Donatello the Florentine artist

The Florentine artist Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi was one of the most important figure in Italian Renaissance sculpture. He was a creative and outstanding force behind the Florentine Renaissance which inspired most of the Early Renaissance art throughout Italy. He gave rebirth to the art of sculpturing along with other sculptors and artists, like Masaccio were reinventing painting.  He was famous for his shallow relief sculpture which was called basso rilievo. Furthermore, he worked in materials such as bronze, stone and wood. He was also the master of terracotta sculpture since he had a sound knowledge about bronze casting.

He started off his journey by getting trained in goldsmithing before joining the studio of the quattrocento sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455), he helped him complete many statues before starting off as a solo artist. Between 1415 and 1426 he created five statues for Campanile of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence.

The Statue of David

Around 1430, Cosimo de’Medici commissioned a bronze of David for his palace, and since Donatello became increasingly famous at that time his commission was a lot. This was Donatello’s most sculpture which marked the departure of traditional Christian art.  David stands victoriously over the head of the Goliath, while holding the giant’s sword wearing a hat and boots.  It was one of the first nude statues in the era of Renaissance art which shocked and captured the attention of many Florentines with its realism of the nudity. What shocked the people apart from the nudity was that even though David stood with the head of the dead Goliath at his feet, the feminine posture made it close to impossible to believe that he could kill anything let alone a vicious Goliath. David was a young boy and Donatello could not show him to have a muscular body, which is why he gave him a more feminine shape.

Nudity was common in Renaissance sculpture, traditionalists criticized that they felt that it was unnecessary to make David nude. However, people praise his skills in bronze, because it showed the technical aspect and technology of that era; connecting us to history.


Donatello also designed Pope John XXIII tomb since they were good friends. He had a good choice when it came to getting good looking boys as models and as helpers. He was not an arrogant man, who was over drunk with fame and fortune; instead he shared his fame with his assistants. His had a lively and open personality, a man who loved his work far more than anything else in his life. He loved his work so much that if any buyer bargained over his sculptors he would destroy it, literally.

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