Michelangelo's Only Remaining Bronze Sculptures Possibly Identified

Wed, 02/04/2015 - 00:00
Michelangelo's bronze riders

Two bronze sculptures on display at Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum could be the work of Michelangelo. If the attribution is confirmed, they would be the only existing bronzes made by the Renaissance genius.

A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge claims that the two one-meter-high sculptures, depicting two naked men, one young, the other older, both riding triumphantly a panther, are by Michelangelo, and were probably made after he completed David and just before he began painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling – between 1506 and 1508, researchers say.

The two statues went on display this week. They had so far been part of the Rothschild collection.

The attribution of these sculptures to Michelangelo actually goes back to the 19th century, but it had always been questioned until  Paul Joannides, professor of art history at Cambridge University, discovered a tiny detail in a drawing by an apprentice of Michelangelo: a muscular young man riding a panther in a similar pose to that of the sculptures.

A neutron scan placed the bronzes in the first decade of the 16th century. Researchers also pointed out how Michelangelo’s nudes on the Sistine Chapel are very similar to the bronzes.

Further research is under way and the conclusions will be presented in July.

The bronzes will be on display at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge until August 9.