Sculpture Journal

The politics of the gilded body in early Florentine statuary

Sculpture Journal (2020), 29, (2), 131–158.

Abstract

Responding to conservation campaigns that have brought to light the effects of fully gilded bronze in early fifteenth-century Florentine sculpture, this article addresses the scope and limits of the gilded body in the social and political life of the city. It asks what concerns and relations informed this kind of investment in gold surfaces by the Florentine oligarchy, and to what effect, bearing in mind that all the monumental surviving works were produced or begun within a few years of one another and have no legacy until after the demise of the Republic in 1512. Focusing on Donatello’s St Louis of Toulouse for Orsanmichele, the effigy of the deposed Pope Baldassare Cossa at the Baptistery and the winged bronze fountain figure for the old Medici palace, the article probes the varied material signification and animation of these gold bodies within their distinct contexts of viewing. By investigating the moment of the fully gilded figure, the sometimes fraught relationships between civic and princely, pagan and Christian ideals are thrown into relief, showing that the aesthetics of the gold surface cannot be separated from its politics.

Access Token
£25.00
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Wright, Alison