Comparing Donatello And Michelangelo's David

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The two statues of David by Donatello and Michelangelo may depict the same young shepherd boy and his heroic battle against the giant Goliath, but their artistic representation of this famous Biblical account are vastly different. The reason such unique representation of David is due to their unique interpretation of the story itself as well as the interaction between man and God. Both artists, whose goal was not to accurately depict David as he was described in the Bible, developed a significance to David’s defeat over Goliath using their own interpretation. As a result, Donatello’s representation of David is that of a nude, pubescent boy unable to achieve such a mighty feat without the support of God, while Michelangelo’s David portrays a…show more content…
Unlike Donatello’s David, Michelangelo chose to depict David the moment before throwing the stone that would slay Goliath, with his brows furrowed and slingshot over his shoulder. Like Donatello, Michelangelo sculpted David in the nude. However, it is used to emphasize David’s maturity and strength. With his perfect, muscular build and confident, poised position before the heat of battle, the David presented is one endowed with gifts and talents that would lead himself to victory. This is further emphasized by the slight enlargement of David’s right hand in proportion to his body. The largeness, as well as extreme detail and stress of the veins, symbolize that David slew Goliath with his own hands, not with the help of any other force. According to David, when persuading King Saul into allowing him to fight Goliath, “Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he had defied the armies of the living God (1 Samuel 17:36).’” From this statement, Michelangelo interpreted David as a man of great strength in body and faith. It is not Michelangelo’s intention to state that God is irrelevant in this story, rather that David’s victory is so great because he used his strength, not to glorify himself or King Saul, but to serve God by accepting a position that would protect and save God’s people. This is presented by the broken tree stump behind David’s right leg. The tree stump is symbolic of the tree that bore the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. The fact that is is broken is symbolic of Jesus restoring humanity on the wood of the cross. Michelangelo positions David in front of the stump in protection of God’s people that Jesus will one day bring to
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