At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Michelangelo’s David

Masterpiece emerged from an abandoned block of marble


A replica of Michelangelo's David now stands  in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence
A replica of Michelangelo's David now stands
 in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence
A huge statue of the Biblical hero David, sculpted by Michelangelo, was unveiled in Piazza della Signoria in Florence on this day in 1504.

The 5.17m (17ft) high statue was placed outside the Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of civic government in Florence. The sculpture symbolised the defence of civil liberties in the republic of Florence, which at the time was an independent city state threatened on all sides by rival states. It was thought that the eyes of David were looking towards Rome and seemed to have a warning glare.

David is regarded as one of Michelangelo’s masterpieces. He was sculpted from a block of Cararra marble originally designated to be one of a series of prophets for Florence Cathedral. The marble was worked on by two artists before being abandoned and left exposed to the elements in the yard of the Cathedral workshop.

The original statue in its home in Galleria dell'Accademia
The original statue in its home in
Galleria dell'Accademia
After 25 years of neglect, the Cathedral authorities decided to find an artist to produce a sculpture from their expensive block of marble.

At the age of 26, it was Michelangelo who convinced the overseers of works for the Cathedral that he deserved the commission.

He began work early in the morning of September 13, 1501. The resulting statue of a nude David produced nearly three years later is thought to represent the hero after he had made the decision to fight Goliath but before the battle has actually taken place. It is one of the most recognised works of sculpture from the Renaissance period and is a symbol of strength and youthful beauty.

On completion, the statue was moved the half mile from Michelangelo’s workshop to Piazza della Signoria, a journey that took four days. It was to remain there for more than 300 years.

But in 1873 David was removed from the piazza, allegedly to protect the statue from damage, and put on display in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, where it has attracted many thousands of visitors over the years. A replica of the original statue now stands outside the Palazzo Vecchia.

The L-shaped Piazza della Signoria in Florence
The L-shaped Piazza della Signoria in Florence
Travel tip:

Piazza della Signoria is an L-shaped square in the centre of Florence, important as the location of the 14th century Palazzo Vecchio, the focal point for government in the city. Citizens gathered here for public meetings and the religious leader Girolamo Savonarola was burned at the stake in the square in 1498. The piazza is a unique outdoor sculpture gallery filled with statues, some of them copies, commemorating major events in the city’s history.


Travel tip:

The Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence has become famous as the home of Michelangelo’s statue of David. It is the second most visited museum in Italy, after the Uffizi, the main art gallery in Florence. The Galleria dell’Accademia was established in 1784 in Via Ricasoli in Florence. For more information about the gallery visit galleriaaccademiafirenze.beniculturali.it


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