Friday, September 4, 2009

"Seeking Sara"
An Evidence Based Mixed Media Art Journey
Part 3


Ansaldo Ceba was born in 1565 in Genoa. He came from a noble family and attended the University of Padua where he specialized in Greek language and literature.

Ansaldo Ceba and Sara Copia Sullam were most intimately linked with his heroic poem on the sacred theme of Queen Esther.

Ceba’s poem, La Reina Ester, written in 1613. “La Reina Ester” was composed in less than two years. Ester was an extremely long poem (Canto XI has 186 stanzas; Canto IX, 170).

Being a well known literary figure, Ceba’s poem had aroused great expectations in Italy however the poem was not received at all well.

In 1618, Ansaldo Ceba received a letter that was to affect his life profoundly and bring him some joy because it was from someone who appreciated his poem Ester.

That Ansaldo Ceba was a Christian who had deemed a Jewish queen worthy of being made the heroine of an epic poem was what captured the attention of Sara.

Finished Reliquary for Ansadlo Ceba
Antique Italian photo frame
Feathers representing quills used for his written poetry
Antique beads and
Antique metal fringe from Masonary neck piece

Her letter in praise of the poem led to an exchange of letters and verse with Sara Copio Sullam. The exchange was his attempt to convert her to his Catholic faith.

There is no image available of Sara hence I substituted with this image of Queen Esther. It seems ironical that the poem that brought the lives of these two of different faiths together, uses Queen Esther’s heroism to save her people from annihilation. If the Jews at the time all became Converso's then they would have committed self annihilation.

Sara, who was extremely committed to her faith, did not relent to Ceba’s continual attempts to convert her.

Sara lived at a time when Jews were forced to live in the Venetian Ghetto. The Inquisitions still prevailed and it was with great risk to her life that Sara continued her correspondence and subsequent refusals to convert. However, the The Venetian Ghetto was famous for intellectual as well as artistic and musical attainments.

Finished Reliquary for Sara Copio Sullam

Antique Italian photo frame
Antique beads and trim
Vintage crewel leaves
Antique Piano Ivories representing her musical talents

The colours red and yellow used to symbolise the forced colours that Jews had to wear to identify themselves.
The use of the reliquary here, whilst somewhat foreign to Judaism seemed appropriate to the subject matter and the way people were remembered at the time.