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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Quotes from artists in the Early Renaissance are notably rare, with so much time having passed since their potentially influential words were first spoken

Written correspondence was common at that time for those in the higher levels of society, but paper is too fragile for much to last up to the present day. Only letters that were safely stored, for example, would still be around today.

The influence left by the work of Donatello has meant that his life has been examined in huge detail, not just in recent years but pretty much since he first rose to fame. Much of what we know, however, is around his individual sculptures and some of his high profile donors - less so about the man himself.

Donatello was considered a fairly unfriendly individual, often speaking out against donors that did not understand elements of his work. Stubborn and aggressive, those who spent time with him tended to do so because of their respect for his inventive work.

Whilst being known for having an inflexible, abrupt character, Donatello was actually a particularly versatile artist, consistently taking on new projects and developing his skills in new directions.

The artist's sexuality would also place him on the edge of society but his friendship with Cosimo de Medici would prove crucial in protecting him from more conservative individuals. His work was also so highly regarded that his donors would give him the freedom to behave badly.

The Renaissance era was full of talented artists who proved difficult to get on with on a personal level. For examples of this perhaps check out these Leonardo da Vinci quotes and Michelangelo quotes. One's personality tends to be forgotten over the centuries and the full focus remains on their career oeuvre.

Famous Quotes by Donatello

Sadly, despite a thorough trawl through countless publications of the career of Donatello we have been unable to find many quotes that can confidently be attributed to the master sculptor. As such, we have included a collection of views from others about Donatello and his legacy.

Speak, damn you, speak!

Donatello muttering under his breath to his sculptures as he desired greater richness in their expressions

Take the wood and make one of your own

Donatello to Filippo Brunelleschi, in creating a wooden crucifix

Famous Quotes about Donatello's Career

A convenient way of learning more about an artist and his legacy are through the views of others - particularly when the subjects are particularly knowledgeable. Find below a list of some intriguing views on Donatello.

He was extremely versatile, working in stone, metal, wood, terracotta and bronze. He was an innovator in many ways, and pioneered the use of the single vanishing- point perspective system in relief sculpture (see for example 'The Feast of Herod' for the Siena Font).

Donatello was a major influence on painters such as Masaccio as well as sculptors. Because he worked in Padua he also greatly influenced Mantegna and other artists who were trained there.

The National Gallery

Donatello's work was highly influenced by the revival of interest in the sciences, mathematics, and architecture that was taking place in Florence. This included the use of one point perspective to create a new kind of bas-relief for architectural works and a precise anatomical correctness for his figures.

Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi, better known as Donatello, was an Italian Renaissance sculptor from Florence. He studied classical sculpture and used this to develop a complete Renaissance style in sculpture, whose periods in Rome, Padua and Siena introduced to other parts of Italy a long and productive career.


t was the largest model of the fifteenth century. He opened new horizons to sculpture, especially to that of the portrait, he rediscovered the nude that medieval art, of religious inspiration and of edifying intonation, had repudiated, and was the forefather of that realistic address that in painting he had in Masaccio the his most accomplished interpreter.

Indro Montanelli and Roberto Gervaso (translated)

know, as Pasolini said, I know and I know perfectly well that there could be a president of the republic that corresponds to what no one can say no, because what is it that is considered and admired in Italy from all over the world, known? Bersani? Cricket ? Berlusconi ? No, Donatello, Giotto, Michelangelo, Brunelleschi , Verdi, Mozart and Da Ponte.

Vittorio Sgarbi (translated)