Codpieces

I have discovered that I am not the only person to have spotted the scale of the codpieces in the work of Moroni (a cod is middle English for a scrotum).   Jock McFadyen asked me about them last night.   And Jonathan Jones draws attention to them in his review in the Guardian.   What is odd is that they go unmentioned in the texts of the captions and catalogue entries, although it is by far the most striking feature of the portrait of Podestà Antonio Navagero from the Brera, a man who is otherwise of the utmost respectability, described at the time as ‘truly a very intelligent and prudent gentleman’, depicted impassively holding a letter and ignoring his codpiece of impressive proportions.   So, the question is:  is it a symbol of virility or was it because he had venereal disease ?

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