The Info List - Donatello

--- Advertisement ---

Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi (c. 1386 – 13 December 1466), better known as Donatello
(Italian: [donaˈtɛllo]), was an Italian Renaissance
sculptor from Florence. He studied classical sculpture and used this to develop a complete Renaissance
style in sculpture, whose periods in Rome, Padua
and Siena
introduced to other parts of Italy a long and productive career. He worked with stone, bronze, wood, clay, stucco and wax, and had several assistants, with four perhaps being a typical number. Though his best-known works were mostly statues in the round, he developed a new, very shallow, type of bas-relief for small works, and a good deal of his output was larger architectural reliefs.


1 Early life 2 Work in Florence 3 Major commissions in Florence 4 In Padua 5 Main works 6 In popular culture 7 Notes 8 References 9 Further reading 10 External links

Early life[edit]

Statue of St. John the Baptist
St. John the Baptist
in the Duomo
di Siena

was the son of Niccolò di Betto Bardi, who was a member of the Florentine Arte della Lana, and was born in Florence, probably in the year 1386. Donatello
was educated in the house of the Martelli family.[1] He apparently received his early artistic training in a goldsmith's workshop, and then worked briefly in the studio of Lorenzo Ghiberti. While undertaking study and excavations with Filippo Brunelleschi
Filippo Brunelleschi
in Rome (1404–1407), work that gained the two men the reputation of treasure seekers, Donatello
made a living by working at goldsmiths' shops.[2] Their Roman sojourn was decisive for the entire development of Italian art in the 15th century, for it was during this period that Brunelleschi undertook his measurements of the Pantheon dome and of other Roman buildings. Brunelleschi's buildings and Donatello's sculptures are both considered supreme expressions of the spirit of this era in architecture and sculpture, and they exercised a potent influence upon the artists of the age. Work in Florence[edit]

In 1409–1411 he executed the colossal seated figure of Saint John the Evangelist.

David head and shoulders front right

In Florence, Donatello
assisted Lorenzo Ghiberti
Lorenzo Ghiberti
with the statues of prophets for the north door of the Baptistery
of Florence
Cathedral, for which he received payment in November 1406 and early 1408. In 1409–1411 he executed the colossal seated figure of Saint John the Evangelist, which until 1588 occupied a niche of the old cathedral façade, and is now placed in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. This work marks a decisive step forward from late Gothic Mannerism
in the search for naturalism and the rendering of human feelings.[3] The face, the shoulders and the bust are still idealized, while the hands and the fold of cloth over the legs are more realistic. In 1411–13, Donatello
worked on a statue of St. Mark for the guild church of Orsanmichele. In 1417 he completed the Saint George for the Confraternity of the Cuirass-makers. The elegant St. George and the Dragon relief on the statue's base, executed in schiacciato (a very low bas-relief) is one of the first examples of central-point perspective in sculpture. From 1423 is the Saint Louis of Toulouse for the Orsanmichele, now in the Museum of the Basilica di Santa Croce. Donatello
had also sculpted the classical frame for this work, which remains, while the statue was moved in 1460 and replaced by Incredulity of Saint Thomas
Incredulity of Saint Thomas
by Verrocchio. Between 1415 and 1426, Donatello
created five statues for the campanile of Santa Maria del Fiore
Santa Maria del Fiore
in Florence, also known as the Duomo. These works are the Beardless Prophet; Bearded Prophet (both from 1415); the Sacrifice of Isaac (1421); Habbakuk (1423–25); and Jeremiah (1423–26); which follow the classical models for orators and are characterized by strong portrait details. From the late teens is the Pazzi Madonna
Pazzi Madonna
relief in Berlin. In 1425, he executed the notable Crucifix for Santa Croce; this work portrays Christ in a moment of the agony, eyes and mouth partially opened, the body contracted in an ungraceful posture. From 1425 to 1427, Donatello
collaborated with Michelozzo
on the funerary monument of the Antipope John XXIII
Antipope John XXIII
for the Battistero in Florence. Donatello
made the recumbent bronze figure of the deceased, under a shell. In 1427, he completed in Pisa
a marble relief for the funerary monument of Cardinal Rainaldo Brancacci at the church of Sant'Angelo a Nilo
Sant'Angelo a Nilo
in Naples. In the same period, he executed the relief of the Feast of Herod and the statues of Faith and Hope for the Baptistery
of San Giovanni in Siena. The relief is mostly in stiacciato, with the foreground figures are done in bas-relief. Major commissions in Florence[edit]

David at Bargello, Florence.

