A… long-lived Gentleman

“With no doubt those who admire this (statue) do not need to take the trouble to see any others, whoever is or will be the sculptor or whenever they may be realized.” (Giorgio Vasari, Vitae).

With these words from his work Vitae, Giorgio Vasari describes one of the world’s most important and renowned masterpiece for its grace, beauty and elegance, and for realistically representing the human anatomy and its expressions. It’s the best representation of what it is supposed to symbolize, that is a biblical worrier-hero who, for the first time, becomes the symbol of the brave man, ready to defend his rights and ideas against a society which seemed to fold up under the oppression of a despotic tyranny.

Maybe this short introduction has been helpful for you to understand who I am writing about, or maybe not… But if you haven’t still met him, I strongly suggest you wait in queues even for a long time once in life for meeting him, but do not worry, he doesn’t grow old as time passes by,…He hasn’t been changing since the past five centuries, immortalized in that eternal moment that expresses his concentration, that very instant just before the showdown.

And who except of Michelangelo‘s David could deserve such an introduction? I don’t have the pretention to write you about such a historically and artistically relevant masterpiece this month, I would simply like to write a few saws about the creation of this statue, even if maybe you already know something about that.

As a matter of fact, David‘s story is quite odd, but it becomes clearer and logical if we realize that we are speaking about a genius of chisel such as Michelangelo.

Rumors has it that the statue is derived from an enormous low quality Carrara marble block (not carefully chosen at the quarry).

Michelangelo was in Rome (after Lorenzo the Magnificent‘s death) when the Dome Opera engaged him to realize a statue which was originally supposed to be placed at one of the external buttresses of Santa Maria del Fiore apse. That marble block had been lying by the Opera stores since long time before Michelangelo’s engagement, who turned the marble block into the Giant just three years after. Because of its low quality (there were plenty of taroli – very little holes in the marble, later plastered by Michelangelo) and its enormous size, that marble block was abandoned to its sad fate by those who tried to carve it before the Genius: Agostino di Duccio and Antonio Rossellino. When they tried to realize the statue lower part, they were both forced to give up since, according to the original project, the base or pedestal was supposed to be more narrow than the upper part (being the first represented by the statue’s leg, instead of an usual large base).

When Michelangelo got that marble block then, it didn’t only have those natural defects I have already written about, but it had also been spoiled. But there would be at least a reason if Michelangelo was said to be a genius! He didn’t start to lose hearth and didn’t demand for a new marble block: he began to rogh-hew the marble has he always did: he was charged with the task of setting sculptures free from the marble, helping them get out from under a shapeless material. The result is an impressive statue representing a biblical hero dressed as a brave warrior, who stands out for defending republican values through its realistic, anatomic nudity.

Initially a remedy for previous mistakes, the statue then became a social and political symbol, considered unique in Florentines’ history.

Nowadays the David is having a rest at Galleria dell’Accademia, ready to tell his story to thousands of tourists who daily crowd his room… And who knows which other secrets he could unveil…maybe just about his creator’s life, that was said to be long and anything but boring!


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