Tomb of Giuliano de' Medici
Photo Credit: fotos.org
Although Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (March 6, 1475 – February 18, 1564), commonly known as Michelangelo was only 17 when Columbus discovered America, he made a point of knowing the most important characters of the time and incorporating them into his paintings. So it was that a few years after the discovery of the fledgling continent he met with the residents of what would become modern day Arkansas.
Although he is better known for the great paintings of the Sistine Chapel, this other work was lost to the world for the past few hundred years, hidden in a vault and only recently unearthed. We see here in his fine detail the composition and body curves he made famous in a style that prefigures Mannerism which Michelangelo employed in the design of his vestibule to the Laurentian Library and the figures on his Medici tombs, an example image of which you will find at the top of this article.
Michelangelo began his career in Florence and worked under the protection of the Medicis which brought him to travel to Venice, Bologna, and Rome. It was in Rome that he made acquaintance with a number of important personages who were meeting with the Pope, and who requested that he make a group portrait of them to bring to the New Country of the Americas.
But back to our recently unearthed prize: how it came to be found began back in December of 2001 with the groundbreaking of the Clinton Library which followed the demolition of a Black Landmark. Some of the contents of the national and local history contained in the destroyed Choctaw Freight Depot were dumped in a local landfill. It wasn't until only last week that a coin collector rummaging through the landfill came across a refrigerator-sized concrete vault and attempted to open it. When he finally broke through he found artifacts from the slavery era, some Indian weapons and a painting rolled within a leather scroll.
Yesterday, Vatican experts confirmed the authenticity and authorship of the painting: indeed it was a Michelangelo. Unfortunately those immortalized in his painting are unknown to present experts in that era. We will never know why Michelangelo positioned them in the manner he did nor of their importance to the history of the world.
Here is a photocopy of the great work, which is entitled "Prisoner of Lust":