Bernini’s David

What is it?

A sculpture of David by the Italian Baroque sculptor, architect and painter, Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It was produced between 1623 – 24, whilst Bernini was in his mid-twenties. It is currently located at the Borghese Museum in Rome, along with three of Bernini’s other similarly extraordinary works.

What do we think?

In contrast to Michelangelo’s earlier David, which depicts him prior to his battle with Goliath, with sling draped over his shoulder and body relaxed, Bernini chose to capture David at the moment of extreme action. His brow is furrowed with concentration, sling stretched to its limit, body twisted and ready to release the fated stone.

As only Bernini knew how, David’s body is unmistakably one of a simple farmer, well muscled though somehow still frail: we can almost see the calluses on his fingers from working the fields. His furrowed brow speaks of determination but also self-doubt, the fierce concentration on his face clear as he pushes away these doubts and focusses on the seemingly impossible task at hand. And his body, twisted back to stretch out the sling, is on the verge of athletic explosion.

It can be argued that the differences in Michelangelo’s and Bernini’s Davids can be attributed to the contrast between the Renaissance focus on classical stasis and the Baroque interest in dynamic movement. But we feel that the quality depicted in Bernini’s statue is more personal – here is a work that does not celebrate the godliness of David but his humanity.

4 thoughts on “Bernini’s David

Add yours

  1. I like that Bernini chose to include the harp at David’s feet, recognising the fact that he was a artist and musician, before being a warrior.

  2. I completely disagree – do you know about the impact of Michelangelo’s David for the inhabitants of Florence, Italy, and why he decided to sculpture a relaxed but powerful young man? Michelangelo’s statement is very personal – but one has to look at the larger picture to understand this very personal statement.

    1. Hi Andreas, thanks for your comment. Can you extrapolate? What is the larger picture we have to understand in order to appreciate Michelangelo’s personal statement?

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