My Florence (4): The Flags of Our Fathers
The second episode of My Florence is dedicated to The Flags of Our Fathers. Curiously indeed, most of Roman and Greek statues of men must undeniably show the wealth of flesh their models possess. However, there are four problems I am struggling with.
The first problem regards the fact that all the penises I could photo are flaccid, not a single one being erect. Of course, this is not necessarily true for all Italy, since in the ninth picture below you will see a postcard named ‘Piselii Italici’ where at least in four instances the penises are erect; however, I could find no such example in Florence. I would be very interested to know why: were the statues with erect penises destroyed under the Catholic Church’s orders, or simply Roman and Greek sculptors were just not interested in creating works with erect penises? If the latter, why?
Of course, colours and dimensions are different according to the model, the carver and his intention:
The second problem is that, as you can see in the fourth and fifth pictures, some penises are depicted in a very non-realistic, rather mythical manner: they are not only pierced, but their upper bodies are cut and resemble the body of an octopus… Both pictures are taken in the Piazza della Signoria, and the penises belong to two statues (satyrs?) from the Fountain of Neptune in front of the Palazzo Vecchio.
Interestingly enough, the pubic hair has also a remarkable variety of forms and dimensions:
Below, the first and fourth image belong to newer statues, made by contemporary artists; however, they are not that different from the original ones:
Below, the difference is not only in the specific, quite different form, but also in the artists’ choice of colour:
The colour and the material (stone, bronze, metal) are continuously changing. However, it is also interesting that the weight of the body introduces a very amusing stance (see the last/fourth picture below):
And of course, after a last example of an ancient work of art, we can pay attention to more contemporary items like postcards or pants – quite expensive and, to tell you the truth, not very… sexy!
The third problem is rather least interesting, but it says something about the way sexuality has been regarded and depicted over the centuries: very close to one of the bridges (Ponte allla Carraia), there is the statue of a person (probably Amerigo Vespucci from the 14th-15th centuries, but I’m not sure). Strangely enough, even when the depiction of penises was prohibited, the practice still remained, although in more hidden manners: the penis of the statue can be seen very well under the pants (last picture of this post)
Finally, the last problem is related to the depiction of women’s vulvae: I was not able to find any such representation in Florence’s statues. Since the breasts are of course very well represented, it is strange that at the imaginary level they are more important than the vulvae. If for the Roman and Greek imaginary man’s sexuality was represented by his penis, woman’s sexuality was represented by breasts but not by the vulva. I would really like to know why (the woman’s sexuality will be the subject of a special post, on Monday).
Point & shoot camera (Nikon Coolpix L100) & photos worked in Gimp.