Wooden figure of Jesus Christ is not work of Michelangelo, art historians say

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The 41cm long figure, named Cristo Ritrovato (Christ Refound) was bought late last year from a private collection and since then has been on a marathon tour of the country.

It started in Rome where among those to admire it were Pope Benedict XVI and various senior government officials and has also been displayed in Milan, Trapani, Palermo and is currently on show in Naples.

More than 60,000 people have seen the sculpture but there is a growing concern within the Italian artworld that it was not created from the hand of the Renaissance master Michelangelo Buonarroti.

When it was presented last December among those to vouch for its authenticity were Italy's ambassador to the Holy See Antonio Zanardi Landi and Professor Antonio Paolucci, art historian and Vatican museum director.

At a press conference they described the "svelte form and the sweetness of the finishing touches as similar to those of Michelangelo's Pieta in the Basilica of St Peter's". ...

However Tomaso Montanari, an art history professor from Naples University, believes the work is a fake and that there is a "political strategy behind the operation".

Professor Montanari said:"If we exclude the three art historians and Cristina Acidini there is no-one else who believes that this is a work by Michelangelo.

"The state has paid out £2.5 million for something it thinks is Michelangelo but it is not his style or technique – it is made up of pieces of wood glued together. ..."

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