Jennifer Keefe Professor Mark Moak Art History 1 December 2011 The Life and Times of the Four David Artists Through out the years there were many great artists who created many great works of art, but only four Italian artists really stick out for creating the same piece all with different points of views. These artists were Donatello, Verrocchio, Michelangelo, and Bernini, all of who created a David sculpture. Each one very unique and different.
These four artists all stand out in there own individual ways. David who was supposed to be the second king of Israel, killed Goliath with just a sling and a single stone.
The story of David and Goliath goes something like this, according to the bible in 1 Samuel 17. “The Philistine army gathered for war against the Israelites. The two armies faced each other on opposite sides of a valley. A Philistine giant named Goliath, would come out in armor and challenge the Israelites to war. The King of Israel who at that time was Saul, and his whole army were scared of Goliath. David who was the youngest son of Jesse, was sent to battle for one simple task, to bring his father back news of his brothers. While there, David heard Goliath shouting and saw the fear that had began to show in the men of Israel.
David volunteered himself to fight Goliath, it took sometime for Saul to agree, but finally he gave in. Dressed in his simple tunic, carrying only his staff, slingshot and a pouch full of stones, David approached Goliath. The giant cursed at him, making horrible threats and insults. David said to Goliath, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied … today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air … and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel … t is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands. ’ As Goliath moved in for the kill, David reached into his bag and took out a single stone and aimed for Goliath’s head. Finding a hole in the armor, the stone sank into Goliath’s forehead and caused Goliath to fall face down on the ground. David then took Goliath’s sword, killed him and cut off his head. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned around and ran. At this moment the Israelites began to pursue, chase and kill their enemy (1 Samuel 17). ”
As time went on four very different artists became inspired to create their own very different and very unique David’s. These four artists were Donatello, Verrocchio, Michelangelo and Bernini. First was Donatello. Donatello was an early Italian artist and sculptor from Florence. Donatello is well known for doing most of his work in bas-relief, which is a shallow relief, which is well incorporated in his 14th century works. Donatello created many major works such as the statue of St. Mark in 1411 through 1413. In 1417 Donatello completed St. George, which is shown in bas relief and shows one of the first xamples of central point perspective. Central point perspective is when all the perspective lines come from one point in the painting or drawing. One of the things that I read about that I found funny was that Donatello sculpted a tabernacle for his work but was sold in 1460 to hold Verrocchio’s Incredulity of St. Thomas. Between 1415 and 1426, Donatello created five more statues for Giotto’s campanile of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, which to some of us we like to call the Duomo. The five works that are in the campanile are the Beardless Prophet, the Bearded Prophet, which were both made in he year 1415, the Sacrifice of Isaac in 1421, Habbakuk in the years 1423 through 1425, and Jeremiah in the years 1423 through 1426. These sculptures follow classical models for viewers and show strong details. In 1425 Donatello created a piece titled Crucifix, which shows Christ in a moment of agony, with his eyes and mouth slightly opened. Between the years of 1425 through 1427, Donatello worked with another artist by the name of Michelozzo on the monument for the Antipope John XXII for the monument that would be in Florence. Donatello completed a marble panel monument for Cardinal Rainaldo Brancacci in a church in
Naples, int the year 1427. Around the same time he did two statues called Faith and Hope for a baptistery in Siena. “Donatello created a perfect balance between Classicism and realism in my mind. This was created from an image of an Italian boy who looked like a Classical nude figure (Fichner-Rathus 331). ” I didn’t know this, I just thought it was something that he created from his mind. Although Donatello was inspired by Classical figures, he chose a young boy whose arms appear weak because of the lack of muscles. After defeating Goliath, whose head lies at David’s feet, he rests his sword by his side, hich looks like it was almost to heavy for David to handle. “It seems almost impossible that a young boy like David could have succeeded in such a task. David himself look shocked even by his own deed as he glances down on the body of Goliath. Apparently, David’s intellect, faith and courage made up for his lack of build (Fichner- Rathus 331-332). ” Donatello’s David now sits in the Medici. Second was Verrocchio, who also designed a sculpture of David. Verrocchio in my opinion was one of the best known sculptors of his time in the fifteenth century. Verrocchio was born in Florence around the year 1435.
