Giacobbe Giusti, LEONARDO da VINCI: Lady with an Ermine


Giacobbe Giusti, LEONARDO da VINCI: Lady with an Ermine

Giacobbe Giusti, LEONARDO da VINCI: Lady with an Ermine

 Giacobbe Giusti, LEONARDO da VINCI: Lady with an Ermine
ItalianDama con l’ermellinoPolishDama z gronostajem

Giacobbe Giusti, LEONARDO da VINCI: Lady with an Ermine

The Lady with an Ermine.jpg
Artist Leonardo da Vinci
Year 1489–90
Type Oil on wood panel
Subject Cecilia Gallerani
Dimensions 54 cm × 39 cm (21 in × 15 in)[1]
Location National MuseumKraków, Poland

Lady with an Ermine(ItalianDama con l’ermellino [ˈdaːma kon lermelˈliːno]PolishDama z gronostajem) is a painting by Leonardo da Vinci from around 1489–1490 and one of Poland‘s national treasures.[2] The subject of the portrait is Cecilia Gallerani, painted at a time when she was the mistress of Ludovico SforzaDuke of Milan, and Leonardo was in the service of the duke. The painting is one of only four portraits of women painted by Leonardo, the others being the Mona Lisathe portrait of Ginevra de’ Benci, and La belle ferronnière. The painting was purchased in 2016 from the Czartoryski Foundation by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage for the National Museum in Kraków and has been on display in the museum’s main building since 2017.[3]


Subject and symbolism

The small portrait generally called The Lady with the Ermine was painted in oils on wooden panel. At the time of its painting, the medium of oil paint was relatively new to Italy, having been introduced in the 1470s.

The subject has been identified with reasonable certainty as Cecilia Gallerani, who was the mistress of Leonardo’s employer, Ludovico Sforza.[4]

Cecilia Gallerani was a member of a large family that was neither wealthy nor noble. Her father served for a time at the Duke’s court. At the time her portrait was painted, she was about 16 years old and was renowned for her beauty, her scholarship, and her poetry. She was married at approximately age six to a young nobleman of the house of Visconti, but she sued to annul the marriage in 1487 for undisclosed reasons and the request was granted. Cecilia became the mistress of the Duke and bore him a son, even after his marriage to another woman 11 years previously, Beatrice d’Este.[5] Beatrice was promised to the Duke when she was only 5, and married him when she was 16 in 1491. After a few months, she discovered the Duke was still seeing Cecilla, and forced the Duke to break off their relationship by marrying her off to a local count named Bergamino.

The painting shows a half-length figure, the body of a woman turned at a three-quarter angle toward her right, but her face turned toward her left. Her gaze is directed neither straight ahead, nor toward the viewer, but toward a “third party” beyond the picture’s frame. In her arms, Gallerani holds a small white-coated stoat, known as an ermine. Gallerani’s dress is comparatively simple, revealing that she is not a noblewoman. Her coiffure, known as a coazone, confines her hair smoothly to her head with two bands of hair bound on either side of her face and a long plait at the back. Her hair is held in place by a fine gauze veil with a woven border of gold-wound threads, a black band, and a sheath over the plait.[6]

There are several interpretations of the significance of the ermine in her portrait. The ermine, a stoat in its winter coat, was a traditional symbol of purity because it was believed an ermine would face death rather than soil its white coat.[7] In his old age, Leonardo compiled a bestiary in which he recorded:

MODERATION The ermine out of moderation never eats but once a day, and it would rather let itself be captured by hunters than take refuge in a dirty lair, in order not to stain its purity.[8]

