David by Michelangelo
|Courtesy of www.renaissanceart.org|
Michelangelo is recorded to have begun work on David on September 13, 1501. The piece was commissioned by the Guild of Wool Merchants. The date has been recognized as the beginning of the High Renaissance. The larger than life size of this piece is an indication of a shift in all Renaissance art, for it set a tone for all artists to strive to do more than just imitate nature with their work.
The statue was unveiled outside the Palazzo della Signoria in September 1504. It stood seventeen feet tall and portrayed a staggeringly realistic David with his head turned guardedly to the left. This may have been a reference to a medieval legend that a man is protected on his right by God, but vulnerable to evil on his left. The expression on his face encapsulates Renaissance civic virtues of anger and force. David appears to have locked eyes with an enemy to his left.
Michelangelo's David is sculpted to reflect the ideal male body. His grace and physical prowess make him appear almost divine. He represents a man who is not only physically gifted, but also protected in his battles by God.
In 1873 the statue was moved to the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence. A replica now stands in its original location.