Around 1430, Cosimo de' Medici, the foremost art patron of his era, commissioned from Donatello
the bronze David (now in the Bargello) for the court of his Palazzo Medici. This is now Donatello's most famous work, and the first known free-standing nude statue produced since antiquity. Conceived fully in the round, independent of any architectural surroundings, and largely representing an allegory of the civic virtues triumphing over brutality and irrationality, it is arguably the first major work of Renaissance
sculpture. Also from this period is the disquietingly small Love-Atys, housed in the Bargello.

Statue of St. George in Orsanmichele, Florence

Some have perceived the David as having homo-erotic qualities, and have argued that this reflected the artist's own orientation.[4] The historian Paul Strathern makes the claim that Donatello
made no secret of his homosexuality, and that his behaviour was tolerated by his friends.[5] The main evidence comes from anecdotes by Angelo Poliziano in his "Detti piacevoli".[6] This may not be surprising in the context of attitudes prevailing in the 15th- and 16th-century Florentine republic. However, little detail is known with certainty about his private life, and no mention of his sexuality has been found in the Florentine archives (in terms of denunciations)[7] albeit which during this period are incomplete.[8] Actual details of Donatello's relationships therefore remain speculative. When Cosimo was exiled from Florence, Donatello
went to Rome, remaining until 1433. The two works that testify to his presence in this city, the Tomb of Giovanni Crivelli at Santa Maria in Aracoeli, and the Ciborium at St. Peter's Basilica, bear a strong stamp of classical influence. Donatello's return to Florence
almost coincided with Cosimo's. In May 1434, he signed a contract for the marble pulpit on the facade of Prato cathedral, the last project executed in collaboration with Michelozzo. This work, a passionate, pagan, rhythmically conceived bacchanalian dance of half-nude putti, was the forerunner of the great Cantoria, or singing tribune, at the Duomo
in Florence
on which Donatello
worked intermittently from 1433 to 1440 and was inspired by ancient sarcophagi and Byzantine ivory chests. In 1435, he executed the Annunciation for the Cavalcanti altar in Santa Croce, inspired by 14th-century iconography, and in 1437–1443, he worked in the Old Sacristy of the San Lorenzo in Florence, on two doors and lunettes portraying saints, as well as eight stucco tondoes. From 1438 is the wooden statue of St. John the Baptist
St. John the Baptist
for Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice. Around 1440, he executed a bust of a Young Man with a Cameo now in the Bargello, the first example of a lay bust portrait since the classical era. In Padua[edit]

Donatello's equestrian statue of Gattamelata at Padua.

In 1443, Donatello
was called to Padua
by the heirs of the famous condottiero Erasmo da Narni
Erasmo da Narni
(better known as the Gattamelata, or "Honey-Cat"), who had died that year. Completed in 1450 and placed in the square facing the Basilica of St. Anthony, his Equestrian Monument of Gattamelata was the first example of such a monument since ancient times. (Other equestrian statues, from the 14th century, had not been executed in bronze and had been placed over tombs rather than erected independently, in a public place.) This work became the prototype for other equestrian monuments executed in Italy and Europe in the following centuries. For the Basilica of St. Anthony, Donatello
created, most famously, the bronze Crucifix of 1444–47 and additional statues for the choir, including a Madonna with Child and six saints, constituting a Holy Conversation, which is no longer visible since the renovation by Camillo Boito
Camillo Boito
in 1895. The Madonna with Child portrays the Child being displayed to the faithful, on a throne flanked by two sphinxes, allegorical figures of knowledge. On the throne's back is a relief of Adam and Eve. During this period—1446–50— Donatello
also executed four extremely important reliefs with scenes from the life of St. Anthony for the high altar. Main works[edit]

