Artibus et Historiae no. 36 (XVIII)

1997, ISSN 0391-9064

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EDWARD J. OLSZEWSKI - Prophecy and Prolepsis in Donatello's Marble "David"

A reading of David as prophet given to Donatello's marble sculpture in the Bargello is based on the redundant appearance of a stone in David's sling and in Goliath's forehand. Donatello used juxtaposition of stones (or rather the same stone twice) as a prolepsis whereby David holds the loaded sling in the
present tense while envisioning the future placement of its stone in the head of Goliath positioned below. This conforms with the scriptural account where David responds to Goliath in the future tense as he foretells what he will do to the Philistine giant. When combined with stylistic arguments and a re-reading of the archival records, this interpretation concludes that Donatello's sculpture must date from 1412 rather than 1408, and that it was never intended for a buttress of the Florentine Duomo, but was originally meant to be placed in the Palazzo Vecchio where it was installed in 1416.

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