Michelangelo’s David is considered by many as the greatest artwork ever made.
Its creator, Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), was pretty great too. Not only was he a sculptor, but also a painter (think, Sistine Chapel), architect (dome of St Peter’s Basilica), and even penned a few poems in his time.
Nearly a century prior to the creation of the David by Michelangelo, the Overseers of Florence’s Cathedral decided to commission a dozen sculptures representing Old Testament figures. The first was Joshua, made in terracotta by Donatelo in 1410.
After liking the results of Agostino di Duccio’s Hercules of 1463, the Overseers requested the artist make another statue, this time of David, to be carved in marble that was transported in from the famous Tuscan Carrara area.
Agostino made a start on the figure, however for some reason this project was abandoned, before being taken up again by Rossellino a decade later. However, even he did not complete the David statue and some 25 years passed before the Florentine powers that be decided to complete the statue so as not to waste the valuable marble.
In 1501, Michelangelo – at just 26 years of age – was commissioned to complete the statue of David. It took two years for him to complete the impressive figure of David. Towards its completion, it was decided to abandon the initial idea of placing the statue atop the Cathedral of Florence – not least because it weighed some 6 tons.
It was eventually decided to place Michelangelo’s David in front of Florence’s Town Hall building, Palazzo Vecchio, in the Piazza della Signora.
There it stood, exposed to the elements, from 1504 until 1873. At this time, the local government decided to move it to a specially-constructed room in the Accademia Gallery, Florence, where it stands to this day.
A replica was eventually placed in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in 1910.
Being quite a small exhibition space, the Accademia museum in Florence can be (and usually is) fairly crowded and entry queues quite long. Tickets cost approximately 11 euro each. Advance bookings (with an additional 4 euro) are highly recommended, either directly through the Firenze Musei or by booking our David – Accademia Tour.
What else is there to see in the Accademia besides the David? The Accademia also holds several other incomplete statues by Michelangelo, a cast of the Rape of the Sabine Woman by Giambologna, a small collection of Renaissance and Florentine Gothic paintings and a unique collection of Russian religious icons.
So how much time do you need to spend in the Accademia? Except the time you want to spend hanging out with ol’ Dave, you don’t really need much more than a half-hour or so.
Don’t forget to make use of the restrooms within the Accademia, as bathrooms can be hard to find in the Renaissance city.
We’re happy to share with you some photos of David that we took on a winter’s day when the museum was delightfully uncrowded.