One may begin by considering the social status of adult men in quattrocento Florence. To prepare themselves to assume the responsibilities of heading a family unit, males from this social environment customarily postponed their marriage and sired children only after they had achieved a measure of status in the community. The resultant gaps in age contributed to psychological rifts between husbands and their wives and between fathers and their children. In the special case of the father-son relationship, the division caused by the discrepancy in age was exacerbated by prevalent mores and patterns of social interaction. Boys were easily intimidated by fathers who adhered to the moral principles of gravity and self-control. The /p. 32 ethic of the Florentine merchant inhibited the display of affection and undermined strivings for emotional contact. Additionally, fathers of the mercantile elite took the business of rearing their male progeny with deadly seriousness. They aspired to raise dutiful and responsible heirs who would perpetuate the estate and augment the family’s honor, and, to these ends, a male child’s upbringing and education tended to be extremely strict and highly regulated. Florentine youth were not allowed to develop according to their innate tendencies or desires; rather, their conduct and actions were closely supervised by the controlling hand of fathers and their appointed surrogates.
A useful interpretive strategy has been to place the statue in the context of fifteenth century notions of male identity. Whereas girls became brides in their teens, men did not marry generally until their mid-twenties or later. Adolescence was thus an extended period between childhood and full adult maturity for the male in Renaissance Florence. Portraits of youthful males like the Botticelli above have a strong effeminate quality. The figure’s slim proportions, long locks of hair, and detached glance parallel those of the Donatello David. The social construction of the adolescent in Renaissance Florence is given visual form in these representations.
The creation of the work is undocumented. Most scholars assume the statue was commissioned by Cosimo de’ Medici, but the date of its creation is unknown and widely disputed; suggested dates vary from the 1420s to the 1460s (Donatello died in 1466), with the majority opinion recently falling in the 1440s, when the new Medici Palace designed by Michelozzo was under construction.  According to one theory, it was commissioned by the Medici family in the 1430s to be placed in the center of the courtyard of the old Medici Palace. Alternatively it may have been made for that position in the new Palazzo Medici, where it was placed later, which would place the commission in the mid-1440s or even later. The statue is only recorded there by 1469. The Medici family were exiled from Florence in 1494, and the statue was moved to the courtyard of the Palazzo della Signoria (the marble David was already in the palazzo). It was moved to the Palazzo Pitti in the 17th century, to the Uffizi in 1777, and then finally, in 1865, to the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, where it remains today.    
Donatello, then in his early twenties, was commissioned to carve a statue of David in 1408, to top one of the buttresses of Florence Cathedral, though it was never placed there. Nanni di Banco was commissioned to carve a marble statue of Isaiah, at the same scale, in the same year. One of the statues was lifted into place in 1409, but was found to be too small to be easily visible from the ground and was taken down; both statues then languished in the workshop of the opera for several years.    In 1416, the Signoria of Florence commanded that the David be sent to the Palazzo della Signoria; evidently the young David was seen as an effective political symbol, as well as a religious hero. Donatello was asked to make some adjustments to the statue (perhaps to make him look less like a prophet), and a pedestal with an inscription was made for it: PRO PATRIA FORTITER DIMICANTIBUS ETIAM ADVERSUS TERRIBILISSIMOS HOSTES DII PRAESTANT AUXILIUM (“To those who fight bravely for the fatherland the gods lend aid even against the most terrible foes”). 
3. Donatello’s later David was the first freestanding bronze cast statue of the Renaissance era as well as the first nude sculpture of a male since the classical sculptures of ancient Greece.
7. Although the original bronze David by Donatello remains in Florence, several copies are on display in locations around the world, including a rendition in plaster in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, a marble replica in the Royal Botanic Gardens, and a plaster version in Connecticut’s Slater Museum.
- unexpected representation of the story of David and Goliath (how the boy and scene was characterized in the story)
- Why? triumphal victorious figure (he just defeated the Giant, the whole Israelite army was afraid, and he had God’s might on his side!) but we see a thoughtful, quiet, contemplative face
- downcast eyes + the lids are half closed= not an expression of victory
- subtle pride: the facial muscles are relaxed, the mouth is lightly closed + smile small
- the face of thought not boasting: David if reflecting on killing the Giant and the might of God, he understands it was God that made him victorious, has wisdom with Gods intervention
- Public structure= it was put in a niche high up in one of the buttresses of the Cathedral of Florence and commissioned by the Office of Works for the Cathedral
- courtyard of the Medici Palace in Florence (private and intimate setting)
Donatello, David, late 1420s-late1450s. Bronze 5′ 2″ high. Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence.
Sometime in the mid-1400s, The Medici Family of Florence deemed Donatello qualified for commission of the family’s art. Created for Palazzo Medici, this statue was first displayed in his courtyard, making it the first freestanding nude sculpture since ancient times. Before this piece was created, most still believed that nudity should not be used in majestic and beautiful context, or to represent gods, heroes or athletes. However, this David sculpture brings back the heroic sense of nudity from classical times since it depicts David after his victory over Goliath. The representation of David in their courtyard suggests that the Medici’s believed that they were responsible for Florence’s prosperity and freedom.