In addition to being one of the most popular characters in The Stargazer, Tullia d'Aragona was a real person. She was one of the preeminent courtesans in Renaissance Venice, as famed for her wit and as her beauty. The real-life Tullia was an author, publishing, among other things, a dialogue about the mysteries of love. Here, in her boudoir, she shares some of the less mysterious secrets that Renaissance women used to win their heart's desires.
In the days before Maybelline and CoverGirl, women had to concoct their own beauty potions. Those reproduced here are collected from actual books published in Venice around the time The Stargazer takes place. Reading between the lines of these formulae, one can glimpse the ideals of beauty to which Renaissance women aspired (white teeth, fresh breath, firm breasts, youthful skin, blonde hair), and marvel at how little has changed through the ages. (These recipes have not been tested and are not intended for modern use)