Tuscany, the Marble Quarries of Carrara
Carrara marble is a type of white or blue-grey marble of high quality, popular for use in sculpture and building decor. It is quarried in the province of Massa and Carrara in the Lunigiana, the northernmost tip
of modern-day Tuscany, Italy.
Michelangelo carved a number of works in Florence during his time with the Medici, but in the 1490s he left Florence and briefly went to Venice, Bologna, and then to Rome, where he lived from 1496-1501. In 1497, a cardinal named Jean de Billheres commissioned Michelangelo to create a work of sculpture to go into a side chapel at Old St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The resulting work – the Pieta - would be so successful that it helped launch Michelangelo’s career unlike any previous work he had done.
Michelangelo claimed that the block of Carrara marble he used to work on this was the most “perfect” block he ever used, and he would go on to polish and refine this work more than any other statue he created.