History of Literature







Giorgio Vasari



"Lives of the Most Eminent Painters,

Sculptors, and Architects"




PART I   PART II   PART III   PART IV





"Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects"
 

PART III

 

         
  Leonardo da Vinci Giorgione da Castelfranco Antonio da Correggio Piero di Cosimo
         
  Bramante Fra Bartolommeo Mariotto Albertinelli Raffaellino del Garbo
         
  Pietro Torrigiano Giuliano and Antonio
da San Gallo
Raphael of Urbino Guglielmo da Marcillat
         
  Il Cronaca Domenico Puligo Andrea da Fiesole and
Silvio Cosini
Vincenzo da San Gimignano,
Timoteo da Urbino
         
  Andrea Sansovino Benedetto da Rovezzano Baccio and Raffaello
da Montelupo
Lorenzo di Credi
         
  Lorenzetto and Boccaccino Baldassare Peruzzi Giovan Francesco Penni and Pellegrino da Modena Andrea del Sarto
         
  Madonna Properzia de'Rossi Alfonso Lombardi to Dosso and Battista Dossi Giovanni Antonio Licinio da Pordenone Giovanni Antonio Sogliani
         
  Girolamo da Treviso Polidoro da Caravaggio and
Maturino
Il Rosso Fiorentino Bartolommeo da Bagnacavallo
         
  Franciabigio Morto da Feltro and
Andrea di Cosimo
Marco Calavrese Francesco Mazzuoli
(Parmigianino)
         
  Jacopo Palma [Vecchio],
Lorenzo Lotto, and Others
Fra Giocondo Fra Giocondo, Liberale da Verona Giovan Francesco Caroto and
Giovanni Caroto
         
  Francesco Torbido, Battista del Moro, and Orlando Fiacco Francesco Monsignori, Domenico Morrone, Paolo Cavazzuola Falconetto and Bartolommeo Ridolfi Francesco dai Libri and
Girolamo dai Libri
         
  Francesco Granacci Baccio d'Agnolo Valerio Belli, Giovanni da Castel Bolognese, and Others Marcantonio Bolognese (Raimondi) and Others
         
  Antonio da San Gallo the Younger Giulio Romano Sebastiano del Piombo Perino del Vaga
         
  Domenico Beccafumi Giovan Antonio Lappoli Niccolo Soggi Niccolo, called Il Tribolo
         
  Pierino da Vinci Baccio Bandinelli Giuliano Bugiardini Cristofano Gherardi, called Doceno
         

 

 

LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452-1519)

PAINTER AND SCULPTOR OF FLORENCE

Vasari's Lives of the Artists

THE GREATEST GIFTS are often seen, in the course of nature, rained by celestial influences on human creatures; and sometimes, in supernatural fashion, beauty, grace, and talent are united beyond measure in one single person, in a manner that to whatever such an one turns his atten- tion, his every action is so divine, that, surpassing all other men, it makes itself clearly known as a thing bestowed by God (as it is), and not acquired by human art. This was seen by all mankind in Leonardo da Vinci, in whom, besides a beauty of body never sufficiently extolled, there was an infinite grace in all his actions; and so great was his genius, and such its growth, that to whatever difficulties he turned his mind, he solved them with ease. In him was great bodily strength, joined to dexterity, with a spirit and courage ever royal and magnanimous; and the fame of his name so increased, that not only in his lifetime was he held in esteem, but his reputation became even greater among posterity after his death.

Truly marvellous and celestial was Leonardo, the son of Ser Piero da Vinci; and in learning and in the rudiments of letters he would have made great proficience, if he had not been so variable and unstable, for he set himself to learn many things, and then, after having begun them, abandoned them. Thus, in arithmetic, during the few months that he studied it, he made so much progress, that, by continually suggesting doubts and difficulties to the master who was teaching him, he would very often bewilder him. He gave some little attention to music, and quickly resolved to learn to play the lyre, as one who had by nature a spirit most lofty and full of refinement: wherefore he sang divinely to that instrument, improvising upon it. Nevertheless, although he occupied himself with such a variety of things, he never ceased drawing and working in relief, pursuits which suited his fancy more than any other. Ser Piero, having observed this, and having considered the loftiness of his intellect, one day took some of his drawings and carried them to Andrea del Verrocchio, who was much his friend, and besought him straitly to tell him whether Leonardo, by devoting himself to drawing, would make any proficience.

Andrea was astonished to see the extraordinary beginnings of Leonardo, and urged Ser Piero that he should make him study it; wherefore he arranged with Leonardo that he should enter the workshop of Andrea, which Leonardo did with the greatest willingness in the world. And he practised not one branch of art only, but all those in which drawing played a part; and having an intellect so divine and marvellous that he was also an excellent geometrician, he not only worked in sculpture, making in his youth, in clay, some heads of women that are smiling, of which plaster casts are still taken, and likewise some heads of boys which appeared to have issued from the hand of a master; but in architecture, also, he made many drawings both of groundplans and of other designs of buildings; and he was the first, although but a youth, who suggested the plan of reducing the river Arno to a navigable canal from Pisa to Florence. He made designs of flour mills, fulling- mills, and engines, which might be driven by the force of water: and since he wished that his profession should be painting, he studied much in drawing after nature, and sometimes in making models of figures in clay, over which he would lay soft pieces of cloth dipped in clay, and then set himself patiently to draw them on a certain kind of very fine Rheims cloth, or prepared linen: and he executed them in black and white with the point of his brush, so that it was a marvel, as some of them by his hand, which I have in our book of drawings, still bear witness; besides which, he drew on paper with such diligence and so well, that there is no one who has ever equalled him in perfection of finish; and I have one, a head drawn with the style in chiaroscuro, which is divine.

And there was infused in that brain such grace from God, and a power of expression in such sublime accord with the intellect and memory that served it, and he knew so well how to express his conceptions by draughtsmanship, that he vanquished with his discourse, and confuted with his reasoning, every valiant wit. And he was continually making models and designs to show men how to remove mountains with ease, and how to bore them in order to pass from one level to another ; and by means of levers, windlasses, and screws, he showed the way to raise and draw great weights, together with methods for emptying harbors, and pumps for removing water from low places, things which his brain never ceased from devising; and of these ideas and labours many drawings may be seen, scattered abroad among our craftsmen; and I myself have seen not a few. He even went so far as to waste his time in drawing knots of cords, made according to an order, that from one end all the rest might follow till the other, so as to fill a round; and one of these is to be seen in stamp, most difficult and beautiful, and in the middle of it are these words, "Leonardus Vinci Accademia." And among these models and designs, there was one by which he often demonstrated to many ingenious citizens, who were then governing Florence, how he proposed to raise the Temple of S. Giovanni in Florence, and place steps under it, without damaging the building; and with such strong reasons did he urge this, that it appeared possible, although each man, after he had departed, would recognize for himself the impossibility of so vast an undertaking.

He was so pleasing in conversation, that he attracted to himself the hearts of men. And although he possessed, one might say, nothing, and worked little, he always kept servants and horses, in which latter he took much delight, and particularly in all other animals, which he managed with the greatest love and patience; and this he showed when often passing by the places where birds were sold, for, taking them with his own hand out of their cages, and having paid to those who sold them the price that was asked, he let them fly away into the air, restoring to them their lost liberty. For which reason nature was pleased so to favor him, that, wherever he turned his thought, brain, and mind, he displayed such divine power in his works, that, in giving them their perfection, no one was ever his peer in readiness, vivacity, excellence, beauty, and grace.


It is clear that Leonardo, through his comprehension of art, began many things and never finished one of them, since it seemed to him that the hand was not able to attain to the perfection of art in carrying out the things which he imagined ; for the reason that he conceived in idea difficulties so subtle and so marvellous, that they could never be expressed by the hands, be they ever so excellent. And so many were his caprices, that, philosophizing of natural things, he set himself to seek out the properties of herbs, going on even to observe the motions of the heavens, the path of the moon, and the courses of the sun.

He was placed, then, as has been said, in his boyhood, at the instance of Ser Piero, to learn art with Andrea del Verrocchio, who was making a panel picture of S. John baptizing Christ, when Leonardo painted an angel who was holding some garments; and although he was but a lad, Leonardo executed it in such a manner that his angel was much better than the figures of Andrea; which was the reason that Andrea would never again touch color, in disdain that a child should know more than he.

He was commissioned to make a cartoon for a door hanging that was to be executed in Flanders, woven in gold and silk, to be sent to the King of Portugal, of Adam and Eve sinning in the Earthly Paradise; wherein Leonardo drew with the brush in chiaroscuro, with the lights in lead-white, a meadow of infinite kinds of herbage, with some animals, of which, in truth, it may be said that for diligence and truth to nature divine wit could not make it so perfect. In it is the fig tree, together with the foreshortening of the leaves and the varying aspects of the branches, wrought with such lovingness that the brain reels at the mere thought how a man could have such patience. There is also a palm tree which has the radiating crown of the palm, executed with such great and marvellous art that nothing save the patience and intellect of Leonardo could avail to do it. This work was carried no farther; wherefore the cartoon is now at Florence, in the blessed house of the Magnificent Ottaviano de' Medici, presented to him not long ago by the uncle of Leonardo.

It is said that Ser Piero da Vinci, being at his villa, was besought as a favor, by a peasant of his, who had made a buckler with his own hands out of a fig tree that he had cut down on the farm, to have it painted for him in Florence, which he did very willingly, since the countryman was very skilful at catching birds and fishing, and Ser Piero made much use of him in these pursuits. Thereupon, having had it taken to Florence, without saying a word to Leonardo as to whose it was, he asked him to paint something upon it. Leonardo, having one day taken this buckler in his hands, and seeing it twisted, badly made, and clumsy, straightened it by the fire, and, having given it to a turner, from the rude and clumsy thing that it was, caused it to be made smooth and even. And afterwards, having given it a coat of gesso, and having prepared it in his own way, he began to think what he could paint upon it, that might be able to terrify all who should come upon it, producing the same effect as once did the head of Medusa. For this purpose, then, Leonardo carried to a room of his own into which no one entered save himself alone, lizards great and small, crickets, serpents, butterflies, grasshoppers, bats, and other strange kinds of suchlike animals, out of the number of which, variously put together, he formed a great ugly creature, most horrible and terrifying, which emitted a poisonous breath and turned the air to flame; and he made it coming out of a dark and jagged rock, belching forth venom from its open throat, fire from its eyes, and smoke from its nostrils, in so strange a fashion that it appeared altogether a monstrous and horrible thing; and so long did he labor over making it, that the stench of the dead animals in that room was past bearing, but Leonardo did not notice it, so great was the love that he bore towards art.

The work being finished, although it was no longer asked for either by the countryman or by his father, Leonardo told the latter that he might send for the buckler at his convenience, since, for his part, it was finished. Ser Piero having therefore gone one morning to the room for the buckler, and having knocked at the door, Leonardo opened to him, telling him to wait a little; and, having gone back into the room, he adjusted the buckler in a good light on the easel, and put to the window, in order to make a soft light, and then he bade him come in to see it. Ser Piero, at the first glance, taken by surprise, gave a sudden start, not thinking that that was the buckler, nor merely painted the form that he saw upon it, and, falling back a step, Leonardo checked him, saying, "This work serves the end for which it was made; take it, then, and carry it away, since this is the effect that it was meant to produce." This thing appeared to Ser Piero nothing short of a miracle, and he praised very greatly the ingenious idea of Leonardo; and then, having privately bought from a pedlar another buckler, painted with a heart transfixed by an arrow, he presented it to the countryman, who remained obliged to him for it as long as he lived. Afterwards, Ser Piero sold the buckler of Leonardo secretly to some merchants in Florence, for a hundred ducats; and in a short time it came into the hands of the Duke of Milan, having been sold to him by the said merchants for three hundred ducats.

Leonardo then made a picture of Our Lady, a most excellent work, which was in the possession of Pope Clement VII; and, among other things painted therein, he counterfeited a glass vase full of water, con- taining some flowers, in which, besides its marvellous naturalness, he had imitated the dew-drops on the flowers, so that it seemed more real than the reality. For Antonio Segni, who was very much his friend, he made, on a sheet of paper, a Neptune executed with such careful draughtsmanship that it seemed absolutely alive. In it one saw the ocean troubled, and Neptune's car drawn by sea-horses, with fantastic creatures, marine monsters and winds, and some very beautiful heads of sea-gods. This drawing was presented by Fabio, the son of Antonio, to Messer Giovanni Gaddi, with this epigram:

Pinxit Virgilius Neptunum, pinxit Homerus,
Dum maris undisoni per vada flectit equos.

Mente quidem vates ilium conspexit uterque,
Vincius ast oculis; jureque vincit eos.

The fancy came to him to paint a picture in oils of the head of a Medusa, with the head attired with a coil of snakes, the most strange and extravagant invention that could ever be imagined; but since it was a work that took time, it remained unfinished, as happened with almost all his things. It is among the rare works of art in the Palace of Duke Cosimo, together with the head of an angel, who is raising one arm in the air, which, coming forward, is foreshortened from the shoulder to the elbow, and with the other he raises the hand to the breast.

It is an extraordinary thing how that genius, in his desire to give the highest relief to the works that he made, went so far with dark shadows, in order to find the darkest possible grounds, that he sought for blacks which might make deeper shadows and be darker than other blacks, that by their means he might make his lights the brighter; and in the end this method turned out so dark, that, no light remaining there, his pictures had rather the character of things made to represent an effect of night, than the clear quality of daylight; which all came from seeking to give greater relief, and to achieve the final perfection of art.

He was so delighted when he saw certain bizarre heads of men, with the beard or hair growing naturally, that he would follow one that pleased him a whole day, and so treasured him up in idea, that afterwards, on arriving home, he drew him as if he had had him in his presence. Of this sort there are many heads to be seen, both of women and of men, and I have several of them, drawn by his hand with the pen, in our book of drawings, which I have mentioned so many times; such was that of Amerigo Vespucci, which is a very beautiful head of an old man drawn with charcoal, and likewise that of Scaramuccia, Captain of the Gypsies, which afterwards came into the hands of M. Donato Valdambrini of Arezzo, Canon of S. Lorenzo, left to him by Giambullari.

He began a panel picture of the Adoration of the Magi, containing many beautiful things, particularly the heads, which was in the house of Amerigo Benci, opposite the Loggia de' Peruzzi; and this, also, remained unfinished, like his other works.

It came to pass that Giovan Galeazzo, Duke of Milan, being dead, and Lodovico Sforza raised to the same rank, in the year 1494, Leonardo was summoned to Milan in great repute to the Duke, who took much delight in the sound of the lyre, to the end that he might play it: and Leonardo took with him that instrument which he had made with his own hands, in great part of silver, in the form of a horse's skull a thing bizarre and new in order that the harmony might be of greater volume and more sonorous in tone; with which he surpassed all the musicians who had come together there to play. Besides this, he was the best improviser in verse of his day. The Duke, hearing the marvellous discourse of Leonardo, became so enamoured of his genius, that it was something incredible: and he prevailed upon him by entreaties to paint an altar panel containing a Nativity, which was sent by the Duke to the Emperor.

He also painted in Milan, for the Friars of S. Dominic, at S. Maria delle Grazie, a Last Supper, a most beautiful and marvellous thing ; and to the heads of the Apostles he gave such majesty and beauty, that he left the head of Christ unfinished, not believing that he was able to give it that divine air which is essential to the image of Christ. This work, remaining thus all but finished, has ever been held by the Milanese in the greatest veneration, and also by strangers as well; for Leonardo imagined and succeeded in expressing that anxiety which had seized the Apostles in wishing to know who should betray their Master. For which reason in all their faces are seen love, fear, and wrath, or rather, sorrow, at not being able to understand the meaning of Christ; which thing excites no less marvel than the sight, in contrast to it, of obstinacy, hatred, and treachery in Judas; not to mention that every least part of the work displays an incredible diligence, seeing that even in the tablecloth the texture of the stuff is counterfeited in such a manner that linen itself could not seem more real.

It is said that the Prior of that place kept pressing Leonardo, in a most importunate manner, to finish the work; for it seemed strange to him to see Leonardo sometimes stand half a day at a time, lost in contemplation, and he would have liked him to go on like the labourers hoeing in his garden, without ever stopping his brush. And not content with this, he complained of it to the Duke, and that so warmly, that he was constrained to send for Leonardo and delicately urged him to work, contriving nevertheless to show him that he was doing all this because of the importunity of the Prior. Leonardo, knowing that the intellect of that Prince was acute and discerning, was pleased to discourse at large with the Duke on the subject, a thing which he had never done with the Prior: and he reasoned much with him about art, and made him understand that men of lofty genius sometimes accomplish the most when they work the least, seeking out inventions with the mind, and forming those perfect ideas which the hands afterwards express and reproduce from the images already conceived in the brain. And he added that two heads were still wanting for him to paint; that of Christ, which he did not wish to seek on earth; and he could not think that it was possible to conceive in the imagination that beauty and heavenly grace which should be the mark of God incarnate. Next, there was wanting that of Judas, which was also troubling him, not thinking himself capable of imagining features that should represent the countenance of him who, after so many benefits received, had a mind so cruel as to resolve to betray his Lord, the Creator of the world. However, he would seek out a model for the latter; but if in the end he could not find a better, he should not want that of the importunate and tactless Prior.

This thing moved the Duke wondrously to laughter, and he said that Leonardo had a thousand reasons on his side. And so the poor Prior, in confusion, confined himself to urging on the work in the garden, and left Leonardo in peace, who finished only the head of Judas, which seems the very embodiment of treachery and inhumanity; but that of Christ, as has been said, remained unfinished. The nobility of this picture, both because of its design, and from its having been wrought with an incomparable diligence, awoke a desire in the King of France to transport it into his kingdom; wherefore he tried by all possible means to discover whether there were architects who, with cross-stays of wood and iron, might have been able to make it so secure that it might be transported safely; without considering any expense that might have been involved thereby, so much did he desire it. But the fact of its being painted on the wall robbed his Majesty of his desire; and the picture remained with the Milanese. In the same refectory, while he was working at the Last Supper, on the end wall where is a Passion in the old manner, Leonardo portrayed the said Lodovico, with Massimiliano, his eldest son; and, on the other side, the Duchess Beatrice, with Francesco, their other son, both of whom afterwards became Dukes of Milan; and all are portrayed divinely well. While he was engaged on this work, he proposed to the Duke to make a horse in bronze, of a marvellous greatness, in order to place upon it, as a memorial, the image of the Duke. And on so vast a scale did he begin it and continue it, that it could never be completed. And there are those who have been of the opinion (so various and so often malign out of envy are the judgments of men) that he began it with no intention of finishing it, because, being of so great a size, an incredible difficulty was encountered in seeking to cast it in one piece; and it might also be believed that, from the result, many may have formed such a judgment, since many of his works have remained unfinished. But, in truth, one can believe that his vast and most excellent mind was hampered through being too full of desire, and that his wish ever to seek out excellence upon excellence, and perfection upon perfection, was the reason of it. "Tal che 1' opera fosse ritardata dal desio," as our Petrarca has said. And, indeed, those who saw the great model that Leonardo made in clay vow that they have never seen a more beautiful thing, or a more superb; and it was preserved until the French came to Milan with King Louis of France, and broke it all to pieces. Lost, also, is a little model of it in wax, which was held to be perfect, together with a book on the anatomy of the horse made by him by way of study.

He then applied himself, but with greater care, to the anatomy of man, assisted by and in turn assisting, in this research, Messer Marc' Antonio della Torre, an excellent philosopher, who was then lecturing at Pavia, and who wrote of this matter; and he was one of the first (as I have heard tell) that began to illustrate the problems of medicine with the doctrine of Galen, and to throw true light on anatomy, which up to that time had been wrapped in the thick and gross darkness of ignorance. And in this he found marvellous aid in the brain, work, and hand of Leonardo, who made a book drawn in red chalk, and annotated with the pen, of the bodies that he dissected with his own hand, and drew with the greatest diligence; wherein he showed all the frame of the bones; and then added to them, in order, all the nerves, and covered them with muscles; the first attached to the bone, the second that hold the body firm, and the third that move it; and beside them, part by part, he wrote in letters of an ill-shaped character, which he made with the left hand, backwards; and whoever is not practised in reading them cannot understand them, since they are not to be read save with a mirror. Of these papers on the anatomy of man, a great part is in the hands of Messer Francesco da Melzo, a gentleman of Milan, who in the time of Leonardo was a very beautiful boy, and much beloved by him, and now is a no less beautiful and gentle old man; and he holds them dear, and keeps such papers together as if they were relics, in company with the portrait of Leonardo of happy memory; and to all who read these writings, it seems impossible that that divine spirit should have discoursed so well of art, and of the muscles, nerves, and veins, and with such diligence of everything. So, also, there are in the hands of [* This name is missing in the text.],* a painter of Milan, certain writings of Leonardo, likewise in characters written with the left hand, backwards, which treat of painting, and of the methods of drawing and coloring. This man, not long ago, came to Florence to see me, wishing to print this work, and he took it to Rome, in order to put it into effect; but I do not know what may afterwards have become of it.

And to return to the works of Leonardo; there came to Milan, in his time, the King of France, wherefore Leonardo being asked to devise some bizarre thing, made a lion which walked several steps and then opened its breast, and showed it full of lilies.

In Milan he took for his assistant the Milanese Salai, who was most comely in grace and beauty, having fine locks, curling in ringlets, in which Leonardo greatly delighted; and he taught him many things of art; and certain works in Milan, which are said to be by Salai, were retouched by Leonardo.

He returned to Florence, where he found that the Servite Friars had entrusted to Filippino the painting of the panel for the high altar of the Nunziata; whereupon Leonardo said that he would willingly have done such a work. Filippino, having heard this, like the amiable fellow that he was, retired from the undertaking; and the friars, to the end that Leonardo might paint it, took him into their house, meeting the expenses both of himself and of all his household; and thus he kept them in expectation for a long time, but never began anything. In the end, he made a cartoon containing a Madonna and a S. Anne, with a Christ, which not only caused all the craftsmen to marvel, but, when it was finished, men and women, young and old, continued for two days to flock for a sight of it to the room where it was, as if to a solemn festival, in order to gaze at the marvels of Leonardo, which caused all those people to be amazed; for in the face of that Madonna was seen whatever of the simple and the beautiful can by simplicity and beauty confer grace on a picture of the Mother of Christ, since he wished to show that modesty and that humility which are looked for in an image of the Virgin, supremely content with gladness at seeing the beauty of her Son, whom she was holding with tenderness in her lap, while with most chastened gaze she was looking down at S. John, as a little boy, who was playing with a lamb; not without a smile from S. Anne, who, overflowing with joy, was beholding her earthly progeny become divine ideas truly worthy of the brain and genius of Leonardo. This cartoon, as will be told below, afterwards went to France. He made a portrait of Ginevra d' Amerigo Benci, a very beautiful work; and abandoned the work for the friars, who restored it to Filippino; but he, also, failed to finish it, having been overtaken by death.

Leonardo undertook to execute, for Francesco del Giocondo, the portrait of Monna Lisa, his wife; and after toiling over it for four years, he left it unfinished; and the work is now in the collection of King Francis of France, at Fontainebleau. In this head, whoever wished to see how closely art could imitate nature, was able to comprehend it with ease; for in it were counterfeited all the minutenesses that with subtlety are able to be painted, seeing that the eyes had that lustre and watery sheen which are always seen in life, and around them were all those rosy and pearly tints, as well as the lashes, which cannot be represented without the greatest subtlety. The eyebrows, through his having shown the manner in which the hairs spring from the flesh, here more close and here more scanty, and curve according to the pores of the skin, could not be more natural. The nose, with its beautiful nostrils, rosy and tender, appeared to be alive. The mouth, with its opening, and with its ends united by the red of the lips to the flesh tints of the face, seemed, in truth, to be not colors but flesh. In the pit of the throat, if one gazed upon it intently, could be seen the beating of the pulse. And, indeed, it may be said that it was painted in such a manner as to make every valiant craftsman, be he who he may, tremble and lose heart. He made use, also, of this device: Monna Lisa being very beautiful, he always employed, while he was painting her portrait, persons to play or sing, and jesters, who might make her remain merry, in order to take away that melancholy which painters are often wont to give to the portraits that they paint. And in this work of Leonardo's there was a smile so pleasing, that it was a thing more divine than human to behold; and it was held to be something marvellous, since the reality was not more alive.

By reason, then, of the excellence of the works of this most divine craftsman, his fame had so increased that all persons who took delight in art nay, the whole city of Florence desired that he should leave them some memorial, and it was being proposed everywhere that he should be commissioned to execute some great and notable work, whereby the commonwealth might be honored and adorned by the great genius, grace and judgment that were seen in the works of Leonardo. And it was decided between the Gonfalonier and the chief citizens, the Great Council Chamber having been newly built the architecture of which had been contrived with the judgment and counsel of Giuliano da San Gallo, Simone Pollaiuoli, called II Cronaca, Michelagnolo Buonarroti, and Baccio D'Agnolo, as will be related with more detail in the proper places and having been finished in great haste, it was ordained by public decree that Leonardo should be given some beautiful work to paint ; and so the said hall was allotted to him by Piero Soderini, then Gon- falonier of Justice. Whereupon Leonardo, determining to execute this work, began a cartoon in the Sala del Papa, an apartment in S. Maria Novella, representing the story of Niccolo Piccinino, Captain of Duke Filippo of Milan; wherein he designed a group of horsemen who were fighting for a standard, a work that was held to be very excellent and of great mastery, by reason of the marvellous ideas that he had in composing that battle; seeing that in it rage, fury, and revenge are perceived as much in the men as in the horses, among which two with the forelegs interlocked are fighting no less fiercely with their teeth than those who are riding them do in fighting for that standard, which has been grasped by a soldier, who seeks by the strength of his shoulders, as he spurs his horse to flight, having turned his body backwards and seized the staff of the standard, to wrest it by force from the hands of four others, of whom two are defending it, each with one hand, and, raising their swords in the other, are trying to sever the staff; while an old soldier in a red cap, crying out, grips the staff with one hand, and, raising a scimitar with the other, furiously aims a blow in order to cut off both the hands of those who, gnashing their teeth in the struggle, are striving in attitudes of the utmost fierceness to defend their banner; besides which, on the ground, between the legs of the horses, there are two figures in fore- shortening that are fighting together, and the one on the ground has over him a soldier who has raised his arm as high as possible, that thus with greater force he may plunge a dagger into his throat, in order to end his life; while the other, struggling with his legs and arms, is doing what he can to escape death.

It is not possible to describe the invention that Leonardo showed in the garments of the soldiers, all varied by him in different ways, and likewise in the helmet crests and other ornaments; not to mention the incredible mastery that he displayed in the forms and lineaments of the horses, which Leonardo, with their fiery spirit, muscles, and shapely beauty, drew better than any other master. It is said that, in order to draw that cartoon, he made a most ingenious stage, which was raised by contracting it and lowered by expanding. And conceiving the wish to colour on the wall in oils, he made a composition of so gross an admixture, to act as a binder on the wall, that, going on to paint in the said hall, it began to peel off in such a manner that in a short time he abandoned it, seeing it spoiling.

Leonardo had very great spirit, and in his every action was most generous. It is said that, going to the bank for the allowance that he used to draw every month from Piero Soderini, the cashier wanted to give him certain paper packets of pence ; but he would not take them, saying in answer, "I am no penny-painter." Having been blamed for cheating Piero Soderini, there began to be murmurings against him; wherefore Leonardo so wrought upon his friends, that he got the money together and took it to Piero to repay him; but he would not accept it.

He went to Rome with Duke Giuliano de' Medici, at the election of Pope Leo, who spent much of his time on philosophical studies, and particularly on alchemy; where, forming a paste of a certain kind of wax, as he walked he shaped animals very thin and full of wind, and, by blowing into them, made them fly through the air, but when the wind ceased they fell to the ground. On the back of a most bizarre lizard, found by the vine-dresser of the Belvedere, he fixed, with a mixture of quicksilver, wings composed of scales stripped from other lizards, which, as it walked, quivered with the motion; and having given it eyes, horns, and beard, taming it, and keeping it in a box, he made all his friends, to whom he showed it, fly for fear. He used often to have the guts of a wether completely freed of their fat and cleaned, and thus made so fine that they could have been held in the palm of the hand; and having placed a pair of blacksmith's bellows in another room, he fixed to them one end of these, and, blowing into them, filled the room, which was very large, so that whoever was in it was obliged to retreat into a corner; showing how, transparent and full of wind, from taking up little space at the beginning they had come to occupy much, and likening them to virtue. He made an infinite number of such follies, and gave his attention to mirrors; and he tried the strangest methods in seeking out oils for painting, and varnish for preserving works when painted.

He made at this time, for Messer Baldassarre Turini da Pescia, who was Datary to Pope Leo, a little picture of the Madonna with the Child in her arms, with infinite diligence and art; but whether through the fault of whoever primed the panel with gesso, or because of his innumerable and capricious mixtures of grounds and colors, it is now much spoilt. And in another small picture he made a portrait of a little boy, which is beautiful and graceful to a marvel ; and both of them are now at Pescia, in the hands of Messer Giuliano Turini. It is related that, a work having been allotted to him by the Pope, he straightway began to distil oils and herbs, in order to make the varnish; at which Pope Leo said : " Alas ! this man will never do anything, for he begins by thinking of the end of the work, before the beginning."

There was very great disdain between Michelagnolo Buonarroti and him, on account of which Michelagnolo departed from Florence, with the excuse of Duke Giuliano, having been summoned by the Pope to the competition for the fa$ade of S. Lorenzo. Leonardo, understanding this, departed and went into France, where the King, having had works by his hand, bore him great affection ; and he desired that he should colour the cartoon of S. Anne, but Leonardo, according to his custom, put him off for a long time with words.

Finally, having grown old, he remained ill many months, and, feeling himself near to death, asked to have himself diligently informed of the teaching of the Catholic faith, and of the good way and holy Christian religion ; and then, with many moans, he confessed and was penitent ; and although he could not raise himself well on his feet, supporting himself on the arms of his friends and servants, he was pleased to take devoutly the most holy Sacrament, out of his bed. The King, who was wont often and lovingly to visit him, then came into the room ; wherefore he, out of reverence, having raised himself to sit upon the bed, giving him an account of his sickness and the circumstances of it, showed withal how much he had offended God and mankind in not having worked at his art as he should have done. Thereupon he was seized by a paroxysm, the messenger of death; for which reason the King having risen and having taken his head, in order to assist him and show him favor, to the end that he might alleviate his pain, his spirit, which was divine, knowing that it could not have any greater honor, expired in the arms of the King, in the seventy-fifth year of his age.

The loss of Leonardo grieved beyond measure all those who had known him, since there was never any one who did so much honor to painting. With the splendor of his aspect, which was very beautiful, he made serene every broken spirit: and with his words he turned to yea, or nay, every obdurate intention. By his physical force he could restrain any outburst of rage: and with his right hand he twisted the iron ring of a doorbell, or a horse-shoe, as if it were lead. With his liberality he would assemble together and support his every friend, poor or rich, if only he had intellect and worth. He adorned and honoured, in every action, no matter what mean and bare dwelling; wherefore, in truth, Florence received a very great gift in the birth of Leonardo, and an incalculable loss in his death. In the art of painting, he added to the manner of colouring in oils a certain obscurity, whereby the moderns have given great force and relief to their figures. And in statuary, he proved his worth in the three figures ol bronze that are over the door of S. Giovanni, on the side towards the north, executed by Giovan Francesco Rustici, but contrived with the advice of Leonardo ; which are the most beautiful pieces of casting, the best designed, and the most perfect that have as yet been seen in modern days. By Leonardo we have the anatomy of the horse, and that of man even more complete. And so, on account of all his qualities, so many and so divine, although he worked much more by words than by deeds, his name and fame can never be extinguished wherefore it was thus said in his praise by Messer Giovan Battista Strozzi:

Vince costui pur solo

Tutti altri; e vince Fidia e vince Apelle

E tutto il lor vittorioso stuolo.

A disciple of Leonardo was Giovan Antonio Boltraffio of Milan, a person of great skill and understanding, who, in the year 1500, painted with much diligence, for the Church of the Misericordia, without Bologna, a panel in oils containing Our Lady with the Child in her arms, S. John the Baptist, S. Sebastian naked, and the patron who caused it to be executed, portrayed from the life, on his knees a truly beautiful work, on which he wrote his name, calling himself a disciple of Leonardo. He has made other works, both at Milan and elsewhere; but it must be enough here to have named this, which is the best. Another (of his disciples) was Marco Oggioni, who painted, in S. Maria della Pace, the Passing of Our Lady and the Marriage of Cana in Galilee.

 

 

 

GIORGIONE DA CASTELFRANCO (1477/78-1510)
PAINTER

Vasari's Lives of the Artists


AT THE SAME TIME when Florence was acquiring such fame by reason of the works of Leonardo, no little adornment was conferred on Venice by the talent and excellence of one of her citizens, who surpassed by a great measure not only the Bellini, whom the Venetians held in such esteem, but also every other master who had painted up to that time in that city. This was Giorgio, who was born at Castelfranco in the territory of Treviso, in the year 1478, when the Doge was Giovanni Mozzenigo, brother of Doge Piero. In time, from the nature of his person and from the greatness of his mind, Giorgio came to be called Giorgione; and although he was born from very humble stock, nevertheless he was not otherwise than gentle and of good breeding throughout his whole life. He was brought up in Venice, and took unceasing delight in the joys of love; and the sound of the lute gave him marvellous pleasure, so that in his day he played and sang so divinely that he was often employed for that purpose at various musical assemblies and gatherings of noble persons.

He studied drawing, and found it greatly to his taste; and in this nature favored him so highly, that he, having become enamored of her beauties, would never represent anything in his works without copying it from life; and so much was he her slave, imitating her continuously, that he acquired the name not only of having surpassed Giovanni and Gentile Bellini, but also of being the rival of the masters who were working in Tuscany and who were the creators of the modern manner. Giorgione had seen some things by the hand of Leonardo with a beautiful gradation of colors, and with extraordinary relief, effected, as has been related, by means of dark shadows; and this manner pleased him so much that he was for ever studying it as long as he lived, and in oil-painting he imitated it greatly. Taking pleasure in the delights of good work, he was ever selecting, for putting into his pictures, the greatest beauty and the greatest variety that he could find. And nature gave him a spirit so benign, and with this, both in oil painting and in fresco, he made certain living forms and other things so soft, so well harmonized, and so well blended in the shadows, that many of the excellent masters of his time were forced to confess that he had been born to infuse spirit into figures and to counterfeit the freshness of living flesh better than any other painter, not only in Venice, but throughout the whole world.

In his youth he executed in Venice many pictures of Our Lady and other portraits from nature, which are very lifelike and beautiful; of which we still have proof in three most beautiful heads in oils by his hand, which are in the study of the Very Reverend Grimani, Patriarch of Aquileia. One represents David and it is reported to be his own portrait with long locks reaching to the shoulders, as was the custom of those times; it is so vivacious and so fresh in coloring that it seems to be living flesh, and there is armour on the breast, as there is on the arm with which he is holding the severed head of Goliath. The second is a much larger head, portrayed from nature; one hand is holding the red cap of a commander, and there is a cape of fur, below which is one of the old-fashioned doublets. This is believed to represent some military leader. The third is that of a boy, as beautiful as could be, with fleecy hair. These works demonstrate the excellence of Giorgione, and no less the affection which that great Patriarch has ever borne to his genius, holding them very dear, and that rightly. In Florence, in the house of the sons of Giovanni Borgherini, there is a portrait by his hand of the said Giovanni, taken when he was a young man in Venice, and in the same picture is the master who was teaching him; and there are no two heads to be seen with better touches in the flesh colors or with more beautiful tints in the shadows.

In the house of Anton de' Nobili there is another head of a captain in armor, very lively and spirited, which is said to be one of the captains whom Consalvo Ferrante took with him to Venice when he visited Doge Agostino Barberigo; at which time, it is related, Giorgione made a portrait of the great Consalvo in armor, which was a very rare work, insomuch that there was no more beautiful painting than this to be seen, and Consalvo took it away with him. Giorgione made many other portraits which are scattered throughout many parts of Italy; all very beautiful, as may be believed from that of Leonardo Loredano, painted by Giorgione when Leonardo was Doge, which I saw exhibited on one Ascension day, when I seemed to see that most illustrious Prince alive. There is also one at Faenza, in the house of Giovanni da Castel Bolognese, an excellent engraver of cameos and crystals; which work, executed for his father-in-law, is truly divine, since there is such a harmony in the gradation of the colors that it appears to be rather in relief than painted.

Giorgione took much delight in painting in fresco, and one among many works that he executed was the whole of a facade of the Ca Soranzo on the Piazza, di S. Polo; wherein, besides many pictures and scenes and other things of fancy, there may be seen a picture painted in oils on the plaster, a work which has withstood rain, sun, and wind, and has remained fresh up to our own day. There is also a Spring, which appears to me to be one of the most beautiful works that he painted in fresco, and it is a great pity that time has consumed it so cruelly. For my part, I know nothing that injures works in fresco more than the sirocco, and particularly near the sea, where it always brings a salt moisture with it.

There broke out at Venice, in the year 1504, in the Fondaco de' Tedeschi by the Ponte del Rialto, a most terrible fire, which consumed the whole building and all the merchandise, to the very great loss of the merchants; wherefore the Signoria of Venice ordained that it should be rebuilt anew, and it was speedily finished with more accommodation in the way of living rooms, and with greater magnificence, adornment, and beauty. Thereupon, the fame of Giorgione having grown great, it was ordained after deliberation by those who had charge of the matter, that Giorgione should paint it in fresco with colours according to his own fancy, provided only that he gave proof of his genius and executed an excellent work, since it would be in the most beautiful place and most conspicuous site in the city. And so Giorgione put his hand to the work, but thought of nothing save of making figures according to his own fancy, in order to display his art, so that, in truth, there are no scenes to be found there with any order, or representing the deeds of any distinguished person, either ancient or modern; and I, for my part, have never understood them, nor have I found, for all the inquiries that I have made, anyone who understands them, for in one place there is a woman, in another a man, in diverse attitudes, while one has the head of a lion near him, and another an angel in the guise of a Cupid, nor can one tell what it may all mean. There is, indeed, over the principal door, which opens into the Merceria, a woman seated who has at her feet the severed head of a giant, almost in the form of a Judith; she is raising the head with her sword, and speaking with a German, who is below her; but I have not been able to determine for what he intended her to stand, unless, indeed, he may have meant her to represent Germany. However, it may be seen that his figures are well grouped, and that he was ever making progress; and there are in it heads and parts of figures very well painted, and most vivacious in coloring. In all that he did there he aimed at being faithful to nature, without any imitation of another's manner ; and the work is celebrated and famous in Venice, no less for what he painted therein than through its convenience for commerce and its utility to the commonwealth.

He executed a picture of Christ bearing the Cross, with a Jew dragging him along, which in time was placed in the Church of S. Rocco, and which now, through the veneration that many feel for it, works miracles, as all may see. He worked in various places, such as Castelfranco, and throughout the territory of Treviso, and he made many portraits for Italian Princes; and many of his works were sent out of Italy, as things truly worthy to bear testimony that if Tuscany had a superabundance of craftsmen in every age, the region beyond, near the mountains, was not always abandoned and forgotten by Heaven.

It is related that Giorgione, at the time when Andrea Verrocchio was making his bronze horse, fell into an argument with certain sculptors, who maintained, since sculpture showed various attitudes and aspects in one single figure to one walking round it, that for this reason it sur- passed painting, which only showed one side of a figure. Giorgione was of the opinion that there could be shown in a painted scene, without any necessity for walking round, at one single glance, all the various aspects that a man can present in many gestures a thing which sculpture cannot do without a change of position and point of view, so that in her case the points of view are many, and not one. Moreover, he proposed to show in one single painted figure the front, the back, and the profile on either side, a challenge which brought them to their senses; and he did it in the following way. He painted a naked man with his back turned, at whose feet was a most limpid pool of water, wherein he painted the reflection of the man's front. At one side was a burnished cuirass that he had taken off, which showed his left profile, since everything could be seen on the polished surface of the piece of armor; and on the other side was a mirror, which reflected the other profile of the naked figure; which was a thing of most beautiful and bizarre fancy, whereby he sought to prove that painting does in fact, with more excellence, labor, and effect, achieve more at one single view of a living figure than does sculpture. And this work was greatly extolled and admired, as something ingenious and beautiful.

He also made a portrait from life of Caterina, Queen of Cyprus, which I once saw in the hands of the illustrious Messer Giovanni Cornaro. There is in our book a head colored in oils, the portrait of a German of the Fugger family, who was at that time one of the chief merchants in the Fondaco de' Tedeschi, which is an admirable work; together with other sketches and drawings made by him with the pen.

While Giorgione was employed in doing honor both to himself and to his country, and frequenting many houses in order to entertain his various friends with his music, he became enamoured of a lady, and they took much joy, one with another, in their love. Now it happened that in the year 1511 she became infected with plague, without, however, knowing anything about it; and Giorgione, visiting her as usual, caught the plague in such a manner, that in a short time, at the age of thirty- four, he passed away to the other life, not without infinite grief on the part of his many friends, who loved him for his virtues, and great hurt to the world, which thus lost him. However, they could bear up against this hurt and loss, in that he left behind him two excellent disciples in Sebastiano, the Venetian, who afterwards became Friar of the Piombo * [* Signet-office, for the sealing of Papal Bulls and other papers of the Papal Court.] at Rome, and Tiziano da Cadore, who not only equalled him, but surpassed him greatly; of both of whom we will speak at the proper time, describing fully the honour and benefit that they have conferred on art.

 

 

 

ANTONIO DA CORREGGIO (1490-1534)
PAINTER

Vasari's Lives of the Artists


I DO NOT WISH to leave that country wherein our great mother Nature, in order not to be thought partial, gave to the world extraordinary men of that sort with which she had already for many and many a year adorned Tuscany; among whom was one endowed with an excellent and very beautiful genius, by name Antonio da Correggio, a most rare painter, who acquired the modern manner so perfectly, that in a few years, what with his natural gifts and his practice in art, he became a most excellent and marvellous craftsman. He was very timid by nature, and with great discomfort to himself he was continually laboring at the exercise of his art, for the sake of his family, which weighed upon him; and although it was a natural goodness that impelled him, nevertheless he afflicted himself more than was right in bearing the burden of those sufferings which are wont to crush mankind. He was very melancholy in his practice of art, a slave to her labors, and an unwearying investigator of all the difficulties of her realm ; to which witness is borne by a vast multitude of figures in the Duomo of Parma, executed in fresco and well finished, which are to be found in the great tribune of the said church, and are seen foreshortened from below with an effect of marvellous grandeur.

Antonio was the first who began to work in the modern manner in Lombardy; wherefore it is thought that if he, with his genius, had gone forth from Lombardy and lived in Rome, he would have wrought miracles, and would have brought the sweat to the brow of many who were held to be great men in his time. For, his works being such as they are without his having seen any of the ancient or the best of the modern, it necessarily follows that, if he had seen them, he would have vastly improved his own, and, advancing from good to better, would have reached the highest rank. It may, at least, be held for certain that no one ever handled colors better than he, and that no craftsman ever painted with greater delicacy or with more relief, such was the softness of his flesh painting, and such the grace with which he finished his works.

In the same place, also, he painted two large pictures executed in oils, in one of which, among other figures, there may be seen a Dead Christ, which was highly extolled. And in S. Giovanni, in the same city, he painted a tribune in fresco, wherein he represented Our Lady ascending into Heaven amidst a multitude of angels, with other saints around; as to which, it seems impossible that he should have been able, I do not say to express it with his hand, but even to conceive it in his imagination, so beautiful are the curves of the draperies and the expressions that he gave to those figures. Of these there are some drawings in our book, done in red chalk by his hand, with some very beautiful borders of little boys, and other borders drawn in that work by way of ornament, with various fanciful scenes of sacrifices in the ancient manner. And in truth, if Antonio had not brought his works to that perfection which is seen in them, his drawings (although they show excellence of manner, and the charm and practised touch of a master) would not have gained for him among craftsmen the name that he has won with his wonderful paintings. This art is so difficult, and has so many branches, that very often a craftsman is not able to practise them all to perfection ; for there have been many who have drawn divinely well, but have shown some imperfection in colouring, and others have been marvellous in colouring, but have not drawn half so well. All this depends on choice, and on the practice bestowed, in youth, in one case on drawing, in another on colour. But since all is learnt in order to carry works to the height of perfection, which is to put good coloring, together with draughtsmanship, into everything that is executed, for this reason Correggio deserves great praise, having attained to the height of perfection in the works that he coloured either in oils or in fresco; as he did in the Church of the Frati de' Zoccoli di S. Francesco, in the same city, where he painted an Annunciation in fresco so well, that, when it became necessary to pull it down in making some changes in that building, those friars caused the wall round it to be bound with timber strengthened with iron, and, cutting it away little by little, they saved it ; and it was built by them into a more secure place in the same convent.

He painted, also, over one of the gates of that city, a Madonna who has the Child in her arms; and it is an astounding thing to see the lovely colouring of this work in fresco, through which he has won from passing strangers, who have seen nothing else of his, infinite praise and honour. For S. Antonio, likewise in that city, he painted a panel wherein is a Madonna, with S. Mary Magdalene; and near them is a boy in the guise of a little angel, holding a book in his hand, who is smiling, with a smile that seems so natural that he moves whoever beholds him to smile also, nor can any person, be his nature ever so melancholy, see him without being cheered. There is also a S. Jerome; and the whole work is colored in a manner so wonderful and so astounding, that painters revere it for the marvel of its colouring, and it is scarcely possible to paint better.

In like manner, he executed square pictures and other paintings for many lords throughout Lombardy ; and, among other works, two pic- tures in Mantua for Duke Federigo II, to be sent to the Emperor, a gift truly worthy of such a Prince. Giulio Romano, seeing these works, said that he had never seen any colouring that attained to such per- fection. One was a naked Leda, and the other a Venus ; both so soft in colouring, with the shadows of the flesh so well wrought, that they appeared to be not colours, but flesh. In one there was a marvellous landscape, nor was there ever a Lombard who painted such things better than he ; and, besides this, hair so lovely in color, and executed in detail with such exquisite finish, that it is not possible to see anything better. There were also certain Loves, executed with beautiful art, who were making trial of their arrows, some of gold and some of lead, on a stone; and what lent most grace to the Venus was a clear and limpid stream, which ran among some stones and bathed her feet, but scarcely concealed any part of them, so that the sight of their delicate whiteness was a moving thing for the eye to behold. For which reason Antonio most certainly deserved all praise and honour during his lifetime, and the greatest glory from the lips and pens of men after his death.

In Modena, also, he painted a panel picture of Our Lady, which is held in esteem by all painters, as the best picture in that city. In Bologna, likewise, in the house of the Ercolani, gentlemen of that city, there is a work by his hand, a Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene in the Garden, which is very beautiful. In Reggio there was a rare and most beautiful picture; and not long since, Messer Luciano Pallavigino, who takes much delight in noble paintings, passing through the city and seeing it, gave no thought to the cost, and, as if he had bought a jewel, sent it to his house in Genoa. At Reggio, likewise, is a panel containing a Nativity of Christ, wherein the splendour radiating from Him throws its light on the shepherds and all around on the figures that are contemplating Him; and among the many conceptions shown in that subject, there is a woman who, wishing to gaze intently at Christ, and not being able with her mortal sight to bear the light of His Divinity, which seems to be beating upon her with its rays, places a hand before her eyes ; which is expressed so well that it is a marvel. Over the hut is a choir of angels singing, who are so well executed, that they appear rather to have rained down from Heaven than to have been made by the hand of a painter. And in the same city there is a little picture, a foot square, the rarest and most beautiful work that is to be seen by his hand, of Christ in the Garden, representing an effect of night, and painted with little figures ; wherein the Angel, appearing to Christ, illumines Him with the splendour of his light, with such truth to nature, that nothing better can be imagined or expressed. Below, on a plain at the foot of the mountain, are seen the three Apostles sleeping, over whom the mountain on which Christ is praying casts a shadow, giving those figures a force which one is not able to describe. Far in the background, over a distant land- scape, there is shown the appearing of the dawn; and on one side are seen coming some soldiers, with Judas. And although it is so small, this scene is so well conceived, that there is no work of the same kind to equal it either in patience or in study.

Many things might be said of the works of this master; but since, among the eminent men of our art, everything that is to be seen by his hand is admired as something divine, I will say no more. I have used all possible diligence in order to obtain his portrait, but, since he himself did not make it, and he was never portrayed by others, for he always lived in retirement, I have not been able to find one. He was, in truth, a person who had no opinion of himself, nor did he believe himself to be an able master of his art, contrasting his deficiencies with that perfection which he would have liked to achieve. He was contented with little, and he lived like an excellent Christian.

Antonio, like a man who was weighed down by his family, was anxious to be always saving, and he had thereby become as miserly as he could well be. Wherefore it is related that, having received at Parma a payment of sixty crowns in copper coins, and wishing to take them to Correggio to meet some demand, he placed the money on his back and set out to walk on foot; but, being smitten by the heat of the sun, which was very great, and drinking water to refresh himself, he was seized by pleurisy, and had to take to his bed in a raging fever, nor did he ever raise his head from it, but finished the course of his life at the age of forty, or thereabout.

His pictures date about 1512; and he bestowed a very great gift on painting by his handling of colours, which was that of a true master ; and it was by means of him that men's eyes were opened in Lombardy, where so many beautiful intellects have been seen in painting, following him in making works worthy of praise and memory. Thus, by showing them his treatment of hair, executed with such facility, for all the diffi- culty of painting it, he taught them how it should be painted ; for which all painters owe him an everlasting debt. At their instance the following epigram was written to him by Messer Fabio Segni, a gentleman of Florence:

Hujus cum regeret mortales spiritus artus

Pictoris, Charlies supplicuere Jovi.
Non alia pingi dextra, Pater alme, rogamus ;

Hunc praster, nulli pingere nos liceat.

Annuit his votis summi regnator Olympi,

Et juvenem subito sidera ad alta tulit,
Ut posset melius Charitum simulacra referre

Praesens, et nudas cerneret inde Deas.

At this same time lived Andrea del Gobbo of Milan, a very pleasing painter and colorist, many of whose works are scattered about in the houses of his native city of Milan. There is a large panel picture of the Assumption of Our Lady, by his hand, in the Certosa of Pavia, but it was left unfinished, on account of death overtaking him ; which panel shows how excellent he was, and how great a lover of the labours of art.

 

 

 

PIERO DI COSIMO (c.1462-c. 1521)
PAINTER OF FLORENCE

Vasari's Lives of the Artists


WHILE GIORGIONE AND CORREGIO, to their own great credit and glory, were honoring the regions of Lombardy, Tuscany, on her part, was not wanting in men of beautiful intellect; among whom, not one of the least was Piero, the son of one Lorenzo, a goldsmith, and a pupil of Cosimo Rosselli, after whom he was always called Piero di Cosimo, and known by no other name. And in truth, when a man teaches us excellence and gives us the secret of living rightly, he deserves no less gratitude from us, and should be held no less as a true father, than he who begets us and gives us life and nothing more.

Piero was entrusted by his father, who saw in his son a lively intelligence and an inclination to the art of design, to the care of Cosimo, who took him with no ordinary willingness; and seeing him grow no less in ability than in years, among the many disciples that he had, he bore him love as to a son, and always held him as such. This young man had by nature a most lofty spirit, and he was very strange, and different in fancy from the other youths who were working with Cosimo in order to learn the same art. He was at times so intent on what he was doing, that when some subject was being discussed, as often happens, at the end of the discussion it was necessary to go back to the beginning and tell him the whole, so far had his brain wandered after some other fancy of his own. And he was likewise so great a lover of solitude, that he knew no pleasure save that of going off by himself with his thoughts, letting his fancy roam and building his castles in the air. Right good reason had Cosimo, his master, for wishing him well, seeing that he made so much use of him in his works, that very often he caused him to execute things of great importance, knowing that Piero had a more beautiful manner, as well as better judgment, than himself. For this reason he took Piero with him to Rome, when he was summoned thither by Pope Sixtus in order to paint the scenes in his chapel; in one of which Piero executed a very beautiful landscape, as was related in the Life of Cosimo.

And since Piero drew most excellently from the life, he made in Rome many portraits of distinguished persons; in particular, those of Virginio Orsino and Ruberto Sanseverino, which he placed in the aforesaid scenes. Afterwards, also, he made a portrait of Duke Valentino, the son of Pope Alexander VI; which painting, to my knowledge, is not now to be found ; but the cartoon by his hand still exists, being in the possession of the reverend and cultured M. Cosimo Bartoli, Provost of S. Giovanni. In Florence, he painted many pictures for a number of citizens, which are dispersed among their various houses, and of such I have seen some that are very good; and so, also, various things for many other persons. In the Noviciate of S. Marco is a picture by his hand of Our Lady, standing, with the Child in her arms, coloured in oils. And for the Chapel of Gino Capponi, in the Church of S. Spirito at Florence, he painted a panel wherein is the Visitation of Our Lady, with S. Nicholas, and a S. Anthony who is reading with a pair of spectacles on his nose, a very spirited figure. Here he counterfeited a book bound in parchment, somewhat old, which seems to be real, and also some balls that he gave to the S. Nicholas, shining and casting gleams of light and reflections from one to another; from which even by that time men could perceive the strangeness of his brain, and his constant seeking after difficulties.

Even better did he show this after the death of Cosimo, when he kept himself constantly shut up, and would not let himself be seen at work, leading the life of a man who was less man than beast. He would never have his rooms swept, he would only eat when hunger came to him, and he would not let his garden be worked or his fruit trees pruned; nay, he allowed his vines to grow, and the shoots to trail over the ground, nor were his fig trees ever trimmed, or any other trees, for it pleased him to see everything wild, like his own nature; and he declared that Nature's own things should be left to her to look after, without lifting a hand to them. He set himself often to observe such animals, plants, or other things as Nature at times creates out of caprice, or by chance ; in which he found a pleasure and satisfaction that drove him quite out of his mind with delight ; and he spoke of them so often in his discourse, that at times, although he found pleasure in them, it became wearisome to others. He would sometimes stop to gaze at a wall against which sick people had been for a long time discharging their spittle, and from this he would picture to himself battles of horsemen, and the most fantastic cities and widest landscapes that were ever seen; and he did the same with the clouds in the sky.

He gave his attention to colring in oils, having seen some works of Leonardo's, executed with that gradation of color, and finished with that extraordinary diligence, which Leonardo used to employ when he wished to display his art. And so Piero, being pleased with his method, sought to imitate it, although he was afterwards very distant from Leonardo, and worlds away from any other manner. It may be said, in truth, that he changed his manner almost for every work that he executed.

If Piero had not been so solitary, and had taken more care of himself in his way of living than he did, he would have made known the greatness of his intellect in such a way that he would have been revered, whereas, by reason of his uncouth ways, he was rather held to be a madman, although in the end he did no harm save to himself alone, while his works were beneficial and useful to his art. For which reason every good intellect and every excellent craftsman should always be taught, from such an example, to keep his eyes on the end of life.

Nor will I refrain from saying that Piero, in his youth, being fanciful and extravagant in invention, was much employed for the masquerades that are held during the Carnival; and he became very dear to the young noblemen of Florence, having improved their festivals much in invention, adornment, grandeur, and pomp. As to that kind of pastime, it is said that he was one of the first to contrive to marshal them in the form of triumphal processions; at least, he improved them greatly, by accom- panying the invention of the story represented, not only with music and with words suited to the subject, but also with a train of incredible pomp, formed of men on foot and on horseback, with habits and orna- ments in keeping with the story ; which produced a very rich and beauti- ful effect, and had in it something both grand and ingenious. And it was certainly a very beautiful thing to see, by night, twenty-five or thirty pairs of horses, most richly caparisoned, with their riders in costume, according to the subject of the invention, and six or eight grooms to each rider, with torches in their hands, and all clothed in one and the same livery, sometimes more than four hundred in number; and then the chariot, or triumphal car, covered with ornaments, trophies, and most bizarre things of fancy; altogether, a thing which makes men's intellects more subtle, and gives great pleasure and satisfaction to the people.

Among these spectacles, which were numerous and ingenious, it is my pleasure to give a brief description of one, which was contrived mostly by Piero, when he was already of a mature age, and which was not, like many, pleasing through its beauty, but, on the contrary, on account of a strange, horrible, and unexpected invention, gave no little satisfaction to the people: for even as in the matter of food bitter things sometimes give marvellous delight to the human palate, so do horrible things in such pastimes, if only they be carried out with judgment and art; which is evident in the representation of tragedies. This was the Car of Death, wrought by him with the greatest secrecy in the Sala del Papa, so that nothing could ever be found out about it, until it was seen and known at one and the same moment. This triumphal chariot was an enormous car drawn by buffaloes, black all over and painted with skeletons and white crosses; and upon the highest point of the car stood a colossal figure of Death, scythe in hand, and right round the car were a number of covered tombs; and at all the places where the procession halted for the chanting of dirges, these tombs opened, and from them issued figures draped in black cloth, upon which were painted all the bones of a skeleton, over their arms, breasts, flanks, and legs; which, what with the white over the black, and the appearing in the distance of some figures carrying torches, with masks that represented a death's head both in front and behind, as well as the neck, not only gave an appearance of the greatest reality, but was also horrible and terrifying to behold. And these figures of the dead, at the sound of certain muffled trumpets, low and mournful in tone, came half out of their tombs, and, seating themselves upon them, sang to music full of melancholy that song so celebrated at the present day: "Dolor, pianto, e penitenzia." Before and after the car came a great number of the dead, riding on certain horses picked out with the greatest diligence from among the leanest and most meagre that could be found, with black caparisons covered with white crosses ; and each had four grooms draped in the garb of death, with black torches, and a large black standard with crosses, bones, and death's heads. After the car were trailed ten black standards ; and as they walked, the whole company sang in unison, with trembling voices, that Psalm of David that is called the "Miserere."

This dread spectacle, through its novelty and terror, as I have said, filled the whole city with fear and marvel together; and although at the first sight it did not seem suited to a Carnival, nevertheless, being new and very well arranged, it pleased the minds of all, and Piero, the creator and inventor of the whole, gained consummate praise and commendation for it ; and it was the reason that afterwards, going from one thing to another, men continued to contrive lively and ingenious inventions, so that in truth, for such representations and for holding similar festivals, this city has never had an equal. And in those old men who saw it there still remains a vivid memory of it, nor are they ever weary of celebrating this fantastic invention. I have heard from the lips of Andrea di Cosimo, who helped him to carry out the work, and of Andrea del Sarto, who was Piero's disciple, and who also had a hand in it, that it was a common opinion at that time that this invention was intended to foreshadow the return of the Medici family to Florence in the year 1512, since at the time when the procession was held they were exiles, and, so to speak, dead, but destined in a short time to come to life; and in this sense were interpreted the following words in the song

Morti siam come vedete,
Cosl morti vedrem voi;
Fummo gia come voi siete,
Voi sarete come noi, etc.

whereby men wished to signify the return of that family (a resurrection, as it were, from death to life), and the expulsion and abasement of their enemies; or it may have been that many gave it that significance from the subsequent fact of the return of that illustrious house to Florence so prone is the human intellect to applying every word and act that has come previously, to the events that happen afterwards. Certain it is that this was the opinion of many at that time; and it was much spoken of.
But to return to the art and actions of Piero; he was given the commission for a panel in the Church of the Servite Friars, in the Chapel of the Tedaldi, where they keep the garment and the pillow of S. Filippo, a brother of their Order; wherein he depicted Our Lady standing, raised from the ground on a pedestal, and uplifting her head towards Heaven, with a book in her hand, but without her Son ; and above her is the Holy Spirit, bathing her with light. Nor did he wish that any other light than that of the Dove should illumine her and the figures that are round her, such as a S. Margaret and a S. Catherine, who are on their knees, adoring her, while S. Peter and S. John the Evangelist are standing, contemplating her, together with S. Filippo, the Servite Friar, and S. Antonino, Archbishop of Florence. Moreover, he made there a landscape that is very bizarre, what with the strange trees and certain grottoes. And in truth, there are some very beautiful things in this work, such as certain heads that reveal both draughtsmanship and grace; besides the colouring, which is very harmonious, for it is certain that Piero was a great master of colouring in oils. In the predella he painted some little scenes, very well executed; and, among others, there is one of S. Margaret issuing from the belly of the Dragon, wherein he made that animal so monstrous and hideous, that I do not think that there is anything better of that kind to be seen, for with its eyes it reveals venom, fire, and death, in an aspect truly terrifying. And certainly, as for such things, I do not believe that any one ever did them better than he, or came near him in imagining them ; to which witness is borne by a marine monster that he made and presented to the Magnificent Giuliano de' Medici, which is so extravagant, bizarre, and fantastic in its deformity, that it seems impossible that Nature should produce anything so deformed and strange among her creations. This monster is now in the guardaroba of Duke Cosimo de' Medici, as is also a book, likewise by the hand of Piero, of animals of the same kind, most beautiful and bizarre, hatched very diligently with the pen, and finished with an incredible patience ; which book was presented to him by M. Cosimo Bartoli, Provost of S. Giovanni, who is very much my friend, as he is of all our craftsmen, being a man who has always delighted, and still delights, in our profession.

He also executed, round a chamber in the house of Francesco del Pugliese, various scenes with little figures; nor is it possible to describe the different fantastic things that he delighted to paint in all those scenes, what with the buildings, the animals, the costumes, the various instru- ments, and any other fanciful things that came into his head, since the stories were drawn from fables. These scenes, after the death of Francesco del Pugliese and his sons, were taken away, nor do I know what has become of them; and the same thing has happened to a picture of Mars and Venus, with her Loves and Vulcan, executed with great art and with an incredible patience.

Piero painted, for the elder Filippo Strozzi, a picture with little figures of Perseus delivering Andromeda from the Monster, in which are some very beautiful things. It is now in the house of Signor Sforza Almeni, First Chamberlain to Duke Cosimo, having been presented to him by Messer Giovanni Battista, the son of Lorenzo Strozzi, who knew how much that nobleman delighted in painting and sculpture; and he holds it in great account, for Piero never made a more lovely or more highly finished picture than this one, seeing that it is not possible to find a more bizarre or more fantastic sea-monster than that which Piero imagined and painted, or a fiercer attitude than that of Perseus, who is raising his sword in the air to smite the beast. In it, trembling between fear and hope, Andromeda is seen bound, most beautiful in countenance ; and in the foreground are many people in various strange costumes, playing instruments and singing ; among whom are some heads, smiling and rejoicing at seeing the deliverance of Andromeda, that are divine. The landscape is very beautiful, and the coloring sweet and full of grace. In short, with regard to the harmony and gradation of the colors, he executed this work with the greatest possible diligence.

He painted, also, a picture containing a nude Venus, with a Mars, likewise nude, who is sleeping in a meadow full of flowers, and all around are various Loves, who are carrying away, some here, some there, the helmet, armlets, and other pieces of armour of Mars ; there is a grove of myrtle, with a Cupid that is afraid of a rabbit, and there are also the Doves of Venus and the other emblems of Love. This picture is at Florence, in the house of Giorgio Vasari, who keeps it in memory of that master, whose caprices have always pleased him.

The Director of the Hospital of the Innocenti was much the friend of Piero ; and wishing to have a panel painted, which was to be placed in the Pugliese Chapel, near the entrance into the church, on the left hand, he gave the commission for it to Piero, who brought it to completion at his leisure ; but first he reduced his patron to despair, for on no account would he let him see it until it was finished. How strange this seemed to the patron, both because of their friendship, and because of his supplying Piero continually with money, without seeing what was being done, he himself showed, when, on the occasion of the final payment, he refused to give it to him without seeing the work. But, on Piero threatening that he would destroy all that he had painted, he was forced to give him the rest, and to wait patiently, in a greater rage than ever, for it to be set in place. This picture contains much that is truly beautiful.

He undertook to paint a panel for a chapel in the Church of S. Piero Gattolini, and in this he represented Our Lady seated, with four figures round her, and two angels in the sky, who are crowning her ; which work, executed with such diligence that it brought him praise and honour, is now to be seen in S. Friano, the other church having been ruined. For the tramezzo of the Church of S. Francesco, at Fiesole, he painted a little panel picture of the Conception, which is a passing good little work, the figures being of no great size. For Giovanni Vespucci, who lived in a house now belonging to Piero Salviati, opposite to S. Michele, in the Via de' Servi, he executed some bacchanalian scenes, which are round an apartment; wherein he made such strange fauns, satyrs, sylvan gods, little boys, and bacchanals, that it is a marvel to see the diversity of the bay horses and garments, and the variety of the goatlike features, and all with great grace and most vivid truth to nature. In one scene is Silenus riding on an ass, with many children, some supporting him, and some giving him drink; and throughout the whole is a feeling of the joy of life, produced by the great genius of Piero. And in truth, in all that there is to be seen by his hand, one recognizes a spirit very different and far distant from that of other painters, and a certain subtlety in the investigation of some of the deepest and most subtle secrets of Nature, without grudging time or labor, but only for his own delight and for his pleasure in the art. And it could not well be otherwise; since, having grown enamored of her, he cared nothing for his own comfort, and reduced himself to eating nothing but boiled eggs, which, in order to save firing, he cooked when he was boiling his glue, and not six or eight at a time, but in fifties; and, keeping them in a basket, he would eat them one by one.

In this life he found such peculiar pleasure that any other, in comparison with his own, seemed to him slavery. He could not bear the crying of children, the coughing of men, the sound of bells, and the chanting of friars; and when the rain was pouring in torrents from the sky, it pleased him to see it streaming straight down from the roofs and splashing on the ground. He had the greatest terror of lightning; and, when he heard very loud thunder, he wrapped himself in his mantle, and, having closed the windows and the door of the room, he crouched in a corner until the storm should pass. He was very varied and original in his discourse, and sometimes said such beautiful things, that he made his hearers burst with laughter. But when he was old, and near the age of eighty, he had become so strange and eccentric that nothing could be done with him. He would not have assistants standing round him, so that his misanthropy had robbed him of all possible aid. He was sometimes seized by a desire to work, but was not able, by reason of the palsy, and fell into such a rage that he tried to force his hands to labor; but, as he muttered to himself, the mahl-stick fell from his grasp, and even his brushes, so that it was pitiable to behold. Flies enraged him, and even shadows annoyed him. And so, having become ill through old age, he was visited by one or two friends, who besought him to make his peace with God; but he would not believe that he was dying, and put them off from one day to another; not that he was hard of heart, or an unbeliever, for he was a most zealous Christian, although his life was that of a beast. He discoursed at times on the torments of those ills that destroy men's bodies, and of the suffering endured by those who come to die with their strength wasting away little by little, which he called a great affliction.

He spoke evil of physicians, apothecaries, and those who nurse the sick, saying that they cause them to die of hunger; besides the tortures of syrups, medicines, clysters, and other martyrdoms, such as not being allowed to sleep when you are drowsy, making your will, seeing your relatives round you, and staying in a dark room. He praised death by the hand of justice, saying that it was a fine thing to go to your death in that way; to see the broad sky about you, and all that throng; to be comforted with sweetmeats and with kind words; to have the priest and the people praying for you; and to go into Paradise with the Angels; so that whoever departed from this life at one blow, was very fortunate. And as he discoursed, he would twist everything to the strangest meanings that were ever heard. Wherefore, living in such strange fashion, he reduced himself to such a state with his extravagant fancies, that one morning he was found dead at the foot of a staircase, in the year 1521; and he was given burial in S. Piero Maggiore.

His disciples were many, and one among them was Andrea del Sarto, who was a host in himself. Piero's portrait I received from Francesco da San Gallo, who was much his friend and intimate companion, and who made it when Piero was old; which Francesco still has a work by the hand of Piero that I must not pass by, a very beautiful head of Cleopatra, with an asp wound round her neck, and two portraits, one of his father Giuliano, and the other of his grandfather Francesco Giamberti, which seem to be alive.

 

 

 

DONATO BRAMANTE (1444-1514)
ARCHITECT

Vasari's Lives of the Artists



OF VERY GREAT ADVANTAGE to architecture, in truth, was the new method of Filippo Brunelleschi, who imitated and restored to the light, after many ages, the noble works of the most learned and marvellous ancients. But no less useful to our age was Bramante, in following the footsteps of Filippo, and making the path of his profession of architecture secure for all who came after him, by means of his courage, boldness, intellect, and science in that art, wherein he had the mastery not of theory only, but of supreme skill and practice. Nor could nature have created a more vigorous intellect, or one to exercise his art and carry it into execution with greater invention and proportion, or with a more thorough knowledge, than Bramante. But no less essential than all this was the election to the Pontificate, at that time, of Julius II, a Pope of great spirit, full of desire to leave memorials behind him. And it was fortunate both for us and for Bramante that he found such a Prince (a thing which rarely happens to men of great genius), at whose expense he might be able to display the worth of his intellect, and that mastery over difficulties which he showed in architecture. His ability was so universal in the buildings that he erected, that the outlines of the cornices, the shafts of the columns, the graceful capitals, the bases, the consoles and corners, the vaults, the staircases, the projections, and every detail of every Order of architecture, contrived from the counsel or model of this craftsman, never failed to astonish all who saw them. Wherefore it appears to me that the everlasting gratitude which is due to the ancients from the intellects that study their works, is also due from them to the labors of Bramante; for if the Greeks were the inventors of architecture, and the Romans their imitators, Bramante not only imitated what he saw, with new invention, and taught it to us, but also added very great beauty and elaboration to the art, which we see embellished by him at the present day.

He was born at Castel Durante, in the State of Urbino, of poor but honest parentage. In his boyhood, besides reading and writing, he gave much attention to arithmetic; but his father, who had need that he should earn money, perceiving that he delighted much in drawing, applied him, when still a mere boy, to the art of painting; whereupon Bramante gave much study to the works of Fra Bartolommeo, otherwise called Fra Carnovale da Urbino, who painted the panel picture of S. Maria della Bella at Urbino. But since he always delighted in architecture and perspective, he departed from Castel Durante, and made his way to Lombardy, where he went now to one city, and now to another, working as best he could, but not on things of great cost or much credit, having as yet neither name nor reputation. For this reason he determined at least to see some noteworthy work, and betook himself to Milan, in order to see the Duomo. In that city there was then living one Cesare Cesariano, reputed to be a good geometrician and an able architect, who wrote a commentary on Vitruvius, and, out of despair at not having received for this the remuneration that he had expected, became so strange that he would work no more; and, having grown almost savage, he died more like a beast than like a human being. There was also one Bernardino da Trevio, a Milanese, engineer and architect for the Duomo, and an excellent draughtsman, who was held by Leonardo da Vinci to be a rare master, although his manner was rather crude and somewhat hard in painting. By his hand is a Resurrection of Christ to be seen at the upper end of the cloister of the Grazie, with some very beautiful foreshortenings; and a chapel in fresco in S. Francesco, containing the deaths of S. Peter and S. Paul. He painted many other works in Milan, and he also made a good number in the surrounding district, which are held in esteem; and in our book there is a head of a very beautiful woman, in charcoal and lead white, which still bears witness to the manner that he followed.

But to return to Bramante; having studied that building, and having come to know those engineers, he so took courage, that he resolved to devote himself wholly to architecture. Having therefore departed from Milan, he betook himself, just before the holy year of 1500, to Rome, where he was recognized by some friends, both from his own country and from Lombardy, and received a commission to paint, over the Porta Santa of S. Giovanni Laterano, which is opened for the Jubilee, the coat of arms of Pope Alexander VI, to be executed in fresco, with angels and other figures acting as supporters.

Bramante had brought some money from Lombardy, and he earned some more in Rome by executing certain works; and this he spent with the greatest economy, since he wished to be able to live independently, and at the same time, without having to work, to be free to take measure- ments, at his ease, of all the ancient buildings in Rome. And having put his hand to this, he set out, alone with his thoughts; and within no great space of time he had measured all the buildings in that city and in the Campagna without ; and he went as far as Naples, and wherever he knew that there were antiquities. He measured all that was at Tivoli and in the Villa of Hadrian, and, as will be related afterwards in the proper place, made great use of it. The mind of Bramante becoming known in this way, the Cardinal of Naples, having noticed him, began to favour him. Whereupon, while Bramante was continuing his studies, the desire came to the said Cardinal to have the cloister of the Frati della Pace rebuilt in travertine, and he gave the charge of this cloister to Bramante, and he, desiring to earn money and to gain the good will of that Cardinal, set himself to work with all possible industry and diligence, and brought it quickly to perfect completion. And although it was not a work of perfect beauty, it gave him a very great name, since there were not many in Rome who followed the profession of architecture with such zeal, study, and resolution as Bramante.

At the beginning he served as under-architect to Pope Alexander VI for the fountain of Trastevere, and likewise for that which was made on the Piazza di S. Pietro. He also took part, together with other excellent architects, when his reputation had increased, in the planning of a great part of the Palace of S. Giorgio, and of the Church of S. Lorenzo in Damaso, at the commission of Raffaello Riario, Cardinal of S. Giorgio, near the Campo di Fiore; which palace, whatever better work may have been executed afterwards, nevertheless was and still is held, on account of its greatness, to be a commodious and magnificent habitation ; and the building of this edifice was carried out by one Antonio Montecavallo. Bramante was consulted with regard to the enlargement of S. Jacopo degli Spagnuoli, on the Piazza Navona, and likewise in the deliberations for the building of S. Maria de Anima, which was afterwards carried out by a German architect. From his design, also, was the Palace of Cardinal Adriano da Corneto in the Borgo Nuovo, which was built slowly, and then finally remained unfinished by reason of the flight of that Cardinal ; and in like manner, the enlargement of the principal chapel of S. Maria del Popolo was executed from his design.

These works brought him so much credit in Rome, that he was considered the best architect, in that he was resolute, prompt, and most fertile in invention; and he was continually employed by all the great persons in that city for their most important undertakings. Wherefore, after Julius II had been elected Pope, in the year 1503, he entered into his service. The fancy had taken that Pontiff to so transform the space that lay between the Belvedere and the Papal Palace, as to give it the aspect of a square theatre, embracing a little valley that ran between the old Papal Palace and the new buildings that Innocent VIII had erected as a habitation for the Popes; and he intended, by means of two corridors, one on either side of this little valley, to make it possible to go from the Belvedere to the Palace under loggie, and also to go from the Palace to the Belvedere in the same way, and likewise, by means of various flights of steps, to ascend to the level of the Belvedere. Whereupon Bramante, who had very good judgment and an inventive genius in such matters, distributed two ranges of columns along the lowest part; first, a very beautiful Doric loggia, similar to the Colosseum of the Savelli (although, in place of half-columns, he used pilasters), and all built of travertine ; and over this a second range of the Ionic Order, full of windows, of such a height as to come to the level of the first-floor rooms of the Papal Palace, and to the level of those of the Belvedere; intending to make, afterwards, a loggia more than four hundred paces long on the side towards Rome, and likewise another on the side towards the wood, with which, one on either hand, he proposed to enclose the valley ; into which, after it had been levelled, was to be brought all the water from the Belvedere; and for this a very beautiful fountain was to be made. Of this design, Bramante finished the first corridor, which issues from the Palace and leads to the Belvedere on the side towards Rome, except the upper loggia, which was to go above it. As for the opposite part, on the side towards the wood, the foundations, indeed, were laid, but it could not be finished, being interrupted by the death of Julius, and then by that of Bramante. His design was held to be so beautiful in invention, that it was believed that from the time of the ancients until that day, Rome had seen nothing better. But of the other corridor, as has been said, he left only the foundations, and the labor of finishing it has dragged on down to our own day, when Pius IV has brought it almost to completion.

Bramante also erected the head-wall of the Museum of ancient statues in the Belvedere, together with the range of niches ; wherein were placed, in his life-time, the Laocoon, one of the rarest of ancient statues, the Apollo, and the Venus; and the rest of the statues were set up there afterwards by Leo X, such as the Tiber, the Nile, and the Cleopatra, with some others added by Clement VII; and in the time of Paul III and Julius III many important improvements were made, at great expense.

But to return to Bramante; he was very resolute, although he was hindered by the avarice of those who supplied him with the means to work, and he had a marvellous knowledge of the craft of building. This construction at the Belvedere was executed by him with extraordinary speed, and such was his eagerness as he worked, and that of the Pope, who would have liked to see the edifice spring up from the ground, without needing to be built, that the builders of the foundations brought the sand and the solid foundation-clay by night and let * [* The word "calavano" has been substituted here for the "cavavano" of the text, which gives no sense.] it down by day in the presence of Bramante, who caused the foundations to be made without seeing anything more of the work. This inadvertence was the reason that all his buildings have cracked, and are in danger of falling down, as did this same corridor,, of which a piece eighty braccia in length fell to the ground in the time of Clement VII, and was afterwards rebuilt by Pope Paul III, who also had the foundations restored and the whole strengthened.

From his design, also, are many flights of steps in the Belvedere, varied according to their situations, whether high or low, in the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian Orders a very beautiful work, executed with extraordinary grace. And he had made a model for the whole, which is said to have been a marvellous thing, as may still be imagined from the beginning of the work, unfinished as it is. Moreover, he made a spiral staircase upon mounting columns, in such a way that one can ascend it on horseback; wherein the Doric passes into the Ionic, and the Ionic into the Corinthian, rising from one into the other; a work executed with supreme grace, and with truly excellent art, which does him no less honour than any other thing by his hand that is therein. This invention was copied by Bramante from S. Niccolo at Pisa, as was said in the Lives of Giovanni and Niccola of Pisa.

The fancy took Bramante to make, in a frieze on the outer f agade of the Belvedere, some letters after the manner of ancient hieroglyphics, representing the name of the Pope and his own, in order to show his ingenuity : and he had begun thus, " Julio II, Pont. Massimo," having caused a head in profile of Julius Caesar to be made, and a bridge, with two arches, which signified, " Julio II, Pont./' and an obelisk from the Circus Maximus, to represent " Max." At which the Pope laughed, and caused him to make the letters in the ancient manner, one braccio in height, which are there at the present day ; saying that he had copied this folly from a door at Viterbo, over which one Maestro Francesco, an architect, had placed his name, carved in the architrave, and represented by a S. Francis (S. Francesco), an arch (arco), a roof (tetto), and a tower (torre), which, interpreted in his own way, denoted, "Maestro Francesco Architettore." The Pope, on account of his ability in architecture, was very well disposed towards him.

For these reasons he was rightly held worthy by the aforesaid Pope, who loved him very dearly for his great gifts, to be appointed to the Office of the Piombo, for which he made a machine for printing Bulls, with a very beautiful screw. In the service of that Pontiff Bramante went to Bologna, in the year 1504, when that city returned to the Church; and he occupied himself, throughout the whole war against Mirandola, on many ingenious things of the greatest importance. He made many designs for ground-plans and complete buildings, which he drew very well; and of such there are some to be seen in our book, accurately drawn and executed with very great art. He taught many of the rules of architecture to Raffaello da Urbino; designing for him, for example, the buildings that Raffaello afterwards drew in perspective in that apartment of the Pope wherein there is Mount Parnassus ; in which apartment he made a portrait of Bramante taking measurements with a pair of compasses.

The Pope resolved, having had the Strada Julia straightened out by Bramante, to place in it all the public offices and tribunals of Rome, on account of the convenience which this would bring to the merchants in their business, which up to that time had always been much hindered. Wherefore Bramante made a beginning with the palace that is to be seen by S. Biagio sul Tevere, wherein there is still an unfinished Corinthian temple, a thing of rare excellence. The rest of this beginning is in rustic work, and most beautiful; and it is a great pity that a work so honourable, useful, and magnificent, which is held by the masters of the profession to be the most beautiful example of design in that kind that has ever been seen, should not have been finished. He made, also, in the first cloister of S. Pietro a Montorio, a round temple of travertine, than which nothing more shapely or better conceived, whether in proportion, design, variety, or grace, could be imagined; and even more beautiful would it have been, if the whole extent of the cloister, which is not finished, had been brought to the form that is to be seen in a drawing by his hand. He directed the building, in the Borgo, of the palace which afterwards belonged to Raffaello da Urbino, executed with bricks and mould castings, the columns and bosses being of the Doric Order and of rustic work a very beautiful work with a new invention in the making of these castings. He also made the design and preparations for the decoration of S. Maria at Loreto, which was afterwards continued by Andrea Sansovino; and an endless number of models for palaces and temples, which are in Rome and throughout the States of the Church.

So sublime was the intellect of this marvellous craftsman,, that he made a vast design for restoring and rearranging the Papal Palace. And so greatly had his courage grown, on seeing the powers and desires of the Pope rise to the level of his own wishes and genius, that, hearing that he was minded to throw the Church of S. Pietro to the ground, in order to build it anew, he made him an endless number of designs. And among those that he made was one that was very wonderful, wherein he showed the greatest possible judgment, with two bell-towers, one on either side of the facade, as we see it in the coins afterwards struck for Julius II and Leo X by Caradosso, a most excellent goldsmith, who had no peer in making dies, as may still be seen from the medal of Bramante, executed by him, which is very beautiful. And so, the Pope having resolved to make a beginning with the vast and sublime structure of S. Pietro, Bramante caused half of the old church to be pulled down, and put his hand to the work, with the intention that it should surpass, in beauty, art, invention, and design, as well as in grandeur, richness, and adornment, all the buildings that had been erected in that city by the power of the Commonwealth, and by the art and intellect of so many able masters ; and with his usual promptness he laid the foundations, and carried the greater part of the building, before the death of the Pope and his own, to the height of the cornice, where are the arches to all the four piers ; and these he turned with supreme expedition and art. He also executed the vaulting of the principal chapel, where the recess is, giving his attention at the same time to pressing on the building of the chapel that is called the Chapel of the King of France.

For this work he invented the method of casting vaults in wooden moulds, in such a manner that patterns of friezes and foliage, like carvings, come out in the plaster ; and in the arches of this edifice he showed how they could be turned with flying scaffoldings, a method that we have since seen followed by Antonio da San Gallo. In the part that was finished by him, the cornice that runs right round the interior is seen to be so graceful, that no other man's hand could take away or alter any- thing from its design without spoiling it. It is evident from his capitals, which are of olive leaves within, and from all the Doric work on the outer side, which is extraordinarily beautiful, how sublime was the courage of Bramante, whereby, in truth, if he had possessed physical powers equal to the intellect that adorned his spirit, he would most certainly have achieved even more unexampled things than he did. This work, as will be related in the proper places, since his death and down to the present day, has been much mutilated by other architects, insomuch that it may be said that with the exception of four arches which support the tribune, nothing of his has remained there. For Raffaello da Urbino and Giuliano da San Gallo, who carried on the work after the death of Julius II, together with Fra Giocondo of Verona, thought fit to begin to alter it; and after the death of those masters, Baldassarre Peruzzi, in building the Chapel of the King of France, in the transept on the side towards the Campo Santo, changed Bramante's design ; and under Paul III Antonio da San Gallo changed it again entirely. Finally, Michelagnolo Buonarroti, sweeping away the countless opinions and superfluous expenses, has brought it to such beauty and perfection as not one of those others ever thought of, which all comes from his judgment and power of design ; although he said to me several times that he was only the executor of the design and arrangements of Bramante, seeing that he who originally lays the foundations of a great edifice is its true creator. Vast, indeed, seemed the conception of Bramante in this work, and he gave it a very great beginning, which, even if he had begun on a smaller scale, neither San Gallo nor the others, nor even Buonarroti, would have had enough power of design to increase, although they were able to diminish it; so immense, stupendous, and magnificent was this edifice, and yet Bramante had conceived something even greater.

It is said that he was so eager to see this structure making progress, that he pulled down many beautiful things in S. Pietro, such as tombs of Popes, paintings, and mosaics, and that for this reason we have lost all trace of many portraits of distinguished persons, which were scattered throughout that church, which was the principal church of all Christendom. He preserved only the altar of S. Pietro, and the old tribune, round which he made a most beautiful ornament of the Doric Order, all of peperino-stone, to the end that when the Pope came to S. Pietro to say Mass, he might be able to stand within it with all his Court and with the Ambassadors of the Christian Princes; but death prevented him from finishing it entirely, and the Sienese Baldassarre afterwards brought it to completion.

Bramante was a very merry and pleasant person, ever delighting to help his neighbor. He was very much the friend of men of ability, and favored them in whatever way he could; as may be seen from his kindness to the gracious Raffaello da Urbino, most celebrated of painters, whom he brought to Rome. He always lived in the greatest splendor, doing honor to himself; and in the rank to which his merits had raised him, what he possessed was nothing to what he would have been able to spend. He delighted in poetry, and loved to improvise upon the lyre, or to hear others doing this: and he composed some sonnets, if not as polished as we now demand them, at least weighty and without faults. He was much esteemed by the prelates, and was received by an endless number of noblemen who made his acquaintance. In his lifetime he had very great renown, and even greater after his death, because of which the building of S. Pietro was interrupted for many years. He lived to the age of seventy, and he was borne to his tomb in Rome, with most honorable obsequies, by the Court of the Pope and by all the sculptors, architects, and painters. He was buried in S. Pietro, in the year 1514.

Very great was the loss that architecture suffered in the death of Bramante, who was the discoverer of many good methods wherewith he enriched that art, such as the invention of casting vaults, and the secret of stucco; both of which were known to the ancients, but had been lost until his time through the ruin of their buildings. And those who occupy themselves with measuring ancient works of architecture, find in the works of Bramante no less science and design than in any of the former; wherefore, among those who are versed in the profession, he can be accounted one of the rarest intellects that have adorned our age. He left behind him an intimate friend, Giuliano Leno, who had much to do with the buildings of his time, but was employed rather to make preparations and to carry out the wishes of whoever designed them, than to work on his own account, although he had judgment and great experience.

During his lifetime, Bramante employed in his works one Ventura, a carpenter of Pistoia, who was a man of very good ability, and drew passing well. This Ventura, while in Rome, delighted much in taking measurements of antiquities; and afterwards, wishing to live once more in his native place, he returned to Pistoia. Now it happened in that city, in the year 1509, that a Madonna, which is now called the Madonna della Umilta, worked miracles; and since many offerings were brought to her, the Signoria that was then governing the city determined to build a temple in her honor. Whereupon Ventura, confronted with this opportunity, made with his own hand a model of an octagonal temple . . .* braccia in breadth and . . . braccia in height [* These numbers are missing from the text.], with a vestibule or closed portico in front, very ornate within and truly beautiful. This having given satisfaction to the Signoria and to the chief men of the city, the building was begun according to the plans of Ventura, who, having laid the foundations of the vestibule and the temple, completely finished the vestibule, which he made very rich in pilasters and cornices of the Corinthian Order, with other carved stonework; while all the vaults in that work were made in like manner, with squares surrounded by mouldings, also in stone, and filled with rosettes.

Afterwards, the octagonal temple was also carried to the height of the last cornice, from which the vaulting of the tribune was to rise, during the lifetime of Ventura ; and since he was not very experienced in works of that size, he did not consider how the weight of the tribune might be safely laid on the building, but made within the thickness of the wall, at the first range of windows, and at the second, where the others are, a passage that runs right round, whereby he contrived to weaken the walls so much, that, the edifice being without buttresses at the base, it was dangerous to raise a vault over it, and particularly on the angles at the corners, upon which all the weight of the vault of that tribune must rest. Wherefore, after the death of Ventura, there was no architect with courage enough to raise that vault: nay, they had caused long and stout beams of timber to be brought to the place, in order to make a tent-shaped roof; but this did not please the citizens, and they would not have it put into execution. And so the building remained for many years without a roof, until, in the year 1561, the Wardens of Works besought Duke Cosimo that his Excellency should so favor them as to cause that tribune to be vaulted.

