Michelangelo’s statue of David was carved out in the first years of the 1500s. Standing at 4.3 metres tall (over 14 ft), the statue depicts David (of David and Goliath fame) in the moment in which he is about to face Goliath, armed with a single stone.
The statue was originally commissioned by the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (Florence’s Cathedral). Michelangelo however was not the first artist to start on the project. In fact, beginnings of ‘The Giant’ were started and then abandoned by Donatello and his assistant, Agostino di Duccio. Donatello at least had good cause to leave the work unfinished ? he died. It is not clear however why Agostino did not complete the work afterwards.
In any case, the marble was left for some 20 odd years before 26 year old Michelangelo was commissioned to complete the statue. 3 years of his life were passed perfecting what is known as one of the most beautiful works of art to ever be created.
The completed statue never did end up near the cathedral. Rather it was housed outside the Palazzo Vecchio ? the local town hall in Piazza della Signoria.
Since 1873, David has resided in the Academia Gallery, where it was moved to protect it from the elements. A replica statue was eventually placed outside the Palazzo Vecchio in 1910.
There has always been debate about which exact moment in the David and Goliath bathe Michelangelo wished to depict in his statue. Is it before the battle, as David contemplates and anticipates the battle or is this the moment immediately afterwards in David’s initial moments of victory?
But this academic debate is nothing compared to the controversy now surrounding the David.
The Italian Ministry of Culture are preparing a case claiming that the statue actually belongs to the state of Italy and not to Tuscany’s city of Florence.
To see Michelangelo’s David on a small-group guided tour, see: http://www.italy.artviva.com/tours/18/original_david_tour