An Exemplary Renaissance Masterpiece
Michelangelo travelled to the marble quarries at Carrara in central Italy to select the block from which to carve this work. The choice of stone was important because he envisioned the statue as already existing in the marble and his job was to “set it free”.
The sculpture shows the scene of the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Christ in her lap after his crucifixion. The Pieta is special, even for the Renaissance period, since this theme was all but unknown in Italy before Michelangelo made it famous in this statue. Moreover, multi-figured sculptures were rare at the time. It was fashioned in a pyramidal shape and establishes Mary’s presence prominently. The Madonna’s bust forms the Pieta’s vertex, and it widens progressively down the drapery of her dress to the base.
Bronze Replicas Sanctioned by Casa Buonarroti
While the original Pieta by Michelangelo is a marble sculpture, this is a bronze limited edition authorized by Casa Buonarroti. Formed by Michelangelo’s family after his death, Casa Bunorroti is the sole possessor of the “droits moral,” or moral rights, to the artist’s work. It alone can grant authorization to replicate Michelangelo’s works. This sculpture was crafted from bronze castings of the original mold of the Pieta, verified by Casa Bunorroti, and is 9 x 17 x 19 inches.
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This sculpture Pieta was one of Michelangelo’s defining creations, instantly establishing his fame and his place as arguably the greatest sculptor of all time. At the age of 23, Michelangelo was commissioned by French Cardinal Jean de Bilhères to create the Pieta, originally as a tomb monument for the cardinal’s funeral. However, it went on to become so successful that it was moved to its present location inside St. Peter’s Basilica in the first northside chapel, right after the entrance. The Pieta is the only sculpture that Michelangelo ever signed.