Serpent's Egg

The Eroticism of Fat Men

An orgy of wine, lust and sublime beauty

bacchus_ariadne

Titian was in his early thirties (we now believe) when he painted the National Gallery’s Bacchus and Ariadne, and in the current exhibition there this picture is immeasurably enhanced by keeping company with three others from the scheme of five to which it once belonged.

They were installed, cheek by jowl, in a small, oblong room known as the Camerino, in the Castello of Ferrara, and were commissioned by the soldier duke, Alfonso d’Este, for private delectation, rather than the pleasure of his courtiers.

Were they, one wonders, an erotic excitement before bedding Lucrezia Borgia, his menacing wife, when the idea of the Camerino was conceived, or the pornographic stimulus for a quick rise in the codpiece during the day, or just one more example of what idle Renaissance poets, philosophers, scholars and Neo-Platonists devised for the patronage of powerful men with too much money?

 

Brian Sewell

Evening Standard 28 Feb 2003

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