Restored Buffalo Painting Set to Exhibit in Rome

October 24, 2011 Updated Oct 24, 2011 at 2:03 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Restored Buffalo Painting Set to Exhibit in Rome

October 24, 2011 Updated Oct 24, 2011 at 2:03 PM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- La Pieta With Two Angels by Michelangelo, a painting reintroduced publicly here a year ago by its owner Martin Kober, will be part of a prestigious exhibit of High Renaissance art in Rome opening Tuesday and running through Feb. 12, 2012.

Fondazione Roma, the Rome Foundation, is one of the Eternal City's leading philanthropic and cultural institutions. The foundation brought Kober's painting to Rome and funded its restoration over the last six months. The foundation is sponsoring the exhibit, titled The Renaissance in Rome: A Token to Michelangelo and Raphael, which examines in about 170 objects the artistic, architectural and planning aspects of the period in Rome.

The Pieta was painted on 19 inches by 25 inches of spruce circa 1545, when the artist was about 70 years old. The painting then followed a long and documented provenance [details below] that led to the Kober family owning it. Among its more notable recent tales was how as a child Kober bounced a tennis ball off it above the family mantle and how it sat behind a living room couch for many years. Nine years ago, Kober, of the Town of Tonawanda, NY, set out to document the provenance and place the painting in its deserved historical context as a Michelangelo.

It is thought to have been painted for Michelangelo's friend Vittoria Colonna, a leader of the spirituali, a group of reform-minded Roman Catholics of the time. Michelangelo [March 6, 1475-Feb. 18, 1564] made gifts of his artwork for close friends, as he did of two drawings to Colonna. One, of the crucifixion, is in the British Museum in London; and one of the Pieta, very similar to the painting, is in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

Kober chose to exhibit the painting so its standing in the history of Renaissance art, specifically Michelangelo's, can be determined and accepted. To date there is disagreement among scholars and art experts whether Michelangelo, or one of his collaborators, painted La Pieta With Two Angels.

The display opens Tuesday in Fondazione Roma-Arte Musei space at Palazzo Sciarra, 22 Via Marco Minghetti, across the street from the foundation's headquarters. The exhibit is divided into seven sections documenting the 16th Century's artistic history through the transition to the High Renaissance.

The exhibit also includes masterpieces such as:

* Raphael's "self-portrait" and his portrait of "Fedra Inghirami," lent by the Uffizi Gallery in Florence;

* Michelangelo's "David-Apollo," from the Bargello National Museum in Florence;

* "Portrait of Cardinal Reginald Pole," [a leader of the spirituali] by Sebastiano del Piombo from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia;

* "Portrait of a Lady," attributed to del Piombo, from Harewood House in Leeds, Great Britain;

* Other works by artists including Perin del Vaga and Francesco Salviati.

According to the exhibit summary:

"Fondazione Roma has restored several important works for the occasion, amongst which [is] the Michelangelesque Pieta from Buffalo, USA (actually attributed to Michelangelo by some experts), which will be exhibited once the restoration has been completed."

That happened in time for inclusion at the exhibit's opening tomorrow. The painting, also referred to as La Pieta for Vittoria Colonna, is featured among two others on the exhibit's web site.

"I'm very pleased with the progress we've made since we unveiled the painting to the public last October," Kober said. "We moved it successfully to Rome, where it's been restored to near its original splendor. It's a major milestone for the painting to be included in an exhibit of this caliber and hang beside generally acknowledged works by Michelangelo, Raphael and other major Renaissance painters."

Curated by Marie Grazia Bernardini and Marco Bussagli, the exhibit will display Kober's Pieta in its first major appearance since 1885 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. There it was exhibited as a Michelangelo - complete with museum-supplied nameplate - in a winter display of art.

The Fondazione Roma, which dates itself to 1539, is the largest member-supported foundation in Italy. It functions as a cultural think tank, with a mission to foster cooperation and economic, cultural and social development in Mediterranean countries.

The 2011-12 exhibit is third in a series that began three years ago with an exhibition in Rome for "Rome in the 15th Century: The Rebirth of Arts from Donatello to Perugino," (April 29-Sept. 7, 2008); that was followed by a show recently ended, "Rome and Antiquity: Reality and Vision in the 18th Century," (Nov. 30, 2010-March 6, 2011).