Italy is the birthplace of the Renaissance. The Italian art of this period is famous for its original style and figures. Very popular was the figure of David, the biblical character. Different great masters used him in their creative work which made him connected directly with Italy.
David was a shepherd and spent most of his time in the fields with sheep and lambs. He was also interested in God who created this world. In those days, the Israelites were at war with the Philistines. When David was in the mountains, one of the king’s servants came to him. King Saul was sick and wanted to hear David playing the harp. Listening to this music quickly regained his strength, and he went to the army.
The Israeli army and the Philistines were located on opposite sides of a hill, and were ready to fight. Every day the Philistines sent their fully armed giant Goliath, who was champion, and he shouted the Israelites: “Pick a warrior, and if he wins me, then we will be your slaves. However, in the case that I kill him, then you will serve us”.
In the Israeli army, there was no such a brave and strong warrior to compete with the giant whose height reached almost 3 meters. Once David heard Goliath appeal and then he said that he was going to fight with the Philistines.
Virtually unarmed, with some stones and a sling, David went to fight the giant. Goliath was angry to see that a shepherd boy came to fight with him. When the battle began, David ran toward Goliath and took one stone. He threw it so that it has hit the Goliath in the forehead. The giant fell dead to the ground. Israelis have won the battle, and David became a hero to the people of Israel. Later, he became a king (The Old Testament, p. 461-465).
The connection of David and Italy, especially with the Italian city Florence, is not direct; it is symbolic. The great masters created here using his figure on their works. The first was Donatello, who made the bronze statue of David, followed by a statue by Verrocchio. On of the greatest artist of the High Renaissance, Michelangelo created his outstanding marble sculpture of David. The statues of Verrocchio and Donatello have some differences and similarities. First of all, these statues are both made of bronze. The sculpture by Michelangelo was standing on the square in Florence for over three centuries. He stood under the open sky and became the symbol of the city.
Donatello, the great Florentine sculptor, who was the headmaster, marked the beginning of the Renaissance. In the art of his time, he acted as a true innovator. He made David as a commission. This early work shows the artist’s interest to the creation of the heroic figure. Rejecting the traditional image of David as an old man with a lyre, Donatello presented young David at the time of triumph over the defeated Goliath. Proud of his victory, David stands with his feet on the enemy’s head. It is easy to notice that by creating the biblical hero, Donatello strived to rely on the ancient traditions. The ancient prototypes were influenced in the treatment of face and hair: David’s face in the frame of long hair covered with the brims of the hat. In his works, Donatello aimed not only the objective building of the correct proportions and shapes, but always took into account the feelings that will awake a statue (Adams, p. 253).
There is no document on the establishment of the Verrocchio’s David. It is suggested that the statue could be created in the mid 1460’s or a little earlier. David has many features of the generally accepted understanding of beauty, but the statue still reveals the author’s individual views. Moreover, it is evidence of a youth of its author. So it is likely that David was one the first works by Verrocchio. A very detailed description can sound so that Verrocchio made David as a lively and cheerful young man, dressed in a jerkin and greave. He stands on the huge head of Goliath, based on the right foot and set aside back left. In his right hand holds a short sword, the left put on the belt. In general, the figure and face of David show the feelings after the triumph of the young winner.
Verrocchio knew about David by Donatello, and intentionally or not he had to enter into competition with his predecessor. The sculptor almost repeated the pose of Donatello’s David, stepping back with the left leg, and holding the sword in his right hand. On the other hand, the Verrocchio’s statue has a very different impression. After the triumphant victory, his character seems to pose enjoying himself in front of the audience. This frankness is the main thing that differs him from the withdrawn, thinking Donatello’s David. He simply achieves this effect. His character looks straight ahead, with a smile toward the viewer. The face seems to be illuminated from the inside. At the same time, the face of Donatello’s David is covered with the brims of his hat and hidden behind the long hair. The whole figure of Vericchio’s David reflects contentment and confidence. Even the back of the sculpture shows David’s confidence. This statue allows the observation from all sides. Of course, this activity was not in the David by Donatello. His point of view was concentrated on the front of the character, on the other angles sculptor cared less. Verrocchio transformed the graceful and soft flesh of Donatello’s David into a sinewy, angular adolescence.
Instead of the giant sword in Donatello’s version, Verrocchio’s David carries a short sword (Adams, p. 255). Verrocchio shows a body of David shines through clothes. He knew anatomy much better than his predecessor. So the figure is based on a particular scientific knowledge. The light and sleek silhouette, this is another difference between Verrocchio’s and Donatello’s statues.
The comparison of the Donatello’s and Verrocchio’s Davids should not lead to the opposition. The Italian masters, despite the similarity of two statues, definitely set themselves different tasks and created different characters. Donatello made a hero, both natural in his behavior and a little naive. On the other hand, Verrocchio made a young man inebriated with his triumph and everyone’s attention.
