on August 10, 2008
The Galleria dell’Accademia is well on the tourist trail. It houses possibly the most famous sculpture in the world, ‘David’, fashioned by the then 29-year-old Michelangelo Buonarroti.I found that not having pre-booked was not an issue when I visited the Accademia. To be honest, I didn’t think there was an awful lot there for your €6.50. Michelangelo’s ‘David’ is of course the star attraction, a huge block of a man. It towers to the roof of the gallery, over five metres tall. But… and here’s where I can get into trouble… while I can recognise that this massive sculpture is of course a masterpiece, with such well-defined musculature and veinage, I have to say… it really isn’t all that. I sat staring at it, trying to work out what was wrong. David’s head seems all out of proportion. More than that, his hands are truly gigantic. All I ask is, look at his right hand. If he were to straighten his fingers and bend the hand back at the wrist he would be able to touch his own elbow. His thumb is roughly the same size as his, ahem, manhood. (Mind you, from the graffiti inside the toilet cubicle downstairs, some men obviously find that look attractive!)I actually preferred Michelangelo’s unfinished ‘Prisoners’. These are partially carved blocks of marble, with half-formed figures seemingly clawing their way out. A face here, a shoulder there, here a thigh. It made the whole process of sculpture seem more organic, like each block has a form it wants to attain, and it is up to the artist to release it. Weird – I found the unfinished and discarded works spoke to me more than the acknowledged pinnacle of the sculpter’s art. But then, I’ve always been contrary.The other rooms in the Galleria contain only plaster models, some Russian icons, and a few ho-hum gothic paintings – nothing to detain you. €6.50 is hence a lot to pay for not very much. And to be honest you can see a perfectly decent copy of David in its origoinal setting outside the Palazzo Vecchio, where the original once stood, for free. What more can be gained by seeing the ‘original’? I don’t know, other than to tick a box. The Prisoners are quite affecting, but on the whole my view is that you miss out on not very much by not paying a visit to the Galleria dell’Accademia.
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