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). Donatellos 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). Donatellos 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 Hoell 2 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 Donatellos 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 Goliaths 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. Donatellos 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 Hoell 3 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 Donatellos 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 he did the gable relief which is image two on page ten.
The gable relief is the Christ figure holding a book and looking down on the saint. Donatello also did the St. George slaying the Dragon relief at the bottom of the tabernacle. This relief is an example of schacciato (Poeschke p.381). This relief can be seen on page ten, image three. The second period is comprised of the years between 1425-1443.
Works influenced by antiquity can identify this period. During the years 1425-1435, Donatello worked with the Florentine sculptor ,Brunelleschi, and Michelozzo. For example, they worked together for the monument to Bartolomeo Arogazzi, which is located in the Cathedral of Montepuliciano (Blood p.2). The bronze David, completed from 1428-1432, was one of the earliest bronze sculptures. It was the first large scale free standing nude statue of the Renaissance.
It Hoell 4 was made for a private person whose identity is to this date unknown. The Davids recorded history starts with the wedding of Lorenzo the magnificent in 1469. It was placed in the center of the courtyard of Medici palace in Florence. After the expulsion of Medici in 1496, it was then placed in the Palazzo Vecchio (britannica p. 3).
It is the first standing statue since antiquity that was intended to be seen from every angel. Therefore, it was meant to be freestanding since it was first commissioned. For this reason it may be suspected that the courtyard of the Palazzo Medici was its original place. It was later paid for by the city of Florence. It was placed in the Museo Nazionale del Bergello, Florence in 1880(Poeschke p.397).
The Davids physical grace and beauty was one the Renaissances ideals (artchive p.4). The Bay leaves on the hat express romance. He portrays the life of a Shepard because he is facing down which suggest that the sun is beating on him. His pose seems very harmless even though he has a severed head at his feet. The David does not even seem strong enough to lift the sword he has.
The piece represents the classical style but stand our more because of Donatellos modern touches. This work is thought to have influenced Ghilbertis Samson because the two works both have the same body position (Kos p.2). This sculpture differs from other of Donatellos sculptures because he concentrated more on the physical beauty of the piece instead of its bravery (Poeschke p.397). The David is image five on page eleven. A second work done during the second period is the Feast of Herod. This relief technique is called schiacciato, which means flattened out.
Donatello invented this relief technique, which was made extremely shallow carving throughout. It was like the carving was painting on with a chisel. Schiacciato used scientific linear perspective, Hoell 5 which was invented by Brunellischi a few years before (britannica p.2). The Feast of Herod is one of the reliefs completed by Donatello using the method Schiacciato. This relief was completed between 1425-1427.
It was one of two panels ordered from Jacopo della Quercia for the baptismal fonts of Siena Cathedral (artchive p.3). Originally, both reliefs were to be made by Jacopa della Quercia on April 16, 1417. The commission was given to Donatello no later than April, 13 1423. The model for the relief was not completed until the summer of 1425. The relief itself was not finished until April 13, 1427 (Pope-Hennessy p.387).
It was the first relief to be built in accordance with the rules of perspective. For this reason it was noted in the history of art (artchive p.3). This piece also set new standard for a pictorial narrative (Poeschke p. 387). It can be seen on page twelve, image six.
In the third period, which was the time after 1443, Donatello concentrated on realism by portraying character and dramatic action (Blood p.3). During his last years at Padua he remained inactive. He did not accept any offer due to unknown circumstances. Donatello later quoted he almost died among those frogs in Pauda. In 1456, a Florentine physician, Giovanni Chellini, wrote in his account book that he treated the master for a protracted illness.
Between 1450-1455 Donatello only completed two works, St. John the Baptist and Mary Magdalene (britannica p.4). The retired general of the venetian land forces, Erasmo da Narmi, died of a stroke. In his will he left instruction for a monument to be built in his memory. The Venetian Senate gave official orders to build the monument in the soldiers memory.
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