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Title: A Wanderer in Florence
Author: Lucas, E. V. (Edward Verrall), 1868-1938
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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A WANDERER IN FLORENCE

By E.V. Lucas



Preface

A sentence from a "Synthetical Guidebook" which is circulated in the
Florentine hotels will express what I want to say, at the threshold
of this volume, much better than could unaided words of mine. It runs
thus: "The natural kindness, the high spirit, of the Florentine people,
the wonderful masterpieces of art created by her great men, who in
every age have stood in the front of art and science, rivalize with
the gentle smile of her splendid sky to render Florence one of the
finest towns of beautiful Italy". These words, written, I feel sure,
by a Florentine, and therefore "inspirated" (as he says elsewhere) by
a patriotic feeling, are true; and it is my hope that the pages that
follow will at once fortify their truth and lead others to test it.

Like the synthetical author, I too have not thought it necessary
to provide "too many informations concerning art and history," but
there will be found a few, practically unavoidable, in the gathering
together of which I have been indebted to many authors: notably Vasari,
Symonds, Crowe and Cavalcaselle, Ruskin, Pater, and Baedeker. Among
more recent books I would mention Herr Bode's "Florentine Sculptors of
the Renaissance," Mr. F.M. Hyett's "Florence," Mr. E.L.S. Horsburgh's
"Lorenzo the Magnificent" and "Savonarola," Mr. Gerald S. Davies'
"Michelangelo," Mr. W.G. Waters' "Italian Sculptors," and Col. Young's
"The Medici".

I have to thank very heartily a good English Florentine for the
construction of the historical chart at the end of the volume.

E.V.L.

May, 1912



Contents

                Preface
Chapter I       The Duomo I: Its Construction
Chapter II      The Duomo II: Its Associations
Chapter III     The Duomo III: A Ceremony and a Museum
Chapter IV      The Campanile and the Baptistery
Chapter V       The Riccardi Palace and the Medici
Chapter VI      S. Lorenzo and Michelangelo
Chapter VII     Or San Michele and the Palazzo Vecchio
Chapter VIII    The Uffizi I: The Building and the Collectors
Chapter IX      The Uffizi II: The First Six Rooms
Chapter X       The Uffizi III: Botticelli
Chapter XI      The Uffizi IV: Remaining Rooms
Chapter XII     "Aèrial Fiesole"
Chapter XIII    The Badia and Dante
Chapter XIV     The Bargello
Chapter XV      S. Croce
Chapter XVI     The Accademia
Chapter XVII    Two Monasteries and a Procession
Chapter XVIII   S. Marco
Chapter XIX     The SS. Annunziata and the Spedale Degli
                Innocenti
Chapter XX      The Cascine and the Arno
Chapter XXI     S. Maria Novella
Chapter XXII    The Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele to S. Trinità
Chapter XXIII   The Pitti
Chapter XXIV    English Poets in Florence
Chapter XXV     The Carmine and San Miniato
                Historical Chart of Florence and Europe, 1296-1564



List of Illustrations


In Colour

The Duomo and Campanile, From the Via Pecori

The Cloisters of San Lorenzo, Showing the Windows of the Biblioteca
Laurenziana

The Via Calzaioli, from the Baptistery, Showing the Bigallo and the
Top of Or San Michele

The Palazzo Vecchio

The Loggia of the Palazzo Vecchio and the Via de' Leoni

The Loggia de' Lanzi, the Duomo, and the Palazzo Vecchio, from the
Portico of the Uffizi

Fiesole, from the Hill under the Monastery

The Badia and the Bargello, from the Piazza S. Firenze

Interior of S. Croce

The Ponte S. Trinità

The Ponte Vecchio and Back of the Via de' Bardi

S. Maria Novella and the Corner of the Loggia di S. Paolo

The Via de' Vagellai, from the Piazza S. Jacopo Trafossi

The Piazza Della Signoria on a Wet Friday Afternoon

View of Florence at Evening, from the Piazzale Michelangelo

Evening at the Piazzale Michelangelo, Looking West



In Monotone


A Cantoria.
By Donatello, in the Museum of the Cathedral

Cain and Abel and Abraham and Isaac.
By Ghiberti, from his second Baptistery Doors

The Procession of the Magi.
By Benozzo Gozzoli, in the Palazzo Riccardi

Tomb of Lorenzo de' Medici, Duke of Urbino.
By Michelangelo, in the New Sacristy of S. Lorenzo

Christ and S. Thomas.
By Verrocchio, in a niche by Donatello and Michelozzo in the wall of
Or San Michele

Putto with Dolphin.
By Verrocchio, in the Palazzo Vecchio

Madonna Adoring.
Ascribed to Filippino Lippi, in the Uffizi

The Adoration of the Magi.
By Leonardo da Vinci, in the Uffizi

Madonna and Child.
By Luca Signorelli, in the Uffizi

†The Birth of Venus.
By Botticelli, in the Uffizi

The Annunciation.
By Botticelli, in the Uffizi

San Giacomo.
By Andrea del Sarto, in the Uffizi

The Madonna del Cardellino.
By Raphael, in the Uffizi

The Madonna del Pozzo.
By Franciabigio, in the Uffizi

Monument to Count Ugo.
By Mino da Fiesole, in the Badia

David.
By Donatello, in the Bargello
By Verrocchio, in the Bargello

St. George.
By Donatello, in the Bargello

Madonna and Child.
By Verrocchio, in the Bargello

Madonna and Child.
By Luca della Robbia, in the Bargello

Bust of a Boy.
By Luca or Andrea della Robbia, in the Bargello

*Monument to Carlo Marzuppini.
By Desiderio da Settignano, in S. Croce

David.
By Michelangelo, in the Accademia

The Flight into Egypt.
By Fra Angelico, in the Accademia

The Adoration of the Shepherds.
By Ghirlandaio, in the Accademia

The Vision of S. Bernard.
By Fra Bartolommeo, in the Accademia

Virgin and Child Enthroned, with Saints.
By Botticelli, in the Accademia

Primavera.
By Botticelli, in the Accademia

The Coronation of the Virgin.
By Fra Angelico, in the Convent of S. Marco

The Annunciation.
By Luca della Robbia, in the Spedale degli Innocenti

The Birth of the Virgin.
By Ghirlandaio, in S. Maria Novella

The Madonna del Granduca.
By Raphael, in the Pitti

The Madonna della Sedia.
By Raphael, in the Pitti

The Concert.
By Giorgione, in the Pitti

Madonna Adoring.
By Botticini, in the Pitti

The Madonna and Children.
By Perugino, in the Pitti

*A Gipsy.
By Boccaccio Boccaccini, in the Pitti

All the illustrations are from photographs by G. Brogi, except those
marked †, which are by Fratelli Alinari, and that marked *, which is
by R. Anderson.



A WANDERER IN FLORENCE

CHAPTER I

The Duomo I: Its Construction

The City of the Miracle--The Marble Companions--Twilight and
Immensity--Arnolfo di Cambio--Dante's seat--Ruskin's "Shepherd"--Giotto
the various--Giotto's fun--The indomitable Brunelleschi--Makers of
Florence--The present façade.

All visitors to Florence make first for the Duomo. Let us do the same.

The real name of the Duomo is the Cathedral of S. Maria del Fiore, or
St. Mary of the Flowers, the flower being the Florentine lily. Florence
herself is called the City of Flowers, and that, in the spring and
summer, is a happy enough description. But in the winter it fails. A
name appropriate to all the seasons would be the City of the Miracle,
the miracle being the Renaissance. For though all over Italy traces
of the miracle are apparent, Florence was its very home and still
can point to the greatest number of its achievements. Giotto (at the
beginning of this quickening movement) may at Assisi have been more
inspired as a painter; but here is his campanile and here are his
S. Maria Novella and S. Croce frescoes. Fra Angelico and Donatello
(in the midst of it) were never more inspired than here, where they
worked and died. Michelangelo (at the end of it) may be more surprising
in the Vatican; but here are his wonderful Medici tombs. How it came
about that between the years 1300 and 1500 Italian soil--and chiefly
Tuscan soil--threw up such masters, not only with the will and spirit
to do what they did but with the power too, no one will ever be able
to explain. But there it is. In the history of the world two centuries
were suddenly given mysteriously to the activities of Italian men of
humane genius and as suddenly the Divine gift was withdrawn. And to see
the very flower of these two centuries it is to Florence we must go.

It is best to enter the Piazza del Duomo from the Via de' Martelli,
the Via de' Cerretani, the Via Calzaioli, or the Via Pecori, because
then one comes instantly upon the campanile too. The upper windows--so
very lovely--may have been visible at the end of the streets, with
Brunelleschi's warm dome high in the sky beside them, but that was
not to diminish the effect of the first sight of the whole. Duomo and
campanile make as fair a couple as ever builders brought together: the
immense comfortable church so solidly set upon the earth, and at its
side this delicate, slender marble creature, all gaiety and lightness,
which as surely springs from roots within the earth. For one cannot
be long in Florence, looking at this tower every day and many times a
day, both from near and far, without being perfectly certain that it
grows--and from a bulb, I think--and was never really built at all,
whatever the records may aver.

The interior of the Duomo is so unexpected that one has the
feeling of having entered, by some extraordinary chance, the wrong
building. Outside it was so garish with its coloured marbles, under
the southern sky; outside, too, one's ears were filled with all the
shattering noises in which Florence is an adept; and then, one step,
and behold nothing but vast and silent gloom. This surprise is the more
emphatic if one happens already to have been in the Baptistery. For the
Baptistery is also coloured marble without, yet within it is coloured
marble and mosaic too: there is no disparity; whereas in the Duomo
the walls have a Northern grey and the columns are brown. Austerity
and immensity join forces.

When all is said the chief merit of the Duomo is this immensity. Such
works of art as it has are not very noticeable, or at any rate do
not insist upon being seen; but in its vastness it overpowers. Great
as are some of the churches of Florence, I suppose three or four of
them could be packed within this one. And mere size with a dim light
and a savour of incense is enough: it carries religion. No need for
masses and chants or any ceremony whatever: the world is shut out,
one is on terms with the infinite. A forest exercises the same spell;
among mountains one feels it; but in such a cathedral as the Duomo one
feels it perhaps most of all, for it is the work of man, yet touched
with mystery and wonder, and the knowledge that man is the author of
such a marvel adds to its greatness.

The interior is so dim and strange as to be for a time sheer terra
incognita, and to see a bat flitting from side to side, as I have
often done even in the morning, is to receive no shock. In such a
twilight land there must naturally be bats, one thinks. The darkness
is due not to lack of windows but to time. The windows are there,
but they have become opaque. None of the coloured ones in the aisle
allows more than a filtration of light through it; there are only the
plain, circular ones high up and those rich, coloured, circular ones
under the dome to do the work. In a little while, however, one's eyes
not only become accustomed to the twilight but are very grateful for
it; and beginning to look inquiringly about, as they ever do in this
city of beauty, they observe, just inside, an instant reminder of the
antiseptic qualities of Italy. For by the first great pillar stands a
receptacle for holy water, with a pretty and charming angelic figure
upon it, which from its air of newness you would think was a recent
gift to the cathedral by a grateful Florentine. It is six hundred
years old and perhaps was designed by Giotto himself.

The emptiness of the Duomo is another of its charms. Nothing is allowed
to impair the vista as you stand by the western entrance: the floor
has no chairs; the great columns rise from it in the gloom as if they,
too, were rooted. The walls, too, are bare, save for a few tablets.

The history of the building is briefly this. The first cathedral of
Florence was the Baptistery, and S. John the Baptist is still the
patron saint of the city. Then in 1182 the cathedral was transferred
to S. Reparata, which stood on part of the site of the Duomo, and in
1294 the decision to rebuild S. Reparata magnificently was arrived
at, and Arnolfo di Cambio was instructed to draw up plans. Arnolfo,
whom we see not only on a tablet in the left aisle, in relief, with
his plan, but also more than life size, seated beside Brunelleschi
on the Palazzo de' Canonici on the south side of the cathedral,
facing the door, was then sixty-two and an architect of great
reputation. Born in 1232, he had studied under Niccolo Pisano, the
sculptor of the famous pulpit at Pisa (now in the museum there),
of that in the cathedral in Siena, and of the fountain at Perugia
(in all of which Arnolfo probably helped), and the designer of many
buildings all over Italy. Arnolfo's own unaided sculpture may be seen
at its best in the ciborium in S. Paolo Fuori le Mura in Rome; but
it is chiefly as an architect that he is now known. He had already
given Florence her extended walls and some of her most beautiful
buildings--the Or San Michele and the Badia--and simultaneously he
designed S. Croce and the Palazzo Vecchio. Vasari has it that Arnolfo
was assisted on the Duomo by Cimabue; but that is doubtful.

The foundations were consecrated in 1296 and the first stone laid
on September 8th, 1298, and no one was more interested in its early
progress than a young, grave lawyer who used to sit on a stone seat
on the south side and watch the builders, little thinking how soon
he was to be driven from Florence for ever. This seat--the Sasso di
Dante--was still to be seen when Wordsworth visited Florence in 1837,
for he wrote a sonnet in which he tells us that he in reverence sate
there too, "and, for a moment, filled that empty Throne". But one
can do so no longer, for the place which it occupied has been built
over and only a slab in the wall with an inscription (on the house
next the Palazzo de' Canonici) marks the site.

Arnolfo died in 1310, and thereupon there seems to have been a
cessation or slackening of work, due no doubt to the disturbed
state of the city, which was in the throes of costly wars and
embroilments. Not until 1332 is there definite news of its progress,
by which time the work had passed into the control of the Arte della
Lana; but in that year, although Florentine affairs were by no means
as flourishing as they should be, and a flood in the Arno had just
destroyed three or four of the bridges, a new architect was appointed,
in the person of the most various and creative man in the history
of the Renaissance--none other than Giotto himself, who had already
received the commission to design the campanile which should stand
at the cathedral's side.

Giotto was the son of a small farmer at Vespignano, near Florence. He
was instructed in art by Cimabue, who discovered him drawing a lamb
on a stone while herding sheep, and took him as his pupil. Cimabue,
of whom more is said, together with more of Giotto as a painter, in the
chapter on the Accademia, had died in 1302, leaving Giotto far beyond
all living artists, and Giotto, between the age of fifty and sixty, was
now residing in Cimabue's house. He had already painted frescoes in the
Bargello (introducing his friend Dante), in S. Maria Novella, S. Croce,
and elsewhere in Italy, particularly in the upper and lower churches
at Assisi, and at the Madonna dell' Arena chapel at Padua when Dante
was staying there during his exile. In those days no man was painter
only or architect only; an all-round knowledge of both arts and crafts
was desired by every ambitious youth who was attracted by the wish to
make beautiful things, and Giotto was a universal master. It was not
then surprising that on his settling finally in Florence he should be
invited to design a campanile to stand for ever beside the cathedral,
or that he should be appointed superintendent of the cathedral works.

Giotto did not live to see even his tower completed--it is the unhappy
destiny of architects to die too soon--but he was able during the
four years left him to find time for certain accessory decorations,
of which more will be said later, and also to paint for S. Trinità
the picture which we shall see in the Accademia, together with a few
other works, since perished, for the Badia and S. Giorgio. He died in
1336 and was buried in the cathedral, as the tablet, with Benedetto
da Maiano's bust of him, tells. He is also to be seen full length,
in stone, in a niche at the Uffizi; but the figure is misleading,
for if Vasari is to be trusted (and for my part I find it amusing to
trust him as much as possible) the master was insignificant in size.

Giotto has suffered, I think, in reputation, from Ruskin, who took
him peculiarly under his wing, persistently called him "the Shepherd,"
and made him appear as something between a Sunday-school superintendent
and the Creator. The "Mornings in Florence" and "Giotto and his Works
in Padua" so insist upon the artist's holiness and conscious purpose
in all he did that his genial worldliness, shrewdness, and humour, as
brought out by Dante, Vasari, Sacchetti, and Boccaccio, are utterly
excluded. What we see is an intense saint where really was a very
robust man. Sacchetti's story of Giotto one day stumbling over a
pig that ran between his legs and remarking, "And serve me right;
for I've made thousands with the help of pigs' bristles and never
once given them even a cup of broth," helps to adjust the balance;
while to his friend Dante he made a reply, so witty that the poet
could not forget his admiration, in answer to his question how was
it that Giotto's pictures were so beautiful and his six children so
ugly; but I must leave the reader to hunt it for himself, as these
are modest pages. Better still, for its dry humour, was his answer
to King Robert of Naples, who had commanded him to that city to paint
some Scriptural scenes, and, visiting the artist while he worked, on
a very hot day, remarked, "Giotto, if I were you I should leave off
painting for a while". "Yes," replied Giotto, "if I were you I should."

To Giotto happily we come again and again in this book. Enough at
present to say that upon his death in 1336 he was buried, like Arnolfo,
in the cathedral, where the tablet to his memory may be studied,
and was succeeded as architect, both of the church and the tower,
by his friend and assistant, Andrea Pisano, whose chief title to
fame is his Baptistery doors and the carving, which we are soon to
examine, of the scenes round the base of the campanile. He, too,
died--in 1348--before the tower was finished.

Francesco Talenti was next called in, again to superintend both
buildings, and not only to superintend but to extend the plans of the
cathedral. Arnolfo and Giotto had both worked upon a smaller scale;
Talenti determined the present floor dimensions. The revised façade
was the work of a committee of artists, among them Giotto's godson
and disciple, Taddeo Gaddi, then busy with the Ponte Vecchio, and
Andrea Orcagna, whose tabernacle we shall see at Or San Michele. And
so the work went on until the main structure was complete in the
thirteen-seventies.

Another longish interval then came, in which nothing of note in the
construction occurred, and the next interesting date is 1418, when a
competition for the design for the dome was announced, the work to
be given eventually to one Filippo Brunelleschi, then an ambitious
and nervously determined man, well known in Florence as an architect,
of forty-one. Brunelleschi, who, again according to Vasari, was small,
and therefore as different as may be from the figure which is seated
on the clergy house opposite the south door of the cathedral, watching
his handiwork, was born in 1377, the son of a well-to-do Florentine of
good family who wished to make him a notary. The boy, however, wanted
to be an artist, and was therefore placed with a goldsmith, which was
in those days the natural course. As a youth he attempted everything,
being of a pertinacious and inquiring mind, and he was also a great
debater and student of Dante; and, taking to sculpture, he was one
of those who, as we shall see in a later chapter, competed for the
commission for the Baptistery gates. It was indeed his failure in that
competition which decided him to concentrate on architecture. That
he was a fine sculptor his competitive design, now preserved in the
Bargello, and his Christ crucified in S. Maria Novella, prove; but
in leading him to architecture the stars undoubtedly did rightly.

It was in 1403 that the decision giving Ghiberti the Baptistery
commission was made, when Brunelleschi was twenty-six and Donatello,
destined to be his life-long friend, was seventeen; and when
Brunelleschi decided to go to Rome for the study of his new branch of
industry, architecture, Donatello went too. There they worked together,
copying and measuring everything of beauty, Brunelleschi having always
before his mind the problem of how to place a dome upon the cathedral
of his native city. But, having a shrewd knowledge of human nature
and immense patience, he did not hasten to urge upon the authorities
his claims as the heaven-born architect, but contented himself with
smaller works, and even assisted his rival Ghiberti with his gates,
joining at that task Donatello and Luca della Robbia, and giving
lessons in perspective to a youth who was to do more than any man
after Giotto to assure the great days of painting and become the
exemplar of the finest masters--Masaccio.

It was not until 1419 that Brunelleschi's persistence and belief
in his own powers satisfied the controllers of the cathedral works
that he might perhaps be as good as his word and was the right man
to build the dome; but at last he was able to begin. [1] For the
story of his difficulties, told minutely and probably with sufficient
accuracy, one must go to Vasari: it is well worth reading, and is a
lurid commentary on the suspicions and jealousies of the world. The
building of the dome, without scaffolding, occupied fourteen years,
Brunelleschi's device embracing two domes, one within the other,
tied together with stone for material support and strength. It is
because of this inner dome that the impression of its size, from
within the cathedral, can disappoint. Meanwhile, in spite of all the
wear and tear of the work, the satisfying of incredulous busy-bodies,
and the removal of such an incubus as Ghiberti, who because he was a
superb modeller of bronze reliefs was made for a while joint architect
with a salary that Brunelleschi felt should either be his own or no
one's, the little man found time also to build beautiful churches
and cloisters all over Florence. He lived to see his dome finished
and the cathedral consecrated by Pope Eugenius IV in 1436, dying ten
years later. He was buried in the cathedral, and his adopted son and
pupil, Buggiano, made the head of him on the tablet to his memory.

Brunelleschi's lantern, the model of which from his own hand we shall
see in the museum of the cathedral, was not placed on the dome until
1462. The copper ball above it was the work of Verrocchio. In 1912
there are still wanting many yards of stone border to the dome.

Of the man himself we know little, except that he was of iron
tenacity and lived for his work. Vasari calls him witty, but gives
a not good example of his wit; he seems to have been philanthropic
and a patron of poor artists, and he grieved deeply at the untimely
death of Masaccio, who painted him in one of the Carmine frescoes,
together with Donatello and other Florentines.

As one walks about Florence, visiting this church and that, and
peering into cool cloisters, one's mind is always intent upon the
sculpture or paintings that may be preserved there for the delectation
of the eye. The tendency is to think little of the architect who made
the buildings where they are treasured. Asked to name the greatest
makers of this beautiful Florence, the ordinary visitor would
say Michelangelo, Giotto, Raphael, Donatello, the della Robbias,
Ghirlandaio, and Andrea del Sarto: all before Brunelleschi, even if
he named him at all. But this is wrong. Not even Michelangelo did
so much for Florence as he. Michelangelo was no doubt the greatest
individualist in the whole history of art, and everything that he did
grips the memory in a vice; but Florence without Michelangelo would
still be very nearly Florence, whereas Florence without Brunelleschi
is unthinkable. No dome to the cathedral, first of all; no S. Lorenzo
church or cloisters; no S. Croce cloisters or Pazzi chapel; no Badia
of Fiesole. Honour where honour is due. We should be singing the
praises of Filippo Brunelleschi in every quarter of the city.

After Brunelleschi the chief architect of the cathedral was Giuliano da
Maiano, the artist of the beautiful intarsia woodwork in the sacristy,
and the uncle of Benedetto da Maiano who made the S. Croce pulpit.

The present façade is the work of the architect Emilio de Fabris,
whose tablet is to be seen on the left wall. It was finished in 1887,
five hundred and more years after the abandonment of Arnolfo's original
design and three hundred and more years after the destruction of the
second one, begun in 1357 and demolished in 1587. Of Arnolfo's façade
the primitive seated statue of Boniface VIII (or John XXII) just inside
the cathedral is, with a bishop in one of the sacristies, the only
remnant; while of the second façade, for which Donatello and other
early Renaissance sculptors worked, the giant S. John the Evangelist,
in the left aisle, is perhaps the most important relic. Other statues
in the cathedral were also there, while the central figure--the Madonna
with enamel eyes--may be seen in the cathedral museum. Although not
great, the group of the Madonna and Child now over the central door
of the Duomo has much charm and benignancy.

The present façade, although attractive as a mass of light, is not
really good. Its patterns are trivial, its paintings and statues
commonplace; and I personally have the feeling that it would have
been more fitting had Giotto's marble been supplied rather with
a contrast than an imitation. As it is, it is not till Giotto's
tower soars above the façade that one can rightly (from the front)
appreciate its roseate delicacy, so strong is this rival.



CHAPTER II

The Duomo II: Its Associations

Dante's picture--Sir John Hawkwood--Ancestor and Descendant--The Pazzi
Conspiracy--Squeamish Montesecco--Giuliano de' Medici dies--Lorenzo's
escape--Vengeance on the Pazzi--Botticelli's cartoon--High
Mass--Luca della Robbia--Michelangelo nearing the end--The Miracles
of Zenobius--East and West meet in splendour--Marsilio Ficino and
the New Learning--Beautiful glass.

Of the four men most concerned in the structure of the Duomo I have
already spoken. There are other men held in memory there, and certain
paintings and statues, of which I wish to speak now.

The picture of Dante in the left aisle was painted by command of
the Republic in 1465, one hundred and sixty-three years after his
banishment from the city. Lectures on Dante were frequently delivered
in the churches of Florence during the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries, and it was interesting for those attending them to have
a portrait on the wall. This picture was painted by Domenico di
Michelino, the portrait of Dante being prepared for him by Alessio
Baldovinetti, who probably took it from Giotto's fresco in the chapel
of the Podestá at the Bargello. In this picture Dante stands between
the Inferno and a concentrated Florence in which portions of the
Duomo, the Signoria, the Badia, the Bargello, and Or San Michele are
visible. Behind him is Paradise. In his hand is the "Divine Comedy". I
say no more of the poet here, because a large part of the chapter on
the Badia is given to him.

Near the Dante picture in the left aisle are two Donatellos--the
massive S. John the Evangelist, seated, who might have given ideas
to Michelangelo for his Moses a century and more later; and, nearer
the door, between the tablets to De Fabris and Squarciaparello, the
so-called Poggio Bracciolini, a witty Italian statesman and Humanist
and friend of the Medici, who, however, since he was much younger than
this figure at the time of its exhibition, and is not known to have
visited Florence till later, probably did not sit for it. But it is
a powerful and very natural work, although its author never intended
it to stand on any floor, even of so dim a cathedral as this. The
S. John, I may say, was brought from the old façade--not Arnolfo's,
but the committee's façade--where it had a niche about ten feet from
the ground. The Poggio was also on this façade, but higher. It was
Poggio's son, Jacopo, who took part in the Pazzi Conspiracy, of which
we are about to read, and was very properly hanged for it.

Of the two pictures on the entrance wall, so high as to be imperfectly
seen, that on the right as you face it has peculiar interest to
English visitors, for (painted by Paolo Uccello, whose great battle
piece enriches our National Gallery) it represents Sir John Hawkwood,
an English free-lance and head of the famous White Company, who
after some successful raids on Papal territory in Provence, put his
sword, his military genius, and his bravoes at the service of the
highest bidder among the warlike cities and provinces of Italy, and,
eventually passing wholly into the employment of Florence (after
harrying her for other pay-masters for some years), delivered her
very signally from her enemies in 1392. Hawkwood was an Essex man,
the son of a tanner at Hinckford, and was born there early in the
fourteenth century. He seems to have reached France as an archer under
Edward III, and to have remained a free-booter, passing on to Italy,
about 1362, to engage joyously in as much fighting as any English
commander can ever have had, for some thirty years, with very good
pay for it. Although, by all accounts, a very Salomon Brazenhead,
Hawkwood had enough dignity to be appointed English Ambassador to Rome,
and later to Florence, which he made his home, and where he died in
1394. He was buried in the Duomo, on the north side of the choir, and
was to have reposed beneath a sumptuous monument made under his own
instructions, with frescoes by Taddeo Gaddi and Giuliano d'Arrigo;
but something intervened, and Uccello's fresco was used instead,
and this, some sixty years ago, was transferred to canvas and moved
to the position in which it now is seen.

Hawkwood's life, briskly told by a full-blooded hand, would make a fine
book. One pleasant story at least is related of him, that on being
beset by some begging friars who prefaced their mendicancy with the
words, "God give you peace," he answered, "God take away your alms";
and, on their protesting, reminded them that such peace was the last
thing he required, since should their pious wish come true he would
die of hunger. One of the daughters of this fire-eater married John
Shelley, and thus became an ancestress of Shelley the poet, who,
as it chances, also found a home for a while in this city, almost
within hailing distance of his ancestor's tomb and portrait, and here
wrote not only his "Ode to the West Wind," but his caustic satire,
"Peter Bell the Third".

Hawkwood's name is steeped sufficiently in carnage; but we get to the
scene of bloodshed in reality as we approach the choir, for it was
here that Giuliano de' Medici was assassinated, as he attended High
Mass, on April 26th, 1478, with the connivance, if not actually at the
instigation, of Christ's Vicar himself, Pope Sixtus IV. Florentine
history is so eventful and so tortuous that beyond the bare outline
given in chapter V, I shall make in these pages but little effort to
follow it, assuming a certain amount of knowledge on the part of the
reader; but it must be stated here that periodical revolts against
the power and prestige of the Medici often occurred, and none was
more desperate than that of the Pazzi family in 1478, acting with
the support of the Pope behind all and with the co-operation of
Girolamo Riario, nephew of the Pope, and Salviati, Archbishop of
Pisa. The Pazzi, who were not only opposed to the temporal power
of the Medici, but were their rivals in business--both families
being bankers--wished to rid Florence of Lorenzo and Giuliano in
order to be greater both civically and financially. Girolamo wished
the removal of Lorenzo and Giuliano in order that hostility to his
plans for adding Forli and Faenza to the territory of Imola, which
the Pope had successfully won for him against Lorenzo's opposition,
might disappear. The Pope had various political reasons for wishing
Lorenzo's and Giuliano's death and bringing Florence, always headstrong
and dangerous, to heel. While as for Salviati, it was sufficient that
he was Archbishop of Pisa, Florence's ancient rival and foe; but he
was a thoroughly bad lot anyway. Assassination also was in the air,
for Galeazzo Maria Sforza of Milan had been stabbed in church in 1476,
thus to some extent paving the way for this murder, since Lorenzo
and Sforza, when acting together, had been practically unassailable.

In 1478 Lorenzo was twenty-nine, Giuliano twenty-five. Lorenzo had
been at the head of Florentine affairs for nine years and he was
steadily growing in strength and popularity. Hence it was now or never.

The conspirators' first idea was to kill the brothers at a banquet
which Lorenzo was to give to the great-nephew of the Pope, the
youthful Cardinal Raffaello Riario, who promised to be an amenable
catspaw. Giuliano, however, having hurt his leg, was not well enough to
be present, but as he would attend High Mass, the conspirators decided
to act then. That is to say, it was then, in the cathedral, that the
death of the Medici brothers was to be effected; meanwhile another
detachment of conspirators under Salviati was to rise simultaneously to
capture the Signoria, while the armed men of the party who were outside
and inside the walls would begin their attacks on the populace. Thus,
at the same moment Medici and city would fall. Such was the plan.

The actual assassins were Francesco de' Pazzi and Bernardo Bandini,
who were nominally friends of the Medici (Francesco's brother Guglielmo
having married Bianca de' Medici, Lorenzo's sister), and two priests
named Maffeo da Volterra and Stefano da Bagnone. A professional bravo
named Montesecco was to have killed Lorenzo, but refused on learning
that the scene of the murder was to be a church. At that, he said,
he drew the line: murder anywhere else he could perform cheerfully,
but in a sacred building it was too much to ask. He therefore did
nothing, but, subsequently confessing, made the guilt of all his
associates doubly certain.

When High Mass began it was found that Giuliano was not present,
and Francesco de' Pazzi and Bandini were sent to persuade him to
come--a Judas-like errand indeed. On the way back, it is said, one
of them affectionately placed his arm round Giuliano--to see if he
wore a shirt of mail--remarking, to cover the action, that he was
getting fat. On his arrival, Giuliano took his place at the north
side of the circular choir, near the door which leads to the Via de'
Servi, while Lorenzo stood at the opposite side. At the given signal
Bandini and Pazzi were to stab Giuliano and the two priests were to
stab Lorenzo. The signal was the breaking of the Eucharistic wafer,
and at this solemn moment Giuliano was instantly killed, with one stab
in the heart and nineteen elsewhere, Francesco so overdoing his attack
that he severely wounded himself too; but Lorenzo was in time to see
the beginning of the assault, and, making a movement to escape, he
prevented the priest from doing aught but inflict a gash in his neck,
and, springing away, dashed behind the altar to the old sacristy,
where certain of his friends who followed him banged the heavy bronze
doors on the pursuing foe. Those in the cathedral, mean-while, were in
a state of hysterical alarm; the youthful cardinal was hurried into
the new sacristy; Guglielmo de' Pazzi bellowed forth his innocence
in loud tones; and his murderous brother and Bandini got off.

Order being restored, Lorenzo was led by a strong bodyguard to
the Palazzo Medici, where he appeared at a window to convince the
momentarily increasing crowd that he was still living. Meanwhile
things were going not much more satisfactorily for the Pazzi at
the Palazzo Vecchio, where, according to the plan, the gonfalonier,
Cesare Petrucci, was to be either killed or secured. The Archbishop
Salviati, who was to effect this, managed his interview so clumsily
that Petrucci suspected something, those being suspicious times,
and, instead of submitting to capture, himself turned the key on his
visitors. The Pazzi faction in the city, meanwhile, hoping that all
had gone well in the Palazzo Vecchio, as well as in the cathedral
(as they thought), were running through the streets calling "Viva la
Libertà!" to be met with counter cries of "Palle! palle!"--the palle
being the balls on the Medici escutcheon, still to be seen all over
Florence and its vicinity and on every curtain in the Uffizi.

The truth gradually spreading, the city then rose for the Medici and
justice began to be done. The Archbishop was handed at once, just as
he was, from a window of the Palazzo Vecchio. Francesco de' Pazzi,
who had got home to bed, was dragged to the Palazzo and hanged too. The
mob meanwhile were not idle, and most of the Pazzi were accounted for,
together with many followers--although Lorenzo publicly implored them
to be merciful. Poliziano, the scholar-poet and friend of Lorenzo,
has left a vivid account of the day. With his own eyes he saw the
hanging Salviati, in his last throes, bite the hanging Francesco de
Pazzi. Old Jacopo succeeded in escaping, but not for long, and a day
or so later he too was hanged. Bandini got as far as Constantinople,
but was brought back in chains and hanged. The two priests hid in
the Benedictine abbey in the city and for a while evaded search,
but being found they were torn to pieces by the crowd. Montesecco,
having confessed, was beheaded in the courtyard of the Bargello.

The hanging of the chief conspirators was kept in the minds of the
short-memoried Florentines by a representation outside the Palazzo
Vecchio, by none other than the wistful, spiritual Botticelli; while
three effigies, life size, of Lorenzo--one of them with his bandaged
neck--were made by Verrocchio in coloured wax and set up in places
where prayers might be offered. Commemorative medals which may be
seen in the Bargello, were also struck, and the family of Pazzi was
banished and its name removed by decree from the city's archives. Poor
Giuliano, who was generally beloved for his charm and youthful spirits,
was buried at S. Lorenzo in great state.

I have often attended High Mass in this Duomo choir--the theatre of
the Pazzi tragedy--but never without thinking of that scene.

Luca della Robbia's doors to the new sacristy, which gave the young
cardinal his safety, had been finished only eleven years. Donatello was
to have designed them, but his work at Padua was too pressing. The
commission was then given to Michelozzo, Donatello's partner,
and to Luca della Robbia, but it seems likely that Luca did nearly
all. The doors are in very high relief, thus differing absolutely
from Donatello's at S. Lorenzo, which are in very low. Luca's work
here is sweet and mild rather than strong, and the panels derive
their principal charm from the angels, who, in pairs, attend the
saints. Above the door was placed, at the time of Lorenzo's escape,
the beautiful cantoria, also by Luca, which is now in the museum of
the cathedral, while above the door of the old sacristy was Donatello's
cantoria. Commonplace new ones now take their place. In the semicircle
over each door is a coloured relief by Luca: that over the bronze doors
being the "Resurrection," and the other the "Ascension"; and they are
interesting not only for their beauty but as being the earliest-known
examples in Luca's newly-discovered glazed terra-cotta medium,
which was to do so much in the hands of himself, his nephew Andrea,
and his followers, to make Florence still lovelier and the legend
of the Virgin Mary still sweeter. But of the della Robbias and their
exquisite genius I shall say more later, when we come to the Bargello.

As different as would be possible to imagine is the genius of that
younger sculptor, the author of the Pietà at the back of the altar,
near where we now stand, who, when Luca finished these bronze doors,
in 1467, was not yet born--Michelangelo Buonarroti. This group, which
is unfinished, is the last the old and weary Titan ever worked at,
and it was meant to be part of his own tomb. Vasari, to whose "Lives
of the Painters" we shall be indebted, as this book proceeds, for so
much good human nature, and who speaks of Michelangelo with peculiar
authority, since he was his friend, pupil, and correspondent, tells us
that once when he went to see the sculptor in Rome, near the end, he
found him at work upon this Pietà, but the sculptor was so dissatisfied
with one portion that he let his lantern fall in order that Vasari
might not see it, saying: "I am so old that death frequently drags
at my mantle to take me, and one day my person will fall like this
lantern". The Pietà is still in deep gloom, as the master would have
liked, but enough is revealed to prove its pathos and its power.

In the east end of the nave is the chapel of S. Zenobius, containing a
bronze reliquary by Ghiberti, with scenes upon it from the life of this
saint, so important in Florentine religious history. It is, however,
very hard to see, and should be illuminated. Zenobius was born at
Florence in the reign of Constantine the Great, when Christianity
was by no means the prevailing religion of the city, although the
way had been paved by various martyrs. After studying philosophy
and preaching with much acceptance, Zenobius was summoned to Rome
by Pope Damasus. On the Pope's death he became Bishop of Florence,
and did much, says Butler, to "extirpate the kingdom of Satan". The
saint lived in the ancient tower which still stands--one of the few
survivors of Florence's hundreds of towers--at the corner of the Via
Por S. Maria (which leads from the Mercato Nuovo to the Ponte Vecchio)
and the Via Lambertesca. It is called the Torre de' Girolami, and
on S. Zenobius' day--May 25th--is decorated with flowers; and since
never are so many flowers in the city of flowers as at that time, it
is a sight to see. The remains of the saint were moved to the Duomo,
although it had not then its dome, from S. Lorenzo, in 1330, and the
simple column in the centre of the road opposite Ghiberti's first
Baptistery doors was erected to mark the event, since on that very
spot, it is said, stood a dead elm tree which, when the bier of the
saint chanced to touch it, immediately sprang to life again and burst
into leaf; even, the enthusiastic chronicler adds, into flower. The
result was that the tree was cut completely to pieces by relic hunters,
but the column by the Baptistery, the work of Brunelleschi (erected on
the site of an earlier one), fortunately remains as evidence of the
miracle. Ghiberti, however, did not choose this miracle but another
for representation; for not only did Zenobius dead restore animation,
but while he was himself living he resuscitated two boys. The one was a
ward of his own; the second was an ordinary Florentine, for whom the
same modest boon was craved by his sorrowing parents. It is one of
these scenes of resuscitation which Ghiberti has designed in bronze,
while Ridolfo Ghirlandaio painted it in a picture in the Uffizi. We
shall see S. Zenobius again in the fresco by Ridolfo's father, the
great Ghirlandaio, in the Palazzo Vecchio; while the portrait on the
first pillar of the left aisle, as one enters the cathedral is of
Zenobius too.

The date of the Pazzi Conspiracy was 1478. A few years later the
same building witnessed the extraordinary effects of Savonarola's
oratory, when such was the terrible picture he drew of the fate of
unregenerate sinners that his listeners' hair was said actually to
rise with fright. Savonarola came towards the end of the Renaissance,
to give it its death-blow. By contrast there is a tablet on the right
wall of the cathedral in honour of one who did much to bring about the
paganism and sophistication against which the impassioned reformer
uttered his fiercest denunciations: Marsilio Ficino (1433-1491),
the neo-Platonist protegé of Cosimo de' Medici, and friend both
of Piero de' Medici and Lorenzo. To explain Marsilio's influence
it is necessary to recede a little into history. In 1439 Cosimo de'
Medici succeeded in transferring the scene of the Great Council of the
Church to Florence. At this conference representatives of the Western
Church, centred in Rome, met those of the Eastern Church, centred
in Constantinople, which was still Christian, for the purpose of
discussing various matters, not the least of which was the protection
of the Eastern Church against the Infidel. Not only was Constantinople
continually threatened by the Turks, and in need of arms as well
as sympathy, but the two branches of the Church were at enmity over
a number of points. It was as much to heal these differences as to
seek temporal aid that the Emperor John Palaeologus, the Patriarch
of Constantinople, and a vast concourse of nobles, priests, and
Greek scholars, arrived in Italy, and, after sojourning at Venice
and Ferrara, moved on to Florence at the invitation of Cosimo. The
Emperor resided in the Peruzzi palace, now no more, near S. Croce;
the Patriarch of Constantinople lodged (and as it chanced, died, for
he was very old) at the Ferrantini palace, now the Casa Vernaccia,
in the Borgo Pinti; while Pope Eugenius was at the convent attached
to S. Maria Novella. The meetings of the Council were held where we
now stand--in the cathedral, whose dome had just been placed upon it
all ready for them.

The Council failed in its purpose, and, as we know, Constantinople
was lost some years later, and the great empire of which John
Palaeologus was the last ruler ceased to be. That, however, at the
moment is beside the mark. The interesting thing to us is that among
the scholars who came from Constantinople, bringing with them numbers
of manuscripts and systems of thought wholly new to the Florentines,
was one Georgius Gemisthos, a Greek philosopher of much personal
charm and comeliness, who talked a bland and beautiful Platonism that
was extremely alluring not only to his youthful listeners but also
to Cosimo himself. Gemisthos was, however, a Greek, and Cosimo was
too busy a man in a city of enemies, or at any rate of the envious,
to be able to do much more than extend his patronage to the old man
and despatch emissaries to the East for more and more manuscripts;
but discerning the allurements of the new gospel, Cosimo directed
a Florentine enthusiast who knew Greek to spread the serene creed
among his friends, who were all ripe for it, and this enthusiast was
none other than a youthful scholar by name Marsilio Ficino, connected
with S. Lorenzo, Cosimo's family church, and the son of Cosimo's own
physician. To the young and ardent Marsilio, Plato became a god and
Gemisthos not less than divine for bringing the tidings. He kept a lamp
always burning before Plato's bust, and later founded the Platonic
Academy, at which Plato's works were discussed, orations delivered,
and new dialogues exchanged, between such keen minds as Marsilio,
Pulci, Landini, Giovanni Cavalcanti, Leon Battista Alberti, the
architect and scholar, Pico dell a Mirandola, the precocious disputant
and aristocratic mystic, Poliziano, the tutor of Lorenzo's sons, and
Lorenzo the Magnificent himself. It was thus from the Greek invasion
of Florence that proceeded the stream of culture which is known as
Humanism, and which, no doubt, in time, was so largely concerned in
bringing about that indifference to spiritual things which, leading
to general laxity and indulgence, filled Savonarola with despair.

I am not concerned to enter deeply into the subject of the
Renaissance. But this must be said--that the new painting and
sculpture, particularly the painting of Masaccio and the sculpture
of Donatello, had shown the world that the human being could be made
the measure of the Divine. The Madonna and Christ had been related
to life. The new learning, by leading these keen Tuscan intellects,
so eager for reasonableness, to the Greek philosophers who were so
wise and so calm without any of the consolations of Christianity,
naturally set them wondering if there were not a religion of Humanity
that was perhaps a finer thing than the religion that required all the
machinery and intrigue of Rome. And when, as the knowledge of Greek
spread and the minute examination of documents ensued, it was found
that Rome had not disdained forgery to gain her ends, a blow was struck
against the Church from which it never recovered;--and how much of this
was due to this Florentine Marsilio, sitting at the feet of the Greek
Gemisthos, who came to Florence at the invitation of Cosimo de' Medici!

The cathedral glass, as I say, is mostly overladen with grime; but the
circular windows in the dome seem to be magnificent in design. They
are attributed to Ghiberti and Donatello, and are lovely in colour. The
greens in particular are very striking. But the jewel of these circular
windows of Florence is that by Ghiberti on the west wall of S. Croce.

And here I leave the Duomo, with the counsel to visitors to Florence
to make a point of entering it every day--not, as so many Florentines
do, in order to make a short cut from the Via Calzaioli to the Via de'
Servi, and vice versâ, but to gather its spirit. It is different every
hour in the day, and every hour the light enters it with new beauty.



CHAPTER III

The Duomo III: A Ceremony and a Museum

The Scoppio del Carro--The Pazzi beneficent--Holy Saturday's
programme--April 6th, 1912--The flying palle--The nervous
pyrotechnist--The influence of noon--A little sister of the
Duomo--Donatello's cantoria--Luca della Robbia's cantoria.

In the last chapter we saw the Pazzi family as very black sheep,
although there are plenty of students of Florentine history who
hold that any attempt to rid Florence of the Medici was laudable. In
this chapter we see them in a kindlier situation as benefactors to
the city. For it happened that when Pazzo de' Pazzi, a founder of
the house, was in the Holy Land during the First Crusade, it was his
proud lot to set the Christian banner on the walls of Jerusalem, and,
as a reward, Godfrey of Boulogne gave him some flints from the Holy
Sepulchre. These he brought to Florence, and they are now preserved
at SS. Apostoli, the little church in the Piazza del Limbo, off the
Borgo SS. Apostoli, and every year the flints are used to kindle
the fire needed for the right preservation of Easter Day. Gradually
the ceremony enlarged until it became a spectacle indeed, which the
Pazzi family for centuries controlled. After the Pazzi conspiracy
they lost it and the Signoria took it over; but, on being pardoned,
the Pazzi again resumed.

The Carro is a car containing explosives, and the Scoppio is its
explosion. This car, after being drawn in procession through the
streets by white oxen, is ignited by the sacred fire borne to it by
a mechanical dove liberated at the high altar of the Duomo, and with
its explosion Easter begins. There is still a Pazzi fund towards the
expenses, but a few years ago the city became responsible for the
whole proceedings, and the ceremony as it is now given, under civic
management, known as the Scoppio del Cairo, is that which I saw on
Holy Saturday last and am about to describe.

First, however, let me state what had happened before the proceedings
opened in the Piazza del Duomo. At six o'clock mass began at
SS. Apostoli, lasting for more than two hours. At its close the
celebrant was handed a plate on which were the sacred flints, and these
he struck with a steel in view of the congregation, thus igniting a
taper. The candle, in an ancient copper porta fuoco surmounted by a
dove, was then lighted, and the procession of priests started off for
the cathedral with their precious flame, escorted by a civic guard
and various standard bearers. Their route was the Piazza del Limbo,
along the Borgo SS. Apostoli to the Via Por S. Maria and through
the Vacchereccia to the Piazza della Signoria, the Via Condotta, the
Via del Proconsolo, to the Duomo, through whose central doors they
passed, depositing the sacred burden at the high altar. I should add
that anyone on the route in charge of a street shrine had the right
to stop the procession in order to take a light from it; while at
SS. Apostoli women congregated with tapers and lanterns in the hope
of getting these kindled from the sacred flame, in order to wash
their babies or cook their food in water heated with the fire.

Meanwhile at seven o'clock the four oxen, which are kept in the
Cascine all the year round and do no other work, had been harnessed to
the car and had drawn it to the Piazza del Duomo, which was reached
about nine. The oxen were then tethered by the Pisano doors of the
Baptistery until needed again.

After some haggling on the night before, I had secured a seat on a
balcony facing Ghiberti's first Baptistery doors, for eleven lire, and
to this place I went at half-past ten. The piazza was then filling up,
and at a quarter to eleven the trams running between the Cathedral and
the Baptistery were stopped. In this space was the car. The present
one, which dates from 1622, is more like a catafalque, and unless one
sees it in motion, with the massive white oxen pulling it, one cannot
believe in it as a vehicle at all. It is some thirty feet high, all
black, with trumpery coloured-paper festoons (concealing fireworks)
upon it: trumpery as only the Roman Catholic Church can contrive. It
stood in front of the Duomo some four yards from the Baptistery gates
in a line with the Duomo's central doors and the high altar. The
doors were open, seats being placed on each side of the aisle the
whole distance, and people making a solid avenue. Down this avenue
were to come the clergy, and above it was to be stretched the line
on which the dove was to travel from the altar, with the Pazzi fire,
to ignite the car.

The space in front of the cathedral was cleared at about eleven,
and cocked hats and red-striped trousers then became the most
noticeable feature. The crowd was jolly and perhaps a little cynical;
picture-postcard hawkers made most of the noise, and for some reason
or other a forlorn peasant took this opportunity to offer for sale two
equally forlorn hedgehogs. Each moment the concourse increased, for it
is a fateful day and every one wants to know the issue: because, you
see, if the dove runs true, lights the car, and returns, as a good dove
should, to the altar ark, there will be a prosperous vintage and the
pyrotechnist who controls the sacred bird's movements will receive his
wages. But if the dove runs defectively and there is any hitch, every
one is dismayed, for the harvest will be bad and the pyrotechnist will
receive nothing. Once he was imprisoned when things went astray--and
quite right too--but the Florentines have grown more lenient.

At about a quarter past eleven a procession of clergy emerged from the
Duomo and crossed the space to the Baptistery. First, boys and youths
in surplices. Then some scarlet hoods, waddling. Then purple hoods,
and other colours, a little paunchier, waddling more, and lastly the
archbishop, very sumptuous. All having disappeared into the Baptistery,
through Ghiberti's second gates, which I never saw opened before, the
dove's wire was stretched and fastened, a matter needing much care;
and the crowds began to surge. The cocked hats and officers had the
space all to themselves, with the car, the firemen, the pyrotechnist
and the few privileged and very self-conscious civilians who were
allowed inside.

A curious incident, which many years ago might have been magnified
into a portent, occurred while the ecclesiastics were in the Artistry.
Some one either bought and liberated several air balloons, or the
string holding them was surreptitiously cut; but however it happened,
the balls escaped and suddenly the crowd sent up a triumphant yell. At
first I could see no reason for it, the Baptistery intervening,
but then the balls swam into our ken and steadily floated over
the cathedral out of sight amid tremendous satisfaction.  And the
portent? Well, as they moved against the blue sky they formed
themselves into precisely the pattern of the palle on the Medici
escutcheon. That is all. But think what that would have meant in the
fifteenth century; the nods and frowns it would have occasioned; the
dispersal of the Medici, the loss of power, and all the rest of it,
that it would have presaged!

At about twenty to twelve the ecclesiastics returned and were
swallowed up by the Duomo, and then excitement began to be acute. The
pyrotechnist was not free from it; he fussed about nervously; he tested
everything again and again; he crawled under the car and out of it;
he talked to officials; he inspected and re-inspected. Photographers
began to adjust their distances; the detached men in bowlers looked
at their watches; the cocked hats drew nearer to the Duomo door. And
then we heard a tearing noise. All eyes were turned to the great door,
and out rushed the dove emitting a wake of sparks, entered the car
and was out again on its homeward journey before one realized what had
happened. And then the explosions began, and the bells--silent since
Thursday--broke out. How many explosions there were I do not know;
but they seemed to go on for ten minutes.

This is a great moment not only for the spectator but for all Florence,
for in myriad rooms mothers have been waiting, with their babies
on their knees, for the first clang of the belfries, because if a
child's eyes are washed then it is unlikely ever to have weak sight,
while if a baby takes its first steps to this accompaniment its legs
will not be bowed.

At the last explosion the pyrotechnist, now a calm man once more
and a proud one, approached the car, the firemen poured water on
smouldering parts, and the work of clearing up began. Then came
the patient oxen, their horns and hooves gilt, and great masses of
flowers on their heads, and red cloths with the lily of Florence
on it over their backs--much to be regretted since they obliterated
their beautiful white skins--and slowly the car lumbered off, and,
the cocked hats relenting, the crowd poured after it and the Scoppio
del Carro was over.

The Duomo has a little sister in the shape of the Museo di Santa
Maria del Fiore, or the Museo dell' Opera del Duomo, situated in the
Piazza opposite the apse; and we should go there now. This museum,
which is at once the smallest and, with the exception of the Natural
History Museum, the cheapest of the Florentine museums, for it
costs but half a lira, is notable for containing the two cantorie,
or singing galleries, made for the cathedral, one by Donatello and
one by Luca della Robbia. A cantoria by Donatello we shall soon see in
its place in S. Lorenzo; but that, beautiful as it is, cannot compare
with this one, with its procession of merry, dancing children, its
massiveness and grace, its joyous ebullitions of gold mosaic and blue
enamel. Both the cantorie--Donatello's, begun in 1433 and finished
in 1439, and Luca's, begun in 1431 and finished in 1438--fulfilled
their melodious functions in the Duomo until 1688, when they were
ruthlessly cleared away to make room for large wooden balconies to
be used in connexion with the nuptials of Ferdinand de' Medici and
the Princess Violante of Bavaria. In the year 1688 taste was at a low
ebb, and no one thought the deposed cantorie even worth preservation,
so that they were broken up and occasionally levied upon for cornices
and so forth. The fragments were collected and taken to the Bargello
in the middle of the last century, and in 1883 Signer del Moro, the
then architect of the Duomo (whose bust is in the courtyard of this
museum), reconstructed them to the best of his ability in their present
situation. It has to be remembered not only that, with the exception
of the figures, the galleries are not as their artists made them,
lacking many beautiful accessories, but that, as Vasari tells us,
Donatello deliberately designed his for a dim light. None the less,
they remain two of the most delightful works of the Renaissance and
two of the rarest treasures of Florence.

The dancing boys behind the small pillars with their gold chequering,
the brackets, and the urn of the cornice over the second pair
of pillars from the right, are all that remain of Donatello's own
handiwork. All else is new and conjectural. It is supposed that bronze
heads of lions filled the two circular spaces between the brackets
in the middle. But although the loss of the work as a whole is to be
regretted, the dancing boys remain, to be for ever an inspiration and
a pleasure. The Luca della Robbia cantoria opposite is not quite so
triumphant a masterpiece, but from the point of view of suitability it
is perhaps better. We can believe that Luca's children hymn the glory
of the Lord, as indeed the inscription makes them, whereas Donatello's
romp with a gladness that might easily be purely pagan. Luca's design
is more formal, more conventional; Donatello's is rich and free and
fluid with personality. The two end panels of Luca's are supplied in
the cantoria by casts; the originals are on the wall below and may
be carefully studied. The animation and fervour of these choristers
are unforgettable.

It is well, while enjoying Donatello's work, to remember that Prato
is only half an hour from Florence, and that there may be seen
the open-air pulpit, built on the corner of the cathedral, which
Donatello, with Michelozzo, his friend and colleague, made at the
same time that the cantoria was in progress, and which in its relief
of happy children is very similar, although not, I think, quite so
remarkable. It lacks also the peculiarly naturalistic effect gained
in the cantoria by setting the dancing boys behind the pillars, which
undoubtedly, as comparison with the Luca shows, assists realism. The
row of pillars attracts the eye first and the boys are thus thrown
into a background which almost moves.

Although the cantorie dominate the museum they must not be allowed to
overshadow all else. A marble relief of the Madonna and Children by
Agostino di Duccio (1418-1481) must be sought for: it is No. 77 and
the children are the merriest in Florence. Another memorable Madonna
and Child is No. 94, by Pagno di Lapo Portigiani (1406-1470), who has
interest for us in this place as being one of Donatello's assistants,
very possibly on this very cantoria, and almost certainly on the Prato
pulpit. Everything here, it must be remembered, has some association
with the Duomo and was brought here for careful preservation and that
whoever has fifty centimes might take pleasure in seeing it; but the
great silver altar is from the Baptistery, and being made for that
temple is naturally dedicated to the life of John the Baptist. Although
much of it was the work of not the greatest modellers in the second
half of the fourteenth century, three masters at least contributed
later: Michelozzo adding the statue of the Baptist, Pollaiuolo the
side relief depicting his birth, and Verrocchio that of his death,
which is considered one of the most remarkable works of this sculptor,
whom we are to find so richly represented at the Bargello. Before
leaving this room, look for 100^3, an unknown terra-cotta of the
Birth of Eve, which is both masterly and amusing, and 110^4, a very
lovely intaglio in wood. I might add that among the few paintings,
all very early, is a S. Sebastian in whose sacred body I counted no
fewer than thirty arrows; which within my knowledge of pictures of
this saint--not inconsiderable--is the highest number.

The next room is given to models and architectural plans and
drawings connected with the cathedral, the most interesting thing
being Brunelleschi's own model for the lantern. On the stairs are a
series of fine bas-reliefs by Bandinelli and Giovanni dell' Opera from
the old choir screen of the Duomo, and downstairs, among many other
pieces of sculpture, is a bust of Brunelleschi from a death-mask and
several beautiful della Robbia designs for lunettes over doors.



CHAPTER IV

The Campanile and the Baptistery

A short way with Veronese critics--Giotto's missing spire--Donatello's
holy men--Giotto as encyclopaedist--The seven and twenty
reliefs--Ruskin in American--At the top of the tower--A sea of
red roofs--The restful Baptistery--Historic stones--An ex-Pope's
tomb--Andrea Pisano's doors--Ghiberti's first doors--Ghiberti's second
doors--Michelangelo's praise--A gentleman artist.

It was in 1332, as I have said, that Giotto was made capo-maestro,
and on July 18th, 1334, the first stone of his campanile was laid, the
understanding being that the structure was to exceed "in magnificence,
height, and excellence of workmanship" anything in the world. As
some further indication of the glorious feeling of patriotism then
animating the Florentines, it may be remarked that when a Veronese
who happened to be in Florence ventured to suggest that the city
was aiming rather too high, he was at once thrown into gaol, and,
on being set free when his time was done, was shown the treasury as
an object lesson. Of the wealth and purposefulness of Florence at
that time, in spite of the disastrous bellicose period she had been
passing through, Villani the historian, who wrote history as it was
being made, gives an excellent account, which Macaulay summarizes in
his vivid way. Thus: "The revenue of the Republic amounted to three
hundred thousand florins; a sum which, allowing for the depreciation of
the precious metals, was at least equivalent to six hundred thousand
pounds sterling; a larger sum than England and Ireland, two centuries
ago, yielded to Elizabeth. The manufacture of wool alone employed two
hundred factories and thirty thousand workmen. The cloth annually
produced sold, at an average, for twelve hundred thousand florins;
a sum fully equal in exchangeable value to two millions and a half of
our money. Four hundred thousand florins were annually coined. Eighty
banks conducted the commercial operations, not of Florence only but of
all Europe. The transactions of these establishments were sometimes
of a magnitude which may surprise even the contemporaries of the
Barings and the Rothschilds. Two houses advanced to Edward III of
England upwards of three hundred thousand marks, at a time when the
mark contained more silver than fifty shillings of the present day,
and when the value of silver was more than quadruple of what it now
is. The city and its environs contained a hundred and seventy thousand
children inhabitants. In the various schools about ten thousand
children were taught to read; twelve hundred studied arithmetic;
six hundred received a learned education."

Giotto died in 1386, and after his death, as I have said, Andrea
Pisano came in for a while; to be followed by Talenti, who is said
to have made considerable alterations in Giotto's design and to
be responsible for the happy idea of increasing the height of the
windows with the height of the tower and thus adding to the illusion
of springing lightness. The topmost ones, so bold in size and so
lovely with their spiral columns, almost seem to lift it.

The campanile to-day is 276 feet in height, and Giotto proposed to
add to that a spire of 105 feet. The Florentines completed the façade
of the cathedral in 1887 and are now spending enormous sums on the
Medici chapel at S. Lorenzo; why should they not one day carry out
their greatest artist's intention?

The campanile as a structure had been finished in 1387, but not for
many years did it receive its statues, of which something must be said,
although it is impossible to get more than a vague idea of them, so
high are they. A captive balloon should be arranged for the use of
visitors. Those by Donatello, on the Baptistery side, are the most
remarkable. The first of these--that nearest to the cathedral and
the most striking as seen from the distant earth--is called John the
Baptist, always a favourite subject with this sculptor, who, since
he more than any at that thoughtful time endeavoured to discover
and disclose the secret of character, is curiously unfortunate in
the accident that has fastened names to these figures. This John,
for example, bears no relation to his other Baptists; nor does the
next figure represent David, as is generally supposed, but owes that
error to the circumstance that when the David that originally stood
here was moved to the north side, the old plinth bearing his name was
left behind. This famous figure is stated by Vasari to be a portrait of
a Florentine merchant named Barduccio Cherichini, and for centuries it
has been known as Il Zuccone (or pumpkin) from its baldness. Donatello,
according to Vasari, had a particular liking for the work, so much that
he used to swear by it; while, when engaged upon it, he is said to
have so believed in its reality as to exclaim, "Speak, speak! or may
a dysentery seize thee!" It is now generally considered to represent
Job, and we cannot too much regret the impossibility of getting near
enough to study it. Next is the Jeremiah, which, according to Vasari,
was a portrait of another Florentine, but which, since he bears his
name on a scroll, may none the less be taken to realize the sculptor's
idea of Jeremiah. It is (according to the photographs) a fine piece
of rugged vivacity, and the head is absolutely that of a real man. On
the opposite side of the tower is the magnificent Abraham's sacrifice
from the same strong hand, and by it Habakkuk, who is no less near
life than the Jeremiah and Job, but a very different type. At both
Or San Michele and the Bargello we are to find Donatello perhaps in
a finer mood than here, and comfortably visible.

For most visitors to Florence and all disciples of Ruskin, the chief
interest of the campanile ("The Shepherd's Tower" as he calls it)
is the series of twenty-seven reliefs illustrating the history of
the world and the progress of mankind, which are to be seen round the
base, the design, it is supposed, of Giotto, executed by Andrea Pisano
and Luca della Robbia. To Andrea are given all those on the west (7),
south (7), east (5), and the two eastern ones on the north; to Luca the
remaining five on the north. Ruskin's fascinating analysis of these
reliefs should most certainly be read (without a total forgetfulness
of the shepherd's other activities as a painter, architect, humorist,
and friend of princes and poets), but equally certainly not in the
American pirated edition which the Florentine booksellers are so ready
(to their shame) to sell you. Only Ruskin in his best mood of fury
could begin to do justice to the misspellings and mispunctuations of
this terrible production.

Ruskin, I may say, believes several of the carvings to be from
Giotto's own chisel as well as design, but other and more modern
authorities disagree, although opinion now inclines to the belief
that the designs for Pisano's Baptistery doors are also his. Such
thoroughness and ingenuity were all in Giotto's way, and they certainly
suggest his active mind. The campanile series begins at the west side
with the creation of man. Among the most attractive are, I think,
those devoted to agriculture, with the spirited oxen, to astronomy, to
architecture, to weaving, and to pottery. Giotto was even so thorough
as to give one relief to the conquest of the air; and he makes Noah
most satisfactorily drunk. Note also the Florentine fleur-de-lis
round the base of the tower. Every fleur-de-lis in Florence is
beautiful--even those on advertisements and fire-plugs--but few are
more beautiful than these.

I climbed the campanile one fine morning--417 steps from the
ground--and was well repaid; but I think it is wiser to ascend the
tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, because one is higher there and, since
the bulk of the dome, which intrudes from the campanile, is avoided,
one has a better all-round view. Florence seen from this eminence
is very red--so uniformly so that many towers rise against it almost
indistinguishably, particularly the Bargello's and the Badia's. One
sees at once how few straight streets there are--the Ricasoli standing
out among them as the exception; and one realizes how the city has
developed outside, with its boulevards where the walls once were,
leaving the gates isolated, and its cincture of factories. The
occasional glimpses of cloisters and verdure among the red are very
pleasant. One of the objects cut off by the cathedral dome is the
English cemetery, but the modern Jewish temple stands out as noticeably
almost as any of the ancient buildings. The Pitti looks like nothing
but a barracks and the Porta Ferdinando has prominence which it gets
from no other point. The roof of the Mercato Centrale is the ugliest
thing in the view. While I was there the midday gun from the Boboli
fortress was fired, instantly having its punctual double effect of
sending all the pigeons up in a grey cloud of simulated alarm and
starting every bell in the city.

Those wishing to make either the campanile or Duomo ascents must
remember to do it early. The closing hour for the day being twelve,
no one is allowed to start up after about a quarter past eleven: a
very foolish arrangement, since Florence and the surrounding Apennines
under a slanting sun are more beautiful than in the morning glare,
and the ascent would be less fatiguing. As it was, on descending, after
being so long at the top, I was severely reprimanded by the custodian,
who had previously marked me down as a barbarian for refusing his offer
of field-glasses. But the Palazzo Vecchio tower is open till five.

The Baptistery is the beautiful octagonal building opposite the
cathedral, and once the cathedral itself. It dates from the seventh
or eighth century, but as we see it now is a product chiefly of the
thirteenth. The bronze doors opposite the Via Calzaioli are open every
day, a circumstance which visitors, baffled by the two sets of Ghiberti
doors always so firmly closed, are apt to overlook. All children born
in Florence are still baptized here, and I watched one afternoon an old
priest at the task, a tiny Florentine being brought in to receive the
name of Tosca, which she did with less distaste than most, considering
how thorough was his sprinkling. The Baptistery is rich in colour
both without and within. The floor alone is a marvel of intricate
inlaying, including the signs of the zodiac and a gnomic sentence which
reads the same backwards and forwards--"En gire torte sol ciclos et
roterigne". On this very pavement Dante, who called the church his
"beautiful San Giovanni," has walked. Over the altar is a gigantic
and primitive Christ in mosaic, more splendid than spiritual. The
mosaics in the recesses of the clerestory--grey and white--are the
most soft and lovely of all. I believe the Baptistery is the most
restful place in Florence; and this is rather odd considering that it
is all marble and mosaic patterns. But its shape is very soothing,
and age has given it a quality of its own, and there is just that
touch of barbarism about it such as one gets in Byzantine buildings
to lend it a peculiar character here.

The most notable sculpture in the Baptistery is the tomb of the ex-Pope
John XXIII, whose licentiousness was such that there was nothing for
it but to depose and imprison him. He had, however, much money, and on
his liberation he settled in Florence, presented a true finger of John
the Baptist to the Baptistery, and arranged in return for his bones
to repose in that sanctuary. One of his executors was that Niccolò
da Uzzano, the head of the noble faction in the city, whose coloured
bust by Donatello is in the Bargello. The tomb is exceedingly fine,
the work of Donatello and his partner Michelozzo, who were engaged
to make it by Giovanni de' Medici, the ex-pontiff's friend, and the
father of the great Cosimo. The design is all Donatello's, and his
the recumbent cleric, lying very naturally, hardly as if dead at
all, a little on one side, so that his face is seen nearly full;
the three figures beneath are Michelozzo's; but Donatello probably
carved the seated angels who display the scroll which bears the
dead Pope's name. The Madonna and Child above are by Donatello's
assistant, Pagno di Lapo Portigiani, a pretty relief by whom we saw
in the Museum of the Cathedral. Being in red stone, and very dusty,
like Ghiberti's doors (which want the hose regularly), the lines of
the tomb are much impaired. Donatello is also represented here by a
Mary Magdalene in wood, on an altar at the left of the entrance door,
very powerful and poignant.

In the ordinary way, when visitors to Florence speak of the Baptistery
doors they mean those opposite the Duomo, and when they go to the
Bargello and look at the designs made by Ghiberti and Brunelleschi in
competition, they think that the competition was for those. But that
is wrong. Ghiberti won his spurs with the doors on the north side,
at which comparatively few persons look. The famous doors opposite
the Duomo were commissioned many years later, when his genius was
acknowledged and when he had become so accomplished as to do what
he liked with his medium. Before, however, coming to Ghiberti,
we ought to look at the work of an early predecessor but for whom
there might have been no Ghiberti at all; for while Ghiberti was at
work with his assistants on these north doors, between 1403 and 1424,
the place which they occupy was filled by those executed seventy years
earlier by Andrea Pisano (1270-1348), possibly from Giotto's designs,
which are now at the south entrance, opposite the charming little
loggia at the corner of the Via Calzaioli, called the Bigallo. These
represent twenty scenes in the life of S. John the Baptist, and below
them are eight figures of cardinal and Christian virtues, and they
employed their sculptor from 1330 to 1336. They have three claims to
notice: as being admirably simple and vigorous in themselves; as having
influenced all later workers in this medium, and particularly Ghiberti
and Donatello; and as being the bronze work of the sculptor of certain
of the stone scenes round the base of Giotto's campanile. The panel
in which the Baptist is seen up to his waist in the water is surely
the very last word in audacity in bronze. Ghiberti was charged with
making bronze do things that it was ill fitted for; but I do not know
that even he moulded water--and transparent water--from it.

The year 1399 is one of the most notable in the history of modern art,
since it was then that the competition for the Baptistery gates was
made public, this announcement being the spring from which many rivers
flowed. In that year Lorenzo Ghiberti, a young goldsmith assisting
his father, was twenty-one, and Filippo Brunelleschi, another
goldsmith, was twenty-two, while Giotto had been dead sixty-three
years and the impulse he had given to painting had almost worked
itself out. The new doors were to be of the same shape and size as
those by Andrea Pisano, which were already getting on for seventy
years old, and candidates were invited to make a specimen relief to
scale, representing the interrupted sacrifice of Isaac, although
the subject-matter of the doors was to be the Life of S. John the
Baptist. Among the judges was that Florentine banker whose name
was beginning to be known in the city as a synonym for philanthropy,
enlightenment, and sagacity, Giovanni de' Medici. In 1401 the specimens
were ready, and after much deliberation as to which was the better,
Ghiberti's or Brunelleschi's--assisted, some say, by Brunelleschi's
own advice in favour of his rival--the award was given to Ghiberti,
and he was instructed to proceed with his task; while Brunelleschi,
as we have seen, being a man of determined ambition, left for Rome to
study architecture, having made up his mind to be second to no one
in whichever of the arts and crafts he decided to pursue. Here then
was the first result of the competition--that it turned Brunelleschi
to architecture.

Ghiberti began seriously in 1408 and continued till 1424, when the
doors were finished; but, in order to carry out the work, he required
assistance in casting and so forth, and for that purpose engaged among
others a sculptor named Donatello (born in 1386), a younger sculptor
named Luca della Robbia (born in 1400), and a gigantic young painter
called Masaccio (born in 1401), each of whom was destined, taking
fire no doubt from Ghiberti and his fine free way, to be a powerful
innovator--Donatello (apart from other and rarer achievements) being
the first sculptor since antiquity to place a statue on a pedestal
around which observers could walk; Masaccio being the first painter
to make pictures in the modern use of the term, with men and women
of flesh and blood in them, as distinguished from decorative saints,
and to be by example the instructor of all the greatest masters,
from his pupil Lippo Lippi to Leonardo and Michelangelo; and Luca
della Robbia being the inspired discoverer of an inexpensive means of
glazing terra-cotta so that his beautiful and radiant Madonnas could
be brought within the purchasing means of the poorest congregation in
Italy. These alone are remarkable enough results, but when we recollect
also that Brunelleschi's defeat led to the building of the cathedral
dome, the significance of the event becomes the more extraordinary.

