Sculpture Saturday *16

milkboys Sculpture Saturday 7 Comments

The sculpture below is one of many copies of Boy with Thorn, a motif that inspires artists even today as nudes of both boys (by Ole Rasmussen) and girls prove. This copy was made by German sculptor Gustav Eberlein.

The Uffizi write: The statue represents a naked boy, sitting on a rock, intent on removing a thorn from his foot, probably from treading grapes during the harvest. This theme was widespread and well known in ancient times, and probably created in Greece in the 3rd century BC. From there it came to Rome, where it was copied to portray Ascanius, son of Aeneas and, according to legend, the founder of the dynasty of Julius and Augustus Caesar.

A curious fact: the first time that this statue was seen in modern times was around the end of the 12th century in Rome. It was a bronze copy (or perhaps even an original, now preserved in the Capitoline Museums in Rome), which was discovered by chance by an English traveller. From that time, copies continued to be made and it also became a source of inspiration for modern sculptors. Perhaps it was the freshness of the scene, portrayed with a discreet elegance, that made the young man such an interesting motif to copy.

Sculpture Saturday *12

milkboys Art & Fanart, Sculpture Saturday 7 Comments

Did we miss the (queer) point of one of the world’s most famous sculptures? Any thought of the biblical King David is bound to conjure Michelangelo’s 17-foot-tall marble masterwork. Although the sculpture, created between 1501 and 1504, has become one of the most famous artworks in the world, the iconic symbol of the Florentine Republic would not have been possible without Donatello’s earlier work on the same theme, which remains one of the most beautiful, enigmatic, and radical sculptures ever made.

David’s beauty also denotes ancient ideals revived in the Renaissance: the value of physical perfection as a virtue and a celebration of sexual relationships between men and beautiful male youths

Composed at some point between the 1430s and 1450s, Donatello’s bronze David represents a series of firsts in art history. It constitutes the first bronze male nude and the first free-standing statue—unsupported by or unattached to a support—since antiquity. At the time Donatello made the sculpture, the character of David represented how Florence saw itself: a small, mercantile city-state without a duke, and with a history of defending itself against more powerful enemies. But while the David and Goliath story became a popular motif in Florentine art, there is a subversive, queer side to this particular version.

Just a shepherd boy when he fought Goliath, David’s disadvantage is demonstrated here by his prepubescent physique. Naked except for a helmet, sandals, and shin guards, David’s androgynous body is smooth and unmuscular. He shifts his weight onto one foot in naturalistic contrapposto—rather than an idealized, heroic pose—with his hand resting on his provocatively jutting hip as he triumphantly steps his foot on the Philistine conqueror’s head. When viewed from behind, it’s almost impossible to tell what gender or sex the figure is. His hair is long and luxurious, and, judging by the traces of gilding, was originally presented as gold. In one hand, he holds a rock from his sling; in the other, the oversized sword of his enemy.

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