© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

This work invites the viewer to participate in the grief of the tragic event of Christ’s crucifixion by giving it an immediacy that makes it seem as if it happening before the beholder’s eyes. The gruesome details of Christ’s wounds highlight his suffering. His body is stiff with death and yet still bleeds: blood is visible around his crown, and drips from the wound in his side and from the nail holes in his hand. Although the sculpted Pietà was made famous by Michelangelo, it was a Northern type, and this one represents the intense emotional and physical expressionism typical of these kinds of German and Austrian sculptures. This work is hollowed out in the back, and was probably placed in a chapel, where only the front was visible.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
BR59.95
People
Unidentified Artist
Title
Pietà
Classification
Sculpture
Work Type
sculpture
Date
c. 1420
Culture
Austrian
Location
Level 2, Room 2500, European Art, 13th–16th century, Art and Image in Europe
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Polychromed poplar wood
Technique
Polychromed
Dimensions
92 x 72 x 29.2 cm (36 1/4 x 28 3/8 x 11 1/2 in.)
Provenance
[Julius Böhler, Munich, Germany (by 1959), sold]; to Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1959.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Purchase in memory of Eda K. Loeb
Accession Year
1959
Object Number
BR59.95
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.
Publication History

"Accessions of American and Canadian Museums, Januay - March, 1960", Art Quarterly (1960), vol. 23, p. 182, repr. p. 184

"Recent Museum Exhibitions and Acquisitions", Art International (Lugano, Switzerland, September 25, 1960), vol. IV, no. 7, ill. p. 48

La Chronique des Arts, Supplément à la Gazette des Beaux-Arts, No. 1105, February 1961, repr. p. 22 as fig. 78

Charles L. Kuhn, German and Netherlandish Sculpture, 1280-1800, the Harvard Collections, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1965), pp. 7, 12, cat. no. 8 pp. 51-52, repr. as pls. VI, VII

Anneliese Harding, German Sculpture in New England Museums, Goethe Institute (Boston, MA, 1972), p. 12, repr. p. 30 as fig. 27

Charles Werner Haxthausen, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University, Abbeville Press (New York, NY, 1980), p. 106, repr. pp. 106-107

Anita F. Moskowitz, Gothic Sculpture in America, I: The New England Museums, ed. Dorothy W. Gillerman, Garland Publishing, Inc. (New York, 1989), no. 151 pp. 189-190, repr.

Melissa Katz and Robert A. Orsi, Divine mirrors : the Virgin Mary in the visual arts, ed. Melissa Katz, Oxford University Press (UK) (Oxford, England and New York, NY, 2001), p. 80, repr. p. 82 as fig. 79

Peter Nisbet and Joseph Koerner, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, ed. Peter Nisbet, Harvard University Art Museums and Scala Publishers Ltd. (Cambridge, MA and London, England, 2007), p. 232

Exhibition History

32Q: 2500 Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu