The 1540 Armour of Henry VIII. Photograph: Colin Davey/REX
Unless they are made of metal, clothes from the 16th century have rarely survived.
This superb suit of armour preserved in the Royal Armouries (one of several of Henry VIII’s sets that have stood the test of time) proves that Holbein did not tell lies:
Henry really did wear a codpiece just as flamboyant as the one he flaunts in Holbein’s portrait. It is just one of the ways in which his armour portrays Henry as larger than life.
Portrait of Ranuccio Farnese by Titian. Photograph: Alamy
No artist is as phallocentric as Titian. His men are men and his women lie waiting in the bedroom.
In his unrivalled portraits, Titian displays a variety of codpieces with a variety of meanings.
Here, he uses this bizarre (to modern eyes) item of clothing to signify that 12-year-old Ranuccio Farnese is already on the cusp of manhood.