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Title: Renaissance in Italy Volume 3 - The Fine Arts
Author: Symonds, John Addington, 1840-1893
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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       *       *       *       *       *

    Dii Romae indigetes, Trojae tuque auctor, Apollo,
    Unde genus nostrum coeli se tollit ad astra,
    Hanc saltem auferri laudem prohibete Latinis:
    Artibus emineat semper, studiisque Minervae,
    Italia, et gentes doceat pulcherrima Roma;
    Quandoquidem armorum penitus fortuna recessit,
    Tanta Italos inter crevit discordia reges;
    Ipsi nos inter saevos distringimus enses,
    Nec patriam pudet externis aperire tyrannis

    VIDA, _Poetica_, lib. ii.

       *       *       *       *       *





This third volume of my book on the "Renaissance in Italy" does not
pretend to retrace the history of the Italian arts, but rather to define
their relation to the main movement of Renaissance culture. Keeping this,
the chief object of my whole work, steadily in view, I have tried to
explain the dependence of the arts on mediaeval Christianity at their
commencement, their gradual emancipation from ecclesiastical control, and
their final attainment of freedom at the moment when the classical revival

Not to notice the mediaeval period in this evolution would be impossible;
since the revival of Sculpture and Painting at the end of the thirteenth
century was among the earliest signs of that new intellectual birth to
which we give the title of Renaissance. I have, therefore, had to deal at
some length with stages in the development of Architecture, Sculpture,
and Painting, which form a prelude to the proper age of my own history.

In studying the architectural branch of the subject, I have had recourse
to Fergusson's "Illustrated Handbook of Architecture," to Burckhardt's
"Cicerone," to Grüner's "Terra-Cotta Buildings of North Italy," to
Milizia's "Memorie degli Architetti," and to many illustrated works on
single buildings in Rome, Tuscany, Lombardy, and Venice. For the history
of Sculpture I have used Burckhardt's "Cicerone," and the two important
works of Charles C. Perkins, entitled "Tuscan Sculptors," and "Italian
Sculptors." Such books as "Le Tre Porte del Battistero di Firenze,"
Grüner's "Cathedral of Orvieto," and Lasinio's "Tabernacolo della Madonna
d'Orsammichele" have been helpful by their illustrations. For the history
of Painting I have made use principally of Vasari's "Vite de' più
eccellenti Pittori," &c., in Le Monnier's edition of Crowe and
Cavalcaselle's "History of Painting," of Burckhardt's "Cicerone," of
Rosini's illustrated "Storia della Pittura Italiana," of Rio's "L'Art
Chrétien," and of Henri Beyle's "Histoire de la Peinture en Italie." I
should, however, far exceed the limits of a preface were I to make a list
of all the books I have consulted with profit on the history of the arts
in Italy.

In this part of my work I feel that I owe less to reading than to
observation. I am not aware of having mentioned any important building,
statue, or picture which I have not had the opportunity of studying. What
I have written in this volume about the monuments of Italian art has
always been first noted face to face with the originals, and afterwards
corrected, modified, or confirmed in the course of subsequent journeys to
Italy. I know that this method of composition, if it has the merit of
freshness, entails some inequality of style and disproportion in the
distribution of materials. In the final preparation of my work for press I
have therefore endeavoured, as far as possible, to compensate this
disadvantage by adhering to the main motive of my subject--the
illustration of the Renaissance spirit as this was manifested in the Arts.

I must add, in conclusion, that Chapters VII. and IX. and Appendix II. are
in part reprinted from the "Westminster," the "Cornhill," and the

CLIFTON: _March_ 1877.




Art in Italy and Greece--The Leading Phase of Culture--Æsthetic Type of
Literature--Painting the Supreme Italian Art--Its Task in the
Renaissance--Christian and Classical Traditions--Sculpture for the
Ancients--Painting for the Romance Nations--Mediaeval Faith and
Superstition--The Promise of Painting--How far can the Figurative Arts
express Christian Ideas?--Greek and Christian Religion--Plastic Art
incapable of solving the Problem--A more Emotional Art needed--Place of
Sculpture in the Renaissance--Painting and Christian Story--Humanization
of Ecclesiastical Ideas by Art--Hostility of the Spirit of True Piety to
Art--Compromises effected by the Church--Fra Bartolommeo's S.
Sebastian--Irreconcilability of Art and Theology, Art and
Philosophy--Recapitulation--Art in the end Paganises--Music--The Future of
Painting after the Renaissance.



Architecture of Mediaeval Italy--Milan, Genoa, Venice--The Despots as
Builders--Diversity of Styles--Local Influences--Lombard, Tuscan,
Romanesque, Gothic--Italian want of feeling for Gothic--Cathedrals of
Siena and Orvieto--Secular Buildings of the Middle Ages--Florence and
Venice--Private Palaces--Public Halls--Palazzo della Signoria at
Florence--Arnolfo di Cambio--S. Maria del Fiore--Brunelleschi's
Dome--Classical Revival in Architecture--Roman Ruins--Three Periods in
Renaissance Architecture--Their Characteristics--Brunelleschi
--Alberti--Palace-building--Michellozzo--Decorative Work of the
Revival--Bramante--Vitoni's Church of the Umiltà at Pistoja--Palazzo del
Te--Villa Farnesina--Sansovino at Venice--Michael Angelo--The Building of
S. Peter's--Palladio--The Palazzo della Ragione at Vicenza--Lombard
Architects--Theorists and Students of Vitruvius--Vignola and
Scamozzi--European Influence of the Palladian Style--Comparison of
Scholars and Architects in relation to the Revival of Learning.



Niccola Pisano--Obscurity of the Sources for a History of Early Italian
Sculpture--Vasari's Legend of Pisano--Deposition from the Cross at
Lucca--Study of Nature and the Antique--Sarcophagus at Pisa--Pisan
Pulpit--Niccola's School--Giovanni Pisano--Pulpit in S. Andrea at
Pistoja--Fragments of his work at Pisa--Tomb of Benedict XI. at
Perugia--Bas-reliefs at Orvieto--Andrea Pisano--Relation of Sculpture to
Painting--Giotto--Subordination of Sculpture to Architecture in
Italy--Pisano's Influence in Venice--Balduccio of Pisa--Orcagna--The
Tabernacle of Orsammichele--The Gates of the Florentine Baptistery
--Competition of Ghiberti, Brunelleschi, and Della Quercia--Comparison
of Ghiberti's and Brunelleschi's Trial-pieces--Comparison of Ghiberti
and Della Quercia--The Bas-reliefs of S. Petronio--Ghiberti's
Education--His Pictorial Style in Bas-relief--His Feeling for the
Antique--Donatello--Early Visit to Rome--Christian Subjects--Realistic
Treatment--S. George and David--Judith--Equestrian Statue of
Gattamelata--Influence of Donatello's Naturalism--Andrea Verocchio--His
David--Statue of Colleoni--Alessandro Leopardi--Lionardo's Statue of
Francesco Sforza--The Pollajuoli--Tombs of Sixtus IV. and Innocent
VIII.--Luca della Robbia--His Treatment of Glazed Earthenware--Agostino
di Duccio--The Oratory of S. Bernardino at Perugia--Antonio
Rossellino--Matteo Civitali--Mino da Fiesole--Benedetto da
Majano--Characteristics and Masterpieces of this Group--Sepulchral
Monuments--Andrea Contucci's Tombs in S. Maria del Popolo--Desiderio da
Settignano--Sculpture in S. Francesco at Rimini--Venetian
Sculpture--Verona--Guido Mazzoni of Modena--Certosa of Pavia--Colleoni
Chapel at Bergamo--Sansovino at Venice--Pagan Sculpture--Michael Angelo's
Scholars--Baccio Bandinelli--Bartolommeo Ammanati--Cellini--Gian
Bologna--Survey of the History of Renaissance Sculpture.



Distribution of Artistic Gifts in Italy--Florence and Venice
--Classification by Schools--Stages in the Evolution of Painting--Cimabue
--The Rucellai Madonna--Giotto--His widespread Activity--The Scope of his
Art--Vitality--Composition--Colour--Naturalism--Healthiness--Frescoes at
Assisi and Padua--Legend of S. Francis--The Giotteschi--Pictures of the
Last Judgment--Orcagna in the Strozzi Chapel--Ambrogio Lorenzetti at
Pisa--Dogmatic Theology--Cappella degli Spagnuoli--Traini's "Triumph,
of S. Thomas Aquinas"--Political Doctrine expressed in Fresco--Sala della
Pace at Siena--Religious Art in Siena and Perugia--The Relation of the
Giottesque Painters to the Renaissance.



Mediaeval Motives exhausted--New Impulse toward Technical
Perfection--Naturalists in Painting--Intermediate Achievement needed
for the Great Age of Art--Positive Spirit of the Fifteenth
Century--Masaccio--The Modern Manner--Paolo Uccello--Perspective--Realistic
Painters--The Model--Piero della Francesca--His Study of Form--Resurrection
at Borgo San Sepolcro--Melozzo da Forli--Squarcione at Padua--Gentile da
Fabriano--Fra Angelico--Benozzo Gozzoli--His Decorative Style--Lippo
Lippi--Frescoes at Prato and Spoleto--Filippino Lippi--Sandro
Botticelli--His Value for the Student of Renaissance Fancy--His Feeling
for Mythology--Piero di Cosimo--Domenico Ghirlandajo--In what sense he
sums up the Age--Prosaic Spirit--Florence hitherto supreme in
Painting--Extension of Art Activity throughout Italy--Medicean Patronage.



Two Periods in the True Renaissance--Andrea Mantegna--His Statuesque
Design--His Naturalism--Roman Inspiration--Triumph of Julius
Caesar--Bas-reliefs--Luca Signorelli--The Precursor of Michael
Angelo--Anatomical Studies--Sense of Beauty--The Chapel of S. Brizio at
Orvieto--Its Arabesques and Medallions--Degrees in his Ideal--Enthusiasm
for Organic Life--Mode of treating Classical Subjects--Perugino--His
Pietistic Style--His Formalism--The Psychological Problem of his
Life--Perugino's Pupils--Pinturicchio--At Spello and Siena--Francia--Fra
Bartolommeo--Transition to the Golden Age--Lionardo da Vinci--The Magician
of the Renaissance--Raphael--The Melodist--Correggio--The Faun--Michael
Angelo--The Prophet.



Painting bloomed late in Venice--Conditions offered by Venice to
Art--Shelley and Pietro Aretino--Political Circumstances of
Venice--Comparison with Florence--The Ducal Palace--Art regarded as an
adjunct to State Pageantry--Myth of Venezia--Heroic Deeds of
Venice--Tintoretto's Paradise and Guardi's Picture of a Ball--Early
Venetian Masters of Murano--Gian Bellini--Carpaccio's Little Angels--The
Madonna of S. Zaccaria--Giorgione--Allegory, Idyll, Expression of
Emotion--The Monk at the Clavichord--Titian, Tintoret, and
Veronese--Tintoretto's Attempt to dramatise Venetian Art--Veronese's
Mundane Splendour--Titian's Sophoclean Harmony--Their Schools--Further
Characteristics of Veronese--of Tintoretto--His Imaginative
Energy--Predominant Poetry--Titian's Perfection of Balance--Assumption of
Madonna--Spirit common to the great Venetians.



Contrast of Michael Angelo and Cellini--Parentage and Boyhood of Michael
Angelo--Work with Ghirlandajo--Gardens of S. Marco--The Medicean
Circle--Early Essays in Sculpture--Visit to Bologna--First Visit to
Rome--The Pietà of S. Peter's--Michael Angelo as a Patriot and a friend of
the Medici--Cartoon for the Battle of Pisa--Michael Angelo and Julius
II.--The Tragedy of the Tomb--Design for the Pope's Mausoleum--Visit to
Carrara--Flight from Rome--Michael Angelo at Bologna--Bronze Statue of
Julius--Return to Rome--Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel--Greek and Modern
Art--Raphael--Michael Angelo and Leo X.--S. Lorenzo--The new
Sacristy--Circumstances under which it was designed and partly
finished--Meaning of the Allegories--Incomplete state of Michael Angelo's
Marbles--Paul III.--The "Last Judgment"--Critiques of Contemporaries--The
Dome of S. Peter's--Vittoria Colonna--Tommaso Cavalieri--Personal Habits
of Michael Angelo--His Emotional Nature--Last Illness.



His Fame--His Autobiography--Its Value for the Student of History,
Manners, and Character in the Renaissance--Birth, Parentage, and
Boyhood--Flute-playing--Apprenticeship to Marcone--Wanderjahr--The
Goldsmith's Trade at Florence--Torrigiani and England--Cellini leaves
Florence for Rome--Quarrel with the Guasconti--Homicidal Fury--Cellini a
Law to Himself--Three Periods in his Manhood--Life in Rome--Diego at the
Banquet--Renaissance Feeling for Physical Beauty--Sack of Rome--Miracles
in Cellini's Life--His Affections--Murder of his Brother's
Assassin--Sanctuary--Pardon and Absolution--Incantation in the
Colosseum--First Visit to France--Adventures on the Way--Accused of
stealing Crown Jewels in Rome--Imprisonment in the Castle of S.
Angelo--The Governor--Cellini's Escape--His Visions--The Nature of his
Religion--Second Visit to France--The Wandering Court--Le Petit
Nesle--Cellini in the French Law Courts--Scene at Fontainebleau--Return to
Florence--Cosimo de' Medici as a Patron--Intrigues of a Petty
Court--Bandinelli--The Duchess--Statue of Perseus--End of Cellini's
Life--Cellini and Machiavelli.



Full Development and Decline of Painting--Exhaustion of the old
Motives--Relation of Lionardo to his Pupils--His Legacy to the
Lombard School--Bernardino Luini--Gaudenzio Ferrari--The Devotion
of the Sacri Monti--The School of Raphael--Nothing left but
Imitation--Unwholesome Influences of Rome--Giulio Romano--Michael
Angelesque Mannerists--Misconception of Michael Angelo--Correggio founds
no School--Parmigianino--Macchinisti--The Bolognese--After-growth of Art in
Florence--Andrea del Sarto--His Followers--Pontormo--Bronzino--Revival of
Painting in Siena--Sodoma--His Influence on Pacchia, Beccafumi,
Peruzzi--Garofalo and Dosso Dossi at Ferrari--The Campi at
Cremona--Brescia and Bergamo--The Decadence in the second half of the
Sixteenth Century--The Counter-Reformation--Extinction of the Renaissance


I.--The Pulpits of Pisa and Ravello

II.--Michael Angelo's Sonnets

III.--Chronological Tables


[1] To the original edition of this volume.



Art in Italy and Greece--The Leading Phase of Culture--Æsthetic Type of
Literature--Painting the Supreme Italian Art--Its Task in the
Renaissance--Christian and Classical Traditions--Sculpture for the
Ancients--Painting for the Romance Nations--Mediaeval Faith and
Superstition--The Promise of Painting--How far can the Figurative Arts
express Christian Ideas?--Greek and Christian Religion--Plastic Art
incapable of solving the Problem--A more Emotional Art needed--Place of
Sculpture in the Renaissance--Painting and Christian Story--Humanization
of Ecclesiastical Ideas by Art--Hostility of the Spirit of True Piety to
Art--Compromises effected by the Church--Fra Bartolommeo's S.
Sebastian--Irreconcilability of Art and Theology, Art and
Philosophy--Recapitulation--Art in the end Paganises--Music--The Future of
Painting after the Renaissance.

It has been granted only to two nations, the Greeks and the Italians, and
to the latter only at the time of the Renaissance, to invest every phase
and variety of intellectual energy with the form of art. Nothing notable
was produced in Italy between the thirteenth and the seventeenth centuries
that did not bear the stamp and character of fine art. If the methods of
science may be truly said to regulate our modes of thinking at the present
time, it is no less true that, during the Renaissance, art exercised a
like controlling influence. Not only was each department of the fine arts
practised with singular success; not only was the national genius to a
very large extent absorbed in painting, sculpture, and architecture; but
the aesthetic impulse was more subtly and widely diffused than this alone
would imply. It possessed the Italians in the very centre of their
intellectual vitality, imposing its conditions on all the manifestations
of their thought and feeling, so that even their shortcomings may be
ascribed in a great measure to their inability to quit the aesthetic point
of view.

We see this in their literature. It is probable that none but artistic
natures will ever render full justice to the poetry of the Renaissance.
Critics endowed with a less lively sensibility to beauty of outline and to
harmony of form than the Italians, complain that their poetry lacks
substantial qualities; nor is it except by long familiarity with the
plastic arts of their contemporaries that we come to understand the ground
assumed by Ariosto and Poliziano. We then perceive that these poets were
not so much unable as instinctively unwilling to go beyond a certain
circle of effects. They subordinated their work to the ideal of their age,
and that ideal was one to which a painter rather than a poet might
successfully aspire. A succession of pictures, harmoniously composed and
delicately toned to please the mental eye, satisfied the taste of the
Italians. But, however exquisite in design, rich in colour, and complete
in execution this literary work may be, it strikes a Northern student as
wanting in the highest elements of genius--sublimity of imagination,
dramatic passion, energy and earnestness of purpose. In like manner, he
finds it hard to appreciate those didactic compositions on trifling or
prosaic themes, which delighted the Italians for the very reason that
their workmanship surpassed their matter. These defects, as we judge them,
are still more apparent in the graver branches of literature. In an essay
or a treatise we do not so much care for well-balanced disposition of
parts or beautifully rounded periods, though elegance may be thought
essential to classic masterpieces, as for weighty matter and trenchant
observations. Having the latter, we can dispense at need with the former.
The Italians of the Renaissance, under the sway of the fine arts, sought
after form, and satisfied themselves with rhetoric. Therefore we condemn
their moral disquisitions and their criticisms as the flimsy playthings of
intellectual voluptuaries. Yet the right way of doing justice to these
stylistic trifles is to regard them as products of an all-embracing genius
for art, in a people whose most serious enthusiasms were aesthetic.

The speech of the Italians at that epoch, their social habits, their ideal
of manners, their standard of morality, the estimate they formed of men,
were alike conditioned and qualified by art. It was an age of splendid
ceremonies and magnificent parade, when the furniture of houses, the
armour of soldiers, the dress of citizens, the pomp of war, and the
pageantry of festival were invariably and inevitably beautiful. On the
meanest articles of domestic utility, cups and platters, door-panels and
chimney-pieces, coverlets for beds and lids of linen-chests, a wealth of
artistic invention was lavished by innumerable craftsmen, no less skilled
in technical details than distinguished by rare taste. From the Pope upon
S. Peter's chair to the clerks in a Florentine counting-house, every
Italian was a judge of art. Art supplied the spiritual oxygen, without
which the life of the Renaissance must have been atrophied. During that
period of prodigious activity the entire nation seemed to be endowed with
an instinct for the beautiful, and with the capacity for producing it in
every conceivable form. As we travel through Italy at the present day,
when "time, war, pillage, and purchase" have done their worst to denude
the country of its treasures, we still marvel at the incomparable and
countless beauties stored in every burgh and hamlet. Pacing the picture
galleries of Northern Europe, the country seats of English nobles, and the
palaces of Spain, the same reflection is still forced upon us: how could
Italy have done what she achieved within so short a space of time? What
must the houses and the churches once have been, from which these spoils
were taken, but which still remain so rich in masterpieces?
Psychologically to explain this universal capacity for the fine arts in
the nation at this epoch, is perhaps impossible. Yet the fact remains,
that he who would comprehend the Italians of the Renaissance must study
their art, and cling fast to that Ariadne-thread throughout the
labyrinthine windings of national character. He must learn to recognise
that herein lay the sources of their intellectual strength as well as the
secret of their intellectual weakness.

It lies beyond the scope of this work to embrace in one inquiry the
different forms of art in Italy, or to analyse the connection of the
aesthetic instinct with the manifold manifestations of the Renaissance.
Even the narrower task to which I must confine myself, is too vast for the
limits I am forced to impose upon its treatment. I intend to deal with
Italian painting as the one complete product which remains from the
achievements of this period, touching upon sculpture and architecture more
superficially. Not only is painting the art in which the Italians among
all the nations of the modern world stand unapproachably alone, but it is
also the one that best enables us to gauge their genius at the time when
they impressed their culture on the rest of Europe. In the history of the
Italian intellect painting takes the same rank as that of sculpture in the
Greek. Before beginning, however, to trace the course of Italian art, it
will be necessary to discuss some preliminary questions, important for a
right understanding of the relations assumed by painting to the thoughts
of the Renaissance, and for explaining its superiority over the sister art
of sculpture in that age. This I feel the more bound to do because it is
my object in this volume to treat of art with special reference to the
general culture of the nation.

What, let us ask in the first place, was the task appointed for the fine
arts on the threshold of the modern world? They had, before all things, to
give form to the ideas evolved by Christianity, and to embody a class of
emotions unknown to the ancients.[2] The inheritance of the Middle Ages
had to be appropriated and expressed. In the course of performing this
work, the painters helped to humanise religion, and revealed the dignity
and beauty of the body of man. Next, in the fifteenth century, the riches
of classic culture were discovered, and art was called upon to aid in the
interpretation of the ancient to the modern mind. The problem was no
longer simple. Christian and pagan traditions came into close contact, and
contended for the empire of the newly liberated intellect. During this
struggle the arts, true to their own principles, eliminated from both
traditions the more strictly human elements, and expressed them in
beautiful form to the imagination and the senses. The brush of the same
painter depicted Bacchus wedding Ariadne and Mary fainting on the hill of
Calvary. Careless of any peril to dogmatic orthodoxy, and undeterred by
the dread of encouraging pagan sensuality, the artists wrought out their
modern ideal of beauty in the double field of Christian and Hellenic
legend. Before the force of painting was exhausted, it had thus traversed
the whole cycle of thoughts and feelings that form the content of the
modern mind. Throughout this performance, art proved itself a powerful
co-agent in the emancipation of the intellect; the impartiality wherewith
its methods were applied to subjects sacred and profane, the emphasis laid
upon physical strength and beauty as good things and desirable, the
subordination of classical and mediaeval myths to one aesthetic law of
loveliness, all tended to withdraw attention from the differences between
paganism and Christianity, and to fix it on the goodliness of that
humanity wherein both find their harmony.

This being in general the task assigned to art in the Renaissance, we may
next inquire what constituted the specific quality of modern as
distinguished from antique feeling, and why painting could not fail to
take the first place among modern arts. In other words, how was it that,
while sculpture was the characteristic fine art of antiquity, painting
became the distinguishing fine art of the modern era? No true form of
figurative art intervened between Greek sculpture and Italian painting.
The latter took up the work of investing thought with sensible shape from
the dead hands of the former. Nor had the tradition that connected art
with religion been interrupted, although a new cycle of religious ideas
had been substituted for the old ones. The late Roman and Byzantine
manners, through which the vital energies of the Athenian genius dwindled
into barren formalism, still lingered, giving crude and lifeless form to
Christian conceptions. But the thinking and feeling subject, meanwhile,
had undergone a change so all-important that it now imperatively required
fresh channels for its self-expression. It was destined to find these, not
as of old in sculpture, but in painting.

During the interval between the closing of the ancient and the opening of
the modern age, the faith of Christians had attached itself to symbols and
material objects little better than fetishes. The host, the relic, the
wonder-working shrine, things endowed with a mysterious potency, evoked
the yearning and the awe of medieval multitudes. To such concrete
actualities the worshippers referred their sense of the invisible
divinity. The earth of Jerusalem, the Holy Sepulchre, the House of Loreto,
the Sudarium of Saint Veronica, aroused their deepest sentiments of aweful
adoration. Like Thomas, they could not be contented with believing; they
must also touch and handle. At the same time, in apparent
contradistinction to this demand for things of sense as signs of
super-sensual power, the claims of dogma on the intellect grew more
imperious, and mysticism opened for the dreaming soul a realm of spiritual
rapture. For the figurative arts there was no true place in either of
these regions. Painting and sculpture were alike alien to the grosser
superstitions, the scholastic subtleties, and the ecstatic trances of the
Middle Ages; nor had they anything in common with the logic of theology.
Votaries who kissed a fragment of the cross with passion, could have found
but little to satisfy their ardour in pictures painted by a man of genius.
A formless wooden idol, endowed with the virtue of curing disease, charmed
the pilgrim more than a statue noticeable only for its beauty or its truth
to life. We all know that _wunderthätige Bilder sind meist nur schlechte
Gemälde_. In architecture alone, the mysticism of the Middle Ages, their
vague but potent feelings of infinity, their yearning towards a deity
invisible, but localised in holy things and places, found artistic
outlet. Therefore architecture was essentially a medieval art. The rise of
sculpture and painting indicated the quickening to life of new faculties,
fresh intellectual interests, and a novel way of apprehending the old
substance of religious feeling; for comprehension of these arts implies
delight in things of beauty for their own sake, a sympathetic attitude
towards the world of sense, a new freedom of the mind produced by the
regeneration of society through love.

The mediaeval faiths were still vivid when the first Italian painters began
their work, and the sincere endeavour of these men was to set forth in
beautiful and worthy form the truths of Christianity. The eyes of the
worshipper should no longer have a mere stock or stone to contemplate: his
imagination should be helped by the dramatic presentation of the scenes of
sacred history, and his devotion be quickened by lively images of the
passion of our Lord. Spirit should converse with spirit, through no veil
of symbol, but through the transparent medium of art, itself instinct with
inbreathed life and radiant with ideal beauty. The body and the soul,
moreover, should be reconciled; and God's likeness should be once more
acknowledged in the features and the limbs of man. Such was the promise of
art; and this promise was in a great measure fulfilled by the painting of
the fourteenth century. Men ceased to worship their God in the holiness of
ugliness; and a great city called its street Glad on the birthday-festival
of the first picture investing religious emotion with aesthetic charm. But
in making good the promise they had given, it was needful for the arts on
the one hand to enter a region not wholly their own--the region of
abstractions and of mystical conceptions; and on the other to create a
world of sensuous delightfulness, wherein the spiritual element was
materialised to the injury of its own essential quality. Spirit, indeed,
spake to spirit, so far as the religious content was concerned; but flesh
spake also to flesh in the aesthetic form. The incarnation promised by the
arts involved a corresponding sensuousness. Heaven was brought down to
earth, but at the cost of making men believe that earth itself was

At this point the subject of our inquiry naturally divides into two main
questions. The first concerns the form of figurative art specially adapted
to the requirements of religious thought in the fourteenth century. The
second treats of the effect resulting both to art and religion from the
expression of mystical and theological conceptions in plastic form.

When we consider the nature of the ideas assimilated in the Middle Ages by
the human mind, it is clear that art, in order to set them forth, demanded
a language the Greeks had never greatly needed, and had therefore never
fully learned. To over-estimate the difference from an aesthetic point of
view between the religious notions of the Greeks and those which
Christianity had made essential, would be difficult. Faith, hope, and
charity; humility, endurance, suffering; the Resurrection and the
Judgment; the Pall and the Redemption; Heaven and Hell; the height and
depth of man's mixed nature; the drama of human destiny before the throne
of God: into the sphere of thoughts like these, vivid and solemn,
transcending the region of sense and corporeity, carrying the mind away to
an ideal world, where the things of this earth obtained a new reality by
virtue of their relation to an invisible and infinite Beyond, the modern
arts in their infancy were thrust. There was nothing finite here or
tangible, no gladness in the beauty of girlish foreheads or the swiftness
of a young man's limbs, no simple idealisation of natural delightfulness.
The human body, which the figurative arts must needs use as the vehicle of
their expression, had ceased to have a value in and for itself, had ceased
to be the true and adequate investiture of thoughts demanded from the
artist. At best it could be taken only as the symbol of some inner
meaning, the shrine of an indwelling spirit nobler than itself; just as a
lamp of alabaster owes its beauty and its worth to the flame it more than
half conceals, the light transmitted through its scarce transparent walls.

In ancient art those moral and spiritual qualities which the Greeks
recognised as truly human and therefore divine, allowed themselves to be
incarnated in well-selected types of physical perfection. The deities of
the Greek mythology were limited to the conditions of natural existence:
they were men and women of a larger mould and freer personality; less
complex, inasmuch as each completed some one attribute; less thwarted in
activity, inasmuch as no limit was assigned to exercise of power. The
passions and the faculties of man, analysed by unconscious psychology, and
deified by religious fancy, were invested by sculpture with appropriate
forms, the tact of the artist selecting corporeal qualities fitted to
impersonate the special character of each divinity. Nor was it possible
that, the gods and goddesses being what they were, exact analogues should
not be found for them in idealised humanity. In a Greek statue there was
enough soul to characterise the beauty of the body, to render her due meed
of wisdom to Pallas, to distinguish the swiftness of Hermes from the
strength of Heracles, or to contrast the virginal grace of Artemis with
the abundance of Aphrodite's charms. At the same time the spirituality
that gave its character to each Greek deity, was not such that, even in
thought, it could be dissociated from corporeal form. The Greeks thought
their gods as incarnate persons; and all the artist had to see to, was
that this incarnate personality should be impressive in his marble.

Christianity, on the other hand, made the moral and spiritual nature of
man all-essential. It sprang from an earlier religion, that judged it
impious to give any form to God. The body and its terrestrial activity
occupied but a subordinate position in its system. It was the life of the
soul, separable from this frame of flesh, and destined to endure when
earth and all that it contains had ended--a life that upon this planet was
continued conflict and aspiring struggle--which the arts, insofar as they
became its instrument, were called upon to illustrate. It was the worship
of a Deity, all spirit, to be sought on no one sacred hill, to be adored
in no transcendent shape, that they were bound to heighten. The most
highly prized among the Christian virtues had no necessary connection with
beauty of feature or strength of limb. Such beauty and such strength at
any rate were accidental, not essential. A Greek faun could not but be
graceful; a Greek hero was of necessity vigorous. But S. Stephen might be
steadfast to the death without physical charm; S. Anthony might put to
flight the devils of the flesh without muscular force. It is clear that
the radiant physical perfection proper to the deities of Greek sculpture
was not sufficient in this sphere.

Again, the most stirring episodes of the Christian mythology involved pain
and perturbation of the spirit; the victories of the Christian athletes
were won in conflicts carried on within their hearts and souls--"For we
wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and
powers," demoniac leaders of spiritual legions. It is, therefore, no less
clear that the tranquillity and serenity of the Hellenic ideal, so
necessary to consummate sculpture, was here out of place. How could the
Last Judgment, that day of wrath, when every soul, however insignificant
on earth, will play the first part for one moment in an awful tragedy, be
properly expressed in plastic form, harmonious and pleasing? And supposing
that the artist should abandon the attempt to exclude ugliness and
discord, pain and confusion, from his representation of the _Dies Irae_,
how could he succeed in setting forth by the sole medium of the human
body the anxiety and anguish of the soul at such a time? The physical
form, instead of being adequate to the ideas expressed, and therefore
helpful to the artist, is a positive embarrassment, a source of weakness.
The most powerful pictorial or sculpturesque delineation of the Judgment,
when compared with the pangs inflicted on the spirit by a guilty
conscience, pangs whereof words may render some account, but which can
find no analogue in writhings of the limbs or face, must of necessity be
found a failure. Still more impossible, if we pursue this train of thought
into another region, is it for the figurative arts to approach the
Christian conception of God in His omnipotence and unity. Christ Himself,
the central figure of the Christian universe, the desired of all nations,
in whom the Deity assumed a human form and dwelt with men, is no fit
subject for such art at any rate as the Greeks had perfected. The fact of
His incarnation brought Him indeed within the proper sphere of the fine
arts; but the religious idea which He represents removed Him beyond the
reach of sculpture. This is an all-important consideration. It is to this
that our whole argument is tending. Therefore to enlarge upon this point
will not be useless.

Christ is specially adored in His last act of love on Calvary; and how
impossible it is to set that forth consistently with the requirements of
strictly plastic art, may be gathered by comparing the passion of S.
Bernard's Hymn to our Lord upon the Cross with all that Winckelmann and
Hegel have so truly said about the restrained expression, dignified
generality, and harmonious beauty essential to sculpture. It is the
negation of tranquillity, the excess of feeling, the absence of
comeliness, the contrast between visible weakness and invisible
omnipotence, the physical humiliation voluntarily suffered by Him that
"ruled over all the angels, that walked on the pavements of heaven, whose
feet were clothed with stars"--it is all this that gives their force and
pathos to these stanzas:

    Omnis vigor atque viror
    Hinc recessit; non admiror:
    Mors apparet in inspectu,
    Totus pendens in defectu,
        Attritus aegrâ macie.

    Sic affectus, sic despectus,
    Propter me sic interfectus,
    Peccatori tam indigno
    Cum amoris in te signo
        Appare clarâ facie[3].

We have never heard that Pheidias or Praxiteles chose Prometheus upon
Caucasus for the supreme display of his artistic skill; and even the
anguish expressed in the group of the Laocoon is justly thought to violate
the laws of antique sculpture. Yet here was a greater than Prometheus--one
who had suffered more, and on whose suffering the salvation of the human
race depended, to exclude whom from the sphere of representation in art
was the same as confessing the utter impotence of art to grasp the vital
thought of modern faith. It is clear that the muses of the new age had to
haunt Calvary instead of Helicon, slaking their thirst at no Castalian
spring, but at the fount of tears outpoured by all creation for a stricken
God. What Hellas had achieved supplied no norm or method for the arts in
this new service.

From what has hitherto been advanced, we may assert with confidence that,
if the arts were to play an important part in Christian culture, an art
was imperatively demanded that should be at home in the sphere of intense
feeling, that should treat the body as the interpreter and symbol of the
soul, and should not shrink from pain and passion. How far the fine arts
were at all qualified to express the essential thoughts of Christianity--a
doubt suggested in the foregoing paragraphs--and how far, through their
proved inadequacy to perform this task completely, they weakened the hold
of mediaeval faiths upon the modern mind, are questions to be raised
hereafter. For the present it is enough to affirm that, least of all the
arts, could sculpture, with its essential repose and its dependence on
corporeal conditions, solve the problem. Sculpture had suited the
requirements of Greek thought. It belonged by right to men who not
unwillingly accepted the life of this world as final, and who worshipped
in their deities the incarnate personality of man made perfect. But it
could not express the cycle of Christian ideas. The desire of a better
world, the fear of a worse; the sense of sin referred to physical
appetites, and the corresponding mortification of the flesh; hope,
ecstasy, and penitence and prayer; all these imply contempt or hatred for
the body, suggest notions too spiritual to be conveyed by the rounded
contours of beautiful limbs, too full of struggle for statuesque
tranquillity. The new element needed a more elastic medium of expression.
Motives more varied, gradations of sentiment more delicate, the fugitive
and transient phases of emotion, the inner depths of consciousness, had
somehow to be seized. It was here that painting asserted its supremacy.
Painting is many degrees further removed than sculpture from dependence on
the body in the fulness of its physical proportions. It touches our
sensibilities by suggestions more indirect, more mobile, and more
multiform. Colour and shadow, aërial perspective and complicated grouping,
denied to sculpture, but within the proper realm of painting, have their
own significance, their real relation to feelings vaguer, but not less
potent, than those which find expression in the simple human form. To
painting, again, belongs the play of feature, indicative of internal
movement, through a whole gamut of modulations inapprehensible by
sculpture. All that drapery by its partial concealment of the form it
clothes, and landscape by its sympathies with human sentiment, may supply
to enhance the passion of the spectator, pertains to painting. This art,
therefore, owing to the greater variety of means at its disposal, and its
greater adequacy to express emotion, became the paramount Italian art.

To sculpture in the Renaissance, shorn of the divine right to create gods
and heroes, was left the narrower field of decoration, portraiture, and
sepulchral monuments. In the last of these departments it found the
noblest scope for its activity; for beyond the grave, according to
Christian belief, the account of the striving, hoping, and resisting soul
is settled. The corpse upon the bier may bear the stamp of spiritual
character impressed on it in life; but the spirit, with its struggle and
its passion, has escaped as from a prison-house, and flown else-whither.
The body of the dead man, for whom this world is over, and who sleeps in
peace, awaiting resurrection, and thereby not wholly dead, around whose
tomb watch sympathising angels or contemplative genii, was, therefore, the
proper subject for the highest Christian sculpture. Here, if anywhere, the
right emotion could be adequately expressed in stone, and the moulded form
be made the symbol of repose, expectant of restored activity. The greatest
sculptor of the modern age was essentially a poet of Death.

Painting, then, for the reasons already assigned and insisted on, was the
art demanded by the modern intellect upon its emergence from the stillness
of the Middle Ages. The problem, however, even for the art of painting was
not simple. The painters, following the masters of mosaic, began by
setting forth the history, mythology, and legends of the Christian Church
in imagery freer and more beautiful than lay within the scope of treatment
by Romanesque or Byzantine art. So far their task was comparatively easy;
for the idyllic grace of maternal love in the Madonna, the pathetic
incidents of martyrdom, the courage of confessors, the ecstasies of
celestial joy in redeemed souls, the loveliness of a pure life in modest
virgins, and the dramatic episodes of sacred story, furnish a multitude of
motives admirably pictorial. There was, therefore, no great obstacle upon
the threshold, so long as artists gave their willing service to the
Church. Yet, looking back upon this phase of painting, we are able to
perceive that already the adaptation of art to Christian dogma entailed
concessions on both sides. Much, on the one hand, had to be omitted from
the programme offered to artistic treatment, for the reason that the fine
arts could not deal with it at all. Much, on the other hand, had to be
expressed by means which painting in a state of perfect freedom would
repudiate. Allegorical symbols, like Prudence with two faces, and painful
episodes of agony and anguish, marred her work of beauty. There was
consequently a double compromise, involving a double sacrifice of
something precious. The faith suffered by having its mysteries brought
into the light of day, incarnated in form, and humanised. Art suffered by
being forced to render intellectual abstractions to the eye through
figured symbols.

As technical skill increased, and as beauty, the proper end of art, became
more rightly understood, the painters found that their craft was worthy of
being made an end in itself, and that the actualities of life observed
around them had claims upon their genius no less weighty than dogmatic
mysteries. The subjects they had striven at first to realise with all
simplicity now became little better than vehicles for the display of
sensuous beauty, science, and mundane pageantry. The human body received
separate and independent study, as a thing in itself incomparably
beautiful, commanding more powerful emotions by its magic than aught else
that sways the soul. At the same time the external world, with all its
wealth of animal and vegetable life, together with the works of human
ingenuity in costly clothing and superb buildings, was seen to be in every
detail worthy of most patient imitation. Anatomy and perspective taxed the
understanding of the artist, whose whole force was no longer devoted to
the task of bringing religious ideas within the limits of the
representable. Next, when the classical revival came into play, the arts,
in obedience to the spirit of the age, left the sphere of sacred subjects,
and employed their full-grown faculties in the domain of myths and Pagan
fancies. In this way painting may truly be said to have opened the new era
of culture, and to have first manifested the freedom of the modern mind.
When Luca Signorelli drew naked young men for a background to his picture
of Madonna and the infant Christ, he created for the student a symbol of
the attitude assumed by fine art in its liberty of outlook over the whole
range of human interests. Standing before this picture in the Uffizzi, we
feel that the Church, while hoping to adorn her cherished dogmas with
aesthetic beauty, had encouraged a power antagonistic to her own, a power
that liberated the spirit she sought to enthral, restoring to mankind the
earthly paradise from which monasticism had expelled it.

Not to diverge at this point, and to entertain the difficult problem of
the relation of the fine arts to Christianity, would be to shrink from the
most thorny question offered to the understanding by the history of the
Renaissance. On the very threshold of the matter I am bound to affirm my
conviction that the spiritual purists of all ages--the Jews, the
iconoclasts of Byzantium, Savonarola, and our Puritan ancestors--were
justified in their mistrust of plastic art. The spirit of Christianity and
the spirit of figurative art are opposed, not because such art is immoral,
but because it cannot free itself from sensuous associations[4]. It is
always bringing us back to the dear life of earth, from which the faith
would sever us. It is always reminding us of the body which piety bids us
to forget. Painters and sculptors glorify that which saints and ascetics
have mortified. The masterpieces of Titian and Correggio, for example,
lead the soul away from compunction, away from penitence, away from
worship even, to dwell on the delight of youthful faces, blooming colour,
graceful movement, delicate emotion[5]. Nor is this all: religious motives
may be misused for what is worse than merely sensuous suggestiveness. The
masterpieces of the Bolognese and Neapolitan painters, while they pretend
to quicken compassion for martyrs in their agony, pander to a bestial
blood-lust lurking in the darkest chambers of the soul[6]. Therefore it is
that piety, whether the piety of monastic Italy or of Puritan England,
turns from these aesthetic triumphs as from something alien to itself. When
the worshipper would fain ascend on wings of ecstasy to God, the infinite,
ineffable, unrealised, how can he endure the contact of those splendid
forms, in which the lust of the eye and the pride of life, professing to
subserve devotion, remind him rudely of the goodliness of sensual
existence? Art, by magnifying human beauty, contradicts these Pauline
maxims: "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain;" "Set your
affections on things above, not on things on earth;" "Your life is hid
with Christ in God." The sublimity and elevation it gives to carnal
loveliness are themselves hostile to the spirit that holds no truce or
compromise of traffic with the flesh. As displayed in its most perfect
phases, in Greek sculpture and Venetian painting, art dignifies the actual
mundane life of man; but Christ, in the language of uncompromising piety,
means everything most alien to this mundane life--self-denial, abstinence
from fleshly pleasure, the waiting for true bliss beyond the grave,
seclusion even from social and domestic ties. "He that loveth father and
mother more than me, is not worthy of me," "He that taketh not his cross
and followeth me, is not worthy of me." It is needful to insist upon these
extremest sentences of the New Testament, because upon them was based the
religious practice of the Middle Ages, more sincere in their determination
to fulfil the letter and embrace the spirit of the Gospel than any
succeeding age has been.[7]

If, then, there really exists this antagonism between fine art glorifying
human life and piety contemning it, how came it, we may ask, that even in
the Middle Ages the Church hailed art as her coadjutor? The answer lies in
this, that the Church has always compromised. The movement of the modern
world, upon the close of the Middle Ages, offered the Church a compromise,
which it would have been difficult to refuse, and in which she perceived
art first no peril to her dogmas. When the conflict of the first few
centuries of Christianity had ended in her triumph, she began to mediate
between asceticism and the world. Intent on absorbing all existent
elements of life and power, she conformed her system to the Roman type,
established her service in basilicas and Pagan temples, adopted portions
of the antique ritual, and converted local genii into saints. At the same
time she utilised the spiritual forces of monasticism, and turned the
mystic impulse of ecstatics to account. The Orders of the Preachers and
the Begging Friars became her militia and police; the mystery of Christ's
presence in the Eucharist was made an engine of the priesthood; the dreams
of Paradise and Purgatory gave value to her pardons, interdictions,
jubilees, indulgences, and curses. In the Church the spirit of the
cloister and the spirit of the world found neutral ground, and to the
practical accommodation between these hostile elements she owed her wide
supremacy. The Christianity she formed and propagated was different from
that of the New Testament, inasmuch as it had taken up into itself a mass
of mythological anthropomorphic elements. Thus transmuted and
materialised, thus accepted by the vivid faith of an unquestioning
populace, Christianity offered a proper medium for artistic activity. The
whole first period of Italian painting was occupied with the endeavour to
set forth in form and colour the popular conceptions of a faith at once
unphilosophical and unspiritual, beautiful and fit for art by reason of
the human elements it had assumed into its substance. It was natural,
therefore, that the Church should show herself indulgent to the arts,
which were effecting in their own sphere what she had previously
accomplished, though purists and ascetics, holding fast by the original
spirit of their creed, might remain irreconcilably antagonistic to their
influence. The Reformation, on the contrary, rejecting the whole mass of
compromises sanctioned by the Church, and returning to the elemental
principles of the faith, was no less naturally opposed to fine arts,
which, after giving sensuous form to Catholic mythology, had recently
attained to liberty and brought again the gods of Greece.

A single illustration might be selected from the annals of Italian
painting to prove how difficult even the holiest-minded and most earnest
painter found it to effect the proper junction between plastic beauty and
pious feeling. Fra Bartolommeo, the disciple of Savonarola, painted a
Sebastian in the cloister of S. Marco, where it remained until the
Dominican confessors became aware, through the avowals of female
penitents, that this picture was a stumbling-block and snare to souls. It
was then removed, and what became of it we do not know for certain. Fra
Bartolommeo undoubtedly intended this ideal portrait of the martyr to be
edifying. S. Sebastian was to stand before the world as the young man,
strong and beautiful, who endured to the end and won the crown of
martyrdom. No other ideas but those of heroism, constancy, or faith were
meant to be expressed; but the painter's art demanded that their
expression should be eminently beautiful, and the beautiful body of the
young man distracted attention from his spiritual virtues to his physical
perfections. A similar maladjustment of the means of plastic art to the
purposes of religion would have been impossible in Hellas, where the
temples of Eros and of Phoebus stood side by side; but in Christian
Florence the craftsman's skill sowed seeds of discord in the souls of the

This story is but a coarse instance of the separation between piety and
plastic art. In truth, the difficulty of uniting them in such a way that
the latter shall enforce the former, lies far deeper than its powers of
illustration reach. Religion has its proper end in contemplation and in
conduct. Art aims at presenting sensuous embodiment of thoughts and
feelings with a view to intellectual enjoyment. Now, many thoughts are
incapable of sensuous embodiment; they appear as abstractions to the
philosophical intellect or as dogmas to the theological understanding. To
effect an alliance between art and philosophy or art and theology in the
specific region of either religion or speculation is, therefore, an
impossibility. In like manner there are many feelings which cannot
properly assume a sensuous form; and these are precisely religious
feelings, in which the soul abandons sense, and leaves the actual world
behind, to seek her freedom in a spiritual region.[9] Yet, while we
recognise the truth of this reasoning, it would be unscientific to
maintain that, until they are brought into close and inconvenient contact,
there is direct hostility between religion and the arts. The sphere of the
two is separate; their aims are distinct; they must be allowed to perfect
themselves, each after its own fashion. In the large philosophy of human
nature, represented by Goethe's famous motto, there is room for both,
because those who embrace it bend their natures neither wholly to the
pietism of the cloister nor to the sensuality of art. They find the
meeting-point of art and of religion in their own humanity, and perceive
that the antagonism of the two begins when art is set to do work alien to
its nature, and to minister to what it does not naturally serve.

At the risk of repetition I must now resume the points I have attempted to
establish in this chapter. As in ancient Greece, so also in Renaissance
Italy, the fine arts assumed the first place in the intellectual culture
of the nation. But the thought and feeling of the modern world required an
aesthetic medium more capable of expressing emotion in its intensity,
variety, and subtlety than sculpture. Therefore painting was the art of
arts for Italy. Yet even painting, notwithstanding the range and wealth of
its resources, could not deal with the motives of Christianity so
successfully as sculpture with the myths of Paganism. The religion it
interpreted transcended the actual conditions of humanity, while art is
bound down by its nature to the limitations of the world we live in. The
Church imagined art would help her; and within a certain sphere of
subjects, by vividly depicting Scripture histories and the lives of
saints, by creating new types of serene beauty and pure joy, by giving
form to angelic beings, by interpreting Mariolatry in all its charm and
pathos, and by rousing deep sympathy with our Lord in His Passion,
painting lent efficient aid to piety. Yet painting had to omit the very
pith and kernel of Christianity as conceived by devout, uncompromising
purists. Nor did it do what the Church would have desired. Instead of
riveting the fetters of ecclesiastical authority, instead of enforcing
mysticism and asceticism, it really restored to humanity the sense of its
own dignity and beauty, and helped to proved the untenability of the
mediaeval standpoint; for art is essentially and uncontrollably free, and,
what is more, is free precisely in that realm of sensuous delightfulness
from which cloistral religion turns aside to seek her own ecstatic liberty
of contemplation.

The first step in the emancipation of the modern mind was taken thus by
art, proclaiming to men the glad tidings of their goodliness and greatness
in a world of manifold enjoyment created for their use. Whatever painting
touched, became by that touch human; piety, at the lure of art, folded her
soaring wings and rested on the genial earth. This the Church had not
foreseen. Because the freedom of the human spirit expressed itself in
painting only under visible images, and not, like heresy, in abstract
sentences; because this art sufficed for Mariolatry and confirmed the cult
of local saints; because its sensuousness was not at variance with a
creed that had been deeply sensualised--the painters were allowed to run
their course unchecked. Then came a second stage in their development of
art. By placing the end of their endeavour in technical excellence and
anatomical accuracy, they began to make representation an object in
itself, independently of its spiritual significance. Next, under the
influence of the classical revival, they brought home again the old powers
of the earth--Aphrodite and Galatea and the Loves, Adonis and Narcissus
and the Graces, Phoebus and Daphne and Aurora, Pan and the Fauns, and the
Nymphs of the woods and the waves.

When these dead deities rose from their sepulchres to sway the hearts of
men in the new age, it was found that something had been taken from their
ancient bloom of innocence, something had been added of emotional
intensity. Italian art recognised their claim to stand beside Madonna and
the Saints in the Pantheon of humane culture; but the painters re-made
them in accordance with the modern spirit. This slight touch of
transformation proved that, though they were no longer objects of
religious devotion, they still preserved a vital meaning for an altered
age. Having personified for the antique world qualities which, though
suppressed and ignored by militant and mediaeval Christianity, were
strictly human, the Hellenic deities still signified those qualities for
modern Europe, now at length re-fortified by contact with the ancient
mind. For it is needful to remember that in all movements of the
Renaissance we ever find a return in all sincerity and faith to the glory
and gladness of nature, whether in the world without or in the soul of
man. To apprehend that glory and that gladness with the pure and primitive
perceptions of the early mythopoets, was not given to the men of the new
world. Yet they did what in them lay, with senses sophisticated by many
centuries of subtlest warping, to replace the first, free joy of kinship
with primeval things. For the painters, far more than for the poets of
the sixteenth century, it was possible to reproduce a thousand forms of
beauty, each attesting to the delightfulness of physical existence, to the
inalienable rights of natural desire, and to the participation of mankind
in pleasures held in common by us with the powers of earth and sea and

It is wonderful to watch the blending of elder and of younger forces in
this process. The old gods lent a portion of their charm even to Christian
mythology, and showered their beauty-bloom on saints who died renouncing
them. Sodoma's Sebastian is but Hyacinth or Hylas, transpierced with
arrows, so that pain and martyrdom add pathos to his poetry of
youthfulness. Lionardo's S. John is a Faun of the forest, ivy-crowned and
laughing, on whose lips the word "Repent" would be a gleeful paradox. For
the painters of the full Renaissance, Roman martyrs and Olympian
deities--the heroes of the _Acta Sanctorum_, and the heroes of Greek
romance--were alike burghers of one spiritual city, the city of the
beautiful and human. What exquisite and evanescent fragrance was educed
from these apparently diverse blossoms by their interminglement and
fusion--how the high-wrought sensibilities of the Christian were added to
the clear and radiant fancies of the Greek, and how the frank sensuousness
of the Pagan gave body and fulness to the floating wraiths of an ascetic
faith--remains a miracle for those who, like our master Lionardo, love to
scrutinise the secrets of twin natures and of double graces. There are not
a few for whom the mystery is repellent, who shrink from it as from
Hermaphroditus. These will always find something to pain them in the art
of the Renaissance.

Having co-ordinated the Christian and Pagan traditions in its work of
beauty, painting could advance no farther. The stock of its sustaining
motives was exhausted. A problem that preoccupied the minds of thinking
men at this epoch was how to harmonise the two chief moments of human
culture, the classical and the ecclesiastical. Without being as conscious
of their hostility as we are, men felt that the Pagan ideal was opposed to
the Christian, and at the same time that a reconciliation had to be
effected. Each had been worked out separately; but both were needed for
the modern synthesis. All that aesthetic handling, in this region more
precocious and more immediately fruitful than pure thought, could do
towards mingling them, was done by the impartiality of the fine arts.
Painting, in the work of Raphael, accomplished a more vital harmony than
philosophy in the writings of Pico and Ficino. A new Catholicity, a
cosmopolitan orthodoxy of the beautiful, was manifested in his pictures.
It lay outside his power, or that of any other artist, to do more than to
extract from both revelations the elements of plastic beauty they
contained, and to show how freely he could use them for a common purpose.
Nothing but the scientific method can in the long run enable us to reach
that further point, outside both Christianity and Paganism, at which the
classical ideal of a temperate and joyous natural life shall be restored
to the conscience educated by the Gospel. This, perchance, is the
religion, still unborn or undeveloped, whereof Joachim of Flora dimly
prophesied when he said that the kingdom of the Father was past, the
kingdom of the Son was passing, and the kingdom of the Spirit was to be.
The essence of it is contained in the whole growth to usward of the human
mind; and though a creed so highly intellectualised as that will be, can
never receive adequate expression from the figurative arts, still the
painting of the sixteenth century forms for it, as it were, a not unworthy
vestibule. It does so, because it first succeeded in humanising the
religion of the Middle Ages, in proclaiming the true value of antique
paganism for the modern mind, and in making both subserve the purposes of
free and unimpeded art.

Meanwhile, at the moment when painting was about to be exhausted, a new
art had arisen, for which it remained, within the aesthetic sphere, to
achieve much that painting could not do. When the cycle of Christian ideas
had been accomplished by the painters, and when the first passion for
antiquity had been satisfied, it was given at last to Music to express the
soul in all its manifold feeling and complexity of movement. In music we
see the point of departure where art leaves the domain of myths, Christian
as well as Pagan, and occupies itself with the emotional activity of man
alone, and for its own sake. Melody and harmony, disconnected from words,
are capable of receiving most varied interpretations, so that the same
combinations of sound express the ecstasies of earthly and of heavenly
love, conveying to the mind of the hearer only that element of pure
passion which is the primitive and natural ground-material of either. They
give distinct form to moods of feeling as yet undetermined; or, as the
Italians put it, _la musica è il lamento dell' amore o la preghiera a gli
dei_. This, combined with its independence of all corporeal conditions,
fenders music the true exponent of the spirit in its freedom, and
therefore the essentially modern art.

For Painting, after the great work accomplished during the Renaissance,
when the painters ran through the whole domain of thought within the scope
of that age, there only remained portraiture, history, dramatic incident,
landscape, _genre_, still life, and animals. In these spheres the art is
still exercised, and much good work, undoubtedly, is annually produced by
European painters. But painting has lost its hold upon the centre of our
intellectual activity. It can no longer give form to the ideas that at the
present epoch rule the modern world. These ideas are too abstract, too
much a matter of the understanding, to be successfully handled by the
figurative arts; and it cannot be too often or too emphatically stated
that these arts produce nothing really great and universal in relation to
the spirit of their century, except by a process analogous to the
mythopoetic. With conceptions incapable of being sensuously apprehended,
with ideas that lose their value when they are incarnated, they have no
power to deal. As meteors become luminous by traversing the grosser
element of our terrestrial atmosphere, so the thoughts that art employs
must needs immerse themselves in sensuousness. They must be of a nature to
gain rather than to suffer by such immersion; and they must make a direct
appeal to minds habitually apt to think in metaphors and myths. Of this
sort are all religious ideas at a certain stage of their development, and
this attitude at certain moments of history is adopted by the popular
consciousness. We have so far outgrown it, have so completely exchanged
mythology for curiosity, and metaphor for science, that the necessary
conditions for great art are wanting. Our deepest thoughts about the world
and God are incapable of personification by any aesthetic process; they
never enter that atmosphere wherein alone they could become through fine
art luminous. For the painter, who is the form-giver, they have ceased to
be shining stars, and are seen as opaque stones; and though divinity be in
them, it is a deity that refuses the investiture of form.


[2] It may fairly be questioned whether that necessary connection between
art and religion, which is commonly taken for granted, does in truth
exist; in other words, whether great art might not flourish without any
religious content. This, however, is a speculative problem, for present
and the future rather than the past. Historically, it has always been
found that the arts in their origin are dependent on religion. Nor is the
reason far to seek. Art aims at expressing an ideal; and this ideal is
the transfiguration of human elements into something nobler, felt and
apprehended by the imagination. Such an ideal, such an all-embracing
glorification of humanity only exists for simple and unsophisticated
societies in the form of religion. Religion is the universal poetry which
all possess; and the artist, dealing with the mythology of his national
belief, feels himself in vital sympathy with the imagination of the men
for whom he works. More than the painter is required for the creation of
great painting, and more than the poet for the exhibition of immortal
verse. Painters are but the hands, and poets but the voices, whereby
peoples express their accumulated thoughts and permanent emotions. Behind
them crowd the generations of the myth-makers; and around them floats the
vital atmosphere of enthusiasms on which their own souls and the souls of
their brethren have been nourished.

    All Thy strength and bloom are faded:
    Who hath thus Thy state degraded?
    Death upon Thy form is written;
    See the wan worn limbs, the smitten
        Breast upon the cruel tree!

    Thus despised and desecrated,
    Thus in dying desolated,
    Slain for me, of sinners vilest,
    Loving Lord, on me Thou smilest:
        Shine, bright face, and strengthen me!

[4] I am aware that many of my readers will demur that I am confounding
Christianity with ascetic or monastic Christianity; yet I cannot read the
New Testament, the _Imitatio Christi_, the _Confessions_ of S. Augustine,
and the _Pilgrim's Progress_ without feeling that Christianity in its
origin, and as understood by its chief champions, was and is ascetic. Of
this Christianity I therefore speak, not of the philosophised
Christianity, which is reasonably regarded with suspicion by the orthodox
and the uncompromising. It was, moreover, with Christianity of this
primitive type that the arts came first into collision.

[5] Titian's "Assumption of the Virgin" at Venice, Correggio's
"Coronation of the Virgin" at Parma.

[6] Domenichino, Guido, Ribera, Salvator Rosa.

[7] Not to quote again the _Imitatio Christi,_ it is enough to allude to
S. Francis as shown in the _Fioretti_.

[8] The difficulty of combining the true spirit of piety with the ideal
of natural beauty in art was strongly felt by Savonarola. Rio (_L'Art
chrétien_, vol. ii. pp. 422-426) has written eloquently on this subject,
but without making it plain how Savonarola's condemnation of life studies
from the nude could possibly have been other than an obstacle to the
liberal and scientific prosecution of the art of painting.

[9] See Rio, _L'Art chrétien,_ vol. ii. chap. xi. pp. 319-327, for an
ingenious defence of mystic art. The tales he tells of Bernardino da
Siena and the blessed Umiliana will not win the sympathy of Teutonic
Christians, who must believe that semi-sensuous, semi-pious raptures,
like those described by S. Catherine of Siena and S. Theresa, have
something in them psychologically morbid.



Architecture of Mediaeval Italy--Milan, Genoa, Venice--The Despots as
Builders--Diversity of Styles--Local Influences--Lombard, Tuscan,
Romanesque, Gothic--Italian want of feeling for Gothic--Cathedrals of
Siena and Orvieto--Secular Buildings of the Middle Ages--Florence and
Venice--Private Palaces--Public Halls--Palazzo della Signoria at
Florence--Arnolfo di Cambio--S. Maria del Fiore--Brunelleschi's
Dome--Classical Revival in Architecture--Roman Ruins--Three Periods in
Renaissance Architecture--Their Characteristics--Brunelleschi
--Alberti--Palace-building--Michellozzo--Decorative Work of the
Revival--Bramante--Vitoni's Church of the Umiltà at Pistoja--Palazzo del
Te--Villa Farnesina--Sansovino at Venice--Michael Angelo--The Building of
S. Peter's--Palladio--The Palazzo della Ragione at Vicenza--Lombard
Architects--Theorists and Students of Vitruvius--Vignola and
Scamozzi--European Influence of the Palladian Style--Comparison of
Scholars and Architects in relation to the Revival of Learning.

Architecture is always the first of the fine arts to emerge from barbarism
in the service of religion and of civic life. A house, as Hegel says, must
be built for the god, before the image of the god, carved in stone or
figured in mosaic, can be placed there. Council chambers must be prepared
for the senate of a State before the national achievements can be painted
on the walls. Thus Italy, before the age of the Renaissance proper, found
herself provided with churches and palaces, which were destined in the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to be adorned with frescoes and statues.

It was in the middle of the thirteenth century, during the long struggle
for independence carried on by the republics of Lombardy and Tuscany
against the Empire and the nobles, that some of the most durable and
splendid public works were executed. The domes and towers of Florence and
of Pisa were rising above the city walls, while the burghers who
subscribed for their erection were staining the waves of Meloria and the
cane-brakes of the Arbia with their blood. Lombardy, at the end of her
duel with Frederick Barbarossa, completed a vast undertaking, by which the
fields of Milan are still rendered more productive than any other
pastureland in Europe. The Naviglio Grande, bringing the waters of the
Ticino through a plain of thirty miles to Milan, was begun in 1179, and
was finished in 1258. The torrents of S. Gothard and the Simplon, which,
after filling the Lago Maggiore, seemed destined to run wasteful through a
wilderness of pebbles to the sea, were thus turned to account; and to this
great engineering work, as bold as it was simple, Milan owed the wealth
that placed her princes on a level with the sovereigns of Europe. At the
same period she built her walls, and closed their circuit with the sixteen
gates that showed she loved magnificence combined with strength. Genoa,
between 1276 and 1283, protected her harbours by a gigantic mole, and in
1295 brought the streams of the Ligurian Alps into the city by an aqueduct
worthy of old Rome. Venice had to win her very footing from the sea and
sand. So firmly did she drive her piles, so vigilantly watch their
preservation, that palaces and cathedrals of marble might be safely reared
upon the bosom of the deep. Meanwhile, stone bridges began to span the
rivers of Italy; the streets and squares of towns were everywhere paved
with flags. Before the first years of the fourteenth century the Italian
cities presented a spectacle of solid and substantial comfort, very
startling to northerners who travelled from the unpaved lanes of London
and the muddy labyrinths of Paris.

Sismondi remarks with just pride that these great works were Republican.
They were set on foot for the public use, and were constructed at the
expense of the commonwealths. It is, however, right to add that what the
communes had begun the princes continued. To the splendid taste of the
Visconti dynasty, for instance, Milan owed her wonderful Duomo and the
octagon bell-tower of S. Gottardo. The Certosas of Pavia and Chiaravalle,
the palace of Pavia, and a host of minor monuments remain in Milan and its
neighbourhood to prove how much a single family performed for the
adornment of the cities they had subjugated. And what is true of Milan
applies to Italy throughout its length and breadth. The Despots held their
power at the price of magnificence in schemes of public utility. So much
at least of the free spirit of the communes survived in them, that they
were always rivalling each other in great works of architecture. Italian
tyranny implied aesthetic taste and liberality of expenditure.

In no way is the characteristic diversity of the Italian communities so
noticeable as in their buildings. Each district, each town, has a
well-defined peculiarity, reflecting the specific qualities of the
inhabitants and the conditions under which they grew in culture. In some
cases we may refer this local character to nationality and geographical
position. Thus the name of the Lombards has been given to a style of
Romanesque, which prevailed through Northern and Central Italy during the
period of Lombard ascendency.[10] The Tuscans never forgot the domes of
their remote ancestors; the Romans adhered closely to Latin traditions;
the Southerners were affected by Byzantine and Saracenic models. In many
instances the geology of the neighbourhood determined the picturesque
features of its architecture. The clay-fields of the valley of the Po
produced the brickwork of Cremona, Pavia, Crema, Chiaravalle, and
Vercelli. To their quarries of _mandorlato_ the Veronese builders owed the
peach-bloom colours of their columned aisles. Carrara provided the Pisans
with mellow marble for their Baptistery and Cathedral; Monte Ferrato
supplied Pistoja and Prato with green serpentine; while the _pietra
serena_ of the Apennines added austerity to the interior of Florentine
buildings. Again, in other instances, we detect the influence of commerce
or of conquest. The intercourse of Venice with Alexandria determined the
unique architecture of S. Mark's. The Arabs and the Normans left
ineffaceable traces of their sojourn on Palermo. Naples and Messina still
bear marks upon their churches of French workmen. All along the coasts we
here and there find evidences of Oriental style imported into mediaeval
Italy, while the impress of the Spaniard is no less manifest in edifices
of a later period.

Existing thus in the midst of many potent influences, and surrounded by
the ruins of past civilisations, the Italians recombined and mingled
styles of marked variety. The Roman, Byzantine, Saracenic, Lombard, and
German traditions were blended in their architecture, as the presiding
genius of each place determined. It followed that master-works of rare and
subtle invention were produced, while no one type was fully perfected, nor
can we point to any paramount Italian manner. In Italy what was gained in
richness and individuality was lost in uniformity and might. Yet we may
well wonder at the versatile appreciation of all types of beauty that
these monuments evince. How strange, for example, it is to think of the
Venetians borrowing the form and structure of their temple from the
mosques of Alexandria, decking its façade with the horses of Lysippus, and
panelling the sanctuary with marbles from the harem-floors of Eastern
emperors; while at the other end of Italy, at Palermo, close beside the
ruined colonnades of Greek Segesta, Norman kings were embroidering their
massive churches with Saracenic arabesques and Byzantine mosaics,
interspersing delicate Arabian tracery with rope-patterns and monsters of
the deep, and linking Cuphic sentences with Scandinavian runes. Meanwhile,
at Rome, tombs, baths, and theatres had been turned into fortresses. The
Orsini held the Mole of Hadrian; the Savelli ensconced themselves in the
Theatre of Marcellus, and the Colonnesi in the Mausoleum of Augustus; the
Colosseum and the Arches of Constantine and Titus harboured the
Frangipani; the Baths of Trajan housed the Capocci; while the Gaetani made
a castle of Caecilia Metella's tomb. Under those vast resounding vaults
swarmed a brood of mediaeval _bravi_--like the wasps that hang their
pear-shaped combs along the cloisters of Pavia. There the ghost of the
dead empire still sat throned and sceptred. The rites of Christianity were
carried on beneath Agrippa's dome, in Diocletian's baths, in the
Basilicas. No other style but that of the imperial people struck root near
the Eternal City. Among her three hundred churches, Rome can only show one
Gothic building. Further to the north, where German influences were more
potent, the cathedrals still displayed, each after its own kind, a sunny
southern waywardness. Glowing with marbles and mosaics, glittering with
ornaments, where the foliage of the Corinthian acanthus hides the symbols
of the Passion, and where birds and Cupids peep from tangled fruits
beneath grave brows of saints and martyrs; leaning now to the long low
colonnades of the Basilica, now to the high-built arches of the purely
Pointed style; surmounting the meeting point of nave and transept with
Etruscan domes; covering the façade with bas-reliefs, the roof with
statues; raising the porch-pillars upon lions and winged griffins;
flanking the nave with bell-towers, or planting them apart like flowers in
isolation on the open square--these wonderful buildings, the delight and
joy of all who love to trace variety in beauty, and to note the impress of
a nation's genius upon its art, seem, like Italy herself, to feel all
influences and to assimilate all nationalities.

Amid the many styles of architecture contending for mastery in Italy,
three, before the age of the Revival, bid fair to win the battle. These
were the Lombard, the Tuscan Romanesque, and the Gothic. Chronologically
the two former flourished nearly during the same centuries, while Gothic,
coming from without, suspended their development. But chronology is of
little help in the history of Italian architecture; its main features
being, not uniformity of progression, but synchronous diversity and
salience of local type. What remained fixed through all changes in Italy
was a bias toward the forms of Roman building, which eventually in the
Renaissance, becoming scientifically apprehended, determined the taste of
the whole nation.

It is, perhaps, not wholly fanciful to say that, as the Lombards just
failed to mould the Italians by conquest into an united people, so their
architecture fell short of creating one type for the peninsula.[11] From
some points of view the historian might regret that Italy did not receive
that thorough subjugation in the eighth century, which would have broken
down local distinctions. Such regrets, however, are singularly idle; for
the main currents of the world's history move not by chance; and how,
moreover, could Italy have fulfilled her destiny without the divers forms
of political existence that made her what she was? Yet, standing before
some of the great Lombard churches, we are inclined to speculate, perhaps
with better reason, what the result would have been if that style of
architecture could have assumed the complete ascendency over the Italians
which the Romanesque and Gothic of the North exerted over France and
England?[12] The pyramidal façade common in these buildings, the campanili
that suspend aërial lanterns upon plain square towers, the domes rising
tier over tier from the intersection of nave and transept to end in
minarets and pinnacles, the low long colonnades of marble pilasters, the
open porches resting upon lions, the harmonious blending of baked clay and
rosy-tinted stone, the bold combination of round and pointed arches, and
the weird invention whereby every string-course and capital has been
carved with lions, sphinxes, serpents, mermaids, griffins, harpies, winged
horses, lizards, and knights in armour--all these are elements that might,
we fancy, have been developed into a noble national style. As it is, the
churches in question are often more bizarre than really beautiful. Their
peculiar character, however, is inseparably associated with the long
reaches of green plain, the lordly rivers, and the background of blue
hills and snowy Alps that constitute the charm of Lombard landscape.

If Lombard architecture, properly so-called, was partial in its influence
and confined to a comparatively narrow local sphere, the same is true of
the Tuscan Romanesque. The church of Samminiato, near Florence [about
1013], and the cathedral of Pisa [begun 1063], not to mention other less
eminent examples at Lucca and Pistoja, are sufficient evidences that in
the darkest period of the Middle Ages the Italians were aiming at an
architectural Renaissance. The influence of classical models is apparent
both in the construction and the detail of these basilicas; while the
deeply grounded preference of the Italian genius for round arches, for
colonnades of pillars and pilasters, and for large rectangular spaces,
with low roofs and shallow tribunes, finds full satisfaction in these
original and noble buildings. It is impossible to refrain from deploring
that the Romanesque of Tuscany should have been checked in its development
by the intrusion of the German Gothic. Had it run its course unthwarted, a
national style suited to the temperament of the people might have been
formed, and much that was pedantic in the revival of the fifteenth century
have been obviated.

The place of Gothic architecture in Italy demands fuller treatment. It was
due partly to the direct influence of German emperors, partly to the
imperial sympathies of the great nobles, partly to the Franciscan friars,
who aimed at building large churches cheaply, and partly to the admiration
excited by the grandeur of the Pointed style as it prevailed in Northern
Europe, that Gothic--so alien to the Italian genius and climate--took
root, spread widely, and flourished freely for a season. In thus
enumerating the conditions favourable to the spread of Gottico-Tedesco, I
am far from wishing to assert that this style was purely foreign. Italy,
in common with the rest of Europe, passed by a natural process of
evolution from the Romanesque to the Pointed manner, and treated the
latter with an originality that proves a certain natural assimilation. Yet
the first Gothic church, that of S. Francis at Assisi, was designed by a
German; the most splendid, that of Our Lady at Milan, is emphatically
German.[13] During the comparatively brief period of Gothic ascendency the
Italians never forgot their Latin and Lombard sympathies. The mood of mind
in which they Gothicised was partial and transient. The evolution of this
style was, therefore, neither so spontaneous and simple, nor yet so
uninterrupted and complete, in Italy as in the North. While it produced
the church of S. Francesco at Assisi and the cathedrals of Siena, Orvieto,
Lucca, Bologna, Florence, and Milan, together with the town-halls of
Perugia, Siena, and Florence, it failed to take firm hold upon the
national taste, and died away before the growing passion for antiquity
that restored the Italians to a sense of their own intellectual greatness.
It is clear that, as soon as they were conscious of their vocation to
revive the culture of the classic age, they at once and for ever abandoned
the style appropriate to northern feudalism. They seem to have adopted it
half-unwillingly and to have understood it only in the imperfect way in
which they comprehended chivalry.

The Italians never rightly apprehended the specific nature of Gothic
architecture. They could not forget the horizontal lines, flat roofs, and
blank walls of the Basilica. Like their Roman ancestors, they aimed at
covering the ground with the smallest possible expenditure of
construction; to enclose large spaces within simple limits was their first
object, and the effect of beauty or sublimity was gained by the
proportions given to the total area. When, therefore, they adopted the
Gothic style, they failed to perceive that its true merit consists in the
negation of nearly all that the Latin style holds precious. Horizontal
lines are as far as possible annihilated; walls are lost in windows;
aisles and columns, apses and chapels, are multiplied with a view to
complexity of architectonic effect; flat roofs become intolerable. The
whole force employed in the construction has an upward tendency, and the
spire is the completion of the edifice; for to the spire its countless
soaring lines--lines not of stationary strength, but of ascendent
growth--converge. All this the Italians were slow to comprehend. The
campanile, for example, never became an integral part of their buildings.
It stood alone, and was reserved for its original purpose of keeping the
bells. The windows, for a reason very natural in Italy, where there is
rather too much than too little sunlight, were curtailed; and instead of
the multiplied bays and clustered columns of a northern Gothic aisle, the
nave of so vast a church as S. Petronio at Bologna is measured by six
arches raised on simple piers. The façade of an Italian cathedral was
studied as a screen, quite independently of its relation to the interior;
in the beautiful church of Crema, for example, the moon at night looks
through the upper windows of a frontispiece raised far above the low roof
of the nave. For the total effect of the exterior, as will be apparent to
anyone who observes the Duomo of Orvieto from behind, no thought was
taken. In this way the Italians missed the point and failed to perceive
the poetry of Gothic architecture. Its symbolical significance was lost
upon them; perhaps we ought to say that the Italian temperament, in art as
in religion, was incapable of assimilating the vague yet powerful
mysticism of the Teutonic races.

On the other hand, what they sacrificed of genuine Gothic character, was
made good after their own fashion. Surface decoration, whether of fresco
or mosaic, bronze-work or bas-relief, wood-carving or panelling in marble,
baked clay or enamelled earthenware was never carried to such perfection
in Gothic buildings of the purer type; nor had sculpture in the North an
equal chance of detaching itself from the niche and tabernacle, which
forced it to remain the slave of architecture. Thus the comparative
defects of Italian Gothic were directly helpful in promoting those very
arts for which the people had a genius unrivalled among modern nations.

It is only necessary to contrast the two finest cathedrals of this style,
those of Siena and Orvieto, with two such buildings as the cathedrals of
Rheims and Salisbury, in order to perceive the structural inferiority of
the former, as well as their superiority for all subordinate artistic
purposes. Long straight lines, low roofs, narrow windows, a façade of
surprising splendour but without a strict relation to the structure of the
nave and aisles, a cupola surmounting the intersection of nave, choir, and
transepts; simple tribunes at the east end, a detached campanile, round
columns instead of clustered piers, a mixture of semicircular and pointed
arches; these are some of the most salient features of the Sienese Duomo.
But the material is all magnificent; and the hand, obedient to the
dictates of an artist's brain, has made itself felt on every square foot
of the building. Alternate courses of white and black marble, cornices
loaded with grave or animated portraits of the Popes, sculptured shrines,
altars, pulpits, reliquaries, fonts and holy-water vases, panels of inlaid
wood and pictured pavements, bronze candelabra and wrought-iron screens,
gilding and colour and precious work of agate and lapis lazuli--the
masterpieces of men famous each in his own line--delight the eye in all
directions. The whole church is a miracle of richness, a radiant and
glowing triumph of inventive genius, the product of a hundred
master-craftsmen toiling through successive centuries to do their best.
All its countless details are so harmonised by the controlling taste, so
brought together piece by piece in obedience to artistic instinct, that
the total effect is ravishingly beautiful. Yet it is clear that no one
paramount idea, determining and organising all these marvels, existed in
the mind of the first architect. In true Gothic work the details that
make up the charm of this cathedral would have been subordinated to one
architectonic thought; they would not have been suffered to assert their
individuality, or to contribute, except as servants, to the whole effect.
The northern Gothic church is like a body with several members; the
southern Gothic church is an accretion of beautiful atoms. The northern
Gothic style corresponds to the national unity of federalised races,
organised by a social hierarchy of mutually dependent classes. In the
southern Gothic style we find a mirror of political diversity, independent
personality, burgher-like equality, despotic will. Thus the specific
qualities of Italy on her emergence from the Middle Ages may be traced by
no undue exercise of the fancy in her monuments. They are emphatically the
creation of citizens--of men, to use Giannotti's phrase, distinguished by
alternating obedience and command, not ranked beneath a monarchy, but
capable themselves of sovereign power.[14]

What has been said of Siena is no less true of the Duomo of Orvieto.
Though it seems to aim at a severer Gothic, and though the façade is more
architecturally planned, a single glance at the exterior of the edifice
shows that the builders had no lively sense of the requirements of the
style they used. What can be more melancholy than those blank walls,
broken by small round recesses protruding from the side chapels of the
nave, those gaunt and barren angles at the east end, and those few
pinnacles appended at a venture? It is clear that the spirit of the
northern Gothic manner has been wholly misconceived. On the other hand,
the interior is noble. The feeling for space possessed by the architect
has expressed itself in proportions large and solemn; the area enclosed,
though somewhat cold and vacuous to northern taste, is at least impressive
by its severe harmony. But the real attractions of the church are isolated
details. Wherever the individual artist-mind has had occasion to emerge,
there our gaze is riveted, our criticism challenged, our admiration won.
The frescoes of Signorelli, the bas-reliefs of the Pisani, the statuary of
Lo Scalza and Mosca, the tarsia of the choir stalls, the Alexandrine work
and mosaics of the façade, the bronzes placed upon its brackets, and the
wrought acanthus scrolls of its superb pilasters--these are the objects
for inexhaustible wonder in the cathedral of Orvieto. On approaching a
building of this type, we must abandon our conceptions of organic
architecture: only the Greek and northern Gothic styles deserve that
epithet. We must not seek for severe discipline and architectonic design.
Instead of one presiding, all-determining idea, we must be prepared to
welcome a wealth of separate beauties, wrought out by men of independent
genius, whereby each part is made a masterpiece, and many diverse elements
become a whole of picturesque rather than architectural impressiveness.

It would not be difficult to extend this kind of criticism to the Duomo of
Milan. Speaking strictly, a more unlucky combination of different
styles--the pyramidal façade of Lombard architecture and the long thin
lights of German Gothic, for example--a clumsier misuse of
ill-appropriated details in the heavy piers of the nave, or a more
disastrous adjustment of the monster windows to the main lines of the nave
and aisles, could scarcely be imagined. Yet no other church, perhaps, in
Europe leaves the same impression of the marvellous upon the fancy. The
splendour of its pure white marble, blushing with the rose of evening or
of dawn, radiant in noonday sunlight, and fabulously fairy-like beneath
the moon and stars, the multitudes of statues sharply cut against a clear
blue sky, and gazing at the Alps across that memorable tract of plain, the
immense space and light-irradiated gloom of the interior, the deep tone of
the bells above at a vast distance, and the gorgeous colours of the
painted glass, contribute to a scenical effect unparalleled in

The two styles, Lombard and Gothic, of which I have been speaking, were
both in a certain sense exotic. Within the great cities the pith of the
population was Latin; and no style of building that did not continue the
tradition of the Romans, in the spirit of the Roman manner, and with
strict observance of its details, satisfied them. It was a main feature of
the Renaissance that, when the Italians undertook the task of reuniting
themselves by study with the past, they abandoned all other forms of
architecture, and did their best to create one in harmony with the relics
of Latin monuments. To trace the history of this revived classic
architecture will occupy me later in this chapter; but for the moment it
is necessary to turn aside and consider briefly the secular buildings of
Italy before the date of the Renaissance proper.

About the same time that the cathedrals were being built, the nobles
filled the towns with fortresses. These at first were gaunt and unsightly;
how overcrowded with tall bare towers a mediaeval Italian city could be, is
still shown by San Gemignano, the only existing instance where the
_torroni_ have been left untouched.[15] In course of time, when the
aristocracy came to be fused with the burghers, and public order was
maintained by law in the great cities, these forts made way for spacious
palaces. The temper of the citizens in each place and the local character
of artistic taste determined the specific features of domestic as of
ecclesiastical architecture. Though it is hard to define what are the
social differences expressed by the large quadrangles of Francesco
Sforza's hospital at Milan, and the heavy cube of the Riccardi palace at
Florence, we feel that the _genius loci_ has in each case controlled the
architect. The sunny spaces of the one building, with its terra-cotta
traceries of birds and grapes and Cupids, contrast with the stern brown
mouldings and impenetrable solidity of the other. That the one was raised
by the munificence of a sovereign in his capital, while the other was the
dwelling of a burgher in a city proud of its antique sobriety, goes some
way to explain the difference. In like manner the court-life of a dynastic
principality produced the castle of Urbino, so diverse in its style and
adaptation from the ostentatious mansions of the Genoese merchants. It is
not fanciful to say that the civic life of a free and factious republic is
represented by the heavy walls and narrow windows of Florentine
dwelling-places. In their rings of iron, welded between rock and rock
about the basement, as though for the beginning of a barricade--in their
torch-rests of wrought metal, gloomy portals and dimly-lighted courts, we
trace the habits of caution and reserve that marked the men who led the
parties of Uberti and Albizzi. The Sienese palaces are lighter and more
elegant in style, as belonging to a people proverbially pleasure-loving;
while a still more sumptuous and secure mode of life finds expression in
the open loggie and spacious staircases of Venice. The graceful buildings
which overhang the Grand Canal are exactly fitted for an oligarchy, sure
of its own authority and loved of the people. Feudal despotism, on the
contrary, reigns in the heart of Ferrara, where the Este's stronghold,
moated, draw-bridged, and portcullised, casting dense shadow over the
water that protects the dungeons, still seems to threaten the public
square and overawe the homes of men.

To the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, again, we owe the town halls
and public palaces that form so prominent a feature in the city
architecture of Italy. The central vitality of once powerful States is
symbolised in the _broletti_ of the Lombard cities, dusty and abandoned
now in spite of their clear-cut terra-cotta traceries. There is something
strangely melancholy in their desolation. Wandering through the vast hall
of the Ragione at Padua, where the very shadows seem asleep as they glide
over the wide unpeopled floor, it is not easy to remember that this was
once the theatre of eager intrigues, ere the busy stir of the old burgh
was utterly extinguished. Few of these public palaces have the good
fortune to be distinguished, like that of the Doge at Venice, by
world-historical memories and by works of art as yet unrivalled. The
spirit of the Venetian Republic still lives in that unique building.
Architects may tell us that its Gothic arcades are melodramatic; sculptors
may depreciate the decorative work of Sansovino; painters may assert that
the genius of Titian, Tintoret, and Veronese shines elsewhere with greater
lustre. Yet the poet clings with ever-deepening admiration to the sea-born
palace of the ancient mistress of the sea, and the historian feels that
here, as at Athens, art has made the past towards which he looks eternal.

Two other great Italian houses of the Commonwealth, rearing their towers
above the town for tocsin and for ward, owe immortality to their intrinsic
beauty. These are the Palazzo Pubblico of Siena and the Palazzo Vecchio of
Florence. Few buildings in Europe are more picturesquely fascinating than
the palace of Siena, with its outlook over hill and dale to cloud-capped
Monte Amiata. Yet, in spite of its unparalleled position on the curved and
sloping piazza, where the _contrade_ of Siena have run their _palio_ for
centuries, this palace lacks the vivid interest attaching to the home
Arnolfo raised at Florence for the rulers of his native city. During their
term of office the Priors never quitted the Palace of the Signory. All
deliberations on state affairs took place within its walls, and its bell
was the pulse that told how the heart of Florence throbbed. The architect
of this huge mass of masonry was Arnolfo del Cambio, one of the greatest
builders of the Middle Ages, a man who may be called the Michael Angelo
of the thirteenth century[16]. In 1298 he was ordered to erect a
dwelling-place for the Commonwealth, to the end that the people might be
protected in their fortress from the violence of the nobles. The building
of the palace and the levelling of the square around it were attended with
circumstances that bring forcibly before our minds the stern conditions of
republican life in mediaeval Italy. A block of houses had to be bought from
the family of Foraboschi; and their tower, called Torre della Vacca, was
raised and turned into the belfry of the Priors. There was not room
enough, however, to construct the palace itself with right angles, unless
it were extended into the open space where once had stood the houses of
the Uberti, "traitors to Florence and Ghibellines." In destroying these,
the burghers had decreed that thenceforth for ever the feet of men should
pass where the hearths of the proscribed nobles once had blazed. Arnolfo
begged that he might trespass on this site; but the people refused
permission. Where the traitors' nest had been, there the sacred
foundations of the public house should not be laid. Consequently the
Florentine Palazzo is, was, and will be cramped of its correct

No Italian architect has enjoyed the proud privilege of stamping his own
individuality more strongly on his native city than Arnolfo; and for this
reason it may be permitted to enlarge upon his labours here. When we take
our stand upon the hill of Samminiato, the Florence at our feet owes her
physiognomy in a great measure to this man. The tall tower of the Palazzo
Vecchio, the bulk of the Duomo, and the long low oblong mass of Santa
Croce are all his. His too are the walls that define the city of flowers
from the gardens round about her.[18] Even the master-works of his
successors subordinate their beauty to his first conception. Giotto's
campanile, Brunelleschi's cupola, and Orcagna's church of Orsammichele, in
spite of their undoubted and authentic originality, are placed where he
had planned.

