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"This slender book appears to be the first academic monograph on that ubiquitous but seldom-discussed feature of men's wear, the codpiece, from its first appearance in the fifteenth century to its. . . shrinking away in the early seventeenth. The humorist Richard Armour aptly described it as 'a kind of male falsie, often promising more than it delivered.' Altogether fascinating."

Alan H.

See all my recommendations »

Author Michael Glover
Publisher David Zwirner Books
Publication Date 2019-11-26
Section Art / New Titles - Paperback / All Staff Suggestions / Non-Fiction Suggestions / Alan H.
Type New
Format Paperback
ISBN 9781644230244

A laugh-out-loud visual history of the strangest piece of men’s clothing ever created: the codpiece.

The codpiece was fashioned in the Middle Ages to close a revealing gap between two separate pieces of men’s tights. By the sixteenth century, it had become an upscale must-have accessory. This lighthearted, illustrated examination of its history pulls in writers from Rabelais to Shakespeare and figures from Henry VIII to Alice Cooper. Glover’s witty and entertaining prose reveals how male vanity turned a piece of cloth into a bulging and absurd representation of masculinity itself. The codpiece, painted again and again by masters such as Titian, Holbein, Giorgione, and Bruegel, became a symbol of royalty, debauchery, virility, and religious seriousness—all in one.

Centuries of male self-importance and delusion are on display in this highly enjoyably new title. Glover’s book moves from paintings to contemporary culture and back again as it charts the growing popularity of the codpiece and its eventual decline. The first history of its kind, this book is a must-read for art historians, anthropologists, fashion aficionados, and readers looking for a good, long laugh.

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