“New” Michelangelo?

Saint John the Baptist Bearing Witness, circle of Francesco Granacci, possibly by Michelangelo
The latest prize to surface from the ever shifting sea of the attributions of works from the past is the suggestion by Everett Fahy, former Chairman of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, that a painting in the museum’s collection that has been attributed to the circle of Francesco Granacci, Saint John the Baptist Bearing Witness, may in fact be the work of Granacci’s close friend Michelangelo.

There is a good article on ARTnews, in which Fahy describes his “ah-ha” moment in front of the panting, the scholarly article he wrote on it, which took a while to complete, and the fact that he expects critics to “throw brickbats” at his suggestion now that it has been released.

For those of us who are not scholars of the Italian Renaissance, the major interest lies in the possibility that we may now know more about Michelangelo, and at the very least, we can look at this particular painting with fresh eyes.

[Via Jason Kottke]


13 Replies to ““New” Michelangelo?”

  1. It’s an interesting idea. Sometimes artists in the same class or circle of colleagues will purposely imitate each other’s style as an homage, and to try it out. I’ve done that.

    It’d be interesting if it was Granacci, looking over at Michaelangelo’s work and saying, “great stuff! I’ll try that!” just to experiment.

  2. I love it when discover new art but that doesnt look anything like a Michaelangelos work early or late.But its all good to speculate. :)

  3. I can not figure how such a scholar could come up with that conclusion. This does not look like any work of Michelangelo. He drew human figures in different manner. He designed and composed picture differently. Check Michelangelo’s safe attributions and see. Doni Madonna for instance.

  4. Some of it does seem out of character, but then Michelangelo’s abilities didn’t mature overnight, and I doubt we’ve seen all of his works by any means. Many have undoubtedly been lost, and who knows how different they might have been from his mature work?

  5. Not much different. He did not favor painting, and he tried to avoid being engaged in that art form whenever possible. Not because of his lack of ability, mind you, but because he thought that painting is “for indolent folk and women”. Every hour spent with the brush was, in M’s view, hour away from the chisel and stone, since he regarded himself primarily and foremost as the sculptor. If one check M’s early sculpture or the drawings, they could not find too much resemblance to the figures depicted (nor style) in the mentioned painting.

  6. Btw, in regard of the look of the colors after the (Sistine Chapel) restoration, we should not forget that the Sistine is brightly lit with electric light, whilst in M’s times there was only natural light from high windows…and the candles. He had to count with it. Besides, the ceiling is 21 meters high. If a viewer can’t see what is depicted…

  7. Yes, I’m afraid I don’t buy it, especially if Mr. Fahy believes it to be painted a couple of years before the Sistine Chapel. That’s just not the way Michelangelo draws figures (in my opinion, of course).

  8. Yeah. I have a hard time buying the figures myself, particularly if they’re supposed to be within a few years of the chapel frescoes. I don’t have any problem, though, with accepting the idea of a young Michelangelo working in the style of another artist, as in the also recently attributed and equally uncharacteristic Torment of St. Anthony. There must be some characteristics that give weight to the assertion, but I’m no expert and don’t have access to the originals. Maybe there were assistants or another master involved.

    Perhaps the most interesting thing for me is the ongoing process of attribution and reattribution, and the fact that “art history” is constantly being rewritten.

    Other readers may want to check out Paolo Rivera’s comic book art and illustration blog; and, speaking of artists working in the style of another, his wonderful “Persistence of Wolverine” Spider-Man cover.

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