It is the statue of the young Israelite king David that has become regarded as a symbol both of strength and youthful human beauty.
The statue portrays the King David in the nude, at the moment that he decides to do battle with Goliath.
It came to symbolize the Florentine Republic, an independent city state threatened on all sides by more powerful rival states; and idea encouraged by the original setting of the sculpture outside the seat of civic government in Florence.
It was originally commissioned by the Operai del Duomo, members of the influential woolen cloth guild and started by an artist Agostino di Duccio, assitant to Donatello in the mid 1400’s but was abandoned around 1466 after the death of Donatello.
Due to its size and the expense of such a large piece of stone, the Operai were determined to finish the project, even thought of Leonardo to pick it up, but Michelangelo convinced them to let him take the contract and he worked on it for three years.
Once completed there were debates as to where it should be situated (Botticelli and Leonardo were both on the advisory counsel) and eventually it was placed publicly in front of the Florentine civic government.
Vasari wrote, “this was intended as a symbol of liberty for the Palace, signifying that just as David had protected his people…whoever ruled Florence should vigorously defend the city and govern it with justice.”
What is interesting is that other renditions of David , one by Donatello for example, usually show David triumphant whereas this David is ready for battle, unaffraid…like the the city-state of Florence.
Michelangelo, Doni Tondo (Doni Madonna) circa 1503 Oil and tempera on panel 120 cm diameter
Commissioned by Angelo Doni for his own private, religious purposes; however it was still supported by the community.
The round composition of the frame tondo/tondi in Italian was a symbol of marriage.
It is believed that he had it commissioned for commemorate his marriage to the Strozzi family, a wealthy Tuscan family thought to be in opposition to the powerful Medici.
The painting depicts the St. John the Baptist child being presented to the viewer by the Virgin Mary and Joseph.
This composition of presentation may be referring to the patron of the piece’s name Doni, in Italian "gifts", and helps to solidify its patronage. Behind the main figures, several nude male figures are painted in the background.
… Michelangelo’s knowledge of Dante's Divina Commedia where Paradiso (cantica 33 of the poem) Saint Bernard, in a prayer for the Virgin Mary, says "Vergine madre, figlia del tuo figlio" (Virgin mother, daughter of your son). This is said because, being that Christ is one of the three figures of Trinity, Mary would be his daughter, but it is also she who bore him.
According to Giorgio Vasari, shortly after the installation of his Pietà Michelangelo overheard someone remark that it was the work of another sculptor, Cristoforo Solari. Michelangelo then carved MICHAELA[N]GELUS BONAROTUS FLORENTIN[US] FACIEBA[T] (Michelangelo Buonarroti, Florentine, made it) on the sash running across Mary's breast. It was the only work he ever signed. He later regretted his outburst of pride and swore never to sign another work of his hands.
Leonardo Da Vinci, Virgin of the Rocks 1483-1486 Oil on panel (transferred to canvas) 199 x 122 cm Louvre Version
Leonardo Da Vinci, Virgin of the Rocks 1495-1508 Oil on panel 189.5 x 120 cm London Version
Originally commissioned for the Milanese Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception --a religious brotherhood, for their new chapel.
There had been a previous contract in 1480 with Giacomo del Maino, which had evidently not been completed; among the work stipulated in the second contract was the completion and gilding of various carvings for the wooden framework of the altarpiece (none known to survive).
Three paintings were stipulated, a central Virgin and Child with "the angels", and two side panels with angels, described only in the earlier contract with del Maino.
The art work taken over by Leonardo was started in April 1483 and was supposed to be completed for the Feast of Conception (Dec 8) 1483, but was not finished by that date. A legal dispute ensued and Leonardo ended up leaving Milan.
The dispute was settled on April 27th, 1506, with the requirement that should Leonardo return to Milan within two years he should complete the painting, and receive further specified sums beyond those in the original contact. He was eventually paid in 1507.
What is in some dispute is why there are two versions…historians are not sure if Leonardo was requested to do the second because the first was not sufficient.
Thought to be originally commissioned by Lorenzo de’ Medici and that it was never finished --> reason is believed to be the death of the patron.
Michelangelo started this sculpture when he was 17 years of age and shows a strong influence of Greek and Roman relief sculpture, though he has surpassed that cannon due to Mich’s ability to create space within the small work, done through polishing the foreground figures and giving the background figures a rougher finish.
The work is thought to symbolise the victory of human reason (the Lapiths) over brute force (the centaurs), which was on the suggestion of humanist poet Angelo Poliziano -->a theme popular on ancient sarcophagi. The story comes orignally from Ovid’s Metamorphoses
Michelangelo, Tomb of Pope Julius II , 1505-1545, marble