in the late 16th century. The basilica of St. Peter’s that we see today was completed in the early 17th century,
with the colonnade added by Bernini in 1656-7.
Plans of St. Peter’s as they developed from 1505
(Bramante’s at upper left) to 1657 (Bernini’s
colonnade at bottom).
View of St. Peter’s today.
Michelangelo began his career in Florence, where he spent some time in the household of Lorenzo de’
Medici. When the Medici were expelled from Florence, Michelangelo sought other patrons and eventually
went to Rome where he had connections to a banker from Florence who put him in touch with other
cardinals. The Pietà, which Michelangelo carved when he was about twenty-three years old, was done for
a French cardinal, and shows a subject that was common in France: Mary holding Jesus across her lap after
he was taken down from the cross (the Avignon Pietà in the Louvre is another example). Michelangelo’s
Pietà is emotionally restrained and Christ’s body curves gently around Mary’s creating a pyramidal
composition. Christ’s body is also idealized—the wounds shown as slight marks that hardly mar his perfect