© Rossella Lorenzi
The marble relief. A self portrait by Michelangelo?
A unique marble relief might be the first known self-portrait of Michelangelo, Italian art historians have announced this week.
Belonging to a private collection, the sculpture is a white marble tondo, or circle, about 14 inches in diameter. It depicts a bearded head in three-quarter profile.
"It's a very high-quality sculpture, carved with precision and delicacy. It certainly deserves much attention," Alessandro Vezzosi, director of the Museo Ideale
in the Tuscan town of Vinci, told Discovery News.
The carving was identified as a possible work by Michelangelo back in 1999 by the late James Beck, professor of art history at Columbia University.
In his monograph The Three Worlds of Michelangelo,
Beck called the artwork a "possible Michelangelo self portrait" and dated it to about 1545.
At that time, 70-year-old Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) had already completed masterpieces such as the David
, the Pieta
in the Basilica of St. Peter, the Medici chapels in Florence and the Last Judgement
in the Sistine Chapel.
According to Beck, there was no doubt that the carved face of the old bearded man belonged to Michelangelo.