Feud Rekindled Over Long-Lost 'Michelangelo'
New theory traces history of restored 'San Giovannino'
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jul 1, 2013 9:08 AM CDT
Updated Jul 1, 2013 9:30 AM CDT
A portrait of Michelangelo.   (Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – In 1930, a Spanish historian suggested a sculpture of St. John the Baptist was the work of Michelangelo—a long-lost piece said to have been created in the late 15th century. Since then, nearly every expert has dismissed the theory, and the statue was shattered into 14 pieces during the Spanish Civil War, the New York Times reports. But at a conference last week, an art scholar once again made the case that the restored sculpture, known as San Giovannino, was in fact the missing Michelangelo, and while its owner seems to believe the case is settled, the debate is once again alive.

"We have a Michelangelo," says Spain's Duke of Segorbe. "This is a dream come true, and the end of a very, very long story." The scholar says the piece bears a likeness to other Michelangelo works, and he offered a possible history of the work: It was inherited by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, who had ties to the Andalusian secretary of the Holy Roman Emperor. Letters show that the Grand Duke sent a statue to the secretary, Francisco de los Cobos y Molina, and it ended up in the chapel where Cobos was buried—where it remained for centuries. In 1994 it was sent to a Florentine preservation institute that has painstakingly worked to reconstruct it, in a process that took close to two decades. The Times has a photo of the piece.

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Jul 1, 2013 6:09 PM CDT
P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } Bosda's statement demonstrates the frankly depraved attitude so many have toward art. Bosda says that, if the statue turns out to be Michelangelo's, then “it is valuable in a fashion money cannot measure”. Meaning, if it isn't a Michelangelo, then it's worth only what it can get as scrap? Being made by Michelangelo automatically makes it imbued with quality and depth and spirit that it won't have if it wasn't made by Michelangelo? If being made by Michelangelo automatically imbues a piece with such overarching quality and value, how come they can't tell just looking at it if it's by Michelangelo? Isn't that depth, the quality that “value” there yet? Only if a certificate says it's by Michelangelo will it suddenly be found to possess those valuable qualities? The expression, the composition, the framing, the form, the workmanship that are there now will be momentous if it's attributed to Michaelangelo and forgettable if it isn't? In “The Ten Commandments”, Charlton Heston depicts Moses opining that he's “the same man” when he's revealed to be an Israelite and not an Egyptian. It will be the same statue if it's declared to be by Michelangelo or not? Why will it be so inspiring and lofty in one case, but not the other? In 1996, a statue of a young boy in the former Payne Whitney house in New York, then acting as offices for the French Embassy, we revealed to be by Michelangelo. A century's worth of people had gone past the statue and no one noticed it. The New York Times said most seemed to view it as “a throwback to turn-of-the-century taste”. After ward, this “throwback” was suddenly greeted by all as “unmistakably” by Michelangelo! Similarly, in 2010, Rick Norsigian supposedly found a collection of Anselm Adams negatives in a garage sale which, it is claimed, could be valued at $200 million. But, first, extensive work had to be done to verify it? So the negatives would have $200 million worth of value only if certified to be from Adams! If not, the very same images would have nowhere near that value! Bosda may have thought their doggerel was a paean to spirit, but it was just the mark of a dull witted philistine.
Jul 1, 2013 11:49 AM CDT
If true, is is valuable in a fashion money cannot measure.