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Donatello, by Lord Balcarres

Donatello, by Lord Balcarres
Category: Sculptors / Italy / Biography
Title: Donatello, by Lord Balcarres
Release Date: 2006-04-01
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 25 March 2019
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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Donatello, by David Lindsay, Earl of Crawford

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and withalmost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away orre-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org

Title: Donatello

Author: David Lindsay, Earl of Crawford

Release Date: April 1, 2006 [eBook #18099]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1



E-text prepared by Suzanne Lybarger, Linda Cantoni,
and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from page images generously made available by
Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries


Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries. See http://www.archive.org/details/donatello00crawuoft


Transcriber's Note: In the original text the name"Verrocchio" is, except for one instance, misspelled as"Verrochio"; the name "Buonarroti" is twice misspelled as"Buonarotti"; the name "Orcagna" is once misspelled as"Orcagra"; and the name "Vasari" is once misspelled as"Vassari." These have been corrected in this e-text.Variants, archaic forms, or Anglicizations of other names(e.g., "Michael Angelo" for "Michelangelo"; "Or San Michele"for "Orsanmichele"; "Brunellesco" for "Brunelleschi") havebeen retained as they appear in the original.

This e-text contains a few words and phrases in Greek. In theoriginal text, some of the Greek characters have diacritical marks which do not displayproperly in commonly used browsers such as Internet Explorer. In order to make this e-textas accessible as possible, the diacritical marks have been ignored. All text in Greek hasa mouse-hover transliteration, e.g., καλος.











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Christ on the Cross




[Pg v]


An attempt is made in the following pages to determine the positionand character of Donatello's art in relation to that of hiscontemporaries and successors. The subject must be familiar to manywho have visited Florence, but no critical work on the subject hasbeen published in English. I have therefore quoted as many authoritiesas possible in order to assist those who may wish to look further intoproblems which are still unsettled. Most of the books to whichreference is made can be consulted in the Art Library at SouthKensington, and in the British Museum. Foreign critics have written agood deal about Donatello from varied, if somewhat limited aspects.Dr. Bode's researches are, as a rule, illustrative of the works of artin the Berlin Museum. The main object of Dr. Semper was to collectdocumentary evidence about the earlier part of Donatello's life;Gloria and Gonzati have made researches into the Paduan period; Lusiniconfines his attention to Siena, Centofanti to Pisa; M. Reymond andEugène Müntz are more comprehensive in their treatment of the subject.

With eleven or twelve exceptions I have seen the original of everyexisting piece of sculpture, architecture and painting mentioned inthis book. I regret, however, that among the exceptions should be awork by Donatello[Pg vi] himself, namely, the Salome relief at Lille—myvisits to that town having unfortunately coincided with publicholidays, when the gallery was closed. I must express my thanks to theofficials of Museums, as well as to private collectors all overEurope, for unfailing courtesy and assistance. I have also toacknowledge my indebtedness to the invaluable advice of Mr. S. ArthurStrong, Librarian of the House of Lords.


[Pg vii]



Introduction 1
Competition for the Baptistery Gates 2
First Journey to Rome 3
The Predecessors of Donatello 5
First Work for the Cathedral 7
The Cathedral Façade 8
The Daniel and Poggio 10
St. John the Evangelist and the marble David 14
Statues of the Campanile 17
St. John the Baptist 18
Jeremiah and the Canon of Art 20
Habakkuk and the Sense of Distance 23
The Zuccone, "Realism" and Nature 26
The Zuccone and the Sense of Light and Shade 29
Abraham and the Sense of Proportion 30
Drapery and Hands 31
Minor Works for the Cathedral 33
Or San Michele, St. Peter and St. Mark 35
St. Louis38
St. George 39
[Pg viii]Donatello and Gothic Art 42
The Crucifix and Annunciation 47
Martelli, David, and Donatello's Technique 52
Early Figures of St. John 56
Donatello as Architect and Painter 59
The Siena Font 70
Michelozzo and the Coscia Tomb 72
The Aragazzi Tomb 76
The Brancacci Tomb 77
Stiacciato 80
Tombs of Pecci, Crivelli, and Others 82
The Second Visit to Rome 88
Work at Rome 94
The Medici Medallions 97
The Bronze David 99
Donatello and Childhood 103
The Cantoria 107
The Prato Pulpit 109
Other Children by Donatello 113
Boys' Busts 116
Niccolò da Uzzano and Polychromacy 121
Portrait-busts 125
Relief-portraits 131
San Lorenzo 133
The Bronze Doors 135
The Judith 140
The Magdalen and similar Statues 144
The Altar at Padua 149
The Large Statues 152
The Bronze Reliefs 156
The Symbols of the Evangelists 161
[Pg ix]The Choir of Angels 163
The Pietà and the Entombment 164
Donatello's Assistants 167
Bellano and the Gattamelata Tombs 170
Gattamelata 173
Smaller Reliefs and Plaquettes 176
The Madonnas 179
The Pulpits of San Lorenzo 186
Donatello's Influence on Sculpture 190
Early Criticism of Donatello 193
Character and Personality of Donatello 194
Appendix I 199
Appendix II 201
Appendix III 204

[Pg xi]


Transcriber's Note: The illustrations in this e-text were moved from their original locations so as not to break up the flow of the text. Therefore, links to the image captions, rather than the page numbers, are provided in the table below.



The reproductions from photographs which illustrate thisvolume have been made by Messrs. J.J. Waddington, Ltd. 14Henrietta Street, W.C.

[Pg 1]


The materials for a biography of Donatello are so scanty, that hislife and personality can only be studied in his works. The Renaissancegave birth to few men of productive genius whose actual careers are solittle known. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Donatello composed notreatise on his art; he wrote no memoir or commentary, no sonnets, andindeed scarcely a letter of his even on business topics has survived.For specific information about his career we therefore depend uponsome returns made to the Florentine tax-collectors, and upon a numberof contracts and payments for work carried out in various parts ofItaly. But, however familiar Donatello the sculptor may be to thestudent of Italian art, Donatello the man must remain a mystery. Hisbiography offers no attraction for those whose curiosity requiresminute and intimate details of domestic life. Donatello bequeathednothing to posterity except a name, his masterpieces and a lastinginfluence for good.

The Denunzia de' beni, which was periodically demanded fromFlorentine citizens, was a declaration of income combined with whatwould now be called census returns. Donatello made three statements ofthis nature,

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