Elisabetta Povoledo’s New York Times story about a disputed Michelangelo sculpture has this interesting interpretation of the purchase and the way it has been displayed:
There’s a decidedly “political strategy behind the operation,” said Tomaso Montanari, an art history professor at the University of Naples, who has written several editorials in newspapers and scholarly journals criticizing the “overblown and unusual” way that the delicately carved 16-inch sculpture — which depicts a young, slender Christ slumped against a now missing cross — has been touted around Italy.
Mr. Montanari is just one of several art experts around the country who have protested the ministry’s actions and have circulated a letter denouncing the government’s “propagandistic use” of the sculpture.
“It struck us that this was little more than a marketing operation to show the country that the Culture Ministry exists,” said Maurizia Migliorini, a professor at the University of Genoa, who helped draft the letter. “But in the meantime the country’s cultural patrimony is in dire need of repair, ministry employees are underpaid, and money is scarce. It was a lot of money to spend for a work of dubious attribution. Perhaps it could have been better spent to restore something or keep a struggling museum open.”
Prosecutors for Italy’s National Audit Office are now looking into the purchase to determine whether the state overpaid for the object, and Renaissance art experts will be asked whether it should be credited to Michelangelo.
Yes, It’s Beautiful, the Italians All Say, but Is It a Michelangelo? (New York Times)