Michelangelo’s Pietà Rome
History and description
Michelangelo sculpted his Pietà at a very early age, which did not stop him from contractually claiming that his version would outclass all previous Pietà‘s. It took him two years to finish the sculpture.
He made the sculpture in 1499. It was commissioned by a French cardinal, Jean de Bilheres, and it was not until later that it was placed in its present spot in Saint Peter’s Basilica.
Maria seems very young, which was done on purpose in order to stress her purity and virginity.
The Pietà is the only work Michelangelo ever signed. He probably would not have signed it this time either, had he not heard some people admire its beauty and claim that it must have been made by the Milanese sculptor Gobbo. MICHEL.A [N]ELVS.BVONAROTVS.FLORENT.FACIEBA are his exact words. It should have been “faciebat” but Michelangelo left out the final “t” to indicate that the work was not finished yet.
In the 1970’s a Hungarian vandal called Laszlo Toth who thought he was Jesus attacked the statue. Since then it has been placed behind protective glass.