The Pieta in Vatican City
Columbia Southern University
The Pieta in Vatican City
Italy is the cradle of culture and it is worldwide recognized as the country of the art and good food. Every year millions of tourists are astonished of the mixture of cultures that make this county unique. Form North to South, each place has its own style, its personality, and it is famous for something that make it special and unique. The North of Italy has been mainly influenced by Baroque and Gothic styles, the central regions have a strong imprint of the Renaissance Age, and the South conserves the exclusive traits of Greek and Arabic culture. Many cities in Italy have numerous pieces of artworks such as paints, sculptures, murals, and monuments and Rome is the place in the country, and probably in the world, that hosts the greatest number of each type of artistic creations. Roman monuments, objects in Etruscan styles, and Renaissance sculptures live together delighting the visitors from each part of the globe. However, one sculpture stands on all the others creations and this is, in my opinion, The Pieta.
The Pieta is a sculpture carved by Michelangelo Buonarroti in 1499 and it is located in St. Peter Basilica in Vatican City, Rome, Italy. After standing in the St. Peter Square, the plaza in front of the Basilica, patiently waiting in the cue to enter the Church, the visitors can finally reach the bronze door of the cathedral and, as soon they cross the entrance, if they turn their head on the right, they can admire the sculpture in all its beauty. The Pieta in Vatican City is the most famous one and it made Michelangelo well-known when he was only 24 years old. However, this sculpture is not the only Pieta’ the author made, but there are other three, La Pieta’ Bandini, located in Florence, La Pieta’ di Palestrina, also conserved in Florence, and La Pieta’ Rondanini which is in Milan (Greco, 2017). That is why the most famous one is called La Pieta’ in Vatican City. It was commissioned by a French cardinal called Jean de Billheres which wanted to place a sculpture representing the suffering of Virgin Mary holding the dead body of Jesus in a chapel in the old St. Peter Basilica in Rome (ItalianRenaissance.org, n-d). The statue represent the Virgin Mary holding her son just after the crucifixion and it is a masterpiece of art. The details the author was able to transmit just using chisel and hammer are incredible. The Virgin’s face while she holds Jesus emanates serenity, sweetness, and a majestic acceptance of her immense sorrow. Michelangelo had deep knowledge of human anatomy and he reproduced it in the marble he used to carve this masterpiece of art, in fact it is possible to observe muscles and veins in both bodies of Virgin Mary and Jesus. In addition, the veil that covers Virgin Mary and partially Jesus is so full of folds that seems it is moving under the look of the visitor. The whole statue seems to move if the person that look at it stare at it for long time. Michelangelo used a block of marble of Carrara and he said that it was the best piece of marble he ever seen (ItalianRenaissance.org, n-d). In fact, the sculpture is so white that seems the image of purity. The scene is perfectly reproduced in all its tragedy and the sculptor was able to transmit the feeling of sadness and pain to the viewer. The first time I saw The Pieta I remained speechless and I felt deeply sad because the carving is so real that seemed that Jesus was dying while I was admiring it. I also spent long time looking the expression of the Virgin Mary and she transmitted me a feeling of profound peace, like that nothing could ever have happened to me. I am Italian and my family still live there, so every year I go to visit them I make sure to visit The Pieta’ and every single time I have two distinct feelings, joy for the beauty of the sculpture and sadness for what it represents. It is so real that each time I look the statue it seems that the action is happening in reality under my gaze.
The Pieta in Vatican City is, without any doubt, the best sculpture a human being could ever create. The subject that it represents, the details with which has been carved, the face expressions, and the purity of the material used make it unique and it worth to be visited.
Saliceto (2014) Cosimo (n-d)
Cosimo (n-d) Cosimo (n-d)
Cosimo (n-d) Cosimo (n-d)
Cosimo F. (n-d). Foto della Pieta’. Retrieved from https://www.foliamagazine.it/michelangelo-pieta-2/
Frank P. (2014) Prebles’ artforms: An introduction to the visual arts (11th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Greco M. (2017). La Pieta’ di Michelangelo; L’evoluzione del Dramma. Retrieved from http://www.artwave.it/arte/storia-dellarte/la-pieta-di-michelangelo-levoluzione-del-dramma/
Hirst M. (2014). Michelangelo, Come Nacque “La piu Bella Opera di Marmo” 2 parte. Retrieved form https://www.foliamagazine.it/michelangelo-pieta-2/
ItalianRenaissance.org (n-d). Analysis of the Art of Renaissance Italy. Michelangelo’s Pieta. Retrieved from http://www.italianrenaissance.org/michelangelos-pieta/
Saliceto G. (2014). Pictures of The Pieta form a trip in Rome.