The doors, as I say, were finished in 1424, after twenty-one years'
labour, and the Signoria left the Palazzo Vecchio in procession to see
their installation. In the number and shape of the panels Pisano set
the standard, but Ghiberti's work resembled that of his predecessor
very little in other ways, for he had a mind of domestic sweetness
without austerity and he was interested in making everything as easy
and fluid and beautiful as might be. His thoroughness recalls Giotto
in certain of his frescoes. The impression left by Pisano's doors is
akin to that left by reading the New Testament; but Ghiberti makes
everything happier than that. Two scenes--both on the level of the
eye--I particularly like: the "Annunciation," with its little, lithe,
reluctant Virgin, and the "Adoration". The border of the Pisano doors
is, I think, finer than that of Ghiberti's; but it is a later work.

Looking at them even now, with eyes that remember so much of the
best art that followed them and took inspiration from them, we
can understand the better how delighted Florence must have been
with this new picture gallery and how the doors were besieged by
sightseers. But greater still was to come. Ghiberti at once received
the commission to make two more doors on his own scale for the south
side of the Baptistery, and in 1425 he had begun on them. These were
not finished until 1452, so that Ghiberti, then a man of seventy-four,
had given practically his whole life to the making of four bronze
doors. It is true that he did a few other things besides, such as the
casket of S. Zenobius in the Duomo, and the Baptist and S. Matthew
for Or San Michele; but he may be said justly to live by his doors,
and particularly by the second pair, although it was the first pair
that had the greater effect on his contemporaries and followers.

Among his assistants on these were Antonio Pollaiuolo (born in
1429), who designed the quail in the left border, and Paolo Uccello
(born in 1397), both destined to be men of influence. The bald head
on the right door is a portrait of Ghiberti; that of the old man
on the left is his father, who helped him to polish the original
competition plaque. Although commissioned for the south side they
were placed where they now are, on the east, as being most worthy of
the position of honour, and Pisano's doors, which used to be here,
were moved to the south, where they now are.

On Ghiberti's workshop opposite S. Maria Nuova, in the Via Bufalini,
the memorial tablet mentions Michelangelo's praise--that these doors
were beautiful enough to be the Gates of Paradise. After that what is
an ordinary person to say? That they are lovely is a commonplace. But
they are more. They are so sensitive; bronze, the medium which Horace
has called, by implication, the most durable of all, has become in
Ghiberti's hands almost as soft as wax and tender as flesh. It does
all he asks; it almost moves; every trace of sternness has vanished
from it. Nothing in plastic art that we have ever seen or shall see
is more easy and ingratiating than these almost living pictures.

Before them there is steadily a little knot of admirers, and on
Sundays you may always see country people explaining the panels to each
other. Every one has his favourite among these fascinating Biblical
scenes, and mine are Cain and Abel, with the ploughing, and Abraham
and Isaac, with its row of fir trees. It has been explained by the
purists that the sculptor stretched the bounds of plastic art too
far and made bronze paint pictures; but most persons will agree to
ignore that. Of the charm of Ghiberti's mind the border gives further
evidence, with its fruits and foliage, birds and woodland creatures,
so true to life, and here fixed for all time, so naturally, that if
these animals should ever (as is not unlikely in Italy where every
one has a gun and shoots at his pleasure) become extinct, they could
be created again from these designs.

Ghiberti, who enjoyed great honour in his life and a considerable
salary as joint architect of the dome with Brunelleschi, died three
years after the completion of the second doors and was buried in
S. Croce. His place in Florentine art is unique and glorious.

The broken porphyry pillars by these second doors were a gift from
Pisa to Florence in recognition of Florence's watchfulness over Pisa
while the Pisans were away subduing the Balearic islanders.

The bronze group over Ghiberti's first doors, representing John
the Baptist preaching between a Pharisee and a Levite, are the
work (either alone or assisted by his master Leonardo da Vinci)
of an interesting Florentine sculptor, Giovanni Francesco Rustici
(1474-1554), who was remarkable among the artists of his time in
being what we should call an amateur, having a competence of his own
and the manners of a patron. Placing himself under Verrocchio, he
became closely attached to Leonardo, a fellow-pupil, and made him his
model rather than the older man. He took his art lightly, and lived,
in Vasari's phrase, "free from care," having such beguilements as a
tame menagerie (Leonardo, it will be remembered, loved animals too and
had a habit of buying small caged birds in order to set them free),
and two or three dining clubs, the members of which vied with each
other in devising curious and exotic dishes. Andrea del Sarto, for
example, once brought as his contribution to the feast a model of this
very church we are studying, the Baptistery, of which the floor was
constructed of jelly, the pillars of sausages, and the choir desk of
cold veal, while the choristers were roast thrushes. Rustici further
paved the way to a life free from care by appointing a steward of his
estate whose duty it was to see that his money-box, to which he went
whenever he wanted anything, always had money in it. This box he never
locked, having learned that he need fear no robbery by once leaving
his cloak for two days under a bush and then finding it again. "This
world," he exclaimed, "is too good: it will not last." Among his pets
were a porcupine trained to prick the legs of his guests under the
table "so that they drew them in quickly"; a raven that spoke like a
human being; an eagle, and many snakes. He also studied necromancy,
the better to frighten his apprentices. He left Florence in 1528,
after the Medici expulsion, and, like Leonardo, took service with
Francis the First. He died at the age of eighty.

I had an hour and more exactly opposite the Rustici group, on the same
level, while waiting for the Scoppio del Carro, and I find it easy
to believe that Leonardo himself had a hand in the work. The figure
of the Baptist is superb, the attitude of his listeners masterly.



CHAPTER V

The Riccardi Palace and the Medici

An evasion of history--"Il Caparra"--The Gozzoli frescoes--Giovanni
de' Medici (di Bicci)--Cosimo de' Medici--The first banishment--Piero
de' Medici--Lorenzo de' Medici--Piero di Lorenzo de' Medici--The
second banishment--Giuliano di Lorenzo de' Medici--Leo X--Lorenzo di
Piero di Lorenzo de' Medici--Clement VII--Third banishment of the
Medici--The siege of Florence--Alessandro de' Medici--Ippolito de'
Medici--Lorenzino de' Medici--Giovanni delle Bande Nere--Cosimo I--The
Grand Dukes.

The natural step from the Baptistery would be to the Uffizi. But for
us not yet; because in order to understand Florence, and particularly
the Florence that existed between the extreme dates that I have chosen
as containing the fascinating period--namely 1296, when the Duomo was
begun, and 1564, when Michelangelo died--one must understand who and
what the Medici were.

While I have been enjoying the pleasant task of writing this
book--which has been more agreeable than any literary work I have ever
done--I have continually been conscious of a plaintive voice at my
shoulder, proceeding from one of the vigilant and embarrassing imps
who sit there and do duty as conscience, inquiring if the time is not
about ripe for introducing that historical sketch of Florence without
which no account such as this can be rightly understood. And ever I
have replied with words of a soothing and procrastinating nature. But
now that we are face to face with the Medici family, in their very
house, I am conscious that the occasion for that historical sketch
is here indeed, and equally I am conscious of being quite incapable
of supplying it. For the history of Florence between, say the birth
of Giotto or Dante and the return of Cosimo de' Medici from exile,
when the absolute Medici rule began, is so turbulent, crowded, and
complex that it would require the whole of this volume to describe
it. The changes in the government of the city would alone occupy a
good third, so constant and complicated were they. I should have to
explain the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, the Neri and the Bianchi,
the Guilds and the Priors, the gonfalonieri and the podesta, the
secondo popolo and the buonuomini.

Rather than do this imperfectly I have chosen to do it not at all;
and the curious must resort to historians proper. But there is at
the end of the volume a table of the chief dates in Florentine and
European history in the period chosen, together with births and deaths
of artists and poets and other important persons, so that a bird's-eye
view of the progress of affairs can be quickly gained, while in this
chapter I offer an outline of the great family of rulers of Florence
who made the little city an aesthetic lawgiver to the world and with
whom her later fame, good or ill, is indissolubly united. For the rest,
is there not the library?

The Medici, once so powerful and stimulating, are still ever in the
background of Florence as one wanders hither and thither. They are
behind many of the best pictures and most of the best statues. Their
escutcheon is everywhere. I ought, I believe, to have made them
the subject of my first chapter. But since I did not, let us without
further delay turn to the Via Cavour, which runs away to the north from
the Baptistery, being a continuation of the Via de' Martelli, and pause
at the massive and dignified palace at the first corner on the left.
For that is the Medici's home; and afterwards we will step into
S. Lorenzo and see the church which Brunelleschi and Donatello made
beautiful and Michelangelo wonderful that the Medici might lie there.

Visitors go to the Riccardi palace rather to see Gozzoli's frescoes
than anything else; and indeed apart from the noble solid Renaissance
architecture of Michelozzo there is not much else to see.  In the
courtyard are certain fragments of antique sculpture arranged against
the walls, and a sarcophagus is shown in which an early member of the
family, Guccio de' Medici, who was gonfalonier in 1299, once reposed.
There too are Donatello's eight medallions, but they are not very
interesting, being only enlarged copies of old medals and cameos and
not notable for his own characteristics.

Hence it is that, after Gozzoli, by far the most interesting
part of this building is its associations.  For here lived Cosimo
de' Medici, whose building of the palace was interrupted by his
banishment as a citizen of dangerous ambition; here lived Piero
de' Medici, for whom Gozzoli worked; here was born and here lived
Lorenzo the Magnificent. To this palace came the Pazzi conspirators
to lure Giuliano to the Duomo and his doom.  Here did Charles
VIII--Savonarola's "Flagellum Dei"--lodge and loot, and it was here
that Capponi frightened him with the threat of the Florentine bells;
hither came in 1494 the fickle and terrible Florentine mob, always
passionate in its pursuit of change and excitement, and now inflamed
by the sermons of Savonarola, to destroy the priceless manuscripts
and works of art; here was brought up for a year or so the little
Catherine de' Medici, and next door was the house in which Alessandro
de' Medici was murdered.

It was in the seventeenth century that the palace passed to the
Riccardi family, who made many additions. A century later Florence
acquired it, and to-day it is the seat of the Prefect of the
city. Cosimo's original building was smaller; but much of it remains
untouched. The exquisite cornice is Michelozzo's original, and the
courtyard has merely lost its statues, among which are Donatello's
Judith, now in the Loggia de' Lanzi, and his bronze David, now in the
Bargello, while Verrocchio's David was probably on the stairs. The
escutcheon on the corner of the house gives us the period of its
erection. The seven plain balls proclaim it Cosimo's. Each of
the Medici sported these palle, although each had also his private
crest. Under Giovanni, Cosimo's father, the balls were eight in number;
under Cosimo, seven; under Piero, seven, with the fleur-de-lis of
France on the uppermost, given him by Louis XI; under Lorenzo, six;
and as one walks about Florence one can approximately fix the date of
a building by remembering these changes. How many times they occur on
the façades of Florence and its vicinity, probably no one could say;
but they are everywhere. The French wits, who were amused to derive
Catherine de' Medici from a family of apothecaries, called them pills.

The beautiful lantern at the corner was added by Lorenzo and was
the work of an odd ironsmith in Florence for whom he had a great
liking--Niccolò Grosso. For Lorenzo had all that delight in character
which belongs so often to the born patron and usually to the born
connoisseur. This Grosso was a man of humorous independence and
bluntness. He had the admirable custom of carrying out his commissions
in the order in which they arrived, so that if he was at work upon a
set of fire-irons for a poor client, not even Lorenzo himself (who as
a matter of fact often tried) could induce him to turn to something
more lucrative. The rich who cannot wait he forced to wait. Grosso
also always insisted upon something in advance and payment on
delivery, and pleasantly described his workshop as being the Sign
of the Burning Books,--since if his books were burnt how could he
enter a debt? This rule earned for him from Lorenzo the nickname of
"Il Caparra" (earnest money). Another of Grosso's eccentricities was
to refuse to work for Jews.

Within the palace, up stairs, is the little chapel which Gozzoli made
so gay and fascinating that it is probably the very gem among the
private chapels of the world. Here not only did the Medici perform
their devotions--Lorenzo's corner seat is still shown, and anyone
may sit in it--but their splendour and taste are reflected on the
walls. Cosimo, as we shall see when we reach S. Marco, invited Fra
Angelico to paint upon the walls of that convent sweet and simple
frescoes to the glory of God. Piero employed Fra Angelico's pupil,
Benozzo Gozzoli to decorate this chapel.

In the year 1439, as chapter II related, through the instrumentality
of Cosimo a great episcopal Council was held at Florence, at which
John Palaeologus, Emperor of the East, met Pope Eugenius IV. In that
year Cosimo's son Piero was twenty-three, and Gozzoli nineteen,
and probably upon both, but certainly on the young artist, such
pomp and splendour and gorgeousness of costume as then were visible
in Florence made a deep impression. When therefore Piero, after
becoming head of the family, decided to decorate the chapel with
a procession of Magi, it is not surprising that the painter should
recall this historic occasion. We thus get the pageantry of the East
with more than common realism, while the portraits, or at any rate
representations, of the Patriarch of Constantinople (the first king)
and the Emperor (the second king) are here, together with those of
certain Medici, for the youthful third king is none other than Piero's
eldest son Lorenzo. Among their followers are (the third on the left)
Cosimo de' Medici, who is included as among the living, although,
like the Patriarch of Constantinople, he was dead, and his brother
Lorenzo (the middle one of the three), whose existence is forgotten
so completely until the accession of Cosimo I, in 1537, brings his
branch of the family into power; while on the right is Piero de'
Medici himself. Piero's second son Giuliano is on the white horse,
preceded by a negro carrying his bow. The head immediately above
Giuliano I do not know, but that one a little to the left above it
is Gozzoli's own. Among the throng are men of learning who either
came to Florence from the East or Florentines who assimilated their
philosophy--such as Georgius Gemisthos, Marsilio Ficino, and perhaps
certain painters among them, all protégés of Cosimo and Piero, and
all makers of the Renaissance.

The assemblage alone, apart altogether from any beauty and charm
that the painting possesses, makes these frescoes valuable. But the
painting is a delight. We have a pretty Gozzoli in our National
Gallery--No. 283--but it gives no indication of the ripeness and
richness and incident of this work; while the famous Biblical
series in the Campo Santo of Pisa has so largely perished as to be
scarcely evidence to his colour. The first impression made by the
Medici frescoes is their sumptuousness. When Gozzoli painted--if the
story be true--he had only candle light: the window over the altar
is new. But think of candle light being all the illumination of these
walls as the painter worked! A new door and window have also been cut
in the wall opposite the altar close to the three daughters of Piero,
by vandal hands; and "Bruta, bruta!" says the guardian, very rightly.

The landscape behind the procession is hardly less interesting than the
procession itself; but it is when we come to the meadows of paradise,
with the angels and roses, the cypresses and birds, in the two chancel
scenes, that this side of Gozzoli's art is most fascinating. He has
travelled a long way from his master Fra Angelico here: the heaven
is of the visible rather than the invisible eye; sense is present
as well as the rapturous spirit. The little Medici who endured the
tedium of the services here are to be felicitated with upon such an
adorable presentment of glory. With plenty of altar candles the sight
of these gardens of the blest must have beguiled many a mass. Thinking
here in England upon the Medici chapel, I find that the impression
it has left upon me is chiefly cypresses--cypresses black and comely,
disposed by a master hand, with a glint of gold among them.

The picture that was over the altar has gone. It was a Lippo Lippi
and is now in Berlin.

The first of the Medici family to rise to the highest power was
Giovanni d'Averardo de' Medici (known as Giovanni di Bicci), 1360-1429,
who, a wealthy banker living in what is now the Piazza del Duomo,
was well known for his philanthropy and interest in the welfare of
the Florentines, but does not come much into public notice until
1401, when he was appointed one of the judges in the Baptistery door
competition. He was a retiring, watchful man. Whether he was personally
ambitious is not too evident, but he was opposed to tyranny and was the
steady foe of the Albizzi faction, who at that time were endeavouring
to obtain supreme power in Florentine affairs. In 1419 Giovanni
increased his popularity by founding the Spedale degli Innocenti,
and in 1421 he was elected gonfalonier, or, as we might now say,
President of the Republic. In this capacity he made his position
secure and reduced the nobles (chief of whom was Niccolò da Uzzano)
to political weakness. Giovanni died in 1429, leaving one son, Cosimo,
aged forty, a second, Lorenzo, aged thirtyfour, a fragrant memory
and an immense fortune.

To Lorenzo, who remained a private citizen, we shall return in time;
it is Cosimo (1389-1464) with whom we are now concerned. Cosimo de'
Medici was a man of great mental and practical ability: he had been
educated as well as possible; he had a passion both for art and
letters; he inherited his father's financial ability and generosity,
while he added to these gifts a certain genius for the management
of men. One of the first things that Cosimo did after his father's
death was to begin the palace where we now are, rejecting a plan by
Brunelleschi as too splendid, and choosing instead one by Michelozzo,
the partner of Donatello, two artists who remained his personal
friends through life. Cosimo selected this site, in what was then
the Via Larga but is now the Via Cavour, partly because his father
had once lived there, and partly because it was close to S. Lorenzo,
which his father, with six other families, had begun to rebuild,
a work he intended himself to carry on.

The palace was begun in 1430 abd was still in progress in 1433 when
the Albizzi, who had always viewed the rise of the Medici family
with apprehension and misgiving, and were now strengthened by the
death of Niccolò da Uzzano, who, though powerful, had been a very
cautious and temperate adviser, succeeded in getting a majority
in the Signoria and passing a sentence of banishment on the whole
Medici tribe as being too rich and ambitious to be good citizens of
a simple and frugal Republic. Cosimo therefore, after some days of
imprisonment in the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, during which he
expected execution at any moment, left Florence for Venice, taking
his architect with him. In 1434, however, the Florentines, realizing
that under the Albizzi they were losing their independence, and what
was to be a democracy was become an oligarchy, revolted, and Cosimo
was recalled, and, like his father, was elected gonfalonier. With this
recall began his long supremacy; for he returned like a king and like
a king remained, quickly establishing himself as the leading man in
the city, the power behind the Signoria. Not only did he never lose
that position, but he made it so naturally his own that when he died
he was able to transmit it to his son.

Cosimo de' Medici was, I think, the wisest and best ruler that Florence
ever had and ranks high among the rulers that any state ever had. But
he changed the Florentines from an independent people to a dependent
one. In his capacity of Father of his Country he saw to it that his
children lost their proud spirit. He had to be absolute; and this
end he achieved in many ways, but chiefly by his wealth, which made
it possible to break the rich rebel and to enslave the poor. His
greatest asset--next his wealth--was his knowledge of the Florentine
character. To know anything of this capricious, fickle, turbulent
folk even after the event was in itself a task of such magnitude that
almost no one else had compassed it; but Cosimo did more, he knew what
they were likely to do. By this knowledge, together with his riches,
his craft, his tact, his business ramifications as an international
banker, his open-handedness and air of personal simplicity, Cosimo
made himself a power.             For Florence could he not
do enough. By inviting the Pope and the Greek Emperor to meet there
he gave it great political importance, and incidentally brought
about the New Learning. He established the Platonic Academy and
formed the first public library in the west. He rebuilt and endowed
the monastery of S. Marco. He built and rebuilt other churches. He
gave Donatello a free hand in sculpture and Fra Lippo Lippi and Fra
Angelico in painting. He distributed altogether in charity and churches
four hundred thousand of those golden coins which were invented by
Florence and named florins after her--a sum equal to a million pounds
of to-day. In every direction one comes upon traces of his generosity
and thoroughness. After his death it was decided that as Pater Patriae,
or Father of his Country, he should be for ever known.

Cosimo died in 1464, leaving an invalid son, Piero, aged forty-eight,
known for his almost continuous gout as Il Gottoso. Giovanni and Cosimo
had had to work for their power; Piero stepped naturally into it,
although almost immediately he had to deal with a plot--the first for
thirty years--to ruin the Medici prestige, the leader of which was that
Luca Pitti who began the Pitti palace in order to have a better house
than the Medici. The plot failed, not a little owing to young Lorenzo
de' Medici's address, and the remaining few years of Piero's life were
tranquil. He was a quiet, kindly man with the traditional family love
of the arts, and it was for him that Gozzoli worked. He died in 1469,
leaving two sons, Lorenzo (1449-1492) and Giuliano (1453-1478).

Lorenzo had been brought up as the future leading citizen of Florence:
he had every advantage of education and environment, and was rich in
the aristocratic spirit which often blossoms most richly in the second
or third generation of wealthy business families.  Giovanni had been
a banker before everything, Cosimo an administrator, Piero a faithful
inheritor of his father's wishes; it was left for Lorenzo to be the
first poet and natural prince of the Medici blood. Lorenzo continued
to bank but mismanaged the work and lost heavily; while his poetical
tendencies no doubt distracted his attention generally from affairs.
Yet such was his sympathetic understanding and his native splendour and
gift of leadership that he could not but be at the head of everything,
the first to be consulted and ingratiated.  Not only was he the first
Medici poet but the first of the family to marry not for love but
for policy, and that too was a sign of decadence.

Lorenzo came into power when only twenty, and at the age of forty-two
he was dead, but in the interval, by his interest in every kind of
intellectual and artistic activity, by his passion for the greatness
and glory of Florence, he made for himself a name that must always
connote liberality, splendour, and enlightenment.  But it is beyond
question that under Lorenzo the Florentines changed deeply and for
the worse.  The old thrift and simplicity gave way to extravagance and
ostentation; the old faith gave way too, but that was not wholly the
effect of Lorenzo's natural inclination towards Platonic philosophy,
fostered by his tutor Marsilio Ficino and his friends Poliziano and
Pico della Mirandola, but was due in no small measure also to the
hostility of Pope Sixtus, which culminated in the Pazzi Conspiracy of
1478 and the murder of Giuliano. Looking at the history of Florence
from our present vantage-point we can see that although under
Lorenzo the Magnificent she was the centre of the world's culture
and distinction, there was behind this dazzling front no seriousness
of purpose.  She was in short enjoying the fruits of her labours as
though the time of rest had come; and this when strenuousness was more
than ever important. Lorenzo carried on every good work of his father
and grandfather (he spent £65,000 a year in books alone) and was as
jealous of Florentine interests; but he was also "The Magnificent,"
and in that lay the peril. Florence could do with wealth and power,
but magnificence went to her head.

Lorenzo died in 1492, leaving three sons, of whom the eldest, Piero
(1471-1503), succeeded him. Never was such a decadence. In a moment
the Medici prestige, which had been steadily growing under Cosimo,
Piero, and Lorenzo until it was world famous, crumbled to dust. Piero
was a coarse-minded, pleasure-loving youth--"The Headstrong" his
father had called him--whose one idea of power was to be sensual and
tyrannical; and the enemies of Florence and of Italy took advantage
of this fact. Savonarola's sermons had paved the way from within
too. In 1494 Charles VIII of France marched into Italy; Piero pulled
himself together and visited the king to make terms for Florence,
but made such terms that on returning to the city he found an order
of banishment and obeyed it. On November 9th, 1494, he and his family
were expelled, and the mob, forgetting so quickly all that they owed
to the Medici who had gone before, rushed to this beautiful palace and
looted it. The losses that art and learning sustained in a few hours
can never be estimated. A certain number of treasures were subsequently
collected again, such as Donatello's David and Verrocchio's David,
while Donatello's Judith was removed to the Palazzo Vecchio, where
an inscription was placed upon it saying that her short way with
Holofernes was a warning to all traitors; but priceless pictures,
sculpture, and MSS. were ruthlessly demolished.

In the chapter on S. Marco we shall read of what experiments in
government the Florentines substituted for that of the Medici,
Savonarola for a while being at the head of the government, although
only for a brief period which ended amid an orgy of lawlessness; and
then, after a restless period of eighteen years, in which Florence
had every claw cut and was weakened also by dissension, the Medici
returned--the change being the work of Lorenzo's second son, Giovanni
de' Medici, who on the eve of becoming Pope Leo X procured their
reinstatement, thus justifying the wisdom of his father in placing
him in the Church. Piero having been drowned long since, his admirable
but ill-starred brother Giuliano, Duke of Nemours, now thirty-three,
assumed the control, always under Leo X; while their cousin, Giulio,
also a Churchman, and the natural son of the murdered Giuliano,
was busy, behind the scenes, with the family fortunes.

Giuliano lived only till 1516 and was succeeded by his nephew
Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino, a son of Peiro, a young man of no more
political use than his father, and one who quickly became almost
equally unpopular. Things indeed were going so badly that Leo X sent
Giulio de' Medici (now a cardinal) from Rome to straighten them out,
and by some sensible repeals he succeeded in allaying a little of
the bitterness in the city. Lorenzo had one daughter, born in this
palace, who was destined to make history--Catherine de' Medici--and
no son. When therefore he died in 1519, at the age of twenty-seven,
after a life of vicious selfishness (which, however, was no bar
to his having the noblest tomb in the world, at S. Lorenzo), the
succession should have passed to the other branch of the Medici
family, the descendants of old Giovanni's second son Lorenzo,
brother of Cosimo. But Giulio, at Rome, always at the ear of the
indolent, pleasure-loving Leo X, had other projects. Born in 1478,
the illegitimate son of a charming father, Giulio had none of the
great Medici traditions, and the Medici name never stood so low as
during his period of power. Himself illegitimate, he was the father
of an illegitimate son, Alessandro, for whose advancement he toiled
much as Alexander VI had toiled for that of Caesar Borgia. He had not
the black, bold wickedness of Alexander VI, but as Pope Clement VII,
which he became in 1523, he was little less admirable. He was cunning,
ambitious, and tyrannical, and during his pontificate he contrived not
only to make many powerful enemies and to see both Rome and Florence
under siege, but to lose England for the Church.

We move, however, too fast. The year is 1519 and Lorenzo is dead,
and the rightful heir to the Medici wealth and power was to be
kept out. To do this Giulio himself moved to Florence and settled
in the Medici palace, and on his return to Rome Cardinal Passerini
was installed in the Medici palace in his stead, nominally as the
custodian of little Catherine de' Medici and Ippolito, a boy of ten,
the illegitimate son of Giuliano, Duke of Nemours. That Florence
should have put up with this Roman control shows us how enfeebled
was her once proud spirit. In 1521 Leo X died, to be succeeded, in
spite of all Giulio's efforts, by Adrian of Utrecht, as Adrian VI,
a good, sincere man who, had he lived, might have enormously changed
the course not only of Italian but of English history. He survived,
however, for less than two years, and then came Giulio's chance,
and he was elected Pope Clement VII.

Clement's first duty was to make Florence secure, and he therefore
sent his son Alessandro, then about thirteen, to join the others
at the Medici palace, which thus now contained a resident cardinal,
watchful of Medici interests; a legitimate daughter of Lorenzo, Duke
of Urbino (but owing to quarrels she was removed to a convent); an
illegitimate son of Giuliano, Duke of Nemours, the nominal heir and
already a member of the Government; and the Pope's illegitimate son,
of whose origin, however, nothing was said, although it was implied
that Lorenzo, Duke of Nemours, was his father.

This was the state of affairs during Clement's war with the Emperor
Charles V, [2] which ended with the siege of Rome and the imprisonment
of the Pope in the Castle of S. Angelo for some months until he
contrived to escape to Orvieto; and meanwhile Florence, realizing his
powerlessness, uttered a decree again banishing the Medici family, and
in 1527 they were sent forth from the city for the third time. But even
now, when the move was so safe, Florence lacked courage to carry it
out until a member of the Medici family, furious at the presence of the
base-born Medici in the palace, and a professed hater of her base-born
uncle Clement VII and all his ways--Clarice Strozzi, née Clarice de'
Medici, granddaughter of Lorenzo the Magnificent--came herself to this
house and drove the usurpers from it with her extremely capable tongue.

To explain clearly the position of the Florentine Republic at this
time would be too deeply to delve into history, but it may briefly be
said that by means of humiliating surrenders and much crafty diplomacy,
Clement VII was able to bring about in 1529 peace between the Emperor
Charles V and Francis I of France, by which Charles was left master
of Italy, while his partner and ally in these transactions, Clement,
expected for his own share certain benefits in which the humiliation
of Florence and the exaltation of Alessandro came first. Florence,
having taken sides with Francis, found herself in any case very badly
left, with the result that at the end of 1529 Charles V's army, with
the papal forces to assist, laid siege to her. The siege lasted for
ten months, in which the city was most ably defended by Ferrucci,
that gallant soldier whose portrait by Piero di Cosimo is in our
National Gallery--No. 895--and then came a decisive battle in which
the Emperor and Pope were conquerors, a thousand brave Florentines
were put to death and others were imprisoned.

Alessandro de' Medici arrived at the Medici palace in 1531, and
in 1532 the glorious Florentine Republic of so many years' growth,
for the establishment of which so much good blood had been spilt, was
declared to be at an end. Alessandro being proclaimed Duke, his first
act was to order the demolition of the great bell of the Signoria which
had so often called the citizens to arms or meetings of independence.

Meanwhile Ippolito, the natural son of Giuliano, Duke of Nemours, and
therefore the rightful heir, after having been sent on various missions
by Clement VII, to keep him out of the way, settled at Bologna and took
to poetry. He was a kindly, melancholy man with a deep sense of human
injustice; and in 1535, when, after Clement VII's very welcome demise,
the Florentine exiles who either had been banished from Florence by
Alessandro or had left of their own volition rather than live in the
city under such a contemptible ruler, sent an embassy to the Emperor
Charles V to help them against this new tyrant, Ippolito headed it;
but Alessandro prudently arranged for his assassination en route.

It is unlikely, however, that the Emperor would have done anything,
for in the following year he allowed his daughter Margaret to become
Alessandro's wife. That was in 1536. In January, 1537, Lorenzino de'
Medici, a cousin, one of the younger branch of the family, assuming
the mantle of Brutus, or liberator, stabbed Alessandro to death while
he was keeping an assignation in the house that then adjoined this
palace. Thus died, at the age of twenty-six, one of the most worthless
of men, and, although illegitimate, the last of the direct line of
Cosimo de' Medici, the Father of his Country, to govern Florence.

The next ruler came from the younger branch, to which we now turn. Old
Giovanni di Bicci had two sons, Cosimo and Lorenzo. Lorenzo's son, Pier
Francesco de' Medici, had a son Giovanni de' Medici. This Giovanni,
who married Caterina Sforza of Milan, had also a son named Giovanni,
born in 1498, and it was he who was the rightful heir when Lorenzo,
Duke of Urbino, died in 1519. He was connected with both sides of
the family, for his father, as I have said, was the great grandson
of the first Medici on our list, and his wife was Maria Salviati,
daughter of Lucrezia de' Medici--herself a daughter of Lorenzo the
Magnificent--and Jacopo Salviati, a wealthy Florentine. When, however,
Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino, died in 1519, Giovanni was a young man of
twenty-one with an absorbing passion for fighting, which Clement VII
(then Giulio) was only too keen to foster, since he wished him out of
the way in order that his own projects for the ultimate advancement
of the base-born Alessandro, and meanwhile of the catspaw, the
base-born Ippolito, might be furthered. Giovanni had already done
some good service in the field, was becoming famous as the head of
his company of Black Bands, and was known as Giovanni delle Bande
Nere; and his marriage to his cousin Maria Salviati and the birth
of his only son Cosimo in 1519 made no difference to his delight
in warfare. He was happy only when in the field of battle, and the
struggle between Francis and Charles gave him ample opportunities,
fighting on the side of Charles and the Pope and doing many brave and
dashing things. He died at an early age, only twenty-eight, in 1526,
the idol of his men, leaving a widow and child in poverty.

Almost immediately afterwards came the third banishment of the Medici
family from Florence.  Giovanni's widow and their son Cosimo got
along as best they could until the murder of Alessandro in 1537,
when Cosimo was nearly eighteen. He was a quiet, reserved youth,
who had apparently taken but little interest in public affairs, and
had spent his time in the country with his mother, chiefly in field
sports. But no sooner was Alessandro dead, and his slayer Lorenzino
had escaped, than Cosimo approached the Florentine council and claimed
to be appointed to his rightful place as head of the State, and this
claim he put, or suggested, with so much humility that his wish was
granted. Instantly one of the most remarkable transitions in history
occurred: the youth grew up almost in a day and at once began to exert
unsuspected reserves of power and authority. In despair a number of
the chief Florentines made an effort to depose him, and a battle was
fought at Montemurlo, a few miles from Florence, between Cosimo's
troops, fortified by some French allies, and the insurgents. That
was in 1537; the victory fell to Cosimo; and his long and remarkable
reign began with the imprisonment and execution of the chief rebels.

Although Cosimo made so bloody a beginning he was the first imaginative
and thoughtful administrator that Florence had had since Lorenzo the
Magnificent. He set himself grimly to build upon the ruins which the
past forty and more years had produced; and by the end of his reign he
had worked wonders. As first he lived in the Medici palace, but after
marrying a wealthy wife, Eleanora of Toledo, he transferred his home
to the Signoria, now called the Palazzo Vecchio, as a safer spot, and
established a bodyguard of Swiss lancers in Orcagna's loggia, close
by. [3] Later he bought the unfinished Pitti palace with his wife's
money, finished it, and moved there. Meanwhile he was strengthening
his position in every way by alliances and treaties, and also by the
convenient murder of Lorenzino, the Brutus who had rid Florence of
Alessandro ten years earlier, and whose presence in the flesh could
not but be a cause of anxiety since Lorenzino derived from an elder
son of the Medici, and Cosimo from a younger. In 1555 the ancient
republic of Siena fell to Cosimo's troops after a cruel and barbarous
siege and was thereafter merged in Tuscany, and in 1570 Cosimo assumed
the title of Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and was crowned at Rome.

Whether or not the common accusation against the Medici as a
family, that they had but one motive--mercenary ambition and
self-aggrandisement--is true, the fact remains that the crown did
not reach their brows until one hundred and seventy years from the
first appearance of old Giovanni di Bicci in Florentine affairs. The
statue of Cosimo I in the Piazza della Signoria has a bas-relief of
his coronation. He was then fifty-one; he lived but four more years,
and when he died he left a dukedom flourishing in every way: rich,
powerful, busy, and enlightened. He had developed and encouraged
the arts, capriciously, as Cellini's "Autobiography" tells us, but
genuinely too, as we can see at the Uffizi and the Pitti. The arts,
however, were not what they had been, for the great period had passed
and Florence was in the trough of the wave. Yet Cosimo found the best
men he could--Cellini, Bronzino, and Vasari--and kept them busy. But
his greatest achievement as a connoisseur was his interest in Etruscan
remains and the excavations at Arezzo and elsewhere which yielded
the priceless relics now at the Archaeological Museum.

With Cosimo I this swift review of the Medici family ends. The
rest have little interest for the visitor to Florence to-day,
for whom Cellini's Perseus, made to Cosimo I's order, is the last
great artistic achievement in the city in point of time. But I may
say that Cosimo I's direct descendants occupied the throne (as it
had now become) until the death of Gian Gastone, son of Cosimo III,
who died in 1737. Tuscany passed to Austria until 1801. In 1807 it
became French, and in 1814 Austrian again. In 1860 it was merged in
the Kingdom of Italy under the rule of the monarch who has given his
name to the great new Piazza--Vittorio Emmanuele.

After Gian Gastone's death one other Medici remained alive: Anna
Maria Ludovica, daughter of Cosimo III. Born in 1667, she married
the Elector Palatine of the Rhine, and survived until 1743. It was
she who left to the city the priceless Medici collections, as I have
stated in chapter VIII. The earlier and greatest of the Medici are
buried in the church of S. Lorenzo or in Michelangelo's sacristy; the
later Medici, beginning with Giovanni delle Bande Nere and his wife,
and their son Cosimo I, are in the gorgeous mausoleum that adjoins
S. Lorenzo and is still being enriched with precious marbles.

Such is an outline of the history of this wonderful family, and we
leave their ancient home, built by the greatest and wisest of them,
with mixed feelings of admiration and pity. They were seldom lovable;
they were often despicable; but where they were great they were
very great indeed. A Latin inscription in the courtyard reminds the
traveller of the distinction which the house possesses, calling it
the home not only of princes but of knowledge herself and a treasury
of the arts.  But Florence, although it bought the palace from the
Riccardi family a century and more ago, has never cared to give it
back its rightful name.



CHAPTER VI

S. Lorenzo and Michelangelo

A forlorn façade--The church of the Medici--Cosimo's
parents' tomb--Donatello's cantoria and pulpits--Brunelleschi's
sacristy--Donatello again--The palace of the dead Grand Dukes--Costly
intarsia--Michelangelo's sacristy--A weary Titan's life--The victim
of capricious pontiffs--The Medici tombs--Mementi mori--The Casa
Buonarroti--Brunelleschi's cloisters--A model library.

Architecturally S. Lorenzo does not attract as S. Croce and S. Maria
Novella do; but certain treasures of sculpture make it unique. Yet it
is a cool scene of noble grey arches, and the ceiling is very happily
picked out with gold and colour. Savonarola preached some of his most
important sermons here; here Lorenzo the Magnificent was married.

The façade has never yet been finished: it is just ragged brickwork
waiting for its marble, and likely to wait, although such expenditure
on marble is going on within a few yards of it as makes one gasp. Not
very far away, in the Via Ghibellina, is a house which contains some
rough plans by a master hand for this façade, drawn some four hundred
years ago--the hand of none other than Michelangelo, whose scheme
was to make it not only a wonder of architecture but a wonder also
of statuary, the façade having many niches, each to be filled with
a sacred figure. But Michelangelo always dreamed on a scale utterly
disproportionate to the foolish little span of life allotted to us
and the S. Lorenzo façade was never even begun.

The piazza which these untidy bricks overlook is now given up to stalls
and is the centre of the cheap clothing district. Looking diagonally
across it from the church one sees the great walls of the courtyard
of what is now the Riccardi palace, but was in the great days the
Medici palace; and at the corner, facing the Borgo S. Lorenzo, is
Giovanni delle Bande Nere, in stone, by the impossible Bandinelli,
looking at least twenty years older than he ever lived to be.

S. Lorenzo was a very old church in the time of Giovanni de' Medici,
the first great man of the family, and had already been restored
once, in the eleventh century, but it was his favourite church,
chosen by him for his own resting-place, and he spent great sums
in improving it. All this with the assistance of Brunelleschi, who
is responsible for the interior as we now see it, and would, had he
lived, have completed the façade. After Giovanni came Cosimo, who also
devoted great sums to the glory of this church, not only assisting
Brunelleschi with his work but inducing Donatello to lavish his genius
upon it; and the church was thus established as the family vault of
the Medici race. Giovanni lies here; Cosimo lies here; and Piero;
while Lorenzo the Magnificent and Giuliano and certain descendants
were buried in the Michelangelo sacristy, and all the Grand Dukes in
the ostentatious chapel behind the altar.

Cosimo is buried beneath the floor in front of the high altar,
in obedience to his wish, and by the special permission of the
Roman Church; and in the same vault lies Donatello. Cosimo, who
was buried with all simplicity on August 22nd, 1464, in his last
illness recommended Donatello, who was then seventy-eight, to his son
Piero. The old sculptor survived his illustrious patron and friend
only two and a half years, declining gently into the grave, and his
body was brought here in December, 1466. A monument to his memory
was erected in the church in 1896. Piero (the Gouty), who survived
until 1469, lies close by, his bronze monument, with that of his
brother, being that between the sacristy and the adjoining chapel,
in an imposing porphyry and bronze casket, the work of Verrocchio, one
of the richest and most impressive of all the memorial sculptures of
the Renaissance. The marble pediment is supported by four tortoises,
such as support the monoliths in the Piazza S. Maria Novella. The
iron rope work that divides the sacristy from the chapel is a marvel
of workmanship.

But we go too fast: the church before the sacristy, and the glories of
the church are Donatello's. We have seen his cantoria in the Museum of
the Cathedral. Here is another, not so riotous and jocund in spirit,
but in its own way hardly less satisfying. The Museum cantoria has
the wonderful frieze of dancing figures; this is an exercise in
marble intarsia. It has the same row of pillars with little specks
of mosaic gold; but its beauty is that of delicate proportions and
soft tones. The cantoria is in the left aisle, in its original place;
the two bronze pulpits are in the nave. These have a double interest
as being not only Donatello's work but his latest work. They were
incomplete at his death, and were finished by his pupil Bertoldo
(1410-1491), and since, as we shall see, Bertoldo became the master of
Michelangelo, when he was a lad of fifteen and Bertoldo an old man of
eighty, these pulpits may be said to form a link between the two great
S. Lorenzo sculptors. How fine and free and spirited Bertoldo could
be, alone, we shall see at the Bargello. The S. Lorenzo pulpits are
very difficult to study: nothing wants a stronger light than a bronze
relief, and in Florence students of bronze reliefs are accustomed
to it, since the most famous of all--the Ghiberti doors--are in the
open air. Only in course of time can one discern the scenes here. The
left pulpit is the finer, for it contains the "Crucifixion" and the
"Deposition," which to me form the most striking of the panels.

The other piece of sculpture in the church itself is a ciborium
by Desiderio da Settignano, in the chapel at the end of the
right transept--an exquisite work by this rare and playful and
distinguished hand. It is fitting that Desiderio should be here, for
he was Donatello's favourite pupil. The S. Lorenzo ciborium is wholly
charming, although there is a "Deposition" upon it; the little Boy is
adorable; but one sees it with the greatest difficulty owing to the
crowded state of the altar and the dim light. The altar picture in
the Martelli chapel, where the sympathetic Donatello monument (in the
same medium as his "Annunciation" at S. Croce) is found--on the way to
the Library--is by Lippo Lippi, and is notable for the pretty Virgin
receiving the angel's news. There is nice colour in the predella.

As I have said in the first chapter, we are too prone to ignore the
architect. We look at the jewels and forget the casket. Brunelleschi is
a far greater maker of Florence than either Donatello or Michelangelo;
but one thinks of him rather as an abstraction than a man or forgets
him altogether. Yet the S. Lorenzo sacristy is one of the few perfect
things in the world. What most people, however, remember is its tombs,
its doors, and its reliefs; the proportions escape them. I think its
shallow easy dome beyond description beautiful. Brunelleschi, who had
an investigating genius, himself painted the quaint constellations in
the ceiling over the altar. At the Pazzi chapel we shall find similar
architecture; but there extraneous colour was allowed to come in. Here
such reliefs as were admitted are white too.

The tomb under the great marble and porphyry table in the centre is
that of Giovanni di Bicci, the father, and Piccarda, the mother, of
Cosimo Pater, and is usually attributed to Buggiano, the adopted son
of Brunelleschi, but other authorities give it either to Donatello
alone or to Donatello with Michelozzo: both from the evidence of
the design and because it is unlikely that Cosimo would ask any one
else than one of these two friends of his to carry out a commission
so near his heart. The table is part of the scheme and not a chance
covering. I think the porphyry centre ought to be movable, so that
the beautiful flying figures on the sarcophagus could be seen. But
Donatello's most striking achievement here is the bronze doors, which
are at once so simple and so strong and so surprising by the activity
of the virile and spirited holy men, all converting each other, thereon
depicted. These doors could not well be more different from Ghiberti's,
in the casting of which Donatello assisted; those in such high relief,
these so low; those so fluid and placid, and these so vigorous.

Donatello presides over this room (under Brunelleschi). The vivacious,
speaking terra-cotta bust of the young S. Lorenzo on the altar is
his; the altar railing is probably his; the frieze of terra-cotta
cherubs may be his; the four low reliefs in the spandrels, which it
is so difficult to discern but which photographs prove to be wonderful
scenes in the life of S. John the Evangelist--so like, as one peers up
at them, plastic Piranesis, with their fine masonry--are his. The other
reliefs are Donatello's too; but the lavabo in the inner sacristy is
Verrocchio's, and Verrocchio's tomb of Piero can never be overlooked
even amid such a wealth of the greater master's work.

From this fascinating room--fascinating both in itself and in its
possessions--we pass, after distributing the necessary largesse to
the sacristan, to a turnstile which admits, on payment of a lira,
to the Chapel of the Princes and to Michelangelo's sacristy. Here is
contrast, indeed: the sacristy, austere and classic, and the chapel
a very exhibition building of floridity and coloured ornateness,
dating from the seventeenth century and not finished yet. In paying
the necessary fee to see these buildings one thinks again what the
feelings of Giovanni and Cosimo and Lorenzo the Magnificent, and
even of Cosimo I, all such generous patrons of Florence, would be,
if they could see the present feverish collection of lire in their
beautiful city.

Of the Chapel of the Princes I have little to say. To pass from
Michelangelo's sacristy to this is an error; see it, if see it you
must, first. While the façade of S. Lorenzo is still neglected and the
cornice of Brunelleschi's dome is still unfinished, this lapidary's
show-room is being completed at a cost of millions of lire. Ever since
1888 has the floor been in progress, and there are many years' work
yet. An enthusiastic custodian gave me a list of the stones which were
used in the designs of the coats of arms of Tuscan cities, of which
that of Fiesole is the most attractive:--Sicily jasper, French jasper,
Tuscany jasper, petrified wood, white and yellow, Corsican granite,
Corsican jasper, Oriental alabaster, French marble, lapis lazuli,
verde antico, African marble, Siena marble, Carrara marble, rose agate,
mother of pearl, and coral. The names of the Medici are in porphyry
and ivory. It is all very marvellous and occasionally beautiful; but...

This pretentious building was designed by a natural son of Cosimo
I in 1604, and was begun as the state mausoleum of the Grand Dukes;
and all lie here. All the Grand Duchesses too, save Bianca Capella,
wife of Francis I, who was buried none knows where. It is strange to
realize as one stands here that this pavement covers all those ladies,
buried in their wonderful clothes. We shall see Eleanor of Toledo,
wife of Cosimo I, in Bronzino's famous picture at the Uffizi, in an
amazing brocaded dress: it is that dress in which she reposes beneath
us! They had their jewels too, and each Grand Duke his crown and
sceptre; but these, with one or two exceptions, were stolen during
the French occupation of Tuscany, 1801-1814. Only two of the Grand
Dukes have their statues--Ferdinand I and Cosimo II--and the Medici
no longer exist in the Florentine memory; and yet the quiet brick
floor is having all this money squandered on it to superimpose costly
marbles which cannot matter to anybody.

Michelangelo's chapel, called the New Sacristy, was begun for Leo X
and finished for Giulio de' Medici, illegitimate son of the murdered
Giuliano and afterwards Pope Clement VII. Brunelleschi's design
for the Old Sacristy was followed but made more severe. This, one
would feel to be the very home of dead princes even if there were no
statues. The only colours are the white of the walls and the brown
of the pillars and windows; the dome was to have been painted, but
it fortunately escaped.

The contrast between Michelangelo's dome and Brunelleschi's is
complete--Brunelleschi's so suave and gentle in its rise, with its
grey lines to help the eye, and this soaring so boldly to its lantern,
with its rigid device of dwindling squares. The odd thing is that
with these two domes to teach him better the designer of the Chapel
of the Princes should have indulged in such floridity.

Such is the force of the architecture in the sacristy that one is
profoundly conscious of being in melancholy's most perfect home;
and the building is so much a part of Michelangelo's life and it
contains such marvels from his hand that I choose it as a place
to tell his story. Michelangelo Buonarroti was born on March 6th,
1475, at Caprese, of which town his father was Podestà. At that time
Brunelleschi had been dead twenty-nine years, Fra Angelico twenty
years, Donatello nine years, Leonardo da Vinci was twenty-three years
old, and Raphael was not yet born. Lorenzo the Magnificent had been
on what was virtually the throne of Florence since 1469 and was a
young man of twenty-six. For foster-mother the child had the wife
of a stone-mason at Settignano, whither the family soon moved, and
Michelangelo used to say that it was with her milk that he imbibed
the stone-cutting art. It was from the air too, for Settignano's
principal industry was sculpture. The village being only three miles
from Florence, from it the boy could see the city very much as we see
it now--its Duomo, its campanile, with the same attendant spires. He
was sent to Florence to school and intended for either the wool or silk
trade, as so many Florentines were; but displaying artistic ability,
he induced his father to apprentice him, at the age of thirteen, to
a famous goldsmith and painter of Florence who had a busy atelier--no
other than Domenico Ghirlandaio, who was then a man of thirty-nine.

Michelangelo remained with him for three years, and although his
power and imagination were already greater than his master's, he
learned much, and would never have made his Sixtine Chapel frescoes
with the ease he did but for this early grounding. For Ghirlandaio,
although not of the first rank of painters in genius, was pre-eminently
there in thoroughness, while he was good for the boy too in spirit,
having a large way with him. The first work of Ghirlandaio which
the boy saw in the making was the beautiful "Adoration of the Magi,"
in the Church of the Spedale degli Innocenti, completed in 1488, and
the S. Maria Novella frescoes, and it is reasonable to suppose that
he helped with the frescoes in colour grinding, even if he did not,
as some have said, paint with his own hand the beggar sitting on the
steps in the scene representing the "Presentation of the Virgin". That
he was already clever with his pencil, we know, for he had made some
caricatures and corrected a drawing or two.

The three years with Ghirlandaio were reduced eventually to one, the
boy having the good fortune to be chosen as one of enough promise to be
worth instruction, both by precept and example, in the famous Medici
garden. Here he was more at home than in a painting room, for plastic
art was his passion, and not only had Lorenzo the Magnificent gathered
together there many of those masterpieces of ancient sculpture which we
shall see at the Uffizi, but Bertoldo, the aged head of this informal
school, was the possessor of a private collection of Donatellos and
other Renaissance work of extraordinary beauty and worth. Donatello's
influence on the boy held long enough for him to make the low relief
of the Madonna, much in his style, which is now preserved in the
Casa Buonarroti, while the plaque of the battle of the Centaurs and
Lapithae which is also there shows Bertoldo's influence.

The boy's first encounter with Lorenzo occurred while he was modelling
the head of an aged faun. His magnificent patron stopped to watch him,
pointing out that so old a creature would probably not have such a
fine set of teeth, and Michelangelo, taking the hint, in a moment had
not only knocked out a tooth or two but--and here his observation
told--hollowed the gums and cheeks a little in sympathy. Lorenzo
was so pleased with his quickness and skill that he received him
into his house as the companion of his three sons: of Piero, who
was so soon and so disastrously to succeed his father, but was now a
high-spirited youth; of Giovanni, who, as Pope Leo X many years after,
was to give Michelangelo the commission for this very sacristy; and
of Giuliano, who lies beneath one of the tombs. As their companion
he enjoyed the advantage of sharing their lessons under Poliziano,
the poet, and of hearing the conversation of Pico della Mirandola,
who was usually with Lorenzo; and to these early fastidious and
intellectual surroundings the artist owed much.

That he read much, we know, the Bible and Dante being constant
companions; and we know also that in addition to modelling and copying
under Bertoldo, he was assiduous in studying Masaccio's frescoes at
the church of the Carmine across the river, which had become a school
of painting. It was there that his fellow-pupil, Pietro Torrigiano,
who was always his enemy and a bully, broke his nose with one blow
and flew to Rome from the rage of Lorenzo.

It was when Michelangelo was seventeen that Lorenzo died, at the early
age of forty-two, and although the garden still existed and the Medici
palace was still open to the youth, the spirit had passed. Piero, who
succeeded his father, had none of his ability or sagacity, and in two
years was a refugee from the city, while the treasures of the garden
were disposed by auction, and Michelangelo, too conspicuous as a Medici
protégé to be safe, hurried away to Bologna. He was now nineteen.

Of his travels I say nothing here, for we must keep to Florence,
whither he thought it safe to return in 1495. The city was now governed
by the Great Council and the Medici banished. Michelangelo remained
only a brief time and then went to Rome, where he made his first Pietà,
at which he was working during the trial and execution of Savonarola,
whom he admired and reverenced, and where he remained until 1501,
when, aged twenty-six, he returned to Florence to do some of his most
famous work. The Medici were still in exile.

It was in August, 1501, that the authorities of the cathedral asked
Michelangelo to do what he could with a great block of marble on
their hands, from which he carved that statue of David of which I
tell the story in chapter XVI. This established his pre-eminence as
a sculptor. Other commissions for statues poured in, and in 1504 he
was invited to design a cartoon for the Palazzo Vecchio, to accompany
one by Leonardo, and a studio was given him in the Via Guelfa for
the purpose. This cartoon, when finished, so far established him
also as the greatest of painters that the Masaccios in the Carmine
were deserted by young artists in order that this might be studied
instead. The cartoon, as I relate in the chapter on the Palazzo
Vecchio, no longer exists.

The next year, 1505, Michelangelo, nearing his thirtieth birthday,
returned to Rome and entered upon the second and tragic period of his
life, for he arrived there only to receive the order for the Julius
tomb which poisoned his remaining years, and of which more is said
in the chapter on the Accademia, where we see so many vestiges of it
both in marble and plaster. But I might remark here that this vain
and capricious pontiff, whose pride and indecision robbed the world
of no one can ever say what glorious work from Michelangelo's hand,
is the benevolent-looking old man whose portrait by Raphael is in
the Pitti and Uffizi in colour, in the Corsini Palace in charcoal,
and again in our own National Gallery in colour.

Of Michelangelo at Rome and Carrara, whither he went to superintend
in person the quarrying of the marble that was to be transferred to
life and where he had endless vexations and mortifications, I say
nothing. Enough that the election of his boy friend Giovanni de'
Medici as Pope Leo X in 1513 brought him again to Florence, the Pope
having a strong wish that Michelangelo should complete the façade of
the Medici family church, S. Lorenzo, where we now are. As we know,
the scheme was not carried out, but in 1520 the Pope substituted
another and more attractive one: namely, a chapel to contain the
tombs not only of his father the Magnificent, and his uncle, who had
been murdered in the Duomo many years before, but also his nephew
Piero de' Medici, Duke of Urbino, who had just died, in 1519, and
his younger brother (and Michelangelo's early playmate) Giuliano de'
Medici, Duke of Nemours, who had died in 1516. These were not Medici
of the highest class, but family pride was strong. It is, however,
odd that no memorial of Piero di Lorenzo de' Medici, who had been
drowned at the age of twenty-two in 1503, was required; perhaps it
may have been that since it was Piero's folly that had brought the
Medici into such disgrace in 1494, the less thought of him the better.

Michelangelo took fire at once, and again hastened to Carrara to
arrange for marble to be sent to his studio in the Via Mozzi, now the
Via S. Zenobi; while the building stone was brought from Fiesole. Leo
X lived only to know that the great man had begun, the new patron
being Giulio de' Medici, natural son of the murdered Giuliano,
now a cardinal, and soon, in 1523, to become Pope Clement VII. This
Pope showed deep interest in the project, but wished not only to add
tombs of himself and Pope Leo X, but also to build a library for the
Laurentian collection, which Michelangelo must design. A little later
he had decided that he would prefer to lie in the choir of the church,
and Leo X with him, and instead therefore of tombs Michelangelo might
merely make a colossal statue of him to stand in the piazza before the
church. The sculptor's temper had not been improved by his many years'
experience of papal caprice, and he replied to this suggestion with
a letter unique even in the annals of infuriated artists. Let the
statue be made, of course, he said, but let it be useful as well as
ornamental: the lower portion to be also a barber's shop, and the
head, since it would be empty, a greengrocer's. The Pope allowed
himself to be rebuked, and abandoned the statue, writing a mild and
even pathetic reply.

Until 1527 Michelangelo worked away at the building and the tombs,
always secretly, behind impenetrable barriers; and then came the
troubles which led to the siege of Florence, following upon the
banishment of Alessandro, Duke of Urbino, natural son of the very
Lorenzo whom the sculptor was to dignify for all time. By the Emperor
Charles V and Pope Clement VII the city was attacked, and Michelangelo
was called away from Clement's sacristy to fortify Florence against
Clement's soldiers. Part of his ramparts at S. Miniato still remain,
and he strengthened all the gates; but, feeling himself slighted and
hating the whole affair, he suddenly disappeared. One story is that he
hid in the church tower of S. Niccolò, below what is now the Piazzale
dedicated to his memory. Wherever he was, he was proclaimed an outlaw,
and then, on Florence finding that she could not do without him,
was pardoned, and so returned, the city meanwhile having surrendered
and the Medici again being restored to power.

The Pope showed either fine magnanimity or compounded with facts
in the interest of the sacristy; for he encouraged Michelangelo to
proceed, and the pacific work was taken up once more after the martial
interregnum, and in a desultory way he was busy at it, always secretly
and moodily, until 1533, when he tired completely and never touched
it again. A year later Clement VII died, having seen only drawings
of the tombs, if those.

But though left unfinished, the sacristy is wholly satisfying--more
indeed than satisfying, conquering. Whatever help Michelangelo may
have had from his assistants, it is known that the symbolical figures
on the tombs and the two seated Medici are from his hand. Of the two
finished or practically finished tombs--to my mind as finished as they
should be--that of Lorenzo is the finer. The presentment of Lorenzo in
armour brooding and planning is more splendid than that of Giuliano;
while the old man, whose head anticipates everything that is considered
most original in Rodin's work, is among the best of Michelangelo's
statuary. Much speculation has been indulged in as to the meaning
of the symbolism of these tombs, and having no theory of my own to
offer, I am glad to borrow Mr. Gerald S. Davies' summary from his
monograph on Michelangelo. The figure of Giuliano typifies energy
and leadership in repose; while the man on his tomb typifies Day and
the woman Night, or the man Action and the woman the sleep and rest
that produce Action. The figure of Lorenzo typifies Contemplation,
the woman Dawn, and the man Twilight, the states which lie between
light and darkness, action and rest. What Michelangelo--who owed
nothing to any Medici save only Lorenzo the Magnificent and had seen
the best years of his life frittered away in the service of them and
other proud princes--may also have intended we shall never know; but
he was a saturnine man with a long memory, and he might easily have
made the tombs a vehicle for criticism. One would not have another
touch of the chisel on either of the symbolical male figures.

Although a tomb to Lorenzo the Magnificent by Michelangelo would
surely have been a wonderful thing, there is something startling and
arresting in the circumstance that he has none at all from any hand,
but lies here unrecorded. His grandfather, in the church itself,
rests beneath a plain slab, which aimed so consciously at modesty
as thereby to achieve special distinction: Lorenzo, leaving no such
directions, has nothing, while in the same room are monuments to
two common-place descendants to thrill the soul. The disparity is in
itself monumental. That Michelangelo's Madonna and Child are on the
slab which covers the dust of Lorenzo and his brother is a chance. The
saints on either side are S. Cosimo and S. Damian, the patron saints
of old Cosimo de' Medici, and are by Michelangelo's assistants. The
Madonna was intended for the altar of the sacristy. Into this work the
sculptor put much of his melancholy and, one feels, disappointment. The
face of the Madonna is already sad and hopeless; but the Child is
perhaps the most splendid and determined of any in all Renaissance
sculpture. He may, if we like, symbolize the new generation that is
always deriving sustenance from the old, without care or thought of
what the old has to suffer; he crushes his head against his mother's
breast in a very passion of vigorous dependence. [4]

Whatever was originally intended, it is certain that in Michelangelo's
sacristy disillusionment reigns as well as death. But how beautiful
it is!

In a little room leading from the sacristy I was shown by a smiling
custodian Lorenzo the Magnificent's coffin, crumbling away, and
photographs of the skulls of the two brothers: Giuliano's with one
of Francesco de' Pazzi's dagger wounds in it, and Lorenzo's, ghastly
in its decay. I gave the man half a lira.

While he was working on the tombs Michelangelo had undertaken now and
then a small commission, and to this period belongs the David which we
shall see in the little room on the ground floor of the Bargello. In
1534, when he finally abandoned the sacristy, and, leaving Florence for
ever, settled in Rome, the Laurentian library was only begun, and he
had little interest in it. He never saw it again. At Rome his time was
fully occupied in painting the "Last Judgment" in the Sixtine Chapel,
and in various architectural works. But Florence at any rate has two
marble masterpieces that belong to the later period--the Brutus in
the Bargello and the Pietà in the Duomo, which we have seen--that
poignantly impressive rendering of the entombment upon which the old
man was at work when he died, and which he meant for his own grave.

His death came in 1564, on February 23rd, when he was nearly
eighty-nine, and his body was brought to Florence and buried amid
universal grief in S. Croce, where it has a florid monument.

Since we are considering the life of Michelangelo, I might perhaps
say here a few words about his house, which is only a few minutes'
distant--at No. 64 Via Ghibellina--where certain early works and
personal relics are preserved. Michelangelo gave the house to his
nephew Leonardo; it was decorated early in the seventeenth century with
scenes in the life of the master, and finally bequeathed to the city
as a heritage in 1858. It is perhaps the best example of the rapacity
of the Florentines; for notwithstanding that it was left freely in
this way a lira is charged for admission. The house contains more
collateral curiosities, as they might be called, than those in the
direct line; but there are architectural drawings from the wonderful
hand, colour drawings of a Madonna, a few studies, and two early pieces
of sculpture--the battle of the Lapithae and Centaurs, a relief marked
by tremendous vigour and full of movement, and a Madonna and Child,
also in relief, with many marks of greatness upon it. In a recess
in Room IV are some personal relics of the artist, which his great
nephew, the poet, who was named after him, began to collect early in
the seventeenth century. As a whole the house is disappointing.

Upstairs have been arranged a quantity of prints and drawings
illustrating the history of Florence.

The S. Lorenzo cloisters may be entered either from a side door in
the church close to the Old Sacristy or from the piazza. Although an
official in uniform keeps the piazza door, they are free. Brunelleschi
is again the architect, and from the loggia at the entrance to the
library you see most acceptably the whole of his cathedral dome and
half of Giotto's tower. It is impossible for Florentine cloisters--or
indeed any cloisters--not to have a certain beauty, and these are
unusually charming and light, seen both from the loggia and the ground.

Michelangelo's Biblioteca Laurenziana, which leads from them,
is one of the most perfect of sombre buildings, the very home of
well-ordered scholarship. The staircase is impressive, although perhaps
a little too severe; the long room could not be more satisfying to
the eye. Michelangelo died before it was finished, but it is his in
design, even to the ceiling and cases for MSS. in which the library
is so rich, and the rich red wood ceiling. Vasari, Michelangelo's
pupil and friend and the biographer to whom we are so much indebted,
carried on the work. His scheme of windows has been upset on the
side opposite the cloisters by the recent addition of a rotunda
leading from the main room. If ever rectangular windows were more
exquisitely and nobly proportioned I should like to see them. The
library is free for students, and the attendants are very good in
calling stray visitors' attention to illuminated missals, old MSS.,
early books and so forth. One of Galileo's fingers, stolen from his
body, used to be kept here, in a glass case, and may be here still;
but I did not see it. I saw, however, the portraits, in an old volume,
of Petrarch and his Laura.

This wonderful collection was begun by Cosimo de' Medici; others
added to it until it became one of the most valuable in the world,
not, however, without various vicissitudes incident to any Florentine
institution: while one of its most cherished treasures, the Virgil
of the fourth or fifth century, was even carried to Paris by Napoleon
and not returned until the great year of restoration, 1816. Among the
holograph MSS. is Cellini's "Autobiography". The library, in time,
after being confiscated by the Republic and sold to the monks of
S. Marco, again passed into the possession of a Medici, Leo X, son
of Lorenzo the Magnificent, and then of Clement VII, and he it was
who commissioned Michelangelo to house it with dignity.

An old daily custom in the cloisters of S. Lorenzo was the feeding of
cats; but it has long since been dropped. If you look at Mr. Hewlett's
"Earthwork out of Tuscany" you will find an entertaining description
of what it used to be like.



CHAPTER VII

Or San Michele and the Palazzo Vecchio

The little Bigallo--The Misericordia--Or San Michele--Andrea
Orcagna--The Tabernacle--Old Glass--A company of stone
saints--Donatello's S. George--Dante conferences--The Guilds of
Florence--The Palazzo Vecchio--Two Towers--Bandinelli's group--The
Marzocco--The Piazza della Signoria--Orcagna's Loggia--Cellini
and Cosimo--The Perseus--Verrocchio's dolphin--The Great Council
Hall--Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo's cartoons--Bandinelli's
malice--The Palazzo Vecchio as a home--Two cells and the bell of
independence.

Let us now proceed along the Via Calzaioli (which means street of
the stocking-makers), running away from the Piazza del Duomo to
the Piazza della Signoria. The fascinatingly pretty building at
the corner, opposite Pisano's Baptistery doors, is the Bigallo,
in the loggia of which foundling children used to be displayed in
the hope that passers-by might pity them sufficiently to make them
presents or even adopt them; but this custom continues no longer. The
Bigallo was designed, it is thought, by Orcagna, and it is worth the
minutest study.

The Company of the Bigallo, which is no longer an active force, was
one of the benevolent societies of old Florence. But the greatest
of these societies, still busy and merciful, is the Misericordia,
whose head-quarters are just across the Via Calzaioli, in the piazza,
facing the campanile, a company of Florentines pledged at a moment's
notice, no matter on what they may be engaged, to assist in any
charitable work of necessity. For the most part they carry ambulances
to the scenes of accident and perform the last offices for the dead
in the poorer districts. When on duty they wear black robes and
hoods. Their headquarters comprise a chapel, with an altar by Andrea
della Robbia, and a statue of the patron saint of the Misericordia,
S. Sebastian. But their real patron saint is their founder, a common
porter named Pietro Borsi. In the thirteenth century it was the custom
for the porters and loafers connected with the old market to meet
in a shelter here and pass the time away as best they could. Borsi,
joining them, was distressed to find how unprofitable were the hours,
and he suggested the formation of a society to be of some real use,
the money to support it to be obtained by fines in payment for oaths
and blasphemies. A litter or two were soon bought and the machinery
started. The name was the Company of the Brothers of Mercy. That was
in 1240 to 1250. To-day no Florentine is too grand to take his part,
and at the head of the porter's band of brethren is the King.

Passing along the Via Calzaioli we come on the right to a noble square
building with statues in its niches--Or San Michele, which stands on
the site of the chapel of San Michele in Orto. San Michele in Orto,
or more probably in Horreo (meaning either in the garden or in the
granary), was once part of a loggia used as a corn market, in which
was preserved a picture by Ugolino da Siena representing the Virgin,
and this picture had the power of working miracles. Early in the
fourteenth century the loggia was burned down but the picture was
saved (or quickly replaced), and a new building on a much larger and
more splendid scale was made for it, none other than Or San Michele,
the chief architect being Taddeo Gaddi, Giotto's pupil and later
the constructor of the Ponte Vecchio. Where the picture then was, I
cannot say--whether inside the building or out--but the principal use
of the building was to serve as a granary. After 1348, when Florence
was visited by that ravaging plague which Boccaccio describes in
such gruesome detail at the beginning of the "Decameron" and which
sent his gay company of ladies and gentlemen to the Villa Palmieri
to take refuge in story telling, and when this sacred picture was
more than commonly busy and efficacious, it was decided to apply
the enormous sums of money given to the shrine from gratitude in
beautifying the church still more, and chiefly in providing a casket
worthy of holding such a pictorial treasure. Hence came about the
noble edifice of to-day.

A man of universal genius was called in to execute the tabernacle:
Andrea Orcagna, a pupil probably of Andrea Pisano, and also much
influenced by Giotto, whom though he had not known he idolized,
and one who, like Michelangelo later, was not only a painter and
sculptor but an architect and a poet. Orcagna, or, to give him his
right name, Andrea di Cione, for Orcagna was an abbreviation of
Arcagnolo, flourished in the middle of the fourteenth century. Among
his best-known works in painting are the Dantesque frescoes in the
Strozzi chapel at S. Maria Novella, and that terrible allegory of
Death and Judgment in the Campo Santo at Pisa, in which the gay riding
party come upon the three open graves. Orcagna put all his strength
into the tabernacle of Or San Michele, which is a most sumptuous,
beautiful and thoughtful shrine, yet owing to the darkness of the
church is almost invisible. Guides, it is true, will emerge from the
gloom and hold lighted tapers to it, but a right conception of it is
impossible. The famous miraculous picture over the altar is notable
rather for its properties than for its intrinsic beauty; it is the
panels of the altar, which contain Orcagna's most exquisite work,
representing scenes in the life of the Virgin, with emblematical
figures interspersed, that one wishes to see. Only the back, however,
can be seen really well, and this only when a door opposite to it--in
the Via Calzaioli--is opened. It should always be open, with a grille
across it, that passers-by might have constant sight of this almost
unknown Florentine treasure. It is in the relief of the death of the
Virgin on the back that--on the extreme right--Orcagna introduced
his own portrait. The marble employed is of a delicate softness, and
Orcagna had enough of Giotto's tradition to make the Virgin a reality
and to interest Her, for example, as a mother in the washing of Her
Baby, as few painters have done, and in particular, as, according
to Ruskin, poor Ghirlandaio could not do in his fresco of the birth
of the Virgin Herself. It was Orcagna's habit to sign his sculpture
"Andrea di Cione, painter," and his paintings "Andrea di Cione,
sculptor," and thus point his versatility. By this tabernacle, by
his Pisan fresco, and by the designs of the Loggia de' Lanzi and the
Bigallo (which are usually given to him), he takes his place among
the most interesting and various of the forerunners of the Renaissance.

Within Or San Michele you learn the secret of the stoned-up windows
which one sees with regret from without. Each, or nearly each, has
an altar against it. What the old glass was like one can divine from
the lovely and sombre top lights in exquisite patterns that are left;
that on the centre of the right wall of the church, as one enters,
having jewels of green glass as lovely as any I ever saw. But blues,
purples, and reds predominate.

