Donatello, in his full name Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi was an Italian sculptor and painter from the early Renaissance period. He was born in Florence sometime around the year of 1386 and he died at eighty, in December 13, 1466. Besides his work as a painter and sculptor, Donatello was also partly known for his bas-relief works, bas-relief being a method vital to the development of perspectival illusionism. This Renaissance sculptor was born into a family of wool combers and received his education in the Martelli house. Some of his first artistic knowledge was allegedly received in the workshop of a goldsmith, after which he shortly worked in Lorenzo Ghiberti’s studio.
In the period of 1404-1407 Donatello went to Rome with Filippo Brunelleschi where they studied and made excavations, and Donatello often worked in goldsmith’s shops in order to make a living. Their stay in Rome seems to have had a major influence on either of their later works, which got to be ideal representations and expressions of the era’s spirit. Returning in Florence, Donatello worked with various artists, helping those complete different works and at the same time gaining experience for his own future works. He helped make statues for the Florence Baptistery, the church of Orsanmichele, and many others, realizing statues of Saint John the Evangelist, St. George and the Dragon and so on. He worked with bronze, marble; he made bas-reliefs, funerary monuments, panels, etc.
One could argue that Donatello really came into his own when Cosimo de Medici, a patron of arts, commissioned him a statue of David made from bronze, in 1430. Today, Donatello’s David is considered his most famous work, and at the time it was the first free-standing nude ever to be represented since Ancient Greece, probably. Donatello was already moving towards a more realistic representation in his sculptures, so his David is though to be the first major work of the Renaissance. Other important works of his are the Tomb of Giovanni Crivelli for the Santa Maria and the Ciborium for St. Peter’s Basilica, both made while in Rome.
One of his most controversial sculptures, due to its languid and pagan approach was his Cantoria (singing tribune), on which he worked for seven years. Donatello worked almost continuously until the time of his death, and his works found place all over Italy, where later on he himself was a major influence on the sculptors that followed.