Donatello Santo Altarpiece Analysis

Words: 2198
Pages: 9

The Santo Altarpiece, as it is primarily known, is the major altar at the basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua. The altar was designed and executed by Donatello, a Florentine sculptor, from 1446 to 1450. The construction of the altar was financed Francesco Tergola. He donated 1,500 lire for the project with the condition that his coat of arms would be incorporated into the project. The altar consists of seven bronze free-standing statues of religious icons, Saint Justina, Saint Francis, Madonna and Child, Saint Daniel, Saint Louis of Toulouse and Saint Prosdocimus, twelve bronze reliefs of angels, four symbols of the evangelists, four miracles from the life of Saint Anthony, The Dead Christ, a limestone relief of the Entombment of Christ, a Pietà and a bronze crucifix, which was not originally placed on the altar.
The original arrangement of the altar is unknown, as it was restored and rearranged many times after it was finished in 1450 and no records of Donatello’s original setup exist. In 1579, the framework was completely
…show more content…
The Miracle of the Miser’s Heart shows a money lender’s heart in a treasure box rather than his corpse; this miracle serves to illustrate Saint Anthony’s position against usury. The Miracle of the Irascible shows that Saint Anthony reattached a boy’s limb after he cut it off as penance for his sins, displaying his reputation as a forgiving confessor and healer. The Miracle of the Mule, which shows a non-believer’s donkey kneeling before Saint Anthony, symbolizes his “life-long crusade against heresy”. In the Miracle of the New-Born Babe, a new born verbally confirms a man's paternity after he had accused the mother of adultery, showing Saint Anthony’s avid defense for the weak. Saint Anthony’s life and theological positions depicted in the relief panels are parallel to the ideology promoted by the catholic