The Circumcision
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What’s better than a painting of Jesus being circumcised for all to see? A lot of things, actually.

Renaissance artist, Parmigianino’s The Circumcision of Jesus is an exaggerated painting of Jesus’s pee pee being circumcised as a wee lad. Parmigianino depicts the traditional Jewish ceremony of circumcision performed on Baby Jesus, in which the child is given his Hebrew name as well as have his penis circumcised, what a deal.

This painting is a prime example of the artistic period known as Mannerism in which artists decided to throw Classicism and idealized naturalism to the wind as perfected by artist in the High Renaissance such as Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci. Paintings such as the Circumcision of Jesus, depict figures with elongated limbs that look like spaghetti arms, or playdough figurines. However, this style isn’t the worst part of the painting. As you can see, the priest holds a small, swiss army knife look-alike in one hand and Jesus calmly looks at the viewer as if it’s no big deal getting his pee pee snipped--nonetheless like any man who has a loving relationship with their penis, it looks like Baby Jesus is gripping the neck of what could be a goldfinch. The goldfinch frequently appears in images of Baby Jesus and is used as a symbol of the Incarnation of the Passion of the Lord. Baby Jesus definitely looks like he is holding onto some kind of passion.

Even more perplexing, there’s a cute fuzzy bunny located at the forefront of the painting directly below Baby Jesus. What is this bunny’s purpose? In the Old Testament, the rabbit is seen as an unclean animal. And during that cray cray Medieval era, rabbits were giving off witchy-vibes; acting as symbols of unwanted sex and even witch craft. However, humans can’t seem to make up their mind, as the rabbit is also viewed as a symbol of vitality and resurrection from ancient times. Experts believe that artists during the Renaissance such as Titian insert the depiction of a rabbit as a symbol of Jesus inevitable death and resurrection. So in reality, that chocolate Easter Bunny you devour in one sitting every Easter (no judgment here), has some street cred and relation to Baby Jesus's Birthday--take that Medieval Christianity!




  1. "Birds Are Used as Christian Symbols." October 10, 2008. Accessed June 12, 2018.
  2. Farrar, Dede. "Rabbits Split Hares Both Positive and Negative." Animal Artist: Letting the Cat Out of the Bag(blog), March 12, 2014. Accessed June 12, 2018.
  3. Parmigianino. Circumcision of Jesus. Ca. 1523. Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit.
  4. "Rabbits and Hares in Art." Encyclopedia.Accessed June 12, 2018.
  5. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Mannerism.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Circumcision of Jesus (Parmigianino)

The Circumcision of Jesus, a painting by the Italian Mannerist artist Parmigianino of the common subject of the circumcision of Jesus, was made around 1523 and is now in the Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan, United States.


The Late Renaissance art biographer Giorgio Vasari described a Circumcision of Jesus by Parmigianino. However, his description does not match the Detroit painting: he described a series of characters holding torches and walking which do not appear in this work.

The painting is known with certainty only starting from the 1830s, when it was part of the Russian imperial collection and was copied in an 1851 etching by J.W. Muxel. In 1917 it was acquired at Stockholm by A.B. Nordiska Kompaniet, which, a few years later, sold it to the American Axel Beskow. In 1936 he donated the work to the Detroit museum.

The painting was not unanimously attributed to Parmigianino until 1991

The dating from around 1523 is based on comparison with early other works by the artist and by a preparatory drawing at the Cabinet des Dessins (inv. 6390) of the Louvre museum.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Circumcision of Jesus (Parmigianino).