The tabernacle apart, the main appeal of Or San Michele is the statuary
and stone-work of the exterior; for here we find the early masters
at their best. The building being the head-quarters of the twelve
Florentine guilds, the statues and decorations were commissioned by
them. It is as though our City companies should unite in beautifying
the Guildhall. Donatello is the greatest artist here, and it was
for the Armourers that he made his S. George, which stands now, as
he carved it in marble, in the Bargello, but has a bronze substitute
in its original niche, below which is a relief of the slaying of the
dragon from Donatello's chisel. Of this glorious S. George more will
be said later. But I may remark now that in its place here it instantly
proves the modernity and realistic vigour of its sculptor. Fine though
they be, all the other statues of this building are conventional;
they carry on a tradition of religious sculpture such as Niccolò
Pisano respected, many years earlier, when he worked at the Pisan
pulpit. But Donatello's S. George is new and is as beautiful as a
Greek god, with something of real human life added.

Donatello (with Michelozzo) also made the exquisite border of the
niche in the Via Calzaioli façade, in which Christ and S. Thomas now
stand. He was also to have made the figures (for the Merchants' Guild)
but was busy elsewhere, and they fell to Verrocchio, of whom also we
shall have much to see and say at the Bargello, and to my mind they
are the most beautiful of all. The John the Baptist (made for the
Cloth-dealers), also on this façade, is by Ghiberti of the Baptistery
gates. On the façade of the Via de' Lamberti is Donatello's superb
S. Mark (for the Joiners), which led to Michelangelo's criticism that
he had never seen a man who looked more virtuous, and if S. Mark
were really like that he would believe all his words. "Why don't
you speak to me?" he also said to this statue, as Donatello had
said to the Zuccone. Higher on this façade is Luca della Robbia's
famous arms of the Silk-weavers, one of the perfect things. Luca
also made the arms of the Guild of Merchants, with its Florentine
fleur-de-lis in the midst. For the rest, Ghiberti's S. Stephen,
and Ghiberti and Michelozzo's S. Matthew, on the entrance wall,
are the most remarkable. The blacksmith relief is very lively and
the blacksmith's saint a noble figure.

The little square reliefs let into the wall at intervals
are often charming, and the stone-work of the windows is very
lovely. In fact, the four walls of this fortress church are almost
inexhaustible. Within, its vaulted roof is so noble, its proportions
so satisfying. One should often sit quietly here, in the gloom,
and do nothing.

The little building just across the way was the Guild House of the
Arte della Lana, or Wool-combers, and is now the head-quarters of
the Italian Dante Society, who hold a conference every Thursday
in the large room over Or San Michele, gained by the flying
buttress-bridge. The dark picture on the outer wall is the very
Madonna to which, when its position was at the Mercato Vecchio,
condemned criminals used to pray on their way to execution.

Before we leave Or San Michele and the Arte della Lana, a word on
the guilds of Florence is necessary, for at a period in Florentine
history between, say, the middle of the thirteenth century and the
beginning of the fifteenth, they were the very powerful controllers
of the domestic affairs of the city; and it is possible that it would
have been better for the Florentines had they continued to be so. For
Florence was essentially mercantile and the guilds were composed of
business men; and it is natural that business men should know better
than noblemen what a business city needed. They were divided into
major guilds, chief of which were the woollen merchants--the Arte
della Lana--and the silk merchants--the Calimala--and it was their
pride to put their riches at the city's service. Thus, the Arte della
Lana had charge of the building of the cathedral. Each of the major
guilds provided a Prior, and the Priors elected the Signoria, who
governed the city. It is one of the principal charges that is brought
against Cosimo de' Medici that he broke the power of the guilds.

Returning to the Via Calzaioli, and turning to the right, we come
very quickly to the Piazza della Signoria, and see before us,
diagonally across it, the Loggia de' Lanzi and the Palazzo Vecchio,
with the gleaming, gigantic figure of Michelangelo's David against
the dark gateway. This, more than the Piazza del Duomo, is the centre
of Florence.

The Palazzo Vecchio was for centuries called the Signoria, being the
home of the Gonfalonier of Florence and the Signoria who assisted
his councils. It was begun by Arnolfo, the architect of the Duomo and
S. Croce, at the end of the thirteenth century, that being, as we have
seen, a period of great prosperity and ambition in Florence, but many
alterations and additions were made--by Michelozzo, Cronaca, Vasari,
and others--to bring it to what it now is. After being the scene
of many riots, executions, and much political strife and dubiety,
it became a ducal palace in 1532, and is now a civic building and
show-place. In the old days the Palazzo had a ringhiera, or platform,
in front of it, from which proclamations were made. To know what
this was like one has but to go to S. Trinità on a very fine morning
and look at Ghirlandaio's fresco of the granting of the charter to
S. Francis. The scene, painted in 1485, includes not only the Signoria
but the Loggia de' Lanzi (then the Loggia dell' Orcagna)--both before
any statues were set up.

Every façade of the Palazzo Vecchio is splendid. I cannot say which
I admire more--that which one sees from the Loggia de' Lanzi, with
its beautiful coping of corbels, at once so heavy and so light, with
coloured escutcheons between them, or that in the Via de' Gondi, with
its fine jumble of old brickwork among the stones. The Palazzo Vecchio
is one of the most resolute and independent buildings in the world;
and it had need to be strong, for the waves of Florentine revolt were
always breaking against it. The tower rising from this square fortress
has at once grace and strength and presents a complete contrast to
Giotto's campanile; for Giotto's campanile is so light and delicate and
reasonable and this tower of the Signoria so stern and noble. There
is a difference as between a beautiful woman and a powerful man. In
the functions of the two towers--the dominating towers of Florence--is
a wide difference also, for the campanile calls to prayer, while for
years the sombre notes of the great Signoria bell--the Vacca--rang out
only to bid the citizens to conclave or battle or to sound an alarm.

It was this Vacca wich (with others) the brave Piero Capponi
threatened to ring when Charles VIII wished, in 1494, to force a
disgraceful treaty on the city. The scene was the Medici Palace in
the Via Larga. The paper was ready for signature and Capponi would
not sign. "Then I must bid my trumpets blow," said Charles. "If you
sound your trumpets," Capponi replied, "we will ring our bells;"
and the King gave way, for he knew that his men had no chance in this
city if it rose suddenly against them.

But the glory of the Palazzo Vecchio tower--afer its proportions--is
that brilliant inspiration of the architect which led him, so to
speak, to begin again by setting the four columns on the top of the
solid portion.  These pillars are indescribably right: so solid
and yet so light, so powerful and yet so comely.  Their duty was
to support the bells, and particularly the Vacca, when he rocked
his gigantic weight of green bronze to and fro to warn the city.
Seen from a distance the columns are always beautiful; seen close
by they are each a tower of comfortable strength.  And how the wind
blows through them from the Apennines!

The David on the left of the Palazzo Vecchio main door is only a copy.
The original stood there until 1873, when, after three hundred and
sixty-nine years, it was moved to a covered spot in the Accademia,
as we shall there see and learn its history.  If we want to know what
the Palazzo Vecchio looked like at the time David was placed there,
a picture by Piero di Cosimo in our National Gallery tells us, for
he makes it the background of his portrait of Ferrucci, No. 895.

The group on the right represents Hercules and Cacus, [5] and
is by Baccio Bandinelli (1485-1560), a coarse and offensive man,
jealous of most people and particularly of Michelangelo, to whom,
but for his displeasing Pope Clement VII, the block of marble from
which the Hercules was carved would have been given.  Bandinelli in
his delight at obtaining it vowed to surpass that master's David,
and those who want to know what Florence thought of his effort should
consult the amusing and malicious pages of Cellini's Autobiography.
On its way to Bandinelli's studio the block fell into the Arrio, and
it was a joke of the time that it had drowned itself to avoid its fate
at the sculptor's hands. Even after he had half done it, there was a
moment when Michelangelo had an opportunity of taking over the stone
and turning it into a Samson, but the siege of Florence intervened,
and eventually Bandinelli had his way and the hideous thing now on
view was evolved.

The lion at the left end of the façade is also a copy, the original
by Donatello being in the Bargello, close by; but the pedestal is
Donatello's original. This lion is the Marzocco, the legendary guardian
of the Florentine republic, and it stood here for four centuries and
more, superseding one which was kissed as a sign of submission by
thousands of Pisan prisoners in 1364. The Florentine fleur-de-lis on
the pediment is very beautiful. The same lion may be seen in iron on
his staff at the top of the Palazzo Vecchio tower, and again on the
Bargello, bravely flourishing his lily against the sky.

The great fountain with its bronze figures at this corner is by
Bartolommeo Ammanati, a pupil of Bandinelli, and the statue of Cosimo
I is by Gian Bologna, who was the best of the post-Michelangelo
sculptors and did much good work in Florence, as we shall see at the
Bargello and in the Boboli Gardens. He studied under Michelangelo
in Rome. Though born a Fleming and called a Florentine, his great
fountain at Bologna, which is really a fine thing, has identified his
fame with that city. Had not Ammanati's design better pleased Cosimo
I, the Bologna fountain would be here, for it was designed for this
piazza. Gian's best-known work is the Flying Mercury in the Bargello,
which we have seen, on mantelpieces and in shop windows, everywhere;
but what is considered his masterpiece is over there, in the Loggia de'
Lanzi, the very beautiful building on the right of the Palazzo, the
"Rape of the Sabines," a group which, to me, gives no pleasure. The
bronze reliefs under the Cosimo statue--this Cosimo being, of course,
far other than Cosimo de' Medici, Father of his Country: Cosimo
I of Tuscany, who insisted upon a crown and reigned from 1537 to
1575--represents his assumption of rule on the death of Alessandro in
1537; his triumphant entry into Siena when he conquered it and absorbed
it; and his reception of the rank of Grand Duke. Of Cosimo (whom we
met in Chapter V) more will be said when we enter the Palazzo Vecchio.

Between this statue and the Loggia de' Lanzi is a bronze tablet let
into the paving which tells us that it was on this very spot, in 1498,
that Savonarola and two of his companions were put to death. The
ancient palace on the Duomo side of the piazza is attributed in
design to Raphael, who, like most of the great artists of his time,
was also an architect and was the designer of the Palazzo Pandolfini
in the Via San Gallo, No. 74. The Palazzo we are now admiring for
its blend of massiveness and beauty is the Uguccione, and anybody
who wishes may probably have a whole floor of it to-day for a few
shillings a week. The building which completes the piazza on the
right of us, with coats of arms on its façade, is now given to the
Board of Agriculture and has been recently restored. It was once
a Court of Justice. The great building at the opposite side of the
piazza, where the trams start, is a good example of modern Florentine
architecture based on the old: the Palazzo Landi, built in 1871 and
now chiefly an insurance office. In London we have a more attractive
though smaller derivative of the great days of Florentine building,
in Standen's wool shop in Jermyn Street.

The Piazza della Signoria has such riches that one is in danger of
neglecting some. The Palazzo Vecchio, for example, so overpowers
the Loggia de' Lanzi in size as to draw the eye from that perfect
structure. One should not allow this to happen; one should let
the Palazzo Vecchio's solid nobility wait awhile and concentrate
on the beauty of Orcagna's three arches. Coming so freshly from his
tabernacle in Or San Michele we are again reminded of the versatility
of the early artists.

This structure, originally called the Loggia de' Priori or Loggia
d'Orcagna, was built in the fourteenth century as an open place for
the delivery of proclamations and for other ceremonies, and also as
a shelter from the rain, the last being a purpose it still serves. It
was here that Savonarola's ordeal by fire would have had place had it
not been frustrated. Vasari also gives Orcagna the four symbolical
figures in the recesses in the spandrels of the arches. The Loggia,
which took its new name from the Swiss lancers, or lanzi, that Cosimo
I kept there--he being a fearful ruler and never comfortable without a
bodyguard--is now a recognized place of siesta; and hither many people
carry their poste-restante correspondence from the neighbouring post
office in the Uffizi to read in comfort. A barometer and thermometer
are almost the only novelties that a visitor from the sixteenth
century would notice.

The statuary is both old and new; for here are genuine antiques once
in Ferdinand I's Villa Medici at Rome, and such modern masterpieces
as Donatello's Judith and Holofernes, Cellini's Perseus, and Gian
Bologna's two muscular and restless groups. The best of the antiques
is the Woman Mourning, the fourth from the end on the left, which is
a superb creation.

Donatello's Judith, which  gives me less pleasure than any of his work,
both in the statue and in the relief, was commissioned for Cosimo
de' Medici, who placed it in the courtyard or garden of the Medici
palace--Judith, like David, by her brave action against a tyrant,
being a champion of the Florentine republic. In 1495, after Cosimo's
worthless grandson Piero de' Medici had been expelled from Florence
and the Medici palace sacked, the statue was moved to the front of the
Palazzo Vecchio, where the David now is, and an inscription placed
on it describing it as a warning to all enemies of liberty. This
position being needed for Michelangelo's David, in 1506, Judith was
moved to the Loggia to the place where the Sabine group now is. In
1560 it took up its present position.

Cellini's Perseus will not quite do, I think, after Donatello and
Verrocchio; but few bronzes are more famous, and certainly of none
has so vivacious and exciting a story been written as Cellini's own,
setting forth his disappointments, mortifications, and pride in
connexion with this statue. Cellini, whatever one may think of his
veracity, is a diverting and valuable writer, and the picture of
Cosimo I which he draws for us is probably very near the truth. We
see him haughty, familiar, capricious, vain, impulsive, clear-sighted,
and easily flattered; intensely pleased to be in a position to command
the services of artists and very unwilling to pay. Cellini was a blend
of lackey, child, and genius. He left Francis I in order to serve
Cosimo and never ceased to regret the change. The Perseus was his
greatest accomplishment for Cosimo, and the narrative of its casting
is terrific and not a little like Dumas. When it was uncovered in its
present position all Florence flocked to the Loggia to praise it; the
poets placed commendatory sonnets on the pillars, and the sculptor
peacocked up and down in an ecstasy of triumph. Then, however, his
troubles once more began, for Cosimo had the craft to force Cellini
to name the price, and we see Cellini in an agony between desire for
enough and fear lest if he named enough he would offend his patron.

The whole book is a comedy of vanity and jealousy and Florentine
vigour, with Courts as a background. It is good to read it; it is
good, having read it, to study once again the unfevered resolute
features of Donatello's S. George. Cellini himself we may see among
the statues under the Uffizi and again in the place of honour (as a
goldsmith) in the centre of the Ponte Vecchio. Looking at the Perseus
and remembering Donatello, one realizes that what Cellini wanted was
character. He had temperament enough but no character. Perseus is
superb, commanding, distinguished, and one doesn't care a fig for it.

On entering the Palazzo Vecchio we come instantly to one of the most
charming things in Florence--Verrocchio's fountain--which stands
in the midst of the courtyard. This adorable work--a little bronze
Cupid struggling with a spouting dolphin--was made for Lorenzo de'
Medici's country villa at Careggi and was brought here when the
palazzo was refurnished for Francis I, Cosimo I's son and successor,
and his bride, Joanna of Austria, in 1565. Nothing could better
illustrate the accomplishment and imaginative adaptability of the great
craftsmen of the day than the two works of Verrocchio that we have
now seen: the Christ and S. Thomas at Or San Michele, in Donatello
and Michelozzo's niche, and this exquisite fountain splashing water
so musically. Notice the rich decorations of the pillars of this
courtyard and the rich colour and power of the pillars themselves. The
half-obliterated frescoes of Austrian towns on the walls were made to
prevent Joanna from being homesick, but were more likely, one would
guess, to stimulate that malady. In the left corner is the entrance
to the old armoury, now empty, with openings in the walls through
which pieces might be discharged at various angles on any advancing
host. The groined ceiling could support a pyramid.

The Palazzo Vecchio's ground floor is a series of thoroughfares in
which people are passing continually amid huge pillars and along
dark passages; but our way is up the stone steps immediately to the
left on leaving the courtyard where Verrocchio's child eternally
smiles, for the steps take us to that vast hall designed by Cronaca
for Savonarola's Great Council, which was called into being for the
government of Florence after the luckless Piero de' Medici had been
banished in 1494. Here much history was made. As to its structure
and its architect, Vasari, who later was called in to restore it,
has a deal to say, but it is too technical for us. It was built
by Simone di Pollaiuolo, who was known as Cronaca (the Chronicler)
from his vivid way of telling his adventures. Cronaca (1454-1508),
who was a personal friend and devotee of Savonarola, drew up his plan
in consultation with Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo (although then
so young: only nineteen or twenty) and others. Its peculiarity is that
it is one of the largest rooms in existence without pillars. From the
foot of the steps to the further wall I make it fifty-eight paces,
and thirty wide; and the proportions strike the eye as perfect. The
wall behind the steps is not at right angles with the other--and this
must be as peculiar as the absence of pillars.

Once there were to be paintings here by the greatest of all, for
masters no less than Leonardo and Michelangelo were commissioned to
decorate it, each with a great historical painting: a high honour
for the youthful Michelangelo. The loss of these works is one of
the tragedies of art. Leonardo chose for his subject the battle of
Anghiari, an incident of 1440 when the Florentines defeated Piccinino
and saved their Republic from the Milanese and Visconti. But both
the cartoon and the fresco have gone for ever, and our sense of loss
is not diminished by reading in Leonardo's Thoughts on Painting the
directions which he wrote for the use of artists who proposed to paint
battles: one of the most interesting and exciting pieces of writing in
the literature of art. Michelangelo's work, which never reached the
wall of the room, as Leonardo's had done, was completed as a cartoon
in 1504 to 1506 in his studio in the hospital of the dyers in Sant'
Onofrio, which is now the Via Guelfa. The subject was also military:
an incident in the long and bitter struggle between Florence and Pisa,
when Sir John Hawkwood (then in the pay of the Pisans, before he came
over finally to the Florentines) attacked a body of Florentines who
were bathing in the river. The scene gave the young artist scope both
for his power of delineating a spirited incident and for his drawing
of the nude, and those who saw it said of this work that it was finer
than anything the painter ever did. While it was in progress all
the young artists came to Sant' Onofrio to study it, as they and its
creator had before flocked to the Carmine, where Masaccio's frescoes
had for three-quarters of a century been object-lessons to students.

What became of the cartoon is not definitely known, but Vasari's
story is that Bandinelli, the sculptor of the Hercules and Cacus
outside the Palazzo, who was one of the most diligent copyists of the
cartoon after it was placed in a room in this building, had the key
of the door counterfeited, and, obtaining entrance during a moment
of tumult, destroyed the picture. The reasons given are: (1, and a
very poor one) that he desired to own the pieces; (2) that he wished
to deprive other and rival students of the advantage of copying it;
(3) that he wanted Leonardo to be the only painter of the Palazzo to
be considered; and (4, and sufficient) that he hated Michelangelo. At
this time Bandinelli could not have been more than eighteen. Vasari's
story is uncorroborated.

Leonardo's battle merely perished, being done in some fugitive medium;
and the walls are now covered with the works of Vasari himself
and his pupils and do not matter, while the ceiling is a muddle
of undistinguished paint. There are many statues which also do not
matter; but at the raised end is Leo X, son of Lorenzo the Magnificent,
and the first Medici Pope, and at the other a colossal modern statue
of Savonarola, who was in person the dominating influence here for
the years between 1494 and 1497; who is to many the central figure
in the history of this building; and whose last night on earth was
spent with his companions in this very room. But to him we come in
the chapter on S. Marco.

Many rooms in the Palazzo are to be seen only on special occasions,
but the great hall is always accessible. Certain rooms upstairs,
mostly with rich red and yellow floors, are also visible daily, all
interesting; but most notable is the Salle de Lys, with its lovely blue
walls of lilies, its glorious ceiling of gold and roses, Ghirlandaio's
fresco of S. Zenobius, and the perfect marble doorway containing
the wooden doors of Giuliano and Benedetto da Maiano, with the heads
of Dante and Petrarch in intarsia. Note the figures of Charity and
Temperance in the doorway and the charming youthful Baptist.

In Eleanor of Toledo's dining-room there are some rich and elaborate
green jugs which I remember very clearly and also the ceiling of her
workroom with its choice of Penelope as the presiding genius. Both
Eleanor's chapel and that in which Savonarola prayed before his
execution are shown.

But the most popular room of all with visitors--and quite naturally--is
the little boudoiresque study of Francis I, with its voluptuous
ladies on the ceiling and the secret treasure-room leading from it,
while on the way, just outside the door, is a convenient oubliette
into which to push any inconvenient visitor.

The loggia, which Mr. Morley has painted from the Via Castellani,
is also always accessible, and from it one has one of those pleasant
views of warm roofs in which Florence abounds.

One of the most attractive of the smaller rooms usually on view is
that one which leads from the lily-room and contains nothing but
maps of the world: the most decorative things conceivable, next to
Chinese paintings. Looking naturally for Sussex on the English map,
I found Winchelsey, Battel, Rye, Lewes, Sorham, Arônde, and Cicestra.

From the map-room a little room is gained where the debates in
the Great Council Hall might be secretly overheard by interested
eavesdroppers, but in particular by Cosimo I. A part of the cornice
has holes in it for this purppse, but on regaining the hall itself
I found that the disparity in the pattern was perfectly evident even
to my eye, so that every one in those suspicious days must have been
aware of the listener.

The tower should certainly be ascended--not only for the view
and to be so near the bells and the pillars, but also for historic
associations. After a little way we come to the cell where Cosimo de'
Medici, later to be the Father of his Country, was imprisoned, before
that exile which ended in recall and triumph in 1433. This cell,
although not exactly "a home from home," is possible. What is to be
said of that other, some thousands of steps (as it seems) higher,
where Savonarola was kept for forty days, varied only by intervals
of torture? For Savonarola's cell, which is very near the top, is
nothing but a recess in the wall with a door to it. It cannot be
more than five feet wide and eight feet long, with an open loophole
to the wind. If a man were here for forty days and then pardoned his
life would be worth very little. A bitter eyrie from which to watch
the city one had risked all to reform. What thoughts must have been
his in that trap! What reviews of policy! What illuminations as to
Florentine character!



CHAPTER VIII

The Uffizi I: The Building and the Collectors

The growth of a gallery--Vasari's Passaggio--Cosimo I--Francis
I--Ferdinand I--Ferdinand II--Cosimo III--Anna Maria Ludovica de'
Medici--Pietro-Leopoldo--The statues of the façade--Art, literature,
arms, science, and learning--The omissions--Florentine rapacity--An
antique custom--Window views--The Uffizi drawings--The best picture.

The foreigner should understand at once that any inquiries into the
history of the Uffizi family--such as for example yield interesting
results in the case of the Pazzi and the Albizzi--are doomed to
failure; because Uffizi merely means offices. The Palazzo degli
Uffizi, or palace of offices, was built by Vasari, the biographer of
the artists, for Cosimo I, who having taken the Signoria, or Palazzo
Vecchio, for his own home, wished to provide another building for the
municipal government. It was begun in 1560 and still so far fulfils
its original purpose as to contain the general post office, while it
also houses certain Tuscan archives and the national library.

A glance at Piero di Cosimo's portrait of Ferrucci in our National
Gallery will show that an ordinary Florentine street preceded the
erection of the Uffizi. At that time the top storey of the building,
as it now exists, was an open terrace affording a pleasant promenade
from the Palazzo Vecchio down to the river and back to the Loggia
de' Lanzi. Beneath this were studios and workrooms where Cosimo's
army of artists and craftsmen (with Bronzino and Cellini as the most
famous) were kept busy; while the public offices were on the ground
floor. Then, as his family increased, Cosimo decided to move, and the
incomplete and abandoned Pitti Palace was bought and finished. In 1565,
as we have seen, Francis, Cosimo's son, married and was installed in
the Palazzo Vecchio, and it was then that Vasari was called upon to
construct the Passaggio which unites the Palazzo Vecchio and the Pitti,
crossing the river by the Ponte Vecchio--Cosimo's idea (borrowed it
is said from Homer's description of the passage uniting the palaces of
Priam and Hector) being not only that he and his son might have access
to each other, but that in the event of danger on the other side of the
river a body of soldiers could be swiftly and secretly mobilized there.

Cosimo I died in 1574, and Francis I (1574-1587) succeeded him not only
in rule but in that patronage of the arts which was one of the finest
Medicean traditions; and it was he who first thought of making the
Uffizi a picture gallery. To do this was simple: it merely meant the
loss of part of the terrace by walling and roofing it in. Ferdinand
I (1587-1609) added the pretty Tribuna and other rooms, and brought
hither a number of the treasures from the Villa Medici at Rome. Cosimo
II (1609-1621) did little, but Ferdinand II (1621-1670) completed
the roofing in of the terraces, placed there his own collection of
drawings and a valuable collection of Venetian pictures which he
had bought, together with those that his wife Vittoria della Rovere
had brought him from Urbino, while his brothers, Cardinal Giovanni
Carlo de' Medici and Cardinal Leopoldo de' Medici (the extremely
ugly man with the curling chin, at the head of the Uffizi stairs),
added theirs. Giovanni Carlo's pictures, which mostly went to the
Pitti were varied; but Leopold's were chiefly portraits of artists,
wherever possible painted by themselves, a collection which is steadily
being added to at the present time and is to be seen in several rooms
of the Uffizi, and those miniature portraits of men of eminence which
we shall see in the corridor between the Poccetti Gallery and Salon of
Justice at the Pitti. Cosimo III (1670-1723) added the Dutch pictures
and the famous Venus de' Medici and other Tribuna statuary.

The galleries remained the private property of the Medici family until
the Electress Palatine, Anna Maria Ludovica de' Medici, daughter of
Cosimo III and great niece of the Cardinal Leopold, bequeathed all
these treasures, to which she had greatly added, together with bronzes
now in the Bargello, Etruscan antiquities now in the Archaeological
Museum, tapestries also there, and books in the Laurentian library,
to Florence for ever, on condition that they should never be removed
from Florence and should exist for the benefit of the public. Her
death was in 1743, and with her passed away the last descendant of
that Giovanni de' Medici (1360-1429) whom we saw giving commissions
to Donatello, building the children's hospital, and helping Florence
to the best of his power: so that the first Medici and the last were
akin in love of art and in generosity to their beautiful city.

The new Austrian Grand Dukes continued to add to the Uffizi,
particularly Pietro-Leopoldo (1765-1790), who also founded the
Accademia. To him was due the assembling, under the Uffizi roof,
of all the outlying pictures then belonging to the State, including
those in the gallery of the hospital of S. Maria Nuova, which owned,
among others, the famous Hugo van der Goes. It was he also who
brought together from Rome the Niobe statues and constructed a room
for them. Leopold II added the Iscrizioni.

It was as recently as 1842 to 1856 that the statues of the great
Florentines were placed in the portico. These, beginning at the Palazzo
Vecchio, are, first, against the inner wall, Cosimo Pater (1389-1464)
and Lorenzo the Magnificent (1450-1492); then, outside: Orcagna;
Andrea Pisano, of the first Baptistery doors; Giotto and Donatello;
Alberti, who could do everything and who designed the façade of
S. Maria Novella; Leonardo and Michelangelo. Next, three poets, Dante
(1265-1321), Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374), and Giovanni Boccaccio
(1313-1375). Then Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527), the statesman,
and Francesco Guicciardini (1482-1540), the historian. That completes
the first side.

At the end are Amerigo Vespucci (1451-1516), the explorer, who gave
his name to America, and Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), the astronomer;
and above is Cosimo I, the first Grand Duke.

On the Uffizi's river façade are four figures only--and hundreds of
swallows' nests. The figures are Francesco Ferrucci, who died in 1530,
the general painted by Piero di Cosimo in our National Gallery, who
recaptured Volterra from Pope Clement VII in 1529; Giovanni delle Bande
Nere (1500-1527), father of Cosimo I, and a great fighting man; Piero
Capponi, who died in 1496, and delivered Florence from Charles VIII in
1494, by threatening to ring the city bells; and Farinata degli Uberti,
an earlier soldier, who died in 1264 and is in the "Divina Commedia"
as a hero. It was he who repulsed the Ghibelline suggestion that
Florence should be destroyed and the inhabitants emigrate to Empoli.

Working back towards the Loggia de' Lanzi we find less-known names:
Pietro Antonio Michele (1679-1737), the botanist; Francesco Redi
(1626-1697), a poet and a man of science; Paolo Mascagni (1732-1815),
the anatomist; Andrea Cesalpino (1519-1603), the philosopher;
S. Antonio (died 1461), Prior of the Convent of S. Marco and Archbishop
of Florence; Francesco Accorso (1182-1229), the jurist; Guido Aretino
(eleventh century), musician; and Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1572),
the goldsmith and sculptor. The most notable omissions are Arnolfo
and Brunelleschi (but these are, as we have seen, on the façade of
the Palazzo de' Canonici, opposite the south side of the cathedral),
Ghiberti, Fra Angelico, and Savonarola. Personally I should like to
have still others here, among them Giorgio Vasari, in recognition
of his enthusiastic and entertaining biographies of the Florentine
artists, to say nothing of the circumstance that he designed this
building.

Before we enter any Florentine gallery let me say that there is only
one free day and that the crowded Sabbath. Admittance to nearly all is
a lira. Moreover, there is no re-admission. The charge strikes English
visitors, accustomed to the open portals of their own museums and
galleries, as an outrage, and it explains also the little interest in
their treasures which most Florentines display, for being essentially
a frugal people they have seldom seen them. Visitors who can satisfy
the authorities that they are desirous of studying the works of art
with a serious purpose can obtain free passes; but only after certain
preliminaries, which include a seance with a photographer to satisfy
the doorkeeper, by comparing the real and counterfeit physiognomies,
that no illicit transference of the precious privilege has been
made. Italy is, one knows, not a rich country; but the revenue which
the gallery entrance-fees represent cannot reach any great volume,
and such as it is it had much better, I should say, be raised by
other means. Meanwhile, the foreigner chiefly pays it. What Giovanni
de' Medici and Lorenzo de' Medici, and--even more--what Anna Maria
Ludovica de' Medici, who bequeathed to the State these possessions,
would think could they see this feverish and implacable pursuit of
pence, I have not imagination, or scorn, enough to set down.

Infirm and languid visitors should get it clearly into their heads (1)
that the tour of the Uffizi means a long walk and (2) that there is
a lift. You find it in the umbrella room--at every Florentine gallery
and museum is an official whose one object in life is to take away your
umbrella--and it costs twopence-halfpenny and is worth far more. But
walking downstairs is imperative, because otherwise one would miss
Silenus and Bacchus, and a beautiful urgent Mars, in bronze, together
with other fine sculptured things.

One of the quaintest symbols of conservatism in Florence is the
scissors of the officials who supply tickets of entrance. Apparently
the perforated line is unknown in Italy; hence the ticket is divided
from its counterfoil (which I assume goes to the authorities in
order that they may check their horrid takings) by a huge pair
of shears. These things are snip-snapping all over Italy, all day
long. Having obtained your ticket you hand it to another official at a
turn-stile, and at last you are free of cupidity and red tape and may
breathe easily again and examine the products of the light-hearted,
generous Renaissance in the right spirit.

One should never forget, in any gallery of Florence, to look out
of the windows. There is always a courtyard, a street, or a spire
against the sky; and at the Uffizi there are the river and bridges
and mountains. From the loggia of the Palazzo Vecchio I once saw a
woman with some twenty or thirty city pigeons on the table of her
little room, feeding them with maize.

Except for glimpses of the river and the Via Guicciardini which it
gives, I advise no one to walk through the passage uniting the Pitti
and the Uffizi--unless of course bent on catching some of the ancient
thrill when armed men ran swiftly from one palace to the other to quell
a disturbance or repulse an assault. Particularly does this counsel
apply to wet days, when all the windows are closed and there is no
air. A certain interest attaches to the myriad portraits which line
the walls, chiefly of the Medici and comparatively recent worthies;
but one must have a glutton's passion either for paint or history to
wish to examine these. As a matter of fact, only a lightning-speed
tourist could possibly think of seeing both the Uffizi and the Pitti
on the same day, and therefore the need of the passage disappears. It
is hard worked only on Sundays.

The drawings in the cases in the first long corridor are worth close
study--covering as they do the whole range of great Italian art: from,
say, Uccello to Carlo Dolci. But as they are from time to time changed
it is useless to say more of them. There is also on the first landing
of the staircase a room in which exhibitions of drawings of the Old
Masters are held, and this is worth knowing about, not only because
of the riches of the portfolios in the collection, but also because
once you have passed the doors you are inside the only picture gallery
in Florence for which no entrance fee is asked. How the authorities
have come to overlook this additional source of revenue, I have no
notion; but they have, and visitors should hasten to make the most
of it for fear that a translation of these words of mine may wander
into bad hands.

To name the most wonderful picture in the Uffizi would be a very
difficult task. At the Accademia, if a plebiscite were taken, there is
little doubt but that Botticelli's "Primavera" would win. At the Pitti
I personally would name Giorgione's "Concert" without any hesitation at
all; but probably the public vote would go to Raphael's "Madonna della
Sedia". But the Uffizi? Here we are amid such wealth of masterpieces,
and yet when one comes to pass them in review in memory none stands
out as those other two I have named. Perhaps Botticelli would win
again, with his "Birth of Venus". Were the Leonardo finished ... but
it is only a sketch. Luca Signorelli's wild flowers in No. 74 seem to
abide with me as vividly and graciously as anything; but they are but a
detail and it is a very personal predilection. Perhaps the great exotic
work painted far away in Belgium--the Van der Goes triptych--is the
most memorable; but to choose an alien canvas is to break the rules of
the game. Is it perhaps the unfinished Leonardo after all? If not, and
not the Botticelli, it is beyond question that lovely adoring Madonna,
so gentle and sweet, against the purest and bluest of Tuscan skies,
which is attributed to Filippino Lippi: No. 1354.



CHAPTER IX

The Uffizi II: The First Six Rooms

Lorenzo Monaco--Fra Angelico--Mariotto Albertinelli turns
innkeeper--The Venetian rooms--Giorgione's death--Titian--Mantegna
uniting north and south--Giovanni Bellini--Domenico
Ghirlandaio--Michelangelo--Luca Signorelli--Wild flowers--Leonardo
da Vinci--Paolo Uccello.

The first and second rooms are Venetian; but I am inclined to think
that it is better to take the second door on the left--the first Tuscan
salon--and walking straight across it come at once to the Salon of
Lorenzo Monaco and the primitives. For the earliest good pictures
are here. Here especially one should remember that the pictures
were painted never for a gallery but for churches. Lorenzo Monaco
(Lawrence the Monk, 1370-c. 1425), who gives his name to this room,
was a monk of the Camaldolese order in the Monastery of the Angeli,
and was a little earlier than Fra Angelico (the Angelic Brother),
the more famous painting monk, whose dates are 1387-1455. Lorenzo
was influenced by Taddeo Gaddi, Giotto's godson, friend, pupil, and
assistant. His greatest work is this large Uffizi altar-piece--he
painted nothing but altar-pieces--depicting the Coronation of the
Virgin: a great gay scene of splendour, containing pretty angels who
must have been the delight of children in church. The predella--and
here let me advise the visitor never to overlook the predellas, where
the artist often throws off formality and allows his more natural
feelings to have play, almost as though he painted the picture for
others and the predella for himself--is peculiarly interesting. Look,
at the left, at the death of an old Saint attended by monks and nuns,
whose grief is profound. One other good Lorenzo is here, an "Adoration
of the Magi," No. 39, a little out of drawing but full of life.

But for most people the glory of the room is not Lorenzo the Monk,
but Brother Giovanni of Fiesole, known ever more as Beato, or Fra,
Angelico. Of that most adoring and most adorable of painters I say much
in the chapter on the Accademia, where he is very fully represented,
and it might perhaps be well to turn to those pages (227-230) and read
here, on our first sight of his genius, what is said. Two Angelicos are
in this room--the great triptych, opposite the chief Lorenzo, and the
"Crowning of the Virgin," on an easel. The triptych is as much copied
as any picture in the gallery, not, however, for its principal figures,
but for the border of twelve angels round the centre panel. Angelico's
benignancy and sweetness are here, but it is not the equal of the
"Coronation," which is a blaze of pious fervour and glory. The group
of saints on the right is very charming; but we are to be more pleased
by this radiant hand when we reach the Accademia. Already, however,
we have learned his love of blue. Another altar-piece with a subtle
quality of its own is the early Annunciation by Simone Martini of
Siena (1285-1344) and Lippo Memmi, his brother (d. 1357), in which
the angel speaks his golden words across the picture through a vase
of lilies, and the Virgin receives them shrinkingly. It is all very
primitive, but it has great attraction, and it is interesting to
think that the picture must be getting on for six hundred years of
age. This Simone was a pupil of Giotto and the painter of a portrait
of Petrarch's Laura, now preserved in the Laurentian library, which
earned him two sonnets of eulogy. It is also two Sienese painters
who have made the gayest thing in this room, the predella, No. 1304,
by Neroccio di Siena (1447-1500) and Francesco di Giorgio di Siena
(1439-1502), containing scenes in the life of S. Benedetto. Neroccio
did the landscape and figures; the other the architecture, and very
fine it is. Another delightful predella is that by Benozzo Gozzoli
(1420-1498), Fra Angelico's pupil, whom we have seen at the Riccardi
palace. Gozzoli's predella is No. 1302. Finally, look at No. 64,
which shows how prettily certain imitators of Fra Angelico could paint.

After the Sala di Lorenzo Monaco let us enter the first Tuscan
room. The draughtsmanship of the great Last Judgment fresco by Fra
Bartolommeo (1475-1517) and Mariotto Albertinelli (1474-1515) is very
fine. It is now a ruin, but enough remains to show that it must have
been impressive. These collaborators, although intimate friends,
ultimately went different ways, for Fra Bartolommeo came under
the influence of Savonarola, burned his nude drawings, and entered
the Convent of S. Marco; whereas Albertinelli, who was a convivial
follower of Venus, tiring of art and even more of art jargon, took
an inn outside the S. Gallo gate and a tavern on the Ponte Vecchio,
remarking that he had found a way of life that needed no knowledge
of muscles, foreshortening, or perspective, and better still, was
without critics. Among his pupils was Franciabigio, whose lovely
Madonna of the Well we are coming to in the Tribuna.

Chief among the other pictures are two by the delightful Alessio
Baldovinetti, the master of Domenico Ghirlandaio, Nos. 60 and 56;
and a large early altar-piece by the brothers Orcagna, painted in
1367 for S. Maria Nuova, now the principal hospital of Florence
and once the home of many beautiful pictures. This work is rather
dingy now, but it is interesting as coming in part from the hand
that designed the tabernacle in Or San Michele and the Loggia de'
Lanzi. Another less-known painter represented here is Francesco
Granacci (1469-1543), the author of Nos. 1541 and 1280, both rich
and warm and pleasing. Granacci was a fellow-pupil of Michelangelo
both in Lorenzo de' Medici's garden and in Ghirlandaio's workshop,
and the bosom friend of that great man all his life. Like Piero
di Cosimo, Granacci was a great hand at pageantry, and Lorenzo de'
Medici kept him busy. He was not dependent upon art for his living,
but painted for love of it, and Vasari makes him a very agreeable man.

Here too is Gio. Antonio Sogliani (1492-1544), also a rare painter,
with a finely coloured and finely drawn "Disputa," No. 63. This painter
seems to have had the same devotion to his master, Lorenzo di Credi,
that di Credi had for his master, Verrocchio. Vasari calls Sogliani a
worthy religious man who minded his own affairs--a good epitaph. His
work is rarely met with in Florence, but he has a large fresco at
S. Marco. Lorenzo di Credi (1459-1537) himself has two pretty circular
paintings here, of which No. 1528 is particularly sweet: "The Virgin
and Child with St. John and Angels," all comfortable and happy in
a Tuscan meadow; while on an easel is another circular picture, by
Pacchiarotto (1477-1535). This has good colour and twilight beauty,
but it does not touch one and is not too felicitously composed. Over
the door to the Venetian room is a Cosimo Rosselli with a prettily
affectionate Madonna and Child.

From this miscellaneous Tuscan room we pass to the two rooms which
contain the Venetian pictures, of which I shall say less than might
perhaps be expected, not because I do not intensely admire them but
because I feel that the chief space in a Florentine book should be
given to Florentine or Tuscan things. As a matter of fact, I find
myself when in the Uffizi continually drawn to revisit these walls. The
chief treasures are the Titians, the Giorgiones, the Mantegnas,
the Carpaccio, and the Bellini allegory. These alone would make
the Uffizi a Mecca of connoisseurs. Giorgione is to be found in his
richest perfection at the Pitti, in his one unforgettable work that
is preserved there, but here he is wonderful too, with his Cavalier
of Malta, black and golden, and the two rich scenes, Nos. 621 and
630, nominally from Scripture, but really from romantic Italy. To me
these three pictures are the jewels of the Venetian collection. To
describe them is impossible: enough to say that some glowing genius
produced them; and whatever the experts admit, personally I prefer
to consider that genius Giorgione. Giorgione, who was born in 1477
and died young--at thirty-three--was, like Titian, the pupil of
Bellini, but was greatly influenced by Leonardo da Vinci. Later he
became Titian's master. He was passionately devoted to music and to
ladies, and it was indeed from a lady that he had his early death,
for he continued to kiss her after she had taken the plague. (No bad
way to die, either; for to be in the power of an emotion that sways
one to such foolishness is surely better than to live the lukewarm
calculating lives of most of us.) Giorgione's claim to distinction
is that not only was he a glorious colourist and master of light and
shade, but may be said to have invented small genre pictures that
could be earned about and hung in this or that room at pleasure--such
pictures as many of the best Dutch painters were to bend their genius
to almost exclusively--his favourite subjects being music parties
and picnics. These Moses and Solomon pictures in the Uffizi are of
course only a pretext for gloriously coloured arrangements of people
with rich scenic backgrounds. No.621 is the finer. The way in which
the baby is being held in the other indicates how little Giorgione
thought of verisimilitude. The colour was the thing.

After the Giorgiones the Titians, chief of which is No.633, "The
Madonna and Child with S. John and S. Anthony," sometimes called the
"Madonna of the Roses," a work which throws a pallor over all Tuscan
pictures; No.626, the golden Flora, who glows more gloriously every
moment (whom we shall see again, at the Pitti, as the Magdalen);
the Duke and Duchess of Urbino, Nos.605 and 599, the Duchess set
at a window with what looks so curiously like a deep blue Surrey
landscape through it and a village spire in the midst; and 618,
an unfinished Madonna and Child in which the Master's methods can
be followed. The Child, completed save for the final bath of light,
is a miracle of draughtsmanship.

The triptych by Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506) is of inexhaustible
interest, for here, as ever, Mantegna is full of thought and
purpose. The left panel represents the Ascension, Christ being borne
upwards by eleven cherubim in a solid cloud; the right panel--by far
the best, I think--shows the Circumcision, where the painter has set
himself various difficulties of architecture and goldsmith's work
for the pleasure of overcoming them, every detail being painted with
Dutch minuteness and yet leaving the picture big; while the middle
panel, which is concave, depicts an Adoration of the Magi that will
bear much study. The whole effect is very northern: not much less
so than our own new National Gallery Mabuse. Mantegna also has a
charming Madonna and Child, No. 1025, with pleasing pastoral and
stone-quarrying activities in the distance.

On the right of the triptych is the so-called Carpaccio (1450-1519),
a confused but glorious melee of youths and halberds, reds and yellows
and browns, very modern and splendid and totally unlike anything else
in the whole gallery. Uccello may possibly be recalled, but only for
subject. Finally there is Giovanni Bellini (1426-1516), master of
Titian and Giorgione, with his "Sacra Conversazione," No. 631, which
means I know not what but has a haunting quality. Later we shall
see a picture by Michelangelo which has been accused of blending
Christianity and paganism; but Bellini's sole purpose was to do
this. We have children from a Bacchic vase and the crowned Virgin; two
naked saints and a Venetian lady; and a centaur watching a hermit. The
foreground is a mosaic terrace; the background is rocks and water. It
is all bizarre and very curious and memorable and quite unique. For the
rest, I should mention two charming Guardis; a rich little Canaletto;
a nice scene of sheep by Jacopo Bassano; the portrait of an unknown
young man by an unknown painter, No. 1157; and Tintoretto's daring
"Abraham and Isaac".

The other Venetian room is almost wholly devoted to portraits, chief
among them being a red-headed Tintoretto burning furiously, No. 613,
and Titian's sly and sinister Caterina Cornaro in her gorgeous dress,
No. 648; Piombo's "L'Uomo Ammalato"; Tintoretto's Jacopo Sansovino,
the sculptor, the grave old man holding his calipers who made that
wonderful Greek Bacchus at the Bargello; Schiavone's ripe, bearded
"Ignoto," No. 649, and, perhaps above all, the Moroni, No. 386,
black against grey. There is also Paolo Veronese's "Holy Family with
S. Catherine," superbly masterly and golden but suggesting the Rialto
rather than Nazareth.

One picture gives the next room, the Sala di Michelangelo, its name;
but entering from the Venetian room we come first on the right to a
very well-known Lippo Lippi, copied in every picture shop in Florence:
No. 1307, a Madonna and two Children. Few pictures are so beset by
delighted observers, but apart from the perfection of it as an early
painting, leaving nothing to later dexterity, its appeal to me is
weak. The Madonna (whose head-dress, as so often in Lippo Lippi,
foreshadows Botticelli) and the landscape equally delight; the
children almost repel, and the decorative furniture in the corner
quite repels. The picture is interesting also for its colour, which
is unlike anything else in the gallery, the green of the Madonna's
dress being especially lovely and distinguished, and vulgarizing
the Ghirlandaio--No. 1297--which hangs next. This picture is far too
hot throughout, and would indeed be almost displeasing but for the
irradiation of the Virgin's face. The other Ghirlandaio--No. 1295--in
this room is far finer and sweeter; but at the Accademia and the Badia
we are to see him at his best in this class of work. None the less,
No. 1295 is a charming thing, and the little Mother and her happy
Child, whose big toe is being so reverently adored by the ancient
mage, are very near real simple life. This artist, we shall see,
always paints healthy, honest babies. The seaport in the distance is
charming too.

Ghirlandaio's place in this room is interesting on account of his
relation to Michelangelo as first instructor; but by the time that the
great master's "Holy Family," hanging here, was painted all traces
of Ghirlandaio's influence had disappeared, and if any forerunner
is noticeable it is Luca Signorelli. But we must first glance at
the pretty little Lorenzo di Credi, No. 1160, the Annunciation,
an artificial work full of nice thoughts and touches, with the
prettiest little blue Virgin imaginable, a heavenly landscape, and
a predella in monochrome, in one scene of which Eve rises from the
side of the sleeping Adam with extraordinary realism. The announcing
Gabriel is deferential but positive; Mary is questioning but not
wholly surprised. In any collection of Annunciations this picture
would find a prominent place.

The "Holy Family" of Michelangelo--No. 1139--is remarkable for more
than one reason. It is, to begin with, the only finished easel picture
that exists from his brush. It is also his one work in oils, for he
afterwards despised that medium as being fit "only for children". The
frame is contemporary and was made for it, the whole being commissioned
by Angelo Doni, a wealthy connoisseur whose portrait by Raphael we
shall see in the Pitti, and who, according to Vasari, did his best to
get it cheaper than his bargain, and had in the end to pay dearer. The
period of the picture is about 1503, while the great David was in
progress, when the painter was twenty-eight. That it is masterly and
superb there can be no doubt, but, like so much of Michelangelo's
work, it suffers from its author's greatness. There is an austerity
of power here that ill consorts with the tender domesticity of the
scene, and the Child is a young Hercules. The nude figures in the
background introduce an alien element and suggest the conflict between
Christianity and paganism, the new religion and the old: in short, the
Twilight of the Gods. Whether Michelangelo intended this we shall not
know; but there it is. The prevailing impression left by the picture
is immense power and virtuosity and no religion. In the beautiful Luca
Signorelli--No.74--next it, we find at once a curious similarity and
difference. The Madonna and Child only are in the foreground, a not
too radiant but very tender couple; in the background are male figures
nearly nude: not quite, as Michelangelo made them, and suggesting
no discord as in his picture. Luca was born in 1441, and was thus
thirty-four years older than Michelangelo. This picture is perhaps that
one presented by Luca to Lorenzo de' Medici, of which Vasari tells, and
if so it was probably on a wall in the Medici palace when Michelangelo
as a boy was taught with Lorenzo's sons. Luca's sweetness was alien
to Michelangelo, but not his melancholy or his sense of composition;
while Luca's devotion to the human form as the unit of expression
was in Michelangelo carried out to its highest power. Vasari, who
was a relative of Luca's and a pupil of Michelangelo's, says that
his master had the greatest admiration for Luca's genius.

Luca Signorelli was born at Cortona, and was instructed by Piero della
Francesca, whose one Uffizi painting is in a later room. His chief work
is at Cortona, at Rome (in the Sixtine Chapel), and at Orvieto. His
fame was sufficient in Florence in 1491 for him to be made one of
the judges of the designs for the façade of the Duomo. Luca lived
to a great age, not dying till 1524, and was much beloved. He was
magnificent in his habits and loved fine clothes, was very kindly
and helpful in disposition, and the influence of his naturalness and
sincerity upon art was great. One very pretty sad story is told of him,
to the effect that when his son, whom he had dearly loved, was killed
at Cortona, he caused the body to be stripped, and painted it with the
utmost exactitude, that through his own handiwork he might be able
to contemplate that treasure of which fate had robbed him. Perhaps
the most beautiful or at any rate the most idiosyncratic thing in the
picture before us is its lovely profusion of wayside flowers. These
come out but poorly in the photograph, but in the painting they
are exquisite both in form and in detail. Luca painted them as if
he loved them. (There is a hint of the same thoughtful care in the
flowers in No. 1133, by Luca, in our National Gallery; but these at
Florence are the best.) No. 74 is in tempera: the next, also by Luca,
No.1291, is in oil, a "Holy Family," a work at once powerful, rich,
and sweet. Here, again, we may trace an influence on Michelangelo,
for the child is shown deprecating a book which his mother is
displaying, while in the beautiful marble tondo of the "Madonna and
Child" by Michelangelo, which we are soon to see in the Bargello,
a reading lesson is in progress, and the child wearying of it. We
find Luca again in the next large picture--No.1547--a Crucifixion,
with various Saints, done in collaboration with Perugino. The design
suggests Luca rather than his companion, and the woman at the foot of
the cross is surely the type of which he was so fond. The drawing of
Christ is masterly and all too sombre for Perugino. Finally, there is
a Luca predella, No. 1298, representing the Annunciation, the Birth
of Christ (in which Joseph is older almost than in any version), and
the Adoration of the Magi, all notable for freedom and richness. Note
the realism and charm and the costume of the two pages of the Magi.

And now we come to what is perhaps the most lovely picture in the whole
gallery, judged purely as colour and sweetness and design--No.1549--a
"Madonna Adoring," with Filippino Lippi's name and an interrogation
mark beneath it. Who painted it if not Filippino? That is the question;
but into such problems, which confront one at every turn in Florence,
I am neither qualified nor anxious to enter. When doctors disagree any
one may decide before me. The thought, moreover, that always occurs
in the presence of these good debatable pictures, is that any doubt
as to their origin merely enriches this already over-rich period,
since some one had to paint them. Simon not pure becomes hardly less
remarkable than Simon pure.

If only the Baby were more pleasing, this would be perhaps the most
delightful picture in the world: as it is, its blues alone lift it to
the heavens of delectableness. By an unusual stroke of fortune a crack
in the paint where the panels join has made a star in the tender blue
sky. The Tuscan landscape is very still and beautiful; the flowers,
although conventional and not accurate like Luca's, are as pretty
as can be; the one unsatisfying element is the Baby, who is a little
clumsy and a little in pain, but diffuses radiance none the less. And
the Mother--the Mother is all perfection and winsomeness. Her face
and hands are exquisite, and the Tuscan twilight behind her is so
lovely. I have given a reproduction, but colour is essential.

The remaining three pictures in the room are a Bastiano and a
Pollaiolo, which are rather for the student than for the wanderer,
and a charming Ignoto, No. 75, which I like immensely. But Ignoto
nearly always paints well.

In the Sala di Leonardo are two pictures which bear the name of
this most fascinating of all the painters of the world. One is the
Annunciation, No. 1288, upon the authenticity of which much has been
said and written, and the other an unfinished Adoration of the Magi
which cannot be questioned by anyone. The probabilities are that the
Annunciation is an early work and that the ascription is accurate:
at Oxford is a drawing known to be Leonardo's that is almost certainly
a study for a detail of this work, while among the Leonardo drawings
in the His de la Salle collection at the Louvre is something very
like a first sketch of the whole. Certainly one can think of no one
else who could have given the picture its quality, which increases
in richness with every visit to the gallery; but the workshop of
Verrocchio, where Leonardo worked, together with Lorenzo di Credi and
Perugino, with Andrea of the True Eye over all, no doubt put forth
wonderful things. The Annunciation is unique in the collection, both
in colour and character: nothing in the Uffizi so deepens. There are
no cypresses like these in any other picture, no finer drawing than
that of Mary's hands. Luca's flowers are better, in the adjoining
room; one is not too happy about the pedestal of the reading-desk;
and there are Virgins whom we can like more; but as a whole it is
perhaps the most fascinating picture of all, for it has the Leonardo
darkness as well as light.

Of Leonardo I could write for ever, but this book is not the place;
for though he was a Florentine, Florence has very little of his work:
these pictures only, and one of these only for certain, together
with an angel in a work by Verrocchio at the Accademia which we
shall see, and possibly a sculptured figure over the north door of
the Baptistery. Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, and Francis I of
France, lured him away, to the eternal loss of his own city. It is
Milan and Paris that are richest in his work, and after that London,
which has at South Kensington a sculptured relief by him as well as
a painting at the National Gallery, a cartoon at Burlington House,
and the British Museum drawings.

His other work here--No. 1252--in the grave brown frame, was to have
been Leonardo's greatest picture in oil, so Vasari says: larger, in
fact, than any known picture at that time. Being very indistinct,
it is, curiously enough, best as the light begins to fail and the
beautiful wistful faces emerge from the gloom. In their presence one
recalls Leonardo's remark in one of his notebooks that faces are most
interesting beneath a troubled sky. "You should make your portrait,"
he adds, "at the hour of the fall of the evening when it is cloudy
or misty, for the light then is perfect." In the background one can
discern the prancing horses of the Magi's suite; a staircase with
figures ascending and descending; the rocks and trees of Tuscany;
and looking at it one cannot but ponder upon the fatality which seems
to have pursued this divine and magical genius, ordaining that almost
everything that he put forth should be either destroyed or unfinished:
his work in the Castello at Milan, which might otherwise be an eighth
wonder of the world, perished; his "Last Supper" at Milan perishing;
his colossal equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza broken to pieces;
his sculpture lost; his Palazzo Vecchio battle cartoon perished;
this picture only a sketch. Even after long years the evil fate still
persists, for in 1911 his "Gioconda" was stolen from the Louvre by
madman or knave.

Among the other pictures in this room is the rather hot "Adoration
of the Magi," by Cosimo Rosselli (1439-1507), over the Leonardo
"Annunciation," a glowing scene of colour and animation: this Cosimo
being the Cosimo from whom Piero di Cosimo took his name, and an
associate of Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Perugino, and Luca Signorelli
on the Sixtine Chapel frescoes. On the left wall is Uccello's battle
piece, No. 52, very like that in our National Gallery: rich and
glorious as decoration, but quite bearing out Vasari's statement that
Uccello could not draw horses. Uccello was a most laborious student
of animal life and so absorbed in the mysteries of perspective that
he preferred them to bed; but he does not seem to have been able to
unite them. He was a perpetual butt of Donatello. It is told of him
that having a commission to paint a fresco for the Mercato Vecchio
he kept the progress of the work a secret and allowed no one to
see it. At last, when it was finished, he drew aside the sheet for
Donatello, who was buying fruit, to admire. "Ah, Paolo," said the
sculptor reproachfully, "now that you ought to be covering it up,
you uncover it."

There remain a superb nude study of Venus by Lorenzo di Credi,
No. 3452--one of the pictures which escaped Savonarola's bonfire
of vanities, and No. 1305, a Virgin and Child with various Saints
by Domenico Veneziano (1400-1461), who taught Gentile da Fabriano,
the teacher of Jacopo Bellini. This picture is a complete contrast to
the Uccello: for that is all tapestry, richness, and belligerence,
and this is so pale and gentle, with its lovely light green, a rare
colour in this gallery.



CHAPTER X

The Uffizi III: Botticelli

A painter apart--Sandro Filipepi--Artists' names--Piero de' Medici--The
"Adoration of the Magi"--The "Judith" pictures--Lucrezia Tornabuoni,
Lorenzo and Giuliano's mother--The Tournaments--The "Birth of Venus"
and the "Primavera"--Simonetta--A new star--Sacred pictures--Savonarola
and "The Calumny"--The National Gallery--Botticelli's old age and
death.

We come next to the Sala di Botticelli, and such is the position
held by this painter in the affection of visitors to Florence, and
such the wealth of works from his hand that the Uffizi possesses,
that I feel that a single chapter may well be devoted to his genius,
more particularly as many of his pictures were so closely associated
with Piero de' Medici and Lorenzo de' Medici. We see Botticelli here
at his most varied. The Accademia also is very rich in his work,
having above all the "Primavera," and in this chapter I shall glance
at the Accademia pictures too, returning to them when we reach that
gallery in due course. Among the great Florentine masters Botticelli
stands apart by reason not only of the sensitive wistful delicacy
of his work, but for the profound interest of his personality. He
is not essentially more beautiful than his friend Filippino Lippi
or--occasionally--than Fra Lippo Lippi his master; but he is always
deeper. One feels that he too felt the emotion that his characters
display; he did not merely paint, he thought and suffered. Hence his
work is dramatic. Again Botticelli had far wider sympathies than most
of his contemporaries. He was a friend of the Medici, a neo-Platonist,
a student of theology with the poet Palmieri, an illustrator of Dante,
and a devoted follower of Savonarola. Of the part that women played
in his life we know nothing: in fact we know less of him intimately
than of almost any of the great painters; but this we may guess, that
he was never a happy man. His work falls naturally into divisions
corresponding to his early devotion to Piero de' Medici and his
wife Lucrezia Tornabuoni, in whose house for a while he lived; to
his interest in their sons Lorenzo and Giuliano; and finally to his
belief in Savonarola. Sublime he never is; comforting he never is;
but he is everything else. One can never forget in his presence the
tragedy that attends the too earnest seeker after beauty: not "all
is vanity" does Botticelli say, but "all is transitory".

Botticelli, as we now call him, was the son of Mariano Filipepi and
was born in Florence in 1447. According to one account he was called
Sandro di Botticelli because he was apprenticed to a goldsmith of
that name; according to another his brother Antonio, a goldsmith,
was known as Botticello (which means a little barrel), and Sandro
being with him was called Sandro di Botticello. Whatever the cause,
the fact remains that the name of Filipepi is rarely used.

And here a word as to the capriciousness of the nomenclature of
artists. We know some by their Christian names; some by their surnames;
some by their nicknames; some by the names of their towns, and some
by the names of their masters. Tommaso Bigordi, a goldsmith, was so
clever in designing a pretty garland for women's hair that he was
called Ghirlandaio, the garland-maker, and his painter son Domenico
is therefore known for ever as Uomenico Ghirlandaio. Paolo Doni, a
painter of battle scenes, was so fond of birds that he was known as
Uccello (a bird) and now has no other name; Pietro Vannucci coming
from Perugia was called Perugino; Agnolo di Francesco di Migliore
happened to be a tailor with a genius of a son, Andrea; that genius is
therefore Andrea of the Tailor--del Sarto--for all time. And so forth.

To return to Botticelli. In 1447, when he was born, Fra Angelico
was sixty; and Masaccio had been dead for some years. At the age
of twelve the boy was placed with Fra Lippo Lippi, then a man of
a little more than fifty, to learn painting. That Lippo was his
master one may see continually, but particularly by comparison of
his headdresses with almost any of Botticelli's. Both were minutely
careful in this detail. But where Lippo was beautifully obvious,
Sandro was beautifully analytical: he was also, as I have said,
much more interesting and dramatic.

Botticelli's best patron was Piero de' Medici, who took him into
his house, much as his son Lorenzo was to take Michelangelo into
his, and made him one of the family. For Piero, Botticelli always
had affection and respect, and when he painted his "Fortitude" as
one of the Pollaiuoli's series of the Virtues for the Mercatanzia
(of which several are in this gallery), he made the figure symbolize
Piero's life and character--or so it is possible, if one wishes to
believe. But it should be understood that almost nothing is known
about Botticelli and the origin of his pictures. At Piero's request
Botticelli painted the "Adoration of the Magi" (No. 1286) which was
to hang in S. Maria Novella as an offering of gratitude for Piero's
escape from the conspiracy of Luca Pitti in 1466. Piero had but just
succeeded to Cosimo when Pitti, considering him merely an invalid,
struck his blow. By virtue largely of the young Lorenzo's address
the attack miscarried: hence the presence of Lorenzo in the picture,
on the extreme left, with a sword. Piero himself in scarlet kneels
in the middle; Giuliano, his second son, doomed to an early death by
assassination, is kneeling on his right. The picture is not only a
sacred painting but (like the Gozzoli fresco at the Riccardi palace)
an exaltation of the Medici family. The dead Cosimo is at the Child's
feet; the dead Giovanni, Piero's brother, stands close to the kneeling
Giuliano. Among the other persons represented are collateral Medici
and certain of their friends.

It is by some accepted that the figure in yellow, on the extreme right,
looking out of this picture, is Botticelli himself. But for a portrait
of the painter of more authenticity we must go to the Carmine, where,
in the Brancacci chapel, we shall see a fresco by Botticelli's friend
Filippino Lippi representing the Crucifixion of S. Peter, in which
our painter is depicted on the right, looking on at the scene--a
rather coarse heavy face, with a large mouth and long hair. He wears
a purple cap and red cloak. Vasari tells us that Botticelli, although
so profoundly thoughtful and melancholy in his work, was extravagant,
pleasure loving, and given to practical jokes. Part at least of this
might be gathered from observation of Filippino Lippi's portrait of
him. According to Vasari it was No. 1286 which brought Botticelli his
invitation to Rome from Sixtus IV to decorate the Sixtine Chapel. But
that was several years later and much was to happen in the interval.

The two little "Judith" pictures (Nos. 1156 and 1158) were painted for
Piero de' Medici and had their place in the Medici palace. In 1494,
when Piero di Lorenzo de' Medici was banished from Florence and the
palace looted, they were stolen and lost sight of; but during the reign
of Francis I they reappeared and were presented to his wife Bianca
Capella and once more placed with the Medici treasures. No. 1156,
the Judith walking springily along, sword in hand, having slain the
tyrant, is one of the masterpieces of paint. Everything about it is
radiant, superb, and unforgettable.

One other picture which the young painter made for his patron--or in
this case his patroness, Lucrezia Tornabuoni, Piero's wife--is the
"Madonna of the Magnificat," No. 1267, with its beautiful children and
sweet Madonna, its lovely landscape but not too attractive Child. The
two boys are Lorenzo, on the left, and Giuliano, in yellow. One
of their sisters leans over them. Here the boys are perhaps, in
Botticelli's way, typified rather than portrayed. Although this
picture came so early in his career Botticelli never excelled its
richness, beauty, and depth of feeling, nor its liquid delicacy of
treatment. Lucrezia Tornabuoni, for whom he painted it, was a very
remarkable woman, not only a good mother to her children and a good
wife to Piero, but a poet and exemplar. She survived Piero by thirteen
years and her son Giuliano by five. Botticelli painted her portrait,
which is now in Berlin.

These pictures are the principal work of Botticelli's first period,
which coincides with the five years of Piero's rule and the period
of mourning for him.

He next appears in what many of his admirers find his most fascinating
mood, as a joyous allegorist, the picture of Venus rising from
the sea in this room, the "Primavera" which we shall see at the
Accademia, and the "Mars and Venus" in our National Gallery,
belonging to this epoch. But in order to understand them we must
again go to history. Piero was succeeded in 1469 by his son Lorenzo
the Magnificent, who continued his father's friendship for the young
painter, now twenty-two years of age. In 1474 Lorenzo devised for his
brother Giuliano a tournament in the Piazza of S. Croce very like that
which Piero had given for Lorenzo on the occasion of his betrothal
in 1469; and Botticelli was commissioned by Lorenzo to make pictures
commemorating the event. Verrocchio again helped with the costumes;
Lucrezia Donati again was Queen of the Tournament; but the Queen of
Beauty was the sixteen-year-old bride of Marco Vespucci--the lovely
Simonetta Cattaneo, a lady greatly beloved by all and a close friend
both of Giuliano and Lorenzo.

The praises of Lorenzo's tournament had been sung by Luca Pulci:
Giuliano's were sung by Poliziano, under the title "La Giostra di
Giuliano de' Medici," and it is this poem which Botticelli may be
said to have illustrated, for both poet and artist employ the same
imagery. Thus Poliziano, or Politian (of whom we shall hear more in the
chapter on S. Marco) compares Simonetta to Venus, and in stanzas 100
and 101 speaks of her birth, describing her blown to earth over the
sea by the breath of the Zephyrs, and welcomed there by the Hours,
one of whom offers her a robe. This, Botticelli translates into
exquisite tempera with a wealth of pretty thoughts. The cornflowers
and daisies on the Hour's dress are alone a perennial joy.

Simonetta as Venus has some of the wistfulness of the Madonnas;
and not without reason does Botticelli give her this expression, for
her days were very short. In the "Primavera," which we are to see at
the Accademia, but which must be described here, we find Simonetta
again but we do not see her first. We see first that slender upright
commanding figure, all flowers and youth and conquest, in her lovely
floral dress, advancing over the grass like thistle-down. Never
before in painting had anything been done at once so distinguished
and joyous and pagan as this. For a kindred emotion one had to go to
Greek sculpture, but Botticelli, while his grace and joy are Hellenic,
was intensely modern too: the problems of the Renaissance, the tragedy
of Christianity, equally cloud his brow.

The symbolism of the "Primavera" is interesting. Glorious Spring is
returning to earth--in the presence of Venus--once more to make all
glad, and with her her attendants to dance and sing, and the Zephyrs
to bring the soft breezes; and by Spring Botticelli meant the reign
of Lorenzo, whose tournament motto was "Le temps revient". Simonetta
is again the central figure, and never did Botticelli paint more
exquisitely than here. Her bosom is the prettiest in Florence; the
lining of her robe over her right arm has such green and blue and
gold as never were seen elsewhere; her golden sandals are delicate
as gossamer. Over her head a little cupid hovers, directing his arrow
at Mercury, on the extreme left, beside the three Graces.

In Mercury, who is touching the trees with his caduceus and
bidding them burgeon, some see Giuliano de' Medici, who was not yet
betrothed. But when the picture was painted both Giuliano and Simonetta
were dead: Simonetta first, of consumption, in 1476, and Giuliano, by
stabbing in 1478. Lorenzo, who was at Pisa during Simonetta's illness,
detailed his own physician for her care. On hearing of her death he
walked out into the night and noticed for the first time a brilliant
star. "See," he said, "either the soul of that most gentle lady
hath been transferred into that new star or else hath it been joined
together thereunto." Of Giuliano's end we have read in Chapter II,
and it was Botticelli, whose destinies were so closely bound up with
the Medici, who was commissioned to paint portraits of the murderous
Pazzi to be displayed outside the Palazzo Vecchio.

A third picture in what may be called the tournament period is found by
some in the "Venus and Mars," No. 915, in our National Gallery. Here
Giuliano would be Mars, and Venus either one woman in particular
whom Florence wished him to marry, or all women, typified by one,
trying to lure him from other pre-occupations, such as hunting. To
make her Simonetta is to go too far; for she is not like the Simonetta
of the other pictures, and Simonetta was but recently married and a
very model of fair repute. In No. 916 in the National Gallery is a
"Venus with Cupids" (which might be by Botticelli and might be by that
interesting painter of whom Mr. Berenson has written so attractively
as Amico di Sandro), in which Politian's description of Venus, in
his poem, is again closely followed.

After the tournament pictures we come in Botticelli's career to the
Sixtine Chapel frescoes, and on his return to Florence to other
frescoes, including that lovely one at the Villa Lemmi (then the
Villa Tornabuoni) which is now on the staircase of the Louvre. These
are followed by at least two more Medici pictures--the portrait of
Piero di Lorenzo de' Medici, in this room, No. 1154, the sad-faced
youth with the medal; and the "Pallas and the Centaur" at the Pitti,
an historical record of Lorenzo's success as a diplomatist when he
went to Naples in 1480.

The latter part of Botticelli's life was spent under the influence
of Savonarola and in despair at the wickedness of the world and its
treatment of that prophet. His pictures became wholly religious, but
it was religion without joy. Never capable of disguising the sorrow
that underlies all human happiness--or, as I think of it in looking
at his work, the sense of transience--Botticelli, as age came upon
him, was more than ever depressed. One has the feeling that he was
persuaded that only through devotion and self-negation could peace of
mind be gained, and yet for himself could find none. The sceptic was
too strong in him. Savonarola's eloquence could not make him serene,
however much he may have come beneath its spell. It but served to
increase his melancholy. Hence these wistful despondent Madonnas, all
so conscious of the tragedy before their Child; hence these troubled
angels and shadowed saints.

Savonarola was hanged and burned in 1498, and Botticelli paid
a last tribute to his friend in the picture in this room called
"The Calumny". Under the pretence of merely illustrating a passage
in Lucian, who was one of his favourite authors, Botticelli has
represented the campaign against the great reformer. The hall
represents Florence; the judge (with the ears of an ass) the
Signoria and the Pope. Into these ears Ignorance and Suspicion
are whispering. Calumny, with Envy at her side and tended by Fraud
and Deception, holds a torch in one hand and with the other drags
her victim, who personifies (but with no attempt at a likeness)
Savonarola. Behind are the figures of Remorse, cloaked and miserable,
and Truth, naked and unafraid. The statues in the niches ironically
represent abstract virtues. Everything in the decoration of the palace
points to enlightenment and content; and beyond is the calmest and
greenest of seas.

