One of my favorite works of art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the statue of Ugolino and His Sons by the artist Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux. I swim in this thing. I bathe in this thing. I drink of this thing. This thing is life.
Yes, the mastery of the artist is an experience to relish. But this statue has something extra to offer. In the great art wars, some have argued that a backstory is irrelevant to art. They argue that a work of art should stand on it’s own merit. This does that. Ugolino and His Sons need nothing to support them. The story, like all good stories, enhances the beauty of a thing. Tell a story about it and it lives with us.
Talk about a drama, right? Imagine what such a scene must have looked like in reality, and does this not capture mental anguish?
I do want to apologize for the inconsistency in the tones of the photographs. I had a really difficult time with the lighting there and the kids were tired. It’s something I need to learn.
They look to him.
They mourn and plead with him.
Do you see the delicate chiseling? The incredibly fine detail? The shadows being casted?
I hope you can see why this work is one of my favorites. I can walk around it for hours and keep discovering new parts of it that I hadn’t before noticed.
Thanks for visiting The Met with me.