Since July 12, 2018 and until April 28, 2019 a terracotta bust attributed to Early Renaissance master Donatello, usually housed in a private collection, is exceptionally on view at the Museo Nazionale del Palazzo di Venezia. This is an extraordinary event because the precious bust representing San Lorenzo is shown to museum visitors for nine months after being publicly displayed until now only on the occasion of temporary exhibitions.
The Florentine artist Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi, widely known as Donatello (Florence, c. 1386- Florence, 1466), is one of the most celebrated sculptor of the Fifteenth Century, who stood out from the artistic scenery thanks to his innovative gift and become one of the trailblazers of the Early Renaissance together with Brunelleschi and Masaccio.
Donatello executed the terracotta bust around 1440, while he was involved in the creation of the bronze David, so before his important stay in Padova.
The sculpture was destined to the main portal of the Pieve di San Lorenzo in Borgo San Lorenzo (Mugello), a Tuscan parish church located around 40 km north-east from the city of Florence. This position rather far from that artistic center contributed to leave the San Lorenzo neglected by the critics. The artwork passed through the collection of the Liechtenstein princes and it was noticed by the critics only in 2003, when the bust entered the collection of Peter Silverman and Kathleen Onorato.
In present times, the San Lorenzo is considered as one of the most reliable and essential new acquisitions to Donatello’s catalogue.
The Palazzo Venezia is the most suitable location for Donatello’s bust to be displayed, since this museum, constituting itself a majestic and particular example of an Early Renaissance palazzo dating back to the 1450s, houses the most relevant collection of Renaissance artworks in the whole Rome, especially dating to the Fifteenth Century.