fillide

4

Fillide Melandroni was a famous courtesan from the final decade of the XVI century. She was so beautiful that even the great master Caravaggio took a liking to her, and as a result we can observe her face in four of his paintings. Apparently his affection for this girl resulted in bloody outcome. Caravaggio allegedly killed and castrated her pimp, Ranuccio Tomassoni after the game of tennis, and fled Italy afterwards. 

Here we can see her face depicted in Caravaggio’s works:

1. Judith Beheading Holofernes (whole piece)

2. Saint Catherine of Alexandria (whole piece)

3. Portrait of a Courtesan (whole piece)

4. Martha and Mary Magdalene (whole piece)

This article cites Peter Robb’s controversial biography “M,” and Andrew Graham-Dixon’s recent but problematic biography of Caravaggio in reference to two of the most popular and somewhat mysterious areas of Caravaggio’s life: his death and how/why he killed Ranuccio. Problem: It does not cite art historian Helen Langdon, who unbiasedly wrote about this very topic in her biography of Caravaggio. Nor does it cite Philip Sohm, who wrote about the differing stories of Caravaggio’s death, or any primary sources related to Caravaggio’s death and his relationship with Fillide. Wikipedia disappoints. False & misinformation abounds… I hope I do my small part to troll the web and point it out. 

Storie d'Amore e di Morte: Merla e Tibaldo

Recita una delle più belle canzoni napoletane:
“… sò doce o sò amare…
sò semp parole d’ammor…”

Amore e Morte è il tema di questo piccolo corollario di Storie e Leggende.

FILLIDE e ACAMANTE… la leggenda del mandorlo fiorito


Come sempre i miti hanno più di una versione e questo non sfugge alla regola. Qui è stata scelta quella più romantica, benché triste e amara.

Acamante, uno dei guerrieri Achei di ritorno da Troia, durante il viaggio si ferma in Tracia.
Qui conosce la bellissima Fillide, figlia del Re e se ne innamora, ricambiato appassionatamente.
I due si sposano, ma la nostalgia della terra lontana afferra ben presto il guerriero che fa un patto con la sposa: si recherà ad Atene, ma sarà di ritorno un anno dopo.
Prima della partenza, Fillide gli consegna un misterioso scrigno raccomandandogli di aprirlo solo nell’impossibilità di tornare da lei.
Acamante parte, ma, spinto da spirito di avventura, si ferma a Cipro, dove finisce per restare… forse al fianco di un’altra principessa.
Fillide si reca ogni giorno sulla spiaggia a guardare il mare, nella speranza di vedere una vela spuntare all’orizzonte, infine, trascorso il tempo stabilito e non vedendo tornare l’amato, decide di porre fine alla sua vita.
Impietosita, la dea Atena trasforma il suo corpo in un mandorlo.
Acamante arriva il giorno dopo e non può fare altro che abbracciare il tronco nudo dell’albero.
Ecco, però, che sotto le sue carezze, il mandorlo si copre di fiori e non di foglie… come accade ancora oggi!
A questo punto, Acamante decide di aprire lo scrigno, ma resta sconvolto da quello che è custodito al suo interno: i segreti della Madre-Terra.
Atterrito da quella visione, il giovane fugge, ma inciampa nella propria spada e si trafigge a morte.

Fillide, c.1597

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

ex Berlin, Kaiser Friedrich Museum, Berlin

Oil on canvas 66 x 53 cm, destroyed 1945

“When M painted Anna Baianchini’s seventeen year old friend Fillide Melandroni – with a very elaborate hairdo and pressing a sprig of highly perfumed bergamot to her breasts – he probably did it for Vincenzo Giustiniani. Fillide certainly got to Giustiniani’s collection pretty soon and stayed there. Fillide herself was arrested one summer night in 1601 with her protector just near palazzo Giustiniani. The couple’s extreme reluctance to tell police what they were about raised the question whether she wasn’t paying a visit to the banker.

Fillide was then at the height of her career as a prostitute. She was the most sought after girl in Rome and her image, tough, beautiful and humourous – a far stronger presence than poor Anna’s – was about to appear in M’s work as a series of saints and heroines. Fillide’s supple, earthy beauty and her ironic glance made her a marvelous model and M owed her a lot. The electric doubleness of her presence, compelling as a fearless young female icon, seductive and subversive as herself, launched M irreversibly into that dramatic mode that – as much as his far more talked about technique of representation – made his greatness as a painter. After M painted Fillide there was no turning back – neither to the unresponsive blankness of an amiably bored Mario model, not to the charming but purely pictorial stasis of groups like the Musicians or Francis and the angel or the Rest on the flight into Egypt. M had his own powerful dramatic instinct and the Sick self-portrait and the Cheats were his strongest early work, but the encounter with Fillide was the clarifying flash of light. After M painted her everything else fell away – even his portraits, even still life turned inexorably into drama.” (M, Peter Robb, 1998)