Michelangelo Buonarotti was born in Florence in 1475 and died there in 1564. He is one of the greatest artists in the history of the world. Although his passion was for carving marble, he also distinguished himself an exceptional painter and architect. In these fields, we can name two great works: the Sistine Chapel ceiling and St. Peter's Cathedral.
To Michelangelo, sculptures were the "making of men." His emphasis on the human form and content is displayed in all his work; the roundness and organic qualities of the man's body is revealed in his sculptures, painting, and architecture. Michelangelo's approach to sculpture is to liberate the human body that was encased into the cold marble. This conviction and attention to details produced one of the largest and most powerful statues of the Renaissance: "David."
In 1501, the City of Florence commissioned Michelangelo to create a statue to be placed high above Florence on one of the Cathedral fortresses. Michelangelo produced "David" at the age of 26. The City of Florence deemed "David" a civic patriotic symbol and placed it in front of the Palazzo Vecchio.
Michelangelo was fiercely patriotic to his city-state; in fact, he considered himself a Florentine, not an Italian. In choosing "David" as the subject of his work, he incorporated in the size of the marble and the style of the statue the many symbols reflecting his allegiance to Florence. The size of "David" represented the victorious struggle of his City to become an independent city-state. It was the symbol of freedom, and it represented the Republic of Florence.
Michelangelo saw three reasons for the size of the statue. First, it was representative of Florence's independence and beauty. Second, it was the first sculptural reference for Florence, which he considered similarly to be large scale. And third, the Renaissance humanistic theory and style were to celebrate the human form on a grandiose proportion.
The artist used the Hellenistic super human beauty and power, which impressed him on a trip to Rome. The S-shaped curve of "David" combines balance and grace, strength and power. The statue, nineteen feet in height, powerful and victorious, is a symbol of Florentine history and its struggle for political and artistic freedom. In its expression, the full nude marble is a classical tribute to antiquity.
The David by Michelangelo was sculptured using a huge blank white marble block and required an uninterrupted work of the maestro during two years going from 1502 to 1504 after Christ.
From May 25th 2004, after a restoration that lasted more or less one year, it is again possible to admire the work inside the Gallery of the Accademia. The intervention, aimed in particular to the cleaning of the statue obtained by taking off from the marble surface the dark spots that were spoiling its splendour, has been concluded by the definition of a careful monitoring program to which the statue is exposed every year.