All entries for Wednesday 27 May 2009

May 27, 2009

Artistic apocrypha

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8062309.stm

I've been following with some interest this story regarding a sculpture of Christ supposedly by Michaelangelo.

The disputed sculpture
The Disputed Sculpture (picture from BBC)

The dispute is instantly recognisable to me, echoing extremely closely the disputes that have raged over the Shakespeare Apocrypha. Key points:

  • Critics claiming that the work is mediocre, and therefore not good enough for Michaelangelo.
  • Supporters claiming that the work is superior to any other artist of the period.
  • A nation 'selling' Michaelangelo as its national artist.
  • Bystanders asking whether knowledge of the artist actually affects - or should affect - our enjoyment and appreciation of the artwork.
  • The argument that it could represent early work by the young artist, showing us the artist's development rather than maturity.
  • The unequivocal presentation of the sculpture as authentic by the authorities who have invested in it, as opposed to admitting the debate.

I'm going to keep an eye on this, because it may be extremely useful. It's a live debate about what is, essentially, an apocryphal sculpture, and these debates over authenticity seem to follow set patterns. It may, therefore, provide an insight into the debates surrounding my plays.


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I’m Peter Kirwan, a final year doctoral student in the English Department at Warwick, and this is my PhD blog.


Conferences, reviews, articles, thoughts and links relating to my interests in the Shakespeare apocrypha, early modern drama, authorship and performance.

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