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  #1  
Old 07-19-2003, 09:13 PM
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Happy 500, David

It's time to bring back our traditional figurative icon, Michelangelo’s David, for another comment. Seems he turns 500 next August, and it’s time for a centennial bath. The New York Times, in its new colloquial mode, had a front-page article two weeks ago reviewing one of the art-hysterical controversies du-jure. David is to be cleaned for his 500th birthday, and the art-hysterical world is up in arms as to whether he will be bathed or dry-cleaned.

The original proposal, by a group of scientists, is to soak him in poultices to dissolve a dusting of copper sulfate, a powdered form of Plaster of Paris, but outsiders in the process say a dry brushing is preferred. The scientific committee says brushing is mechanical and will cause more harm, besides not removing the potentially cancerous dust.

One of the newly-revealed “secrets” in the affair is that he was given a bath about 1811 and then coated with wax. (He still was outside, over 300 years in the Florentine wind and rain.)

Thirty years later, in the 1840's, authorities decided (probably) that the wax was attracting much too much dust and discoloration, and he was given a stronger scrubbing, with hydrochloric acid this time (dilute, I assume) to remove the wax. He remained in the wind and rain another thirty years, until he finally was brought indoors in the 1870's.

Historical context is that Italy was a group of small provinces and city-states until unification into a modern nation-state in the 1870's, about the same time as Germany, which had a similar history.

So much for the sanctity of art, even the best, and community care. Events often overrule the best of possibilities and of intentions.

Last edited by fritchie : 07-19-2003 at 09:16 PM.
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Old 07-21-2003, 04:43 AM
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I suggest a warm bath, with bubbles, and a glass of Merlot.

Warning: Spilling the wine could cause a pink discolouration of the bath tub.
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Old 07-28-2003, 05:06 AM
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They'll use destilled water now.

The acid solution was 50% if I remember correctly. It did not only remove the wax but also Michelangelo's own patina/protection so that the original coloring was lost forever.
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Old 07-28-2003, 07:29 AM
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Thank you lowpoly. I had thought that my flipanncy may have killed a good thread.

I'm guessing that David was modelled off a maquette (or two)... did any survive?

I'm woefully ignorant of it. Partly because it simply does not rock my boat.
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Old 07-29-2003, 08:50 AM
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499 (almost)and counting

Your reaction gave folks at the Figuratively Speaking[ conference in NJ last weekend a good laugh, Araich. I used this thread as example of loose, "fun" but relevant conversation on the Community. I presented the original post, and when Russ brought it up, there was immediate laughter. Actually, I think it was the cartoon that got them, because text was barely readable from the audience’s position.

I also saw a 50% figure on acid concentration in a follow-up. People may not know that marble can be patinated deliberately. I remember reading years ago that St. Gaudens (if he was the artist - I’m embarrassed that I’m not sure) patinated Lincoln’s figure in the Washington memorial after seeing it in place. The major source of light was from the front opening, far below Lincoln’s face, and shadows were awkward. Skylights also were added by the architect to give more overhead light.

Last edited by fritchie : 07-29-2003 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 07-29-2003, 06:14 PM
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Oh God. I'm such an idiot....

[hangs head in shame]
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Old 07-30-2003, 09:43 PM
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Maquette for David

Araich - I forgot this part of your earlier post. There’s an interesting episode about a maquette for David from about 8 - 10 years ago. I hope someone can provide an update. About that time, a plaster of Paris model of David, about 25 - 28 inches tall, as I remember, came to light and was judged by a Michelangelo expert to be genuine.

An appraisal quickly came in at $25 million, but within a year some investigative reporter discovered that the art historian who had authenticated the piece had been given a percentage ownership - about 5%, I believe. A book had been published comparing the maquette and final piece, and also giving a history of the known maquette.

It seems Michelangelo had indeed presented the Florence City Council with a maquette before being given the commission, and the maquette had remained in possession of the Medici family for 100 - 200 years before being damaged in a fire and eventually disappearing. The modern maquette, which looked like a plaster cast of one of those modeled pieces made of tiny clay or wax pellets, also showed fire damage. I believe it was said to have been discovered in the Canary Islands.

I found the maquette very convincing, from the presentation in this book. It looks very much like the final marble, but with enough differences that it believably could have been done before the marble, and it was VERY good. But the financial taint took the whole story out of the media.
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Old 07-30-2003, 10:11 PM
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http://search.barnesandnoble.com/boo...=9780896597617
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Old 07-30-2003, 10:45 PM
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David Maquette

Thanks, lowpoly. That is the book, with a photo of the maquette, missing partial legs and other extremities; I had forgotten that. Does anyone know what became of the maquette, or the contemporary art-historical viewpoint on authenticity?
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Old 07-30-2003, 11:03 PM
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I think it went directly back to the bank safe where it came from. Hartt was the only one who was allowed to see it.
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