Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"Her eyes, brown as fir cones in autumn, scattered laughter."

I think I have a new hero. Isabella d'Este, the Marchesa of Mantua. How can you resist a woman called "First Lady of the World?" Sure, her husband had Lucrezia Borgia for a mistress, but Isabella was known far and wide for being a more competent ruler. She was the fashion idol of Anne of Brittany, twice Queen of France. On top of it all, she invented a hat.

She created and promoted the zazara (at least according to Paola Tinagli in Women in Italian Renaissance Art: Gender, Representation, Identity.)  I'm still in preliminary research mode on these, but they seem to be the large balloony type of headpiece, often sort of shaped like pumpkins, even down to the ribs.  More totally round than a balzo, they don't have the shape that starts close to the head and projects back into the characteristic bulbous shape.  Here are a few more for good measure.   

My only issue now is, due to a lack of research and true definition, I can't decide if the frothy confection of curls and bows Lucretia is wearing on her head is a zazara, a balzo, or something else entirely.  That isn't going to stop me from making it.  I've got wool yarn coiled on skewers baking in the oven as I type this, getting ready to play with.  What it IS going to do is add another dress to my "must make" list.  I'm going to have to make something with a clearly defined zazara and possibly one form one of Isabella's portraits.  I love the Ruben's portrait, as well as the Titian I've got there at the left (painted when she was 60, she forced him to repaint her with a young face-- her own version of plastic surgery.)  I am SO getting sucked into this Italian.  Total slippery slope here folks.

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