Monday, 13 February 2012

Michelangelo's "Pieta"

Despite my being a bit of a Philistine when it comes to actually understanding great art and what makes it great, some things just smack you upside the head and leaves you quaking at the knees and in no doubt of its greatness. That was absolutely the case when I walked into St. Peter's Basilica, turned right, and saw Michelangelo's "Pieta" of Mary holding the dead body of Christ.
Commissioned to Michelangelo in 1499, when he was all of TWENTY-THREE years old, it's a cliche but I just could not take my eyes off of this stunning sculpture.
There's the sheer technical mastery (check out the incredibly intricate folds of the clothing) and the utter realism (look at Christ's right shoulder and the way it "hangs" on Mary's hands - the body is so clearly dead and limp). Yet there's the magnificent composition and unity, with Mary grieving and yet having the strength to hold up her dead child. Wow, wow, and wow again. In going through my Rome pictures, I just keep coming back to Pieta over and over again and staring in wonder.