Bombastic Codpieces

1 Nov

Cash Brown’s  Bombast  series of works on paper takes its cue from the codpieces found in Renaissance portraits. The etymology of Bombastic is from a French term for cotton stuffing, used for protection and ornamentation in codpieces – a short lived but entirely memorable period in European fashion.

Size Matters at (small) GEMS

Opening Tuesday 25 November 6-8pm
22 November – 20 December

Robin Gibson Gallery
278 Liverpool Street Darlinghurst
Sydney NSW 2010 Australia

Open: Tuesday to Saturday 11am to 6pm

Cash Brown Bombast #9 after Ranuccio, 2010 ink, gouache and pencil on 240 gsm Arches 26 x 41 cm inc frame

Cash Brown
Bombast #9 after Ranuccio, 2010
ink, gouache and pencil on 240 gsm Arches
26 x 41 cm inc frame

Cash Brown Bombast #8   after Titian, 2010 ink, gouache and pencil on 240 gsm Arches 31 x 36 cm inc frame

Cash Brown
Bombast #8 after Titian, 2010
ink, gouache and pencil on 240 gsm Arches
31 x 36 cm inc frame

Cash Brown Bombast #6  after unknown Flemish painter, 2010 ink, gouache and pencil on 240 gsm Arches 34 x 41 cm inc frame

Cash Brown
Bombast #6 after unknown Flemish painter, 2010
ink, gouache and pencil on 240 gsm Arches
34 x 41 cm inc frame

Cash Brown Bombast # 5 after Bronzino , 2010 31 x 36 cm inc frame

Cash Brown
Bombast # 5
after Bronzino
, 2010
31 x 36 cm inc frame

Cash Brown Bombast # 11 after Gossaert, 2010 ink, gouache and pencil on 240 gsm Arches 28 x 33 cm

Cash Brown
Bombast # 11 after Gossaert, 2010
ink, gouache and pencil on 240 gsm Arches
28 x 33 cm

Size Matters

Many  assume that the cod  in codpiece refers to a fish. Because of modern slang usage, or perhaps due to total loss of touch with reality, some have assumed that “piece” meant a firearm. Not true.

In Middle English, Cod (or Codd in Old English, Coddd in Exceedingly Old English) meant bag or scrotum, which led to some interesting moments when dining out at the Renaissance equivalent of Long John Silver’s.

This is the tastiest codd I’ve ever had in my mouth

was a guaranteed show stopper, bringing about numerous jokes, and a homicide or two.

Codpieces began as a flat piece of material covering an improvement in men’s fashion — a well- placed slit. This new, easy access region in men’s pants allowed men to relieve themselves while standing without lowering their pants.
The simple flap was buttoned closed, laced closed, tied closed, or occasionally glued closed after a particularly exciting night at “The Yellowe Rose Publick Howse.”

The codpiece remained flat cloth for a number of years. While visiting England, Duke Fabrizio of Bologna, dressing hastily after a quick romantic interlude, used the flap to contain (or perhaps restrain) his nether parts while appearing before King Henry VIII and Queen Anne Boleyn.

Queen Anne, amused at the Italian’s conspicuous bulge, remarked

Be that thine codling or art thou glad to see me?

Codling is 15th century English for either a small, immature apple or any of several elongated greenish English cooking apples, so we may never know if Duke Fabrizio’s fruit was ridiculed, or complimented.

King Henry was very distressed by the whole business and assumed this bulge (from Middle French “boulge” meaning leather bag or curved part) to be the latest Continental style in courtly fashions. He immediately ordered his codpieces padded in order that he not look out of date by comparison to Duke Fabrizio, commanding,

My codpieces must compare favourably to Bologna.

Those literal minded tailors, envisioned a well endowed King,  and thus began the whole size contest that continues to this day.

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