Ugolino and his Children

1860, cast c. 1871

Dallas Museum of Art

Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas, United States

A pupil of sculptor François Rude and an early teacher of Rodin, Carpeaux holds a central position in the history of French romantic sculpture of the nineteenth century. "Ugolino and His Sons" is clearly informed by the masterworks of Michelangelo as well as the Hellenistic and Roman sculpture Carpeaux studied during his year in Italy as the recipient of the coveted Prix de Rome in 1854. The dramatic and macabre subject drawn from Dante's "Inferno" is typical of romanticism: Count Ugolino della Gherardesca, the tyrannical thirteenth-century master of Pisa, has been condemned to starve, and he staves off hunger by devouring his sons. Carpeaux struggled with this exceedingly complex figural group, producing a number of versions. The French academy attacked his emphasis on the male nude as well as the bizarre theme, but in the end accepted a bronze version of the sculpture.

Ironically the controversy around the Ugolino sculpture boosted Carpeaux's career, leading to prominent public commissions such as "The Dance" for the façade of the Paris Opera. Meanwhile, demand for the Ugolino group continued. In addition to full-scale versions in plaster, terra-cotta, and marble, Carpeaux executed a smaller-scale model, which was cast in various media in several editions dating from the artist's lifetime until well into our century.

"Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection," page 108


  • Title: Ugolino and his Children
  • Date Created: 1860, cast c. 1871
  • Physical Dimensions: Overall: 19 x 14 3/4 x 10 5/8 in. (48.26 x 37.47 x 27 cm)
  • Type: Sculpture
  • External Link: https://www.dma.org/object/artwork/5031874/
  • Medium: Bronze
  • Credit Line: Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O'Hara Fund
  • Artist Nationality: French
  • Artist: Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux

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