Michelangelo’s David: Accademia Gallery’s Gem Artwork!

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Michelangelo, an Italian artist, sculpted the well-known statue of David at Accademia Gallery 

The sculpture, carved from a single slab of white marble, depicts the Biblical figure David, who is represented rising and sporting a determined look on his face before his battle with Goliath.

Michelangelo finished it in 1504, and experts regard it as one of the most outstanding examples of Renaissance art.

In this article, we’ll discover the backstory, history, carving technique, fun facts, and more details about the David sculpture! 

Description & Biblical Story of David’s Statue

The height of Statue of David is a 17-foot marble statue, almost two stories tall, and took about three years to complete between 1501 and 1504.

This Florence statue is a well-known representation of the biblical tale of “David and Goliath.” 

It is believed to depict a real-life person whose story was taken from the Bible.

David stands as a powerful figure preparing to slay Goliath while holding his slingshot, ready to engage the giant.  

This most recognized sculpture of the Renaissance period represents power and beauty in youth.

Originally intended to be displayed on the dome of Florence’s Cathedral, the statue has disproportionately large feet and a large right hand.

According to some art historians, Michelangelo made the hand large to represent David’s nickname, manu fortis, which means “strong of hand.” 

At the same time, the large feet are understood to strengthen the 17-foot (about 5-meter) tall, 6-ton statue. 

Traditionally, David has been shown as triumphant over the dead Goliath following his victory by artists, including Verrocchio, Ghiberti and Donatello.

But, for the first time, Michelangelo depicted David before the battle.

Where can I see David?

The statue of David adorns the Tribune Hall of the Accademia Gallery, which is beyond the famous Hall of Prisoners.

At the Accademia Gallery, Michelangelo’s famous Statue of David is placed beneath a bright skylight, a halo-like dome towering over a long line of artworks.

It is easy to spot the masterpiece from all parts of the Tribune since it stands at a towering height of 17 feet. 

The Tribune also houses other religious works made by artists like Santi di Tito, Alessandro Allori, and others who took inspiration from Michelangelo’s art. 

What is the Best Time to see David in Accademia Gallery?

Since the Tribune, housing David, is the most popular Hall of Accademia Gallery, we recommend visiting before 9 am.

The Gallery is the least crowded at this time of the day, allowing visitors to observe the artwork.

If you cannot visit early in the morning, the Gallery is less crowded after 5 pm. 

Accademia Gallery Tickets to see Michelangelo’s David

You must have Accademia Gallery tickets to see Michelangelo’s famous sculpture in the Hall of Tribune.

The entry tickets can be bought from the gate of Accademia Gallery, but we recommend you get your tickets online to avoid the crowd.

The standard Accademia Gallery skip the line tickets with quick access to the Gallery valid till closing time cost €23 for adults between 25 and 99 years.

You can enjoy a much more informative visit on the Accademia Gallery Guided Tour, costing €52 for adults 18 to 99 years!

These tickets come with many age and EU citizenship-based discounts, which you can access with ID proof. 

The History and Artist Michelangelo Buonarotti

The administrators of the Office of Works of the Cathedral of Florence, the Opera, commissioned the David statue for the cathedral in 1501.

Michelangelo was responsible for creating a statue of David from a marble block left unfinished by other artists many years earlier.

At 26, Michelangelo started one of his most recognizable sculptures, the David. 

Michelangelo worked alone without assistance, concealing himself behind a wooden cage for 18 months.

Even while the Pietà for St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, which Michelangelo finished two years earlier, demonstrated the young artist’s artistic brilliance, David established his fame.

That fame still lingers even today, 500 years later, luring eager tourists and art enthusiasts to Florence in search of its greatness.

As Michelangelo famously said, ”The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aims too high and falling short, but in setting it too low and achieving our mark.”

He truly did succeed in his pursuit of greatness.

It was meant to be one of several sculptures along the cathedral’s roofline. 

However, at the unveiling in January 1504, everyone agreed it was too perfect to position it so high in the cathedral.

Thus, the Florentine administration decided to install the sculpture in the political heart of Florence, in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. 

In 1873, they transferred the statue to the Galleria dell’Accademia to safeguard it from harm and further deterioration.

Techniques used to sculpt the Masterpiece 

Michelangelo worked on the sculpture, so most of his unique techniques still remain unknown to researchers.

Ascanio Condivi, who wrote Michelangelo’s biography, says that he first created a wax model of the sculpture.

He submerged it in a pool of water and sculpted the features of David in order as the water kept reducing.

Michelangelo incorporated the element of Contrapposto to David, balancing most of the statue’s weight on one leg.

This gave the sculpture some movement, making it appear alive today!

Michelangelo used a bow and a drill known as Trapano to carve David’s eyes and curly hair. 

He only used toothed chisels to carve the masterpiece you see today, completely doing away with flat chisels! 

The Controversy Behind David by Michelangelo

The nudity of David’s statue is what makes it so controversial, especially since it is a biblical figure.

Michelangelo faced harsh criticism for his nude figures, even in his famous Sistine Chapel frescos of Vatican City!

When David stood in Piazza della Signoria, a garland of 28 copper leaves was installed around the waist of the statue, which was only removed in 1550. 

Did you know that Queen Victoria commissioned a detachable fig leaf to cover the naked replica of David sent to her?

Visitors also speculate that the statue was first placed outside Florence’s Government office to show defiance against the Medici family.

This caused the statue to be attacked with a chair in 1527 by an anti-Medici riot, which resulted in the arm breaking into three pieces. 

Fun Facts about Accademia Gallery’s David

Here are some less-known exciting facts about David at the Accademia Gallery so you can show off your knowledge to your family and friends!

  • Donatello worked for over 50 years on the statue before it was passed on to Michelangelo. He was the fourth sculptor to craft David. 
  • Michelangelo made a mistake when sculpting David’s eyes, as the left eye looks to the front while the right looks at some distant spot in another direction. This mistake was only spotted in the 20th century when Standford University organized a Digital Michelangelo Project.
  • Forty men and four days were needed to carry the massive statue to the Accademia Gallery from Piazza della Signoria.

David’s Replicas in Florence

While the original David still stands tall in the Accademia Gallery, you can find two statue replicas elsewhere in Florence.

You can find an almost exact duplicate of the statue in Duomo Square (Piazza della Signoria), where it originally stood.

Another bronze replica of David is on a hillside in Michelangelo Square (Piazzale Michelangelo). 

FAQs on Michelangelo’s David Statue

1. Where is Michelangelo’s David located?

2. How tall is Michelangelo’s David?

3. Who was the model for Michelangelo’s David?

4. What is David holding in Michelangelo’s David?

5. When was Michelangelo’s David created?

6. What is the controversy behind David?

7. Where are David’s Florence replicas located?

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