Florence: Michelangelo Buonarotti, the Italian High Renaissance master, gifted the world a stunning artistic legacy from the Sistine Chapel frescoes to magnificent sculptures such as the Pietà, David, Moses and Laocoön.
However not many people have heard of his so-called “Secret Room” in Florence, a tiny chamber with sketch-filled walls, which is reportedly set to open to the public soon.
During the summer of 1530 Michelangelo went “off-radar” for about three months, with no official trace of the artist’s whereabouts on record.
Michelangelo was in fact holed up in a secret chamber, below the Medici Chapels in the Basilica of S. Lorenzo, in hiding from the Medici on their return from exile.
Michelangelo, then aged 55, feared reprisals after he had betrayed his patrons by siding with the revolt that had overthrown them.
Florence restores Michelangelo’s Pietà in publicRaphael tapestries return to Sistine ChapelHowever the artist did not waste his time while hiding out in the tiny windowless room, which measures just two by seven metres and was accessed via a trap-door.
He worked feverishly on studies for projects he was working on at the time, including a revision of David and some images from the Sistine Chapel.
He also covered the walls of his cramped hide-out with sketches in charcoal and chalk, including a possible self-portrait. When Michaelangelo eventually resurfaced, he was permitted to resume work on the Medici family’s monuments in the same chapel below which he had spent his summer in hiding.
Where to see Bernini masterpieces in Rome Michelangelo masterpiece in Rome for the first timeUntil 1975 nobody knew of the existence of Michelangelo’s Secret Room. When the walls of the hidden chamber were stripped, curators made a sensational discovery: sketches made by Michelangelo more than four centuries earlier.
In the intervening decades, only art experts and the occasional lucky guest have been permitted access to the tiny cell, however there are reportedly plans to open the secret room later in 2020.
Michelangelo died in Rome, at the grand old age of 88, in 1564. He is buried at the Basilica di S. Croce, fulfilling the master’s final request to be buried in his beloved Florence.