In our Italian class we recently spent some time talking about this painting by Renato Guttuso, a Sicilian artist.
Reactions varied from enthusiasm to repugnance. I love the way it invites us to enter the Vucciria market in Palermo, Sicily. One of my class companions, however, hated it for the portrayal of a great carcass and, as she saw it, the way the woman central to the picture, is similarly a piece of meat. As well as expressing our varied opinions of the picture, we had fun counting people. We started of believing there were about seven and ended up, on closer examination, thinking there were at least a dozen.
We had got onto this because some of us had talked about a programme on the BBC called Sicily Unpacked where art critic Andrew Graham Dixon and celebrity chef Giorgio Locatelli went round the island of Sicily looking at interesting places and eating interesting food. One of the things they looked at was the Guttuso painting.
Andrew Graham Dixon went on to say that his mother had owned a cookery book, Italian Food by Elizabeth David, which contained illustrations by Guttuso. My Phil had tried to find a copy of the book to give me as a birthday present but had only been able to find a more modern copy without the aforementioned illustrations. It's still a book worth having. Elizabeth David was probably responsible for my first attempts at Spanish recipes.
Anyway, today I took the book along to show Adalgisa, our Italian teacher. Great minds clearly think alike because another member of the group, Richard, regularly referred to as Ricardo Cuore di Leone, had also brought the book along. Small world syndrome strikes again. However, the difference was that his was the older edition with the Guttuso illustrations. So I borrowed it so that I could show Phil the illustrations he hadn't managed to obtain. Here are a few of them. Pretty good!
Here’s another little coincidence: Renato Guttuso comes from Bagheria, near Palermo in Sicily, home town of Giuseppe Tornatore, maker of the film "Cinema Paradiso".
Oh, and the town apparently featured in "The Godfather, Part III".
Oh, again, and I am probably among the few English people who have read the book "Bagheria" by Dacia Maraini.
Small world, eh?