Episode 9

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 9 of
Arte ?

If there's one nice change about the Venice arc of Arte, it's that we get to see Arte interact with more female characters, which gives the show a chance to make up a little bit for cutting the Darcia storyline in terms of showing that, although she lives in a male-dominated world, Arte herself can have conversations that don't revolve around them. We see this in her growing friendship with Daphne, one of the maids at the Falier home, and in her interactions with Katarina and Signora Falier, and interestingly we also learn that in some ways Katarina's life is even more proscribed than Arte's was, because Katarina's father is much more in line with the other men of his era.

Since we barely saw Arte's dad, it's been easy to forget that one of the primary reasons she was able to refine her art to the point where she could apply to workshops for an apprenticeship was that he indulged her love of it. Katarina, on the other hand, has a father who had zero interest in her based on her gender – her mother recounts how both of Katarina's brothers were only fostered out for two years, but she spent almost seven at the family's country villa before being returned. While we don't know if this was Katarina's choice or her father's, the implication is that even if he didn't mandate her lengthier stay in the country, he certainly wasn't eager for her return to Venice. This disinterest, even if never outwardly expressed to Katarina herself, was easy for her to pick up on, and is largely behind her terrible behavior: she pretends not to know proper etiquette in part so that her parents will be forced to acknowledge her, even if it's only in a negative way.

Of course, Katarina doesn't frame it that way – according to her, she fakes her lack of social graces in order to catch up on the sleep she loses each night when she stays awake studying cookbooks. Somewhere along the way, Katarina discovered a love of cookery, but as a noblewoman – and one much more highly ranked than Arte – she isn't supposed to do such menial tasks. While to a certain degree she was expected to know how to cook (at least in an intellectual rather than a practical way) so as to be able to properly supervise her servants after marriage, a woman of her status would in no way be encouraged to actually cook, and if it was known it would be even more of a scandal than Arte's painting. This, then, is why Yuri brought Arte all the way from Florence to be Katarina's tutor: knowing about his niece's passion for something not done, he wanted Arte to show her that just because it's not socially acceptable doesn't mean that a dream has to be given up. Essentially Arte is in Venice to give Katarina hope; the portrait she's painting of the Signora is almost an excuse.

It's a good thing that we got this backstory so soon after Arte arrived in Venice, because it really tempers Katarina's character in terms of how we view her. She's still absolutely a brat who shouldn't be allowed to pull the garbage she does (and probably shouldn't be dining with her parents anyway, but neither should all the tutors), but at least we can see where she's coming from. Arte was never really in that same position, in no small part because her father didn't resent or reject her for being born female and instead fostered her love of art. Katarina is stuck knowing that her father not only wouldn't approve of her hobby, but also (outwardly) loves her older brothers more, which is a recipe for one very unhappy child. It doesn't excuse her behaviors, but it does explain them, and I suspect that next week when she regales Arte with her backstory we'll find that what she's really hoping for is to be sent back to the villa in the country, where she feels she was more loved and appreciated, and, presumably, she learned to cook.


Arte is currently streaming on Funimation.

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