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Title: A history of Italian painting
Author: Mather, Frank Jewett
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A history of Italian painting" ***

                      _BOOKS BY THE SAME AUTHOR_—

             THE COLLECTORS
             ESTIMATES IN ART




                              A HISTORY OF
                            ITALIAN PAINTING


                        FRANK JEWETT MATHER, JR.
                             PH.D., L.H.D.

        Professor of Art and Archaeology in Princeton University



                        STANLEY PAUL & CO., LTD.

                   31, ESSEX STREET, STRAND, W. C. 2


                Printed in the United States of America


                                =B. B.=

                             IN FRIENDSHIP


This book has grown out of lectures which were delivered at the
Cleveland Art Museum in 1919–20. There I had ideal hearers, beginners
who wanted to learn and were willing to follow a serious discussion.
Since I aim at the same sort of a reader now, I have only slightly
retouched and amplified the original manuscript. This is frankly a
beginner’s book. I have had to omit whatever might confuse the novice,
including many painters inherently delightful. Controversial problems
for the same reason have been when possible avoided. When, however, I
have had to cope with such, I have depended more on my own eyes and
judgment than on the written words of others. But the latest literature
has also been used, so that even the adept should here and there find
something to his purpose.

For opinions on contested points, I have given my authority or personal
reason in notes, which, in order not to clutter up the text, are printed
at the end. By the same token, hints on reading and private study are
tucked away in the last pages where they will not bother readers who do
not need or want them. While I hope the book will be welcome in the
classroom, I have had as much in mind the intelligent traveller in
Europe and the private student. Throughout I have had before me the kind
of introduction to Italian painting that would have been helpful to me
thirty years ago in those days of bewildered enthusiasm when I was
making my _Grand Tour_.

                                                              THE AUTHOR


 CHAPTER                                                          PAGE
      I. GIOTTO AND THE NEW FLORENTINE HUMANISM                      1
    III. MASACCIO AND THE NEW REALISM                              109
    VII. VENETIAN PAINTING BEFORE TITIAN                           323
     IX. THE REALISTS AND ECLECTICS                                451
         NOTES                                                     473
         HINTS FOR READING                                         489
         INDEX                                                     491

                               CHAPTER I

  The Florentine ideal of Mass and Emotion—Its Humanism—The City of
      Florence about 1300—The Position and Methods of the Painter—The
      General demand for Religious Painting—Accelerated by the religious
      reforms of 1200, and changed in character—Insufficiency of the
      current Italo-Byzantine Style—Experiments towards a new manner:
      Duccio and the Sienese, Cimabue, Cavallini and the “Isaac
      Master”—Giotto—Immediate followers of Giotto, Andrea Orcagna and
      the return to sculptural methods—Later Panoramists, Andrea
      Bonaiuti and the Spanish Chapel.

Leonardo da Vinci, from the summit of Florentine art, has written “What
should first be judged in seeing if a picture be good is whether the
movements are appropriate to the mind of the figure that moves.” And
again he has expressed somewhat differently the highest merits of
painting as “the creation of relief (projection) where there is none.”
For Florence, at least, these notions are authoritative, and they may
well serve as text for most that I shall say about Florentine painting.
To give significant emotion convincing mass—this was the problem of the
Florentine painter from the moment when Giotto about the year 1300 began
to find himself, to that day more than two centuries and a half later
when Michelangelo died. No Florentine master of a strenuous sort ever
failed to perceive this mission, and no unstrenuous artist was ever
fully Florentine. This twofold aim—humanistic, in choice and mastery of
emotion; scientific, in search for those indications which most vividly
express mass where no mass is—this twofold endeavor Florence shared with
the only greater city of art, Athens. Thus Florence is to the art of
today what Athens was to that of classical antiquity.

