Scholars in Britain say new evidence has emerged that two nude male bronzes attributed to other sculptors may be the work of Michelangelo.
Experts from the Fitzwilliam Museum and the University of Cambridge say the evidence suggests the figures riding panthers were made after Michelangelo completed the marble David and as he was about to embark on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
Michelangelo’s fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and his marble sculpture of David are among the most famous works in the history of art, rivaled only by that of Leonardo da Vinci. So it was one of the greatest frustrations among Renaissance scholars that all of his recorded bronzes had been melted down — and in one case recast as a cannon.
There will, therefore, be considerable excitement today when experts at the University of Cambridge declare Michelangelo to be the sculptor of not one, but two statues of triumphant men riding panthers. Both are owned by an anonymous collector.
The museum says in a statement Monday that if the attribution is correct, the sculptures would be the only surviving Michelangelo bronzes in the world.
The sculptures were previously attributed to Michelangelo when they appeared in Adolphe de Rothschild’s collection in the 19th century. But they were unsigned and this attribution was dismissed.
Scholars re-examined them after they were included in the 2012 Royal Academy of Arts bronze exhibition.
A number of his works in painting, sculpture, and architecture rank among the most famous in existence.
His outp ut in every field during his long life was prodigious; when the sheer volume of correspondence, sketches, and reminiscences that survive is also taken into account, he is the best-documented artist of the 16th century.
Two of his best-known works, the Pietà and David, were sculpted before he turned thirty. Despite his low opinion of painting, Michelangelo also created two of the most influential works in fresco in the history of Western art: the scenes from Genesis on the ceiling and The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
As an architect, Michelangelo pioneered the Mannerist style at the Laurentian Library. At the age of 74 he succeeded Antonio da Sangallo the Younger as the architect of St. Peter’s Basilica. Michelangelo transformed the plan, the western end being finished to Michelangelo’s design, the dome being completed after his death with some modification.