Michelangelo was hosted in the monastery of Santo Spirito in 1492, at the age of seventeen, following the death of his protector, Lorenzo Il Magnifico, who had hosted him during his artistic studies in the enormous family building in via Larga (now Palazzo Medici Riccardi). In this convent, thanks to Piero de’Medici’s intercession and the prior’s permission, he was able to analyze the corpses from the convent hospital to study anatomy, and it is also because of this experience that Michelangelo became one of the most capable of representing the human body in every smallest detail.
The young artist sculpted a wooden crucifix for the prior Niccolò of Lapo Bichiellini, which was placed above the main altar where Albertini saw him around 1510. However, it was lost during the French occupation of the convent at the end of the XVIII century, when the convent was suppressed. In truth, the piece had not been transferred by Santo Spirito, as Margrit Lisner claimed, who rediscovered it in 1962 when documenting the Tuscan crucifixes, under a heavy repainting that affected the shape and character of the work. After all, the work confirmed certain information acquired from ancient sources (such as Condivi, who spoke of a “little less than natural” dimension, or the measures identified by Bottari).
Following quick restoration, it was meant for the Museum of the Buonarroti House, where it stayed until 2000, when it was decided to re-establish it in the Santo Spirito sacristy. Following a 1999 investigation by two doctors, the near resemblance of the crucifix to reality was detected, depicting a youthful fourteen-year-old who had died for a few hours: the deep anatomical study of the body has made the attribution of the wood to the Florentine master even more probable.
Christ is depicted on the crucifixion in absolute nudity, in a suffering position, with his head reclined to the left and his legs bowed and linked, somewhat oriented to the right, resulting in an inventive spin in the serpentine and a clear push upward. This rotation is not a style exercise, but rather a reflection on leg position, with the left leg higher than the right due to foot overlap on the concrete. This also leads to the revolutionary rotation of the pelvis, which makes the buttocks visible when looking from the left and improves the side perspective.
Despite the precise anatomical yield, the model is soft and pays attention to even the smallest details, such as the yield of soft hair and hair. These are extremely distinct traits from the “terribility” and heroism of the artist’s most famous works, yet upon closer investigation, there are numerous parallels with surrounding sculptures. For example, the boss’s shape and position are quite similar to those of the Madonna in the Vatican pity: the same rationale for the twist and push upwards can be found in many of the future masterpieces. Christ’s body is composed but feeble, helpless and delicate in the face of martyrdom and death.
If you are interested to know more about Michelangelo Buonarroti and its life, come to visit the city of Florence with us. we are organizing a free walking tour of Florence. Our expert guide are very happy to show you our city and to answer at your question about Michelangelo and many other artist of Florence. We are starting our Free Tour in Florence from Santa Maria Novella square in front of Minerva Hotel.