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Lunchtime Lecture: Thrust: A Spasmodic Pictorial History of the Codpiece in Art

19 March 2020, 13:15

Ondaatje Wing Theatre

Tickets: £4 (£3 concessions and Gallery Supporters)

King Henry VIII; King Henry VII
by Hans Holbein the Younger
circa 1536-1537
NPG 4027

Immerse yourself in history, art and culture at our popular Lunchtime Lectures. Doors open at 12.45. Lectures begin at 13.15 and last approximately one hour.

Writer Michael Glover 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. Moving from paintings to contemporary culture and back again, Michael charts the growing popularity of the codpiece and its eventual decline, displaying centuries of male self-importance and delusion along the way. Following his lecture, Michael will be signing copies of Thrust: A Spasmodic Pictorial History of the Codpiece in Art, the first history of its kind, in the Gallery's Bookshop, Floor 0.

Michael Glover is a London-based poet and art critic, and poetry editor of The Tablet. He has written regularly for The Economist, Financial Times, The Independent, New Statesman, and The Times. He has also been a London correspondent for ARTnews. His latest books include Great Works: Encounters with Art (2016), Hypothetical May Morning (2018), Late Days (2018), The Book of Extremities (2019), and Neo Rauch (2019).

Priority booking for Gallery Members is open now. Public booking will open on Monday 10 February 2020.