Pietà, after Michelangelo
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910
Michelangelo's most famous marble sculpture, the Pietà, which Parmigianino would have seen in a small chapel at the southeastern corner of old St. Peter's Basilica, served as the inspiration for this drawing. In vivid contrast to Michelangelo's sculpture, Parmigianino transformed the Virgin Mary's passive acceptance of her son's death into a passionate and very physical grieving; she stares intently at her son and thrusts out her arm in anguish at her loss.
The artist's penmanship is wonderfully spare and free, capturing the softness of the flesh and flow of drapery with animated strokes of the pen.