Great Artists of the Italian Renaissance
Renaissance sculpture proper is often taken to begin with the famous competition for the doors of the Florence Baptistry in 1403, from which the trial models submitted by the winner, Lorenzo Ghiberti, and Filippo Brunelleschi survive. Ghiberti's doors are still in place, but were undoubtedly exclipsed by his second pair for the other entrance, the so-called "Gates of Paradise", which took him from 1425â€“52, and are dazzlingly confident classicizing compositions with varied depths of relief allowing extensive backgrounds. The intervening years had seen Ghiberti's early assistant Donatello develop with seminal statues including his Davids in marble (1408â€“09) and bronze (1440s), and his Equestrian statue of Gattamelata, as well as reliefs. A leading figure in the later period was Andrea del Verrocchio, best known for his equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni in Venice; his pupil Leonardo Da Vinci designed an equine sculpture in 1482 The Horse for Milan-but only succeeded in making a 24-foot (7.3 m) clay model which was destroyed by French archers in 1499, and his other ambitious sculptural plans were never completed.
The period was marked by a great increase in patronage of sculpture by the state for public art and by the wealthy for their homes; especially in Italy, public sculpture remains a crucial element in the appearance of historic city centres. Church sculpture mostly moved inside just as outside public monuments became common. Portrait sculpture, usually in busts, became popular in Italy around 1450, with the Neapolitan Francesco Laurana specializing in young women in meditative poses, while Antonio Rossellino and others more often depicted knobbly-faced men of affairs, but also young children. The portrait medal invented by Pisanello also often depicted women.
Michelangelo was an active sculptor from about 1500 to 1520, and his great masterpieces including his David, PietÃ , Moses, and pieces for the Tomb of Pope Julius II and Medici Chapel could not be ignored by subsequent sculptors. His iconic David (1504) has a contrapposto pose, borrowed from classical sculpture. It differs from previous representations of the subject in that David is depicted before his battle with Goliath and not after the giant's defeat. Instead of being shown victorious, as Donatello and Verocchio had done, David looks tense and battle ready.