Online Learning Resources – Michelangelo's Dream - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Online Learning Resources – Michelangelo's Dream

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Online Learning Resources – Michelangelo's Dream

Michelangelo’s masterpiece The Dream is one of the greatest of all Renaissance drawings. This complex work shows a nude youth being roused by a winged spirit from the vices that surround him. The Dream was probably part of the celebrated group of drawings which Michelangelo made as gifts for Tommaso de’ Cavalieri, a young Roman nobleman with whom he had fallen passionately in love. With loans from international collections, the exhibition united The Dream for the first time with these extraordinary drawings.


Michelangelo's Dream in context

Download the leaflet ‘Works on Paper: Michelangelo’s Dream in context’

Teachers' Resource

Download the Teachers’ Resource pack

Listen to five sonnets by Michelangelo

The exhibition Michelangelo’s Dream contained not only drawings but also the manuscripts of some of his most important letters and poems. The poems, recorded for the exhibition and available here as podcasts, were composed for the Roman nobleman Tommaso de’ Cavalieri and deal with spiritual longing and passionate desire. Michelangelo’s sonnets and madrigals are perhaps less well known than his sculpture and painting but were considered of great worth by humanist intellectuals in his time.

If one chaste love, if one sublime compassion, if one fortune affects two lovers equally, if one harsh fate matters as much to both, if one spirit, if one will rules two hearts…

S’un casto amor, s’una pieta superna
Michelangelo Buonarroti, c.1532




If one chaste love…


If desire of the immortal…


You know that I know, my lord…


Not even by raising my thoughts…


To burn fiercely for immense beauty…

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