Ripped from her family in Africa and taken to Renaissance Italy, Chiara becomes the servant of an artist working for the Medici. But when she is cast out she moves from artist to artist, and in the process discovers the tricks they play on each other to gain advantage.
From the book
Sofonisba's painting for the Arcivescovo's contest will display all she knows about perspective and anatomy. It is a Christ figure, Christ in his tomb, and it will represent the greatest mystery of all, life in death. It is, of course, the pauper on his altar in Paolo's byre. For days she has struggled to reconcile what she knows about the dissolution of the flesh with what she believes about the resurrection. She thinks she has found the answer in the face which is both dead and undead, asleep but waiting. It is flesh that has surrendered. But all of this, she knows, is secondary to the main purpose of the painting which is to display, through the acutely and accurately foreshortened figure, her consummate skill with the art of perspective.
From Beyond Measure by Pauline Holdstock ©2004. Published by Cormorant Books.