Know Your Chapeau: David

7:00 AM

Donatello, David, 1440?

Donatello's David, renowned as the first free-standing bronze sculpture of the Renaissance, was quite controversial at time of release. While heralded as a great modern (at the time) work by some patrons, others considered it risque, especially in its nude and effeminate depiction of David. But one thing about the statue that has drawn considerable attention is David's hat. Being the only real article of clothing on the statue, it was bound to be imbued with speculative myths and hackneyed meaning.

But the actual hat itself is also quite enigmatic. The design of the hat is anachronistic of the time, it being more of an Italian mercenary's hat than anything that could have come out of the Biblical Era. And while the rest of the sculpture screams masculinity ...not, the hat at least conjures up the image of the violent Goliath and his supposed indomitable nature. But then there're the flowers.

While the hat itself seems out of place, what's weirder still is the presence of laurels and other flora. Taking an anachronistic hat and putting laurels (which are native to the Mediterranean region) on as accents seems like a bold move. But, this may make the sculpture better, at least historically. Unlike the Davids of other artists (read: Michelangelo), this David may indeed be more adherent to the Bible, depicting David as a somewhat weaker-looking person. In the narrative, David's weakness is extolled as a virtue, making its symbolic depiction here seem intentional.

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