Old Master Minute

Expert Review: Donatello at the Palazzo Strozzi and the Bargello

By Sotheby's
Picture: Palazzo Strozzi and the Museo Nazionale del Bargello via. George Gordon

A review of the Palazzo Strozzi and the Museo Nazionale del Bargello's recent exhibition Donatello: The Renaissance contributed by George Gordon, Co-Chairman Sotheby’s Worldwide Old Master Paintings and Drawings Department:

The two interlinked exhibitions devoted to Donatello and his far-reaching influence in two- as well as three-dimensional art served this great sculptor superbly. It is the fulfillment of a life’s work by Francesco Caglioti, who has brought Donatello to life, and made us understand that he was a sculptor possessed of great emotional intelligence.

Picture: ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Three decades ago Caglioti overturned Pope Hennessy and others’ misattribution of the Dudley Madonna in the V & A (above) to Desiderio da Settignano (may we have an exhibition devoted to him too please?). In the culmination of the exhibition in the Bargello, Caglioti makes his rediscovery visually obvious, reconstructing the tabernacle of which it was the centrepiece with panels by Fra Bartolomeo, created several decades after Donatello’s Virgin & Child. Around it are displayed drawings by Leonardo, Peruginao, Raphael, Fra Bartolomeo and Bandinelli, and a painting and drawing by Bronzino, all of which are clearly dependent on Donatello’s Dudley Madonna, making it very plain how strongly Donatello influenced generations of Florentines.

The exhibition in Florence is over, but will it re-appear in different forms in Berlin and London. Caglioti’s eloquent catalogue will serve as a cornerstone of Donatello scholarship for far longer.

Old Master Minute