In these two little communal republics were discovered and worked out to
perfection all our ideals of humanistic beauty. Florence saw God, His
Divine Son, the Blessed Virgin, and the saints quite as Athens had seen
the gods of Olympus, the demi-gods, and the heroes simply as men and
women of the noblest physical and moral type. Both agreed in magnifying
and idealizing the people one ordinarily sees. For greater beauty,
Athens represented them nude or lightly draped; for greater dignity,
Florence chose the solemn garb of the Roman forum. Whether pagan or
Christian, the guardians of a people’s morality were to be above haste,
excitement, or any transient emotion. They were to express intensities
of feeling, but a feeling more composed, permanent, and disciplined,
than that of every day. Judgment and criticism count for as much in both
arts as emotional inspiration. The great Florentine artist is a thinker;
he is often poet and scientist, sculptor and architect, besides being a
painter. Behind his painting lies always a problem of mind, and as sheer
personalities the greatest painters of Siena, Venice, and Lombardy often
seem mere nobodies when compared even with the minor Florentines. We
should know something about a city that produced personality so
generously, and before considering Giotto, the first great painter
Florence bred, we shall do well to look at Florence as he saw it about
the year 1300, being a man in the thirties.

Florence was then as now a little city, its population about 100,000
souls, but it was growing. The old second wall of about two miles’
circuit was already condemned in favor of a turreted circuit of over
six. Up the Arno the forest-clad ridge of Vallombrosa was much as it is
today; down the valley the jagged peaks of the Carrara mountains barred
the way to the sea. The surrounding vineyards and olive orchards by
reason of encroaching forest were less extensive than they are now, but
through every gate and from every tower one could see smiling fields
guarded by battlemented villas. In the city, the fortress towers of the
old nobility, partizans mostly of the foreign Emperor, rose thickly, but
already dismantled at their fighting tops, for the people, meaning
strictly the ruling merchant and manufacturing classes, had lately taken
the rule from the old nobles. Many of these had fled; some had been
banished, as was soon to be that reckless advocate of the emperor, Dante
Alighieri, an excellent poet of love foolishly dabbling in politics.
Other patricians sulked in their fortress palaces. Some shrewdly got
themselves demoted and joined the ruling trade guilds. Of these guilds a
big four, five, or six, governed the city, while a minor dozen had
political privilege. Only guild members voted for the city officers. The
guilds combined the function of a trade union and an employer’s
association, including all members of the craft from the youngest
apprentice to the richest boss-contractor. Such a guild as the notaries,
must have been much like a bar association, while the wholesale
merchants’ guild must have resembled a chamber of commerce. The guild
folk had early allied themselves with the Pope, the only permanent
representative of the principle of order in Italy. The Pope was also the
bulwark of the new free communes against the claims of the Teutonic
Emperors. So in Florence piety, liberty, and prosperity were convertible

Within the narrow walls was a bustling, neighborly, squabbling and
making-up life. Everybody knew everybody else. The craftsman worked in
the little open archways you may still see in the Via San Gallo, in
sight and hearing of the passing world. Of weavers’ shops alone there
were 300. No western city was ever prouder than Florence in those days.
Her credit was good from the Urals to the Pentland Hills. Her gold
florin was everywhere standard exchange. She had secret ways of
finishing the fine cloths that came in ships and caravans from Ghent,
Ypres, and Arras; she handled the silks of China and converted the raw
pelts of the north into objects of fashion.

Her civic pride was actively expressing itself in building. Between 1294
and 1299 she had projected a new cathedral, the great Franciscan church
of Santa Croce, a new town hall, and the massive walls we still see. For
stately buildings she had earlier had only the Baptistry, in which every
baby was promptly christened, and the new church of the Friars Preachers
(Dominicans), Santa Maria Novella. In considering this Florence you must
think of a hard-headed, full-blooded, ambitious community, frankly
devoted to money-making, but desiring wealth chiefly as a step towards
fame. Since the painter could provide fame in this world and advance
one’s position in the next, his estate was a favored one.