In 1294 the Florentines determined to rebuild their mother-church upon a
scale of unexampled grandeur. The commission given to their architect
displays so strikingly the lordly spirit in which these burghers set about
the work, that, though it has been often quoted, a portion of the document
shall be recited here. "Since the highest mark of prudence in a people of
noble origin is to proceed in the management of their affairs so that
their magnanimity and wisdom may be evinced in their outward acts, we
order Arnolfo, head-master of our commune, to make a design for the
renovation of Santa Reparata in a style of magnificence which neither the
industry nor the power of man can surpass, that it may harmonise with the
opinion of many wise persons in this city and state, who think that this
commune should not engage in any enterprise unless its intention be to
make the result correspond with that noblest sort of heart which is
composed of the united will of many citizens."[19] From Giovanni Villani
we learn what taxes were levied by the Wool-Guild, and set apart in 1331
for the completion of the building. They were raised upon all goods bought
or sold within the city in two separate rates, the net produce amounting
in the first year to 2,000 lire.[20] The cathedral designed by Arnolfo
was of vast dimensions: it covers 84,802 feet, while that of Cologne
covers 81,461 feet; and, says Fergusson, "as far as mere conception of
plan goes, there can be little doubt but that the Florentine cathedral far
surpasses its German rival."[21] Nothing, indeed, can be imagined more
noble than the scheme of this huge edifice. Studying its ground-plan, and
noting how the nave unfolds into a mighty octagon, which in its turn
displays three well-proportioned apses, we are induced to think that a
sublimer thought has never been expressed in stone. At this point,
however, our admiration receives a check. In the execution of the parts
the builder dwarfed what had been conceived on so magnificent a scale;
aiming at colossal simplicity, he failed to secure the multiplicity of
subordinated members essential to the total effect of size. "Like all
inexperienced architects, he seems to have thought that greatness of parts
would add to the greatness of the whole, and in consequence used only four
great arches in the whole length of his nave, giving the central aisle a
width of fifty-five feet clear. The whole width is within ten feet of that
of Cologne, and the height about the same; and yet, in appearance, the
height is about half, and the breadth less than half, owing to the better
proportion of the parts and to the superior appropriateness in the details
on the part of the German cathedral."[22] The truth of these remarks will
be felt by every one on whom the ponderous vacuity of the interior has
weighed. Other notable defects there are too in this building, proceeding
chiefly from the Italian misconception of Gothic style. The windows are
few and narrow, so that little light even at noonday struggles through
them; and broad barren spaces of grey walls oppress the eye. Externally
the whole church is panelled with parti-coloured marbles, according to
Florentine custom; but this panelling bears no relation to the structure:
it is so much surface decoration possessing value chiefly for the
colourist. Arnolfo died before the dome, as he designed it, could be
placed upon the octagon, and nothing is known for certain about the form
he meant it to assume. It seems, however, probable that he intended to
adopt something similar to the dome of Chiaravalle, which ends, after a
succession of narrowing octagons, in a slender conical pyramid.[23]
Subordinate spires would then have been placed at each of the four angles
where the nave and transepts intersect; and the whole external effect, for
richness and variety, would have outrivalled that of any European
building. It is well known that the erection of the dome was finally
entrusted to Brunelleschi in 1420. Arnolfo's church now sustains in air an
octagonal cupola of the simplest possible design, in height and size
rivalling that of S. Peter's. It was thus that the genius of the
Renaissance completed what the genius of the Middle Ages had begun. But in
Italy there was no real break between the two periods. Though Arnolfo
employed the Pointed style in his design, we find nothing genuinely Gothic
in the church. It has no pinnacles, flying buttresses, side chapels, or
subordinate supports. To use the phrase of Michelet, who has chosen the
dramatic episode of Brunelleschi's intervention in the rearing of the dome
for a parable of the Renaissance, "the colossal church stood up simply,
naturally, as a strong man in the morning rises from his bed without the
need of staff or crutch."[24] This indeed is the glory of Italian as
compared with Northern architecture. The Italians valued the strength of
simple perspicuity: all the best works of their builders are geometrical
ideas of the purest kind translated into stone. It is, however, true that
the gain of vast aërial space was hardly sufficient to compensate for the
impression of emptiness they leave upon the senses. We feel this very
strongly when we study the model prepared by Bramante's pupil, Cristoforo
Rocchi, for the cathedral of Pavia; yet here we see the neo-Latin genius
of the Italian artist working freely in an element exactly suited to his
powers. When the same order of genius sought to express its conception
through the language of the Gothic style, the result was invariably

The classical revival of the fifteenth century made itself immediately
felt in architecture; and Brunelleschi's visit to Rome in 1403 may be
fixed as the date of the Renaissance in this art. Gothic, as we have
already seen, was an alien in Italy. Its importation from the North had
checked the free development of national architecture, which in the
eleventh century began at Pisa by a conscious return to classic details.
But the reign of Gothic was destined to be brief. Petrarch and Boccaccio,
as I showed in my last volume, turned the whole intellectual energy of the
Florentines into the channels of Latin and Greek scholarship.[26] The
ancient world absorbed all interests, and the Italians with one will shook
themselves free of the medieval style they never rightly understood, and
which they henceforth stigmatised as barbarous.[27]

The problem that occupied all the Renaissance architects was how to
restore the manner of ancient Rome as far as possible, adapting it to the
modern requirements of ecclesiastical, civic, and domestic buildings. Of
Greek art they knew comparatively nothing: nor indeed could Greek
architecture have offered for their purpose the same plastic elements as
Roman--itself a derived style, admitting of easier adjustment to modern
uses than the inflexibly pure art of Greece. At the same time they
possessed but imperfect fragments of Roman work. The ruins of baths,
theatres, tombs, temple-fronts, and triumphal arches, were of little
immediate assistance in the labour of designing churches and palaces. All
that the architects could do, after familiarising themselves with the
remains of ancient Rome, and assimilating the spirit of Roman art, was to
clothe their own inventions with classic details. The form and structure
of their edifices were modern; the parts were copied from antique models.
A want of organic unity and structural sincerity is always the result of
those necessities under which a secondary and adapted style must labour;
and thus the pseudo-Roman buildings even of the best Renaissance period
display faults similar to those of the Italian Gothic. While they are
remarkable for grandeur of effect in all that concerns the distribution of
light and shade, the covering and enclosing of space, and the disposition
of masses, they show at best but a superficial correspondence between the
borrowed forms and the construction these are used to mask.[28] The
edifices of this period abound in more or less successful shams, in
surface decoration more or less pleasing to the eye; their real greatness,
meanwhile, consists in the feeling for spatial proportions and for linear
harmonies possessed by their architects.

Three periods in the development of Renaissance architecture may be
roughly marked.[29] The first, extending from 1420 to 1500, is the age of
experiment and of luxuriant inventiveness. The second embraces the first
forty years of the sixteenth century. The most perfect buildings of the
Italian Renaissance were produced within this short space of time. The
third, again comprising about forty years, from 1540 to 1580, leads onward
to the reign of mannerism and exaggeration, called by the Italians
_barocco_. In itself the third period is distinguished by a scrupulous
purism bordering upon pedantry, strict adherence to theoretical rules, and
sacrifice of inventive qualities to established canons. To do more than
briefly indicate the masterpieces of these three periods, would be
impossible in a work that does not pretend to treat of architecture
exhaustively: and yet to omit all notice of the builders of this age and
of their styles, would be to neglect the most important art-phase of the
time I have undertaken to illustrate.

In the first period we are bewildered by the luxuriance of creative powers
and by the rioting of the fancy in all forms of beauty indiscriminately
mingled. In general we detect a striving after effects not fully realised,
and a tendency to indulge in superfluous ornament without regard for
strictness of design. The imperfect comprehension of classical models and
the exuberant vivacity of the imagination in the fifteenth century account
for the florid work of this time. Something too is left of mediaeval fancy;
the details borrowed from the antique undergo fantastic transmutation at
the hands of men accustomed to the vehement emotion of the romantic ages.
Whatever the Renaissance took from antique art, it was at first unable to
assimilate either the moderation of the Greeks or the practical sobriety
of the Romans. Christianity had deepened and intensified the sources of
imaginative life; and just as reminiscences of classic style impaired
Italian Gothic, so now a trace of Gothic is perceptible in the would-be
classic work of the Revival. The result of these combined influences was a
wonderful and many-featured hybrid, best represented in one monument by
the façade of the Certosa at Pavia. While characterising the work of the
earlier Renaissance as fused of divers manners, we must not forget that it
was truly living, full of purpose, and according to its own standard
sincere. It was a new birth; no mere repetition of something dead and
gone, but the product of vivid forces stirred to original creativeness by
admiration for the past. It corresponded, moreover, with exquisite
exactitude to the halting of the conscience between Christianity and
Paganism, and to the blent beauty that the poets loved. On reeds dropped
from the hands of dead Pan the artists of this period, each in his, own
sphere, piped ditties of romance.

To these general remarks upon the style of the first period the Florentine
architects offer an exception; and yet the first marked sign of a new era
in the art of building was given at Florence. Purity of taste and firmness
of judgment, combined with scientific accuracy, were always distinctive of
Florentines. To such an extent did these qualities determine their
treatment of the arts that acute critics have been found to tax them--and
in my opinion justly--with hardness and frigidity.[30] Brunelleschi in
1425 designed the basilica of S. Lorenzo after an original but truly
classic type, remarkable for its sobriety and correctness. What he had
learned from the ruins of Rome he here applied in obedience to his own
artistic instinct. S. Lorenzo is a columnar edifice with round arches and
semicircular apses. Not a form or detail in the whole church is strictly
speaking at variance with Roman precedent; and yet the general effect
resembles nothing we possess of antique work. It is a masterpiece of
intelligent Renaissance adaptation. The same is true of S. Spirito, built
in 1470, after Brunelleschi's death, according to his plans. The
extraordinary capacity of this great architect will, however, win more
homage from ordinary observers when they contemplate the Pitti Palace and
the cupola of the cathedral. Both of these are master-works of personal
originality. What is Roman in the Pitti Palace, is the robust simplicity
of massive strength; but it is certain that no patrician of the republic
or the empire inhabited a house at all resembling this. The domestic
habits of the Middle Ages, armed for self-defence, and on guard against
invasion from without, still find expression in the solid bulk of this
forbidding dwelling-place, although its majesty and largeness show that
the reign of milder and more courtly manners has begun. To speak of the
cupola of the Duomo in connection with a simple revival of Roman taste,
would be equally inappropriate. It remains a tour de force of individual
genius, cultivated by the experience of Gothic vault-building, and
penetrated with the greatness of imperial Rome. Its spirit of dauntless
audacity and severe concentration alone is antique.

Almost contemporary with Brunelleschi was Leo Battista Alberti, a
Florentine, who, working upon somewhat different principles, sought more
closely to reproduce the actual elements of Roman architecture.[31] In
his remodelling of S. Francesco at Rimini the type he followed was that of
the triumphal arch, and what was finished of that wonderful façade,
remains to prove how much might have been made of well-proportioned
pilasters and nobly curved arcades.[32] The same principle is carried out
in S. Andrea at Mantua. The frontispiece of this church is a gigantic arch
of triumph; the interior is noticeable for its simple harmony of parts,
adopted from the vaulted baths of Rome. The combination of these antique
details in an imposing structure implied a high imaginative faculty at a
moment when the rules of classic architecture had not been as yet reduced
to method. Yet the weakness of Alberti's principle is revealed when we
consider that here the lofty central arch of the façade serves only for a
decoration. Too high and spacious even for the chariots of a Roman
triumph, it forms an inappropriate entrance to the modest vestibule of a
Christian church.

Like Brunelleschi, Alberti applied his talents to the building of a palace
in Florence that became a model to subsequent architects. The Palazzo
Rucellai retains many details of the mediaeval Tuscan style, especially in
the windows divided by slender pilasters. But the three orders introduced
by way of surface decoration, the doorways, and the cornices, are
transcripts from Roman ruins. This building, one of the most beautiful in
Italy, was copied by Francesco di Giorgio and Bernardo Fiorentino for the
palaces they constructed at Pienza.

This was the age of sumptuous palace-building; and for no purpose was the
early Renaissance style better adapted than for the erection of
dwelling-houses that should match the free and worldly splendour of those
times. The just medium between mediaeval massiveness and classic simplicity
was attained in countless buildings beautiful and various beyond
description. Bologna is full of them; and Urbino, in the Ducal Palace,
contains one specimen unexampled in extent and unique in interest. Yet
here, as in all departments of fine art, Florence takes the lead. After
Brunelleschi and Alberti came Michellozzo, the favourite architect of
Cosimo de' Medici; Benedetto da Majano; Giuliano and Antonio di San Gallo;
and Il Cronaca. Cosimo de' Medici, having said that "envy is a plant no
man should water," denied himself the monumental house designed by
Brunelleschi, and chose instead the modest plan of Michellozzo.
Brunelleschi had meant to build the Casa Medici along one side of the
Piazza di S. Lorenzo; but when Cosimo refused his project, he broke up the
model he had made, to the great loss of students of this age of
architecture. Michellozzo was then commissioned to raise the mighty, but
comparatively humble, Riccardi Palace at the corner of the Via Larga,
which continued to be the residence of the Medici through all their
chequered history, until at last they took possession of the Palazzo
Pitti.[33] The most beautiful of all Florentine dwelling-houses designed
at this period is that which Benedetto da Majano built for Filippo
Strozzi. Combining the burgher-like austerity of antecedent ages with a
grandeur and a breadth of style peculiar to the Renaissance, the Palazzo
Strozzi may be chosen as the perfect type of Florentine domestic
architecture.[34] Other cities were supplied by Florence with builders,
and Milan owed her fanciful Ospedale Maggiore at this epoch to Antonio
Filarete, a Florentine. This great edifice illustrates the emancipation
from fixed rule that distinguishes much of the architecture of the earlier
Renaissance. The detail is not unfrequently Gothic, especially in the
pointed windows; but the feeling of the whole structure, in its airy space
and lightness, delicate terra-cotta mouldings, and open loggie, is truly
Cinque Cento.[35]

In no other style than this of the earlier Renaissance is the builder more
inseparably connected with the decorator. The labours of the stone-carver,
who provided altars chased with Scripture histories in high relief,
pulpits hung against a column of the nave, tombs with canopies and floral
garlands, organ galleries enriched with bas-reliefs of singing boys,
ciboria with kneeling and adoring angels, marble tabernacles for relics,
vases for holy water, fonts and fountains, and all the indescribable
wealth of scrolls and friezes around doors and screens and balustrades
that fence the choir, are added to those of the bronze-founder, with his
mighty doors and pendent lamps, his candelabra sustained by angels,
torch-rests and rings, embossed basements for banners of state, and
portraits of recumbent senators or prelates.[36] The wood carver
contributes _tarsia_ like that of Fra Giovanni da Verona.[37] The worker
in wrought iron welds such screens as guard the chapel of the Sacra
Cintola at Prato. The Robbias prepare their delicately-toned reliefs for
the lunettes above the doorways. Modellers in clay produce the terra-cotta
work of the Certosa, or the carola of angels who surround the little
cupola behind the church of S. Eustorgio at Milan.[38] Meanwhile mosaics
are provided for the dome or let into the floor;[39] agates and marbles
and lapis lazuli are pieced together for altar fronts and panellings;[40]
stalls are carved into fantastic patterns, and heavy roofs are embossed
with figures of the saints and armorial emblems.[41] Tapestry is woven
from the designs of excellent masters;[42] great painters contribute
arabesques of fresco or of stucco mixed with gilding, and glass is
coloured from the outlines of such draughtsmen as Ghiberti.

Some of the decorative elements I have hastily enumerated, will be treated
in connection with the respective arts of sculpture and painting. The
fact, meanwhile, deserves notice that they received a new development in
relation to architecture during the first period of the Renaissance, and
that they formed, as it were, an integral part of its main aesthetical
purpose. Strip a chapel of the fifteenth century of ornamental adjuncts,
and an uninteresting shell is left: what, for instance, would the façades
of the Certosa and the Cappella Colleoni be without their sculptured and
inlaid marbles? The genius of the age found scope in subordinate details,
and the most successful architect was the man who combined in himself a
feeling for the capacities of the greatest number of associated arts. As
the consequence of this profuse expenditure of loving care on every
detail, the monuments of architecture belonging to the earlier Renaissance
have a poetry that compensates for structural defects; just as its wildest
literary extravagances--the _Hypnerotomachia Poliphili_, for
instance--have a charm of wanton fancy and young joy that atones to
sympathetic students for intolerable pedantries.

In the second period the faults of the first group of Renaissance builders
were in a large measure overcome, and their striving after the production
of new yet classic form was more completely realised. The reckless
employment of luxuriant decoration yielded to a chastened taste, without
the sacrifice of beauty or magnificence. Style was refined; the
construction of large buildings was better understood, and the instinct
for what lies within the means of a revived and secondary manner was more

To Bramante must be assigned the foremost place among the architects of
the golden age.[43] Though little of his work survives entire and
unspoiled, it is clear that he exercised the profoundest influence over
both successors and contemporaries. What they chiefly owed to him, was the
proper subordination of beauty in details to the grandeur of simplicity
and to unity of effect. He came at a moment when constructive problems had
been solved, when mechanical means were perfected, and when the sister
arts had reached their highest point. His early training in Lombardy
accustomed him to the adoption of clustered piers instead of single
columns, to semicircular apses and niches, and to the free use of minor
cupolas--elements of design introduced neither by Brunelleschi nor by
Alberti into the Renaissance style of Florence, but which were destined to
determine the future of architecture for all Italy. Nature had gifted
Bramante with calm judgment and refined taste; his sense of the right
limitations of the pseudo-Roman style was exquisite, and his feeling for
structural symmetry was just. If his manner strikes us as somewhat cold
and abstract when compared with the more genial audacities of the earlier
Renaissance, we must remember how salutary was the example of a rigorous
and modest manner in an age which required above all things to be
preserved from its own luxuriant waywardness of fancy. It is hard to say
how much of the work ascribed to Bramante in Northern Italy is genuine;
most of it, at any rate, belongs to the manner of his youth. The Church of
S. Maria della Consolazione at Todi, the palace of the Cancelleria at
Rome, and the unfinished cathedral of Pavia, enable us to comprehend the
general character of this great architect's refined and noble manner. S.
Peter's, it may be said in passing, retains, in spite of all subsequent
modifications, many essentially Bramantesque features--especially in the
distribution of the piers and rounded niches.

Bramante formed no school strictly so called, though his pupils,
Cristoforo Rocchi and Ventura Vitoni, carried out his principles of
building at Pavia and Pistoja. Vitoni's church of the Umiltà in the latter
city is a pure example of conscientious neo-Roman architecture. It
consists of a large octagon surmounted by a dome and preceded by a lofty
vaulted atrium or vestibule. The single round arch of this vestibule
repeats the _testudo_ of a Roman bath, and the decorative details are
accurately reproduced from similar monuments. Unfortunately, Giorgio
Vasari, who was employed to finish the cupola, spoiled its effect by
raising it upon an ugly attic; it is probable that the church, as designed
by Vitoni, would have presented the appearance of a miniature Pantheon. At
Rome the influence of Bramante was propagated through Raphael, Giulio
Romano, and Baldassare Peruzzi. Raphael's claim to consideration as an
architect rests upon the Palazzi Vidoni and Pandolfini, the Cappella Chigi
in S. Maria del Popolo, and the Villa Madama. The last-named building,
executed by Giulio Romano after Raphael's design, is carried out in a
style so forcible as to make us fancy that the pupil had a larger share in
its creation than his teacher. These works, however, sink into
insignificance before the Palazzo del Te at Mantua, the masterpiece of
Giulio's genius. This most noble of Italian pleasure-houses remains to
show what the imagination of a poet-artist could recover from the
splendour of old Rome and adapt to the use of his own age. The vaults of
the Thermae of Titus, with their cameos of stucco and frescoed arabesques,
are here repeated on a scale and with an exuberance of invention that
surpass the model. Open loggie yield fair prospect over what were once
trim gardens; spacious halls, adorned with frescoes in the vehement and
gorgeous style of the Roman school, form a fit theatre for the grand
parade-life of an Italian prince. The whole is Pagan in its pride and
sensuality, its prodigality of strength and insolence of freedom. Having
seen this palace, we do not wonder that the fame of Giulio flew across the
Alps and lived upon the lips of Shakspere: for in his master-work at
Mantua he collected, as it were, and epitomised in one building all that
enthralled the fancy of the Northern nations when they thought of Italy.

A pendant to the Palazzo del Te is the Villa Farnesina, raised on the
banks of the Tiber by Baldassare Peruzzi for his fellow townsman Agostino
Chigi of Siena. It is an idyll placed beside a lyric ode, gentler and
quieter in style, yet full of grace, breathing the large and liberal
spirit of enjoyment that characterised the age of Leo. The frescoes of
Galatea and Psyche, executed by Raphael and his pupils, have made this
villa famous in the annals of Italian painting. The memory of the Roman
banker's splendid style of living marks it out as no less noteworthy in
the history of Renaissance manners.[44]

Among the great edifices of this second period we may reckon Jacopo
Sansovino's buildings at Venice, though they approximate rather to the
style of the earlier Renaissance in all that concerns exuberance of
decorative detail. The Venetians, somewhat behind the rest of Italy in the
development of the fine arts, were at the height of prosperity and wealth
during the middle period of the Renaissance; and no city is more rich in
monuments of the florid style. Something of their own delight in sensuous
magnificence they communicated even to the foreigners who dwelt among
them. The court of the Ducal Palace, the Scuola di S. Rocco, the Palazzo
Corner, and the Palazzo Vendramini-Calergi, illustrate the, strong yet
fanciful _bravura_ style that pleased the aristocracy of Venice. Nowhere
else does the architecture of the Middle Ages melt by more imperceptible
degrees into that of the Revival, retaining through all changes the
impress of a people splendour-loving in the highest sense. The Library of
S. Mark, built by Sansovino in 1536, remains, however, the crowning
triumph of Venetian art. It is impossible to contemplate its noble double
row of open arches without feeling the eloquence of rhetoric so brilliant,
without echoing the judgment of Palladio, that nothing more sumptuous or
beautiful had been invented since the age of ancient Rome.

Time would fail to tell of all the architects who crowd the first half of
the sixteenth century--of Antonio di San Gallo, famous for fortifications;
of Baccio d'Agnolo, who raised the Campanile of S. Spirito at Florence; of
Giovanni Maria Falconetto, to whose genius Padua owed so many princely
edifices; of Michele Sanmicheli, the military architect of Verona, and the
builder of five mighty palaces for the nobles of his native city. Yet the
greatest name of all this period cannot be omitted: Michael Angelo must be
added to the list of builders in the golden age. In architecture, as in
sculpture, he not only bequeathed to posterity masterpieces of individual
energy and original invention, in their kind unrivalled; but he also
prepared for his successors a false way of working, and justified by his
example the extravagances of the decadence. Without noticing the façade
designed for S. Lorenzo at Florence, the transformation of the Baths of
Diocletian into a church, the remodelling of the Capitoline buildings, and
the continuation of the Palazzo Farnese--works that either exist only in
drawings or have been confused by later alterations--it is enough here to
mention the Sagrestia Nuova of S. Lorenzo and the cupola of S. Peter's.
The sacristy may be looked on either as the masterpiece of a sculptor who
required fit setting for his statues, or of an architect who designed
statues to enhance the structure he had planned. Both arts are used with
equal ease, nor has the genius of Michael Angelo dealt more masterfully
with the human frame than with the forms of Roman architecture in this
chapel. He seems to have paid no heed to classic precedent, and to have
taken no pains to adapt the parts to the structural purpose of the
building. It was enough for him to create a wholly novel framework for the
modern miracle of sculpture it enshrines, attending to such rules of
composition as determine light and shade, and seeking by the slightness of
mouldings and pilasters to enhance the terrible and massive forms that
brood above the Medicean tombs. The result is a product of picturesque and
plastic art, as true to the Michaelangelesque spirit as the Temple of the
Wingless Victory to that of Pheidias. But where Michael Angelo achieved a
triumph of boldness, lesser natures were betrayed into bizarrerie; and
this chapel of the Medici, in spite of its grandiose simplicity, proved a
stumbling-block to subsequent architects by encouraging them to despise
propriety and violate the laws of structure. The same may be said with
even greater truth of the Laurentian Library and its staircase. The false
windows, repeated pillars, and barefaced aiming at effect, that mark the
insincerity of the _barocco_ style, are found here almost for the first

What S. Peter's would have been, if Michael Angelo had lived to finish it,
can be imagined from his plans and elevations still preserved. It must
always remain a matter of profound regret that his project was so far
altered as to sacrifice the effect of the dome from the piazza. This dome
is Michael Angelo's supreme achievement as an architect. It not only
preserves all that is majestic in the cupola of Brunelleschi; but it also
avoids the defects of its avowed model, by securing the entrance of
abundant light, and dilating the imagination with the sense of space to
soar and float in. It is the dome that makes S. Peter's what it is--the
adequate symbol of the Church in an age that had abandoned mediaevalism and
produced a new type of civility for the modern nations. On the connection
between the building of S. Peter's and the Reformation I have touched
already.[45] This mighty temple is the shrine of Catholicity, no longer
cosmopolitan by right of spiritual empire, but secularised and limited to
Latin races. At the same time it represents the spirit of a period when
the Popes still led the world as intellectual chiefs. As the decree for
its erection was the last act of the Papacy before the schism of the North
had driven it into blind conflict with advancing culture, so S. Peter's
remains the monument to after ages of a moment when the Roman Church,
unterrified as yet by German rebels, dared to share the mundane impulse of
the classical revival. She had forgotten the catacombs and ruthlessly
destroyed the Basilica of Constantine. By rebuilding the mother church of
Western Christianity upon a new plan, she broke with tradition; and if
Rome has not ceased to be the Eternal City, if all ways are still leading
to Rome, we may even hazard a conjecture that in the last days of their
universal monarchy the Popes reared this fane to be the temple of a spirit
alien to their own. It is at any rate certain that S. Peter's produces an
impression less ecclesiastical, and less strictly Christian, than almost
any of the elder and far humbler churches of Europe. Raised by proud and
secular pontiffs in the heyday of renascent humanism, it seems to wait the
time when the high priests of a religion no longer hostile to science or
antagonistic to the inevitable force of progress will chaunt their hymns
beneath its spacious dome.

The building of S. Peter's was so momentous in modern history, and so
decisive for Italian architecture, that it may be permitted me to describe
the vicissitudes through which the structure passed before reaching
completion. Nicholas V., founder of the secular papacy and chief patron of
the humanistic movement in Rome, had approved a scheme for thoroughly
rebuilding and refortifying the pontifical city.[46] Part of this plan
involved the reconstruction of S. Peter's. The old basilica was to be
removed, and on its site was to rise a mighty church, shaped like a Latin
cross, with a central dome and two high towers flanking the vestibule.
Nicholas died before his project could be carried into effect. Beyond
destroying the old temple of Probus and marking out foundations for the
tribune of the new church, nothing had been accomplished;[47] nor did his
successors until the reign of Julius think of continuing what he had
begun. In 1506, on the 18th of April, Julius laid the first stone of S.
Peter's according to the plans provided by Bramante. The basilica was
designed in the shape of a Greek cross, surmounted by a colossal dome, and
approached by a vestibule fronted with six columns. As in all the works of
Bramante, simplicity and dignity distinguished this first scheme.[48] For
eight years, until his death in 1514, Bramante laboured on the building.
Julius, the most impatient of masters, urged him to work rapidly. In
consequence of this haste, the substructures of the new church proved
insecure, and the huge piers raised to support the cupola were imperfect,
while the venerable monuments contained in the old church were ruthlessly
destroyed.[49] After Bramante's death Giuliano di S. Gallo, Fra Giocondo,
and Raphael successively superintended the construction, each for a short
period. Raphael, under Leo X., was appointed sole architect, and went so
far as to alter the design of Bramante by substituting the Latin for the
Greek cross. Upon his death, Baldassare Peruzzi continued the work, and
supplied a series of new designs, restoring the ground-plan of the church
to its original shape. He was succeeded in the reign of Paul III. by
Antonio di S. Gallo, who once more reverted to the Latin cross, and
proposed a novel form of cupola with flanking towers for the façade, of
bizarre rather than beautiful proportions. After a short interregnum,
during which Giulio Romano superintended the building and did nothing
remarkable, Michael Angelo was called in 1535 to undertake the sole charge
of the edifice. He declared that wherever subsequent architects had
departed from Bramante's project, they had erred. "It is impossible to
deny that Bramante was as great in architecture as any man has been since
the days of the ancients. When he first laid the plan of S. Peter's, he
made it not a mass of confusion, but clear and simple, well lighted, and
so thoroughly detached that it in no way interfered with any portion of
the palace."[50] Having thus pronounced himself in general for Bramante's
scheme, Michael Angelo proceeded to develop it in accordance with his own
canons of taste. He retained the Greek cross; but the dome, as he
conceived it, and the details designed for each section of the building,
differed essentially from what the earlier master would have sanctioned.
Not the placid and pure taste of Bramante, but the masterful and fiery
genius of Buonarroti, is responsible for the colossal scale of the
subordinate parts and variously broken lineaments of the existing church.
In spite of all changes of direction, the fabric of S. Peter's had been
steadily advancing. Michael Angelo was, therefore, able to raise the
central structure as far as the drum of the cupola before his death. His
plans and models were carefully preserved, and a special papal ordinance
decreed that henceforth there should be no deviation from the scheme he
had laid down. Unhappily this rule was not observed. Under Pius V.,
Vignola and Piero Ligorio did indeed continue his tradition; under Gregory
XIII., Sixtus V., and Clement VIII., Giacomo della Porta made no
substantial alterations; and in 1590 Domenico Fontana finished the dome.
But during the pontificate of Paul V., Carlo Maderno resumed the form of
the Latin cross, and completed the nave and vestibule, as they now stand,
upon this altered plan (1614). The consequence is what has been already
noted--at a moderate distance from the church the dome is lost to view; it
only takes its true position of predominance when seen from far. In the
year 1626, S. Peter's was consecrated by Urban VIII., and the mighty work
was finished. It remained for Bernini to add the colonnades of the piazza,
no less picturesque in their effect than admirably fitted for the
pageantry of world-important ceremonial. At the end of the eighteenth
century it was reckoned that the church had cost but little less than
fifty million scudi.

Michael Angelo forms the link between the second and third periods of the
Renaissance. Among the architects of the latter age we have to reckon
those who based their practice upon minute study of antique writers, and
who, more than any of their predecessors, realised the long-sought
restitution of the classic style according to precise scholastic
canons.[51] A new age had now begun for Italy. The glory and the grace of
the Renaissance, its blooming time of beauty, and its springtide of young
strength, were over. Strangers held the reins of power, and the
Reformation had begun to make itself felt in the Northern provinces of
Christendom. A colder and more formal spirit everywhere prevailed. The
sources of invention in the art of painting were dried up. Scholarship had
pined away into pedantic purism. Correct taste was coming to be prized
more highly than originality of genius in literature. Nor did architecture
fail to manifest the operation of this change. The greatest builder of the
period was Andrea Palladio of Vicenza, who combined a more complete
analytical knowledge of antiquity with a firmer adherence to rule and
precedent than even the most imitative of his forerunners. It is useless
to seek for decorative fancy, wealth of detail, or sallies of inventive
genius in the Palladian style. All is cold and calculated in the many
palaces and churches of this master which adorn both Venice and Vicenza;
they make us feel that creative inspiration has been superseded by the
labour of the calculating reason. One great public building of Palladio's,
however--the Palazzo della Ragione at Vicenza--may be cited as, perhaps,
the culminating point of pure Renaissance architecture. In its simple and
heroical arcades, its solid columns, and noble open spaces, the strength
of Rome is realised to the eyes of those who do not penetrate too far
inside the building.[52] Here, and here only, the architectural problem of
the epoch--how to bring the art of the ancients back to life and use
again--was solved according to the spirit and the letter of the past.
Palladio never equalled this, the earliest of all his many works.

In the first half of the sixteenth century the dictatorship of art had
been already transferred from Florence and Rome to Lombardy.[53] The
painters who carried on the great traditions were Venetian. Among the
architects, Palladio was a native of Vicenza; Giacomo Barozzi, the author
of the "Treatise on the Orders," took the name by which he is known from
his birthplace, Vignola; Vincenzo Scamozzi was a fellow-townsman of
Palladio; Galeazzo Alessi, though born at Perugia, spent his life and
developed his talents in Genoa; Andrea Formigine, the palace-builder, was
a Bolognese; Bartolommeo Ammanati alone at Florence exercised the arts of
sculpture and architecture in their old conjunction. Vignola, Palladio's
elder by a few years, displays in his work even more of the scholastically
frigid spirit of the late Renaissance, the narrowing of poetic impulse,
and the dwindling of vitality, that sadden the second half of the
sixteenth century in Italy. Scamozzi, labouring at Venice on works that
Sansovino left unfinished, caught the genial spirit of the old Venetian
style. Alessi, in like manner, at Genoa, felt the influences of a rich and
splendour-loving aristocracy. His church of S. Maria di Carignano is one
of the most successful ecclesiastical buildings of the late Renaissance,
combining the principles of Bramante and Michael Angelo in close imitation
of S. Peter's, and adhering in detail to the canons of the new taste.

These canons were based upon a close study of Vitruvius. Palladio,
Vignola, and Scamozzi were no less ambitious as authors than as
architects;[54] their minute analysis of antique treatises on the art of
construction led to the formation of exact rules for the treatment of the
five classic orders, the proportions of the chief parts used in building,
and the correct method of designing theatres and palaces, church-fronts
and cupolas. Thus architecture in its third Renaissance period passed into

The masters of this age, chiefly through the weight of their authority as
writers, exercised a wider European influence than any of their
predecessors. We English, for example, have given Palladio's name to the
Italian style adopted by us in the seventeenth century. This selection of
one man to represent an epoch was due partly no doubt to the prestige of
Palladio's great buildings in the South, but more, I think, to the
facility with which his principles could be assimilated. Depending but
little for effect upon the arts of decoration, his style was easily
imitated in countries where painting and sculpture were unknown, and where
a genius like Jean Goujon, the Sansovino of the French, has never been
developed. To have rivalled the façade of the Certosa would have been
impossible in London. Yet here Wren produced a cathedral worthy of
comparison with the proudest of the late Italian edifices. Moreover, the
principles of taste that governed Europe in the seventeenth century were
such as found fitter architectural expression in this style than in the
more genial and capricious manner of the earlier periods.

After reviewing the rise and development of Renaissance architecture, it
is almost irresistible to compare the process whereby the builders of this
age learned to use dead forms for the expression of their thoughts, with
the similar process by which the scholars accustomed themselves to Latin
metres and the cadences of Ciceronian periods.[55] The object in each case
was the same--to be as true to the antique as possible, and without
actually sacrificing the independence of the modern mind, to impose upon
it the limitations of a bygone civilisation. At first the enthusiasm for
antiquity inspired architects and scholars alike with a desire to imitate
_per saltum_, and many works of fervid sympathy and pure artistic
intuition were produced. In course of time the laws both of language and
construction were more accurately studied; invention was superseded by
pedantry; after Poliziano and Alberti came Bembo and Palladio. In
proportion as architects learned more about Vitruvius, and scholars
narrowed their taste to Virgil, the style of both became more cramped and
formal. It ceased at last to be possible to express modern ideas freely in
the correct Latinity required by cultivated ears, while no room for
originality, no scope for poetry of invention, remained in the elaborated
method of the architects. Neo-Latin literature dwindled away to nothing,
and Palladio was followed by the violent reactionaries of the _barocco_

In one all-important respect this parallel breaks down. While the labours
of the Latinists subserved the simple process of instruction, by purifying
literary taste and familiarising the modern mind with the masterpieces of
the classic authors, the architects created a new common style for Europe.
With all its defects, it is not likely that the neo-Roman architecture, so
profoundly studied by the Italians, and so anxiously refined by their
chief masters, will ever wholly cease to be employed. In all cases where a
grand and massive edifice, no less suited to purposes of practical
utility than imposing by its splendour, is required, this style of
building will be found the best. Changes of taste and fashion, local
circumstances, and the personal proclivities of modern architects may
determine the choice of one type rather than another among the numerous
examples furnished by Italian masters. But it is not possible that either
Greek or Gothic should permanently take the place assigned to neo-Roman
architecture in the public buildings of European capitals.


[10] The question of the genesis of the Lombard style is one of the most
difficult in Italian art-history. I would not willingly be understood to
speak of Lombard architecture in any sense different from that in which
it is usual to speak of Norman. To suppose that either the Lombards or
the Normans had a style of their own, prior to their occupation of
districts from the monuments of which they learned rudely to use the
decayed Roman manner, would be incorrect. Yet it seems impossible to deny
that both Normans and Lombards in adapting antecedent models added
something of their own, specific to themselves as Northerners. The
Lombard, like the Norman or the Rhenish Romanesque, is the first stage in
the progressive mediaeval architecture of its own district.

[11] I use the term Lombard architecture here, as defined above (p. 31,
note), for the style of building prevalent in Italy during the Lombard
occupation, or just after.

[12] The essential difference between Italy and either Northern France or
England, was that in Italy there existed monuments of Roman greatness,
which could never be forgotten by her architects. They always worked with
at least half of their attention turned to the past: nor had they the
exhilarating sense of free, spontaneous, and progressive invention. This
point has been well worked out by Mr. Street in the last chapter of his
hook on the _Architecture of North Italy_.

[13] Even though it be now proved that not Heinrich von Gmunden, but
Marco Frisone da Campione, not a German, but a Milanese, was the first
architect, this is none the less true about its style.

[14] See Vol. I., _Age of the Despots_, p. 153.

[15] Pavia, it may be mentioned, has still many towers standing, and the
two at Bologna are famous.

[16] Arnolfo was born in 1232 at Colle, in the Val d'Elsa. He was a
sculptor as well as architect, the assistant of Niccola Pisano at Siena,
and the maker of the tomb of Cardinal de Braye at Orvieto. This tomb is
remarkable as the earliest instance of the canopy withdrawn by attendant
angels from the dead man's form, afterwards so frequently adopted by the
Pisan school.

[17] Giov. Villani, viii. 26.

[18] See Milizia, vol. i. p. 135. These walls were not finished till
some, time after Arnolfo's death. They lost their ornament of towers in
the siege of 1529, and they are now being rapidly destroyed.

[19] From Perkins's _Tuscan Sculptors_, vol. i. p. 54. A recent work by
Signor G.J. Cavallucci, entitled _S. Maria del Fiore_, Firenze, 1881, has
created a revolution in our knowledge regarding this church.

[20] Giov. Villani, x. 192.

[21] _Illustrated Handbook of Architecture_, book vi. chap. i.

[22] _Ib._

[23] See Grüner's _Terra Cotta Architecture of North Italy_, plates 3 and

[24] Compare what Alberti says in his preface to the Treatise on
Painting, _Opere_, vol. iv. p. 12. "Chi mai sì duro e sì invido non
lodasse Pippo architetto vedendo quì struttura si grande, erta sopra i
cieli, ampla da coprire con sua ombra tutti i popoli toscani, fatta sanza
alcuno aiuto di travamenti o di copia di legname, quale artificio certo,
se io ben giudico, come a questi tempi era incredibile potersi, così
forse appresso gli antiqui fu non saputo nè conosciuto?"

[25] What the church of S. Petronio at Bologna would have been, if it had
been completed on the scale contemplated, can hardly be imagined. As it
stands, it is immense, and coldly bare in its immensity. Yet the present
church is but the nave of a temple designed with transepts and choir. The
length was to have been 800 feet, the width of the transepts 625, the
dome 183 feet in diameter. A building so colossal in extent, and so
monotonously meagre in conception, could not but have been a failure.

[26] Vol. II., _Revival of Learning_, chap, 1.

[27] The following passage quoted from Milizia, _Memorie degli
Architetti_, Parma, 1781, vol. i. p. 135, illustrates the contemptuous
attitude of Italian critics to Gothic architecture. After describing
Arnolfo's building of the Florentine Duomo, he proceeds: "In questo
Architetto si vide qualche leggiero barlume di buona Architettura, come
di Pittura in Cimabue suo contemporaneo. Ma in tutte le cose e fisiche e
morali i passaggi si fanno per insensibili gradagioni; onde per lungo
tempo ancora si mantenne il corrotto gusto, che si può chiamare

[28] Observe, for example, the casing of a Gothic church at Rimini by
Alberti with a series of Roman arches; or the façade of S. Andrea at
Mantua, where the vast and lofty central arch leads, not into the nave
itself, but into a shallow vestibule.

[29] See Burckhardt, _Cicerone_, vol. i. p. 167.

[30] See De Stendhal, _Histoire de la Peinture en Italie_, p. 122.

[31] For a notice of his life, see Vol. II., _Revival of Learning_, p.

[32] The Arch of Augustus at Rimini was the model followed by Alberti in
this façade. He intended to cover the church with a cupola, as may be
seen from the design on a medal of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta. See too
the letter written by him to Matteo da Bastia, Alberti, _Opere_, vol. iv.
p. 397.

[33] This ancestral palace of the Medici passed in 1659 to the Marchese
Gabriele Riccardi, from the Duke Francesco II.

[34] Von Reumont, _Lorenzo de' Medici_, vol. ii. pp. 187-191, may be
consulted for an interesting account of the building of this Casa Grande
by Filippo Strozzi. The preparations were made with great caution, lest
it should seem that a work too magnificent for a simple citizen was being
undertaken; in particular, Filippo so contrived that the costly _opus
rusticum_ employed in the construction of the basement should appear to
have been forced upon him. This is characteristic of Florence in the days
of Cosimo. The foundation stone was laid in the morning of August 16,
1489, at the moment when the sun arose above the summits of the
Casentino. The hour, prescribed by astrologers as propitious, had been
settled by the horoscope; masses meanwhile were said in several churches,
and alms distributed.

[35] Antonio Filarete, or Averulino, architect and sculptor, was author
of a treatise on the building of the ideal city, one of the most curious
specimens of Renaissance fancy, to judge from the account rendered of the
manuscript by Rio, vol. iii. pp. 321-328.

[36] Matteo Civitale, Benedetto da Majano, Mino da Fiesole, Luca della
Robbia, Donatello, Jacopo della Quercia, Lo Scalza, Omodeo, and the
Sansovini, not to mention less illustrious sculptors, filled the churches
of Italy with this elaborate stone-work. Among the bronze-founders it is
enough to name Ghiberti, Antonio Filarete, Antonio Pollajuolo, Donatello
and his pupil Bertoldo, Andrea Riccio, the master of the candelabrum in
S. Antonio at Padua, Jacopo Sansovino, the master of the door of the
sacristy in S. Mark's at Venice, Alessandro Leopardi, the master of the
standard-pedestals of the Piazza of S. Mark's. I do not mean these lists
to be in any sense exhaustive, but simply to remind the reader of the
rare and many-sided men of genius who devoted their abilities to this
kind of work. Some of their masterpieces will be noticed in detail in the
chapter on Sculpture.

[37] Especially his work at Monte Oliveto, near Siena, and in the church
of Monte Oliveto at Naples. The Sala del Cambio at Perugia may also be
cited as rich in tarsia-work designed by Perugino, while the church of S.
Pietro de' Cassinensi outside the city is a museum of masterpieces
executed by Fra Damiano da Bergamo and Stefano da Bergamo from designs of
Raphael. Not less beautiful are the inlaid wood panels in the Palace of
Urbino, by Maestro Giacomo of Florence.

[38] The churches and palaces of Lombardy are peculiarly rich in this
kind of decoration. The façade of the Oratory of S. Bernardino at
Perugia, designed and executed by Agostino di Duccio, is a masterpiece of
rare beauty in this style.

[39] Not to mention the Renaissance mosaics of S. Mark's at Venice, the
cupola of S. Maria del Popolo at Rome, executed in mosaic by Raphael,
deserves special mention. A work illustrative of this cupola is one of
Ludwig Grüner's best publications.

[40] South Italy and Florence are distinguished by two marked styles in
this decoration of inlaid marbles or _opera di commesso_. Compare the
Medicean chapel in S. Lorenzo, for instance, with the high altar of the
cathedral of Messina.

[41] The roof of the Duomo at Volterra is a fine specimen.

[42] It will not be forgotten that Raphael's cartoons were made for

[43] Bramante Lazzari was born at Castel Durante, near Urbino, in 1444.
He spent the early years of his architect's life in Lombardy, in the
service of Lodovico Sforza, and came probably to Rome upon his patron's
downfall in 1499.

[44] See Vol. I., _Age of the Despots_, p. 342.

[45] See Vol. I., _Age of the Despots_, p. 344. See Gregorovius,
_Geschichte der Stadt Rom_, vol. viii. p. 127, and the quotation there
translated from Pallavicini's _History of the Council of Trent_.

[46] See Vol. I., _Age of the Despots_, pp. 296-298. Vol. II., _Revival
of Learning_, pp. 161-166. For his architectural designs see his Life, by
Manetti, book ii., in Muratori, vol. iii. part ii.

[47] Gregorovius, vol. vii. p. 638.

[48] Besides the great work of Bonanni, _Templi Vaticani Historia_, I may
refer my readers to the atlas volume of _Illustrations, Architectural and
Pictorial, of the Genius of Michael Angelo Buonarroti_, compiled by Mr.
Harford (Colnaghi, 1857). Plates 1 to 7 of that work are devoted to the
plans of S. Peter's. Plate 4 is specially interesting, since it
represents in one view the old basilica and the design of Bramante,
together with those of Antonio di S. Gallo and Michael Angelo.

[49] The subterranean vaults of S. Peter's contain mere fragments of
tombs, some precious as historical records, some valuable as works of
art, swept together pell-mell from the ruins of the old basilica.

[50] See the original letter to Ammanati, published from the Archivio
Buonarroti, by Signor Milanesi, p. 535.

[51] I am far from meaning that the earlier architects had not been
guided by ancient authors. Alberti's _Treatise on the Art of Building_ is
a sufficient proof of their study of Vitruvius, and we know that Fabio
Calvi translated that writer into Italian for Raphael. In the later
Renaissance this study passed into purism.

[52] It must be confessed that this grandiose and picturesque structure
is but a shell to mask an earlier Gothic edifice.

[53] Compare Vol. II., _Revival of Learning_, p. 370, for the same
transference of power in literature from Central to Northern Italy at
this time.

[54] Palladio's _Four Books of Architecture_, first published at Venice
in 1570, and Vignola's _Treatise on the Five Orders_, have been
translated into all the modern languages. Scamozzi projected, and partly
finished, a comprehensive work on _Universal Architecture_, which was
printed in 1685 at Venice.

[55] See Vol. II., _Revival of Learning_, chap. viii.



Niccola Pisano--Obscurity of the Sources for a History of Early Italian
Sculpture--Vasari's Legend of Pisano--Deposition from the Cross at
Lucca--Study of Nature and the Antique--Sarcophagus at Pisa--Pisan
Pulpit--Niccola's School--Giovanni Pisano--Pulpit in S. Andrea at
Pistoja--Fragments of his work at Pisa--Tomb of Benedict XI. at
Perugia--Bas-reliefs at Orvieto--Andrea Pisano--Relation of Sculpture to
Painting--Giotto--Subordination of Sculpture to Architecture in
Italy--Pisano's Influence in Venice--Balduccio of Pisa--Orcagna--The
Tabernacle of Orsammichele--The Gates of the Florentine Baptistery
--Competition of Ghiberti, Brunelleschi, and Della Quercia--Comparison
of Ghiberti's and Brunelleschi's Trial-pieces--Comparison of Ghiberti
and Della Quercia--The Bas-reliefs of S. Petronio--Ghiberti's
Education--His Pictorial Style in Bas-relief--His Feeling for the
Antique--Donatello--Early Visit to Rome--Christian Subjects--Realistic
Treatment--S. George and David--Judith--Equestrian Statue of
Gattamelata--Influence of Donatello's Naturalism--Andrea Verocchio--His
David--Statue of Colleoni--Alessandro Leopardi--Lionardo's Statue of
Francesco Sforza--The Pollajuoli--Tombs of Sixtus IV. and Innocent
VIII.--Luca della Robbia--His Treatment of Glazed Earthenware--Agostino
di Duccio--The Oratory of S. Bernardino at Perugia--Antonio
Rossellino--Matteo Civitali--Mino da Fiesole--Benedetto da
Majano--Characteristics and Masterpieces of this Group--Sepulchral
Monuments--Andrea Contucci's Tombs in S. Maria del Popolo--Desiderio da
Settignano--Sculpture in S. Francesco at Rimini--Venetian
Sculpture--Verona--Guido Mazzoni of Modena--Certosa of Pavia--Colleoni
Chapel at Bergamo--Sansovino at Venice--Pagan Sculpture--Michael Angelo's
Scholars--Baccio Bandinelli--Bartolommeo Ammanati--Cellini--Gian
Bologna--Survey of the History of Renaissance Sculpture.

In the procession of the fine arts, sculpture always follows close upon
the steps of architecture, and at first appears in some sense as her
handmaid. Mediaeval Italy found her Pheidias in a great man of Pisan
origin, born during the first decade of the thirteenth century. It was
Niccola Pisano, architect and sculptor, who first breathed with the breath
of genius life into the dead forms of plastic art. From him we date the
dawn of the aesthetical Renaissance with the same certainty as from
Petrarch that of humanism; for he determined the direction not only of
sculpture but also of painting in Italy. To quote the language of Lord
Lindsay's panegyric: "Neither Dante nor Shakspere can boast such extent
and durability of influence; for whatever of highest excellence has been
achieved in sculpture and painting, not in Italy only but throughout
Europe, has been in obedience to the impulse he primarily gave, and in
following up the principle which he first struck out."[56] In truth,
Niccola Pisano put the artist on the right track of combining the study of
antiquity with the study of nature; and to him belongs the credit not
merely of his own achievement, considerable as that may be, but also of
the work of his immediate scholars and of all who learned from him to
portray life. From Niccola Pisano onward to Michael Angelo and Cellini we
trace one genealogy of sculptors, who, though they carried art beyond the
sphere of his invention, looked back to him as their progenitor. The man
who first emancipated sculpture from servile bondage, and opened a way for
the attainment of true beauty, would by the Greeks have been honoured with
a special cultas as the Hero Eponym of art. It remains for us after our
own fashion to pay some such homage to Pisano.

The chief difficulty with which the student of early art and literature
has to deal, is the insufficiency of positive information. Instead of
accurate dates and well-established facts he finds a legend, rich
apparently in detail, but liable at every point to doubt, and subject to
attack by plausible conjecture. In the absence of contemporary documents
and other trustworthy sources of instruction, he is tempted to substitute
his own hypotheses for tradition and to reconstruct the faulty outlines of
forgotten history according to his own ideas of fitness. The Germans have
been our masters in this species of destructive, dubitative, restorative
criticism; and it is undoubtedly flattering to the historian's vanity to
constitute himself a judge and arbiter in cases where tact and ingenuity
may claim to sift the scattered fragment of confused narration. Yet to
resist this temptation is in many cases a plain and simple duty.
Tradition, when not positively disproved, should be allowed to have its
full value; and a sounder historic sense is exercised in adopting its
testimony with due caution, than in recklessly rejecting it and
substituting guesses which the lack of knowledge renders unsubstantial.
Tradition may err about dates, details, and names. It is just here that
antiquarian research can render valuable help. But there are occasions
when the perusal of documents and the exercise of what is called the
higher criticism afford no surer basis for opinion. If in such cases a
legend has been formed and recorded, the student will advance further
toward comprehending the spirit of his subject by patiently considering
what he knows to be in part perhaps a mythus, than by starting with the
foregone conclusion that the legend must of necessity be worthless, and
that his cunning will suffice to supply the missing clue.[57]

Thus much I have said by way of preface to what follows upon Niccola
Pisano. Almost all we know about him is derived from a couple of
inscriptions, a few contracts, and his Life by Giorgio Vasari. It is clear
that Vasari often wrote with carelessness, confusing dates and places, and
taking no pains to verify the truth of his assertions. Much of Niccola's
biography reads like a legend in his pages--the popular and oral tradition
of a great man, whose panegyric it was more easy in the sixteenth century
to adorn with rhetoric than to chronicle the details of his life with
scrupulous fidelity. A well-founded conviction of Vasari's frequent
inaccuracy has induced recent critics to call in question many hitherto
accepted points about the nationality and training of Pisano. The
discussion, of their arguments I leave for the appendix, contenting myself
at present with relating so much of Vasari's legend as cannot, I think,
reasonably be rejected.[58]

Before the sculptor appeared in Niccola Pisano, he was already a famous
architect; and it must always be remembered that he and his school
subordinated the plastic to the constructive arts. It was not until the
year 1233, or 1237, according to different modern calculations, that he
executed his first masterpiece in sculpture.[59] This was a "Deposition
from the Cross," in high relief, placed in a lunette over one of the side
doors of S. Martino at Lucca. The noble forms of this group, the largeness
of its style, the breadth of drapery and freedom of action it displays,
but, above all, the unity of its design, proclaimed that a new era had
begun for art. In order to appreciate the importance of this relief, it
is only necessary to compare it with the processional treatment of similar
subjects upon early Christian sarcophagi, where each figure stands up
stiff and separate, nor can the controlling and combining artist's thought
be traced in any effort after composition. Ever since the silver age of
Hadrian, when a Bithynian slave by his beauty gave a final impulse to the
Genius of Greece, sculpture had been gradually declining until nothing was
left but a formal repetition of conventional outlines. The so-called
Romanesque and Byzantine styles were but the dotage of second childhood,
fumbling with the methods and materials of an irrecoverable past. It is
true, indeed, that unknown mediaeval carvers had shown an instinct for the
beautiful as well as great fertility of grotesque invention. The façades
of Lombard churches are covered with fanciful and sometimes forcibly
dramatic groups of animals and men in combat; and contemporaneously with
Niccola Pisano, many Gothic sculptors of the North were adorning the
façades and porches of cathedrals with statuary unrivalled in one style of
loveliness.[60] Yet the founder of a line of progressive artists had not
arisen, and, except in Italy, the conditions were still wanting under
which alone the plastic arts could attain to independence. A fresh start,
at once conscious and scientific, was imperatively demanded. This new
beginning sculpture took in the brain of Niccola Pisano, who returned from
the bye-paths of his predecessors to the free field of nature, and who
learned precious lessons from the fragments of classical sculpture
existing in his native town. As though to prove the essential dependence
of the modern revival upon the recovery of antique culture, we find that
his genius, in spite of its powerful originality and profoundly Christian
bias, required the confirmation which could only be derived from
Graeco-Roman precedent. In the Campo Santo at Pisa may still be seen a
sarcophagus representing the story of Hippolytus and Phaedra, where once
reposed the dust of Beatrice, the mother of the pious Countess Matilda of
Tuscany. Studying the heroic nudities and noble attitudes of this
bas-relief, Niccola rediscovered the right way of art--not by merely
copying his model, but by divining the secret of the grand style. His work
at Pisa contains abundant evidence that, while he could not wholly free
himself from the defects of the later Romanesque manner, betrayed by his
choice of short and square-set types, he nevertheless learned from the
antique how to aim at beauty and freedom in his imitation of the living
human form. A marble vase, sculptured with Indian Bacchus and his train of
Maenads, gave him further help. From these grave or graceful classic forms,
satisfied with their own goodliness, and void of inner symbolism, the
Christian sculptor drank the inspiration of Renaissance art. In the
"Adoration of the Magi," carved upon his Pisan pulpit, Madonna assumes the
haughty pose of Theseus' wife; while the high priest, in the
"Circumcision," displays the majesty of Dionysus leaning on the neck of
Ampelus. Nor again is the naked vigour of Hippolytus without its echo in
the figure of the young man--Hercules or Fortitude--upon a bracket of the
same pulpit. These sculptures of Pisano are thus for us a symbol of what
happened in the age of the Revival. The old world and the new shook hands;
Christianity and Hellenism kissed each other. And yet they still remained
antagonistic--fused externally by art, but severed in the consciousness
that, during those strange years of dubious impulse, felt the might of
both. Monks leaning from Pisano's pulpit preached the sinfulness of
natural pleasure to women whose eyes were fixed on the adolescent beauty
of an athlete. Not far off was the time when Filarete should cast in
bronze the legends of Ganymede and Leda for the portals of S. Peter's,
when Raphael should mingle a carnival of more than pagan sensuality with
Bible subjects in Leo's Loggie, when Guglielmo della Porta should place
the naked portrait of Giulia Bella in marble at the feet of Paul III. upon
his sepulchre.[61]

Niccola, meanwhile, did not follow his Roman models in any slavish spirit.
They were neither numerous nor excellent enough to compel blind imitation
or to paralyse inventive impulse. The thoughts to be expressed in marble
by the first modern artist were not Greek. This in itself saved him from
that tendency to idle reproduction which proved the ruin of the later
neo-pagan sculptors. Yet the fragments of antique work he found within his
reach, helped him to struggle after a higher quality of style, and
established standards of successful treatment. For the rest, his choice of
form and the proportions of his figures show that Niccola resorted to
native Tuscan models. If nothing of his handiwork were left but the
bas-relief of the "Inferno" on the Pisan pulpit, the torsos of the men
struggling with demons in that composition would prove this point. It
remains his crowning merit to have first expressed the mythology of
Christianity and the sentiment of the Middle Ages with the conscious aim
of a real artist. And here it may be noticed that, a true Italian, he
infused but little of intense or mystical emotion into his art. Niccola is
more of a humanist, if this word may be applied to a sculptor, than some
of his immediate successors. The hexagonal pulpit in the Baptistery of
Pisa, the octagonal pulpit in the cathedral of Siena, the fountain in the
marketplace of Perugia, and the shrine of S. Dominic at Bologna, all of
them designed and partly finished between 1260 and 1274 by Niccola and his
scholars, display his mastery over the art of sculpture in the maturity of
his genius. So highly did the Pisans prize their fellow-townsman's pulpit
that a law was passed and guardians were appointed for its
preservation--much in the same way as the Zeus of Pheidias was consigned
to the care of the Phaidruntai.

Niccola Pisano founded a school. His son Giovanni, and the numerous pupils
employed upon the monuments just mentioned at Siena, Bologna, and Perugia,
carried on the tradition of their master, and spread his style abroad
through Italy. Giovanni Pisano, to whom we owe the Spina Chapel and the
Campo Santo at Pisa, the façade of the Sienese Duomo, and the altar-shrine
of S. Donato at Arezzo--four of the purest works of Gothic art in
Italy--showed a very decided leaning to the vehement and mystic style of
the Transalpine sculptors. We trace a dramatic intensity in Giovanni's
work, not derived from his father, not caught from study of the antique,
and curiously blended with the general characteristics of the Pisan
school. In spite of the Gothic cusps introduced by Niccola into his
pulpits, the spirit of his work remained classical. The young Hercules
holding the lion's cub in his right hand upon his shoulder, while with his
left he tames the raging lioness, has the true Italian instinct for a
return to Latin style. The same sympathy with the past is observable in
the self-restraint and comparative coldness of the bas-reliefs at Pisa.
The Junonian attitude of Madonna, the senatorial dignity of Simeon, the
ponderous folding of the drapery, and the massive carriage of the neck
throughout, denote an effort to revivify an antique manner. What,
therefore, Niccola effected for sculpture was a classical revival in the
very depth of the Middle Ages. The case is different with his son
Giovanni. Profiting by the labours of his father, and following in his
footsteps, he carried the new art into another region, and brought a
genius of more picturesque and forcible temper into play. The value of
this new direction given to sculpture for the arts of Italy, especially
for painting, cannot be exaggerated. Without Giovanni's intervention, the
achievement of Niccola might possibly have been as unproductive of
immediate results as the Tuscan Romanesque, that mediaeval effort after the
Renaissance, was in architecture.[62]

The Gothic element, so cautiously adopted by Niccola, is used with
sympathy and freedom by his son, whose masterpiece, the pulpit of S.
Andrea at Pistoja, might be selected as the supreme triumph of Italian
Gothic sculpture. The superiority of that complex and consummate work of
plastic art over the pulpit of the Pisan Baptistery, in all the most
important qualities of style and composition, can scarcely be called in
question. Its only serious fault is an exaggeration of the height of the
pillars in proportion to the size of the hexagon they support. Like the
pulpits of the Baptistery, of the Duomo of Pisa, and of the Duomo of
Siena, it combines bas-reliefs and detached statues, carved capitals, and
sculptured lions, in a maze of marvellous invention; but it has no rival
in the architectonic effect of harmony, and the masterly feeling for
balanced masses it displays. The five subjects chosen by Giovanni for his
bas-reliefs are the "Nativity," the "Adoration of the Magi," the "Massacre
of the Innocents," the "Crucifixion," and the "Last Judgment." In the
"Nativity" our Lady is no longer the Roman matron of Niccola's conception,
but a graceful mother, young in years, and bending with the weakness of
childbirth. Her attitude, exquisite by the suggestion of tenderness and
delicacy, is one that often reappears in the later work of the Pisan
school--for example, in the rough _abozzamento_ in the Campo Santo at
Pisa, above the north door of the Duomo at Lucca, and at Orvieto on the
façade of the cathedral; but it has nowhere else been treated with the
same sense of beauty. The "Massacre of the Innocents," compared with this
relief, is a tragedy beside an idyll. Here the whole force of Giovanni's
eminently dramatic genius comes into full play. Not only has he treated
the usual incidents of mothers struggling with soldiers and bewailing
their dead darlings, but he has also introduced a motive, which might well
have been used by subsequent artists in dealing with the same subjects.
Herod is throned in one corner of the composition; before him stand a
group of men and women, some imploring the tyrant for mercy, some defying
him in impotent despair, and some invoking the curse of God upon his head.
In the "Adoration of the Magi," again, Giovanni shows originality by the
double action he has chosen to develop. On one side the kings are
sleeping, while an angel comes to wake them, pointing out the star. On the
other side they fall at the feet of the Madonna. It will be gathered even
from these bare descriptions that Giovanni introduced a stir of life and
movement, and felt his subjects with a poetic intensity, alien to the
ideal of Graeco-Roman sculpture. He effected a fusion between the grand
style revived by Niccola and the romantic fervour of the modern
imagination. It was in this way that the tradition handed down by him
proved inestimably serviceable to the painters.

The bas-reliefs, however, by no means form the chief attraction of this
pulpit. At each of its six angles stand saints, evangelists, and angels,
whose symbolism it is not now so easy to decipher. The most beautiful
groups are a company of angels blowing the judgment trumpets, and a winged
youth standing above a winged lion and bull. These groups separate the
several compartments of the bas-reliefs, and help to form the body of the
pulpit. Beneath, on capital's of the supporting pillars, stand the Sibyls,
each with her attendant genius, while prophets lean or crouch within the
spandrils of the arches. Thus every portion of this master-work is crowded
with figures--some detached, some executed in relief; and yet, amid so
great a multitude, the eye is not confused; the total effect is nowhere
dissipated. The whole seems governed by one constructive thought,
projected as a perfect unity of composition.[63]

A later work of Giovanni Pisano was the pulpit executed for the cathedral
of Pisa, now unfortunately broken up. An interesting fragment, one of the
supporting columns of the octagon which formed the body of this structure,
still exists in the museum of the Campo Santo. It is an allegorical statue
of Pisa. The Ghibelline city is personified as a crowned woman, suckling
children at her breast, and standing on a pedestal supported by the eagle
of the Empire. She wears a girdle of rope seven times knotted, to betoken
the rule of Pisa over seven subject islands. At the four corners of her
throne stand the four human virtues, Prudence, Temperance, Justice, and
Fortitude, distinguished less by beauty of shape than by determined energy
of symbolism. Temperance is a naked woman, with hair twisted in the knots
and curls of a Greek Aphrodite. Justice is old and wrinkled, clothed with
massive drapery, and holding in her hand the scales. Throughout this
group there is no attempt to realise forms pleasing to the eye; the
sculptor has aimed at suggesting to the mind as many points of
intellectual significance as possible. In spite of ugliness and hardness,
the "Allegory of Pisa" commands respect by vigour of conception, and
rivets attention by force of execution.

A more popular and pleasing monument by Giovanni Pisano is the tomb of
Benedict XI. in the church of S. Domenico at Perugia. The Pope, whose life
was so obnoxious to the ambition of Philip le Bel that his timely death
aroused suspicion of poison, lies asleep upon his marble bier with hands
crossed in an attitude of peaceful expectation.[64] At his head and feet
stand angels drawing back the curtains that would else have shrouded this
last slumber of a good man from the eyes of the living.[65] A contrast is
thus established between the repose of the dead and the ever-watchful
activity of celestial ministers. Sleep so guarded, the sculptor seeks to
tell us, must have glorious waking; and when those hands unfold upon the
Resurrection morning, the hushed sympathy of the attendant angels will
break into smiles and singing, as they lead the just man to the Lord he
served in life.

Whether Giovanni Pisano had any share in the sculpture on the façade of
the cathedral at Orvieto, is not known for certain. Vasari asserts that
Niccola and his pupils worked upon this series of bas-reliefs, setting
forth the whole Biblical history and the cycle of Christian beliefs from
the creation of the world to the last judgment. Yet we know that Niccola
himself died at least twelve years before the foundation of the church in
1290; nor is there any proof that his immediate scholars were engaged upon
the fabric. The Orvietan archives are singularly silent with regard to a
monument of so large extent and vast importance, which must have taxed to
the uttermost the resources of the ablest stone-carvers in Italy.[66]
Meanwhile, what Vasari says is valuable only as a witness to the fame of
Niccola Pisano. His manner, as continued and developed by his school, is
unmistakable at Orvieto: but in the absence of direct information, we are
left to conjecture the conditions under which this, the closing if not the
crowning achievement of thirteenth-century sculpture, was produced.

When the great founder of Italian art visited Siena in 1266 for the
completion of his pulpit in the Duomo, he found a guild of sculptors, or
_taglia-pietri_, in that city, numbering some sixty members, and governed
by a rector and three chamberlains. Instead of regarding Niccola with
jealousy, these craftsmen only sought to learn his method. Accordingly it
seems that a new impulse was given to sculpture in Siena; and famous
workmen arose who combined this art with that of building. The chief of
these was Lorenzo Maitani, who died in 1330, having designed and carried
to completion the Duomo of Orvieto during his lifetime.[67] While engaged
in this great undertaking, Maitani directed a body of architects,
stone-carvers, bronze-founders, mosaists, and painters, gathered together
into a guild from the chief cities of Tuscany. It cannot be proved that
any of the Pisani, properly so called, were among their number. Lacking
evidence to the contrary, we must give to Maitani, the master-spirit of
the company, full credit for the sculpture carried out in obedience to his
general plan. As the church of S. Francis at Assisi formed an epoch in the
history of painting, by concentrating the genius of Giotto on a series of
masterpieces, so the Duomo of Orvieto, by giving free scope to the school
of Pisa, marked a point in the history of sculpture. It would be difficult
to find elsewhere even separate works of greater force and beauty
belonging to this, the first or architectural, period of Italian
sculpture; and nowhere has the whole body of Christian belief been set
forth with method more earnest and with vigour more sustained.[68] The
subjects selected by these unknown craftsmen for illustration in marble,
are in many instances the same as those afterwards painted in fresco by
Michael Angelo and Raphael at Borne. Their treatment, for example, of the
creation of Adam and Eve, adopted in all probability from still earlier
and ruder workmen, after being refined by the improvements of successive
generations, may still be observed in the triumphs of the Sistine Chapel
and the Loggie.[69] It was the practice of Italian artists not to seek
originality by diverging from the traditional modes of presentation, but
to prove their mastery by rendering these as perfect and effective as the
maturity of art could make them. For the Italians, as before them for the
Greeks, plagiarism was a word unknown, in all cases where it was possible
to improve upon the invention of less fortunate predecessors. The student
of art may, therefore, now enjoy the pleasure of tracing sculpturesque or
pictorial motives from their genesis in some rude fragment to their final
development in the master-works of a Lionardo or a Raphael, where
scientific grouping of figures, higher idealisation of style, the
suggestion of freer movement, and more varied dramatic expression yield at
last the full flower that the simple germ enfolded.

Among the most distinguished scholars of Niccola Pisano's tradition must
now be mentioned Andrea da Pontadera, called Andrea Pisano, who carried
the manner of his master to Florence, and helped to fulfil the destiny of
Italian sculpture by submitting it to the rising art of painting. Under
the direction of Giotto he carved statues for the Campanile and the façade
of S. Maria del Fiore; and in the first gate of the Baptistery, he
bequeathed a model of bas-relief in bronze, which largely influenced the
style of masters in the fifteenth century. To overpraise the simplicity
and beauty of design, the purity of feeling, and the technical excellence
of Andrea's bronze-work, would be difficult. Many students will always be
found to prefer his self-restraint and delicacy to the more florid manner
of Ghiberti.[70] What we chiefly observe in this gate is the control
exercised by the sister art of painting over his mode of conception and
treatment. If Giovanni Pisano developed the dramatic and emphatic
qualities of Gothic sculpture, Andrea was attracted to its allegories; if
Giovanni infused romantic vehemence of feeling into the frigid classicism
of his father, Andrea diverged upon another track of picturesque
delineation. A new sun had now arisen in the heavens of art. This was the
sun of Giotto, whose genius, eminently pictorial, brought the Italians to
a true sense of their aesthetical vocation, illuminating with its
brightness the elder and more technically finished craft of the
stone-carver. Sculpture, which in the school of Niccola Pisano had been
subordinate to architecture, became a sub-species of painting in the hands
of Andrea.

It was thus, as I have elsewhere stated, that the twofold doom of plastic
art in Italy was accomplished. In order to embody the ideas of
Christianity, art had to think more of expression than of pure form.
Expression is the special sphere of painting; and therefore sculpture
followed the lead of the sister art, as soon as painting was strong enough
to give that lead, instead of remaining, as in Greece, the mistress of her
own domain. On the deeper reasons for this subordination of sculpture to
painting I have dwelt already, while showing that a large class of
subjects, where physical qualities are comparatively indifferent and of no
account, were forced upon the artist by Christianity.[71] Humility and
charity may be found alike in blooming youth or in ascetic age; nor is it
possible to characterize saints and martyrs by those corporeal
characteristics which distinguish a runner from a boxer, or a chaste
huntress from a voluptuous queen of love. Italian sculpture abandoned the
presentation of the naked human body as useless. The emotions written on
the face became of more importance than the modelling of the limbs, and
recourse was had to allegorical symbols or emblematic attitudes for the
interpretation of the artist's thought. Andrea Pisano's figure of Hope,
raising hands and eyes toward an offered crown, seems but a repetition of
the motive expressed by Giotto in the chiaroscuro frescoes of the Arena
chapel.[72] Owing to similar causes, drapery, which in Greece had served
to illustrate the structure or the movement of the body it clothed, was
used by the Italian sculptors to conceal the limbs, and to enhance by
flowing skirt or sinuous fold or agitated scarf some quality of the
emotions. The result was that sculpture assumed a place subordinate to
painting, and that the masterpieces of the early Italian carvers are
chiefly bas-reliefs--pictures in bronze or marble.[73]

In a like degree, though not for the same reason, sculpture in Italy
remained subordinate to architecture, until such time as the neo-Hellenism
of the full Renaissance produced a crowd of pseudo-classic statues,
destined to take their places--not in churches, but in the courtyards of
palaces and on the open squares of cities. The cause of this fact is not
far to seek. In ancient Greece the temple had been erected for the god,
and the statue dwelt within the cella like a master in his house.
Christianity forbade an image of the living God; consequently the Church
had another object than to roof the statue of a deity. It was the
meeting-place of a congregation bent on worshipping Him who dwells not in
houses made with hands, and whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain. The
vast spaces and aërial arcades of mediaeval architecture had their meaning
in relation to the mystic apprehension of an unseen power. It followed of
necessity that the carved work destined to decorate a Christian temple
could never be the main feature of the building. It existed for the
Church, and not the Church for it.[74]

Through Andrea Pisano the style of Niccola was extended to Venice. There
is reason to believe that he instructed Filippo Calendario, to whom we
should ascribe the sculptured corners of the Ducal Palace. Venice,
however, invariably exercised her own controlling influence over the arts
of aliens; so we find a larger, freer, richer, and more mundane treatment
in these splendid carvings than in aught produced by Pisan workmen for
their native towns of Tuscany.

Nino, the sculptor of the "Madonna della Rosa," the chief ornament of the
Spina chapel, and Tommaso, both sons of Andrea da Pontadera, together with
Giovanni Balduccio of Pisa, continued the traditions of the school founded
by Niccola. Balduccio, invited by Azzo Visconti to Milan, carved the
shrine of S. Peter Martyr in the church of S. Eustorgio, and impressed his
style on Matteo da Campione, the sculptor of the shrine of S. Augustine at
Pavia.[75] These facts, though briefly stated, are not without
significance. Travellers who have visited the churches of Pavia and Milan,
after studying the shrine, or _arca_ as Italians call it, of S. Dominic at
Bologna, must have noticed the ascendency of Pisan style in these three
Lombard towns, and have felt how widely Niccola's creative genius was
exercised. Traces of the same influence may perhaps be observed in the
tombs of the Scaligers at Verona.[76]

The most eminent pupil of Andrea Pisano, however, was a Florentine--the
great Andrea Arcagnuolo di Cione, commonly known as Orcagna. This man,
like the more illustrious Giotto, was one among the earliest of those
comprehensive, many-sided natures produced by Florence for her everlasting
glory. He studied the goldsmith's craft under his father, Cione, passing
the years of his apprenticeship, like other Tuscan artists, in the
technical details of an industry that then supplied the strictest method
of design. With his brother, Bernardo, he practised painting. Like Giotto,
he was no mean poet;[77] and like all the higher craftsmen of his age, he
was an architect. Though the church of Orsammichele owes its present form
to Taddeo Gaddi, Orcagna, as _capo maëstro_ after Gaddi's death, completed
the structure; and though the Loggia de' Lanzi, long ascribed to him by
writers upon architecture, is now known to be the work of Benci di Cione,
yet Orcagna's Loggia del Bigallo, more modest but not less beautiful,
prepared the way for its construction. Of his genius as a painter, proved
by the frescoes in the Strozzi chapel, I shall have to speak hereafter. As
a sculptor he is best known through the tabernacle of Orsammichele, built
to enshrine the picture of the Madonna by Ugolino da Siena.[78]

In this monument Orcagna employed carved bas-reliefs and statuettes,
intaglios and mosaics, incrustations of agates, enamels, and gilded glass
patterns, with a sense of harmony so refined, and a mastery over each kind
of workmanship so perfect, that the whole tabernacle is an epitome of the
minor arts of mediaeval Italy. The subordination of sculpture to
architectural effect is noticeable; and the Giottesque influence appears
even more strongly here than in the gate of Andrea Pisano. This influence
Orcagna received indirectly through his master in stone carving; it
formed, indeed, the motive force of figurative art during his lifetime.
The subjects of the "Annunciation," the "Nativity," the "Marriage of the
Virgin," and the "Adoration of the Three Kings," framed in octagonal
mouldings at the base of the tabernacle, illustrate the domination of a
spirit distinct both from the neo-Romanism of Niccola and the Gothicism of
Giovanni Pisano. That spirit is Florentine in a general sense, and
specifically Giottesque. Charity, again, with a flaming heart in her hand,
crowned with a flaming brazier, and suckling a child, is Giottesque not
only in allegorical conception but also in choice of type and treatment of

While admiring the tabernacle of Orsammichele, we are reminded that
Orcagna was a goldsmith to begin with, and a painter. Sculpture he
practised as an accessory. What the artists of Florence gained in delicacy
of execution, accuracy of modelling, and precision of design by their
apprenticeship to the goldsmith's trade, was hardly perhaps sufficient to
compensate for loss of training in a larger style. It was difficult, we
fancy, for men so educated to conceive the higher purposes of sculpture.
Contented with elaborate workmanship and beauty of detail, they failed to
attain to such independence of treatment as may be reached by sculptors
who do not carry to their work the preconceptions of a narrower
handicraft. Thus even Orcagna's masterpiece may strike us not as the
plaything of a Pheidian genius condescending for once to "breathe through
silver," but of a consummate goldsmith taxing the resources of his craft
to form a monumental jewel.[79]

The façade of Orvieto was the final achievement of the first or
architectural period of Italian sculpture. Giotto, Andrea Pisano, and
Orcagna, formed the transition to the second period. To find one
characteristic title for the style of the fifteenth century is not easy,
since it was marked by many distinct peculiarities. If, however, we
choose to call it pictorial, we shall sufficiently mark the quality of
some eminent masters, and keep in view the supremacy of painting at this
epoch. A great public enterprise at Florence brings together in honourable
rivalry the chief craftsmen of the new age, and marks the advent of the
Renaissance. When the Signory, in concert with the Arte de' Mercanti,
decided to complete the bronze gates of the Baptistery in the first year
of the fifteenth century, they issued a manifesto inviting the sculptors
of Italy to prepare designs for competition. Their call was answered by
Giacomo della Quercia of Siena, by Filippo Brunelleschi and Lorenzo di
Cino Ghiberti of Florence, and by two other Tuscan artists of less note.
The young Donatello, aged sixteen, is said to have been consulted as to
the rival merits of the proofs submitted to the judges. Thus the four
great masters of Tuscan art in its prime met before the Florentine
Baptistery.[80] Giacomo della Quercia was excluded from the competition at
an early stage; but the umpires wavered long between Ghiberti and
Brunelleschi, until the latter, with notable generosity, feeling the
superiority of his rival, and conscious perhaps that his own laurels were
to be gathered in the field of architecture, withdrew his claim. In 1403,
Ghiberti received the commission for the first of the two remaining gates.
He afterwards obtained the second; and as they were not finished until
1452, the better part of his lifetime was spent upon them. He received in
all a sum of 30,798 golden florins for his labour and the cost of the
material employed.

The trial-pieces prepared by Brunelleschi and Ghiberti are now preserved
in the Bargello.[81] Their subject is the "Sacrifice of Isaac;" and a
comparison of the two leaves no doubt of Ghiberti's superiority. The
faults of Brunelleschi's model are want of repose and absence of
composition. Abraham rushes in a frenzy of murderous agitation at his son,
who writhes beneath the knife already at his throat. The angel swoops from
heaven with extended arms, reaching forth one hand to show the ram to
Abraham, and clasping the patriarch's wrist with the other. The ram
meanwhile is scratching his nose with his near hind leg; one of the
servants is taking a thorn from his foot, while the other fills a cup from
the stream at which the ass is drinking. Thus each figure has a separate
uneasy action. Those critics who contend that the unrest of
sixteenth-century sculpture was due to changes in artistic and religious
feeling wrought by the Renaissance, would do well to examine this plate,
and see how much account must be taken of the artist's temperament in
forming their opinion. Brunelleschi adhered to the style and taste of the
fifteenth century at its commencement; but the too fervid quality of his
character impaired his work as a sculptor. Ghiberti, on the other hand,
translated the calm of his harmonious nature into his composition. The
angel leans from heaven and points to the ram, which is seated quietly and
out of sight of the main actors. Isaac kneels in the attitude of a
submissive victim, though his head is turned aside, as if attracted by the
rush of pinions through the air; while Abraham has but just lifted his
hand, and the sacrifice is only suggested as a possibility by the naked
knife. The two servants are grouped below in conversation, one on each
side of the browsing ass. This power of telling a story plainly, but
without dramatic vehemence; of eliminating the painful details of the
subject, and combining its chief motives into one agreeable whole, gave
peculiar charm to Ghiberti's manner. It marked him as an artist
distinguished by good taste.

How Delia Quercia treated the "Sacrifice of Isaac" we do not know. His
bas-reliefs upon the façade of S. Petronio at Bologna, and round the font
of S. John's Chapel in the cathedral of Siena, enable us, however, to
compare his style with that of Ghiberti in the handling of a subject
common to both, the "Creation of Eve."[82] There is no doubt but that
Della Quercia was a formidable rival. Had the gates of the Baptistery been
entrusted to his execution, we might have possessed a masterpiece of more
heroic style. While smoothness and an almost voluptuous suavity of outline
distinguish Ghiberti's naked Eve, gliding upheld by angels from the side
of Adam at her Maker's bidding, Della Quercia's group, by the
concentration of robust and rugged power, anticipates the style of Michael
Angelo. Ghiberti treats the subject pictorially, placing his figures in a
landscape, and lavishing attendant angels. Della Quercia, in obedience to
the stricter laws of sculpture, restrains his composition to the three
chief persons, and brings them into close connection. While Adam reclines
asleep in a beautiful and highly studied attitude, Eve has just stepped
forth behind him, and God stands robed in massive drapery, raising His
hand as though to draw her into life. There is, perhaps, an excess of
dramatic action in the lifted right leg of Eve, and too much of pantomimic
language in the expressive hands of Eve and her Creator. The robe, again,
in its voluminous and snaky coils, and the triangular nimbus of the Deity,
convey an effect of heaviness rather than of majesty. Yet we feel, while
studying this composition, that it is a noble and original attempt,
falling but little short of supreme accomplishment. Without this
antecedent sketch, Michael Angelo might not have matured the most complete
of all his designs in the Sistine Chapel. The similarity between Delia
Quercia's bas-relief and Buonarroti's fresco of Eve is incontestable. The
young Florentine, while an exile in Bologna, and engaged upon the shrine
of S. Dominic, must have spent hours of study before the sculptures of S.
Petronio; so that this seed of Della Quercia's sowing bore after many
years the fruit of world-renowned achievement in Rome.

Two other memorable works of Della Quercia must be parenthetically
mentioned. These are the Fonte Gaja on the public square of Siena, now
unhappily restored, and the portrait of Ilaria del Carretto on her tomb in
the cathedral of Lucca. The latter has long been dear to English students
of Italian art through words inimitable for their strength of sympathetic

Ghiberti was brought up as a goldsmith by his stepfather, and it is said
that while a youth he spent much of his leisure in modelling portraits and
casting imitations of antique gems and coins for his friends. At the same
time he practised painting. We find him employed in decorating a palace at
Rimini for Carlo Malatesta, when his stepfather recalled him to Florence,
in order that he might compete for the gate of the Baptistery. It is
probable that from this early training Ghiberti derived the delicacy of
style and smoothness of execution that are reckoned among the chief merits
of his work. He also developed a manner more pictorial than sculpturesque,
which justifies our calling him a painter in bronze. When Sir Joshua
Reynolds remarked, "Ghiberti's landscape and buildings occupied so large a
portion of the compartments, that the figures remained but secondary
objects,"[84] his criticism might fairly have been taxed with some
injustice even to the second of the two gates. Yet, though exaggerated in
severity, his words convey a truth important for the understanding of this
period of Italian art.

