Michelangelo and the Pietà’s

The theme of the Lamentation over the dead Christ reappears several times in Michelangelo’s art. The great Tuscan sculptor executed his first Pietà, commissioned by Cardinal Jean de Bilhères de Lagraulas, abbot of Saint-Denis, between 1498 and 1499. The only signed work by Michelangelo, the group is kept in St. Peter's and shows a very young Virgin holding the recently deceased body of Christ on her lap.

The deposition housed at the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence and known also as the Bandini Pietà, on the other hand, was meant to decorate the tomb of the sculptor. In 1553, dissatisfied with the still roughly hewn group of Nicodemus, the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene gathered around the deposed Christ, the artist demolished it. The fragments were gifted to a banker, Francesco Bandini, who charged the sculptor Tiberio Calcagni with recomposing the group. Mary Magdalene is entirely the work of Calcagni, while Nicodemus is considered to be a self-portrait by Michelangelo.