The artworks I have selected for the interpretation are engravings of Michelangelo’s and Bernini’s David. This brief essay draws the comparison between these two works of art and analyses how they were a popular theme and aesthetics of the great Greek Art according to the Renaissance and Baroque movements.
Michelangelo’s David: An Epitome of Individualism
The finished statue of Michelangelo’s David as a standing heroic male nude is a High Renaissance interpretation of a great ancient Greek theme as it separates the expressions and thoughts of David and depicts the potential of man as a youthful heroic male. David’s sculpture Michelangelo carved depicts individualism (a characteristic of the Renaissance Art Movement in Italy) through his confident pose as compared to the Middle Ages’ Christian humility. The theme of the engraving narrates the biblical story of how David beat the Philistine Giant Goliath with pebbles and a sling in combat symbolizes how a man can accomplish anything in the world. (Sanders, 2020)
Michelangelo’s David: A Linear Perspective to Allegory
The statue is deliberately carved with a linear perspective to emphasize the depth to depict Renaissance art in it. David’s tense look, furrowed brows, tautness in neck muscles, stretched tendons in the muscles of nose and lips, and focused eyes on something at the distance show that David is ready for the fight. This meticulous detailing clears the air that David is not relaxed after the victory rather he is preparing for it. Furthermore, the calm standing pose with David sling causally put over his left shoulder as a “contrapposto-a pose where shoulders and hips rest at opposite angles” on the surface is a High Renaissance Art, whereas the intense expressions of the sculpture are more political and complex emphasizing the use of Allegory to symbolize Florence is not afraid of anyone (Summers, 1977). Michelangelo’s art of combining intense reflective expressions with a simple and calm standing position emphasizes the mental state of David more than his physical nature and is deliberately sculpted to capture the struggle between the fight and the readiness for combat to the death.
Bernini’s David: A Symbol of Humanism
Bernini’s David about to throw a pebble is carved in Baroque style to symbolize the Humanism- early Renaissance movement. Bernini’s sculpture of David is fraught with tension and intense emotions to accomplish an unseen hitherto level of life-like action. (Sanders, 2020) Furthermore, the diagonal lines in Bernini’s David which suggest energy, movement, and drama are different from Michelangelo’s pyramid-like stable shape which depicts immobility.
Bernini’s David: A Symbol of Renaissance’s Realism
Bernini’s David symbolizes an early Renaissance movement- Realism in the engraving as Baroque art not just relates with the audience physically but also in our minds. However, Michelangelo’s David does not inspire this physical reaction and thus remains separate from the audience (Sanders, 2020). Bernini’s God depicts the essence of the Renaissance that the path of God was through the mind not only through the physical body symbolizes Renaissance’s humanism. The path to God thus in Bernini’s Baroque style of David is more emotional, direct, and relates to the embattled position of God, Christ, and Church.
Sanders, K. (2020). Donatello, Michelangelo, and Bernini: Their Understanding of Antiquity and its Influence on the Representation of David.
Summers, D. (1977). Contrapposto: style and meaning in renaissance art. The Art Bulletin, 59(3), 336-361.