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“Pic of the Week”. April 18, 2014: Michelangelo’s “Other Pieta”

vatican Pieta

It being Good Friday, I thought it timely to share two of my favorite sculptures with you.  The photo above (which you can enlarge by click on the thumbnail below) is from St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, highlighting its beautiful Pieta.  This was carved by a then unknown young sculpture, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, or as we know him, “Michelangelo”.  It is the only one of his sculptings he signed.  I think it’s the most amazing sculpture I’ve ever seen and the skill of this artist to breath life and emotion into the cold stone never ceases to amaze me.  But this was not his only work on this subject.  You’ll see another Pieta in the Duomo Museum in Florence called “The Deposition”, but which is also known as the “Florentine Pieta”.  This was crafted decades after the better known Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica and was made when Michelangelo was an old man.

The Florentine Pieta, crafted in marble (of course), shows shows the dead Christ being held up by his mother, the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Nicodemus.  Michelangelo worked on it on and off between 1547-1553.   Legend has it that Michelangelo intended this piece decorate his personal tomb and that the face of Nicodemus under the hood is considered to be a self-portrait.  Michelangelo is said to have abandoned the unfinished piece on discovering an impurity in the marble after working on it for years (additional work on it was later done by sculptor Tiberio Calcagni).

The Florentine Pieta never did make it to Michelangelo’s tomb (which is nearby in Florence’s Santa Croce church), but allows us a glimpse of the great sculptor’s face. 

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance)

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