One more picture was Botticelli to paint, and this also was to
the glory of Savonarola. By good fortune it belongs to the English
people and is No. 1034 in the National Gallery. It has upon it a
Greek inscription in the painter's own hand which runs in English
as follows: "This picture I, Alessandro, painted at the end of the
year 1500, in the troubles of Italy, in the half-time after the time
during the fulfilment of the eleventh of St. John, in the second
woe of the Apocalypse, in the loosing of the devil for three years
and a half. Afterwards he shall be confined, and we shall see him
trodden down, as in this picture." The loosing of the devil was the
three years and a half after Savonarola's execution on May 23rd,
1498, when Florence was mad with reaction from the severity of his
discipline. S. John says, "I will give power unto my two witnesses,
and they shall prophesy"; the painter makes three, Savonarola having
had two comrades with him. The picture was intended to give heart to
the followers of Savonarola and bring promise of ultimate triumph.

After the death of Savonarola, Botticelli became both poor and
infirm. He had saved no money and all his friends were dead--Piero de'
Medici, Lorenzo, Giuliano, Lucrezia, Simonetta, Filippino Lippi, and
Savonarola. He hobbled about on crutches for a while, a pensioner of
the Medici family, and dying at the age of seventy-eight was buried
in Ognissanti, but without a tombstone for fear of desecration by
the enemies of Savonarola's adherents.

Such is the outline of Botticelli's life. We will now look at such
of the pictures in this room as have not been mentioned.

Entering from the Sala di Leonardo, the first picture on the right is
the "Birth of Venus". Then the very typical circular picture--a shape
which has come to be intimately associated with this painter--No. 1289,
"The Madonna of the Pomegranate," one of his most beautiful works,
and possibly yet another designed for Lucrezia Tornabuoni, for the
curl on the forehead of the boy to the left of the Madonna--who is
more than usually troubled--is very like that for which Giuliano de'
Medici was famous. This is a very lovely work, although its colour
is a little depressed. Next is the most remarkable of the Piero de'
Medici pictures, which I have already touched upon--No. 1286, "The
Adoration of the Magi," as different from the Venus as could be:
the Venus so cool and transparent, and this so hot and rich, with
its haughty Florentines and sumptuous cloaks. Above it is No. 23,
a less subtle group--the Madonna, the Child and angels--difficult to
see. And then comes the beautiful "Magnificat," which we know to have
been painted for Lucrezia Tornabuoni and which shall here introduce a
passage from Pater: "For with Botticelli she too, although she holds in
her hands the 'Desire of all nations,' is one of those who are neither
for Jehovah nor for His enemies; and her choice is on her face. The
white light on it is cast up hard and cheerless from below, as when
snow lies upon the ground, and the children look up with surprise
at the strange whiteness of the ceiling. Her trouble is in the very
caress of the mysterious child, whose gaze is always far from her,
and who has already that sweet look of devotion which men have never
been able altogether to love, and which still makes the born saint an
object almost of suspicion to his earthly brethren. Once, indeed, he
guides her hand to transcribe in a book the words of her exaltation,
the 'Ave,' and the 'Magnificat,' and the 'Gaude Maria,' and the young
angels, glad to rouse her for a moment from her devotion, are eager
to hold the ink-horn and to support the book. But the pen almost
drops from her hand, and the high cold words have no meaning for her,
and her true children are those others among whom, in her rude home,
the intolerable honour came to her, with that look of wistful inquiry
on their irregular faces which you see in startled animals--gipsy
children, such as those who, in Apennine villages, still hold out
their long brown arms to beg of you, with their thick black hair
nicely combed, and fair white linen on their sunburnt throats."

The picture's frame is that which was made for it four hundred and
fifty years ago: by whom, I cannot say, but it was the custom at that
time for the painter himself to be responsible also for the frame.

The glory of the end wall is the "Annunciation," reproduced in this
book. The picture is a work that may perhaps not wholly please at
first, the cause largely of the vermilion on the floor, but in the
end conquers. The hands are among the most beautiful in existence,
and the landscape, with its one tree and its fairy architecture, is a
continual delight. Among "Annunciations," as among pictures, it stands
very high. It has more of sophistication than most: the Virgin not
only recognizes the honour, but the doom, which the painter himself
foreshadows in the predella, where Christ is seen rising from the
grave. None of Fra Angelico's simple radiance here, and none of Fra
Lippo Lippi's glorified matter-of-fact. Here is tragedy. The painting
of the Virgin's head-dress is again marvellous.

Next the "Annunciation" on the left is, to my eyes, one of Botticelli's
most attractive works: No. 1303, just the Madonna and Child again,
in a niche, with roses climbing behind them: the Madonna one of his
youngest, and more placid and simple than most, with more than a hint
of the Verrocchio type in her face. To the "School of Botticelli" this
is sometimes attributed: it may be rightly. Its pendant is another
"Madonna and Child," No. 76, more like Lippo Lippi and very beautiful
in its darker graver way.

The other wall has the "Fortitude," the "Calumny," and the two little
"Judith and Holofernes" pictures. Upon the "Fortitude," to which I
have already alluded, it is well to look at Ruskin, who, however,
was not aware that the artist intended any symbolic reference to
the character and career of Piero de' Medici. The criticism is in
"Mornings in Florence" and it is followed by some fine pages on the
"Judith". The "Justice," "Prudence," and "Charity" of the Pollaiuolo
brothers, belonging to the same series as the "Fortitude," are also
here; but after the "Fortitude" one does not look at them.



CHAPTER XI

the Uffizi IV: Remaining Rooms

S. Zenobius--Piero della Francesca--Federigo da Montefeltro--Melozzo
da Forli--The Tribuna--Raphael--Re-arrangement--The gems--The
self-painted portraits--A northern room--Hugo van der Goes--
Tommaso Portinari--The sympathetic Memling--Rubens riotous--Vittoria
della Rovere--Baroccio--Honthorst--Giovanni the indiscreet--The
Medusa--Medici miniatures--Hercules Seghers--The Sala di Niobe--
Beautiful antiques.

Passing from the Sala di Botticelli through the Sala di Lorenzo
Monaco and the first Tuscan rooms to the corridor, we come to
the second Tuscan room, which is dominated by Andrea del Sarto
(1486-1531), whose "Madonna and Child," with "S. Francis and S. John
the Evangelist"--No. 112--is certainly the favourite picture here,
as it is, in reproduction, in so many homes; but, apart from the
Child, I like far better the "S. Giacomo"--No. 1254--so sympathetic
and rich in colour, which is reproduced in this volume. Another
good Andrea is No. 93--a soft and misty apparition of Christ to
the Magdalen. The Sodoma (1477-1549) on the easel--"S. Sebastian,"
No. 1279--is very beautiful in its Leonardesque hues and romantic
landscape, and the two Ridolfo Ghirlandaios (1483-1561) near it are
interesting as representing, with much hard force, scenes in the story
of S. Zenobius, of Florence, of whom we read in chapter II. In one he
restores life to the dead child in the midst of a Florentine crowd;
in the other his bier, passing the Baptistery, reanimates the dead
tree. Giotto's tower and the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio are to be
seen on the left. A very different picture is the Cosimo Rosselli,
No. 1280 his, a comely "Madonna and Saints," with a motherly thought
in the treatment of the bodice.

Among the other pictures is a naked sprawling scene of bodies and
limbs by Cosimo I's favourite painter, Bronzino (1502-1572), called
"The Saviour in Hell," and two nice Medici children from the same
brush, which was kept busy both on the living and ancestral lineaments
of that family; two Filippino Lippis, both fine if with a little
too much colour for this painter: one--No. 1257--approaching the
hotness of a Ghirlandaio carpet piece, but a great feat of crowded
activity; the other, No. 1268, having a beautiful blue Madonna and
a pretty little cherub with a red book. Piero di Cosimo is here,
religious and not mythological; and here are a very straightforward
and satisfying Mariotto Albertinelli--the "Virgin and S. Elizabeth,"
very like a Fra Bartolommeo; a very rich and beautiful "Deposition"
by Botticini, one of Verrocchio's pupils, with a gay little predella
underneath it, and a pretty "Holy Family" by Franciabigio. But Andrea
remains the king of the walls.

From this Sala a little room is gained which I advise all
tired visitors to the Uffizi to make their harbour of refuge and
recuperation; for it has only three or four pictures in it and three
or four pieces of sculpture and some pleasant maps and tapestry
on the walls, and from its windows you look across the brown-red
tiles to S. Miniato. The pictures, although so few, are peculiarly
attractive, being the work of two very rare hands, Piero della
Francesca (? 1398-1492) and Melozzo da Forli (1438-1494). Melozzo
has here a very charming Annunciation in two panels, the fascination
of which I cannot describe. That they are fascinating there is,
however, no doubt. We have symbolical figures by him in our National
Gallery--again hanging next to Piero della Francesca--but they are not
the equal of these in charm, although very charming. These grow more
attractive with every visit: the eager advancing angel with his lily,
and the timid little Virgin in her green dress, with folded hands.

The two Pieros are, of course, superb. Piero never painted anything
that was not distinguished and liquid, and here he gives us of
his best: portraits of Federigo da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, and
Battista, his second Duchess, with classical scenes behind them. Piero
della Francesca has ever been one of my favourite painters, and here he
is wholly a joy. Of his works Florence has but few, since he was not
a Florentine, nor did he work here, being engaged chiefly at Urbino,
Ferrara, Arezzo, and Rome. His life ended sadly, for he became totally
blind. In addition to his painting he was a mathematician of much
repute. The Duke of Urbino here depicted is Federigo da Montefeltro,
who ruled from 1444 to 1482, and in 1459 married as his second wife
a daughter of Alessandro Sforza, of Pesaro, the wedding being the
occasion of Piero's pictures. The duke stands out among the many
Italian lords of that time as a humane and beneficent ruler and
collector, and eager to administer well. He was a born fighter, and it
was owing to the loss of his right eye and the fracture of his noble
old nose that he is seen here in such a determined profile against
the lovely light over the Umbrian hills. The symbolical chariots in
the landscape at the back represent respectively the Triumph of Fame
(the Duke's) and the Triumph of Chastity (that of the Duchess). The
Duke's companions are Victory, Prudence, Fortitude, Justice, and
Temperance; the little Duchess's are Love, Hope, Faith, Charity,
and Innocence; and if these are not exquisite pictures I never saw any.

The statues in the room should not be missed, particularly the little
Genius of Love, the Bacchus and Ampelos, and the spoilt little comely
boy supposed to represent--and quite conceivably--the infant Nero.

Crossing the large Tuscan room again, we come to a little narrow room
filled with what are now called cabinet pictures: far too many to
study properly, but comprising a benignant old man's head, No. 1167,
which is sometimes called a Filippino Lippi and sometimes a Masaccio,
a fragment of a fresco; a boy from the serene perfect hand of Perugino,
No. 1217; two little panels by Fra Bartolommeo--No. 1161--painted for a
tabernacle to hold a Donatello relief and representing the Circumcision
and Nativity, in colours, and at the back a pretty Annunciation in
monochrome; No. 1235, on the opposite wall, a very sweet Mother and
Child by the same artist; a Perseus liberating Andromeda, by Piero
di Cosimo, No. 1312; two or three Lorenzo di Credis; two or three
Alloris; a portrait of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, by Antonio Pollaiuolo;
and three charming little scenes from the lives of S. John the Baptist
and the Virgin, by Fra Angelico, which belong properly to the predella
of an altar-piece that we saw in the first room we entered--No. 1290,
"The Coronation of the Virgin". No. 1162 has the gayest green dress
in it imaginable.

And here we enter the Tribuna, which is to the Uffizi what the Salon
Carré is to the Louvre: the special treasure-room of the gallery,
holding its most valuable pictures. But to-day there are as good works
outside it as in; for the Michelangelo has been moved to another
room, and Botticelli (to name no other) is not represented here at
all. Probably the statue famous as the Venus de' Medici would be
considered the Tribuna's chief possession; but not by me. Nor should
I vote either for Titian's Venus. In sculpture I should choose rather
the "Knife-sharpener," and among the pictures Raphael's "Madonna del
Cardellino," No. 1129. But this is not to suggest that everything
is not a masterpiece, for it is. Beginning at the door leading from
the room of the little pictures, we find, on our left, Raphael's
"Ignota," No. 1120, so rich and unfeeling, and then Francia's portrait
of Evangelista Scappi, so rich and real and a picture that one never
forgets. Raphael's Julius II comes next, not so powerful as the version
in the Pitti, and above that Titian's famous Venus. In Perugino's
portrait of Francesco delle Opere, No. 287, we find an evening sky
and landscape still more lovely than Francia's. This Francesco was
brother of Giovanni delle Corniole, a protégé of Lorenzo de' Medici,
famous as a carver of intaglios, whose portrait of Savonarola in
this medium, now preserved in the Uffizi, in the Gem Room, was said
by Michelangelo to carry art to its farthest possible point.

A placid and typical Perugino--the Virgin and two saints--comes next,
and then a northern air sweeps in with Van Dyck's Giovanni di Montfort,
now darkening into gloom but very fine and commanding. Titian's second
Venus is above, for which his daughter Lavinia acted as model (the
Venus of the other version being possibly the Marchesa della Rovere),
and under it is the only Luini in the Uffizi, unmistakably from the
sweet hand and full of Leonardesque influence. Beneath this is a rich
and decorative work of the Veronese school, a portrait of Elisabetta
Gonzaga, with another evening sky. Then we go north again, to Dürer's
Adoration of the Magi, a picture full of pleasant detail--a little
mountain town here, a knight in difficulties with his horse there,
two butterflies close to the Madonna--and interesting also for the
treatment of the main theme in Dürer's masterly careful way; and then
to Spain to Spagnoletto's "S. Jerome" in sombre chiaroscuro; then north
again to a painfully real Christ crowned with thorns, by Lucas van
Leyden, and the mousy, Reynoldsy, first wife of Peter Paul Rubens,
while a Van Dyck portrait under a superb Domenichino and an "Adam
and Eve" by Lucas Cranach complete the northern group. And so we come
to the two Correggios--so accomplished and rich and untouching--all
delightful virtuosity without feeling. The favourite is, of course,
No. 1134, for its adorable Baby, whose natural charm atones for its
theatrical Mother.

On the other side of the door is No. 1129, the perfect "Madonna
del Cardellino" of Raphael, so called from the goldfinch that the
little boys are caressing. This, one is forced to consider one of the
perfect pictures of the world, even though others may communicate more
pleasure. The landscape is so exquisite and the mild sweetness of the
whole work so complete; and yet, although the technical mastery is
almost thrilling, the "Madonna del Pozzo" by Andrea del Sarto's friend
Franciabigio, close by--No. 1125--arouses infinitely livelier feelings
in the observer, so much movement and happiness has it. Raphael is
perfect but cold; Franciabigio is less perfect (although exceedingly
accomplished) but warm with life. The charm of this picture is as
notable as the skill of Raphael's: it is wholly joyous, and the little
Madonna really once lived. Both are reproduced in this volume.

Raphael's neighbouring youthful "John the Baptist" is almost a
Giorgione for richness, but is as truly Raphael as the Sebastian
del Piombo, once (like the Franciabigio also) called a Raphael, is
not. How it came to be considered Raphael, except that there may be
a faint likeness to the Fornarina, is a mystery.

The rooms next the Tribuna have for some time been under
reconstruction, and of these I say little, nor of what pictures are
to be placed there. But with the Tribuna, in any case, the collection
suddenly declines, begins to crumble. The first of these rooms, in the
spring of this year, 1912, was opened with a number of small Italian
paintings; but they are probably only temporarily there. Chief among
them was a Parmigianino, a Boltraffio, a pretty little Guido Reni,
a Cosimo Tura, a Lorenzo Costa, but nothing really important.

In the tiny Gem Room at the end of the corridor are wonders of
the lapidary's art--and here is the famous intaglio portrait of
Savonarola--but they want better treatment. The vases and other
ornaments should have the light all round them, as in the Galerie
d'Apollon at the Louvre. These are packed together in wall cases and
are hard to see.

Passing through the end corridor, where the beautiful Matrona reclines
so placidly on her couch against the light, and where we have such
pleasant views of the Ponte Vecchio, the Trinita bridge, the Arno,
and the Apennines, so fresh and real and soothing after so much paint,
we come to the rooms containing the famous collection of self-painted
portraits, which, moved hither from Rome, has been accumulating
in the Uffizi for many years and is still growing, to be invited
to contribute to it being one of the highest honours a painter can
receive. The portraits occupy eight rooms and a passage. Though the
collection is historically and biographically valuable, it contains for
every interesting portrait three or four dull ones, and thus becomes
something of a weariness. Among the best are Lucas Cranach, Anton More,
Van Dyck, Rembrandt (three), Rubens, Seybold, Jordaens, Reynolds,
and Romney, all of which remind us of Michelangelo's dry comment,
"Every painter draws himself well". Among the most interesting to us,
wandering in Florence, are the two Andreas, one youthful and the other
grown fatter than one likes and very different from the melancholy
romantic figure in the Pitti; Verrocchio, by Lorenzo di Credi; Carlo
Dolci, surprising by its good sense and humour; Raphael, angelic,
wistful, and weak; Tintoretto, old and powerful; and Jacopo Bassano,
old and simple. Among the moderns, Corot's portrait of himself is
one of the most memorable, but Fantin Latour, Flandrin, Leon Bonnat,
and Lenbach are all strong and modest; which one cannot say of our
own Leighton. Among the later English heads Orchardson's is notable,
but Mr. Sargent's is disappointing.

We now come to one of the most remarkable rooms in the gallery, where
every picture is a gem; but since all are northern pictures, imported,
I give no reproductions. This is the Sala di Van der Goes, so called
from the great work here, the triptych, painted in 1474 to 1477 by
Hugo van der Goes, who died in 1482, and was born at Ghent or Leyden
about 1405. This painter, of whose genius there can be no question,
is supposed to have been a pupil of the Van Eycks. Not much is known
of him save that he painted at Bruges and Ghent and in 1476 entered
a convent at Brussels where he was allowed to dine with distinguished
strangers who came to see him and where he drank so much wine that his
natural excitability turned to insanity. He seems, however, to have
recovered, and if ever a picture showed few signs of a deranged or
inflamed mind it is this, which was painted for the agent of the Medici
bank at Bruges, Tommaso Portinari, who presented it to the Hospital of
S. Maria Nuova in his native city of Florence, which had been founded
by his ancestor Folco, the father of Dante's Beatrice. The left panel
shows Tommaso praying with his two sons Antonio and Pigallo, the right
his wife Maria Portinari and their adorably quaint little daughter
with her charming head-dress and costume. The flowers in the centre
panel are among the most beautiful things in any Florentine picture:
not wild and wayward like Luca Signorelli's, but most exquisitely
done: irises, red lilies, columbines and dark red clove pinks--all
unexpected and all very unlikely to be in such a wintry landscape at
all. On the ground are violets. The whole work is grave, austere,
cool, and as different as can be from the Tuscan spirit; yet it is
said to have had a deep influence on the painters of the time and
must have drawn throngs to the Hospital to see it.

The other Flemish and German pictures in the room are  all remarkable
and all warmer in tone. No. 906, an unknown work, is perhaps the
finest: a Crucifixion, which might have borrowed its richness from
the Carpaccio, we saw in the Venetian room. There is a fine Adoration
of the Magi, by Gerard David (1460-1523); an unknown portrait of
Pierantonio Baroncelli and his wife, with a lovely landscape; a jewel
of paint by Hans Memling (1425-1492)--No. 703--the Madonna Enthroned;
a masterpiece of drawing by Dürer, "Calvary"; an austere and poignant
Transportation of Christ to the Sepulchre, by Roger van der Weyden
(1400-1464); and several very beautiful portraits by Memling, notably
Nos. 769 and 780 with their lovely evening light. Memling, indeed,
I never liked better than here. Other fine pictures are a Spanish
prince by Lucas van Leyden; an old Dutch scholar by an artist unknown,
No. 784; and a young husband and wife by Joost van Cleef the Elder,
and a Breughel the Elder, like an old Crome--a beauty--No. 928. The
room is interesting both for itself and also as showing how the
Flemish brushes were working at the time that so many of the great
Italians were engaged on similar themes.

After the cool, self-contained, scientific work of these northerners
it is a change to enter the Sala di Rubens and find that luxuriant
giant--their compatriot, but how different!--once more. In the Uffizi,
Rubens seems more foreign, far, than any one, so fleshly pagan is
he. In Antwerp Cathedral his "Descent from the Cross," although
its bravura is, as always with him, more noticeable than its piety,
might be called a religious picture, but I doubt if even that would
seem so here. At any rate his Uffizi works are all secular, while
his "Holy Family" in the Pitti is merely domestic and robust. His
Florentine masterpieces are the two Henri IV pictures in this room,
"Henri IV at Ivry," magnificent if not war, and "Henri's entry into
Paris after Ivry," with its confusing muddle of naked warriors and
spears. Only Rubens could have painted these spirited, impossible,
glorious things, which for all their greatness send one's thoughts
back longingly to the portrait of his wife, in the Tribuna, while
No. 216--the Bacchanale--is so coarse as almost to send one's feet
there too.

Looking round the room, after Rubens has been dismissed, it is too
evident that the best of the Uffizi collection is behind us. There
are interesting portraits here, but biographically rather than
artistically. Here are one or two fine Sustermans' (1597-1681),
that imported painter whom we shall find in such rare form at the
Pitti. Here, for example, is Ferdinand II, who did so much for the
Uffizi and so little for Galileo; and his cousin and wife Vittoria
della Rovere, daughter of Claudia de' Medici (whose portrait, No. 763,
is on the easel), and Federigo della Rovere, Duke of Urbino. This
silly, plump lady had been married at the age of fourteen, and she
brought her husband a little money and many pictures from Urbino,
notably those delightful portraits of an earlier Duke and Duchess of
Urbino by Piero della Francesca, and also the two Titian "Venuses"
in the Tribuna. Ferdinand II and his Grand Duchess were on bad terms
for most of their lives, and she behaved foolishly, and brought up
her son Cosimo III foolishly, and altogether was a misfortune to
Florence. Sustermans the painter she held in the highest esteem, and
in return he painted her not only as herself but in various unlikely
characters, among them a Vestal Virgin and even the Madonna.

Here also is No. 196, Van Dyck's portrait of Margherita of Lorraine,
whose daughter became Cosimo III's wife--a mischievous, weak face
but magnificently painted; and No. 1536, a vividly-painted elderly
widow by Jordaens (1593-1678); and on each side of the outrageous
Rubens a distinguished Dutch gentleman and lady by the placid,
refined Mierevelt.

The two priceless rooms devoted to Iscrizioni come next, but we
will finish the pictures first and therefore pass on to the Sala di
Baroccio. Federigo Baroccio (1528-1612) is one of the later painters
for whom I, at any rate, cannot feel any enthusiasm. His position in
the Uffizi is due rather to the circumstance that he was a protégé of
the Cardinal della Rovere at Rome, whose collection came here, than to
his genius. This room again is of interest rather historically than
artistically. Here, for example, are some good Medici portraits by
Bronzino, among them the famous Eleanora of Toledo, wife of Cosimo I,
in a rich brocade (in which she was buried), with the little staring
Ferdinand I beside her. Eleanora, as we saw in chapter V. was the first
mistress of the Pitti palace, and the lady who so disliked Cellini and
got him into such trouble through his lying tongue. Bronzino's little
Maria de' Medici--No. 1164--is more pleasing, for the other picture has
a sinister air. This child, the first-born of Cosimo I and Eleanora,
died when only sixteen. Baroccio has a fine portrait--Francesco Maria
II, last Duke of Urbino, and the grandfather of the Vittoria della
Rovere whom we saw in the Sala di Rubens. Here also is a portrait
of Lorenzo the Magnificent by Vasari, but it is of small value
since Vasari was not born till after Lorenzo's death. The Galileo
by Sustermans--No. 163--on the contrary would be from life; and
after the Tribuna portrait of Rubens' first wife it is interesting
to find here his pleasant portrait of Helen Fourment, his second. To
my eyes two of the most attractive pictures in the room are the Young
Sculptor--No. 1266--by Bronzino, and the version of Leonardo's S. Anne
at the Louvre by Andrea Salaino of Milan (1483?-1520?). I like also
the hints of tenderness of Bernardino Luini which break through the
hardness of the Aurelio Luini picture--No. 204. For the rest there are
some sickly Guido Renis and Carlo Dolcis and a sentimental Guercino.

But the most popular works--on Sundays--are the two Gerard Honthorsts,
and not without reason, for they are dramatic and bold and vivid,
and there is a Baby in each that goes straight to the maternal
heart. No. 157 is perhaps the more satisfying, but I have more reason
to remember the larger one--the Adoration of the Shepherds--for I
watched a copyist produce a most remarkable replica of it in something
under a week, on the same scale. He was a short, swarthy man with
a neck like a bull's, and he carried the task off with astonishing
brio, never drawing a line, finishing each part as he came to it, and
talking to a friend or an official the whole time. Somehow one felt him
to be precisely the type of copyist that Gherardo della Notte ought
to have. This painter was born at Utrecht in 1590 but went early to
Italy, and settling in Rome devoted himself to mastering the methods
of Amerighi, better known as Caravaggio (1569-1609), who specialized
in strong contrasts of light and shade. After learning all he could
in Rome, Honthorst returned to Holland and made much money and fame,
for his hand was swift and sure. Charles I engaged him to decorate
Whitehall. He died in 1656. These two Honthorsts are, as I say, the
most popular of the pictures on Sunday, when the Uffizi is free; but
their supremacy is challenged by the five inlaid tables, one of which,
chiefly in lapis lazuli, must be the bluest thing on earth.

Passing for the present the Sala di Niobe, we come to the Sala di
Giovanni di San Giovanni, which is given to a second-rate painter who
was born in 1599 and died in 1636. His best work is a fresco at the
Badia of Fiesole. Here he has some theatrical things, including one
picture which sends English ladies out blushing. Here also are some
Lelys, including "Nelly Gwynn". Next are two rooms, one leading from
the other, given to German and Flemish pictures and to miniatures,
both of which are interesting. In the first are more Dürers, and
that alone would make it a desirable resort. Here is a "Virgin and
Child"--No. 851--very naive and homely, and the beautiful portrait of
his father--No. 766---a symphony of brown and green. Less attractive
works from the same hand are the "Apostle Philip"--No. 777--and
"S. Giacomo Maggiore," an old man very coarsely painted by comparison
with the artist's father. Here also is a very beautiful portrait
of Richard Southwell, by Holbein, with the peacock-green background
that we know so well and always rejoice to see; a typical candle-light
Schalcken, No. 800; several golden Poelenburghs; an anonymous portrait
of Virgilius von Hytta of Zuicham, No. 784; a clever smiling lady by
Sustermans, No. 709; the Signora Puliciani and her husband, No. 699;
a rather crudely coloured Rubens--"Venus and Adonis"--No. 812; the
same artist's "Three Graces," in monochrome, very naked; and some
quaint portraits by Lucas Cranach.

But no doubt to many persons the most enchaining picture here is
the Medusa's head, which used to be called a Leonardo and quite
satisfied Ruskin of its genuineness, but is now attributed to the
Flemish school. The head, at any rate, would seem to be very similar
to that of which Vasari speaks, painted by Leonardo for a peasant,
but retained by his father. Time has dealt hardly with the paint, and
one has to study minutely before Medusa's horrors are visible. Whether
Leonardo's or not, it is not uninteresting to read how the picture
affected Shelley when he saw it here in 1819:--


    ... Its Horror and its Beauty are divine.
    Upon its lips and eyelids seem to lie
    Loveliness like a shadow, from which shine,
    Fiery and lurid, struggling underneath,
    The agonies of anguish and of death.


The little room leading from this one should be neglected by no one
interested in Medicean history, for most of the family is here, in
miniature, by Bronzino's hand. Here also are miniatures by other great
painters, such as Pourbus, Guido Reni, Bassano, Clouet, Holbein. Look
particularly at No. 3382, a woman with brown hair, in purple--a most
fascinating little picture. The Ignota in No. 3348 might easily be
Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I of England. The other exhibits
are copies in miniature of famous pictures, notable among them a
Raphael--No. 3386--and a Breughel--No. 3445--while No. 3341, the
robing of a monk, is worth attention.

We come now to the last pictures of the collection--in three little
rooms at the end, near the bronze sleeping Cupid. Those in the first
room were being rearranged when I was last here; the others contain
Dutch works notable for a few masterpieces. There are too many
Poelenburghs, but the taste shown as a whole is good. Perhaps to
the English enthusiast for painting the fine landscape by Hercules
Seghers will, in view of the recent agitation over Lord Lansdowne's
Rembrandt, "The Mill,"--ascribed in some quarters to Seghers--be the
most interesting picture of all. It is a sombre, powerful scene of
rugged coast which any artist would have been proud to sign; but it
in no way recalls "The Mill's" serene strength. Among the best of
its companions are a very good Terburg, a very good Metsu, and an
extremely beautiful Ruysdael.

And so we are at the end of the pictures--but only to return again and
again--and are not unwilling to fall into the trap of the official who
sits here, and allow him to unlock the door behind the Laocöon group
and enjoy what he recommends as a "bella vista" from the open space,
which turns out to be the roof of the Loggia de' Lanzi. From this
high point one may see much of Florence and its mountains, while,
on looking down, over the coping, one finds the busy Piazza della
Signoria below, with all its cabs and wayfarers.

Returning to the gallery, we come quickly on the right to the first
of the neglected statuary rooms, the beautiful Sala di Niobe, which
contains some interesting Medicean and other tapestries, and the
sixteen statues of Niobe and her children from the Temple of Apollo,
which the Cardinal Ferdinand de' Medici acquired, and which were for
many years at the Villa Medici at Rome. A suggested reconstruction
of the group will be found by the door. I cannot pretend to a deep
interest in the figures, but I like to be in the room. The famous
Medicean vase is in the middle of it. Sculpture more ingratiating
is close by, in the two rooms given to Iscrizioni: a collection
of priceless antiques which are not only beautiful but peculiarly
interesting in that they can be compared with the work of Donatello,
Verrocchio, and other of the Renaissance sculptors. For in such a case
comparisons are anything but odious and become fascinating. In the
first room there is, for example, a Mercury, isolated on the left,
in marble, who is a blood relation of Donatello's bronze David in
the Bargello; and certain reliefs of merry children, on the right,
low down, as one approaches the second room, are cousins of the same
sculptor's cantoria romps. Not that Donatello ever reproduced the
antique spirit as Michelangelo nearly did in his Bacchus, and Sansovino
absolutely did in his Bacchus, both at the Bargello: Donatello was
of his time, and the spirit of his time animates his creations, but
he had studied the Greek art in Rome and profited by his lessons,
and his evenly-balanced humane mind had a warm corner for pagan
joyfulness. Among other statues in this first room is a Sacerdotessa,
wearing a marble robe with long folds, whose hands can be seen through
the drapery. Opposite the door are Bacchus and Ampelos, superbly
pagan, while a sleeping Cupid is most lovely. Among the various fine
heads is one of Cicero, of an Unknown--No. 377--and of Homer in bronze
(called by the photographers Aristophanes). But each thing in turn is
almost the best. The trouble is that the Uffizi is so vast, and the
Renaissance seems to be so eminently the only proper study of mankind
when one is here, that to attune oneself to the enjoyment of antique
sculpture needs a special effort which not all are ready to make.

In the centre of the next room is the punctual Hermaphrodite without
which no large Continental gallery is complete. But more worthy of
attention is the torso of a faun on the left, on a revolving pedestal
which (unlike those in the Bargello, as we shall discover) really does
revolve and enables you to admire the perfect back. There is also a
torso in basalt or porphyry which one should study from all points,
and on the walls some wonderful portions of a frieze from the Ara
Pacis, erected in Rome, B.C. 139, with wonderful figures of men,
women, and children on it. Among the heads is a colossal Alexander,
very fine indeed, a beautiful Antoninus, a benign and silly Roman
lady in whose existence one can quite believe, and a melancholy
Seneca. Look also at Nos. 330 and 332, on the wall: 330, a charming
genius, carrying one of Jove's thunderbolts; and 332, a boy who is
sheer Luca della Robbia centuries before his birth.

I ought to add that, in addition to the various salons in the Uffizi,
the long corridors are hung with pictures too, in chronological order,
the earliest of all being to the right of the entrance door, and in
the corridors there is also some admirable statuary. But the pictures
here, although not the equals of those in the rooms, receive far too
little attention, while the sculpture receives even less, whether the
beutiful full-length athletes or the reliefs on the cisterns, several
of which have riotous Dionysian processions. On the stairs, too, are
some very beautiful works; while at the top, in the turnstile room, is
the original of the boar which Tacca copied in bronze for the Mercato
Nuovo, and just outside it are the Medici who were chiefly concerned
with the formation of the collection. On the first landing, nearest
the ground, is a very beautiful and youthful Bacchus. The ceilings
of the Uffizi rooms and corridors also are painted, thoughtfully
and dexterously, in the Pompeian manner; but there are limits to the
receptive capacity of travellers' eyes, and I must plead guilty to
consistently neglecting them.



CHAPTER XII

"Aërial Fiesole"

Andrea del Sarto--Fiesole sights--The Villa Palmieri
and the "Decameron"--Botticini's picture in the National
Gallery--S. Francesco--The Roman amphitheatre--The Etruscan museum--A
sculptor's walk--The Badia di Fiesole--Brunelleschi again--Giovanni
di San Giovanni.

After all these pictures, how about a little climbing? From so many
windows in Florence, along so many streets, from so many loggias and
towers, and perhaps, above all, from the Piazzale di Michelangelo,
Fiesole is to be seen on her hill, with the beautiful campanile of
her church in the dip between the two eminences, that very soon one
comes to feel that this surely is the promised land. Florence lies
so low, and the delectable mountain is so near and so alluring. But
I am not sure that to dream of Fiesole as desirable, and to murmur
its beautiful syllables, is not best.


     Let me sit
Here by the window with your hand in mine,
And look a half-hour forth on Fiesole


--that was Andrea's way and not an unwise one. For Fiesole at
nearer view can easily disappoint. It is beautifully set on its
hill and it has a fascinating past; but the journey thither on
foot is very wearisome, by the electric tram vexatious and noisy,
and in a horse-drawn carriage expensive and cruel; and when you
are there you become once more a tourist without alleviation and
are pestered by beggars, and by nice little girls who ought to
know better, whose peculiar importunacy it is to thrust flowers
into the hand or buttonhole without any denial. What should have
been a mountain retreat from the city has become a kind of Devil's
Dyke. But if one is resolute, and, defying all, walks up to the
little monastery of S. Francesco at the very top of the hill, one
may rest almost undisturbed, with Florence in the valley below, and
gardens and vineyards undulating beneath, and a monk or two ascending
or descending the steps, and three or four picture-postcard hawkers
gambling in a corner, and lizards on the wall. Here it is good to be
in the late afternoon, when the light is mellowing; and if you want
tea there is a little loggia a few yards down this narrow steep path
where it may be found. How many beautiful villas in which one could
be happy sunning oneself among the lizards lie between this point
and Florence! Who, sitting here, can fail to think that?

In walking to Fiesole one follows the high walls of the Villa Palmieri,
which is now very private American property, but is famous for ever as
the first refuge of Boccaccio's seven young women and three young men
when they fled from plague-stricken Florence in 1348 and told tales for
ten halcyon days. It is now generally agreed that if Boccaccio had any
particular house in his mind it was this. It used to be thought that
the Villa Poggio Gherardo, Mrs. Ross's beautiful home on the way to
Settignano, was the first refuge, and the Villa Palmieri the second,
but the latest researches have it that the Palmieri was the first and
the Podere della Fonte, or Villa di Boccaccio, as it is called, near
Camerata, a little village below S. Domenico, the other. The Villa
Palmieri has another and somewhat different historical association,
for it was there that Queen Victoria resided for a while in 1888. But
the most interesting thing of all about it is the circumstance that
it was the home of Matteo Palmieri, the poet, and Botticelli's friend
and fellow-speculator on the riddle of life. Palmieri was the author
of a remarkable poem called "La Citta della Vita" (The City of Life)
which developed a scheme of theology that had many attractions to
Botticelli's curious mind. The poem was banned by Rome, although
not until after its author's death. In our National Gallery is a
picture which used to be considered Botticelli's--No. 1126, "The
Assumption of the Virgin"--especially as it is mentioned with some
particularity by Vasari, together with the circumstance that the
poet and painter devised it in collaboration, in which the poem is
translated into pigment. As to the theology, I say nothing, nor as to
its new ascription to Botticini; but the picture has a greater interest
for us in that it contains a view of Florence with its wall of towers
around it in about 1475. The exact spot where the painter sat has been
identified by Miss Stokes in "Six Months in the Apennines". On the
left immediately below the painter's vantage-ground is the Mugnone,
with a bridge over it. On the bank in front is the Villa Palmieri,
and on the picture's extreme left is the Badia of Fiesole.

On leaving S. Domenico, if still bent on walking, one should keep
straight on and not follow the tram lines to the right. This is the
old and terribly steep road which Lorenzo the Magnificent and his
friends Politian and Pico della Mirandola had to travel whenever they
visited the Medici villa, just under Fiesole, with its drive lined with
cypresses. Here must have been great talk and much conviviality. It
is now called the Villa McCalmont.

Once at Fiesole, by whatever means you reach it, do not neglect to
climb the monastery steps to the very top. It is a day of climbing,
and a hundred or more steps either way mean nothing now. For here
is a gentle little church with swift, silent monks in it, and a few
flowers in bowls, and a religious picture by that strange Piero di
Cosimo whose heart was with the gods in exile; and the view of Monte
Ceceri, on the other side of Fiesole, seen through the cypresses here,
which could not be better in disposition had Benozzo Gozzoli himself
arranged them, is very striking and memorable.

Fiesole's darling son is Mino the sculptor--the "Raphael of the
chisel"--whose radiant Madonnas and children and delicate tombs may
be seen here and there all over Florence. The piazza is named after
him; he is celebrated on a marble slab outside the museum, where all
the famous names of the vicinity may be read too; and in the church
is one of his most charming groups and finest heads. They are in a
little chapel on the right of the choir. The head is that of Bishop
Salutati, humorous, wise, and benign, and the group represents the
adoration of a merry little Christ by a merry little S. John and
others. As for the church itself, it is severe and cool, with such
stone columns in it as must last for ever.

But the main interest of Fiesole to most people is not the
cypress-covered hill of S. Francesco; not the view from the summit;
not the straw mementoes; not the Mino relief in the church; but
the Roman arena. The excavators have made of this a very complete
place. One can stand at the top of the steps and reconstruct it
all--the audience, the performance, the performers. A very little time
spent on building would be needed to restore the amphitheatre to its
original form. Beyond it are baths, and in a hollow the remains of a
temple with the altar where it ever was; and then one walks a little
farther and is on the ancient Etruscan wall, built when Fiesole was an
Etruscan fortified hill city. So do the centuries fall away here! But
everywhere, among the ancient Roman stones so massive and exact,
and the Etruscan stones, are the wild flowers which Luca Signorelli
painted in that picture in the Uffizi which I love so much.

After the amphitheatre one visits the Museum--with the same ticket--a
little building filled with trophies of the spade. There is nothing
very wonderful--nothing to compare with the treasures of the
Archaeological Museum in Florence--but it is well worth a visit.

On leaving the Museum on the last occasion that I was there--in
April--I walked to Settignano. The road for a while is between
houses, for Fiesole stretches a long way farther than one suspects,
very high, looking over the valley of the Mugnone; and then after a
period between pine trees and grape-hyacinths one turns to the right
and begins to descend. Until Poggio del Castello, a noble villa,
on an isolated eminence, the descent is very gradual, with views of
Florence round the shoulder of Monte Ceceri; but afterwards the road
winds, to ease the fall, and the wayfarer turns off into the woods and
tumbles down the hill by a dry water-course, amid crags and stones,
to the beginnings of civilization again, at the Via di Desiderio da
Settignano, a sculptor who stands to his native town in precisely
the same relation as Mino to his.

Settignano is a mere village, with villas all about it, and
the thing to remember there is not only that Desiderio was born
there but that Michelangelo's foster-mother was the wife of a
local stone-cutter--stone-cutting at that time being the staple
industry. On the way back to Florence in the tram, one passes on the
right a gateway surmounted by statues of the poets, the Villa Poggio
Gherardo, of which I have spoken earlier in the chapter. There is no
villa with a nobler mien than this.

That is one walk from Fiesole. Another is even more a sculptors' way:
for it would include Maiano too, where Benedetto was born. The road
is by way of the tram lines to that acute angle just below Fiesole
when they turn back to S. Domenico, and so straight on down the hill.

But if one is returning to Florence direct after leaving Fiesole it
is well to walk down the precipitous paths to S. Domenico, and before
again taking the tram visit the Badia overlooking the valley of the
Mugnone. This is done by turning to the right just opposite the church
of S. Domenico, which has little interest structurally but is famous
as being the chapel of the monastery where Fra Angelico was once a
monk. The Badia (Abbey) di Fiesole, as it now is, was built on the
site of an older monastery, by Cosimo Pater. Here Marsilio Ficino's
Platonic Academy used to meet, in the loggia and in the little temple
which one gains from the cloisters, and here Pico della Mirandola
composed his curious gloss on Genesis.

The dilapidated marble façade of the church and its rugged stone-work
are exceedingly ancient--dating in fact from the eleventh century;
the new building is by Brunelleschi and to my mind is one of his
most beautiful works, its lovely proportions and cool, unfretted
white spaces communicating even more pleasure than the Pazzi chapel
itself. The decoration has been kept simple and severe, and the colour
is just the grey pietra serena of Fiesole, of which the lovely arches
are made, all most exquisitely chiselled, and the pure white of the
walls and ceilings. This church was a favourite with the Medici, and
the youthful Giovanni, the son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, received
his cardinal's hat here in 1492, at the age of sixteen. He afterwards
became Pope Leo X. How many of the boys, now in the school--for the
monastery has become a Jesuit school--will, one wonders, rise to
similar eminence.

In the beautiful cloisters we have the same colour scheme as
in the church, and here again Brunelleschi's miraculous genius
for proportion is to be found. Here and there are foliations and
other exquisite tracery by pupils of Desiderio da Settignano. The
refectory has a high-spirited fresco by that artist whose room in
the Uffizi is so carefully avoided by discreet chaperons--Giovanni di
San Giovanni--representing Christ eating at a table, his ministrants
being a crowd of little roguish angels and cherubim, one of whom (on
the right) is in despair at having broken a plate. In the entrance
lobby is a lavabo by Mino da Fiesole, with two little boys of the
whitest and softest marble on it, which is worth study.

And now we will return to the heart of Florence once more.



CHAPTER XIII

The Badia and Dante

Filippino Lippi--Buffalmacco--Mino da Fiesole--The Dante quarter--Dante
and Beatrice--Monna Tessa--Gemma Donati--Dante in exile--Dante
memorials in Florence--The Torre della Castagna--The Borgo degli
Albizzi and the old palaces--S. Ambrogio--Mino's tabernacle--Wayside
masterpieces--S. Egidio.

Opposite the Bargello is a church with a very beautiful doorway
designed by Benedetto da Rovezzano. This church is known as the Badia,
and its delicate spire is a joy in the landscape from every point of
vantage. The Badia is very ancient, but the restorers have been busy
and little of Arnolfo's thirteenth-century work is left. It is chiefly
famous now for its Filippino Lippi and two tombs by Mino da Fiesole,
but historically it is interesting as being the burial-place of the
chief Florentine families in the Middle Ages and as being the scene
of Boccaccio's lectures on Dante in 1373. The Filippino altar-piece,
which represents S. Bernard's Vision of the Virgin (a subject we shall
see treated very beautifully by Fra Bartolommeo at the Accademia)
is one of the most perfect and charming pictures by this artist:
very grave and real and sweet, and the saint's hands exquisitely
painted. The figure praying in the right-hand corner is the patron,
Piero di Francesco del Pugliese, who commissioned this picture for the
church of La Campora, outside the Porta Romana, where it was honoured
until 1529, when Clement VII's troops advancing, it was brought here
for safety and has here remained.

Close by--in the same chapel--is a little door which the sacristan
will open, disclosing a portion of Arnolfo's building with perishing
frescoes which are attributed to Buffalmacco, an artist as to whose
reality much scepticism prevails. They are not in themselves of much
interest, although the sacristan's eagerness should not be discouraged;
but Buffalmacco being Boccaccio's, Sacchetti's, Vasari's (and, later,
Anatole France's) amusing hero, it is pleasant to look at his work and
think of his freakishness. Buffalmacco (if he ever existed) was one
of the earlier painters, flourishing between 1311 and 1350, and was
a pupil of Andrea Tafi. This simple man he plagued very divertingly,
once frightening him clean out of his house by fixing little lighted
candles to the backs of beetles and steering them into Tafi's bedroom
at night. Tafi was terrified, but on being told by Buffalmacco (who was
a lazy rascal) that these devils were merely showing their objection
to early rising, he became calm again, and agreed to lie in bed to
a reasonable hour. Cupidity, however, conquering, he again ordered
his pupil to be up betimes, when the beetles again re-appeared and
continued to do so until the order was revoked.

The sculptor Mino da Fiesole, whom we shall shortly see again, at the
Bargello, in portrait busts and Madonna reliefs, is at his best here,
in the superb monument to Count Ugo, who founded, with his mother,
the Benedictine Abbey of which the Badia is the relic. Here all Mino's
sweet thoughts, gaiety and charm are apparent, together with the
perfection of radiant workmanship. The quiet dignity of the recumbent
figure is no less masterly than the group above it. Note the impulsive
urgency of the splendid Charity, with her two babies, and the quiet
beauty of the Madonna and Child above all, while the proportions and
delicate patterns of the tomb as a whole still remain to excite one's
pleasure and admiration. We shall see many tombs in Florence--few not
beautiful--but none more joyously accomplished than this. The tomb
of Carlo Marsuppini in S. Croce by Desiderio da Settignano, which
awaits us, was undoubtedly the parent of the Ugo, Mino following his
master very closely; but his charm was his own. According to Vasari,
the Ugo tomb was considered to be Mino's finest achievement, and he
deliberately made the Madonna and Child as like the types of his
beloved Desiderio as he could. It was finished in 1481, and Mino
died in 1484, from a chill following over-exertion in moving heavy
stones. Mino also has here a monument to Bernardo Giugni, a famous
gonfalonier in the time of Cosimo de' Medici, marked by the same
distinction, but not quite so memorable. The Ugo is his masterpiece.

The carved wooden ceiling, which is a very wonderful piece of work
and of the deepest and most glorious hue, should not be forgotten;
but nothing is easier than to overlook ceilings.

The cloisters are small, but they atone for that--if it is a fault--by
having a loggia. From the loggia the top of the noble tower of the
Palazzo Vecchio is seen to perfection. Upon the upper walls is a
series of frescoes illustrating the life of S. Benedict which must
have been very gay and spirited once but are now faded.

The Badia may be said to be the heart of the Dante quarter. Dante must
often have been in the church before it was restored as we now see it,
and a quotation from the "Divine Comedy" is on its façade. The Via
Dante and the Piazza Donati are close by, and in the Via Dante are many
reminders of the poet besides his alleged birthplace. Elsewhere in the
city we find incised quotations from his poem; but the Baptistery--his
"beautiful San Giovanni"--is the only building in the city proper now
remaining which Dante would feel at home in could he return to it, and
where we can feel assured of sharing his presence. The same pavement is
there on which his feet once stood, and on the same mosaic of Christ
above the altar would his eyes have fallen. When Dante was exiled in
1302 the cathedral had been in progress only for six or eight years;
but it is known that he took the deepest interest in its construction,
and we have seen the stone marking the place where he sat, watching
the builders. The façade of the Badia of Fiesole and the church of
S. Miniato can also remember Dante; no others.

Here, however, we are on that ground which is richest in personal
associations with him and his, for in spite of re-building and
certain modern changes the air is heavy with antiquity in these
narrow streets and passages where the poet had his childhood and
youth. The son of a lawyer named Alighieri, Dante was born in
1265, but whether or not in this Casa Dante is an open question,
and it was in the Baptistery that he received the name of Durante,
afterwards abbreviated to Dante--Durante meaning enduring, and Dante
giving. Those who have read the "Vita Nuova," either in the original
or in Rossetti's translation, may be surprised to learn that the
boy was only nine when he first met his Beatrice, who was seven,
and for ever passed into bondage to her. Who Beatrice was is again
a mystery, but it has been agreed to consider her in real life a
daughter of Folco Portinari, a wealthy Florentine and the founder of
the hospital of S. Maria Nuova, one of whose descendants commissioned
Hugo van der Goes to paint the great triptych in the Uffizi. Folco's
tomb is in S. Egidio, the hospital church, while in the passage to
the cloisters is a stone figure of Monna Tessa (of whom we are about
to see a coloured bust in the Bargello), who was not only Beatrice's
nurse (if Beatrice were truly of the Portinari) but the instigator,
it is said, of Folco's deed of charity.

Of Dante's rapt adoration of his lady, the "Vita Nuova"
tells. According to that strangest monument of devotion it was not
until another nine years had passed that he had speech of her; and
then Beatrice, meeting him in the street, saluted him as she passed
him with such ineffable courtesy and grace that he was lifted into a
seventh heaven of devotion and set upon the writing of his book. The
two seem to have had no closer intercourse: Beatrice shone distantly
like a star and her lover worshipped her with increasing loyalty
and fervour, overlaying the idea of her, as one might say, with gold
and radiance, very much as we shall see Fra Angelico adding glory to
the Madonna and Saints in his pictures, and with a similar intensity
of ecstasy. Then one day Beatrice married, and not long afterwards,
being always very fragile, she died, at the age of twenty-three. The
fact that she was no longer on earth hardly affected her poet,
whose worship of her had always so little of a physical character;
and she continued to dominate his thoughts.

In 1293, however, Dante married, one Gemma Donati of the powerful
Guelph family of that name, of which Corso Donati was the turbulent
head; and by her he had many children. For Gemma, however, he seems
to have had no affection; and when in 1301 he left Florence, never to
return, he left his wife for ever too. In 1289 Dante had been present
at the battle of Campaldino, fighting with the Guelphs against the
Ghibellines, and on settling down in Florence and taking to politics it
was as a Guelph, or rather as one of that branch of the Guelph party
which had become White--the Bianchi--as opposed to the other party
which was Black--the Neri. The feuds between these divisions took the
place of those between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, since Florence
was never happy without internal strife, and it cannot have added
to Dante's home comfort that his wife was related to Corso Donati,
who led the Neri and swaggered in his bullying way about the city with
proprietary, intolerant airs that must have been infuriating to a man
with Dante's stern sense of right and justice. It was Corso who brought
about Dante's exile; but he himself survived only six years, and was
then killed, by his own wish, on his way to execution, rather than be
humiliated in the city in which he had swayed. Dante, whose genius
devised a more lasting form of reprisal than any personal encounter
could be, has depicted him in the "Purgatorio" as on the road to Hell.

But this is going too fast. In 1300, when Dante was thirty-five,
he was sufficiently important to be made one of the six priors of
the city, and in that capacity was called upon to quell a Neri and
Bianchi disturbance. It is characteristic of him that he was a party
to the banishment of the leaders of both factions, among whom was
his closest friend, Guido Cavalcanti the poet, who was one of the
Bianchi. Whether it was because of Guide's illness in his exile, or
from what motive, we shall not know; but the sentence was lightened in
the case of this Bianco, a circumstance which did not add to Dante's
chances when the Neri, having plotted successfully with Charles of
Valois, captured supreme power in Florence. This was in the year 1301,
Dante being absent from that city on an embassy to Rome to obtain help
for the Bianchi. He never came back; for the Neri plans succeeded;
the Neri assumed control; and in January, 1302, he was formally fined
and banished. The nominal charge against him was of misappropriating
funds while a prior; but that was merely a matter of form. His real
offence was in being one of the Bianchi, an enemy of the Neri, and
a man of parts.

In the rest of Dante's life Florence had no part, except in his
thoughts. How he viewed her the "Divine Comedy" tells us, and that he
longed to return we also know. The chance was indeed once offered,
but under the impossible condition that he should do public penance
in the Baptistery for his offence. This he refused. He wandered here
and there, and settled finally in Ravenna, where he died in 1321. The
"Divine Comedy" anticipating printing by so many years--the invention
did not reach Florence until 1471--Dante could not make much popular
way as a poet before that time; but to his genius certain Florentines
were earlier no strangers, not only by perusing MS. copies of his
great work, which by its richness in Florentine allusions  excited
an interest apart altogether from that created by its beauty, but by
public lectures on the poem, delivered in the churches by order of
the Signoria. The first Dante professor to be appointed was Giovanni
Boccaccio, the author of the "Decameron," who was born in 1313,
eight years before Dante's death, and became an enthusiast upon the
poet. The picture in the Duomo was placed there in 1465. Then came
printing to Florence and Dante passed quickly into his countrymen's
thoughts and language.

Michelangelo, who was born in time--1475--to enjoy in Lorenzo the
Magnificent's house the new and precious advantage of printed books,
became as a boy a profound student of the poet, and when later an
appeal was made from Florence to the Pope to sanction the removal of
Dante's bones to Florence, Michelangelo was among the signatories. But
it was not done. His death-mask from Ravenna is in the Bargello:
a few of his bones and their coffin are still in Ravenna, in the
monastery of Classe, piously preserved in a room filled with Dante
relics and literature; his tomb is elsewhere at Ravenna, a shrine
visited by thousands every year.

Ever since has Dante's fame been growing, so that only the Bible has
led to more literature; and to-day Florence is more proud of him than
any of her sons, except perhaps Michelangelo. We have seen one or
two reminders of him already; more are here where we stand. We have
seen the picture in honour of him which the Republic set up in the
cathedral; his head on a beautiful inlaid door in the Palazzo Vecchio,
the building where his sentence of banishment was devised and carried,
to be followed by death sentence thrice repeated (burning alive,
to be exact); and we have seen the head-quarters of the Florentine
Dante society in the guild house at Or San Michele. We have still
to see his statue opposite S. Croce, another fresco head in S. Maria
Novella, certain holograph relics at the library at S. Lorenzo, and
his head again by his friend Giotto, in the Bargello, where he would
have been confined while waiting for death had he been captured.

Dante's house has been rebuilt, very recently, and next to it is a
newer building still, with a long inscription in Italian upon it,
to the effect that the residence of Bella and Bellincione Alighieri
stood hereabouts, and in that abode was Dante born. The Commune of
Florence, it goes on to say, having secured possession of the site,
"built this edifice on the remains of the ancestral house as fresh
evidence of the public veneration of the divine poet". The Torre della
Castagna, across the way, has an inscription in Italian, which may be
translated thus: "This Tower, the so-called Tower of the Chestnut, is
the solitary remnant of the head-quarters from which the Priors of the
Arts governed Florence, before the power and glory of the Florentine
Commune procured the erection of the Palace of the Signoria".

Few persons in the real city of Florence, it may be said confidently,
live in a house built for them; but hereabouts none at all. In fact,
it is the exception anywhere near the centre of the city to live in
a house built less than three centuries ago. Palaces abound, cut up
into offices, flats, rooms, and even cinema theatres. The telegraph
office in the Via del Proconsolo is a palace commissioned by the
Strozzi but never completed: hence its name, Nonfinito; next it is
the superb Palazzo Quaratesi, which Brunelleschi designed, now the
head-quarters of a score of firms and an Ecclesiastical School whence
sounds of sacred song continually emerge.

Since we have Mino da Fiesole in our minds and are on the subject
of old palaces let us walk from the Dante quarter in a straight line
from the Corso, that very busy street of small shops, across the Via
del Proconsolo and down the Borgo degli Albizzi to S. Ambrogio, where
Mino was buried. This Borgo is a street of palaces and an excellent one
in which to reflect upon the strange habit which wealthy Florentines
then indulged of setting their mansions within a few feet of those
opposite. Houses--or rather fortresses--that must have cost fortunes
and have been occupied by families of wealth and splendour were
erected so close to their vis-à-vis that two carts could not pass
abreast between them. Side by side contiguity one can understand,
but not this other adjacence. Every ground floor window is barred
like a gaol. Those bars tell us something of the perils of life in
Florence in the great days of faction ambition; while the thickness
of the walls and solidity of construction tell us something too of
the integrity of the Florentine builders. These ancient palaces,
one feels, whatever may happen to them, can never fall to ruin. Such
stones as are placed one upon the other in the Pitti and the Strozzi
and the Riccardi nothing can displace. It is an odd thought that
several Florentine palaces and villas built before Columbus sailed
for America are now occupied by rich Americans, some of them draw
possibly much of their income from the manufacture of steel girders
for sky-scrapers. These ancient streets with their stern and sombre
palaces specially touched the imagination of Dickens when he was in
Florence in 1844, but in his "Pictures from Italy" he gave the city
only fugitive mention. The old prison, which then adjoined the Palazzo
Vecchio, and in which the prisoners could be seen, also moved him.

The Borgo degli Albizzi, as I have said, is crowded with
Palazzi. No. 24--and there is something very incongruous in palaces
having numbers at all--is memorable in history as being one of the
homes of the Pazzi family who organized the conspiracy against the
Medici in 1478, as I have related in the second chapter, and failed
so completely. Donatello designed the coat of arms here. The palace
at No. 18 belonged to the Altoviti. No. 12 is the Palazzo Albizzi,
the residence of one of the most powerful of the Florentine families,
whose allies were all about them in this quarter, as it was wise to be.

As a change from picture galleries, I can think of nothing more
delightful than to wander about these ancient streets, and, wherever a
courtyard or garden shines, penetrate to it; stopping now and again to
enjoy the vista, the red Duomo, or Giotto's tower, so often mounting
into the sky at one end, or an indigo Apennine at the other. Standing
in the middle of the Via Ricasoli, for example, one has sight of both.

At the Piazza S. Pietro we see one of the old towers of Florence,
of which there were once so many, into which the women and children
might retreat in times of great danger, and here too is a series of
arches which fruit and vegetable shops make gay.

The next Piazza is that of S. Ambrogio. This church is interesting
not only for doing its work in a poor quarter--one has the feeling at
once that it is a right church in the right place--but as containing,
as I have said, the grave of Mino da Fiesole: Mino de' Poppi detto da
Fiesole, as the floor tablet has it. Over the altar of Mino's little
chapel is a large tabernacle from his hand, in which the gayest little
Boy gives the benediction, own brother to that one by Desiderio at
S. Lorenzo. The tabernacle must be one of the master's finest works,
and beneath it is a relief in which a priest pours something--perhaps
the very blood of Christ which is kept here--from one chalice to
another held by a kneeling woman, surrounded by other kneeling women,
which is a marvel of flowing beauty and life. The lines of it are
peculiarly lovely.

On the wall of the same little chapel is a fresco by Cosimo Rosselli
which must once have been a delight, representing a procession of
Corpus Christi--this chapel being dedicated to the miracle of the
Sacrament--and it contains, according to Vasari, a speaking likeness of
Pico della Mirandola. Other graves in the church are those of Cronaca,
the architect of the Palazzo Vecchio's great Council Room, a friend
of Savonarola and Rosselli's nephew by marriage; and Verrocchio, the
sculptor, whose beautiful work we are now to see in the Bargello. It
is said that Lorenzo di Credi also lies here, and Albertinelli,
who gave up the brush for innkeeping.

Opposite the church, on a house at the corner of the Borgo S. Croce
and the Via de' Macci, is a della Robbia saint--one of many such
mural works of art in Florence. Thus, at the corner of the Via Cavour
and the Via de' Pucci, opposite the Riccardi palace, is a beautiful
Madonna and Child by Donatello. In the Via Zannetti, which leads
out of the Via Cerretani, is a very pretty example by Mino, a few
houses on the right. These are sculpture. And everywhere in the older
streets you may see shrines built into the wall: there is even one in
the prison, in the Via dell' Agnolo, once the convent of the Murate,
where Catherine de' Medici was imprisoned as a girl; but many of them
are covered with glass which has been allowed to become black.

A word or two on S. Egidio, the church of the great hospital of
S. Maria Nuova, might round off this chapter, since it was Folco
Portinari, Beatrice's father, who founded it. The hospital stands
in a rather forlorn square a few steps from the Duomo, down the Via
dell' Orivolo and then the first to the left; and it extends right
through to the Via degli Alfani in cloisters and ramifications. The
façade is in a state of decay, old frescoes peeling off it, but one
picture has been enclosed for protection--a gay and busy scene of the
consecration of the church by Pope Martin V. Within, it is a church
of the poor, notable for its general florid comfort (comparatively)
and Folco's gothic tomb. In the chancel is a pretty little tabernacle
by Mino, which used to have a bronze door by Ghiberti, but has it no
longer, and a very fine della Robbia Madonna and Child, probably by
Andrea. Behind a grille, upstairs, sit the hospital nurses. In the
adjoining cloisters--one of the high roads to the hospital proper--is
the ancient statue of old Monna Tessa, Beatrice's nurse, and, in a
niche, a pretty symbolical painting of Charity by that curious painter
Giovanni di San Giovanni. It was in the hospital that the famous Van
der Goes triptych used to hang.

A tablet on a house opposite S. Egidio, a little to the right,
states that it was there that Ghiberti made the Baptistery gates
which Michelangelo considered fit to be the portals of Paradise.



CHAPTER XIV

The Bargello

Plastic art--Blood-soaked stones--The faithful
artists--Michelangelo--Italian custodians--The famous
Davids--Michelangelo's tondo--Brutus--Benedetto da
Rovezzano--Donatello's life-work--The S. George--Verrocchio--Ghiberti
and Brunelleschi and the Baptistery doors--Benvenuto Cellini--John of
Bologna--Antonio Pollaiuolo--Verrocchio again--Mino da Fiesole--The
Florentine wealth of sculpture--Beautiful ladies--The della
Robbias--South Kensington and the Louvre.

Before my last visit but one to Florence, plastic art was less
attractive to me than pictorial art. But now I am not sure. At
any rate when, here in England, I think of Florence, as so often
I do, I find myself visiting in imagination the Bargello before the
Uffizi. Pictures in any number can bewilder and dazzle as much as they
delight. The eye tires. And so, it is true, can a multiplicity of
antique statuary such as one finds at the Vatican or at the Louvre;
but a small collection of Renaissance work, so soft and human,
as at the Bargello, is not only joy-giving but refreshing too. The
soft contours soothe as well as enrapture the eye: the tenderness of
the Madonnas, the gentleness of the Florentine ladies and youths, as
Verrocchio and Mino da Fiesole, Donatello, and Pollaiuolo moulded them,
calm one where the perfection of Phidias and Praxiteles excites. Hence
the very special charm of the Bargello, whose plastic treasures are
comparatively few and picked, as against the heaped profusion of paint
in the Uffizi and the Pitti. It pairs off rather with the Accademia,
and has this further point in common with that choicest of galleries,
that Michelangelo's chisel is represented in both.

The Bargello is at the corner of the Via Ghibellina in the narrow
Via del Proconsolo--so narrow that if you take one step off the
pavement a tram may easily sweep you into eternity; so narrow also
that the real dignity of the Bargello is never to be properly seen,
and one thinks of it rather for its inner court and staircase and
its strong tower than for its massive façades. Its history is soaked
in blood. It was built in the middle of the thirteenth century as the
residence of the chief magistrate of the city, the Capitano del popolo,
or Podestà, first appointed soon after the return of the Guelphs in
1251, and it so remained, with such natural Florentine vicissitudes
as destruction by mobs and fire, for four hundred years, when, in
1574, it was converted into a prison and place of execution and the
head-quarters of the police, and changed its name from the Palazzo
del Podestà to that by which it is now known, so called after the
Bargello, or chief of the police.

It is indeed fortunate that no rioters succeeded in obliterating
Giotto's fresco in the Bargello chapel, which he painted probably in
1300, when his friend Dante was a Prior of the city. Giotto introduced
the portrait of Dante which has drawn so many people to this little
room, together with portraits of Corso Donati, and Brunetto Latini,
Dante's tutor. Whitewash covered it for two centuries. Dante's head
has been restored.

It was in 1857 that the Bargello was again converted, this time to its
present gracious office of preserving the very flower of Renaissance
plastic art.

Passing through the entrance hall, which has a remarkable collection of
Medicean armour and weapons, and in which (I have read but not seen)
is an oubliette under one of the great pillars, the famous court is
gained and the famous staircase. Of this court what can I say? Its
quality is not to be communicated in words; and even the photographs of
it that are sold have to be made from pictures, which the assiduous
Signor Giuliani, among others, is always so faithfully painting,
stone for stone. One forgets all the horrors that once were enacted
here--the execution of honourable Florentine patriots whose only
offence was that in their service of this proud and beautiful city they
differed from those in power; one thinks only of the soft light on the
immemorial walls, the sturdy graceful columns, the carved escutcheons,
the resolute steps, the spaciousness and stern calm of it all.

In the colonnade are a number of statues, the most famous of which
is perhaps the "Dying Adonis" which Baedeker gives to Michelangelo
but the curator to Vincenzo di Rossi; an ascription that would annoy
Michelangelo exceedingly, if it were a mistake, since Rossi was a
pupil of his enemy, the absurd Bandinelli. Mr. W.G. Waters, in his
"Italian Sculptors," considers not only that Michelangelo was the
sculptor, but that the work was intended to form part of the tomb of
Pope Julius. In the second room opposite the main entrance across the
courtyard, we come however to Michelangelo authentic and supreme,
for here are his small David, his Brutus, his Bacchus, and a tondo
of the Madonna and Child.

According to Baedeker the Bacchus and the David revolve. Certainly they
are on revolving stands, but to say that they revolve is to disregard
utterly the character of the Italian official. A catch holds each in
its place, and any effort to release this or to induce the custodian to
release it is equally futile. "Chiuso" (closed), he replies, and that
is final. Useless to explain that the backs of statues can be beautiful
as the front; that one of the triumphs of great statuary is its equal
perfection from every point; that the revolving stand was not made
for a joke but for a serious purpose. "Chiuso," he replies. The museum
custodians of Italy are either like this--jaded figures of apathy--or
they are enthusiasts. To each enthusiast there are ninety-nine of the
other, who either sit in a kind of stupor and watch you with sullen
suspicion, or clear their throats as no gentleman should. The result
is that when one meets the enthusiasts one remembers them. There is
a little dark fellow in the Brera at Milan whose zeal in displaying
the merits of Mantegna's foreshortened Christ is as unforgettable as
a striking piece of character-acting in a theatre. There is a more
reserved but hardly less appreciative official in the Accademia at
Bologna with a genuine if incommunicable passion for Guido Reni. And,
lastly, there is Alfred Branconi, at S. Croce, with his continual and
rapturous "It is faine! It is faine!" but he is a private guide. The
Bargello custodians belong to the other camp.

The fondness of sculptors for David as a subject is due to the fact
that the Florentines, who had spent so much of their time under
tyrants and so much of their blood in resisting them, were captivated
by the idea of this stripling freeing his compatriots from Goliath
and the Philistines. David, as I have said in my remarks on the
Piazza della Signoria, stood to them, with Judith, as a champion of
liberty. He was alluring also on account of his youth, so attractive
to Renaissance sculptors and poets, and the Florentines' admiration
was not diminished by the circumstance that his task was a singularly
light one, since he never came to close quarters with his antagonist
at all and had the Lord of Hosts on his side. A David of mythology,
Perseus, another Florentine hero, a stripling with what looked like
a formidable enemy, also enjoyed supernatural assistance.

David appealed to the greatest sculptors of all--to Michelangelo,
to Donatello, and to Verrocchio; and Michelangelo made two figures,
one of which is here and the other at the Accademia, and Donatello
two figures, both of which are here, so that, Verrocchio's example
being also here, very interesting comparisons are possible.

Personally I put Michelangelo's small David first; it is the one
in which, apart from its beauty, you can best believe. His colossal
David seems to me one of the most glorious things in the world; but it
is not David; not the simple, ruddy shepherd lad of the Bible. This
David could obviously defeat anybody. Donatello's more famous David,
in the hat, upstairs, is the most charming creature you ever saw,
but it had been far better to call him something else. Both he and
Verrocchio's David, also upstairs, are young tournament nobles rather
than shepherd lads who have slung a stone at a Philistine bully. I see
them both--but particularly perhaps Verrocchio's--in the intervals of
strife most acceptably holding up a lady's train, or lying at her feet
reading one of Boccaccio's stories; neither could ever have watched
a flock. Donatello's second David, behind the more famous one, has
more reality; but I would put Michelangelo's smaller one first. And
what beautiful marble it is--so rich and warm!

One point which both Donatello's and Verrocchio's David emphasizes
is the gulf that was fixed between the Biblical and religious
conception of the youthful psalmist and that of these sculptors of the
Renaissance. One can, indeed, never think of Donatello as a religious
artist. Serious, yes; but not religious, or at any rate not religious
in the too common sense of the word, in the sense of appertaining
to a special reverential mood distinguished from ordinary moods of
dailiness. His David, as I have said, is a comely, cultured boy,
who belongs to the very flower of chivalry and romance. Verrocchio's
is akin to him, but he has less radiant mastery. Donatello's David
might be the young lord; Verrocchio's, his page. Here we see the new
spirit, the Renaissance, at work, for though religion called it into
being and the Church continued to be its patron, it rapidly divided
into two halves, and while the painters were bringing all their
genius to glorify sacred history, the scholars were endeavouring to
humanize it. In this task they had no such allies as the sculptors,
and particularly Donatello, who, always thinking independently and
vigorously, was their best friend. Donatello's David fought also more
powerfully for the modern spirit (had he known it) than ever he could
have done in real life with such a large sword in such delicate hands;
for by being the first nude statue of a Biblical character, he made
simpler the way to all humanists in whatever medium they worked.

Michelangelo was not often tender. Profoundly sad he could be: indeed
his own head, in bronze, at the Accademia, might stand for melancholy
and bitter world-knowledge; but seldom tender; yet the Madonna and
Child in the circular bas-relief in this ground-floor room have
something very nigh tenderness, and a greatness that none of the
other Italian sculptors, however often they attempted this subject,
ever reached. The head of Mary in this relief is, I think, one of the
most beautiful things in Florence, none the less so for the charming
head-dress which the great austere artist has given her. The Child
is older than is usual in such groups, and differs in another way,
for tiring of a reading lesson, He has laid His arm upon the book:
a pretty touch.

Michelangelo's Bacchus, an early work, is opposite. It is a remarkable
proof of his extraordinary range that the same little room should
contain the David, the Madonna, the Brutus, and the Bacchus. In
David one can believe, as I have said, as the young serious stalwart
of the Book of Kings. The Madonna, although perhaps a shade too
intellectual--or at any rate more intellectual and commanding than
the other great artists have accustomed us to think of her--has a
sweet gravity and power and almost domestic tenderness. The Brutus
is powerful and modern and realistic; while Bacchus is steeped in the
Greek spirit, and the little faun hiding behind him is the very essence
of mischief. Add to these the fluid vigour of the unfinished relief
of the Martyrdom of S. Andrew, No. 126, and you have five examples of
human accomplishment that would be enough without the other Florentine
evidences at all--the Medici chapel tombs and the Duomo Pieta.

The inscription under the Brutus says: "While the sculptor was carving
the statue of Brutus in marble, he thought of the crime and held
his hand"; and the theory is that Michelangelo was at work upon this
head at Rome when, in 1537, Lorenzino de' Medici, who claimed to be
a modern Brutus, murdered Alessandro de' Medici. But it might easily
have been that the sculptor was concerned only with Brutus the friend
of Cæsar and revolted at his crime. The circumstance that the head
is unfinished matters nothing. Once seen it can never be forgotten.

Although Michelangelo is, as always, the dominator, this room has
other possessions to make it a resort of visitors. At the end is a
fireplace from the Casa Borgherini, by Benedetto da Rovezzano, which
probably has not an equal, although the pietra serena of which it is
made is a horrid hue; and on the walls are fragments of the tomb of
S. Giovanni Gualberto at Vallombrosa, designed by the same artist but
never finished. Benedetto (1474-1556) has a peculiar interest to the
English in having come to England in 1524 at the bidding of Cardinal
Wolsey to design a tomb for that proud prelate. On Wolsey's disgrace,
Henry VIII decided that the tomb should be continued for his own bones;
but the sculptor died first and it was unfinished. Later Charles I cast
envious eyes upon it and wished to lie within it; but circumstances
deprived him too of the honour. Finally, after having been despoiled
of certain bronze additions, the sarcophagus was used for the remains
of Nelson, which it now holds, in St. Paul's crypt. The Borgherini
fireplace is a miracle of exquisite work, everything having received
thought, the delicate traceries on the pillars not less than the
frieze. The fireplace is in perfect condition, not one head having
been knocked off, but the Gualberto reliefs are badly damaged, yet
full of life. The angel under the saint's bier in No. 104 almost moves.

In this room look also at the beautiful blades of barley on the
pillars in the corner close to Brutus, and the lovely frieze by an
unknown hand above Michelangelo's Martyrdom of S. Andrew, and the
carving upon the two niches for statues on either side of the door.

The little room through which one passes to the Michelangelos may
well be lingered in. There is a gravely fine floor-tomb of a nun
to the left of the door--No. 20--which one would like to see in its
proper position instead of upright against the wall; and a stone font
in the middle which is very fine. There is also a beautiful tomb by
Giusti da Settignano, and the iron gates are worth attention.

From Michelangelo let us ascend the stairs, past the splendid gates,
to Donatello; and here a word about that sculptor, for though we
meet him again and again in Florence (yet never often enough) it is
in the upper room in the Bargello that he is enthroned. Of Donatello
there is nothing known but good, and good of the most captivating
variety. Not only was he a great creative genius, equally the first
modern sculptor and the sanest, but he was himself tall and comely,
open-handed, a warm friend, humorous and of vigorous intellect. A
hint of the affection in which he was held is obtained from his name
Donatello, which is a pet diminutive of Donato--his full style being
Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi. Born in 1386, four years before
Fra Angelico and nearly a century after Giotto, he was the son of a
well-to-do wool-comber who was no stranger to the perils of political
energy in these times. Of Donatello's youth little is known, but it is
almost certain that he helped Ghiberti with his first Baptistery doors,
being thirteen when that sculptor began upon them. At sixteen he was
himself enrolled as a sculptor. It was soon after this that, as I have
said in the first chapter, he accompanied his friend Brunelleschi,
who was thirteen years his senior, to Rome; and returning alone he
began work in Florence in earnest, both for the cathedral and campanile
and for Or San Michele. In 1425 he took into partnership Michelozzo,
and became, with him, a protégé of Cosimo de' Medici, with whom both
continued on friendly terms for the rest of their lives. In 1433 he
was in Rome again, probably not sorry to be there since Cosimo had
been banished and had taken Michelozzo with him. On the triumphant
return of Cosimo in 1434 Donatello's most prosperous period began;
for he was intimate with the most powerful man in Florence, was
honoured by him, and was himself at the useful age of forty-four.

Of Donatello as an innovator I have said something above, in
considering the Florentine Davids, but he was also the inventor of
that low relief in which his school worked, called rilievo stiacciato,
of which there are some excellent examples at South Kensington. In
Ghiberti's high relief, breaking out often into completely detached
figures, he was also a master, as we shall see at S. Lorenzo. But his
greatest claim to distinction is his psychological insight allied
to perfect mastery of form. His statues were not only the first
really great statues since the Greeks, but are still (always leaving
Michelangelo on one side as abnormal) the greatest modern examples
judged upon a realistic basis. Here in the Bargello, in originals and
in casts, he may be adequately appreciated; but to Padua his admirers
must certainly go, for the bronze equestrian statue of Gattamelata is
there. Donatello was painted by his friend Masaccio at the Carmine,
but the fresco has perished. He is to be seen in the Uffizi portico,
although that is probably a fancy representation; and again on a tablet
in the wall opposite the apse of the Duomo. The only contemporary
portrait (and this is very doubtful) is in a picture in the Louvre
given to Uccello--a serious, thoughtful, bearded face with steady,
observant eyes: one of five heads, the others being Giotto, Manetti,
Brunelleschi, and Uccello himself.

Donatello, who never married, but lived for much of his life with his
mother and sister, died at a great age, cared for both by Cosimo de'
Medici and his son and successor Piero. He was buried with Cosimo
in S. Lorenzo. Vasari tells us that he was free, affectionate, and
courteous, but of a high spirit and capable of sudden anger, as when
he destroyed with a blow a head he had made for a mean patron who
objected to its very reasonable price. "He thought," says Vasari,
"nothing of money, keeping it in a basket suspended from the ceiling,
so that all his workmen and friends took what they wanted without
saying anything." He was as careless of dress as great artists have
ever been, and of a handsome robe which Cosimo gave him he complained
that it spoiled his work. When he was dying his relations affected
great concern in the hope of inheriting a farm at Prato, but he told
them that he had left it to the peasant who had always toiled there,
and he would not alter his will.

The Donatello collection in the Bargello has been made representative
by the addition of casts. The originals number ten: there is also
a cast of the equestrian statue of Gattemalata at Padua, which is,
I suppose, next to Verrocchio's Bartolommeo Colleoni at Venice, the
finest equestrian statue that exists; heads from various collections,
including M. Dreyfus' in Paris, although Dr. Bode now gives that
charming example to Donatello's pupil Desiderio; and various
other masterpieces elsewhere. But it is the originals that chiefly
interest us, and first of these in bronze is the David, of which I
have already spoken, and first of these in marble the S. George. This
George is just such a resolute, clean, warlike idealist as one dreams
him. He would kill a dragon, it is true; but he would eat and sleep
after it and tell the story modestly and not without humour. By a
happy chance the marble upon which Donatello worked had light veins
running through it just where the head is, with the result that the
face seems to possess a radiance of its own. This statue was made for
Or San Michele, where it used to stand until 1891, when the present
bronze replica that takes its place was made. The spirited marble
frieze underneath it at Or San Michele is the original and has been
there for centuries. It was this S. George whom Ruskin took as the
head and inspiration of his Saint George's Guild.

The David is interesting not only in itself but as being the first
isolated statue of modern times. It was made for Cosimo de' Medici,
to stand in the courtyard of the Medici palace (now the Riccardi),
and until that time, since antiquity, no one had made a statue to
stand on a pedestal and be observable from all points. Hitherto modern
sculptors had either made reliefs or statues for niches. It was also
the first nude statue of modern times; and once again one has the
satisfaction of recognizing that the first was the best. At any rate,
no later sculptor has made anything more charming than this figure,
or more masterly within its limits.

After the S. George and the bronze David, the two most memorable things
are the adorable bronze Amorino in its quaint little trousers--or
perhaps not Amorino at all, since it is trampling on a snake,
which such little sprites did not do--and the coloured terra-cotta
bust called Niccolò da Uzzano, so like life as to be after a while
disconcerting. The sensitiveness of the mouth can never have been
excelled. The other originals include the gaunt John the Baptist with
its curious little moustache, so far removed from the Amorino and so
admirable a proof of the sculptor's vigilant thoughtfulness in all
he did; the relief of the infant John, one of the most animated of
the heads (the Baptist at all periods of his life being a favourite
with this sculptor); three bronze heads, of which those of the Young
Gentleman and the Roman Emperor remain most clearly in my mind. But
the authorship of the Roman Emperor is very doubtful. And lastly the
glorious Marzocco--the lion from the front of the Palazzo Vecchio,
firmly holding the Florentine escutcheon against the world. Florence
has other Donatellos--the Judith in the Loggia de' Lanzi, the figures
on Giotto's campanile, the Annunciation in S. Croce, and above all
the cantoria in the Museum of the Cathedral; but this room holds most
of his strong sweet genius. Here (for there are seldom more than two
or three persons in it) you can be on terms with him.

After the Donatellos we should see the other Renaissance sculpture. But
first the Carrand collection of ivories, pictures, jewels, carvings,
vestments, plaquettes, and objets d'art, bequeathed to Florence
in 1888. Everything here is good and worth examination. Among the
outstanding things is a plaquette, No. 393, a Satyr and a Bacchante,
attributed to Donatello, under the title "Allegory of Spring," which
is the work of a master and a very riot of mythological imagery. The
neighbouring plaquettes, many of them of the school of Donatello,
are all beautiful.

We now find the sixth salon, to see Verrocchio's David, of which I have
already spoken. This wholly charming boy, a little nearer life perhaps
than Donatello's, although not quite so radiantly distinguished,
illustrates the association of Verrocchio and Leonardo as clearly
as any of the paintings do; for the head is sheer Leonardo. At the
Palazzo Vecchio we saw Verrocchio's boy with the dolphin--that happy
bronze lyric--and outside Or San Michele his Christ and S. Thomas, in
Donatello and Michelozzo's niche, with the flying cherubim beneath. But
as with Donatello, so with Verrocchio, one must visit the Bargello
to see him, in Florence, most intimately. For here are not only his
David, which once known can never be forgotten and is as full of the
Renaissance spirit as anything ever fashioned, whether in bronze,
marble, or paint, but--upstairs--certain other wonderfully beautiful
things to which we shall come, and, that being so, I would like here
to say a little about their author.

Verrocchio is a nickname, signifying the true eye. Andrea's real name
was de' Cioni; he is known to fame as Andrea of the true eye, and since
he had acquired this style at a time when every eye was true enough,
his must have been true indeed. It is probable that he was a pupil
of Donatello, who in 1435, when Andrea was born, was forty-nine, and
in time he was to become the master of Leonardo: thus are the great
artists related. The history of Florentine art is practically the
history of a family; one artist leads to the other--the genealogy
of genius. The story goes that it was the excellence of the angel
contributed by Leonardo to his master's picture of the Baptism of
Christ (at the Accademia) which decided Verrocchio to paint no more,
just as Ghiberti's superiority in the relief of Abraham and Isaac
drove Brunelleschi from sculpture. If this be so, it accounts for the
extraordinarily small number of pictures by him. Like many artists
of his day Verrocchio was also a goldsmith, but he was versatile
above most, even when versatility was a habit, and excelled also as
a musician. Both Piero de' Medici and Lorenzo employed him to design
their tournament costumes; and it was for Lorenzo that he made this
charming David and the boy and the dolphin. His greatest work of all
is the bronze equestrian statue of Bartolommeo Colleoni in Venice, the
finest thing of its kind in the world, and so glorious and exciting
indeed that every city should have a cast of it in a conspicuous
position just for the good of the people. It was while at work upon
this that Verrocchio died, at the age of fifty-three. His body was
brought from Venice by his pupil Lorenzo di Credi, who adored him,
and was buried in S. Ambrogio in Florence. Lorenzo di Credi painted his
portrait, which is now in the Uffizi--a plump, undistinguished-looking
little man.

In the David room are also the extremely interesting rival bronze
reliefs of Abraham sacrificing Isaac, which were made by Ghiberti and
Brunelleschi as trials of skill to see which would win the commission
to design the new gates of the Baptistery, as I have told earlier in
this book. Six competitors entered for the contest; but Ghiberti's and
Brunelleschi's efforts were alone considered seriously. A comparison
of these two reliefs proves that Ghiberti, at any rate, had a finer
sense of grouping. He filled the space at his disposal more easily
and his hand was more fluent; but there is a very engaging vivacity
in the other work, the realistic details of which are so arresting
as to make one regret that Brunelleschi had for sculpture so little
time. In S. Maria Novella is that crucifix in wood which he carved for
his friend Donatello, but his only other sculptured work in Florence is
the door of his beautiful Pazzi chapel in the cloisters of S. Croce. Of
Ghiberti's Baptistery gates I have said more elsewhere. Enough here
to add that the episode of Abraham and Isaac does not occur in them.

This little room also has a Cassa Reliquiaria by Ghiberti, below a fine
relief by Bertoldo, Michelangelo's master in sculpture, representing
a battle between the Romans and the Barbarians; cases of exquisite
bronzes; the head, in bronze (No. 25), of an old placid, shrewd woman,
executed from a death-mask, which the photographers call Contessina
de' Bardi, wife of Cosimo de' Medici, by Donatello, but which cannot
be so, since the sculptor died first; heads of Apollo and two babies,
over the Ghiberti and Brunelleschi competition reliefs; a crucifixion
by Bertoldo; a row of babies representing the triumph of Bacchus; and
below these a case of medals and plaquettes, every one a masterpiece.

The next room, Sala VII, is apportioned chiefly between Cellini
and Gian or Giovanni da Bologna, the two sculptors who dominate the
Loggia de' Lanzi. Here we may see models for Cellini's Perseus in
bronze and wax and also for the relief of the rescue of Andromeda,
under the statue; his Cosimo I, with the wart (omitted by Bandinelli
in the head downstairs, which pairs with Michelangelo's Brutus);
and various smaller works. But personally I find that Cellini will
not do in such near proximity to Donatello, Verrocchio, and their
gentle followers. He was, of course, far later. He was not born (in
1500) until Donatello had been dead thirty-four years, Mino da Fiesole
sixteen years, Desiderio da Settignano thirty-six years, and Verrocchio
twelve years. He thus did not begin to work until the finer impulses
of the Renaissance were exhausted. Giovanni da Bologna, although he,
it is true, was even later (1524-1608), I find more sympathetic; while
Landor boldly proclaimed him superior to Michelangelo. His "Mercury,"
in the middle of the room, which one sees counterfeited in all the
statuary shops of Florence, is truly very nearly light as air. If ever
bronze floated, this figure does. His cherubs and dolphins are very
skilful and merry; his turkey and eagle and other animals indicate
that he had humility. John of Bologna is best known at Florence by
his Rape of the Sabines and Hercules and Nessus in the Loggia de'
Lanzi; but the Boboli gardens have a fine group of Oceanus and river
gods by him in the midst of a lake. Before leaving this room look at
the relief of Christ in glory (No. 35), to the left of the door, by
Jacopo Sansovino, a rival of Michelangelo, which is most admirable,
and at the case of bronze animals by Pietro Tacca, John of Bologna's
pupil, who made the famous boar (a copy of an ancient marble) at
the Mercato Nuovo and the reliefs for the pediment of the statue of
Cosimo I (by his master) in the Piazza della Signoria. But I believe
that the most beautiful thing in this room is the bronze figure for
the tomb of Mariano Sozzino by Lorenzo di Pietro.

Before we look at the della Robbias, which are in the two large rooms
upstairs, let us finish with the marble and terra-cotta statuary in
the two smaller rooms to the left as one passes through the first
della Robbia room. In the first of them, corresponding to the room
with Verrocchio's David downstairs, we find Verrocchio again, with
a bust of Piero di Lorenzo de' Medici (whom Botticelli painted in
the Uffizi holding a medal in his hand) and a most exquisite Madonna
and Child in terra-cotta from S. Maria Nuova. (This is on a hinge,
for better light, but the official skies will fall if you touch
it.) Here also is the bust of a young warrior by Antonio Pollaiuolo
(1429-1498) who was Verrocchio's closest rival and one of Ghiberti's
assistants for the second Baptistery doors. His greatest work is at
Rome, but this bust is indescribably charming, and the softness of the
boy's contours is almost of life. It is sometimes called Giuliano de'
Medici. Other beautiful objects in the room are the terra-cotta Madonna
and Child by Andrea Sansovino (1460-1529), Pollaiuolo's pupil, which
is as radiant although not so domestically lovely as Verrocchio's;
the bust by Benedetto da Maiano (1442-1497) of Pietro Mellini, that
shrewd and wrinkled patron of the Church who presented to S. Croce
the famous pulpit by this sculptor; an ancient lady, by the door,
in coloured terra-cotta, who is thought to represent Monna Tessa, the
nurse of Dante's Beatrice; and certain other works by that delightful
and prolific person Ignoto Fiorentino, who here, and in the next room,
which we now enter, is at his best.

This next priceless room is chiefly memorable for Verrocchio and
Mino da Fiesole. We come to Verrocchio at once, on the left, where
his relief of the death of Francesca Pitti Tornabuoni (on a tiny
bed only half as long as herself) may be seen. This poor lady, who
died in childbirth, was the wife of Giovanni Tornabuoni, and he it
was who employed Ghirlandaio to make the frescoes in the choir of
S. Maria Novella. (I ought, however, to state that Miss Cruttwell,
in her monograph on Verrocchio, questions both the subject and the
artist.) Close by we have two more works by Verrocchio--No. 180, a
marble relief of the Madonna and Child, the Madonna's dress fastened
by the prettiest of brooches, and She herself possessing a dainty sad
head and the long fingers that Verrocchio so favoured, which we find
again in the famous "Gentildonna" (No. 181) next it--that Florentine
lady with flowers in her bosom, whose contours are so exquisite and
who has such pretty shoulders.

Near by is the little eager S. John the Baptist as a boy by Antonio
Rossellino (1427-1478), and on the next wall the same sculptor's
circular relief of the Madonna adoring, in a border of cherubs.
In the middle is the masterpiece of Jacopo Sansovino (1486-1570): a
Bacchus, so strangely like a genuine antique, full of Greek lightness
and grace. And then we come back to the wall in which the door is,
and find more works from the delicate hand of Mino da Fiesole, whom
we in London are fortunate in being able to study as near home as at
the Victoria and Albert Museum. Of Mino I have said more both at the
Badia and at Fiesole. But here I might remark again that he was born
in 1431 and died in 1484, and was the favourite pupil of Desiderio
da Settignano, who was in his turn the favourite pupil of Donatello.

In the little church of S. Ambrogio we have seen a tablet to the
memory of Mino, who lies there, not far from the grave of Verrocchio,
whom he most nearly approached in feeling, although their ideal type of
woman differed in everything save the slenderness of the fingers. The
Bargello has both busts and reliefs by him, all distinguished and
sensitive and marked by Mino's profound refinement. The Madonna and
Child in No. 232 are peculiarly beautiful and notable both for high
relief and shallow relief, and the Child in No. 193 is even more
charming. For delicacy and vivacity in marble portraiture it would
be impossible to surpass the head of Rinaldo della Luna; and the two
Medicis are wonderfully real. Everything in Mino's work is thoughtful
and exquisite, while the unusual type of face which so attracted him
gives him freshness too.

This room and that next it illustrate the wealth of fine sculptors
which Florence had in the fifteenth century, for the works by the
unknown hands are in some cases hardly less beautiful and masterly than
those by the known. Look, for example, at the fleur-de-lis over the
door; at the Madonna and Child next it, on the right; at the girl's
head next to that; at the baby girl at the other end of the room;
and at the older boy and his pendant. But one does not need to come
here to form an idea of the wealth of good sculpture. The streets
alone are full of it. Every palace has beautiful stone-work and an
escutcheon which often only a master could execute--as Donatello
devised that for the Palazzo Pazzi in the Borgo degli Albizzi. On the
great staircase of the Bargello, for example, are numbers of coats
of arms that could not be more beautifully designed and incised.

In the room leading from that which is memorable for Pollaiuolo's
youth in armour is a collection of medals by all the best medallists,
beginning, in the first case, with Pisanello. Here are his Sigismondo
Malatesta, the tyrant of Rimini, and Isotta his wife; here also is
a portrait of Leon Battista Alberti, who designed and worked on the
cathedral of Rimini as well as upon S. Maria Novella in Florence. On
the other side of this case is the medal commemorating the Pazzi
conspiracy. In other cases are pretty Italian ladies, such as Julia
Astalla, Lucrezia Tornabuoni, with her hair in curls just as in
Ghirlandaio's frescoes, Costanza Rucellai, Leonora Altoviti, Maria
Poliziano, and Maria de' Mucini.

And so we come to the della Robbias, without whose joyous, radiant
art Florence would be only half as beautiful as she is. Of these
exquisite artists Luca, the uncle, born in 1400, was by far the
greatest. Andrea, his nephew, born in 1435, came next, and then
Giovanni. Luca seems to have been a serious, quiet man who would
probably have made sculpture not much below his friend Donatello's had
not he chanced on the discovery of a means of colouring and glazing
terra-cotta. Examples of this craft are seen all over Florence both
within doors and out, as the pages of this book indicate, but at the
Bargello is the greatest number of small pieces gathered together. I
do not say there is anything here more notable than the Annunciation
attributed to Andrea at the Spedale degli Innocenti, while of course,
for most people, his putti on the façade of that building are the
della Robbia symbol; nor is there anything finer than Luca's work
at Impruneta; but as a collection of sweetness and gentle domestic
beauty these Bargello reliefs are unequalled, both in character and in
volume. Here you see what one might call Roman Catholic art--that is,
the art which at once gives pleasure to simple souls and symbolizes
benevolence and safety--carried out to its highest power. Tenderness,
happiness, and purity are equally suggested by every relief here. Had
Luca and Andrea been entrusted with the creation of the world it
would be a paradise. And, as it is, it seems to me impossible but
that they left the world sweeter than they found it. Such examples
of affection and solicitude as they were continually bringing to the
popular vision must have engendered kindness.

I have noted as especially beautiful in the first room Nos. 4,
6, 12, 23, by Andrea; and 10 and 21, by Luca. These, by the
way, are the Bargello ascriptions, but the experts do not always
agree. Herr Bode, for example, who has studied the della Robbias with
passionate thoroughness, gives the famous head of the boy, which is
in reproduction one of the best-known works of plastic art, to Luca;
but the Bargello director says Andrea. In Herr Bode's fascinating
monograph, "Florentine Sculptors of the Renaissance," he goes very
carefully into the differences between the uncle and the nephew,
master and pupil. In all the groups, for example, he says that Luca
places the Child on the Madonna's left arm, Andrea on the right. In
the second room I have marked particularly Nos. 21, 28, and 31,
by Luca, 28 being a deeper relief than usual, and the Madonna not
adoring but holding and delighting in one of the most adorable of
Babies. Observe in the reproduction of this relief in this volume--
how the Mother's fingers sink into the child's flesh. Luca was the
first sculptor to notice that. No. 31 is the lovely Madonna of the
Rose Bower. But nothing gives me more pleasure than the boy's head of
which I have just spoken, attributed to Andrea and also reproduced
here. The "Giovane Donna" which pairs with it has extraordinary
charm and delicacy too. I have marked also, by Andrea, Nos. 71 and
76. Giovanni della Robbia's best is perhaps No. 15, in the other room.

One curious thing that one notes about della Robbia pottery is its
inability to travel. It was made for the church and it should remain
there. Even in the Bargello, where there is an ancient environment,
it loses half its charm; while in an English museum it becomes hard
and cold. But in a church to which the poor carry their troubles,
with a dim light and a little incense, it is perfect, far beyond
painting in its tenderness and symbolic value. I speak of course
of the Madonnas and altar-pieces. When the della Robbias worked for
the open air--as in the façade of the Children's Hospital, or at the
Certosa, or in the Loggia di San Paolo, opposite S. Maria Novella,
where one may see the beautiful meeting of S. Francis and S. Dominic,
by Andrea--they seem, in Italy, to have fitness enough; but it would
not do to transplant any of these reliefs to an English façade. There
was once, I might add, in Florence a Via della Robbia, but it is now
the Via Nazionale. I suppose this injustice to the great potters came
about in the eighteen-sixties, when popular political enthusiasm led
to every kind of similar re-naming.

In the room leading out of the second della Robbia room is a collection
of vestments and brocades bequeathed by Baron Giulio Franchetti, where
you may see, dating from as far back as the sixth century, designs
that for beauty and splendour and durability put to shame most of the
stuffs now woven; but the top floor of the Museo Archeologico in the
Via della Colonna is the chief home in Florence of such treasures.

There are other beautiful things in the Bargello of which I have said
nothing--a gallery of mediaeval bells most exquisitely designed, from
famous steeples; cases of carved ivory; and many of such treasures as
one sees at the Cluny in Paris. But it is for its courtyard and for the
Renaissance sculpture that one goes to the Bargello, and returns again
and again to the Bargello, and it is for these that one remembers it.

On returning to London the first duty of every one who has drunk
deep of delight in the Bargello is to visit that too much neglected
treasure-house of our own, the Victoria and Albert Museum at South
Kensington. There may be nothing at South Kensington as fine as the
Bargello's finest, but it is a priceless collection and is superior
to the Bargello in one respect at any rate, for it has a relief
attributed to Leonardo. Here also is an adorable Madonna and laughing
Child, beyond anything in Florence for sheer gaiety if not mischief,
which the South Kensington authorities call a Rossellino but Herr
Bode a Desiderio da Settignano. The room is rich too in Donatello
and in Verrocchio, and altogether it makes a perfect footnote to the
Bargello. It also has within call learned gentlemen who can give
intimate information about the exhibits, which the Bargello badly
lacks. The Louvre and the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in Berlin--but
particularly the Kaiser Friedrich since Herr Bode, who has such
a passion for this period, became its director--have priceless
treasures, and in Paris I have had the privilege of seeing the little
but exquisite collection formed by M. Gustave Dreyfus, dominated by
that mirthful Italian child which the Bargello authorities consider to
be by Donatello, but Herr Bode gives to Desiderio. At the Louvre, in
galleries on the ground floor gained through the Egyptian sculpture
section and opened very capriciously, may be seen the finest of
the prisoners from Michelangelo's tomb for Pope Julius; Donatello's
youthful Baptist; a Madonna and Children by Agostino di Duccio, whom
we saw at the Museum of the Cathedral; an early coloured terra-cotta
by Luca della Robbia, and No. 316, a terra-cotta Madonna and Child
without ascription, which looks very like Rossellino.

In addition to originals there are at South Kensington casts of many
of the Bargello's most valuable possessions, such as Donatello's
and Verrocchio's Davids, Donatello's Baptist and many heads, Mino
da Fiesole's best Madonna, Pollaiuolo's Young Warrior, and so forth;
so that to loiter there is most attractively to recapture something
of the Florentine feeling.



CHAPTER XV

S. Croce

An historic piazza--Marble façades--Florence's Westminster
Abbey--Galileo's ancestor and Ruskin--Benedetto's
pulpit--Michelangelo's tomb--A fond lady--Donatello's
Annunciation--Giotto's frescoes--S. Francis--Donatello magnanimous--The
gifted Alberti--Desiderio's great tomb--The sacristy--The Medici
chapel--The Pazzi chapel--Old Jacopo desecrated--A Restoration.

The piazza S. Croce now belongs to children. The church is at one
end, bizarre buildings are on either side, the Dante statue is in the
middle, and harsh gravel covers the ground. Everywhere are children,
all dirty, and all rather squalid and mostly bow-legged, showing that
they were of the wrong age to take their first steps on Holy Saturday
at noon. The long brown building on the right, as we face S. Croce,
is a seventeenth-century palazzo. For the rest, the architecture is
chiefly notable for green shutters.

The frigid and florid Dante memorial, which was unveiled in 1865 on
the six hundredth anniversary of the poet's birthday, looks gloomily
upon what once was a scene of splendour and animation, for in 1469
Piero de' Medici devised here a tournament in honour of the betrothal
of Lorenzo to Clarice Orsini. The Queen of the tournament was Lucrezia
Donati, and she awarded the first prize to Lorenzo. The tournament cost
10,000 gold florins and was very splendid, Verrocchio and other artists
being called in to design costumes, and it is thought that Pollaiuolo's
terra-cotta of the Young Warrior in the Bargello represents the comely
Giuliano de' Medici as he appeared in his armour in the lists. The
piazza was the scene also of that famous tournament given by Lorenzo
de' Medici for Giuliano in 1474, of which the beautiful Simonetta
was the Queen of Beauty, and to which, as I have said elsewhere, we
owe Botticelli's two most famous pictures. Difficult to reconstruct
in the Piazza any of those glories to-day.

The new façade of S. Croce, endowed not long since by an Englishman,
has been much abused, but it is not so bad. As the front of so
beautiful and wonderful a church it may be inadequate, but as a
structure of black and white marble it will do. To my mind nothing
satisfactory can now be done in this medium, which, unless it is
centuries old, is always harsh and cuts the sky like a knife, instead
of resting against it as architecture should. But when it is old,
as at S. Miniato, it is right.

S. Croce is the Westminster Abbey of Florence. Michelangelo lies here,
Machiavelli lies here, Galileo lies here; and here Giotto painted,
Donatello carved, and Brunelleschi planned. Although outside the church
is disappointing, within it is the most beautiful in Florence. It
has the boldest arches, the best light at all seasons, the most
attractive floor--of gentle red--and an apse almost wholly made of
coloured glass. Not a little of its charm comes from the delicate
passage-way that runs the whole course of the church high up on the
yellow walls. It also has the finest circular window in Florence,
over the main entrance, a "Deposition" by Ghiberti.

The lightness was indeed once so intense that no fewer than twenty-two
windows had to be closed. The circular window over the altar upon which
a new roof seems to be intruding is in reality the interloper: the roof
is the original one, and the window was cut later, in defiance of good
architecture, by Vasari, who, since he was a pupil of Michelangelo,
should have known better. To him was entrusted the restoration of
the church in the middle of the sixteenth century.

The original architect of the modern S. Croce was the same Arnolfo di
Cambio, or Lapo, who began the Duomo. He had some right to be chosen
since his father, Jacopo, or Lapo, a German, was the builder of the
most famous of all the Franciscan churches--that at Assisi, which was
begun while S. Francis was still living. And Giotto, who painted in
that church his most famous frescoes, depicting scenes in the life
of S. Francis, succeeded Arnolfo here, as at the Duomo, with equal
fitness. Arnolfo began S. Croce in 1294, the year that the building of
the Duomo was decided upon, as a reply to the new Dominican Church of
S. Maria Novella, and to his German origin is probably due the Northern
impression which the interiors both of S. Croce and the Duomo convey.

The first thing to examine in S. Croce is the floor-tomb, close to the
centre door, upon which Ruskin wrote one of his most characteristic
passages. The tomb is of an ancestor of Galileo (who lies close
by, but beneath a florid monument), and it represents a mediaeval
scholarly figure with folded hands. Ruskin writes: "That worn face is
still a perfect portrait of the old man, though like one struck out
at a venture, with a few rough touches of a master's chisel. And that
falling drapery of his cap is, in its few lines, faultless, and subtle
beyond description. And now, here is a simple but most useful test of
your capacity for understanding Florentine sculpture or painting. If
you can see that the lines of that cap are both right, and lovely; that
the choice of the folds is exquisite in its ornamental relations of
line; and that the softness and ease of them is complete,--though only
sketched with a few dark touches,--then you can understand Giotto's
drawing, and Botticelli's; Donatello's carving and Luca's. But if
you see nothing in this sculpture, you will see nothing in theirs,
of theirs. Where they choose to imitate flesh, or silk, or to play any
vulgar modern trick with marble--(and they often do)--whatever, in a
word, is French, or American, or Cockney, in their work, you can see;
but what is Florentine, and for ever great--unless you can see also
the beauty of this old man in his citizen's cap,--you will see never."

The passage is in "Mornings in Florence," which begins with S. Croce
and should be read by every one visiting the city. And here let me
advise another companion for this church: a little dark enthusiast, in
a black skull cap, named Alfred Branconi, who is usually to be found
just inside the doors, but may be secured as a guide by a postcard
to the church. Signor Branconi knows S. Croce and he loves it, and
he has the further qualifications of knowing all Florence too and
speaking excellent English, which he taught himself.

The S. Croce pulpit, which is by Benedetto da Maiano, is a satisfying
thing, accomplished both in proportions and workmanship, with panels
illustrating scenes in the life of S. Francis. These are all most
gently and persuasively done, influenced, of course, by the Baptistery
doors, but individual too, and full of a kindred sweetness and
liveliness. The scenes are the "Confirmation of the Franciscan Order"
(the best, I think); the "Burning of the Books"; the "Stigmata,"
which we shall see again in the church, in fresco, for here we are
all dedicated to the saint of Assisi, not yet having come upon the
stern S. Dominic, the ruler at S. Marco and S. Maria Novella; the
"Death of S. Francis," very real and touching, which we shall also
see again; and the execution of certain Franciscans. Benedetto,
who was also an architect and made the plan of the Strozzi palace,
was so unwilling that anything should mar the scheme of his pulpit,
that after strengthening this pillar with the greatest care and
thoroughness, he hollowed it and placed the stairs inside.

The first tomb on the right, close to this pulpit, is Michelangelo's,
a mass of allegory, designed by his friend Vasari, the author of the
"Lives of the Artists," the reading of which is perhaps the best
preparation for the understanding of Florence. "If life pleases us,"
Michelangelo once said, "we ought not to be grieved by death, which
comes from the same Giver." Michelangelo had intended the Pietà, now
in the Duomo, to stand above his grave; but Vasari, who had a little
of the Pepys in his nature, thought to do him greater honour by this
ornateness. The artist was laid to his rest in 1564, but not before his
body was exhumed, by his nephew, at Rome, where the great man had died,
and a series of elaborate ceremonies had been performed, which Vasari,
who is here trustworthy enough, describes minutely. All the artists
in Florence vied in celebrating the dead master in memorial paintings
for his catafalque and its surroundings, which have now perished;
but probably the loss is not great, except as an example of homage,
for that was a bad period. How bad it was may be a little gauged by
Vasari's tributory tomb and his window over the high altar.

Opposite Michelangelo's tomb, on the pillar, is the pretty but rather
Victorian "Madonna del Latte," surrounded by angels, by Bernardo
Rossellino (1409-1464), brother of the author of the great tomb at
S. Miniato. This pretty relief was commissioned as a family memorial
by that Francesco Nori, the close friend of Lorenzo de' Medici, who
was killed in the Duomo during the Pazzi conspiracy in his effort to
save Lorenzo from the assassins.

The tomb of Alfieri, the dramatist, to which we now come, was
erected at the cost of his mistress, the Countess of Albany,
who herself sat to Canova for the figure of bereaved Italy. This
curious and unfortunate woman became, at the age of nineteen, the
wife of the Young Pretender, twenty-seven years after the '45, and
led a miserable existence with him (due chiefly to his depravity,
but a little, she always held, to the circumstance that they chose
Good Friday for their wedding day) until Alfieri fell in love with
her and offered his protection. Together she and the poet remained,
apparently contented with each other and received by society, even
by the English Royal family, until Alfieri died, in 1803, when after
exclaiming that she had lost all--"consolations, support, society,
all, all!"--and establishing this handsome memorial, she selected the
French artist Fabre to fill the aching void in her fifty-years-old
heart; and Fabre not only filled it until her death in 1824, but
became the heir of all that had been bequeathed to her by both the
Stuart and Alfieri. Such was the Countess of Albany, to whom human
affection was so necessary. She herself is buried close by, in the
chapel of the Castellani.

Mrs. Piozzi, in her "Glimpses of Italian Society," mentions seeing
in Florence in 1785 the unhappy Pretender. Though old and sickly,
he went much into society, sported the English arms and livery,
and wore the garter.

Other tombs in the right aisle are those of Machiavelli, the
statesman and author of "The Prince," and Rossini, the composer of
"William Tell," who died in Paris in 1868, but was brought here for
burial. These tombs are modern and of no artistic value, but there
is near them a fine fifteenth-century example in the monument by
Bernardo Rossellino to another statesman and author, Leonardo Bruni,
known as Aretino, who wrote the lives of Dante and Petrarch and a
Latin history of Florence, a copy of which was placed on his heart at
his funeral. This tomb is considered to be Rossellino's masterpiece;
but there is one opposite by another hand which dwarfs it.

There is also a work of sculpture near it, in the same wall, which
draws away the eyes--Donatello's "Annunciation". The experts now think
this to belong to the sculptor's middle period, but Vasari thought it
earlier, and makes it the work which had most influence in establishing
his reputation; while according to the archives it was placed in the
church before Donatello was living. Vasari ought to be better informed
upon this point than usual, since it was he who was employed in the
sixteenth century to renovate S. Croce, at which time the chapel for
whose altar the relief was made--that of the Cavalcanti family--was
removed. The relief now stands unrelated to anything. Every detail of
it should be examined; but Alfred Branconi will see to that. The stone
is the grey pietra serena of Fiesole, and Donatello has plentifully,
but not too plentifully, lightened it with gold, which is exactly what
all artists who used this medium for sculpture should have done. By a
pleasant tactful touch the designer of the modern Donatello monument
in S. Lorenzo has followed the master's lead.

Almost everything of Donatello's that one sees is in turn the best; but
standing before this lovely work one is more than commonly conscious
of being in the presence of a wonderful creator. The Virgin is wholly
unlike any other woman, and She is surprising and modern even for
Donatello with his vast range. The charming terra-cotta boys above
are almost without doubt from the same hand, but they cannot have
been made for this monument.

To the della Robbias we come in the Castellani chapel in the right
transept, which has two full-length statues by either Luca or
Andrea, in the gentle glazed medium, of S. Francis and S. Bernard,
quite different from anything we have seen or shall see, because
isolated. The other full-size figures by these masters--such as
those at Impruneta--are placed against the wall. The S. Bernard,
on the left as one enters the chapel, is far the finer. It surely
must be one of the most beautiful male draped figures in the world.

The next chapel, at the end of the transept, was once enriched by
Giotto frescoes, but they no longer exist. There are, however, an
interesting but restored series of scenes in the life of the Virgin
by Taddeo Gaddi, Giotto's godson; a Madonna ascending to heaven,
by Mainardi, who was Ghirlandaio's pupil, and so satisfactory a one
that he was rewarded by the hand of his master's sister; and a pretty
piece of Gothic sculpture with the Christ Child upon it. Hereabouts,
I may remark, we have continually to be walking over floor-tombs,
now ruined beyond hope, their ruin being perhaps the cause of a
protecting rail being placed round the others; although a floor-tomb
should have, I think, a little wearing from the feet of worshippers,
just to soften the lines. Those at the Certosa are, for example,
far too sharp and clean.

Let us complete the round of the church before we examine the sacristy,
and go now to the two chapels, where Giotto may be found at his best,
although restored too, on this side of the high altar. The Peruzzi
chapel has scenes from the lives of the two S. Johns, the Baptist,
and the Evangelist: all rather too thoroughly re-painted, although
following Giotto's groundwork closely enough to retain much of
their interest and value. And here once again one should consult the
"Mornings in Florence," where the wilful discerning enthusiast is,
like his revered subject, also at his best. Giotto's thoughtfulness
could not be better illustrated than in S. Croce. One sees him, as
ever, thinking of everything: not a very remarkable attribute of the
fresco painter since then, but very remarkable then, when any kind of
facile saintliness sufficed. Signor Bianchi, who found these paintings
under the whitewash in 1853, and restored them, overdid his part,
there is no doubt; but as I have said, their interest is unharmed,
and it is that which one so delights in. Look, for instance, at the
attitude of Drusiana, suddenly twitched by S. John back again into
this vale of tears, while her bier is on its way to the cemetery
outside the pretty city. "Am I really to live again?" she so plainly
says to the inexorable miracle-worker. The dancing of Herodias'
daughter, which offered Giotto less scope, is original too--original
not because it came so early, but because Giotto's mind was original
and innovating and creative. The musician is charming. The last scene
of all is a delightful blend of religious fervour and reality: the
miraculous ascent from the tomb, through an elegant Florentine loggia,
to everlasting glory, in a blaze of gold, and Christ and an apostle
leaning out of heaven with outstretched hands to pull the saint in,
as into a boat. Such a Christ as that could not but be believed in.

In the next chapel, the Bardi, we find Giotto at work on a life of
S. Francis, and here again Ruskin is essential. It was a task which,
since this church was the great effort of the Florentine Franciscans,
would put an artist upon his mettle, and Giotto set the chosen
incidents before the observers with the discretion and skill of the
great biographer that he was, and not only that, but the great Assisi
decorator that he was. No choice could have been better at any time
in the history of art. Giotto chose the following scenes, one or two
of which coincide with those on Benedetto da Maiano's pulpit, which
came of course many years later: the "Confirmation of the Rules of the
Franciscans," "S. Francis before the Sultan and the Magi," "S. Francis
Sick and Appearing to the Bishop of Assisi," "S. Francis Fleeing from
His Father's House and His Reception by the Bishop of Assisi," and the
"Death of S. Francis". Giotto's Assisi frescoes, which preceded these,
anticipate them; but in some cases these are considered to be better,
although in others not so good. It is generally agreed that the death
scene is the best. Note the characteristic touch by which Giotto makes
one of the monks at the head of the bed look up at the precise moment
when the saint dies, seeing him being received into heaven. According
to Vasari, one of the two monks (on the extreme left, as I suppose)
is Giotto's portrait of the architect of the church, Amolfo. The altar
picture, consisting of many more scenes in the life of S. Francis,
is often attributed to Cimabue, Giotto's master, but probably is by
another hand. In one of these scenes the saint is found preaching
to what must be the most attentive birds on record. The figures on
the ceiling represent Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, which all
Franciscans are pledged to observe. The glass is coeval with the
building, which has been described as the most perfect Gothic chapel
in existence.

The founder of this chapel was Ridolfo de' Bardi, whose family early
in the fourteenth century bade fair to become as powerful as the
Medici, and by the same means, their business being banking and
money-lending, in association with the founders of the adjoining
chapel, the Peruzzi. Ridolfo's father died in 1310, and his son,
who had become a Franciscan, in 1327; and the chapel was built,
and Giotto probably painted the frescoes, soon after the father's
death. Both the Bardi and Peruzzi were brought low by our King Edward
III, who borrowed from them money with which to fight the French,
at Crecy and Poitiers, and omitted to repay it.

The chapels in the left transept are less interesting, except perhaps
to students of painting in its early days. In the chapel at the end
we find Donatello's wooden crucifix which led to that friendly rivalry
on the part of Brunelleschi, the story of which is one of the best in
all Vasari. Donatello, having finished this wooden crucifix, and being
unusually satisfied with it, asked Brunelleschi's opinion, confidently
expecting praise. But Brunelleschi, who was sufficiently close a friend
to say what he thought, replied that the type was too rough and common:
it was not Christ but a peasant. Christ, of course, was a peasant;
but by peasant Brunelleschi meant a stupid, dull man. Donatello,
chagrined, had recourse to what has always been a popular retort to
critics, and challenged him to make a better. Brunelleschi took it very
quietly:  he said nothing in reply, but secretly for many months, in
the intervals of his architecture, worked at his own version, and then
one day, when it was finished, invited Donatello to dinner, stopping
at the Mercato Vecchio to get some eggs and other things. These he
gave Donatello to carry, and sent him on before him to the studio,
where the crucifix was standing unveiled. When Brunelleschi arrived he
found the eggs scattered and broken on the floor and Donatello before
his carving in an ecstasy of admiration. "But what are we going to
have for dinner?" the host inquired. "Dinner!" said Donatello; "I've
had all the dinner I require. To thee it is given to carve Christs:
to me only peasants." No one should forget this pretty story, either
here or at S. Maria Novella, where Brunelleschi's crucifix now is.

The flexible Siena iron grille of this end chapel dates from 1335. Note
its ivy border.

On entering the left aisle we find the tombs of Cherubini, the
composer, Raphael Morghen, the engraver, and that curious example of
the Florentine universalist, whose figure we saw under the Uffizi,
Leon Battista Alberti (1405-1472), architect, painter, author,
mathematician, scholar, conversationalist, aristocrat, and friend of
princes. His chief work in Florence is the Rucellai palace and the
façade of S. Maria Novella, but he was greater as an influence than
creator, and his manuals on architecture, painting, and the study of
perspective helped to bring the arts to perfection. It is at Rimini
that he was perhaps most wonderful. Lorenzo de' Medici greatly valued
his society, and he was a leader in the Platonic Academy. But the most
human achievement to his credit is his powerful plea for using the
vernacular in literature, rather than concealing one's best thoughts,
as was fashionable before his protest, in Latin. So much for Alberti's
intellectual side. Physically he was remarkable too, and one of his
accomplishments was to jump over a man standing upright, while he was
also able to throw a coin on to the highest tower, even, I suppose,
the Campanile, and ride any horse, however wild. At the Bargello may
be seen Alberti's portrait, on a medal designed by Pisanello. The old
medals are indeed the best authority for the lineaments of the great
men of the Renaissance, better far than paint. At South Kensington
thousands may be seen, either in the original or in reproduction.

In the right aisle we saw Bernardo Rossellino's tomb of Leonardo Bruni;
in the left is that of Bruni's successor as Secretary of State, Carlo
Marsuppini, by Desiderio da Settignano, which is high among the most
beautiful monuments that exist. "Faine, faine!" says Alfred Branconi,
with his black eyes dimmed; and this though he has seen it every day
for years and explained its beauties in the same words. Everything
about it is beautiful, as the photograph which I give in this volume
will help the reader to believe: proportions, figures, and tracery;
but I still consider Mino's monument to Ugo in the Badia the finest
Florentine example of the gentler memorial style, as contrasted with
the severe Michelangelesque manner. Mino, it must be remembered,
was Desiderio's pupil, as Desiderio was Donatello's. Note how
Desiderio, by an inspiration, opened the leaf-work at each side of
the sarcophagus and instantly the great solid mass of marble became
light, almost buoyant. Never can a few strokes of the chisel have had
so transforming an effect. There is some doubt as to whether the boys
are just where the sculptor set them, and the upper ones with their
garlands are thought to be a later addition; but we are never likely
to know. The returned visitor from Florence will like to be reminded
that, as of so many others of the best Florentine sculptures, there
is a cast of this at South Kensington.

The last tomb of the highest importance in the church is that of
Galileo, the astronomer, who died in 1642; but it is not interesting
as a work of art. In the centre of the church is a floor-tomb by
Ghiberti, with a bronze figure of a famous Franciscan, Francesco
Sansoni da Brescia.

Next the sacristy. Italian priests apparently have no resentment
against inquisitive foreigners who are led into their dressing-rooms
while sumptuous and significant vestments are being donned; but I must
confess to feeling it for them, and if my impressions of the S. Croce
sacristy are meagre and confused it is because of a certain delicacy
that I experienced in intruding upon their rites. For on both occasions
when I visited the sacristy there were several priests either robing
or disrobing. Apart from a natural disinclination to invade privacy,
I am so poor a Roman Catholic as to be in some doubt as to whether one
has a right to be so near such a mystery at all. But I recollect that
in this sacristy are treasures of wood and iron--the most beautiful
intarsia wainscotting I ever saw, by Giovanni di Michele, with a frieze
of wolves and foliage, and fourteenth-century iron gates to the little
chapel, pure Gothic in design, with a little rose window at the top,
delicate beyond words: all which things once again turn the thoughts
to this wonderful Italy of the fourteenth and fifteenth century,
when not even the best was good enough for those who built churches,
but something miraculous was demanded from every craftsman.

At the end of the passage in which the sacristy is situated is the
exquisite little Cappella Medici, which Michelozzo, the architect of
S. Marco and the Palazzo Medici, and for a while Donatello's partner,
built for his friend Cosimo de' Medici, who though a Dominican in his
cell at S. Marco was a Franciscan here, but by being equally a patron
dissociated himself from partisanship. Three treasures in particular
does this little temple hold: Giotto's "Coronation of the Virgin"; the
della Robbia altar relief, and Mino da Fiesole's tabernacle. Giotto's
picture, which is signed, once stood as altar-piece in the Baroncelli
chapel of the church proper. In addition to the beautiful della
Robbia altar-piece, so happy and holy--which Alfred Branconi boldly
calls Luca--there is over the door Christ between two angels,
a lovely example of the same art. For a subtler, more modern and
less religious mind, we have but to turn to the tabernacle by Mino,
every inch of which is exquisite.

On the same wall is a curious thing. In the eighteen-sixties died
a Signor Lombardi, who owned certain reliefs which he believed to
be Donatello's. When his monument was made these ancient works were
built into them and here and there gilded (for it is a wicked world
and there was no taste at that time). One's impulse is not to look
at this encroaching piece of novelty at all; but one should resist
that feeling, because, on examination, the Madonna and Children above
Signor Lombardi's head become exceedingly interesting. Her hands are
the work of a great artist, and they are really holding the Child. Why
this should not be an early Donatello I do not see.

The cloisters of S. Croce are entered from the piazza, just to the
right of the church: the first, a little ornate, by Arnolfo, and
the second, until recently used as a barracks but now being restored
to a more pacific end, by Brunelleschi, and among the most perfect
of his works. Brunelleschi is also the designer of the Pazzi chapel
in the first cloisters. The severity of the façade is delightfully
softened and enlivened by a frieze of mischievous cherubs' heads, the
joint work of Donatello and Desiderio. Donatello's are on the right,
and one sees at once that his was the bolder, stronger hand. Look
particularly at the laughing head fourth from the right. But that one
of Desiderio's over the middle columns has much charm and power. The
doors, from Brunelleschi's own hand, in a doorway perfect in scale,
are noble and worthy. The chapel itself I find too severe and a little
fretted by its della Robbias and the multiplicity of circles. It is
called Brunelleschi's masterpiece, but I prefer both the Badia of
Fiesole and the Old Sacristy at S. Lorenzo, and I remember with more
pleasure the beautiful doorway leading from the Arnolfo cloisters
to the Brunelleschi cloisters, which probably is his too. The
della Robbia reliefs, once one can forgive them for being here, are
worth study. Nothing could be more charming (or less conducive to a
methodical literary morning) than the angel who holds S. Matthew's
ink-pot. But I think my favourite of all is the pensive apostle who
leans his cheek on his hand and his elbow on his book. This figure
alone proves what a sculptor Luca was, apart altogether from the
charm of his mind and the fascination of his chosen medium.

This chapel was once the scene of a gruesome ceremony. Old Jacopo
Pazzi, the head of the family at the time of the Pazzi conspiracy
against the Medici, after being hanged from a window of the Palazzo
Vecchio, was buried here. Some short while afterwards Florence was
inundated by rain to such an extent that the vengeance of God was
inferred, and, casting about for a reason, the Florentines decided
that it was because Jacopo had been allowed to rest in sacred soil. A
mob therefore rushed to S. Croce, broke open his tomb and dragged
his body through the streets, stopping on their way at the Pazzi
palace to knock on the door with his skull. He was then thrown into
the swollen Arno and borne away by the tide.

In the old refectory of the convent are now a number of pictures
and fragments of sculpture. The "Last Supper," by Taddeo Gaddi, on
the wall, is notable for depicting Judas, who had no shrift at the
hands of the painters, without a halo. Castagno and Ghirlandaio,
as we shall see, under similar circumstances, placed him on the
wrong side of the table. In either case, but particularly perhaps in
Taddeo's picture, the answer to Christ's question, which Leonardo at
Milan makes so dramatic, is a foregone conclusion. The "Crucifixion"
on the end wall, at the left, is interesting as having been painted
for the Porta S. Gallo (in the Piazza Cavour) and removed here. All
the gates of Florence had religious frescoes in them, some of which
still remain. The great bronze bishop is said to be by Donatello and
to have been meant for Or San Michele; but one does not much mind.

One finds occasion to say so many hard things of the Florentine
disregard of ancient art that it is peculiarly a pleasure to see
the progress that is being made in restoring Brunelleschi's perfect
cloisters at S. Croce to their original form. When they were turned
into barracks the Loggia was walled in all round and made into a series
of rooms. These walls are now gradually coming away, the lovely pillars
being again isolated, the chimneys removed, and everything lightly
washed. Grass has also been sown in the great central square. The
crumbling of the decorative medals in the spandrels of the cloisters
cannot of course be restored; but one does not complain of such
natural decay as that.



CHAPTER XVI

The Accademia

Michelangelo--The David--The tomb of Julius--A contrast--Fra
Angelico--The beatific painter--Cimabue and Giotto--Masaccio--Gentile
da Fabriano--Domenico Ghirlandaio--Fra Angelico again--Fra
Bartolommeo--Perugino--Botticelli--The "Primavera"--Leonardo da Vinci
and Verrocchio--Botticelli's sacred pictures--Botticini--Tapestries
of Eden.

The Accademia delle Belle Arti is in the Via Ricasoli, that street
which seen from the top of the Campanile is the straightest thing in
Florence, running like a ruled line from the Duomo to the valley of
the Mugnone. Upstairs are modern painters: but upstairs I have never
been. It is the ground-floor rooms that are so memorable, containing
as they do a small but very choice collection of pictures illustrating
the growth of Italian art, with particular emphasis on Florentine
art; the best assemblage of the work of Fra Angelico that exists;
and a large gallery given up to Michelangelo's sculpture: originals
and casts. The principal magnets that draw people here, no doubt,
are the Fra Angelicos and Botticelli's "Primavera"; but in five at
least of the rooms there is not an uninteresting picture, while the
collection is so small that one can study it without fatigue--no
little matter after the crowded Uffizi and Pitti.

It is a simple matter to choose in such a book as this the best
place in which to tell something of the life-story of, say, Giotto
and Brunelleschi and the della Robbias; for at a certain point their
genius is found concentrated--Donatello's and the della Robbias'
in the Bargello and those others at the Duomo and Campanile. But
with Michelangelo it is different, he is so distributed over the
city--his gigantic David here, the Medici tombs at S. Lorenzo, his
fortifications at S. Miniato, his tomb at S. Croce, while there remains
his house as a natural focus of all his activities. I have, however,
chosen the Medici chapel as the spot best suited for his biography,
and therefore will here dwell only on the originals that are preserved
about the David. The David himself, superb and confident, is the
first thing you see in entering the doors of the gallery. He stands
at the end, white and glorious, with his eyes steadfastly measuring
his antagonist and calculating upon what will be his next move if the
sling misdirects the stone. Of the objection to the statue as being
not representative of the Biblical figure I have said something in the
chapter on the Bargello, where several Davids come under review. Yet,
after all that can be said against its dramatic fitness, the statue
remains an impressive and majestic yet strangely human thing. There
it is--a sign of what a little Italian sculptor with a broken nose
could fashion with his mallet and chisel from a mass of marble four
hundred and more years ago.

Its history is curious. In 1501, when Michelangelo was twenty-six
and had just returned to Florence from Rome with a great reputation
as a sculptor, the joint authorities of the cathedral and the Arte
della Lana offered him a huge block of marble that had been in their
possession for thirty-five years, having been worked upon clumsily by
a sculptor named Baccellino and then set aside. Michelangelo was told
that if he accepted it he must carve from it a David and have it done
in two years. He began in September, 1501, and finished in January,
1504, and a committee was appointed to decide upon its position,
among them being Leonardo da Vinci, Perugino, Lorenzo di Credi,
Filippino Lippi, Botticelli, and Andrea della Robbia, There were
three suggested sites: the Loggia de' Lanzi; the courtyard of the
Palazzo Vecchio, where Verrocchio's little boudoir David then stood
(now in the Bargello) and where his Cupid and dolphin now are; and
the place where it now stands, then occupied by Donatello's Judith and
Holofernes. This last was finally selected, not by the committee but by
the determination of Michelangelo himself, and Judith and Holofernes
were moved to the Loggia de' Lanzi to their present position. The
David was set up in May, 1504, and remained there for three hundred
and sixty-nine years, suffering no harm from the weather but having
an arm broken in the Medici riots in 1527. In 1878, however, it was
decided that further exposure might be injurious, and so the statue
was moved here to its frigid niche and a replica in marble afterwards
set up in its place. Since this glorious figure is to be seen thrice
in Florence, he may be said to have become the second symbol of the
city, next the fleur-de-lis.

The Tribuna del David, as the Michelangelo salon is called, has
among other originals several figures intended for that tomb of Pope
Julius II (whose portrait by Raphael we have seen at the Uffizi)
which was to be the eighth wonder of the world, and by which the last
years of the sculptor's life were rendered so unhappy. The story
is a miserable one. Of the various component parts of the tomb,
finished or unfinished, the best known is the Moses at S. Pietro
in Vincoli at Rome, reproduced in plaster here, in the Accademia,
beneath the bronze head of its author. Various other parts are in Rome
too; others here; one or two may be at the Bargello (although some
authorities give these supposed Michelangelos to Vincenzo Danti);
others are in the grotto of the Boboli Gardens; and the Louvre has
what is in some respects the finest of the "Prisoners".

The first statue on the right of the entrance of the Tribuna del David
is a group called "Genio Vittorioso". Here in the old man we see rock
actually turned to life; in the various "Prisoners" near we see life
emerging from rock; in the David we forget the rock altogether. One
wonders how Michelangelo went to work. Did the shape of the block
of marble influence him, or did he with his mind's eye, the Röntgen
rays of genius, see the figure within it, embedded in the midst, and
hew and chip until it disclosed? On the back of the fourth statue on
the left a monkish face has been incised: probably some visitor to the
studio. After looking at these originals and casts, and remembering
those other Michelangelo sculptures elsewhere in Florence--the tombs
of the Medici, the Brutus and the smaller David--turn to the bronze
head over the cast of Moses and reflect upon the author of it all:
the profoundly sorrowful eyes behind which so much power and ambition
and disappointment dwelt.

It is peculiarly interesting to walk out of the Michelangelo gallery
into the little room containing the Fra Angelicos: to pass from a great
melancholy saturnine sculptor, the victim of the caprice of princes
temporal and spiritual, his eyes troubled with world knowledge and
world weariness, to the child-like celebrant of the joy of simple faith
who painted these gay and happy pictures. Fra Angelico--the sweetest
of all the Florentine painters--was a monk of Fiesole, whose real name
was Guido Petri da Mugello, but becoming a Dominican he called himself
Giovanni, and now through the sanctity and happiness of his brush is
for all time Beato Angelico. He was born in 1390, nearly sixty years
after Giotto's death, when Chaucer was fifty, and Richard II on the
English throne. His early years were spent in exile from Fiesole,
the brothers having come into difficulties with the Archbishop,
but by 1418 he was again at Fiesole, and when in 1436 Cosimo de'
Medici, returned from exile at Venice, set his friend Michelozzo
upon building the convent of S. Marco, Fra Angelico was fetched from
Fiesole to decorate the walls. There, and here, in the Accademia, are
his chief works assembled; but he worked also at Fiesole, at Cortona,
and at Rome, where he painted frescoes in the chapel of Nicholas V in
the Vatican and where he died, aged sixty-eight, and was buried. It
was while at Rome that the Pope offered him the priorship of S. Marco,
which he declined as being unworthy, but recommended Antonio, "the good
archbishop".--That practically is his whole life. As to his character,
let Vasari tell us. "He would often say that whosoever practised art
needed a quiet life and freedom from care, and he who occupies himself
with the things of Christ ought always to be with Christ. . . . Some
say that Fra Giovanni never took up his brush without first making a
prayer. . . . He never made a crucifix when the tears did not course
down his cheeks." The one curious thing--to me--about Fra Angelico
is that he has not been canonized. If ever a son of the Church toiled
for her honour and for the happiness of mankind it was he.

There are examples of Fra Angelico's work elsewhere in Florence;
the large picture in Room I of this gallery; the large altar-piece
at the Uffizi, with certain others; the series of mural paintings
in the cells of S. Marco; and his pictures will be found not only
elsewhere in Florence and Italy but in the chief galleries of the
world; for he was very assiduous. We have an excellent example at
the National Gallery, No. 663; but this little room gives us the
artist and rhapsodist most completely. In looking at his pictures,
three things in particular strike the mind: the skill with which he
composed them; his mastery of light; and--and here he is unique--the
pleasure he must have had in painting them. All seem to have been play;
he enjoyed the toil exactly as a child enjoys the labour of building
a house with toy bricks. Nor, one feels, could he be depressed. Even
in his Crucifixions there is a certain underlying happiness, due
to his knowledge that the Crucified was to rise again and ascend to
Heaven and enjoy eternal felicity. Knowing this (as he did know it)
how could he be wholly cast down? You see it again in the Flagellation
of Christ, in the series of six scenes (No. 237). The scourging is
almost a festival. But best of all I like the Flight into Egypt, in
No. 235. Everything here is joyous and (in spite of the terrible cause
of the journey) bathed in the sunny light of the age of innocence:
the landscape; Joseph, younger than usual, brave and resolute and
undismayed by the curious turn in his fortunes; and Mary with the
child in her arms, happy and pretty, seated securely on an amiable
donkey that has neither bit nor bridle. It is when one looks at
Fra Angelico that one understands how wise were the Old Masters to
seek their inspiration in the life of Christ. One cannot imagine Fra
Angelico's existence in a pagan country. Look, in No. 236, at the six
radiant and rapturous angels clustering above the manger. Was there
ever anything prettier? But I am not sure that I do not most covet
No. 250, Christ crucified and two saints, and No. 251, the Coronation
of the Virgin, for their beauty of light.

In the photographs No. 246--a Deposition--is unusually striking,
but in the original, although beautiful, it is far less radiant than
usual with this painter. It has, however, such feeling as to make it
especially memorable among the many treatments of this subject. What
is generally considered the most important work in this room is the
Last Judgment, which is certainly extraordinarily interesting, and in
the hierarchy of heaven and the company of the blest Fra Angelico is
in a very acceptable mood. The benignant Christ Who divides the sheep
and the goats; the healthy ripe-lipped Saints and Fathers who assist
at the tribunal and have never a line of age or experience on their
blooming cheeks; the monks and nuns, just risen from their graves, who
embrace each other in the meads of paradise with such fervour--these
have much of the charm of little flowers. But in delineating the damned
the painter is in strange country. It was a subject of which he knew
nothing, and the introduction among them of monks of the rival order
of S. Francis is mere party politics and a blot.

There are two other rooms here, but Fra Angelico spoils us for
them. Four panels by another Frate, but less radiant, Lippo Lippi, are
remarkable, particularly the figure of the Virgin in the Annunciation;
and there is a curious series of scenes entitled "L'Albero della
Croce," by an Ignoto of the fourteenth century, with a Christ crucified
in the midst and all Scripture in medallions around him, the tragedy of
Adam and Eve at the foot (mutilated by some chaste pedant) being very
quaint. And in Angelico's rooms there is a little, modest Annunciation
by one of his school--No. 256--which shows what a good influence he
was, and to which the eye returns and returns. Here also, on easels,
are two portraits of Vallombrosan monks by Fra Bartolommeo, serene,
and very sympathetically painted, which cause one to regret the
deterioration in Italian ecclesiastic physiognomy; and Andrea del
Sarto's two pretty angels, which one so often finds in reproduction,
are here too.

Let us now enter the first room of the collection proper and begin at
the very beginning of Tuscan art, for this collection is historical
and not fortuitous like that of the Pitti. The student may here trace
the progress of Tuscan painting from the level to the highest peaks
and downwards again. The Accademia was established with this purpose
by that enlightened prince, Peter Leopold, Grand Duke of Tuscany,
in 1784. Other pictures not wholly within his scheme have been added
since, together with the Michelangelo statues and casts; but they do
not impair the original idea. For the serious student the first room
is of far the most importance, for there he may begin with Cimabue
(? 1240-? 1302), and Giotto (1267-? 1337), and pass steadily to Luca
Signorelli (? 1450-1523). For the most part the pictures in this room
appeal to the inquirer rather than the sightseer; but there is not
one that is without interest, while three works of extraordinary charm
have thoughtfully been enisled, on screens, for special attention--a
Fra Angelico, a Fabriano, and a Ghirlandaio. Before reaching these,
let us look at the walls.

The first large picture, on the left, the Cimabue, marks the transition
from Byzantine art to Italian art. Giovanni Cimabue, who was to be
the forerunner of the new art, was born about 1240. At that time
there was plenty of painting in Italy, but it was Greek, the work of
artists at Constantinople (Byzantium), the centre of Christianity in
the eastern half of the Roman Empire and the fount of ecclesiastical
energy, and it was crude workmanship, existing purely as an accessory
of worship. Cimabue, of whom, I may say, almost nothing definite
is known, and upon whom the delightful but casual old Vasari is the
earliest authority, as Dante was his first eulogist, carried on the
Byzantine tradition, but breathed a little life into it. In his picture
here we see him feeling his way from the unemotional painted symbols
of the Faith to humanity itself. One can understand this large panel
being carried (as we know the similar one at S. Maria Novella was)
in procession and worshipped, but it is nearer to the icon of the
Russian peasant of today than to a Raphael. The Madonna is above
life; the Child is a little man. This was painted, say, in 1280,
as an altar-piece for the Badia of S. Trinità at Florence.

Next came Giotto, Cimabue's pupil, born about 1267, whom we have
met already as an architect, philosopher, and innovator; and in the
second picture in this room, from Giotto's brush, we see life really
awakening. The Madonna is vivifying; the Child is nearer childhood; we
can believe that here are veins with blood in them. Moreover, whereas
Cimabue's angels brought masonry, these bring flowers. It is crude,
no doubt, but it is enough; the new art, which was to counterfeit
and even extend nature, has really begun; the mystery and glory of
painting are assured and the door opened for Botticelli.

But much had to happen first, particularly the mastery of the laws of
perspective, and it was not (as we have seen) until Ghiberti had got
to work on his first doors, and Brunelleschi was studying architecture
and Uccello sitting up all night at his desk, that painting as we
know it--painting of men and women "in the round"--could be done,
and it was left for a youth who was not born until Giotto had been
dead sixty-four years to do this first as a master--one Tommaso
di Ser Giovanni Guido da Castel San Giovanni, known as Masaccio,
or Big Tom. The three great names then in the evolution of Italian
painting, a subject to which I return in chapter XXV, on the Carmine,
are Cimabue, Giotto, Masaccio.

We pass on at the Accademia from Cimabue's pupil Giotto, to Giotto's
followers, Taddeo Gaddi and Bernardo Daddi, and Daddi's follower
Spinello Aretino, and the long dependent and interdependent line of
painters. For the most part they painted altar-pieces, these early
craftsmen, the Church being the principal patron of art. These
works are many of them faded and so elementary as to have but an
antiquarian interest; but think of the excitement in those days when
the picture was at last ready, and, gay in its gold, was erected in the
chapel! Among the purely ecclesiastical works No. 137, an Annunciation
by Giovanni del Biondo (second half of the fourteenth century),
is light and cheerful, and No. 142, the Crowning of the Virgin, by
Rosello di Jacopo Franchi (1376-1456), has some delightful details and
is everywhere joyous, with a charming green pattern in it. The wedding
scenes in No. 147 give us Florentine life on the mundane side with
some valuable thoroughness, and the Pietro Lorenzetti above--scenes
in the life of S. Umilita--is very quaint and cheery and was painted
as early as 1316. The little Virgin adoring, No. 160, in the corner,
by the fertile Ignoto, is charmingly pretty.

And now for the three screens, notable among the screens of the
galleries of Europe as holding three of the happiest pictures
ever painted. The first is the Adoration of the Magi, by Gentile
da Fabriano, an artist of whom one sees too little. His full
name was Gentile di Niccolò di Giovanni Massi, and he was born
at Fabriano between 1360 and 1370, some twenty years before Fra
Angelico. According to Vasari he was Fra Angelico's master, but
that is now considered doubtful, and yet the three little scenes
from the life of Christ in the predella of this picture are nearer
Fra Angelico in spirit and charm than any, not by a follower, that I
have seen. Gentile did much work at Venice before he came to Florence,
in 1422, and this picture, which is considered his masterpiece, was
painted in 1423 for S. Trinita. He died four years later. Gentile
was charming rather than great, and to this work might be applied
Ruskin's sarcastic description of poor Ghirlandaio's frescoes, that
they are mere goldsmith's work; and yet it is much more, for it has
gaiety and sweetness and the nice thoughtfulness that made the Child a
real child, interested like a child in the bald head of the kneeling
mage; while the predella is not to be excelled in its modest, tender
beauty by any in Florence; and predellas, I may remark again, should
never be overlooked, strong as the tendency is to miss them. Many
a painter has failed in the large space or made only a perfunctory
success, but in the small has achieved real feeling. Gentile's Holy
Family on its way to Egypt is never to be forgotten. Not so radiant
as Fra Angelico's, in the room we have visited out of due course,
but as charming in its own manner--both in personages and landscape;
while the city to which Joseph leads the donkey (again without reins)
is the most perfect thing out of fairyland.

