Michelangelo Buonarroti 1475 – 1564

Madonna with child

marble (128 cm high) — 1501 Museum Church of Our Lady, Bruges

Michelangelo Buonarroti biography

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The man who would later become pope Pius III commissioned Michelangelo in 1501 to create a set of 15 sculptures for the Siena cathedral. Michelangelo accepted but soon started to argue with the commissioner and never finished the assignment. This finished sculpture was acquired in 1504 by a merchant from the prosperous Flemish city of Bruges, Jan van Moeskroen. His family gave it to the city of Bruges in 1516. It is the only work by Michelangelo that would ever reach the north-west of Europe.

This Madonna is different from most of its many predecessors because of how loosely Mary holds the child. The little one seems to be about to explore the world. Mary's gaze suggests she knows of the fate awaiting him.

Mary's oval-shaped face resembles the face of the Mary in Michelangelo's Pietà, so perhaps the master used the same model.

(Image source: derived from a photo made by Wikimedia Commons user Sailko, licensed as CC BY-SA 3.0. Original file.)

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