Michelangelo Buonarroti, Pietà Bandini

Michelangelo Buonarroti
1547-1555 c.
Original location
Cathedral (formerly Rome, private collections)
White marble
Height: 277 cm; Width: 138 cm; Depth: 125 cm;
White marble

White Carrara marble sculpture depicting the Deposition of Christ between the Madonna, Magdalene and Nicodemus, famous work by Michelangelo Buonarroti. The elderly artist worked on it in Rome between approximately 1547 and 1555 as a monument for his own burial in a church in Rome, but left it unfinished and fragmented. The work was then partially restored and finished in some parts by his pupil, Tiberio Calcagni and sold to the Bandini family (hence the name). After some passages in other Roman collections, in 1671 it was finally purchased by Grand Duke Cosimo III de' Medici and taken to Florence. Initially placed in San Lorenzo, in 1722 it was moved to the Cathedral, to the back of the main altar, and then in 1933 it was placed in the chapel of Sant'Andrea. Since 1981 it has been located in the Opera Museum.The Pietà depicts with larger than life figures the dead body of Jesus supported by Nicodemus and placed in the arms of his mother Mary, while Magdalene supports his legs. In the face of Nicodemus, who Christian tradition believed to be a sculptor, Michelangelo, now seventy years old, depicted himself, as if to identify with his loving care of the body of Jesus and perhaps as a personal meditation on death: Nicodemus is in fact the character who in Gospel questions Jesus about the mystery of the resurrection of the bodies. The themes of death, burial and resurrection are combined with a typically Catholic reflection on the Eucharist: having to be positioned above an altar, the Pietà reiterated the concept that the body of Christ is truly present in the consecrated host and wine.

The inscription placed on the opposite wall recalls the transfer of the work from the Basilica of San Lorenzo to the Duomo in 1722.