Ghirlandaio's picture, which is the neighbour of Gentile's, is as
a whole nearer life and one of his most attractive works. It is,
I think, excelled only by his very similar Adoration of the Magi
at the Spedale degli Innocenti, which, however, it is difficult to
see; and it is far beyond the examples at the Uffizi, which are too
hot. Of the life of this artist, who was Michelangelo's master, I
shall speak in the chapter on S. Maria Novella. This picture, which
represents the Adoration of the Shepherds, was painted in 1485, when
the artist was thirty-six. It is essentially pleasant: a religious
picture on the sunny side. The Child is the soul of babyish content,
equally amused with its thumb and the homage it is receiving. Close
by is a goldfinch unafraid; in the distance is a citied valley, with
a river winding in it; and down a neighbouring hill, on the top of
which the shepherds feed their flocks, comes the imposing procession
of the Magi. Joseph is more than commonly perplexed, and the disparity
between his own and his wife's age, which the old masters agreed to
make considerable, is more considerable than usual.

Both Gentile and Ghirlandaio chose a happy subject and made it happier;
Fra Angelico (for the third screen picture) chose a melancholy
subject and made it happy, not because that was his intention, but
because he could not help it. He had only one set of colours and one
set of countenances, and since the colours were of the gayest and the
countenances of the serenest, the result was bound to be peaceful and
glad. This picture is a large "Deposizione della Croce," an altar-piece
for S. Trinità. There is such joy in the painting and light in the
sky that a child would clap his hands at it all, and not least at
the vermilion of the Redeemer's blood. Fra Angelico gave thought to
every touch: and his beatific holiness floods the work. Each of these
three great pictures, I may add, has its original frame.

The room which leads from this one is much less valuable; but Fra
Bartolommeo's Vision of S. Bernard has lately been brought to an easel
here to give it character. I find this the Frate's most beautiful
work. It may have details that are a little crude, and the pointed nose
of the Virgin is not perhaps in accordance with the best tradition,
while she is too real for an apparition; but the figure of the kneeling
saint is masterly and the landscape lovely in subject and feeling. Here
too is Fra Bartolommeo's portrait of Savonarola, in which the reformer
is shown as personating S. Peter Martyr. The picture was not painted
from life, but from an earlier portrait. Fra Bartolommeo had some
reason to know what Savonarola was like, for he was his personal
friend and a brother in the same convent of S. Marco, a few yards
from the Accademia, across the square. He was born in 1475 and was
apprenticed to the painter Cosimo Rosselli; but he learned more from
studying Masaccio's frescoes at the Carmine and the work of Leonardo da
Vinci. It was in 1495 that he came under the influence of Savonarola,
and he was the first artist to run home and burn his studies from the
nude in response to the preacher's denunciations. Three years later,
when Savonarola was an object of hatred and the convent of S. Marco
was besieged, the artist was with him, and he then made a vow that if
he lived he would join the order; and this promise he kept, although
not until Savonarola had been executed. For a while, as a monk, he
laid aside the brush, but in 1506 he resumed it and painted until
his death, in 1517. He was buried at S. Marco.

In his less regenerate days Fra Bartolommeo's greatest friend was the
jovial Mariotto Albertinelli, whose rather theatrical Annunciation
hangs between a number of the monk's other portraits, all very
interesting. Of Albertinelli I have spoken earlier. Before leaving,
look at the tiny Ignoto next the door--a Madonna and Child, the child
eating a pomegranate. It is a little picture to steal.

In the next room are a number of the later and showy painters, such as
Carlo Dolci, Lorenzo Lippi, and Francesco Furini, all bold, dashing,
self-satisfied hands, in whom (so near the real thing) one can take
no interest. Nothing to steal here.

Returning through Sala Prima we come to the Sala del Perugino and
are among the masters once more--riper and richer than most of
those we have already seen, for Tuscan art here reaches its finest
flower. Perugino is here and Botticelli, Fra Bartolommeo and Leonardo,
Luca Signorelli, Fra Lippo Lippi and Filippino Lippi. And here is a
Masaccio. The great Perugino Assumption has all his mellow sunset calm,
and never was a landscape more tenderly sympathetic. The same painter's
Deposition hangs next, and the custodian brings a magnifying glass
that the tears on the Magdalen's cheek may be more closely observed;
but the third, No. 53, Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, is finer,
and here again the landscape and light are perfect. For the rest,
there is a Royal Academy Andrea and a formal Ghirlandaio.

And now we come to Botticelli, who although less richly represented
in numbers than at the Uffizi, is for the majority of his admirers
more to be sought here, by reason of the "Primavera" allegory,
which is the Accademia's most powerful magnet. The Botticellis are
divided between two rooms, the "Primavera" being in the first. The
first feeling one has is how much cooler it is here than among the
Peruginos, and how much gayer; for not only is there the "Primavera,"
but Fra Lippo Lippi is here too, with a company of angels helping
to crown the Virgin, and a very sweet, almost transparent, little
Madonna adoring--No. 79--which one cannot forget.

The "Primavera" is not wearing too well: one sees that at once. Being
in tempera it cannot be cleaned, and a dulness is overlaying it; but
nothing can deprive the figure of Spring of her joy and movement,
a floating type of conquering beauty and youth. The most wonderful
thing about this wonderful picture is that it should have been painted
when it was: that, suddenly, out of a solid phalanx of Madonnas should
have stepped these radiant creatures of the joyous earth, earthy and
joyful. And not only that they should have so surprisingly and suddenly
emerged, but that after all these years this figure of Spring should
still be the finest of her kind. That is the miracle! Luca Signorelli's
flowers at the Uffizi remain the best, but Botticelli's are very
thoughtful and before the grass turned black they must have been very
lovely; the exquisite drawing of the irises in the right-hand corner
can still be traced, although the colour has gone. The effect now is
rather like a Chinese painting. For the history of the "Primavera"
and its signification, one must turn back to Chapter X.

I spoke just now of Luca's flowers. There are others in his picture in
this room--botanist's flowers as distinguished from painter's flowers:
the wild strawberry beautifully straggling. This picture is one of
the most remarkable in all Florence to me: a Crucifixion to which
the perishing of the colour has given an effect of extreme delicacy,
while the group round the cross on the distant mound has a quality for
which one usually goes to Spanish art. The Magdalen is curiously sulky
and human. Into the skull at the foot of the cross creeps a lizard.

This room has three Lippo Lippis, which is an interesting circumstance
when we remember that that dissolute brother was the greatest influence
on Botticelli. The largest is the Coronation of the Virgin with its
many lilies--a picture which one must delight in, so happy and crowded
is it, but which never seems to me quite what it should be. The most
fascinating part of it is the figures in the two little medallions:
two perfect pieces of colour and design. The kneeling monk on the
right is Lippo Lippi himself. Near it is the Madonna adoring, No. 79,
of which I have spoken, with herself so luminous and the background
so dark; the other--No. 82--is less remarkable. No. 81, above it,
is by Browning's Pacchiorotto (who worked in distemper); close by
is the Masaccio, which has a deep, quiet beauty; and beneath it is a
richly coloured predella by Andrea del Sarto, the work of a few hours,
I should guess, and full of spirit and vigour. It consists of four
scriptural scenes which might be called the direct forerunners of
Sir John Gilbert and the modern illustrators. Lastly we have what
is in many ways the most interesting picture in Florence--No. 71,
the Baptism of Christ--for it is held by some authorities to be the
only known painting by Verrocchio, whose sculptures we saw in the
Bargello and at Or San Michele, while in one of the angels--that
surely on the left--we are to see the hand of his pupil Leonardo da
Vinci. Their faces are singularly sweet. Other authorities consider
not only that Verrocchio painted the whole picture himself but that
he painted also the Annunciation at the Uffizi to which Leonardo's
name is given. Be that as it may--and we shall never know--this
is a beautiful thing. According to Vasari it was the excellence
of Leonardo's contribution which decided Verrocchio to give up the
brush. Among the thoughts of Leonardo is one which comes to mind with
peculiar force before this work when we know its story: "Poor is the
pupil who does not surpass his master".

The second Sala di Botticelli has not the value of the first. It
has magnificent examples of Botticelli's sacred work, but the other
pictures are not the equal of those in the other rooms. Chief of the
Botticellis is No. 85, "The Virgin and Child with divers Saints," in
which there are certain annoying and restless elements. One feels that
in the accessories--the flooring, the curtains, and gilt--the painter
was wasting his time, while the Child is too big. Botticelli was seldom
too happy with his babies. But the face of the Saint in green and blue
on the left is most exquisitely painted, and the Virgin has rather less
troubled beauty than usual. The whole effect is not quite spiritual,
and the symbolism of the nails and the crown of thorns held up for
the Child to see is rather too cruel and obvious. I like better the
smaller picture with the same title--No. 88--in which the Saints at
each side are wholly beautiful in Botticelli's wistful way, and the
painting of their heads and head-dresses is so perfect as to fill
one with a kind of despair. But taken altogether one must consider
Botticelli's triumph in the Accademia to be pagan rather than sacred.

No. 8, called officially School of Verrocchio, and by one firm of
photographers Botticini, and by another Botticelli, is a fine free
thing, low in colour, with a quiet landscape, and is altogether a
delight. It represents Tobias and the three angels, and Raphael moves
nobly, although not with quite such a step as the radiant figure in a
somewhat similar picture in our own National Gallery--No. 781--which,
once confidently given to Verrocchio, is now attributed to Botticini;
while our No. 296, which the visitor from Florence on returning to
London should hasten to examine, is no longer Verrocchio but School
of Verrocchio. When we think of these attributions and then look at
No. 154 in the Accademia--another Tobias and the Angel, here given
to Botticini--we have a concrete object lesson in the perilous career
that awaits the art expert,

The other pictures here are two sunny panels by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio,
high up, with nice easy colouring; No. 92, an Adoration of the
Shepherds by Lorenzo di Credi, with a good landscape and all very
sweet and quiet; No. 98, a Deposition by Filippino Lippi and Perugino,
in collaboration, with very few signs of Filippino; and No. 90,
a Resurrection by Raffaellino del Garbo, an uncommon painter in
Florence; the whole thing a tour de force, but not important.

And now let us look at the Angelicos again.

Before leaving the Accademia for the last time, one should glance
at the tapestries near the main entrance, just for fun. That one in
which Adam names the animals is so delightfully naive that it ought to
be reproduced as a nursery wall-paper. The creatures pass in review
in four processions, and Adam must have had to be uncommonly quick
to make up his mind first and then rattle out their resultant names
in the time. The main procession is that of the larger quadrupeds,
headed by the unicorn in single glory; and the moment chosen by the
artist is that in which the elephant, having just heard his name
(for the first time) and not altogether liking it, is turning towards
Adam in surprised remonstrance. The second procession is of reptiles,
led by the snail; the third, the smaller quadrupeds, led by four rats,
followed desperately close (but of course under the white flag) by two
cats; while the fourth--all sorts and conditions of birds--streams
through the air. The others in this series are all delightful, not
the least being that in which God, having finished His work, takes
Adam's arm and flies with him over the earth to point out its merits.



CHAPTER XVII

Two Monasteries and a Procession

The Certosa--A Company of Uncles--The
Cells--Machiavelli--Impruneta--The
della Robbias--Pontassieve--Pelago--Milton's
simile--Vallombrosa--S. Gualberto--Prato and the Lippis--The Grassina
Albergo--An American invasion--The Procession of the Dead Christ--My
loss.

Everyone who merely visits Florence holds it a duty to bring home at
least one flask of the Val d'Ema liqueur from the Carthusian monastery
four or five miles distant from the city, not because that fiery
distillation is peculiarly attractive but because the vessels which
contain it are at once pretty decorations and evidences of travel and
culture. They can be bought in Florence itself, it is true (at a shop
at the corner of the Via de' Cerretani, close to the Baptistery),
but the Certosa is far too interesting to miss, if one has time to
spare from the city's own treasures. The trams start from the Mercato
Nuovo and come along the Via dell' Arcivescovado to the Baptistery,
and so to the Porta Romana and out into the hilly country. The ride
is dull and rather tiresome, for there is much waiting at sidings,
but the expedition becomes attractive immediately the tram is
left. There is then a short walk, principally up the long narrow
approach to the monastery gates, outside which, when I was there,
was sitting a beggar at a stone table, waiting for the bowl of soup
to which all who ask are entitled.

Passing within the courtyard you ring the bell on the right and enter
the waiting hall, from which, in the course of time, when a sufficient
party has been gathered, an elderly monk in a white robe leads you
away. How many monks there may be, I cannot say; but of the few of whom
I caught a glimpse, all were alike in the possession of white beards,
and all suggested uncles in fancy dress. Ours spoke good French and
was clearly a man of parts. Lulled by his soothing descriptions I
passed in a kind of dream through this ancient abode of peace.

The Certosa dates from 1341 and was built and endowed by a wealthy
merchant named Niccolo Acciaioli, after whom the Lungarno Acciaioli
is named. The members of the family are still buried here, certain
of the tombstones bearing dates of the present century. To-day it is
little but a show place, the cells of the monks being mostly empty and
the sale of the liqueur its principal reason for existence. But the
monks who are left take a pride in their church, which is attributed
to Orcagna, and its possessions, among which come first the relief
monuments of early Acciaioli in the floor of one of the chapels--the
founder's being perhaps also the work of Orcagna, while that of his son
Lorenzo, who died in 1353, is attributed by our cicerone to Donatello,
but by others to an unknown hand. It is certainly very beautiful. These
tombs are the very reverse of those which we saw in S. Croce; for
those bear the obliterating traces of centuries of footsteps, so that
some are nearly flat with the stones, whereas these have been railed
off for ever and have lost nothing. The other famous Certosa tomb is
that of Cardinal Angelo Acciaioli, which, once given to Donatello,
is now sometimes attributed to Giuliano di Sangallo and sometimes to
his son Francesco.

The Certosa has a few good pictures, but it is as a monastery that
it is most interesting: as one of the myriad lonely convents of
Italy, which one sees so constantly from the train, perched among
the Apennines, and did not expect ever to enter. The cloisters
which surround the garden, in the centre of which is a well, and
beneath which is the distillery, are very memorable, not only for
their beauty but for the sixty and more medallions of saints and
evangelists all round it by Giovanni della Robbia. Here the monks
have sunned themselves, and here been buried, these five and a half
centuries. One suite of rooms is shown, with its own little private
garden and no striking discomfort except the hole in the wall by
the bed, through which the sleeper is awakened. From its balcony one
sees the Etna far below and hears the roar of a weir, and away in the
distance is Florence with the Duomo and a third of Giotto's Campanile
visible above the intervening hills.

Having shown you all the sights the monk leads you again to the
entrance hall and bids you good-bye, with murmurs of surprise and
a hint of reproach on discovering a coin in his hand, for which,
however, none the less, he manages in the recesses of his robe to
find a place; and you are then directed to the room where the liqueur,
together with sweets and picture post-cards, is sold by another monk,
assisted by a lay attendant, and the visit to the Certosa is over.

The tram that passes the Certosa continues to S. Casciano in the
Chianti district (but much wine is called Chianti that never came
from here), where there is a point of interest in the house to which
Machiavelli retired in 1512, to give himself to literature and to live
that wonderful double life--a peasant loafer by day in the fields and
the village inn, and at night, dressed in his noblest clothes, the
cold, sagacious mentor of the rulers of mankind. But at S. Casciano
I did not stop.

And farther still one comes to the village of Impruneta, after climbing
higher and higher, with lovely calm valleys on either side coloured
by silver olive groves and vivid wheat and maize, and studded with
white villas and villages and church towers. On the road every woman
in every doorway plaits straw with rapid fingers just as if we were in
Bedfordshire. Impruneta is famous for its new terra-cotta vessels and
its ancient della Robbias. For in the church is some of Luca's most
exquisite work--an altarpiece with a frieze of aerial angels under it,
and a stately white saint on either side, and the loveliest decorated
columns imaginable; while in an adjoining chapel is a Christ crucified
mourned by the most dignified and melancholy of Magdalens. Andrea della
Robbia is here too, and here also is a richly designed cantoria by Mino
da Fiesole. The village is not in the regular programme of visitors,
and Baedeker ignores it; hence perhaps the excitement which an arrival
from Florence causes, for the children turn out in battalions. The
church is very dirty, and so indeed is everything else; but no amount
of grime can disguise the charm of the cloisters.

The Certosa is a mere half-hour from Florence, Impruneta an hour
and a half; but Vallombrosa asks a long day. One can go by rail,
changing at Sant' Ellero into the expensive rack-and-pinion car which
climbs through the vineyards to a point near the summit, and has,
since it was opened, brought to the mountain so many new residents,
whose little villas cling to the western slopes among the lizards,
and, in summer, are smitten unbearably by the sun. But the best way
to visit the monastery and the groves is by road. A motor-car no
doubt makes little of the journey; but a carriage and pair such as I
chartered at Florence for forty-five lire has to be away before seven,
and, allowing three hours on the top, is not back again until the
same hour in the evening; and this, the ancient way, with the beat
of eight hoofs in one's ears, is the right way.

For several miles the road and the river--the Arno--run side by
side--and the railway close by too--through venerable villages whose
inhabitants derive their living either from the soil or the water,
and amid vineyards all the time. Here and there a white villa is seen,
but for the most part this is peasants' district: one such villa
on the left, before Pontassieve, having about it, and on each side
of its drive, such cypresses as one seldom sees and only Gozzoli or
Mr. Sargent could rightly paint, each in his own style. Not far beyond,
in a scrap of meadow by the road, sat a girl knitting in the morning
sun--with a placid glance at us as we rattled by; and ten hours later,
when we rattled past again, there she still was, still knitting, in
the evening sun, and again her quiet eyes were just raised and dropped.

At Pontassieve we stopped a while for coffee at an inn at the corner
of the square of pollarded limes, and while it was preparing watched
the little crumbling town at work, particularly the cooper opposite,
who was finishing a massive cask within whose recesses good Chianti
is doubtless now maturing; and then on the white road again, to the
turning, a mile farther on, to the left, where one bids the Arno
farewell till the late afternoon. Steady climbing now, and then a
turn to the right and we see Pelago before us, perched on its crags,
and by and by come to it--a tiny town, with a clean and alluring
inn, very different from the squalor of Pontassieve: famous in art
and particularly Florentine art as being the birthplace of Lorenzo
Ghiberti, who made the Baptistery doors. From Pelago the road descends
with extreme steepness to a brook in a rocky valley, at a bridge over
which the real climb begins, to go steadily on (save for another swift
drop before Tosi) until Vallombrosa is reached, winding through woods
all the way, chiefly chestnut--those woods which gave Milton, who was
here in 1638, his famous simile. [6] The heat was now becoming intense
(it was mid-September) and the horses were suffering, and most of this
last stage was done at walking pace; but such was the exhilaration of
the air, such the delight of the aromas which the breeze continually
wafted from the woods, now sweet, now pungent, and always refreshing,
that one felt no fatigue even though walking too. And so at last the
monastery, and what was at that moment better than anything, lunch.

The beauty and joy of Vallombrosa, I may say at once, are Nature's,
not man's. The monastery, which is now a Government school of
forestry, is ugly and unkempt; the hotel is unattractive; the few
people one meets want to sell something or take you for a drive. But
in an instant in any direction one can be in the woods--and at this
level they are pine woods, soft underfoot and richly perfumed--and
a quarter of an hour's walking brings the view. It is then that you
realize you are on a mountain indeed. Florence is to the north-west
in the long Arno valley, which is here precipitous and narrow. The
river is far below--if you slipped you would slide into it--fed by
tumbling Apennine streams from both walls. The top of the mountain
is heathery like Scotland, and open; but not long will it be so,
for everywhere are the fenced parallelograms which indicate that a
villa is to be erected. Nothing, however, can change the mountain
air or the glory of the surrounding heights.

Another view, unbroken by villas but including the monastery and the
Foresters' Hotel in the immediate foreground, and extending as far as
Florence itself (on suitable days), is obtained from Il Paradisino,
a white building on a ledge which one sees from the hotel above the
monastery. But that is not by any means the top. The view covers much
of the way by which we came hither.

Of the monastery of Vallombrosa we have had foreshadowings in
Florence. We saw at the Accademia two exquisite portraits by Fra
Bartolommeo of Vallombrosan monks. We saw at the Bargello the remains
of a wonderful frieze by Benedetto da Rovezzano for the tomb of
the founder of the order, S. Giovanni Gualberto; we shall see at
S. Miniato scenes in the saint's life on the site of the ancient
chapel where the crucifix bent and blessed him. As the head of the
monastery Gualberto was famous for the severity and thoroughness of
his discipline. But though a martinet as an abbot, personally he was
humble and mild. His advice on all kinds of matters is said to have
been invited even by kings and popes. He invented the system of lay
brothers to help with the domestic work of the convent; and after a
life of holiness, which comprised several miracles, he died in 1073
and was subsequently canonized.

The monastery, as I have said, is now secularized, save for the chapel,
where three resident monks perform service. One may wander through its
rooms and see in the refectory, beneath portraits of famous brothers,
the tables now laid for young foresters. The museum of forestry is
interesting to those interested in museums of forestry.

It was to the monastery at Vallombrosa that the Brownings travelled
in 1848 when Mrs. Browning was ill. But the abbot could not break the
rules in regard to women, and after five days they had to return to
Florence. Browning used to play the organ in the chapel, as, it is
said, Milton had done two centuries earlier.

At such a height and with only a short season the hotel proprietors
must do what they can, and prices do not rule low. A departing American
was eyeing his bill with a rueful glance as we were leaving. "Milton
had it wrong," he said to me (with the freemasonry of the plucked,
for I knew him not), "what he meant was, 'thick as thieves'."

We returned by way of Sant' Ellero, the gallant horses trotting
steadily down the hill, and then beside the Arno once more all the
way to Florence. It chanced to be a great day in the city--September
20th, the anniversary of the final defeat of papal temporal power,
in 1870--which we were not sorry to have missed, the first tidings
coming to us from the beautiful tower of the Palazzo Vecchio which
in honour of the occasion had been picked out with fairy lamps.

Among the excursions which I think ought to be made if one is in
Florence for a justifying length of time is a visit to Prato. This
ancient town one should see for several things: for its age and for
its walls; for its great piazza (with a pile of vividly dyed yarn
in the midst) surrounded by arches under which coppersmiths hammer
all day at shining rotund vessels, while their wives plait straw;
for Filippino Lippi's exquisite Madonna in a little mural shrine at
the narrow end of the piazza, which a woman (fetched by a crowd of
ragged boys) will unlock for threepence; and for the cathedral, with
Filippino's dissolute father's frescoes in it, the Salome being one
of the most interesting pre-Botticelli scenes in Italian art. If only
it had its colour what a wonder of lightness and beauty this still
would be! But probably most people are attracted to Prato chiefly by
Donatello and Michelozzo's outdoor pulpit, the frieze of which is a
kind of prentice work for the famous cantoria in the museum of the
cathedral at Florence, with just such wanton boys dancing round it.

On Good Friday evening in the lovely dying April light I paid
thirty centimes to be taken by tram to Grassina to see the famous
procession of the Gesù Morto. The number of people on the same
errand having thrown out the tram service, we had very long waits,
while the road was thronged with other vehicles; and the result was
I was tired enough--having been standing all the way--when Grassina
was reached, for festivals six miles out of Florence at seven in the
evening disarrange good habits. But a few pence spent in the albergo
on bread and cheese and wine soon restored me. A queer cavern of a
place, this inn, with rough tables, rows and rows of wine flasks,
and an open fire behind the bar, tended by an old woman, from which
everything good to eat proceeded rapidly without dismay--roast chicken
and fish in particular. A strapping girl with high cheek bones and a
broad dark comely face washed plates and glasses assiduously, and two
waiters, with eyes as near together as monkeys', served the customers
with bewildering intelligence. It was the sort of inn that in England
would throw up its hands if you asked even for cold beef.

The piazza of Grassina, which, although merely a village, is
enterprising enough to have a cinematoscope hall, was full of
stalls given chiefly to the preparation and sale of cake like the
Dutch wafelen, and among the stalls were conjurors, cheap-jacks,
singers, and dice throwers; while every moment brought its fresh
motor-car or carriage load, nearly all speaking English with a nasal
twang. Meanwhile every one shouted, the naphtha flared, the drums beat,
the horses champed. The street was full too, chiefly of peasants,
but among them myriad resolute American virgins, in motor veils, whom
nothing can ever surprise; a few American men, sceptical, as ever,
of anything ever happening; here and there a diffident Englishwoman
and Englishman, more in the background, but destined in the end
to see all. But what I chiefly noticed was the native girls, with
their proud bosoms carried high and nothing on their heads. They at
any rate know their own future. No rushing over the globe for them,
but the simple natural home life and children.

In the gloom the younger girls in white muslin were like pretty
ghosts, each followed by a solicitous mother giving a touch here
and a touch there--mothers who once wore muslin too, will wear it no
more, and are now happy in pride in their daughters. And very little
girls too--mere tots--wearing wings, who very soon were to join the
procession as angels.

And all the while the darkness was growing, and on the hill where the
church stands lights were beginning to move about, in that mysterious
way which torches have when a procession is being mobilized, while
all the villas on the hills around had their rows of candles.

And then the shifting flames came gradually into a mass and took
a steady upward progress, and the melancholy strains of an ancient
ecclesiastical lamentation reached our listening ears. As the lights
drew nearer I left the bank where all the Mamies and Sadies with
their Mommas were stationed and walked down into the river valley
to meet the vanguard. On the bridge I found a little band of Roman
soldiers on horseback, without stirrups, and had a few words with
one of them as to his anachronistic cigarette, and then the first
torches arrived, carried by proud little boys in red; and after the
torches the little girls in muslin veils, which were, however, for
the most part disarranged for the better recognition of relations
and even more perhaps for recognition by relations: and very pretty
this recognition was on both sides. And then the village priests in
full canonicals, looking a little self-conscious; and after them the
dead Christ on a litter carried by a dozen contadini who had a good
deal to say to each other as they bore Him.

This was the same dead Christ which had been lying in state in the
church, for the past few days, to be worshipped and kissed by the
peasantry. I had seen a similar image at Settignano the day before and
had watched how the men took it. They began by standing in groups in
the piazza, gossipping. Then two or three would break away and make
for the church. There, all among the women and children, half-shyly,
half-defiantly, they pecked at the plaster flesh and returned to resume
the conversation in the piazza with a new serenity and confidence in
their hearts.

After the dead Christ came a triumphal car of the very little girls
with wings, signifying I know not what, but intensely satisfying to
the onlookers. One little wet-nosed cherub I patted, so chubby and
innocent she was; and Heaven send that the impulse profited me! This
car was drawn by an ancient white horse, amiable and tractable as a
saint, but as bewildered as I as to the meaning of the whole strange
business. After the car of angels a stalwart body of white-vestmented
singers, sturdy fellows with black moustaches who had been all day
among the vines, or steering placid white oxen through the furrows,
and were now lifting their voices in a miserere. And after them the
painted plaster Virgin, carried as upright as possible, and then
more torches and the wailing band; and after the band another guard
of Roman soldiers.

Such was the Grassina procession. It passed slowly and solemnly through
the town from the hill and up the hill again; and not soon shall I
forget the mournfulness of the music, which nothing of tawdriness in
the constituents of the procession itself could rid of impressiveness
and beauty. One thing is certain--all processions, by day or night,
should first descend a hill and then ascend one. All should walk to
melancholy strains. Indeed, a joyful procession becomes an impossible
thought after this.

And then I sank luxuriously into a corner seat in the waiting tram,
and, seeking for the return journey's thirty centimes, found that
during the proceedings my purse had been stolen.



CHAPTER XVIII

S. Marco

Andrea del Castagno--"The Last Supper"--The stolen Madonna--Fra
Angelico's frescoes--"Little Antony"--The good archbishop--The
Buonuomini--Savonarola--The death of Lorenzo the Magnificent--Pope
Alexander VI--The Ordeal by Fire--The execution--The S. Marco
cells--The cloister frescoes--Ghirlandaio's "Last Supper"--Relics of
old Florence--Pico and Politian--Piero di Cosimo--Andrea del Sarto.

From the Accademia it is but a step to S. Marco, across the Piazza, but
it is well first to go a little beyond that in order to see a certain
painting which both chronologically and as an influence comes before
a painting that we shall find in the Museo S. Marco. We therefore
cross the Piazza S. Marco to the Via d'Arrazzieri, which leads into
the Via 27 Aprile, [7] where at a door on the left, marked A, is an
ancient refectory, preserved as a picture gallery: the Cenacolo di
S. Apollonia, all that is kept sacred of the monastery of S. Apollonia,
now a military establishment. This room is important to students of
art in containing so much work of Andrea del Castagno (1390-1457),
to whom Vasari gives so black a character. The portrait frescoes are
from the Villa Pandolfini (previously Carducci), and among them are
Boccaccio, Petrarch, and Dante--who is here rather less ascetic than
usual--none of whom the painter could have seen. There is also a very
charming little cupid carrying a huge peacock plume. But "The Last
Supper" is the glory of the room. This work, which belongs to the
middle of the fifteenth century, is interesting as a real effort at
psychology. Leonardo makes Judas leave his seat to ask if it is he
that is meant--that being the dramatic moment chosen by this prince
of painters: Castagno calls attention to Judas as an undesirable
member of the little band of disciples by placing him apart, the
only one on his side of the table; which was avoiding the real task,
since naturally when one of the company was forced into so sinister
a position the question would be already answered. Castagno indeed
renders Judas so obviously untrustworthy as to make it a surprise
that he ever was admitted among the disciples (or wished to be one)
at all; while Vasari blandly suggests that he is the very image of the
painter himself. Other positions which later artists converted into a
convention may also be noted: John, for example, is reclining on the
table in an ecstasy of affection and fidelity; while the Florentine
loggia as the scene of the meal was often reproduced later.

Andrea del Castagno began life as a farm lad, but was educated as an
artist at the cost of one of the less notable Medici. He had a vigorous
way with his brush, as we see here and have seen elsewhere. In the
Duomo, for example, we saw his equestrian portrait of Niccolò da
Tolentino, a companion to Uccello's Hawkwood. When the Albizzi and
Peruzzi intrigues which had led to the banishment of Cosimo de' Medici
came to their final frustration with the triumphant return of Cosimo,
it was Andrea who was commissioned by the Signoria to paint for the
outside of the Bargello a picture of the leaders of the insurrection,
upside down. Vasari is less to be trusted in his dates and facts in his
memoir of Andrea del Castagno than anywhere else; for he states that
he commemorated the failure of the Pazzi Conspiracy (which occurred
twenty years after his death), and accuses him not only of murdering
his fellow-painter Domenico Veneziano but confessing to the crime;
the best answer to which allegation is that Domenico survived Andrea
by four years.

We may now return to S. Marco. The convent as we now see it was
built by Michelozzo, Donatello's friend and partner and the friend
also of Cosimo de' Medici, at whose cost he worked here. Antonino,
the saintly head of the monastery, having suggested to Cosimo that
he should apply some of his wealth, not always too nicely obtained,
to the Lord, Cosimo began literally to squander money on S. Marco,
dividing his affection between S. Lorenzo, which he completed upon
the lines laid down by his father, and this Dominican monastery,
where he even had a cell reserved for his own use, with a bedroom
in addition, whither he might now and again retire for spiritual
refreshment and quiet.

It was at S. Marco that Cosimo kept the MSS. which he was constantly
collecting, and which now, after curious vicissitudes, are lodged
in Michelangelo's library at S. Lorenzo; and on his death he left
them to the monks. Cosimo's librarian was Tommaso Parenticelli, a
little busy man, who, to the general astonishment, on the death of
Eugenius IV became Pope and took the name of Nicholas V. His energies
as Pontiff went rather towards learning and art than anything else: he
laid the foundations of the Vatican library, on the model of Cosimo's,
and persuaded Fra Angelico to Rome to paint Vatican frescoes.

The magnets which draw every one who visits Florence to S. Marco are
first Fra Angelico, and secondly Savonarola, or first Savonarola, and
secondly Fra Angelico, according as one is constituted. Fra Angelico,
at Cosimo's desire and cost, came from Fiesole to paint here; while
Girolamo Savonarola, forced to leave Ferrara during the war, entered
these walls in 1482. Fra Angelico in his single crucifixion picture in
the first cloisters and in his great scene of the Mount of Olives in
the chapter house shows himself less incapable of depicting unhappiness
than we have yet seen him; but the most memorable of the ground-floor
frescoes is the symbol of hospitality over the door of the wayfarers'
room, where Christ is being welcomed by two Dominicans in the way
that Dominicans (as contrasted with scoundrelly Franciscans) would of
course welcome Him. In this Ospizio are three reliquaries which Fra
Angelico painted for S. Maria Novella, now preserved here in a glass
case. They represent the Madonna della Stella, the Coronation of the
Virgin, and the Adoration of the Magi. All are in Angelico's happiest
manner, with plenty of gold; and the predella of the Coronation is
the prettiest thing possible, with its blue saints gathered about a
blue Mary and Joseph, who bend over the Baby.

The Madonna della Stella is the picture which was stolen in 1911, but
quickly recovered. It is part of the strange complexity of this world
that it should equally contain artists such as Fra Angelico and thieves
such as those who planned and carried out this robbery: nominally
custodians of the museum. To repeat one of Vasari's sentences: "Some
say that he never took up his brush without first making a prayer"....

The "Peter" with his finger to his lips, over the sacristy, is
reminding the monks that that room is vowed to silence. In the chapter
house is the large Crucifixion by the same gentle hand, his greatest
work in Florence, and very fine and true in character. Beneath it
are portraits of seventeen famous Dominicans with S. Dominic in
the midst. Note the girl with the scroll in the right--how gay and
light the colouring. Upstairs, in the cells, and pre-eminently in the
passage, where his best known Annunciation is to be seen, Angelico is
at his best. In each cell is a little fresco reminding the brother
of the life of Christ--and of those by Angelico it may be said that
each is as simple as it can be and as sweet: easy lines, easy colours,
with the very spirit of holiness shining out. I think perhaps that the
Coronation of the Virgin in the ninth cell, reproduced in this volume,
is my favourite, as it is of many persons; but the Annunciation in the
third, the two Maries at the Sepulchre in the eighth, and the Child
in the Stable in the fifth, are ever memorable too. In the cell set
apart for Cosimo de' Medici, No. 38, which the officials point out,
is an Adoration of the Magi, painted there at Cosimo's express wish,
that he might be reminded of the humility proper to rulers; and here
we get one of the infrequent glimpses of this best and wisest of the
Medici, for a portrait of him adorns it, with a wrong death-date on it.

Here also is a sensitive terra-cotta bust of S. Antonio, Cosimo's
friend and another pride of the monastery: the monk who was also
Archbishop of Florence until his death, and whom we saw, in stone, in
a niche under the Uffizi. His cell was the thirty-first cell, opposite
the entrance. This benign old man, who has one of the kindest faces
of his time, which was often introduced into pictures, was appointed
to the see at the suggestion of Fra Angelico, to whom Pope Eugenius
(who consecrated the new S. Marco in 1442 and occupied Cosimo de'
Medici's cell on his visit) had offered it; but the painter declined
and put forward Antonio in his stead. Antonio Pierozzi, whose destiny
it was to occupy this high post, to be a confidant of Cosimo de'
Medici, and ultimately, in 1523, to be enrolled among the saints,
was born at Florence in 1389. According to Butler, from the cradle
"Antonino" or "Little Antony," as the Florentines affectionately
called him, had "no inclination but to piety," and was an enemy even
as an infant "both to sloth and to the amusements of children". As
a schoolboy his only pleasure was to read the lives of the saints,
converse with pious persons or to pray. When not at home or at school
he was in church, either kneeling or lying prostrate before a crucifix,
"with a perseverance that astonished everybody". S. Dominic himself,
preaching at Fiesole, made him a Dominican, his answers to an
examination of the whole decree of Gratian being the deciding cause,
although Little Antony was then but sixteen. As a priest he was
"never seen at the altar but bathed in tears". After being prior of
a number of convents and a counsellor of much weight in convocation,
he was made Archbishop of Florence: but was so anxious to avoid the
honour and responsibility that he hid in the island of Sardinia. On
being discovered he wrote a letter praying to be excused and watered it
with his tears; but at last he consented and was consecrated in 1446.

As archbishop his life was a model of simplicity and solicitude. He
thought only of his duties and the well-being of the poor. His purse
was open to all in need, and he "often sold" his single mule in order
to relieve some necessitous person. He gave up his garden to the growth
of vegetables for the poor, and kept an ungrateful leper whose sores
he dressed with his own hands. He died in 1459 and was canonized in
1523. His body was still free from corruption in 1559, when it was
translated to the chapel in S. Marco prepared for it by the Salviati.

But perhaps the good Antonino's finest work was the foundation of a
philanthropic society of Florentines which still carries on its good
work. Antonino's sympathy lay in particular with the reduced families
of Florence, and it was to bring help secretly to them--too proud to
beg--that he called for volunteers. The society was known in the city
as the Buonuomini (good men) of S. Martino, the little church close to
Dante's house, behind the Badia: S. Martin being famous among saints
for his impulsive yet wise generosity with his cloak.

The other and most famous prior of S. Marco was Savonarola. Girolamo
Savonarola was born of noble family at Ferrara in 1452, and after a
profound education, in which he concentrated chiefly upon religion and
philosophy, he entered the Dominican order at the age of twenty-two. He
first came to S. Marco at the age of thirty and preached there in
Lent in 1482, but without attracting much notice. When, however, he
returned to S. Marco seven years later it was to be instantly hailed
both as a powerful preacher and reformer. His eloquent and burning
declarations were hurled both at Florence and Rome: at the apathy and
greed of the Church as a whole, and at the sinfulness and luxury of
this city, while Lorenzo the Magnificent, who was then at the height
of his influence, surrounded by accomplished and witty hedonists,
and happiest when adding to his collection of pictures, jewels,
and sculpture, in particular did the priest rebuke. Savonarola stood
for the spiritual ideals and asceticism of the Baptist, Christ, and
S. Paul; Lorenzo, in his eyes, made only for sensuality and decadence.

The two men, however, recognized each other's genius, and Lorenzo,
with the tolerance which was as much a mark of the first three
Medici rulers as its absence was notable in most of the later ones,
rather encouraged Savonarola in his crusade than not. He visited him
in the monastery and did not resent being kept waiting; and he went
to hear him preach. In 1492 Lorenzo died, sending for Savonarola on
his death-bed, which was watched by the two closest of his scholarly
friends, Pico della Mirandola and Politian. The story of what happened
has been variously told. According to the account of Politian, Lorenzo
met his end with fortitude, and Savonarola prayed with the dying man
and gave him his blessing; according to another account, Lorenzo was
called upon by Savonarola to make three undertakings before he died,
and, Lorenzo declining, Savonarola left him unabsolved. These promises
were (1) to repent of all his sins, and in particular of the sack
of Volterra, of the alleged theft of public dowry funds and of the
implacable punishment of the Pazzi conspirators; (2) to restore all
property of which he had become possessed by unjust means; and (3)
to give back to Florence her liberty. But the probabilities are in
favour of Politian's account being the true one, and the later story
a political invention.

Lorenzo dead and Piero his son so incapable, Savonarola came to his
own. He had long foreseen a revolution following on the death of
Lorenzo, and in one of his most powerful sermons he had suggested
that the "Flagellum Dei" to punish the wicked Florentines might be
a foreign invader. When therefore in 1493 the French king Charles
VIII arrived in Italy with his army, Savonarola was recognized not
only as a teacher but as a prophet; and when the Medici had been
again banished and Charles, having asked too much, had retreated
from Florence, the Republic was remodelled with Savonarola virtually
controlling its Great Council. For a year or two his power was supreme.

This was the period of the Piagnoni, or Weepers. The citizens adopted
sober attire; a spirit as of England under the Puritans prevailed;
and Savonarola's eloquence so far carried away not only the populace
but many persons of genius that a bonfire was lighted in the middle
of the Piazza della Signoria in which costly dresses, jewels, false
hair and studies from the nude were destroyed.

Savonarola, meanwhile, was not only chastising and reforming Florence,
but with fatal audacity was attacking with even less mincing of words
the licentiousness of the Pope. As to the character of Lorenzo de'
Medici there can be two opinions, and indeed the historians of Florence
are widely divided in their estimates; but of Roderigo Borgia (Pope
Alexander VI) there is but one, and Savonarola held it. Savonarola
was excommunicated, but refused to obey the edict. Popes, however,
although Florence had to a large extent put itself out of reach,
have long arms, and gradually--taking advantage of the city's growing
discontent with piety and tears and recurring unquiet, there being
still a strong pro-Medici party, and building not a little on his
knowledge of the Florentine love of change--the Pope gathered together
sufficient supporters of his determination to crush this too outspoken
critic and humiliate his fellow-citizens.

Events helped the pontiff. A pro-Medici conspiracy excited the
populace; a second bonfire of vanities led to rioting, for the
Florentines were beginning to tire of virtue; and the preaching of a
Franciscan monk against Savonarola (and the gentle Fra Angelico has
shown us, in the Accademia, how Franciscans and Dominicans could hate
each other) brought matters to a head, for he challenged Savaronola
to an ordeal by fire in the Loggia de' Lanzi, to test which of them
spoke with the real voice of God. A Dominican volunteered to make the
essay with a Franciscan. This ceremony, anticipated with the liveliest
eagerness by the Florentines, was at the last moment forbidden,
and Savonarola, who had to bear the responsibility of such a bitter
disappointment to a pleasure-loving people, became an unpopular
figure. Everything just then was against him, for Charles VIII,
with whom he had an understanding and of whom the Pope was afraid,
chose that moment to die.

The Pope drove home his advantage, and getting more power among
individuals on the Council forced them to indict their firebrand. No
means were spared, however base; forgery and false witness were as
nothing. The summons arrived on April 8th, 1497, when Savonarola was
at S. Marco. The monks, who adored him, refused to let him go, and
for a whole day the convent was under siege. But might, of course,
prevailed, and Savonarola was dragged from the church to the Palazzo
Vecchio and prosecuted for the offence of claiming to have supernatural
power and fomenting political disturbance. He was imprisoned in a tiny
cell in the tower for many days, and under constant torture he no doubt
uttered words which would never have passed his lips had he been in
control of himself; but we may dismiss, as false, the evidence which
makes them into confessions. Evidence there had to be, and evidence
naturally was forthcoming; and sentence of death was passed.

In that cell, when not under torture, he managed to write meditations
on the thirteenth psalm, "In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped," and a little
work entitled "A Rule for Living a Christian Life". Before the last
day he administered the Sacrament to his two companions, who were to
die with him, with perfect composure, and the night preceding they
spent together in prayer in the Great Hall which he had once dominated.

The execution was on May 23rd, 1498. A gallows was erected in
the Piazza della Signoria on the spot now marked by the bronze
tablet. Beneath the gallows was a bonfire. All those members of the
Government who could endure the scene were present, either on the
platform of the Palazzo Vecchio or in the Loggia de' Lanzi. The crowd
filled the Piazza. The three monks went to their death unafraid. When
his friar's gown was taken from him, Savonarola said: "Holy gown,
thou wert granted to me by God's grace and I have ever kept thee
unstained. Now I forsake thee not but am bereft of thee." (This very
garment is in the glass case in Savonarola's cell at S. Marco.) The
Bishop replied hastily: "I separate thee from the Church militant
and triumphant". "Militant," replied Savonarola, "not triumphant, for
that rests not with you." The monks were first hanged and then burned.

The larger picture of the execution which hangs in Savonarola's
cell, although interesting and up to a point credible, is of course
not right. The square must have been crowded: in fact we know it
was. The picture has still other claims on the attention, for it
shows the Judith and Holofernes as the only statue before the Palazzo
Vecchio, standing where David now is; it shows the old ringhiera,
the Marzocco (very inaccurately drawn), and the Loggia de' Lanzi
empty of statuary. We have in the National Gallery a little portrait
of Savonarola--No. 1301--with another representation of the execution
on the back of it.

So far as I can understand Savonarola, his failure was due to
two causes: firstly, his fatal blending of religion and politics,
and secondly, the conviction which his temporary success with the
susceptible Florentines bred in his heated mind that he was destined
to carry all before him, totally failing to appreciate the Florentine
character with all its swift and deadly changes and love of change. As
I see it, Savonarola's special mission at that time was to be a
wandering preacher, spreading the light and exciting his listeners to
spiritual revival in this city and that, but never to be in a position
of political power and never to become rooted. The peculiar tragedy
of his career is that he left Florence no better than he found it:
indeed, very likely worse; for in a reaction from a spiritual revival
a lower depth can be reached than if there had been no revival at all;
while the visit of the French army to Italy, for which Savonarola took
such credit to himself, merely ended in disaster for Italy, disease
for Europe, and the spreading of the very Renaissance spirit which
he had toiled to destroy. But, when all is said as to his tragedy,
personal and political, there remains this magnificent isolated figure,
single-minded, austere and self-sacrificing, in an age of indulgence.

For most people "Romola" is the medium through which Savonarola is
visualized; but there he is probably made too theatrical. Yet he
must have had something of the theatre in him even to consent to the
ordeal by fire. That he was an intense visionary is beyond doubt,
but a very real man too we must believe when we read of the devotion
of his monks to his person, and of his success for a while with the
shrewd, worldly Great Council.

Savonarola had many staunch friends among the artists. We have seen
Lorenzo di Credi and Fra Bartolommeo under his influence. After
his death Fra Bartolommeo entered S. Marco (his cell was No. 34),
and di Credi, who was noted for his clean living, entered S. Maria
Nuova. Two of Luca della Robbia's nephews were also monks under
Savonarola. We have seen Fra Bartolommeo's portrait of Savonarola in
the Accademia, and there is another of him here. Cronaca, who built
the Great Council's hall, survived Savonarola only ten years, and
during that time all his stories were of him. Michelangelo, who was
a young man when he heard him preach, read his sermons to the end of
his long life. But upon Botticelli his influence was most powerful,
for he turned that master's hand from such pagan allegories as the
"Primavera" and the "Birth of Venus" wholly to religious subjects.

Savonarola had three adjoining cells. In the first is a monument to
him, his portrait by Fra Bartolommeo and three frescoes by the same
hand. In the next room is the glass case containing his robe, his
hair shirt, and rosary; and here also are his desk and some books. In
the bedroom is a crucifixion by Fra Angelico on linen. No one knowing
Savonarola's story can remain here unmoved.

We find Fra Bartolommeo again with a pencil drawing of S. Antonio
in that saint's cell. Here also is Antonino's death-mask. The
terra-cotta bust of him in Cosimo's cell is the most like life, but
there is an excellent and vivacious bronze in the right transept of
S. Maria Novella.

Before passing downstairs again the library should be visited, that
delightful assemblage of grey pillars and arches. Without its desks
and cases it would be one of the most beautiful rooms in Florence. All
the books have gone, save the illuminated music.

In the first cloisters, which are more liveable-in than the ordinary
Florentine cloisters, having a great shady tree in the midst with a
seat round it, and flowers, are the Fra Angelicos I have mentioned. The
other painting is rather theatrical and poor. In the refectory is
a large scene of the miracle of the Providenza, when S. Dominic and
his companions, during a famine, were fed by two angels with bread;
while at the back S. Antonio watches the crucified Christ. The artist
is Sogliano.

In addition to Fra Angelico's great crucifixion fresco in the chapter
house, is a single Christ crucified, with a monk mourning, by Antonio
Pollaiuolo, very like the Fra Angelico in the cloisters; but the
colour has left it, and what must have been some noble cypresses are
now ghosts dimly visible. The frame is superb.

One other painting we must see--the "Last Supper" of Domenico
Ghirlandaio. Florence has two "Last Suppers" by this artist--one at
the Ognissanti and this. The two works are very similar and have much
entertaining interest, but the debt which this owes to Castagno is very
obvious: it is indeed Castagno sweetened. Although psychologically this
picture is weak, or at any rate not strong, it is full of pleasant
touches: the supper really is a supper, as it too often is not,
with fruit and dishes and a generous number of flasks; the tablecloth
would delight a good housekeeper; a cat sits close to Judas, his only
companion; a peacock perches in a niche; there are flowers on the wall,
and at the back of the charming loggia where the feast is held are
luxuriant trees, and fruits, and flying birds. The monks at food in
this small refectory had compensation for their silence in so engaging
a scene. This room also contains a beautiful della Robbia "Deposition".

The little refectory, which is at the foot of the stairs leading to
the cells, opens on the second cloisters, and these few visitors ever
enter. But they are of deep interest to any one with a passion for
the Florence of the great days, for it is here that the municipality
preserves the most remarkable relics of buildings that have had to
be destroyed. It is in fact the museum of the ancient city. Here,
for example, is that famous figure of Abundance, in grey stone,
which Donatello made for the old market, where the Piazza Vittorio
Emmanuele now is, in the midst of which she poured forth her fruits
from a cornucopia high on a column for all to see. Opposite is a
magnificent doorway designed by Donatello for the Pazzi garden. Old
windows, chimney-pieces, fragments of cornice, carved pillars,
painted beams, coats of arms, are everywhere.

In cell No. 3 is a pretty little coloured relief of the Virgin
adoring, which I covet, from a tabernacle in the old Piazza di
Brunelleschi. Here too are relics of the guild houses of some of
the smaller Arti, while perhaps the most humanly interesting thing
of all is the great mournful bell of S. Marco in Savonarola's time,
known as La Piagnone.

In the church of S. Marco lie two of the learned men, friends of
Lorenzo de' Medici, whose talk at the Medici table was one of the
youthful Michelangelo's educative influences, what time he was studying
in the Medici garden, close by: Angelo Poliziano (1454-1494), the
poet and the tutor of the three Medici boys, and the marvellous Pico
della Mirandola (1463-1494), the enchanted scholar. Pico was one of the
most fascinating and comely figures of his time. He was born in 1463,
the son of the Count of Mirandola, and took early to scholarship,
spending his time among philosophies as other boys among games or
S. Antonio at his devotions, but by no means neglecting polished life
too, for we know him to have been handsome, accomplished, and a knight
in the court of Venus. In 1486 he challenged the whole world to meet
him in Rome and dispute publicly upon nine hundred theses; but so
many of them seemed likely to be paradoxes against the true faith,
too brilliantly defended, that the Pope forbade the contest. Pico
dabbled in the black arts, wrote learnedly (in his room at the Badia
of Fiesole) on the Mosaic law, was an amorous poet in Italian as well
as a serious poet in Latin, and in everything he did was interesting
and curious, steeped in Renaissance culture, and inspired by the wish
to reconcile the past and the present and humanize Christ and the
Fathers. He found time also to travel much, and he gave most of his
fortune to establish a fund to provide penniless girls with marriage
portions. He had enough imagination to be the close friend both of
Lorenzo de' Medici and Savonarola. Savonarola clothed his dead body
in Dominican robes and made him posthumously one of the order which
for some time before his death he had desired to join. He died in
1494 at the early age of thirty-one, two years after Lorenzo.

Angelo Poliziano, known as Politian, was also a Renaissance scholar
and also a friend of Lorenzo, and his companion, with Pico, at
his death-bed; but although in precocity, brilliancy of gifts,
and literary charm he may be classed with Pico, the comparison
there ends, for he was a gross sensualist of mean exterior and
capable of much pettiness. He was tutor to Lorenzo's sons until
their mother interfered, holding that his views were far too loose,
but while in that capacity he taught also Michelangelo and put him
upon the designing of his relief of the battle of the Lapithae and
Centaurs. At the time of Lorenzo and Giuliano's famous tournament
in the Piazza of S. Croce, Poliziano wrote, as I have said, the
descriptive allegorical poem which gave Botticelli ideas for his
"Birth of Venus" and "Primavera". He lives chiefly by his Latin poems;
but he did much to make the language of Tuscany a literary tongue. His
elegy on the death of Lorenzo has real feeling in it and proves him to
have esteemed that friend and patron. Like Pico, he survived Lorenzo
only two years, and he also was buried in Dominican robes. Perhaps
the finest feat of Poliziano's life was his action in slamming the
sacristy doors in the face of Lorenzo's pursuers on that fatal day
in the Duomo when Giuliano de' Medici was stabbed.

Ghirlandaio's fresco in S. Trinità of the granting of the charter
to S. Francis gives portraits both of Poliziano and Lorenzo in the
year 1485. Lorenzo stands in a little group of four in the right-hand
corner, holding out his hand towards Poliziano, who, with Lorenzo's
son Giuliano on his right and followed by two other boys, is advancing
up the steps. Poliziano is seen again in a Ghirlandaio fresco at
S. Maria Novella.

From S. Marco we are going to SS. Annunziata, but first let us just
take a few steps down the Via Cavour, in order to pass the Casino
Medici, since it is built on the site of the old Medici garden where
Lorenzo de' Medici established Bertoldo, the sculptor, as head of a
school of instruction, amid those beautiful antiques which we have
seen in the Uffizi, and where the boy Michelangelo was a student.

A few steps farther on the left, towards the Fiesole heights, which
we can see rising at the end of the street, we come, at No. 69, to a
little doorway which leads to a little courtyard--the Chiostro dello
Scalzo--decorated with frescoes by Andrea del Sarto and Franciabigio
and containing the earliest work of both artists. The frescoes are in
monochrome, which is very unusual, but their interest is not impaired
thereby: one does not miss other colours. No. 7, the Baptism of Christ,
is the first fresco these two associates ever did; and several years
elapsed between that and the best that are here, such as the group
representing Charity and the figure of Faith, for the work was long
interrupted. The boys on the staircase in the fresco which shows
S. John leaving his father's house are very much alive. This is by
Franciabigio, as is also S. John meeting with Christ, a very charming
scene. Andrea's best and latest is the Birth of the Baptist, which
has the fine figure of Zacharias writing in it. But what he should
be writing at that time and place one cannot imagine: more reasonably
might he be called a physician preparing a prescription. On the wall
is a terra-cotta bust of S. Antonio, making him much younger than
is usual.

Andrea's suave brush we find all over Florence, both in fresco and
picture, and this is an excellent place to say something of the man
of whom English people have perhaps a more intimate impression than
of any other of the old masters, by reason largely of Browning's
poem and not a little by that beautiful portrait which for so long
was erroneously considered to represent the painter himself, in our
National Gallery. Andrea's life was not very happy. No painter had
more honour in his own day, and none had a greater number of pupils,
but these stopped with him only a short time, owing to the demeanour
towards them of Andrea's wife, who developed into a flirt and shrew,
dowered with a thousand jealousies. Andrea, the son of a tailor, was
born in 1486 and apprenticed to a goldsmith. Showing, however, more
drawing than designing ability, he was transferred to a painter named
Barile and then passed to that curious man of genius who painted the
fascinating picture "The Death of Procris" which hangs near Andrea's
portrait in our National Gallery--Piero di Cosimo. Piero carried
oddity to strange lengths. He lived alone in indescribable dirt,
and lived wholly on hard-boiled eggs, which he cooked, with his glue,
by the fifty, and ate as he felt inclined. He forbade all pruning of
trees as an act of insubordination to Nature, and delighted in rain
but cowered in terror from thunder and lightning. He peered curiously
at clouds to find strange shapes in them, and in his pursuit of the
grotesque examined the spittle of sick persons on the walls or ground,
hoping for suggestions of monsters, combats of horses, or fantastic
landscapes. But why this should have been thought madness in Cosimo
when Leonardo in his directions to artists explicitly advises them
to look hard at spotty walls for inspiration, I cannot say. He
was also the first, to my knowledge, to don ear-caps in tedious
society--as Herbert Spencer later used to do. He had many pupils,
but latterly could not bear them in his presence and was therefore
but an indifferent instructor. As a deviser of pageants he was more in
demand than as a painter; but his brush was not idle. Both London and
Paris have, I think, better examples of his genius than the Uffizi;
but he is well represented at S. Spirito.

Piero sent Andrea to the Palazzo Vecchio to study the Leonardo and
Michelangelo cartoons, and there he met Franciabigio, with whom
he struck up one of his close friendships, and together they took a
studio and began to paint for a living. Their first work together was
the Baptism of Christ at which we are now looking. The next commission
after the Scalzo was to decorate the courtyard of the Convent of the
Servi, now known as the Church of the Annunciation; and moving into
adjacent lodgings, Andrea met Jacopo Sansovino, the Venetian sculptor,
whose portrait by Bassano is in the Uffizi, a capable all-round
man who had studied in Rome and was in the way of helping the young
Andrea at all points. It was then too that he met the agreeable and
convivial Rustici, of whom I have said something in the chapter on
the Baptistery, and quickly became something of a blood--for by this
time, the second decade of the sixteenth century, the simplicity of
the early artists had given place to dashing sophistication and the
great period was nearly over. For this change the brilliant complex
inquiring mind of Leonardo da Vinci was largely responsible, together
with the encouragement and example of Lorenzo de' Medici and such of
his cultured sceptical friends as Alberti, Pico della Mirandola, and
Poliziano. But that is a subject too large for this book. Enough that
a worldly splendour and vivacity had come into artistic life and Andrea
was an impressionable young man in the midst of it. It does not seem to
have affected the power and dexterity of his hand, but it made him a
religious court-painter instead of a religious painter. His sweetness
and an underlying note of pathos give his work a peculiar and genuine
character; but he is just not of the greatest. Not so great really
as Luca Signorelli, for example, whom few visitors to the galleries
rush at with gurgling cries of rapture as they rush at Andrea.

When Andrea was twenty-six he married. The lady was the widow of a
hatter. Andrea had long loved her, but the hatter clung outrageously
to life. In 1513, however, she was free, and, giving her hand to the
painter, his freedom passed for ever. Vasari being among Andrea's
pupils may be trusted here, and Vasari gives her a bad character,
which Browning completes. Andrea painted her often, notably in the
fresco of the "Nativity of the Virgin," to which we shall soon come
at the Annunziata: a fine statuesque woman by no means unwilling to
have the most popular artist in Florence as her slave.

Of the rest of Andrea's life I need say little. He grew steadily in
favour and was always busy; he met Michelangelo and admired him, and
Michelangelo warned Raphael in Rome of a little fellow in Florence who
would "make him sweat". Browning, in his monologue, makes this remark
of Michelangelo's, and the comparison between Andrea and Raphael that
follows, the kernel of the poem.

Like Leonardo and Rustici, Andrea accepted, in 1518, an invitation from
Francis I to visit Paris and once there began to paint for that royal
patron. But although his wife did not love him, she wanted him back,
and in the midst of his success he returned, taking with him a large
sum of money from Francis with which to buy for the king works of
art in Italy. That money he misapplied to his own extravagant ends,
and although Francis took no punitive steps, the event cannot have
improved either Andrea's position or his peace of mind; while it
caused Francis to vow that he had done with Florentines. Andrea died
in 1531, of fever, nursed by no one, for his wife, fearing it might
be the dreaded plague, kept away.



CHAPTER XIX


The SS. Annunziata and the Spedale degli Innocenti

Andrea del Sarto again--Franciabigio outraged--Alessio
Baldovinetti--Piero de' Medici's church--An Easter Sunday
congregation--Andrea's "Madonna del Sacco"--"The Statue and
the Bust"--Henri IV--The Spedale degli Innocenti--Andrea della
Robbia--Domenico Ghirlandaio--Cosimo I and the Etruscans--Bronzes and
tapestries--Perugino's triptych--S. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi--"Very
sacred human dust".

From S. Marco it is an easy step, along the Via Sapienza, to the
Piazza dell' Annunziata, where one finds  the  church of that  name,
the Palazzo Riccardi-Mannelli, and opposite it, gay with the famous
della Robbia reliefs of swaddled children, the Spedale degli Innocenti.

First the church, which is notable for possessing in its courtyard
Andrea del Sarto's finest frescoes. This series, of which he was the
chief painter, with his friend Franciabigio again as his principal
ally, depict scenes in the life of the Virgin and S. Filippo. The
scene of the Birth of the Virgin has been called the triumph of
fresco painting, and certainly it is very gay and life-like in
that medium. The whole picture very charming and easy, with the
pleasantest colouring imaginable and pretty details, such as the
washing of the baby and the boy warming his hands, while of the two
women in the foreground, that on the left, facing the spectator,
is a portrait of Andrea's wife, Lucrezia. In the Arrival of the
Magi we find Andrea himself, the figure second from the right-hand
side, pointing; while next to him, on the left, is his friend Jacopo
Sansovino. The "Dead Man Restored to Life by S. Filippo" is Andrea's
next best. Franciabigio did the scene of the Marriage of the Virgin,
which contains another of his well-drawn boys on the steps. The injury
to this fresco--the disfigurement of Mary's face--was the work of
the painter himself, in a rage that the monks should have inspected
it before it was ready. Vasari is interesting on this work. He draws
attention to it as illustrating "Joseph's great faith in taking her,
his face expressing as much fear as joy". He also says that the blow
which the man is giving Joseph was part of the marriage ceremony at
that time in Florence.

Franciabigio, in spite of his action in the matter of this fresco,
seems to have been a very sweet-natured man, who painted rather to be
able to provide for his poor relations than from any stronger inner
impulse, and when he saw some works by Raphael gave up altogether,
as Verrocchio gave up after Leonardo matured. Franciabigio was a
few years older than Andrea, but died at the same age. Possibly it
was through watching his friend's domestic troubles that he remained
single, remarking that he who takes a wife endures strife. His most
charming work is that "Madonna of the Well" in the Uffizi, which
is reproduced in this volume. Franciabigio's master was Mariotto
Albertinelli, who had learned from Cosimo Rosselli, the teacher
of Piero di Cosimo, Andrea's master--another illustration of the
interdependence of Florentine artists.

One of the most attractive works in the courtyard must once have
been the "Adoration of the Shepherds" by Alessio Baldovinetti, at
the left of the entrance to the church. It is badly damaged and the
colour has gone, but one can see that the valley landscape, when  it
was  painted, was a dream of gaiety and happiness.

The particular treasure of the church is the extremely ornate chapel
of the Virgin, containing a picture of the Virgin displayed once a
year on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25th, in the painting
of which the Virgin herself took part, descending from heaven for
that purpose. The artist thus divinely assisted was Pietro Cavallini,
a pupil of Giotto. The silver shrine for the picture was designed by
Michelozzo and was a beautiful thing before the canopy and all the
distressing accessories were added. It was made at the order of Piero
de' Medici, who was as fond of this church as his father Cosimo was
of S. Lorenzo. Michelozzo only designed it; the sculpture was done
by Pagno di Lapo Portigiani, whose Madonna is over the tomb of Pope
John by Donatello and Michelozzo in the Baptistery.

Among the altar-pieces are two by Perugino; but of Florentine
altar-pieces one can say little or nothing in a book of reasonable
dimensions. There are so many and they are for the most part so
difficult to see. Now and then one arrests the eye and holds it;
but for the most part they go unstudied. The rotunda of the choir
is interesting, for here we meet again Alberti, who completed it
from designs by Michelozzo. It does not seem to fit the church from
within, and even less so from without, but it is a fine structure. The
seventeenth-century painting of the dome is almost impressive.

But one can forget and forgive all the church's gaudiness and floridity
when the choir is in good voice and the strings play Palestrina as
they did last Easter Sunday. The Annunziata is famous for its music,
and on the great occasions people crowd there as nowhere else. At High
Mass the singing was fine but the instrumental music finer. One is
accustomed to seeing vicarious worship in Italy; but never was there
so vicarious a congregation as ours, and indeed if it had not been
for the sight of the busy celibates at the altar one would not have
known that one was worshipping at all. The culmination of detachment
came when a family of Siamese or Burmese children, in native dress,
entered. A positive hum went round, and not an eye but was fixed
on the little Orientals. When, however, the organ was for a while
superseded and the violas and violins quivered under the plangent
melody of Palestrina, our roving attention was fixed and held.

I am not sure that the Andrea in the cloisters is not the best of
all his work. It is very simple and wholly beautiful, and in spite
of years of ravage the colouring is still wonderful, perhaps indeed
better for the hand of Time. It is called the "Madonna del Sacco"
(grain sack), and fills the lunette over the door leading from the
church. The Madonna--Andrea's favourite type, with the eyes set widely
in the flat brow over the little trustful nose--has her Son, older than
usual, sprawling on her knee. Her robes are ample and rich; a cloak
of green is over her pretty head. By her sits S. Joseph, on the sack,
reading with very long sight. That is all; but one does not forget it.

For the rest the cloisters are a huddle of memorial slabs and
indifferent frescoes. In the middle is a well with nice iron work. No
grass at all. The second cloisters, into which it is not easy to get,
have a gaunt John the Baptist in terra-cotta by Michelozzo.

On leaving the church, our natural destination is the Spedale, on the
left, but one should pause a moment in the doorway of the courtyard (if
the beggars who are always there do not make it too difficult) to look
down the Via de' Servi running straight away to the cathedral, which,
with its great red warm dome, closes the street. The statue in the
middle of the piazza is that of the Grand Duke Ferdinand by Giovanni da
Bologna, cast from metal taken from the Italians' ancient enemies the
Turks, while the fountains are by Tacca, Giovanni's pupil, who made
the bronze boar at the Mercato Nuovo. "The Synthetical Guide Book,"
from which I have already quoted, warns its readers not to overlook
"the puzzling bees" at the back of Ferdinand's statue. "Try to count
them," it adds. (I accepted the challenge and found one hundred and
one.) The bees have reference to Ferdinand's emblem--a swarm of these
insects, with the words "Majestate tantum". The statue, by the way,
is interesting for two other reasons than its subject. First, it is
that to which Browning's poem, "The Statue and the Bust," refers, and
which, according to the poet, was set here at Ferdinand's command to
gaze adoringly for ever at the della Robbia bust of the lady whom he
loved in vain. But the bust no longer is visible, if ever it was. John
of Douay (as Gian Bologna was also called)--



John of Douay shall effect my plan,
Set me on horseback here aloft,
Alive, as the crafty sculptor can,


In the very square I have crossed so oft:
That men may admire, when future suns
Shall touch the eyes to a purpose soft,


While the mouth and the brow stay brave in bronze--
Admire and say, "when he was alive
How he would take his pleasure once!"



The other point of interest is that when Maria de' Medici, Ferdinand's
niece, wished to erect a statue of Henri IV (her late husband) at the
Pont Neuf in Paris she asked to borrow Gian Bologna. But the sculptor
was too old to go and therefore only a bronze cast of this same horse
was offered. In the end Tacca completed both statues, and Henri IV
was set up in 1614 (after having fallen overboard on the voyage from
Leghorn to Havre). The present statue at the Pont Neuf is, however,
a modern substitute.

The façade of the Spedale degli Innocenti, or children's hospital, when
first seen by the visitor evokes perhaps the quickest and happiest
cry of recognition in all Florence by reason of its row of della
Robbia babies, each in its blue circle, reproductions of which have
gone all over the world. These are thought to be by Andrea, Luca's
nephew, and were added long after the building was completed. Luca
probably helped him. The hospital was begun by Brunelleschi at the
cost of old Giovanni de' Medici, Cosimo's father, but the Guild of
the Silk Weavers, for whom Luca made the exquisite coat of arms on Or
San Michele, took it over and finished it. Andrea not only modelled
the babies outside but the beautiful Annunciation (of which I give a
reproduction in this volume) in the court: one of his best works. The
photograph will show how full of pretty thoughts it is, but in colour
it is more charming still and the green of the lily stalks is not
the least delightful circumstance. Not only among works of sculpture
but among Annunciations this relief holds a very high place. Few of
the artists devised a scene in which the great news was brought more
engagingly, in sweeter surroundings, or received more simply.

The door of the chapel close by leads to another work of art equally
adapted to its situation--Ghirlandaio's Adoration of the Magi: one of
the perfect pictures for children. We have seen Ghirlandaio's Adoration
of the Shepherds at the Accademia: this is its own brother. It has
the sweetest, mildest little Mother, and in addition to the elderly
Magi two tiny little saintlings adore too. In the distance is an
enchanted landscape about a fairy estuary.

This hospital is a very busy one, and the authorities are glad to show
it to visitors who really take an interest in such work. Rich Italians
carry on a fine rivalry in generosity to such institutions. Bologna,
for instance, could probably give lessons in thoughtful charity to
the whole world.

The building opposite the hospital has a loggia which is notable
for a series of four arches, like those of the Mercato Nuovo, and in
summer for the flowers that hang down from the little balconies. A
pretty building. Before turning to the right under the last of the
arches of the hospital loggia, which opens on the Via della Colonna
and from the piazza always frames such a charming picture of houses
and mountains, it is well, with so much of Andrea del Sarto's work
warm in one's memory, to take a few steps up the Via Gino Capponi
(which also always frames an Apennine vista under its arch) to No. 24,
and see Andrea's house, on the right, marked with a tablet.

In the Via della Colonna we find, at No. 26 on the left, the Palazzo
Crocetta, which is now a Museum of Antiquities, and for its Etruscan
exhibits is of the greatest historical value and interest to visitors
to Tuscany, such as ourselves. For here you may see what civilization
was like centuries before Christ and Rome. The beginnings of the
Etruscan people are indistinct, but about 1000 B.C. has been agreed
to as the dawn of their era. Etruria comprised Tuscany, Perugia,
and Rome itself. Florence has no remains, but Fiesole was a fortified
Etruscan town, and many traces of its original builders may be seen
there, together with Etruscan relics in the little museum. For the
best reconstructions of an Etruscan city one must go to Volterra,
where so many of the treasures in the present building were found.

The Etruscans in their heyday were the most powerful people in
the world, but after the fifth century their supremacy gradually
disappeared, the Gauls on the one side and the Romans on the other
wearing them down. All our knowledge of them comes through the
spade. Excavations at Volterra and elsewhere have revealed some
thousands of inscriptions which have been in part deciphered; but
nothing has thrown so much light on this accomplished people as their
habit of providing the ashes of their dead with everything likely
to be needed for the next world, whose requirements fortunately so
exactly tallied with those of this that a complete system of domestic
civilization can be deduced. In arts and sciences they were most
enviably advanced, as a visit to the British Museum will show in
a moment. But it is to this Florentine Museum of Antiquities that
all students of Etruria must go. The garden contains a number of the
tombs themselves, rebuilt and refurnished exactly as they were found;
while on the ground floor is the amazing collection of articles which
the tombs yielded. The grave has preserved them for us, not quite
so perfectly as the volcanic dust of Vesuvius preserved the domestic
appliances of Pompeii, but very nearly so. Jewels, vessels, weapons,
ornaments--many of them of a beauty never since reproduced--are to
be seen in profusion, now gathered together for study only a short
distance from the districts in which centuries ago they were made
and used for actual life.

