What's Real Anyway
What you will see will see:
The east doors of the St. John Baptistery are 17 feet tall, 3 ton, ten-paneled, bronze works of art. They were created in the mid 15th century by Lorenzo Ghiberti who had won a competition to create the less impressive north doors of the same building. The east doors display in relief sculpture, 10 scenes from the Old Testament from Adam to Solomon, as well as 24 protruding busts of prophets (with one bust a self-portrait of the artist). Ghiberti was inspired by the work of Donatello in creating these doors which he left simply titled as; the east doors. But another turtle, Michaelangelo, found inspiration from Ghiberti's work and gave them the name: "Gates of Paradise". The bottom left panel is a depiction of David conquering Goliath. Donatello had created a couple of sculptures of David, both of which can be seen at the Museo Nazionale del Bargelo here in Florence. Michaelangelo would then later create the most famous "David" and perhaps the most famous sculpture in the world. We will see that sculpture at the end of our walk in the Piazza della Signoria.
What you won't see:
You won't see the original sculptures, at least not on this walk. Both pieces have been moved indoors for their protection from the elements and flying furniture. The Gates of Paradise were moved into the Duomo Museum in 1990 and David was moved into the Academia Museum after a bench thrown out of a window during a riot, knocked his left arm off in the 19th century. You will see replicas, but these fakes do hold one advantage over the originals. They are located in the original and therefore intended location. When you view the originals, you will have to be content to see the art from a crowd, roped off, behind glass, from a distance, and out of the environment of its intended audience. The Gates of Paradise located on the east side of the baptistery served as a focal point for the entire Renaissance. Beyond their impact on the world of art, they provided the stories of the Bible to a populace that was unable to read them for themselves. Even if they were literate, Bibles were scarce, expensive, and not available in Italian. The doors were a religious focal point for the people of Florence. The fake statue of David stands guard where the original was placed just a few feet from where Savonarola tried to rid the city of art and where the city rid themselves of Savonarola. You don't have to see the originals in order to put yourself in the shoes of the original audience and learn something "off the wall".
Beyond the Bricks:
Is it just me or is there something off about Michaelangelo's David? The story of David and Goliath is one where a small young boy with a sling was able to slay a giant because he had faith in God. To this day, referring to a David and Goliath situation means something small and unlikely overcoming something large and powerful. The David carved by Michaelangelo is 18 feet tall and rippling with muscles. Other than having a youthful face, this more resembles Goliath than David. Well.. that's just my thought... I can get past it and enjoy art for art's sake.