If Giotto marked the Padua's art of the fourteenth century, another Tuscan, Donatello, would shape the art of the next century.
The fifteenth century opens, to Padua, with the fall of the Carraresi Lordship: In 1406 it is enshrine the changeover of the city to the Venetian Republic. Over the century, Padua through a phase of urban renewal.
Continues the relationship with Florence. Around 1434 the Florentine nobleman Palla Strozzi is exile to Padua and Venice. His stay is followed by the arrival of Filippo Lippi (he works at the Podestà's chapel, later destroyed), and later of Nicolò Baroncelli (sculpts the Months portal of the Church of the Eremitani) and Paolo Uccello (decorates Vitaliani house).
In 1443 arrives also Donatello. At his departure from Florence, the sculptor had already reached the summit of his art. His work was not limited to the intensive course that led him to produce the bronzes for the Basilica of Saint Anthony, but also to develop and diffuse an artistic renewal fervor. He works in Padua for a whole decade (1444-1453) and opens to the fully Renaissance culture artistis which worked in the city. He, indeed, establish an expression form that reach here sublime summits of elegance and preciousness. He discovers a material that has not been used for centuries in statuary art: the bronze.
A pupil of Lorenzo Ghiberti, he created for the Basilica of Saint Anthony, in order, the Crucifix, the equestrian statue of Erasmo of Narni, called Gattamelata, and the high altar.
The imposing altar consists of a base with large bronze reliefs – 57x123cm-dedicated to the hisotry of St. Anthony; in 1579 following the instructions of the Trent Council, the altar was dismantled to be then reassembled in the nineteenth century by Camillo Boito, maybe in an arbitary manner.
Approaching the large bronze rood you notice the robust body made with overbearing realism: the surface is excavated to describe the locks of hair, curly beard and also the sharp grooves of wounds; the evidnet vein on the forehead and the stretched lips into a grimace of pain retain all human suffering.
In its wake was formed a thriving local school of bronze sculptors, the “school of bronze”, including skilled artists such as Bartolomeo Bellano and Andrea Briosco called Riccio. The first, from Padua, entered very young in the Donatello's workshop, and he followed him as collaborator in Florence then returned to Padua, where he worked until nearly the end of the fifteenth century.
He also inherits the “occupation”, opening a shop specialising in bronze, accredited even by Mohammed II in Constantinople, where he is required just as bronze worker . The last Bellano masterpiece, the Roccabonella Monument in the San Francisco Church, was completed by the Trentino Andrea Briosco, active in Padua until his death in 1532. In 1507 the Riccio began to work on his most important work: the Paschal Candle for the Basilica of Saint Anthony, accurate monumental creation with a doctrinal content somewhat complex (the Chriastian message is intertwined with mythological and fantastic elements).
The period is fruitful not only for the production of large sculptures but also small bronzes, often commissioned by the learned collectors, now on display in the Civic Museum of the Eremitani. In the rooms dedicated to the bronzes' school you can admire the curious production of animals vivid figures, sucha as frogs, crustaceans, snakes, often linked to objects of practical use as lamps, vases, incense burners, characterized by lively combinations of real and fantastic elements. All materails were made, at source, to export and collectibles: “monuments desk” in the studies of the humanists..
At the beginning of 1500 the sculptur Severo Calzetta from Ravenna was involved in the reconstruction works of the Chapel of the Basilcia of Saint Anthony.
Advicing in the sixteenth emerge the other heirs of the tradition of Donatello: Giovanni Maria Mosca, Agostino Zoppo, Titian Minium, Vincenzo and Gian Geroloma Grandi, Giovanni da Cavino, Danese Cattaneo (Tuscan, who imported the Manerist style), Francesco Segala, Girolamo Campagna. The Paduan Tiziano Aspetti, said the Minio, active since the beginning of the seventeenth century, is the latest figure, with masterpieces such as the reliefs of the “san Daniele Martyrdom” excuted for the Cathedral and the altarpiece of S. Rocco and S. Lucia: the Venetian sculpture is now headed toward the Baroque.