Whereupon, in order to meet their wishes, the Duke ordered Giorgio Vasari to go there and see whether he could find some method of vaulting it; and he, having done this, made a model raising the building to the height of eight braccia above the cornice that Ventura had left, in order to make buttresses for it; and he decreased the breadth of the passage that runs right round between the walls, and reinforced the building with buttresses, besides binding the corners and the parts below the passages that Ventura had made, between the windows, with stout keys of iron, double at the angles; which secured the whole in such a manner that the vault could be raised with safety. Whereupon his Excellency was pleased to visit the place, and, being satisfied with everything, gave orders for the work to be executed; and so all the buttresses have been built, and a beginning has already been made with the raising of the cupola. Thus, then, the work of Ventura will become richer, greater in size and adornment, and better in proportions; but he truly deserves to have record made of him, since that building is the most noteworthy modern work in the city of Pistoia.

 

 

 

FRA BARTOLOMMEO (1472-1517)
PAINTER OF FLORENCE

Vasari's Lives of the Artists



NEAR THE TERRITORY OF PRATO, which is ten miles distant from Florence, in a village called Savignano, was born Bartolommeo, known, according to the Tuscan custom, by the name of Baccio. He, having shown in his childhood not merely inclination, but also aptitude, for drawing, was placed, through the good services of Benedetto da Maiano, with Cosimo Rosselli, and lodged in the house of some relatives of his own, who lived at the Porta a S. Piero Gattolini; where he stayed for many years, so that he was never called or known by any other name than that of Baccio della Porta.

After taking his leave of Cosimo Rosselli, he began to study with great devotion the works of Leonardo da Vinci; and in a short time he made such proficience and such progress in coloring, that he acquired the name and reputation of being one of the best young men of his art, both in coloring and in drawing. He had a companion in Mariotto Albertinelli, who in a short time acquired his manner passing well; and together with him he executed many pictures of Our Lady, which are scattered throughout Florence. To speak of all these would take too long, and I will mention only some excellently painted by Baccio. There is one, containing a Madonna, in the house of Filippo di Averardo Salviati, which is most beautiful, and which he holds very dear and in great price. Another was bought not long since, at a sale of old furniture, by Pier Maria delle Pozze, a person greatly devoted to pictures, who, having recognized its beauty, will not let it go for any sum of money; in which work is a Madonna executed with extraordinary diligence. Piero del Pugliese had a little Madonna of marble, in very low relief, a very rare work by the hand of Donatello, for which, in order to do it honour, he caused a wooden tabernacle to be made, with two little doors to enclose it. This he gave to Baccio della Porta, who painted, on the inner side of the doors, two little scenes, of which one was the Nativity of Christ, and the other His Circumcision ; which Baccio executed with little figures after the manner of miniatures, in such a way that it would not be possible to do better work in oils; and then he painted Our Lady receiving the Annunciation from the Angel, in chiaroscuro, and likewise in oils, on the outer side of the same little doors, so as to be seen when they are closed. This work is now in the study of Duke Cosimo, wherein he keeps all his little antique figures of bronze, medals, and other rare pictures in miniature; and it is treasured by his most illustrious Excellency as a rare thing, as indeed it is.

Baccio was beloved in Florence for his virtues, for he was assiduous in his work, quiet and good by nature, and a truly God-fearing man; he had a great liking for a life of peace, and he shunned vicious company, delighted much in hearing sermons, and always sought the society of learned and serious persons. And in truth, it is seldom that nature creates a man of good parts and a gentle craftsman, without also providing him, after some time, with peace and favour, as she did for Baccio, who, as will be told below, obtained all that he desired. The report having spread abroad that he was no less good than able, his fame so increased that he was commissioned by Gerozzo di Monna Venna Dini to paint the chapel wherein the bones of the dead are kept, in the cemetery of the Hospital of S. Maria Nuova. There he began a Judgment in fresco, which he executed with such diligence and beauty of manner in the part which he finished, that he acquired extraordinary fame thereby, in addition to what he had already, and became greatly celebrated, on account of his having represented with excellent conceptions the Glory of Paradise, and Christ with the twelve Apostles judging the twelve Tribes, wherein the figures are soft in coloring and most beautifully draped. Moreover, in those figures that are being dragged to Hell, in the part that was designed but left unfinished, one sees the despair, grief, and shame of everlasting death, even as one perceives contentment and gladness in those that are being saved; although this work remained unfinished, since Baccio was inclined to give his attention more to religion than to painting.

For there was living in S. Marco, at this time, Fra Girolamo Savonarola of Ferrara, of the Order of Preaching Friars, a very famous theologian; and Baccio, going continually to hear his preaching, on account of the devotion that he felt for him, contracted a very strait intimacy with him, and passed almost all his time in the convent, having also become the friend of the other friars. Now it happened that Fra Girolamo, continuing his preaching, and crying out every day from the pulpit that lascivious pictures, music, and amorous books often lead the mind to evil, became convinced that it was not right to keep in houses where there were young girls painted figures of naked men and women. And at the next Carnival when it was the custom in the city to make little huts of faggots and other kinds of wood on the public squares, and on the Tuesday evening, according to ancient use, to burn these, with amorous dances, in which men and women, joining hands, danced round these fires, singing certain airs the people were so inflamed by Fra Girolamo, and he wrought upon them so strongly with his words, that on that day they brought to the place a vast quantity of nude figures, both in painting and in sculpture, many by the hand of excellent masters, and likewise books, lutes, and volumes of songs, which was a most grievous loss, particularly for painting. Thither Baccio carried all the drawings of nudes that he had made by way of studies, and he was followed by Lorenzo di Credi and by many others, who had the name of Piagnoni.

And it was not long before Baccio, on account of the affection that he bore to Fra Girolamo, made a very beautiful portrait of him in a picture, which was then taken to Ferrara; but not long ago it came back to Florence, and it is now in the house of Filippo di Alamanno Salviati, who, since it is by the hand of Baccio, holds it very dear. It happened, after this, that one day the opponents of Fra Girolamo rose against him, in order to take him and deliver him over to the hands of justice, on account of the disturbances that he had caused in the city; and his friends, seeing this, also banded themselves together, to the number of more than five hundred, and shut themselves up in S. Marco, and Baccio with them, on account of the great affection that he had for their party. It is true that, being a person of little courage, nay, even timorous and mean-spirited, and hearing an attack being made a little time after this on the convent, and men being wounded and killed, he began to have serious doubts about himself. For which reason he made a vow that if he were to escape from that turmoil, he would straightway assume the habit of that Order; which vow he carried out afterwards most faithfully, for when the uproar had ceased, and Fra Girolamo had been taken and condemned to death, as the writers of history relate with more detail, Baccio betook himself to Prato and became a monk in S. Domenico, in that city, on July 26, in the year 1500, as is found written in the chronicles of that same convent in which he assumed the habit; to the great displeasure of all his friends, who were grieved beyond measure at having lost him, and particularly because they heard that he had taken it into his head to forsake his painting.

Whereupon Mariotto Albertinelli, his friend and companion, at the entreaties of Gerozzo Dini, took over the materials of Fra Bartolommeo which was the name given by the Prior to Baccio, on investing him with the habit and brought to completion the work of the Ossa in S. Maria Nuova; where he portrayed from life the Director of the Hospital at that time, and some friars skilled in surgery, with Gerozzo, the patron of the work, and his wife, full length figures on their knees, upon the walls on either side; and in a nude figure that is seated, he portrayed Giuliano Bugiardini, his pupil, as a young man, with long locks according to the custom of that time, in which each separate hair might be counted, so carefully are they painted. He made there, likewise, his own portrait, in the head, with long locks, of a figure that is issuing from one of the tombs; and in that work, in the region of the blessed, there is also the portrait of Fra Giovanni da Fiesole, the painter, whose Life we have written. This painting was executed wholly in fresco, both by Fra Bartolommeo and by Mariotto, so that it has remained, and still remains, marvellously fresh, and is held in esteem by craftsmen, since it is scarcely possible to do better in that kind of work.

When Fra Bartolommeo had been many months in Prato, he was sent by his superiors to take up his abode in S. Marco at Florence, and on account of his virtues he was received very warmly by the friars of that convent. In those days Bernardo del Bianco had caused to be erected, in the Badia of Florence, a chapel of greystone, full of carving, and very rich and beautiful, from the design of Benedetto da Rovezzano: which chapel was and still is much esteemed on account of some ornamental work of great variety, wherein Benedetto Buglioni placed, in some niches, angels and other figures made of glazed terracotta, in the round, to adorn it the more, with friezes containing cherubs and the devices of Bianco. And Bernardo, wishing to set up in the chapel a panel picture that should be worthy of that adornment, and conceiving the idea that Fra Bartolommeo would be the right man for the work, sought in every possible way, through the intervention of his friends, to persuade him. Fra Bartolommeo was living in his convent, giving his attention to nothing save the divine offices and the duties of his Rule, although often besought by the Prior and by his dearest friends that he should work again at his painting; and for more than four years he had refused to touch a brush. But on this occasion, being pressed by Bernardo del Bianco, at length he began the panel picture of S. Bernard, in which the Saint is writing, and gazing with such deep contemplation at the Madonna, with the Child in her arms, being borne by many angels and children, all colored with great delicacy, that there is clearly perceived in him a certain celestial quality, I know not what, which seems, to him who studies it with attention, to shine out over that work, into which Baccio put much diligence and love; not to mention an arch executed in fresco, which is above it. He also made some pictures for Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici; and for Agnolo Doni he painted a picture of Our Lady, which stands on the altar of a chapel in his house a work of extraordinary beauty.

At this time the painter Raffaelo da Urbino came to Florence to study his art, and taught the best principles of perspective to Fra Bartolommeo; and desiring to acquire the friar's manner of colouring, and being pleased with his handling of colors and his method of harmonizing them, Raffaello was always in his company. Fra Bartolommeo painted about the same time, in S. Marco at Florence, a panel with an infinite number of figures, which is now in the possession of the King of France, having been presented to him after being exposed to view for many months in S. Marco. Afterwards, he painted another in that convent, containing an endless number of figures, in place of the one that was sent into France; in which picture are some children who are flying in the air and holding open a canopy, executed with such good drawing and art, and with such strong relief, that they appear to stand out from the panel, while the coloring of the flesh reveals that beauty and excellence which every able craftsman seeks to give to his pictures; and this work is still considered at the present day to be most excellent.

In it are many figures surrounding a Madonna, all most admirable, and executed with grace, feeling, boldness, spirit, and vivacity; and colored, moreover, in so striking a manner, that they seem to be in relief, since he wished to show that he was able not only to draw, but also to give his figures force and make them stand out by means of the darkness of the shadows, as may be seen in some children who are round a canopy, upholding it, who, as they fly through the air, almost project from the panel. Besides this, there is an Infant Christ who is marrying S. Catherine the Nun, than which it would not be possible to paint anything more lifelike with the dark colouring that he used. There is a circle of saints on one side diminishing in perspective, round the depth of a great recess, who are distributed with such fine design that they seem to be real; and the same may be seen on the other side. And in truth, in this manner of coloring, he imitated to a great extent the works of Leonardo; particularly in the darks, for which he used printer's smoke-black and the black of burnt ivory.

This panel has now become much darker than it was when he painted it, on account of those blacks, which have kept growing heavier and darker. In the foreground, among the principal figures, he made a S. George in armor, who has a standard in his hand, a bold, spirited, and vivacious figure, in a beautiful attitude. There is also a S. Bartholomew, standing, a figure that deserves the highest praise; with two children who are playing, one on a lute, and the other on a lyre, one of whom he made with a leg drawn up and his instrument resting upon it, and with the hands touching the strings in the act of running over them, an ear intent on the harmony, the head upraised, and the mouth slightly open, in such a way that whoever beholds him cannot persuade himself that he should not also hear the voice. No less lifelike is the other, who, leaning on one side, and bending over with one ear to the lyre, appears to be listening to learn how far it is in accord with the sound of the lute and the voice, while, with his eyes fixed on the ground, and his ear turned intently towards his companion, who is playing and singing, he seeks to follow in harmony with the air. These conceptions and expressions are truly ingenious; the children, who are seated, and clothed in veiling, are marvellous and executed with great industry by the practised hand of Fra Bartolommeo; and the whole work is brought out into strong relief by a fine gradation of dark shadows.

A little time afterwards he painted another panel, to stand opposite to the former, and containing a Madonna surrounded by some saints, which is held to be a good work. He won extraordinary praise for having introduced a method of blending the colouring of his figures in such a way as to add a marvellous degree of harmony to art, making them appear to be in relief and alive, and executing them with supreme perfection of manner.

Hearing much of the noble works made in Rome by Michelagnolo, and likewise those of the gracious Raffaello, and being roused by the fame, which was continually reaching him, of the marvels wrought by those two divine craftsmen, with leave from his Prior he betook himself to Rome. There he was entertained by Fra Mariano Fetti, Friar of the Piombo, for whom he painted two pictures of S. Peter and S. Paul at his Convent of S. Silvestro a Monte Cavallo. But since he did not succeed in working as well in the air of Rome as he had done in that of Florence, while the vast number of works that he saw, what with the ancient and the modern, bewildered him so that much of the ability and excellence that he believed himself to possess, fell away from him, he determined to depart, leaving to Raffaello the charge of finishing one of those pictures, that of S. Peter, which he had not completed; which picture was retouched all over by the hand of the marvellous Raffaello, and given to Fra Mariano.

Thus, then, Fra Bartolommeo returned to Florence. There he had been accused many times of not knowing how to paint nudes; for which reason he resolved to put himself to the test, and to show by means of his labor that he was as well fitted as any other master for the highest achievements of his art. Whereupon, to prove this, he painted a picture of S. Sebastian, naked, very lifelike in the coloring of the flesh, sweet in countenance, and likewise executed with corresponding beauty of person, whereby he won infinite praise from the craftsmen. It is said that, while this figure was exposed to view in the church, the friars found, through the confessional, women who had sinned at the sight of it, on account of the charm and melting beauty of the lifelike reality imparted to it by the genius of Fra Bartolommeo; for which reason they removed it from the church and placed it in the chapterhouse, where it did not remain long before it was bought by Giovan Battista della Palla and sent to the King of France.

Fra Bartolommeo had fallen into a rage against the joiners who made the ornamental frames for his panels and pictures, for it was their custom, as it still is at the present day, always to cover an eighth part of the figures with the projecting inner edges of the frames. He determined, therefore, to invent some means of doing without frames for panels; and for this S. Sebastian he caused the panel to be made in the form of a half-circle, wherein he drew a niche in perspective, which has the appearance of being carved in relief in the panel. Thus, painting a frame all round, he made an ornament for the figure in the middle; and he did the same for our S. Vincent, and for the S. Mark that will be described after the S. Vincent. For the arch of a door leading into the sacristy, he painted in oils, on wood, a figure of S. Vincent, a brother of that Order, representing him in the act of preaching on the Judgment, so that there may be perceived in his gestures, and particularly in his head, that vehemence and fury which are generally seen in the faces of preachers, when they are doing their utmost, with threats of the vengeance of God, to lead men hardened in sin into the perfect life; in such a manner that this figure appears, to one who studies it with attention, to be not painted but real and alive, with such strong relief is it executed; and it is a pity that it is all cracking and spoiling, on account of its having been painted with fresh coats of color on fresh size, as I said of the works of Pietro Perugino in the Convent of the Ingesuati.

The fancy took him, in order to show that he was able to make large figures for he had been told that his manner was that of a minia- turist to paint on panel, for the wall in which is the door of the choir, a figure of S. Mark the Evangelist, five braccia in height, and executed with very good draughtsmanship and supreme excellence.

After this, Salvadore Billi, a Florentine merchant, on his return from Naples, having heard the fame of Fra Bartolommeo, and having seen his works, caused him to paint a panel picture of Christ the Saviour, in allusion to his own name, with the four Evangelists round Him ; wherein, at the foot, are also two little boys upholding the globe of the world, whose flesh, fresh and tender, is excellently painted, as is the whole work, in which there are likewise two prophets that are much extolled. This panel stands in the Nunziata at Florence, below the great organ, according to the wish of Salvadore; it is a very beautiful work, finished by Fra Bartolommeo with much lovingness and great perfection ; and it is surrounded by an ornament of marble, all carved by the hand of Pietro Rosselli.

Afterwards, having need of a change of air, the Prior at that time, who was his friend, sent him away to a monastery of his Order, wherein, while he stayed there, he combined the labor of his hands with the contemplation of death, with profit* [* The word "utilmente" is substituted here for the "ultimamente " of the text, which makes no sense.] both for his soul and for the convent. For S. Martino in Lucca he painted a panel wherein, at the feet of a Madonna, there is a little angel playing on a lute, together with S. Stephen and S. John; in which picture, executed with excellent draughtsmanship and coloring, he proved his ability. For S. Romano, likewise, he painted a panel on canvas of the Madonna della Misericordia, who is placed on a pedestal of stone, with some angels holding her mantle; and together with her he depicted a throng of people on some steps, some standing, others seated, and others kneeling, but all gazing at a figure of Christ on high, who is sending down lightnings and thunderbolts upon the people. Clearly did Fra Bartolommeo prove in this work how well he was able to manage the gradation of shadows and darks in painting, giving extraordinary relief to his figures, and showing a rare and excellent mastery over the difficulties of his art in coloring, drawing, and invention; and the work is as perfect as any that he ever made. For the same church he painted another panel, also on canvas, containing a Christ and S. Catherine the Martyr, together with a S. Catherine of Siena, rapt in ecstasy from the earth, a figure as good as any that could possibly be painted in that manner.

Returning to Florence, he gave some attention to the study of music ; and, delighting much therein, he would sometimes sing to pass the time. At Prato, opposite to the prison, he painted a panel picture of the Assumption. He executed some pictures of Our Lady for the house of the Medici, and also other paintings for various people, such as a picture of Our Lady which Lodovico di Lodovico Capponi has in his apartment, and likewise another of the Virgin holding the Child in her arms, with two heads of saints, that is in the possession of the very Excellent Messer Lelio Torelli, Chief Secretary to the most Illustrious Duke Cosimo, who holds it very dear both on account of the genius of Fra Bartolommeo, and because he delights in, loves, and favours not only the men of our art, but every fine intellect. In the house of Piero del Pugliese, which now belongs to Matteo Botti, a citizen and merchant of Florence, in an antechamber at the head of a staircase, he painted a S. George in armour, on horseback, who is slaying the Dragon with his lance a very spirited figure. This he executed in chiaroscuro, in oils, a method that he much delighted to use for all his works, sketching them in the manner of a cartoon, with ink or with bitumen, before colouring them; as may still be seen from many beginnings of pictures and panels, which he left unfinished on account of his death, and as may also be perceived from many drawings by his hand, executed in chiaroscuro, of which the greater part are now in the Monastery of S. Caterina da Siena on the Piazza di S. Marco, in the possession of a nun who paints, and of whom record will be made in the proper place; while many made in the same way adorn our book of drawings, honoring his memory, and some are in the hands of Messer Francesco del Garbo, a most excellent physician.

Fra Bartolommeo always liked to have living objects before him when he was working; and in order to be able to draw draperies, armour, and other suchlike things, he caused a life-size figure of wood to be made, which moved at the joints ; and this he clothed with real draperies, from which he painted most beautiful things, being able to keep them in position as long as he pleased, until he had brought his work to perfection. This figure, worm-eaten and ruined as it is, is in our possession, treasured in memory of him.

At Arezzo, for the Abbey of the Black Friars, he made a head of Christ in dark tints a very beautiful work. He painted, also, the panel of the Company of the Contemplanti, which was preserved in the house of the Magnificent Messer Ottaviano de' Medici, and has now been placed in a chapel of that house, with many ornaments, by his son Messer Alessandro, who holds it very dear in memory of Fra Bartolommeo, and also because he takes vast pleasure in painting. In the chapel of the Noviciate of S. Marco there is a panel picture of the Purification, very lovely, which he executed with good draughtsmanship and high finish. At S. Maria Maddalena, a seat of the Friars of his Order, without Florence, while staying there for his own pleasure, he made a Christ and a Magda- lene; and he also painted certain things in fresco in that convent. In like manner, he wrought in fresco an arch over the strangers' apartment in S. Marco, in which he painted Christ with Cleophas and Luke, and made a portrait of Fra Niccolo della Magna, who was then a young man, and who afterwards became Archbishop of Capua, and finally a Cardinal. He began a panel for S. Gallo, afterwards finished by Giuliano Bugiardini, which is now on the high altar of S. Jacopo fra Fossi, on the Canto degli Alberti; and likewise a picture of the Rape of Dinah, now in the possession of Messer Cristofano Rinieri, and afterwards coloured by the same Giuliano, in which are buildings and conceptions that are much extolled.

From Piero Soderini he received the commission for the panel of the Council Chamber, which he began in such a manner, drawing it in chiaroscuro, that it seemed destined to do him very great credit ; and, unfinished as it is, it now has a place of honor in the Chapel of the Magnificent Ottaviano de' Medici, in S. Lorenzo. In it are all the Patron Saints of the city of Florence, and those saints on whose days that city has gained her victories; and there is also the portrait of Fra Bartolommeo himself, made by him with a mirror. He had begun this picture, and had drawn the whole design, when it happened that, from working continually under a window, with the light from it beating on his back, he became completely paralyzed on that side of his body, and quite unable to move. Thereupon he was advised such being the orders of his physicians to go to the baths of San Filippo; where he stayed a long time, but became very little better thereby. Now Fra Bartolommeo was a great lover of fruit, which pleased his palate mightily, although it was ruinous to his health. Wherefore one morning, having eaten many figs, there came upon him, in addition to his other infirmity, a very violent fever, which cut short the course of his life in four days, at the age of forty-eight; when, still wholly conscious, he rendered up his soul to Heaven.

His death grieved his friends, and particularly the friars, who gave him honorable sepulture in their burial-place in S. Marco, on October 8, in the year 1517. He had a dispensation from attending any of the offices in the choir with the other friars, and the gains from his works went to the convent, enough money being left in his hands to pay for colors and other materials necessary for his painting.

He left disciples in , Benedetto Cianfanini, Gabriele Rustici, and Fra Paolo Pistoiese, the latter inheriting all his possessions. This Fra Paolo painted many panels and pictures from his master's drawings, after his death; of which three are in S. Domenico at Pistoia, and one at S. Maria del Sasso in the Casentino.

Fra Bartolommeo gave such grace to his figures with his coloring, and made them so novel and so modern in manner, that for these reasons he deserves to be numbered by us among the benefactors of art.

 

 

 

MARIOTTO ALBERTINELLI (1474-1515)
PAINTER OF FLORENCE

Vasari's Lives of the Artists



MARIOTTO ALBERTINELLI, the closest and most intimate friend of Fra Bartolommeo his other self, one might call him, not only on account of the constant connection and intercourse between them, but also through their similarity of manner during the period when Mariotto gave proper attention to art was the son of Biagio di Bindo Albertinelli. At the age of twenty he abandoned his calling of gold-beater, in which he had been employed up to that time ; and he learnt the first rudiments of painting in the workshop of Cosimo Rosselli, where he formed such an intimacy with Baccio della Porta, that they were one soul and one body. Such, indeed, was the brotherly friendship between them, that when Baccio took his leave of Cosimo, in order to practise his art as a master by himself, Mariotto went off with him ; whereupon they lived for a long time, both one and the other, at the Porta a S. Piero Gattolini, executing many works in company. And since Mariotto was not so well grounded in drawing as was Baccio, he devoted himself to the study of such antiquities as were then in Florence, the greater part and the best of which were in the house of the Medici. He made a number of drawings of certain little panels in half-relief that were under the loggia in the garden, on the side towards S. Lorenzo, in one of which is Adonis with a very beautiful dog, and in another two nude figures, one seated, with a dog at its feet, and the other standing with the legs crossed, leaning on a staff. Both these panels are marvellous; and there are likewise two others of the same size, in one of which are two little boys carrying Jove's thunderbolt, while in the other is the nude figure of an old man, with wings on his shoulders and feet, representing Chance, and balancing a pair of scales in his hands. In addition to these works, that garden was full of torsi of men and women, which were a school not only for Mariotto, but for all the sculptors and painters of his time. A good part of these are now in the guardaroba of Duke Cosimo, and others, such as the two torsi of Marsyas, the heads over the windows, and those of the Emperors over the doors, are still in the same place.

By studying these antiquities, Mariotto made great proficience in drawing; and he entered into the service of the mother of Duke Lorenzo, Madonna Alfonsina, who, desiring that he should devote himself to becoming an able master, offered him all possible assistance. Dividing his time, therefore, between drawing and coloring, he became a passing good craftsman, as is proved by some pictures that he executed for that lady, which were sent by her to Rome, for Carlo and Giordano Orsini, and which afterwards came into the hands of Caesar Borgia. He made a very good portrait of Madonna Alfonsina from the life; and it seemed to him, on account of his friendship with her, that his fortune was made, when, in the year 1494, Piero de' Medici was banished, and her assistance and favour failed him. Whereupon he returned to the workshop of Baccio, where he set himself with even greater zeal to make models of clay and to increase his knowledge, labouring at the study of nature, and imitating the works of Baccio, so that in a few years he became a sound and practised master. And then, seeing his work succeeding so well, he so grew in courage, that, imitating the manner and method of his companion, the hand of Mariotto was taken by many for that of Fra Bartolommeo.

But when he heard that Baccio had gone off to become a monk, Mariotto was almost overwhelmed and out of his mind; and so strange did the news seem to him, that he was in despair, and nothing could cheer him. If it had not been, indeed, that Mariotto could not then endure having anything to do with monks, against whom he was ever railing, and belonged to the party that was opposed to the faction of Fra Girolamo of Ferrara, his love for Baccio would have wrought upon him so strongly, that it would have forced him to don the cowl in the same convent as his companion. However, he was besought by Gerozzo Dini, who had given the commission for the Judgment that Baccio had left unfinished in the Ossa, that he, having a manner similar to Baccio's, should undertake to finish it; whereupon, being also moved by the circumstance that the cartoon completed by the hand of Baccio and other drawings were there, and by the entreaties of Fra Bartolommeo himself, who had received money on account of the painting, and was troubled in conscience at not having kept his promise, he finished the work, and executed all that was wanting with diligence and love, in such a way that many, not knowing this, think that it was painted by one single hand; and this brought him vast credit among craftsmen.

In the Chapterhouse of the Certosa of Florence he executed a Crucifixion, with Our Lady and the Magdalene at the foot of the Cross, and some angels in the sky, who are receiving the blood of Christ; a work wrought in fresco, with diligence and lovingness, and passing well painted. Now some of the young men who were learning art under him, thinking that the friars were not giving them proper food, had counterfeited, without the knowledge of Mariotto, the keys of those windows opening into the friar's rooms, through which their pittance is passed; and sometimes, in secret, they stole some of it, now from one and now from another. There was a great uproar about this among the friars, since in the matter of eating they are as sensitive as any other person; but the lads did it with great dexterity, and, since they were held to be honest fellows, the blame fell on some of the friars, who were said to be doing it from hatred of one another. However, one day the truth was revealed, and the friars, to the end that the work might be finished, gave a double allowance to Mariotto and his lads, who finished the work with great glee and laughter.

For the Nuns of S. Giuliano in Florence he painted the panel of their high altar, which he executed in a room that he had in the Gualfonda; together with another for the same church, with a Crucifix, some Angels, and God the Father, representing the Trinity, in oils and on a gold ground.

Mariotto was a most restless person, devoted to the pleasures of love, and a good liver in the matter of eating; wherefore, conceiving a hatred for the subtleties and brain-rackings of painting, and being often wounded by the tongues of other painters (according to the undying custom among them, handed down from one to another), he resolved to turn to a more humble, less fatiguing, and more cheerful art. And so, having opened a very fine inn, without the Porta S. Gallo, and a tavern and inn on the Ponte Vecchio, at the Dragon, he followed that calling for many months, saying that he had chosen an art without foreshortenings, muscles, and perspectives, and, what was much more important, free from censure, and that the art which he had given up was quite the contrary of his new one, since the former imitated flesh and blood, and the latter made both blood and flesh; and now, having good wine, he heard himself praised all day long, whereas before he used to hear nothing but censure.

However, having grown weary of this as well, and ashamed of the baseness of his calling, he returned to painting, and executed pictures and paintings for the houses of citizens in Florence. For Giovan Maria Benintendi he painted three little scenes with his own hand; and for the house of the Medici, at the election of Leo X, he painted a round picture of his arms, in oils, with Faith, Hope, and Charity, which hung for a long time over the door of their palace. He undertook to make, in the Company of S. Zanobi, near the Chapterhouse of S. Maria del Fiore, a panel picture of the Annunciation, which he executed with great labour. For this he caused special windows to be made, wishing to work on the spot, in order to be able to make the views recede, where they were high and distant, by lowering the tones, or to bring them forward, at his pleasure. Now he had conceived the idea that pictures which have no relief and force, combined with delicacy, are of no account; but since he knew that they cannot be made to stand out from the surface without shadows, which, if they are too dark, remain indistinct, while, if they are delicate, they have no force, he was eager to combine this delicacy with a certain method of treatment to which up to that time, so it seemed to him, art had not attained in any satisfactory manner. Wherefore, looking on this work as an opportunity for accomplishing this, he set himself, to this end, to make extraordinary efforts, which may be recognized in a figure of God the Father, which is in the sky, and in some little children, who stand out from the panel in strong relief against a dark background in perspective that he made there with a ceiling in the form of a barrel- shaped vault, which, with its arches curving and its lines diminishing to a point, recedes inwards in such a manner that it appears to be in relief; besides which, there are some angels scattering flowers as they fly, that are very graceful.

This work was painted out and painted in again many times by Mariotto before he could bring it to completion. He was for ever changing the coloring, making it now lighter, now darker, and sometimes more lively and glowing, sometimes less; but, never being completely satisfied, and never persuaded that he had done justice with his hand to the thoughts of his intellect, he wished to find a white that should be more brilliant than lead-white, and set himself, therefore, to clarify the latter, in order to be able to heighten the highest light to his own satisfaction. However, having recognized that he was not able to express by means of art all that the intelligence of the human brain grasps and comprehends, he contented himself with what he had achieved, since he could not attain to what it was not possible to reach. This work brought Mariotto praise and honor among craftsmen, but by no means as much profit as he hoped to gain from his patrons in return for his labours, since a dispute arose between him and those who had commissioned him to paint it. But Pietro Perugino, then an old man, Ridolfo Ghirlandajo, and Francesco Granacci valued it, and settled the price of the work by common consent.

For S. Pancrazio, in Florence, Mariotto painted a semicircular picture of the Visitation of Our Lady. For S. Trinita, likewise, he executed with diligence a panel picture of Our Lady, S. Jerome, and S. Zanobi, at the commission of Zanobi del Maestro; and for the Church of the Congregation of the Priests of S. Martino, he painted a picture on panel of the Visitation, which is much extolled. He was invited to the Convent of La Quercia, without Viterbo; but after having begun a panel there, he conceived a desire to see Rome. Having made his way to that city, therefore, he executed to perfection for the Chapel of Fra Mariano

Fetti, in S. Silvestro di Monte Cavallo, a panel picture in oils of S. Dominic, S. Catherine of Siena, with Christ marrying her, and Our Lady in a delicate manner. He then returned to La Quercia, where he had a mistress, to whom, on account of the desire that he had felt while he was in Rome and could not enjoy her love, he sought to show that he was valiant in the lists; wherefore he exerted himself so much, that, being no longer young and so stalwart in such efforts, he was forced to take to his bed. And laying the blame for this on the air of the place, he had himself carried to Florence in a litter; but no expedients or remedies availed him in his sickness, from which he died in a few days, at the age of forty-five. He was buried in S. Piero Maggiore, in that city. There are some drawings by the hand of this master in our book, executed with the pen and in chiaroscuro, which are very good; particularly a spiral staircase, drawn with great ingenuity in perspective, of which he had a good knowledge.

Mariotto had many disciples; among others, Giuliano Bugiardini and Franciabigio, both Florentines, and Innocenzio da Imola, of whom we will speak in the proper place. Visino, a painter of Florence, was likewise his disciple, and excelled all these others in drawing, colouring, and industry, showing, also, a better manner in the works that he made, which he executed with great diligence. A few of them are still in Florence ; and one can study his work at the present day in the house of Giovan Battista d' Agnol Doni, in a mirror *-picture painted in oils after the manner of a miniature, wherein are Adam and Eve naked, eating the apple, a work executed with great care; and from another picture, of Christ being taken down from the Cross, together with the Thieves, in which there is a beautifully contrived complication of ladders, with some men aiding each other to take down the body of Christ, and others bearing one of the Thieves on their shoulders to burial, and all the figures in varied and fantastic attitudes, suited to that subject, and proving that he was an able man.

* The words of the text, " un quadro d' una spera," are a little obscure; but the
translator has been strengthened in his belief that his rendering is correct by seeing a little
picture, painted on a mirror, and numbered 7697, in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The subject of this picture, which the translator was enabled to see by the courtesy of
Mr. B. S. Long, of the Department of Paintings, is the same as that of the work mentioned
by Vasari, and it may be a copy.

The same master was brought by some Florentine merchants to Hungary, where he executed many works and gained great renown. But the poor man was soon in danger of coming to an evil end, because, being of a frank and free-spoken nature, he was not able to endure the wearisome persistence of some Hungarians, who kept tormenting him all day long with praises of their own country, as if there were no pleasure or happiness in anything except eating and drinking in their stifling rooms, and no grandeur or nobility save in their King and his Court, all the rest of the world being rubbish. It seemed to him (and indeed it is true) that in Italy there was another kind of excellence, culture, and beauty; and one day, being wean 7 [HUH?] of their nonsense, and chancing to be a little merry, he let slip the opinion that a flask of Trebbiano and a berlingozzo* [* Florentine puff-pastry.] were worth all the Kings and Queens that had ever reigned in those regions. And if the matter had not happened to fall into the hands of a Bishop, who was a gentleman and a man of the world, and also, above all, a tactful person, both able and willing to turn the thing into a joke, Visino would have learnt not to play with savages; for those brutes of Hungarians, not understanding his words, and thinking that he had uttered something terrible, such as a threat that he would rob their King of his life and throne, wished to give him short shrift and crucify him by mob law. But the good Bishop drew him out of all embarrassment, and, appraising the merit of the excellent master at its true value, and putting a good complexion on the affair, restored him to the favor of the King, who, on hearing the story, was much amused by it. His good fortune, however, did not last long, for, not being able to endure the stifling rooms and the cold air, which ruined his constitution, in a short time this brought his life to an end; although his repute and fame survived in the memory of those who knew him when alive, and of those who saw his works in the years after his death. His pictures date about the year 1512.

 

 

 

RAFFAELLINO DEL GARBO (1466-1524)
PAINTER OF FLORENCE
Vasari's Lives of the Artists



RAFFAELO DEL GARBO, while he was a little boy, was called by the pet name of Raffaellino, which he retained ever afterwards ; and in his earliest days he gave such promise in his art, that he was already numbered among the most excellent masters, a thing which happens to few. But still fewer meet the fate which afterwards came upon him, in that from a splendid beginning and almost certain hopes, he arrived at a very feeble end. For it is a general rule, in the world both of nature and of art, for things to grow gradually from small beginnings, little by little, until they reach their highest perfection. It is true, however, that many laws both of art and of nature are unknown to us, nor do they hold to one unvarying order at all times and in every case, a thing which very often renders uncertain the judgments of men. How this may happen is seen in Raffaellino, since it appeared that in him nature and art did their utmost to set out from extraordinary beginnings, the middle stage of which was below mediocrity, and the end almost nothing.

In his youth he drew as much as any painter who has ever exercised himself in drawing in order to become perfect; wherefore there may still be seen, throughout the world of art, a great number of his drawings, which have been dispersed by a son of his for ridiculous prices, partly drawn with the style, partly with the pen or in watercolors, but all on tinted paper, heightened with lead-white, and executed with marvellous boldness and mastery ; and there are many of them in our book, drawn in a most beautiful manner. Besides this, he learnt to paint so well in distemper and in fresco, that his first works were executed with an incredible patience and diligence, as has been related. In the Minerva, round the tomb of Cardinal Caraffa, he painted the vaulted ceiling, with such delicacy, that it seems like the work of an illuminator ; wherefore it was held in great estimation by craftsmen at that time. His master, Filippo, regarded him in some respects as a much better painter than himself; and Raffaellino had acquired Filippo's manner so well, that there were few who could distinguish the one from the other. Later, after having left his master, he gave much more delicacy to that manner in the draperies, and greater softness to hair and to the expressions of the heads; and he was held in such expectation by craftsmen, that, while he followed this manner, he was considered the first of the young painters of his day. Now the family of the Capponi, having built a chapel that is called the Paradise, on the hill below the Church of S. Bartolommeo a Monte Oliveto, without the Porta a S. Friano, wished to have the panel executed by Raffaellino, and gave him the commission; whereupon he painted in oils the Resurrection of Christ, with some soldiers who have fallen, as if dead, round the Sepulchre. These figures are very spirited and beautiful, and they have the most graceful heads that it is possible to see ; among which, in the head of a young man, is a marvellous portrait of Niccola Capponi, while, in like manner, the head of one who is crying out because the stone covering of the tomb has fallen upon him, is most beautiful and bizarre. Wherefore the Capponi, having seen that Raffaellino's picture was a rare work, caused a frame to be made for it, all carved, with round columns richly adorned with burnished gold on a ground of bole. Before many years had passed, the campanile of that building was struck by lightning, which pierced the vault and fell near that panel, which, having been executed in oils, suffered no harm ; but where the fluid passed near the gilt frame, it consumed the gold, leaving nothing there but the bare bole. It has seemed to me right to say that much with regard to oil-painting, to the end that all may see how important it is to know how to guard against such injury, which lightning has done not only to this work, but to many others.

He painted in fresco, at the corner of a house that now belongs to Matteo Botti, between the Canto del Ponte alia Carraja and the Canto della Cuculia, a little shrine containing Our Lady with the Child in her arms, with S. Catherine and S. Barbara kneeling, a very graceful and carefully executed work. For the Villa of Marignolle, belonging to the Girolami, he painted two most beautiful panels, with Our Lady, S. Zanobi, and other saints; and he filled the predella below both of these with little figures representing scenes from the lives of those saints, executed with great diligence. On the wall above the door of the Church of the Nuns of S. Giorgio, he painted a Pieta, with a group of the Maries ; and in like manner, in another arch below this, a figure of Our Lady, a work worthy of great praise, executed in the year 1504. In the Church of S. Spirito at Florence, in a panel over that of the Nerli, which his master Filippo had executed, he painted a Pieta, which is held to be a very good and praiseworthy work; but in another, representing S. Bernard, he fell short of that standard. Below the door of the sacristy are two panel pictures by his hand; one showing S. Gregory the Pope saying Mass, when Christ appears to him, naked, with the Cross on His shoulder, and shedding blood from His side, with the deacon and sub-deacon, in their vestments, serving the Mass, and two angels swinging censers over the body of Christ. For another chapel, lower down, he executed a panel picture containing Our Lady, S. Jerome, and S. Bartholomew. On these two works he bestowed no little labor; but he went on deteriorating from day to day. I do not know to what I should attribute his misfortune, for poor Raffaellino was not wanting in industry, diligence, and application; yet they availed him little. It is believed, indeed, that, becoming overburdened and impoverished by the cares of a family, and being compelled to use for his daily needs whatever he earned, not to mention that he was a man of no great spirit and undertook to do work for small prices, in this way he went on growing worse little by little; although there is always something of the good to be seen in his works.

For the Monks of Cestello, on the wall of their refectory, he painted a large scene colored in fresco, in which he depicted the miracle wrought by Jesus Christ with the five loaves and two fishes, with which he satisfied five thousand people. For the Abbot de' Panichi he executed the panel picture of the high altar in the Church of S. Salvi, without the Port a alia Croce, painting therein Our Lady, S. Giovanni Gualberto, S. Salvi, S. Bernardo, a Cardinal of the Uberti family, and S. Benedetto the Abbot, and, at the sides, S. Batista and S. Fedele in armour, in two niches on either hand of the picture, which had a rich frame ; and in the predella are several scenes, with little figures, from the Life of S. Gio- vanni Gualberto. In all this he acquitted himself very well, because he was assisted in his wretchedness by that Abbot, who took pity on him for the sake of his talents; and in the predella of the panel Raffaellino made a portrait of him from life, together with one of the General who was then ruling his Order. In S. Piero Maggiore, on the right as one enters the church, there is a panel by his hand, and in the Murate there is a picture of S. Sigismund, the King. For Girolamo Federighi, in that part of S. Pancrazio where he was afterwards buried, he painted a Trinity in fresco, with portraits of him and of his wife on their knees; and here he began to decline into pettiness of manner. He also made two figures in distemper for the Monks of Cestello, a S. Rocco and a S. Ignazio, which are in the Chapel of S. Sebastiano. And in a little chapel on the abutment of the Ponte Rubaconte, on the side towards the Mills, he painted a Madonna, a S. Laurence, and another saint.

In the end he was reduced to undertaking any work, however mean; and he was employed by certain nuns and other persons, who were embroidering a quantity of church vestments and hangings at that time, to make designs in chiaroscuro and ornamental borders containing saints and stories, for ridiculous prices. For although he had deteriorated, there sometimes issued from his hand most beautiful designs and fancies, as is proved by many drawings that were sold and dispersed after the death of those who used them for embroidery; of which there are many in the book of the illustrious hospital-director,* [* Don Vincenzio Borghini.]that show how able he was in draughtsmanship. This was the reason that many vestments, hangings, and ornaments, which are held to be very beautiful, were made for the churches of Florence and throughout the Florentine territory, and also for Cardinals and Bishops in Rome. At the present day this method of embroidery, which was used by Paolo da Verona, the Florentine Galieno, and others like them, is almost lost, and another method, with wide stitches, has been introduced, which has neither the same beauty nor the same careful workmanship, and is much less durable than the other. Wherefore, in return for this benefit, although poverty caused him misery and hardship during his lifetime, he deserves to have honor and glory for his talents after his death.

And in truth Raffaellino was unfortunate in his connections, for he always mixed with poor and humble people, like a man who had sunk and become ashamed of himself, seeing that in his youth he had given such great promise, and now knew how distant he was from the extraordinary excellence of the works that he had made at that time. And thus, growing old, he fell away so much from his early standard, that his works no longer appeared to be by his hand; and forgetting his art more and more every day, he was reduced to painting, in addition to his usual panels and pictures, the meanest kinds of works. And he sank so low that everything was a torment to him, but above all his burdensome family of children, which turned all his ability in art into mere clumsiness. Wherefore, being overtaken by infirmities and impoverished, he finished his life in misery at the age of fifty-eight, and was buried in S. Simone, at Florence, by the Company of the Misericordia, in the year 1524.

He left behind him many pupils who became able masters. One, who went in his boyhood to learn the rudiments of art from Raffaellino, was the Florentine painter Bronzino, who afterwards acquitted himself so well under the wing of Jacopo da Pontormo, another painter of Florence, that he has made as much proficience in the art as his master Jacopo. The portrait of Raffaellino was copied from a drawing that belonged to Bastiano da Monte Carlo, who was also his disciple, and who, for a man with no draughtsmanship, became a passing good master.

 

 

 

PIETRO TORRIGIANO (1472-1528)
SCULPTOR OF FLORENCE

Vasari's Lives of the Artists

GREAT IS THE POWER OF ANGER in the soul of one who is seeking, with arrogance and pride, to gain a reputation for excellence in some profession, when he sees rising in the same art, at a time when he does not expect it, some unknown man of beautiful genius, who not only equals him, but in time surpasses him by a great measure. Of such persons, in truth, it may be said that there is no iron that they would not gnaw in their rage, nor any evil which they would not do if they were able, for it seems to them too grievous an affront in the eyes of the world, that children whom they saw born should have reached maturity almost in one bound from their cradles. They do not reflect that every day one may see the will of young men, spurred on by zeal in their tender years, and exercised by them in continual studies, rise to infinite heights; while the old, led by fear, pride, and ambition, lose the cunning of their hands, so that the better they think to work, the worse they do it, and where they believe that they are advancing, they are going backwards. Wherefore, out of envy, they never give credit to the young for the perfection of their works, however clearly they may see it, on account of the obstinacy that possesses them.

And it is known from experience that when, in order to show what they can do, they exert themselves to the utmost of their power, they often produce works that are ridiculous and a mere laughing-stock. In truth, when craftsmen have reached the age when the eye is no longer steady and the hand trembles, their place, if they have saved the wherewithal to live, is to give advice to men who can work, for the reason that the arts of painting and sculpture call for a mind in every way vigorous and awake (as it is at the age when the blood is boiling), full of burning desire, and a capital enemy of the pleasures of the world. And whoever is not temperate with regard to the delights of the world should shun the studies of any art or science whatsoever, seeing that such pleasures and study can never agree well together. Since, therefore, these arts involve so many burdens, few, indeed, are they who attain to the highest rank; and those who start with eagerness from the post are greater in number than those who run well in the race and win the prize.

Now there was more pride than art, although he was very able, to be seen in Torrigiano, a sculptor of Florence, who in his youth was maintained by the elder Lorenzo de' Medici in the garden which that magnificent citizen possessed on the Piazza di S. Marco in Florence. This garden was in such wise filled with the best ancient statuary, that the loggia, the walks, and all the apartments were adorned with noble ancient figures of marble, pictures, and other suchlike things, made by the hands of the best masters who ever lived in Italy or elsewhere. And all these works, in addition to the magnificence and adornment that they conferred on that garden, were as a school or academy for the young painters and sculptors, as well as for all others who were studying the arts of design, and particularly for the young nobles; since the Magnificent Lorenzo had a strong conviction that those who are born of noble blood can attain to perfection in all things more readily and more speedily than is possible, for the most part, for men of humble birth, in hom there are rarely seen those conceptions and that marvellous genius which are perceived in men of illustrious stock. Moreover, the less highly born, having generally to defend themselves from hardship and poverty, and being forced in consequence to undertake any sort of work, however mean, are not able to exercise their intellect, or to attain to the highest degree of excellence. Wherefore it was well said by the learned Alciato when speaking of men of beautiful genius, born in poverty, who are not able to raise themselves, because, in proportion as they are impelled upwards by the wings of their genius, so are they held down by their poverty:

Ut me pluma levat, sic grave mergit onus.

Lorenzo the Magnificent, then, always favored men of genius, and particularly such of the nobles as showed an inclination for these our arts; wherefore it is no marvel that from that school there should have issued some who have amazed the world. And what is more, he not only gave the means to buy food and clothing to those who, being poor, would otherwise not have been able to pursue the studies of design, but also bestowed extraordinary gifts on any one among them who had acquitted himself in some work better than the others; so that the young students of our arts, competing thus with each other, thereby became very excellent, as I will relate.

The guardian and master of these young men, at that time, was the Florentine sculptor Bertoldo, an old and practised craftsman, who had once been a disciple of Donato. He taught them, and likewise had charge of the works in the garden, and of many drawings, cartoons, and models by the hand of Donato, Pippo,* [* Filippo Brunelleschi.] Masaccio, Paolo Uccello, Fra Giovanni, Fra Filippo, and other masters, both native and foreign. It is a sure fact that these arts can only be acquired by a long course of study in drawing and diligently imitating works of excellence; and whoever has not such facilities, however much he may be assisted by nature, can never arrive at perfection, save late in life.

But to return to the antiquities of the garden; they were in great part dispersed in the year 1494, when Piero, the son of the aforesaid Lorenzo, was banished from Florence, all being sold by auction. The greater part of them, however, were restored to the Magnificent Giuliano in the year 1512, at the time when he and the other members of the House of Medici returned to their country; and at the present day they are for the most part preserved in the guardaroba of Duke Cosimo. Truly magnificent was the example thus given by Lorenzo, and whenever Princes and other persons of high degree choose to imitate it, they will always gain everlasting honor and glory thereby; since he who assists and favours, in their noble undertakings, men of rare and beautiful genius, from whom the world receives such beauty, honor, convenience and benefit, deserves to live for ever in the minds and memories of mankind.

Among those who studied the arts of design in that garden, the following all became very excellent masters; Michelagnolo, the son of Lodovico Buonarroti; Giovan Francesco Rustici; Torrigiano Torrigiani; Francesco Granacci; Niccolo, the son of Jacopo* Soggi [* The name given in the text is Domenico.]; Lorenzo di Credi, and Giuliano Bugiardini; and, among the foreigners, Baccio da Montelupo, Andrea Contucci of Monte Sansovino, and others, of whom mention will be made in the proper places.

Torrigiano, then, whose Life we are now about to write, was as a student in the garden with those named above; and he was not only powerful in person, and proud and fearless in spirit, but also by nature so overbearing and choleric, that he was for ever tyrannizing over all the others both with words and deeds. His chief profession was sculpture, yet he worked with great delicacy in terracotta, in a very good and beautiful manner. But not being able to endure that any one should surpass him, he would set himself to spoil with his hands such of the works of others as showed an excellence that he could not achieve with his brain; and if these others resented this, he often had recourse to something stronger than words. He had a particular hatred for Michelagnolo, for no other reason than that he saw him attending zealously to the study of art, and knew that he used to draw in secret at his own house by night and on feast days, so that he came to succeed better in the garden than all the others, and was therefore much favoured by Lorenzo the Magnificent. Wherefore, moved by bitter envy, Torrigiano was always seeking to affront him, both in word and deed; and one day, having come to blows, Torrigiano struck Michelagnolo so hard on the nose with his fist, that he broke it, insomuch that Michelagnolo had his nose flattened for the rest of his life. This matter becoming known to Lorenzo, he was so enraged that Torrigiano, if he had not fled from Florence, would have suffered some heavy punishment.

Having therefore made his way to Rome, where Alexander VI was then pressing on the work of the Borgia Tower, Torrigiano executed in it a great quantity of stucco work, in company with other masters. Afterwards, money being offered in the service of Duke Valentino, who was making war against the people of Romagna, Torrigiano was led away by certain young Florentines; and, having changed himself in a moment from a sculptor to a soldier, he bore himself valiantly in those campaigns of Romagna. He did the same under Paolo Vitelli in the war with Pisa ; and he was with Piero de' Medici at the action on the Garigliano, where he won the right to arms, and the name of a valiant standard-bearer.

But in the end, recognizing that he was never likely to reach the rank of captain that he desired, although he deserved it, and that he had saved nothing in the wars, and had, on the contrary, wasted his time, he returned to sculpture. For certain Florentine merchants, then, he made small works in marble and bronze, little figures, which are scattered throughout the houses of citizens in Florence, and he executed many drawings in a bold and excellent manner, as may be seen from some by his hand that are in our book, together with others which he made in competition with Michelagnolo. And having been brought by those merchants to England, he executed there, in the service of the King, an endless number of works in marble, bronze, and wood, competing with some masters of that country, to all of whom he proved superior. For this he was so well and so richly rewarded, that, if he had not been as reckless and unbridled as he was proud, he might have lived a life of ease and ended his days in comfort; but what happened to him was the very opposite.

After this, having been summoned from England into Spain, he made many works there, which are scattered about in various places, and are held in great estimation; and, among others, he made a Crucifix of terracotta, which is the most marvellous thing that there is in all Spain. For a monastery of Friars of S. Jerome, without the city of Seville, he made another Crucifix; a S. Jerome in Penitence, with his lion, the figure of that Saint being a portrait of an old house-steward of the Botti family, Florentine merchants settled in Spain; and a Madonna with the Child. This last figure was so beautiful that it led to his making another like it for the Duke of Arcus, who, in order to obtain it, made such promises to Torrigiano, that he believed that it would make him rich for the rest of his life. The work being finished, the Duke gave him so many of those coins that are called " maravedis," which are worth little or nothing, that Torrigiano, to whose house there came two persons laden with them, became even more confirmed in his belief that he was to be a very rich man. But afterwards, having shown this money to a Florentine friend of his, and having asked him to count it and reckon its value in Italian coin, he saw that all that vast sum did not amount to thirty ducats; at which, holding himself to have been fooled, he went in a violent rage to where the figure was that he had made for the Duke, and wholly destroyed it. Whereupon that Spaniard, considering himself affronted, denounced Torrigiano as a heretic; on which account he was thrown into prison, and after being examined every day, and sent from one inquisitor to the other, he was finally judged to deserve the severest penalty. But this was never put into execution, because Torrigiano himself was plunged thereby into such melancholy, that, remaining many days without eating, and thus becoming very weak, little by little he put an end to his own life; and in this way, by denying himself his food, he avoided the shame into which he would perchance have fallen, for it was believed that he had been condemned to death.

The works of this master date about the year of our salvation, 1515, and he died in the year 1522.

 

 

 

GIULIANO AND ANTONIO DA SAN GALLO
ARCHITECTS OF FLORENCE

Vasari's Lives of the Artists



FRANCESCO DI PAOLO GIAMBERTI, who was a passing good architect in the time of Cosimo de' Medici, and was much employed by him, had two sons, Giuliano and Antonio, whom he apprenticed to the art of wood-carving. One of these two sons, Giuliano, he placed with Francione, a joiner, an ingenious person, who gave attention at the same time to woodcarving and to perspective, and with whom Francesco was very intimate, since they had executed many works in company, both in carving and in architecture, for Lorenzo de' Medici. This Giuliano learnt so well all that Francione taught him, that the carvings and beautiful perspectives that he afterwards executed by himself in the choir of the Duomo of Pisa are still regarded not without marvel at the present day, even among the many new perspectives.

While Giuliano was studying design, and his young blood ran hot in his veins, the army of the Duke of Calabria, by reason of the hatred which that lord bore to Lorenzo de' Medici, encamped before Castellina, in order to occupy the dominions of the Signoria of Florence, and also, if this should be successful, in order to accomplish some greater design. Wherefore Lorenzo the Magnificent was forced to send an engineer to Castellina, who might make mills and bastions, and should have the charge of handling the artillery, which few men at that time were able to do ; and he sent thither Giuliano, considering . him to have a mind more able, more ready, and more resolute than any other man, and knowing him already as the son of Francesco, who had been a devoted servant of the House of Medici.

Arriving at Castellina, therefore, Giuliano fortified that place with good walls and mills, both within and without, and furnished it with everything else necessary for the defence. Then, observing that the artillery-men stood at a great distance from their pieces, handling, loading, and discharging them with much timidity, he gave his attention to this, and so contrived that from that time onwards the artillery did harm to no one, whereas it had previously killed many of them, since they had not had judgment and knowledge enough to avoid suffering injury from the recoil. Having therefore taken charge of the artillery, Giuliano showed great skill in discharging it to the best possible ad- vantage ; and the Duke's forces so lost heart by reason of this and other adverse circumstances, that they were glad to make terms and depart from the town. In consequence of this Giuliano won no little praise from Lorenzo in Florence, and was looked upon with favor and affection ever afterwards.

Having meanwhile given his attention to architecture, he began the first cloister of the Monastery of Cestello, and executed that part of it that is seen to be of the Ionic Order; placing capitals on the columns with volutes curving downwards to the collarino, where the shaft of the column ends, and making, below the ovoli and the fusarole, a frieze, one-third in height of the diameter of the column. This capital was copied from a very ancient one of marble, found at Fiesole by Messer Leonardo Salutati, Bishop of that place, who kept it for some time, together with other antiquities, in a house and garden that he occupied in the Via di S. Gallo, opposite to S. Agata; and it is now in the possession of Messer Giovan Batista da Ricasoli, Bishop of Pistoia, and is prized for its beauty and variety, since among the ancient capitals there has not been seen another like it. But that cloister remained unfinished, because those monks were not then able to bear such an expense.

Meanwhile Giuliano had come into even greater credit with Lorenzo; and the latter, who was intending to build a palace at Poggio a Cajano, a place between Florence and Pistoia, and had caused several models to be made for it by Francione and by others, commissioned Giuliano, also, to make one of the sort of building that he proposed to erect. And Giuliano made it so completely different in form from the others, and so much to Lorenzo's fancy, that he began straightway to have it carried into execution, as the best of all the models; on which account he took Giuliano even more into his favour, and ever afterwards gave him an allowance.

After this, Giuliano wishing to make a vaulted ceiling for the great hall of that palace in the manner that we call barrel-shaped, Lorenzo could not believe, on account of the great space, that it could be raised. Whereupon Giuliano, who was building a house for himself in Florence, made a ceiling for his hall according to the design of the other, in order to convince the mind of that Magnificent Prince; and Lorenzo therefore gave orders for the ceiling at the Poggio to be carried out, which was successfully done.

By that time the fame of Giuliano had so increased, that, at the entreaty of the Duke of Calabria, he was commissioned by Lorenzo the Magnificent to make the model for a palace that was to be built at Naples; and he spent a long time over executing it. Now while he was working at this, the Castellan of Ostia, then Bishop della Rovere, who after a time became Pope Julius II, wishing to restore that stronghold and to put it into good order, and having heard the fame of Giuliano, sent to Florence for him; and, having supplied him with a good provision, he kept him employed for two years in making therein all the useful improvements that he was able to execute by means of his art. And to the end that the model for the Duke of Calabria might not be neglected, but might be brought to conclusion, he left it to his brother Antonio, who finished it according to his directions, which, in executing it and carrying it to completion, he followed with great diligence, for he was no less competent in that art than Giuliano himself. Now Giuliano was advised by the elder Lorenzo to present it in person, to the end that he might show from the model itself the difficulties that he had triumphed over in making it. Whereupon he departed for Naples, and, having presented the work, was received with honor; for men were as much impressed by the gracious manner in which the Magnificent Lorenzo had sent him, as they were struck with marvel at the masterly work in the model, which gave such satisfaction that the building was straightway begun near the Castel Nuovo.

After Giuliano had been some time in Naples, he sought leave from the Duke to return to Florence; whereupon he was presented by the King with horses and garments, and, among other things, with a silver cup containing some hundreds of ducats. These things Giuliano would not accept, saying that he served a patron who had no need of silver or gold, but that if he did indeed wish to give him some present or some token of approbation, to show that he had been in that city, he might bestow upon him some of his antiquities, which he would choose himself. These the King granted to him most liberally, both for love of the Magnificent Lorenzo and on account of Giuliano's own worth; and they were a head of the Emperor Hadrian, which is now above the door of the garden at the house of the Medici, a nude woman, more than life size, and a Cupid sleeping, all in marble and in the round. Giuliano sent them as presents to the Magnificent Lorenzo, who expressed vast delight at the gift, and never tired of praising the action of this most liberal of craftsmen, who had refused gold and silver for the sake of art, a thing which few would have done. That Cupid is now in the guardaroba of Duke Cosimo.

Having then returned to Florence, Giuliano was received most graciously by the Magnificent Lorenzo. Now the fancy had taken that Prince to build a convent capable of holding a hundred friars, without the Porta S. Gallo, in order to give satisfaction to Fra Mariano da Ghinazzano, a most learned member of the Order of Eremite Friars of S. Augustine. For this convent models were made by many architects, and in the end that of Giuliano was put into execution, which was the reason that Lorenzo, from this work, gave him the name of Giuliano da San Gallo. Wherefore Giuliano, who heard himself called by everyone "da San Gallo/' said one day in jest to the Magnificent Lorenzo, "By giving me this new name of "da San Gallo" you are making me lose the ancient name of my house, so that, in place of going forward in the matter of lineage, as I thought to do, I am going backward." Whereupon Lorenzo answered that he would rather have him become the founder of a new house through his own worth, than depend on others; at which Giuliano was well content.

Meanwhile the work of S. Gallo was carried on, together with Lorenzo's other buildings; but neither the convent nor the others were finished, by reason of the death of Lorenzo. And even the completed part of this structure of S. Gallo did not long remain standing, because in 1530, on account of the siege of Florence, it was destroyed and thrown to the ground, together with the whole suburb, the piazza of which was completely surrounded by very beautiful buildings; and at the present day there is no trace to be seen there of house, church, or convent.

At this time there took place the death of the King of Naples, whereupon Giuliano Gondi, a very rich Florentine merchant, returned from that city to Florence, and commissioned Giuliano da San Gallo, with whom he had become very intimate on account of his visit to Naples, to build him a palace in rustic work, opposite to S. Firenze, above the place where the lions used to be. This palace was to form the angle of the piazza and to face the old Mercatanzia; but the death of Giuliano Gondi put a stop to the work. In it, among other things, Giuliano made a chimney-piece, very rich in carvings, and so varied and beautiful in composition, that up to that time there had never been seen the like, nor one with such a wealth of figures. The same master made a palace for a Venetian in Camerata, without the Porta a Pinti, and many houses for private citizens, of which there is no need to make mention.

Lorenzo the Magnificent, in order to benefit the commonwealth and adorn the State, and at the same time to leave behind him some splendid monument, in addition to the endless number that he had already erected, wished to execute the fortification of the Poggio Imperiale, above Poggibonsi, on the road to Rome, with a view to founding a city there; and he would not lay it out without the advice and design of Giuliano. Wherefore that master began that most famous structure, in which he made the well-designed and beautiful range of fortifications that we see at the present day.

These works brought him such fame, that he was then summoned to Milan, through the mediation of Lorenzo, by the Duke of Milan, to the end that he might make for him the model of a palace ; and there Giuliano was no less honoured by the Duke than he had previously been honoured by the King of Naples, when that Sovereign had invited him to that city. For when he had presented the model to him, on the part of the Magnificent Lorenzo, the Duke was filled with astonishment and marvel at seeing the vast number of beautiful adornments in it, so well arranged and distributed, and all accommodated in their places with art and grace; for which reason all the materials necessary for the work were got together, and they began to put it into execution. In the same city, together with Giuliano, was Leonardo da Vinci, who was working for the Duke ; and Leonardo, speaking with Giuliano about the casting of the horse that he was proposing to make, received from him some excellent suggestions. This work was broken to pieces on the arrival of the French, so that the horse was never finished; nor could the palace be brought to completion.

Having returned to Florence, Giuliano found that his brother Antonio, who worked for him on his models, had become so excellent, that there was no one in his day who was a better master in carving, particularly for large Crucifixes of wood; to which witness is borne by the one over the high-altar of the Nunziata in Florence, by another that is kept by the Friars of S. Gallo in S. Jacopo tra Fossi, and by a third in the Company of the Scalzo, which are all held to be very good. But Giuliano removed him from that profession and caused him to give his attention to architecture, in company with himself, since he had many works to execute, both public and private.

Now it happened, as it is always happening, that Fortune, the enemy of talent, robbed the followers of the arts of their hope and support by the death of Lorenzo de' Medici, which was a heavy loss not only to all able craftsmen and to his country, but also to all Italy. Wherefore Giuliano, together with all the other lofty spirits, was left wholly inconsolable; and in his grief he betook himself to Prato, near Florence, in order to build the Temple of the Madonna delle Carcere, since all building in Florence, both public and private, was at a standstill. He lived in Prato, therefore, three whole years, supporting the expense, discomfort, and sorrow as best he could.

At the end of that time, it being proposed to roof the Church of the Madonna at Loreto, and to raise the cupola, which had been formerly begun but not finished by Giuliano da Maiano, and those who had charge of the matter doubting that the piers were too weak to bear such a weight, they wrote, therefore, to Giuliano, that if he desired such a work, he should go and see it for himself. And having gone, like the bold and able man that he was, he showed them that the cupola could be raised with ease, and that he had courage enough for the task; and so many, and of such a kind, were the reasons that he put before them, that the work was allotted to him. After receiving this commission, he caused the work in Prato to be despatched, and made his way, with the same master-builders and stone-cutters, to Loreto. And to the end that this structure, besides beauty of form, might be firm, solid, stable, and well bound in the stonework, he sent to Rome for pozzolana* [* A friable volcanic tufa.]; nor was any lime used that was not mixed with it, nor any stone built in without it; and thus, within the space of three years, it was brought to perfect completion, ready for use.

Giuliano then went to Rome, where, for Pope Alexander VI, he restored the roof of S. Maria Maggiore, which was falling into ruin; and he made there the ceiling that is to be seen at the present day. While he was thus employed about the Court, Bishop della Rovere, who had been the friend of Giuliano from the time when he was Castellan of Ostia, and who had been created Cardinal of S. Pietro in Vincula, caused him to make a model for the Palace of S. Pietro in Vincula. And a little time after, desiring to build a palace in his own city of Savona, he wished to have it erected likewise from the design and under the eye of Giuliano. But such a journey was difficult for Giuliano, for the reason that his ceiling was not yet finished, and Pope Alexander would not let him go. He entrusted the finishing of it, therefore, to his brother Antonio, who, having a good and versatile intelligence, and coming thus into contact with the Court, entered into the service of the Pope, who conceived a very great affection for him; and this he proved when he resolved to restore, with new foundations and with defences after the manner of a castle, the Mausoleum of Hadrian, now called the Castello di S. Angelo, for Antonio was made overseer of this undertaking, and under his direction were made the great towers below, the ditches, and the rest of the fortifications that we see at the present day. This work brought him great credit with the Pope, and with his son, Duke Valentino ; and it led to his building the fortress that is now to be seen at Civita Castellana. Thus, then, while that Pontiff was alive, he was continually employed in building; and while working for him, he was rewarded by him no less than he was esteemed.

Giuliano had already carried well forward the work at Savona, when the Cardinal returned to Rome on some business of his own, leaving many workmen to bring the building to completion after the directions and design of Giuliano, whom he took with him to Rome. Giuliano made that journey willingly, wishing to see Antonio and his works ; and he stayed there some months. During that time, however, the Cardinal fell into disgrace with the Pope, and departed from Rome, in order not to be taken prisoner, and Giuliano, as before, went in his company. On arriving at Savona, they set a much greater number of master-builders and other artificers to work on the building. But the threats of the Pope against the Cardinal becoming every day louder, it was not long before he made his way to Avignon. From there he sent as a present to the King of France a model for a palace that Giuliano had made for him, which was marvellous, very rich in ornament, and spacious enough for the accommodation of his whole Court. The royal Court was at Lyons when Giuliano presented his model; and the gift was so welcome and acceptable to the King, that he rewarded Giuliano liberally and gave him infinite praise, besides rendering many thanks for it to the Cardinal, who was at Avignon.

Meanwhile they received news that the palace at Savona was already nearly finished; whereupon the Cardinal determined that Giuliano should once more see the work, and Giuliano, having gone for this purpose to Savona, had not been there long when it was completely finished. Then, desiring to return to Florence, where he had not been for a long time, Giuliano took the road for that city together with his master builders. Now at that time the King of France had restored Pisa her liberty, and the war between the Florentines and the Pisans was still raging; and Giuliano, wishing to pass through Pisan territory, had a safe-conduct made out for his company at Lucca, for they had no small apprehension about the Pisan soldiers. Nevertheless, while passing near Altopascio, they were captured by the Pisans, who cared nothing for safe-conducts or for any other warrant that they might have. And for six months Giuliano was detained in Pisa, his ransom being fixed at three hundred ducats; nor was he able to return to Florence until he had paid it.

Antonio had heard this news in Rome, and, desiring to see his native city and his brother again, obtained leave to depart from Rome; and on his way he designed for Duke Valentino the fortress of Montefiascone. Finally, in the year 1503, he reached Florence, where the two brothers and their friends took joyful pleasure in each other's company.

There now ensued the death of Alexander VI, and the election of Pius III, who lived but a short time; whereupon the Cardinal of S. Pietro in Vincula was created Pontiff, under the name of Pope Julius II; which brought great joy to Giuliano, on account of his having been so long in his service, and he determined, therefore, to go to kiss the Pope's foot. Having then arrived in Rome, he was warmly received and welcomed lovingly, and was straightway commissioned to execute the first buildings undertaken by that Pope before the coming of Bramante.

Antonio, who had remained in Florence, continued, in the absence of Giuliano (Piero Soderini being Gonfalonier), the building of the Poggio Imperiale, to which all the Pisan prisoners were sent to labour, in order to finish the work the quicker. After this, by reason of the troubles at Arezzo, the old fortress was destroyed, and Antonio made the model for the new one, with the consent of Giuliano, who had come from Rome for this purpose, but soon returned thither; and this work was the reason that Antonio was appointed architect to the Commune of Florence for all the fortifications.

On the return of Giuliano to Rome, the question was being debated as to whether the divine Michelagnolo Buonarroti should make the tomb of Pope Julius ; whereupon Giuliano exhorted the Pope to pursue that undertaking, adding that it seemed to him that it was necessary to build a special chapel for such a monument, and that it should not be placed in the old S. Pietro, in which there was no space for it, whereas a new chapel would bring out all the perfection of the work. After many architects, then, had made designs, the matter little by little became one of such importance, that, in place of erecting a chapel, a beginning was made with the great fabric of the new S. Pietro. There had arrived in Rome, about that time, the architect Bramante of Castel Durante, who had been in Lombardy; and he went to work in such a manner, with various extraordinary means and methods of his own, and with his fantastic ideas, having on his side Baldassarre Peruzzi, Raffaello da Urbino, and other architects, that he put the whole undertaking into confusion; whereby much time was consumed in discussions. Finally so well did he know how to set about the matter the work was entrusted to him, as the man who had shown the finest judgment, the best intelli- gence, and the greatest invention.

Giuliano, resenting this, for it appeared to him that he had received an affront from the Pope, in view of the faithful service that he had rendered to him when his rank was not so high, and of the promise made to him by the Pope that he should have that building, sought leave to go ; and so, notwithstanding that he was appointed companion to Bramante for other edifices that were being erected in Rome, he departed, and returned, with many gifts received from that Pontiff, to Florence.

This was a great joy to Piero Soderini, who straightway set him to work. Nor had six months gone by, when Messer Bartolommeo della Rovere, the nephew of the Pope, and a friend of Giuliano, wrote to him in the name of his Holiness that he should return for his own advantage to Rome ; but neither terms nor promises availed to move Giuliano, who considered that he had been put to shame by the Pope. Finally, however, a letter was written to Piero Soderini, urging him in one way or another to send Giuliano to Rome, since his Holiness wished to finish the fortifications of the Great Round Tower, which had been begun by Nicholas V, and likewise those of the Borgo and the Belvedere, with other works; and Giuliano allowed himself to be persuaded by Soderini, and therefore went to Rome, where he received a gracious welcome and many gifts from the Pope.

Having afterwards gone to Bologna, from which the Bentivogli had just been driven out, the Pope resolved, by the advice of Giuliano, to have a figure of himself in bronze made by Michelagnolo Buonarroti; and this was carried out, as will be related in the Life of Michelagnolo himself. Giuliano also followed the Pope to Mirandola, and after it was taken, having endured much fatigue and many discomforts, he returned with the Court to Rome. But the furious desire to drive the French out of Italy not having yet got out of the head of the Pope, he strove to wrest the government of Florence out of the hands of Piero Soderini, whose power was no small hindrance to him in the project that he had in mind. Whereupon, since the Pontiff, for these reasons, had turned aside from building and had embroiled himself in wars, Giuliano, by this time weary, and perceiving that attention was being given only to the con- struction of S. Pietro, and not much even to that, sought leave from him to depart. But the Pope answered him in anger, "Do you believe that you are the only Giuliano da San Gallo to be found?" To which he replied that none could be found equal to him in faithful service, while he himself would easily find Princes truer to their promises than the Pope had been towards him. However, the Pontiff would by no means give him leave to go, saying that he would speak to him about it another time.

Meanwhile Bramante, having brought Raffaello da Urbino to Rome, set him to work at painting the Papal apartments; whereupon Giuliano, perceiving that the Pope took great delight in those pictures, and knowing that he wished to have the ceiling of the chapel of his uncle Sixtus painted, spoke to him of Michelagnolo, adding that he had already executed the bronze statue in Bologna. Which news pleased the Pope so much that he sent for Michelagnolo, who, on arriving in Rome, received the commission for the ceiling of that chapel.

A little time after this, Giuliano coming back once more to seek leave from the Pope to depart, his Holiness, seeing him determined on this, was content that he should return to Florence, without forfeiting his favor; and, after having blessed him, he gave him a purse of red satin containing five hundred crowns, telling him that he might return home to rest, but that he would always be his friend. Giuliano, then, having kissed the sacred foot, returned to Florence, at the very time when Pisa was surrounded and besieged by the army of Florence. No sooner had he arrived, therefore, than Piero Soderini, after the due greetings, sent him to the camp to help the military commissaries, who had found themselves unable to prevent the Pisans from passing provisions into Pisa by way of the Arno. Giuliano made a design for a bridge of boats to be built at some better season, and then went back to Florence ; and when spring had come, taking with him his brother Antonio, he made his way to Pisa, where they constructed a bridge, which was a very ingenious piece of work, since, besides the fact that, rising or falling with the water, and being well bound with chains, it stood safe and sound against floods, it carried out the desires of the commissaries in such a manner, cutting off Pisa from access to the sea by way of the Arno, that the Pisans, having no other expedient in their sore straits, were forced to come to terms with the Florentines; and so they surrendered. Nor was it long before the same Piero Soderini again sent Giuliano, with a vast number of master-builders, to Pisa, where with extraordinary swiftness he erected the fortress that still stands at the Porta a S. Marco, and also the gate itself, which he built in the Doric Order. And the while that Giuliano was engaged on this work, which was until the year 1512, Antonio went through the whole dominion, inspecting and restoring the fortresses and other public buildings.

After this, by the favor of the same Pope Julius, the house of Medici was reinstated in the government of Florence, from which they had been driven out on the invasion of Italy by Charles VIII, King of France, and Piero Soderini was expelled from the Palace ; and the Medici showed their gratitude to Giuliano and Antonio for the services that they had rendered in the past to their illustrious family. Now Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici having been elected Pope a short time after the death of Julius II, Giuliano was forced once again to betake himself to Rome ; where, Bramante dying not long after his arrival, it was proposed to give to Giuliano the charge of the building of S. Pietro. But he, being worn out by his labors, and crushed down by old age and by the stone, which made his life a burden, returned by leave of his Holiness to Florence; and that commission was given to the most gracious Raffaello da Urbino. And Giuliano, after two years, was pressed so sorely by his malady, that he died at the age of seventy-four in the year 1517, leaving his name to the world, his body to the earth, and his soul to God.

By his departure he left a heavy burden of sorrow to his brother Antonio, who loved him tenderly, and to a son of his own named Francesco, who was engaged in sculpture, although he was still quite young. This Francesco, who has preserved up to our own day all the treasures of his elders, and holds them in veneration, executed many works at Florence and elsewhere, both in sculpture and in architecture, and by his hand is the Madonna of marble, with the Child in her arms, and lying in the lap of S. Anne, that is in Orsanmichele ; which work, with the figures carved in the round out of one single block, was held, as it still is, to be very beautiful. He has also executed the tomb that Pope Clement caused to be made for Piero de' Medici at Monte Cassino, besides many other works, of which no mention is here made because the said Francesco is still alive.

After the death of Giuliano, Antonio, being a man who was not willing to stay idle, made two large Crucifixes of wood, one of which was sent into Spain, while the other, by order of the Vice-Chancellor, Cardinal Giulio de' Medici, was taken by Domenico Buoninsegni into France. It being then proposed to build the fortress of Livorno, Antonio was sent thither by Cardinal de' Medici to make the design for it ; which he did, although it was afterwards not carried completely into execution, nor even after the method suggested by Antonio. After this, the men of Montepulciano determining, by reason of the miracles wrought by an image of Our Lady, to build a temple for it at very great cost, Antonio made the model for this, and became head of the undertaking ; on which account he visited that building twice a year. At the present day it is to be seen carried to perfect completion, having been executed with supreme grace, and with truly marvellous beauty and variety of com- position, by the genius of Antonio, and all the masonry is of a certain stone that has a tinge of white, after the manner of travertine. It stands without the Porta di S. Biagio, on the right hand, half-way up the slope of the hill. At this time, he made a beginning with a palace in the township of Monte San Sovino, for Antonio di Monte, Cardinal of Santa Prassedia ; and he built another for the same man at Montepulciano, both being executed and finished with extraordinary grace.

He made the design for the side of the buildings of the Servite Friars (in Florence), on their Piazza, following the order of the Loggia of the Innocenti; and at Arezzo he made models for the aisles of the Madonna delle Lacrime, although that work was very badly conceived, because it is out of harmony with the original part of the building, and the arches at the ends are not in true line with the centre. He also made a model for the Madonna of Cortona; but I do not think that this was put into execution. He was employed in the siege on the bastions and fortifications within the city, and in this undertaking he had as a com- panion his nephew Francesco. After this, the Giant of the Piazza, executed by the hand of Michelagnolo, having been set into place in the time of Giuliano, the brother of our Antonio, it was proposed to set up the other, which had been made by Baccio Bandinelli; and the task of bringing it safely into position was given to Antonio, who, taking Baccio d' Agnolo as his companion, carried this out by means of very powerful machines, and placed it in safety on the base that had been prepared for that purpose.

In the end, having become old, he took no pleasure in anything save agriculture, of which he had an excellent knowledge. And then, when on account of old age he was no longer able to bear the discomforts of this world, he rendered up his soul to God, in the year 1534, and was laid to rest by the side of his brother Giuliano in the tomb of the Giamberti, in the Church of S. Maria Novella.

The marvellous works of these two brothers will bear witness before the world to the extraordinary genius that they possessed ; and for their lives, their honourable ways, and their every action, they were held in estimation by all men. Giuliano and Antonio bequeathed to the art of architecture methods that gave the Tuscan Order of building better form than any other architect had yet achieved, and the Doric Order they enriched with better measures and proportions than their predecessors, following the rules and canons of Vitruvius, had been wont to use. They collected in their houses at Florence an infinite number of most beautiful antiquities in marble, which adorned Florence, and still adorn her, no less than those masters honoured themselves and their art. Giuliano brought from Rome the method of casting vaults with such materials as made them ready carved; examples of which may be seen in a room in his own house, and in the vaulting of the Great Hall at Poggio a Cajano, which is still to be seen there. Wherefore we should acknowledge our obligation to their labours, whereby they fortified the dominion of Florence, adorned the city, and gave a name, throughout the many regions where they worked, to Florence and to the intellects of Tuscany, who, to honor their memory, have written to them these verses:

Cedite Romani structores, cedite Grail,

Artis, Vitruvi, tu quoque cede parens.
Etruscos celebrare viros, testudinis arcus,

Urna, tholus, statuae, templa, domusque petunt.

 

 

 

GIULIANO AND ANTONIO DA SAN GALLO
ARCHITECTS OF FLORENCE

Vasari's Lives of the Artists



FRANCESCO DI PAOLO GIAMBERTI, who was a passing good architect in the time of Cosimo de' Medici, and was much employed by him, had two sons, Giuliano and Antonio, whom he apprenticed to the art of wood-carving. One of these two sons, Giuliano, he placed with Francione, a joiner, an ingenious person, who gave attention at the same time to woodcarving and to perspective, and with whom Francesco was very intimate, since they had executed many works in company, both in carving and in architecture, for Lorenzo de' Medici. This Giuliano learnt so well all that Francione taught him, that the carvings and beautiful perspectives that he afterwards executed by himself in the choir of the Duomo of Pisa are still regarded not without marvel at the present day, even among the many new perspectives.

While Giuliano was studying design, and his young blood ran hot in his veins, the army of the Duke of Calabria, by reason of the hatred which that lord bore to Lorenzo de' Medici, encamped before Castellina, in order to occupy the dominions of the Signoria of Florence, and also, if this should be successful, in order to accomplish some greater design. Wherefore Lorenzo the Magnificent was forced to send an engineer to Castellina, who might make mills and bastions, and should have the charge of handling the artillery, which few men at that time were able to do ; and he sent thither Giuliano, considering . him to have a mind more able, more ready, and more resolute than any other man, and knowing him already as the son of Francesco, who had been a devoted servant of the House of Medici.

Arriving at Castellina, therefore, Giuliano fortified that place with good walls and mills, both within and without, and furnished it with everything else necessary for the defence. Then, observing that the artillery-men stood at a great distance from their pieces, handling, loading, and discharging them with much timidity, he gave his attention to this, and so contrived that from that time onwards the artillery did harm to no one, whereas it had previously killed many of them, since they had not had judgment and knowledge enough to avoid suffering injury from the recoil. Having therefore taken charge of the artillery, Giuliano showed great skill in discharging it to the best possible ad- vantage ; and the Duke's forces so lost heart by reason of this and other adverse circumstances, that they were glad to make terms and depart from the town. In consequence of this Giuliano won no little praise from Lorenzo in Florence, and was looked upon with favor and affection ever afterwards.

Having meanwhile given his attention to architecture, he began the first cloister of the Monastery of Cestello, and executed that part of it that is seen to be of the Ionic Order; placing capitals on the columns with volutes curving downwards to the collarino, where the shaft of the column ends, and making, below the ovoli and the fusarole, a frieze, one-third in height of the diameter of the column. This capital was copied from a very ancient one of marble, found at Fiesole by Messer Leonardo Salutati, Bishop of that place, who kept it for some time, together with other antiquities, in a house and garden that he occupied in the Via di S. Gallo, opposite to S. Agata; and it is now in the possession of Messer Giovan Batista da Ricasoli, Bishop of Pistoia, and is prized for its beauty and variety, since among the ancient capitals there has not been seen another like it. But that cloister remained unfinished, because those monks were not then able to bear such an expense.

Meanwhile Giuliano had come into even greater credit with Lorenzo; and the latter, who was intending to build a palace at Poggio a Cajano, a place between Florence and Pistoia, and had caused several models to be made for it by Francione and by others, commissioned Giuliano, also, to make one of the sort of building that he proposed to erect. And Giuliano made it so completely different in form from the others, and so much to Lorenzo's fancy, that he began straightway to have it carried into execution, as the best of all the models; on which account he took Giuliano even more into his favour, and ever afterwards gave him an allowance.

After this, Giuliano wishing to make a vaulted ceiling for the great hall of that palace in the manner that we call barrel-shaped, Lorenzo could not believe, on account of the great space, that it could be raised. Whereupon Giuliano, who was building a house for himself in Florence, made a ceiling for his hall according to the design of the other, in order to convince the mind of that Magnificent Prince; and Lorenzo therefore gave orders for the ceiling at the Poggio to be carried out, which was successfully done.

By that time the fame of Giuliano had so increased, that, at the entreaty of the Duke of Calabria, he was commissioned by Lorenzo the Magnificent to make the model for a palace that was to be built at Naples; and he spent a long time over executing it. Now while he was working at this, the Castellan of Ostia, then Bishop della Rovere, who after a time became Pope Julius II, wishing to restore that stronghold and to put it into good order, and having heard the fame of Giuliano, sent to Florence for him; and, having supplied him with a good provision, he kept him employed for two years in making therein all the useful improvements that he was able to execute by means of his art. And to the end that the model for the Duke of Calabria might not be neglected, but might be brought to conclusion, he left it to his brother Antonio, who finished it according to his directions, which, in executing it and carrying it to completion, he followed with great diligence, for he was no less competent in that art than Giuliano himself. Now Giuliano was advised by the elder Lorenzo to present it in person, to the end that he might show from the model itself the difficulties that he had triumphed over in making it. Whereupon he departed for Naples, and, having presented the work, was received with honor; for men were as much impressed by the gracious manner in which the Magnificent Lorenzo had sent him, as they were struck with marvel at the masterly work in the model, which gave such satisfaction that the building was straightway begun near the Castel Nuovo.

After Giuliano had been some time in Naples, he sought leave from the Duke to return to Florence; whereupon he was presented by the King with horses and garments, and, among other things, with a silver cup containing some hundreds of ducats. These things Giuliano would not accept, saying that he served a patron who had no need of silver or gold, but that if he did indeed wish to give him some present or some token of approbation, to show that he had been in that city, he might bestow upon him some of his antiquities, which he would choose himself. These the King granted to him most liberally, both for love of the Magnificent Lorenzo and on account of Giuliano's own worth; and they were a head of the Emperor Hadrian, which is now above the door of the garden at the house of the Medici, a nude woman, more than life size, and a Cupid sleeping, all in marble and in the round. Giuliano sent them as presents to the Magnificent Lorenzo, who expressed vast delight at the gift, and never tired of praising the action of this most liberal of craftsmen, who had refused gold and silver for the sake of art, a thing which few would have done. That Cupid is now in the guardaroba of Duke Cosimo.

Having then returned to Florence, Giuliano was received most graciously by the Magnificent Lorenzo. Now the fancy had taken that Prince to build a convent capable of holding a hundred friars, without the Porta S. Gallo, in order to give satisfaction to Fra Mariano da Ghinazzano, a most learned member of the Order of Eremite Friars of S. Augustine. For this convent models were made by many architects, and in the end that of Giuliano was put into execution, which was the reason that Lorenzo, from this work, gave him the name of Giuliano da San Gallo. Wherefore Giuliano, who heard himself called by everyone "da San Gallo/' said one day in jest to the Magnificent Lorenzo, "By giving me this new name of "da San Gallo" you are making me lose the ancient name of my house, so that, in place of going forward in the matter of lineage, as I thought to do, I am going backward." Whereupon Lorenzo answered that he would rather have him become the founder of a new house through his own worth, than depend on others; at which Giuliano was well content.

Meanwhile the work of S. Gallo was carried on, together with Lorenzo's other buildings; but neither the convent nor the others were finished, by reason of the death of Lorenzo. And even the completed part of this structure of S. Gallo did not long remain standing, because in 1530, on account of the siege of Florence, it was destroyed and thrown to the ground, together with the whole suburb, the piazza of which was completely surrounded by very beautiful buildings; and at the present day there is no trace to be seen there of house, church, or convent.

At this time there took place the death of the King of Naples, whereupon Giuliano Gondi, a very rich Florentine merchant, returned from that city to Florence, and commissioned Giuliano da San Gallo, with whom he had become very intimate on account of his visit to Naples, to build him a palace in rustic work, opposite to S. Firenze, above the place where the lions used to be. This palace was to form the angle of the piazza and to face the old Mercatanzia; but the death of Giuliano Gondi put a stop to the work. In it, among other things, Giuliano made a chimney-piece, very rich in carvings, and so varied and beautiful in composition, that up to that time there had never been seen the like, nor one with such a wealth of figures. The same master made a palace for a Venetian in Camerata, without the Porta a Pinti, and many houses for private citizens, of which there is no need to make mention.

Lorenzo the Magnificent, in order to benefit the commonwealth and adorn the State, and at the same time to leave behind him some splendid monument, in addition to the endless number that he had already erected, wished to execute the fortification of the Poggio Imperiale, above Poggibonsi, on the road to Rome, with a view to founding a city there; and he would not lay it out without the advice and design of Giuliano. Wherefore that master began that most famous structure, in which he made the well-designed and beautiful range of fortifications that we see at the present day.

These works brought him such fame, that he was then summoned to Milan, through the mediation of Lorenzo, by the Duke of Milan, to the end that he might make for him the model of a palace ; and there Giuliano was no less honoured by the Duke than he had previously been honoured by the King of Naples, when that Sovereign had invited him to that city. For when he had presented the model to him, on the part of the Magnificent Lorenzo, the Duke was filled with astonishment and marvel at seeing the vast number of beautiful adornments in it, so well arranged and distributed, and all accommodated in their places with art and grace; for which reason all the materials necessary for the work were got together, and they began to put it into execution. In the same city, together with Giuliano, was Leonardo da Vinci, who was working for the Duke ; and Leonardo, speaking with Giuliano about the casting of the horse that he was proposing to make, received from him some excellent suggestions. This work was broken to pieces on the arrival of the French, so that the horse was never finished; nor could the palace be brought to completion.

Having returned to Florence, Giuliano found that his brother Antonio, who worked for him on his models, had become so excellent, that there was no one in his day who was a better master in carving, particularly for large Crucifixes of wood; to which witness is borne by the one over the high-altar of the Nunziata in Florence, by another that is kept by the Friars of S. Gallo in S. Jacopo tra Fossi, and by a third in the Company of the Scalzo, which are all held to be very good. But Giuliano removed him from that profession and caused him to give his attention to architecture, in company with himself, since he had many works to execute, both public and private.

