Donatello at the V&A

I didn’t know much about Donatello before this, but it seems he is notable in several ways. A pioneer of free-standing bronze sculpture, responsible for some of the first since classical antiquity. An influential creator whose designs and methods were widely copied. And the master of rilievo schiacciato, flattened relief, in which a 3-d image is carved within a few millimetres of depth (the difference in the levels in some of these works must be fractions of a millimetre).

Donatello’s most famous work, his sinuous nude David, is represented here only by a copy. But we have the completely puzzling Attis-Amorino, an ecstatic cherub-like figure who wears droopy leggings off a big belt. He is trampling serpents, and has both wings and a small satyr’s tail as well as wearing poppies. He represents something, but exactly what is unclear…

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