Take a class with SAL - anywhere! Previously, I posted funerary art from the 3rd through the 6th centuries. This post veers far out of that time range, but the unfinished Atlas Slave came up in discussion during today’s figure sculpture class. I got excited to share, so here they are. In 1505, Michelangelo was commissioned to design the tomb for Pope Julius II. The commission came shortly after Julius II became pope, and he envisioned a grand and elaborate tomb for himself. Michelangelo eagerly began work on the design. Michelangelo’s first design for the tomb of Pope Julius II This was Michelangelo’s first sketch for the design for the tomb. The pope gave it a C- and said it was not elaborate enough, so Michelangelo took it home, and loaded it full of bougie glam. Michelangelo’s second design for the tomb of Pope Julius II Michelangelo’s second design for the tomb was much more elaborate. The design included a contrapposto possy of about 40 figures that would decorate the architecture of the tomb. These sculptures were designed to represent allegorical figures, prisoners, or slaves struggling to free themselves from the confines of the stone block. This design pleased the pope, and in 1506 Michelangelo began to sculpt. Michelangelo’s 2nd, more elaborate design for the tomb for Pope Julius II. The slaves (below) can be seen as columns (above). The Awakening Slave You can see how Michelangelo sculpted by removing stone to reveal a nearly finished figure, as if the figure had emerged on its own accord. The Bearded Slave On the computer screen, these unfinished works appear like small maquettes, but they are actually all over 8′ tall. Atlas Slave The Dying Slave The Rebellious Slave Michelangelo worked on this project intermittently alongside other priorities, and the project faced numerous revisions and delays. After several years, Julius II looked at his holy charge card, and much to Michelangelo’s frustration, the pope ditched the slaves, and requested something more shoestring. Even though the Dying Slave and the Rebellious Slave were finished, they were not included in the reduced design. The unfinished slave sculptures were abandoned. The project design and price was negotiated and renegotiated several times. In the end, the central and most prominent feature of the final tomb design is the statue of Moses, one of Michelangelo’s most beautiful works. The scaled down tomb is more of a shack compared to the original plan. Instead of the elaborate monument initially conceived, only a fraction of the sculptures and architectural elements were included. Moses sits at the center of a niche, flanked by two smaller statues of Reuben and Levi, which represent two of the twelve tribes of Israel. The overall design of the tomb is characterized by its simplicity and focus on the central figure of Moses. The tomb scraped the bottom of the pope’s holy barrel compared to what Michelangelo had initially envisioned, but the pope finally pinched out the last installments, accepted it as his forever address, and died. Pope Julius II, whose full name was Giuliano della Rovere, was buried in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. He passed away on February 21, 1513. His tomb can be found in the Vatican Grottoes, which is a crypt below St. Peter’s Basilica where many Popes are interred. Pope Julius II’s tomb is one of the notable burial sites in this area. You’re reading a V. Note, written by Ruthie V, the director of the Seattle Artist League. The League is an art school for the busy nurse, tech geek, and mom with a long lost art degree. We offer engaging online classes in drawing and painting. Join us! Find your class: https://www.seattleartistleague.com/product-category/d-online-classes/ CORRECTION FROM A READER: “Even though Julius II is buried in St. Peter’s basilica, the tomb is not there. The tomb was completed many years after his death and can be seen in San Pietro in Vincoli, a church in Rome.” – Stacey B.