Bartolomeo Scappi

Cooking for the Pope By Edward White

Daniele da Volterra’s most lasting mark on the world was a commission of dubious honor: retouching—or defacing, depending on one’s point of view—a fresco inside the Sistine Chapel created by his late mentor, Michelangelo. Artists had hailed The Last Judgment on its unveiling in 1541, but its depictions of a beardless Christ and wingless angels, all of them nude, outraged papal officials, who ordered that Biblical modesty be upheld by the addition of loincloths. Daniele was in his late fifties, with an illustrious career behind him; it would surely have pained him to know that four and a half centuries later he would still be known as Il Braghettone—“the trouser-maker”—the man whose job it had been to splodge moralizing graffiti over his friend’s masterpiece. 

It was a sign of the times. In recent years, censoriousness had crept into Roman public life. Formerly, the spirit of the Renaissance had reigned inside the Holy See; the papacy regarded its task as celebrating the delight of God’s creation, and many of Rome’s highest clerics had taken that notion to an extreme degree. Now, assailed by Protestant criticisms of clerical wantonness, the Vatican curled its lip at anything that appeared playful or unchaste.

In a way, Michelangelo was lucky: his works were embellished, not destroyed, and he didn’t live to see the revision of The Last Judgment. Others faced the prospect of looking on as their lifetime’s work was erased from collective memory. One such unfortunate was Bartolomeo Scappi. As head chef for popes and cardinals throughout the middle decades of the sixteenth century, he prepared unashamedly decadent banquets for the most powerful men on earth. For thirty years, his art embodied the thrilling, brief moment when the papal court was one of the world’s leading patrons of artistic expression and intellectual enquiry. But no sooner had he hit his peak than he was forced to lay down his ladle: reform had gripped the Vatican

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Despre Claudiu Degeratu
Expert in securitate nationala, internationala, NATO, UE, aparare si studii strategice

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