Wandering Bard: Italy (La Pietà)

Posted: February 10, 2012 in Art, Wandering Bard
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

This is a new series that I’ve decided to start called “Wandering Bard.” I’ve been to a few countries outside of the United States, and I’ve been lucky enough to visit some pretty spectacular places. I wanted to combine my love for travel with my love for history and art. Thus, “Wandering Bard” was born. In this series I’m going to pick one place or artwork per post and give you a little history on it, some cool facts, and my personal experiences. I know a lot of people hate learning about history and art, but I’ve always loved it. I hope I can keep these posts short, fresh, and fun, and that’ll you’ll be able to appreciate things you never thought you would!

So, in your mind why don’t you hop on a nice comfy plane, lean back, and envision your destination: Italy. When I was a freshman in college, I was lucky enough to find an opportunity to visit Italy and Greece. This was (and still is, in a way) my dream trip. For someone who is obsessed with Greek and Roman mythology, classical art, and Renaissance art, these two countries were THE place to go. I had to do a whole lot to get there (like, nabbing the absolute last two spots for me and my best friend, borrowing A LOT of money, and then taking an entire summer to repay the debt), but it was worth it! This remains my favorite trip.

Okay, we’ve landed! Quick trip, huh?

Let’s start off with one of my favorite places in the world and one of my favorite pieces of art. We’re standing in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City right now:

This is the dome of the Basilica, found in Vatican City

And we’re staring at this beauty:

It's a little blurry, but I had to take the picture standing behind a crowd of people while holding the camera over my head. Good thing I'm so tall!

This is called La Pietà (“The Pity”) and it was created by Michelangelo. It shows the Virgin Mary holding Jesus after he has died. Now, this is not an original concept – it has been used over and over again in paintings and sculpture from all sorts of artists from before and after Michelangelo’s time. Most of these are also titled La Pietà. But, in my opinion, this is the best example of this subject. (I’m biased. Michelangelo is one of my favorite artists of all time.)


– The overall pyramidal shape represents the Trinity (pyramid = triangle = 3 sides = 3 members of the Holy Trinity)

– Michelangelo depicted Mary as a young woman, instead of the mature mother that was the norm. This represents her purity as the Virgin Mother.

– Both Jesus and Mary are serene. They don’t symbolize the pain of death, but the acceptance of death.

Cool Facts:

– Michelangelo was 23 when he made this.

– It took one year for him to finish.

– This is made out of a single piece of marble.

– This is the only work he signed – and he signed it because no one believed he had made it.

– Mary and Jesus are actually disproportionate to each other (she’s much larger than he is).

Why I Love It:

There are a lot of reasons why I love this sculpture so much. The most obvious one is the beauty – this is just incredible to see in person. You forget that it’s made out of solid stone, and that he had to chisel it away in order to create what you see before you. The fluidity of the rock and exactness of the anatomy are breathtaking.

I also like this because it just goes to show that amazing people know no limitations. Who cares if he was only 23? He was talented, and this was just the beginning of an amazing career for him. It makes me sit back and realize that there’s nothing holding me back but myself. If Michelangelo can carve this thing at 23, can’t I publish a book at 23? I think so!!

So, what about you guys? How do you like the series so far? I have a lot of material to choose from, so I hope you stick around for this one. We’ll be jumping all over the place and I’ll try to put in a little something for everyone.

  1. Belle of Mountains says:

    Lovely! I’ve always wanted to go to Italy. Looking forward to the next “virtual blog-trip”. 🙂

  2. Debra Kristi says:

    I keep getting promised that we will go someday. Yah, yah. LOL We’ve cancelled two trips already. Now we have two kids an now money. 😦 Maybe we can sell the kids for the travel money. Just kidding!

    • Karen Rought says:

      Oh, boy! I wouldn’t recommend that one, as tempting as it is! I hope you get to go one day. Italy has been far and above my favorite country to visit. I’ve always gone with EF Tours and I will recommend them until the world ends. They are a fantastic company to work with and we always have the same tour guide – he’s fabulous!

  3. Thanks for sharing. Great post! Michaelangelo was SO talented. Apparently he considered he was simply releasing the sculptures from within the stone. One awesome artist.

  4. […] Wandering Bard: Italy (La Pietà) […]

  5. […] statue is undeniable. This is from Ancient Greece, so it’s well before the masterpiece we saw last time, yet it seems just as beautifully carved and […]

  6. […] Read about some of my time in Italy, which includes when I saw La Pietà in person! […]

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