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Parmigianino (Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola; 1503–1540)
Pietà, after Michelangelo
Pen and dark brown ink, gray-brown wash, over black chalk, with some red chalk
11 7/16 x 8 1/2 inches (290 x 214 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910; I, 47
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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.

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.