Donatellos Bronze David

Donatello’s Bronze David

Thesis: Donatello was one of the most important fifteenth century masters whose bronze David is an enigma that is unlike Donatello’s other works in its different style, and unknown time of origin.

Donatello was a gifted sculptor who lived in the fifteenth century and had a great impact on not only the Italian Renaissance, but also on the future of art in general. He was an innovator in his time and his sphere of influence enveloped all those around him. Donatello was one of the most important fifteenth century masters whose bronze David is an enigma that is unlike Donatello’s other works in its different style, and unknown time of origin. First, Donatello’s talents and credentials will be discussed. Secondly, points about Donatello’s classical style in the sculpting of David and other artists’ thoughts about its classical style will be gone over. Next, the different thoughts on the time of David’s creation will be discussed. Lastly, the main ideas will be summarized and brought to a conclusion.
Donatello has earned his place in history. Donatello was not only one of the most important artists in the fifteenth century, but also one of the “most brilliant and representative figures of the Italian Renaissance for he gave visible form…to the intellectual aspirations and achievements of his epoch (Cruttwell 2). Not only was he a great sculptor, but also a leader of the artistic movement of the time. He was equally gifted in the elements of the antique and of modern sentiment, able to blend them seamlessly in his work. He also had the appreciation of “external life peculiar to the Greek and Roman civilizations, with its robust self-reliance and enjoyment of sensuous emotions, and the comprehension of, and respect for, the inner workings of the soul, inherited from the severe, often morbid, self-analysis of medieval Christianity” (Cruttwell 3). Donatello was able to work with any medium. He cast sculptures in bronze, clay, and marble with the same genius. Donatello was able to do with his sculpture, as the humanists were able to do with their pen.
Donatello was not limited in the way some other artists of the time were. The reasons he is so important to history of Italian art is because of “his originality of conception, his sudden and complete breakage with tradition, and his technical innovations” (Cruttwell 3). Donatello could work on his own. He did not need to work off the premises set by others. His independence and skill were what made him a chief and pioneer of Italian art. Both the Florentine schools of painting and sculpture were dominated by Donatello. The reason Donatello’s influence was so strong was because he “visualized with his own eyes, conceived with absolute independence, and executed with methods equally original and free from prescribed rules” (Cruttwell 2). This independence was something new in the time of Donatello and allowed Donatello to dominate and to leave his mark for years to come. Cruttwell had this to say of Donatello’s lasting effect on the art world: “So completely Donatellesque did Italian art become that it is impossible to conceive what direction it would have taken without his overwhelming influence…and that every great Master of our own day consciously or unconsciously based his art upon that of Donatello” (3). That is because Donatello rapidly matured as an artist and was able to one of the first artists to be able to “represent humanity as it exists with crude veracity, accentuating impartially its merits and defects. For him beauty and form had little interest” (Janson 80). Donatello’s Campanile statues were “expressively” ugly and his ‘St. Mark’ has an “intellectual” harshness to it (Cruttwell 5). As an artist, Donatello’s main interests seemed to lie in character and emotion. The David is destitute of both. Donatello’s bronze David seems to stray away from Donatello’s previous works in both its classical form and style.
Donatello, while said to be a “master of the nude”, cared little to produce sculptures in the nude. However, when he sculpted David, he made David naked save for both extremities. It is at the extremities where Donatello begins to show his submission to classic influence (Pope-Hennessy 150). A hint of “romantic charm” lies in the hat on David’s head. It is