Palestrina Pietà

Michelangelo Buonarroti

Data sheet

  • Author: Michelangelo Buonarroti
  • Date: 1550 - 1560
  • Collection: SCULPTURE
  • Technique: Marble
  • Dimensions: h. 251 cm
  • Inventory: Inv. Scult. n. 1319

Michelangelo Buonarroti (attr.), Palestrina Pietà

This sculpture group portrays the Virgin and St John the Evangelist holding up the lifeless
body of Christ.
The Palestrina Pietà is the only large-scale sculpture attributed to Michelangelo that is not
cited in the sources or archival documents. The attribution to Michelangelo is accepted by
most scholars, although a few see some of the disproportion, the unusually graceful carving
and the somewhat flat relief as evidence that the work was carved by one of the master’s
students or followers. In particular, the flattening of the relief might be connected to the piece
of marble used, which was first carved in antiquity and originally an architectural element, as
is clear from the decorative foliate and egg-and-dart motifs on the back.
The work was previously displayed in the Barberini Chapel in the church of Santa Rosalia in
Palestrina, near Rome, although it is unknown how and when it arrived there.  Purchased by
the Italian State, thanks to a private donation, the sculpture came to the Galleria
dell’Accademia in 1939.

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