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Hollow Men

Writing, Objects, and Public Image in Renaissance Italy

Susan Gaylard

Publication Year: 2013

This book relates developments in the visual arts and printing to humanist theories of literary and bodily imitation, bringing together 15th- and 16th-century frescoes, statues, coins, letters, dialogues, epic poems, personal emblems, and printed collections of portraits. Its interdisciplinary analyses show that Renaissance theories of emulating classical heroes generated a deep skepticism about self-presentation, ultimately contributing to a new awareness of representation as representation.Hollow Men shows that the Renaissance questioning of "interiority" derived from a visual ideal, the monument that was the basis of teachings about imitation. In fact, the dedecline of exemplary pedagogy and the emergence of modern masculine subjectivity were well under way in the mid-15th century, and that these changes were hastened by the rapid development of the printed image.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

Part 1 Monuments, Imitation, and the Noble Ideal in Early Renaissance Italy

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Introduction Reinventing Nobility?Artifacts and the Monumental Pose from Petrarch to Platina

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pp. 13-30

The Florentine church of San Lorenzo is famous for Michelangelo’s Medici chapel (1519–34), whose main point of interest is the elaborate tomb monuments to Giuliano and Lorenzo. Each year, thousands of tourists visit the site to pay their respects to Michelangelo and gaze at the large statues of two good-looking young princes. Many visitors do ...

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Chapter One How to Perform Like a Statue: Ghirlandaio, Pontano, and Exemplarity

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pp. 31-63

In about 1332, Giotto painted a series of Biblical and classical heroes at Castelnuovo for King Robert of Naples; this decorative program may have been inspired by Petrarch, who at that time was working on De viris illustribus.1 Now lost, the frescoes were much admired and imitated over the next century and a half, to the extent that the commemoration...

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Chapter Two From Castrated Statues to Empty Colossi: Emasculation vs. Monumentality in Bembo, Castiglione, and the Sala Paolina

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pp. 64-120

In the Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome, there is a room splendidly redecorated under Pope Paul III to Perino del Vaga’s design (1545–47). The ceiling and walls of the Sala Paolina include stories about Alexander the Great and St. Paul, with the wall sections alternating between scenes in red-brown monochrome (in imitation of bronze reliefs) and enormous...

Part II Print Monuments, Exposure, and Strategies of Concealment

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Chapter Three Banishing the Hollow Man: Print, Clothing, and Aretino’s Emblems of Truth

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pp. 123-159

In a letter to his mother from the Montefeltro court, Baldassarre Castiglione wrote in 1504:
Vorei che la M. Vostra facesse sollicitare maestro Bernardino armarolo, per quella mia celata: e non havendo lui hauto veluto per fornirla, prego quella che voglia sub fargelo dare, e s[i]a negro. E perché ’l mi è forza anchor havere una lanza: . . . prego la M. Vostra ...

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Chapter Four Heroes with Damp Brains? Image vs. Text in Printed Portrait-Books

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pp. 160-226

The following encomium to manly physical attributes is drawn from the fourth book of Francesco Sansovino’s 1565 history of the Orsini family:
In questo Principe, che di bella presenza di huomo da guerra, et di honorato aspetto di volto, . . . fu gran virtù congiunta con sommo valore: si come si comprende in questa faccia venerabile, nella quale...

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Chapter Five Silenus Strategies:The Failure of Personal Emblems

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pp. 227-286

The “hollow men” of the title of this book, who weaken the supposed solid monumentality of Pontano’s prince and Castiglione’s courtier, are finally validated by the Academy of the Occulti’s adoption of the Silenus device about thirty years after Aretino associated his literary identity with this figure (Fig. 5.1). The Occulti (whose name means...

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pp. 287-294

The idea of proposing images of ancient heroes as models for the viewer was by no means new in the fifteenth century, but it was the foundation for much humanistic rhetoric of imitation. Following the fame of Giotto’s 1332 fresco cycle of ancient heroes for King Robert of Anjou, the fashion spread across Italy for the display of visual exemplars...


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pp. 295-334

Works Cited

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pp. 335-358


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pp. 359-372

E-ISBN-13: 9780823251759
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823251742
Print-ISBN-10: 0823251748

Page Count: 336
Illustrations: 24 b/w illustrations
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: Cloth

OCLC Number: 847005647
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Hollow Men

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Italian literature -- To 1400 -- History and criticism.
  • Italian literature -- 15th century -- History and criticism.
  • Italian language -- Early modern, 1500-1700.
  • Art, Renaissance -- Italy -- History.
  • Masculinity in literature.
  • Masculinity in art
  • Renaissance -- Italy.
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