Donatello (circa 1386 – December 13, 1466) was the finest sculptor of the fifteenth century. He revived and refined the art of classical sculpture in the round, and many of his works are explicitly homoerotic. His David is lissome and his St. George became emblematic of beauty for admirers of the male form. Donatello was notorious for his love of boys. A surviving story has him chasing, with murderous intent, a young thief, whose beauty winds up charming the artist into forgiveness on sight. Florentine scholar Poliziano, in his book Detti piacevoli, recorded several jokes concerning Donatello’s relationships with young male servants. He noted that the sculptor hired particularly attractive boys, and “stained” them so that no one else would want them; another anecdote was about an assistant who left Donatello after a fight, and how they made up by “laughing” at each other—contemporary slang for having sex.
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