The first gate may be cited as the supreme achievement of bronze-casting
in the Tuscan prime. In the second, by the introduction of elaborate
landscapes and the massing together of figures arranged in multitudes at
three and sometimes four distances, Ghiberti overstepped the limits that
separate sculpture from painting. Having learned perspective from
Brunelleschi, he was eager to apply this new science to his own craft, not
discerning that it has no place in noble bas-relief. He therefore
abandoned the classical and the early Tuscan tradition, whereby reliefs,
whether high or low, are strictly restrained to figures arranged in line
or grouped together without accessories. Instead of painting frescoes, he
set himself to model in bronze whole compositions that might have been
expressed with propriety in colour. The point of Sir Joshua's criticism,
therefore, is that Ghiberti's practice of distributing figures on a small
scale in spacious landscape framework was at variance with the severity of
sculptural treatment. The pernicious effect of his example may be traced
in much Florentine work of the mid Renaissance period which passed for
supremely clever when it was produced. What the unique genius of Ghiberti
made not merely pardonable but even admirable, became under other hands no
less repulsive than the transference of pictorial effects to painted

That Ghiberti was not a great sculptor of statues is proved by his work at
Orsammichele. He was no architect, as we know from his incompetence to do
more than impede Brunelleschi in the building of the dome. He came into
the world to create a new and inimitable style of hybrid beauty in those
gates of Paradise. His susceptibility to the first influences of the
classical revival deserves notice here, since it shows to what an extent a
devotee of Greek art in the fifteenth century could worship the relics of
antiquity without passing over into imitation. When the "Hermaphrodite"
was discovered in the vineyard of S. Celso, Ghiberti's admiration found
vent in exclamations like the following: "No tongue could describe the
learning and art displayed in it, or do justice to its masterly style."
Another antique, found near Florence, must, he conjectures, have been
hidden out of harm's way by "some gentle spirit in the early days of
Christianity." "The touch only," he adds, "can discover its beauties,
which escape the sense of sight in any light."[86] It would be impossible
to express a reverential love of ancient art more tenderly than is done in
these sentences. So intense was Ghiberti's passion for the Greeks, that he
rejected Christian chronology and reckoned by Olympiads--a system that has
thrown obscurity over his otherwise precious notes of Tuscan artists. In
spite of this devotion, he never appears to have set himself consciously
to reproduce the style of Greek sculpture, or to have set forth Hellenic
ideas. He remained unaffectedly natural, and in a true sense Christian.
The paganism of the Renaissance is a phrase with no more meaning for him
than for that still more delicate Florentine spirit, Luca della Robbia;
and if his works are classical, they are so only in Goethe's sense, when
he pronounced, "the point is for a work to be thoroughly good, and then it
is sure to be classical."

One great advantage of the early days of the Renaissance over the latter
was this, that pseudo-paganism and pedantry had not as yet distorted the
judgment or misdirected the aims of artists. Contact with the antique
world served only to stimulate original endeavour, by leading the student
back to the fountain of all excellence in nature, and by exhibiting types
of perfection in technical processes. To ape the sculptors of Antinous, or
to bring to life again the gods who died with Pan, was not yet longed for.
Of the impunity with which a sculptor in that period could submit his
genius to the service and the study of ancient art without sacrificing
individuality, Donatello furnishes a still more illustrious example than
Ghiberti. Early in his youth Donatello journeyed with Brunelleschi to
Rome, in order to acquaint himself with the monuments then extant. How
thoroughly he comprehended the classic spirit is proved by the bronze
patera wrought for his patron Ruberto Martelli, and by the frieze of the
triumphant Bacchus.[87] Yet the great achievements of his genius were
Christian in their sentiment and realistic in their style. The bronze
"Magdalen" of the Florentine Baptistery and the bronze "Baptist" of the
Duomo at Siena[88] are executed with an unrelenting materialism, not alien
indeed to the sincerity of classic art, but divergent from antique
tradition, inasmuch as the ideas of repentant and prophetic asceticism had
no place in Greek mythology.

Donatello, with the uncompromising candour of an artist bent on marking
character, felt that he was bound to seize the very pith and kernel of his
subject. If a Magdalen were demanded of him, he would not condescend to
model a Venus and then place a book and skull upon a rock beside her; nor
did he imagine that the bloom and beauty of a laughing Faun were fitting
attributes for the preacher of repentance. It remained for later artists,
intoxicated with antique loveliness and corroded with worldly scepticism,
to reproduce the outward semblance of Greek deities under the pretence of
setting forth the myths of Christianity. Such compromise had not occurred
to Donatello. The motive of his art was clearly apprehended, his method
was sincere; certain phases of profound emotion had to be represented with
the physical characteristics proper to them. The result, ugly and painful
as it may sometimes be, was really more concordant with the spirit of
Greek method than Lionardo's "John" or Correggio's "Magdalen." That is to
say, it was straightforward and truthful; whereas the strange caprices of
the later Renaissance too often betrayed a double mind, disloyal alike to
paganism and to Christianity, in their effort to combine divergent forces.
It may still be argued that such conceptions as sorrow for sin and
mortification of the flesh, unflinchingly portrayed by haggard gauntness
in the saints of Donatello, are unfit for sculpturesque expression.

A more felicitous embodiment of modern feeling was achieved by Donatello
in "S. George" and "David." The former is a marble statue placed upon the
north wall of Orsammichele; the latter is a bronze, cast for Cosimo de'
Medici, and now exhibited in the Bargello.[89] Without striving to
idealise his models, the sculptor has expressed in both the Christian
conception of heroism, fearless in the face of danger, and sustained by
faith. The naked beauty of the boy David and the mailed manhood of S.
George are raised to a spiritual region by the type of feature and the
pose of body selected to interpret their animating impulse. These are no
mere portraits of wrestlers, such, as peopled the groves of Altis at
Olympia, no ideals of physical strength translated into brass and marble,
like the "Hercules" of Naples or the Vatican. The one is a Christian
soldier ready to engage Apollyon in battle to the death; the other the
boy-hero of a marvellous romance. The body in both is but the shrine of an
indwelling soul, the instrument and agent of a faith-directed will; and
the crown of their conflict is no wreath of laurel or of parsley. In other
words, the value of S. George and David to the sculptor lay not in their
strength and youthful beauty--though he has endowed them with these
excellent gifts--so much as in their significance for the eternal struggle
of the soul with evil. The same power of expressing Christian sentiment in
a form of perfect beauty, transcending the Greek type by profounder
suggestion of feeling, is illustrated in the well-known low-relief of an
angel's head in profile, technically one of Donatello's most masterly

It is no part of my present purpose to enumerate the many works of
Donatello in marble and bronze; yet some allusion to their number and
variety is necessary in order to show how widely his influence was
diffused through Italy. In the monuments of Pope John XXIII., of Cardinal
Brancacci, and of Bartolommeo Aragazzi, he subordinated his genius to the
treatment of sepulchral and biographical subjects according to
time-honoured Tuscan usage. They were severally placed in Florence,
Naples, and Montepulciano. For the cathedral of Prato he executed
bas-reliefs of dancing boys; a similar series, intended for the
balustrades of the organ in S. Maria del Fiore, is now preserved in the
Bargello museum. The exultation of movement has never been expressed in
stone with more fidelity to the strict rules of plastic art. For his
friend and patron, Cosimo de' Medici, he cast in bronze the group of
"Judith and Holofernes"--a work that illustrates the clumsiness of
realistic treatment, and deserves to be remembered chiefly for its strange
fortunes. When the Medici fled from Florence in 1494, their palace was
sacked; the new republic took possession of Donatello's "Judith," and
placed it on a pedestal before the gate of the Palazzo Vecchio, with this
inscription, ominous to would-be despots: _Exemplum salutis publicae cives
posuere. MCCCCXCV_. It now stands near Cellini's "Perseus" under the
Loggia de' Lanzi. For the pulpits of S. Lorenzo, Donatello made designs of
intricate bronze bas-reliefs, which were afterwards completed by his pupil
Bertoldo. These, though better known to travellers, are less excellent
than the reliefs in bronze wrought by Donatello's own hand for the church
of S. Anthony at Padua.[91] To that city he was called in 1451, in order
that he might model the equestrian statue of Gattamelata. It still stands
on the Piazza, a masterpiece of scientific bronze-founding, the first
great portrait of a general on horseback since the days of Rome.[92] At
Padua, in the hall of the Palazzo della Ragione, is also preserved the
wooden horse, which is said to have been constructed by the sculptor for
the noble house of Capodilista. These two examples of equestrian modelling
marked an epoch in Italian statuary.

When Donato di Nicolo di Betto Bardi, called Donatello because men loved
his sweet and cheerful temper, died in 1466 at the age of eighty, the
brightest light of Italian sculpture in its most promising period was
extinguished. Donatello's influence, felt far and wide through Italy, was
of inestimable value in correcting the false direction toward pictorial
sculpture which Ghiberti, had he flourished alone at Florence, might have
given to the art. His style was always eminently masculine. However tastes
may differ about the positive merits of his several works, there can be no
doubt that the principles of sincerity, truth to nature, and technical
accuracy they illustrate, were all-important in an age that lent itself
too readily to the caprices of the fancy and the puerilities of florid
taste. To regret that Donatello lacked Ghiberti's exquisite sense of
beauty, is tantamount to wishing that two of the greatest artists of the
world had made one man between them.

Donatello did not, in the strict sense of the term, found a school.[93]
Andrea Verocchio, goldsmith, painter, and worker in bronze, was the most
distinguished of his pupils. To all the arts he practised, Verocchio
applied limited powers, a meagre manner, and a prosaic mind. Yet few men
have exercised at a very critical moment a more decided influence. The
mere fact that he numbered Lionardo da Vinci, Lorenzo di Credi, and Pietro
Perugino among his scholars, proves the esteem of his contemporaries; and
when we have observed that the type of face selected by Lionardo and
transmitted to his followers, appears also in the pictures of Lorenzo di
Credi and is first found in the "David" of Verocchio, we have a right to
affirm that the master of these men was an artist of creative genius as
well as a careful workman. Florence still points with pride to the
"Incredulity of Thomas" on the eastern wall of Orsammichele, to the "Boy
and Dolphin" in the court of the Palazzo Vecchio, and to the "David" of
this sculptor: but the first is spoiled by heaviness and angularity of
drapery; the second, though fanciful and marked by fluttering movement, is
but a caprice; the third outdoes the hardest work of Donatello by its
realism. Verocchio's "David," a lad of some seventeen years, has the lean,
veined arms of a stone-hewer or gold-beater. As a faithful portrait of the
first Florentine prentice who came to hand, this statue might have merit
but for the awkward cuirass and kilt that partly drape the figure.

The name of Verocchio is best known to the world through the equestrian
statue of Bartolommeo Colleoni. When this great Condottiere, the last
surviving general trained by Braccio da Montone, died in 1475, he
bequeathed a large portion of his wealth to Venice, on condition that his
statue on horseback should be erected in the Piazza di S. Marco. Colleoni,
having long held the bâton of the Republic, desired that after death his
portrait, in his habit as he lived, should continue to look down on the
scene of his old splendour. By an ingenious quibble the Senators adhered
to the letter of his will without infringing a law that forbade them to
charge the square of S. Mark with monuments. They ruled that the piazza in
front of the Scuola di S. Marco, better known as the Campo di S. Zanipolo,
might be chosen as the site of Colleoni's statue, and to Andrea Verocchio
was given the commission for its erection.

Andrea died in 1488 before the model for the horse was finished. The work
was completed, and the pedestal was supplied by Alessandro Leopardi. To
Verocchio, profiting by the example of Donatello's "Gattamelata," must be
assigned the general conception of this statue; but the breath of life
that animates both horse and rider, the richness of detail that enhances
the massive grandeur of the group, and the fiery spirit of its style of
execution were due to the Venetian genius of Leopardi. Verocchio alone
produced nothing so truly magnificent. This joint creation of Florentine
science and Venetian fervour is one of the most precious monuments of the
Renaissance. From it we learn what the men who fought the bloodless
battles of the commonwealths, and who aspired to principality, were like.
"He was tall," writes a biographer of Colleoni,[94] "of erect and
well-knit figure, and of well-proportioned limbs. His complexion tended
rather to brown, marked withal by bright and sanguine flesh-tints. He had
black eyes; their brilliancy was vivid, their gaze terrible and
penetrating. In the outline of his nose and in all his features he
displayed a manly nobleness combined with goodness and prudence." Better
phrases cannot be chosen to describe his statue.

While admiring this masterpiece and dwelling on its royal style, we are
led to deplore most bitterly the loss of the third equestrian statue of
the Renaissance. Nothing now remains but a few technical studies made by
Lionardo da Vinci for his portrait of Francesco Sforza. The two elaborate
models he constructed and the majority of his minute designs have been
destroyed. He intended, we are told, to represent the first Duke of the
Sforza dynasty on his charger, trampling the body of a prostrate and just
conquered enemy. Rubens' transcript from the "Battle of the Standard,"
enables us to comprehend to some extent how Lionardo might have treated
this motive. The severe and cautious style of Donatello, after gaining
freedom and fervour from Leopardi, was adapted to the ideal presentation
of dramatic passion by Lionardo. Thus Gattamelata, Colleoni, and Francesco
Sforza would, through their statues, have marked three distinct phases in
the growth of art. The final effort of Italian sculpture to express human
activity in the person of a mounted warrior has perished. In this sphere
we possess nothing which, like the tombs of S. Lorenzo in relation to
sepulchral statuary, completes a series of development.

If Donatello founded no school, this was far more the case with Ghiberti.
His supposed pupil, Antonio del Pollajuolo, showed no sign of Ghiberti's
influence, but struck out for himself a style distinguished by almost
brutal energy and bizarre realism--characteristics the very opposite to
those of his master. If the bronze relief of the "Crucifixion" in the
Bargello be really Pollajuolo's, we may even trace a leaning to Verocchio
in his manner. The emphatic passion of the women recalls the group of
mourners round the death-bed of Selvaggia Tornabuoni in Verocchio's
celebrated bas-relief. Pollajuolo, like so many Florentine artists, was a
goldsmith, a painter, and a worker in niello, before he took to sculpture.
As a goldsmith he is said to have surpassed all his contemporaries, and
his mastery over this art influenced his style in general. What we chiefly
notice, however, in his choice of subjects is a frenzy of murderous
enthusiasm, a grimness of imagination, rare among Italian artists. The
picture in the Uffizzi of "Hercules and Antaeus" and the well-known
engraving of naked men fighting a series of savage duels in a wood, might
be chosen as emphatic illustrations of his favourite motives. The fiercest
emotions of the Renaissance find expression in the clenched teeth,
strained muscles, knotted brows, and tense nerves, depicted by Pollajuolo
with eccentric energy. We seem to be assisting at some of those combats _a
steccato chiuso_ wherein Sixtus IV. delighted, or to have before our eyes
a fray between Crocensi and Vallensi in the streets of Rome.[95] The same
remarks apply to the terra-cotta relief by Pollajuolo in the South
Kensington Museum. This piece displays the struggles of twelve naked men,
divided into six pairs of combatants. Two of the couples hold short chains
with the left hand, and seek to stab each other with the right. In the
case of another two couples the fight is over, and the victor is insulting
his fallen foe. In each of the remaining pairs one gladiator is on the
point of yielding to his adversary. There are thus three several moments
of duel to the death, each illustrated by two couples. The mathematical
distribution of these dreadful groups gives an effect of frozen passion;
while the vigorous workmanship displays not only an enthusiasm for
muscular anatomy, but a real sympathy with blood-fury in the artist.

There was, therefore, a certain propriety in the choice of Pollajuolo to
cast the sepulchre of Sixtus IV. in bronze at Rome. The best judges
complain, not without reason, that the allegories surrounding this tomb
are exaggerated and affected in style; yet the dead Pope, stretched in
pomp upon his bier, commands more than merely historical interest; while
the figures, seated as guardians round the old man, terrible in death,
communicate an impression of monumental majesty. Criticised in detail,
each separate figure may be faulty. The composition, as a whole, is
picturesque and grandiose. The same can scarcely be said about the tomb of
Innocent VIII., erected by Antonio and his brother Piero del Pollajuolo.
While it perpetuates the memory of an uninteresting Pontiff, it has but
little, as a work of art, to recommend it. The Pollajuoli were not great
sculptors. In the history of Italian art they deserve a place, because of
the vivid personality impressed upon some portions of their work. Few
draughtsmen carried the study of muscular anatomy so far as Antonio.[96]

Luca della Robbia, whose life embraced the first eighty years of the
fifteenth century, offers in many important respects a contrast to his
contemporaries Ghiberti and Donatello, and still more to their immediate
followers. He made his art as true to life as it is possible to be,
without the rugged realism of Donatello or the somewhat effeminate graces
of Ghiberti. The charm of his work is never impaired by scientific
mannerism--that stumbling-block to critics like De Stendhal in the art of
Florence; nor does it suffer from the picturesqueness of a sentimental
style. How to render the beauty of nature in her most delightful
moments--taking us with him into the holiest of holies, and handling the
sacred vessels with a child's confiding boldness--was a secret known to
Luca della Robbia alone. We may well find food for meditation in the
innocent and cheerful inspiration of this man, whose lifetime coincided
with a period of sordid passions and debased ambition in the Church and
States of Italy.

Luca was apprenticed in his youth to a goldsmith; but of what he wrought
before the age of forty-five, we know but little.[97] At that time his
faculty had attained full maturity, and he produced the groups of dancing
children and choristers intended for the organ gallery of the Duomo.
Wholly free from affectation, and depending for effect upon no merely
decorative detail, these bas-reliefs deserve the praise bestowed by Dante
on the sculpture seen in Purgatory:[98]--

    Dinanzi a noi pareva si verace,
    Quivi intagliato in un atto soave,
    Che non sembrava immagine che tace.

Movement has never been suggested in stone with less exaggeration, nor
have marble lips been made to utter sweeter and more varied music. Luca's
true perception of the limits to be observed in sculpture, appears most
eminently in the glazed terra-cotta work by which he is best known. An
ordinary artist might have found the temptation to aim at showy and
pictorial effects in this material overwhelming. Luca restrained himself
to pure white on pale blue, and preserved an exquisite simplicity of line
in all his compositions. There is an almost unearthly beauty in the
profiles of his Madonnas, a tempered sweetness in the modulation of their
drapery and attitude, that prove complete mastery in the art of rendering
evanescent moments of expression, the most fragile subtleties of the
emotions that can stir a tranquil spirit. Andrea della Robbia, the nephew
of Luca, with his four sons, Giovanni, Luca, Ambrogio, and Girolamo,
continued to manufacture the glazed earthenware of Luca's invention. These
men, though excellent artificers, lacked the fine taste of their teacher.
Coarser colours were introduced; the eye was dazzled with variety; but the
power of speaking to the soul as Luca spoke was lost.[99]

After the Della Robbias, this is the place to mention Agostino di Gucci or
di Duccio,[100] a sculptor who handled terra-cotta somewhat in the manner
of Donatello's flat-relief, introducing more richness of detail and aiming
at more passion than Luca's taste permitted. For the oratory of S.
Bernardino at Perugia he designed the façade partly in stone and partly in
baked clay--crowded with figures, flying, singing, playing upon
instruments of music, with waving draperies and windy hair and the ecstasy
of movement in their delicately modelled limbs. If nothing else remained
of Agostino's workmanship, this façade alone would place him in the first
rank of contemporary artists. He owed something, perhaps, to his material;
for terra-cotta has the charm of improvisation. The hand, obedient to the
brain, has made it in one moment what it is, and no slow hours of labour
at the stone have dulled the first caprice of the creative fancy. Work,
therefore, which, if translated into marble, might have left our sympathy
unstirred, affects us with keen pleasure in the mould of plastic clay.
What prodigality of thought and invention has been lavished on the
terra-cotta models of unknown Italian artists! What forms and faces,
beautiful as shapes of dreams, and, like dreams, so airy that we think
they will take flight and vanish, lean to greet us from cloisters and
palace fronts in Lombardy! To catalogue their multitude would be
impossible. It is enough to select one instance out of many; this shall be
taken from the chapel of S. Peter Martyr in S. Eustorgio at Milan. High up
around the cupola runs a frieze of angels, singing together and dancing
with joined hands, while bells composed of fruits and flowers hang down
between them. Each angel is an individual shape of joy; the soul in each
moves to its own deep melody, but the music made of all is one. Their
raiment flutters, the bells chime; the chorus of their gladness falls like
voices through a star-lit heaven, half-heard in dreams and everlastingly

Four sculptors, the younger contemporaries of Luca della Robbia, and
marked by certain common qualities, demand attention next. All the work of
Antonio Rossellino, Matteo Civitali, Mino da Fiesole, and Benedetto da
Majano, is distinguished by sweetness, grace, tranquillity, and
self-restraint--as though these artists had voluntarily imposed limits on
their genius, refusing to trespass beyond a traced circle of religious
subjects, or to aim at effects unrealisable by purity of outline, suavity
of expression, delicacy of feeling, and urbanity of style. The charm of
manner they possess in common, can scarcely he defined except by similes.
The innocence of childhood, the melody of a lute or song-bird as
distinguished from the music of an orchestra, the rathe tints of early
dawn, cheerful light on shallow streams, the serenity of a simple and
untainted nature that has never known the world--many such images occur
to the mind while thinking of the sculpture of these men. To charge them
with insipidity, immaturity, and monotony, would be to mistake the force
of genius and skill displayed by them. We should rather assume that they
confined themselves to certain types of tranquil beauty, without caring to
realise more obviously striking effects, and that this was their way of
meeting the requirements of sculpture considered as a Christian art. The
melody of their design, meanwhile, is like the purest song-music of
Pergolese or Salvator Rosa, unapproachably perfect in simple outline, and
inexhaustibly refreshing.

Though it is possible to characterise the style of these sculptors by some
common qualities observable in their work, it should rather be the aim of
criticism to point out their differences. Antonio Rossellino, for example,
might be distinguished by his leaning toward the manner of Ghiberti, whose
landscape backgrounds he has adopted in the circular medallions of his
monumental sculpture. A fine perception of the poetic capabilities of
Christian art is displayed in Rossellino's idyllic treatment of the
Nativity--the adoration of the shepherds, the hush of reverential
stillness in the worship Mary pays her infant son.[101] To the qualities
of sweetness and tranquillity rare dignity is added in the monument of the
young Cardinal di Portogallo.[102] The sublimity of the slumber that is
death has never been more nobly and feelingly portrayed than in the supine
figure and sleeping features of this most beautiful young man, who lies
watched by angels beneath a heavy-curtained canopy. The genii of eternal
repose modelled by Greek sculptors are twin-brothers of Love, on whom
perpetual slumber has descended amid poppy-fields by Lethe's stream. The
turmoil of the world is over for them; they will never wake again; they do
not even dream. Sleep is the only power that still has life in them. But
the Christian cannot thus conceive the mystery of the soul "fallen on
sleep." His art must suggest a time of waiting and a time of waking; and
this it does partly through the ministration of attendant angels, who
would not be standing there on guard if the clay-cold corpse had no
futurity, partly by breathing upon the limbs and visage of the dead a
spirit as of life suspended for a while. Thus the soul herself is imaged
in the marble "most sweetly slumbering in the gates of dreams."

What Vespasiano tells us of this cardinal, born of the royal house of
Portugal, adds the virtue of sincerity to Rossellino's work, proving there
is no flattery of the dead man in his sculpture.[103] "Among his other
admirable virtues," says the biographer, "Messer Jacopo di Portogallo
determined to preserve his virginity, though he was beautiful above all
others of his age. Consequently he avoided all things that might prove
impediments to his vow, such as free discourse, the society of women,
balls, and songs. In this mortal flesh he lived as though he had been free
from it--the life, we may say, rather of an angel than a man. And if his
biography were written from his childhood to his death, it would be not
only an ensample, but confusion to the world. Upon his monument the hand
was modelled from his own, and the face is very like him, for he was most
lovely in his person, but still more in his soul."

While contemplating this monument of the young cardinal, we feel that the
Italians of that age understood sepulchral sculpture far better than their
immediate successors. They knew how to carve the very soul, according to
the lines which our Webster, a keen observer of all things relating to
the grave and death, has put into Jolenta's lips:--

                         But indeed,
    If ever I would have mine drawn to the life,
    I would have a painter steal it at such time
    I were devoutly kneeling at my prayers;
    There is then a heavenly beauty in't; _the soul
    Moves in the superficies_.

The same Webster condemns that evil custom of aping life and movement on
the monuments of dead men, which began to obtain when the motives of pure
repose had been exhausted. "Why," asks the Duchess of Malfi, "do we grow
fantastical in our death-bed? Do we affect fashion in the grave?" "Most
ambitiously," answers Bosola; "princes' images on their tombs do not lie
as they were wont, seeming to pray up to heaven; but with their hands
under their cheeks (as if they died of the toothache): they are not carved
with their eyes fixed upon the stars; but, as their minds were wholly bent
upon the world, the self-same way they seem to turn their faces." A more
trenchant criticism than this could hardly have been pronounced upon
Andrea Contucci di Monte Sansavino's tombs of Ascanio Sforza and Girolamo
della Rovere, if Bosola had been standing before them in the church of S.
Maria del Popolo when he spoke. Were it the function of monumental
sculpture to satirise the dead, or to point out their characteristic
faults for the warning of posterity, then the sepulchres of these worldly
cardinals of Sixtus IV.'s creation would be artistically justified. But
the object of art is not this. The idea of death, as conceived by
Christians, has to be portrayed. The repose of the just, the resurrection
of the body, and the coming judgment, afford sufficient scope for
treatment of good men and bad alike. Or if the sculptor have sublime
imagination, he may, like Michael Angelo, suggest the alternations of the
day and night, slumber and waking, whereby "our little life is rounded
with a sleep."

This digression will hardly be thought superfluous when we reflect how
large a part of the sculptor's energy was spent on tombs in Italy. Matteo
Civitali of Lucca was at least Rossellino's equal in the sculpturesque
delineation of spiritual qualities; but the motives he chose for treatment
were more varied. All his work is penetrated with deep, prayerful, intense
feeling; as though the artist's soul, poured forth in ecstasy and
adoration, had been given to the marble. This is especially true of two
angels kneeling upon the altar of the Chapel of the Sacrament in Lucca
Cathedral. Civitali, by singular good fortune, was chosen in the best
years of his life to adorn the cathedral of his native city; and it is
here, rather than at Genoa, where much of his sculpture may also be seen,
that he deserves to be studied. For the people of Lucca he designed the
Chapel of the Santo Volto--a gem of the purest Renaissance
architecture--and a pulpit in the same style. His most remarkable
sculpture is to be found in three monuments: the tombs of Domenico Bertini
and Pietro da Noceto, and the altar of S. Regulus. The last might be
chosen as an epitome of all that is most characteristic in Tuscan
sculpture of the earlier Renaissance. It is built against the wall, and
architecturally designed so as to comprehend a full-length figure of the
bishop stretched upon his bier and watched by angels, a group of Madonna
and her child seated above him, a row of standing saints below, and a
predella composed of four delicately finished bas-reliefs. Every part of
this complex work is conceived with spirit and executed with care; and the
various elements are so combined as to make one composition, the body of
the saint on his sarcophagus forming the central object of the whole.

To do more than briefly mention the minor sculptors of this group would be
impossible. Mino di Giovanni, called Da Fiesole, was characterised by
grace that tended to degenerate into formality. The tombs in the Abbey of
Florence have an almost infantine sweetness of style, which might be
extremely piquant, were it not that Mino pushed this quality in other
works to the verge of mannerism.[104] Their architectural features are the
same as those of similar monuments in Tuscany:--a shallow recess, flanked
by Renaissance pilasters, and roofed with a semicircular arch; within the
recess, the full-length figure of the dead man on a marble coffin of
antique design; in the lunette above, a Madonna carved in low relief.[105]
Mino's bust of Bishop Salutati in the cathedral church of Fiesole is a
powerful portrait, no less distinguished for vigorous individuality than
consummate workmanship. The waxlike finish of the finely chiselled marble
alone betrays that delicacy which with Mino verged on insipidity. The same
faculty of character delineation is seen in three profiles, now in the
Bargello Museum, attributed to Mino. They represent Frederick Duke of
Urbino, Battista Sforza, and Galeazzo Sforza. The relief is very low,
rising at no point more than half an inch above the surface of the ground,
but so carefully modulated as to present a wonderful variety of light and
shade, and to render the facial expression with great vividness.

Desiderio da Settignano, one of Donatello's few scholars, was endowed with
the same gift of exquisite taste as his friend Mino da Fiesole;[106] but
his inventive faculty was bolder, and his genius more robust, in spite of
the profuse ornamentation and elaborate finish of his masterpiece, the
tomb of Carlo Marsuppini in S. Croce. The bust he made of Marietta di
Palla degli Strozzi enables us to compare his style in portraiture with
that of Mino.[107] It would be hard to find elsewhere a more captivating
combination of womanly sweetness and dignity. We feel, in looking at these
products of the best age of Italian sculpture, that the artists who
conceived them were, in the truest sense of the word, gentle. None but men
courteous and unaffected could have carved a face like that of Marietta
Strozzi, breathing the very spirit of urbanity. To express the most
amiable qualities of a living person in a work of art that should suggest
emotional tranquillity by harmonious treatment, and indicate the
temperance of a disciplined nature by self-restraint and moderation of
style, and to do this with the highest technical perfection, was the
triumph of fifteenth-century sculpture.

An artist who claims a third place beside Mino and his friend, "il bravo
Desider si dolce e bello,"[108] is Benedetto da Majano. In Benedetto's
bas-reliefs at San Gemignano, carved for the altars of those unlovely
Tuscan worthies, S. Fina and S. Bartolo, we find a pictorial treatment of
legendary subjects, proving that he had studied Ghirlandajo's frescoes.
The same is true about his pulpit in S. Croce at Florence, his treatment
of the story of S. Savino at Faenza, and his "Annunciation" in the church
of Monte Oliveto at Naples. Benedetto, indeed, may be said to illustrate
the working of Ghiberti's influence by his liberal use of landscape and
architectural backgrounds; but the style is rather Ghirlandajo's than
Ghiberti's. If it was a mistake in the sculptors of that period to
subordinate their art to painting, the error, we feel, was aggravated by
the imitation of a manner so prosaic as that of Ghirlandajo. That
Benedetto began life as a _tarsiatore_ may perhaps help to account for his
pictorial style in bas-relief.[109] In estimating his total claim as an
artist, we must not forget that he designed the formidable and splendid
Strozzi Palace.

It will be observed that all the sculptors hitherto mentioned have been
Tuscans; and this is due to no mere accident--nor yet to caprice on the
part of their historian. Though the other districts of Italy produced
admirable workmen, the direction given to this art proceeded from Tuscany.
Florence, the metropolis of modern culture, determined the course of the
aesthetical Renaissance. Even at Rimini we cannot account for the carvings
in low relief, so fanciful, so delicately wrought, and so profusely
scattered over the side chapels of S. Francesco, without the intervention
of two Florentines, Bernardo Ciuffagni and Donatello's pupil Simone; while
in the palace of Urbino we trace some hand not unlike that of Mino da
Fiesole at work upon the mouldings of door and architrave, cornice and
high-built chimney.[110] Not only do we thus find Tuscan craftsmen or
their scholars employed on all the great public buildings throughout
Italy; but it also happens that, except in Tuscany, the decoration of
churches and palaces is not unfrequently anonymous.

This does not, however, interfere with the truth that sculpture, like all
the arts, assumed a somewhat different character in each Italian city. The
Venetian stone-carvers leaned from the first to a richer and more
passionate style than the Florentine, reproducing the types of Cima's and
Bellini's paintings.[111] Whole families, like the Bregni--classes, like
the Lombardi--schools, like that of Alessandro Leopardi, worked together
on the monumental sculpture of S. Zanipolo. In the tombs of the Doges the
old Pisan motive of the curtains (first used by Arnolfo di Cambio at
Orvieto, and afterwards with grand effect by Giovanni Pisano at Perugia)
is expanded into a sumptuous tent-canopy. Pages and genii and mailed
heroes take the place of angels, and the marine details of Roman reliefs
are copied in the subordinate decoration. At Verona the mediaeval tombs of
the Scaligers, with their vast chest-like sarcophagi and mounted warriors,
exhibit features markedly different from the monuments of Tuscany; while
the mixture of fresco with sculpture, in monuments like that of the
Cavalli in S. Anastasia, and in many altar-pieces, is at variance with
Florentine usage. On the terra-cotta mouldings, so frequent in Lombard
cities, I have already had occasion to touch briefly. They almost
invariably display a feeling for beauty more sensuous, with less of
scientific purpose in their naturalism, than is common in the Tuscan
style. Guido Mazzoni of Modena, called Il Modanino, may be mentioned as
the sculptor who freed terra-cotta from its dependence upon architecture,
and who modelled groups of overpowering dramatic realism. His "Pietà," in
the Church of Monte Oliveto at Naples, is valuable, less for its
passionate intensity of expression than for the portraits of Pontano,
Sannazzaro, and Alfonso of Aragon.[112] This sub-species of sculpture was
freely employed in North Italy to stimulate devotion, and to impress the
people with lively pictures of the Passion. The Sacro Monte at Varallo,
for example, is covered with a multitude of chapels, each one of which
presents some chapter of Bible history dramatically rendered by life-size
groups of terra-cotta figures. Some of these were designed by eminent
painters, and executed by clever modellers in clay. Even now they are
scarcely less stirring to the mind of a devout spectator than the scenes
of a mediaeval Mystery may have been.

The Certosa of Pavia, lastly, is the centre of a school of sculpture that
has little in common with the Florentine tradition. Antonio Amadeo[113]
and Andrea Fusina, acting in concert with Ambrogio Borgognone the
painter, gave it in the fifteenth century that character of rich and
complex decorative beauty which many generations of artists were destined
to continue and complete. Among the countless sculptors employed upon its
marvellous façade Amadeo asserts an individuality above the rest, which is
further manifested in his work in the Cappella Colleoni at Bergamo. We
there learn to know him, not only as an enthusiastic cultivator of the
mingled Christian and pagan manner of the _quattrocento_, but as an artist
in the truest sense of the word sympathetic. The sepulchral portrait of
Medea, daughter of the great Condottiere, has a grace almost beyond that
of Della Quercia's "Ilaria."[114] Much, no doubt, is due to the peculiarly
fragile beauty of the girl herself, who lies asleep with little crisp
curls clustering upon her forehead, and with a string of pearls around her
slender throat. But the sensibility to loveliness so delicate, and the
power to render it in marble with so ethereal a touch upon the rigid
stone, belong to the sculptor, and win for him our worship.

The list of fifteenth-century sculptors is almost ended; and already, on
the threshold of the sixteenth, stands the mighty form of Michael Angelo.
Andrea Contucci da Sansavino and his pupil Jacopo Tatti, called also
Sansovino, after his master, must, however, next be mentioned as
continuing the Florentine tradition without subservience to the style of
Buonarroti. Andrea da Sansavino was a sculptor in whom for the first time
the faults of the mid-Renaissance period are glaringly apparent. He
persistently sacrificed simplicity of composition to decorative
ostentation, and tranquillity of feeling to theatrical effect. The truth
of this will be acknowledged by all who have studied the tombs of the
cardinals in S. Maria del Popolo already mentioned,[115] and the
bas-reliefs upon the Santa Casa at Loreto. In technical workmanship Andrea
proved himself an able craftsman, modelling marble with the plasticity of
wax, and lavishing patterns of the most refined invention. Yet the
decorative prodigality of this master corresponded to the frigid and
stylistic graces of the neo-Latin poets. It was so much mannerism--adopted
without real passion from the antique, and applied with a rhetorical
intention. Those acanthus scrolls and honeysuckle borders, in spite of
their consummate finish, fail to arrest attention, leaving the soul as
unstirred as the Ovidian cadences of Bembo.

Jacopo Tatti was a genius of more distinction. Together with San Gallo and
Bramante he studied the science of architecture in Rome, where he also
worked at the restoration of newly discovered antiques, and cast in bronze
a copy of the "Laocoon." Thus equipped with the artistic learning of his
age, he was called in 1523 by the Doge, Andrea Gritti, to Venice. The
material pomp of Venice at this epoch, and the pride of her unrivalled
luxury, affected his imagination so powerfully that his genius, tutored by
Florentine and Umbrian masters among the ruins of old Rome, became at once
Venetian. In the history of the Renaissance the names of Titian and
Aretino, themselves acclimatised aliens, are inseparably connected with
that of their friend Sansovino. At Venice he lived until his death in
1570, building the Zecca, the Library, the Scala d'Oro in the Ducal
Palace, and the Loggietta beneath the bell-tower of S. Mark. In all his
work he subordinated sculpture to architecture, and his statuary is
conceived in the _bravura_, manner of Renaissance paganism. Whatever may
be the faults of Sansovino in both arts, it cannot be denied that he
expressed, in a style peculiar to himself, the large voluptuous external
life of Venice at a moment when this city was the Paris or the Corinth of
Renaissance Europe. At the same time, the shallowness of Sansovino's
inspiration as a sculptor is patent in his masterpieces of parade--the
"Neptune" and the "Mars," guarding the Scala d'Oro. Separated from the
architecture of the court and staircase, they are insignificant in spite
of their colossal scale. In their place they add a haughty grandeur, by
the contrast which their flowing forms and arrogant attitudes present to
the severer lines of the construction. But they are devoid of artistic
sincerity, and occupy the same relation to true sculpture as flourishes of
rhetoric, however brilliant, to poetry embodying deep thought or passion.
At first sight they impose: on further acquaintance we find them chiefly
interesting as illustrations of a potent civic life upon the wane,
gorgeous in its decay.

Sansovino was a first-rate craftsman. The most finished specimen of his
skill is the bronze door of the Sacristy of S. Marco, upon which he is
said to have worked through twenty years. Portraits of the sculptor,
Titian, and Pietro Aretino are introduced into the decorative border.
These heads start from the surface of the gate with astonishing vivacity.
That Aretino should thus daily assist in effigy at the procession of
priests bearing the sacred emblems from the sacristy to the high altar of
S. Mark, is one of the most characteristic proofs of sixteenth-century
indifference to things holy and things profane.

Jacopo Sansovino marks the final intrusion of paganism into modern art.
The classical revival had worked but partially and indirectly upon
Ghiberti and Donatello--not because they did not feel it most intensely,
but because they clung to nature far more closely than to antique
precedent. This enthusiasm inspired Sansovino with the best and strongest
qualities that he can boast; and if his genius had been powerful enough to
resist the fascination of merely rhetorical effects, he might have
produced a perfect restoration of the classic style. His was no lifeless
or pedantic imitation of antique fragments, but a real expression of the
fervour with which the modern world hailed the discoveries revealed to it
by scholarship. This is said advisedly. The most beautiful and spirited
pagan statue of the Renaissance period, justifying the estimate here made
of Sansovino's genius, is the "Bacchus" exhibited in the Bargello Museum.
Both the Bacchus and the Satyriscus at his side are triumphs of realism,
irradiated and idealised by the sculptor's vivid sense of natural
gladness. Considered as a restitution of the antique manner, this statue
is decidedly superior to the "Bacchus" of Michael Angelo. While the
mundane splendour of Venice gave body and fulness to Sansovino's paganism,
he missed the self-restraint and purity of taste peculiar to the studious
shades of Florence. In his style, both architectural and sculptural, the
neo-pagan sensuality of Italy expanded all its bloom.

For the artist at this period a Greek myth and a Christian legend were all
one. Both afforded the occasion for displaying technical skill in fluent
forms, devoid of any but voluptuous feeling; while both might be
subordinated to rich effects of decoration.[116] To this point the
intellectual culture of the fifteenth century had brought the plastic arts
of Italy, by a process similar to that which ended in the "Partus
Virginis" of Sannazzaro. They were still indisputably vigorous, and
working in accordance with the movement of the modern spirit. Yet the
synthesis they attempted to effect between heathenism and Christianity, by
a sheer effort of style, and by indifferentism, strikes us from the point
of view of art alone, not reckoning religion or morality, as
unsuccessful. Still, if it be childish on the one hand to deplore that the
Christian earnestness of the earlier masters had failed, it would be even
more ridiculous to complain that paganism had not been more entirely
recovered. The double-mind of the Renaissance, the source of its weakness
in art as in thought, could not be avoided, because humanity at this
moment had to lose the mediaeval sincerity of faith, and to assimilate the
spirit of a bygone civilisation. This, for better or for worse, was the
phase through which the intellect of modern Europe was obliged to pass;
and those who have confidence in the destinies of the human race, will not
spend their strength in moaning over such shortcomings as the periods of
transition bring inevitably with them. The student of Italian history may
indeed more reasonably be allowed to question whether the arts, if left to
follow their own development unchecked, might not have recovered from the
confusion of the Renaissance and have entered on a stage of nobler
activity through earnest and unaffected study of nature. But the
enslavement of the country, together with the counter-Reformation,
suspended the Renaissance in mid-career; and what remains of Italian art
is incomplete. Besides, it must be borne in mind that the confusion of
opinions consequent upon the clash of the modern with the ancient world,
left no body of generally accepted beliefs to express; nor has the time
even yet arrived for a settlement and synthesis that shall be favourable
to the activity of the figurative arts.

Sansovino himself was neither original nor powerful enough, to elevate the
mixed motives of Renaissance sculpture by any lofty idealisation. To do
that remained for Michael Angelo. The greatness of Michael Angelo consists
in this--that while literature was sinking into the frivolity of Academies
and the filth of the Bernesque "Capitoli," while the barefaced villanies
of Aretino won him credit, while sensual magnificence formed the ideal of
artists who were neither Greeks nor Christians, while Ariosto found no
subject fitter for his genius than a glittering romance, he and he alone
maintained the Dantesque dignity of the Italian intellect in his
sculpture. Michael Angelo stands so far apart from other men, and is so
gigantic a force for good and evil in the history of art, that to estimate
his life and labour in relation to the Renaissance must form the subject
of a separate chapter. For the present it is enough to observe that his
immediate scholars, Raffaello da Montelupo, and Gian Angelo Montorsoli,
caught little from their master but the mannerism of contorted form and
agitated action. This mannerism, a blemish even in the strong work of
Buonarroti, became ridiculous when adopted by men of feeble powers and
passionless imagination. By straining the art of sculpture to its utmost
limits, Michael Angelo expressed vehement emotions in marble; and the
forced attitudes affected in his work had their value as significant of
spiritual struggle. His imitators showed none of their master's sublime
force, none of that _terribilità_ which made him unapproachable in social
intercourse and inimitable in art. They merely fancied that dignity and
beauty were to be achieved by placing figures in difficult postures,
exaggerated muscular anatomy, and twisting the limbs of their models upon
sections of ellipses in uncomfortable attitudes, till the whole of their
work was writhen into uncouth lines. Buonarroti himself was not
responsible for these results. He wrought out his own ideal with the
firmness of a genius that obeys the law of its own nature, doing always
what it must. That the decadence of sculpture into truculent bravado was
independent of his direct influence, is further proved by the inefficiency
of his contemporaries.

Baccio Bandinelli and Bartolommeo Ammanati filled the squares of the
Italian cities with statues of Hercules and Satyrs, Neptune and
River-gods. We know not whether to select the vulgarity, the feebleness,
or the pretentiousness of these pseudo-classical colossi for condemnation.
They have nothing Greek about them but their names, their nakedness, and
their association with myths, the significance whereof was never really
felt by the sculptors. Some of Bandinelli's designs, it is true, are
vigorous; but they are mere drawings from undraped peasants, life studies
depicting the human animal. His "Hercules and Cacus," while it deserves
all the sarcasm hurled at it by Cellini, proves that Bandinelli could not
rise above the wrestling bout of a porter and a coal-heaver. Nor would it
be possible to invent a motive less in accordance with Greek taste than
the conceit of Ammanati's fountain at Castello, where Hercules by
squeezing the body of Antaeus makes the drinking water of a city spout
from a giant's mouth. Such pitiful misapplications of an art which is
designed to elevate the commonplace of human form, and to render permanent
the nobler qualities of physical existence, show how superficially and
wrongly the antique spirit had been apprehended.

Some years before his death Ammanati expressed in public his regret that
he had made so many giants and satyrs, feeling that, by exhibiting forms
of lust, brutality, and animalism to the gaze of his fellow-countrymen, he
had sinned against the higher law revealed by Christianity. For a Greek
artist to have spoken thus would have been impossible. The Faun, the
Titan, and the Satyr had a meaning for him, which he sought to set forth
in accordance with the semi-religious, semi-poetical traditions of his
race; and when he was at work upon a myth of nature-forces, he well knew
that at the other end of the scale, separated by no spiritual barrier, but
removed to an almost infinite distance of refinement, Zeus, Phoebus, and
Pallas claimed his loftier artistic inspiration. Ammanati's confession, on
the contrary, betrays that schism between the conscience of Christianity
and the lusts let loose by ill-assimilated sympathy with antique
heathenism, which was a marked characteristic of the Renaissance. The
coarser passions, held in check by ecclesiastical discipline, dared to
emerge into the light of day under the supposed sanction of classical
examples. What the Visconti and the Borgias practised in their secret
chambers, the sculptors exposed in marble and the poets in verse. All
alike, however, were mistaken in supposing that antique precedent
sanctioned this efflorescence of immorality. No amount of Greek epigrams
by Strato and Meleager, nor all the Hermaphrodites and Priapi of Rome, had
power to annul the law of conduct established by the founders of
Christianity, and ratified by the higher instincts of the Middle Ages. Nor
again were artists justified before the bar of conscience in selecting the
baser elements of Paganism for imitation, instead of aiming at Greek
self-restraint and Roman strength of character. All this the men of the
Renaissance felt when they listened to the voice within them. Their work,
therefore, in so far as it pretended to be a reconstruction of the antique
was false. The sensuality it shared in common with many Greek and Roman
masterpieces, had ceased to be frank and in the true sense pagan. To shake
off Christianity, and to revert with an untroubled conscience to the
manners of a bygone age, was what they could not do.

The errors I have attempted to characterise did not, however, prevent the
better and more careful works of sculpture, executed in illustration of
classical mythology, from having a true value. The "Perseus" of Cellini
and some of Gian Bologna's statues belong to a class of aesthetic
productions which show how much that is both original and excellent may be
raised in the hotbed of culture.[117] They express a genuine moment of the
Renaissance with vigour, and deserve to be ranked with the Latin poetry
of Poliziano, Bembo, and Pontano. The worst that can be said of them is
that their inspiration was factitious, and that their motives had been
handled better in the age of Greek sincerity.

Gian Bologna, born at Douai, but a Florentine by education, devoted
himself almost exclusively to mythological sculpture. That he was a
greater sculptor than his immediate predecessors will be affirmed by all
who have studied his bronze "Mercury," the "Venus of Petraja," and the
"Neptune" on the fountain of Bologna. Something of the genuine classic
feeling had passed into his nature. The "Mercury" is not a reminiscence of
any antique statue. It gives in bronze a faithful and spirited reading of
Virgil's lines, and is conceived with artistic purity not unworthy of a
good Greek period. The "Neptune" is something more than a muscular old
man; and, in its place, it forms one of the most striking ornaments of
Italy. It is worthy of remark that sculpture, in this stage, continued to
be decorative. Fountains are among the most successful monuments of the
late Renaissance. Even Montorsoli's fountain at Messina is in a high sense
picturesquely beautiful.

Casting a glance backward over the foregoing sketch of Italian sculpture,
it will be seen that three distinct stages were traversed in the evolution
of this art. The first may be called architectural, the second pictorial,
the third neo-pagan. Defined by their artistic purposes, the first
idealises Christian motives; the second is naturalistic; the third
attempts an idealisation inspired by revived paganism. As far as the
Renaissance is concerned, all three are moments in its history; though it
was only during the third that the influences of the classical revival
made themselves overwhelmingly felt. Niccola Pisano in the first stage
marked a fresh point of departure for his art by a return to Graeco-Roman
standards of the purest type then attainable, in combination with the
study of nature. Giovanni Pisano effected a fusion between his father's
manner and the Gothic style. The Pisan sculpture was wholly Christian; nor
did it attempt to free itself from the service of architecture. Giotto
opened the second stage by introducing new motives, employed by him with
paramount mastery in painting. Under his influence the sculptors inclined
to picturesque effects, and the direction thus given to sculpture lasted
through the fifteenth century. For the rest, the style of these masters
was distinguished by a fresh and charming naturalism and by rapid growth
in technical processes. While assimilating much of the classical spirit,
they remained on the whole Christian; and herein they were confirmed by
the subjects they were chiefly called upon to treat, in the decoration of
altars, pulpits, church façades, and tombs. The revived interest in
antique literature widened their sympathies and supplied their fancy with
new material; but there is no imitative formalism in their work. Its
beauty consists in a certain immature blending of motives chosen almost
indiscriminately from Christian and pagan mythology, vitalised by the
imagination of the artist, and presented with the originality of true
creative instinct. During the third stage the results of prolonged and
almost exclusive attention to the classics, on the part of the Italians as
a people, make themselves manifest. Collections of antiquities and
libraries had been formed in the fifteenth century; the literary energies
of the nation were devoted to the interpretation of Greek and Latin texts,
and the manners of society affected paganism. At the same time a worldly
Church and a corrupt hierarchy had done their utmost to enfeeble the
spirit of Christianity. That art should prove itself sensitive to this
phase of intellectual and social life was natural. Religious subjects were
now treated by the sculptors with superficial formalism and cynical
indifference, while all their ingenuity was bestowed upon providing pagan
myths with new forms. How far they succeeded has been already made the
matter of inquiry. The most serious condemnation of art in this third
period is that it halted between two opinions, that it could not be
sincere. But this double-mindedness, as I have tried to show, was
necessary; and therefore to lament over it is weak. What the Renaissance
achieved for the modern world was the liberation of the reason, the power
of starting on a new career of progress. The false direction given to the
art of sculpture at one moment of this intellectual revival may be
deplored; and still more deplorable is the corresponding sensual
debasement of the race who won for us the possibility of freedom. But the
life of humanity is long and vigorous, and the philosopher of history
knows well that the sum total of accomplishment at any time must be
diminished by an unavoidable discount. The Renaissance, like a man of
genius, had the defects of its qualities.


[56] _Sketches of the History of Christian Art_, vol. ii. p. 102.

[57] Since I wrote the paragraph above, I have chanced to read Mr.
Buskin's eloquent tirade against the modern sceptical school of critics
in his "Mornings in Florence," _The Vaulted Book_, pp. 105, 106. With the
spirit of it I thoroughly agree; feeling that, in the absence of solid
evidence to the contrary, I would always rather accept sixteenth-century
Italian tradition with Vasari, than reject it with German or English
speculators of to-day. This does not mean that I wish to swear by Vasari,
when he can be proved to have been wrong, but that I regard the present
tendency to mistrust tradition, only because it is tradition, as in the
highest sense uncritical.

[58] See Appendix I., on the Pulpits of Pisa and Ravello.

[59] The data is extremely doubtful. Were we to trust internal
evidence--the evidence of style and handling--we should be inclined to
name this not the earliest but the latest and ripest of Pisano's works.
It may be suggested in passing that the form of the lunette was
favourable to the composition by forcing a gradation in the figures from
the centre to either side. There is an engraving of this bas-relief in
Ottley's _Italian School of Design._

[60] Rheims Cathedral, for example, was begun in 1211. Upon its western
portals is the loveliest of Northern Gothic sculpture.

[61] Antonio Filarete was commissioned, soon after 1431, by Eugenius IV.,
to make the great gates of S. Peter's. The decorative framework
represents a multitude of living creatures--snails, snakes, lizards,
mice, butterflies, and birds--half hidden in foliage, together with the
best known among Greek myths, the Rape of Proserpine, Diana and Actaeon,
Europa and the Bull, the Labours of Hercules, &c. Such fables as the Fox
and the Stork, the Fox and the Crow, and old stories like that of the
death of Æschylus, are included in this medley. The monument of Paul III.
is placed in the choir of S. Peter's. Giulia Bella was the mistress of
Alexander VI., and a sister of the Farnese, who owed his cardinal's hat
to her influence. To represent her as an allegory of Truth upon her
brother's tomb might well pass for a grim satire. The Prudence opposite
is said to be a portrait of the Pope's mother, Giovanna Gaëtani. She
resembles nothing more than a duenna of the type of Martha in Goethe's
Faust. Here, again, the allegory would point a scathing sarcasm, if we
did not remember the naïveté of the Renaissance.

[62] See above, Chapter II, Italian want of feeling for Gothic.

[63] Having said so much about this pulpit of S. Andrea, I am sorry that
I cannot refer the English reader to any accessible representation of it.
For its sake alone, if for no other purpose, Pistoja is well worth a

[64] It was long believed that he died of eating poisoned figs.

[65] See above, Footnote 16, for the original conception of this motive
at Orvieto.

[66] See _Il Duomo di Orvieto, descritto ed illustrato per Lodovico
Luzi_, pp. 330-339.

[67] See Luzi, pp. 317-328, and the first extant commission given in 1310
to Maitani, which follows, pp. 328-330.

[68] The whole series has been admirably engraved under the
superintendence of Ludwig Grüner. Special attention may be directed to
the groups of angels attendant on the Creator in His last day's work; to
the "Adoration of the Shepherds," distinguished by tender and idyllic
grace: and to the "Adoration of the Magi," marked no less by majesty. The
dead breaking open the lids of their sarcophagi and rising to judgment
are justly famous for spirited action.

[69] In Gothic sculpture of an early date the Bible narrative is
literally represented. God draws Eve from the open side of sleeping Adam.
On the façade of Orvieto this motive is less altered than refined. The
wound in Adam's side is visible, but Eve is coming from behind his
sleeping body in obedience to the beckoning hand of her Creator. Ghiberti
in the bronze gate of the Florentine Baptistery still further develops
the poetic beauty of the motive. Angels lift Eve in the air above Adam,
in whose side there is now no open wound, and sustain her face to face
with God, who calls her into life. Della Quercia, on the façade of S.
Petronio, confines himself to the creative act, expressed by the raised
hand of the Maker, and the answering attitude of Eve; and this conception
receives final treatment from Michael Angelo in the frescoes of the

[70] _Le Tre Porte del Battistero di San Giovanni di Firenze, incise ed
illustrate_ (Firenze, 1821), contains outlines of all Andrea Pisano's and
Ghiberti's work.

[71] See above, Chapter I, Greek and Christian Ideals.

[72] See above, Chapter I, Greek and Christian Ideals.

[73] What Giotto himself was, as a designer for sculpture, is shown in
the little reliefs upon the basement of his campanile.

[74] What has previously been noted in the chapter upon architecture
deserves repetition here--that the Italian style of building gave more
scope to independent sculpture, owing to its preference for flat walls,
and its rejection of multiplied niches, canopies, and so forth, than the
Northern Gothic. Thus, however subordinated to architecture, sculpture in
Italy still had more scope for self-assertion than in Germany or France.

[75] See Perkins, _Italian Sculptors_, p. 109, for a description of the
Arca di S. Agostino, which he assigns to Matteo and Bonino da Campione.
This shrine, now in the Duomo, was made for the sacristy of S. Pietro in
Cielo d'Oro, where it stood until the year 1832.

[76] Bonino da Campione, the Milanese, who may have had a hand in the
Arca di S. Agostino, carved the tomb of Can Signorio. That of Mastino II.
was executed by another Milanese, Perino.

[77] See Trucchi, _Poesie Italiane inedite_, vol. ii.

[78] See the Illustrated work, _Il Tabernacolo della Madonna d'Or
sammichele_, Firenze, 1851.

[79] The weighty chapter in Alberti's _Treatise on Painting_, lib. iii.
cap. 5, might be used to support this paragraph.

[80] Quercia, born 1374; Ghiberti, 1378; Brunelleschi, 1379; Donatello,

[81] They are engraved in the work cited above, _Le Tre Porte, seconda
Porta_, Tavole i. ii.

[82] The bas-reliefs of S. Petronio were executed between 1425 and 1435.
Those of the font in the chapel of S. John (not the lower church of S.
John), at Siena, are ascribed to Quercia, and are in his manner; but when
they were finished I do not know. They set forth six subjects from the
story of Adam and Eve, with a compartment devoted to Hercules killing the
Centaur Nessus, and another to Samson or Hercules and the Lion. The
choice of subjects, affording scope for treatment of the nude, is
characteristic; so is the energy of handling, though rude in detail. It
may be worth while to notice here a similar series of reliefs upon the
façade of the Colleoni Chapel at Bergamo, representing scenes from the
story of Adam in conjunction with the labours of Hercules.

[83] Ruskin's _Modern Painters_, vol. ii. chap, vii., Repose.

[84] See Flaxman's _Lectures on Sculpture_, p. 310.

[85] This criticism of the "Gate of Paradise" sounds even to the writer
of it profane, and demands a palinode. Who, indeed, can affirm that he
would wish the floating figure of Eve, or the three angels at Abraham's
tent-door, other than they are?

[86] See the _Commentaries of Ghiberti_, printed in vol. i. of Vasari
(Lemonnier, 1846).

[87] The patera is at South Kensington, the frieze at Florence.

[88] As also the wooden Baptist in the Frari at Venice.

[89] There is another "David," by Donatello, in marble; also in the
Bargello, scarcely less stiff and ugly than the "Baptist."

[90] The cast was published by the Arundel Society. The original belongs
to Lord Elcho.

[91] It has been suggested, with good show of reason, that Mantegna was
largely indebted to these bas-reliefs for his lofty style.

[92] This omits the statues of the Scaligers: but no mediaeval work aimed
at equal animation. The antique bronze horses at Venice and the statue of
Marcus Aurelius must have been in Donatello's mind.

[93] The sculptor of a beautiful tomb erected for the Countess of
Montorio and her infant daughter in the church of S. Bernardino at Aquila
was probably Andrea dell' Aquila, a pupil of Donatello. See Perkins's
_Italian Sculptors_, pp. 46, 47.

[94] _Istoria della Vita e Fatti dell' eccellentissimo Capitano di guerra
Bartolommeo Colleoni_, scritta per Pietro Spino. Republished, 1859.

[95] See Vol. I., _Age of the Despots_, p. 310, note 2.

[96] Crowe and Cavalcaselle, vol. ii. chap, xvi., may be consulted as to
the several claims of the two brothers.

[97] His bas-reliefs on Giotto's campanile of Grammar, Astronomy,
Geometry, Plato, Aristotle, &c., are anterior to 1445; and even about
this date there is uncertainty, some authorities fixing it at 1435.

[98] _Purg._ x. 37, and xi. 68.

[99] Among the very best works of the later Robbian school may be cited
the frieze upon the façade of the Ospedale del Ceppo at Pistoja,
representing in varied colour, and with graceful vivacity, the Seven Acts
of Mercy. Date about 1525.

[100] He calls himself Agostinus Florentine Lapicida on his façade of the
Oratory of S. Bernardino.

[101] See especially a roundel in the Bargello, and the altar-piece in
the church of Monte Oliveto at Naples. Those who wish to understand
Rossellino should study him in the latter place.

[102] In the church of Samminiato, near Florence.

[103] _Vite di Uomini Illustri_, pp. 152-157.

[104] These tombs in the Badia were erected for Count Ugo, Governor of
Tuscany under Otho II., and for Messer Bernardo Giugni. Mino also made
the tomb for Pope Paul II., parts of which are preserved in the Grotte of
S. Peter's. At Rome he carved a tabernacle for S. Maria in Trastevere,
and at Volterra a ciborium for the Baptistery--one of his most
sympathetic productions. The altars in the Baglioni Chapel of S. Pietro
Cassinense at Perugia, in S. Ambrogio at Florence, and in the cathedral
of Fiesole, and the pulpit in the Duomo at Prato, may be mentioned among
his best works.

[105] Besides Civitali's altar of S. Regulus, and the tomb of Pietro da
Noceto already mentioned, Bernardo Rossellino's monument to Lionardo
Bruni, and Desiderio's monument to Carlo Marsuppini in S. Croce at
Florence, may be cited as eminent examples of Tuscan sepulchres.

[106] The wooden statue of the Magdalen in Santa Trinità at Florence
shows Desiderio's approximation to the style of his master. She is a
careworn and ascetic saint, with the pathetic traces of great beauty in
her emaciated face.

[107] This bust is in the Palazzo Strozzi at Florence.

[108] So Giovanni Santi, Raphael's father, described Desiderio da

[109] The following story is told about Benedetto's youth. He made two
large inlaid chests or _cassoni_, adorned with all the skill of a worker
in tarsia, or wood-mosaic, and carried these with him to King Matthias
Corvinus, of Hungary. Part of his journey was performed by sea. On
arriving and unpacking his chests, he found that the sea-damp had unglued
the fragile wood-mosaic, and all his work was spoiled. This determined
him to practise the more permanent art of sculpture. See Perkins, vol. i.
p. 228.

[110] For further description of the sculpture at Rimini, I may refer to
my _Sketches in Italy and Greece_, pp. 250-252. For the student of
Italian art, who has no opportunity of visiting Rimini, it is greatly to
be regretted that these reliefs have never yet even in photography been
reproduced. The palace of Duke Frederick at Urbino was designed by
Luziano, a Dalmatian architect, and continued by Baccio Pontelli, a
Florentine. The reliefs of dancing Cupids, white on blue ground, with
wings and hair gilt, and the children holding pots of roses and
gilly-flowers, in one of its great rooms, may be selected for special
mention. Ambrogio or Ambrogino da Milano, none of whose handiwork is
found in his native district, and who may therefore be supposed to have
learned and practised his art elsewhere, was the sculptor of these truly
genial reliefs.

[111] See, for example, the remarkable bas-relief of the Doge Lionardo
Loredano engraved by Perkins, _Italian Sculptors_, p. 201.

[112] Another Modenese, Antonio Begarelli, born in 1479, developed this
art of the _plasticatore_, with quite as much pictorial impressiveness,
and in a style of stricter science, than his predecessor Il Modanino. His
masterpieces are the "Deposition from the Cross" in S. Francesco, and the
"Pietà" in S. Pietro, of his native city.

[113] The name of this great master is variously written--Giovanni
Antonio Amadeo, or Omodeo, or degli Amadei, or de' Madeo, or a
Madeo--pointing possibly to the town Madeo as his native place. Through a
long life he worked upon the fabric of the Milanese Duomo, the Certosa of
Pavia, and the Chapel of Colleoni at Bergamo. To him we owe the general
design of the façade of the Certosa and the cupola of the Duomo of Milan.
For the details of his work and an estimate of his capacity, see Perkins,
_Italian Sculptors_, pp. 127-137.

[114] This statue was originally intended for a chapel built and endowed
by Colleoni at Basella, near Bergamo. When he determined to erect his
chapel in S. Maria Maggiore at Bergamo, he entrusted the execution of
this new work to Amadeo, and the monument of Medea was subsequently
placed there.

[115] See above, p. 113. I have spelt the name _Sansovino_, when applied
to Jacopo Tatti, in accordance with time-honoured usage.

[116] To multiply instances is tedious; but notice in this connection the
Hermaphroditic statue of S. Sebastian at Orvieto, near the western door.
It is a fair work of Lo Scalza.

[117] This brief allusion to Cellini must suffice for the moment, as I
intend to treat of him in a separate chapter.



Distribution of Artistic Gifts in Italy--Florence and Venice
--Classification by Schools--Stages in the Evolution of Painting--Cimabue
--The Rucellai Madonna--Giotto--His widespread Activity--The Scope of his
Art--Vitality--Composition--Colour--Naturalism--Healthiness--Frescoes at
Assisi and Padua--Legend of S. Francis--The Giotteschi--Pictures of the
Last Judgment--Orcagna in the Strozzi Chapel--Ambrogio Lorenzetti at
Pisa--Dogmatic Theology--Cappella degli Spagnuoli--Traini's "Triumph,
of S. Thomas Aquinas"--Political Doctrine expressed in Fresco--Sala della
Pace at Siena--Religious Art in Siena and Perugia--The Relation of the
Giottesque Painters to the Renaissance.

It is the duty of the historian of painting to trace the beginnings of art
in each of the Italian communities, to differentiate their local styles,
and to explain their mutual connections. For the present generation this
work is being done with all-sufficient thoroughness and accuracy.[118] The
historian of culture, on the other hand, for whom the arts form one
important branch of intellectual activity, may dispense with these
detailed inquiries, and may endeavour to seize the more general outlines
of the subject. He need not weigh in balances the claims of rival cities
to priority, nor hamper his review of national progress by discussing the
special merits of the several schools. Still there are certain broad facts
about the distribution of artistic gifts in Italy which it is necessary to
bear in mind. However much we may desire to treat of painting as a phase
of national and not of merely local life, the fundamental difficulty of
Italian history, its complexity and variety, owing to the subdivisions of
the nation into divers states, must here as elsewhere be acknowledged. To
deny that each of the Italian centres had its own strong personality in
art--that painting, as practised in Genoa or Naples, differed from the
painting of Ferrara or Urbino--would be to contradict a law that has been
over and over again insisted upon already in these volumes.

The broad outlines of the subject can be briefly stated. Surveying the map
of Italy, we find that we may eliminate from our consideration the
north-western and the southern provinces. Not from Piedmont nor from
Liguria, not from Rome nor from the extensive kingdom of Naples, does
Italian painting take its origin, or at any period derive important
contributions.[119] Lombardy, with the exception of Venice, is
comparatively barren of originative elements.[120] To Tuscany, to Umbria,
and to Venice, roughly speaking, are due the really creative forces of
Italian painting; and these three districts were marked by strong
peculiarities. In art, as in politics, Florence and Venice exhibit
distinct types of character.[121] The Florentines developed fresco, and
devoted their genius to the expression of thought by scientific design.
The Venetians perfected oil-painting, and set forth the glory of the world
as it appeals to the imagination and the senses. The art of Florence may
seem to some judges to savour over-much of intellectual dryness; the art
of Venice, in the apprehension of another class of critics, offers
something over-much of material richness. More allied to the Tuscan than
to the Venetian spirit, the Umbrian masters produced a style of genuine
originality. The cities of the Central Apennines owed their specific
quality of religious fervour to the influences emanating from Assisi, the
head-quarters of the _cultus_ of S. Francis. This pietism, nowhere else so
paramount, except for a short period in Siena, constitutes the
individuality of Umbria.

With regard to the rest of Italy, the old custom of speaking about schools
and places, instead of signalising great masters, has led to
misconception, by making it appear that local circumstances were more
important than the facts justify. We do not find elsewhere what we find in
Tuscany, in Umbria, and in Venice--a definite quality, native to the
district, shared through many generations by all its painters, and
culminating in a few men of commanding genius. When, for instance, we
speak of the School of Milan, what we mean is the continuation through
Lionardo da Vinci and his pupils of the Florentine tradition, as modified
by him and introduced into the Lombard capital. That a special style was
developed by Luini, Ferrari, and other artists of the Milanese duchy, so
that their manner differs essentially from that of Parma and Cremona, does
not invalidate the importance of this fact about its origin. The name of
Roman School, again, has been given to Raphael and Michael Angelo together
with their pupils. The truth is that Rome, for one brief period, during
the pontificates of Julius and Leo, was the focus of Italian intellect.
Allured by the patronage of the Papal Curia, not only artists, but
scholars and men of letters, flocked from all the cities of Italy to
Rome, where they found a nobler sphere for the exercise of their faculties
than elsewhere. But Rome, while she lent her imperial quality of grandeur
to the genius of her aliens, was in no sense originative. Rome produced no
first-rate master from her own children, if we except Giulio Romano. The
title of originality is due rather to Padua, the birthplace of Mantegna,
or to Parma, the city of Correggio, whose works display independence of
either Florentine or Venetian traditions. Yet these great masters were
isolated, neither expressing in any definite form the character of their
districts, nor founding a succession of local artists. Their influence was
incontestably great, but widely diffused. Bologna and Ferrara, Brescia and
Bergamo, Cremona and Verona, have excellent painters; and it is not
difficult to show that in each of these cities art assumed specific
characters. Yet the interest of the schools in these towns is due mainly
to the varied influences brought to bear upon them from Venice, Umbria,
and Milan. In other words they are affiliated, each according to its
geographical position, to the chief originative centres.

What I have advanced in the foregoing paragraphs is not meant for a
polemic against the time-honoured division of Italian painters into local
schools, but for a justification of my own proposed method of treatment.
Having undertaken to deal with painting as the paramount art-product of
the Renaissance, it will be my object to point out the leading
characteristics of aesthetic culture in Italy, rather than to dwell upon
its specific differences. The Venetian painters I intend to reserve for a
separate chapter, devoting this and the two next to the general history of
the art as developed in Tuscany and propagated by Tuscan influences.[122]
In pursuing this plan I shall endeavour to show how the successive stages
in the evolution of Italian painting corresponded to similar stages in the
history of the Renaissance. Beginning as the handmaid of the Church, and
stimulated by the enthusiasm of the two great popular monastic orders,
painting was at first devoted to embodying the thoughts of mediaeval
Christianity. In proportion as the painters fortified themselves by study
of the natural world, their art became more secular. Mysticism gave way to
realism. It was felt that much beside religious sentiment was worthy of
expression. At the same time, about the year 1440, this process of
secularisation was hastened by the influences of the classical revival,
renewing an interest in the past life of humanity, and stirring a zeal for
science. The painters, on the one hand, now aimed at accurate delineation
of actual things: good perspective, correct drawing, sound portraiture,
occupied their attention, to the exclusion of more purely spiritual
motives. On the other hand they conceived an admiration for the fragments
of the newly discovered antiques, and felt the plastic beauty of Hellenic
legends. It is futile to attempt, as M. Rio has done, to prove that this
abandonment of the religious sphere of earlier art was for painting a
plain decline from good to bad, or to make the more or less of spiritual
feeling in a painter's style the test of his degree of excellence; nor
can we by any sophistries be brought to believe that the Popes of the
fifteenth century were pastoral protectors of solely Christian arts. The
truth is, that in the Church, in politics, and in society, the fifteenth
century witnessed a sensible decrease of religious fervour, and a very
considerable corruption of morality. Painting felt this change; and the
secularisation, which was inevitable, passed onward into paganism. Yet the
art itself cannot be said to have suffered, when on the threshold of the
sixteenth century stand the greatest painters whom the world has
known--neither Catholics nor Heathens, but, in their strength of full
accomplished art and science, human. After Italy, in the course of that
century, had been finally enslaved, then, and not till then, painting
suffered from the general depression of the national genius. The great
luminaries were extinguished one by one, till none were left but Michael
Angelo in Rome, and Tintoret in Venice. The subsequent history of Italian
painting is occupied with its revival under the influences of the
counter-Reformation, when a new religious sentiment, emasculated and
ecstatic, was expressed in company with crude naturalism and cruel
sensualism by Bolognese and Neapolitan painters.

I need scarcely repeat the tale of Cimabue's picture, visited by Charles
of Anjou, and borne in triumph through the streets with trumpeters,
beneath a shower of garlands, to S. Maria Novella.[123] Yet this was the
birthday festival of nothing less than what the world now values as
Italian painting. In this public act of joy the people of Florence
recognised and paid enthusiastic honour to the art arisen among them from
the dead. If we rightly consider the matter, it is not a little wonderful
that a whole community should thus have hailed the presence in their midst
of a new spirit of power and beauty. It proves the widespread sensibility
of the Florentines to things of beauty, and shows the sympathy which,
emanating from the people, was destined to inspire and brace the artist
for his work.[124]

In a dark transept of S. Maria Novella, raised by steps above the level of
the church, still hangs this famous "Madonna" of the Rucellai--not far,
perhaps, from the spot where Boccaccio's youths and maidens met that
Tuesday morning in the year of the great plague; nor far, again, from
where the solitary woman, beautiful beyond belief, conversed with
Machiavelli on the morning of the first of May in 1527.[125] We who can
call to mind the scenes that picture has looked down upon--we who have
studied the rise and decadence of painting throughout Italy from this
beginning even to the last work of the latest Bolognese--may do well to
visit it with reverence, and to ponder on the race of mighty masters whose
lineage here takes its origin.

Cimabue did not free his style from what are called Byzantine or
Romanesque mannerisms. To unpractised eyes his saints and angels, with
their stiff draperies and angular attitudes, though they exhibit
stateliness and majesty, belong to the same tribe as the grim mosaics and
gaunt frescoes of his predecessors. It is only after careful comparison
that we discover, in this picture of the Rucellai for example, a
distinctly fresh endeavour to express emotion and to depict life. The
outstretched arms of the infant Christ have been copied from nature, not
merely borrowed from tradition. The six kneeling angels display variety of
attitude suited to several shades of devout affection and adoring service.
The head of the Madonna, heavy as it is and conventional in type, still
strives to represent maternal affection mingled with an almost melancholy
reverence. Prolonging our study, we are led to ask whether the painter
might not have painted more freely had he chosen--whether, in fact, he was
not bound down to the antique mode of presentation consecrated by devout
tradition. This question occurs with even greater force before the
wall-paintings ascribed to Cimabue in the church of S. Francis at Assisi.

It remained for Giotto Bondone, born at Vespignano in 1276, just at the
date of Niccola Pisano's death, to carry painting in his lifetime even
further than the Pisan sculptor had advanced the sister art. Cimabue, so
runs a legend luckily not yet discredited, found the child Giotto among
the sheep-folds on the solemn Tuscan hill-side, drawing with boyish art
the outline of a sheep upon a stone.[126] The master recognised his
talent, and took him from his father's cottage to the Florentine
_bottega_, much as young Haydn was taken by Renter to S. Stephen's at
Vienna. Gifted with a large and comprehensive intellect, capable of
sustained labour, and devoted with the unaffected zeal of a good craftsman
to his art, Giotto in the course of his long career filled Italy with work
that taught succeeding centuries of painters. As we travel from Padua in
the north, where his Arena Chapel sets forth the legend of Mary and the
life of Christ in a series of incomparable frescoes, southward to Naples,
where he adorned the convent of S. Chiara, we meet with Giotto in almost
every city. The "Passion of our Lord" and the "Allegories of S. Francis"
were painted by him at Assisi. S. Peter's at Borne still shows his mosaic
of the "Ship of the Church." Florence raises his wonderful bell-tower,
that lily among campanili, to the sky; and preserves two chapels of S.
Croce, illuminated by him with paintings from the stories of S. Francis
and S. John. In the chapel of the Podestà he drew the portraits of Dante,
Brunetto Latini, and Charles of Valois. And these are but a tithe of his
productions. Nothing, indeed, in the history of art is more remarkable
than the fertility of this originative genius, no less industrious in
labour than fruitful of results for men who followed him. The sound common
sense, the genial temper, and the humour of the man, as we learn to know
him in tales made current by Vasari and the novelists, help to explain how
he achieved so much, with energy so untiring and with excellence so even.

It is no exaggeration to say that Giotto and his scholars, within the
space of little more than half a century, painted out upon the walls of
the churches and public palaces of Italy every great conception of the
Middle Ages. And this they achieved without ascetic formalism,
energetically, but always reverently, aiming at expressing life and
dramatising Scripture history. The tale told about Giotto's first essay in
drawing might be chosen as a parable: he was not found beneath a church
roof tracing a mosaic, but on the open mountain, trying to draw the
portrait of the living thing committed to his care.

What, therefore, Giotto gave to art was, before all things else, vitality.
His Madonnas are no longer symbols of a certain phase of pious awe, but
pictures of maternal love. The Bride of God suckles her divine infant with
a smile, watches him playing with a bird, or stretches out her arms to
take him when he turns crying from the hands of the circumcising priest.
By choosing incidents like these from real home-life, Giotto, through his
painting, humanised the mysteries of faith, and brought them close to
common feeling. Nor was the change less in his method than his motives.
Before his day painting had been without composition, without charm of
colour, without suggestion of movement or the play of living energy. He
first knew how to distribute figures in the given space with perfect
balance, and how to mass them together in animated groups agreeable to the
eye. He caught varied and transient shades of emotion, and expressed them
by the posture of the body and the play of feature. The hues of morning
and of evening served him. Of all painters he was most successful in
preserving the clearness and the light of pure, well-tempered colours. His
power of telling a story by gesture and action is unique in its peculiar
simplicity. There are no ornaments or accessories in his pictures. The
whole force of the artist has been concentrated on rendering the image of
the life conceived by him. Relying on his knowledge of human nature, and
seeking only to make his subject intelligible, no painter is more
unaffectedly pathetic, more unconsciously majestic. While under the
influence of his genius, we are sincerely glad that the requisite science
for clever imitation of landscape and architectural backgrounds was not
forthcoming in his age. Art had to go through a toilsome period of
geometrical and anatomical pedantry, before it could venture, in the
frescoes of Michael Angelo and Raphael, to return with greater wealth of
knowledge on a higher level to the divine simplicity of its childhood in

In the drawing of the figure Giotto was surpassed by many meaner artists
of the fifteenth century. Nor had he that quality of genius which selects
a high type of beauty, and is scrupulous to shun the commonplace. The
faces of even his most sacred personages are often almost vulgar. In his
choice of models for saints and apostles we already trace the Florentine
instinct for contemporary portraiture. Yet, though his knowledge of
anatomy was defective, and his taste was realistic, Giotto solved the
great problem of figurative art far better than more learned and
fastidious painters. He never failed to make it manifest that what he
meant to represent was living. Even to the non-existent he gave the
semblance of reality. We cannot help believing in his angels leaning
waist-deep from the blue sky, wringing their hands in agony above the
Cross, pacing like deacons behind Christ when He washes the feet of His
disciples, or sitting watchful and serene upon the empty sepulchre. He
was, moreover, essentially a fresco-painter, working with rapid decision
on a large scale, aiming at broad effects, and willing to sacrifice
subtlety to clearness of expression. The health of his whole nature and
his robust good sense are everywhere apparent in his solid, concrete,
human work of art. There is no trace of mysticism, no ecstatic piety,
nothing morbid or hysterical, in his imagination. Imbuing whatever he
handled with the force and freshness of actual existence, Giotto
approached the deep things of the Christian faith and the legend of S.
Francis in the spirit of a man bent simply on realising the objects of his
belief as facts. His allegories of "Poverty," "Chastity," and "Obedience,"
at Assisi, are as beautiful and powerfully felt as they are carefully
constructed. Yet they conceal no abstruse spiritual meaning, but are
plainly painted "for the poor laity of love to read." The artist poet who
coloured the virginal form of Poverty, with the briars beneath her feet
and the roses blooming round her forehead, proved by his well-known
_canzone_ that he was free from monastic Quixotism, and took a practical
view of the value of worldly wealth.[127] His homely humour saved him from
the exaltation and the childishness that formed the weakness of the
Franciscan revival. By the same firm grasp upon reality he created more
than mere abstractions in his _chiaroscuro_ figures of the virtues and
vices at Padua. Fortitude and Justice, Faith and Envy, are gifted by him
with a real corporeal existence. They seem fit to play their parts with
other concrete personalities upon the stage of this world's history.
Giotto in truth possessed a share of that power which belonged to the
Greek sculptors. He embodies myths in physical forms, adequate to their
intellectual meaning. This was in part the secret of the influence he
exercised over the sculptors of the second period;[128] and had the
conditions of the age been favourable to such development, some of the
allegorical types created by him might have passed into the Pantheon of
popular worship as deities incarnate.

The birth of Italian painting is closely connected with the religious life
of the Italians. The building of the church of S. Francis at Assisi gave
it the first great impulse; and to the piety aroused by S. Francis
throughout Italy, but mostly in the valleys of the Apennines, it owed its
animating spirit in the fourteenth century. The church of Assisi is
double. One structure of nave, and choir, and transept, is imposed upon
another; and the walls of both, from floor to coping-stone, are covered
with fresco-painted pictures taking here the place occupied by mosaic in
such churches as the cathedral of Monreale, or by coloured glass in the
northern cathedrals of the pointed style. Many of these frescoes date from
years before the birth of Giotto. Giunta the Pisan, Gaddo Gaddi, and
Cimabue, are supposed to have worked there, painfully continuing or feebly
struggling to throw off the decadent traditions of a dying art. In their
school Giotto laboured, and modern painting arose with the movement of new
life beneath his brush. Here, pondering in his youth upon the story of
Christ's suffering, and in his later manhood on the virtues of S. Francis
and his vow, he learned the secret of giving the semblance of flesh and
blood reality to Christian thought. His achievement was nothing less than
this. The Creation, the Fall, the Redemption of the World, the moral
discipline of man, the Judgment, and the final state of bliss or
misery--all these he quickened into beautiful and breathing forms. Those
were noble days, when the painter had literally acres of walls given him
to cover; when the whole belief of Christendom, grasped by his own faith,
and firmly rooted in the faith of the people round him, as yet unimpaired
by alien emanations from the world of classic culture, had to be set forth
for the first time in art. His work was then a Bible, a compendium of
grave divinity and human history, a book embracing all things needful for
the spiritual and the civil life of man. He spoke to men who could not
read, for whom there were no printed pages, but whose heart received his
teaching through the eye. Thus painting was not then what it is now, a
decoration of existence, but a potent and efficient agent in the education
of the race. Such opportunities do not occur twice in the same age. Once
in Greece for the pagan world; once in Italy for the modern world;--that
must suffice for the education of the human race.

Like Niccola Pisano, Giotto not only founded a school in his native city,
but spread his manner far and wide over Italy, so that the first period of
the history of painting is the Giottesque. The Gaddi of Florence,
Giottino, Puccio Capanna, the Lorenzetti of Siena, Spinello of Arezzo,
Andrea Orcagna, Domenico Veneziano, and the lesser artists of the Pisan
Campo Santo, were either formed or influenced by him. To give an account
of the frescoes of these painters would be to describe how the religious,
social, and philosophical conceptions of the fourteenth century found
complete expression in form and colour. By means of allegory and pictured
scene they drew the portrait of the Middle Age in Italy, performing
jointly and in combination with the followers of Niccola Pisano what
Dante had done singly by his poetry.

