The Dirt on David

The Dirt on David

Sunday, June 22, 2003
| 1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49

Michelangelo’s magnificent David, now in a museum in Florence, once stood in a public square for over 350 years. Although moved to more sheltered quarters, there’s a lot of dirt on David, and specialists have been called in to remove it. It’s a reminder that perhaps we, too, need a strong moral and spiritual scrubbing. 

There’s dirt on David and it’s about to come off.

After all, he hasn’t had a bath in 130 years.

Michelangelo’s world-famous sculpture of David is getting a serious scrubbing these days, courtesy of a group of restorers at the statue’s museum-home in Florence, Italy. These cleaners are approaching their work with the care of generals planning a major battle, using ultraviolet light to expose surface chemical deposits, and photographic mapping to show every crack, chip and pockmark. They started their work last December, and should be finished any day now, in plenty of time for David’s 500th birthday in the year 2004.

So, why is David such a mess?

The masterpiece is laden with deposits of dirt and grime from the years he had to stand out-of-doors, 24/7, exposed to billowing smoke and humid weather. He also had to endure lightning strikes and excitable city-dwellers: In 1527, rioters broke off his left arm, the one that holds his sling.

Michelangelo spent three years carving the statue...

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