Unfinished Lucretia (2016)

Paintings talk. What else should they do, hanging around all day!
You don't believe it? Go to a museum and listen.
Not every painting will speak to you. We all have to find out which ones are those who will talk to us. Just give them a chance.
Some paintings have a story to tell. Some have a word to say about their painter, or about their neighbours in the gallery.
-Marec Béla Steffens

I’m an outcast here at the museum. All the other paintings are finished. I am not.
My painter kept a few of us on stock at all times. As soon as a customer came, he would get one of us finished.
For me, none ever came.

What? I should feel ashamed for being unfinished? Never!
Take Michelangelo … take Leonardo da Vinci … they left unfinished works all over the place!
Admittedly, it was only Guido Reni who painted me. In his time, he was famous throughout Italy. Who knows him today? Same fate that I have. I, Lucretia. No-one knows me now.

In my time, I was a heroine. A symbol of virtue for generations to come!
Now, when people hear Lucretia, they think of that other one. Poison, bloody murder, orgies, Borgia!
That’s not me. I’m not renaissance. I’m not a mere shadow of former glory. I’m real. Of the classical age … of ancient Rome!

Such a nice landscape, Tuscany. But the kings we got from there were beastly tyrants.
I never poisoned anyone. Maybe I should have. It would have saved me a lot of trouble.
I killed myself. Not a good choice, in hindsight. I wouldn’t do it again.
But my sacrifice helped the Romans to get rid of their Tuscan kings. My fellow-romans started an uprising as soon as they heard of my suicide. I wish they had done that the day before!

My left hand? No, no battle scars. It was my painter who left me like this.
My own painter maimed my poor hand. That Guido Reni. I never looked like this in my flesh!
But I, in return for what he did to my hand, I cursed him. Today, he’s as good as forgotten! Known only by specialists. An obscure footnote to the history of arts.
That’s my revenge. My revenge for being unfi-

Text by Marec Béla Steffens