“Rebellious Slave” by Michelangelo
“Rebellious Slave” by Michelangelo is a marble sculpture created for the second version of the tomb of Pope Julius II, which was commissioned by the Pope’s heirs in 1513.
Although the initial plans by the Pope for a gigantic mausoleum were set aside, the work was still monumental, with a corridor that was to be richly decorated with sculpture.
Michelangelo was commissioned for this project, and among the first pieces completed were the two “Prigioni” renamed the “slaves” in the nineteenth century.
The slaves were intended for the lower part of the monument, next to the pilasters, which framed the niches.
This architectural setting determined their poses, so the frontal view had all the detailed work and effort, but the side views received less care than usual.
All the Prigioni produced in Michelangelo’s studio were eliminated from the final version of the monument, which was completed in 1542. Two of the works found their way to Paris and eventually, the Louvre.
Tomb of Pope Julius II
The Tomb of Pope Julius II was a sculptural and architectural ensemble to be created by Michelangelo, and his assistants initially commissioned in 1505 but not completed until 1545 on a much-diminished scale.
The final version of the tomb was installed in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli on the Esquiline in Rome after the Pope’s death.
In the first version of the tomb of Julius II had a series of prisoners or “Prigioni” in Italian, planned for the lowest level of the mausoleum.
It was to be a series of more-than-life-size statues of chained figures in various poses, leaning on the pilasters, which framed a set of niches.
As initially conceived, the tomb would have been an enormous structure. This project became one of the great disappointments of Michelangelo’s life when the Pope interrupted the commission, and the funds were diverted to other projects.
The original plan called for a freestanding, three-level structure with some 40 statues. After the Pope’s death in 1513, the scale of the project was reduced to a simple wall tomb with fewer than one-third of the figures initially planned.
Another figure intended for Pope Julius’ tomb is “The Genius of Victory,” now in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.
Michelangelo was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, and poet of the Renaissance who was born in Florence, and who had a significant influence on the development of Western art.
Michelangelo is one of the greatest artists of all time. He is often considered as a contender for the title of the leading representative of Renaissance man, along with his rival, Leonardo da Vinci.
- Title: Rebellious Slave
- Artist: Michelangelo
- Year: 1513
- Materials: Marble
- Dimensions: 263 cm (104 in)
- Type: 215 cm (85 in)
- Museum: Musée du Louvre
- Name: Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni
- Born: 1475 – Caprese near Arezzo, Republic of Florence
- Died: 1564 (aged 88) – Rome, Papal States (present-day Italy)
- Movement: High Renaissance
- Notable works:
Michelangelo, The Slaves
Michelangelo and the Tragedy of the Tomb
“The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.”
“My soul can find no staircase to Heaven unless it is through Earth’s loveliness.”
“An artist must have his measuring tools not in the hand, but the eye.”
“A man paints with his brains and not with his hands.”
“If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.”
“I am still learning.”
“A beautiful thing never gives so much pain as does failing to hear and see it.”
“I live and love in God’s peculiar light.”
Explore the Louvre
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- “Charles I at the Hunt” by Anthony van Dyck
- “An Old Man and his Grandson” by Domenico Ghirlandaio
Slave by Michelangelo
“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”