A late self-portrait of Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) in the cartoon of the Epifania in the British Museum

Main Article Content

Deivis de Campos
Luciano Buso


Michelangelo Buonarroti, Self-portrait, The Epifania cartoon, British Museum


The scientific literature has shown that the renowned Italian Renaissance artist and genius of human anatomy Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) included his self-portrait into some of his most famous works. It has been suggested that the various self-portraits and self-caricatures the artist used in his works over the years may offer some insight into Michelangelo’s physical form and, consequently, provide evidence of his health at different stages of his life. Accordingly, this manuscript presents new evidence [based on facial features described by Daniele of Volterra (1509-1566) and Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574)] that Michelangelo may have inserted his self-portrait into one of the figures that make up the Epifania cartoon, made by the artist in 1553, which is currently in the collection of the British Museum in London, England. Thus, the information contained in this manuscript is not only useful for future analyses of Michelangelo’s health [based on facial features] when he was approximately 78 years old, but also how the artist, who was known for being very introspective, saw himself physically in his old age.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...
Abstract 131 | PDF Downloads 40


1. Blech B, Doliner R. The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo`s Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican. New York: HarperCollins Publishers; 2008.

2. Bianucci R, Lippi D, Perciaccante A, Charlier P, Appenzeller O. Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) had the deconditioning syndrome while painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Med Hypotheses 2018; 113: 13-14.

3. Di Bella S, Taglietti F, Iacobuzio A, Johnson E, Baiocchini A, Petrosillo N. The "delivery" of Adam: a medical interpretation of Michelangelo. Mayo Clin Proc 2015; 90: 505-508.

4. Gallenga PE, Neri G, D'Anastasio R, Pettorrossi VE, Alfieri E, Capasso L. Michelangelo's eye disease. Med Hypotheses 2012; 78: 757-759.

5. Lazzeri D, Castello MF, Matucci-Cerinic M, Lippi D, Weisz GM. Osteoarthritis in the hands of Michelangelo Buonarroti. J R Soc Med 2016; 109: 180-183.

6. Lazzeri D, Lippi D, Castello MF, Weisz GM. The Mystery of Michelangelo Buonarroti's Goiter. Rambam Maimonides Med J 2016; 7:1.

7. Meshberger FL. An interpretation of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam based on neuroanatomy. JAMA 1990; 264: 1837-1841.

8. De Campos D. A self-caricature of Michelangelo Buonarroti hidden in the portrait of Vittoria Colonna. Clin Anat 2018; 31: 335-338.

9. De Campos D. A Self-Portrait of Michelangelo Buonarroti Hidden in a Drawing from the Ashmolean Museum. Clin Anat 2019; 32: 53-57.

10. Lazzeri D. The handedness of Michelangelo Buonarroti. Clin Anat 2018; 31: 645-647.

11. Vasari G. Vida de Michelangelo Buonarroti: florentino, pintor, escultor e arquiteto (1568) / Giorgio Vasari; tradução, introdução e comentário: Luiz Marques. Campinas: Editora da Unicamp; 2011.

12. Ferro S. Michelangelo: Arquiteto e Escultor da Capela dos Medici. São Paulo: WMF; 2016.

13. Barenboim P, Heath A. Michelangelo’s Moment: The British Museum Madonna. Moscow: Loom; 2018.

14. Chapman H. Michelangelo - The British Museum. London: British Museum Press; 2006.

15. Buso L. Giotto si Rivela. Crocetta del Montello: Grafiche Antiga SPA; 2019.

16. Gallico S. Vaticano. Roma: Edizione Musei Vaticani – Ats Italia Editrice; 1999.

17. Ainsworth MW, Christiansen K. From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Harry N. Abrams Inc; 1999.

18. Boff L. Saint Joseph: The Father of Jesus in a Fatherless Society. Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers; 2009.

19. Wilson CC. St. Joseph in Italian Renaissance Society and Art: New Directions and Interpretations. Philadelphia: Saint Joseph's University Press; 2001.

20. Cliulich LB, Ragionieri P. Michelangelo: grafia e biografia. Disegni e autografi del maestro. Firenze: Mandragora; 2004.

21. Crispino E. Michelangelo. Firenze: Giunti; 2001.

22. Dillon A. Michelangelo and the English Martyrs. New York: Routledge; 2012.

23. Gayford M. Michelangelo: His Epic Life. London: Penguin Books Ltd; 2013.

24. Loh MH. Renaissance Faciality. Oxford Art Journal 2009;32:341–363.

25. Parker D. Michelangelo and the art of letter writing. New York: Cambridge University Press; 2010.

26. Smithers T. Michelangelo in the New Millennium: Conversations about Artistic Practice, Patronage and Christianity. Boston: Brill; 2016.

27. Symonds JA. The life of Michelangelo Buonarroti: based on studies in the archives of the Buonarroti family at Florence. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press; 2002.

28. Tatem S. Michelangelo: Faces and Anatomy in His Art. Bloomington: Xlibris; 2010.

29. Tatem S. Michelangelo’s Secret Anatomy Book. Bloomington: Xlibris; 2013.

30. Vaughan C. Michelangelo's Notebooks: The Drawing, Notes, Poetry, and Letters of the Great Master. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal; 2016.