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Monday, October 12, 2015

La Demoiselle de Rome

This (picture 1) is maybe not Picasso's masterpiece, but has some interesting connections with the Renaissance. Titled Straw Hat with Blue Leaves, 50 x 61 cm, it was painted on May 1, 1936; it is exhibited in the Picasso Museum in Paris. Portraits became a major art genre in the 16th century, often structured precisely like this work by the Spanish/French master. The leaves, moreover, seem to recall another typical Renaissance 'creature,' the poetess or, more in general, the cultured woman, that was one of the most significant social achievements then.

The most famous poetess and salon organizer in Rome, as well as an important supporter of a Catholic Reformation, was Vittoria Colonna (picture 2), the widow of an officer in the army of Emperor Charles V. She was even rumored to have a love story with Michelangelo -- that sounds quite unlikely as she was very chaste and he was gay. Now, since her second name means "column, pillar," can we infer that Picasso portrayed her? It is anyway worth to have a careful look at Picasso's whole production because he often dealt with Greek mythology, and he did so with all the genius and humor of his colleagues of a half millennium before.

Another cultured woman of the late Renaissance was the mother of Count Giovanni Battista Manso, in Naples, who inspired Torquato Tasso to write his long poem Il Mondo Creato . . .  of which the regular followers of this blog may already have heard a bit.