Queer eye: Donatello is reviewed through an LGBTQ+ prism


The Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones is always keen to give his pick of the exhibitions for the year a little bit of oomph. Among the must-see shows on his list for 2023 is the first major UK exhibition of Donatello, opening at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (11 February-11 June, see p45).

The Florentine Old Master is considered a founding father of the Italian Renaissance, and one of the most important sculptors of all time, but Jones is viewing his achievements through a decidedly gay prism (many Renaissance artists were, after all, on the LGBTQ+ spectrum).

“The queer sculptor who stunned 15th-century Florence explodes again after six centuries,” he writes. “Donatello’s homosexuality is attested by Renaissance sources as well as being flaunted in the ways he sees the male nude, yet he was honoured by the Medici.” This will not surprise scholars, who have been more focused on his sculptural forms rather than whose pecs he was admiring.


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