As a teenager he went to
One of Donatello’s first major sculptures was of St. George (1417). He carved a much more realistic statue than had been customary during the preceding medieval period. From the way he looks and stands, Donatello’s St. George tells us he is well aware of the risk he takes in fighting a dragon but he is determined to meet the challenge to save his one true love from death.
In the mid-1420s Donatello carved statues of the prophets Habakkuk and Jeremiah. These he carved with a fierce realism reflecting the pain these men experienced as witnesses to unpopular truth. Their faces, though based on ancient statues studied in
Perhaps around 1440 Donatello created a bronze statue of David. This became his most famous sculpture. It was the first free-standing statue of a naked human since ancient times.
The statue itself is deeply ambiguous: it succeeds masterfully as an object of beauty but fails miserably as a portrayal of the biblical David. That David had just killed a giant warrior by the hand of God. Donatello’s David is far too feminine and flirtatious to be that David. Donatello’s David is wearing a wreathed and ribboned hat which is far too large, with a teasing look on his face, loosely braided hair lying lightly on his shoulders, enlarged breasts, the back of his left hand resting against his hip, his hips shifted to the right, a feather from the dead man’s helmet lightly touching his inner thigh, his toes wrapping themselves in the dead man’s beard.
In 1443 the family of a recently dead mercenary commissioned Donatello to create a bronze memorial of him. He moved to
Donatello died December 13, 1466 and was buried in the Basilica of San Lorenzo in
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