It has often been remarked that the drama of the life beyond this
world--its prologue in the courts of death, the tragedy of judgment, and
the final state of bliss or misery prepared for souls--preoccupied the
mind of the Italians at the close of the Middle Ages. Every city had its
pictorial representation of the "Dies Irae;" and within this framework the
artist was free to set forth his philosophy of human nature, adding such
touches of satire or admonition as suited his own temper or the
circumstances of the place for which he worked. Dante's poem has
immortalised this moment of Italian consciousness, when the belief in
another world was used to intensify the emotions of this life--when the
inscrutable darkness toward which men travel became for them a black and
polished mirror reflecting with terrible luminousness the events of the
present and the past. So familiar had the Italians become with the theme
of death artistically treated, that they did not shrink from acted
pageants of the tragedy of Hell. Giovanni Villani tells us that in 1304
the companies and clubs of pleasure, formed for making festival throughout
the town of Florence on the 1st of May, contended with each other for the
prize of novelty and rarity in sports provided for the people. "Among the
rest, the Borgo S. Friano had it cried about the streets, that whoso
wished for news from the other world, should find himself on Mayday on the
bridge Carraja or the neighbouring banks of Arno. And in Arno they
contrived stages upon boats and various small craft, and made the
semblance and figure of Hell there with flames and other pains and
torments, with men dressed as demons horrible to see; and others had the
shape of naked souls; and these they gave unto those divers tortures with
exceeding great crying and groaning and confusion, the which seemed
hateful and appalling unto eyes and ears. The novelty of the sport drew
many citizens, and the bridge Carraja, then of wood, was so crowded that
it brake in several places and fell with the folk upon it, whereby were
many killed and drowned, and many were disabled; and as the crier had
proclaimed, so now in death went much folk to learn news of the other

Such being the temper of the people, we find that some of the greatest
works of art in this age were paintings of Death and Hell, Heaven and
Judgment. Orcagna, in the Strozzi Chapel of S. Maria Novella, set forth
these scenes with a wonderful blending of beauty and grotesque invention.
In the treatment of the Inferno he strove to delineate the whole geography
of Dante's first _cantica_, tracing the successive circles and introducing
the various episodes commemorated by the poet. Interesting as this work
may be for the illustration of the "Divine Comedy" as understood by
Dante's immediate successors, we turn from it with a sense of relief to
admire the saints and angels ranged in goodly row, "each burning upward to
his point of bliss" whereby the painter has depicted Paradise. Early
Italian art has nothing more truly beautiful to offer than the white-robed
Madonna kneeling at the judgment seat of Christ.[129]

It will be felt by every genuine student of art that if Orcagna painted
these frescoes in S. Maria Novella, whereof there is no doubt, he could
not have executed the wall-paintings in the Campo Santo at Pisa attributed
to him by Vasari. To what artists or artist we owe those three grave and
awful panels, may still be regarded an open question.[130] At the end of
the southern wall of the cemetery, exposed to a cold and equal north light
from the cloister windows, these great compositions, after the lapse of
five centuries, bring us face to face with the most earnest thoughts of
mediaeval Christianity. Their main purpose seems to be to illustrate the
advantage of the ascetic over the secular mode of life, and to school men
into living with the fear of death before their eyes. The first displays
the solitary vigils, self-imposed penances, cruel temptations, firm
endurance, and beatific visions of the anchorites in the Thebaid. The
second is devoted to the triumph of Death over the pomp, strength, wealth,
and beauty of the world. The third reveals a grimly realistic and yet
awfully imaginative vision of judgment, such as it has rarely been granted
to a painter to conceive. Thus to the awakening soul of the Italians, on
the threshold of the modern era, with the sonnets of Petrarch and the
stories of Boccaccio sounding in their memories, this terrible master
presented the three saddest phantoms of the Middle Ages--the spectre of
death omnipotent, the solitude of the desert as the only refuge from a
sinful and doomed world, the dread of Divine justice inexorable and
inevitable. In those piles of the promiscuous and abandoned dead, those
fiends and angels poised in mid-air struggling for souls, those blind and
mutilated beggars vainly besieging Death with prayers and imprecations for
deliverance, while she descends in her robe of woven wire to mow down with
her scythe the knights and ladies in their garden of delight; again in
those horses snuffing at the open graves, those countesses and princes
face to face with skeletons, those serpents coiling round the flesh of
what was once fair youth or maid, those multitudes of guilty men and women
trembling beneath the trump of the archangel--tearing their cheeks, their
hair, their breasts in agony, because they see Hell through the
prison-bars, and hear the raging of its fiends, and feel the clasp upon
their wrists and ankles of clawed hairy demon hands; in all this terrific
amalgamation of sinister and tragic ideas, vividly presented, full of
coarse dramatic power, and intensified by faith in their material reality,
the Lorenzetti brethren, if theirs be indeed the hands that painted here,
summed up the nightmares of the Middle Age and bequeathed an ever
memorable picture of its desolate preoccupations to the rising world. They
have called to their aid poetry, and history, and legend. Boccaccio
supplies them with the garden scene of youths and damsels dancing among
roses, while the plague is at their gates, and death is in the air above.
From Petrarch they have borrowed the form and mystic robe of Death
herself[131]. Uguccione della Faggiuola has sat for the portrait of the
Captain who must quail before the terrors of the tomb, and Castruccio
Castracane is the strong man cut off in the blossom of his age. The
prisons of the Visconti have disgorged their victims, cast adrift with
maiming that makes life unendurable but does not hasten death.[132] The
lazar houses and the charnels have been ransacked for forms of grisly
decay. Thus the whole work is not merely "an hieroglyphical and shadowed
lesson" of ascetic philosophy; it is also a realisation of mediaeval life
in its cruellest intensity and most uncompromising truth. For mere beauty
these painters had but little regard.[133] Their distribution of the
subjects chosen for treatment on each panel shows, indeed, a keen sense
for the value of dramatic contrast and a masterly power of varying while
combining the composition. Their chief aim, however, is to produce the
utmost realism of effect, to translate the poignancy of passion, the dread
certainty of doom, into forms of unmistakable fidelity. Therefore they do
not shrink from prosaic and revolting details. The knight who has to hold
his nose above the open grave, the lady who presses her cheek against her
hand with a spasm of distress, the horse who pricks his ears and snorts
with open nostrils, the grooms who start aside like savage creatures, all
suggest the loathsomeness of death, its physical repulsiveness. In the
"Last Judgment" the same kind of dramatic force is used to heighten a
sublime conception. The crouching attitude and the shrouded face of the
Archangel Raphael, whose eyes alone are visible above the hand that he has
thrust forth from his cloak to hide the grief he feels, prove more
emphatically than any less realistic motive could have done, how
terrible, even for the cherubic beings to whose guardianship the human
race has been assigned, will be the trumpet of the wrath of God.[134]
Studying these frescoes, we cannot but reflect what nerves, what brains,
what hearts encased in triple brass the men who thought and felt thus must
have possessed. They make us comprehend not merely the stern and savage
temper of the Middle Ages, but the intense and fiery ebullition of the
Renaissance, into which, as by a sudden liberation, so much imprisoned
pent-up force was driven.

A different but scarcely less important phase of mediaeval thought is
imaged in the frescoes of the Cappella degli Spagnuoli in S. Maria
Novella.[135] Dogmatic theology is here in the ascendant. While S. Francis
bequeathed a legend of singular suavity and beauty, overflowing with the
milk of charity and mildness, to the Church, S. Dominic assumed the
attitude of the saint militant and orthodox. Dante's words about him--

                         L'amoroso drudo[136]
    Della fede Cristiana, il santo atleta,
    Benigno a' suoi, ed a' nemici crudo,

omit nothing that is needed to characterise the impression produced upon
the Christian world by this remorseless foe of heresy, this champion of
the faith who dealt in butcheries and burnings. S. Francis taught love; S.
Dominic taught wrath: and both, perhaps, were needed for the safety of the
mediaeval Church--the one by resuscitating the spirit of the Gospels, the
other by resisting the intrusion of alien ideals ere the time for their
triumph had arrived. What the painters of these frescoes undertook to
delineate for the Dominicans of Florence, was the fabric of society
sustained and held together by the action of inquisitors and doctors
issued from their order. The Pope with his Cardinals, the Emperor with his
Council, represent the two chief forces of Christendom, as conceived by
the mediaeval jurists and the school of Dante. Seated on thrones, they are
ready to rise in defence of Holy Church, symbolised by a picture of S.
Maria del Fiore. At their feet the black and white hounds of the Dominican
order--_Domini canes_, according to the monkish pun--are hunting heretical
wolves. Opposite this painting is the apotheosis of S. Thomas Aquinas.
Beneath the footstool of this "dumb ox of Sicily," as he was called,
grovel the heresiarchs--Arius, Sabellius, Averroes. At again a lower
level, as though supporting the saint on either hand, are ranged seven
sacred and seven profane sciences, each with its chief representative.
Thus Rhetoric and Cicero, Civil Law and Justinian, Speculative Theology
and the Areopagite, Practical Theology and Peter Lombard, Geometry and
Euclid, Arithmetic and Abraham, are grouped together. It will be seen
that the whole learning of the Middle Age--its philosophy as well as its
divinity--is here combined as in a figured abstract, for the wise to
comment on and for the simple to peruse. None can avoid drawing the lesson
that knowledge exists for the service of the Church, and that the Church,
while she instructs society, will claim complete obedience to her decrees.
The _ipse dixit_ of the Dominican author of the "Summa" is law.

Such frescoes, by no means uncommon in Dominican cloisters, still retain
great interest for the student of scholastic thought. In the church of S.
Maria Sopra Minerva at Rome, where Galileo was afterwards compelled to
sign his famous retractation, Filippino Lippi painted another triumph of S.
Thomas, conceived in the spirit of Taddeo Gaddi's, but expressed with the
freedom of the middle Renaissance. Nor should we neglect to notice the
remarkable picture by Traini in S. Caterina at Pisa. Here the doctor of
Aquino is represented in an aureole surrounded by a golden sphere or disc,
on the edge of which are placed the four evangelists, together with Moses
and S. Paul.[137] At his side, within the burnished sphere, Plato and
Aristotle stand upright, holding the "Timaeus" and the "Ethics" in their
hands. Christ in glory is above the group, emitting from His mouth three
rays upon the head of S. Thomas. Single rays descend in like manner upon
the evangelists and Moses and S. Paul. They, like Plato and Aristotle,
hold open books; and rays from these eight volumes converge upon the head
of the angelical doctor, who becomes the focus, as it were, of all the
beams sent forth from Christ and from the classic teachers, whether
directly effused or transmitted through the writers of the Bible. S.
Thomas lastly holds a book open in his hand, and carries others on his
lap; while lines of light are shed from these upon two bands of the
faithful, chiefly Dominican monks, arranged on each side of his footstool.
Averroes lies prostrate beneath his feet with his book face downwards,
lightning-smitten by a shaft from the leaves of the volume in the saint's
hand, whereon is written: _veritatem meditabitur guttur meum et labia mea
detestabuntur impium_.[138]

This picture, afterwards repeated by Benozzo Gozzoli with some change in
the persons,[139] has been minutely described, because it is important to
bear in mind the measure of inspiration conceded by the mediaeval Church to
the fathers of Greek philosophy, and her utter detestation of the
peripatetic traditions transmitted through the Arabic by Averroes.
Averroes, though Dante placed him with the great souls of pagan
civilisation in the first circle of Inferno,[140] was regarded as the
protagonist of infidelity. The myth of incredulity that gathered round his
memory and made him hated in the Middle Ages, has been traced with
exquisite delicacy by Renan,[141] who shows that his name became a
rallying point for freethinkers. Scholars like Petrarch were eager to
confute his sect, and artists used him as a symbol of materialistic
disbelief. Thus we meet with Averroes among the lost souls in the Pisan
Campo Santo, distinguished as usual by his turban and long beard. On the
other hand, the frank acceptance of pagan philosophy, insofar as it could
be accommodated to the doctrine of the Church, finds full expression in
the art of this early period. On the walls of the Palazzo Pubblico at
Siena were painted the figures of Curius Dentatus and Cato,[142] while
the pavement of the Duomo showed Hermes Trismegistus instructing both a
pagan and a Christian, and Socrates ascending the steep hill of virtue.
Perugino, some years later, decorated the Sala del Cambio at Perugia with
the heroes, philosophers, and worthies of the ancient world. We are thus
led by a gradual progress up to the final achievement of Raphael in the
Vatican. Separating the antique from the Christian tradition, but placing
them upon an equality in his art, Raphael made the "School of Athens" an
epitome of Greek and Roman wisdom, while in the "Dispute of the Sacrament"
he symbolised the Church in heaven and Church on earth.

Another class of ideas, no less illustrative of mediaevalism, can be
studied in the Palazzo Pubblico at Siena. There, on the walls of the Sala
della Pace or de' Nove, may be seen the frescoes whereby Ambrogio
Lorenzetti expressed theories of society and government peculiar to his
age.[143] The panels are three in number. In the first the painter has
delineated the Commune of Siena by an imperial male figure in the prime of
life, throned on a judgment-seat, holding a sceptre in his right hand and
a medallion of Justice in his left.[144] He wears no coronet, but a
burgher's cap; and beneath his footstool are the Roman twins, suckled by
the she-wolf.[145] Above his head in the air float Faith, Charity, and
Hope--the Christian virtues; while Justice, Temperance, Magnanimity,
Prudence, Fortitude, and Peace, six women, crowned, and with appropriate
emblems, are enthroned beside him. The majestic giant of the Commune
towers above them all in bulk and stature, as though to indicate the
people's sovereignty. The virtues are his assessors and inspirers--he is
King. Beneath the daïs occupied by these supreme personages, are ranged on
either hand mailed and visored cavaliers, mounted on chargers, the
guardians of the State. All the citizens in their degrees advance toward
the throne, carrying between them, pair by pair, a rope received from the
hands of Concord; while some who have transgressed her laws, are being
brought with bound hands to the judgment-seat. Concord herself, being less
the virtue of the government than of the governed, is seated on a line
with the burghers in a place apart beneath the throne of Civil Justice,
who is allegorised as the dispenser of rewards and punishments, as well as
controller of the armed force and the purse of the community. The whole of
this elaborate allegory suffers by the language of description. Those who
have seen it, and who are familiar with Sienese chronicles, feel that,
artistically laboured as the painter's work may be, every figure had a
passionate and intense meaning for him[146]. His picture is the epitome of
government conducted by a sovereign people. Nor can we fail to be struck
with the beauty of some details. The pale earnest faces of the horsemen
are eminently chivalrous, with knightly honour written on their calm and
fearless features. Peace, reclining at ease upon her pillow, is a lovely
woman in loose raiment, her hair wreathed with blossoms, in her hand an
olive branch, her feet reposing upon casque and shield. She is like a
painted statue, making us wonder whether the artist had not copied her
from the "Aphrodite" of Lysippus, ere the Sienese destroyed this statue in
their dread of paganism[147].

In the other two panels of this hall Ambrogio Lorenzetti painted the
contrast of good and bad government, harmony and discord. A city full of
brawls and bloodshed is set in opposition to one where the dance and viol
do not cease. Merchants are plundered as they issue from the gates on one
side; on the other, trains of sumpter mules are securely winding along
mountain paths. Tyranny, with all the vices for his council and with
Terror for prime minister, presides over the ill-governed town. The
burghers of the happy commune follow trade or pleasure, as they list; a
beautiful winged genius, inscribed "Securitas," floats above their
citadel. It should be added that in both these pictures the architecture
is the same; for the painter has designed to teach how different may be
the state of one and the same city according to its form of government.
Such then were the vivid images whereby Ambrogio Lorenzetti expressed the
mediaeval curse of discord, and the ideal of a righteous rule. It is only
necessary to read the "Diario Sanese" of Allegretto Allegretti in order to
see that he drew no fancy picture. The torchlight procession of burghers
swearing amity by couples in the cathedral there described, receives exact
pictorial illustration in the fresco of the Sala della Pace[148]. Siena,
by her bloody factions and her passionate peacemakings, expressed in
daily action what the painter had depicted on her palace walls.

The method of treatment adopted for these chapters has obliged me to give
priority to Florence, and to speak of the two Lorenzetti, Pietro in the
Pisan Campo Santo and Ambrogio in the Sala della Pace at Siena, as though
they were followers of Giotto; so true is it that the main currents of
Tuscan art were governed by Florentine influences, and that Giotto's
genius made itself felt in all the work of his immediate successors. It
must, however, be observed that painting had an independent origin among
the Sienese, and that Guido da Siena may claim to rank even earlier than
Cimabue.[149] In the year 1260, just before engaging in their duel with
Florence, the Sienese dedicated their city to the Virgin; and the victory
of Montaperti, following immediately upon this vow, gave a marked impulse
to their piety.[150] The early masters of Siena devoted themselves to
religious paintings, especially to pictures of Madonna suited for chapels
and oratories. We find upon these mystic panels an ecstasy of adoration
and a depth of fervour which are alien to the more sober spirit of
Florence, combined with an almost infantine delight in pure bright
colours, and in the decorative details of the miniaturist.

The first great painter among the Sienese was Duccio di Buoninsegna.[151]
The completion of his masterpiece--a picture of the Majesty of the Virgin,
executed for the high altar of the Duomo--marked an epoch in the history
of Siena. Nearly two years had been spent upon it; the painter receiving
sixteen soldi a day from the Commune, together with his materials, in
exchange for his whole time and skill and labour. At last, on June 9,
1310, it was carried from Duccio's workshop to its place in the cathedral.
A procession was formed by the clergy, with the archbishop at their head,
followed by the magistrates of the Commune, and the chief men of the Monte
de' Nove. These great folk crowded round their Lady; after came a
multitude of burghers bearing tapers; while the rear was brought up by
women and children. The bells rang and trumpets blew as this new image of
the Sovereign Mistress of Siena was borne along the summer-smiling streets
of her metropolis to take its throne in her high temple. Duccio's
altar-piece presented on one face to the spectator a Virgin seated with
the infant Christ upon her lap, and receiving the homage of the patron
saints of Siena. On the other, he depicted the principal scenes of the
Gospel story and the Passion of our Lord in twenty-eight compartments.
What gives peculiar value to this elaborate work of Sienese art is, that
in it Duccio managed to combine the tradition of an early hieratic style
of painting with all the charm of brilliant colouring and with dramatic
force of presentation only rivalled at that time by Giotto. Independently
of Giotto, he performed at a stroke what Cimabue and his pupil had
achieved for the Florentines, and bequeathed to the succeeding painters of
Siena a tradition of art beyond which they rarely passed.

Far more than their neighbours at Florence, the Sienese remained fettered
by the technical methods and the pietistic formulae of the earliest
religious painting. To make their conventional representations of
Madonna's love and woe and glory burn with all the passion of a fervent
spirit, and to testify their worship by the oblation of rich gifts in
colouring and gilding massed around her, was their earnest aim. It
followed that, when they attempted subjects on a really large scale, the
faults of the miniaturist clung about them. I need hardly say that
Ambrogio and Pietro Lorenzetti form notable exceptions to this general
statement. It may be applied, however, with some truth to Simone Martini,
the painter, who during his lifetime enjoyed a celebrity only second to
that of Giotto.[152] Like Giotto, Simone exercised his art in many parts
of Italy. Siena, Pisa, Assisi, Orvieto, Naples, and Avignon can still
boast of wall and easel pictures from his hand; and though it has been
suggested that he took no part in the decoration of the Cappella degli
Spagnuoli, the impress of his manner remains at Florence in those noble
frescoes of the "Church Militant" and the "Consecration of S.
Dominic."[153] Simone's first undisputed works are to be seen at Siena and
at Assisi, where we learn what he could do as a _frescante_ in competition
with the ablest Florentines. In the Palazzo Pubblico of his native city he
painted a vast picture of the Virgin enthroned beneath a canopy and
surrounded by saints;[154] while at Assisi he put forth his whole power in
portraying the legend of S. Martin. In all his paintings we trace the
skill of an exquisite and patient craftsman, elaborately careful to finish
his work with the utmost refinement, sensitive to feminine beauty, full of
delicate inventiveness, and gifted with a rare feeling for grace. These
excellent qualities tend, however, towards affectation and over-softness;
nor are they fortified by such vigour of conception or such majesty in
composition as belong to the greatest _trecentisti_. The Lorenzetti alone
soared high above the Sienese mannerism into a region of masculine
imaginative art. We feel Simone's charm mostly in single heads and
detached figures, some of which at Assisi have incomparable sweetness.
"Molles Senae," the delicate and femininely variable, fond of all things
brilliant, and unstable through defect of sternness, was the fit mother of
this ingenious and delightful master.

After the days of Duccio and Simone Martini, of Ambrogio and Pietro
Lorenzetti, were over, there remained but little for the Sienese to do in
painting. Taddeo di Bartolo continued the tradition of Duccio as the later
Giottesques continued that of Giotto. His most remarkable wall-painting is
a fresco of the Apostles visiting the Virgin, the motive of which is
marked by great originality.[155] Our Lady is seated in an open loggia
with a company of holy men and women round her. Descending from the sky
and floating through the arches are three of the Apostles, while one who
has just alighted from his aërial transit kneels and folds his hands in
adoration. Seldom have the longing and the peace of loving worship been
more poetically expressed than here. The seated, kneeling, standing, and
flying figures are admirably grouped together; their draperies are
dignified and massive; and the architectural accessories help the
composition by dividing it into three balanced sections.

Such power of depicting movement was rare in the fourteenth century. To
find its analogue, we must betake ourselves to the frescoes of Spinello
Aretino, a master more decidedly Giottesque than his contemporary Taddeo
di Bartolo.[156] A Gabriel, rushing down from heaven to salute Madonna,
with all the whirr of arch-angelic pinions and the glory of Paradise
around him, is a fine specimen of Spinello's vehemence. The same quality,
more tempered, is noticeable in his frescoes of the legend of S. Ephesus
at Pisa.[157] Few faces in the paintings of any period are more
fascinating than the profiles under steel-blue battle-caps of that godlike
pair--the knightly saint and the Archangel Michael--breaking by the
irresistible force of their onset and their calm youthful beauty through
the mailed ranks of the Sardinian pagans. Spinello was essentially a
warlike painter; among the best of his compositions may be named the
series of pictures from the history of the Venetian campaign against
Frederick Barbarossa.[158] It is a pity that the war of liberation carried
on by the Lombard communes with the Empire should have left but little
trace on Italian art; and therefore these paintings of Spinello, in
addition to their intrinsic merit, have rare historical interest.
Delighting in the gleam of armour and the shock of speared warriors,
Spinello communicated something of this fiery spirit even to his saints.
The monks of Samminiato near Florence employed him in 1388 to paint their
newly-finished sacristy with the legend of S. Benedict. In the execution
of this task Spinello displayed his usual grandeur and vigour, treating
the grey-robed brethren of Monte Cassino like veritable champions of a
militant Church. When he died in 1410, it might have been truly said that
the flame of the torch kindled by Giotto was at last extinguished.

The student of history cannot but notice with surprise that a city famed
like Siena for its vanity, its factious quarrels, and its delicate
living, should have produced an almost passionately ardent art of
piety.[159] The same reflections are suggested at Perugia, torn by the
savage feuds of the Oddi and Baglioni, at warfare with Assisi, reduced to
exhaustion by the discords of jealous parties, yet memorable in the
history of painting as the head-quarters of the pietistic Umbrian school.
The contradiction is, however, in both cases more apparent than real. The
people both of Siena and Perugia were highly impressible and emotional,
quick to obey the promptings of their passion, whether it took the form of
hatred or of love, of spiritual fervour or of carnal violence. Yielding at
one moment to the preachings of S. Bernardino, at another to the
persuasions of Grifonetto degli Baglioni, the Perugians won the character
of being fiends or angels according to the temper of their leaders; while
Siena might boast with equal right of having given birth to S. Catherine
and nurtured Beccadelli. The religious feeling was a passion with them on
a par with all the other movements of their quick and mobile temperament:
it needed ecstatic art for its interpretation. What was cold and sober
would not satisfy the men of these two cities. The Florentines, more
justly balanced, less abandoned to the frenzies of impassioned impulse,
less capable of feeling the rapt exaltation of the devotee, expressed
themselves in art distinguished for its intellectual power, its sanity,
its scientific industry, its adequacy to average human needs. Therefore,
Florentine influences determined the course of painting in Central Italy.
Therefore Giotto, who represented the Florentine genius in the fourteenth
century, set his stamp upon the Lorenzetti. The mystic painters of Umbria
and Siena have their high and honoured place in the history of Italian
art. They supply an element which, except in the work of Fra Angelico, was
defective at Florence; but to the Florentines was committed the great
charge of interpreting the spirit of Italian civilisation in all its
branches, not for the cloister only, or the oratory, but for humanity at
large, through painting.

Giotto and his followers, then, in the fourteenth century painted, as we
have seen, the religious, philosophical, and social conceptions of their
age. As artists, their great discovery was the secret of depicting life.
The ideas they expressed belonged to the Middle Ages. But by their method
and their spirit they anticipated the Renaissance. In executing their work
upon the walls of palaces and churches, they employed a kind of fresco.
Fresco was essentially the Florentine vehicle of expression. Among the
peoples of Central Italy it took the place of mosaic in Sicily, Ravenna,
and Venice, as the means of communicating ideas by forms to the unlettered
laity, and as affording to the artist the widest and the freest sphere for
the expression of his thoughts.[160]


[118] In the _History of Painting in Italy_, by Messrs. Crowe and

[119] Nothing is more astonishing than the sterility of Genoa and of
Rome. Neither in sculpture nor in painting did these cities produce
anything memorable, though Genoa was well placed for receiving the
influences of Pisa, and had the command of the marble quarries of
Carrara, while Rome was the resort of all the art-students of Italy. The
very early eminence of Apulia in architecture and the plastic arts led to
no results.

[120] Milan, it is true, produced a brilliant school of sculptors, and
the Certosa of Pavia is a monument of her spontaneous artistic genius.
But in painting, until the date of Lionardo's advent, she achieved

[121] See Vol. I., _Age of the Despots_, pp. 182-188, for the
constitutional characteristics of Florence and Venice; and Vol. II.,
_Revival of Learning_, pp. 118-120, for the intellectual supremacy of

[122] A glance at the map shows to what a large extent the Italians owed
the progress of their arts to Tuscany. Pisa, as we have already seen,
took the lead in sculpture. Florence, at a somewhat later period, revived
painting, while Siena contemporaneously developed a style peculiar to
herself. This Sienese style--thoroughly Tuscan, though different from
that of Florence--exercised an important influence over the schools of
Umbria, and gave a peculiar quality to Perugian painting. Through Piero
della Francesca, a native of Borgo San Sepolcro, the Florentine tradition
was extended to Umbria and the Roman States. Perugia might be even
geographically claimed for Tuscany, inasmuch as the Tiber divides the old
Etrurian territory from the Umbrians and the duchy of Spoleto. Lionardo
was a Tuscan settled as an alien in Milan. Raphael, though a native of
Urbino, derived his training from Florence, indirectly through his father
and his master Perugino, more immediately from Fra Bartolommeo and
Michael Angelo.

[123] If Vasari is to be trusted, this visit of Charles of Anjou to
Cimabue's studio took place in 1267; but neither the Malespini nor
Villani mention it, and the old belief that the Borgo Allegri owed its
name to the popular rejoicing at that time is now somewhat discredited.
See Vasari, Le Monnier, 1846, vol. i. p. 225, note 4. Gino Capponi, in
his _Storia della Repubblica di Firenze_, vol. i. p. 157, refuses however
to reject the legend.

[124] See Capponi, vol. i. pp. 59, 78, for a description of the gay and
courteous living of the Florentines upon the end of the thirteenth

[125] See the _Descrizione della Peste di Firenze_.

[126] I wish I could here transcribe the most beautiful passage from
Ruskin's _Giotto and his Works in Padua_, pp. 11, 12, describing the
contrast between the landscape of Valdarno and the landscape of the hills
of the Mugello district. I can only refer readers to the book, printed
for the Arundel Society, 1854.

[127] See Trucchi, _Poesie Italiane Inedite_, vol. ii. p. 8.

[128] See above, Chapter III, Relation of Sculpture to Painting.

[129] The wonderful beauty of Orcagna's faces, profile after profile laid
together like lilies in a garden border, can only be discovered after
long study. It has been my good fortune to examine, through the kindness
of Mrs. Higford Burr, of Aldermaston, a large series of tracings, taken
chiefly by the Right Hon. A. H. Layard, from the frescoes of Giottesque
and other early masters, which, by the selection of simple form in
outline, demonstrate not only the grand composition of these religious
paintings, but also the incomparable loveliness of their types. How great
the _Trecentisti_ were as draughtsmen, how imaginative was the beauty of
their conception, can be best appreciated by thus artificially separating
their design from their colouring. The semblance of archaism disappears,
and leaves a vision of pure beauty, delicate and spiritual. The
collection to which I have alluded was made some years ago, when access
to the wall-paintings of Italy for the purpose of tracing was still
possible. It includes nearly the whole of Lorenzetti's work in the Sala
della Pace, much of Giotto, the Gozzoli frescoes at S. Gemignano,
frescoes of the Veronese masters and of the Paduan Baptistery, a great
deal of Piero della Francesca, Mantegna, Luini, Gaudenzio Ferrari,
Pinturicchio, Masolino, &c. The earliest masters of Arezzo, Pisa, Siena,
Urbino are copiously illustrated, while few burghs or hamlets of the
Tuscan and Umbrian districts have been left unvisited.

[130] See Crowe and Cavalcaselle, vol. i. pp. 445-451, for a discussion
of the question. They incline to the authorship of Pietro and Ambrogio
Lorenzetti. But the last Florentine edition of Vasari renders this
opinion doubtful.

    Ed una donna involta in veste negra,
    Con un furor qual io non so se mai
    Al tempo de' giganti fosse a Flegra.
        _Trionfo della Morte_, cap. i. 31.

[132] On a scroll above these wretches is written this legend:--

    Dacchè prosperitade ci ha lasciati,
    O morte, medicina d'ogni pena,
    Deh vieni a darne omai l'ultima cena.

[133] This might be used as an argument against the Lorenzetti
hypothesis; for their work at Siena is eminently beautiful.

[134] The attitude and the eyes of this archangel have an imaginative
potency beyond that of any other motive used by any painter to suggest
the terror of the _Dies Irae_. Simplicity and truth of vision in the
artist have here touched the very summit of intense dramatic

[135] The "Triumph of S. Thomas Aquinas," in this cloister-chapel, has
long been declared the work of Taddeo Gaddi. "The Triumph of the Church
Militant," and the "Consecration of S. Dominic," used to be ascribed, on
the faith of Vasari, to Simone Martini of Siena. Independently of its
main subject, this vast wall-painting is specially interesting on account
of its portraits. The work has a decidedly Sienese character; but recent
critics are inclined to assign it to a certain Andrea, of Florence. See
Crowe and Cavalcaselle, vol. ii. p. 89. The same critics doubt the hand
of Taddeo Gaddi in the "Triumph of S. Thomas," vol. i. p. 374, and remark
that "these productions of the art of the fourteenth century are, indeed,
second-class works, executed by pupils of the Sienese and Florentine
school, and unworthy of the high praise which has ever been given to
them." Whatever may be ultimately thought about the question of their
authorship and pictorial merit, their interest to the student of Italian
painting in relation to mediaeval thought will always remain indisputable.
Few buildings in the length and breadth of Italy possess such claims on
our attention as the Cappella degli Spagnuoli.

[136] The amorous fere of the Christian faith, the holy athlete, gentle
to his own, and to his foes cruel.

[137] Everything outside this golden region is studded with stars to
signify an epoyranios topos or heaven of heavens. S. Thomas and
the Greeks are inside the golden sphere of science, and below on earth
are the heresiarchs and faithful. Rosini gives a faithful outline of this
picture in his Atlas of Illustrations.

[138] "For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination
to my lips."--Prov. viii. 7.

[139] Gozzoli's picture is now in the Louvre. I think Guillaume de Saint
Amour takes the place of Averroes.

[140] _Inf._ iv. 144.

[141] _Averroès et l'Averroïsme_, pp. 236-316.

[142] In the chapel. They are the work of Taddeo di Bartolo, and bear
this inscription: "Specchiatevi in costoro, voi che reggete." The
mediaeval painters of Italy learned lessons of civility and government as
willingly from classical tradition, as they deduced the lessons of piety
and godly living from the Bible. Herein they were akin to Dante, who
chose Virgil for the symbol of the human understanding and Beatrice for
the symbol of divine wisdom, revealed to man in Theology.

[143] He began his work in 1337.

[144] A similar mode of symbolising the Commune is chosen in the
bas-reliefs of Archbishop Tarlati's tomb at Arezzo, where the discord of
the city is represented by an old man of gigantic stature, throned and
maltreated by the burghers, who are tearing out his hair by handfuls.
Over this figure is written "Il Comune Pelato."

[145] These were adopted as the ensign of Siena, in the Middle Ages.

[146] In the year 1336, just before Ambrogio began to paint, the Sienese
Republic had concluded a league with Florence for the maintenance of the
Guelf party. The Monte de' Nove still ruled the city with patriotic
spirit and equity, and had not yet become a forceful oligarchy. The power
of the Visconti was still in its cradle; the great plague had not
devastated Tuscany. As early as 1355 the whole of the fair order
represented by Ambrogio was shaken to the foundation, and Siena deserved
the words applied to it by De Commines. See Vol. L, _Age of the Despots_,
p. 162, note 2.

[147] Rio, perversely bent on stigmatising whatever in Italian art
savours of the Renaissance, depreciates this lovely form of Peace. _L'Art
Chrétien_, vol. i. p. 57.

[148] See Muratori, vol. xxiii., or the passage translated by me in Vol.
I., _Age of the Despots_, p. 480.

[149] His "Madonna" in S. Domenico is dated 1221. For a full discussion
of Guido da Siena's date, see Crowe and Cavalcaselle, vol. i. pp.

[150] On their coins the Sienese struck this legend: "Sena vetus Civitas
Virginis." It will be remembered how the Florentines, two centuries and a
half later, dedicated their city to Christ as king.

[151] Date of birth unknown; date of death, about 1320.

[152] He is better known as Simone Memmi, a name given to him by a
mistake of Vasari's. He was born in 1283 at Siena. He died in 1344 at
Avignon. Petrarch mentions his portrait of Madonna Laura, in the 49th and
50th sonnets of the "Rime in Vita di Madonna Laura." In another place he
uses these words about Simone: "Duos ego novi pictores egregios, nec
formosos, Jottum Florentinum civem, cujus inter modernos fama ingens est,
et Simonem Senensem."--_Epist. Fam._ lib. v. 17, p. 653. Petrarch
proceeds to mention that he has also known sculptors, and asserts their
inferiority to painters in modern times.

[153] See above, Chapter IV, Theology and S. Dominic. Messrs. Crowe and
Cavalcaselle reject, not without reason, as it seems to me, the tradition
that Simone painted the frescoes of S. Ranieri in the Campo Santo at
Pisa. See vol. ii. p. 83. What remains of his work at Pisa is an
altar-piece in S. Caterina.

[154] To Simone is also attributed the interesting portrait of
Guidoriccio Fogliani de' Ricci, on horseback, in the Sala del Consiglio.
This, however, has been so much repainted as to have lost its character.

[155] In S. Francesco at Pisa.

[156] Spinello degli Spinelli was born of a Ghibelline family, exiled
from Florence, who settled at Arezzo about 1308. He died at Arezzo in
1410, aged 92, according to some computations.

[157] South wall of the Campo Santo, on the left-hand of the entrance.

[158] In the Sala di Balia of the public palace at Siena.

[159] See _Inferno_, xxix. 121; the sonnets on the months by Cene dalla
Chitarra, _Poeti del Primo Secolo,_ vol. ii. pp. 196-207; the epithet
"Molles Senae," given by Beccadelli; and the remarks of De Comines.

[160] I have not thought it necessary to distinguish between tempera and
fresco. In tempera painting the colours were mixed with egg, gum, and
other vehicles dissolved in water, and laid upon a dry ground. In fresco
painting the colours, mixed only with water, were laid upon plaster while
still damp. The latter process replaced the former for wall-paintings in
the fourteenth century.



Mediaeval Motives exhausted--New Impulse toward Technical
Perfection--Naturalists in Painting--Intermediate Achievement needed
for the Great Age of Art--Positive Spirit of the Fifteenth
Century--Masaccio--The Modern Manner--Paolo Uccello--Perspective--Realistic
Painters--The Model--Piero della Francesca--His Study of Form--Resurrection
at Borgo San Sepolcro--Melozzo da Forli--Squarcione at Padua--Gentile da
Fabriano--Fra Angelico--Benozzo Gozzoli--His Decorative Style--Lippo
Lippi--Frescoes at Prato and Spoleto--Filippino Lippi--Sandro
Botticelli--His Value for the Student of Renaissance Fancy--His Feeling
for Mythology--Piero di Cosimo--Domenico Ghirlandajo--In what sense he
sums up the Age--Prosaic Spirit--Florence hitherto supreme in
Painting--Extension of Art Activity throughout Italy--Medicean Patronage.

After the splendid outburst of painting in the first half of the
fourteenth century, there came a lull. The thoughts and sentiments of
mediaeval Italy had been now set forth in art. The sincere and simple style
of Giotto was worked out. But the new culture of the Revival had not as
yet sufficiently penetrated the Italians for the painters to express it;
nor had they mastered the technicalities of their craft in such a manner
as to render the delineation of more complex forms of beauty possible. The
years between 1400 and 1470 may be roughly marked out as the second period
of great, activity in painting. At this time sculpture, under the hands of
Ghiberti, Donatello, and Luca della Robbia, had reached a higher point
than the sister art. The debt the sculptors owed to Giotto, they now
repaid in full measure to his successors, in obedience to the law whereby
sculpture, though subordinated, as in Italy, to painting, is more
precocious in its evolution. One of the most marked features of this
period was the progress in the art of design, due to bronze modelling and
bas-relief; for the painters, labouring in the workshops of the goldsmiths
and the stone-carvers, learned how to study the articulation of the human
body, to imitate the nude, and to aim by means of graduated light and dark
at rendering the effect of roundness in their drawing. The laws of
perspective and foreshortening were worked out by Paolo Uccello and
Brunelleschi. New methods of colouring were attempted by the Peselli and
the Pollajuoli. Abandoning the conventional treatment of religious themes,
the artists began to take delight in motives drawn from everyday
experience. It became the fashion to introduce contemporary costumes,
striking portraits, and familiar incidents into sacred subjects, so that
many pictures of this period, though worthless to the student of religious
art, are interesting for their illustration of Florentine custom and
character. At the same time the painters began to imitate landscape and
architecture, loading the background of their frescoes with pompous vistas
of palaces and city towers, or subordinating their figures to fantastic
scenery of wood and rock and seashore. Many were naturalists, delighting,
like Gentile da Fabriano, in the delineation of field flowers and living
creatures, or, like Piero di Cosimo, in the portrayal of things rare and
curious. Gardens please their eyes, and birds and beasts and insects.
Whole menageries and aviaries, for instance, were painted by Paolo
Uccello. Others, again, abandoned the old ground of Christian story for
the tales of Greece and Rome; and not the least charming products of the
time are antique motives treated with the freshness of romantic feeling.
We look in vain for the allegories of the Giottesque masters: that stage
of thought has been traversed, and a new cycle of poetic ideas, fanciful,
idyllic, corresponding to Boiardo's episodes rather than to Dante's
vision, opens for the artist. Instead of seeking to set forth vast
subjects with the equality of mediocrity, like the Gaddi, or to invent
architectonic compositions embracing the whole culture of their age, like
the Lorenzetti, the painters were now bent upon realising some special
quality of beauty, expressing some fantastic motive, or solving some
technical problem of peculiar difficulty. They had, in fact, outgrown the
childhood of their art; and while they had not yet attained to mastery,
had abandoned the impossible task of making it the medium of universal
expression. In this way the manifold efforts of the workers in the first
half of the fifteenth century prepared the ground for the great painters
of the Golden Age. It remained for Raphael and his contemporaries to
achieve the final synthesis of art in masterpieces of consummate beauty.
But this they could not have done without the aid of those innumerable
intermediate labourers, whose productions occupy in art the place of
Bacon's _media axiomata_ in science. Remembering this, we ought not to
complain that the purpose of painting at this epoch was divided, or that
its achievements were imperfect. The whole intellectual conditions of the
country were those of growth, experiment, preparation, and acquisition,
rather than of full accomplishment. What happened in the field of
painting, was happening also in the field of scholarship; and we have good
reason to be thankful that by the very nature of the arts, these tentative
endeavours have a more enduring charm than the dull tomes of contemporary
students. Nor, again, is it rational to regret that painting, having
started with the sincere desire of expressing the hopes and fears that
agitate the soul of man, and raise him to a spiritual region, should now
be occupied with lessons in perspective and anatomy. In the twofold
process of discovering the world and man, this dry ground had inevitably
to be explored, and its exploration could not fail to cost the sacrifice
of much that was impassioned and imaginative in the earlier and less
scientific age of art.[161] The spirit of Cosimo de' Medici, almost
cynical in its positivism, the spirit of Sixtus IV., almost godless in its
egotism, were abroad in Italy at this period;[162] indeed, the fifteenth
century presents at large a spectacle of prosaic worldliness and unideal
aims. Yet the work done by the artists was the best work of the epoch, far
more fruitful of results and far more permanently valuable than that of
Filelfo inveighing in filthy satires against his personal foes, or of
Beccadelli endeavouring to inoculate modern literature with the virus of
pagan vices. Petrarch in the fourteenth century had preached the evangel
of humanism; Giotto in the fourteenth century had given life to painting.
The students of the fifteenth, though their spirit was so much baser and
less large than Petrarch's, were following in the path marked out for them
and leading forward to Erasmus. The painters of the fifteenth, though they
lacked the unity of aim and freshness of their master, were learning what
was needful for the crowning and fulfilment of his labours on a loftier

Foremost among the pioneers of Renaissance-painting, towering above them
all by head and shoulders, like Saul among the tribes of Israel, stands
Masaccio.[163] The Brancacci Chapel of the Carmine at Florence, painted in
fresco almost entirely by his hand, was the school where all succeeding
artists studied, and whence Raphael deigned to borrow the composition and
the figures of a portion of his Cartoons. The "Legend of S. Catherine,"
painted by Masaccio in 8. Clemente at Rome, though an earlier work, is
scarcely less remarkable as evidence that a new age had begun for art. In
his frescoes the qualities essential to the style of the Renaissance--what
Vasari calls the modern manner--appear precociously full-formed. Besides
life and nature they have dignity and breadth, the grand and heightened
manner of emancipated art. Masaccio is not inferior to Giotto in his power
of telling a story with simplicity; but he understands the value of
perspective for realising the circumstances of the scene depicted. His
august groups of the Apostles are surrounded by landscape tranquillising
to the sense and pleasant to the eye. Mountain-lines and distant horizons
lend space and largeness to his compositions, and the figures of his men
and women move freely in a world prepared for them. In Masaccio's
management of drapery we discern the influence of plastic art; without
concealing the limbs, which are always modelled with a freedom that
suggests the power of movement even in stationary attitudes, the
voluminous folds and broad masses of powerfully coloured raiment invest
his forms with a nobility unknown before in painting. His power of
representing the nude is not less remarkable. But what above all else
renders his style attractive is the sense of aërial space. For the first
time in art the forms of living persons are shown moving in a transparent
medium of light, graduated according to degrees of distance, and
harmonised by tones that indicate an atmospheric unity. In comparing
Masaccio with Giotto we must admit that, with so much gained, something
has been sacrificed. Giotto succeeded in presenting the idea, the feeling,
the pith of the event, and pierced at once to the very ground-root of
imagination. Masaccio thinks over-much, perhaps, of external form, and is
intent on air-effects and colouring. He realises the phenomenal truth with
a largeness and a dignity peculiar to himself. But we ask whether he was
capable of bringing close to our hearts the secret and the soul of
spiritual things. Has not art beneath his touch become more scenic, losing
thereby somewhat of dramatic poignancy?

Born in 1402, Masaccio left Florence in 1429 for Rome, and was not heard
of by his family again. Thus perished, at the early age of twenty-seven, a
painter whose work reveals not only the originality of real creative
genius, but a maturity that moves our wonder. What might he not have done
if he had lived? Between his style in the Brancacci chapel and that of
Raphael in the Vatican there seems to be but a narrow gap, which might
perchance have been passed over by this man, if death had spared him.

Masaccio can by no means be taken as a fair instance of the painters of
his age. Gifted with exceptional powers, he overleaped the difficulties of
his art, and arrived intuitively at results whereof as yet no scientific
certainty had been secured. His contemporaries applied humbler talents to
severe study, and wrought out by patient industry those principles which
Masaccio had divined. Their work is therefore at the same time more
archaic and more pedantic, judged by modern standards. It is difficult to
imagine a style of painting less attractive than that of Paolo
Uccello.[164] Yet his fresco of the "Deluge" in the cloisters of S. Maria
Novella, and his battlepieces--one of which may be seen in the National
Gallery--taught nearly all that painters needed of perspective. The lesson
was conveyed in hard, dry, uncouth diagrams, ill-coloured and deficient in
the quality of animation. At this period the painters, like the sculptors,
were trained as goldsmiths, and Paolo had been a craftsman of that guild
before he gave his whole mind to the study of linear perspective and the
drawing of animals. The precision required in this trade forced artists
to study the modelling of the human form, and promoted that crude
naturalism which has been charged against their pictures. Carefully to
observe, minutely to imitate some actual person--the Sandro of your
workshop or the Cecco from the marketplace--became the pride of painters.
No longer fascinated by the dreams of mediaeval mysticism, and unable for
the moment to invest ideals of the fancy with reality, they meanwhile made
the great discovery that the body of a man is a miracle of beauty, each
limb a divine wonder, each muscle a joy as great as sight of stars or
flowers. Much that is repulsive in the pictures of the Pollajuoli and
Andrea del Castagno, the leaders in this branch of realism, is due to
admiration for the newly studied mechanism of the human form. They seem to
have cared but little to select their types or to accentuate expression,
so long as they were able to portray the man before them with
fidelity.[165] The comeliness of average humanity was enough for them; the
difficulties of reproducing what they saw, exhausted their force. Thus the
master-works on which they staked their reputation show them emulous of
fame as craftsmen, while only here and there, in minor paintings for the
most part, the poet that was in them sees the light. Brunelleschi told
Donatello the truth when he said that his Christ was a crucified
_contadino_. Intent on mastering the art of modelling, and determined
above all things to be accurate, the sculptor had forgotten that something
more was wanted in a crucifix than the careful study of a robust

A story of a somewhat later date still further illustrates the dependence
of the work of art upon the model in Renaissance Florence. Jacopo
Sansovino made the statue of a youthful "Bacchus" in close imitation of a
lad called Pippo Fabro. Posing for hours together naked in a cold studio,
Pippo fell into ill health, and finally went mad. In his madness he
frequently assumed the attitude of the "Bacchus" to which his life had
been sacrificed, and which is now his portrait. The legend of the painter
who kept his model on a cross in order that he might the more minutely
represent the agonies of death by crucifixion, is but a mythus of the
realistic method carried to its logical extremity.

Piero della Francesca, a native of Borgo San Sepolcro, and a pupil of
Domenico Veneziano, must be placed among the painters of this period who
advanced their art by scientific study. He carried the principles of
correct drawing and solid modelling as far as it is possible for the
genius of man to do, and composed a treatise on perspective in the vulgar
tongue. But these are not his only titles to fame. By dignity of
portraiture, by loftiness of style, and by a certain poetical solemnity of
imagination, he raised himself above the level of the mass of his
contemporaries. Those who have once seen his fresco of the "Resurrection"
in the hall of the Compagnia della Misericordia at Borgo San Sepolcro,
will never forget the deep impression of solitude and aloofness from all
earthly things produced by it. It is not so much the admirable grouping
and masterly drawing of the four sleeping soldiers, or even the majestic
type of the Christ emergent without effort from the grave, as the
communication of a mood felt by the painter and instilled into our souls,
that makes this by far the grandest, most poetic, and most awe-inspiring
picture of the Resurrection. The landscape is simple and severe, with the
cold light upon it of the dawn before the sun is risen. The drapery of the
ascending Christ is tinged with auroral colours like the earliest clouds
of morning; and His level eyes, with the mystery of the slumber of the
grave still upon them, seem gazing, far beyond our scope of vision, into
the region of the eternal and illimitable. Thus, with Piero for
mystagogue, we enter an inner shrine of deep religious revelation. The
same high imaginative faculty marks the fresco of the "Dream of
Constantine" in S. Francesco at Arezzo, where, it may be said in passing,
the student of art must learn to estimate what Piero could do in the way
of accurate foreshortening, powerful delineation of solid bodies, and
noble treatment of drapery.[166] To Piero, again, we owe most precious
portraits of two Italian princes, Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta and
Federigo of Urbino, masterpieces[167] of fidelity to nature and sound

In addition to the many great paintings that command our admiration, Piero
claims honour as the teacher of Melozzo da Forli and of Luca Signorelli.
Little is left to show the greatness of Melozzo; but the frescoes
preserved in the Quirinal are enough to prove that he continued the grave
and lofty manner of his master.[168] Signorelli bears a name illustrious
in the first rank of Italian painters; and to speak of him will be soon my
duty. It was the special merit of these artists to elevate the ideal of
form and to seek after sublimity, without departing from the path of
conscientious labour, in an age preoccupied on the one hand with
technicality and naturalism, on the other with decorative prettiness and

While the Florentine and Umbro-Tuscan masters were perfecting the arts of
accurate design, a similar direction toward scientific studies was given
to the painters of Northern Italy at Padua. Michael Savonarola, writing
his panegyric of Padua about 1440, expressly mentions Perspective as a
branch of philosophy taught in the high school;[169] and the influence of
Francesco Squarcione, though exaggerated by Vasari, was not
inconsiderable. This man, who began life as a tailor or embroiderer, was
early interested in the fine arts. Like Ciriac of Ancona, he had a taste
for travel and collection,[170] visiting the sacred soil of Greece and
sojourning in divers towns of Italy, everywhere making drawings, copying
pictures, taking casts from statues, and amassing memoranda on the relics
of antiquity as well as on the methods practised by contemporary painters.
Equipped with these aids to study, Squarcione returned to Padua, his
native place, where he opened a kind of school for painters. It is clear
that he was himself less an artist than an amateur of painting, with a
turn for teaching, and a conviction, based upon the humanistic instincts
of his age, that the right way of learning was by imitation of the
antique. During the course of his career he is said to have taught no less
than 137 pupils, training his apprentices by the exhibition of casts and
drawings, and giving them instruction in the science of perspective.[171]
From his studio issued the mighty Andrea Mantegna, whose life-work, one of
the most weighty moments in the history of modern art, will be noticed at
length in the next chapter. For the present it is enough to observe that
through Squarcione the scientific and humanistic movement of the fifteenth
century was communicated to the art of Northern Italy. There, as at
Florence, painting was separated from ecclesiastical tradition, and a new
starting-point was sought in the study of mathematical principles, and
the striving after form for its own sake.

Without attempting the detailed history of painting in this period of
divided energy and diverse effort, it is needful here to turn aside and
notice those masters of the fifteenth century who remained comparatively
uninfluenced by the scholastic studies of their contemporaries. Of these,
the earliest and most notable was Gentile da Fabriano, the last great
painter of the Gubbian school.[172] In the predella of his masterpiece at
Florence there is a little panel, which attracts attention as one of the
earliest attempts to represent a sunrise. The sun has just appeared above
one of those bare sweeping hill-sides so characteristic of Central Italian
landscape. Part of the country lies untouched by morning, cold and grey:
the rest is silvered with the level light, falling sideways on the
burnished leaves and red fruit of the orange trees, and casting shadows
from olive branches on the furrows of a new-ploughed field. Along the road
journey Joseph and Mary and the infant Christ, so that you may call this
little landscape a "Flight into Egypt," if you choose. Gentile, with all
his Umbrian pietism, was a painter for whom the fair sights of the earth
had exquisite value. The rich costumes of the Eastern kings, their train
of servants, their hawks and horses, hounds and monkeys, are painted by
him with scrupulous fidelity; and nothing can be more true to nature than
the wild flowers he has copied in the framework of this picture. Yet we
perceive that, though he felt in his own way the naturalistic impulse of
the age, he had scarcely anything in common with masters like Uccello or

Still less had Fra Angelico. Of all the painters of this period he most
successfully resisted the persuasions of the Renaissance, and perfected an
art that owed little to sympathy with the external world. He thought it a
sin to study or to imitate the naked form, and his most beautiful faces
seem copied from angels seen in visions, not from any sons of men. While
the artists around him were absorbed in mastering the laws of geometry and
anatomy, Fra Angelico sought to express the inner life of the adoring
soul. Only just so much of realism, whether in the drawing of the body and
its drapery, or in the landscape background, as seemed necessary for
suggesting the emotion or for setting forth the story, found its way into
his pictures. The message they convey might have been told almost as
perfectly upon the lute or viol. His world is a strange one--a world not
of hills and fields and flowers and men of flesh and blood, but one where
the people are embodied ecstasies, the colours tints from evening clouds
or apocalyptic jewels, the scenery a flood of light or a background of
illuminated gold. His mystic gardens, where the ransomed souls embrace,
and dance with angels on the lawns outside the City of the Lamb, are such
as were never trodden by the foot of man in any paradise of earth.

Criticism has a hard task in attempting to discern the merit of the
several painters of this time. It is clear that we must look not to Fra
Angelico but to Masaccio for the progressive forces that were carrying art
forward to complete accomplishment. Yet the charm of Masaccio is as
nothing in comparison with that which holds us spell-bound before the
sacred and impassioned reveries of the Fiesolan monk. Masaccio had
inestimable value for his contemporaries. Fra Angelico, now that we know
all Masaccio can teach, has a quality so unique that we return again and
again to the contemplation of his visions. Thus it often happens that we
are tempted to exaggerate the historical importance of one painter
because he touches us by some peculiar quality, and to over-estimate the
intrinsic value of another because he was a motive power in his own age.
Both these temptations should be resolutely resisted by the student who is
capable of discerning different kinds of excellence and diverse titles to
affectionate remembrance. Tracing the history of Italian painting is like
pursuing a journey down an ever-broadening river, whose affluents are
Giotto and Masaccio, Ghirlandajo, Signorelli, and Mantegna. We have to
turn aside and land upon the shore, in order to visit the
heaven-reflecting lakelet, self-encompassed and secluded, called Angelico.

Benozzo Gozzoli, the pupil of Fra Angelico, but in no sense the
continuator of his tradition, exhibits the blending of several styles by a
genius of less creative than assimilative force. That he was keenly
interested in the problems of perspective and foreshortening, and that
none of the knowledge collected by his fellow-workers had escaped him, is
sufficiently proved by his frescoes at Pisa. His compositions are rich in
architectural details, not always chosen with pure taste, but painted with
an almost infantine delight in the magnificence of buildings. Quaint birds
and beasts and reptiles crowd his landscapes; while his imagination runs
riot in rocks and rivers, trees of all variety, and rustic incidents
adopted from real life. At the same time he felt an enjoyment like that of
Gentile da Fabriano in depicting the pomp and circumstance of pageantry,
and no Florentine of the fifteenth century was more fond of assembling the
personages of contemporary history in groups.[173] Thus he showed himself
sensitive to the chief influences of the earlier Renaissance, and combined
the scientific and naturalistic tendencies of his age in a manner not
devoid of native poetry. What he lacked was depth of feeling, the sense
of noble form, the originative force of a great mind. His poetry of
invention, though copious and varied, owed its charm to the unstudied
grace of improvisation, and he often undertook subjects where his idyllic
rather than dramatic genius failed to sustain him. It is difficult, for
instance, to comprehend how M. Rio could devote two pages to Gozzoli's
"Destruction of Sodom," so comparatively unimpressive in spite of its
aggregated incidents, when he passes by the "Fulminati" of Signorelli, so
tragic in its terrible simplicity, with a word.[174]

This painter's marvellous rapidity of execution enabled him to produce an
almost countless series of decorative works. The best of these are the
frescoes of the Pisan Campo Santo, of the Riccardi Palace of Florence, of
San Gemignano, and of Montefalco. It has been well said of Gozzoli that,
though he attempted grand subjects on a large scale, he could not rise
above the limitations of a style better adapted to the decoration of
_cassoni_ than to fresco.[175] Yet within the range of his own powers
there are few more fascinating painters. His feeling for fresh nature--for
hunters in the woods at night or dawn, for vintage-gatherers among their
grapes, for festival troops of cavaliers and pages, and for the
marriage-dances of young men and maidens--yields a delightful gladness to
compositions lacking the simplicity of Giotto and the dignity of
Masaccio.[176] No one knew better how to sketch the quarrels of little
boys in their nursery, or the laughter of serving-women, or children
carrying their books to school;[177] and when the idyllic genius of the
man was applied to graver themes, his fancy supplied him with multitudes
of angels waving rainbow-coloured wings above fair mortal faces. Bevies of
them nestle like pigeons on the penthouse of the hut of Bethlehem, or
crowd together round the infant Christ.[178]

From these observations on the style of Benozzo Gozzoli it will be seen
that in the evolution of Renaissance culture he may be compared with the
romantic poets for whom the cheerfulness of nature and the joy that comes
to men from living in a many-coloured world of inexhaustible delight were
sufficient sources of inspiration. It should be mentioned lastly that he
enjoyed the patronage and friendship of the Medicean princes.

Another painter favoured by the Medici was Fra Filippo Lippi, whose life
and art-work were alike the deviation of a pleasure-loving temperament
from its natural sphere into the service of the Church. Left an orphan at
the age of two years, he was brought up by an aunt, who placed him, as a
boy of eight, in the convent of the Carmine at Florence. For monastic
duties he had no vocation, and the irregularities of his behaviour caused
scandal even in that age of cynical indulgence. It can scarcely be doubted
that the schism between his practice and profession served to debase and
vulgarise a genius of fine imaginative quality, while the uncongenial work
of decorating choirs and painting altar-pieces limed the wings of his
swift spirit with the dulness of routine that savoured of hypocrisy. Bound
down to sacred subjects, he was too apt to make angels out of
street-urchins, and to paint the portraits of his peasant-loves for
Virgins.[179] His delicate sense of natural beauty gave peculiar charm to
this false treatment of religious themes. Nothing, for example, can be
more attractive than the rows of angels bearing lilies in his "Coronation
of the Virgin;"[180] and yet, when we regard them closely, we find that
they have no celestial quality of form or feature. Their grace is earthly,
and the spirit breathed upon the picture is the loveliness of colour,
quiet and yet glowing--blending delicate blues and greens with whiteness
purged of glare. The beauties as well as the defects of such compositions
make us regret that Fra Filippo never found a more congenial sphere for
his imagination. As a painter of subjects half-humorous and half-pathetic,
or as the illustrator of romantic stories, we fancy that he might have won
fame rivalled only by the greatest colourists. One such picture it was
granted him to paint, and this is his masterpiece. In the prime of life he
was commissioned to decorate the choir of the cathedral at Prato with the
legends of S. John Baptist and S. Stephen. All of these frescoes are
noteworthy for their firm grasp upon reality in the portraits of
Florentine worthies, and for the harmonious disposition of the groups; but
the scene of Salome dancing before Herod is the best for its poetic
feeling. Her movement across the floor before the tyrant and his guests at
table, the quaint fluttering of her drapery, the well-bred admiration of
the spectators, their horror when she brings the Baptist's head to
Herodias, and the weak face of the half-remorseful Herod are expressed
with a dramatic power that shows the genius of a poet painter. And even
more lovely than Salome are a pair of girls locked in each other's arms
close by Herodias on the daïs. A natural and spontaneous melody, not only
in the suggested movements of this scene, but also in the colouring,
choice of form, and treatment of drapery, makes it one of the most musical
of pictures ever painted.

Fra Filippo was not so successful in the choir of the cathedral at
Spoleto, where he undertook; to paint scenes from the life of the Virgin.
Yet those who have not examined these frescoes, ruinous in their decay and
spoiled by stupid restoration, can form no just notion of the latent
capacity of this great master. The whole of the half-dome above the
tribune is filled with, a "Coronation of Madonna." A circular rainbow
surrounds both her and Christ. She is kneeling with fiery rays around her,
glorified by her assumption into heaven. Christ is enthroned, and at His
side stands a seat prepared for His mother, as soon as the crown that He
is placing on her head shall have made her Queen. From the outer courts of
heaven, thronged with multitudes of celestial beings, angels are crowding
in, breaking the lines of the prismatic aureole, as though the ardour of
their joy could scarcely be repressed; while the everlasting light of God
sheds radiance from above, and far below, lies earth with diminished sun
and moon. The boldness of conception in this singular fresco reveals a
genius capable of grappling with such problems as Tintoretto solved. Fra
Filippo died at Spoleto, and left his work unfinished, to the care of his
assistant, the Fra Diamante. Over his tomb Lorenzo de' Medici caused a
monument to be erected, and Poliziano wrote Latin couplets to commemorate
the fame of a painter highly prized by his patrons.

The space devoted in these pages to Fra Lippo Lippi is justified not only
by the excellence of his own work, but also by the influence he exercised
over two of the best Florentine painters of the fifteenth century. Whether
Filippino Lippi was in truth his son by Lucrezia Buti, a novice he is said
to have carried from her cloister in Prato, has been called in question
by recent critics; but they adduce no positive arguments for discrediting
the story of Vasari.[181] There can, however, be no doubt that to the
Frate, whether he was his father or only his teacher, Filippino owed his
style. His greatest works were painted in continuation of Masaccio's
frescoes in the Carmine at Florence. It is the best warrant of their
excellence that we feel them worthy to hold the place they do, and that
Raphael transferred one of their motives, the figure of S. Paul addressing
S. Peter in prison, to his cartoon of "Mars' Hill." That he was not so
accomplished as Masaccio in the art of composition, that his scale of
colour is less pleasing, and that his style in general lacks the elevation
of his mighty predecessor, is not sufficient to place him in any position
of humiliating inferiority.[182] What above all things interests the
student of the Renaissance in Filippino's work, is the powerful action of
revived classicism on his manner. This can be traced better in the Caraffa
Chapel of S. Maria sopra Minerva at Rome and in the Strozzi Chapel of S.
Maria Novella at Florence than in the Carmine. The "Triumph of S. Thomas
Aquinas" and the "Miracle of S. John" are remarkable for an almost
insolent display of Roman antiquities--not studied, it need scarcely be
observed, with the scientific accuracy of Alma Tadema--for such science
was non-existent in the fifteenth century--but paraded with a kind of
passion. To this delight in antique details Filippino added violent
gestures, strange attitudes, and affected draperies, producing a general
result impressive through the artist's energy, but quaint and

Sandro Botticelli, the other disciple of Fra Lippo, bears a name of
greater mark. He is one of those artists, much respected in their own
days, who suffered eclipse from the superior splendour of immediate
successors, and to whom, through sympathy stimulated by prolonged study of
the fifteenth century, we have of late paid tardy and perhaps exaggerated
honours.[183] His fellow-workers seem to have admired him as an able
draughtsman gifted with a rare if whimsical imagination; but no one
recognised in him a leader of his age. For us he has an almost unique
value as representing the interminglement of antique and modern fancy at a
moment of transition, as embodying in some of his pictures the subtlest
thought and feeling of men for whom the classic myths were beginning to
live once more, while new guesses were timidly hazarded in the sphere of
orthodoxy.[184] Self-confident sensuality had not as yet encouraged
painters to substitute a florid rhetoric for the travail of their brain;
nor was enough known about antiquity to make the servile imitation of
Greek or Roman fragments possible. Yet scholarship had already introduced
a novel element into the culture of the nation. It was no doubt with a
kind of wonder that the artists heard of Fauns and Sylvans, and the birth
of Aphrodite from the waves. Such fables took deep hold upon their fancy,
stirring them to strange and delicate creations, the offspring of their
own thought, and no mere copies of marbles seen in statue galleries. The
very imperfection of these pictures lends a value to them in the eyes of
the student, by helping him to comprehend exactly how the revelations of
the humanists affected the artistic sense of Italy.

In the mythological work of Botticelli there is always an element of
allegory, recalling the Middle Ages and rendering it far truer to the
feelings of the fifteenth century than to the myths it illustrates. His
painting of the "Spring," suggested by a passage from Lucretius,[185] is
exquisitely poetic; and yet the true spirit of the Latin verse has not
been seized--to have done that would have taxed the energies of
Titian--but something special to the artist and significant for Medicean
scholarship has been added. There is none of the Roman largeness and
freedom in its style; Venus and her Graces are even melancholy, and their
movements savour of affectation. This combination or confusion of artistic
impulses in Botticelli, this treatment of pagan themes in the spirit of
mediaeval mysticism, sometimes ended in grotesqueness. It might suffice to
cite the pregnant "Aphrodite" in the National Gallery, if the "Mars and
Venus" in the same collection were not even a more striking instance. Mars
is a young Florentine, whose throat and chest are beautifully studied from
the life, but whose legs and belly, belonging no doubt to the same model,
fall far short of heroic form. He lies fast asleep with the corners of his
mouth drawn down, as though he were about to snore. Opposite there sits a
woman, weary and wan, draped from neck to foot in the thin raiment
Botticelli loved. Four little goat-footed Cupids playing with the armour
of the sleeping lad complete the composition. These wanton loves are
admirably conceived and exquisitely drawn; nor indeed can any drawing
exceed in beauty the line that leads from the flank along the ribs and arm
of Mars up to his lifted elbow. The whole design, like one of Piero di
Cosimo's pictures in another key, leaves a strong impression on the mind,
due partly to the oddity of treatment, partly to the careful work
displayed, and partly to the individuality of the artist. It gives us keen
pleasure to feel exactly how a painter like Botticelli applied the dry
naturalism of the early Florentine Renaissance, as well as his own
original imagination, to a subject he imperfectly realised. Yet are we
right in assuming that he meant the female figure in this group for
Aphrodite, the sleeping man for Ares? A Greek or a Roman would have
rejected this picture as false to the mythus of Mars and Venus; and
whether Botticelli wished to be less descriptive than emblematic, might be
fairly questioned. The face and attitude of that unseductive Venus, wide
awake and melancholy, opposite her snoring lover, seems to symbolise the
indignities which women may have to endure from insolent and sottish boys
with only youth to recommend them. This interpretation, however, sounds
like satire. We are left to conjecture whether Botticelli designed his
composition for an allegory of intemperance, the so-called Venus typifying
some moral quality.

Botticelli's "Birth of Aphrodite" expresses this transient moment in the
history of the Renaissance with more felicity. It would be impossible for
any painter to design a more exquisitely outlined figure than that of his
Venus, who, with no covering but her golden hair, is wafted to the shore
by zephyrs. Roses fall upon the ruffled waves, and the young gods of the
air twine hands and feet together as they float. In the picture of
"Spring" there is the same choice of form, the same purity of line, the
same rare interlacement in the limbs. It would seem as though Botticelli
intended every articulation of the body to express some meaning, and this,
though it enhances the value of his work for sympathetic students, often
leads him to the verge of affectation. Nothing but a touch of affectation
in the twined fingers of Raphael and Tobias impairs the beauty of one of
Botticelli's best pictures at Turin. We feel the same discord looking at
them as we do while reading the occasional _concetti_ in Petrarch; and all
the more in each case does the discord pain us because we know that it
results from their specific quality carried to excess.

Botticelli's sensibility to the refinements of drawing gave peculiar
character to all his work. Attention has frequently been called to the
beauty of his roses.[186] Every curl in their frail petals is rendered
with as much care as though they were the hands or feet of Graces. Nor is
it, perhaps, a mere fancy to imagine that the corolla of an open rose
suggested to Botticelli's mind the composition of his best-known picture,
the circular "Coronation of the Virgin" in the Uffizzi. That masterpiece
combines all Botticelli's best qualities. For rare distinction of beauty
in the faces it is unique, while the mystic calm and resignation, so
misplaced in his Aphrodites, find a meaning here[187]. There is only one
other picture in Italy, a "Madonna and Child with S. Catherine" in a
landscape by Boccaccino da Cremona, that in any degree rivals the peculiar
beauty of its types[188].

Sandro Botticelli was not a great painter in the same sense as Andrea
Mantegna. But he was a true poet within the limits of a certain sphere. We
have to seek his parallel among the verse-writers rather than the artists
of his day. Some of the stanzas of Poliziano and Boiardo, in particular,
might have been written to explain his pictures, or his pictures might
have been painted to illustrate their verses[189]. In both Poliziano and
Boiardo we find the same touch upon antique things as in Botticelli; and
this makes him serviceable almost above all painters to the readers of
Renaissance poetry.

The name of Piero di Cosimo has been mentioned incidentally in connection
with that of Botticelli; and though his life exceeds the limits assigned
for this chapter, so many links unite him to the class of painters I have
been discussing, that I can find no better place to speak of him than
this. His biography forms one of the most amusing chapters in Vasari, who
has taken great delight in noting Piero's quaint humours and eccentric
habits, and whose description of a Carnival triumph devised by him is one
of our most precious documents in illustration of Renaissance
pageantry.[190] The point that connects him with Botticelli is the
romantic treatment of classical mythology, best exemplified in his
pictures of the tale of Perseus and Andromeda.[191] Piero was by nature
and employment a decorative painter; the construction of cars for
pageants, and the adornment of dwelling rooms and marriage chests,
affected his whole style, rendering it less independent and more quaint
than that of Botticelli. Landscape occupies the main part of his
compositions, made up by a strange amalgam of the most eccentric
details--rocks toppling over blue bays, sea-caverns, and fantastic
mountain ranges. Groups of little figures disposed upon these spaces tell
the story, and the best invention of the artist is lavished on the form of
monstrous creatures like the dragon slain by Perseus. There is no attempt
to treat the classic subject in a classic spirit: to do that, and to fail
in doing it, remained for Cellini.[192] We have, on the contrary, before
us an image of the orc, as it appeared to Ariosto's fancy--a creature
borrowed from romance and made to play its part in a Greek myth. The same
criticism applies to Piero's picture of the murdered Procris watched by a
Satyr of the woodland.[193] In creating his Satyr the painter has not had
recourse to any antique bas-relief, but has imagined for himself a being
half human, half bestial, and yet wholly real; nor has he portrayed in
Procris a nymph of Greek form, but a girl of Florence. The strange animals
and gaudy flowers introduced into the landscape background further remove
the subject from the sphere of classic treatment. Florentine realism and
quaint fancy being thus curiously blended, the artistic result may be
profitably studied for the light it throws upon the so-called Paganism of
the earlier Renaissance. Fancy at that moment was more free than when
superior knowledge of antiquity had created a demand for reproductive art,
and when the painters thought less of the meaning of the fable for
themselves than of its capability of being used as a machine for the
display of erudition.

It remains to speak of the painter who closes and at the same time gathers
up the whole tradition of this period. Domenico Ghirlandajo deserves this
place of honour not because he had the keenest intuitions, the deepest
thought, the strongest passion, the subtlest fancy, the loftiest
imagination--for in all these points he was excelled by some one or other
of his contemporaries or predecessors--but because his intellect was the
most comprehensive and his mastery of art the most complete. His life
lasted from 1449 to 1498, and he did not distinguish himself as a painter
till he was past thirty.[194] Therefore he does not properly fall within
the limit of 1470, assigned roughly to this age of transition in
painting. But in style and spirit he belonged to it, resuming in his own
work the qualities we find scattered through the minor artists of the
fifteenth century, and giving them the unity of fusion in a large and
lucid manner. Like the painters hitherto discussed, he was working toward
the full Renaissance; yet he reached it neither in ideality nor in
freedom. His art is the art of the understanding only; and to this the
masters of the golden age added radiance, sublimity, grace,
passion--qualities of the imagination beyond the scope of men like

It is almost with reluctance that a critic feels obliged to name this
powerful but prosaic painter as the Giotto of the fifteenth century in
Florence, the tutelary angel of an age inaugurated by Masaccio. He was a
consummate master of the science collected by his predecessors. No one
surpassed him in the use of fresco. His orderly composition, in the
distribution of figures and the use of architectural accessories, is
worthy of all praise; his portraiture is dignified and powerful;[195] his
choice of form and treatment of drapery, noble. Yet we cannot help noting
his deficiency in the finer sense of beauty, the absence of poetic
inspiration or feeling in his work, the commonplaceness of his colour, and
his wearisome reiteration of calculated effects. He never arrests
attention by sallies of originality, or charms us by the delicacies of
suggestive fancy. He is always at the level of his own achievement, so
that in the end we are as tired with able Ghirlandajo as the men of Athens
with just Aristides. Who, however, but Ghirlandajo could have composed the
frescoes of "S. Fina" at S. Gemignano, the fresco of the "Death of S.
Francis" in S. Trinità at Florence, or that again of the "Birth of the
Virgin" in S. Maria Novella? There is something irritating in pure common
sense imported into art, and Ghirlandajo's masterpieces are the apotheosis
of that quality. How correct, how judicious, how sagacious, how
mathematically ordered! we exclaim; but we gaze without emotion, and we
turn away without regret. It does not vex us to read how Ghirlandajo used
to scold his prentices for neglecting trivial orders that would fill his
purse with money. Similar traits of character pain us with a sense of
impropriety in Perugino. They harmonise with all we feel about the work of
Ghirlandajo. It is bitter mortification to know that Michael Angelo never
found space or time sufficient for his vast designs in sculpture. It is a
positive relief to think that Ghirlandajo sighed in vain to have the
circuit of the walls of Florence given him to paint. How he would have
covered them with compositions, stately, flowing, easy, sober, and
incapable of stirring any feeling in the soul!

Though Ghirlandajo lacked almost every true poetic quality, he combined
the art of distributing figures in a given space, with perspective, fair
knowledge of the nude, and truth to nature, in greater perfection than any
other single painter of the age he represents; and since these were
precisely the gifts of that age to the great Renaissance masters, we
accord to him the place of historical honour. It should be added that,
like almost all the artists of this epoch, he handled sacred and profane,
ancient and modern, subjects in the same style, introducing contemporary
customs and costumes. His pictures are therefore valuable for their
portraits and their illustration of Florentine life. Fresco was his
favourite vehicle; and in this preference he showed himself a true master
of the school of Florence: but he is said to have maintained that mosaic,
as more durable, was superior to wall-painting. This saying, if it be
authentic, justifies our criticism of his cold achievement as a painter.

Reviewing the ground traversed in this and the last chapter, we find that
the painting of Tuscany, and in particular the Florentine section of it,
has absorbed attention. It is characteristic of the next age that other
districts of Italy began to contribute their important quota to the
general culture of the nation. The force generated in Tuscany expanded and
dilated till every section of the country took part in the movement which
Florence had been first to propagate. What was happening in scholarship
began to manifest itself in art, for the same law of growth and
distribution affected both alike; and thus the local differences of the
Italians were to some extent abolished. The nation, never destined to
acquire political union in the Renaissance, possessed at last an
intellectual unity in its painters and its students, which justifies our
speaking of the great men of the golden period as Italians and not as
citizens of such or such a burgh. In the Middle Ages United Italy was an
Idea to theorists like Dante, who dreamed for her an actual supremacy
beneath her Emperor's sway in Rome. The reasoning to which they trusted
proved fallacious, and their hopes were quenched. Instead of the political
empire of the "De Monarchiâ," a spiritual empire had been created, and the
Italians were never more powerful in Europe than when their sacred city
was being plundered by the imperial bandits in 1527. It is necessary, at
the risk of some repetition, to keep this point before the reader, if only
as an apology for the method of treatment to be followed in the next
chapter, where the painters of the mid-Renaissance period will be reviewed
less in relation to their schools and cities than as representatives of
the Italian spirit.

Since the intellectual unity gained by the Italians in the age of the
Renaissance was chiefly due to the Florentines, it is a matter of some
moment to reconsider the direct influences brought to bear upon the arts
in Florence during the fifteenth century. I have chosen Ghirlandajo as the
representative of painting in that period. I have also expressed the
opinion that his style is singularly cold and prosaic, and have hinted
that this prosaic and cold quality was caused by a defect of emotional
enthusiasm, by preoccupation with finite aims. Herein Ghirlandajo did but
reflect the temper of his age--that temper which Cosimo de' Medici, the
greatest patron of both art and scholarship in Florence before 1470,
represented in his life and in his public policy. It concerns us,
therefore, to take into account the nature of the patronage extended by
the Medici to art. Excessive praise and blame have been showered upon
these burgher princes in almost equal quantities; so that, if we were to
place Roscoe and Rio, as the representatives of conflicting views, in the
scales together, they would balance each other, and leave the index
quivering. This bare statement warns the critic to be cautious, and
inclines him to accept the intermediate conclusion that neither the Medici
nor the artists could escape the conditions of their century. It is
specially argued on the one hand against the Medici that they encouraged a
sensual and worldly style of art, employing the painters to decorate their
palaces with nude figures, and luring them away from sacred to profane
subjects. Yet Cosimo gave orders to Donatello for his "David" and his
"Judith," employed Michellozzo and Brunelleschi to build him convents and
churches, and filled the library of S. Marco, where Fra Angelico was
painting, with a priceless collection of MSS. His own private chapel was
decorated by Benozza Gozzoli. Fra Lippo Lippi and Michael Angelo
Buonarroti were the house-friends of Lorenzo de' Medici. Leo Battista
Alberti was a member of his philosophical society. The only great
Florentine artist who did not stand in cordial relations to the Medicean
circle, was Lionardo da Vinci. This sufficiently shows that the Medicean
patronage was commensurate with the best products of Florentine genius;
nor would it be easy to demonstrate that encouragement, so largely
exhibited and so intelligently used, could have been in the main injurious
to the arts.

There is, however, a truth in the old grudge against the Medicean princes.
They enslaved Florence; and even painting was not slow to suffer from the
stifling atmosphere of tyranny. Lorenzo deliberately set himself to
enfeeble the people by luxury, partly because he liked voluptuous living,
partly because he aimed at popularity, and partly because it was his
interest to enervate republican virtues. The arts used for the purposes of
decoration in triumphs and carnival shows became the instruments of
careless pleasure; and there is no doubt that even earnest painters lent
their powers with no ill-will and no bad conscience to the service of
lascivious patrons. "Per la città, in diverse case, fece tondi di sua mano
e femmine ignude assai," says Vasari about Sandro Botticelli, who
afterwards became a Piagnone and refused to touch a pencil.[196] We may,
therefore, reasonably concede that if the Medici had never taken hold on
Florence, or if the spirit of the times had made them other than they were
in loftiness of aim and nobleness of heart, the arts of Italy in the
Renaissance might have shown less of worldliness and materialism. It was
against the demoralisation of society by paganism, as against the
enslavement of Florence by her tyrants, that Savonarola strove; and since
the Medici were the leaders of the classical revival, as well as the
despots of the dying commonwealth, they justly bear the lion's share of
that blame which fell in general upon the vices of their age denounced by
the prophet of S. Marco. We may regard it either as a singular misfortune
for Italy or as the strongest sign of deep-seated Italian corruption, that
the most brilliant leaders of culture both at Florence and at
Rome--Cosimo, Lorenzo, and Giovanni de' Medici--promoted rather than
checked the debasing influences of the Renaissance, and added the weight
of their authority to the popular craving for sensuous amusement.

Meanwhile, what was truly great and noble in Renaissance Italy, found its
proper home in Florence; where the spirit of freedom, if only as an idea,
still ruled; where the populace was still capable of being stirred to
super-sensual enthusiasm; and where the flame of the modern intellect
burned with its purest, whitest lustre.


[161] See Vol. I., _Age of the Despots_, p. 12.

[162] See Vol. II., _Revival of Learning_, pp. 122-129.

[163] His real name was Tommaso di Ser Giovanni, of the family of
Scheggia. Masaccio means in Tuscan, "Great hulking Tom," just as
Masolino, his supposed master and fellow-worker, means "Pretty little
Tom." Masolino was Tommaso di Cristofero Fini, born in 1384 in S. Croce.
It is now thought that we have but little of his authentic work except
the frescoes at Castiglione di Olona, near Milan. Masaccio was born at
San Giovanni, in the upper valley of the Arno, in 1402. He died at Borne
in 1429.

[164] His family name was Doni. He was born about 1396, and died at the
age of about 73. He got his name Uccello from his partiality for painting
birds, it is said.

[165] See above, Chapter III, Andrea Verocchio, for what has been said
about Verocchio's "David."

[166] A drawing made in red chalk for this "Dream of Constantine" has
been published in facsimile by Ottley, in his _Italian School of Design_.
He wrongly attributes it, however, to Giorgione, and calls it a "Subject

[167] The one in S. Francesco at Rimini, the other in the Uffizzi.

[168] Two angels have recently been published by the Arundel Society who
have also copied Melozzo's wall-painting of Sixtus IV. in the Vatican. It
is probable that the picture in the Royal Collection at Windsor, of Duke
Frederick of Urbino listening to the lecture of a Humanist, is also a
work of Melozzo's, much spoiled by re-painting. See Vol. II., _Revival of
Learning_, p. 220.

[169] Muratori, vol. xxiv. 1181.

[170] For Ciriac of Ancona, see Vol. II., _Revival of Learning_, p. 113.

[171] The services rendered by Squarcione to art have been thoroughly
discussed by Messrs. Crowe and Cavalcaselle, _Painting in North Italy_,
vol. i. chap. 2. I cannot but think that they underrate the importance of
his school.

[172] He was born between 1360 and 1370, and he settled at Florence about
1422, where he opened a _bottega_ in S. Trinità. In 1423 he painted his
masterpiece, the "Adoration of the Magi," now exhibited in the Florentine
Academy of Arts.

[173] See, for instance, the valuable portraits of the Medicean family
with Picino and Poliziano, in the fresco of the "Tower of Babel" at Pisa.

[174] _L'Art Chrétien_, vol. ii. p. 397.

[175] The same remark might be made about the Venetian Bonifazio. It is
remarkable that the "Adoration of the Magi" was always a favourite
subject with painters of this calibre.

[176] I may refer to the picture of the hunters in the Taylor Gallery at
Oxford, the "Vintage of Noah" at Pisa, the attendants of the Magi in the
Riccardi Palace, and the _Carola_ in the "Marriage of Jacob and Rachel"
at Pisa.

[177] "Stories of Isaac and Ishmael and of Jacob and Esau" at Pisa, and
"Story of S. Augustine" at San Gemignano. Nothing can be prettier than
the school children in the latter series. The group of the little boy,
horsed upon a bigger boy's back for a whipping, is one of the most
natural episodes in painting.

[178] Riccardi Chapel.

[179] For an example, the picture of Madonna worshipping the infant
Christ upheld by two little angels in the Uffizzi.

[180] In the Academy of Fine Arts at Florence.

[181] Crowe and Cavalcaselle, vol. ii. chap. 19. Nothing was more common
in the practice of Italian arts than for pupils to take their names from
their masters, in the same way as they took them from their fathers, by
the prefix _di_ or otherwise.

[182] The most simply beautiful of Filippino's pictures is the
oil-painting in the Badia at Florence, which represents Madonna attended
by angels dictating the story of her life to S. Bernard. In this most
lovely religious picture Filippino comes into direct competition with
Perugino (see the same subject at Munich), without suffering by the
contrast. The type of Our lady, striven after by Botticelli and other
masters of his way of feeling, seems to me more thoroughly attained by
Filippino than by any of his fellow-workers. She is a woman acquainted
with grief and nowise distinguished by the radiance of her beauty among
the daughters of earth. It is measureless love for the mother of his Lord
that makes S. Bernard bow before her with eyes of wistful adoration and
hushed reverence.

[183] The study of the fine arts offers few subjects of more curious
interest than the vicissitudes through which painters of the type of
Botticelli, not absolutely and confessedly in the first rank, but
attractive by reason of their relation to the spirit of their age, and of
the seal of _intimité_ set upon their work have passed. In the last
century and the beginning of this, our present preoccupation with
Botticelli would have passed for a mild lunacy, because he has none of
the qualities then most in vogue and most enthusiastically studied, and
because the moment in the history of culture he so faithfully represents,
was then but little understood. The prophecy of Mr. Ruskin, the
tendencies of our best contemporary art in Mr. Burne Jones's painting,
the specific note of our recent fashionable poetry, and, more than all,
our delight in the delicately poised psychological problems of the middle
Renaissance, have evoked a kind of hero-worship for this excellent artist
and true poet.

[184] A friend, writing to me from Italy, speaks thus of Botticelli, and
of the painters associated with him: "When I ask myself what it is I find
fascinating in him--for instance, which of his pictures, or what element
in them--I am forced to admit that it is the touch of paganism in him,
the fairy-story element, _the echo of a beautiful lapsed mythology which
he has found the means of transmitting._" The words I have printed in
italics seem to me very true. At the same time we must bear in mind that
the scientific investigation of nature had not in the fifteenth century
begun to stand between the sympathetic intellect and the outer world.
There was still the possibility of that "lapsed mythology," the dream of
poets and the delight of artists, seeming positively the best form of
expression for sentiments aroused by nature.

[185] _De Rerum Naturâ_, lib. v. 737.

[186] The rose-tree background in a Madonna belonging to Lord Elcho is a
charming instance of the value given to flowers by careful treatment.

[187] I cannot bring myself to accept Mr. Pater's reading of the
Madonna's expression. It seems to me that Botticelli meant to portray the
mingled awe and tranquillity of a mortal mother chosen for the Son of
God. He appears to have sometimes aimed at conveying more than painting
can compass; and, since he had not Lionardo's genius, he gives sadness,
mournfulness, or discontent, for some more subtle mood. Next to the
Madonna of the Uffizzi, Botticelli's loveliest religious picture to my
mind is the "Nativity" belonging to Mr. Fuller Maitland. Poetic
imagination in a painter has produced nothing more graceful and more
tender than the dance of angels in the air above, and the embracement of
the angels and the shepherds on the lawns below.

[188] In the Academy of Fine Arts at Venice. I do not mention this
picture as a complete pendant to Botticelli's famous _tondo_. The faces
of S. Catherine and Madonna, however, have something of the rarity that
is so striking in that work.

[189] I might mention stanzas 122-124 of Poliziano's _Giostra_,
describing Venus in the lap of Mars; or stanzas 99-107, describing the
birth of Venus; and from Boiardo's _Orlando Innamorato_, I might quote
the episode of Rinaldo's punishment by Love (lib. ii. canto xv. 43), or
the tale of Silvanella and Narcissus (lib. ii. canto xvii. 49).

