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Relief sculpture

In relief sculpture created by Florentine artists in the period 1400-1430 many of the most significant advances of Renaissance art were initiated long before painters took them up. In the works of Donatello (c. 1386-1466) and Lorenzo Ghiberti (c. 1381-1455) the antique became an important source of inspiration and the use of artificial perspective was introduced. Relief sculpture is a sometimes neglected aspect of the general subject of Renaissance sculpture. Because the appearance of freestanding statues in the fifteenth century is one of the most significant results of the renaissance of classical ideals in Italy, other types of sculpture tend to receive less attention. Yet, primarily through the efforts of Donatello and Ghiberti, much of the relief sculpture of the first decades of the Quattrocento was as forward-looking as anything produced in the other mode. This achievement consisted of Donatello's introduction of artificial perspective in low relief (both carved and cast) at a time when painters were not yet interested in, or not yet allowed to make, such experiments. Ghiberti, on the other hand, added an evolving interest in experimenting with pictorial means--including perspective--to the classicism that emerged in his early work and re-emerged a decade later.

Perhaps because it was Donatello who led the way in transforming the antique in his larger works, his achievements in low-relief sculpture have been somewhat overshadowed. In addition the subsequent development of artificial perspective by Renaissance painters took the lead from the sculptors and relegated their achievement to a footnote to painting. But the remarkable flourishing of relief sculpture in the first 30 years of the century remains one of the most fascinating aspects of Renaissance art as Ghiberti, refusing to accept the dominance of a single relief plane, and Donatello, believing in the possibility of a sculptural representation of perspective ...

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Relief sculpture. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 17:04, December 07, 2021, from