Ugolino and His Sons

Artist: Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (French, Valenciennes 1827–1875 Courbevoie)

Date: 1865–67

Culture: French, Paris

Medium: Saint-Béat marble

Dimensions: confirmed: 77 3/4 × 59 × 43 1/2 in., 4955 lb. (197.5 × 149.9 × 110.5 cm, 2247.6 kg);
Pedestal (wt. confirmed): 3759 lb. (1705.1 kg)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Purchase, Josephine Bay Paul and C. Michael Paul Foundation Inc. Gift, Charles Ulrick and Josephine Bay Foundation Inc. Gift, and Fletcher Fund, 1967

Accession Number: 67.250


The subject of this intensely Romantic work is derived from canto XXXIII of Dante's Inferno, which describes how the Pisan traitor Count Ugolino della Gherardesca, his sons, and his grandsons were imprisoned in 1288 and died of starvation. Carpeaux's visionary statue, executed in 1865–67, reflects the artist's passionate reverence for Michelangelo, specifically for The Last Judgment (1536–41) in the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican, Rome, as well as his own painstaking concern with anatomical realism.