Michelangelo’s David: Which side is the right side?

Michaelangelo's David
According to McCulloch, this is the side of the statue, not the front

You never know what you’ll stumble across on the Internet. For me this evening it was the discovery of a fascinating article on Michelangelo’s David.

In the opinion of the author, J. Huston McCulloch, the David is not properly oriented in Florence’s Galleria dell’Academia. The view we see most often, shown here, is not the front of the sculpture; it is the side. Visitors to the museum cannot get a good look at the front of the statue because it faces a pillar.

McCulloch’s article, David: A New Perspective” includes a computer-generated image of the sculpture viewed head-on, the way McCulloch thinks it was meant it to be viewed. It’s a totally different young man — alert, tense, confrontational. Very unlike the peaceful, seemingly relaxed David I’ve always seen.

Maybe most people know all this. I haven’t studied art since high school, and although Michelangelo and I have had some incidental meetings since then, this particular information is new to me. I did have the privilege once of seeing a full-scale reproduction of the statue on display in Des Moines, Iowa, and all I can say is that mere photographs cannot do it justice. It is magnificent.


(Correction April 7, 2012: This article originally said the reproduction was in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It should have said Des Moines, Iowa. I saw it on display in a large downtown department store when I was there on a business trip in the ’80s.)

2 thoughts on “Michelangelo’s David: Which side is the right side?

    1. I can only assume McCulloch’s is a minority viewpoint; otherwise why wouldn’t the statue have been turned so the public could view it head-on? Or better, put it where it’s viewable from all angles so people can decide for themselves. If necessary, build an entirely new building for it; it’s certainly worth it.

... and that's my two cents