The Feast of Herod

The Feast of Herod

Artist Donatello

Date ca. 1425

Movement Italian Renaissance

Medium Gilt bronze

Dimensions 23.5” square

Housed at Siena cathedral


Working under Ghiberti, Donatello created this as one of the square basin reliefs for the new baptismal font of Siena. Here, an executioner presents the head of St. John to King Herod (left) while at right, Herod’s stepdaughter dances and others reel back in shock; the gaping absence at the center is used to enforce an outward, centrifugal motion of the scene that appears to extend beyond the panel.


Donatello employs the same architecture that his friend, Brunelleschi, was reviving; he cleverly employs it here to break up the narrative—in the background and beyond the arches, the executioner carries St. John’s head; in the foreground, he presents it to King Herod.