The Sin

The Sin was painted by Heinrich Lossow in 1880. This painting references the Banquet of Chestnut, the highly debatable and regarded as a rumor by some.

The scandalous dinner was hosted by former Cardinal Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI on October 30th, 1501. the MC of the party, Johann Burchard, wrote about it in his diary, saying that naked courtesans crawled around between candelabras, picking up chestnuts with their mouths. Then prizes were awarded to banquet guests who had intercourse the most times.

It should be mentioned though that it’s a dilemma why Lossow painted the scene in reference to the sexual acts and not one of the courtesans and chestnuts. The Banquet of Chestnut was preserved in the Latin diary of the protonotarios, the apostle and the ceremonies of master Johann Burchard (which is called Liber Notarum), the accuracy of such tale is highly disputed.

According to the Chronicler, the banquet was given at Cesare’s apartments in the Palazzo Apostolico. Fifty courtesans were present to entertain the guests of the banquet.

Burchard describes the following scene in his diary ( it should be mentioned that this is the only known written evidence of such event).

“On the evening of the last day of October 1501, Cesare Borgia arranged a feast at his chambers in the vatican with ‘fifty honest prostitutes’, called courtesans, who danced in the afternoon with servants and other people present, first in their clothes and then naked. After dinner, candelabra with burning candles were removed from the tables and laid on the floor, and around were scattered chestnuts, which the courtesans picked up, while Papa, Cesare and his sister Lucretia watched. Giving prizes to those who could perform the act often with courtesans. The winner were awarded with tunics of silk, shoes and other things.”

However, modern scholars cast doubt on the veracity of the story of the Chestnut Banquet. Its internal implausibility is noted, as well as the fact that it is mentioned only in Burchard’s memoirs.

The painting presented by Lossow caused a scandal. The artist was vigorously criticized by art critics and from ordinary people, not to mention the Church, which accused Heinrich Lossow of all mortal sins.

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