Now it happened, as it is always happening, that Fortune, the enemy of talent, robbed the followers of the arts of their hope and support by the death of Lorenzo de' Medici, which was a heavy loss not only to all able craftsmen and to his country, but also to all Italy. Wherefore Giuliano, together with all the other lofty spirits, was left wholly inconsolable; and in his grief he betook himself to Prato, near Florence, in order to build the Temple of the Madonna delle Carcere, since all building in Florence, both public and private, was at a standstill. He lived in Prato, therefore, three whole years, supporting the expense, discomfort, and sorrow as best he could.

At the end of that time, it being proposed to roof the Church of the Madonna at Loreto, and to raise the cupola, which had been formerly begun but not finished by Giuliano da Maiano, and those who had charge of the matter doubting that the piers were too weak to bear such a weight, they wrote, therefore, to Giuliano, that if he desired such a work, he should go and see it for himself. And having gone, like the bold and able man that he was, he showed them that the cupola could be raised with ease, and that he had courage enough for the task; and so many, and of such a kind, were the reasons that he put before them, that the work was allotted to him. After receiving this commission, he caused the work in Prato to be despatched, and made his way, with the same master-builders and stone-cutters, to Loreto. And to the end that this structure, besides beauty of form, might be firm, solid, stable, and well bound in the stonework, he sent to Rome for pozzolana* [* A friable volcanic tufa.]; nor was any lime used that was not mixed with it, nor any stone built in without it; and thus, within the space of three years, it was brought to perfect completion, ready for use.

Giuliano then went to Rome, where, for Pope Alexander VI, he restored the roof of S. Maria Maggiore, which was falling into ruin; and he made there the ceiling that is to be seen at the present day. While he was thus employed about the Court, Bishop della Rovere, who had been the friend of Giuliano from the time when he was Castellan of Ostia, and who had been created Cardinal of S. Pietro in Vincula, caused him to make a model for the Palace of S. Pietro in Vincula. And a little time after, desiring to build a palace in his own city of Savona, he wished to have it erected likewise from the design and under the eye of Giuliano. But such a journey was difficult for Giuliano, for the reason that his ceiling was not yet finished, and Pope Alexander would not let him go. He entrusted the finishing of it, therefore, to his brother Antonio, who, having a good and versatile intelligence, and coming thus into contact with the Court, entered into the service of the Pope, who conceived a very great affection for him; and this he proved when he resolved to restore, with new foundations and with defences after the manner of a castle, the Mausoleum of Hadrian, now called the Castello di S. Angelo, for Antonio was made overseer of this undertaking, and under his direction were made the great towers below, the ditches, and the rest of the fortifications that we see at the present day. This work brought him great credit with the Pope, and with his son, Duke Valentino ; and it led to his building the fortress that is now to be seen at Civita Castellana. Thus, then, while that Pontiff was alive, he was continually employed in building; and while working for him, he was rewarded by him no less than he was esteemed.

Giuliano had already carried well forward the work at Savona, when the Cardinal returned to Rome on some business of his own, leaving many workmen to bring the building to completion after the directions and design of Giuliano, whom he took with him to Rome. Giuliano made that journey willingly, wishing to see Antonio and his works ; and he stayed there some months. During that time, however, the Cardinal fell into disgrace with the Pope, and departed from Rome, in order not to be taken prisoner, and Giuliano, as before, went in his company. On arriving at Savona, they set a much greater number of master-builders and other artificers to work on the building. But the threats of the Pope against the Cardinal becoming every day louder, it was not long before he made his way to Avignon. From there he sent as a present to the King of France a model for a palace that Giuliano had made for him, which was marvellous, very rich in ornament, and spacious enough for the accommodation of his whole Court. The royal Court was at Lyons when Giuliano presented his model; and the gift was so welcome and acceptable to the King, that he rewarded Giuliano liberally and gave him infinite praise, besides rendering many thanks for it to the Cardinal, who was at Avignon.

Meanwhile they received news that the palace at Savona was already nearly finished; whereupon the Cardinal determined that Giuliano should once more see the work, and Giuliano, having gone for this purpose to Savona, had not been there long when it was completely finished. Then, desiring to return to Florence, where he had not been for a long time, Giuliano took the road for that city together with his master builders. Now at that time the King of France had restored Pisa her liberty, and the war between the Florentines and the Pisans was still raging; and Giuliano, wishing to pass through Pisan territory, had a safe-conduct made out for his company at Lucca, for they had no small apprehension about the Pisan soldiers. Nevertheless, while passing near Altopascio, they were captured by the Pisans, who cared nothing for safe-conducts or for any other warrant that they might have. And for six months Giuliano was detained in Pisa, his ransom being fixed at three hundred ducats; nor was he able to return to Florence until he had paid it.

Antonio had heard this news in Rome, and, desiring to see his native city and his brother again, obtained leave to depart from Rome; and on his way he designed for Duke Valentino the fortress of Montefiascone. Finally, in the year 1503, he reached Florence, where the two brothers and their friends took joyful pleasure in each other's company.

There now ensued the death of Alexander VI, and the election of Pius III, who lived but a short time; whereupon the Cardinal of S. Pietro in Vincula was created Pontiff, under the name of Pope Julius II; which brought great joy to Giuliano, on account of his having been so long in his service, and he determined, therefore, to go to kiss the Pope's foot. Having then arrived in Rome, he was warmly received and welcomed lovingly, and was straightway commissioned to execute the first buildings undertaken by that Pope before the coming of Bramante.

Antonio, who had remained in Florence, continued, in the absence of Giuliano (Piero Soderini being Gonfalonier), the building of the Poggio Imperiale, to which all the Pisan prisoners were sent to labour, in order to finish the work the quicker. After this, by reason of the troubles at Arezzo, the old fortress was destroyed, and Antonio made the model for the new one, with the consent of Giuliano, who had come from Rome for this purpose, but soon returned thither; and this work was the reason that Antonio was appointed architect to the Commune of Florence for all the fortifications.

On the return of Giuliano to Rome, the question was being debated as to whether the divine Michelagnolo Buonarroti should make the tomb of Pope Julius ; whereupon Giuliano exhorted the Pope to pursue that undertaking, adding that it seemed to him that it was necessary to build a special chapel for such a monument, and that it should not be placed in the old S. Pietro, in which there was no space for it, whereas a new chapel would bring out all the perfection of the work. After many architects, then, had made designs, the matter little by little became one of such importance, that, in place of erecting a chapel, a beginning was made with the great fabric of the new S. Pietro. There had arrived in Rome, about that time, the architect Bramante of Castel Durante, who had been in Lombardy; and he went to work in such a manner, with various extraordinary means and methods of his own, and with his fantastic ideas, having on his side Baldassarre Peruzzi, Raffaello da Urbino, and other architects, that he put the whole undertaking into confusion; whereby much time was consumed in discussions. Finally so well did he know how to set about the matter the work was entrusted to him, as the man who had shown the finest judgment, the best intelli- gence, and the greatest invention.

Giuliano, resenting this, for it appeared to him that he had received an affront from the Pope, in view of the faithful service that he had rendered to him when his rank was not so high, and of the promise made to him by the Pope that he should have that building, sought leave to go ; and so, notwithstanding that he was appointed companion to Bramante for other edifices that were being erected in Rome, he departed, and returned, with many gifts received from that Pontiff, to Florence.

This was a great joy to Piero Soderini, who straightway set him to work. Nor had six months gone by, when Messer Bartolommeo della Rovere, the nephew of the Pope, and a friend of Giuliano, wrote to him in the name of his Holiness that he should return for his own advantage to Rome ; but neither terms nor promises availed to move Giuliano, who considered that he had been put to shame by the Pope. Finally, however, a letter was written to Piero Soderini, urging him in one way or another to send Giuliano to Rome, since his Holiness wished to finish the fortifications of the Great Round Tower, which had been begun by Nicholas V, and likewise those of the Borgo and the Belvedere, with other works; and Giuliano allowed himself to be persuaded by Soderini, and therefore went to Rome, where he received a gracious welcome and many gifts from the Pope.

Having afterwards gone to Bologna, from which the Bentivogli had just been driven out, the Pope resolved, by the advice of Giuliano, to have a figure of himself in bronze made by Michelagnolo Buonarroti; and this was carried out, as will be related in the Life of Michelagnolo himself. Giuliano also followed the Pope to Mirandola, and after it was taken, having endured much fatigue and many discomforts, he returned with the Court to Rome. But the furious desire to drive the French out of Italy not having yet got out of the head of the Pope, he strove to wrest the government of Florence out of the hands of Piero Soderini, whose power was no small hindrance to him in the project that he had in mind. Whereupon, since the Pontiff, for these reasons, had turned aside from building and had embroiled himself in wars, Giuliano, by this time weary, and perceiving that attention was being given only to the con- struction of S. Pietro, and not much even to that, sought leave from him to depart. But the Pope answered him in anger, "Do you believe that you are the only Giuliano da San Gallo to be found?" To which he replied that none could be found equal to him in faithful service, while he himself would easily find Princes truer to their promises than the Pope had been towards him. However, the Pontiff would by no means give him leave to go, saying that he would speak to him about it another time.

Meanwhile Bramante, having brought Raffaello da Urbino to Rome, set him to work at painting the Papal apartments; whereupon Giuliano, perceiving that the Pope took great delight in those pictures, and knowing that he wished to have the ceiling of the chapel of his uncle Sixtus painted, spoke to him of Michelagnolo, adding that he had already executed the bronze statue in Bologna. Which news pleased the Pope so much that he sent for Michelagnolo, who, on arriving in Rome, received the commission for the ceiling of that chapel.

A little time after this, Giuliano coming back once more to seek leave from the Pope to depart, his Holiness, seeing him determined on this, was content that he should return to Florence, without forfeiting his favor; and, after having blessed him, he gave him a purse of red satin containing five hundred crowns, telling him that he might return home to rest, but that he would always be his friend. Giuliano, then, having kissed the sacred foot, returned to Florence, at the very time when Pisa was surrounded and besieged by the army of Florence. No sooner had he arrived, therefore, than Piero Soderini, after the due greetings, sent him to the camp to help the military commissaries, who had found themselves unable to prevent the Pisans from passing provisions into Pisa by way of the Arno. Giuliano made a design for a bridge of boats to be built at some better season, and then went back to Florence ; and when spring had come, taking with him his brother Antonio, he made his way to Pisa, where they constructed a bridge, which was a very ingenious piece of work, since, besides the fact that, rising or falling with the water, and being well bound with chains, it stood safe and sound against floods, it carried out the desires of the commissaries in such a manner, cutting off Pisa from access to the sea by way of the Arno, that the Pisans, having no other expedient in their sore straits, were forced to come to terms with the Florentines; and so they surrendered. Nor was it long before the same Piero Soderini again sent Giuliano, with a vast number of master-builders, to Pisa, where with extraordinary swiftness he erected the fortress that still stands at the Porta a S. Marco, and also the gate itself, which he built in the Doric Order. And the while that Giuliano was engaged on this work, which was until the year 1512, Antonio went through the whole dominion, inspecting and restoring the fortresses and other public buildings.

After this, by the favor of the same Pope Julius, the house of Medici was reinstated in the government of Florence, from which they had been driven out on the invasion of Italy by Charles VIII, King of France, and Piero Soderini was expelled from the Palace ; and the Medici showed their gratitude to Giuliano and Antonio for the services that they had rendered in the past to their illustrious family. Now Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici having been elected Pope a short time after the death of Julius II, Giuliano was forced once again to betake himself to Rome ; where, Bramante dying not long after his arrival, it was proposed to give to Giuliano the charge of the building of S. Pietro. But he, being worn out by his labors, and crushed down by old age and by the stone, which made his life a burden, returned by leave of his Holiness to Florence; and that commission was given to the most gracious Raffaello da Urbino. And Giuliano, after two years, was pressed so sorely by his malady, that he died at the age of seventy-four in the year 1517, leaving his name to the world, his body to the earth, and his soul to God.

By his departure he left a heavy burden of sorrow to his brother Antonio, who loved him tenderly, and to a son of his own named Francesco, who was engaged in sculpture, although he was still quite young. This Francesco, who has preserved up to our own day all the treasures of his elders, and holds them in veneration, executed many works at Florence and elsewhere, both in sculpture and in architecture, and by his hand is the Madonna of marble, with the Child in her arms, and lying in the lap of S. Anne, that is in Orsanmichele ; which work, with the figures carved in the round out of one single block, was held, as it still is, to be very beautiful. He has also executed the tomb that Pope Clement caused to be made for Piero de' Medici at Monte Cassino, besides many other works, of which no mention is here made because the said Francesco is still alive.

After the death of Giuliano, Antonio, being a man who was not willing to stay idle, made two large Crucifixes of wood, one of which was sent into Spain, while the other, by order of the Vice-Chancellor, Cardinal Giulio de' Medici, was taken by Domenico Buoninsegni into France. It being then proposed to build the fortress of Livorno, Antonio was sent thither by Cardinal de' Medici to make the design for it ; which he did, although it was afterwards not carried completely into execution, nor even after the method suggested by Antonio. After this, the men of Montepulciano determining, by reason of the miracles wrought by an image of Our Lady, to build a temple for it at very great cost, Antonio made the model for this, and became head of the undertaking ; on which account he visited that building twice a year. At the present day it is to be seen carried to perfect completion, having been executed with supreme grace, and with truly marvellous beauty and variety of com- position, by the genius of Antonio, and all the masonry is of a certain stone that has a tinge of white, after the manner of travertine. It stands without the Porta di S. Biagio, on the right hand, half-way up the slope of the hill. At this time, he made a beginning with a palace in the township of Monte San Sovino, for Antonio di Monte, Cardinal of Santa Prassedia ; and he built another for the same man at Montepulciano, both being executed and finished with extraordinary grace.

He made the design for the side of the buildings of the Servite Friars (in Florence), on their Piazza, following the order of the Loggia of the Innocenti; and at Arezzo he made models for the aisles of the Madonna delle Lacrime, although that work was very badly conceived, because it is out of harmony with the original part of the building, and the arches at the ends are not in true line with the centre. He also made a model for the Madonna of Cortona; but I do not think that this was put into execution. He was employed in the siege on the bastions and fortifications within the city, and in this undertaking he had as a com- panion his nephew Francesco. After this, the Giant of the Piazza, executed by the hand of Michelagnolo, having been set into place in the time of Giuliano, the brother of our Antonio, it was proposed to set up the other, which had been made by Baccio Bandinelli; and the task of bringing it safely into position was given to Antonio, who, taking Baccio d' Agnolo as his companion, carried this out by means of very powerful machines, and placed it in safety on the base that had been prepared for that purpose.

In the end, having become old, he took no pleasure in anything save agriculture, of which he had an excellent knowledge. And then, when on account of old age he was no longer able to bear the discomforts of this world, he rendered up his soul to God, in the year 1534, and was laid to rest by the side of his brother Giuliano in the tomb of the Giamberti, in the Church of S. Maria Novella.

The marvellous works of these two brothers will bear witness before the world to the extraordinary genius that they possessed ; and for their lives, their honourable ways, and their every action, they were held in estimation by all men. Giuliano and Antonio bequeathed to the art of architecture methods that gave the Tuscan Order of building better form than any other architect had yet achieved, and the Doric Order they enriched with better measures and proportions than their predecessors, following the rules and canons of Vitruvius, had been wont to use. They collected in their houses at Florence an infinite number of most beautiful antiquities in marble, which adorned Florence, and still adorn her, no less than those masters honoured themselves and their art. Giuliano brought from Rome the method of casting vaults with such materials as made them ready carved; examples of which may be seen in a room in his own house, and in the vaulting of the Great Hall at Poggio a Cajano, which is still to be seen there. Wherefore we should acknowledge our obligation to their labours, whereby they fortified the dominion of Florence, adorned the city, and gave a name, throughout the many regions where they worked, to Florence and to the intellects of Tuscany, who, to honor their memory, have written to them these verses:

Cedite Romani structores, cedite Grail,

Artis, Vitruvi, tu quoque cede parens.
Etruscos celebrare viros, testudinis arcus,

Urna, tholus, statuae, templa, domusque petunt.

 

 

 

RAPHAEL Sanzio (1483-1520)
Painter and Architect

Vasari's Lives of the Artists



HOW BOUNTIFUL AND BENIGN Heaven sometimes shows itself in showering upon one single person the infinite riches of its treasures, and all those graces and rarest gifts that it is wont to distribute among many individuals, over a long space of time, could be clearly seen in the no less excellent than gracious Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, who was endowed by nature with all that modesty and goodness which are seen at times in those who, beyond all other men, have added to their natural sweetness and gentleness the beautiful adornment of courtesy and grace, by reason of which they always show themselves agreeable and pleasant to every sort of person and in all their actions. Him nature presented to the world, when, vanquished by art through the hands of Michelagnolo Buonarroti, she wished to be vanquished, in Raffaello, by art and character together. And in truth, since the greater part of the craftsmen who had lived up to that time had received from nature a certain element of savagery and madness, which, besides making them strange and eccentric, had brought it about that very often there was revealed in them rather the obscure darkness of vice than the brightness and splendour of those virtues that make men immortal, there was right good reason for her to cause to shine out brilliantly in Raffaello, as a contrast to the others, all the rarest qualities of the mind, accompanied by such grace, industry, beauty, modesty, and excellence of character, as would have sufficed to efface any vice, however hideous, and any blot, were it ever so great. Wherefore it may be surely said that those who are the possessors of such rare and numerous gifts as were seen in Raffaello da Urbino, are not merely men, but, if it be not a sin to say it, mortal gods; and that those who, by means of their works, leave an honourable name written in the archives of fame in this earthly world of ours, can also hope to have to enjoy in Heaven a worthy reward for their labors and merits.

Raffaello was born at Urbino, a very famous city in Italy, at three o'clock of the night on Good Friday, in the year 1483, to a father named Giovanni de' Santi, a painter of no great excellence, and yet a man of good intelligence, well able to direct his children on that good path which he himself had not been fortunate enough to have shown to him in his boyhood. And since Giovanni knew how important it is to rear infants, not with the milk of nurses, but with that of their own mothers, no sooner was Raffaello born, to whom with happy augury he gave that name at baptism, than he insisted that this his only child--and he had no more afterwards--should be suckled by his own mother, and that in his tender years he should have his character formed in the house of his parents, rather than learn less gentle or even boorish ways and habits in the houses of peasants or common people. When he was well grown, he began to exercise him in painting, seeing him much inclined to such an art, and possessed of a very beautiful genius: wherefore not many years passed before Raffaello, still a boy, became a great help to Giovanni in many works that he executed in the state of Urbino. In the end, this good and loving father, knowing that his son could learn little from him, made up his mind to place him with Pietro Perugino, who, as he heard tell, held the first place among painters at that time. He went, herefore, to Perugia: but not finding Pietro there, he set himself, in order to lessen the annoyance of waiting for him, to execute some works in S. Francesco. When Pietro had returned from Rome, Giovanni, who was a gentle and well-bred person, formed a friendship with him, and, when the time appeared to have come, in the most adroit method that he knew, told him his desire. And so Pietro, who was very courteous and a lover of beautiful genius, agreed to have Raffaello: whereupon Giovanni, going off rejoicing to Urbino, took the boy, not without many tears on the part of his mother, who loved him dearly, and brought him to Perugia, where Pietro, after seeing Raffaello's method of drawing, and his beautiful manners and character, formed a judgment of him which time, from the result, proved to be very true.

It is a very notable thing that Raffaello, studying the manner of Pietro, imitated it in every respect so closely, that his copies could not be distinguished from his master's originals, and it was not possible to see any clear difference between his works and Pietro's; as is still evident from some figures in a panel in S. Francesco at Perugia, which he executed in oils for Madonna Maddalena degli Oddi. These are a Madonna who has risen into Heaven, with Jesus Christ crowning her, while below, round the sepulchre, are the twelve Apostles, contemplating the Celestial Glory, and at the foot of the panel is a predella divided into three scenes, painted with little figures, of the Madonna receiving the Annunciation from the Angel, of the Magi adoring Christ, and of Christ in the arms of Simeon in the Temple. This work is executed with truly supreme diligence; and one who had not a good knowledge of the two manners, would hold it as certain that it is by the hand of Pietro, whereas it is without a doubt by the hand of Raffaello.

After this work, Pietro returning to Florence on some business of his own, Raffaello departed from Perugia and went off with some friends to Citta' di Castello, where he painted a panel for S. Agostino in the same manner, and likewise one of a Crucifixion for S. Domenico, which, if his name were not written upon it, no one would believe to be a work by Raffaello, but rather by Pietro. For S. Francesco, also in the same city, he painted a little panel-picture of the Marriage of Our Lady, in which one may recognize the excellence of Raffaello increasing and growing in refinement, and surpassing the manner of Pietro. In this work is a temple drawn in perspective with such loving care, that it is a marvellous thing to see the difficulties that he was for ever seeking out in this branch of his profession.

Meanwhile, when he had acquired very great fame by following his master's manner, Pope Pius II had given the commission for painting the library of the Duomo at Siena to Pinturicchio; and he, being a friend of Raffaello, and knowing him to be an excellent draughtsman, brought him to Siena, where Raffaello made for him some of the drawings and cartoons for that work. The reason that he did not continue at it was that some painters in Siena kept extolling with vast praise the cartoon that Leonardo da Vinci had made in the Sala del Papa of a very beautiful group of horsemen, to be painted afterwards in the Hall of the Palace of the Signoria, and likewise some nudes executed by Michelagnolo Buonarroti in competition with Leonardo, and much better; and Raffaello, on account of the love that he always bore to the excellent in art, was seized by such a desire to see them, that, putting aside that work and all thought of his own advantage and comfort, he went off to Florence.

Having arrived there, and being pleased no less with the city than with those works, which appeared to him to be divine, he determined to take up his abode there for some time; and thus he formed a friendship with some young painters, among whom were Ridolfo Ghirlandajo, Aristotile da San Gallo, and others, and became much honored in that city, particularly by Taddeo Taddei, who, being one who always loved any man inclined to excellence, would have him ever in his house and at his table. And Raffaello, who was gentleness itself, in order not to be beaten in courtesy, made him two pictures, which incline to his first manner, derived from Pietro, but also to the other much better manner that he afterwards acquired by study, as will be related; which pictures are still in the house of the heirs of the said Taddeo.

Raffaello also formed a very great friendship with Lorenzo Nasi; and for this Lorenzo, who had taken a wife about that time, he painted a picture in which he made a Madonna, and between her legs her Son, to whom a little S. John, full of joy, is offering a bird, with great delight and pleasure for both of them. In the attitude of each is a certain childlike simplicity which is wholly lovely, besides that they are so well colored, and executed with such diligence, that they appear to be rather of living flesh than wrought by means of colour and draughtsmanship; the Madonna, likewise, has an air truly full of grace and divinity; and the foreground, the landscapes, and in short all the rest of the work, are [Pg 213] most beautiful. This picture was held by Lorenzo Nasi, as long as he lived, in very great veneration, both in memory of Raffaello, who had been so much his friend, and on account of the dignity and excellence of the work; but afterwards, on August 9, in the year 1548, it met an evil fate, when, on account of the collapse of the hill of S. Giorgio, the house of Lorenzo fell down, together with the ornate and beautiful houses of the heirs of Marco del Nero, and other neighboring dwellings. However, the pieces of the picture being found among the fragments of the ruins, the son of Lorenzo, Battista, who was a great lover of art, had them put together again as well as was possible.

After these works, Raffaello was forced to depart from Florence and go to Urbino, where, on account of the death of his mother and of his father Giovanni, all his affairs were in confusion. While he was living in Urbino, therefore, he painted for Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, then Captain of the Florentines, two pictures of Our Lady, small but very beautiful, and in his second manner, which are now in the possession of the most illustrious and excellent Guidobaldo, Duke of Urbino. For the same patron he painted a little picture of Christ praying in the Garden, with the three Apostles sleeping at some distance from Him. This painting is so highly finished, that a miniature could not be better, or in any way different; and after having been a long time in the possession of Francesco Maria, Duke of Urbino, it was then presented by the most illustrious Signora Leonora, his consort, to the Venetians Don Paolo Giustiniano and Don Pietro Quirini, hermits of the holy Hermitage of Camaldoli, who afterwards placed it, as a relic and a very rare thing, and, in a word, as a work by the hand of Raffaello da Urbino, and also to honor the memory of that most illustrious lady, in the apartment of the Superior of that hermitage, where it is held in the veneration that it deserves.

Having executed these works and settled his affairs, Raffaello returned to Perugia, where he painted a panel picture of Our Lady, S. John the Baptist, and S. Nicholas, for the Chapel of the Ansidei in the Church of the Servite Friars. And in the Chapel of the Madonna in S. Severo, a little monastery of the Order of Camaldoli, in the same city, he painted in fresco a Christ in Glory, and a God the Father with angels round Him, and six saints seated, S. Benedict, S. Romualdo, S. Laurence, S. Jerome, S. Mauro, and S. Placido, three on either side; and on this picture, which was held at that time to be most beautiful for a work in fresco, he wrote his name in large and very legible letters. In the same city, also, he was commissioned by the Nuns of S. Anthony of Padua to paint a panel picture of Our Lady, with Jesus Christ fully dressed, as it pleased those simple and venerable sisters, in her lap, and on either side of the Madonna S. Peter, S. Paul, S. Cecilia, and S. Catherine; to which two holy virgins he gave the sweetest and most lovely expressions of countenance and the most beautifully varied headdresses that are anywhere to be seen, which was a rare thing in those times. Above this panel, in a lunette, he painted a very beautiful God the Father, and in the predella of the altar three scenes with little figures, of Christ praying in the Garden, bearing the Cross (wherein are some soldiers dragging Him along with most beautiful movements), and lying dead in the lap of His Mother. This work is truly marvellous and devout; and it is held in great veneration by those nuns, and much extolled by all painters.

I will not refrain from saying that it was recognized, after he had been in Florence, that he changed and improved his manner so much, from having seen many works by the hands of excellent masters, that it had nothing to do with his earlier manner; indeed, the two might have belonged to different masters, one much more excellent than the other in painting.

Before he departed from Perugia, Madonna Atalanta Baglioni besought him that he should consent to paint a panel for her chapel in the Church of S. Francesco; but since he was not able to meet her wishes at that time, he promised her that, after returning from Florence, whither he was obliged to go on some affairs, he would not fail her. And so, having come to Florence, where he applied himself with incredible labor to the studies of his art, he made the cartoon for that chapel, with the intention of going, as he did, as soon as the occasion might present itself, to put it into execution.

 

 

 

GUGLIELMO DA MARCILLAT
FRENCH PAINTER AND MASTER OF GLASS WINDOWS

Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists





AT THIS SAME TIME, wherein our arts were endowed by God with the greatest felicity that they could possibly enjoy, there flourished one Guglielmo da Marcilla, a Frenchman, who, from his constant residence in Arezzo, and from the affection that he bore to that city, may be said to have chosen it for his country, insomuch that all men considered and called him an Aretine. And, in truth, among the benefits that are derived from ability, one is that from whatever strange and distant region and from however barbarous and unknown a race a man may come, be he who he may, if only he has a mind adorned with ability and practises some ingenious craft with his hands, no sooner does he make his first appearance in each city to which he turns his steps, demonstrating his worth, than the skill of his hand works so powerfully, that his name, passing from lip to lip, in a short time waxes great, and his qualities become very highly prized and honored. And it happens often to a great number of men, who have left their country far behind them, that they chance upon nations that are lovers of ability and of foreigners, where, by reason of their upright walk of life, they find themselves recognized and cherished in such a manner, that they forget the country of their birth and choose a new one for their last resting-place.

Even so was Arezzo chosen as a final home by Guglielmo, who, as a youth in France, applied himself to the art of design, and together with that gave attention to glass windows, in which he made figures no less harmonious in coloring than if they had been painted with the greatest beauty and harmony in oils. While in his own country, persuaded by the entreaties of certain of his friends, he was present at the slaying of one who was their enemy: on which account he was forced to assume the habit of a monk in the Order of S. Dominic in France, in order to escape the courts and the hand of justice. But although he remained in that Order, yet he never abandoned the study of art; nay, continuing it, he arrived at the highest perfection.

Now, by order of Pope Julius II, a commission was given to Bramante da Urbino to have a number of glass windows made for the Palace; whereupon he, making inquiries about the most excellent craftsmen, received information of many who were working at that craft, and among them of some who were executing marvellous works in France; and of these he saw a specimen through the French Ambassador who was then at the Court of his Holiness, and who had in the frame of a window in his study a figure executed on a piece of white glass with a vast number of colours, fixed on the glass by the action of fire. Wherefore, by order of Bramante, a letter was written to France, inviting them to come to Rome, and offering them good payments. Thereupon Maestro Claudio, a Frenchman, the head of that art, having received the intelligence, and knowing the excellence of Guglielmo, so went to work with money and fair promises, that it was no difficult matter to draw him out of the convent, particularly because Guglielmo, on account of the discourtesy shown to him and the jealousies that there always are among monks, was even more eager to leave it than was Maestro Claudio to get him out. They went, therefore, to Rome, where the habit of S. Dominic was changed for that of S. Peter.

Bramante at that time had caused two windows of travertine to be made in the Palace of the Pope, which were in the hall in front of the chapel, now embellished by a vaulted ceiling by Antonio da San Gallo, and by marvellous stucco work from the hand of Perino del Vaga of Florence. These windows were executed by Maestro Claudio and Guglielmo, although afterwards, during the sack of Rome, they were broken to pieces, in order to extract the lead to make harquebus balls; and they were truly marvellous. In addition to these, they made an endless number of them for the apartments of the Pope, which met with the same fate as the other two. And even now there is one to be seen in the room containing Raffaello's Burning of the Borgo, in the Borgia Tower; in which are angels who are holding the escutcheon of Leo X. They also made two windows for the chapel behind the Madonna in S. Maria del Popolo, with the stories of her life, which were highly praiseworthy examples of that craft.

These works brought them no less fame and renown than comfort in life. But Maestro Claudio, being very intemperate in eating and drinking, according to the custom of his race, which is a deadly thing in the air of Rome, fell sick of so violent a fever, that in six days he passed to the other life. Whereupon Guglielmo, left alone, and almost like one lost without his companion, painted by himself a window, likewise of glass, in S. Maria de Anima, the church of the Germans in Rome; which was the reason that Cardinal Silvio of Cortona made him an offer, and made a contract with him that he should execute some windows and other works in his native city of Cortona. Wherefore the Cardinal took him in his company to take up his abode in Cortona; and the first work that he executed was the facade of the Cardinal's house on the side towards the Piazza, which he painted in chiaroscuro, depicting therein Croton and the other original founders of that city. Thereupon the Cardinal, who saw that Guglielmo was no less upright as a man than excellent as a master of that art, caused him to execute, for the Pieve of Cortona, the window of the principal chapel, in which he made the Nativity of Christ and the Magi adoring Him.

Guglielmo was a man of fine spirit and intelligence, and of very great mastery in handling glass, and particularly in so distributing the colours that the brightest should come in the foremost figures, those in the other figures being darker in proportion as they receded; in which point he was a rare and truly excellent master. Moreover, he showed very good judgment in the painting of his figures; whereby he executed them with such unity, that they fell back into the distance little by little, in such a way that they did not cling either to the buildings or to the landscapes, and had the appearance of being painted on panel, or rather in relief. He showed invention and variety in the composition of scenes, making them rich and well grouped; and he rendered easy the process of making such pictures as are put together out of pieces of glass, which was held to be very difficult, as indeed it is for one who has not his skill and dexterity. He designed the pictures for his windows with such good method and order, that the mountings of lead and iron, which cross them in certain places, were so well fitted into the joinings of the figures and the folds of the draperies, that they cannot be seen--nay, they gave the whole such grace, that the brush could not have done more--and thus he was able to make a virtue of necessity.

Guglielmo used only two kinds of color for the shading of such glass as he proposed to subject to the action of fire; one was scale of iron, and the other scale of copper. That of iron, which is dark, served to shade draperies, hair, and buildings; and the other, that of copper, which produces a tawny tint, served for flesh colors. He also made much use of a hard stone that comes from Flanders and France, called at the present day hematite, which is red in color and is much employed for burnishing gold. This, having first been pounded in a bronze mortar, and then ground with an iron brazing instrument on a plate of copper or yellow brass, and tempered with gum, works divinely well on glass.

When Guglielmo first arrived in Rome, he was no great draughtsman, although he was well practised in every other respect. But having recognized the need of this, he applied himself to the study of drawing, in spite of his being well advanced in years; and thus little by little he achieved the improvement that is evident in the windows that he afterwards made for the Palace of the said Cardinal at Cortona, and for the other without the city, in a round window that is in the aforesaid Pieve, over the facade, on the right hand as one enters the church, wherein are the arms of Pope Leo X, and likewise in two little windows that are in the Company of Gesu', in one of which is a Christ, and in the other a S. Onofrio. These are no little different from his early works, and much better.

Now while Guglielmo, as has been related, was living in Cortona, there died at Arezzo one Fabiano di Stagio Sassoli, an Aretine, who had been a very good master of the making of large windows. Thereupon the Wardens of Works for the Vescovado gave the commission for three windows in the principal chapel, each twenty braccia in height, to Stagio, the son of the said Fabiano, and to the painter Domenico Pecori; but when these were finished and fixed in their places, they gave no great satisfaction to the Aretines, although they were passing good and rather worthy of praise than otherwise. It happened at this time that Messer Lodovico Belichini, an excellent physician, and one of the first men in the government of the city of Arezzo, went to Cortona to cure the mother of the aforesaid Cardinal; and there he became well acquainted with our Guglielmo, with whom, when he had time, he was very willing to converse. And Guglielmo, who was then called the Prior, from his having received about that time the benefice of a priory, likewise conceived an affection for that physician, who asked him one day whether, with the good will of the Cardinal, he would go to Arezzo to execute some windows; at which Guglielmo promised that he would, and with the permission and good will of the Cardinal he made his way to that city. Now Stagio, of whom we have spoken above, having parted from the company of Domenico, received Guglielmo into his house; and the latter, for his first work, executed for a window of the Chapel of S. Lucia, belonging to the Albergotti, in the Vescovado of Arezzo, that Saint and a S. Sylvester, in so good a manner that the work may truly be said to be made with living figures, and not of colored and transparent glass, or at least to be a picture worthy of praise and marvellous.

For besides the mastery shown in the flesh-colors, the glasses are flashed; that is, in some places the first skin has been removed, and the glass then colored with another tint; by which is meant, for example, the placing of yellow over red flashed glass, or the application of white and green over blue; which is a difficult and even miraculous thing in this craft. The first or true color, then, such as red, blue, or green, covers the whole of one side; and the other part, which is as thick as the blade of a knife, or a little more, is white. Many, being afraid that they might break the glasses, on account of their lack of skill in handling them, do not employ a pointed iron for removing that layer, but in place of this, for greater safety, set about grinding the glasses with a copper wheel fixed on the end of an iron instrument; and thus, little by little, by the use of emery, they contrive to leave only a layer of white glass, which turns out very clear. Then, if a yellow color has to be applied to the piece of glass thus left white, at the moment when it is to be placed into the furnace for firing, it is painted by means of a brush with calcined silver, which is a color similar to bole, but somewhat thick; and in the fire this melts over the glass, fuses, and takes a firm hold, penetrating into the glass and making a very beautiful yellow. These methods of working no one used better, or with more ingenuity and art, than Prior Guglielmo; and it is in these things that the difficulty consists, for painting the glass with oil colors or in any other manner is little or nothing, and that it should be diaphanous or transparent is not a matter of much importance, whereas firing it in the furnace and making it such that it will withstand the action of water and remain fresh for ever, is a difficult work and well worthy of praise. Wherefore this excellent master deserves the highest praise, since there is not a man of his profession who has done as much, whether in design, or invention, or coloring, or general excellence.

He then made the great round-window of the same church, containing the Descent of the Holy Spirit, and likewise the Baptism of Christ by S. John, wherein he represented Christ in the Jordan, awaiting S. John, who has taken a cup of water in order to baptize Him, while a nude old man is taking off his shoes, and some angels are preparing Christ's raiment, and on high is the Father, sending down the Holy Spirit upon His Son. This window is over the baptismal font of that Duomo, for which he also executed the window containing the Resurrection of Lazarus on the fourth day after death; wherein it seems impossible that he could have included in so small a space such a number of figures, in which may be recognized the terror and amazement of the people, with the stench from the body of Lazarus, whose resurrection causes his two sisters to rejoice amid their tears. In this work are innumerable colors, flashed one over the other in the glass, and every least thing truly appears most natural in its own kind.

And whoever wishes to learn how much the hand of the Prior was able to effect in this art, should study the window of S. Matthew over the Chapel of that Apostle, and observe the marvellous invention of that scene, wherein he can see a living figure of Christ calling Matthew from his tables, while Matthew, following Him and stretching out his arms to receive Him, abandons the riches and treasures that he has acquired. And at the same time an Apostle may be seen in a very spirited attitude, awaking another who has fallen asleep on some steps; and in like manner there may also be perceived a S. Peter speaking with S. John, both being so beautiful that they seem truly divine. In this same window are temples in perspective, staircases, and figures so well grouped, and landscapes so natural, that one would never think it was glass, but rather a thing rained down from Heaven for the consolation of mankind. In the same place he made the window of S. Anthony and that of S. Nicholas, both most beautiful, with two others, one containing the scene of Christ driving the traders from the Temple, and the other that of the woman taken in adultery; all these works being held to be truly excellent and marvellous.

So fully were the labors and abilities of the Prior recognized by the Aretines, what with praises, favors, and rewards, and so satisfied and contented was he by this result, that he resolved to adopt that city as his home, and to change himself from a Frenchman into an Aretine. Afterwards, reflecting in his own mind that the art of glass-painting, on account of the destruction that takes place every moment in such works, was no lasting one, there came to him a desire to devote himself to painting, and he therefore undertook to execute for the Wardens of Works of the Vescovado in that city three very large vaults in fresco, thinking thus to leave a memorial of himself behind him. The Aretines, in return for this, presented to him a farm that belonged to the Confraternity of S. Maria della Misericordia, near their city, with some excellent houses, for his enjoyment during his lifetime. And they ordained that when the work was finished, its value should be estimated by some distinguished craftsman, and that the Wardens should make this good to him in full. Whereupon he made up his mind to show his worth in this undertaking, and he made his figures very large on account of the height, after the manner of the works in Michelagnolo's chapel. And so mightily did his wish to become excellent in such an art avail in him, that although he was fifty years of age, he improved little by little in such a manner, that he showed that his knowledge and comprehension of the beautiful were not less than his delight in imitating the good in the execution of his work. He went on to represent the earlier events of the New Testament, even as in the three large works he had depicted the beginning of the Old. For this reason, therefore, I am inclined to believe that any man of genius who has the desire to attain to perfection, is able, if he will but take the pains, to make naught of the limits of any science. At the beginning of those works, indeed, he was alarmed by their size, and because he had never executed any before; which was the reason that he sent to Rome for Maestro Giovanni, a French miniaturist, who, coming to Arezzo, painted over S. Antonio an arch with a Christ in fresco, and for that Company the banner that is carried in processions, which he executed with great diligence, having received the commission for them from the Prior.

At the same time Guglielmo made the round window for the faćade of the Church of S. Francesco, a great work, in which he represented the Pope in Consistory, with the Conclave of Cardinals, and S. Francis going to Rome for the confirmation of his Rule and bearing the roses of January. In this work he proved what a master of composition he was, so that it may be said with truth that he was born for that profession; nor may any craftsman ever think to equal him in beauty, in abundance of figures, or in grace. There are innumerable windows executed by him throughout that city, all most beautiful, such as the great round window in the Madonna delle Lacrime, containing the Assumption of Our Lady and the Apostles, and a very beautiful window with an Annunciation; a round window with the Marriage of the Virgin, and another containing a S. Jerome executed for the Spadari, and likewise three other windows below, in various parts of the church; with a most beautiful round window with the Nativity of Christ in the Church of S. Girolamo, and another in S. Rocco. He sent some, also, to various places, such as Castiglione del Lago, and one to Florence for Lodovico Capponi, to be set up in S. Felicita, where there is the panel by Jacopo da Pontormo, a most excellent painter, and the chapel adorned by him with mural paintings in oils and in fresco and with panel-pictures; which window came into the hands of the Frati Ingesuati in Florence, who worked at that craft, and they took it all to pieces in order to learn how it was made, removing many pieces as specimens and replacing them with new ones, so that in the end they made quite a different window.

He also conceived the wish to paint in oils, and for the Chapel of the Conception in S. Francesco at Arezzo he executed a panel picture wherein are some vestments very well painted, and many heads most lifelike, and so beautiful that he was honoured thereby ever afterwards, seeing that this was the first work that he had ever done in oils.

The Prior was a very honourable person, and delighted in agriculture and in making alterations in buildings; wherefore, having bought a most beautiful house, he made in it a vast number of improvements. As a man of religion, he was always most upright in his ways; and the remorse of conscience, on account of his departure from his convent, kept him sorely afflicted. For which reason he made a very beautiful window for the Chapel of the high altar in S. Domenico, a convent of his Order at Arezzo; wherein he depicted a vine that issues from the body of S. Dominic and embraces a great number of sanctified friars, who constitute the tree of the Order; and at the highest point is Our Lady, with Christ, who is marrying S. Catherine of Siena--a work much extolled and of great mastery, for which he would accept no payment, believing himself to be much indebted to that Order. He sent a very beautiful window to S. Lorenzo in Perugia, and an endless number of others to many places round Arezzo.

And because he took much pleasure in matters of architecture, he made for the citizens of that country a number of designs of buildings and adornments for their city, such as the two doors of S. Rocco in stone, and the ornament of greystone that was added to the panel picture of Maestro Luca in S. Girolamo; and he designed an ornament in the Abbey of Cipriano d' Anghiari, and another for the Company of the Trinitˆ in the Chapel of the Crocifisso, and a very rich lavatory for the sacristy; which were all executed with great perfection by the stonecutter Santi.

Finally, ever delighting in labor, and continually working both winter and summer at his mural painting, which breaks down the healthiest of men, he became so afflicted by the damp and so swollen with dropsy, that his physicians had to tap him, and in a few days he rendered up his soul to Him who had given it. First, like a good Christian, he partook of the Sacraments of the Church, and made his will. Then, having a particular devotion for the Hermits of Camaldoli, who have their seat on the summit of the Apennines, twenty miles distant from Arezzo, he bequeathed to them his property and his body, and to Pastorino da Siena, his assistant, who had been with him many years, he left his glasses, his working instruments, and his designs, of which there is one in our book, a scene of the Submersion of Pharaoh in the Red Sea.

This Pastorino afterwards applied himself to many other fields of art, and also to glass windows, although the works that he produced in that craft were but few. Guglielmo was much imitated, also, by one Maso Porro of Cortona, who was more able in firing and putting together the glass than in painting it. One of the pupils of Guglielmo was Battista Borro of Arezzo, who continues to imitate him greatly in the making of windows; and he also taught the first rudiments to Benedetto Spadari and to Giorgio Vasari of Arezzo.

The Prior lived sixty-two years, and died in the year 1537. He deserves infinite praise, in that by him there was brought into Tuscany the art of working in glass with the greatest mastery and delicacy that could be desired. Wherefore, since he conferred such great benefits upon us, we also will pay him honor, exalting him continually with loving and unceasing praise both for his life and for his works.

 

 

 

SIMONE, CALLED IL CRONACA
[SIMONE DEL POLLAIUOLO]
ARCHITECT OF FLORENCE

Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists





MANY INTELLECTS ARE LOST that would make rare and worthy works, if, on coming into the world, they were to hit upon persons able and willing to set them to work on those labours for which they are fitted. But it often happens that he who has the means is neither capable nor willing; and if, indeed, there chances to be one willing to erect some worthy building, he often takes no manner of care to seek out an architect of real merit or of any loftiness of spirit. Nay, he puts his honor and glory into the keeping of certain thievish creatures, who generally disgrace the name and fame of such memorials; and in order to thrust forward into greatness those who depend entirely upon him (so great is the power of ambition), he often rejects the good designs that are offered to him, and puts into execution the very worst; wherefore his own fame is left besmirched by the clumsiness of the work, since it is considered by all men of judgment that the craftsman and the patron who employs him, in that they are conjoined in their works, are of one and the same mind. And on the other hand, how many Princes of little understanding have there been, who, through having chanced upon persons of excellence and judgment, have obtained after death no less fame from the memory of their buildings than they enjoyed when alive from their sovereignty over their people.

Truly fortunate, however, in his day, was Cronaca, in that he not only had the knowledge, but also found those who kept him continually employed, and that always on great and magnificent works. Of him it is related that while Antonio Pollaiuolo was in Rome, working at the tombs of bronze that are in S. Pietro, there came to his house a young lad, his relative, whose proper name was Simone, and who had fled from Florence on account of some brawl. This Simone, having worked with a master in woodwork, and being much inclined to the art of architecture, began to observe the beautiful antiquities of that city, and, delighting in them, went about measuring them with the greatest diligence. And, going on with this, he had not been long in Rome before he showed that he had made much proficience, both in taking measurements and in carrying one or two things into execution.

Thereupon he conceived the idea of returning to Florence, and departed from Rome; and on arriving in his native city, having become a passing good master of words, he described the marvels of Rome and of other places with such accuracy, that from that time onwards he was called Il Cronaca, every man thinking that he was truly a chronicle of information in his discourse. Now he had become such that he was held to be the most excellent of the modern architects in the city of Florence, seeing that he had good judgment in choosing sites, and showed that he had an intellect more lofty than that of many others who were engaged in that profession; for it was evident from his works how good an imitator he was of antiquities, and how closely he had observed the rules of Vitruvius and the works of Filippo di Ser Brunellesco.

There was then in Florence that Filippo Strozzi who is now called "the elder," to distinguish him from his son; and he, being very rich, wished to leave to his native city and to his children, among other memorials of himself, one in the form of a beautiful palace. Wherefore Benedetto da Maiano, having been called upon by him for this purpose, made him a model entirely isolated, which was afterwards put into execution, although not in all its extent, as will be related below, for some of his neighbours would not give up their houses to accommodate him. Benedetto began the palace, therefore, in the best way that he could, and brought the outer shell almost to completion before the death of Filippo: which outer shell is in the Rustic Order, with varying degrees of rustication, as may be seen, since the boss-covered part from the first range of windows downwards, together with the doors, is very much Rustic, and the part from the first range of windows to the second is much less Rustic. Now it happened that at the very moment when Benedetto was leaving Florence, Cronaca returned from Rome; whereupon, Simone being presented to Filippo, the latter was so pleased with the model that he made for the courtyard and for the great cornice which goes round the outer side of the palace, that, having recognized the excellence of his intellect, he decided that thenceforward the whole work should pass through his hands, and availed himself of his services ever afterwards. Cronaca, then, in addition to the beautiful exterior in the Tuscan Order, made at the top a very magnificent Corinthian cornice, which serves to complete the roof; and half of it is seen finished at the present day, with such extraordinary grace that nothing could be added to it, nor could anything more beautiful be desired. This cornice was taken by Cronaca, who copied it in Rome with exact measurements, from an ancient one that is to be found at Spoglia Cristo, which is held to be the most beautiful among the many that are in that city; although it is true that it was enlarged by Cronaca to the proportions required by the palace, to the end that it might make a suitable finish, and might also complete the roof of that palace by means of its projection.

Thus, then, the genius of Cronaca was able to make use of the works of others and to transform them almost into his own; which does not succeed with many, since the difficulty lies not in merely having drawings and copies of beautiful things, but in accommodating them to the purpose which they have to serve, with grace, true measurement, proportion, and fitness. But just as much as this cornice of Cronaca's was and always will be extolled, so was that one censured which was made for the Palace of the Bartolini in the same city by Baccio d' Agnolo, who, seeking to imitate Cronaca, placed over a small facade, delicate i n detail, a great ancient cornice copied with the exact measurements from the frontispiece of Monte Cavallo; which resulted in such ugliness, from his not having known how to adapt it with judgment, that it could not look worse, for it seems like an enormous cap on a small head. It is not enough for craftsmen, when they have executed their works, to excuse themselves, as many do, by saying that they were taken with exact measurements from the antique and copied from good masters, seeing that good judgment and the eye play a greater [Pg 268] part in all such matters than measuring with compasses. Cronaca, then, executed half of the said cornice with great art right round that palace, together with dentils and ovoli, and finished it completely on two sides, counterpoising the stones in such a way, in order that they might turn out well bound and balanced, that there is no better masonry to be seen, nor any carried to perfection with more diligence. In like manner, all the other stones are so well put together, and with so high a finish, that the whole does not appear to be of masonry, but rather all of one piece. And to the end that everything might be in keeping, he caused beautiful pieces of iron-work to be made for all parts of the palace, as adornments for it, and the lanterns that are at the corners, which were all executed with supreme diligence by Niccolo' Grosso, called Il Caparra, a smith of Florence. In those marvellous lanterns may be seen cornices, columns, capitals, and brackets of iron, fixed together with wonderful craftsmanship; nor has any modern ever executed in iron works so large and so difficult, and with such knowledge and mastery.

Niccolo' Grosso was an eccentric and self-willed person, claiming justice for himself and giving it to others, and never covetous of what was not his own. He would never give anyone credit in the payment of his works, and always insisted on having his earnest money. For this reason Lorenzo de' Medici called him Il Caparra, and he was known to many others by that name. He had a sign fixed over his shop, wherein were books burning; wherefore, when one asked for time to make his payment, he would say, "I cannot give it, for my books are burning, and I can enter no more debtors in them." He was commissioned by the honorable Captains of the Guelph party to make a pair of andirons, which, when he had finished them, were sent for several times. But he kept saying, "On this anvil do I sweat and labor, and on it will I have my money paid down." Whereupon they sent to him once more for the work, with a message that he should come for his money, for he would straightway be paid; but he, still obstinate, answered that they must first bring the money. The provveditore, therefore, knowing that the Captains wished to see the work, fell into a rage, and sent to him saying that he had received half the money, and that when he had dispatched the andirons, he would pay him the rest. On which account Caparra, recognizing that this was true, gave one of the andirons to the messenger, saying: "Take them this one, for it is theirs; and if it pleases them, bring me the rest of the money, and I will hand over the other; but at present it is mine." The officials, seeing the marvellous work that he had put into it, sent the money to his shop; and he sent them the other andiron.

It is related, also, that Lorenzo de' Medici resolved to have some pieces of ironwork made, to be sent abroad as presents, in order that the excellence of Caparra might be made known. He went, therefore, to his shop, and happened to find him working at some things for certain poor people, from whom he had received part of the price as earnest money. On Lorenzo making his request, Niccolo' would in no way promise to serve him before having satisfied the others, saying that they had come to his shop before Lorenzo, and that he valued their money as much as his. To the same master some young men of the city brought a design, from which he was to make for them an iron instrument for breaking and forcing open other irons by means of a screw, but he absolutely refused to serve them; nay, he upbraided them, and said: "Nothing will induce me to serve you in such a matter; for these things are nothing but thieves' tools, or instruments for abducting and dishonoring young girls. Such things are not for me, I tell you, nor for you, who seem to me to be honest men." And they, perceiving that Caparra would not do their will, asked him who there was in Florence who might serve them; whereupon, flying into a rage, he drove them away with a torrent of abuse. He would never work for Jews, and was wont, indeed, to say that their money was putrid and stinking. He was a good man and a religious, but whimsical in brain and obstinate: and he would never leave Florence, for all the offers that were made to him, but lived and died in that city. Of him I have thought it right to make this record, because he was truly unique in his craft, and has never had and never will have an equal, as may be seen best from the ironwork and the beautiful lanterns of the Palace of the Strozzi.

This palace was brought to completion by Cronaca, and adorned with a very rich courtyard in the Corinthian and Doric Orders, with ornaments in the form of columns, capitals, cornices, windows, and doors, all most beautiful. And if it should appear to anyone that the interior of this palace is not in keeping with the exterior, he must know that the fault is not Cronaca's, for the reason that he was forced to adapt his interior to an outer shell begun by others, and to follow in great measure what had been laid down by those before him; and it was no small feat for him to have given it such beauty as it displays. The same answer may be made to any who say that the ascent of the stairs is not easy, nor correct in proportion, but too steep and sudden; and likewise, also, to such as say that the rooms and apartments of the interior in general are out of keeping, as has been described, with the grandeur and magnificence of the exterior. Nevertheless this palace will never be held as other than truly magnificent, and equal to any private building whatsoever that has been erected in Italy in our own times; wherefore Cronaca rightly obtained, as he still does, infinite commendation for this work.

The same master built the Sacristy of S. Spirito in Florence, which is in the form of an octagonal temple, beautiful in proportions, and executed with a high finish; and among other things to be seen in this work are some capitals fashioned by the happy hand of Andrea dal Monte Sansovino, which are wrought with supreme perfection; and such, likewise, is the antechamber of that sacristy, which is held to be very beautiful in invention, although the coffered ceiling, as will be described, is not well distributed over the columns. The same Cronaca also erected the Church of S. Francesco dell' Osservanza on the hill of S. Miniato, without Florence; and likewise the whole of the Convent of the Servite Friars, which is a highly extolled work.

At this same time there was about to be built, by the advice of Fra Girolamo Savonarola, a most famous preacher of that day, the Great Council Chamber of the Palace of the Signoria in Florence; and for this opinions were taken from Leonardo da Vinci, Michelagnolo Buonarroti, although he was a mere lad, Giuliano da San Gallo, Baccio d' Agnolo, and Simone del Pollaiuolo, called Il Cronaca, who was the devoted friend and follower of Savonarola. These men, after many disputes, came to an agreement, and decided that the Hall should be made in that form which it retained down to our own times, when, as has been mentioned and will be related yet again in another place, it was almost rebuilt. The charge of the whole work was given to Cronaca, as a man of talent and also as the friend of the aforesaid Fra Girolamo; and he executed it with great promptitude and diligence, showing the beauty of his genius particularly in the making of the roof, since the structure is of vast extent in every direction. He made the tie-beams of the roof-truss, which are thirty-eight braccia in length from wall to wall, of a number of timbers well scarfed and fastened together, since it was not possible to find beams of sufficient size for the purpose; and whereas the tie-beams of other roof-trusses have only one king-post, all those of this Hall have three each, a king-post in the middle, and a queen-post on either side. The rafters are long in proportion, and so are the struts of each king-post and queen-post; nor must I omit to say that the struts of the queen-posts, on the side nearest the wall, thrust against the rafters, and, towards the center, against the struts of the king-post. I have thought it right to describe how this roof-truss is made, because it was constructed with beautiful design, and I have seen drawings made of it by many for sending to various places. When these tie-beams, thus contrived, had been drawn up and placed at intervals of six braccia, and the roof had been likewise laid down in a very short space of time, Cronaca attended to the fixing of the ceiling, which was then made of plain wood and divided i nto panels, each of which was four braccia square and surrounded by an ornamental cornice of few members; and a flat moulding was made of the same width as the planks, which enclosed the panels and the whole work, with large bosses at the intersections and the corners of the whole ceiling. And although the end walls of this Hall, one on either side, were eight braccia out of the square, they did not make up their minds, as they might have done, to thicken the walls so as to make it square, but carried them up to the roof just as they were, making three large windows on each of those end walls.

But when the whole was finished, the Hall, on account of its extraordinary size, turned out to be too dark, and also stunted and wanting in height in relation to its great length and breadth; in short, almost wholly out of proportion. They sought, therefore, but with little success, to improve it by making two windows in the middle of the eastern side of the Hall, and four on the western side. After this, in order to give it its final completion, they made on the level of the brick floor, with great rapidity, being much pressed by the citizens, a wooden tribune right round the walls of the Hall, three braccia both in breadth and height, with seats after the manner of a theatre, and with a balustrade in front; on which tribune all the magistrates of the city were to sit. In the middle of the eastern side was a more elevated da•s, on which the Signori sat with the Gonfalonier of Justice; and on either side of this more prominent place was a door, one of them leading to the Segreto[29] and the other to the Specchio. Opposite to this, on the west side, was an altar at which Mass was read, with a panel by the hand of Fra Bartolommeo, as has been mentioned; and beside the altar was the pulpit for making speeches. In the middle of the Hall, then, were benches in rows laid crossways, for the citizens; while in the centre and at the corners of the tribune were some gangways with six steps, providing a convenient ascent for the ushers in the collection of votes. In this Hall, which was much extolled at that day for its many beautiful features and the rapidity with which it was erected, time has since served to reveal such errors as that it is low, dark, gloomy, and out of the square. Nevertheless Cronaca and the others deserve to be excused, both on account of the haste with which it was executed at the desire of the citizens, who intended in time to have it adorned with pictures and the ceiling overlaid with gold, and because up to that day there had been no greater hall built in Italy; although there are others very large, such as that of the Palace of S. Marco in Rome, that of the Vatican, erected by Pius II and Innocent VIII, that of the Castle of Naples, that of the Palace of Milan, and those of Urbino, Venice, and Padua.

After this, to provide an ascent to this Hall, Cronaca, with the advice of the same masters, made a great staircase six braccia wide and curving in two flights, richly adorned with greystone, and with Corinthian pilasters and capitals, double cornices, and arches, of the same stone; and with barrel-shaped vaulting, and windows with columns of variegated marble and carved marble capitals. But although this work was much extolled, it would have won even greater praise if the staircase had not turned out inconvenient and too steep; for it is a sure fact that it could have been made more gentle, as has been done in the time of Duke Cosimo, within the same amount of space and no more, in the new staircase made, opposite to that of Cronaca, by Giorgio Vasari, which is so gentle in ascent and so convenient, that going up it is almost like walking on the level. This has been the work of the aforesaid Lord Duke Cosimo, who, being a man of most happy genius and most profound judgment both in the government of his people and in all other things, grudges neither expense nor anything else in his desire to make all the fortifications and other buildings, both public and private, correspond to the greatness of his own mind, and not less beautiful than useful or less useful than beautiful.

His Excellency, then, reflecting that the body of this Hall is the largest, the most magnificent, and the most beautiful in all Europe, has resolved to have it improved in such parts as are defective, and to have it made in every other part more ornate than any other structure in Italy, by the design and hand of Giorgio Vasari of Arezzo. And thus, the walls having been raised twelve braccia above their former height, in such a manner that the height from the pavement to the ceiling is thirty-two braccia, the roof-truss made by Cronaca to support the roof has been restored and replaced on high after a new arrangement; and the old ceiling, which was simple and commonplace, and by no means worthy of that Hall, has been remodelled with a system of compartments of great variety, rich in mouldings, full of carvings, and all overlaid with gold, together with thirty-nine painted panels, square, round, and octagonal, the greater number of which are each nine braccia in extent, and some even more, and all containing scenes painted in oils, with the largest figures seven or eight braccia high. In these stories, commencing with the very beginning, may be seen the rise, the honours, the victories, and the glorious deeds of the city and state of Florence, and in particular the wars of Pisa and Siena, together with an endless number of other things, which it would take too long to describe. And on each of the side walls there has been left a convenient space of sixty braccia, in each of which are to be painted three scenes in keeping with the ceiling and embracing the space of seven pictures on either side, which represent events from the wars of Pisa and Siena. These compartments on the walls are so large, that no greater spaces for the painting of historical pictures have ever been seen either by the ancients or by the moderns.

And the said compartments are adorned by some vast stone ornaments which meet at the ends of the Hall, at one side of which, namely, the northern side, the Lord Duke has caused to be finished a work begun and carried nearly to completion by Baccio Bandinelli, that is, a facade filled with columns and pilasters and with niches containing statues of marble; which space is to serve as a public audience chamber, as will be related in the proper place. On the other side, opposite to this, there is to be, in a similar facade that is being made by the sculptor and architect Ammanati, a fountain to throw up water in the Hall, with a rich and most beautiful adornment of columns and statues of marble and bronze. Nor will I forbear to say that this Hall, in consequence of the roof having been raised twelve braccia, has gained not only height, but also an ample supply of windows, since, in addition to the others that are higher up, in each of those end walls are to be made three large windows, which will be over the level of a corridor that is to form a loggia within the Hall and to extend on one side over the work of Bandinelli, whence there will be revealed a most beautiful view of the whole Piazza. But of this Hall, and of the other improvements that have been or are being made in the Palace, there will be a longer account in another place. This only let me say at present, that if Cronaca and those other ingenious craftsmen who gave the design for the Hall could return to life, in my belief they would not recognize either the Palace, or the Hall, or any other thing that is there. The Hall, namely, that part which is rectangular, without counting the works of Bandinelli and Ammanati, is ninety braccia in length and thirty-eight braccia in breadth.

But returning to Cronaca: in the last years of his life there entered into his head such a frenzy for the cause of Fra Girolamo Savonarola, that he would talk of nothing else but that. Living thus, in the end he died after a passing long illness, at the age of fifty-five, and was buried honorably in the Church of S. Ambrogio at Florence, in the year 1509; and after no long space of time the following epitaph was written for him by Messer Giovan Battista Strozzi:

CRONACA
VIVO, E MILLE E MILLE ANNI E MILLE ANCORA,
MERCť DE' VIVI MIEI PALAZZI E TEMPI,
BELLA ROMA, VIVRň L' ALMA MIA FLORA.

Cronaca had a brother called Matteo, who gave himself to sculpture and worked under the sculptor Antonio Rossellino; but although he was a man of good and beautiful intelligence, a fine draughtsman, and well practised in working marble, he left no finished work, because, being snatched from the world by death at the age of nineteen, he was not able to accomplish that which was expected from him by all who knew him.

 

 

 

DOMENICO PULIGO
PAINTER OF FLORENCE

Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists





IT IS A MARVELLOUS and almost incredible thing, that many followers of the art of painting, through continual practice and handling of colors, either by an instinct of nature or by the trick of a good manner, acquired without any draughtsmanship or grounding, carry their works to such thorough completion, and very often contrive to make them so good, that, although the craftsmen themselves may be none of the rarest, their pictures force the world to extol them and to hold them in supreme veneration. And it has been perceived in the past from many examples, and in many of our painters, that the most vivacious and perfect works are produced by those who have a beautiful manner from nature, although they must exercise it with continual study and labor; while this gift of nature has such power, that even if they neglect or abandon the studies of art, and pay attention to nothing save the mere practice of painting and of handling colours with a grace infused in them by nature, at the first glance their works have the appearance of displaying all the excellent and marvellous qualities that are wont to appear after a close inspection in the works of those masters whom we hold to be the best. And that this is true, is demonstrated to us in our own day by experience, from the works of Domenico Puligo, a painter of Florence; wherein what has been said above may be clearly recognized by one who has knowledge of the matters of art.

While Ridolfo, the son of Domenico Ghirlandajo, was executing a number of works in painting at Florence, as will be related, he followed his father's habit of always keeping many young men painting in his workshop: which was the reason that not a few of them, through competing one with another, became very good masters, some at making portraits from life, some at working in fresco, others in distemper, and others at painting readily on cloth. Making these lads execute pictures, panels, and canvases, in the course of a few years Ridolfo, with great profit for himself, sent an endless number of these to England, to Germany, and to Spain. Baccio Gotti and Toto del Nunziata, disciples of Ridolfo, were summoned, one to France by King Francis, and the other to England by the King of that country, each of whom invited them after having seen some of their work. Two other disciples of the same master remained with him, working under him for many years, because, although they had many invitations into Spain and Hungary from merchants and others, they were never induced either by promises or by money to tear themselves away from the delights of their country, in which they had more work to do than they were able to execute. One of these two was Antonio del Ceraiuolo, a Florentine, who, having been many years with Lorenzo di Credi, had learnt from him, above all, to draw so well from nature, that with supreme facility he gave his portraits an extraordinary likeness to the life, although otherwise he was no great draughtsman. And I have seen some heads portrayed from life by his hand, which, although they have, for example, the nose crooked, one lip small and the other large, and other suchlike deformities, nevertheless resemble the life, through his having well caught the expression of the subject; whereas, on the other hand, many excellent masters have made pictures and portraits of absolute perfection with regard to art, but with no resemblance whatever to those that they are supposed to represent. And to tell the truth, he who executes portraits must contrive, without thinking of what is looked for in a perfect figure, to make them like those for whom they are intended. When portraits are like and also beautiful, then may they be called rare works, and their authors truly excellent craftsmen. This Antonio, then, besides many portraits, executed a number of panel pictures in Florence; but for the sake of brevity I will make mention only of two. One of these, wherein he painted a Crucifixion, with S. Mary Magdalene and S. Francis, is in S. Jacopo tra Fossi, on the Canto degli Alberti; and in the other, which is in the Nunziata, is a S. Michael who is weighing souls.

The other of the two aforesaid disciples was Domenico Puligo, who was more excellent in draughtsmanship and more pleasing and gracious in coloring than any of the others mentioned above. He, considering that his method of painting with softness, without overloading his works with color or making them hard, but causing the distances to recede little by little as though veiled with a kind of mist, gave his pictures both relief and grace, and that although the outlines of the figures that he made were lost in such a way that his errors were concealed and hidden from view in the dark grounds into which the figures merged, nevertheless his coloring and the beautiful expressions of his heads made his works pleasing, always kept to the same method of working and to the same manner, which caused him to be held in esteem as long as he lived. But omitting to give an account of the pictures and portraits that he made while in the workshop of Ridolfo, some of which were sent abroad and some remained in the city, I shall speak only of those which he painted when he was rather the friend and rival of Ridolfo than his disciple, and of those that he executed when he was so much the friend of Andrea del Sarto, that nothing was more dear to him than to see that master in his workshop, in order to learn from him, showing him his works and asking his opinion of them, so as to avoid such errors and defects as those men often fall into who do not show their work to any other craftsman, but trust so much in their own judgment that they would rather incur the censure of all the world when those works are finished, than correct them by means of the suggestions of loving friends.

One of the first things that Domenico executed was a very beautiful picture of Our Lady for Messer Agnolo della Stufa, who has it in his Abbey of Capalona in the district of Arezzo, and holds it very dear for the great diligence of its execution and the beauty of its colouring. He painted another picture of Our Lady, no less beautiful than that one, for Messer Agnolo Niccolini, now Archbishop of Pisa and a Cardinal, who keeps it in his house on the Canto de' Pazzi in Florence; and likewise another, of equal size and excellence, which is now in the possession of Filippo dell' Antella, at Florence. In another, which is about three braccia in height, Domenico made a full-length Madonna with the Child between her knees, a little S. John, and another head; and this picture, which is held to be one of the best works that he executed, since there is no sweeter coloring to be seen, is at the present day in the possession of Messer Filippo Spini, Treasurer to the most Illustrious Prince of Florence, and a gentleman of magnificent spirit, who takes much delight in works of painting.

Among other portraits that Domenico made from the life, which are all beautiful and also good likenesses, the most beautiful is the one which he painted of Monsignore Messer Piero Carnesecchi, at that time a marvellously handsome youth, for whom he also made some other pictures, all very beautiful and executed with much diligence. In like manner, he portrayed in a picture the Florentine Barbara, a famous and most lovely courtesan of that day, much beloved by many no less for her fine culture than for her beauty, and particularly because she was an excellent musician and sang divinely. But the best work that Domenico ever executed was a large picture wherein he made a life-size Madonna, with some angels and little boys, and a S. Bernard who is writing; which picture is now in the hands of Giovanni Gualberto del Giocondo, and of his brother Messer Niccolo', a Canon of S. Lorenzo in Florence.

The same master made many other pictures, which are dispersed among the houses of citizens, and in particular some wherein may be seen a half-length figure of Cleopatra, causing an asp to bite her on the breast, and others wherein is the Roman Lucretia killing herself with a dagger. There are also some very beautiful portraits from life and pictures by the same hand at the Porta a Pinti, in the house of Giulio Scali, a man whose judgment is as fine in the matters of our arts as it is in those of every other most noble and most honourable profession. Domenico executed for Francesco del Giocondo, in a panel for his chapel in the great tribune of the Church of the Servi at Florence, a S. Francis who is receiving the Stigmata; which work is very sweet and soft in coloring, and wrought with much diligence. In the Church of Cestello, round the Tabernacle of the Sacrament, he painted two angels in fresco, and on the panel of a chapel in the same church he made a Madonna with her Son in her arms, S. John the Baptist, S. Bernard, and other saints. And since it appeared to the monks of that place that he had acquitted himself very well in those works, they caused him to paint in a cloister of their Abbey of Settimo, without Florence, the Visions of Count Ugo, who built seven abbeys. And no long time after, Puligo painted, in a shrine at the corner of the Via Mozza da S. Catarina, a Madonna standing, with her Son in her arms marrying S. Catherine, and a figure of S. Peter Martyr. For a Company in the township of Anghiari he executed a Deposition from the Cross, which may be numbered among his best works.

But since it was his profession to attend rather to pictures of Our Lady, portraits, and other heads, than to great works, he gave up almost all his time to such things. Now if he had devoted himself not so much to the pleasures of the world, as he did, and more to the labors of art, there is no doubt that he would have made great proficience in painting, and especially as Andrea del Sarto, who was much his friend, assisted him on many occasions both with advice and with drawings; for which reason many of his works reveal a draughtsmanship as fine as the good and beautiful manner of the colouring. But the circumstance that Domenico was unwilling to endure much fatigue, and accustomed to labor rather in order to get through work and make money than for the sake of fame, prevented him from reaching a greater height. And thus, associating with gay spirits and lovers of good cheer, and with musicians and women, he died at the age of fifty-two, in the year 1527, in the pursuit of a love-affair, having caught the plague at the house of his mistress.

Color was handled by him in so good and harmonious a manner, that it is for that reason, rather than for any other, that he deserves praise. Among his disciples was Domenico Beceri of Florence, who, giving a high finish to his coloring, executed his works in an excellent manner.

 

 

 

ANDREA DA FIESOLE/FERRUCCI
SILVIO COSINI
SCULPTORS
AND OF OTHER CRAFTSMEN OF FIESOLE

Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists
SEEING that it is no less necessary for sculptors to have mastery over their carving-tools than it is for him who practices painting to be able to handle colors, it therefore happens that many who work very well in clay prove to be unable to carry their labors to any sort of perfection in marble; and some, on the contrary, work very well in marble, without having any more knowledge of design than a certain instinct for a good manner, I know not what, that they have in their minds, derived from the imitation of certain things which please their judgment, and which their imagination absorbs and proceeds to use for its own purposes. And it is almost a marvel to see the manner in which some sculptors, without in any way knowing how to draw on paper, nevertheless bring their works to a fine and praiseworthy completion with their chisels. This was seen in Andrea, a sculptor of Fiesole, the son of Piero di Marco Ferrucci, who learnt the rudiments of sculpture in his earliest boyhood from Francesco di Simone Ferrucci, another sculptor of Fiesole, And although at the beginning he learnt only to carve foliage, yet little by little he became so well practiced in his work that it was not long before he set himself to making figures; insomuch that, having a swift and resolute hand, he executed his works in marble rather with a certain judgment and skill derived from nature than with any knowledge of design. Nevertheless, he afterwards gave a little more attention to art, when, in the flower of his youth, he followed Michele Maini, likewise a sculptor of Fiesole; which Michele made the St. Sebastian of marble in the Minerva at Rome, which was so much praised in those days.

Andrea, then, having been summoned to work at Imola, built a chapel of greystone, which was much extolled, in the Innocenti in that city. After that work, he went to Naples at the invitation of Antonio di Giorgio of Settignano, a very eminent engineer, and architect to King Ferrante, with whom Antonio was in such credit, that he had charge not only of all the buildings in that kingdom, but also of all the most important affairs of State. On arriving in Naples, Andrea was set to work, and he executed many things for that King in the Castello di San Martino and in other parts of that city. Now Antonio died; and after the King had caused him to be buried with obsequies suited rather to a royal person than to an architect, and with twenty pairs of mourners following him to the grave, Andrea, recognizing that this was no country for him, departed from Naples and made his way back to Rome, where he stayed for some time, attending to the studies of his art, and also to some work.

Afterwards, having returned to Tuscany, he built the marble chapel containing the baptismal font in the Church of San Jacopo at Pistoia, and with much diligence executed the basin of that font, with all its ornamentation. And on the main wall of the chapel he made two life-size figures in half relief---namely, St. John baptizing Christ, a work executed very well and with a beautiful manner. At the same time he made some other little works, of which there is no need to make mention. I must say, indeed, that although these things were wrought by Andrea rather with the skill of his hand than with art, yet there may be perceived in them a boldness and an excellence of taste worthy of great praise. And, in truth, if such craftsmen had a thorough knowledge of design united to their practiced skill and judgment, they would vanquish in excellence those who, drawing perfectly, only hack the marble when they set themselves to work it, and toil at it painfully with a sorry result, through not having practice and not knowing how to handle the tools with the skill that is necessary.

After these works, Andrea executed a marble panel that was placed exactly between the two flights of steps that ascend to the upper choir in the Church of the Vescovado at Fiesole; in which panel he made three figures in the round and some scenes in low-relief. And for San Girolamo, at Fiesole, he made the little marble panel that is built into the middle of the church. Having come into repute by reason of the fame of these works, Andrea was commissioned by the Wardens of Works of Santa Maria del Fiore, at the time when Cardinal Giulio de' Medici was governing Florence, to make a statue of an Apostle four braccia in height; at that time, I mean, when four other similar statues were allotted at one and the same moment to four other masters--one to Benedetto da Maiano, another to Jacopo Sansovino, a third to Baccio Bandinelli, and the fourth to Michelangelo Buonarroti; which statues were eventually to be twelve in number, and were to be placed in that part of that magnificent temple where there are the Apostles painted by the hand of Lorenzo di Bicci. Andrea, then, executed his rather with fine skill and judgment than with design ; and he acquired thereby, if not as much praise as the---at least the name of a good and practiced master. Wherefore he was almost continually employed ever afterwards by the Wardens of Works of that church; and he made the head of Marsilius Ficinus that is to be seen therein, within the door that leads to the chapter house. He made, also, a marble fountain that was sent to the King of Hungary, which brought him great honor; and by his hand was a marble tomb that was sent, likewise, to Strigonia, a city of Hungary. In this tomb was a Madonna, very well executed, with other figures; and in it was afterwards laid to rest the body of the Cardinal of Strigonia.

To Volterra Andrea sent two Angels of marble in the round; and for Marco del Nero, a Florentine, he made a lifesize Crucifix of wood, which is now in the Church of Santa Felicita at Florence. He made a smaller one for the Company of the Assumption in Fiesole. Andrea also delighted in architecture, and he was the master of Mangone, the stone cutter and architect, who afterwards erected many palaces and other buildings in Rome in a passing good manner. In the end, having grown old, Andrea gave his attention only to mason's work, like one who, being a modest and worthy person, loved a quiet life more than anything else. He received from Madonna Antonia Vespucci the commission for a tomb for her husband, Messer Antonio Strozzi; but since he could not work much himself, the two Angels were made for him by Maso Boscoli of Fiesole, his disciple, who afterwards executed many works in Rome and elsewhere, and the Madonna was made by Silvio Cosini of Fiesole, although it was not set into place immediately after it was finished, which was in the year 1522, because Andrea died, and was buried by the Company of the Scalzo in the Church of the Servi.

Silvio. when the said Madonna was set into place and the tomb of the Strozzi completely finished, pursued the art of sculpture with extraordinary zeal; wherefore he afterwards executed many works in a graceful and beautiful manner, and surpassed a host of other masters, above all in the bizarre fancy of his grotesques, as may be seen in the sacristy of Michelangelo Buonarroti, from some carved marble capitals over the pilasters of the tombs, with some little masks so well hollowed out that there is nothing better to be seen. In the same place he made some friezes with very beautiful masks in the act of crying out; wherefore Buonarroti, seeing the genius and skill of Silvio, caused him to begin certain trophies to complete those tombs, but they remained unfinished, with other things, by reason of the siege of Florence. Silvio executed a tomb for the Minerbetti in their chapel in the tramezzo of the Church of Santa Maria Novella, as well as any man could, since, in addition to the beautiful shape of the sarcophagus, there are carved upon it various shields, helmet-crests, and other fanciful things, and all with as much design as could be desired in such a work. Being at Pisa in the year 1528, Silvio made there an Angel that was wanting over a column on the high-altar of the Duomo, to face the one by Tribolo; and he made it so like the other that it could not be more like even if it were by the same hand. In the Church of Monte Nero. near Livorno, he made a little panel of marble with two figures, for the Frati Ingesuati ; and at Volterra he made a tomb for Messer Raffaello da Volterra, a man of great learning, wherein he portrayed him from nature on a sarcophagus of marble, with some ornaments and figures. Afterwards, while the siege of Florence was going on, Niccolo' Capponi, a most honorable citizen, died at Castel Nuovo della Garfagnana on his return from Genoa, where he had been as Ambassador from his Republic to the Emperor; and Silvio was sent in great haste to make a cast of his head, to the end that he might afterwards make one in marble, having already executed a very beautiful one in wax.

Now Silvio lived for some time with all his family in Pisa; and since he belonged to the Company of the Misericordia, which in that city accompanies those condemned to death to the place of execution, there into his head, being sacristan that time, the once came at strangest caprice in the world. One night he took out of the grave the body of one who had been hanged the day before; and, after having dissected it for the purposes of his art, being a whimsical fellow, and perhaps a wizard, and ready to believe in enchantments and suchlike follies, he flayed it completely, and with the skin, prepared after a method that he had been taught, he made a jerkin, which he wore for some time over his shirt, believing that it had some great virtue, without anyone ever knowing of it. But having once been upbraided by a good Father to whom he had confessed the matter, he pulled off the jerkin and laid it to rest in a grave, as the monk had urged him to do. Many other similar stories could be told of this man, but, since they have nothing to do with our history, I will pass them over in silence.

After the death of his first wife in Pisa, Silvio went off to Carrara. There he remained to execute some works, and took another wife, with whom, no long time after, he went to Genoa, where, entering the service of Prince Doria, he made a most beautiful escutcheon of marble over the door of his palace, and many ornaments in stucco all over that palace, after the directions given to him by the painter Perino del Vaga. He made, also, a very beautiful portrait in marble of the Emperor Charles V. But since it was Silvio's habit never to stay long in one place--for he was a wayward person--he grew weary of his prosperity in Genoa, and set out to make his way to France. He departed, therefore, but before at Monsanese he turned back, and, stopping at Milan, he executed in the Duomo some scenes and figures and many ornaments, with much credit for himself. And there, finally, he died at the age of forty-five. He was a man of fine genius, capricious, very dexterous in any kind of work, and a person who could execute with great diligence anything to which he turned his hand. He delighted in composing sonnets and improvising songs, and in his early youth he gave his attention to arms. If he had concentrated his mind on sculpture and design, he would have had no equal; and, even as he surpassed his master Andrea Ferrucci, so, had he lived, he would have surpassed many others who have enjoyed the name of excellent masters.

There flourished at the same time as Andrea and Silvio another sculptor of Fiesole, called Il Cicilia, who was a person of much skill; and a work by his hand may be seen in the Church of San Jacopo, in the Campo Corbolini at Florence--namely, the tomb of the Chevalier Messer Luigi Tornabuoni, which is much extolled, particularly because he made therein the escutcheon of that Chevalier, in the form of a horse's head, as if to show, according to the ancient belief, that the shape of shields was originally taken from the head of a horse. About the same time, also, Antonio da Carrara, a very rare sculptor, made three statues in Palermo for the Duke of Monteleone, a Neapolitan of the house of Pignatella, and Viceroy of Sicily--namely, three figures of Our Lady in different attitudes and manners, which were placed over three altars in the Duomo of Monteleone in Calabria. For the same patron he made some scenes in marble, which are in Palermo. He left behind him a son who is also a sculptor at the present day, and no less excellent than was his father.

 

 

 

LIVES OF VINCENZIO DA SAN GIMIGNANO AND TIMOTEO DA URBINO (Timoteo Viti (1469-1523))
PAINTERS

Vasari's Lives of the Artists



HAVING NOW TO WRITE, after the Life of the sculptor Andrea da Fiesole, the Lives of two excellent painters, Vincenzio da San Gimignano of Tuscany, and Timoteo da Urbino, I propose to speak first of Vincenzio, as the man whose portrait is above,[In the original edition of 1568.] and immediately afterwards of Timoteo, since they lived almost at one and the same time, and were both disciples and friends of Raffaello. Vincenzio, then, working in company with many others in the Papal Loggie for the gracious Raffaello da Urbino, acquitted himself in such a manner that he was much extolled by Raffaello and by all the others. Having therefore been set to work in the Borgo, opposite to the Palace of Messer Giovanni Battista dall' Aquila, with great credit to himself he painted on a facade a frieze in terretta, in which he depicted the Nine Muses, with Apollo in the centre, and above them some lions, the device of the Pope, which are held to be very beautiful. Vincenzio showed great diligence in his manner and softness in his coloring, and his figures were very pleasing in aspect; in short, he always strove to imitate the manner of Raffaello da Urbino, as may also be seen in the same Borgo, opposite to the Palace of the Cardinal of Ancona, from the facade of a house that was built by Messer Giovanni Antonio Battiferro of Urbino, who, in consequence of the strait friendship that he had with Raffaello, received from him the design for that facade, and also, through his good offices, many benefits and rich revenues at the Court. In this design, then, which was afterwards carried into execution by Vincenzio, Raffaello drew, in allusion to the name of the Battiferri, the Cyclopes forging thunderbolts for Jove, and in another part Vulcan making arrows for Cupid, with some most beautiful nudes and other very lovely scenes and statues.

The same Vincenzio painted a great number of scenes on a facade in the Piazza di S. Luigi de' Francesi at Rome, such as the Death of Cĺsar, a Triumph of Justice, and a battle of horsemen in a frieze, executed with spirit and much diligence; and in this work, close to the roof, between the windows, he painted some Virtues that are very well wrought. In like manner, on the facade of the Epifani, behind the Curia di Pompeo, and near the Campo di Fiore, he painted the Magi following the Star; with an endless number of other works throughout that city, the air and position of which seem to be in great measure the reason that men are inspired to produce marvellous works there. Experience teaches us, indeed, that very often the same man has not the same manner and does not produce work of equal excellence in every place, but makes it better or worse according to the nature of the place.

Vincenzio being in very good repute in Rome, there took place in the year 1527 the ruin and sack of that unhappy city, which had been the mistress of the nations. Whereupon, grieved beyond measure, he returned to his native city of San Gimignano; and there, by reason of the sufferings that he had undergone, and the weakening of his love for art, now that he was away from the air which nourishes men of fine genius and makes them bring forth works of the rarest merit, he painted some things that I will pass over in silence, in order not to veil with them the renown and the great name that he had honorably acquired in Rome. It is enough to point out clearly that violence turns the most lofty intellects roughly aside from their chief goal, and makes them direct their steps into the opposite path; which may also be seen in a companion of Vincenzio, called Schizzone, who executed some works i n the Borgo that were highly extolled, and also in the Campo Santo of Rome and in S. Stefano degl' Indiani, and who was likewise caused by the senseless soldiery to turn aside from art and in a short time to lose his life. Vincenzio died in his native city of San Gimignano, having had but little gladness in his life after his departure from Rome.

Timoteo, a painter of Urbino, was the son of Bartolommeo della Vite, a citizen of good position, and Calliope, the daughter of Maestro Antonio Alberto of Ferrara, a passing good painter in his day, as is shown by his works at Urbino and elsewhere. While Timoteo was still a child, his father dying, he was left to the care of his mother Calliope, with good and happy augury, from the circumstance that Calliope is one of the Nine Muses, and the conformity that exists between poetry and painting. Then, after he had been brought discreetly through his boyhood by his wise mother, and initiated by her into the studies of the simpler arts and likewise of drawing, the young man came into his first knowledge of the world at the very time when the divine Raffaello Sanzio was flourishing. Applying himself in his earliest years to the goldsmith's art, he was summoned by Messer Pier Antonio, his elder brother, who was then studying at Bologna, to that most noble city, to the end that he might follow that art, to which he seemed to be inclined by nature, under the discipline of some good master.

While living, then, in Bologna, in which city he stayed no little time, and was much honored and received by the noble and magnificent Messer Francesco Gombruti into his house with every sort of courtesy, Timoteo associated continually with men of culture and lofty intellect. Wherefore, having become known in a few months as a young man of judgment, and inclined much more to the painter's than to the goldsmith's art, of which he had given proofs in some very well-executed portraits of his friends and of others, it seemed good to his brother, wishing to encourage the young man's natural genius, and also persuaded to this by his friends, to take him away from his files and chisels, and to make him devote himself entirely to the study of drawing. At which he was very content, and applied himself straightway to drawing and to the labours of art, copying and drawing all the best works in that city; and establishing a close intimacy with painters, he set out to such purpose on his new road, that it was a marvel to see the progress that he made from one day to another, and all the more because he learnt with facility the most difficult things without any particular teaching from any appointed master. And so, becoming enamoured of his profession, and learning many secrets of painting merely by sometimes seeing certain painters of no account making their mixtures and using their brushes, and guided by himself and by the hand of nature, he set himself boldly to colouring, and acquired a very pleasing manner, very similar to that of the new Apelles, his compatriot, although he had seen nothing by his hand save a few works at Bologna. Thereupon, after executing some works on panel and on walls with very good results, guided by his own good intellect and judgment, and believing that in comparison with other painters he had succeeded very well in everything, he pursued the studies of painting with great ardor, and to such purpose, that in course of time he found that he had gained a firm footing in his art, and was held in good repute and vast expectation by all the world.

Having then returned to his own country, now a man twenty-six years of age, he stayed there for some months, giving excellent proofs of his knowledge. Thus he executed, to begin with, the altarpiece of the Madonna for the altar of S. Croce in the Duomo, containing, besides the Virgin, S. Crescenzio and S. Vitale; and there is a little Angel seated on the ground, playing on a viola with a grace truly angelic and a childlike simplicity expressed with art and judgment. Afterwards he painted another altarpiece for the high altar of the Church of the Trinita', together with a S. Apollonia on the left hand of that altar.

By means of these works and certain others, of which there is no need to make mention, the name and fame of Timoteo spread abroad, and he was invited with great insistence by Raffaello to Rome; whither having gone with the greatest willingness, he was received with that loving kindness that was as peculiar to Raffaello as was his excellence in art. Working, then, with Raffaello, in little more than a year he made a great advance, not only in art, but also in prosperity, for in that time he sent home a good sum of money. While working with his master in the Church of S. Maria della Pace, he made with his own hand and invention the Sibyls that are in the lunettes on the right hand, so much esteemed by all painters. That they are his is maintained by some who still remember having seen them painted; and we have also testimony in the cartoons which are still to be found in the possession of his successors. On his own account, likewise, he afterwards painted the bier and the dead body contained therein, with the other things, so highly extolled, that are around it, in the Scuola of S. Caterina da Siena; and although certain men of Siena, carried away by love of their own country, attribute these works to others, it may easily be recognized that they are the handiwork of Timoteo, both from the grace and sweetness of the colouring, and from other memorials of himself that he left in that most noble school of excellent painters.

