The Pieta di Palestrina: A Sculpture's Story from Michelangelo to Mussolini

CGS Brown Bag Lecture Series
Apr 10, 2013
01:15 PM to 02:15 PM
206 Burrowes

Pierette Kulpa, Art History, Penn State

The Pietà di Palestrina, an unfinished marble sculpture group in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, was, from 1756 to the mid-1960s, celebrated as one of the late masterpieces of the great Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564). But on the eve of the 400th anniversary of Michelangelo’s death the sculpture was internationally “de-attributed.” Since then the Pietà has been an overlooked orphan, ignored and dejected, despite its ability to shed light on major moments in Italian history. Sculptural trends and patronage practices of the family to first own the sculpture, the Barberini, will be explored for what they tell us about the reputation of Michelangelesque sculpture after that artist’s death. The modern life of the sculpture is a tragic one starting with its abrupt removal in Palestrina, its display at the Circus Maximus, and the role of Italian fascists in manipulating the original meaning of the sculpture. Pierette’s talk will trace the origins of the sculpture up to the present day and come to terms with what the sculpture can tell us about its changing uses through time.

Pierette Kulpa is an advanced doctoral student in the Department of Art History at Penn State. The research for her dissertation has been supported by a grant from the Center for Global Studies, a Waddell Biggart fellowship and a Committee for Early Modern Studies Junior Scholar Fellowship at the Institute for Arts and Humanities. Her research interests include Fascist appropriation of art in Italy and the history of Michelangelo’s style and techniques.

This lecture is a part of the Center for Global Studies Brown Bag Graduate Lecture Series which focuses on interdisciplinary graduate research.

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