Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi, simply known as Donatello, was a sculptor of the Renaissance period. Born in Florence, he studied classical sculpture and used this to develop a complete Renaissance style in sculpture. He spent time in other cities, and while there he worked on commissions and taught others; his periods in Rome, Padua, and Siena introduced to other parts of Italy his techniques, developed in the course of a long and productive career. Financed by Cosimo de’ Medici, Donatello’s David was the first freestanding nude male sculpture since antiquity.
He worked with stone, bronze, wood, clay, stucco, and wax, and had several assistants, with four perhaps being a typical number. Although his best-known works mostly were statues in the round, he developed a new, very shallow, type of bas-relief for small works, and a good deal of his output was larger architectural reliefs.
Donatello was the son of Niccolò di Betto Bardi, who was a member of the Florentine Arte della Lana. He was born in Florence, probably in the year 1386. Donatello was educated in the house of the Martelli family. He apparently received his early artistic training in a goldsmith’s workshop, and then worked briefly in the studio of Lorenzo Ghiberti.