classical sculpture of Antinous. Ghiberti’s work still shows evidence of the graceful swaying postures of late
Gothic art, but his unabashed use of the idealized nude shows a Renaissance return to classical form.
Read Ghiberti’s and Brunelleschi’s versions of the competition (Brunelleschi’s ideas are told by his
follower Manetti). The documents are transcribed on this page by Allen Farber at SUNY Oneonta
(scroll to the bottom of the page).
Donatello (born Donato di Niccolò Bardi) is the best-known sculptor from this period. He took an avid
interest in classical art and architecture and went to Rome to study the ancient monuments with his friend
Brunelleschi. Donatello’s work often has a psychological intensity, and many times he experimented with
techniques or made his work deliberately provocative. Donatello was always aware of the setting in which
his work would be seen, and he would modify his style to fit a particular situation. Donatello’s bronze David,
shows the Old Testament hero completely nude except for his hat and boots. David’s nudity and his
contrapposto pose are derived from classical works, but they are given an erotic quality that seems
inappropriate for a religious work. It makes more sense to view the sculpture as a political allegory
(Florence often considered itself to be like David) or as a work suited to the personal tastes of Cosimo de’
Medici (the most powerful man in Florence in the 1430s) because the David stood in the courtyard of his
palace.
Donatello, David, 1430s(?) Donatello, Gattamelata, 1447-50
Donatello also looked to the classical past for his equestrian monument of Erasmo da Narni, Gattamelata,
a mercenary captain from the area around Venice. The sculpture is modeled after the Roman bronze statue
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