Unveiled in the heart of Florence, Italy on this day in 1504, Michelangelo’s David is one of the world's most recognizable masterpieces, a triumph of the High Renaissance.
"He alone is an artist whose hands can execute perfectly what his mind has conceived," said Michelangelo. The young artist was just 26 years old when he began work on the statue in 1501.
Commissioned by the Florentine Republic, Michelangelo carved the figure from Tuscany's Carrara marble which was rejected by others because of its flaws. He wrote in Sonnet 15, "The marble not yet carved can hold the förm/Of every thought the greatest artist has."
Inspired by the Biblical story, The 17-foot, six-ton depiction was of David before his historic triumph over Goliath, with the sling in his left hand and rock in his right. David is a breathtaking celebration of artistic rebirth, heroic physical strength, and athletic form.
Michelangelo said, "My soul can find no staircase to heaven unless it be through earth's loveliness."
In 1873, the giant treasure was moved from outside the Palazzo Vecchio into its current haven inside the Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence's great museum. A one-year restoration project was completed in 2004, just in time for David's 500th birthday.