Michelangelo masterpiece amidst muddle? An Oxford art scholar claims this questionable find.
The painting was bought in the 1930s at a Sothebys auction and was previously attributed to Marcello Venusti but has been controversially claimed to be a Michelangelo masterpiece at the University of Oxford.
Veteran Italian conservator, Antonio Forcellino, made headlines by backing a wealthy New York family’s claim last month that the painting, which was stored behind their sofa (after being knocked off the wall by a tennis ball), was a work by the famous artist.
Forcellino has now made this statement in England, in relation to a painting formerly considered to be a Venusti piece. According to Forcellino, new research techniques applied to a piece owned by Campion Hall (an institution at Oxford for scholars studying religion) has shown this to be a genuine piece by the Renaissance master. Mr. Forcellino, who used infra-red techniques in order to study layers beneath finished paintings said,“no one but Michelangelo could have painted such a masterpiece” and has included this in his new book, ‘The Lost Michelangelos’.
The picture, depicting the crucifixion with the Madonna, two Mourning Angels and St. John was previously attributed to Marcello Venusti, a contemporary of Michelangelo.
“The figure of Christ was in a wholly different league… [it] created the impression of an artist of much greater standing,”
writes Mr Forcellino.
This claim, if true, would make the painting the most prestigious piece in the collection at Oxford, and would undoubtedly boost competition into studying within the department at Oxford. The work is being cared for by Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology.