Donatello: The Renaissance II
The exhibition Donatello: The Renaissance, spread across two venues in Florence - the Palazzo Strozzi and the Bargello - truly is a 'once in a lifetime' experience, with works leaving their original locations for the first time since they were installed, and 14 major pieces on view for the first time since restoration. It reveals Donatello to be - as I suspect we all knew - a fundamental force for the development of the Renaissance, a multivalent and productive artist working across a wide range of different media. True, there will be embodiments of the display in Berlin later this year, and at the V&A in 2023, but many of the pieces which are on the way back from conservation studios - or on their way to them - will not travel. So far I have looked at eight of the eleven rooms in the Palazzo Strozzi, meaning that there are still three to go, whose focus starts with the impact of the decade Donatello spent in Padua, and the works made in the final decade of his life after his return to Florence. And then there are also the three rooms in the Bargello, including the majestic 'Donatello Room' - which was given its names as a result of the ground-breaking exhibition of 1886 marking the half-millennium since the great master's birth. Among the works displayed there are some of the grandest, but also one of the most delicate works, the small and once-celebrated Dudley Madonna, which has a whole room dedicated to the works it influenced. These reach from the Renaissance to the Baroque, and include none other than Artemisia Gentileschi, represented by a recently rediscovered painting.