Donatello WikipediaThe Donatello Wikipedia
The Donatello - Wikipedia
The Wikipedia, the enciclopedia libera. Mm-hmm. Donatello, actually Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi (Florence, 1386 - Florence, 13 December 1466), was an Italian sculptor, painter and goldsmith. His family was modest: his father, restless, led a turbulent life, having participated first in the Ciompi revolt of 1378 and then in other actions against Florence, which condemned him to death and then awarded him an amnesty, a very different character from his son, so small, elegant, elegant and delicate that he was caressed with the name Donatello.
According to Vasari, the young man was brought up in Roberto Martelli's house. The first documented mention dates back to 1401, when Pistoia was reported to have beaten a German named Anichinus Pieri for the unworthy fact that he caused serious injuries. From 1402 to 1404 he was in Rome with Brunelleschi, about ten years older than him, to study "the old".
Donatello had already returned to Florence in 1404 to work in the workshop of Lorenzo Ghiberti on the production of wax models for the northern door of the Baptistery until 1407. Donatello's first artistic works revolved around the two largest sculptural decoration sites in Florence at the time: the Cathedral, especially the façade and door of the Mandorla, and the niches of Orsanmichele.
One of them is today mostly attributed to Nanni di Banco, with whom Donatello could have entered into an artistic partnership that would also collect his work, which is anything but unusual in the workshops of the time. Donatello reacted in his Evangelist to late Gothic Mannerism, not only by reconnecting himself with the noble serenity of the ancient statues, but also by searching for passages of authentic humanity and truth: the face of the saint with the wavy forehead (perhaps of a head of Capitol Jupiter) was still based on idealization, the shoulders and the bust were simplified geometrically according to a semi-circular cap, in the lower parts of the figure stylization reacted to the advantage of more naturalness:
Today, because of its dramatic expressiveness, it belongs to the works of his youth, which were created between 1406 and 1408 after his trip to Rome in 1402-1404. Brunelleschi, challenged to do better, modelled the crucifix of Santa Maria Novella, which was placed after a studied gravitation, at the sight of which Donatello was so impressed that he dropped the eggs he carried on his lap.
The Christ of Donatello is built by emphasizing the suffering and human truth of the subject, perhaps in accordance with the demands of Franciscan patrons. From 1411 he worked on the decoration of the niches of the church of Orsanmichele and created two statues, the San Marco (1411-1413) and the San Giorgio (1415-1417), for as many works of art of Florence, which had the task to provide the outside decoration with statues of their patron saints.
Donatello is also called St. Peter's by Vasari, but stylistic dissonances today tend to attribute the work to Filippo Brunelleschi. Clearly, the force permeated by appearance and probability without stiffness is one of the most popular features of Donatello's art. In the relief at the tabernacle foot of St. George Donatello included the first known example of a stacciato and the oldest representation of a background set according to the rules of central perspective with a single vanishing point theorized by Brunelleschi around 1416.
But for Brunelleschi, if perspective was simply a way of organizing space around the figures, for Donatello, who centers the vanishing point on the Saint George figures, it is a way of emphasizing the center of action, as if it were the figures themselves who created the space. It was destined for the tabernacle of the Welfen Party, then ceded to the Commercial Court, which deposited there the unbelief of St. Thomas of Verrocchio, but the niche of the Corinthian Order is the original of Donatello and Help, among them probably Michelozzo.
The work, which is not particularly loved by critics from Vasari onwards, is important for the restoration of the lost wax technique, which Donatello used here for the first time in a large work, although he carefully created several individual pieces and then assembled them. Over time, the use of this technique for Donatello became ever greater and became almost exclusively in the years of maturity.
From 1415, immediately after the end of St. Mark's Square for Orsanmichele, Donatello was again commissioned by the Opera del Duomo to take part in the sculptural design of Giotto's bell tower, which at that time had reached the niches of the third level. In 1408 Nanni di Bartolo, Donatello's collaborator, had already carved (no longer identifiable) a bearded prophet for whom the next statue was entrusted to Donatello and who was the Beardless Prophet (1416-1418), followed by the Thoughtful Prophet and the Sacrifice of Isaac (1421).