Upstairs we find relics of an older civilization still, the Egyptian,
and a few rooms of works of art, all found in Etruscan soil,
the property of the Pierpont Morgans and George Saltings of that
ancient day, who had collected them exactly as we do now. Certain
of the statues are world-famous. Here, for example, in Sala IX, is
the bronze Minerva which was found near Arezzo in 1554 by Cosimo's
workmen. Here is the Chimæra, also from Arezzo in 1554, which Cellini
restored for Cosimo and tells us about in his Autobiography. Here is
the superb Orator from Lake Trasimene, another of Cosimo's discoveries.

In Sala X look at the bronze situla in an isolated glass case, of such
a peacock blue as only centuries could give it. Upstairs in Sala XVI
are many more Greek and Roman bronzes, among which I noticed a faun
with two pipes as being especially good; while the little room leading
from it has some fine life-size heads, including a noble one of a
horse, and the famous Idolino on its elaborate pedestal--a full-length
Greek bronze from the earth of Pesaro, where it was found in 1530.

The top floor is given to tapestries and embroideries. The collection
is vast and comprises much foreign work; but Cosimo I introducing
tapestry weaving into Florence, many of the examples come from the
city's looms. The finest, or at any rate most interesting, series
is that depicting the court of France under Catherine de' Medici,
with portraits: very sumptuous and gay examples of Flemish work.

The trouble at Florence is that one wants the days to be ten times as
long in order that one may see its wonderful possessions properly. Here
is this dry-looking archaeological museum, with antipathetic custodians
at the door who refuse to get change for twenty-lira pieces: nothing
could be more unpromising than they or their building; and yet you
find yourself instantly among countless vestiges of a past people who
had risen to power and crumbled again before Christ was born--but at
a time when man was so vastly more sensitive to beauty than he now is
that every appliance for daily life was the work of an artist. Well,
a collection like this demands days and days of patient examination,
and one has only a few hours. Were I Joshua--had I his curious gift--it
is to Florence I would straightway fare. The sun should stand still
there: no rock more motionless.

Continuing along the Via della Colonna, we come, on the right,
at No. 8, to the convent of S. Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi, which is
now a barracks but keeps sacred one room in which Perugino painted a
crucifixion, his masterpiece in fresco. The work is in three panels,
of which that on the left, representing the Virgin and S. Bernard,
is the most beautiful. Indeed, there is no more beautiful light
in any picture we shall see, and the Virgin's melancholy face is
inexpressibly sweet. Perugino is best represented at the Accademia,
and there are works of his at the Uffizi and Pitti and in various
Florentine churches; but here he is at his best. Vasari tells us that
he made much money and was very fond of it; also that he liked his
young wife to wear light head-dresses both out of doors and in the
house, and often dressed her himself. His master was Verrocchio and
his best pupil Raphael.

S. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi, a member of the same family that plotted
against the Medici and owned the sacred flints, was born in 1566, and,
says Miss Dunbar, [8] "showed extraordinary piety from a very tender
age". When only a child herself she used to teach small children, and
she daily carried lunch to the prisoners. Her real name was Catherine,
but becoming a nun she called herself Mary Magdalene. In an illness in
which she was given up for dead, she lay on her bed for forty days,
during which she saw continual visions, and then recovered. Like
S. Catherine of Bologna she embroidered well and painted miraculously,
and she once healed a leprosy by licking it. She died in 1607.

The old English Cemetery, as it is usually called--the Protestant
Cemetery, as it should be called--is an oval garden of death in the
Piazza Donatello, at the end of the Via di Pinti and the Via Alfieri,
rising up from the boulevard that surrounds the northern half of
Florence. (The new Protestant Cemetery is outside the city on the
road to the Certosa.) I noticed, as I walked beneath the cypresses,
the grave of Arthur Hugh Clough, the poet of "Dipsychus," who died
here in Florence on November 13th, 1861; of Walter Savage Landor,
that old lion (born January 30th, 1775; died September 17th, 1864),
of whom I shall say much more in a later chapter; of his son Arnold,
who was born in 1818 and died in 1871; and of Mrs. Holman Hunt, who
died in 1866. But the most famous grave is that of Elizabeth Barrett
Browning, who lies beneath a massive tomb that bears only the initials
E.B.B. and the date 1861. "Italy," wrote James Thomson, the poet of
"The City of Dreadful Night," on hearing of Mrs. Browning's death,


"Italy, you hold in trust
Very sacred human dust."



CHAPTER XX

The Cascine and the Arno

Florence's Bois de Boulogne--Shelley--The races--The game of
Pallone--SS. Ognissanti--Botticelli and Ghirlandaio--Amerigo
Vespucci--The Platonic Academy's garden--Alberti's Palazzo
Rucellai--Melancholy decay--Two smiling boys--The Corsini
palace--The Trinità bridge--The Borgo San Jacopo from the back--Home
fishing--SS. Apostoli--A sensitive river--The Ponte Vecchio--The
goldsmiths--S. Stefano.

The Cascine is the "Bois" of Florence; but it does not compare with
the Parisian expanse either in size or attraction. Here the wealthy
Florentines drive, the middle classes saunter and ride bicycles, the
poor enjoy picnics, and the English take country walks. The further
one goes the better it is, and the better also the river, which at
the very end of the woods becomes such a stream as the pleinairistes
love, with pollarded trees on either side. Among the trees of one of
these woods nearly a hundred years ago, a walking Englishman named
Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote his "Ode to the West Wind".

The Cascine is a Bois also in having a race-course in it--a small
course with everything about it on a little scale, grandstand, betting
boxes, and all. And why not?--for after all Florence is quite small in
size, however remarkable in character. Here funny little race-meetings
are held, beginning on Easter Monday and continuing at intervals until
the weather gets too hot. The Florentines pour out in their hundreds
and lie about in the long grass among the wild flowers, and in their
fives and tens back their fancies. The system is the pari-mutuel,
and here one seems to be more at its mercy even than in France. The
odds keep distressingly low; but no one seems to be either elated or
depressed, whatever happens. To be at the races is the thing--to walk
about and watch the people and enjoy the air. It is the most orderly
frugal scene, and the baleful and mysterious power of the racehorse
to poison life and landscape, as in England, does not exist here.

To the Cascine also in the spring and autumn several hundred Florentine
men come every afternoon to see the game of pallone and risk a few lire
on their favourite players. Mr. Ruskin, whose "Mornings in Florence"
is still the textbook of the devout, is severe enough upon those
visitors who even find it in their hearts to shop and gossip in the
city of Giotto. What then would he have said of one who has spent not
a few afternoon hours, between five and six, in watching the game of
pallone? I would not call pallone a good game. Compared with tennis,
it is nothing; compared with lawn tennis, it is poor; compared with
football, it is anaemic; yet in an Italian city, after the galleries
have closed, on a warm afternoon, it will do, and it will more than
do as affording an opportunity of seeing muscular Italian athletes in
the pink of condition. The game is played by six, three each side:
a battitore, who smites the ball, which is served to him very much
as in rounders; the spalla, who plays back; and the terzino, who
plays forward. The court is sixty or more yards long, on one side
being a very high wall and on the other and at each end netting. The
implements are the ball, which is hollow and of leather, about half
the size of a football, and a cylinder studded with spikes, rather
like a huge fir-cone or pine-apple, which is placed over the wrist
and forearm to hit the ball with; and the game is much as in tennis,
only there is no central net: merely a line. Each man's ambition,
however, is less to defeat the returning power of the foe than to
paralyse it by hitting the ball out of reach. It is as though a
batsman were out if he failed to hit three wides.

A good battitore, for instance, can smite the ball right down the
sixty yards into the net, above the head of the opposing spalla who
stands awaiting it at the far end. Such a stroke is to the English
mind a blot, and it is no uncommon thing, after each side has had a
good rally, to see the battitore put every ball into the net in this
way and so win the game without his opponents having one return;
which is the very negation of sport. Each innings lasts until one
side has gained eight points, the points going to whichever player
makes the successful stroke. This means that the betting--and of
course there is betting--is upon individuals and not upon sides.

The pari-mutuel system is that which is adopted at both the pallone
courts in Florence (there is another at the Piazza Beccaria), and the
unit is two lire. Bets are invited on the winner and the second, and
place-money is paid on both. No wonder then that as the game draws to a
close the excitement becomes intense; while during its progress feeling
runs high too. For how can a young Florentine who has his money on,
say, Gabri the battitore, withhold criticism when Gabri's arm fails
and the ball drops comfortably for the terzino Ugo to smash it into
Gabri's net? Such a lapse should not pass unnoticed; nor does it.

From the Cascine we may either return to Florence along the banks
of the river, or cross the river by the vile iron Ponte Sospeso
and enter the city again, on the Pitti side, by the imposing Porta
S. Frediano. Supposing that we return by the Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci
there is little to notice, beyond costly modern houses of a Portland
Place type and the inevitable Garibaldi statue, until, just past the
oblique pescaja (or weir), we see across the Piazza Manin the church
of All Saints--S. Salvadore d'Ognissanti, which must be visited since
it is the burial-place of Botticelli and Amerigo Vespucci, the chapel
of the Vespucci family being painted by Ghirlandaio; and since here too
lies Botticelli's beautiful Simonetta, who so untimely died. According
to Vasari the frescoes of S. Jerome by Ghirlandaio and S. Augustine by
Botticelli were done in competition. They were painted, as it happens,
elsewhere, but moved here without injury. I think the S. Jerome is the
more satisfying, a benevolent old scientific author--a Lord Avebury
of the canon--with his implements about him on a tapestry tablecloth,
a brass candlestick, his cardinal's hat, and a pair of tortoise-shell
eyeglasses handy. S. Augustine is also scientific; astronomical books
and instruments surround him too. His tablecloth is linen.

Amerigo Vespucci, whose statue we saw in the Uffizi portico
colonnade, was a Florentine by birth who settled in Spain and took to
exploration. His discoveries were important, but America is not really
among them, for Columbus, whom he knew and supported financially,
got there first. By a mistake in the date in his account of his
travels, Vespucci's name came to be given to the new continent, and
it was then too late to alter it. He became a naturalized Spaniard
and died in 1512. Columbus indeed suffers in Florence; for had it
not been for Vespucci, America would no doubt be called Columbia;
while Brunelleschi anticipated him in the egg trick.

The church is very proud of possessing the robe of S. Francis, which
is displayed once a year on October 4th. In the refectory is a "Last
Supper" by Ghirlandaio, not quite so good as that which we saw at
S. Marco, but very similar, and, like that, deriving from Castagno's
at the Cenacolo di Sant' Apollonia. The predestined Judas is once
more on the wrong side of the table.

Returning to the river bank again, we are at once among the hotels and
pensions, which continue cheek by jowl right away to the Ponte Vecchio
and beyond. In the Piazza Goldoni, where the Ponte Carraia springs off,
several streets meet, best of them and busiest of them being that Via
della Vigna Nuova which one should miss few opportunities of walking
along, for here is the palazzo--at No. 20--which Leon Battista Alberti
designed for the Rucellai. The Rucellai family's present palace, I
may say here, is in the Via della Scala, and by good fortune I found
at the door sunning himself a complacent major-domo who, the house
being empty of its august owners, allowed me to walk through into
the famous garden--the Orti Oricellari--where the Platonic Academy
met for a while in Bernardo Rucellai's day. A monument inscribed
with their names has been erected among the evergreens. Afterwards
the garden was given by Francis I to his beloved Bianca Capella. Its
natural beauties are impaired by a gigantic statue of Polyphemus,
bigger than any other statue in Florence.

The new Rucellai palace does not compare with the old, which is, I
think, the most beautiful of all the private houses of the great day,
and is more easily seen too, for there is a little piazza in front
of it. The palace, with its lovely design and its pilastered windows,
is now a rookery, while various industries thrive beneath it. Part of
the right side has been knocked away; but even still the proportions
are noble. This is a bad quarter for vandalism; for in the piazza
opposite is a most exquisite little loggia, built in 1468, the three
lovely arches of which have been filled in and now form the windows of
an English establishment known as "The Artistic White House". An absurd
name, for if it were really artistic it would open up the arches again.

The Rucellai chapel, behind the palace, is in the Via della Spada,
and the key must be asked for in the palace stables. It is in a
shocking state, and quite in keeping with the traditions of the
neighbourhood, while the old church of S. Pancrazio, its neighbour,
is now a Government tobacco factory. The Rucellai chapel contains a
model of the Holy Sepulchre, at Jerusalem, in marble and intarsia,
by the great Alberti--one of the most jewel-like little buildings
imaginable. Within it are the faint vestiges of a fresco which the
stable-boy calls a Botticelli, and indeed the hands and faces of
the angels, such as one can see of them with a farthing dip, do not
render the suggestion impossible. On the altar is a terra-cotta Christ
which he calls a Donatello, and again he may be right; but fury at a
condition of things that can permit such a beautiful place to be so
desecrated renders it impossible to be properly appreciative.

Since we are here, instead of returning direct to the river let us
go a few yards along this Via della Spada to the left, cross the
Via de' Fossi, and so come to the busy Via di Pallazzuolo, on the
left of which, past the piazza of S. Paolino, is the little church of
S. Francesco de' Vanchetoni. This church is usually locked, but the key
is next door, on the right, and it has to be obtained because over the
right sacristy door is a boy's head by Rossellino, and over the left a
boy's head by Desiderio da Settignano, and each is joyful and perfect.

The Via de' Fossi will bring us again to the Piazza Goldoni and the
Arno, and a few yards farther along there is a palace to be seen,
the Corsini, the only palazzo still inhabited by its family to which
strangers are admitted--the long low white façade with statues on
the top and a large courtyard, on the Lungarno Corsini, just after
the Piazza Goldoni. It is not very interesting and belongs to the
wrong period, the seventeenth century. It is open on fixed days,
and free save that one manservant receives the visitor and another
conducts him from room to room. There are many pictures, but few
of outstanding merit, and the authorship of some of these has been
challenged. Thus, the cartoon of Julius II, which is called a Raphael
and seems to be the sketch for one of the well-known portraits at the
Pitti, Uffizi, or our National Gallery, is held to be not by Raphael
at all. Among the pleasantest pictures are a Lippo Lippi Madonna and
Child, a Filippino Lippi Madonna and Child with Angels, and a similar
group by Botticelli; but one has a feeling that Carlo Dolci and Guido
Reni are the true heroes of the house. Guido Reni's Lucrezia Romana,
with a dagger which she has already thrust two inches into her bosom,
as though it were cheese, is one of the most foolish pictures I ever
saw. The Corsini family having given the world a pope, a case of papal
vestments is here. It was this Pope when Cardinal Corsini who said to
Dr. Johnson's friend, Mrs. Piozzi, meeting him in Florence in 1785,
"Well, Madam, you never saw one of us red-legged partridges before,
I believe".

There may be more beautiful bridges in the world than the Trinità,
but I have seen none. Its curve is so gentle and soft, and its three
arches so light and graceful, that I wonder that whenever new bridges
are necessary the authorities do not insist upon the Trinità being
copied. The Ponte Vecchio, of course, has a separate interest of its
own, and stands apart, like the Rialto. It is a bridge by chance, one
might almost say. But the Trinità is a bridge in intent and supreme at
that, the most perfect union of two river banks imaginable. It shows
to what depths modern Florence can fall--how little she esteems her
past--that the iron bridge by the Cascine should ever have been built.

The various yellows of Florence--the prevailing colours--are spread
out nowhere so favourably as on the Pitti side of the river between
the Trinità and the Ponte Vecchio on the backs of the houses of the
Borgo San Jacopo, and just so must this row have looked for four
hundred years. Certain of the occupants of these tenements, even on
the upper floors, have fishing nets, on pulleys, which they let down
at intervals during the day for the minute fish which seem to be as
precious to Italian fishermen as sparrows and wrens to Italian gunners.

The great palace at the Trinità end of this stretch of yellow
buildings--the Frescobaldi--must have been very striking when the
loggia was open: the three rows of double arches that are now walled
in. From this point, as well as from similar points on the other
side of the Ponte Vecchio, one realizes the mischief done by Cosimo
I's secret passage across it; for not only does the passage impose a
straight line on a bridge that was never intended to have one, but it
cuts Florence in two. If it were not for its large central arches one
would, from the other bridges or the embankment, see nothing whatever
of the further side of the city; but as it is, through these arches
one has heavenly vignettes.

We leave the river again for a few minutes about fifty yards along
the Lungarno Acciaioli beyond the Trinità and turn up a narrow passage
to see the little church of SS. Apostoli, where there is a delightful
gay ciborium, all bright colours and happiness, attributed to Andrea
della Robbia, with pretty cherubs and pretty angels, and a benignant
Christ and flowers and fruit which cannot but chase away gloom and
dubiety. Here also is a fine tomb by the sculptor of the elaborate
chimney-piece which we saw in the Bargello, Benedetto da Rovezzano,
who also designed the church's very beautiful door. Whether or
not it is true that SS. Apostoli was built by Charlemagne, it is
certainly very old and architecturally of great interest. Vasari says
that Brunelleschi acquired from it his inspiration for S. Lorenzo
and S. Spirito. To many Florentines its principal importance is its
custody of the Pazzi flints for the igniting of the sacred fire which
in turn ignites the famous Carro.

Returning again to the embankment, we are quickly at the Ponte
Vecchio, where it is pleasant at all times to loiter and observe
both the river and the people; while from its central arches one
sees the mountains. From no point are the hill of S. Miniato and
its stately cypresses more beautiful; but one cannot see the church
itself--only the church of S. Niccolò below it, and of course the
bronze "David". In dry weather the Arno is green; in rainy weather
yellow. It is so sensitive that one can almost see it respond to the
most distant shower; but directly the rain falls and it is fed by
a thousand Apennine torrents it foams past this bridge in fury. The
Ponte Vecchio was the work, upon a Roman foundation, of Taddeo Gaddi,
Giotto's godson, in the middle of the fourteenth century, but the
shops are, of course, more recent. The passage between the Pitti
and Uffizi was added in 1564. Gaddi, who was a fresco painter first
and architect afterwards, was employed because Giotto was absent in
Milan, Giotto being the first thought of every one in difficulties
at that time. The need, however, was pressing, for a flood in 1333
had destroyed a large part of the Roman bridge. Gaddi builded so well
that when, two hundred and more years later, another flood severely
damaged three other bridges, the Ponte Vecchio was unharmed. None
the less it is not Gaddi's bust but Cellini's that has the post of
honour in the centre; but this is, of course, because Cellini was
a goldsmith, and it is to goldsmiths that the shops belong. Once it
was the butchers' quarter!

I never cross the Ponte Vecchio and see these artificers in their
blouses through the windows, without wondering if in any of their boy
assistants is the Michelangelo, or Orcagna, or Ghirlandaio, or even
Cellini, of the future, since all of those, and countless others of
the Renaissance masters, began in precisely this way.

The odd thing is that one is on the Ponte Vecchio, from either
end, before one knows it to be a bridge at all. A street of sudden
steepness is what it seems to be. Not the least charming thing upon
it is the masses of groundsel which have established themselves on
the pent roof over the goldsmiths' shops. Every visitor to Florence
must have longed to occupy one of these little bridge houses; but I
am not aware that any has done so.

One of the oldest streets in Florence must be the Via Girolami, from
the Ponte Vecchio to the Uffizi, under an arch. A turning to the left
brings one to the Piazza S. Stefano, where the barn-like church of
S. Stefano is entered; and close by is the Torre de' Girolami, where
S. Zenobius lived. S. Stefano, although it is now so easily overlooked,
was of importance in its day, and it was here that Niccolò da Uzzano,
the leader of the nobles, held a meeting to devise means of checking
the growing power of the people early in the fifteenth century and was
thwarted by old Giovanni de' Medici. From that thwarting proceeded
the power of the Medici family and the gloriously endowed Florence
that we travel to see.



CHAPTER XXI

S. Maria Novella

The great churches of Florence--A Dominican cathedral--The "Decameron"
begins--Domenico Ghirlandaio--Alessio Baldovinetti--The Louvre--The
S. Maria Novella frescoes--Giovanni and Lorenzo Tornabuoni--Ruskin
implacable--Cimabue's Madonna--Filippino Lippi--Orcagna's "Last
Judgment"--The Cloisters of Florence--The Spanish Chapel--S. Dominic
triumphant--Giotto at his sweetest--The "Wanderer's" doom--The Piazza,
as an arena.

S. Maria Novella is usually bracketed with S. Croce as the most
interesting Florentine church after the Duomo, but S. Lorenzo has of
course to be reckoned with very seriously. I think that for interest
I should place S. Maria Novella fifth, including also the Baptistery
before it, but architecturally second. Its interior is second in
beauty only to S. Croce. S. Croce is its immediate religious rival,
for it was because the Dominicans had S. Maria Novella, begun in
1278, that several years later the Franciscans determined to have an
equally important church and built S. Croce. The S. Maria Novella
architects were brothers of the order, but Talenti, whom we saw at
work both on Giotto's tower and on San Michele, built the campanile,
and Leon Battista Alberti the marble façade, many years later. The
richest patrons of S. Maria Novella--corresponding to the Medici at
S. Lorenzo and the Bardi at S. Croce--were the Rucellai, whose palace,
designed also by the wonderful versatile Alberti, we have seen.

The interior of S. Maria Novella is very fine and spacious, and
it gathers and preserves an exquisite light at all times of the
day. Nowhere in Florence is there a finer aisle, with the roof
springing so nobly and masterfully from the eight columns on either
side. The whole effect, like that of S. Croce, is rather northern,
the result of the yellow and brown hues; but whereas S. Croce has a
crushing flat roof, this one is all soaring gladness.

The finest view of the interior is from the altar steps looking back
to the beautiful circular window over the entrance, a mass of happy
colour. In the afternoon the little plain circular windows high up
in the aisle shoot shafts of golden light upon the yellow walls. The
high altar of inlaid marble is, I think, too bright and too large. The
church is more impressive on Good Friday, when over this altar is built
a Calvary with the crucifix on the summit and life-size mourners at its
foot; while a choir and string orchestra make superbly mournful music.

I like to think that it was within the older S. Maria Novella that
those seven mirthful young ladies of Florence remained one morning
in 1348, after Mass, to discuss plans of escape from the city during
the plague. As here they chatted and plotted, there entered the church
three young men; and what simpler than to engage them as companions in
their retreat, especially as all three, like all seven of the young
women, were accomplished tellers of stories with no fear whatever of
Mrs. Grundy? And thus the "Decameron" of Giovanni Boccaccio came about.

S. Maria Novella also resembles S. Croce in its moving groups of
sight-seers each in the hands of a guide. These one sees always and
hears always: so much so that a reminder has been printed and set up
here and there in this church, to the effect that it is primarily the
house of God and for worshippers. But S. Maria Novella has not a tithe
of S. Croce's treasures. Having almost no tombs of first importance,
it has to rely upon its interior beauty and upon its frescoes, and
its chief glory, whatever Mr. Ruskin, who hated them, might say, is,
for most people, Ghirlandaio's series of scenes in the life of the
Virgin and S. John the Baptist. These cover the walls of the choir
and for more than four centuries have given delight to Florentines
and foreigners. Such was the thoroughness of their painter in his
colour mixing (in which the boy Michelangelo assisted him) that,
although they have sadly dimmed and require the best morning light,
they should endure for centuries longer, a reminder not only of
the thoughtful sincere interesting art of Ghirlandaio and of the
pious generosity of the Tornabuoni family, who gave them, but also
of the costumes and carriage of the Florentine ladies at the end
of the fifteenth century when Lorenzo the Magnificent was in his
zenith. Domenico Ghirlandaio may not be quite of the highest rank
among the makers of Florence; but he comes very near it, and indeed,
by reason of being Michelangelo's first instructor, perhaps should
stand amid them. But one thing is certain--that without him Florence
would be the poorer by many beautiful works.

He was born in 1449, twenty-one years after the death of Masaccio and
three before Leonardo, twenty-six before Michelangelo, and thirty-four
before Raphael. His full name was Domenico or Tommaso di Currado di
Doffo Bigordi, but his father Tommaso Bigordi, a goldsmith, having
hit upon a peculiarly attractive way of making garlands for the hair,
was known as Ghirlandaio, the garland maker; and time has effaced
the Bigordi completely.

The portraits of both Tommaso and Domenico, side by side, occur in the
fresco representing Joachim driven from the Temple: Domenico, who is to
be seen second from the extreme right, a little resembles our Charles
II. Like his father, and, as we have seen, like most of the artists of
Florence, he too became a goldsmith, and his love of the jewels that
goldsmiths made may be traced in his pictures; but at an early age he
was sent to Alessio Baldovinetti to learn to be a painter. Alessio's
work we find all over Florence: a Last Judgment in the Accademia, for
example, but that is not a very pleasing thing; a Madonna Enthroned,
in the Uffizi; the S. Miniato frescoes; the S. Trinità frescoes;
and that extremely charming although faded work in the outer court of
SS. Annunziata. For the most delightful picture from his hand, however,
one has to go to the Louvre, where there is a Madonna and Child (1300
a), in the early Tuscan room, which has a charm not excelled by any
such group that I know. The photographers still call it a Piero della
Francesca, and the Louvre authorities omit to name it at all; but it
is Alessio beyond question. Next it hangs the best Ghirlandaio that
I know--the very beautiful Visitation, and, to add to the interest
of this room to the returning Florentine wanderer, on the same wall
are two far more attractive works by Bastiano Mainardi (Ghirlandaio's
brother-in-law and assistant at S. Maria Novella) than any in Florence.

Alessio, who was born in 1427, was an open-handed ingenious man who
could not only paint and do mosaic but once made a wonderful clock for
Lorenzo. His experiments with colour were disastrous: hence most of his
frescoes have perished; but possibly it was through Alessio's mistakes
that Ghirlandaio acquired the use of such a lasting medium. Alessio
was an independent man who painted from taste and not necessity.

Ghirlandaio's chief influences, however, were Masaccio, at the Carmine,
Fra Lippo Lippi, and Verrocchio, who is thought also to have been
Baldovinetti's pupil and whose Baptism of Christ, in the Accademia,
painted when Ghirlandaio was seventeen, must have given Ghirlandaio
the lines for his own treatment of the incident in this church. One
has also only to compare Verrocchio's sculptured Madonnas in the
Bargello with many of Ghirlandaio's to see the influence again;
both were attracted by a similar type of sweet, easy-natured girl.

When he was twenty-six Ghirlandaio went to Rome to paint the Sixtine
library, and then to San Gimignano, where he was assisted by Mainardi,
who was to remain his most valuable ally in executing the large
commissions which were to come to his workshop. His earliest Florentine
frescoes are those which we shall see at Ognissanti; the Madonna della
Misericordia and the Deposition painted for the Vespucci family and
only recently discovered, together with the S. Jerome, in the church,
and the Last Supper, in the refectory. By this time Ghirlandaio and
Botticelli were in some sort of rivalry, although, so far as I know,
friendly enough, and both went to Rome in 1481, together with Perugino,
Piero di Cosimo, Cosimo Rosselli, Luca Signorelli and others, at
the command of Pope Sixtus IV to decorate the Sixtine chapel, the
excommunication of all Florentines which the Pope had decreed after
the failure of the Pazzi Conspiracy to destroy the Medici (as we saw
in chapter II) having been removed in order to get these excellent
workmen to the Holy City. Painting very rapidly the little band had
finished their work in six months, and Ghirlandaio was at home again
with such an ambition and industry in him that he once expressed the
wish that every inch of the walls of Florence might be covered by
his brush--and in those days Florence had walls all round it, with
twenty-odd towers in addition to the gates. His next great frescoes
were those in the Palazzo Vecchio and S. Trinita. It was in 1485
that he painted his delightful Adoration, at the Accademia, and in
1486 he began his great series at S. Maria Novella, finishing them
in 1490, his assistants being his brother David, Benedetto Mainardi,
who married Ghirlandaio's sister, and certain apprentices, among them
the youthful Michelangelo, who came to the studio in 1488.

The story of the frescoes is this. Ghirlandaio when in Rome had
met Giovanni Tornabuoni, a wealthy merchant whose wife had died
in childbirth. Her death we have already seen treated in relief by
Verrocchio in the Bargello. Ghirlandaio was first asked to beautify
in her honour the Minerva at Rome, where she was buried, and this
he did. Later when Giovanni Tornabuoni wished to present S. Maria
Novella with a handsome benefaction, he induced the Ricci family,
who owned this chapel, to allow him to re-decorate it, and engaged
Ghirlandaio for the task. This meant first covering the fast fading
frescoes by Orcagna, which were already there, and then painting over
them. What the Orcagnas were like we cannot know; but the substitute,
although probably it had less of curious genius in it was undoubtedly
more attractive to the ordinary observer.

The right wall, as one faces the window (whose richness of coloured
glass, although so fine in the church as a whole, is here such a
privation), is occupied by scenes in the story of the Baptist; the
left by the life of the Virgin. The left of the lowest pair on the
right wall represents S. Mary and S. Elizabeth, and in it a party of
Ghirlandaio's stately Florentine ladies watch the greeting of the two
saints outside Florence itself, symbolized rather than portrayed,
very near the church in which we stand. The girl in yellow, on the
right of the picture, with her handkerchief in her hand and wearing a
rich dress, is Giovanna degli Albizzi, who married Lorenzo Tornabuoni
at the Villa Lemmi near Florence, that villa from which Botticelli's
exquisite fresco, now in the Louvre at the top of the main staircase,
in which she again is to be seen, was taken. Her life was a sad
one, for her husband was one of those who conspired with Piero di
Lorenzo de' Medici for his return some ten years later, and was
beheaded. S. Elizabeth is of course the older woman. The companion
to this picture represents the angel appearing to S. Zacharias, and
here again Ghirlandaio gives us contemporary Florentines, portraits
of distinguished Tornabuoni men and certain friends of eminence
among them. In the little group low down on the left, for example,
are Poliziano and Marsilio Ficino, the Platonist. Above--but seeing
is beginning to be difficult--the pair of frescoes represent, on the
right, the birth of the Baptist, and on the left, his naming. The birth
scene has much beauty, and is as well composed as any, and there is
a girl in it of superb grace and nobility; but the birth scene of the
Virgin, on the opposite wall, is perhaps the finer and certainly more
easily seen. In the naming of the child we find Medici portraits once
more, that family being related to the Tornabuoni; and Mr. Davies,
in his book on Ghirlandaio, offers the interesting suggestion, which
he supports very reasonably, that the painter has made the incident
refer to the naming of Lorenzo de' Medici's third son, Giovanni (or
John), who afterwards became Pope Leo X. In that case the man on the
left, in green, with his hand on his hip, would be Lorenzo himself,
whom he certainly resembles. Who the sponsor is is not known. The
landscape and architecture are alike charming.

Above these we faintly see that strange Baptism of Christ, so curiously
like the Verrocchio in the Accademia, and the Baptist preaching.

The left wall is perhaps the favourite. We begin with Joachim being
driven from the Temple, one of the lowest pair; and this has a peculiar
interest in giving us a portrait of the painter and his associates--the
figure on the extreme right being Benedetto Mainardi; then Domenico
Ghirlandaio; then his father; and lastly his brother David. On the
opposite side of the picture is the fated Lorenzo Tornabuoni, of whom
I have spoken above, the figure farthest from the edge, with his hand
on his hip. The companion picture is the most popular of all--the
Birth of the Virgin--certainly one of the most charming interiors in
Florence. Here again we have portraits--no doubt Tornabuoni ladies--and
much pleasant fancy on the part of the painter, who made everything as
beautiful as he could, totally unmindful of the probabilities. Ruskin
is angry with him for neglecting to show the splashing of the water
in the vessel, but it would be quite possible for no splashing to
be visible, especially if the pouring had only just begun; but for
Ruskin's strictures you must go to "Mornings in Florence," where poor
Ghirlandaio gets a lash for every virtue of Giotto. Next--above, on
the left--we have the Presentation of the Virgin and on the right
her Marriage. The Presentation is considered by Mr. Davies to be
almost wholly the work of Ghirlandaio's assistants, while the youthful
Michelangelo himself has been credited with the half-naked figure on
the steps, although Mr. Davies gives it to Mainardi. Mainardi again
is probably the author of the companion scene. The remaining frescoes
are of less interest and much damaged; but in the window wall one
should notice the portraits of Giovanni Tornabuoni and Francesca di
Luca Pitti, his wife, kneeling, because this Giovanni was the donor
of the frescoes, and his sister Lucrezia was the wife of Piero de'
Medici and therefore the mother of Lorenzo the Magnificent, while
Francesca Tornabuoni, the poor lady who died in childbirth, was the
daughter of that proud Florentine who began the Pitti palace but
ended his life in disgrace.

And so we leave this beautiful recess, where pure religious feeling
may perhaps be wanting but where the best spirit of the Renaissance
is to be found: everything making for harmony and pleasure; and on
returning to London the visitor should make a point of seeing the
Florentine girl by the same hand in our National Gallery, No. 1230,
for she is very typical of his genius.

On the entrance wall of the church is what must once have been a fine
Masaccio--"The Trinity"--but it is in very bad condition; while in
the Cappella Rucellai in the right transept is what purports to be
a Cimabue, very like the one in the Accademia, but with a rather
more matured Child in it. Vasari tells us that on its completion
this picture was carried in stately procession from the painter's
studio to the church, in great rejoicing and blowing of trumpets,
the populace being moved not only by religious ecstasy but by pride in
an artist who could make such a beautiful and spacious painting, the
largest then known. Vasari adds that when Cimabue was at work upon it,
Charles of Anjou, visiting Florence, was taken to his studio, to see
the wonderful painter, and a number of Florentines entering too, they
broke out into such rejoicings that the locality was known ever after
as Borgo Allegro, or Joyful Quarter. This would be about 1290. There
was a certain fitness in Cimabue painting this Madonna, for it is said
that he had his education in the convent which stood here before the
present church was begun. But I should add that of Cimabue we know
practically nothing, and that most of Vasari's statements have been
confuted, while the painter of the S. Maria Novella Madonna is held
by some authorities to be Duccio of Siena. So where are we?

The little chapel next the choir on the right is that of Filippo
Strozzi the elder who was one of the witnesses of the Pazzi outrage in
the Duomo in 1478. This was the Filippo Strozzi who began the Strozzi
palace in 1489, father of the Filippo Strozzi who married Lorenzo
de' Medici's noble grand-daughter Clarice and came to a tragic end
under Cosimo I. Old Filippo's tomb here was designed by Benedetto da
Maiano, who made the famous Franciscan pulpit in S. Croce, and was
Ghirlandaio's friend and the Strozzi palace's first architect. The
beautiful circular relief of the Virgin and Child, with a border of
roses and flying worshipping angels all about it, behind the altar, is
Benedetto's too, and very lovely and human are both Mother and Child.

The frescoes in this chapel, by Filippino Lippi, are interesting,
particularly that one on the left, depicting the Resuscitation of
Drusiana by S. John the Evangelist, at Rome, in which the group of
women and children on the right, with the little dog, is full of
life and most naturally done. Above (but almost impossible to see)
is S. John in his cauldron of boiling oil between Roman soldiers and
the denouncing Emperor, under the banner S.P.Q.R.--a work in which
Roman local colour completely excludes religious feeling. Opposite,
below, we see S. Philip exorcising a dragon, a very florid scene,
and, above, a painfully spirited and realistic representation of the
Crucifixion. The sweetness of the figures of Charity and Faith in
monochrome and gold helps, with Benedetto's tondo, to engentle the air.

We then come again to the Choir, with Ghirlandaio's urbane Florentine
pageant in the guise of sacred history, and pass on to the next chapel,
the Cappella Gondi, where that crucifix in wood is to be seen which
Brunelleschi carved as a lesson to Donatello, who received it like
the gentleman he was. I have told the story in Chapter XV.

The left transept ends in the chapel of the Strozzi family, of which
Filippo was the head in his day, and here we find Andrea Orcagna and
his brother's fresco of Heaven, the Last Judgment and Hell. It was
the two Orcagnas who, according to Vasari, had covered the Choir with
those scenes in the life of the Virgin which Ghirlandaio was allowed
to paint over, and Vasari adds that the later artist availed himself
of many of the ideas of his predecessors. This, however, is not
very likely, I think, except perhaps in choice of subject. Orcagna,
like Giotto, and later, Michelangelo, was a student of Dante, and
the Strozzi chapel frescoes follow the poet's descriptions. In the
Last Judgment, Dante himself is to be seen, among the elect, in the
attitude of prayer. Petrarch is with him.

The sacristy is by Talenti (of the Campanile) and was added in
1350. Among its treasures once were the three reliquaries painted
by Fra Angelico, but they are now at S. Marco. It has still rich
vestments, fine woodwork, and a gay and elaborate lavabo by one of
the della Robbias, with its wealth of ornament and colour and its
charming Madonna and Child with angels.

A little doorway close by used to lead to the cloisters, and a
mercenary sacristan was never far distant, only too ready to unlock for
a fee what should never have been locked, and black with fury if he got
nothing. But all this has now been done away with, and the entrance
to the cloisters is from the Piazza, just to the left of the church,
and there is a turnstile and a fee of fifty centimes. At S. Lorenzo the
cloisters are free. At the Carmine and the Annunziata the cloisters
are free. At S. Croce the charge is a lira and at S. Maria Novella
half a lira. To make a charge for the cloisters alone seems to me
utterly wicked. Let the Pazzi Chapel at S. Croce and the Spanish
Chapel here have fees, if you like; but the cloisters should be open
to all. Children should be encouraged to play there.

Since, however, S. Maria Novella imposes a fee we must pay it,
and the new arrangement at any rate carries this advantage with it,
that one knows what one is expected to pay and can count on entrance.

The cloisters are everywhere interesting to loiter in, but their
chief fame is derived from the Spanish Chapel, which gained that name
when in 1566 it was put at the disposal of Eleanor of Toledo's suite
on the occasion of her marriage to Cosimo I. Nothing Spanish about
it otherwise. Both structure and frescoes belong to the fourteenth
century. Of these frescoes, which are of historical and human interest
rather than artistically beautiful, that one on the right wall as
we enter is the most famous. It is a pictorial glorification of the
Dominican order triumphant; with a vivid reminder of the origin of
the word Dominican in the episode of the wolves (or heretics) being
attacked by black and white dogs, the Canes Domini, or hounds of the
Lord. The "Mornings in Florence" should here be consulted again, for
Ruskin made a very thorough and characteristically decisive analysis
of these paintings, which, whether one agrees with it or not, is
profoundly interesting. Poor old Vasari, who so patiently described
them too and named a number of the originals of the portraits, is now
shelved, and from both his artists, Simone Martini and Taddeo Gaddi,
has the authorship been taken by modern experts. Some one, however,
must have done the work. The Duomo as represented here is not the
Duomo of fact, which had not then its dome, but of anticipation.

Opposite, we see a representation of the triumph of the greatest of the
Dominicans, after its founder, S. Thomas Aquinas, the author of the
"Summa Theologiae," who died in 1274. The painter shows the Angelic
Doctor enthroned amid saints and patriarchs and heavenly attendants,
while three powerful heretics grovel at his feet, and beneath are the
Sciences and Moral Qualities and certain distinguished men who served
them conspicuously, such as Aristotle, the logician, whom S. Thomas
Aquinas edited, and Cicero, the rhetorician. In real life Aquinas was
so modest and retiring that he would accept no exalted post from the
Church, but remained closeted with his books and scholars; and we can
conceive what his horror would be could he view this apotheosis. On the
ceiling is a quaint rendering of the walking on the water, S. Peter's
failure being watched from the ship with the utmost closeness by the
other disciples, but attracting no notice whatever from an angler,
close by, on the shore. The chapel is desolate and unkempt, and those
of us who are not Dominicans are not sorry to leave it and look for
the simple sweetness of the Giottos.

These are to be found, with some difficulty, on the walls of the niche
where the tomb of the Marchese Ridolfo stands. They are certainly
very simple and telling, and I advise every one to open the "Mornings
in Florence" and learn how the wilful magical pen deals with them;
but it would be a pity to give up Ghirlandaio because Giotto was so
different, as Ruskin wished. Room for both. One scene represents
the meeting of S. Joachim and S. Anna outside a mediaeval city's
walls, and it has some pretty Giottesque touches, such as the man
carrying doves to the Temple and the angel uniting the two saints
in friendliness; and the other is the Birth of the Virgin, which
Ruskin was so pleased to pit against Ghirlandaio's treatment of the
same incident. Well, it is given to some of us to see only what we
want to see and be blind to the rest; and Ruskin was of these the
very king. I agree with him that Ghirlandaio in both his Nativity
frescoes thought little of the exhaustion of the mothers; but it is
arguable that two such accouchements might with propriety be treated
as abnormal--as indeed every painter has treated the birth of Christ,
where the Virgin, fully dressed, is receiving the Magi a few moments
after. Ruskin, after making his deadly comparisons, concludes thus
genially of the Giotto version--"If you can be pleased with this,
you can see Florence. But if not, by all means amuse yourself there,
if you can find it amusing, as long as you like; you can never see it."

The S. Maria Novella habit is one to be quickly contracted by the
visitor to Florence: nearly as important as the S. Croce habit. Both
churches are hospitable and, apart from the cloisters, free and
eminently suited for dallying in; thus differing from the Duomo,
which is dark, and S. Lorenzo, where there are payments to be made
and attendants to discourage.

An effort should be made at S. Maria Novella to get into the old
cloisters, which are very large and indicate what a vast convent it
once was. But there is no certainty. The way is to go through to the
Palaestra and hope for the best. Here, as I have said in the second
chapter, were lodged Pope Eugenius and his suite, when they came
to the Council of Florence in 1439. These large and beautiful green
cloisters are now deserted. Through certain windows on the left one
may see chemists at work compounding drugs and perfumes after old
Dominican recipes, to be sold at the Farmacia in the Via della Scala
close by. The great refectory has been turned into a gymnasium.

The two obelisks, supported by tortoises and surmounted by beautiful
lilies, in the Piazza of S. Maria Novella were used as boundaries in
the chariot races held here under Cosimo I, and in the collection of
old Florentine prints on the top floor of Michelangelo's house you
may see representations of these races. The charming loggia opposite
S. Maria Novella, with della Robbia decorations, is the Loggia di
S. Paolo, a school designed, it is thought, by Brunelleschi, and
here, at the right hand end, we see S. Dominic himself in a friendly
embrace with S. Francis, a very beautiful group by either Luca or
Andrea della Robbia.

In the loggia cabmen now wrangle all day and all night. From it
S. Maria Novella is seen under the best conditions, always cheerful
and serene; while far behind the church is the huge Apennine where
most of the weather of Florence seems to be manufactured. In mid
April this year (1912) it still had its cap of snow.



CHAPTER XXII

The Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele to S. Trinità

A city of trams--The old market--Donatello's figure of Abundance--An
evening resort--A hall of variety--Florentines of to-day--The war
with Turkey--Homecoming heroes--Restaurants--The new market--The
bronze boar--A fifteenth century palace--Old Florentine life
reconstructed--Where changes are few--S. Trinità--Ghirlandaio
again--S. Francis--The Strozzi palace--Clarice de' Medici.

Florence is not simple to the stranger. Like all very old cities
built fortuitously it is difficult to learn: the points of the
compass are elusive; the streets are so narrow that the sky is no
constant guide; the names of the streets are often not there; the
policemen have no high standard of helpfulness. There are trams,
it is true--too many and too noisy, and too near the pavement--but
the names of their outward destinations, from the centre, too rarely
correspond to any point of interest that one is desiring. Hence one
has many embarrassments and even annoyances. Yet I daresay this is
best: an orderly Florence is unthinkable. Since, however, the trams
that are returning to the centre nearly all go to the Duomo, either
passing it or stopping there, the tram becomes one's best friend and
the Duomo one's starting point for most excursions.

Supposing ourselves to be there once more, let us quickly get through
the horrid necessity, which confronts one in all ancient Italian
cities, of seeing the Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele. In an earlier chapter
we left the Baptistery and walked along the Via Calzaioli. Again
starting from the Baptistery let us take the Via dell' Arcivescovado,
which is parallel with the Via Calzaioli, on the right of it, and
again walk straight forward. We shall come almost at once to the
great modern square.

No Italian city or town is complete without a Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele
and a statue of that monarch. In Florence the sturdy king bestrides
his horse here. Italy being so old and Vittorio Emmanuele so new,
it follows in most cases that the square or street named after
him supplants an older one, and if the Italians had any memory or
imaginative interest in history they would see to it that the old
name was not wholly obliterated. In Florence, in order to honour the
first king of United Italy, much grave violence was done to antiquity,
for a very picturesque quarter had to be cleared away for the huge
brasseries, stores and hotels which make up the west side; which
in their turn marked the site of the old market where Donatello and
Brunelleschi and all the later artists of the great days did their
shopping and met to exchange ideals and banter; and that market in
its turn marked the site of the Roman forum.

One of the features of the old market was the charming Loggia di Pesce;
another, Donatello's figure of Abundance, surmounting a column. This
figure is now in the museum of ancient city relics in the monastery
of S. Marco, where one confronts her on a level instead of looking
up at her in mid sky. But she is very good, none the less.

In talking to elderly persons who can remember Florence forty and fifty
years ago I find that nothing so distresses them as the loss of the
old quarter for the making of this new spacious piazza; and probably
nothing can so delight the younger Florentines as its possession,
for, having nothing to do in the evenings, they do it chiefly in the
Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele. Chairs and tables spring up like mushrooms
in the roadway, among which too few waiters distribute those very
inexpensive refreshments which seem to be purchased rather for the
right to the seat that they confer than for any stimulation. It is
extraordinary to the eyes of the thriftless English, who are never
so happy as when they are overpaying Italian and other caterers in
their own country, to notice how long these wiser folk will occupy
a table on an expenditure of fourpence.

I do not mean that there are no theatres in Florence. There are
many, but they are not very good; and the young men can do without
them. Curious old theatres, faded and artificial, all apparently built
for the comedies of Goldoni. There are cinema theatres too, at prices
which would delight the English public addicted to those insidious
entertainments, but horrify English managers; and the Teatro Salvini
at the back of the Palazzo Vecchio is occasionally transformed into a
Folies Bergères (as it is called) where one after another comediennes
sing each two or three songs rapidly to an audience who regard them
with apathy and converse without ceasing. The only sign of interest
which one observes is the murmur which follows anything a little
off the beaten track--a sound that might equally be encouragement
or disapproval. But a really pretty woman entering a box moves
them. Then they employ every note in the gamut; and curiously enough
the pretty woman in the box is usually as cool under the fusillade
as a professional and hardened sister would be. A strange music hall
this to the English eye, where the orchestra smokes, and no numbers
are put up, and every one talks, and the intervals seem to be hours
long. But the Florentines do not mind, for they have not the English
thirst for entertainment and escape; they carry their entertainment
with them and do not wish to escape--going to such places only because
they are warmer than out of doors.

Sitting here and watching their ironical negligence of the stage and
their interest in each other's company; their animated talk and rapid
decisions as to the merits and charms of a performer; the comfort of
their attitudes and carelessness (although never quite slovenliness)
in dress; one seems to realize the nation better than anywhere. The
old fighting passion may have gone; but much of the quickness, the
shrewdness and the humour remains, together with the determination of
each man to have if possible his own way and, whether possible or not,
his own say.

Seeing them in great numbers one quickly learns and steadily
corroborates the fact that the Florentines are not beautiful. A
pretty woman or a handsome man is a rarity; but a dull-looking man
or woman is equally rare. They are shrewd, philosophic, cynical, and
very ready for laughter. They look contented also: Florence clearly
is the best place to be born in, to live in, and to die in. Let all
the world come to Florence, by all means, and spend its money there;
but don't ask Florence to go to the world. Don't in fact ask Florence
to do anything very much.

Civilization and modern conditions have done the Florentines no
good. Their destiny was to live in a walled city in turbulent
days, when the foe came against it, or tyranny threatened from
within and had to be resisted. They were then Florentines and
everything mattered. To-day they are Italians and nothing matters
very much. Moreover, it must be galling to have somewhere in the
recesses of their consciousness the knowledge that their famous city,
built and cemented with their ancestors' blood, is now only a museum.

When it is fine and warm the music hall does not exist, and it is
in the Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele that the Florentines sit and talk,
or walk and talk, or listen to the band which periodically inhabits a
stand near the centre; and it was here that I watched the reception
of the news that Italy had declared war on Turkey, a decision which
while it rejoiced the national warlike spirit of the populace could
not but carry with it a reminder that wars have to be paid for. Six
or seven months later I saw the return to Florence of the first
troops from the war, and their reception was terrific. In the mass
they were welcome enough; but as soon as units could be separated
from the mass the fun began, for they were carried shoulder high to
whatever destination they wanted, their knapsacks and rifles falling
to proud bearers too; while the women clapped from the upper windows,
the shrewd shopkeepers cheered from their doorways, and the crowd which
followed and surrounded the hero every moment increased. As for the
heroes, they looked for the most part a good deal less foolish than
Englishmen would have done; but here and there was one whose expression
suggested that the Turks were nothing to this. One poor fellow had
his coat dragged from his back and torn into a thousand souvenirs.

The restaurants of Florence are those of a city where the natives
are thrifty and the visitors dine in hotels. There is one expensive
high-class house, in the Via Tornabuoni--Doney e Nipoti or Doney
et Neveux--where the cooking is Franco-Italian, and the Chianti and
wines are dear beyond belief, and the venerable waiters move with a
deliberation which can drive a hungry man--and one is always hungry
in this fine Tuscan air--to despair. I like better the excellent
old-fashioned purely Italian food and Chianti and speed at Bonciani's
in the Via de Panzani, close to the station. These twain are the
best. But it is more interesting to go to the huge Gambrinus in
the Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele, because so much is going on all the
time. One curious Florentine habit is quickly discovered and resented
by the stranger who frequents a restaurant, and that is the system of
changing waiters from one set of tables to another; so that whereas
in London and Paris the wise diner is true to a corner because it
carries the same service with it, in Florence he must follow the
service. But if the restaurants have odd ways, and a limited range of
dishes and those not very interesting, they make up for it by being
astonishingly quick. Things are cooked almost miraculously.

The Florentines eat little. But greediness is not an Italian fault. No
greedy people would have a five-syllabled word for waiter.

Continuing along the Via dell' Arcivescovado, which after the Piazza
becomes the Via Celimana, we come to that very beautiful structure
the Mercato Nuovo, which, however, is not so wonderfully new, having
been built as long ago as 1547-1551. Its columns and arched roof are
exquisitely proportioned. As a market it seems to be a poor affair,
the chief commodity being straw hats. For the principal food market one
has to go to the Via d'Ariento, near S. Lorenzo, and this is, I think,
well worth doing early in the morning. Lovers of Hans Andersen go to
the Mercato Nuovo to see the famous bronze boar (or "metal pig," as it
was called in the translation on which I was brought up) that stands
here, on whose back the little street boy had such adventures. The
boar himself was the work of Pietro Tacca (1586-1650), a copy from
an ancient marble original, now in the Uffizi, at the top of the
entrance stairs; but the pedestal with its collection of creeping
things is modern. The Florentines who stand in the market niches are
Bernardo Cennini, a goldsmith and one of Ghiberti's assistants, who
introduced printing into Florence in 1471 and began with an edition of
Virgil; Giovanni Villani, who was the city's first serious historian,
beginning in 1300 and continuing till his death in 1348; and Michele
Lando, the wool-carder, who on July 22nd, 1378, at the head of a mob,
overturned the power of the Signory.

By continuing straight on we should come to that crowded and fussy
little street which crosses the river by the Ponte Vecchio and
eventually becomes the Roman way; but let us instead turn to the
right this side of the market, down the Via Porta Rossa, because
here is the Palazzo Davanzati, which has a profound interest to
lovers of the Florentine past in that it has been restored exactly
to its ancient state when Pope Eugenius IV lodged here, and has been
filled with fourteenth and fifteenth century furniture. In those days
it was the home of the Davizza family. The Davanzati bought it late
in the sixteenth century and retained it until 1838. In 1904 it was
bought by Professor Elia Volpi, who restored its ancient conditions
and presented it to the city as a permanent monument of the past.

Here we see a mediaeval Florentine palace precisely as it was when its
Florentine owner lived his uncomfortable life there. For say what one
may, there is no question that life must have been uncomfortable. In
early and late summer, when the weather was fine and warm, these
stone floors and continuous draughts may have been solacing; but in
winter and early spring, when Florentine weather can be so bitterly
hostile, what then? That there was a big fire we know by the smoky
condition of Michelozzo's charming frieze on the chimney piece; but
the room--I refer to that on the first floor--is so vast that this
fire can have done little for any one but an immediate vis-à-vis;
and the room, moreover, was between the open world on the one side,
and the open court (now roofed in with glass) on the other, with
such additional opportunities for draughts as the four trap-doors
in the floor offered. It was through these traps that the stone
cannon-balls still stacked in the window seats were dropped, or a few
gallons of boiling oil poured, whenever the city or a faction of it
turned against the householder. Not comfortable, you see, at least
not in our northern sense of the word, although to the hardy frugal
Florentine it may have seemed a haven of luxury.

The furniture of the salon is simple and sparse and very hard. A bust
here, a picture there, a coloured plate, a crucifix, and a Madonna
and Child in a niche: that was all the decoration save tapestry. An
hour glass, a pepper mill, a compass, an inkstand, stand for utility,
and quaint and twisted musical instruments and a backgammon board
for beguilement.

In the salle-à-manger adjoining is less light, and here also is
a symbol of Florentine unrest in the shape of a hole in the wall
(beneath the niche which holds the Madonna and Child) through which
the advancing foe, who had successfully avoided the cannon balls
and the oil, might be prodded with lances, or even fired at. The
next room is the kitchen, curiously far from the well, the opening
to which is in the salon, and then a bedroom (with some guns in it)
and smaller rooms gained from the central court.

The rest of the building is the same--a series of self-contained
flats, but all dipping for water from the same shaft and all depending
anxiously upon the success of the first floor with invaders. At the
top is a beautiful loggia with Florence beneath it.

The odd thing to remember is that for the poor of Florence, who now
inhabit houses of the same age as the Davanzati palace, the conditions
are almost as they were in the fifteenth century. A few changes have
come in, but hardly any. Myriads of the tenements have no water laid
on: it must still be pulled up in buckets exactly as here. Indeed you
may often see the top floor at work in this way; and there is a row
of houses on the left of the road to the Certosa, a little way out
of Florence, with a most elaborate network of bucket ropes over many
gardens to one well. Similarly one sees the occupants of the higher
floors drawing vegetables and bread in baskets from the street and
lowering the money for them. The postman delivers letters in this
way, too. Again, one of the survivals of the Davanzati to which the
custodian draws attention is the rain-water pipe, like a long bamboo,
down the wall of the court; but one has but to walk along the Via
Lambertesca, between the Uffizi and the Via Por S. Maria, and peer
into the alleys, to see that these pipes are common enough yet.

In fact, directly one leaves the big streets Florence is still
fifteenth century. Less colour in the costumes, and a few anachronisms,
such as gas or electric light, posters, newspapers, cigarettes, and
bicycles, which dart like dragon flies (every Florentine cyclist
being a trick cyclist); but for the rest there is no change. The
business of life has not altered; the same food is eaten, the same
vessels contain it, the same fire cooks it, the same red wine is
made from the same grapes in the same vineyards, the same language
(almost) is spoken. The babies are christened at the same font,
the parents visit the same churches. Similarly the handicrafts can
have altered little. The coppersmith, the blacksmith, the cobbler,
the woodcarver, the goldsmiths in their yellow smocks, must be just
as they were, and certainly the cellars and caverns under the big
houses in which they work have not changed. Where the change is,
is among the better-to-do, the rich, and in the government. For no
longer is a man afraid to talk freely of politics; no longer does he
shudder as he passes the Bargello; no longer is the name of Medici
on his lips. Everything else is practically as it was.

The Via Porta Rossa runs to the Piazza S. Trinità, the church of
S. Trinità being our destination. For here are some interesting
frescoes. First, however, let us look at the sculpture: a very
beautiful altar by Benedetto da Rovezzano in the fifth chapel of the
right aisle; a monument by Luca della Robbia to one of the archbishops
of Fiesole, once in S. Pancrazio (which is now a tobacco factory)
in the Via della Spada and brought here for safe keeping--a beautiful
example of Luca's genius, not only as a modeller but also as a very
treasury of pretty thoughts, for the border of flowers and leaves is
beyond praise delightful. The best green in Florence (after Nature's,
which is seen through so many doorways and which splashes over so
many white walls and mingles with gay fruits in so many shops) is here.

In the fifth chapel of the left aisle is a Magdalen carved in wood
by Desiderio da Settignano and finished by Benedetto da Maiano;
while S. Trinità now possesses, but shows only on Good Friday,
the very crucifix from S. Miniato which bowed down and blessed
S. Gualberto. The porphyry tombs of the Sassetti, in the chapel of
that family, by Giuliano di Sangallo, are magnificent.

It is in the Sassetti chapel that we find the Ghirlandaio frescoes
of scenes in the life of S. Francis which bring so many strangers
to this church. The painting which depicts S. Francis receiving
the charter from the Emperor Honorius is interesting both for its
history and its painting; for it contains a valuable record of what
the Palazzo Vecchio and Loggia de' Lanzi were like in 1485, and also
many portraits: among them Lorenzo the Magnificent, on the extreme
right holding out his hand: Poliziano, tutor of the Medici boys,
coming first up the stairs; and on the extreme left very probably
Verrocchio, one of Ghirlandaio's favourite painters. We find old
Florence again in the very attractive picture of the resuscitation
of the nice little girl in violet, a daughter of the Spini family,
who fell from a window of the Spini palace (as we see in the distance
on the left, this being one of the old synchronized scenes) and was
brought to life by S. Francis, who chanced to be flying by. The
scene is intensely local: just outside the church, looking along
what is now the Piazza S. Trinità and the old Trinità bridge. The
Spini palace is still there, but is now called the Ferroni, and it
accommodates no longer Florentine aristocrats but consuls and bank
clerks. Among the portraits in the fresco are noble friends of the
Spini family--Albrizzi, Acciaioli, Strozzi and so forth. The little
girl is very quaint and perfectly ready to take up once more the
threads of her life. How long she lived this second time and what
became of her I have not been able to discover. Her tiny sister,
behind the bier, is even quainter. On the left is a little group
of the comely Florentine ladies in whom Ghirlandaio so delighted,
tall and serene, with a few youths among them.

It is interesting to note that Ghirlandaio in his S. Trinità frescoes
and Benedetto da Maiano in his S. Croce pulpit reliefs chose exactly
the same scenes in the life of S. Francis: interesting because
when Ghirlandaio was painting frescoes at San Gimignano in 1475,
Benedetto was at work on the altar for the same church of S. Fina,
and they were friends. Where Ghirlandaio and Giotto, also in S. Croce,
also coincide in choice of subject some interesting comparisons may
be made, all to the advantage of Giotto in spiritual feeling and
unsophisticated charm, but by no means to Ghirlandaio's detriment
as a fascinating historian in colour. In the scene of the death of
S. Francis we find Ghirlandaio and Giotto again on the same ground,
and here it is probable that the later painter went to the earlier
for inspiration; for he has followed Giotto in the fine thought that
makes one of the attendant brothers glance up as though at the saint's
ascending spirit. It is remarkable how, with every picture that one
sees, Giotto's completeness of equipment as a religious painter becomes
more marked. His hand may have been ignorant of many masterly devices
for which the time was not ripe; but his head and heart knew all.

The patriarchs in the spandrels of the choir are by Ghirlandaio's
master, Alessio Baldovinetti, of whom I said something in the chapter
on S. Maria Novella. They once more testify to this painter's charm
and brilliance. Almost more than that of any other does one regret the
scarcity of his work. It was fitting that he should have painted the
choir, for his name-saint, S. Alessio, guards the façade of the church.

The column opposite the church came from the baths of Caracalla and
was set up by Cosimo I, upon the attainment of his life-long ambition
of a grand-dukeship and a crown. The figure at the top is Justice.

S. Trinità is a good starting-point for the leisurely examination of
the older and narrower streets, an occupation which so many visitors
to Florence prefer to the study of picture galleries and churches. And
perhaps rightly. In no city can they carry on their researches with
such ease, for Florence is incurious about them. Either the Florentines
are too much engrossed in their own affairs or the peering foreigner
has become too familiar an object to merit notice, but one may drift
about even in the narrowest alleys beside the Arno, east and west,
and attract few eyes. And the city here is at its most romantic:
between the Piazza S. Trinità and the Via Por S. Maria, all about
the Borgo SS. Apostoli.

We have just been discussing Benedetto da Maiano the sculptor. If we
turn to the left on leaving S. Trinità, instead of losing ourselves in
the little streets, we are in the Via Tornabuoni, where the best shops
are and American is the prevailing language. We shall soon come, on the
right, to an example of Benedetto's work as an architect, for the first
draft of the famous Palazzo Strozzi, the four-square fortress-home
which Filippo Strozzi began for himself in 1489, was his. Benedetto
continued the work until his death in 1507, when Cronaca, who built
the great hall in the Palazzo Vecchio, took it over and added the
famous cornice. The iron lantern and other smithwork were by Lorenzo
the Magnificent's sardonic friend, "Il Caparro," of the Sign of the
Burning Books, of whom I wrote in the chapter on the Medici palace.

The first mistress of the Strozzi palace was Clarice Strozzi,
née Clarice de' Medici, the daughter of Piero, son of Lorenzo the
Magnificent. She was born in 1493 and married Filippo Strozzi the
younger in 1508, during the family's second period of exile. They
then lived at Rome, but were allowed to return to Florence in
1510. Clarice's chief title to fame is her proud outburst when she
turned Ippolito and Alessandro out of the Medici palace. She died
in 1528 and was buried in S. Maria Novella. The unfortunate Filippo
met his end nine years later in the Boboli fortezza, which his money
had helped to build and in which he was imprisoned for his share in
a conspiracy against Cosimo I. Cosimo confiscated the palace and all
Strozzi's other possessions, but later made some restitution. To-day
the family occupy the upper part of their famous imperishable home,
and beneath there is an exhibition of pictures and antiquities for
sale. No private individual, whatever his wealth or ambition, will
probably ever again succeed in building a house half so strong or
noble as this.



CHAPTER XXIII

The Pitti

Luca Pitti's pride--Preliminary caution--A terrace view--A
collection but not a gallery--The personally-conducted--Giorgione
the superb--Sustermans--The "Madonna del Granduca"--The "Madonna
della Sedia"--From Cimabue to Raphael--Andrea del Sarto--Two Popes
and a bastard--The ill-fated Ippolito--The National Gallery--Royal
apartments--"Pallas Subduing the Centaur"--The Boboli Gardens.

The Pitti approached from the Via Guicciardini is far liker a prison
than a palace. It was commissioned by Luca Pitti, one of the proudest
and richest of the rivals of the Medici, in 1441. Cosimo de' Medici,
as we have seen, had rejected Brunelleschi's plans for a palazzo
as being too pretentious and gone instead to his friend Michelozzo
for something that externally at any rate was more modest; Pitti,
whose one ambition was to exceed Cosimo in power, popularity, and
visible wealth, deliberately chose Brunelleschi, and gave him carte
blanche to make the most magnificent mansion possible. Pitti, however,
plotting against Cosimo's son Piero, was frustrated and condemned to
death; and although Piero obtained his pardon he lost all his friends
and passed into utter disrespect in the city. Meanwhile his palace
remained unfinished and neglected, and continued so for a century,
when it was acquired by the Grand Duchess Eleanor of Toledo, the wife
of Cosimo I, who though she saw only the beginnings of its splendours
lived there awhile and there brought up her doomed brood. Eleanor's
architect--or rather Cosimo's, for though the Grand Duchess paid,
the Grand Duke controlled--was Ammanati, the designer of the Neptune
fountain in the Piazza della Signoria. Other important additions were
made later. The last Medicean Grand Duke to occupy the Pitti was Gian
Gastone, a bizarre detrimental, whose head, in a monstrous wig, may
be seen at the top of the stairs leading to the Uffizi gallery. He
died in 1737.

As I have said in chapter VIII, it was by the will of Gian Gastone's
sister, widow of the Elector Palatine, who died in 1743, that the
Medicean collections became the property of the Florentines. This
bequest did not, however, prevent the migration of many of the
best pictures to Paris under Napoleon, but after Waterloo they came
back. The Pitti continued to be the home of princes after Gian Gastone
quitted a world which he found strange and made more so; but they were
not of the Medici blood. It is now a residence of the royal family.

The first thing to do if by evil chance one enters the Pitti by the
covered way from the Uffizi is, just before emerging into the palace,
to avoid the room where copies of pictures are sold, for not only is
it a very catacomb of headache, from the fresh paint, but the copies
are in themselves horrible and lead to disquieting reflections on
the subject of sweated labour. The next thing to do, on at last
emerging, is to walk out on the roof from the little room at the
top of the stairs, and get a supply of fresh air for the gallery,
and see Florence, which is very beautiful from here. Looking over
the city one notices that the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio is almost
more dominating than the Duomo, the work of the same architect who
began this palace. Between the two is Fiesole. The Signoria tower is,
as I say, the highest. Then the Duomo. Then Giotto's Campanile. The
Bargello is hidden, but the graceful Badia tower is seen; also the
little white Baptistery roof with its lantern just showing. From the
fortezza come the sounds of drums and bugles.

Returning from this terrace we skirt a vast porphyry basin and reach
the top landing of the stairs (which was, I presume, once a loggia)
where there is a very charming marble fountain; and from this we
enter the first room of the gallery. The Pitti walls are so congested
and so many of the pictures so difficult to see, that I propose to
refer only to those which, after a series of visits, seem to me the
absolute best. Let me hasten to say that to visit the Pitti gallery
on any but a really bright day is folly. The great windows (which
were to be larger than Cosimo de' Medici's doors) are excellent to
look out of, but the rooms are so crowded with paintings on walls
and ceilings, and the curtains are so absorbent of light, that unless
there is sunshine one gropes in gloom. The only pictures in short that
are properly visible are those on screens or hinges; and these are,
fortunately almost without exception, the best. The Pitti rooms were
never made for pictures at all, and it is really absurd that so many
beautiful things should be massed here without reasonable lighting.

The Pitti also is always crowded. The Uffizi is never crowded; the
Accademia is always comfortable; the Bargello is sparsely attended. But
the Pitti is normally congested, not only by individuals but by flocks,
whose guides, speaking broken English, and sometimes broken American,
lead from room to room. I need hardly say that they form the tightest
knots before the works of Raphael. All this is proper enough, of
course, but it serves to render the Pitti a difficult gallery rightly
to study pictures in.

In the first chapter on the Uffizi I have said how simple it is,
in the Pitti, to name the best picture of all, and how difficult in
most galleries. But the Pitti has one particular jewel which throws
everything into the background: the work not of a Florentine but of a
Venetian: "The Concert" of Giorgione, which stands on an easel in the
Sala di Marte. [9] It is true that modern criticism has doubted the
lightness of the ascription, and many critics, whose one idea seems
to be to deprive Giorgione of any pictures at all, leaving him but
a glorious name without anything to account for it, call it an early
Titian; but this need not trouble us. There the picture is, and never
do I think to see anything more satisfying. Piece by piece, it is
not more than fine rich painting, but as a whole it is impressive and
mysterious and enchanting. Pater compares the effect of it to music;
and he is right.

The Sala dell' Iliade (the name of each room refers always to the
ceiling painting, which, however, one quite easily forgets to look at)
is chiefly notable for the Raphael just inside the door: "La Donna
Gravida," No. 229, one of his more realistic works, with bolder colour
than usual and harder treatment; rather like the picture that has
been made its pendant, No. 224, an "Incognita" by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio,
very firmly painted, but harder still. Between them is the first of the
many Pitti Andrea del Sartos: No. 225, an "Assumption of the Madonna,"
opposite a similar work from the same brush, neither containing quite
the finest traits of this artist. But the youth with outstretched hand
at the tomb is nobly done. No. 265, "Principe Mathias de' Medici,"
is a good bold Sustermans, but No. 190, on the opposite wall, is a
far better--a most charming work representing the Crown Prince of
Denmark, son of Frederick III. Justus Sustermans, who has so many
portraits here and elsewhere in Florence, was a Belgian, born in 1597,
who settled in Florence as a portrait painter to Cosimo III. Van Dyck
greatly admired his work and painted him. He died at Florence in 1681.

No. 208, a "Virgin Enthroned," by Fra Bartolommeo, is from S. Marco,
and it had better have been painted on the wall there, like the Fra
Angelicos, and then the convent would have it still. The Child is very
attractive, as almost always in this artist's work, but the picture
as a whole has grown rather dingy. By the window is a Velasquez, the
first we have seen in Florence, a little Philip IV on his prancing
steed, rather too small for its subject, but very interesting here
among the Italians.

