The "Discovery" of Michelangelo’s Drawings : a Fake Scoop


Michelangelo Buonarroti, known as Michelangelo (1475-1564)
Detail of drawings (known since 1975)
in the room (open to the public in the 1980’s)
under the New Sacristy in San Lorenzo, Firenze
Photo : Claudio Giovannini/AFP

12/6/13 - Fake scoop - Michelangelo - It had been a while since the public was flabbergasted by another earth-shattering scoop concerning an artistic genius.

Now we learn (see here or here) that drawings "never shown", even "unpublished", by Michelangelo were revealed to the press in Italy ; these drawings cover the walls of a "secret room under a Medici chapel in the basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence."
For once, the author of the work is correctly identified : these drawings are indeed by Michelangelo. But unless we travel back forty years in a time capsule, this is anything but an unpublished discovery.
These articles point out that the item in question was found in 1975, which is exact. When reading more closely, we see that the findings had been hidden, not only to specialists of the artist but also to the general public. However, the author of these lines had gone down to this room and seen the drawings as a simple tourist about thirty years ago. The Guide Bleu of Northern and Central Italy, dated 1982, in fact explains : "Work carried out in 1975 in the basementof the New Sacristy revealed the presence of an underground gallery whose existence was previously unknown where the walls and ceilings are decorated with drawings which have been attributed to Michelangelo (visit in small groups - inquire at entrance)."

No doubt due to the growing number of tourists, the possibility of visiting the room was suspended (and is supposed to remain that way). But pretending that these drawings are a new discovery is totally ridiculous and simply a ploy to sell paper (or a computer click). The curator of the monument, Monica Bietti, may have wished to get some free publicity by summoning the press [1] but this should not have prevented her from doing her work and at the very least check the information given her.
Next April Fool’s day, The Art Tribune will reveal the discovery of an unknown chapel at the Vatican where visitors can see a large Last Judgement and a painted ceiling with Sibyls and even God the Father creating Adam (it is apparently attributed to Michelangelo)...

Version française


Didier Rykner, jeudi 13 juin 2013


Notes

[1] In fact, when consulting Italian newspapers, it becomes obvious that the subject of this presentation was the installation of an audio-visual device to look at the works. Only a part of the French media interpreted it as the discovery of unpublished drawings...(this update was added after the publication of our article).



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