Michelangelo as Pan?

Posted in on site by Editor on November 15, 2022

Joseph Vernet, detail of a sketch showing the statue of Pan (with fig leaf), by the Aurelian Walls that bounded the Villa Ludovisi to the north, 1737. From D. Cordellier, P. Rosenberg, and P. Märker, Dessins français du musée de Darmstadt (2007), 459.

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I suspect many readers will find this series of postings about a Pan sculpture from Rome’s Villa Ludovisi of interest. Whatever the status of the attribution (itself intriguing), the statue clearly was linked with Michelangelo in the eighteenth century. CH

Hatice Köroğlu Çam, “A New Self-Portrait of Michelangelo? The Statue of Pan at the Casino dell’Aurora in Rome,” 3 parts, Archivio Digitale Boncompagni Ludovisi (2022).

Part 1: Correspondences” (20 March 2022).
Part 2: Testimonia: Sketches and Earlier Inventories” (12 September 2022).
Part 3: Reception” (5 November 2022).

From Part 1, at the Archivio Digitale Boncompagni Ludovisi:

Pan, attributed to Michelangelo at the Casino dell’Aurora. Collection †HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome (Photo by T. Corey Brennan, October 2022).

A statue of Pan, for centuries located in the garden of Rome’s Villa Ludovisi, since 1901 has stood unprotected outside the southwest wing of the Casino dell’Aurora. Traditionally attributed to Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564), and once deemed of great monetary value (4000 scudi in a 1749 Boncompagni Ludovisi inventory), it undoubtedly exhibits characteristic features of the master’s sculptural language.

Yet most surprisingly there is no detailed study focusing on this statue. The most recent treatment, that of Maria Elisa Micheli (Museo Nazionale Romane: Le Sculture I.6 I marmi Ludovisi dispersi [1986]), fills not quite a page and a half. Micheli dismisses seventeenth- and eighteenth-century attributions of the Pan to Michelangelo, considering it instead “a modern work of the late sixteenth century.”

The verdict strikes me as too hasty. After comparing the stylistic language of the Pan to that of Michelangelo in a wide range of his sculptures, paintings, and drawings, I have come to the conclusion that even if the sculpture is not by Michelangelo, it highlights many features of his style to a remarkable extent. And those attributes are recognizable even given the fact that the Pan today shows an unfortunate loss of details, especially the face—clear when comparing historic photos of the statue (from 1885) with its present state. . . .

The full posting is available here»

Hatice Köroğlu Çam studied journalism for three years with a double major in art history at Istanbul University in Turkey and then received her BA in art history at Rutgers University (2022), where she wrote her honors thesis on “Decoding Michelangelo’s Passion: Laocoön and Tityus.” She interned at the Archivio Digitale Boncompagni Ludovisi in the Spring and Summer of 2022, which made possible a visit to the Casino dell’Aurora, the home of Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, in July 2022. Hatice is currently on the staff of the museum store of the Princeton University Art Museum and plans to pursue her academic journey towards a PhD, including further research into the Pan project.

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More information about the Archivio Digitale Boncompagni Ludovisi—initiated by T. Corey Brennan (Rutgers University) while Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the American Academy in Rome (2009–12)—is available here.

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