Six effigies precede the path to the portentous figure of the most controversial of the monarchs of Israel. All of them are the result of the chisel of Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) and announce solemn image of David (1504). There is no secret for any visitor of Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence that the very famous sculpture of the mythical character of the Old Testament leads them in. David is their motive and their quest.
But not always David was sheltered under the beautiful dome specially designed in the 19th Century to house his elegant figure. Instead, it was originally placed in Piazza della Signoria (at the entrance of the Palazzo Vecchio) also in Florence. There, it should irradiate the strength and youth of a thriving city, whose gallantry had drawn limits to its enemies, shouting serenity to their threats. Florence stood supreme in the early Cinquecento with David as its faithful guardian.
Thus, David, in the 16th Century, gave Florence -from the biblical account- a new meaning. It also provided the Florentines with a new image for the hero of the Bible. If there were David and Jerusalem, they had then David and Florence. As Linda Murray put it: “For the Florentines, David was the essence of civic virtue courage, strength, and faith as Judith was the symbol of the triumph of courage over tyranny in the fight for freedom.”
Florence was not any given city of the Italian peninsula. “Venezia la bella, Genova la superba, Firenze la venozza” (Venice the beautiful, Genoa the proud, Florence the gracious), says an old Italian proverb known to distinguish this charming city between the famous cities of the region. Florence seemed destined to become the queen of all Italian cities. Only Rome, the mighty Rome, could beat it.
[Read Part II]