My name is Donato di NiccolÃÂ² di Betto Bardi, but all my friends call me Donatello. I was born in Florence in 1383. My father was a wool comber and I could not see me following in his footsteps.
It is now 1465, and I am at the end of my life. What have I accomplished with all my hard work? I am considered one of the hardest working artists in my time. Has the value of my work been worth the sacrifices that I made? I am 80 years old and have no wife or children to ease me into death. I have worked with some of the greatest artists of our time; Filippo Brunelleschi, Lorenzo Ghiberti, and Michelozzo Di Bartolomeo, and have made friends with many more. When I started working with Ghiberti as an assistant in 1404 on the Baptistery doors in Florence I never believed my work would take me this far.
When people look at my sculptor of the prophet Habbakuk2 and Saint Mark3 in Or San Michele will they proclaim it a miracle as I did when I looked at Brunelleschi Crucifix4 now hanging in the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella? Or will they only remember that I used to talk to the marble, as I did while carving Zuccone. I found that the marble responded when I would say "Speak, speak or be damned!"
Filippo's depiction of the Crucifix had an astounding effect on my life. In 1412 I was commissioned to carve a Crucifix out of wood for Santa Croce5, Florence. I was quite please how the piece turned out, until I showed it to my friend Filippo. He criticized my depiction of Jesus by telling me that he looked like a peasant and why would they crucify a peasant. As...