“The Medici Boy” by John L’Heureux— Art, Politics and Passion

the medici boy

L’Heureux, John. “The Medici Boy”,  Astor + Blue Editions, 2013.

Art, Politics and Passion

Amos Lassen

Art, politics and passion come together in “The Medici Boy”. We go back in history to the Italy of Donatello. We find ourselves in Donatello’s workshop and meet Luca Mattei, his assistant who is the narrator of the story. Donatello is working on his bronze statue of David and Goliath and lusts for his male model, Agnolo, who is exceptionally good-looking but works as a hustler as well as a model. However, as pretty as the boy is, not all is pretty here. Agnolo is murdered and suspicion is on Donatella. Luca wants to save his life and will do whatever necessary even if it means the life of the master sculptor’s friend and great patron of art, Cosimo de’ Medici. Here is a novel that is written on three different tiers that intersect at times—it is a history of Luca and his family, a history of and a look at society in Florence and a history of Donatello and other artists during the Renaissance. Reading this is like having access to a period of history, obsession and desire. We learn about the mercantile economy, the social lives of gay men and prostitutes, the history of the Medicis, the plague and the creation of art. It is as if we are in Donatello’s bottega and surrounded by the people of Florence. Written with irony and gorgeous detail, this is a fascinating read.