2015 Oil on Italian Linen 50x60cm
2015 Eutick Memorial Still Life Award, Finalist
You would think that being a fraudster, forger and occultist during the height of the Inquisition would be enough to earn the ire of the Pope.
One of the great grifters, Giuseppe Balsamo wove tales of buried treasure, sold fake “Egyptian” amulets, forged documents, pimped his wife, and despite not having qualifications, successfully passed himself off as a physician - to none other than Benjamin Franklin during his Paris sojourn. But none of these were the reason Balsamo (now self styled as Count Alessandro di Cagliostro) was arrested and imprisoned in the infamous Castel Sant’Angelo.
Balsamo’s great crime was being a Freemason. In the 18th century Freemasonry offered an alternative network to that of the church. And like any business owner, the Pope wanted to control customer churn.
Balsamo died in prison, demonstrating the hefty price that accompanies some club memberships.