pulpit for the cathedral of prato by donatello biography
Next is the Assumption Chapel , which was frescoed in 1435-1436 by the so-called Master of Prato and by a young Paolo Uccello, who painted the Stories of the Virgin and St. Stephen, completed by Andrea di Giusto in the lower section. They show a bizarre fantasy of enchanted figures caught in a wide range of brilliant colors, and surrounded by Brunelleschi-like architectures.
In the main chapel, or chancel, Filippo Lippi and Fra Diamante painted the Stories of St. Stephen and St. John the Baptist .
The frescoes in the choir of the Cathedral in Prato represent a long drawn-out but major effort by the master, and they seem to have been produced slowly and sporadically between 1452 and 1466. The enormous scale of the choir and consequently the painted subjects, a far cry from the intimate frescoes of the Brancacci Chapel, must be taken into account for an effective evaluation. The cycle has been restored recently, revealing powerful yet sensitive images produced with verve and facility during a late period in Lippi’s development.
 Cadogan, 107; Easter Sunday, May 1, August 15 (Feast of the Assumption), September 8, Christmas Day, per Rough Guide to Italy, p. 515, 2003, Rough Guides, ISBN 1843530600, 9781843530602,google link
 Cadogan, 107-11
 Cadogan, 109-11; Borsook
 Groundplan: see bottom left corner
 Cadogan, 111-112, and onwards
 Cassidy (1991), 97 and notes
 Cassidy (1991), 99 note 31
 Borsook, 4
 Cadogan, 111
The Sala del Due-Trecento (lit. “thirteenth-fourteenth century room”), which is decorated with monochrome tempers made by Antonio di Miniato (1387 -1466 circa), hosts several altarpieces and pieces of gold background polyptychs from the fourteenth to the early fifteenth century (made by Giovanni Bonsi, Lorenzo di Niccolò and Giovanni Toscani). Among the most ancient artworks there is a frescoed lunette from the mid-thirteenth century, detached from the side portal of the Duomo, and a vigorous sandstone high relief from the Badia di Montepiano (lit. “abbey of Montepiano”), made by Giroldo di Iacopo di Como probably around 1262, representing the Madonna con bambino in trono fra i Santi Michele arcangelo, Pietro e Paolo (Virgin Mary with Child enthroned among the Saints Michael the Archangel, Peter and Paul).
In the Antiquarium are exhibited finds found during the excavations carried out in the seventies in the area of the Cathedral and the Palazzo Vescovile. The finds include: terracotta slabs, some mosaic floor’s fragments of the ancient Pieve and architectural fragments. This environment was used for burials until the eighteenth century.
The small courtyard that precedes the bishop’s residence provides the entrance to the museum which opened in 1967 in the first two rooms. In 1976 the museum was enlarged to accommodate works from the entire diocese including the prestigious reliefs from the pulpit of Donatello. The collection is set up as a diocesan museum.
18th century monstrance
The cause of Donatello’s death is not widely written about, but it is known that the last years of his life were spent designing twin bronze pulpits for San Lorenzo. He died at the age of 79 or 80.
A good deal is known about Donatello’s life and career, but little is known about his character and personality, and what is known is not wholly reliable. He never married and he seems to have been a man of simple tastes. Patrons often found him hard to deal with in a day when artists’ working conditions were regulated by guild rules. Donatello seemingly demanded a measure of artistic freedom. Although he knew a number of humanists well, the artist was not a cultured intellectual. His humanist friends attest that he was a connoisseur of ancient art. The inscriptions and signatures on his works are among the earliest examples of the revival of Classical Roman lettering. He had a more detailed and wide-ranging knowledge of ancient sculpture than any other artist of his day. His work was inspired by ancient visual examples, which he often daringly transformed. Though he was traditionally viewed as essentially a realist, later research indicates he was much more.
Below the central gable, a decorative clock is set into the façade, in place of a central window. It is surrounded by segments of the contrasting marble and forms part of the harmonious design.
The church of Saint Stephen was built in a green meadow (Prato) after an appearance of the Virgin Mary near the village of Borgo al Cornio (the present center of Prato). The first building was a small parish church. which the earliest document dates from AD 994.