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Emma Letizia Jones on Michelangelo, Drawing, and the Invention of Architecture
1 April, 2021
Cammy Brothers is a prolific Italian Renaissance scholar. She is closer to an art historian, but I also appreciate that her work is not concerned with the boundaries between art and architecture, which in fact reflects a very Renaissance stance. For Brothers to focus on Michelangelo’s drawings and what they reveal about his turn to architecture is particularly clever. She is able to make cross-disciplinary analyses that reveal her expertise in using different methodologies from both art and architectural history. Drawing has traditionally been the architect’s medium, but has always occupied a lower status to painting or sculpture in histories of art. Brothers exploits this underdog status to bring Michelangelo’s lesser-known drawings into the light. As researchers we are often warned about tackling canonical topics, and encouraged to look at something ‘novel’ that is more unknown. Brothers boldly demonstrates that strategy is wholly unnecessary, and that even canonical artists and architects are deserving of revised analyses by original thinkers (I hear she is about to put out a book on Giuliano da Sangallo). In this respect I should also make an honourable mention of Alina Payne, who has reappraised the role of the architect in the Renaissance in a number of important publications, and written a great history of the early architectural treatise.