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FrontRunners: Pietà Reproduced

Sheila J. Gibson

Michelangelo’s marble Pietà sculpture in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome depicts one of the most moving episodes of the Crucifixion, the Virgin Mary mourning over the body of her son after he has been taken down from the cross. It was, and still is, considered the great masterpiece of the artist’s early career. Vatican artisans made a mold of the priceless sculpture after repairing damage it had sustained from a vandal’s attack in the 1970s. That mold is now being used to create limited edition replica busts of Mary, which are being sold with the blessing of the Treasury of St. Peter’s, the Vatican museum that owns the Pietà. The New Renaissance Art company (800.803.2787, www.newrenart.com) holds the exclusive rights to produce the sculptures by agreement with the Treasury of St. Peter’s, which receives 10 percent of each sale.

The bust, which stands 11.5 inches tall, is being produced in three metals: a bronze edition of 3,000 ($15,000), a silver edition of 1,000 ($30,000), and a 24-karat gold edition of 25 (starting at $1 million).

“It’s so moving, so compelling. It takes over the room,” says David Newren, the founder of New Renaissance Art, who negotiated with the Vatican for six years to secure permission to produce the busts.

Photo by Bonhams
Photo by Simon Clay/RM Auctions
Photo by Shooterz.biz/RM Auctions
Photo by Daniel Simon