"M.A.D.G. Intervention, West Umbria"

Ralph

No one cared much for Ralph's work, dismissing him as pretentious because he used only one name and dressed entirely in white samite. As a matter of fact a later movement, the pre-Ralphites, was established to take painting back to the good old days before Ralph lay brush to canvas.


The painter focused on social commentary in his early works, attaching himself to the households of rich bleeding-heart liberals and taking up their causes. This painting is one done in support of Morticians Against Drunk Grieving, a group devoted to eliminating the drinking and subsequent scandalous behavior at wakes and funerals that prevailed in early 16th-century Italy. The story behind this "intervention" has been lost, but from other examples in Ralph's oeuvre we can assume that it was an attempt to prevent the peasants from dragging the body from the tomb to keep the party going, an Umbrian custom of long standing. If the liquor held out, some wakes went on until the deceased was no longer recognizable. In the painting we can clearly see the tug-of-war between the mourners on the left who wish to take the body to the crypt and the celebrants on the right who think the body's got a few days of good partying left in it.


Ralph later became disillusioned with what he called the hypocrisy of the upper classes and opened a "Sofa-size Landscapes" business in Perugia, which flourished until he lost the bid for the interior decorations at the Medici Chapel to Michelle d'Angelo in 1520.  Shortly thereafter he drank himself into a stupor, freezing to death during an unusual early April snowstorm. The terms of his will provided for 5 days of unabashed revelry at his funeral and an open bar for the entire town, an act that was considered to be an in-your-face to M.A.D.G. 

 

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