Donation of a {Christ on the Cross} of Michelangelo Influence to the Louvre


14/6/13 - Acquisition - Paris, Musée du Louvre - A small Florentine Christ on the Cross (ill. 2), made of wood, most likely linden, which can probably be dated back to around 1500, has been generously donated to the Musée du Louvre by Peter Silvermann and Kathleen Onorato.
The Département des Sculptures however remains cautious concerning the attribution which we can of course understand. The name of Michelangelo was indeed the name given while the work was still in the hands of its collectors. But we know that Peter Silvermann, who owns the famous Belle Princesse which some think is a vellum by Leonardo da Vinci but which others reject, likes big names and has a habit of letting his enthusiasm run away from him...


1. Firenze, circa 1500
Christ on the Cross
Wood - 44.7 x 42 x 9 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : Musée du Louvre

2. Firenze, circa 1500
Christ on the Cross
Wood - 44.7 x 42 x 9 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : C2RMF


A recent example of a rediscovery of a Christ on the Cross (ill. 3) also in linden wood, of almost identical size and very similar aspect, might make us stop and think. This last work was in fact acquired by the Italian State as an authentic Michelangelo for 3.25 million euros, but the matter was subsequently taken to the Court of Auditors in Italy. It seems that this sculpture, today on view at the Bargello, might not be by Michelangelo. This type of crucifix was not rare and this artist not the only one active during this period. We could for example mention the one at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen.


3. Firenza, circa 1500
Christ on the Cross
Basswood - 41.3 x 41.3 cm
Firenze, Museo del Bargello
Photo : D. R.
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : Musée du Louvre


The five specialists who met to examine the Louvre’s wooden crucifix are not unanimous in their opinion, though all admit both its quality and date as well as the influence of Michelangelo. The sign at the Louvre will read : "Florentine artist around 1500, Michelangelo ?".
Just like in the case of the crucifix at the Bargello, which it resembles closely, the comparison which first comes to mind is that of Christ on the Cross at Santo Spirito (ill. 3) which was not attributed to Michelangelo until the 1960’s, an attribution which is generally accepted today by art historians.


4. Michelangelo Buonarroti, called Michelangelo (1475-1564)
Christ on the Cross
Wood
Firenze, Santo Spirito
Photo : Sailko (Creative Commons)


Regardless, - based on the photographs, for we have not yet seen it - this small sculpture, whose original colors have almost entirely disappeared, is undoubtedly of very high quality and the Louvre did not own anything of this category until now. It will be exhibited, following a light restoration, in the Michelangelo gallery which features sculptures of this period.

Version française


Didier Rykner, lundi 17 juin 2013



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