Donatello. Cantoria del Duomo. c.1433-38. Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence. Photograph, I Sailko. Reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.


Donatello: the greatest of them all

  • Tuesday 14 January 2020
    (6 pm)
  • The Art Workers' Guild, 6 Queen Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AT
  • Lecturer: Jim Harris

Is it possible to say that one artist is ‘better’ than another?

And amongst the best of the best, is there still a hierarchy of greatness?

Should art historians be carefully neutral, maintaining a stern critical distance from grubby subjective questions of comparative ‘quality’ across time, media and geography?

Michelangelo, Leonardo and Rembrandt are among the regular contenders for the artistic Heavyweight Championship of the World but in this lecture, Dr Jim Harris of the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology takes an unashamedly partisan stance to argue that, of all of them, the fifteenth-century Florentine sculptor Donatello is the undefeated title-holder.

Seconds out, please…


Jim Harris is Andrew W Mellon Foundation Teaching Curator, leading the Ashmolean’s academic engagement programmes across the curriculum of the University of Oxford.

He trained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and as an art historian at the Courtauld Institute of Art, where he wrote his PhD thesis on the polychrome sculpture of Donatello, under the supervision of Professor Patricia Rubin.  He subsequently held the Courtauld’s Andrew W Mellon Research Forum Postdoctoral Fellowship and the Caroline Villers Research Fellowship in Conservation.

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