The Pazzi Madonna is a rectangular white marble relief sculpture created by Donatello around 1425-1430 for private devotion in the Palazzo Pazzi della Congiura in Florence. It was produced with the collaboration of Michelozzo and became excessively popular, leading to copies by other artists. The sculpture is currently housed in the Bode-Museum in Berlin’s sculpture collections.
Donatello’s innovative power of design and spiritual expression are evident in this work. He focused on creating an emotional reaction rather than just formal beauty. The stiacciato technique used helps him achieve great depth perception while keeping his relief looking flat.
The face and the right hand of Mary express intense emotions that convey her mourning as she holds Jesus’ limp body after he has been taken down from the cross. Moreover, she seems to extend her left hand towards her son, who looks away unconsciously until someone brings life back into his body. Overall, Donatello’s mastery of materials and representation at once encapsulates his deep concern for human values and faith depicted so beautifully here through Mary’s anguished face etched forevermore into stone.