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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Frank Cadogan Cowper: Lucretia Borgia

Lucretia Borgia Reigns in the Vatican in the Absence of Pope Alexander VI
by Frank Cadogan Cowper, 1908-1914
oil on canvas
Tate Collection
(Acquisition Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1914)
no copyright infringement intended

This is a re-creation of an obscure and scandalous incident from the history of the Popes. In 1501 the illegitimate daughter of Pope Alexander VI, Lucrezia Borgia, took his place at a meeting. Frank Cowper has invented this suggestive moment in which two noblemen part Lucrezia’s dress so that a Franciscan friar can kiss her shoe.The room in the Vatican in which Lucrezia Borgia appeared still exists. It was decorated by the Italian Renaissance artist Pinturicchio. Cowper went there to copy it and painted the faces of the Cardinals from their original portraits.

Was Cowper the last of the old masters, or rather a modern pretending to be old, while talking mockingly of the old ways?

(Frank Cadogan Cowper)



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