Visiting the magnificent Statue of David, designed and created by the most famous sculptor in the world, is definitely one of the most fascinating things to do in Tuscany. Before you head off to the Accademia, guide book in hand, however, it is a good idea to learn a little about the Renaissance masterpiece first. |
Michelangelo was one of the three most influential craftsmen of his time; the other two being Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci. In 1501 Michelangelo was commissioned to work on a marble structure of ‘David’, which had originally been intended as a feature for the Duomo in the centre of Florence. The statue never made it to the cathedral though and instead was placed in the Piazza della Signoria, outside the civic hall.
Three years in the making, the incredible piece of art became an icon of the city. No one had ever seen a depiction of the famous David quite like this before. The artists who had portrayed David had always shown him standing victorious over his conquest, Goliath, whereas Michelangelo decided to show him before he went into battle. His face represents apprehension rather than triumph.
David’s Connection to the City of Florence
The statue’s link to the city has long been debated but the general consensus among historians is that it is largely political. He is believed to represent the spirit of Florence during times of adversity. During the Renaissance period Florence was firmly under the control of the powerful Medici family, and it is believed that David’s steely stare and the anticipation in his eyes can be interpreted as the city’s commitment to defend itself.
When you witness the brilliant creation, you will really appreciate why a visit to see it is one of the best things to do in Tuscany. The overwhelming beauty of the male form that epitomises health, youth and vitality is simply breathtaking.
“For in it may be seen most beautiful contours of legs, with attachments of limbs and slender outlines of flanks that are divine; nor has there ever been seen a pose so easy, or any grace to equal that in this work, or feet, hands and head so well in accord, one member with another, in harmony, design, and excellence of artistry.” Giorgio Vasari, the author of what is regarded as the first ever art history document.
Michelangelo received great acclaim for the detailing in his work, even though some believe that the statue’s head and hand are disproportionately large in comparison to the rest of the body. One reason for this may have been that originally the art work was to be placed on the roof of the cathedral and therefore viewed from below. In an attempt to accommodate this viewing perspective, the artist made the hand and head larger.
David in 2021
Today the enormous piece of marble is located in the Accademia Museum. It was moved there in 1873 in an effort to protect it from the elements, although there is still a copy of the original in the square.
When making your list of the best things to do in Tuscany, a visit to see this truly awesome artistic creation has got to be top of the list. Book a tour with a local operator and your experience will be made even more interesting and memorable.
Mauro Bramante is the Director of WalkAbout Florence, an independent business offering unforgettable tours and excursions around Italy including the best things to do in Tuscany. Whether you want to ride a Vintage Vespa, try the famous Chianti wine or get cooking with fresh local ingredients, Mauro's company promises excitement, adventure and above all, fun. If you're keen to experience the magic of Italy with the help of some passionate and knowledgeable tour guides, look no further than WalkAbout Florence for your next getaway.
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