Can it be that Stephen and I have discovered some yet unexplored homoerotic art at the Villa Borghese in Rome? Probably not, as art historians have presumably combed every square centimeter of surface area in this and other major art centers in the Eternal City. And yet, an Internet search for gay art on the ceiling of the Lanfranco Gallery of the Galleria Borghese turned up nothing!
Stephen and I are winding up a ten-day tour of Italy that has taken us to Rome, Florence, and Sorrento, where we’ve seen more Roman and Renaissance art than you could shake a selfie stick at, and we’ve been struck by the amount of nakedly homoerotic art, not to mention just plain naked dudes, that one finds along the way. But the ceiling paintings in this vast gallery on the top floor of Borghese stand out as something quite extraordinary. Adorning the perimeter of the huge ceiling are pairs of semi-nude men in various standing poses. Their literal function would seem to be to hold up the ceiling itself, as these extremely muscular guys are apparently bearing a considerable load.
But the reality is that they always appear in pairs, and in all cases the two men are in very close physical contact. Skeptics will argue that these are just examples of male camaraderie before or after games or war, but we prefer to see them in another way. Judge for yourself. Meanwhile, if anyone knows anything about the content and provenance of these paintings, please feel free to share what you know with us and our readers!
We’ll be back at our desks first thing Monday morning to start work on the next issue of the magazine. Ciao for now!