Breakthrough Renaissance Sculpter

Personal Information

  • Born in 1386 in Florence, Italy
  • Descendant of a branch of the important Bardi family
  • Raised in a more plebeian, or commoner, tradition
  • Mostly lived in Florence
  • Also spent time in Padua, Pisa, and Rome for commissions

Education and Training

  • Apprentice of Lorenzo Ghiberti
  • Lorenzo is famous for making the Gates of Paradise for the Baptistery of Florence cathedral
  • As a form of training, he worked on the bronze reliefs of the First Doors of Baptistery for Lorenzo
  • Later on he was the mentor of Michelangelo

Donatello Focused on Sculpting, and Created Many Works Such As:

The "-isms" of Donatello

  • Humanism and Scientific Naturalism- he had more of a rational idea of human anatomy
  • Skepticism- he sculpted some nude biblical figures, which is thought to have caused some controversy, yet the statue that represented this, David, has almost no records about it

Some of His Patrons Included:

David- Creation Date Unknown


  • A statue of a nude, prepubescent boy and biblical character, David, with his foot placed on the decapitated head of his enemy, Goliath. He wears only a helmet and is holding his opponent's sword
  • It resembles the Renaissance ideal of humanism the most, due to the realistic and scientifically correct anatomy of a young, masculine boy.

Current Location

  • The Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence
  • Has been there since 1865

Why is This Piece So Significant?

  • It is a statue of a nude biblical figure, depicting an extremely accurate and precise anatomy of a young male
  • Nobody has ever created a nude visualization of David before, and the fact that it was a naked biblical figures lead many researchers to believe that there was much concern raised over the statue
  • Mysteriously, though, there are almost no records of the statue's creation and many other details

Fun Facts

  • Donatello wasn’t religious, but still sculpted a religious figure
  • This sculpture is based on the story of a young Israelite boy, only clad with a tunic and armed with a slingshot, who defeated the Philistine’s best warrior.
  • Scholars believe that the positioning of the statue represents either the fact that Donatello was openly homosexual, or that it represented his opinion on homosocial values (“in Florence during this period it was common for men to believe they could achieve true love only with other men”)
  • No records of controversy/disputes, creation date, ALMOST NOTHING

Research Citations

"Donatello." World Eras. Ed. Norman J. Wilson. Vol. 1: European Renaissance and Reformation, 1350-1600. Detroit: Gale Group, 2001. Biography in Context. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

"Donatello." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Biography in Context. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

"Lorenzo Ghiberti." Merriam Webster's Biographical Dictionary. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1995. Biography in Context. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

"David." Artble: The Home of Passionate Art Lovers. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

Picture Citations

Lorenzo Ghiberti Door of Paradise. East portal of Florence Baptistry 1425 ARTstor LESSING_ART_1039490575

Donatello Virgin and Child 1440-1445 Musée du Louvre, inv. RF 353. ARTstor LESSING_ART_10310483981

Donatello, also attributed to Desiderio da Settignano Saint John the Baptist (Giovannino Martelli);view from the right c. 1458 - 1460 Museo nazionale del Bargello (Florence, Italy) ARTstor SCALA_ARCHIVES_1039930222

Sculptor: Artist close to Donatello Winged Child Mid-15th century (ca. 1440) The Metropolitan Museum of Art; ARTstor MMA_IAP_10311575801

School of Florence Portrait of Donatello 17th C Galleria degli Uffizi ARTstor SCALA_ARCHIVES_1039613367

Donatello David Museo nazionale del Bargello (Florence, Italy) ARTstor LESSING_ART_1039490463

Donatello Equestrian Monument of Erasmo da Narni (Gattamelata);view from the right, with base 1444 - 1453 ARTstor SCALA_ARCHIVES_1039931839

Miracle Of The Reattached Foot. Fine Art. Encyclopædia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 18 Nov 2013.