Sculptures Confirmed to Be Works of Famous Italian Artist

Category: Lifestyle/Entertainment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. prominent / ˈprɑː.mə.nənt / (adj) – important and famous

    The artist’s most prominent works are displayed in a museum.

  2. dismiss / dɪˈsmɪs / (v) – to reject something

    The gold statue was dismissed as a fake after the researchers found that it was actually made of bronze.

  3. make headlines / meɪk ˈhed.laɪnz / (idiom) – to be reported on the news

    The private collector made headlines when he sold the painting for $1 million.

  4. contend / kənˈtɛnd / (v) – to claim that something is true

    Despite what critics say, the owner of the painting contended that the artwork is original.

  5. genuine / ˈdʒen.ju.ɪn / (adj) – real

    Genuine works by famous painters can cost millions of dollars each.


Read the text below.

Two bronze sculptures were recently confirmed to be authentic works of Michelangelo [mahy-kuh l-AN-juh-loh].

Michelangelo is considered one of the greatest Italian artists. Two of his most prominent works are The Creation of Adam, which is painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and the statue of David, a well-known marble sculpture in Florence, Italy. Historians wrote that Michelangelo had also made sculptures out of bronze, but no one knew where any of his bronze sculptures were until recently.

This year, a team of researchers headed by the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England, proved that two bronze sculptures known as the Rothschild [RAWTH-chahyld] bronzes were works of Michelangelo. The two sculptures were recognized as Michelangelo’s in 1878, when they were still under the possession of the Rothschild family—one of the richest and most powerful families in the world. However, the sculptures were later dismissed as another artist’s works.

Despite the dismissal, in 2015, the Fitzwilliam Museum made headlines by contending that the bronzes were genuine Michelangelo sculptures. The researchers then invited other specialists to aid them in their research efforts.

After a few years, the researchers found some pieces of evidence that prove that the sculptures are Michelangelo’s works. First, like all of Michelangelo’s sculptures, both works have a short big toe that goes outward and a long second toe. Second, the sculptures have well-defined abdominal muscles, a trait shared by human bodies depicted in Michelangelo’s works.

The two sculptures remain in the possession of a private collector who bought them from the art dealer Sotheby’s in 2002 for $2.3 million. To date, they are the only bronze sculptures of Michelangelo that have ever been identified.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• After identifying the Rothschild bronzes as genuine works of Michelangelo, what do you think should be done to the sculptures (e.g. be kept by the owner, be displayed to the public)?
• What should authorities do to ensure that works by famous artists are in good condition? Discuss.

Discussion B

• If you were to own an original work by any artist, whose work would you like to have? Why?
• If you owned an authentic artwork, would you keep it or sell it? Why?