Michelangelo Sculptures

Dying Slave by Michelangelo

This impressive figure, Dying Slave, was created between 1513 and 1516. Together with Rebellious Slave , it was meant for the tomb of Julius II but was not included because of lack of space in the smaller version dedicated in 1545. Eventually given away by the master, Dying Slave and Rebellious Slave reveal the artist's approach to sculpting.

Michelangelo's Dying Slave, Front View
Michelangelo's unfinished marble sculpture,
Dying Slave, is 7 feet 6-1/2 inches tall and stands
in the Musée du Louvre, in Paris.

Michelangelo visualized the figures as imprisoned in the huge blocks of marble, and only by carefully removing the excess stone could he free them. In their creation, and in their final impact, the two slaves may symbolize the soul's struggle against the bonds of temptation and sin.

Michelangelo's Dying Slave, Side View
Side view of Michelangelo's Dying Slave.

In contrast to the active struggle of the Rebellious Slave, Dying Slave seems to be sinking into a deep sleep. Far from dying, the figure in Michelangelo's Dying Slave seems to be abandoning himself to the effects of an intoxicant. Little resistance is shown in the silky contours of the arched back, extended left arm, and relaxed abdomen.

For more information on the Rebellious Slave, see the next section of this article.

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