On the Campiello Santa Maria Nova, in the district of Cannaregio, a very curious statue can be seen on the facade of the Bembo Boldù Palace. This real life-size statue of a standing man covered in hairs and holding a solar disk is the object of several distinct interpretations.
Some people believe it to be an extremely rare representation of the “Homo Silvanus“, or “Wild Man”, a legendary character of many Italian villages, especially those in the mountains of the Alps and Apennines.
The Homo Silvanus was described as a simple man, honest and straightforward, with a tremendous explosive strength and personality that could erupt without warning.
This particular sculpture, holding a solar disk, is thought to be the representation of the idealization of the first men, at the time of the Garden of Eden.
Others recognize on the statue’s background the shape of a shell, the alchemists’ symbol of the pursuit of global knowledge. Therefore they see the statue as a representation of the father of Jupiter: Saturn, the god of time who is thought to hold a solar disk here as an allegory of the evolution of man and knowledge throughout time, evolution measured by the daily rising of the sun.
Another detail worth mentioning, still on the facade, under the statue is an inscription on a plate: “As long as the sun will move around the earth, the cities of Zara, Cattaro, Capodistria, Verona, Cyprus, and Creta, place of birth of Jupiter, will speak about my deeds”. The statue was commissioned by Gianmatteo Bembo who lived in the palace in the XVI century and is believed to have been a famous erudite of his time, maybe an alchemist himself…
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