Thursday, December 19, 2013

Italian Sculpture n°3

The Statue of Moses is a part of the tomb of Pope Julius II. It was originally intended to be for the upper portion of a massive three storey monument which was to hold more than 40 statues. The project was later scaled down step-by-step until it the plan had become a simple wall tomb with less than one third of the intended number of statues. This was a cause of much personal frustration to him, as an artist who was primarily a sculptor. He considered the Statue of Moses as his most important and most life-like of all his creations.
Moses shows a seated figure, not in any dynamic action, yet somehow managing to exude restless energy and  anger. This is at the point in the story where Moses returns from the Mount Sinai with the two tablets of testimony with the intent to deliver the Ten Commandments to his people but instead breaks them in his terrible anger when he sees them worshipping the Golden Calf. His left leg is pulled back, so the hips are turned towards the left, with the torso turned a little towards the right, the face is again turned towards the left and he pulls his beard to the right side. This creates an interesting and dynamic composition. The figure looks disproportionate, with a long torso, because the statue was meant to be on the upper storey and he had proportioned it to look right when viewed from below.

Marble, height 235 cm
San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome

Michelangelo Buonarroti was arguably the most famous artist of the High to Late Italian Renaissance, and inarguably one of the greatest artists of all time -- along with fellow Renaissance men Leonardo DiVinci and Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio). He considered himself a sculptor, primarily, but is equally well known for the paintings he was induced (grudgingly) to create. He was also an architect and an amateur poet.


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