Tick Tock, Clarice
Well, the click will just have to tick away on NaNo. I’ve got some more reading done but not much in the last few days – stress levels finally getting close to zero again, where I need them to concentrate. All the same, I almost have enough information to write the next scene, though of course the more you read the more you have to “write in” so as not to omit anything important. I want to make sure that I continue to write fiction as I research, so I don’t forget the goal, so that unlike my two previous efforts it doesn’t become all about the easy part (learning something new about something I’m already interested in) and not about the hard part (generating good and plausible fiction). I remember a story about Isaac Asimov, a very bright science fiction writer, who got a job as a chemistry teacher, even though he knew fuck-all about chemistry. He needed the job, so he took it, and then each night, before class, he read the material he’d present the next day to his class, just barely staying ahead of them. I love stories like that which prove that some of us can, indeed, dive into something new and have command of it in a short time. (And Bronzino’s portrait of Giovanni, seen below, was produced in less than two months after his arrival in Pisa…)
So here’s all that I’ve found out which requires further reading before any more writing can be done:
I have to go back now and chop out the bit about Bronzino having quarters provided for him by the Medici, though it’s true in a way since he’ll be staying with his friend Luca Martini, who was responsible for reclaiming the marshes around Pisa and transforming them into lucrative farmland.
From what I could read in “previews” from Beyond Isabella: Secular Women Patrons of Art in Renaissance Italy, it turns out that Bronzino traveled “by boat” from Florence to Pisa – a simple search on “travel from Florence to Pisa by water” comes up blank, so it’s probably not possible any more. How do I find out how it was done then?
Also, he not only traveled with “sculptor and architect Battista del Tasso,” but this gentleman also stayed with Luca Martini, so I have to look him up and create his character. (This boat ride would be a good place to put the gentlemen’s disagreement about the virtues of painting vs. sculpture, quite the topic at this time. Which may also mean getting rid of having B and Pontormo laugh at a pompous ass at the Academy who raises up sculpture and throws down painting.)
The summons to Pisa was urgent, I’ve discovered, because Eleanor was eager to get a painting of little Giovanni done and sent to the Pope with great haste, the Medicis being eager to get him a Cardinal’s hat – as was rather common at the time for noble children still far from comprehending so much as the tail ends of the Gordian Knot that is theology. He looks a rather sour-looking child in the portraits B did of him (right) at around age 7, and still sour in the portrait of him as St. John the Baptist (more propaganda designed to reinforce his suitability for the Church, even the Papacy) esp. in comparison to his bubbly demeanor as a baby – almost as if he’d grown to hate his adorable “baby picture” being chatted about as much as the rest of us would do in the same circumstances. I imagine I’d be posing for pictures with this “mask” on…
…if everyone in the world thought of me based on this picture:
Even today, the “baby Gio” picture is the one that comes up in overwhelmingly high numbers on image searches, while I had to take a photo of the picture of Giovanni as St. John from the Brock book. Giovanni died young, so he never took a role in the family or in history that would have erased or effaced the baby pic – this is also good meat for the story, and I can make him a surly boy who hates Bronzino for doing the portrait in the first place.
If this book is ever finished and published, I think the dedication should be to “Google Books and Amazon Search Inside” – the best reference tools I’ve found. I had to buy the Beyond Isabella, which looks worth it anyway, since so little is available via preview, but enough to guarantee it as a worthy purchase. UNR doesn’t let “community borrowers” do interlibrary loans, alas. But my status there might change, more on that next time.