iGuzzini illuminates Michelangelo’s Pietà

Pietà di Michelangelo

iGuzzini has been chosen to renew the lighting of one of the most famous artworks in the world: Michelangelo’s Pietà, housed in the Chapel of the Crucifix in St Peter’s Basilica, Rome.

The new lighting system has been designed by the Milan-based studio Rossi Bianchi lighting design; innovative smart solutions based on recent technological developments in LED lighting will ensure that visitors’ experience of this Renaissance masterpiece is significantly improved.

“All the know-how we have gained since the 1990s when we lit the Bernini and Canova sculptures in the Galleria Borghese has been put at the service of the Fabric of Saint Peter in order to use light to enhance Michelangelo’s Pietà, one of the most evocative works in the history of art,” said Adolfo Guzzini, President of iGuzzini. “Today, at St Peter’s too, sculptural art lives again thanks to our skill in balancing light in order to emphasise the plasticity of the sculpture.”

The new lighting system s particularly important because the Virgin Mary’s youthful face is a highly contemporary message from the artist showing how avoiding sin is the only way to be truly beautiful.

In addition to replacing the previous luminaires with latest-generation LED spots, the new lighting project also features four different lighting scenes for different visual activities and requirements. They are created using compact solutions that take up minimal visual space and feature warm white tones (3000K) and high colour rendering levels to enhance the contours of the artwork and the shine of its marble.

The overall aim is to create a consistent view of the entire work so that all visitors can see and appreciate every detail of this unique masterpiece.

Thanks to the DALI control system, the light fittings are divided into groups that can be switched on separately and adjusted in terms of light intensity to allow the system to create different light scenes:


East Scene – grazing light From the capital on the east side, this scene emits a light beam that illuminates the Pietà with a spectacular beam of light. The incidence angle is clear and there is a sharp contrast with the surrounding shadow. The subdued lighting of the vaults and backdrop creates a frame around the sculpture and vibrant reflections enhance the gleam of its marble to create a powerful visual effect with a strong emotional impact. The scene is created by crisscrossing the light beams with different dimming levels produced by the frontal Palco spotlights, while leaving the vaults and floor almost completely obscured


South Scene – full light In this scene all the luminaires are switched on; the sculpture is absolutely dazzling and becomes a source of light in itself. The vaults and floor are lit with slightly less intensity as everything is focused on the beam of light that illuminates the sculpture. Compared to the previous scenes, the lighting of the central vault, arches and lateral vaults is more sustained. Frontal Palco spotlights also add to the grazing light


West Scene – daily This lighting scene is designed to enhance the visitor experience at St Peter’s Basilica where La Pietà is viewed through a glass screen; the lighting is frontal, created by Palco projectors installed in groups of three on the pillars. The light beams are crisscrossed at symmetrical angles to highlight the sculpture’s plasticity. The central vault is lit evenly, whereas the arches and lateral barrel vaults are illuminated with a homogeneous, slightly less intense light, thanks to the combined use of Palco spotlights and linear Underscore lighting


North Scene – sculpture focus In this scene the lighting is ideal for a close-up view of the sculpture that underlines its artistic value and enhances the visitor’s experience. Light is focused on the sculpture via Palco spotlights mounted on tracks that run on either side of the pilasters; the illumination for the floor, ceiling and backdrop is reduced to a minimum. In this scene there is no clear directionality; instead, a balance of chiaroscuro effects enhance the sculpture’s plasticity and allow transiting visitors to appreciate both individual details and the incredible overall harmony of the artwork


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