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The Prophet Jeremiah

Artist: Donatello
Created: 1427
Format: Marble
Location: Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence, Italy



The Prophet Jeremiah

‘The Prophet Jeremiah’ is a renowned marble statue sculpted by the famous Donatello in approximately 1427. This intriguing figure captures the hearts of all who view it. Prophet Jeremiah’s facial expression exudes inner turmoil, a combination of frustration and exhaustion, possibly due to a feeling of failure in delivering God’s message.

The story of the prophet Jeremiah is intense and profound. According to the “Book of Jeremiah,” God called to him to become his prophet, one hundred years after having called Isaiah who was to deliver the message of the coming of the Messiah in seven hundred years. Jeremiah’s work was to propagate God’s word to the Jews, telling them that they would be judged harshly by God if they did not repent and conform to His will. Jeremiah obeyed, and for twenty-four years, he preached the message throughout Jerusalem. However, much to his chagrin, the people did not want to hear that they were not pleasing the Heavens. Jeremiah further warned that God would send an army from Babylon if they did not abide, which inevitably happened after the insulted princes of King Zedekiah arrested Jeremiah and imprisoned him in a dungeon.

Of special interest is the statue’s meticulously carved apparel; not only do Jeremiah’s clothes mimic textured material, but they also suggest a sense of drama. Moreover, viewed from any angle, the robe’s folds produce outstanding shadowing effects.

Analysis

“In both the Zuccone and the Jeremiah (1427-35), their whole appearance, especially highly individual features inspired by ancient Roman portrait busts, suggests classical orators of singular expressive force. The statues are so different from the traditional images of Old Testament prophets that by the end of the 15th century they could be mistaken for portrait statues.”  - Web Gallery of Art

Donatello sculpted a series of prophets for the Campanile between 1418 and 1435. ‘The Prophet Jeremiah’ is currently located at the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Florence, Italy.



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