Take a closer look at this early 16th-century masterpiece by Lorenzo Lotto. Can’t say, it’s beautifully executed, just to hang it on the wall and admire. But what about this WTF factor? Put aside all connotations, we have here a little boy urinating on a naked woman through a laurel wreath. Obscene enough?
OK, let’s do some simple work. A little boy is Cupid. A naked woman is a goddess Venus but she’s wearing bridal headdress with tiara and veil. The painting is full of allegorical objects referring to marriage and was most probably artist’s wedding gift for wealthy Venetian couple. Stream of urine directed on bride’s belly is explained as symbolic wishes of fertility… Well, that’s that.
Does this explanation make this artwork less disturbing? Let me rephrase the question: is it possible that 500 hundred years ago such an ‘act of fertility’ was absolutely normal to look at? Has Lotto been just facetious in depicting this scene so blatantly? Or was he scandalous? Obscene or liberating?
Soon I will bring you some more controversial art to ask the same questions. All art is erotic – Gustav Klimt once said. Well, some art is perversely erotic.