Guest Author - Deborah Watson-Novacek
Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi, better known to us today as Donatello, was born in Florence, Italy in 1383. He is one of the best known sculptors of the Renaissance and his work was considered influential to other well-known Italian sculptors of the time, including Michelangelo.
It is believed that Donatello learned to carve stone around 1400, and sometime between 1404 and 1407 he became a member of the workshop of Lorenzo Ghiberti. Ghiberti, a bronze sculptor, won a competition in 1402 for the honor of creating the doors of the Florentine baptistery. Ghiberti was the leading proponent of a style referred to as International Gothic. This style was strongly influenced by northern European art and is known by it's graceful, softly curved lines.
DONATELLO'S EARLY WORK
- A statue of St. Mark for the church of Orsanmichele, circa 1411 - 1413
- A marble sculpture of David, which was placed in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence in 1416.
- A wooden crucifix for the church of Santa Croce
- A seated marble sculpture of St. John the Evangelist
- A marble sculpture of Saint George, completed circa 1417 for the Confraternity of the Cuirass-makers.
- A gilt-bronze statue of Saint Louis of Toulouse, completed circa 1422 - 1425 for the Church of Santa Croce, Florence
- A bronze relief of the Feast of Herod, along with statuettes of the angels Faith and Hope, on the baptismal font, completed circa 1425 - 1429 for the Baptistery of Siena
- Five statues for the campanile of Santa Maria del Fiore were completed between 1415 and 1426. These works are:
- Beardless Prophet (1415)
- Bearded Prophet (1415)
- The Sacrifice of Isaac (1421)
- Habbakuk (1423 - 1425)
- Jeremiah (1423 - 1426)
- The funererary monument of the Antipope John XXIII, made together with Michelozzo, for the Battistero in Florence.
- In 1427, a marble panel was created for the funerary monument of Cardinal Rainaldo Brancacci of the church of Sant'Angelo a Nilo.
- The bronze David, perhaps Donatello's most famous work, was completed in 1430. This statue is considered by most art historians to be the first major work of Renaissance sculpture.
DONATELLO'S MIDDLE PERIOD
During the time of Cosimo de' Medici's exile from Florence, Donatello traveled to Rome where he remained until 1433. During this time he produced the following works:
- The Tomb of Giovanni Crivelli at Santa Maria in Aracoeli
- The Ciborium at St. Peter's Basilica
Back in Florence in May of 1434, Donatello contracted to create the marble pulpit on the Prato cathedral facade, again in collaboration with Michelozzo.
- The Cantoria, or singing tribune, completed in 1440 for the Duomo in Florence
Donatello spent the ten years between 1443 and 1453 working in the city of Padua in northern Italy. It was here that he designed the famed sculpted high altarpiece for the Santa, a church in Padua, and a large bronze equestrian statue of the military commander Gattemelata.
DONATELLO'S LATER YEARS
Donatello returned to Florence, where he spent his last years on the following works commissioned by the Medici family.
- The bronze group entitled Judith Slaying Holofernes, circa 1455 - 1460
- A series of bronze reliefs for the pulpits in San Lorenzo narrating the "Passion of the Christ."
Donatello's last commission in Florence were the reliefs for the bronze pulpits in the church of San Lorenzo.
Donatello died in Florence in 1466 and was buried in the Basilica of San Lorenzo.