Michelangelo’s “David” must be without a doubt one of the world’s most recognisable statues. Something so beautiful but with a rather interesting story that all started in 1408 when, Arte della Lana, commissioned 12 statues to adorn the buttress of the Cathedral in Florence. [Interesting fact: At the time Arte della Lana employed approximately one third of the City of Florence]. The first two statues were made from terracotta; Joshua completed in 1410 by Donatello and Hercules completed by Agostino Di Duccio in 1463. For some strange reason it was decided that the third statue would be made from Cararra marble. The following year a colossal marble slab arrived in Florence and Agostino di Duccio, started doing some rough work on the legs and general outline of the statue. Then for some unknown reason he gave up on the project and the slab lay in waiting until 1476 when Antonio Rosellino was hired to continue but immediately gave up, stating that the marble was of inferior quality. Michelangelo, at the time was just learning how to walk. It was as if the slab lay waiting for him to learn his trait and then come and complete the task. On the 13th September 1501, the 26-year-old, Michelangelo, started working on what many deemed impossible. He worked tirelessly, night and day, eating and sleeping at work, keeping his progress secretive, until it was completed and unveiled on the 08 June 1504.
The final product was near perfection, something that everyone throughout the centuries would admire in awe.
But what makes David so special? Maybe it is Michelangelo’s deliberate disproportionate right hand or David’s squint, a Michelangelo quirk to show man, that even those so perfect may have flaws. Some say the flaws of the other sculptors shaped certain decision for Michelangelo, the leg positions which now resonate his intention of attack so well. His smaller thinner muscular body which exudes energy and power and not brute force. His decision to be the first to depict David alone in the moment before his battle with Goliath, a moment of fearlessness that would become symbolic for Florence.
Irrespective, this slab of defective marble was turned into something more beautiful and stronger than anyone would have thought….. and that should be our lesson in life.