The prize-winning author of A Woman Run Mad, The Shrine at Altamira and The Miracle returns with his long awaited The Medici Boy, a stunning recreation of early Renaissance Florence and a masterful portrait of the complex, contradictory, and captivating sculptor Donatello.
The Medici Boy begins in the early 1400s. It is a time of great, ground- breaking artists: della Quercia, Brunelleesci, Ghiberti, Fra Anngelico, Uccello della Robbia, Masaccio, and Donatello. It is also a time of wealthy and powerful families: the Medici, the Albizzi, the Pazzi, the Strozzi, the Sforza, and the Visconti. It is a time when, for a few years, three popes reign simultaneously. And it is a time, finally, when art and politics and religion collide in a single, unique historical moment.
Agnolo Mattei, a street boy and sometime prostitute, enters Donatello’s bottega and offers to pose in exchange for money. He is young and palely beautiful and Donatello is at once taken with him. But what begins as sexual fascination quickly becomes love and in time a consuming passion. Donatello sculpts him as David, one foot on the head of Goliath, and guarantees him immortality as the first bronze nude in over a thousand years and one of the master works of the Italian Renaissance. But Donatello’s consuming passion has its own inevitable consequences.
We view these consequences through the eyes of Luca, the narrator, who is a failed Franciscan, a failed painter, a failed sculptor, and whose only claim to our attention is his love and knowledge of Donatello. It is this knowledge that gives us access to the mystery of the great sculptor himself in what J.M. Coetzee calls “a gripping story of love, genius, and betrayal.”