The Three Davids

3D Print and learn about the three iconic sculptures by Donatello, Michelangelo and Bernini depicting the biblical hero David

By Scan The World

3D print of a Remixed version of Michelangelo's David by Devin MonteScan The World

For this educational article we will be referencing three sculptures of David, which you can download and 3D print:

Dontatello's David (Download here)
Michelangelo's David - (Download here)
Bernini's David - (Download here)  

David with the Head of Goliath (1620/1622) by Simon VouetMusei di Strada Nuova

King David


King David of Israel was a prominent figure in Abrahamic religions. David has been portrayed in a myriad of ways in the arts. From Donatello to Michelangelo and Bernini each statue was crafted at different periods in Italy and, because of their popularity, are considered now as popular tourist attractions. The three statues may have all been crafted Italy, but each remain vastly different, displaying different themes and influences from the time period they were exhibited in. Let’s take a dive into the 3 statues crafted by experts in their own field.  

David, Donatello. 2nd View by Scan the WorldScan The World

Donatello's David (1430-1440)

Born in Florence, 1386, Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi, known as Donatello was a famous Italian artist. Known as one of the greatest artistic figures of the Renaissance period, Donatello is considered as a master sculptor, noted as experimenting with marble, bronze, stone, wood, clay and many other materials.  

David, Donatello. 3rd View by Scan the WorldScan The World

Donatello’s most famous work is in fact his expertly crafted bronze statue of David. Unveiled in the 1440’s, Donatello’s statue of David features a freestanding nude sculpture of the King of Israel. David is displayed as almost completely nude except for his boots and a hat topped with a laurel. According to historians, said sculpture is the first nude sculpture made since antiquity. 

The sculpture displays David in a heroic pose, foot above the severed head of Goliath moments after their famed battle.    

David, Donatello by Scan the WorldScan The World

Donatello’s statue of David has been an interesting topic of conversation. Many have noted subtle themes and influences personified in this sculpture. David is displayed elegantly, radiating confidence in his posture and body with an effeminate disposition. During this period, a notable theme displayed in Renaissance art was “admiration of self-worth.” Furthermore, Donatello's depiction of David is realistic, a reference to the Renaissance period and how naturalism was idealised.

Though no reference of it at the time of display, there has been some controversy associated with Donatello’s statue. Some experts suggest that the sexual connotations of Goliath's feathered helmet were deemed as a controversial topic. Others have suggested Donatello’s own sexuality as inspiration, essentially displayed through his own work. The statue was however displayed in the town hall of Florence, suggesting it may not have been as controversial as some deem it to be.  

David, Donatello. 3rd View by Scan the WorldScan The World

Donatello used various types of chisels to shapeshift the bronze marble as the core material. Donatello’s David statue went through restoration between 2007-2008 and is still widely considered as one of the most important pieces of art to date.  

David, Michelangelo by Scan the WorldScan The World

Michelangelo's David (1501–1504)

Regarded as one of the greatest artists of all time, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, best known as Michelangelo was born March 6th, 1475. A fellow Florentine, Michelangelo was an architect, sculptor, poet, and painter during the High Renaissance period. Michelangelo has many famous pieces of art: BacchusPietàand The Creation of Adam to name a few. But here, we’ll be looking at Michelangelo’s depiction of David.  

Michelangelo’s sculpture of David is huge, standing at an impressive 17-foot-tall and 12,000 pounds. Unlike other popular portrayals of David, Michelangelo’s statue does not include the head of Goliath. Some say the statue depicts moments before the battle, in which a slingshot is displayed over his shoulder. Michelangelo’s depiction of David is heroic: he stands tall, muscular in physique, unphased by the giant that stands before him and confident in victory. Others suggest it being moments after battle, as David is argued to be gazing at the Philistine army.  

Head of David by Scan the WorldScan The World

Michelangelo used various chisels, scrapers and rasps while constructing his sculptures. Considered among one of the most famous statues in the world, Michelangelo’s David remains in Italy, Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze as a popular tourist attraction.    

David, Michelangelo by Scan the WorldScan The World

As is with Donatello’s statue, Michelangelo displays various themes and influences too. At glance, an ancient Greek heroic theme is noticeable. Michelangelo presents David as youthful and confident, similar to the portrayals of Greek Gods. Among the 3 statues, Michelangelo’s David is indeed considered as the most perfect heroic representation of David.

David is also in a contrapposto pose, in which the subject poses leaning one leg. Said pose causes subjects to lean their body in a way in which the figure curves and is essentially presented in an elegant way. This also points back to the Hellenistic period, where sculptures started to imply movement. Previously, statues like Greek Kouroi or Egyptian Figures looked much more static, alluding to them being used for funerary purposes.     

David, Bernini by Scan the WorldScan The World

Bernini's David (1623-24)

Born in Naples, 7th of December 1598, Gian Lorenzo Bernini was an Italian sculptor and widely influential figure in the world of architecture. Considered as the leader of Baroque sculpture, Bernini has crafted many famous pieces, including: The Rape of ProserpinaApollo & Daphne and The Ecstacy of Saint Teresa. Bernini was also involved in the development of many buildings, and also expressed his creativity via painting. As is with the previous masters, Bernini proved to be a versatile, talented artist.  

Bernini’s marble sculpture of David is life size, standing at 170cm tall. The subject of the sculpture is vastly different from Donatello and Michelangelo. Instead of being displayed in a pose or stance, David is displayed in combat, twisting his body in preparation to throw a rock at Goliath. Bernini’s David is similar in depiction to Michelangelo’s sculptor, as David is displayed muscular and athletic in physique. Unlike the other sculptors mentioned however, Bernini’s David appears more mature in comparison to the more youthful depictions from Michelangelo and Donatello.    

A closer look at the sculptor reveals armour laid below David’s feet. This is a reference to the biblical text in which David chose to remove his armour in order to move his body with fewer restrictions. Some have argued that this is a display in confidence in himself, while others have referred to this as a trust in God.  

Costanza Bonarelli by Jonathan BeckScan The World

Bernini is known to take influence directly from life, noticeable in his portrait bust of Costanza Bonarelli. It is also noticeable in his sculptor of David as some have suggested that the accurate facial expression used may in fact be from a self-portrait. Bernini’s sculpture of David resides in Galleria Borghese Rome, and much like the other sculptors is a popular touristic attraction.     

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Credits: Story

Text contributed by Atilla Bertiz

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