Tag: Italy

Grotta dell’Addaura Cave Painting (11,000 BCE)

Grotta dell’Addaura Cave Painting (11,000 BCE)

Date & Location: 10,000 BCE in Mount Pellegrino in Palermo, Sicily, southern Italy.

Media: Painting

Significance to Queer Art History:

This cave painting was found in 1953 in Mount Pellegrino by archaeologist Jole Bovio Marconi after an explosion uncovered part of the site during the Allied Invasion of Sicily in World War II. The writings of Marconi describe her own interpretation of the depicted scene to be homoerotic in nature due to the male figures erect penises parallel to each other.

There are several interpretations of the scene depicted:

  1. The figures in a circle are tied in rope for a sacrificial ritual and splayed in arched-back positions by two shaman-like figures at the top with bird masks honoring the bird goddess.
  2. A homoerotic ritual conducted by the two shamans with the lines representing energy and/or male ejaculation at or after puberty.

Resources and Further Reading:

“Addaura Cave Engravings (11,000 BCE).” A-Z Of PREHISTORIC ART, www.visual-arts-cork.com/prehistoric/addaura-cave.htm. Accessed 15 July 2018.

Penczak, Christopher. “Before the Pen and the Plow.” In Gay Witchcraft: Empowering the Tribe, 10-12. Weiser Books, 2003.

Purpura, Giovanni. “Addaura.” http://www1.unipa.it/dipstdir/portale/ARTICOLI%20GIOVANNI/Addaura.pdf.

 

 

Il Sodoma (1477-1549)

Il Sodoma (1477-1549)

Giovanni Bazzi, also known as Il Sodoma. (A mocking name aimed at Bazzi’s homosexuality that Bazzi later began to embrace) was a painter of the Italian renaissance, born in Savoy, Italy.  He was influenced by the prior works of Leonardo Da Vinci and Raphael in his historical, mythical, and religious frescoes.

Featured Artwork: Marriage of Alexander the Great and Roxana (1571)

Where can I find this artwork?: Fresco at Villa Farnesina in Rome
Significance to Queer Art History: Alexander the Great is featured in the middle, gazing at his soon to be wife, Roxana as she is undressed by cupids for their consummation of marriage. Meanwhile, on the right, a clothed Hephaestion (Alexander’s best man) leans upon the marriage god, Hymen. Hephaestion was a general in Alexander’s army along with being his intimate partner and personal body guard. The two were inseparable throughout life. This fresco by Il Sodoma, exemplifies Alexander the Great’s bisexuality through Hephaestion’s closeness to the marriage god. While not married by law, Alexander and Hephaestion’s closeness during the marriage of Roxana and Alexander remains.

Resources & further reading:

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Il Sodoma.” Encyclopædia Britannica. March 31, 2017. Accessed August 2017. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Il-Sodoma.

Saslow, James M. Pictures and Passions: A History of Homosexuality in the Visual Arts. New York, NY: Viking, 2000. 97-99.

Caravaggio (1571-1610)

Caravaggio (1571-1610)

Featured Artwork: The Musicians

Media: Oil Paint

Date and location: 1595 in Rome

Where can I find this artwork?: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, NY (USA)

Significance to Queer Art History: Caravaggio’s work, characterized by his dramatic chiaroscuro technique (chiaroscuro uses dramatic lights and darks to model the figures coming out of the shadows in a “theatrical spotlight” manner) were sensual and dreamlike. This work in particular hosts a homosocial event of music and its connections to love, as signified by the cupid on the left side of the painting.

 

Resources & Further Reading: 

“Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi) | The Musicians | The Met.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accessed August 2017. http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/435844.

Saslow, James M. Pictures and Passions: A History of Homosexuality in the Visual Arts. New York, NY: Viking, 2000. 114-118.

 

Unknown- Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple

Unknown- Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple

Featured Artwork: Presentation of the Virgin by Fra Carnevale

Date & Location: 1465 in Florence, Italy

Media: Tempera and oil paint

Significance to Queer Art History:
The male couple in the middle reflects “temptation” and modern relationships in Florence with their modern dress and the figure on the left (almost half way up the painting) “chucking” the other man under the chin in suggestive fashion. This was considered an erotic gesture and perhaps a lash at the purity of the rest of the scene that alluded to some of the contemporary lives of young men in Florence.

Close-up view of couple:

Where can I view this artwork?: The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA (USA) (Museum Council Gallery (Gallery 254))

Resources & Further Reading:

“Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple.” Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. February 05, 2017. Accessed August 15, 2017. http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/presentation-of-the-virgin-in-the-temple-32587.

Saslow, James M. Pictures and Passions: A History of Homosexuality in the Visual Arts. New York, NY: Viking, 2000. 85-87.

 

Donatello (1386-1466)

Donatello (1386-1466)

Donatello, born as Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi was a sculptor prominently featured through the Italian Renaissance in Florence, Italy. Donatello was one of the first modern artists to be known as gay in Florence, a city where homosexuality was prominent among artists and patrons alike, albeit, still frowned upon by certain sectors (namely, the church.) Donatello’s studio was a homosocial environment where in which, he chose apprentices from his standards of beauty rather than skill.

Featured Artwork: David

Date & Location: (1430-1440) in Florence, Italy

Media: Bronze

Where can I view this artwork?: Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence, Italy.

Donatello’s David was the first known freestanding life-size male nude sculpture since ancient Roman monuments. This was a renaissance of restored “perfection” in the classical arts. This figure idolized male form and androgyny in its form and soft curves.

The symbolism in the piece also recalls an early homoerotic allusion to the eagle of Jupiter in David’s feathered helmet-tail. Roman myth told of Jupiter’s eagle looking and lusting after the divine hero, Ganymede.

Resources & Further Reading:

Saslow, James M. Pictures and Passions: A History of Homosexuality in the Visual Arts. New York, NY: Viking, 2000. 83-84.

National Museum of Bargello – Florence. Accessed August 06, 2017. http://www.museumsinflorence.com/musei/museum_of_bargello.html.

Artist Unknown- Funerary Relief of Fonteia Helena and Fonteia Eleusis (21-14 BCE)

Artist Unknown- Funerary Relief of Fonteia Helena and Fonteia Eleusis (21-14 BCE)

 

Featured Artwork: Funerary Relief of Fonteia Helena and Fonteia Eleusis

Date & Location: 21-14 BCE (Augustinian Period) Rome, Italy

Media: Marble Relief

Where can I view this artwork?: This relief currently belongs to the British Museum’s collection

Significance to Queer Art History: This sculpture was a commemoration of freedwomen Fonteia Helena and Fonteia Eleusis. The figures placement together signifies an important relationship in life. It is argued that the two women were lovers or even married due to their position as one that was also commonly given to heterosexual married couples in funerary reliefs. The sculpture was modified a few centuries later by an unknown person in attempt to modify the left figure’s appearance to appear as a male figure by cutting off her hair.

Resources & Further Reading:

“Relief.” British Museum. Accessed July 25, 2017. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details/collection_image_gallery.aspx?assetId=391042001&objectId=394264&partId=1.

Brooten, Bernadette J. Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism. 1998. 58-59.