The outstanding statue of David by Michelangelo in height approximately 5 m including the base creates an idea of a formidable force, a heroic rush to restrain the power of will. This is the totally new point of view and innovative performance.
David is one of the most famous works of the Italian Renaissance. This statue is seen by his contemporaries as a symbol of the Florentine Republic. Michelangelo’s David made a sign that he has courageously protected his people and the city. The not accidental discovery of the statue in 1504 was the grand event for the whole city.
By the creation of David, Michelangelo coped with a very difficult task: the creation of the already spoiled in 15th century marble block the statue of the complicated shape. He managed it brilliantly. It demonstrated its great ability to extract the maximum expression of stone. Later, he put it in one of his sonnets: the product is already incorporated in the stone; the point is to be able to take it from there.
The image of David was traditional in Florence. Donatello and Verrocchio created bronze sculptures of young men who miraculously hit the giant, whose head was lying at the feet of the hero. Michelangelo portrayed David not as a fragile teenager, trampling the severed head of Goliath, as did the masters of the 15th century, but as a beautiful, athletic giant in the moment before the battle, full of confidence and a formidable force. In contrast, Michelangelo depicted the moment before the battle. David is standing with a sling slung over his shoulder, clutching a stone with his left hand. The right part of the figure is tensed, while the left is slightly relaxed, as by an athlete ready for action. Michelangelo depicts the hero of the Old Testament as a handsome, muscular, naked boy who anxiously looks away as if appreciating his enemy – Goliath, with whom he had to fight.
Michelangelo depicts David naked, on the basis of ancient human ideals of beauty and represents the ancient marble of the relevant physical beauty, strength and fortitude. He is calm, confident in his righteousness and feels the coming victory. His disproportionate limbs and heavy head indicate the nature of youthful physiology (Adams, p. 285).
Michelangelo’s statue of David has brought fame and made his eternal reputation as the first sculptor in Italy. With this statue, Michelangelo proved to his co-citizens that he was not only the best of all contemporary artists, but also among the masters of antiquity. There are many differences between the David of Michelangelo and the Donatello’s and Verocchio’s statues. The most noticeable is the stuff: Michelangelo’s sculpture is made of marble, not of bronze as the previous ones. The emotions, the clothes and their absence make these pieces of art unique and different.
The differences between the statues can be explained by the different priorities of the periods when they were done. Quattrocento, or with the other words the Early Renaissance, is a period of Italian art when Donatello created. He mastered all kinds of contemporary sculpture. Master a wide range Donatello reputed successful attempts to create decorative relief sculpture for teenager David. The birth of a new sculpture of Quattrocento is considered in 1401. Florence became a major center of Renaissance culture in the era of Quattrocento. The architecture of Italy only in the 15th century began to show features of the new style. In the Italian Renaissance, there was performed individualized way, not only in terms of physiognomic personification, but also as a spiritual awareness of the individual. The main feature of the sculpture in the 15th century was its separation from the walls and niches of the cathedral.
The creativity of the third Titanium of Renaissance Michelangelo Buonarroti was the culmination and at the same time a reflection of the profound contradictions of culture age. His works are the outstanding examples of the break from the Early Renaissance of the Quattrocento to the High Renaissance of the Cinquecento. The first half of his work falls on the height of Renaissance art, and the second – for the years of the feudal-Catholic reaction. With the greatest force, Michelangelo expressed the deep humanity, full of heroic pathos ideals, and the tragic sense of the crisis of the humanistic worldview in the High Renaissance.
The features of the Cinquecento are first of all the Antique studies which are more deeply now, they plated with greater rigor and consistency, calmness and dignity supersede beauty that was the desire of the previous period (Adams, p. 278). On the other hand, the imitation of the ancient still allows the artists to show their independence, and they, with great ingenuity and liveliness of imagination freely processed and applied to the case what is considered appropriate to adopt for themselves with the ancient Greco-Roman art.
The Michelangelo’s David is the most spectacular. He is very similar to the works of the Antique period. His beauty is the same as the beauty of the antique gods. He is the same pompous. His mature, powerful physique and confident self-awareness made it an icon of the Renaissance ideal (Marquardt, p. 148-149). There is no similarity with the Middle Age art. If they are, then so unnoticeable that it is difficult to identify them. Besides, its proportions are corresponding more to Hellenistic than to the Classical style (Adams, p. 285). The most important is that Michelangelo still creates in his own style, but with the elements of the ancient art. His style is also common for the other his works as well as in David. This is the most important in the art of the High Renaissance. At the same time, this creation of Michelangelo’s own style is the innovation of the whole epoch. David remains the most admired the statue of the male nude if the High Renaissance and art in general.