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Renaissance Studies

A «Festschrift» in Honor of Professor Edward J. Olszewski

Jennifer H. Finkel, Michael D. Morford and Dena M. Woodall

This Festschrift is dedicated to Edward J. Olszewski and was created by his former PhD students in gratitude and honor of a professor whose innovative and comprehensive research spans the Renaissance and Baroque periods. His research provided much insight to the arts, issues of patronage, conservation, and context. The text includes an array of topics conceived by each author while studying with Olszewski. His intense seminar on Michelangelo was the catalyst for many articles: Jennifer Finkel introduces new ideas regarding the proposed sculptural plan for the façade of San Lorenzo; Dena M. Woodall provides keen insight on the representations of genii on the Sistine Ceiling; Karen Edwards proposes the early creation of the figura serpentinata in Michelangelo’s own drawings and paintings; and Rachel Geshwind offers a new interpretation of his use of color symbolism in the Sistine Chapel. This seminar, and another on Mannerism, involved provocative discussion of the competitors of Michelangelo, where the foundation was laid for the much needed re-examination of Baccio Bandinelli’s Hercules and Cacus in Michael Morford’s article, which introduces the probability of Machiavellian influence, and Christine Corretti’s interpretation of Cellini’s Perseus and Medusa as the symbol of Cosimo’s I ideas of justice and the influence of women in his life. Olszewski’s own research on patronage, especially of the Ottoboni, mirrors Henrietta Silberger’s article on the collecting habits of Livio Odescalchi. Finally, Holley Witchey provides a personal experience in authenticating works of art in collections (a topic of interest for Olszewski) and ends her essay with a series of important questions for each of us to ask ourselves.

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Bandinelli’s Hercules and Cacus: A Machiavellian Display for the Medici MICHAEL D. MORFORD 105

Extract

Michael D. Morford Bandinelli’s Hercules and Cacus: A Machiavellian Display for the Medici When the project for a pendant to Michelangelo’s David (fig. 1) was ini- tiated under the Republic as directed by the gonfaloniere, Piero Soderini, it was meant to represent victory using the Roman hero, Hercules, likely slay- ing Cacus. The sculpture was, as with the previous marble, to be a symbol of tyrannicide; David had destroyed one tyrant, Goliath, and Hercules would do the same with Cacus. The slaying of Goliath was deemed a necessary labor in the Old Testament to prove the faith of the young boy and to free his peo- ple from their tormentor. It was no less necessary, according to nearly all descriptions of the classical narrative, for Hercules to complete the similar task of freeing the innocents from evil; the monstrous Cacus was portrayed as a cause of great fear, and the inhabitants of the countryside needed to be freed from his torturous ways. In both of these original cases, the Medici were to be specifically considered the tyrants in the story, and the Republic, as David & Hercules, would be the hero while also celebrating the successful expulsion of the powerful family from Florence in 1494. Michelangelo, the loyal republican, was to design the Hercules specifi- cally for the opposite side of the main portal of the Palazzo della Signoria. The anti-Medici propaganda would have been quite powerful if finished by the master, but the commission was discontinued on the return of...

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