He repeats this idea in another note, “Moderation curbs all the vices. The ermine prefers to die rather than soil itself.”[9] Ermines were kept as pets by the aristocracy and their white pelts were used to line or trim aristocratic garments. For Ludovico il Moro, the ermine had a further personal significance in that he had been in the Order of the Ermine (Naples) in 1488 and used it as a personal emblem.[10] The association of the ermine with Cecilia Gallerani could have been intended to refer both to her purity and to make an association with her lover. Alternatively, the ermine could be a pun on her name because the Ancient Greek term for ermine, or other weasel-like species of animals, is galê (γαλῆ) or galéē (γαλέη).[11] This would be in keeping with Leonardo’s placement of a juniper bush behind the figure in his portrait of Ginevra de Benci in reference to her name. Given that Gallerani gave birth to a son acknowledged by Lodovico in May 1491, and the association of weasels and pregnancy in Italian Renaissance culture, it also is possible the animal was a symbol of Cecilia’s pregnancy.[12] In addition, it has been speculated that the animal in the painting appears not to be an ermine,[13] but a white ferret, a colour favoured in the Middle Ages because of the ease of seeing the white animal in thick undergrowth.

As in many of Leonardo’s paintings, the composition comprises a pyramidic spiral and the sitter is caught in the motion of turning to her left, reflecting Leonardo’s lifelong preoccupation with the dynamics of movement. The three-quarter profile portrait was one of his many innovations. Il Moro’s court poet, Bernardo Bellincioni, was the first to propose that Cecilia is poised as if listening to an unseen speaker.

This work in particular shows Leonardo’s expertise in painting the human form. The outstretched hand of Cecilia was painted with great detail. Leonardo paints every contour of each fingernail, each wrinkle around her knuckles, and even the flexing of the tendon in her bent finger.

According to the art-critic Maike Vogt-Luerssen the depicted lady clearly identifies herself as a member of the Royal Neapolitan House of Aragon by wearing a Catalan costume and holding the most important symbol of her dynasty, the ermine in its winter fur. Her name is Giovanna of Aragon (1478–1518), Queen of Naples, and she was married to Ferrandino (or Ferdinand II) of Naples.


The Lady with an Ermine has been subjected to two detailed laboratory examinations. The first was in the Warsaw Laboratories, the findings being published by K. Kwiatkowski in 1955. The painting underwent examination and restoration again in 1992, at the Washington National Gallery Laboratories under the supervision of David Bull.[1]

The painting is in oil on a thin walnut wood panel, about 4–5 millimetres (0.16–0.20 in) thick, prepared with a layer of white gessoand a layer of brownish underpaint.[1] The panel is in good condition apart from a break to the upper left side of the painting. Its size has never been altered, as indicated by a narrow unpainted strip on all four sides of the painting.

The background was thinly overpainted with unmodulated black, probably between 1830 and 1870, when the damaged corner was restored. Eugène Delacroix was suggested to have painted the background. Its previous colour was a bluish grey.[1] The signature “LEONARD D’AWINCI” (which is Polish phonetical transcription of the name “da Vinci”) in the upper left corner is not original.[14]

X-ray and microscopic analysis have revealed the charcoal-pounced outline of the pricked preparatory drawing on the prepared undersurface, a technique Leonardo learned in the studio of Verrocchio.[15]

Apart from the black of the background and some abrasion caused by cleaning, the painted surface reveals the painting is almost entirely by the artist’s hand. There has been some slight retouching of her features in red, and the edge of the veil in ochre. Some scholars believe there also was some later retouching of the hands.[1]

Leonardo’s fingerprints have been found in the surface of the paint, indicating he used his fingers to blend his delicate brushstrokes.[16]


