In Rome, during the restoration of the frescos on the walls of the Pauline Chapel – inside St Peter’s Basilica – Vatican restorers discovered an unsuspected treasure. In Michelangelo’s fresco “The Crucifixion of St. Peter” it seems as if a depiction of a horseman in a blue turban could be a self portrait of Michelangelo.
Reasons to suspect that the face is in face a sneaky self-portrait include the intricate brushwork. The detailing of the face, in particular the beard, the moustache, the hair, has been painted with the tip of the brush to achieve precise details, which given the distance between the fresco on the ceiling and the people looking at it would have been unnecessary. The frescos were painted by Michelangelo when he was 75 and they were his last, which also gives rise to the idea that he might have wanted to leave his stamp on the fresco. The discovery is obviously impotant to art historians, and intriguing to everyone else, but verifying whether or not this really is a self-portrait of the artist would be nigh impossible and restorers admit that in all probability no-one will ever be sure that the face is really a self-portrait of Michelangelo. The frescos were painted between 1542 and 1549 and are in a private chapel only used by the Pope and not normally open to the public. The restoration, which was recently finished, took five years and cost 3.2 million euros. For a virtual visit of the Basilica see: