I saw these bright and fun cookies on Deb’s blog last week, and I haven’t been able to get them out of my head since. These buttery soft vanilla-almond cookies melt in your mouth and the sprinkles add plenty of fun, making them perfect for birthdays, holidays or Tuesdays! I especially love the fact that the sprinkles are pressed into the outer layer of the cookie, leaving the inside delicate and soft, and avoiding a crunchy mouthful of sprinkles, because who wants that? I’ll take one of these any day, and the added trail of sprinkles I keep finding all over my apartment is just a bonus!
These cookies are inspired by the Italian Baroque painter Domenico Fetti, active in the 1620-30s. Domenico was likely trained initially by his father, little-known painter Pietro Fetti, before establishing a relationship with his most important patron, Duke Fernando Gonzaga, who became Duke of Manuta in 1613. This patronage led to Fetti’s appointment of court painter, where he had the opportunity to study works by famous Venetian artists Titian and Tintoretto, who were active in the 16th century. Fetti developed a loose, soft style with rich colors and liquid brushwork, and soon left Mantua for Venice. By the beginning of the 17th century, after the death of Titian and Tintoretto, Venetian art had declined somewhat and Fetti sought to revive it. Here he found new patrons and was able to paint both large frescoes and small scale works, which became his calling card. His most characteristic works became small religious pictures painted with loose brushstrokes and shimmering light effects, which were very popular, as explained by the numerous copies completed by his workshop.
Fetti painted many Christian parables, like The Blind Leading the Blind, and The Good Samaritan, both shown here. These works were completed by 1622, and the light, rich color palette and vitality show the artistic influence of Peter Paul Rubens, who was working in Rome at the same time. Blind Leading the Blind shows three peasants, the leader of which has an extinguished lamp, and is leading the others into a ditch, illustrating Christ’s warning to his disciples. The Good Samaritan is completed in a similar style, and illustrates a traveler who has been robbed and left for dead. Two men pass and ignore him, followed by a Good Samaritan who stops to help. Both works are small with dark, expressive skies, which accentuate the poignancy of the parables.
Given that most of Fetti’s subject matter was religious and serious in tone, it is safe to say that he probably never had the nickname “Fun Fetti.” That being said, it shouldn’t stop you from baking these seriously delicious and easy cookies, which make everything a little more fun! Happy Tuesday!
Recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Featured art: Domenico Fetti, The Blind Leading the Blind, 1621-1622, oil on panel
Domenico Fetti, The Good Samaritan, circa 1622, oil on panel