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Donatello
(1386 - 1466)
The Bronze David

Donatello’s David is featured in my adult story “On Display”.
Do not follow this link if you find sexual content offensive.

Soundbite: Lord Clark on Donatello’s David
(mp3, 22 seconds, 357k)


Artist Biography (alas, no longer with funky colours)

Donatello’s bronze David (c. 1430 - 1460??) is notable for being the first free-standing nude since Roman times. The statue’s sensuous appearance has aroused (sic) a great deal of comment over the centuries, including a highly provocative and thought-provoking poem by Randall Jarrell.

The statue’s androgyny has occasionally fuelled speculation that the figure might have originally been intended as female. Another theory is that it isn’t meant to depict David slaying Goliath at all, but rather Mercury slaying Argus. (Mercury is traditionally helmeted and sandalled, but his helmet and sandals are usually depicted as having wings, whereas in Donatello’s statue it is the youth’s victim who wears a feathered helmet.)

View Pictures

It has been claimed that the statue is based on perfect mathematical proportions, but it is impossible to prove this since the decoration on top of the helmet - a spike or plume - has been broken off at some point. Another plausible theory is that the statue originally stood in the middle of a courtyard fountain, a setting in which its nudity would have been seen as appropriate.

Given the fact that it was designed to be seen in the round, I thought it would be appropriate to include pictures showing the statue from all four sides, including the less commonly-seen back view. These images all link to bigger versions. And if that’s not enough for you, I’ve included thumbnails linking to even more views of the statue. (I guess some people might think the sheer number of images represented here is a bit obsessive. All I can say is that I wanted to include as many links as possible to high-quality images of the statue because I’ve seen far too many poor-quality ones.)

Donatello's David: back sideDonatello's David: right sideDonatello's David: front sideDonatello's David: left side


The statue has also been laser-scanned into a 3d file, which suggests some interesting possibilities. The black and white render doesn’t have the statue’s shiny surface, so it could be coloured to look like flesh and blood, stone, bronze, gold, or whatever... or animated morphing from one to the other.

If anyone can tell me where to find high-resolution renders of the 3d model, please let me know.

Donatello's David: laser scan, grey, head and shoulders, front and left profileDonatello's David: laser scan, metallic, head and shoulders, front and left profile
Donatello's David: laser scan, grey, front and backDonatello's David: laser scan, metallic, front, left and back


Wikimedia Commons: plaster replica of Donatello’s David

More links to Donatello’s work

Numerous views of Donatello’s David:
Images updated June 2005
Right viewAnother front viewFront view, black and whiteFront viewFront view down to the knees, higher resolutionYet another front view, different angleYet another front view, different angle, black and whiteLeft sideBack viewAnother back viewYet another back viewBack right viewRight view
1. Right view | 2. Front view | 3. Front view | 4. Front view | | 5. Front view down to the knees (detail of 4) | 6. Front slightly left view | 7. Front left view | 8. Left view | 9. Back slightly left view | 10. Back slightly left view | 11. Back view | 12. Back right view | 13. Right view

Face: right profileFace: front viewFace: another front viewFace: three-quarter left profileLower back, buttocks and legs
14. Face, right profile | 15. Head and shoulders, front slightly right view | 16. Head and shoulders, front view | 17. Face, front left | 18. Buttocks and legs, left slightly back view

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Randall Jarrell’s Donatello Poem
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