The painter himself was just a fine craftsman. He kept a shop and called
it such—a _bottega_. He worked only to order. There were no exhibitions,
no museums, no academies, no art schools, no prizes, no dealers. The
painters modestly joined the guild of the druggists (_speziali_), who
were their color makers, quite as the up-to-date newspaper reporter
affiliates himself with the typographical union. When a rich man wanted
a picture, he simply went to a painter’s shop and ordered it, laying
down as a matter of course the subject and everything about the
treatment that interested him. If the work was of importance, a contract
and specifications were drawn up. The kind of colors, pay by the job or
by the day, the amount to be painted by the contracting artist himself,
the time of completion, with or without penalty—all this was precisely
nominated in the bond. Naturally the painter used his shop-assistants
and apprentices as much as possible. Often he did little himself except
heads and principal figures. But he made the designs and carefully
supervised their execution on panel or wall. A Florentine painter’s
_bottega_ then had none of the preciousness of a modern painter’s
studio. It was rather like a decorator’s shop of today, the master being
merely the business head and guiding artistic taste. When we speak of a
fresco by Giotto, we do not mean that Giotto painted much of it, any
more than a La Farge window implies that our great American master of
stained-glass design himself cut and set the glass. The painter of
Florence had to be a jack-of-all-trades, a color grinder, a cabinet
maker, and a wood carver; a gilder; to be capable of copying any design
and of inventing fine decorative features himself. He must be equally
competent in the delicate methods of tempera painting as in the resolute
procedures of fresco.

These two methods set distinct limits to the work and its effects. The
colors were ground up day by day in the shop. Each had its little pot.
There was no palette. Hence only a few colors were used, and with little
mixing. For tempera painting a good wooden panel—preferably of
poplar—was grounded with successive coats of finest plaster of Paris in
glue and rubbed down to ivory smoothness. The composition was then
copied in minutely from a working drawing. The gold background inherited
from the workers in mosaic was laid on in pure leaf. The composition was
first lightly shaded and modelled either in green or brown earth, and
then finished up a bit at a time, in colors tempered with egg or
vegetable albumen. The paints were thick and could not be swiftly
manipulated; the whole surface set and so hardened that retouching was
difficult. How so niggling a method produced so broad and harmonious
effects will seem a mystery to the modern artist. It was due to system
and sacrifice. Though the work was done piecemeal, everything was
thought out in advance. Dark shadows and accidents of lighting which
would mar the general blond effect were ignored. The beauty desired was
not that of nature, but that of enamels and semi-precious stones. These
panels are glorious in azures, cinnabars, crimsons, emerald-greens, and
whites partaking of all of these hues. Their delicacy is enhanced by
carved frames, at this moment, 1300, simply gabled and moulded; later
built up and arched and fretted with the most fantastic gothic features.

If the painter in tempera required chiefly patience and delicacy, the
painter in fresco must have resolution and audacity. He must calculate
each day’s work exactly, and a whole day’s work could be spoiled by a
single slip of the hand in the tired evening hour. For fresco, the
working sketch was roughly copied in outline on a plaster wall. Then any
part selected for a day’s work was covered with a new coat of fine
plaster. The effaced part of the design must be rapidly redrawn on the
wet ground. Then the colors were laid on from their little pots, and
only the sound mineral colors which resist lime could be employed. The
vehicle was simply water. The colors were sucked deep into the wet
plaster, and united with it to form a surface as durable as the wall
itself. Generally the colors were merely divided into three
values,—light, pure colors, and dark. Everything was kept clear, rather
flat, and blond, highly simple and beautifully decorative. One of the
later painters, Cennino Cennini (active about 1400), tells us that a
single head was a day’s work for a good _frescante_. The touch had to be
sure, for a mis-stroke meant scraping the wet plaster off, relaying it,
and starting all over again. The fresco painter accordingly needed
discipline and method. Nothing could be farther from modern
inspirational methods. Where everything was systematized and calculated
in advance, you will see it was quite safe for a master to entrust his
designs to pupils who knew his wishes. Every fresco when dry was more or
less retouched in tempera, but the best artists did this sparingly,
knowing that the retouches would soon blacken badly or flake off.

