Despite claims that there wasn’t much else mind-blowing within it, there was almost always a lineup outside the Accademia. Not much else, but the tourist attraction here was Michelangelo’s David, and I had been waiting.
But first, a room with another statue imitated in the Piazza della Signoria: a woman, wriggling, struggling, grasping at the air as a warrior clenches her in mid-air. The Rape (‘Capture’) of the Sabine depicts the story of the Roman men who, upon forging Rome as a city and recognizing the dire need for females, invited the Sabine people to their city under a ruse, and then captured all the women. There is no statue depicting what happened next however, but the story is not all gruesome: when the Sabine men attacked Rome to take back their daughters, the women, having fallen for their captors, leapt between the two armies, crying, “Stop! These are our husbands and these are our fathers!” The only outcome possible was peace, albeit temporary.
Next, the corridor of slaves, and then, there at the end, David in all his glory. Oh he was beautiful. Exquisite. Chiseled from a chunk of carrara marble thrown away and thought unworkable, David stood one of the most recognizable works of art in the world – the perfect man. But he is not in actuality ‘perfect’ – his head is too large for his body, he arms too long, his hands too big. Expecting him to stand atop the Duomo, Michelangelo sculpted David this way intentionally – when viewed from far below, David’s proportions would be ideal; to me, even from only a meter below, they were. My eyes refused to be satiated. The veins in his arms, the pronounced beauty of his muscles, the deliberate shape of his every inch. I longed to study him – the way the buttocks sat just so, taut or relaxed depending on the leg being straight or bent, the expression on his face – a peaceful boy from the front, a determined warrior from the right, every detail conscious and calculated. I couldn’t get enough.
But alas, we moved on. The statue gallery, filled with nudes, cherubim and busts, paled in comparison to the star attraction behind us, but a statue of a reclining woman caught my eye: the goddess Juno, agitated with Paris for giving the apple to Aphrodite, poses, showing herself in all her beauty. The description sounded familiar but the name did not – was it possible I knew the story of a statue in this room? Save for the Latin translation of Hera, this was a moment in the tale of Paris choosing the most beautiful out of the three goddesses – and Juno was a mighty contender. I fell in love with her not knowing I did, distracted by my excitement, my apparent knowledge of the account. Pleased but dumbfounded, I followed the crowd out.
We visited another gallery but our wander was aimless and my focus lost, excited. The Galleria dell’Accademia did not have treasures in every corner, but I was remembering stories of Greek mythology! That was my attraction. That was my bliss. And just like that, my mind was blown.