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Michelangelo Madonna Child

Pitti Tondo
Michelangelo 1503
Bargello, Florence

Michelangelo's Pitti Tondo | John Robinson

Spartaco Palla

Several years passed before I was able to get my great friend and patron Damon de Laszlo to commission a carving. The timing was fortunate as he was looking for something special to hang in a folly he had built in his sculpture park in England.

I negotiated a price with Spartaco Palla, the owner of the atelier, for a copy to be carved in Carrara marble from the Monte Altissimo quarry above Pietrasanta, where Michelangelo had obtained the original stone. A year later I returned to Pietrasanta to see the result. It was magnificent. My other great friend and patron Robert Hefner III, on seeing the photographs of the carving, immediately commissioned another edition for his home above Aspen.

I am sure that Michelangelo would be delighted to know that his work is now represented in Hampshire and Colorado, as well as in Florence.

Ask forgiveness

I hope Michelangelo will forgive me for making one slight but, I think, very important alteration to the Tondo. I did it with the approval of my friends after I had explained to them why I thought it should be done. Michelangelo was 28 years old when he carved the Tondo at the beginning of 1503. Later that year he carved the David. Something very important happened between his finishing the first and completing the second sculpture. Following others, such as Donatello, not to mention the Greek and Roman sculptors, Michelangelo started to carve pupils into the eyeballs of his subjects, thus giving life to their eyes.

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