Bust of Niccolo da Uzzano by Donatello in Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence, Italy.
Some have perceived the David as having homo-erotic qualities, and have argued that this reflected the artist’s own orientation.  The historian Paul Strathern makes the claim that Donatello made no secret of his homosexuality, and that his behaviour was tolerated by his friends.  The main evidence comes from anecdotes by Angelo Poliziano in his “Detti piacevoli“, where he writes about Donatello surrounding himself with “handsome assistants” and chasing in search of one that had fled his workshop.  This may not be surprising in the context of attitudes prevailing in the 15th- and 16th-century Florentine republic. However, little detail is known with certainty about his private life, and no mention of his sexuality has been found in the Florentine archives (in terms of denunciations)  albeit which during this period are incomplete. 
Around 1425, Donatello entered into a partnership with Italian sculptor and architect Michelozzo, who also studied with Lorenzo Ghiberti. Donatello and Michelozzo traveled to Rome, where they produced several architectural-sculptural tombs, including the tomb of Antipope John XXIII and the tomb of Cardinal Brancacci. These innovations in burial chambers would influence many later Florentine tombs.
By 1455, Donatello had returned to Florence and completed Magdalene Penitent, a statue of a gaunt-looking Mary Magdalene. Commissioned by the convent at Santa Maria di Cestello, the work was probably intended to provide comfort and inspiration to the repentant prostitutes at the convent. Donatello continued his work taking on commissions from wealthy patrons of the arts. His lifelong friendship with the Medici family earned him a retirement allowance to live on the rest of his life. He died of unknown causes on December 13, 1466, in Florence and was buried in the Basilica of San Lorenzo, next to Cosimo de’ Medici. An unfinished work was faithfully completed by his student Bertoldo di Giovanni.
Donatello was a very prolific sculptor whose works included: St. Mark and St. George (c. 1415), two separate sculptures commissioned for the niches of Orasanmichele; David (undated), the first large-scale freestanding nude sculpture since antiquity; the so-called Gattamelata (1447–53), an influential equestrian monument; and St. Mary Magdalene (c. 1450–55).
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.
Donatello’s earliest works were developed in the context of the two most important projects in the city at the time – both the Cathedral and Orsanmichele (a granary turned church) were being decorated with numerous sculptures. These works can be found at the Orsanmichele museum (upstairs), the Bargello Museum, and the Opera del Duomo museum (see below).
Donatello was born in 1386 (most likely) in Florence. His father, a restless man with a tumultuous life, was a member of the Wool Combers’ Guild. His initial training was as a goldsmith, where he apprenticed with Lorenzo Ghiberti, goldsmith and sculptor.
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