Shakespeare and Italy: Magri

Dr. Michael Delahoyde
Washington State University

Shakespeare and Italy:

Magri, Noemi. “Italian Renaissance Art in Shakespeare: Giulio Romano and The Winter’s Tale.” Great Oxford. Tunbridge Wells: Parapress Ltd., 2004. 50-65.

“Federico II Gonzaga (b. 1500) Marquis of Mantua, (1519-30, Duke of Mantua from 1530 to his death, 1540) who was looking for an artist to build a new palace on the island of Te, asked Baldassare Castiglione, the Gonzaga Ambassador in Rome, to send him one” (51).

“Giulio lived and worked in Mantua from his arrival there in 1524 to his death in 1546” (51).

“Giulio became the scene-painter of Mantua’s court at the time when there was a revival of drama. His unrivalled imagination produced pageants, costumes for masquerades and court performances of Latin and Italian plays, for jousts, tournaments and festivals. His familiarity with the theatre allowed him to represent, through the art of painting, dramatic episodes such as the Trojan War and mythological stories derived from classical literary works” (52).

“one of the main features of Giulio’s art — his ability to portray the human body and scenery in such a way as to give the impression that they are real and living” (54).

“Unfortunately, the Sack of Mantua in 1630 left only devastation, ruin and death in the city. Anything which could be taken away was despoiled or destroyed by the Imperial troops” (55).

“restoration work done by G.B. Bertani in Palazzo Ducale between 1572 and 1574” (57).

“The Loggia is one of the rooms forming the Appartamento di Troia planned and decorated by Giulio. In this sumptuous apartment, Duke Guglielmo Gonzaga used to receive his visitors: emperors, ambassadors, princes and dignitaries” (57).

“The German scholars were among the first to point out that Giulio was also a sculptor and that Shakespeare, whoever he was, must have visited Mantua. G. Sarrazin is the author of revealing articles on the subject” (58).
[G. Sarrazin. “Shakespeare in Mantua?” Shakespeare Jahrbuch 30 (1894): 249-263.]

“The Gonzaga’s commissions to Giulio for works in marble are only few. The reason is that there are no marble caves in the territory of Mantua” (58).

“Mixing local river-sand rich in dolomite with lime, Giulio obtained a special type of stony stucco to which he added marble powder to make the mixture harder” (59).

“Actually, in Aretino’s comedy Marescalco, Giulio is mentioned as a painter” (59).

“Giulio’s art as described by C. D’Arco finds a parallel in Shakespeare’s art: ‘Giulio excelled in expressing all human feelings and passions — voluptuousness, lust, revenge, suspicion, anger, jealousy, envy; his paintings are remarkable for their striking realism as they represent man’s virtues and vices.’ This very well matches the features of Shakespeare’s works” (60).

“It is not clear why Paulina should have kept Hermione’s statue in a chapel…. The chapel may be the Palatine Church. To de Vere, a foreign aristocrat, it would have been possible to be admitted to the Appartamento di Troia, the Duke’s audience apartment in Palazzo Ducale. The Duke was proud of his collections and always very glad to show them to his royal visitors” (61).

“No engravings or colour reproductions of Giulio’s works are known to have existed in England in the 16th century” (61).

Italian Bibliography