"Sleeping Eros" by Michelangelo automatic translate
According to various estimates, two-thirds of the works of old masters are considered lost. Many of them are known from archival or primary materials, and yet today we have no idea where they are. Some of these lost works are even more important for art than those that survived. When we study the history of art, we, as a rule, take as a basis the core that has survived. This is understandable, it is easier to learn what you can see for yourself. But, for example, archaeologists study what is lost, trying to restore the object with the help of their knowledge, imagination or those digital technologies that we own. Why does this method so rarely work in relation to art?
The study of the history of some lost works can illuminate the dark side chapels of the history of art, and some personalities may appear before us in a completely different light than we are accustomed to seeing them. On the other hand, such knowledge will force us to take a more careful attitude to that art, to use modern methods of protection and protective films that we own today and not take it for granted.
Few realize that the most important figure of the Renaissance - Michelangelo - began his career as a falsifier of sculptures. Today, his work even decorates smartphone covers, and frescoes and drawings have acquired an incredible price, but in the meantime he was young and no one knows. The most valuable sculptures on the Italian art market at this time were Roman marble statues. Michelangelo seems to have set out to create a sculpture that can be sold as original, ancient. His first biographer, Paolo Giovio (1483-1552), wrote: «Michelangelo achieved the highest glory in sculpture when he made Eros of marble and afterwards kept him buried in the ground for some time, and then presented the light again, but already with those spots and marks that he acquired, as well as with other minor imperfections that were intentionally applied to her in such a way that Eros looked like an ancient one. Then he sold it for a great price through an intermediary to Cardinal Riario. «
Michelangelo made «Sleeping Eros» in 1496, when he was only 21. But the truth surfaced, and the cardinal returned the statue to the dealer, Baldassar del Milanese, who without problems again sold it. So the statue was first in the collection of Cesare Borgia, and then at Guidido de Montefeltro, in Urbino. In 1502 Eros again found himself at Borgia, who took him as a debt, and then presented as a gift to Isabella d’Este in Mantua, where the statue took its place of honor as the original Michelangelo.
So the statue, which existed under the guise of an ancient Roman artifact, became more valuable six years later, when the truth was revealed, and its author began to gain popularity.
«Sleeping Eros» remained in Mantua until it was bought by King Charles I and delivered to England in 1631. Unfortunately, the statue was destroyed, probably in the fire at Whitehall, in 1698. And Cardinal Riario, meanwhile, does not seem to be too saddened by the scam in which he happened to participate, and became the first patron of Michelangelo in Rome. It is interesting that the famous biographer of the Renaissance artists Giorgio Vasari does not mention the story with Sleeping Eros, probably in order not to cast a shadow on the name of the already famous artist, and another contemporary of Michelangelo, Ascanio Condivi, writes that the sculpture was declared an ancient Roman by the initiative of an unconscionable intermediary, thereby removing the guilt from the artist.
Sleeping Eros, of course, was not the only forgery made by Michelangelo. Even Vasari, a close friend of Michelangelo, and his biographer, writes without any hesitation that the artist had a habit of copying other people’s drawings for the sake of earning and substituting the originals for them. «He copied the drawings of the old masters so beautifully that his copies could not be distinguished from the originals, he subtly toned and aged paper.» What exactly did Michelangelo forge? Have his fakes survived to this day? Is it possible that some of the masterpieces known today do not actually belong to the brush of their «authors»? These questions are not answered and it is unlikely that he will ever appear.