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Hollow MenWriting, Objects, and Public Image in Renaissance Italy$
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Susan Gaylard

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823251742

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823251742.001.0001

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How to Perform Like a Statue: Ghirlandaio, Pontano, and Exemplarity

How to Perform Like a Statue: Ghirlandaio, Pontano, and Exemplarity

(p.31) Chapter One How to Perform Like a Statue: Ghirlandaio, Pontano, and Exemplarity
Hollow Men

Susan Gaylard

Fordham University Press

This chapter shows that there was a political need-at least fifty years earlier than the traditional dating of the breakdown of exemplarity-for a single authoritative pose that seemed timeless and classicizing but was enigmatic and ambiguous. Ghirlandaio’s fresco cycle in the Sala de’ Gigli in Florence (1483) and Pontano’s reinterpretation of ancient political theory in De principe (1460s-1490) demonstrate a nuanced awareness of the distinction between a subject’s interior and exterior. This awareness undermines the pose of monumentality proposed by the ancient exemplars in both Ghirlandaio’s seemingly pro-Medicean fresco program and Pontano’s education of his prince. In response to political crisis, both Pontano and Ghirlandaio emphasize enigmatic surface over virtuous substance. As a result, their exemplary heroic figures are threatened by hollowness and its correlative, effeminacy—and so need to emphasize masculinity.

Keywords:   frescoes, Sala dei Gigli, Ghirlandaio, Pontano, exemplar, De principe, perform, virtue, surface, effeminacy

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