(b. 1475, Caprese, d. 1564, Roma)

Pietà Rondanini (unfinished)

Marble, height 195 cm
Castello Sforzesco, Milan

The last sculpture of the artist, it remained unfinished when he died.

More than half a century separates this work from the Pietà in San Pietro, half a century of artistic evolution are here recognizable in their extreme poles. But this also marks the development undergone by the whole European culture: from the Renaissance, from the revival of Antiquity and the rediscovery of nature, to the splitting up of the Christian Church, the return of faith after the Counter Reformation and the Manneristic art of an El Greco. Only the figures of this Spanish artist, glowing signs of faith, can in some way be compared to the work which Michelangelo fashioned up to six days before his death: the Pietà Rondanini.

According to Vasari, he had already begun to work on it in 1555, before smashing the Florentine Pietà. He destroyed the first version of this, too, as can be seen in the second face of Christ in the final version. This version, still unfinished at the sartist's death, was probably begun not much later then 1555. The unity between Mother and Son is even more intimate. It is almost impossible to tell whether it is the Mother supporting the Son, or the Son supporting the Mother, overcome by despair. Both are in need of help, and both hold themselves up in the act of invocation and lament before the world and God.