David by Donatello

donatello's david statues

Donatello’s David sculpture in bronze, one of the most groundbreaking masterpieces of the early Renaissance period, perched high on an elevated base and was visible to visitors in the Palazzo Medici in Florence.

who is the statue of?

In Donatello’s work, David’s innocence is evident: his nude body is that of a youngster, vividly contrasted with Goliath’s heavy facial hair and age, whose decapitated head falls at his feet.

why is david naked?

Exposing his young and weak physique emphasizes the remarkable nature of his victory. David is practically stripped naked in front of God and the audience, triumphant solely by God’s will.

why is david naked?

Being depicted without clothing had good implications in ancient art: Greek and Roman deities and heroes communicated their purity through their idealized naked bodies.

marble david

The marble is Donatello’s earliest known significant commission, David, and is a piece tightly connected to tradition, with little indications of the artist’s unique approach to the depiction that he would develop as he aged.

marble david

Although the legs are positioned in a traditional contrapposto, the figure stands in a beautiful Gothic sway inspired by Lorenzo Ghiberti.

bronze david

The Donatello David bronze statue is well-known for being the first freestanding piece of bronze created during the Renaissance, and also the first freestanding nude male statue constructed since antiquity.

bronze david

The bronze David‘s symbolism is similar to that of the marble David: a youthful hero stands with a sword in hand and the severed head of his adversary at his feet.


A further view is that David reflects Donatello’s attempt to create a new portrayal of the male nude, to use artistic license rather than reproduce the classical models that had previously served as the basis for depicting the masculine nude.


Jeno Lanyi questioned the figure’s conventional identification in 1939, with an explanation veering toward ancient mythology, the hero’s helmet notably indicating Hermes or Mercury.


From June 2007 to November 2008, the bronze sculpture was restored. The statue had never been repaired before, but fears about layers of “mineralized waxings” on the surface of the bronze prompted the 18-month intervention.