At Milan's Royal Palace, historical casts of Michelangelo's three Pieta's compared

In the Sala delle Cariatidi of Milan's Palazzo Reale, an exhibition compares the three historical nineteenth- and twentieth-century casts of Michelangelo's three Pietà.

From October 22, 2022 to January 8, 2023, the Sala delle Cariatidi of the Palazzo Reale in Milan will host the exhibition Le Pietà di Michelangelo. Three Historic Casts for the Sala delle Cariatidi, curated by Giovanna Mori, Domenico Piraina and Claudio Salsi, promoted and produced by the City of Milan-Cultura and organized by Palazzo Reale with the collaboration of Castello Sforzesco.

A collaboration between the City of Milan, the City of Florence and the Vatican Museums, the exhibition will allow the public to compare three nineteenth- and twentieth-century casts of Michelangelo’s three Pietà. In the form of their plaster casts, they now come to Milan, where they will be exceptionally reunited in an evocative setting designed by Massimo Chimenti. Three long canvases, unfolded the full height of the room, with great visual impact, will serve as a backdrop to the Pietae created by the sculptor in three different phases of his life.

The cast of the Vatican City’s Pieta of St. Peter ’s was made in 1975 inside the Vatican Museums’ Casts and Plaster Casts Laboratory by Ulderico Grispigni; the occasion for its creation came at a dramatic moment for the Pieta namely the 1972 act of vandalism to the sculpture’s damage, which made it necessary to prepare a new cast. The cast of the Pietà of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, the Bandini Pietà, preserved in the collection of the Florentine Gipsoteca of the Istituto d’Arte di Porta Romana, dates from around 1882 and is the work of Florentine moulder Oronzo Lelli. The cast of the Rondanini Pietà was commissioned in 1953 from Milanese moulder Cesare Gariboldi, with the intention of determining the best and safest location for the sculpture, which has been kept in the Castello Sforzesco since 1952, during the marble statue’s fitting tests. Now on display in the exhibition after careful cleaning, it is kept in the deposits of the Museum of Ancient Art.

On the occasion of the exhibition, careful documentary and iconographic research on the three Pietà was promoted, aimed at creating a visual narrative capable of presenting episodes in recent history that had Michelangelo’s sculptures as protagonists: restorations, installations and transfers immortalized by vivid testimonies such as period shots and films from important Italian archives and photo libraries that collaborated on the project.

“Thanks to the three precious casts, this spectacular exhibition, set up in one of the city’s most beautiful halls, will be able to tell visitors about the evolution of Michelangelo’s sensibility throughout his life,” said Tommaso Sacchi, Councillor for Culture of the City of Milan. “It will be a great thrill to be able to embrace all three Pietà at a single glance, and the comparison, in Milan, can be complemented by a visit to the Museum of the Rondanini Pietà at the Castello Sforzesco, where the original of the last Pietà, the one the Master worked on until the last days of his life, is located.”

The exhibition aims to focus visitors’ eyes on the maturing feelings of one of the greatest geniuses in art history, showing how a drama can achieve such different outcomes.

The catalog, published by Silvana Editoriale, features texts by the Scientific Committee and the curators and presents essays and fact sheets on Michelangelo’s three Pietàs, starting with the youthful Vatican Pietà, the Pietà of his maturity created for Florence Cathedral and finally the Rondanini Pietà, sculpted late in life and left unfinished.

For info:

Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Thursday 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Closed Mondays.

Free admission.

At Milan's Royal Palace, historical casts of Michelangelo's three Pieta's compared
At Milan's Royal Palace, historical casts of Michelangelo's three Pieta's compared

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