Art is a marathon, not a sprint.
What They Say:
Episode #6: “Trade Guild”
Apprentices from other workshops take issue with the fact that Arte is a girl, so she has to prove herself through her work.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This episode begins in an unusual way, during a funeral for a fallen master. The artist guilds band together to settle his estate and divvy up his apprentices. This leads to a conversation about dwindling work among the masters. Questions are raised about Arte taking up a spot that might be better put to use by a male apprentice.
Leo returns to his atelier to tell Arte that she is to learn how to work fresco in a week before they all head off to work on a large, all-hands-on-deck, art project. Thus we get a simplified crash course on fresco painting.
The paintings in the Sistine Chapel are frescos. The process for painting fresco is complex, requiring speed to put down wet lime plaster and painting only a section that can be completed before the plaster dries. Why paint this way? The artist didn’t have to use any binding agent for the pigment, for one. The artwork would become one with the wall as the pigment chemically reacted with the lime. It was perfect for large wall works. Of course, there are downsides to painting with that technique. Correcting mistakes wasn’t as simple as painting over them, although that could be done. Usually fixing something meant chipping away the plaster and starting over.
So Arte learns how to mix the plaster, how to spread it in a smooth coat, but ever after a week she only has the skills of someone who had been at that for a week. Luckily Leo is the one doing the actual painting. Arte is mostly running buckets of paint, water, and plaster up and down scaffolding at the command of the master in charge of the project. In a cool moment, we see the room in a half-finished state where the piecemeal nature of large-scale fresco work is on full display.
Once again, Arte is reduced to physical labor where she is at a distinct disadvantage over her burly peers. Arte takes the full brunt of punishment in this episode. Exhausted to the point of vomiting, getting smacked in the face and concussed by a Calcio ball, falling asleep while standing up… twice. Yet she rallies every time and gets back to work. Angelo is watching her go through all of this with his usual concern and shock. His delicate Arte is not as delicate as her gender and background would imply.
That ridiculous moment in this episode where a fight breaks out over Arte being present? The macho posturing and the fistfight that follows? That’s Calcio. Calcio is what happens when rugby isn’t violent enough. The priests running out and throwing hands? YUP, popes were even known to partake in the ancient sport. That being said, men at that time would never think of letting a woman play Calcio. That ending is total wish fulfillment.
Arte takes another step forward as an artist as Leo is recruited as part of a large fresco work. I’m not really thrilled with how much of Arte’s effort was, once again, lifting heavy objects and doing a bunch of physical labor. Not to mention the idiot behavior of the rival apprentices. I do like how the shift of the art patronage from Florence to Rome affects the art guilds and thus effecting Arte’s acceptance into the community. The politics and socioeconomic ramifications of such a change would likely make her apprenticeship appear to be a luxury. We once again see why Leo was more accepting of Arte than the others were. I still wish there was a larger emphasis on the art, but this episode was fun despite the usual trials put forth against Arte.
Episode Grade: B
Streamed by: Funimation