Now, although Timoteo was well and honorably placed in Rome, yet, not being able to endure, as many do, the separation from his own country, and also being invited and urged every moment to come home by the counsels of his friends and by the prayers of his mother, now an old woman, he returned to Urbino, much to the displeasure of Raffaello, who loved him dearly for his good qualities. And not long after, having taken a wife in Urbino at the suggestion of his family, and having become enamored of his country, in which he saw that he was highly honored, besides the circumstance, even more important, that he had begun to have children, Timoteo made up his mind firmly never again to consent to go abroad, notwithstanding, as may still be seen from some letters, that he was invited back to Rome by Raffaello. But he did not therefore cease to work, and he made many works in Urbino and in the neighboring cities. At Forli' he painted a chapel in company with Girolamo Genga, his friend and compatriot; and afterwards he painted entirely with his own hand a panel that was sent to Citta' di Castello, and likewise another for the people of Cagli. At Castel Durante, also, he executed some works in fresco, which are truly worthy of praise, as are all the other works by his hand, which bear witness that he was a graceful painter in figures, landscapes, and every other field of painting. In Urbino, at the instance of Bishop Arrivabene of Mantua, he painted the Chapel of S. Martino in the Duomo, in company with the same Genga; but the altar panel and the middle of the chapel are entirely by the hand of Timoteo. For the same church, also, he painted a Magdalene standing, clothed in a short mantle, and covered below this by her own tresses, which reach to the ground and are so beautiful and natural, that the wind appears to move them; not to mention the divine beauty of the expression of her countenance, which reveals clearly the love that she bore to her Master.

In S. Agata there is another panel by the hand of the same man, with some very good figures. And for S. Bernardino, without that city, he made that work so greatly renowned that is at the right hand upon the altar of the Buonaventuri, gentlemen of Urbino; wherein the Virgin is represented with most beautiful grace as having received the Annunciation, standing with her hands clasped and her face and eyes uplifted to Heaven. Above, in the sky, in the center of a great circle of light, stands a little Child, with His foot on the Holy Spirit in the form of a Dove, and holding in His left hand a globe symbolizing the dominion of the world, while, with the other hand raised, He gives the benediction; and on the right of the Child is an angel, who is pointing Him out with his finger to the Madonna. Below--that is, on the level of the Madonna, to her right--is the Baptist, clothed in a camel's skin, which is torn on purpose that the nude figure may be seen; and on her left is a S. Sebastian, wholly naked, and bound in a beautiful attitude to a tree, and wrought with such diligence that the figure could not have stronger relief nor be in any part more beautiful.

At the Court of the most illustrious Dukes of Urbino, in a little private study, may be seen an Apollo and two half-nude Muses by his hand, beautiful to a marvel. For the same patrons he executed many pictures, and made some decorations for apartments, which are very beautiful. And afterwards, in company with Genga, he painted some caparisons for horses, which were sent to the King of France, with such beautiful figures of various animals that they appeared to all who beheld them to have life and movement. He made, also, some triumphal arches similar to those of the ancients, on the occasion of the marriage of the most illustrious Duchess Leonora to the Lord Duke Francesco Maria, to whom they gave vast satisfaction, as they did to the whole Court; on which account he was received for many years into the household of that Duke, with an honorable salary.

Timoteo was a bold draughtsman, and even more notable for the sweetness and charm of his coloring, insomuch that his works could not have been executed with more delicacy or greater diligence. He was a merry fellow, gay and festive by nature, and most acute and witty in his sayings and discourses. He delighted in playing every sort of instrument, and particularly the lyre, to which he sang, improvising upon it with extraordinary grace. He died in the year of our salvation 1524, the fifty-fourth of his life, leaving his native country as much enriched by his name and his fine qualities as it was grieved by his loss. He left in Urbino some unfinished works, which were finished afterwards by others and show by comparison how great were the worth and ability of Timoteo.

In our book are some drawings by his hand, very beautiful and truly worthy of praise, which I received from the most excellent and gentle Messer Giovanni Maria, his son--namely, a pen sketch for the portrait of the Magnificent Giuliano de' Medici, which Timoteo made when Giuliano was frequenting the Court of Urbino and that most famous academy, a "Noli me tangere," and a S. John the Evangelist sleeping while Christ is praying in the Garden, all very beautiful.

 

 

 

Andrea Sansovino (ca. 1460-1529)

Vasari's Lives of the Artists







ALTHOUGH Andrea, the son of Domenico Contucci of Monte Sansovino, was born from a poor father, a tiller of the earth, and rose from the condition of shepherd, nevertheless his conceptions were so lofty, his genius so rare, and his mind so ready, both in his works and in his discourses on the difficulties of architecture and perspective, that there was not in his day a better, rarer, or more subtle intellect than his, nor one that was more able than he was to render the greatest doubts clear and lucid; wherefore he well deserved to be held in his own times, by all who were qualified to judge, to be supreme in those professions. Andrea was born, so it is said, in the year 1460; and in his childhood, while looking after his flocks, he would draw on the sand the livelong day, as is also told of Giotto, and copy in clay some of the animals that he was guarding. So one day it happened that a Florentine citizen, who is said to have been Simone Vespucci, at that time Podesta of the Monte, passing by the place where Andrea was looking after his little charges, saw the boy standing all intent on drawing or modeling in clay. Whereupon he called to him, and, having seen what was the boy's bent, and heard whose son he was, he asked for him from Domenico Contucci, who graciously granted his request; and Simone promised to place him in the way of learning design, in order to see what virtue there might be in that inclination of nature, if assisted by continual study.

Having returned to Florence, then, Simone placed him to learn art with Antonio del Pollaiuolo, under whom Andrea made such proficience, that in a few years he became a very good master. In the house of that Simone, on the Ponte Vecchio, there may still be seen a cartoon executed by him at that time, of Christ being scourged at the Column, drawn with much diligence; and, in addition, two marvelous heads in terracotta, copied from ancient medals, one of the Emperor Nero, and the other of the Emperor Galba, which heads served to adorn a chimney-piece; but the Galba is now at Arezzo, in the house of Giorgio Vasari. Afterwards, while still living in Florence, he made an altarpiece in terracotta for the Church of SantU Agata at Monte Sansovino, with a St Laurence and some other saints, and little scenes most beautifully executed. And no long time after this he made another like it, containing a very beautiful Assumption of Our Lady, Sant'Agata, Santa Lucia, and San Romualdo; which altarpiece was afterwards glazed by the Della Robbia family.

Then, pursuing the art of sculpture, he made in his youth for Simone del Pollaiuolo, otherwise called II Cronaca, two capitals for pilasters in the Sacristy of Santo Spirito, which brought him very great fame, and led to his receiving a commission to execute the antechamber that is between the said sacristy and the church; and since the space was very small, Andrea was forced to use great ingenuity. He made, therefore, a structure culture of greystone in the Corinthian Order, with twelve round columns, six on either side; and having laid architrave, frieze, and cornice over these columns, he then raised a barrel-shaped vault all of the same stone, with a coffer-work surface full of carvings, which was something novel, rich and varied, and much extolled. It is true, indeed, that if the moldings of that coffer-work ceiling, which serve to divide the square and round panels by which it is adorned, had been contrived so as to fail in a straight line with the columns, with truer proportion and harmony, this work would be wholly perfect in every part; and it would have been an easy thing to do this. But, according to what I once heard from certain old friends of Andrea, he used to defend himself by saving that he had adhered in his vault to the method of the coffering in the Ritonda at Rome, wherein the ribs that radiate from the round window in the center above, from which that temple gets its light, serve to enclose the square sunk panels containing the rosettes, which diminish little by little, as likewise do the ribs; and for that reason they do not fall in a straight line with the columns.

Andrea used to add that if he who built the Temple of the Ritonda, which is the best designed and proportioned that there is, and made with more harmony than any other, paid no attention to this in a vault of such size and importance, much less should he do so in a coffered ceiling with far smaller panels. Nevertheless many craftsmen, and Michelangelo in particular, have been of the opinion that the Ritonda was built by three architects, of whom the first carried it as far as the cornice that is above the columns, and the second from the cornice upwards, the part, namely, that contains those windows of more graceful workmanship, for in truth this second part is very different in manner from the part below, since the vaulting was carried out without any relation between the coffering and the straight lines of what is below. The third is believed to have made the portico, which was a very rare work. And for these reasons the masters who practice this art at the present day should not fall into such an error and then make excuses, as did Andrea.

After that work, hawing received from the family of the Corbinelli the commission for the Chapel of the Sacrament in the same church, he carried it out with much diligence, imitating in the low reliefs Donato and other excellent craftsmen, and sparing no labor in his desire to do himself credit, as, indeed, he did. In two niches, one on either side of a very beautiful tabernacle, he placed two saints somewhat more than one braccio in height, St. James and St. Matthew, executed with such spirit and excellence, that every sort of merit is revealed in them and not one fault. Equally good, also, are two Angels in the round that are the crowning glory of this work, with the most beautiful draperies--for they are in the act of flying--that are anywhere to be seen; and in the center is a little naked Christ full of grace. There are also some scenes with little figures in the predella and over the tabernacle, all so well executed that the point of a brush could scarcely do what Andrea did with his chisel. But whosoever wishes to be amazed by the diligence of this extraordinary man should look at the architecture of this work as a whole, for it is so well executed and joined together in its small proportions that it appears to have been chiseled out of one single stone.

Much extolled, also, is a large Pieta of marble that he made in half relief on the front of the altar, with the Madonna and St. John weeping. Nor could one imagine any more beautiful pieces of casting than are the bronze gratings that enclose that chapel, with their ornaments of marble, and with stags, the device, or rather the arms, of the Corbinelli, which serve as adornments for the bronze candelabra. In short, this work was executed without any sparing of labor, and with all the best considerations that could possibly be imagined.

By these and by other works the name of Andrea spread far and wide, and he was sought for from the elder Lorenzo de' Medici, the Magnificent, in whose garden, as has been related, he had pursued the studies of design, by the King of Portugal; and, being therefore sent to him by Lorenzo, he executed for that King many works of sculpture and of architecture, and in particular a very beautiful palace with four towers, and many other buildings. Part of the palace was painted after designs and cartoons by the hand of Andrea, who drew very well, as may be seen from some drawings by his own hand in our book, finished with a charcoal point, and some other architectural drawings, showing excellent design.

He also made for that King a carved altar of wood, con containing some Prophets; and likewise a very beautiful battlepiece in clay, to be afterwards carved in marble, representing the wars that the King waged with the Moors, who were vanquished by him; and no work by the hand of Andrea was ever seen that was more spirited or more terrible than this, what with the movements and various attitudes of the horses, the heaps of dead, and the vehement fury of the soldiers in combat. And he made a figure of St. Mark in marble, which was a very rare work. While in the service of that King, Andrea also gave his attention to some difficult and fantastic architectural works, according to the custom of that country, in order to please the King; of which things I once saw a book at Monte Sansovino in the possession of his heirs, which is now in the hands of Maestro Girolamo Lombardo, who was his disciple, and to whom it fell, as will be related, to finish some works begun by Andrea.

Having been nine years in Portugal, and growing weary of that service, and desirous of seeing his relatives and friends in Tuscany again, Andrea determined, now that he had put together a good sum of money, to obtain leave from the King and return home. And so, having been granted permission, although not willingly, he returned to Florence, leaving behind him one who should complete such of his works as remained unfinished. After arriving in Florence, he began in the year 1500 a marble group of St. John baptizing Christ, which was to be placed over that door of the Temple of San Giovanni that faces the Misericordia; but he did not finish it, because he was almost forced to go to Genoa, where he made two figures of marble, Christ, or rather St. John, and a Madonna, which are truly worthy of the highest praise. And those at Florence remained unfinished, and are still to be found at the present day in the Office of Works of the said San Giovanni.

He was then summoned to Rome by Pope Julius II, and received the commission for two tombs of marble, which were erected in Santa Maria del Popolo--one for Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, and the other for the Cardinal of Recanati, a very near relative of the Pope--and these works were wrought so perfectly by Andrea that nothing more could be desired, since they were so well executed and finished, and with such purity, beauty, and grace, that they reveal the true consideration and proportion of art. There may be seen there, also, a Temperance with an hourglass in her hand, which is held to be a thing divine; and, indeed, it does not appear to be a modern work, but ancient and wholly perfect. And although there are other figures there similar to it, but on account of its attitude and grace it is much the best; not to mention that nothing could be more pleasing and beautiful than the veil that she has around her, which is executed with such delicacy that it is a miracle to behold.

In Sant'Agostino at Rome, on a pilaster in the middle of the church, he made in marble a St. Anne embracing a Madonna with the Child, a little less than lifesize. This work may be counted as one of the best of modern times, since, even as a lively and wholly natural gladness is seen in the old woman, and a divine beauty in the Madonna, so the figure of the Infant Christ is so well wrought, that no other was ever executed with such delicacy and perfection. Wherefore it well deserved that for many years a succession of sonnets and various other learned compositions should be attached to it, of which the friars of that place have a book full, which I myself have seen, to my no little marvel. And in truth the world was right in doing this, for the reason that the work can never be praised enough.

The fame of Andrea having thereby grown greater. Leo X, who had resolved that the adornment with wrought marble of the Chamber of the Madonna in Santa Maria at Loreto should be carried out, according to the beginning made by Bramante, ordained that Andrea should bring that work to completion. The ornamentation of that Chamber, which Bramante had begun, had at the corners four double projections, which, adorned by pillars with bases and carved capitals, rested on a socle rich with carvings, and two braccia and a half in height; over which socle, between the two aforesaid pillars, he had made a large niche to contain seated figures, and, above each of these niches, a smaller one, which, reaching to the collarino of the capitals of those pillars, left a frieze of the same height as the capitals. Above these were afterwards laid architrave, frieze, and richly carved cornice, which, going right round all the four walls, project over the four corners; and in the middle of each of the larger walls--for the Chamber is greater in length than in breadth-- were left two spaces, since there was the same projection in the center of those walls as there was at the corners; whence the larger niche below, with the smaller one above it, came to be enclosed by a space of five braccia on either side. In this space were two doors, one on either side, through which one entered into the chapel; and above the doors was a space of five braccia between one niche and another, wherein were to be carved scenes in marble.

The front wall was the same, but without niches in the center, and the height of the socle, with the projection, formed an altar, which was set off by the pillars and the niches at the corners. In the same front wall, in the center, was a space of the same breadth as the spaces at the sides, to contain some scenes in the upper part, while below, the same in height as the spaces of the sides, but beginning immediately above the altar, was a bronze grating opposite to the inner altar, through which it was possible to hear the Mass and to see the inside of the Chamber and the aforesaid altar of the Madonna. Altogether, then, the spaces and compartments for the scenes were seven: one in front, above the grating, two on each of the longer sides, and two on the upper part--that is to say, behind the altar of the Madonna; and, in addition, there were eight large and eight small niches, with other smaller spaces for the arms and devices of the Pope and of the Church.

Andrea, then, having found the work in this condition, distributed over these spaces, with a rich and beautiful arrangement, scenes from the life of the Madonna. In one of the two side walls, he began in one part the Nativity of the Madonna, and executed half of it; and it was completely finished afterwards by Baccio Bandinelli, In the other part he began the Marriage of the Virgin, but this also remained unfinished, and after the death of Andrea it was completed as we see it by Raffaello da Montelupo. On the front wall he arranged that there should be made, in two small squares which are on either side of the bronze grating, in one the Visitation and in the other the scene of the Virgin and Joseph going to have themselves enrolled for taxes ; which scenes were afterwards executed by Francesco da San Gallo, then a young man. Then, in that part where the greatest space is, Andrea made the Angel Gabriel bringing the Annunciation to the Virgin--which happened in that very chamber which these marbles enclose--with such grace and beauty that there is nothing better to be seen, for he made the Virgin wholly intent on that Salutation, and the Angel, kneeling, appears to be not of marble, but truly celestial, with "Ave Maria" issuing from his mouth.

In company with Gabriel are two other Angels, in full relief and detached from the marble, one of whom is walking after him and the other appears to be flying. Behind a building stand two other Angels, carved out by the chisel in such a way that they seem to be alive. In the air, on a cloud much undercut--nay, almost entirely detached from the marble--are many little boys upholding a God the Father, who is sending down the Holy Spirit by means of a ray of marble, which, descending from Him completely detached, appears quite real ; as, likewise, is the Dove upon it, which represents the Holy Spirit. Nor can one describe how great is the beauty and how delicate the carving of a vase filled with flowers, which was made in this work by the gracious hand of Andrea, who lavish so much excellence on the plumes of the Angels, the hair, the grace their features and draperies, and, in short, on every other thing, that this divine work cannot be extolled enough. And, in truth, that most holy place, which was the very house and habitation of the Mother of the Son of God, could not obtain from the resources of the world a greater, richer, or more beautiful adornment than that which it received from the architecture of Bramante and the sculpture of Andrea Sansovino; although, even if it were entirely of the most precious gems of the East, it would be little more than nothing in comparison with such merits.

Andrea spent an almost incredible amount of time over this work and therefore had no time to finish the others that he had begun; for in addition to those mentioned above, he began in a space on one of the side-walls the Nativity of Jesus Christ, with the Shepherds and four Angels singing; and all these he finished so well that they seem to be wholly alive. But the story of the Magi, which he began above that one, was afterwards finished by Girolamo Lombardo, his disciple, and by others. On the back wall he arranged that two large scenes should be made, one above the other; in one, the Death of Our Lady, with the Apostles bearing her to her burial, four Angels in the air, and many Jews seeking to steal that most holy corpse; and this was finished after Andrea's lifetime by the sculptor Bologna. Below this one, then, he arranged that there should be made a scene of the Miracle of Loreto, showing in what manner that chapel, which was the Chamber of Our Lady, wherein she was born, brought up, and saluted by the Angel. and in which she reared her Son up to the age of twelve and lived ever after His Death was finally carried by the Angels, first into Sclavonia, afterwards to a forest in the territory of Recanati, and in the end to the place where it is now held in such veneration and continually visited in solemn throng by all the Christian people. This scene, I say, was executed in marble on that wall, according to the arrangement made by Andrea, by the Florentine sculptor Tribolo, as will be related in due place. Andrea, likewise blocked out the Prophets for the niches, but did not finish them completely, save one alone, and the others were afterwards finished by the aforesaid Girolamo Lombardo and by other sculptors, as will be seen in the Lives that are to follow. But with regard to all the works wrought by Andrea in this undertaking, they are the most beautiful and best executed works of sculpture that had ever been made up to that time.

In like manner, the Palace of the Canons of the same church was also carried on by Andrea, after the arrangements made by Bramante the commission of Pope Leo. But this, also, remained unfinished after the death of Andrea, and the building was continued under Clement VII by Antonio da San Gallo, and then by the architect Giovanni Boccalino, under the patronage of the very reverend Cardinal Carpi, up to the year 1563. While Andrea was at work on the aforesaid Chapel of the Virgin, there were built the fortifications of Loreto and other works, which were highly extolled by the all-conquering Signor Giovanni de' Medici, with whom Andrea had a very strait friendship, having become first acquainted with him in Rome.

Having four months of holiday in the year for repose while he was working at Loreto, he used to spend that time in agriculture at his native place of Monte Sansovino, enjoying meanwhile a most tranquil rest with his relatives and friends. Living thus at the Monte during the summer, he built there a commodious house for himself and bought much property; and for the Friars of Sant'Agostino in that place he had a cloister made, which, although small, is very well designed, but also out of the square, since those Fathers insisted on having it built over old walls. Andrea, however, made the interior rectangular by in creasing the thickness of the pilasters at the corners, in order to change it from from an ill-proportioned structure into one with good and true measurements. He designed, also, for a Company that had its seat in that. cloister, under the title of SantU Antonio, a very beautiful door of the Doric Order; and likewise the tramezzo and pulpit of the Church of Sant' Agostino.

He also caused a little chapel to be built for the friars half way down the hill on the descent to the fountain, without the door that leads to the old Pieve, although they had no wish for it. He made the design for the house of Messer Pietro, a most skillful astrologer, at Arezzo; and a large figure of terra-cotta for Montepulciano, of King Porsena, which was a rare work, although I have never seen it again since the first time, so that I fear that it may have come to an evil end. And for a German priest, who was his friend, he made a lifesize San Rocco of terracotta, very beautiful; which priest had it placed in the Church of Battifolle, in the district of Arezzo, This was the last piece of sculpture culture that Andrea executed.

He gave the design, also, for the steps ascending to the Vescovado of Arezzo; and for the Madonna delle Lagrime, in the same city, he made the design of a very beautiful ornament that was to be executed in marble, with four figures. each four braccia high ; but this work was carried no farther, on account of the death of our Andrea. For he, having reached the age of sixty-eight, and being a man who would never stay idle, set to work to move some stakes from one place to another at his villa, whereby he caught a chill; and in a few days, worn out by a continuous fever, he died, in the year 1529. The death of Andrea grieved his native place by reason of the honor that he had brought it, and his sons and the women of his house hold, who lost both their dearest one and their support. And not long ago Muzio Camillo, one of the three aforesaid sons, who was displaying a most beautiful intellect in the studies of learning and letters, followed him, to the great loss of his family and displeasure of his friends.

Andrea, in addition to his profession of art, was truly a person of much distinction, for he was wise in his discourse, and reasoned most beautifully on every subject. He was prudent and regular in his every action, much the friend of learned men, and a philosopher of great natural gifts. He gave much attention to the study of cosmography, and left to his family a number of drawings and writings on the subject of distances and measurements. He was somewhat small in stature, but robust and beautifully made. His hair was soft and long, his eyes light in color, his nose aquiline, and his skin pink and white; but he had a slight impediment in his speech.

His disciples were the aforesaid Girolamo Lombardo, the Florentine Simone Cioli, Domenico dal Monte Sansovino (who died soon after him), and the Florentine Leonardo del Tasso who made theSt. Sebastian of wood over his own tomb in Sant'Ambrogio at Florence, and the marble panel of the Nuns of Santa Chiara. A disciple of Andrea, likewise, was the Florentine Jacopo Sansovino--so called after his master--of whom there will be a long account in the proper place. Architecture and sculpture, then, are much indebted to Andrea, in that he enriched the one with many rules of measurement and devices fordrawing weights, and with a degree of diligence that had not been employedbefore, and in the other he brought his marble to perfection with marvelous judgment, care, and mastery.


 

 

 

BENEDETTO DA ROVEZZANO
SCULPTOR

Vasari's Lives of the Artists

Great, I think, must be the displeasure of those who, having executed some work of genius, yet, when they hope to enjoy the fruits of this in their old age, and to see the beautiful results achieved by other intellects in works similar to their own, and to be able to perceive what perfection there may be in that field of art that they themselves have practised, find themselves robbed by adverse fortune, by time, by a bad habit of body, or by some other cause, of the sight of their eyes; whence they are not able, as they were before, to perceive either the deficiencies or the perfection of men whom they hear of as living and practising their own professions. And even more are they grieved to hear the praises of the new masters, not through envy, but because they are not able to judge, like others, whether that fame be well-deserved or not.

This misfortune happened to Benedetto da Rovezzano, a sculptor of Florence, of whom we are now about to write the Life, to the end that the world may know how able and practised a sculptor he was, and with what diligence he carved marble in strong relief against its ground in the marvellous works that he made. Among the first of many labors that this master executed in Florence, may be numbered a chimney-piece of greystone that is in the house of Pier Francesco Borgherini, wherein are capitals, friezes, and many other ornaments, carved by his hand in open-work with great diligence. In the house of Messer Bindo Altoviti, likewise, is a chimney-piece by the same hand, with a lavatory of marble, and some other things executed with much delicacy; but everything in these that has to do with architecture was designed by Jacopo Sansovino, then a young man.

Next, in the year 1512, Benedetto received the commission for a tomb of marble, with rich ornaments, in the principal chapel of the Carmine in Florence, for Piero Soderini, who had been Gonfalonier in that city; and that work was executed by him with incredible diligence, seeing that, besides foliage, carved emblems of death, and figures, he made therein with basanite, in low-relief, a canopy in imitation of black cloth, with so much grace and such beautiful finish and lustre, that the stone appears to be exquisite black satin rather than basanite. And, to put it in a few words, for all that the hand of Benedetto did in this work there is no praise that would not seem too little.

And since he also gave his attention to architecture, there was restored from the design of Benedetto a house near S. Apostolo in Florence, belonging to Messer Oddo Altoviti, Patron and Prior of that church. There Benedetto made the principal door in marble, and, over the door of the house, the arms of the Altoviti in greystone, with the wolf, lean, excoriated, and carved in such strong relief, that it seems to be almost separate from the shield; and some pendant ornaments carved in open-work with such delicacy, that they appear to be not of stone, but of the finest paper. In the same church, above the two chapels of Messer Bindo Altoviti, for which Giorgio Vasari of Arezzo painted the panel picture of the Conception in oils, Benedetto made a marble tomb for the said Messer Oddo, surrounded by an ornament full of most masterly foliage, with a sarcophagus, likewise very beautiful.

Benedetto also executed, in competition with Jacopo Sansovino and Baccio Bandinelli, as has been related, one of the Apostles, four and a half braccia in height, for S. Maria del Fiore-- namely, a S. John the Evangelist, which is a passing good figure, wrought with fine design and skill. This figure is in the Office of Works, in company with the others.

Next, in the year 1515, the chiefs and heads of the Order of Vallombrosa, wishing to transfer the body of S. Giovanni Gualberto from the Abbey of Passignano to the Church of S. Trinita', an abbey of the same Order, in Florence, commissioned Benedetto to make a design, upon which he was to set to work, for a chapel and tomb combined, with a vast number of lifesize figures in the round, which were to be suitably distributed over that work in some niches separated by pilasters filled with ornaments and friezes and with delicately carved grotesques. And below this whole work there was to be a base one braccio and a half in height, wherein were to be scenes from the life of the said S. Giovanni Gualberto; while endless numbers of other ornaments were to be round the sarcophagus, and as a crown to the work. On this tomb, then, Benedetto, assisted by many carvers, laboured continually for ten years, with vast expense to that Congregation; and he brought the work to completion in their house of Guarlondo, a place near San Salvi, without the Porta alla Croce, where the General of the Order that was having the work executed almost always lived. Benedetto, then, carried out the making of that chapel and tomb in such a manner as amazed Florence; but, as Fate would have it--for even marbles and the finest works of men of excellence are subject to the whims of fortune--after much discord among those monks, their government was changed, and the work remained unfinished in the same place until the year 1530.

At which time, war raging round Florence, all those labors were ruined by soldiers, the heads wrought with such diligence were impiously struck off from the little figures, and the whole work was so completely destroyed and broken to pieces, that the monks afterwards sold what was left for a mere song. If any one wishes to see a part of it, let him go to the Office of Works of S. Maria del Fiore, where there are a few pieces, bought as broken marble not many years ago by the officials of that place. And, in truth, even as everything is brought to fine completion in those monasteries and other places where peace and concord reign, so, on the contrary, nothing ever reaches perfection or an end worthy of praise in places where there is naught save rivalry and discord, because what takes a good and wise man a hundred years to build up can be destroyed by an ignorant and crazy boor in one day. And it seems as if fortune wishes that those who know the least and delight in nothing that is excellent, should always be the men who govern and command, or rather, ruin, everything: as was also said of secular Princes, with no less learning than truth, by Ariosto, at the beginning of his seventeenth canto. But returning to Benedetto: it was a sad pity that all his labors and all the money spent by that Order should have come to such a miserable end.

By the same architect were designed the door and vestibule of the Badia of Florence, and likewise some chapels, among them that of S. Stefano, erected by the family of the Pandolfini. Finally, Benedetto was summoned to England into the service of the King, for whom he executed many works in marble and in bronze, and, in particular, his tomb; from which works, through the liberality of that King, he gained enough to be able to live in comfort for the rest of his life. Thereupon he returned to Florence; but, after he had finished some little things, a sort of giddiness, which even in England had begun to affect his eyes, and other troubles caused, so it was said, by standing too long over the fire in the founding of metals, or by some other reasons, in a short time robbed him completely of the sight of his eyes; wherefore he ceased to work about the year 1550, and to live a few years after that. Benedetto endured that blindness during the last years of his life with the patience of a good Christian, thanking God that He had first enabled him, by means of his labors, to live an honorable life.

Benedetto was a courteous gentleman, and he always delighted in the society of men of culture. His portrait was copied from one made, when he was a young man, by Agnolo di Donnino. This original is in our book of drawings, wherein there are also some drawings very well executed by the hand of Benedetto, who deserves, on account of all those works, to be numbered among our most excellent craftsmen.

 

 

 

VASARI'S LIVES OF BACCIO DA MONTELUPO AND RAFFAELLO DA MONTELUPO
SCULPTORS

Vasari's Lives of the Artists


So strong is the belief of mankind that those who are negligent in the arts which they profess to practise can never arrive at any perfection in them, that it was in the face of the judgment of many that Baccio da Montelupo learnt the art of sculpture; and this happened to him because in his youth, led astray by pleasures, he would scarcely ever study, and, although he was exhorted and upbraided by many, he thought little or nothing of art. But having come to years of discretion, which bring sense with them, he was forced straightway to learn how far he was from the good way. Whereupon, seeing with shame that others were going ahead of him in that art, he resolved with a stout heart to follow and practise with all possible zeal that which in his idleness he had hitherto shunned. This resolution was the reason that he produced in sculpture such fruits as the opinions of many no longer expected from him.

Having thus devoted himself with all his powers to his art, and practising it continually, he became a rare and excellent master. And of this he gave a proof in a work in hard-stone, wrought with the chisel, on the corner of the garden attached to the Palace of the Pucci in Florence; which was the escutcheon of Pope Leo X, with two children supporting it, executed in a beautiful and masterly manner. He made a Hercules for Pier Francesco de' Medici; and from the Guild of Porta Santa Maria he received the commission for a statue of S. John the Evangelist, to be executed in bronze, in securing which he had many difficulties, since a number of masters made models in competition with him. This figure was afterwards placed on the corner of S. Michele in Orto, opposite to the Ufficio; and the work was finished by him with supreme diligence. It is said that when he had made the figure in clay, all who saw the arrangement of the armatures, and the moulds laid upon them, held it to be a beautiful piece of work, recognizing the rare ingenuity of Baccio in such an enterprise; and when they had seen it cast with the utmost facility, they gave Baccio credit for having shown supreme mastery, and having made a solid and beautiful casting. These labors endured in that profession, brought him the name of a good and even excellent master; and that figure is esteemed more than ever at the present day by all craftsmen, who hold it to be most beautiful.

Setting himself also to work in wood, he carved lifesize Crucifixes, of which he made an endless number for all parts of Italy, and among them one that is over the door of the choir of the Monks of S. Marco at Florence. These are all excellent and full of grace, but there are some that are much more perfect than the rest, such as the one of the Murate in Florence, and another, no less famous than the first, in S. Pietro Maggiore; and for the Monks of SS. Fiora e Lucilla he made a similar one, which they placed over the high altar of their abbey at Arezzo, and which is held to be much the most beautiful of them all. For the visit of Pope Leo X to Florence, Baccio erected between the Palace of the Podesta' and the Badia a very beautiful triumphal arch of wood and clay; with many little works, which have either disappeared or been dispersed among the houses of citizens. Having grown weary, however, of living in Florence, he went off to Lucca, where he executed some works in sculpture, and even more in architecture, in the service of that city, and, in particular, the beautiful and well-designed Temple of S. Paulino, the Patron Saint of the people of Lucca, built with proofs of a fine and well-trained intelligence both within and without, and richly adorned. Living in that city, then, up to the eighty-eighth year of his life, he ended his days there, and received honorable burial in the aforesaid S. Paulino from those whom he had honoured when alive.

A contemporary of Baccio was Agostino, a very famous sculptor and carver of Milan, who began in S. Maria, at Milan, the tomb of Monsignore de Foix, which remains unfinished even now; and in it may still be seen many large figures, some finished, some half completed, and others only blocked out, with a number of scenes in half-relief, in pieces and not built in, and a great quantity of foliage and trophies. For the Biraghi, also, he made another tomb, which is finished and erected in S. Francesco, with six large figures, the base wrought with scenes, and other very beautiful ornaments, which bear witness to the masterly skill of that valiant craftsman.

Baccio left at his death, among other sons, Raffaello, who applied himself to sculpture, and not merely equalled his father, but surpassed him by a great measure. This Raffaello, beginning in his youth to work in clay, in wax, and in bronze, acquired the name of an excellent sculptor, and was therefore taken by Antonio da San Gallo to Loreto, together with many others, in order to finish the ornamentation of that Chamber, according to the directions left by Andrea Sansovino; where Raffaello completely finished the Marriage of Our Lady, begun by the said Sansovino, executing many things in a beautiful and perfect manner, partly over the beginnings of Andrea, and partly from his own invention. Wherefore he was deservedly esteemed to be one of the best craftsmen who worked there in his time.

He had finished this work, when Michelagnolo, by order of Pope Clement VII, proceeded to finish the new sacristy and the library of S. Lorenzo in Florence; and that master, having recognized the talent of Raffaello, made use of him in that work, and caused him to execute, among other things, after the model that he himself had made, the S. Damiano of marble which is now in that sacristy--a very beautiful statue, very highly extolled by all men. After the death of Clement, Raffaello attached himself to Duke Alessandro de' Medici, who was then having the fortress of Prato built; and he made for him in grey-stone, on one of the extremities of the chief bastion of that fortress--namely, on the outer side--the escutcheon of the Emperor Charles V, upheld by two nude and lifesize Victories, which were much extolled, as they still are. And for the extremity of another bastion, in the direction of the city, on the southern side, he made the arms of Duke Alessandro in the same kind of stone, with two figures. Not long after, he executed a large Crucifix of wood for the Nuns of S. Apollonia; and for Alessandro Antinori, a very rich and noble merchant of Florence at that time, he prepared a most magnificent festival for the marriage of his daughter, with statues, scenes, and many other most beautiful ornaments.

Having then gone to Rome, he received from Buonarroti a commission to make two figures of marble, each five braccia high, for the tomb of Julius II, which was finished and erected at that time by Michelagnolo in S. Pietro in Vincula. But Raffaello, falling ill while he was executing this work, was not able to put into it his usual zeal and diligence, on which account he lost credit thereby, and gave little satisfaction to Michelagnolo. At the visit of the Emperor Charles V to Rome, for which Pope Paul III prepared a festival worthy of that all-conquering Prince, Raffaello made with clay and stucco, on the Ponte S. Angelo, fourteen statues so beautiful, that they were judged to be the best that had been made for that festival. And, what is more, he executed them with such rapidity that he was in time to come to Florence, where the Emperor was likewise expected, to make within the space of five days and no more, on the abutment of the Ponte a S. Trinitˆ two Rivers of clay, each five braccia high, the Rhine to stand for Germany and the Danube for Hungary.

After this, having been summoned to Orvieto, he made in marble, in a chapel wherein the excellent sculptor Mosca had previously executed many most beautiful ornaments, the story of the Magi in half-relief, which proved to be a very fine work, on account of the great variety of figures and the good manner with which he executed them.

Then, having returned to Rome, he was appointed by Tiberio Crispo, at that time Castellan of the Castello di S. Angelo, as architect of that great structure; whereupon he set in order many rooms there, adorning them with carvings in many kinds of stone and various sorts of variegated marbles on the chimney-pieces, windows, and doors. In addition to this, he made a marble statue, five braccia high, of the Angel of that Castle, which is on the summit of the great square tower in the centre, where the standard flies, after the likeness of that Angel that appeared to S. Gregory, who, having prayed that the people should be delivered from a most grievous pestilence, saw him sheathing his sword in the scabbard. Later, when the said Crispo had been made a Cardinal, he sent Raffaello several times to Bolsena, where he was building a palace. Nor was it long before the very reverend Cardinal Salviati and Messer Baldassarre Turini da Pescia commissioned Raffaello, who had already left the service of the Castle and of Cardinal Crispo, to make the statue of Pope Leo that is now over his tomb in the Minerva at Rome. That work finished, Raffaello made a tomb for the same Messer Baldassarre in the Church of Pescia, where that gentleman had built a chapel of marble. And for a chapel in the Consolazione, at Rome, he made three figures of marble in half-relief. But afterwards, having given himself up to the sort of life fit rather for a philosopher than for a sculptor, and wishing to live in peace, he retired to Orvieto, where he undertook the charge of the building of S. Maria, in which he made many improvements; and with this he occupied himself for many years, growing old before his time.

I believe that Raffaello, if he had undertaken great works, as he might have done, would have executed more things in art, and better, than he did. But he was too kindly and considerate, avoiding all conflict, and contenting himself with that wherewith fortune had provided him; and thus he neglected many opportunities of making works of distinction. Raffaello was a very masterly draughtsman, and he had a much better knowledge of all matters of art than had been shown by his father Baccio. In our book are some drawings by the hand both of the one and of the other; but those of Raffaello are much the finer and more graceful, and executed with better art. In his architectural decorations Raffaello followed in great measure the manner of Michelagnolo, as is proved by the chimney-pieces, doors, and windows that he made in the aforesaid Castello di S. Angelo, and by some chapels built under his direction, in a rare and beautiful manner, at Orvieto.

But returning to Baccio: his death was a great grief to the people of Lucca, who had known him as a good and upright man, courteous to all, and very loving. Baccio's works date about the year of our Lord 1533. His dearest friend, who learnt many things from him, was Zaccaria da Volterra, who executed many works in terracotta at Bologna, some of which are in the Church of S. Giuseppe.

 

 

 

LORENZO DI CREDI
PAINTER OF FLORENCE

Vasari's Lives of the Artists


THE WHILE THAT Maestro Credi, an excellent goldsmith in his day, was working in Florence with very good credit and repute, Andrea Sciarpelloni placed with him, to the end that he might learn that craft, his son Lorenzo, a young man of beautiful intellect and excellent character. And since the ability and willingness of the master to teach were not greater than the zeal and readiness with which the disciple absorbed whatever was shown to him, no long time passed before Lorenzo became not only a good and diligent designer, but also so able and finished a goldsmith, that no young man of that time was his equal; and this brought such honor to Credi, that from that day onward Lorenzo was always called by everyone, not Lorenzo Sciarpelloni, but Lorenzo di Credi.

Growing in courage, then, Lorenzo attached himself to Andrea Verrocchio, who at that time had taken it into his head to devote himself to painting; and under him, having Pietro Perugino and Leonardo da Vinci as his companions and friends, although they were rivals, he set himself with all diligence to learn to paint. And since Lorenzo took an extraordinary pleasure in the manner of Leonardo, he contrived to imitate it so well that there was no one who came nearer to it than he did in the high finish and thorough perfection of his works, as may be seen from many drawings that are in our book, executed with the style, with the pen, or in water-colours, among which are some drawings made from models of clay covered with waxed linen cloths and with liquid clay, imitated with such diligence, and finished with such patience, as it is scarcely possible to conceive, much less to equal.

For these reasons, then, Lorenzo was so beloved by his master, that, when Andrea went to Venice to cast in bronze the horse and the statue of Bartolommeo da Bergamo, he left to Lorenzo the whole management and administration of his revenues and affairs, and likewise all his drawings, reliefs, statues, and art materials. And Lorenzo, on his part, loved his master Andrea so dearly, that, besides occupying himself with incredible zeal with his interests in Florence, he also went more than once to Venice to see him and to render him an account of his good administration, which was so much to the satisfaction of his master, that, if Lorenzo had consented, Andrea would have made him his heir. Nor did Lorenzo prove in any way ungrateful for this good-will, for, after the death of Andrea, he went to Venice and brought his body to Florence; and then he handed over to his heirs everything that was found to belong to Andrea, except his drawings, pictures, sculptures, and all other things connected with art.

The first paintings of Lorenzo were a round picture of Our Lady, which was sent to the King of Spain (the design of which picture he copied from one by his master Andrea), and a picture, much better than the other, which was likewise copied by Lorenzo from one by Leonardo da Vinci, and also sent to Spain; and so similar was it to that by Leonardo, that no difference could be seen between the one and the other. By the hand of Lorenzo is a Madonna in a very well executed panel, which is beside the great Church of S. Jacopo at Pistoia; and another, also, which is in the Hospital of the Ceppo, and is one of the best pictures in that city. Lorenzo painted many portraits, and when he was a young man he made that one of himself which is now in the possession of his disciple, Gian Jacopo, a painter in Florence, together with many other things left to him by Lorenzo, among which are the portrait of Pietro Perugino and that of Lorenzo's master, Andrea Verrocchio. He also made a portrait of Girolamo Benivieni, a man of great learning, and much his friend.

For the Company of S. Sebastiano, behind the Church of the Servi in Florence, he executed a panel picture of Our Lady, S. Sebastian, and other saints; and for the altar of S. Giuseppe, in S. Maria del Fiore, he painted the first-named saint. To Montepulciano he sent a panel that is now in the Church of S. Agostino, containing a Crucifix, Our Lady, and S. John, painted with much diligence. But the best work that Lorenzo ever executed, and that to which he devoted the greatest care and zeal, in order to surpass himself, was the one that is in a chapel at Cestello, a panel containing Our Lady, S. Julian, and S. Nicholas; and whoever wishes to know how necessary it is for a painter to work with a high finish in oils if he desires that his pictures should remain fresh, must look at this panel, which is painted with such a finish as could not be excelled.

While still a young man, Lorenzo painted a S. Bartholomew on a pilaster in Orsanmichele, and for the Nuns of S. Chiara, in Florence, a panel picture of the Nativity of Christ, with some shepherds and angels; in which picture, besides other things, he took great pains with the imitation of some herbage, painting it so well that it appears to be real. For the same place he made a picture of S. Mary Magdalene in Penitence; and in a round picture that is in the house of Messer Ottaviano de' Medici he painted a Madonna. For S. Friano he painted a panel; and he executed some figures in S. Matteo at the Hospital of Lelmo. For S. Reparata he painted a picture with the Angel Michael, and for the Company of the Scalzo he made a panel picture, executed with much diligence. And, in addition to these works, he made many pictures of Our Lady and others, which are dispersed among the houses of citizens in Florence.

Having thus got together a certain sum of money by means of these labors, and being a man who loved quiet more than riches, Lorenzo retired to S. Maria Nuova in Florence, where he lived and had a comfortable lodging until his death. Lorenzo was much inclined to the sect of Fra Girolamo of Ferrara, and always lived like an upright and orderly man, showing a friendly courtesy whenever the occasion arose. Finally, having come to the seventy-eighth year of his life, he died of old age, and was buried in S. Pietro Maggiore, in the year 1530.

He showed such a perfection of finish in his works, that any other painting, in comparison with his, must always seem merely sketched and dirty. He left many disciples, and among them Giovanni Antonio Sogliani and Tommaso di Stefano. Of Sogliani there will be an account in another place; and as for Tommaso, he imitated his master closely in his high finish, and made many works in Florence and abroad, including a panel picture for Marco del Nero at his villa of Arcetri, of the Nativity of Christ, executed with great perfection of finish. But ultimately it became Tommaso's principal profession to paint on cloth, insomuch that he painted church-hangings better than any other man. Now Stefano, the father of Tommaso, had been an illuminator, and had also done something in architecture; and Tommaso, after his father's death, in order to follow in his steps, rebuilt the bridge of Sieve, which had been destroyed by a flood about that time, at a distance of ten miles from Florence, and likewise that of S. Piero a Ponte on the River Bisenzio, which is a beautiful work; and afterwards he erected many buildings for monasteries and other places. Then, being architect to the Guild of Wool, he made the model for the new buildings which were constructed by that Guild behind the Nunziata; and, finally, having reached the age of seventy or more, he died in the year 1564, and was buried in S. Marco, to which he was followed by an honourable train of the Academy of Design.

But returning to Lorenzo: he left many works unfinished at his death, and, in particular, a very beautiful picture of the Passion of Christ, which came into the hands of Antonio da Ricasoli, and a panel painted for M. Francesco da Castiglioni, Canon of S. Maria del Fiore, who sent it to Castiglioni. Lorenzo had no wish to make many large works, because he took great pains in executing his pictures, and devoted an incredible amount of labour to them, for the reason, above all, that the colours which he used were ground too fine; besides which, he was always purifying and distilling his nut oils, and he made mixtures of colours on his palette in such numbers, that from the first of the light tints to the last of the darks there was a gradual succession involving an over-careful and truly excessive elaboration, so that at times he had twenty-five or thirty of them on his palette. For each tint he kept a separate brush; and where he was working he would never allow any movement that might raise dust. Such excessive care is perhaps no more worthy of praise than the other extreme of negligence, for in all things one should observe a certain mean and avoid extremes, which are generally harmful.

 

 

 

Lorenzetto (1490-1541)
and Boccaccino (before 1466-circa 1524/1525)

Vasari's Lives of the Artists




IT HAPPENS AT TIMES, after Fortune has kept the talent of some fine intellect subjected for a period by poverty, that she thinks better of it, and at an unexpected moment provides all sorts of benefits for one who has hitherto been the object of her hatred, so as to atone in one year for the affronts and discomforts of many. This was seen in Lorenzo, the son of Lodovico the bell-founder, a Florentine, who was engaged in the work both of architecture and of sculpture, and was loved so dearly by Raffaello da Urbino, that he not only was assisted by him and employed in many enterprises, but also received from the same master a wife in the person of a sister of Giulio Romano, a disciple of Raffaello.

Lorenzetto--for thus he was always called--finished in his youth the tomb of Cardinal Forteguerra, formerly begun by Andrea Verrocchio, which was erected in San Jacopo at Pistoia; and there, among other things, is a Charity by the hand of Lorenzetto, which is not otherwise than passing good. And a little afterwards he made a figure for Giovanni Bartolini, to adorn his garden; which finished, he went to Rome, where in his first years he executed many works, of which there is no need to make any further record. Then, receiving from Agostino Chigi, at the instance of Raffaello da Urbino, the commission to make a tomb for him in Santa Maria del Popolo, where Agostino had built a chapel, Lorenzo set himself to work on this with all the zeal, diligence, and labor in his power, in order to come out of it with credit and to give satisfaction to Raffaello, from whom he had reason to expect much favor and assistance, and also in the hope of being richly rewarded by the liberality of Agostino, a man of great wealth. Nor were these labors expended without an excellent result, for, assisted by Raffaello, he executed the figures to perfection: a nude Jonah delivered from the belly of the whale, as a symbol of the resurrection from the dead, and an Elijah, living by grace, with his cruse of water and his bread baked in the ashes, under the juniper-tree.

These statues, then, were brought to the most beautiful completion by Lorenzetto with all the art and diligence at his command, but he did not by any means obtain for them that reward which his great labors and the needs of his family called for, since, death having closed the eyes of Agostino, and almost at the same time those of Raffaello, the heirs of Agostino, with scant respect, allowed these figures to remain in Lorenzetto's workshop, where they stood for many years. In our own day, indeed, they have been set into place on that tomb in the aforesaid Church of Santa Maria del Popolo; but Lorenzo, robbed for those reasons of all hope, found for the present that he had thrown away his time and labor.

Next, by way of executing the testament of Raffaello, Lorenzo was commissioned to make a marble statue of Our Lady, four braccia high, for the tomb of Raffaello in the Temple of Santa Maria Ritonda, where the tabernacle was restored by order of that master. The same Lorenzo made a tomb with two children in half relief, for a merchant of the Perini family, in the Trinita at Rome. And in architecture he made the designs for many houses; in particular, that of the Palace of Messer Bernardino Caffarelli, and in the Valle, for Cardinal Andrea della Valle, the inner facade, and also the design of the stables and of the upper garden. In the composition of that work he included ancient columns, bases, and capitals, and around the whole, to serve as base, he distributed ancient sarcophagi covered with carved scenes. Higher up, below some large niches, he made another frieze with fragments of ancient works, and above this, in those niches, he placed some statues, likewise ancient and of marble, which, although they were not entire-some being with out the head, some without arms, others without legs, and every one, in short, with something missing--nevertheless he arranged to the best advantage, having caused all that was lacking to be restored by good sculptors.

This was the reason that other lords have since done the same thing and have restored many ancient works; as, for example, Cardinals Cesis, Ferrara, and Farnese, and, in a word, all Rome. And, in truth, antiquities restored in this way have more grace than those mutilated trunks, members without heads, or figures in any other way maimed and defective. But to return to the aforesaid garden: over the niches was placed the frieze that is still seen there, of supremely beautiful ancient scenes in half-relief; and this invention of Lorenzo's stood him in very good stead, since, after the troubles of Pope Clement had abated, he was employed by him with much honor and profit to himself. For the Pope had seen, when the fight for the Castello di SantU Angelo was raging, that two little chapels of marble, which were at the head of the bridge, had been a source of mischief, in that some harquebusiers, stand ing in them, shot down all who exposed themselves at the walls, and, themselves in safety, inflicted great losses and baulked the defence; and his Holiness resolved to remove those chapels and to set up in place of them two marble statues on pedestals. And so, after the St. Paul of Paolo Romano, of which there has been an account in another Life, had been set in place, the commission for the other, a St. Peter, was given to Lorenzetto, who acquitted himself passing well, but did not surpass the work of Paolo Romano. These two statues were set up, and are to be seen at the present day at the head of the bridge.

After Pope Clement was dead, Baccio Bandinelli was given the commissions missions for the tombs of that Pope and of Leo X, and Lorenzo was entrusted with the marble masonry that was to be executed for them; whereupon the latter spent no little time over that work. Finally, at the election of Paul III as Pontiff, when Lorenzo was in sorry straits and almost worn out, having nothing but a house which he had built for himself in the Macello de' Corbi, and being weighed down by his five children and by other expenses, Fortune changed and began to raise him and to set him back on a better path; for Pope Paul wishing to have the building of San Pietro continued, and neither Baldassarre of Siena nor any of the others who had been employed in that work being now alive, Antonio da San Gallo appointed Lorenzo as architect for that structure, wherein the walls were being built at a fixed price of so much for every four braccia. Thereupon Lorenzo, without exerting himself, in a few years became more famous and prosperous than he had been after many years of endless labor, through having found God, mankind, and Fortune all propitious at that one moment. And if he had lived longer, he would have done even more towards wiping out those injuries that a cruel fate had unjustly brought upon him during his best period of work. But after reaching the age of forty-seven, he died of fever in the year 1541.

The death of this master caused great grief to his many friends, who had always known him as a loving and reasonable man. And since he had always lived like an upright and orderly citizen, the Deputati of San Pietro gave him honorable burial in a tomb, on which they placed the following epitaph:

SCULPTORI LAURENTIO FLORENTINO
ROMA MIHI TRIBUIT TUMULUM, FLORENTIA VITAM:
NEMO ALIO VELLET NASCI ET OBIRE LOCO.
MDXLI
VIX.AN N. XLVII, MEN. II, D. XV.

Boccaccino of Cremona, who lived about the same time, had acquired the name of a rare and excellent painter in his native place and through out all Lombardy, and his works were very highly extolled, when he went to Rome to see the works, so much renowned, of Michelangelo; but no sooner had he seen them than he sought to the best of his power to disparage and revile them, believing that he could exalt himself almost exactly in proportion as he vilified a man who truly was in the matters of design, and indeed in all others without exception, supremely excellent. This master, then, was commissioned to paint the Chapel of Santa Maria Traspontina; but when he had finished it and thrown it open to view, it was a revelation to all those who thought that he would soar above the heavens, for they saw that he could not reach even to the level of the lowest floor of a house. And so the painters of Rome, on seeing the Coronation of Our Lady that he had painted in that work, with some children flying around her, changed from marvel to laughter.

From this it may be seen that when people begin to exalt with their praise men who are more excellent in name than in deeds, it is a difficult thing to contrive to bring such men down to their true level with words, however reasonable, before their own works, wholly contrary to their reputation, reveal what the masters so celebrated really are. And it is a very certain fact that the worst harm that one man can do to another is the giving of praise too early to any intellect engaged in work , since such praise, swelling him with premature pride, prevents him from going any farther, and a man so greatly extolled, on finding that his works have not that excellence which was expected, takes the censure too much to heart, and despairs completely of ever being able to do good work. Wise men, therefore, should fear praise much more than censure, for the first flatters and deceives, and the second, revealing the truth, gives instruction.

Boccaccino, then, departing from Rome, where he felt himself wounded and torn to pieces, returned to Cremona, and there continued to practice painting to the best of his power and knowledge. In the Duomo, over the arches in the middle, he painted all the stories of the Madonna; and this work is much esteemed in that city. He also made other works throughout that city and in the neighborhood, of which there is no need to make mention.

He taught his art to a son of his own, called Camillo, who, applying himself to the art with more study, strove to make amends for the shortcomings of the boastful Boccaccino. By the hand of this Camillo are some works in San Gismondo, which is a mile distant from Cremona; and these are esteemed by the people of Cremona as the best paintings that they have. He also painted the faćade of a house on their Piazza, all the compartments of the vaulting and some panels in Sant' Agata, and the facade of Sant' Antonio, together with other works, which made him known as a practiced master. If death had not snatched him from the world before his time, he would have achieved a most honorable success, for he was advancing on the good way; and even for those works that he has left to us, he deserves to have record made of him.

But returning to Boccaccino; without having ever made any improvement in his art, he passed from this life at the age of fifty-eight. In his time there lived in Milan a passing good illuminator, called Girolamo, whose works may be seen in good numbers both in that city and throughout all Lombardy. A Milanese, likewise, living about the same time, was Bernardino del Lupino, a very delicate and pleasing painter, as may be seen from many works by his hand that are in that city , and from a Marriage of Our Lady at Sarone, a place twelve miles distant from Milan, and other scenes that are in the Church of Santa Maria, executed most perfectly in fresco. He also worked with a very high finish in oils, and he was a courteous person, and very liberal with his possessions wherefore he deserves all the praise that is due to any craftsman who makes the works and ways of his daily life shine by the adornment of courtesy no less than do his works of art on account of their excellence.

 

 

 

BALDASSARRE PERUZZI
PAINTER AND ARCHITECT OF SIENA

Vasari's Lives of the Artists



Among all the gifts that Heaven distributes to mortals, none, in truth, can or should be held in more account than talent, with calmness and peace of soul, for the first makes us for ever immortal, and the second blessed. He, then, who is endowed with these gifts, in addition to the deep gratitude that he should feel towards God, must make himself known among other men almost as a light amid darkness. And even so, in our own times, did Baldassarre Peruzzi, a painter and architect of Siena, of whom we can say with certainty that the modesty and goodness which were revealed in him were no mean offshoots of that supreme serenity for which the minds of all who are born in this world are ever sighing, and that the works which he left to us are most honourable fruits of that true excellence which was infused in him by Heaven.

Now, although I have called him above, Baldassarre of Siena, because he was always known as a Sienese, I will not withhold that even as seven cities contended for Homer, each claiming that he was her citizen, so three most noble cities of Tuscany--Florence, Volterra, and Siena--have each held that Baldassarre was her son. But, to tell the truth, each of them has a share in him, seeing that Antonio Peruzzi, a noble citizen of Florence, that city being harassed by civil war, went off, in the hope of a quieter life, to Volterra; and after living some time there, in the year 1482 he took a wife in that city, and in a few years had two children, one a boy, called Baldassarre, and the other a girl, who received the name of Virginia. Now it happened that war pursued this man who sought nothing but peace and quiet, and that no long time afterwards Volterra was sacked; whence Antonio was forced to fly to Siena, and to live there in great poverty, having lost almost all that he had.

Meanwhile Baldassarre, having grown up, was for ever associating with persons of ability, and particularly with goldsmiths and draughtsmen; and thus, beginning to take pleasure in the arts, he devoted himself heart and soul to drawing. And not long after, his father being now dead, he applied himself to painting with such zeal, that in a very short time he made marvellous progress therein, imitating living and natural things as well as the works of the best masters. In this way, executing what work he could find, he was able to maintain himself, his mother, and his sister with his art, and to pursue the studies of painting.

His first work--apart from some things at Siena, not worthy of mention--was in a little chapel near the Porta Fiorentina at Volterra, wherein he executed some figures with such grace, that they led to his forming a friendship with a painter of Volterra, called Piero, who lived most of his time in Rome, and going off with that master to that city, where he was doing some work in the Palace for Alexander VI. But after the death of Alexander, Maestro Piero working no more in that place, Baldassarre entered the workshop of the father of Maturino, a painter of no great excellence, who at that time had always plenty of work to do in the form of commonplace commissions. That painter, then, placing a panel primed with gesso before Baldassarre, but giving him no scrap of drawing or cartoon, told him to make a Madonna upon it. Baldassarre took a piece of charcoal, and in a moment, with great mastery, he had drawn what he wished to paint in the picture; and then, setting his hand to the colouring, in a few days he painted a picture so beautiful and so well finished, that it amazed not only the master of the workshop, but also many painters who saw it; and they, recognizing his ability, contrived to obtain for him the commission to paint the Chapel of the High Altar in the Church of S. Onofrio, which he executed in fresco with much grace and in a very beautiful manner. After this, he painted two other little chapels in fresco in the Church of S. Rocco a Ripa. Having thus begun to be in good repute, he was summoned to Ostia, where he painted most beautiful scenes in chiaroscuro in some apartments of the great tower of the fortress; in particular, a hand-to-hand battle after the manner in which the ancient Romans used to fight, and beside this a company of soldiers delivering an assault on a fortress, wherein the attackers, covered by their shields, are seen making a beautiful and spirited onslaught and planting their ladders against the walls, while the men within are hurling them back with the utmost fury. In this scene, also, he painted many antique instruments of war, and likewise various kinds of arms; with many other scenes in another hall, which are held to be among the best works that he ever made, although it is true that he was assisted in this work by Cesare da Milano.

After these labors, having returned to Rome, Baldassarre formed a very strait friendship with Agostino Chigi of Siena, both because Agostino had a natural love for every man of talent, and because Baldassarre called himself a Sienese. And thus, with the help of so great a man, he was able to maintain himself while studying the antiquities of Rome, and particularly those in architecture, wherein, out of rivalry with Bramante, in a short time he made marvellous proficience, which afterwards brought him, as will be related, very great honor and profit. He also gave attention to perspective, and became such a master of that science, that we have seen few in our own times who have worked in it as well as he. Pope Julius II having meanwhile built a corridor in his Palace, with an aviary near the roof, Baldassarre painted there, in chiaroscuro, all the months of the year and the pursuits that are practised in each of them. In this work may be seen an endless number of buildings, theatres, amphitheatres, palaces, and other edifices, all distributed with beautiful invention in that place. He then painted, in company with other painters, some apartments in the Palace of S. Giorgio for Cardinal Raffaello Riario, Bishop of Ostia; and he painted a faćade opposite to the house of Messer Ulisse da Fano, and also that of the same Messer Ulisse, wherein he executed stories of Ulysses that brought him very great renown and fame.

Even greater was the fame that came to him from the model of the Palace of Agostino Chigi, executed with such beautiful grace that it seems not to have been built, but rather to have sprung into life; and with his own hand he decorated the exterior with most beautiful scenes in terretta. The hall, likewise, is adorned with rows of columns executed in perspective, which, with the depth of the intercolumniation, cause it to appear much larger. But what is the greatest marvel of all is a loggia that may be seen over the garden, painted by Baldassarre with scenes of the Medusa turning men into stone, such that nothing more beautiful can be imagined; and then there is Perseus cutting off her head, with many other scenes in the spandrels of that vaulting, while the ornamentation, drawn in perspective with colours, in imitation of stucco, is so natural and lifelike, that even to excellent craftsmen it appears to be in relief. And I remember that when I took the Chevalier Tiziano, a most excellent and honoured painter, to see that work, he would by no means believe that it was painted, until he had changed his point of view, when he was struck with amazement. In that place are some works executed by Fra Sebastiano Viniziano, in his first manner; and by the hand of the divine Raffaello, as has been related, there is a Galatea being carried off by sea-gods.

Baldassarre also painted, beyond the Campo di Fiore, on the way to the Piazza Giudea, a most beautiful faćade in terretta with marvellous perspectives, for which he received the commission from a Groom of the Chamber to the Pope; and it is now in the possession of Jacopo Strozzi, the Florentine. In like manner, he wrought for Messer Ferrando Ponzetti, who afterwards became a Cardinal, a chapel at the entrance of the Church of the Pace, on the left hand, with little scenes from the Old Testament, and also with some figures of considerable size; and for a work in fresco this is executed with much diligence. But even more did he prove his worth in painting and perspective near the high-altar of the same church, where he painted a scene for Messer Filippo da Siena, Clerk of the Chamber, of Our Lady going into the Temple, ascending the steps, with many figures worthy of praise, such as a gentleman in antique dress, who, having dismounted from his horse, with his servants waiting, is giving alms to a beggar, quite naked and very wretched, who may be seen asking him for it with pitiful humility. In this place, also, are various buildings and most beautiful ornaments; and right round the whole work, executed likewise in fresco, are counterfeited decorations of stucco, which have the appearance of being attached to the wall with large rings, as if it were a panel painted in oils.

And in the magnificent festival that the Roman people prepared on the Campidoglio when the baton of Holy Church was given to Duke Giuliano de' Medici, out of six painted scenes which were executed by six different painters of eminence, that by the hand of Baldassarre, twenty-eight braccia high and fourteen broad, showing the betrayal of the Romans by Julia Tarpeia, was judged to be without a doubt better than any of the others. But what amazed everyone most was the perspective view or scenery for a play, which was so beautiful that it would be impossible to imagine anything finer, seeing that the variety and beautiful manner of the buildings, the various loggie, the extravagance of the doors and windows, and the other architectural details that were seen in it, were so well conceived and so extraordinary in invention, that one is not able to describe the thousandth part.

For the house of Messer Francesco di Norcia, on the Piazza de' Farnesi, he made a very graceful door of the Doric Order; and for Messer Francesco Buzio he executed, near the Piazza degl' Altieri, a very beautiful faćade, in the frieze of which he painted portraits from life of all the Roman Cardinals who were then alive, while on the wall itself he depicted the scenes of Cĺsar receiving tribute from all the world, and above he painted the twelve Emperors, who are standing upon certain corbels, being foreshortened with a view to being seen from below, and wrought with extraordinary art. For this whole work he rightly obtained vast commendation. In the Banchi he executed the escutcheon of Pope Leo, with three children, that seemed to be alive, so tender was their flesh. For Fra Mariano Fetti, Friar of the Piombo, he made a very beautiful S. Bernard in terretta in his garden at Montecavallo. And for the Company of S. Catherine of Siena, on the Strada Giulia, in addition to a bier for carrying the dead to burial, he executed many other things, all worthy of praise. In Siena, also, he gave the design for the organ of the Carmine; and he made some other works in that city, but none of much importance.

Later, having been summoned to Bologna by the Wardens of Works of S. Petronio, to the end that he might make the model for the faćade of that church, he made for this two large ground-plans and two elevations, one in the modern manner and the other in the German; and the latter is still preserved in the Sacristy of the same S. Petronio, as a truly extraordinary work, since he drew that building in such sharply-detailed perspective that it appears to be in relief. In the house of Count Giovan Battista Bentivogli, in the same city, he made several drawings for the aforesaid structure, which were so beautiful, that it is not possible to praise enough the wonderful expedients sought out by this man in order not to destroy the old masonry, but to join it in beautiful proportion with the new. For the Count Giovan Battista mentioned above he made the design of a Nativity with the Magi, in chiaroscuro, wherein it is a marvellous thing to see the horses, the equipage, and the courts of the three Kings, executed with supreme beauty and grace, as are also the walls of the temples and some buildings round the hut. This work was afterwards given to be coloured by the Count to Girolamo Trevigi, who brought it to fine completion. Baldassarre also made the design for the door of the Church of S. Michele in Bosco, a most beautiful monastery of the Monks of Monte Oliveto, without Bologna; and the design and model of the Duomo of Carpi, which was very beautiful, and was built under his direction according to the rules of Vitruvius. And in the same place he made a beginning with the Church of S. Niccola, but it was not finished at that time, because Baldassarre was almost forced to return to Siena in order to make designs for the fortifications of that city, which were afterwards carried into execution under his supervision.

He then returned to Rome, where, after building the house that is opposite to the Farnese Palace, with some others within that city, he was employed in many works by Pope Leo X. That Pontiff wished to finish the building of S. Pietro, begun by Julius II after the design of Bramante, but it appeared to him that the edifice was too large and lacking in cohesion; and Baldassarre made a new model, magnificent and truly ingenious, and revealing such good judgment, that some parts of it have since been used by other architects. So diligent, indeed, was this craftsman, so rare and so beautiful his judgment, and such the method with which his buildings were always designed, that he has never had an equal in works of architecture, seeing that, in addition to his other gifts, he combined that profession with a good and beautiful manner of painting. He made the design of the tomb of Adrian VI, and all that is painted round it is by his hand; and Michelagnolo, a sculptor of Siena, executed that tomb in marble, with the help of our Baldassarre.

When the Calandra, a play by Cardinal Bibbiena, was performed before the same Pope Leo, Baldassarre made the scenic setting, which was no less beautiful--much more so, indeed--than that which he had made on another occasion, as has been related above. In such works he deserved all the greater praise, because dramatic performances, and consequently the scenery for them, had been out of fashion for a long time, festivals and sacred representations taking their place. And either before or after (it matters little which) the performance of the aforesaid Calandra, which was one of the first plays in the vulgar tongue to be seen or performed, in the time of Leo X, Baldassarre made two such scenes, which were marvellous, and opened the way to those who have since made them in our own day. Nor is it possible to imagine how he found room, in a space so limited, for so many streets, so many palaces, and so many bizarre temples, loggie, and various kinds of cornices, all so well executed that it seemed that they were not counterfeited, but absolutely real, and that the piazza was not a little thing, and merely painted, but real and very large. He designed, also, the chandeliers and the lights within that illuminated the scene, and all the other things that were necessary, with much judgment, although, as has been related, the drama had fallen almost completely out of fashion. This kind of spectacle, in my belief, when it has all its accessories, surpasses any other kind, however sumptuous and magnificent.

Afterwards, at the election of Pope Clement VII in the year 1524, he prepared the festivities for his coronation. He finished with peperino-stone the front of the principal chapel, formerly begun by Bramante, in S. Pietro; and in the chapel wherein is the bronze tomb of Pope Sixtus, he painted in chiaroscuro the Apostles that are in the niches behind the altar, besides making the design of the Tabernacle of the Sacrament, which is very graceful.

Then in the year 1527, when the cruel sack of Rome took place, our poor Baldassarre was taken prisoner by the Spaniards, and not only lost all his possessions, but was also much maltreated and outraged, because he was grave, noble, and gracious of aspect, and they believed him to be some great prelate in disguise, or some other man able to pay a fat ransom. Finally, however, those impious barbarians having found that he was a painter, one of them, who had borne a great affection to Bourbon, caused him to make a portrait of that most rascally captain, the enemy of God and man, either letting Baldassarre see him as he lay dead, or giving him his likeness in some other way, with drawings or with words. After this, having slipped from their hands, Baldassarre took ship to go to Porto Ercole, and thence to Siena; but on the way he was robbed of everything and stripped to such purpose, that he went to Siena in his shirt. However, he was received with honour and reclothed by his friends, and a little time afterwards he was given a provision and a salary by the Commonwealth, to the end that he might give his attention to the fortification of that city. Living there, he had two children; and, besides what he did for the public service, he made many designs of houses for his fellow-citizens, and the design for the ornament of the organ, which is very beautiful, in the Church of the Carmine.

Meanwhile, the armies of the Emperor and the Pope had advanced to the siege of Florence, and his Holiness sent Baldassarre to the camp to Baccio Valori, the Military Commissary, to the end that Baccio might avail himself of his services for the purposes of his operations and for the capture of the city. But Baldassarre, loving the liberty of his former country more than the favour of the Pope, and in no way fearing the indignation of so great a Pontiff, would never lend his aid in any matter of importance. The Pope, hearing of this, for a short time bore him no little ill-will; but when the war was finished, Baldassarre desiring to return to Rome, Cardinals Salviati, Trivulzi, and Cesarino, to all of whom he had given faithful service in many works, restored him to the favor of the Pope and to his former appointments. He was thus able to return without hindrance to Rome, where, not many days after, he made for the Signori Orsini the designs of two very beautiful palaces, which were built on the way to Viterbo, and of some other edifices for Apuglia. But meanwhile he did not neglect the studies of astrology, nor those of mathematics and the others in which he much delighted, and he began a book on the antiquities of Rome, with a commentary on Vitruvius, making little by little illustrative drawings beside the writings of that author, some of which are still to be seen in the possession of Francesco da Siena, who was his disciple, and among them some papers with drawings of ancient edifices and of the modern manner of building.

While living in Rome, also, he made the design for the house of the Massimi, drawn in an oval form, with a new and beautiful manner of building; and for the faćade he made a vestibule of Doric columns showing great art and good proportion, with a beautiful distribution of detail in the court and in the disposition of the stairs; but he was not able to see this work finished, for he was overtaken by death.

And yet, although the talents and labours of this noble craftsman were so great, they brought much more benefit to others than to himself; for, while he was employed by Popes, Cardinals, and other great and rich persons, not one of them ever gave him any remarkable reward. That this should have happened is not surprising, not so much through want of liberality in such patrons, although for the most part they are least liberal where they should be the very opposite, as through the timidity and excessive modesty, or rather, to be more exact in this case, the lack of shrewdness of Baldassarre. To tell the truth, in proportion as one should be discreet with magnanimous and liberal Princes, so should one always be pressing and importunate with such as are miserly, unthankful, and discourteous, for the reason that, even as in the case of the generous importunate asking would always be a vice, so with the miserly it is a virtue, and with such men it is discretion that would be the vice.

In the last years of his life, then, Baldassarre found himself poor and weighed down by his family. Finally, having always lived a life without reproach, he fell grievously ill, and took to his bed; and Pope Paul III, hearing this, and recognizing too late the harm that he was like to suffer in the loss of so great a man, sent Jacopo Melighi, the accountant of S. Pietro, to give him a present of one hundred crowns, and to make him most friendly offers. However, his sickness increased, either because it was so ordained, or, as many believe, because his death was hastened with poison by some rival who desired his place, from which he drew two hundred and fifty crowns of salary; and, the physicians discovering this too late, he died, very unwilling to give up his life, more on account of his poor family than for his own sake, as he thought in what sore straits he was leaving them. He was much lamented by his children and his friends, and he received honourable burial, next to Raffaello da Urbino, in the Ritonda, whither he was followed by all the painters, sculptors, and architects of Rome, doing him honour and bewailing him; with the following epitaph:

BALTHASARI PERUTIO SENENSI, VIRO ET PICTURA ET ARCHITECTURA ALIISQUE INGENIORUM ARTIBUS ADEO
EXCELLENTI, UT SI PRISCORUM OCCUBUISSET TEMPORIBUS, NOSTRA ILLUM FELICIUS LEGERENT. VIX. ANN. LV,
MENS. XI, DIES XX. LUCRETIA ET JO. SALUSTIUS OPTIMO CONJUGI ET PARENTI, NON SINE LACRIMIS SIMONIS,
HONORII, CLAUDII, ģMILIģ, AC SULPITIģ, MINORUM FILIORUM, DOLENTES POSUERUNT, DIE IIII JANUARII,
MDXXXVI.

The name and fame of Baldassarre became greater after his death than they had been during his lifetime; and then, above all, was his talent missed, when Pope Paul III resolved to have S. Pietro finished, because men recognized how great a help he would have been to Antonio da San Gallo. For, although Antonio had to his credit all that is to be seen executed by him, yet it is believed that in company with Baldassarre he would have done more towards solving some of the difficulties of that work. The heir to many of the possessions of Baldassarre was Sebastiano Serlio of Bologna, who wrote the third book on architecture and the fourth on the antiquities of Rome with their measurements; in which works the above-mentioned labours of Baldassarre were partly inserted in the margins, and partly turned to great advantage by the author. Most of these writings of Baldassarre came into the hands of Jacomo Melighino of Ferrara, who was afterwards chosen by Pope Paul as architect for his buildings, and of the aforesaid Francesco da Siena, his former assistant and disciple, by whose hand is the highly renowned escutcheon of Cardinal Trani in Piazza Navona, with some other works. From this Francesco we received the portrait of Baldassarre, and information about some matters which I was not able to ascertain when this book was published for the first time. Another disciple of Baldassarre was Virgilio Romano, who executed a faćade with some prisoners in sgraffito-work in the centre of the Borgo Nuovo in his native city, and many other beautiful works.

From the same master, also, Antonio del Rozzo, a citizen of Siena and a very excellent engineer, learnt the first principles of architecture; and Baldassarre was followed, in like manner, by Riccio, a painter of Siena, who, however, afterwards imitated to no small extent the manner of Giovanni Antonio Sodoma of Vercelli. And another of his pupils was Giovan Battista Peloro, an architect of Siena, who gave much attention to mathematics and cosmography, and made with his own hand mariner's compasses, quadrants, many irons and instruments for measuring, and likewise the ground-plans of many fortifications, most of which are in the possession of Maestro Giuliano, a goldsmith of Siena, who was very much his friend. This Giovan Battista made for Duke Cosimo de' Medici a plan of Siena, all in relief and altogether marvellous, with the valleys and the surroundings for a mile and a half round--the walls, the streets, the forts, and, in a word, a most beautiful model of the whole place. But, since he was unstable by nature, he left Duke Cosimo, although he had a good allowance from that Prince; and, thinking to do better, he made his way into France, where he followed the Court without any success for a long time, and finally died at Avignon. And although he was an able and well-practised architect, yet in no place are there to be seen any buildings erected by him or after his design, for he always stayed such a short time in any one place, that he could never bring anything to completion; wherefore he consumed all his time with designs, measurements, models, and caprices. Nevertheless, as a follower of our arts, he has deserved to have record made of him.

Baldassarre drew very well in every manner, with great judgment and diligence, but more with the pen, in watercolors, and in chiaroscuro, than in any other way, as may be seen from many drawings by his hand that belong to different craftsmen. Our book, in particular, contains various drawings; and in one of these is a scene full of invention and caprice, showing a piazza filled with arches, colossal figures, theatres, obelisks, pyramids, temples of various kinds, porticoes, and other things, all after the antique, while on a pedestal stands a Mercury, round whom are all sorts of alchemists with bellows large and small, retorts, and other instruments for distilling, hurrying about and giving him a clyster in order to purge his body--an invention as ludicrous as it is beautiful and bizarre.

Friends and intimate companions of Baldassarre, who was always courteous, modest, and gentle with every man, were Domenico Beccafumi of Siena, an excellent painter, and Il Capanna, who, in addition to many other works that he painted in Siena, executed the faćade of the house of the Turchi and another that is on the Piazza.

 

 

 

LIVES OF GIOVAN FRANCESCO PENNI OF FLORENCE [CALLED IL FATTORE]
and of PELLEGRINO DA MODENA
PAINTERS

Vasari's Lives of the Artists



GIOVAN FRANCESCO PENNI, called Il Fattore, a painter of Florence, was no less indebted to Fortune than he was to the goodness of his own nature, in that his ways of life, his inclination for painting, and his other qualities brought it about that Raffaello da Urbino took him into his house and educated him together with Giulio Romano, looking on both of them ever afterwards as his children, and proving at his death how much he thought both of the one and of the other by leaving them heirs to his art and to his property alike. Now Giovan Francesco, who began from his boyhood, when he first entered the house of Raffaello, to be called Il Fattore, and always retained that name, imitated in his drawings the manner of Raffaello, and never ceased to follow it, as may be perceived from some drawings by his hand that are in our book. And it is nothing wonderful that there should be many of these to be seen, all finished with great diligence, because he delighted much more in drawing than in coloring.

The first works of Giovan Francesco were executed by him in the Papal Loggie at Rome, in company with Giovanni da Udine, Perino del Vaga, and other excellent masters; and in these may be seen a marvellous grace, worthy of a master striving at perfection of workmanship. He was very versatile, and he delighted much in making landscapes and buildings. He was a good colourist in oils, in fresco, and in distemper, and made excellent portraits from life; and he was much assisted in every respect by nature, so that he gained great mastery over all the secrets of art without much study. He was a great help to Raffaello, therefore, in painting a large part of the cartoons for the tapestries of the Pope's Chapel and of the Consistory, and particularly the ornamental borders. He also executed many other things from the cartoons and directions of Raffaello, such as the ceiling for Agostino Chigi in the Trastevere, with many pictures, panels, and various other works, in which he acquitted himself so well, that every day he won greater affection from Raffaello. On the Monte Giordano, in Rome, he painted a faćade in chiaroscuro, and in S. Maria de Anima, by the side-door that leads to the Pace, a S. Christopher in fresco, eight braccia high, which is a very good figure; and in this work is a hermit with a lantern in his hand, in a grotto, executed with good draughtsmanship, harmony, and grace.

Giovan Francesco then came to Florence, and painted for Lodovico Capponi at Montughi, a place without the Porta a San Gallo, a shrine with a Madonna, which is much extolled.Raffaello having meanwhile been overtaken by death, Giulio Romano and Giovan Francesco, who had been his disciples, remained together for a long time, and finished in company such of Raffaello's works as had been left unfinished, and in particular those that he had begun in the Vigna of the Pope, and likewise those of the Great Hall in the Palace, wherein are painted by the hands of these two masters the stories of Constantine, with excellent figures, executed in an able and beautiful manner, although the invention and the sketches of these stories came in part from Raffaello. While these works were in progress, Perino del Vaga, a very excellent painter, took to wife a sister of Giovan Francesco; on which account they executed many works in company. And afterwards Giulio and Giovan Francesco, continuing to work together, painted a panel in two parts, containing the Assumption of Our Lady, which went to Monteluci, near Perugia; and also other works and pictures for various places.

Then, receiving a commission from Pope Clement to paint a panel-picture like the one by Raffaello (which is in S. Pietro a Montorio), which was to be sent to France, whither Raffaello had meant to send the first, they began it; but soon afterwards, having fallen out with each other, they divided their inheritance of drawings and everything else left to them by Raffaello, and Giulio went off to Mantua, where he executed an endless number of works for the Marquis. Thither, not long afterwards, Giovan Francesco also made his way, drawn either by love of Giulio or by the hope of finding work; but he received so cold a welcome from Giulio that he soon departed, and, after travelling round Lombardy, he returned to Rome. And from Rome he went to Naples by ship in the train of the Marchese del Vasto, taking with him the now finished copy of the panel-picture of S. Pietro a Montorio, with other works, which he left in Ischia, an island belonging to the Marquis, while the panel was placed where it is at the present day, in the Church of S. Spirito degli Incurabili at Naples. Having thus settled in Naples, where he occupied himself with drawing and painting, Giovan Francesco was entertained and treated with great kindness by Tommaso Cambi, a Florentine merchant, who managed the affairs of that nobleman. But he did not live there long, because, being of a sickly habit of body, he fell ill and died, to the great grief of the noble Marquis and of all who knew him.

He had a brother called Luca, likewise a painter, who worked in Genoa with his brother-in-law Perino, as well as at Lucca and many other places in Italy. In the end he went to England, where, after executing certain works for the King and for some merchants, he finally devoted himself to making designs for copper-plates for sending abroad, which he had engraved by Flemings. Of such he sent abroad a great number, which are known by his name as well as by the manner; and by his hand, among others, is a print wherein are some women in a bath, the original of which, by the hand of Luca himself, is in our book.

A disciple of Giovan Francesco was Leonardo, called Il Pistoia because he came from that city, who executed some works at Lucca, and made many portraits from life in Rome. At Naples, for Diomede Caraffa, Bishop of Ariano, and now a Cardinal, he painted a panel-picture of the Stoning of S. Stephen for his chapel in S. Domenico. And for Monte Oliveto he painted another, which was placed on the high-altar, although it was afterwards removed to make room for a new one, similar in subject, by the hand of Giorgio Vasari of Arezzo. Leonardo earned large sums from these Neapolitan nobles, but he accumulated little, for he squandered it all as it came to his hand; and finally he died in Naples, leaving behind him the reputation of having been a good colorist, but not of having shown much excellence in draughtsmanship.

Giovan Francesco lived forty years, and his works date about 1528.

A friend of Giovan Francesco, and likewise a disciple of Raffaello, was Pellegrino da Modena, who, having acquired in his native city the name of a man of fine genius for painting, and having heard of the marvels of Raffaello da Urbino, determined, in order to justify by means of labour the hopes already conceived of him, to go to Rome. Arriving there, he placed himself under Raffaello, who never refused anything to men of ability. There were then in Rome very many young men who were working at painting and seeking in mutual rivalry to surpass one another in draughtsmanship, in order to win the favour of Raffaello and to gain a name among men; and thus Pellegrino, giving unceasing attention to his studies, became not only a good draughtsman, but also a well-practised master of the whole of his art. And when Leo X commissioned Raffaello to paint the Loggie, Pellegrino also worked there, in company with the other young men; and so well did he succeed, that Raffaello afterwards made use of him in many other things.

He executed three figures in fresco in S. Eustachio at Rome, over an altar near the entrance into the church; and in the Church of the Portuguese, near the Scrofa, he painted in fresco the Chapel of the High-Altar, as well as the altarpiece. Afterwards, Cardinal Alborense having caused a chapel richly adorned with marbles to be erected in S. Jacopo, the Church of the Spanish people, with a S. James of marble by Jacopo Sansovino, four braccia and a half in height, and much extolled, Pellegrino painted there in fresco the stories of that Apostle, giving an air of great sweetness to his figures in imitation of his master Raffaello, and designing the whole composition so well, that the work made him known as an able man with a fine and beautiful genius for painting. This work finished, he made many others in Rome, both by himself and in company with others.

But finally, when death had come upon Raffaello, Pellegrino returned to Modena, where he executed many works; among others, he painted for a Confraternity of Flagellants a panel-picture in oils of S. John baptizing Christ, and another panel for the Church of the Servi, containing S. Cosimo and S. Damiano, with other figures. Afterwards, having taken a wife, he had a son, who was the cause of his death. For this son, having come to words with some companions, young men of Modena, killed one of them; the news of which being carried to Pellegrino, he, in order to help his son from falling into the hands of justice, set out to smuggle him away. But he had not gone far from his house, when he stumbled against the relatives of the dead youth, who were going about searching for the murderer; and they, confronting Pellegrino, who had no time to escape, and full of fury because they had not been able to catch his son, gave him so many wounds that they left him dead on the ground. This event was a great grief to the people of Modena, who knew that by the death of Pellegrino they had been robbed of a spirit truly excellent and rare.

A contemporary of this craftsman was the Milanese Gaudenzio, a resolute, well-practised, and excellent painter, who made many works in fresco at Milan; and in particular, for the Frati della Passione, a most beautiful Last Supper, which remained unfinished by reason of his death. He also painted very well in oils, and there are many highly-esteemed works by his hand at Vercelli and Veralla.

 

 

 

ANDREA DEL SARTO (1486-1531)
Painter of Florence

Vasari's Lives of the Artists






AT LENGTH, after the Lives of many craftsmen who have been excellent, some in coloring, some in drawing, and others in invention, we have come to the most excellent Andrea del Sarto, in whose single person nature and art demonstrated all that painting can achieve by means of draughtsmanship, coloring, and invention, insomuch that, if Andrea had possessed a little more fire and boldness of spirit, to correspond to his profound genius and judgment in his art, without a doubt he would have had no equal. But a certain timidity of spirit and a sort of humility and simplicity in his nature made it impossible that there should be seen in him that glowing ardour and that boldness which, added to his other qualities, would have made him truly divine in painting; for which reason he lacked those adornments and that grandeur and abundance of manners which have been seen n many other painters. His figures, however, for all their simplicity and purity, are well conceived, free from errors, and absolutely perfect in every respect. The expressions of his heads, both in children and in women, are gracious and natural, and those of men, both young and old, admirable in their vivacity and animation; his draperies are beautiful to a marvel, and his nudes very well conceived. And although his drawing is simple, all that he colored is rare and truly divine.

Andrea was born in Florence, in the year 1478, to a father who was all his life a tailor; whence he was always called Andrea del Sarto by everyone. Having come to the age of seven, he was taken away from his reading and writing school and apprenticed to the goldsmith's craft. But in this he was always much more willing to practise his hand in drawing, to which he was drawn by a natural inclination, than in using the tools for working in silver or gold; whence it came to pass that Gian Barile, a painter of Florence, but one of gross and vulgar taste, having seen the boy's good manner of drawing, took him under his protection, and, making him abandon his work as goldsmith, directed him to the art of painting. Andrea, beginning with much delight to practise it, recognized that nature had created him for that profession; and in a very short space of time, therefore, he was doing such things with colors as filled Gian Barile and the other craftsmen in the city with marvel. Now after three years, through continual study, he had acquired an excellent master over his work, and Gian Barile saw that by persisting in his studies the boy was likely to achieve an extraordinary success. Having therefore spoken of him to Piero di Cosimo, who was held at that time to be one of the best painters in Florence, he placed Andrea with Piero. And Andrea, as one full of desire to learn, labored and studied without ceasing; while nature, which had created him to be a painter, so wrought in him, that he handled and managed his colors with as much grace as if he had been working for fifty years. Wherefore Piero conceived an extraordinary love for him, feeling marvellous pleasure in hearing that when Andrea had any time to himself, particularly on feast-days, he would spend the whole day in company with other young men, drawing in the Sala del Papa, wherein were the cartoons of Michelagnolo and Leonardo da Vinci, and that, young as he was, he surpassed all the other draughtsmen, both native and foreign, who were always competing there with one another.

Among these young men, there was one who pleased Andrea more than any other with his nature and conversation, namely, the painter Franciabigio; and Franciabigio, likewise, was attracted by Andrea. Having become friends, therefore, Andrea said to Franciabigio that he could no longer endure the caprices of Piero, who was now old, and that for this reason he wished to take a room for himself. Hearing this, Franciabigio, who was obliged to do the same thing because his master Mariotto Albertinelli had abandoned the art of painting, said to his companion Andrea that he also was in need of a room, and that it would be to the advantage of both of them if they were to join forces. Having therefore taken a room on the Piazza del Grano, they executed many works in company; among others, the curtains that cover the panel pictures on the high altar of the Servi; for which they received the com- mission from a sacristan very closely related to Franciabigio. On one of those curtains, that which faces the choir, they painted the Annunciation of the Virgin ; and on the other, which is in front, a Deposition of Christ from the Cross, like that of the panel picture which was there, painted by Filippo and Pietro Perugino.

The men of that company in Florence which is called the Company of the Scalzo used to assemble at the head of the Via Larga, above the houses of the Magnificent Ottaviano de' Medici, and opposite to the garden of S. Marco, in a building dedicated to S. John the Baptist, which had been built in those days by a number of Florentine craftsmen, who had made there, among other things, an entrance-court of masonry with a loggia which rested on some columns of no great size. And some of them, perceiving that Andrea was on the way to becoming known as an excellent painter, and being richer in spirit than in pocket, determined that he should paint round that cloister twelve pictures in chiaroscuro that is to say, in fresco with terretta containing twelve scenes from the life of S. John the Baptist. Whereupon, setting his hand to this, he painted in the first the scene of S. John baptizing Christ, with much diligence and great excellence of manner, whereby he gained credit, honour, and fame to such an extent, that many persons turned to him with commissions for works, as to one whom they thought to be destined in time to reach that honorable goal which was foreshadowed by his extraordinary beginnings in his profession.

Among other works that he made in that first manner, he painted a picture which is now in the house of Filippo Spini, held in great veneration in memory of so able a craftsman. And not long after this he was commissioned to paint for a chapel in S. Gallo, the Church of the Eremite Observantines of the Order of S. Augustine, without the Porta a S. Gallo, a panel-picture of Christ appearing in the garden to Mary Magdalene in the form of a gardener; which work, what with the coloring and a certain quality of softness and harmony, is sweetness itself, and so well executed, that it led to his painting two others not long afterwards for the same church, as will be related below. This panel is now in S. Jacopo tra Fossi, on the Canto degli Alberti, together with the two others.

After these works, Andrea and Franciabigio, leaving the Piazza del Grano, took new rooms in the Sapienza, near the Convent of the Nunziata; whence it came about that Andrea and Jacopo Sansovino, who was then a young man and was working at sculpture in the same place under his master Andrea Contucci, formed so warm and so strait a friendship together, that neither by day nor by night were they ever separated one from another. Their discussions were for the most part on the difficulties of art, so that it is no marvel that both of them should have afterwards become most excellent, as is now being shown of Andrea and as will be related in the proper place of Jacopo.

