Three scans for three pietàs

21 Oct 2022
Mila Albert

Three historical plaster casts of three undisputed masterpieces: the pietàs by Michelangelo. Gathered in the evocative space of the Sala delle Cariatidi at Palazzo Reale in Milan, now they also boast the Unique Virtual Image made by the 3D scanning of our Artmen.

One moment, three sculptures, same artist: the pietàs by Michelangelo. Tales carved by the Florentine artist’s hands over three stages of his career and very different outcomes that depict, besides the tragic episode, his artistic and human growth.

As of today, the historical plaster casts of the three pietàs by Michelangelo, the Pietà (1498-1499), the Bandini Pietà, (1547 – 1555), and the Rondanini Pietà (1552-1564) are exhibited side by side at “The Pietà by Michelangelo. Three historical plaster casts in the Sala delle Cariatidi” at Palazzo Reale in Milan.

This extraordinary mounting appears consistent with the one in the now-closed exhibition at Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence. AerariumChain, in partnership with Scuola Beato Angelico’s restorers (Re.BA), had the great responsibility of creating the 3D scans of the three artworks to document their state of conservation, and objectively and extensively fill the Condition Reports.

The history

The three plaster casts, very exact copies of the original statues, create a unique and touching comparison between different aspects of the same topic through which Michelangelo’s growth and interior drama reveal themselves.

The Pietà (1498-1499) is the first sculpture carved by a barely twenty-year-old Michelangelo. The tragic nature of the moment depicted becomes less important compared to the beauty of young Mary and the prime smoothness of the marble.

The second one, the Bandini Pietà (​​1547-1555), at Opera del Duomo in Florence, was carved by an elderly Michelangelo and expresses great artistic maturity, as well as his suffering: in the late 1940s Michelangelo engaged in an almost obsessive reflection on grief, death and faith, and this work, designed for his funeral monument, was accidentally damaged and irreparably hammered by Michelangelo himself.

And finally, his last artwork: the unfinished Rondanini Pietà (1552-1565), exhibited at Castello Sforzesco in Milan: the sculpture embodies the nature of the last stages of Michelangelo’s career, who abandoned the ideal of beauty of the first statue to embrace the material and tragic realism. The portrait of pain conceived as two souls, Mary’s and Jesus’, merging into one last tender embrace.

Three plaster casts made to guide the restoration of the original statues, now fragile due to the perishability of the raw material and therefore subject to increased monitoring. On top of that, 3D scans, made by AerariumChain’s Artmen at Palazzo Reale, will generate a Unique Virtual Image of each artwork, providing a perfect digital fingerprint of its state of conservation to draw up an extremely objective and detailed Condition Report.

The nature of the Pietà, carved multiple times by Michelangelo, shows itself for the first time in this exhibition and thanks to the Artmen’s work will live forever unaltered.


Pietà, pietàs
michelangelo, Milan, pietas, Royal Palace

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