February 7th, 2015| Topic: RaMbLeS | 0


A spectacular find. Sensational, indeed. “Bacchants Riding on Panthers.”

Scholars from Cambridge have pronounced that the rather mysterious, paired, three-foot tall Rothschild Bronzes are actually works of Michelangelo (1475– 1564), making them the only surviving bronzes by the Renaissance maestro, arguably the best sculptor, ever, in marble. Now … bronze!

Victoria Avery, from Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum said:

The project to attribute the bronzes, involving a team of experts from different fields, had been like a Renaissance whodunnit.”

The bronzes in question are a pair of virile and naked men riding gleefully on two rather fierce-looking panthers.

The provenance of these sculptures is as intriguing as their recent attribution. They are named after their first formal owner, Baron Adolphe de Rothschild, a scion of the banking industry Rothschilds. One of his ancestors likely purchased them from a king of Naples who had a vast collection of Bourbon art treasures. When Maurice de Rothschild, one of Adolphe’s descendants, died in 1957, the bronzes found their way into a private collection in France. In 2002, they were brought by the current unnamed British owner. That’s when eyes and ears of Sotheby’s experts lit up and pricked up (respectively). Most thought these works by Cellini. But over the decade of their being exhibited at various places, including the magnificent Frick Collection in New York City, experts recognized them as “Michelangelesque.”

But it was only when Paul Joannides, professor of art history at Cambridge, was recently approached by the owner of the bronzes for an appraisal that things began to click. The figure reminded Joannides of a drawing by an apprentice of Michelangelo—the drawing is in the Musée Fabre in Montpellier, France—in the corner of which is a muscular youth astride a panther in a strikingly similar pose as the gentlemen in the bronzes of interest. Evidence of design!

The male subjects’ anatomy is precise. Clinical anatomist Professor Peter Abrahams, from the University of Warwick, described them as textbook-perfect Michelangelo, from the six packs to the belly buttons! Evidence of design!

Their poses are characteristic. Michelangelo’s other nudes in the Sistine Chapel are clearly similar to the ones in our item. Evidence of design!

Neutron scanning timed them to have originated in the first decade of the 16th century, probably between 1506 and 1508, right after Michelangelo completed David, and just as he was embarking on the Sistine Chapel project. He was in his early 30s.


They are clearly masterpieces. The modeling is superb, they are so powerful and so compelling, so whoever made them had to be superb.”

What exhilarating joy, to be part of the discovery of design! Declared Avery:

It has been a huge privilege to be involved, very exciting and great fun.”

God did that, too. Left traces of his handiwork all around.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes,
His eternal power and divine nature,
have been clearly seen,
being understood through what has been made ….
Romans 1:20

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
Psalm 19:1

The Maestro unlike any other. The Creator without equal.

“To whom then will you liken Me That I would be his equal?” says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,
Not one of them is missing.
Isaiah 40:25–26

He is there. For all who would see.

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