(b. 1804, Montegrino, d. 1873, Cremona)

Salmacis and Hermaphroditus

Oil on canvas
Private collection

Giovanni Carnovali, an Italian painter, is known as Il Piccio.

In Greek mythology, Hermaphroditus or Hermaphroditos was the child of Aphrodite and Hermes. He was a minor deity of bisexuality and effeminacy. According to the legend, he grew up to become an incredibly beautiful and masculine man. One day while he was in the woods, a nymph named Salmacis saw him and became so infatuated with him that she grabbed hold of him and refused to let go. She made a prayer to the gods to make them never part. It was the Greek way of explaining why one out of every fifty people was a hermaphrodite. Hermaphroditus later became friends with Dionysius and the two gods are considered to be the patron gods of all hermaphrodites.