Please, Mind the Michelangelo

The artwork gracing the walls in Jesuit communities is often restricted to framed posters of famous paintings: Caravaggio's "Supper at Emmaus" presides over the dining room, perhaps a copy of Henry Ossawa Tanner's "The Annunciation" in the chapel.

It seems that may not be the case at Campion Hall, the Jesuit community at the University of Oxford. Italian art conservator Antonio Forcellino claims to have discovered a "Lost Michelangelo" that hung anonymously in the Jesuit residence for decades.  Originally thought to be the work of Marcello Venusti, Forcellino claims that "No-one but Michelangelo could have painted such a masterpiece."

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The superior of Campion Hall, Brendan Callaghan, SJ, remarked to the BBC that "simply having it hanging on our wall wasn't a good idea."  If Forcellino is correct about the painting's origins, that may prove to be quite an understatement!

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William Logan
7 years 1 month ago
For an engaging account of a similar story, I recommend the book The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr (2005). It recounts the discovery of Caravaggio's ''The Taking of Christ'' in a Jesuit rectory in Dublin. Perhaps there are more hidden masterpieces in other Jesuit communities!

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