Michelangelo's David on the Duomo Roof

iStock.com/Daniel Chetroni
iStock.com/Daniel Chetroni

A version of this story originally appeared on The History Blog.

Michelangelo's iconic sculpture of David now stands in the Accademia Gallery in Florence, but that's not where it was originally supposed to go. Before it was moved to the Accademia in 1873, it stood guard outside the Palazzo della Signoria, Florence's city hall, for 370 years—but even that wasn't where it was first meant to be.

David’s history actually begins a hundred years before Michelangelo picked up the chisel. It was commissioned by the Overseers of the Office of Works (the Operai) of the Duomo, Florence's cathedral church, as one of a dozen sculptures of the Old Testament prophets which would adorn the roofline of the east side of the cathedral. Donatello made a Joshua out of terracotta for this project in 1410 (Joshua disappeared in the 18th century and has been lost ever since).

It wasn't until 1464 that the organization commissioned a David sculpture from Agostino di Duccio, a student of Donatello's. They gave him a massive block of Carrara marble, but he made little progress succeeding only in some rough blocking of the legs, torso and drapery before he gave up. Ten years later, another student of Donatello's, Antonio Rossellino, was given the commission. Daunted by Agostino's previous work and the many imperfections in the marble block that might prove fatal to the structure of so large a statue, Rossellino couldn't hack it either—so the huge block of marble just sat on its side in the yard of the cathedral workshop, exposed to the elements for another 25 years.

Finally, in August of 1501, the Operai gave the job to the 26-year-old Michelangelo. It took him just over 2 years to finish the 17-foot-tall statue. It was immediately recognized as a masterpiece, but now there was a whole new set of issues to wrestle over: How were they supposed to hoist 17 feet and 6.4 tons of marble up to the cathedral roof? Also, given that the dozen Biblical figures plan never actually came to fruition, was the roof of the Duomo really the best place for this symbol of the Florentine Republic and its scrappy struggle against the tyrants who had sought to conquer it? Didn't a sculpture of such perfection deserve to be seen close up in all its detail, not from 80 meters (262 feet) below?

The Operai called a meeting in January 1504 of 30 Florentine luminaries and illustrious artists, among them Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, Andrea della Robbia, and Perugino, to determine where the David should be placed. Botticelli thought it should go somewhere on or around the cathedral, but most everyone else thought it should go somewhere in the Piazza della Signoria. The debate continued to rage for months, until finally the Operai decided on the spot in front of the entrance to the Palazzo della Signoria. It took 40 men four days to move the David, suspended from ropes inside a wooden cage pulled along on greased beams, half a mile from the courtyard where it was carved to its new home in Piazza della Signoria. There, David was placed with his powerful glare facing Florence's enemies in Rome.

Alas, no wooden cage or greased beams were used, but in November 2010, a fiberglass cast of the David was piled onto the back of a pickup, driven to the Duomo, and hoisted up to the buttress the original was meant to adorn. He seems quite teeny comparatively, but the extra-large proportions of his right hand and head make a lot more sense when you're looking up at him from such a distance.

The installation was the inaugural event of the Florens 2010 forum. Over the course of the week, fiberglass David was moved to the other locations proposed during the 1504 debate, like the Duomo's sagrato (the consecrated area in front of the cathedral) and the piazza next to the Duomo's workshop where Michelangelo worked on the sculpture.

You can see great footage of fiberglass David's Duomo adventure in this news story (in Italian):

A version of this story originally appeared on The History Blog.

Art

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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Find That Perfect Paint Color With This Real-Life Photoshop Eyedropper Tool

Nix Sensor
Nix Sensor

If you're looking to spruce up the interior design of your home or just need a specific shade of paint for your latest craft project, you’re going to love the precision that comes with the Nix Mini 2 Color Sensor. Think of it like your own real-life Photoshop eyedropper tool that works to identify specific colors and then recommends the exact brand of paint that replicates it. And this weekend, you can get one for 30 percent off.

The Nix Mini 2 Color Sensor comes pre-calibrated right out of the box, so all you have to really do is point it at the color you want and the device will scan it and come up with potential paint matches from brands like Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams. The Nix works through a free app on your phone for even easier access to the paint products you need.

There are obvious ways a tool like Nix Mini 2 Color Sensor might be helpful for a professional who works with color, but it can be surprisingly handy for everyday folks as well. If you spot a really eye-catching shade of blue on the side of a package or on a friend's couch, you can instantly scan it, store the information, and find the exact paint tone next time you want to redo your bedroom.

The opportunities are endless with the Nix Mini 2 Color Sensor, and you can get yours through September 20 for only $70.

Nix Mini Color Sensor V2 - $69.99

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