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The artistic world of mid-16th Century Italy comes to life through the eyes of a piebald slave stolen from her home and family in Africa.
Chiara, as she is eventually named, is sold to Paolo Pallavicino, an artist in service of Giuliano de Medici. When several unfortunate incidents occur, the artist’s wife believes her to be a curse and demands that she be sent away. From this starting point, Chiara works her way from painter to painter, observing the games the artists play on each other and the rivalries that fuel their artistic creations.
I am not beautiful, this much I know.You have to understand about my face. I am not fair. To find myself here with his eyes upon me, who am not beautiful. All my life an ugly creature as low as the spotted cow in the barn, the brindled bitch beneath the table. It is important not to look at his face while he is looking at me. Look at the cat outside the window. Forget that he is looking. If I do not forget, I shall die for shame.