Page 256. " might have been a nocturnal study by Géricault, or de la Tour "
The Raft of the Medusa
Public DomainThe Raft of the Medusa - Credit: Théodore Géricault

Théodore Géricault (1791-1824) was an influential French painter and lithographer of the Romantic Period.  His best known work, The Raft of the Medusa, is a picture of 'pathos and protest'.  He was, according to Encylopedia Britannica, 'a dandy and an avid horseman whose dramatic paintings reflect his flamboyant and passionate personality'.

Julian Barnes devotes a chapter to The Raft of the Medusa in his book, A History of the World in 10½ Chapters.


Saint Joseph Charpentier
Public DomainSaint Joseph Charpentier - Credit: Georges de la Tour



Georges de la Tour was an earlier French artist (1593–1652) who painted many religious scenes lit by candlelight.  Like Vermeer, he explored and painted the 'realistic rendering of light'.





Page 258. " sprawled there on that Doge's daybed "
The Doge's Palace, Venice
GNU Free Documentation LicenseThe Doge's Palace, Venice - Credit: Tango7174

The Doge was the ruler of the powerful maritime city-state of Venice.  The word comes from Dux (Latin for leader), as did Mussolini's preferred title, Duce.

The Doge was elected by a byzantine sequence of committees, and was considered the shrewdest elder in the city.  This system of leadership, designed to keep power away from the richest families, held for over a thousand years.

Le Départ du Bucentaure
Public DomainLe Départ du Bucentaure - Credit: Francesco Guardi





The idea of a daybed probably refers to the magnificently luxurious state barge, the bucentaur, on which the Doge travelled in great style, possibly with a daybed to recline on.  Four bucentaurs were built, each more splendid than the last, between 1311 and 1729.  The last was a floating palace of gold leaf and red velvet, 35 metres long, with places for 168 oarsmen.  When Napoleon took Venice in 1798, he ordered the vessel destroyed.