In the next large room--the Sala di Saturno--we come again to
Raphael, who is indeed the chief master of the Pitti, his exquisite
"Madonna del Granduca" being just to the left of the door. Here we
have the simplest colouring and perfect sweetness, and such serenity
of mastery as must be the despair of the copyists, who, however,
never cease attempting it. The only defect is a little clumsiness
in the Madonna's hand. The picture was lost for two centuries and it
then changed owners for twelve crowns, the seller being a poor woman
and the buyer a bookseller. The bookseller found a ready purchaser
in the director of the Grand Duke Ferdinand III's gallery, and the
Grand Duke so esteemed it that he carried it with him on all his
journeys, just as Sir George Beaumont, the English connoisseur, never
travelled without a favourite Claude. Hence its name. Another Andrea
del Sarto, the "Disputa sulla Trinita," No. 172, is close by, nobly
drawn but again not of his absolute best, and then five more Raphaels
or putative Raphaels--No. 171, Tommaso Inghirami; No. 61, Angelo Doni,
the collector and the friend of artists, for whom Michelangelo painted
his "Holy Family" in the Uffizi; No. 59, Maddalena Doni; and above
all No. 174, "The Vision of Ezekiel," that little great picture,
so strong and spirited, and--to coin a word--Sixtinish. All these,
I may say, are questioned by experts; but some very fine hand is
to be seen in them any way. Over the "Ezekiel" is still another,
No. 165, the "Madonna detta del Baldacchino," which is so much better
in the photographs. Next this group--No. 164--we find Raphael's
friend Perugino with an Entombment, but it lacks his divine glow;
and above it a soft and mellow and easy Andrea del Sarto, No. 163,
which ought to be in a church rather than here. A better Perugino
is No. 42, which has all his sweetness, but to call it the Magdalen
is surely wrong; and close by it a rather formal Fra Bartolommeo,
No. 159, "Gesu Resuscitato," from the church of SS. Annunziata, in
which once again the babies who hold the circular landscape are the
best part. After another doubtful Raphael--the sly Cardinal Divizio
da Bibbiena, No. 158--let us look at an unquestioned one, No. 151,
the most popular picture in Florence, if not the whole world, Raphael's
"Madonna della Sedia," that beautiful rich scene of maternal tenderness
and infantine peace. Personally I do not find myself often under
Raphael's spell; but here he conquers. The Madonna again is without
enough expression, but her arms are right, and the Child is right,
and the colour is so rich, almost Venetian in that odd way in which
Raphael now and then could suggest Venice.

It is interesting to compare Raphael's two famous Madonnas in this
room: this one belonging to his Roman period and the other, opposite
it, to Florence, with the differences so marked. For by the time he
painted this he knew more of life and human affection. This picture,
I suppose, might be called the consummation of Renaissance painting in
fullest bloom: the latest triumph of that impulse. I do not say it is
the best; but it may be called a crown on the whole movement both in
subject and treatment. Think of the gulf between the Cimabue Madonna
and the Giotto Madonna, side by side, which we saw in the Accademia,
and this. With so many vivid sympathies Giotto must have wanted with
all his soul to make the mother motherly and the child childlike; but
the time was not yet; his hand was neither free nor fit. Between Giotto
and Raphael had to come many things before such treatment as this was
possible; most of all, I think, Luca della Robbia had to come between,
for he was the most valuable reconciler of God and man of them all. He
was the first to bring a tender humanity into the Church, the first
to know that a mother's fingers, holding a baby, sink into its soft
little body. Without Luca I doubt if the "Madonna della Sedia" could
be the idyll of protective solicitude and loving pride that it is.

The Sala di Giove brings us to Venetian painting indeed, and glorious
painting too, for next the door is Titian's "Bella," No. 18, the lady
in the peacock-blue dress with purple sleeves, all richly embroidered
in gold, whom to see once is to remember for ever. On the other side of
the door is Andrea's brilliant "S. John the Baptist as a Boy," No. 272,
and then the noblest Fra Bartolommeo here, a Deposition, No. 64, not
good in colour, but superbly drawn and pitiful. In this room also is
the monk's great spirited figure of S. Marco, for the convent of that
name. Between them is a Tintoretto, No. 131, Vincenzo Zeino, one of his
ruddy old men, with a glimpse of Venice, under an angry sky, through
the window. Over the door, No. 124, is an Annunciation by Andrea,
with a slight variation in it, for two angels accompany that one who
brings the news, and the announcement is made from the right instead
of the left, while the incident is being watched by some people on the
terrace over a classical portico. A greater Andrea hangs next: No. 123,
the Madonna in Glory, fine but rather formal, and, like all Andrea's
work, hall-marked by its woman type. The other notable pictures are
Raphael's Fornarina, No. 245, which is far more Venetian than the
"Madonna della Sedia," and has been given to Sebastian del Piombo;
and the Venetian group on the right of the door, which is not only
interesting for its own charm but as being a foretaste of the superb
and glorious Giorgione in the Sala di Marte, which we now enter.

Here we find a Rembrandt, No. 16, an old man: age and dignity emerging
golden from the gloom; and as a pendant a portrait, with somewhat
similar characteristics, but softer, by Tintoretto, No. 83. Between
them is a prosperous, ruddy group of scholars by Rubens, who has
placed a vase of tulips before the bust of Seneca. And we find Rubens
again with a sprawling, brilliant feat entitled "The Consequences
of War," but what those consequences are, beyond nakedness, one
has difficulty in discerning. Raphael's Holy Family, No. 94 (also
known as the "Madonna dell' Impannata"), next it might be called the
perfection of drawing without feeling. The authorities consider it a
school piece: that is to say, chiefly the work of his imitators. The
vivacity of the Child's face is very remarkable. The best Andrea is
in this room--a Holy Family, No. 81, which gets sweeter and simpler
and richer with every glance. Other Andreas are here too, notably on
the right of the further door a sweet mother and sprawling, vigorous
Child. But every Andrea that I see makes me think more highly of the
"Madonna della Sacco," in the cloisters of SS. Annunziata. Van Dyck,
who painted much in Italy before settling down at the English court,
we find in this room with a masterly full-length seated portrait of
an astute cardinal. But the room's greatest glory, as I have said,
is the Giorgione on the easel.

In the Sala di Apollo, at the right of the door as we enter, is
Andrea's portrait of himself, a serious and mysterious face shining
out of darkness, and below it is Titian's golden Magdalen, No. 67,
the same ripe creature that we saw at the Uffizi posing as Flora,
again diffusing Venetian light. On the other side of the door we find,
for the first time in Florence, Murillo, who has two groups of the
Madonna and Child on this wall, the better being No. 63, which is both
sweet and masterly. In No. 56 the Child becomes a pretty Spanish boy
playing with a rosary, and in both He has a faint nimbus instead of
the halo to which we are accustomed. On the same wall is another fine
Andrea, who is most lavishly represented in this gallery, No. 58,
a Deposition, all gentle melancholy rather than grief. The kneeling
girl is very beautiful.

Finally there are Van Dyck's very charming portrait of Charles
I of England and Henrietta, a most deft and distinguished work,
and Raphael's famous portrait of Leo X with two companions: rather
dingy, and too like three persons set for the camera, but powerful and
deeply interesting to us, because here we see the first Medici pope,
Leo X, Lorenzo de' Medici's son Giovanni, who gave Michelangelo the
commission for the Medici tombs and the new Sacristy of S. Lorenzo;
and in the young man on the Pope's right hand we see none other
than Giulio, natural son of Giuliano de' Medici, Lorenzo's brother,
who afterwards became Pope as Clement VII. It was he who laid siege
to Florence when Michelangelo was called upon to fortify it; and it
was during his pontificate that Henry VIII threw off the shackles
of Rome and became the Defender of the Faith. Himself a bastard,
Giulio became the father of the base-born Alessandro of Urbino,
first Duke of Florence, who, after procuring the death of Ippolito
and living a life of horrible excess, was himself murdered by his
cousin Lorenzino in order to rid Florence of her worst tyrant. In
his portrait Leo X has an illuminated missal and a magnifying glass,
as indication of his scholarly tastes. That he was also a good liver
his form and features testify.

Of this picture an interesting story is told. After the battle of
Pavia, in 1525, Clement VII wishing to be friendly with the Marquis
of Gonzaga, a powerful ally of the Emperor Charles V, asked him what
he could do for him, and Gonzaga expressed a wish for the portrait
of Leo X, then in the Medici palace. Clement complied, but wishing
to retain at any rate a semblance of the original, directed that the
picture should be copied, and Andrea del Sarto was chosen for that
task. The copy turned out to be so close that Gonzaga never obtained
the original at all.

In the next room--the Sala di Venere, and the last room in the long
suite--we find another Raphael portrait, and another Pope, this time
Julius II, that Pontiff whose caprice and pride together rendered
null and void and unhappy so many years of Michelangelo's life,
since it was for him that the great Julian tomb, never completed, was
designed. A replica of this picture is in our National Gallery. Here
also are a wistful and poignant John the Baptist by Dossi, No. 380;
two Dürers--an Adam and an Eve, very naked and primitive, facing
each other from opposite walls; and two Rubens landscapes not equal
to ours at Trafalgar Square, but spacious and lively. The gem of the
room is a lovely Titian, No. 92, on an easel, a golden work of supreme
quietude and disguised power. The portrait is called sometimes the
Duke of Norfolk, sometimes the "Young Englishman".

Returning to the first room--the Sala of the Iliad--we enter the Sala
dell' Educazione di Giove, and find on the left a little gipsy portrait
by Boccaccio Boccaccino (1497-1518) which has extraordinary charm:
a grave, wistful, childish face in a blue handkerchief: quite a new
kind of picture here. I reproduce it in this volume, but it wants
its colour. For the rest, the room belongs to less-known and later
men, in particular to Cristofano Allori (1577-1621), with his famous
Judith, reproduced in all the picture shops of Florence. This work is
no favourite of mine, but one cannot deny it power and richness. The
Guido Reni opposite, in which an affected fat actress poses as
Cleopatra with the asp, is not, however, even tolerable.

We next pass, after a glance perhaps at the adjoining tapestry room
on the left (where the bronze Cain and Abel are), the most elegant
bathroom imaginable, fit for anything rather than soap and splashes,
and come to the Sala di Ulisse and some good Venetian portraits:
a bearded senator in a sable robe by Paolo Veronese, No. 216, and,
No. 201, Titian's fine portrait of the ill-fated Ippolito de'
Medici, son of that Giuliano de' Medici, Duc de Nemours, whose
tomb by Michelangelo is at S. Lorenzo. This amiable young man was
brought up by Leo X until the age of twelve, when the Pope died,
and the boy was sent to Florence to live at the Medici palace,
with the base-born Alessandro, under the care of Cardinal Passerini,
where he remained until Clarice de' Strozzi ordered both the boys to
quit. In 1527 came the third expulsion of the Medici from Florence,
and Ippolito wandered about until Clement VII, the second Medici
Pope, was in Rome, after the sack, and, joining him there, he was,
against his will, made a cardinal, and sent to Hungary: Clement's idea
being to establish Alessandro (his natural son) as Duke of Florence,
and squeeze Ippolito, the rightful heir, out. This, Clement succeeded
in doing, and the repulsive and squalid-minded Alessandro--known as
the Mule--was installed. Ippolito, in whom this proceeding caused
deep grief, settled in Bologna and took to scholarship, among other
tasks translating part of the Aeneid into Italian blank verse;
but when Clement died and thus liberated Rome from a vile tyranny,
he was with him and protected his corpse from the angry mob. That
was in 1534, when Ippolito was twenty-seven. In the following year
a number of exiles from Florence who could not endure Alessandro's
offensive ways, or had been forced by him to fly, decided to appeal
to the Emperor Charles V for assistance against such a contemptible
ruler; and Ippolito headed the mission; but before he could reach the
Emperor an emissary of Alessandro's succeeded in poisoning him. Such
was Ippolito de' Medici, grandson of the great Lorenzo, whom Titian
painted, probably when he was in Bologna, in 1533 or 1534.

This room also contains a nice little open decorative scene--like a
sketch for a fresco--of the Death of Lucrezia, No. 388, attributed
to the School of Botticelli, and above it a good Royal Academy Andrea
del Sarto.

The next is the best of these small rooms--the Sala of
Prometheus--where on Sundays most people spend their time in
astonishment over the inlaid tables, but where Tuscan art also is
very beautiful. The most famous picture is, I suppose, the circular
Filippino Lippi, No. 343, but although the lively background is
very entertaining and the Virgin most wonderfully painted, the Child
is a serious blemish. The next favourite, if not the first, is the
Perugino on the easel--No. 219--one of his loveliest small pictures,
with an evening glow among the Apennines such as no other painter
could capture. Other fine works here are the Fra Bartolommeo, No. 256,
over the door, a Holy Family, very pretty and characteristic, and his
"Ecce Homo," next it; the adorable circular Botticini (as the catalogue
calls it, although the photographers waver between Botticelli and
Filippino Lippi), No. 347, with its myriad roses and children with
their little folded hands and the Mother and Child diffusing happy
sweetness, which, if only it were a little less painty, would be one
of the chief magnets of the gallery.

Hereabout are many Botticelli school pictures, chief of these the
curious girl, called foolishly "La Bella Simonetta," which Mr. Berenson
attributes to that unknown disciple of Botticelli to whom he has given
the charming name of Amico di Sandro. This study in browns, yellow,
and grey always has its public. Other popular Botticelli derivatives
are Nos. 348 and 357. Look also at the sly and curious woman (No. 102),
near the window, by Ubertini, a new artist here; and the pretty Jacopo
del Sellaio, No. 364; a finely drawn S. Sebastian by Pollaiuolo;
the Holy Family by Jacopo di Boateri, No. 362, with very pleasant
colouring; No. 140, the "Incognita," which people used to think was
by Leonardo--for some reason difficult to understand except on the
principle of making the wish father to the thought--and is now given
to Bugiardini; and lastly a rich and comely example of Lombardy art,
No. 299.

From this room we will enter first the Corridio delle Colonne where
Cardinal Leopoldo de' Medici's miniature portraits are hung, all
remarkable and some superb, but unfortunately not named, together
with a few larger works, all very interesting. That Young Goldsmith,
No. 207, which used to be given to Leonardo but is now Ridolfo
Ghirlandaio's, is here; a Franciabigio, No. 43; a questioned Raphael,
No. 44; a fine and sensitive head of one of the Gonzaga family by
Mantegna, No. 375; the coarse head of Giovanni Bentivoglio by da
Costa, No. 376; and a Pollaiuolo, No. 370, S. Jerome, whose fine rapt
countenance is beautifully drawn.

In the Sala della Giustizia we come again to the Venetians: a noble
Piombo, No. 409; the fine Aretino and Tommaso Mosti by Titian;
Tintoretto's portrait of a man, No. 410; and two good Moronis. But
I am not sure that Dosso Dossi's "Nymph and Satyr" on the easel is
not the most remarkable achievement here. I do not, however, care
greatly for it.

In the Sala di Flora we find some interesting Andreas; a beautiful
portrait by Puligo, No. 184; and Giulio Romano's famous frieze of
dancers. Also a fine portrait by Allori, No. 72. The end room of all
is notable for a Ruysdael.

Finally there is the Sala del Poccetti, out of the Sala di Prometeo,
which, together with the preceding two rooms that I have described,
has lately been rearranged. Here now is the hard but masterly Holy
Family of Bronzino, who has an enormous amount of work in Florence,
chiefly Medicean portraits, but nowhere, I think, reaches the level
of his "Allegory" in our National Gallery, or the portrait in the
Taylor collection sold at Christie's in 1912. Here also are four
rich Poussins; two typical Salvator Rosa landscapes and a battle
piece from the same hand; and, by some strange chance, a portrait
of Oliver Cromwell by Sir Peter Lely. But the stone table again wins
most attention.

And here, as we leave the last of the great picture collections of
Florence, I would say how interesting it is to the returned visitor
to London to go quickly to the National Gallery and see how we
compare with them. Florence is naturally far richer than we, but
although only now and then have we the advantage, we can valuably
supplement in a great many cases. And the National Gallery keeps
up its quality throughout--it does not suddenly fall to pieces as
the Uffizi does. Thus, I doubt if Florence with all her Andreas
has so exquisite a thing from his hand as our portrait of a "Young
Sculptor," so long called a portrait of the painter himself; and we
have two Michelangelo paintings to the Uffizi's one. In Leonardo the
Louvre is of course far richer, even without the Gioconda, but we
have at Burlington House the cartoon for the Louvre's S. Anne which
may pair off with the Uffizi's unfinished Madonna, and we have also
at the National Gallery his finished "Virgin of the Rocks," while
to Burlington House one must go too for Michelangelo's beautiful
tondo. In Piero di Cosimo we are more fortunate than the Uffizi; and
we have Raphaels as important as those of the Pitti. We are strong
too in Perugino, Filippino Lippi, and Luca Signorelli, while when it
comes to Piero della Francesca we lead absolutely. Our Verrocchio,
or School of Verrocchio, is a superb thing, while our Cimabue (from
S. Croce) has a quality of richness not excelled by any that I have
seen elsewhere. But in Botticelli Florence wins.

The Pitti palace contains also the apartments in which the King
and Queen of Italy reside when they visit Florence, which is not
often. Florence became the capital of Italy in 1865, on the day of
the sixth anniversary of the birth of Dante. It remained the capital
until 1870, when Rome was chosen. The rooms are shown thrice a
week, and are not, I think, worth the time that one must give to the
perambulation. Beyond this there is nothing to say, except that they
would delight children. Visitors are hurried through in small bands,
and dallying is discouraged. Hence one is merely tantalized by the
presence of their greatest treasure, Botticelli's "Pallas subduing
the Centaur," painted to commemorate Lorenzo de' Medici's successful
diplomatic mission to the King of Naples in 1480, to bring about
the end of the war with Sixtus IV, the prime instigator of the Pazzi
Conspiracy and the bitter enemy of Lorenzo in particular--whose only
fault, as he drily expressed it, had been to "escape being murdered
in the Cathedral"--and of all Tuscany in general. Botticelli, whom
we have already seen as a Medicean allegorist, always ready with
his glancing genius to extol and commend the virtues of that family,
here makes the centaur typify war and oppression while the beautiful
figure which is taming and subduing him by reason represents Pallas,
or the arts of peace, here identifiable with Lorenzo by the laurel
wreath and the pattern of her robe, which is composed of his private
crest of diamond rings intertwined. This exquisite picture--so rich
in colour and of such power and impressiveness--ought to be removed
to an easel in the Pitti Gallery proper. The "Madonna della Rosa,"
by Botticelli or his School, is also here, and I had a moment before
a very alluring Holbein. But my memory of this part of the palace is
made up of gilt and tinsel and plush and candelabra, with two pieces
of furniture outstanding--a blue and silver bed, and a dining table
rather larger than a lawn-tennis court.

The Boboli gardens, which climb the hill from the Pitti, are also
opened only on three afternoons a week. The panorama of Florence and
the surrounding Apennines which one has from the Belvedere makes a
visit worth while; but the gardens themselves are, from the English
point of view, poor, save in extent and in the groves on the way to
the stables (scuderie). Like all gardens where clipped walks are the
principal feature, they want people. They were made for people to
enjoy them, rather than for flowers to grow in, and at every turn
there is a new and charming vista in a green frame.

It was from the Boboli hill-side before it was a garden that much
of the stone of Florence was quarried. With such stones so near it
is less to be wondered at that the buildings are what they are. And
yet it is wonderful too--that these little inland Italian citizens
should so have built their houses for all time. It proves them to
have had great gifts of character. There is no such building any more.

The Grotto close to the Pitti entrance, which contains some of
Michelangelo's less remarkable "Prisoners," intended for the great
Julian tomb, is so "grottesque" that the statues are almost lost, and
altogether it is rather an Old Rye House affair; and though Giovanni
da Bologna's fountain in the midst of a lake is very fine, I doubt if
the walk is quite worth it. My advice rather is to climb at once to
the top, at the back of the Pitti, by way of the amphitheatre where
the gentlemen and ladies used to watch court pageants, and past that
ingenious fountain above it, in which Neptune's trident itself spouts
water, and rest in the pretty flower garden on the very summit of the
hill, among the lizards. There, seated on the wall, you may watch the
peasants at work in the vineyards, and the white oxen ploughing in
the olive groves, in the valley between this hill and S. Miniato. In
spring the contrast between the greens of the crops and the silver
grey of the olives is vivid and gladsome; in September, one may see
the grapes being picked and piled into the barrels, immediately below,
and hear the squdge as the wooden pestle is driven into the purple
mass and the juice gushes out.



CHAPTER XXIV

English Poets in Florence

Casa Guidi--The Brownings--Giotto's missing spire--James Russell
Lowell--Lander's early life--Fra Bartolommeo before Raphael--The Tuscan
gardener--The "Villa Landor" to-day--Storms on the hillside--Pastoral
poetry--Italian memories in England--The final outburst--Last days
in Florence--The old lion's beguilements--The famous epitaph.

On a house in the Piazza S. Felice, obliquely facing the Pitti, with
windows both in the Via Maggio and Via Mazzetta, is a tablet, placed
there by grateful Florence, stating that it was the home of Robert
and of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and that her verse made a golden
ring to link England to Italy. In other words, this is Casa Guidi.

A third member of the family, Flush the spaniel, was also with them,
and they moved here in 1848, and it was here that Mrs. Browning
died, in 1861. But it was not their first Florentine home, for in
1847 they had gone into rooms in the Via delle Belle Donne--the
Street of Beautiful Ladies--whose name so fascinated Ruskin, near
S. Maria Novella. At Casa Guidi Browning wrote, among other poems,
"Christinas Eve and Easter Day," "The Statue and the Bust" of which I
have said something in chapter XIX, and the "Old Pictures in Florence,"
that philosophic commentary on Vasari, which ends with the spirited
appeal for the crowning of Giotto's Campanile with the addition of
the golden spire that its builder intended--


    Fine as the beak of a young beccaccia
      The campanile, the Duomo's fit ally,
    Shall soar up in gold full fifty braccia,
      Completing Florence, as Florence Italy.


But I suppose that the monologues "Andrea del Sarto" and "Fra Lippo
Lippi" would be considered the finest fruit of Browning's Florentine
sojourn, as "Casa Guidi Windows" is of Mrs. Browning's. Her great poem
is indeed as passionate a plea for Italian liberty as anything by an
Italian poet. Here also she wrote much if not all of "Aurora Leigh,"
"The Poems before Congress," and those other Italian political pieces
which when her husband collected them as "Last Poems" he dedicated
"to 'grateful Florence'".

In these Casa Guidi rooms the happiest days of both lives were
spent, and many a time have the walls resounded to the great voice,
laughing, praising or condemning, of Walter Savage Landor; while the
shy Hawthorne has talked here too. Casa Guidi lodged not only the
Brownings, but, at one time, Lowell, who was not, however, a very
good Florentine. "As for pictures," I find him writing, in 1874,
on a later visit, "I am tired to death of 'em,... and then most of
them are so bad. I like best the earlier ones, that say so much in
their half-unconscious prattle, and talk nature to me instead of
high art." But "the older streets," he says, "have a noble mediaeval
distance and reserve for me--a frown I was going to call it, not
of hostility, but of haughty doubt. These grim palace fronts meet
you with an aristocratic start that puts you to the proof of your
credentials. There is to me something wholesome in that that makes
you feel your place."

The Brownings are the two English poets who first spring to mind
in connexion with Florence; but they had had very illustrious
predecessors. In August and September, 1638, during the reign
of Ferdinand II, John Milton was here, and again in the spring of
1639. He read Latin poems to fellow-scholars in the city and received
complimentary sonnets in reply. Here he met Galileo, and from here
he made the excursion to Vallombrosa which gave him some of his most
famous lines. He also learned enough of the language to write love
poetry to a lady in Bologna, although he is said to have offended
Italians generally by his strict morality.

Skipping a hundred and eighty years we find Shelley in Florence,
in 1819, and it was here that his son was born, receiving the names
Percy Florence. Here he wrote, as I have said, his "Ode to the West
Wind" and that grimly comic work "Peter Bell the Third".

But next the Brownings it is Walter Savage Landor of whom I always
think as the greatest English Florentine. Florence became his second
home when he was middle-aged and strong; and then again, when he was
a very old man, shipwrecked by his impulsive and impossible temper,
it became his last haven. It was Browning who found him his final
resting-place--a floor of rooms not far from where we now stand,
in the Via Nunziatina.

Florence is so intimately associated with Landor, and Landor was
so happy in Florence, that a brief outline of his life seems to
be imperative. Born in 1775, the heir to considerable estates,
the boy soon developed that whirlwind headstrong impatience which
was to make him as notorious as his exquisite genius has made him
famous. He was sent to Rugby, but disapproving of the headmaster's
judgment of his Latin verses, he produced such a lampoon upon him,
also in Latin, as made removal or expulsion a necessity. At Oxford
his Latin and Greek verses were still his delight, but he took
also to politics, was called a mad Jacobin, and, in order to prove
his sanity and show his disapproval of a person obnoxious to him,
fired a gun at his shutters and was sent down for a year. He never
returned. After a period of strained relations with his father
and hot repudiations of all the plans for his future which were
made for him--such as entering the militia, reading law, and so
forth--he retired to Wales on a small allowance and wrote "Gebir"
which came out in 1798, when its author was twenty-three. In 1808
Landor threw in his lot with the Spaniards against the French, saw
some fighting and opened his purse for the victims of the war; but
the usual personal quarrel intervened. Returning to England he bought
Llanthony Abbey, stocked it with Spanish sheep, planted extensively,
and was to be the squire of squires; and at the same time seeing a
pretty penniless girl at a ball in Bath, he made a bet he would marry
her, and won it. As a squire he became quickly involved with neighbours
(an inevitable proceeding with him) and also with a Bishop concerning
the restoration of the church. Lawsuits followed, and such expenses
and vexations occurred that Landor decided to leave England--always
a popular resource with his kind. His mother took over the estate
and allowed him an income upon which he travelled from place to
place for a few years, quarrelling with his wife and making it up,
writing Latin verses everywhere and on everything, and coming into
collision not only with individuals but with municipalities.

He settled in Florence in 1821, finding rooms in the Palazzo Medici,
or, rather, Riccardi. There he remained for five years, which no doubt
would have been a longer period had he not accused his landlord,
the Marquis, who was then the head of the family, of seducing away
his coachman. Landor wrote stating the charge; the Marquis, calling
in reply, entered the room with his hat on, and Landor first knocked
it off and then gave notice. It was at the Palazzo Medici that Landor
was visited by Hazlitt in 1825, and here also he began the "Imaginary
Conversations," his best-known work, although it is of course such
brief and faultless lyrics as "Rose Aylmer" and "To Ianthe" that have
given him his widest public.

On leaving the Palazzo, Landor acquired the Villa Gherardesca, on
the hill-side below Fiesole, and a very beautiful little estate in
which the stream Affrico rises.

Crabb Robinson, the friend of so many men of genius, who was in
Florence in 1880, in rooms at 1341 Via della Nuova Vigna, met Landor
frequently at his villa and has left his impressions. Landor had
made up his mind to live and die in Italy, but hated the Italians. He
would rather, he said, follow his daughter to the grave than to her
wedding with an Italian husband. Talking on art, he said he preferred
John of Bologna to Michelangelo, a statement he repeated to Emerson,
but afterwards, I believe, recanted. He said also to Robinson that
he would not give 1000 Pounds for Raphael's "Transfiguration," but
ten times that sum for Fra Bartolommeo's picture of S. Mark in the
Pitti. Next to Raphael and Fra Bartolommeo he loved Perugino.

Landor soon became quite the husbandman. Writing to his sisters in
1831, he says: "I have planted 200 cypresses, 600 vines, 400 roses,
200 arbutuses, and 70 bays, besides laurustinas, etc., etc., and
60 fruit trees of the best qualities from France. I have not had
a moment's illness since I resided here, nor have the children. My
wife runs after colds; it would be strange if she did not take them;
but she has taken none here; hers are all from Florence. I have the
best water, the best air, and the best oil in the world. They speak
highly of the wine too; but here I doubt. In fact, I hate wine,
unless hock or claret....

"Italy is a fine climate, but Swansea better. That however is the
only spot in Great Britain where we have warmth without wet. Still,
Italy is the country I would live in.... In two [years] I hope to
have a hundred good peaches every day at table during two months:
at present I have had as many bad ones. My land is said to produce
the best figs in Tuscany; I have usually six or seven bushels of them."

I have walked through Lander's little paradise--now called the Villa
Landor and reached by the narrow rugged road to the right just below
the village of S. Domenico. Its cypresses, planted, as I imagine,
by Lander's own hand, are stately as minarets and its lawn is as
green and soft as that of an Oxford college. The orchard, in April,
was a mass of blossom. Thrushes sang in the evergreens and the first
swallow of the year darted through the cypresses just as we reached
the gates. It is truly a poet's house and garden.

In 1833 a French neighbour accused Landor of robbing him of water by
stopping an underground stream, and Landor naturally challenged him to
a duel. The meeting was avoided through the tact of Lander's second,
the English consul at Florence, and the two men became friends. At his
villa Landor wrote much of his best prose--the "Pentameron," "Pericles
and Aspasia" and the "Trial of Shakespeare for Deer-stealing "--and he
was in the main happy, having so much planting and harvesting to do,
his children to play with, and now and then a visitor. In the main
too he managed very well with the country people, but one day was
amused to overhear a conversation over the hedge between two passing
contadini. "All the English are mad," said one, "but as for this
one...!" There was a story of Landor current in Florence in those
days which depicted him, furious with a spoiled dish, throwing his
cook out of the window, and then, realizing where he would fall,
exclaiming in an agony, "Good God, I forgot the violets!"

Such was Landor's impossible way on occasion that he succeeded in
getting himself exiled from Tuscany; but the Grand Duke was called in
as pacificator, and, though the order of expulsion was not rescinded,
it was not carried out.

In 1835 Landor wrote some verses to his friend Ablett, who had lent
him the money to buy the villa, professing himself wholly happy--


    Thou knowest how, and why, are dear to me
    My citron groves of Fiesole,
    My chirping Affrico, my beechwood nook,
    My Naiads, with feet only in the brook,
    Which runs away and giggles in their faces;
    Yet there they sit, nor sigh for other places--


but later in the year came a serious break. Landor's relations with
Mrs. Landor, never of such a nature as to give any sense of security,
had grown steadily worse as he became more explosive, and they now
reached such a point that he flung out of the house one day and did
not return for many years, completing the action by a poem in which
he took a final (as he thought) farewell of Italy:--


    I leave thee, beauteous Italy! No more
    From the high terraces, at even-tide,
    To look supine into thy depths of sky,
    The golden moon between the cliff and me,
    Or thy dark spires of fretted cypresses
    Bordering the channel of the milky way.
    Fiesole and Valdarno must be dreams,
    Hereafter, and my own lost Affrico
    Murmur to me but the poet's song.


Landor gave his son Arnold the villa, settling a sum on his wife
for the other children's maintenance, and himself returned to Bath,
where he added to his friends Sir William Napier (who first found
a resemblance to a lion in Landor's features), John Forster, who
afterwards wrote his life, and Charles Dickens, who named a child
after him and touched off his merrier turbulent side most charmingly
as Leonard Boythom in "Bleak House". But his most constant companion
was a Pomeranian dog; in dogs indeed he found comfort all his life,
right to the end.

Landor's love of his villa and estate finds expression again and again
in his verse written at this time. The most charming of all these
charming poems--the perfection of the light verse of a serious poet--is
the letter from England to his youngest boy, speculating on his
Italian pursuits. I begin at the passage describing the villa's cat:--


          Does Cincirillo follow thee about,
    Inverting one swart foot suspensively,
    And wagging his dread jaw at every chirp
    Of bird above him on the olive-branch?
    Frighten him then away! 'twas he who slew
    Our pigeons, our white pigeons peacock-tailed,
    That feared not you and me--alas, nor him!
    I flattened his striped sides along my knee,
    And reasoned with him on his bloody mind,
    Till he looked blandly, and half-closed his eyes
    To ponder on my lecture in the shade.
    I doubt his memory much, his heart a little,
    And in some minor matters (may I say it?)
    Could wish him rather sager. But from thee
    God hold back wisdom yet for many years!
    Whether in early season or in late
    It always comes high-priced. For thy pure breast
    I have no lesson; it for me has many.
    Come throw it open then!  What sports, what cares
    (Since there are none too young for these) engage
    Thy busy thoughts? Are you again at work,
    Walter and you, with those sly labourers,
    Geppo, Giovanni, Cecco, and Poeta,
    To build more solidly your broken dam
    Among the poplars, whence the nightingale
    Inquisitively watch'd you all day long?
    I was not of your council in the scheme,
    Or might have saved you silver without end,
    And sighs too without number. Art thou gone
    Below the mulberry, where that cold pool
    Urged to devise a warmer, and more fit
    For mighty swimmers, swimming three abreast?
    Or art though panting in this summer noon
    Upon the lowest step before the hall,
    Drawing a slice of watermelon, long
    As Cupid's bow, athwart thy wetted lips
    (Like one who plays Pan's pipe), and letting drop
    The sable seeds from all their separate cells,
    And leaving bays profound and rocks abrupt,
    Redder than coral round Calypso's cave?


In 1853 Landor put forth what he thought his last book, under the title
"Last Fruit off an Old Tree". Unhappily it was not his last, for in
1858 he issued yet one more, "Dry Sticks faggotted by W. S. Landor,"
in which was a malicious copy of verses reflecting upon a lady. He
was sued for libel, lost the case with heavy damages, and once
more and for the last time left England for Florence. He was now
eighty-three. At first he went to the Villa Gherardesco, then the
home of his son Arnold, but his outbursts were unbearable, and three
times he broke away, to be three times brought back. In July, 1859,
he made a fourth escape, and then escaped altogether, for Browning
took the matter in hand and established him, after a period in Siena,
in lodgings in the Via Nunziatina. From this time till his death in
1864 Landor may be said at last to have been at rest. He had found
safe anchorage and never left it. Many friends came to see him, chief
among them Browning, who was at once his adviser, his admirer and his
shrewd observer. Landor, always devoted to pictures, but without much
judgment, now added to his collection; Browning in one of his letters
to Forster tells how he has found him "particularly delighted by the
acquisition of three execrable daubs by Domenichino and Gaspar Poussin
most benevolently battered by time". Another friend says that he had
a habit of attributing all his doubtful pictures to Corregoio. "He
cannot," Browning continues, "in the least understand that he is at
all wrong, or injudicious, or unfortunate in anything.... Whatever
he may profess, the thing he really loves is a pretty girl to talk
nonsense with."

Of the old man in the company of fair listeners we have glimpses
in the reminiscences of Mrs. Fields in the "Atlantic Monthly" in
1866. She also describes him as in a cloud of pictures. There with
his Pomeranian Giallo within fondling distance, the poet, seated in
his arm-chair, fired comments upon everything. Giallo's opinion was
asked on all subjects, and Landor said of him that an approving wag
of his tail was worth all the praise of all the "Quarterlies ". It
was Giallo who led to the profound couplet--


    He is foolish who supposes
    Dogs are ill that have hot noses.


Mrs. Fields tells how, after some classical or fashionable music had
been played, Landor would come closer to the piano and ask for an
old English ballad, and when "Auld Robin Gray," his favourite of all,
was sung, the tears would stream down his face. "Ah, you don't know
what thoughts you are recalling to the troublesome old man."

But we have Browning's word that he did not spend much time in remorse
or regret, while there was the composition of the pretty little tender
epigrams of this last period to amuse him and Italian politics to
enchain his sympathy. His impulsive generosity led him to give his old
and trusted watch to the funds for Garibaldi's Sicilian expedition;
but Browning persuaded him to take it again. For Garibaldi's wounded
prisoners he wrote an Italian dialogue between Savonarola and the
Prior of S. Marco. The death of Mrs. Browning in 1861 sent Browning
back to England, and Landor after that was less cheerful and rarely
left the house. His chief solace was the novels of Anthony Trollope
and G.P.R. James. In his last year he received a visit from a young
English poet and enthusiast for poetry, one Algernon Charles Swinburne,
who arrived in time to have a little glowing talk with the old lion and
thus obtain inspiration for some fine memorial stanzas. On September
17th, 1864, Death found Landor ready--as nine years earlier he had
promised it should--


To my ninth decade I have totter'd on,
  And no soft arm bends now my steps to steady;
She who once led me where she would, is gone,
  So when he calls me, Death shall find me ready.


Landor was buried, as we saw, in the English cemetery within the city,
whither his son Arnold was borne less than seven years later. Here is
his own epitaph, one of the most perfect things in form and substance
in the English language:--


I strove with none, for none was worth my strife,
  Nature I loved, and next to Nature, Art;
I warmed both hands before the fire of life,
  It sinks, and I am ready to depart.


It should be cut on his tombstone.



CHAPTER XXV

The Carmine and San Miniato

The human form divine and waxen--Galileo--Bianca Capella--A
faithful Grand Duke--S. Spirito--The Carmine--Masaccio's place
in art--Leonardo's summary--The S. Peter frescoes--The Pitti
side--Romola--A little country walk--The ancient wall--The Piazzale
Michelangelo--An evening prospect--S. Miniato--Antonio Rossellino's
masterpiece--The story of S. Gualberto--A city of the dead--The
reluctant departure.

The Via Maggio is now our way, but first there is a museum which
I think should be visited, if only because it gave Dickens so much
pleasure when he was here--the Museo di Storia Naturale, which is
open three days a week only and is always free. Many visitors to
Florence never even hear of it and one quickly finds that its chief
frequenters are the poor. All the better for that. Here not only is
the whole animal kingdom spread out before the eye in crowded cases,
but the most wonderful collection of wax reproductions of the human
form is to be seen. These anatomical models are so numerous and so
exact that, since the human body does not change with the times,
a medical student could learn everything from them in the most
gentlemanly way possible. But they need a strong stomach. Mine,
I confess, quailed before the end.

The hero of the Museum is Galileo, whose tomb at S. Croce we have seen:
here are preserved certain of his instruments in a modern, floridly
decorated Tribuna named after him. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) belongs
rather to Pisa, where he was born and where he found the Leaning Tower
useful for experiments, and to Rome, where in 1611 he demonstrated
his discovery of the telescope; but Florence is proud of him and it
was here that he died, under circumstances tragic for an astronomer,
for he had become totally blind.

The frescoes in the Tribuna celebrate other Italian scientific
triumphs, and in the cases are historic telescopes, astrolabes,
binoculars, and other mysteries.

The Via Maggio, which runs from Casa Guidi to the Ponte Trinita, and
at noon is always full of school-girls, brings us by way of the Via
Michelozzo to S. Spirito, but by continuing in it we pass a house of
great interest, now No. 26, where once lived the famous Bianca Capella,
that beautiful and magnetic Venetian whom some hold to have been so
vile and others so much the victim of fate. Bianca Capella was born in
1543, when Francis I, Cosimo I's eldest son, afterwards to play such a
part in her life, was two years of age. While he was being brought up
in Florence, Bianca was gaining loveliness in her father's palace. When
she was seventeen she fell in love with a young Florentine engaged
in a bank in Venice, and they were secretly married. Her family
were outraged by the mésalliance and the young couple had to flee
to Florence, where they lived in poverty and hiding, a prize of 2000
ducats being offered by the Capella family to anyone who would kill
the husband; while, by way of showing how much in earnest they were,
they had his uncle thrown into prison, where he died.

One day the unhappy Bianca was sitting at her window when the young
prince Francis was passing: he looked up, saw her, and was enslaved on
the spot. (The portraits of Bianca do not, I must admit, lay emphasis
on this story. Titian's I have not seen; but there is one by Bronzino
in our National Gallery--No. 650--and many in Florence.) There was,
however, something in Bianca's face to which Francis fell a victim, and
he brought about a speedy meeting. At first Bianca repulsed him; but
when she found that her husband was unworthy of her, she returned the
Prince's affection. (I am telling her story from the pro-Bianca point
of view: there are plenty of narrators on the other side.) Meanwhile,
Francis's official life going on, he married that archduchess Joanna
of Austria for whom the Austrian frescoes in the Palazzo Vecchio were
painted; but his heart remained Bianca's and he was more at her house
than in his own. At last, Bianca's husband being killed in some fray,
she was free from the persecution of her family and ready to occupy
the palace which Francis hastened to build for her, here, in the Via
Maggio, now cut up into tenements at a few lire a week. The attachment
continued unabated when Francis came to the throne, and upon the death
of his archduchess in 1578 Bianca and he were almost immediately,
but privately, married, she being then thirty-five; and in the next
year they were publicly married in the church of S. Lorenzo with every
circumstance of pomp; while later in the same year Bianca was crowned.

Francis remained her lover till his death, which was both dramatic
and suspicious, husband and wife dying within a few hours of each
other at the Medici villa of Poggia a Caiano in 1587. Historians
have not hesitated to suggest that Francis was poisoned by his wife;
but there is no proof. It is indeed quite possible that her life
was more free of intrigue, ambition and falsehood, than that of any
one about the court at that time; but the Florentines, encouraged by
Francis's brother Ferdinand I, who succeeded him, made up their minds
that she was a witch, and few things in the way of disaster happened
that were not laid to her charge. Call a woman a witch and everything
is possible. Ferdinand not only detested Bianca in life and deplored
her fascination for his brother, but when she died he refused to allow
her to be buried with the others of the family; hence the Chapel of
the Princes at S. Lorenzo lacks one archduchess. Her grave is unknown.

The whole truth we shall never know; but it is as easy to think of
Bianca as a harmless woman who both lost and gained through love as
to picture her as sinister and scheming. At any rate we know that
Francis was devoted to her with a fidelity and persistence for which
Grand Dukes have not always been conspicuous.

S. Spirito is one of Brunelleschi's solidest works. Within it resembles
the city of Bologna in its vistas of brown and white arches. The
effect is severe and splendid; but the church is to be taken rather
as architecture than a treasury of art, for although each of its
eight and thirty chapels has an altar picture and several have fine
pieces of sculpture--one a copy of Michelangelo's famous Pieta in
Rome--there is nothing of the highest value. It was in this church
that I was asked alms by one of the best-dressed men in Florence;
but the Florentine beggars are not importunate: they ask, receive or
are denied, and that is the end of it.

The other great church in the Pitti quarter is the Carmine, and here
we are on very sacred ground in art--for it was here, as I have had
occasion to say more than once in this book, that Masaccio painted
those early frescoes which by their innovating boldness turned the
Brancacci chapel into an Academy. For all the artists came to study
and copy them: among others Michelangelo, whose nose was broken by
the turbulent Torrigiano, a fellow-student, under this very roof.

Tommaso di Ser Giovanni, or Masaccio, the son of a notary, was born
in 1402. His master is not known, but Tommaso Fini or Masolino,
born in 1383, is often named. Vasari states that as a youth Masaccio
helped Ghiberti with his first Baptistery doors; and if so, the fact
is significant. But all that is really known of his early life is
that he went to Rome to paint a chapel in S. Clemente. He returned,
apparently on hearing that his patron Giovanni de' Medici was in
power again. Another friend, Brunelleschi, having built the church
of S. Spirito in 1422, Masaccio began to work there in 1423, when he
was only twenty-one.

Masaccio's peculiar value in the history of painting is his early
combined power of applying the laws of perspective and representing
human beings "in the round". Giotto was the first and greatest
innovator in painting--the father of real painting; Masaccio was the
second. If from Giotto's influence a stream of vigour had flowed such
as flowed from Masaccio's, there would have been nothing special to
note about Masaccio at all. But the impulse which Giotto gave to art
died down; some one had to reinvigorate it, and that some one was
Masaccio. In his remarks on painting, Leonardo da Vinci sums up the
achievements of the two. They stood out, he says, from the others
of their time, by reason of their wish to go to life rather than to
pictures. Giotto went to life, his followers went to pictures; and
the result was a decline in art until Masaccio, who again went to life.

From the Carmine frescoes came the new painting. It is not that walls
henceforth were covered more beautifully or suitably than they had
been by Giotto's followers; probably less suitably very often; but
that religious symbolism without much relation to actual life gave
way to scenes which might credibly have occurred, where men, women
and saints walked and talked much as we do, in similar surroundings,
with backgrounds of cities that could be lived in and windows that
could open. It was this revolution that Masaccio performed. No doubt
if he had not, another would, for it had to come: the new demand was
that religion should be reconciled with life.

It is generally supposed that Masaccio had Masolino as his ally in
this wonderful series; and a vast amount of ink has been spilt over
Masolino's contributions. Indeed the literature of expert art criticism
on Florentine pictures alone is of alarming bulk and astonishing in
its affirmations and denials. The untutored visitor in the presence
of so much scientific variance will be wise to enact the part of
the lawyer in the old caricature of the litigants and the cow, who,
while they pull, one at the head and the other at the tail, fills
his bucket with milk. In other words, the plain duty of the ordinary
person is to enjoy the picture.

Without any special knowledge of art one can, by remembering the
early date of these frescoes, realize what excitement they must have
caused in the studios and how tongues must have clacked in the Old
Market. We have but to send our thoughts to the Spanish chapel at
S. Maria Novella to realize the technical advance. Masaccio, we see,
was peopling a visible world; the Spanish chapel painters were merely
allegorizing, as agents of holiness. The Ghirlandaio choir in the same
church would yield a similar comparison; but what we have to remember
is that Ghirlandaio painted these frescoes in 1490, sixty-two years
after Masaccio's death, and Masaccio showed him how.

It is a pity that the light is so poor and that the frescoes have
not worn better; but their force and dramatic vigour remain beyond
doubt. The upper scene on the left of the altar is very powerful: the
Roman tax collector has asked Christ for a tribute and Christ bids
Peter find the money in the mouth of a fish. Figures, architecture,
landscape, all are in right relation; and the drama is moving, without
restlessness. This and the S. Peter preaching and distributing alms
are perhaps the best, but the most popular undoubtedly is that below
it, finished many years after by Filippino Lippi (although there are
experts to question this and even substitute his amorous father), in
which S. Peter, challenged by Simon Magus, resuscitates a dead boy,
just as S. Zenobius used to do in the streets of this city. Certain
more modern touches, such as the exquisite Filippino would naturally
have thought of, may be seen here: the little girl behind the boy,
for instance, who recalls the children in that fresco by the same
hand at S. Maria Novella in which S. John resuscitates Drusiana. In
this Carmine fresco are many portraits of Filippino's contemporaries,
including Botticelli, just as in the scene of the consecration of
the Carmine which Masaccio painted in the cloisters, but which has
almost perished, he introduced Brancacci, his employer, Brunelleschi,
Donatello, some of whose innovating work in stone he was doing in
paint, Giovanni de' Medici and Masolino. The scanty remains of this
fresco tell us that it must have been fine indeed.

Masaccio died at the early age of twenty-six, having suddenly
disappeared from Florence, leaving certain work unfinished. A strange
portentous meteor in art.

The Pitti side of the river is less interesting than the other,
but it has some very fascinating old and narrow streets, although
they are less comfortable for foreigners to wander in than those,
for example, about the Borgo SS. Apostoli. They are far dirtier.

From the Pitti end of the Ponte Vecchio one can obtain a most charming
walk. Turn to the left as you leave the bridge, under the arch made by
Cosimo's passage, and you are in the Via de' Bardi, the backs of whose
houses on the river-side are so beautiful from the Uffizi's central
arches, as Mr. Morley's picture shows. At the end of the street is
an archway under a large house. Go through this, and you are at the
foot of a steep, stone hill. It is really steep, but never mind. Take
it easily, and rest half-way where the houses on the left break and
give a wonderful view of the city. Still climbing, you come to the
best gate of all that is left--a true gate in being an inlet into a
fortified city--that of S. Giorgio, high on the Boboli hill by the
fort. The S. Giorgio gate has a S. George killing a dragon, in stone,
on its outside, and the saint painted within, Donatello's conception
of him being followed by the artist. Parsing through, you are in the
country. The fort and gardens are on one side and villas on the other;
and a great hill-side is in front, covered with crops. Do not go on,
but turn sharp to the left and follow the splendid city wall, behind
which for a long way is the garden of the Villa Karolath, one of the
choicest spots in Florence, occasionally tossing its branches over the
top. This wall is immense all the way down to the Porta S. Miniato,
and two of the old towers are still standing in their places upon
it. Botticini's National Gallery picture tells exactly how they looked
in their heyday. Ivy hangs over, grass and flowers spring from the
ancient stones, and lizards run about. Underneath are olive-trees.

It was, by the way, in the Via de' Bardi that George Eliot's
Romola lived, for she was of the Bardi family. The story, it may be
remembered, begins on the morning of Lorenzo the Magnificent's death,
and ends after the execution of Savonarola. It is not an inspired
romance, and is remarkable almost equally for its psychological
omissions and the convenience of its coincidences, but it is an
excellent preparation for a first visit in youth to S. Marco and the
Palazzo Vecchio, while the presence in its somewhat naive pages of
certain Florentine characters makes it agreeable to those who know
something of the city and its history. The painter Piero di Cosimo,
for example, is here, straight from Vasari; so also are Cronaca, the
architect, Savonarola, Capparo, the ironsmith, and even Machiavelli;
while Bernardo del Nero, the gonfalonier, whose death sentence
Savonarola refused to revise, was Romola's godfather.

The Via Guicciardini, which runs from the foot of the Via de' Bardi
to the Pitti, is one of the narrowest and busiest Florentine streets,
with an undue proportion of fruit shops overflowing to the pavement
to give it gay colouring. At No. 24 is a stable with pillars and
arches that would hold up a pyramid. But this is no better than most
of the old stables of Florence, which are all solid vaulted caverns
of immense size and strength.

From the Porta Romana one may do many things--take the tram,
for example, for the Certosa of the Val d'Ema, which is only some
twenty minutes distant, or make a longer journey to Impruneta, where
the della Robbias are. But just now let us walk or ride up the long
winding Viale Macchiavelli, which curves among the villas behind the
Boboli Gardens, to the Piazzale Michelangelo and S. Miniato.

The Piazzale Michelangelo is one of the few modern tributes of Florence
to her illustrious makers. The Dante memorial opposite S. Croce is
another, together with the preservation of certain buildings with
Dante associations in the heart of the city; but, as I have said more
than once, there is no piazza in Florence, and only one new street,
named after a Medici. From the Piazzale Michelangelo you not only
have a fine panoramic view of the city of this great man--in its
principal features not so vastly different from the Florence of his
day, although of course larger and with certain modern additions,
such as factory chimneys, railway lines, and so forth--but you can see
the remains of the fortifications which he constructed in 1529, and
which kept the Imperial troops at bay for nearly a year. Just across
the river rises S. Croce, where the great man is buried, and beyond,
over the red roofs, the dome of the Medici chapel at S. Lorenzo shows
us the position of the Biblioteca Laurenziana and the New Sacristy,
both built by him. Immediately below us is the church of S. Niccolo,
where he is said to have hidden in 1529, when there was a hue and
cry for him. In the middle of this spacious plateau is a bronze
reproduction of his David, and it is good to see it, from the cafe
behind it, rising head and shoulders above the highest Apennines.

S. Miniato, the church on the hill-top above the Piazzale Michelangelo,
deserves many visits. One may not be too greatly attached to marble
façades, but this little temple defeats all prejudices by its radiance
and perfection, and to its extraordinary charm its situation adds. It
crowns the hill, and in the late afternoon--the ideal time to visit
it--is full in the eye of the sun, bathed in whose light the green
and white façade, with miracles of delicate intarsia, is balm to the
eyes instead of being, as marble so often is, dazzling and cold.

On the way up we pass the fine church of S. Salvatore, which Cronaca
of the Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Strozzi built and Michelangelo
admired, and which is now secularized, and pass through the gateway of
Michelangelo's upper fortifications. S. Miniato is one of the oldest
churches of Florence, some of it eleventh century. It has its name
from Minias, a Roman soldier who suffered martyrdom at Florence under
Decius. Within, one does not feel quite to be in a Christian church,
the effect partly of the unusual colouring, all grey, green, and gold
and soft light tints as of birds' bosoms; partly of the ceiling,
which has the bright hues of a Russian toy; partly of the forest
of great gay columns; partly of the lovely and so richly decorated
marble screen; and partly of the absence of a transept. The prevailing
feeling indeed is gentle gaiety; and in the crypt this is intensified,
for it is just a joyful assemblage of dancing arches.

The church as a whole is beautiful and memorable enough; but
its details are wonderful too, from the niello pavement, and
the translucent marble windows of the apse, to the famous tomb of
Cardinal Jacopo of Portugal, and the Luca della Robbia reliefs of the
Virtues. This tomb is by Antonio Rossellino. It is not quite of the
rank of Mino's in the Badia; but it is a noble and beautiful thing
marked in every inch of it by modest and exquisite thought. Vasari
says of Antonio that he "practised his art with such grace that
he was valued as something more than a man by those who knew him,
who well-nigh adored him as a saint". Facing it is a delightful
Annunciation by Alessio Baldovinetti, in which the angel declares the
news from a far greater distance than we are accustomed to; and the
ceiling is made an abode of gladness by the blue and white figures
(designed by Luca della Robbia) of Prudence and Chastity, Moderation
and Fortitude, for all of which qualities, it seems, the Cardinal was
famous. In short, one cannot be too glad that, since he had to die,
death's dart struck down this Portuguese prelate while he was in
Rossellino's and Luca's city.

No longer is preserved here the miraculous crucifix which, standing
in a little chapel in the wood on this spot, bestowed blessing and
pardon--by bending towards him--upon S. Giovanni Gualberto, the founder
of the Vallombrosan order. The crucifix is now in S. Trinita. The saint
was born in 985 of noble stock and assumed naturally the splendour and
arrogance of his kind. His brother Hugo being murdered in some affray,
Giovanni took upon himself the duty of avenging the crime. One Good
Friday he chanced to meet, near this place, the assassin, in so narrow
a passage as to preclude any chance of escape; and he was about to kill
him when the man fell on his knees and implored mercy by the passion of
Christ Who suffered on that very day, adding that Christ had prayed on
the cross for His own murderers. Giovanni was so much impressed that he
not only forgave the man but offered him his friendship. Entering then
the chapel to pray and ask forgiveness of all his sins, he was amazed
to see the crucifix bend down as though acquiescing and blessing, and
this special mark of favour so wrought upon him that he became a monk,
himself shaving his head for that purpose and defying his father's
rage, and subsequently founded the Vallombrosan order. He died in 1073.

I have said something of the S. Croce habit and the S. Maria Novella
habit; but I think that when all is said the S. Miniato habit is
the most important to acquire. There is nothing else like it; and
the sense of height is so invigorating too. At all times of the year
it is beautiful; but perhaps best in early spring, when the highest
mountains still have snow upon them and the neighbouring slopes are
covered with tender green and white fruit blossom, and here the violet
wistaria blooms and there the sombre crimson of the Judas-tree.

Behind and beside the church is a crowded city of the Florentine
dead, reproducing to some extent the city of the Florentine living,
in its closely packed habitations--the detached palaces for the rich
and the great congeries of cells for the poor--more of which are
being built all the time. There is a certain melancholy interest in
wandering through these silent streets, peering through the windows
and recognizing over the vaults names famous in Florence. One learns
quickly how bad modern mortuary architecture and sculpture can be,
but I noticed one monument with some sincerity and unaffected grace:
that to a charitable Marchesa, a friend of the poor, at the foot of
whose pedestal are a girl and baby done simply and well.

Better perhaps to remain on the highest point and look at the
city beneath. One should try to be there before sunset and watch
the Apennines turning to a deeper and deeper indigo and the city
growing dimmer and dimmer in the dusk. Florence is beautiful from
every point of vantage, but from none more beautiful than from this
eminence. As one reluctantly leaves the church and passes again
through Michelangelo's fortification gateway to descend, one has,
framed in its portal, a final lovely Apennine scene.



Historical Chart of Florence and Europe, 1296-1564


Artists' Dates.

1300 (c.)           Taddeo Gaddi born (d. 1366)
1302 (c.)           Cimabue died (b. c. 1240)
1308 (c.)           Andrea Orcagna born (d. 1368)
1310                Arnolfo di Cambio died (b. 1232 ?)
1333                Spinello Aretino born (d. 1410)
1336                Giotto died (b. 1276 ?)
1344                Simone Martini died (b. 1283)
1348                Andrea Pisano died (b. 1270)
1356                Lippo Memmi died
1366                Taddeo Gaddi died (b. c. 1300)
1368                Andrea Orcagna died
1370 (c.)           Lorenzo Monaco born (d. 1425)
                    Gentile da Fabriano born
                    (d. 1450)
1371                Jacopo della Quercia born (d. 1438)
1377                Filippo Brunelleschi born (d. 1446)
1378                Lorenzo Ghiberti born (d. 1455)
1386 (?)            Donatello born (d. 1466)
1387                Fra Angelico born (d. 1455)
1391                Michelozzo born (d. 1472)
1396 (?)            Andrea del Castagno born (d. 1457)
1397                Paolo Uccello born (d. 1475)
1399 or 1400        Luca della Robbia born (d. 1482)
1401 or 1402        Masaccio born (d. 1428?)
1405                Leon Battista Alberti born (d. 1472)
1406                Lippo Lippi born (d. 1469)
1409                Bernardo Rossellino born (d. 1464)
1410                Spinello Aretino died
1415                Piero della Francesca born (d. 1492)
1420                Benozzo Gozzoli born (d. 1498)
1425                Il Monaco died
                    Alessio Baldovinetti born
                    (d. 1499)
1427                Antonio Rossellino born (d. 1478)
1428 (?)            Masaccio died
1428                Desiderio  da Settignano born (d. 1464)
1429 (?)            Giovanni Bellini born (d. 1516)
                    Antonio Pollaiuolo born
                    (d. 1498)
1430                Cosimo Tura died
1431                Andrea Mantegna born (d. 1506)
1432 (?)            Mina da Fiesole born (d. 1484)
1435                Andrea Verrocchio born (d. 1488)
                    Andrea della Robbia born
                    (d. 1525)
1438                Melozzo da Forli born (d. 1494)
1439                Cosimo Rosselli born (d. 1507)
1441                Luca Signorelli born (d. 1523)
1442                Benedetto da Maiano born (d. 1497)
1444                Sandro Botticelli born (d. 1510)
1446                Brunelleschi died
                    Perugino born (d. 1523 or 24)
                    Francesco Botticini born
                    (d. 1498)
1449                Domenico Ghirlandaio born (d. 1494)
1450                Gentile da Fabriano died
1452                Leonardi da Vinci born (d. 1519)
1455                Ghiberti died
                    Fra Angelico died
1456                Lorenzo di Credi born (d. 1537)
1457                Cronaca born (d. 1508 or 9)
                    Filippino Lippi born (d. 1504)
                    Andrea del Castagno died
1462                Piero di Cosimo born (d. 1521)
1463 or 4           Desiderio da Settignano died
1464                Bernardo Rossellino died
1466                Donatello died
1469                Giovanni della Robbia born (d. 1529)
                    Lippo Lippi died
1472                Michelozzo died
                    Alberti died
1474                Benedetto da Rovezzano born (d. 1556)
                    Rustici born (d. 1554)
                    Mariotto Albertinelli born
                    (d. 1515)
1475                Fra Bartolommeo born (d. 1517)
                    Michelangelo Buonarroti born
                    (d. 1564)
1477                Titian born (d. 1576)
                    Giorgione born (d. 1510)
1478                Antonio Rossellino died
1482                Francia Bigio born (d. 1523)
                    Guicciardini born (d. 1540)
1483                Raphael born (d. 1520)
                    Ridolfo Ghirlandaio born
                    (d. 1561)
1484                Mino da Fiesole died
1485                Sebastiano del Piombo born (d. 1547)
1486                Jacopo Sansovino born (d. 1570)
1486 or 7           Andrea del Sarto born (d. 1531)
1488                Verrocchio died
                    Baccio Bandinelli born
                    (d. 1560)
1492                Piero della Francesco died
1494                Jacopo da Pontormo born (d. 1556)
                    Correggio born (d. 1534)
                    Domenico Ghirlandaio died
                    Melozzo da Forli died
1497                Benedetto da Maiano died
                    Benozzo Gozzoli died
1498                Antonio Pollaiuolo died
                    Francesco Botticini died
1499                Alessio Baldovinetti died
1500                Benvenuto Cellini born (d. 1572)
1502                Angelo Bronzino born (d. 1572)
1504                Filippino Lippi died
1506                Mantegna died
1507                Cosimo Rosselli died
1508                Cronaca died
1510                Botticelli died
                    Giorgione died
1511                Vasari born (d. 1574)
1515                Albertinelli died
1516                Giovanni Bellini died
1517                Fra Bartolommeo died
1518                Tintoretto born (d. 1594)
1519                Leonardo da Vinci died
1520                Raphael died
1521                Piero di Cosimo died
1523                Signorelli died
                    Perugino died
1524                Giovanni da Bologna born (d. 1608)
1525                Andrea della Robbia died
                    Francia Bigio died
1528                Paolo Veronese born (d. 1588)
                    Federigo Baroccio born
                    (d. 1612)
1529                Giovanni della Robbia died
1531                Andrea del Sarto died
1534                Correggio died
1537                Credi died
1547                Sebastiano del Piombo died
1554                Rustici died
1556                Pontormo died
                    Benedetto da Rovezzano died
1560                Baccio Bandinelli died
1561                Ridolfo Ghirlandaio died
1564                Michael Angelo died


Some Important Florentine Dates

1296                Foundations of the Duomo consecrated
1298                Palazzo Vecchio commenced by Arnolfo
                    di Cambio
1300                Beginning of the feuds of  the Bianchi
                    and Xeri
                    Guido Cavalcanti died
1302                Dante exiled, Jan. 27
1304                Petrarch born (d. 1374)
1308                Death of Corso Donati
1312                Siege of Florence by Henry VII
1313                Boccaccio born (d. 1375)
1321                Dante died Sept. 14 (b. 1265)
1333                Destructive floods
1334                Foundations of the Campanile laid
1337                Or San Michele begun
1339                Andrea Pisano's gates finished
1348                Black Death of the Decameron
                    Giovanni Villani died
                    (b. 1275 c.)
1360                Giovanni de' Medici (di Bicci) born
1365 (c)            Ponte Vecchio rebuilt by Taddeo Gaddi
1374                Petrarch died
1375                Boccaccio died
1376                Loggia de' Lanzi commenced
1378                Salvestro de' Medici elected
                    Gonfaloniere
1389                Cosimo de' Medici (Pater Patrise) born
1390                War with Milan
1394                Sir John Hawkwood died
1399                Competition for Baptistery Gates
1416                Piero de' Medici (il Gottoso) born
1421                Purchase of Leghorn by Florence
                    Giovanni de' Medici elected
                    Gonfaloniere
                    Spedale degli Innocenti
                    commenced
1424                Ghiberti's first gate set up
1429                Giovanni de' Medici died
1432                Niccolo da Uzzano died
1433                Marsilio Ficino born
                    Cosimo de' Medici banished,
                    Oct. 3
1434                Cosimo returned to power, Sept. 29
                    Banishment of Albizzi and
                    Strozzi
1435                Francesco Sforza visited Florence
1436                Brunelleschi's dome completed
                    The Duomo consecrated
1439                Council of Florence
                    Gemisthos Plethon in Florence
1440                Cosimo occupied the Medici Palace
1449                Lorenzo de' Medici (the Magnificent
                    born)
1452                Ghiberti's second gates set up
                    Savonarola born
1454                Politian born
1463                Pico della Mirandola born
1464                Cosimo de' Medici died and was
                    succeeded by Piero
1466                Luca Pitti's Conspiracy
1469                Lorenzo's Tournament, Feb.
                    Lorenzo's Marriage to Clarice
                    Orsini, June
                    Death of Piero, Dec.
                    Niccolò Machiavelli born
1471                Piero de' Medici, son of Lorenzo, born
                    Visit of Galeazzo Sforza
                    to Florence
                    Cennini's Press established
                    in Florence
1474                Ariosto born
1475                Giuliano's Tournament
1478                Pazzi Conspiracy
                    Giuliano murdered
1479                Lorenzo's Mission to Naples
1492                Lorenzo the Magnificent died
                    Piero succeeded
1494                Charles VIII invaded Italy
                    Piero banished
                    Charles VIII in Florence. Sack of
                    Medici Palace
                    Florence governed by General Council
                    Savonarola in power
                    Politian died
                    Pico della Mirandola died
1497                Francesco Valori elected Gonfaloniere
                    Piero attempted to return to Florence
1498                Savonarola burnt
1499                Marsilio Ficino died
                    Amerigo Vespucci reached America
1503                Death of Piero di Medici
1512                Cardinal Giovanni and Giuliano, Duke of
                    Nemours, reinstated in Florence
                    Great Council abolished
1519                Cardinal Giulio de' Medici in power
                    Catherine de' Medici born
1524                Ippolito and Alessandro de' Medici in power
1526                Death of Giovanni delle Bande Nere
1527                Ippolito and Alessandro left Florence
1528                Machiavelli died
1529-30             Siege of Florence
1530                Capitulation of Florence
1531                Alessandro de' Medici declared Head of Republic
1537                Cosimo de' Medici made Ruler of Florence
                    Battle of Montemurlo
                    Lorenzino assassinated
                    in Venice
1539                Cosimo married Eleanor di Toledo and moved
                    to Palazzo Vecchio
1553                Cosimo occupied the Pitti Palace
1564                Galileo Galilei born


Popes.

                    Boniface VIII
1303                Benedict XI
1305                Clement V
1316                John XXII
1334                Benedict XII
1337                Boniface VIII
1342                Clement VI
1352                Innocent VI
1362                Urban V
1370                Gregory XI
1378                Urban VI
1389                Boniface IX
1404                Innocent VII
1406                Gregory XII
1409                Alex. V
1410                John XXIII
1417                Martin V
1431                Eugenius IV
1447                Nicolas V
1455                Calixtus III
1458                Pius II
1464                Paul II
1471                Sixtus IV
1484                Innocent VIII
1492                Alex. VI
1503                Pius III
                    Julius II
1513                Leo X
1522                Hadrian VI
1523                Clement VII
1534                Paul III
1550                Julius III
1555                Marcellus II
                    Paul IV
1559                Pius IV


French Kings.

                    Philip IV
1314                Louis X
1316                John I
                    Philip V
1322                Charles IV
1328                Philip VI
                    Philip
1350                John II
1364                Charles V
1380                Charles VI
1422                Charles VII
1461                Louis XI
1483                Charles VIII
1498                Louis XII
1515                Francis I
1547                Henry II
1559                Francis II
1560                Charles IX


English Kings.

                Edward I
1307            Edward II
1327            Edward III
1377            Richard II
1422            Charles VII
1461            Edward IV
1483            Edward V
                Richard III
1485            Henry VII
1509            Henry VIII
1547            Edward VI
1553            Mary
1558            Elizabeth


Milan.

1310            Matteo Visconti
1322            Galeazzo Visconti
1328
1329            Azzo Visconti
1339            Luchino and Giovanni Visconti
1349            Giovanni Visconti
1354            Matteó Bernabò Galeazzo
1378            Gian Galeazzo Visconti
1402            Gian Maria Visconti
1412            Filippo Maria Visconti
1447...1450     Francesco Sforza
1466            Galeazzo Sforza
1476            Gian Galeazzo Sforza (Ludovico Sforza Regent)
1495            Ludovico Sforza
1499            Ludovico exiled


Some Important General Dates

1298            Battle of Falkirk
1306            Coronation of Bruce
1314            Battle of Bannockburn
1324 (?)        John Wyclif born
1337            Froissart born (d. 1410?)
1339            Beginning of the Hundred Years' War
1346            Battle of Crécy
1347            Rienzi made Tribune of Rome
                Edward III took Calais
1348-9          Black Death in England
1348            S. Catherine of Siena born
1356            Battle of Poictiers
1362            First draft of Piers Plowman
1379            Thomas à Kempis born
1381            Wat Tyler's Rebellion
1400            Geoffrey Chaucer died
1414            Council of Constance
1428            Siege of Orléans
1431            Joan of Arc burnt
1435 (c.)       Hans Meinling born
1450            John Gutenburg printed at Mainz
                Jack Cade's Insurrection
1453            Fall of Constantinople
1455            Beginning of the Wars of the Roses
1467            Erasmus born (d. 1528)
1470 (c.)       Mabuse born (d. 1555)
1471            Albert Dürer born (d. 1528)
                Caxton's Press established in
                Westminster
1476            Chevalier Bayard born
1482            Hugo van der Goes died
1483            Rabelais born (d. 1553)
                Martin Luther born
                Murder of the Princes in
                the Tower
1491            Ignatius Loyola born
1492            America discovered by Christopher Columbus
1494            Lucas van Leyden born (d. 1533)
1505            John Knox born (d. 1582)
1509            Calvin born
1516            More's Utopia published
1519            First Voyage round the world
                (Ferd. Magellan)
1519-21         Conquest of Mexico
1520            Field of the Cloth of Gold
1527            Brantôme born (d. 1614)
1528            Albert Dürer died
1531-2          Conquest of Peru
1533            Montaigne born (d. 1592)
1535            Henry VIII became Supreme Head of the Church
1537            Sack of Rome
1544            Torquato Tasso born
1553            Edmund Spenser born
1554            Execution of Lady Jane Grey
                    Sir Philip Sidney born
1555-6          Ridley, Latimer, Cranmer burnt
1558            Calais recaptured by the French
1564            Shakespeare born



NOTES

[1] One of Brunelleschi's devices to bring before the authorities
an idea of the dome he projected, was of standing an egg on end,
as Columbus is famed for doing, fully twenty years before Columbus
was born.

[2] It was Charles V who said of Giotto's Campanile that it ought to
be kept in a glass case.

[3] Hence its new name: Loggia de' Lanzi.

[4] In the Victoria and Albert Museum at South Kensington are casts
of the two Medici on the tombs and also the Madonna and Child. They
are in the great gallery of the casts, together with the great David,
two of the Julian tomb prisoners, the Bargello tondo and the Brutus.

[5] Cacus, the son of Vulcan and Medusa, was a famous robber who
breathed fire and smoke and laid waste Italy.  He made the mistake,
however, of robbing Hercules of some cows, and for this Hercules
strangled him.

[6] "Thick as leaves in Vallombrosa" has come to be the form of
words as most people quote them. But Milton wrote ("Paradise Lost,"
Book I. 300-304):--

            "He called
    His legions, angel-forms, who lay entranced
    Thick as autumnal leaves that strew the brooks
    In Vallombrosa where the Etrurian shades,
    High over-arched, embower."

Wordsworth, by the way, when he visited Vallombrosa with Crabb Robinson
in 1837, wrote an inferior poem there, in a rather common metre,
in honour of Milton's association with it.

[7] 27 April, 1859, the day that the war with Austria was proclaimed.

[8] In "A Dictionary of Saintly Women".

[9] The position of easel pictures in the Florentine galleries often
changes.





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