Born: 1386, Florence, Italy Died: December 13, 1466, Florence, Italy Full Name: Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi Periods: Italian Renaissance, Renaissance
Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi, commonly known as Donatello was an early Renaissance sculptor. He was famous for his work in bas-relief(a form of shallow relief sculpture). He was also significant for perspective illusionism.
Donatello’s father was Niccolò di Betto Bardi, a member of the Florentine Wool Combers Guild. Donatello was born in 1386 in Florence. He got his early education from Martelli family. He learned his early artistic training from Goldsmith’s workshop. He was studying under Filippo Brunelleschi in Rome from 1404 -1407.
Donatello went back to Florence in 1408. He also completed the life-sized sculpture, David. That sculpture had the Gothic style and expressionless face, common in that time. After that Donatello developed himself so much and established a style of his own. His sculpture became much more emotional and lifelike. He then worked at the St. Mark sculpture of the Orsanmichele Church. He made the statue of the seated St. John the Evangelist for the cathedral in Florence. This statue was made of marble. These works were much away from the Gothic style and more like classical technique. Donatello’s developing techniques made him famous. His styles introduced a new science of perspective. So that the sculptor was able to make sculptures with measurable space. Donatello also used reality to make his sculptures more lifelike with showing emotions and body positions. He then began to work with the famous sculptor and architect Michelozzo in 1425. With Michelozzo, Donatello traveled to Rome and created many architecturally famous tombs and sculptures. The tomb of Antipope John XXIII and the tomb of Cardinal Brancacci was also made by them. Donatello had a close relation with Cosimo de’ Medici in Florence. Donatello did his most famous job in 1430 when the eminent art patron commissioned to do another sculpture of David with bronze. In 1443 he completed the bronze statue name Gattamelata. This was the statue of a famous mercenary Erasmo da Narni riding a horse in full battle dress. This statue created some controversy. Because most of the statue of that time was of rulers or kings. This was the beginning of many other equestrian sculptures built in Italy and Europe.
In 1455, Donatello returned to Florence and completed the Magdalene Penitent. This was a gaunt-looking statue of Mary Magdalene commissioned by the convent at Santa Maria di Castello for providing the comfort and inspiration to the repentant prostitutes. Donatello’s relation with Medici family earned him a retirement allowance. This great sculptor died on December 13, 1466, in Florence. The cause of death was unknown like many other famous Renaissance artists.