This one falls under the heading of “strange and hard to believe, but maybe it is true . . .”

There is a possibility that some of the statuary in the Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo may be the work of 15th and 16th century Italian masters. If that is the case, there is an outside chance that some of the statuary could be the work of Michelangelo.

According to an article in the Coastland Times by John Buford, the Marketing Director for the Elizabethan Gardens, some of the statuary on the grounds carry the family crest of a northern Italian family known to be patrons of Michelangelo.

Records indicate the statuary was imported from Italy at the beginning of the 20th century, but their Italian origins are somewhat unclear.

Although the style of the statues are consistent with the works of the Italian masters, questions remain about their authenticity. There is no doubt that they originated in Italy; however, other than the family crest found on some of the works, there are no marking indicating who created them or when they were created.

The Elizabethan Gardens is already home to a surprising historic picture of Queen Elizabeth I. Almost all portraits of the queen are flattering—but not this one. Painted on wood, it shows an aging monarch in court dress. Research is continuing to confirm its authenticity, but evidence increasingly indicates it is real portrait of Queen Elizabeth I from the 1600s.