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John Palcewski's Journal

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Maestro! I am trying to locate a painting of Vittoria Colonna by Jules-Joseph Lefebvre, which presumably is still here on the island at Castello Aragonese.

I read about it in “Enchanted Island,” by Walter Lowrie, an American academic/cleric who lived for a short time in the late 40s in a villa near the top of Punta Caruso. He writes that he got possession of the painting, and arranged for it to be presented as a gift to one “Sacerdote Onofrio Buonocore.” The picture above by Lefebvre of Colonna is the only one I could find on Google. If it’s here on the island, I’d love to go see and photograph it.

Below is a letter to Lowrie that he put in his book. It confirmed that the painting had arrived on Ischia:

Ischia, June 24, 1948.

Distintissimo Signore e Squistissima Signora,

So yesterday, as we had planned, a solemn session in honor of the Lowries was held in the aula Magna of the Antoniana….Monsignore the Bishop could not himself be there….However, he had come to the Antoniana a few days earlier to admire the picture which has filled the island with wonder. Everybody who has come here after that miracle of art was placed in its permanent position has been overwhelmed with admiration—all of them. I believe that as the news of this masterpiece is gradually spread throughout Italy it will not attract the islanders only….

The picture has been hung in the great hall, above the bookcase at the further end, facing every one who enters the roo. It shines there as a solemn monument. It fills all the hall. On the frame of the bookcase which supports the picture is the inscription: THE SPOUSES WALTER AND BARBARA LOWRIE…

My dearest greeting and many of them. I pray the Lord to bestow upon you every good thing and to deliver you from all evil.

Sacerdote Onofrio Buonocore

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Hi, my friend, give me three or four days and I'll tell you where is the painting. I've into my old library, by my Mom's home, some books by Onofrio Buonocore but I don't remember if one of them was illustrated with that painting or not, I'll go to see. I'll go in the next days to the Bishop, in Ischia and I'll ask for you about this painting to an old priest, friend of Onofrio Buonocore, and I'm sure he'll tell me what's happened, where is now the painting.

Maestro, mille grazie! I look forward to whatever you can find.

That is a beautiful painting. It really resonates with me. Thank you for posting the picture.

The ghost of Vittoria is slowly becoming visible. I'm following her ectoplasm from the "Antoniana library" to a still not determinate house. But the countenance of her face are becoming more distinguishable. Arm yourself with patience...

Maestro, what a delight to see that you are still on the ectoplasmic trail. I am abundantly armed, grazie!

I'm going to have a phone date with the Mayor of Ischia. Yesterday the Bishop said that this painting was transferred from the Antoniana library to the Mayor's room (when the library was under restore) in Ischia. Today I had not the possibility to find the Mayor; he is a friend of mine, tomorrow I'll call him to organize a date with me and you, so you'll be able to photograph the painting.
In the meantime another gift for you:Saint-Saens Rondò Capriccioso - Peppino Iacono Piano - Mauro Rossi Violin - Cristmas 2005 - Santa Maria di Loreto.

Another precious gift of music and friendship! I am humbled and grateful, thank you. A wonderful way to begin the day...

And I am happy with the news that very soon we may be looking into our Vittoria's lovely eyes!

There is a marvelous stately, measured and dignified quality to your playing...as if you are quietly savoring each note, each chord. Again, thank you!

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