The painting was acquired in Italy by Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski, the son of Princess Izabela Czartoryska and Prince Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski in 1798, and incorporated it into the Czartoryskis’ family collections at Puławy in 1800. The inscription on the top-left corner of the painting, LA BELE FERONIERE. LEONARD DAWINCI., probably was added by a restorer shortly after its arrival in Poland,[17] and before the background was overpainted.[18] Czartoryski was clearly aware it was a Leonardo, although the painting had never been discussed in print; no record exists of any previous owner. The Belle Ferronière is the Leonardo portrait in the Louvre, whose sitter bears such a close resemblance, the Czartoryskis considered this sitter to be the same. The painting travelled extensively during the 19th century; Princess Czartoryska rescued it in advance of the invading Russian army in 1830, hid it, then sent it to Dresden and on to the Czartoryski place of exile in Paris, the Hôtel Lambert, returning it to Kraków in 1882. In 1939, almost immediately after the German occupation of Poland, it was seized by the Nazis and sent to the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in Berlin. In 1940, Hans Frank, the Governor General of Poland, requested it be returned to Kraków, where it hung in his suite of offices. At the end of the Second World War it was discovered by Allied troops in Frank’s country home in Bavaria. It has since been returned to Poland at the Czartoryski Museum in Kraków. Since May 2017, the painting may be found in a branch of the National Museum in Kraków, just outside the Old Town.


When exhibited in The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in 2003, the painting was described as “signal[ling] a breakthrough in the art of psychological portraiture”.[19]

Popular culture

Lady with an Ermine was one of the visual inspirations for Philip Pullman‘s concept of dæmons, appearing in the His Dark Materialsseries of novels.[20]

Mike Resnick‘s science fiction novel Lady with an Alien (2005) was inspired by Resnick’s opinion that the animal in Gallerani’s arms “simply doesn’t look like an ermine”.[21]

Lady with an Ermine has inspired Vinci (2004), a Polish heist comedy film directed by Juliusz Machulski.

The 2016 psychological horror video game Layers of Fear features a perversion of Lady with an Ermine as an example of the protagonist’s insanity and musophobiaLady with an Ermine is also an attainable Steam badge in the game.

Lady with an Ermine appears in the novel Fatherland (1992) by Robert Harris.


  1. Jump up to:a b c d e Preservation and Scientific examinations, David Bull
  2. Jump up^ “Da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine among Poland’s “Treasures” – Event –”. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  3. Jump up^ “Leonarda da Vinci, “Dama z gronostajem””Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie (in Polish). 2017. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  4. Jump up^ M. Kemp, entry for The Lady with an Ermine in the exhibition Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration (Washington-New Haven-London) pp 271f, states “the identification of the sitter in this painting as Cecilia Gallerani is reasonably secure;” Janice Shell and Grazioso Sironi, “Cecilia Gallerani: Leonardo’s Lady with an Ermine” Artibus et Historiae13 No. 25 (1992:47–66) discuss the career of this identification since it was first suggested in 1900.
  5. Jump up^ Who was Cecilia Gallerani?, Barbara Fabjan and Pietro C. Marani, Exhibition notes, October 15, 1998
  6. Jump up^ Notes for a portrait: the Lady’s dress and hairstyle, Grazietta Butazzi, Exhibition notes, 1998
  7. Jump up^ Boria Sax, The Mythical Zoo: an encyclopedia of animals in world myth, legend, and literature, 2001, s.v. “Beaver, porcupine, badger and miscellaneous rodents”.
  8. Jump up^ James Beck, “The Dream of Leonardo da Vinci”, Artibus et Historiae14 No. 27 (1993:185–198) p. 188; Beck adds, “the artist left a pictorial record to accompany his written testimony—the famous Portrait of a Lady with an ermine (Czartoryski Collection, Cracow)
  9. Jump up^ Beck 1009:191.
  10. Jump up^ A. Rona, “l’investitura di Lodovico il Moro dell’Ordine dell’Armellino” Archivio Storico Lombardo 103 (1979:346-58); as political allegory, see C. Pedretti, “La Dama dell’Ermellino come allegoria politica”, Studi politici in onore di Luigi Firpo I, Milan 1990:161-81, both noted by Ruth Wilkins Sullivan, in “Three Ferrarese Panels on the Theme of ‘Death Rather than Dishonour’ and the Neapolitan Connection” Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 57.4 (1994:610–625) p. 620 and note 68.
  11. Jump up^ Liddell, Scott and Jones Ancient Greek dictionary
  12. Jump up^ Jacqueline Musacchio, “Weasels and Pregnancy in Renaissance Italy”, Renaissance Studies 15 (2001): 172–187.
  13. Jump up^ Tracy Godse. “Ermine or Ferret?”
  14. Jump up^ “The first lady of the Renaissance visits Spain”El País. Retrieved 11 Feb 2012.
  15. Jump up^ David Bull, Two Portraits by Leonardo: “Ginevra de’ Benci” and the “Lady with an Ermine” Artibus et Historiae 13 No. 25 (1992:67–83), pp 76ff.
  16. Jump up^ Bull 1993:81.
  17. Jump up^ Shell and Sironi 1992.
  18. Jump up^ Bull 1992:78.
  19. Jump up^ Leonardo da Vinci and the Splendour of Poland Archived 2009-02-15 at the Wayback Machine., exhibition February 17, 2003
  20. Jump up^ Robert Butler (2007-12-03). “An Interview with Philip Pullman”Intelligent Life. Archived from the original on 2008-03-05. Retrieved 2012-07-01.
  21. Jump up^ Lady with an Alien, by Mike Resnick, published 2005 by Watson-Guptill


