Michelangelo in Buffalo?

The Buffalo News is reporting the possibility of a Michelangelo in the city.  It is an unfinished painting of the Virgin Mary and Christ and is owned by a retired airline pilot. The fine is attributed to author Antonio Forcellino, a Michelangelo biographer and art historian, who wrote the new Italian book, "La Pieta Perduta". He is convinced the painting is a true Michelangelo, and it could be worth millions of dollars if authenticated.

The painting is to be restored and the displayed in Italy. No word yet on the authentication process or from other Michelangelo connoisseurs.

The Buffalo News reports

Forcellino spent time in Buffalo examining the painting and several years looking for documentation to authenticate it.

In his book, Forcellino claims the painting was created by Michelangelo in 1545 and was first mentioned in records a year later.

It was offered to an Italian cardinal, found its way to a baron in Croatia and was owned by a German baroness, who passed it to her lady-in-waiting, Gertrude Young. When Young died, the painting remained with her brother-in-law -- Martin's great-grandfather.

While the Renaissance artist is best known for his statue of David and his frescos on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the 25-inch-by-19-inch Pieta would be one of the few surviving Michelangelo oil paintings created on a panel made of wood.

"The first time I saw it, I was so struck by the strength of it that I felt breathless," Forcellino told the newspaper. "Only a genius could have painted this -- the darkness which underscores the suffering, the Virgin who looks as if she's screaming and the figure of Christ after he has been deposed from the cross. It's small, but the technique is extraordinary."

Martin told the Sunday Times he plans to have it restored and displayed at exhibitions in Italy next year. He didn't disclose whether he would sell it.

Since the story ran Sunday, it has been circulating over the Internet on news Web sites worldwide.

"He's an icon of Italian Renaissance art," Charles H. Carman, an associate professor at the University at Buffalo, said of Michelangelo. "People who know very little think of Da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo. He's a huge name."

Carman, whose expertise is Italian Renaissance art, said it's perfectly possible there are Michelangelo paintings yet to be discovered.

"Whether this painting is by Michelangelo, I don't know until I would be able to at least see a photograph," he said.
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