This paper concerns the influence of texts by such varied writers as Pliny the Elder, Pseudo-Matthew, Alexander Nequam, John of Garland, Dante Alighieri, Giovanni Boccaccio, and Lorenzo de’ Medici, il Magnifico, on phallic imagery associated with Jesus as portrayed in two works by the 15th-century Florentine artists, Masaccio and Donatello. In one work the divine phallus forms a visual pun to represent both genitalia and something else; in the other, another entity by virtue of its placement in the composition alludes to the genital of Jesus. In both instances a metaphorical function is established.
The paper will show that the Florentine masters most likely would not have created their works as they did without the inspiration of the ancient and late medieval texts with which they clearly were familiar.
The talk will include specific quotations from the texts in juxtaposition with images not only of works by Masaccio and Donatello, but some by ancient and medieval Italian artists that make similar metaphorical references via images of the male genital.