So one day Michelangelo is walking along the streets of Florence thinking idly about how much he hates anchovies on pizza when he comes across a bloody great lump of marble.
‘Cowabunga,’ he thinks to himself, ‘who would have thought that one teenage mutant ninja turtle could come across two free large blocks of marble in one lifetime?’ Well last time this happened he’d hewn it down to recreate the Biblical David, of David and Goliath fame. David was an informal symbol of Florence, part of its self-image as the plucky underdog against the greater size and weight of Milan and Venice.
Such was politics; Michelangelo had been charged by his patrons to glorify the city and by extension themselves. But art and commerce make for uneasy bedfellows (like me and a woman, he thought to himself ruefully) and they’d told him that next time he found a random block of marble that he could do whatever he wanted with it as long as he did it in his free time and it didn’t interfere with his work.
And now here it is. ‘I should have plenty of free time,’ he thinks, thoughtfully. ‘All I’ve got planned at the moment is a quick job down Rome sort of way to repaint some chapel ceiling.’
And as history records, Michelangelo set out to fashion in marble an image of his favourite blogger of blogs about random shit that most people couldn’t care less about. But then history shuts its trap – no one knows what became of perhaps Michelangelo’s greatest art work, what it looked like or even whether it was ever finished.
Today the statue of Frood is one of the Renaissance world’s great lost treasures, like Botticelli’s dogs playing poker mural, which once proudly adorned the Palazzo Vecchio (or Palazzo della Signoria as it was called then) overlooking the Piazza della Signoria.
Scholars have argued for centuries about how it might have looked as the cartoons and sketches tell very different tales. In one Frood is wrestling a sea otter, in another he is seen reading bedtime stories to a yeti. In yet another he is seen heroically n’ stoically leading a pack of wolves to the promised land (Denver, Colorado).
I can’t comment myself, being far too modest. But what I can say is this: if there’s a lesson to be learned (and there is), it’s that the finished product is not the be all and end all. The journey counts; and the dream.