The Easel

Gazing at the Moon

A scholar ponders a late Renaissance work – “why make a vast male arse the focal point of a major religious painting?” Bared buttocks in antiquity were meant to insult, but during the Renaissance, acquired multiple meanings. Sometimes a shapely posterior alluded to the homoerotic. More often, the male nude conveyed “physical power and divinely inspired grace.” Says the writer, a “wonderful topic we are yet to completely get to the bottom of”.