Donatello London Exhibition | V&A to host UK’s first major exhibition of Old Master’s work

A new exhibition exploring the work of Donatello, the “driving force behind the Italian Renaissance”, is coming to London's Victoria and Albert Museum next year.

donatello london exhibition david

It will be the first major UK exhibition focusing on Donatello, and will run from 11 February to 11 June 2023.

Donatello – who lived from around 1386-1466 – hailed from Florence and is considered one of the founding fathers of the Italian Renaissance, as well as one of the most important sculptors of all time. It is the most extensive Donatello exhibition ever put together.

donatello london exhibition

Circa 1450, The Florentine sculptor Donatello, (c1386 – 1466), real name Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi. Original Artwork: Engraving by Giovanni Battista Cecchi, after Vasari.

The exhibition’s curator, Peta Motture, said: “Bringing together objects and narratives never seen before in the UK, the exhibition provides a unique moment to experience, enjoy and — for those less familiar with his work — discover Donatello’s astonishing talents. 

“Donatello was a driving force behind the Italian Renaissance and an inspiration to artists across the centuries,” Motture added.

His marble sculpture of David was made during his 20s and is one of Donatello’s most famous works. It will be part of the V&A’s exhibition, alongside 130 other objects by Donatello, as well as his contemporaries and followers.

The sculpture of David will be loaned from Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence. Other works coming from the museum include a bronze sculpture of a young boy, Attis-Amorino; Head of a Bearded Man, possibly a Prophet; and the marble St. John the Baptist (Martelli Baptist). The latter was made by Donatello which was made with fellow sculpter Desiderio da Settignano.

donatello london exhibition

Donatello’s statue of David

The exhibition is currently on display at Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie until 8 January 2023, having debuted earlier this year between Florence’s Bargello and Palazzo Piti. It will move from Berlin to the V&A, where it will go on display in the Sainsbury Gallery, the museum’s largest exhibition space. 

So far, the exhibition has been critically acclaimed by English-speaking press. The Wall Street Journal called it “spectacular”; the Financial Times said it was “definitive and thrilling at every moment”; and The Art Newspaper has described it as a “genuinely once-in-a-lifetime exhibition”.


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