In the Arthurian tale of Tristan & Iseult, the little dog is inseparable from the lovers after it laps up the remains of a love potion….
The Italian nobles of the late medieval period adored the tales of King Arthur. Their version of SCA fun was to host lavish tournaments that included sometimes lethal jousting contests. Everyone, including the horses, wore sumptuous costume. After the games, they ate feasts with dishes served up of just about any creature that could crawl, flap, swim or slither, from herons to swans to boars to eels. Even the food was gilded and silvered.
An illustration from an Arthurian manuscript reflects this fancy, with Arthurian characters dressed and coiffed, anachronistically, in the style of mid-fifteenth-century Northern Italy.
The little dog under the table is one of many engaging details. The dog’s master, Tristan (far left) can be identified by the heraldic lion on his clothing. In the story, the dog laps up the remains of the love potion mistakenly drunk by Tristan and Iseult; the dog is then inseparable from the lovers.
The dog often figures in art of the period as a symbol of fidelity. In another image attributed to Bonifacio Bembo, a man and woman hold hands, the angel of love above them, and their best buddy at their feet. The image is not labeled, but as part of a tarot (tarocchi) deck, it can be titled “The Lovers.”
Inspired by a true story, The Bones You Have Cast Down, by Jean Huets, will transport you to a medieval village and a lush Renaissance court, to long ago times not unlike our own, when the keepers of faith conspired against the faithful, and the rich and powerful embraced war and corruption even while fostering works of artistic brilliance revered to this day. “Enchanting and richly historical, as well as dazzling and dark, heart-wrenching and intoxicating.” — Stuart R. Kaplan || Amazon/Kindle | INDIEBOUND | iTunes | B&N |