Donatello crucifix restored

A late work from the Renaissance master

Editorial Staff
March 9, 2020 - 16:58

A wooden processional crucifix, thought to be a latter-day work of Donatello, has been returned to its original home, the Oratorio della Compagnia di Sant’Agostino.


The crucifix was discovered as recently as 2012 in the church of Sant’Angelo in Legnaia, and was identified as a late Donatello by art historian Gianluca Amato. Restoration work on it began in 2014.


The crucifix is made of three pieces of poplar and measures 89 cm tall, 82.5 cm wide at the fingertips, and weighs 3.3 kilograms, not including its cross, which is not original.



Crucifix by Donatello, Compagnia di Sant'Agostino


The crucifix has benefited from a general conservation drive in Legnaia, which had previously involved the Oratory of Sant’Aurelio. Its restoration was executed by Silvia Bensi and directed by Dr Anna Bisceglia, art history functionary at the Soprintendenza di Firenze. Microscopic analysis showed that the crucifix had been altered no fewer than five times over its history. All superficial accretions were removed during the restoration process, revealing the original surface as far as possible.


Donatello carved a number of crucifixes over his career, one of which is found in the church of Santa Croce. The newly restored work, however, can also be compared with the Judith and Holofernes in the Palazzo Vecchio, a bronze from Donatello’s late career, where the visage of Christ finds an echo in the wracked face of Holofernes.

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