Portrait of Michelangelo, exhibited in the National Gallery of London, may be a fake
Earlier we already wrote about an unusual exhibition in the National Gallery of London (National Gallery), designed to highlight the creative partnership of the great Michelangelo (Michelangelo) and his pupil, Sebastiano del Piombo (Sebastiano del Piombo). The exhibition caused a lot of controversy, and recently a scandal erupted. So, last week in the Times (The Times) published an article by Charles Hope, former director of the University of Warburg at the University of London (Warburg Institute at the University of London), in which the author stated that the portrait of Michelangelo, presented at the exhibition and Attributed to the brush Sebastiano (approximately 1518-20 years), in fact, is a forgery of the 1950s.
Let’s try to weigh the pros and cons of this version.
First, consider a number of indisputable facts:
1. The portrait depicts Michelangelo.
2. He holds in his hands a book with drawings, which are a guide to the study of human anatomy. These drawings today correspond to the treatise of Bartolomeo Passarotti, located in the Fitzwilliam Museum, and in turn is an exact copy of the lost original study of the anatomy of Michelangelo himself. We see a reversal of the book, which contains two figures, completely corresponding to their composition, location and orientation on the sheet of Passarotti’s work.
3. At the time of its sale at the Dorotheum auction in Vienna in 2001, the work was attributed to the Passarotti brush.
4. X-rays showed that the painting was written over the work of Madonna and Child with John the Baptistby by Andrea del Sarto (1518). The original work is now in the Borghese Gallery in Rome and its size is much larger than the portrait of Michelangelo.
5. The artist’s position in the painting is almost identical to the portrait of Francesco Arsilli (written by Sebastiano around 1522).
6. On the reverse side of the panel there is a wax seal permitting the export of paintings from the papal state, mandatory for works of art in the second half of the XVII century and dating no earlier than 1646.
7. The state of the portrait was not ideal, part of it was restored and repainted.
Now we will give arguments indirectly confirming the theory of forgery
1. The picture appeared only in 1960. There is no information about where she was before.
2. Hope argues that this would be «unthinkable» if Sebastiano painted the work of a very famous contemporary.
3. A genuine wax seal, allowing the export of the picture, logically would have to belong more to the work of del Sarto, probably a copy of a larger scale picture depicting Madonna. Hope believes that to export somewhere a portrait of the already famous Michelangelo, whom then everyone already knew «in person», it would be strange. Thus, it is likely that the falsifier acquired for its forgery an old panel that belonged to the period necessary for it.
4. The position of the body and hands of Michelangelo in the portrait completely coincides with the position on the little-known portrait of Arsilly. And this suggests that the pose was simply copied. Agree, it is difficult to assume that Sebastiano, depicting the teacher, copied his pose from another of his portraits.
5. The collar on the portrait, in theory, does not correspond to the type of clothing worn in the middle of the 16th century.
The authenticity of the picture at the moment has not been established, however, based on the studies, it can be said that the composition used for creating the portrait of the pigments fully corresponds to the dating of 1518, and the technique of applying paints is characteristic of Sebastiano.
Explain the fact of creating a work on the work of Andrea del Sarto could be, if we assume that the picture did not like the patronized and Andrea, and Sebastiano, Pierfrancesco Borgherini (Pierfrancesco Borgherini). She might well ask Sebastiano to rewrite the composition in accordance with Michelangelo’s sketch made by him for another Madonna del Piombo. Then Sebastiano could easily paint over the work of his «Florentine rival.»
As for the collar of Michelangelo, perhaps this part of the portrait has been retouched, and in any case, it is too small to draw global conclusions about the authenticity of the picture, based on this detail.
Thus, if the portrait of Michelangelo is a falsification, then the artist who executed it very well took care that it was not easy to prove it.
В Риме представили неизвестный рисунок одного из мэтров эпохи Возрождения - Микеланджело.
Речь идет о наброске к композиции «Жертвоприношение Исаака», который был обнаружен в ходе реставрации рисунков Микеланджело. Никто из исследователей даже не догадывался о существовании этой работы, поскольку она была сделана на оборотной стороне другого графического листа. Вместе с новой находкой в Капитолийских музеях Рима экспонируется ещё одна работа мастера - двусторонний карандашный портрет Клеопатры. Он был найден при таких же обстоятельствах, только 30 лет назад.