One night in 1650 a doleful accident befell him. He was standing on the bank of the Tiber, drawing and observing some reflections of the rainbow in the water, when, whether because he was jostled, or because of the softness of the slippery bank, he tumbled into the river and drowned. (from John Gage, Color and Culture)
Testa was perhaps the first martyr to the rainbow. Over the next few Sundays, I’m going to take a closer look at rainbows: what they’ve signified through art history, what causes them, and other curious phenomena.