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The David by Michelangelo and marble

The David is a sculpture created with Carrara marble by Michelangelo Buonarroti.

The David is a sculpture crafted from Carrara marble by Michelangelo Buonarroti between 1501 and 1504. It stands at 5.17 meters tall and is the first nude statue of the Renaissance period. The biblical hero is depicted in the moment as he prepares to face Goliath, the Philistine giant.

In his right hand, he tightly holds the stone with which he will defeat the enemy; the right arm is relaxed despite the tension in the hand. His proud and focused gaze is directed towards the giant. The composition is classical: the chiastic movement progresses from the bottom to the top, from the polished legs through the powerful torso, reaching up to the head, the seat of thought and reason. We know that the artist, then just over twenty-five years old, worked on the masterpiece continuously for two years.

The statue was commissioned by the consuls of the Arte della Lana and the Operai del Duomo of Florence with the intention of placing it on one of the external buttresses in the apse area of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. The marble block had been previously roughed out by Agostino di Duccio in 1464 and by Antonio Rossellino in 1476, but both artists abandoned the work, judging the marble too fragile to support the weight only on the leg area. Indeed, the main problem with the rough carving was the fragility of the material, due to its poor quality, the presence of numerous cracks and holes, called taroli, and the intrinsic tendency of that type of marble to spalling, i.e., the loss of cohesion of the crystals.

The block was particularly friable, especially in the area under the current left arm, and there were concerns that, once carved, it would not be able to support the weight of the figure on the legs alone. Michelangelo took the initiative to fill and cover the veins with lime mortar, restoring smoothness to the surface. The artist succeeded excellently in his intent, and for his masterpiece, it was eventually decided to place it prominently outdoors, in front of Palazzo Vecchio, symbolizing the strength of the new Florentine republic.


The David by Michelangelo and marble
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