Weak Ankles Risk David Collapse

Florence -- The iconic statue of David by Michelangelo could crumble under the stress of its own weight because of "weak ankles" in the original construction of the masterpiece, warns the National Research Council (CNR) and Geosciences Institute at the University of Florence.

Art collectors of Art Kabinett social media network might not have much time left to enjoy Michelangelo's David.

Micro-fractures in its legs have appeared on the sculpture which weighs 5.5 tons and researchers in Florence have warned that it could collapse under its own weight.

The ornamental tree stump carved behind David's right leg bears most of the statues weight. Recent findings from the National Research Council show cracks.

Weak areas were also discovered in the ankles of the figure after a series of tests on plaster replicas were executed. It is thought that they occurred in the centuries when David was displayed in the city's main square.

Long-Standing Deterioration

The cracks most likely developed in 1844 when Florence was subject to flooding, causing the statue to be positioned leaning forward at a precarious angle.

In 1847, additional weight was placed on the David while it was being cast by Clemente Papi. The tilting was corrected in 1873, when the statue was installed in the Accademia Gallery, and later replaced at the original location by a replica

The work of art which measures 17ft also suffers from the low-grade marble which Michelangelo favored. It has also been suggested that the work is in danger from an earthquake, as well as road construction in the area near the gallery.

Many experts think that David should be moved to a quake-proof room, or to a new gallery outside of the historic city.

Biblical Hero

David, long considered the sculptural masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance, was created between 1501 and 1504. The statue represents the Biblical hero David, a favored subject in the art of Florence.

Originally commissioned as one of a series of statues of prophets to be positioned along the roofline of the east end of Florence Cathedral, the statue was placed instead in a public square, outside the Palazzo della Signoria, the seat of civic government in Florence, where it was unveiled on 8 September 1504.

Because of the nature of the hero it represented, the statue soon came to symbolize the defense of civil liberties embodied in the Republic of Florence, an independent city-state threatened on all sides by more powerful rival states and by the hegemony of the Medici family.

The eyes of David, with a warning glare, were turned towards Rome.

Atypical Proportions

The proportions of the David are atypical of Michelangelo's work. The figure has an unusually large head and hands (particularly apparent in the right hand).

These enlargements may be due to the fact that the statue was originally intended to be placed on the roof of the cathedral, where the important parts of the sculpture may have been accentuated in order to be visible from below.

The statue is unusually slender (front to back) in comparison to its height, which may be a result of the work done on the block before Michelangelo began carving it.

Commentators have noted David's uncircumcised penis, which is at odds with Judaic practice, but is consistent with the conventions of Renaissance art.