Does the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York have a painting by Michelangelo and not know it?
“Saint John the Baptist Bearing Witness” (about 1510), pictured above, is attributed to the workshop of Francesco Granacci, a noted Renaissance-era painter from Florence. But an article this month in ARTnews magazine suggests that the real creator of the artwork is none other than Michelangelo.
The article’s primary source is Everett Fahy, the former head of the Met’s European paintings department who stepped down from his position last June. “I am confident that the only artist capable of making this splendid painting was Michelangelo,” Fahy told the magazine’s editor and publisher, Milton Esterow.
Fahy said he believes Michelangelo created the painting in 1506, two years before he started work on the Sistine Chapel. For his research, Fahy said he was assisted by the Met’s paintings conservation department, which made infrared images of the painting to examine the artist’s drawings beneath the paint.
“I had long believed it to be by Michelangelo, but exactly when I don’t know,” Fahy told the magazine. “There wasn’t a moment when I suddenly said, ‘This is absolutely by Michelangelo.’ It was a gradual recognition.”
According to the Met’s website, the painting was acquired by the museum in 1970 using funds from a variety of donors. The oil painting is approximately 30 inches tall and 7 feet wide. ARTnews reports that the museum bought the painting at Sotheby’s in London for $150,000.
Fahy’s findings will be published in a 65-page article that is set to appear in the Italian scholarly journal Nuovi Studi.
You can read the entire ARTnews article here.