This is the highlight of the Galleria dell’Accademia’s collections and this sculpture has been there since 1873. It stands at just over 5.15 metres in height, which makes the sculpture taller than I had expected after seeing it in photos. It was sculpted by Michelangelo between 1501 and 1504 using marble which had already been worked on by Antonio Rossellino and Donatello. I think it’s fair to say that they hadn’t made much impact on the marble beyond banging it about a bit, with some complaints having been made that the marble wasn’t of a very good quality.
The sculpture was originally destined to be used on Florence Cathedral, but after it was complete it was placed outside the Palazzo Vecchio on 8 September 1504, where it remained until 1873. There was quite a show on the day that the unveiling took place as it had taken the city’s authorities four days to move it half a mile, since it weighs over six tons, so the locals must have been quite excited to see what was gracing their city’s square.
Its loss from public view was a problem, so a replica was later produced and installed at the sculpture’s previous location in 1910, which is still there today.
This is a photo of the sculpture from before 1873, when it was in its original position outside the Palazzo Vecchio, with at this time the fig leaf which was placed there to ensure that was no-one was offended.
As an artwork, it is quite graceful and it’s hard to imagine the depth of artistic ability there must have been to sculpt this, as personally I can’t imagine that I’d have either the patience and dexterity to do anything even remotely like this.