There’s more to Michelangelo’s David than what meets the Naked Eye. September 8, 1504 was a beautiful day in Florence, Italy birthplace of the Renaissance. While the locals were enjoying the weather, Michelangelo Buonarroti was overwhelmed with anxiety. The top-secret project he’d labored on tirelessly for three years was about to be unveiled in the Piazza della Signoria. Nervously he’d supervised the 40 men who took 4 days to move the massive five ton 17-foot-tall marble statue the half mile from his studio to the Piazza. One negligent misstep and his masterpiece could’ve fallen and shattered into a million pieces.
Next, Michelangelo faced the possibility of negative reviews from the Florentines and even worse condemnation by the Catholic Church’s Office of the Inquisition. The Inquisition’s purpose was suppressing heresy which included reviewing books and artwork. Its powerful tentacles extended into Florence which was less than 200 miles north of Rome. In recent years books and paintings deemed blasphemous were burned and statues considered immoral were smashed by order of the Inquisition.
Convicted heretics were often burned at the stake.
All this drama started three years earlier when Michelangelo was commissioned by Florence’s Opera del Duomo. Although only 26 at the time he was one of the highest paid artists in Italy. Even though Michelangelo worked in secrecy, rumors circulated the young genius was sculpting something spectacular. The committee provided Michelangelo a piece of Carrera marble 20 feet long and six feet high. They wanted a statue depicting the Bible story of the battle between David and Goliath.
According to 1 Samuel 17, King Saul’s Israelite Army faced the Philistine Army. The Philistine giant Goliath taunted the Israelites to send their champion to fight him. Giant in Biblical times probably meant a big bad dude over 6-feet tall. Every Israelite was intimidated—except the teenage shepherd David.
King Saul offered his personal armor to David who refused. It was too bulky. Instead, David chose a sling and a few rocks. The monstrous Goliath, clad in armor brandishing javelin, sword, and shield was terrifying. He roared with laughter at the youth, David.
Overcoming fear by trusting in God, David hurled a stone from his sling hitting Goliath in the forehead. Goliath fell to the ground, David grabbed Goliath’s sword, severed the giant’s head, and held it high for all to behold.
Fast forward 23 centuries to Renaissance Florence.
The Opera del Duomo expected Michelangelo to carve the 20-foot-long marble slab into a five-foot-tall David holding Goliath’s head above the length of giant’s decapitated body. Then again, Michelangelo was master of the unexpected.
The day of reckoning had come. Piazza della Signoria was packed with Florentines and Church officials eager to see why this statue had been so shrouded in secrecy. When the 17-foot-tall Statue of David was unveiled the astonished crowd certainly got an eye full. It was colossal, magnificent—and stark naked.
However, this was Renaissance Florence and not the first time Florentines had seen a nude statue. But this was on a massive scale. The shock waves of controversy reverberated all the way to Pope Julius II in Rome and beyond.
At first glance it’s easy to just see nudity, but there’s more to the Statue of David than what meets the naked eye.
From the very start even the piece of marble David was sculpted from was controversial. The large piece of Carrera marble was flawed. If chiseled improperly it would shatter. No sculptor would touch it, except Michelangelo who saw the flaw as a challenge instead of a complication.
As a man of deep faith, Michelangelo knew his scripture and the lessons presented by the story of David and Goliath. Michelangelo believed the true giant in that battle wasn’t Goliath, but David. So, he turned the slab of marble upright not to depict David during the battle, but in the moments before it. David’s nudity is symbolism not eroticism.
By refusing to wear armor into battle, David’s nudity symbolizes how exposed and vulnerable he was in the face of overwhelming odds.
The iconic expression on David’s face is more than anticipation and intensity as he confronts the terrifying Goliath, it captures the precise moment the boy became a man.
When critics were enlightened to these and so many other technical, intellectual, inspirational, and subtle aspects Michelangelo put into David, perceptions evolved. The Statue of David became a symbol of liberty and freedom for the Republic of Florence. The Catholic Church embraced the Statue of David as an inspiration for trusting in God during dark times. Michelangelo emerged as an artistic superstar and during his long career he worked for nine different popes.
Yet, five centuries later the controversy continues.
Even though the Statue of David is considered one of the greatest works of art ever created, some school districts in the United States, want to ban children from even seeing photos of it. Some parents expressed their fear of exposing children to nudity and equated the Statue of David with pornography.
Ignorance is the lack of knowledge and understanding. Unfortunately, people often fear what they don’t understand. Suppressing ideas, books, and artwork like the Inquisition did was motivated by fear caused by ignorance. Renaissance Florence overcame the darkness of ignorance through the light of education. That is why to this day, understanding the genius of Michelangelo enlightens us that there is more to the Statue of David than what meets the naked eye. Vist Mark Anthony’s website at http://www.AfterlifeFrequency.com
Mark Anthony, JD Psychic Explorer conducts free readings during his livestream show “The Psychic & The Doc” which airs every Thursday at 7pm ET/4pm PT. For info on how to tune into the live stream visit his website: https://www.afterlifefrequency.com/
Visit Mark Anthony’s website at http://www.AfterlifeFrequency.com
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