Tuesday, January 15, 2008

New Novel on Renaissance Florence

I'm excited to see that Salman Rushdie set his new novel, to be released in June 2008, in Renaissance Florence and the Mughal court. Here is the story in Publisher's Weekly. I haven't read any of Rushdie's books, but I'm thrilled to see a writer of his caliber choose the Renaissance as a setting. Rushdie's novel takes place during the late fifteenth century and deals with Florentine, rather than French, politics, but I'll be looking forward to reading it nonetheless.

I'm deep in research of my own at this point, learning about the Italian artists who embellished François’ château at Fontainebleau and the production of Limoges enamels. Material for later posts!


Alan Fisk said...

One of the paintings that François displayed in his châteaux was Bronzino's Allegory with Venus and Cupid, now in the National Gallery in London. It is the subject of my novel Cupid and the Silent Goddess, which imagines how the painting might have been created in sixteenth-century Florence.


Best wishes,

Alan Fisk

Julianne Douglas said...


Thank you for alerting me to your book! I read the opening pages on Amazon and really enjoyed it. I'll have to order it to read the rest. It sounds like a fascinating story. How did you come upon the idea?

Alan Fisk said...

I'd been fascinated by the painting for decades, Julianne, and then I finally decided to write a novel about its creation. By the way, one of my reviewers thought that the figure of Venus was painted from a male model, quite a common practice at the time (see Michelangelo's beefy "female" angels), which would explain her height and her very masculine left thumb. I'm glad I hadn't heard of that idea before I'd written the novel!

Julianne Douglas said...

Thanks for sharing, Alan. I agree--good thing that idea didn't overshadow your work! I look forward to reading your novel, especially since my work in progress involves the art scene at Fontainebleau.

BTW, can you recommend any good resources regarding the functioning of an artist's studio at the time? There's always Cellini's autobiography, but I was looking for something a little less sensational... I've read some Vasari, too, but need something more descriptive of the day-to-day tasks and division of labor. Any suggestions would be a great help!

Alan Fisk said...

I couldn't find a book either, so I just used the bits and pieces that I'd picked up from other people's comments. I'm beginning to suspect that everyone is projecting back from studio organisation and practice in later periods, and assuming that it was the same in the Renaissance. Still, if nobody else knows, we can't be accused of getting it wrong!

Julianne Douglas said...

Thanks. I suspected there wouldn't be much to go on. I suppose that's the best situation for a fiction writer to find herself in!