Inventor of the Renaissance

02.09.2022 to 08.01.2023

Donatello was one of the founders of the Italian Renaissance. His works are characterised by technical innovations and revolutionised the artistic practice of their time. As part of a one-off collaboration between the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi and the Musei del Bargello in Florence, this is the first exhibition to be held in Germany focussing on Donatello. Across some 90 works, many of them key works in his oeuvre that have never before been shown together, a panorama emerges that sparks the realisation that the story of Donatello is also the story of the Renaissance. 

Donatello (ca. 1386–1466) was a versatile innovator who was always open to technical and artistic developments and experimented tirelessly with materials and forms of aesthetic expression. For example, he employed mathematically calculated perspective in creating his reliefs, and used materials like terracotta and plaster to create and reproduce his works in addition to the more traditional medium of marble. Numerous masterpieces evince his extraordinary productivity and imagination, and are now considered major works of the Italian Renaissance. 

A Unique International Exhibition Project

After the Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin possesses one of the world’s most extensive and diverse collections of works by Donatello. Together with the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, these museums have teamed up to curate three monographic exhibitions on Donatello’s oeuvre. Sculptures and reliefs in marble, terracotta and bronze that have never been displayed together before make this show a genuine once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

High Calibre Loans in Dialogue with the Berlin Collections

Alongside works from Berlin’s Skulpturensammlung, in the central hall of the Gemäldegalerie, numerous impressive loans will be on display, some of which have never been shown outside of Italy – including three important works in bronze from the monumental high altar of the Basilica del Santo in Padua taken from the collection of the Museo Nazionale del Bargello. These works enter into a dialogue with the paintings of contemporaries like Masaccio, Fra Filippo Lippi and Andrea Mantegna and with sculptures, drawings and casts from the holdings of the Antikensammlung, the Kupferstichkabinett and the Gipsformerei.

This dialogue offers visitors the unique opportunity to get a sense of Donatello’s expansive creativity and discover the diversity of Berlin’s collections at the same time. Alongside this, in the Donatello Room of the Bode-Museum, a number of recently restored works from the Skulpturensammlung by artists from Donatello’s circle will be on show. 

Due to the exhibition plans of the loaning partner, Donatello's horse's head (Protome Carafa) was on display in the exhibition only until 6 November 2022. 

Other Venues for the Exhibition

The exhibition will first be shown under the title Donatello, il Rinascimento at the Musei del Bargello and the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence from 19 March to 31 July 2022. The show was presented at the Gemäldegalerie from 2 September 2022 to 8 January 2023, before moving on to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (11 February until 11 June 2023). 


The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue published by E.A. Seemann Verlag, Leipzig: ca. 280 pages and 230 reproductions, ISBN (German edition): 978-3-86502-482-4, ISBN (English edition): 978-3-86502-484-8.

The exhibition is sponsored by the Hauptstadtkulturfonds and the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museumsverein.

Media cooperations: ARTE, Der Tagesspiegel, Exberliner, Klassik Radio, MONOPOL, tipBerlin and WELTKUNST.

A special exhibition by the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, in collaboration with the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi and the Musei del Bargello, Florence, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Exhibition view in the virtual tour “Donatello: Inventor of the Renaissance” © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Wolfgang Gülcker
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Wolfgang Gülcker
Donatello (ca. 1386-1466). Pazzi Madonna, ca. 1420. Marble
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Skulpturensammlung und Museum für Byzantinische Kunst / Antje Voigt
Donatello (ca. 1386-1466). Pazzi Madonna, ca. 1420. Marble
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Skulpturensammlung und Museum für Byzantinische Kunst / Antje Voigt

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360° tour through the exhibition

Online Tour "Donatello. Inventor of the Renaissance" at the Gemäldegalerie

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