- Posted March 12, 2013 by
MICHELANGELO's 1st PIETA
To marvel at Michelangelo’s works is just matter of fact, yet it appears even more so if we think how young he was when he created some of his masterpieces of incomparable perfection and beauty.
His attentive study and understanding of Hellenistic art is specially shown in his early sculptures and bas-reliefs, which take into account also Donatello’s lesson.
Yet, his first Pieta, sculpted between the age of 23-24, is a work of art that could well be defined classic, for the ideal beauty of the two figures and the balance of the triangular composition.
The Carrara white marble becomes translucent and smooth as wax in rendering the dead body of Christ, there abandoned in his mother’s lap, while her gesture suggests she is offering her son to our observation, for us to see what’s been done to him.
Her mute and subdued sorrow is even more tempered by her youthful countenance, and that’s no mistake on Michelangelo’s part: she’s meant to look younger than her son to signify her spiritual incorruptibility.
The perfect figure of Christ shows Michelangelo’s profound study of anatomy as well as his understanding of the significance of the nude in Greek art, which will always remain Michelangelo’s main interest, due to the dramatic concept of man in his art. We know how deeply felt was this dramatic vision of his, which attracted great controversy and severe critics to his works...!
But here, in his first Pieta, the ideal classical beauty and composure of the two is, by contrast, framed by the dramatic chiaroscuro of the rich drapery of Mary’s veil and her mantle and robe, diagonally crossed on her chest by a belt, with Michelangelo’s chiselled signature: an exceptional detail among his works.
It seems that he was moved to “sign” it after he overheard by chance that it was being ascribed to somebody else.