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U.S. man’s possible Michelangelo on display in Rome

By Korea Herald

Published : Oct. 25, 2011 - 19:27

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BUFFALO, New York (AP) ― A possible 16th-century Michelangelo painting that hung for years in a local family’s home is being displayed in Rome as part of an exhibit of Renaissance art, a development its owner calls a major milestone as he works to have it accepted by the art world.

Scholars disagree on whether “La Pieta With Two Angels” was painted by Michelangelo or by one of his collaborators.

For now, 48-by-63-centimeter work is described as “Michelangelesque” in a show sponsored by the philanthropic Rome Foundation, which transported the painting from the Buffalo area to Rome and funded its restoration over the past six months. It will be one of 170 pieces on display from Tuesday through Feb. 12 as part of “The Renaissance in Rome: A Token to Michelangelo and Raphael.”

The circa 1545 painting, which shows Mary with her arms open over the body of Jesus, whose arms are held by angels, has been restored “to near its original splendor,” said owner Martin Kober, who was in Italy for the opening.

“It’s a major milestone for the painting to be included in an exhibit of this caliber and hang beside generally acknowledged works by Michelangelo, Raphael and other major Renaissance painters,” Kober said.

The painting was the subject of a book, “The Lost Pieta,” by Italian art historian Antonio Forcellino, who’s convinced it’s a Michelangelo. The book was published last year, around the time Kober went public with the family heirloom and his efforts to see it take its place in art history.

For many years, the painting hung at the Kober family home, where it was affectionately known as “The Mike.” Kober, who lives in Tonawanda, north of Buffalo, recalls it deflecting an errant tennis ball when he and his brothers were roughhousing as kids. It eventually was tucked into a leather art portfolio for safekeeping and was stored behind a couch for 25 years after being knocked off the wall while being dusted.