A.I.C. : The Age of Cosimo di Medici
In the 1540's, to celebrate the consilidation of their autocratic control over Florence (and the duchy of Tuscany)-- the Medici family began planning for a monument to brute force -- centering on the depiction of Hercules and Anteus set into a fountain. After several false-starts, Nicolo Tribolo was chosen to design the monument, and Ammanati to make the broze figures, completed in 1559.
What an incredible masterpiece ! The power that ripples through every joint and tendon -- connecting to a majestic, awesome, symphonic unity. I went to stare at it every week it was on display. It's brutal -- monstrous -- dynamic --- relentless -- just like the modern secular states that eventually would dominate world history.
Ammanati -- you rule ! -- and much longer, and much better, than the Medici ever did.
Then there was this masterpiece by Christofano Allori (1557-1621) painted near the end of his life in 1616-18. Christofano was almost an exact contemporary of Caravaggio -- and like any other painter in his right mind -- followed the lead of that incredible genius -- into a world of dark, dramatic, sordid passions.
The story, as you must have guessed, celebrates that most notorious femme fatale, Judith, and her lover/victim, Holofernes, who touched her flesh just once -- and
immediately lost his head. Above is a detail of that crafty Jewess, Judith -- which, according to historians, is also a portrait of Christofano's young lover.
And this is a detail of poor Holofernes -- the great Iraqi general -- which is also said to be a portrait of the artist himself -- an aging devotee to the muse -- who also lost his head to a striking young woman. Look at the languor in her eyes -- and look at the severed power of his head -- and it tells a story that is tragic -- but not necesssarily one that should be considered cautionary.