The subject of the purification of the Temple is taken from the New Testament (Matthew 21: 12-13). Jesus drives the traders out of the Temple in Jerusalem, accusing them of turning a house of prayer into a den of thieves.
The work is based on figure drawings by Michelangelo. There is no known model for the architecture, but the pillars are modelled on some famous antique examples in Saint Peter's in Rome.
Although Michelangelo made few easel paintings, he is known to have distributed drawings for works which were subsequently painted by other artists. No finished drawing by Michelangelo is known for this design but there are small sketches of the figures.
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