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Florentine sculptor, 1386 - 1466

Donatello's statue of the prophet Habbakuk was regarded as an outstanding work, finer than anything else he had ever made; and so whenever Donatello wanted to swear convincingly to the truth of anything he used to protest 'by the faith I have in my Zuccone'.
And while he was working on this statue he would look at it and keep muttering: 'Speak, damn you, speak!'

(Zuccone is a little pumpkin)

"He carved an Annunciation in grey-stone, which was put in Santa Croce at Florence, near the altar of the Cavalcanti Chapel..He created a masterly flow of folds and curves in the draperies of the Madonna and the angel, suggesting the form of the nude figures and showing how he was striving to recover the beauty of the ancients, which had been lost for so many years." I-174
Cavalcanti Annunciation, Santa Croce, Florence
"For this he made an ornament in the grotesque style, with a base of varied and intertwined work, surmounted by a quarter circle, and with six putti; these garlanded putti have their arms round each other as if they are afraid of the height and are trying to steady themselves." I-174

Cavalcanti Annunciation (detail)
"Donatello's ingenuity and skill are especially apparent in the figure of the Virgin herself; frightened by the appearance of the angel she makes a modest reverence with a charming, timid movement, turning with exquisite grace towards him as he makes his salutation. The Virgin's movement and expression reveal both her humility and the gratitude appropriate to an unexpected gift.." I-175
Cavalcanti Annunciation (detail)
"Below the screen in the same church, he made a wooden crucifix and asked his close friend, Filippo Brunelleschi, for his opinion. Filippo answered that it seemed to him that Donatello had put on the cross the body of a peasant, not the body of Jesus Christ. Donatello retorted: 'You get some wood and try to make one yourself.' Filippo returned home and started work on a crucifix." I-175
Crucifix, Santa Croce
"And one morning he asked Donatello to have dinner with him, and Donatello accepted. Going into the hall, Donatello paused to study Filippo's crucifix and found it so perfect that he was completely overwhelmed and dropped his hands in astonishment; whereupon his apron fell and the eggs, cheeses and the rest of the shopping tumbled to the floor and everything was broken into pieces." I-176
Brunelleschi's crucifix, Santa Maria Novella, Florence
"In the Baptistery of San Giovanni in the same city Donatello made a tomb for Pope John Coscia, who had been deposed by the Council of Constance." I-176


Tomb of Pope John XXIII, Baptistery, Florence
"Donatello made for it with his own hand the effigy of the dead man in gilded bronze, together with the marble statues of Hope and Charity, and his pupil, Michelozzo, made the statue of Faith." I-176


Tomb of Pope John (detail)
Faith, Hope and Charity (from the Tomb of Pope John XXIII)
"In the same church, opposite the tomb, can be seen a wooden statue of Mary Magdalen in Penitence, a finely executed and impressive work." I-176


The Magdalen in Penitence
"She is portrayed as wasted away by her fastings and abstinence, and Donatello's expert knowledge of anatomy is demonstrated by the perfect accuracy of every part of the figure." I-176


The Magdalen in Penitence (detail)

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