Michelangelo sculpted this Renaissance masterpiece out of a block of Carrara marble, known as “Il Gigante” (The Giant). No one before him had ever dared to touch it.
The figure of the young David, who defeated the giant Goliath, became one of the symbols of Florence, personifying the freedom of the Florentine Republic. It was initially placed in front of Palazzo Vecchio for this reason.
Inside the Accademia, you can also admire the Prigioni (Prisoners or Slaves), Michelangelo’s four famous incomplete sculptures, who seem as if they’re trying to liberate themselves from the marble that imprisons them. They were carried out for the tomb of Pope Julius II, but were never finished.
So Michelangelo’s granddaughter donated all four works—the Young Slave, Atlas, the Bearded Slave and the Awakening Slave—to Grand Duke Cosimo I, who placed them in the Boboli Gardens as decorative elements for the Grotta del Buontalenti. It was only in 1908 that they arrived at the Accademia Gallery. The Michelangelo collection also includes the Pietà di Palestrina and Saint Matthew.