The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence (1460-65) by Donatello

The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence - Donatello - 1460-65

Artwork Information

TitleThe Martyrdom of St. Lawrence
MediumBronze bas-relief
Current LocationBack of the ambo, San Lorenzo, Florence

About The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence

Donatello is known for having created a life-size terracotta bust of Saint Lawrence, one of the most significant Christian martyrs from the third century. Donatello was a master sculptor and one of the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance period. The sculpture depicts Saint Lawrence as an elderly man with his hands clasped in front of him, peering upward as if in supplication.

The relief panel of Martyrdom of St. Lawrence by Donatello can be found on the Resurrection Pulpit at San Lorenzo in Florence. It shows how St. Lawrence was martyred by being burnt alive on a gridiron, which was regarded as an instrument for preparing food at that time. In Donatello’s sculpture, St. Lawrence appears amid bands of fire rather than stretched out on the grill.

Saint Lawrence’s painful demise is also depicted in another famous artwork called The Martyrdom Of Saint Lawrence by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who completed his piece when he was only 15 years old around 1614. Bernini’s sculpture illustrates St. Lawrence at his moment of martyrdom, with dramatic realism that captures the saint’s agony and sacrifice.

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