Michelangelo and Sebastiano: Collaboration and influence
Michelangelo is usually considered a ‘lone genius’ because he did not run a traditional workshop. However, he did provide drawings for his friends to work from, including Sebastiano del Piombo and Marcello Venusti, both skilled artists in their own right.
As explored in The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Michelangelo & Sebastiano (15 March–25 June), Michelangelo’s drawings for Sebastiano in the 1510s allowed them to rival Raphael. In the following decades Sebastiano was the primary portrait painter in Rome, assimilating the monumentality of Michelangelo’s figures. Sebastiano exerted great influence on Roman portraiture in the second half of the 16th century.
Michelangelo’s designs for Venusti in the 1550s meant that, although busy with architectural commissions, he could still devise frescoes and small devotional paintings. His drawings focus on the figures, giving Venusti more freedom in creating settings and using colour in his own polished style.
Michelangelo’s inventive compositions were much copied, both by his contemporaries and subsequent generations, and disseminated far beyond Italy.