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Nymph of the Grot

Nicholas Penny, 13 April 2000

The Culture of the High Renaissance 
by Ingrid Rowland.
Cambridge, 384 pp., £40, February 1999, 0 521 58145 1
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Hypnerotomachia Poliphili 
by Francesco Colonna, translated by Joscelyn Godwin.
Thames and Hudson, 476 pp., £42, November 1999, 0 500 01942 8
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After Raphael: Painting in Central Italy in the 16th Century 
by Marcia Hall.
Cambridge, 349 pp., £45, March 1999, 0 521 48245 3
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... one not explored in Rowland’s book. There is a theory that it was written by the Roman nobleman Francesco Colonna, but the author is more likely to have been a Dominican friar who died in 1527 aged 94, having lived in Venice and Treviso. Poor man, he was bound not only to follow Christ rather than Cupid, but to do so in male company. In Angelo ...

Screaming in the Castle: The Case of Beatrice Cenci

Charles Nicholl: The story of Beatrice Cenci, 2 July 1998

... down in Rome. This was broadly the case with the current tenants of the building: Count Francesco Cenci, a 52-year-old Roman around whom accusations of corruption and violence clustered like summer flies; his second wife, Lucrezia; and his youngest daughter, Beatrice. The two women were essentially prisoners in the castle, slaves to the Count’s ...

On the Sixth Day

Charles Nicholl: Petrarch on the Move, 7 February 2019

Petrarch: Everywhere a Wanderer 
by Christopher Celenza.
Reaktion, 224 pp., £15.95, October 2017, 978 1 78023 838 8
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... Francesco Petrarca​ , known in English as Petrarch, is one of the tre corone – the ‘three crowns’ – of early Italian literature. There was a brief period when all three were alive: Dante died in 1321, when Petrarch was 17 and Boccaccio eight; the younger writers worked in his shadow. They were all Florentine, and in the phrase’s first coinage they were the ‘three crowns of Florence ...

Oud, Saz and Kaman

Adam Mars-Jones: Mathias Enard, 24 January 2019

Tell Them of Battles, Kings and Elephants 
by Mathias Enard, translated by Charlotte Mandell.
Fitzcarraldo, 144 pp., £10.99, November 2018, 978 1 910695 69 2
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... call him Manuel; we do, however, know the name of the merchant accompanying him: Giovanni di Francesco Maringhi, a Florentine who has been living in Istanbul for five years now.’ A classic piece of misdirection, drawing scrupulous attention to the authorial liberty taken early in the sentence so that the later invention can slip smoothly by. There’s ...

Spot the Gull

Peter Campbell: The Academy of the Lincei, 20 March 2003

The Eye of the Lynx: Galileo, His Friends and the Beginnings of Modern Natural History 
by David Freedberg.
Chicago, 513 pp., £35, December 2002, 0 226 26147 6
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... had to rescue him from a Roman prison where he was being held for the murder of an apothecary), Francesco Stelluti and Anastasio de Filiis. Responsibility was divided. Cesi did botany, Heckius philosophy and metaphysics, and so on. Their way was not easy. Cesi’s father objected violently to the Academy, and did all he could to destroy it: at one point he ...

The Bergoglio Smile

Colm Tóibín: The Francis Papacy, 21 January 2021

... from Italy in 1929, was from a lower class than the normal run of Jesuits and, as Marcantonio Colonna writes in The Dictator Pope: The Inside Story of the Francis Papacy (2017), ‘in the class-conscious society that is Argentina’s legacy from its oligarchic past this was always a visible handicap.’ (Colonna is the ...

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