And Her Magic Potions
This portrait of Caterina Sforza is by artist, Lorenzo di Credi.
This painting is also known as:
La Dama dei Gelsomini.
(The Lady of the Jasmine). She is holding jasmine flowers.
Caterina Sforza was born in 1463. She was the daughter of the Duke of Milan - il Duca di Milano, Galeazzo Maria Sforza. Her mother was called Lucrezia Landriani. Below, you can see portraits of her parents, both painted by Piero del Pollaiolo.
When Galeazzo became Duke of Milan in 1466, his children (including Caterina) went to live at the royal court.
Caterina was married three times and had many children. She was known as la Signora di Forlì e Imola (the Lady of Forlì and Imola) but she also earned the nickname: la Tigre di Forlì (the Tigress of Forlì). She was famous for her fierce personality - like a female warrior - in her determination to defend her family's property and titles during times of rioting and unrest.
However, she is also very famous for her work as an alchemist. Rather like a witch, she created magic recipes using herbs and plants. She experimented with secret potions to cure illnesses and to use as beauty products and health supplements. She even created an anaesthetic!
Caterina wrote down her special potions and they were later placed in a collection of 454 recipes called Gli Experimenti.
Below you can read some of her health and beauty recipes. PLEASE NOTE: they are written and described in a style from over 500 years ago!
1. L'Acqua Celeste - Heavenly Water
Purpose: To make people younger.
La Descrizione: I vecchi fa diventare giovani e se fosse in età di 85 anni lo farà diventare di apparenza di 35 anni, e di morto fa vivo. Meaning: it makes old people young and even an 85 year-old would look 35 and a person who has died would be revived.
La Preparazione: Piglia garofani, noce moscata, zenzero, pepe lungo, pepe rotondo, grani di ginepro, scorza di cetrangoli, foglie di salvia, di basilico, di rosmarino, di maggiorana fine e di menta, fior di sambuco, rose bianche et rosse. Che ogni cosa sia ben polverizzata, metti in acquavite. Metti in una bottiglia ben chiusa e lasciala due giorni poi metti nel fornello con alambicco e distilla cinque volte, con fuoco lento, uscirà un’acqua rarissima e preziosa.
Take carnations, nutmeg, ginger, chili pepper, round pepper, ground juniper, peel of bitter orange, leaves of sage, basil, rosemary, fine marjoram, and mint, elderflower, white and red roses. Grind all the ingredients and place in grappa / brandy. Place in a tightly-closed bottle and leave for two days then place over the heat and distil five times with an alembic still, using a gentle heat, you will have a rare and precious water.
Picture below of an ancient alembic still used for distillation.
2. A far venire capelli di colore castagnaccio se prima fossero bianchi.
Purpose: How to make hair chestnut brown if it has turned grey.
La Preparazione: Piglia mela cruda e fanne acqua con alambicco di vetro a fuoco lento e bagna 4 o 5 volte la settimana e veniranno eccellenti.
Take raw apple and turn it into liquid by using a glass distiller on a low heat and shampoo 4 or 5 times per week and your hair will be excellent.