what artwork did donatello make contributing to the renaissance
During his partnership with Michelozzo, Donatello carried out independent commissions of pure sculpture, including several works of bronze for the baptismal font of San Giovanni in Siena. The earliest and most important of these was the Feast of Herod (1423-27), an intensely dramatic relief with an architectural background that first displayed Donatello’s command of scientific linear perspective, which Brunelleschi had invented only a few years earlier. To the Siena font Donatello also contributed two statuettes of Virtues, austerely beautiful figures whose style points toward the Virgin and angel of the Santa Croce Annunciation, and three nude putti, or child angels (one of which was stolen and is now in the Berlin museum). These putti, evidently influenced by Etruscan bronze figurines, prepared the way for the bronze David , the first large-scale, free-standing nude statue of the Renaissance. Well-proportioned and superbly poised, it was conceived independently of any architectural setting. Its harmonious calm makes it the most classical of Donatello’s works. The statue was undoubtedly done for a private patron, but his identity is in doubt. Its recorded history begins with the wedding of Lorenzo the Magnificent in 1469, when it occupied the centre of the courtyard of the Medici palace in Florence. After the expulsion of the Medici in 1496, the statue was placed in the courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio.
Saint John the Baptist (1547) This is a late work, made in Florence in 1457 and brought to Siena once it was finished. It is very similar in style and feeling to the Mary Magdalene now in the Opera del Duomo museum in Florence. The thin figure of Saint John exudes drama with his haggard face, sunken eyes, protruding veins, and bristly hair and beard. His half-open mouth and stunned, fixed stare give evidence of his deep suffering.
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.
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 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).
Meanwhile, Donatello had also become a major sculptor in bronze. His earliest such work was the more than life-size statue of St. Louis of Toulouse (c. 1423) for a niche at Orsanmichele (replaced a half-century later by Verrocchio’s bronze group of Christ and the doubting Thomas). About 1460 the St. Louis was transferred to Santa Croce and is now in the museum attached to the church. Early scholars had an unfavourable opinion of St. Louis, but later opinion held it to be an achievement of the first rank, both technically and artistically. The garments completely hide the body of the figure, but Donatello successfully conveyed the impression of harmonious organic structure beneath the drapery. Donatello had been commissioned to do not only the statue but the niche and its framework. The niche is the earliest to display Brunelleschi’s new Renaissance architectural style without residual Gothic forms. Donatello could hardly have designed it alone; Michelozzo, a sculptor and architect with whom he entered into a limited partnership a year or two later, may have assisted him. In the partnership, Donatello contributed only the sculptural centre for the fine bronze effigy on the tomb of the schismatic antipope John XXIII in the Baptistery; the relief of the Assumption of the Virgin on the Brancacci tomb in Sant’Angelo a Nilo, Naples; and the balustrade reliefs of dancing angels on the outdoor pulpit of the Prato Cathedral (1433–38). Michelozzo was responsible for the architectural framework and the decorative sculpture. The architecture of these partnership projects resembles that of Brunelleschi and differs sharply from that of comparable works done by Donatello alone in the 1430s. All of his work done alone shows an unorthodox ornamental vocabulary drawn from both Classical and medieval sources and an un-Brunelleschian tendency to blur the distinction between the architectural and the sculptural elements. Both the Annunciation tabernacle in Santa Croce and the Cantoria (the singer’s pulpit) in the Duomo (now in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo) show a vastly increased repertory of forms derived from ancient art, the harvest of Donatello’s long stay in Rome (1430–33). His departure from the standards of Brunelleschi produced an estrangement between the two old friends that was never repaired. Brunelleschi even composed epigrams against Donatello.
Artist, Sculptor & Artistic Innovator
In 1443, Donatello went to Padua to construct a bronze equestrian statue of a famous, recently-deceased Venetian condottiere, Erasmo da Narmi. The pose and the powerful style of the piece would influence equestrian monuments for centuries to come. Upon returning to Florence, Donatello discovered that a new generation of sculptors had overtaken the Florentine art scene with excellent marble works. His heroic style had been eclipsed in his home city, but he still received commissions from outside Florence, and he remained fairly productive until he died at about aged eighty.
Later in his career, Donatello created the Equestrian Monument to Gattamelata (1445-1450) in Padua. This monument is another example of naturalism. In making people and animals that were true to life, Donatello broke from the Gothic style of Mannerism. One of his final projects was a statue of the penitent Mary Magdalene, also for the Baptistery.
Two of Donatello’s early works were statues of St. Mark and St. George finished around 1413. St. Mark is a statue occupying one of two niches outside the Orsanmichele church in Florence. The other statue is St. George, which was eventually replaced by a copy in the Orsanmichele church. The original of St. George now resides in Italy’s Museo Nazionale de Barge. Donatello also completed a statue of St. Louis of Toulouse for the same church.