We recently went to the Courtauld Gallery to see Michaelangelo's Dream an exhibition centered on Michelangelo Buonarroti’s masterpiece, The Dream, regarded as one of the greatest of all Renaissance drawings.
This complex work shows a nude youth being roused by a winged spirit from the vices that surround him...
The Dream is thought to have been part of the celebrated group of drawings which Michelangelo made as gifts for Tommaso de' Cavalieri, a young Roman nobleman with whom he had fallen passionately in love.
With loans from international collections, the exhibition unites The Dream for the first time with these extraordinary drawings which include a range of subject material from the pagan to the sacred, including The Fall of Phaeton, the son of Helios the sun god (who was destroyed by a thunderbolt from Zeus for taking the chariot of the sun dangerously near the Earth) and The Rape of Ganymede, in which a similarly muscular youth to the one in The Dream is ravished by Jupiter in the form of an eagle...
The Risen Christ...
Good Friday, to another of his masterpieces, his Pietà...
Sculpted in 1499 and now housed in St Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, the work depicts the dead Christ, following his crucifixion, lying in the lap of his mother.
I find it amazing that an artist whose hands created such delicate artistry as the drawings shown above was, at the same time, capable of the the physical labour of liberating with chisel and mallet such a vivid image of poignancy hidden within the bulk of a vast chunk of marble.
There are many fascinating aspects to this sculpture which is so iconic that we almost fail to see it as it must have appeared to the first people to view it, not least the fact that the practical difficulty of presenting a female figure cradling the body of a full grown man means that the figure of Christ is sculpted to a different scale to that of the figure of his mother.
Also much discussed has been the Madonna's youthful appearance, for which a number of explanations - some theological, some literary - have been offered. One of the more fanciful - though unquestionably poetic - is that the sculpture creates an impression in the viewer's mind of a very different image: that of a nativity scene with Mary holding Jesus as a baby. So, it is suggested, Mary's youthfulness and her serene (and apparently unagonised) facial expression, coupled with the position of the arms suggest that she is seeing the once newborn child in the body of the now dead man...
Among Michelangelo's sculptures, the Pietà is unique because it is only one he ever signed - not when he carved it, but later on hearing that some of those who saw it thought it had been sculpted by one of his competitors.
Michaelangelo's Dream continues until 18 May at The Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN
Hours: Daily 10:00–18:00 (last admission 17:30)
Late Opening: Thursday 14 May: until 21:00
Admission: £5 (Adults) £4 (Concessions)
Photo of Michaelangelo's Pietà by Ralph46 of PBase.com. Other images uploaded via my flickr Photostream.