David (Michelangelo)

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David is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture created between 1501 and 1504, by the Italian artist Michelangelo. It is a 5.17 metre (17 foot)[1] marble statue of a standing male nude. The statue represents the Biblical hero David, a favoured subject in the art of Florence.[2] Originally commissioned as one of a series of statues of prophets to be positioned along the roofline of the east end of Florence Cathedral, the statue was instead placed in a public square, outside the Palazzo della Signoria, the seat of civic government in Florence, where it was unveiled on 8 September 1504. Because of the nature of the hero that it represented, it soon came to symbolise the defence of civil liberties embodied in the Florentine Republic, an independent city-state threatened on all sides by more powerful rival states and by the hegemony of the Medici family. The eyes of David, with a warning glare, were turned towards Rome.[3] The statue was moved to the Accademia Gallery in Florence in 1873, and later replaced at the original location by a replica.

Contents

History

The history of the statue precedes Michelangelo's work on it from 1501 to 1504.[4] Prior to Michelangelo's involvement, the Overseers of the Office of Works of the Duomo (Operai), consisting mostly of members of the influential woolen cloth guild, the Arte della Lana, had plans to commission a series of twelve large Old Testament sculptures for the buttresses of the cathedral of Santa Maria Del Fiore.[5] One of those statues had been made by Donatello in 1410 - a figure of Joshua made of terracotta - and a second, also a terracotta, but this time of Hercules, was commissioned from the Florentine sculptor Agostino di Duccio in 1463; scholars suggest that Agostino was working under Donatello's direction.[6] Eager to continue their project, in 1464, the Operai contracted Agostino to create a sculpture of David. A block of marble was provided, from a quarry in Carrara, a town in the Apuan Alps in northern Tuscany. Agostino only got as far as beginning to shape the legs, feet and the torso, roughing out some drapery and probably gouging a hole between the legs. His association with the project ceased, for reasons unknown, with the death of Donatello in 1466, and ten years later Antonio Rossellino was commissioned to take up where Agostino had left off.

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