Wednesday, December 24, 2014

David and the Quakes

 Goliath returns
It could be the name of a 60s pop band, but instead the topic of this post is Michelangelo's David and the earthquakes which are currently making Florence and Chianti tremble.
epicentre near Greve in Chianti
From Friday December 19th 2014 two earthquakes of a reasonable if not terrifying magnitude (3.5 and 4.1 on the Richter scale) and multiple tremors have been unsettling the Chianti area directly south of Florence. Our dear Greve in Chianti, the delightful market town, cultural and logistical centre of the Chianti wine-growing district, is near the epicentre.


The quakes were felt in Florence;  schools, houses and offices were evacuated. Fortunately no damage was done. 
However, authorities are concerned that Michelangelo's David at the Accademia is in jeopardy. It appears that he has weak ankles. 
After more than five hundred years of facing off Goliath, the 4.34-metre tall (14.2 ft) six-ton statue is getting tired; tiny fractures have appeared in the David's lower legs. It is feared that vibrations caused by visitors, traffic and possibly the construction of a tunnel for high-speed trains, might have taken their toll. An earthquake could be decisive: a new Goliath threatens.
Michelangelo began work on the monolithic block of Carrara marble in 1501, at the age of 26. His sculpture is technically a miracle:  the block was not only intrinsically flawed but had also been previously carved by another sculptor who had given up on the task.
Fitting a body into the shape that remained seemed impossible; Michelangelo apparently* understood that if he swivelled the hips he would succeed.
The balance in the sculpture is extraordinary: Michelangelo relied on a sculpted tree stump as support for the right leg, but the bulk of the weight bears down on those slender ankles. 
To be avoided at all costs: a replica of the David, shattered in an earthquake, on display as an installation at California State University, Fullerton

Even before the earthquakes, plans were underway to provide David with a shock-proof plinth, but now efforts will be accelerated.There is nothing like present danger for focussing the mind - and public opinion. It would be a very poor show if one of the world's most famous statues, and the symbol of Florence's defiant independence as a Republic, were to crumble. 
Meanwhile, the tremors continue...
In 2010: another replica of the David, in marble dust and fibre-glass, was briefly located on the Duomo, where the original should have been displayed.

 * according to Irving Stone, who researched intensively and extensively for his The Agony and the Ecstasy.

1 comment:

  1. At least the plinth itself has not collapsed, unlike the one supporting this other Italian Renaissance sculpture in New York, at the Met...


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