St. Mark (1411–13), Orsanmichele, Florence St. George Tabernacle (c. 1415–17) – Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence Prophet Habakkuk (1423–25) – Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence The Feast of Herod (c. 1425) – Baptismal font, Baptistry of San Giovanni, Siena David (c. 1425–30) – Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence Madonna of the Clouds (c. 1425–35) marble relief, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Equestrian Monument of Gattamelata
Equestrian Monument of Gattamelata
(1445–50) – Piazza del Santo, Padua Magdalene Penitent
Magdalene Penitent
(c. 1455) – Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence Judith and Holofernes (1455–1460) – Palazzo Vecchio, Florence Virgin and Child with Four Angels or Chellini Madonna
Chellini Madonna
(1456), Victoria and Albert Museum

Bust of Niccolo da Uzzano by Donatello. Cast from original in Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence, Italy.

Magdalene Penitent
Magdalene Penitent
(c. 1455) – Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence.

The head of Saint John the Evangelist, 1408-15 which until 1588 occupied a niche of the old cathedral façade, and is now placed in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo.

In popular culture[edit] Donatello
is portrayed by Ben Starr in the 2016 television series Medici: Masters of Florence.[9] Donatello
in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is named after him. The Donatello
Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) built by the Italian Space Agency, was one of three MPLMs operated by NASA
to transfer supplies and equipment to and from the International Space Station. The others were named Leonardo and Raffaello. Notes[edit]

^ Giorgio Vasari: art and history By Patricia Lee Rubin. Retrieved 20 October 2009. ^ [1] ^ Janson, The Sculpture of Donatello, Princeton, 1963. ^ H.W. Janson, The Sculpture of Donatello, Princeton, 1957, II, 77–86; Laurie Schneider, "Donatello's Bronze David," The Art Bulletin, 55 (1973) 213–216. ^ Paul Strathern, The Medici: Godfather of the Renaissance, London, 2003 ^ Michael Rocke, Forbidden Friendships: Homosexuality and Male Culture in Renaissance
Florence ^ J. Poeschke, Donatello
and His World (1994) ^ Louis Crompton, Homosexuality and Civilization, Harvard Press, 2003, p. 264. ^ "Medici: Masters of Florence". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 24 December 2016. 


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Donatello". Encyclopædia Britannica. 8 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 406–408.  Charles Avery and Sarah Blake McHam. "Donatello." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press, accessed 16 June 2015, subscription required Hartt, Frederick, History of Italian Renaissance
Art, (2nd edn.)1987, Thames & Hudson (US Harry N Abrams), ISBN 0500235104 Olson, Roberta J.M., Italian Renaissance
Sculpture, 1992, Thames & Hudson (World of Art), ISBN 978-0500202531 Adrian W. B. Randolph, Engaging symbols: gender, politics, and public art in fifteenth-century Florence. Yale University Press, 2002. Giorgio Vasari, Le vite de' più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architettori Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, Firenze 1568, edizione a cura di R. Bettarini e P. Barocchi, Firenze 1971. Wilson, Carolyn C., Renaissance
Small Bronze Sculpture and Associated Decorative Arts, 1983, National Gallery of Art (Washington), ISBN 0894680676

Further reading[edit]

Charles Avery, Donatello. Catalogo completo delle opere, Firenze 1991 Bonnie A. Bennett e David G. Wilkins, Donatello, Oxford 1984. Michael Greenhalg, Donatello
and his sources, London 1982. Horst W. Janson, The Sculpture of Donatello, Princetown 1957. Peter E. Leach, Images of political Triumph. Donatello's iconography of Heroes, Princetown 1984

External links[edit]

Donatello: Biography, style and artworks Donatello: Art in Tuscany Donatello
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art Donatello: Photo Gallery Donatello, by David Lindsay, 27th Earl of Crawford, from Project Gutenberg The Chellini Madonna
Chellini Madonna
Sculpture. Victoria and Albert Museum

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Donatello.

