More Florentine musings

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

One of my favourite museums in Florence is the Bargello, and my favourite room is the Donatello Room. And my favourite space there contains two entries in a 1401 competition, and one marble and two bronze sculptures. Were you so minded, you could cross this space without drawing breath, but I wouldn’t recommend it: linger and wonder every step on the way. (Since we can’t get into the museum at the moment, you’ll have to make do with my virtual tour.)

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

Yes, you can see the true beginnings of Renaissance sculpture and bronze casting within 10 metres (possibly even less, I’ve never paced it).

First, in the top right-hand corner, look closely at Ghiberti and Brunelleschi’s entries for the 1401 competition for a set of bronze doors for the Baptistry.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Brunelleschi on the left, Ghiberti on the right

Ghiberti won and eventually designed and produced not one, but two sets of doors, the second of which Michelangelo described as the Gates of Paradise. Brunelleschi went off in a huff to Rome, with his then apprentice Donatello, where he learned much from the Roman ruins and from the Pantheon, which enabled him to design and build the miraculous dome of Florence Cathedral.

Meanwhile, Donatello made himself the greatest sculptor of his time, so in a couple of steps, stop in front of St George, his first marble masterpiece, created in 1416 and an inspiration for his contemporaries. Can you see ‘life itself stirring vigorously in the stone’?

Brunelleschi on the left, Ghiberti on the right

When you’re done with George, an arm’s length away is Donatello’s amazing bronze David, commissioned in 1430. Technically it is the first free-standing bronze statue cast in the Renaissance, but that’s nothing compared with the audacity of the creation. The young David is naked apart from his hat, garlanded with laurel leaves, and his boots. It is, if you will pardon the expression, cheekily homoerotic.

Brunelleschi on the left, Ghiberti on the right

And lastly, Verrocchio’s bronze David, a little late to call early Renaissance, since he was created in the 1470s. But I’ve left him in, not only because he is vigorous, handsome and classical, but also because, supposedly, the model was the young Leonardo da Vinci, Verrocchio’s pupil.

Brunelleschi on the left, Ghiberti on the right

Not bad stuff for a 10-metre stroll!

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.

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