biography of donatello
In the years between 1415 up to 1426, he was able to complete 5 images for the Duomo (Campanili De Santa Maria Del Fiore), which were as follows (in chronological order): Beardless and Bearded Prophet (1415), Isaac’s Sacrifice (1421), Habakkuk (1423-1425) and the Jeremiah (1423-1426), whose forms mirror models based on orators. His relief version of the Madonna was found was Berlin. He was also noted for making a crucifix intended for the Santa Croce, whose artwork reveals the Savior in torment and pain on the cross.
He was the child of a member of the then guild of Wool Combers in Florence. It was then that he was eventually educated and schooled in the home of the Martellis, where he might have received early art training from a goldsmith, and finally working for a famous metalworker and sculptor’s studio who was none other than Lorenzo Ghiberti.
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Donatello was requested to create many pieces or works, which he often executed with other artists. An unusual work is the Marzocco, the lion of the Florentines, carved in sandstone. It was ordered in 1418 for the papal (of the pope) apartments in Saint Maria Novella (now in the Museo Nazionale). Donatello’s style in relief sculpture reached its height in the bronze Feast of Herod, completed in 1427 for the font in the Baptistery, Siena. Ghiberti, Jacopo della Quercia (c. 1374 – 1438), and other sculptors also executed reliefs for the front of the Baptistery. In Donatello’s very low relief composition he nearly, but purposefully, avoided the accurate construction of one-point architectural perspective.
Bust of Niccolo da Uzzano by Donatello in Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence, Italy.
From 1425 to 1427, Donatello collaborated with Michelozzo on the funerary monument of the 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 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.
The full power of Donatello first appeared in two marble statues, St. Mark and St. George (both completed c. 1415), for niches on the exterior of Orsanmichele, the church of Florentine guilds (St. George has been replaced by a copy; the original is now in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello). Here, for the first time since Classical antiquity and in striking contrast to medieval art, the human body is rendered as a self-activating functional organism, and the human personality is shown with a confidence in its own worth. The same qualities came increasingly to the fore in a series of five prophet statues that Donatello did beginning in 1416 for the niches of the campanile, the bell tower of the cathedral (all these figures, together with others by lesser masters, were later removed to the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo). The statues were of a beardless and a bearded prophet, as well as a group of Abraham and Isaac (1416–21) for the eastern niches; the so-called Zuccone (“Pumpkin,” because of its bald head); and the so-called Jeremiah (actually Habakkuk) for the western niches. The Zuccone is deservedly famous as the finest of the campanile statues and one of the artist’s masterpieces. In both the Zuccone and the Jeremiah (1427–35), their whole appearance, especially highly individual features inspired by ancient Roman portrait busts, suggests Classical orators of singular expressive force. The statues are so different from the traditional images of Old Testament prophets that by the end of the 15th century they could be mistaken for portrait statues.
Donatello continued to explore the possibilities of the new technique in his marble reliefs of the 1420s and early 1430s. The most highly developed of these are The Ascension, with Christ Giving the Keys to St. Peter, which is so delicately carved that its full beauty can be seen only in a strongly raking light; and the Feast of Herod (1433–35), with its perspective background. The large stucco roundels with scenes from the life of St. John the Evangelist (about 1434–37), below the dome of the old sacristy of San Lorenzo, Florence, show the same technique but with colour added for better legibility at a distance.
Also Known As: Donato di Niccolo Bardi
place of death: Florence