Italian government up in arms over Michelangelo's David rifle advert

The Italian culture minister said the US weapons firm's use of the image of David is illegal

Antonia Molloy
Sunday 09 March 2014 12:00
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Italy has said the advertisement "distorts" the Renaissance masterpiece
Italy has said the advertisement "distorts" the Renaissance masterpiece

He is one of Italy’s Renaissance greats – a painter sculptor, architect and poet and, according to one US weapons firm, a gun proponent.

The Italian culture minister has expressed anger over an advertisement from Illinois-based ArmaLite that depicts Michelangelo’s David holding a rifle, the BBC reported.

Dario Franceschini said the image was offensive and violated the law.

A number of Italian media websites carried an image of the advertisement, in which David is seen carrying a $3,000 bolt-action rifle, alongside the slogan “a work of art”.

Mr Franceschini called for the company to withdraw the advertisement for the AR-50A1.

He said in a tweet: "The image of David, armed, offends and infringes the law. We will take action against the American company so that it immediately withdraws its campaign."

Historical Heritage and Fine Arts Board curator Cristina Acidini has issued a legal notice to ArmaLite to withdraw the image, saying it misrepresents the artwork.

The government says it has copyright on the commercial use of images of David.

Angelo Tartuferi, director of Florence's Accademia Gallery, where the statue is on display, told Repubblica newspaper: "The law says that the aesthetic value of the work cannot be distorted.

"In this case, not only is the choice in bad taste but also completely illegal."

The marble statue of the Biblical figure was created between 1501 and 1504. It was originally commissioned as one of a series of statues to be placed along the roofline of Florence Cathedral, but was instead placed outside the Palazzo Vecchio.

David was moved to the Accademia Gallery in Florence in 1873, and a replica was later placed at the original location.

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