(b. 1475, Caprese, d. 1564, Roma)

River God

c. 1524
Unbaked clay
Casa Buonarroti, Florence

Michelangelo took the greatest pains to predetermine the appearance of his carvings. On at least one occasion, for the New Sacristy in San Lorenzo, he also made full-scale models for several of the figures. Only one such model, the River God has survived. Pressure to finish the decoration of the chapel may have forced him to act uncharacteristically in this instance since, during this period, he was also assisted by contemporaries including Raffaello da Montelupo and Niccolò Tribolo, who were contracted to carve figures under his direction.

The sculpture was intended to be placed at the base of a Medici tomb in the New Sacristy. However, it was never completed, and instead Bartolomeo Ammanati gave the clay torso to the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno on April 28 1583. Since 1965, the torso has part of the Casa Buonarroti collection.