Is It Really by Michelangelo?

There has been some controversy and debate regarding a small wooden crucifix that has been attributed to Michelangelo. This crucifix made its public debut at the end of last year, and was recently bought by the Italian state for $4.2 million.

Like some experts mentioned in this recent article, I’m skeptical that this is an actual work by Michelangelo. Vasari’s biography doesn’t mention anything about the artist making small wooden statues.

I’d be interested in learning more about the people who advised the Italian government to buy this piece. If this statue isn’t by Michelangelo, the Italian state has spent an unnecessary amount of money for this small, but pretty, statue.

  • Emilee . . . says:

    Is it common for countries and states to buy pieces of art, particularly pieces so expensive?

  • M says:

    Often governments will buy art, contribute a couple million dollars to a foundation for art, or use money to encourage people to buy art.

    However, I don’t think there are many examples of so much money going toward a single work of art. It’s surprising that the Italian government paid so much money, especially since there is not a definitive attribution to Michelangelo. I am inclined to believe that there is a “political strategy” and propagandistic agenda attached to this large purchase (as was suggested in the NY Times article).

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This blog focuses on making Western art history accessible and interesting to all types of audiences: art historians, students, and anyone else who is curious about art. Alberti’s Window is maintained by Monica Bowen, an art historian and professor.