

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

Sign up for e-Getty at to receive free monthly highlights of events at the Getty Center and the Getty Villa via e-mail, or visit our event calendar for a complete calendar of public programs.

Visiting the Getty Villa: The Getty Villa is open Wednesday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Tuesday and major holidays. Admission to the Getty Villa is always free. A ticket is required for admission. Tickets can be ordered in advance, or on the day of your visit, at or at 310-440-7300. Parking is $15 per car, but free after 5pm for evening events. Groups of 15 or more must make reservations by phone. For more information, call 310-440-7300 (English or Spanish); 310-440-7305 (TTY line for the deaf or hearing impaired). The Getty Villa is at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, California.