The statue was meant to be a symbol of Florence as a rising power. The bronze statue was first installed in 1476 in the Palazzo Vecchio and then placed in Florence's National Museum of the Bargello. The statue was ordered by Piero de Medici and later sold to the Signora, which was the ruling authority in Florence, Italy. It earned a republican representation such as Donatello's David. However, the similarities between the two end here. While Donatello's David features a vulnerable and nude young boy, Verrocchio's statue is clothed and holds a sword in his right hand, depicting his victory over Goliath. This paragraph cannot be complete without also mentioning the world famous David by Michelangelo.
For the statue figure, the artist used young Leonardo da Vinci, who was a newcomer in his workshop. Previous representations of David represented a vigorous and strong warrior; however, Verrocchio's approach was different. He presents David as a young, ambitious and arrogant boy whose posture reveals his personality traits. The precision with which he holds the sword in his right hand and the placing of his left hand on his right hip show the provocative attitude of the young boy.
The accurate detailing of the veins on his arms contributes to sketching the dynamics of the scene. The giant's head is placed at the foot of the young David. The positioning of the giant's head has been long debated by various schools of art. When the statue was exhibited at the National Gallery of Art, Goliath's head was placed between the boy's feet. However, other art historians believe that Verrocchio's intention was for the head to be placed on the right side of David, as a continuum of the ensemble's diagonals.
The muscular bronze figure of David clothed in military-inspired garments was the first of Verrocchio's masterpieces. The Bargello Art Museum collaborated with the High Art Museum in the USA to restore the statue and highlight the craftsmanship with which it was executed by the artist. The restoration coordinated by Bargello's curator Ludovica Nicolai under the careful supervision of the restoration laboratory of the Opificio Delle Pietre Dure revealed the true colours of the sculptor. It also uncovered a gilding covering David's hair and parts of his boots and clothes. The positioning of the giant's head at the right side of the figure gives a sense of fluidity and movement to the entire ensemble.
Many bronze sculptures were gilted during this period but later lost this effect from the pollution in which they were displayed. Perhaps the best example of this would be Lorenzo Ghiberti's North Doors which had almost completely lost their gilted finish by the time they were moved indoors and replaced outside by copies.
Restorers have also found that David's 10-inch straight sword is not the original. Art historians believe that David originally had a curved blade. Cutting-edge laser technology was used to remove black varnish and dirt which was covering the fine gilding without loosening any of the original flakes of gold. The restorers discovered that the gold leaf was applied with glue and not fused with mercury, which meant that the sculpture was intended to be displayed indoors. Verrocchio's David is a symbol of Florence's freedom and rising growth. It depicts a young man standing victoriously next to the head of a defeated Goliath. Verrocchio integrated strong symbols in the bronze statue which stands out through the precision with which David's triumph is represented.