In The Natural History, Pliny the Elder mentioned "the Laocoön [...]* in the palace of the Emperor Titus, a work that may be looked upon as preferable to any other production of the art of painting or of statuary." Pliny ascribed the sculpture to three sculptors from Rhodes, Agesander, Athenodoros, and Polydoros; it is possible that they (or some of their descendants) were also responsible for a cluster of similarly-themed statues found in the 1950s at Sperlonga. In any event, the Laocoön was discovered in 1506 and purchased by Pope Julius II. [more inside]
In a Michelangelo Fresco, Visions of a Brain Stem. "It has been hiding in plain sight for the past 500 years, and now two Johns Hopkins professors believe they have found it: one of Michelangelo’s rare anatomical drawings in a panel high on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo was a conscientious student of human anatomy and enthusiastically dissected corpses throughout his life, but few of his anatomical drawings survive. This one, a depiction of the human brain and brain stem, appears to be drawn on the neck of God, but not all art historians can see it there."
Are figures in a Florentine altar panel attributed to Italian artist Andrea del Verrocchio actually by Leonardo da Vinci? "The Baptistery figures, if accepted as Leonardo's, would be the only extant sculptures made in the artist's lifetime..." Related ARTNews article, additional Smithsonian Magazine article, National Gallery of Art writeup related to the additional Smithsonian Magazine article, and the High Museum's upcoming Leonardo exhibit.
Investigating Bellini's Feast of the Gods takes apart the layers of Feast of the Gods, painted by Giovanni Bellini, repainted by Dosso Dossi, and repainted again by Tiziano Vecellio--that is, Titian. Visitors can see the results of x-rays and other imaging techniques, view the painting's changing context in the Duke of Ferrara's gallery, and examine details in close-up. [more inside]
Cranach Magnified, courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, enables users to compare and analyze the "surprisingly minute features" of several paintings by the great Lucas Cranach the Elder. For much more Cranach, visit the extensive listing at Artcyclopedia, which includes, among other things, the woodcuts at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco; several paintings at the Kunsthistorisches Museum; and more paintings at the National Gallery of Art.