The Lost Michelangelos
April 2011, Polity
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This book tells the remarkable story of a rare discovery: the uncovering of two lost paintings by the great Renaissance artist Michelangelo.
Like many stories of artistic loss, this one begins in a library in Italy, where Antonio Forcellino - a distinguished Michelangelo scholar and restorer - stumbled across some unpublished letters among the papers of Cardinal Ercole Gonzaga, son of Isabella d’Este and an extremely important figure in the Italian Renaissance. These letters comment on the paintings of Michelangelo in a way that is completely at odds with what was to become the dominant critical tradition of Michelangelo scholarship, an inconsistency that set Forcellino off on a journey that took him to Dubrovnik, Oxford, New York and Niagara Falls and culminated in the discovery of two magnificent paintings: Pieta with Mary and Two Angels, now in a private collection in America, and Cavalieri Crucifixion, now held by an educational institution in England. Through a combination of careful historical research, extensive restoration and meticulous radiographic analysis, Forcellino shows convincingly that these paintings can be traced back to the studio of Michelangelo.
This extraordinary story, brilliantly retold, calls into question the received view of Michelangelo’s work and fills in a missing piece in our understanding of one of the greatest artists of all time.