The Tondo

Today for the first time since it was installed behind bullet-proof glass upstairs in the Sackler Gallery in 1991, the glass was taken off the display case of Michelangelo’s Tondo, so that one could see it in its full, fresh and rough-hewn glory.   We were told its history in the RA:  bought by the artist and collector, George Beaumont, in Rome in 1822;  shown in his house in Grosvenor Square;  bequeathed on his death in 1827 to the RA;  hung on the top floor of Burlington House in the late nineteenth century and in the General Assembly Room after the war;  occasionally exhibited, as, for example, in the great Italian Art exhibition in 1930.   It certainly looks very different out from behind glass, some parts finished and polished, much of it still waiting the chisel:-







3 thoughts on “The Tondo

  1. I have always felt the Michaelangolo tondo is in the wrong place because the frontal lighting completely flattens the modelling of its relief carving. Ironically,the plaster cast of the same relief over the door of one of the galleries, shows up the modelling much better because of the lighting from above. As the marble tondo is exhibited high up in the building, perhaps a narrow rectangular light tunnel could be made to come through the roof above it, to give it a downward raking illumination. At the same time, the window facing it now, could be blanked off. Alternatively it could be moved elsewhere in the building. It could look so much better, properly lit and in a position where it could be seen from further away.

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