Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Donatello’s statue reflects a triumphalist view of his patrons’ social position in Italy. He depicts the moment of victory. The severed head of the giant lies beneath the boot of a soft, barely adolescent boy with long, flowing tresses. Donatello's choice emphasizes the power of a family at the height of its fortunes.The statue was intended for display in the courtyard of a Medici palace and would impress both guest and passers-by as a symbol, not only of the family’s political potency, but also of its wealth and refinement. To this end, Donatello depicts the victor as an idealized object of desire whose slight military equipage radically offsets his delicate, alluring nudity. Instead of a hardened soldier’s rugged form, we behold an ethereal figure, symbolically defeating a brutish colossus. This is how the Medici preferred to see themselves – not debased by the rough and tumble of Italian politics, but transcending it. Though victorious, they are almost impervious to its coarseness.