I came across this historical tidbit the other day when I was reading The Wynne Diaries, edited by Anne Fremantle. The diaries are by Elizabeth (Betsey) Fremantle, (nee Wynne), niece of the Venetian writer Giustiniana Wynne:
“We go to walk at the place of St. Mark and see a little girl with two faces and behind she is as well formed as any child can be she hath got to legs a coming out of her breast for the rest she is very well shaped. She received christening and lived 32 hours.”
(The author was just a young girl when she wrote this, and her diary is transcribed as is, misspellings and grammar errors intact.)
I knew that Venetians like curiosities. There’s a famous painting by Longhi of a rhinoceros at San Marco, that everyone came to gape at. But to gawk at a young child in the same way?