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Animal Heads And Hybrid Creatures: The Case Of The San Lorenzo Lavabo And Its Sources

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Chapter Summary

Almost every aspect of the marble lavabo (lavamano), in the Florentine church of San Lorenzo, has been a subject of controversy in art-historical literature. The combined representations of animal heads and composite or hybrid creatures, which are the salient motifs, appear to have no parallel on any Renaissance lavabo. This chapter shows that the fundamental question of visual meanings and their implications, bears significance for a more integral approach to the controversial problems mentioned above and calls for a retrospective study of contexts and prototypes that will elucidate the significance of this sculptural monument. While this chapter concentrates on the theme of animals as symbols or metaphors of human sin, it must be stressed that not all of the animal images on these monuments fulfill the same iconographic function. The chapter also presents a brief review of the written sources, historical background and controversial issues.

Keywords: animal heads; animal images; animals as symbols; Florentine church of San Lorenzo; human sin; hybrid creatures; marble lavabo



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