22 January 2018

The Trick is Finding Someone Whose Unusual Interest in Dwarfs Has Forced Them to Sell Their Art

From the early 1500s to early 1600s, the English destroyed a lot of art. Perhaps as much as 98% of their paintings and statues as part of their rejection of Catholicism and its rather worldly reliance on images. 

King Charles (the king who ruled until the Puritans cut off his head in 1649) revived an interest in art. An avid collector, at one point he was able to get a good deal on some great paintings (among them a Titian) because a certain Gonzaga family had fallen on hard times morally and financially; only interested in sex with dwarfs, they sold him paintings in order to get money to purchase a rather extraordinary Hungarian she-dwarf for a high price. (Yes. The actual woman. Not a painting of her.)

Had Shakespeare only lived a few more decades, he could have included accounts like this in his plays. As it is, we have only stories of passionate teens and mad kings.

[This is a story that was casually dropped into conversation on Andrew Marr's Start the Week podcast today. It struck me as remarkable.]

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