Appointed by his friend, the painter Gabriel-Charles Girodon, João Turin executed in 1917, for the church of Saint Martin in Condé-sur-Noireau (Calvados, Lower Normandy, France), the bas-relief “Pietá”, in homage to the soldiers and citizens killed in the War of 1914, accompanied by the caption Venez et Voyez s´il est une douleur semblable à la mienne (Come and see if there is a pain to compare with mine).
The work is still in the ancient church, after escaping unscathed to the massive bombings during the Normandy invasion in June 6, 1944 by the Allied troops, when 95% of the little town was devastated, and the church was severely damaged. With the highest quality and revealing Turin’s virtuosity in sculpture by chopping, his Pietà represents the poignant scene down of Jesus being taken down the cross, with the crown of thorns by his side, sustained by the Virgin Mary in the guise of a young woman torn by grief, that with the right hand extended offers to the faithful the contemplation of the lifeless body of the God who became man. Like virtually in all or almost all Pietás, this one by Turin echoes the one by Michelangelo, also with a slight Art Deco influence.
Moreover, to carve the features of the Virgin, Turin would have been inspired by the famous ballet dancer Isadora Duncan (the resemblance is obvious), a hypothesis even more plausible not only because Isadora lived in Paris at the time when he was there, and she had been the theme to many other artists, including Rodin and Bourdelle, but mainly because in 1913 she had lost her two children, drowned in the Seine, an immense loss that would resemble Mary’s, before her dead Son.
The plaster cast of the famous sculpture is part of the collection of Atelier João Turin. The bronze original of the Pieta is one of the pieces in the exhibition ‘João Turin – Life, Work, Art’ and will be within sight of the visitors of the Oscar Niemeyer Museum from June 5 on.