Michelangelo’s last decades revealed

A new, temporary exhibition at The British Museum.
The punishment of Tityus. Royal Collection Trust/© His Majesty King Charles III.

Michelangelo: The Last Decades is a brand-new exhibition at The British Museum that looks at the celebrated artist’s final three decades, revealing how his religious beliefs and intellectual engagement continued to shape his genius.

Running until July 28, the exhibition follows Michelangelo’s time in Rome, after Pope Clemenet VII summoned then Europe’s most famous artist to paint a fresco of the the Last Judgement for the Sistine Chapel. 

At this time, Michelangelo was already 59 years old, which would have been regarded as old by his contemporaries, but his celebrity and talent were such that the demand for his work lasted another thirty years, until he died at the age of 88 in 1564. 

In the exhibition, which is housed in The Joseph Hotung Great Court Gallery, visitors can see some of the most beautiful drawings the artist’s hands ever created. These include many preparatory drawings for his Last Judgement fresco, as well as the recently conserved Epifania, which is one of his only two known surviving cartoons in the world.

Meanwhile, poems and intimate letters by the artist help reveal his mindstate during those last 30 years of his life, showing how he became obsessed with salvation, dealt with his own mortality, and explored his Christian faith.

Tickets to Michelangelo: The Last Decades cost £18 (approx €21) for adults, while those under 16 enter free. It is open daily between 10am and 5pm BST, and between 10am and 8.30pm BST on Fridays.

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