Michelangelo's Pieta

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Maggy McLaughlin
Art 204
Project #2: Form & Meaning
December 15, 2009

Michelangelo’s Pieta

Michelangelo’s version of the Pieta is very different from the other versions from his time. He not only used Northern ideals that hadn’t reached Italy yet, but Michelangelo carved his Pieta with less pain and more serenity. A piece of marble was chosen and turned into a masterpiece by Michelangelo that many people see as a significant piece of work for his era. Both Mary and Jesus are very realistic and detailed, giving the Pieta a truly humanistic look at classical beauty.

Through the shape, texture, and value, Mary and Jesus were created very humanistic. The sculpture altogether is in the shape of a triangle. The triangle shape was used to represent the Holy Trinity, symbolizing God being the three aspects of religion. The value of the shading on the Pieta affirmed the humanistic features of Mary and Jesus. Mary’s drapery falls down very smoothly but still shows that gravity is pulling it down with the shading and layers. Also, Jesus’ ribs are deeply indented to give a hue of how the light would have hit his ribs at the time. And lastly, the smooth texture of the entire sculpture gives it a presence of calm and harmony. Although Mary’s drapery is very detailed and almost gouged in some areas, the texture of the Pieta is very smooth with almost a look of softness. Michelangelo used formal elements like texture and shape to focus the viewers’ attention on the religious and tranquil aspect of the situation.

Mary was created larger than Jesus, knocking off the proportions, since at the time of the Crucifixion Mary should have been smaller than Jesus. The symbolism behind Mary’s large size empowers Mary and weakens Jesus. Even with the size ratio of Mary and Jesus, Michelangelo formed the two bodies in sync to create unity around the sculpture. The angle of Jesus’ body, his left arm resting on Mary’s lap, Mary looking down on her son, and the...
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