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        As Walter Vitzthum has pointed out, this sheet is particularly interesting for its iconography. He has identified the subject as Pope Julius II looking at Michelangelo's statue of Moses, which was intended for the pope's tomb in St. Peter's. He has further stated that this drawing recalls the decorations of Michelangelo's house in Florence, which were executed in the early seventeenth century by several artists. However, Susan Wegner has suggested that this scene more probably illustrates an anecdote which comes from Vasari's life of Michelangelo and concerns Pope Paul III. Vasari relates that upon the death of Clement VII in 1533, Michelangelo hoped to return to the unfinished project for Julius's tomb, but the newly elected Paul III tried very strongly to secure the artist's services for his own projects. Following Vasari, "the Pope . . . one day called at his house with ten cardinals. He saw and admired all the statues for the tomb of Julius, especially the Moses which the cardinal of Mantua declared sufficient by itself to honour the dead Pope."1 This explanation receives further support from a closely related de' Pietri drawing of the same subject at Holkham Hall, noted by Vitzthum.2 The Holkham sheet is considerably more resolved and contains several additional figures, of whom a few are clearly cardinals. It seems to depict the interior of a studio; the pope looks directly at the artist and addresses him. De' Pietri never executed any paintings for Michelangelo's house, the Casa Buonarroti, in Florence, and the final purpose of these two drawings remains obscure.

        1. The translation is from G. Vasari, The Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, trans. A. B. Hinds (London and New York, 1963), vol. 4, pp. 139-40.

        2. Red chalk, 264 x 195 mm.; photograph in the Witt Library.

        Commentary credited to David P. Becker (or not otherwise captioned) appeared in his catalogue Old Master Drawings at Bowdoin College (Brunswick: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 1985).