The Dream of Human Life, after Michelangelo
Inscribed at lower left, in pen and brown ink, Michel Angelo.
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910
This carefully articulated study is one of numerous versions of a composition by Michelangelo. The subject has been interpreted as an allegory representing the struggle between the intellect and the passions or as the celebration of the purifying force of love. The nude youth at center is surrounded by vignettes illustrating the vices of gluttony, voluptuousness, greed, wrath, and sloth.
A prime version of this subject, generally considered to be Michelangelo's original, is in the Courtauld Institute, London. It belongs to a group of highly finished drawings called presentation drawings, three of which were known to have been made for the young Roman nobleman Tommaso Cavalieri, beloved by Michelangelo.