Located in the Basilica Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice, Italy, Donatello’s 1408-15 sculpted St. John is a significant piece that marked the transition from International Gothic to Naturalism. The sculpture portrays St. John as a noble and introspective prophet, depicted as an older man adorned in flowing robes. Made of painted wood, this work is the only one by Donatello in Venice.
Donatello was a versatile artist who used many materials and developed a unique style that brought realism and emotion together like no other before him. He learned stone carving from one of the sculptors who worked for Florence Cathedral around 1400. This sculpture is widely considered a turning point in art history since it challenges the established techniques and perceptions of Medieval art.
The portrayal of St. John is intriguing as Donatello portrayed him with an impressive level of individuality while toning down his religious symbols’ allegorical aspects to create a more humanistic feature unlike previous styles such as French Gothic figural sculpture. With every detail crafted meticulously, including naturalistic features like St John’s long beard that flows down to his chest or his hand raised contemplatively towards his face in examination or remembrance—Donatello allows us a peek into not just artistic development but also societal progress during this era where realism humanized religious subjects in art.