what is donatello most famous artwork
On Donatello’s death on December 13, 1466, two unfinished bronze pulpits (platforms for preaching) were left in Saint Lorenzo, Florence. On one are relief panels, showing the torture and murder of Christ by means of distorted forms and wildly emotional actions. Finished by his pupil Bertoldo di Giovanni, the pulpit scenes reveal the great master’s insight into human suffering and his exploration of the dark realms of man’s experience.
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Another of the spectacular statues created for Orsanmichele, was the first to be completed in response to one of the most powerful guilds of Renaissance Florence, the Gremio de la Lana, the image integrates the fourteen elaborated for the exterior niches of the church, today day is preserved inside, while a copy replaces it in its original place. The pattern of the spinners is shown as a wise evangelist sculpted with classicist techniques and Gothic remembrances.
His affiliation with the trade dates from very young, he was referenced in the workshop of the Cathedral of Florence in 1407. In the time elapsed between 1410 and 1436 he created his famous series of statues that leave exposed his genius and natural domain of the trade, a monumental cantoria of figures loaded with great levels of difficulty and naturalism, all destined to decorate the niches of Orsanmichele and the cathedral of Florence.
When Cosimo was exiled from Florence, Donatello went to Rome, remaining until 1433. The two works that testify to his presence in this city, the Tomb of Giovanni Crivelli at Santa Maria in Aracoeli, and the Ciborium at St. Peter’s Basilica, bear a strong stamp of classical influence.
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. 
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 (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.
Donatello, the early Italian Renaissance sculptor, was born Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi in Florence, Italy, sometime in 1386. His friends and family gave him the nickname “Donatello.” He was the son of Niccolo di Betto Bardi, a member of the Florentine Wool Combers Guild. This gave young Donatello status as the son of a craftsman and placed him on a path of working in the trades. Donatello was educated at the home of the Martellis, a wealthy and influential Florentine family of bankers and art patrons closely tied to the Medici family. It was here that Donatello probably first received artistic training from a local goldsmith. He learned metallurgy and the fabrication of metals and other substances. In 1403, he apprenticed with Florence metalsmith and sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti. A few years later, Ghiberti was commissioned to create the bronze doors for the Baptistery of the Florence Cathedral, beating out rival artist Filippo Brunelleschi. Donatello assisted Ghiberti in creating the cathedral doors.
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.