August 19, 2021 2 min read

Reaching the age of 80, MICHELANGELO resolutely reflects on death and takes its symbolism as the classic theme of religious icon art - something he experimented with in his youth: Pieta

"Pietà" is the name commonly used to refer to the symbolic subject of Christ being lowered from the cross, weeping by his mother and other Gospel figures and it is a symbol of Northern Europe, was introduced to Italy by Michelangelo.

Michelangelo carved three "Pietà" during his long life, all made of white marble, all larger than life-size: the first Pietà is kept in the Basilica Saint Peter of Rome, Michelangelo carved it in 1499 when he was 24 years old. The second is “Pietà Bandini” - 1547-1555 in Florence, sculpted by Michelangelo while still an elder; Michelangelo didn't finish it and tried to destroy it. The other is the so-called "Pietà Rondanini" -1552 - 1564, now preserved at Castello Sforzesco, in Milan; he left it unfinished when he died at the age of 89.

Michelangelo was in Rome for many years, as he got older he began to think about death and made a statue of Pietà to bury himself. Therefore, this work is undoubtedly one of the most important works ever made by him because of its intimate and very personal character. It serves as an honorary memorial for his burial. The sculptural team's sketch represents the body of Christ, just taken down from the cross, surrounded and supported by three figures: Mary Magdalene on the right, Nicodemus, whom the sculptor gave borrowed his face - easily recognizable by the detail of his nose - broken in childhood. Torrigiani - in the middle, and Blessed Mother on the left. Michelangelo, then seventy years old, painted a self-portrait of himself as if to identify himself with Nicodemus, in his loving care for the body of Jesus as he was crucified, buried and resurrected.

The only statue is signed

Interestingly, Michelangelo signed only one work in his lifetime. After moving to Greece, he was asked to work on 'The Pietà'. The work depicts the suffering of the virgin Mary before the death of Jesus, who is lying in her mother's arms. 'The Pietà' was completed in 1499 and is currently kept in St. Peter's Basilica. To show pride in the work, Michelangelo carved a band of turban around the Virgin's chest, with the words "MICHAELA [N] GELUS BONAROTUS FLORENTIN [US] FACIEBA [T] (A work of Michelangelo, the people of Florence)." Michelangelo's biographer Giorgio Vasari attributed the artist's signature to the work because he had heard that some jealous people had attributed his work to another artist. In fact, Michelangelo later regretted this act so much, he swore never to sign the work again.

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