David's Duster Says She Has the 'Best Job in the World'

Eleonora Pucci says her work can bring out emotion and admiration for Michelangelo
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 1, 2023 3:40 PM CST
Michelangelo Duster Treasures 'Conservation of David's Beauty'
Michelangelo's David undergoes cleaning operations at the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence, Italy, in 2016.   (Maurizio Degl' Innocenti/ANSA via AP Photo)

Six times a year, Eleonora Pucci spends her Monday morning dusting. She climbs scaffolding in the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence, Italy, until she can look Michelangelo's David in the eye, the New York Times reports. Then she takes photos used to check for wear and tear on the 17-foot statue and monitor the amount of microscopic dust it's picked up since the last time she was up there. When that task is finished, Pucci, in-house restorer at the museum, dusts. She considers her work "the best job in the world." It lets her "contribute, even in a small way, to the conservation of David's beauty."

Pucci doesn't rush the dusting, taking light motions with a brush with synthetic bristles, which she said "are better at capturing dust." Starting with his head, Pucci stirs up particles that are instantly captured by a small vacuum cleaner designed for statues that's strapped onto her back. Cleaning the statue, completed in 1504, can elicit "big emotion" for her, as well as appreciation of Michelangelo's work. That's also true when Pucci dusts his "prisoners," four unfinished figures intended for Pope Julius II's mausoleum. "In the prisoners, you can see his technique, the marks of his chisel," she said. "You enter into his mental process. It gives you a sense of how he approached marble to let out the figures that he believed were trapped inside the stone."

Nearby in the Piazza della Signoria, Florence's main square, a copy of the David received a more aggressive cleaning this fall. The copy, installed in 1910, was intended as a replacement when concerns rose about the original's preservation, per the Times. The work goes well beyond dusting: Nontoxic chemicals are used on the younger David to kill the moss, algae, and lichens that can form on the marble of the outdoor statue. After the cleaning, a protective coating will be added. But it's vandalism that most threatens Florence's outdoor art, said the architect in charge of the maintenance. "There is a level of incivility that is too high," said Giorgio Caselli. (More Michelangelo stories.)

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