what was donatello most famous work of art
The Italian sculptor Donatello (1386-1466) was the greatest Florentine sculptor before Michelangelo and certainly the most influential individual artist of the 15th century in Italy. Nearly every later sculptor and numerous Florentine and Paduan painters were indebted to him.
Bennett, Bonnie A., and David G. Wilkins. Donatello. Mt. Kisco, NY: Moyer Bell, 1984.
The Donatello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) built by the Italian Space Agency, was one of three MPLMs operated by NASA to transfer supplies and equipment to and from the International Space Station. The others were named Leonardo and Raffaello.
Donatello’s return to Florence almost coincided with Cosimo’s. In May 1434, he signed a contract for the marble pulpit on the facade of Prato cathedral, the last project executed in collaboration with Michelozzo. This work, a passionate, pagan, rhythmically conceived bacchanalian dance of half-nude putti, was the forerunner of the great Cantoria, or singing tribune, at the Duomo in Florence on which Donatello worked intermittently from 1433 to 1440 and was inspired by ancient sarcophagi and Byzantine ivory chests. In 1435, he executed the Annunciation for the Cavalcanti altar in Santa Croce, inspired by 14th-century iconography, and in 1437–1443, he worked in the Old Sacristy of the San Lorenzo in Florence, on two doors and lunettes portraying saints, as well as eight stucco tondoes. From 1438 is the wooden statue of St. John the Baptist for Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice. Around 1440, he executed a bust of a Young Man with a Cameo now in the Bargello, the first example of a lay bust portrait since the classical era.
For some, it is the piece of rupture with the classic naturalist style that characterized the artist during his beginnings, it could be said that it was his approach to the Baroque and incursion to the Mannerist aesthetic style. The figure was made of polychrome wood to represent a deeply dramatic Mary Magdalene submerged in an ascetic life of redemption, her appearance, emaciated, almost ragged and old, is denoted by a number of folds whose anamorphosis generates a demarcated play of light and shades.
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.
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.
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.
By this time, Donatello was gaining a reputation for creating imposing, larger-than-life figures using innovative techniques and extraordinary skills. His style incorporated the new science of perspective, which allowed the sculptor to create figures that occupied measurable space. Before this time, European sculptors used a flat background upon which figures were placed. Donatello also drew heavily from reality for inspiration in his sculptures, accurately showing suffering, joy and sorrow in his figures’ faces and body positions.
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.