These works show how Donatello was inclined to emphasize in his sculptures a strong realism and a deep expressive intensity, as well as his mastery of optical techniques to emphasize from below the statues that were at considerable height. Donatello, who today is in full artistic achievement, has created two masterpieces for this site, such as the Zuccone (the prophet Abacuc, of 1423) and the Geremia (of 1427).
Donatello carried out an extraordinary psychological penetration in these statues, both in the extremely expressive faces and in the posture of the body, underlined by a deep and majestic drapery for one, moved and alive for the other, emphasizing her inner torments. Even in the figure of the Florentine heraldic animal Donatello, who experimented here with the sculpture of piezoserena, he could attain great majesty through the chiaroscuro effects on his contracted face and through the calm and solemn gesture of placing his foot on the shield.
In 1423, while working on the prophet for the bell tower, Donatello received his first important commission outside Florence, which together with six other artists, including Lorenzo Ghiberti and Jacopo da Quercia, called on him to help design the baptismal font in the baptismal font of Siena. Around 1426 Donatello cast the bronze tombstone of Giovanni Pecci for the Cathedral of Siena.
Back in Florence, in 1424-1427, he created the San Rossore reliquary, a gilded bronze work that revolutionised the medieval tradition of relics and created a true portrait of "Roman style", with strong and individual characteristics and a meticulous workmanship that is evident in the attention to detail such as the hair, the beard, the textures of the fabrics and the armour soldier.
In 1425 the workshop association between Donatello and Michelozzo began, which lasted almost throughout the 1930s, with a series of important works created in collaboration. Emilozzo was about ten years younger than Donatello and was a good sculptor and architect, while Donatello was already an undisputed master of sculpture.
Michelozzo also had a less stormy character than his colleague, which is why he used to devote himself to solving everyday problems relating to social aspects. Michelozzo filed a tax return for himself and for Donatello in the land register of 1427: the document reveals the age of the sculptor (41 years) and facts of his private life as the information that he lived with his mother, sister and son and that he was two years late to pay the rent.
From 1425 to 1427 Donatello collaborated with Michelozzo on the tomb monument of antipope Giovanni XXIII, then Baldassarre Coscia, in the Baptistery (1425-1427); Donatello is certainly the bronze figure of the deceased, which lies under a shell containing a Madonna with Child, the upper part is framed by an open canopy, while below is a plate with reliefs of winged geniuses and the name and accusations of the deceased, even more so among three reliefs representing the virtues.
The monuments to Cardinal Rainal Rainaldo Brancaccio (by sea to the Church of Sant'Angelo in Nilo in Naples) and to Bartolomeo Aragazzi in the Cathedral of Montepulciano (preserved only in fragments) also date from this period. In July 1428, Donatello and Michelozzo received another important order for the construction of the external pulpit for the Cathedral of Prato, which would be used for the public exhibition of the Relic of the Holy Trail.
A first contract was signed by Michelozzo on behalf of both, and the work was to be completed within fifteen months, a clause which, despite repeated protests from the contracting authorities, was largely exceeded until most of the 1930s. Meanwhile there is an almost unanimous tendency to assign Michelozzo the entire architectural part and Donatello the relief of the dancing cherubs, at least in the drawing, because the sculpture is not always in the hand of the master and was probably created with the help of various aids.
During this long period the two artists were also busy with numerous other tasks and also found time for a long journey to Rome. In the autumn of 1432 Donatello was safe in the papal city when a letter was sent to him to persuade him to return to the patrons of Prato. In Rome, Donatello and Michelozzo certainly worked on at least two works: the tombstone of Giovanni Crivelli in Santa Maria in Aracoeli (1432) and the Tabernacle of the Sacrament (1432-1433), which is now in the sacristy of the charity events in San Pietro in the Vatican.
Recently (2005) is the discovery and presentation of another Roman work, the Madonna with Two Crowns and Cherubim, which was supposed to be the fragment of a lunette from the tomb of Saint Catherine of Siena in the St. Maria Minerva church, in which several artists worked. Donatello returned to Florence in May 1433, threatened with a fine, and devoted himself to numerous incomplete works, including the prophets of the bell tower.
