The Feast Of Herod by Donatello

The Feast Of Herod by Donatello

Donatello created The Feast of Herod in bronze for the baptistery of Siena Cathedral in Italy. The sculpture is 60 x 60 centimeters and is known for its use of viewpoint. After Salome sought Herod Antipas for his head on a platter, John the Baptist was decapitated.

The cut-off head is seen in the scenario, and Herod answers with a magnificent glance. Lorenzo Ghiberti was invited by the administrators of Siena Cathedral to act as a guide and creator for the commission of a new baptismal textual style in 1416.


The Feast of Herod by Donatello was added to replace one of the works by Jacopo Della Quercia, an artist involved in the project who had gone behind schedule.

When a development installment for The Feast of Herod was made to Donatello in 1423, the commission was approved and Donatello's work on the project began. The completed statue was taken from Donatello's workshop in Florence and transferred to Siena in 1427, which was the final installment to Donatello.

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The first commission specified that the depicted scene be "The head of St. John" which Donatello incorporated into the current work known as The Feast of Herod.

St. John's decapitation and the presentation of the head to King Herod were previously depicted as separate scenes in Andrea Pisano's works on the South Doors of the Florence Baptistery.

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Donatello brings these elements together by using a unique spin to the tale to set the setting and represent John's execution without revealing the horrible details of the decapitation.

Donatello's The Herod's Feast Analysis

The Feast Of Herod by Donatello

Another way Donatello's work differs from previous depictions is the figures' intense expressions, like Herod and his companions physically shrink from the fierceness of the cut-off head, allowing us, the audience, to become emotionally involved with the scenario as well.

The consolidation of direct viewpoint to the scene, increasing attention on the story focuses and figures, allows for the expansion of compositional components.

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Brunelleschi's investigation into a direct viewpoint framework involving orthogonal (corner to corner lines that meet at a focal disappearing point) and transversals (lines crossing these orthogonal) that work together to draw the eye to the evaporating point and create a figment of the room on a two-dimensional surface enlivened Donatello's imagination and was executed in The Herod's Feast.

The artist manipulates this work by having the point of convergence lead to a 'V of open space,' encouraging the viewer's eye to roam across the board to the two distinct groupings rather than focusing on a single component.

After being popularized by Leon Battista Alberti in his 1435 treatise Delia Pictura, the consideration of the direct point of view would eventually become a basic component in Renaissance painting and figures.

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Donatello's art is, in fact, quite unconventional. Donatello used rilievo schiacciato, or shallow assistance, a technique he previously employed in his painting St George Predella.

Donatello discovered how to use schiacciato, meaning shallow alleviation in English, to emphasize profundity in his magnificent work. The distinction between high and low depth is what truly prompts the profundity seen in his work.

This profundity offers the viewer an astounding sense of genuineness. It also allows the viewer to get a sense of how the situation feels.

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