Charles Hope: Michelangelo’s Drawings

The demand for something by his hand was surely an early instance of the kind of celebrity culture with which we are now very familiar. Michelangelo’s contemporaries were certainly in awe of his personality, and this was probably not entirely unrelated to the fact that his name led to endless not entirely unserious suggestions that his work was angelic or divine. Today any sheet of paper that contains so much as a rough sketch by Michelangelo or a line of his very distinctive handwriting has acquired a cachet that makes it almost like a religious relic. Such a sheet gives, or seems to give, a direct access into his way of thinking.