13 Oct.-13 Jan. From wooden sculptures to Michelangelo.
A fascinating new exhibit in Milan’s central Sforza Castle traces the history of the Vesperbild – known in Italian as Pietà – the traditional image of the Virgin Mary cradling the body of Jesus after the crucifixion.
Although the scriptures contain no reference to such a moment, the deeply moving occasion became the subject of a popular iconography, starting in central Europe in the 14th century, with statues created in painted wood, plaster or terracotta.
The custom became widespread, above all in Germany’s Rhineland, and in northern parts of Italy. It culminated in the supreme work of Michelangelo, whose Pietà Vaticana in the 16th century was immediately recognised as a sublime work of art which marked a definitive model for later imitation.
The exhibit in Milan includes works by important Italian artists on loan from leading national and international galleries such as the Musée du Louvre, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum Frankfurt’s Liebieghaus, Milan’s Biblioteca Trivulziana and the Museo Poldi Pezzoli.
Housed in the castle’s Sale dell’Antico Ospedale Spagnolo, the exhibit is open, free of charge, from Tuesday to Sunday every week from 09.00 to 17.30.