So much for the shop methods. Now for him who makes shops possible—the
patron. A wealthy Florentine as naturally wanted to invest in a frescoed
chapel as a wealthy American does in a fleet of motor cars. Considering
the changed value of money, one indulgence was about as costly as the
other. But the Florentine never quite regarded paintings as luxuries.
They were necessary to him. He loved them. They enhanced his prestige in
this world and improved his chances in the next. Then to beautify a
church was really to magnify the liberty and prosperity of Florence,
which largely derived from the Holy See. Recall that every Florentine
was born a Catholic, baptized in the fair Church of St. John with the
name of a saint. This saint, he believed, could aid him morally and
materially, was in every sense his celestial patron. It paid to do the
saint honor, and that could best be done through the painter’s art. The
poorest man might have a small portrait of his patron, a rich man might
endow a chapel and cause all his patron’s miracles to be pictured on the
wall. Think also that every altar—a dozen or more in every large
church—was a shrine[1], containing the bread and wine that by the
never-ceasing miracle of the Mass became the Saviour’s body and blood;
and was also a reliquary or tomb, containing in whole or part the body
of some saint. Every altar then, and every chapel inclosing one, cried
out for a twofold interpretation of its meaning. Everything about the
Eucharist had to be explained (involving pretty nearly all of Biblical
history), and the particular relic required similar illumination. Since
many of the faithful could not read, and the Catholic Church has ever
been merciful as regards sermonizing, these explanations of the altar as
miracle shrine of Our Lord and as tomb of a particular saint were best
made pictorially, and generally were so made.

Such motives for picture-making Florence of course shared with the
entire Christian world. It remains to explain why she wanted more
painting and better than any other mediæval city. She wanted more
painting chiefly because of her exceptional civic pride and prosperity,
she wanted better painting because she had moved ahead of the world
towards finer, more passionate, and conscious experiences of life which
the older painting was powerless to express. About the year 1200, a
century before the time we are considering, there flourished two great
religious leaders who gave to Christianity a new dignity and appeal. St.
Dominic, with his disciple, St. Thomas Aquinas, endeavored to make
Christianity more reasonable, St. Francis of Assisi endeavored to make
it more heartfelt and compassionate. They founded two monastic orders
with divergent yet harmonious aims. The Dominicans called men to a life
of study and self-examination, enlisting the human reason to explain and
justify the universe under the Christian scheme; the Franciscans called
men to poverty, humility, and chastity, and service to the unfortunate.
Between the two—one supplying the light of the reason and the other the
light of the heart—they overcame heresies which had menaced both
Christianity and civilization and roused the Church out of its dogmatic
slumber. It was no longer enough for the Church to threaten. Men yielded
to her now only on condition that their heads be convinced or their
hearts touched. In Florence, where a rationalizing shrewdness and a real
warm-heartedness singularly blended, the double appeal was irresistible.
By and large the whole city either schematized with the Dominicans or
slummed with the Franciscans. Here was urgent new matter requiring an
art that could move and persuade.

Together with this religious revival and the political and commercial
progress we have noted, came a literary revival. Before the end of the
13th century such poets as Guido Guinizelli, Guido Cavalcanti, and Dante
Alighieri had so reshaped the rude vulgar tongue that it became worthy
of its Latin succession. The refinements of chivalric love came to
Florence in melodious verse, and what the poets called the “sweet new
style,” _il dolce stil nuovo_, in diction presaged a similar sweet new
style of painting. Alongside of the poets, Brunetto Latini in the
_Tesoro_ shows glimmerings of scientific interest, and Giovanni Villani
lends substance and dignity to the work of the chronicler. Already the
sculptors Nicola and Giovanni of neighboring Pisa had grasped the
beauties respectively of classic sculpture and the noble intensity of
that of the Gothic North. All this immensely increased that sum of fine
thinking, feeling, and seeing which underlies all great art.

