16 October 2011

Behold—Michelangelo’s ‘David’ at the Accademia Museum in Florence, Italy

Michelangelo's "David" inside the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy. All content and photography property of EuroTravelogue™.com unless otherwise noted. Please do not use without permission. This Photo Only: Wikimedia.com David Gaya.

Michelangelo’s "David"—a colossal sculpture of perfect beauty and proportion awaits visitors at the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy. At the end of a long hallway flanked by Michelangelo’s “non-finito,” (unfinished sculptures), also known as the “Prisoners,” "David’s" graceful physique rises boldly to a total height of 17 feet above his pedestal and beckons onlookers to behold his mighty size and sheer magnificence. It’s simply breathtaking and humbling as you stand in awe to gaze upon this incomparable and exquisite achievement in marble sculpture. From the moment I first studied the "David" back in college, I immediately fell under his spell and knew I had to see it one day for myself. My visit or any visit to Florence for that matter would not be complete without seeing Michelangelo’s "David" at the Accademia Gallery.

Close-up detail of replica of "David" outside Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.  

Located in the Tribunal room of the Accademia—a purpose-built room designed to house the statue, which up until 1873 stood in the Piazza della Signoria outside the Palazzo Vecchio, Michelangelo’s "David" rises boldly above the throngs of tourists who are like bees to honey around the pedestal’s base. Forever frozen in time, Michelangelo captured the very moment when David first eyes his fearsome foe and through his chiseled musculature with protruding veins in arms and legs, you understand immediately the mounting tension coursing throughout his body as he reaches back with his slingshot and prepares to slay the mighty Goliath. There will never be another sculpture, before or after the "David," that will challenge Michelangelo’s supremacy.

A replica of Michelangelo's "David" standing outside Palazzo Vecchio.  

After completing his famous "Pieta" in Rome in 1499 at the age of 24, Michelangelo completed the "David" in 1504 at the ripe old age of 29 and on September 8th of that same year, presented the statue to the city of Florence. Starting out as an 18-foot block of marble cast aside by another sculptor who thought the damaged was beyond repair, Michelangelo saw an opportunity to free his "David" from his prison of marble. Originally, the statue was intended to be one of twelve Old Testament sculptures to adorn the top Duomo or Santa Maria del Fiore, however its final resting place would be outside the Palazzo Vecchio as decided by a committee that included renowned figures such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Sandro Botticelli. Due to weathering and erosion, the city of Florence moved the "David" to the Accademia Gallery and in 1910, installed a life-size replica outside the Palazzo where the original "David" stood for more than 300 years.

The statue of "David" inside the Accademia Gallery is actually one of three "Davids" that reside in Florence. There is the replica in the Piazza della Signoria where the original once stood as mentioned above as well as another high atop the hills in Oltrarno in the Piazzale Michelangelo seen below.

Another replica of Michelangelo's "David" can be found in the hills overlooking Florence at the Piazzale Michelangelo.  This photo only: Wikimedia.com Mbdortmund. 

On your approach to the "David," you pass through a hallway that houses the "unfinished" sculptures that Michelangelo completed in the latter part of his life. Paling in comparison, nonetheless not be overlooked, these "Prisoners" or "Slaves" or "non-finito" sculptures were originally intended for the tomb of Pope Julius II. However, some scholars believe that Michelangelo intended to leave them unfinished and today, it's debated to the point of exhaustion. In either case, you really get a sense of the extraordinary amount of work that goes into sculpting. If you look closely, you can discern the marks left by many a sculpting tool that eventually freed these prisoners from their tombs of marble as Michelangelo often liked to put it. After Michelangelo's death, the statues were given to Cosimo I who placed them in the Boboli Gardens at the Pitti Palace where they stood until 1909.

Michelangelo's 'Awakening Slave' or 'Prisoner.' This photo only: Wikimedia.com Shakko.

As you tour the rest of the Accademia, you'll find a fascinating collection of paintings dating back to the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the early 17th century; plus an interesting collection of musical instruments.

Truly one of the most unforgettable moments of my first visit to Florence was to the see the incomparable "David" who personifies the courage and conviction that lives in all of us. He stands here today in all of his magnificence because of a carefully guided chisel in the hand of a talented Florentine artist named Michelangelo who freed his "David" from his prison of stone. One of the most renowned sculptures of all time, the "David" should be on your list of sights to see so be sure to include a visit to the Accademia Gallery in your travel plans to Florence, Italy.

Check out video tour through the Florence Accademia Gallery below.

Tips before you go:

  • Pre-purchase your tickets (reservations) in advance despite the nominal “reservation” fee to avoid the extremely long queue that snakes around the Accademia’s surrounding streets. Check out Florence Tickets.com for more information.
  • If it’s your first time, I suggest you book a guided tour instead. It’s well worth the extra expense and all charges are included plus you are guided by a qualified art historian through the entire museum. Check out Viator.com for more starters.
  • If you’re staying in Florence and want to forego the guided tour, call ahead to your hotel and request they book the reservation for you. You’ll probably avoid all charges save the actual price of admission. The only downfall to this is that you probably won’t be able to select a preferred time to visit.
  • Don’t bother to bring your cameras because all photos and videos are now forbidden inside the Accademia Gallery.
Parting shot of the "David" outside Palazzo Vecchio. 

Additional Reading:

Arrivederci!

6 comments:

  1. The detail in the sculptor is magnificent. Michelangelo's work is breath taking with chisel in hand. Interesting article. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK. NICE JOB. Again thanks for the article to begin this week.

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  2. Greetings my friend and thank you again for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I couldn't agree with you more about Michelangelo's brilliant talent in rendering the realism achieved in all of his work! Thank you so much and have a great week.

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  3. The story of David and the block of marble was one of my favorites as a kid. I saw the real statue when I was 19 years old, on a day trip to Florence, and the sheer size continues to amaze me. We will revisit this on our whirlwind trip to Firenze in 2012!

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  4. Hi Charu,
    I too, was stunned at its colossal size inside the Accademia. Having studied Art History in college, the Statue of David was long on my list of art to see in person...and I finally made it. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

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  5. ~ Great blog entry
    and fabulous photos
    You've made me want to go and see David in person.
    Merci ~ Trish

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    1. Hi there Trish and thanks so much for your kind words. I must see the David every time I get to Florence! I NEVER ceases to leave me in awe!

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Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!