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Michelangelo Buonarroti

The Michaelangelo Buonarroti Exhibition is on display in Olin Library’s new Newman Tower of Collections and Exploration; viewing is not restricted during Olin Library’s hours.

Several of Washington University Libraries’ most prized collections are on display in the Newman Tower of Collections and Exploration. Among these is an original manuscript penned by none other than Michelangelo Buonarroti, painter of the Sistine Chapel and one of the most well-known artists in history.

In 1527, Florentine citizens threw out Pope Clement VII, also known as Giulio Medici, leading to a siege of the city. Although Pope Clement VII had been his former patron, Michelangelo sided with Florence and helped to design fortifications for the city during the siege.

Like all Florentines, he supplied the government with an inventory while Florence was under siege by Pope Clement VII’s troops. In the 1530 handwritten business record displayed in the Newman Tower, Michelangelo records an inventory of his limited food stores and notes that he has four mouths to feed. He also keeps track of distributions of grain to feed tenant farmers and restore food production on his properties following the siege.

Design for Fortifications, Casa Buonarotti 20A r.
Michelangelo’s business records, 1530. Recto. From Washington University Libraries’ George N. Meissner Collection.
Michelangelo’s handwritten business records, 1530. Verso. From Washington University Libraries’ George N. Meissner Collection.