Stories behind the Stories with Perfect Traveller

Stories behind the Stories with Perfect Traveller
01 June 2016 0 Comment

Often the best stories are hidden behind the noise of the crowds and the obvious landmarks of a city. Perfect Traveller takes you ‘off the beaten track’ behind the statues and paintings of great cities where you will rediscover the adventure of travel and excitement of making new adventures along the way.

One such story took place on the 25 January 1504, when the sculpture of David by Michelangelo was nearing completion, Florentine authorities had to acknowledge there would be little possibility of raising the more than 6 tons (5443 kg) statue to the roof of the cathedral; an idea to crown the duomo with the greatest sculpture since antiquity as an extravagant gift from the all-powerful guilds of the city. They convened a committee of 30 Florentine citizens that comprised many artists, including Leonardo da Vinci and Sandro Botticelli, to decide on an appropriate site for David much to the chagrin of the great artist. While nine different locations for the statue were discussed, the majority of members seem to have been closely split between two sites. One group, led by Giuliano da Sangallo and supported by da Vinci and Piero di Cosimo, among others, believed that, due to the imperfections in the marble, the sculpture should be placed under the roof of the Loggia dei Lanzi on Piazza della Signoria; the other group thought it should stand at the entrance to the Palazzo della Signoria, the city’s town hall (now known as Palazzo Vecchio).

Another opinion, supported by Botticelli, was that the sculpture should be situated on or near the cathedral. In June 1504, David was installed next to the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio, replacing Donatello’s bronze sculpture of Judith and Holofernes, which embodied a comparable theme of heroic resistance. It took four days to move the statue the half mile from Michelangelo’s workshop into the Piazza della Signoria. Later that summer the sling and tree-stump support were gilded, and the figure was given a gilded loin-garland which has fortunately be removed and lost in the passage of time.

In 1873 the statue of David was removed from the piazza, to protect it from damage, and displayed in the Accademia Gallery in a special “tribune” designed by the architect Emilio de Fabris (1808-1883), where the world comes to visit it today. A replica was placed near the entrance of Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria in 1910.

Peter Kilby
About the Author

Peter Kilby is an artist, writer, story-teller, journalist and avid traveller who has lived and worked in Italy since 1987. He created Perfect Traveller to bring the world of art and history closer to you. Download the “free” Perfect Traveller app and enjoy the best audio tours available; about Italy today and yesterday. Sign Up to this website and submit your travel stories and become part of the Perfect Traveller community.

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