The Renaissance Mindset - Artistic Direction VS style

The short section below is by Gertrude Moakley from her book The Tarot Cards Painted by Bonifacio Bembo for the Visconti-Sforza Family. I bought the book - I'm thrilled - it's signed!
For Esther Johnston with many grateful memories Gertrude Moakley.
The text refers to Bembo. I hadn't come across it before so thought I'd post it for those who haven't seen it either - very revealing. It seems to lend weight to the idea that the family (or at least Galeazzo Sforza) would have no scruples about showing a relative or ancestor in a less than flattering light.

The following year Galeazzo Sforza (Francesco Sforza's son) commissioned him to return to Pavia for more work in the halls of his Castello. The walls were to be decorated with scenes showing friends of the Count and their dogs in varous hunting episodes. In the written instructions of Count Sforza we read such directives as:

Item, that Alexio is to be shown being thrown from his horse by a stag, with his legs in the air.

In another scene the same Alexio was to be shown attacking the offending stag with his sword. In addition to the hunting scenes, instructions were given to paint Duke Giangaleazzo with all his servants "da naturale", and likewise the Duchess Catalina. Other ancestral Dukes and Duchesses were also to be shown: Fillippo Maria, Francesco, and Bianca with their councellors. The directions go into great details as to costume and the colours to be used. It is evident that the family (or at least Galeazzo Sforza) was not dependent on its artists for decorative ideas.

He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy...

Little People

Accepting the probability (on current evidence) that the tarot trumps originated in one of the courts of the Italian Renaissance, perhaps it might be interesting to use this thread for unusual (to our way of thinking) illustrations of the mindset of the people who lived and moved within these circles?

From time to time something read brilliantly illuminates life in these gilded courts - as with the Moakley quote above.

Here's another - this time from Isabella D'Este, A Study of the Renaissance, by Julia Cartright.
This Morgantino was a very favourite dwarf, who accompanied the Marchesa to Rome in 1527, and charmed Cardinal Pisani so much at Venice in 1530, that Isabella allowed this reverend prelate to keep him for several weeks. He and Delia may have been the Nanino and Nanina to whom we find frequent allusions in the Marchesa's letters at this period of her life, and who became the parents of a race of pet dwarfs. Nanina was sent to Bologna when Isabella was there for the Emperor's coronation, and two years afterwards, the Marchesa offered Duchess Renée one of her children, who bade fair to be as small as herself. "Four years ago," she wrote to one of Renée's ladies, "I promised Madame Renee to give her the first girl who was born to my dwarfs. As she knows, the puttina is now two years old, and will no doubt remain a dwarf, although she hardly gives hope of being as tiny as my Delia. She is now able to walk alone and without a guide, if the Duchess wishes to have her." Another "bella Nanina" was sent by the Marchesa to Ferrante Gonzaga's wife in October 1533, and the princess wrote a grateful letter to her mother-in-law, saying that the dwarf was the sweetest and gentlest creature in the world, and afforded her infinite amusement." (1)

(1) Luzio e Renier in Nuovo Antologia, 1891, p.134

He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy...

Re: Little People

From Art Blog By Bob, (scroll down a little).

This little quote (best read in context) is from the sensitive commentary on the painting.
Lezcano holds a deck of cards in his hands, which commonly symbolized a fool in the iconography of the time.
Touching... lovely that we know his name though. Now I feel like collecting images for a gallery of Renaissance little people.

I read here (a long way down the page), that the brothers Ferdinando I and Francesco II, dukes of Mantua in the 17th century, had such a passion for collecting these little people that they had to sell much of the Gonzaga family art collection to Charles 1st to pay for them. Buying all this art was instrumental in Charles' problems with Parliament, and ultimately perhaps, the loss of his head.

From the web page at The Quintessential:
So constitutional government in the Sceptered Isle rests, in a way, on a pair of Italian princes’ insatiable need for dwarves.
He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy...

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