free ebooks

A History of Art for Beginners and Students

The works of Donatello are numerous


impetuosity led him into many rash acts. Among other instances of this it is related that a rich Genoese merchant gave an order for a portrait bust of himself in bronze; when it was finished the great Duke Cosimo de' Medici, who was a friend of Donatello, admired the work so much that he placed it on his balcony, so that all Florentines who passed by could see it. When the merchant was given the price of the bust he objected to it, and it was referred to Duke Cosimo for settlement. In the conversation the Genoese said that the bust could be made in a month, and that he was willing to pay the artist a dollar a day for his time and labor.

When Donatello heard this he exclaimed, "I know how to destroy the result of the study of years in the twinkling of an eye!" and he threw the bust into the street below, where it was broken into fragments. Then the merchant was deeply mortified, and offered the sculptor double the price he had asked if he would repeat the work; but though Donatello sadly needed the money he would not do this, and persisted in his refusal, even when Cosimo de' Medici tried to persuade him to consent.

When Donatello was old Duke Cosimo gave him an allowance which would support himself and four workmen; but in spite of this Donatello wore such shabby clothes that Cosimo sent him a red surcoat, a mantle and hood. These Donatello returned, saying they were far too fine for him. When the sculptor at

length became feeble and bedridden his benefactor had died, but Piero de' Medici, the son of Cosimo, was careful to keep him in comfort; and when he died his funeral was attended with much ceremony. He was buried near Duke Cosimo, in the Church of San Lorenzo.

Several of Donatello's works are in this church, and are a more suitable monument to his memory than any that could be made by other hands.

The works of Donatello are numerous, both in marble and bronze, and in both these substances he made statues and reliefs. We cannot speak in detail of all that he accomplished; but as he lived in an age when every advance in art was an event in history, we must not forget to say that he made the first equestrian statue which had been produced since the time of the Romans. This statue is in Padua, in front of the Church of San Antonio; it is of colossal size, and represents the Venetian General Gattamelata; and though it does not satisfy our conception as an equestrian statue, it is worthy of some praise when we remember all the circumstances of its origin. It is not probable that Donatello had ever seen an antique equestrian statue, unless it might have been that of Marcus Aurelius, which was found in the Forum in 1187; no modern statues existed as examples for him; he was not familiar with the modelling of horses, and for every reason it was a bold thing for him to undertake such a work.

Donatello had more influence upon the art of his time than any other Tuscan sculptor, with the single exception of Michael Angelo. As a man he was honest, simple, and upright in all his dealings; as a friend he was loyal and faithful; as a Christian he was humble and charitable, and left behind him a name which has been handed down through more than four centuries with respect and honor.

eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us