La Pieta, St. Peter's Basilica, The Vatican

Al Bourassa

Cuenca, Ecuador

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BEST VIEWED LARGER
This artwork is derived from a photograph taken during a tour of Western Europe.
I do hope you enjoy my work.
Comments are graciously accepted.
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Taken March 7/09 on a gorgeous day in Rome, Italy.
Courtesy Wikipedia:
La Pietà (1499) is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture by the renowned artist Michelangelo Buonarroti, housed in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. The statue was commissioned for the French cardinal Jean de Billheres, who was a representative in Rome. The statue was made for the cardinal’s funeral monument, but was moved to its current location, the first chapel on the right as one enters the basilica, in the 18th century.
This famous work of art depicts the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion. The theme is of Northern origin, popular by that time in France but not yet in Italy. Michelangelo’s interpretation of the Pietà is unique to the precedents. It is an important work as it balances the Renaissance ideals of classical beauty with naturalism. The statue is one of the most highly finished works by Michelangelo.
The structure is pyramidal, and the vertex coincides with Mary’s head. The statue widens progressively down the drapery of Mary’s dress, to the base, the rock of Golgotha. The figures are quite out of proportion, owing to the difficulty of depicting a fully-grown man cradled full-length in a woman’s lap. Much of Mary’s body is concealed by her monumental drapery, and the relationship of the figures appears quite natural. Michelangelo’s interpretation of the Pieta was far different from those previously created by other artists, as he sculpted a young and beautiful Mary rather than an older woman around 50 years of age.
The Madonna is represented as being very young, and about this peculiarity there are different interpretations. One is that her youth symbolizes her incorruptible purity, as Michelangelo himself said to his biographer and fellow sculptor Ascanio Condivi: “Do you not know that chaste women stay fresh much more than those who are not chaste? How much more in the case of the Virgin, who had never experienced the least lascivious desire that might change her body?”
According to Giorgio Vasari, shortly after the installation of his Pietà Michelangelo overheard (or asked visitors about the sculptor) someone remark that it was the work of another sculptor, Cristoforo Solari, whereby Michelangelo signed the sculpture. Michelangelo carved MICHAELANGELUS BONAROTUS FLORENTINUS FACIEBA (Michelangelo Buonarroti, Florentine, made this) on the sash running across Mary’s chest. It was the only work he ever signed. Vasari also reports the anecdote that Michelangelo later regretted his outburst of pride and swore never to sign another work of his hands.
In subsequent years the Pietà sustained much damage. Four fingers on Mary’s left hand, broken during a move, were restored in 1736 by Giuseppe Lirioni and scholars are divided as to whether the restorer took liberties to make the gesture more ‘rhetorical’.
The most substantial damage occurred on May 21, 1972 (Pentecost Sunday) when a mentally disturbed geologist named Laszlo Toth walked into the chapel and attacked the sculpture with a geologist’s hammer while shouting “I am Jesus Christ”. After the attack, the work was painstakingly restored and returned to its place in St. Peter’s, just to the right of the entrance, between the Holy door and the altar of Saint Sebastian, and is now protected by a bullet-proof acrylic glass panel.

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