Donatello’s background and apparent training in goldsmithing make it unsurprising that he often represented examples of the goldsmith’s art in his large-scale sculptures. This lecture will consider, in reliefs and statues Donatello fashioned for Florentine, Sienese, and Paduan contexts, his recreation of objects typically produced by goldsmiths, including miters, chalices, processional crosses, parade armor, and framed and unframed medallions worn as personal adornment. It will explore how attention to Donatello’s representations of items crafted by goldsmiths can deepen our understanding of his art. Such items enrich the meaning of his sculptures through their iconography and, this lecture will suggest, because they can be experienced not only as constituent parts of artworks but also as independent objects. In the latter sense, their significance relies on the figures and/or the decoration that embellish them and on knowledge of how they were assembled, of the rich variety of materials employed in their production, and of how and when they were used. This lecture will begin with a brief discussion of several paintings by Simone Martini, who engaged in a variety of ways the art of goldsmithing and, in one conspicuous case, crafted an object that likewise straddles the line between representation and actuality.
Amy Bloch is a scholar of Italian Renaissance art whose current research focuses on the practice and regulation of goldsmithing in early Renaissance Italy. She has published, in addition to essays and a book on Lorenzo Ghiberti and his Gates of Paradise (Cambridge, 2016), articles and chapters on Donatello (including several contributions to the V&A exhibition catalogue), Jacopo della Quercia, Fra Angelico, Michelangelo, and on the decoration of the Florence Baptistery. She has also co-edited, and contributed to, two volumes of essays, the most recent (Cambridge, 2020) a collection of original studies of fifteenth-century Italian sculpture. She is Associate Professor of Art History at the State University of New York in Albany.
Organised by Dr Guido Rebecchini (The Courtauld)