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Comparative Analysis of David by Michelangelo and Four Crowned Saints by Nanni Di Banco

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The Renaissance period in art history is marked by the revitalization of Classical approaches to rationalizing one’s surroundings and gaining an understanding of the world through observations of nature and the laws that define it. Artists during this time shifted from lifeless, symbolic pieces to pushing the limits of reaching realistic, anatomically correct figures. Two pieces that exemplify the endeavor of studying the human form are Nanni Di Banco’s Four Crowned Saints, and Michelangelo’s David. Although both are marble pieces, Di Banco’s series of statues in a niche makes use of relative positioning, posture, and accentuation of fabric to bring to life an unheard dialogue by the figures. On the other hand, Michelangelo imbues his free-standing nude statue with an intense gaze, a defined physique, and tense muscles on a massive scale to create an expression of cautious anxiety on the heroic figure as David prepares mentally for his battle with Goliath. By different techniques, both Florentine artists create marble masterpieces that mimic the human form and represent the pride and values of civic duty in Florence.

The Four Crowned Saints is a series of marble statues that are placed in a semi-circle within a niche of the Or San Michele. These men are Christian sculptors who were executed for refusing King Diocletian’s request for a statue of a pagan deity. Banco’s choice in this formation creates a natural mood of a serious conversation, possibly about the consequences for upholding their beliefs. Drawing from Roman art, the main four figures are adorned by toga like robes that fold and drape over them. The robe of the figure left of center mimics the effect of natural clothing as it seems to pull while the man’s knee protrudes forward as he takes a relaxed, contrapposto, stance. With each statue having distinct facial features, Di Banco creates four men who stand beside their faith.

Michelangelo’s David is a free standing, 17′ x 6.5′, nude marble interpretation of the biblical character, King David. Unlike prior portrayals of King David being victorious after the battle, Michelangelo chooses to depict the combatant in the midst of preparing mentally before striking. Instead of a taking a triumphant pose, David strikes a dynamic yet balanced, contrapposto, pose that exudes tension. Michelangelo makes the muscles of the defined figure ripple and flex as David holds up his rock up to his chest in nervous anticipation. The statue’s gaze does not seem to meet the viewer, rather David seems to focus on an unseen presence of Goliath approaching. David exudes a psychological unease as his muscles are tense and grips are tight despite the relaxed body language. Michelangelo made the statue to be 17 feet tall, expecting it to display from the top of the Duomo. Towering instead in the public Plaza, the grand statue showcases an athletic beauty of ideal anatomical proportions except for the large hands to enforce the strength of the figure.

Both artists draw inspiration from Classical elements for their marble work. Di Banco’s study of Roman portraits give way for the individual personalities and look of each saint and Michelangelo borrows the practice of male nudity and powerful stances of rulers. Both works also symbolize qualities of Florentine civic pride. The Four Crowned Saints showcase the unwavering faith even when met by opposing authorities and David represents the history of the Florence state and its people defending their freedom and liberties from invading states.

Each artist manipulates the perception of the viewers’ differently by creating a mood through positioning or directing the eye. Di Banco draws the viewer into a vision of the event as the semicircle position causes the center figures to recede into the niche, forcing the audience to step forward to glimpse into the cavity and involving themselves in the dialogue. On the other hand, the distant gaze of the David ostracizes the watcher and forces them to view his actions as spectators.

Michelangelo and Nanni Di Banco approach the target of recreating a depiction of the natural world by reflecting on Classical Roman culture as a reference point. Di Banco demonstrates control over the marble and was able to form draping robes that seem to cling to the body. The natural positioning as a group and posture of the individual statues create the illusion of a dialogue being spoken between the figures. Michelangelo seeks out to showcase his understanding of the human anatomy from minute studies and his ability to deliver a precise, lifelike athletic aesthetic.

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Comparative Analysis Of David By Michelangelo And Four Crowned Saints By Nanni Di Banco. (2021, Jun 09). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 6, 2021, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/comparative-analysis-of-david-by-michelangelo-and-four-crowned-saints-by-nanni-di-banco/
“Comparative Analysis Of David By Michelangelo And Four Crowned Saints By Nanni Di Banco.” GradesFixer, 09 Jun. 2021, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/comparative-analysis-of-david-by-michelangelo-and-four-crowned-saints-by-nanni-di-banco/
Comparative Analysis Of David By Michelangelo And Four Crowned Saints By Nanni Di Banco. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/comparative-analysis-of-david-by-michelangelo-and-four-crowned-saints-by-nanni-di-banco/> [Accessed 6 Dec. 2021].
Comparative Analysis Of David By Michelangelo And Four Crowned Saints By Nanni Di Banco [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Jun 09 [cited 2021 Dec 6]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/comparative-analysis-of-david-by-michelangelo-and-four-crowned-saints-by-nanni-di-banco/
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