I begin with a sentence you never thought you’d read, from me or anyone else. Ready?
I love naked dwarves. Or, be it better said, I love a single naked dwarf, although I’m open to loving others should they make themselves available. The Naked Dwarf I love the most? The Naked Dwarf who is leading in the clubhouse? Oh yeah, that would be Bronzino’s (1503-1572) portrait of Morgante (c. 1655). I can just about hear the spokesman for the Dos Equis ad: “I don’t always go out hunting, but when I go, I do so nude, with giant months fluttering about my business.”
Portraits of court dwarves (and jesters) become somewhat common during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In particular, Diego Velazquez does some rather striking portraits of some of the dwarves attached to the Spanish royal court. Sebastian de Mora (1643) is but one wonderfully striking example. Go ahead; say something about him looking like an Oompa Loompa. I dare you. He is taking none of your guff.
To be fair, I generally dig Bronzino, but this painting at the Uffizi—it is front and back of the same canvas—really does take the taco. And who says that art history cannot be fun(ny)?