Michelangelo Revealed

Michelangelo, "David", detail of David's hand

Michelangelo, “David”, detail of David’s hand

Every once in a while someone makes a comment about a piece of art that changes the way you perceive it forever.

Looking at photos of Michelangelo’s “David”, Ashley Hollister, sculptor and set designer, remarked,  “Look at the weight in that hand.”

Weight, in deed, to say nothing of the swelled veins. This is David before battle, whose intention is read both in his hands and his face, yet contrasted by his relaxed body.

Michelangelo, "David"

Michelangelo, “David”

Both the hands and the head of “David” are disproportionately large, probably because it was originally commissioned as one of a series of statues of prophets to be positioned along the roof line of the east end of Florence Cathedral, the statue was instead placed in a public square, outside the Palazzo della Signoria, the seat of civic government in Florence, where it was unveiled on 8 September 1504. [Wikipedia]

The statue stands over 17 feet high. Watching a BBC documentary on the Medicis I found out that the sculpture was carved on its side. Michelangelo had made a small wax figure of the model. To help him enlarge it, he place the wax figure in a container of water. Each day he let out a bit of the water and carved his way down to that level.

Demonstration of Michelangelo's wax sculpture emerging from the pool of water.

Demonstration of Michelangelo’s wax sculpture emerging from the pool of water.