Celebrating Holy Week With Pietà by Michelangelo

Michelangelo's Sculpture - Photography by Jerry Swanson Photography

As Christians we celebrate Holy Week, this week. Many of us will gather with family and friends for Easter and/or visit our local church to attend services. But how many us will take the time to notice or reflect on the artistry or sculptures used in the church we attend? Will we be fortunate enough to also see a spectacular sculpture, like this one by Michelangelo and take in its true meaning?


Created by fine craftsman, carpenters and artists.

As many of you may know, Jerry has spent numerous hours behind a camera photographing an architect’s or contractor’s latest church or synagogue. Many of these assignments challenge him to depict and showcase the use of key building elements used within interiors or on exteriors. Yet, even if not asked, Jerry will always try to capture key stain glass windows, sculptures, or other artistry used in the space that complements the architect's or contractor’s work. Why? Because we know that behind each element used in a church or synagogue, this element exists to tell a story or help us reflect and remember a historical moment or time in the church or synagogues history. Yes, we can say it is symbolism - but it is also the making of a beautiful piece of art or functional element that has been created by a fine craftsman, carpenter, or artist.

(C) 2017 Jerry Swanson Photography

Exclusive License to Recreate Michelangelo’s Pietà

Photographing Michelangelo’s Pietà was one of Jerry’s favorite assignments. This replicated sculpture, located within the Cathedral of Saint Paul in Saint Paul, Minnesota is a 1:1 casting of the original located in St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City. Created in 1498 – 1499, the Pietà is regarded as one of the world’s great sculpture masterpieces. Churches throughout the world contract with David Newren, President and Founder of ArtDevine to have this sculpture and many other masterpieces recreated. Using an exclusive license from the Vatican Observatory Foundation, the ArtDevine team recreates a particular masterpiece in cast marble or bronze from an authorized mold derived from the original.

The Only Michelangelo Ever Signed

The sculpture was commissioned for the French Cardinal Jean de Bilhères, who was a representative in Rome. The original Carrara marble sculpture was made for the cardinal’s funeral monument, but moved to its current location in the basilica in the 18th century. Known as the only sculpture ever signed by Michelangelo, you can see the artist’s attention was focused on evoking the ideal of spiritual beauty during the Italian Renaissance period. It is a testament to the artist's abiding love of God and the continued source of his inspiration. Michelangelo’s ability to capture Mary’s face with such grace, as she looks upon Christ, continues to stand as an icon for the Christian faith.


Cast Marble Sculpture Details the Balance Between the Renaissance Ideals With Naturalism

When photographing this famous work of art, Jerry captured the sculpture’s details on the body of Jesus and showed the gracefulness of how Christ rests on the lap of his mother Mary, after the Crucifixion. You will also notice the details within the hands and feet when visiting the sculpture – some of the most exquisite we have seen in a sculpture of this size.

Surely we all will agree that Michelangelo's interpretation of the Pietà is unprecedented in Italian sculpture. After doing some additional research I found out the theme of the sculpture is of Northern origin, popular at that time in France, but not yet in Italy. Thus this is why it is such an important work and the fact that Michelangelo is able to balance the Renaissance ideals of classical beauty with naturalism.

In closing, we celebrate Holy Week with a quick look at Jerry’s photography of this great masterpiece in hope that it helps us all reflect on God's abiding love for all of us - including we photographers and artists.

You can see more of Jerry's work at swansonphoto.com


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