San Matteo

Michelangelo Buonarroti

Data sheet

  • Author: Michelangelo Buonarroti
  • Date: 1505 - 1506
  • Collection: SCULPTURE
  • Technique: Marble
  • Dimensions: h. 271 cm
  • Inventory: Inv. Scult. n. 1077

The David and the Prisoners

In 1503, Michelangelo received a commission to carve statues of the twelve Apostles for the Florence Cathedral. The only one that he ever started working on was, however, the St Matthew. Called to Rome by Julius II shortly after he began, it was the first sculpture that the artist left incomplete.

Although the contract for the statues of the twelve Apostles was annulled on 18 December 1505, it is likely that Michelangelo continued working on the St Matthew the following year. This is suggested by numerous references in contemporary letters as well as an interesting stylistic detail: the torsion of the saint’s head in opposition to that of the chest, which seems to have been inspired by the Hellenistic sculpture group of Laocoön and his sons that was unearthed in 1506 and admired by Michelangelo that same year.

As we can read in the inscription on the base, the sculpture was moved from the courtyard of the Opera del Duomo di Firenze to the atrium of the Accademia di Belle Arti in 1831. It was then moved to the adjacent Galleria dell’Accademiain 1909, the same year that the Prisoners arrived.


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