The sculptures are believed to have been created around 1506 to 1508, before the painting of Sistine Chapel ceiling fresco but after the marble statue of David. They are Michelangelo’s only surviving bronzes. Researchers employed the expertise of scientists, including Peter Abrahams, professor of clinical anatomy at Warwick Medical School, to decipher key characteristics of the master’s works. Abrahams’ conclusions were echoed by Victoria Avery, Keeper of Applied Arts at the Fitzwilliam Museum, who said the sculptures were the “real thing.”
The sculptures were first recorded as Michelangelo’s bronzes in 1878, when they were owned by the Rothschild family. However, later the work was attributed to other artists. The pair of sculptures was last sold at Sotheby’s in 2002, for around $2.3 million to a British collector, and was exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 2012. Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet of the High Renaissance born in the Republic of Florence, considered the greatest artist of his lifetime.