Oxford: a painting by Michelangelo indentified?

For your Just Too Cool file, comes this from CNS:

Jesuits at Oxford find painting believed to be by Michelangelo

A painting of Christ’s crucifixion believed to be the work of Michelangelo has been hanging in the residence of a small Jesuit community at Oxford for more than 70 years.

Purchased at auction by the Campion Hall community in the 1930s, the painting was believed to be the work of Marcello Venusti, one of Michelangelo’s 16th-century contemporaries. But recent tests revealed that the work was indeed created by the Renaissance painter, reports  the National Jesuit News.

The discovery was made by historian and conservationist Antonio Forcellino, who used infrared technology to uncover who he believes is the true creator of the painting.

BBC News reported that the residents were both excited and concerned by the find — excited because they had something very special in their midst, but also concerned that the piece was too valuable to continue hanging on a wall in their residence.

So the work of art has been removed and sent to the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology at Oxford University for safekeeping, according to the Jesuits.

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  1. JordanH says:

    I wonder what kind of test can prove that it was Michaelangelo and not his student. Did the infrared reveal something distinctive in the brush strokes?

  2. John Murray says:

    Lucky Jesuits! This is reminiscent of a discovery in the early 1990s. A Jesuit community in Dublin decided to get an old painting, “The Taking of Christ,” cleaned. It had been given to them as a copy of a Caravaggio painting by Gerrit van Honthorst, but analysis after the cleaning indicated that it really was a Caravaggio. In this case, part of the re-attribution involved tracing its provenance back to the Roman family whose commission appeared in Caravaggio’s notebooks.

  3. Elizabeth D says:

    This is wonderful. Hopefully it will attract people to the museum to see it and be interested in Christian art and reflect on Whom is depicted.

  4. JKnott says:

    It is difficult to judge from a small picture, but somehow this does not look like a Michaelangelo IMHO.. The figure of Christ looks resembles an old wrinkled man and the placement of the women in the composition are awkward and out of proportion. The cast of the meaning is far from the Pieta to me. Is this the same Mary of the Pieta …. or the same Jesus?

  5. RichardT says:

    … or is this just being talked up by the Jesuits so that they can sell the painting for a good price?

  6. AnAmericanMother says:

    I agree that the layout of this painting is not very Michelangelo-ish — it looks a little squished. That may be a function of the original size of the painting, if it’s small, or it may have been trimmed to fit somewhere at some time in the past.

    However, the torsion in Christ’s body is characteristic, as is the handling of the women’s draperies (and their poses). There are many very similar Crucifixions (including preparatory sketches) that have been attributed to Michelangelo all along – scroll along here: http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=michelangelo+crucifixion&view=detail&id=5E85AF902FBC10F6284E5100D6E4435D6856FFC8&first=0&qpvt=michelangelo+crucifixion&FORM=IDFRI
    The infrared study of brushstrokes is only a piece of the puzzle.
    That said, all artists and writers have things that they wish they had thrown in the wastepaper basket, or did actually toss there but were intercepted by collectors and fans.

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