Green Man keystone. He told me that it was the mouth of truth and if a person put their hand in it's mouth and told a lie, the sculpture would bite off the hand. It was an intriguing tale that made an intriguing object more intriguing. Years later, I decided to make a larger version that would take up a greater piece of wall and perhaps imbued with a greater capacity to detect bigger lies. The piece pictured here is 4 feet tall, carved from Styrofoam and coated with joint compound.
As it turned out, a number of cities during the middle ages employed similar carved quasi contraptions to rat out wrong doing and doers. It was a cowardly snitchy thing, a means by which accusations could be cast anonymously to the authorities. I'm sure that this thing must have screwed up the lives of many innocently accused while protecting the anonymity of many atrocious liers. Its quite the twist on its original intention.
When Leonardo was a very young man, he fell prey to such a device. Some one employed a similar mouth to accuse him of consorting with a younger male prostitute. Florence was reputed for being pretty gay back then. It's no big wonder. There are penises everywhere you look. One might call the town penis proud with its plethera of pollished peckers poised for presentaion. Gay or straight matters not, the fact is that Florence is littered with statues of fully frontal male nudes. Be that as it may, being found gay back then was often punishable by death. In the end Leonardo was vindicated though the allegation was probably true. It makes me shutter to think that the world could have been deprived of one of the greatest minds by such an ultimately stupid thing.
At the time that I had carved this, I had never seen Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, a movie by which the Bocca Della Verita became most famous. In my post carving research I've found that it was not a keystone but, rather, most probably first intended as a manhole cover.
There is more. To learn the legend further and, find out how the stone's power came to pass, please click HERE