Enough to make your toes curl

We’re hoping to return to Florence for a holiday in April. If we do, first stop will be my favourite piece of art in all of Italy, Donatell’s David in the Bargello. To my mind, this beautiful piece of work from the fifteenth century, the first free-standing statue created since Roman times, is far superior to Michelangelo’s more famous David.

The latter is certainly bigger, a towering sixteen feet compared with Donatello’s five-foot version. As a result, Donatello’s work is more human in scope. You can go nose-to-nose with it, something impossible to do with Michelangelo’s overpowering marble. Moreover, I like the fact that Donatello’s bronze portrays victory, with Goliath’s severed head under David’s foot, rather than the misty-eyed youth by Michelangelo preparing for battle with his sling at the ready.

One element I want to see that I never previously noticed, and have only recently read about, is how Donatello made one of David’s little toes curl under the toe beside, supposedly to signify imperfection. This is not a god we’re admiring, it is but a man.

A final good reason to revisit David is that the work has just been restored using a laser treatment. It was lustrous when we last saw it; I can’t imagine the new glow from within. The Bargello has also created a copy, which is placed on a six-foot pediment, to demonstrate how David was originally displayed.

It makes my toes curl just thinking about it.

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