Michelangelo Buonarroti, The Right Lunette with symbols of the passion.

The Right Lunette with symbols of the passion. , 1803

Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475 - 1564)

RA Collection: Art

These prints are from a set of sixteen comprising Metz's Last Judgement after Michelangelo's fresco in the Sistine Chapel. The impressions in the RA collection are from the first edition of stipple engravings that Metz produced after Michelangelo's frescoes; the second set (1808) are outline etchings with markings indicating how the plates should interlock in order to reproduce the whole composition of the Last Judgement. Full sets of both editions can be found in the British Museum.

Metz was a German-born painter, draughtsman and printmaker who lived in London and studied at the RA Schools from 1772, later also training with the painter and printmaker Francesco Bartolozzi RA. He moved to Rome in 1801 where he knew various Royal Academicians and other British artists who were living in or visiting the city including Sir Charles Eastlake PRA.

A letter in the RA archive (HU/5/ 99) records that Metz was at work on his first prints after the Sistine Chapel in December 1801, shortly after arriving in Rome. These reproductions proved influential, especially in Germany. The British Museum catalogue entry for the engravings notes that Metz's Last Judgement 'will have played an important role in disseminating the fame of Michelangelo's fresco. Metz reproduces the Last Judgement as it was then known, with the loin cloths added not long after Michelangelo's death'.

The Royal Academy subscribed to this and further productions by Metz including the publication Imitations of Ancient and Modern Drawings: from the Restoration of the arts in Italy to the present time, 1789. Metz was a collector of Italian Renaissance drawings (see his letter to fellow artist-collector Sir Thomas Lawrence in the RA Archive, LAW/4/328) and his various publications of 'imitations' include prints after drawings from his own collection as well as those of Benjamin West, Sir Joshua Reynolds and others.

Further reading:

Alida Moltedo, La Sistina Riprodotta: Gli affreschi di Michelangelo dalle stampe del Cnquecento alle campagne fotographiche Anderson, Rome, 1991, pp. 179-87

British Museum online catalogue entries for Metz's prints http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=702243&partId=1

Royal Academy Archive - HU/5/99 and LAW/4/328

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Object details

The Right Lunette with symbols of the passion.
Engraved by
Conrad Martin Metz (1749 - 1827)
Object type
Place of Publication

404 mm x 840 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Purchase by subscription Conrad Martin Metz 1804-1819

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