Tithe Muse

Nicoletta Cerasomma


Lucca, Tuscany, Italy

Teresa Bandettini, also known as Amarilli Etrusca, was one of the most talented, eclectic woman of the XIX century, born in Lucca in 1763. She is well known as a dancer, since she performed at earlier age. She precociously showed a sensitiveness towards poems and poetry to the point that she was said to be able to compose verses at the age of 7 years old.

Her interests ranged from classical literature to mythology. She loved latin and she deepened classical poetry such as Dante’s and Ovid’s masterpieces therefore people called her “The intellectual dancer”. Supported by her husband Pietro Landucci, she quit dance career in order to focus on poetry and the art of extemporization. She got an enormous success across Italy due mostly to her captivating and touching performances. In 1805 she wrote the Teseide, a poem on the footsteps of Virgil’s Aeneid, and she was the first woman to be part of Arcadia Academy with the Arcadian nickname of Amarilli Etrusca. She became so famous that she had been performing in front of the important audiences such as Napoleon and Maria Luisa of Bourbon. During her life Teresa Bandettini was celebrated by the greatest Italian artists of the time such as Vittorio Alfieri and Vincenzo Monti. Like many other important women of the past her popularity and fame faded after her dead in 1837.

The aim of this project is to give Teresa Bandettini the deserved place in Art and History and celebrate her creative genius: since she is almost unknown between people of Lucca even, I decided to portrayed her through a series of diptychs inspired by Teresa Bandettini's feminine character and the deep knowledge she could source to create her art.

I invite the viewer to seek the mystery beyond the appearance, in the broken up image, in the place between real and surreal.

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  • Teresa Bandettini’s wide knowledge of classical culture gave her an enormous background from which she could source to compose her verses. She had a such great aptitude for extemporization that she was capable of moving people to tears.

  • The myth of Adonis is common to many cultural traditions such as Semitic and Classic. From Ovid in the “Metamorphoses” to Teresa Bandettini herself, in the poem “The Death of Adonis”, the myth is related to the sun and moon rituals, archetype of death and resurrection and the dichotomy between life and death.

  • Capable of translating the most important masterpieces from Latin at the age of 13, Teresa Bandettini studied Ovid's Metamorphoses, in which are told the most popular and important myths of Roman and Greek cultures.

  • Pegasus was said to have flown toward the sky becoming a constellation. He is the symbol of headless poet spiritual life and inspiration, the representation of poetic fervor seeking for the major ambition.

  • Recalling the mythology of Ovid's Metamorphoses through the Medusa’s stone mask, this diptych proposes a parallel between Greek myths told in Teresa Bandettini’s poem “Fall of Giants” and Teresa Bandettini herself.

  • Teresa Bandettini became famous as a dancer, performing in many theatre of Europe. Nevertheless her attitude toward poetry and her deep knowledge of Roman and Greek works made her one of the most extraordinary performer of her time. She was said to have performed 8 different versions of the same topic.

  • Teresa Bandettini dance and intellectual career is compared with the Labyrinth sculpted on Lucca’s Cathedral, in order to represent her evolution. There is an hidden message here and it is to follow your inspiration.

  • She was admired by princes and poets who competed to applaud her and support her. The journey has just begun and the destination still far away. This diptych refers to Teresa’s expectation.

  • In this diptych there is an explicit referral to the hero’s journey of Homeric myths and the controversial figure of Helen.

  • Her life is compared with the myth of sirens here represented by the stone sculpture that belongs to Saint Michael church in Lucca. It suggests Ulysses' efforts to hold out against not only external temptation but also the inner ones, human will and passion.

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