v t e



Saint Mark (1411–13) Saint George and Saint George Freeing the Princess (c. 1415–17) Marzocco
(1418–20) David (1408–09) Prophet Habacuc
Prophet Habacuc
(1423–25) St Louis (1423-25) Tomb of Antipope John XXIII
Antipope John XXIII
(1424–27) Tomb of Cardinal Rainaldo Brancacci
Tomb of Cardinal Rainaldo Brancacci
(c. 1427–28) The Feast of Herod (1425) David (c. 1440) Equestrian statue
Equestrian statue
of Gattamelata (1453) Magdalene Penitent
Magdalene Penitent
(1453–55) Virgin and Child with Four Angels (1456) Judith and Holofernes (1457–64)

v t e

House of Medici


Lords of Florence

Cosimo il Vecchio Piero "The Gouty" Lorenzo il Magnifico Giuliano Piero il Fatuo Giovanni (Leo X) Giuliano Lorenzo II Giulio (Clement VII) Ippolito Alessandro "The Moor"

Dukes of Florence

Alessandro "The Moor" Cosimo I

Grand Dukes of Tuscany

Cosimo I Francesco I Ferdinando I Cosimo II Ferdinando II Cosimo III Gian Gastone


Caterina Maria


Leo X Clement VII Leo XI


male line: Giovanni (Leo X) Giulio (Clement VII) Ippolito Alessandro (Leo XI) Giovanni Ferdinando I Carlo Giovan Carlo Leopoldo Francesco Maria Francesco female line: Luigi de' Rossi Giovanni Salviati Innocenzo Cybo Bernardo Salviati Niccolò Ridolfi Lorenzo Strozzi Ferrante Gonzaga Vincenzo II Gonzaga

Bishops and archbishops

Filippo Bernardo Antonio Giuliano Zanobi


Giovanni dalle Bande Nere Don Giovanni Mattias


Genealogical tables of the House of Medici

Festina Lente



Cafaggiolo Trebbio Careggi Fiesole La Quiete Collesalvetti Poggio a Caiano Castello Mezzomonte Agnano Spedaletto La Petraia Camugliano Stabbia La Topaia Cerreto Guidi Marignolle Arena Metato Poggio Imperiale Lapeggi L'Ambrogiana La Màgia Liliano Coltano Montevettolini Artimino Buti Seravezza Madama


Casino Mediceo di San Marco Palazzo Medici
Riccardi Palazzo Madama Palazzo Pitti Villa Medici Palazzo Medici
Tornaquinci Livorno Palazzo delle Vedove Pisa Materdei Palazzo Medici
di Ottaviano

Fountains and gardens

fountain Villa di Pratolino


Arezzo Grosseto Piombino Pistoia San Piero a Sieve Siena Volterra


Cappelle medicee The Chapel of Medici
di Gragnano


Painters, sculptors and architects

Bartolomeo Ammannati Sandro Botticelli Filippo Brunelleschi Michelangelo Bernardo Buontalenti Leonardo da Vinci Donatello Michelozzo Antonio del Pollaiolo Jacopo della Quercia Giorgio Vasari

Poets and other literary figures

Agnolo Poliziano Niccolò Machiavelli

Humanists and philosophers

Pico della Mirandola Marsilio Ficino


Galileo Galilei


Emilio de' Cavalieri Jacopo Peri


coat of arms Crown of the Grand Duke of Tuscany Order of Saint Stephen




lions Medici
porcelain Medici
Vase Venus de' Medici Arazzeria Medicea


giraffe Galilean moons Stories set to music: "opera" Albizzi Pazzi conspiracy Savonarola

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 22171330 LCCN: n50046696 ISNI: 0000 0001 2123 6619 GND: 118526693 SELIBR: 207165 SUDOC: 029391415 BNF: cb121028756 (data) ULAN: 500026022 NLA: 36384120 NDL: 00512925 NKC: xx0086229 ICCU: ITICCUCFIV57331 BNE: XX1163291 KulturNav: 738cf33f-29f6-4078-9618-ba0b778fcce5 RKD: 23