November 5, 2023

Michelangelo’s Controversial Charcoal Drawings Revealed in Florence’s Medici Chapel

Michelangelo's Controversial Charcoal Drawings

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In a fascinating discovery, Florence’s Medici Chapel will soon grant limited access to a concealed room housing delicate charcoal drawings on its walls, some of which have been attributed to Michelangelo. Visitors will be allowed in groups of four at a time, unveiling this long-hidden artistic space of Michelangelo’s Controversial Charcoal Drawings.

The secret room, measuring a mere 10 by 3 meters (33 by 10 feet). It was unearthed in 1975, during the quest for a new exit route from the Medici Chapel. The exit route was to accommodate the growing number of visitors. The debate surrounding the authenticity of these sketches continues to this day.

A Rediscovery and Ongoing Debate

Director Paola D’Agostino, noted, “The major scholars of Michelangelo’s drawings dismissed the attributions when first discovered 50 years ago. Others had a more moderate view, suggesting that some could be Michelangelo’s and others could be the work of his followers. Hence, the debate persists.”

The room had served as a coal storage space until 1955. It was sealed and forgotten for decades beneath a trapdoor hidden beneath furniture. Michelangelo’s Controversial Charcoal Drawings remained concealed beneath two layers of plaster.

Unraveling the Hidden Chamber’s Historical Significance and Preservation Challenges

One theory, proposed by former museum director Paolo Dal Poggetto. “Michelangelo took refuge in this confined space to escape the wrath of Pope Clement VII”. During his support for a short-lived republic that overthrew the Medicis. Here, he supposedly sketched studies for his various projects, including what are believed to be sketches of Giuliano de’ Medici’s legs, featured in the New Sacristy near the entrance to the secret room.

Access to this hidden chamber has been restricted for most of the past 50 years, but now, it’s set to be unveiled to the public on a limited basis. The room will be exposed to alternating LED lighting and extended periods of darkness, to safeguard the delicate works.

Starting November 15, up to 100 visitors will be granted weekly access through reservations. Only four individuals permitted at a time, spending a maximum of 15 minutes inside this captivating space.

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