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The Comedians

131 (Minaggio 100) The title "Lichomezi" (The Comedians) at the top of this picture indicates these 14 drawings were done as a set, possibly intended as portraits of a specific theatrical company performing the type of play known as Commedia dell ' Arte. Leander, our first character, was a celebrated "lover" played by actor Benedetto Ricci of the "Fedeli" company. Regrettably, he died in 1620 at the age of 28 while on route to Paris to perform with the company.

132 (Minaggio 110) This picture shows an entire stage scene from a comedy written by Nicolo Barbieri - the serenading of the love-struck servant Spineta by the masked Schapin (Scapino). The variety of instruments hanging from the tree indicates that this is a depiction of the musically gifted actor and instrument designer Francesco Gabrielli and his wife Spinetta, who were members of the Confidenti company.

133 (Minaggio 102) It is not known who was playing Policianelo, an early version of the Neapolitan character Punch , when Minaggio drew these pictures. The character, created by Silvio Fiorello and particularly popular at the beginning of the 17th century, was gradually modified by other authors. This may be the earliest appearance of Policianelo in northern Italy and it is interesting that Minaggio depicts him as an old man with white hair, moustache and goatee. Punch only later came to be shown as hook-nosed, humped and paunched.

134 (Minaggio 103) This character, whose left foot has unfortunately disappeared, seems to be Dr. Gracian Camanaz of Budri, from Andreini's play "La Campanaccia". The role of the learned and commanding doctor was written for Bortolomio Bongiovanni and is related to a stock Commedia dell'Arte character known as Gratiano.

135 (Minaggio 104) The young Trastulo, here playing the mandolin, represents one of many clown-like characters of the " zanni" type and is probably a portrait of Silvo Fiorillo's son Giovan Battista. The character was a Sicilian servant to Captain Matamor. Ricolina was a servant and this is probably a depiction of the actress Angela Lucchesi.

136 (Minaggio 105) Along with two old men and two servants, the "lovers" were the central characters of the Commedia dell'Arte. The secondary roles of Mario and Flavia were played by the celebrated Agostino Grisenti and Margherita Luciani Garavini. Small and neither as beautiful nor elegant as "Florinda," Flavia was her bitter enemy.

137 (Minaggio 106) Florinda was a tragedy written by the famous playwright Gian Battista Andreini for his wife Virginia Ramponi, an actress with the Fedeli company who was renowned for both her beauty and her talents as a singer and poet. The play was performed to great acclaim.

138 (Minaggio 107) Pombino was portrayed by Girolamo Solinbeni of the "Gelosi" and later the "Accesi" company. Very little is known of this character but he may have been a representation of an uncouth country bumpkin.

139 (Minaggio 108) Captain Matamor represents the stock character of the bullying swaggering coward, one of the most famous of Commedia dell' Arte figures. This is almost certainly a portrait of the actor Silvio Fiorilla, one of the most famous comic actors of his day.

140 (Minaggio 109) Chola Napolitane was a Harlequin clown figure created by Aniello di Maure. Knavish, grotesque and acrobatic, he is shown in a distorted caper making the vulgar Neapolitan gesture against the evil eye. Maure was a particularly gifted actor and dancer.

141 (Minaggio 101) The masked Trapelino, one of the "zanni" type of clown, was played by Giovan Paolo who retired in 1630. The more celebrated Beltrame, a typical Milanese character, was created by Nicoli Barbieri, an author of both plays and works defending the theatre. In 1625 Barbieri performed at the French court where he was much admired by the king.

142 (Minaggio 111) These two unidentified figures may represent Virginia Ramponi and her husband Gian Battista Andreini, whose stage name was Lelio, taking a bow at the end of a performance.

143 (Minaggio 113) The character Cietrulo is not well documented but may represent an officer of the law. Bagutino is obviously a variant of Harlequin. It is not known which actors played these roles, although the characters were associated with the Confidenti company.

144 (Minaggio 114) Chocholi (Cocolin) better known as Magnifico or Pantolone, was the stock character of the old man who makes a fool of himself by chasing after a young girl or by his excessive suspiciousness or miserliness. The actor Federico Ricci, father of the actor portrayed as Leander, worked with the Fedeli company off and on from 1609 until 1627, by which time he was so crippled with gout he could barely move on stage.