  • Laurie Schneier Adams, Italian Renaissance Art, (Boulder: Westview Press) 2001.


Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Medicea La Petraia

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Medicea La Petraia

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Medicea La Petraia

Médaillon de Giusto Utens, Museo di Firenze com’era

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Medicea La Petraia

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Medicea La Petraia

Giacobbe Giusti, Villa Medicea La Petraia

Villa La Petraia gardens, Florence, Italy

Villa La Petraia gardens, Florence, Italy


La Villa Medicea La Petraia est une villa médicéenne qui se situe dans la zone collinaire du Castello, au 40 de la Via Petraia 40 à Florence.


En 1364, le palagio della Petraia appartenait à la famille Brunelleschi. En 1422, Palla Strozzi l’a acquis en lui ajoutant les terres adjacentes. Au XVIe siècle, la villa devint la propriété des Salutati, qui la vendent ensuite à Cosme Ier de Médicis qui, en 1544, la donne à son fils, le cardinal Ferdinand en 1568.

Les travaux d’embellissement de 1566 furent étendus par Ferdinand, devenu Grand-duc en 1587, qui le transforma en une résidence digne d’un Prince. En 1589, la villa est assignée à son épouse Christine de Lorraine pour ses noces. La villa passe sous l’apanage de Don Antonio de Médicis en 1609.

Sous la Maison de Savoie, elle devint la résidence du roi Victor Emmanuel II et de Rosa Vercellana, son épouse morganatique.

Depuis 1919, elle fait partie des biens de l’état.


Son jardin à l’italienne a été dessiné par Le Tribolo ainsi que sa Florence sortant des eaux sculptée par Jean de Bologne

Lieu de conservation

Dans ses dépôts est conservé la Sémiramis (1623-1625) de Matteo Rosselli, un des quatre tableaux consacrés à la vie des femmes célèbres qui décoraient la salle d’audience de la grande-duchesse Marie-Madeleine d’Autriche dans la Villa di Poggio Imperiale[1].

Giacobbe Giusti, Crucifix du Maestro di San Francesco (Louvre)

Giacobbe Giusti, Crucifix du Maestro di San Francesco (Louvre)

recommandations des projets correspondants.

Crucifix du Maestro di San Francesco (Louvre)
Master Of St Francis - Crucifix - WGA14504.jpg
peinture a tempera et or sur panneau de bois de peuplier
Dimensions (H × L)
96.5 × 73 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris (France)
Numéro d’inventaire
RF 1981-48Voir et modifier les données sur Wikidata

Le Crucifix du Maestro di San Francesco (Louvre) est un crucifix peint à tempera et or sur panneau de bois de peuplier. Réalisé en 1260 environ il est attribué au Maestro di San Francesco, et conservé au musée du Louvre, à Paris depuis 1981.


