The contract between Michelangelo and the Cardinal di San Dionisio for the Pieta.(1)
Die VII mensis augusti, 1498.
Be it known and manifest to all who shall read this present writing that the Most Reverend Cardinal di San Dionisio has agreed with Maestro Michelangelo, statuary of Florence, that the said Maestro shall at his own proper costs make a Pieta of marble ; that is to say, a draped figure of the Virgin Mary with the dead Christ in her arms, the figures being life-size, for the sum of four hundred and fifty gold ducats in papal gold (in oro papali), to be finished within the term of one year from the beginning of the work. And the said Most Reverend Cardinal promises to pay the money in the manner following: that is to say, imprimis he promises to pay the sum of one hundred and fifty gold ducats in papal gold before ever the work shall be begun, and thereafter while the work is in progress he promises to pay to the aforesaid Michelangelo one hundred ducats of the same value every four months, in such wise that the whole of the said sum of four hundred and fifty gold ducats in papal gold shall be paid within a twelvemonth, provided that the work shall be finished within that period: and if it shall be finished before the stipulated term his Most Reverend Lordship shall be called upon to pay the whole of the sum outstanding.
And I, Iacopo Gallo, do promise the Most Reverend Monsignore, that the said Michelangelo will complete the said work within one year, and that it shall be more beautiful than any work in marble to be seen in Rome to-day, and such that no master of our own time shall be able to produce a better. And I do promise the aforesaid Michelangelo on the other hand, that the Most Reverend Cardinal will observe the conditions of payment as herein set forth in writing. And in token of good faith I, lacopo Gallo, have drawn up the present agreement with my own hand the year month and day aforesaid. Furthermore be it understood that all previous agreements between the parties drawn up by my hand, or rather, by the hand of the aforesaid Michelangelo are by this present declared null and void, and only this present agreement shall have effect.
The said Most Reverend Cardinal gave to me, Iacopo Gallo, one hundred gold ducats of the chamber in gold (ducati d'oro in oro di Camera) some time ago, and on the aforesaid day as above set forth I received from him a further sum of fifty gold ducats in Papal gold.
Ita est IOANNES, CARDINALIS S. DYONISII. Idem Iacobus Gallus, manu proprio.
(1) This Madonna della Pieta was carved for Jean de la Groslaye, Cardinal di San Dionigi, and seems to have been contemplated, though not actually begun, some months before the drawing up of the final contract under which the work was executed.
Buonarroti, Michelangelo, trans. Robert W. Carden. "Michelangelo. A Record of His Life", Constable & Company Ltd, 1913: p. 10-12