Young Slave

Michelangelo Buonarroti

Data sheet

  • Author: Michelangelo Buonarroti
  • Date: 1530
  • Collection: SCULPTURE
  • Technique: Marble
  • Dimensions: h. 256 cm
  • Inventory: Inv. Scult. n. 1079

Michelangelo Buonarroti, Young Slave

The four “unfinished” sculptures of Prisoners (commonly referred to as “slaves” in English), which
date between 1519 and 1534, were originally commissioned to decorate the grand mausoleum
designed for the Della Rovere pope Julius II. When the grandiose project was scaled back, they
remained in Michelangelo’s studio and, when he died, they were given to the grand duke Cosimo I
de’ Medici. The grand duke installed them in the Grotta del Buontalenti in the Boboli Gardens,
where they remained until 1909, when they were moved to the Galleria dell’Accademia and
displayed in the main corridor that leads to the Tribune.
The figure of the Young Slave is portrayed with slightly flexed legs, his left arm raised to partially
cover the face and his right arm bent and hidden behind his back, creating a torsion that recalls
Michelangelo’s frescoed Ignudi on the Sistine Ceiling.
The upper part of the figure emerges entirely from the block of marble, although the head is just
barely roughed-out and the whole surface is marked with traces of the tools used by Michelangelo
while he worked.

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