For more than 500 years Andrea del Verrocchio’s bronze statue of David has been safeguarded indoors in the city of Florence. One of the masterworks of the Italian fifteenth century, this exquisite four foot tall (126cm) bronze is currently in the Bargello, which includes among its collection both of Donatello’s Davids and Michelangelo’s Bacchus. At the moment it is in the process of being restored for the purpose of a traveling exhibition. As reported in Access Atlanta this past Tuesday, “The 15th century bronze sculpture of David by Andrea del Verrocchio will leave Florence, Italy, for the first time, a coup the High [Museum, Atlanta] pulled off by helping to fund the sculpture’s restoration, now in process at the National Museum of the Bargello.”
Padded and packed in a custom fit crate, the object will be insured and transported across the world, enlisted in the effort to inaugurate a new building wing of the High Museum. In effect, the David has been rented out for a giant housewarming party. One cannot justify the shipment of the statue for the usual reason since museum visitor statistics indicate that far more people are likely to see the statue in the Bargello. The High Museum boasts 500,000 visitors annually, but these numbers pale in comparison to the steady stream of art travelers to Florence every year. Verrocchio’s David will be seen by far fewer people in Atlanta than had it remained at home in Florence.
That a work of such rarity should be shipped around the world for an exhibition is dangerous, especially in light of current world conditions. Furthermore even an object in bronze can suffer during shipment. Therefore ArtWatch seriously questions the notion of shipping it to Atlanta, Georgia or anyplace else. And further, we object to the recent restoration, whatever the excuses are: the work remained in doors for centuries and is in highly presentable condition. Restoration for the stake of restoration, with all of the concomitant fanfare, is a sad commentary on the art world and on the Italian officials who have promulgated it.