One of the most iconic of all Michelangelo’s statuary masterpieces is his immortal David. Carved from an imperfect piece of Carrara marble that had been discarded by lesser artists for being too narrow for a figure, it was originally placed outdoors in the Plaza Signoria in Florence, but soon moved indoors for protection. How Michelangelo was able to balance the weight of the statue’s top and thinner bottom was nothing short of an artistic miracle.


In the 1930s, Forest Lawn commissioned an exact replica of the 16 ft. 9 in. tall statue, which would place David outdoors in a setting that would befit such a work. In a quiet ceremony on June 22, 1939, under clear blue skies and picture-perfect weather, the statue was unveiled.


David stood proudly in Glendale for years and was visited by hundreds of thousands of admirers until a force of nature that not even Michelangelo could have overcome—an earthquake. The powerful Sylmar quake toppled David, breaking it into pieces.


After collaborating with engineers, the replacement David was built on a sheet of Teflon on top of polished granite which would allow the statue to slide in case of another earthquake. Unfortunately, the Teflon bonded to the granite and when the 1994 Northridge earthquake struck, David went down for a second time.


It’s said that the third time’s a charm, and it appeared to be that way when the third David was installed on a system that was used by the J. Paul Getty Museum for earthquake protection. There hasn’t been a significant earthquake since, but in the early morning hours of Sunday, March 8, 2020, for reasons still not fully known, David took yet another tumble. Theories of possible cumulative seismic activity, microfractures in the statue’s ankles and legs, the structural composition of the marble, or a combination of all three are believed to have been the cause.


The fourth David, this one cast in bronze, inspired by the bronze replica in Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence, was installed in November 2021 and marks the 85th year of David’s presence. It is the centerpiece of the renovated Court of David and is a sight to behold. You’re invited to visit Forest Lawn-Glendale and witness the majesty of Michelangelo in a spectacular garden setting.