Date ca. 1498
Movement High Renaissance
Dimensions height 68.2″
Housed at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
This work was commissioned by a French cardinal to adorn his tomb chapel near St. Peter’s; Michelangelo promises in his contract to create “the most beautiful work of marble in Rome”. While most pietas aimed to portray the harsh, gruesome realities of the Crucifixion, Michelangelo instead conveys a solemn calmness, emphasized in part by the stabilizing triangular form that the figures create.
The Virgin appears incredibly young – her youth was intentionally portrayed so as to imply her eternal purity; her youth and calmness are further imposed by the high-buff finish given by Michelangelo. After confusion spread over the identity of this work’s creator, Michelangelo carved his name into the Virgin’s sash.