Friday, April 13, 2012

Karen's Digression: Who is the guy on the front cover of our book?

Front Cover of our book painted by Bronzino
The new catch phrase on the back cover of our new book/zine is "hipster love."  Also on the back and front cover is a picture of a naked man affected by dwarfism.  Who is that guy?

His name is Morgante, and he lived in the Medici court starting around 1540 working for the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo I de' Medici. According to Vasari (the first art historian), Morgante was clever, learned, and very kind.  Although he was seen as a possession, the Grand Duke called him "our beloved dwarf" and granted him land and the right to marry.  He was a faithful companion to Cosimo I de' Medici, and while he was asked to perform entertaining tasks, he also accompanied Cosimo on many diplomatic trips.

Evidentially, many dwarfs were in the Medici Court. Called "nani," the dwarfs entertained and amused, being the subject of fascination, laughter and ridicule.  Morgante’s case was no exception. Records testify that he was often mortified because of required tasks such as fighting naked with a monkey.

The images for our front and back cover of our book are taken from a painting by Bronzino which has a front and a back side.  On the front of the canvas, Morgante holds an owl. Morgante was employed as a bird catcher, and the owl helped him catch birds. On the back side of the canvas, Morgante holds birds caught from hunting.  The two sides of the painting show time; before and after the hunt.

Although the man in the painting was referred to as Morgante while at the Medici Court, this was only a humorous title based on the character Morgante, a giant from the 15th-century epic poem by Luigi Pulci.  Morgante's real name was Braccio di Bartalo.

Note: information for this entry was taken from "Discovery News", Sepetember 2010 "Naked Dwarf Again Revealed in Painting"
Sculpture of Morgante

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I would like to put that statue on my doorstep, please. This "our beloved dwarf" phenomenon deserves discussion at our next PBR Book Club meeting!