One of the most famous, if not the most famous sculptor in history, is Michelangelo. His most celebrated piece of Cararra marble is undoutably his masterpiece David.
Today, Michelangelo’s work still remains the best, and this is because for his time, he was the best, and today, there is simply nothing to really compare it to. Something that most people wouldn’t know about one of his iconic works, is that it became a centre of controversy for many years when it was first unveiled. So how did Michelangelo’s David became political? If you hesitate whether exploring this topic instead of doing your college assignments is wise or not, it definitely is! The perfect solution to fight your fears about grades is using coursework writing services UK, which will be happy to be hired to do your writing for you.
For an in-depth analysis of the masterpiece, check out this great Youtube clip below from Great Art Explained
Who was Michelangelo?
Michelangelo was an architect, painter, sculptor, and poet, who was born in Florence, March 6 1475. He is one of the most famous historical figures and is naturally celebrated in the world of art as one of the greatest artists to have ever lived. The man in question created many wonderful pieces of art throughout his lifetime, with most of them still being able to be seen today.
One of the things that made him famous was the fact that he attempted to, and did portray humans in such a way that was unheard of in his time. Michelangelo used space, physical realism, complexity, psychological tension, shadow and light to create some of the most realistic sculptures ever seen.
His most celebrated work also includes the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which he completed between 1508 and 1512, the Pieta (1 of 3), which he completed in 1499. Of course, his most famous piece of Carrera marble, David, caused quite the fuss when it was first unveiled.
Michelangelo used space, physical realism, complexity, psychological tension, shadow and light to create some of the most realistic sculptures ever seen.
Why was it political?
When the sculpture was first unveiled, it quickly became highly political, unfortunately, this is not what Michelangelo had intended when he created it. David was created when Michelangelo was commissioned by the cloth guild Arte Della Lana to create something that displayed their religious devotion. The original place where the sculpture was originally to be placed was inside Florence’s cathedral, however, when the sculpture was close to being finished, the location was changed.
David was created when Michelangelo was commissioned by the cloth guild Arte Della Lana
The location of the statue was to be outside of Florence’s town hall; the Palazzo Della Signoria, or what we often refer to as the Palazzo Vecchio. This within itself was not such a controversial thing, since there were many statues outside the town hall, it was political activity at the time that caused the controversy.
The Medici family was exiled from Florence to Rome in 1504, and since the town hall was now occupied by an anti-Medicean government, and David was outside of it, facing Rome, it was seen as a political statement. To some it appeared that David was facing off, towards Rome, ready to aim his sling at the exiled Medicis. To their many supporters, this was seen as a grave insult to their beloved former de facto rulers of the city and an overtly political message. This interpretation saw their political supporters pelt stones at the aforementioned masterpiece, leaving David at the Mercy of the masses. However, when the Medici family returned sometime later, the heroic statue was allowed to remain. Later, in 1527, during a time of political unrest and riots, David’s arm was unfortunately broken in 3 places.
It wasn’t just in the 16th century when David caused a stir. Remember this classic episode of the Simpsons when David came to Springfield?
To some it appeared that David was facing off, towards Rome, ready to aim his sling at the exiled Medicis.
Interesting facts about David
As mentioned previously, the statue was commissioned to be created by the guild of wool merchants wanting to show their devotion to their religion, although you might not have guessed that, since David is naked. Another interesting fact is that although the position of David’s body might make you think that he is right-handed, he is actually left-handed; this is gathered by the fact that he is holding the slingshot in his left hand.
Perhaps one of the most interesting facts about the statue is that the block that Michelangelo used has a long history of its own, and is around 40 years old. The block was first used by Agostino di Duccio, who decided that the project wasn’t worth it, and Antonio Rossellino also gave up on the block since it was too difficult to work with.
There is actually more than one David; the original one can be found in the Academia Museum, whilst a full-sized copy today stands in the place where it caused so much controversy.
There is actually more than one David; the original one can be found in the Academia Museum
Lastly, even though today all but the artistically tone-deaf appreciate David, controversy aside, it was seen as a masterpiece in the 16th century, with a contemporary quoted as saying “once you have seen David, you don’t need to see any other sculpture, now, or into the future, because there is and will be nothing better.”
Take a 1 minute Journey through magical Florence, Michelangelos home city, with Culture Tick
What’s your favourite work by Michelangelo? Tell us in the comments below