We have launched a new website and are reviewing this page. Find out more
Open daily 10.00 to 17.45 Admission free Menu
'The Ascension with Christ giving the Keys to St Peter', marble panel carved in low relief, by Donatello, 1428-30, Florence, Italy. Museum no. 7629-1861

'The Ascension with Christ giving the Keys to St Peter', marble panel carved in low relief, by Donatello, 1428-30, Florence, Italy. Museum no. 7629-1861, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Donatello is regarded as one of the greatest sculptors of the 1400s. This relief is one of the finest surviving examples of his innovative work in extremely low relief (known as rilievo schiacciato). The central figure shows Christ ascending to heaven. He is shown giving the keys to the kingdom of heaven to St Peter. These two separate events, known as The Ascension and The Donation of the Keys, are not usually combined. The Virgin, with her back to the viewer, kneels to the left. This central group are surrounded by the Apostles, the followers of Jesus.

Donatello makes use of linear perspective to suggest distance, notably in the recession of the trees and figures. The lightly etched angels in the sky, the trees on the hills fading into the background , and , further away to the left, the just glimpsed towers of Jerusalem, are bold new developments.

Audio: Description of the Ascension Relief by Donatello

Download: mp3 | ogg View transcript

Audio: The life of Donatello

Download: mp3 | ogg View transcript

Interactive Map

Discover the many treasures in the beautiful V&A galleries, find out where events are happening in the Museum or just check the location of the café, shops, lifts or toilets. Simple to use, the V&A interactive map works on all screen sizes, from your tablet or smartphone to your desktop at home.

Launch the Interactive Map