To express these new emotions the old painting was inadequate. Italy
through the so-called Dark Ages produced art abundantly. Wherever power
and order asserted themselves amid the welter of war and oppression,
stately buildings rose and these were decorated. Thus at Rome, where the
popes gradually added temporal to spiritual power, splendid basilicas
grew over the tombs of the martyrs. At Ravenna, through the 6th and 7th
centuries the seat of the Byzantine and Gothic sovereignties,
magnificent churches and baptistries were covered with pictorial
mosaics. In Sicily, at Messina, Cefalù and Palermo, the sway of the
Norman kings in the eleventh and twelfth centuries expressed itself in
churches and civic buildings of the utmost splendor, which were adorned
with mosaics by Greek masters. When the fugitives from the valleys of
the Po, Adige, and Piave, and Brenta fled from Attila to the Venetian
fens, there again was a beginning of great building. Wherever there was
a powerful primate as at Milan, Como, Parma, Pisa, or a wide ruling
abbot as at Subiaco, Monte Cassino, Capua, you will find art.

But hardly, except perhaps in architecture, Italian art. We have
sporadic provincial expressions dominated from afar by the prestige of
the Eastern Roman Empire. At Constantinople there was a permanent court,
a ceremonious civilization, an artistic blending of the traditions of
old Greece and of the mysterious Levant. The merchants of the world
sought from Byzantium, jewelry, enamels, embroideries, brocades, carved
ivories, and pictured manuscripts. She was to the early Middle Ages what
Paris is to ours—the æsthetic fashion maker of the world,—and her
skilled artists went far afield as so many missionaries of the Byzantine
style. We find them making the mosaics of Ravenna in the 6th and 7th
centuries, of St. Mark’s at Venice from the 9th century, of many Roman
churches from an even earlier date, of Palermo in the 12th, and of the
Baptistry at Florence in the 13th. This Byzantine manner, as practiced
by the travelling Greek artists and by their innumerable Italian
imitators, is the real starting point and jump-off place for Italian
painting. Hence in first studying the Byzantine style we do but imitate
the Italian painters who immediately preceded Giotto.


  FIG. 1. Byzantine Narrative Style about 1300. Detail from Mosaic Book
    Covers in the Opera del Duomo.


  FIG. 2. Mosaic in the Cathedral, Pisa. St. John, left, is by Cimabue,
    1302; the Christ is in good Byzantine tradition; the Virgin, right,
    is some twenty years later.

Byzantine pictures have come down to us on the largest and on the
smallest scale—in the great mosaics and wall paintings, and as well on
small panels and in the illustrated books used in the ritual of the
church. Both are important. The mural decorations are what the early
Italian painter had constantly before his eye; the miniatured psalters,
Gospels, lectionaries, chorals and prayer books, afforded the patterns
from which he drew with little alteration the standard compositions of
the Annunciation to Mary, the Nativity of Christ, His Adoration by the
Shepherds and Kings, His Baptism, the Raising of Lazarus, the Last
Supper, Crucifixion, Descent into Hell, Resurrection, and Ascension. But
Byzantine design is most imposing in its monumental phase. The most
careless traveller still feels awe before those solemn figures of Christ
supreme ruler (_Pantokrator_) and his Mother queen of heaven which are
seen throned against a background of azure or gold and attended by
solemn figures of apostles and martyrs, Figure 2. The forms are
flat,—silhouettes enriched by interior tracery, the arrangement in the
space formal, symmetrical, highly decorative. The smaller narrative
compositions,[2] Figure 1, are clearly conceived but have small
emotional appeal. For this reason the Italians of the Golden Age spoke
of the Byzantine style as rude. This is an error. Rude in the hands of
half-trained local imitators, the style as formulated in the 9th century
at Constantinople was highly sophisticated and decoratively of great
refinement. It was based on an admirable system of color spotting and a
fine understanding of silhouette. The contours were cast in easy
conventional curves. These were enriched within by hatchings and
splintery angles of gold which contrasted effectively with the fluent
outlines. Everything was done by precept and copybook. In four centuries
before the year 1300, the style showed little change, indeed is still
alive in the mountains of Macedonia and, until the Revolution, in
Russia. The Byzantine artist seldom looked at a fellow mortal with
artistic intent. He looked at some earlier picture or considered his own
color preferences. Conventional and anæmic as the narrative style was,
it did all that was required of it. Nothing better serves the purpose of
an authoritative Church than the awe-inspiring Christs of the Lombard
and Sicilian and Roman apses, and so long as the Church felt no duty
beyond that of plain statement of her claims, the unfelt narratives from
the Scriptures served every religious need.

