Marty Kober, owner of a 500-year-old tempera painting, has spent the better part of 15 years trying to prove the panel is, in fact, a long-lost work by Renaissance genius Michelangelo. Where does he stand in 2017?
In 2011, Italian scholar and art historian Antonio Forcellino published The Lost Michelangelos — a book that details the discovery of two lost paintings that are believed to have been executed by Michelangelo. “Through a combination of careful historical research, extensive restoration and meticulous radiographic analysis, Forcellino shows that these paintings can be traced back to the studio of Michelangelo,” Polity Press suggests. “The extraordinary story calls into question the received view of Michelangelo’s work and fills in a missing piece in our understanding of one of the greatest artists of all time.”
One of these paintings, which shows a deceased Christ slumped in the lap of the Virgin flanked by two angels, belongs to Marty Kober of Rochester, New York. In fact, the painting had hung over the Kober family’s mantel for years before its owner resolved to protect the painting and investigate its history.
Unfortunately, many American experts refused to look at the painting, leading Kober to travel to Italy for restoration and investigation. “What we noticed is there are multiple changes from the underdrawings to the painting phase; a copyist would never do that,” Kober suggested. “The tempera, the layering, and the pigments are virtually the same.”
Kober has also said he has found documentation that suggests the painting was a gift from Michelangelo to one of his closest friends. Other documents supposedly trace ownership from her all the way to Kober’s great-great-grandfather’s sister-in-law.
Some art historians are convinced, including Dr. William Wallace, art history professor at Washington University and a leading authority on Michelangelo. Wallace believes the work at least comes from the master’s inner circle, even if not executed by Michelangelo himself. He says, “There’s no scientific way to determine this — it’s a matter of opinion, of numerous numbers of scholars over time, and unfortunately we just have to wait.”
Kober added, “Yeah, I’m that guy that just won’t go away — we have great institutions, the best equipment. They can look at this all over again and when you assemble all of that, the documents, the painting itself, it only can point to one thing — the great artist of all time, Michelangelo, made this.”
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