(b. ca. 1386, Firenze, d. 1466, Firenze)


Marble, height 191 cm
Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence

A Gothic quality, although tempered by a moral intensity and a fierce spiritual pride foreign to Ghiberti, pervades the marble David of 1409. Along with the Isaiah of Nanni di Banco this statue should have been placed on the lower frieze of one of the buttresses of the Tribuna of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, but it proved too small for its intended site and in 1416 was moved to the Sala dell'Oriuolo in Palazzo Vecchio; it was transferred to the Bargello in the last century.

It may seem odd to find a sculpture as illustrating the origins of the emerging Renaissance style in painting, but actually in the Renaissance, the sculptors were a half step ahead of the painters in delineating the new language of forms. The most influential among them was Donatello. His David is one of his earliest works in marble and was made more than a decade before the painters displayed a similar respect for the human figure.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 11 minutes):
Johann Kuhnau: The Fight between David and Goliath (No. 1 of the 6 Stories from the Bible illustrated in music)