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Reining in Sir Robert

Sure, serving as the official Twitterer of Tweets in promotion of Kings, Queens, and Courtiers: Art In Early Renaissance France has its perks and benefits. For one, @CourtierRobert has a much easier time swooning the maidens than I ever have. However, it would be misleading to say it’s easy translating our 16th-century French courtier into the Queen’s English, and in 140 characters or less. Suffice to say, it can be rather difficult to find any way to shorten words like “thitherfro” and “flibbertigibbet.” However, the greatest challenge has been keeping this knavish character in line. Our French courtier has a taken life of his own.

In the first couple of weeks, sir Robert, the once and future courtier, kept mainly to his courtly duties, harkening his followers to the goings-on of the museum and, especially, Kings, Queens, and Courtiers. However, it wasn’t long before I found the tail wagging the dog. Not unlike Slaughterhouse-Five’s Billy Pilgrim or say, Encino Man, Robert the Courtier was uprooted from his own time and placed in a completely new environment. One had to wonder what sir Robert would take fancy to most readily in today’s world. Would he spend his off-hours at Medieval Times? Would he avail himself of our modern conveniences? While he seems to have never heard of Leonardo da Vinci or Vincent van Gogh, he does seem to have familiarized himself with Lady Gaga, but not so much our Lady Queen of England. Perhaps most surprisingly, he has expressed no greater fondness than for the victuals of our day, namely Italian beefs and jalapeño poppers.

By the end of his first month, sir Robert the Courtier’s oversized personality had not only taken over the Twitter feed, but he’d invaded my life as well, infecting my speech with all kinds of ungainly high prose. Lacking his kingly charisma, I have not found it to endear me to others in quite the same way. Just the same, I must say he has done quite well with his bully pulpit of social media. As we sally forward to the end of the exhibition this May 30, I am beginning to wonder if we’ll get rid of sir Robert that easily. I think he’s rather taken to his newfound celebrity. Perhaps he’ll stay on here in Chicago, if only for the cheap fast food and celebrity trash mags.