Friday, 27 May 2011

The Lost Michelangelos

Antonio Forcellino, The Lost Michelangelos, Cambridge, Polity Press, 2011. Translated by Lucinda Byatt. (Original title: La Pietà Perduta, Milano, R.C.S., 2010).  pp.181 (10 plates, 5 in colour); ISBN-13: 978-0-7456-5203-0.

The author, an Italian professional art restorer/conservator, reports the detective story that led to his identification of what he believes to be an original Michelangelo panel previously unknown to the academic world. (He also revises the provenance of a second panel with evidence to strongly suggest that it too is an original by the master.)

Far from a dry, technical report, the author also tells the personal story of his search and conscious fidelity to a sceintific methodology - a fidelity that does not extinguish his infectious enthusiasm and that of his collaborators.

Part of his account expresses Michelangelo's relationship with the Italian spirituali, including Vittoria Colonna and Reginald Pole - an historical and documented context in which the Pietà was produced, and which testifies to the existence of the panel painting. Forcellino's detective work establishes a plausible line of provence of the panel. Combined with corroborated analysis of the Pietà's underlying drawing leads to a positive identification of the panel's author.

The translation is a smooth read.

Post script:
The following article has since appeared in the International Herald Tribune (26 May 2011):

I first became aware of this story from an article by Melissa Klein (NewsCore on 11 October 2011) published in the International Herald Tribune and various other news services, including The Australian:

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