During the Baroque art period were discover the art piece “David,” a life-size marble sculpture commissioned by GianLorenzo Bernini’s patron, Cardinal Scipione Borghese. The sculpture was commissioned as a decoration for the villa of Bernini’s patron where it still resides today. Scholars believe it was completed in approximately seven-month stretch from 1623 to 1624. The subject of his work is that of the biblical David. Shown here as about to throw the stone that will bring down Goliath; which then will allow David to behead the giant as scribed in the bible. Relating to earlier works on the same theme, it is also revolutionary in its implied movement and its psychological depth. When comparing this to Michelangelo’s “David”, a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture era created between 1501 and 1504, we can see clear differences in styles.
Both sculptures show us a representation of biblical David from the Old Testament; however Bernini’s sculpture “David” displays a scene from the First Book of Samuel in the Old Testament on the Bible. As the Bible states, the Israelites and the Philistines are at war with one another. One of the great Philistine warriors, who is described as a giant warrior, Goliath, has challenged any of the Israelite soldiers to settle the conflict with a single combat. The young shepherd David has just taken up the challenge, and is about to slay the giant with a stone from his sling; and this is where our sculpture jumps into the story. We see David who is nude but slightly covered by a robe. At his feet lies his armor he has just shed, as he is unaccustomed to wearing it and believes he is a better fighter without it. Also at his feet is his iconographic harp, something not mentioned in the biblical account.
The facts that these two sculptures are completely different are right in front of our faces. They could not look any different even though they are that of the same subject matter, the biblical David. In Michelangelo’s “David”, he portrays David as a young male adult, who is completely nude holding a piece of some kind of garment over his should. David is look into the distance and not at the viewer as well as standing still. Michelangelo’s “David” does not have much movement or dynamics. It seems as if this piece shows David in all his triumph and glory; as if it is a shrine or celebration of his life and triumphs. With Michelangelo’s “David” we get a sense of confidence, tranquility, and diplomacy as if David is in control of the situation; that as is swell.
When looking back at Bernini’s “David”, we don’t get the same reaction. Bernini’s “David” has so much more dynamic feel. We do not see this young adult male with a perfect body like in Michelangelo’s sculpture. We have more energetic and vibrant piece, which engages with the viewer. This piece is extremely strong in the sense that it pulls the viewer into this historical biblical event of how David beat the giant Goliath. We can see and feel the energy in the action that of David as he is slinging the stone at Goliath. It has such a strong sense of movement that we just expect that the sculpture is ready to “unfreeze” and sling that rock towards Goliath’s head. On an emotional level, Bernini’s “David” were revolutionary for exploring a variety of extreme mental states; such as the anger seen here onDavid’s face. The frowning and biting of his lower lip, is twisted in a fiercely concentrated aggression towards Goliath.
Bernini’s “David” as is different from Michelangelo’s “David” and other sculptures as of fact in another way that is challenges the viewer too walk around the sculpture to view all the energy and movement that this piece is engaging with the viewer. Before this most sculptures were more like paintings as they had one point of view that the artist wanted everyone to view their work from. The fact that Bernini’s “David” is so three-dimensional it needs its “space”. With the space it dares the viewer to challenge themselves to engage into the seen as if our in the middle of the conflict between David and Goliath.
Bernini’s “David” was such a breakthrough for the sculptures. Before now the sculptures did not have the movement or emotions that Bernini’s “David” did.