Michelangelo Buonarroti, The Eritrean Sibyl

The Eritrean Sibyl, 1570-5

Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475 - 1564)

RA Collection: Art

These prints are from a set of six engraved by Giorgio Ghisi depicting the prophets and sibyls from the pendentives at the lower edge of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512. They depict the Eritrean Sibyl, The Prophet Joel, The Prophet Ezekiel, The Persian Sibyl, The Prophet Jeremiah, and The Delphic Sibyl.

Ghisi made an earlier print of the whole Last Judgement scene from the Sistine Chapel (1540s) and some of the prophets and sibyls were once thought to have been produced in the same decade but this is likely to be incorrect (see Boorsch and Lewis). The prophets and sibyls are though to date from the 1570s instead. These prints are later impressions of Ghisi's plates published in the 17th century.

This set of prints is probably the one bought by the Academy in 1810 at the suggestion of John Flaxman who was appointed the Academy's first Professor of Sculpture the same year.

Further reading:

Alida Moltedo, La Sistina Riprodotta: Gli affreschi di Michelangelo dalle stampe del Cnquecento alle campagne fotographiche Anderson, Rome, 1991, p.73, no.18/2 iii/v

Suzanne Boorsch, Michael and R.E. Lewis,The Engravings of Giorgio Ghisi, New York, p.155, no.45 iii/v

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Object details

The Eritrean Sibyl
Engraved by
Giorgio Ghisi (1520 - 1582)
Published by
Object type
Place of Publication

551 mm x 430 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Purchased from Colnaghi and Company in 17 November 1818

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