Donatello is one of the founders of the Italian Renaissance. Contemporaries already recognised the outstanding artistic talent of the Florentine sculptor, and renowned patrons sought his works. His works were characterised by technical innovations and revolutionised the artistic practice of their time. As part of a unique cooperation between the National Museums in Berlin and the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, the Musei del Bargello, Florence, and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, Donatello will have his own exhibition in Germany for the first time. With around 90 works and numerous major works that have never been shown together before, the result is a panorama that culminates in the realisation: The history of Donatello is at the same time a history of the Renaissance.
Image above: Donatello, Mary with the Child, “Pazzi Madonna”, ca. 1422, marble, © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Skulpturensammlung und Museum für Byzantinische Kunst / Antje Voigt
Donatello (c. 1386-1466) was a versatile innovator who – always open to technical and artistic developments – experimented tirelessly with materials and aesthetic expression. For example, he employed the mathematical construction of perspective in relief and used materials such as terracotta and stucco in addition to marble to create and reproduce his works. Numerous masterpieces bear witness to his extraordinary productivity and imagination and are considered major works of the Italian Renaissance.
Alongside the Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the National Museums in Berlin possess one of the world’s largest and most diverse collections of works by Donatello. Together with the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, these museums have joined forces to organise three monographic exhibitions of Donatello’s work in 2022/2023. Sculptures and reliefs in marble, terracotta and bronze that have never been shown together before will make these shows unique “once-in-a-lifetime” experiences.
Entitled “Donatello, il Rinascimento”, the exhibition will initially be on show at the Musei del Bargello and Palazzo Strozzi in Florence from March 19th to July 31st 2022. Donatello’s “PazziMadonna” – a major work of the Berlin sculpture collection in the Bode Museum – was chosen as the “key visual”. The show will be presented at the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin from September 2nd 2022 to January 8th 2023 and subsequently at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London from February 11th to June 11th 2023.
The spacious Wandelhalle of the Berlin Gemäldegalerie is a particularly suitable place to appropriately showcase Donatello’s works. In addition to works from the Berlin sculpture collection, numerous outstanding loans will be on display, some of which have never been shown outside Italy before – including three important bronzes from the monumental main altar of the Basilica del Santo in Padua as well as the marble sculpture of David from the Museo Nazionale del Bargello. These works enter into dialogue with paintings by contemporaries such as Masaccio, Fra Filippo Lippi and Andrea Mantegna, as well as sculptures, drawings and casts from the holdings of the Collection of Classical Antiquities, the Museum of Prints and Drawings and the Plaster Moulding Shop. This gives visitors the unique opportunity to experience Donatello’s inventiveness and at the same time discover the diversity of the Berlin collections. At the same time, a number of recently restored works from the master’s sculpture collection will be on display in the Donatello Room of the Bode Museum.
“Donatello. Inventor of the Renaissance” represents the culmination of ten years of research and restoration work at the National Museums in Berlin. The exhibition is curated by Neville Rowley, Curator of Early Italian Art at the Gemäldegalerie and the Sculpture Collection, in collaboration with Francesco Caglioti (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa), Laura Cavazzini and Aldo Galli (both Università degli Studi di Trento).
A special exhibition of the National Museums in Berlin in cooperation with Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, Musei del Bargello, Florence, and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
The exhibition is supported by the Hauptstadtkulturfonds and the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museumsverein.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by E.A. Seemann Verlag, Leipzig: approx. 280 pages and 230 illustrations, ISBN (German edition): 978-3- 86502-482-4, ISBN (English edition): 978-3-86502-484-8.
Exhibition dates: Friday, 2 September 2022 – Sunday, 8 January 2023
Opening hours: Tue – Fri 10 am – 6 pm, Sat + Sun 11 am – 6 pm