One of Michelangelo‘s most important early works, the 53-inch wooden Crucifix has now returned to its rightful place, the Basilica of Santo Spirito in Florence.
After a one-year absence and a tour between Naples and Turin, the Crucifix will be finally on display above the old Sacristy, by the west aisle of the church.
Michelangelo sculpted the nude Jesus at 18, when he was living in the Basilica of Santo Spirito with the Augustine monks.
After the death of Lorenzo de Medici, the monks hosted him and let Michelangelo acquire familiarity with human anatomy by studying the corpses from the church’s hospital. To show his gratitude, Michelangelo carved this Crucifix for their high altar around 1492.
But this stunning masterpiece was thought to have been lost for decades before it was discovered by chance in 1962, in a convent corridor. It was so badly overpainted that it was barely recognisable as one of Michelangelo’s artworks.
Once restored it was on display in Florence’s Casa Buonarroti and in 2001 it was attested to be an authentic artwork of Michelangelo by Umberto Baldini, the director of the Department of Social Science, Humanities and Cultural Heritage of Italy’s National Research Council.
Together with two experts on human anatomy, Baldini carried out a close inspection on the sculpture, examining the proportions of the body before confirming it was one of Michelangelo’s masterpieces.
The later restoration and cleaning works were performed thanks to a donation made by The Friends of Florence, a non-profit group, who helped arrange the return of the Crucifix to the Basilica it was originally created for and thanks to the supervision of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure Institute.
Its new setting in Santo Spirito, suspended above the church’s old Sacristy, is an homage to Michelangelo’s artistic prominence and allows visitors to appreciate his artwork from every angles and to see it straight from inside the church , creating a dialogue between the masterpiece and the public.
BASILICA OF SANTO SPIRITO
Museum tour (cloister, refectory, chapter house, sacristy with Crucifix by Michelangelo)
- Monday to Saturday 10:00 to 6:00 p.m.
- Sundays and religious holidays 14:00 to 18:00
- Last admission 30 minutes before closing time.
- Weekdays from 9.30 to 12.30 and from 16.00 to 17.30
- Public Holidays from 11.30 to 12.30 and from 16.00 to 17.30
Closed on Wednesday