(b. 1494, Pontormo, d. 1557, Firenze)

Study for a male figure

Bleck chalk on paper, 403 x 265 mm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

This is a study for the figure of Liber in the lunette fresco in the Salone of the Villa Medici at Poggio a Caiano. In two preliminary studies Pontormo depicted Liber as an ithyphallic god (a representation of a deity having an erect penis), shading his eyes with one hand. But such a characterization of the figure was clearly felt to be too indecent, and so it was abandoned in favour of the ingenious solution found in the fresco: the youth no longer covers his face with his hand but with a cloth, on which he is also sitting and which could easily have covered his genitals, but that is exactly what it does not do, and so attention is naturally directed to that point.