Michelangelo's Pieta

Michelangelo's Pieta
Michelangelo's Pieta
Michelangelo's Pieta, After you walk in the front door of St Peter's Basillica in The Vatican, Rome, the Pieta will be on your right
Michelangelo's Pieta, After you walk in the front door of St Peter's Basillica in The Vatican, Rome, the Pieta will be on your right

Michelangelo’s Pieta

Michelangelo’s Pieta is one of the best sculptures of all time. As you walk into St Peters Basilica in Rome, turn right immediately and you will see Michelangelo’s Pieta directly ahead of you. Completed by Michelangelo when he was only 23 years old, this incredible scene has brought many a pilgrim to tears. It is one of the great joys in my opinion to see art that inspires emotion and Michelangelo’s Pieta is one of the best.

So what is a Pieta? And why is this one so Special? A Pieta is the depiction of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, often just after Jesus is taken off the cross. It has been done in many different mediums but mostly painting and sculpture. The reason Michelangelo’s Pieta was so special is because of the way in which he depicted both Mary and Jesus. If you look at Mary you see a very youthful face, torn with emotion. When the artist was asked why he depicted her being so young, he replied that the Virgin Mary to him could only ever be young, a symbol of her pureness and closeness to God. Also notice how Mary is holding Jesus with only one arm, and that he appears very relaxed. At this stage Jesus would have just died and we can see the limp and lifeless body of Jesus just down from the cross. (We know Michelangelo was familiar with the study of anatomy, due to his illegal autopsies that he carried out in Florence). This depiction of Michelangelo’s Pieta represents that Jesus was not eternally dead and that he would rise again soon. He also would have been very heavy for Mary to hold with only one arm, however he appears almost weightless.

Michelangelo’s Pieta is also the only work that Michelangelo ever signed. He placed the work into the Cathedral in the middle of the night to avoid commotion. When he returned during the day he overheard people commenting on it and crediting it to another artist. He was so disturbed that he crept in that night and chiselled his name into the sash running across Mary's chest, it reads 'Michelangelum' - his name in latin.

Michelangelo’s Pieta has not been a stranger to controversy, it was once attacked in 1972 by an Australian tourist with a hammer, it is one of the reasons why it is now behind a Perspex screen. The Aussie geologist Lazlo Toth ran at the statue yelling ‘I am the reborn Jesus Christ’, he was detained in an Italian Mental Hospital and then deported but no charges were laid for his attack on Michelangelo’s Pieta..

It is also of interest to point out that very near to his Pieta is the Sistine Chapel, on the roof of which is his most famous work, the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Not only was he a genius at painting and sculpting but Michelangleo also was the architect for most of St. Peter's Bascilica including the impressive dome. It is also said that Michelangelo designed the uniforms of the Popes Medici guards. Truly Michelangelo was a renaissance man.

My name is Robee Kann, for six years I was a tour guide throughout Europe. I loved my job and I would love to hear from you. You are most welcome to message me to say hello or request a hub about a European subject. Please look at my other hubs and leave a comment for me.

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Comments on Michelangelo's Pieta 24 comments

blue parrot profile image

blue parrot 6 years ago from Madrid, Spain

You think that the Sistine chapel is Mike's most famous work, and I thought it was the Pietà. The question is how such fame would be measured. I would count the number of people who can tell the name or the location or the subject or the author of a given work.

I think that is a very interesting question, because it is next to the problem of what is meant by "people". I mean the Europeans. Among Americans, who knows, the most famous thing would be Warhol's Marilyn. And among the Chinese or the peole living in all those perfectly unknown countries sometimes mentioned as Bin Laden's hiding places?

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Robee Kann 6 years ago Author

Thanks for the thought provoking comment Blue Parrot

Jennifer Hamilton 6 years ago

I am currently writing a paper on the Pieta and found your article/hub to be extremely helpful, however I am having trouble citing your work. My teacher is very particular with the citations, naturally, and will not accept a url with no date, basically with yours the information is just the title, your name, and the site. Would you be willing to provide me with additional information please, it would be greatly appreciated? Thanks, Jenny

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Robee Kann 6 years ago Author

Hi Jennifer, thanks for your message. I published this hub September 25th 2009, written by me Robee Kann as a free lance writer. My sources of information come from publications by the Vatican Museum (Museo Vaticano) Rome, Italy. If you require anthing else let me know.

Sid p hy 6 years ago

I heard that, the Mary's youthful inspired from Hypetia (Mathematician, Alexandria). Is this true...? sid p hy

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Robee Kann 6 years ago Author

Hi Sid p hy, I am not sure of your question - so I can't help you there I am sorry to say. But thanks for your question.

rose 6 years ago

You mention that Jesus would have been dead for several days at this point; why is that. I thought this was Mary at the foot of the cross. At what point does it depict her? Wasn't the only time that he could have been dead in her arms the time prior to his being laid in the tomb?

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Robee Kann 6 years ago Author

Thanks Rose, you are quite right, I have adjusted my hub accordingly.

Phillip Mcdowell 5 years ago

I am doing a research paper on Michelangelo and I think you have an error in your paper. You state Michelangelo "chiseled his name into the base". If I am not mistaken, where he signed was at the belt that binds her breasts. This was still a very well written paper and I plan to use you as a citation if you do not mind.

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Robee Kann 5 years ago Author

Phillip you are quite right, I have made the necessary changes and added some more info, Thanks for your feedback.

hhj 5 years ago

great stuff bro

frank 5 years ago

Why does christ appear weightlessness? Shouldn't it be weightless.

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Robee Kann 5 years ago Author

Thanks for the encouragement hhj

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Robee Kann 5 years ago Author

Thanks for the feedback Frank the spelling error has been corrected.

jill 5 years ago

i thought i saw a replica about 20 years ago behind glass was i at the Met. in New York or the British Museum

Robee Kann profile image

Robee Kann 5 years ago Author

Not sure Jill, I know there have been 4 bronze replicas cast from the original, one is in Boston I think and another in an Italian Community Centre, the third I don't know. Thanks for your comment

Susan Crankshaw 4 years ago

What is my small replica of Mary with Jesus in her arms from the Vatican worth?

will 4 years ago

great text:D

rosario 4 years ago



Toni 3 years ago

He a very good culture person and i would love to see one of them in life instead of pics

jj 3 years ago

yo sup

suzzycue profile image

suzzycue 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I enjoyed this Biography and I thought you did an excellent account of the details.

sara 2 years ago

i found your work extremely usefill for my studies.......you have added all the necessary points i needed.....

Len 13 months ago

Great stuff. Just curious if we know if he was gay. He seems to dwell on male bodies, abnormally...

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