The Pieta

Every Thursday after school many moons ago,  I would walk to Ms. Monahan’s for my art lesson.  The  classical technique in her own works soon led to influence mine.   She introduced me to Michelangelo Buonarroti.   One of the stories I heard about Michelangelo was a visit to Saint Peter’s Cathedral in Rome to see ‘The Pieta’.   The story goes that they  waited in line for 4 hours just to view.  When the viewing time was up, they  got back in line for four more hours.   Michelangelo started the commission when he was 21.  The Pieta is the most revered and studied work of the Italian High Renaissance.   It was carved from a single slab of marble and depicts the body of Christ in the arms of his mother Mary after the crucifixion.  We are face to face not only with pain as a condition of redemption but also absolute beauty as one of its consequences.  Mary’s grief becomes resignation, as if to say , here.

In Michelangelo’s late life, he devoted himself almost entirely to architecture and poetry.  He became one of the most inventive and influential architects of his time.  His poetry ran among the greatest literary creations of the renaissance but it was the Sistine chapel that showed his eternal patience.

The Vatican's Sistine Chapel

Michelangelo was originally commissioned to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling with 12 Apostles against a starry sky, but lobbied for a different and much more complex scheme, representing creation, the Downfall of Man, the prophets, the Genealogy of Christ and the Promise of Salvation.  By the final year of completion, Michelangelo grew frustrated with church clergy and included many subtle marks of his anger in the chapels painting.

Be nice to the artists.


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