There was at this same time in the Convent of the Servi, selling the candles at the counter, a friar called Fra Mariano dal Canto alia Macine, who was also sacristan; and he heard everyone extolling Andrea mightily and saying that he was by way of making marvellous proficience in painting. Whereupon he planned to fulfil a desire of his own without much expense; and so, approaching Andrea, who was a mild and guileless fellow, on the side of his honour, he began to persuade him under the cloak of friendship that he wished to help him in a matter which would bring him honor and profit and would make him known in such a manner, that he would never be poor any more. Now many years before, as has been related above, Alesso Baldovinetti had painted a Nativity of Christ in the first cloister of the Servi, on the wall that has the Annunciation behind it; and in the same cloister, on the other side, Cosimo Rosselli had begun a scene of S. Filippo, the founder of that Servite Order, assuming the habit. But Cosimo had not carried that scene to completion, because death came upon him at the very moment when he was working at it.

The friar, then, being very eager to see the rest finished, thought of serving his own ends by making Andrea and Franciabigio, who, from being friends, had become rivals in art, compete with one another, each doing part of the work. This, besides effecting his purpose very well, would make the expense less and their efforts greater. Thereupon, revealing his mind to Andrea, he persuaded him to undertake that enterprise, by pointing out to him that since it was a public and much frequented place, he would become known on account of such a work no less by foreigners than by the Florentines; that he should not look for any payment in return, or even for an invitation to undertake it, but should rather pray to be allowed to do it; and that if he were not willing to set to work, there was Franciabigio, who, in order to make himself known, had offered to accept it and to leave the matter of payment to him. These incitements did much to make Andrea resolve to undertake the work, and the rather as he was a man of little spirit; and the last reference to Franciabigio induced him to make up his mind completety and to come to an agreement, in the form of a written con- tract, with regard to the whole work, on the terms that no one else should have a hand in it. The friar, then, having thus pledged him and given him money, demanded that he should begin by continuing the life of S. Filippo, without receiving more than ten ducats from him in payment of each scene; and he told Andrea that he was giving him even that out of his own pocket, and was doing it more for the benefit and advantage of the painter than through any want or need of the convent.

Andrea, therefore, pursuing that work with the utmost diligence, like one who thought more of honor than of profit, after no long time completely finished the first three scenes and unveiled them. One was the scene of S. Filippo, now a friar, clothing the naked. In another he is shown rebuking certain gamesters, who blasphemed God and laughed at S. Filippo, mocking at his admonition, when suddenly there comes a lightning-flash from Heaven, which, striking a tree under the shade of which they were sheltering, kills two of them and throws the rest into an incredible panic. Some, with their hands to their heads, cast themselvesforward in dismay; others, crying aloud in their terror, turn to flight; a woman, beside herself with fear at the sound of the thunder, is running away so naturally that she appears to be truly alive; and a horse, breaking loose amid this uproar and confusion, reveals with his leaps and fearsome movements what fear and terror are caused by things so sudden and so unexpected. In all this one can see how carefully Andrea looked to variety of incident in the representation of such events, with a forethought truly beautiful and most necessary for one who practises painting. In the third he painted the scene of S. Filippo delivering a woman from evil spirits, with all the most characteristic considerations that could be imagined in such an action. All these scenes brought extraordinary fame and honor to Andrea; and thus encouraged, he went on to paint two other scenes in the same cloister. On one wall is S. Filippo lying dead, with his friars about him making lamentation; and in addition there is a dead child, who, touching the bier on which S. Filippo lies, comes to life again, so that he is first seen dead, and then revived and restored to life, and all with a very beautiful, natural, and appropriate effect. In the last picture on that side he represented the friars placing the garments of S. Filippo on the heads of certain children ; and there he made a portrait of Andrea della Robbia, the sculptor, in an old man clothed in red, who comes forward, stooping, with a staff in his hand. There, too, he portrayed Luca, his son; even as in the other scene mentioned above, in which S. Filippo lies dead, he made a portrait of another son of Andrea, named Girolamo, a sculptor and very much his friend, who died not long since in France.

Having thus finished that side of the cloister, and considering that if the honor was great, the payment was small, Andrea resolved to give up the rest of the work, however much the friar might complain. But the latter would not release him from his bond without Andrea first promising that he would paint two other scenes, at his own leisure and convenience, however, and with an increase of payment; and thus they came to terms.

Having come into greater repute by reason of these works, Andrea received commissions for many pictures and works of importance; among others, one from the General of the Monks of Vallombrosa, for painting an arch of the vaulting, with a Last Supper on the front wall, in the Refectory of the Monastery of S. Salvi, without the Porta alia Croce. In four medallions on that vault he painted four figures, S. Benedict, S. Giovanni Gualberto, S. Salvi the Bishop, and S. Bernardo degli Uberti of Florence, a friar of that Order and a Cardinal; and in the centre he made a medallion containing three faces, which are one and the same, to represent the Trinity. All this was very well executed for a work in fresco, and Andrea, therefore, came to be valued at his true worth in the art of painting. Whereupon he was commissioned at the instance of Baccio d' Agnolo to paint in fresco, in a close on the steep path of Orsanmichele, which leads to the Mercato Nuovo, the Annunciation still to be seen there, executed on a minute scale, which brought him but little praise; and this may have been because Andrea, who worked well without over-exerting himself or forcing his powers, is believed to have tried in this work to force himself and to paint with too much care.

As for the many pictures that he executed after this for Florence, it would take too long to try to speak of them all; and I will only say that among the most distinguished may be numbered the one that is now in the apartment of Baccio Barbadori, containing a full-length Madonna with a Child in her arms, S. Anne, and S. Joseph, all painted in a beautiful manner and held very dear by Baccio. He made one, likewise well worthy of praise, which is now in the possession of Lorenzo di Domenico Borghini, and another of Our Lady for Leonardo del Giocondo, which at the present day is in the hands of Piero, the son of Leonardo. For Carlo Ginori he painted two of no great size, which were bought afterwards by the Magnificent Ottaviano de' Medici ; and one of these is now in his most beautiful villa of Campi, while the other, together with many other modern pictures executed by the most excellent masters, is in the apartment of the worthy son of so great a father, Signer Bernardetto, who not only esteems and honours the works of famous craftsmen, but is also in his every action a truly generous and magnificent nobleman.

Meanwhile the Servite friar had allotted to Franciabigio one of the scenes in the above-mentioned cloister; but that master had not yet finished making the screen, when Andrea, becoming apprehensive, since it seemed to him that Franciabigio was an abler and more dexterous master than himself in the handling of colors in fresco, executed, as it were out of rivalry, the cartoons for his two scenes, which he intended to paint on the angle between the side door of S. Bastiano and the smaller door that leads from the cloister into the Nunziata. Having made the cartoons, he set to work in fresco; and in the first scene he painted the Nativity of Our Lady, a composition of figures beautifully proportioned and grouped with great grace in a room, wherein some women who are friends and relatives of the newly delivered mother, having come to visit her, are standing about her, all clothed in such garments as were customary at that time, and other women of lower degree, gathered around the fire, are washing the new born babe, while others are preparing the swathing bands and doing other similar services. Among them is a little boy, full of life, who is warming himself at the fire, with an old man resting in a very natural attitude on a couch, and likewise some women carrying food to the mother who is in bed, with movements truly lifelike and appropriate. And all these figures, together with some little boys who are hovering in the air and scattering flowers, are most carefully considered in their expressions, their draperies, and every other respect, and so soft in color, that the figures appear to be of flesh and everything else rather real than painted.

In the other scene Andrea painted the three Magi from the East, who, guided by the Star, went to adore the Infant Jesus Christ. He represented them dismounted, as though they were near their destination; and that because there was only the space embracing the two doors to separate them from the Nativity of Christ which may be seen there, by the hand of Alesso Baldovinetti. In this scene Andrea painted the Court of those three Kings coming behind them, with baggage, much equipment, and many people following in their train, among whom, in a corner, are three persons portrayed from life and wearing the Florentine dress, one being Jacopo Sansovino, a full-length figure looking straight at the spectator, while another, with an arm in foreshortening, who is leaning against him and making a sign, is Andrea, the master of the work, and a third head, seen in profile behind Jacopo, is that of Ajolle, the musician. There are, in addition, some little boys who are climbing on the walls, in order to be able to see the magnificent procession and the fantastic animals that those three Kings have brought with them. This scene is quite equal in excellence to that mentioned above; nay, in both the one and the other he surpassed himself, not to speak of Franciabigio, who also finished his.

At this same time Andrea painted for the Abbey of S. Godenzo, a benefice belonging to the same friars, a panel which was held to be very well executed. And for the Friars of S. Gallo he made a panel picture of Our Lady receiving the Annunciation from the Angel, wherein may be seen a very pleasing harmony of coloring, while the heads of some Angels accompanying Gabriel show a sweet gradation of tints and a perfectly executed beauty of expression in their features; and the predella below this picture was painted by Jacopo da Pontormo, who was a disciple of Andrea at that time, and gave proofs at that early age that he was destined to produce afterwards those beautiful works which he actually did execute in Florence with his own hand, although in the end he became one might say another painter, as will be related in his Life.

 

 

 

Properzia de'Rossi (ca. 1490-1530)

Vasari's Lives of the Artists




IT IS an extraordinary thing that in all those arts and all those exercises wherein at any time women have thought fit to play a part in real earnest, they have always become most excellent and famous in no common way, as one might easily demonstrate by an endless number of examples. Everyone, indeed, knows what they are all, without exception, worth in household matters; besides which, in connection with war, likewise, it is known who were Camilla, Harpalice, Valasca, Tomyris, Penthesilea, Molpadia, Orizia, Antiope, Hippolyta, Semiramis, Zenobia, and, finally, Mark Antony's Fulvia, who so often took up arms, as the historian Dion tells us, to defend her husband and herself. But in poetry, also, they have been truly marvelous, as Pausanias relates. Corinna was very celebrated as a writer of verse, and Eustathius makes mention in his "Catalogue of the Ships of Homer "--as does Eusebius in his book of "Chronicles "--of Sappho, a young woman of great renown, who, in truth, although she was a woman, was yet such that she surpassed by a great measure all the eminent writers of that age.

And Varro, on his part, gives extraordinary but well-deserved praise to Erinna, who, with her three hundred verses, challenged the fame of the brightest light of Greece, and counterbalanced with her one small volume, called the "Elecate," the ponderous "Iliad" of the great Homer. Aristophanes celebrates Carissena, a votary of the same profession, as a woman of great excellence and learning; and the same may be said for Teano, Merone, Polla, Elpe, Cornificia, and Telesilla, to the last of whom, in honor of her marvelous talents, a most beautiful statue was set up in the Temple of Venus.

Passing by the numberless other writers of verse, do we not read that Arete was the teacher of the learned Aristippus in the difficulties of philosophy, and that Lastheneia and Assiotea were disciples of the divine Plato? In the art of oratory, Sempronia and Hortensia, women of Rome, were very famous. In grammar, so Athenaeus relates, Agallis was without an equal. And as for the prediction of the future, whether we class this with astrology or with magic, it is enough to say that Themis, Cassandra, and Manto had an extraordinary renown in their times; as did Isis and Ceres in matters of agriculture, and the Thespiades in the whole field of the sciences.

But in no other age, for certain, has it been possible to see this better than in our own , wherein women have won the highest fame not only in the study of letters--as has been done by Signora Vittoria del Vasto, Signora Veronica Gambara, Signora Caterina Anguisciuola, Schioppa, Nugarola, Madonna Laura Battiferri, and a hundred others, all most learned as well in the vulgar tongue as in the Latin and the Greek-- but also in every other faculty. Nor have they been too proud to set themselves with their little hands, so tender and so white, as if to wrest from us the palm of supremacy, to manual labors, braving the roughness of marble and the unkindly chisels, in order to attain to their desire and thereby win fame; as did, in our own day, Properzia de' Rossi of Bologna, a young woman excellent not only in household matters, like the rest of them, but also in sciences without number, so that all the men, to say nothing of the women, were envious of her.

This Properzia was very beautiful in person, and played and sang in her day better than any other woman of her city. And because she had an intellect both capricious and very ready, she set herself to carve peach-stones, which she executed so well and with such patience, that they were singular and marvelous to behold, not only for the subtlety of the work, but also for the grace of the little figures that she made in them and the delicacy with which they were distributed. And it was certainly a miracle to see on so small a thing as a peach-stone the whole Passion of Christ, wrought in most beautiful carving, with a vast number of figures in addition to the Apostles and the ministers of the Crucifixion. This encouraged her, since there were decorations to be made for the three doors of the first facade of S. Petronio all in figures of marble, to ask the Wardens of Works, by means of her husband, for a part of that work; at which they were quite content, on the condition that she should let them see some work in marble executed by her own hand. Whereupon upon she straightway made for Count Alessandro de' Peppoli a portrait from life in the finest marble, representing his father, Count Guido, which gave infinite pleasure not only to them, but also to the whole city; and the Wardens of Works, therefore, did not fail to allot a part of the work to her.

In this, to the vast delight of all Bologna, she made an exquisite scene, wherein--because at that time the poor woman was madly enamored of a handsome young man, who seemed to care but little for her--she represented the wife of Pharaoh's Chamberlain, who, burning with love for Joseph, and almost in despair after so much persuasion, finally strips his garment from him with a womanly grace that defies description. This work was esteemed by all to be most beautiful, and it was a great satisfaction to herself, thinking that with this illustration from the Old Testament she had partly quenched the raging fire of her own passion. Nor would she ever do any more work in connection with that building, although there was no person who did not beseech her that she should go on with it, save only Maestro Amico, who out of envy always dissuaded her and went so far with his malignity, ever speaking ill of her to the Wardens, that she was paid a most beggarly price for her work.

She also made two angels in very strong relief and beautiful proportions, which may now be seen, although against her wish , in the same building. In the end she devoted herself to copper-plate engraving, which she did without reproach, gaining the highest praise. And so the poor love-stricken young woman came to succeed most perfectly in everything, save in her unhappy passion.

The fame of an intellect so noble and so exalted spread throughout all Italy, and finally came to the ears of Pope Clement VII, who, immediately after he had crowned the Emperor in Bologna, made inquiries after her; but he found that the poor woman had died that very week, and had been buried in the Della Morte Hospital, as she had directed in her last testament. At which the Pope, who was eager to see her, felt much sorrow at her death; but more bitter even was it for her fellow-citizens, who regarded her during her lifetime as one of the greatest miracles produced by nature in our days.

In our book are some very good drawings by the hand of this Properzia, done with the pen and copied from the works of Raffaello da Urbino; and her portrait was given to me by certain painters who were very much her friends. But, although Properzia drew very well, there have not been wanting women not only to equal her in drawing, but also to do as good work in painting as she did in sculpture. Of these the first is Sister Plautilla, a nun and now Prioress in the Convent of Santa Caterina da Siena, on the Piazza di San Marco in Florence. She, beginning little by little to draw and to imitate in colors pictures and paintings by excellent masters, has executed some works with such diligence, that she has caused the craftsmen to marvel. By her hand are two panels in the Church of that Convent of Santa Caterina, of which the one with the Magi adoring Jesus is much extolled. In the choir of the Convent of Santa Lucia, at Pistoia, there is a large panel, containing Our Lady with the Child in her arms, St. Thomas, St. Augustine, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Agnes, St. Catherine the Martyr, and St. Lucia; and another large panel by the same hand was sent abroad by the Director of the Hospital of Lelmo. In the refectory of the aforesaid Convent of Santa Caterina there is a great Last Supper, with a panel in the workroom, both by the hand of the same nun.

And in the houses of gentlemen throughout Florence there are so many pictures, that it would be tedious to attempt to speak of them all. A large picture of the Annunciation belongs to the wife of the Spaniard, Signor Mondragone, and Madonna Marietta de' Fedini has another like it. There is a little picture of Our Lady in San Giovannino, at Florence; and an altar-predella in Santa Maria del Fiore, containing very beautiful scenes from the life of San Zanobi. And because this venerable and talented sister, before executing panels and works of importance, gave attention to painting in miniature, there are in the possession of various people many wonderfully beautiful little pictures by her hand, of which there is no need to make mention. The best works from her hand are those that she has copied from others, wherein she shows that she would have done marvelous things if she had enjoyed, as men do, advantages for studying, devoting herself to drawing, and copying living and natural objects. And that this is true is seen clearly from a picture of the Nativity of Christ, copied from one which Bronzino once painted for Filippo Salviati. In like manner the truth of such an opinion is proved by this, that in her works the faces and features of women, whom she has been able to see as much as she pleased, are no little better than the heads of the men, and much nearer to the reality. In the faces of women in some of her works she has portrayed Madonna Costanza de' Doni, who has been in our time an unexampled pattern of beauty and dignity; painting her so well, that it is impossible to expect more from a woman who, for the reasons mentioned above, has had no great practice in her art.

With much credit to herself, likewise, has Madonna Lucrezia, the daughter of Messer Alfonso Quistelli della Mirandola, and now the wife of Count Clemente Pietra, occupied herself with drawing and painting, as she still does, after having been taught by Alessandro Allori, the pupil of Bronzino; as may be seen from many pictures and portraits executed by her hand, which are worthy to be praised by all. But Sofonisba of Cremona , the daughter of Messer Amilcaro Anguisciuola, has labored at the difficulties of design with greater study and better grace than any other woman of our time, and she has not only succeeded in drawing, coloring, and copying from nature, and in making excellent copies of works by other hands, but has also executed by herself alone some very choice and beautiful works of painting. Wherefore she well deserved that King Philip of Spain, having heard of her merits and abilities from the Lord Duke of Alba, should have sent for her and caused her to be escorted in great honor to Spain, where he keeps her with a rich allowance about the person of the Queen, to the admiration of all that Court, which reveres the excellence of Sofonisba as a miracle. And it is no long time since Messer Tommaso Cavalieri, a Roman gentle man, sent to the Lord Duke Cosimo (in addition to a drawing by the hand of the divine Michelangelo, wherein is a Cleopatra) another drawing by the hand of Sofonisba, containing a little girl laughing at a boy who is weeping because one of the crayfish out of a basket full of them, which she has placed in front of him, is biting his finger; and there is nothing more graceful to be seen than that drawing, or more true to nature. Wherefore, in memory of the talent of Sofonisba, who lives in Spain, so that Italy has no abundance of her works, I have placed it in my book of drawings. We may truly say, then, with the divine Ariosto, that-- "Le donne son venute in eccellenza / Di ciascun' arte ov' hanno posto cura."

And let this be the end of the Life of Properzia, sculptor of Bologna.

 

 

 

LIVES OF ALFONSO LOMBARDI OF FERRARA, MICHELAGNOLO DA SIENA, and GIROLAMO SANTA CROCE OF NAPLES
and DOSSO AND BATTISTA DOSSI

SCULPTORS AND PAINTERS OF FERRARA

Vasari's Lives of the Artists



ALFONSO OF FERRARA, working in his early youth with stucco and wax, made an endless number of portraits from life on little medallions for many nobles and gentlemen of his own country. Some of these are still to be seen, white in color and made of wax or stucco, and bear witness to the fine intellect and judgment that he possessed; such as those of Prince Doria, of Duke Alfonso of Ferrara, of Clement VII, of the Emperor Charles V, of Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici, of Bembo, of Ariosto, and of other suchlike personages. Finding himself in Bologna at the coronation of Charles V, he executed the decorations of the door of S. Petronio as a part of the preparations for that festival; and he had come into such repute through being the first to introduce the good method of making portraits from life in the form of medals, as has been related, that there was not a single man of distinction in those Courts for whom he did not execute some work, to his own great profit and honour. But, not being content with the gain and the glory that came to him from making works in clay, in wax, and in stucco, he set himself to work in marble; and such was the proficience that he showed in some things that he made, although these were of little importance, that he was commissioned to execute the tomb of Ramazzotto, which brought him very great fame and honor, in S. Michele in Bosco, without Bologna.

After that work he made some little scenes of marble in half-relief on the predella of the altar at the tomb of S. Dominic, in the same city. And for the door of S. Petronio, also, on the left hand of the entrance into the church, he executed some little scenes in marble, containing a very beautiful Resurrection of Christ. But what pleased the people of Bologna most of all was the Death of Our Lady, wrought with a very hard mixture of clay and stucco, with figures in full relief, in an upper room of the Della Vita Hospital; and marvellous, among other things in that work, is the Jew who leaves his hands fixed to the bier of the Madonna. With the same mixture, also, he made a large Hercules with the dead Hydra under his feet, for the upper room of the Governor in the Palazzo Pubblico of that city; which statue was executed in competition with Zaccaria da Volterra, who was greatly surpassed by the ability and excellence of Alfonso. For the Madonna del Baracane the same master made two Angels in stucco, who are upholding a canopy in half-relief; and in some medallions in the middle aisle of S. Giuseppe, between one arch and another, he made the twelve Apostles from the waist upwards, of terra-cotta and in full-relief. In terracotta, likewise, for the corners of the vaulting of the Madonna del Popolo in the same city, he executed four figures larger than life; namely, S. Petronio, S. Procolo, S. Francis, and S. Dominic, figures which are all very beautiful and grand in manner. And by the hand of the same man are some works in stucco at Castel Bolognese, and some others in the Company of S. Giovanni at Cesena.

Let no one marvel that hitherto our account of this master has dealt with scarcely any work save in clay, wax, and stucco, and very little in marble, because--besides the fact that Alfonso was always inclined to that sort of work--after passing a certain age, being very handsome in person and youthful in appearance, he practised art more for pleasure and to satisfy his own vanity than with any desire to set himself to chisel stone. He used always to wear on his arms, on his neck, and in his clothing, ornaments of gold and suchlike fripperies, which showed him to be rather a courtier, vain and wanton, than a craftsman desirous of glory. Of a truth, just as such ornaments enhance the splendour of those to whom, on account of their wealth, high estate, and noble blood, they are becoming, so are they worthy of reproach in craftsmen and others, who should not measure themselves, some for one reason and some for another, with the rich, seeing that such persons, in place of being praised, are held in less esteem by men of judgment, and often laughed to scorn. Now Alfonso, charmed with himself and indulging in expressions and wanton excesses little worthy of a good craftsman, on one occasion robbed himself through this behavior of all the glory that he had won by labouring at his profession. For one evening, chancing to be at a wedding in the house of a Count in Bologna, and having made love for some time to a lady of quality, he had the luck to be invited by her to dance the torch-dance; whereupon, whirling round with her, and overcome by the frenzy of his passion, he said with a trembling voice, sighing deeply, and gazing at his lady with eyes full of tenderness: "S'amor non e', che dunque e' quel ch' io sento?"["What is it that I feel, if it is not love?"] Hearing this, the lady, who had a shrewd wit, answered, in order to show him his error: "A louse, perhaps." Which answer was heard by many, so that the saying ran through all Bologna, and he was held to scorn ever afterwards. Truly, if Alfonso had given his attention not to the vanities of the world, but to the labors of art, without a doubt he would have produced marvellous works; for if he achieved this in part without exerting himself much, what would he have done if he had faced the dust and heat?

The aforesaid Emperor Charles V being in Bologna, and the most excellent Tiziano da Cadore having come to make a portrait of his Majesty, Alfonso likewise was seized with a desire to execute a portrait of that Sovereign. And having no other means of contriving to do that, he besought Tiziano, without revealing to him what he had in mind, that he should do him the favour of introducing him, in the place of one of those who used to carry his colours, into the presence of his Majesty. Wherefore Tiziano, who loved him much, like the truly courteous man that he has always been, took Alfonso with him into the apartments of the Emperor. Alfonso, as soon as Tiziano had settled down to work, took up a position behind him, in such a way that he could not be seen by the other, who was wholly intent on his portrait; and, taking up a little box in the shape of a medallion, he made therein a portrait of the Emperor in stucco, and had it finished at the very moment when Tiziano had likewise brought his picture to completion.

The Emperor then rising, Alfonso closed the box and had already hidden it in his sleeve, to the end that Tiziano might not see it, when his Majesty said to him: "Show me what you have done." He was thus forced to give his portrait humbly into the hand of the Emperor, who, having examined it and praised it highly, said to him: "Would you have the courage to do it in marble?" "Yes, your sacred Majesty," answered Alfonso. "Do it, then," added the Emperor, "and bring it to me in Genoa." How unusual this proceeding must have seemed to Tiziano every man may imagine for himself. For my part, I believe that it must have appeared to him that he had compromised his credit. But what must have seemed to him most strange was this, that when his Majesty sent a present of a thousand crowns to Tiziano, he bade him give the half, or five hundred crowns, to Alfonso, keeping the other five hundred for himself, at which it is likely enough that Tiziano felt aggrieved. Alfonso, then, setting to work with the greatest zeal in his power, brought the marble head to completion with such diligence, that it was pronounced to be a very fine thing: which was the reason that, when he had taken it to the Emperor, his Majesty ordered that three hundred crowns more should be given to him.

Alfonso having come into great repute through the gifts and praises bestowed on him by the Emperor, Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici took him to Rome, where he kept many sculptors and painters about his person, in addition to a vast number of other men of ability; and he commissioned him to make a copy in marble of a very famous antique head of the Emperor Vitellius. In that work Alfonso justified the opinion held of him by the Cardinal and by all Rome, and he was charged by the same patron to make a portrait-bust in marble of Pope Clement VII, after the life, and shortly afterwards one of Giuliano de' Medici, father of the Cardinal; but the latter was left not quite finished. These heads were afterwards sold in Rome, and bought by me at the request of the Magnificent Ottaviano de' Medici, together with some pictures; and in our own day they have been placed by the Lord Duke Cosimo de' Medici in that hall of the new apartments of his palace wherein I have painted, on the ceiling and the walls, all the stories of Pope Leo X; they have been placed, I say, in that hall, over the doors made of that red veined marble which is found near Florence, in company with the heads of other illustrious men of the house of Medici.

But returning to Alfonso; he then went on to execute many works in sculpture for the same Cardinal, but these, being small things, have disappeared. After the death of Clement, when a tomb had to be made for him and also for Leo, the work was allotted by Cardinal de' Medici to Alfonso; whereupon he made a model with figures of wax, which was held to be very beautiful, after some sketches by Michelagnolo Buonarroti, and went off to Carrara with money to have the marble quarried. But not long afterwards the Cardinal, having departed from Rome on his way to Africa, died at Itri, and the work slipped out of the hands of Alfonso, because he was dismissed by its executors, Cardinals Salviati, Ridolfi, Pucci, Cibo, and Gaddi, and it was entrusted by the favor of Madonna Lucrezia Salviati, daughter of the great Lorenzo de' Medici, the elder, and sister of Leo, to Baccio Bandinelli, a sculptor of Florence, who had made models for it during the lifetime of Clement.

For this reason Alfonso, thus knocked off his high horse and almost beside himself, determined to return to Bologna; and, having arrived in Florence, he presented to Duke Alessandro a most beautiful head in marble of the Emperor Charles V, which is now in Carrara, whither it was sent by Cardinal Cibo, who removed it after the death of Duke Alessandro from the guardaroba of that Prince. The Duke, when Alfonso arrived in Florence, was in the humor to have his portrait taken; for it had already been done on medals by Domenico di Polo, a gem-engraver, and by Francesco di Girolamo dal Prato, for the coinage by Benvenuto Cellini, and in painting by Giorgio Vasari of Arezzo and Jacopo da Pontormo, and he wished that Alfonso should likewise portray him. Wherefore he made a very beautiful portrait of him in relief, much better than the one executed by Danese da Carrara, and then, since he was wholly set on going to Bologna, he was given the means to make one there in marble, after the model. And so, having received many gifts and favours from Duke Alessandro, Alfonso returned to Bologna, where, being still far from content on account of the death of the Cardinal, and sorely vexed by the loss of the tombs, there came upon him a pestilent and incurable disease of the skin, which wasted him away little by little, until, having reached the age of forty-nine, he passed to a better life, never ceasing to rail at Fortune, which had robbed him of a patron to whom he might have looked for all the blessings which could make him happy in this life, and saying that she should have closed his own eyes, since she had reduced him to such misery, rather than those of Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici. Alfonso died in the year 1536.

Michelagnolo, a sculptor of Siena, after he had spent the best years of his life in Sclavonia with other excellent sculptors, made his way to Rome on the following occasion. After the death of Pope Adrian, Cardinal Hincfort, who had been the friend and favourite of that Pontiff, determined, as one not ungrateful for the benefits received from him, to erect to him a tomb of marble; and he gave the charge of this to Baldassarre Peruzzi, the painter of Siena. And that master, having made the model, desired that the sculptor Michelagnolo, his friend and compatriot, should undertake the work on his own account. Michelagnolo, therefore, made on that tomb a lifesize figure of Pope Adrian, lying upon the sarcophagus and portrayed from nature, with a scene, also in marble, below him, showing his arrival in Rome and the Roman people going to meet him and to do him homage. Around the tomb, moreover, in four niches, are four Virtues in marble, Justice, Fortitude, Peace, and Prudence, all executed with much diligence by the hand of Michelagnolo after the counsel of Baldassarre. It is true, indeed, that some of the things that are in this work were wrought by the Florentine sculptor, Tribolo, then a very young man, and these were considered the best of all; but Michelagnolo executed the minor details of the work with supreme diligence and subtlety, and the little figures that are in it deserve to be extolled more than all the rest. Among other things, there are some variegated marbles wrought with a high finish, and put together so well that nothing more could be desired. For these labours Michelagnolo received a just and honourable reward from the aforesaid Cardinal, and was treated with much favor by him for the rest of his life; and, in truth, with right good reason, seeing that this tomb and the Cardinal's gratitude have done as much to bring fame to him as did the work to give a name to Michelagnolo in his lifetime and renown after his death. This work finished, no long time elapsed before Michelagnolo passed from this life to the next, at about the age of fifty.

Girolamo Santa Croce of Naples, although he was snatched from us by death in the very prime of life, at a time when greater things were looked for from him, yet showed in the works of sculpture that he made at Naples during his few years, what he would have done if he had lived longer; for the works that he executed in sculpture at Naples were wrought and finished with all the lovingness that could be desired in a young man who wishes to surpass by a great measure those who for many years before his day have held the sovereignty in some noble profession. In S. Giovanni Carbonaro at Naples he built the Chapel of the Marchese di Vico, which is a round temple, partitioned by columns and niches, with some tombs carved with much diligence. And because the altarpiece of this chapel, made of marble in half-relief and representing the Magi bringing their offerings to Christ, is by the hand of a Spaniard, Girolamo executed in emulation of this work a S. John in a niche, so beautifully wrought in full-relief, that it showed that he was not inferior to the Spaniard either in courage or in judgment; on which account he won such a name, that, although Giovanni da Nola was held in Naples to be a marvellous sculptor and better than any other, nevertheless Girolamo worked in competition with him as long as he lived, notwithstanding that his rival was now old and had executed a vast number of works in that city, where it is much the custom to make chapels and altar-pieces of marble. Competing with Giovanni, then, Girolamo undertook to execute a chapel in Monte Oliveto at Naples, just within the door of the church, on the left hand, while Giovanni executed another opposite to his, on the other side, in the same style. In his chapel Girolamo made a lifesize Madonna in the round, which is held to be a very beautiful figure; and since he took infinite pains in executing the draperies and the hands, and in giving bold relief to the marble by undercutting, he brought it to such perfection that it was the general opinion that he had surpassed all those who had handled tools for working marble at Naples in his time. This Madonna he placed between a S. John and a S. Peter, figures very well conceived and executed, and finished in a beautiful manner, as are also some children which are placed above them.

In addition to these, he made two large and most beautiful statues in full-relief for the Church of Capella, a seat of the Monks of Monte Oliveto. He then began a statue of the Emperor Charles V, at the time of his return from Tunis; but after he had blocked it and carved it with the pointed chisel, and even in some places with the broad-toothed chisel, it remained unfinished, because fortune and death, envying the world such excellence, snatched him from us at the age of thirty-five. It was confidently expected that Girolamo, if he had lived, even as he had outstripped all his compatriots in his profession, would also have surpassed all the craftsmen of his time. Wherefore his death was a grievous blow to the Neapolitans, and all the more because he had been endowed by nature not only with a most beautiful genius, but also with as much modesty, sweetness, and gentleness as could be looked for in mortal man; so that it is no marvel if all those who knew him are not able to restrain their tears when they speak of him. His last sculptures were executed in 1537, in which year he was buried at Naples with most honorable obsequies.

Old as he was, Giovanni da Nola, who was a well-practised sculptor, as may be seen from many works made by him at Naples with good skill of hand, but not with much design, still remained alive. Him Don Pedro di Toledo, Marquis of Villafranca, and at that time Viceroy of Naples, commissioned to execute a tomb of marble for himself and his wife; and therein Giovanni made a great number of scenes of the victories obtained by that lord over the Turks, with many statues for the same work, which stands quite by itself, and was executed with much diligence. This tomb was to have been taken to Spain; but, since that nobleman did not do this while he was alive, it remained in Naples. Giovanni died at the age of seventy, and was buried in Naples, in the year 1558.

About the same time that Heaven presented to Ferrara, or rather, to the world, the divine Lodovico Ariosto, there was born in the same city the painter Dosso, who, although he was not as rare among painters as Ariosto among poets, nevertheless acquitted himself in his art in such a manner, that, besides the great esteem wherein his works were held in Ferrara, his merits caused the learned poet, his intimate friend, to honor his memory by mentioning him in his most celebrated writings; so that the pen of Messer Lodovico has given more renown to the name of Dosso than did all the brushes and colors that he used in the whole of his life. Wherefore I, for my part, declare that there could be no greater good fortune than that of those who are celebrated by such great men, since the might of the pen forces most of mankind to accept their fame, even though they may not wholly deserve it.

Dosso was much beloved by Duke Alfonso of Ferrara: first for his good abilities in the art of painting, and then because he was a very pleasant and amiable person--a manner of man in whom the Duke greatly delighted. Dosso had the reputation in Lombardy of executing landscapes better than any other painter engaged in that branch of the profession, whether in mural painting, in oils, or in gouache; and all the more after the German manner became known. In Ferrara, for the Cathedral Church, he executed a panel-picture with figures in oils, which was held to be passing beautiful; and in the Duke's Palace he painted many rooms, in company with a brother of his, called Battista. These two were always enemies, one against the other, although they worked together by the wish of the Duke. In the court of the said palace they executed stories of Hercules in chiaroscuro, with an endless number of nudes on those walls; and in like manner they painted many works on panel and in fresco throughout all Ferrara. By their hands is a panel in the Duomo of Modena; and they painted many things in the Cardinal's Palace at Trento, in company with other painters.

At this same time the painter and architect, Girolamo Genga, was executing various decorations in the Imperiale Palace, above Pesaro, as will be related in the proper place, for Duke Francesco Maria of Urbino; and among the number of painters who were summoned to that work by order of the same Signor Francesco Maria, invitations were sent to Dosso and Battista of Ferrara, principally for the painting of landscapes; many paintings having been executed long before in that palace by Francesco di Mirozzo[This seems to be an error for Melozzo.] of Forl“, Raffaello dal Colle of Borgo a San Sepolcro, and many others. Now, having arrived at the Imperiale, Dosso and Battista, according to the custom of men of their kidney, found fault with most of the paintings that they saw, and promised the Duke that they would do much better work; and Genga, who was a shrewd person, seeing how the matter was likely to end, gave them an apartment to paint by themselves. Thereupon, setting to work, they strove with all labor and diligence to display their worth; but, whatever may have been the reason, never in all the course of their lives did they do any work less worthy of praise, or rather, worse, than that one. It seems often to happen, indeed, that in their greatest emergencies, when most is expected of them, men become blinded and bewildered in judgment, and do worse work than at any other time; which may result, perchance, from their own malign and evil disposition to be always finding fault with the works of others, or from their seeking to force their genius overmuch, seeing that to proceed step by step according to the ruling of nature, yet without neglecting diligence and study, appears to be a better method than seeking to wrest from the brain, as it were by force, things that are not there; and it is a fact that in the other arts as well, but above all in that of writing, lack of spontaneity is only too easily recognized, and also, so to speak, over-elaboration in everything.

Now, when the work of the Dossi was unveiled, it proved to be so ridiculous that they left the service of the Duke in disgrace; and he was forced to throw to the ground all that they had executed, and to have it repainted by others after the designs of Genga.

Finally, they painted a very beautiful panel picture in the Duomo of Faenza for the Chevalier, M. Giovan Battista de' Buosi, of Christ disputing in the Temple; in which work they surpassed themselves, by reason of the new manner that they used, and particularly in the portraits of that Chevalier and of others. That picture was set up in that place in the year 1536. Ultimately Dosso, having grown old, spent his last years without working, being pensioned until the close of his life by Duke Alfonso. And in the end Battista survived him, executing many works by himself, and maintaining himself in a good condition. Dosso was buried in his native city of Ferrara. There lived in the same times the Milanese Bernazzano, a very excellent painter of landscapes, herbage, animals, and other things of earth, air, and water. And since, as one who knew himself to have little aptitude for figures, he did not give much attention to them, he associated himself with Cesare da Sesto, who painted them very well and in a beautiful manner. It is said that Bernazzano executed in a courtyard some very beautiful landscapes in fresco, in which he painted a strawberry bed full of strawberries, ripe, green, and in blossom, and so well imitated, that some peacocks, deceived by their natural appearance, were so persistent in picking at them as to make holes in the plaster.

 

 

 

LIVES OF GIOVANNI ANTONIO LICINIO OF PORDENONE, AND OF OTHER PAINTERS OF FRIULI

Vasari's Lives of the Artists



IT WOULD SEEM, as has been remarked already in the same connection, that Nature, the kindly mother of the universe, sometimes presents the rarest things to certain places that never had any knowledge of such gifts, and that at times she creates in some country men so much inclined to design and to painting, that, without masters, but only by imitating living and natural objects, they become most excellent. And it also happens very often that when one man has begun, many set themselves to work in competition with him, and labour to such purpose, without seeing Rome, Florence, or any other place full of notable pictures, but merely through rivalry one with another, that marvellous works are seen to issue from their hands. All this may be seen to have happened more particularly in Friuli, where, in our own day, in consequence of such a beginning, there has been a vast number of excellent painters--a thing which had not occurred in those parts for many centuries.

While Giovanni Bellini was working in Venice and teaching his art to many, as has been related, he had two disciples who were rivals one with another--Pellegrino da Udine, who, as will be told, was afterwards called Da San Daniele, and Giovanni Martini of Udine. Let us begin, then, by speaking of Giovanni. He always imitated the manner of Bellini, which was somewhat crude, hard, and dry; nor was he ever able to give it sweetness or softness, although he was a diligent and finished painter. This may have happened because he was always making trial of certain reflections, half-lights, and shadows, with which, cutting the relief in the middle, he contrived to define light and shade very abruptly, in such a way that the colouring of all his works was always crude and unpleasant, although he strove laboriously with his art to imitate Nature. By the hand of this master are numerous works in many places in Friuli, particularly in the city of Udine, in the Duomo of which there is a panel-picture executed in oils, of S. Mark seated with many figures round him, which is held to be the best of all that he ever painted. There is another on the altar of S. Ursula in the Church of the Friars of S. Pietro Martire, wherein the first-mentioned Saint is standing with some of her virgins round her, all painted with much grace and beautiful expressions of countenance. This Giovanni, besides being a passing good painter, was endowed by Nature with beauty and grace of features and an excellent character, and, what is most desirable, with such foresight and power of management, that, after his death, in default of heirs male, he left an inheritance of much property to his wife. And she, being, so I have heard, a lady as shrewd as she was beautiful, knew so well how to manage her life after the death of her husband, that she married two very beautiful daughters into the richest and most noble houses of Udine.

Pellegrino da San Daniele, who was a rival of Giovanni, as has been related, and a man of greater excellence in painting, received at baptism the name of Martino. But Giovanni Bellini, judging that he was destined to become, as he afterwards did, a truly rare master of art, changed his name from Martino to Pellegrino.[I.e., singular or rare.] And even as his name was changed, so he may be said by chance to have changed his country, since, living by preference at San Daniele, a township ten miles distant from Udine, and spending most of his time in that place, where he had taken a wife, he was called ever afterwards not Martino da Udine, but Pellegrino da San Daniele. He painted many pictures in Udine, and some may still be seen on the doors of the old organ, on the outer side of which is painted a sunken arch in perspective, containing a S. Peter seated among a multitude of figures and handing a pastoral staff to S. Ermacora the Bishop. On the inner side of the same doors, likewise, in some niches, he painted the four Doctors of the Church in the act of studying. For the Chapel of S. Giuseppe he executed a panel picture in oils, drawn and coloured with much diligence, in the middle of which is S. Joseph standing in a beautiful attitude, with an air of dignity, and beside him is Our Lord as a little Child, while S. John the Baptist is below in the garb of a little shepherd boy, gazing intently on his Master. And since this picture is much extolled, we may believe what is said of it--namely, that he painted it in competition with the aforesaid Giovanni, and that he put forward every effort to make it, as it proved to be, more beautiful than that which Giovanni painted of S. Mark, as has been related above. Pellegrino also painted at Udine, for the house of Messer Pre Giovanni, intendant to the illustrious Signori della Torre, a picture of Judith from the waist upwards, with the head of Holofernes in one hand, which is a very beautiful work. By the hand of the same man is a large panel in oils, divided into several pictures, which may be seen on the high-altar of the Church of S. Maria in the town of Civitale, at a distance of eight miles from Udine; and in it are some heads of virgins and other figures with great beauty of expression. And in his township of San Daniele, in a chapel of S. Antonio, he painted in fresco scenes of the Passion of Jesus Christ, and that so finely that he well deserved to be paid more than a thousand crowns for the work. He was much beloved for his talents by the Dukes of Ferrara, and, in addition to other favours and many gifts, he obtained through their good offices two Canonicates in the Duomo of Udine for two of his relatives.

Among his pupils, of whom he had many, making much use of them and rewarding them liberally, was one of Greek nationality, a man of no little ability, who had a very beautiful manner and imitated Pellegrino closely. But Luca Monverde of Udine, who was much beloved by Pellegrino, would have been superior to the Greek, if he had not been snatched from the world prematurely when still a mere lad; although one work by his hand was left on the high-altar of S. Maria delle Grazie in Udine, a panel picture in oils, his first and last, in which, in a recess in perspective, there is a Madonna seated on high with the Child in her arms, painted by him with a soft gradation of shadow, while on the level surface below there are two figures on either side, so beautiful that they show that if he had lived longer he would have become truly excellent.

Another disciple of the same Pellegrino was Bastianello Florigorio, who painted a panel picture that is over the high-altar of S. Giorgio in Udine, of a Madonna in the sky surrounded by an endless number of little angels in various attitudes, all adoring the Child that she holds in her arms; while below there is a very well executed landscape. There is also a very beautiful S. John, and a S. George in armour and on horseback, who, foreshortened in a spirited attitude, is slaying the Dragon with his lance; while the Maiden, who is there on one side, appears to be thanking God and the glorious Virgin for the succour sent to her. In the head of the S. George Bastianello is said to have made his own portrait. He also painted two pictures in fresco in the Refectory of the Friars of S. Pietro Martire: in one is Christ seated at table with the two disciples at Emmaus, and breaking the bread with a benediction, and in the other is the death of S. Peter Martyr. The same master painted in fresco in a niche on a corner of the Palace of M. Marguando, an excellent physician, a nude man in foreshortening, representing a S. John, which is held to be a good painting. Finally, he was forced through some dispute to depart from Udine, for the sake of peace, and to live like an exile in Civitale.

Bastianello had a crude and hard manner, because he much delighted in drawing works in relief and objects of Nature by candle-light. He had much beauty of invention, and he took great pleasure in executing portraits from life, making them truly beautiful and very like; and at Udine, among others, he made one of Messer Raffaello Belgrado, and one of the father of M. Giovan Battista Grassi, an excellent painter and architect, from whose loving courtesy we have received much particular information touching our present subject of Friuli. Bastianello lived about forty years.

Another disciple of Pellegrino was Francesco Floriani of Udine, who is still alive and is a very good painter and architect, like his younger brother, Antonio Floriani, who, thanks to his rare abilities in his profession, is now in the service of his glorious Majesty the Emperor Maximilian. Some of the pictures of that same Francesco were to be seen two years ago in the possession of the Emperor, who was then a King; one of these being a Judith who has cut off the head of Holofernes, painted with admirable judgment and diligence. And in the collection of that monarch there is a book of pen-drawings by the same master, full of lovely inventions, buildings, theatres, arches, porticoes, bridges, palaces, and many other works of architecture, all useful and very beautiful.

Gensio Liberale was also a disciple of Pellegrino, and in his pictures, among other things, he imitated every sort of fish excellently well. This master is now in the service of the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, a splendid position, which he deserves, for he is a very good painter.

But among the most illustrious and renowned painters of the territory of Friuli, the rarest and most famous in our day--since he has surpassed those mentioned above by a great measure in the invention of scenes, in draughtsmanship, in boldness, in mastery over colour, in fresco work, in swiftness of execution, in strength of relief, and in every other department of our arts--is Giovanni Antonio Licinio, called by some Cuticello. This master was born at Pordenone, a township in Friuli, twenty-five miles from Udine; and since he was endowed by nature with a beautiful genius and an inclination for painting, he devoted himself without any teacher to the study of natural objects, imitating the style of Giorgione da Castelfranco, because that manner, seen by him many times in Venice, had pleased him much. Now, having learnt the rudiments of art, he was forced, in order to save his life from a pestilence that had fallen upon his native place, to take to flight; and thus, passing many months in the surrounding country, he executed various works in fresco for a number of peasants, gaining at their expense experience of using colour on plaster. Wherefore, since the surest and best method of learning is practice and a sufficiency of work, it came to pass that he became a well-practised and judicious master of that kind of painting, and learned to make colours produce the desired effect when used in a fluid state, which is done on account of the white, which dries the plaster and produces a brightness that ruins all softness. And so, having mastered the nature of colours, and having learnt by long practice to work very well in fresco, he returned to Udine, where he painted for the altar of the Nunziata, in the Convent of S. Pietro Martire, a panel-picture in oils containing the Madonna at the moment of receiving the Salutation from the Angel Gabriel; and in the sky he made a God the Father surrounded by many little boys, who is sending down the Holy Spirit. This work, which is executed with good drawing, grace, vivacity, and relief, is held by all craftsmen of judgment to be the best that he ever painted.

In the Duomo of the same city, on the balustrade of the organ, below the doors already painted by Pellegrino, he painted a story of S. Ermacora and Fortunatus, also in oils, graceful and well designed. In the same city, in order to gain the friendship of the Signori Tinghi, he painted in fresco the faćade of their palace; in which work, wishing to make himself known and to prove what a master he was of architectural invention and of working in fresco, he made a series of compartments and groups of varied ornaments full of figures in niches; and in three great spaces in the centre of the work he painted scenes with figures in colours, two spaces, high and narrow, being on either side, and one square in shape in the middle; and in the latter he painted a Corinthian column planted with its base in the sea, with a Siren on the right hand, holding the column upright, and a nude Neptune on the left supporting it on the other side; while above the capital of the column there is a Cardinal's hat, the device, so it is said, of Pompeo Colonna, who was much the friend of the owners of that palace. In one of the two other spaces are the Giants being slain with thunderbolts by Jove, with some dead bodies on the ground very well painted and most beautifully foreshortened. On the other side is a Heaven full of Gods, and on the earth two Giants who, club in hand, are in the act of striking at Diana, who, defending herself in a bold and spirited attitude, is brandishing a blazing torch as if to burn the arms of one of them.

At Spelimbergo, a large place fifteen miles above Udine, the balustrade and the doors of the organ in the great church are painted by the hand of the same master; on the outer side of one door is the Assumption of Our Lady, and on the inner side S. Peter and S. Paul before Nero, gazing at Simon Magus in the air above; while on the other door there is the Conversion of S. Paul, and on the balustrade the Nativity of Christ.

Through this work, which is very beautiful, and many others, Pordenone came into repute and fame, and was summoned to Vicenza, whence, after having executed some works there, he made his way to Mantua, where he coloured a faćade in fresco with marvellous grace for M. Paris, a gentleman of that city. Among other beautiful inventions which are in that work, much praise is due to a frieze of antique letters, one braccio and a half in height, at the top, below the cornice, among which, passing in and out of them, are many little children in various attitudes, all most beautiful.

That work finished, he returned in great credit to Vicenza, and there, besides many other works, he painted the whole of the tribune of S. Maria di Campagna, although by reason of his departure a part remained unfinished, which was afterwards finished with great diligence by Maestro Bernardo da Vercelli. In the same church he painted two chapels in fresco: one with stories of S. Catherine, and the other with the Nativity of Christ and the Adoration of the Magi, both being worthy of the highest praise. He then painted some poetical pictures in the beautiful garden of M. Barnaba dal Pozzo, a doctor; and, in the said Church of S. Maria di Campagna, the picture of S. Augustine, which is on the left hand as one enters the church. All these most beautiful works brought it about that the gentlemen of that city persuaded him to take a wife there, and always held him in vast veneration.

Going afterwards to Venice, where he had formerly executed some works, he painted a wall of S. Geremia, on the Grand Canal, and a panel picture in oils for the Madonna del Orto, with many figures, making a particular effort to prove his worth in the S. John the Baptist. He also painted many scenes in fresco on the faćade of the house of Martin d'Anna on the same Grand Canal; in particular, a Curtius on horseback in foreshortening, which has the appearance of being wholly in the round, like the Mercury flying freely through the air, not to speak of many other things that all prove his ability. That work pleased the whole city of Venice beyond measure, and Pordenone was therefore extolled more highly than any other man who had ever worked in the city up to that time.

Among other reasons that caused him to give an incredible amount of effort to all his works, was his rivalry with the most excellent Tiziano; since, setting himself to compete with him, he hoped by means of continual study and by a bold and resolute method of working in fresco to wrest from the hands of Tiziano that sovereignty which he had gained with so many beautiful works; employing, also, unusual methods outside the field of art, such as that of being obliging and courteous and associating continually and of set purpose with great persons, making his interests universal, and taking a hand in everything. And, in truth, this rivalry was a great assistance to him, for it caused him to devote the greatest zeal and diligence in his power to all his works, so that they proved worthy of eternal praise.

For these reasons, then, he was commissioned by the Wardens of S. Rocco to paint in fresco the chapel of that church, with all the tribune. Setting his hand, therefore, to this work, he painted a God the Father in the tribune, with a vast number of children in various beautiful attitudes, radiating from Him. In the frieze of the same tribune he painted eight figures from the Old Testament, with the four Evangelists in the angles, and the Transfiguration of Christ over the high altar; and in the two lunettes at the sides are the four Doctors of the Church. By the hand of the same master are two large pictures in the middle of the church: in one is Christ healing an endless number of the sick, all very well painted, and in the other is S. Christopher carrying Jesus Christ on his shoulders. On the wooden tabernacle of the same church, wherein the vessels of silver are kept, he painted a S. Martin on horseback, with many beggars who are bringing votive offerings, in a building in perspective.

This work, which was much extolled and brought him honor and profit, was the reason that M. Jacopo Soranzo, having become his intimate friend, caused him to be commissioned to paint the Sala de' Pregai in competition with Tiziano; and there he executed many pictures with figures seen foreshortened from below, which are very beautiful, together with a frieze of marine monsters painted in oils round that hall. These works made him so dear to the Senate, that as long as he lived he always received an honourable salary from them. And since, out of rivalry, he always sought to do work in places where Tiziano had also worked, he painted for S. Giovanni di Rialto a S. John, as Almoner, giving alms to beggars, and also placed on an altar a picture of S. Sebastian, S. Rocco, and other saints, which was very beautiful, but yet not equal to the work of Tiziano, although many, more out of malignity than out of a love for the truth, exalted that of Giovanni Antonio. The same master painted in the cloister of S. Stefano many scenes in fresco from the Old Testament, and one from the New, divided one from another by various Virtues; and in these figures he displayed amazing foreshortenings, in which method of painting he always delighted, seeking to introduce them into his every composition with no fear of difficulties, and making them more ornate than any other painter.

Prince Doria had built a palace on the seashore in Genoa, and had commissioned Perino del Vaga, a very celebrated painter, to paint halls, apartments, and ante-chambers both in oils and in fresco, which are quite marvellous for the richness and beauty of the paintings. But seeing that Perino was not then giving much attention to the work, and wishing to make him do by the spur of emulation what he was not doing by himself, he sent for Pordenone, who began with an open terrace, wherein, following his usual manner, he executed a frieze of children, who are hurrying about in very beautiful attitudes and unloading a barque full of merchandise. He also painted a large scene of Jason asking leave from his uncle to go in search of the Golden Fleece. But the Prince, seeing the difference that there was between the work of Perino and that of Pordenone, dismissed the latter, and summoned in his place Domenico Beccafumi of Siena, an excellent painter and a rarer master than Pordenone. And he, glad to serve so great a Prince, did not scruple to leave his native city of Siena, where there are so many marvellous works by his hand; but he did not paint more than one single scene in that palace, because Perino brought everything to completion by himself.

Giovanni Antonio then returned to Venice, where he was given to understand that Ercole, Duke of Ferrara, had brought a great number of masters from Germany, and had caused them to begin to make fabrics in silk, gold, floss-silk, and wool, for his own use and pleasure, but that he had no good designers of figures in Ferrara, since Girolamo da Ferrara had more ability for portraits and separate things than for difficult and complicated scenes, which called for great power of art and design; and that he should enter the service of that Prince. Whereupon, desiring to gain fame no less than riches, he departed from Venice, and on reaching Ferrara was received with great warmth by the Duke. But a little time after his arrival, being attacked by a most grievous affliction of the chest, he took to his bed with the doom of death upon him, and, growing continually worse and finding no remedy, within three days or little more he finished the course of his life, at the age of fifty-six. This seemed a strange thing to the Duke, and also to Pordenone's friends; and there were not wanting men who for many months believed that he had died of poison. The body of Giovanni Antonio was buried with honour, and his death was a grief to many, particularly in Venice, for the reason that he was ready of speech and the friend and companion of many, and delighted in music; and his readiness and grace of speech came from his having given attention to the study of Latin. He always made his figures grand, and was very rich in invention, and so versatile that he could imitate everything very well; but he was, above all, resolute and most facile in works in fresco.

A disciple of Pordenone was Pomponio Amalteo of San Vito, who won by his good qualities the honor of becoming the son-in-law of his master. This Pomponio, always following that master in matters of art, has acquitted himself very well in all his works, as may be seen at Udine from the doors of the new organ, painted in oils, on the outer side of which is Christ driving the traders from the Temple, and on the inner side the story of the Pool of Bethesda and the Resurrection of Lazarus. In the Church of S. Francesco, in the same city, there is a panel picture in oils by the hand of the same man, of S. Francis receiving the Stigmata, with some very beautiful landscapes, and with a sunrise from which, in the midst of some rays of the greatest splendour, there radiates the celestial light, which pierces the hands, feet, and side of S. Francis, who, kneeling devoutly and full of love, receives it, while his companion lies on the ground, in foreshortening, all overcome with amazement. Pomponio also painted in fresco for the Friars of La Vigna, at the end of their refectory, Jesus Christ between the two disciples at Emmaus. In the township of San Vito, his native place, twenty miles distant from Udine, he painted in fresco the Chapel of the Madonna in the Church of S. Maria, in so beautiful a manner, and so much to the satisfaction of all, that he has won from the most reverend Cardinal Maria Grimani, Patriarch of Aquileia and Lord of San Vito, the honor of being enrolled among the nobles of that place.

I have thought it right in this Life of Pordenone to make mention of these excellent craftsmen of Friuli, both because it appears to me that their talents deserve it, and to the end that it may be recognized in the account to be given later how much more excellent are those who, after such a beginning, have lived since that day, as will be related in the Life of Giovanni Ricamatori of Udine, to whom our age owes a very great obligation for his works in stucco and his grotesques.

But returning to Pordenone; after the works mentioned above as having been executed by him at Venice in the time of the most illustrious Gritti, he died, as has been related, in the year 1540. And because he was one of the most able men that our age has possessed, and for the reason, above all, that his figures seem to be in the round and detached from their walls, and almost in relief, he can be numbered among those who have rendered assistance to art and benefit to the world.

 

 

 

GIOVANNI ANTONIO SOGLIANI
PAINTER OF FLORENCE

Vasari's Lives of the Artists



VERY OFTEN DO WE SEE in the sciences of learning and in the more liberal of the manual arts, that those men who are melancholy are the most assiduous in their studies and show the greatest patience in supporting the burden of their labours; so that there are few of that disposition who do not become excellent in such professions. Even so did Giovanni Antonio Sogliani, a painter of Florence, whose cast of countenance was so cold and woeful that he looked like the image of melancholy; and such was the power of this humour over him that he gave little thought to anything but matters of art, with the exception of his household cares, through which he endured most grievous anxieties, although he had enough to live in comfort. He worked at the art of painting under Lorenzo di Credi for four-and-twenty years, living with him, honoring him always, and rendering him every sort of service. Having become during that time a very good painter, he showed afterwards in all his works that he was a most faithful disciple of his master and a close imitator of his manner. This was seen from his first paintings, in the Church of the Osservanza on the hill of San Miniato without Florence, for which he painted a panel-picture copied from the one that Lorenzo had executed for the Nuns of S. Chiara, containing the Nativity of Christ, and no less excellent than the one of Lorenzo.

Afterwards, having left his master, he painted for the Church of S. Michele in Orto, at the commission of the Guild of Vintners, a S. Martin in oils, robed as a Bishop, which gave him the name of a very good master. And since Giovanni Antonio had a vast veneration for the works and the manner of Fra Bartolommeo di San Marco, and made great efforts to approach that manner in his coloring, it may be seen from a panel which he began but did not finish, not being satisfied with it, how much he imitated that painter. This panel remained in his house during his lifetime as worthless: but after his death it was sold as a piece of old rubbish to Sinibaldo Gaddi, and he had it finished by Santi Titi dal Borgo, then a mere boy, and placed it in a chapel of his own in S. Domenico da Fiesole. In this work are the Magi adoring Jesus Christ, who is in the lap of His Mother, and in one corner is his own portrait from life, which is a passing good likeness.

He then painted for Madonna Alfonsina, the wife of Piero de' Medici, a panel picture that was placed as a votive offering over the altar of the Chapel of the Martyrs in the Camaldolite Church at Florence: in which picture he painted the Crucifixion of S. Arcadio and other martyrs with their crosses in their arms, and two figures, half covered with draperies and half naked, kneeling with their crosses on the ground, while in the sky are some little angels with palms in their hands. This work, which was painted with much diligence, and executed with good judgment in the colouring and in the heads, which are very lifelike, was placed in the above-mentioned Camaldolite Church; but that monastery was taken on account of the siege of Florence from those Eremite Fathers, who used devoutly to celebrate the Divine offices in the church, and was afterwards given to the Nuns of S. Giovannino, of the Order of the Knights of Jerusalem, and finally destroyed; and the picture, being one which may be numbered among the best works that Sogliani painted, was placed by order of the Lord Duke Cosimo in one of the chapels of the Medici family in S. Lorenzo.

The same master executed for the Nuns of the Crocetta a Last Supper colored in oils, which was much extolled at that time. And in a shrine in the Via de' Ginori, he painted in fresco for Taddeo Taddei a Crucifix with Our Lady and S. John at the foot, and in the sky some angels lamenting Christ, very lifelike--a picture truly worthy of praise, and a well-executed example of work in fresco. By the hand of Sogliani, also, is a Crucifix in the Refectory of the Abbey of the Black Friars in Florence, with angels flying about and weeping with much grace; and at the foot the Madonna, S. John, S. Benedict, S. Scholastica, and other figures. For the Nuns of the Spirito Santo, on the hill of San Giorgio, he painted two pictures that are in their church, one of S. Francis, and the other of S. Elizabeth, Queen of Hungary and a sister of that Order. For the Company of the Ceppo he painted the banner for carrying in processions, which is very beautiful, representing on the front of it the Visitation of Our Lady, and on the other side S. Niccol˜ the Bishop, with two children dressed as Flagellants, one of whom holds his book and the other the three balls of gold. On a panel in S. Jacopo sopra Arno he painted the Trinity, with an endless number of little boys, S. Mary Magdalene kneeling, S. Catherine, S. James, and two figures in fresco standing at the sides, S. Jerome in Penitence and S. John; and in the predella he made his assistant, Sandrino del Calzolaio, execute hree scenes, which won no little praise.

On the end wall of the Oratory of a Company in the township of Anghiari, he executed on panel a Last Supper in oils, with figures of the size of life; and on one of the two adjoining walls (namely, the sides) he painted Christ washing the feet of the Apostles, and on the other a servant bringing two vessels of water. The work is held in great veneration in that place, for it is indeed a rare thing, and one that brought him both honor and profit. A picture that he executed of a Judith who had cut off the head of Holofernes, being a very beautiful work, was sent to Hungary. And likewise another, in which was the Beheading of S. John the Baptist, with a building in perspective for which he had copied the exterior of the Chapter-house of the Pazzi, which is in the first cloister of S. Croce, was sent as a most beautiful work to Naples by Paolo da Terrarossa, who had given the commission for it. For one of the Bernardi, also, Sogliani executed two other pictures, which were placed in a chapel in the Church of the Osservanza at San Miniato, containing two lifesize figures in oils--S. John the Baptist and S. Anthony of Padua. But as for the panel that was to stand between them, Giovanni Antonio, being dilatory by nature and leisurely over his work, lingered over it so long that he who had given the commission died: wherefore that panel, which was to contain a Christ lying dead in the lap of His Mother, remained unfinished.

After these things, when Perino del Vaga, having departed from Genoa on account of his resentment against Prince Doria, was working at Pisa, where the sculptor Stagio da Pietrasanta had begun the execution of the new chapels in marble at the end of the nave of the Duomo, together with that space behind the high-altar, which serves as a sacristy, it was ordained that the said Perino, as will be related in his Life, with other masters, should begin to fill up those adornments of marble with pictures. But Perino being recalled to Genoa, Giovanni Antonio was commissioned to set his hand to the pictures that were to adorn the aforesaid recess behind the high-altar, and to deal in his works with the sacrifices of the Old Testament, as symbols of the Sacrifice of the Most Holy Sacrament, which was there over the centre of the high-altar. Sogliani, then, painted in the first picture the sacrifice that Noah and his sons offered when they had gone forth from the Ark, and afterwards those of Cain and of Abel; which were all highly extolled, but above all that of Noah, because some of the heads and parts of the figures in it were very beautiful. The picture of Abel is charming for its landscapes, which are very well executed, and the head of Abel himself, which is the very presentment of goodness; but quite the opposite is that of Cain, which has the mien of a truly sorry villain. And if Sogliani had pursued the work with energy instead of being dilatory, he would have been charged by the Warden, who had given him his commission and was much pleased with his manner and character, to execute all the work in that Duomo, whereas at that time, in addition to the pictures already mentioned, he painted no more than one panel, which was destined for the chapel wherein Perino had begun to work; and this he finished in Florence, but in such wise that it pleased the Pisans well enough and was held to be very beautiful. In it are the Madonna, S. John the Baptist, S. George, S. Mary Magdalene, S. Margaret, and other saints. His picture, then, having given satisfaction, Sogliani received from the Warden a commission for three other panels, to which he set his hand, but did not finish them in the lifetime of that Warden, in whose place Bastiano della Seta was elected; and he, perceiving that the business was moving but slowly, allotted four pictures for the aforesaid sacristy behind the high-altar to Domenico Beccafumi of Siena, an excellent painter, who dispatched them very quickly, as will be told in the proper place, and also painted a panel there, and other painters executed the rest. Giovanni Antonio, then, working at his leisure, finished two other panels with much diligence, painting in each a Madonna surrounded by many saints. And finally, having made his way to Pisa, he there painted the fourth and last, in which he acquitted himself worse than in any other, either through old age, or because he was competing with Beccafumi, or for some other reason.

But the Warden Bastiano, perceiving the slowness of the man, and wishing to bring the work to an end, allotted the three other panels to Giorgio Vasari of Arezzo, who finished two of them, those that are beside the door of the faćade. In the one nearer the Campo Santo is Our Lady with the Child in her arms, with S. Martha caressing Him. There, also, on their knees, are S. Cecilia, S. Augustine, S. Joseph, and S. Guido the Hermit, and in the foreground a nude S. Jerome, with S. Luke the Evangelist, and some little boys uplifting a piece of drapery, and others holding flowers. In the other, by the wish of the Warden, he painted another Madonna with her Son in her arms, S. James the Martyr, S. Matthew, S. Sylvester the Pope, and S. TurpŹ the Chevalier. Having to paint the Madonna, and not wishing to repeat the same composition (although he had varied it much in other respects), he made her with Christ dead in her arms, and those saints as it were round a Deposition from the Cross; and on the crosses, planted on high and made of tree-trunks, are fixed two naked Thieves, surrounded by horses and ministers of the crucifixion, with Joseph, Nicodemus, and the Maries; all for the satisfaction of the Warden, who wished that in those new pictures there should be included all the saints that there had been in the past in the various dismantled chapels, in order to renew their memory in the new works. One picture was still wanting to complete the whole, and this was executed by Bronzino, who painted a nude Christ and eight saints. And in this manner were those chapels brought to completion, all of which Giovanni Antonio could have done with his own hand if he had not been so slow.

And since Sogliani had won much favour with the Pisans, after the death of Andrea del Sarto he was commissioned to finish a panel for the Company of S. Francesco, which the said Andrea left only sketched; which panel is now in the building of that Company on the Piazza di S. Francesco at Pisa. The same master executed some rows of cloth-hangings for the Wardens of Works of the aforesaid Duomo, and many others in Florence, because he took pleasure in doing that sort of work, and above all in company with his friend Tommaso di Stefano, a painter of Florence.

Being summoned by the Friars of S. Marco in Florence to paint a work in fresco at the head of their refectory, at the expense of one of their number, a lay-brother of the Molletti family, who had possessed a rich patrimony when in the world, Giovanni Antonio wished to paint there the scene of Jesus Christ feeding five thousand persons with five loaves and two fishes, in order to make the most of his powers; and he had already made the design for it, with many women and children and a great multitude of other people, when the friars refused to have that story, saying that they wanted something definite, simple, and familiar. Whereupon, to please them, he painted the scene when S. Dominic, being in the refectory with his friars and having no bread, made a prayer to God, when the table was miraculously covered with bread, brought by two angels in human form. In this work he made portraits of many friars who were then in the convent, which have the appearance of life, and particularly that of the lay-brother of the Molletti family, who is serving at table. Then, in the lunette above the table, he painted S. Dominic at the foot of a Crucifix, with Our Lady and S. John the Evangelist, who are weeping, and at the sides S. Catherine of Siena and S. Antonino, Archbishop of Florence, a brother of their Order. All this, for a work in fresco, was executed with much diligence and a high finish; but Sogliani would have been much more successful if he had executed what he had designed, because painters express the conceptions of their own minds better than those of others. On the other hand, it is only right that he who pays the piper should call the tune. The design for the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes is in the hands of Bartolommeo Gondi, who, in addition to a large picture that he has by the hand of Sogliani, also possesses many drawings and heads painted from life on tinted paper, which he received from the wife of the painter, who had been very much his friend, after his death. And we, also, have in our book some drawings by the same hand, which are beautiful to a marvel.

Sogliani began for Giovanni Serristori a large panel-picture which was to be placed in S. Francesco dell' Osservanza, without the Porta a S. Miniato, with a vast number of figures, among which are some marvellous heads, the best that he ever made; but it was left unfinished at the death of the said Giovanni Serristori. Nevertheless, since Giovanni Antonio had received full payment, he finished it afterwards little by little, and gave it to Messer Alamanno di Jacopo Salviati, the son-in-law and heir of Giovanni Serristori; and he presented it, frame and all, to the Nuns of S. Luca, who have it over their high altar in the Via di S. Gallo.

Giovanni Antonio executed many other works in Florence, some of which are in the houses of citizens, and some were sent to various countries; but of these there is no need to make mention, for we have spoken of the most important. Sogliani was an upright person, very religious, always occupied with his own business, and never interfering with his fellow-craftsmen.

One of his disciples was Sandrino del Calzolaio, who painted the shrine that is on the Canto delle Murate, and, in the Hospital of the Temple, a S. John the Baptist who is assigning shelter to the poor; and he would have done more work, and good work, if he had not died as young as he did. Another of his disciples was Michele, who afterwards went to work with Ridolfo Ghirlandajo, whose name he took; and likewise Benedetto, who went with Antonio Mini, a disciple of Michelagnolo Buonarroti, to France, where he has executed many beautiful works. And another, finally, was Zanobi di Poggino, who has painted many works throughout the city.

In the end, being weary and broken in health after having been long tormented by the stone, Giovanni Antonio rendered up his soul to God at the age of fifty-two. His death was much lamented, for he had been an excellent man, and his manner had been much in favor, since he gave an air of piety to his figures, in such a fashion as pleases those who, delighting little in the highest and most difficult flights of art, love things that are seemly, simple, gracious, and sweet. His body was opened after his death, and in it were found three stones, each as big as an egg; but as long as he lived he would never consent to have them extracted, or to hear a word about them.

 

 

 

GIROLAMO DA TREVISO
PAINTER

Vasari's Lives of the Artists


RARELY DOES IT HAPPEN that those who persist in working in the country in which they were born, are exalted by Fortune to that height of prosperity which their talents deserve; whereas, if a man tries many, he must in the end find one wherein sooner or later he succeeds in being recognized. And it often comes to pass that one who attains to the reward of his labours late in life, is prevented by the venom of death from enjoying it for long, even as we shall see in the case of Girolamo da Treviso.

This painter was held to be a very good master; and although he was no great draughtsman, he was a pleasing colorist both in oils and in fresco, and a close imitator of the methods of Raffaello da Urbino. He worked much in his native city of Treviso; and he also executed many works in Venice, such as, in particular, the facade of the house of Andrea Udoni, which he painted in fresco, with some friezes of children in the courtyard, and one of the upper apartments: all of which he executed in color, and not in chiaroscuro, because the Venetians like color better than anything else. In a large scene in the middle of this faćade is a Juno, seen from the thighs upwards, flying on some clouds with the moon on her head, over which are raised her arms, one holding a vase and the other a bowl. He also painted there a Bacchus, fat and ruddy, with a vessel that he is upsetting, and holding with one arm a Ceres who has many ears of corn in her hands. There, too, are the Graces, with five little boys who are flying below and welcoming them, in order, so they signify, to make the house of the Udoni abound with their gifts; and to show that the same house was a friendly haven for men of talent, he painted Apollo on one side and Pallas on the other. This work was executed with great freshness, so that Girolamo gained from it both honor and profit.

The same master painted a picture for the Chapel of the Madonna in S. Petronio, in competition with certain painters of Bologna, as will be related in the proper place. And continuing to live in Bologna, he executed many pictures there; and in S. Petronio, in the Chapel of S. Antonio da Padova, he depicted in oils, in imitation of marble, all the stories of the life of the latter Saint, in which, without a doubt, there may be perceived grace, judgment, excellence, and a great delicacy of finish. He painted a panel picture for S. Salvatore, of the Madonna ascending the steps of the Temple, with some saints; and another of the Madonna in the sky, with some children, and S. Jerome and S. Catherine beneath, which is certainly the weakest work by his hand that is to be seen in Bologna. Over a great portal, also, in Bologna, he painted in fresco a Crucifix with Our Lady and S. John, all worthy of the highest praise. For S. Domenico, at Bologna, he executed a panel picture in oils of Our Lady with some saints, which is the best of his works; it is near the choir, as one ascends to the tomb of S. Dominic, and in it is the portrait of the patron who had it painted. In like manner, he painted a picture for Count Giovanni Battista Bentivogli, who had the cartoon by the hand of Baldassarre of Siena, representing the story of the Magi: a work which he carried to a very fine completion, although it contained more than a hundred figures. There are also many other works by the hand of Girolamo in Bologna, both in private houses and in the churches. In Galiera he painted in chiaroscuro the faćade of the Palace of the Teofamini, with another faćade behind the house of the Dolfi, which is considered in the judgment of many craftsmen to be the best work that he ever executed in that city.

He went to Trento, and, in company with other painters, painted the palace of the old Cardinal, from which he gained very great fame. Then, returning to Bologna, he gave his attention to the works that he had begun. Now it happened that there was much talk throughout Bologna about having a panel-picture painted for the Della Morte Hospital, for which various designs were made by way of competition, some in drawing and some in color. And since many thought that they had the first claim, some through interest and others because they held themselves to be most worthy of such a commission, Girolamo was left in the lurch; and considering that he had been wronged, not long afterwards he departed from Bologna. And thus the envy of others raised him to such a height of prosperity as he had never thought of; since, if he had been chosen for the work, it would have impeded the blessings that his good fortune had prepared for him. For, having made his way to England, he was recommended by some friends, who favored him, to King Henry; and presenting himself before him, he entered into his service, although not as painter, but as engineer. Then, making trial of his skill in various edifices, copied from some in Tuscany and other parts of Italy, that King pronounced them marvellous, rewarded him with a succession of presents, and decreed him a provision of four hundred crowns a year; and he was given the means to build an honorable abode for himself at the expense of the King. Thereupon Girolamo, raised from one extreme of distress to the other extreme of grandeur, lived a most happy and contented life, thanking God and Fortune for having turned his steps to a country where men were so favorable to his talents. But this unwonted happiness was not destined to last long, for the war between the French and the English being continued, and Girolamo being charged with superintending all the work of the bastions and fortifications, the artillery, and the defences of the camp, it happened one day, when the city of Boulogne in Picardy was being bombarded, that a ball from a demi-cannon came with horrid violence and cut him in half on his horse's back. And thus, Girolamo being at the age of thirty-six, his life, his earthly honors, and all his greatness were extinguished at one and the same moment, in the year 1544.

 

 

 

POLIDORO DA CARAVAGGIO AND THE FLORENTINE MATURINO
PAINTERS

Vasari's Lives of the Artists


IN THE LAST AGE OF GOLD, as the happy age of Leo X might have been called for all noble craftsmen and men of talent, an honored place was held among the most exalted spirits by Polidoro da Caravaggio, a Lombard, who had not become a painter after long study, but had been created and produced as such by Nature. This master, having come to Rome at the time when the Loggie of the Papal Palace were being built for Leo under the direction of Raffaello da Urbino, carried the pail, or we should rather say the hod, full of lime, for the masons who were doing the work, until he had reached the age of eighteen. But, when Giovanni da Udine had begun to paint there, the building and the painting proceeding together, Polidoro, whose will and inclination were much drawn to painting, could not rest content until he had become intimate with all the most able of the young men, in order to study their methods and manners of art, and to set himself to draw. And out of their number he chose as his companion the Florentine Maturino, who was then working in the Papal Chapel, and was held to be an excellent draughtsman of antiquities. Associating with him, Polidoro became so enamored of that art, that in a few months, having made trial of his powers, he executed works that astonished every person who had known him in his former condition. On which account, the work of the Loggie proceeding, he exercised his hand to such purpose in company with those young painters, who were well-practised and experienced in painting, and learned the art so divinely well, that he did not leave that work without carrying away the true glory of being considered the most noble and most beautiful intellect that was to be found among all their number. Thereupon the love of Maturino for Polidoro, and of Polidoro for Maturino, so increased, that they determined like brothers and true companions to live and die together; and, uniting their ambitions, their purses, and their labors, they set themselves to work together in the closest harmony and concord. But since there were in Rome many who had great fame and reputation, well justified by their works, for making their paintings more lively and vivacious in color and more worthy of praise and favor, there began to enter into their minds the idea of imitating the methods of Baldassarre of Siena, who had executed several facades of houses in chiaroscuro, and of giving their attention thenceforward to that sort of work, which by that time had come into fashion.

They began one, therefore, on Montecavallo, opposite to S. Silvestro, in company with Pellegrino da Modena, which encouraged them to make further efforts to see whether this should be their profession; and they went on to execute another opposite to the side door of S. Salvatore del, and likewise painted a scene by the side door of the Minerva, with another, which is a frieze of marine monsters, above S. Rocco a Ripetta. And during this first period they painted a vast number of them throughout all Rome, but not so good as the others; and there is no need to mention them here, since they afterwards did better work of that sort. Gaining courage, therefore, from this, they began to study the antiquities of Rome, counterfeiting the ancient works of marble in their works in chiaroscuro, so that there remained no vase, statue, sarcophagus, scene, or any single thing, whether broken or entire, which they did not draw and make use of. And with such constancy and resolution did they give their minds to this pursuit, that they both acquired the ancient manner, the work of the one being so like that of the other, that, even as their minds were guided by one and the same will, so their hands expressed one and the same knowledge. And although Maturino was not as well assisted by Nature as Polidoro, so potent was the faithful imitation of one style by the two in company, that, wherever either of them placed his hand, the work of both one and the other, whether in composition, expression, or manner, appeared to be the same.

In the Piazza di Capranica, on the way to the Piazza Colonna, they painted a facade with the Theological Virtues, and a frieze of very beautiful invention beneath the windows, including a draped figure of Rome representing the Faith, and holding the Chalice and the Host in her hands, who has taken captive all the nations of the earth; and all mankind is flocking up to bring her tribute, while the Turks, overcome at the last, are shooting arrows at the tomb of Mahomet; all ending in the words of Scripture, "There shall be one fold and one Shepherd." And, indeed, they had no equals in invention; of which we have witness in all their works, abounding in personal ornaments, vestments, foot-wear, and things bizarre and strange, and executed with an incredible beauty. And another proof is that their works are continually being drawn by all the foreign painters; wherefore they conferred greater benefits on the art of painting with the beautiful manner that they displayed and with their marvellous facility, than have all the others together who have lived from Cimabue downwards. It has been seen continually, therefore, in Rome, and is still seen, that all the draughtsmen are inclined more to the works of Polidoro and Maturino than to all the rest of our modern pictures.

In the Borgo Nuovo they executed a faćade in sgraffito, and on the Canto della Pace another likewise in sgraffito; with a facade of the house of the Spinoli, not far from that last-mentioned, on the way to the Parione, containing athletic contests according to the custom of the ancients, and their sacrifices, and the death of Tarpeia. Near the Torre di Nona, on the side towards the Ponte S. Angelo, may be seen a little facade with the Triumph of Camillus and an ancient sacrifice. In the road that leads to the Imagine di Ponte, there is a most beautiful faćade with the story of Perillus, showing him being placed in the bronze bull that he had made; wherein great effort may be seen in those who are thrusting him into that bull, and terror in those who are waiting to behold a death so unexampled, besides which there is the seated figure of Phalaris (so I believe), ordaining with an imperious air of great beauty the punishment of the inhuman spirit that had invented a device so novel and so cruel in order to put men to death with greater suffering. In this work, also, may be perceived a very beautiful frieze of children, painted to look like bronze, and other figures. Higher up than this they painted the facade of the house where there is the image which is called the Imagine di Ponte, wherein are seen several stories illustrated by them, with the Senatorial Order dressed in the garb of ancient Rome. And in the Piazza della Dogana, beside S. Eustachio, there is a facade of battle-pieces; and within that church, on the right as one enters, may be perceived a little chapel with figures painted by Polidoro.

They also executed another above the Farnese Palace for the Cepperelli, and a facade behind the Minerva in the street that leads to the Maddaleni; and in the latter, which contains scenes from Roman history, may be seen, among other beautiful things, a frieze of children in triumph, painted to look like bronze, and executed with supreme grace and extraordinary beauty. On the facade of the Buoni Auguri, near the Minerva, are some very beautiful stories of Romulus, showing him when he is marking out the site of his city with the plough, and when the vultures are flying over him; wherein the vestments, features, and persons of the ancients are so well imitated, that it truly appears as if these were the very men themselves. Certain it is that in that field of art no man ever had such power of design, such practised mastery, a more beautiful manner, or greater facility. And every craftsman is so struck with wonder every time that he sees these works, that he cannot but be amazed at the manner in which Nature has been able in this age to present her marvels to us by means of these men.

Below the Corte Savella, also, on the house bought by Signora Costanza, they painted the Rape of the Sabines, a scene which reveals the raging desire of the captors no less clearly than the terror and panic of the wretched women thus carried off by various soldiers, some on horseback and others in other ways. And not only in this one scene are there such conceptions, but also (and even more) in the stories of Mucius and Horatius, and in the Flight of Porsena, King of Tuscany. In the garden of M. Stefano dal Bufalo, near the Fountain of Trevi, they executed some most beautiful scenes of the Fount of Parnassus, in which they made grotesques and little figures, painted very well in color. On the house of Baldassini, also, near S. Agostino, they executed scenes and sgraffiti, with some heads of Emperors over the windows in the court. On Montecavallo, near S. Agata, they painted a facade with a vast number of different stories, such as the Vestal Tuccia bringing water from the Tiber to the Temple in a sieve, and Claudia drawing the ship with her girdle; and also the rout effected by Camillus while Brennus is weighing the gold. On another wall, round the corner, are Romulus and his brother being suckled by the wolf, and the terrible combat of Horatius, who is defending the head of the bridge, alone against a thousand swords, while behind him are many very beautiful figures in various attitudes, working with might and main to hew away the bridge with pickaxes. There, also, is Mucius Scaevola, who, before the eyes of Porsena, is burning his own hand, which had erred in slaying the King's minister in place of the King; and in the King's face may be seen disdain and a desire for vengeance. And within that house they executed a number of landscapes.

They decorated the facade of S. Pietro in Vincula, painting therein stories of S. Peter, with some large figures of Prophets. And so widespread was the fame of these masters by reason of the abundance of their work, that the pictures painted by them with such beauty in public places enabled them to win extraordinary praise in their lifetime, with glory infinite and eternal through the number of their imitators after death. On a facade, also, in the square where stands the Palace of the Medici, behind the Piazza Navona, they painted the Triumphs of Paulus Emilius, with a vast number of other Roman stories. And at S. Silvestro di Montecavallo they executed some little things for Fra Mariano, both in the house and in the garden; and in the church they painted his chapel, with two scenes in colour from the life of S. Mary Magdalene, in which the disposition of the landscapes is executed with supreme grace and judgment. For Polidoro, in truth, executed landscapes and groups of trees and rocks better than any other painter, and it is to him that art owes that facility which our modern craftsmen show in their works.

They also painted many apartments and friezes in various houses at Rome, executing them with colors in fresco and in distemper; but these works were attempted by them as trials, because they were never able to achieve with colors that beauty which they always displayed in their works in chiaroscuro, in their imitations of bronze, or in terretta. This may still be seen in the house of Torre Sanguigna, which once belonged to the Cardinal of Volterra, on the facade of which they painted a most beautiful decoration in chiaroscuro, and in the interior some figures in color, the painting of which is so badly executed, that in it they diverted from its true excellence the good design which they always had. And this appeared all the more strange because of there being beside them an escutcheon of Pope Leo, with nude figures, by the hand of Giovan Francesco Vetraio, who would have done extraordinary things if death had not taken him from our midst. However, not cured by this of their insane confidence, they also painted some children in color for the altar of the Martelli in S. Agostino at Rome, a work which Jacopo Sansovino completed by making a Madonna of marble; and these children appear to be by the hands, not of illustrious masters, but of simpletons just beginning to learn. Whereas, on the side where the altar cloth covers the altar, Polidoro painted a little scene of a Dead Christ with the Maries, which is a most beautiful work, showing that in truth that sort of work was more their profession than the use of colors.

Returning, therefore, to their usual work, they painted two very beautiful facades in the Campo Marzio; one with the stories of Ancus Martius, and the other with the Festivals of the Saturnalia, formerly celebrated in that place, with all the two-horse and four-horse chariots circling round the obelisks, which are held to be most beautiful, because they are so well executed both in design and in nobility of manner, that they reproduce most vividly those very spectacles as representations of which they were painted. On the Canto della Chiavica, on the way to the Corte Savella, they painted a facade which is a divine thing, and is held to be the most beautiful of all the beautiful works that they executed; for, in addition to the story of the maidens passing over the Tiber, there is at the foot, near the door, a Sacrifice painted with marvellous industry and art, wherein may be seen duly represented all the instruments and all those ancient customs that used to have a place in sacrifices of that kind. Near the Piazza del Popolo, below S. Jacopo degli Incurabili, they painted a faćade with stories of Alexander the Great, which is held to be very fine; and there they depicted the ancient statues of the Nile and the Tiber from the Belvedere. Near S. Simeone they painted the facade of the Gaddi Palace, which is truly a cause of marvel and amazement, when one observes the lovely vestments in it, so many and so various, and the vast number of ancient helmets, girdles, buskins, and barques, adorned with all the delicacy and abundance of detail that an inventive imagination could conceive. There, with a multitude of beautiful things which overload the memory, are represented all the ways of the ancients, the statues of sages, and most lovely women: and there are all the sorts of ancient sacrifices with their ritual, and an army in the various stages between embarking and fighting with an extraordinary variety of arms and implements, all executed with such grace and finished with such masterly skill, that the eye is dazzled by the vast abundance of beautiful inventions. Opposite to this is a smaller facade, which could not be improved in beauty and variety; and there, in the frieze, is the story of Niobe causing herself to be worshipped, with the people bringing tribute, vases, and various kinds of gifts; which story was depicted by them with such novelty, grace, art, force of relief and genius every part, that it would certainly take too long to describe the whole. Next, there follows the wrath of Latona, and her terrible vengeance on the children of the over-proud Niobe, whose seven sons are slain by Phoebus and the seven daughters by Diana; with an endless number of figures in imitation of bronze, which appear to be not painted but truly of metal. Above these are executed other scenes, with some vases in imitation of gold, innumerable things of fancy so strange that mortal eye could not picture anything more novel or more beautiful, and certain Etruscan helmets; but one is left confused by the variety and abundance of the conceptions, so beautiful and so fanciful, which issued from their minds. These works have been imitated by a vast number of those who labor at that branch of art. They also painted the courtyard of that house, and likewise the loggia, which they decorated with little grotesques in color that are held to be divine. In short, all that they touched they brought to perfection with infinite grace and beauty; and if I were to name all their works, I should fill a whole book with the performances of these two masters alone, since there is no apartment, palace, garden, or villa in Rome that does not contain some work by Polidoro and Maturino.

Now, while Rome was rejoicing and clothing herself in beauty with their labors, and they were awaiting the reward of all their toil, the envy of Fortune, in the year 1527, sent Bourbon to Rome; and he gave that city over to sack. Whereupon was divided the companionship not only of Polidoro and Maturino, but of all the thousands of friends and relatives who had broken bread together for so many years in Rome. Maturino took to flight, and no long time passed before he died, so it is believed in Rome, of plague, in consequence of the hardships that he had suffered in the sack, and was buried in S. Eustachio. Polidoro turned his steps to Naples; but on his arrival, the noblemen of that city taking but little interest in fine works of painting, he was like to die of hunger. Working, therefore, at the commission of certain painters, he executed a S. Peter in the principal chapel of S. Maria della Grazia; and in this way he assisted those painters in many things, more to save his life than for any other reason. However, the fame of his talents having spread abroad, he executed for Count ... [sic] a vault painted in distemper, together with some walls, all of which is held to be very beautiful work. In like manner, he executed a courtyard in chiaroscuro for Signor ... [sic] , with some loggie, which are very beautiful, rich in ornaments, and well painted. He also painted for S. Angelo, beside the Pescheria at Naples, a little panel in oils, containing a Madonna and some naked figures of souls in torment, which is held to be most beautiful, but more for the drawing than for the coloring; and likewise some pictures for the Chapel of the High Altar, each with a single full-length figure, and all executed in the same manner.

