Artibus et Historiae no. 60 (XXX)

2009, ISSN 0391-9064

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EDWARD J. OLSZEWSKI - Bring on the Clones: Pollaiuolo's Battle of Ten Nude Men

This study interprets Pollaiuolo's engraving of the Battle of Ten Nude Men as an episode from the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece, in which the hero battled soldiers springing from the dragon's teeth he had planted as part of a trial. These earth-born warriors in Apollonius's Argonautica were identified by Petrus Berchorius as just men who battle the evil in each other. Pollaiuolo depicted the figures as clones of Jason based on Valerius Flaccus's Argonautica, which reported them as mistaking each other for Jason because charmed by Medea. The print is dated to Rome after 1489, the date of publication of Berchorius's Moralized Ovid, and of the discovery of a Roman marble prototype used by Pollaiuolo for his composition. It is attributed to Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere as patron.

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