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

The Risen Christ (first version)

c. 1515
Marble, height 205 cm
Monastero San Vincenzo Martire, Bassano Romano

The wealthy Roman patrician Marta Porcari had provided in her will for the building and decoration of a new family chapel in Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. Metello Vari, one of her two sole heirs, probably contacted Michelangelo shortly after her death in 1512 to discuss with him the making of a statue with a framing aedicula. On June 14, 1514. Michelangelo signed a contract with Vari and his heirs to carve within four years a life-size sculpture of a standing nude Christ with a cross in his hand , in a posture to be determined by the artist. Michelangelo began work on the statue without having received an advance for the commission but put it on hold when he discovered that the marble had a black vein in the area of the face. Michelangelo left the unfinished statue behind when he returned to Florence from Rome in 1516.

In the autumn of 1517 Vari began pressuring Michelangelo to make the sculpture, whereupon the artist asked for an advance payment, received it and had a new marble block brought from Carrara in 1518. In the following year he worked on the second version of the statue, which was close to completion in January 1520. In March it was taken to Rome, where Michelangelo's assistant Pietro Urbano was entrusted with the installation of the statue as well as the completion of several parts that the master had not finished himself. Some of Urbano's work was unsatisfactory, and it was reworked by the sculptor Federigo Frizzi, who was also responsible fro the creation of the tabernacle. The statue was installed at a pillar to the left of the altar in October 1521 and unveiled in late December of the same year.

Michelangelo presented the first, unfinished version of the Risen Christ to Vari as a gift. It was later completed by the young Gian Lorenzo Bernini and was recently discovered in the church of San Vincenzo Martire in Bassano Romano.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.