One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Fig Leaf

A fig leaf is widely used figuratively to convey the covering up of an act or an object that is embarrassing or distasteful with something of innocuous appearance, a metaphorical reference to the Biblical Book of Genesis, in which Adam and Eve used fig leaves to cover their nudity after eating the fruit from the Tree of knowledge of good and evil. Some paintings and statues have the genitals of their subjects covered by a representation of an actual fig leaf or similar object, either as part of the work or added afterwards for perceived modesty.


In Ancient Greek art, male nakedness, including the genitals, was common, although the female vulval area was generally covered in art for public display. This tradition continued in Ancient Roman art until the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity, when heroic nudity vanished. During the Middle Ages, only the unfortunate (most often the damned) were usually shown naked, although the depictions were then often rather explicit.[2] Adam and Eve were often shown wearing fig or other leaves, following the Biblical description. This was especially a feature of Northern Renaissance art.

From about 1530, the developing reaction to Renaissance freedoms and excesses that led to the Council of Trent also led to a number of artworks, especially in churches or public places, being altered to reduce the amount of nudity on display. Often, as in the famous case of Michelangelo's The Last Judgement, drapery or extra branches from any nearby bush was used. For free-standing statues this did not work well, and carved or cast fig leaves were sometimes added, such as with the plaster copy of Michelangelo's David displayed in Victorian era London.[3] The Adam and Eve panels on the Ghent Altarpiece, already equipped with fig leaves by Jan van Eyck, were simply replaced with 19th-century panels copying the figures but clothed. Many of these alterations have since been reversed, damaging some of the statues.

[From Wikipedia:]

Matisse Crucifix (Vatican)

Rome: Vatican II






Laocoön (/lˈɒkɵ.ɒn/; Ancient Greek: Λαοκόων, IPA: [laokóɔːn]), the son of Acoetes, is a figure in Greek and Roman mythology and the Epic Cycle.[1] He was a Trojan priest who was attacked, with his two sons, by giant serpents sent by the gods. Though not mentioned by Homer, the story of Laocoön had been the subject of a tragedy, now lost, by Sophocles and was mentioned by other Greek writers, though the events around the attack by the serpents vary considerably. The most famous account of these is now in Virgil's Aeneid where Laocoön was a priest of Poseidon (or Neptune for the Romans), who was killed with both his sons after attempting to expose the ruse of the Trojan Horse by striking it with a spear.[2]

Virgil gives Laocoön the famous line "Equō nē crēdite, Teucrī / Quidquid id est, timeō Danaōs et dōna ferentēs", or "Do not trust the Horse, Trojans / Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even bearing gifts." This line is the source of the saying: "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts."

In Sophocles, however, he was a priest of Apollo, who should have been celibate but had married. The serpents killed only the two sons, leaving Laocoön himself alive to suffer.[3] In other versions he was killed for having committed an impiety by making love with his wife in the presence of a cult image in a sanctuary,[4] or simply making a sacrifice in the temple with his wife present.[5] In this second group of versions, the snakes were sent by Poseidon[6] and in the first by Poseidon and Athena, or Apollo, and the deaths were interpreted by the Trojans as proof that the horse was a sacred object. The two versions have rather different morals: Laocoön was either punished for doing wrong, or for being right.

[From Wikipedia:]

Rome: Vatican I











Thursday, July 2, 2015

Piazza del Popolo

Early one morning I saw another obelisk at the end of the street. Had to follow that thread.