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285 Views 8 Replies Last post: Oct 10, 2017 7:18 PM by AlexanderLaurel RSS
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Sep 29, 2017 5:19 PM

Help ID plants in Renaissance Sculpture

Hello all,

 

I am a graduate student in the History of Art here in London, and I have a bit of an odd question that I hope you can help me with.

 

I am currently researching a bronze statuette (22.4cm tall) by Florentine Renaissance sculptor Bertoldo di Giovanni, circa 1470. This 'Heraldic Wild Man' - a satyr with little horns and a tail -  seems to have two different types of plants on him as part of his costume.

 

-First, he is covered in a series of vines with leaves. I assume these are ivy?

 

-Second, and this is harder to see, he is wearing a headdress / crown of what seem to be thick, tongue-like leaves,woven into his hair. Any ideas on what they are? They are looped on a rope that ties behind his neck (so this seems to NOT be a vine, but rather a string with leaves attached)

 

I am posting in the hopes that someone will recognize these plants. In the Renaissance, different plans had different meanings, so identifying them might help me learn more about the original conception of the sculpture.

 

Thank you all for your assistance, and please let me know if you have any further questions.

 

-A

 

 

Untitled-1.jpg

 

Untitled-2.jpg

 

Untitled-3.jpg

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 29, 2017 10:37 PM (in response to AlexanderLaurel)
    Re: Help ID plants in Renaissance Sculpture

    Hi - welcome!

     

    Ivy or grape vines but can't really see what's on the head.

    This may help until someone else responds

    http://www.theoi.com/Flora1.html

    http://www.theoi.com/Flora2.html

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      • Currently Being Moderated
        Oct 2, 2017 8:41 PM (in response to AlexanderLaurel)
        Re: Help ID plants in Renaissance Sculpture

        Hello AlexanderLaurel and Dr T.

         

        I think Ivy seems likely for the body garland, the leaf shape is fairly consistent with the young leaves. I am also not sure whether I can see the head garland. Is it possible to show a picture of an individual leaf? It might not help, but at least we can be sure we're trying to identify the right thing.

         

        Having found images of the whole statue I see he is holding onto, or resting on something with his right hand. Do you know what this is, might it give a clue as to the identity of the plants in the sense of a classical mythology figure often being depicted with the same items?

         

        Regards Lucy

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    Oct 3, 2017 10:35 PM (in response to AlexanderLaurel)
    Re: Help ID plants in Renaissance Sculpture

    The title of the statue refers to the mythical Wild Man of mediaeval Europe, which is still seen in heraldry today.

     

    It may be helpful to see the back view of the statue, as it shows the figure has some Pan Pipes (Syrinx) attached to his belt. It also shows some of the garland leaves (or are they flowers?) a little more clearly.

     

    https://www.frick.org/sites/default/files/styles/max-wh_full/public/exhibitions/objects/19162003B_2000.jpg

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      Oct 5, 2017 8:35 PM (in response to Mulberoo)
      Re: Help ID plants in Renaissance Sculpture

      I think it may be impossible to get a definitive answer to this question. Unfortunately the leaves are not a distinctive shape like the ivy, and the depiction may be somewhat stylised as well.

       

      I have found a blog from the Metropolitan Museum of Art called The Medieval Garden Enclosed. It mentions lots of plants associated with the Medieval period, including their use in art. Of those Hazel is mentioned, and is shown in a scene from the Unicorn Tapestries, called The Unicorn is Killed and Brought to the Castle. The leaves of the Hazel look reasonably similar to those on the statue (but I would say they are not particulary life like).

       

      This species grows in woodland, so could perhaps be associated with a "Wild Man", this is just a guess of course. Hope this helps.

       

      Lucy

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