The Other David

  • In my age of reason class, we have recently been studying a lot of art from the Renaissance. Recently, we have been studying the statue of David a bit and I decided to take a closer look at the importance and significance of David.  The portrayal of David in the sculpture by Donatello is one of the most important sculptures of the early Renaissance. The significance of the statue of David is very great. First of all, it was the first free standing nude sculpture of the Renaissance and David’s nakedness is very significant and important.  Before then, the body was seen as a path to corruption so it was not to be celebrated but, the statue of David changed that. David’s nakedness further enhanced the idea of the presence of God. I think it’s very interesting that the nakedness of David in the sculpture had so much significance to God and the importance of the body. The sculpture is made out of bronze, tin, and copper and it is known to look alive and come at you when you are standing near it. The choice of bronze, the nudity, and the “contrapposto” pose all put this work in the Humanist context of emulating the antique. David looks very young in the sculpture. David also looks very smooth and refined in the picture which makes it hard to realize he just came back from a battle with Goliath. The story of David and Goliath comes from 1 Samuel 17. The Israelites are fighting the Philistines, whose best warrior – Goliath – repeatedly offers to meet the Israelites’ best warrior in man-to-man combat to decide the whole battle. Nobody was brave enough to accept the challenge besides the Shepherd boy David. He hits Goliath in the head with a stone, knocking the giant down, and then grabs Goliath’s sword and cuts off his head. In the statue, David is standing on the now severed head of Goliath. In one hand David holds a sword and in the other, a rock which took down Goliath. The stature of David was placed in the center of the courtyard of theMedici Palace in Florence. Most scholars think that the statue was commissioned by Cosimo de’ Medici but the date of its creation was unknown and widely disputed. The stature of David is very, very important to the city of Florence because the Florentine people related to David. During previous wars and conflicts, the Florentine people were always the underdogs and they really appreciated the honor and bravery of David. Overall, the statue of David meant a lot to the city of Florence and it was the first free standing nude sculpture which was very groundbreaking and instrumental for artists who wanted to make nude sculptures.

Citations:
http://vimeo.com/31516710

“Donatello’s David.” http://www.employeesoneonta.edu. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Mar 2012. <http://employees.oneonta.edu/farberas/arth/arth213/donatello_david.html&gt;.

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6 comments

  1. mralexacademic2014

    Hi Zach,
    Very interesting post. I had never realized that the David statue was the first nude statue in the renaissance, which, as you correctly pointed out, would have been a very important milestone in art. Your post kind of made me wonder though, if the value of the naked human body changed so much in the time between the middle ages and Renaissance, how much has it changed since? Again, very interesting post, and very enjoyable to read. Thanks

    • zach2342

      Hi Alex, thank you for taking the time to read my post and leave me some feedback. And to answer your question, personally I think that after Donatello constructed this statue of David, it opened the doors for many other artists and made them more and more comfortable with expressing the nude body. I think as the comfort with depicting the nude body in art has progressed, today people don’t even really consider nude art as vulgar or disrespectful but simply as art.

  2. claire1431

    Great Post Zach! It is interesting to read about all of the different status of David. This nude statue of David clearly changed art. I wonder how that has affected the art today? Because David was displayed in florence in public, and it was the first nude statue to be displayed in public, I wonder how that affected others and did the statue of David affect how other artists construct their own art today. Thanks!

    • zach2342

      Hi Claire! Thank you for reading my post and the positive comments, I really appreciate it. I personally think that because Donatello broke the ice you could say in terms of nude sculptures, it opened the door for many artists after that and today. Thanks again!

  3. allie0607

    Hi Zach 🙂 awesome job on your post, it was very interesting to read. I was wondering if you had an idea about what the significance of Davids young age had as apposed to making him more mature as most artists resulted to during the renaissance period? Thanks 🙂

    • zach2342

      Hi Allie! Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post, I really appreciate it. To answer your question, I’m not totally sure what the significance was of David’s young age other than the fact that in the battle against Goliath, he was seen as a young, petty, shepherd boy and his young age might make him seem more vulnerable and like an underdog which helped him relate to the Florentine people.

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