University had master work hung on its wall
Published 09/07/2011 | 05:00
A respected Italian art scholar claims to have identified a previously unknown painting by Michelangelo at the University of Oxford.
Antonio Forcellino, a veteran Italian conservator, made international headlines last month when he backed a wealthy New York family's claim that a painting behind their sofa was by the Renaissance master.
Now Forcellino says new research techniques, applied to a piece owned by Campion Hall, an institution which allows religious scholars to study at Oxford, have revealed it to be an authentic Michelangelo.
'Crucifixion With The Madonna, St John And Two Mourning Angels' was said to be by Marcello Venusti, a contemporary of Michelangelo.
"You can immediately see the difference between this work and that of Venusti," said Mr Forcellino, who used infrared techniques to study layers beneath the finished painting.
"The figure of Christ was in a different league; the modelling was stronger, and the painting and facial expression had a clarity that created the impression of an artist of much greater standing," he wrote.
The hall bought the painting at a Sotheby's auction in the 1930s.
According to the hall's master, Brendan Callaghan, scholars until now had attributed the work to Venusti.
Mr Callaghan said: "If true, the painting would go from being one member of our fine collection to the most exciting part of it. It could not remain within our four walls."
The work is being cared for by Oxford's Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology.