Published on October 13th, 2014 | by Ann Rickard0
Man For All Seasons
To experience standing beneath the towering presence of David in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence you may have to wait three hours – especially in the high season. But it is worth every impatient, hot, frustrating minute.
To gaze up first at his enormous feet, taking in the meticulous detail of his toes, then further up past his perfectly defined calves and powerful thighs, moving the eyes quickly over his private bits up to his flat stomach and massive ribcage, before reaching his beautiful young face with its sensuous lips and circlet of curls, is to know you are in the presence of one of the world’s most significant masterpieces.
But then Florence abounds with masterpieces. It is a trap to become blase in Florence where there is awe-inspiring art and antique genius on every corner.
You can become overwhelmed and rush from a Botticelli to a Da Vinci with indecent haste. But not so with David. He transfixes everyone. Michelangelo was not the first to take a chisel to the immense slab of Carrara marble that became David. Two others worked on him before Michelangelo was commissioned to take over in 1501.
It is 510 years since David was first placed in the della Signoria, and during that time he has had rioters throw stones at him, had his foot smashed, been boxed up for 10 years and had a nasty fungus creep all over his body. Hard to imagine such irreverence today. David was given a thorough clean for his 500th birthday. It involved much scaffolding, many months, a lot of money and endless purified water. But his entire 5.17 magnificent metres were thoroughly spruced to ensure he will lord it over the hordes for centuries to come.
All of Florence is a glorious work of art and walking is the best way to see it. But you must stop, absorb, appreciate – and never give in to that lurking imp of nonchalance in the face of so much culture.