Marble David, Donatello

Marble David, Donatello
Marble David, Donatello

When we talk about Donatello's David, the image of the work made in bronze immediately comes to mind, in the full period of Donatello's artistic maturity, in which he presents us with an effeminate young man, almost naked and with a large hat whose posture marks an exaggerated praxitelian curve. Now, what not so many people know is that this was the second sculpture that the Renaissance artist made under the theme of David and that years ago the young Donatello had already executed a round sculpture of David, but on this occasion the artist chose marble instead of bronze to carry out the piece.

In reality, it is not strange that, throughout the career of an artist, whether he is a sculptor or a painter, one of his works acquires such importance that it ends up overshadowing the others and even more so a work of the same theme. This was precisely what happened in the work of Donatello (1386 – 1466), which made his bronze David so famous that it ended up eclipsing the marble David.


In fact, the work we are analyzing here is the first documented piece attributable to the artist although it is believed that there may have been more works before its authorship has not been clearly discerned. Donatello became one of the most outstanding artists of his time, an innovator in the field of sculpture, he was the creator of the stiacciato technique that allowed the creation of a flattened relief that gives depth to thescene.

However, when Donatello created the marble Davidhe had not yet developed such a refined styleand it is clear that this was one of his earliest works. The work, which is now exhibited at the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, was made for the Opera del Duomo in Florence, specifically for an octagonal choir that was dismantled at the beginning of the 19th century. The artist has depictedthe young hero immediately after Goliath's victory,beneath his feet is the head of the giant with the stone stuck in his forehead

While young David does not seem to have made any effort, with one of his arms resting on his hip and his leg supporting his weight, imitates the posture of the classicist contrapposto e incorporates more pagan elements typical of Renaissance aesthetics such as the crown of amaranth. Perhaps some youthful mistakes on the part of the artist are still visible, so that his arms are too long, which detracts from the realism of the composition.

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