Donatello is arguably one of the greatest Florentine sculptors of the 15th century. He redefined what if meant to sculpt the human form and his creativity still inspires many artists today. Donatello was the bridge to modern sculpture due to his actions, character, and realistic human expressions. He is famous for including physical distortions, making things purposely “ugly”, in his work for artistic effect. Donatello was born as Donato di Niccolo Bardi in 1386 in Florence, Italy. He was the son Nicolo di Betto Bardi, a wool comber. He was educated in the house of the Martelli family. Little is known about his early life, but like many of the other artists of his time, he was believed to be a homosexual. At the age of seventeen he became an apprentice to renowned sculptor of Lorenzo Ghiberti. In Ghiberti’s studio Donatello learned new bronze techniques. He became as master of the medium by assisting Ghiberti in constructing and decorating the bronze doors the San Giovanni baptistery in Florence. In 1407 he left Ghiberti to work on the Cathedral in Florence. Later that year he received two important commissions; the life-sized marble David and Saint John the Evangelist. His next project would be St. Mark for the outside the San Michele. St. Mark broke with the traditional ways of sculpting and became a stunning heroic figure for Florence. Donatello was greatly influenced by antique art and Humanist theories. His statue displays, for the first time during the renaissance, the human body as a functional organism. The city of Florence paid for his first sculpture of David. Patrons found him very hard to deal with and to work with. He was not a cultured intellect like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Donatello found it absolutely necessary to portray the human personality as something that radiated from his statues with confident individuality. His new style was confirmed when he made the famous St. George. In addition to the statue he...
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