This has been quite a year for fans of Renaissance art in Japan, with all three of its giants — Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and now Michelangelo — featuring in exhibitions. While the da Vinci show was weak in content and the Raphael quite well stocked, the latest show "Michelangelo Buonarroti" seems to fall somewhere in between.

There are a couple of sculptures, including Michelangelo's earliest known work, "The Madonna of the Stairs" (ca. 1490), and quite a few studies and sketches, some of which, such as "Cleopatra" (1535), are quite well developed, although still very far from being finished works. These are supplemented by various letters and architectural plans by the artist, as well as a selection of related works by other artists. Among these is a portrait of the great man himself, attributed to the mannerist painter Marcello Venusti, who is mainly remembered for having painted an impressive copy of Michelangelo's fresco "The Last Judgement" (1537-41).

This show is also superior to the da Vinci exhibition because the contents are used more effectively to tell a cohesive story, namely the creation of what is probably the world's single greatest work of art, the series of interlinked frescoes that make up the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.