Donato di Donatello

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Donato di Donatello Donatello was one of the greatest sculptors of all time. His real name was Donato de Betto di Bardi. Donatello was born in Florence in 1386 and died at 1466. He grew up being called Donatello, which means “Little Donato.” There is very little known about Donatello’s family, except his father was Nicalo di Bardi a wool comber. There is no record of Donatello ever being married or having children. Donatello began his career as a goldsmith. At the age of twelve, he began working in the shop of the great architect Brunelleschi in 1399. Next, Donatello had the opportunity to work as an apprentice for the most famous sculptor of the time Lorenzo Ghiberte. He assisted Ghiberte in constructing and decorating the famous bronze doors for baptistery in Florence. Each bronze door contained fourteen sculpted panels with scenes from the New Testament. It took Ghiberte almost twenty years to complete the doors. This experience of studying under Ghiberte continues to influence Donatello’s style of sculpting for the rest of his life. Donatello’s first work of art, which was recognized, was a larger than life, statue of St. Mark. The statue measured seven feet nine inches and was sculpted out of marble. This was his first great sculpture. It took him more than two years to finish. The thing that is most remarkable about the statue is the penetrating gaze of St. Mark. “Michelangelo is reported to have said that he had never seen anyone who looked more like a honest man then Donatello’s statue of St. Mark.” Donatello’s earliest sculptures were very realistic In 1415 Donatello was commissioned to sculpt a statue of St. George, the slayer of dragons. The statue stands today in Florence. It took him two years to complete the six foot nine inch statue. The statue of St. George is that he seems very alive. The youthful looking St. George is dressed in a full suit of armor and his eyes are fired on his sword arm. Although, the statue stands firmly you almost sense that he is ready to move. The body language of St. George suggests a person ready for battle. The face and pose of St. George is very vivid and controlled that is compared to the classical Greek and Roman sculptures. By the time Donatello was in his late thirties, wealthy people were buying his sculptures. The Medici family of Florence commissioned most of his works.
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