Donatello’s ‘David’ Will Travel to the V&A for the First Major U.K. Show on This ‘Driving Force Behind the Italian Renaissance’

The first UK exhibition exploring the life and work of Renaissance sculptor Donatello (c. 1386-1466) opens at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London next February.

Several of the most highly regarded exhibits will feature in an exhibition of 130 works making their UK debut. Museum-goers can learn more about Donatello’s influence on the early Italian Renaissance and later artists.

Important credits include an early marble bust of David (circa 1408-09). Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence. OOne of the artist’s most important early commissions, he made a sculpture for a cathedral in Florence when he was in his twenties, but eventually installed it in the Palazzo della Signoria.

The two relief sculptures will be on view together for the first time at the V&A Ascension with Christ giving the keys to St. Peter (c. 1428–30) Reuniting with Madonna of the Clouds (c. 1425–35) From the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Monument to Donatello, San Rossore. Photo courtesy of the Italian Ministry of Culture—Administration of the Provincial Museum of Tuscany, Florence.

The exhibition will include the monumental sculpture of San Rossore from the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo in Pisa, bronzes from the high altar of the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua, as well as a bronze statue. Attis-Amorino From the Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence.

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The story of Donatello, the son of a wool merchant trained as a goldsmith, brings to life many aspects of 15th-century Florentine society and culture, including the power and patronage of the Medici family and the elite circle they were closely associated with.

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Viewers will learn how the master’s innovative talent allowed him to combine multiple influences from different eras to create a bold new style. He was capable of working with a variety of materials including marble, wood, bronze, terracotta and stucco, and the examples in this show promise to reveal his talent.

“Donatello was a driving force in the Italian Renaissance and has inspired artists for centuries,” said Peta Mottur, chief curator of the exhibition.

“The exhibition provides a unique moment for those less familiar with Donatello’s work to experience and enjoy Donatello’s prodigious talent and his wide-ranging influence on Renaissance and later art.”

Donatello’s work will be interspersed with several works by his contemporaries, including the architect and sculptor Michelozzo, to give more context to his practice.

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“Donatello: Renaissance Sculpture” On view from February 11 to June 11, 2023.

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