(active c. 1525-1550 in Venice)

Portrait Medal of Pietro Aretino

Bronze, diameter 4,8 cm
Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence

The front of the medal shows Pietro Aretino (1492-1557), a well-known poet of his period who was famous because of his satirical poems. he is represented as a profile bust, facing right, with a long beard and full, short hair. What is specific here, as opposed to other medals depicting Aretino, is the reverse side: a satyr-head, composed of a tangle of phalluses and testicles, including one penis that is ejaculating. There were various explanations for this phallus-head. It could be a revenge for an insulting epigram of Aretino, or it could be a reference to Aretino's homosexuality.

The idea of the phallus-head was not an invention of the unknown medallist. It also appears on a maiolica plate from 1536 and in a drawing attributed to Cecchino del Salviati.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.