[190] I hope to make use of this passage in a future section of my work
on the Italian Poetry of the Renaissance. Therefore I pass by this
portion of Piero's art-work now.

[191] Uffizzi Gallery.

[192] See the bas-relief upon the pedestal of his "Perseus" in the Loggia
de' Lanzi.

[193] In the National Gallery.

[194] His family name was Domenico di Currado di Doffo Bigordi. He
probably worked during his youth and early manhood as a goldsmith and got
his artist's name from the trade of making golden chaplets for the
Florentine women. See Vasari, vol. v. p. 66.

[195] What, after all, remains the grandest quality of Ghirlandajo is his
powerful drawing of characteristic heads. They are as various as they are
vigorous. What a nation of strong men must the Florentines have been, we
feel while gazing at his frescoes.

[196] In many houses he painted roundels with his own hand, and of naked
women plenty.



Two Periods in the True Renaissance--Andrea Mantegna--His Statuesque
Design--His Naturalism--Roman Inspiration--Triumph of Julius
Caesar--Bas-reliefs--Luca Signorelli--The Precursor of Michael
Angelo--Anatomical Studies--Sense of Beauty--The Chapel of S. Brizio at
Orvieto--Its Arabesques and Medallions--Degrees in his Ideal--Enthusiasm
for Organic Life--Mode of treating Classical Subjects--Perugino--His
Pietistic Style--His Formalism--The Psychological Problem of his
Life--Perugino's Pupils--Pinturicchio--At Spello and Siena--Francia--Fra
Bartolommeo--Transition to the Golden Age--Lionardo da Vinci--The Magician
of the Renaissance--Raphael--The Melodist--Correggio--The Faun--Michael
Angelo--The Prophet.

The Renaissance, so far as Painting is concerned, may be said to have
culminated between the years 1470 and 1550. These dates, it must be
frankly admitted, are arbitrary; nor is there anything more unprofitable
than the attempt to define by strict chronology the moments of an
intellectual growth so complex, so unequally progressive, and so varied as
that of Italian art. All that the historian can hope to do, is to strike a
mean between his reckoning of years and his more subtle calculations based
on the emergence of decisive genius in special men. An instance of such
compromise is afforded by Lionardo da Vinci, who belongs, as far as dates
go, to the last half of the fifteenth century, but who must, on any
estimate of his achievement, be classed with Michael Angelo among the
final and supreme masters of the full Renaissance. To violate the order of
time, with a view to what may here be called the morphology of Italian
art, is, in his case, a plain duty.

Bearing this in mind, it is still possible to regard the eighty years
above mentioned as a period no longer of promise and preparation but of
fulfilment and accomplishment. Furthermore, the thirty years at the close
of the fifteenth century may be taken as one epoch in this climax of the
art, while the first half of the sixteenth forms a second. Within the
former falls the best work of Mantegna, Perugino, Francia, the Bellini,
Signorelli, Fra Bartolommeo. To the latter we may reckon Michael Angelo,
Raphael, Giorgione, Correggio, Titian, and Andrea del Sarto. Lionardo da
Vinci, though belonging chronologically to the former epoch, ranks first
among the masters of the latter; and to this also may be given Tintoretto,
though his life extended far beyond it to the last years of the century.
We thus obtain, within the period of eighty years from 1470 to 1550, two
subordinate divisions of time, the one including the last part of the
fifteenth century, the other extending over the best years of the

The subdivisions I have just suggested correspond to two distinct stages
in the evolution of art. The painters of the earlier group win our
admiration quite as much by their aim as by their achievement. Their
achievement, indeed, is not so perfect but that they still make some
demand upon interpretative sympathy in the student. There is, besides, a
sense of reserved strength in their work. We feel that their motives have
not been developed to the utmost, that their inspiration is not exhausted;
that it will be possible for their successors to advance beyond them on
the same path, not realising more consummate excellence in special points,
but combining divers qualities, and reaching absolute freedom.

The painters of the second group display mastery more perfect, range of
faculty more all-embracing. What they design they do; nature and art obey
them equally; the resources placed at their command are employed with
facile and unfettered exercise of power. The hand obedient to the brain is
now so expert that nothing further is left to be desired in the expression
of the artist's thought.[197] The student can only hope to penetrate the
master's meaning. To imagine a step further in the same direction is
impossible. The full flower of the Italian genius has been unfolded. Its
message to the world in art has been delivered.

Chronology alone would not justify us in drawing these distinctions. What
really separates the two groups is the different degree in which they
severally absorbed the spirit and uttered the message of their age. In the
former the Renaissance was still immature, in the latter it was perfected.
Yet all these painters deserve in a true sense to be called its children.
Their common object is art regarded as an independent function, and
relieved from the bondage of technical impediments. In their work the
liberty of the modern mind finds its first and noblest expression. They
deal with familiar and time-honoured Christian motives reverently; but
they use them at the same time for the exhibition of pure human beauty.
Pagan influences yield them spirit-stirring inspiration; yet the antique
models of style, which proved no less embarrassing to their successors
than Saul's armour was to David, weigh lightly, like a magician's
breast-plate, upon their heroic strength.

Andrea Mantegna was born near Padua in 1431. Vasari says that in his
boyhood he herded cattle, and it is probable that he was the son of a
small Lombard farmer. What led him to the study of the arts we do not
know; but that his talents were precociously developed, is proved by his
registration in 1441 upon the books of the painter's guild at Padua. He is
there described as the adopted son of Squarcione. At the age of seventeen
he signed a picture with his name. Studying the casts and drawings
collected by Squarcione for his Paduan school, the young Mantegna found
congenial exercise for his peculiar gifts.[198] His early frescoes in the
Eremitani at Padua look as though they had been painted from statues or
clay models, carefully selected for the grandeur of their forms, the
nobility of their attitudes, and the complicated beauty of their drapery.
The figures, arranged on different planes, are perfect in their
perspective; the action is indicated by appropriate gestures, and the
colouring, though faint and cold, is scientifically calculated. Yet not a
man or woman in these wondrous compositions seems to live. Well provided
with bone and muscle, they have neither blood nor anything suggestive of
the breath of life within them. It is as though Mantegna had been called
to paint a people turned to stone, arrested suddenly amid their various
occupations, and preserved for centuries from injury in some Egyptian
solitude of dewless sand.

In spite of this unearthly immobility, the Paduan frescoes exercise a
strange and potent spell. We feel ourselves beneath the sway of a gigantic
genius, intent on solving the severest problems of his art in preparation
for the portraiture of some high intellectual abstraction. It should also
be observed that notwithstanding their frigidity and statuesque composure,
the pictures of "S. Andrew" and "S. Christopher" in the chapel of the
Eremitani reveal minute study of real objects. Transitory movements of the
body are noted and transcribed with merciless precision; an Italian
hill-side, with its olive trees and winding ways and crown of turrets,
forms the background of one scene; in another the drama is localised amid
Renaissance architecture of the costliest style. Rustic types have been
selected for the soldiers, and commonplace details, down to a patched
jerkin or a broken shoe, bear witness to the patience and the observation
of the master. But over all these things the glamour of Medusa's head has
fallen, turning them to stone. We are clearly in the presence of a painter
for whom the attractions of nature were subordinated to the fascinations
of science--a man the very opposite, for instance, to Benozzo Gozzoli. If
Mantegna had passed away in early manhood, like Masaccio, his fame would
have been that of a cold and calculating genius labouring after an ideal
unrealised except in its dry formal elements.

The truth is that Mantegna's inspiration was derived from the
antique.[199] The beauty of classical bas-relief entered deep into his
soul and ruled his imagination. In later life he spent his acquired wealth
in forming a collection of Greek and Roman antiquities.[200] He was,
moreover, the friend of students, eagerly absorbing the knowledge brought
to light by Ciriac of Ancona, Flavio Biondo, and other antiquaries; and so
completely did he assimilate the materials of scholarship, that the spirit
of a Roman seemed to be re-incarnated in him. Thus, independently of his
high value as a painter, he embodies for us in art that sincere passion
for the ancient world which was the dominating intellectual impulse of his

The minute learning accumulated in the fifteenth century upon the subject
of Roman military life found noble illustration in his frieze of "Julius
Caesar's Triumph."[201] Nor is this masterpiece a cold display of
pedantry. The life we vainly look for in the frescoes of the Eremitani
chapel may be found here--statuesque, indeed, in style, and stately in
movement, but glowing with the spirit of revived antiquity. The
processional pomp of legionaries bowed beneath their trophied arms, the
monumental majesty of robed citizens, the gravity of stoled and veiled
priests, the beauty of young slaves, and all the paraphernalia of spoils
and wreaths and elephants and ensigns are massed together with the
self-restraint of noble art subordinating pageantry to rules of lofty
composition. What must the genius of the man have been who could move thus
majestically beneath the weight of painfully accumulated erudition,
converting an antiquarian motive into a theme for melodies of line
composed in the grave Dorian mood?

By no process can the classic purity of this bas-relief be better
understood than by comparing the original with a transcript made by Rubens
from a portion of the "Triumph."[202] The Flemish painter strives to add
richness to the scene by Bacchanalian riot and the sensuality of imperial
Rome. His elephants twist their trunks, and trumpet to the din of cymbals;
negroes feed the flaming candelabra with scattered frankincense; the white
oxen of Clitumnus are loaded with gaudy flowers, and the dancing maidens
are dishevelled Maenads. But the rhythmic procession of Mantegna, modulated
to the sound of flutes and soft recorders, carries our imagination back to
the best days and strength of Rome. His priests and generals, captives and
choric women, are as little Greek as they are modern. In them awakes to a
new life the spirit-quelling energy of the republic. The painter's severe
taste keeps out of sight the insolence and orgies of the empire; he
conceives Rome as Shakspeare did in "Coriolanus."[203]

In compositions of this type, studied after bas-reliefs and friezes,
Mantegna displayed a power that was unique. Those who have once seen his
drawings for Judith with the head of Holofernes, and for Solomon judging
between the two mothers, will never forget their sculpture. The lines are
graven on our memory. When this marble master chose to be tragic, his
intensity was terrible. The designs for a dead Christ carried to the tomb
among the weeping Maries, concentrate within the briefest space the utmost
agony; it is as though the very ecstasy of grief had been congealed and
fixed for ever. What, again, he could produce of purely beautiful within
the region of religious art, is shown by his "Madonna of the
Victory."[204] No other painter has given to the soldier saints forms at
once so heroic and so chivalrously tender.

With regard to the circumstances of Mantegna's biography, it may be said
briefly that, though of humble birth, he spent the greater portion of his
life at Court and in the service of princes. It was in 1456, after he had
distinguished himself by the Paduan frescoes, that he first received an
invitation from the Marquis Lodovico Gonzaga. Of this sovereign I have
already had occasion to speak.[205] Reared by Vittorino da Feltre, to whom
his father had committed almost unlimited authority, Lodovico had early
learned to estimate the real advantages of culture. It was now his object
to render his capital no less illustrious by art than by the residence of
learned men. With this view he offered Mantegna a salary of fifteen ducats
a month, together with lodging, corn, and fuel--provided the painter would
place his talents at his service. Mantegna accepted the invitation; but
numerous engagements prevented him from transferring his household from
Padua to Mantua until the year 1460. From that date onwards to 1506, when
he died, Mantegna remained attached to the Gonzaga family serving three
Marquises in succession, and adorning their palaces, chapels, and
country-seats with frescoes now, alas! almost entirely ruined. The grants
of land and presents he received in addition to his salary, enabled him to
build a villa at Buscoldo, where he resided during the summer, as well as
to erect a sumptuous mansion in the capital.

Between Mantua, Goito, and Buscoldo, Mantegna spent the last forty-six
years of his life in continual employment, broken only by a short visit to
Florence in 1466, and another to Bologna in 1472,[206] and by a longer
residence in Rome between the years 1488 and 1490. During the latter
period Innocent VIII. was Pope. He had built a chapel in the Belvedere of
the Vatican, and wished the greatest painter of the day to decorate it.
Therefore he wrote to Francesco, Marquis of Mantua, requesting that he
might avail himself of Mantegna's skill. Francesco, though unwilling to
part with his painter in ordinary, thought it unadvisable to disappoint
the Pope. Accordingly he dubbed Mantegna knight, and sent him to Rome. The
chapel painted in fresco for Innocent was ruthlessly destroyed by Pius
VI.; and thus the world has lost one of Mantegna's masterpieces, executed
while his genius was at its zenith. On his return to Mantua he finished
the decorations of the Castello of the Gonzaghi, and completed his
greatest surviving work, the "Triumph of Julius Caesar."

By his wife, Nicolosia, the sister of Giovanni and Gentile Bellini,
Mantegna had several children, one of whom, Francesco, adopted painting as
a trade. The great artist was by temper arrogant and haughty; nor could he
succeed in living peaceably with any of his neighbours. It appears that he
spent habitually more money than he could well afford, freely indulging
his taste for magnificence, and disbursing large sums in the purchase of
curiosities. Long before his death his estate had been involved in debt;
and after his decease, his sons were forced to sell the pictures in his
studio for the payment of pressing creditors. He was buried in Alberti's
church of S. Andrea at Mantua, in a chapel decorated at his own expense.
Over the grave was placed a bronze bust, most noble in modelling and
perfect in execution. The broad forehead with its deeply cloven furrows,
the stern and piercing eyes, the large lips compressed with nervous
energy, the massive nose, the strength of jaw and chin, and the superb
clusters of the hair escaping from a laurel-wreath upon the royal head,
are such as realise for us our notion of a Roman in the days of the
Republic. Mantegna's own genius has inspired this masterpiece, which
tradition assigns to the medallist Sperando Maglioli. Whoever wrought it,
must have felt the incubation of the mighty painter's spirit, and have
striven to express in bronze the character of his uncompromising art.

Of a different temperament, yet not wholly unlike Mantegna in a certain
iron strength of artistic character, was Luca Signorelli, born about 1441
at Cortona. The supreme quality of Mantegna was studied purity of outline,
severe and heightened style. As Landor is distinguished by concentration
above all the English poets who have made trial of the classic Muse, so
Mantegna holds a place apart among Italian painters because of his stern
Roman self-control. Signorelli, on the contrary, made his mark by
boldness, pushing experiment almost beyond the verge of truth, and
approaching Michael Angelo in the hardihood of his endeavour to outdo
nature. Vasari says of him, that "even Michael Angelo imitated the manner
of Luca, as every one can see;" and indeed Signorelli anticipated the
greatest master of the sixteenth century, not only in his profound study
of human anatomy, but also in his resolution to express high thought and
tragic passion by pure form, discarding all the minor charms of painting.
Trained in the severe school of Piero della Francesca, he early learned to
draw from the nude with boldness and accuracy; and to this point, too much
neglected by his predecessors, he devoted the full powers of his maturity.
Anatomy he practised, according to the custom of those days, in the
graveyard or beneath the gibbet. There is a drawing by him in the Louvre
of a stalwart man carrying upon his back the corpse of a youth. Both are
naked. The motive seems to have been taken from some lazar-house.
Life-long study of perspective in its application to the drawing of the
figure, made the difficulties of foreshortening and the delineation of
brusque attitude mere child's play to this audacious genius. The most
rapid movement, the most perilous contortion of bodies falling through the
air or flying, he depicted with hard, firmly-traced, unerring outline. If
we dare to criticise the productions of a master so original and so
accomplished, all we can say is that Signorelli revelled almost too
wantonly in the display of hazardous posture, and that he sacrificed the
passion of his theme to the display of science.[207] Yet his genius
comprehended great and tragic subjects, and to him belongs the credit in
an age of ornament and pedantry of having made the human body a language
for the utterance of all that is most weighty in the thought of man.

A story is told by Vasari which brings Signorelli very close to our
sympathy, and enables us to understand the fascination of pure form he
felt so deeply. "It is related of Luca that he had a son killed at
Cortona, a youth of singular beauty in face and person, whom he had
tenderly loved. In his grief the father caused the boy to be stripped
naked, and with extraordinary constancy of soul, uttering no complaint
and shedding no tear, he painted the portrait of his dead son, to the end
that he might still be able, through the work of his own hand, to
contemplate that which nature had given him, but which an adverse fortune
had taken away." So passionate and ardent, so convinced of the
indissoluble bond between the soul he loved in life and its dead tenement
of clay, and withal so iron-nerved and stout of will, it behoved that man
to be, who undertook in the plenitude of his power, at the age of sixty,
to paint upon the walls of the chapel of S. Brizio at Orvieto the images
of Doomsday, Resurrection, Heaven, and Hell.[208]

It is a gloomy chapel in the Gothic cathedral of that forlorn Papal
city--gloomy by reason of bad lighting, but more so because of the
terrible shapes with which Signorelli has filled it[209]. In no other work
of the Italian Renaissance, except in the Sistine Chapel, has so much
thought, engaged upon the most momentous subjects, been expressed with
greater force by means more simple and with effect more overwhelming.
Architecture, landscape, and decorative accessories of every kind, the
usual padding of _quattrocento_ pictures, have been discarded from the
main compositions. The painter has relied solely upon his power of
imagining and delineating the human form in every attitude, and under the
most various conditions. Darting like hawks or swallows through the air,
huddling together to shun the outpoured vials of the wrath of God,
writhing with demons on the floor of Hell, struggling into new life from
the clinging clay, standing beneath the footstool of the Judge, floating
with lute and viol on the winds of Paradise, kneeling in prayer, or
clasping "inseparable hands with joy and bliss in overmeasure for
ever"--these multitudes of living beings, angelic, diabolic, bestial,
human, crowd the huge spaces of the chapel walls. What makes the
impression of controlling doom the more appalling, is that we comprehend
the drama in its several scenes, while the chief actor, the divine Judge,
at whose bidding the cherubs sound their clarions, and the dead arise, and
weal and woe are portioned to the saved and damned, is Himself
unrepresented.[210] We breathe in the presence of embodied consciences,
submitting, like our own, to an unseen inevitable will.

It would be doing Signorelli injustice at Orvieto to study only these
great panels. The details with which he has filled all the vacant spaces
above the chapel stalls and round the doorway, throw new light upon his
power. The ostensible motive for this elaborate ornamentation is contained
in the portraits of six poets, who are probably Homer, Virgil, Lucan,
Horace, Ovid, and Dante, _il sesto tra cotanto senno_.[211] But the
portraits themselves, though vigorously conceived and remarkable for bold
foreshortening, are the least part of the whole design. Its originality
consists in the arabesques, medallions, and _chiaroscuro_ bas-reliefs,
where the human form, treated as absolutely plastic, supplies the sole
decorative element. The pilasters by the doorway, for example, are
composed, after the usual type of Italian _grotteschi_, in imitation of
antique candelabra, with numerous stages for the exhibition of the
artist's fancies. Unlike the work of Raphael in the Loggie, these
pilasters of Signorelli show no birds or beasts, no flowers or foliage,
fruits or fauns, no masks or sphinxes. They are crowded with naked
men--drinking, dancing, leaning forward, twisting themselves into strange
attitudes, and adapting their bodies to the several degrees of the
framework. The same may be said of the arabesques around the portraits of
the poets, where men, women, and children, some complete, some ending in
foliage or in fish-tails, are lavished with a wild and terrible profusion.
Hippogriffs and centaurs, sirens and dolphins, are here used as adjuncts
to humanity. Amid this fantastic labyrinth of twisted forms we find
medallions painted in _chiaroscuro_ with subjects taken chiefly from
Ovidian and Dantesque mythology. Here every attitude of men in combat and
in motion has been studied from the nude, and multitudes of figures draped
and undraped are compressed into the briefest compass. All but the human
form is sternly eliminated; and the body itself is treated with a mastery
and a boldness that prove Signorelli to have held its varied capabilities
firmly in his brain. He could not have worked out all those postures from
the living model. He played freely with his immense stores of knowledge;
but his play was the pastime of a Prometheus. Each pose, however
hazardous, carries conviction with it of sincerity and truth; the life and
liberty of nature reign throughout. From the whole maze of interlaced and
wrestling figures the terrible nature of the artist's genius shines forth.
They are almost all strong men in the prime or past the prime of life,
chosen for their salient display of vital structure. Signorelli was the
first, and, with the exception of Michael Angelo, the last painter thus to
use the body, without sentiment, without voluptuousness, without any
second intention whatsoever, as the supreme decorative principle. In his
absolute sincerity he made, as it were, a parade of hard and rugged types,
scorning to introduce an element of beauty, whether sensuous or ideal,
that should distract him from the study of the body in and for itself.
This distinguishes him in the arabesques at Orvieto alike from Mantegna
and Michael Angelo, from Correggio and Raphael, from Titian and Paolo

This point is so important for its bearing on Renaissance art that I may
be permitted to dilate at greater length on Signorelli's choice of types
and treatment of form in general. Having a special predilection for the
human body, he by no means confined himself to monotony in its
presentation. On the contrary, we can trace many distinct grades of
corporeal expression. First comes the abstract nude, illustrated by the
"Resurrection" and the arabesques at Orvieto[212]. Contemporary life, with
all its pomp of costume and insolence of ruffling youth, is depicted in
the "Fulminati" at Orvieto and in the "Soldiers of Totila" at Monte
Oliveto[213]. These transcripts from the courts of princes and camps of
condottieri are invaluable as portraits of the lawless young men who
filled Italy with the noise of their feuds and the violence of their
adventures. They illustrate Matarazzo's Perugian chronicle better than any
other Renaissance pictures; for in frescoes like those of Pinturicchio at
Siena the same qualities are softened to suit the painter's predetermined
harmony, whereas Signorelli rejoices in their pure untempered
character[214]. These, then, form a second stage. Third in degree we find
the type of highly idealised adolescence reserved by Signorelli for his
angels. All his science and his sympathy with real life are here
subordinated to poetic feeling. It is a mistake to say that these angels
are the young men of Umbria whom he loved to paint in their striped
jackets, with the addition of wings to their shoulders. The radiant beings
who tune their citherns on the clouds of Paradise, or scatter roses for
elect souls, could not live and breathe in the fiery atmosphere of
sensuous passions to which the Baglioni were habituated. A grave and
solemn sense of beauty animates these fair male beings, clothed in
voluminous drapery, with youthful faces and still earnest eyes. Their
melody, like that of Milton, is severe. Nor are Signorelli's angelic
beings of one uniform type like the angels of Fra Angelico. The athletic
cherubs of the "Resurrection," breathing their whole strength into the
trumpets that awake the dead; the mailed and winged warriors, keeping
guard above the pit of "Hell," that none may break their prison-bars among
the damned; the lute-players of "Paradise," with their almost feminine
sobriety of movement; the flame-breathing seraphs of the day of doom; the
"Gabriel" of Volterra, in whom strength is translated into
swiftness:--these are the heralds, sentinels, musicians, executioners, and
messengers of the celestial court; and each class is distinguished by
appropriate physical characteristics. At the other end of the scale,
forming a fourth grade, we may mention the depraved types of humanity
chosen for his demons--those greenish, reddish, ochreish fiends of the
"Inferno," whom Signorelli created by exaggerating the more grotesque
qualities of the nude developed in his arabesques. We thus obtain four
several degrees of form: the demoniac, the abstract nude, the adolescent
beauty of young men copied from choice models, and the angelic.

Except in his angels, Signorelli was comparatively indifferent to what is
commonly considered beauty. He was not careful to select his models, or to
idealise their type. The naked human body, apart from facial distinction
or refinement of form, contented him. Violent contrasts of light and
shadow, accentuating the anatomical structure with rough and angular
decision, give the effect of illustrative diagrams to his studies. Harmony
of proportion and the magic of expression are sacrificed to energy
emergent in a powerful physique. Redundant life, in sinewy limbs, in the
proud carriage of the head upon the neck, in the sway of the trunk
backward from the reins, the firmly planted calves and brawny thighs, the
thick hair, broad shoulders, spare flanks, and massive gluteal muscles of
a man of twenty-two or upwards, whose growth has been confined to the
development of animal force, was what delighted him. Yet there is no
coarseness or animalism properly so called in his style. He was attracted
by the marvellous mechanism of the human frame--its goodliness regarded as
the most highly organised of animate existences.

Owing, perhaps, to this exclusive predilection for organic life,
Signorelli was not great as a colourist. His patches of blues and reds in
the frescoes of Monte Oliveto are oppressively distinct; his use of dull
brown for the shading of flesh imparts a disagreeable heaviness to his
best modelled forms; nor did he often attain in his oil pictures to that
grave harmony we admire in his "Last Supper" at Cortona. The world of
light and colour was to him a comparatively untravelled land. It remained
for other artists to raise these elements of pictorial expression to the
height reached by Signorelli in his treatment of the nude.

Before quitting the frescoes at Orvieto, some attention should be paid to
the medallions spoken of above, in special relation to the classicism of
the earlier Renaissance. Scenes from Dante's "Purgatorio" and subjects
from the "Metamorphoses" of Ovid are treated here in the same key; but the
latter, since they engaged Signorelli's fancy upon Greek mythology, are
the more important for our purpose. Two from the legend of "Orpheus" and
two from that of "Proserpine" might be chosen as typical of the whole
series. Mediaeval intensity, curiously at variance with antique feeling, is
discernible throughout. The satellites of Hades are gaunt and sinewy
devils, eager to do violence to Eurydice. Pluto himself drives his jarring
car-wheels up through the lava-blocks and flames of Etna with a fury and a
vehemence we seek in vain upon antique sarcophagi. Ceres, wandering
through Sicily in search of her lost daughter, is a gaunt witch with
dishevelled hair, raising frantic hands to tear her cheeks; while the
snakes that draw her chariot are no grave symbols of the germinating corn,
but greedy serpents ready to spit fire against the ravishers of
Proserpine. Thus the tranquillity and self-restraint of Greek art yield to
a passionate and trenchant realisation of the actual romance. The most
thrilling moments in the legend are selected for dramatic treatment, grace
and beauty being exchanged for vivid presentation. A whole cycle of human
experience separates these medallions from the antique bas-relief at
Naples, where Hermes hands the veiled Eurydice to Orpheus, and all three
are calm. That Signorelli, if he chose to do so, could represent a classic
myth with more of classic feeling, is shown by his picture of "Pan
Listening to Olympus"[215]. The nymph, the vineleaf-girdled Faun, and the
two shepherds, all undraped and drawn with subtle feeling for the melodies
of line, render this work one of his most successful compositions.

It would be interesting to compare Signorelli's treatment of the antique
with Mantegna's or Botticelli's. The visions of the pagan world, floating
before the mind of all men in the fifteenth century, found very different
interpreters in these three painters--Botticelli adding the quaint alloy
of his own fancy, Signorelli imparting the semi-savagery of a terrible
imagination, Mantegna, with the truest instinct and the firmest touch,
confining himself to the processional pageantry of bas-relief. Yet, were
this comparison to be instituted, we could hardly refrain from carrying it
much further. Each great master of the Renaissance had his own relation to
classical mythology. The mystic sympathies of "Leda and the Swan," as
imaged severally by Lionardo and Michael Angelo; Correggio's romantic
handling of the myths of "Danaë" and "Io;" Titian's and Tintoretto's rival
pictures of "Bacchus and Ariadne;" Raphael's "Galatea;" Pollajuolo's
"Hercules;" the "Europa" of Veronese; the "Circe" of Dosso Dossi; Palma's
"Venus;" Sodoma's "Marriage of Alexander"--all these, to mention none but
pictures familiar to every traveller in Italy, raise for the student of
the classical Revival absorbing questions relative to the influences of
pagan myths upon the modern imagination.

Signorelli was chiefly occupied, during the course of his long career,
upon religious pictures; and the high place he occupies in the history of
Renaissance culture is due partly to his free abandonment of conventional
methods in treating sacred subjects. The Uffizzi Gallery contains a
circular "Madonna" by his hand, with a row of naked men for
background--the forerunner of Michael Angelo's famous "Holy Family." So
far had art for art's sake already encroached upon the ecclesiastical
domain. To discuss Signorelli's merits as a painter of altar-pieces would
be to extend the space allotted to him far beyond its proper limits. It is
not as a religious artist that he takes his rank, but as having powerfully
promoted the rehabilitation of the body achieved for art by the

Unlike Mantegna, Signorelli never entered the service of a prince, though
we have seen that he executed commissions for Lorenzo de' Medici and
Pandolfo Petrucci. He bore a name which, if not noble, had been more than
once distinguished in the annals of Tuscany. Residing at his native place,
Cortona, he there enjoyed the highest reputation, and was frequently
elected to municipal office. Concerning his domestic life very little is
known, but what we do know is derived from an excellent source[216]. His
mother was the sister of Lazzaro, great-grandfather of Giorgio Vasari. In
his biography of Signorelli, Vasari relates how, when he was himself a boy
of eight, his illustrious cousin visited the house of the Vasari family at
Arezzo; and hearing from little Giorgio's grammar-master that he spent his
time in drawing figures, Luca turned to the child's father and said,
"Antonio, since Giorgio takes after his family, you must by all means have
him taught; for even though he should pay attention to literature as well,
drawing cannot fail to be a source of utility, honour, and recreation to
him, as it is to every man of worth." Luca's kindness deeply impressed the
boy, who afterwards wrote the following description of his personal
qualities: "He was a man of the most excellent habits, sincere and
affectionate with his friends, sweet of conversation and amusing in
society, above all things courteous to those who had need of his work, and
easy in giving instruction to his pupils. He lived splendidly, and took
delight in dressing handsomely. This excellent disposition caused him to
be always held in highest veneration both in his own city and abroad."

To turn from Signorelli to Perugino is to plunge at once into a very
different atmosphere[217]. It is like quitting the rugged gorges of high
mountains for a valley of the Southern Alps--still, pensive, beautiful,
and coloured with reflections from an evening sky. Perugino knew exactly
how to represent a certain mood of religious sentiment, blending meek
acquiescence with a prayerful yearning of the impassioned soul. His
Madonnas worshipping the infant Jesus in a tranquil Umbrian landscape, his
angels ministrant, his pathetic martyrs with upturned holy faces, his
sexless S. Sebastians and immaculate S. Michaels, display the perfection
of art able by colour and by form to achieve within a narrow range what it
desires. What this artist seems to have aimed at, was to create for the
soul amid the pomps and passions of this world a resting-place of
contemplation tenanted by saintly and seraphic beings. No pain comes near
the folk of his celestial city; no longing poisons their repose; they are
not weary, and the wicked trouble them no more. Their cheerfulness is no
less perfect than their serenity; like the shades of Hellas, they have
drunk Lethean waters from the river of content, and all remembrance of
things sad or harsh has vanished from their minds. The quietude of
holiness expressed in this ideal region was a legacy to Perugino from
earlier Umbrian masters; but his technical supremacy in fresco-painting
and in oils, his correct drawing within certain limits, and his refined
sense of colour enabled him to realise it more completely than his less
accomplished predecessors. In his best work the Renaissance set the seal
of absolute perfection upon pietistic art.

We English are fortunate in possessing one of Perugino's sincerest
devotional oil pictures[218]. His frescoes of "S. Sebastian" at Panicale,
and of the "Crucifixion" at Florence, are tolerably well known through
reproductions[219]; while the "Vision of S. Bernard" at Munich and the
"Pietà" in the Pitti Gallery are familiar to all travelled students of
Italian painting. These masterpieces belong to Perugino's best period,
when his inspiration was fresh, and his enthusiasm for artistic excellence
was still unimpaired; and when, as M. Rio thinks, the failure of his faith
had not yet happened. It is only at Perugia, however, in the Sala del
Cambio, that we are able to gauge the extent of his power and to estimate
the value of his achievement beyond the pale of strictly religious themes.

Early in the course of his career Perugino seems to have become contented
with a formal repetition of successful motives, and to have checked the
growth of his genius by adhering closely to a prescribed cycle of effects.
The praises of his patrons and the prosperity of his trade proved to his
keen commercial sense that the raised ecstatic eyes, the upturned oval
faces, the pale olive skin, the head inclined upon the shoulder, the thin
fluttering hair, the ribands and the dainty dresses of his holy persons
found great favour in Umbrian palaces and convents. Thenceforward he
painted but little else; and when, in the Sala del Cambio, he was obliged
to treat the representative heroes of Greek and Roman story, he adopted
the same manner[220]. Leonidas, the lionhearted Spartan, and Cato, the
austere Roman, who preferred liberty to life, bend their mild heads like
flowers in Perugino's frescoes, and gather up their drapery in studied
folds with celestial delicacy. Jove is a reproduction of the Eterno Padre,
conceived as a benevolent old man for a conventional painting of the
"Trinity;" and Ganymede is a page-boy with the sweet submissive features
of Tobias. Already Perugino had opened a manufactory of pietistic
pictures, and was employing many pupils on his works. He coined money by
fixing artificially beautiful faces upon artificially elegant figures,
placing a row of these puppets in a landscape with calm sky behind them,
and calling the composition by the name of some familiar scene. His
inspiration was dead, his invention exhausted; his chief object seemed to
be to make his trade thrive.

Perugino will always remain a problem to the psychologist who believes in
physiognomy, as well as to the student of the passionate times in which he
lived. His hard unsympathetic features in the portraits at Perugia and
Florence do not belie, but rather win credence for Vasari's tales about
his sordid soul.[221] Local traditions and contemporary rumours, again,
give colour to what Vasari relates about his infidelity; while the
criminal records of Florence prove that he was not over-scrupulous to keep
his hands from violence.[222] How could such a man, we ask ourselves, have
endured to pass a long life in the _fabrication of devotional pictures?_
Whence did he derive the sentiment of masterpieces, for piety only
equalled by those of Fra Angelico, either in his own nature or in the
society of a city torn to pieces by the factions of the Baglioni? How,
again, was it possible for an artist who at times touched beauty so ideal,
to be contented with the stencilling by his pupils of conventional figures
on canvases to which he gave his name? Taking these questions separately,
we might reply that "there is no art to find the mind's construction in
the face;" that painting in the sixteenth century was a trade regulated by
the demand for particular wares; that men can live among ruffians without
sharing their mood; that the artist and the moral being are separate, and
may not be used to interpret each other. Yet, after giving due weight to
such answers, Perugino, being what he was, living at the time he did, not
as a recluse, but as a prosperous _impresario_ of painting, and
systematically devoting his powers to pietistic art, must be for us a
puzzle. That the quietism of his highly artificial style should have been
fashionable in Perugia, while the Baglioni were tearing each other to
pieces, and the troops of the Vitelli and the Borgia were trampling upon
Umbria, is one of the most striking paradoxes of an age rich in dramatic

It is much to be regretted, with a view to solving the question of
Perugino's personality in relation to his art, that his character does not
emerge with any salience from the meagre notices we have received
concerning him, and that we know but little of his private life. Vasari
tells us that he married a very beautiful girl, and that one of his chief
pleasures was to see this wife handsomely dressed at home and abroad. He
often decked her out in clothes and jewels with his own hand. For the
rest, we find in Perugino, far more than in either Mantegna or Signorelli,
an instance of the simple Italian craftsman, employing numerous
assistants, undertaking contract work on a large scale, and striking keen
bargains with his employers. Both at Florence and at Perugia he opened a
_bottega_; and by the exercise of his trade as a master-painter, he
realised enough money to buy substantial estates in those cities, as well
as in his birthplace.[223] In all the greatest artworks of the age he took
his part. Thus we find him painting in the Sistine Chapel between 1484 and
1486, treating with the commune of Orvieto for the completion of the
chapel of S. Brizio in 1489, joining in the debate upon the façade of S.
Maria del Fiore in 1491, giving his opinion upon the erection of Michael
Angelo's "David" at Florence in 1504, and competing with Signorelli,
Pinturicchio, and Bazzi for the decoration of the Stanze of the Vatican in
1508. The rising of brighter stars above the horizon during his lifetime
somewhat dimmed his fame, and caused him much disquietude; yet neither
Raphael nor Michael Angelo interfered with the demand for his pictures,
which continued to be lively till the very year of his death. That he was
jealous of these younger rivals, appears from the fact that he brought an
action against Michael Angelo for having called his style stupid and
antiquated. In the celebrated phrase cast at him by the blunt and scornful
master of a new art-mystery[224], we discern the abrupt line of division
between time-honoured tradition and the _maniera moderna_ of the full
Renaissance. The old Titans had to yield their place before the new
Olympian deities of Italian painting. There is something pathetic in the
retirement of the grey-haired Perugino from Rome, to make way for the
victorious Phoebean beauty of the boy Raphael.

The influence of Perugino upon Italian art was powerful though transitory.
He formed a band of able pupils, among whom was the great Raphael; and
though Raphael speedily abandoned his master's narrow footpath through the
fields of painting, he owed to Perugino the invaluable benefit of training
in solid technical methods and traditions of pure taste. From none of his
elder contemporaries, with the exception of Fra Bartolommeo, could the
young Raphael have learnt so much that was congenial to his early
instincts. What, for example, might have befallen him if he had worked
with Signorelli, it is difficult to imagine; for while nothing is more
obvious on the one hand than Raphael's originality, his strong
assimilative bias is scarcely less remarkable. The time has not yet come
to speak of Raphael; nor will space suffice for detailed observations on
his fellow-students in the workshop at Perugia. The place occupied by
Perugino in the evolution of Italian painting is peculiar. In the middle
of a positive and worldly age, declining fast to frigid scepticism and
political corruption, he set the final touch of technical art upon the
devotion transmitted from earlier and more enthusiastic centuries. The
flower of Umbrian piety blossomed in the masterpieces of his youth, and
faded into dryness in the affectations of his manhood. Nothing was left on
the same line for his successors.

Among these, Bernardo Pinturicchio can here alone be mentioned. A thorough
naturalist, though saturated with the mannerism of the Umbrian school,
Pinturicchio was not distracted either by scientific or ideal aims from
the clear and fluent presentation of contemporary manners and costumes. He
is a kind of Umbrian Gozzoli, who brings us here and there in close
relation to the men of his own time, and has in consequence a special
value for the student of Renaissance life. His wall-paintings in the
library of the cathedral of Siena are so well preserved that we need not
seek elsewhere for better specimens of the decorative art most highly
prized in the first years of the sixteenth century[225]. These frescoes
have a richness of effect and a vivacity of natural action, which, in
spite of their superficiality, render them highly charming. The life of
Æneas Sylvius Piccolomini, Pius II., is here treated like a legend. There
is no attempt at representing the dress of half a century anterior to the
painter's date, or at rendering accurate historic portraiture. Both Pope
and Emperor are romantically conceived, and each portion of the tale is
told as though it were a fit in some popular ballad. So much remains of
Perugian affectation as gives a kind of childlike grace to the studied
attitudes and many-coloured groups of elegant young men.

We must always be careful to distinguish the importance of an artist
considered as the exponent of his age from that which he may claim by
virtue of some special skill or some peculiar quality of feeling. The art
of Perugino, for example, throws but little light upon the Renaissance
taken as a whole. Intrinsically valuable because of its technical
perfection and its purity of sentiment, it was already in the painter's
lifetime superseded by a larger and a grander manner. The progressive
forces of the modern style found their channels outside him. This again is
true of Francesco Raibolini, surnamed Francia from his master in the
goldsmith's craft. Francia is known to Englishmen as one of the most
sincerely pious of Christian painters by his incomparable picture of the
"Dead Christ" in our National Gallery. The spirituality that renders Fra
Angelico unintelligible to minds less ecstatically tempered than his own,
is not found in such excess in Francia, nor does his work suffer from the
insipidity of Perugino's affectation. Deep religious feeling is combined
with physical beauty of the purest type in a masterpiece of tranquil
grace. A greater degree of _naïveté_ and naturalness compensates for the
inferiority of Francia's to Perugino's supremely perfect handling. This is
true of Francia's numerous pictures at Bologna; where indeed, in order to
be rightly known, he should be studied by all lovers of the _quattrocento_
style in its most delightful moments[226]. For mastery over oil painting
and for charm of colour Francia challenges comparison with what is best in
Perugino, though he did not quite attain the same technical excellence.

One more painter must delay us yet awhile within the limits of the
fifteenth century. Bartolommeo di Paolo del Fattorino, better known as
Baccio della Porta or Fra Bartolommeo, forms at Florence the connecting
link between the artists of the earlier Renaissance and the golden
age[227]. By chronological reckoning he is nearly a quarter of a century
later than Lionardo da Vinci, and is the exact contemporary of Michael
Angelo. As an artist, he has thoroughly outgrown the _quattrocento_ style,
and falls short only by a little of the greatest. In assigning him a place
among the predecessors and precursors of the full Renaissance, I am
therefore influenced rather by the range of subjects he selected, and by
the character of his genius, than by calculations of time or estimate of

Fra Bartolommeo was sent, when nine years old, into the workshop of Cosimo
Rosselli, where he began his artist's life by colour-grinding, sweeping
out the shop, and errand-running. It was in Cosimo's _bottega_ that he
made acquaintance with Mariotto Albertinelli, who became his intimate
friend and fellow-worker. In spite of marked differences of character,
disagreements upon the fundamental matters of politics and religion, and
not unfrequent quarrels, these men continued to be comrades through the
better part of their joint lives. Baccio was gentle, timid, yielding, and
industrious. Mariotto was wilful, obstinate, inconsequent, and flighty,
Baccio fell under the influence of Savonarola, professed himself a
_piagnone_, and took the cowl of the Dominicans[228]. Mariotto was a
partisan of the Medici, an uproarious _pallesco_, and a loose liver, who
eventually deserted the art of painting for the calling of an innkeeper.
Yet so sweet was the temper of the Frate, and so firm was the bond of
friendship established in boyhood between this ill-assorted couple, that
they did not part company until 1512, three years before Mariotto's death
and five before that of Bartolommeo. During their long association the
task of designing fell upon the Frate, while Albertinelli took his orders
and helped to work out his conceptions. Both were excellent craftsmen and
consummate colourists, as is proved by the pictures executed by each
unassisted. Albertinelli's "Salutation" in the Uffizzi yields no point of
grace and vigour to any of his more distinguished coadjutor's paintings.

The great contributions made by Fra Bartolommeo to the art of Italy were
in the double region of composition and colouring. In his justly
celebrated fresco of S. Maria Nuova at Florence--a "Last Judgment" with a
Christ enthroned amid a choir of Saints--he exhibited for the first time a
thoroughly scientific scheme of grouping based on geometrical principles.
Each part is perfectly balanced in itself, and yet is necessary to the
structure of the whole. The complex framework may be subdivided into
numerous sections no less harmoniously ordered than is the total scheme to
which they are subordinated. Simple figures--the pyramid and the triangle,
upright, inverted, and interwoven like the rhymes in a sonnet--form the
basis of the composition. This system was adhered to by the Frate in all
his subsequent works. To what extent it influenced the style of Raphael,
will be afterwards discussed. As a colourist, Fra Bartolommeo was equal to
the best of his contemporaries, and superior to any of his rivals in the
school of Florence. Few painters of any age have combined harmony of tone
so perfectly with brilliance and richness. It is a real joy to contemplate
the pure and splendid folds of the white drapery he loved to place in the
foreground of his altar-pieces. Solidity and sincerity distinguish his
work in every detail, while his feeling is remarkable for elevation and
sobriety. All that he lacks, is the boldness of imagination, the depth of
passion, and the power of thought, that are indispensable to genius of the
highest order. Gifted with a sympathetic and a pliant, rather than a
creative and self-sustained nature, he was sensitive to every influence.
Therefore we find him learning much in his youth from Lionardo, deriving a
fresh impulse from Raphael, and endeavouring in his later life, after a
visit to Rome in 1514, to "heighten his style," as the phrase went, by
emulating Michael Angelo. The attempt to tread the path of Buonarroti was
a failure. What Fra Bartolommeo sought to gain in majesty, he lost in
charm. His was essentially a pure and gracious manner, upon which
sublimity could not be grafted. The gentle soul, who dropped his weapon
when the convent of S. Marco was besieged by the Compagnacci[229], and who
vowed, if heaven preserved him in the tumult, to become a monk, had none
of Michael Angelo's _terribilità_. Without possessing some share of that
spirit, it was vain to aggrandise the forms and mass the raiment of his
prophets in imitation of the Sistine.

Nature made Fra Bartolommeo the painter of adoration[230]. His masterpiece
at Lucca--the "Madonna della Misericordia"--is a poem of glad worship, a
hymn of prayerful praise. Our Lady stands elate, between earth and heaven,
appealing to her Son for mercy. At her footstool are her suppliants, the
men and women and little children of the city she has saved. The peril is
past. Salvation has been won; and the song of thanksgiving ascends from
all those massed and mingled forms in unison. Not less truly is the great
unfinished picture of "Madonna surrounded by the Patron Saints of
Florence" a poem of adoration[231]. This painting was ordered by the
Gonfalonier Piero Soderini, the man who dedicated Florence to Christ as
King. He intended it to take its place in the hall of the Consiglio
Grande, where Michael Angelo and Lionardo gained their earliest laurels.
Before it could be finished, the Republic perished.[232] "That," says Rio,
"is the reason why he left but an imperfect work--for those at least who
are only struck by what is wanting in it. Others will at first regard it
with the interest attaching to unfinished poems, interrupted by the
jailer's call or by the stern voice of the executioner. Then they will
study it in all its details, in order to appreciate its beauties; and that
appreciation will be the more perfect in proportion as a man is the more
fully penetrated with its dominant idea, and with the attendant
circumstances that bring this home to him. It is not against an abstract
enemy that the intercession of the celestial powers is here invoked: it is
not by a caprice of the painter or his patron that, in the group of
central figures, S. Anne attracts attention before the Holy Virgin, not
only by reason of her pre-eminence, but also through the intensity of her
heavenward prayer, and again through her beauty, which far surpasses that
of nearly all "Madonnas" painted by Fra Bartolommeo."[233] But artist and
patron had indeed good reason, in this crisis of the Commonwealth, to
select as the most eminent advocate for Florence at the bar of Heaven that
saint, on whose day, July 26, 1343, had been celebrated the emancipation
of the city from its servitude to Walter of Brienne.

The great event of Fra Bartolommeo's life was the impression produced on
him by Savonarola.[234] Having listened to the Dominican's terrific
denunciations of worldliness and immorality, he carried his life studies
to the pyre of vanities, resolved to assume the cowl, and renounced his
art. Between 1499, when he was engaged in painting the "Last Judgment" of
S. Maria Nuova, and 1506, he is supposed never to have touched the pencil.
When he resumed it Savonarola had been burned for heresy, and Fra
Bartolommeo was a brother in his convent of S. Marco. Savonarola has
sometimes been described as an iconoclast, obstinately hostile to the fine
arts. This is by no means a true account of the crusade he carried on
against the pagan sensuality of his contemporaries. He desired that art
should remain the submissive handmaid of the Church and the willing
servant of pure morality. While he denounced the heathenism of the style
in vogue at Florence, and forbade the study of the nude, he strove to
encourage religious painting, and established a school for its exercise in
the cloister of S. Marco. It was in this monastic _bottega_ that Fra
Bartolommeo, in concert with his friend Albertinelli, worked for the
benefit of the convent after the year 1506. The reforms Savonarola
attempted in the fine arts as in manners, by running counter to the
tendencies of the Renaissance at a moment when society was too corrupt to
be regenerated, and the passion for antiquity was too powerful to be
restrained, proved of necessity ineffective. It may further be said that
the limitations he imposed would have been fatal to the free development
of art if they had been observed.

Several painters, besides Fra Baccio, submitted to Savonarola's influence.
Among these the most distinguished were the pure and gentle Lorenzo di
Credi and Sandro Botticelli, who, after the great preacher's death, is
said to have abandoned painting. Neither Lorenzo di Credi nor Fra Baccio
possessed a portion of the prophet's fiery spirit. Had that but found
expression in their cloistral pictures, one of the most peculiar and
characteristic flowers of art the world has ever known, would then have
bloomed in Florence. The mantle of Savonarola, however, if it fell upon
any painter, fell on Michael Angelo, and we must seek an echo of the
friar's thunders in the Sistine Chapel. Fra Bartolommeo was too tender and
too timid. The sublimities of tragic passion lay beyond his scope. Though
I have ventured to call him the painter of adoration, he did not feel even
this movement of the soul with the intensity of Fra Angelico. In the
person of S. Dominic kneeling beneath the cross Fra Angelico painted
worship as an ecstasy, wherein the soul goes forth with love and pain and
yearning beyond any power of words or tears or music to express what it
would utter. To these heights of the ascetic ideal Fra Bartolommeo never
soared. His sobriety bordered upon the prosaic.

We have now reached the great age of the Italian Renaissance, the age in
which, not counting for the moment Venice, four arch-angelic natures
gathered up all that had been hitherto achieved in art since the days of
Pisano and Giotto, adding such celestial illumination from the sunlight of
their inborn genius that in them the world for ever sees what art can do.
Lionardo da Vinci was born in Valdarno in 1452, and died in France in
1519. Michael Angelo Buonarroti was born at Caprese, in the Casentino, in
1475, and died at Borne in 1564, having outlived the lives of his great
peers by nearly half a century. Raphael Santi was born at Urbino in 1483,
and died in Rome in 1520. Antonio Allegri was born at Correggio in 1494,
and died there in 1534. To these four men, each in his own degree and
according to his own peculiar quality of mind, the fulness of the
Renaissance, in its power and freedom, was revealed. They entered the
inner shrine, where dwelt the spirit of their age, and bore to the world
without the message each of them had heard. In their work posterity still
may read the meaning of that epoch, differently rendered according to the
difference of gifts in each consummate artist, but comprehended in its
unity by study of the four together. Lionardo is the wizard or diviner; to
him the Renaissance offers her mystery and lends her magic. Raphael is the
Phoebean singer; to him the Renaissance reveals her joy and dowers him
with her gift of melody. Correggio is the Ariel or Faun; he has surprised
laughter upon the face of the universe, and he paints this laughter in
ever-varying movement. Michael Angelo is the prophet and Sibylline seer;
to him the Renaissance discloses the travail of her spirit; him she endues
with power; he wrests her secret, voyaging, like an ideal Columbus, the
vast abyss of thought alone. In order that this revelation of the
Renaissance in painting should be complete, it is necessary to add a fifth
power to these four--that of the Venetian masters, who are the poets of
carnal beauty, the rhetoricians of mundane pomp, the impassioned
interpreters of all things great and splendid in the pageant of the outer
world. As Venice herself, by type of constitution and historical
development, remained sequestered from the rest of Italy, so her painters
demand separate treatment.[235] It is enough, therefore, for the present
to remember that without the note they utter the chord of the Renaissance
lacks its harmony.

Lionardo, the natural son of Messer Pietro, notary of Florence and landed
proprietor at Vinci, was so beautiful of person that no one, says Vasari,
has sufficiently extolled his charm; so strong of limb that he could bend
an iron ring or horse-shoe between his fingers; so eloquent of speech that
those who listened to his words were fain to answer "Yes" or "No" as he
thought fit. This child of grace and persuasion was a wonderful musician.
The Duke of Milan sent for him to play upon his lute and improvise Italian
canzoni. The lute he carried was of silver, fashioned like a horse's
head, and tuned according to acoustic laws discovered by himself. Of the
songs he sang to its accompaniment none have been preserved. Only one
sonnet remains to show of what sort was the poetry of Lionardo, prized so
highly by the men of his own generation. This, too, is less remarkable for
poetic beauty than for sober philosophy expressed with singular brevity of

This story of Da Vinci's lute might be chosen as a parable of his
achievement. Art and science were never separated in his work; and both
were not unfrequently subservient to some fanciful caprice, some bizarre
freak of originality. Curiosity and love of the uncommon ruled his nature.
By intuition and by persistent interrogation of nature he penetrated many
secrets of science; but he was contented with the acquisition of
knowledge. Once found, he had but little care to distribute the results of
his investigations; at most he sought to use them for purposes of
practical utility.[237] Even in childhood he is said to have perplexed
his teachers by propounding arithmetical problems. In his maturity he
carried anatomy further than Delia Torre; he invented machinery for
water-mills and aqueducts; he devised engines of war, discovered the
secret of conical rifle-bullets, adapted paddle-wheels to boats, projected
new systems of siege artillery, investigated the principles of optics,
designed buildings, made plans for piercing mountains, raising churches,
connecting rivers, draining marshes, clearing harbours.[238] There was no
branch of study whereby nature through the effort of the inquisitive
intellect might be subordinated to the use of man, of which he was not
master. Nor, richly gifted as was Lionardo, did he trust his natural
facility. His patience was no less marvellous than the quickness of his
insight. He lived to illustrate the definition of genius as the capacity
for taking infinite pains.

While he was a boy, says Vasari, Lionardo modelled in terra-cotta certain
heads of women smiling. This was in the workshop of Verocchio, who had
already fixed a smile on David's face in bronze. When an old man, he left
"Mona Lisa" on the easel not quite finished, the portrait of a subtle,
shadowy, uncertain smile. This smile, this enigmatic revelation of a
movement in the soul, this seductive ripple on the surface of the human
personality, was to Lionardo a symbol of the secret of the world, an image
of the universal mystery. It haunted him all through his life, and
innumerable were the attempts he made to render by external form the magic
of this fugitive and evanescent charm.

Through long days he would follow up and down the streets of Florence or
of Milan beautiful unknown faces, learning them by heart, interpreting
their changes of expression, reading the thoughts through the features.
These he afterwards committed to paper. We possess many such sketches--a
series of ideal portraits, containing each an unsolved riddle that the
master read; a procession of shadows, cast by reality, that, entering the
camera lucida of the artist's brain, gained new and spiritual
quality.[239] In some of them his fancy seems to be imprisoned in the
labyrinths of hair; in others the eyes deep with feeling or hard with
gemlike brilliancy have caught it, or the lips that tell and hide so much,
or the nostrils quivering with momentary emotion. Beauty, inexpressive of
inner meaning, must, we conceive, have had but slight attraction for him.
We do not find that he drew "a fair naked body" for the sake of its carnal
charm; his hasty studies of the nude are often faulty, mere memoranda of
attitude and gesture. The human form was interesting to him either
scientifically or else as an index to the soul. Yet he felt the influence
of personal loveliness His favourite pupil Salaino was a youth "of
singular grace, with curled and waving hair, a feature of personal beauty
by which Lionardo was always greatly pleased." Hair, the most mysterious
of human things, the most manifold in form and hue, snakelike in its
subtlety for the entanglement of souls, had naturally supreme
attractiveness for the magician of the arts.

With like energy Lionardo bent himself to divine the import of ugliness.
Whole pages of his sketch-book are filled with squalid heads of shrivelled
crones and ghastly old men--with idiots, goîtred cretins, criminals, and
clowns. It was not that he loved the horrible for its own sake; but he was
determined to seize character, to command the gamut of human physiognomy
from ideal beauty down to forms bestialised by vice and disease. The story
related by Giraldi concerning the head of Judas in the "Cenacolo" at
Milan, sufficiently illustrates the method of Lionardo in creating types
and the utility of such caricatures as his notebooks contain.[240]

It is told that he brought into his room one day a collection of
reptiles--lizards, newts, toads, vipers, efts--all creatures that are
loathsome to the common eye. These, by the magic of imagination, he
combined into a shape so terrible that those who saw it shuddered.
Medusa's snake-enwoven head exhaling poisonous vapour from the livid lips;
Leda, swanlike beside her swan lover; Chimaera, in whom many natures
mingled and made one; the conflict of a dragon and a lion; S. John
conceived not as a prophet but as a vine-crowned Faun, the harbinger of
joy:--over pictorial motives of this kind, attractive by reason of their
complexity or mystery, he loved to brood; and to this fascination of a
sphinx-like charm we owe some of his most exquisite drawings. Lionardo
more than any other artist who has ever lived (except perhaps his great
predecessor Leo Battista Alberti) felt the primal sympathies that bind
men to the earth, their mother, and to living things, their brethren.[241]
Therefore the borderland between humanity and nature allured him with a
spell half aesthetic and half scientific. In the dawn of Hellas this
sympathetic apprehension of the world around him would have made him a
supreme mythopoet. In the dawn of the modern world curiosity claimed the
lion's share of his genius: nor can it be denied that his art suffered by
this division of interests. The time was not yet come for accurate
physiological investigation, or for the true birth of the scientific
spirit; and in any age it would have been difficult for one man to
establish on a sound basis discoveries made in so many realms as those
explored by Lionardo. We cannot, therefore, but regret that he was not
more exclusively a painter. If, however, he had confined his activity to
the production of works equal to the "Cenacolo," we should have missed the
most complete embodiment in one personality of the twofold impulses of the
Renaissance and of its boundless passion for discovery.

Lionardo's turn for physical science led him to study the technicalities
of art with fervent industry. Whatever his predecessors had acquired in
the knowledge of materials, the chemistry of colours, the mathematics of
composition, the laws of perspective, and the illusions of _chiaroscuro,_
he developed to the utmost. To find a darker darkness and a brighter
brightness than had yet been shown upon the painter's canvas; to solve
problems of foreshortening; to deceive the eye by finely graduated tones
and subtle touches; to submit the freest play of form to simple figures of
geometry in grouping, were among the objects he most earnestly pursued.
At the same time his deep feeling for all things that have life, gave him
new power in the delineation of external nature. The branching of
flower-stems, the outlines of fig-leaves, the attitudes of beasts and
birds in motion, the arching of the fan-palm, were rendered by him with
the same consummate skill as the dimple on a cheek or the fine curves of a
young man's lips.[242] Wherever he perceived a difficulty, he approached
and conquered it. Love, which is the soul of art--Love, the bondslave of
Beauty and the son of Poverty by Craft--led him to these triumphs. He used
to buy caged birds in the marketplace that he might let them loose. He was
attached to horses, and kept a sumptuous stable; and these he would draw
in eccentric attitudes, studying their anatomy in detail for his statue of
Francesco Sforza.[243] In the "Battle of the Standard," known to us only
by a sketch of Rubens,[244] he gave passions to the horse--not human
passion, nor yet merely equine--but such as horses might feel when placed
upon a par with men. In like manner the warriors are fiery with bestial
impulses--leonine fury, wolfish ferocity, fox-like cunning. Their very
armour takes the shape of monstrous reptiles. To such an extent did the
interchange of human and animal properties haunt Lionardo's fancy.

From what has been already said we shall be better able to understand
Lionardo's love of the bizarre and grotesque. One day a vine-dresser
brought him a very curious lizard. The master fitted it with wings
injected with quicksilver to give them motion as the creature crawled.
Eyes, horns, and a beard, a marvellous dragon's mask, were placed upon its
head. This strange beast lived in a cage, where Lionardo tamed it; but no
one, says Vasari, dared so much as to look at it.[245] On quaint puzzles
and perplexing schemes he mused a good part of his life away. At one time
he was for making wings to fly with; at another he invented ropes that
should uncoil, strand by strand; again, he devised a system of flat corks,
by means of which to walk on water.[246] One day, after having scraped the
intestines of a sheep so thin that he could hold them in the hollow of his
hand, he filled them with wind from a bellows, and blew and blew until the
room was choked, and his visitors had to run into corners. Lionardo told
them that this was a proper symbol of genius.

Such stories form what may be called the legend of Lionardo's life; and
some of them seem simple, others almost childish.[247] They illustrate
what is meant when we call him the wizard of the Renaissance. Art, nature,
life, the mysteries of existence, the infinite capacity of human thought,
the riddle of the world, all that the Greeks called Pan, so swayed and
allured him that, while he dreamed and wrought and never ceased from
toil, he seemed to have achieved but little. The fancies of his brain
were, perhaps, too subtle and too fragile to be made apparent to the eyes
of men. He was wont, after years of labour, to leave his work still
incomplete, feeling that he could not perfect it as he desired: yet even
his most fragmentary sketches have a finish beyond the scope of lesser
men. "Extraordinary power," says Vasari, "was in his case conjoined with
remarkable facility, a mind of regal boldness and magnanimous daring." Yet
he was constantly accused of indolence and inability to execute.[248]
Often and often he made vast preparations and accomplished nothing. It is
well known how the Prior of S. Maria delle Grazie complained that Lionardo
stood for days looking at his fresco, and for weeks never came near it;
how the monks of the Annunziata at Florence were cheated out of their
painting, for which elaborate designs had yet been made; how Leo X.,
seeing him mix oils with varnish to make a new medium, exclaimed, "Alas!
this man will do nothing; he thinks of the end before he makes a
beginning." A good answer to account for the delay was always ready on the
painter's lips, as that the man of genius works most when his hands are
idlest; Judas, sought in vain through all the thieves' resorts in Milan,
is not found; I cannot hope to see the face of Christ except in Paradise.
Again, when an equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza had been modelled in
all its parts, another model was begun because Da Vinci would fain show
the warrior triumphing over a fallen foe.[249] The first motive seemed to
him tame; the second was unrealisable in bronze. "I can do anything
possible to man," he wrote to Lodovico Sforza, "and as well as any living
artist either in sculpture or painting." But he would do nothing as
taskwork, and his creative brain loved better to invent than to
execute.[250] "Of a truth," continues his biographer, "there is good
reason to believe that the very greatness of his most exalted mind, aiming
at more than could be effected, was itself an impediment; perpetually
seeking to add excellence to excellence and perfection to perfection. This
was without doubt the true hindrance, so that, as our Petrarch has it, the
work was retarded by desire." At the close of that cynical and positive
century, the spirit whereof was so well expressed by Cosimo de'
Medici,[251] Lionardo set before himself aims infinite instead of finite.
His designs of wings to fly with symbolise his whole endeavour. He
believed in solving the insoluble; and nature had so richly dowered him in
the very dawntime of discovery, that he was almost justified in this
delusion. Having caught the Proteus of the world, he tried to grasp him;
but the god changed shape beneath his touch. Having surprised Silenus
asleep, he begged from him a song; but the song Silenus sang was so
marvellous in its variety, so subtle in its modulations, that Lionardo
could do no more than recall scattered phrases. His Proteus was the spirit
of the Renaissance. The Silenus from whom he forced the song was the
double nature of man and of the world.

By ill chance it happened that Lionardo's greatest works soon perished.
His cartoon at Florence disappeared. His model for Sforza's statue was
used as a target by French bowmen. His "Last Supper" remains a mere wreck
in the Convent delle Grazie. Such as it is, blurred by ill-usage and
neglect, more blurred by impious re-painting, that fresco must be seen by
those who wish to understand Da Vinci. It has well been called the
compendium of all his studies and of all his writings; and,
chronologically, it is the first masterpiece of the perfected
Renaissance.[252] Other painters had represented the Last Supper as a
solemn prologue to the Passion, or as the mystical inauguration of the
greatest Christian sacrament.[253] But none had dared to break the calm of
the event by a dramatic action. The school of Giotto, Fra Angelico,
Ghirlandajo, Perugino, even Signorelli, remained within the sphere of
symbolical suggestion; and their work gained in dignity what it lost in
intensity. Lionardo combined both. He undertook to paint a moment, to
delineate the effect of a single word upon twelve men seated at a table,
and to do this without sacrificing the tranquillity demanded by ideal art,
and without impairing the divine majesty of Him from whose lips that word
has fallen. The time has long gone by for detailed criticism or
description of a painting known to everybody. It is enough to observe that
the ideal representation of a dramatic moment, the life breathed into each
part of the composition, the variety of the types chosen to express
varieties of character, and the scientific distribution of the twelve
Apostles in four groups of three around the central Christ, mark the
appearance of a new spirit of power and freedom in the arts. What had
hitherto been treated with religious timidity, with conventional
stiffness, or with realistic want of grandeur, was now humanised and at
the same time transported into a higher intellectual region; and though
Lionardo discrowned the Apostles of their aureoles, he for the first time
in the history of painting created a Christ not unworthy to be worshipped
as the _praesens Deus_. We know not whether to admire most the perfection
of the painter's art or his insight into spiritual things.[254]

If we are forced to feel that, with Da Vinci, accomplishment fell short of
power and promise, the case is very different with Raphael. In him there
was no perplexity, no division of interests. He was fascinated by no
insoluble mystery and absorbed by no seductive problems. His faculty and
his artistic purpose were exactly balanced, adequate, and mutually
supporting. He saw by intuition what to do, and he did it without let or
hindrance, exercising from his boyhood till his early death an unimpeded
energy of pure productiveness. Like Mozart, to whom he bears in many
respects a remarkable resemblance, Raphael was gifted with inexhaustible
fertility and with unwearied industry. Like Mozart, again, he had a nature
which converted everything to beauty. Thought, passion, emotion, became in
his art living melody. We almost forget his strength in admiration of his
grace; the travail of his intellect is hidden by the serenity of his
style. There is nothing over-much in any portion of his work, no sense of
effort, no straining of a situation, not even that element of terror
needful to the true sublime. It is as though the spirit of young Greece
had lived in him again, purifying his taste to perfection and restraining
him from the delineation of things stern or horrible.

Raphael found in this world nothing but its joy, and communicated to his
ideal the beauty of untouched virginity. Brescia might be sacked with
sword and flame. The Baglioni might hew themselves to pieces in Perugia.
The plains of Ravenna might flow with blood. Urbino might change masters
and obey the viperous Duke Valentino. Raphael, meanwhile, working through
his short May-life of less than twenty [Handwritten: 40] years, received
from nature and from man a message that was harmony unspoiled by one
discordant note. His very person was a symbol of his genius. Lionardo was
beautiful but stately, with firm lips and penetrating glance; he conquered
by the magnetism of an incalculable personality. The loveliness of Raphael
was fair and flexible, fascinating not by power or mystery, but by the
winning charm of open-hearted sweetness. To this physical beauty, rather
delicate than strong, he united spiritual graces of the most amiable
nature. He was gentle, docile, modest, ready to oblige, free from
jealousy, binding all men to him by his cheerful courtesy.[255] In morals
he was pure. Indeed, judged by the lax standard of those times, he might
be called almost immaculate. His intellectual capacity, in all that
concerned the art of painting, was unbounded; but we cannot place him
among the many-sided heroes of the Renaissance. What he attempted in
sculpture, though elegant, is comparatively insignificant; and the same
may be said about his buildings. As a painter he was capable of
comprehending and expressing all things without excess or sense of labour.
Of no other artist do we feel that he was so instinctively, unerringly
right in what he thought and did.

Among his mental faculties the power of assimilation seems to have been
developed to an extraordinary degree. He learned the rudiments of his art
in the house of his father Santi at Urbino, where a Madonna is still
shown--the portrait of his mother, with a child, perhaps the infant
Raphael, upon her lap. Starting, soon after his father's death, as a pupil
of Perugino, he speedily acquired that master's manner so perfectly that
his earliest works are only to be distinguished from Perugino's by their
greater delicacy, spontaneity, and inventiveness. Though he absorbed all
that was excellent in the Peruginesque style, he avoided its affectations,
and seemed to take departure for a higher flight from the most exquisite
among his teacher's early paintings. Later on, while still a lad, he
escaped from Umbrian conventionality by learning all that was valuable in
the art of Masaccio and Fra Bartolommeo. To the latter master, himself
educated by the influence of Lionardo, Raphael owed more, perhaps, than to
any other of his teachers. The method of combining figures in masses,
needful to the general composition, while they preserve a subordinate
completeness of their own, had been applied with almost mathematical
precision by the Frate in his fresco at S. Maria Nuova.[256] It reappears
in all Raphael's work subsequent to his first visit to Florence[257]
(1504-1506). So great, indeed, is the resemblance of treatment between the
two painters that we know not well which owed the other most. Many groups
of women and children in the Stanze, for example--especially in the
"Miracle of Bolsena" and the "Heliodorus"--seem almost identical with Fra
Bartolommeo's "Madonna della Misericordia" at Lucca. Finally, when Raphael
settled in Rome, he laid himself open to the influence of Michael Angelo,
and drank in the classic spirit from the newly discovered antiques. Here
at last it seemed as though his native genius might suffer from contact
with the potent style of his great rival; and there are many students of
art who feel that Raphael's later manner was a declension from the divine
purity of his early pictures. There is, in fact, a something savouring of
overbloom in the Farnesina frescoes, as though the painter's faculty had
been strained beyond its natural force. Muscles are exaggerated to give
the appearance of strength, and open mouths are multiplied to indicate
astonishment and action. These faults may be found even in the Cartoons.
Yet who shall say that Raphael's power was on the decline, or that his
noble style was passing into mannerism, after studying both the picture of
the "Transfiguration" and the careful drawings from the nude prepared for
this last work?

So delicate was the assimilative tendency in Raphael, that what he learned
from all his teachers, from Perugino, Fra Bartolommeo, Masaccio, Da Vinci,
Michael Angelo, and the antique, was mingled with his own style without
sacrifice of individuality. Inferior masters imitated him, and passed
their pictures off upon posterity as Raphael's; but to mistake a genuine
piece of his painting for the performance of another is almost impossible.
Each successive step he made was but a liberation of his genius, a stride
toward the full expression of the beautiful he saw and served. He was
never an eclectic. The masterpieces of other artists taught him how to
comprehend his own ideal.

Raphael is not merely a man, but a school. Just as in his genius he
absorbed and comprehended many diverse styles, so are many worthy
craftsmen included in his single name. Fresco-painters, masters of the
easel, workmen in mosaic and marquetrie, sculptors, builders,
arras-weavers, engravers, decorators of ceilings and of floors, all
laboured under his eye, receiving designs from, his hand, and executing
what was called thereafter by his name.[258] It was thus partly by his
facility and energy, partly by the use he made of other men, that Raphael
was able to achieve so much. In the Vatican he covered the walls and
ceilings of the Stanze with historical and symbolical frescoes that
embrace the whole of human knowledge. The cramping limits of
ecclesiastical tradition are transcended. The synod of the antique sages
finds a place beside the synod of the Fathers and the company of Saints.
Parnassus and the allegory of the virtues front each other. The legend of
Marsyas and the mythus of the Fall are companion pictures. A new
catholicity, a new orthodoxy of the beautiful, appears. The Renaissance in
all its breadth and liberality of judgment takes ideal form. Nor is there
any sense of discord; for the genius of Raphael views both revelations,
Christian and pagan, from a point of view of art above them. To his pure
and unimpeded faculty the task of translating motives so diverse into
mutually concordant shapes was easy. On the domed ceilings of the Loggie
he painted sacred history in a series of exquisitely simple compositions,
known as Raphael's Bible. The walls and pilasters were adorned with
arabesques that anticipated the discovery of Pompeii, and surpassed the
best of Roman frescoes in variety and freedom. With his own hands he
coloured the incomparable "Triumph of Galatea" in Agostino Chigi's villa
on the Tiber, while his pupils traced the legend of Cupid and Psyche from
his drawings on the roof of the great banquet hall. Remaining within the
circuit of Rome, we may turn from the sibyls of S. Maria della Pace to the
genii of the planets in S. Maria del Popolo, from the "Violin-player" of
the Sciarra palace to the "Transfiguration" in the Vatican: wherever we
go, we find the masterpieces of this youth, so various in conception, so
equal in performance. And then, to think that the palaces and
picture-galleries of Europe are crowded with his easel-pictures, that his
original drawings display a boundless store of prodigal inventive
creativeness, that the Cartoons, of which England is proud, are alone
enough to found a mighty master's fame!

The vast mass of Raphael's works is by itself astounding. The accuracy of
their design and the perfection of their execution are literally
overwhelming to the imagination, that attempts to realise the conditions
of his short life. There is nothing, or but very little, of rhetoric in
all this world of pictures. The brain has guided the hand throughout, and
the result is sterling poetry. The knowledge, again, expressed in many of
his frescoes is so thorough that we wonder whether in his body lived again
the soul of some accomplished sage. How, for example, did he appropriate
the history of philosophy, set forth so luminously in the "School of
Athens," that each head, each gesture, is the epitome of some system?
Fabio Calvi may, indeed, have supplied him with serviceable notes on Greek
philosophy. But to Raphael alone belongs the triumph of having personified
the dry elements of learning in appropriate living forms. The same is true
of the "Parnassus," and, in a less degree, of the "Disputa." To the
physiognomist these frescoes will always be invaluable. The "Heliodorus,"
the "Miracle of Bolsena," and the Cartoons, display a like faculty applied
with more dramatic purpose. Passion and action take the place of
representative ideas; but the capacity for translating into perfect human
form what has first been intellectually apprehended by the artist, is the

If, after estimating the range of thought revealed in this portion of
Raphael's work, we next consider the labour of the mind involved in the
distribution of so many multitudes of beautiful and august human figures,
in the modelling of their drapery, the study of their expression, and
their grouping into balanced compositions, we may form some notion of the
magnitude of Raphael's performance. It is, indeed, probable that all
attempts at reflective analysis of this kind do injustice to the
spontaneity of the painter's method. Yet, even supposing that the
"Miraculous Draught of Fishes" or the "School of Athens" were seen by him
as in a vision, this presumption will increase our wonder at the
imagination which could hold so rich a store of details ready for
immediate use. That Raphael paid the most minute attention to the details
of his work, is shown by the studies made for these two subjects, and by
the drawings for the "Transfiguration." A young man bent on putting forth
his power the first time in a single picture that should prove his
mastery, could not have laboured with more diligence than Raphael at the
height of his fame and in full possession of his matured faculty.

When, furthermore, we take into account the variety of Raphael's work, we
arrive at a new point of wonder. The drawing of "Alexander's Marriage with
Roxana," the "Temptation of Adam by Eve," and the "Massacre of the
Innocents," engraved by Marc Antonio, are unsurpassed not only as
compositions, but also as studies of the nude in chosen attitudes,
powerfully felt and nobly executed. In these designs, which he never used
for painting, the same high style is successively applied to a pageant, an
idyll, and a drama.[259] The rapture of Greek art in its most youthful
moment has never been recaptured by a modern painter with more force and
fire of fancy than in the "Galatea." The tenderness of Christian feeling
has found no more exalted expression than in the multitudes of the
Madonnas, one more lovely than another, like roses on a tree in June, from
the maidenly "Madonna del Gran' Duca" to the celestial vision of the San
Sisto, that sublimest lyric of the art of Catholicity.[260] It is only by
hurrying through a list like this that we can appreciate the many-sided
perfection of Raphael's accomplishment. How, lastly, was it possible that
this young painter should have found the time to superintend the building
of S. Peter's, and to form a plan for excavating Rome in its twelve
ancient regions?[261]

When Lomazzo assigned emblems to the chief painters of the Renaissance, he
gave to Michael Angelo the dragon of contemplation, and to Mantegna the
serpent of sagacity. For Raphael, by a happier instinct, he reserved man,
the microcosm, the symbol of powerful grace, incarnate intellect. This
quaint fancy of the Milanese critic touches the truth. What distinguishes
the whole work of Raphael, is its humanity in the double sense of the
humane and human. Phoebus, as imagined by the Greeks, was not more
radiant, more victorious by the marvel of his smile, more intolerant of
things obscene or ugly. Like Apollo chasing the Eumenides from his
Delphian shrine, Raphael will not suffer his eyes to fall on what is
loathsome or horrific. Even sadness and sorrow, tragedy and death, take
loveliness from him. And here it must be mentioned that he shunned stern
and painful subjects. He painted no martyrdom, no "Last Judgment," and no
"Crucifixion," if we except the little early picture belonging to Lord
Dudley.[262] His men and women are either glorious with youth or dignified
in hale old age. Touched by his innocent and earnest genius, mankind is
once more gifted with the harmony of intellect and flesh and feeling, that
belonged to Hellas. Instead of asceticism, Hellenic temperance is the
virtue prized by Raphael. Over his niche in the Temple of Fame might be
written: "I have said ye are gods;"--for the children of men in his ideal
world are divinized. The godlike spirit of man is all in all. Happy indeed
was the art that by its limitations and selections could thus early
express the good news of the Renaissance; while in the spheres of politics
and ethics, science and religion, we are still far from having learned its

Correggio is the Faun or Ariel of Renaissance painting. Turning to him
from Raphael, we are naturally first struck by the affinities and
differences between them. Both drew from their study of the world the
elements of joy which it contains; but the gladness of Correggio was more
sensuous than that of Raphael; his intellectual faculties were less
developed; his rapture was more tumultuous and Bacchantic. Like Raphael,
Correggio died young; but his brief life was spent in comparative
obscurity and solitude. Far from the society of scholars and artists,
ignorant of courts, unpatronised by princes, he wrought for himself alone
the miracle of brightness and of movement that delights us in his
frescoes and his easel-pictures.

    Like a poet hidden
      In the light of thought,
    Singing hymns unbidden,

was this lyrist of luxurious ecstasy. In his work there was nothing
worldly; that divides him from the Venetians, whose sensuousness he
shared: nothing scientific; that distinguishes him from Da Vinci, the
magic of whose _chiaroscuro_ he comprehended: nothing contemplative; that
separates him from Michael Angelo, the audacity of whose design in dealing
with forced attitudes he rivalled, without apparently having enjoyed the
opportunity of studying his works. The cheerfulness of Raphael, the
wizardry of Lionardo, and the boldness of Michael Angelo, met in him to
form a new style, the originality of which is indisputable, and which
takes us captive--not by intellectual power, but by the impulse of
emotion. Of his artistic education we know nothing; and when we call him
the Ariel of painting, this means that we are compelled to think of him as
an elemental spirit, whose bidding the air and the light and the hues of
the morning obey.

Correggio created a world of beautiful human beings, the whole condition
of whose existence is an innocent and radiant wantonness.[263] Over the
domain of tragedy he had no sway; nor could he deal with subjects
demanding pregnancy of intellectual meaning. He paints the three Fates for
instance like young and joyous Bacchantes; if we placed rose-garlands and
thyrsi in their hands instead of the distaff and the thread of human
destinies, they might figure upon the panels of a banquet-chamber in
Pompeii. Nor, again, did he possess that severe and lofty art of
composition which seeks the highest beauty of design in architectural
harmony supreme above the melodies of gracefulness in detail. He was
essentially a lyrical as distinguished from an epical or dramatic poet.
The unity of his work is derived from the effect of light and atmosphere,
the inbreathed soul of tremulous and throbbing life, which bathes and
liquefies the whole. It was enough for him to produce a gleeful symphony
by the play of light and colour, by the animation of his figures, and by
the intoxicating beauty of his forms. His angels are genii disimprisoned
from the chalices of flowers, houris of an erotic Paradise, elemental
sprites of nature wantoning in Eden in her prime. They belong to the
generation of the fauns. Like fauns, they combine a certain wildness, a
dithyrambic ecstasy, a delight in rapid motion as they revel amid clouds
and flowers, with the permanent and all-pervading sweetness of the
painter's style. Correggio's sensibility to light and colour--that quality
which makes him unique among painters--was on a par with his feeling for
form. Brightness and darkness are woven together on his figures like an
impalpable veil, aërial and transparent, enhancing the palpitations of
voluptuous movement which he loved. His colouring does not glow or burn;
blithesome and delicate, it seems exactly such a beauty-bloom as sense
requires for its satiety. That cord of jocund colour which may fitly be
combined with the smiles of daylight, the clear blues found in laughing
eyes, the pinks that tinge the cheeks of early youth, and the warm yet
silvery tones of healthy flesh, mingle, as in a pearl-shell, on his
pictures. Within his own magic circle Correggio reigns supreme; no other
artist having blent the witcheries of colouring, _chiaroscuro_, and wanton
loveliness of form, into a harmony so perfect in its sensuous charm. To
feel his influence, and at the same moment to be the subject of strong
passion, or intense desire, or heroic resolve, or profound contemplation,
or pensive melancholy, is impossible. The Northern traveller, standing
beneath his master-works in Parma, may hear from each of those radiant and
laughing faces what the young Italian said to Goethe: _Perchè pensa?
pensando s' invecchia_.

Michael Angelo is the prophet or seer of the Renaissance. It would be
impossible to imagine a stronger contrast than that which distinguishes
his art from Correggio's, or lives more different in all their details,
than those which he and Raphael or Lionardo lived respectively. During the
eighty-nine years of his earthly pilgrimage he saw Italy enslaved and
Florence extinguished; it was his exceeding bitter fate to watch the rapid
decay of the arts and to witness the triumph of sacerdotal despotism over
liberal thought. To none of these things was he indifferent; and the
sorrow they wrought in his soul, found expression in his painting.[264]
Michael Angelo was not framed by nature to fascinate like Lionardo or to
charm like Raphael. His manners were severe and simple. When he spoke, his
words were brief and pungent. When he wrote, whether in poetry or prose,
he used the fewest phrases to express the most condensed meaning. When
asked why he had not married, he replied that the wife he had--his
art--cost him already too much trouble. He entertained few friends, and
shunned society. Brooding over the sermons of Savonarola, the text of the
Bible, the discourses of Plato, and the poems of Dante, he made his spirit
strong in solitude by the companionship with everlasting thoughts.
Therefore, when he was called to paint the Sistine Chapel, he uttered
through painting the weightiest prophecy the world has ever seen expressed
in plastic form. His theme is nothing less than the burden of the prophets
and the Sibyls who preached the coming of a light upon the world, and the
condemnation of the world which had rejected it, by an inexorable judge.
Michelet says, not without truth, that the spirit of Savonarola lives
again in these frescoes. The procession of the four-and-twenty elders,
arraigned before the people of Brescia to accuse Italy of sin--the voice
that cried to Florence, "Behold the sword of the Lord, and that swiftly!
Behold I, even I, do bring a deluge on the earth!" are both seen and heard
here very plainly. But there is more than Savonarola in this prophecy of
Michael Angelo's. It contains the stern spirit of Dante, aflame with
patriotism, passionate for justice. It embodies the philosophy of Plato.
The creative God, who divides light from darkness, who draws Adam from the
clay and calls forth new-born Eve in awful beauty, is the Demiurgus of
the Greek. Again, it carries the indignation of Isaiah, the wild
denunciations of Ezekiel, the monotonous refrain of Jeremiah--"Ah, Lord,
Lord!" The classic Sibyls intone their mystic hymns; the Delphic on her
tripod of inspiration, the Erythraean bending over her scrolls, the
withered witch of Cumae, the parched prophetess of Libya--all seem to cry,
"Repent, repent! for the kingdom of the spirit is at hand! Repent and
awake, for the judgment of the world approaches!" And above these voices
we hear a most tremendous wail: "The nations have come to the birth; but
there is not strength to bring forth." That is the utterance of the
Renaissance, as it had appeared in Italy. She who was first among the
nations was now last; bound and bleeding, she lay prostrate at the
temple-gate she had unlocked. To Michael Angelo was given for his
portion--not the alluring mysteries of the new age, not the joy of the
renascent world, not the petulant and pulsing rapture of youth: these had
been divided between Lionardo, Raphael, and Correggio--but the bitter
burden of the sense that the awakening to life is in itself a pain, that
the revelation of the liberated soul is itself judgment, that a light is
shining, and that the world will not comprehend it. Pregnant as are the
paintings of Michael Angelo with religious import, they are no longer
Catholic in the sense in which the frescoes of the Lorenzetti and Orcagna
and Giotto are Catholic. He went beyond the ecclesiastical standing ground
and reached one where philosophy includes the Christian faith. Thus the
true spirit of the Renaissance was embodied in his work of art.

Among the multitudes of figures covering the wall above the altar in the
Sistine Chapel there is one that might well stand for a symbol of the
Renaissance. It is a woman of gigantic stature in the act of toiling
upwards from the tomb. Grave clothes impede the motion of her body: they
shroud her eyes and gather round her chest. Part only of her face and
throat is visible, where may be read a look of blank bewilderment and
stupefaction, a struggle with death's slumber in obedience to some inner
impulse. Yet she is rising slowly, half awake, and scarcely conscious, to
await a doom still undetermined. Thus Michael Angelo interpreted the
meaning of his age.


[197] "La man che ubbedisce all' intelletto" is a phrase pregnant with
meaning, used by Michael Angelo in one of his sonnets. See Guasti, _Le
Rime di Michael Angelo_, p. 173. Michael Angelo's blunt criticism of
Perugino, that he was _goffo_, a fool in art, and his rude speech to
Francia's handsome son, that his father made better forms by night than
day, sufficiently indicate the different aims pursued by the painters of
the two periods distinguished above.

