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Michelangelo's Dream

Michelangelo's Dream


Michelangelo's masterpiece The Dream (or Il Sogno) has been described as one of the finest of all Italian Renaissance drawings and is amongst The Courtauld Gallery's greatest treasures. Executed in c. 1533, when Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) was at the height of his career, this magnificent work exemplifies Michelangelo's unrivalled skill as draughtsman and his extraordinary powers of invention. Accompanying an exhibition at the Courtauld, this catalogue examines this celebrated work in the context of an exceptional group of closely related drawings by Michelangelo, as well as some of his original letters and poems and works by his contemporaries.


The Dream is one of Michelangelo's 'presentation drawings', a magnificent and famous group of highly refined compositions which the artist gave to his closest friends. These beautiful and complex works transformed drawings into an independent art form and are amongst Michelangelo's very finest creations in any medium. The Dream was probably one of a superb group made for a young Roman nobleman with whom Michelangelo was in love, Tommaso de' Cavalieri, who was celebrated for his outstanding beauty, gracious manners and intellect. This group is studied in the book and includes The Punishment of Tityus, The Fall of Phaeton, A Bacchanal of Children and The Rape of Ganymede. In his Life of Michelangelo (1568) the biographer and artist Giorgio Vasari praised these exceptional works as "drawings the like of which have never been seen" - and they are still regarded as amongst the greatest single series of drawings ever made.

  • Edited by Stephanie Buck

    224 pages, hardback

    260 x 216 mm, 100 illustrations
    ISBN: 978 1 907372 02 5

  • In the press

    "A curatorial and scholarly triumph ... the catalogue essays do full justice to the power of Michelangelo's intellect, as well as to hand and eye." Richard Dorment, The Telegraph


    "One of the greatest (yet smallest) shows you will ever see." Laura Cumming, The Observer


    "An intriguing exhibition …. By far and away the most accomplished study of the subject yet." Brian Sewell, Evening Standard


    "A sensational exhibition in more ways than one …. It is the most intimate encounter with Michelangelo yet staged by a British gallery." Jonathan Jones, The Guardian

  • Exhibition

    Courtauld Gallery 18 February – 16 May 2010

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