Donatello: A Gift to his Doctor


On 27th August, 1456, following an unknown illness, the Florentine sculptor Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi (known as Donatello), presented the physician who had been treating him with a unique and unusual gift.

Dr. Giovanni Chellini, the medic in question, recorded how he came to receive the gift.


From Dr. Chellini’s notebook of accounts and memoranda.

I make note, August 27, 1456, while I was treating Donato, called Donatello, the remarkable and outstanding master in making figures in bronze, wood and clay which is baked, and who made that big man which is on top of a chapel over the door of the Cathedral toward the Servites’ Street, and also began another one, eighteen feet high, that he, out of courtesy and because it was merited by the treatment I had given him and was giving him for his illness, gave me a roundel as large as a plate, on which was sculpted the Virgin Mary with the child at her neck and two angels at each side, all in bronze, and on the other side scooped out so as to be able to cast molten glass in it, and it would then produce the same figures mentioned on the other side.


Reference: Horst Woldemar Janson, Sixteen Studies, New York : H.N. Abrams, 1974, pp. 109-116.


Image: The Chellini Madonna, c.1450, bronze, Victoria and Albert Museum, London. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2016. 


Posted by Samantha Hughes-Johnson.


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