period: Vanozza dei Cattanei

Vanozza dei Cattanei

Jeanne de Candia dei Cattanei called Vannozza (1442–1518) is remembered for being the lover of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, later Pope Alexander VI, and the mother of Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia.

Contemporary commentators spoke of her as a woman of great beauty; in Titian’s portrait she wears a turban to hide her beautiful raven hair. Even as the mistress of a Borgia she was required to retain outward respectability by marrying – four times – and she was kept at a distance from her children who became increasingly estranged from her.

In her final years Vannozza led a life of penance and atonement joining a religious community to whom she left all her possessions. She died on 26 November 1518 at the age of 76 years, preceeded by three of her four children – Lucrezia died only a few months later.

The movies

The Borgias (2011): This mini-series aptly tags itself as the story of ‘the original crime family’. Joanne Whalley plays Vanozza Cattaneo with Holliday Grainger as Lucrezia Borgia, Lotte Verbeek as Giulia Farnese and Gina McKee as Caterina Sforza. Balázs Novák was the makeup artist & prosthetic supervisor for the first season.

Borgia (2011): This mini-series ‘chronicles the rise to power of this Catalan Cardinal and his clan, who would seek to establish a dynasty that would hold sway over the entire world. … Borgia is a cauldron of intrigue, violence, murder, lust, politics, faith, incest, betrayal and redemption …’ Assumpta Serna plays Vannozza Catanei with Isolda Dychauk as Lucrezia Borgia and Marta Gastini as Giulia Farnese. Ivana Nemec was the makeup artist; Rene Stejskal was the prosthetics designer / special makeup effects artist.

The Conclave (2006): In Rome in 1458, five years after the fall of Constantinople to Islam, Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia is fighting to secure both his life and his future by becoming Pope. But while Rodrigo is locked behind closed doors in the Vatican palace his lifelong rival is competing for the love of Rodrigo’s concubine Vannozza de Catanei (Nora Tschirner). Elizabeth Kuchurean was the key makeup artist.

Los Borgia (2006): This mini-series portraited the Borgia dynasty that spawned a pope, Alexander VI, two of whose children achieved lasting notority: Cesare Borgia as the role model for Machiavelli’s The Prince; Lucrezia Borgia as the epitome of femine duplicity. For thirty years Rodrigo Borgia worked his way up the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church before becoming Pope. He then starts a reign of terror to establish a new age of Borgia power. Ángela Molina had a minor role as Vanozza, the mother of his children, with María Valverde as Lucrecia Borgia, Paz Vega as Caterina Sforza and Katy Louise Saunders as Giulia Farnese. Walter Cossu was the key makeup artist.