Michelangelo’s Three Pietàs and Where to See Them

Home » Michelangelo’s Three Pietàs and Where to See Them

Michelangelo Buonarroti, or simply “Michelangelo”, was born in Arezzo on March 6, 1475, and died on February 18, 1564, in Rome. He is recognized as one of the greatest artists of all time. He was a painter, sculptor, architect, and also a poet. His best-known masterpieces are the David, Moses, the Sistine Chapel, the dome of St. Peter’s and the Pietà in the Vatican. Even today, almost 500 years after his death, his works continue to attract millions of visitors to Italy every year. However, many do not know that in reality, he created not one but three Pietàs, and they are all found in Italy.

The Vatican Pietà

The most famous sculptor of all time completed one of his greatest masterpieces, the Vatican Pietà, at the young age of just twenty. Michelangelo was commissioned by the French Ambassador to the Holy See to sculpt a grieving Virgin Mary holding Christ in her arms. From a single block of Carrara marble, the young artist carved one of the most exquisite sculptures the world has ever known. The original Pietà is kept in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It is not necessary to buy a ticket. The timetables are available on the Basilica’s official website.

The Bandini Pietà

Created in marble for his own tomb between the years 1547 and 1555, the Bandini Pietà’s four figures are finely sculpted and include a deceased Christ, the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Nicodemus who presumably removed Christ from the cross. Already an old man when he sculpted it, Michelangelo is said to have destroyed pieces of it in fits of anger and frustration (as noted by Giorgio Vasari). Today the viewer can easily see the flaws in Christ’s left arm and the missing right leg. Also known as La Pietà di Santa Maria del Fiore, the sculpture has been painstakingly restored in recent years and is located at the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence. Visit the official website of the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo for details.

La Pietà Bandini

The Rondanini Pietà

And last but certainly not least, we have the cast of what is known as the Pietà Rondanini. It was his last work before his death in 1564. It is an unfinished sculpture of Christ and the Virgin Mary and art critics agree that this version of the Pietà is a reflection of Michelangelo’s mortality. It is located in the Castello Sforzesco in Milan. Visit the Pietà Rondanini Museum‘s official website for details.