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The Davids: A Comparison Essay, Research Paper

The David?s:

A Comparison

From 1430 to 1623A.D., four sculptures of the Biblical David

were created. From the master artists Bernini, Donatello,

Michelangelo, and Verrocchio came the most famous David?s of the

world. Even though infinitely many were made, these surpass the

others to become marvels that will live forever.

The earliest of the David?s, is the work of

Donatello(c.1430). This magnificent work is a life-size, nude,

bronze, figure of David. The sculpture is portraying the scene

after David has cut off the head of Goliath. His foot is raised

on the severed head in a stance of contropposto. His sword is in

the right hand with the stone in the left. This very smooth and

natural looking sculpture was originally part of Medici courtyard

and is the only David of the four created for a private

collection. There are a few symbolic ingredients to this David.

The style of the figure refers to antiquity for the balance and

composition of the nude. Energy in the sculpture animates the

emotions and is a new technique used in this David, once again

showing qualities from antiquity. This energy is not used in the

other figures. In addition, Donatello?s David is said to host

homosexual overtones, in the feministic appearance of the body

and the stance. Overall, this version of the biblical hero is

elegantly designed and the originality is fascinating.

Verrocchio?s David (c.1473-75A.D.) greatly differs from those

of the other artists?. This statue was commissioned by the Medici

family, like that of Donatello?s. However, it was created for

public display. It was in the Palazzo Vecchio, where it gained

almost a republican or city-related meaning similar to the

reputation that the David of Donatello gained, after it was also

moved to the same site. The similarity stops here. The

proudness shows that the hero was well capable of slaying the

giant where Donatello?s shows almost no emotion. The

explicitness of the emotion contrasts greatly with the

sensualness of Donatello?s. Verrocchio?s is fully clothed in

elegant armor when Michelangelo?s and as well as Donatello?s were

vulnerable in their nudity. In Verrocchio?s sculpture, David

carries a small sword in one hand and his other is on his hip

confidently. This figure shows a nice S-curve and a stance of

contropposto. Standing above the head of the giant, the sculpture

takes place after the slaying of Goliath. The facial expression

show triumph and most of all confidence. Therefore, this work

shows psychological implications. However, it was meant to be

more appreciated for its exceptional bronze sheen.

The gigantic David by Michelangelo (c.1501-04A.D.) is an

unquestionable masterpiece. It was originally commissioned as a

decoration for the Florence Cathedral. Since the sculpture was

so majestic, it was decided to be displayed in a closer, more

visible area. It was finally moved in front of Piazza della

Signoria, where it would replace a sculpture of Donatello?s.

This David is a full nude that shows David before battle. The

face is in profile; he has a slingshot in the left hand and a

stone in the right. The face shows extreme emotion which pulls

it away from the classical genre. The design and stance of the

figure has a confidence and arrogance that matched that of its

creator, Michelangelo. This version of the hero was looked to as

a potent symbol in Florence, resembling the Biblical beliefs

along with the fusion of civic beliefs. This is very unlike the

symbolism of Donatello?s. The nudity symbolizes that David?s

platonic love and belief in God protected him. Michelangelo?s

David is an incredible representation of both the Bible story, in

that it closely follows the scripture, and reason, in the

references to Greek philosophy. Thus also symbolizing that

reason and faith (Christianity) can coexist.

Finally, Bernini?s David (c.1623A.D.) conquers all in the

expression of emotion. This public sculpture has a face full of

determination and struggling. The exaggerated S-curve of the

figure shows movement as David is throwing the stone. None of

the other three sculptures give insight during the battle with

the giant. Also, Bernini?s David is clothed in a tunic and is

carrying a pouch of some sort. He?s holding the rock and

slingshot as in action while his feet are firmly planted in the

ground. This is certainly the most dramatic and realistic

portrayal of David. Bernini?s objective was not like the other

artists of the David?s. His objective was drama. The symbolism

is that of moments in his lifetime. An example of this would be

the harp at his feet, depicting his abandonment of his music when

he went to fight Goliath. The armor at his feet showed that his

sure feelings and belief in God protected him . And the

slingshot symbolized the triumph and victory over the giant.

This work is one that gives the viewer insight into the mind of

David and takes them to the scene.

Each interpretation is interesting and has a slight mystery

attached. All of the four David?s excel in a particular area.

Bernini?s David has the most emotional appeal, where Donatello?s

has the most serene and innocent qualities. Verrocchio?s

displays mighty confidence and Michelangelo?s David best fits the

Biblical David, in my opinion. Nevertheless, each sculpture

will grab your attention, leave you wordless and in awe.


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