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A U.S. gun ad featuring Michelangelo’s David wielding a rifle has stirred up rage in Italy, where the Renaissance-era sculpture is considered virtually sacrosanct.

The advertisement, made by Illinois-based ArmaLite, depicts David holding an AR-50A1 rifle, a large sniper rifle that fires .50 caliber bullets and costs $ 3,300, reports Il Post. The advertisement carries the line “AR-50A1: A work of art.”

Italy’s culture minister Dario Franceschini said the image was offensive and violated the law, and an official at the Department of Culture in Florence said it has warned the arms producer not to use the image.

Anyone who wants to use the statue of David for “promotional purposes,” said the official, “has to respect the cultural dignity (of the work of art).” But the director of the museum that houses the statue warned legal options may be limited.

Michelangelo created the sculpture of the Biblical hero between 1501 and 1504. It is considered a masterpiece of Renaissance art.

ArmaLite is known for producing the M16, the standard weapon for the U.S. Army and several NATO countries for many years.

[Il Post]

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