One thing that you should know about this portrait,
deemed by many, the world's most perfect yet:
the sitter and the artist never met.
Commission 199: Portrait: Lady
Viceroy of Malta: a.k.a. The Ice Queen...
But Raphael was busy, so dispatched
a Jack-the-Lad assistant from the ranks
to sketch the high born lady from the sticks
while he made hay with nobles grown near home.
It's here I interject my small conceit:
Jack tarried in the local inns a while,
boasting wildly of the fortune that would follow
when once he'd lifted this old dame to fame.
Then on the very eve of the first sit
a ne'er-do-well who'd overheard him, spiked
his ale with something clearly meant to put
Jack in his his power. Jack hardly noticed
how brush and silverpoint found harmonies
of flesh and hue which only The Divine
had seen before. He painted like a man
possessed, a man possessed of every skill
and passion which the artist craves, the like
of which were never in his bag before.
And none could say the model's likeness had
in any truthful way been captured in
Jack's image. But neither could be found just
one detractor who would say the two were
not the same. From fevered art a beauty
radiated that was never in the flesh
And then there was the business of the eyes.
As Jack unrolled his work to Raphael and
the studio, it would become quite clear
that Jack had changed, not once but many times,
his subject's eyes from straight ahead to left
or right then back again -- details all of
iconography to show her status.
How come her status was not known to Jack?
How come her beauty paled Jack's art?
Who was this dame he picked up at the inn?
Notes: The third line of this poem is the only trustworthy one. The business of the eyes is factual, but relates to Raphael's (?) final painting and not Jack's sketches.
From The Sleepy Zombie.