The reliefs of the pulpit date back to the time after the journey (a new treaty was signed specifically in 1434) and contain elements of early Christian and Romanesque tradition, such as the mosaic background. The frenetic scenes of the dancing cherubs were probably inspired by ancient sarcophagi with Dionysian scenes (two fragments, perhaps studied by Donatello, are now in the Uffizi), but they also had a biblical value in illustrating Psalms 148-150, where they invite us to praise God through choirs and children's dances.
The reliefs were mounted in the summer of 1438 and in September the payment was made to Donatello. In the 1940s he became the architect of Cosimo il Vecchio; for Donatello, on the other hand, the long period of apotheosis of his artistic creativity was uninterrupted.
After his return from Rome, Donatello also signed a new contract (dated 10 July 1433) with the Opera del Duomo to design one of the two cantories (the first was assigned to Luca Robbia). This organ balcony, located above the door of the Sacristy of Cannons in the southeast corner of the cruise, was not completed until 1438 and is a new masterpiece.
The work marks a departure from Donatello's solemn and dynamic customary style, who created here a scene of great sweetness and modest beauty. The Old Sacristy was the private burial chapel of the Medici in the fifteenth century, built by Filippo Brunelleschi between 1421 and 1428 and decorated by Donatello from 1428-29.
Donatello was the first who perhaps carved the rounds of the stories of Saint John the Evangelist. It was not until 1434, after the death of Giovanni di Bicci and the return of Donatello from Rome and Cosimo de' Medici from exile in Padua, that the sculptor resumed the work that was to be completed in 1439, when the chapel was the scene of important religious ceremonies, and in any case in 1443, the year of Donatello's departure for Padua, was completed.
Donatello's works in the sacristy were certainly eight monumental medallions of colorful plaster (diameter 215 cm, at that time only comparable with the large windows of the basilicas), with the stories of the evangelist John, patron saint of the chapel (Resurrection of Drusiana, Brunelleschi was not satisfied with Donatello's work about his sacristy: They were to have an effect on the decorative essence that he promoted, which he would not even have liked to have been asked for: it was the end of friendship and cooperation between the two geniuses of the early Renaissance.
Donatello's work was also criticized for its "excessive" expressiveness by Filarete, who, in a passage of the treatise on architecture (1461-1464), advised against turning apostles like Donatello in the door of the San Lorenzo sacristy into figures "who seem like fencers". Donatello, David, 1440 circa. Mm-hmm. This work was perhaps commissioned by Cosimo de' Medici (who returned to Florence in 1434) for the courtyard of the Medici Palace and was intended to represent both the biblical heroic symbol of bourgeois virtues and the god Mercury, who contemplates the severed head of Argus.
Here Donatello interpreted the human figure intellectually and ingeniously, the frieze with cherubs from Goliath's helmet perhaps comes from a cameo from the Medici collections. Perhaps the bust of a young man with Cameo, now on the Bargello, dates from that time. During this time Donatello showed a predilection for bronze, which later, especially in the time of Padua, became more and more noticeable.
Several works will be placed in the time immediately before departure to Padua. Among these, Saint John the Baptist is the only one for the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice who dates with relative certainty to the discovery of the date 1438 during the restoration, but his style is very unusual for this period, with a strong expressiveness associated with the works of high age as penance Magdalene.
During this period the bust portrait of Niccolò da Uzzano in Bargello and the Madonna with Child and the Madonna Piot, two works in terra cotta in the Louvre, are mentioned. Padua, Basilica Sant'Antonio, Altare del Santo. In 1443 Donatello travelled to Padua, where he stayed for a whole decade and created some of his absolute masterpieces.
The sculptor was invited by Mr Oscar to create a statue of the late leader Matamelata, although modern critics tend to commission the famous equestrian statue a little later, around 1446. The reasons why Donatello left are not clear, but in 1443 he was still forced to leave his Florentine workshop, located in the Medici quarter, where the Medici Palace was to be built, which required its demolition.
The hypothesis that Donatello had moved in exile at the invitation of the wealthy Florentine banker Palla Strozzi is not supported by any evidence. Padua was certainly more provincial in artistic terms than Florence then, but it housed a large university that had already developed a surprising modernity by the end of the 14th century that immediately accepted the demands of Florentine humanism.