[198] Though Mantegna seems to have owed all his training to Padua, it is
impossible to regard him as what is called a Squarcionesque--one among
the artistic hacks formed and employed by the Paduan _impresario_ of
third-rate painting. No other eagle like to him was reared in that nest.
His greatness belonged to his own genius, assimilating from the meagre
means of study within his reach those elements which enabled him to
divine the spirit of the antique and to attempt its reproduction. In
order to facilitate the explanation of the problem offered by his early
command of style, it has been suggested with great show of reason that he
received a strong impression from the work executed in bas-relief by
Donatello for the church of S. Antonio at Padua. Thus Florentine
influences helped to form even the original genius of this greatest of
the Lombard masters.

[199] Vasari, vol. v. p. 163, may be consulted with regard to Mantegna's
preference for the ideal of statuary when compared with natural beauty,
as the model for a painter.

[200] See Crowe and Cavalcaselle's _History of Painting in North Italy_,
vol. i. p. 334, for an account of his antiquarian researches in company
with Felice Feliciano. His museum was so famous that in 1483 Lorenzo de'
Medici, passing through Mantua from Venice, thought it worthy of a visit.
In his old age Mantegna fell into pecuniary difficulties, and had to part
with his collection. The forced sale of its chief ornament, a bust of
Faustina, is said to have broken his heart. _Ib._ p. 415.

[201] Painted on canvas in tempera for the Marquis of Mantua, before
1488, looted by the Germans in 1630, sold to Charles I., resold by the
Commonwealth, bought back by Charles II., and now exposed, much spoiled
by time and change, but more by villainous re-painting, on the walls of
Hampton Court.

[202] An oil painting in the National Gallery.

[203] The so-called "Triumph of Scipio" in the National Gallery seems to
me in every respect feebler than the Hampton Court Cartoons.

[204] The "Madonna della Vittoria," now in the Louvre Gallery, was
painted to commemorate the achievements of Francesco Gonzaga in the
battle of Fornovo. That Francesco, General of the Venetian troops, should
have claimed that action, the eternal disgrace of Italian soldiery, for a
victory, is one of the strongest signs of the depth to which the sense of
military honour had sunk in Italy. But though the occasion of its
painting was so mean, the impression made by this picture is too powerful
to be described. It is in every detail grandiose: masculine energy being
combined with incomparable grace, religious feeling with athletic
dignity, and luxuriance of ornamentation with severe gravity of
composition. It is worth comparing this portrait of Francesco Gonzaga
with his bronze medal, just as Piero della Francesco's picture of
Sigismondo Malatesta should be compared with Pisanello's medallion.

[205] Vol. II., _Revival of Learning_, p. 212.

[206] Nothing is known about Mantegna's stay in Florence. He went to meet
the Cardinal Francesco Gonzaga at Bologna. This Cardinal, a great amateur
of music and connoisseur in relics of antiquity, came to Mantua in
August, 1472, where the "Orfeo" of Messer Angelo Poliziano was produced
for his amusement.

[207] That he could conceive a stern and tragic subject, with all the
passion it required, is, however, proved not only by the frescoes at
Orvieto, but also by the powerful oil-painting of the "Crucifixion" at
Borgo San Sepolcro.

[208] This story has been used for verse in a way to heighten its
romantic colouring. Such as the lines are, I subjoin them for the sake of
their attempt to emphasize and illustrate Renaissance feeling:--

    "Vasari tells that Luca Signorelli,
    The morning star of Michael Angelo,
    Had but one son, a youth of seventeen summers,
    Who died. That day the master at his easel
    Wielded the liberal brush wherewith he painted
    At Orvieto, on the Duomo's walls,
    Stern forms of Death and Heaven and Hell and Judgment.
    Then came they to him, cried: 'Thy son is dead,
    Slain in a duel: but the bloom of life
    Yet lingers round red lips and downy cheek.'
    Luca spoke not, but listened. Next they bore
    His dead son to the silent painting-room,
    And left on tip toe son and sire alone.
    Still Luca spoke and groaned not; but he raised
    The wonderful dead youth, and smoothed his hair,
    Washed his red wounds, and laid him on a bed,
    Naked and beautiful, where rosy curtains
    Shed a soft glimmer of uncertain splendour
    Life-like upon the marble limbs below.
    Then Luca seized his palette: hour by hour
    Silence was in the room; none durst approach:
    Morn wore to noon, and noon to eve, when shyly
    A little maid peeped in and saw the painter
    Painting his dead son with unerring hand-stroke,
    Firm and dry-eyed before the lordly canvas."

[209] See the article on Orvieto in my _Sketches in Italy and Greece_.

[210] The earlier frescoes of Fra Angelico, on the roof, depict Christ as
Judge. But there is nothing in common with these works and Signorelli's.

[211] This is the conjecture of Signor Luzi (_Il Duomo di Orvieto_, p.
168). He bases it upon the Dantesque subjects illustrated, and quotes
from the "Inferno":--

                   "Omero poeta sovrano;
    L' altro è Orazio satiro che viene,
    Ovidio è il terzo, e l' ultimo Lucano."

Nothing is more marked or more deeply interesting than the influence
exercised by Dante over Signorelli, an influence he shared with Giotto,
Orcagna, Botticelli, Michael Angelo, the greatest imaginative painters of
Central Italy.

[212] The background to the circular "Madonna" in the Uffizzi, the
"Flagellation of Christ" in the Academy at Florence and in the Brera at
Milan, and the "Adam" at Cortona, belong to this grade.

[213] We may add the pages in a predella representing the "Adoration of
the Magi" in the Uffizzi.

[214] Vasari mentions the portraits of Nicolo, Paolo, and Vitellozzo
Vitelli, Gian Paolo, and Orazio Baglioni, among others, in the frescoes
at Orvieto.

[215] Painted for Lorenzo de' Medici. It is now in the Berlin Museum
through the neglect of the National Gallery authorities to purchase it
for England.

[216] I must not omit to qualify Vasari's praise of Luca Signorelli, by
reference to a letter recently published from the _Archivio Buonarroti,
Lettere a Diversi_, p. 391. Michael Angelo there addresses the Captain of
Cortona, and complains that in the first year of Leo's pontificate Luca
came to him and by various representations obtained from him the sum of
eighty Giulios, which he never repaid, although he made profession to
have done so. Michael Angelo was ill at the time, and working with much
difficulty on a statue of a bound captive for the tomb of Julius. Luca
gave a specimen of his renowned courtesy by comforting the sculptor in
these rather sanctimonious phrases: "Doubt not that angels will come from
heaven, to support your arms and help you."

[217] Pietro, known as Perugino from the city of his adoption, was the
son of Cristoforo Vannucci, of Città della Pieve. He was born in 1446,
and died at Fontignano in 1522.

[218] The triptych in the National Gallery.

[219] They have been published by the Arundel Society.

[220] These frescoes were begun in 1499. It may be mentioned that in this
year, on the refusal of Perugino to decorate the Cappella di S. Brizio,
the Orvietans entrusted that work to Signorelli.

[221] Uffizzi and Sala del Cambio.

[222] "Fu Pietro persona di assai poca religione, e non se gli potè mai
far credere l'immortalità dell' anima: anzi, con parole, accomodate al
suo cervello di porfido, ostinatissimamente ricusò ogni buona vita. Aveva
ogni sua speranza ne' beni della fortuna, e per danari arebbe fatto ogni
male contratto." Vasari, vol. vi. p. 50. The local tradition alluded to
above relates to the difficulties raised by the Church against the
Christian burial of Perugino: but if he died of plague, as it is believed
(see C. and C., vol. iii. p. 244), these difficulties were probably
caused by panic rather than belief in his impiety. For Gasparo Celio's
note on Perugino's refusal to confess upon his death-bed, saying that he
preferred to see how an impenitent soul would fare in the other world,
the reader may consult Rio's _L'Art Chrétien_, vol. ii. p. 269. The
record of Perugino's arming himself in Dec. 1486, together with a
notorious assassin, Aulista di Angelo of Perugia, in order to waylay and
beat a private enemy of his near S. Pietro Maggiore at Florence is quoted
by Crowe and Cavalcaselle, vol. iii. p. 183.

[223] "Guadagnò molte ricchezze; e in Fiorenza murò e comprò case; ed in
Perugia ed a Castello della Pieve acquistò molti beni stahili." Vasari,
vol. vi. p. 50.

[224] "Goffo nell arte." See Vasari, vol. vi. p. 46. See too above, p.

[225] I select these for comment rather than the frescoes at Spello,
beautiful as these are, because they have more interest in relation to
the style of the Renaissance.

[226] The "Assumption" in S. Frediano at Lucca should also be mentioned
as one of Francia's masterpieces.

[227] His father was a muleteer of Suffignano, who settled at Florence,
in a house and garden near the gate of S. Piero Gattolino. He was born in
1475, and he died in 1517.

[228] In S. Domenico at Prato in 1500. He afterwards resided in S. Marco
at Florence.

[229] May 23, 1498.

[230] In addition to the pictures mentioned above, I may call attention
to the adoring figure of S. Catherine of Siena, in three large
paintings--now severally in the Pitti, at Lucca, and in the Louvre.

[231] In the Uffizzi. As a composition, it is the Frate's masterpiece.

[232] See Vol. I., _Age of the Despots_, p. 487, for this consequence of
the sack of Prato.

[233] _L'Art Chrétien_, vol. ii. p. 515.

[234] Two of our best portraits of Savonarola, the earlier inscribed
"Hieronymi Ferrariensis a Deo Missi Prophetae Effigies," the later treated
to represent S. Peter Martyr, are from the hand of Fra Bartolommeo. See
Crowe and Cavalcaselle, vol. iii. p. 433.

[235] See below, chapter vii.

[236] This sonnet I have translated into English with such closeness to
the original words as I found possible:--

    He who can do not what he wills, should try
      To will what he can do; for since 'tis vain
      To will what can't be compassed, to abstain
      From idle wishing is philosophy.
    Lo, all our happiness and grief imply
      Knowledge or not of will's ability:
      They therefore can, who will what ought to be.
      Nor wrest true reason from her seat awry.
    Nor what a man can, should he always will:
      Oft seemeth sweet what after is not so;
      And what I wished, when had, hath cost a tear.
    Then, reader of these lines, if thou wouldst still
      Be helpful to thyself, to others dear,
      Will to can alway what thou ought to do.

[237] See the letter addressed by Lionardo to Lodovico Sforza enumerating
his claims as a mechanician, military and civil engineer, architect, &c.
It need scarcely be mentioned that he served Cesare Borgia and the
Florentine Republic as an engineer, and that much of his time at Milan
was spent in hydraulic works upon the Adda. It should be added here that
Lionardo committed the results of his discoveries to writing; but he
published very little, and that by no means the most precious portion of
his thoughts. He founded at Milan an Academy of Arts and Sciences, if
this name may be given to a reunion of artists, scholars, and men of the
world, to whom it is probable that he communicated his researches in
anatomy. The _Treatise on Painting_, which bears his name, is a
compilation from notes and MSS. first printed in 1651.

[238] The folio volume of sketches in the Ambrosian Library at Milan
contains designs for all these works. The collection in the Royal Library
at Windsor is no less rich. Among Lionardo's scientific drawings in the
latter place may be mentioned a series of maps illustrating the river
system of Central Italy, with plans for improved drainage.

[239] Shelley says of the poet:--

    He will watch from dawn to gloom
    The lake-reflected sun illume
    The yellow bees in the ivy bloom;
    Nor heed nor see what things they be,
    But from these create he can
    Forms more real than living man,
    Nurslings of immortality.

[240] See De Stendhal, _Histoire de la Peinture en Italie_, p. 143, for
this story.

[241] In the _Treatise on Painting_, da Vinci argues strongly against
isolating man. He regarded the human being as in truth a microcosm to be
only understood in relation to the world around him, expressing, as a
painter, the same thought as Pico. (See Vol. II., _Revival of Learning,_
p. 35.) Therefore he urges the claims of landscape on the attention of

[242] I might refer in detail to four studies of bramble branches,
leaves, and flowers and fruit, in the royal collection at Windsor, most
wonderful for patient accuracy and delicate execution: also to drawings
of oak leaves, wild guelder-rose, broom, columbine, asphodel, bull-rush,
and wood-spurge in the same collection. These careful studies are as
valuable for the botanist as for the artist. To render the specific
character of each plant with greater precision would be impossible.

[243] See the series of anatomical studies of the horse in the Royal

[244] Engraved by Edelinck. The drawing has obvious Lionardesque
qualities; but how far it may be from the character of the original we
can guess by Rubens' transcript from Mantegna. (See above, Chapter VI,
Mantegna's Biography.) De Stendhal says wittily of this work, "C'est
Virgile traduit par Madame de Staël," op. cit. p. 162.

[245] In the Royal Collection at Windsor there are anatomical drawings
for the construction of an imaginary quadruped with gigantic claws. The
bony, muscular, and venous structure of its legs and feet is accurately

[246] See the drawings engraved and published by Gerli in his _Disegni di
Lionardo da Vinci_, Milan, 1784.

[247] Vasari is the chief source of these legends. Giraldi Lomazzo, the
Milanese historian of painting, and Bandello, the novelist, supply
further details. It appears from all accounts that Lionardo impressed his
contemporaries as a singular and most commanding personality. There is a
touch of reverence in even the strangest stories, which is wanting in the
legend of Piero di Cosimo.

[248] Even Michael Angelo, meeting him in Florence, flung in his teeth
that "he had made the model of a horse to cast in bronze, and could not
cast it, and through shame left it as it was unfinished." See _Arch. St.
It._, serie terza, xvi. 226.

[249] In the Royal Collection at Windsor there is a whole series of
studies for these two statues, together with drawings for the mould in
which Lionardo intended to cast them. The second of the two is sketched
with great variety of motive. The horse is rearing; the fallen enemy is
vainly striving to defend himself; the victor in one drawing is reining
in his steed, in another is waving a truncheon, in a third is brandishing
his sword, in a fourth is holding the sword in act to thrust. The designs
for the pedestals, sometimes treated as a tomb and sometimes as a
fountain, are equally varied.

[250] "Concevoir," said Balzac, "c'est jouir, c'est fumer des cigarettes
enchantées; mais sans l'exécution tout s'en va en rêve et en fumée."
Quoted by Sainte-Beuve, _Causeries du Lundi_, vol. ii. p. 353.

[251] See Vol. II., _Revival of Learning_, p. 128, 129.

[252] It was finished, according to Fra Paciolo, in 1498.

[253] Signorelli, with his usual originality, chose the moment when
Christ broke bread and gave it to His disciples. In that rare picture at
Cortona, we see not the betrayed chief but the founder of a new religion.

[254] The Cenacolo alone will not enable the student to understand
Lionardo. He must give his attention to the master's sketch books, those
studies in chalk, in tempera, on thin canvas and paper, prepared for the
stylus or the pen, which Vasari calls the final triumphs of designing,
and of which, in spite of the loss of many of his books, the surviving
specimens are very numerous. Some are easily accessible in Gerli,
Chamberlaine, and the autotype reproductions. It is possible that a
sympathetic student may get closer to the all-embracing and all-daring
genius of the magician through these drawings than if he had before him
an elaborate work in fresco or in oils. They express the many-sided,
mobile, curious, and subtle genius of the man in its entirety.

[255] "Raffaello, che era la gentilezza stessa ... restavano vinti dalla
cortesia e dall' arte sua, ma più dal genio della sua buona natura; la
quale era si piena di gentilezza e si colma di carità, che egli si vedeva
che fino agli animali l'onoravano, non che gli uomini."--Vasari, vol.
viii. pp. 6, 60.

[256] See above, Chapter VI, Fra Bartolommeo.

[257] The "Holy Family" at Munich, and the "Madonna del Baldacchino" in
the Pitti, might be mentioned as experiments on Raphael's part to perfect
the Frate's scheme of composition.

[258] See Vasari, vol. viii. p. 60, for a description of the concord that
reigned in this vast workshop. The genius and the gentle nature of
Raphael penetrated the whole group of artists, and seemed to give them a
single soul.

[259] The fresco of "Alexander" in the Palazzo Borghese is by an

[260] The "Madonna di San Sisto" was painted for a banner to be borne in
processions. It is a subtle observation of Rio that the banner, an
invention of the Umbrian school, corresponds in painting to the hymn in

[261] See Vol. II., _Revival of Learning_, p. 316, for Raphael's letter
on this subject to Leo X.

[262] "La Spasimo di Sicilia" is the single Passion picture of Raphael's
maturity. The predella of "Christ carrying the Cross" at Leigh Court, and
the "Christ showing His Wounds" in the Tosi Gallery at Brescia, are both
early works painted under Umbrian influence. The Borghese "Entombment,"
painted for Atalanta Baglioni, a pen-and-ink drawing of the "Pietà" in
the Louvre collection, Marc Antonio's engraving of the "Massacre of the
Innocents," and an early picture of the "Agony in the Garden," are all
the other painful subjects I can now remember.

[263] For a fuller working out of this analysis I must refer to my
_Sketches in Italy_, article "Parma." Much that follows is a quotation
from that essay.

[264] Much of the controversy about Michael Angelo, which is continually
being waged between his admirers and his detractors, might be set at rest
if it were acknowledged that there are two distinct ways of judging works
of art. We may regard them simply as appealing to our sense of beauty,
and affording harmonious intellectual pleasure. Or we may regard them as
expressing the thought and spirit of their age, and as utterances made by
men whose hearts burned within them. Critics trained in the study of good
Greek sculpture, or inclined by temperament to admire the earlier
products of Italian painting, are apt to pursue the former path
exclusively. They demand serenity and simplicity. Perturbation and
violence they denounce as blemishes. It does not occur to them that,
though the phenomenon is certainly rare, it does occasionally happen that
a man arises whose art is for him the language of his soul, and who lives
in sympathetic relation to the sternest interests of his age. If such an
artist be born when tranquil thought and serene emotions are impossible
for one who feels the meaning of his times with depth, he must either
paint and carve lies, or he must abandon the serenity that was both
natural and easy to the Greek and the earlier Italian. Michael Angelo was
one of these select artistic natures. He used his chisel and his pencil
to express, not merely beautiful artistic motives, but what he felt and
thought about the world in which he had to live: and this world was full
of the ruin of republics, the corruption and humiliation of society, the
subjection of Italy to strangers. In Michael Angelo the student of both
art and history finds an inestimably precious and rare point of contact
between the inner spirit of an age, and its external expression in
sculpture and painting.



Painting bloomed late in Venice--Conditions offered by Venice to
Art--Shelley and Pietro Aretino--Political circumstances of
Venice--Comparison with Florence--The Ducal Palace--Art regarded as an
adjunct to State Pageantry--Myth of Venezia--Heroic Deeds of
Venice--Tintoretto's Paradise and Guardi's Picture of a Ball--Early
Venetian Masters of Murano--Gian Bellini--Carpaccio's little Angels--The
Madonna of S. Zaccaria--Giorgione--Allegory, Idyll, Expression of
Emotion--The Monk at the Clavichord--Titian, Tintoret, and
Veronese--Tintoretto's attempt to dramatise Venetian Art--Veronese's
Mundane Splendour--Titian's Sophoclean Harmony--Their Schools--Further
Characteristics of Veronese--of Tintoretto--His Imaginative
Energy--Predominant Poetry--Titian's Perfection of Balance--Assumption of
Madonna--Spirit common to the Great Venetians.

It was a fact of the greatest importance for the development of the fine
arts in Italy that painting in Venice reached maturity later than in
Florence. Owing to this circumstance one chief aspect of the Renaissance,
its material magnificence and freedom, received consummate treatment at
the hands of Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese. To idealise the
sensualities of the external universe, to achieve for colour what the
Florentines had done for form, to invest the worldly grandeur of human
life at one of its most gorgeous epochs with the dignity of the highest
art, was what these great artists were called on to accomplish. Their task
could not have been so worthily performed in the fifteenth century as in
the sixteenth, if the development of the aesthetic sense had been more
premature among the Venetians.

Venice was precisely fitted for the part her painters had to play. Free,
isolated, wealthy, powerful; famous throughout Europe for the pomp of her
state equipage, and for the immorality of her private manners; ruled by a
prudent aristocracy, who spent vast wealth on public shows and on the
maintenance of a more than imperial civic majesty: Venice, with her
pavement of liquid chrysoprase, with her palaces of porphyry and marble,
her frescoed façades, her quays and squares aglow with the costumes of the
Levant, her lagoons afloat with the galleys of all nations, her churches
floored with mosaics, her silvery domes and ceilings glittering with
sculpture bathed in molten gold: Venice luxurious in the light and colour
of a vaporous atmosphere, where sea-mists rose into the mounded summer
clouds; arched over by the broad expanse of sky, bounded only by the
horizon of waves and plain and distant mountain ranges, and reflected in
all its many hues of sunrise and sunset upon the glassy surface of smooth
waters: Venice asleep like a miracle of opal or of pearl upon the bosom of
an undulating lake:--here and here only on the face of the whole globe was
the unique city wherein the pride of life might combine with the lustre of
the physical universe to create and stimulate in the artist a sense of all
that was most sumptuous in the pageant of the world of sense.

There is colour in flowers. Gardens of tulips are radiant, and mountain
valleys touch the soul with the beauty of their pure and gemlike hues.
Therefore the painters of Flanders and of Umbria, John van Eyck and
Gentile da Fabriano, penetrated some of the secrets of the world of
colour. But what are the purples and scarlets and blues of iris, anemone,
or columbine, dispersed among deep meadow grasses or trained in quiet
cloister garden-beds, when compared with that melodrama of flame and gold
and rose and orange and azure, which the skies and lagoons of Venice yield
almost daily to the eyes? The Venetians had no green fields and trees, no
garden borders, no blossoming orchards, to teach them the tender
suggestiveness, the quaint poetry of isolated or contrasted tints. Their
meadows were the fruitless furrows of the Adriatic, hued like a peacock's
neck; they called the pearl-shells of their Lido flowers, _fior di mare_.
Nothing distracted their attention from the glories of morning and of
evening presented to them by their sea and sky. It was in consequence of
this that the Venetians conceived colour heroically, not as a matter of
missal-margins or of subordinate decoration, but as a motive worthy in
itself of sublime treatment. In like manner, hedged in by no limitary
hills, contracted by no city walls, stifled by no narrow streets, but open
to the liberal airs of heaven and ocean, the Venetians understood space
and imagined pictures almost boundless in their immensity. Light, colour,
air, space: those are the elemental conditions of Venetian art; of those
the painters weaved their ideal world for beautiful and proud humanity.

Shelley's description of a Venetian sunset strikes the keynote to Venetian

    As those who pause on some delightful way,
    Though bent on pleasant pilgrimage, we stood
    Looking upon the evening and the flood,
    Which lay between the city and the shore,
    Paved with the image of the sky: the hoar
    And airy Alps, towards the north appeared,
    Through mist, a heaven-sustaining bulwark, reared
    Between the east and west; and half the sky
    Was roofed with clouds of rich emblazonry,
    Dark purple at the zenith, which still grew
    Down the steep west into a wondrous hue
    Brighter than burning gold, even to the rent
    Where the swift sun yet paused in his descent
    Among the many-folded hills--they were
    Those famous Euganean hills, which bear,
    As seen from Lido through the harbour piles,
    The likeness of a clump of peaked isles--
    And then, as if the earth and sea had been
    Dissolved into one lake of fire, were seen
    Those mountains towering, as from waves of flame,
    Around the vaporous sun, from which there came
    The inmost purple spirit of light, and made
    Their very peaks transparent. "Ere it fade,"
    Said my companion, "I will show you soon
    A better station." So, o'er the lagune
    We glided: and from that funereal bark
    I leaned, and saw the city; and could mark
    How from their many isles, in evening's gleam,
    Its temples and its palaces did seem
    Like fabrics of enchantment piled to heaven.

With this we may compare the following extract from a letter, addressed in
May 1544 to Titian, by one of the most unprincipled of literary bandits
who have ever disgraced humanity, but who nevertheless was solemnised to
the spirit of true poetry by the grandiose aspect of nature as it appeared
to him in Venice. That Pietro Aretino should have so deeply felt the charm
of natural beauty in an age when even the greatest artists and poets
sought inspiration in human life rather than the outer world, is a
significant fact. It seems to illustrate the necessity whereby Venice
became the cradle of the art of nature.[266] "Having, dear Sir, and my
best gossip, supped alone to the injury of my custom, or, to speak more
truly, supped in the company of all the boredoms of a cursed quartan
fever, which will not let me taste the flavour of any food, I rose from
table sated with the same disgust with which I had sat down to it. In this
mood I went and leaned my arms upon the sill outside my window, and
throwing my chest and nearly all my body on the marble, abandoned myself
to the contemplation of the spectacle presented by the innumerable boats,
filled with foreigners as well as people of the city, which gave delight
not merely to the gazers, but also to the Grand Canal itself, that
perpetual delight of all who plough its waters. From this animated scene,
all of a sudden, like one who from mere _ennui_ knows not how to occupy
his mind, I turned my eyes to heaven, which, from the moment when God made
it, was never adorned with such painted loveliness of lights and shadows.
The whole region of the air was what those who envy you, because they are
unable to be you, would fain express. To begin with, the buildings of
Venice, though of solid stone, seemed made of some ethereal substance.
Then the sky was full of variety--here clear and ardent, there dulled and
overclouded. What marvellous clouds there were! Masses of them in the
centre of the scene hung above the house-roofs, while the immediate part
was formed of a grey tint inclining to dark. I gazed astonished at the
varied colours they displayed. The nearer masses burned with flames of
sunset; the more remote blushed with a blaze of crimson less afire. Oh,
how splendidly did Nature's pencil treat and dispose that airy landscape,
keeping the sky apart from the palaces, just as Titian does! On one side
the heavens showed a greenish-blue, on another a bluish-green, invented
verily by the caprice of Nature, who is mistress of the greatest masters.
With her lights and her darks, there she was harmonising, toning, and
bringing out into relief, just as she wished. Seeing which, I who know
that your pencil is the spirit of her inmost soul, cried aloud thrice or
four tines, 'Oh, Titian! where are you now?'"

In order to understand the destiny of Venice in art, it is not enough to
concentrate attention on the peculiarities of her physical environment.
Potent as these were in the creation of her style, the political and
social conditions of the Republic require also to be taken into account.
Among Italian cities Venice was unique. She alone was tranquil in her
empire, unimpeded in her constitutional development, independent of Church
interference, undisturbed by the cross purposes and intrigues of the
Despots, inhabited by merchants who were princes, and by a free-born
people who had never seen war at their gates. The serenity of undisturbed
security, the luxury of wealth amassed abroad and liberally spent at home,
gave a physiognomy of ease and proud self-confidence to all her edifices.
The grim and anxious struggles of the Middle Ages left no mark on Venice.
How different was this town from Florence, every inch of whose domain
could tell of civic warfare, whose passionate aspirations after
independence ended in the despotism of the bourgeois Medici, whose
repeated revolutions had slavery for their climax, whose grey palaces bore
on their fronts the stamp of mediaeval vigilance, whose spirit was
incarnated in Dante the exile, whose enslavement forced from Michael
Angelo those groans of a chained Titan expressed in the marbles of S.
Lorenzo! It is not an insignificant, though a slight, detail, that the
predominant colour of Florence is brown, while the predominant colour of
Venice is that of mother-of-pearl, concealing within its general whiteness
every tint that can be placed upon the palette of a painter. The
conditions of Florence stimulated mental energy and turned the forces of
the soul inwards. Those of Venice inclined the individual to accept life
as he found it. Instead of exciting him to think, they disposed him to
enjoy, or to acquire by industry the means of manifold enjoyment. To
represent in art the intellectual strivings of the Renaissance was the
task of Florence and her sons; to create a monument of Renaissance
magnificence was the task of Venice. Without Venice the modern world could
not have produced that flower of sensuous and unreflective loveliness in
painting, which is worthy to stand beside the highest product of the Greek
genius in sculpture. For Athena from her Parthenon stretches the hand to
Venezia enthroned in the ducal palace. The broad brows and earnest eyes of
the Hellenic goddess are of one divine birth and lineage with the golden
hair and superb carriage of the sea-queen.

It is in the heart of Venice, in the House of the Republic, that the
Venetian painters, considered as the interpreters of worldly splendour,
fulfilled their function with the most complete success. Centuries
contributed to make the Ducal Palace what it is. The massive colonnades
and Gothic loggias of the external basement date from the thirteenth
century; their sculpture belongs to the age when Niccola Pisano's genius
was in the ascendant. The square fabric of the palace, so beautiful in the
irregularity of its pointed windows, so singular in its mosaic diaper of
pink and white, was designed at the same early period. The inner court and
the façade that overhangs the lateral canal, display the handiwork of
Sansovino. The halls of the palace--spacious chambers where the Senate
assembled, where ambassadors approached the Doge, where the Savi
deliberated, where the Council of Ten conducted their inquisition--are
walled and roofed with pictures of inestimable value, encased in framework
of carved oak; overlaid with burnished gold. Supreme art--the art of the
imagination perfected with delicate and skilful care in detail--is made in
these proud halls the minister of mundane pomp. In order that the gold
brocade of the ducal robes, that the scarlet and crimson of the Venetian
senator, might, be duly harmonised by the richness of their surroundings,
it was necessary that canvases measured by the square yard, and rendered
priceless by the authentic handiwork of Titian, Tintoret, and Veronese,
should glow upon the walls and ceilings. A more insolent display of public
wealth--a more lavish outpouring of human genius in the service of State
pageantry, cannot be imagined.

Sublime over all allegories and histories depicted in those multitudes of
paintings, sits Venezia herself enthroned and crowned, the personification
of haughtiness and power. Figured as a regal lady, with yellow hair
tightly knotted round a small head poised upon her upright throat and
ample shoulders, Venice takes her chair of sovereignty--as mistress of the
ocean to whom Neptune and the Tritons offer pearls, as empress of the
globe at whose footstool wait Justice with the sword and Peace with the
olive branch, as a queen of heaven exalted to the clouds. They have made
her a goddess, those great painters; they have produced a mythus, and
personified in native loveliness that bride of the sea, their love, their
lady. The beauty of Venetian women and the glory of Venetian empire find
their meeting point in her, and live as the spirit of Athens lived in
Pallas Promachos. On every side, above, around, wherever the eye falls in
those vast rooms, are seen the deeds of Venice--painted histories of her
triumphs over emperors and popes and infidels, or allegories of her
greatness--scenes wherein the Doges perform acts of faith, with S. Mark
for their protector, and with Venezia for their patroness. The saints in
Paradise, massed together by Tintoretto and by Palma, mingle with
mythologies of Greece and Rome, and episodes of pure idyllic painting.

Religion in these pictures was a matter of parade, an adjunct to the
costly public life of the Republic. We need not, therefore, conclude that
it was unreal. Such as it was, the religion of the Venetian masters is
indeed as genuine as that of Fra Angelico or Albert Dürer. But it was the
faith, not of humble men or of mystics, not of profound thinkers or
ecstatic visionaries, so much as of courtiers and statesmen, of senators
and merchants, for whom religion was a function among other functions, not
a thing apart, not a source of separate and supreme vitality. Even as
Christians, the Venetians lived a life separate from the rest of Italy.
Their Church claimed independence of the see of Rome, and the enthusiasm
of S. Francis was but faintly felt in the lagoons. Siena in her hour of
need dedicated herself to Madonna; Florence in the hour of her
regeneration gave herself to Christ; Venice remained under the ensign of
the leonine S. Mark. While the cities of Lombardy and Central Italy ran
wild with revivalism and religious panics, the Venetians maintained their
calm, and never suffered piety to exceed the limits of political prudence.
There is, therefore, no mystical exaltation in the faith depicted by her
artists. That Tintoretto could have painted the saints in glory--a
countless multitude of congregated forms, a sea whereof the waves are
souls--as a background for State ceremony, shows the positive and
realistic attitude of mind from which the most imaginative of Venetian
masters started, when he undertook the most exalted of religious themes.
Paradise is a fact, we may fancy Tintoretto reasoned; and it is easier to
fill a quarter of an acre of canvas with a picture of Paradise than with
any other subject, because the figures can be arranged in concentric tiers
round Christ and Madonna in glory.

There is a little sketch by Guardi representing a masked ball in the
Council Chamber where the "Paradise" of Tintoretto fills a wall. The men
are in periwigs and long waistcoats; the ladies wear hoops, patches, fans,
high heels, and powder. Bowing, promenading, intriguing, exchanging
compliments or repartees, they move from point to point; while from the
billowy surge of saints, Moses with the table of the law and the Magdalen
with her adoring eyes of penitence look down upon them. Tintoretto could
not but have foreseen that the world of living pettiness and passion would
perpetually jostle with his world of painted sublimities and sanctities in
that vast hall. Yet he did not on that account shrink from the task or
fail in its accomplishment. Paradise existed: therefore it could be
painted; and he was called upon to paint it here. If the fine gentlemen
and ladies below felt out of harmony with the celestial host, so much the
worse for them. In this practical spirit the Venetian masters approached
religious art, and such was the sphere appointed for it in the pageantry
of the Republic. When Paolo Veronese was examined by the Holy Office
respecting some supposed irreverence in a sacred picture, his answers
clearly proved that in planning it he had thought less of its spiritual
significance than of its aesthetic effect.[267]

In the Ducal Palace the Venetian art of the Renaissance culminates; and
here we might pause a moment to consider the difference between these
paintings and the mediaeval frescoes of the Palazzo Pubblico at Siena.[268]
The Sienese painters consecrated all their abilities to the expression of
thoughts, theories of political self-government in a free State, and
devotional ideas. The citizen who read the lesson of the Sala della Pace
was instructed in his duties to God and to the State. The Venetian
painters, as we have seen, exalted Venice and set forth her acts of power.
Their work is a glorification of the Republic; but no doctrine is
inculcated, and no system of thought is conveyed to the mind through the
eye. Daily pacing the saloons of the palace, Doge and noble were reminded
of the greatness of the State they represented. They were not invited to
reflect upon the duties of the governor and governed. Their imaginations
were dilated and their pride roused by the spectacle of Venice seated
like a goddess in her home. Of all the secular States of Italy the
Republic of S. Mark's alone produced this mythical ideal of the body
politic, self-sustained and independent of the citizens, compelling their
allegiance, and sustaining them through generations with the life of its
organic unity.[269] The artists had no reason to paint thoughts and
theories. It was enough to set forth Venice and to illustrate her acts.

Long before Venetian painting reached a climax in the decorative triumphs
of the Ducal Palace, the masters of the school had formed a style
expressive of the spirit of the Renaissance, considered as the spirit of
free enjoyment and living energy. To trace the history of Venetian
painting is to follow through its several stages the growth of that
mastery over colour and sensuous beauty which was perfected in the works
of Titian and his contemporaries.[270] Under the Vivarini of Murano the
Venetian school in its infancy began with a selection from the natural
world of all that struck them as most brilliant. No other painters of
their age in Italy employed such glowing colours, or showed a more marked
predilection for the imitation of fruits, rich stuffs, architectural
canopies, jewels, and landscape backgrounds. Their piety, unlike the
mysticism of the Sienese and the deep thought of the Florentine masters,
is somewhat superficial and conventional. The merit of their devotional
pictures consists of simplicity, vivacity, and joyousness. Our Lady and
her court of saints seem living and breathing upon earth. There is no
atmosphere of tranced solemnity surrounding them, like that which gives
peculiar meaning to similar works of the Van Eycks and Memling--artists,
by the way, who in many important respects are more nearly allied than any
others to the spirit of the first age of Venetian painting.[271]

What the Vivarini began, the three Bellini,[272] with Crivelli, Carpaccio,
Mansueti, Basaiti, Catena, Cima da Conegliano, Bissolo, Cordegliaghi,
continued. Bright costumes, distinct and sunny landscapes, broad
backgrounds of architecture, large skies, polished armour, gilded
cornices, young faces of fisherboys and country girls,[273] grave faces of
old men brown with sea-wind and sunlight, withered faces of women hearty
in a hale old age, the strong manhood of Venetian senators, the dignity of
patrician ladies, the gracefulness of children, the rosy whiteness and
amber-coloured tresses of the daughters of the Adriatic and lagoons--these
are the source of inspiration to the Venetians of the second period.
Mantegna, a few miles distant, at Padua, was working out his ideal of
severely classical design. Yet he scarcely touched the manner of the
Venetians with his influence, though Gian Bellini was his brother-in-law
and pupil, and though his genius, in grasp of matter and in management of
composition, soared above his neighbours. Lionardo da Vinci at Milan was
perfecting his problems of psychology in painting, offering to the world
solutions of the greatest difficulties in the delineation of the spirit by
expression. Yet not a trace of Lionardo's subtle play of light and shadow
upon thoughtful features can be discerned in the work of the Bellini. For
them the mysteries of the inner and the outer world had no attraction. The
externals of a full and vivid existence fascinated their imagination.
Their poetry and their piety were alike simple and objective. How to
depict the world as it is seen--a miracle of varying lights and melting
hues, a pageant substantial to the touch and concrete to the eyes, a
combination of forms defined by colours more than outlines--was their
task. They did not reach their end by anatomy, analysis, and
reconstruction. They undertook to paint just what they felt and saw.

Very instructive are the wall-pictures of this period, painted not in
fresco but on canvas by Carpaccio and Gentile Bellini, for the decoration
of the Scuole of S. Ursula and S. Croce.[274] Not only do these bring
before us the life of Venice in its manifold reality, but they illustrate
the tendency of the Venetian masters to express the actual world, rather
than to formulate an ideal of the fancy or to search the secrets of the
soul. This realism, if the name can be applied to pictures so poetical as
those of Carpaccio, is not, like the Florentine realism, hard and
scientific. A natural feeling for grace and a sense of romance inspire the
artist, and breathe from every figure that he paints. The type of beauty
produced is charming by its negligence and _naïveté_; it is not thought
out with pains or toilsomely elaborated.[275]

Among the loveliest motives used in the altar-pieces of this period might
be mentioned the boy-angels playing flutes and mandolines beneath Madonna
on the steps of her throne. There are usually three of them, seated, or
sometimes standing. They hold their instruments of music as though they
had just ceased from singing, and were ready to recommence at the pleasure
of their mistress. Meanwhile there is a silence in the celestial company,
through which the still voice of the praying heart is heard, a silence
corresponding to the hushed mood of the worshipper.[276] The children are
accustomed to the holy place; therefore their attitudes are both reverent
and natural. They are more earthly than Fra Angelico's melodists, and yet
they are not precisely of human lineage. It is not, perhaps, too much to
say that they strike the keynote of Venetian devotion, at once real and
devoid of pietistic rapture.

Gian Bellini brought the art of this second period to completion. In his
sacred pictures the reverential spirit of early Italian painting is
combined with a feeling for colour and a dexterity in its manipulation
peculiar to Venice. Bellini cannot be called a master of the full
Renaissance. He falls into the same class as Francia and Perugino, who
adhered to _quattrocento_ modes of thought and sentiment, while attaining
at isolated points to the freedom of the Renaissance. In him the
colourists of the next age found an absolute teacher; no one has surpassed
him in the difficult art of giving tone to pure tints in combination.
There is a picture of Bellini's in S. Zaccaria at Venice--Madonna
enthroned with Saints--where the skill of the colourist may be said to
culminate in unsurpassable perfection. The whole painting is bathed in a
soft but luminous haze of gold; yet each figure has its individuality of
treatment, the glowing fire of S. Peter contrasting with the pearly
coolness of the drapery and flesh-tints of the Magdalen. No brush-work is
perceptible. Surface and substance have been elaborated into one
harmonious richness that defies analysis. Between this picture, so strong
in its smoothness, and any masterpiece of Velasquez, so rugged in its
strength, what a wide abyss of inadequate half-achievement, of smooth
feebleness and feeble ruggedness, exists!

Giorgione, did we but possess enough of his authentic works to judge by,
would be found the first painter of the true Renaissance among the
Venetians, the inaugurate of the third and great period.[277] He died at
the age of thirty-six, the inheritor of unfulfilled renown. Time has
destroyed the last vestige of his frescoes. Criticism has reduced the
number of his genuine easel pictures to half a dozen. He exists as a great
name. The part he played in the development of Venetian art was similar to
that of Marlowe in the history of our drama. He first cut painting
altogether adrift from mediaeval moorings, and launched it on the waves of
the Renaissance liberty. While equal as a colourist to Bellini, though in
a different and more sensuous region, Giorgione, by the variety and
inventiveness of his conception, proved himself a painter of the calibre
of Titian. Sacred subjects he seems to have but rarely treated, unless
such purely idyllic pictures as the "Finding of Moses" in the Uffizzi, and
the "Meeting of Jacob and Rachel" at Dresden deserve the name. Allegories
of deep and problematic meaning, the key whereof has to be found in states
of the emotion rather than, in thoughts, delighted him. He may be said to
have invented the Venetian species of romance picture, where an episode in
a novella forms the motive of the painting.[278] Nor was he deficient in
tragic power, as the tremendous study for a Lucrece in the Uffizzi
collection sufficiently proves. In his drawings he models the form without
outline by massive distribution of light and dark. In style they are the
very opposite of Lionardo's clearly defined studies touched with the metal
point upon prepared paper. They suggest colouring, and are indeed the
designs of a great colourist, who saw things under the conditions of their
tints and tone.

Of the undisputed pictures by Giorgione, the grandest is the "Monk at the
Clavichord," in the Pitti Palace at Florence.[279] The young man has his
fingers on the keys; he is modulating in a mood of grave and sustained
emotion; his head is turned away towards an old man standing near him. On
the other side of the instrument is a boy. These two figures are but foils
and adjuncts to the musician in the middle; and the whole interest of his
face lies in its concentrated feeling--the very soul of music, as
expressed in Mr. Robert Browning's "Abt Vogler," passing through his eyes.
This power of painting the portrait of an emotion, of depicting by the
features a deep and powerful but tranquil moment of the inner life, must
have been possessed by Giorgione in an eminent degree. We find it again in
the so-called "Begrüssung" of the Dresden Gallery.[280] The picture is a
large landscape, Jacob and Rachel meet and salute each other with a kiss.
But the shepherd lying beneath the shadow of a chestnut tree beside a well
has a whole Arcadia of intense yearning in the eyes of sympathy he fixes
on the lovers. Something of this faculty, it may be said in passing,
descended to Bonifazio, whose romance pictures are among the most charming
products of Venetian art, and one of whose singing women in the feast of
Dives has the Giorgionesque fulness of inner feeling.

Fate has dealt less unkindly with Titian, Tintoret, and Veronese than with
Giorgione. The works of these artists, in whom the Venetian Renaissance
attained completion, have been preserved in large numbers and in excellent
condition. Chronologically speaking, Titian, the contemporary of
Giorgione, precedes Tintoretto, and Tintoretto is somewhat earlier than
Veronese.[281] But for the purpose of criticism the three painters may be
considered together as the representatives of three marked aspects in the
fully developed Venetian style.

Tintoretto, called by the Italians the thunderbolt of painting, because of
his vehement impulsiveness and rapidity of execution, soars above his
brethren by the faculty of pure imagination. It was he who brought to its
perfection the poetry of _chiaroscuro_, expressing moods of passion and
emotion by brusque lights, luminous half-shadows, and semi-opaque
darkness, no less unmistakably than Beethoven by symphonic modulations. He
too engrafted on the calm and natural Venetian manner something of the
Michael Angelesque sublimity, and sought to vary by dramatic movement the
romantic motives of his school. In his work, more than in that of his
contemporaries, Venetian art ceased to be decorative and idyllic.

Veronese elevated pageantry to the height of serious art. His domain is
noonday sunlight ablaze on sumptuous dresses and Palladian architecture.
Where Tintoretto is dramatic, he is scenic. Titian, in a wise harmony,
without either the Æschylean fury of Tintoretto, or the material
gorgeousness of Veronese, realised an ideal of pure beauty. Continuing the
traditions of Bellini and Giorgione, with a breadth of treatment, and a
vigour of well-balanced faculties peculiar to himself, Titian gave to
colour in landscape and the human form a sublime yet sensuous poetry no
other painter in the world has reached.

Tintoretto and Veronese are, both of them, excessive. The imagination of
Tintoretto is too passionate and daring; it scathes and blinds like
lightning. The sense of splendour in Veronese is overpoweringly pompous.
Titian's exquisite humanity, his large and sane nature, gives proper value
to the imaginative and the scenic elements of the Venetian style, without
exaggerating either. In his masterpieces thought, colour, sentiment, and
composition--the spiritual and technical elements of art--exist in perfect
balance; one harmonious tone is given to all the parts of his production,
nor can it be said that any quality asserts itself to the injury of the
rest. Titian, the Sophocles of painting, has infused into his pictures the
spirit of music, the Dorian mood of flutes and soft recorders, making
power incarnate in a form of grace.

Round these great men are grouped a host of secondary but distinguished
painters--Palma with his golden-haired large-bosomed sirens; idyllic
Bonifazio; dramatic Pordenone, whose frescoes are all motion and
excitement; Paris Bordone, who mingled on his canvas cream and mulberry
juice and sunbeams; the Robusti, the Caliari, the Bassani, and others
whom it would be tedious to mention. One breath, one afflatus, inspired
them all; and it is due to this coherence in their style and inspiration
that the school of Venice, taken as a whole, can show more masterpieces by
artists of the second class than any other in Italy. Superior or inferior
as they may relatively be among themselves, each bears the indubitable
stamp of the Venetian Renaissance, and produces work of a quality that
raises him to high rank among the painters of the world. In the same way
the spirit of the Renaissance, passing over the dramatists of our
Elizabethan age, enabled intellects of average force to take rank in the
company of the noblest. Ford, Massinger, Heywood, Decker, Webster,
Fletcher, Tourneur, Marston, are seated round the throne at the feet of
Shakspere, Marlowe, and Jonson.

In order to penetrate the characteristics of Venetian art more thoroughly,
it will be needful to enter into detailed criticism of the three chief
masters who command the school. To begin with Veronese. His canvases are
nearly always large--filled with figures of the size of life, massed
together in groups or extended in long lines beneath white marble
colonnades, which enclose spaces of clear sky and silvery clouds. Armour,
shot silks and satins, brocaded canopies, banners, plate, fruit, sceptres,
crowns, all things, in fact, that burn and glitter in the sun, form the
habitual furniture of his pictures. Rearing horses, dogs, dwarfs, cats,
when occasion serves, are used to add reality, vivacity, grotesqueness to
his scenes. His men and women are large, well proportioned,
vigorous--eminent for pose and gesture rather than for grace or
loveliness--distinguished by adult more than adolescent qualities.

Veronese has no choice type of beauty for either sex. We find in him, on
the contrary, a somewhat coarse display of animal force in men, and of
superb voluptuousness in women. He prefers to paint women draped in
gorgeous raiment, as if he had not felt the beauty of the nude. Their
faces are too frequently unrefined and empty of expression. His noblest
creatures are men of about twenty-five, manly, brawny, crisp-haired, full
of nerve and blood. In all this Veronese resembles Rubens. But he does
not, like Rubens, strike us as gross, sensual, fleshly;[282] he remains
proud, powerful, and frigidly materialistic. He raises neither repulsion
nor desire, but displays with the calm strength of art the empire of the
mundane spirit. All the equipage of wealth and worldliness, the lust of
the eye, and the pride of life--such a vision as the fiend offered to
Christ on the mountain of temptation; this is Veronese's realm. Again, he
has no flashes of poetic imagination like Tintoretto; but his grip on the
realities of the world, his faculty for idealising prosaic magnificence,
is even greater.

Veronese was precisely the painter suited to a nation of merchants, in
whom the associations of the counting-house and the exchange mingled with
the responsibilities of the Senate and the passions of princes. He never
portrayed vehement emotions. There are no brusque movements, no extended
arms, like those of Tintoretto's Magdalen in the "Pietà" at Milan, in his
pictures. His Christs and Maries and martyrs of all sorts are composed,
serious, courtly, well-fed personages, who, like people of the world
accidentally overtaken by some tragic misfortune, do not stoop to
distortions or express more than a grave surprise, a decorous sense of
pain.[283] His angelic beings are equally earthly.

The Venetian Rothschilds no doubt preferred the ceremonial to the
imaginative treatment of sacred themes; and to do him justice, Veronese
did not make what would in his case have been the mistake of choosing the
tragedies of the Bible for representation. It is the story of Esther, with
its royal audiences, coronations, and processions; the marriage feast at
Cana; the banquet in the house of Levi, that he selects by preference.
Even these themes he removes into a region far from Biblical associations.
His _mise en scène_ is invariably borrowed from luxurious Italian
palaces--large open courts and _loggie_, crowded with guests and
lacqueys--tables profusely laden with gold and silver plate. The same love
of display led him to delight in allegory--not allegory of the deep and
mystic kind, but of the pompous and processional, in which Venice appears
enthroned among the deities, or Jupiter fulminates against the vices, or
the genii of the arts are personified as handsome women and blooming boys.
In dealing with mythology, again, it is not its poetry that he touches; he
uses the tale of Europa, for example, as the motive for rich toilettes and
delightful landscape, choosing the moment that has least in it of pathos.
These being the prominent features of his style, it remains to be said
that what is really great in Veronese is the sobriety of his imagination
and the solidity of his workmanship. Amid so much that is distracting, he
never loses command over his subject; nor does he degenerate into fulsome

Tintoretto is not at home in this somewhat vulgar region of ceremonial
grandeur. He requires both thought and fancy as the stimulus to his
creative effort. He cannot be satisfied with reproducing, even in the
noblest combinations, merely what he sees around him of resplendent and
magnificent. There must be scope for poetry in the conception and for
audacity in the projection of his subject, something that shall rouse the
prophetic faculty and evoke the seer in the artist, or Tintoretto does not
rise to his own altitude. Accordingly we find that, in contrast with
Veronese, he selects by preference the most tragic and dramatic subjects
to be found in sacred history. The Crucifixion, with its agonising deity
and prostrate groups of women, sunk below the grief of tears;--the
Temptation in the wilderness, with its passionate contrast of the
grey-robed Man of Sorrows and the ruby-winged, voluptuous fiend;--the
Temptation of Adam in Eden, a glowing allegory of the fascination of the
spirit by the flesh;--Paradise, a tempest of souls, whirled like Lucretian
atoms or gold dust in sunbeams by the celestial forces that perform the
movement of the spheres;--the Destruction of the world, where all the
fountains and rivers and lakes and seas of earth have formed one cataract,
that thunders with cities and nations on its rapids down a bottomless
gulf; while all the winds and hurricanes of the air have grown into one
blast, that carries men like dead leaves up to judgment;--the Plague of
the fiery serpents, with multitudes encoiled and writhing on a burning
waste of sand;--the Massacre of the Innocents, with its spilth of blood on
slippery pavements of porphyry and serpentine;--the Delivery of the tables
of the law to Moses amid clouds on Sinai, a white ascetic,
lightning-smitten man emerging in the glory of apparent godhead;--the
anguish of the Magdalen above her martyred God;--the solemn silence of
Christ before the throne of Pilate;--the rushing of the wings of Seraphim,
and the clangour of the trumpet that awakes the dead;--these are the
soul-stirring themes that Tintoretto handles with the ease of

Meditating upon Tintoretto's choice of such subjects, we feel that the
profoundest characteristic of his genius is the determination toward
motives pre-eminently poetic rather than proper to the figurative arts.
The poet imagines a situation in which the intellectual or emotional life
is paramount, and the body is subordinate. The painter selects situations
in which physical form is of the first importance, and a feeling or a
thought is suggested. But Tintoretto grapples immediately with poetical
ideas; and he often fails to realise them fully through the inadequacy of
painting as a medium for such matter. Moses, in the drama of the "Golden
Calf," for instance, is a poem, not a true picture.[285] The pale ecstatic
stretching out emaciated arms, presents no beauty of attitude or outline.
Energy of thought is conspicuous in the figure; and reflection is needed
to bring out the purpose of the painter.[286]

It is not, however, only in the region of the vast, tempestuous, and
tragic that Tintoretto finds himself at home. He is equal to every task
that can be imposed upon the imagination. Provided only that the spiritual
fount be stirred, the jet of living water gushes forth, pure,
inexhaustible, and limpid. In his "Marriage of Bacchus and Ariadne," that
most perfect lyric of the sensuous fancy from which sensuality is
absent;[287] in his "Temptation of Adam," that symphony of grey and brown
and ivory more lustrous than the hues of sunset; in his "Miracle of S.
Agnes," that lamb-like maiden with her snow-white lamb among the soldiers
and the priests of Rome, Tintoretto has proved beyond all question that
the fiery genius of Titanic artists can pierce and irradiate the placid
and the tender secrets of the soul with more consummate mastery than falls
to the lot of those who make tranquillity their special province.[288]

Paolo Veronese never penetrated to this inner shrine of beauty, this
Holiest of Holies where the spiritual graces dwell. He could not paint
waxen limbs, with silver lights and golden and transparent mysteries of
shadow, like those of Bacchus, Eve, and Ariadne. Titian himself was
powerless to imagine movement like that of Aphrodite floating in the air,
or of Madonna adjuring Christ in the "Paradiso," or of Christ Himself
judging by the silent simplicity of his divine attitude the worldly judge
at whose tribunal He stands, or of the tempter raising his jewelled arms
aloft to dazzle with meretricious brilliancy the impassive God above him,
or of Eve leaning in irresistible seductiveness against the fatal tree, or
of S. Mark down-rushing through the sky to save the slave that cried to
him, or of the Mary who has fallen asleep with folded hands from utter
lassitude of agony at the foot of the cross.

It is in these attitudes, movements, gestures, that Tintoretto makes the
human form an index and symbol of the profoundest, most tragic, most
delicious thought and feeling of the inmost soul. In daylight radiancy and
equable colouring he is surpassed perhaps by Veronese. In mastery of every
portion of his art, in solidity of execution, and in unwavering hold upon
his subject, he falls below the level of Titian. Many of his pictures are
unworthy of his genius--hurriedly designed, rapidly dashed upon the
canvas, studied by candlelight from artificial models, with abnormal
effects of light and dark, hastily daubed with pigments that have not
stood the test of time. He was a gigantic _improvitsatore_: that is the
worst thing we can say of him. But in the swift intuitions of the
imagination, in the purities and sublimities of the prophet-poet's soul,
neither Veronese nor yet even Titian can approach him.

The greatest difficulty meets the critic who attempts to speak of Titian.
To seize the salient characteristics of an artist whose glory it is to
offer nothing over-prominent, and who keeps the middle path of perfection,
is impossible. As complete health may be termed the absence of obtrusive
sensation, as virtue has been called the just proportion between two
opposite extravagances, so is Titian's art a golden mean of joy unbroken
by brusque movements of the passions--a well-tempered harmony in which no
thrilling note suggests the possibility of discord. In his work the world
and men cease to be merely what they are; he makes them what they ought to
be: and this he does by separating what is beautiful in sensuous life from
its alloy of painful meditation and of burdensome endeavour. The disease
of thought is unknown in his kingdom; no divisions exist between the
spirit and the flesh; the will is thwarted by no obstacles. When we think
of Titian, we are irresistibly led to think of music. His "Assumption of
Madonna" (the greatest single oil-painting in the world, if we except
Raphael's "Madonna di San Sisto") can best be described as a symphony--a
symphony of colour, where every hue is brought into harmonious
combination--a symphony of movement, where every line contributes to
melodious rhythm--a symphony of light without a cloud--a symphony of joy
in which the heavens and earth sing Hallelujah. Tintoretto, in the Scuola
di San Rocco, painted an "Assumption of the Virgin" with characteristic
energy and impulsiveness. A group of agitated men around an open tomb, a
rush of air and clash of seraph wings above, a blaze of glory, a woman
borne with sideways-swaying figure from darkness into light;--that is his
picture, all _brio_, excitement, speed. Quickly conceived, hastily
executed, this painting (so far as clumsy restoration suffers us to judge)
bears the impress of its author's impetuous genius. But Titian worked by a
different method. On the earth, among the Apostles, there is action enough
and passion; ardent faces straining upward, impatient men raising impotent
arms and vainly divesting themselves of their mantles, as though they too
might follow her they love. In heaven is radiance, half eclipsing the
archangel who holds the crown, and revealing the father of spirits in an
aureole of golden fire. Between earth and heaven, amid choirs of angelic
children, rises the mighty mother of the faith of Christ, who was Mary and
is now a goddess, ecstatic yet tranquil, not yet accustomed to the skies,
but far above the grossness and the incapacities of earth. Her womanhood
is so complete that those for whom the meaning of her Catholic legend is
lost, may hail in her humanity personified.

The grand manner can reach no further than in this picture--serene,
composed, meditated, enduring, yet full of dramatic force and of profound
feeling. Whatever Titian chose to touch, whether it was classical
mythology or portrait, history or sacred subject, he treated in this large
and healthful style. It is easy to tire of Veronese; it is possible to be
fatigued by Tintoretto. Titian, like nature, waits not for moods or
humours in the spectator. He gives to the mind joy of which it can never
weary, pleasures that cannot satiate, a satisfaction not to be repented
of, a sweetness that will not pall. The least instructed and the simple
feel his influence as strongly as the wise or learned.

In the course of this attempt to describe the specific qualities of
Tintoretto, Veronese, and Titian, I have been more at pains to distinguish
differences than to point out similarities. What they had in common was
the Renaissance spirit as this formed itself in Venice. Nowhere in Italy
was art more wholly emancipated from obedience to ecclesiastical
traditions, without losing the character of genial and natural piety.
Nowhere was the Christian history treated with a more vivid realism,
harmonised more simply with pagan mythology, or more completely purged of
mysticism. The Umbrian devotion felt by Raphael in his boyhood, the
prophecy of Savonarola, and the Platonism of Ficino absorbed by Michael
Angelo at Florence, the scientific preoccupations of Lionardo and the
antiquarian interests of Mantegna, were all alike unknown at Venice. Among
the Venetian painters there was no conflict between art and religion, or
art and curiosity--no reaction against previous pietism, no perplexity of
conscience, no confusion of aims. Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese were
children of the people, men of the world, men of pleasure; wealthy,
urbane, independent, pious:--they were all these by turns; but they were
never mystics, scholars, or philosophers. In their aesthetic ideal religion
found a place, nor was sensuality rejected; but the religion was sane and
manly, the sensuality was vigorous and virile. Not the intellectual
greatness of the Renaissance, but its happiness and freedom, was what they


[265] From the beginning of _Julian and Maddalo_, which relates a ride
taken by Shelley with Lord Byron, on the Lido, and their visit to the
madhouse on its neighbouring island. The description, richly coloured and
somewhat confused in detail, seems to me peculiarly true to Venetian
scenery. With the exception of Tunis, I know of no such theatre for
sunset-shows as Venice. Tunis has the same elements of broad lagoons and
distant hills, but not the same vaporous atmosphere.

[266] _Lettere di Messer Pietro Aretino_, Parigi, MDCIX, lib. iii. p. 48.
I have made a paraphrase rather than a translation of this rare and
curious description.

[267] See Yriarte, _Un Patricien de Venise_, p. 439.

[268] See above, Chapter IV, Political Doctrine expressed in Fresco.

[269] See Vol. I., _Age of the Despots_, p. 183.

[270] I must refer my readers to Crowe and Cavalcaselle for an estimate
of the influence exercised at Venice by Gentile de Fabriano, John
Alamannus, and the school of Squarcione. Antonello da Messina brought his
method of oil-painting into the city in 1470, and Gian Bellini learned
something at Padua from Andrea Mantegna. The true point about Venice,
however, is that the Venetian character absorbed, assimilated, and
converted to its own originality whatever touched it.

[271] The conditions of art in Flanders--wealthy, bourgeois, proud,
free--were not dissimilar to those of art in Venice. The misty flats of
Belgium have some of the atmospheric qualities of Venice. As Van Eyck is
to the Vivarini, so is Rubens to Paolo Veronese. This expresses the
amount of likeness and of difference.

[272] Jacopo and his sons Gentile and Giovanni.

[273] Notice particularly the Contadina type of S. Catherine in a picture
ascribed to Cordegliaghi in the Venetian Academy.

[274] These Scuole were the halls of meeting for companies called by the
names of patron saints.

[275] Notice in particular, from the series of pictures illustrating the
legend of S. Ursula, the very beautiful faces and figures of the saint
herself, and her young bridegroom, the Prince of Britain. Attendant
squires and pages in these paintings have all the charm of similar
subordinate personages in Pinturicchio, with none of his affectation.

[276] The most beautiful of these _angiolini_, with long flakes of flaxen
hair falling from their foreheads, are in a Sacra Conversazione of
Carpaccio's in the Academy. Gian Bellini's, in many similar pictures, are
of the same delicacy.

[277] What follows above about Giorgione is advanced with diffidence,
since the name of no other great painter has been so freely used to cover
the works of his inferiors.

[278] Lord Lansdowne's Giorgionesque picture of a young man crowned with
vine, playing and singing to two girls in a garden, for example. The
celebrated Concert of the Louvre Gallery, so charming for its landscape
and so voluptuous in its dreamy sense of Arcadian luxury, is given by
Crowe and Cavalcaselle to an imitator of Sebastian del Piombo. See
_History of Painting in North Italy_, vol. ii. p. 147.

[279] Under the fire of Crowe and Cavalcaselle's destructive criticism,
it would require more real courage than I possess to speak of the
"Entombment" in the Monte di Pietà at Treviso as genuine. Coarse and
unselect as are the types of the boy angels, as well as of the young
athletic giant, who plays the part in it of the dead Christ, this is a
truly grandiose and striking picture. Nothing proves the average
greatness of the Venetian masters more than the possibility of
attributing such compositions to obscure and subordinate craftsmen of the

[280] Crowe and Cavalcaselle assign this picture with some confidence and
with fair show of reason, to Cariani, on whom again they father the
frescoes at Colleoni's Castle of Malpaga. I have ventured to notice it
above in connection with Giorgione, since it exhibits some of the most
striking Giorgionesque qualities, and shows the ascendency of his
imagination over the Venetian School.

[281] Giorgione, b. 1478; d. 1511. Titian, b. 1477, d. 1576. Tintoretto,
b. 1512; d. 1594. Veronese, b. 1530; d. 1588.

[282] I cannot, for example, imagine Veronese painting anything like
Rubens' two pictures of the "Last Judgment" at Munich.

[283] For his sacred types see the "Marriage at Cana" in the Louvre, the
little "Crucifixion" and the "Baptism" of the Pitti, and the "Martyrdom
of S. Agata" in the Uffizzi.

[284] These examples are mostly chosen from the Scuola di S. Rocco and
the church of S. Maria dell' Orto at Venice; also from "Pietàs," in the
Brera and the Pitti, the "Paradise" of the Ducal Palace, and a sketch for
"Paradise" in the Louvre.

[285] S. Maria dell' Orto.

[286] What is here said about Tintoretto is also true of Michael Angelo.
His sculpture in S. Lorenzo, compared with Greek sculpture, the norm and
canon of the perfect in that art, may be called an invasion of the realm
of poetry or music.

[287] There are probably not few of my readers who, after seeing this
painting in the Ducal Palace, will agree with me that it is, if not the
greatest, at any rate the most beautiful, oil picture in existence. In no
other picture has a poem of feeling and of fancy, a romance of varied
lights and shades, a symphony of delicately blended hues, a play of
attitude and movement transitory but in no sense forced or violent, been
more successfully expressed by means more simple or with effect more
satisfying. Something of the mythopoeic faculty must have survived in
Tintoretto, and enabled him to inspire the Greek tale with this intense
vitality of beauty.

[288] The first of these pictures is in the Ducal Palace, the other two
in the Academy at Venice.



Contrast of Michael Angelo and Cellini--Parentage and Boyhood of Michael
Angelo--Work with Ghirlandajo--Gardens of S. Marco--The Medicean
Circle--Early Essays in Sculpture--Visit to Bologna--First Visit to
Rome--The "Pietà" of S. Peter's--Michael Angelo as a Patriot and a Friend
of the Medici--Cartoon for the Battle of Pisa--Michael Angelo and Julius
II.--The Tragedy of the Tomb--Design for the Pope's Mausoleum--Visit to
Carrara--Flight from Rome--Michael Angelo at Bologna--Bronze Statue of
Julius--Return to Rome--Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel--Greek and Modern
Art--Raphael--Michael Angelo and Leo X.--S. Lorenzo--The new
Sacristy--Circumstances under which it was designed and partly
finished--Meaning of the Allegories--Incomplete state of Michael Angelo's
Marbles--Paul III.--The "Last Judgment"--Critiques of Contemporaries--The
Dome of S. Peter's--Vittoria Colonna--Tommaso Cavalieri--Personal Habits
of Michael Angelo--His Emotional Nature--Last Illness.

The life of Italian artists at the time of the Renaissance may be
illustrated by two biographies. Michael Angelo Buonarroti and Benvenuto
Cellini were almost opposite in all they thought and felt, experienced and
aimed at. The one impressed his own strong personality on art; the other
reflected the light and shadow of the age in the record of his manifold
existence. Cellini hovered, like some strong-winged creature, on the
surface of human activity, yielding himself to every impulse, seeking
every pleasure, and of beauty feeling only the rude animal compulsion.
Deep philosophic thoughts, ideas of death and judgment, the stern
struggles of the soul, encompassed Michael Angelo; the service of beauty
was with him religion. Cellini was the creature of the moment--the glass
and mirror of corrupt, enslaved, yet still resplendent Italy. In Michael
Angelo the genius of the Renaissance culminated; but his character was
rather that of an austere Republican, free and solitary amid the
multitudes of slaves and courtiers. Michael Angelo made art the vehicle of
lofty and soul-shaking thought. Cellini brought the fervour of an
inexhaustibly active nature to the service of sensuality, and taught his
art to be the handmaid of a soulless paganism. In these two men,
therefore, we study two aspects of their age. How far both were
exceptional, need not here be questioned; since their singularity consists
not so much in being different from other Italians of the sixteenth
century as in concentrating qualities elsewhere scattered and imperfect.

Michael Angelo was born in 1475 at Caprese, among the mountains of the
Casentino, where his father Lodovico held the office of Podestà. His
ancestry was honourable: the Buonarroti even claimed descent, but
apparently without due reason, from the princely house of Canossa.[289]
His mother gave him to be suckled by a stone-cutter's wife at Settignano,
so that in after days he used to say that he had drawn in the love of
chisels and mallets with his nurse's milk. As he grew, the boy developed
an invincible determination towards the arts. Lodovico from motives of
pride and prudence opposed his wishes, but without success. Michael Angelo
made friends with the lad Granacci, who was apprenticed to Domenico
Ghirlandajo, and at last induced his father to sign articles for him to
the same painter. In Ghirlandajo's workshop he learned the rudiments of
art, helping in the execution of the frescoes at S. Maria Novella, until
such time as the pupil proved his superiority as a draughtsman to his
teacher. The rupture between Michael Angelo and Ghirlandajo might be
compared with that between Beethoven and Haydn. In both cases a proud,
uncompromising, somewhat scornful student sought aid from a master great
in his own line but inferior in fire and originality of genius.[290] In
both cases the moment came when pupil and teacher perceived that the eagle
could no longer be confined within the hawk's nest, and that henceforth it
must sweep the skies alone. After leaving Ghirlandajo's _bottega_ at the
age of sixteen, Michael Angelo did in truth thenceforward through his life
pursue his art alone. Granacci procured him an introduction to the Medici,
and the two friends together frequented those gardens of S. Marco where
Lorenzo had placed his collection of antiquities. There the youth
discovered his vocation. Having begged a piece of marble and a chisel, he
struck out the Faun's mask that still is seen in the Bargello. It is worth
noticing that Michael Angelo seems to have done no merely prentice-work.
Not a fragment of his labour from the earliest to the latest was
insignificant, and only such thoughts as he committed to the perishable
materials of bronze or paper have been lost. There was nothing tentative
in his genius. Into art, as into a rich land, he came and conquered. In
like manner, the first sonnet composed by Dante is scarcely less precious
than the last lines of the "Paradiso." This is true of all the highest
artistic natures, who need no preparations and have no period of groping.

Lorenzo de' Medici discerned in Michael Angelo a youth of eminent genius,
and took the lad into his own household. The astonished father found
himself suddenly provided with a comfortable post and courted for the sake
of the young sculptor. In Lorenzo's palace the real education of Michael
Angelo began. He sat at the same table with Ficino, Pico, and Poliziano,
listening to dialogues on Plato and drinking in the golden poetry of
Greece. Greek literature and philosophy, expounded by the men who had
discovered them, and who were no less proud of their discovery than
Columbus of his passage to the Indies, first moulded his mind to those
lofty thoughts which it became the task of his life to express in form. At
the same time he heard the preaching of Savonarola. In the Duomo and the
cloister of S. Marco another portion of his soul was touched, and he
acquired that deep religious tone which gives its majesty and terror to
the Sistine. Much in the same way was Milton educated by the classics in
conjunction with the Scriptures. Both of these austere natures assimilated
from pagan art and Jewish prophecy the twofold elements they needed for
their own imaginative life. Both Michael Angelo and Milton, in spite of
their parade of classic style, were separated from the Greek world by a
gulf of Hebrew and of Christian feeling.

While Michael Angelo was thus engaged in studying antique sculpture and in
listening to Pico and Savonarola, he carved his first bas-relief--a
"Battle of Hercules with the Centaurs," suggested to him by
Poliziano.[291] Meantime Lorenzo died. His successor Piero set the young
man, it is said, to model a snow statue, and then melted like a shape of
snow himself down from his pedestal of power in Florence. Upon the
expulsion of the tyrant and the proclamation of the new republic, it was
dangerous for house-friends of the Casa Medici to be seen in the city.
Michael Angelo, therefore, made his way to Bologna, where he spent some
months in the palace of Gian Francesco Aldovrandini, studying Dante and
working at an angel for the shrine of S. Dominic. As soon, however, as it
seemed safe to do so, he returned to Florence; and to this period belongs
the statue of the "Sleeping Cupid," which was sold as an antique to the
Cardinal Raffaello Riario.

A dispute about the price of this "Cupid" took Michael Angelo in 1496 to
Rome, where it was destined that the greater portion of his life should he
spent, and his noblest works of art should be produced. Here, while the
Borgias were turning the Vatican into a den of thieves and harlots, he
executed the purest of all his statues--a "Pietà" in marble.[292] Christ
is lying dead upon his mother's knees. With her right arm she supports his
shoulders; her left hand is gently raised as though to say, "Behold and
see!" All that art can do to make death beautiful and grief sublime, is
achieved in this masterpiece, which was never surpassed by Michael Angelo
in later years. Already, at the age of four-and-twenty, he had matured his
"terrible manner." Already were invented in his brain that race of
superhuman beings, who became the hieroglyphs of his impassioned
utterance. Madonna has the small head and heroic torso used by this master
to symbolise force. We feel she has no difficulty in holding the dead
Christ upon her ample lap and in her powerful arms. Yet while the "Pietà"
is wholly Michael Angelesque, we find no lack of repose, none of those
contorted lines that are commonly urged against his manner. It is a sober
and harmonious composition, combining the profoundest religious feeling
with classical tranquillity of expression. Again, though the group is
forcibly original, this effect of originality is produced, as in all the
best work of the golden age, not by new and startling conception, but by
the handling of an old and well-worn motive with the grandeur of
consummate style. What the genius of Italian sculpture had for generations
been striving after, finds its perfect realisation here. It was precisely
by thus crowning the endeavours of antecedent artists--by bringing the
opening buds of painting and sculpture to full blossom, and exhausting the
resources of a long sustained and common inspiration, that the great
masters proved their supremacy and rendered an advance beyond their
vantage ground impossible. To those who saw and comprehended this "Pietà"
in 1500, it must have been evident that a new power of portraying the very
soul had been manifested in sculpture--a power unknown to the Greeks
because it lay outside the sphere of their spiritual experience, and
unknown to modern artists because it was beyond their faculties of
execution and conception. Yet who in Rome, among the courtiers of the
Borgias, had brain or heart to understand these things?

In 1501 Michael Angelo returned to Florence, where he stayed until the
year 1505. This period was fruitful of results on which his after fame
depended. The great statue of "David," the two unfinished medallions of
Madonna in relief, the "Holy Family of the Tribune" painted for Angelo
Doni, and the Cartoon of the "Battle of Pisa" were now produced; and no
man's name, not even Lionardo's, stood higher in esteem thenceforward. It
will be remembered that Savonarola was now dead, but that his constitution
still existed under the presidency of Pietro Soderini--the _non mai
abbastanza lodato Cavaliere_, as Pitti calls him, the _anima sciocca_ of
Machiavelli's epigram.[293] Since Michael Angelo at this time was employed
in the service of masters who had superseded his old friends and patrons,
it may be well to review here his attitude in general toward the house of
Medici. Throughout his lifetime there continued a conflict between the
artist and the citizen--the artist owing education and employment to
successive members of that house, the citizen resenting their despotism
and doing all that in him lay at times to keep them out of Florence. As a
patriot, as the student of Dante and the disciple of Savonarola, Michael
Angelo detested tyrants.[294] One of his earliest madrigals, conceived as
a dialogue between Florence and her exiles, expresses his mind so
decidedly that I have ventured to translate it;[295] the exiles first
address Florence, and she answers:--

    "Lady, for joy of lovers numberless
      Thou wast created fair as angels are.
      Sure God hath fallen asleep in heaven afar,
      When one man calls the boon of many his.
      Give back to streaming eyes
      The daylight of Thy face, that seems to shun
      Those who must live defrauded of their bliss!"

    "Vex not your pure desire with tears and sighs;
      For he who robs you of my light, hath none.
      Dwelling in fear, sin hath no happiness;
      Since amid those who love, their joy is less
      Whose great desire great plenty still curtails,
      Than theirs who, poor, have hope that never fails."

As an artist, owing his advancement to Lorenzo, he had accepted favours
binding him by ties of gratitude to the Medici, and even involving him in
the downfall of their house. For Leo X. he undertook to build the façade
of S. Lorenzo and the Laurentian Library. For Clement VII. he began the
statues of the Dukes of Urbino and Nemours. Yet, while accepting these
commissions from Medicean Popes, he could not keep his tongue from
speaking openly against their despotism. After the sack of Prato it
appears from his correspondence that he had exposed himself to danger by
some expression of indignation.[296] This was in 1512, when Soderini fled
and left the gates of Florence open to the Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici.
During the siege of Florence in 1529 he fortified Samminiato, and allowed
himself to be named one of the Otto di Guerra chosen for the express
purpose of defending Florence against the Medici.[297] After the fall of
the city he made peace with Clement by consenting to finish the tombs of
S. Lorenzo. Yet, while doing all he could to save those insignificant
dukes from oblivion by the immortality of his art, Michael Angelo was
conscious of his own and his country's shame. The memorable lines placed
in the mouth of his "Night," sufficiently display his feeling after the
final return of the Medici in 1530:[298]--

    Sweet is my sleep, but more to be mere stone,
    So long as ruin and dishonour reign;
    To hear nought, to feel nought, is my great gain:
    Then wake me not, speak in an under-tone.

When Clement VII. died, the last real representative of Michael Angelo's
old patrons perished, and the sculptor was free to quit Florence for ever.
During the reign of Duke Cosimo he never set foot in his native city. It
is thus clear that the patriot, the artist, and the man of honour were at
odds in him. Loyalty obliged him to serve the family to whom he owed so
much; he was, moreover, dependent for opportunities of doing great work on
the very men whose public policy he execrated. Hence arose a compromise
and a confusion, hard to accommodate with our conception of his upright
and unyielding temper. Only by voluntary exile, and after age had made him
stubborn to resist seductive offers, could Michael Angelo act up to the
promptings of his heart and declare himself a citizen who held no truce
with tyrants. I have already in this work had occasion to compare Dante,
Michael Angelo, and Machiavelli.[299] In estimating the conduct of the two
last, it must not be forgotten that, by the action of inevitable causes,
republican freedom had become in Italy a thing of the past; and in judging
between Machiavelli and Michael Angelo, we have to remember that the
sculptor's work involved no sacrifice of principle or self-respect.
Carving statues for the tombs of Medicean dukes was a different matter
from dedicating the "Prince" to them.

This digression, though necessary for the right understanding of Michael
Angelo's relation to the Medici, has carried me beyond his Florentine
residence in 1501-1505. The great achievement of that period was not the
"David" but the Cartoon for the "Battle of Pisa."[300] The hall of the
Consiglio Grande had been opened, and one wall had been assigned to
Lionardo. Michael Angelo was now invited by the Signory to prepare a
design for another side of the state-chamber. When he displayed his
cartoon to the Florentines, they pronounced that Da Vinci, hitherto the
undisputed prince of painting, was surpassed. It is impossible for us to
form an opinion on this matter, since both cartoons are lost beyond
recovery.[301] We only know that, as Cellini says, "while they lasted,
they formed the school of the whole world,"[302] and made an epoch in the
history of art. When we inquire what was the subject of Michael Angelo's
famous picture, we find that he had aimed at representing nothing of more
moment than a group of soldiers suddenly surprised by a trumpet-call to
battle, while bathing in the Arno--a crowd of naked men in every posture
indicating haste, anxiety, and struggle. Not for its intellectual meaning,
not for its colour, not for its sentiment, was this design so highly
prized. Its science won the admiration of artists and the public. At this
period of the Renaissance the bold and perfect drawing of the body gave an
exquisite delight. Hence, perhaps, Vasari's vapid talk about "stravaganti
attitudini," "divine figure," "scorticamenti," and so forth--as if the
soul of figurative art were in such matters. The science of Michael
Angelo, which in his own mind was sternly subordinated to thought, had
already turned the weaker heads of his generation.[303] A false ideal took
possession of the fancy, and such criticism as that of Vasari and Pietro
Aretino became inevitable.

Meanwhile, a new Pope had been elected, and in 1505 Michael Angelo was
once more called to Rome. Throughout his artist's life he oscillated thus
between Rome and Florence--Florence the city of his ancestry, and Rome the
city of his soul; Florence where he learnt his art, and Rome where he
displayed what art can do of highest. Julius was a patron of different
stamp from Lorenzo the Magnificent. He was not learned in book-lore:
"Place a sword in my hand!" he said to the sculptor at Bologna: "of
letters I know nothing." Yet he was no less capable of discerning
excellence than the Medici himself, and his spirit strove incessantly
after the accomplishment of vast designs. Between Julius and Michael
Angelo there existed a strong bond of sympathy due to community of
temperament. Both aimed at colossal achievements in their respective
fields of action. The imagination of both was fired by large and simple,
rather than luxurious and subtle thoughts. Both were _uomini terribili_,
to use a phrase denoting vigour of character made formidable by an abrupt
uncompromising temper. Both worked _con furia_, with the impetuosity of
daemonic natures; and both left the impress of their individuality graven
indelibly upon their age.

Julius ordered the sculptor to prepare his mausoleum. Michael Angelo
asked, "Where am I to place it?" Julius replied, "In S. Peter's." But the
old basilica of Christendom was too small for this ambitious pontiff's
sepulchre, designed by the audacious artist. It was therefore decreed that
a new S. Peter's should be built to hold it. In this way the two great
labours of Buonarroti's life were mapped out for him in a moment. But, by
a strange contrariety of fate, to Bramante and San Gallo fell respectively
the planning and the spoiling of S. Peter's. It was only in extreme old
age that Michael Angelo crowned it with that world's miracle, the dome.
The mausoleum, to form a canopy for which the building was designed,
dwindled down at last to the statue of "Moses" thrust out of the way in
the church of S. Pietro in Vincoli. "La tragedia della Sepoltura," as
Condivi aptly terms the history of Giulio's monument, began thus in 1505
and dragged on till 1545.[304] Rarely did Michael Angelo undertake a work
commensurate with his creative power, but something came to interrupt its
execution; while tasks outside his sphere, for which he never
bargained--the painting of the Sistine Chapel, the façade of S. Lorenzo,
the fortification of Samminiato--were thrust upon him in the midst of
other more congenial labours. What we possess of his achievement, is a
_torso_ of his huge designs.

Giulio's tomb, as he conceived it, would have been the most stupendous
monument of sculpture in the world.[305] That mountain of marble covered
with figures wrought in stone and bronze, was meant to be the sculptured
poem of the thought of Death; no mere apotheosis of Pope Julius, but a
pageant of the soul triumphant over the limitations of mortality. All that
dignifies humanity--arts, sciences, and laws; the victory that crowns
heroic effort; the majesty of contemplation, and the energy of
action--was symbolised upon ascending tiers of the great pyramid; while
the genii of heaven and earth upheld the open tomb, where lay the dead man
waiting for the Resurrection. Of this gigantic scheme only one imperfect
drawing now remains.[306] The "Moses" and the "Bound Captives"[307] are
all that Michael Angelo accomplished. For forty years the "Moses" remained
in his workshop. For forty years he cherished a hope that his plan might
still in part be executed, complaining the while that it would have been
better for him to have made sulphur matches all his life than to have
taken up the desolating artist's trade. "Every day," he cries, "I am
stoned as though I had crucified Christ. My youth has been lost, bound
hand and foot to this tomb."[308] It was decreed apparently that Michael
Angelo should exist for after ages as a fragment; and such might Pheidias
among the Greeks have been, if he had worked for ephemeral Popes and
bankrupt princes instead of Pericles. Italy in the sixteenth century,
dislocated, distracted, and drained of her material resources, gave no
opportunity to artists for the creation of monuments colossal in their

Michael Angelo spent eight months at this period among the stone quarries
of Carrara, selecting marble for the Pope's tomb.[309] There his brain,
always teeming with gigantic conceptions, suggested to him a new fancy.
Could not the headland jutting out beyond Sarzana into the Tyrrhene Sea
be carved by his workmen into a Pharos? To transmute a mountain into a
statue, holding a city in either hand, had been the dream of a Greek
artist. Michael Angelo revived the bold thought; but to execute it would
have been almost beyond his power. Meanwhile, in November 1505, the marble
was shipped, and the quays of Rome were soon crowded with blocks destined
for the mausoleum. But when the sculptor arrived, he found that enemies
had been poisoning the Pope's mind against him, and that Julius had
abandoned the scheme of the mausoleum. On six successive days he was
denied entrance to the Vatican, and the last time with such rudeness that
he determined to quit Rome.[310] He hurried straightway to his house, sold
his effects, mounted, and rode without further ceremony toward Florence,
sending to the Pope a written message bidding him to seek for Michael
Angelo elsewhere in future than in Rome. It is related that Julius,
anxious to recover what had been so lightly lost, sent several couriers to
bring him back.[311] Michael Angelo announced that he intended to accept
the Sultan's commission for building a bridge at Pera, and refused to be
persuaded to return to Rome. This was at Poggibonsi. When he had reached
Florence, Julius addressed, himself to Soderini, who, unwilling to
displease the Pope, induced Michael Angelo to seek the pardon of the
master he had so abruptly quitted. By that time Julius had left the city
for the camp; and when Michael Angelo finally appeared before him,
fortified with letters from the Signory of Florence, it was at Bologna
that they met. "You have waited thus long, it seems," said the Pope, well
satisfied but surly, "till we should come ourselves to seek you." The
prelate who had introduced the sculptor now began to make excuses for him,
whereupon Julius turned in a fury upon the officious courtier, and had him
beaten from his presence. A few days after this encounter Michael Angelo
was ordered to cast a bronze statue of Julius for the frontispiece of S.
Petronio. The sculptor objected that brass-foundry was not his affair.
"Never mind," said Julius; "get to work, and we will cast your statue till
it comes out perfect."[312] Michael Angelo did as he was bid, and the
statue was set up in 1508 above the great door of the church. The Pope was
seated, with his right hand raised; in the other were the keys. When
Julius asked him whether he was meant to bless or curse the Bolognese with
that uplifted hand, Buonarroti found an answer worthy of a courtier: "Your
Holiness is threatening this people, if it be not wise." Less than four
years afterwards Julius lost his hold upon Bologna, the party of the
Bentivogli returned to power, and the statue was destroyed. A bronze
cannon, called the "Giulia," was made out of Michael Angelo's masterpiece
by the best gunsmith of his century, Alfonso Duke of Ferrara.

