Pieta 1498-1500, Marble, St. Peter’s Vatican, Rome
Michelangelo was commissioned by French Cardinal Jean de Bilheres Lagraulas to complete this statue for his chapel where he would be buried. Michelangelo completed this work at 23, when it was finally put on display, no one could believe that such a novice sculptor had completed such a complex work. The Pieta depicts Jesus at a moment of complete angst and serenity as he lays across his mother’s lap. Mary was purposely made larger than Jesus so that she could be shown bearing his entire weight without seeming overwhelmed. In the details below, you can see the attention paid to their expressions. Mary is shown almost in meditation, drawing the viewer’s attention to why Jesus gave his life for everyone. Jesus’ face has an expression of peace and tranquility. There is no pain in his face and Michelangelo has chosen not to show his wounds, they are almost unnoticeable.
David, 1501-1504 Marble, Accademia, Florence
Michelangelo completed the statue of David at the age of 29. He received the commission from the Cathedral of Florence, it was intended to be a buttress decoration on the upper level of the building. Michelangelo received the massive stone from the work after it was rejected by two other artists. Because Michelangelo did not have the freedom to choose the stone he was going to use, he had to settle on David’s pose to make up for it’s large, narrow shape. From David’s expression, down to his toes, Michelangelo sculpted this massive 17 ft statue with excruciating purpose and detail. To start with, David’s piercing expression is meant to be appreciated from a distance. His gaze would of been protectively looking over Florence and outward toward the North. Instead of being shown in combat with Goliath, David’s stance leans back away from his foe in a moment of contemplation.