The two tomb projects are; The Julius Tomb and The Medici Tombs.
The Julius Tomb was commissioned by Pope Julius II in 1505, from drawings made by Michelangelo Pope Julius selected a huge three level monument with over 40 statues. The project was to be completed in five years and Michelangelo was to be paid 10,000 ducats. The Tomb was to be placed in the unfinished Quattrocento choir of St. Peter’s. However Julius decided to build a new church and lost interest in the Tomb project, perhaps because of lack of money.
In May, 1513 after the death of Julius his heirs made a new contract with Michelangelo to continue the project. Now the project was not freestanding, with vast antique connotations, but a wall tomb like many done during the Renaissance. Michelangelo began by creating two slaves (dying slave, rebellious slave c. 1514) which are now in the Louvre in France. Not rigid like the David (1504) and other early works, these figures show movement throughout the body. Like the Ignudi in the Sistine Chapel these slaves represent a change in Michelangelo’s style, maybe less static, with more fluid movement and harmony. Also begun around 1515, Moses is seen by many as his most life-like creation. Work again stopped on this project in 1515 or 1516 as the Pope decided he had other work for Michelangelo in Florence.
After many years of indecision and numerous contracts (beginning in 1532) a final contract for the Julius Tomb was completed in 1542, the Pope insisting on a minimum of three statues by Michelangelo. The massive structure was unveiled in San Pietro in Vincoli in 1547. While many are critical of the final monument, there is little doubt that the Moses, is one of Michelangelo’s best sculptures and that the Moses, along with the unused slaves, and the included sisters, Rachel and Leah, attest to the evolution of his sculptural style.
The second of Michelangelo’s tomb project the Medici funerary chapel, for the Medici family church, San Lorenzo in Florence, is regarded as his greatest sculptural ensemble and an innovative architectural masterpiece. It was commissioned, by Pope Leo X and his cousin Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici who in 1523 became Pope Clement VII, to build four tombs, one each for two Medici Dukes , Giuliano and Lorenzo, who recently died in battle, one for Lorenzo the Magnificent and one for his brother Giuliano. Later when Giulio became Pope the plan was changed to put the Dukes on the side walls and a double-tomb for Lorenzo the Magnificent and his brother under the altar.
In the end only two tombs were built, one for Capitani Giuliano and one for Capitani Lorenzo, each sits in the center niche displaying grace and elegance. Below Giuliano are a female night and a male day, while below Lorenzo are the female Dawn and the male Dusk. These figures continue Michelangelo’s trend toward simplification in his development as an artist. There is less ornament and detail, with greater importance given the single figures. The...