Rothschild Bronzes

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The Rothschild Bronzes are a pair of 16th century sculptures, each depicting a naked man riding a panther, which have been attributed to Michelangelo.


The bronzes were formerly the property of Baron Adolphe de Rothschild and were exhibited in 1878 as the work of Michelangelo, although this attribution was disputed at the time. When his heir Maurice de Rothschild died in 1957, they were purchased by a French private collector. Over the years, the sculptures have been attributed to other artists, including Tiziano Aspetti, Jacopo Sansovino and Benvenuto Cellini, or their respective circles. In 2002, they were again sold, to a British collector, with a loose attribution to Cellini. In 2012, they were exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts as being from the circle of Michelangelo, although experts declined to attribute them directly to him.[1][2]

In February 2015, a team of experts from Cambridge attributed the statues to Michelangelo. This was based on their similarity to a detail in a drawing by one of Michelangelo's students, held at the Musée Fabre in Montpellier, their similarity in technique to other works by Michelangelo and a neutron scan, conducted in Switzerland, which dated the bronzes to the first decade of the 16th century. The possibility that they might be by Michelangelo excited experts, particularly given that no other Michelangelo bronzes are known to have survived.[1] However, the attribution is not yet considered certain, and research continues.[3]


  1. ^ a b Brown, Mark (2 Feb 2015). "Michelangelo's bronze panther-riders revealed after 'Renaissance whodunnit'". The Guardian. 
  2. ^ "The story of the bronze riders". The Economist (Prospero blog). 2 February 2015. 
  3. ^ "Bronze sculptures 'may be by Michelangelo'". BBC News. 2 February 2015. 

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