Pietà, St. Peter's, Rome


Pietà, St. Peter's, Rome
(1498/1499-1500)
   Commissioned from Michelangelo by the French Cardinal Jean de Bilhères Lagraulas for his family chapel at St. Peter's. The contract stipulated that this was to be the most beautiful work in marble to exist in Rome, a stipulation Michelangelo may very well have achieved as his Pietà was greatly admired by his contemporaries and continues to serve as one of the prime examples of Renaissance sculpture. Michelangelo made a special trip to Carrara, well known for its white marble quarries, to find the perfect block for the execution of the work. He created a pyramidal composition with the dead Christ lying on his mother's lap, her crumpled drapery forming a backdrop for his corpse. She stretches her left arm as if revealing the Savior to the faithful. This motif stems from medieval German prototypes, usually heart-wrenching renditions that emphasize the brutality of the Passion and Crucifixion. Michelangelo instead created a restrained, quiet iconic image. Giorgio Vasari wrote in his Lives that a group of Lombards had thought that the work was carved by one of their compatriots. In the middle of the night, Michelangelo sneaked into St. Peter's and signed his name on the Virgin's strap that runs across her chest to prevent any further confusion as to the authorship of the work. Originally meant for a niche, the sculpture is now encased in heavy glass and tucked in a dark corner of the basilica. The reason for this is that, in 1972, the work was attacked by a crazed individual who broke the Virgin's nose and some of her fingers. The work has since been restored.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Pietà —    A scene depicting the dead body of Christ supported by his mother, the Virgin Mary, or his followers. Among the earliest depictions of this sort from the Renaissance is Giovanni da Milano s rendition of 1365 (Florence, Accademia), which shows… …   Dictionary of Renaissance art

  • Rome — • The significance of Rome lies primarily in the fact that it is the city of the pope Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Rome     Rome     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Pietà (Michelangelo) — This article is about the earliest and best known Pietà by Michelangelo. For three related sculptures see the Florentine Pietà or The Deposition (Michelangelo), the Rondanini Pietà, and the Palestrina Pietà. Pietà Artist …   Wikipedia

  • Pietà — The Pietà (pl. same; Italian for pity ) is a subject in Christian art depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus, most often found in sculpture. As such, it is a particular form of the Lamentation of Christ , a scene from the… …   Wikipedia

  • Rome — /rohm/, n. 1. Harold (Jacob), born 1908, U.S. lyricist and composer. 2. Italian, Roma. a city in and the capital of Italy, in the central part, on the Tiber: ancient capital of the Roman Empire; site of Vatican City, seat of authority of the… …   Universalium

  • Rome — For the civilization of classical antiquity, see Ancient Rome. For other uses, see Rome (disambiguation). Rome Roma    …   Wikipedia

  • Pietà — /pee ay tah , pyay tah , pee ay teuh, pyay /, n. (sometimes l.c.) Fine Arts. a representation of the Virgin Mary mourning over the body of the dead Christ, usually shown held on her lap. [1635 45; < It: lit., pity < L pietas PIETY; cf. PITY] * *… …   Universalium

  • PIETÀ —    (i. e. piety), the name given to a picture, the subject of which is the dead Christ in the embrace of his sorrowing mother, accompanied by sorrowing women and angels; that sculptured by Michael Angelo, in St. Peter s at Rome, representing the… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • St. Peter's Basilica — Papal Basilica of Saint Peter Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano (Italian) Basilica Sancti Petri (Latin) …   Wikipedia

  • Römische Pietà — Pietà im Petersdom in Rom Michelangelos römische Pietà, häufig auch als vatikanische Pietà bezeichnet, ist eine der bekanntesten Darstellungen dieses in der abendländischen Kunst sehr beliebten Sujets. Die Marmorstatue ist in den Jahren 1498 bis… …   Deutsch Wikipedia


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