The Alluring Beauty of a Leonardesque Ideal: Masculinity and Spirituality in Renaissance Milan

Corry, Maya (2014) The Alluring Beauty of a Leonardesque Ideal: Masculinity and Spirituality in Renaissance Milan. In: Sex, Gender and the Sacred: Reconfiguring Religion in Gender History. Blackwell Publishing Ltd, pp. 170-194. ISBN 9781118833766

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This article examines the relationship between beauty, gender, the body and spirituality in Italian Renaissance thought and art. In the late fifteenth century, large numbers of religious images were produced in Sforza Milan featuring extraordinarily beautiful figures. The artistic decision to depict divine figures as epicene youths was made in full awareness of the devotional function of these paintings. In forming this ideal type, Leonardo da Vinci and Leonardesque artists drew on longstanding intellectual currents that asserted a close connection between youthful male beauty and religiosity. This iconography gained popularity in the Sforza court, where spiritual and secular conceptions of the body and masculinity intersected with one another, particularly in the Neoplatonic thought that was current in this cultural sphere. Contemporaries perceived the sensual potency of youthful beauty to be contiguous with its devotional significance, as affirmed by evidence from court poetry, theological discourse, art theory and Leonardo's writings. There were tensions inherent in this relationship, however, which these artists sought to incorporate into the viewing experience, guiding worshippers towards correct responses via a somatic ideal that harmonised elements from both sexes. Viewers were thus required to play an active role in the creation of the image's meaning.

Keywords:Renaissance; Milan; Leonardo da Vinci; gender; masculinity; spirituality; beauty; body; Neoplatonism; androgyny
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V350 History of Art
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V190 History by Period not elsewhere classified
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V223 Italian History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V330 History of Religions
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V320 Social History
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
ID Code:37223
Deposited On:03 Oct 2019 13:32

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