Michelangelo’s original painting was commissioned in 1529 by Alfonso d’Este for his palazzo in Ferrara, but taken to France for the royal collection in 1532. It was at Fontainebleau in 1536. Michelangelo gave the cartoon to his assistant Antonio Mini, who used it for several copies for French patrons before his death in 1533. It survived for over a century. The original was probably deliberately destroyed at some point, that happened to many “pagan” paintings. All that is left is an engraving by Cornelis Bos and this copy by an unknown hand, now located in the National Gallery in London. For a long time, it was kept in the director’s office because it was considered unfit for public exhibition. How close it is to the original, we can only guess.

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