Friday, June 6, 2014

131. ... David ...

Today started off with a very early rise and a bus into the centre of Florence to join the queue at the Galleria dell'accademia - doors open at 8:15 and I am about 50 from the front !!! ... The Gallery houses Florentine artworks from the 15th and 16th centuries ...

... a very unimposing street facade 
belies the glorious treasures within ...
and just look at the length of that queue ...


... however the Galleria's main attraction is the mighty David ...



David is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture created between 1501 and 1504, by the Italian artist Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni ( … better known to us all as just Michelangelo ). 

 

David is over 5 metres tall, weighs just on 6 tons and is carved in a solid piece of marble from the Fantiscritti quarries in Miseglia, the central of three small valleys in Carrara. The statue represents the Bliblical hero David – the boy who slew the mighty Goliath with his simple slingshot - and saved the Israelites from the conquering Philistines ...… 

 

He is depicted here looking tense and confident probably after he has made the decision to fight Goliath but before the battle has actually taken place, a moment between conscious choice and action. His brow is drawn, his neck tense and the veins bulge out of his lowered right hand. The twist of his body effectively conveys to the viewer the feeling that he is in motion. 

 

Originally commissioned as one of a series of statues of prophets to be positioned along the roofline of the east end of Florence Cathedral ( ... see previous blog post ... ), the statue was placed instead in a public square, outside the Palazzo della Signoria - the seat of civic government in Florence - and it was unveiled on 8 September 1504. Because of the nature of the hero that it represented, it soon came to symbolize the defense of civil liberties embodied in the Florentine Republic, an independent city-state threatened on all sides by more powerful rival states and by the hegemony of the Medici family. The eyes of David, with a warning glare, were turned towards Rome.

 
 

The completed statue took four days to be moved the half mile from Michelangelo's workshop into the Piazza della Signoria where it stood for over 300 years. It was moved into the safer surrounds of the Galleria dell‘accademia in 1873. 

 

In 1991, a man attacked the statue with a hammer he had concealed beneath his jacket, in the process damaging the toes of the left foot, before being restrained. Today, visitors to the Museum have to go through airport-like security scans before being allowed in … 

In 2010, a dispute over the ownership of David arose when, based on a legal review of historical documents, the Italian Culture Ministry claimed ownership of the statue in opposition to the city of Florence, where it has always been located  - and as far as I know that dispute is on-going ... !!! 

 

Michelangelo’s David has become one of the most recognized works of Renaissance sculpture, becoming a symbol of both strength and youthful human beauty. The proportions of the David are atypical of Michelangelo's work; the figure has an unusually large head and hands ( particularly apparent in the right hand ). These enlargements may be due to the fact that the statue was originally intended to be placed on the Cathedral roofline, where the important parts of the sculpture would necessarily be accentuated in order to be visible from below.



Within half-an-hour of opening, the Galleria was packed with visitors, school students on art-excursions and the dreaded tour-groups ... the doors are open for ten hours each day,  six days a week and the queue outside is never ending - so this young man has certainly become a major attraction to millions of curious tourists and art-lovers over the decades ...  

  
 ... David surely must be the most photographed man in history ... !!! ...

 ... of course not everyone was in raptures - 
these two men were more interested in playing computer games ... !!! ...

 

So after suffering a severe bout of hyperkulturaemia ( a psychosomatic disorder that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art of great beauty ... ), I had to leave David to explore the rest of the museum, and tomorrow I'll take you with me ...