pietà (michelangelo) theme
In this sculpture, the Virgin Mary is presented as a young woman, which is rather different form the other versions. For instance, her youth is a symbol of her purity, although some people believe that it is quite strange how she can appear young despite her age and physical maturity.
Other scholars argue that the viewer of this statue is indeed looking at the serene image of Mary as she holds the child Jesus. Furthermore, the youthful appearance and features of Mary is coupled with the delicate position of her arms that could suggest the fact that she is cradling her child while the viewer sees the future of Christ in this image.
The Madonna is represented as being very young for the mother of an approximately 33-year-old son, which is not uncommon in depictions of the Passion of Christ at the time. Various explanations have been suggested for this. One is that her youth symbolizes her incorruptible purity, as Michelangelo himself said to his biographer and fellow sculptor Ascanio Condivi:
Do you not know that chaste women stay fresh much more than those who are not chaste? How much more in the case of the Virgin, who had never experienced the least lascivious desire that might change her body? 
In 1497, a young Michelangelo was commissioned by French Cardinal Jean de Bilheres Lagraulas to create вЂњthe most beautiful work of marble in Rome, one that no living artist could betterвЂќ, for the cardinalвЂ™s future tomb in Old St. PeterвЂ™s Basilica. Few will argue that Michelangelo not only rose to the CardinalвЂ™s challenge with the Pieta but also managed to surpass it.
Creation of Adam is yet another impressive art work by Michelangelo, and you can see that above, with links to where you can buy a photographic print of it online, with great prices available.
The format of the Virgin bearing the body of Christ on her knees was standard until the 16th century, when, influenced by the Renaissance concern with logic and proportions, artists usually depicted Christ lying at the Virgin’s feet, with only his head propped against her knees. This form was adopted by Italian Baroque art and was passed on to Spain, Flanders, and Holland.
The theme, which has no literary source but grew out of the theme of the lamentation over Christ’s body, first appeared in the early 14th century in Germany. It soon spread to France and enjoyed great popularity in northern Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries. Although the Pietà remained mostly a Franco-German theme, its supreme representation is that completed by Michelangelo in 1499 and housed in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Influenced by the northern style, Michelangelo draped the figure of Christ across Mary’s lap. Through this pyramidal design and the details of his figures, Michelangelo created a scene that displayed at once agony, solemnity, and heroic resignation.
Michelangelo, Pieta, c. 1498-1500, marble
An examination of each figure reveals that their proportions are not entirely natural in relation to the other. Although their heads are proportional, the Virgin’s body is larger than Christ’s body. She appears so large that if she stood up, she would likely tower over her son. The reason Michelangelo did this was probably because it was necessary so that the Virgin could support her son on her lap; had her body been smaller, it might have been very difficult or awkward for her to have held an adult male as gracefully as she does. To assist in this matter, Michelangelo has amassed the garments on her lap into a sea of folded drapery to make her look larger. While this drapery serves this practical purpose, it also allowed Michelangelo to display his virtuosity and superb technique when using a drill to cut deeply into the marble. After his work on the marble was complete, the marble looked less like stone and more like actual cloth because of its multiplicity of natural-looking folds, curves, and deep recesses.