Michelangelo's 
'The Battle of the Centaurs'.

 That a teenager, Michelangelo was seventeen when he produced this work, could execute such a sophisticated piece of sculpture is remarkable.

 The Battle of the Centaurs is a writhing mass of figures three-dimensionally carved into a marble block. The figures are layered in overlapping positions adding to the spacial depth of the work. We can see the artists interest in the massive bulk of the naked male form, a theme that would serve Michelangelo well in future commissions, including his work in the Sistine Chapel.

 That the sculpture has an unfinished roughness adds to the overall mystery as we seek
to make sense of the intertwining human narrative emerging from the stone.

'The Battle of the Centaurs', 1492 Marble Relief, 33x35 inches .
Michelangelo
Buonarrotti
. (s)

 This is probably a demonstration piece showcasing the skill of the artist. The block stands alone and does not appear to be connected to any great work and in fact we have no knowledge of any intended destination for the sculpture. Michelangelo would have been aware of earlier relief works by Donatello and the stone reliefs of antiquity but this was a work that had no fifteenth-century comparison.

Personal Opinion:-

If this is a practice piece of sculpture by Michelangelo he is certainly showing what he can do. In it's rough state it seems to show the artists method of construction and the transition from marble block to a complex array of humanity.
 The title is misleading, it is difficult to distinguish any centaur like creature within the composition. However the central lower figure does seem to have the rear of a horse by it's side.
 The imaginative process that has produced this work, alive with dynamism and movement, is awe inspiring, a true masterpiece.


Detail (s)

 

Is this image a man being crushed by a dying horse or the mythical half-man half-horse centaur?