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'New' Michelangelo work in Rome

Bas-relief of wind god centrepiece of Palazzo Venezia show

21 May, 17:02
'New' Michelangelo work in Rome (ANSA) - Rome, May 21 - A beautiful but little-known sculpture has just made its first appearance as a confirmed Michelangelo work at an exhibition in Rome. The bas-relief carving is one of 35 marble and bronze artworks in a show at Palazzo Venezia paying tribute to Renaissance sculpture, which opened on Friday. The exhibition looks at key artistic developments between the 1460s to the 1520s, leading to the emergence of new trends in sculpture. It focuses on the output of Donatello, Andrea Bregno and Michelangelo, featuring both established works as well as little known pieces, but also includes works by other artists.

The centerpiece of the event is the Michelangelo relief 'Eolo o Vento Marino' depicting the Ancient Greek god of winds, Aeolus.

The work was designed for the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena in Capranica Prenestina, a small town around 60 kilometres east of Rome.

For years scholars had tentatively attributed the sculpture to Michelangelo but until recently had been unable to confirm the creator's identity with any certainty. Now, following several weeks of investigation, a Michelangelo academic has produced definitive evidence of the master's involvement.

Using the church's logs, Stefano Panecuccia tracked every recorded pastoral visit on the part of prominent churchmen over the centuries. Each visit included a detailed inventory of the church's existing assets, along with a description.

Panecuccia discovered that the relief in question was consistently listed as a work created by Michelangelo ever since its first appearance in the early 1500s. The relief was finished in 1520, as part of a major restoration project at the church ordered by the local lord, Girolamo Capranica. Panecuccia's research further confirmed that Michelangelo was brought on board thanks to the impression he made on Capranica's wife, Marta Porcari, in the course of a previous project. Marta's uncle commissioned one of Michelangelo's most famous works, the Risen Christ, in order to adorn an altar Marta had previously donated to Rome's Santa Maria sopra Minerva Church. Michelangelo apparently chose Aeolus to signify the breath of new life and the town's rebirth thanks to Capranica's renovation. Although the Michelangelo sculpture is the focus of attention, the exhibition contains many stunning works. Other pieces expected to thrill visitors are a large-scale horse head by Donatello and a rarely loaned collection of 14th-century sculpture by Mino da Fiesole and Giovanni Dalmata from the Vatican.

'La Forma del Rinascimento' (The Shape of the Renaissance) runs at Palazzo Venezia until September 5.

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