Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sorry...but this is not by Michelangelo

An article published in The Independent yesterday describes how a highly respected Italian art scholar and leading world scholar on Michelangelo has concluded that a painting entitled Crucifixion with the Madonna, St John and Two Mourning Angels and until now attributed to Marcello Venusti, is in fact by Michelangelo. The art scholar is reported to have have said, “no one but Michelangelo could have painted such a masterpiece”.

The painting is owned by Campion Hall and is on loan to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

More significantly, the scholar is reported to have said, “You can immediately see the difference between this work and that of Venusti”.

Well, I do not agree. I would put it like this: One can immediately see the difference between this work and the work of Michelangelo. From which I conclude that the work in question is not by Michelangelo.

I hasten to point out that I am not, and do not consider myself to be, an expert on art, or on Michelangelo; I am not an art historian nor an expert in dating works of art. That said, the Venusti work seems to be - by the simplest of tests I know, the vision test - not to be by Michelangelo.

Look at the work carefully, and consider the following. First of all, the body of Christ departs significantly from the vigour that Michelangelo imparted to human figures. The face is even more lacking in vigour, determination and resigned acceptance of fate. The sagging breasts are not the sort of thing that Michelangelo, I think, would have invested a vigorous Christ with.

Next look at the vacuous look on the face of St. John. Could Michelangelo really have done this? Compare that vacuous look with any of the figures he painted for the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and note the difference. Much the same can be said of the vacuous look on the angel to the right.

Now look at the clouds above the cross – or is it some kind of halo?. They are symmetrically disposed – almost in total symmetry on both sides. It seems to me very unlikely that Michelangelo (going by his other works) would have done this.

Hence, all told, my brain – by comparing the Venusti with the works of the mighty Michelangelo – has come to the conclusion that this painting is not by Michelanglo at all.

I respect the authority of the scholars in this matter; but in this instance I believe that my brain’s judgment is more reliable – at least to me.


Coxsoft Art said...

I'm sure you're right. I also thought this painting was hopeless as a Michelangelo. I did a modicum of research and found that the original Michelangelo drawing was a gift for a friend, not a preparatory drawing for a painting by the master. Visit my blog for more details:

S.Z. said...

Thanks for your comments and for your interesting blog showing the drawings and the paintings.