David is a life-size marble sculpture by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Cardinal Scipione Borghese commissioned it to decorate the Borghese Gallery. The masterpiece was completed in seven months, from 1623 to 1624. The main subject of the sculpture is the biblical David, about to throw the stone that will bring down Goliath, which will enable David to behead him.
The image of David included power and nobility and showed heroism in all its glory. Therefore, in the compositions of the fifteenth century, he was established as the winner. Bernini, in his work, showed a slightly different direction: dynamics, mental tension, and movement. His statue captures the episode of the battle itself. Bernini put his creation in line with other famous works. He showed David preparing to attack, gathering all his strength and will. The statue looks at the enemy with intense and hating eyes. The young man is serious: his eyebrows frown, his lips are bitten. The statue depicts a rebel who lives a hectic life filled with drama. Moreover, Bernini did his work in the early baroque style.
The sculptor tried not to imitate the Pergamon Altar. Bernini created his work not as a separate figure but as a pair composition that focuses on the enemy of David. One immediately understands where David’s opponent is by his look and pose. The space between them has a certain charge belonging to the statue. This is the difference between the work of Bernini and classical baroque. In the seventeenth century, his statue attracted much public attention. It includes the illusion of the living presence of heroes. And also, looking at the figure, you can immediately understand what the hero will do next. You can read all his emotions and feelings of David on his face, so the author could fashion and perpetuate them.
The biblical David was a significant subject for Renaissance artists. Moreover, it had been treated by sculptors such as Donatello, Michelangelo, and Verrocchio. Bernini’s sculpture is not self-contained but interacts with the space around the artwork. Talking about other famous depictions of David, Michelangelo showed him preparing for the battle, while Verrochio and Donatello showed him victorious afterward. On the other hand, Bernini portrayed David as throwing stones.
Throwing protagonists were so much rare in post-Antiquity sculptures
- According to the Bible, the young shepherd David defeated the giant Goliath. Many sculptors of the Renaissance era dedicated their works to the heroic feat of a hero.
- It is said that while working, Bernini’s friend and future pontiff Maffeo Barberini held a mirror in front of the sculptor, so David’s grimace reflects the grin of the author.
- Bernini received the commission to carve the statue of David from Cardinal Scipione Borghese.
- Before creating the statue, Bernini studied the Bible passages regarding David and Goliath and sculptures of David from other artists.
- The artwork was completed in seven months.
- The artist did his best to show the subject’s emotions as vivid and realistic.
- David by Bernini is a complex sculpture that emphasizes the flourishing baroque movement of the early 17th century.
- The story of David and Goliath – is one of the most recognizable in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
- Baroque era is related to the compositions in diagonal lines, as in Bernini’s David.
- There were other three famous sculptures of David by Michelangelo, Verrochio, and Donatello.