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The Scandal of Leonardo, Michelangelo, David and a Fig Leaf

Can there be a more talked about, giggled at, loved statue in the world than Michelangelo's David? If so, we don't know about it, or it hasn't got a small but perfectly formed peen on display.

But recent and shocking revelations in a fascinating book by Jonathan Jones called The Lost Battles tell us how David had his crowning glory made "decent" when first on display.

In it, Jones chronicles the bitter feud between Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo that started with an exchange of words on a Florentine street. It's thought the young, arrogant Michelangelo insulted Da Vinci on matters of bastardy, sexual bestiality and regarding the design of a colossal horse that he lacked the skill to cast in bronze.

Da Vinci didn't reply, but waited until a committee met to agree where Michelangelo's David should be displayed. Da Vinci then apparently sketched a crude caricature of David, and suggested the statue have its bits covered before going on show.

When David was placed on the Piazza della Signoria, he did indeed sport a brass thong decorated with a delicate scattering of well-placed copper leaves. Luckily, the thong was removed and the poor boy was allowed his full glory.

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