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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 March 2006, 14:15 GMT
Michelangelo show breaks record
Sketch for the work Study For Adam from the Sistine Chapel. Copyright British Museum/PA
This is a sketch for the work Study For Adam from the Sistine Chapel
A Michelangelo exhibition has broken the British Museum's advance bookings record with 10,868 tickets sold.

Michelangelo Drawings: Closer to the Master, overtook the previous record holder, 2005's Persia exhibition, which had 3,670 advance sales.

The Michelangelo show opens on Thursday and features 90 drawings.

The artist was an Italian Renaissance sculptor, painter and architect and he regularly destroyed his sketches to stop his rivals getting hold of them.

Study for the figure of Day from the Medici tombs. Copyright British Museum/PA
The show includes a study for the figure of Day from the Medici tombs

It is also thought that the Florentine artist did not want people to see the work that went into creating his human forms.

The British Museum said it was its first Michelangelo exhibition in 30 years.

Curator Hugo Chapman said: "Michelangelo would have hated this exhibition. He wouldn't have wanted us to understand how he worked. He wanted us to go into the Sistine chapel and be amazed.

"But I think he was wrong to destroy his drawings because they bring a further understanding and make us appreciate his genius even more."

The works were put together from collections in the British Museum, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, and the Teyler Museum in Holland.

Copyright British Museum/PA
Michelangelo drew studies of the Crucifixion throughout his lifetime

Visitors will be able to see drawings the artist used for teaching students, alongside the pupils' own sketches.

On one of these sketches, of the virgin and child, Michelangelo wrote: "Draw, Antonio, draw, Antonio, draw and don't waste time."

Curators added that the tension between Michelangelo's passions for the male form and his Christian faith during his 60-year career was the driving force in much of his art.

The exhibition states "Michelangelo was close to a number of young men", adding: "Although we might think of Michelangelo as homosexual, such notions of sexual identity were unknown in the Renaissance.

"Homosexual behaviour was common in Florence."

The show also features black-and-white chalk studies for the Last Judgement on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel and drawings of the Crucifixion.

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