Italy's culture minister has expressed outrage over an advertisement by a US weapons firm showing Michelangelo's David holding a rifle.
Dario Franceschini said the image was offensive and violated the law.
A number of Italian media web sites carried the image of the advertisement showing David holding a bolt-action rifle.
The advertisement, from Illinois-based ArmaLite, carries the line "a work of art" in promoting the $3,000 rifle.
Mr Franceschini urged the company to withdraw the advertisement for the AR-50A1.
He said in a tweet: "The image of David, armed, offends and infringes the law. We will take action against the American company so that it immediately withdraws its campaign."
Historical Heritage and Fine Arts Board curator Cristina Acidini has issued a legal notice to ArmaLite to withdraw the image, saying it distorts the artwork.
The government says it has copyright on the commercial use of images of David.
Angelo Tartuferi, director of Florence's Accademia Gallery, where the statue is on display, told Repubblica newspaper: "The law says that the aesthetic value of the work cannot be distorted.
"In this case, not only is the choice in bad taste but also completely illegal."
The marble statue of the Biblical hero was created by Michelangelo between 1501 and 1504 and is considered a masterpiece of the Renaissance.