Crafted in the late 15th century, the Pietà remains one of the most beloved sculptures in the world. Here, we take a look at this piece in order to understand how its iconography, history, and artistic characteristics have shaped such an important legacy.
By 1400, the tradition had reached Italy, where Renaissance artists adapted it as marble sculpture—and Michelangelo made his mark with his unprecedented rendition.
Although the pietà most often shows the Virgin Mary holding Jesus, there are other compositions, including those where God the Father participates in holding Jesus (see gallery below). In Spain the Virgin often holds up one or both hands, sometimes with Christ’s body slumped to the floor.
Pietà is one of the three common artistic representations of a sorrowful Virgin Mary, the other two being Mater Dolorosa (Mother of Sorrows) and Stabat Mater (here stands the mother).   The other two representations are most commonly found in paintings, rather than sculpture, although combined forms exist. 
Both young Michelangelo and his incredible sculpture became famous almost immediately after the PietaвЂ™s completion as word of his sculpture spread. Everyone flocked to see his masterpiece, especially other artists who wanted to examine his work up close, in search of the smallest of flaws. One of Michelangelo’s biographers, Giorgio Vasari, summarised contemporary opinion of the Pieta stating, вЂњIt is certainly a miracle that a formless block of stone could ever have been reduced to a perfection that nature is scarcely able to create in the flesh.вЂќ The Pieta came to be regarded as one of the world’s greatest masterpieces of sculpture, вЂњa revelation of all the potentialities and force of the art of sculptureвЂќ. In 1964, the Pieta was lent by the Vatican to the New York WorldвЂ™s Fair. People waited hours before finally being able to view the Pieta from a conveyor belt that passed by the sculpture. The Pieta was subsequently returned to the Vatican after the WorldвЂ™s Fair.
Throughout the ages, the Pieta has not only withstood the test of time but has become even more famous despite the damages the statue has endured. During a move in the 1700вЂ™s, four fingers on the Virgin MaryвЂ™s left hand were broken. They were subsequently restored by Giuseppe Lirioni in 1736 amid some criticism that he had taken a few liberties with the restoration. However, such damage to the sculpture seems inconsequential in comparison to the brutal violence it endured on May 21, 1972, when a mentally-disturbed geologist jumped the railing at St. PeterвЂ™s Basilica and attacked the Pieta with a geologistвЂ™s hammer. He managed to inflict twelve blows to the sculpture before he was finally stopped. In the aftermath, the Virgin MaryвЂ™s left arm had been severed at the elbow, an eyelid had been chipped, a piece of her nose was missing and one of her cheeks was damaged.
The Pietà (Italian: [pjeˈta] ; English: “The Pity” ; 1498–1499) is a work of Renaissance sculpture by Michelangelo Buonarroti, housed in St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City. It is the first of a number of works of the same theme by the artist. The statue was commissioned for the French Cardinal Jean de Bilhères, who was a representative in Rome. The sculpture, in Carrara marble, was made for the cardinal’s funeral monument, but was moved to its current location, the first chapel on the right as one enters the basilica, in the 18th century.  It is the only piece Michelangelo ever signed.
In 2019, a small terracotta figure identified as a model for the final sculpture was displayed in Paris. 
9. Among the most difficult damage to repair was Mary’s eyelid, which took approximately 20 tries before the restorers got it right.
5. Its trip to the World’s Fair was the first time the statue had left Rome since its inception. The precious cargo in its triple packing crate weighed in at just under six tons.