I am dedicating this week’s Cabinet of Curiosities to my friend Hasan Nayazi, blogger, art lover and fellow researcher from 3 Pipe Problem.
H passed away over a week ago, and the world came together to pay their respects to someone who supported bloggers, accredited or not, historians and art aficionados, like myself. The multitude of various individuals brought together by this one man is a testament to the influence of art on all people. As a novice blogger, H nurtured my love of the Borgias with gentle critiques and the sharing of information that covered my vast interests in history and art. He designed the banner for my blog, always ready with more information than my research had uncovered, bringing a depth to my writing that only fueled my thirst for more. I had taken time off my blog in order to return to school fulltime, however, a twist of fate put that dream on hold as I returned to working fulltime; I despaired that I would not be able to return to the things I loved in art and history. H’s death brought my writing to the forefront again, admittedly, I was not happy unless I was sharing my research on This Write Life.
Hasan’s lifework is the Open Raphael website. This independent project is a labor of love, encompassing all the known works of Rapahel Santi (1483-1520). Consequently, the research and time spent developing this archive dedicated to the artist reshapes how art and history are available through the internet. Whereas H handled the questionable attribution issue of Raphael’s multitude of works by taking a neutral position, thus muting arguments of hard line art provenance. Indeed, the love of this artist by my friend shows in each description and the volume of information. I whole heartedly support this endeavor, as one with limited means but an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, access to information is crucial in developing interests above and beyond accepted cultural norms. Take a look, I guarantee you will find something that will appeal to your sense of beauty.
One artist can tantalize the imagination, but one is never enough when you start delving into the history of art and the impact it has on culture. This said, Hasan’s other ongoing project was 3 Pipe Problem, a blog discussing art and history, and one with many contributors and exciting discussions. Perusing the archive of articles brings to life the individual and his open support of critique with a variety of people. So many artists were shared on these pages, as well as the historical influences of the Borgias, DaVinci, interviews and books. I constantly wondered if my friend ever slept, while I was mired in the day to day tasks of a family, work and school. The ability to speak across so many cultures with various likeminded individuals was a gift H shared with each of us. Nonetheless, I discovered so many things reading his blog and marveled at his ability to find the best high resolution images to share with us.
Hasan was a supporter of Charlotte Frost’s hashtag #ARTHISTORY and her internet project. I would love to get one of these images to take on my upcoming trip to the Art Institute of Chicago to see Artemisia Gentileschi’s “Judith Beheading Holofernes”, and on a January trip to the Detroit Institute of Art to see my first Caravaggios in person. Subsequently, if any of my readers have information on obtaining this hashtag image, I would be most appreciative.
I have one treasure Hasan shared with me, a missive from Agapito to Cesare Borgia for the safe passage of Leonardo da Vinci. Agapito Geraldina (1450-1515) came from a family that traditionally were allies of the Colonna, a necessary alignment in order to be protected from the predatory Orisini clan. When the Colonna rebelled against Pope Alexander VI in 1494, Agapito quietly moved to Amelia. As tensions grew, the Orsini allowed the passage of King Charles VIII of France through their terriotry and use of their fortress at Bracciano during his march to Rome. The populace of Amelia rallied to the papal cause, and Agapito was rewarded for his support, becoming secretary to Cardinal Giovanni Borgia.
It was not long before his fortunes turned again, becoming secretary to Cesare Borgia in 1498, a post Agapito held for the remainder of Cesare’s life. One of his first assignments was to organize the retinue that accompanied his new master to France. Once there, Agapito negotiated with King Francis I for the financial support of the Borgia campaign of 1500 in Romagna. These were the high days of the Borgia conquests, and his secretary was an integral part of communication between generals, the financiers, and the Pope. While a footnote in time, Agapito lived during a compelling intersection of history. Witness to Leonardo da Vinci, Machiavelli, the Pope and assorted cardinals, surviving the campaigns of Cesare, manipulating the power struggles of the ruling families in Italy, he managed to retire after Cesare’s death to Amelia. A collection of his papers would be a gold mine of stories from the archive.
I add one final image to this post, a missive written by Cesare during Agapito’s tenure. The comparison of the writing style of the general and the writing of his secretary speaks volumes in the attention to detail. Nevertheless, commanding armies does not require the same eloquence necessary for a commander of negotiation and paper.
To all those who love art and history, Hasan Nayazi was a great inspiration, and may his legacy continue.