Michelangelo’s Pieta is one of the most celebrated masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance and one of the most admired works in the world. Created by the artistic genius of Michelangelo Buonarroti, this sculpture inspires wonder and admiration in those who contemplate it because of its extraordinary beauty and profound emotional expression.
Placed in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, it is a popular destination for tourists worldwide. The curiosities and anecdotes related to this sculpture offer a more intimate and personal look at Michelangelo’s life and art.
Michelangelo’s Pieta: the work
The Pieta was created by Michelangelo between 1498 and 1499 when the artist was only twenty-four years old. A group of cardinals commissioned it to adorn the chapel of Santa Petronia in the Vatican in honor of French Cardinal Jean de Bilhères. It soon became famous for its artistry and profound expression of sorrow and compassion.
The composition develops pyramidally, giving the impression that the figures stretch toward the sky. Notice the ideal beauty of the faces, typical of the Renaissance age, and the naturalness and softness with which the bodies rest on each other.
The body of the Virgin Mary appears slightly more extensive than that of Jesus to recall the childhood of the late Savior. In contrast, Mary’s face appears very young, which symbolizes the timeless beauty of the woman.
Michelangelo’s Pieta: curiosities and anecdotes
Some fascinating curiosities and anecdotes are associated with Michelangelo’s Pieta. For example, people say that Michelangelo, so proud of his work, hid himself to listen to the viewers’ reactions after completing it.
In addition, the sculpture is unique among Michelangelo’s works because it is the only one in which the artist engraved his signature on the ribbon that the Virgin holds on her robe: “MICHAELANGELVS BONAROTVS FLORENTINVS FACIEBAT,” meaning “The Florentine Michelangelo Buonarroti made it.” It is said that the artist’s choice to make this engraving was due to some visitors who, having come to admire the statue, did not believe it was his work.
In 1972, during the Pentecost celebrations, the statue suffered a severe episode of vandalism: a man armed with a hammer hit the sculpture, causing significant damage to the Virgin Mary’s left arm, nose, and eyelids. Despite careful restoration, the work still shows the scars of its vandalism.
Michelangelo’s Pieta: visiting hours and prices
Michelangelo’s Pieta sits inside St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, in the Chapel of the Pieta. This chapel, to the right of the basilica’s main entrance, offers a place of great spirituality and devotion. The work resides in a side altar, protected by a glass case to preserve it from environmental damage.
It is possible to view the artwork during the opening hours of the basilica. However, because of its status as a masterpiece and the many visitors, you may have to wait in line to enter the Pieta Chapel.
Admission to the basilica is free, but you can purchase a ticket for a guided tour or book a tour to avoid long waits. Prices may vary depending on the type of visit and any inclusions, such as access to the dome or the Crypt of the Popes.
You must attend Michelangelo’s Pieta if you love art and spirituality. Plan your visit so you can admire this masterpiece unhurriedly, letting yourself be captivated by the artistry and emotional depth of the work. Rely on our private transfer services in Rome and create with us a personalized tour that takes into account all your needs so that you can enjoy this experience to the fullest.