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Cannibal Count Ugolino by scifo Cannibal Count Ugolino by scifo
Count Ugolino della Ghererdesca was accused of one of the more heinous crimes in Italian history. The alleged crime took place in the Pisa of 1289, but we all know that Italians and art and literary historians take a longer view.

The known facts are as follows. The Count was a leader of Pisa's Guelph (pro-Papal) faction in the seemingly interminable internecine battles that consumed all the northern Italian cities in those days. Ugolino had earlier conspired with the local Archbishop, Ruggieri degli Ubaldini, to come to power in the predominantly Ghibelline (pro-Holy Roman Emperor) city. But, as might have been expected in times of constantly shifting alliances, and with a change of Popes, Ruggieri had switched sides leaving Ugolino undefended. The Guelphs were routed, and Ugolino, along with two sons and two grandsons (nephews, in some versions of the story), were imprisoned in Gualandi Tower, one of the medieval towers overlooking Piazza dei Cavalieri, which is still the central Piazza of Pisa. On orders from the Archbishop, they were all starved to death, and, since then, the tower has been called Torre della Fame, the Tower of Hunger.

Exactly what happened in the tower has never really been known, but it wasn't long before rumors surfaced that, to save his own life, Count Ugolino had devoured the younger men as they died one by one. Dante, in Canto 33 of his Inferno meets the Count in the lowest level of hell and discusses the case. According to Dante, Ugolino explains his presence in this deepest pit: he admitted that he had eaten his kin, having allowed his own desire to survive to overcome any gustatory scruples. Dante finds Ugolino gnawing on a skull, and Ugolino says that it is the skull of Ruggieri, the erstwhile friend who had betrayed and imprisoned him. Based on his own literary admission, Count Ugolino has come down through history as the Cannibal Count.
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The style and lighting almost bring to one's mind the painting of Goya's piece "Saturn Devouring His Son", as does the subject matter. The body proportions seem accurate and well-defined, with good attention to muscle-tone. I'd have to say that the only parts that could really use work is the shading on the left child-like figure (the blending isn't as pronounce here as the other figure's shading). Also, the background seems rather flat on the right side, so perhaps a bit of highlights and shading on it might give it the illusion of depth, but not enough to take away attention from the main scene. The whole scene however is indeed dramatic and grotesque- the angle at which it is portrayed is fabulous in the 'less is more' rule. Showing the actual devouring of the other human beings might have been too cliche and could have been over-doing it, but showing this from the back angle truly strikes the observer- it's almost like we've just walked into the tower and stumbled across the macabre scene. An excellent piece with the most powerful point being in it's back-view angle.
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dofaust Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2018
Another very powerful work!
It would almost be better without the
explication, leaving the viewer to
do their own research, etc... no matter...
- a very-likely enduring work!
scifo Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2018   Traditional Artist
Yes, ma é you'rwelcome right. Thanks for your suggestion
dofaust Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2017
Art is often indistinguishable from politics and intellectual history.
In most ways, the oh-so-kind enterprise and the 13th century
Italian Zeitgeist are irrevocably melded and intertwined.
In the aftermath of this gruesome story, I am sure that officers in the oh-so-kind
enterprise instructed their soldiers to spin the story
so that the Jews would get the blame, since they were well-known
already to be attracted to Christian blood for their ceremonies.
I do not  think that I am exaggerating much... that said,
this work by one of DA's most accomplished artists
obviously transcends all the centuries of sordid (and worse)
behavior by the oh-so-kind enterprise; despite the trappings of 
13th cent Italy...this is a more timeless scene...
ClairObscur16 Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2015
Che straordinaria pittura! Vecchia? Mi fa pensare à Zurbaran e Goya. Che illustrazione per l'Inferno di Dante! Il contrasto fra la pelle del'huomo e quella dei fancuilli è sorprendente.
TheHuntingAccident Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2015  Professional Artist
scifo Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2015   Traditional Artist
thank you for comment
ChadComics Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
natenutron Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the history lesson. I enjoyed it. For the art, it looks good. I would have liked to scene a face of starvation.
scifo Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2012   Traditional Artist
:) thanks......
Francundo Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2011
esto esta genial
tastybedsore Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2011  Professional General Artist
such and a dark and twisted story. and the art is cool too!
scifo Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2011   Traditional Artist
metztligen Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2011  Professional General Artist
i like your dark stories :)
and those freaky illustrations with it completes it
thnx :)
scifo Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2011   Traditional Artist
:) I'm glad you enjoy my art
jflaxman Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2011
Great work. I read Inferno way back in the summer of 2001, while working night shift at a gas station with no air conditioning. I allowed myself one canto per night. It's a work that really grows on you, and remains one of my favourites to this day. Do you think you'll illustrate more from it?
scifo Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2011   Traditional Artist
ciao thanks. I've made different pieces form Dante's Divina Commedia in particular Inferno. This is a recent work about Phlegias (Caronte)

Curious-Spider Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Utterly gorgeous. I thought I recognized that name; I knew him from Dante.
wingsofdragons Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
what a story.......lovely painting........lovely light ......flowing .
cecemckenzie Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2011
RoadstoDeath Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2011  Professional General Artist
ty for sharing this w us at #dA-Morgue and i loved reading your notes on this! As odd as it sounds i find this kind of history fascinating ;)
scifo Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2011   Traditional Artist
I'm glad you appreciate it :)
Szabrina Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
scifo Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2011   Traditional Artist
thanks Szabrina!!! :)
jennymajeske Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2011   Traditional Artist
fascinating story, thanks. i wouldn't have picked up on the more sinister connatations of the pice without it.
scifo Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2011   Traditional Artist
thank you jennymajeske
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Submitted on
September 3, 2011
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