A Crucifix attributed to Michelangelo acquired for the Bargello

Ascribed to Michelangelo (1475-1564)
Crucifix, c. 1495
Wood - 41.3 x 41.3 cm
Florence, Museo del Bargello
Photo : All Rights Reserved

11/1/09 – Acquisition – Florence, Museo del Bargello – The Italian government recently acquired for the Museo del Bargello in Florence a Crucifix in linden-tree wood attributed to Michelangelo (ill.), with a provenance from an unidentified Florentine family. This attribution, which seems to be accepted by most specialists, is based only on stylistic criteria as the sculpture is not documented. The only work in wood by Michelangelo to be known today is also a Christ on the Cross, of much bigger size (139 cm.), executed for the church of Santo Spirito in Florence where it is still held. It was rediscovered in 1962 and its attribution has at times come into doubt.

The newly acquired crucifix had been exhibited in 2004 by its owner, the antique dealer Giancarlo Gallino, who had bought it about fifteen years earlier [1]. Despite his wish to obtain 18 million euros for it, the work was sold for only 3.25 [2] due to its export ban from Italy which prevented its sale on the international market. The Crucifix will be on display in Rome, at the Chamber of Deputies, Palazzo Montecitorio, until January 23. In accordance with the latest art policy in Italy, there is no doubt that it will be used as a bargaining chip by the new head of Italian Museums, Mario Resca (see []). In the meanwhile, according to Sandro Bondi, Minister of Cultural Affairs, the work will probably be lent to the National Gallery in Washington to “pay tribute to the new American president Barak Obama” [sic].

Version française

Didier Rykner, dimanche 11 janvier 2009


[1] See the catalogue : Giancarlo Gentilini (ed.), Proposta per Michelangelo giovane. Un Crocifisso in legno di tiglio, 2004, Alemandi.

[2] Vittorio Sgarbi is said to have stated : “a Michelangelo for the price of a Sansovino”, quoted by Ansa.it, on 23 December 2008

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