Donatello, Prophet (Habakkuk?) called Zuccone (Big pumpkin-head)

Original location
Giotto's bell tower, west side, niche
White Carrara marble
Height: 198,5 cm; Width: 65,4 cm; Depth: 50,2 cm;

This famous work by Donatello, in white Carrara marble, comes from the second niche from the left on the west side of Giotto's bell tower. Sculpted in 1434-36, the statue was originally placed on the north side of the bell tower, together with the others; from archival documents we know that in 1464, all of these statues were moved to the west side in place of those of the 14th century, for better visibility. The figure depicts an anonymous prophet, perhaps Habbakuk, in larger than life size, but since ancient times has been known as "Zuccone" (“Big pumpkin-head”), due to the conspicuously bald skull. The work is carved full-round and includes a slim plinth, with the carved inscription "Opus Donatelli" (“Work by Donatello”). The figure is very thin, has an ascetic aspect and transmits a tension in power, as if nervously stiffening. The prophet is depicted in slight torsion, with his head turned to his left and down, the right shoulder drawing back and the corresponding hip advancing. His face is very emaciated, caught with raw naturalism in an expression of mixed amazement and fear: his large eyes are wide open in the hollow sockets, and his mouth is half open in startelement or the act of prophesying. A short unkempt beard and haggard short hair frame his face. His powerful neck shows the veins and tendons. A heavy drape falls from the left shoulder to the right and the chest is covered by a poor sleeveless tunic knotted on the right shoulder. His arms are close to the body: the right covered by the mantle, the left, thin but muscular, has the hand tucked into a cord at the hip. He wears sandals on his bony feet.Vasari tells a significant anecdote about the creation of this work: so great was the realism conferred on the marble, that Donatello would have asked it to "speak".If the identification with Habakkuk is correct, we could read the emotional tension expressed by the figure in relation to the morality of this prophet, written in the respective book of the Old Testament, where he reflects on the presence of evil in the world.

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