Sculpture: Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux

Hi everyone! As I was looking through my camera photos, I came across a sculpture that really caught my attention at the MET. This sculpture was created by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux in 1865-67, and it is based on the story of Ugolino and His Sons.

IMG-3883Based on MET description, Count Ugolino is going through the “greatest sculptural expressions of mental anguish.” This story derives from Dante’s Divine Comedy, wherein Ugolino della Gherardesca is sent to a prison with his sons and grandsons. He begins to contemplate whether he should die of starvation or if he should resort to cannibalism. At this point in the sculpture, Ugolino is deciding what he should do. Carpeaux greatly shows the internal battle within Ugolino.

It is significant to note that these men here are dying, and yet they look extremely muscular and not as though they are dying. Additionally, Carpeaux was influenced by Michelangelo. He spent some time in his life studying the works of Michelangelo. This was most prominent when he was studying art in the Villa Medici. For this sculptural work, he was heavily influenced by the figures in Michelangelo’s Last Judgement in the Vatican.


The Ugolino and His Sons is under the time period of Romanticism, which is a moment in art that, rather than showing the beauty of humankind, exposed the corruption of mankind, their weaknesses, and their flaws. Also, here is a picture of the back of the figures to show you the intense detail of the muscles.


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