Donatello

Donatello

Donatello

Donatello

Excerpt

After the Western Empire of Rome had succumbed before the inroad of the barbarians from the north and the east, the old civilization persisted in Byzantium and Gaul, to return thence, doubly modified, when the motherland had once more become hospitable. From Byzantium came scholars who could read, not only the Latin poets, but also the Greek philosophers, Plato and Aristotle; there came, too, artistt-craftsmen, who knew how to cast bronze doors for the Italian cathedrals then in course of erection; who showed their colour-sense in enamels, silk embroideries, and the illumination of manuscripts; and who brought carved ivories that had preserved something of the spirit of Hellenic sculpture. Singers from Provence taught Dante and Petrarch new verbal cadences which would have been impossible unless Vergil and Catullus had written in antiquity; and it was from Apuleius and from French versifiers that Boccaccio learned his skill in story-telling. From Sicily, from the ancient Greek settlement upon Italian soil, from the court of Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, came the revival of the arts which gave the beauties of the classical world new forms. Provençals, Italians, and Germans, who constituted a primitive congregation of humanists upon the territory of this alien emperor, who were in search of the vanished greatness of Rome, and delved eagerly into the rich past as precursors of an even richer future. From Apulia to Tuscany came Nicola Pisano, the first sculptor of the Renaissance. Studying the reliefs of timeworn sarcophagi, he learned to how great an extent the human body could be the measure of all artistic things; his son Giovanni, who was completing the pulpit of the Siena cathedral, deliberately reproduced the plastic reliefs of Roman imperial days, and wittingly chiselled in accordance with the model specimens of Francisco-Roman art. His pupil Andrea Pisano brought these achievements from Pisa to Florence; he cast the first bronze door of the . . .

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