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XYZZY Awards 2006
Finalist - Best Setting
Author(s) JB
Publisher(s) n/a
Release date(s) Nov-2006
Authoring system Inform 6
Platform(s) Glulx
Language(s) French
License(s) Freeware
Color effects none
Graphics required
Sound/Music optional
Cruelty scale Polite

How It Begins

You play as Gilbert Fontenelle, a French Art History professor, "the one the students don't want to have", leaving France for the Vatican, where he has been requested to authenticate a painting for the Vatican Museum.


Original version

Trivia & Cultural References

  • The first name of the main player was chosen to begin with a 'G' just like 'Giuliano' the brother of Lorenzo da Medici, to create a subtle link in the dream sequence. Later, several main protagonists first name were also chosen to begin with a 'G' (Giuliana, Galina, Gorislav...)
  • Gilbert could have been hinted on the Firenze origin of Giuliana on his first meeting if he knew the distribution of the last names in Renaissance Italy: Ricasoli family originates from the region of Firenze.
  • The scene pictured on the Ponte Vecchio is really the Ponte Vecchio - but taken at 5am, then photoshoped to suggest an afternoon.
  • The two domes figuring on the cutscene image of the return to Paris are the famous Duomo Dome of Firenze and the Dome of the Panthéon in the 5th arrondissement of Paris.
  • Pictures taken in the Sorbonne & in the St Genevieve Library have been taken on the national patrimonial day, where every public building in France is open for free - otherwise, it would have been impossible to enter St Genevieve Library, because as in Ekphrasis, you need a card which is very difficult to obtain, even if you meet all the requirements.
  • The real Cassone given to Lorenzo da Medici and painted by Botticelli actually exists and can be seen in the National Gallery Museum in London. The real Ekphrasis picturing the Calomny of Apelle is supposed to be found in Firenze.
  • The pictures of the gardens of La Villa Nouée in the Montenegro sequence have been taken from the gardens of La Villa Euphrasie in the South of France, composed of 10 different gardens, and the villa itself is the Villa Noailles.
  • The card game "Petit Hanoï" doesn't exist, but however refers to the heavy Vietnamese underground presence in Warsaw. The whole card sequence was directly inspired from the "Rapid Nabokov" sequence in Vol.9 of 20th Century Boys.
  • The various mottos Gilbert uses when throwing rocks in the sewers are the slogans used during 1968's french riots in Paris.
  • The cars chase in Warsaw depict a real tour through the city from JPII's museum to the exit of the city leaning by the river.
  • As San Michele Island is closed by night, pictures have been taken by day then photoshoped to night.
  • In the dream sequence, the talking picture figuring the 5 masters of the Renaissance is situated in the Salon Carré of the Louvre. Dante & Virgile is just in the gallery nearby. We can guess that a drugged, semi-sleeping Gilbert took these pictures into his imagination to create his dream. Villa Lemmi fresco is in the next room, so the path of Gilbert can be easily tracked.
  • The Escher Labyrinth sequence in La Villa Nouée is inspired from the same sequence in the TV show The Avengers.
  • The Bombelli Glyphs under the Black Cross on San Michele Island are original creations made for Ekphrasis and inspired from classic roman lapidary inscriptions.
  • The text used on the cutscenes screens is set in Jenson, which is a contemporary revival of the type faces of Nicolas Jenson, a french humanist founder living in the Renaissance.
  • The text displayed when the Xyzzy input is typed is a parody of Indiana Jones "X never marks the spot" line.
  • In the dream sequence, Gilbert is carried by Charon on the Isle of the Dead. This famous painting by Böcklin still exists in 4 versions of the 5 initially produced. This painting had so much success that inland or other point of view versions have been created, one of them being Villa am Meer, the shore where Gilbert is finally thrown.
  • The living, cut-out St George Gilbert meets beneath the Villa am Meer is taken from St George and the Dragon from Ucello.
  • In his dream, Gilbert mixes Giuliana with Simonetta Vespucci, mistress of Giuliano da Medici, and model for Botticelli.
  • While in the Duomo Sequence, the assassin is pictured with the portrait of Savonarola. Though Savonarola has nothing to do with the murder of Lorenzo da Medici, the scene is set this way to initiate the fact that the Cassone had somehow a link with the emergence of humanism in Italy.
  • The same idea is developped through the song Gilbert hears when in the Duomo - the lyrics are Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus".
  • Professor Brock's Bronzino opus can be bought here.
  • Since in Ekphrasis G.Duby is supposed to be still alive, the action is supposed to be set before 1996. This sets the General Manager of the Louvre as Mr Pierre Rosenberg, who was very fond of the works of Poussin, which can explain why Henri was so alarmed about those paintings. It is not clearly said who is Henri, but it might be Henri Loyrette, the general Manager of the Louvre at the time of the release of Ekphrasis.
  • There are some hints referring to Filaments in Ekphrasis: Margot left a note on the wall in the Sorbonne about a rock concert, Charles Edouard Lousain has Jonas' same last name, and of course the feature of Athropos, Lachesis & Clothos.
  • The rather unorthodox habit of lighting rooms only when the visitor enter them in JP2's Museum in Warsaw is a real feature of this place.
  • Website of Tangente, L'aventure Mathématique, where you can order their special edition about Bombelli & the Renaissance.


General Info