12 November 2012

Weighty Marbles



In honor of the birthday of August Rodin, a blast from the past reprint.



Look into the face of Mary and see what the sculptor of the pieta did in 1499. Across her lap is the body of her 33 year old son, but her face is that of the teenage girl who first heard an angel announce that she was about to become an unwed mother. She had no guarantee that Joseph would marry her. She lived in a culture that severely punished anything that was considered immorality in women, yet she accepted the duty placed on her, and this is the way that duty ended with her beloved child dead in her arms not knowing yet where this road will end. There is grief on that face, but there is acceptance and trust in the future as well. Michaelangelo takes a block of hard, cold marble and makes you see the passion, glory and the ultimate end of doing one's duty no matter where it leads as a simple act of faith.

In 1972 a man by the name of LASZLO TOTH damaged the Pieta with a hammer. He was never charged with a criminal offense. On 29 January of the following year he was declared a dangerous person and was ordered confined to a mental hospital. On 9 February 1975, the Hungarian-born, Australian geologist was released from the hospital and deported from Italy as an undesirable alien. His act of madness had it's own result. The Vatican announced that the team of restorers attempting to repair the damage that Toth had inflicted on the Pieta had discovered a previously unknown secret signature of Michelangelo on the palm of the Madonna's left hand - an "M" fashioned from the skin lines reproduced in marble as another mark from the genius who brought her to life once more.

Several centuries later another great sculptor took on a similar subject. Marble was not August Rodin's favorite medium, yet he produced many famous ones such as The Kiss, The Lovers, and The Hand of God. Instead of marble he preferred the casting in bronze and one of his greatest is the Fallen Caryatid.


Years ago, Robert Heinlein used this bronze of the Caryatid in Stranger in a Strange Land to attempt to show beauty where apparently there was none. His words:

This poor little caryatid has fallen under the load. She's a good girl---look at her face. Serious, unhappy at her failure, not blaming anyone,not even the gods and still trying to shoulder her load, after she's crumpled under it.

But she's more than just good art denouncing bad art; she's a symbol for every woman who ever shouldered a load too heavy. But not alone women---this symbol means every man and woman who ever sweated out life in uncomplaining fortitude until they crumpled under their loads. It's courage...and victory. Victory in defeat, there is none higher. She didn't give up...she's still trying to lift that stone after it has crushed her...she's all the unsung heroes who couldn't make it but never quit.
So there you have two young girls, one in marble and the other in bronze trying to lift marble, who were asked to shoulder burdens way beyond their years. In the process they become examples to all of the glory that comes from simply doing what is right when it is necessary.

21 comments:

tegdirb92 said...

what a great post for marble!! I learned a lot. Have a great Manic Monday.

Villager said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your MM post. Robert Heinlein is one of my favorite authors.

My Manic Monday also focused on marble sculptures.

peace, Villager

Rob said...

Jamie,

I know you responded to a post I felt very strongly about, internet radio. They have saved internet radio.

Comedy + said...

What a great history lesson. I rarely know much of what you put in your MM posts. That's a good thing for me. Have a great MM. :)

Sarge Charlie said...

this was an education, thanks

Linda said...

Excellent, as always!

You have been tagged for the new Moaning Meme over my page - would love to see your take on this one!

the108 said...

Well, shoot... you're right up the road from me!

Gattina said...

Very interesting post ! It's only a pity that "Ave Maria" is mostly played at funerals here in Europe.

mousey said...

informative post! thanks for sharing
happy monday!

Amazing Gracie said...

Very interesting, indeed, and how very poignant. I mentioned The Pieta but went with David. I have a small "The Hand of God" in my bedroom. My dad gave it to me shortly after I got married.

Nancy Lindquist-Liedel said...

Wonderful comparison.

ian said...

Happy MM!

Ian

Lois Grebowski said...

Great detailed post!

Morgen said...

I always marveled that a sculptor could look at a block of marble and "see" the sculpture hidden in there.
My art teacher told me to look at the negative space around the object and free the object. I was a much better sculptor when it came to creating up from clay than chiseling down from stone. Must say something about how my brain works, eh?

Stine said...

Thanks for the reminder about Heinlein - must read him again!

lisa said...

ahhh, great information! I loved Stranger in a Strange Land.

TopChamp said...

I had never seen them this way... never bothered to look for the story.

So thank you.

I Was Born2Cree8 said...

An interesting post on "marble", Jamie. Well done as always. Happy MM.

Travis said...

Thank you for the Pavorati.

Lizza said...

It's amazing how lifelike the Pieta is. Great history of art lessons, thanks!

sordar joy said...
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