So last month I went to Rome, I visited the Vatican and learnt that Michelangelo was summoned as soon as the Laocoön was unearthed. The sculpture had missing parts and Bandinelli’s view was that Christ’s arm should be extended. Today I found a statue portraying that view that was accepted for so many years. It seems perfectly feasible when you look at it:
Now the reverse analysis is that this arm was created with the making of a wax cast. It was a mere prediction of what it would have looked like. However, Michelangelo had a totally different opinion. For some illogical reason, he thought that the arm should have been bent. Only it was not illogical at all.
Michelangelo was a peculiar individual and amongst the obscure things he did, studying corpses was of interest to him. So having played with all the muscles in the body, he knew that a torso in that position could not possibly be linked to an extended arm. Thus, he did have a right to contradict this view, except Bandinelli’s view was the one most people went with.
It wasn’t until the 20th century that Michelangelo’s theory was accepted when they finally retrieved the missing arm! And so the Laocoön that you will find in the Vatican is actually the most accurate representation of the original idea, dated all the way back to the 1st century BC.
The rest is history and copies. I’m just so fascinated!