It came to pass that Polidoro, living in Naples and seeing his talents held in little esteem, determined to take his leave of men who thought more of a horse that could jump than of a master whose hands could give to painted figures the appearance of life. Going on board ship, therefore, he made his way to Messina, where, finding more consideration and more honor, he set himself to work; and thus, working continually, he acquired good skill and mastery in the use of color. Thereupon he executed many works, which are dispersed in various places; and turning his attention to architecture, he gave proof of his worth in many buildings that he erected. After a time, Charles V passing through Messina on his return from victory in Tunis, Polidoro made in his honor most beautiful triumphal arches, from which he gained vast credit and rewards. And then this master, who was always burning with desire to revisit Rome, which afflicts with an unceasing yearning those who have lived there many years, when making trial of other countries, painted as his last work in Messina a panel picture of Christ bearing the Cross, executed in oils with much excellence and very pleasing color. In it he made a number of figures accompanying Christ to His Death--soldiers, pharisees, horses, women, children, and the Thieves in front; and he kept firmly before his mind the consideration of how such an execution must have been marshalled, insomuch that his nature seemed to have striven to show its highest powers in this work, which is indeed most excellent. After this he sought many times to shake himself free of that country, although he was looked upon with favor there; but he had a reason for delay in a woman, beloved by him for many years, who detained him with her sweet words and cajoleries. However, so mightily did his desire to revisit Rome and his friends work in him, that he took from his bank a good sum of money that he possessed, and, wholly determined, prepared to depart.

Polidoro had employed as his assistant for a long time a lad of the country, who bore greater love to his master's money than to his master; but, the money being kept, as has been said, in the bank, he was never able to lay his hands upon it and carry it off. Wherefore, an evil and cruel thought entering his head, he resolved to put his master to death with the help of some accomplices, on the following night, while he was sleeping, and then to divide the money with them. And so, assisted by his friends, he set upon Polidoro in his first sleep, while he was slumbering deeply, and strangled him with a cloth. Then, giving him several wounds, they made sure of his death; and in order to prove that it was not they who had done it, they carried him to the door of the woman whom he had loved, making it appear that her relatives or other persons of the house had killed him. The assistant gave a good part of the money to the villains who had committed so hideous an outrage, and bade them be off. In the morning he went in tears to the house of a certain Count, a friend of his dead master, and related the event to him; but for all the diligence that was used for many days in seeking for the perpetrator of the crime, nothing came to light. By the will of God, however, nature and virtue, in disdain at being wounded by the hand of fortune, so worked in one who had no interest in the matter, that he declared it to be impossible that any other but the assistant himself could have committed the murder. Whereupon the Count had him seized and put to the torture, and without the application of any further torment he confessed the crime and was condemned by the law to the gallows; but first he was torn with red-hot pincers on the way to execution, and finally quartered.

For all this, however, life was not restored to Polidoro, nor was there given back to the art of painting a genius so resolute and so extraordinary, such as had not been seen in the world for many an age. If, indeed, at the time when he died, invention, grace, and boldness in the painting of figures could have laid down their lives, they would have died with him. Happy was the union of nature and art which embodied a spirit so noble in human form; and cruel was the envy and hatred of his fate and fortune, which robbed him of life with so strange a death, but shall never through all the ages rob him of his name. His obsequies were performed with full solemnity, and he was given burial in the Cathedral Church, lamented bitterly by all Messina, in the year 1543.

Great, indeed, is the obligation owed by craftsmen to Polidoro, in that he enriched art with a great abundance of vestments, all different and most strange, and of varied ornaments, and gave grace and adornment to all his works, and likewise made figures of every sort, animals, buildings, grotesques, and landscapes, all so beautiful, that since his day whosoever has aimed at catholicity has imitated him. It is a marvellous thing and a fearsome to see from the example of this master the instability of Fortune and what she can bring to pass, causing men to become excellent in some profession from whom something quite different might have been expected, to the no small vexation of those who have labored in vain for many years at the same art. It is a marvellous thing, I repeat, to see those same men, after much travailing and striving, brought by that same Fortune to a miserable and most unhappy end at the very moment when they were hoping to enjoy the fruits of their labours; and that with calamities so monstrous and terrible, that pity herself takes to flight, art is outraged, and benefits are repaid with an extraordinary and incredible ingratitude. Wherefore, even as painting may rejoice in the fruitful life of Polidoro, so could he complain of Fortune, which at one time showed herself friendly to him, only to bring him afterwards, when it was least expected, to a dreadful death.

 

 

 

Il Rosso Fiorentino
PAINTER OF FLORENCE

Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists




Men of account who apply themselves to the arts and pursue them with all their powers are sometimes exalted and honored beyond measure, at a moment when it was least expected, before the eyes of all the world, as may be seen clearly from the labors that Il Rosso, a painter of Florence, devoted to the art of painting; for if these were not acknowledged in Rome and Florence by those who could reward them, yet in France he found one to recompense him for them, and that in such sort, that his glory might have sufficed to quench the thirst of the most overweening ambition that could possess the heart of any craftsman, be he who he may. Nor could he have obtained in this life greater dignities, honour, or rank, seeing that he was regarded with favor and much esteemed beyond any other man of his profession by a King so great as is the King of France. And, indeed, his merits were such, that, if Fortune had secured less for him, she would have done him a very great wrong, for the reason that Rosso, in addition to his painting, was endowed with a most beautiful presence; his manner of speech was gracious and grave; he was an excellent musician, and had a fine knowledge of philosophy; and what was of greater import than all his other splendid qualities was this, that he always showed the invention of a poet in the grouping of his figures, besides being bold and well-grounded in draughtsmanship, graceful in manner, sublime in the highest flights of imagination, and a master of beautiful composition of scenes. In architecture he showed an extraordinary excellence; and he was always, however poor in circumstances, rich in the grandeur of his spirit. For this reason, whosoever shall follow in the labors of painting the walk pursued by Rosso, must be celebrated without ceasing, as are that master's works, which have no equals in boldness and are executed without effort and strain, since he kept them free of that dry and painful elaboration to which so many subject themselves in order to veil the worthlessness of their works with the cloak of importance.

In his youth, Rosso drew from the cartoon of Michelagnolo, and would study art with but few masters, having a certain opinion of his own that conflicted with their manners; as may be seen from a shrine executed in fresco for Piero Bartoli at Marignolle, without the Porta a S. Piero Gattolini in Florence, containing a Dead Christ, wherein he began to show how great was his desire for a manner bold and grand, graceful and marvellous beyond that of all others. While still a beardless boy, at the time when Lorenzo Pucci was made a Cardinal by Pope Leo, he executed over the door of S. Sebastiano de' Servi the arms of the Pucci, with two figures, which made the craftsmen of that day marvel, for no one expected for him such a result as he achieved. Wherefore he so grew in courage, that, after having painted a picture with a half-length figure of Our Lady and a head of S. John the Evangelist for Maestro Jacopo, a Servite friar, who was something of a poet, at his persuasion he painted the Assumption of the Madonna in the cloister of the Servites, beside the scene of the Visitation, which was executed by Jacopo da Pontormo. In this he made a Heaven full of angels, all in the form of little naked children dancing in a circle round the Madonna, foreshortened with a most beautiful flow of outlines and with great grace of manner, as they wheel through the sky: insomuch that, if the coloring had been executed by him with that mature mastery of art which he afterwards came to achieve, he would have surpassed the other scenes by a great measure, even as he actually did equal them in grandeur and excellence of design. He made the Apostles much burdened with draperies, and, indeed, overloaded with their abundance; but the attitudes and some of the heads are more than beautiful.

The Director of the Hospital of S. Maria Nuova commissioned him to paint a panel: but when he saw it sketched, having little knowledge of that art, the Saints appeared to him like devils; for it was Rosso's custom in his oil-sketches to give a sort of savage and desperate air to the faces, after which, in finishing them, he would sweeten the expressions and bring them to a proper form. At this the patron fled from his house and would not have the picture, saying that the painter had cheated him.

In like manner, over another door that leads into the cloister of the Convent of the Servites, Rosso painted the escutcheon of Pope Leo, with two children; but it is now ruined. And in the houses of citizens may be seen several of his pictures and many portraits. For the visit of Pope Leo to Florence he executed a very beautiful arch on the Canto de' Bischeri. Afterwards he painted a most beautiful picture of the Dead Christ for Signor di Piombino, and also decorated a little chapel for him. At Volterra, likewise, he painted a most lovely Deposition from the Cross.

Having therefore grown in credit and fame, he executed for S. Spirito, in Florence, the panel picture of the Dei family, which they had formerly entrusted to Raffaello da Urbino, who abandoned it because of the cares of the work that he had undertaken in Rome. This picture Rosso painted with marvellous grace, draughtsmanship, and vivacity of coloring. Let no one imagine that any work can display greater force or show more beautifully from a distance than this one, which, on account of the boldness of the figures and the extravagance of the attitudes, no longer employed by any of the other painters, was held to be an extraordinary work. And although it did not bring him much credit at that time, the world has since come little by little to recognize its excellence and has given it abundant praise; for with regard to the blending of color it would be impossible to excel it, seeing that the lights which are in the brightest parts unite with the lower lights little by little as they merge into the darks, with such sweetness and harmony, and with such masterly skill in the projection of the shadows, that the figures stand out from one another and bring each other into relief by means of the lights and shades. Such vigour, indeed, has this work, that it may be said to have been conceived and executed with more judgment and mastery than any that has ever been painted by any other master, however superior his judgment.

For S. Lorenzo, at the commission of Carlo Ginori, he painted a panel picture of the Marriage of Our Lady, which is held to be a most beautiful work. And, in truth, with regard to his facility of method, there has never been anyone who has been able to surpass him in masterly skill and dexterity, or even to approach within any distance of him; and he was so sweet in coloring, and varied his draperies with such grace, and took such delight in his art, that he was always held to be marvellous and worthy of the highest praise. Whosoever shall observe this work must recognize that all that I have written is most true, above all as he studies the nudes, which are very well conceived, with all the requirements of anatomy. His women are full of grace, and the draperies that adorn them fanciful and bizarre. He showed, also, the sense of fitness that is necessary in the heads of the old, with their harshness of features, and in those of women and children, with expressions sweet and pleasing. He was so rich in invention, that he never had any space left over in his pictures, and he executed all his work with such facility and grace, that it was a marvel.

For Giovanni Bandini, also, he painted a picture with some very beautiful nudes, representing the scene of Moses slaying the Egyptian, wherein were things worthy of the highest praise; and this was sent, I believe, into France. And for Giovanni Cavalcanti, likewise, he executed another, which went to England, of Jacob receiving water from the women at the well; this was held to be a divine work, seeing that it contained nudes and women wrought with supreme grace. For women, indeed, he always delighted to paint transparent pieces of drapery, headdresses with intertwined tresses, and ornaments for their persons.

While Rosso was engaged on this work, he was living in the Borgo de' Tintori, the rooms of which look out on the gardens of the Friars of S. Croce; and he took much pleasure in a great ape, which had the intelligence rather of a man than of a beast. For this reason he held it very dear, and loved it like his own self; and since it had a marvellous understanding, he made use of it for many kinds of service. It happened that this beast took a fancy to one of his assistants, by name Battistino, who was a young man of great beauty; and from the signs that his Battistino made to him he understood all that he wished to say. Now against the wall of the rooms at the back, which looked out upon the garden of the friars, was a pergola belonging to the Guardian, loaded with great Sancolombane grapes; and the young men used to let the ape down with a rope to the pergola, which was some distance from their window, and pull the beast up again with his hands full of grapes. The Guardian, finding his pergola stripped, but not knowing the culprit, suspected that it must be mice, and lay in hiding; and seeing Rosso's ape descending, he flew into a rage, seized a long pole, and rushed at him with hands uplifted in order to beat him. The ape, seeing that whether he went up or stayed where he was, the Guardian could reach him, began to spring about and destroy the pergola, and then, making as though to throw himself on the friar's back, seized with both his hands the outermost crossbeams which enclosed the pergola. Meanwhile the friar made play with his pole, and the ape, in his terror, shook the pergola to such purpose, and with such force, that he tore the stakes and rods out of their places, so that both pergola and ape fell headlong on the back of the friar, who shrieked for mercy. The rope was pulled up by Battistino and the others, who brought the ape back into the room safe and sound. Thereupon the Guardian, drawing off and planting himself on a terrace that he had there, said things not to be found in the Mass; and full of anger and resentment he went to the Council of Eight, a tribunal much feared in Florence. There he laid his complaint; and, Rosso having been summoned, the ape was condemned in jest to carry a weight fastened to his tail, to prevent him from jumping on pergole, as he did before. And so Rosso made a wooden cylinder swinging on a chain, and kept it on the ape, in such a way that he could go about the house but no longer jump about over other people's property. The ape, seeing himself condemned to such a punishment, seemed to guess that the friar was responsible. Every day, therefore, he exercised himself in hopping step by step with his legs, holding the weight with his hands; and thus, resting often, he succeeded in his design. For, being one day loose about the house, he hopped step by step from roof to roof, during the hour when the Guardian was away chanting Vespers, and came to the roof over his chamber. There, letting go the weight, he kept up for half an hour such a lovely dance, that not a single tile of any kind remained unbroken. Then he went back home; and within three days, when rain came, were heard the Guardian's lamentations.

Rosso, having finished his works, took the road to Rome with Battistino and the ape; in which city his works were sought for with extraordinary eagerness, great expectations having been awakened about them by the sight of some drawings executed by him, which were held to be marvellous, for Rosso drew divinely well and with the highest finish. There, in the Pace, over the pictures of Raffaello, he executed a work which is the worst that he ever painted in all his days. Nor can I imagine how this came to pass, save from a reason which has been seen not only in his case, but also in that of many others, and which appears to be an extraordinary thing, and one of the secrets of nature; and it is this, that he who changes his country or place of habitation seems to change his nature, talents, character, and personal habits, insomuch that sometimes he seems to be not the same man but another, and all dazed and stupefied. This may have happened to Rosso in the air of Rome, and on account of the stupendous works of architecture and sculpture that he saw there, and the paintings and statues of Michelagnolo, which may have thrown him off his balance; which works also drove Fra Bartolommeo di San Marco and Andrea del Sarto to flight, and prevented them from executing anything in Rome. Certain it is, be the cause what it may, that Rosso never did worse; and, what is more, this work has to bear comparison with those of Raffaello da Urbino.

At this time he painted for Bishop Tornabuoni, who was his friend, a picture of a Dead Christ supported by two angels, which was a most beautiful piece of work, and is now in the possession of the heirs of Monsignor della Casa. For Baviera he made drawings of all the Gods, for copper-plates, which were afterwards engraved by Jacopo Caraglio; one of them being Saturn changing himself into a horse, and the most noteworthy that of Pluto carrying off Proserpine. He executed a sketch for the Beheading of S. John the Baptist, which is now in a little church on the Piazza de' Salviati in Rome.

Meanwhile the sack of the city took place, and poor Rosso was taken prisoner by the Germans and used very ill, for, besides stripping him of his clothes, they made him carry weights on his back barefooted and with nothing on his head, and remove almost the whole stock from a cheesemonger's shop. Thus ill-treated by them, he escaped with difficulty to Perugia, where he was warmly welcomed and reclothed by the painter Domenico di Paris, for whom he drew the cartoon for a panel picture of the Magi, a very beautiful work, which is to be seen in the house of Domenico. But he did not stay long in that place, for, hearing that Bishop Tornabuoni, who was very much his friend, and had also fled from the sack, had gone to Borgo a San Sepolcro, he made his way thither.

There was living at that time in Borgo a San Sepolcro a pupil of Giulio Romano, the painter Raffaello dal Colle; and this master, having undertaken for a small price to paint a panel for S. Croce, the seat of a Company of Flagellants, in his native city, lovingly resigned the commission and gave it to Rosso, to the end that he might leave some example of his handiwork in that place. At this the Company showed resentment, but the Bishop gave him every facility; and when the picture, which brought him credit, was finished, it was set up in S. Croce. The Deposition from the Cross that it contains is something very rare and beautiful, because he rendered in the colors a certain effect of darkness to signify the eclipse that took place at Christ's death, and because it was executed with very great diligence.

Afterwards, at Citta' di Castello, he received the commission for a panel picture, on which he was about to set to work, when, as it was being primed with gesso, a roof fell upon it and broke it to pieces; while upon him there came a fever so violent, that he was like to die of it, on which account he had himself carried from Castello to Borgo a San Sepolcro. This malady being followed by a quartan fever, he then went on to the Pieve a San Stefano for a change of air, and finally to Arezzo, where he was entertained in the house of Benedetto Spadari, who so went to work with the help of Giovanni Antonio Lappoli of Arezzo and the many friends and relatives that they had, that Rosso was commissioned to paint in fresco a vault previously allotted to the painter Niccolo' Soggi, in the Madonna delle Lagrime. And so eager were they that he should leave such a memorial of himself in that city, that he was given a payment of three hundred crowns of gold. Whereupon Rosso began his cartoons in a room that they had allotted to him in a place called Murello; and there he finished four of them. In one he depicted our First Parents, bound to the Tree of the Fall, with Our Lady drawing from their mouths the Sin in the form of the Apple, and beneath her feet the Serpent; and in the air--wishing to signify that she was clothed with the sun and moon--he made nude figures of Phoebus and Diana. In the second is Moses bearing the Ark of the Covenant, represented by Our Lady surrounded by five Virtues. In another is the Throne of Solomon, also represented by the Madonna, to whom votive offerings are being brought, to signify those who have recourse to her for benefits: together with other bizarre fancies, which were conceived by the fruitful brain of M. Giovanni Pollastra, the friend of Rosso and a Canon of Arezzo, in compliment to whom Rosso made a most beautiful model of the whole work, which is now in my house at Arezzo. He also drew for that work a study of nude figures, which is a very choice thing; and it is a pity that it was never finished, for, if he had put it into execution and painted it in oils, instead of having to do it in fresco, it would indeed have been a miracle. But he was ever averse to working in fresco, and therefore went on delaying the execution of the cartoons, meaning to have the work carried out by Raffaello dal Borgo and others, so that in the end it was never done.

At that same time, being a courteous person, he made many designs for pictures and buildings in Arezzo and its neighborhood; among others, one for the Rectors of the Fraternity, of the chapel which is at the foot of the Piazza, wherein there is now the Volto Santo. For the same patrons he drew the design for a panel picture to be painted by his hand, containing a Madonna with a multitude under her cloak, which was to be set up in the same place; and this design, which was not put into execution, is in our book, together with many other most beautiful drawings by the hand of the same master.

But to return to the work that he was to execute in the Madonna delle Lagrime: there came forward as his security for this work Giovanni Antonio Lappoli of Arezzo, his most faithful friend, who gave him proofs of loving kindness with every sort of service. But in the year 1530, when Florence was being besieged, the Aretines, having been restored to liberty by the small judgment f Papo Altoviti, attacked the citadel and razed it to the ground. And because that people looked with little favour on Florentines, Rosso would not trust himself to them, and went off to Borgo a San Sepolcro, leaving the cartoons and designs for his work hidden away in the citadel.

Now those who had given him the commission for the panel at Castello, wished him to finish it; but he, on account of the illness that he had suffered at Castello, would not return to that city. He finished their panel, therefore, at Borgo a San Sepolcro; nor would he ever give them the pleasure of a glance at it. In it he depicted a multitude, with Christ in the sky being adored by four figures, and he painted Moors, Gypsies, and the strangest things in the world; but, with the exception of the figures, which are perfect in their excellence, the composition is concerned with anything rather than the wishes of those who ordered the picture of him. At the same time that he was engaged on that work, he disinterred dead bodies in the Vescovado, where he was living, and made a most beautiful anatomical model. Rosso was, in truth, an ardent student of all things relating to art, and few days passed without his drawing some nude from life.

He had always had the idea of finishing his life in France, and of thus delivering himself from that misery and poverty which are the lot of men who work in Tuscany, or in the country where they were born; and he resolved to depart. And with a view to appearing more competent in all matters, and to being ignorant of none, he had just learned the Latin tongue; when there came upon him a reason for further hastening his departure. For one Holy Thursday, on which day matins are chanted in the evening, one of his disciples, a young Aretine, being in church, made a blaze of sparks and flames with a lighted candle end and some resin, at the moment when the "darkness," as they call it, was in progress; and the boy was reproved by some priests, and even struck. Seeing this, Rosso, who had the boy seated at his side, sprang up full of anger against the priests. Thereupon an uproar began, without anyone knowing what it was all about, and swords were drawn against poor Rosso, who was busy with the priests. Taking to flight, therefore, he contrived to regain his own rooms without having been struck or overtaken by anyone. But he held himself to have been affronted; and having finished the panel for Castello, without troubling about his work at Arezzo or the wrong that he was doing to Giovanni Antonio, his security (for he had received more than a hundred and fifty crowns), he set off by night. Taking the road by Pesaro, he made his way to Venice, where, being entertained by Messer Pietro Aretino, he made for him a drawing, which was afterwards engraved, of Mars sleeping with Venus, with the Loves and Graces despoiling him and carrying off his cuirass. Departing from Venice, he found his way into France, where he was received by the Florentine colony with much affection. There he painted some pictures, which were afterwards placed in the Gallery at Fontainebleau; and these he then presented to King Francis, who took infinite pleasure in them, but much more in the presence, speech, and manner of Rosso, who was imposing in person, with red hair in accordance with his name, and serious, deliberate, and most judicious in his every action. The King, then, after straightway granting him an allowance of four hundred crowns, and giving him a house in Paris, which he occupied but seldom, because he lived most of the time at Fontainebleau, where he had rooms and lived like a nobleman, appointed him superintendent over all the buildings, pictures, and other ornaments of that place.

There, in the first place, Rosso made a beginning with a gallery over the lower court, which he completed not with a vault, but with a ceiling, or rather, soffit, of woodwork, partitioned most beautifully into compartments. The side-walls he decorated all over with stucco-work, fantastic and bizarre in its distribution, and with carved cornices of many kinds; and on the piers were lifesize figures. Everything below the cornices, between one pier and another, he adorned with festoons of stucco, vastly rich, and others painted, and all composed of most beautiful fruits and every sort of foliage. And then, in a large space, he caused to be painted after his own designs, if what I have heard is true, about twenty-four scenes in fresco, representing, I believe, the deeds of Alexander the Great; for which, as I have said, he made all the designs, executing them in chiaroscuro with watercolors. At the two ends of this gallery are two panel pictures in oils by his hand, designed and painted with such perfection, that there is little better to be seen in the art of painting. In one of these are a Bacchus and a Venus, executed with marvellous art and judgment. The Bacchus is a naked boy, so tender, soft, and delicate, that he seems to be truly of flesh, yielding to the touch, and rather alive than painted; and about him are some vases painted in imitation of gold, silver, crystal, and various precious stones, so fantastic, and surrounded by devices so many and so bizarre, that whoever beholds this work, with its vast variety of invention, stands in amazement before it. Among other details, also, is a Satyr raising part of a pavilion, whose head, in its strange, goatlike aspect, is a marvel of beauty, and all the more because he seems to be smiling and full of joy at the sight of so beautiful a boy. There is also a little boy riding on a wonderful bear, with many other ornaments full of grace and beauty. In the other picture are Cupid and Venus, with other lovely figures; but the figure to which Rosso gave the greatest attention was the Cupid, whom he represented as a boy of twelve, although well grown, riper in features than is expected at that age, and most beautiful in every part.

The King, seeing these works, and liking them vastly, conceived an extraordinary affection for Rosso; wherefore no long time passed before he gave him a Canonicate in the Sainte Chapelle of the M adonna at Paris, with so many other revenues and benefits, that Rosso lived like a nobleman, with a goodly number of servants and horses, giving banquets and showing all manner of courtesies to all his friends and acquaintances, especially to the Italian strangers who arrived in those parts.

After this, he executed another hall, which is called the Pavilion, because it is in the form of a Pavilion, being above the rooms on the first floor, and thus situated above any of the others. This apartment he decorated from the level of the floor to the roof with a great variety of beautiful ornaments in stucco, figures in the round distributed at equal intervals, and children, festoons, and various kinds of animals. In the compartments on the walls are seated figures in fresco, one in each; and such is their number, that there may be seen among them images of all the Heathen Gods and Goddesses of the ancients. Last of all, above the windows, is a frieze all adorned with stucco, and very rich, but without pictures.

He then executed a vast number of works in many chambers, bathrooms, and other apartments, both in stucco and in painting, of some of which drawings may be seen, executed in engraving and published abroad, which are full of grace and beauty; as are also the numberless designs that Rosso made for salt-cellars, vases, bowls, and other things of fancy, all of which the King afterwards caused to be executed in silver; but these were so numerous that it would take too long to mention them all. Let it be enough to say that he made designs for all the vessels of a sideboard for the King, and for all the details of the trappings of horses, triumphal masquerades, and everything else that it is possible to imagine, showing in these such fantastic and bizarre conceptions, that no one could do better.

In the year 1540, when the Emperor Charles V went to France under the safeguard of King Francis, and visited Fontainebleau, having with him not more than twelve men, Rosso executed one half of the decorations that the King ordained in order to honor that great Emperor, and the other half was executed by Francesco Primaticcio of Bologna. The works that Rosso made, such as arches, colossal figures, and other things of that kind, were, so it was said at the time, the most astounding that had ever been made by any man up to that age. But a great part of the rooms finished by Rosso at the aforesaid Palace of Fontainebleau were destroyed after his death by the same Francesco Primaticcio, who has made a new and larger structure in the same place.

Among those who worked with Rosso on the aforesaid decorations in stucco and relief, and beloved by him beyond all the others, were the Florentine Lorenzo Naldino, Maestro Francesco of Orleans, Maestro Simone of Paris, Maestro Claudio, likewise a Parisian, Maestro Lorenzo of Picardy, and many others. But the best of them all was Domenico del Barbieri, who is an excellent painter and master of stucco, and a marvellous draughtsman, as is proved by his engraved works, which may be numbered among the best in common circulation. The painters, likewise, whom he employed in those works at Fontainebleau, were Luca Penni, brother of Giovan Francesco Penni, called Il Fattore, who was a disciple of Raffaello da Urbino; the Fleming Leonardo, a very able painter, who executed the designs of Rosso to perfection in colours; Bartolommeo Miniati, a Florentine; with Francesco Caccianimici, and Giovan Battista da Bagnacavallo. These last entered his service when Francesco Primaticcio went by order of the King to Rome, to make moulds of the Laocoon, the Apollo, and many other choice antiquities, for the purpose of casting them afterwards in bronze. I say nothing of the carvers, the master-joiners, and innumerable others of whom Rosso availed himself in those works, because there is no need to speak of them all, although many of them executed works worthy of much praise.

In addition to the things mentioned above, Rosso executed with his own hand a S. Michael, which is a rare work. For the Constable he painted a panel picture of the Dead Christ, a choice thing, which is at a seat of that noble, called Ecouen; and he also executed some exquisite miniatures for the King. He then drew a book of anatomical studies, intending to have it printed in France; of which there are some sheets by his own hand in our book of drawings. Among his possessions, also, after he was dead, were found two very beautiful cartoons, in one of which is a Leda of singular beauty, and in the other the Tiburtine Sibyl showing to the Emperor Octavian the Glorious Virgin with the Infant Christ in her arms. In the latter he drew the King, the Queen, their Guard, and the people, with such a number of figures, and all so well drawn, that it may be said with truth that this was one of the most beautiful things that Rosso ever did.

By reason of these works and many others, of which nothing is known, he became so dear to the King, that a little before his death he found himself in possession of more than a thousand crowns of income, without counting the allowances for his work, which were enormous; insomuch that, living no longer as a painter, but rather as a prince, he kept a number of servants and horses to ride, and had his house filled with tapestries, silver, and other valuable articles of furniture. But Fortune, who never, or very seldom, maintains for long in high estate one who puts his trust too much in her, brought him headlong down in the strangest manner ever known. For while Francesco di Pellegrino, a Florentine, who delighted in painting and was very much his friend, was associating with him in the closest intimacy, Rosso was robbed of some hundreds of ducats; whereupon the latter, suspecting that no one but the same Francesco could have done this, had him arrested by the hands of justice, rigorously examined, and grievously tortured. But he, knowing himself innocent, and declaring nothing but the truth, was finally released; and, moved by just anger, he was forced to show his resentment against Rosso for the shameful charge that he had falsely laid upon him. Having therefore issued a writ for libel against him, he pressed him so closely, that Rosso, not being able to clear himself or make any defence, felt himself to be in a sorry plight, perceiving that he had not only accused his friend falsely, but had also stained his own honor; and to eat his words, or to adopt any other shameful method, would likewise proclaim him a false and worthless man. Resolving, therefore, to kill himself by his own hand rather than be punished by others, he took the following course. One day that the King happened to be at Fontainebleau, he sent a peasant to Paris for a certain most poisonous essence, pretending that he wished to use it for making colors or varnishes, but intending to poison himself, as he did. The peasant, then, returned with it; and such was the malignity of the poison, that, merely through holding his thumb over the mouth of the phial, carefully stopped as it was with wax, he came very near losing that member, which was consumed and almost eaten away by the deadly potency of the poison. And shortly afterwards it slew Rosso, although he was in perfect health, he having drunk it to the end that it might take his life, as it did in a few hours.

This news, being brought to the King, grieved him beyond measure, since it seemed to him that by the death of Rosso he had lost the most excellent craftsman of his day. However, to the end that the work might not suffer, he had it carried on by Francesco Primaticcio of Bologna, who, as has been related, had already done much work for him; giving him a good Abbey, even as he had presented a Canonicate to Rosso.

Rosso died in the year 1541, leaving great regrets behind him among his friends and brother-craftsmen, who have learned by his example what benefits may accrue from a prince to one who is eminent in every field of art, and well-mannered and gentle in all his actions, as was that master, who for many reasons deserved, and still deserves, to be admired as one truly most excellent.

 

 

 

BARTOLOMMEO DA BAGNACAVALLO and OTHERS
PAINTERS OF ROMAGNA

Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists






It is certain that the result of emulation in the arts, caused by a desire for glory, proves for the most part to be one worthy of praise; but when it happens that the aspirant, through presumption and arrogance, comes to hold an inflated opinion of himself, in course of time the name for excellence that he seeks may be seen to dissolve into mist and smoke, for the reason that there is no advance to perfection possible for him who knows not his own failings and has no fear of the work of others. More readily does hope mount towards proficience for those modest and studious spirits who, leading an upright life, honour the works of rare masters and imitate them with all diligence, than for those who have their heads full of smoky pride, as had Bartolommeo da Bagnacavallo, Amico of Bologna, Girolamo da Cotignola, and Innocenzio da Imola, painters all, who, living in Bologna at one and the same time, felt the greatest jealousy of one another that could possibly be imagined. And, what is more, their pride and vainglory, not being based on the foundation of ability, led them astray from the true path, which brings to immortality those who strive more from love of good work than from rivalry. This circumstance, then, was the reason that they did not crown the good beginnings that they had made with that final excellence which they expected; for their presuming to the name of masters turned them too far aside from the good way.

Bartolommeo da Bagnacavallo had come to Rome in the time of Raffaello, in order to attain with his works to that perfection which he believed himself to be already grasping with his intellect. And being a young man who had some fame at Bologna and had awakened expectations, he was set to execute a work in the Church of the Pace at Rome, in the first chapel on the right hand as one enters the church, above the chapel of Baldassarre Peruzzi of Siena. But, thinking that he had not achieved the success that he had promised himself, he returned to Bologna. There he and the others mentioned above, in competition one with another, executed each a scene from the Lives of Christ and His Mother in the Chapel of the Madonna in S. Petronio, near the door of the faćade, on the right hand as one enters the church; among which little difference in merit is to be seen between one and another. But Bartolommeo acquired from this work the reputation of having a manner both softer and stronger than the others; and although there is a vast number of strange things in the scene of Maestro Amico, in which he depicted the Resurrection of Christ with armed men in crouching and distorted attitudes, and many soldiers crushed flat by the stone of the Sepulchre, which has fallen upon them, nevertheless that of Bartolommeo, as having more unity of design and colouring, was more extolled by other craftsmen. On account of this Bartolommeo associated himself with Biagio Bolognese, a person with much more practice than excellence in art; and they executed in company at S. Salvatore, for the Frati Scopetini, a refectory which they painted partly in fresco and partly "a secco," containing the scene of Christ satisfying five thousand people with five loaves and two fishes. They painted, also, on a wall of the library, the Disputation of S. Augustine, wherein they made a passing good view in perspective. These masters, thanks to having seen the works of Raffaello and associated with him, had a certain quality which, upon the whole, gave promise of excellence, but in truth they did not attend as they should have done to the more subtle refinements of art. Yet, since there were no painters in Bologna at that time who knew more than they did, they were held by those who then governed the city, as well as by all the people, to be the best masters in Italy.

By the hand of Bartolommeo are some round pictures in fresco under the vaulting of the Palace of the Podestˆ, and a scene of the Visitation of S. Elizabeth in S. Vitale, opposite to the Palace of the Fantucci. In the Convent of the Servites at Bologna, round a panel picture of the Annunciation painted in oils, are some saints executed in fresco by Innocenzio da Imola. In S. Michele in Bosco Bartolommeo painted in fresco the Chapel of Ramazzotto, a faction-leader in Romagna. In a chapel in S. Stefano the same master painted two saints in fresco, with some little angels of considerable beauty in the sky; and in S. Jacopo, for Messer Annibale del Corello, a chapel in which he represented the Circumcision of Our Lord, with a number of figures, above which, in a lunette, he painted Abraham sacrificing his son to God. This work, in truth, was executed in a good and able manner. For the Misericordia, without Bologna, he painted a little panel picture in distemper of Our Lady and some saints; with many pictures and other works, which are in the hands of various persons in that city.

This master, in truth, was above mediocrity both in the uprightness of his life and in his works, and he was superior to the others in drawing and invention, as may be seen from a drawing in our book, wherein is Jesus Christ, as a boy, disputing with the Doctors in the Temple, with a building executed with good mastery and judgment. In the end, he finished his life at the age of fifty-eight.

He had always been much envied by Amico of Bologna, an eccentric man of extravagant brain, whose figures, executed by him throughout all Italy, but particularly in Bologna, where he spent most of his time, are equally eccentric and even mad, if one may say so. If, indeed, the vast labour which Amico devoted to drawing had been pursued with a settled object, and not by caprice, he might perchance have surpassed many whom we regard as rare and able men. And even so, such is the value of persistent labour, that it is not possible that out of a mass of work there should not be found some that is good and worthy of praise; and such, among the vast number of works that this master executed, is a faćade in chiaroscuro on the Piazza de' Marsigli, wherein are many historical pictures, with a frieze of animals fighting together, very spirited and well executed, which is almost the best work that he ever painted. He painted another faćade at the Porta di S. Mammolo, and a frieze round the principal chapel of S. Salvatore, so extravagant and so full of absurdities that it would provoke laughter in one who was on the verge of tears. In a word, there is no church or street in Bologna which has not some daub by the hand of this master.

In Rome, also, he painted not a little; and in S. Friano, at Lucca, he filled a chapel with inventions fantastic and bizarre, among which are some things worthy of praise, such as the stories of the Cross and some of S. Augustine. In these are innumerable portraits of distinguished persons of that city; and, to tell the truth, this was one of the best works that Maestro Amico ever executed with colours in fresco.

In S. Jacopo, at Bologna, he painted at the altar of S. Niccola some stories of the latter Saint, and below these a frieze with views in perspective, which deserve to be extolled. When the Emperor Charles V visited Bologna, Amico made a triumphal arch, for which Alfonso Lombardi executed statues in relief, at the gate of the Palace. And it is no marvel that the work of Amico revealed skill of hand rather than any other quality, for it is said that, like the eccentric and extraordinary person that he was, he went through all Italy drawing and copying every work of painting or relief, whether good or bad, on which account he became something of an adept in invention; and when he found anything likely to be useful to him, he laid his hands upon it eagerly, and then destroyed it, so that no one else might make use of it. The result of all this striving was that he acquired the strange, mad manner that we know.

Finally, having reached the age of seventy, what with his art and the eccentricity of his life, he became raving mad, at which Messer Francesco Guicciardini, a noble Florentine, and a most trustworthy writer of the history of his own times, who was then Governor of Bologna, found no small amusement, as did the whole city. Some people, however, believe that there was some method mixed with this madness of his, because, having sold some property for a small price while he was mad and in very great straits, he asked for it back again when he regained his sanity, and recovered it under certain conditions, since he had sold it, so he said, when he was mad. I do not swear, indeed, that this is true, for it may have been otherwise; but I do say that I have often heard the story told.

Amico also gave his attention to sculpture, and executed to the best of his ability, in marble, a Dead Christ with Nicodemus supporting Him. This work, which he treated in the manner seen in his pictures, is on the right within the entrance of the Church of S. Petronio. He used to paint with both hands at the same time, holding in one the brush with the bright colour, and in the other that with the dark. But the best joke of all was that he had his leather belt hung all round with little pots full of tempered colors, so that he looked like the Devil of S. Macario with all those flasks of his; and when he worked with his spectacles on his nose, he would have made the very stones laugh, and particularly when he began to chatter, for then he babbled enough for twenty, saying the strangest things in the world, and his whole demeanour was a comedy. Certain it is that he never used to speak well of any person, however able or good, and however well dowered he saw him to be by Nature or Fortune. And, as has been said, he so loved to chatter and tell stories, that one evening, at the hour of the Ave Maria, when a painter of Bologna, after buying cabbages in the Piazza, came upon Amico, the latter kept him under the Loggia del Podesta' with his talk and his amusing stories, without the poor man being able to break away from him, almost till daylight, when Amico said: "Now go and boil your cabbages, for the time is getting on."

He was the author of a vast number of other jokes and follies, of which I shall not make mention, because it is now time to say something of Girolamo da Cotignola. This master painted many pictures and portraits from life in Bologna, and among them are two in the house of the Vinacci, which are very beautiful. He made a portrait after death of Monsignore de Foix, who died in the rout of Ravenna, and not long after he executed a portrait of Massimiliano Sforza. For S. Giuseppe he painted a panel-picture which brought him much praise, and, for S. Michele in Bosco, the panel picture in oils which is in the Chapel of S. Benedetto. The latter work led to his executing, in company with Biagio Bolognese, all the scenes which are round that church, laid on in fresco and executed "a secco," wherein are seen proofs of no little mastery, as has been said in speaking of the manner of Biagio. The same Girolamo painted a large altarpiece for S. Colomba at Rimini, in competition with Benedetto da Ferrara and Lattanzio, in which work he made a S. Lucia rather wanton than beautiful. And in the great tribune of that church he executed a Coronation of Our Lady, with the twelve Apostles and the four Evangelists, with heads so gross and hideous that they are an outrage to the eye.

He then returned to Bologna, but had not been there long when he went to Rome, where he made portraits from life of many men of rank, and in particular that of Pope Paul III. But, perceiving that it was no place for him, and that he was not likely to acquire honour, profit, or fame among so many noble craftsmen, he went off to Naples, where he found some friends who showed him favor, and above all M. Tommaso Cambi, a Florentine merchant, and a devoted lover of pictures and antiquities in marble, by whom he was supplied with everything of which he was in need. Thereupon, setting to work, he executed a panel-picture of the Magi, in oils, for the chapel of one M. Antonello, Bishop of I know not what place, in Monte Oliveto, and another panel picture in oils for S. Aniello, containing the Madonna, S. Paul, and S. John the Baptist, with portraits from life for many noblemen.

Being now well advanced in years, he lived like a miser, and was always trying to save money; and after no long time, having little more to do in Naples, he returned to Rome. There some friends of his, having heard that he had saved a few crowns, persuaded him that he ought to get married and live a properly-regulated life. And so, thinking that he was doing well for himself, he let those friends deceive him so completely that they imposed upon him for a wife, to suit their own convenience, a prostitute whom they had been keeping. Then, after he had married her and come to a knowledge of her, the truth was revealed, at which the poor old man was so grieved that he died in a few weeks at the age of sixty-nine.

And now to say something of Innocenzio da Imola. This master was for many years in Florence with Mariotto Albertinelli; and then, having returned to Imola, he executed many works in that place. But finally, at the persuasion of Count Giovan Battista Bentivogli, he went to live in Bologna, where one of his first works was a copy of a picture formerly executed by Raffaello da Urbino for Signor Leonello da Carpi. And for the Monks of S. Michele in Bosco he painted in fresco, in their chapterhouse, the Death of Our Lady and the Resurrection of Christ, works which were executed with truly supreme diligence and finish. For the church of the same monks, also, he painted the panel of the high-altar, the upper part of which is done in a good manner. For the Servites of Bologna he executed an Annunciation on panel, and for S. Salvatore a Crucifixion, with many pictures of various kinds throughout the whole city. At the Viola, for the Cardinal of Ivrea, he painted three loggie in fresco, each containing two scenes, executed in colour from designs by other painters, and yet finished with much diligence. He painted in fresco a chapel in S. Jacopo, and for Madonna Benozza a panel-picture in oils, which was not otherwise than passing good. He made a portrait, also, besides many others, of Cardinal Francesco Alidosio, which I have seen at Imola, together with the portrait of Cardinal Bernardino Carvajal, and both are works of no little beauty.

Innocenzio was a very good and modest person, and therefore always avoided any dealings or intercourse with the painters of Bologna, who were quite the opposite in nature, and he was always exerting himself beyond the limits of his strength; wherefore, when he fell sick of a putrid fever at the age of fifty-six, it found him so weak and exhausted that it killed him in a few days. He left unfinished, or rather, scarcely begun, a work that he had undertaken without Bologna, and this was completed to perfection, according to the arrangement made by Innocenzio before his death, by Prospero Fontana, a painter of Bologna.

The works of all the above-named painters date from 1506 to 1542, and there are drawings by the hands of them all in our book.

 

 

 

FRANCIABIGIO ( 1484-1525)
PAINTER OF FLORENCE

Vasari's Lives of the Artists


The fatigues that a man endures in this life in order to raise himself from the ground and protect himself from poverty, succouring not only himself but also his nearest and dearest, have such virtue, that the sweat and the hardships become full of sweetness, and bring comfort and nourishment to the minds of others, insomuch that Heaven, in its bounty, perceiving one drawn to a good life and to upright conduct, and also filled with zeal and inclination for the studies of the sciences, is forced to be benign and favorably disposed towards him beyond its wont; as it was, in truth, towards the Florentine painter Francia. This master, having applied himself to the art of painting for a just and excellent reason, labored therein not so much out of a desire for fame as from a wish to bring assistance to his needy relatives; and having been born in a family of humble artisans, people of low degree, he sought to raise himself from that position. In this effort he was much spurred by his rivalry with Andrea del Sarto, then his companion, with whom for a long time he shared both workroom and the painter's life; on account of which life they made great proficience, one through the other, in the art of painting.

Francia learned the first principles of art in his youth by living for some months with Mariotto Albertinelli. And being much inclined to the study of perspective, at which he was always working out of pure delight, while still quite young he gained a reputation for great ability in Florence. The first works painted by him were a S. Bernard executed in fresco in S. Pancrazio, a church opposite to his own house, and a S. Catharine of Siena, executed likewise in fresco, on a pilaster in the Chapel of the Rucellai; whereby, exerting himself in that art, he gave proofs of his fine qualities. Much more, even, was he established in repute by a picture which is in a little chapel in S. Pietro Maggiore, containing Our Lady with the Child in her arms, and a little S. John caressing Jesus Christ. He also gave proof of his excellence in a shrine executed in fresco, in which he painted the Visitation of Our Lady, on a corner of the Church of S. Giobbe, behind the Servite Convent in Florence. In the figure of that Madonna may be seen a goodness truly appropriate, with profound reverence in that of the older woman; and the S. Job he painted poor and leprous, and also rich and restored to health. This work so revealed his powers that he came into credit and fame; whereupon the men who were the rulers of that church and brotherhood gave him the commission for the panel picture of their high altar, in which Francia acquitted himself even better; and in that work he painted a Madonna, and S. Job in poverty, and made a portrait of himself in the face of S. John the Baptist.

There was built at that time, in S. Spirito at Florence, the Chapel of S. Niccola, in which was placed a figure of that Saint in the round, carved in wood from the model by Jacopo Sansovino; and Francia painted two little angels in two square pictures in oils, one on either side of that figure, which were much extolled, and also depicted the Annunciation in two round pictures; and the predella he adorned with little figures representing the miracles of S. Nicholas, executed with such diligence that he deserves much praise for them. In S. Pietro Maggiore, by the door, and on the right hand as one enters the church, is an Annunciation by his hand, wherein he made the Angel still flying through the sky, and the Madonna receiving the Salutation on her knees, in a most graceful attitude; and he drew there a building in perspective, which was a masterly thing, and was much extolled. And, in truth, although Francia had a somewhat dainty manner, because he was very laborious and constrained in his work, nevertheless he showed great care and diligence in giving the true proportions of art to his figures.

He was commissioned to execute a scene in the cloister in front of the Church of the Servites, in competition with Andrea del Sarto; and there he painted the Marriage of Our Lady, wherein may be clearly recognized the supreme faith of Joseph, who shows in his face as much awe as joy at his marriage with her. Besides this, Francia painted there one who is giving him some blows, as is the custom in our own day, in memory of the wedding; and in a nude figure he expressed very happily the rage and disappointment that drive him to break his rod, which had not blossomed, the drawing of which, with many others, is in our book. In the company of Our Lady, also, he painted some women with most beautiful expressions and headdresses, things in which he always delighted. And in all this scene he did not paint a single thing that was not very well considered; as is, for example, a woman with a child in her arms, who, turning to go home, has cuffed another child, who has sat down in tears and refuses to go, pressing one hand against his face in a very graceful manner. Certain it is that he executed every detail in this scene, whether large or small, with much diligence and love, on account of the burning desire that he had to show therein to craftsmen and to all other good judges how great was his respect for the difficulties of art, and how successfully he could solve them by faithful imitation.

Not long after this, on the occasion of a festival, the friars wished that the scenes of Andrea, and likewise that of Francia, should be uncovered; and the night after Francia had finished his with the exception of the base, they were so rash and presumptuous as to uncover them, not thinking, in their ignorance of art, that Francia would want to retouch or otherwise change his figures. In the morning, both the painting of Francia and those of Andrea were open to view, and the news was brought to Francia that Andrea's works and his own had been uncovered; at which he felt such resentment, that he was like to die of it. Seized with anger against the friars on account of their presumption and the little respect that they had shown to him, he set off at his best speed and came up to the work; and then, climbing on to the staging, which had not yet been taken to pieces, although the painting had been uncovered, and seizing a mason's hammer that was there, he beat some of the women's heads to fragments, and destroyed that of the Madonna, and also tore almost completely away from the wall, plaster and all, a nude figure that is breaking a rod. Hearing the noise, the friars ran up, and, with the help of some laymen, seized his hands, to prevent him from destroying it completely. But, although in time they offered to give him double payment, he, on account of the hatred that he had conceived for them, would never restore it. By reason of the reverence felt by other painters both for him and for the work, they have refused to finish it; and so it remains, even in our own day, as a memorial of that event. This fresco is executed with such diligence and so much love, and it is so beautiful in its freshness, that Francia may be said to have worked better in fresco than any man of his time, and to have blended and harmonized his paintings in fresco better than any other, without needing to retouch the colors; wherefore he deserves to be much extolled both for this and for his other works.

At Rovezzano, without the Porta alla Croce, near Florence, he painted a shrine with a Christ on the Cross and some saints; and in S. Giovannino, at the Porta a S. Piero Gattolini, he executed a Last Supper of the Apostles in fresco.

No long time after, on the departure for France of the painter Andrea del Sarto, who had begun to paint the stories of S. John the Baptist in chiaroscuro in a cloister of the Company of the Scalzo at Florence, the men of that Company, desiring to have that work finished, engaged Francia, to the end that he, being an imitator of the manner of Andrea, might complete the paintings begun by the other. Thereupon Francia executed the decorations right round one part of that cloister, and finished two of the scenes, which he painted with great diligence. These are, first S. John the Baptist obtaining leave from his father Zacharias to go into the desert, and then the meeting of Christ and S. John on the way, with Joseph and Mary standing there and beholding them embrace one another. But more than this he did not do, on account of the return of Andrea, who then went on to finish the rest of the work.

With Ridolfo Ghirlandajo he prepared a most beautiful festival for the marriage of Duke Lorenzo, with two sets of scenery for the dramas that were performed, executing them with much method, masterly judgment, and grace; on account of which he acquired credit and favor with that Prince. This service was the reason that he received the commission for gilding the ceiling of the Hall of Poggio a Caiano, in company with Andrea di Cosimo. And afterwards, in competition with Andrea del Sarto and Jacopo da Pontormo, he began, on a wall in that hall, the scene of Cicero being carried in triumph by the citizens of Rome. This work had been undertaken by the liberality of Pope Leo, in memory of his father Lorenzo, who had caused the edifice to be built, and had ordained that it should be painted with scenes from ancient history and other ornaments according to his pleasure. And these had been entrusted by the learned historian, M. Paolo Giovio, Bishop of Nocera, who was then chief in authority near the person of Cardinal Giulio de' Medici, to Andrea del Sarto, Jacopo da Pontormo, and Franciabigio, that they might demonstrate the power and perfection of their art in the work, each receiving thirty crowns every month from the magnificent Ottaviano de' Medici. Thereupon Francia executed on his part, to say nothing of the beauty of the scene, some buildings in perspective, very well proportioned. But the work remained unfinished on account of the death of Leo; and afterwards, in the year 1532, it was begun again by Jacopo da Pontormo at the commission of Duke Alessandro de' Medici, but he lingered over it so long, that the Duke died and it was once more left unfinished.

But to return to Francia; so ardent was his love for the matters of art, that there was no summer day on which he did not draw some study of a nude figure from the life in his workroom, and to that end he always kept men in his pay. For S. Maria Nuova, at the request of Maestro Andrea Pasquali, an excellent physician of Florence, he executed an anatomical figure, in consequence of which he made a great advance in the art of painting, and pursued it ever afterwards with more zeal. He then painted in the Convent of S. Maria Novella, in the lunette over the door of the library, a S. Thomas confuting the heretics with his learning, a work which is executed with diligence and a good manner. There, among other details, are two children who serve to uphold an escutcheon in the ornamental border; and these are very fine, full of the greatest beauty and grace, and painted in a most lovely manner.

He also executed a picture with little figures for Giovanni Maria Benintendi, in competition with Jacopo da Pontormo, who painted another of the same size for that patron, containing the story of the Magi; and two others were painted by Francesco d' Albertino.[12] In his work Francia represented the scene of David seeing Bathsheba in her bath; and there he painted some women in a manner too smooth and dainty, and drew a building in perspective, wherein is David giving letters to the messengers, who are to carry them to the camp to the end that Uriah the Hittite may meet his death; and under a loggia he painted a royal banquet of great beauty. This work contributed greatly to the fame and honor of Francia, who, if he had much ability for large figures, had much more for little figures.

Francia also made many most beautiful portraits from life; one, in particular, for Matteo Sofferroni, who was very much his friend, and another for a countryman, the steward of Pier Francesco de' Medici at the Palace of S. Girolamo da Fiesole, which seems absolutely alive, with many others. And since he undertook any kind of work without being ashamed, so long as he was pursuing his art, he set his hand to whatever commission was given to him; wherefore, in addition to many works of the meanest kind, he painted a most beautiful "Noli me tangere" for the clothweaver Arcangelo, at the top of a tower that serves as a terrace, in Porta Rossa; with an endless number of other trivial works, executed by Francia because he was a person of sweet and kindly nature and very obliging, of which there is no need to say more.

This master loved to live in peace, and for that reason would never take a wife; and he was always repeating the trite proverb, "The fruits of a wife are cares and strife." He would never leave Florence, because, having seen some works by Raffaello da Urbino, and feeling that he was not equal to that great man and to many others of supreme renown, he did not wish to compete with craftsmen of such rare excellence. In truth, the greatest wisdom and prudence that a man can possess is to know himself, and to refrain from exalting himself beyond his true worth. And, finally, having acquired much by constant work, for one who was not endowed by nature with much boldness of invention or with any powers but those that he had gained by long study, he died in the year 1524 at the age of forty-two.

One of Francia's disciples was his brother Agnolo, who died after having painted a frieze that is in the cloister of S. Pancrazio, and a few other works. The same Agnolo painted for the perfumer Ciano, an eccentric man, but respected after his kind, a sign for his shop, containing a gipsy woman telling the fortune of a lady in a very graceful manner, which was the idea of Ciano, and not without mystic meaning. Another who learnt to paint from the same master was Antonio di Donnino Mazzieri, who was a bold draughtsman, and showed much invention in making horses and landscapes. He painted in chiaroscuro the cloister of S. Agostino at Monte Sansovino, executing therein scenes from the Old Testament, which were much extolled. In the Vescovado of Arezzo he painted the Chapel of S. Matteo, with a scene, among other things, showing that Saint baptizing a King, in which he made a portrait of a German, so good that it seems to be alive. For Francesco del Giocondo he executed the story of the Martyrs in a chapel behind the choir of the Servite Church in Florence; but in this he acquitted himself so badly, that he lost all his credit and was reduced to undertaking any sort of work.

Francia taught his art also to a young man named Visino, who, to judge from what we see of him, would have become an excellent painter, if he had not died young, as he did; and to many others, of whom I shall make no further mention. He was buried by the Company of S. Giobbe in S. Pancrazio, opposite to his own house, in the year 1525; and his death was truly a great grief to all good craftsmen, seeing that he had been a talented and skilful master, and very modest in his every action.

 

 

 

LIVES OF MORTO DA FELTRO and of ANDREA DI COSIMO FELTRINI
PAINTERS

Vasari's Lives of the Artists



The painter Morto da Feltro, who was as original in his life as he was in his brain and in the new fashion of grotesques that he made, which caused him to be held in great estimation, found his way as a young man to Rome at the time when Pinturicchio was painting the Papal apartments for Alexander VI, with the loggie and lower rooms in the Great Tower of the Castello di S. Angelo, and some of the upper apartments. He was a melancholy person, and was constantly studying the antiquities; and seeing among them sections of vaults and ranges of walls adorned with grotesques, he liked these so much that he never ceased from examining them. And so well did he grasp the methods of drawing foliage in the ancient manner, that he was second to no man of his time in that profession. He was never tired, indeed, of examining all that he could find below the ground in Rome in the way of ancient grottoes, with vaults innumerable. He spent many months in Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli, drawing all the pavements and grottoes that are there, both above ground and below. And hearing that at Pozzuolo, in the Kingdom of Naples, ten miles from the city, there were many walls covered with ancient grotesques, both executed in relief with stucco and painted, and said to be very beautiful, he devoted several months to studying them on the spot. Nor was he content until he had drawn every least thing in the Campana, an ancient road in that place, full of antique sepulchres; and he also drew many of the temples and grottoes, both above and below the ground, at Trullo, near the seashore. He went to Baia and Mercato di Sabbato, both places full of ruined buildings covered with scenes, searching out everything in such a manner that by means of his long and loving labour he grew vastly in power and knowledge of his art.

Having then returned to Rome, he worked there many months, giving his attention to figures, since he considered that in that part of his profession he was not the master that he was held to be in the execution of grotesques. And after he had conceived this desire, hearing the renown that Leonardo and Michelagnolo had in that art on account of the cartoons executed by them in Florence, he set out straightway to go to that city. But, after he had seen those works, he did not think himself able to make the same improvement that he had made in his first profession, and he went back, therefore, to work at his grotesques.

There was then living in Florence one Andrea di Cosimo Feltrini, a painter of that city, and a young man of much diligence, who received Morto into his house and entertained him with most affectionate attentions. Finding pleasure in the nature of Morto's art, Andrea also gave his mind to that vocation, and became an able master, being in time even more excellent than Morto, and much esteemed in Florence, as will be told later. And it was through Andrea that Morto came to paint for Piero Soderini, who was then Gonfalonier, decorations of grotesques in an apartment of the Palace, which were held to be very beautiful; but in our own day these have been destroyed in rearranging the apartments of Duke Cosimo, and repainted. For Maestro Valerio, a Servite friar, Morto decorated the empty space on a chairback, which was a most beautiful work; and for Agnolo Doni, likewise, in a chamber, he executed many pictures with a variety of bizarre grotesques. And since he also delighted in figures, he painted Our Lady in some round pictures, in order to see whether he could become as famous for them as he was (for his grotesques).

Then, having grown weary of staying in Florence, he betook himself to Venice; and attaching himself to Giorgione da Castelfranco, who was then painting the Fondaco de' Tedeschi, he set himself to assist him and executed the ornamentation of that work. And in this way he remained many months in that city, attracted by the sensuous pleasures and delights that he found there.

He then went to execute works in Friuli, but he had not been there long when, finding that the rulers of Venice were enlisting soldiers, he entered their service; and before he had had much experience of that calling he was made Captain of two hundred men. The army of the Venetians had advanced by that time to Zara in Sclavonia; and one day, when a brisk skirmish took place, Morto, desiring to win a greater name in that profession than he had gained in the art of painting, went bravely forward, and, after fighting in the melee, was left dead on the field, even as he had always been in name, at the age of forty-five. But in fame he will never be dead, because those who exercise their hands in the arts and produce everlasting works, leaving memorials of themselves after death, are destined never to suffer the death of their labors, for writers, in their gratitude, bear witness to their talents. Eagerly, therefore, should our craftsmen spur themselves on with incessant study to such a goal as will ensure them an undying name both through their own works and through the writings of others, since, by so doing, they will gain eternal life both for themselves and for the works that they leave behind them after death.

Morto restored the painting of grotesques in a manner more like the ancient than was achieved by any other painter, and for this he deserves infinite praise, in that it is after his example that they have been brought in our own day, by the hands of Giovanni da Udine and other craftsmen, to the great beauty and excellence that we see. For, although the said Giovanni and others have carried them to absolute perfection, it is none the less true that the chief praise is due to Morto, who was the first to bring them to light and to devote his whole attention to paintings of that kind, which are called grotesques because they were found for the most part in the grottoes of the ruins of Rome; besides which, every man knows that it is easy to make additions to anything once it has been discovered.

The painting of grotesques was continued in Florence by Andrea Feltrini, called Di Cosimo, because he was a disciple of Cosimo Rosselli in the study of figures (which he executed passing well), as he was afterwards of Morto in that of grotesques, of which we have spoken. In this kind of painting Andrea had from nature such power of invention and such grace that he was the first to make ornaments of greater grandeur, abundance, and richness than the ancient, and quite different in manner; and he gave them better order and cohesion, and enriched them with figures, such as are not seen in Rome or in any other place but Florence, where he executed a great number. In this respect there has never been any man who has surpassed him in excellence, as may be seen from the ornament and the predella painted with little grotesques in colour round the Pieta' that Pietro Perugino executed for the altar of the Serristori in S. Croce at Florence. These are heightened with various colours on a ground of red and black mixed together, and are wrought with much facility and with extraordinary boldness and grace.

Andrea introduced the practice of covering the faćades of houses and palaces with an intonaco of lime mixed with the black of ground charcoal, or rather, burnt straw, on which intonaco, when still fresh, he spread a layer of white plaster. Then, having drawn the grotesques, with such divisions as he desired, on some cartoons, he dusted them over the intonaco, and proceeded to scratch it with an iron tool, in such a way that his designs were traced over the whole faćade by that tool; after which, scraping away the white from the grounds of the grotesques, he went on to shade them or to hatch a good design upon them with the same iron tool. Finally, he went over the whole work, shading it with a liquid watercolor like water tinted with black. All this produces a very pleasing, rich, and beautiful effect; and there was an account of the method in the twenty-sixth chapter, dealing with sgraffiti, in the Treatise on Technique.

The first facades that Andrea executed in this manner were that of the Gondi, which is full of delicacy and grace, in Borg' Ognissanti, and that of Lanfredino Lanfredini, which is very ornate and rich in the variety of its compartments, on the Lungarno between the Ponte S. Trinita and the Ponte della Carraja, near S. Spirito. He also decorated in sgraffito the house of Andrea and Tommaso Sertini, near S. Michele in Piazza Padella, making it more varied and grander in manner than the two others. He painted in chiaroscuro the faćade of the Church of the Servite Friars, for which work he caused the painter Tommaso di Stefano to paint in two niches the Angel bringing the Annunciation to the Virgin; and in the court, where there are the stories of S. Filippo and of Our Lady painted by Andrea del Sarto, he executed between the two doors a very beautiful escutcheon of Pope Leo X. And on the occasion of the visit of that Pontiff to Florence he executed many beautiful ornaments in the form of grotesques on the facade of S. Maria del Fiore, for Jacopo Sansovino, who gave him his sister for wife. He executed the baldachin under which the Pope walked, covering the upper part with most beautiful grotesques, and the hangings round it with the arms of that Pope and other devices of the Church; and this baldachin was afterwards presented to the Church of S. Lorenzo in Florence, where it is still to be seen. He also decorated many standards and banners for the visit of Leo, and in honor of many who were made Chevaliers by that Pontiff and by other Princes, of which there are some hung up in various churches in that city.

Andrea, working constantly in the service of the house of Medici, assisted at the preparations for the wedding of Duke Giuliano and that of Duke Lorenzo, executing an abundance of various ornaments in the form of grotesques; and so, also, in the obsequies of those Princes. In all this he was largely employed by Franciabigio, Andrea del Sarto, Pontormo, and Ridolfo Ghirlandajo, and by Granaccio for triumphal processions and other festivals, since nothing good could be done without him. He was the best man that ever touched a brush, and, being timid by nature, he would never undertake any work on his own account, because he was afraid of exacting the money for his labors. He delighted to work the whole day long, and disliked annoyances of any kind; for which reason he associated himself with the gilder Mariotto di Francesco, one of the most able and skilful men at his work that ever existed in the world of art, very adroit in obtaining commissions, and most dexterous in exacting payments and doing business. This Mariotto also brought the gilder Raffaello di Biagio into the partnership, and the three worked together, sharing equally all the earnings of the commissions that they executed; and this association lasted until death parted them, Mariotto being the last to die.

To return to the works of Andrea; he decorated for Giovanni Maria Benintendi all the ceilings of his house, and executed the ornamentation of the ante-chambers, wherein are the scenes painted by Franciabigio and Jacopo da Pontormo. He went with Franciabigio to Poggio, and executed in terretta the ornaments for all the scenes there in such a way that there is nothing better to be seen. For the Chevalier Guidotti he decorated in sgraffito the faćade of his house in the Via Larga, and he also executed another of great beauty for Bartolommeo Panciatichi, on the house (now belonging to Ruberto de' Ricci) which he built on the Piazza degli Agli. Nor am I able to describe all the friezes, coffers, and strong-boxes, or the vast quantity of ceilings, which Andrea decorated with his own hand, for the whole city is full of these, and I must refrain from speaking of them. But I must mention the round escutcheons of various kinds that he made, for they were such that no wedding could take place without his having his workshop besieged by one citizen or another; nor could any kind of brocade, linen, or cloth of gold, with flowered patterns, ever be woven, without his making the designs for them, and that with so much variety, grace, and beauty, that he breathed spirit and life into all such things. If Andrea, indeed, had known his own value, he would have made a vast fortune; but it sufficed him to live in love with his art.

I must not omit to tell that in my youth, while in the service of Duke Alessandro de' Medici, I was commissioned, when Charles V came to Florence, to make the banners for the Castle, or rather, as it is called at the present day, the Citadel; and among these was a standard of crimson cloth, eighteen braccia wide at the staff and forty in length, and surrounded by borders of gold containing the devices of the Emperor Charles V and of the house of Medici, with the arms of his Majesty in the centre. For this work, in which were used forty-five thousand leaves of gold, I summoned to my assistance Andrea for the borders and Mariotto for the gilding; and many things did I learn from that good Andrea, so full of love and kindness for those who were studying art. And so great did the skill of Andrea then prove to be, that, besides availing myself of him for many details of the arches that were erected for the entry of his Majesty, I chose him as my companion, together with Tribolo, when Madama Margherita, daughter of Charles V, came to be married to Duke Alessandro, in making the festive preparations that I executed in the house of the Magnificent Ottaviano de' Medici on the Piazza di S. Marco, which was adorned with grotesques by his hand, with statues by the hand of Tribolo, and with figures and scenes by my hand. At the last he was much employed for the obsequies of Duke Alessandro, and even more for the marriage of Duke Cosimo, when all the devices in the courtyard, described by M. Francesco Giambullari, who wrote an account of the festivities of that wedding, were painted by Andrea with ornaments of great variety. And then Andrea--who, by reason of a melancholy humor which often oppressed him, was on many occasions on the point of taking his own life, but was observed so closely and guarded so well by his companion Mariotto that he lived to be an old man--finished the course of his life at the age of sixty-four, leaving behind him the name of a good and even rarely excellent master of grotesque-painting in our own times, wherein every succeeding craftsman has alalways imitated his manner, not only in Florence, but also in other places.

 

 

 

MARCO CALAVRESE
PAINTER

Vasari's Lives of the Artists




When the world possesses some great light in any science, every least part is illuminated by its
rays, some with greater brightness and some with less; and the miracles that result are also greater
or less according to differences of air and place. Constantly, in truth, do we see a particular
country producing a particular kind of intellect fitted for a particular kind of work, for which
others are not fitted, nor can they ever attain, whatever labors they may endure, to the goal of
supreme excellence. And if we marvel when we see growing in some province a fruit that has not been
wont to grow there, much more can we rejoice in a man of fine intellect when we find him in a
country where men of the same bent are not usually born. Thus it was with the painter Marco
Calavrese, who, leaving his own country, chose for his habitation the sweet and pleasant city of
Naples. He had been minded, indeed, on setting out, to make his way to Rome, and there to achieve
the end that rewards the student of painting; but the song of the Siren was so sweet to him, and
all the more because he delighted to play on the lute, and the soft waters of Sebeto so melted his
heart, that he remained a prisoner in body of that land until he rendered up his spirit to Heaven
and his mortal flesh to earth.

Marco executed innumerable works in oils and in fresco, and he proved himself more able than any
other man who was practising the same art in that country in his day. Of this we have proof in the
work that he executed at Aversa, ten miles distant from Naples; and, above all, in a panel picture
oils on the high-altar of the Church of S. Agostino, with a large ornamental frame, and various
pictures painted with scenes and figures, in which he represented S. Augustine disputing with the
heretics, with stories of Christ and Saints in various attitudes both above and at the sides. In
this work, which shows a manner full of harmony and drawing towards the good manner of our modern
works, may also be seen great beauty and facility of colouring; and it was one of the many labors
that he executed in that city and for various places in the kingdom.

Marco always lived a gay life, enjoying every minute to the full, for the reason that, having no
rivalry to contend with in painting from other craftsmen, he was always adored by the Neapolitan
nobles, and contrived to have himself rewarded for his works by ample payments. And so, having come
to the age of fifty-six, he ended his life after an ordinary illness.

He left a disciple in Giovan Filippo Crescione, a painter of Naples, who executed many pictures
in company with his brother-in-law, Leonardo Castellani, as he still does; but of these men, since
they are alive and in constant practice of their art, there is no need to make mention.

The pictures of Maestro Marco were executed by him between 1508 and 1542. He had a companion in
another Calabrian (whose name I do not know), who worked for a long time in Rome with Giovanni da
Udine and executed many works by himself in that city, particularly faćades in chiaroscuro. The same
Calabrian also painted in fresco the Chapel of the Conception in the Church of the Trinita', with
much skill and diligence.

At this same time lived Niccola, commonly called by everyone Maestro Cola dalla Matrice, who
executed many works in Calabria, at Ascoli, and at Norcia, which are very well known, and which
gained for him the name of a rare master--the best, indeed, that there had ever been in these parts.
And since he also gave his attention to architecture, all the buildings that were erected in his
day at Ascoli and throughout all that province had him as architect. Cola, without caring to see
Rome or to change his country, remained always at Ascoli, living happily for some time with his
wife, a woman of good and honorable family, and endowed with extraordinary nobility of spirit, as
was proved when the strife of parties arose at Ascoli, in the time of Pope Paul III. For then, while
she was flying with her husband, with many soldiers in pursuit, more on her account (for she was a
very beautiful young woman) than for any other reason, she resolved, not seeing any other way in
which she could save her own honor and the life of her husband, to throw herself from a high cliff
to the depth below. At which all the soldiers believed that she was not only mortally injured, but
dashed to pieces, as indeed she was; wherefore they left the husband without doing him any harm,
and returned to Ascoli. After the death of this extraordinary woman, worthy of eternal praise,
Maestro Cola passed the rest of his life with little happiness. A short time afterwards, Signor
Alessandro Vitelli, who had become Lord of Matrice,[14] took Maestro Cola, now an old man, to Citta'
di Castello, where he caused him to paint in his palace many works in fresco and many other
pictures; which works finished, Maestro Cola returned to finish his life at Matrice.

This master would have acquitted himself not otherwise than passing well, if he had practised his
art in places where rivalry and emulation might have made him attend with more study to painting,
and exercise the beautiful intellect with which it is evident that he was endowed by nature.

 

 

 

FRANCESCO MAZZUOLI [PARMIGIANINO]
PAINTER OF PARMA

Vasari's Lives of the Artists



Among the many natives of Lombardy who have been endowed with the gracious gift of design, with a lively spirit of invention, and with a particular manner of making beautiful landscapes in their pictures, we should rate as second to none, and even place before all the rest, Francesco Mazzuoli of Parma, who was bountifully endowed by Heaven with all those parts that are necessary to make a supreme painter, insomuch that he gave to his figures, in addition to what has been said of many others, a certain nobility, sweetness, and grace in the attitudes which belonged to him alone. To his heads, likewise, it is evident that he gave all the consideration that is needful; and his manner has therefore been studied and imitated by innumerable painters, because he shed on art a light of grace so pleasing, that his works will always be held in great price, and himself honored by all students of design. Would to God that he had always pursued the studies of painting, and had not sought to pry into the secrets of congealing mercury in order to become richer than Nature and Heaven had made him; for then he would have been without an equal, and truly unique in the art of painting, whereas, by searching for that which he could never find, he wasted his time, wronged his art, and did harm to his own life and fame.

Francesco was born at Parma in the year 1504, and because he lost his father when he was still a child of tender age, he was left to the care of two uncles, brothers of his father, and both painters, who brought him up with the greatest lovingness, teaching him all those praiseworthy ways that befit a Christian man and a good citizen. Then, having made some little growth, he had no sooner taken pen in hand in order to learn to write, than he began, spurred by Nature, who had consecrated him at his birth to design, to draw most marvellous things; and the master who was teaching him to write, noticing this and perceiving to what heights the genius of the boy might in time attain, persuaded his uncles to let him give his attention to design and painting. Whereupon, being men of good judgment in matters of art, although they were old and painters of no great fame, and recognizing that God and Nature had been the boy's first masters, they did not fail to take the greatest pains to make him learn to draw under the discipline of the best masters, to the end that he might acquire a good manner. And coming by degrees to believe that he had been born, so to speak, with brushes in his fingers, on the one hand they urged him on, and on the other, fearing lest overmuch study might perchance spoil his health, they would sometimes hold him back. Finally, having come to the age of sixteen, and having already done miracles of drawing, he painted a S. John baptizing Christ, of his own invention, on a panel, which he executed in such a manner that even now whoever sees it stands marvelling that such a work should have been painted so well by a boy. This picture was placed in the Nunziata, the seat of the Frati de' Zoccoli at Parma. Not content with this, however, Francesco resolved to try his hand at working in fresco, and therefore painted a chapel in S. Giovanni Evangelista, a house of Black Friars of S. Benedict; and since he succeeded in that kind of work, he painted as many as seven.

But about that time Pope Leo X sent Signor Prospero Colonna with an army to Parma, and the uncles of Francesco, fearing that he might perchance lose time or be distracted, sent him in company with his cousin, Girolamo Mazzuoli, another boy-painter, to Viadana, a place belonging to the Duke of Mantua, where they lived all the time that the war lasted; and there Francesco painted two panels in distemper. One of these, in which are S. Francis receiving the Stigmata, and S. Chiara, was placed in the Church of the Frati de' Zoccoli; and the other, which contains a Marriage of S. Catharine, with many figures, was placed in S. Piero. And let no one believe that these are works of a young beginner, for they seem to be rather by the hand of a full-grown master.

The war finished, Francesco, having returned with his cousin to Parma, first completed some pictures that he had left unfinished at his departure, which are in the hands of various people. After this he painted a panel picture in oils of Our Lady with the Child in her arms, with S. Jerome on one side and the Blessed Bernardino da Feltro on the other, and in the head of one of these figures he made a portrait of the patron of the picture, which is so wonderful that it lacks nothing save the breath of life. All these works he executed before he had reached the age of nineteen.

Then, having conceived a desire to see Rome, like one who was on the path of progress and heard much praise given to the works of good masters, and particularly to those of Raffaello and Michelagnolo, he spoke out his mind and desire to his old uncles, who, thinking that such a wish was not otherwise than worthy of praise, said that they were content that he should go, but that it would be well for him to take with him some work by his own hand, which might serve to introduce him to the noblemen of that city and to the craftsmen of his profession. This advice was not displeasing to Francesco, and he painted three pictures, two small and one of some size, representing in the last the Child in the arms of the Madonna, taking some fruits from the lap of an Angel, and an old man with his arms covered with hair, executed with art and judgment, and pleasing in colur. Besides this, in order to investigate the subtleties of art, he set himself one day to make his own portrait, looking at himself in a convex barber's mirror. And in doing this, perceiving the bizarre effects produced by the roundness of the mirror, which twists the beams of a ceiling into strange curves, and makes the doors and other parts of buildings recede in an extraordinary manner, the idea came to him to amuse himself by counterfeiting everything. Thereupon he had a ball of wood made by a turner, and, dividing it in half so as to make it the same in size and shape as the mirror, set to work to counterfeit on it with supreme art all that he saw in the glass, and particularly his own self, which he did with such lifelike reality as could not be imagined or believed. Now everything that is near the mirror is magnified, and all that is at a distance is diminished, and thus he made the hand engaged in drawing somewhat large, as the mirror showed it, and so marvellous that it seemed to be his very own. And since Francesco had an air of great beauty, with a face and aspect full of grace, in the likeness rather of an angel than of a man, his image on that ball had the appearance of a thing divine. So happily, indeed, did he succeed in the whole of this work, that the painting was no less real than the reality, and in it were seen the lustre of the glass, the reflection of every detail, and the lights and shadows, all so true and natural, that nothing more could have been looked for from the brain of man.

Having finished these works, which were held by his old uncles to be out of the ordinary, and even considered by many other good judges of art to be miracles of beauty, and having packed up both pictures and portrait, he made his way to Rome, accompanied by one of the uncles. There, after the Datary had seen the pictures and appraised them at their true worth, the young man and his uncle were straightway introduced to Pope Clement, who, seeing the works and the youthfulness of Francesco, was struck with astonishment, and with him all his Court. And afterwards his Holiness, having first shown him much favour, said that he wished to commission him to paint the Hall of the Popes, in which Giovanni da Udine had already decorated all the ceiling with stucco-work and painting. And so, after presenting his pictures to the Pope, and receiving various gifts and marks of favour in addition to his promises, Francesco, spurred by the praise and glory that he heard bestowed upon him, and by the hope of the profit that he might expect from so great a Pontiff, painted a most beautiful picture of the Circumcision, which was held to be extraordinary in invention on account of three most fanciful lights that shone in the work; for the first figures were illuminated by the radiance of the countenance of Christ, the second received their light from others who were walking up some steps with burning torches in their hands, bringing offerings for the sacrifice, and the last were revealed and illuminated by the light of the dawn, which played upon a most lovely landscape with a vast number of buildings. This picture finished, he presented it to the Pope, who did not do with it what he had done with the others; for he had given the picture of Our Lady to Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici, his nephew, and the mirror-portrait to Messer Pietro Aretino, the poet, who was in his service, but the picture of the Circumcision he kept for himself; and it is believed that it came in time into the possession of the Emperor. The mirror-portrait I remember to have seen, when quite a young man, in the house of the same Messer Pietro Aretino at Arezzo, where it was sought out as a choice work by the strangers passing through that city. Afterwards it fell, I know not how, into the hands of Valerio Vicentino, the crystal engraver, and it is now in the possession of Alessandro Vittoria, a sculptor in Venice, the disciple of Jacopo Sansovino.

But to return to Francesco; while studying in Rome, he set himself to examine all the ancient and modern works, both of sculpture and of painting, that were in that city, but held those of Michelagnolo Buonarroti and Raffaello da Urbino in supreme veneration beyond all the others; and it was said afterwards that the spirit of that Raffaello had passed into the body of Francesco, when men saw how excellent the young man was in art, and how gentle and gracious in his ways, as was Raffaello, and above all when it became known how much Francesco strove to imitate him in everything, and particularly in painting. Nor was this study in vain, for many little pictures that he painted in Rome, the greater part of which afterwards came into the hands of Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici, were truly marvellous; and even such is a round picture with a very beautiful Annunciation, executed by him for Messer Agnolo Cesis, which is now treasured as a rare work in the house of that family. He painted a picture, likewise, of the Madonna with Christ, some Angels, and a S. Joseph, which are beautiful to a marvel on account of the expressions of the heads, the colouring, and the grace and diligence with which they are seen to have been executed. This work was formerly in the possession of Luigi Gaddi, and it must now be in the hands of his heirs.

Hearing the fame of this master, Signor Lorenzo Cibo, Captain of the Papal Guard, and a very handsome man, had a portrait of himself painted by Francesco, who may be said to have made, not a portrait, but a living figure of flesh and blood. Having then been commissioned to paint for Madonna Maria Bufolini of Citta' di Castello a panel picture which was to be placed in S. Salvatore del Lauro, in a chapel near the door, Francesco painted in it a Madonna in the sky, who is reading and has the Child between her knees, and on the earth he made a figure of S. John, kneeling on one knee in an attitude of extraordinary beauty, turning his body, and pointing to the Infant Christ; and ying asleep on the ground, in foreshortening, is a S. Jerome in Penitence.

But he was prevented from bringing this work to completion by the ruin and sack of Rome in 1527, which was the reason not only that the arts were banished for a time, but also that many craftsmen lost their lives. And Francesco, also, came within a hair's breadth of losing his, seeing that at the beginning of the sack he was so intent on his work, that, when the soldiers were entering the houses, and some Germans were already in his, he did not move from his painting for all the uproar that they were making; but when they came upon him and saw him working, they were so struck with astonishment at the work, that, like the gentlemen that they must have been, they let him go on. And thus, while the impious cruelty of those barbarous hordes was ruining the unhappy city and all its treasures, both sacred and profane, without showing respect to either God or man, Francesco was provided for and greatly honoured by those Germans, and protected from all injury. All the hardship that he suffered at that time was this, that he was forced, one of them being a great lover of painting, to make a vast number of drawings in water-colours and with the pen, which formed the payment of his ransom. But afterwards, when these soldiers changed their quarters, Francesco nearly came to an evil end, because, going to look for some friends, he was made prisoner by other soldiers and compelled to pay as ransom some few crowns that he possessed. Wherefore his uncle, grieved by that and by the fact that this disaster had robbed Francesco of his hopes of acquiring knowledge, honor, and profit, and seeing Rome almost wholly in ruins and the Pope the prisoner of the Spaniards, determined to take him back to Parma. And so he set Francesco on his way to his native city, but himself remained for some days in Rome, where he deposited the panel-picture painted for Madonna Maria Bufolini with the Friars of the Pace, in whose refectory it remained for many years, until finally it was taken by Messer Giulio Bufolini to the church of his family in Cittň† di Castello.

Having arrived in Bologna, and finding entertainment with many friends, and particularly in the house of his most intimate friend, a saddler of Parma, Francesco stayed some months in that city, where the life pleased him, during which time he had some works engraved and printed in chiaroscuro, among others the Beheading of S. Peter and S. Paul, and a large figure of Diogenes. He also prepared many others, in order to have them engraved on copper and printed, having with him for this purpose one Maestro Antonio da Trento; but he did not carry this intention into effect at the time, because he was forced to set his hand to executing many pictures and other works for gentlemen of Bologna. The first picture by his hand that was seen at Bologna was a S. Rocco of great size in the Chapel of the Monsignori in S. Petronio; to which Saint he gave a marvellous aspect, making him very beautiful in every part, and conceiving him as somewhat relieved from the pain that the plague-sore in the thigh gave him, which he shows by looking with uplifted head towards Heaven in the act of thanking God, as good men do in spite of the adversities that fall upon them. This work he executed for one Fabrizio da Milano, of whom he painted a portrait from the waist upwards in the picture, with the hands clasped, which seems to be alive; and equally real, also, seems a dog that is there, with some landscapes which are very beautiful, Francesco being particularly excellent in this respect.

He then painted for Albio, a physician of Parma, a Conversion of S. Paul, with many figures and a landscape, which was a very choice work. And for his friend the saddler he executed another picture of extraordinary beauty, containing a Madonna turned to one side in a lovely attitude, and several other figures. He also painted a picture for Count Giorgio Manzuoli, and two canvases n gouache, with some little figures, all graceful and well executed, for Maestro Luca dai Leuti.

One morning about this time, while Francesco was still in bed, the aforesaid Antonio da Trento, who was living with him as his engraver, opened a strong box and robbed him of all the copper-plate engravings, woodcuts, and drawings that he possessed; and he must have gone off to the Devil, for all the news that was ever heard of him. The engravings and woodcuts, indeed, Francesco recovered, for Antonio had left them with a friend in Bologna, perchance with the intention of reclaiming them at his convenience; but the drawings he was never able to get back. Driven almost out of his mind by this, he returned to his painting, and made a portrait, for the sake of money, of I know not what Count of Bologna. After that he painted a picture of Our Lady, with a Christ who is holding a globe of the world. The Madonna has a most beautiful expression, and the Child is also very natural; for he always gave to the faces of children a vivacious and truly childlike air, which yet reveals that subtle and mischievous spirit that children often have. And he attired the Madonna in a very unusual fashion, clothing her in a garment that had sleeves of yellowish gauze, striped, as it were, with gold, which gave a truly beautiful and graceful effect, revealing the flesh in a natural and delicate manner; besides which, the hair is painted so well that there is none better to be seen. This picture was painted for Messer Pietro Aretino, but Francesco gave it to Pope Clement, who came to Bologna at that time; then, in some way of which I know nothing, it fell into the hands of Messer Dionigi Gianni, and it now belongs to his son, Messer Bartolommeo, who has been so accommodating with it that it has been copied fifty times, so much is it prized.

The same master painted for the Nuns of S. Margherita, in Bologna, a panel-picture containing a Madonna, S. Margaret, S. Petronio, S. Jerome, and S. Michael, which is held in vast veneration, as it deserves, since in the expressions of the heads and in every other part it is as fine as all the other works of this painter. He made many drawings, likewise, and in particular some for Girolamo del Lino, and some for Girolamo Fagiuoli, a goldsmith and engraver, who desired them for engraving on copper; and these drawings are held to be full of grace. For Bonifazio Gozzadino he painted his portrait from life, with one of his wife, which remained unfinished. He also began a picture of Our Lady, which was afterwards sold in Bologna to Giorgio Vasari of Arezzo, who has it in the new house built by himself at Arezzo, together with many other noble pictures, works of sculpture, and ancient marbles.

When the Emperor Charles V was at Bologna to be crowned by Clement VII, Francesco, who went several times to see him at table, but without drawing his portrait, made a likeness of that Emperor in a very large picture in oils, wherein he painted Fame crowning him with laurel, and a boy in the form of a little Hercules offering him a globe of the world, giving him, as it were, the dominion over it. This work, when finished, he showed to Pope Clement, who was so pleased with it that he sent it and Francesco together, accompanied by the Bishop of Vasona, then Datary, to the Emperor; at which his Majesty, to whom it gave much satisfaction, hinted that it should be left with him. But Francesco, being ill advised by an insincere or injudicious friend, refused to leave it, saying that it was not finished; and so his Majesty did not have it, and Francesco was not rewarded for it, as he certainly would have been. This picture, having afterwards fallen into the hands of Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici, was presented by him to the Cardinal of Mantua; and it is now in the guardaroba of the Duke of that city, with many other most noble and beautiful pictures.

After having been so many years out of his native place, as we have related, during which he had gained much experience in art, without accumulating any store of riches, but only of friends, Francesco, in order to satisfy his many friends and relatives, finally returned to Parma. Arriving there, he was straightway commissioned to paint in fresco a vault of some size in the Church of S. Maria della Steccata; but since in front of that vault there was a flat arch which followed the curve of the vaulting, making a sort of facade, he set to work first on the arch, as being the easier, and painted therein six very beautiful figures, two in color and four in chiaroscuro. Between one figure and another he made some most beautiful ornaments, surrounding certain rosettes in relief, which he took it into his head to execute by himself in copper, taking extraordinary pains over them.

At this same time he painted for the Chevalier Baiardo, a gentleman of Parma and his intimate friend, a picture of a Cupid, who is fashioning a bow with his own hand, and at his feet are seated two little boys, one of whom catches the other by the arm and laughingly urges him to touch Cupid with his finger, but he will not touch him, and shows by his tears that he is afraid of burning himself at the fire of Love. This picture, which is charming in color, ingenious in invention, and executed in that graceful manner of Francesco's that has been much studied and imitated, as it still is, by craftsmen and by all who delight in art, is now in the study of Signor Marc' Antonio Cavalca, heir to the Chevalier Baiardo, together with many drawings of every kind by the hand of the same master, all most beautiful and highly finished, which he has collected. Even such are the many drawings, also by the hand of Francesco, that are in our book; and particularly that of the Beheading of S. Peter and S. Paul, of which, as has been related, he published copper-plate engravings and woodcuts, while living in Bologna. For the Church of S. Maria de' Servi he painted a panel-picture of Our Lady with the Child asleep in her arms, and on one side some Angels, one of whom has in his arms an urn of crystal, wherein there glitters a Cross, at which the Madonna gazes in contemplation. This work remained unfinished, because he was not well contented with it; and yet it is much extolled, and a good example of his manner, so full of grace and beauty.

Meanwhile Francesco began to abandon the work of the Steccata, or at least to carry it on so slowly that it was evident that he was not in earnest. And this happened because he had begun to study the problems of alchemy, and had quite deserted his profession of painting, thinking that he would become rich quicker by congealing mercury. Wherefore, wearing out his brain, but not in imagining beautiful inventions and executing them with brushes and colour-mixtures, he wasted his whole time in handling charcoal, wood, glass vessels, and other suchlike trumperies, which made him spend more in one day than he earned by a week's work at the Chapel of the Steccata. Having no other means of livelihood, and being yet compelled to live, he was wasting himself away little by little with those furnaces; and what was worse, the men of the Company of the Steccata, perceiving that he had completely abandoned the work, and having perchance paid him more than his due, as is often done, brought a suit against him. Thereupon, thinking it better to withdraw, he fled by night with some friends to Casal Maggiore. And there, having dispersed a little of the alchemy out of his head, he painted a panel-picture for the Church of S. Stefano, of Our Lady in the sky, with S. John the Baptist and S. Stephen below. Afterwards he executed a picture, the last that he ever painted, of the Roman Lucretia, which was a thing divine and one of the best that were ever seen by his hand; but it has disappeared, however that may have happened, so that no one knows where it is.

By his hand, also, is a picture of some nymphs, which is now in the house of Messer Niccolo' Bufolini at Cittň† di Castello, and a child's cradle, which was painted for Signora Angiola de' Rossi of Parma, wife of Signor Alessandro Vitelli, and is likewise at Citta' di Castello.

