David by Michelangelo (1501-04)

The artist’s most famous work–excepting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

I can vividly remember seeing this in person, about 30 years ago. You cannot really appreciate it in pictures–honestly–because the setting is so important.

As you can see from this picture, the David is larger than lifesize and the lighting in the space makes the white marble glow… and not in a Twilight way.

Michelangelo intended David to be on a raised platform, which is why the feet and hands are larger-than-life, while the body seems by contrast delicate.

David is a young man, and I love the expression on his face. Some say it is a warning, but I think it has a touch of uncertainty, of confusion, of the young boy David who was not yet a hero or a king but a simple shepherd.

It is, seen in person, indescribably, breathtakingly beautiful.

I do also like Michelangelo’s Hercules:

 Which depicts and older, world-weary man, someone who has been through battles and tests–unlike David. And the slave figures, which are still partially encased in the stone blocks Michelangelo only started to carve…

These are, metaphorically, fascinating and also fine examples of the mature, muscled male bodies the artist does so well. The contrast of movement and “slavery”, of flesh and rock are so absolutely brilliant. They are not unfinished, but a really gorgeous example of the sculptor’s craft.

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