What may be one of the most wonderful discoveries of the past hundred years in Art History was found not in desert sands or buried deep in museum archives, but rather behind a couch in the modest home of a family in Buffalo, New York.
A painting that thus far only family lore attributed to Michelanglo was rediscovered tucked behind the living room couch, placed there after an errant tennis ball hit the painting in the 1970s. But now the painting, referred to as “Mike” by the family, has experts calling it genuine as well. Michelangelo was not a hugely prolific painter, despite his Sistine Chapel, instead, the artist preferred to work with sculpture, saying that it was his job to free the form from the stone.
The painting is a Pieta, or Mary holding the body of Christ. The work was left incomplete and infrared scanners show that Michelangelo reworked the canvas several times. So how did a Michelangelo make its way to a Buffalo suburb?
“History, points to the work being done by Michelangelo around 1545 for his friend Vittoria Colonna. The Pieta painting was passed to two Catholic cardinals, eventually ending up in the hands of a German baroness named Villani. The work ended up in the Kober family (the current Buffalo owners) after Villani willed it to her lady-in-waiting Gertrude Young. Young was the sister-in-law of Kober’s great-grandfather and she sent the work to America in 1883, according to an account by Kober.”
The painting is now out from behind the couch and in a vault, where it could be worth over $20 million.