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Was it Michelangelo? Why a piece of 16th century street art in Florence is triggering fresh excitement

 Recent findings by US-based art historian Adriano Marinazzo suggest that the graffiti of a curly haired man near the front door of Palazzo Vecchio, the historic town hall in Florence, was created by the Renaissance artist Michelangelo. What is the significance of his findings, and what are the sceptics saying?

Marinazzo’s analysis

In September, Marinazzo, curator and historian at Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, published a paper in the Italian journal ‘Art e Dossier’, in which he pointed out that a drawing in Michelangelo’s Louvre archive bears resemblance to the carrved portrait in Palazzo Vecchio, suggesting that the latter might also be a work of the master.

Marinazzo has proposed that the Palazzo Vecchio graffiti carving was possibly created in 1504, when Michelangelo was in Florence for the installation of his famed marble sculpture of David.

The drawing at the Louvre dates to the same period. It is also accompanied by a short note near the margin by Michelangelo stating, “Chi dire mai chella fosse di mia mano? (Who would ever say that it was by my hand?)” ­čôú Click to follow Express Explained on Telegram

Marinazzo believes that the artist was perhaps referring to the portrait on the street. The curator was working on a book and exhibition related to the Sistine Chapel ceiling, painted by Michelangelo, when he drew the analysis.

The man in the carving

While some believe the portrait is of a man who was to be executed, Marinazzo has proposed that it might be the portrait of Renaissance painter Francesco Granacci. A friend of Michelangelo’s, Granacci was also on the committee — along with the polymath Leonardo da Vinci and painter Sandro Botticelli — that approved the placement of David. Michelangelo (1475-1564) was in his late 20s at the time, and had already built a formidable reputation.

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Lore and the scepticism

Tourist guides in Florence have in fact attributed the street artwork, titled ‘L’Importuno di Michelangelo’, to Michelangelo for years. But sceptics argue that it probably does not belong to the famous artist, as it is not what they identify as his style.

Recent years have also seen the detection of other works attributed to Michelangelo. In 2014, Marinazzo claimed to have found Michelangelo’s first sketch of the Sistine Chapel when he was studying the master’s sketches in archival papers at the Buonarroti Archives in Florence.


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