Book Series Museums at the Crossroads, vol. 31

Sebastiano del Piombo and Michelangelo: The Compass and the Mirror

An Anthology

Matthias Wivel (ed)

  • Pages: 344 p.
  • Size:210 x 297 mm
  • Illustrations:10 b/w, 150 col.
  • Language(s):English, Italian
  • Publication Year:2022

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-58026-5
  • Paperback
  • Available


Matthias Wivel, PhD, is Curator of Sixteenth-Century Italian Paintings at the National Gallery, London. He was the curator of the major 2017 exhibition Michelangelo & Sebastiano, as well as the primary author and editor of the attendant catalogue. He has published widely on Venetian drawing, painting and printmaking and has recently, in 2016, co-edited a special issue of Artibus et Historiae dedicated to Prof. Paul Joannides.



The collaboration between Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) and Sebastiano del Piombo (1485-1547), is among the most extraordinary artistic partnerships of the early modern period. It produced works of startling originality, crucial to the development of the so-called High Renaissance in the first decades of the sixteenth century.

It was arguably Michelangelos most creative collaboration, helping him refine motifs and narrative strategies, and it proved determining for Sebastianos development of a monumental, spiritually invested idiom whose influence became a touchstone for religious art deep into the following century, and for principles of painterly abstraction beyond.

Inspired by the exhibition Michelangelo & Sebastiano, mounted at The National Gallery in London in 2017, this book unites a group of international scholars in reflection on the two artists, their collaboration and its wider significance.


Matthias Wivel — The Compass and the Mirror

Elena Calvillo — Friendship, Medium and the Diverging Lives of Sebastiano del Piombo and Michelangelo 

Piers Baker-Bates — Copies and Versions in Sebastiano’s Art? The Christ Carrying the Cross

Sheryl E. Reiss — A Word Portrait of a Medici Maecenas: Giulio de’ Medici (Pope Clement VII) as Patron of Art

Arnold Nesselrath — Raphael: Of Heirs and Pretenders

Matthias Wivel and Rachel Billinge — Sebastiano’s Vich Triptych

Carlo Piga — Da Michelangelo a Sebastiano: antiche suggestioni e moderne invenzioni nel ciclo decorativo della Cappella Borgherini in San Pietro in Montorio a Roma

Stefania Pasti — Aperietur in tempore: Sebastiano del Piombo and the Borgherini Chapel in the Light of Prophetic Readings

Paul Joannides — A New Drawing by Sebastiano del Piombo for the Semi-Dome of the Borgherini Chapel

Costanza Barbieri — Sebastiano as Portraitist and a Case Study: The Portrait of Michelangelo Pointing at His Drawings

Oriana Sartiani — A Portrait of Michelangelo Attributed to Sebastiano del Piombo: Technical Examination, Discoveries, and Treatment

Simonetta Antellini — L’originalità compositiva della Nascita della Vergine di Sebastiano del Piombo

Daniela Luzi — ‘Il bel secreto’: La pittura sperimentale sulla pietra di Sebastiano nella Cappella Chigi

Morten Steen Hansen — The Readings of Angels: Sebastiano del Piombo and the Politics of the Immaculate Conception

Andrea Donati — Marcello Venusti, Michelangelo and the Legacy of Sebastiano del Piombo

Charles Robertson — Michelangelo’s Last Judgement: Sebastiano del Piombo’s Contribution