Ugolino and His Sons, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (1865/7), First [x]; Catalogue [x]
Count Ugolino della Gherardesca of Pisa was charged with treason in 1288, and was consequently locked up by the Gualandi family with his two sons, Gaddo and Uguccione, and two grandsons, Nino and Anselmuccio. The keys were thrown into the Arno and they were left to starve to death. In Dante’s Inferno, he is restricted within ice in the Antenora (second ring in the lowest circle of hell), a place for betrayers of kin and country. Both Carpeaux’s marble (MET) and bronze (Petit Palais) depict Ugolino contemplating the cannibalism that his children are begging for him to enact so that their suffering may end.
'Father our pain', they said,
'will lessen if you eat us. You are the one
who clothed us with this wretched flesh: we plead
for you to be the one who strips it away’.
(Canto XXXIII, ln. 56–59)