donatello art list
By 1408, Donatello was back in Florence at the workshops of the cathedral. That year, he completed the life-sized marble sculpture, David. The figure follows a Gothic style, popular at the time, with long graceful lines and an expressionless face. The work reflects the influences of sculptors of the time. Technically, it’s very well executed, but it lacks the emotional style and innovative technique that would mark Donatello’s later work. Originally, the sculpture was intended for placement in the cathedral. Instead, however, it was set up in the Palazzo Vecchio (the town hall) as an inspiring symbol of defiance of authority to Florentines, who were engaged in a struggle with the king of Naples at the time.
Born in Florence, Italy, around 1386, sculptor Donatello apprenticed early with well-known sculptors and quickly learned the Gothic style. Before he was 20, he was receiving commissions for his work. Over his career he developed a style of lifelike, highly emotional sculptures and a reputation second only to Michelangelo’s.
Donatello was born Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi and was of humble origins: he was the son of Niccolò di Betto Bardi, a Florentine wool carder. Donatello never married or had children.
Donatello (diminutive of Donato) was the son of Niccolò di Betto Bardi, a Florentine wool carder. It is not known how he began his career, but it seems likely that he learned stone carving from one of the sculptors working for the cathedral of Florence (the Duomo) about 1400. Sometime between 1404 and 1407 he became a member of the workshop of Lorenzo Ghiberti, a sculptor in bronze who in 1402 had won the competition for the doors of the Baptistery. Donatello’s earliest work of which there is certain knowledge, a marble statue of David, shows an artistic debt to Ghiberti, who was then the leading Florentine exponent of International Gothic, a style of graceful, softly curved lines strongly influenced by northern European art. The David, originally intended for the cathedral, was moved in 1416 to the Palazzo Vecchio, the city hall, where it long stood as a civic-patriotic symbol, although from the 16th century on it was eclipsed by the gigantic David of Michelangelo, which served the same purpose. Still partly Gothic in style, other early works of Donatello are the impressive seated marble figure of St. John the Evangelist (1408–15) for the Florence cathedral facade and a wooden crucifix (1406–08) in the church of Santa Croce. The latter, according to an unproved anecdote, was made in friendly competition with Filippo Brunelleschi, a sculptor and a noted architect.
While undertaking study and excavations with 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. 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.
In Florence, Donatello assisted 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. The face, the shoulders and the bust are still idealized, while the hands and the fold of cloth over the legs are more realistic.
Around 1415 Donatello’s full range as an artist began to emerge in two marble statues completed in the same year. His statues of St. Mark and St. George show immense confidence and personality in everything from their attire to their facial expression. Both statues were carved from marble and also informed a series of statues of prophets that would later surround the bell tower of the Duomo. All of these depictions of the prophets are strikingly unique from medieval and ancient portraits of the prophets, with Zuccone being considered the finest and most masterful of the collection.
When Donatello returned to Florence his work had changed, reflecting perhaps his own realization of his mortality. Figures like his statue of Mary Magdalene revealed withered skin and an aging sensibility that seemed to reveal Donatello’s perception of himself.
Donatello 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.  He apparently received his early artistic training in a goldsmith’s workshop, and then worked briefly in the studio of Lorenzo Ghiberti.
In 2020 thanks to Gianluca Amato art historian, who did the doctoral thesis at the University of Naples Federico II on the wooden crucifixes between the late thirteenth and the first half of the sixteenth century, with studies he discovered that the crucifix of the church of Sant’Angelo a Legnaia is of the hand of Donatello. This discovery has been historically evaluated considering that the work belonged to the Compagnia di Sant’Agostino which was based in the oratory adjacent to the mother church of Sant’Angelo a Legnaia. The promoters of the research were Don Moreno Bucalossi and Anna Bisceglia functionary and historian of the art of the superintendence who in 2012 considered the work worthy of study and restoration. Silvia Bensì took care of the restoration that brought the work that has now returned to its home to its former glory.