"The Bead-Gatherer Revealed"

Tenderetto (né Jacopo Robusto)

Also known as "Ginny Works the Floats," this sensitive portrait shows Tenderetto's secular side. While best known for his religious paintings, he sometimes executed portraits if a model caught his eye. 


The identity of "Ginny" is not known for certain. Tenderetto apparently met her in New Orleans during Mardi Gras and was struck by both her innocence and her brazenness. It is a custom in New Orleans for young women to divest themselves of their upper garment in order to attract the attention of those who ride through the city on carriages or "floats," who respond by tossing them inexpensive beads. The reason for this custom is not known, but is perhaps related to the fact that in the course of the Mardi Gras celebration, over 2 million pints of beer are consumed by both sexes alike. 


Jacopo commented on this state of affairs in his diary, relating that "... the very gutters of the streets ran yellow with the exuberance thereof, and it seemed that every other mannikin I saw was posed like the statues of putti on certain Roman fountains, and did appear to have the same endless capacity pouring forth."


This painting was very well received by the Venetian Academy, which led Tenderetto to include it in his "Girls Gone Wild" ("ragazze licenziosa") series on Page 3 of the popular Venetian tabloid "Il Sole." This led to a lawsuit by the anonymous "Ginny," who claimed that her reputation had been ruined, her morals sullied and her marriage prospects destroyed by the publication. The judge, however, in his famous "Topless Maiden" ("Vergine a Seno Scoperto") decision, determined that, by the final tally of her beads, she had exposed her hooters ("zinne") to more people than the entire population of Venice, so he threw the case out of court and suggested she become less of a mignotta (expletive deleted) if she wanted to talk about her honor and hoped to marry a nice boy from a good family.

 

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