St. Mark, 1411-13.
Donatello was commissioned to cast a bronze sculpture, he would first create a
life-sized plaster version and actually dress it in wet linen in order to
observe how clothing would fall over that body. Aspects of dress: shoulder,
elbows, bulk of arms, pectorals, width of stomach, and the left knee are
clearly visible beneath the fabric. Again, the body provides the impetus for
the configuration of creases and tension lines. Lines bunch up around the
elbows. As the pectorals protrude, the fabric lies flat, but beneath these
“hills,” it slumps inward till it overlaps towards the belt. The fabric over
his right leg hangs vertically as his leg is straight.
However, as his left knee
pokes forward (same contrapposto as Aphrodite
of Melos), the fabric pulls tight over that knee and then
hangs freely beneath down toward the ankle.
any area of the sculpture where the artist simplified the fabric into
compositional shapes or a pattern of lines (drapery)? Some students believe
that the perfectly vertical lines over his right leg are too perfect and may
have been compositionally necessary to balance out the exaggerated arcs that
cover his left side. It is possible, as in “athlete/hero”, for an artist to
combine aspects of both in a work of art. In this example, I believe that
Donatello's representation is “dress” due to the heaviness of the fabric, the
way gravity pulls it downward, and the way that it beautifully follows the
hills and valleys of the man's body.