The Death of Christ


1500-Pieta Michelangelo

So happy Good Friday everybody. This year we have looked at very different mediums; a photograph, woodcut, and now a sculpture.

This piece is the Pietá by Michelangelo. He did this piece when he was extremely young, in his early twenties, and it shows his genius at sculpture. Even though Michelangelo could paint and sculpt, he never thought of himself as a painter. He always said that he saw the things he wanted to make in the marble, that it was alive and spoke to him; all it wanting was to be freed.

1500-Pieta Michelangelo

This piece is amazing. First of all it is not proportionate and Mary is too young; but Michelangelo wanted to create the essence of the person rather than the actual, realistic self. So let’s talk first about Mary.

We have the youthfulness of when she was told by an angel that she would be the mother of Christ. She is distraught at the death of her son, that she is holding his body in her lap.

Her body os much larger than Jesus’ is as to mimic the way the mother could hold a small child, their baby; which even though Jesus is an adult he is still her baby. Mary’s stance also mimics the way that mother’s would give birth in that time, the birthing stool. So in birth and death she is with her child.

Now let’s look at Jesus:

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In his face we see no life in him, but that he died with a smile on his lips. He has fulfilled the plan of God and the great sacrifice; to save us and have us reign in heaven forever.

Also look at his body and hair, not to mention the folds of his clothes. They just look so real. As if they are two people under a cloth rather than carved out of marble.

Many people didn’t believe that Michelangelo created such an advanced piece of art, so he went back and signed his name in a large script. This is one of the few pieces to bear his signature.

“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”–Luke 23: 39-43

“At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)… Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink.”–Mark 15: 33-36

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”–John 19: 30

“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open…When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”–Matthew 27:51-54

“So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body…Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.”–Mark 15: 42-46

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For more Good Friday posts, go to The Lamentation of Christ

For the previous painting, go to The Arrest

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