Michelangelo Checks In to Washington

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Poster for the exhibition of Michelangelo's David-Apollo

On our recent trip to Italy, we saw many of Michelangelo's achievements in scultpture, architecture, and painting. The Pieta, David, The Holy Family, the Sistine Chapel Ceiling, The Last Judgement, and St. Peter's Dome, each one magnificent, numbered among them. Then, in early December it was announced that Michelangelo's unfinished David-Apollo sculpture would go on display for a limited time at the National Gallery of Art. Here was an opportunity to insepect another of Michelangelo's works!

David-Apollo is on loan from the Bargello musuem in Florence. (We did not get to the Bargello.) It is an unfinished sculpture, although it is more complete that the series of unfinished Captive sculptures displayed at the Galleria Accademia. Michelangelo began work on David-Apollo for the Medici-appointed governor of Florence about 1525, but when he left Florence for Rome in 1534, the sculpture remaiend unfinished.

No one knows if the figure was meant to be a sculture of Apollo or of David. Giorgio Vasari descirbed it as Apollo, but a contemporary inventory of the Medici collections described it as David. Maybe Michelangelo started it as one and changed his mind, especially given the politcal climate of the time. (The fall of the Florentine republic.) The figure is clearly more instrospective that the famous David although his posture is somewhat similar. (It is much smaller than the colossal David.) His eyes are closed as if in reverie, not focused on an opponent. He seems to be drawing an arrow out of a quiver (Apollo), or maybe slinging his slingshot over his back (David). Was the unfinished mound under his right foot meant to be a rock or Goliath's head? In any case, he is struggling to get out of his marble bounds, just like the Captive sculptures. One can see the chisel marks where Michelangelo carved.

Unfortunately, the National Gallery is not permitting photography of David-Apollo. But, unlike the Italian museums, the National Gallery permits photography of its permanet collection. I spent additional time visiting the Bellinis, Botticellis, Titians, Canalettos, and the single Leonardo da Vinci on regular display, all taking on new meaning from our recent trip.

spocklogic says:
Some of the unfinished Michelangelo sculptures are quite fascinating. He believed that the figure was already there and what he did was to release it. Sort of an interesting viewpoint and you really get a sense of it when looking at his unfinished pieces. Good you had this opportunity on the heels of your Italian adventure last year.
Posted on: Jan 24, 2013
Andy99 says:
Yes, I have earlier blog entries on the Edward Hopper and the Treasures of Afghanistan exhibits.
Posted on: Jan 17, 2013
Zagnut66 says:
I just saw the Roy Lichtenstein exhibit in the East Gallery as well as the Michelangelo David - Apollo. The National Gallery is my favorite place in D.C., there is always something new to explore. Plus it's free!
Posted on: Jan 17, 2013
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