Donatello


Michelle Hoell
Professor Kranz
Humanities 2
16 Nov. 2001
Donatello is known as the most important sculptor of the Early Renaissance. The author, John Pope-Hennessy noted him as ?one of the greatest artists who ever lived? (Pope-Hennessy p.11). Donatello was a modest person who was very dedicated to his works. Because of his great dedication, he was able to create so much art in so many different varieties (Poeschke p.5). Donatello's origins, his accomplishments, and his impact are important aspects to appreciate the sculptor, Donatello.
Donatello was born on 1386 in Florence, Italy by the name Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi. (library p.1). His father, Niccolo di Betto Bardi, was a wool comber. It is thought that he learned his career from one of the stone sculptors for the Cathedral of Florence around 1400 (britannica p.3). He assisted Filippo Brunelleschi, with whom he may have visited Rome and studied monuments of antiquity there (Blood p.1). Donatello started sculpting at the age of twenty. Donatello created masterpieces with stone, clay, bronze, or gold (Poeschke p.376). He is said to have worked in Lorenzo Ghiberti's shop and also had a shop of his own in Florence. Later in life he studied Roman Ruins and became a humanist. Donatello died on December 13, 1466 at the age of eighty. He never married and had no children (Blood p.1).
Donatello's works can be separated into three periods. The first period is comprised of works done before the year 1425. During the first period, Donatello was greatly influenced by the Gothic style, yet classical and realistic influences were also
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present. During this time Donatello identified himself as a realist. Most of his weeks of this period were spent in Florence (Blood p.2).
One of the works completed during the first period is the marble David was one of Donatello's earliest works, which was completed around 1412 (britannica p.2). On February 20, 1408, Donatello was commissioned to make one of the buttresses, which were going to be placed on the choir of the Duomo in Florence. A total of twelve buttresses were supposed to be made by several different sculptors but the task was never
completed. When Donatello finally completed his work, it was criticized of being too small to be placed in its location, which was eighteen meters high. The David ended up in the Duomo workshops for a few years. Then, in July 1416, it was moved to the Palazzo Vecchio. Donatello was then paid five extra florins to make some alterations to the statue. This may be when the very intricate details were added to Goliath's face and hair. He may have also added details to the clothing, such as seams, folds and fringes, during this time. Because of this, Donatello was noted of putting much more importance into the details of the sculpture more than any sculptor of this time puts (Poeschke p.27, 377). A while later the Prophet David was given a place of honor in the city hall to represent political freedom. Donatello's David was chosen for this place. Ghilberti, the leader in International Gothic Style, influenced this sculpture. International Gothic Style consisted of soft curves, which the David processed. The construction of the drapery also had a Gothic look. This work was made for the Cathedral but was later moved to Palazzo Vecchio in 1416. There, the David symbolized civic patriotism. It was later shadowed
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by the huge Michelangelo version of David (britannica p.2). The David can be seen on page nine and is image one.
Another work done during the first period is St. George. It was one of Donatello's most powerful works. It had demonstrated personality and confidence, which has not been seen since the classical antiquity (britannica p.2). St. George is image four on page ten. There appears to be holes made into the marble. These holes are thought to have held a wreath or bronze helmet on the head. The right hand was carved to hold a sword of lance made of bronze. The statue was completed on 1415 and the tabernacle niche in which is placed was completed around 1417 (Pope-Hennessy p.63, 64). It is unsure if Donatello had anything to do with designing the tabernacle in which St. George was but in, but it is certain