David, Michelangelo, 1501-1504, Academia Gallery, Florence
Seen in the turbulent context of the first years of the 16th century in Florence, David –a statue that is still considered one of Michelangelo’s greatest works- is better understood. A magnificent colossal statue, made from Carrara marble, the artist's favourite material, David was made to impress and to show the magnificence of the city of Florence, as seen by a proud Florentine. David is in reality a symbol of the “courage” and “strength” of a city that had just come out of Savonarola’s theocratic regime and the turmoil that followed his fall and execution. At the same time, David exhibits the artistic ideologies of the Renaissance, of which Michelangelo was one of the primary exponents. The Classical influences in terms of the representation of the male nude, the posture, proportions and idealised male beauty are clear. The theme –David, a biblical hero, instead of an ancient Greek god- has been Christianized and for Michelangelo’s contemporaries this combination achieved the unthinkable: it surpassed the ancient prototypes.