(Florence) Four visitors at a time will soon be allowed access to a small, long-hidden room inside the Medici Chapel in Florence, where delicate charcoal drawings on the walls have been attributed by some experts to Michel- Angel.
The secret room – a small space measuring 10 meters by three meters – was “rediscovered” in 1975, as authorities wanted to find a new exit for the Medici Chapel to accommodate increasing numbers of visitors.
Paolo Dal Poggetto, then the museum’s director, “firmly believed” that the walls were works by Michelangelo, said current director Paola D’Agostino. A fierce debate ensued and continues to this day.
“Leading scholars of Michelangelo’s drawings rejected the attributions” at the time of their discovery 50 years ago, she said. “Others had a more nuanced view: they thought some might be Michelangelo’s and others might be [the master’s] disciples. The debate still rages. »
The room was used to store coal until 1955, then sealed and forgotten for decades under a trap door, itself hidden from view by furniture. The drawings themselves were discovered under two layers of plaster.
Mr. Dal Poggetto’s theory is that Michelangelo hid in the small space to escape “the wrath of Pope Clement VII,” after the artist supported a short-lived republic that overthrew the Medici. The master would then have sketched in this small room studies for some of his projects, in particular sketches which would be the legs of Giuliano de’ Medici, as they appear in the New Sacristy of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, near the entrance to the room secret.
For most of the last 50 years, access to this room has been restricted. The authorities have decided to open the room to the public, on a limited basis, and will alternate exposure to LED lights with prolonged periods of darkness, in order to protect the works.
From November 15, up to 100 visitors will have access to the room each week, by reservation, four people at a time, spending a maximum of 15 minutes.