Some people say that he studied under Donatello, but no one knows for sure, some people also say that he might have studied under a painter named Lippi. It is a mystery that has yet to be solved and may never be solved. Verrocchio’s main works are dated back to his late twenties. His studio or workshop was in Florence where he was a member of the Guild of St. Luke. Some more great artists passed through his studio such as Leonardo da Vinci and Lorenzo di Credi. Some of the works that were created by his students are often times hard to distinguish between his own works and theirs. Towards the end of his life he opened a ew workshop in Venice where he was working on a sculpture of Bartolomeo Colleoni. Eventually he left his workshop in the hands of one of his apprentices Lorenzo di Credi. Verrocchio died in Venice around the year 1488. Verrocchio’s figure of David is one the most famous works of his time and still is today. In Verrocchio’s David, I see a strong contrast between the way that Verrocchio treated the same subject that Donatello did. Verrocchio’s brave man “appears somewhat older and excludes pride and self- confidence rather than a dreamy gaze of disbelief (Fichner-Rathus 334). ” I personally hought that Verrocchio’s David looked surprised but also quite proud of himself. Verrocchio had little detail that showed in his David, where as Donatello did a very good job with his realism and making the torso of David seem different. Verrocchio’s sculpture also looks like a different technique was used. Donatello’s David has closed objects and Davids limbs are in created in what they call an S- curve stance, which helped with his human form. An S- curve is where the calf and the thigh are bent so that the leg creates the shape of an S, which is very different from Verrocchio’s sculpture because his is more open.
For example, the sword and elbow are sticking out, away from the center of the body. “Donatello’s graceful pose had been replaced in the Verrocchio, by a jaunty contrapposto that enhances David’s image of self-confidence (Fichner-Rathus 334). ” The third artist that created a David sculpture was Michelangelo. Michelangelo was probably one of the greatest artists that ever lived during his time. Michelangelo was born during the biggest period of Western art also known as Renaissance Italy, which at that time was the most artistically developed country. Not only was Michelangelo a sculptor, but was also a fresco painter.
Michelangelo created The Creation and The Last Judgement, both of which are in the Sistine Chapel. The start of Michelangelo’s career started in Florence, which at the time was under Lorenzo the Magnificent. Things were changing after the death of the anti-Renaissance Priest and the leader of Florence. Michelangelo was asked to complete an unfinished project that was already started 40 years earlier by an artist named Agostino di Duccio. This project was a huge statue of David, which symbolized the freedom of the Florentine republic. This statue of David was to be placed in the Piazza della Signoria which is front of the
Palazzo Vecchio. This masterpiece was created out of a solid marble block. This was a huge advantage for Michelangelo because he was able to use this to establish himself as a sculptor of incredible talent and strength for his imagination. Michelangelo had a very strong character from what I have read about him. He preferred to work by himself, rather then working with others, which is probably where he gets such a sense of independence and strong character. I’ve also read that Michelangelo would lose his temper and would end up in sticky situations because of it. Julius II who was the pope t the time, made Michelangelo bend over backwards at his feet to try and get him to get him to finally paint the wall and ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. His reputation as a sculptor was established when he carved his David at the edge of twenty-seven from a single piece of what seemed like to everyone else as an unworkable piece of marble. Unlike the David’s that were created by Donatello and Verrocchio, Michelangelo’s David is not shown after defeating Goliath instead, David is portrayed as a “most beautiful animal preparing to kill-not by savagery and brute force, but by intellect and skill (Fichner-Rathus 345). Over his shoulder is David’s sling, and the stone is sitting in the palm of his right hand. Michelangelo’s David shows the young face of David who has just reached adulthood and shows great physical and intellectual attributes. Michelangelo’s sculpture is close in form, like Donatello’s David. “All the elements move firmly around a central axis (Fichner-Rathus 345). ” Finally, there is Bernini. Bernini had many early works before he created his David sculpture in 1623. Bernini studied under Cardinal Scipione Borghese, who was a member of the reigning papal family at that time. Under Cardinal Scipione, Bernini arved his first group of life size sculptures. Bernini’s first life size sculpture was called Aeneas, Anchises and Ascanius Fleeing Troy which was created in 1619. Bernini’s second sculpture was created in 1622 called Pluto and Proserpina. In 1624 Bernini created Apollo and Daphne which was supposed to be viewed as a relief. “Apollo and Daphne standing near each other looking as though they could be in motion. Apollo’s left arm is resting on Daphne’s left hip. This statue is in the Galleria Borghese in Rome. ( Italian Master). ” The Ecstasy of Theresa is another sculpture that was done between 1644 and 1647.
