It was impossible not to be enchanted by his walk and the way he turned his head with a splendid cascade of long hair. Here is an unpublished portrait of Ketty di Sciara
It was impossible not to be enchanted by his light and sinuous walk, his way of attracting attention with that splendid cascade of long hair, his way of greeting his daughter Donatella and us, his little playmates.
Ketty from Sciara She had an innate charm and with her long legs clad in tight pants and tight jackets, from which billowy Indian shirts and high heels came out, she left us dazzled and blushed at our little friend, who often did not return the hidden greeting behind us.
Donatella Notarbartolo She would have wanted as a mother a refined, elegant and discreet lady, committed to respecting aristocratic traditions, while hers was an important mother, difficult to handle and complicated to love, in that time where all the attention is needed.
Ketty was one of the protagonists of the world suspended within the Villino Caruso Valenti (today Villa Virginia), in the splendid Liberty setting where we all lived as in a courtly life and where Baroness Pupa Valenti, owner of the villa, was the cultured and refined Castilian.
The outside world was there Palermo 70, humiliated, offended and stripped of their beauties. It is in this context that in those years, the Princess discovered his pictorial art. His life of living with passion went beyond class and social conventions, which he considered intolerant, hypocritical and which often tended to turn to envy and malice.
Its warm and enveloping beauty impressed everyone, including the Master Giorgio De Chirico Known in Rome in his workshop, he declared a feeling made of elective affinities and tenderness, where passion was sublimated by mutual love for painting. In a memorial, Ketty will remember the Master’s trips to Rome, his walks along the Ostia seafront, the lunches in small restaurants on the beach, where his looks were emotions and energies that made their hearts vibrate.
It was one platonic relationship between a great teacher and his student, surprising for those who had known the shady, grumpy and shy De Chirico. But Ketty’s aura, charm, intelligence were irresistible and well known to Guttuso, whom I saw in the princes’ house when I went to play with his daughter.
He was lying on some sofa while Ketty struck the canvas with dense colors, taken by the pictorial frenzy, using her fingers as if she wanted to cancel herself.
A charge of energy that made his great friend Guttuso say, about “his beautiful princess” (as he called her): “I have the impression of having galloped among your paintings, scattered everywhere, on the walls, on the furniture” . , in the chairs, in the many rooms of his beautiful house in Palermo. I was left with the fury with which you launched yourself into the adventure of painting ».
In fact, the house had been transformed into a workshop with no more rooms, no furniture, but with paints and colors everywhere. It was not unusual to sit somewhere and color your dress; even Donatella no longer had her room, so much so that it was difficult to find games.
But her unique being as a woman and as an artist, a nobleman sometimes transgressor, almost “freak”, was the origin of his friendships with intellectuals and artists, an integral part of that “shock” to a slow and sometimes stale Palermo committed to recapitulating only the past, refractory to social and cultural changes.
As a transversal woman she lived and breathed the noble air without ever losing her personality behind a shield. Ketty (Giovanna Maria Balletti) was the daughter of the upper bourgeoisie of Palermo, the elegant, had lived through the terrible bombing of 1943 at the age of ten.
In the general climate of terror and pain, unlike his companions, he left no room for fear; As soon as possible, he would whiz his red bicycle through the streets near the house in via Petrarca.
His daughter Donatella says: “She enjoyed making caricatures of her companions in the” Maria Adelaida “, the mathematical equations often floated in shades of blue and between one verse of a poem the noses and mouths of her friends danced. Between lines they danced Matissian dancers, as well as other female figures lying on the shores of lakes immersed in the countryside ».
They were the first signs of that art that would flourish years later. Realistic and frank (the painting was not the whim of a bored noblewoman), she will travel the world with her paintings and her paintings will be present in various collections, while her name will appear in the prestigious E. Bénézit dictionary. An indomitable character capable of living with dignity even illness (these days are the anniversary of death).
The Princess Notarbartolo She treated everyone without distinction of roles and classes and her irrepressible optimism made her adorable.
Even the Master De Chirico was kidnapped by her, to the point of entrusting the student with his secret technique to prepare the canvas and that made him say in one of their last meetings: «At this moment you and I are eternal. You are younger than me, me at sunset. You have a beautiful family, a husband you love. But I feel that between you and me there is a harmony that does not know time, our Mediterranean nature, I deceive myself that you are going to be able to give a little color to my world that is becoming increasingly gray … my last ray of sunshine ».