First Major Restoration of Michelangelo’s Florentine Pietà Completed

Michelangelo tackled the theme of la pietà (the death of Christ) throughout his career and the so-called ‘Bandini Pietà’ was one of his last works, created between 1547 and 1555, and conceived as a monument for his tomb. It remains unfinished.

On display at the Florence’s Opera Museum, the Bandini Pietà has just undergone a major restoration which has removed dust, plaster and wax accumulated on the surface that altered its exceptional plasticity, three-dimensionality and color.

The restoration revealed that the sculpture was made with defective marble due to the presence of numerous tiny cracks, in particular one on the base, which could be the reason why Michelangelo abandoned the work. This thesis is more plausible than the one that circulated before, that is, an elderly Michelangelo, dissatisfied with the result, tried to destroy it with a hammer. There’s no trace of such possible damage.

The restoration of the work also revealed that the huge block of marble on which Michelangelo carved what is one of his most intense and tormented masterpieces comes from the Medici quarries in Seravezza (Lucca), not in Carrara as previously thought.

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