Renæssanceforum 12 • 2017
The New Star, the New Nose: Tycho Brahe's Nasal Prosthesis
Tycho Brahe's loss of part of his nose in a duel has become an important part of his afterlife. The exact nature of his nasal prosthesis—of brass, gold, or silver—remains an enigma, not even solved at his exhumation in 2010. This essay discusses the materiality of Brahe's new nose and contextualizes it within cutting-edge sixteenth-century rhinoplasty. The shiny nose, given fetish status by Freud in 1927, became an object of ridicule in seventeenth-century satire, but only Brahe knew how to link the microcosmic and the macrocosmic, the heavenly and the earthly stars.