From his interlaced toes through his knotted back to his drawn face, the figure of Ugolino is one of the greatest sculptural expressions of mental anguish. A victim of political intrigue, Count Ugolino was locked in a tower along with his sons and grandsons, forced to choose between starvation and cannibalism. The figures are arranged in a pyramid, with heads and arms swirling upward towards the tormented visage of Ugolino. Carpeaux laboured over this masterpiece while living in Rome, reworking the composition numerous times. The great mountain of marble is pierced to create deep pools of shadow among the five entwined bodies that play against the white marble.