The sculpture is a critical example of nudity in art. The figure of David that is known from the biblical point of view cannot be represented in a nude form like it is the case of Donatello’s bronze sculpture. He is one of the most important figures in the history of the Jews in the Bible. A strong and triumphal figure suggested to have defeated a man that every other Jewish soldier was afraid of, Goliath the Philistine. Prior to the creation of the bronze sculpture, the image that was in the mind of the people was a King of a very high stature. The work of Donatello, on the contrary, brought about an entirely new view of the king (Smith, 1994). The youthful and nude figure of David is an entirely new view of him.
It is difficult for most of the religious audience to accept such a shameful view of one of the most esteemed figures in the Bible, explaining one of the reasons for the controversy surrounding the work. The work was also created during a time when nudity was uncommon in art, and hence, could not be generally accepted. Some supporters of the nude depiction of David have suggested that he was known to go to the battleground without clothes, especially during his youth (Smith, 1994). At the same time, from the sculpture he is wearing a hat and boots, again challenging the idea and acceptability of the work of art. While nudity is meant to represent the heroic view of this leader, there is persistent controversy surrounding this work of art. This is a controversy that will persist for ages as long as there is a need to appreciate art.
Smith, S. L. (1994). A Nude Judith from Padua and the Reception of Donatello’s Bronze David. Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 25(1).