Michelangelo Buonarroti

Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564)
The Dream (Il Sogno)
c. 1533
Black chalk
Accepted by HM Government in Lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the Samuel Courtauld Trust (Princes Gate Collection), 1981

Michelangelo's complex allegory shows an idealized nude youth surrounded by worldly vices. A winged being approaches with a trumpet as if to awaken him to a new life. Michelangelo may have presented this drawing to his beloved friend, the young Roman nobleman Tommaso de' Cavalieri. The work immediately became famous among collectors and artists, who copied it numerous times and, exceptionally for a drawing, it acquired a title when the Renaissance biographer Giorgio Vasari named it in 1568.