marble statue of david by donetello

Marble statue of david by donetello
The story of David and Goliath comes from 1 Samuel 17. The Israelites are fighting the Philistines, whose champion – Goliath – repeatedly offers to meet the Israelites’ best warrior in single combat to decide the whole battle. None of the trained Israelite soldiers are brave enough to fight the giant Goliath, until David – a shepherd boy who is too young to be a soldier – accepts the challenge. Saul, the Israelite leader, offers David armor and weapons, but the boy is untrained and refuses them. Instead, he goes out with his sling, and confronts the enemy. He hits Goliath in the head with a stone, knocking the giant down, and then grabs Goliath’s sword and cuts off his head. The Philistines withdraw as agreed and the Israelites are saved. David’s special strength comes from God, and the story illustrates the triumph of good over evil. [1]
There is a full-size plaster cast (with a broken sword) in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. There is also a full-size white marble copy in the Temperate House at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Surrey, a few miles outside central London. In addition to the copies in the United Kingdom, there is also another copy at the Slater Museum at the Norwich Free Academy in Norwich, Connecticut, United States. [28]

It is worth mentioning that some critics have interpreted certain elements of the statue (feather in Goliath’s helmet, David’s hat) to mean that the figure depicted is not David but the Greek God Hermes (the Roman Mercury). However, all references from the Early Renaissance (1400-90) clearly identify the sculpture as David.
Most art scholars believe that the sculpture was commissioned by Cosimo de’ Medici (1389-1464), who had a particularly high opinion of Donatello, but exactly when it was made is not known. Majority opinion appears to favour the 1440s, when the new Medici Palace was designed and built by the Florentine architect Michelozzo di Bartolommeo (1396-1472). In any event, by the time of the wedding of Lorenzo the Magnificent in 1469, the bronze stood in the centre of the courtyard of the Medici palace in Florence. Following the seizure of the Medici palace in 1495, and the expulsion of the Medici family from the city in 1496, the David was placed in the courtyard of the Palazzo della Signoria, where it was installed on a marble column. It was seen here during the mid-16th century by the Mannerist biographer Giorgio Vasari (1511-74) who wrote: “This figure is so natural in its vivacity and softness that artists find it hardly possible to believe it was not moulded on the living form.” During the 17th century it was moved to the Pitti Palace, from where it was taken in 1777 to the Uffizi Gallery. Finally, in 1865, it was transferred to the Bargello museum, where it can be seen today.

Marble statue of david by donetello
We know almost everything about the David by Michelangelo and we have already spoken of the bronze David by Donatello, now we are going to analyze the marble version kept at the National Museum of the Bargello in Florence.
David, life-size, is 191 cm tall, and brings at his feet the inscription “Pro patria fortiter dimicantibus Etia adversus hostes terribilissimos Dii prestant auxilium” ( “The gods give support to the brave fighters for their country even against the most fearsome enemies”.) which underlines its political significance as a symbol of untamed and libertarian nature of the Florentine Republic, a relatively small republic that fight against great powers.

Marble statue of david by donetello
In both statues, David appeared as a physically delicate and quite effeminate being. According to art scholars, the head of this young man was inspired by Antinous’ classical sculpture. Antinous was a famous Hadrian renowned because of his immense beauty. The physique of the sculpture, on the other hand, was rather ambiguous, yet alluring. It also depicted how the youth was able to overcome the mighty Goliath with the help of God instead of his own strength.
The bronze version of this statue was as popular as the bronze cast that was completed during the Renaissance. This work of art features David with an enchanting smile, as he stands with his foot on the severed head of Goliath, after the giant’s defeat. This noble youth wears a pair of boots and a hat topped with laurel, and he bears the sword previously owned by Goliath.

Marble statue of david by donetello
Manet lives at this museum too as I said here the other day and Gauguin with his island Edens,and Cezanne, and of course that long-lived patriarch Claude Monet who could make the same haystack, the same cathedral front at Rouen look a hundred different ways by painting them at different times of the day in a variety of different lights.
These are both in Florence.


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