Issu d’une collection privée (1880), vendu en 1972, puis transmis à la compagnie des prêtres de Saint-Sulpice (1978), il est acquis pour le musée du Louvre en 1981[1].


Le Christ est du type dolens, de la représentation humanisante franciscaine et dominicaine :

Le Christ se doit d’être alors représenté mort, souffrant sur la croix (et non plus triomphant ou résigné) :

  • La tête baissée sur l’épaule,
  • les yeux fermés soit absents, énucléés (orbites vides),
  • marques de douleur sur le visage,
  • la bouche est incurvée vers le bas,
  • les plaies sont saignantes (mains, pieds et flanc droit),
  • Le corps tordu déhanché, arqué dans un spasme de douleur, subissant son poids terrestre,
  • schématisation des muscles et des côtes.

Le crucifix ne comporte des scènes annexes qu’aux flancs du Christ :

  • à gauche : Marie en entier, accompagnée d’une femme,
  • à droite : Jean en entier, accompagné d’un apôtre,

En haut de la croix le titulus expose le texte de l’INRI en entier en or sur fond rouge, les extrémités de la croix des motifs géométriques.

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Giacobbe Giusti, Giotto, Gemäldegalerie Berlin

Giacobbe Giusti, Giotto, Gemäldegalerie Berlin

Giotto: Marientod und Kreuzigung

Die Grablegung Mariae (Marientod) von Giotto, etwa aus dem Jahr 1310. Das Bild wurde 1914 vom Kaiser-Friedrich-Museums-Verein erworben.

Giotto: Marientod

Eine Galerie mit 14 Bildern (2013)


Giacobbe Giusti, Giotto, Gemäldegalerie Berlin

Giacobbe Giusti, Botticelli Reimagined exhibition coming to V&A

Giacobbe Giusti, Botticelli Reimagined exhibition coming to V&A

London show will feature modern artwork, fashion, film and music inspired by the Renaissance artist, as well as large collection of original Botticelli paintings


Botticelli Reimagined exhibition coming to V&A after opening in Berlin

London show will feature modern artwork, fashion, film and music inspired by the Renaissance artist, as well as large collection of original Botticelli paintings

The Portrait of a Lady known as Smeralda Bandinelli, by Sandro Botticelli at the V&A in London.
The Portrait of a Lady known as Smeralda Bandinelli, by Sandro Botticelli at the V&A in London. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA


Maybe Helen of Troy’s beauty launched a thousand ships but Sandro Botticelli’s paintings of Venus, Pallas Athena, Simonetta Vespucci and other women, both real and mythical, have inspired countless imitations that will form a constellation of ideal and profane love in Botticelli Reimagined, a blockbuster show that opens at the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin next month before coming to the V&A in the spring.

From David LaChapelle’s opulently kitsch 2009 photowork Rebirth of Venus, to a Botticelli-themed dress by Dolce and Gabbana that Lady Gaga wore for her Artpop tour, to a clip of Ursula Andress emerging like Botticelli’s Venus from the waves in the 1962 Bond film Dr No, this bold exploration of a great artist’s afterlives trawls far and wide through popular culture.

It will even have music, including Bob Dylan’s Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands (in another song, Dylan tells how “Botticelli’s niece” promised to be with him “when I paint my masterpiece”).

Curators Mark Evans and Ana Debenedetti said the only problem was knowing where to stop: “We excluded huge amounts of trash.” And yet this is not just an arbitrary attempt to make a Renaissance artist look cool by throwing in Andy Warhol’s silkscreen of The Birth of Venus and Rineke Dijkstra’s photographs of teenagers adopting Botticelli poses. It all makes a kind of mad sense. The clue that holds it together is the V&A museum’s only Botticelli painting. It happens to be not just a haunting example of his portraiture of women – she looks straight out of the picture, so directly that some time in the past, someone spooked either by the “evil eye” (malocchio) or by misogynist fears of a female gaze actually slashed her eyes – but a document of Botticelli’s unique relationship with the modern world.

