Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Tomb of Pope Julius II

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Artist  Michelangelo
Burials  Ascanio Condivi
Tomb of Pope Julius II Why did Michelangelo39s projects for the tomb of Julius II fail
Similar  Moses, San Pietro in Vincoli, Sagrestia Nuova, The Last Judgement, Medici Chapel

Michelangelo moses and the tomb of pope julius ii

The Tomb of Pope Julius II is a sculptural and architectural ensemble by Michelangelo and his assistants, originally commissioned in 1505 but not completed until 1545 on a much reduced scale. Originally intended for St. Peter's Basilica, the tomb was instead placed in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli on the Esquiline in Rome after the pope's death. This church was patronised by the della Rovere family from which Julius came, and he had been titular cardinal there.


Tomb of Pope Julius II of Pope Julius II

As originally conceived, the tomb would have been a colossal structure that would have given Michelangelo the room he needed for his superhuman, tragic beings. This project became one of the great disappointments of Michelangelo's life when the pope, for unexplained reasons, interrupted the commission, possibly because funds had to be diverted for Bramante's rebuilding of St. Peter's. The original project called for a freestanding, three-level structure with some 40 statues. After the pope's death in 1513, the scale of the project was reduced step-by-step until, in April 1532, a final contract specified a simple wall tomb with fewer than one-third of the figures originally planned.

The most famous sculpture associated with the tomb is the figure of Moses, which was completed during one of the sporadic resumptions of the work in 1513. Michelangelo felt that this was his most lifelike creation. Legend has it that upon its completion he struck the right knee commanding, "now speak!" as he felt that life was the only thing left inside the marble. There is a scar on the knee thought to be the mark of Michelangelo's hammer.

Tomb of Pope Julius II The Tomb of Pope Julius II 15051545 this statue of moses


  • 1505 – Julius commissions a tomb from Michelangelo, who spends 6 months choosing marble at Carrara.
  • 1506 – Michelanglo returns to Rome due to a lack of funds available for the project, and is dismissed by an angry and bitter Julius. Michelangelo moves to Florence until Julius threatens to wage war on the state unless he returns, which he does.
  • 1508 – It is rumoured that Donato Bramante and Raphael, apparently jealous of Michelangelo's commission, convince the Pope that it is bad luck to have his tomb built during his own lifetime, and that Michelangelo's time would be better spent on the Sistine Chapel ceiling in the Vatican Palace (assuming that Michelangelo, primarily a sculptor, would have great difficulty in completing a painting of such scale).
  • 1512 – With his decoration of the Sistine Chapel ceiling complete, Michelangelo resumed work on the tomb. Between 1512 and 1513 he completed three sculptures for the project: the Dying and Rebellious Slaves (now in the Louvre, Paris) and Moses (retained in the final design).
  • 1513 – Julius died in February 1513. A new contract was drawn up on 6 May which specified a wall tomb. On 9 July Michelangelo contracted a stonemason, Antonio del Ponte a Sieve, to execute the architectural elements of the tomb's lower register, which can be seen in the final design. A large, ruined drawing attributed to Michelangelo survives from this phase of the project, in the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin; a more legible facsimile by his pupil Jacomo Rocchetti is also in the same collection. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has a drawing of the tomb from this period. Though no longer for a free-standing monument, the project in fact became more ambitious both in terms of size and the complexity of its iconography.
  • 1516 – A new contract is agreed between Michelangelo and Julius’s heirs who demand the completion of the project.
  • 1520s – Michelangelo carves The Genius of Victory and four unfinished Slaves (now in the Accademia, Florence).
  • 1532 – A second new contract is signed by Michelangelo which involves a wall-tomb.
  • 1542 – The wall-tomb is begun by Michelangelo after final details are negotiated with Julius′s grandson.
  • 1545 – The final tomb is completed and installed in San Pietro in Vincoli; it includes Michelangelo’s Moses along with Leah and Rachel (probably completed by Michelangelo's assistants) on the lower level, and several other sculptures (definitiely not by Michelangelo) on the upper level.
  • Sculptures

    Tomb of Pope Julius II httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu

    The statues of the Dying Slave and the Rebellious Slave were finished but not included in the monument in its last and reduced design. They are now in the Louvre. Another figure intended for Pope Julius' tomb is The Genius of Victory, now in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Other sculptures for the tomb were the Young Slave, the Atlas Slave, the Bearded Slave and the Awakening Slave. The sculptures of Rachel and Leah, allegories of the contemplative and the active life, were executed by Raffaello da Montelupo, a pupil of Michelangelo. The other sculptures are by less experienced pupils.

    Tomb of Pope Julius II Tomb of Pope Julius II by Michelangelo Michelangelo Sculptures


    Tomb of Pope Julius II Wikipedia