Thursday, March 08, 2007

The putti's new nose. Part 1

Once upon a time when we were young and the world was fresh and green - in about 1976 - we had a cast of the head of a 'putti', that of the 'Winged Boy with a Dolphin' sculpted by Renaissance artist Verrochio. The small statue is now in Florence, in the Palazzo Vecchio, but originally stood in the garden of the Medicis' villa in Careggi.

How we came by this cast I can't remember. No doubt Alan had picked it up along the way; a discarded remnant of some Grand Tourist's travels, or perhaps a refugee from some art school plaster room when drawing from 'classical' casts fell from fashion and such castings became cast-offs. The Winged Boy's head had found a home with us and regularly if not frequently, holding his baby-weight plaster head in the palm of my hand, I would dust his sweet soft face. Such cherubic cheeks. A snouty little nose. In those days no one said 'bless'.

.......We also had our own small putti who, lacking wings, was discovering legs and the variety of objets now within reach of his little fingers. All was a voyage of discovery. Such delight to be found in such ordinary things - a crumb from the carpet, a cat's tail, a loudspeaker, a funny sort of head thing.......which after it had been under the heavy orange thing (which might have been a ball) was never to be quite the same again. The heavy orange thing - a very solid piece of ceramic fruit - slipped from the little star-fish fingers and in disastrous short seconds effected a very efficient nose-job. The Boy with a Dolphin's nose had gone. Cue for some shouting. Probably some wailing.....

We've all moved on since then of course. The Boy on a Dolphin has come with us, nose-less, through a few house moves; sometimes wrapped in tissue, other times in the newspaper of the day. We've untucked him and
fondly announced his soubriquet 'Ah, Verrochio's Boy with a Dolphin', before putting him back in a box. He is after all an old friend.

This last move, all boxes were unpacked and the curators of the family treasure trove assumed an unaccustomed ruthlessness;
30 years worth of bric a brac was sorted and sifted. It was In. Or it was Out. And yes! To the sound of faint applause our "Boy with a Dolphin' made it out of the box and onto a shelf in the dog/laundry/mud room.

I catch those blank plaster eyes as I go about the day's mundane tasks. I think: how sweet you were........I remember I made a broken leg for a Young Farmer. I remember that we have kilos of casting plaster. I think Hey! This is the stuff of which plaster casts are made! I catch the dull eye of my 'putti' and I mutter: 'I'm going to make you a nose....'

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