Michelangelo's Bruges Madonna Graces DC Basilica

Entrepreneur to Place Replicas of Famous statue worldwide

World-Renowned Historians shed insight into Masterpiece

Nov 17, 2009, 09:00 ET from Michelangelo's Bruges Madonna

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- On the auspicious eve of the Immaculate Conception Day, dignitaries, ecumenical theologians, academics, historians as well as art enthusiasts will converge on Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on December 7th to get a rare glimpse of an extraordinary replica of Michelangelo's famous marble sculpture, the Bruges Madonna and Child.

The life-size bronze statue is a labor of love of DC entrepreneur, Lonnie Gaddy, whose mission is to find a home for each of the 24 bronze replicas of the strictly limited edition in churches, universities and museums worldwide.

Moved by Michelangelo's own desire to express his spirituality, the Gaddy family hopes the very rare two-dozen sculptures will inspire people of all faiths. "We are one small but spiritually renewed American family dedicated to a unique project that promises to inspire and enlighten millions of people regardless of denomination or religion," says Lonnie Gaddy. The Gaddy family plans to donate the unique original mold, which Italian craftsmen made more than 70 years ago to a renowned museum or academic institution for scholarly studies. The mold is estimated to be worth near one-and-half ($1.5M) million dollars.

Michelangelo's concept of this masterpiece is extraordinary, according to noted art historian Dr. John Thomas Spike, who specializing in Italian Renaissance and Baroque art. "In the Bruges version, Madonna has a serene and stunning countenance as if looking away in sadness as the Christ Child takes his first step into the world to fulfill His destiny for Mankind," says Dr. Spike. Dr. Spike will share his extensive knowledge about the masterpiece which he accounts in a most comprehensive biography of Michelangelo, being published in three volumes, the first of which is expected to be released in 2010 entitled, "The Young Michelangelo: The Path of the Sistine."

Intriguing history and mystique surrounds the pristine original marble masterpiece. It was created by Michelangelo in 1504 and it was the only sculpture by the master to leave Italy during the Renaissance when it was sold to wealthy merchants in Bruges, Belgium. In 1794, it was stolen by French Revolutionaries, and the statue exchanged hands again when it was taken by the Nazis. It now resides in Bruges at the Church of our Lady.

Also to shed his keen insight into the marvelous sculpture will be art historian and author Peter Hastings. As the Director of "The Michelangelo Experience," he works closely with everyone associated with the project - from the foundry owner, Ferdinando Marinelli to the project's historian, Dr. Spike, to all museum curators and directors.

The very first cast from the edition made its worldwide debut at Casa Buonarroti Museum in Florence, Italy two months ago. And the first U.S. appearance is planned in cooperation with Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC, beginning at 4pm on December 7th. The Bruges Madonna and Child will remain there until April 7th 2010. The U.S. debut coordinated in cooperation with the Basilica is free to the public. Refreshments and words from world-renowned historians and Lonnie Gaddy will follow.

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