Boy Bitten by a Lizard
Average: 5 (1 vote)

More about Boy Bitten by a Lizard

  • All
  • Info
  • Shop
ebrowne's picture


Caravaggio's Boy Bitten by Lizard is way dirtier than you’re expecting.

It’s not just some ill-fated boy whose hand meandered into the cookie jar after his mother told him they were off limits. No, no. He was a lot naughtier than that. As explained by art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon, this painting is chock full of innuendos and symbols that add to a larger, sexier meaning in the artwork.

First is that apparently, if you look at someone while biting your finger in an aggressive manner, it means that you want to castrate them. So the boy getting his finger bitten here could mean that he has done something that is worth castration. Hmm, what could that be?

Secondly, the bowl of fruit (not cookies) in which this boy had placed his hand before being bitten is a symbol for sensual pleasures ie. eating fruit, having sex, etc. I mean the use of cherries is almost laughable.

And last but not least, the flowers – jasmine and a rose – are the flower equivalent of a blinking neon sign that says “Nude Girls.” All of these symbols added together mean that this boy had engaged in sexual intercourse. And as an added bonus Graham-Dixon guesses that the lizard biting him may also mean that he got “the clap” from one of the women he was sleeping with – the consequence of engaging in sensual pleasures especially in the 16th century. (Fun fact: There are a lot of theories for why gonorrhea is called “the clap” but one of them is that men used to smash their penises in between two hard things – ie. two books, a book and the butt of a rifle, etc. – as an attempt to cure themselves of the disease.)

I bet you weren’t expecting such an obscene meaning from a seemingly innocent painting.



  1. "Boy Bitten By A Lizard, 1596 By Caravaggio." Caravaggion and his 100 famous paintings. Web. 13 Feb. 2018.
  2. Jones, Jonathan. "Boy Bitten By A Lizard, Caravaggio (1595-1600)." the Guardian. N.p., 2002. Web. 13 Feb. 2018.
  3. "Michelangelo Merisi Da Caravaggio | Boy Bitten By A Lizard | NG6504 | National Gallery, London." N.p., 2010. Web. 13 Feb. 2018.

Featured Content

Here is what Wikipedia says about Boy Bitten by a Lizard

Boy Bitten by a Lizard (Italian: Ragazzo morso da un ramarro) is a painting by the Italian Baroque painter Caravaggio. It exists in two versions, both believed to be authentic works of Caravaggio, one in the Fondazione Roberto Longhi in Florence, the other in the National Gallery, London.


Both versions are thought to date from the period 1594–1596. According to art historian Roberto Longhi, the latter end of this period seems more likely, given that the paintings have all the signs of the early works painted in the household of Caravaggio's sophisticated patron Cardinal Francesco Del Monte, and that Caravaggio did not enter the Cardinal's Palazzo Madama until some time in 1595.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Boy Bitten by a Lizard.