Review Of "The Drawings Of Michelangelo And His Followers In The Ashmolean Museum" By P. Joannides

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Books on Michelangelo's drawings are many. This volume, which catalogs those in the distinguished Ashmolean collection, stands out in price but also in its exemplary scholarship, notably in the summary of published opinions included in each of its 114 entries, 57 for the drawings by the master and the rest for those by other artists. These are exceptionally interesting and illuminating; they read as a checkered history of connoisseurship. Joannides' first introductory essay chronicles meticulously the inception and subsequent development of the Ashmolean collection. It is thorough and closely documented, going back beyond Sir Thomas Lawrence to the Casa Buonarroti; it is an important contribution to the history of collecting through the centuries. In the second essay, the author argues that connoisseurship misleads because it is methodologically hardly scientific, but he offers no new major revision in attribution; his attempt at a functional typology of drawings is overwrought and academic. The book reproduces all the drawings in the catalog but sadly in black-and-white, undermining the distinct graphic character, not to speak of the beauty, of Michelangelo's red chalk drawings. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.


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