Other Renaissance geniuses like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian and Raphael have been famous since their own lifetimes. Botticelli, however, was forgotten for centuries and only started to become an art hero in Victorian times. The V&A’s Botticelli belonged to the Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti. It hung in his Chelsea home at exactly the moment the Botticelli cult got going. That’s what makes it the pivotal work in Botticelli Reimagined, a document of modernity’s queer relationship with this 15th century artist.

For Botticelli is not just a modern cult; he is, somehow, a modern artist. We subconsciously accept him as an artist of our own uneasy world because he shares our own sense of the strangeness of things. The Victorian critic Walter Pater tried to articulate this back in Rossetti’s day, in an 1870 essay that helped to launch Botticelli’s fame. Writing about an artist who was still far from a household name, he observes that Botticelli’s women are “in a certain sense like angels, but with a sense of displacement or loss about them – the wistfulness of exiles”.

What a brilliant remark and what a quintessential definition of the modern condition. Botticelli’s Venus is an exile, a sad-eyed beauty of the waves, half way between heaven and earth, moving towards us as our hearts go out to her. It is the melancholy in her eyes, the “shadow” on Botticelli’s beauty as Pater put it, that makes his vision of Venus modern. His paintings make the pagan gods alive with a naive intensity that disrupts and invades the imagination. He is a 15th century surrealist – an artist who makes dreams utterly real. It is highly likely he intended some of his paintings, including Venus and Mars in the National Gallery and perhaps even his pagan masterpiece Primavera (Spring), to act as magical charms. They do have a strangely real and actual effect, as if looking at a work of art could change your very being.

That too is modernist. “You must change your life,” urged the modern poet Rainer Maria Rilke in a poem about the power of art. No artist makes me feel that like Botticelli does. His life, too, makes him modern – especially today, in our world of fundamentalisms. Botticelli’s life is cut in two by belief. After creating his sublime visions of pagan myth he became a follower of the revolutionary prophet Savonarola, rejected sensual beauty and devoted himself to illustrating Dante. Clearly Botticelli was a genuinely turbulent character, a man of troubles – a modern man, in a pre-modern way.

So the very best news about Botticelli Reimagined is that after all the Bond films and Dylan songs, it will unveil the biggest haul of original Botticelli paintings to come to London in a long time. Pallas and the Centaur is coming from the Uffizi Gallery with its uncannily precise and convincing portrayal of a creature who is half man, half horse. Anticipating Freud’s theory of the unconscious, this painting shows the goddess of reason restraining the animal passions of our nature – she gazes icily as the centaur struggles, caught by the hair. Botticelli’s Dante drawings, portraits and one of his depictions of Venus will bring his seductive, subtle and strange genius head to head with his modern imitators. The world changes but Botticelli changes with it. He is the poet of our exiled souls.

Giacobbe Giusti, Piero di Cosimo

Giacobbe Giusti, Piero di Cosimo

Piero di Cosimo egg white

Venere, Marte e Amore (Venus, Mars and Cupid) by Piero di Cosimo, dated to 1490
 This month an exhibition of paintings by Piero di Cosimo – Renaissance Italy’s answer to Hieronymus Bosch – travels from the National Gallery of Art in Washington to the Uffizi in Florence, bringing home until 27 September a collection of lilac skies, lifeless trees and unfathomable creatures.As much as I admire the oil paintings, my eyes will be fixed on the paintings Piero rendered in egg tempera, a mixture of colour pigment, egg yolk and clove oil or vinegar. It’s not their subject matter, nor even their bold colour that confounds me, but the mind-aching enigma of what Piero did with all his leftover egg whites.

Where, I ask myself, did all the egg whites go? Where did any of the great artists’ egg whites go? Such luminaries as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Botticelli were among those who mixed yolks to make tempera even after oil painting had become the vogue, appreciating how opaque and luminous it made their subjects’ flesh, and how quickly it dried.

