June 27, 2019

‘Lost’ Michelangelo painting found in Oxford

A Michelangelo or Venusti? There is nothing like an academic cat fight to get scholars in a tizz.

Italian scholar Antonio Forcellino claims a painting hanging on the wall for years in an Oxford University hall is a ‘lost’ painting by Renaissance master Michelangelo.

The painting has now been removed from Campion Hall, the home of the Jesuit academic community in Oxford and sent to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford for safe keeping.

The painting, which depicts the crucifixion of Christ, was always thought to be by Marcello Venusti, but Forcellino said infra-red technology had revealed the true creator of the masterpiece.

In his book The Lost Michelangelos, Forcellino wrote “No-one but Michelangelo could have painted such a masterpiece.”

The master of Campion Hall, Father Brendan Callaghan, said: “It’s a very beautiful piece, but far too valuable to have on our wall any more.”

He said he greeted the development that the work – called Crucifixion With The Madonna, St John And Two Mourning Angels – could be a Michelangelo with “a mixture of excitement and slight concern”.

“Simply having it hanging on our wall wasn’t a good idea,” he explained.

“Its value in the three years I’ve been master has gone up tenfold, even if it’s not by Michelangelo.

“No doubt the art historians will argue the points to and fro.”

The painting was bought by Campion Hall at a Sotheby’s auction in the 1930s.

It is safe to say that not everyone agrees with Antonio Forcellino’s conclusions about the painting, but then academics are never going to agree on everything.