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Michelangelo Buonarroti | Risen Christ, 1521


"The Risen Christ" - "Cristo della Minerva", also known as Christ the Redeemer or Christ Carrying the Cross, is a marble sculpture by the Italy High Renaissance master Michelangelo, finished in 1521.
It is in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome, to the left of the main altar.
The work was commissioned in June 1514, by the Roman patrician Metello Vari, who stipulated only that the nude standing figure would have the Cross in his arms, but left the composition entirely to Michelangelo.

Basilica di santa Maria sopra Minerva, Roma

Michelangelo Buonarrotti | Il risorto 1520

Michelangelo was working on a first version of this statue in his studio in Macello dei Corvi around 1515, but abandoned it in roughed-out condition when he discovered a black vein in the white marble, remarked upon by Vari in a letter, and later by Ulisse Aldrovandi.
A new version was hurriedly substituted in 1519-1520 to fulfil the terms of the contract. Michelangelo worked on it in Florence, and the move to Rome and final touches were entrusted to an apprentice, Pietro Urbano; the latter, however, damaged the work and had to be quickly replaced by Federico Frizzi at the suggestion of Sebastiano del Piombo.
The first version, rough as it was, was asked for by Metello Vari, and given him in January 1522, for the little garden courtyard of his palazzetto near Santa Maria sopra Minerva, come suo grandissimo onore, come fosse d'oro translated as "As his greatest honor, as if it were of gold", a mark of the esteem in which Michelangelo was held.
There it remained, described by Aldrovandi in 1556, and noted in some contemporary letters as apparently for sale in 1607, following which it was utterly lost to sight.

Michelangelo Buonarrotti | Il risorto 1520

In 2000 Irene Baldriga recognized the lost first version, finished in the early seventeenth century, in the sacristy of the church of San Vincenzo Martire, at Bassano Romano near Viterbo; the black vein is clearly distinguishable on Christ's left cheek.
It is now often called the Giustiniani Christ. The parts finished later are the "right hand, parts of the face and the back".
Despite all these problems, the second version impressed the contemporaries. Sebastiano del Piombo declared that the knees alone were worthy of more than the whole Rome, which William Wallace has called "one of the most curious praises ever sung about a work of art" Christ is shown by Michelangelo unclothed in a standing pose.

Michelangelo Buonarrotti | Il risorto 1520

A leg is flexed and the head turned back, according to the principle of contrapposto. Compared to the first version, the more active pose allows more varied impressions when the statue is seen from different angles, "not only activating the space around him, but also suggesting an unfolding story".
The first version was exhibited in the National Gallery, London in 2017, in the same room as a cast of the second version, drawings for it, and letter relating to it.

Michelangelo Buonarrotti | Il risorto 1520

Michelangelo Buonarrotti | Il risorto 1520

Michelangelo Buonarrotti | Il risorto 1520

Michelangelo Buonarrotti | Il risorto 1520

Michelangelo Buonarrotti | Il risorto 1520

Michelangelo Buonarrotti | Il risorto 1520

Michelangelo Buonarrotti | Il risorto 1520

Michelangelo Buonarrotti | Il risorto 1520

Michelangelo Buonarrotti | Il risorto 1520

Michelangelo Buonarrotti | Il risorto 1520

Michelangelo Buonarrotti | Il risorto 1520

Michelangelo Buonarrotti | Il risorto 1520

Michelangelo Buonarrotti | Il risorto 1520


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