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Piero, who for a time ate nothing but eggs, setting 50 or more to boil at once alongside the glue he heated to seal his paintings, used tempera to paint the nude mythological figures of his Tritons and Nereids. If he followed the advice of a handbook available at the time, he would have used the yolks of town hen eggs for the females’ pale and youthful skin, and those of country eggs (considered ruddier) for the swarthier complexions.

But the question remains: what did he and the others do with the whites? Leonardo, exemplifying one possible use, boiled eyeballs in egg whites to make them easier to dissect for his anatomical drawings; many painters added whites to the gloss for their paintings.

Perhaps another answer lies in Europe’s first cookbook, which contained recipes from the court where Leonardo was based. The author, Bartolomeo Sacchi, known as Platina, filled it with dishes he had learned from a Maestro Martino, onetime court chef for the Sforza family in Milan. On Honest Pleasure and Good Health, which he began writing around 1464, was printed in 1475, seven years before Leonardo arrived as painter at that very court. Piero di Cosimo was then 13 years old.

Lo and behold, the book’s recipes are peculiarly rich in egg whites. While we would normally use yolk or whole egg to make pasta, Maestro Martino advised making vermicelli and Sicilian macaroni from flour, rose water and egg whites.

His herbe torte is to be made with 15 or 16 egg whites, no yolks. White torte combines 12 or 15 egg whites with cheese, lard, butter, milk, sugar, and ginger. Fritters, a variation, perhaps, on the modern tempura batter (no relation to egg tempera), required egg whites and flour.

Even where the standard recipe called for egg yolks, there were alternative “white” versions, such as white broth and white dumplings.

While some of Maestro Martino’s recipes must have been circulating since medieval times, Platina ensured that they were disseminated across Europe. From Venice the book travelled to Louvain, Bologna, Strasbourg, Cologne, Paris, Lyon and Basel.

Based at the court where Maestro Martino had worked his magic, Leonardo must have been among the first to taste his recipes – especially because he was vegetarian. Indeed, he remarked upon the variation of flavour combinations in the finished cookbook.

But this was not the egg’s only contribution to the Renaissance. To win the commission to design the roof of the Florentine Duomo, Santa Maria del Fiore, Filippo Brunelleschi challenged his rivals to make an egg stand unaided on a piece of marble.

No one could do it, until Brunelleschi set it down firmly enough that the bottom of the shell cracked – without piercing the egg sack inside – to produce a flat base. He won the commission and, wasting no time on hefty arches and supports, built a slightly flattened dome within a dome, just like the sack-lined egg. The trick became so famous that it was also attributed to Christopher Columbus as he showed that discoveries, such as that the world is round, are only obvious after the fact.

It is truly sobering to think that, through all the achievements of the time, the egg, in its various component parts, might just have provided the sustenance by which the Renaissance was nourished.

Harry Eyres is away


Giacobbe Giusti, ‘Neoplatonism on Michelangelo’s Art’

Giacobbe Giusti, ‘Neoplatonism on Michelangelo’s Art’


Influence of Neoplatonism on Michelangelo’s Art

Summary: Discusses two pieces of work done by Michelangelo, his marble sculpture of the Pietà and the Sistine Chapel painting The Creation of Adam. Explores how Neoplatonic ideas influenced him.

The art of Michelangelo can be characterized as having a neo-platonic influence. This idea is that of the combination of classic Greek philosophy, such as Plato and Aristotle, with the Christian beliefs. Michelangelo takes religious events and subject matter, such as the dead Christ with the Virgin and the Creation of Adam, and presents it in a way that is suggestive of how truth and beauty of the spiritual world can be revealed via the physical world.

One example of this influence is seen in Michelangelo’s marble sculpture of the Pietà. Here we see the Christian subject matter of the Virgin Mother and her Son but with classical influences. Michelangelo uses the Greek drapery to gently fold over the Virgin’s body in an elegant manner. Also, the serene atmosphere and control of emotions are reminiscent of the Greek Hellenistic period. In this sculpture, Michelangelo…