Michelangelo’s David is one of the most famous sculptures around the world. Millions travel to the Galleria Dell’Accademia in Florence to marvel at this giant, gleaming statue of the chiseled hero. More than 500 years have passed since its completion, yet the statue never ceases to amaze those who undertake the journey to see.
The David statue is one of the most recognized statues in the world and is known for its beauty, craftsmanship, and intricacy. However, there are still some lesser-known facts about this masterpiece most people are unaware of. If you want to learn more about this classic Renaissance classic, keep on reading.
1. Michelangelo’s David Was Carved from a Single Block of Marble
Most of us have seen or have heard about the magnificent giant statue of David. However, most people don’t know that it was carved from one single block of Carrara marble. This popular marble has been used for both buildings and statues for centuries. Some famous examples of construction include the Marble Arch in London, the Pantheon, Trajan’s Column, and the beautiful Siena Cathedral in Tuscany.
The marble block David is carved from was brought to Florence in 1464 from the Fantiscritti quarry in Miseglia, Carrara. Despite it not being the best quality and having microscopic holes in it, Michelangelo managed to turn it into a masterpiece within three years.
2. Michelangelo’s David Statue is Larger than Life
Seeing pictures of Michelangelo’s David isn’t enough. Millions go and visit this historic statue each year. We can’t blame them – pictures don’t capture how massive the statue is. It may seem like the size of the average man when you’re looking at it online, but in reality, David is over 17 feet high. The statue is also 12,478 pounds, the weight of 80 adult men. When people wonder, “How tall is Michelangelo’s David?” that’s not the answer they expect. However, it was essential for the statue to be larger than life since it was originally made for the ceiling of the Florence Cathedral and had to be large enough for people to view it from the pews.
Since the statue was so large and stunning, it was decided that it would be displayed where more people could appreciate it. Locals nicknamed Michelangelo’s David “colosso” or “giant” because it took four days and forty men to push the statue to its home in the Piazza della Signoria. This was the statue’s resting place for three and a half centuries before it was moved to its current location in the Galleria Dell’Accademia in 1872. Here, it stands on display for all to see and it is protected from the elements.
3. David Isn’t Perfect
Michelangelo’s David may have been regarded as the epitome of male physical beauty, but the statue isn’t perfect. Since Michelangelo was a master at proportions, it’s believed that Michelangelo carved the arms, hands, and head out of proportion on purpose. There are many theories about the reasons behind this artistic choice. One is that so certain body parts are given more importance than others.
Another is so that the statue would look more alert when viewed from below, as it was originally intended. Most historians agree that one of the reasons the statue’s hands are so big is because it’s a nod of acknowledgment to David’s nickname, “manu fortis” which translates to “strong of hand.”
This isn’t all that’s imperfect about David. Upon closer inspection, viewers will notice that David has a squint and is slightly cross-eyed. While his left eye looks forward, his right eye looks away into the distance. Believed to be intentional, this was done to honor the Roman masters that Michelangelo looked up to in order to show that he wasn’t equal to them.
4. Michelangelo Wasn’t the First to Work on David
Most people don’t know that the block of marble that was destined to become Michelangelo’s David had been previously worked on and rejected by two different artists, Antonio Rossellino, and Agostino di Duccio. The marble’s poor quality made it difficult to work with, and both artists gave up.
42 years later, Michelangelo accepted the challenge and used the flawed block of marble to create the David statue. He worked on it for just under three years and completed it in 1504. What was once a rejected slab of marble is now one of the world’s most revered and visited pieces of art.
5. Why is the Statue of David a Renaissance Masterpiece?
What makes Michelangelo’s David stand out? Questions like these are asked even now centuries after the completion of this marble masterpiece to understand its great impact on the art world. One of the main reasons Michelangelo’s David is a statue unlike any other is because Michelangelo managed to subvert expectations by refusing to show David as everyone else did – triumphant after his victory over Goliath. Instead, he chose to show him before the fight, his eyebrows furrowed with anxiety.
As mentioned earlier this incredible work of marble sculptor must be seen in person and up close to truly understand and appreciate its overall greatness. Calling Michelangelo’s David a masterpiece still does not give this incredible work of art true justice. It is the pinnacle of Florentine Renaissance art and one of the most famous works of art in the history of mankind.