“Michelangelo’s first painting”, the Torment of Saint Anthony, is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York June 16, 2009-September 7, 2009 in the European Paintings Galleries, 2nd floor. It is on loan from the Kimbell Art Museum of Fort Worth (TX), who acquired the painting in July 2008 at a London auction for its permanent collection. This is the first painting by Michelangelo to enter an American collection – quite a coup for the Kimbell’s director Dr. Eric McCauley Lee!!

Michelangelo, The Torment of Saint Anthony, c. 1487–88. Oil and tempera on panel. Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth
Michelangelo, The Torment of Saint Anthony, c. 1487–88. Oil and tempera on panel. Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth

The painting has been known for quite some time but was somewhat ignored due to yellowed varnish and overpainting that has now been removed by conservators at the Met. Vasari recounts that Michelangelo made a ‘colour drawing’ of the Schongauer print when he was only 13 years old; Condivi also describes the event in detail. Scholarly articles in support of the attribution are forthcoming.

Read the excellent press release from the Kimbell with a history of the work and a convincing analysis of its attribution.

Information on the exhibition direct from metmuseum.org:

Michelangelo’s biographers wrote that his first painting copied a well-known engraving by the German artist Martin Schongauer (1448-1491).  Made in about 1487-88, The Torment of Saint Anthony has been known for many years, although it has not always received proper attention due to accumulations of discolored varnish and disfiguring overpaints, which obscured the qualities of the picture’s masterful execution and remarkable color palette.  Michelangelo’s First Painting will showcase recent technical examination and scholarly analysis by the Metropolitan Museum’s conservators and curators that identify the painting as the one described by Michelangelo’s biographers.  In addition to The Torment of Saint Anthony, works from the Metropolitan Museum’s collection will include Portrait of Michelangelo by Daniele da Volterra (1509-1566) and a facsimile of the Schongauer engraving, Saint Anthony Tormented by Demons.  The painting was acquired recently by the Kimbell Art Museum, where it will return this fall for display as part of its permanent collection.

For further reading: An excellent book on works by the Young Michelangelo:

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