Sunday, December 13, 2009

An Artist From "The Winter's Tale"

Allegory of Immortality, 1540, by Giulio Romano.

Shakspeare only mentioned one Renaissance artist in any of his plays. I wonder why he mentioned this artist Giulio Romano? I have just finished a five week reading but ongoing discussion, with an online bookclub of The Winter's Tale We read one act per week and have been discussing various aspects of the poetry and characters every week. It's a wonderful way to read Shakespeare. So much information surfaces with a group reading. I had not read this play before and it turned out to be an utter surprise and exciting story. My head has been racing with ideas and thoughts about this play. And one question is, why this artist out of all the artists of the Renaissance did Shakespeare use this one? His name comes up at the climax of the play as having made a sculpture of a dead Queen.

This woman, c. 1531, is thought to be a major arts supporter in her time and her name is Isabella d'Este and was also rumoured to be the same woman as Mona Lisa. How cool is that? One of our bookclub participants pointed out that this painting seems to have some of the same elements of the scene where the artist is mentioned. There are women in the play hiding a sculpture/woman and opening a curtain to reveal and allow visitors to the woman. The play has an uncanny atmosphere of self-referential style we usualy associate with trends in literature today like meta-fiction, deconstruction, self-referencing. In the orgianal performances one scene has "Time" personified and turning ahead the clock...Shakespeare himself played this role! Does it get more "postmodern" or "metafiction" than that, ha ha? This play reminds me how much vanity we assume originality with our trends when again...there is nothing new under the sun. Especially when it comes to Shakespeare.

Portrait of isabella D'Este by Leonardo Da Vinci, 1499-1500. This woman may not have been the Mona Lisa, but considering that the actual painting isn't realistic but an idealized version fo a female...this drawing reflects the power of Isabella in her society as well as the structural and formal interests of Da Vinci before he painted Mona Lisa.

Jupiter and Olympia, 1526-1534, by Romano.

If you'd like to join us with reading The Winter's Tale we'd love to have on hyperlink. When it comes to Shakesspeare, the more the merrier. We're still discussing The Winter's Tale and probably going to select a new one for the new year.


Gardenia said...

The art is fascinating.

Four Dinners said...

Great pics babe! That Jupiter's a big lad in't he?....;-)

I like the sound of immortality. Has a nice ring to it.

SeƱor Steve said...

Isabella d'Este bears a remarkable resemblance to my pal, Candy Minx.