donatello artwork start to finish
Donatello was commissioned to make a marble statue of David, victorious after his battle with Goliath, twice in his career. Donatello was first commissioned to carve a statue of David in 1408. The commission came from the operai of the cathedral of Florence, who intended to decorate the buttresses of the tribunes of the cathedral with 12 statues of prophets. The marble David is Donatello’s earliest known important commission, and it is a work closely tied to tradition, giving few signs of the innovative approach to representation that the artist would develop as he matured.
Donatello (Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi; c. 1386 – December 13, 1466) was a famous early Renaissance Italian artist and sculptor from Florence. He is, in part, known for his work in bas-relief, a form of shallow relief sculpture that, in Donatello’s case, incorporated significant 15th century developments in perspectival illusionism.
In 1443, Donatello was called to the city of Padua by the family of the famous mercenary Erasmo da Narni, who had died earlier that year. In 1450, Donatello completed a bronze statue called Gattamelata, showing Erasmo riding a horse in full battle dress, minus a helmet. This was the first equestrian statue cast in bronze since the Romans. The sculpture created some controversy, as most equestrian statues were reserved for rulers or kings, not mere warriors. This work became the prototype for other equestrian monuments created in Italy and Europe in the following centuries.
Donatello had nurtured a close and lucrative relationship with Cosimo de’ Medici in Florence. In 1430, the eminent art patron commissioned Donatello to do another statue of David, this time in bronze. This is probably Donatello’s most famous work. The sculpture is fully independent from any architectural surroundings that might support it. Standing a little over five feet tall, David represents an allegory of civic virtue triumphing over brutality and irrationality.
A pictorial tendency in sculpture had begun with Ghiberti’s narrative relief panels for the north door of the Baptistery, in which he extended the apparent depth of the scene by placing boldly rounded foreground figures against more delicately modeled settings of landscape and architecture. Donatello invented his own bold new mode of relief in his marble panel St. George Killing the Dragon (1416–17, base of the St. George niche at Orsanmichele). Known as schiacciato (“flattened out”), the technique involved extremely shallow carving throughout, which created a far more-striking effect of atmospheric space than before. The sculptor no longer modeled his shapes in the usual way but rather seemed to “paint” them with his chisel. A blind man could “read” a Ghiberti relief with his fingertips; a schiacciato panel depends on visual rather than tactile perceptions and thus must be seen.
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.
Between 1415 and 1426, Donatello created five statues for the campanile of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, also known as the Duomo. These works are the Beardless Prophet; Bearded Prophet (both from 1415); the Sacrifice of Isaac (1421); Habbakuk (1423–25); and Jeremiah (1423–26); which follow the classical models for orators and are characterized by strong portrait details. From the late teens is the Pazzi Madonna relief in Berlin. In 1425, he executed the notable Crucifix for Santa Croce; this work portrays Christ in a moment of the agony, eyes and mouth partially opened, the body contracted in an ungraceful posture.
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.
Niccolo da Uzzano was an important figure in Florentine politics in the early decades of the 15th century, who acted as a respected intermediary figure between the city’s powerful rival families. Donatello produced the bust (although its authorship is sometimes contested) soon after Uzzano’s death in 1433. It was the first half-bust of a private citizen produced since antiquity.
Donatello’s project contrasted greatly with della Robbia’s. Whereas della Robbia’s divided the cantoria’s panels into separate scenes illustrating the different verses of Psalm 150, Donatello’s consisted of a continuous narrative that flowed around the three visible sides of the loft. This resulted in a sense of animation and movement for the viewer. What also made his work innovative was its inspiration taken directly from the classical friezes and ancient sarcophagi he had encountered in Rome.