When Agnes, as a lonely and alienated child, discovers di Cosimo’s empathetic paintings of animals and human-animal hybrids, she feels she is looked upon gently for the first time in her life. That moment influences her decision to become an animal rights activist, a commitment that ultimately brings her both anguish and insight. Her story is echoed by chapters from di Cosimo’s perspective as he pits his solitary vision, of a golden age when animals did indeed speak, against the dictatorial grip in which Savonarola, destroyer of secular art and culture, holds the city of Florence.
As the agenda of the Ethical Ark becomes more and more fanatical, Pinto and Agnes find themselves caught in an emotional maelstrom that leads to the death of two of their members and Agnes’ subsequent descent into an alcoholic despair. For both Agnes and Pinto, the determination to act strongly on behalf of animals deforms, as much transforms, their existence.
The narrative follows Agnes and her friends as they face the opponents of their work and the ensuing harsh realities, and chronicles their efforts to find support for their cause. Through protests against animal cruelty and a continual probe for illusive justice, Agnes believes she is guided by the ancestral voice of her beloved painter Piero di Cosimo.
Piero’s passion for demanding the humane treatment of animals is revealed through his renaissance paintings and becomes the historical foundation and inspiration for these modern day activists. Through him comes the reminder that there have always been those who care, that we are not alone in our yearning for a more peaceful world, and that art heals. As Agnes and Pinto venture further into the harshness of the world, their ability to recognize the sacred and beautiful in the eyes of one another and their fellow beasts continuously deepens. Their struggle is mirrored in the chapters from di Cosimo’s perspective as he pits his solitary vision, of a golden age when animals did indeed speak, against the dictatorial grip in which Savonarola, the destroyer of secular art and culture, holds his city.
Hunting Piero is a tale of passion and morality but it is also a story of redemption, of love, and, most earnestly, of virtue.