Soderini, the man who told Michelangelo that the David‘s nose was too big, was no more of a hypocrite than most; and it’s possible that he was no hypocrite at all when he criticized the nose. It looked too big to him and he said so. Perhaps after Michelangelo had done the hammering, it still looked too big but out of politeness (there are all kinds of hypocrisy) or simple deference towards the man who was supposed to be his superior in this art, he acquiesced.
Piero Soderini might actually be seen to come off better than our hero Michelangelo in this story, who “felt sorry” for the mayor but didn’t say so: he wasn’t that dumb (wink, wink). You don’t bite the hand…..
Why didn’t he explain outright to the man that there at the foot of the scaffolding it was impossible to criticize a colossal figure like the David properly, that it had to be viewed from a distance, and that later when the figure was finished he, Soderini, would see that the nose was right? Michelangelo might have tried. Instead, he instantly conceived and carried out the cheating act to make a fool of him. Maybe Soderini’s airs were hard to take; maybe he deserved it. However it was, Michelangelo was “smart” enough to keep the story to himself while he took two more commissions from the mayor, who, by the way, paid him good money for the David when it was done and ordered it to be set up in the most prominent place of Florence. Later, after Soderini had fled to Rome and was no threat to anyone, the Master confided the mean story to Vasari and Condivi. As long as the mayor was handing out big marble blocks and awarding commissions, Michelangelo kept smiling and showing respect. Funny. Wasn’t our Michelangelo the man who didn’t let himself get kicked around; who spoke his mind frankly? Sometimes, depending. This Soderini story is plain back-biting.
I think Michelangelo was a lot more tolerant in this case because he got to work with what he loved most…sculpting. Unlike his experience painting the ceiling, he must have been a lot happier in those days.