Michelangelo….A Genius of the Arts…The Pieta
Michelangelo di Ludovico Buonarroti Simoni (known as Michelangelo) was born on March 6, 1475 in the Tuscan town of Caprese and died on 18 February 1564 . He persuaded his father to allow him to leave his grammar school and become an apprentice to the artist Domenico. It was during this time that a bully punched him in the nose, causing some deformity that always made him ashamed of his appearance.
However, Lorenzo de’ Medici (called the Magnificent), who was ruler of Florence at the time was so impressed by a statue Michelangelo was carving that he invited him to live in the Medici household. Lorenzo de Medici died and this forced Michelangelo to return home to his father, who had no interest in art.
It may have been his desire to learn about the anatomy of the human body that led him to work at dissecting corpses in the church of Santo Spirito. Florence, at this time, was filled with corruption and disturbing influences. Many felt that Florence would fall because of its sinful practices. This was preached about by many, even in the streets. Charles VIII of France invaded the city which only added to the unrest. Michelangelo decided to leave in 1494. This would not be his only flight.
Arriving in Rome, he began his work in marble by carving several works. The greatest of these and the most famous now stands in the Vatican. It is the famous Pieta shown below. The French Cardinal Jean Bilheres de Lagraulas commissioned the work.
A modern footnote about this statue: “LASZLO TOTH, who damaged the Pieta with a hammer on 21 May 1972, was never charged with a criminal offence. On 29 January of the following year he was declared by a court to be a socially dangerous person and was ordered confined to a mental hospital for at least two years. On 9 February 1975, the Hungarian-born, Australian geologist was released from the hospital and deported from Italy as an undesirable alien. He was sent back to Australia, where he was not detained by the authorities; Despite his recent absence from the public eye, he has managed to achieve some level of immortality, even aside from the perpetual linking of his name with the attack on the Pieta, in which he wielded a hammer and cried, “I am Jesus Christ – risen from the dead.”
A very interesting thing was discovered while trying to repair the damage inflicted on the Pieta. About six months after the attack, the Vatican announced that the team of restorers had discovered a previously unknown monogram or secret signature of Michelangelo on the palm of the Madonna’s left hand – an “M” fashioned from the skin lines reproduced in marble.
A detail of the Pieta shows the face of Christ below.
This is probably the world’s most famous sculpture of a religious subject. Michelangelo carved it when he was 24 years old, and it is the only one he ever signed.
This marble creation is truly amazing. The next blog will be on his work on the Sistine Chapel.
Video of the Pieta below with music by Yo Yo Ma