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Jack Balas, 2011; MICHELANGELO-- SCOTT ON THE BEACH, OSTIA (Muse/ Museum Series) (#560); watercolor and ink on paper; 15" x 22.5"



date unknown, c. 1508-12 ?
watercolor on paper, with plaster
residue, sea salt and chianti.

Michelangelo Buonarroti

During the long hot Roman summers
of the 1500's Michelangelo was an
habitue of the beaches at nearby Ostia
with his companion depicted here,
Scott, his lead fresco-mixer while
painting the Sistine Ceiling.

Discovered on the verso of a popular
wine-cellar's menu, the watercolor
predates by about 400 years Picasso's
well-known habit of drawing on napkins
to pay a bar tab, and has only come to
light while cleaning out some old
vestment drawers in the Cardinals'
Sacristy, just footsteps from the
Bernini altar in Saint Peter's.

You should note that Scott's shorts
are the same lusty red as those robes
worn by the Vatican higher-ups, but
you don't have to take that any further.