| Michelangelo Buonarroti: his Life and his Art - Page 3
It was not until January 1504 that Michelangelo, at age 29, completed the statue. Soon afterwards, a
commitee of important Florentines decided to place “The David” to the left side of the entrance to
Palazzo Vecchio (which is the City-Hall today) on the site where the “Judith” by Donatello used to
In the spirit that animated the Republic of Florence, David was the symbol and guardian of Florentine
liberty. The citizens of the Republic were to defend their city’s freedom, just as David had done when
he defeated Goliath and his enemies.
Michelangelo’s “David” was represented in a totally new way. It is not the young boy (15-16 years
old, according to the “Bible”) victorious after killing the giant and proudly treadind on Goliaths’ head.
Donatello and Verrocchio had depicted their “David” in this way. Michelangelo, instead, depicted him
before the battle: a young man concentrated and determinated to help his people and win the battle.
Michelangelo introduced here the most beautiful “contrapposto” position as in the most perfect greek
representation of a hero. David’s left side is smooth, composed and relaxed while the right side from
his foot to his hair is more dynamic and active. As in the “Pietà”, Michelangelo’s knowledgeof the
human body is most evident. Every muscle, vein, down to the fingernails seem to breath with life: the
statue (now located in the Academy of Fine arts - Florence) is a world of perfection from an
anatomical point of view. Nevertheless many have observed and objected that the left hand of
Michelangelo’s David appears oversized and disproportionate: it is possible that the artist intended the
hand symbolize strenght and power.
During the happy period (1501 - 1505) that Michelangelo spent in Florence, in addition to the statue
of David, he also received a series of private commissions and he produced: two sculptured relievs
called “Tondo Pitti” (Bargello Museum- -Florence) and “Tondo Taddei” (London - Royal Academy), a
big statue “Madonna with Child” (h. 128 cm. - Church of Notre Dame - Bruges - Belgium). The artist
also started the big statue of San Matthew the first of a collection of twelve Apostles for the choir of
the Cathedral of Florence. The contract was annulled when he moved to Rome.
To be referred to this florentine period is also the so-called “Tondo Doni” ordered to the artist by Mr.
Agnolo Doni. It is a circular painting, depicting the Vergin Mary kneeling on both knees with infant
Jesus in her arms. A dinamic effect is created by Joseph’s glance ready to receive the enfant.
The colors are rich and vivid, the figures are strong and massive, particularly the nude forms in the
background , whose significance is not clear, but possibly signify the passage from paganism to
Cristianity. Michelangelo’s inspiration for the nude figures probably came from Luca Signorelli’s
“Final Judgement” frescoed in the Cathedral of Orvieto.
The “Tondo Doni” clearly shows the hand of a sculptor rather than the hand of a painter: the figures are so concrete that seem sculptured and have
the color and smoothness of marble. Michelangelo asked for only 70 ducates, but Angelo Doni
refused to pay because he thought it was too much. Michelangelo responded by asking 140 ducates
and if not paid would take the painting away. In the end Angelo Doni paid the 140 ducati because he
truely liked the painting and did not want to miss it.