Bearded Slave

Michelangelo Buonarroti

Data sheet

  • Author: Michelangelo Buonarroti
  • Date: 1530
  • Collection: SCULPTURE
  • Technique: Marble
  • Dimensions: h. 263 cm
  • Inventory: Inv. Scult. n. 1081

Michelangelo Buonarroti, Bearded 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 Bearded Slave takes its name from the thick beard covering the figure’s face. It is the most
finished of the four works, particularly the carving of the clearly defined muscles of the torso, which
reveals Michelangelo’s interest in and study of anatomy. The figure’s powerful legs are bounded by
a band, a detail that appears frequently in the Florentine sculptor’s work.

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