28 The artis
A cramped, low-ceilinged little room which nobody has tidied for ages has become my new home. Canvass and discarded pieces lie everywhere. Varnish and brushes are abundant, and a clamming smell of copper resinate based paint fills the air. There are many empty wine bottles, two easels, several palettes, a single armoire - who's doors are unable to fully close - a bed, and abandoned plates of food.
But among this chaos, beauty is created. A beauty that I have seldom witnessed. Ever since Christine - who had me set into a brooch by her goldsmith - gifted me to Angela, I have been able to observe the creations of several works that can only be described as odes to pulchritude.
One of the easels is standing by the window, looking out over the façades of yellow bricks making up the narrow alleyway. The brimming late summer sun shines upon the Ferri lion heads, resembling the marzocco.
Upon the canvass, a beautiful woman is floating over the waves in a wagon pulled by two seahorses as a cheerful company of sea gods and nereids surround her frolics.
No matter how long I look at the graceful picture, I always discover new beauty in the rich and intricate composition. Every figure seems to correspond to another, to answer every movement with one of their own. I have seen this in pieces of my time, but how stiff and boring these paintings seem to be next to those of this time period! The little boy figures with their cupid bows and arrows, aiming at the heart of the nymph, appear to me as if the concept of deiform was taking shape right before my very eyes. The group of sea gods that revolve around the wagon, seem to move, to whirl, as if dancing in pairs.
But the most beautiful thing of all is that these different movements are captured and reflected by the nymph's figure, in whose countenance I recognize the image of Christine. It seems as if she is truly in motion; her wagon floats from left to right; her veil flutters backwards; she turns around laughing and all the lines in the painting, from the arrows of the love gods to the flowers that she holds, point to her winsome visage that occupies the centre of the scene. The soft colours bring peace to my weary eyes who seem to be unable to stray from them. With these means of art, Angela has created a true masterpiece.
My dear artist. As foul-mouthed as she appears innocent; it is truly an ironic combination. She has all the fragrance and beauty of a flower. There is ripple after ripple of sunlight in her hair, and her small mouth, with its parted lips, is expectant whenever concentrated on her creative endeavours. Almost like the mouth of a child. She has the fascinating mindset of youthful rebels, clearly emphasised by the astonishing courage she possesses. To sane people, she is not reminiscent of any work of art and would be rather annoyed if she were to hear me say so.
When a rapid knocking disturbs her, Angela leaves her spot by the window and goes to open the door. A menacing figure in a bright, red cape and dark hat, appears in the frame. The light comes from behind the figure so that I see only its silhouette as it unfolds its arms towards Angela in a gesture of encouragement. Then, as recognition appears upon her features, she hastily throws down the brush she has clammed between her teeth and rushes joyfully into the figure's arms.
The newcomer is a tall, travel-stained young man in clothes that need repair. His face is lined, and he is obviously not in perfect health. The artist smiles brightly.
"Why are you here?"
"Am I not welcome?" The man answers.
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"Of course, welcome!"
"You're very thin. Does your patroness not feed you?"
Angela ducks away and fetches the man's bags from the landing.
"Feed? Well, of course, she feeds me. Or rather, provides me with the money to buy food."
"Does she visit?" He says, throwing a look about the room. Despite his dishevelled appearance, the man has a pleasant and kind air about him. Almost playful. Tall and rather slight as Angela herself, with very thin lips and highly-coloured; a line of scarlet on a pallid face. He has dark blond hair, an aquiline nose, and a long throat. Grey-green eyes move restlessly under strong eyebrows.
He makes an effort to empty out a chair. Old canvasses and wooden frames are redirected to a corner, and the newly available chair is pulled to one of the few empty spaces in the apartment.
"Heaven, no. She resides in the Pitti Palace."
"Do you always live like this?"
"Why, yes?" As her guest is now properly seated, Angela goes to get her high chair from the other side of the room.
"You have a patron, a member of the Medici at that, and yet I had to come find you in this neighbourhood?"
"It is a fine one."
"It is catastrophic."
"Don't be such a bore."
The man throws a roguish look at her, arching an eyebrow. "That's no way to talk to me. Certainly, since I made the effort to come visit you in the first place."
"Please, you've been dying to come to Florence. Now do tell, how is mother?"
The young man falters and goes silent, but Angela's insisting gaze causes him to answer, "she is well."
"Papa's fine, he's making Lucian pull his rounds, so they'll be fine without me for a while."
"Is he now? Poor dear, he never liked it."
The other pulls up his shoulders in a gesture of insouciance, "he's been slacking off for as long as I remember. It serves him right."
"How long do you plan on staying?"
"The rest of the season. Perhaps longer. Mamma hopes for me to bring home a bride."
"You poor creature."
"She hopes for you to bring home a husband."
"She's going to wait for that her whole life, I'm afraid."
"Christ, Charles, are you serious?" She laughs. A sad and despondent sound. The artist turns her eyes to the ceiling and nods ascertained, "that's why you're here."
"No. Angela,- please," he almost rises. Sitting upon the very brim of the chair, he makes a frail, defenceless gesture instead, "I apologise."
"She put you up to this?"
A crestfallen huff.
"-really. I mean it. Let's just say that she caries some hope."
"I'm aware. Going to the academy tonight?"
"I suppose so. Are you?"
"Yes. Horrible tedious parties they give, don't they?"
"Horribly tedious! Never know why I go. Never know why I go anywhere."
"Then why don't you stay at home?"
She winks in a manner that screams coquettishness. "A certain friend of mine would be devastated."
"Mamma would be devastated if she heard."
Again, Angela becomes visibly upset and says: "for goodness sake, I asked you specifically, Charles!"
"Yes. Yes, just teasing."
Charles is to stay the night, though he is quick to find an apartment to rent but a week after his arrival. It is not too far off that of his younger sibling, and Angela greatly enjoys spending her days with him. Since, as I have come to understand, it has been many years since their parting.