Artibus et Historiae no. 14 (VII)

1986, ISSN 0391-9064

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TIMOTHY VERDON - Donatello and the Theater: Stage Space and Projected Space in the San Lorenzo Pulpits

The unusual ways of articulating spatial depth employed by Donatello in the San Lorenzo pulpit reliefs are analyzed in the context of Quattrocento art and in relation to evolving spatial devices in medieval sculpture and painting. A source or relevant context of aesthetic experience for Donatello's spatial innovations is proposed, in fifteenth-century scenographic design. Especially in the south pulpit, the physical arrangement and narrative concept are seen as recreating the typical stage area of a Renaissance Mystery Play: a wide but shallow platform on which chronologically sequential action unfolded from one side to the other, the episodes separated by aedicules in which, or in front of which, the principal scenes were acted. Other scenographic devices and effects, and some elements of dramatic characterization, are also traced to fifteenth-century theater.

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