Donatello: Sculptor

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9781558596450: Donatello: Sculptor
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Donatello Sculptor is a magisterial, beautifully illustrated study of one of the world's greatest artists. Born in Florence in 1386, in modest circumstances, Donatello rose, through the force of his own genius, to become one of the founding fathers of the Italian Renaissance. When he died in 1466, he was buried at the side of his princely patron, Cosimo il Vecchio de' Medici - a telling measure of the artistic revolution that he had brought about.
The time for a fresh and authoritative appreciation of Donatello and his work is long overdue. Not since H. W. Janson's massive catalogue of 1957 has there been any comparable attempt to present the full range of Donatello's accomplishment. Donatello Sculptor is, moreover, not just a catalogue of the artist's works, but a fluently written, meticulously researched narrative, based on more than half a century of study by one of the world's outstanding scholars.
John Pope Hennessy published his first article on Donatello in 1949, and in the more than fifty years that have followed he has continued to write on, lecture about, look at, and puzzle over this most challenging of artists. "My intention," the author writes, "when I started working on this book, was to describe what is conventionally known as an artistic personality. But ineluctably the artistic personality became an individual. With Donatello the relation between art and life is very close. Without some sense of his creative intentions, in the context of the society in which he lived, his work cannot be understood. This is a monograph, but is also, in embryo, a biography."
In recent years many of Donatello's sculptures have been transformed by cleaning. As a result, the Donatello we see now is a different Donatello from the one discussed by earlier scholars. In this book cleaned sculptures are reproduced in their cleaned state. The once neglected stucco reliefs in the Old Sacristy of San Lorenzo radiate the majesty and the vividness they possessed in the fifteenth century. The Coscia monument in the Baptistry in Florence shines with its original gilt, and the great St. Mark from Or San Michele has reassumed its lifelike character. Donatello's wooden sculptures - the Baptist in Venice and the Magdalen in Florence - are presented here freed from the overpaint which previously covered them. This book will remain the standard work on Donatello for many years to come.

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From Library Journal:

Unsurpassed among early Renaissance sculptors, Donatello's formal and expressive genius continues to engage both popular appreciation and scholarly scrutiny. Pope-Hennessy's superbly illustrated articulation of the artist's oeuvre is graced by lucid stylistic analyses, compelling connoisseurship, the perceptive interpretation of the documents, and a commanding grasp of the relevant scholarship. The result is a masterful formulation of Donatello's work and chronology. While the essay is an exemplar of the disappearing genre of sophisticated yet accessible art historical exposition, the author's reluctance to evoke sufficiently the sculpture's dramatic essences will lessen the volume's appeal to general readers. Some scholars, too, may blanch at the minimal consideration of iconographic content and social context. This work nonetheless recommends itself as a grand, if traditional, synthesis by a master of the discipline.
- Robert Cahn, Fashion Inst. of Technology, New York
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Publishers Weekly:

In this erudite, lavishly illustrated monograph, Italian Renaissance sculptor Donatello emerges as an innovator who was more radical in his artistic solutions and highly individual religious iconography than is generally assumed. Pope-Hennessy, a leading authority on Italian Renaissance art, surveys the full range of Donatello's accomplishments: his marble David in Florence, the strong humanistic expression of his reliefs and statues, works in gilt bronze and pigmented wood and the low marble relief technique ( stiacciato ) Donatello pioneered, achieving unprecedented effects of animation and expressiveness in almost mystical compositions. The restoration and cleaning of many of Donatello's major works in recent years is reflected in this volume's magnificent color photographs, which radiate the majesty and vividness his sculptures possessed in the 15th century.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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