Michelangelo, the Italian painter and sculptor, began work on the statue David on this day in 1501. Commissioned by the Medici family of Florence, the statue was intended to be part of a collection of prophets to line the Florence Cathedral, based upon the Biblical hero David. The statue, with its eyes focused on Rome, became a symbol for the freedom and the rights of the citizens of Florence, an independent city state in a politically turbulent time in Italy’s history, with more powerful neighbors on all sides. Upon its completion in 1504, the statue was re-purposed and placed outside Palazza Vecchio, the Florence city hall. It became one of Michelangelo’s most famous pieces, and became a symbol of prestige and wealth for the Medici family. The marble statue continues to travel the world in art galleries today, although it frequently returns to its hometown of Florence, in Italy.