The item in front of us here was produced in ivory and bears a resemblance to another of Michelangelo's crucifix designs that remains in Italy. We have found a date of around 1496-1497 that has been given to the Montserrat version which would tie in which this artist's career, though would not be confirmation on its own. Religious themes were the dominant element during the Italian Renaissance, and many sculptors would have turned their hands to producing crucifixes such as these at that time. It is perhaps the precise, accurate depiction of the human body which have led some to conclude it to be from Michelangelo's hand, such was his reputation for producing sculpture of a life-like quality. Originally, this piece was actually loosely attributed to Lorenzo Ghiberti, another highly skilled artist to have come from Italy.
Evidence has shown that this piece was purchased by Abbot Marcet in 1920 whilst in Rome and that by the late 1950s it was situated in the Basilica of Montserrat on the outskirts of Barcelona. It is currently beautifully presented in its current location, entirely fitting of a stunning sculpture which is respected for its artistic merits, regardless of which master actually created it. It has been placed on the main altar, underlining its importance and the considerable affection that those within this monastery hold for it. It has now been there for close to seventy years and its status within a religious building helped it to avoid the clutches of capitalist exploitation, where financial gain would have been sought aggressively, just as it has with so many other artists in recent years. Several other items from Michelangelo's career, or at least connected to him at some point, can still be found within their natural environments, that is religious centres where their original purpose is still being served.
The piece itself captures Christ with his head leaned over to his right, our left, and mouth hanging down loosely to underline his desperate predicament. Thorns crown his head and his hands are open, as his arms stretch to either side. There is a clear similarity with two other sculptures that have been attributed to Michelangelo, though with considerable question marks around that of their own - namely, Gallino Crucifix and Christ of Guadalupe, both of which are regularly featured within discussions of the artist's career but without the heavy footnotes around whether they were really from his hand or not. It is hard to draw too many conclusions on items that remain within religious institutions are they cannot normally be treated with the types of scientific research that would be necessary to confidently attribute each piece to a specific person, and so these controversies may never go away.