(b. ca. 1386, Firenze, d. 1466, Firenze)

The Resurrection Pulpit

Marble and bronze, 123 x 292 cm
San Lorenzo, Florence

The two Pulpits with eleven panels in the Basilica of San Lorenzo are Donatello's last works. The chronology is known because the date "1465 adi 15 Gug" (on 15 June 1465) was traced on the ledge of the northern pulpit to the left of the Martyrdom of St Lawrence.

Due to its iconography - including reliefs of Christ in Limbo, the Resurrection, the Ascension of Christ, the Women at the Tomb, the Miracle of Pentecost and the Martyrdom of St Lawrence - the northern pulpit is known as the Resurrection Pulpit.

The pulpits are obviously the result of collaboration between Donatello and his pupils Bertoldo and Bellano. While in the Deposition from the Cross and the Entombment this collaboration is apparent - in the extremely elongated figures and the unusually high degree of finish of the reliefs - the Agony in the Garden is considered to be the part where Donatello was working alone and where his ties to his youthful style are clearly visible. Everything is permeated by Ghiberti, from the landscape to the soft line connecting the images and the groups of sleeping disciples, each one clearly defined.

It is the general consensus of art historical opinion that in these eleven panels the collaboration of the pupils played a prominent part. The bas-reliefs were first modelled in wax, and it is probable that for as long as he could, Donatello carried out this process himself. But by degrees a progressive paralysis must have limited his direct participation, forcing him to give a free hand to his helpers, though he may have continued to direct them. When he died on 13 December 1466 the two pulpits were not in place, and their final positioning, which followed a sketch made by Donatello, did not occur until 1515, when Pope Leo X visited Florence.

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