The Passion of Christ

The Pietá

The word Pietá (pity) will usually bring Michelangelo's sculpture in St. Peter's  Rome to mind.  This image, with the dead Christ lying on the lap of the Virgin, is what is generally understood  by Pieta. It counterpoints the familiar image of the Virgin holding the child Jesus. 

Giovanni Bellini
Galleria Borghese, Rome

 The Pietá is particularly familiar in sculpture, but let's have a look at some examples in painting. 

Giovanni Bellini
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

Lucas Cranach
Moravská Galerie, Brno

 The central image is of the dead Christ supported by Mary, but other figures such as Mary Magdelene or St John may appear, as here.

Lorenzo Lotto
Brera, Milan

El Greco
Museum of Art, Philadelphia

  Generally, art labelled 'Pietá' shows the Virgin Mary supporting Christ, but not always: In this painting by Bellini he is supported by angels, and in the sculpture by Baccio  Bandinelli it is Joseph of Arimathea. 

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