Il Gigante: Michelangelo, Florence, and the David

Written by Anton Gill
Review by Bethany Skaggs

Books written about Michelangelo and the David are numerous, and with this offering, Gill doesn’t cover any new ground. He has, however, crafted a readable history that will appeal to those who wish to avoid the more scholarly (and usually tediously dry) works on the subject. The subtitle sums up the book’s coverage well; Gill spends as much time on Florence, the Medici, and political events as he does on Michelangelo and his famous sculpture. Gill’s main accomplishment here is in providing the temporal and political framework within which Michelangelo worked, and illustrating how this backdrop influenced the artist and his art. This accomplishment, however, goes hand in hand with one of the book’s shortcomings. In portraying the turbulent times, Gill often loses focus; as the book jumps from event to event it sometimes lacks cohesion. Gill populates Michelangelo’s world with famous contemporaries, including Lorenzo de Medici, Cesare Borgia, and Leonardo da Vinci. All of these historic figures are well-drawn, which makes another of the book’s flaws even less understandable. The book would have benefited from more description of Michelangelo himself, as well as his technique. Though not without defects, overall Il Gigante is an interesting and readable popular history.