The painting Allegory with Venus and Cupid has long fascinated visitors to London's National Gallery, as well as the millions more who have seen it reproduced in books. It is one of the most beautiful paintings of the nude ever made.
In 1544, Duke Cosimo de' Medici of Florence commissioned the artist Bronzino to create the painting, a diplomatic gift to King Francois I of France.
As well as the academic mystery of what the strange figures in the painting represent, there is a human mystery as well: who were the models in the Florence of 1544 who posed for the gods and strange creatures?
Alan Fisk's Cupid and the Silent Goddess imagines how the creation of this painting might have touched the lives of everyone who was involved with it: Bronzino's apprentice Giuseppe, the mute and mysterious Angelina who is forced to model for Venus, the brutal sculptor Baccio Bandinelli and his son, and the good-hearted nun Sister Benedicta and her friend the old English priest Father Fleccia, both secret practitioners of alchemy.
As the painting takes shape, it causes episodes of fear and cruelty, but the ending lies perhaps in the gift of Venus.
A witty and entertaining romp set in the seedy world of Italian Renaissance artists.
Award-winning historical novelist Elizabeth Chadwick (The Falcons of Montabard, The Winter Mantle).
Alan Fisk, in his book Cupid and the Silent Goddess, captures the atmosphere of sixteenth-century Florence and the world of the artists excellently. This is a fascinating imaginative reconstruction of the events during the painting of Allegory with Venus and Cupid.
Marina Oliver, author of many historical novels and of Writing Historical Fiction.
...a fiction which is as intriguing as the painting itself...an excellent read.
Emily Retter, The Historical Novels Review.
Cupid and the Silent Goddess by Alan Fisk. ISBN 1-904433-08-1.
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Alan Fisk's first novel was The Strange Things of the World, about the world's first tourist cruise in 1536, followed by The Summer Stars, a fictional autobiography of the sixth-century British bard Taliesin, Forty Testoons, set in Newfoundland in 1504-5, and Lord of Silver, set in fourth-century Roman Britain. His science fiction novel Lightstorm, under his pen name John Raymond, was picked up for translation and publication in Romania.
He has also published short stories and many articles in countries around the world. He is a tutor on residential weekend courses on subjects including 'Writing Historical Novels' and 'Story Theory'.
Alan Fisk has lived in England, Austria, Singapore, and Canada. He has been an economist, an Air Force officer, and a technical author, and he lives in London.