(b. ca. 1386, Firenze, d. 1466, Firenze)
St Louis of Toulouse1421-25
Gilded bronze, height 226 cm
Museo dell'Opera di Santa Croce, Florence
Donatello's gilded bronze sculpture of St Louis of Toulouse may be seen as a sort of prologue to the growing interest in heightening naturalistic expressions, such as can be seen in the statues of Jeremiah and Habakukk. The work was commissioned by the Parte Guelfa for its empty tabernacle on Orsanmichele. Their choice was of a historical figure whose unusual life could be used as an example of obedience to the Pope. This sculpture is extraordinary in the range of Donatello's work. Even today opinion about the work is divided, ranging from those who are kindly disposed toward it to descriptions dismissing it as a complete failure. One of the most noticeable flaws is the conspicuous disparity between the body of the saint and the over-large proportions of his clothing.
Donatello's depiction of St Louis was his first bronze sculpture. The casting was carried out in eight separate pieces and was technically very demanding. The process probably considerably simplified the final fire gilding.
The statue suffered slight damage in the flood of 1966.