Giotto, another Florentine, had left his masterpiece, the Scrovegni Chapel, in the city a century earlier, and during the period closest to Donatello, between the 1930s and 1940s many Tuscan artists were active in the Venetian city: Filippo Lippi (1434-1437), Paolo Uccello (1445) and the sculptor Niccolò Baroncelli (1434-1443).
Donatello's first undoubtedly documented work in Padua is the Crucifix of the Sacred Basilica, a monumental bronze work which today forms part of the altar of saints in the Sant'Antonio da Padova church, but which was conceived as a work in its own right at the time. In 1444 the wax for the model was bought and in 1449 the last payment for the work was paid.
Meanwhile Donatello also worked on the fence of the choir. The original architectural structure of the very important complex, which was demolished in 1579, has been lost, and since Donatello has defined with the utmost attention the relationships between the figures, the space and the viewer's point of view, it is clear that this is a considerable loss.
In the stone deposition, perhaps for the back of the altar, Donatello reworked the old model of Meleager's death; the space is abolished and only the sarcophagus and a single screen with painful figures remain of the composition, angered by facial expressions and angry gestures in their facial features, with a dynamic accentuated by the contrasts of the lines that produce particularly acute angles.
The bronze works were completed in 1453. Before it began, it needed the approval of the Venetian Senate, since it was designed as a cenotaph, i.e. a funeral monument without the remains of the leader, to celebrate the glory of the dead. There is no precedent for this type of monument: the equestrian statues of the fourteenth century, none in bronze, which usually stood over the tombs; there are precedents in painting, including the Guidoriccio da Fogliano by Simone Martini and the Giovanni Acuto by Paolo Uccello, but Donatello probably more than inspired by these classic models:
the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius in Rome, the Regisole, from which he was inspired for the static, and the horses of St. Mark, from which he resumed the path of the horse, which advances in step with the snout pointing downwards. The work, which stands on a high basis, idealises the human figure; in fact, it is not a portrait of the life of the old man who was ill before his death, but an ideal reconstruction, inspired by Roman portrait painting, but with a precise physiognomic identification, certainly not by chance.
Donatello left Padua at the end of 1453 and returned to Florence in 1454. The return to Florence was not easy, because during his absence the dominant taste had developed and had become unwilling towards his art. But Donatello was an artist outside the fashion of the time and continued to move outside the paths of stylistic convention.
Between 1453 and 1455, he created the Magdalena penance, a wooden work of the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, exemplary for the demoulding of the forms of Donatello's last period, for an expressionist overcoming of classicism, the main representative of which was Donatello in his youth. The statue that was begun for the Cathedral of Siena was placed in the garden of the Medici Palace in Via Larga, finally in the Palace Vecchio, after the sack of the Palace after the second expulsion of the Medici.
Perhaps it was commissioned by Piero de' Medicis, known as il Gottoso, in memory of Cosimo il Vecchio. The work is signed OPUS DONATELLI FLO[RENTINI] on the pillow, rotated in relation to the base so that their angles do not coincide, creating a movement effect. Perhaps the sarcophagus of Niccolò and Fioretta Martelli in San Lorenzo, Florence, also dates from this period.
In 1457 Donatello moved to Siena, probably with the idea of settling there permanently to spend his years in old age. Here he was probably entrusted with the task of creating the bronze doors for the cathedral (perhaps this is proof of the mourning of Christ through the Victoria and Albermuseum), but even in this case the contract had to escape and the sculptor went back to Florence in 1459 disappointed or tired.
The extent to which this is Donatello's conscious work is not known, but in other works attributed to the master (such as the lament of London) it is a fact and fits perfectly with the raw emotions and expressiveness of the scenes of the artist's final phase. According to the archetype of the artist's life, Donatello is said to have spent his last days alone, abandoned by the artistic fortune and tempted by age and illness.
Donatello could not work during the last years of his life and remained nailed to bed. He was buried in the cellar of the San Lorenzo church, near Cosimo il Vecchio, in a unique and prestigious position under the altar. The remuneration he received for his work indicates that he had made large profits during his lifetime, and it also seems that Cosimo de' Medici had granted him a lifelong pension at the end of his life.
