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Swabia, Southern-Germany
polychromed wood

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The Pietà is a theme in Christian art that depicts Mary holding the lifeless body of Christ in her lap. Pietas are widely represented in both paintings and sculpture in European art from the 14th century and onwards. This theme grew out of the lamentation of Christ’s body, probably in Germany. The Pietà gained popularity rapidly and spread to France and Northern-Europe throughout the 14th and 15th centuries. Commonly, the Pietà consisted only of two figures: Christ and Mary. With too many figures involved, the work could lose its meditative and reflective character.

Early depictions of the Pietà, originating from the Bohemian type known as Vesperbild, typically represent the seated Virgin Mary in a state of great emotion. By the fifteenth century, the demeanor of Mary became more calm and contemplative, as visible in the present Pietà.


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