Replica of Michelangelo’s Statue of David at Glendale Cemetery Topples

James Fishburne, director of the Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale, said a replica of Michelangelo’s sculpture of David fell over and shattered last weekend, likely as a result of a flaw in the design.(Courtesy of Forest Lawn Museum)

It’s only a little bit ironic that a statue of David, the biblical hero famous for bringing down Goliath with only a slingshot and a stone, met a similar fate in Glendale.

That’s what happened Sunday morning when the full-size marble reproduction of Michelangelo’s “David” on display at Forest Lawn Memorial Park toppled over and broke into pieces. But, rather than being knocked down with a rock aimed at its head, the 17-foot-tall statue seemingly fell of its own accord.

James Fishburne, the cemetery’s museum director, said he was coming into work that morning to give a tour when he received word that the statue had fallen over.

“I was surprised, but I wasn’t shocked,” he said.

Security reported the statue was still standing when they made their rounds at 5 a.m.; when they returned an hour later, it was on the ground and in pieces.

Fishburne, who has a doctorate in Italian Renaissance art history, said the design of the original “David” made it a little more fragile than similar-sized statues from the same period.

“It’s inherently delicate because Michelangelo, when he started sculpting it, was given a block that others had worked on,” he said. “They sort of sculpted him into a corner, so by its very nature, it had to be very thin.”

In 2014, Italy’s National Research Council reported that micro-fractures found in the original statue’s ankles and legs made it at risk of collapsing. The fractures were a result of age and the fact that most of the figure’s 5.5-ton weight rests on its left leg and a tree stump.

The flaw is present in most faithful marble re-creations of the statue.

Fishburne said Forest Lawn Glendale is home to many other reproductions of Michelangelo’s works, including several other statues and a stained-glass version of “The Last Supper.”

The cemetery’s “David” also wasn’t the first of that statue to be displayed at Forest Lawn — they’ve had six over the years.

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SOURCE: Los Angeles Times, Andy Nguyen