SILVIO BERLUSCONI'S light-hearted dalliance with a television starlet whom he subsequently appointed to his cabinet has been made the subject of an oil painting in which both are shown in the nude.
Two years ago the Italian prime minister told the starlet, Mara Carfagna -- and millions watching on TV -- that he would marry her like a shot if he wasn't married already. His wife, Veronica Lario, demanded, and obtained, a public apology but last year Mr Berlusconi made Ms Carfagna minister of equal opportunities in his new government.
Now the virtual couple find themselves together on a gallery wall near Savona in Liguria. Mr Berlusconi is depicted with a pair of giant wings extending protectively around his naked minister.
Both wear sober, almost prudish, expressions. Mr Berlusconi might be about to whisper sweet political nothings in his protegee's ear; Ms Carfagna on the other hand, has her eyes directed towards the premier's (discreetly covered) genitals.
But Ms Lario arguably has the last laugh, starring stark naked in a canvas of her own, angelic wings spread wide, with a pair of enormous, very soft-looking breasts and a ghostly smile on her chalk white face.
The artist, Filippo Panseca, said he wanted to "pay homage to the prime minister" through the pictures.
He added that if Mr Berlusconi bought the paintings he would donate the money to the earthquake victims of Abruzzo.
Mr Berlusconi has yet to comment. (© Independent News Service)