December 6, 2007 / 5:56 PM / 11 years ago

Vatican finds lost Michelangelo drawing, his last

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican said on Thursday it had discovered a lost drawing by Renaissance master Michelangelo of a design for the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates midnight mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican December 25, 2006. The Vatican said on Thursday it had discovered a lost drawing by Renaissance master Michelangelo of a design for the dome of St. Peter's Basilica. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

The Vatican newspaper l’Osservatore Romano said the small drawing, done in the spring of 1563 when Michelangelo was 88, was believed to be his last known sketch before he died the next year.

The drawing, a section of the dome, contains some measurements and is thus believed to have been done to give stone cutters guidance after the master deemed work on an earlier batch of stone inadequate.

Michelangelo worked as the architect of the basilica from 1547 until shortly before his death in 1564.

The newspaper said Michelangelo, who destroyed many of his sketches for the basilica, probably drew it on the construction site, giving it directly to workmen with his instructions.

Drawn with blood-colored chalk on paper, it apparently survived because part of the paper had been used again for calculations, perhaps by workmen. It wound up by accident in files concerning the costs of the basilica’s construction.

The newspaper said the drawing would be presented to the media on Monday.

Reporting by Philip Pullella

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