Donatello was born in Florence, Italy in 1386. Donatello's real name was Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi. Donato adopted Donatello as a name mainly because his relations called him that. Donatello was the son of a wool comber and at the age of seventeen he became the assistant to sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti. Lorenzo helped him construct and decorate the famous bronze doors at the baptistery of San Giovanni, Florence. After that he studied the monument of Antiquity with the architect Flippo Brunelleschi.
Donatellos career can be divided into three very distinct periods. The first, which is before 1425, showed the influence of Gothic, sculpture but also shows classical and realistic tendencies. Major works in this period of time were St. Mark (Church of OR San Michele, Florence), St. George (Bargello, Florence), John the Evangelist (Opera del Doumo, Florence), and his Joshua (Campanile of the Cathedral, Florence).
The second period was from 1425 to 1443.
Donatello worked with the Florentine sculpture and architect Michelozzo from 1425 to 1435. During the time they worked together the made a great deal of sculptures and projects, including the monument to Bartlolmeo Aragazzi (Cathedral of Montepulciano). From 1430 through 1433 Donatello was in Rome, where he created a great deal of works, notably the ciborium in the sacristy of the basilica of Saint Peter. But while in Florence he created one of his greatest works, the first bronze David. The bronze David took five years to construct and was the first nude renaissance statue.
In his third and final period of his career Donatello broke away from his classical influences. Great examples of his work in this period are Miracle of St. Anthony (Sant' Antonio, Padua), Gattamelata (in the square before Sant' Antonio), and Judith and Holofernes (Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence).
Donatello influenced many artists including Michelangelo. Donatello died on December 13, 1466 at the age of 88.
Encarta Encyclopedia 2000