Work: The Madonna of Bruges

Copy of sculpture

Bruges Madonna (cast in plaster)


128 cm high
alabaster plaster


Michelangelo Buonarroti
1501 - 1506
128 cm high
Church of Notre Dame, Bruges

Photo: Maurizio Bolognini. Museo Tattile Statale Omero Archive.


In her work “Magnificat. An Encounter with Mary” (Frassinelli Editore, 2002), the poet Alda Marini celebrates the Mother of Jesus and mother of every man. The following is a short extract:
“She was of medium height and extraordinary beauty, her movements were those of a dancer in the presence of the sun. Her virginity was so maternal that all the children of the world would have loved to flow into her arms.”

This is the exquisite Madonna of Bruges, a marble statue sculpted by the young Michelangelo for the Belgian Mouscron family and originally destined for the family chapel in the Saint-Salvator Cathedral in Bruges. Michelangelo worked on the statue from 1503 to 1505 and it can now be seen in the Church of Our Lady in Bruges. The Museo Omero has a plaster copy.

The sculpture in the round (128 cm high) depicts the Virgin and the Baby Jesus. The composition of the group is based on the perfectly axial posture of the Virgin. The twisting movement that pervades the figure of the Child, standing between his mother’s knees, is the only dynamic flicker in an essentially static composition.
Our Lady does not smile but gazes into the void, as if foreseeing the drama of the Passion just as Jesus is starting to take his first steps into the world.
In the original, a Cherub, the symbol of “clear intelligence”, of the Virgin’s “gift of prophecy”, is engraved on the clasp of her dress.The notably geometrical drapery of Mary’s garment does not interfere with the simplicity of the sculpture, which makes this work a true masterpiece of Michelangelo’s oeuvre.