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Wednesday, 18 July, 2001, 08:44 GMT 09:44 UK
Crucifix 'confirmed' as a Michelangelo
crucifix
The cross's origins have been debated for 40 years
A wooden crucifix dating from 1493 is the work of Michelangelo, Italian researchers have reportedly confirmed, ending a debate over the artefact's origins.

Umberto Baldini, director of the cultural division of Italy's National Research Council, said the sculpture matches the Renaissance artist's signature style, Italian news reports said.

Baldini and two experts on human anatomy had carried out a close inspection on the statue, examining the proportions of the body's bones and muscles before concluding it was the work of Michelangelo.

Baldini presented the evidence at a conference on science and technology in Madrid.

'Invertebrate'

The results of his research will be published in the University of Florence's art history journal, Critica d'arte.

The 53.5-inch crucifix, of a nude Christ slumped against the cross, was thought to have been lost before it surfaced in 1962.

At that time it was restored and put in Florence's Casa Buonarrotti Museum, and last December it was returned to Florence's Santo Spirito church.

Some critics said the crucifix lacks the vitality and energy typical of Michelangelo's sculptures, going so far as to call the statue "invertebrate", Italian news reports said.

There had been a debate over the sculpture's origins for almost 40 years.

Anatomy

If it was a Michelangelo, the artist would have completed it when he was 18 years old.

Baldini said Michelangelo enhanced his knowledge of human anatomy by studying the corpses exhumed from the church's cemetery.

The artist "had acquired a minute familiarity with human anatomy, something which consequently granted him an extreme refinement in polishing the wood, to which the pigments added the exalting beauty of life, intensity and mobility", Baldini added.

See also:

11 Jul 01 | Arts
Michelangelo work fetches 5.9m
11 Dec 99 | Europe
Sistine Chapel restored
11 Dec 99 | Europe
In pictures: Sistine glory
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