Nov 26, 2008

Renaissance is Futile

It's been almost 500 years since Lucrezia Borgia died, and now we finally have a portrait of her.

The justifiably smug folks down at the National Gallery of Victoria have confirmed that a painting they acquired back in 1965 in London entitled Portrait of a Youth, is in fact a portrait of Lucrezia by famed Italian Renaissance artist Dosso Dossi.

The portrait's believed to be the only one of Lucrezia in existence, making it quite obviously worth more than a solid gold time machine.

Lucrezia was an intriguing woman, from a family of rat cunning politically-minded bastards. Her Dad wound up as Pope Alexander VI - the Renaissance being a time when that whole "chastity" thing was more of an offhand recommendation than a requirement.

Lucrezia reportedly had a similarly lax view of sexual morality - tales of her incestuous relationship with both her father and syphilitic brother Cesare are legendary, but quite possibly lies spread by the many and varied enemies of the Borgia clan. The rumour-mongers also painted Lucrezia as a homicidal fan of deadly toxins - prompting a classic line from Rowan Atkinson in Blackadder Goes Forth: "Baldrick, if you were to serve up one of your meals in Staff HQ, you would be arrested for the greatest mass poisoning since Lucrezia Borgia invited 500 of her close friends round for a wine and anthrax party."

But looking at the withering stare she sports in this portrait - I know I wouldn't want to get on her wrong side. Dosso Dossi must have worked very carefully indeed, and avoided all offers of a nice chianti.

Still, I love stories like this - previously unremarkable paintings picked up at a jumble sale for fourteen bucks that turn out to be the works of old masters, modern greats, or featuring famous subjects. Makes me wonder if anything in my underwhelming collection of object d'arte might be worth something one day. I've got a limited edition Futurama print hanging in my living room - it's number 72 of 100, and I'm hoping it's geek value will soar over the next few decades.

Anybody got something good hidden away? Or maybe something you're holding onto in the offchance it might have a famous association?


  1. I heard on the weekend that someone bought Richie Benaud's 'baggy green' (whatever that is) in an Op Shop for $1 and when they realised who the original owner was they sold it on ebay for $10,000 dollars.

    I assume 'baggy green' is the really potent marijuana the australian cricketers used in the 70s when they played against the West Indies.

  2. I guess he was hiding it in his hat ;}P>

  3. Oooooooh WAH!!!!
    Take care or Cricket Australia will be down to your place to give you a smicky smacky on your paddy wack for casting nasturtiums on the "worlds greatest team" (losses to India not withstanding)
    Not to mention Punters decision to save a couple of thousand dollars by bowling part timers instead of trying to win
    Thou shalt not take the name of "The Don" (apparently he's been dropped from the Naturalization test(the deep hum is Howard practising rolling in his grave for future use)) Nor shalt thou diminish any player especially "Roy" who is above all blemish