Beautiful Bodies: Spirituality, Sexuality and Gender in Leonardo's Milan

In the closing decades of the quattrocento, in Sforza Milan, a bold new form of imagery emerged. Working under the influence of Leonardo da Vinci a number of Lombard artists produced works of art in which sitters were idealised beyond recognition, or the beauty of the divine was re-imagined as strikingly androgynous. Significant numbers of these images were produced, and they found particular favour with elite consumers. How did contemporaries understand them? What explains their social and cultural potency? This paper explores these questions from a range of perspectives, taking account of contemporary medical understandings of the sexed body, challenges to the gender binary, libertine attitudes towards homoeroticism and the creation and maintenance of networks of power.

Maya Corry is Lecturer in History of Art at Oxford Brookes. She works on Renaissance Italy, and the key themes of her research are gender, sexuality, the body and spirituality. Previously Maya taught at the universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Lincoln. Alongside her research and teaching she is active as a curator, including as lead co-curator of the Madonnas and Miracles exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.