Cees de Bondt’s Blog

Cees de Bondt has created a new Blog on the Dutch Real Tennis site. There are 15 installments to date based on his research since 2005 on one of the most beautiful and intriguing paintings in the history of tennis.  Please click here to view the Blog. 
“As tennis historian (author of Royal Tennis in Renaissance Italy, Brepols 2006) I have always put question marks behind the interpretation by Caravaggio scholars as to what happened on 28 May 1606 when the painter killed his opponent Ranuccio Tomassoni.
During my research into the true identity of a caravaggesque painting, entitled ‘La Morte di Giacinto’ (see image below) I started archival research into the Via di Pallacorda court.
Below you will find my first thoughts, taken from one of the first episodes of my blog Caravaggio’s Ill-Fated Tennis Match. Inquiry into a Painting.
What I have established so far is that modern scholars have failed to put the fatal tennis match into proper perspective. They tend to interpret the sketchy contemporary descriptions of Caravaggio’s match as a game that was played out in the open, in a field or in the street – interpretations that were probably sparked by the name of the street, Via di Pallacorda -, rather than on a covered court. This misconception is significant because an acute insight into the practice of tennis in Caravaggio’s time, played within the secluded enclosure of an indoor tennis court, may be instrumental in providing clues as to the circumstances of the match. Some vital aspects of the tennis match need to be established. Who were the owners of the tennis court, and what was their relationship with Caravaggio? Was the pallacorda in some way connected to the Medici’s Palazzo Firenze, as suggested in the reports? To appreciate what may have happened on court, it is also essential to explore the game’s concomitants, betting and the frequent breaches of its code of conduct, all angles that so far are virtually unexplored in Caravaggio studies.
Caravaggio’s Ill-Fated Tennis Match
An Inquiry into a Painting
After some nine years of research into The Death of Hyacinth painting an increasing number of art scholars that I contact for their opinion tend to support my interpretation that the production of the picture was sparked by Caravaggio’s famous tennis match of 1606.
Follow me on this quest for the hidden identity of the painting. The story will be “served” out to you in sequels, unfolding itself as a whodunit, and following a trail that is full of twists and turns.” 
Click here for the first episode.