Ugolino and His Sons The Met NYC

The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Ugolino and His Sons

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.

Ugolino and His Sons The Met NYC

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.

Ugolino and His Sons The Met NYC

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.




7 thoughts on “The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Ugolino and His Sons

  1. I am looking forward to laying my eyes upon Ugolino, dear Lyz, and tell him that he is lucky to have such a wonderful introduction for his sons and himself. Need I carry any offering apart from my hungry eyes and soul? xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s an incredible statue! I got excited reading this because Ugolino features in a famous episode in Dante’s Inferno, one of my favourite pieces of literature. Ugolino’s punishment is to be frozen in the same ice shaft as the guy who condemned him and his sons to starvation, and he is forever to gnaw on the other guy’s head. In the Dante version, the children beg their father to eat them in order that he stay alive. The poem is pretty heart rending too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I know! I was considering telling the entire story but didn’t know if I’d be too much, so I just used the short version on the plaque. It’s such an interesting tale. Imagine someone coming up with something like this. And imagine the hours of dedication and desire for perfection in carving out this statue! It’s incredible. Do you think I should have included the entire story? Maybe it’s origin in Dante’s Inferno. I should add that. Thank you darling. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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