Apollo Magazine

Michelangelo: the last decades

In the last 30 years of his life, the artist produce some of his most astonishing work, as this show at the British Museum attests

The punishment of Tityus (1532; detail), Michelangelo. Royal Collection Trust; © His Majesty King Charles III 2024

In 1534 Michelangelo left his native Florence and settled permanently in Rome. At 59 years old, the artist already had some of the most famous works in the Western canon under his belt – the sculpture David, the Sistine Chapel ceiling and The Creation of Adam, to name a few. Yet he would go on making art for another three decades until his death, including painting his masterpiece the Last Judgment on the walls of the Sistine Chapel over the course of five years from 1536. The British Museum is offering a survey of this late period of remarkable productivity, displaying detailed classical and religious drawings, preparatory sketches for the Last Judgment, a painting by Marcello Venusti based on Michelangelo’s drawings, and the large chalk cartoon Epifania, which has been put on show only recently after a painstaking six-year conservation process (2 May–28 July).

Find out more from the British Museum’s website.

Preview below | View Apollo’s Art Diary


Study for the ‘Last Judgment’ (n.d.), Michelangelo. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Christ on the Cross between the Virgin and St John (c. 1555–64), Michelangelo. © The Trustees of the British Museum

The Purification of the Temple (c. 1550), Marcello Venusti. Photo: © The National Gallery, London

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