But during the second decade, Donatello developed innovations that revolutionized the technique of surveying and seemed amazing to his contemporaries. Donatello's reliefs also contain the first coherent application of the central perspective, the discovery of which is attributed to Brunelleschi (around 1416), but to which Donatello may have contributed.
According to Brunelleschi's biographer Antonio Manetti, the two artists visited Rome together, and here, together, on striped paper, they transformed countless architectures into drawings that were initially only comprehensible to Filippo. Donatello's rapid learning, however, is evidenced by the youthful relief of San Giorgio liberala la prinessa (around 1417), which for the first time, long before the works of Masaccio and Paolo Uccello, shows the innovations of linear perspective with a central vanishing point.
One difference between Donatello and other perspective "obsessed" artists such as Paolo Uccello was that he could restrict himself according to the task at hand and choose his own means of expression if necessary. This results in the extraordinary diversity of Donatello's works, in which repetitions and simple variations of successful schemes are completely absent.
No couple in the tiles of the martyr's door or the apostles resembles another and even in the most crowded scenes, such as the miracles of the altar of Saint Anthony of Padua, the hundreds of people are always different and often without model. So Vasari has no doubt that Donatello has raised relief art to a new level, and modern art historiography considers this judgment still valid.
He was a contemporary of Cosimo il Vecchio, who, like him, reached a venerable age that died in 1464, only two years before the great sculptor. When Donatello, the son of a cartographer, succeeded in entering into the graces of such a rich and powerful man as Cosimo, this is clear proof of how much social prestige an affirmed artist could achieve in Florence in the 15th century.
Strangely enough, no direct document on Donatello's commissions from Cosimo or his family has survived, but many of his sculptural works are certainly the result of the patronage of the Medici House. Among them are certainly some relief plates, the decorations of the Old Sacristy, David, Judith and Holofernes, the pulpit of San Lorenzo.
It seems that Cosimo remembered Donatello on his deathbed and gave him a country estate near Cafaggiolo. However, he was not very interested in rural life and asked Mr. de' Medici to resume the gift, which was accepted with fun and converted to a weekly life annuity.
Known from the earliest theorists as one of the fathers of the "rebirth" of the arts in the fifteenth century, Donatello was the first to succeed in resembling the great sculptors of antiquity according to the historical scheme (fashionable for many centuries) that saw the Middle Ages as a time of artistic decline. Already in 1481 Cristoforo Landino in the Apologia Donatello equated Donatello with the elders and Giorgio Vasari in the two editions of le Vite (1550 and 1568) emphasized that his work was more similar to the Roman artists than to those of the other masters who stood immediately before them.
Late works, with their raw and expressive style, were criticised in the 16th century, only to be gradually re-evaluated in the 20th century. But Vasari, who wrote Donatello's biography and the catalogue of his works, already made several mistakes that layered over time. There are some portraits of Donatello, which are essentially based on the wooden painting of the five fathers of perspective (around 1470), already attributed to Paolo Uccello and kept in the Louvre in Paris.
Donatello is depicted alongside Giotto, Paolo Uccello, Antonio Manetti and Filippo Brunelleschi with a longer white beard on his goatee and a turban later reproduced in the engravings for the 1568 edition of Vasari's Life and in the portrait for the 17th-century Gioviana series.
There is also a possible early portrait of Donatello in the Brancacci Chapel, especially in the fresco of St. Peter's Healing with Shadows Massacre (1425-1427), where he would be the bearded figure next to a portrait of Lorenzo Ghiberti with Peter's left hands connected. In the same fresco, a figure with a white beard behind Peter resembles the posthumous portrait of Donatello, but it does not correspond to the age the master must have had at the time.
Caglioti, Donatello and the Medici. Catalogue for the exhibition Homage to Donatello 1386-1986, Florence 1985. Detailed information about the most important works of art, on donatello.historiaweb.net. Encyclopedia Treccani, on treccani.it. Donatello, in Dizionario biografico degli italieni, Rom, Istituto dell' enciclopedia Italiana.