In the end, having his mind still set on his alchemy, like every other man who has once grown crazed over it, and changing from a dainty and gentle person into an almost savage man with long and unkempt beard and locks, a creature quite different from his other self, Francesco went from bad to worse, became melancholy and eccentric, and was assailed by a grievous fever and a cruel flux, which in a few days caused him to pass to a better life. And in this way he found an end to the troubles of this world, which was never known to him save as a place full of annoyances and cares. He wished to be laid to rest in the Church of the Servite Friars, called La Fontana, one mile distant from Casal Maggiore; and he was buried naked, as he had directed, with a cross of cypress upright on his breast. He finished the course of his life on the 24th of August, in the year 1540, to the great loss of art on account of the singular grace that his hands gave to the pictures that he painted.

Francesco delighted to play on the lute, and had a hand and a genius so well suited to it that he was no less excellent in this than in painting. It is certain that if he had not worked by caprice, and had laid aside the follies of the alchemists, he would have been without a doubt one of the rarest and most excellent painters of our age. I do not deny that working at moments of fever heat, and when one feels inclined, may be the best plan. But I do blame a man for working little or not at all, and for wasting all his time over cogitations, seeing that the wish to arrive by trickery at a goal to which one cannot attain, often brings it about that one loses what one knows in seeking after that which it is not given to us to know. If Francesco, who had from nature a spirit of great vivacity, with a beautiful and graceful manner, had persisted in working every day, little by little he would have made such proficience in art, that, even as he gave a beautiful, gracious, and most charming expression to his heads, so he would have surpassed his own self and the others in the solidity and perfect excellence of his drawing.

He left behind him his cousin Girolamo Mazzuoli, who, with great credit to himself, always imitated his manner, as is proved by the works by his hand that are in Parma. At Viadana, also, whither he fled with Francesco on account of the war, he painted, young as he was, a very beautiful Annunciation on a little panel for S. Francesco, a seat of the Frati de' Zoccoli; and he painted another for S. Maria ne' Borghi. For the Conventual Friars of S. Francis at Parma he executed the panel-picture of their high-altar, containing Joachim being driven from the Temple, with many figures. And for S. Alessandro, a convent of nuns in that city, he painted a panel with the Madonna in Heaven, the Infant Christ presenting a palm to S. Giustina, and some Angels drawing back a piece of drapery, with S. Alexander the Pope and S. Benedict. For the Church of the Carmelite Friars he painted the panel-picture of their high-altar, which is very beautiful, and for S. Sepolcro another panel-picture of some size. In S. Giovanni Evangelista, a church of nuns in the same city, are two panel-pictures by the hand of Girolamo, of no little beauty, but not equal to the doors of the organ or to the picture of the high altar, in which is a most beautiful Transfiguration, executed with much diligence. The same master has painted a perspective-view in fresco in the refectory of those nuns, with a picture in oils of the Last Supper of Christ with the Apostles, and fresco-paintings in the Chapel of the High-Altar in the Duomo. And for Madama Margherita of Austria, Duchess of Parma, he has made a portrait of the Prince Don Alessandro, her s on, in full armour, with his sword over a globe of the world, and an armed figure of Parma kneeling before him.

In a chapel of the Steccata, at Parma, he has painted in fresco the Apostles receiving the Holy Spirit, and on an arch similar to that which his cousin Francesco painted he has executed six Sibyls, two in colour and four in chiaroscuro; while in a niche opposite to that arch he has painted the Nativity of Christ, with the Shepherds adoring Him, which is a very beautiful picture, although it was left not quite finished. For the high altar of the Certosa, without Parma, he has painted a panel-picture with the three Magi; a panel for S. Piero, an abbey of Monks of S. Bernard, at Pavia; another for the Duomo of Mantua, at the commission of the Cardinal; and yet another panel for S. Giovanni in the same city, containing a Christ in a glory of light, surrounded by the Apostles, with S. John, of whom He appears to be saying, "Sic eum volo manere," etc.; while round this panel, in six large pictures, are the miracles of the same S. John the Evangelist.

In the Church of the Frati Zoccolanti, on the left hand, there is a large panel picture of the Conversion of S. Paul, a very beautiful work, by the hand of the same man. And for the high altar of S. Benedetto in Pollirone, a place twelve miles distant from Mantua, he has executed a panel picture of Christ in the Manger being adored by the Shepherds, with Angels singing. He has also painted--but I do not know exactly at what time--a most beautiful picture of five Loves, one of whom is sleeping, and the others are despoiling him, one taking away his bow, another his arrows, and the others his torch, which picture belongs to the Lord Duke Ottavio, who holds it in great account by reason of the excellence of Girolamo. This master has in no way fallen short of the standard of his cousin Francesco, being a fine painter, gentle and courteous beyond belief; and since he is still alive, there are seen issuing from his brush other works of rare beauty, which he has constantly in hand.

A close friend of the aforesaid Francesco Mazzuoli was Messer Vincenzio Caccianimici, a gentleman of Bologna, who painted and strove to the best of his power to imitate the manner of Francesco. This Vincenzio was a very good colorist, so that the works which he executed for his own pleasure, or to present to his friends and various noblemen, are truly well worthy of praise; and such, in particular, is a panel-picture in oils, containing the Beheading of S. John the Baptist, which is in the chapel of his family in S. Petronio. This talented gentleman, by whose hand are some very beautiful drawings in our book, died in the year 1542.

 

 

 

LIVES OF JACOPO PALMA [PALMA VECCHIO]
and LORENZO LOTTO
PAINTERS OF VENICE

Vasari's Lives of the Artists



SO POTENT ARE MASTERY AND EXCELLENCE, even when seen in only one or two works executed to perfection by a man in the art that he practises, that, no matter how small these may be, craftsmen and judges of art are forced to extol them, and writers are compelled to celebrate them and to give praise to the craftsman who has made them; even as we are now about to do for the Venetian Palma. This master, although not very eminent, nor remarkable for perfection of painting, was nevertheless so careful and diligent, and subjected himself so zealously to the labours of art, that a certain proportion of his works, if not all, have something good in them, in that they are close imitations of life and of the natural appearance of men.

Palma was much more remarkable for his patience in harmonizing and blending colors than for boldness of design, and he handled color with extraordinary grace and finish. This may be seen in Venice from many pictures and portraits that he executed for various gentlemen; but of these I shall say nothing more, since I propose to content myself with making mention of some altarpieces and of a head that I hold to be marvellous, or rather, divine. One of the altarpieces he painted for S. Antonio, near Castello, at Venice, and another for S. Elena, near the Lido, where the Monks of Monte Oliveto have their monastery. In the latter, which is on the high altar of that church, he painted the Magi presenting their offerings to Christ, with a good number of figures, among which are some heads truly worthy of praise, as also are the draperies, executed with a beautiful flow of folds, which cover the figures. Palma also painted a lifesize S. Barbara for the altar of the Bombardieri in the Church of S. Maria Formosa, with two smaller figures at the sides, S. Sebastian and S. Anthony; and the S. Barbara is one of the best figures that this painter ever executed. The same master also executed another altarpiece, in which is a Madonna in the sky, with S. John below, for the Church of S. Moise', near the Piazza di S. Marco. In addition to this, Palma painted a most beautiful scene for the hall wherein the men of the Scuola of S. Marco assemble, on the Piazza di SS. Giovanni e Paolo, in emulation of those already executed by Giovanni Bellini, Giovanni Mansueti, and other painters.

In this scene is depicted a ship which is bringing the body of S. Mark to Venice; and there may be seen counterfeited by Palma a terrible tempest on the sea, and some barques tossed and shaken by the fury of the winds, all executed with much judgment and thoughtful care. The same may be said of a group of figures in the air, and of the demons in various forms who are blowing, after the manner of winds, against the barques, which, driven by oars, and striving in various ways to break through the dangers of the towering waves, are like to sink. In short, to tell the truth, this work is of such a kind, and so beautiful in invention and in other respects, that it seems almost impossible that brushes and colors, employed by human hands, however excellent, should be able to depict anything more true to reality or more natural; for in it may be seen the fury of the winds, the strength and dexterity of the men, the movements of the waves, the lightning flashes of the heavens, the water broken by the oars, and the oars bent by the waves and by the efforts of the rowers. Why say more? I, for my part, do not remember to have ever seen a more terrible painting than this, which is executed in such a manner, and with such care in the invention, the drawing, and the coloring, that the picture seems to quiver, as if all that is painted therein were real. For this work Jacopo Palma deserves the greatest praise, and the honor of being numbered among those who are masters of art and who are able to express with facility in their pictures their most sublime conceptions. For many painters, in difficult subjects of that kind, achieve in the first sketch of their work, as though guided by a sort of fire of inspiration, something of the good and a certain measure of boldness; but afterwards, in finishing it, the boldness vanishes, and nothing is left of the good that the first fire produced. And this happens because very often, in finishing, they consider the parts and not the whole of what they are executing, and thus, growing cold in spirit, they come to lose their vein of boldness; whereas Jacopo stood ever firm in the same intention and brought to perfection his first conception, forwhich he received vast praise at that time, as he always will.

But without a doubt, although the works of this master were many, and all much esteemed, that one is better than all the others and truly extraordinary in which he made his own portrait from life by looking at himself in a mirror, with some camel-skins about him, and certain tufts of hair, and all so lifelike that nothing better could be imagined. For so much did the genius of Palma effect in this particular work, that he made it quite miraculous and beautiful beyond belief, as all men declare, the picture being seen almost every year at the Festival of the Ascension. And, in truth, it well deserves to be celebrated, in point of draughtsmanship, colouring, and mastery of art--in a word, on account of its absolute perfection--beyond any other work whatsoever that had been executed by any Venetian painter up to that time, since, besides other things, there may be seen in the eyes a roundness so perfect, that Leonardo da Vinci and Michelagnolo Buonarroti would not have done it in any other way. But it is better to say nothing of the grace, the dignity, and the other qualities that are to be seen in this portrait, because it is not possible to say as much of its perfection as would exhaust its merits. If Fate had decreed that Palma should die after this work, he would have carried off with him the glory of having surpassed all those whom we celebrate as our rarest and most divine intellects; but the duration of his life, keeping him at work, brought it about that, not maintaining the high beginning that he had made, he came to deteriorate as much as most men had thought him destined to improve. Finally, content that one or two supreme works should have cleared him of some of the censure that the others had brought upon him, he died in Venice at the age of forty-eight.

A friend and companion of Palma was Lorenzo Lotto, a painter of Venice, who, after imitating for some time the manner of the Bellini, attached himself to that of Giorgione, as is shown by many pictures and portraits which are in the houses of gentlemen in Venice. In the house of Andrea Odoni there is a portrait of him, which is very beautiful, by the hand of Lorenzo. And in the house of Tommaso da Empoli, a Florentine, there is a picture of the Nativity of Christ, painted as an effect of night, which is one of great beauty, particularly because the splendour of Christ is seen to illuminate the picture in a marvellous manner; and there is the Madonna kneeling, with a portrait of Messer Marco Loredano in a full-length figure that is adoring Christ. For the Carmelite Friars the same master painted an altarpiece showing S. Nicholas in his episcopal robes, poised in the air, with three Angels; below him are S. Lucia and S. John, on high some clouds, and beneath these a most beautiful landscape, with many little figures and animals in various places. On one side is S. George on horseback, slaying the Dragon, and at a little distance the Maiden, with a city not far away, and an arm of the sea. For the Chapel of S. Antonino, Archbishop of Florence, in SS. Giovanni e Paolo, Lorenzo executed an altarpiece containing the first-named Saint seated with two priests in attendance, and many people below.

While this painter was still young, imitating partly the manner of the Bellini and partly that of Giorgione, he painted an altarpiece, divided into six pictures, for the high altar of S. Domenico at Recanati. In the central picture is the Madonna with the Child in her arms, giving the habit, by the hands of an Angel, to S. Dominic, who is kneeling before the Virgin; and in this picture are also two little boys, one playing on a lute and the other on a rebeck. In the second picture are the Popes S. Gregory and S. Urban; and in the third is S. Thomas Aquinas, with another saint, who was Bishop of Recanati. Above these are the three other pictures; and in the centre, above the Madonna, is a Dead Christ, supported by an Angel, with His Mother kissing His arm, and S. Magdalene. Over the picture of S. Gregory are S. Mary Magdalene and S. Vincent; and in the third--namely, above the S. Thomas Aquinas--are S. Gismondo and S. Catharine of Siena. In the predella, which is a rare work painted with little figures, there is in the centre the scene of S. Maria di Loreto being carried by the Angels from the regions of Sclavonia to the place where it now stands. Of the two scenes that are on either side of this, one shows S. Dominic preaching, the little figures eing the most graceful in the world, and the other Pope Honorius confirming the Rule of S. Dominic. In the middle of this church is a figure of S. Vincent, the Friar, executed in fresco by the hand of the same master. And in the Church of S. Maria di Castelnuovo there is an altar-piece in oils of the Transfiguration of Christ, with three scenes painted with little figures in the predella-- Christ leading the Apostles to Mount Tabor, His Prayer in the Garden, and His Ascension into Heaven.

After these works Lorenzo went to Ancona, at the very time when Mariano da Perugia had finished a panel picture, with a large ornamental frame, for the high altar of S. Agostino. This did not give much satisfaction; and Lorenzo was commissioned to paint a picture, which is placed in the middle of the same church, of Our Lady with the Child in her lap, and two figures of Angels in the air, in foreshortening, crowning the Virgin.

Finally, being now old, and having almost lost his voice, Lorenzo made his way, after executing some other works of no great importance at Ancona, to the Madonna of Loreto, where he had already painted an altarpiece in oils, which is in a chapel at the right hand of the entrance into the church. There, having resolved to finish his life in the service of the Madonna, and to make that holy house his habitation, he set his hand to executing scenes with figures one braccio or less in height round the choir, over the seats of the priests. In one scene he painted the Birth of Jesus Christ, and in another the Magi adoring Him. Next came the Presentation to Simeon, and after that the Baptism of Christ by John in the Jordan. There was also the Woman taken in Adultery being led before Christ, and all these were executed with much grace. Two other scenes, likewise, did he paint there, with an abundance of figures; one of David causing a sacrifice to be offered, and in the other was the Archangel Michael in combat with Lucifer, after having driven him out of Heaven.

These works finished, no long time had passed when, even as he had lived like a good citizen and a true Christian, so he died, rendering up his soul to God his Master. These last years of his life he found full of happiness and serenity of mind, and, what is more, we cannot but believe that they gave him the earnest of the blessings of eternal life; which might not have happened to him if at the end of his life he had been wrapped up too closely in the things of this world, which, pressing too heavily on those who put their whole trust in them, prevent them from ever raising their minds to the true riches and the supreme blessedness and felicity of the other life.

There also flourished in Romagna at this time the excellent painter Rondinello, of whom we made some slight mention in the Life of Giovanni Bellini, whose disciple he was, assisting him much in his works. This Rondinello, after leaving Giovanni Bellini, laboured at his art to such purpose, that, being very diligent, he executed many works worthy of praise; of which we have witness in the panel-picture of the high altar in the Duomo at Forl“, showing Christ giving the Communion to the Apostles, which he painted there with his own hand, executing it very well. In the lunette above this picture he painted a Dead Christ, and in the predella some scenes with little figures, finished with great diligence, representing the actions of S. Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, in the finding of the Cross. He also painted a single figure of S. Sebastian, which is very beautiful, in a picture in the same church. For the altar of S. Maria Maddalena, in the Duomo of Ravenna, he painted a panel picture in oils containing the single figure of that Saint; and below this, in a predella, he executed three scenes with very graceful little figures. In one is Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene in the form of a gardener, in another S. Peter leaving the ship and walking over the water towards Christ, and between them the Baptism of Jesus Christ; and all are very beautiful. For S. Giovanni Evangelista, in the same city, he painted two panel pictures, one with that Saint consecrating the church, and in the other three martyrs, S. Cantius, S. Cantianus, and S. Cantianilla, figures of great beauty. In S. Apollinare, also in that city, are two pictures, highly extolled, each with a single figure, S. John the Baptist and S. Sebastian. And in the Church of the Spirito Santo there is a panel, likewise by his hand, containing the Madonna placed between the Virgin Martyr S. Catharine and S. Jerome. For S. Francesco, likewise, he painted two panel pictures, one of S. Catharine and S. Francis, and in the other Our Lady with S. James the Apostle, S. Francis, and many figures. For S. Domenico, in like manner, he executed two other panels, one of which, containing the Madonna and many figures, is on the left hand of the high altar, and the other, a work of no little beauty, is on a wall of the church. And for the Church of S. Niccolo', a convent of Friars of S. Augustine, he painted another panel with S. Laurence and S. Francis. So much was he commended for all these works, that during his lifetime he was held in great account, not only in Ravenna but throughout all Romagna. Rondinello lived to the age of sixty, and was buried in S. Francesco at Ravenna.

This master left behind him Francesco da Cotignola, a painter likewise held in estimation in that city, who painted many works; in particular, for the high altar of the Church of the Abbey of Classi in Ravenna, a panel picture of some size representing the Raising of Lazarus, with many figures. There, opposite to that work, in the year 1548, Giorgio Vasari executed for Don Romualdo da Verona, Abbot of that place, another panel picture containing the Deposition of Christ from the Cross, with a large number of figures. Francesco also painted a panel picture of the Nativity of Christ, which is of great size, for S. Niccolo', and likewise two panels, with various figures, for S. Sebastiano. For the Hospital of S. Catarina he painted a panel picture with Our Lady, S. Catharine, and many other figures; and for S. Agata he painted a panel with Christ Crucified, the Madonna at the foot of the Cross, and a good number of other figures, for which he won praise. And for S. Apollinare, in the same city, he executed three panel pictures; one for the high altar, containing the Madonna, S. John the Baptist, and S. Apollinare, with S. Jerome and other saints; another likewise of the Madonna, with S. Peter and S. Catharine; and in the third and last Jesus Christ bearing His Cross, but this he was not able to finish, being overtaken by death.

Francesco was a very pleasing colorist, but not so good a draughtsman as Rondinello; yet he was held in no small estimation by the people of Ravenna. He chose to be buried after his death in S. Apollinare, for which he had painted the said figures, being content that his remains, when he was dead, should lie at rest in the place for which he had laboured when alive.

 

 

 

FRA GIOCONDO and OTHER ARTISTS OF VERONA


Part 1: FRA GIOCONDO

Vasari's Lives of the Artists

IF WRITERS OF HISTORY were to live a few years longer than the number commonly granted as the span of human life, I, for my part, have no manner of doubt that they would have something to add to the accounts of the past previously written by them, for the reason that, even as it is not possible for a single man, be he ever so diligent, to learn the exact truth in a flash, or to discover all the details of his subject in the little time at his command, so it is as clear as the light of day that Time, who is said to be the father of truth, is always revealing new things every day to the seeker after knowledge. If, many years ago, when I first wrote and also published these Lives of the Painters and other Craftsmen, I had possessed that full information which I have since received concerning Fra Giocondo of Verona, a man of rare parts and a master of all the most noble faculties, I would without a doubt have made that honorable record of him which I am now about to make for the benefit of craftsmen, or rather, of the world; and not of him only, but also of many other masters of Verona, who have been truly excellent. And let no one marvel that I place them all under the image of one only, because, not having been able to obtain portraits of them all, I am forced to do this; but, so far as in me lies, not one of them shall thereby have his excellence defrauded of its due.

Now, since the order of time and merit so demands, I shall speak first of Fra Giocondo. This man, when he assumed the habit of S. Dominic, was called not simply Fra Giocondo, but Fra Giovanni Giocondo. How the name Giovanni dropped from him I know not, but I do know that he was always called Fra Giocondo by everyone. And although his chief profession was that of letters, and he was not only a very good philosopher and theologian, but also an excellent Greek scholar (which was a rare thing at that time, when learning and letters were just beginning to revive in Italy), nevertheless he was also a very fine architect, being a man who always took supreme delight in that art, as Scaliger relates in his epistle against Cardan, and the learned Bude' in his book "De Asse," and in the observations that he wrote on the Pandects.

Fra Giocondo, then, who was a fine scholar, a capable architect, and an excellent master of perspective, spent many years near the person of the Emperor Maximilian, and was master in the Greek and Latin tongues to the learned Scaliger, who writes that he heard him dispute with profound learning on matters of the greatest subtlety before the same Maximilian. It is related by persons still living, who remember the facts very clearly, that at the time when Verona was under the power of that Emperor the bridge which is called the Ponte della Pietra, in that city, was being restored, and it was seen to be necessary to refound the central pier, which had been destroyed many times in the past, and Fra Giocondo gave the design for refounding it, and also for safeguarding it in such a manner that it might never be destroyed again. His method of safeguarding it was as follows: he gave orders that the pier should be kept always bound together with long double piles fixed below the water on every side, to the end that these might so protect it that the river should not be able to undermine it; for the place where it is built is in the main current of the river, the bed of which is so soft that no solid ground can be found on which to lay its foundations. And excellent, in truth, as is evident from the result, was the advice of Fra Giocondo, for the reason that the pier has stood firm from that time to our own, as it still does, without ever showing a crack; and there is hope that, by the observation of the suggestions given by that good monk, it will stand for ever.

In his youth Fra Giocondo spent many years in Rome, giving his attention to the study of antiquities, and not of buildings only, but also of the ancient inscriptions that are in the tombs, and the other relics of antiquity, both in Rome itself and its neighbourhood, and in every part of I taly; and he collected all these inscriptions and memorials into a most beautiful book, which he sent as a present, according to the account of the citizens of Verona mentioned above, to the elder Lorenzo de' Medici, the Magnificent, to whom, by reason of the great friendliness and favor that he showed to all men of talent, both Fra Giocondo and Domizio Calderino, his companion and compatriot, were always most deeply devoted. Of this book Poliziano makes mention in his Mugellane, in which he uses various parts of it as authorities, calling Fra Giocondo a profound master in antiquities.

The same Giocondo wrote some observations, which are in print, on the Commentaries of Cĺsar; and he was the first who made a drawing of the bridge built by Cĺsar over the River Rhone, and described by him in those same Commentaries, but misunderstood in the time of Fra Giocondo. Him the aforesaid BudŽ confesses to have had as his master in the study of architecture, thanking God that he had been taught his Vitruvius by a teacher so learned and so diligent as was that monk, who corrected in that author a vast number of errors not recognized up to that time; and this he was able to do with ease, because he was a master of every kind of learning, and had a good knowledge of both the Greek tongue and the Latin. This and other things declares Bude', extolling Fra Giocondo as an excellent architect, and adding that by the researches of the same monk there were discovered in an old library in Paris the greater part of the Epistles of Pliny, which, after having been so long out of the hands of mankind, were printed by Aldus Manutius, as may be read in a Latin letter written by him and printed with the same.

When living in Paris in the service of King Louis XII, Fra Giocondo built two superb bridges over the Seine, covered with shops—-works truly worthy of that magnanimous King and of the marvellous intellect of Fra Giocondo. Wherefore that master, in addition to the inscription in his praise that may still be seen on those works, won the honor of being celebrated by Sannazzaro, a rare poet, in this most beautiful distich:

Jocundus geminum imposuit tibi, Sequana, pontem;
Hunc tu jure potes dicere pontificem.

Besides this, he executed a vast number of other works for that King throughout all his kingdom; but of these, after having made mention of those above, as being the greatest, I shall say no more.

Then, happening to be in Rome at the death of Bramante, he was placed, in company with Raffaello da Urbino and Giuliano da San Gallo, in charge of the Church of S. Pietro, to the end that the structure begun by Bramante might be carried forward. Now, from the circumstance that it had been erected in haste, and for other reasons given in another place, it was threatening to fall in many parts, and by the advice of Fra Giocondo, Raffaello, and Giuliano, the foundations were in great measure renewed; in which work persons who were present and are still living declare that those masters adopted the following method. They excavated below the foundations many large pits after the manner of wells, but square, at a proper distance one from another, which they filled with masonry; and between every two of these piers, or rather pits filled with masonry, they threw very strong arches across the space below, insomuch that the whole building came to be placed on new foundations without suffering any shock, and was secured for ever from the danger of showing any more cracks.

But the work for which it seems to me that Fra Giocondo deserves the greatest praise is one on account of which an everlasting gratitude is due to him not only from the Venetians, but from the whole world as well. For he reflected that the life of the Republic of Venice depended in great measure on the preservation of its impregnable position on the lagoons on which that city, as it were by a miracle, is built; and that, whenever those lagoons silted up with earth, the air would become infected and pestilential, and the city consequently uninhabitable, or at the least exposed to all the dangers that threaten cities on the mainland. He set himself, therefore, to think in what way it might be possible to provide for the preservation of the lagoons and of the site on which the city had been built in the beginning. And having found a way, Fra Giocondo told the Signori that, if they did not quickly come to some resolution about preventing such an evil, in a few years, to judge by that which could be seen to have happened in part, they would become aware of their error, without being in time to be able to retrieve it. Roused by this warning, and hearing the powerful arguments of Fra Giocondo, the Signori summoned an assembly of the best engineers and architects that there were in Italy, at which many opinions were given and many designs made; but that of Fra Giocondo was held to be the best, and was put into execution.

They made a beginning, therefore, with excavating a great canal, which was to divert two-thirds or at least one-half of the water brought down by the River Brenta, and to conduct that water by a long detour so as to debouch into the lagoons of Chioggia; and thus that river, no longer flowing into the lagoons at Venice, has not been able to fill them up by bringing down earth, as it has done at Chioggia, where it has filled and banked up the lagoons in such a manner that, where there was formerly water, many tracts of land and villas have sprung up, to the great benefit of the city of Venice. Wherefore it is the opinion of many persons, and in particular of the Magnificent Messer Luigi Cornaro, a Venetian gentleman of ripe wisdom gained both by learning and by long experience, that, if it had not been for the warning of Fra Giocondo, all the silting up that took place in the lagoons of Chioggia would have happened, and perhaps on a greater scale, in those of Venice, inflicting incredible damage and almost ruin on that city. The same Messer Luigi, who was very much the friend of Fra Giocondo, as he is and always has been of all men of talent, declares that his native city of Venice owes an eternal debt of gratitude for this to the memory of Fra Giocondo, who on this account, he says, might reasonably be called the second founder of Venice; and that he almost deserves more praise for having preserved by that expedient the grandeur and nobility of that marvellous and puissant city, than do those who built it at the beginning in such a weak and ill-considered fashion, seeing that the benefit received from him will be to all eternity, as it has been hitherto, of incalculable utility and advantage to Venice.

 

 

FRA GIOCONDO and Other ARTISTS OF VERONA
Part 2: FRA GIOCONDO 2 and LIBERALE DA VERONA


Vasari's Lives of the Artists

Not many years after Fra Giocondo had executed this divine work, the Venetians suffered a great loss in the burning of the Rialto, the place in which are the magazines of their most precious merchandise--the treasure, as it were, of that city. This happened at the very time when that Republic had been reduced by long-continued wars and by the loss of the greater part, or rather almost the whole, of her dominions on the mainland to a desperate condition; and the Signori then governing were full of doubt and hesitation as to what they should do. However, the rebuilding of that place being a matter of the greatest importance, they resolved that it should be reconstructed at all costs. And wishing to give it all possible grandeur, in keeping with the greatness and magnificence of that Republic, and having already recognized the talent of Fra Giocondo and his great ability in architecture, they gave him the commission to make a design for that structure; whereupon he drew one in the following manner. He proposed to occupy all the space that lies between the Canale delle Beccherie, in the Rialto, and the Rio del Fondaco delle Farine, taking as much ground between one canal and the other as would make a perfect square--that is, the length of the sides of this fabric was to be as great as the space which one covers at the present day in walking from the debouchure of one of those canals into the Grand Canal to that of the other.

He intended, also, that the same two canals should debouch on the other side into a common canal, which was to run from the one to the other, so that the fabric might be left entirely surrounded by water, having the Grand Canal on one side, the two smaller canals on two other sides, and on the last the new canal that was to be made. Then he desired that between the water and the buildings, right round the square, there should be made, or rather should be left, a beach or quay of some breadth, which might serve as a piazza for the selling in duly appointed places of the vegetables, fruits, fish, and other things, that come from many parts to the city. It was also his opinion that right round the outer side of the buildings there should be erected shops looking out upon those same quays, and that these shops should serve only for the sale of eatables of every kind. And in these four sides the design of Fra Giocondo had four principal gates--namely, one to each side, placed in the centre, one directly opposite to another. But before going into the central piazza, by whichever side one entered, one would have found both on the right hand and on the left a street which ran round the block of buildings and had shops on either side, with handsome workshops above them and magazines for the use of those shops, which were all to be devoted to the sale of woven fabrics-that is, fine woollen cloth and silk, which are the two chief products of that city. This street, in short, was to contain all the shops that are called the Tuscan's and the silk-merchant's.

From this double range of shops there was to be access by way of the four gates into the center of the whole block--that is to say, into a vast piazza surrounded on every side by spacious and beautiful loggie for the accommodation of the merchants and for the use of the great number of people who flock together for the purposes of their trade and commerce to that city, which is the customhouse of all Italy, or rather of Europe. Under those loggie, on every side, were to be the shops of the bankers, goldsmiths, and jewellers; and in the center was to be built a most beautiful temple dedicated to S. Matthew, in which the people of quality might be able to hear the divine offices in the morning. With regard to this temple, however, some persons declare that Fra Giocondo changed his mind, and wished to build two under the loggie, so as not to obstruct the piazza. And, in addition, this superb structure was to have so many other conveniences, embellishments, and adornments, all in their proper places, that whoever sees at the present day the beautiful design that Fra Giocondo made for the whole, declares that nothing more lovely, more magnificent, or planned with better order, could be imagined or conceived by the most excellent of craftsmen, be his genius never so happy.

It was proposed, also, with the advice of the same master, and as a completion to this work, to build the Bridge of the Rialto of stone, covered with shops, which would have been a marvellous thing. But this enterprise was not carried into effect, for two reasons: first, because the Republic, on account of the extraordinary expenses incurred in the last war, happened to be drained dry of money; and, secondly, because a gentleman of great position and much authority at that time (of the family, so it is said, of Valereso), being a man of little judgment in such matters, and perchance influenced by some private interest, chose to favor one Maestro Zanfragnino, who, so I am informed, is still alive, and who had worked for him on buildings of his own. This Zanfragnino--a fit and proper name for a master of his calibre--made the design for that medley of marble which was afterwards carried into execution, and which is still to be seen; and many who are still alive, and remember the circumstances very well, are even yet not done with lamenting that foolish choice.

Fra Giocondo, having seen that shapeless design preferred to his beautiful one, and having perceived how much more virtue there often is in favor than in merit with nobles and great persons, felt such disdain that he departed from Venice, nor would he ever return, although he was much entreated to do it. And the design, with others by the same monk, remained in the house of the Bragadini, opposite to S. Marina, in the possession of Frate Angelo, a member of that family and a friar of S. Dominic, who, by reason of his many merits, afterwards became Bishop of Vicenza.

Fra Giocondo was very versatile, and delighted, in addition to the pursuits already mentioned, in simples and in agriculture. Thus Messer Donato Giannotti, the Florentine, who was very much his friend for many years in France, relates that once, when living in that country, the monk reared a peach-tree in an earthen pot, and that this little tree, when he saw it, was so laden with fruit that it was a marvellous sight. On one occasion, by the advice of some friends, he had set it in a place where the King was to pass and would be able to see it, when certain courtiers, who passed by first, plucked all the peaches off that little tree, as suchlike people were sure to do, and, playing about with one another, scattered what they could not eat along the whole length of the street, to the great displeasure of Fra Giocondo. The matter coming to the ears of the King, he first laughed over the jest with the courtiers, and then, after thanking the monk for what he had done to please him, gave him a present of such a kind that he was consoled.

Fra Giocondo was a man of saintly and most upright life, much beloved by all the great men of letters of his age, and in particular by Domizio Calderino, Matteo Bosso, and Paolo Emilio, the writer of the History of France, all three his compatriots. Very much his friends, likewise, were Sannazzaro, Bude', and Aldus Manutius, with all the Academy of Rome; and he had a disciple in Julius Caesar Scaliger, one of the most learned men of our times. Finally, being very old, he died, but precisely at what time and in what place this happened, and consequently where he was buried, is not known.

Even as it is true that the city of Verona is very similar to Florence in situation, manners, and other respects, so it is also true that in the first as well as in the second there have always flourished men of the finest genius in all the noblest and most honorable professions. Saying nothing of the learned, for with them I have nothing to do here, and continuing to speak of the men of our arts, who have always had an honorable abode in that most noble city, I come to Liberale of Verona, a disciple of Vincenzio di Stefano, a native of the same city, already mentioned in another place, who executed for the Church of Ognissanti, belonging to the Monks of S. Benedict, at Mantua, in the year 1463, a Madonna that was a very praiseworthy example of the work of those times. Liberale imitated the manner of Jacopo Bellini, for when a young man, while the said Jacopo was painting the Chapel of S. Niccolo' at Verona, he gave his attention under Bellini to the studies of design in such thorough fashion that, forgetting all that he had learned from Vincenzio di Stefano, he acquired the manner of Bellini and retained it ever after.

The first paintings of Liberale were in the Chapel of the Monte della Pieta' in S. Bernardino, in his native city; and there, in the principal picture, he painted a Deposition from the Cross, with certain Angels, some of whom have in their hands the Mysteries (for so they are called) of the Passion, and all with their weeping faces show grief at the Death of the Saviour. Very natural, in truth, are these figures, as are other works of the same kind by this master, who strove to show in many places that he was able to paint weeping countenances. This may also be seen in S. Anastasia, a church of Friars of S. Dominic, likewise in Verona, where he painted a Dead Christ with the Maries mourning for Him on the pediment of the Chapel of the Buonaveri; and he executed many pictures in the same manner of painting as the work mentioned above, which are dispersed among the houses of various gentlemen in Verona.

In the same chapel he painted a God the Father surrounded by many Angels who are playing instruments and singing, with three figures on either side---S. Peter, S. Dominic, and S. Thomas Aquinas on one side, and S. Lucia, S. Agnese, and another female Saint on the other; but the first three are much the finer, being executed in a better manner and with more relief. On the main wall of that chapel he painted Our Lady, with the Infant Christ marrying S. Catharine, the Virgin Martyr; and in this work he made a portrait of Messer Piero Buonaveri, the owner of the chapel. Around this group are some Angels presenting flowers, with some heads that are smiling, executed with such grace in their gladness, that they prove that he was able to paint a smiling face as well as he had painted tears in other figures. In the altar-piece of the same chapel he painted S. Mary Magdalene in the air, supported by some Angels, with S. Catharine below--a work which was held to be very beautiful. On the altar of the Madonna in the Church of S. Maria della Scala, belonging to the Servite Friars, he executed the story of the Magi on two folding doors that enclose that Madonna, which is held in vast veneration in that city; but the work did not long remain there, for it was removed because it was being spoilt by the smoke of the candles, and placed in the sacristy, where it is much admired by the painters of Verona.

In the tramezzo of the Church of S. Bernardino, above the Chapel of the Company of the Magdalene, he painted in fresco the story of the Purification, wherein is a figure of Simeon that is much extolled, as also is that of the Infant Christ, who with great affection is kissing that old man, who is holding Him in his arms; and very beautiful, likewise, is a priest standing there on one side, who, with his arms extended and his face uplifted towards Heaven, appears to be thanking God for the salvation of the world. Beside this chapel is a picture of the story of the Magi by the hand of the same Liberale; and in the pediment of the picture there is the Death of the Madonna, executed with little figures, which are highly extolled. Great, indeed, was his delight in painting works with little figures, with which he always took such pains that they seem to be the work rather of an illuminator than of a painter, as may be seen in the Duomo of the same city, where there is a picture by his hand of the story of the Magi, with a vast number of little figures, horses, dogs, and various other animals, and near them a group of rosy-colored Cherubim, who serve as a support to the Mother of Jesus. In this picture the heads are so finished, and everything is executed with such diligence, that, as I have said, it appears to be the work of an illuminator.

He also painted stories of Our Lady on a small predella, likewise after the manner of miniatures, for the Chapel of the Madonna in the Duomo. But this was afterwards removed from that chapel by order of Monsignor Messer Giovan Matteo Giberti, Bishop of Verona, and placed in the Palace of the V escovado, which is the residence of the Bishops, in that chapel wherein they hear Mass every morning. And there that predella stands in company with a most beautiful Crucifix in relief, executed by Giovanni Battista Veronese, a sculptor, who now lives in Mantua. Liberale also painted a panel picture for the Chapel of the Allegni in S. Vitale, containing a figure of S. Mestro, the Confessor, a Veronese and a man of great sanctity, whom he placed between a S. Francis and a S. Dominic. For the Chapel of S. Girolamo in the Vittoria, a church and convent of certain Eremite Friars, he executed at the commission of the Scaltritegli family an altarpiece of S. Jerome in the habit of a Cardinal, with a S. Francis and a S. Paul, all much extolled. And in the tramezzo[5] of the Church of S. Giovanni in Monte he painted the Circumcision of Christ and other works, which were destroyed not long since, because it was considered that the tramezzo impaired the beauty of the church.

Being then summoned to Siena by the General of the Monks of Monte Oliveto, Liberale illuminated many books for that Order; and in these he succeeded so well, that he was commissioned in consequence to illuminate some that had been left unfinished—that is to say, only written—in the library of the Piccolomini. He also illuminated some books of plain-song for the Duomo of that city, where he would have remained longer, executing many works that he had in hand; but, being driven away by envy and persecution, he set off to return to Verona, with eight hundred crowns that he had earned, which he lent afterwards to the Monks of Monte Oliveto at S. Maria in Organo, from whom he drew interest to support him from day to day.

Having thus returned to Verona, he gave his attention for the rest of his life more to illumination than to any other kind of work. At Bardolino, a place on the Lake of Garda, he painted a panel-picture which is now in the Pieve; and another for the Church of S. Tommaso Apostolo. For the Chapel of S. Bernardo, likewise, in the Church of S. Fermo, a convent of Friars of S. Francis, he painted a panel picture of the first-named Saint, with some scenes from his life in the predella. In the same place, also, and in others, he executed many nuptial pictures, one of which, containing the Madonna with the Child in her arms marrying S. Catharine, is in the house of Messer Vincenzio de' Medici at Verona.

On the corner of the house of the Cartai, on the way from the Ponte Nuovo to S. Maria in Organo, in Verona, he painted a Madonna and S. Joseph in fresco, a work which was much extolled. Liberale would have liked to paint the Chapel of the Riva family, which had been built in order to honor the memory of Giovanni Riva, a captain of men-at-arms at the battle of the Taro, in the Church of S. Eufemia; but he did not receive the commission, which was given to some strangers, and he was told that he was too old and that his sight was failing him. When this chapel was opened, a vast number of faults were perceived in it, and Liberale said that he who had given the commission had been much more blind than himself.

Finally, being eighty-four years of age, or even more, Liberale allowed himself to be ruled by his relatives, and particularly by a married daughter, who, like the rest, treated him very badly. At which, having grown angry both with her and with his other relatives, and happening to have under his charge one Francesco Turbido, called Il Moro, then a young man, who was a diligent painter and much affected towards him, he appointed him as heir to the house and garden that he had at S. Giovanni in Valle, a very pleasant part of the city; and with him he took up his quarters, saying that he would rather give the enjoyment of his property to one who loved virtue than to those who ill-treated their nearest of kin. But no long time passed before he died, which was on the day of S. Chiara in the year 1536, at the age of eighty-five; and he was buried in S. Giovanni in Valle.

His disciples were Giovan Francesco Caroto and Giovanni Caroto, Francesco Turbido, called Il Moro, and Paolo Cavazzuola, of whom, since they were truly excellent masters, I shall make mention in their due order.

 

 

FRA GIOCONDO and Other ARTISTS OF VERONA

Part 3: GIOVAN FRANCESCO CAROTO and GIOVANNI CAROTO


Vasari's Lives of the Artists

Giovan Francesco Caroto was born at Verona in the year 1470, and after having learned the first rudiments of letters, being drawn to painting, he abandoned the studies of grammar and placed himself to learn painting under the Veronese Liberale, undertaking to recompense him for his pains. Young as he was, then, Giovan Francesco devoted himself with such love and diligence to design, that even in his earliest years he was a great assistance to Liberale both in that and in coloring. No long time after, when his judgment had increased with his years, he saw the works of Andrea Mantegna in Verona; and thinking, as indeed was the truth, that these were of another manner and better than those of his master, he so wrought upon his father that he was given leave, with the gracious consent of Liberale, to apprentice himself to Mantegna. Having gone to Mantua, therefore, and having placed himself under Mantegna, in a short time he made such proficience that Andrea sent out works by Caroto as works by his own hand. In short, before many years had passed by, he had become an able master. The first works that he executed after leaving the discipline of Mantegna were on the altar of the three Magi in the Church of the Hospital of S. Cosimo at Verona, where he painted on the folding doors that enclose that altar the Circumcision of Christ and the Flight into Egypt, with other figures. In the Church of the Frati Ingiesuati, called S. Girolamo, in two angles of a chapel, he painted the Madonna and the Angel of the Annunciation. And for the Prior of the Friars of S. Giorgio he executed a little panel picture of the Manger, in which he may be seen to have greatly improved his manner, since the heads of the shepherds and of all the other figures have expressions so sweet and so beautiful, that this work was much extolled, and that rightly; and if it were not that the priming of gesso is peeling off through having been badly prepared, so that the picture is gradually perishing, it would be enough by itself to keep him alive for ever in the memory of his fellow-citizens.

Next, having been commissioned by the men who governed the Company of the Angel Raphael to paint their chapel in the Church of S. Eufemia, he executed therein two stories of the Angel Raphael in fresco, and in the altarpiece, in oils, three large Angels, Raphael in the center, and Gabriel and Michael on either side, and all with good draughtsmanship and colouring. He was reproached, indeed, for having made the legs of those Angels too slender and wanting in softness; to which he made a pleasant and gracious answer, saying that even as Angels were represented with wings and with bodies, so to speak, celestial and ethereal, as if they were birds, so it was only right to make their legs lean and slender, to the end that they might fly and soar upwards with greater ease. For that altar of the Church of S. Giorgio where there is a Christ bearing His Cross, he painted S. Rocco and S. Sebastian, with some scenes in the predella executed with very beautiful little figures. And by order of the Company of the Madonna he painted on the predella of the altar of that Company, in S. Bernardino, the Nativity of the Madonna and the Massacre of the Innocents, with a great variety of attitudes in the murderers and in the groups of children whom their mothers are defending with all their might. This work is held in great veneration, and is kept covered, the better to preserve it; and it was the reason that the men of the Fraternity of S. Stefano commissioned him to paint three pictures with similar figures for their altar in the old Duomo of Verona, containing three little scenes from the life of Our Lady--her Marriage, the Nativity of Christ, and the story of the Magi.

After these works, thinking that he had gained enough credit in Verona, Giovan Francesco was minded to depart and make trial of other places; but his friends and relatives, pressing him much, persuaded him to take to wife a young woman of noble birth, the daughter of Messer Braliassarti Grandoni, whom he married in 1505. In a short time, however, after he had had a son by her, she died in childbirth; and Giovan Francesco, thus left free, departed from Verona and went off to Milan, where Signor Anton Maria Visconti received him into his house and caused him to execute many works for its adornment.

Meanwhile there was brought to Milan by a Fleming a head of a young man, taken from life and painted in oils, which was admired by everyone in that city; but Giovan Francesco, seeing it, laughed and said: "I am confident that I can do a better." At which the Fleming mocked him, but after many words the matter came to this, that Giovan Francesco was to try his hand, losing his own picture and twenty-five crowns if he lost, and winning the Fleming's head and likewise twenty-five crowns if he won. Setting to work, therefore, with all his powers, Giovan Francesco made a portrait of an aged gentleman with shaven face, with a falcon on his wrist; but, although this was a good likeness, the head of the Fleming was judged to be the better. Giovan Francesco did not make a good choice in executing his portrait, for he took a head that could not do him honor; whereas, if he had chosen a handsome young man, and had made as good a likeness of him as he did of the old man, he would at least have equalled his adversary's picture, even if he had not surpassed it. But for all this the head of Giovan Francesco did not fail to win praise, and the Fleming showed him courtesy, for he contented himself with the head of the shaven old man, and, being a noble and courteous person, would by no means accept the five-and-twenty crowns. This picture came after some time into the possession of Madonna Isabella d'Este, Marchioness of Mantua, who paid a very good price for it to the Fleming and placed it as a choice work in her study, in which she had a vast number of very beautiful coins, pictures, works in marble, and castings.

After completing his work for Visconti, Giovan Francesco, being invited by Guglielmo, Marquis of Montferrat, went willingly to serve him, as Visconti straitly besought him to do. On his arrival, a fine provision was assigned to him; and, setting to work, he painted for that noble at Casale, in a chapel where he heard Mass, as many pictures as were necessary to fill it and adorn it on every side, with subjects from the Old Testament and the New, which were executed by him with supreme diligence, as was also the chief altarpiece. He then executed many works throughout the apartments of that Castle, which brought him very great fame. And in S. Domenico, by order of that Marquis, he painted the whole of the principal chapel for the adornment of the tomb wherein he was to be laid to rest; in which work Giovan Francesco acquitted himself so well, that he was rightly rewarded with honorable gifts by the liberality of his patron, who also favoured him by making him one of his own chamberlains, as may be seen from an instrument that is in the possession of his heirs at Verona. He made portraits of that lord and of his wife, with many pictures that they sent to France, and also the portrait of Guglielmo, their eldest child, who was then a boy, and likewise portraits of their daughters and of all the ladies who were in the service of the Marchioness.

On the death of the Marquis Guglielmo, Giovan Francesco departed from Casale, after first selling all the property that he had in those parts, and made his way to Verona, where he so arranged his affairs and those of his son, to whom he gave a wife, that in a short time he found himself in possession of more than seven thousand ducats. But he did not therefore abandon his painting; indeed, having a quiet mind, and not being obliged to rack his brain for a livelihood, he gave more attention to it than ever. It is true that either from envy or for some other reason he was accused of being a painter who could do nothing but little figures; wherefore, in executing the altarpiece f the Chapel of the Madonna in S. Fermo, a convent of Friars of S. Francis, wishing to show that the accusation was a calumny, he painted the figures larger than life, and so well, that they were the best that he had ever done. In the air is Our Lady seated in the lap of S. Anne, with some Angels standing upon clouds, and beneath are S. Peter, S. John the Baptist, S. Rocco, and S. Sebastian; and not far away, in a most beautiful landscape, is S. Francis receiving the Stigmata. This work, indeed, is held by craftsmen to be not otherwise than good.

For the Chapel of the Cross in S. Bernardino, a seat of the Frati Zoccolanti, he painted Christ kneeling on one knee and taking leave of His Mother. In this work, stirred to emulation by the many notable pictures by the hands of other masters that are in that place, he strove to surpass them all; wherefore, in truth, he acquitted himself very well, and was praised by all who saw it, save only by the Guardian of that convent, who, like the boorish and solemn fool that he was, reproved Giovan Francesco with biting words, saying that he had made Christ show such little reverence to His Mother as to kneel only upon one knee. To which Giovan Francesco answered by saying: "Father, first do me the favor of kneeling down and rising up again, and I will then tell you for what reason I have painted Christ so." The Guardian, after much persuasion, knelt down, placing on the ground first his right knee and then his left; and in rising up he raised first the left and then the right. Which done, Giovan Francesco said: "Did you observe, Father Guardian, that you neither knelt down nor rose up with both knees together? I tell you, therefore, that this Christ of mine is right, because one might say that He is either coming to His knees before His Mother, or beginning, after having knelt a while, to raise one leg in order to rise." At which the Guardian had to appear a little appeased, although he went off muttering under his breath.

Giovan Francesco was very sharp in his answers; and it is also related of him that once, being told by a priest that his figures were too seductive for altarpieces, he replied: "A lusty fellow you must be, if painted figures so move you. Think how much you are to be trusted in places where there are living people for you to touch." At Isola, a place on the Lake of Garda, he painted two panel pictures for the Church of the Zoccolanti; and at Malsessino, a township above that same lake, he painted a very beautiful Madonna over the door of a church, and some Saints within the church, at the request of Fracastoro, a very famous poet, who was much his friend. For Count Giovan Francesco Giusti, executing a subject conceived by that nobleman, he painted a young man wholly naked except for the parts of shame, and in an attitude of indecision as to whether he shall rise up or not; and on one side he had a most beautiful young woman representing Minerva, who with one hand was pointing out to him a figure of Fame on high, and with the other was urging him to follow her; but Sloth and Idleness, who were behind the young man, were striving to detain him. Below these was a figure with an uncouth face, rather that of a slave and a plebeian than of one of noble blood, who had two great snails clinging to his elbows and was seated on a crab, and near him was another figure with the hands full of poppies. This invention, in which are other beautiful details and fancies, was executed by Giovan Francesco with supreme diligence and love; and it serves as the headboard of a bedstead at that nobleman's lovely place near Verona, which is called S. Maria in Stella.

The same master painted the whole of a little chamber with various scenes in little figures, for Count Raimondo della Torre. And since he delighted to work in relief, he executed not only models his own purposes and for the arrangement of draperies, but also other things of his own fancy, of which there are some to be seen in the house of his heirs, and in particular a scene in half-relief, which is not otherwise than passing good. He also executed portraits on medallions, and some are still to be seen, such as that of Guglielmo, Marquis of Montferrat, which has on the reverse a Hercules slaying ..., with a motto that runs: "Monstra domat." He painted portraits of Count Raimondo della Torre, Messer Giulio his brother, and Messer Girolamo Fracastoro.

But when Giovan Francesco became old, he began gradually to lose his mastery over art, as may be seen from the organ doors in S. Maria della Scala, from the panel picture of the Movi family, wherein is a Deposition from the Cross, and from the Chapel of S. Martino in S. Anastasia. Giovan Francesco had always a great opinion of himself, and not for anything in the world would he have ever copied another man's work in his own. Now Bishop Giovan Matteo Giberti wished him to paint some stories of the Madonna in the great chapel of the Duomo, and had the designs for these drawn in Rome by Giulio Romano, who was very much his friend (for Giberti was Datary to Pope Clement VII). But, when the Bishop had returned to Verona, Giovan Francesco would never consent to execute these designs; at which the Bishop, in disdain, caused them to be put into execution by Francesco, called Il Moro.

Giovan Francesco held an opinion, in which he was not far from the truth, that varnishing pictures spoiled them, and made them become old sooner than they otherwise would; and for this reason he used varnish in the darks while painting, together with certain purified oils. He was also the first who executed landscapes well in Verona; wherefore there are some by his hand to be seen in that city, which are very beautiful. Finally, when seventy-six years of age, Giovan Francesco died the death of a good Christian, leaving his grandchildren and his brother, Giovanni Caroto, passing well provided. This Giovanni, after first applying himself to art under his brother, and then spending some time in Venice, had just returned to Verona when Giovan Francesco passed to the other life; and thus he took a hand with the grandchildren in inspecting the things of art that had been left to them. Among these they found a portrait of an old man in armor, very beautiful both in drawing and in color, which was the best work by the hand of Giovan Francesco that was ever seen; and likewise a little picture containing a Deposition from the Cross, which was presented to Signor Spitech, a man of great authority with the King of Poland, who had come at that time to some baths that are in the territory of Verona. Giovan Francesco was buried in the Madonna dell' Organo, in the Chapel of S. Niccol˜, which he himself had adorned with his paintings.

Giovanni Caroto, brother of Giovan Francesco, although he followed the manner of the latter, yet gained less reputation in the practice of painting. This master painted the altarpiece in the above-mentioned Chapel of S. Niccolo', wherein is the Madonna enthroned on clouds; and below this he placed a portrait of himself, taken from life, and that of his wife Placida. He also painted some little figures of female Saints for the altar of the Schioppi in the Church of S. Bartolommeo, together with a portrait of Madonna Laura degli Schioppi, who had caused that chapel to be built, and who was much celebrated by the writers of those times no less for her virtues than for her beauty. Giovanni likewise painted a S. Martin in a little altarpiece for S. Giovanni in Fonte, near the Duomo; and he made a portrait of Messer Marc' Antonio della Torre (who afterwards became a man of learning and gave public lectures at Padua and Pavia) as a young man, and also one of Messer Giulio; which heads are in the possession of their heirs at Verona. For the Prior of S. Giorgio he painted a picture of Our Lady, which, as a good painting, has been kept ever since, as it still is, in the chamber of the Priors. And he painted another picture, representing the transformation of Actĺon into a stag, for the organist Brunetto, who afterwards presented it to Girolamo Cicogna, an excellent embroiderer, and engineer to Bishop Giberti; and it now belongs to Messer Vincenzio Cicogna, his son.

Giovanni took groundplans of all the ancient buildings of Verona, with the triumphal arches and the Colosseum. These were revised by the Veronese architect Falconetto, and they were meant for the adornment of the book of the Antiquities of Verona, which had been written after his own original research by Messer Torello Saraina, who afterwards had the book printed. This book was sent to me by Giovanni Caroto when I was in Bologna (where I was executing the work of the Refectory of S. Michele in Bosco), together with the portrait of the reverend Father, Don Cipriano da Verona, who was twice General of the Monks of Monte Oliveto; and the portrait, which was sent to me by Giovanni to the end that I might make use of it, as I did, for one of those pictures, is now in my house at Florence, with other paintings by the hands of various masters.

Finally, having lived without children and without ambition, but with good means, Giovanni died at about the age of sixty, full of gladness because he saw some of his disciples, particularly Anselmo Canneri and Paolo Veronese, already in good repute. Paolo is now working in Venice, and is held to be a good master; and Anselmo has executed many works both in oils and in fresco, and in particular at the Villa Soranza on the Tesino, and in the Palace of the Soranzi at Castelfranco, and also in many other places, but more at Vicenza than anywhere else. But to return to Giovanni; he was buried in S. Maria dell' Organo, where he had painted a chapel with his own hand.

 

 

FRA GIOCONDO and Other ARTISTS OF VERONA

Part 4: FRANCESCO TURBIDO, BATTISTA DEL MORO, ORLANDO FIACCO

Vasari's Lives of the Artists

FRANCESCO TURBIDO, called Il Moro, a painter of Verona, learned the first rudiments of art, when still quite young, from Giorgione da Castelfranco, whom he imitated ever afterwards in coloring and in softness of painting. But just when Il Moro was making progress, he came to words with I know not whom, and handled him so roughly, that he was forced to leave Venice and return to Verona. There, abandoning his painting, since he was somewhat ready with his hands and associated with the young noblemen, being a person of very good breeding, he lived for a time without doing any work. And associating in this way, in particular, with the Counts Sanbonifazi and the Counts Giusti, two illustrious families of Verona, he became so intimate with them that he lived in their houses as if he had been born in them; and, what is more, no long time passed before Count Zenovello Giusti gave him a natural daughter of his own for a wife, and granted him a commodious apartment in his own house for himself, his wife, and the children that were born to them.

It is said that Francesco, while living in the service of those noblemen, always carried a pencil in his pouch; and wherever he went, if only he had time, he would draw a head or something else on the walls. Wherefore the same Count Zenovello, seeing him to be so much inclined to painting, relieved him of his other duties, like the generous nobleman that he was, and made him give his whole attention to art; and since Francesco had all but forgotten everything, he placed himself, through the good offices of that patron, under Liberale, a famous painter and illuminator of that time. And thus, practising under that master without ever ceasing, he went on making such progress from one day to another, that not only did all that he had forgotten awaken in his memory, but he also acquired in a short time as much more knowledge as sufficed to make him an able craftsman. It is true, however, that, although he always held to the manner of Liberale, he yet imitated the softness and well-blended colouring of Giorgione, his first instructor, believing that the works of Liberale, while good in other respects, suffered from a certain dryness.

Now Liberale, having recognized the beauty of Francesco's spirit, conceived such an affection for him, that he loved him ever afterwards as a son, and, when death came upon him, left him heir to all his possessions. And thus, after the death of Liberale, Francesco followed in his steps and executed many works, which are dispersed among various private houses. Of those in Verona which deserve to be extolled above all others, the first is the great chapel of the Duomo, on the vaulting of which are four large pictures painted in fresco, wherein are the Nativity of the Madonna and the Presentation in the Temple, and, in the picture in the center, which appears to recede inwards, three Angels in the air, who are seen foreshortened from below, and are holding a crown of stars wherewith to crown the Madonna, who is in the recess, in the act of ascending into Heaven, accompanied by many Angels, while the Apostles are gazing upwards in attitudes of great variety; and these Apostles are figures twice the size of life. All these pictures were executed by Il Moro after the designs of Giulio Romano, according to the wish of Bishop Giovan Matteo Giberti, who gave the commission for the work, and who, as has been said, was very much the friend of that same Giulio.

After this Il Moro painted the facade of the house of the Manuelli, which stands on the abutment of the Ponte Nuovo, and a facade for Torello Saraina, the doctor, who wrote the above-mentioned book of the Antiquities of Verona. In Friuli, likewise, he painted in fresco the principal chapel of the Abbey of Rosazzo, for Bishop Giovan Matteo, who held it "in commendam," and, being a noble and truly religious dignitary, rebuilt it; for it had been allowed to fall completely into ruin, as such buildings are generally found to be, by those who had held it "in commendam" before him, attending only to the drawing of the revenues and spending not a farthing in the service of God and of the Church.

Il Moro afterwards painted many works in oils at Verona and in Venice. On the outer wall (of a chapel) in S. Maria in Organo he executed in fresco the figures that are still there, with the exception of the Angel Michael and the Angel Raphael, which are by the hand of Paolo Cavazzuola. For the same chapel he painted an altarpiece in oils, wherein he made a portrait of Messer Jacopo Fontani, who gave the commission for the work, in a figure of S. James, in addition to the Madonna and other very beautiful figures. And in a large semicircle above that altarpiece, occupying the whole width of the chapel, he painted the Transfiguration of Our Lord, and the Apostles beneath, which were held to be among the best figures that he ever executed. For the Chapel of the Bombardieri, in S. Eufemia, he painted an altarpiece with S. Barbara in the heavens, in the centre, and a S. Anthony below, with his hand on his beard, which is a most beautiful head, and on the other side a S. Rocco, which is also held to be a very good figure; whence this work is rightly looked upon as one executed with supreme diligence and unity of coloring. In a picture on the altar of the Santificazione, in the Madonna della Scala, he painted a S. Sebastian, in competition with Paolo Cavazzuola, who executed a S. Rocco in another picture; and he afterwards painted an altarpiece that was taken to Bagolino, a place in the mountains of Brescia.

Il Moro executed many portraits, and his heads are in truth beautiful to a marvel, and very good likenesses of those whom they were meant to represent. At Verona he executed a portrait of Count Francesco Sanbonifazio, who, on account of the length of his body, was called the Long Count; with that of one of the Franchi, which was an amazing head. He also painted the portrait of Messer Girolamo Verita', which remained unfinished, because Il Moro was inclined to be dilatory in his work; and this, still unfinished, is in the possession of the sons of that good nobleman. Among many other portraits, likewise, he executed one of the Venetian, Monsignor de' Martini, a knight of Rhodes, and to the same man he sold a head of marvellous beauty and excellence, which he had painted many years before as the portrait of a Venetian gentleman, the son of one who was then Captain in Verona. This head, through the avarice of the Venetian, who never paid him, was left in the hands of Francesco, and he disposed of it to Monsignor de' Martini, who had the Venetian dress changed into that of a shepherd or herdsman. It is as rare a portrait as ever issued from the hand of any craftsman, and it is now in the house of the heirs of the same Monsignor de' Martini, where it is rightly held in vast veneration. In Venice he painted a portrait of Messer Alessandro Contarini, Procurator of S. Mark and Proveditor of the forces, and one of Messer Michele San Michele for one of Messer Michele's dearest friends, who took the portrait to Orvieto; and it is said that he executed another of the same architect, Messer Michele, which is now in the possession of Messer Paolo Ramusio, the son of Messer Giovan Battista. He also painted a portrait of Fracastoro, a very famous poet, at the instance of Monsignor Giberti, by whom it was sent to Giovio, who placed it in his museum.

Il Moro executed many other works, of which there is no need to make mention, although they are all well worthy of remembrance, because he was as diligent a colourist as any master that lived in his day, and because he bestowed much time and labour on his work. So great, indeed, was his diligence, that it brought upon him more blame than praise, as may also be seen at times to happen to others, for the reason that he accepted any commission and took the earnest-money from every patron, and trusted to the will of God to finish the work; and if he did this in his youth, everyone may imagine what he must have done in his last years, when to his natural slowness there was added that which old age brings in its train. By this method of procedure he brought upon himself more entanglements and annoyances than he cared for; and Messer Michele San Michele, therefore, moved by compassion for him, took him into his house in Venice and treated him like a friend and man of talent.

Finally, having been invited back to Verona by his former patrons, the Counts Giusti, Il Moro died among them in their beautiful Palace of S. Maria in Stella, and was buried in the church of that villa, being accompanied to his tomb by all those loving noblemen, and even laid to rest with extraordinary affection by their own hands; for they loved him as a father, since they had all been born and brought up while he was living in their house. In his youth Il Moro was very courageous and agile in body, and handled all kinds of arms with great skill. He was most faithful to his friends and patrons, and he showed spirit in all his actions. His most intimate friends were the architect, Messer Michele San Michele, Danese da Carrara, an excellent sculptor, and the very reverend and most learned Fra Marco de' Medici, who often went after his studies to sit with him, watching him at work, and discoursing lovingly with him, in order to refresh his mind when he was weary with labor.

A disciple and son-in-law of Il Moro, who had two daughters, was Battista d' Agnolo, who was afterwards called Battista del Moro. This master, although he had his hands full for a time with the complications of the inheritance that Il Moro bequeathed to him, has yet executed many works which are not otherwise than passing good. In Verona he has painted a S. John the Baptist in the Church of the Nuns of S. Giuseppe, and in the tramezzo of S. Eufemia, above the altar of S. Paolo, a scene in fresco showing the latter Saint presenting himself to Ananias after being converted by Christ; which work, although he executed it when still a lad, is much extolled. For the noble Counts Canossi he painted two apartments, and in a hall two friezes with battle pieces, which are very beautiful and praised by everyone. In Venice he painted the facade of a house near the Carmine, a work of no great size, but much extolled, in which he executed a figure of Venice crowned and seated upon a lion, the device of that Republic. For Camillo Trevisano he painted the faćade of his house at Murano, and in company with his son Marco he decorated the inner court with very beautiful scenes in chiaroscuro. And in competition with Paolo Veronese he painted a large chamber in the same house, which proved to be so beautiful that it brought him much honor and profit.

The same master has also executed many works in miniature, of which the most recent is a very beautiful drawing of S. Eustachio adoring Christ, who has appeared to him between the horns of a deer, with two dogs near him, which could not be more excellent, and a landscape full of trees, receding and fading away little by little into the distance, which is an exquisite thing. This drawing has been very highly praised by the many persons who have seen it, and particularly by Danese da Carrara, who saw it when he was in Verona, carrying out the work of the Chapel of the Signori Fregosi, which is one of rare distinction among all the number that there are in Italy at the present day. Danese, I say, having seen this drawing, was lost in astonishment at its beauty, and exhorted the above-mentioned Fra Marco de' Medici, his old and particular friend, not for anything in the world to let it slip through his hands, but to contrive to place it among the other choice examples of all the arts in his possession. Whereupon Battista, having heard that Fra Marco desired it, and knowing of his friendship with his father-in-law, gave it to him, almost forcing him to accept it, in the presence of Danese; nor was that good Father ungrateful to him for so much courtesy. However, since that same Battista and his son Marco are alive and still at work, I shall say nothing more of them for the present.

Il Moro had another disciple, called Orlando Fiacco, who has become a good master and a very able painter of portraits, as may be seen from the many that he has painted, all very beautiful and most lifelike. He made a portrait of Cardinal Caraffa when he was returning from Germany, which he took secretly by torch light while the Cardinal was at supper in the Vescovado of Verona; and this was such a faithful likeness that it could not have been improved. He also painted a very lifelike portrait of the Cardinal of Lorraine, when, coming from the Council of Trent, he passed through Verona on his return to Rome; and likewise portraits of the two Bishops Lippomani of Verona, Luigi the uncle and Agostino the nephew, which Count Giovan Battista della Torre now has in a little apartment. Other portraits that he painted were those of Messer Adamo Fumani, a Canon and a very learned gentleman of Verona, of Messer Vincenzio de' Medici of Verona, and of his consort, Madonna Isotta, in the guise of S. Helen, and of their grandson, Messer Niccol˜. He has likewise executed portraits of Count Antonio della Torre, of Count Girolamo Canossi, and his brothers, Count Lodovico and Count Paolo, of Signor Astorre Baglioni, Captain-General of all the light cavalry of Venice and Governor of Verona, the latter clad in white armor and most beautiful in aspect, and of his consort, Signora Ginevra Salviati. In like manner, he has portrayed the eminent architect Palladio and many others; and he still continues at work, wishing to become in the art of painting as true an Orlando as once was that great Paladin of France.

In Verona, where an extraordinary degree of attention has been given to design ever since the death of Fra Giocondo, there have flourished at all times men excellent in painting and architecture, as will now be seen, in addition to what has been observed hitherto, in the Lives of Francesco Monsignori, of Domenico Morone and his son Francesco, of Paolo Cavazzuola, of the architect Falconetto, and, lastly, of the miniaturists Francesco and Girolamo.

 

 

FRA GIOCONDO and Other ARTISTS OF VERONA

Part 5: FRANCESCO MONSIGNORI, DOMENICO MORONE, PAOLO CAVAZZUOLA, and THE FALCONETTO FAMILY


Vasari's Lives of the Artists

FRANCESCO MONSIGNORI, the son of Alberto, was born at Verona in the year 1455; and when he was well grown he was advised by his father, who had always delighted in painting, although he had not practised it save for his own pleasure, to give his attention to design. Having, therefore, gone to Mantua to seek out Mantegna, who was then working in that city, he exerted himself in such a manner, being fired by the fame of his instructor, that no long time passed before Francesco II, Marquis of Mantua, who found an extraordinary delight in painting, took him into his own service; and in the year 1487 he gave him a house for his habitation in Mantua, and assigned him an honorable provision. For these benefits Francesco was not ungrateful, for he always served that lord with supreme fidelity and lovingness; whence the Marquis came to love and favour him more and more every day, insomuch that he could not leave the city without having Francesco in his train, and was once heard to say that Francesco was as dear to him as the State itself.

Francesco painted many works for that lord in his Palace of S. Sebastiano at Mantua, and also in the Castello di Gonzaga and in the beautiful Palace of Marmirolo without the city. In the latter Francesco had finished painting in the year 1499, after a vast number of other pictures, some triumphs and many portraits of gentlemen of the Court; and on Christmas Eve, on which day he had finished those works, the Marquis presented to him an estate of a hundred fields in the territory of Mantua, at a place called La Marzotta, with a mansion, garden, meadows, and other things of great beauty and convenience. He was most excellent at taking portraits from life, and the Marquis caused him to paint many portraits, of himself, of his sons, and of many other lords of the house of Gonzaga, which were sent to France and Germany as presents for various Princes. And many of these portraits are still in Mantua, such as those of the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa; of Doge Barbarigo of Venice; of Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan; of Massimiliano, also Duke of Milan, who died in France; of the Emperor Maximilian; of Signor Ercole Gonzaga, who afterwards became a Cardinal; of his brother, Duke Federigo (then a young man); of Signor Giovan Francesco Gonzaga; of Messer Andrea Mantegna, the painter; and of many others; of all which Francesco preserved copies drawn on paper in chiaroscuro, which are now in the possession of his heirs at Mantua.

Above the pulpit of S. Francesco de' Zoccolanti, in the same city, is a picture that he painted of S. Louis and S. Bernardino holding a large circle that contains the name of Jesus; and in the refectory of those friars there is a picture on canvas as large as the whole of the head wall, of the Saviour in the midst of the twelve Apostles, painted in perspective and all very beautiful, and executed with many proofs of consideration. Among them is the traitor Judas, with a face wholly different from those of the others, and in a strange attitude; and the others are all gazing intently at Jesus, who is speaking to them, being near His Passion. On the right hand of this work is a S. Francis of the size of life, a very beautiful figure, the countenance of which is the very presentment of that sanctity which was peculiar to that most saintly man; and he is presenting to Christ the Marquis Francesco, who is kneeling at his feet, portrayed from life in a long coat pleated and worked with a curly pattern, according to the fashion of those times, and embroidered with white crosses, perchance because he may have been at that time Captain of the Venetians. And in front of the Marquis is a portrait, with the hands clasped, of his eldest son, who was then a very beautiful boy, and afterwards became Duke Federigo. On the other side is painted a S. Bernardino, equal in excellence to the figure of S. Francis, and likewise presenting to Christ the brother of the Marquis, Cardinal Sigismondo Gonzaga, a very beautiful kneeling figure, robed in the habit of a Cardinal, with the rochet, which is also a portrait from life; and in front of that Cardinal is a portrait of Signora Leonora, the daughter of the same Marquis, who was then a girl, and afterwards became Duchess of Urbino. This whole work is held by the most excellent painters to be a marvellous thing.

The same master painted a picture of S. Sebastian, which was afterwards placed in the Madonna delle Grazie, without the city of Mantua; and to this he devoted extraordinary pains, copying many things in it from the life. It is related that the Marquis, going one day, while Francesco was executing this picture, to see him at work, as he used often to do, said to him: "Francesco, you must take some fine figure as your model in painting this Saint." To which Francesco answered: "I am using as my model a porter with a very handsome figure, whom I bind in a fashion of my own in order to make the work natural." "But the limbs of this Saint of yours," rejoined the Marquis, "are not true to life, for they have not the appearance of being strained by force or by that fear which one would expect in a man bound and shot with arrows; and by your leave I will undertake to show you what you ought to do in order to make this figure perfect." "Nay, but I beg you to do it, my lord," said Francesco; and the Marquis added: "When you have your porter bound here, send for me, and I will show you what you must do." The next day, therefore, when Francesco had the porter bound in the manner that he wished, he sent a secret summons to the Marquis, but without knowing what he intended to do. And the Marquis, bursting out of a neighboring room in a great fury, with a loaded cross-bow in his hand, rushed towards the porter, crying out at the top of his voice, "Traitor, prepare to die! At last I have caught thee as I would have thee," and other suchlike words; which hearing, the wretched porter, thinking himself as good as dead, struggled in a frenzy of terror with the ropes wherewith he was bound, and made frantic efforts to break them, thus truly representing one about to be shot with arrows, and revealing fear in his face and the horror of death in his strained and distorted limbs, as he sought to escape from his peril. This done, the Marquis said to Francesco, "There he is in the state that he ought to be: the rest is for you to do"; which the painter having well considered, made his figure as perfect as could be imagined.

Francesco painted in the Gonzaga Palace, besides many other things, the Election of the first Lords of Mantua, with the jousts that were held on the Piazza di S. Piero, which is seen there in perspective. When the Grand Turk sent one of his men with a most beautiful dog, a bow, and a quiver, as presents for the Marquis, the latter caused the dog, the Turk who had brought it, and the other things, to be painted in the same Gonzaga Palace; and, this done, wishing to see whether the painted dog were truly lifelike, he had one of his own dogs, of a breed very hostile to the Turkish dog, brought to the place where the other one stood on a pedestal painted in imitation of stone. The living dog, then, arriving there, had no sooner seen the painted one than, precisely as if it had been a living animal and the very one for whom he had a mortal hatred, he broke loose from his keeper and rushed at it with such vehemence, in order to bite it, that he struck his head full against the wall and dashed it all to pieces.

Another story is told by persons who were present at the scene, of a little picture by the hand of Francesco, little more than two span in height, and belonging to his nephew Benedetto Baroni, in which is a Madonna painted in oils, from the breast upwards, and almost life-size, and, lower down, in the corner of the picture, the Child, seen from the shoulders upwards, with one arm uplifted and n the act of caressing His Mother. It is related, I say, that, when the Emperor was master of Verona, Don Alfonso of Castille and Alarcon, a very famous Captain, happened to be in that city on behalf of His Majesty and the Catholic King; and that these lords, being in the house of the Veronese Count Lodovico da Sesso, said that they had a great desire to see that picture. Whereupon it was sent for; and one evening they were standing contemplating it in a good light, and admiring its masterly workmanship, when Signora Caterina, the wife of the Count, entered into the room where those noblemen were, together with one of her sons, who had on his wrist one of those green birds--called in Verona "terrazzani," because they make their nests on the ground--which learn to perch on the wrist, like hawks. It happened, then, that, while she stood with the others contemplating the picture, the bird, seeing the extended arm and wrist of the painted Child, flew to perch upon it; but, not having been able to find a hold on the surface of the painting, and having therefore fallen to the ground, it twice returned to settle on the wrist of that painted Child, precisely as if it had been one of those living children who were always holding it on their wrists. At which those noblemen, being amazed, offered to pay a great price to Benedetto for the picture, if only he would give it to them; but it was not possible by any means to wrest it from him. Not long afterwards the same persons planned to have it stolen from him on the day of the festival of S. Biagio in S. Nazzaro; but the owner was informed of this, and their design did not succeed.

For S. Paolo, in Verona, Francesco painted a panel picture in gouache, which is very beautiful, and another, also most beautiful, for the Chapel of the Bandi in S. Bernardino. In Mantua he executed for Verona a picture with two most lovely nudes, a Madonna in the sky, with the Child in her arms, and some Angels, all marvellous figures, which is in the chapel where S. Biagio is buried, in the Black Friars Church of S. Nazzaro.

Francesco was a man of saintly life, and the enemy of every vice, insomuch that he would never on any account paint licentious works, although he was very often entreated to do so by the Marquis; and equal to him in goodness were his brothers, as will be related in the proper place. Finally, being old, and suffering in the bladder, Francesco, with the leave of the Marquis and by the advice of the physicians, went with his wife and many servants to the Baths of Caldero, in the territory of Verona, to take the waters. There, one day, after he had drunk the water, he allowed himself to be overcome by drowsiness, and slept a little, being indulged in this by his wife out of compassion; whereupon, a violent fever having come upon him in consequence of his sleeping, which is a deadly thing for one who has just taken that water, he finished the course of his life on the second day of July, 1519; which having been reported to the Marquis, he straightway sent orders by a courier that the body of Francesco should be brought to Mantua. This was done, although it gave little pleasure to the people of Verona; and he was laid to rest with great honour in the burial-place of the Compagnia Segreta in S. Francesco at Mantua. Francesco lived to the age of sixty-four, and the portrait of him which belongs to Messer Fermo was executed when he was fifty. Many compositions were written in his praise, and he was mourned by all who knew him as a virtuous and saintly man, which he was. He had for wife Madonna Francesca Gioacchini of Verona, but he had no children.

The eldest of his three brothers was called Monsignore; and he, being a person of culture and learning, received offices with good salaries in Mantua from the Marquis, on account of that nobleman's love of Francesco. He lived to the age of eighty, and left children, who keep the family of the Monsignori alive in Mantua. Another brother of Francesco had the name of Girolamo when in the world, and of Fra Cherubino among the Frati Zoccolanti di San Francesco; and he was a very beautiful calligrapher and illuminator. The third, who was a Friar of S. Dominic and an Observantine, and was called Fra Girolamo, chose out of humility to become a lay brother. He was not only a man of good and holy life, but also a passing good painter, as may be seen in the Convent of S. Domenico in Mantua, where, besides other works, he executed a most beautiful Last Supper in the refectory, with a Passion of Christ, which remained unfinished on account of his death. The same friar painted the beautiful Last Supper that is in the refectory of the very rich abbey which the Monks of S. Benedict possess in the territory of Mantua. In S. Domenico he painted the altar of the Rosary; and in the Convent of S. Anastasia, in Verona, he painted in fresco the Madonna, S. Remigio the Bishop, and S. Anastasia; with a Madonna, S. Dominic, and S. Thomas Aquinas, all executed with mastery, on a little arch over the second door of entrance in the second cloister.

Fra Girolamo was a person of great simplicity, wholly indifferent to the things of the world. He lived in the country, at a farm belonging to his convent, in order to avoid all noise and disturbance, and the money sent to him in return for his works, which he used for buying colors and suchlike things, he kept in a box without a cover, hung from the ceiling in the middle of his chamber, so that all who wished could take some; and in order not to have the trouble of thinking every day what he was to eat, he used to cook a pot of beans every Monday to last him the whole week.

When the plague came to Mantua and the sick were abandoned by all, as happens in such cases, Fra Girolamo, with no other motive but the purest love, would never desert the poor plague-stricken monks, and even tended them all day long with his own hands. And thus, careless of his life for the love of God, he became infected with that malady and died at the age of sixty, to the great grief of all who knew him.

But to return to Francesco Monsignori: he painted a lifesize portrait, which I forgot to mention above, of Count Ercole Giusti of Verona, in a robe of cloth of gold, such as he was wont to wear; and this is a very beautiful likeness, as may be seen in the house of his son, Count Giusto.

Domenico Morone, who was born at Verona about the year 1430, learned the art of painting from some masters who were disciples of Stefano, and from works by the same Stefano, by Jacopo Bellini, by Pisano, and by others, which he saw and copied. Saying nothing of the many pictures that he executed after the manner of those times, which are now in monasteries and private houses, I begin by recording that he painted in chiaroscuro, with "terretta verde," the facade of a house belonging to the city of Verona, on the square called the Piazza de' Signori; and in this may be seen many ornamental friezes and scenes from ancient history, with a very beautiful arrangement of figures and costumes of bygone days. But the best work to be seen by the hand of this master is the Leading of Christ to the Cross, with a multitude of figures and horses, which is in S. Bernardino, on the wall above the Chapel of the Monte di Pieta', for which Liberale painted the picture of the Deposition with the weeping Angels. The same Domenico received a commission to paint the chapel that is next to that one, both within and without, at great expense and with a lavish use of gold, from the Chevalier, Messer Niccolo' de' Medici, who was considered to be the richest man of his day in Verona, and who spent great sums of money on other pious works, being a man who was inclined to this by nature. This gentleman, after he had built many monasteries and churches, and had left scarcely any place in that city where he had not executed some noble and costly work to the honour of God, chose as his burial-place the chapel mentioned above, for the ornamentation of which he availed himself of Domenico, at that time more famous than any other painter in that city, Liberale being in Siena.

Domenico, then, painted in the interior of this chapel the Miracles of S. Anthony of Padua, to whom it is dedicated, and portrayed the Chevalier in an old man with shaven face and white hair, without any cap, and wearing a long gown of cloth of gold, such as Chevaliers used to wear in those times. All this, for a work in fresco, is very well designed and executed. Then, in certain medallions in the outer vaulting, which is all overlaid with gold, he painted the four Evangelists; and on the pilasters both within and without he executed figures of Saints, among which are S. Elizabeth of the Third Order of S. Francis, S. Helen, and S. Catharine, which are very beautiful figures, and much extolled for the draughtsmanship, colouring, and grace. This work, then, can bear witness to the talent of Domenico and to the magnificent liberality of that Chevalier.

Domenico died very old, and was buried in S. Bernardino, wherein are the works by his hand described above, leaving his son, Francesco Morone, heir to his property and his talents. This Francesco, who learned the first principles of art from his father, afterwards exerted himself in such a manner that in a short time he became a much better master than his father had been, as the works that he executed in emulation of those of his father clearly demonstrate. Below his father's work on the altar of the Monte, in the aforesaid Church of S. Bernardino, Francesco painted in oils the folding-doors that enclose the altar-piece of Liberale; on the inner side of which he depicted in one the Virgin, and n the other S. John the Evangelist, both life-size figures, with great beauty in the faces, which are weeping, in the draperies, and in every other part. In the same chapel, at the foot of the face of that wall which serves as headwall to the tramezzo, he painted the Miracle that Our Lord performed with the five loaves and two fishes, which satisfied the multitude; and in this are many beautiful figures and many portraits from life, but most of all is praise given to a S. John the Evangelist, who is very slender, and has his back partly turned towards the spectator. He then executed in the same place, beside the altarpiece, in the vacant spaces on the wall against which it rests, a S. Louis, Bishop and Friar of S. Francis, and another figure; with some heads in foreshortening in a sunk medallion on the vaulting. All these works are much extolled by the painters of Verona. And for the altar of the Cross, on which are so many painted pictures, between that chapel and the Chapel of the Medici, in the same church, he executed a picture which is in the centre above all the others, containing Christ on the Cross, the Madonna, and S. John, and very beautiful. In another picture, which is above that of Caroto, on the left hand side of the same altar, he painted Our Lord washing the feet of the Apostles, who are seen in various attitudes; in which work, so men say, this painter made a portrait of himself in the figure of one who is serving Christ by bringing water.

For the Chapel of the Emilii, in the Duomo, Francesco executed a S. James and a S. John, one on either side of Christ, who is bearing His Cross; and the beauty and excellence of these two figures leave nothing to be desired. The same master executed many works at Lonico, in an abbey of Monks of Monte Oliveto, whither great multitudes flock together to adore a figure of the Madonna which performs many miracles in that place. Afterwards, Francesco being very much the friend, and, as it were, the brother of Girolamo dai Libri, the painter and illuminator, they undertook to paint in company the organ doors of S. Maria in Organo, a church of Monks of Monte Oliveto. In one of these, on the outer side, Francesco painted a S. Benedict clothed in white, and S. John the Evangelist, and on the inner side the Prophets Daniel and Isaiah, with two little Angels in the air, and a ground all full of very beautiful landscapes. And then he executed the great altarpiece of the altar of the Muletta, painting therein a S. Peter and a S. John, which are little more than one braccio in height, but wrought so well and with such diligence, that they have the appearance of miniatures. The carvings of this work were executed by Fra Giovanni da Verona, a master of tarsia and carving.

In the same place, on the wall of the choir, Francesco painted two scenes in fresco--one of Our Lord riding on an ass into Jerusalem, and the other of His Prayer in the Garden, wherein, on one side, is the armed multitude coming to take Him, guided by Judas. But more beautiful than all the rest is the vaulted sacristy, which is all painted by the same master, excepting only the S. Anthony being scourged by Demons, which is said to be by the hand of his father, Domenico. In this sacristy, then, besides the Christ and some little Angels that are seen in foreshortening on the vaulting, he painted in the lunettes, two in each niche, and robed in their pontifical vestments, the various Popes who have been exalted to the Pontificate from the Order of S. Benedict. Round the sacristy, below the unettes of the vaulting, is drawn a frieze four feet high, and divided into compartments, wherein are painted in the monastic habit various Emperors, Kings, Dukes, and other Princes, who have abandoned the States and Principalities that they ruled, and have become monks. In these figures Francesco made portraits from life of many of the monks who had their habitation or a temporary abode in that monastery, the while that he was working there; and among them are portraits of many novices and other monks of every kind, which are heads of great beauty, and executed with much diligence. In truth, by reason of these ornaments, that was then the most beautiful sacristy that there was in all Italy, since, in addition to the beauty of the room, which is of considerable size and well proportioned, and the pictures described above, which are also very beautiful, there is at the foot of the walls a range of panelled seats adorned with fine perspective-views, so well executed in tarsia and carving, that there is no work to be seen of those times, and perchance even of our own, that is much better. For Fra Giovanni da Verona, who executed this work, was most excellent in that art, as was said in the Life of Raffaello da Urbino, and as is demonstrated not only by his many other works in houses of his Order, but also by those that are in the Papal Palace at Rome, in Monte Oliveto di Chiusuri in the territory of Siena, and in other places. But those of this sacristy are the best of all the works that Fra Giovanni ever executed, for the reason that it may be said that in them he surpassed himself by as much as he excelled in the rest every other master. Among other things, Fra Giovanni carved for this place a candelabrum more than fourteen feet in height to hold the Paschal candle, all made of walnut wood, and wrought with such extraordinary patience that I do not believe that there is a better work of the same kind to be seen.

But to return to Francesco: he painted for the same church the panel picture which is in the Chapel of the Counts Giusti, in which he depicted the Madonna, with S. Augustine and S. Martin in pontifical robes. And in the cloister he executed a Deposition from the Cross, with the Maries and other Saints, works in fresco which are much extolled in Verona. In the Church of the Vittoria he painted the Chapel of the Fumanelli, which is below the wall that supports the choir which was built by the Chevalier Messer Niccolo' de' Medici; and a Madonna in fresco in the cloister. And afterwards he painted a portrait from life of Messer Antonio Fumanelli, a physician very famous for the works written by him in connection with his profession. He painted in fresco, also, on a house which is seen on the left hand as one crosses the Ponte delle Navi on the way to S. Paolo, a Madonna with many Saints, which is held to be a very beautiful work, both in design and in coloring; and on the house of the Sparvieri, in the Bra', opposite to the garden of the Friars of S. Fermo, he painted another like it. Francesco painted a number of other works, of which there is no need to make mention, since the best have been described; let it suffice to say that he gave grace, unity, and good design to his pictures, with a colouring as vivid and pleasing as that of any other painter. Francesco lived fifty-five years, and died on May 16, 1529. He chose to be carried to his tomb in the habit of a Friar of S. Francis, and he was buried in S. Domenico, beside his father. He was so good a man, so religious, and so exemplary, that there was never heard to issue from his mouth any word that was otherwise than seemly.

A disciple of Francesco, and much more able than his master, was the Veronese Paolo Cavazzuola, who executed many works in Verona; I say in Verona, because it is not known that he ever worked in any other place. In S. Nazzaro, a seat of Black Friars at Verona, he painted many works in fresco near those of his master Francesco; but these were all thrown to the ground when that church was rebuilt by the pious munificence of the reverend Father, Don Mauro Lonichi, a nobleman of Verona and Abbot of that Monastery. On the old house of the Fumanelli, in the Via del Paradiso, Paolo painted, likewise in fresco, the Sibyl showing to Augustus Our Lord in the heavens, in the arms of His Mother; which work is beautiful enough for one of the first that he executed. On the outer side of the Chapel of the Fontani, in S. Maria in Organo, he painted, also in fresco, two Angels—namely, S. Michael and S. Raphael. In the street into which there opens the Chapel of the Angel Raphael, in S. Eufemia, over a window that gives light to a recess in the staircase of that chapel, he painted the Angel Raphael, and with him Tobias, whom he guided on his journey; which was a very beautiful little work. And in S. Bernardino, in a round picture over the door where there is the bell, he painted a S. Bernardino in fresco, and in another round picture on the same wall, but lower down, and above the entrance to a confessional, a S. Francis, which is beautiful and well executed, as is also the S. Bernardino. These are all the works that Paolo is known to have painted in fresco.

As for his works in oils, he painted a picture of S. Rocco for the altar of the Santificazione in the Church of the Madonna della Scala, in emulation of the S. Sebastian which Il Moro painted for the other side of the same place; which S. Rocco is a very beautiful figure. But the best figures that this painter ever executed are in S. Bernardino, where all the large pictures that are on the altar of the Cross, round the principal altarpiece, are by his hand, excepting that with the Christ Crucified, the Madonna, and S. John, which is above all the others, and is by the hand of his master Francesco. Beside it, in the upper part, are two large pictures by the hand of Paolo, in one of which is Christ being scourged at the Column, and in the other His Coronation, painted with many figures somewhat more than lifesize. In the principal picture, which is lower down, in the first range, he painted a Deposition from the Cross, with the Madonna, the Magdalene, S. John, Nicodemus, and Joseph; and he made a portrait of himself, so good that it has the appearance of life, in one of these figures, a young man with a red beard, who is near the Tree of the Cross, with a coif on his head, such as it was the custom to wear at that time. On the right-hand side is a picture by Paolo of Our Lord in the Garden, with the three Disciples near Him; and on the left-hand side is another of Christ with the Cross on His shoulder, being led to Mount Calvary. The excellence of these works, which stand out strongly in comparison with those by the hand of his master that are in the same place, will always give Paolo a place among the best craftsmen.

