David

Plaster Cast
1428-1430 (sculpted), ca. 1885 (cast)
David thumbnail 1
David thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Cast Courts, Room 46b, The Weston Cast Court
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The bronze statue of the young hero David, with the head of the slain giant Goliath at his feet, of which this is a plaster copy, was commissioned from Donatello by Cosimo de’Medici in about 1430. It was the first known free-standing nude statue produced since classical times. For the Florentines, it stood as an allegory of civic virtues triumphing over brutality, and was as celebrated in the 19th century as it is today.

The cast is displayed in one of the two magnificent Cast Courts at the V&A. Since they were first opened in 1873, these galleries have displayed reproductions of some of the most significant monuments of medieval and Renaissance Europe. In these galleries one can view plaster casts of sculptures from Renaissance Italy, notably some of the masterpieces produced by Donatello, Luca della Robbia and Michelangelo.
The sculptures are faithful copies of the originals. They were made in the 19th century, when the vogue for replicated works of art was at its height. Museum visitors at that time generally had little opportunity to travel abroad, and illustrated art books were costly. These superb casts could afford people a rare glimpse of the original sculptures, even if they could not visit Florence or Rome. Artists and designers then and now could likewise sketch and learn from them. The painted surfaces of these reproductions often mirror the original stone or bronze, and the casts seem convincingly monumental. But they are made of plaster, a relatively fragile material.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Plaster cast painted
Brief Description
Plaster Cast, painted plaster, after the bronze original of David, in the Museo Nationale (Bargello), Florence, by Donatello, Italy (Florence), 1428-30, cast probably in Florence, ca. 1885
Dimensions
  • Height: 168cm
Gallery Label
Donatello’s bronze statue of David, with the head of Goliath at his feet, was commissioned by Cosimo de’ Medici in about 1430. It was the first known free-standing nude statue produced since classical times. The biblical hero David was a symbol of freedom for the Florentine Republic. Copies of later sculptures of David by Michelangelo and Verrocchio can be seen nearby.(2014)
Credit line
Given by the Rt. Hon. Sir J. Savile Lumley
Object history
Given by the Rt. Hon. Sir J. Savile Lumley, Ambassador to Rome, in 1885.
Subjects depicted
Literary ReferenceDavid and Goliath
Summary
The bronze statue of the young hero David, with the head of the slain giant Goliath at his feet, of which this is a plaster copy, was commissioned from Donatello by Cosimo de’Medici in about 1430. It was the first known free-standing nude statue produced since classical times. For the Florentines, it stood as an allegory of civic virtues triumphing over brutality, and was as celebrated in the 19th century as it is today.



The cast is displayed in one of the two magnificent Cast Courts at the V&A. Since they were first opened in 1873, these galleries have displayed reproductions of some of the most significant monuments of medieval and Renaissance Europe. In these galleries one can view plaster casts of sculptures from Renaissance Italy, notably some of the masterpieces produced by Donatello, Luca della Robbia and Michelangelo.

The sculptures are faithful copies of the originals. They were made in the 19th century, when the vogue for replicated works of art was at its height. Museum visitors at that time generally had little opportunity to travel abroad, and illustrated art books were costly. These superb casts could afford people a rare glimpse of the original sculptures, even if they could not visit Florence or Rome. Artists and designers then and now could likewise sketch and learn from them. The painted surfaces of these reproductions often mirror the original stone or bronze, and the casts seem convincingly monumental. But they are made of plaster, a relatively fragile material.

Collection
Accession Number
REPRO.1885-197

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdJune 27, 2000
Record URL