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Model History



Michelangelo (1475-1564)
by Daniel da Volterra (1565)


Engraving showing sculpture students studying small clay models at the Academy of Baccio Bandinelli in Rome, in Michelangelo's time By Agostino Veneziano, 1531, London, British Museum.



Model on Michelangelo's tomb


History of the Models

"Bozzetto is a Italian word, meaning the bud of a flower, a rose bud not fully blown; in art it means a model for a sculpture or a sketch for a painting. In Michelangelo's own words it means, 'the first birth from which a work of art springs.' Disegno, means almost the same, - a drawing or model, aan idea in its first shape. Therefore, we must consider Michelangelo's models together with his drawings" ---Ludwig Goldscheider (1962)

Michelangelo made small clay models from which he carved his statues. The "David" 18 feet high is said to have been carved from a model 12 inches high. Most of the models have been lost to time.

It is reported that two large boxes of models were given to Michelangelo's favorite pupil, Antonio Mini, who took them to France. Mini also took a largr number of Michelangelo drawings and his Michelangelo's Painting Leda and the Swan. Mini died in Paris, France shortly after arriving there.

Florintine Sculptor Giovanni Rustici, happened to be in Paris at the time, and returned some of the models, probably the 40, to Florence Italy. As a student Rustici would have recognized the work of his teacher Michelangelo.

Tintoretto ended up with the models who made sketches of them and used them in the background of some of his paintings. Vasari got the models next. When Vasari died his heirs sold his Michelangelo artifacts to the rich "silk king" Paul Van Pruan in Bologna, Italy. Praun was collecting artifacts of famous artists of the time.

Michelangelo is also recorded to have given models to admirers some of which Van Praun bought up later.

Michelangelo is also recorded as destroying his work prior to his death, so that know one will know his secrets. Those that remained ended up smashed against the wall of his studio.

There were 40 models in the orignial Von Praun Collection. The von Praun Collection ramained intact till 1803 when the were sold. The 40 models in the Von Praun Collectin remained were alsways sold to one buyer. After 1803 seven of the models were sold to single buyers. The remaining 33 models were then sold as a single unit till the 1938 Christies sale when it was sold to 7 different collectors.

In 1938, thirty three of the models were sold at auction in 1938 at Christies to 7 different buyers. Eleven of the models in the Christe's sale have since been lost. These models may have been destroyed or are sitting in bank deposit boxes somewhere...



  • Vasari on Michelangelo making models for the Medici Chapel for other sculptors to carve
  • History of the of the Von Praun Collection

  • Time Line of the Van Praun Collection

  • List of People in Michelangelos's Life