In 1497 an adolescent brought before the Florentine Officers of the Night confessed to having been sodomised by several men. He also mentioned a shopkeeper, who did not sodomise him, but who, when the boy passed by his shop, would exclaim: ‘What sort of beautiful bottom is this!’ touching it with his hands (‘“Che è di questo culazzino!” toccandolo colle sue mani … ').1 This episode neatly encapsulates the relation between desire, sight, and touch in reality and that between vision and tactile imagination in representation. The beautiful bottom of Donatello's David (Fig. 1), with the plume of Goliath's helmet teasingly stroking the inner thigh, is a consummate example of this interplay between the senses. Donatello's David is physically characterised as a hermaphroditic adolescent. According to the stereotypes of the day, the beardless boy, with softly curving body and tender flesh, was feminised as a sexual object.2...

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