Sanctum Monstrum Ravennae (2016) . . . Graphite, acrylic, ink, and gold leaf on 16" x 20" art board.
"We had heard that a monster had been born at Ravenna, of which a drawing was sent here; it had a horn on its head, straight up like a sword, and instead of arms it had two wing like a bat’s, and the height of its breasts it had a fio [Y-shaped mark] on one side and a cross on the other, and lower down at the waist, two serpents, and it was a hermaphrodite, and on the right knee it had an eye, and its left foot was like an eagle . . . "(Luca Landucci, 1512).
Many believe what is described here was probably a case of Roberts’s syndrome. But at the time, it was seen as a sign of misfortune and corruption, some even said it was the offspring of a nun and a friar. It was such a sensation that Pope Julius II ordered it starved to death. Images of the Monstrum Ravennae in drawings, paintings, and pamphlets proliferated and spread across Europe as the image itself mutated, taking on different meanings and interpretations. (Armand Marie Leroi. Mutants. Viking, 2003.)
My source image of Monstrum Ravennae is of a later depiction by Giovanni Battista de’ Cavalieri (from 1585). The pose of the Monster of Ravenna lent itself to being a crucifix, and thus I added some stigmata and lacerations, recalling the wounds of Christ.