Column: A Thousand Words

The Risen Christ by Michelangelo Buonarotti

 by Mary Elizabeth Podles

Perhaps the least known of Michelangelo's sculptures, the Risen Christ has had a checkered history. Metello Vari, a well-to-do Roman, in 1514 commissioned a nude standing Christ holding the cross (pretty daring for the Dominican home church at the time). Michelangelo started carving it in 1515 but discovered every sculptor's nightmare, a disfiguring flaw concealed within the block, a vein of black that would have run directly through Christ's face. The first version had to be abandoned, but a contract is a contract, and as time ran out, the final working was entrusted to an assistant so incompetent that he had to be removed and the finishing entrusted to . . .

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Mary Elizabeth Podles is the retired curator of Renaissance and Baroque art at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. She and her husband Leon, a Touchstone senior editor, have six children and live in Baltimore, Maryland.


more on art from the online archives

33.2—March/April 2020

Christ Chapel at Hillsdale

An Architectural Sign of Mere Christianity by Michael Ward

30.3—May/June 2017

St. Luke the Evangelist

by Mary Elizabeth Podles

32.4—July/August 2019

Sojourner Knight

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