THE EXCESSIVELY RARE HANDWRITING OF MICHELAGELO BUONARROTI
REQUESTING HIM TO PAY 15 GOLD DUCATS TO THE BEARER; ANTONIO DI BERNARDO MINI
It is evident from his published writings that "Giovanni" is Giovanni di Francesco Spina who was undertaking financial transactions for Michelangelo in the years between 1523 and 1525. Spina, a member of a prominent banking family, was employed in the Salviati bank in Florence. Antonio di Bernardo Mini was Michelangelo's art assistant from December1523 until 1531 In 1524 and 1525, Michelangelo was working almost exclusively on models and designs for the tombs of the Medici, the New Sacristy and the Laurentian Library. The present note is undoubtedly connected with one of these projects. A similar request was sent to Spina on 7 January 1524, in connection with the work on the tomb. On the reverse of the note, there are five lines in another contemporary italic hand; the beginning of a letter from Michelangelo to Antonio Mini's uncle Giovanni Battista, and containing an extravagant review of Antonio's work as Michelangelo's artist assistant. The lines are not in Michelangelo's hand, nor in his style, and were therefore probably not written at his dictation. They were more likely to have been written as a joke, either by Mini and Giovanni Spina or by Mini and some other friend. (The hand is not that of Antonio Mini as it does not match the example of Mini's handwriting which exists in the British Library). This sort of humor was very common in Florentine society at the time. Mini's penchant for "joking around" was actually recorded in 1524 when it was recorded that Michelangelo had admonished his assistant to "persevere in drawing and stop wasting time".