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Michelangelo: The David

Background

Michelangelo was born into a wealthy family, his father being a serving magistrate of the Florentine Republic during the Renaissance. But since Michelangelo wanted to be an artist, his family frowned upon him due to an artist’s low salary compared to his fathers rich job. Even without his family’s full support, he was a pupil of Domenico Ghirlandaio, Florence’s best wall painter during the time of the Renaissance, at age 13. There, Michelangelo quickly mastered the techniques of architecture, sculpting, and painting. After school, Michelangelo had very little money so he had to find a patron, someone he lived wiht and worked for. In his case it was the Medici family. During his service to the Medici’s, he sculpted the well known statue, the David. This enormous granite statue, standing at 14 feet 3 inches, was sculpted by Michelangelo between 1501 and 1504.

Interpretation

This well known sculpture, was based off of the biblical hero, David. David was a courageous teen who killed the fearsome goliath with just his sling and a smooth stone. But during the Renaissance the massive sculpture was intended as a symbol of the new republic and also as a “protector of the city,” Florence. The David did not have a vanishing point but it did resemble the technique of perspective. David’s hands and feet are very large compared to the rest of his body. This is because, especially, the hands needed to be big to look proportional as you view them from the base of the 14 foot statue. The David took roughly four years to complete, and Michelangelo’s effort really shows with each specific detail. Details are especially evident in David’s hands where veins pop out of the granite material and make the statue so life like. This sculpture captures the spirit of the Renaissance because it is a sculpture of a nude human body. Since during the start of the Renaissance there was a huge emphasis on the human anatomy, sculptures of nude humans were created to stress the idea of the human body. The Renaissance was a time of many gorgeous pieces of art, and Michelangelo’s sculptures have impacted many sculptures that have come after it.

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