The Risen Christ by Mary Elizabeth Podles

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 still another. Finally completed in 1521, the sculpture is one to which the critics have not been entirely kind.

Classical Pose with Christian Resonance

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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.

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