Moonday’s Heroic Hunk in History: Michelangelo’s Slaves

The Rebellious Slave

The Slaves are two sculptures by Michelangelo that are housed in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The marbles – known as the Dying Slave and the Rebellious Slave – were intended for the tomb of Pope Julius II along with the four slaves in the Academy Museum in Florence.  (See pic of completed tomb containing Moses.)

Pope Julius II's Tomb

The statues stand over 7 1/2 feet high and were carved between 1513 – 1515.  Michelangelo gave the incomplete marbles to Roberto Strozzi who brought them to France.  During the French Revolution (1796) they were seized from the Poitou palace of the Cardinal de Richelieu and placed in the Louvre.

The two chained slaves express entirely different emotions. The Rebellious Slave (pictured here) is a coarse figure whose whole body seems engaged in a violent struggle. Evidently there were problems with the grain of the marble on the Rebellious Slave’s face.  Michelangelo left the marks of his tools on the statue to display his fight with the marble.

The other statue, known as the Dying Slave, is young and handsome and apparently in a deep (perhaps eternal) sleep. A half-carved monkey is clinging to his leg.  None of the various meanings are pleasant. As a matter of fact, the nude is rather bizarre (Among my questions-besides the monkey, if he’s sleeping or dead, why is he standing up?) and was not included here. See the Dying Slave here: 

Next week, my Moonday October Series: the History of Creatures of the Dark. One creature each Moonday with pics, old and new. Rita Bay


3 Responses

  1. I have long admired Michelangelo for his ability to express being, emotion and movement . . . in stone, no less. Thank you for providing such a treat, Rita. Your efforts are appreciated by so many of us!

  2. I LOVE Statues. As you know, my favorite sculptor is Bernini but I can dig Michelangelo, too!

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