Thursday, December 11, 2008

Italian artists' names

Confusion about the names of the Italian masters reigns throughout the land, starting with the irritating notion that Da Vinci is Leonardo's surname. It is not, as I explained previously.

Here is the lowdown on some famous artistes.

Michelangelo. This is his first name. Last name is Buonarroti. Italians will occasionally refer to him as "il Buonarroti," just for the hell of it.

Raphael. Anglicization of "Raffaello," his first name. Last name is Sanzio.

Titian. Anglicization of "Tiziano," a man's name, but much less common than the feminine "Tiziana." Last name Vecellio.

Caravaggio. Not his surname. First name is Michelangelo. People whose first name is "Michelangelo" (like the director Antonioni) are not necessarily named after Buonarroti; it is just a compound name made up of Michele and Angelo. Last name is Merisi. He was from Caravaggio in Lombardy. Recently it was found that he was actually born in Milan.

Sandro Botticelli. Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi. "Sandro" is short for "Alessandro," just as "Sandra" is short for "Alessandra." Called Botticelli or Il Botticello (little barrell) because he was short and fat, unlike the people in his pictures.

(Il) Tintoretto. You may know this, it's soooo cute. His dad was a dyer (tintore), hence he was called the little dyer. Real name: Jacopo (YAH-coh-po) Robusti.

Antonio del Pollaiuolo. Really Antonio di Jacopo d'Antonio Benci. His dad sold poultry (pollaio, hen coop). I'm not kidding.

Giorgione: one of my favorites. His life was shrouded in mystery, but this much is sure: he was a big 'un, and his first name was Giorgio. Last name Barbarelli; how prosaic. Above you see his Tempest, in the Accademia of Venice.

(Il) Veronese. Alias Paolo Caliari. From Verona.

(Il) Ghirlandaio. Good name to test your Italian pronunciation (GEAR-lahn-DIE-oh). Domenico Bigordi's pa was a goldsmith who made ornaments for ladies' hair, called garlands.

(Il) Sodoma. Ahem ahem coughcoughcough. Most likely due to his sexual orientation. Giovanni Bazzi.

Rosso Fiorentino. Florentine Red. Alias de' Rossi. Also due to the signature red color in his paintings.

(Il) Guercino. The little squinty-eyed (guercio) man. That is soooo not politically correct. He was cross-eyed. Giovanni Barbieri.

Fra' Angelico. The angelic brother (monk). He was a Dominican friar. Guido di Pietro.

Perugino. Pietro Vannucci. From Perugia in Umbria.

And others too numerous to mention...