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5 curious facts about Michelangelo's David

Posted by GLflorence on May 4, 2020

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Michelangelo’s David is a symbol for Florence, but you have to know that it was not accepted by the citizens at the beginning. His power, beauty and strength, however, won any opposition. Here’s some curious facts about Michelangelo’s masterpiece you need to know.

Who’s David?

The Biblical figure of David was represented by many artists before Michelangelo, such as Donatello and Verrocchio. However, the pose of the hero chosen by the young artist is unlike that of earlier Renaissance depictions, that showed a victorious man after the battle with Goliath. Michelangelo chose to omit the giant and represent David before the battle instead. Its tense gaze, its muscle and the visible veins give the idea of a fighter who’s ready for the battle. This innovative representation made the sculpture become one of the most famous example of Renaissance art, symbol of men beauty and the freedom of Florence.

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A statue in continuous movement

The statue was created between 1501 and 1504 to be placed in the roofline of the east end of Florence Cathedral, as one of a series of statues of prophets. However, as the sculpture was finished, everybody understood that such a beautiful creation couldn’t stay hidden on the top of the Duomo. They placed it in Piazza della Signoria instead, where everybody could admire the masterpiece. The statue was then moved to the Accademia Gallery, where you can see it today.

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David’s proportions

David’s head, glutes, arms and legs are visibly out of proportion. Its glutes are too narrow while the legs are widely separated and too long. His arms and hands are bigger than normal as well. These odd proportions are not mistakes, though: Michelangelo made them on purpose, to give importance to specific parts of the body. In fact, David looks different from the other statues, acquiring a meaningful expression that you will never forget.

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The story of David’s marble block

Michelangelo’s David was made with Carrara marble. The block used to create the sculpture laid in Florence’s Cathedral for more than 40 years, since its bad conditions made it almost impossible to use. In fact, the block presented some small holes that could make the sculpture unstable, and two other artists tried to use it before, damaging it even more. Michelangelo took up the gauntlet, fixed the holes and started to sculpt the statue that would become one of his most important works of art. It took 3 years to complete it, ending in 1504.

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A long journey

It took 4 days and the strength of 40 men to transfer the statue from Michelangelo’s workshop to Piazza della Signoria. The symbolic value was evident from the beginning, since during the transportation some people who were against the city's new administration throw rocks to it during the night: David was already the symbol of Florence's government power over Medici’s tyranny. The masterpiece was completed once in place, adding some golden decorations at the bottom.  

You can now admire Michelangelo's masterpiece at the Accademia Gallery, Florence. Have a look at our tours and find out more about the most famous statue of the city! 

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