It seems that Michael Angelo's flight from Rome in 1506 was due not only
to his disappointment about the tomb, but also to his fear lest Julius
should give him uncongenial work to do. Bramante, if we may believe the
old story, had whispered that it was ill-omened for a man to build his own
sepulchre, and that it would be well to employ the sculptor's genius upon
the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Accordingly, on his return to Rome in
1508, this new task was allotted him. In vain did Michael Angelo remind
his master of the months wasted in the quarries of Carrara; in vain he
pointed to his designs for the monument, and pleaded that he was not a
painter by profession.[313] Julius had made up his mind that he should
paint the Sistine. Was not the cartoon at Florence a sufficient proof that
he could do this if he chose, and had he not learned the art of fresco in
the _bottega_ of his master Ghirlandajo? Whatever his original reluctance
may have been, it was speedily overcome; and the cartoons for the ceiling,
projected with the unity belonging to a single great conception, were
ready by the summer of 1508.[314]

The difficulty of his new task aroused the artist's energy. If we could
accept the legend, whereby contemporaries expressed their admiration for
this Titanic labour, we should have to believe the impossible--that
Michael Angelo ground his own colours, prepared his own plaster, and
completed with his own hand the whole work, after having first conquered
the obstacles of scaffolding and vault-painting by machines of his own
invention,[315] and that only twenty months were devoted to the execution
of a series of paintings almost unequalled in their delicacy, and
surpassed by few single masterpieces in extent. What may be called the
mythus of the Sistine Chapel has at last been finally disproved, partly by
the personal observations of Mr. Heath Wilson, and partly by the
publication of Michael Angelo's correspondence.[316] Though some
uncertainty remains as to the exact dates of the commencement and
completion of the vault, we now know that Michael Angelo continued
painting it at intervals during four successive years; and though we are
not accurately informed about his helpers, we no longer can doubt that
able craftsmen yielded him assistance. On May 10, 1508, he signed a
receipt for five hundred ducats advanced by Julius for the necessary
expenses of the undertaking; and on the next day he paid ten ducats to a
mason for rough plastering and surface-finishing applied to the vault.
There is good reason to believe that he began his painting during the
autumn of 1508. On November 1, 1509, a certain portion was uncovered to
the public; and before the end of the year 1512 the whole was completed.
Thus, though the legend of Vasari and Condivi has been stripped of the
miraculous by careful observation and keen-sighted criticism, enough
remains to justify the sense of wonder that expressed itself in their
exaggerated statements. No one but Michael Angelo could have done what he
did in the Sistine Chapel. The conception was entirely his own. The
execution, except in subordinate details and in matters pertaining to the
mason's craft, was also his. The rapidity with which he laboured was
astounding. Mr. Heath Wilson infers from the condition of the plaster and
the joinings observable in different parts, that the figure of Adam,
highly finished as it is, was painted in three days. Nor need we strip
the romance from that time-honoured tale of the great master's solitude.
Lying on his back beneath the dreary vault, communing with Dante,
Savonarola, and the Hebrew prophets in the intervals of labour, locking up
the chapel-doors in order to elude the jealous curiosity of rivals, eating
but little and scarcely sleeping, he accomplished in sixteen months the
first part of his gigantic task.[317] From time to time Julius climbed the
scaffold and inspected the painter's progress. Dreading lest death should
come before the work were finished, he kept crying, "When will you make an
end?" "When I can," answered the painter. "You seem to want," rejoined the
petulant old man, "that I should have you thrown down from the scaffold."
Then Michael Angelo's brush stopped. The machinery was removed, and the
frescoes were uncovered in their incompleteness to the eyes of Rome.

Entering the Cappella Sistina, and raising our eyes to sweep the roof, we
have above us a long and somewhat narrow oblong space, vaulted with round
arches, and covered from end to end, from side to side, with a network of
human forms. The whole is coloured like the dusky, tawny, blueish clouds
of thunderstorms. There is no luxury of decorative art;--no gold, no
paint-box of vermilion or emerald green, has been lavished here. Sombre
and aërial, like shapes condensed from vapour, or dreams begotten by Ixion
upon mists of eve or dawn, the phantoms evoked by the sculptor throng that
space. Nine compositions, carrying down the sacred history from the
creation of light to the beginning of sin in Noah's household, fill the
central compartments of the roof. Beneath these, seated on the spandrils,
are alternate prophets and sibyls, twelve in all, attesting to the future
deliverance and judgment of the world by Christ. The intermediate spaces
between these larger masses, on the roof and in the lunettes of the
windows, swarm with figures, some naked and some draped--women and
children, boys and young men, grouped in tranquil attitudes, or adapting
themselves with freedom to their station on the curves and angles of the
architecture. In these subordinate creations Michael Angelo deigned to
drop the terrible style, in order that he might show how sweet and full of
charm his art could be. The grace of colouring, realised in some of those
youthful and athletic forms, is such as no copy can represent. Every
posture of beauty and of strength, simple or strained, that it is possible
for men to assume, has been depicted here. Yet the whole is governed by a
strict sense of sobriety. The restlessness of Correggio, the violent
attitudinising of Tintoretto, belong alike to another and less noble

To speak adequately of these form-poems would be quite impossible.
Buonarroti seems to have intended to prove by them that the human body has
a language, inexhaustible in symbolism--every limb, every feature, and
every attitude being a word full of significance to those who comprehend,
just as music is a language whereof each note and chord and phrase has
correspondence with the spiritual world. It may be presumptuous after this
fashion to interpret the design of him who called into existence the
heroic population of the Sistine. Yet Michael Angelo has written lines
which in some measure justify the reading. This is how he closes one of
his finest sonnets to Vittoria Colonna:

    Nor hath God deigned to show Himself elsewhere
    More clearly than in human forms sublime;
    Which, since they image Him, compel my love.

Therefore to him a well-shaped hand, or throat, or head, a neck superbly
poised on an athletic chest, the sway of the trunk above the hips, the
starting of the muscles on the flank, the tendons of the ankle, the
outline of the shoulder when the arm is raised, the backward bending of
the loins, the curves of a woman's breast, the contours of a body careless
in repose or strained for action, were all words pregnant with profoundest
meaning, whereby fit utterance might be given to the thoughts that raise
man near to God. But, it may be asked, what poems of action as well as
feeling are to be expressed in this form-language? The answer is simple.
Paint or carve the body of a man, and, as you do it nobly, you will give
the measure of both highest thought and most impassioned deed. This is the
key to Michael Angelo's art. He cared but little for inanimate nature. The
landscapes of Italy, so eloquent in their sublimity and beauty, were
apparently a blank to him. His world was the world of ideas, taking
visible form, incarnating themselves in man. One language the master had
to serve him in all need--the language of plastic human form; but it was
to him a tongue as rich in its variety of accent and of intonation as
Beethoven's harmonies.

In the Sistine Chapel, where plastic art is so supreme, we are bound to
ask the further question. What was the difference between Michael Angelo
and a Greek? The Parthenon with its processions of youths and maidens, its
gods and heroes, rejoicing in their strength, and robed with raiment that
revealed their living form, made up a symphony of meaning as full as this
of Michael Angelo, and far more radiant. The Greek sculptor embraced
humanity in his work no less comprehensively than the Italian; and what he
had to say was said more plainly in the speech they both could use. But
between Pheidias and Michael Angelo lay Christianity, the travail of the
world through twenty centuries. Clear as morning, and calm in the
unconsciousness of beauty, are those heroes of the youth of Hellas. All
is grace, repose, strength shown but not asserted. Michael Angelo's Sibyls
and Prophets are old and wrinkled, bowed with thought, consumed by vigils,
startled from tranquillity by visions, overburdened with the messages of
God. The loveliest among them, the Delphic, lifts dilated eyes, as though
to follow dreams that fly upon the paths of trance. Even the young men
strain their splendid limbs, and seem to shout or shriek, as if the life
in them contained some element of pain. "He maketh his angels spirits, and
his ministers a flame of fire:" this verse rises to our lips when we seek
to describe the genii that crowd the cornice of the Sistine Chapel. The
human form in the work of Pheidias wore a joyous and sedate serenity; in
that of Michael Angelo it is turbid with a strange and awful sense of
inbreathed agitation. Through the figure-language of the one was spoken
the pagan creed, bright, unperturbed, and superficial. The sculpture of
the Parthenon accomplished the transfiguration of the natural man. In the
other man awakes to a new life of contest, disillusionment, hope, dread,
and heavenward striving. It was impossible for the Greek and the Italian,
bearing so different a burden of prophecy, even though they used the same
speech, to tell the same tale; and this should be remembered by those
critics who cast exaggeration and contortion in the teeth of Michael
Angelo. Between the birth of the free spirit in Greece and its second
birth in Italy, there yawned a sepulchre wherein the old faiths of the
world lay buried and whence Christ had risen.[318]

The star of Raphael, meanwhile, had arisen over Rome. Between the two
greatest painters of their age the difference was striking. Michael Angelo
stood alone, his own master, fashioned in his own school. A band of
artists called themselves by Raphael's name; and in his style we trace the
influence of several predecessors. Michael Angelo rarely received visits,
frequented no society, formed no pupils, and boasted of no friends at
Court. Raphael was followed to the Vatican by crowds of students; his
levées were like those of a prince; he counted among his intimates the
best scholars and poets of the age; his hand was pledged in marriage to a
cardinal's niece. It does not appear that they engaged in petty rivalries,
or that they came much into personal contact with each other. While
Michael Angelo was so framed that he could learn from no man, Raphael
gladly learned of Michael Angelo; and after the uncovering of the Sistine
frescoes, his manner showed evident signs of alteration. Julius, who had
given Michael Angelo the Sistine, set Raphael to work upon the Stanze. For
Julius were painted the "Miracle of Bolsena" and the "Expulsion of
Heliodorus from the Temple," scenes containing courtly compliments for the
old Pope. No such compliments had been paid by Michael Angelo. Like his
great parallel in music, Beethoven, he displayed an almost arrogant
contempt for the conventionalities whereby an artist wins the favour of
his patrons and the world.

After the death of Julius, Leo X., in character the reverse of his fiery
predecessor, and by temperament unsympathetic to the austere Michael
Angelo, found nothing better for the sculptor's genius than to set him at
work upon the façade of S. Lorenzo at Florence. The better part of the
years between 1516 and 1520 was spent in quarrying marble at Carrara,
Pietra Santa, and Seravezza. This is the most arid and unfruitful period
of Michael Angelo's long life, a period of delays and thwarted schemes and
servile labours. What makes the sense of disappointment greater, is that
the façade of S. Lorenzo was not even finished.[319] We hurry over this
wilderness of wasted months, and arrive at another epoch of artistic

Already in 1520 the Cardinal Giulio de' Medici had conceived the notion of
building a sacristy in S. Lorenzo to receive the monuments of Cosimo, the
founder of the house, Lorenzo the Magnificent, Giuliano Duke of Nemours,
Lorenzo Duke of Urbino, Leo X., and himself.[320] To Michael Angelo was
committed the design, and in 1521 he began to apply himself to the work.
Nine years had now elapsed since the roof of the Sistine chapel had been
finished, and during this time Michael Angelo had produced little except
the "Christ" of S. Maria sopra Minerva. This new undertaking occupied him
at intervals between 1521 and 1534, a space of time decisive for the
fortunes of the Medici in Florence. Leo died, and Giulio after a few years
succeeded him as Clement VII. The bastards of the house, Ippolito and
Alessandro, were expelled from Florence in 1527. Rome was sacked by the
Imperial troops; then Michael Angelo quitted the statues and helped to
defend his native city against the Prince of Orange. After the failure of
the Republicans, he was recalled to his labours by command of Clement.
Sullenly and sadly he quarried marbles for the sacristy. Sadly and
sullenly he used his chisel year by year, making the very stones cry that
shame and ruin were the doom of his country. At last in 1534 Clement died.
Then Michael Angelo flung down his mallet. The monuments remained
unfinished, and the sculptor set foot in Florence no more.[321]

The Sacristy of S. Lorenzo was built by Michael Angelo and panelled with
marbles to receive the sculpture he meant to place there.[322] Thus the
colossal statues of Giuliano and Lorenzo were studied with a view to their
light and shadow as much as to their form; and this is a fact to be
remembered by those who visit the chapel where Buonarroti laboured both as
architect and sculptor. Of the two Medici, it is not fanciful to say that
the "Duke of Urbino" is the most immovable of spectral shapes eternalised
in marble; while the "Duke of Nemours," more graceful and elegant, seems
intended to present a contrast to this terrible thought-burdened
form.[323] The allegorical figures, stretched on segments of ellipses
beneath the pedestals of the two dukes, indicate phases of darkness and of
light, of death and life. They are two women and two men; tradition names
them "Night" and "Day," "Twilight" and "Dawning." Thus in the statues
themselves and in their attendant genii we have a series of abstractions,
symbolising the sleep and waking of existence, action and thought, the
gloom of death, the lustre of life, and the intermediate states of sadness
and of hope that form the borderland of both. Life is a dream between two
slumbers; sleep is death's twin-brother; night is the shadow of death;
death is the gate of life:--such is the mysterious mythology wrought by
the sculptor of the modern world in marble. All these figures, by the
intensity of their expression, the vagueness of their symbolism, force us
to think and question. What, for example, occupies Lorenzo's brain?
Bending forward, leaning his chin upon his wrist, placing the other hand
upon his knee, on what does he for ever ponder? The sight, as Rogers said
well, "fascinates and is intolerable." Michael Angelo has shot the beaver
of the helmet forward on his forehead, and bowed his head, so as to clothe
the face in darkness. But behind the gloom there is no skull, as Rogers
fancied. The whole frame of the powerful man is instinct with some
imperious thought. Has he outlived his life and fallen upon everlasting
contemplation? Is he brooding, injured and indignant, over his own doom
and the extinction of his race? Is he condemned to witness in immortal
immobility the woes of Italy he helped to cause? Or has the sculptor
symbolised in him the burden of that personality we carry with us in this
life and bear for ever when we wake into another world? Beneath this
incarnation of oppressive thought there lie, full-length and naked, the
figures of Dawn and Twilight, Morn and Evening. So at least they are
commonly called: and these names are not inappropriate; for the breaking
of the day and the approach of night are metaphors for many transient
conditions of the soul. It is only as allegories in a large sense,
comprehending both the physical and intellectual order, and capable of
various interpretation, that any of these statues can be understood. Even
the Dukes do not pretend to be portraits: and hence in part perhaps the
uncertainty that has gathered round them. Very tranquil and noble is
Twilight: a giant in repose, he meditates, leaning upon his elbow, looking
down. But Dawn starts from her couch, as though some painful summons had
reached her sunk in dreamless sleep, and called her forth to suffer. Her
waking to consciousness is like that of one who has been drowned, and who
finds the return to life agony. Before her eyes, seen even through the
mists of slumber, are the ruin and the shame of Italy. Opposite lies
Night, so sorrowful, so utterly absorbed in darkness and the shade of
death, that to shake off that everlasting lethargy seems impossible. Yet
she is not dead. If we raise our voices, she too will stretch her limbs
and, like her sister, shudder into sensibility with sighs. Only we must
not wake her; for he who fashioned her, has told us that her sleep of
stone is great good fortune. Both of these women are large and brawny,
unlike the Fates of Pheidias in their muscular maturity. The burden of
Michael Angelo's thought was too tremendous to be borne by virginal or
graceful beings. He had to make women no less capable of suffering, no
less world-wearied, than his country.

Standing before these statues, we do not cry. How beautiful! We murmur,
How terrible, how grand! Yet, after long gazing, we find them gifted with
beauty beyond grace. In each of them there is a palpitating thought, torn
from the artist's soul and crystallised in marble. It has been said that
architecture is petrified music. In the sacristy of S. Lorenzo we feel
impelled to remember phrases of Beethoven. Each of these statues becomes
for us a passion, fit for musical expression, but turned like Niobe to
stone. They have the intellectual vagueness, the emotional certainty, that
belong to the motives of a symphony. In their allegories, left without a
key, sculpture has passed beyond her old domain of placid concrete form.
The anguish of intolerable emotion, the quickening of the consciousness to
a sense of suffering, the acceptance of the inevitable, the strife of the
soul with destiny, the burden and the passion of mankind:--that is what
they contain in their cold chisel-tortured marble. It is open to critics
of the school of Lessing to object that here is the suicide of sculpture.
It is easy to remark that those strained postures and writhen limbs may
have perverted the taste of lesser craftsmen. Yet if Michael Angelo was
called to carve Medicean statues after the sack of Rome and the fall of
Florence--if he was obliged in sober sadness to make sculpture a fit
language for his sorrow-laden heart--how could he have wrought more
truthfully than thus? To imitate him without sharing his emotions or
comprehending his thoughts, as the soulless artist of the decadence
attempted, was without any doubt a grievous error. Surely also we may
regret, not without reason, that in the evil days upon which he had
fallen, the fair antique "Heiterkeit" and "Allgemeinheit" were beyond his

Michael Angelo left the tombs of the Medici unfinished; nor, in spite of
Duke Cosimo's earnest entreaties, would he afterwards return to Florence
to complete them. Lorenzo's features are but rough-hewn; so is the face of
Night. Day seems struggling into shape beneath his mask of rock, and
Twilight shows everywhere the tooth-dint of the chisel. To leave
unfinished was the fate of Michael Angelo--partly too, perhaps, his
preference; for he was easily deterred from work. Many of his marbles are
only just begun. The two medallion "Madonnas," the "Madonna and Child" in
S. Lorenzo, the "Head of Brutus," the "Bound Captives," and the "Pietà" in
the Duomo of Florence, are instances of masterpieces in the rough. He
loved to fancy that the form dwelt within the stone, and that the chisel
disencumbered it of superfluity. Therefore, to his eye, foreseeing what
the shape would be when the rude envelope was chipped away, the marble
mask may have taken the appearance of a veil or mantle. He may have found
some fascination in the incompleteness that argued want of will but not of
art, and a rough-hewn Madonna may have been to him what a Dryad still
enclosed within a gnarled oak was to a Greek poet's fancy. We are not,
however, justified in therefore assuming, as a recent critic has
suggested, that Michael Angelo sought to realise a certain preconceived
effect by want of finish. There is enough in the distracted circumstances
of his life and in his temper, at once passionate and downcast, to account
for fragmentary and imperfect performance; nor must it be forgotten that
the manual labour of the sculptor in the sixteenth century was by no means
so light as it is now. A decisive argument against this theory is that
Buonarroti's three most celebrated statues--the "Pietà" in S. Peter's, the
"Moses" and the "Dawn"--are executed with the highest polish it is
possible for stone to take.[324] That he always aimed at this high finish,
but often fell below it through discontent and _ennui_ and the importunity
of patrons, we have the best reason to believe.

Michael Angelo had now reached his fifty-ninth year. Lionardo and Raphael
had already passed away, and were remembered as the giants of a bygone age
of gold. Correggio was in his last year. Andrea del Sarto was dead.
Nowhere except at Venice did Italian art still flourish; and the mundane
style of Titian was not to the sculptor's taste. He had overlived the
greatness of his country, and saw Italy in ruins. Yet he was destined to
survive another thirty years, another lifetime of Masaccio or Raphael, and
to witness still worse days. When we call Michael Angelo the interpreter
of the burden and the pain of the Renaissance, we must remember this long
weary old age, during which in solitude and silence he watched the
extinction of Florence, the institution of the Inquisition, and the
abasement of the Italian spirit beneath the tyranny of Spain. His sonnets,
written chiefly in this latter period of life, turn often on the thought
of death. His love of art yields to religious hope and fear, and he
bemoans a youth and manhood spent in vanity. Once when he injured his leg
by a fall from the scaffolding in the Sistine Chapel, he refused
assistance, shut himself up at home, and lay waiting for deliverance in
death. His life was only saved by the forcible interference of friends.

In 1534 a new Eurystheus arose for our Hercules. The Cardinal Alessandro
Farnese, a fox by nature and infamous through his indulgence for a vicious
bastard, was made Pope under the name of Paul III.[325] Michael Angelo had
shed lustre on the reigns of three Popes, his predecessors. For thirty
years the Farnese had watched him with greedy eyes. After Julius, Leo, and
Clement, the time was now come for the heroic craftsman to serve Paul. The
Pope found him at work in his _bottega_ on the tomb of Julius; for the
"tragedy of the mausoleum" still dragged on. The statue of Moses was
finished. "That," said Paul, "is enough for one Pope. Give me your
contract with the Duke of Urbino; I will tear it. Have I waited all these
years; and now that I am Pope at last, shall I not have you for myself? I
want you in the Sistine Chapel." Accordingly Michael Angelo, who had
already made cartoons for the "Last Judgment" in the life of Clement, once
more laid aside the chisel and took up the brush. For eight years, between
1534 and 1542, he laboured at the fresco above the high altar of the
chapel, devoting his terrible genius to a subject worthy of the times in
which he lived. Since he had first listened while a youth to the
prophecies of Savonarola, the woes announced in that apocalypse had all
come true. Italy had been scourged, Rome sacked, the Church chastised.
And yet the world had not grown wiser; vice was on the increase, virtue
grew more rare.[326] It was impossible after the experience of the
immediate past and within view of the present and the future, to conceive
of God as other than an angry judge, vindictive and implacable.

The "Last Judgment" has long been the most celebrated of Michael Angelo's
paintings; partly no doubt because it was executed in the plenitude of his
fame, with the eyes of all Italy upon him; partly because its size arouses
vulgar wonder, and its theme strikes terror into all who gaze on it. Yet
it is neither so strong nor so beautiful as the vault-paintings of the
Sistine. The freshness of the genius that created Eve and Adam, unrivalled
in their bloom of primal youth, has passed away. Austerity and gloom have
taken possession of the painter. His style has hardened into mannerism,
and the display of barren science in difficult posturing and strained
anatomy has become wilful. Still, whether we regard this fresco as closing
the long series of "Last Judgments" to be studied on Italian church-walls
from Giotto downwards; or whether we confine our attention, as
contemporaries seem to have done, to the skill of its foreshortenings and
groupings;[327] or whether we analyse the dramatic energy wherewith
tremendous passions are expressed, its triumph is in either case decided.
The whole wall swarms with ascending and descending, poised and hovering,
shapes--men and women rising from the grave before the judge, taking their
stations among the saved, or sinking with unutterable anguish to the place
of doom--a multitude that no man can number, surging to and fro in dim
tempestuous air. In the centre at the top, Christ is rising from His
throne with the gesture of an angry Hercules, hurling ruin on the guilty.
He is such as the sins of Italy have made Him. Squadrons of angels,
bearing the emblems of His passion, whirl around Him like grey
thunder-clouds, and all the saints lean forward from their vantage ground
to curse and threaten. At the very bottom bestial features take the place
of human lineaments, and the terror of judgment has become the torment of
damnation. Such is the general scope of this picture. Of all its merits,
none is greater than the delineation of uncertainty and gradual awakening
to life. The middle region between vigilance and slumber, reality and
dream, Michael Angelo ruled as his own realm; and a painting of the "Last
Judgment" enabled him to deal with this metaichmios skotos--this
darkness in the interval of crossing spears--under its most solemn aspect.

When the fresco was uncovered, there arose a general murmur of
disapprobation that the figures were all nude. As society became more
vicious, it grew nice. Messer Biagio, the Pope's master of the ceremonies,
remarked that such things were more fit for stews and taverns than a
chapel. The angry painter placed his portrait in Hell with a mark of
infamy that cast too lurid a light upon this prudish speech. When Biagio
complained, Paul wittily answered that, had it been Purgatory, he might
have helped him, but in Hell is no redemption. Even the foul-mouthed and
foul-hearted Aretino wrote from Venice to the same effect--a letter
astounding for its impudence.[328] Michael Angelo made no defence. Perhaps
he reflected that the souls of the Pope himself and Messer Biagio and
Messer Pietro Aretino would go forth one day naked to appear before the
judge, with the deformities of sin upon them, as in Plato's "Gorgias." He
refused, however, to give clothes to his men and women. Daniel da
Volterra, who was afterwards employed to do this, got the name of

We are hardly able to appreciate the "Last Judgment;" it has been so
smirched and blackened by the smoke and dust of centuries. And this is
true of the whole Sistine Chapel.[329] Yet it is here that the genius of
Michael Angelo in all its terribleness must still be studied. In order to
characterise the impression produced by even the less awful of these
frescoes on a sympathetic student, I lay my pen aside and beg the reader
to weigh what Henri Beyle, the versatile and brilliant critic, pencilled
in the gallery of the Sistine Chapel on January 13, 1807:[330] "Greek
sculpture was unwilling to reproduce the terrible in any shape; the
Greeks had enough real troubles of their own. Therefore, in the realm of
art, nothing can be compared with the figure of the Eternal drawing forth
the first man from nonentity. The pose, the drawing, the drapery, all is
striking: the soul is agitated by sensations that are not usually
communicated through the eyes. When in our disastrous retreat from Russia,
it chanced that we were suddenly awakened in the middle of the dark night
by an obstinate cannonading, which at each moment seemed to gain in
nearness, then all the forces of a man's nature gathered close around his
heart; he felt himself in the presence of fate, and, having no attention
left for things of vulgar interest, he made himself ready to dispute his
life with destiny. The sight of Michael Angelo's pictures has brought back
to my consciousness that almost forgotten sensation. Great souls enjoy
their own greatness: the rest of the world is seized with fear, and goes

After the painting of the "Last Judgment," one more great labour was
reserved for Michael Angelo.[331] By a brief of September, 1535, Paul III.
had made him the chief architect as well as sculptor and painter of the
Holy See. He was now called upon to superintend the building of S.
Peter's, and to this task, undertaken for the repose of his soul without
emolument, he devoted the last years of his life. The dome of S. Peter's,
as seen from Tivoli or the Alban hills, like a cloud upon the Campagna, is
Buonarroti's; but he has no share in the façade that screens it from the
piazza. It lies beyond the scope of this chapter to relate once more the
history of the vicissitudes through which S. Peter's went between the days
of Alberti and Bernini.[332] I can but refer to Michael Angelo's letter
addressed to Bartolommeo Ammanati, valuable both as setting forth his
views about the structure, and as rendering the fullest and most glorious
meed of praise to his old enemy Bramante.[333] All ancient jealousies,
even had they ever stirred the heart of Michael Angelo, had long been set
at rest by time and death. The one wish of his soul was to set a worthy
diadem upon the mother-church of Christianity, repairing by the majesty of
art what Rome had suffered at the hands of Germany and Spain, and
inaugurating by this visible sign of sovereignty the new age of
Catholicity renascent and triumphant.

To the last period of Buonarroti's life (a space of twenty-two years
between 1542 and 1564) we owe some of his most beautiful
drawings--sketches for pictures of the Crucifixion made for Vittoria
Colonna, and a few mythological designs, like the "Rape of Ganymede,"
composed for Tommaso Cavalieri. His thoughts meanwhile were turned more
and more, as time advanced, to piety; and many of his sonnets breathe an
almost ascetic spirit of religion.[334] We see in them the old man
regretting the years he had spent on art, deploring his enthusiasm for
earthly beauty, and seeking comfort in the cross alone.

    Painting nor sculpture now can lull to rest
    My soul, that turns to His great love on high,
    Whose arms to clasp us on the cross were spread.

It is pleasant to know that these last years were also the happiest and
calmest. Though he had lost his faithful friend and servant Urbino; though
his father had died, an old man, and his brothers had passed away before
him one by one, his nephew Lionardo had married in Florence, and begotten
a son called Michael Angelo. Thus he had the satisfaction of hoping that
his name would endure and flourish, as indeed it has done almost to this
very day in Florence. What consolation this thought must have brought him,
is clear to those who have studied his correspondence and observed the
tender care and continual anxiety he had for his kinsmen.[335] Wealth now
belonged to him: but he had never cared for money; and he continued to
live like a poor man, dressing soberly and eating sparely, often taking
but one meal in the day, and that of bread and wine.[336] He slept little,
and rose by night to work upon his statues, wearing a cap with a candle
stuck in front of it, that he might see where to drive the chisel home.
During his whole life he had been solitary, partly by preference, partly
by devotion to his art, and partly because he kept men at a distance by
his manner.[337] Not that Michael Angelo was sour or haughty; but he
spoke his mind out very plainly, had no tolerance for fools, and was apt
to fly into passions.[338] Time had now softened his temper and removed
all causes of discouragement. He had survived every rival, and the world
was convinced of his supremacy. Princes courted him; the Count of Canossa
was proud to claim him for a kinsman; strangers, when they visited Rome,
were eager to behold in him its greatest living wonder.[339] His old age
was the serene and splendid evening of a toilsome day. But better than all
this, he now enjoyed both love and friendship.

If Michael Angelo could ever have been handsome is more than doubtful.
Early in his youth the quarrelsome and vain Torrigiani broke his nose with
a blow of the fist, when they were drawing from Masaccio's frescoes in the
Carmine together.[340] Thenceforth the artist's soul looked forth from a
sad face, with small grey eyes, flat nostrils, and rugged weight of
jutting brows. Good care was thus taken that light love should not trifle
with the man who was destined to be the prophet of his age in art. Like
Beethoven, he united a loving nature, sensitive to beauty and desirous of
affection, with a rude exterior. He seemed incapable of attaching himself
to any merely mortal object, and wedded the ideal. In that century of
intrigue and amour, we hear of nothing to imply that Michael Angelo was a
lover till he reached the age of sixty. How he may have loved in the
earlier periods of his life, whereof no record now remains, can only be
guessed from the tenderness and passion outpoured in the poems of his
latter years. That his morality was pure and his converse without stain,
is emphatically witnessed by both Vasari and Condivi.[341] But that his
emotion was intense, and that to beauty in all its human forms he was
throughout his life a slave, we have his own sonnets to prove.

In the year 1534 he first became acquainted with the noble lady Vittoria,
daughter of Fabrizio Colonna, and widow of the Marquis of Pescara. She was
then aged forty-four, and had nine years survived the loss of a husband
she never ceased to idolise.[342] Living in retirement in Rome, she
employed her leisure with philosophy and poetry. Artists and men of
letters were admitted to her society. Among the subjects she had most at
heart was the reform of the Church and the restoration of religion to its
evangelical purity. Between her and Michael Angelo a tender affection
sprang up based upon the sympathy of ardent and high-seeking natures. If
love be the right name for this exalted and yet fervid attachment, Michael
Angelo may be said to have loved her with all the pent-up forces of his
heart. None of his works display a predilection for girlish beauty, and it
is probable that her intellectual distinction and mature womanhood touched
him even more than if she had been younger. When they were together in
Rome they met frequently for conversation on the themes of art and piety
they both held dear. Of these discourses a charming record has been
preserved to us by the painter Francis of Holland.[343] When they were
separated they exchanged poems and wrote letters, some of which remain. On
the death of Vittoria, in 1547, the light of life seemed to be
extinguished for our sculptor. It is said that he waited by her bed-side,
and kissed her hand when she was dying. The sonnets he afterwards composed
show that his soul followed her to heaven.

Another friend whom Michael Angelo found in this last stage of life, and
whom he loved with only less warmth than Vittoria, was a young Roman of
perfect beauty and of winning manners. Tommaso Cavalieri must be mentioned
next to the Marchioness of Pescara as the being who bound this greatest
soul a captive.[344] Both Cavalieri and Vittoria are said to have been
painted by him, and these are the only two portraits he is reported to
have executed. It may here be remarked that nothing is more characteristic
of his genius than the determination to see through nature, to pass beyond
the actual to the abstract, and to use reality only as a stepping-stone to
the ideal. This artistic Platonism was the source both of his greatness
and his mannerism. As men choose to follow Blake or Ruskin, they may
praise or blame him; yet, blame and praise pronounced on such a matter
with regard to such a man are equally impertinent and insignificant. It is
enough for the critic to note with reverence that thus and thus the spirit
that was in him worked and moved.

When we read the sonnets addressed to Vittoria Colonna and Cavalieri, we
find something inexpressibly pathetic in this pure and fervent worship of
beauty, when the artist with a soul still young had reached the limit of
the years of man. Here and there we trace in them an echo of his youth.
The Platonic dialogues he heard while yet a young man at the suppers of
Lorenzo, reappear converted to the very substance of his thought and
style. At the same time Savonarola resumes ascendency over his mind; and
when he turns to Florence, it is of Dante that he speaks.

At last the moment came when this strong solitary spirit, much suffering
and much loving, had to render its account. It appears from a letter
written to Lionardo Buonarroti on February 15, 1564, that his old servant
Antonio del Francese, the successor of Urbino in his household, together
with Tommaso Cavalieri and Daniello Ricciarelli of Volterra, attended him
in his last illness. On the 18th of that month, having bequeathed his
soul to God, his body to the earth, and his worldly goods to his kinsfolk,
praying them on their death-bed to think upon Christ's passion, he
breathed his last. His corpse was transported to Florence, and buried in
the church of S. Croce, with great pomp and honour, by the Duke, the city,
and the Florentine Academy.


[289] See Vasari, vol. xii. p. 333, and Gotti's _Vita di Michelangelo
Buonarroti_, vol. i. p. 4, for a discussion of this claim, and for a
letter written by Alessandro Count of Canossa, in 1520, to the artist.

[290] That Michael Angelo was contemptuous to brother artists, is proved
by what Torrigiani said to Cellini: "Aveva per usanza di uccellare tutti
quelli che dissegnavano." He called Perugino _goffo_, told Francia's son
that his father made handsomer men by night than by day, and cast in
Lionardo's teeth that he could not finish the equestrian statue of the
Duke of Milan. It is therefore not improbable that when, according to the
legend, he corrected a drawing of Ghirlandajo's, he may have said things
unendurable to the elder painter.

[291] Engraved in outline in Harford's _Illustrations of the Genius of
Michael Angelo Buonarroti_, Colnaghi, 1857.

[292] This group, placed in S. Peter's, was made for the French Cardinal
de Saint Denys. It should be said that the first work of Michael Angelo
in Rome was the "Bacchus" now in the Florentine Bargello, executed for
Jacopo Gallo, a Roman gentleman.

[293] Pitti approved of the form of government represented by Soderini.
Machiavelli despised the want of decision that made him quit Florence,
and the euêtheia of the man. Hence their curiously conflicting

[294] See the chapter entitled "Della Malitia e pessíme Conditioni del
Tyranno," in Savonarola's "Tractato circa el reggimento e governo della
Citta di Firenze composto ad instantia delli excelsi Signori al tempo di
Giuliano Salviati, Gonfaloniere di Justitia." A more terrible picture has
never been drawn by any analyst of human vice and cruelty and weakness.

[295] Guasti's edition of the _Rime_, p. 26.

[296] He defends himself thus in a letter to Lodovico Buonarroti: "Del
caso dei Medici io non ò mai parlato contra di loro cosa nessuna, se non
in quel modo che s' è parlato generalmente per ogn' uomo, come fu del
caso di Prato; che se le pietre avessin saputo parlare, n' avrebbono

[297] It seems clear from the correspondence in the Archivio Buonarroti,
recently published, that when Michael Angelo fled from Florence to Venice
in 1529, he did so under the pressure of no ignoble panic, but because
his life was threatened by a traitor, acting possibly at the secret
instance of Malatesta Baglioni. See Heath Wilson, pp. 326-330.

[298] See Guasti, p. 4.

[299] Vol. I., _Age of the Despots_, p. 251.

[300] To these years we must also assign the two unfinished medallions of
"Madonna and the infant Christ," the circular oil picture of the "Holy
Family," painted for Angelo Doni, and the beautiful unfinished picture of
"Madonna with the boy Jesus and S. John" in the National Gallery. The
last of these works is one of the loveliest of Michael Angelo's
productions, whether we regard the symmetry of its composition or the
refinement of its types. The two groups of two boys standing behind the
central group on either hand of the Virgin, have incomparable beauty of
form. The supreme style of the Sistine is here revealed to us in embryo.
Whether the "Entombment," also unfinished, and also in the National
Gallery, belongs to this time, and whether it be Michael Angelo's at all,
is a matter for the experts to decide. To my perception, it is quite
unworthy of the painter of the Doni "Holy family;" nor can I think that
his want of practice in oil-painting will explain its want of charm and

[301] It has long been believed that Baccio Bandinelli destroyed Michael
Angelo's; but Grimm, in his Life of the sculptor (vol. i. p. 376, Eng.
Tr.), adduces solid arguments against this legend. A few studies,
together with the engravings of portions by Marc Antonio and Agostino
Veneziano, enable us to form a notion of the composition. At Holkham
there is an old copy of the larger portion of the cartoon, which has been
engraved by Schiavonetti, and reproduced in Harford's _Illustrations_,
plate x.

[302] _Vita_, p. 23. Cellini, the impassioned admirer of Michael Angelo,
esteemed this cartoon so highly, that he writes: "Sebbene il divino
Michelagnolo fece la gran cappella di Papa Julio da poi, non arrivò mai a
questo segno alla meta: la sua virtù non aggiunse mai da poi alla forza
di quei primi studj."

[303] The cartoon was probably exhibited in 1505. See Gotti, vol. i. p.

[304] Gotti, pp. 277-282.

[305] Springer, in his essay, _Michael Agnolo in Rome_, p. 21, makes out
that this large design was not conceived till after the death of Julius.
It is difficult to form a clear notion of the many changes in the plan of
the tomb, between 1505 and 1542, when Michael Angelo signed the last
contract with the heirs of Julius.

[306] In the Uffizzi at Florence. See Heath Wilson, plate vi.

[307] Boboli Gardens, Bargello, Louvre. These captives are unfinished.
The "Rachel" and "Leah" at S. Pietro in Vincoli were committed to pupils
by Michael Angelo.

[308] "Che mi fosso messo a fare zolfanelli.... Son ogni di lapidato,
come se havessi crucifisso Cristo.... io mi truovo avere perduta tutta la
mia giovinezza legato a questa sepoltura."

[309] Gotti, p. 42. Grimm makes two visits to Carrara in 1505 and 1506,
vol. i. pp. 239, 243.

[310] See his letter. Gotti, p. 44.

[311] Our authorities for this episode in Michael Angelo's biography are
mainly Vasari and Condivi. Though there may be exaggeration in the
legend, it is certain that a correspondence took place between the Pope
and the Gonfalonier of Florence, to bring about his return. See Heath
Wilson, pp. 79-87, and the letter to Giuliano di San Gallo in Milanesi's
Archivio Buonarroti, p. 377. Michael Angelo appears to have had some
reason to fear assassination in Rome.

[312] See Michael Angelo's letters to Giovan Francesco Fattucci, and his
family. Gotti, pp. 55-65.

[313] See the sonnet to Giovanni da Pistoja:--

             La mia pittura morta
    Difendi orma', Giovanni, e 'l mio onore,
    Non sendo in loco bon, nè io pittore.

[314] According to the first plan, Michael Angelo bargained with the Pope
for twelve Apostles in the lunettes, and another part to be filled with
ornament in the usual manner--"dodici Apostoli nelle lunette, e 'l resto
un certo partimento ripieno d' adornamenti come si usa." Michael Angelo,
after making designs for this commission, told the Pope he thought the
roof would look poor, because the Apostles were poor folk--"perchè furon
poveri anche loro." He then began his cartoons for the vault as it now
exists. See the letter to Ser Giovan Francesco Fattucci, in the _Archivio
Buonarroti_, Milanesi, pp. 426-427. This seems to be the foundation for
an old story of the Pope's complaining that the Sistine roof looked poor
without gilding, and Michael Angelo's reply that the Biblical personages
depicted there were but poor people.

[315] Bramante, the Pope's architect, did in truth fail to construct the
proper scaffolding, whether through inability or jealousy. Michael Angelo
designed a superior system of his own, which became a model for future
architects in similar constructions.

[316] See chapters vi. vii. and viii. of Mr. Charles Heath Wilson's
admirable _Life of Michel Angelo_. Aurelio Gotti's _Vita di Michel
Agnolo_, and Anton Springer's _Michael Agnolo in Rome_, deserve to be
consulted on this passage in the painter's biography.

[317] The conditions under which Michael Angelo worked, without a trained
band of pupils, must have struck contemporaries, accustomed to Raphael's
crowds of assistants, with a wonder that justified Vasari's emphatic
language of exaggeration as to his single-handed labour.

[318] In speaking of the Sistine I have treated Michael Angelo as a
sculptor, and it was a sculptor who designed those frescoes. _Nè io
pittore_ is his own phrase. Compare an autotype of "Adam" in the Sistine
with one of "Twilight" in S. Lorenzo: it is clear that in the former
Michael Angelo painted what he would have been well pleased to carve. A
sculptor's genius was needed for the modelling of those many figures; it
was, moreover, not a painter's part to deal thus drily with colour.

[319] The Laurentian Library, however, was built in 1524.

[320] See Gotti, pp. 150, 155, 158, 159, for the correspondence which
passed upon the subject, and the various alterations in the plan. As in
the case of all Michael Angelo's works, except the Sistine, only a small
portion of the original project was executed.

[321] Cosimo de' Medici found it impossible to induce him to return to
Florence. See B. Cellini's Life, p. 436, for his way of receiving the
Duke's overtures.

[322] See above, Chapter II, Michael Angelo.

[323] Vasari names the gloomy statue, called by the Italians _Il
Penseroso_, "Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino," the sprightly one, "Giuliano, Duke
of Nemours;" and this contemporary tradition has been recently confirmed
by an inspection of the Penseroso's tomb (see a letter to the _Academy_,
March 13, 1875, by Mr. Charles Heath Wilson). Grimm, in his _Life of
Michael Angelo_, gave plausible aesthetic reasons why we should reverse
the nomenclature; but the discovery of two bodies beneath the Penseroso,
almost certainly those of Lorenzo and his supposed son Alessandro,
justifies Vasari. Neither of these statues can be accepted as a portrait.

[324] The "Bacchus" of the Bargello, the "David," the "Christ," of the
Minerva, the "Duke of Nemours," and the almost finished "Night," might
also be mentioned. His chalk drawings of the "Bersaglieri," the "Infant
Bacchanals," the "Fall of Phaëthon," and the "Punishment of Tityos," now
in the Royal Collection at Windsor, prove that even in old age Michael
Angelo carried delicacy of execution as a draughtsman to a point not
surpassed even by Lionardo. Few frescoes, again, were ever finished with
more conscientious elaboration than those of the Sistine vault.

[325] See Varchi, at the end of the _Storia Fiorentina_, for episodes in
the life of Pier Luigi Farnese, and Cellini for a popular estimate of the
Cardinal, his father.

[326] This extract from Cesare Balbo's _Pensieri sulla Storia d' Italia_,
Le Monnier, 1858, p. 57, may help to explain the situation: "E se
lasciando gli uomini e i nomi grandi de' governanti, noi venissimo a
quella storia, troppo sovente negletta, dei piccoli, dei più, dei
governati che sono in somma scopo d' ogni sorta di governo; se, coll'
aiuto delle tante memorie rimaste di quell' secolo, noi ci addestrassimo
a conoscere la condizione comune e privata degli Italiani di quell' età,
noi troveremmo trasmesse dai governanti a' governati, e ritornate da
questi a quelli, tali universali scostumatezze ed immoralità, tali
fiacchezze e perfidie, tali mollezze e libidini, tali ozi e tali vizi,
tali avvilimenti insomma e corruzioni, che sembrano appena credibili in
una età d' incivilmento cristiano."

[327] Vasari's description moves our laughter with its jargon about
"attitudini bellissime e scorti molto mirabili," when the man, in spite
of his honest and enthusiastic admiration, is so little capable of
penetrating the painter's thought. Mr. Ruskin leaves the same impression
as Vasari: he too makes much talk about attitudes and muscles in Michael
Angelo, and seems to be on Vasari's level as to comprehending him. The
difference is that Vasari praises, Ruskin blames; both miss the mark.

[328] "È possibile che voi, che _per essere divino non degnate il
consortio degli huomini_, haviate ciò fatto nel maggior tempio di
Dio?.... In un bagno delitioso, non in un choro supremo si conveniva il
far vostro." Those who are curious may consult Aretino's correspondence
with Michael Angelo in his published letters (Parigi, 1609), lib. i. p.
153; lib. ii. p. 9; lib. iii. pp. 45, 122; lib. iv. p. 37.

[329] Braun's autotypes of the vault frescoes show what ravage the lapse
of time has wrought in them, by the cracking of the plaster, the peeling
off in places of the upper surface, and the deposit of dirt and cobwebs.
Mr. Heath Wilson, after careful examination, pronounces that not only
time, but the wilful hand of man, re-painting and washing the delicate
tint-coats with corrosive acids, has contributed to their ruin.

[330] _Histoire de la Peinture en Italie_, p. 332.

[331] That is not counting the frescoes of the Cappella Paolina in the
Vatican, painted about 1544, which are now in a far worse state even than
the "Last Judgment," and which can never have done more than show his
style in decadence.

[332] See above, Chapter II, S. Peter's.

[333] See Gotti, p. 307, or _Archivio Buonarroti_, p. 535.

[334] I have reserved my translation of the sonnets that cast most light
upon Michael Angelo's thought and feeling for an Appendix, No. II.

[335] The majority of Michael Angelo's letters are written on domestic
matters--about the affairs of his brothers and his father. When they
vexed him, he would break out into expressions like the following: "Io
son ito, da dodici anni in qua, tapinando per tutta Italia; sopportato
ogni vergognia; patito ogni stento; lacerato il corpo mio in ogni fatica;
messa la vita propria a mille pericoli, solo per aiutar la casa mia."
They are generally full of good counsel and sound love. How he loved his
father may be seen in the _terza rima_ poem on his death in 1534.

[336] Notice this expression in a letter to his father, written from
Rome, about 1512, "Bastivi avere del pane, e vivete ben con Cristo e
poveramente; come fo io qua, che vivo meschinamente." It does not seem
that he ever altered this poor way of living. For his hiring at Bologna,
in 1507, a single room with one bed in it, for himself and his three
workmen, see Gotti, p. 58. His father in 1500 rebuked him for the
meanness of his establishment; _ibid_. p. 23. It appears that he was
always sending money home.

[337] "Io sto qua in grande afanno, e con grandissima fatica di corpo, e
non ò amici di nessuna sorte, e none voglio: e non ò tanto tempo che io
possa mangiare el bisognio mio." Letter to Gismondo, published by Grimm.
See, too, Sebastian del Piombo's letter to him of November 9, 1520: "Ma
fate paura a ognuno, insino a' papi." Compare, too, the letter of
Sebastian, Oct. 15, 1512, in which Julius is reported to have said, "È
terribile, come tu vedi, non se pol praticar con lui." Again, Michael
Angelo writes: "Sto sempesolo, vo poco attorno e non parlo a persona e
massino di fiorentini." Gotti, p. 255.

[338] When anything went wrong with him, he became moody and vehement:
"Non vi maravigliate che io vi abbi scritto alle volte cosi stizosamente,
che io ò alle volte di gran passione, per molte cagioni che avengono a
chi è fuor di casa." So he writes to his father in 1498. A letter to
Luigi del Riccio of 1545, is signed "Michelagnolo Buonarroti non pittore,
nè scultore, nè architettore, ma quel che voi volete, ma none briaco,
come vi dissi, in casa."

[339] See the letters of Cosimo de' Medici, Gotti, pp. 301-313, the
letter of Count Alessandro da Canossa, _ibid._ p. 4, and Pier Vettori's
letter to Borghini, about the visit of some German gentlemen, _ibid._ p.

[340] See the story as told by Torrigiani himself in Cellini, ed. Le
Monnier, p. 23.

[341] After saying that he talked of love like Plato, Condivi continues:
"Non senti mai uscir di quella bocca se non parole onestissime, e che
avevan forza d' estinguere nella gioventù ogni incomposto e sfrenato
desiderio che in lei potesse cadere." Compare Scipione Ammirato, quoted
by Guasti, "Le Rime," p. xi.

[342] Her intense affection for the Marquis of Pescara, to whom she had
been betrothed by her father at the age of five, is sufficiently proved
by those many sonnets and _canzoni_ in which she speaks of him as her

[343] See Grimm, vol. ii.

[344] See the Sonnets translated in my Appendix and in my _Sonnets of
Michael Angelo and Campanella_, London, Smith & Elder, 1878. See also the
letters to Cavalieri, quoted by Gotti, pp. 231, 232, 234. It is surely
strained criticism to conjecture, as Gotti has done, that these epistles
were meant for Vittoria, though written to Cavalieri. Taken together with
the sonnets and the letter of Bartolommeo Angiolini (Gotti, p. 233), they
seem to me to prove only Michael Angelo's warm love for this young man.



His Fame--His Autobiography--Its Value for the Student of History,
Manners, and Character, in the Renaissance--Birth, Parentage, and
Boyhood--Flute-playing--Apprenticeship to Marcone--Wanderjahr--The
Goldsmith's Trade at Florence--Torrigiani and England--Cellini leaves
Florence for Rome--Quarrel with the Guasconti--Homicidal Fury--Cellini a
Law to Himself--Three Periods in his Manhood--Life in Rome--Diego at the
Banquet--Renaissance Feeling for Physical Beauty--Sack of Rome--Miracles
in Cellini's Life--His Affections--Murder of his Brother's
Assassin--Sanctuary--Pardon and Absolution--Incantation in the
Colosseum--First Visit to France--Adventures on the Way--Accused of
Stealing Crown Jewels in Rome--Imprisonment in the Castle of S.
Angelo--The Governor--Cellini's Escape--His Visions--The Nature of his
Religion--Second Visit to France--The Wandering Court--Le Petit
Nesle--Cellini in the French Law Courts--Scene at Fontainebleau--Return to
Florence--Cosimo de' Medici as a Patron--Intrigues of a petty
Court--Bandinelli--The Duchess--Statue of Perseus--End of Cellini's
Life--Cellini and Machiavelli.

Few names in the history of Italian art are more renowned than that of
Benvenuto Cellini. This can hardly be attributed to the value of his
extant works; for though, while he lived, he was the greatest goldsmith of
his time, a skilled medallist and an admirable statuary, few of his many
masterpieces now survive. The plate and armour that bear his name, are
only in some rare instances genuine; and the bronze "Perseus" in the
Loggia de' Lanzi at Florence remains almost alone to show how high he
ranked among the later Tuscan sculptors. If, therefore, Cellini had been
judged merely by the authentic productions of his art, he would not have
acquired a celebrity unique among his fellow-workers of the sixteenth
century. That fame he owes to the circumstance that he left behind him at
his death a full and graphic narrative of his stormy life. The vivid style
of this autobiography dictated by Cellini while still engaged in the
labour of his craft, its animated picture of a powerful character, the
variety of its incidents, and the amount of information it contains, place
it high both as a life-romance and also as a record of contemporary
history. After studying the laboured periods of Varchi, we turn to these
memoirs, and view the same events from the standpoint of an artisan
conveying his impressions with plebeian raciness of phrase. The sack of
Rome, the plague and siege of Florence, the humiliation of Clement VII.,
the pomp of Charles V. at Rome, the behaviour of the Florentine exiles at
Ferrara, the intimacy between Alessandro de' Medici and his murderer,
Lorenzino, the policy of Paul III., and the method pursued by Cosimo at
Florence, are briefly but significantly touched upon--no longer by the
historian seeking causes and setting forth the sequence of events, but by
a shrewd observer interested in depicting his own part in the great game
of life. Cellini haunted the private rooms of popes and princes; he knew
the chief actors of his day, just as the valet knows the hero; and the
picturesque glimpses into their life we gain from him, add the charm of
colour and reality to history.

At the same time this book presents an admirable picture of an artist's
life at Rome, Paris, and Florence. Cellini was essentially an Italian of
the Cinque-cento. His passions were the passions of his countrymen; his
vices were the vices of his time; his eccentricity and energy and vital
force were what the age idealised as _virtù_. Combining rare artistic
gifts with a most violent temper and a most obstinate will, he paints
himself at one time as a conscientious craftsman, at another as a
desperate bravo. He obeys his instincts and indulges his appetites with
the irreflective simplicity of an animal. In the pursuit of vengeance and
the commission of murder he is self-reliant, coolly calculating, fierce
and fatal as a tiger. Yet his religious fervour is sincere; his impulses
are generous; and his heart on the whole is good. His vanity is
inordinate; and his unmistakable courage is impaired, to Northern
apprehension, by swaggering bravado.

The mixture of these qualities in a personality so natural and so clearly
limned renders Cellini a most precious subject for the student of
Renaissance life and character. Even supposing him to have been
exceptionally passionate, he was made of the same stuff as his
contemporaries. We are justified in concluding this not only from
collateral evidence and from what he tells us, but also from the meed of
honour he received. In Europe of the present day he could hardly fail to
be regarded as a ruffian, a dangerous disturber of morality and order. In
his own age he was held in high esteem and buried by his fellow-citizens
with public ceremonies. A funeral oration was pronounced over his grave
"in praise both of his life and works, and also of his excellent
disposition of mind and body."[345] He dictated the memoirs that paint him
as bloodthirsty, sensual, and revengeful, in the leisure of his old age,
and left them with complacency to serve as witness of his manly virtues to
posterity. Even Vasari, whom he hated, and who reciprocated his ill-will,
records that "he always showed himself a man of great spirit and veracity,
bold, active, enterprising, and formidable to his enemies; a man, in
short, who knew as well how to speak to princes as to exert himself in his

Enough has been said to prove that Cellini was not inferior to the average
morality of the Renaissance, and that we are justified in accepting his
life as a valuable historical document.[346] To give a detailed account of
a book pronounced by Horace Walpole "more amusing than any novel,"
received by Parini and Tiraboschi as the most delightful masterpiece of
Italian prose, translated into German by Goethe, and placed upon his index
of select works by Auguste Comte, may seem superfluous. Yet I cannot
afford to omit from my plan the most singular and characteristic episode
in the private history of the Italian Renaissance. I need it for the
concrete illustration of much that has been said in this and the preceding
volumes of my work.

Cellini was born of respectable parents at Florence on the night of All
Saints' Day in 1500, and was called Benvenuto to record his father's joy
at having a son.[347] It was the wish of Giovanni Cellini's heart that his
son should be a musician. Benvenuto in consequence practised the flute for
many years attentively, though much against his will. At the age of
fifteen so great was his desire to learn the arts of design that his
father placed him under the care of the goldsmith Marcone. At the same
time he tells us in his memoirs: "I continued to play sometimes through
complaisance to my father either upon the flute or the horn; and I
constantly drew tears and deep sighs from him every time he heard me."
While engaged in the workshop of Marcone, Benvenuto came to blows with
some young men who had attacked his brother, and was obliged to leave
Florence for a time. At this period he visited Siena, Bologna, and Pisa,
gaming his livelihood by working in the shops of goldsmiths, and steadily
advancing in his art.

It must not be thought that this education was a mean one for so great an
artist. Painting and sculpture in Italy were regarded as trades, and the
artist had his _bottega_ just as much as the cobbler or the
blacksmith.[348] I have already had occasion to point out that an
apprenticeship to goldsmith's work was considered at Florence an almost
indispensable commencement of advanced art-study.[349] Brunelleschi,
Botticelli, Orcagna, Verocchio, Ghiberti, Pollajuolo, Ghirlandajo, Luca
della Robbia, all underwent this training before they applied themselves
to architecture, painting, and sculpture. As the goldsmith's craft was
understood in Florence, it exacted the most exquisite nicety in
performance as well as design. It forced the student to familiarise
himself with the materials, instruments, and technical processes of art;
so that, later on in life, he was not tempted to leave the execution of
his work to journeymen and hirelings.[350] No labour seemed too minute, no
metal was too mean, for the exercise of the master-workman's skill; nor
did he run the risk of becoming one of those half-amateurs in whom
accomplishment falls short of first conception. Art ennobled for him all
that he was called to do. Whether cardinals required him to fashion silver
vases for their banquet-tables; or ladies wished the setting of their
jewels altered; or a pope wanted the enamelled binding of a book of
prayers; or men-at-arms sent swordblades to be damascened with acanthus
foliage; or kings desired fountains and statues for their palace courts;
or poets begged to have their portraits cast in bronze; or generals needed
medals to commemorate their victories, or dukes new coins for their mint;
or bishops ordered reliquaries for the altars of their patron saints; or
merchants sought for seals and signet rings engraved with their device; or
men of fashion asked for medallions of Leda and Adonis to fasten in their
caps--all these commissions could be undertaken by a workman like Cellini.
He was prepared for all alike by his apprenticeship to _orfevria_; and to
all he gave the same amount of conscientious toil. The consequence was
that, at the time of the Renaissance, furniture, plate, jewels, and
articles of personal adornment were objects of true art. The mind of the
craftsman was exercised afresh in every piece of work. Pretty things were
not bought, machine-made, by the gross in a warehouse; nor was it
customary, as now it is, to see the same design repeated with mechanical
regularity in every house.

In 1518 Benvenuto returned to Florence and began to study the cartoons of
Michael Angelo. He must have already acquired considerable reputation as a
workman, for about this time Torrigiani invited him to go to England in
his company and enter the service of Henry VIII. The Renaissance was now
beginning to penetrate the nations of the North, and Henry and Francis
vied with each other in trying to attract foreign artists to their
capitals. It does not, however, appear that the English king secured the
services of men so distinguished as Lionardo da Vinci, II Rosso,
Primaticcio, Del Sarto, and Cellini, who shed an artificial lustre on the
Court of France. Going to London then was worse than going to Russia now,
and to take up a lengthy residence among _questi diavoli ... quelle bestie
di quegli Inglesi_, as Cellini politely calls the English, did not suit a
Southern taste. He had, moreover, private reasons for disliking
Torrigiani, who boasted of having broken Michael Angelo's nose in a
quarrel. "His words," says Cellini, "raised in me such a hatred of the
fellow that, far from wishing to accompany him to England, I could not
bear to look at him." It may be mentioned that one of Cellini's best
points was hero-worship for Michael Angelo. He never speaks of him except
as _quel divino Michel Agnolo, il mio maestro_, and extols _la bella
maniera_ of the mighty sculptor to the skies. Torrigiani, as far as we can
gather from Cellini's description of him, must have been a man of his own
kidney and complexion: "he was handsome, of consummate assurance, having
rather the airs of a bravo than a sculptor; above all, his fierce gestures
and his sonorous voice, with a peculiar manner of knitting his brows, were
enough to frighten everyone that saw him; and he was continually talking
of his valiant feats among those bears of Englishmen." The story of
Torrigiani's death in Spain is worth repeating. A grandee employed him to
model a Madonna, which he did with more than usual care, expecting a great
reward. His pay, however, falling short of is expectation, in a fit of
fury he knocked his statue to pieces. For this act of sacrilege, as it was
deemed, to the work of his own brain and hand, Torrigiani was thrown into
the dungeons of the Inquisition. There he starved himself to death in 1522
in order to escape the fate of being burned. This story helps to explain
why the fine arts were never well developed in Spain, and why they
languished after the introduction of the Holy Office into Italy.[351]

Instead of emigrating to England, Benvenuto, after a quarrel with his
father about the obnoxious flute-playing, sauntered out one morning toward
the gate of S. Piero Gattolini. There he met a friend called Tasso, who
had also quarrelled with his parents; and the two youths agreed, upon the
moment, to set off for Rome. Both were nineteen years of age. Singing and
laughing, carrying their bundle by turns, and wondering "what the old
folks would say," they trudged on foot to Siena, there hired a return
horse between them, and so came to Rome. This residence in Rome only
lasted two years, which were spent by Cellini in the employment of various
masters. At the expiration of that time he returned to Florence, and
distinguished himself by the making of a marriage girdle for a certain
Raffaello Lapaccini.[352] The fame of this and other pieces of jewellery
roused against him the envy and malice of the elder goldsmiths, and led to
a serious fray, in the course of which he assaulted a young man of the
Guasconti family, and was obliged to fly disguised like a monk to Rome.

As this is the first of Cellini's homicidal quarrels, it is worth while to
transcribe what he says about it. "One day as I was leaning against the
shop of these Guasconti, and talking with them, they contrived that a load
of bricks should pass by at the moment, and Gherardo Guasconti pushed it
against me in such wise that it hurt me. Turning suddenly and seeing that
he was laughing, I struck him so hard upon the temple that he fell down
stunned. Then turning to his cousins, I said, That is how I treat cowardly
thieves like you; and when they began to show fight, being many together,
I, finding myself on flame, set hand to a little knife I had, and cried,
If one of you leaves the shop, let another run for the confessor, for a
surgeon won't find anything to do here." Nor was he contented with this
truculent behaviour; for when Gherardo recovered from his blow, and the
matter had come before the magistrates, Cellini went to seek him in his
own house. There he stabbed him in the midst of all his family, raging
meanwhile, to use his own phrase, "like an infuriated bull."[353] It
appears that on this occasion no one was seriously hurt; but the affair
proved perilous to Cellini, since it was a mere accident that he had not
killed more than one of the Guasconti. These affrays recur continually
among the adventures recorded by Cellini in his Life. He says with comical
reservation of phrase that he was "naturally somewhat choleric;" and then,
describes the access of his fury as a sort of fever, lasting for days,
preventing him from taking food or sleep, making his blood boil in his
veins, inflaming his eyes, and never suffering him to rest till he
revenged himself by murder or at least by blows. To enumerate all the
people he killed or wounded, or pounded to a jelly in public brawls or
private quarrels, in the pursuit of deliberate _vendetta_ or under a
sudden impulse of ungovernable rage, would take too long. We are forced by
an effort to recall to mind the state of society at that time in Italy, in
order to understand how it is that he can talk with unconcern and even
self-complacency about his homicides. He makes himself accuser, judge, and
executioner, and is quite satisfied with the goodness of his cause, the
justice of his sentence, and the equity of his administration. In a sonnet
written to Bandinelli, he compares his own victims with the mangled
statues of that sculptor, much to his own satisfaction.[354]

There is the same callousness of conscience in his record of spiteful acts
that we should blush to think of--stabs in the dark, and such a piece of
revenge as cutting the beds to bits in the house of an innkeeper who had
offended him.[355] Nor does he speak with any shame of the savage cruelty
with which he punished a woman who was sitting to him as a model, and whom
he hauled up and down his room by the hair of her head, kicking and
beating her till he was tired.[356] It is true that on this occasion he
regrets having spoiled, in a moment of blind passion, the best arms and
legs that he could find to draw from. Such episodes, to which it is
impossible to allude otherwise than very briefly, illustrate with
extraordinary vividness what I have already had occasion to say about the
Italian sense of honour at this period.[357]

The consciousness of physical courage and the belief in his own moral
superiority sustained Cellini in all his dangers and in all his crimes.
Armed with his sword and dagger, and protected by his coat of mail, he was
ready to stand against the world and fight his way towards any object he
desired. When a man opposed his schemes or entered into competition with
him as an artist, he swaggered up with hand on hilt and threatened to run
him through the body if he did not mind his business. At the same time he
attributes the success of his own violence in quelling and maltreating
his opponents to the providence of God. "I do not write this narrative,"
he says, "from a motive of vanity, but merely to return thanks to God, who
has extricated me out of so many trials and difficulties; who likewise
delivers me from those that daily impend over me. Upon all occasions I pay
my devotions to Him, call upon Him as my defender, and recommend myself to
His care. I always exert my utmost efforts to extricate myself, but when I
am quite at a loss, and all my powers fail me, then the force of the Deity
displays itself--that formidable force which, unexpectedly, strikes those
who wrong and oppress others, and neglect the great and honourable duty
which God has enjoined on them." I shall have occasion later on to discuss
Cellini's religious opinions; but here it may be remarked that the feeling
of this passage is thoroughly sincere and consistent with the spirit of
the times. The separation between religion and morality was complete in
Italy.[358] Men made their own God and worshipped him; and the God of
Cellini was one who always helped those who began to help themselves by
taking justice into their own hands.

From the date of his second visit to Rome in 1523, Cellini's life divides
itself into three periods, the first spent in the service of Popes Clement
VII. and Paul III., the second in Paris at the Court of Francis, and the
third at Florence under Cosimo de' Medici.

On arriving in Rome, his extraordinary abilities soon brought him into
notice at the Court. The Chigi family, the Bishop of Salamanca, and the
Pope himself employed him to make various jewels, ornaments, and services
of plate. In consequence of a dream in which his father appeared and
warned him not to neglect music, under pain of the paternal malediction,
he accepted a post in the Papal band. The old bugbear of flute-playing
followed him until his father's death, and then we hear no more of it. The
history of this portion of his life is among the most entertaining
passages of his biography. Drawing the Roman ruins, shooting pigeons,
scouring the Campagna on a pony like a shaggy bear, fighting duels,
prosecuting love-affairs, defending his shop against robbers, skirmishing
with Moorish pirates on the shore by Cerveterra, stabbing, falling ill of
the plague and the French sickness--these adventures diversify the account
he gives of masterpieces in gold and silver ware. The literary and
artistic society of Rome at this period was very brilliant. Painters,
sculptors, and goldsmiths mixed with scholars and poets, passing their
time alternately in the palaces of dukes and cardinals and in the lodgings
of gay women. Bohemianism of the wildest type was combined with the
manners of the great world. A little incident described at some length by
Cellini brings this varied life before us. There was a club of artists,
including Giulio Romano and other pupils of Raphael, who met twice a week
to sup together and to spend the evening in conversation, with music and
the recitation of sonnets. Each member of this company brought with him a
lady. Cellini, on one occasion, not being provided for the moment with an
_innamorata_, dressed up a beautiful Spanish youth called Diego as a
woman, and took him to the supper. The ensuing scene is described in the
most vivid manner. We see before us the band of painters and poets, the
women in their bright costumes, the table adorned with flowers and fruit,
and, as a background to the whole picture, a trellis of jasmines with dark
foliage and starry blossoms. Diego, called Pomona, with regard doubtless
to his dark and ruddy beauty, is unanimously proclaimed the fairest of the
fair. Then a discovery of his sex is made; and the adventure leads, as
usual in the doings of Cellini, to daggers, midnight ambushes, and
vendettas that only end with bloodshed.

An episode of this sort may serve as the occasion for observing that the
artists of the late Renaissance had become absorbed in the admiration of
merely carnal beauty. With the exception of Michael Angelo and Tintoretto,
there was no great master left who still pursued an intellectual ideal.
The Romans and the Venetians simply sought and painted what was splendid
and luxurious in the world around them. Their taste was contented with
well-developed muscles, gorgeous colour, youthful bloom, activity of limb,
and grace of outline. The habits of the day, voluptuous yet hardy,
fostered this one-sided development of the arts; while the asceticism of
the Middle Ages had yielded to a pagan cult of sensuality. To draw _un bel
corpo ignudo_ with freedom was now the _ne plus ultra_ of achievement. How
to express thought or to indicate the subtleties of emotion, had ceased to
be the artist's aim. We have already noticed the passionate love of beauty
which animated the great masters of the golden age. This, in the less
elevated natures of the craftsmen who succeeded them, and under the
conditions of advancing national corruption, was no longer refined or
restrained by delicacy of feeling or by loftiness of aim. It degenerated
into soulless animalism. The capacity for perceiving and for reproducing
what is nobly beautiful was lost. Vulgarity and coarseness stamped
themselves upon the finest work of men like Giulio Romano. At this crisis
it was proved how inferior was the neo-paganism of the sixteenth century
to the paganism of antiquity it aped. Mythology preserved Greek art from
degradation, and connected a similar enthusiasm for corporeal beauty with
the thoughts and aspirations of the Hellenic race. The Italians lacked
this safeguard of a natural religion. To throw the Christian ideal aside,
and to strive to grasp the classical ideal in exchange, was easy. But
paganism alone could give them nothing but its vices; it was incapable of
communicating its real source of life--its poetry, its faith, its cult of
nature. Art, therefore, as soon as the artists pronounced themselves for
sensuality, merged in a skilful selection and reproduction of elegant
forms, and nothing more. A handsome youth upon a pedestal was called a
god. A duke's mistress on Titian's canvas passed for Aphrodite. Andrea del
Sarto's faithless wife figured as Madonna. Cellini himself, though
sensitive to every kind of physical beauty--as we gather from what he
tells us of Cencio, Diego, Faustina, Paolino, Angelica, Ascanio--has not
attempted to animate his "Perseus," or his "Ganymede," or his "Diana of
Fontainebleau," with a vestige of intellectual or moral loveliness. The
vacancy of their expression proves the degradation of an art that had
ceased to idealise anything beyond a faultless body. Not thus did the
Greeks imagine even their most sensual divinities. There is at least a
thought in Faun and Satyr. Cellini's statues have no thought; their blank
animalism corresponds to the condition of their maker's soul.[359]

When Rome was carried by assault in 1527, and the Papal Court was besieged
in the castle of S. Angelo, Cellini played the part of bombardier. It is
well known that he claims to have shot the Constable of Bourbon dead with
his own hand, and to have wounded the Prince of Orange; nor does there
seem to be any adequate reason for discrediting his narrative. It is
certain that he was an expert marksman, and that he did Clement good
service by directing the artillery of S. Angelo. If we believed all his
assertions, however, we should have to suppose that nothing memorable
happened without his intervention. In his own eyes his whole life was a
miracle. The very hailstones that fell upon his head could not be grasped
in both hands. His guns and powder brought down birds no other marksman
had a chance of hitting. When he was a child, he grasped a scorpion
without injury, and saw a salamander "living and enjoying himself in the
hottest flames." After his fever at Rome in 1535, he threw off from his
stomach a hideous worm--hairy, speckled with green, black, and red--the
like whereof the doctors never saw.[360] When he finally escaped from the
dungeons of S. Angelo in 1539, a luminous appearance like an aureole
settled on his head, and stayed there for the rest of his life.[361] These
facts are related in the true spirit of Jerome Cardan, Paracelsus, Lord
Herbert of Cherbury, and Sir Thomas Browne. Cellini doubtless believed in
them; but they warn us to be cautious in accepting what he says about his
exploits, since imagination and self-conceit could so far distort his

It may be regretted that Cellini has not given a fuller account of the
memorable sack of Borne. Yet, confining himself almost wholly to his own
adventures, he presents a very vivid picture of the sad life led by the
Pope and cardinals, vainly hoping for succour from Urbino, wrangling
together about the causes of the tragedy, sewing the crown jewels into
their doublets, and running the perils of the siege with common soldiers
on the ramparts. When peace at last was signed, Cellini paid a visit to
Florence, and found that his father and some other relatives had died of
plague.[362] His brother Cecchino, however, who was a soldier in the Bande
Nere of Giovanni de' Medici, and his sister Liperata survived. With them
he spent a pleasant evening; for Liperata having "for a while lamented her
father, her sister, her husband, and a little son that she had been
deprived of, went to prepare supper, and during the rest of the evening
there was not a word more spoken of the dead, but much about weddings.
Thus we supped together with the greatest cheerfulness and satisfaction
imaginable." In these sentences there is no avowal of hard-heartedness;
only the careless familiarity with loss and danger, engendered by war,
famine, plague, and personal adventures in those riotous times.[363]
Cellini gladly risked his life in a quarrel for his friends; but he would
not sadden the present by reflecting on inevitable accidents. This elastic
temper permeates his character. His affections were strong, but transient.
The one serious love-affair he describes, among a multitude of mere
debaucheries, made him miserable for a few days. His mistress, Angelica,
ran away, and left him "on the point of losing his senses or dying of
grief." Yet, when he found her again, a short time sufficed to satisfy his
longing, and he turned his back with jibes upon her when she bargained
about money.

It is worthy of notice that, at the same time, he was an excellent son and
brother. His sister was left a widow with two children; whereupon he took
them all into his house, without bragging about what appears to have been
the best action of his life. In the same spirit he conscientiously
performed what he conceived to be his duty to Cecchino, murdered by a
musketeer in Rome. After nursing his revenge till he was nearly mad, he
stole out one evening and stabbed the murderer in the back.[364] So
violent was the blow that he could not extricate his dagger from the man's
spine, but had to leave it sticking in his nape. Next to his own egotism
the strongest feelings in Cellini were domestic; and he showed them at one
moment by charity to his sister's family, at another by a savage

After killing the musketeer, Cellini retired for refuge to the house of
Alessandro de' Medici, Duke of Cività di Penna, who had been his brother's
patron. The matter reached the Pope's ears, for whom Benvenuto was at work
upon crown jewels. Clement sent for him, and simply said: "Now you have
recovered your health, Benvenuto, take care of yourself." This shows how
little they thought of homicide in Rome. After killing a man, some
powerful protector had to be sought, who was usually a cardinal, since the
cardinals had right of sanctuary in their palaces. There the assassin lay
in hiding, in order to avoid his victim's friends and relatives, until
such time as a pardon and safe-conduct and absolution had been obtained
from his Holiness. When Cellini, soon after this occurrence, stabbed a
private enemy, by name Pompeo, two cardinals were anxious to screen him
from pursuit, and disputed the privilege of harbouring so talented a
criminal.[365] The Pope, with marvellous good-humour, observed: "I have
never heard of the death of Pompeo, but often of Benvenuto's provocation;
so let a safe-conduct be instantly made out, and that will secure him from
all manner of danger." A friend of Pompeo's who was present, ventured to
insinuate that this was dangerous policy. The Pope put him down at once by
saying, "You do not understand these matters; I would have you know that
men who are unique in their profession, like Benvenuto, are not subject to
the laws." Whether Paul really said these words, may be doubted; but it is
clear that much was conceded to a clever workman, and that the laws were a
mere _brutum fulmen_. No man of spirit appealed to them. Cellini, for
example, was poisoned by a parish priest near Florence:[366] yet he never
brought the man to justice; and in the case of his own murders, he only
dreaded the retaliation of his victims' kinsmen. On one occasion, indeed,
the civil arm came down upon him; when the city guard attempted to arrest
him for Pompeo's assassination. He beat them off with swords and sticks;
and, after all, it appeared that they were only acting at the instigation
of Pier Luigi Farnese, whom Benvenuto had offended.

During his residence at Rome, Cellini witnessed an incantation conducted
in the Colosseum by a Sicilian priest and necromancer. The conjurer and
the artist, accompanied by two friends, and by a boy, who was to act as
medium, went by night to the amphitheatre. The magic circle was drawn;
fires were lighted, and perfumes scattered on the flames. Then the
spirit-seer began his charms, calling in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, or what
passed for such, upon the leaders of the hosts of hell. The whole hollow
space now filled with phantoms, surging up by legions, rushing down from
the galleries, issuing from subterranean caverns, and wheeling to and fro
with signs of fury. All the party, says Cellini, were thrown into
consternation, except himself, who, though terribly afraid, kept up the
fainting spirits of the rest. At last the conjurer summoned courage to
inquire when Cellini might hope to be restored to his lost love,
Angelica;--for this was the trivial object of the incantation. The demons
answered (how we are not told) that he would meet her ere a month had
passed away. This prophecy, as it happened, was fulfilled. Then they
redoubled their attacks; the necromancer kept crying out that the peril
was most imminent, until the matin bells of Rome swung through the
darkness, freeing them at last from fear. As they walked home, the boy,
holding the Sicilian by his robe and Benvenuto by his mantle, told them
that he still saw giants leaping with fantastic gestures on their path,
now running along the house roofs, and now dancing on the earth. Each one
of them that night dreamed in his bed of devils.[367]

The interest of this incident is almost wholly picturesque. It throws but
little light upon the superstitions of the age.[368] The magnitude of the
Colosseum, the popular legends concerning its magical origin, and the
terrible uses of blood to which it had been put, invested this building
with peculiar mystery. Robbers haunted the huge caves. Rubbish and weeds
choked the passages. Sickly trees soared up from darkness into light among
the porches, and the moon peered through the empty vomitories. If we call
imagination to our aid, and place the necromancers and their brazier in
the centre of this space;--if we fancy the priest's chaunted spells, the
sacred names invoked in his unholy rites, the shuddering terror of the
conscience-stricken accomplices, and Cellini with defiant mien but
quailing heart, we can well believe that he saw more than the amphitheatre
contained. Whether the spectres were projected by the conjurer from a
magic lantern on the smoke that issued from his heaps of blazing wood, so
that the volumes of vapour, agitated by the wind and rolling in thick
spirals, showed them retreating and advancing, and varying in shape and
number, is a matter for conjecture. Cellini firmly believed that he had
been environed by living squadrons of the spirits of the damned.

The next four years were spent by Cellini chiefly in Rome, in peril of his
life at several seasons, owing to the animosity of Pier Luigi Farnese. One
journey he took at this period to Venice, passing through Ferrara, where
he came to blows with the Florentine exiles. It is interesting to find the
respectable historian Jacopo Nardi involved, if only as a peacemaker, in
this affray.[369] He also visited Florence and cast dies for Alessandro's
silver coinage. It was here that he found opportunities of observing the
perilous intimacy between the Duke of Cività di Penna and his
cousin--_quel pazzo malinconico filosofo di Lorenzino._[370] In April
1537, having quarrelled with the Pope, who seems to have adopted Pier
Luigi's prejudice against him, Cellini set out for France with two of his
workmen. They passed through Florence, Bologna, Venice, and Padua, staying
in the last place to model a medallion portrait of Pietro Bembo;[371] then
they crossed the Grisons by the Bernina and Albula passes. We hear nothing
about this part of the journey, except that the snow was heavy, and that
they ran great danger of their lives. Cellini must have traversed some of
the most romantic scenery of Switzerland at the best season of the year;
yet not a word escapes him about the beauty of the Alps or the wonder of
the glaciers, which he saw for the first time. The pleasure we derive from
contemplating savage scenery was unknown to the Italians of the sixteenth
century; the height and cold, the gloom and solitude of mountains struck
them with a sense of terror or of dreariness. On the Lake of Wallenstadt
Cellini met with a party of Germans, whom he hated as cordially as an
Athenian of the age of Pericles might have loathed the Scythians for their
barbarism.[372] The Italians embarked in one boat, the Germans in
another; Cellini being under the impression that the Northern lakes would
not be so likely to drown him as those of his own country. However, when a
storm swept down the hills, he took a terrible fright, and compelled the
boatmen at the point of the poniard to put him and his company ashore. The
description of their struggles to drag their heavily laden horses over the
uneven ground near Wesen, is extremely graphic, and gives a good notion of
the dangers of the road in those days.[373] That night they "heard the
watch sing at all hours very agreeably; and as the houses of that town
were all of wood, he kept bidding them to take care of their fires." Next
day they arrived, not without other accidents, at Zurich, "a marvellous
city, as clear and polished as a jewel." Thence by Solothurn, Lausanne,
Geneva, and Lyons, they made their way to Paris.

This long and troublesome journey led to nothing, for Cellini grew weary
of following the French Court about from place to place; his health too
failed him, and he decided that he would rather die in Italy than
France.[374] Accordingly he returned to Rome, and there, not long after
his arrival, he was arrested by the order of Pope Paul III.[375] The
charge against him, preferred by one of his own prentices, was this.
During the siege of Rome, he had been employed by Clement to melt down the
tiaras and papal ornaments, in order that the precious stones might be
conveyed away in secrecy. He did so; and afterwards confessed to having
kept a portion of the gold filings found in the cinders of his brazier
during the operation. For this crime Clement gave him absolution.[376]
Now, however, he was accused of having stolen gold and jewels to the
amount of nearly eighty thousand ducats. "The avarice of the Pope, but
more that of his bastard, then called Duke of Castro," inclined Paul to
believe this charge; and Pier Luigi was allowed to farm the case. Cellini
was examined by the Governor of Rome and two assessors; in spite of his
vehement protestations of innocence, the absence of any evidence against
him, and the sound arguments adduced in his defence, he was committed to
the castle of S. Angelo. When he received his sentence, he called heaven
and earth to witness, thanking God that he had "the happiness not to be
confined for some error of his sinful nature, as generally happens to
young men." Whereupon "the brute of a Governor replied, Yet you have
killed enough men in your time." This remark was pertinent; but it
provoked a torrent of abuse and a long enumeration of his services from
the virtuous Cellini.

The account of this imprisonment, and especially of the hypochondriacal
Governor who thought he was a bat and used to flap his arms and squeak
when night was coming on, is highly entertaining.[377] Not less
interesting is the description of Cellini's daring escape from the castle.
In climbing over the last wall, he fell and broke his leg, and was carried
by a waterman to the palace of the Cardinal Cornaro. There he lay in
hiding, visited by all the rank and fashion of Rome, who were not a little
curious to see the hero of so perilous an escapade. Cornaro promised to
secure his pardon, but eventually exchanged him for a bishopric. This
remarkable proceeding illustrates the manners of the Papal Court. The
cardinal wanted a benefice for one of his followers, and the Pope wished
to get his son's enemy once more into his power. So the two ecclesiastics
bargained together, and by mutual kind offices attained their several

Cellini with his broken leg went back to languish in his prison. He found
the flighty Governor furious because he had "flown away," eluding his
bat's eyes and wings. The rigour used towards him made him dread the worst
extremities. Cast into a condemned cell, he first expected to be flayed
alive; and when this terror was removed, he perceived the crystals of a
pounded jewel in his food. According to his own account of this mysterious
circumstance, Messer Durante Duranti of Brescia, one of Cellini's numerous
enemies, had given a diamond of small value to be broken up and mixed with
a salad served to him at dinner. The jeweller to whom this charge was
entrusted, kept the diamond and substituted a beryl, thinking that the
inferior stone would have the same murderous properties. To the avarice of
this man Cellini attributed his escape from a lingering death by
inflammation of the mucous membrane.[378]

During his first imprisonment he had occupied a fair chamber in the upper
turret of the castle. He was now removed to a dungeon below ground where
Fra Fojano, the reformer, had been starved to death. The floor was wet and
infested with crawling creatures. A few reflected sunbeams slanting from a
narrow window for two hours of the afternoon, was all the light that
reached him. Here he lay, alone, unable to move because of his broken leg,
with his hair and teeth falling away, and with nothing to occupy him but a
Bible and a volume of Villani's "Chronicles." His spirit, however, was
indomitable; and the passionate energy of the man, hitherto manifested in
ungoverned acts of fury, took the form of ecstasy. He began the study of
the Bible from the first chapter of Genesis, and trusting firmly to the
righteousness of his own cause, compared himself to all the saints and
martyrs of Scripture, men of whom the world was not worthy. He sang
psalms, prayed continually, and composed a poem in praise of his prison.
With a piece of charcoal he made a great drawing of angels surrounding God
the Father on the wall. Once only his courage gave way: he determined on
suicide, and so placed a beam that it should fall on him like a trap. When
all was ready, an unseen hand took violent hold of him, and dashed him on
the ground at a considerable distance. From this moment his dungeon was
visited by angels, who healed his broken leg, and reasoned with him of

The mention of these visions reminds us that Cellini had become acquainted
with Savonarola's writings during his first imprisonment.[379] Impressed
with the grandeur of the prophet's dreams, and exalted by the reading of
the Bible, he no doubt mistook his delirious fancies for angelic visitors,
and in the fervour of his enthusiasm laid claim to inspiration. One of
these hallucinations is particularly striking. He had prayed that he might
see the sun at least in trance, if it were impossible that he should look
on it again with waking eyes. But, while awake and in possession of his
senses, he was hurried suddenly away and carried to a room, where the
invisible power sustaining him appeared in human shape, "like a youth
whose beard is but just growing, with a face most marvellous, fair, but of
austere and far from wanton beauty." In that room were all the men who had
ever lived and died on earth; and thence they two went together, and came
into a narrow street, one side whereof was bright with sunlight. Then
Cellini asked the angel how he might behold the sun; and the angel pointed
to certain steps upon the side of a house. Up these Cellini climbed, and
came into the full blaze of the sun, and, though dazzled by its
brightness, he gazed steadfastly and took his fill. While he looked, the
rays fell away upon the left side and the disk shone like a bath of molten
gold. This surface swelled, and from the glory came the figure of a
Christ upon the cross, which moved and stood beside the rays. Again the
surface swelled, and from the glory came the figure of Madonna and her
Child; and at the right hand of the sun there knelt S. Peter in his
sacerdotal robes, pleading Cellini's cause; and "full of shame that such
foul wrong should be done to Christians in his house." This vision
marvellously strengthened Cellini's soul, and he began to hope with
confidence for liberty. When free again, he modelled the figures he had
seen in gold.

