Pietà is a sculpture by Michelangelo Buonarroti, created between 1498 and 1499. It is a marble statue, measuring 183 cm × 305 cm (72 in × 120 in). It depicts the body of Jesus Christ on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion. The statue is now in St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City.
The Pietà is one of the most well-known works of art in the world. Michelangelo was only 24 years old when he sculpted this masterpiece. He signed the work on the sash running across Mary’s chest, which reads “MICHAELA(N)GELUS BONAROTUS FLORENTINUS FACIEBAT” (Michelangelo Buonarroti, Florentine, made this).
The Pietà is one of the few Michelangelo sculptures where he depicted Mary with a sorrowful expression. It is believed that Michelangelo’s own mother died when he was six years old, which may have influenced the creation of this work.
The Pietà was originally commissioned for the French Cardinal Jean de Bilhères, who was the Archbishop of Aix-en-Provence. It was to be placed in a chapel in the cardinal’s palace in Avignon. However, the cardinal died before the sculpture was finished, and Michelangelo brought the Pietà back to Florence with him.
In 1838, the Pietà was moved to its current location in St. Peter’s Basilica. It was placed behind bullet-proof glass after a failed attempt to destroy the statue with explosives in 1972.