Sometime ago when I was younger and travelling around Europe visiting all the art museums I had studied in my University days, one of the sculptural pieces I admired greatly was the marble sculpture of David in Florence, Italy. “Sculpture is considered the finest art form because it mimics divine creation: The sculptural image is found within the block of stone much as the human soul is found within the physical body”.
Next to some wonderful paintings in the Uffizi Gallery which has several Renaissance masterpieces, this is the one thing in Florence that I just had to see…and it did not disappoint.
The story of David and Goliath is known around the world and celebrated for its theme of ordinary man facing down an often stronger opponent and winning against all odds – the premise for umpteen Hollywood films we have watched over the ages – all with a rock and a slingshot!
The David, perhaps the world’s most famous sculpture, one of Florence’s greatest attractions, stands in the Accademia Gallery at an impressive 17 feet tall (5.16 meters) nearly three times the size of the average man. The sculpture weights 5,660 kg or 12,478.12 lbs and is made out of solid marble.
This masterpiece was created between 1501 and 1504 by Renaissance genius Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, (born March 6, 1475, Caprese, Republic of Florence [Italy]—died February 18, 1564, Rome),
Michelangelo was a noted sculptor, painter, architect, and poet who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art. He was also one of the few artists who saw fame and fortune during his lifetime, largely due to the largess of wealthy patrons.
Michelangelo was 26 years old when he took on the task of sculpting David and worked on it for more than two years, creating a masterpiece that still leaves us in awe, more than 500 years after it was created. When the sculpture was completed in 1504, it took four days to move it from his studio to its original home on the Piazza della Signoria, where a replica now stands. The original was moved inside to protect it from the elements in 1873. In Florence alone, there are two replicas of David, but around the world there are at least 30 full size replicas of the sculpture….the sincerest form of flattery, I guess!
On their own, the “fake David” statues are definitely a work of art, but compared to the original in Accademia, they do not hold a candle. Expecting it to be overrated, I literally gasped in awe when I turned that corner in Accademia and saw the original hovering above the crowd. Bravo Michelangelo, bravo!
Later, Michelangelo would work on the Sistine Chapel for four years at the request of the Pope. It was a difficult job of extraordinary endurance, especially since the tempestuous artist had sacked all of his assistants save one who helped him mix paint. What resulted was a monumental work of great genius illustrating stories from the Old Testament including the Creation of the World and Noah and the Flood. It became (and remains) one of the greatest masterpieces of Western Art. He was 33 years old when he finished the Sistine Chapel.