Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Look carefully.

Click for larger image.
This image arrived unbidden and unannounced at the bottom of an email from the lovely Anna in Berlin. The nativity reconfigured? Naturally, I was intrigued. It took a while, but in a 1993 issue of the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism in an article by Maria New & Elizabeth Kitzinger about Pope Joan (a character dear to my heart, but not today) I found an explanation. Philip IV commissioned the painting in 1631( apparently an era of fascination with hermaphroditism) from the great José de Ribera. It is a "portrait of Maddalena de Ventura, the mother of seven, who grew a luxuriant beard at age 37 and is shown nursing her last child when she was 52." The writer goes on to say she she could have suffered from "nonclassical 21-hydroxylase deficiency."
It is good to think about the many permutations in which the nuclear family finds itself.

1 comment:

Mickey and Flea said...

What happened to breast number two, we would like to know?