Donatello’s bronze statue of David (circa 1440s) is famous as the first unsupported standing work of bronze cast during the Renaissance, and the first freestanding nude male sculpture made since antiquity. It depicts David with an enigmatic smile, posed with his foot on Goliath’s severed head just after defeating the giant. The youth is completely naked, apart from a laurel-topped hat and boots, bearing the sword of Goliath. This piece was commissioned by the Medici family and placed in the center of the courtyard of the Medici Palace in Florence. This daring move showed that the Medici family thought that they could take ownership of David, a symbol of the city of Florence. Because this was such a scandalous idea at the time, Donatello put some shifts on the subject matter that could explain away the identity of David as “just another sculpture”. For example, David was supposed to have gone into battle completely nude, but this statue shows him wearing boots and a helmet. Goliath’s helmet also has a feather protruding that can be seen as attached to David’s foot, and thus characterized as Hermes, the Greek god. The Medici were exiled from Florence in 1494, and the statue was moved to the courtyard of the Palazzo della Signoria (the marble David was already in the palazzo). It was moved to the Pitti Palace in the 17th century, to the Uffizi in 1777, and then finally, in 1865, to the Bargellomuseum, where it remains today.
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