The Bronze Effigy of Michelangelo by Daniele da Volterra

Exhibition project by Cecilie Hollberg

This exhibition will be the first to display all of the early exemplars of bronze portraits of Michelangelo attributed to Daniele da Volterra, exploring the complex relationship between originals, replicas and derivations.

The problem of the authorship of the bronze portraits of Michelangelo has long vexed art historians: with the exception of the Casa Buonarroti bust in Florence, which remained in the hands of his heirs for centuries, there is significant uncertainty surrounding the authorship and provenance of the numerous exemplars found in different Italian and foreign collections. The recent restoration of the exemplar in the collection of the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze made it possible to identify the second of the three originals cast by Daniele da Volterra in 1565 and to revise a few attributions that were considered secure until a few years ago.

The exhibition will offer a unique opportunity to compare the works close up and assess their respective aesthetic and technical merits, in part through technologically innovative research using 3D scanning: the digitisation of the forms and surfaces of the works will make it possible to create virtual models, useful for comparing the volumes of the different pieces, which we will be able to juxtapose and overlap on the screen, in search of possible casts or shared models and to distinguish originals from later replicas.

The main scope of the exhibition will be to produce the first scientific catalogue of the bronze busts attributable to Daniele da Volterra. The catalogue will include the research carried out thus far and the results of the diagnostic studies, providing an indispensable tool for research in this area and knowledge of Daniele da Volterra’s bronze casting techniques. We also hope to create a precise map of the “tradition” of busts of Michelangelo, identifying, insofar as possible, the author, provenance and features of the different reproductions.

This highly scientific initiative hopes to involve the leading experts in the field of 16th-century bronze sculpture and art, gathering them together for a study day organised in connection with the exhibition.



February 15, 2022
June 19, 2022

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