Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Pieta: Michelangelo's Unproportional Piece

The Pieta, 1498-1500

Housed in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, the Pieta, first was commissioned for the French cardinal Jean de Billheres. This sculpture, which was going to be the cardinal's funeral monument, was later moved to its current location due to its masterpiece. This famous Renaissance sculpture was the only piece ever signed by Michelangelo. 

This art work depicts the body of Jesus laying in the lap of Mother Mary after his Crucifixion. It's an important piece due to its design as the drapery of Mary's dress, to the base, widens in a pyramidal shape. The figures are out of proportion, even though the image appears very natural. Within this sculpture, Mary is young, Jesus's crucifixion is limited to very small marks and wound, and their faces seem almost calm. Michelangelo didn't wish to show death, but "religious vision of abandonment and a serene face of the Son." 

Quite a bit of damage has come to this sculpture over the years. Due to moving, Mary lost four fingers. On May 21, 1972, a geologist named Laszlo Toth attacked the sculpture with a hammer, causing the most damage the sculpture has had yet. Displaced marble was picked up by onlookers and not all the pieces have been returned, including Mary's nose, which was replaced with a piece from her back. The Pieta is now behind bullet-proof glass panel. 
I believe that this piece was attacked due to its religious connotation, yet could it simply have been attacked due to its historical significance and beauty? 

Helpful Links: 

"Michelangelo's Pieta." ItalianRenaissance.org. N.P., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2014. 

Khan. "Michelangelo's Pieta." The Pieta. Khan Academy, n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/michelangelo-pieta.html>.

Pullella, Philip. "Vatican Marks Anniversary of 1972 Attack on Michelangelo's Pieta." Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 21 May 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/21/us-vatican-pieta-idUSBRE94K0KU20130521>.