Down the Rabbit Hole

What does it mean to fall down the rabbit hole? The first use of the phrase falling “down the rabbit hole” comes to us thanks to Lewis Carroll who introduced the term in 1865 in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. In his story, Alice literally falls down the hole of the White Rabbit, taking her to Wonderland. In popular use, falling down a rabbit hole means chasing after a piece of information and finding more and more places to chase it until you realize that you have usually wandered far away and used up much more time than anticipated.

Personal example - a few days ago, I was searching for a particular women painter from the 1500s in Italy. My search brought up many paintings OF females in the 1500s, but not my painter. One of the paintings, however, included a lovely younger woman with an eyepatch that was unfamiliar. I looked up her painting, and she was Ana de Mendoza y de Silva Cifuentas, Princess of Eboli, Duchess of Pastrana, 2nd Princess of Mélito, 2nd Duchess of Francavilla and 3rd Countess of Aliano. She had an amazing life.

Born an only child in Spain in 1540, she was 2nd Princess of Mélito, 2nd Duchess of Francavilla and 3rd Countess of Aliano in her own right.  At 13, she was married off to King Phillip's friend  Rui Gomes da Silva, 1st Prince of Éboli. This seems terribly young, even for the time, but their marriage was in name only and was not consumated until she was 17. The husband and wife went on to have 10 children together. Rui Gomes passed away in 1573, when Ana was only 33. She spent some time in a nunnery, as she was quite religious and in mourning, but then she came back to public life as, basically, a politician. She was quite close to the King's secretary and advisors, and was arrested for the murder of another secretary 1579. The King decreed that Ana should be confined to her family castle, to a particular suite of rooms, where she later died in 1592.

But why did she wear an eye patch? Nobody really knows. It is theorized that she became blind in one eye during her childhood, but regardless, she was always considered a great beauty.

There is a character called Princess Eboli based on Ana in Schiller's play Don Carlos, Infant von Spanien, and Verdi's opera Don Carlos.[6] She is also the subject of Kate O'Brien's novel That Lady,[7] and the 1955 film adaptation of O'Brien's novel, That Lady, starring Olivia de Havilland as Ana. La Tuerta, a stage play charting the life of Ana de Mendoza was performed at Bedlam Theatre as part of The Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2008. Julia Ormond played her in La Conjura de El Escorial (2008) and Belén Rueda in the TV film La Princesa de Éboli (2010). In 2018, Arthur (TV series) episode "The Princess Problem" had Lydia introduce D.W. to her as an example of a handicapped princess, saying she was blinded in a childhood sword fight, but there is no evidence of this theory.

These paintings are unattributed, and I am still trying to find the artists. I am also still trying to find that one particular artist from the 1500s. Maybe she was in the 1600s instead? And off I go, no doubt to find another rabbit hole.

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