It is Mussolini’s Italy and a young artist must work for the propaganda machine if he wants to continue to paint. Gianni will do all that is asked of him if he can paint the woman he worships and idolises. He is instantly captivated by Mathild’s face – enthralled and bound to her with no ambition but to reproduce those features again and again. He has no thought for the lengths he must go to to continue to paint her He is always drawn back to her in Siena. Each time he returns, he paints her and her world – The Painting of Siena – one painting with many years layered upon it. The colours and light of youth transform as the scene framed by his window sours into a new and brutal world. With each darkening year of paint, his brush slowly builds and records the vicious chaos that Siena and Italy descends into.
Yet, as simple and real humanity is choked from his view and Siena’s beauty crumbles with this slow infection, Gianni sees his Mathild as ever more unreal. His paintings of her glisten with an even greater and bewitching divinity until she is as illusory as all the Madonnas gazing from the galleries and churches.
Time and lives spread out from these sheltered, decaying walls and those he loves are slowly lost – either crushed by the rising empire of fascism, Italy’s slip into war or, ultimately, the final and desperate death of the regime. They join the ever growing armies of the lost. In this crumbling world, life even lacks death. There is no space for true death when all that is sent is word that another soul is lost – in action, in raids or forgotten fields. Individual tragedies are blown away with the dust of others to be forgotten with all those who never found home again. For some, it takes a lifetime to find their loved ones and when Gianni’s paintings are uncovered, it sets in motion the final turn which the painter’s life will take.
Available on Amazon
“Brilliant! – A Masterpiece”
Five Star Review on Amazon By Sarah W
The author’s evocation of the past is compelling and the descriptions are intensely lyrical. The artist’s pursuit of an ideal beauty, as seen through the frame of political unrest, reminded me of Robert Browning’s poems about Renaissance painters. Buy it and read it! Highly recommended.
About the Author
Author of The Painter of Siena. Barrister, writer, bed for kittens, reluctant swimmer and somehow, unbelievably, an adviser on a Hollywood film.
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