Image: Detail of 'Nude bacchants riding panthers'
The non-matching pair were attributed to Michelangelo when they appeared in the collection of Adolphe de Rothschild in the 19th century. But, since the statues are undocumented and unsigned this attribution was dismissed, over the last 120 years the bronzes have been attributed to various other talented sculptors.
Last Autumn Professor Paul Joannides, Emeritus Professor of Art History at the University of Cambridge, connected the statues to a drawing by one of Michelangelo’s apprentices now in the Musée Fabre, Montpellier, France.
Dr Victoria Avery, Keeper of the Applied Arts Department of the Fitzwilliam Museum, commented: “It has been fantastically exciting to have been able to participate in this ground-breaking project, which has involved input from many art-historians in the UK, Europe and the States, and to draw on evidence from conservation scientists and anatomists. The bronzes are exceptionally powerful and compelling works of art that deserve close-up study – we hope the public will come and examine them for themselves, and engage with this ongoing debate.”
If the attribution is correct, they are the only surviving Michelangelo bronzes in the world.
The statues will now go on display at the Fitzwilliam museum, along with a newly published book ‘A Michelangelo Discovery’.
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