The religious phase in Cellini's history requires some special comment,
since it is precisely at this point that he most faithfully personifies
the spirit of his age and nation. That he was a devout Catholic there is
no question. He made two pilgrimages to Loreto, and another to S. Francis
of Vernia. To S. Lucy he dedicated a golden eye after his recovery from an
illness. He was, moreover, always anxious to get absolution from the Pope.
More than this; he continually sustained himself at the great crises of
his life, when in peril of imprisonment, while defending himself against
assassins, and again on the eve of casting his "Perseus," by direct and
passionate appeals to God. Yet his religion had but little effect upon his
life; and he often used it as a source of moral strength in doing deeds
repugnant to real piety. Like love, he put it off and on quite easily,
reverting to it when he found himself in danger or bad spirits, and
forgetting it again when he was prosperous. Thus in the dungeon of S.
Angelo he vowed to visit the Holy Sepulchre if God would grant him to
behold the sun. This vow he forgot until he met with disappointment at the
Court of Francis, and then he suddenly determined to travel to Jerusalem.
The offer of a salary of seven hundred crowns restored his spirits, and he
thought no more about his vow.

While he loved his life so dearly and indulged so freely in the pleasures
of this earth, he made a virtue of necessity as soon as death approached,
crying, "The sooner I am delivered from the prison of this world, the
better; especially as I am sure of salvation, being unjustly put to
death." His good opinion of himself extended to the certainty he felt of
heaven. Forgetting his murders and debaucheries, he sustained his courage
with devotion when all other sources failed. As to the divine government
of the world, he halted between two opinions. Whether the stars or
Providence had the upper hand, he could not clearly say; but by the stars
he understood a power antagonistic to his will, by Providence a force that
helped him to do what he liked. There is a similar confusion in his mind
about the Pope. He goes to Clement submissively for absolution from
homicide and theft, saying, "I am at the feet of your Holiness, who have
the full power of absolving, and I request you to give me permission to
confess and communicate, that I may with your favour be restored to the
divine grace." He also tells Paul that the sight of Christ's vicar, in
whom there is an awful representation of the divine Majesty, makes him
tremble. Yet at another time he speaks of Clement being "transformed to a
savage beast," and talks of him as "that poor man Pope Clement."[380] Of
Paul he says that he "believed neither in God nor in any other article of
religion;" he sincerely regrets not having killed him by accident during
the siege of Rome, abuses him for his avarice, casts his bastards in his
teeth, and relates with relish the crime of forgery for which in his youth
he was imprisoned in the castle of S. Angelo.[381] Indeed, the Italians
treated the Pope as negroes treat their fetishes. If they had cause to
dislike him, they beat and heaped insults on him--like the Florentines who
described Sixtus IV. as "leno matris suae, adulterorum minister, diaboli
vicarius," and his spiritual offspring as "simonia, luxus, homicidium,
proditio, haeresis." On the other hand, they really thought that he could
open heaven and shut the gates of hell.

At the end of the year 1539, the Cardinal Ippolito d'Este appeared in Rome
with solicitations from Francis I. that the Pope would release Cellini and
allow him to enter his service.[382] Upon this the prison door was opened.
Cellini returned to his old restless life of violence and pleasure. We
find him renewing his favourite pastimes--killing, wantoning, disputing
with his employers, and working diligently at his trade. The temporary
saint and visionary becomes once more the bravo and the artist. A more
complete parallel to the consequences of revivalism in Italy could not be
found.[383] Meanwhile the first period of his history is closed and the
second begins.

Cellini's account of his residence in France has much historical interest
besides the charm of its romance. When he first joined the Court, he found
Francis travelling from city to city with a retinue of eighteen thousand
persons and twelve thousand horses. Frequently they came to places where
no accommodation could be had, and the suite were lodged in wretched
tents. It is not wonderful that Cellini should complain of the French
being less civilised than the Italians of his time. Francis among his
ladies and courtiers, pretending to a knowledge of the arts, sauntering
with his splendid train into the goldsmith's workshop, encouraging
Cellini's violence with a boyish love of mischief, vain and flattered,
peevish, petulant, and fond of show, appears upon these pages with a
life-like vividness.[384] When the time came for settling in Paris, the
King presented his goldsmith with a castle called Le Petit Nesle, and made
him lord thereof by letters of naturalisation. This house stood where the
Institute has since been built; of its extent we may judge from the number
of occupations carried on within its precincts when Cellini entered into
possession. He found there a tennis-court, a distillery, a printing press,
and a factory of saltpetre, besides residents engaged in other trades.
Cellini's claims were resisted. Probably the occupiers did not relish the
intrusion of a foreigner. So he stormed the place and installed himself by
force of arms. Similar violence was needed in order to maintain himself in
possession; but this Cellini loved, and had he been let alone, it is
probable he would have died of _ennui_.

Difficulties of all kinds, due in part to his ungovernable temper, in part
to his ill-regulated life, in part to his ignorance of French habits,
gathered round him. He fell into disfavour with Madame d'Estampes, the
mistress of the King; and here it may be mentioned that many of his
troubles arose from his inability to please noble women.[385] Proud,
self-confident, overbearing, and unable to command his words or actions,
Cellini was unfitted to pay court to princes. Then again he quarrelled
with his brother artists, and made the Bolognese painter, Primaticcio, his
enemy. After being attacked by assassins and robbers on more than one
occasion, he was involved in two lawsuits. He draws a graphic picture of
the French courts of justice, with their judge as grave as Plato, their
advocates all chattering at once, their perjured Norman witnesses, and the
ushers at the doors vociferating _Paix, paix, Satan, allez, paix_. In this
cry Cellini recognised the gibberish at the beginning of the seventh
canto of Dante's "Inferno." But the most picturesque group in the whole
scene presented to us is that made by Cellini himself, armed and mailed,
and attended by his prentices in armour, as they walked into the court to
browbeat justice with the clamour of their voice. If we are to trust his
narrative, he fought his way out of one most dangerous trial by simple
vociferation. Afterwards he took the law, as usual, into his own hands.
One pair of litigants were beaten; Caterina was nearly kicked to death;
and the attorneys were threatened with the sword.

In the midst of these disturbances, Cellini began some important works for
Francis. At Paris the King employed him to make huge silver candelabra,
and at Fontainebleau to restore the castle gate. For the château of
Fontainebleau Cellini executed the nymph in bronze, reclining among
trophies of the chase, which may still be seen in the Louvre. It is a
long-limbed, lifeless figure, without meaning--a snuff-box ornament
enlarged to a gigantic size. Francis, who cannot have had good taste in
art, if what Cellini makes him say be genuine, admired these designs above
the bronze copies of the Vatican marbles he had recently received. He
seems to have felt some personal regard for Benvenuto, and to have done
all he could to retain him in his service. The animosity of Madame
d'Estampes, and a grudge against his old patron, Ippolito d'Este, however,
determined the restless craftsman to quit Paris. Leaving his castle, his
unfinished works, and other property behind him in the care of Ascanio,
his friend and pupil, he returned alone to Italy. This step, taken in a
moment of restless pique, was ever after regretted by Cellini, who looked
back with yearning from Florence to the generosity of Francis.

Cosimo de' Medici was indeed a very different patron from Francis.
Cautious, little-minded, meddling, with a true Florentine's love of
bargaining and playing cunning tricks, he pretended to protect the arts,
but did not understand the part he had assumed. He was always short of
money, and surrounded by old avaricious servants, through whose hands his
meagre presents passed. As a connoisseur, he did not trust his own
judgment, thus laying himself open to the intrigues of inferior artists.
Henceforward a large part of Cellini's time was wasted in wrangling with
the Duke's steward, squabbling with Bandinelli and Ammanati, and
endeavouring to overcome the coldness or to meet the vacillations of his
patron. Those who wish to gain insight into the life of an artist at Court
in the sixteenth century, will do well to study attentively the chapters
devoted by Cellini to his difficulties with the Duchess, and his wordy
warfares with Bandinelli.[386] This atmosphere of intrigue and animosity
was not uncongenial to Benvenuto; and as far as words and blows went, he
almost always got the best of it. Nothing, for example, could be keener
and more cutting than the very just criticism he made in Bandinelli's
presence of his "Hercules and Cacus." "Quel bestial buaccio Bandinello,"
as he delights to name him, could do nothing but retort with vulgar terms
of insult.[387]

The great achievement of this third period was the modelling and casting
of the "Perseus." No episode in Cellini's biography is narrated with more
force than the climax to his long-protracted labours, when at last, amid
the chaos and confusion of innumerable accidents, the metal in his furnace
liquefied and filled the mould. After the statue was uncovered in the
Loggia de' Lanzi, where it now stands, Cellini achieved a triumph
adequate to his own highest expectations. Odes and sonnets in Italian,
Greek, and Latin, were written in its praise. Pontormo and Bronzino, the
painters, loaded it with compliments. Cellini, ruffling with hand on hilt
in silks and satins through the square, was pointed out to foreigners as
the great sculptor who had cast the admirable bronze. It was, in truth, no
slight distinction for a Florentine artist to erect a statue beneath the
Loggia de' Lanzi in the square of the Signory. Every great event in
Florentine history had taken place on that piazza. Every name of
distinction among the citizens of Florence was connected with its
monuments. To this day we may read the course of Florentine art by
studying its architecture and sculpture; and not the least of its many
ornaments, in spite of all that may be said against it, is the "Perseus"
of Cellini.

Cellini completed the "Perseus" in 1554. His autobiography is carried down
to the year 1562, when it abruptly terminates. It appears that in 1558 he
received the tonsure and the first ecclesiastical orders; but two years
later on he married a wife, and died at the age of sixty-nine, leaving
three legitimate children. He was buried honourably, and a funeral oration
was pronounced above his bier in the Chapter House of the Annunziata.

As a man, Cellini excites more interest than as an artist; and for this
reason I have refrained from entering into minute criticism of his few
remaining masterpieces. It has been well said that the two extremes of
society, the statesman and the craftsman, find their point of meeting in
Machiavelli and Cellini, inasmuch as both recognise no moral authority but
the individual will.[388] The _virtù_, extolled by Machiavelli is
exemplified by Cellini. Machiavelli bids his prince ignore the laws;
Cellini respects no tribunal and takes justice into his own hands. The
word conscience does not occur in Machiavelli's phraseology of ethics;
conscience never makes a coward of Cellini, and in the dungeons of S.
Angelo he is visited by no remorse. If we seek a literary parallel for the
statesman and the artist in their idealisation of force and personal
character, we find it in Pietro Aretino. In him, too, conscience is
extinct; for him, also, there is no respect of King or Pope; he has placed
himself above law, and substituted his own will for justice. With his pen,
as Cellini with his dagger, he assassinates; his cynicism serves him for a
coat of armour. And so abject is society, so natural has tyranny become,
that he extorts blackmail from monarchs, makes princes tremble, and
receives smooth answers to his insults from Buonarroti. These three men,
Machiavelli, Cellini, and Aretino, each in his own line, and with the
proper differences that pertain to philosophic genius, artistic skill, and
ribald ruffianism, sufficiently indicate the dissolution of the social
bond in Italy. They mark their age as the age of adventurers, bandits,
bullies, Ishmaelites, and tyrants.


[345] "In lode e onor della vita sua e opere d'esso, e buona disposizione
della anima e del corpo." _La Vita di Benvenuto Cellini_, Firenze, Le
Monnier, 1852; _Documenti_, p. 578.

[346] I do not by this mean to commit myself to the opinion that Cellini
is accurate in details or truthful. On the contrary, it is impossible to
read his life without feeling that his vanity and self-esteem led him to
exaggeration and mis-statement. The value of the biography consists in
its picturesqueness, its brilliant and faithful colouring, and its
unconscious self-revelation of an energetic character.

[347] With regard to his pedigree Cellini tells a ridiculous story about
a certain Fiorino da Cellino, one of Julius Caesar's captains, who gave
his name to Florence. For the arms of the Cellini family, see lib. i.
cap. 50.

[348] To enlarge upon this point is hardly necessary; or it would be easy
to prove from documentary evidence that artists so eminent as Simone
Martini, Gentile da Fabriano, Perugino, and Ghirlandajo kept open shops,
where customers could buy the products of their craft from a
highly-finished altar-piece down to a painted buckler or a sign to hang
above the street-door. The commercial status of fine art in Italy was
highly beneficial to its advancement, inasmuch as it implied a thorough
technical apprenticeship for learners. The defective side of the system
was apparent in great workshops like that of Raphael, who undertook
painting-commissions quite beyond his powers of conscientious execution.

[349] See above, Chapter III, Orcagna's Tabernacle.

[350] See lib. ii. cap. 5, for the description of Francis I. visiting
Cellini in his work-room. He finds him hammering away at the metal, and
suggests that he might leave that labour to his prentices. Cellini
replies that the excellence of his work would suffer if he did not do it

[351] See Yriarte, _Vie d'un Gentilhomme de Venise_, p. 439, for a
process instituted by the Inquisition against Paolo Veronese.

[352] He calls it "un chiavaquore di argento, il quale era in quei tempi
chiamato cosi. Questo si era una cintura di tre dita larga, che alle
spose novelle s' usava di fare."

[353] "Si come un toro invelenito."

[354] "Living men have felt my blows: those many maimed and mutilated
stones one sees, attest to your disgrace: the earth hides my bad work."
See the lines quoted by Perkins, _Tuscan Sculptors_, vol. ii. p. 140.

[355] Lib. i. cap. 79.

[356] Lib. ii. cap. 34. The whole history of this woman Caterina, and of
the revenge he took upon her and his prentice Paolo, is one of the most
extraordinary passages in the life.

[357] See Vol. 1., _Age of the Despots_, pp. 377-380.

[358] See Vol. 1., _Age of the Despots_, pp. 362-363.

[359] This might be further illustrated by analysing Cellini's mode of
loving. He never rises above animal appetite.

[360] Lib. i. cap. 85. "Nel qual vomito mi usci dello stomaco un verme
piloso, grande un quarto di braccio: e' peli erano grandi ed il verme era
bruttissimo, macchiato di diversi colori, verdi, neri e rossi."

[361] Lib. i. cap. 128.

[362] Notice lib. i. cap. 40, p. 90, the dialogue between Cellini and the
old woman, on his return to the paternal house: "Oh dimmi, gobba
perversa," &c.

[363] "Per essere il mondo intenebrato di peste e di guerra," is a phrase
of Cellini's, i. 40.

[364] Lib. i. cap. 51.

[365] Lib. i. cap. 74. Clement was dead, and Paul III. had just been
elected, 1534. Paul sent Cellini a safe-conduct and pardon for Pompeo's
murder to Florence in 1535. Lib. i. cap. 81.

[366] Lib. ii. cap. 104.

[367] Lib. i. cap. 64.

[368] See, however, what is said about the mountain villages of Norcia
being good for incantations. That district in Roman times was famous for
such superstitions. Burckhardt, _Die Cultur der Renaissance in Italien_,
pp. 427-428, gives curious information on this topic.

[369] Lib. i. cap. 76.

[370] Lib. i. cap. 88. "That mad melancholy philosopher Lorenzino." Cf.
i. 80 and 81. "Molte volte lo trovavo a dormicchiare dopo desinare con
quel suo Lorenzino, che poi l'ammazzò, e non altri; ed io molto mi
maravigliavo che un duca di quella sorte così si fidava ... il duca' che
lo teneva quando per pazzericcio, e quando per poltrone." Cf. again, cap.

[371] This glimpse of Bembo in his Paduan villa is very pleasing. Lib. i.
cap. 94.

[372] "Quei diavoli di quei gentiluomini tedeschi." This is, however, the
language he uses about nearly all foreigners--Spaniards, French, and

[373] Lib. i. cap. 96. "Io ero tutto armato di maglia con istivali grossi
e con uno scoppietto in mano, e pioveva quanto Iddio ne sapeva mandare,"

[374] Lib. i. cap. 98.

[375] _Ib._ cap. 101.

[376] See lib. i. cap. 38, 43.

[377] The Governor, perplexed by Cellini's vaunt that if he only tried he
was sure he could fly, put him under strict guard, saying, "Benvenuto è
un pipistrello contrafatto, ed io sono un pipistrello da dovero."

[378] Lib. i. cap. 125.

[379] Lib. i. cap. 105.

[380] "Il Papa diventato così pessima bestia," lib. i. 58; "Il Papa
entrato in un bestial furore," _ib_. 60; "Quel povero uomo di Papa
Clemente," _ib_. 103.

[381] _Ib_. 36, 101, 111.

[382] The scene is well described, lib. i. 127. The Pope was wont to have
a weekly debauch, and the cardinal chose this favourable moment for his
appeal: "Gli usava una volta la settimana di fare una crapula assai
gagliarda, perchè da poi la gomitava.... Allora il papa, sentendosi
appressare all' ora del suo vomito, e perchè la troppa abbundanzia del
vino ancora faceva l' ufizio suo, disse," &c.

[383] See Vol. I., _Age of the Despots_, p. 485.

[384] See especially the visit to the Paris workshop, lib. ii. cap. 15,
and the scene in the Gallery at Fontainebleau, ib. 41.

[385] His quarrels, for example, with the Duchess of Florence.

[386] Lib. ii. cap. 83, 84, 87, 70, 71.

[387] "That beastly big ox, Bandinelli." Cf. cap. 70 for the critique. It
may be said here, in passing, that the insult of Bandinelli, "Oh sta
cheto, soddomitaccio," seems to have been justified by Benvenuto's
conduct, though of course he carefully conceals it in his memoirs. After
the charge brought against him by Cencio, for instance, he thought it
better to leave Florence.--_Ib_. cap. 61, 62.

[388] Edgar Quinet, _Les Révolutions d'Italie_, p. 358.



Full Development and Decline of Painting--Exhaustion of the old
Motives--Relation of Lionardo to his Pupils--His Legacy to the
Lombard School--Bernardino Luini--Gaudenzio Ferrari--The Devotion
of the Sacri Monti--The School of Raphael--Nothing left but
Imitation--Unwholesome Influences of Rome--Giulio Romano--Michael
Angelesque Mannerists--Misconception of Michael Angelo--Correggio founds
no School--Parmigianino--Macchinisti--The Bolognese--After-growth of Art in
Florence--Andrea del Sarto--His Followers--Pontormo--Bronzino--Revival of
Painting in Siena--Sodoma--His Influence on Pacchia, Beccafumi,
Peruzzi--Garofalo and Dosso Dossi at Ferrari--The Campi at
Cremona--Brescia and Bergamo--The Decadence in the second half of the
Sixteenth Century--The Counter-Reformation--Extinction of the Renaissance

In the foregoing chapters I have not sought to write again the history of
art, so much as to keep in view the relation between Italian art and the
leading intellectual impulses of the Renaissance. In the masters of the
sixteenth century--Lionardo, Raphael, Michael Angelo, Correggio, and the
Venetians--the force inherent in the Italian genius for painting reached
full development. What remained was but an after-bloom rapidly tending to
decadence. To surpass those men in their own line seemed impossible. What
they had achieved was so transcendent that imitation satisfied their
successors; and if they refused imitation, originality had to be sought by
deviating into extravagances. Meanwhile no new stock of thoughts had been
acquired; and students of history are now well aware that for really
great art ideas common to the nation are essential. The motives suggested
by mediaeval Christianity, after passing through successive stages of
treatment in the _quattrocento_, had received the grand and humane
handling of the golden age. The motives of revived paganism in like manner
were exhausted, and at this time the feeling for antiquity had lost its
primal freshness. It might seem superfluous to carry this inquiry further,
when we have thus confessedly attained the culminating point of painting.
Yet the sketch attempted in this volume would be incomplete and liable to
misinterpretation, if no account were taken of the legacy bequeathed to
the next generation by the great masters.

Lionardo da Vinci formed, as we have seen, a school at Milan. It was the
special good fortune of his pupils that what he actually accomplished,
bore no proportion to the suggestiveness of his teaching and the fertility
of his invention. Of finished work he left but little to the world; while
his sketches and designs, the teeming thoughts of his creative brain, were
an inestimable heritage. The whole of this rich legacy of masterpieces,
projected, but not executed, was characterised by a feeling for beauty
which has fallen to no other painter. When we examine the sketches in the
Royal Collection at Windsor, we perceive that the exceeding sense of
loveliness possessed by Lionardo could not have failed to animate his
pupils with a high spirit of art. At the same time the extraordinary
variety of his drawing--sometimes reminding us of German method, sometimes
modern in the manner of French and English draughtsmen--by turns bold and
delicate, broad and minute in detail--afforded to his school examples of
perfect treatment in a multiplicity of different styles. There was no
formality of fixed unalterable precedent in Lionardo, nothing for his
scholars to repeat with the monotony of mannerism.

It remained for his disciples, each in his own sphere, with inferior
powers and feebler intellect, to perpetuate the genius of their master.
Thus the spirit of Lionardo continued to live in Lombardy after he was
dead. There alone imitation was really fruitful, because it did not imply
mere copying. Instead of attempting to give a fresh and therefore a
strained turn to motives that had already received consummate treatment,
Lionardo's successors were able to execute what he had planned but had not
carried to completion. Nor was the prestige of his style so oppressive
through the mass of pictures painted by his hand as to check individuality
or to prevent the pupil from working out such portions of the master's
vein as suited his own talent. Each found enough suggested, but not used,
to give his special faculty free scope. This is in fact the reason why the
majority of pictures ascribed to Lionardo are really the production of his
school. They have the excellence of original work, but not such excellence
as Lionardo could have given them. Their completion is due, as searching
criticism proves, to lesser men; but the conception belongs to the

Andrea Salaino, Marco d'Oggiono, Francesco Melzi, Giovanni Antonio
Beltraffio, and Cesare da Sesto, are all of them skilled workmen, losing
and finding their individuality, as just described, in the manner of their
master. Salaino brings exquisite delicacy of execution; d'Oggiono, wild
and bizarre beauty; Melzi, the refinements of a miniaturist; Beltraffio,
hard brilliancy of light and colour; Cesare da Sesto, somewhat of
effeminate sweetness; and thus the qualities of many men emerge, to blend
themselves again in what is Lionardo's own. It is surely not without
significance that this metempsychosis of genius should have happened in
the case of Lionardo, himself the magician of Renaissance art, the lover
of all things double-natured and twin-souled.

Two painters of the Lombard school, Bernardino Luini and Gaudenzio
Ferrari, demand separate notice. Without Lionardo it is difficult to say
what Luini would have been: so thoroughly did he appropriate his teacher's
type of face, and, in oil-painting, his refinement. And yet Luini stands
on his own ground, in no sense an imitator, with a genius more simple and
idyllic than Da Vinci's. Little conception of his charm can be formed by
those who have not seen his frescoes in the Brera and S. Maurizio Maggiore
at Milan, in the church of the Angeli at Lugano, or in the pilgrimage
church of Saronno. To the circumstance of his having done his best work in
places hardly visited until of late years, may in part perhaps be
attributed the tardy recognition of a painter eminently fitted to be
popular. Luini was essentially a fresco-painter. None, perhaps, of all the
greatest Italian _frescanti_ realised a higher quality of brilliancy
without gaudiness, by the scale of colours he selected and by the purity
with which he used them in simple combinations. His frescoes are never
dull or heavy in tone, never glaring, never thin or chalky. He knew how to
render them both luminous and rich, without falling into the extremes that
render fresco-paintings often less attractive than oil-pictures. His
feeling for loveliness of form was original and exquisite. The joy of
youth found in Luini an interpreter only less powerful and even more
tender than in Raphael. While he shared with the Venetians their
sensibility to nature, he had none of their sensuousness or love of pomp.
In idyllic painting of a truly great type I know of nothing more
delightful than his figures of young musicians going to the marriage feast
of Mary, nothing more graceful than the genius ivy-crowned and seated at
the foot of the cross.[389] The sentiment for naive and artless grace, so
fully possessed by Luini, gave freshness to his treatment of conventional
religious themes. Under his touch they appeal immediately to the most
untutored taste, without the aid of realistic or sensational effects. Even
S. Sebastian and S. Rocco, whom it is difficult to represent with any
novelty of attitude or expression, became for him the motives of fresh
poetry, unsought but truly felt.[390] Among all the Madonnas ever painted
his picture of Mary with the espalier of white roses, and another where
she holds the infant Christ to pluck a purple columbine, distinguish
themselves by this engaging spontaneity. The frescoes of the marriage of
the Virgin and of S. Catherine carried by angels to Mount Sinai might be
cited for the same quality of freshness and unstudied poetry.[391]

When the subject demanded the exercise of grave emotion, Luini rose to the
occasion without losing his simplicity. The "Martyrdom of S. Catherine"
and the fresco of Christ after the Flagellation are two masterpieces,
wherein the depths of pathos have been sounded, and not a single note of
discord is struck.[392] All harsh and disagreeable details are either
eliminated, or so softened that the general impression, as in Pergolese's
music, is one of profoundest and yet sweetest sorrow. Luini's genius was
not tragic. The nearest approach to a dramatic motive in his work is the
figure of the Magdalen kneeling before the cross, with her long yellow
hair streaming over her shoulders, and her arms thrown backwards in an
ecstasy of grief.[393] He did well to choose moments that stir tender
sympathy--the piety of deep and calm devotion. How truly he felt
them--more truly, I think, than Perugino in his best period--is proved by
the correspondence they awake in us. Like melodies, they create a mood in
the spectator.

What Luini did not learn from Lionardo, was the art of composition. Taken
one by one, the figures that make up his "Marriage of the Virgin" at
Saronno, are beautiful; but the whole picture is clumsily constructed; and
what is true of this, may be said of every painting in which he attempted
complicated grouping.[394] We feel him to be a great artist only where the
subject does not demand the symmetrical arrangement of many parts.

Gaudenzio Ferrari was a genius of a different order, more robust, more
varied, but less single-minded than Luini. His style reveals the
influences of a many-sided, ill-assimilated education; blending the
manners of Bramantino, Lionardo, and Raphael without proper fusion. Though
Ferrari travelled much, and learned his art in several schools, he, like
Luini, can only be studied in the Milanese district--at his birthplace
Varallo, at Saronno, Vercelli, and Milan. It is to be regretted that a
painter of such singular ability, almost unrivalled at moments in the
expression of intense feeling and the representation of energetic
movement, should have lacked a simpler training, or have been unable to
adopt a manner more uniform. There is a strength of wing in his
imaginative flight, a swiftness and impetuosity in his execution, and a
dramatic force in his conception, that almost justify Lomazzo's choice of
the eagle for his emblem. Yet he was unable to collect his powers, or to
rule them. The distractions of an age that had produced its masterpieces,
were too strong for him; and what he failed to find was balance. His
picture of the "Martyrdom of S. Catherine," where reminiscences of Raphael
and Lionardo mingle with the uncouth motives of an earlier style in a
medley without unity of composition or harmony of colouring, might be
chosen as a typical instance of great resources misapplied.[395]

The most pleasing of Ferrari's paintings are choirs of angels, sorrowing
or rejoicing, some of them exquisitely and originally beautiful, all
animated with unusual life, and poised upon wings powerful enough to bear
them--veritable "birds of God."[396] His dramatic scenes from sacred
history, rich in novel motives and exuberantly full of invention, crowd
the churches of Vercelli; while a whole epic of the Passion is painted in
fresco above the altar of S. Maria delle Grazie at Varallo, covering the
wall from basement to ceiling. The prodigality of power displayed by
Ferrari makes up for much of crudity in style and confusion in aim; nor
can we refuse the tribute of warmest admiration to a master, who, when the
schools of Rome and Florence were sinking into emptiness and bombast,
preserved the fire of feeling for serious themes. What was deadly in the
neo-paganism of the Renaissance--its frivolity and worldliness, corroding
the very sources of belief in men who made of art a decoration for their
sensuous existence--had not penetrated to those Lombard valleys where
Ferrari and Luini worked. There the devotion of the Sacri Monti still
maintained an intelligence between the people and the artist, far more
fruitful of results to painting than the patronage of splendour-loving
cardinals and nobles.[397]

Passing from Lionardo to Raphael, we find exactly the reverse of what has
hitherto been noticed. Raphael worked out the mine of his own thought so
thoroughly--so completely exhausted the motives of his invention, and
carried his style to such perfection--that he left nothing unused for his
followers. We have seen that he formed a school of subordinates in Rome
who executed his later frescoes after his designs. Some of these men have
names that can be mentioned--Giulio Romano, of whom more hereafter; Perino
del Vaga, the decorator of Genoese palaces in a style of overblown but
gorgeous Raphaelism; Andrea Sabbatini, who carried the Roman tradition
down to Naples; Francesco Penni, Giovanni da Udine, and Polidoro da
Caravaggio. Their work, even while superintended by Raphael himself, began
to show the signs of decadence. In his Roman manner the dramatic element
was conspicuous; and to carry dramatic painting beyond the limits of good
style in art is unfortunately easy. The Hall of Constantine, left
unfinished at his death, still further proved how little his pupils could
do without him.[398] When Raphael died, the breath whose might sustained
and made them potent, ceased. For all the higher purposes of genuine art,
inspiration passed from them as colour fades from eastern clouds at
sunset, suddenly.

It has been customary to account for this rapid decline of the Roman
school by referring to the sack of Rome in 1527. No doubt the artists
suffered at that moment at least as severely as the scholars; their
dispersion broke up a band of eminent painters, who might in combination
and competition have still achieved great things. Yet the secret of their
subsequent failure lay far deeper; partly in the full development of their
master's style, already described; and partly in the social conditions of
Rome itself. Patrons, stimulated by the example of the Popes, desired vast
decorative works; but they expected these to be performed rapidly and at a
cheap rate. Painters, familiarised with the execution of such
undertakings, forgot that hitherto the conception had been not theirs but
Raphael's. Mistaking hand-work for brain-work, they audaciously accepted
commissions that would have taxed the powers of the master himself.
Meanwhile moral earnestness and technical conscientiousness were both
extinct. The patrons required show and sensual magnificence far more than
thought and substance. They were not, therefore, deterred by the vacuity
and poor conceptive faculty of the artists from employing them. What the
age demanded was a sumptuous parade of superficial ornament, and this the
pupils of Raphael felt competent to supply without much effort. The result
was that painters who under favourable circumstances might have done some
meritorious work, became mere journeymen contented with the soulless
insincerity of cheap effects. Giulio Romano alone, by dint of robust
energy and lurid fire of fancy flickering amid the smoke of his coarser
nature, achieved a triumph in this line of labour. His Palazzo del Te will
always remain the monument of a specific moment in Renaissance history,
since it is adequate to the intellectual conditions of a race demoralised
but living still with largeness and a sense of grandeur.

Michael Angelo formed no school in the strict sense of the word. Yet his
influence was not the less felt on that account, nor less powerful than
Raphael's in the same direction. During his manhood the painters Sebastian
del Piombo, Marcello Venusti, and Daniele da Volterra, had endeavoured to
add the charm of oil-colouring to his designs; and long before his death,
the seduction of his mighty mannerism had begun to exercise a fatal charm
for all the schools of Italy. Painters incapable of fathoming his
intention, unsympathetic to his rare type of intellect, and gifted with
less than a tithe of his native force, set themselves to reproduce
whatever may be justly censured in his works. To heighten and enlarge
their style was reckoned a chief duty of aspiring craftsmen; and it was
thought that recipes for attaining to this final perfection of the modern
arts might be extracted without trouble from Michael Angelo's
masterpieces. Unluckily, in proportion as his fame increased, his
peculiarities grew with the advance of age more manneristic and defined;
so that his imitators fixed precisely upon that which sober critics now
regard as a deduction from his greatness. They failed to perceive that he
owed his grandeur to his personality; and that the audacities which
fascinated them, became mere whimsical extravagances when severed from his
_terribilità_ and sombre simplicity of impassioned thought. His power and
his spirit were alike unique and uncommunicable, while the admiration of
his youthful worshippers betrayed them into imitating the externals of a
style that was rapidly losing spontaneity and sense of beauty. Therefore
they fancied they were treading in his footsteps and using the grand
manner when they covered church-roofs and canvases with sprawling figures
in distorted attitudes. Instead of studying nature, they studied Michael
Angelo's cartoons, exaggerating by their unintelligent discipleship his
wilfulness and arbitrary choice of form.

Vasari's and Cellini's criticisms of a master they both honestly revered,
may suffice to illustrate the false method adopted by these mimics of
Michael Angelo's ideal. To charge him with faults proceeding from the
weakness and blindness of the decadence--the faults of men too blind to
read his art aright, too weak to stand on their own feet without
him--would be either stupid or malicious. If at the close of the sixteenth
century the mannerists sought to startle and entrance the world by empty
exhibitions of muscular anatomy misunderstood, and by a braggadocio
display of meaningless effects--crowding their compositions with studies
from the nude, and painting agitated groups without a discernible cause
for agitation--the crime surely lay with the patrons who liked such
decoration, and with the journeymen who provided it. Michael Angelo
himself always made his manner serve his thought. We may fail to
appreciate his manner and may be incapable of comprehending his thought;
but only insincere or conceited critics will venture to gauge the latter
by what they feel to be displeasing in the former. What seems lawless in
him, follows the law of a profound and peculiar genius, with which,
whether we like it or not, we must reckon. His imitators were devoid of
thought and too indifferent to question whether there was any law to be
obeyed. Like the jackass in the fable, they put on the dead lion's skin of
his manner, and brayed beneath it, thinking they could roar.

Correggio, again, though he can hardly be said to have founded a school,
was destined to exercise wide and perilous influence over a host of
manneristic imitators. Francesco Mazzola, called Il Parmigianino, followed
him so closely that his frescoes at Parma are hardly distinguishable from
the master's; while Federigo Baroccio at Urbino endeavoured to preserve
the sensuous and almost childish sweetness of his style in its
integrity.[399] But the real attraction of Correggio was only felt when
the new _barocco_ architecture called for a new kind of decoration. Every
cupola throughout the length and breadth of Italy began then to be
painted with rolling clouds and lolling angels. What the wits of Parma had
once stigmatised as a _ragoût_ of frogs, now seemed the only possible
expression for celestial ecstasy; and to delineate the joy of heaven upon
those multitudes of domes and semi-domes was a point of religious
etiquette. False lights, dubious foreshortenings, shallow colourings,
ill-studied forms, and motiveless agitation suited the taste that cared
for gaudy brightness and sensational effects. The painters, for their
part, found it convenient to adopt a mannerism that enabled them to
conceal the difficult parts of the figure in feather beds of vapour,
requiring neither effort of conception nor expenditure of labour on
drawing and composition. At the same time, the Caracci made Correggio's
style the object of more serious study; and the history of Bolognese
painting shows what was to be derived from this master by intelligent and
conscientious workmen.

Hitherto, I have had principally to record the errors of artists copying
the external qualities of their great predecessors. It is refreshing to
turn from the _epigoni_ of the so-called Roman school to masters in whom
the flame of the Renaissance still burned brightly. Andrea del Sarto, the
pupil of Piero di Cosimo, but more nearly related in style to Fra
Bartolommeo than to any other of the elder masters, was himself a
contemporary of Raphael and Correggio. Yet he must be noticed here;
because he gave new qualities to the art of Tuscany, and formed a
tradition decisive for the subsequent history of Florentine painting. To
make a just estimate of his achievement is a task of no small difficulty.
The Italians called him "il pittore senza errori," or the faultless
painter. What they meant by this must have been that in all the technical
requirements of art, in drawing, composition, handling of fresco and oils,
disposition of draperies, and feeling for light and shadow, he was above
criticism. As a colourist he went further and produced more beautiful
effects than any Florentine before him. His silver-grey harmonies and
liquid blendings of hues cool, yet lustrous, have a charm peculiar to
himself alone. We find the like nowhere else in Italy. And yet Andrea del
Sarto cannot take rank among the greatest Renaissance painters. What he
lacked was precisely the most precious gift--inspiration, depth of
emotion, energy of thought. We are apt to feel that even his best pictures
were designed with a view to solving an aesthetic problem. Very few have
the poetic charm belonging to the "S. John" of the Pitti or the "Madonna"
of the Tribune. Beautiful as are many of his types, like the Magdalen in
the large picture of the "Pietà"[400] we can never be sure that he will
not break the spell by forms of almost vulgar mediocrity. The story that
his wife, a worthless woman, sat for his Madonnas, and the legends of his
working for money to meet pressing needs, seem justified by numbers of his
paintings, faulty in their faultlessness and want of spirit. Still, after
making these deductions, we must allow that Andrea del Sarto not
unworthily represents the golden age at Florence. There is no affectation,
no false taste, no trickery in his style. His workmanship is always solid;
his hand unerring. If Nature denied him the soul of a poet, and the stern
will needed for escaping from the sordid circumstances of his life, she
gave him some of the highest qualities a painter can desire--qualities of
strength, tranquillity, and thoroughness, that in the decline of the
century ceased to exist outside Venice.

Among Del Sarto's followers it will be enough to mention Franciabigio,
Vasari's favourite in fresco painting, Rosso de' Rossi, who carried the
Florentine manner into France, and Pontormo, the masterly painter of
portraits.[401] In the historical pictures of these men, whether sacred
or secular, it is clear how much was done for Florentine art by Fra
Bartolommeo and Del Sarto independently of Michael Angelo and Lionardo.
Angelo Bronzino, the pupil of Pontormo, is chiefly valuable for his
portraits. Hard and cold, yet obviously true to life, they form a gallery
of great interest for the historian of Duke Cosimo's reign. His frescoes
and allegories illustrate the defects that have been pointed out in those
of Raphael's and Buonarroti's imitators.[402] Want of thought and feeling,
combined with the presumptuous treatment of colossal and imaginative
subjects, renders these compositions inexpressibly chilling. The
psychologist, who may have read a poem from Bronzino's pen, will be
inclined to wonder how far this barren art was not connected with personal
corruption.[403] Such speculations are, however, apt to be misleading.

Siena, after a long period of inactivity, received a fresh impulse at the
same time as Florence. Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, or Razzi, called Il Sodoma,
was born at Vercelli about 1477. He studied in his youth under Lionardo da
Vinci, training his own exquisite sense of natural beauty in that
scientific school. From Milan, after a certain interval of time, he
removed to Rome, where he became a friend and follower of Raphael. These
double influences determined a style that never lost its own originality.
With what delicacy and _naïveté_, almost like a second Luini, but with
more of humour and sensuousness, he approached historic themes, may be
seen in his frescoes at Monte Oliveto.[404] They were executed before his
Roman visit, and show the facility of a most graceful improvisatore. One
painting representing the "Temptation of Monks by Dancing Women" carries
the melody of fluent lines and the seduction of fair girlish faces into a
region of pure poetry. These frescoes are superior to Sodoma's work in the
Farnesina. Impressed, as all artists were, by the monumental character of
Borne, and fired by Raphael's example, he tried to abandon his sketchy and
idyllic style for one of greater majesty and fulness. The delicious
freshness of his earlier manner was sacrificed; but his best efforts to
produce a grandiose composition ended in a confusion of individually
beautiful but ill-assorted motives. Like Luini, Sodoma was never
successful in pictures requiring combination and arrangement. He lacked
some sense of symmetry and sought to achieve massiveness by crowding
figures in a given space. When we compare his group of "S. Catherine
Fainting under the Stigmata" with the medley of agitated forms that make
up his picture of the same saint at Tuldo's execution, we see plainly that
he ought to have confined himself to the expression of very simple
themes.[405] The former is incomparable for its sweetness; the latter is
indistinct and wearying, in spite of many details that adorn it. Gifted
with an exquisite feeling for the beauty of the human body, Sodoma
excelled himself when he was contented with a single figure. His "S.
Sebastian," notwithstanding its wan and faded colouring, is still the very
best that has been painted.[406] Suffering, refined and spiritual, without
contortion or spasm, could not be presented with more pathos in a form of
more surpassing loveliness. This is a truly demonic picture in the
fascination it exercises and the memory it leaves upon the mind. Part of
its unanalysable charm may be due to the bold thought of combining the
beauty of a Greek Hylas with the Christian sentiment of martyrdom. Only
the Renaissance could have produced a hybrid so successful, because so
deeply felt.

Sodoma's influence at Siena, where he lived a picturesque life, delighting
in his horses and surrounding himself with strange four-footed pets of all
sorts, soon produced a school of worthy masters. Girolamo del Pacchia,
Domenico Beccafumi, and Baldassare Peruzzi, though they owed much to the
stimulus of his example, followed him in no servile spirit. Indeed, it may
be said that Pacchia's paintings in the Oratory of S. Bernardino, though
they lacked his siren beauty, are more powerfully composed; while
Peruzzi's fresco of "Augustus and the Sibyl," in the church of
Fontegiusta, has a monumental dignity unknown to Sodoma. Beccafumi is apt
to leave the spectator of his paintings cold. From inventive powers so
rich and technical excellence so thorough, we demand more than he can
give, and are therefore disappointed. His most interesting picture at
Siena is the "Stigmatisation of S. Catherine," famous for its mastery of
graduated whites. Much of the paved work of the Duomo is attributed to his
design. Both Beccafumi and Peruzzi felt the cold and manneristic Roman
style of rhetoric injuriously.

To mention the remaining schools of Italy in detail would be superfluous.
True art still flourished at Ferrara, where Garofalo endeavoured to carry
on the Roman manner of Raphael without the necessary strength or ideality,
but also without the soulless insincerity of the mannerists. His best
quality was colouring, gemlike and rich; but this found little scope for
exercise in the dry and laboured style he affected. Dosso Dossi fared
better, perhaps through having never experienced the seductions of Rome.
His glowing colour and quaint fancy give the attraction of romance to
many of his pictures. The "Circe," for example, of the Borghese Palace, is
worthy to rank with the best Renaissance work. It is perfectly original,
not even suggesting the influence of Venice by its deep and lustrous hues.
No painting is more fit to illustrate the "Orlando Innamorato." Just so,
we feel in looking at it, did Dragontina show herself to Boiardo's fancy.
Ariosto's Alcina belongs to a different family of magnificent witches.

Cremona, at this epoch, had a school of painters, influenced almost
equally by the Venetians, the Milanese, and the Roman mannerists. The
Campi family covered those grave Lombard vaults with stucco, fresco, and
gilding in a style only just removed from the _barocco_.[407] Brescia and
Bergamo remained within the influence of Venice, producing work of nearly
first-rate quality in Moretto, Romanino, and Lorenzo Lotto. Moroni, the
pupil of Moretto, was destined to become one of the most powerful
character painters of the modern world, and to enrich the studies of
historians and artists with a series of portraits impressive by their
fidelity to the spirit of the sixteenth century at its conclusion. Venice
herself at this period was still producing masterpieces of the genuine
Renaissance. But the decline into mannerism, caused by circumstances
similar to those of Rome, was not far distant.

It may seem strange to those who have visited the picture galleries of
Italy, and have noticed how very large a number of the painters flourished
after 1550, that I should have persistently spoken of the last half of the
sixteenth century as a period of decadence. This it was, however, in a
deep and true sense of the word. The force of the Renaissance was
exhausted, and a time of relaxation had to be passed through, before the
reaction known as the Counter-Reformation could make itself felt in art.
Then, and not till then, a new spiritual impulse produced a new style.
This secondary growth of painting began to flourish at Bologna in
accordance with fresh laws of taste. Religious sentiments of a different
order had to be expressed; society had undergone a change, and the arts
were governed by a genuine, if far inferior, inspiration. Meanwhile, the
Renaissance, so far as Italy is concerned, was ended.

It is one of the sad features of this subject, that each section has to
end in lamentation. Servitude in the sphere of politics; literary
feebleness in scholarship; decadence in art:--to shun these conclusions is
impossible. He who has undertaken to describe the parabola of a
projectile, cannot be satisfied with tracing its gradual rise and
determining its culmination. He must follow its spent force, and watch it
slowly sink with ever dwindling impetus to earth. Intellectual movements,
when we isolate them in a special country, observing the causes that set
them in motion and calculating their retarding influences, may, not
unreasonably, be compared to the parabola of a projectile. To shrink from
studying the decline of mental vigour in Italy upon the close of the
Renaissance, would be therefore weak; though the task of tracing the
impulse communicated by her previous energy to other nations, and their
stirring under a like movement, might be more agreeable.


[389] Frescoes in the Brera and at Lugano.

[390] S. Maurizio, on the Screen, inner church. Lugano in the Angeli.

[391] In the Brera. See also the Madonna, with Infant Christ, S. John,
and a Lamb, at Lugano.

[392] Side chapel of S. Maurizio at Milan. These frescoes are, in my
opinion, Luini's very best. The whole church is a wonderful monument of
Lombard art.

[393] "Crucifixion" at Lugano.

[394] See, for example, the oil-paintings in the cathedral of Como, so
fascinating in their details, so lame in composition.

[395] In the Brera.

[396] Frescoes at Saronno and in the Sacro Monte at Varallo.

[397] The whole lake-district of Italy, where the valleys of Monte Rosa
and the Simplon descend upon the plain of Lombardy, is rich in works of
this school. At Luino and Lugano, on the island of San Giulio, and in the
hill-set chapels of the Val Sesia, may be found traces of frescoes of
incomparable beauty. One of these sites deserves special mention. Just at
the point where the pathway of the Colma leaves the chestnut groves and
meadows to join the road leading to Varallo, there stands a little
chapel, with an open loggia of round Renaissance arches, designed and
painted, according to tradition, by Ferrari, and without doubt
representative of his manner. The harmony between its colours, so mellow
in their ruin, its graceful arcades and quiet roofing, and the glowing
tones of those granite mountains, with their wealth of vineyards, and
their forests of immemorial chestnut trees, is perfect beyond words.

[398] This, the last of the Stanze, was only in part designed by Raphael.
In spite of what I have said above, the "Battle of Constantine," planned
by Raphael, and executed by Giulio, is a grand example of a pupil's power
to carry out his master's scheme.

[399] Baroccio had great authority at Florence in the seventeenth
century, when the cult of Correggio had overspread all Italy.

[400] Pitti Palace.

[401] Franciabigio's and Rosso's frescoes stand beside Del Sarto's in the
atrium of the Annunziata at Florence. Pontormo's portraits of Cosimo and
Lorenzo de' Medici in the Uffizzi, though painted from busts and
medallions, have a real historical value.

[402] The "Christ in Limbo" in S. Lorenzo at Florence, and the detestable
picture of "Time, Beauty, Love, and Folly," in our National Gallery.

[403] _Opere Burlesche_, vol. iii. pp. 39-46.

[404] Near Siena. These pictures are a series of twenty-four subjects
from the life of S. Benedict.

[405] In the church of S. Domenico, Siena.

[406] In the Uffizzi. See also Sodoma's "Sacrifice of Isaac" in the
cathedral of Pisa, and the "Christ Bound to the Pillar" in the Academy at

[407] The church of S. Sigismondo, outside Cremona, is very interesting
for the unity of style in its architecture and decoration.



_The Pulpits of Pisa and Ravello_

Having tried to characterise Niccola Pisano's relation to early Italian
art in the second chapter of this volume, I adverted to the recent doubts
which have been thrown by very competent authorities upon Vasari's legend
of this master. Messrs. Crowe and Cavalcaselle, while discussing the
question of his birthplace and his early training, observe, what is no
doubt true, that there are no traces of good sculpture in Pisa antecedent
to the Baptistery pulpit of 1260, and remark that for such a phenomenon as
the sudden appearance of this masterpiece it is needful to seek some
antecedents elsewhere.[408] This leads them to ask whether Niccola did not
owe his origin and education to some other part of Italy. Finding at
Ravello, near Amain, a pulpit sculptured in 1272 by Niccola di Bartolommeo
da Foggia, they suggest that a school of stone-carvers may have flourished
at Foggia, and that Niccola Pisano, in spite of his signing himself
_Pisanus_ on the Baptistery pulpit, may have been an Apulian trained in
that school. The arguments adduced in favour of that hypothesis are that
Niccola's father, though commonly believed to have been Ser Pietro da
Siena, was perhaps called Pietro di Apulia,[409] and that meritorious
artists certainly existed at Foggia and Trani. Yet the resemblance of
style between the pulpits at Ravello [1272] and Pisa [1260], if that
indeed exists (whereof hereafter more must be said), might be used to
prove that Niccola da Foggia learned his art from Niccola Pisano, instead
of the contrary; nor again, supposing the Apulian school to have
flourished before 1260, is it inconsistent with the tradition of Niccola's
life that he should have learned the sculptor's craft while working in his
youth at Naples. For the rest, Messrs. Crowe and Cavalcaselle dismiss the
story of Pisano's studying the antique bas-reliefs at Pisa with
contempt;[410] but they omit to notice the actual transcripts from those
marbles introduced into his first pulpit. Again, they assume that the
lunette at Lucca was one of his latest works, giving precedence to the
pulpits of Pisa and Siena and the fountain of Perugia. A comparison of
style no doubt renders this view plausible; for the lunette at Lucca is
superior to any other of Pisano's works as a composition.

The full discussion of these points is rendered impossible by the want of
contemporary information, and each student must, therefore, remain
contented with his own hypothesis. Yet something can be said with regard
to the Ravello pulpit that plays so important a part in the argument of
the learned historians of Italian painting. Unless a strong similarity
between it and Pisano's pulpits can be proved, their hypothesis carries
with it no persuasion.

The pulpit in the cathedral of Ravello is formed like an ambo of the
antique type. That is to say, it is a long parallelogram with flat sides,
raised upon pillars, and approached by a flight of steps. These steps are
enclosed within richly-ornamented walls, and stand distinct from the
pulpit; a short bridge connects the two. The six pillars supporting the
ambo itself are slender twisted columns with classic capitals. Three rest
on lions, three on lionesses, admirably carved in different attitudes. A
small projection on the north side of the pulpit sustains an eagle
standing on a pillar, and spreading out his wings to bear an open book. On
the arch over the entrance to the staircase projects the head of
Sigelgaita, wife of Niccola Rufolo, the donor of the pulpit to the church,
sculptured in the style of the Roman decadence, between two profile
medallions in low relief.[411] The material of the whole is fair white
marble, enriched with mosaics, and wrought into beautiful scroll-work of
acanthus leaves and other Romanesque adornments. An inscription, "_Ego
Magister Nicolaus de Bartholomeo de Fogia Marmorarius hoc opus feci_;" and
another, "_Lapsis millenis bis centum bisque trigenis XPI. bissenis annis
ab origine plenis_," indicate the artist's name and the date of the work.

It is difficult to understand how anyone could trace such a resemblance
between this rectangular ambo and the hexagonal structure in the Pisan
Baptistery as would justify them in asserting both to be the products of
the same school. The pulpit of Niccola da Foggia does not materially
differ from other ambones in Italy--from several, for instance, in Amalfi
and Ravello; while the distinctive features of Niccola Pisano's work--the
combination of classically studied bas-reliefs with Gothic principles of
construction, the feeling for artistic unity in the composition of groups,
the mastery over plastic form, and the detached allegorical figures--are
noticeable only by their total absence from it. What is left by way of
similarity is a sculpturesque refinement in Sigelgaita's portrait, not
unworthy of Pisano's own chisel. This, however, is but a slender point
whereon to base so large a pyramid of pure conjecture. Surely we must look
elsewhere than at Ravello or at Foggia for the origin of Niccola Pisano.

Why then should we reject tradition in this instance? Messrs. Crowe and
Cavalcaselle reply; because the sculpture of no Tuscan city before his
period is good enough to have led up to him. Yet this may be contested;
and at all events it will not be easy to prove from the Ravello head of
Sigelgaita that a more advanced school existed in the south. The fact is
that the art of the stone-carvers or _marmorarii_ had never entirely died
out since the days of Roman greatness; nor was Niccola without respectable
predecessors in the very town of Lucca, where he produced the first
masterpiece of modern sculpture. The circular font of S. Frediano, for
example, carved with figures in high relief by a certain Robertus of the
twelfth century, combines the Romanesque mannerism with the _naïveté_ of
mediaeval fancy. I might point in particular to two knights seated on one
horse in what I take to be the company of Pharaoh crossing the Red Sea, as
an instance of a successful attempt to escape from the formalism of a
decayed style. At the same time the general effect of the embossed work of
this font is fine; nor do we fail to perceive that the artist retained
some portion of the classic feeling for grandiose and monumental
composition. Far less noteworthy, yet still not utterly despicable, is
the bas-relief of Biduinus over the side-door of S. Salvatore at Lucca.
What Niccola added of indefeasibly his own to the style of these
continuators of a dead tradition, was feeling for the beauty of classical
work in a good age, and through that feeling a more perfect sympathy with
nature. It is just at this point that the old tale about the sarcophagus
of the Countess Beatrice conveys not only the letter but the spirit of the
fact. Niccola's genius, no less vivid and life-giving than that of Giotto,
infused into the hard and formal manner of his immediate predecessors true
nature and true art. Between the bas-relief of S. Salvatore and the
bas-relief over the north door of the Duomo at Lucca, there is indeed a
broad gulf, yet such as might have been passed at one bound by a master
into whose soul the beauty of a fragment of Greek art had sunk, and who
had received at his birth the gift of a creative genius.


[408] _History of Painting in Italy_, vol. i. chap. iv.

[409] _Loc. cit_. p. 127, note.

[410] _Loc. cit._ p. 127.

[411] Mr. Perkins, following the suggestion of Panza, in his _Istoria
dell' Antica Republica d'Amalfi_, is inclined to think that this head
represents, not Sigelgaita, but Joanna II. of Naples, and is therefore
more than a century later in date than the pulpit. See _Italian
Sculptors_, p. 51.


_Michael Angelo's Sonnets_

After the death of Michael Angelo, the manuscripts of his sonnets,
madrigals, and other poems, written at various periods of his life, and
well known to his intimate friends, passed into the hands of his nephew,
Lionardo Buonarroti. From Lionardo they descended to his son, Michael
Angelo, who was himself a poet of some mark. This grand-nephew of the
sculptor prepared them for the press, and gave them to the world in 1623.
On his redaction the commonly received version of the poems rested until
1863, when Signor Cesare Guasti of Florence, having gained access to the
original manuscripts, published a critical edition, preserving every
peculiarity of the autograph, and adding a prose paraphrase for the
explanation of the text.

The younger Michael Angelo, working in an age of literary pedantry and
moral prudery, fancied that it was his duty to refine the style of his
great ancestor, and to remove allusions open to ignorant misconstruction.
Instead, therefore, of giving an exact transcript of the original poems,
he set himself to soften down their harshness, to clear away their
obscurity, to amplify, transpose, and mutilate according to his own ideas
of syntax, taste, and rhetoric. On the Dantesque ruggedness of Michael
Angelo he engrafted the prettiness of the seventeenth Petrarchisti; and
where he thought the morality of the poems was questionable, especially in
the case of those addressed to Cavalieri, he did not hesitate to introduce
such alterations as destroyed their obvious intention. In order to
understand the effect of this method, it is only necessary to compare the
autograph as printed by Guasti with the version of 1623. In Sonnet xxxi.,
for example, the two copies agree in only one line, while the remaining
thirteen are distorted and adorned with superfluous conceits by the
over-scrupulous but not too conscientious editor of 1623.[412]

Michael Angelo's poems, even after his grand-nephew had tried to reduce
them to lucidity and order, have always been considered obscure and
crabbed. Nor can it be pretended that they gain in smoothness and
clearness by the restoration of the true readings. On the contrary,
instances of defective grammar, harsh elisions, strained metaphors, and
incomplete expressions are multiplied. The difficulty of comprehending the
sense is rather increased than diminished, and the obstacles to a
translator become still more insurmountable than Wordsworth found
them.[413] This being undoubtedly the case, the value of Guasti's edition
for students of Michael Angelo is nevertheless inestimable. We read now
for the first time what the greatest man of the sixteenth century actually
wrote, and are able to enter, without the interference of a fictitious
veil, into the shrine of his own thought and feeling. His sonnets form the
best commentary on Michael Angelo's solitary life and on his sublime ideal
of art. This reflection has guided me in the choice of those now offered
in English, as an illustration of the chapter in this volume devoted to
their author's biography.

Though the dates of Michael Angelo's compositions are conjectural, it may
be assumed that the two sonnets on Dante were written when he was himself
in exile. We know that, while sojourning in the house of Gian Francesco
Aldovrandini at Bologna, he used to spend a portion of his time in reading
Dante aloud to his protector;[414] and the indignation expressed against
Florence, then as ever fickle and ungrateful, the _gente avara, invidiosa,
e superba_, to use Dante's own words, seems proper to a period of just
resentment. Still there is no certainty that they belong to 1495; for
throughout his long life Michael Angelo was occupied with Dante. A story
told of him in 1506, together with the dialogues reported by Donato
Giannotti, prove that he was regarded by his fellow-citizens as an
authority upon the meaning of the "Divine Comedy."[415] In 1518, when the
Florentine Academy petitioned Leo X. to transport the bones of Dante from
Ravenna to Florence, Michael Angelo subscribed the document and offered to
erect a statue worthy of the poet.[416] How deeply the study of Dante
influenced his art, appears not only in the lower part of the "Last
Judgment:" we feel that source of stern and lofty inspiration in his style
at large; nor can we reckon what the world lost when his volume of
drawings in illustration of the "Divine Comedy" perished at sea.[417] The
two following sonnets, therefore, whenever written, may be taken as
expressing his settled feeling about the first and greatest of Italian


    From heaven his spirit came, and robed in clay
      The realms of justice and of mercy trod,
      Then rose a living man to gaze on God,
    That he might make the truth as clear as day.
    For that pure star that brightened with his ray
      The ill-deserving nest where I was born,
      The whole wide world would be a prize to scorn;
    None but his Maker can due guerdon pay.

    I speak of Dante, whose high work remains
      Unknown, unhonoured by that thankless brood,
      Who only to just men deny their wage.
    Were I but he! Born for like lingering pains,
      Against his exile coupled with his good
      I'd gladly change the world's best heritage!


    No tongue can tell of him what should be told,
      For on blind eyes his splendour shines too strong;
      'Twere easier to blame those who wrought him wrong,
    Than sound his least praise with a mouth of gold.

    He to explore the place of pain was bold,
      Then soared to God, to teach our souls by song;
      The gates heaven oped to bear his feet along,
    Against his just desire his country rolled.

    Thankless I call her, and to her own pain
      The nurse of fell mischance; for sign take this,
      That ever to the best she deals more scorn:
    Among a thousand proofs let one remain;
      Though ne'er was fortune more unjust than his,
      His equal or his better ne'er was born.

About the date of the two next sonnets there is less doubt. The first was
clearly written when Michael Angelo was smarting under a sense of the
ill-treatment he received from Julius. The second, composed at Rome, is
interesting as the only proof we possess of the impression made upon his
mind by the anomalies of the Papal rule. Here, in the capital of
Christendom, he writes, holy things are sold for money to be used in
warfare, and the pontiff, _quel nel manto_, paralyses the powers of the
sculptor by refusing him employment.[419]


    My Lord! if ever ancient saw spake sooth,
      Hear this which saith: Who can, doth never will.
      Lo! thou hast lent thine ear to fables still,
    Rewarding those who hate the name of truth.
    I am thy drudge and have been from my youth--
      Thine, like the rays which the sun's circle fill;
      Yet of my dear time's waste thou think'st no ills
    The more I toil, the less I move thy ruth.

    Once 'twas my hope to raise me by thy height;
      But 'tis the balance and the powerful sword
      Of Justice, not false Echo, that we need.
    Heaven, as it seems, plants virtue in despite
      Here on the earth, if this be our reward--
      To seek for fruit on trees too dry to breed.


    Here helms and swords are made of chalices:
      The blood of Christ is sold so much the quart:
      His cross and thorns are spears and shields; and short
    Must be the time ere even his patience cease.
    Nay let Him come no more to raise the fees
      Of fraud and sacrilege beyond report!
      For Rome still slays and sells Him at the court,
    Where paths are closed to virtue's fair increase.

    Now were fit time for me to scrape a treasure,
      Seeing that work and gain are gone; while he
      Who wears the robe, is my Medusa still.
    Perchance in heaven poverty is a pleasure:
      But of that better life what hope have we,
      When the blessed banner leads to nought but ill?

A third sonnet of this period is intended to be half burlesque, and,
therefore, is composed _a coda_, as the Italians describe the lengthened
form of the conclusion. It was written while Michael Angelo was painting
the roof of the Sistine, and was sent to his friend Giovanni da Pistoja.
The effect of this work, as Vasari tells us, on his eyesight was so
injurious, that, for some time after its completion, he could only read by
placing the book or manuscript above his head and looking up.[420]


    I've grown a goitre by dwelling in this den--
      As cats from stagnant streams in Lombardy,
      Or in what other land they hap to be--
    Which drives the belly close beneath the chin:
    My beard turns up to heaven; my nape falls in,
      Fixed on my spine: my breast-bone visibly
      Grows like a harp: a rich embroidery
    Bedews my face from brush-drops thick and thin.
    My loins into my paunch like levers grind;
      My buttock like a crupper bears my weight;
      My feet unguided wander to and fro;

    In front my skin grows loose and long; behind,
      By bending it becomes more taut and strait;
      Backward I strain me like a Syrian bow:
      Whence false and quaint, I know,
      Must be the fruit of squinting brain and eye;
      For ill can aim the gun that bends awry.
          Come then, Giovanni, try
      To succour my dead pictures and my fame;
      Since foul I fare and painting is my shame.

The majority of the sonnets are devoted to love and beauty, conceived in
the spirit of exalted Platonism. They are supposed to have been written in
the latter period of his life, when he was about sixty years of age; and
though we do not know for certain to whom they were in every case
addressed, they may be used in confirmation of what I have said about his
admiration for Vittoria Colonna and Tommaso Cavalieri.[421] The following,
with its somewhat obscure adaptation of a Platonic theory of creation to
his own art, was probably composed soon after Vittoria Colonna's


    When my rude hammer to the stubborn stone
      Gives human shape, now that, now this, at will,
      Following his hand who wields and guides it still,
    It moves upon another's feet alone.
    But He who dwells in heaven all things doth fill
      With beauty by pure motions of his own;
      And since tools fashion tools which else were none,
    His life makes all that lives with living skill.

    Now, for that every stroke excels the more
      The closer to the forge it still ascend,
      Her soul that quickened mine hath sought the skies:
    Wherefore I find my toil will never end,
      If God, the great artificer, denies
      That tool which was my only aid before.

The next is peculiarly valuable, as proving with what intense and
religious fervour Michael Angelo addressed himself to the worship of
intellectual beauty. He alone, in that age of sensuality and animalism,
pierced through the form of flesh and sought the divine idea it


    As one who will reseek her home of light,
      Thy form immortal to this prison-house
      Descended, like an angel piteous,
    To heal all hearts and make the whole world bright.
    'Tis this that thralls my heart in love's delight,
      Not thy clear face of beauty glorious;
      For he who harbours virtue, still will choose
    To love what neither years nor death can blight.

    So fares it ever with things high and rare,
      Wrought in the sweat of nature; heaven above
      Showers on their birth the blessings of her prime;
    Nor hath God deigned to show Himself elsewhere
      More clearly than in human forms sublime;
      Which, since they image Him, compel my love.

The same Platonic theme is slightly varied in the two following


    Choice soul, in whom, as in a glass, we see,
      Mirrored in thy pure form and delicate,
      What beauties heaven and nature can create,
    The paragon of all their works to be!
    Fair soul, in whom love, pity, piety,
      Have found a home, as from thy outward state
      We clearly read, and are so rare and great
    That they adorn none other like to thee!

    Love takes me captive; beauty binds my soul;
      Pity and mercy with their gentle eyes
      Wake in my heart a hope that cannot cheat.
    What law, what destiny, what fell control,
      What cruelty, or late or soon, denies
      That death should spare perfection so complete?


    From sweet laments to bitter joys, from peace
      Eternal to a brief and hollow truce,
      How have I fallen!--when 'tis truth we lose,
    Mere sense survives our reason's dear decease.
    I know not if my heart bred this disease,
      That still more pleasing grows with growing use;
      Or else thy face, thine eyes, in which the hues
    And fires of Paradise dart ecstasies.

    Thy beauty is no mortal thing; 'twas sent
      From heaven on high to make our earth divine:
      Wherefore, though wasting, burning, I'm content;
    For in thy sight what could I do but pine?
      If God Himself thus rules my destiny,
      Who, when I die, can lay the blame on thee?

The next is saddened by old age and death. Love has yielded to piety, and
is only remembered as what used to be. Yet in form and feeling this is
quite one of the most beautiful in the series supposed to refer to
Vittoria Colonna:[425]--


    Bring back the time when blind desire ran free,
      With bit and rein too loose to curb his flight;
      Give back the buried face, once angel-bright,
    That hides in earth all comely things from me;
    Bring back those journeys ta'en so toilsomely,
      So toilsome-slow to him whose hairs are white;
      Those tears and flames that in one breast unite;
    If thou wilt once more take thy fill of me!

    Yet Love! Suppose it true that thou dost thrive
      Only on bitter honey-dews of tears,
      Small profit hast thou of a weak old man.
    My soul that toward the other shore doth strive,
      Wards off thy darts with shafts of holier fears;
      And fire feeds ill on brands no breath can fan.

After this it only remains to quote the celebrated sonnet used by Varchi
for his dissertation, the best known of all Michael Angelo's poems.[426]
The thought is this: just as a sculptor hews from a block of marble the
form that lies concealed within, so the lover has to extract from his
lady's heart the life or death of his soul,


    The best of artists hath no thought to show
      Which the rough stone in its superfluous shell
      Doth not include: to break the marble spell
    Is all the hand that serves the brain can do.
    The ill I shun, the good I seek, even so
      In thee, fair lady, proud, ineffable,
      Lies hidden: but the art I wield so well
    Works adverse to my wish, and lays me low.

    Therefore not love, nor thy transcendent face,
      Nor cruelty, nor fortune, nor disdain,
      Cause my mischance, nor fate, nor destiny:
    Since in thy heart thou carriest death and grace
      Enclosed together, and my worthless brain
      Can draw forth only death to feed on me.

The fire of youth was not extinct, we feel, after reading these last
sonnets. There is, indeed, an almost pathetic intensity of passion in the
recurrence of Michael Angelo's thoughts to a sublime love on the verge of
the grave. Not less important in their bearing on his state of feeling are
the sonnets addressed to Cavalieri; and though his modern editor shrinks
from putting a literal interpretation upon them, I am convinced that we
must accept them simply as an expression of the artist's homage for the
worth and beauty of an excellent young man. The two sonnets I intend to
quote next[427] were written, according to Varchi's direct testimony, for
Tommaso Cavalieri, "in whom"--the words are Varchi's--"I discovered,
besides incomparable personal beauty, so much charm of nature, such
excellent abilities, and such a graceful manner, that he deserved, and
still deserves, to be the better loved the more he is known." The play of
words upon Cavalieri's name in the last line of the first sonnet, the
evidence of Varchi, and the indirect witness of Condivi, together with
Michael Angelo's own letters,[428] are sufficient in my judgment to
warrant the explanation I have given above. Nor do I think that the doubts
expressed by Guasti about the intention of the sonnets,[429] or Gotti's
curious theory that the letters, though addressed to Cavalieri, were meant
for Vittoria Colonna,[430] are much more honourable to Michael Angelo's
reputation than the garbling process whereby the verses were rendered
unintelligible in the edition of 1623.


    Why should I seek to ease intense desire
      With still more tears and windy words of grief,
      When heaven, or late or soon, sends no relief
    To souls whom love hath robed around with fire?
    Why need my aching heart to death aspire
      When all must die? Nay, death beyond belief
      Unto these eyes would be both sweet and brief,
    Since in my sum of woes all joys expire!

    Therefore because I cannot shun the blow
      I rather seek, say who must rule my breast,
      Gliding between her gladness and her woe?
    If only chains and bands can make me blest,
      No marvel if alone and bare I go
      An armed Knight's captive and slave confessed.


    With your fair eyes a charming light I see,
      For which my own blind eyes would peer in vain;
      Stayed by your feet the burden I sustain
    Which my lame feet find all too strong for me;
    Wingless upon your pinions forth I fly;
      Heavenward your spirit stirreth me to strain;
      E'en as you will, I blush and blanch again,
    Freeze in the sun, burn 'neath a frosty sky.

    Your will includes and is the lord of mine;
      Life to my thoughts within your heart is given;
      My words begin to breathe upon your breath:
    Like to the moon am I, that cannot shine
      Alone; for lo! our eyes see nought in heaven
      Save what the living sun illumineth.

Whether we are justified in assigning the following pair to the Cavalieri
series is more doubtful. They seem, however, to proceed from a similar
mood of the poet's mind.[431]


    If love be chaste, if virtue conquer ill,
      If fortune bind both lovers in one bond,
      If either at the other's grief despond,
    If both be governed by one life, one will;
    If in two bodies one soul triumph still,
      Raising the twain from earth to heaven beyond,
      If love with one blow and one golden wand
    Have power both smitten breasts to pierce and thrill;

    If each the other love, himself foregoing,
      With such delight, such savour, and so well,
      That both to one sole end their wills combine;
    If thousands of these thoughts all thought outgoing
      Fail the least part of their firm love to tell;
      Say, can mere angry spite this knot untwine?


    He who ordained, when first the world began,
      Time that was not before creation's hour,
      Divided it, and gave the sun's high power
    To rule the one, the moon the other span:
    Thence fate and changeful chance and fortune's ban
      Did in one moment down on mortals shower:
      To me they portioned darkness for a dower;
    Dark hath my lot been since I was a man.

    Myself am ever mine own counterfeit;
      And as deep night grows still more dim and dun,
      So still of more mis-doing must I rue:
    Meanwhile this solace to my soul is sweet,
      That my black night doth make more clear the sun
      Which at your birth was given to wait on you.

A sonnet written for Luigi del Riccio, on the death of his friend Cecchino
Bracci, is curious on account of its conceit.[432] Michael Angelo says:
"Cecchino, whom you loved, is dead; and if I am to make his portrait, I
can only do so by drawing you, in whom he still lives." Here, again, we
trace the Platonic conception of love as nothing if not spiritual, and of
beauty as a form that finds its immortality within the lover's soul. This
Cecchino was a boy who died at the age of seventeen. Michael Angelo wrote
his epicedion in several centuries of verses, distributed among his
friends in the form of what he terms _polizzini_, as though they were


    Scarce had I seen for the first time his eyes
      Which to thy living eyes are life and light,
      When closed at last in death's injurious night
    He opened them on God in Paradise.
    I know it and I weep, too late made wise:
      Yet was the fault not mine; for death's fell spite
      Robbed my desire of that supreme delight,
    Which in thy better memory never dies.

    Therefore, Luigi, if the task be mine
      To make unique Cecchino smile in stone
      For ever, now that earth hath made him dim,
    If the beloved within the lover shine,
      Since art without him cannot work alone,
      Thee must I carve to tell the world of him.

In contrast with the philosophical obscurity of many of the sonnets
hitherto quoted, I place the following address to Night--one, certainly,
of Michael Angelo's most beautiful and characteristic compositions, as it
is also the most transparent in style[433]:--


    O night, O sweet though sombre span of time!--
      All things find rest upon their journey's end--
      Whoso hath praised thee, well doth apprehend;
    And whoso honours thee, hath wisdom's prime.
    Our cares thou canst to quietude sublime,
      For dews and darkness are of peace the friend;
      Often by thee in dreams upborne I wend
    From earth to heaven, where yet I hope to climb.

    Thou shade of Death, through whom the soul at length
      Shuns pain and sadness hostile to the heart,
      Whom mourners find their last and sure relief!
    Thou dost restore our suffering flesh to strength,
      Driest our tears, assuagest every smart,
      Purging the spirits of the pure from grief.

The religious sonnets have been reserved to the last. These were composed
in old age, when the early impressions of Savonarola's teaching revived,
and when Michael Angelo had grown to regard even his art and the beauty he
had loved go purely, as a snare. If we did not bear in mind the piety
expressed throughout his correspondence, their ascetic tone, and the
remorse they seem to indicate, would convey a painful sense of
cheerlessness and disappointment. As it is, they strike me as the natural
utterance of a profoundly devout and somewhat melancholy man, in whom
religion has survived all other interests, and who, reviewing his past
life of fame and toil, finds that the sole reality is God. The two first
of these compositions are addressed to Giorgio Vasari.[434]


    Now hath my life across a stormy sea
      Like a frail bark reached that wide port where all
      Are bidden ere the final judgment fall,
    Of good or evil deeds to pay the fee.
    Now know I well how that fond phantasy
      Which made my soul the worshipper and thrall
      Of earthly art, is vain; how criminal
    Is that which all men seek unwillingly.

    Those amorous thoughts which were so lightly dressed,
      What are they when the double death is nigh?
      The one I know for sure, the other dread.
    Painting nor sculpture now can lull to rest
      My soul that turns to His great love on high,
      Whose arms to clasp us on the cross were spread.


    The fables of the world have filched away
      The time I had for thinking upon God;
      His grace lies buried deep 'neath oblivion's sod,
    Whence springs an evil-crop of sins alway.
    What makes another wise, leads me astray,
      Slow to discern the bad path I have trod:
      Hope fades; but still desire ascends that God
    May free me from self-love, my sure decay.

    Shorten half-way my road to heaven from earth?
      Dear Lord, I cannot even half-way rise,
      Unless Thou help me on this pilgrimage:
    Teach me to hate the world so little worth,
      And all the lovely things I once did prize;
      That endless life, not death, may be my wage.

The same note is struck in the following, which breathes the spirit of a
Penitential Psalm:[435]--


    Burdened with years and full of sinfulness,
      With evil custom grown inveterate,
      Both deaths I dread that close before me wait,
    Yet feed my heart on poisonous thoughts no less.
    No strength I find in mine own feebleness
      To change or life or love or use or fate,
      Unless Thy heavenly guidance come, though late,
    Which only helps and stays our nothingness.

    'Tis not enough, dear Lord, to make me yearn
      For that celestial home, where yet my soul
      May be new made, and not, as erst, of nought:
    Nay, ere Thou strip her mortal vestment, turn
      My steps toward the steep ascent, that whole
      And pure before Thy face she may be brought.

In reading the two next, we may remember that, at the end of his life,
Michael Angelo was occupied with designs for a picture of the Crucifixion,
which he never executed, though he gave a drawing of Christ upon the cross
to Vittoria Colonna; and that his last work in marble was the unfinished
"Pietà" in the Duomo at Florence.[436]


    Freed from a burden sore and grievous band,
      Dear Lord, and from this wearying world untied,
      Like a frail bark I turn me to Thy side,
    As from a fierce storm to a tranquil land.
    Thy thorns, Thy nails, and either bleeding hand,
      With Thy mild gentle piteous face, provide
      Promise of help and mercies multiplied,
    And hope that yet my soul secure may stand.

    Let not Thy holy eyes be just to see
      My evil past, Thy chastened ears to hear
      And stretch the arm of judgment to my crime:
    Let Thy blood only lave and succour me,
      Yielding more perfect pardon, better cheer
      As older still I grow with lengthening time.


    Not less elate than smitten with wild woe
      To see not them but Thee by death undone,
      Were those blest souls, when Thou above the sun
    Didst raise, by dying, men that lay so low:
    Elate, since freedom from all ills that flow
      From their first fault for Adam's race was won;
      Sore smitten, since in torment fierce God's son
    Served servants on the cruel cross below.

    Heaven showed she knew Thee, who Thou wert and whence,
      Veiling her eyes above the riven earth;
      The mountains trembled and the seas were troubled:
    He took the Fathers from hell's darkness dense:
      The torments of the damned fiends redoubled:
      Man only joyed, who gained baptismal birth.

The collection of his poems is closed with yet another sonnet in the same
lofty strain of prayer, and faith, and hope in God.[437]


    Mid weariness and woe I find some cheer
      In thinking of the past, when I recall
      My weakness and my sins and reckon all
    The vain expense of days that disappear:
    This cheers by making, ere I die, more clear
      The frailty of what men delight miscall;
      But saddens me to think how rarely fall
    God's grace and mercies in life's latest year.

    For though Thy promises our faith compel,
      Yet, Lord, what man shall venture to maintain
      That pity will condone our long neglect?
    Still, from Thy blood poured forth we know full well
      How without measure was Thy martyr's pain,
      How measureless the gifts we dare expect.

From the thought of Dante, through Plato, to the thought of Christ: so our
study of Michael Angelo's sonnets has carried us. In communion with these
highest souls Michael Angelo habitually lived; for he was born of their
lineage, and was like them a lifelong alien on the earth.


[412] See Guasti's _Rime di Michel Agnolo Buonarrote_, Firenzi, 1863, p.
189. The future references will be made to that edition.

[413] "I can translate, and have translated, two books of Ariosto at the
rate nearly of one hundred lines a day; but so much meaning has been put
by Michael Angelo into so little room, and that meaning sometimes so
excellent in itself, that I found the difficulty of translating him
insurmountable."--Note to Wordsworth's English version of some sonnets of
Michael Angelo.

[414] See above, Chapter VIII, The Pietà.

[415] See Gotti's Life, p. 48, and Giannotti's works (Firenze, Le
Monnier, 1850), quoted by Gotti, pp. 249-257.

[416] See Appendix to Gotti's Life, No. 25.

[417] See Gotti's Life, p. 256.

[418] Guasti, pp. 153-155.

[419] Guasti, pp. 156, 167.

[420] Guasti, p. 158.

[421] See above, Chapter VIII, Vittoria Colonna.

[422] Guasti, p. 226.

[423] Guasti, p. 218.

[424] _Ib._ pp. 182, 210.

[425] Guasti, p. 212.

[426] Delivered before the Florentine Academy in 1546. See Guasti, p.
173, for the sonnet, and p. lxxv. for the dissertation. See also Gotti,
p. 249, for Michael Angelo's remarks upon the latter.

[427] Guasti, pp. 189, 188.

[428] See _Archivio Buonarroti_; and above, p. 318, note 2.

[429] _Rime_, p. xlv.

[430] Gotti's Life, pp. 231-233.

[431] Guasti, pp. 190-202.

[432] Ib. p. 162.

[433] Guasti, p. 205.

[434] Guasti, pp. 230-232.

[435] Guasti, pp. 244, 245.

[436] Ib. pp. 241-245.

[437] Guasti, p. 246.


_Chronological Tables of the Principal Artists mentioned in this Volume_

The lists which follow have been, drawn up with a view to assisting the
reader of my chapters on Architecture, Sculpture, and Painting. I have
only included the more prominent names; and these I have placed in the
order of their occurrence in the foregoing pages. In compiling them, I
have consulted the Index to Le Monnier's edition of Vasari (1870), Crowe
and Cavalcaselle's "History of Painting," and Milizia's "Dictionary of


Name                          Born        Died
Arnolfo di Cambio             1210        1311
Giotto di Bondone             1276        1337
Andrea Orcagna                 --   about 1369
Filippo Brunelleschi          1377        1446
Leo Battista Alberti          1405        1472
Michellozzo Michellozzi       1391        1472
Benedetto da Majano           1442        1497
Giuliano di San Gallo         1445        1516
Antonio di San Gallo          1455        1534?
Antonio Filarete               --         1465?
Bramante Lazzari              1444        1514
Cristoforo Rocchi              --          --
Ventura Vitoni                 --          --
Raffaello Santi               1483        1520
Giulio Romano                 1499        1546
Baldassare Peruzzi            1481        1536
Jacopo Sansovino              1477        1570
Michele Sanmicheli            1484        1559
Baccio d'Agnolo               1462        1543
Michael Angelo Buonarroti     1475        1564
Andrea Palladio               1518        1580
Giacomo Barozzi               1507        1573
Vincenzo Scamozzi             1552        1616
Galeazzo Alessi               1500        1572
Bartolommeo Ammanati          1511        1592


Name                          Born        Died
Niccola Pisano          after 1200        1278
Giovanni Pisano         about 1240        1320
Lorenzo Maitani                --         1330
Andrea Pisano           about 1273  about 1349
Giotto di Bondone             1276        1337
Nino Pisano                    --   about 1360
Giovanni Balduccio      about 1300  about 1347
Filippo Calendario             --         1355
Andrea Orcagna                 --   about 1369
Lorenzo Ghiberti              1378        1455
Giacomo della Quercia         1374        1438
Filippo Brunelleschi          1377        1446
Donatello                     1366        1466
Andrea Verocchio              1435        1488
Alessandro Leopardi            --   after 1522
Antonio Pollajuolo            1429        1498
Piero Pollajuolo              1441        1489?
Luca della Robbia             1400        1482
Agostino di Duccio             --   after 1461
Antonio Rossellino            1427        1478?
Matteo Civitali               1435        1501
Mino da Fiesole               1431        1484
Desiderio da Settignano       1428        1464
Guido Mazzoni                  --         1518
Antonio Begarelli             1479  about 1565
Antonio Amadeo                1447? about 1520
Andrea Contucci               1460        1529
Jacopo Sansovino              1477        1570
Michael Angelo Buonarroti     1475        1564
Raffaello da Montelupo        1505        1567
Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli    1507        1563
Baccio Bandinelli             1493        1560
Bartolommeo Ammanati          1511        1592
Benvenuto Cellini             1500        1571
Gian Bologna                  1524        1608


Name                          Born        Died
Giovanni Cimabue              1240?       1302?
Giotto di Bondone             1276        1337
Andrea Orcagna                 --   about 1369
Ambrogio Lorenzetti            --   about 1348
Pietro Lorenzetti              --   about 1350
Taddeo Gaddi            about 1300        1366
Francesco Traini               --   after 1378
Duccio di Buoninsegna          --   about 1320
Simone Martini                1285?       1344
Taddeo di Bartolo       about 1362        1422
Spinello Aretino               --         1410
Masolino da Panicale          1384        1447?
Masaccio                      1402        1429
Paolo Uccello                 1397        1475
Andrea del Castagno           1396        1457
Piero della Francesca         1420?       1506?
Melozzo da Forli        about 1438        1494
Francesco Squarcione          1394        1474
Gentile da Fabriano     about 1370  about 1450
Fra Angelico                  1387        1455
Benozzo Gozzoli               1420        1498
Lippo Lippi                   1412?       1469
Filippino Lippi               1457        1504
Sandro Botticelli             1447        1510
Piero di Cosimo               1462        1521?
Domenico Ghirlandajo          1449 before 1498
Andrea Mantegna               1431        1506
Luca Signorelli         about 1441        1523
Pietro Perugino               1446        1524
Bernardo Pinturicchio         1454        1513
Francesco Francia             1450        1517
Fra Bartolommeo               1475        1517
Mariotto Albertinelli         1474        1515
Lionardo da Vinci             1452        1519
Raffaello Santi               1483        1520
Antonio Allegri da Correggio  1494?       1534
Michael Angelo Buonarroti     1475        1564
Bartolommeo Vivarini           --   after 1499
Jacopo Bellini                1400?       1464?
Gentile Bellini               1426        1507
Vittore Carpaccio              --   after 1519
Giovanni Bellini              1427        1516
Giorgione                     1478        1511
Tiziano Vecelli               1477        1576
Paolo Veronese                1530        1588
Tintoretto                    1512        1594
Giovanni Antonio Beltraffio   1467        1516
Marco d' Oggiono        about 1470        1530
Cesare da Sesto                --   about 1524
Bernardino Luini        about 1460  after 1530
Gaudenzio Ferrari             1484        1549
Giulio Romano                 1499        1546
Giovanni da Udine             1487        1564
Perino del Vaga               1499        1547
Marcello Venusti               --   about 1584
Sebastian del Piombo          1485        1547
Daniele da Volterra     about 1509        1566
Il Parmigianino               1504        1540
Federigo Baroccio             1528        1612
Andrea del Sarto              1487        1531
Jacopo Pontormo               1494        1557
Angelo Bronzino               1502        1572
Il Sodoma                     1477        1549
Baldassare Peruzzi            1481        1536
Domenico Beccafumi            1486        1551
Benvenuto Garofalo            1481        1559
Dosso Dossi             about 1479        1542
Il Moretto              about 1500  after 1556
Giovanni Battista Moroni      1510        1578
Giorgio Vasari                1511        1574

[Transcribers Note: The references in the Footnotes which contain the text
"See Chapter" were depicted in the original text as page numbers. They
have been changed to the paragraph heading for that page as marked in
the Chapter Headings in this text version.]

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