Friday, February 17, 2012

Michelangelo: Pieta (1499)

Michelangelo was born on March 6, 1475 in the village of Caprese, about 60 miles (100 km) east of Florence. He was almost 89 years old when he died on February 18, 1564, in Rome. He was buried in the church of Santa Croce in Florence.

Michelangelo first moved to Rome in June 1496 at the age of 21. Two years later he was hired to sculpt the Pietá. He finished the work a year later. It is made of marble from Carrara, Italy, and measures 68.5 x 76.8 inches (174 x 195 cm).

The Pietá is one of the most beautiful sculptures made by anyone, anywhere, ever. When he finished it, Michelangelo was only 24 years old. He would live and work for another 65 years.

There is a sash across Mary’s chest. Shortly after he finished the Pietá, Michelangelo heard someone say that another man had sculpted it. In response, Michelangelo carved his name on Mary’s sash. The Pietá is the only sculpture he ever signed.

The Pietá is a statue of Mary holding the body of her son Jesus after he died. Mary is young and beautiful. Michelangelo made her that way because he believed her good soul kept her body from aging.

The body of Jesus shows marks where he was hurt. His face, however, is at peace. Michelangelo made him that way because he believed Jesus was very special to God. He wanted the face of Jesus to show this.

There was nothing like this sculpture before. There has been little like it since.

Once, while being moved, the fingers of Mary’s left hand were broken off. These were restored in 1736.

In 1972 a man attacked Mary with a hammer. He even broke off her nose. A lot of hard work was needed to restore her.

The Pietá is now kept safe behind thick glass. It may be seen in the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven Farsaci. All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.