Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello and Raphael are more than names of famous artists.
The remarkably definite and original style formed by Mantegna may be traced out as founded on the study of the antique in Squarcione's atelier, followed by a diligent application of principles of work exemplified by Paolo Uccello and Donatello, with the practical guidance and example of Jacopo Bellini in the sequel.
It has a beautiful but incomplete facade designed by Giovanni di Mino del Pellicciaio in 1382, and a marvellous font with bas-reliefs by Donatello, Ghiberti, Jacopo della Quercia and other 15th-century sculptors.
There is a splendid museum of medieval and Renaissance antiquities in the Bargello, the ancient palace of the Podesta, itself one of the finest buildings in the city; among its many treasures are works of Donatello, Ghiberti, Verrochio and other sculptors, and large collections of ivory, enamel and bronze ware.
The presence of the university attracted many distinguished artists, as Giotto, Lippo Lippi and Donatello; and for native art there was the school of Squarcione (1394-1474), whence issued the great Mantegna (1431-1506).
The municipal art gallery contains an altar-piece by Girolamo da Treviso (who also painted a fresco in the Chiesa della Commenda), a wooden St Jerome by Donatello, and a bust of the young St John by Antonio Rossellino (?), and some fine specimens of majolica, a variety of which, faience, takes its name from the town.
Whole volumes might be devoted to the magnificent works in bronze produced by the Florentine artists of this century, works such as the baptistery gates by Ghiberti, the statues of Verrocchio, Donatello and many others, the bronze screen in Prato cathedral by Simone, brother of Donatello, in 1444-1461, and the screen and bronze ornaments of the tomb of Piero and Giovanni dei Medici in San Lorenzo, Florence, by Verrocchio, in 1472.
Yet we find in the writings of Ghiberti and Alberti, we notice in the masterpieces of these men and their compeers Brunelleschi and Donatello, how even in the 15th century the minds of artists were fascinated by what survived of classic grace and science.
It was the result of the revival of classic architecture known as Renaissance, but the change had commenced already a century earlier, in the works of Ghiberti and Donatello in sculpture, and of Brunelleschi and Alberti in architecture.
He died on the 22nd of December 1419, and all visitors to the Baptistery at Florence may admire, under its high baldacchino, the sombre figure sculptured by Donatello of the dethroned pontiff, who had at least the merit of bowing his head under his chastisement, and of contributing by his passive resignation to the extinction of the series of popes which sprang from the council of Pisa.