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David through the Hands of Michelangelo and Donatello

This paper will compare and analyze, through the stylistic perspective, the rendition of one of the most popular icons in the Old Testament of the Bible among the Roman Catholic faithful and religious – David, and how this boy hero turned king was immortalized by two of the most popular artists that the world has ever seen: Michelangelo and Donatello. Both works were products of the Renaissance era to which the two artists belong.

Donatello used bronze for his version of the victorious David while Michelangelo was tasked with using a block of marble for the David that he was commissioned to do. The original David by Donatello is currently located in Bargello, while the original David that was created by Michelangelo is now placed at the Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence. Because of the difference in mediums, there is a notable difference in the complexion of the two Davids – Donatello’s David is dark-skinned while Michelangelo’s David was white skinned. The reasons for the creation of the two Davids are also varying.

Michelangelo was commissioned to finish an unfinished work that is supposed to be part of a larger collection that would be displayed for the public to see, while Donatello’s David was a private collection of a popular patron of arts during the time, the Medicis. Both Davids became popular and both were replicated many times. These replicas are placed in different parts of the world, a sign of how the rest of the world admired both Davids for its aesthetic and cultural significance. Stylistic Qualities The two works of art possess similar characteristics.

The most notable similarity is how the two artworks are consistent to the ideas of a contrapposto – this refers to the style sculptors adhere to when it comes to positioning the body of the human figure to be sculpted, including the direction of the head, the tilt of the shoulders, where the weight was placed and which side appears rested, the angle of the hips and the form of both hands, and other features of the body that are important considerations for the formation of silhouette, angles and curves of the sculpture which in turn influences the aesthetic value of the sculpture.

In both Davids, the right leg holds the weight, allowing the other leg to pose in a rested or relaxed form (although Donatello’s David’s left leg is bent forward while Michelangelo’s David’s left leg was simply relaxed). This distribution of weight allowed the figure to feature a lower right shoulder and a higher left shoulder (which is consistent between the two sculptures).

While it is quite redundant to mention that another similarity between the two artworks is the nude feature of the male human body depicting David, it is, nonetheless, important to mention, albeit the nakedness of the two Davids vary a bit since Donatello’s David features a headgear as well as boots, while Michelangelo’s David is totally naked. Both sculptors managed to create an image of David that features the youth and subtle power found in the way the face opens up either in a secret smile or serene brooding and how the muscles of the body exude power inside the youthful body.

Both sculptors were also successful in depicting a very realistic image of the nude male human body (even though there are those who believe that the measurements of the body parts of Michelangelo’s David, particularly the head and the hands, is not consistent with the ideal measurement). Besides the similarities of the two Davids, there are also some differences between the two sculptures and the stylistic approach that both sculptors took.

First, Donatello seemed to saw fit to include in the composition and design the severed head of Goliath to strengthen the idea of power and the conquest of David of Goliath. While in the work of Michelangelo, the David featured is that of the pondering and brooding David, before fighting Goliath or after the victory over the giant. For Michelangelo, the power of the young David was reflected by the details of the body that looks like in motion and did not find it necessary to include the image of a severed head.

Also, Donatello depicted David in a manner that looks like it was directly looking at the audience/people; while Michelangelo’s David is looking farther and trained his sight to something more distant. Lastly, Donatello’s David appears more effeminate compared to Michelangelo’s David, who looks manlier than the other David; this maybe because of the emotion that the faces evoke to the audience. Conclusion The David sculpture created by Donatello and the David sculpted by Michelangelo are important aspects of artistic culture because of what both Davids brought to the artistic movement.

Donatello’s David was believed to be a work of art that reflected how a sculpture can beautifully render the realistic form of the nude male human body and not scandalise the audience: “in the true spirit of Renaissance humanism, Donatello appreciated the beauty of flesh-and-blood human beings (Steves, Openshaw, 2007, p. 102). ” Not to mention the fact that his David was the first work in bronze sculpture during the Renaissance period that stood unsupported.

It was the first creation featuring a male nude sculpted as something that is freestanding since the works made from the era of antiquity, strengthening the fact that Donatello’s work was not just a manifestation of the nude human body but was also a triumph in producing new approaches towards art works); while the David of Michelangelo was widely praised for the artistic ethos of the work. The works reflect how the audiences during the time were shocked and later accepted the art and beauty found in the nude form.

The two works also represent an era wherein most of the artists were obsessed with working on realistic human body forms, clothed or otherwise. Medici was the one who was responsible for Donatello’s working on the David sculpture for his personal collection while it was the high ranking members and officials of the Office of Works of the Duomo that commissioned Michelangelo for the David sculpture for the purpose of decorating the Santa Maria del Fiore.

“Unlike Donatello’s bronze, Michelangelo’s David was a truly public sculpture (Martels, Schmidt, 2003, p. 219). ” References Martels, Z. V. , and Schmidt, V. M. (2003). Antiquity Renewed: Late Classical and Early Modern Themes. Peeters Publishing. Steves, R. and Openshaw, G. (2007). Rick Steves’ Florence and Tuscany. Avalon Travel Publishing.

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