Exploring the History of Medicine, Part 28: Florence, Part 8

February 1, 2023


 The Accademia Gallery

The Accademia Gallery is the affiliated art museum of the Florence Academy of Fine Arts.

It houses several sculptures by Michelangelo and Florentine Renaissance paintings from the 13th to the 16th century.

Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) was born in Florence and was an Italian Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect, and poet.

He left behind numerous outstanding works of art and, due to his versatility, he is often referred to as the "Renaissance Man," or “Universal Genius” just like Leonardo da Vinci.

Michelangelo was 23 years younger than Leonardo and eight years older than Raphael.

These three men are named the "Three Great Masters of the Renaissance."

While Michelangelo himself downplayed painting, he created two highly influential frescoes that left a profound impact on the Western art world.

These are the ceiling fresco "The Genesis; The Creation of Adam" and the altar wall painting "The Last Judgment," both located in the Sistine Chapel of the San Pietro Cathedral in Vatican City.

On the other hand, sculpture held the greatest importance for Michelangelo, and his most famous masterpiece is the "Pieta" (the Virgin Mary holding the crucified Jesus Christ in her arms) at the San Pietro Cathedral and the “Statue of Davide” at the Accademia Gallery.

The statue of Davide was created by Michelangelo over a period of three years upon the commission of the Florentine citizens who had expelled the Medici family, specifically Piero II , a son of Lorenzo de' Medici.

Davide is a hero who appears in the Old Testament's "Book of Samuel" and lived around 1000 BC.

The English male name "David" is derived from his name “Davide.”

By the way, the Old Testament is a scripture of Judaism and Christianity, containing stories such as "The Creation of the World" and "Noah's Ark."

Saul, the first king of Israel, betrayed God's command.

The boy Davide, a shepherd, caught God's attention as the candidate for next king of Israel.

Davide was handsome and skilled in playing the harp, but he was also a brave warrior.

The Israelites led by Saul repeatedly fought against the Philistines.

When Davide happened to visit the battlefield, he was provoked by Goliath, the strongest giant warrior of the Philistines.

Davide stood before Saul with only a shepherd's staff and a bag of stones.

Davide threw a stone towards the charging Goliath, and it hit him in the forehead, causing Goliath to fall face down.

Davide pulled out Goliath's sword and cut off his head.

Witnessing this, the Philistine army fell into disarray, and the Israelite army emerged victorious.

Davide continued to play a crucial role in saving the nation and eventually became the second king of Israel.

He ruled the country for several decades.

His descendant, Joseph of Nazareth, was born about a thousand years later.

Joseph's wife, Mary, gave birth to Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, Davide's birthplace.

Since the 16th century, King Davide has been depicted on French and English playing cards as the King of Spades ().

Indeed, he is often portrayed holding the symbol of the harp.

The monumental marble statue, standing at 5.2 meters tall, depicts Davide aiming to throw a stone at the giant Goliath.

The muscles are well-defined, veins are visible, and the sculpture exudes tension.

His gaze is focused, his lips firmly closed, and his expression is rational.

The statue of a young boy confronting a giant represents both the republic that overthrows dictatorship and the symbol of Florence, a small state standing against surrounding countries.

Davide, being Jewish, should have been circumcised, but Michelangelo portrayed him with a foreskin.

This has sparked ongoing debates about whether this sculpture can be considered based on biblical accounts.

Additionally, Davide's testicles hang lower on the left side compared to the right.

This is consistent with the statistical fact that "more than half of men have the left testicle hanging lower than the right.”

Male readers! Please confirm this by looking in the mirror.