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David Bernini Michelangelo & Donatello

The second king of Israel, David, defeated Goliath and inspired a variety of artists thereafter. Bernini, Donatello and Michelangelo were three among other artists who sculpted the image of David. Donatello’s David was sculpted nearly a century before Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of the same name. Donatello actually sculpted David twice. In Donatello’s David, the sculpture was the first life-size nude statue since the ancient era though it would pale in comparison to Michelangelo’s scale. David represented a heroic figure to the Florentines who saw him as a symbol of their own struggle against powerful forces. Donatello’s sculpture shows a David who does not look so certain of his power. Donatello is “often interested in the psychology of his figures and interested in textures” (Donatello 2). We see this in his sculpture because David does not look victorious but more as we might think a young leader might look when facing a giant, a bit quizzical and unsure. The hair and beard add texture in contrast to the smooth boyish face, while the crown of leaves not only adds texture to the piece but is meant to symbolize victory and links him with heroes from the past.

Bernini often designed sculptural groups, not individual pieces, but his marble, life-size figure of David that adorns St. Peter’s is a lone piece. In Bernini’s work which sets David in a different setting than Donatello’s or Michelangelo’s, we see the conflict and energy that embody the Baroque style of architecture. As De la Croix and Tansey maintain, “Unlike the states of rest or tension that one finds in the Davids of Donatello, Verrocchio and Michelangelo, Bernini’s version aims at catching the split-second action” (717). We are almost afraid Goliath is about to attack from the way David is bent and about to use his slingshot (Bernini 1).

Bernini’s sculpture of David appears to be in m


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