Victory by Michelangelo

One of Michelangelo's most misunderstood creations, Victory is yet another of many unfinished Florentine works presumably intended for the tomb of Julius II.

Michelangelo's Victory, Front View
Victory, a sculpture in marble by Michelangelo, is
8 feet and 7-1/2 inches tall and is displayed in the
Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.

Created between 1525 and 1530, the grouping shown in Victory is one of the master's most original, showing an unnaturally elongated youth dominating the uncomfortably bent form of an older man. The extreme twist of the youth's body is beyond the realm of possibility, but Michelangelo manages to persuade us that it is "natural," as he did many times with the twisted nudes in the Sistine Chapel.

Michelangelo's Victory, Side View
Side view of Victory by Michelangelo.

It has been said that the figure, which may have been changed from female to male, reflects Michelangelo's passion for a young and handsome Roman nobleman. It seems far more likely, however, that Victory embodies the politics of a newly liberated Florence. Victory reminds us of Donatello's works of soaring patriotism, as we see the victor pausing to pull his mantle about him in a gesture suggestive of divine protection.

Victory was probably conceived as part of the original plan for the tomb of Pope Julius II. See the next section of this article to learn about the tomb of Guiliano de' Medici, which came close to completion as Michelangelo had originally intended.

To learn more about Michelangelo, art history, and other famous artists, see: