The Crystalline Venus of the Cyclades

David

Donatello

Bronze

Bargello, Florence

Kenneth Clark, who points out that "how pleasure in the human body once more became a permissible subject of art is the unexplained miracle of the Italian Renaissance" (53), cites as an example this bronze statue of the Old testament figure whom medieval art generally had depicted as an "old man, bearded and crowned, playing on the harp — the way he appears, for example, on the right panel of Rossetti's Llandalf Cathedral triptych. David embodies two innovations: first, it depicts the young, beautiful David and second, it presents him "a young Dionysos, with dreamy smile and flexible pose" (54). This work had great influence on both Donatello's contemporaries and late-Victorian sculptors, like Sir Alfred Gilbert and Frederick Lord Leighton. — George P. Landow