Donatello, Saint John the Evangelist

Sala del Paradiso
Original location
Cathedral, medieval facade
White marble
Height: 210 cm; Width: 88 cm; Depth: 54 cm;

Marble statue of the Evangelist St John, sculpted by Donatello between 1409 and 1415 for the original facade of the Cathedral, where it stood in a niche near the central portal. Donatello was given a chapel within the Cathedral itself to sculpt his statue of John the Evangelist. The chapel was boarded up while the artist was at work to prevent prying eyes catching a glimpse of the work before it was complete. Donatello was overwhelmed with commissions for other works during this period, leading to delays in completing the statue, and in 1415 he was officially notified that if he failed to complete the work within the year he would be fined a penalty of 25 florins. He completed the statue in October and was duly paid a fee of 160 florins. The large scale of the work, over two meters tall, was a challenge to the young artist, who was little more than twenty years old at the time. The face and hands are particularly life-like, obviously drawn from an in-depth knowledge of human anatomy.

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Sala del Paradiso