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The unsigned bronzes were purchased by the Rothschilds in 1878 as being by Michelangelo. However, since then, they have been re-attributed to several Renaissance sculptors including Benvenuto Cellini and Jacopo Sansovino. Prof Paul Joannides (Emeritus Professor of History of Art, Cambridge University) and Dr Vicky Avery (Keeper, Applied Arts, Fitzwilliam) compared the Rothschild bronzes with autograph works by these sculptors and concluded that they could not have been made by them, as they were stylistically very different. Wishing to reconsider the earliest attribution, they reviewed Michelangelo’s entire output, and found many similarities in his drawings, paintings and sculptures, as well as copies of lost works by his followers. In their opinion, the Rothschild bronzes are most similar to works made by Michelangelo c. 1506-1508, when he was at the height of his creative skills, made between the marble David, and the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Their conclusions are reinforced by technical evidence and anatomical evidence.

Prof Paul Joannides and Dr Vicky Avery discussing the Rothschild Bronzes with Dr Frits Scholten (Senior Curator of Sculpture, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, and Chair in the History of Art, Amsterdam Free University)