Donatello's Sculpting Tools, Circa 1409
rating: +31+x

Medicea Accademia Dell'Arte Occulta



Catalog Identification: 0001-[FL]

Donatello's Sculpting Tools


Italy, 1409

Materials: A variety of tools used for the purpose of stonemasonry and sculpting, made from steel and various types of wood.

Location: Florentine Academy, Italy

Exhibition History:

Displayed in the Special Interest Wing, Ground Floor, Florentine Academy.

Occult Properties:

Through a divine presence (as thrice confirmed by the Vatican), the tools allow the wielder to sculpt and mold stone as if it were clay. Affected materials include granite, marble, sandstone, limestone, and obsidian. The effect is lessened on metals; bronze has proven to be the most pliable.


Owned by the great sculptor Donatello, the items include: two cedar mallets, three chisels (one pointed, one flat, one toothed), the shaft of a hammer, and a hand drill. Despite the fact that several components have gone missing (such as the round-headed chisel) or have been destroyed (such as the hammer's head), the item continues to hold divine properties.

Donatello is not believed to have imbued his tools with divine properties himself; rather, an account exists of him witnessing a vision of St. Luke the Evangelist, upon which the tools were delivered to him. The account below is taken by a scholar from the Vatican following Donatello's encounter.

Donatello is believed to have employed the divine properties of these tools only twice after the initial blessing: the first, during his time sculpting a massive figure of Saint John the Evangelist, before finding the work too easy; the second, following the casting of his second David, where it was used to correct a flaw that had been present in the mould.


1410: Divine properties are imbued upon Donatello's tools.

1414: The Vatican dispatches inspectors for the first time, confirming the divine nature of the tools.

1466: Following Donatello's death, the tools are passed down to his student Bertoldo di Giovanni, who uses them to complete Donatello's unfinished San Lorenzo pulpits.

Late 1480s: Lorenzo de Medici, our Founder, begins an academy for artists in his gardens at San Marco; Bertoldo di Giovanni demonstrates the tools to Lorenzo. This develops into an interest in Occult Art.

Early 1490s: Bertoldo di Giovanni is named the first Curator of the Medicea Accademia Dell'Arte Occulta.

1500: The tools are used to aid in the construction of additions to the Florentine academy, and to begin work on the Venetian academy.

1605: The Vatican re-inspects the tools, and again confirms their divine properties.

1773: The head of the hammer shatters under the strain of attempting to work the stone at the newly-built London Academy. It is believed that this is due to the Protestant nature of English masonry. Work on the London Academy is finished by hand.

1899: The tools are analyzed by the Vatican a third and final time.

1962: The rounded chisel is stolen; its whereabouts are as of yet unknown.

1989: The Foundation becomes aware of them, and borrows a component (specifically the flat-headed chisel) to conduct tests.

2019: The pieces are stolen as part of a break-in at the Florentine Academy. They are recovered in an airtight case two days after the robbery.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License