Sunday, 14 January 2007


in the last 3 days, I've managed to translate about 5,000 words (25 cartelle ish) as well as going out drinking til 6am, doing food and household shopping, doing two loads of laundry and a load of hand-washing, going out for dinner, cleaning the kitchen, going out drinking again til 4am, cooking an enormous english breakfast, having an unexpected sexual adventure and going to the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica in the Palazzo Barberini. Not all in that order. And caught up with various mates by phone and MSN. I am totally fucking shattered.

I have been eating:
  • excellent, very simple pizza at the rather famous Pizzeria dei Marmi (known as the Morgue for its Spartan interior and marble tables) on Viale Trastevere, where the menu is basic and short but always reliable, and the home-made supplì are absolutely out of this world.
  • a beautiful piece of grilled swordfish, dressed very simply with olive oil and lemon juice, with some spinach and some fried courgettes on the side, for the bargain price of €12.50 INCLUDING wine
  • home made bruschetta and steak both cooked alle brace over an open fire in someone's tiny country cottage
I have been drinking:
  • wine, obviously. mostly cheap and cheerful.
  • beer, obviously. cheerful but not very cheap.
  • Negroni, (campari rosso, gin & tanqueray) which is our 'house' cocktail...
  • grappa, obviously. an excellent and moderately priced grappa di moscato. Yum.
I have been admiring:
  • Raphael's wonderful La Fornarina (c. 1518). God she's beautiful, no wonder he kept slacking off work on the Villa Farnesina. She also looks like a sassy piece, the direct way she gazes at the viewer, the ambiguity as to whether she's trying to cover herself up or uncover herself... [This may be the first tits-out picture on my blog, too.]
  • Caravaggio's Judith and Holofernes. This is such a frequently painted story, and frequently an excuse to combine gore and toplessness in one easy stroke. Sex + violence = obviosuly irresistable. Throw in the religious justification and it's what I believe our American cousins call a no-brainer.
Judith and her assistant often look totally unphased by the situation, Judith clutching Holofernes' head by his hair like a housewife displaying a particularly fine pineapple she got cheap at the market. But Caravaggio's women combine determination and certainty with genuine horror. I think you sense that though she'd made her mind up, the actual reality of what beheading someone involves only becomes clear at that instant as his blood gushes out, hot and scarlet onto the pillow. Judith is struck by horror, and perhaps this is the moment when the moral and religious inspiration of her action is suddenly crucial. But she didn't know quite what to expect, and she's never done anything like this before; she's both powerful and vulnerable. while her maid is both surprised, somehow, and disgusted by the sight, though standing steadfastly with her cloth ready to bag up the head. The emotions, the characters, colours, the light - obviously - and the composition are all extraordinary.

There are plenty of other great things in the Barberini galleries but I'll leave it that for now. I'm not going to detail the laundry, the sex or the translation either.

Anyway all I want to do now is sleep. For about a year. Instead I'm going to do another few hours' translation I think.


punk said...

interessante l'analisi su caravaggio, molto dettagliata come profilo dei quadri che hai parlato.

de vertalerin said...

Young PatrickHerring thinks Judith looks just like you :-)

ginkers said...

As always, you paint an intriguing picture of both your life and art! Glad to see the grappa moscato found its way into the reckoning too. Life must be good!

Shep said...

You're such a tease...I haven't had an unexpected sexual adventure in nearly a decade. Bah Humbug.

Spangly Princess said...

ginkers: thanks. and yes, life is pretty good, I like to count my blessings and be grateful for the many ways in which I am incredibly lucky.

but shep, my mother reads this blog!

And De Vertalerin: I'm not sure whether to be pleased or otherwise. I mean, sure, 'you look like a Caravaggio' is nice... but, 'you look like a murderess caught in the act of decapitation' is a slightly less flattering assessment, no?

Martha Elaine Belden said...

ooo... i really like those paintings. especially the second one, and i like your analysis of their facial expressions

i need to go to a museum... it's been too long :(

claude said...

Yeah, call me self-absorbed, but I wanna refer you to my blurb about Caravaggio's Supper at Emmaeus six months back. And also to you post about the Cartier-Bresson exhibitioj not so long before that, in about May. I think that the decisive moment is what's most interesting - the Supper and the Judith painting depict the exact same instant. Woop woop.

a.c.t. said...

Sounds like you had a feast (apart from the Negroni which for some reason is the only cocktail that won't stay down :-P) And it's great that you've found cheap but nice places to eat.