Michelangelo’s Study for a Bronze David (c.1502-03)

After the outpouring of admiration for David Michelangelo made studies for a bronze version. Here, though, he began conservatively using the set-up Donatello had developed: a triumphant David stepping on the decapitated head of his victim (left). Michelangelo must have  known what I have already revealed in the entry on Donatello's Davids and Goliaths that Goliath's head represents Donatello's own mind out of which David as a sculpture emerges above. This is why Donatello's Goliaths have one eye closed to signify insight, the other open for "out-sight".  

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Captions for image(s) above:

Study for a bronze David (c.1502-03) Brown Ink. Louvre, Paris.

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Michelangelo's project never went beyond these studies. Nevertheless, even on this miniscule scale, he maintained Donatello's idea. The far eye-socket in Goliath's skull-like head  (left) is shaded with diagonal lines while the other in essentially the same position is not. This conveys that the near "eye" is metaphorically open, the far one closed. This contrast would not have worked in three dimensions so it is possibly only a notation for Michelangelo to remind himself that the two eyes in the sculpture itself would need further differentiation. While this new observation grants us significant insight into Michelangelo's conception, it also confirms Donatello's.

Captions for image(s) above:

Detail of Study for a bronze or marble David

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Notes:

Original Publication Date on EPPH: 09 Dec 2011. © Simon Abrahams. Articles on this site are the copyright of Simon Abrahams. To use copyrighted material in print or other media for purposes beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Websites may link to this page without permission (please do) but may not reproduce the material on their own site without crediting Simon Abrahams and EPPH.