On the base he painted some Saints from the breast upwards, which are all portraits from life. The first figure, wearing the habit of S. Francis, and representing a Beato, is a portrait of Fra Girolamo Rechalchi, a noble Veronese; the figure beside the first, painted to represent S. Bonaventura, is the portrait of Fra Bonaventura Rechalchi, brother of the aforesaid Fra Girolamo; and the head of S. Joseph is the portrait of a steward of the Marchesi Malespini, who had been charged at that time by the Company of the Cross to see to the execution of this work. All these heads are very beautiful.

For the same church Paolo painted the altarpiece of the Chapel of S. Francesco, in which work, the last that he executed, he surpassed himself. There are in it six figures larger than life; one being S. Elizabeth, of the Third Order of S. Francis, who is a most beautiful figure, with a smiling air and a gracious countenance, and with her lap full of roses; and she seems to be rejoicing at the sight of the bread that she, great lady as she was, had been carrying to the poor, turned by a miracle of God into roses, in token that her humble charity in thus ministering to the poor with her own hands was acceptable to God. This figure is a portrait of a widowed lady of the Sacchi family. Among the other figures are S. Bonaventura the Cardinal and S. Louis the Bishop, both Friars of S. Francis. Near these are S. Louis, King of France, S. Eleazar in a grey habit, and S. Ivo in the habit of a priest. Then there is the Madonna on a cloud above them all, with S. Francis and other figures round her; but it is said that these are not by the hand of Paolo, but by that of a friend who helped him to execute the picture; and it is evident, indeed, that these figures are not equal in excellence to those beneath. And in this picture is a portrait from life of Madonna Caterina de' Sacchi, who gave the commission for the work.

Now Paolo, having set his heart on becoming great and famous, made to this end such immoderate exertions that he fell ill and died at the early age of thirty-one, at the very moment when he was beginning to give proofs of what might be expected from him at a riper age. It is certain that Paolo, if Fortune had not crossed him at the height of his activity, would without a doubt have attained to the highest, best, and greatest honors that could be desired by a painter. His loss, therefore, grieved not only his friends, but all men of talent and everyone who knew him, and all the more because he had been a young man of excellent character, untainted by a single vice. He was buried in S. Paolo, after making himself immortal by the beautiful works that he left behind him.

Stefano Veronese, a very rare painter in his day, as has been related, had a brother-german, called Giovanni Antonio, who, although he learned to paint from that same Stefano, nevertheless did not become anything more than a mediocre painter, as may be seen from his works, of which there is no need to make mention. To this Giovanni Antonio was born a son, called Jacopo, who likewise became a painter of commonplace works; and to Jacopo were born Giovan Maria, called Falconetto, whose Life we are about to write, and Giovanni Antonio. The latter, devoting himself to painting, executed many works at Rovereto, a very famous township in the Trentino, and many pictures at Verona, which are dispersed among the houses of private citizens. He also painted many works in the valley of the Adige, above Verona, and a panel picture of S. Nicholas, with many animals, at Sacco, opposite to Rovereto, with many others; after which he finally died at Rovereto, where he had gone to live. This master was particularly excellent in making animals and fruits, of which many very beautiful drawings, executed in miniature, were taken to France by the Veronese Mondella; and many of them were given by Agnolo, the son of Giovanni Antonio, to Messer Girolamo Lioni, a Venetian gentleman of noble spirit.

 

 

FRA GIOCONDO and Other ARTISTS OF VERONA

Part 6: GIOVANNI MARIA FALCONETTO and BARTOLOMEO RIDOLFI


Vasari's Lives of the Artists

BUT TO COME AT LAST to Giovan Maria [Falconetto], the brother of Giovanni Antonio. He learned the rudiments of painting from his father, whose manner he rendered no little better and grander, although even he was not a painter of much reputation, as is evident from the Chapels of the Maffei and of the Emilii in the Duomo of Verona, from the upper part of the cupola of S. Nazzaro, and from works in other places. This master, recognizing the little value of his work in painting, and delighting beyond measure in architecture, set himself with great diligence to study and draw all the antiquities in his native city of Verona. He then resolved to visit Rome, and to learn architecture from its marvellous remains, which are the true masters; and he made his way to that city, and stayed there twelve whole years. That time he spent, for the most part, in examining and drawing all those marvellous antiquities, searching out in every place all the groundplans that he could see and all the measurements that he could find. Nor did he leave anything in Rome, either buildings or their members, such as cornices, capitals, and columns, of whatsoever Order, that he did not draw with his own hand, with all the measurements; and he also drew all the sculptures which were discovered in those times, insomuch that when he returned to his own country, after those twelve years, he was rich in all the treasures of his art. And, not content with the things in the city of Rome itself, he drew all that was good and beautiful in the whole of the Roman Campagna, going even as far as the Kingdom of Naples, the Duchy of Spoleto, and other parts. It is said that Giovan Maria, being poor, and therefore having little wherewith to live or to maintain himself in Rome, used to spend two or three days every week in assisting some painter with his work; and with his earnings, since at that time masters were well paid and living was cheap, he was able to live the other days of the week, pursuing the studies of architecture. Thus, then, he drew all those antiquities as if they were complete, reconstructing them in his drawings from the parts and members that he saw, from which he imagined all the other parts of the buildings in all their perfection and integrity, and all with such true measurements and proportions, that he could not make an error in a single detail.

Having returned to Verona, and finding no opportunity of exercising himself in architecture, since his native city was in the throes of a change of government, Giovan Maria gave his attention for the time to painting, and executed many works. On the house of the Della Torre family he painted a large escutcheon crowned by some trophies; and for two German noblemen, counsellors of the Emperor Maximilian, he executed in fresco some scenes from the Scriptures on a wall of the little Church of S. Giorgio, and painted there life-size portraits of those two Germans, one kneeling on one side and one on the other. He executed a number of works at Mantua, for Signor Luigi Gonzaga; and some others at Osimo, in the March of Ancona. And while the city of Verona was under the Emperor, he painted the imperial arms on all the public buildings, and received for this from the Emperor a good salary and a patent of privilege, from which it may be seen that many favors and exemptions were granted to him, both on account of his good service in matters of art, and because he was a man of great spirit, brave and formidable in the use of arms, with which he might likewise be expected to give valiant and faithful service: and all the more because he drew after him, on account of the great credit that he had with his neighbours, the whole mass of the people who lived in the Borgo di San Zeno, a very populous part of the city, in which he had been born and had taken a wife from the family of the Provali. For these reasons, then, he had all the inhabitants of his district as his following, and was called throughout the city by no other name but that of the "Red-head of San Zeno."

Now, when the city again changed its government and returned to the rule of its ancient masters the Venetians, Giovan Maria, being known as one who had served the party of the Emperor, was forced to seek safety in flight; and he went, therefore, to Trento, where he passed some time painting certain pictures. Finally, however, when matters had mended, he made his way to Padua, where he was first received in audience and then much favored by the very reverend Monsignor Bembo, who presented him not long afterwards to the illustrious Messer Luigi Cornaro, a Venetian gentleman of lofty spirit and truly regal mind, as is proved by his many magnificent enterprises. This gentleman, who, in addition to his other truly noble qualities, delighted in the study of architecture, the knowledge of which is worthy of no matter how great a Prince, had therefore read the works of Vitruvius, Leon Batista Alberti, and others who have written on this subject, and he wished to put what he had learned into practice. And when he saw the designs of Falconetto, and perceived with what profound knowledge he spoke of these matters, and rendered clear all the difficulties that can arise through the variety of the Orders of architecture, he conceived such a love for him that he took him into his own house and kept him there as an honored guest for twenty-one years, which was the whole of the rest of Giovan Maria's life.

During this time Falconetto executed many works with the help of the same Messer Luigi. The latter, desiring to see the antiquities of Rome on the spot, even as he had seen them in the drawings of Giovan Maria, went to Rome, taking him with him; and there he devoted himself to examining everything minutely, having him always in his company. After they had returned to Padua, a beginning was made with building from the design and model of Falconetto that most beautiful and ornate loggia which is in the house of the Cornari, near the Santo; and the palace was to be erected next, after the model made by Messer Luigi himself. In this loggia the name of Giovan Maria is carved on a pilaster.

The same architect built a very large and magnificent Doric portal for the Palace of the Captain of that place; and this portal is much praised by everyone as a work of great purity. He also erected two very beautiful gates for the city, one of which, called the Porta di S. Giovanni, and leading to Vicenza, is very fine, and commodious for the soldiers who guard it; and the other, which is very well designed, was called the Porta Savonarola. He made, likewise, for the Friars of S. Dominic, the design and model of the Church of S. Maria delle Grazie, and laid the foundations; and this work, as may be seen from the model, is so beautiful and well designed, that one of equal size to rival it has perhaps never been seen up to our own day in any other place. And by the same master was made the model of a most superb palace for Signor Girolamo Savorgnano, at his well fortified stronghold of Usopo in Friuli; for which all the foundations were then laid, and it had begun to rise above the ground, when, by reason of the death of that nobleman, it was left in that condition without being carried further; but if this building had been finished, it would have been a marvel.

About the same time Falconetto went to Pola, in Istria, for the sole purpose of seeing and drawing the theatre, amphitheatre, and arch that are in that most ancient city. He was the first who made drawings of theatres and amphitheatres and traced their groundplans, and those that are to be seen, particularly in the case of Verona, came from him, and were printed at the instance of others after his designs. Giovan Maria was a man of exalted mind, and, being one who had never done anything else but draw the great works of antiquity, he desired nothing save that there should be presented to him opportunities of executing works similar to those in greatness. He would sometimes make groundplans and designs for them, with the very same pains that he would have taken if he had been commissioned to put them into execution at once; and in this he lost himself so much, so to speak, that he would not deign to make designs for the private houses of gentlemen, either in the country or in the city, although he was much besought to do so.

Giovan Maria was in Rome on many occasions besides those described above; whence that journey was so familiar to him, that when he was young and vigorous he would undertake it on the slightest opportunity. Persons who are still alive relate that, falling one day into a discussion with a foreign architect, who happened to be in Verona, about the measurements of I know not what ancient cornice in Rome, after many words Giovan Maria said, "I will soon make myself certain in this matter," and then went straight to his house and set out on his way to Rome.

This master made for the Cornaro family two very beautiful designs of tombs, which were to be erected in S. Salvatore, at Venice--one for the Queen of Cyprus, a lady of that family, and the other for Cardinal Marco Cornaro, who was the first of that house to be honoured with that dignity. And in order that these designs might be carried out, a great quantity of marble was quarried at Carrara and taken to Venice, where the rough blocks still are, in the house of the same Cornari.

Giovan Maria was the first who brought the true methods of building and of good architecture to Verona, Venice, and all those parts, where before him there had not been one who knew how to make even a cornice or a capital, or understood either the measurements or the proportions of a column or of any Order of architecture, as is evident from the buildings that were erected before his day. This knowledge was afterwards much increased by Fra Giocondo, who lived about the same time, and it received its final perfection from Messer Michele San Michele, insomuch that those parts are therefore under an everlasting obligation to the people of Verona, in which city were born and lived at one and the same time these three most excellent architects. To them there then succeeded Sansovino, who, not resting content with architecture, which he found already grounded and established by the three masters mentioned above, also brought thither sculpture, to the end that by its means their buildings might have all the adornments that were proper to them. And for this a debt of gratitude--if one may use such a word--is due to the ruin of Rome, by reason of which the masters were dispersed over many places and the beauties of these arts communicated throughout all Europe.

Giovan Maria caused some works in stucco to be carried out in Venice, and taught the method of executing them. Some declare that when he was a young man he had the vaulting of the Chapel of the Santo, at Padua, decorated with stucco by Tiziano da Padova and many others, and also had similar works executed in the house of the Cornari, which are very beautiful. He taught his work to two of his sons, Ottaviano, who was, like himself, also a painter, and Provolo. Alessandro, his third son, worked in his youth at making armor, and afterwards adopted the calling of a soldier; he was three times victor in the lists, and finally, when a captain of infantry, died fighting valiantly before Turin in Piedmont, having been wounded by a harquebus ball.

Giovan Maria, on his part, after being crippled by gout, finished the course of his life at Padua, in the house of the aforesaid Messer Luigi Cornaro, who always loved him like a brother, or rather, like his own self. And to the end that there might be no separation in death between the bodies of those whose minds had been united together in the world by friendship and love of art, Messer Luigi had intended that Giovan Maria should be laid to rest beside himself in the tomb that was to be erected for his own burial, together with that most humorous poet, Ruzzante, his very familiar friend, who lived and died in his house; but I do not know whether this design of the illustrious Cornaro was ever carried into effect. Giovan Maria was a fine talker, pleasant and agreeable in conversation, and very acute in repartee, insomuch that Cornaro used to declare that a whole book could have been made with his sayings. And since, although he was crippled by gout, he lived cheerfully, he preserved his life to the age of seventy-six, dying in 1534.

He had six daughters, five of whom he gave in marriage himself, and the sixth was married by her brothers, after his death, to Bartolomeo Ridolfi of Verona, who executed many works in stucco in company with them, and was a much better master than they were. This may be seen from his works in many places, and in particular at Verona, in the house of Fiorio della Seta on the Ponte Nuovo, in which he decorated some apartments in a very beautiful manner. There are others in the house of the noble Counts Canossi, which are amazing; and such, also, are those that he executed in the house of the Murati, near S. Nazzaro; and for Signor Giovan Battista della Torre, for Cosimo Moneta, the Veronese banker, at his beautiful villa, and for many others in various places, all works of great beauty. Palladio, most excellent of architects, declares that he knows no person more marvellous in invention or better able to adorn apartments with beautiful designs in stucco, than this Bartolommeo Ridolfi. Not many years since, Spitech Giordan, a nobleman of great authority with the King of Poland, took Bartolommeo with him to that King; and there, enjoying an honorable salary, he has executed, as he still does, many works in stucco, large portraits, medallions, and many designs for palaces and other buildings, with the assistance of a son of his own, who is in no way inferior to his father.

 

 

FRA GIOCONDO and Other ARTISTS OF VERONA

Part 7: FRANCESCO dai LIBRI and GIROLAMO dai LIBRI

Vasari's Lives of the Artists

The elder Francesco dai Libri of Verona lived some time before Liberale, although it is not known exactly at what date he was born; and he was called "Dai Libri" because he practised the art of illuminating books, his life extending from the time when printing had not yet been invented to the very moment when it was beginning to come into use. Since, therefore, there came to him from every quarter books to illuminate--a work in which he was most excellent--he was known by no other surname than that of "Dai Libri"; and he executed great numbers of them, for the reason that whoever went to the expense of having them written, which was very great, wished also to have them adorned as much as was possible with illuminations.

This master illuminated many choral books, all beautiful, which are at Verona, in S. Giorgio, in S. Maria in Organo, and in S. Nazzaro; but the most beautiful is a little book, or rather, two little pictures that fold together after the manner of a book, on one side of which is a S. Jerome, a figure executed with much diligence and very minute workmanship, and on the other a S. John in the Isle of Patmos, depicted in the act of beginning to write his Book of the Apocalypse. This work, which was bequeathed to Count Agostino Giusti by his father, is now in S. Leonardo, a convent of Canons Regular, of which Don Timoteo Giusti, the son of that Count, is a member. Finally, after having executed innumerable works for various noblemen, Francesco died, content and happy for the reason that, in addition to the serenity of mind that his goodness brought him, he left behind him a son, called Girolamo, who was so excellent in art that before his death he saw him already a much greater master than himself.

This Girolamo [dai Libri], then, was born at Verona in the year 1472, and at the age of sixteen he painted for the Chapel of the Lischi, in S. Maria in Organo, an altarpiece which caused such marvel to everyone when it was uncovered and set in its place, that the whole city ran to embrace and congratulate his father Francesco. In this picture is a Deposition from the Cross, with many figures, and among the many beautiful weeping heads the best of all are a Madonna and a S. Benedict, which are much commended by all craftsmen; and he also made therein a landscape, with a part of the city of Verona, drawn passing well from the reality. Then, encouraged by the praises that he heard given to his work, Girolamo painted the altar of the Madonna in S. Paolo in a masterly manner, and also the picture of the Madonna with S. Anne, which is placed between the S. Sebastian of Il Moro and the S. Rocco of Cavazzuola in the Church of the Scala. For the family of the Zoccoli he painted the great altarpiece of the high altar in the Church of the Vittoria, and for the family of the Cipolli the picture of S. Onofrio, which is near the other, and is held to be both in design and in colouring the best work that he ever executed.

For S. Leonardo nel Monte, also, near Verona, he painted at the commission of the Cartieri family the altarpiece of the high altar, which is a large work with many figures, and much esteemed by everyone, above all for its very beautiful landscape. Now a thing that has happened very often in our own day has caused this work to be held to be a marvel. There is a tree painted by Girolamo in the picture, and against it seems to rest the great chair on which the Madonna is seated. This tree, which has the appearance of a laurel, projects considerably with its branches over the chair, and between the branches, which are not very thick, may be seen a sky so clear and beautiful, that the tree seems to be truly a living one, graceful and most natural. Very often, therefore, birds that have entered the church by various openings have been seen to fly to this tree in order to perch upon it, and particularly swallows, which had their nests among the beams of the roof, and likewise their little ones. Many persons well worthy of credence declare that they have seen this, among them Don Giuseppe Mangiuoli of Verona, a person of saintly life, who has twice been General of his Order and would not for anything in the world assert a thing that was not absolutely true, and also Don Girolamo Volpini, likewise a Veronese, and many others.

In S. Maria in Organo, where was the first work executed by Girolamo, he also painted two Saints on the outer side of one of the folding doors of the organ--the other being painted by Francesco Morone, his companion--and on the inner side a Manger. And afterwards he painted the picture that is opposite to his first work, containing the Nativity of Our Lord, with shepherds, landscapes, and very beautiful trees; but most lifelike and natural of all are two rabbits, which are executed with such diligence that each separate hair may actually be seen in them. He painted another altarpiece for the Chapel of the Buonalivi, with a Madonna seated in the center, two other figures, and some Angels below, who are singing. Then, in the ornamental work made by Fra Giovanni da Verona for the altar of the Sacrament, the same Girolamo painted three little pictures after the manner of miniatures. In the central picture is a Deposition from the Cross, with two little Angels, and in those at the sides are painted six Martyrs, kneeling towards the Sacrament, three in each picture, these being saints whose bodies are deposited in that very altar. The first three are Cantius, Cantianus, and Cantianilla, who were nephews of the Emperor Diocletian, and the others are Protus, Chrysogonus, and Anastasius, who suffered martyrdom at Aquĺ Gradatae, near Aquileia; and all these figures are in miniature, and very beautiful, for Girolamo was more able in that field of art than any other master of his time in Lombardy and in the State of Venice.

Girolamo illuminated many books for the Monks of Montescaglioso in the Kingdom of Naples, some for S. Giustina at Padua, and many others for the Abbey of Praia in the territory of Padua; and also some at Candiana, a very rich monastery of the Canons Regular of S. Salvatore, to which place he went in person to work, although he would never go to any other place. While he was living there, Don Giulio Clovio, who was a friar in that place, learned the first rudiments of illumination; and he has since become the greatest master of that art that is now alive in Italy. Girolamo illuminated at Candiana a sheet with a Kyrie, which is an exquisite work, and for the same monks the first leaf of a psalter for the choir; with many things for S. Maria in Organo and for the Friars of S. Giorgio, in Verona. He executed, likewise, some other very beautiful illuminations for the Black Friars of S. Nazzaro at Verona. But that which surpassed all the other works of this master, which were all divine, was a sheet on which was depicted in miniature the Earthly Paradise, with Adam and Eve driven forth by the Angel, who is behind them with a sword in his hand. One would not be able to express how great and how beautiful is the variety of the trees, fruits, flowers, animals, birds, and all the other things that are in this amazing work, which was executed at the commission of Don Giorgio Cacciamale of Bergamo, then Prior of S. Giorgio in Verona, who, in addition to the many other courtesies that he showed to Girolamo, gave him sixty crowns of gold. This work was afterwards presented by that Father to a Roman Cardinal, at that time Protector of his Order, who showed it to many noblemen in Rome, and they all declared it to be the best example of illumination that had ever been seen up to that day.

Girolamo painted flowers with such diligence, and made them so true, so beautiful, and so natural, that they appeared to all who beheld them to be real; and he counterfeited little cameos and other engraved stones and jewels in such a manner, that there was nothing more faithfully imitated or more diminutive to be seen. Among his little figures there are seen some, as in his imitations of cameos and other stones, that are no larger than little ants, and yet all the limbs and all the muscles can be perceived so clearly that one who has not seen them could scarcely believe it. Girolamo used to say in his old age that he knew more in his art then than he had ever known, and saw where every stroke ought to go, but that when he came to handle the brushes, they went the wrong way, because neither his eye nor his hand would serve him any longer. He died on the 2nd of July in the year 1555, at the age of eighty-three, and was laid to rest in the burial-place of the Company of S. Biagio in S. Nazzaro.

He was a good and upright man, who never had a quarrel or dispute with anyone, and his life was very pure. He had, besides other children, a son called Francesco, who learned his art from him, and executed miracles of illumination when still a mere lad, so that Girolamo declared that he had not known as much at that age as his son knew. But this young man was led away from him by a brother of his mother, who, being passing rich, and having no children, took him with him to Vicenza and placed him in charge of a glass furnace that he was setting up. When Francesco had spent his best years in this, his uncle's wife dying, he fell from his high hopes, and found that he had wasted his time, for the uncle took another wife, and had children by her, and thus Francesco did not become his uncle's heir, as he had thought to be. Thereupon he returned to his art after an absence of six years, and, after acquiring some knowledge, set himself to work. Among other things, he made a large globe, four feet in diameter, hollow within, and covered on the outer side, which was of wood, with a glue made of bullock's sinews, which was of a very strong admixture, so that there should be no danger of cracks or other damage in any part. This sphere, which was to serve as a terrestrial globe, was then carefully measured and divided under the personal supervision of Fracastoro and Beroldi, both eminent physicians, cosmographers, and astrologers; and it was to be painted by Francesco for Messer Andrea Navagiero, a Venetian gentleman, and a most learned poet and orator, who wished to make a present of it to King Francis of France, to whom he was about to go as Ambassador from his Republic. But Navagiero had scarcely arrived in France after a hurried journey, when he died, and this work remained unfinished. A truly rare work it would have been, thus executed by Francesco with the advice and guidance of two men of such distinction; but it was left unfinished, as we have said, and, what was worse, in its incomplete condition it received some injury, I know not what, in the absence of Francesco. However, spoiled as it was, it was bought by Messer Bartolommeo Lonichi, who has never consented to give it up to anyone, although he has been much besought and offered vast prices.

Before this, Francesco had made two smaller globes, one of which is in the possession of Mazzanti, Archpriest of the Duomo of Verona, and the other belonged to Count Raimondo della Torre, and is now in the hands of his son, Count Giovan Batista, who holds it very dear, because this one, also, was made with the measurements and personal assistance of Fracastoro, who was a very familiar friend of Count Raimondo.

Finally, growing weary of the extraordinary labor that miniatures demand, Francesco devoted himself to painting and to architecture, in which he became very skilful, executing many works in Venice and in Padua. About that time the Bishop of Tournai, a very rich and noble Fleming, had come to Italy in order to study letters, to see the country, and to learn our manners and ways of living. This man, delighting much in architecture, and happening to be in Padua, became so enamored of the Italian method of building that he resolved to take the modes of our architecture with him to his own country; and in order to facilitate this purpose, he drew Francesco, whose ability he had recognized, into his service with an honorable salary, meaning to take him to Flanders, where he intended to carry out many magnificent works. But when the time came to depart, poor Francesco, who had caused designs to be made of all the best and greatest and most famous buildings in Italy, was overtaken by death, while still young and the object of the highest expectations, leaving his patron much grieved by his loss.

Francesco left an only brother, in whom, being a priest, the Dai Libri family became extinct, after producing in succession three men most excellent in their field of art. Nor have any disciples survived them to keep this art alive, excepting the above-mentioned churchman, Don Giulio, who, as we have related, learned it from Girolamo when he was working at Candiana, where the former was a friar; and this Don Giulio has since raised it to a height of excellence which very few have reached and no one has ever surpassed.

I knew for myself some of the facts about the excellent and noble craftsmen mentioned above, but I would never have been able to learn the whole of what I have related of them if the great goodness and diligence of the reverend and most learned Fra Marco de' Medici of Verona, a man profoundly conversant with all the most noble arts and sciences, and with him Danese Cattaneo of Carrara, a sculptor of great excellence, both being very much my friends, had not given me that complete and perfect information which I have just written down, to the best of my ability, for the convenience and advantage of all who may read these our Lives, in which the courtesy of many friends, who have taken pains with the investigation of these matters in order to please me and to benefit the world, has been, as it still is, of great assistance to me. And let this be the end of the Lives of these craftsmen of Verona, the portraits of each of whom I have not been able to obtain, because this full notice did not reach my hands until I found myself almost at the close of my work.

 

 

 

FRANCESCO GRANACCI (c.1469-1543)


Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists

Great, indeed, is the good fortune of those craftsmen who are brought into contact, either by their birth or by the associations that are formed in childhood, with those men whom Heaven has chosen out to be distinguished and exalted above all others in our arts, for the reason that a good and beautiful manner can be acquired with the greatest facility by seeing the methods and works of men of excellence, not to mention that rivalry and emulation, as we have said elsewhere, have great power over our minds.

Francesco Granacci, of whom we have already spoken, was one of those who were placed by the Magnificent Lorenzo de' Medici to learn in his garden; whence it happened that, recognizing, boy as he was, the great genius of Michelagnolo, and what extraordinary fruits he was likely to produce when full grown, he could never tear himself away from his side, and even strove with incredible attention and humility to be always following that great brain, insomuch that Michelagnolo was constrained to love him more than all his other friends, and to confide so much in him, that there was no one with whom he was more willing to confer touching his works or to share all that he knew of art at that time, than with Granacci. Then, after they had been companions together in the workshop of Domenico Ghirlandajo, it came to pass that Granacci, because he was held to be the best of Ghirlandajo's young men, the strongest draughtsman, and the one who had most grace in painting in distemper, assisted David and Benedetto Ghirlandajo, the brothers of Domenico, to finish the altarpiece of the high altar in S. Maria Novella, which had been left unfinished at the death of the same Domenico. By this work Granacci gained much experience, and afterwards he executed in the same manner as that altarpiece many pictures that are in the houses of citizens, and others which were sent abroad.

And since he was very gracious, and made himself very useful in certain ceremonies that were performed in the city during the festivals of the Carnival, he was constantly employed by the Magnificent Lorenzo de' Medici in many similar works, and in particular for the masquerade that represented the Triumph of Paulus Emilius, which was held in honour of the victory that he gained over certain foreign nations. In this masquerade, which was full of most beautiful inventions, Granacci acquitted himself so well, although he was a mere lad, that he won the highest praise. And here I will not omit to tell that the same Lorenzo de' Medici, as I have said in another place, was the first inventor of those masquerades that represent some particular subject, and are called in Florence "Canti"; for it is not known that any were performed in earlier times.

In like manner Granacci was employed in the sumptuous and magnificent preparations that were made in the year 1513 for the entry of Pope Leo X, one of the Medici, by Jacopo Nardi, a man of great learning and most beautiful intellect, who, having been commanded by the Tribunal of Eight to prepare a splendid masquerade, executed a representation of the Triumph of Camillus. This masquerade, in so far as it lay in the province of the painter, was so beautifully arranged and adorned by Granacci that no man could imagine anything better; and the words of the song, which Jacopo composed, began thus:

Contempla in quanta gloria sei salita,
Felice alma Fiorenza,
Poiche' dal Ciel discesa,

with what follows. For the same spectacle Granacci executed a great quantity of theatrical scenery, as he did both before and afterwards. And while working with Ghirlandajo he painted standards for ships, and also banners and devices for certain Knights of the Golden Spur, for their public entry into Florence, all at the expense of the Captains of the Guelph Party, as was the custom at that time, and as has been done in our own day, not long since.

In like manner he made many beautiful embellishments and decorations of his own invention for the Potenze and their tournaments. These festivals were of a kind which is peculiar to the Florentines, and very pleasing, and in them were seen men standing almost upright on horseback, with very short stirrups, and breaking a lance with the same facility as do the warriors firmly seated on their saddles; and all this was done for the above-mentioned visit of Leo to Florence. Granacci also made, besides other things, a most beautiful triumphal arch opposite to the door of the Badia, covered with scenes in chiaroscuro and very lovely things of fancy. This arch was much extolled, and particularly for the invention of the architecture, and because he had made an imitation of that same door of the Badia for the entrance of the Via del Palagio, executed in perspective with the steps and every other thing, so that the painted and supposititious door was in no way different from the real and true one. To adorn the same arch he executed with his own hand some very beautiful figures of clay in relief, and on the summit of the arch he placed a great inscription with these words: LEONI X PONT. MAX. FIDEI CULTORI.

But to come at length to some works by Granacci that are in existence, let me relate that, having studied the cartoon of Michelagnolo Buonarroti while the latter was executing it for the Great Hall of the Palace, he found it so instructive and made such proficience, that, when Michelagnolo was summoned to Rome by Pope Julius II to the end that he might paint the vaulting of the Chapel in his Palace, Granacci was one of the first to be sent for by Buonarroti to help him to paint that work in fresco after the cartoons that he himself had prepared. It is true that Michelagnolo, being dissatisfied with the manner and method [Pg 60] of every one of his assistants, afterwards found means to make them all return to Florence without dismissing them, by closing the door on them all and not allowing himself to be seen.

In Florence Granacci painted for Pier Francesco Borgherini a scene in oils on the headboard of a couch which stood in an apartment wherein Jacopo da Pontormo, Andrea del Sarto, and Francesco Ubertini had painted many stories from the life of Joseph, in Pier Francesco's house in Borgo Sant' Apostolo; and in this scene were little figures representing a story of the same Joseph, executed with extraordinary finish and with great charm and beauty of coloring, and a building in perspective, wherein he depicted Joseph ministering to Pharaoh, which could not be more beautiful in any part. For the same man, also, he painted a round picture, likewise in oils, of the Trinity, or rather, God the Father supporting a Christ Crucified. And in the Church of S. Piero Maggiore there is a picture of the Assumption by his hand, with many Angels and a S. Thomas, to whom the Madonna is giving the Girdle. The figure of S. Thomas is very graceful, turning to one side in a beautiful attitude worthy of the hand of Michelagnolo, and such, also, is that of Our Lady. The drawing for these two figures by the hand of Granacci is in our book, together with others likewise by him. On either side of this picture are figures of S. Paul, S. Laurence, S. James, and S. John, which are all so beautiful that the work is held to be the best that Francesco ever painted; and in truth this work alone, even if he had never executed another, would ensure his being considered to be, as indeed he was, an excellent painter.

For the Church of S. Gallo, without the Gate of the same name, and formerly a seat of the Eremite Friars of S. Augustine, he painted an altarpiece with the Madonna and two children, S. Zanobi, Bishop of Florence, and S. Francis. This altarpiece, which was in the Chapel of the Girolami, to which family that S. Zanobi belonged, is now in S. Jacopo tra Fossi at Florence.

Michelagnolo Buonarroti, having a niece who was a nun in S. Apollonia at Florence, had therefore executed an ornament for the high-altar of that church, and a design for the altarpiece; and Granacci painted there some scenes in oils with figures large and small, which gave much satisfaction to the nuns at that time, and also to the other painters. For the same place he painted another altarpiece, which stood lower down, but this was burned one night, together with some draperies of great value, through some lights being inadvertently left on the altar; which was certainly a great loss, seeing that the work was much extolled by craftsmen. And for the Nuns of S. Giorgio in sulla Costa he executed the altarpiece of their high altar, painting in it the Madonna, S. Catharine, S. Giovanni Gualberto, S. Bernardo Uberti the Cardinal, and S. Fedele.

Granacci also executed many pictures, both square and round, which are dispersed among the houses of gentlemen in the city; and he made many cartoons for glass windows, which were afterwards put into execution by the Frati Ingiesuati of Florence. He delighted much in painting on cloth, either alone or in company with others; wherefore, in addition to the works mentioned above, he painted many church banners. And since he practised art more to pass the time than from necessity, he worked at his ease, always consulting his own convenience, and avoiding discomforts as much as he was able, more than any other man; and yet, without being covetous of the goods of others, he always preserved his own. Allowing but few cares to oppress him, he was a merry fellow, and took his pleasures with a glad heart. He lived sixty-seven years, at the end of which he finished the course of his life after an ordinary malady, a kind of fever; and he was buried in the Church of S. Ambrogio at Florence, on the day of S. Andrew the Apostle, in 1544.

 

 

 

BACCIO D'AGNOLO


Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists


GREAT IS THE PLEASURE that I take in studying at times the beginnings of our craftsmen, for one sees some rising from the lowest depth to the greatest height, and especially in architecture, a science which has not been practised for several years past save by carvers and cunning impostors who profess to understand perspective without knowing even its terms or its first principles. The truth, indeed, is that architecture can never be practised to perfection save by those who have an excellent judgment and a good mastery of design, or have labored much in painting, sculpture, or works in wood, for the reason that in it have to be executed with true measurements the dimensions of their figures, which are columns, cornices, and bases, and all the ornaments, which are made for the adornment of the figures, and for no other reason. And thus the workers in wood, by continually handling such things, in course of time become architects; and sculptors likewise, by having to find positions for their statues and by making ornaments for tombs and other works in the round, come in time to a knowledge of architecture; and painters, on account of their perspectives, the variety of their inventions, and the buildings that they draw, are compelled to take the groundplans of edifices, seeing that they cannot plant houses or flights of steps on the planes where their figures stand, without in the first place grasping the order of the architecture.

Working in his youth excellently well at wood-inlaying, Baccio executed the backs of the stalls in the choir of S. Maria Novella, in the principal chapel, wherein are most beautiful figures of S. John the Baptist and S. Laurence. In carving, he executed the ornaments of [Pg 66] that same chapel, those of the high-altar in the Nunziata, the decorations of the organ in S. Maria Novella, and a vast number of other works, both public and private, in his native city of Florence. Departing from that city, he went to Rome, where he applied himself with great zeal to the study of architecture; and on his return he made triumphal arches of wood in various places for the visit of Pope Leo X. But for all this he never gave up his workshop, where there were often gathered round him, in addition to many citizens, the best and most eminent masters of our arts, so that most beautiful conversations and discussions of importance took place there, particularly in winter. The first of these masters was Raffaello da Urbino, then a young man, and next came Andrea Sansovino, Filippino, Maiano, Cronaca, Antonio da San Gallo and Giuliano da San Gallo, Granaccio, and sometimes, but not often, Michelagnolo, with many young Florentines and strangers.

Having thus given his attention to architecture in so thorough a manner, and having made some trial of his powers, Baccio began to be held in such credit in Florence, that the most magnificent buildings that were erected in his time were entrusted to him and were put under his direction. When Piero Soderini was Gonfalonier, Baccio took part, with Cronaca and others, as has been related above, in the deliberations that were held with regard to the great Hall of the Palace; and with his own hand he executed in wood the ornament for the large panel-picture which was begun by Fra Bartolommeo, after the design by Filippino. In company with the same masters he made the staircase that leads to that Hall, with a very beautiful ornamentation of stone, and also the columns of variegated marble and the doors of marble in the hall that is now called the Sala de' Dugento.

He built a palace for Giovanni Bartolini, which is very ornate within, on the Piazza di S. Trinita'; and he made many designs for the garden of the same man in Gualfonda. And since that palace was the first edifice that was built with ornaments in the form of square windows with pediments, and a portal with columns supporting architrave, frieze, and cornice, these things were much censured by the Florentines with spoken words and sonnets, and festoons of boughs were hung upon them, as is done in churches for festivals, men saying that the faćade was more like that of a temple than of a palace; so that Baccio was like to go out of his mind. However, knowing that he had imitated good examples, and that his work was sound, he regained his peace of mind. It is true that the cornice of the whole palace proved, as has been said in another place, to be too large; but in every other respect the work has always been much extolled.

For Lanfredino Lanfredini he erected a house on the bank of the Arno, between the Ponte a S. Trinita' and the Ponte alla Carraja; and on the Piazza de' Mozzi he began the house of the Nasi, which looks out upon the sandy shore of the Arno, but did not finish it. For Taddeo, of the Taddei family, he built a house that was held to be very beautiful and commodious. For Pier Francesco Borgherini he made the designs of the house that he built in Borgo S. Apostolo, in which he caused ornaments for the doors and most beautiful chimney-pieces to be executed at great expense, and made for the adornment of one chamber, in particular, coffers of walnut-wood covered with little boys carved with supreme diligence. Such a work it would now be impossible to execute with such perfection as he gave to it. He also prepared the design for the villa that Borgherini caused to be built on the hill of Bellosguardo, which was very beautiful and commodious, and erected at vast expense. For Giovan Maria Benintendi he executed an antechamber, with an ornamental frame for some scenes painted by excellent masters, which was a rare thing. The same Baccio made the model of the Church of S. Giuseppe near S. Nofri, and directed the construction of the door, which was his last work. He also caused to be built of masonry the campanile of S. Spirito in Florence, which was left unfinished, and is now being completed by order of Duke Cosimo after the original design of Baccio; and he likewise erected the campanile of S. Miniato sul Monte, which was battered by the artillery of the camp, but never destroyed, on which account it gained no less fame for the affront that it offered to the enemy than for the beauty and excellence with which Baccio had caused it to be built and carried to completion.

Next, having been appointed on account of his abilities, and because he was much beloved by the citizens, as architect to S. Maria del Fiore, Baccio gave the design for constructing the gallery that encircles the cupola. This part of the work Filippo Brunelleschi, being overtaken by death, had not been able to execute; and although he had made designs even for this, they had been lost or destroyed through the negligence of those in charge of the building. Baccio, then, having made the design and model for this gallery, carried into execution all the part that is to be seen facing the Canto de' Bischeri. But Michelagnolo Buonarroti, on his return from Rome, perceiving that in carrying out this work they were cutting away the toothings that Filippo Brunelleschi, not without a purpose, had left projecting, made such a clamour that the work was stopped; saying that it seemed to him that Baccio had made a cage for crickets, that a pile so vast required something grander and executed with more design, art, and grace than appeared to him to be displayed by Baccio's design, and that he himself would show how it should be done. Michelagnolo having therefore made a model, the matter was disputed at great length before Cardinal Giulio de' Medici by many craftsmen and competent citizens; and in the end neither the one model nor the other was carried into execution. Baccio's design was censured in many respects, not that it was not a well-proportioned work of its kind, but because it was too insignificant in comparison with the size of the structure; and for these reasons that gallery has never been brought to completion.

Baccio afterwards gave his attention to executing the pavement of S. Maria del Fiore, and to his other buildings, which were not a few, for he had under his particular charge all the principal monasteries and convents of Florence, and many houses of citizens, both within and without the city. Finally, when near the age of eighty-hree, but still of good and sound judgment, he passed to a better life in 1543, leaving three sons, Giuliano, Filippo, and Domenico, who had him buried in S. Lorenzo.

Of these sons, who all gave their attention after the death of Baccio to the art of carving and working in wood, Giuliano, who was the second, was the one who applied himself with the greatest zeal to architecture [Pg 69] both during his father's lifetime and afterwards; wherefore, by favor of Duke Cosimo, he succeeded to his father's place as architect to S. Maria del Fiore, and continued not only all that Baccio had begun in that temple, but also all the other buildings that had remained unfinished at his death. At that time Messer Baldassarre Turini da Pescia was intending to place a panel picture by the hand of Raffaello da Urbino in the principal church of Pescia, of which he was Provost, and to erect an ornament of stone, or rather, an entire chapel, around it, and also a tomb; and Giuliano executed all this after his own designs and models, and also restored for the same patron his house at Pescia, making in it many beautiful and useful improvements. For Messer Francesco Campana, formerly First Secretary to Duke Alessandro, and afterwards to Duke Cosimo de' Medici, the same Giuliano built at Montughi, without Florence, beside the church, a house which is small but very ornate, and so well situated, that it commands from its slight elevation a view of the whole city of Florence and the surrounding plain. And a most beautiful and commodious house was built at Colle, the native place of that same Campana, from the design of Giuliano, who shortly afterwards began for Messer Ugolino Grifoni, Lord of Altopascio, a palace at San Miniato al Tedesco, which was a magnificent work.

For Ser Giovanni Conti, one of the secretaries of the Lord Duke Cosimo, he made many useful and beautiful improvements in his house at Florence; although it is true that in the two groundfloor windows, supported by knee-shaped brackets, which open out upon the street, Giuliano departed from his usual method, and so cut them up with projections, little brackets, and off-sets, that they inclined rather to the German manner than to the true and good manner of ancient or modern times. Works of architecture, without a doubt, must first be massive, solid, and simple, and then enriched by grace of design and by variety of subject in the composition, without, however, disturbing by poverty or by excess of ornamentation the order of the architecture or the impression produced on a competent judge.

Meanwhile Baccio Bandinelli, having returned from Rome, where he had finished the tombs of Leo and Clement, persuaded the Lord Duke Cosimo, then a young man, to make at the head of the Great Hall of the Ducal Palace a facade full of columns and niches, with a range of fine marble statues; and this faćade was to have windows of marble and greystone looking out upon the Piazza. The Duke having resolved to have this done, Bandinelli set his hand to making the design; but finding that the hall, as has been related in the Life of Cronaca, was out of square, and having never given attention to architecture, which he considered an art of little value, marvelling and even laughing at those who gave their attention to it, he was forced, on recognizing the difficulty of this work, to confer with Giuliano with regard to his model, and to beseech him that he, as an architect, should direct the work. And so all the stonecutters and carvers of S. Maria del Fiore were set to work, and a beginning was made with the structure. Bandinelli had resolved, with the advice of Giuliano, to let the work remain out of square, following in part the course of the wall. It came to pass, therefore, that he was forced to make all the stones irregular in shape, preparing them with great labour by means of the pifferello, which is the instrument otherwise called the bevel-square; and this made the work so clumsy, that, as will be related in the Life of Bandinelli, it has been difficult to bring it to such a form as might be in harmony with the rest. Such a thing would not have happened if Bandinelli had possessed as much knowledge in architecture as he did in sculpture; not to mention that the great niches in the side walls at each end proved to be squat, and that the one in the centre was not without defect, as will be told in the Life of that same Bandinelli. This work, after having been pursued for ten years, was abandoned, and so it remained for some time. It is true that the profiled stones as well as the columns, both of Fossato stone and of marble, were wrought with the greatest diligence by the stone-cutters and carvers under the care of Giuliano, and were afterwards so well built in that it would not be possible to find any masonry better put together, all the stones being accurately measured. In this respect Giuliano may be celebrated as most excellent; and the work, as will be related in the proper place, was finished in five months, with an addition, by Giorgio Vasari of Arezzo.

Giuliano, meanwhile, not neglecting his workshop, was giving his attention, together with his brothers, to the execution of many carvings and works in wood, and also to pressing on the making of the pavement of S. Maria del Fiore; and since he was superintendent and architect of that building, he was requested by the same Bandinelli to make designs and models of wood, after some fantasies of figures and other ornaments of his own, for the high altar of that same S. Maria del Fiore, which was to be constructed of marble; which Giuliano did most willingly, being a good and kindly person and one who delighted in architecture as much as Bandinelli despised it, and being also won over by the lavish promises of profit and honor that Bandinelli made him. Setting to work, therefore, on that model, Giuliano made it much after the simple pattern formerly designed by Brunelleschi, save that he enriched it by doubling both the columns and the arch above. And when he had brought it to completion, and the model, together with many designs, had been carried by Bandinelli to Duke Cosimo, his most illustrious Excellency resolved in his regal mind to execute not only the altar, but also the ornament of marble that surrounds the choir, following its original octagonal shape, with all those rich adornments with which it has since been carried out, in keeping with the grandeur and magnificence of that temple. Giuliano, therefore, with the assistance of Bandinelli, made a beginning with that choir, without altering anything save the principal entrance, which is opposite to the above-mentioned altar; for which reason he wished that it should be exactly similar to that altar, with the same arch and decorations.

He also made two other similar arches, which unite with the entrance and the altar in forming a cross; and these were for two pulpits, which the old choir also had, serving for music and other ceremonies of the choir and of the altar. In this choir, around the eight faces, Giuliano made an ornament of the Ionic Order, and placed at every corner a pilaster bent in the middle, and one on every face; and since each pilaster so narrowed that the extension lines of its side faces met in center of the choir, from inside it looked narrow and bent in, and from outside broad and pointed. This invention was not much extolled, nor can it be commended as beautiful by any man of judgment; and for a work of such cost, in a place so celebrated, Bandinelli, if he despised architecture, or had no knowledge of it, should have availed himself of someone living at that time with the knowledge and ability to do better. Giuliano deserves to be excused in the matter, because he did all that he could, which was not a little; but it is very certain that one who has not strong powers of design and invention in himself, will always be too poor in grace and judgment to bring to perfection great works of architecture.

Giuliano made for Filippo Strozzi a couch of walnut wood, which is now at Citta' di Castello, in the house of the heirs of Signor Alessandro Vitelli. For an altarpiece which Giorgio Vasari painted for the high altar of the Abbey of Camaldoli in the Casentino, he made a very rich and beautiful frame, after the design of Giorgio; and he carved another ornamental frame for a large altarpiece that the same Giorgio executed for the Church of S. Agostino in Monte Sansovino. The same Giuliano made another beautiful frame for another altarpiece by the hand of Vasari, which is in the Abbey of Classi, a seat of the Monks of Camaldoli, at Ravenna. He also executed the frames for the pictures by the hand of the same Giorgio of Arezzo that are in the refectory of the Monks of the Abbey of S. Fiore at Arezzo; and in the Vescovado in the same city, behind the high altar, he made a most beautiful choir of walnut wood, after the design of Giorgio, which provided for the bringing forward of the altar. And, finally, a short time before his death, he made the rich and beautiful Ciborium of the most Holy Sacrament for the high altar of the Nunziata, with the two Angels of wood, in full relief, which are on either side of it. This was the last work that he executed, and he passed to a better life in the year 1555.

Nor was Domenico, the brother of that Giuliano, inferior to him in judgment, seeing that, besides carving much better in wood, he was also very ingenious in matters of architecture, as may be seen from the house that was built for Bastiano da Montaguto in the Via de' Servi after his design, wherein there are also many works in wood by Domenico's own hand. The same master executed for Agostino del Nero, in the Piazza de' Mozzi, the buildings that form the street corner and a very beautiful terrace for that house of the Nasi formerly begun by his father Baccio. And it is the common belief that, if he had not died so young, he would have surpassed by a great measure both his father and his brother Giuliano.

 

 

 

LIVES OF VALERIO VICENTINO [VALERIO BELLI], GIOVANNI DA CASTEL BOLOGNESE, MATTEO DAL NASSARO OF VERONA,
and OTHER EXCELLENT ENGRAVERS OF CAMEOS AND GEMS


Vasari's Lives of the Artists

SINCE THE GREEKS were such divine masters in the engraving of Oriental stones and so perfect in the cutting of cameos, it seems to me certain that I should commit no slight error were I to pass over in silence those of our own age who have imitated those marvellous intellects; although among our moderns, so it is said, there have been none who in this present and happy age have surpassed the ancients in delicacy and design, save perchance those of whom we are about to give an account. But before making a beginning, it is proper for me to discourse briefly on this art of engraving hard stones and gems, which was lost, together with the other arts of design, after the ruin of Greece and Rome. Of this work, whether engraved in intaglio or in relief, we have seen examples discovered daily among the ruins of Rome, such as cameos, cornelians, sardonyxes, and other most excellent intagli; but for many and many a year the art remained lost, there being no one who gave attention to it, and even if any work was done, it was not in such a manner as to be worthy to be taken into account. So far as is known, it is not found that anyone began to do good work or to attain to excellence until the time of Pope Martin V and Pope Paul II; after which the art continued to grow little by little down to the time of Lorenzo de' Medici, the Magnificent, who greatly delighted in the engraved cameos of the ancients. Lorenzo and his son Piero collected a great quantity of these, particularly chalcedonies, cornelians, and other kinds of the choicest engraved stones, which contained various fanciful designs; and in consequence of this, wishing to establish the art in their own city, they summoned thither masters from various countries, who, besides restoring those stones, brought to them other works which were at that time rare.

By these masters, at the instance of the Magnificent Lorenzo, this art of engraving in intaglio was taught to a young Florentine called Giovanni delle Corniole, who received that surname because he engraved them excellently well, of which we have testimony in the great numbers of them by his hand that are to be seen, both great and small, but particularly in a large one, which was a very choice intaglio, wherein he made the portrait of Fra Girolamo Savonarola, who was adored in Florence in his day on account of his preaching. A rival of Giovanni was Domenico de' Cammei, a Milanese, who, living at the same time as Duke Lodovico, Il Moro, made a portrait of him in intaglio on a balas-ruby greater than a giulio, which was an exquisite thing and one of the best works in intaglio that had been seen executed by a modern master. This art afterwards rose to even greater excellence in the pontificate of Pope Leo X, through the talents and labours of Pier Maria da Pescia, who was a most faithful imitator of the works of the ancients; and he had a rival in Michelino, who was no less able than Pier Maria in works both great and small, and was held to be a graceful master.

These men opened the way in this art, which is so difficult, for engraving in intaglio is truly working in the dark, since the craftsman can use nothing but impressions of wax, as spectacles, as it were, wherewith to see from time to time what he is doing. And finally they brought it to such a condition that Giovanni da Castel Bolognese, Valerio Vicentino, Matteo dal Nassaro, and others, were able to execute the many beautiful works of which we are about to make mention.

Let me begin, then, by saying that Giovanni Bernardi of Castel Bolognese, who worked in his youth in the service of Duke Alfonso of Ferrara, made for him, in the three years of honorable service that he gave him, many little works, of which there is no need to give any description. Of his larger works the first was an intaglio on a piece of crystal, in which he represented the whole of the action of Bastia, which was very beautiful; and then he executed the portrait of that Duke in a steel die for the purpose of making medals, with the Taking of Jesus Christ by the Multitude on the reverse. Afterwards, urged by Giovio, he went to Rome, and obtained by favor of Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici and Cardinal Giovanni Salviati the privilege of taking a portrait of Clement VII, from which he made a die for medals, which was very beautiful, with Joseph revealing himself to his brethren on the reverse; and for this he was rewarded by His Holiness with the gift of a Mazza, an office which he afterwards sold in the time of Paul III, receiving two hundred crowns for it. For the same Clement he executed figures of the four Evangelists on four round crystals, which were much extolled, and gained for him the favor and friendship of many prelates, and in particular the good will of Salviati and of the above-mentioned Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici, that sole refuge for men of talent, whose portrait he made on steel medals, besides executing for him on crystal the Presentation of the Daughter of Darius to Alexander the Great.

After this, when Charles V went to Bologna to be crowned, Giovanni made a portrait of him in steel, from which he struck a medal of gold. This he carried straightway to the Emperor, who gave him a hundred pistoles of gold, and sent to inquire whether he would go with him to Spain; but Giovanni refused, saying that he could not leave the service of Clement and of Cardinal Ippolito, for whom he had begun some work that was still unfinished.

Having returned to Rome, Giovanni executed for the same Cardinal de' Medici a Rape of the Sabines, which was very beautiful. And the Cardinal, knowing himself to be much indebted to him for all these things, rewarded him with a vast number of gifts and courtesies; but the greatest of all was this, that the Cardinal, when departing for France in the midst of a company of many lords and gentlemen, turned to Giovanni, who was there among the rest, and, taking from his own neck a little chain to which was attached a cameo worth more than six hundred crowns, he gave it to him, telling him that he should keep it until his return, and intending to bestow upon him afterwards such a recompense as he knew to be due to the talent of Giovanni.

On the death of the Cardinal, that cameo fell into the hands of Cardinal Farnese, for whom Giovanni afterwards executed many works in crystal, and in particular a Christ Crucified for a Cross, with a God the Father above, Our Lady and S. John at the sides, and the Magdalene at the foot; and in a triangle at the base of the Cross he made three scenes of the Passion of Christ, one in each angle. For two candelabra of silver he engraved six round crystals. In the first is the Centurion praying Christ that He should heal his son, in the second the Pool of Bethesda, in the third the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, in the fourth the Miracle of the five loaves and two fishes, in the fifth the scene of Christ driving the traders from the Temple, and in the last the Raising of Lazarus; and all were exquisite. The same Cardinal Farnese afterwards desired to have a very rich casket made of silver, and had the work executed by Manno, a Florentine goldsmith, of whom there will be an account in another place; but he entrusted all the compartments of crystal to Giovanni, who made them all full of scenes, with marble in half-relief; and he made figures of silver and ornaments in the round, and all with such diligence, that no other work of that kind was ever carried to such perfection. On the body of this casket are the following scenes, engraved in ovals with marvellous art by the hand of Giovanni: The Chase of Meleager after the Calydonian Boar, the Followers of Bacchus, a naval battle, Hercules in combat with the Amazons, and other most beautiful fantasies of the Cardinal, who caused finished designs of them to be executed by Perino del Vaga and other masters. Giovanni then executed on a crystal the triumph of the taking of Goletta, and the War of Tunis on another. For the same Cardinal he engraved, likewise on crystal, the Birth of Christ and the scenes when He prays in the Garden; when He is taken by the Jews; when He is led before Annas, Herod, and Pilate; when He is scourged and then crowned with thorns; when He carries the Cross; when He is nailed upon it and raised on high; and, finally, His divine and glorious Resurrection. All these works were not only very beautiful, but also executed with such rapidity, that every man was struck with astonishment.

Michelagnolo had made for the above-mentioned Cardinal de' Medici a drawing, which I forgot to mention before, of a Tityus whose heart was being devoured by a vulture; and Giovanni engraved this beautifully on crystal. And he did the same with another drawing by Buonarroti, in which Phaethon, not being able to manage the chariot of the Sun, has fallen into the Po, and his weeping sisters are transformed into trees.

Giovanni executed a portrait of Madama Margherita of Austria, daughter of the Emperor Charles V, who had been the wife of Duke Alessandro de' Medici, and was then the consort of Duke Ottavio Farnese; and this he did in competition with Valerio Vicentino. For these works executed for Cardinal Farnese, he received from that lord a reward in the form of the office of Giannizzero, from which he drew a good sum of money; and, in addition, he was so beloved by that Cardinal that he obtained a great number of other favors from him, nor did the Cardinal ever pass through Faenza, where Giovanni had built a most commodious house, without going to take up his quarters with him. Having thus settled at Faenza, in order to rest after a life of much labour in the world, Giovanni remained there ever afterwards; and his first wife, by whom he had not had children, being dead, he took a second. By her he had two sons and a daughter; and with them he lived in contentment, being well provided with landed property and other revenues, which yielded him more than four hundred crowns, until he came to the age of sixty, when he rendered up his soul to God on the day of Pentecost, in the year 1555.

Matteo dal Nassaro, who was born in Verona, and was the son of Jacopo dal Nassaro, a shoemaker, gave much attention in his early childhood not only to design, but also to music, in which he became excellent, having had as his masters in that study Marco Carra' and Il Tromboncino, both Veronese, who were then in the service of the Marquis of Mantua. In matters of intaglio he was much assisted by two Veronese of honorable family, with whom he was continually associated. One of these was Niccolo' Avanzi, who, working privately in Rome, executed cameos, cornelians, and other stones, which were taken to various Princes; and there are persons who remember to have seen a lapis lazuli by his hand, three fingers in breadth, containing the Nativity of Christ, with many figures, which was sold as a choice work to the Duchess of Urbino. The other was Galeazzo Mondella, who, besides engraving gems, drew very beautifully.

After Matteo had learned from these two masters all that they knew, it chanced that there fell into his hands a beautiful piece of green jasper, marked with red spots, as the good pieces are; and he engraved in it a Deposition from the Cross with such diligence, that he made the wounds come in those parts of the jasper that were spotted with the color of blood, which caused that work to be a very rare one, and brought him much commendation. That jasper was sold by Matteo to the Marchioness Isabella d'Este.

He then went to France, taking with him many works by his own hand which might serve to introduce him to the Court of King Francis I; and when he had been presented to that Sovereign, who always held in estimation every manner of man of talent, the King, after taking many of the stones engraved by him, received him into his service and ordained him a good salary; and he held Matteo dear no less because he was an excellent musician and could play very well upon the lute, than for his profession of engraving stones. Of a truth, there is nothing that does more to kindle men's minds with love for the arts than to see them appreciated and rewarded by Princes and noblemen, as has always been done in the past, and is done more than ever at the present day, by the illustrious House of Medici, and as was also done by that truly magnanimous Sovereign, King Francis.

Matteo, thus employed in the service of that King, executed many rare works, not only for His Majesty, but also for almost all the most noble lords and barons of the Court, of whom there was scarcely one who did not have some work by his hand, since it was much the custom at that time to wear cameos and other suchlike gems on the neck and in the cap. For the King he made an altar-piece for the altar of the chapel which His Majesty always took with him on his journeys; and this was full of figures of gold, partly in the round and partly in half-relief, with many engraved gems distributed over the limbs of those figures. He also engraved many pieces of crystal in intaglio, impressions [Pg 81] of which in sulphur and gesso are to be seen in many places, and particularly in Verona, where there are marvellous representations of all the planets, and a Venus with a Cupid that has the back turned, which could not be more beautiful. In a very fine chalcedony, found in a river, Matteo engraved divinely well the head of a Deianira almost in full-relief, wearing the lion's skin, the surface being tawny in color; and he turned to such good advantage a vein of red that was in that stone, representing with it the inner side of the lion's skin at its junction with the head, that the skin had the appearance of one newly flayed. Another spot of color he used for the hair, and the white for the face and breast, and all with admirable mastery. This head came into the possession of King Francis, together with the other things; and there is an impression of it at the present day in Verona, which belongs to the goldsmith Zoppo, who was Matteo's disciple.

Matteo was a man of great spirit and generosity, insomuch that he would rather have given his works away than sold them for a paltry price. Wherefore when a baron, for whom he had made a cameo of some value, wished to pay him a wretched sum for it, Matteo besought him straitly that he should accept it as a present. To this the other would not consent, and yet wished to have it for the same miserable price; whereupon Matteo, flying into a rage, crushed it to powder with a hammer in his presence. For the same King Matteo executed many cartoons for tapestries, and with these, to please His Majesty, he was obliged to go to Flanders, and to stay there until they had been woven in silk and gold; which being finished and taken to France, they were held to be very beautiful. Finally, Matteo returned to his own country, as almost all men do, taking with him many rare things from those foreign parts, and in particular some landscapes on canvas painted in Flanders in oils and in gouache, and executed by very able hands, which are still preserved and treasured in Verona, in memory of him, by Signor Luigi and Signor Girolamo Stoppi. Having returned to Verona, Matteo took up his abode in a cave hollowed out under a rocky cliff, above which is the garden of the Frati Ingiesuati—a place which, besides being very warm in winter and very cool in summer, commands a most beautiful view. But he was not able to enjoy that habitation, thus contrived after his own fancy, as long as he would have liked, for King Francis, as soon as he had been released from his captivity, sent a special messenger to recall Matteo to France, and to pay him his salary even for all the time that he had been in Verona; and when he had arrived there, the King made him master of dies for the Mint. Taking a wife in France, therefore, Matteo settled down to live in those parts, since such was the pleasure of the King his master. By that wife he had some children, but all so unlike himself that he had little satisfaction from them.

Matteo was so gentle and courteous, that he welcomed with extraordinary warmth anyone who arrived in France, not only from his own city of Verona, but from every part of Lombardy. His dearest friend in those regions was Paolo Emilio of Verona, who wrote the history of France in the Latin tongue. Matteo taught many disciples, among them a fellow-Veronese, the brother of Domenico Brusciasorzi, two of his nephews, who went to Flanders, and many other Italians and Frenchmen, of whom there is no need to make mention. And finally he died, not long after the death of King Francis of France.

But to come at length to the marvellous art of Valerio Vicentino, of whom we have now to speak: this master executed so many works, both great and small, either in intaglio or in relief, and all with such a finish and such facility, that it is a thing incredible. If Nature had made Valerio a good master of design, even as she made him most excellent in engraving, in which he executed his works with extraordinary patience, diligence, and rapidity, he would not merely have equalled the ancients, as he did, but would have surpassed them by a great measure; and even so he had such judgment, that he always availed himself in his works of the designs of others or of the intagli of the ancients.

Valerio fashioned for Pope Clement VII a casket entirely of crystal, wrought with admirable mastery, for which he received two thousand crowns of gold from that Pontiff in return for his labor. In those crystals Valerio engraved the whole Passion of Jesus Christ, after the designs of others; and that casket was afterwards presented by Pope Clement to King Francis at Nice, at the time when his niece went to be married to the Duke of Orleans, who afterwards became King Henry. For the same Pope Valerio made some most beautiful paxes, and a divine cross of crystal, and likewise dies for striking medals, containing the portrait of Pope Clement, with very beautiful reverses; and through him that art produced in his day many masters, both from Milan and from other parts, who had grown to such a number before the sack of Rome, that it was a marvel. He made the medals of the twelve Emperors, with their reverses, copying the most beautiful antiques, with a great number of Greek medals; and he engraved so many other works in crystal, that the shops of the goldsmiths, or rather, the whole world, may be seen to be full of impressions taken in gesso, sulphur, or other compositions, from the intagli in which he made scenes, figures, or heads. He had, indeed, a skill of hand so extraordinary, that there was never anyone in his profession who executed more works than Valerio.

He also fashioned many vases of crystal for Pope Clement, who presented some to various Princes, and others were placed in the Church of S. Lorenzo at Florence, together with many vases that were formerly in the Palace of the Medici and had belonged to the elder Lorenzo, the Magnificent, and to other members of that most illustrious family, that they might serve to contain the relics of many Saints, which that Pontiff presented to that church in memory of himself. It would not be possible to find anything more varied than the curves of those vases, some of which are of sardonyx, agate, amethyst, and lapis-lazuli, and some of plasma, heliotrope, jasper, crystal, and cornelian, so that in point of value or beauty nothing more could be desired. For Pope Paul III he made a cross and two candelabra, likewise of crystal, engraved with scenes of the Passion of Jesus Christ in various compartments; with a vast number of stones, both great and small, of which it would take too long to make mention. And in the collection of Cardinal Farnese may be seen many things by the hand of Valerio, who left no fewer finished works than did the above-named Giovanni. At the age of seventy-eight he performed miracles, so sure were his eye and hand; and he taught his art to a daughter of his own, who works very well. He so delighted to lay his hands on antiquities in marble, impressions in gesso of works both ancient and modern, and drawings and pictures by rare masters, that he shrank from no expense; wherefore his house at Vicenza is adorned by such an abundance of various things, that it is a marvel. It is clearly evident that when a man bears love to art, it never leaves him until he is in the grave; whence he gains praise and his reward during his lifetime, and makes himself immortal after death. Valerio was well remunerated for his labors, and received offices and many benefits from those Princes whom he served; and thus those who survived him are able, thanks to him, to maintain an honourable state. And in the year 1546, when, by reason of the infirmities that old age brings in its train, he could no longer attend to his art, or even live, he rendered up his soul to God.

At Parma, in times past, lived Marmita, who gave his attention for a period to painting, and then turned to intaglio, in which he imitated the ancients very closely. Many most beautiful works by his hand are to be seen, and he taught the art to a son of his own, called Lodovico, who lived for a long time in Rome with Cardinal Giovanni de' Salviati. Lodovico executed for that Cardinal four ovals of crystal engraved with figures of great excellence, which were placed on a very beautiful casket of silver that was afterwards presented to the most illustrious Signora Leonora of Toledo, Duchess of Florence. He made, among many other works, a cameo with a most beautiful head of Socrates, and he was a great master at counterfeiting ancient medals, from which he gained extraordinary advantage.

There followed, in Florence, Domenico di Polo, a Florentine and an excellent master of intaglio, who was the disciple of Giovanni delle Corniole, of whom we have spoken. In our own day this Domenico executed a divine portrait of Duke Alessandro de' Medici, from which he made dies in steel and most beautiful medals, with a reverse containing a Florence. He also made a portrait of Duke Cosimo in the first year after his election to the government of Florence, with the sign of Capricorn on the reverse; and many other little works in intaglio, of which there is no need to make record. He died at the age of sixty-five.

Domenico, Valerio, Marmita, and Giovanni da Castel Bolognese being dead, there remained many who have surpassed them by a great measure; one in Venice, for example, being Luigi Anichini of Ferrara, who, with the delicacy of his engraving and the sharpness of his finish, has produced works that are marvellous. But far beyond all others in grace, excellence, perfection, and versatility, has soared Alessandro Cesati, surnamed Il Greco, who has executed cameos in relief and gems in intaglio in so beautiful a manner, as well as dies of steel in incavo, and has used the burin with such supreme diligence and with such mastery over the most delicate refinements of his art, that nothing better could be imagined. Whoever wishes to be amazed by his miraculous powers, should study a medal that he made for Pope Paul III, with his portrait on one side, which has all the appearance of life, and on the reverse Alexander the Great, who has thrown himself at the feet of the High Priest of Jerusalem, and is doing him homage—figures which are so marvellous that it would not be possible to do anything better. And Michelagnolo Buonarroti himself, looking at them in the presence of Giorgio Vasari, said that the hour of death had come upon the art, for nothing better could ever be seen. This Alessandro made the medal of Pope Julius III for the holy year of 1550, with a reverse showing the prisoners that were released in the days of the ancients at times of jubilee, which was a rare and truly beautiful medal; with many other dies and portraits for the Mint of Rome, which he kept busily employed for many years. He executed portraits of Pier Luigi Farnese, Duke of Castro, and his son, Duke Ottavio; and he made a portrait of Cardinal Farnese in a medal, a very choice work, the head being of gold and the ground of silver. The same master engraved for Cardinal Farnese in intaglio, on a cornelian larger than a giulio, a head of King Henry of France, which has been considered in point of design, grace, excellence, and perfection of finish, one of the best modern intagli that have ever been seen. There may also be seen many other stones engraved by his hand, in the form of cameos; truly perfect is a nude woman wrought with great art, and another in which is a lion, and likewise one of a boy, with many small ones, of which there is no need to speak; but that which surpassed all the others was the head of the Athenian Phocion, which is marvellous, and the most beautiful cameo that is to be seen.

A master who gives his attention to cameos at the present day is Giovanni Antonio de' Rossi, an excellent craftsman of Milan, who, in addition to the various beautiful works that he has engraved in relief and in intaglio, has executed for the most illustrious Duke Cosimo de' Medici a very large cameo, one-third of a braccio in height and the same in width, in which he has cut two figures from the waist upwards—namely, His Excellency and the most illustrious Duchess Leonora, his consort, who are both holding with their hands a medallion containing a Florence, and beside them are portraits from life of the Prince Don Francesco, Don Giovanni the Cardinal, Don Garzia, Don Ernando, and Don Pietro, together with Donna Isabella and Donna Lucrezia, all their children. It would not be possible to find a more amazing or a larger work in cameo than this; and since it surpasses all the other cameos and smaller works that he has made, I shall make no further mention of them, for they are all to be seen.

Cosimo da Trezzo, also, has executed many works worthy of praise in this profession, and has won much favour on account of his rare gifts from Philip, the great Catholic King of Spain, who retains him about his person, honouring and rewarding him in return for his ability in his vocation of engraving in intaglio and in relief. He has no equal in making portraits from life; and in other kinds of work, as well as in that, his talent is extraordinary.

Of the Milanese Filippo Negrolo, who worked at chasing arms of iron with foliage and figures, I shall say nothing, since copper-engravings of his works, which have given him very great fame, may be seen about. By Gasparo and Girolamo Misuroni, engravers of Milan, have been seen most beautiful vases and tazze of crystal. For Duke Cosimo, in particular, they have executed two that are marvellous; besides which, they have made out of a piece of heliotrope a vase extraordinary in size and admirable for its engraving, and also a large vase of lapis-lazuli, which deserves infinite praise. Jacopo da Trezzo practises the same profession in Milan; and these men, in truth, have brought great beauty and facility to this art. Many masters could I mention who, in executing in incavo heads and reverses for medals, have equalled and even surpassed the ancients; as, for example, Benvenuto Cellini, who, during the time when he exercised the goldsmith's art in Rome under Pope Clement, made two medals with a head of Pope Clement that is a living likeness, and on the reverse of one a figure of Peace that has bound Fury and is burning her arms, and on the other Moses striking the rock and causing water to flow to quench the thirst of his people: beyond which it is not possible to go in that art. And the same might be said of the coins and medals that Benvenuto afterwards made for Duke Alessandro in Florence.

Of the Chevalier, Leone Aretino, who has done equally well in the same art, and of the works that he has made and still continues to make, there will be an account in another place.

The Roman Pietro Paolo Galeotto, also, has executed for Duke Cosimo, as he still does, medals with portraits of that lord, dies for coins, and works in tarsia, imitating the methods of Maestro Salvestro, a most excellent master, who produced marvellous works in that profession at Rome.

Pastorino da Siena, likewise, has executed so many heads from life, that he may be said to have made portraits of every kind of person in the whole world, great nobles, followers of the arts, and many people of low degree. He discovered a kind of hard stucco for making portraits, wherewith he gave them the coloring of nature, with the tints of the beard, hair, and flesh, so that they had the appearance of life itself; but he deserves much more praise for his work in steel, in which he has made excellent dies for medals.

It would take too long if I were to speak of all those who execute portrait medals of wax, seeing that every goldsmith at the present day makes them, and a number of gentlemen have given their attention to this, and still do so; such as Giovan Battista Sozzini at Siena, Rosso de' Giugni at Florence, and very many others, of whom I shall not now say more. And, to bring this account to conclusion, I return to the steel engravers, of whom one is Girolamo Fagiuoli of Bologna, a master of chasing and of copper-engraving, and another, at Florence, is Domenico Poggini, who has made, as he still does, dies for the Mint, with medals of Duke Cosimo, and who also executes statues of marble, imitating, in so far as he is able, the rarest and most excellent masters who have ever produced choice works in these professions.

 

 

 

LIVES OF MARC' ANTONIO BOLOGNESE (RAIMONDI) (1480-1527/34)
and OF OTHER ENGRAVERS OF PRINTS

Vasari's Lives of the Artists

SEEING THAT IN THE Treatise on the Technique of Painting there was little said of copper plate engraving, since it was enough at that time to describe the method of engraving silver with the burin, which is a square tool of iron, cut on the slant, with a sharp point, I shall use the occasion of this Life to say as much on that subject as I may consider to be sufficient. The beginning of print engraving, then, came from the Florentine Maso Finiguerra, about the year of our salvation 1460; for of all the works which that master engraved in silver with designs to be filled up with niello, he took impressions in clay, over which he poured melted sulphur, which reproduced the lines of the design; and these, when filled with smoke-black mixed with oil, produced the same effect as the silver. He also did the same with damped paper and with the same tint, going over the whole with a round and smooth roller, which not only gave the designs the appearance of prints, but they also came out as if drawn with the pen. This master was followed by Baccio Baldini, a goldsmith of Florence, who, not having much power of design, took all that he did from the invention and design of Sandro Botticelli. And this method, coming to the knowledge of Andrea Mantegna in Rome, was the reason that he made a beginning with engraving many of his works, as was said in his Life.

This invention having afterwards passed into Flanders, a certain Martin, who was held to be an excellent painter in Antwerp at that time, executed many works, and sent to Italy a great number of printed designs, which were all signed in the following manner: "M.C." The first of these were the Five Foolish Virgins with their lamps extinguished, [Pg 92] the Five Wise Virgins with their lamps burning, and a Christ Crucified, with S. John and the Madonna at the foot of the Cross, which was so good an engraving, that Gherardo, the Florentine illuminator, set himself to copy it with the burin, and succeeded very well; but he went no further with this, for he did not live long. Martin then published four round engravings of the four Evangelists, and Jesus Christ with the twelve Apostles, in small sheets, Veronica with six Saints, of the same size, and some coats of arms of German noblemen, supported by men, both naked and clothed, and also by women. He published, likewise, a S. George slaying the Dragon, a Christ standing before Pilate, who is washing his hands, and a Passing of Our Lady, with all the Apostles, a work of some size, which was one of the best designs that this master ever engraved. In another he represented S. Anthony beaten by Devils, and carried through the air by a vast number of them in the most varied and bizarre forms that could possibly be imagined; which sheet so pleased Michelagnolo, when he was a mere lad, that he set himself to color it.

After this Martin, Albrecht Duerer began to give attention to prints of the same kind at Antwerp, but with more design and better judgment, and with more beautiful invention, seeking to imitate the life and to draw near to the Italian manners, which he always held in much account. And thus, while still quite young, he executed many works which were considered as beautiful as those of Martin; and he engraved them with his own hand, signing them with his name. In the year 1503 he published a little Madonna, in which he surpassed both Martin and his own self; and afterwards many other sheets with horses, two in each sheet, taken from nature and very beautiful. In another he depicted the Prodigal Son, in the guise of a peasant, kneeling with his hands clasped and gazing up to Heaven, while some swine are eating from a trough; and in this work are some most beautiful huts after the manner of German cottages. He engraved a little S. Sebastian, bound, with the arms upraised; and a Madonna seated with the Child in her arms, with the light from a window falling upon her, a small work, than which there is nothing better to be seen. He also made a Flemish woman on horseback, with a groom at her feet; and on a larger copper-plate he engraved a nymph being carried away by a sea-monster, while some other nymphs are bathing. On a plate of the same size he engraved with supreme delicacy of workmanship, attaining to the final perfection of this art, a Diana beating a nymph, who has fled for protection to the bosom of a satyr; in which sheet Albrecht sought to prove that he was able to make nudes.

But although those masters were extolled at that time in those countries, in ours their works are commended only for the diligent execution of the engraving. I am willing, indeed, to believe that Albrecht was perhaps not able to do better because, not having any better models, he drew, when he had to make nudes, from one or other of his assistants, who must have had bad figures, as Germans generally have when naked, although one sees many from those parts who are fine men when in their clothes. In various little printed sheets he executed figures of peasant men and women in different Flemish costumes, some playing on the bagpipes and dancing, some selling fowls and suchlike things, and others in many other attitudes. He also drew a man sleeping in a bathroom who has Venus near him, leading him into temptation in a dream, while Love is diverting himself by mounting on stilts, and the Devil blows into his ears with a pair of bellows. And he engraved two different figures of S. Christopher carrying the Infant Christ, both very beautiful, and executed with much diligence in the close detail of the hair and in every other respect.

After these works, perceiving how much time he consumed in engraving on copper, and happening to have in his possession a great abundance of subjects drawn in various ways, he set himself to making woodcuts, a method of working in which those who have the greatest powers of design find the widest field wherein to display their ability in its perfection. And in the year 1510 he published two little prints in this manner, in one of which is the Beheading of S. John, and in the other the scene of the head of the same S. John being presented in a charger to Herod, who is seated at table; with other sheets of S. Christopher, S. Sixtus the Pope, S. Stephen, and S. Laurence. Then, having seen that this method of working was much easier than engraving on copper, he pursued it and executed a S. Gregory chanting the Mass, accompanied by the deacon and sub-deacon. And, growing in courage, in the year 1510 he represented on a sheet of royal folio part of the Passion of Christ-- that is, he executed four pieces, with the intention of afterwards finishing the whole, these four being the Last Supper, the Taking of Christ by Night in the Garden, His Descent into the Limbo of Hell in order to deliver the Holy Fathers, and His glorious Resurrection. That second piece he also painted in a very beautiful little picture in oils, which is now at Florence, in the possession of Signor Bernardetto de' Medici. As for the eight other parts, although they were afterwards executed and printed with the signature of Albrecht, to us it does not seem probable that they are the work of his hand, seeing that they are poor stuff, and bear no resemblance to his manner, either in the heads, or in the draperies, or in any other respect. Wherefore it is believed that they were executed after his death, for the sake of gain, by other persons, who did not scruple to father them on Albrecht. That this is true is also proved by the circumstance that in the year 1511 he represented the whole life of Our Lady in twenty sheets of the same size, executing it so well that it would not be possible, whether in invention, in the composition of the perspective views, in the buildings, in the costumes, or in the heads of old and young, to do better.

Of a truth, if this man, so able, so diligent, and so versatile, had had Tuscany instead of Flanders for his country, and had been able to study the treasures of Rome, as we ourselves have done, he would have been the best painter of our land, even as he was the rarest and most celebrated that has ever appeared among the Flemings. In the same year, continuing to give expression to his fantasies, Albrecht resolved to execute fifteen woodcuts of the same size, representing the terrible vision that S. John the Evangelist described in his Apocalypse on the Isle of Patmos. And so, setting his hand to the work, with his extravagant imagination, so well suited to such a subject, he depicted all those things both of heaven and of earth so beautifully, that it was a marvel, and with such a variety of forms in those animals and monsters, that it was a great light to many of our craftsmen, who have since availed themselves of the vast abundance of his beautiful fantasies and inventions. By the hand of the same master, also, is a woodcut that is to be seen of a nude Christ, who has round Him the Mysteries of His Passion, and is weeping for our sins, with His hands to His face; and this, for a small work, is not otherwise than worthy of praise.

Then, having grown both in power and in courage, as he saw that his works were prized, Albrecht executed some copper-plates that astonished the world. He also set himself to make an engraving, for printing on a sheet of half-folio, of a figure of Melancholy, with all the instruments that reduce those who use them, or rather, all mankind, to a melancholy humor; and in this he succeeded so well, that it would not be possible to do more delicate engraving with the burin. He executed three small plates of Our Lady, all different one from another, and most subtle in engraving. But it would take too long if I were to try to enumerate all the works that issued from Albrecht's hand; let it be enough for the present to tell that, having drawn a Passion of Christ in thirty-six parts, and having engraved these, he made an agreement with Marc' Antonio Bolognese that they should publish the sheets in company; and thus, arriving in Venice, this work was the reason that marvellous prints of the same kind were afterwards executed in Italy, as will be related below.

While Francesco Francia was working at his painting in Bologna, there was among his many disciples a young man called Marc' Antonio, who, being more gifted than the others, was much brought forward by him, and, from having been many years with Francia and greatly beloved by him, acquired the surname of De' Franci. This Marc' Antonio, who was more able in design than his master, handled the burin with facility and grace, and executed in niello girdles and many other things much in favor at that time, which were very beautiful, for the reason that he was indeed most excellent in that profession. Having then been seized, as happens to many, with a desire to go about the world and see new things and the methods of other craftsmen, with the gracious leave of Francia he went off to Venice, where he was well received by the craftsmen of that city. About the same time there arrived in Venice some Flemings with many copper plate engravings and woodcuts by Albrecht Duerer, which were seen by Marc' Antonio on the Piazza di S. Marco; and he was so amazed at the manner and method of the work of Albrecht, that he spent on those sheets almost all the money that he had brought from Bologna. Among other things, he bought the Passion of Jesus Christ, which had been engraved on thirty-six woodblocks and printed not long before on sheets of quarter-folio by the same Albrecht. This work began with the Sin of Adam and the scene of the Angel expelling him from Paradise, and continued down to the Descent of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

LIVES OF MARC' ANTONIO BOLOGNESE (RAIMONDI) (1480-1527/34)
and OF OTHER ENGRAVERS OF PRINTS
PART 2

Vasari's Lives of the Artists

Marc' Antonio, having considered what honor and profit might be acquired by one who should apply himself to that art in Italy, formed the determination to give his attention to it with all possible assiduity and diligence. He thus began to copy those engravings by Albrecht DŸrer, studying the manner of each stroke and every other detail of the prints that he had bought, which were held in such estimation on account of their novelty and their beauty, that everyone sought to have some. Having then counterfeited on copper, with engraving as strong as that of the woodcuts that Albrecht had executed, the whole of the said Life and Passion of Christ in thirty-six parts, he added to these the signature that Albrecht used for all his works, which was "A.D.," and they proved to be so similar in manner, that, no one knowing that they had been executed by Marc' Antonio, they were ascribed to Albrecht, and were bought and sold as works by his hand. News of this was sent in writing to Albrecht, who was in Flanders, together with one of the counterfeit Passions executed by Marc' Antonio; at which he flew into such a rage that he left Flanders and went to Venice, where he appeared before the Signoria and laid a complaint against Marc' Antonio. But he could obtain no other satisfaction but this, that Marc' Antonio should no longer use the name or the above-mentioned signature of Albrecht on his works.

After this affair, Marc' Antonio went off to Rome, where he gave his whole attention to design; and Albrecht returned to Flanders, where he found that another rival had already begun to execute many most delicate engravings in competition with him. This was Lucas of Holland, who, although he was not as fine a master of design as Albrecht, was yet in many respects his equal with the burin. Among the many large and beautiful works that Lucas executed, the first were two in 1509, round in shape, in one of which is Christ bearing the Cross, and in the other His Crucifixion. Afterwards he published a Samson, a David on horseback, and a S. Peter Martyr, with his tormentors; and then he made a copper plate engraving of Saul seated with the young David playing in his presence. And not long after, having made a great advance, he executed a very large plate with the most delicate engraving, of Virgil suspended from the window in the basket, with some heads and figures so marvellous, that they were the reason that Albrecht, growing more subtle in power through this competition, produced some printed sheets of such excellence, that nothing better could be done. In these, wishing to display his ability, Albrecht made an armed man on horseback, representing Human Strength, which is so well finished, that one can see the lustre of the arms and of the black horse's coat, which is a difficult thing to reproduce in design. This stalwart horseman had Death, hour-glass in hand, beside him, and the Devil behind. There was also a long-haired dog, executed with the most subtle delicacy that can possibly be achieved in engraving. In the year 1512 there issued from the hand of the same master sixteen little scenes of the Passion of Jesus Christ, engraved so well on copper, that there are no little figures to be seen that are more beautiful, sweet, and graceful, nor any that are stronger in relief.

Spurred likewise by rivalry, the same Lucas of Holland executed twelve similar plates, very beautiful, and yet not so perfect in engraving and design; and, in addition to these, a S. George who is comforting the Maiden, who is weeping because she is destined to be devoured by the Dragon; and also a Solomon, who is worshipping idols; the Baptism of Christ; Pyramus and Thisbe; and Ahasuerus with Queen Esther kneeling before him. Albrecht, on his part, not wishing to be surpassed by Lucas either in the number or in the excellence of his works, engraved a nude figure on some clouds, and a Temperance with marvellous wings, holding a cup of gold and a bridle, with a most delicate little landscape; and then a S. Eustachio kneeling before the stag, which has the Crucifix between its horns, a sheet which is amazing, and particularly for the beauty of some dogs in various attitudes, which could not be more perfect. Among the many children of various kinds that he made for the decoration of arms and devices, he engraved some who are holding a shield, wherein is a Death with a cock for crest, the feathers of which are rendered in such detail, that it would be impossible to execute anything more delicate with the burin.

Finally, he published the sheet with S. Jerome in the habit of a Cardinal, writing, with the Lion sleeping at his feet. In this work Albrecht represented a room with windows of glass, through which stream the rays of the sun, falling on the place where the Saint sits writing, with an effect so natural, that it is a marvel; besides which, there are books, timepieces, writings, and so many other things, that nothing more and nothing better could be done in this field of art. Not long afterwards, in the year 1523, he executed a Christ with the twelve Apostles, in little figures, which was almost the last of his works. There may also be seen prints of many heads taken from life by him, such as that of Erasmus of Rotterdam, that of Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg, Elector of the Empire, and also his own. Nor, with all the engravings that he produced, did he ever abandon painting; nay, he was always executing panels, canvases, and other paintings, all excellent, and, what is more, he left many writings on matters connected with engraving, painting, perspective, and architecture.

But to return to the subject of engraving: the works of Albrecht Duerer induced Lucas of Holland to follow in his steps to the best of his power. After the works already mentioned, Lucas engraved on copper four scenes from the life of Joseph, and also the four Evangelists, the three Angels who appeared to Abraham in the Valley of Mamre, Susannah in the Bath, David praying, Mordecai riding in Triumph on Horseback, Lot made drunk by his Daughters, the Creation of Adam and Eve, God commanding them that they shall not eat of the Fruit from the Tree that He points out to them, and Cain killing his brother Abel; all which sheets were published in the year 1529. But that which did more than anything else to bring renown and fame to Lucas, was a large sheet in which he represented the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ; with another wherein Pilate is showing Him to the people, saying, "Ecce Homo!" These sheets, which are large, and contain a great number of figures, are held to be excellent; as are, likewise, one with a Conversion of S. Paul, and another showing him being led, blind, into Damascus. And let these works suffice to prove that Lucas may be numbered among those who have handled the burin with ability.

The scenes of Lucas are very happy in composition, being executed with such clearness and so free from confusion, that it seems certain that the action represented could not have taken place in any other way; and they are arranged more in accordance with the rules of art than those of Albrecht. Besides this, it is evident that he used a wise discretion in the engraving of his works, for the reason that all those parts which recede little by little into the distance are less strongly defined in proportion as they are lost to view, even as natural objects become less clear to the eye when seen from afar. Indeed, he executed them with such thoughtful care, and made them so soft and well blended, that they would not be better in colour; and his judicious methods have opened the eyes of many painters. The same master engraved many little plates: various figures of Our Lady, the twelve Apostles with Christ, many Saints, both male and female; arms and helmet crests, and other suchlike things. Very beautiful is a peasant who is having a tooth drawn, and is feeling such pain, that he does not notice that meanwhile a woman is robbing his purse. All these works of Albrecht and Lucas have brought it about that many other Flemings and Germans after them have printed similar sheets of great beauty.

But returning to Marc' Antonio: having arrived in Rome, he engraved on copper a most lovely drawing by Raffaello da Urbino, wherein was the Roman Lucretia killing herself, which he executed with such diligence and in so beautiful a manner, that Raffaello, to whom it was straightway carried by some friends, began to think of publishing in engravings some designs of works by his hand, and then a drawing that he had formerly made of the Judgment of Paris, wherein, to please himself, he had drawn the Chariot of the Sun, the nymphs of the woods, those of the fountains, and those of the rivers, with vases, the helms of ships, and other beautiful things of fancy all around; and when he had made up his mind, these were engraved by Marc' Antonio in such a manner as amazed all Rome. After them was engraved the drawing of the Massacre of the Innocents, with most beautiful nudes, women and children, which was a rare work; and then the Neptune, with little stories of ģneas around it, the beautiful Rape of Helen, also after a drawing by Raffaello, and another design in which may be seen the death of S. Felicita, who is being boiled in oil, while her sons are beheaded. These works acquired such fame for Marc' Antonio, that his engravings were held in much higher estimation, on account of their good design, than those of the Flemings; and the merchants made very large profits out of them.

Raffaello had kept an assistant called Baviera for many years to grind his colors; and since this Baviera had a certain ability, Raffaello ordained that he should attend to the printing of the engravings executed by Marc' Antonio, to the end that all his compositions might thus be finished, and then sold in gross and in detail to all who desired them. And so, having set to work, they printed a vast number, which brought very great profit to Raffaello; and all the plates were signed by Marc' Antonio with the following signatures, "R.S." for the name of Raffaello Sanzio of Urbino, and "M.F." for that of Marc' Antonio. Among these works were a Venus embraced by Love, after a drawing by Raffaello, and a scene in which God the Father is blessing the seed of Abraham, with the handmaiden and two children. Next were engraved all the round pictures that Raffaello had painted in the apartments of the Papal Palace, such as the Universal Knowledge, Calliope with the musical instrument in her hand, Foresight, and Justice; and then, after a small drawing, the scene which Raffaello had painted in the same apartment, of Mount Parnassus, with Apollo, the Muses, and the Poets; and also that of ģneas carrying Anchises on his back while Troy is burning, of which Raffaello had made the drawing in order