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David (Michelangelo) facts for kids

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'David' by Michelangelo JBU06
David by Michelangelo

David is a statue by Michelangelo, begun in 1501 and completed in 1504. It is made of marble and is 17 feet tall. It is a statue of a shepherd, David, whose story is told in the Bible. David fought a battle with a giant soldier called Goliath. He beat Goliath by knocking him down with a small stone from his slingshot. David later became King of Israel.

Michelangelo has carved the figure naked, in the way that Ancient Roman statues of Classical Gods were often made. He shows David before the fight, just as he is looking at Goliath and planning what to do.

The statue was paid for by the wool-workers of Florence. To the people of the Republic of Florence, David, the teenage boy who fought a giant, was a symbol of how a small fierce town could battle off powerful invaders. David was a particularly important symbol to the wool-workers as well, because as a boy, he took care of his father’s sheep, and as a king, he was like a shepherd to his people.

The statue of David is a symbol of the City of Florence, Italy, and is Michelangelo's most famous work of sculpture. It is often called The David.

Making the statue

Michelangelo David crop
David's head

From about 1464 the members of the Wool Guild wanted to have twelve statues of people from the Old Testament of the Bible carved for the Florence Cathedral. These statues were to go on the buttresses all around the outside walls, high up near the roof. Two statues had already been made by Donatello and his assistant, Agostino di Duccio. Duccio was asked to carve a statue of David. He began carving the statue's feet, chest and a hole between the legs. He stopped making the statue when his master, Donatello, died in 1466. Antonio Rossellino then worked on the statue for two years. The block of stone was untouched for 33 years and was left in the cathedral workshop where it was getting damaged by the weather. Michelangelo began working on David on September 13, 1501. It was finished on September 8, 1504.

Where the statue was placed

When it was finished, the statue was placed in front of the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio. During 1873 it was moved to the Accademia Gallery in Florence to protect it from damage. The statue currently attracts many visitors to the Accademia Gallery.

Damage to the statue

In 1991, Piero Cannata, an artist whom the police described as deranged, attacked the statue with a hammer he had concealed beneath his jacket and damaged the second toe of the left foot. He later said that a 16th-century Venetian painter's model ordered him to do so. Cannata was restrained by museum patrons until the police arrived. Fragments fell to the floor, and three tourists were caught by guards as they were trying to leave the gallery with pieces in their pockets.


Michelangelo's David has stood on display at Florence's Galleria dell'Accademia since 1873. On 29 August 1846, Grand Duke Leopold II of Tuscany commissioned Clemente Papi, a student of Stefano Ricci, to make a plaster cast of the David. Papi, a master bronze caster, was experienced in making moulds and reproductions, and set about the project in the summer of 1847. He probably used wax to release the mould rather than oil or fat. This was less damaging than the encaustic wax used by Ricci in 1813, but residue from the gypsum of the plaster mould appears to be present in places where removing coatings is difficult, such as between the David's toes.

This cast was to be moved to various locations in the city to determine their suitability for the statue. Papi first made two plaster replicas of the marble David from his moulds, one of which was given in 1857 by Leopold II to Queen Victoria of England. A decree by the Tuscan state on 2 October 1858 ordered the casting of the entire figure of the David, which Papi completed in August 1866, sending the finished statue to the 1867 Paris Exposition the next year. His intention had always been to cast a bronze replica, and this cast was eventually raised on the Piazzale Michelangelo in 1875 to commemorate the fourth centenary of Michelangelo's birth.

The statue sent to Queen Victoria was intended as a diplomatic gesture by Duke Leopoldo II to assuage any ill feelings caused by his refusal to allow the sending of a notable Domenico Ghirlandaio painting from Florence to London. Apparently Queen Victoria was surprised to receive such a gift, and gave the statue to the newly opened South Kensington Museum, now the Victoria and Albert Museum. Papi's copy, which was sent to the Accademia di delle Belle Arti of Florence where it resides in the Gipsoteca (Gallery of Plaster Casts) of the Istituto Statale d'Arte, has been used to make all subsequent casts of the David.

Michelangelo's statue is the best known and the most often reproduced of all the artistic works created in Florence.

Other pages

The following are other statues by Michelangelo:

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: David (Miguel Ángel) para niños

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