Art History Hotties: Portrait of Pier Maria Rossi di San Secondo

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Parmigianino, Portrait of Pier Maria Rossi di San Secondo, 1535-1539

By BLAIR HUXMAN

The hottie on the left is the primary painting of focus. While Mrs. Maria Rossi di San Secondo looks great, she's not packing heat like her hubby. While researching information on the portrait to the left, I discovered it was made as a pair to the piece on the right. The husband and wife, surrounded by their sons, lovingly gaze into each others eyes for all eternity. How cute, I naively thought as I prepared to move on and write about Pier's attractiveness. Suddenly, it clicked. I became Ace Ventura looking for the stolen Miami Dolphins bottle-nose dolphin, Snowflake, as I put the puzzle together by researching every lead extensively. This was not some innocent family portrait. Only when pasting both pictures into a Google Doc, sizing each painting equally, and using my Window 7's Snipping Tool, did the truth finally reveal itself to me. Pier's children ignorantly play around his wife's dress...except one. Following poor little Federico's line of vision, I discover he is transfixed on his father's... mid-section. But what exactly is going on with man's best friend in this painting? Knowing I couldn't leave my classmates as curious as I was, I dug deeper into Pier's mysterious bulge.

After having to delete my browser history multiple times, I finally learn that Pier is wearing a codpiece, a pouch that attaches to the crotch to extenuate pocket rockets. This was fashionable in 16th century Italy, and, sadly not as scandalous as I was hoping. Codpieces reached their peak in fashion during the spread of syphilis in the early 16th century because infected men had more room for bandages with it attached. Men also wore it as a sign of power and dominance. Men vied to have the most impressive codpiece. It even doubled as a coin purse for all your loose florins. However, what Pier used it for, only little Federico will ever know. Federico's shock, confusion, and curiosity will forever be captured in this seemingly innocent family portrait. 


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