DONATELLO (diminutive of Donato) (c. 1386-1466), Italian sculptor, was the son of Niccol di Betto Bardi, a member of the Florentine Woolcombers Guild, and was born in Florence probably in 1386. The date is conjectural, since the scanty contemporary records of Donatello's life are contradictory, the earliest documentary reference to the master bearing the date 1406, when a payment is made to him as an independent sculptor. That Donatello was educated in the house of the Martelli family, as stated by Vasari [1511-1574], and that he owed to them his introduction to his future friend and patron, Cosimo de Medici [1389-1464], is very doubtful, in view of the fact that his father had espoused the cause of the Albizzi against the Medici, and was in consequence banished from Florence, where his property was confiscated. It is, however, certain that Donatello received his first training, according to the custom of the period, in a goldsmith's workshop, and that he worked for a short time in Ghiberti's [1378-1455] studio. He was too young to enter the competition for the Baptistery gates in 1402, from which Ghiberti issued victorious against Brunelleschi [1377-1446], Jacopo della Quercia [c.1371-1438], Niccolò d'Arezzo [1350-c.1417] and other rivals. But when Brunelleschi in his disappointment left Florence and went to Rome to study the remains of classic art he was accompanied by young Donatello. Whilst pursuing their studies and excavations on classic soil, which made them talked about amongst the Romans of the day as treasure seekers, the two young men made a living by working at the goldsmiths' shops. This Roman sojourn was decisive for the entire development of Italian art in the 15th century, for it was during this period that Brunelleschi undertook his measurements of the Pantheon dome and of other Roman buildings, which enabled him to construct the noble cupola of S. Maria del Fiore in Florence, while Donatello acquired his knowledge of classic forms and ornamentation. The two masters, each in his own sphere, were to become the leading spirits in the art movement of the 15th century. Brunelleschi's buildings and Donatello's monuments are the supreme expression of the spirit of the early Renaissance in architecture and sculpture and exercised a potent influence upon the painters of that age.