Detail from the 'Madonna of Silence' drawing by Michelangelo

Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475 – 1564) is perhaps one of the best-known artists in the world. The Renaissance master created extraordinary works like the Sistine Chapel ceiling and the Statue of David. We are fortunate to have one of his drawings on show in the Portland Collection Museum. This red chalk presentation drawing is titled ‘Madonna del Silenzio’ – the Madonna of Silence.

Michelangelo - The Madonna of Silence

Madonna del Silenzio, Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1538 – 1540. © Harley Foundation, The Portland Collection


Michelangelo shows the Madonna cradling her son, a common motif in Renaissance art. In this drawing, the Madonna has her sleeping infant on her knee. However, other works by Michelangelo (like the Pietà in St Peter’s Basilica) show her holding her son’s body after the crucifixion.

Presentation drawing

The Madonna of Silence is one of Michelangelo’s ‘Presentation Drawings’, a series of works made with chalk on paper. Michelangelo made these beautifully finished pieces as gifts. He gave many to his friend Tommaso de’ Cavalieri, to help him to learn to draw.

Just like Tommaso, visitors to the museum can take their time and look closely at this piece to learn from the master.

The 6th Duke of Portland bought this drawing. We don’t know what inspired the Duke to make this purchase – which is an unusual addition to the collection as it is the only old master drawing.

The Madonna of Silence has been on show in our museum since 2016. Before this, it had not been shown publicly for 50 years.

Mapping Michelangelos

It is rare for a museum collection to show an original Michelangelo artwork. Much of his work is on show in Italy, while elsewhere in the world, his work tends to be on show in national galleries.

Here in the UK, there is a small selection of museums where you can see his work.

We have been compiling a list of places where you can see original work by Michelangelo. We hope it will help you to study his work further – or to plan a Renaissance-themed road trip!

If you know of any other venues showing an artwork by Michelangelo do let us know and help us add to our database. Email

Please note this list only includes works attributed directly to Michelangelo Buonarotti. It doesn’t include works from his studio or after the artist.

Rebecca Hardy

Rebecca Hardy

Rebecca Hardy trained as a fine artist and has been working in the culture sector for over a decade. She writes for a number of publications on topics such as art history, contemporary exhibitions, and museum marketing.

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Plan your visit to the Museum to see the Madonna of Silence by Michelangelo.