Michelangelo’s Three Pietàs come face to face in Florence

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“No one thinks how much blood it will take” is a subtitle Michelangelo’s Three PietasA very influential, small and important exhibition at the Opera del Duomo Museum in Florence. Michelangelo carved a quote from Dante in Pieta’s painting to express his own difficulties. His portrayal of the Virgin Mary, who supports the body of the dead Christ in a concentrated manner, maps his artistic and spiritual evolution: the famous, classically beautiful of St. Peters, who established his reputation. Early ones (1498-99). The distorted, mysterious, four-digit Bandini Pieta (1547-55) of the Duomo Museum. And (intentionally?) The unfinished Rondanini Pieta was kept secret until his death in 1564, and in our eyes was a masterpiece of modern fragmentation.

Michelangelo, who works on Bandini, wondered what he was doing “at the wrong concept and at great risk to my soul to sculpt the sacred here.” During the pandemic, Florence had the opportunity to accumulate dust for centuries and clean up and restore the delicate colors of marble and the works that obscured the patina. Glittering, it returns to the Tribuna Gallery, adjacent to a loan from the Vatican for a plaster model of St. Peter and Ronda Nini Pietas. The three works face each other in an intimate close-up presentation. This is a unique opportunity to consider the trio together. St. Peter’s Basilica is located behind bulletproof glass (since the 1972 attack), much closer than Rome and accessible at eye level. It is especially attractive to explore the connection between Bandini and Ronda Nini in Milan. (The show version will travel there in the fall.)

Bandini Pietà (1547-55) © Vatican Museums; Ela Bialkowska / OKNOstudio

At the entrance of the Florentine group stands a wooden “Magdada” by Donatello. This is an important example of the expressive realism of older artists, the power that shapes Michelangelo. You’ll also pass by Ghiberti’s glittering bronze door, engraved with animated fluid figures, which Michelangelo brilliantly named the “Gate of Paradise.” The context shows the absorbed and transformed effect — emphasizing the original genius of Pietà and the strangeness of the genius after Michelangelo was very reluctant to show. Vasari, who was barred from entering, glanced at Bandini from the artist’s door one night. When Michelangelo saw him looking into him, he dropped his lamp and said, “Soon I will fall like this lantern and my light will go out.”

3 pieta About the light in the dark. A brilliant spotlight shines in Michelangelo’s work, which invented the suffering, the redemption of love, and perhaps the iconography of faith. Invented in the sadness of a pandemic, the Florentine exhibition is inevitably now related to the war in Europe. Timothy Verdon of Monsignor, director of the Duomo Museum, said Mary holding her deceased son seems to be evoking “the personal suffering of a mother holding a child without knowing if the child will survive.” I am. The swarming Bandini figures are reminiscent of families evacuating to the bombed basement. The Lamentation of Christ in Pieta, Rome, represents all the young soldiers killed. This is because it is modeled after the ancient relief of a warrior carried after a heroic death in battle.

At the request of Cardinal Bierre, an enlightened diplomat, St. Peter’s Basilica marks the moment of convergence between classical and Christian thinking in the rediscovery of antiques. In naturalism and elegance, the figure shows Michelangelo’s study of anatomy through the drawing of life, anatomy, and attention to ancient models. The body of Christ is the body of the Greek god, physically perfect as if sleeping, and hardly invaded by torture or death. This makes Mary’s expression psychologically possible. She is not the mother of a 33-year-old corpse, but the Virgin Annunci, who looks young. With her eyes down, a veil covers her face, as if staring at a sleeping baby.

Cast of St. Peter’s Basilica (Original: 1498-99) © Vatican Museums; Ela Bialkowska / OKNOstudio

Michelangelo called the Roman Pieta the “image of the heart.” Although small wooden German renderings appeared in the Middle Ages, it was Michelangelo, at the pinnacle of youthful ambition and self-confidence, who always defined the motif of the mother supporting her dead son. Mary’s pyramid structure, which protects Christ in proportions and robes, forms pockets of light and shadow, conveying harmony, peace and acceptance.

Rethinking the subject in the 70’s, Michelangelo’s impetus was different. He created Bandini Pieta for his tomb and carved his character in the face of Nicodemus, a giant who supports others. Michelangelo complains that the stone is “filled with impurities” and adds to his pain in the work, but all four numbers are carved from a single block of 2,700 kg of marble. He was frustrated and broke part of it.

The melancholy here is miserable. The crumpled Christ is no longer a victory for the human body, but has fallen, his left foot is missing, and his right foot is broken. The geometry of the figurative relationship, the cross of tenses, implies pain and suspicion. Mary’s expression and her gestures are distraught, and her arms can barely bear the weight of her son. The fourth person, Mary Magdalene, looks away, dissociates, and disbelieves her. Rilke screams in his poem “Pieta” in response to this vision of alienation. “Jesus, when was our time? Now, strangely, we perish together.”

It’s unclear if this was Michelangelo’s intention. After the banker Francesco Bandini bought the piece, his assistant “replaced” his limbs and “completed” Magdalene’s face. But what becomes clear here is how Bandini’s fierce grief prepared for the smaller, condensed Ronda Nini’s greater extreme vulnerabilities and imperfections.

Rondanini Pieta Cast (Original Unfinished, 1552-64) © Vatican Museums; Ela Bialkowska / OKNOstudio

The pose of Nicodemus gives rise to Mary’s supportive attitude. The distressed connection between the Bandini Quartets creates a fusion of two Ronda Nini figures, her mother and son. The drapery is gone, simplified, and the body is almost dematerialized and abstracted. Alongside the stand, strangely, the limbs that move freely. The restlessness is obvious.

Michelangelo worked on this meditation on art and mortality until his death. The interpretation is Henry Moore’s “most moving sculpture” ever made from “Christ with another person on top, sticking, rough and unfinished”, which officially catalogs his possessions. There are various things up to the celebration. “Rondanini Pieta has Michelangelo’s 89-year life .. The kind of quality you get in a really great old man’s job. They can be simplified. They can be excluded.”

The Duomo’s catalog asserts Christian hope, but it does not have to be religious to feel the power of eddy. Non-finite Slow way. The final Pieta expresses uncertainty and struggle, and its love and pain are endless.

Until August 1st duomo.firenze.it

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