Why Henry VIII’s Codpiece Is So Monumental in Holbein’s Famous, Lost Portrait


During the 16th and 15th centuries, stylish guys sported acodpiece Initially a garment developed to safeguard and support the proverbial “Willy” (particularly when guys used leggings), the codpiece changed into something else– an indication of potency, “a bulging and unreasonable representation of masculinity itself.” The codpiece included plainly in paintings by masters such as Titian, Giorgione, Bruegel and Holbein. Above, Evan Puschak ( aka the Nerdwriter) presents you to Holbein’s well-known picture of Henry VIII, “the poster kid for codpieces.”

For a much deeper dive into the topic, you can check out the New Yorker piece “A Brief History of the Codpiece, the Personal Protection for Renaissance Equipment.” And to go still much deeper, see Michael Glover’s whole book devoted to the topic, Thrust: A Spasmodic Pictorial History of the Codpiece in Art.

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