ST. GEORGE — As the afternoon light casts a shadow from over the red rocks into the Dixie State University Sears Art Museum Gallery, one piece of art stands out among the rest: an exact casting of Michelangelo’s Pietà.
Thanks to a generous contribution from an anonymous donor, a rare casting of Michelangelo’s original masterpiece has taken residence in Dixie State’s Sears Art Museum Gallery. In fact, the gallery’s casting is the 14th of only 100 being distributed worldwide. The newest addition to the university’s permanent collection will be open to the public starting Feb. 17.
“We are thrilled to have such a beautiful piece of art on the Dixie campus; it is truly breathtaking,” Brad Last, vice president of institutional advancement and development at DSU, said. “The generosity of the donors is humbling and we simply can’t thank them enough. We are so grateful that they have entrusted us to display and care for this inspiring sculpture.”
Arte Divine has made it its mission to bring the Pietà to the world. Authorized to create only 100 marble castings to distribute worldwide, the company uses a mold derived from the original Pietà to produce accurate and precise reproductions of Michelangelo’s inspired work.
The Pietà is widely viewed as the greatest work of sculpture ever created and balances the classical beauty of Italian High Renaissance with naturalism, Kathy Cieslewicz, curator of the Sears Art Museum Gallery, said. Michelangelo created the Pietà between 1498 and 1500, when he was in his early 20s, for Cardinal Jean de Bilhéres’ funerary chapel. Now on display in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, the sculpture became one of Michelangelo’s most successful works and helped launch his career.
“Imagine being able to view the Pietà in a very close and personal way, studying the delicate folds in Mary’s garments and her touchingly expressive face,” Cieslewicz said. “Imagine all who will appreciate seeing this masterpiece, many who would never have otherwise had the opportunity to see it in St. Peter’s, and even then, only to view it from 30 feet away and behind bulletproof glass. Imagine realizing there is no greater love than that of a mother for her child and the epiphany of knowing the greatest thing one can do in the world is to love their children.”
The statue’s public debut on campus is held in conjunction with the 31st Annual Robert N. & Peggy Sears Dixie Invitational Art Show & Sale, a regional exhibit boasting approximately 100 invited artists and 200 works. The exhibit is open Feb. 17 through April 1 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday and 2 to 6 p.m. on Sundays in the Sears Art Museum Gallery, located in the Dolores Doré Eccles Fine Arts Center on the DSU campus. The Pietà will remain on exhibit year-round as part of the gallery’s permanent collection. Admission into the gallery is free.
“Generations of students, faculty and members of our community will benefit from having this work accessible in our gallery,” Jeffery Jarvis, dean of DSU’s College of the Arts, said. “It seems almost impossible to overstate its value to our university. We are so grateful for this gift.”