The Commedia dell’Arte (comedy of professional artists) was a popular form of improvisational theater that began in the 14th century and remained popular throughout the 18th century, particularly in Italy. The performances were based on a repertoire of established characters and story lines that highlighted a range of human weaknesses such as adultery, jealousy, love intrigues, tricking or outwitting a simpleton, or old age; these were often amended by traveling troupes to satirize local scandals and politics. In addition to being raucous entertainment, Commedia dell’Arte performances underscored the threat of vice – avarice, gluttony, promiscuity, vanity, etc. – and the honor of virtue. Magnasco has taken these figures off the stage and invented lives for them based on their personas as if they were real people.