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Donatello and the Dawn of Renaissance Art

The Italian sculptor known as Donatello helped to forge a new kind of art—one that came to define the Renaissance. His work was progressive, challenging, and even controversial. Using a variety of novel sculptural techniques and innovative interpretations, Donatello uniquely depicted themes involving human sexuality, violence, spirituality, and beauty. But to really understand Donatello, one needs to understand his changing world, marked by the transition from Medieval to Renaissance style and to an art that was more personal and representative of the modern self. Donatello was not just a man of his times, he helped shape the spirit of the times he lived in and profoundly influenced those that came after.

In this beautifully illustrated book—the first thorough biography of Donatello in twenty-five years—A. Victor Coonin describes the full extent of Donatello’s revolutionary contributions, revealing how his work heralded the emergence of modern art.

288 pages | 60 color plates, 10 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2

Renaissance Lives

Art: Art--General Studies

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"Readable and engaging. . . . Donatello was amazingly versatile and constantly in demand, engaging in multiple projects, often simultaneously. An inventive sculptor, he worked in almost every conceivable medium—stucco, terra-cotta, and cartapesta as well as bronze, marble, and wood. In addition he was a colorful, witty character, and his eccentric behavior is preserved in anecdote. Coonin makes good use of this material to breathe fresh life into the art and biography of a supremely important genius who exerted a powerful influence on many subsequent artists, including Michelangelo, Bernini, Canova, Rodin, and Brancusi. Deftly weaving together history, anecdote, accounts of patronage, and sensitive descriptions of works of art, this accessible treatment is illustrated with seventy-six color plates. Highly recommended."


"Coonin’s book, which marks the first biographical publication on Donatello in twenty-five years, is an enjoyable and engaging read. The text is lucid, well-documented, and an informative source for those looking to explore the creativity and personality of one of the Renaissance’s most acclaimed artists."

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme

“The book laudably aims at an extensive readership including both specialists and nonspecialists. . . . The text delivers many excellent exercises in ekphrasis, and the book will surely become a cherished travel companion for the many students and others who have fallen under the spell of Donatello and the life of Italian early Renaissance sculpture.”

Renaissance Quarterly

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