Charcoal and gouache with touches of pastel
Support: Brown wove paper
Sheet: 39.7 x 54.5 cm (15 5/8 x 21 7/16 in.)
Bequest of Muriel Butkin 2015.451
In the late 1520s Michelangelo made a painting depicting Leda and the swan, a mythological story in which Zeus assumes the form of a swan to seduce the mortal woman Leda, producing two children with her. Michelangelo’s version was undeniably more erotic and sensuous than most previous treatments of the subject, as well as more famous. Although the original was lost, several copies of the composition were made from a cartoon (full-scale drawing) that was taken to France by one of Michelangelo’s pupils in the 1530s. This drawing by Adolphe Yvon suggests that Michelangelo’s distinctive sensual rendering of the subject persisted into the 1800s.
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