This sculpture was made the church of the Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome. This sculpture was created for Saint Theresa because she would write religious narratives. In one of here narratives she talks about her relationship with god as a “burning arrow piercing through her heart (Meyer 10),” I thought a description of a relationship between a human and God would be a little more beautiful and not so morbid. The sculpture of Emperor Constantine, which was sculpted between 1654-1670 out of marble, is another one of Bernini’s works of art. It is located in the Vatican in Rome. The statue has drapes in it that are not marble but stucco.
In 1623 Bernini created his David, which is very different from those of Donatello, Verrocchio and Michelangelo. Bernini had neither Donatello’s triumphant boy or Michelangelo’s posturing adolescent. Bernini’s hero is full-grown and fully engaged-both physically and psychologically. David’s aim shows his muscular body as it twists just a split second before slinging the stone that he has grasped in his left hand. David stands alone, but Goliath is simply just envisioned in the viewers mind as standing directly behind David. As a viewer looking at the sculpture of David, I am almost tempted to play the fight in my mind and pretend hat I am ducking in order to avoid being hit with a stone. “It is the anticipation of violent action that heightens this confrontation as David’s latent power is momentarily arrested (Scribner 66). ” Present in this sculpture are three of the five characteristics of Baroque art: motion which is a different way of looking at space and the concept of time. Donatello and Verrocchio depicted David at rest after he killed Goliath, Michelangelo, presented David before the battle, with the tension and emotion evident in every vein and muscle. Bernini does not depict David before or after the fight. Instead, he shows him in the rocess of the fight. This represents the element of time in his work. The views are forced to complete the action that David has begun for us. With David’s positioning, a new concept of space comes into play. “No longer does the figure remain still in a Classical contrapposto stance, but rather extends into the surrounding space away from a vertical axis. This movement outward from a central core forces the viewer to take into account both the form and the space between and surrounding the forms-in order to appreciate the complete composition” (Fichner- Rathus 360). ” In order to understand the sculpture fully, we must move around the work.
As we move, the views of the work change drastically. As you can see, the works sculpted by Donatello, Verrocchio, Michelangelo and Bernini are drastically very different in there own ways. Donatello presented David as a young boy who seemed incapable and amazed at his feat. Verrocchio’s David, although an adolescent, appears somewhat older and has more self-confidence than Donatello’s David. Michelangelo’s David has just reached manhood and is capable of great physical feats, like defeating Goliath. Finally, Bernini’s David is a full grown man. He, like Michelangelo’s David, also appears to be strong, brave and gifted enough to slaughter
Goliath. These four artists were both amazing and spectacular. They each brought something different into the world and even still to this very day we are still in awe over what they created. Donatello, Verrocchio, Michelangelo, and Bernini, four great artists with four very different views on the world. Works Cited Fichner-Rathus, Lois. Understanding Art. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc, 1995 Italian Master. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1940. Meyer, Alfred Gotthold. Donatello. Liepzig: Fischer & Wittig, 1904 Scribner, Charles. Gianlorenzo Bernini. New York: H. N. Abrams, Publishers, 1991.