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Michelangelo's David

Florence – The Secrets of Michelangelo’s David

Conserved in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, the David is a marble sculpture by Michelangelo Buonarroti, dated between 1501 and early 1504. Widely considered a masterpiece of world sculpture, a symbol of the Renaissance as well as a city emblem, all kinds of anecdotes and curiosities circulate around it.

Firstly, let us start with the location. The David was originally supposed to be placed on the roof of the Duomo, but a sculpture weighing 4 metres and 5 tonnes could be dangerous. Legend has it that the envious Leonardo, in order to obscure it, wanted to place it under the Loggia dei Lanzi. In the end, however, Filippino Lippi’s proposal prevailed and the David was placed in front of Palazzo Vecchio, where we see its copy today, so that it would be visible to all.

And what about its appearance? The statue, as we know, depicts the young David in one of the most cathartic moments of his fight with the giant Goliath and also one of the most unusual: the boy’s concentration before throwing the stone. The body is athletic, young, taut to the max. His neck is turned, his gaze gazing into the distance, towards the enormous stature of his rival. The right leg supports the whole body, the left is ready to shoot. Large, almost disproportionate hands emphasise the most important parts. And then there is the nose. It is said that Pier Soderini, Gonfalonier of Florence, was first summoned to view the sculpture. After looking at it for a long time, he exclaimed: ‘Well, beautiful is beautiful…But, that nose… Didn’t you make it too big?

Then, according to the legend, Michelangelo let out a deep sigh, picked up some marble dust from the ground, climbed the ladder and pretended to give the nose a few taps, causing the dust to fall from above. In this way he deluded Soderini into thinking that he had made some changes to the face of the David. This amusing anecdote, more legend than truth, is however illustrative of Michelangelo’s character, who would never have agreed to alter anything in his work at the behest of someone else.

Not even the great master, however, could have imagined the success he would have. Have you ever wondered how many copies of the David exist? Excluding all those sold in souvenir shops, there are no less than 16 1:1 copies of this extraordinary work, scattered all over the world.

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