Michelangelo’s Faithful Assistant
- October 9, 2013
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Michelangelo had a number of assistants throughout the years. When working on the Sistine Chapel ceiling he hired and fired numerous assistants who would mix his paints, prepare plaster, and climb up and down the ladders delivery needed supplies. Occasionally an assistant whom Michelangelo felt had some talent would be permitted to paint a patch of sky, a segment of landscape or a minimal figure. Michelangelo found that most of these helpers failed to meet sufficient uniformity of style and they were dismissed. Other than the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo also allowed assistants to help with finishing touches on sculptures. One of these most trusted men, whom Michelangelo held a special regard for and considered to have at least a fair amount of ability, was Pietro Urbino.
Pietro Urbino was Michelangelo’s faithful servant and assistant for over 25 years. The two men were close and became like family. Urbino named Michelangelo godfather to one of his two sons. Urbino helped Michelangelo with a number of different works including the sculpture Risen Christ which Urbino was charged with delivering to Rome and installing in the church Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. Urbino put the finishing touches on the feet, hands and beard. Many felt that these changes were disastrous. Nevertheless, he remained Michelangelo’s close friend.
Pietro Urbino died in 1555. Following Urbino’s death Michelangelo tried to destroy the Florentine Pieta (Pieta Bandini) sculpture he had been working on which was intended for his own tomb. He took a hammer to the sculpture. A student tried to repair the damage and continue the work but it was not completed and never made it to Michelangelo’s tomb. It is considered to be re-cut by Tiberio Calcagni. The sculpture, which depicts Nicodemus, Mary and Mary Magdalene supporting the body of Jesus, is now housed in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence, Italy.