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Michelangelo's Pietas

Michelangelo created a number of "Pietas" throughout his career (being a depiction of Mary cradling the recently executed Jesus). His best known Pieta (top picture) resides in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City. It was completed in 1499, when he would have been 24 years old. On the other hand. Michelangelo worked on the Rondanini Pieta (bottom picture) until the end of his life in 1564 (about the age of 89 years). It resides in Milan. Whether or not it should be considered finished is an open question. Much of his later work has this more abstract quality, which possesses a tendency to retain only the most essential details. Here, rather than cradling Jesus, as in the more conventional Pieta, Mary seems to be supporting Him in an upright position. His limbs are not quite up to the task, but His mother is there to help Him.

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