Among the Prophets: Michelangelo's 'David'
This thesis argues that Michelangelo employed the grammar of the Cathedral and Prophet program in the making of his David with particular reference to Lorenzo Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise, Donatello's Jeremiah, Nanni di Banco's Isaiah, and Assumption of the Virgin above the Porta della Mandorla. Emphasizing Christological prophecy as the lynchpin of the overall sculptural program, it likewise applies humanist and Christian exegesis in order to reposition the David into its intended religious context. Raised on top of the Duomo, the David would have embodied the ancestral bloodline--emanating from the Tree of Jesse, carried through the womb of the Virgin Mary, and culminating in the incarnation of Christ. The incarnation--prophesied by Jeremiah, Isaiah, and the Minor Prophets--fulfills the thematic program--both in form and in hermeneutics--of the sculptural ensemble gracing the cathedral and baptistery architectural complex. The tree-stump is considered crucial to the istoria of Michelangelo's David, akin to the importance of Goliath's head in previous depictions of David; here it symbolizes the genealogy of Christ as derivative of the Davidic bloodline. Moreover, the employment of masculinity studies and the philosophies of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari lends new insight into the interconnectedness between the David, the viewer, and site.
Degree grantorAmerican University. Department of Art