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David by Michelangelo a Brief History | Statue.com

A Brief History of the Sculpture and The Artist

Written by
Joshua Schlueter
Published on
February 15, 2023 at 10:26:15 AM PST February 15, 2023 at 10:26:15 AM PSTth, February 15, 2023 at 10:26:15 AM PST

The David by Michelangelo is one of the most iconic artworks in history, and one that has stood the test of time. Created in Florence between 1501 and 1504, it was the first large-scale sculpture to be made from marble since classical antiquities. This masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture quickly became a symbol of strength and heroic beauty for Italians.

Michelangelo began sculpting The David in 1501 at 26 years old, with plans to create a larger than life sculpture that would stand as an emblem to the Florentine Republic. His skills were remarkable for his age; he had already worked on several sculptures including Bacchus, Pieta and Brutus. When making The David, Michelangelo preferred to work alone without any assistance, despite this being far more laborious than having assistants carve sections out of a large block of marble. He chose to work in this way so he could have full control over the aesthetic qualities he wanted to achieve with his creation.

The technique used was called ‘strappo’ or ‘untying’; Michelangelo would shape a small piece of clay into the rough form before carving it into its final shape with a mallet and chisel directly onto the marble slab. This method was highly advanced compared to traditional techniques which involved applying layers upon layers of plaster onto wooden boards as Michelangelo could achieve more naturalistic shapes using his own method. He also used painting techniques such as sfumato (the softening of harsh outlines) and chiaroscuro (the contrast between light and dark shadows) when carving The David from the block of marble.

It's worth noting that it took Michelangelo three years to complete The David; he had been given only two months but requested additional time due to its ambitious size and complexity. Once completed in 1504, it was placed in front of Palazzo della Signoria - where it stands today - representing courage and strength against adversity in response to the impending siege coming from Rome’s military forces in 1530s Florence. 

In addition to its historical importance, The David has also served as an inspiration for artists over many generations ever since its completion some five hundred years ago; it continues to be studied today as one example among many that demonstrate Michelangelo’s extraordinary talent as an artist during the Renaissance period. Its elegant silhouette speaks volumes regarding Michelangelo's skillful craftsmanship: from its proportionate features inspired by classical Greco-Roman statues down to its intricate anatomical details such as veins along david's arm or rib cage structure under his stomach muscles - all these elements combine together perfectly into one harmonious whole that pays tribute not only Michelangelo but also renaissance sculpting techniques used during this era.

Banner Photo by Taylor Smith

Headshot Photo by Jack Hunter

Full Sculpture Photo by Fernando Tavora