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Battle of the Centaurs, Sculpture by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564, Italy)
Battle of the Centaurs is a relief by Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo, created around 1492. It was the last work Michelangelo created while under the patronage of Lorenzo de' Medici, who died shortly after its completion. Inspired by a classical relief created by Bertoldo di Giovanni, the unfinished marble sculpture depicts the mythic battle between the Lapiths and the Centaurs. A popular subject of art in ancient Greece, the story was suggested to Michelangelo by the classical scholar and poet Poliziano. Battle of the Centaurs was a remarkable sculpture in several ways, presaging Michelangelo's future sculptural direction. Michelangelo had departed from the then current practices of working on a discrete plane to work multidimensionally. It was also the first sculpture Michelangelo created without the use of a bow drill and the first sculpture to reach such a state of completion with the marks of the subbia chisel left to stand as a final surface. Whether intentionally left unfinished or not, the work is significant in the tradition of "non finito" sculpting technique for that reason. Michelangelo regarded it as the best of his early works, and a visual reminder of why he should have focused his efforts on sculpture.