Sunday, December 17, 2023

The Risen Christ . . . Three Versions

Michelangelo was given a commission in 1514 by wealthy Roman Metello Vari to sculpt a piece to be called The Risen Christ.  The patron specifically requested a nude Christ, something which had to have been controversial, but the artist went for it.

Now what you see above is the original intended version, but it wasn't completed until about 50 years after Michelangelo's death.  While working on the first version, Michelangelo came across imperfections in the marble that caused him to start over.  Vari, the patron, asked for the incomplete statue and placed it in his garden.  Based on that and some drawings, the above was done.

The version above is the completed final statue, but it is not as Michelangelo or Metelli Vari had intended.  A floating bronze loincloth was added later at the insistence of the bishop in whose diocese the church housing it was located.  Despite the fact that it is removable, I have not been able to find a photo of the work without it, only copies.  Censorship bordering on vandalism is what I call it.  For some reason, Michelangelo revisited the risen Christ motif again in this drawing from 1532, about 10 years after the Vari commission was completed.



  1. I was able to see these at the National Gallery in London. Very humbling. I do agree about the loincloth, I may be Catholic but I'm not a prude. I can handle it!

    1. A generous viewer who is also a collector of vintage nude male prints sent me an uncensored view of this, and I posted it as an addendum which is now viewable.