Art: Saved from Death

In a sepulchral chamber hidden beneath Florence's Medici Chapel, accessible only through a trap door and a winding staircase, Sabino Giovannoni scraped away at the accumulated layers of soot, grime and whitewash. Slowly, almost reluctantly, the face of a woman began to emerge, a primeval woman who looked remarkably like the Eve in the Sistine Chapel. After several hours, Giovannoni telephoned Medici Chapels Director Paolo dal Poggetto. "Come over quickly," he said. "We've got something important here."

What they had was a major discovery—the world's only group of mural sketches by Michelangelo Buonarroti,...

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