It was different when under the leading of St. Dominic and St.
Francis,[3] the Church eagerly wished to persuade men. Men may well have
been frightened or even instructed by a Byzantine picture; nobody was
ever persuaded by one. It took a century to work away from the Byzantine
style, so deeply was it rooted. In fact, from the year 1226, that of St.
Francis’s death, to about the end of the century, such artists as Guido
of Siena, Coppo di Marcovaldo, Giunta of Pisa, Jacopo Torriti, Giovanni
Cosma, Duccio, and Cimabue chiefly restudied the old Byzantine manner.
They wished to learn how to build creditably before they began to tear
down. Such reverent experiment extending over two generations only
proved that the breach with Byzantine formalism was inevitable.


  FIG. 3. Tuscan Master about 1285.—_Otto Kahn, N.Y._


  FIG. 4. Cimabue. Madonna in Majesty.—_Uffizi._

With the deepening and broadening of personal, civic, and religious
emotions, the painter found new exactions laid upon him which the
bloodless art of Byzantium could not satisfy. New life called for new
forms to express it. We find in sculpture from about the year 1260, that
of Giovanni Pisano’s first pulpit—wholly classical in its dignity—a
kindred endeavor in advance of the art of painting. The renewal took
three forms: the more conservative spirits accepted the Byzantine
formulas but endeavored to refine on them in a realistic sense, to add
grace to austerity. Such moderate development of the old style fixed the
character of the school of Siena and was magnificently initiated by its
greatest artist, Duccio, active about 1300. A very beautiful Madonna of
this general tendency is in the collection of Mr. Otto Kahn at New York,
Figure 3. It has been quite variously attributed.[4] It seems to me,
however, a pure Tuscan work by Coppo or a painter akin to him. For the
greater spirits such a reform was inadequate. Refine the Byzantine
formulas to the utmost—there was no gain, rather loss in strength.
Accordingly a vehement spirit like Cimabue,[1–5] acknowledgedly father
of the Florentine school, accepts the Byzantine tradition loyally, but
seeks to make its rigid mannerisms express the new religious passions.
At times he is successful at this unlikely task of putting new wine into
old bottles. His great enthroned Madonna at Florence, Figure 4, with
solemn angels in attendance and grim patriarchs below her throne, may
have been painted as early as 1285. It is faithful to the old monumental
tradition—akin to the Christs and Marys of the mosaics—in its impressive
richness is one of the most majestic things the century produced. It
reveals the docility of its creator but only partially his power. We
have hardly his hand but surely an echo of his influence in the tragic
crucifix in the museum of Santa Croce. It is the moment of agony, and
the powerful body writhes against the nails, while the head sinks in
death. It may represent hundreds of similar crosses that stood high in
air on the rood beam before the chancel, in sight both of the preacher
and his public.

Somewhere about 1294, Cimabue was called to Assisi to decorate the
church in which St. Francis was buried. His part was the choir and
transepts of the upper church. In the cross vault he painted the four
evangelists, on the walls he spread the stories of St. Peter and St.
Paul, the legends of the Virgin scenes from the Apocalypse, the gigantic
forms of the archangels and a Calvary, Figure 5, that is one of the most
moving expressions of Christian art. Chipped and blackened, their lights
become dark through chemical change, these wall paintings retain an
immense power and veracity. The Byzantine forms gain a paradoxical
solidity, like that of bronze. The convulsion of the figure of Christ is
given back in the wild gestures of the mourning women and the terrified
Jews. It is the moment of the earthquake and the opening of tombs; a
cosmic terror and despair pervade the place. The work is hampered and
rude but completely expressive. The sensitive Japanese critic and man of
the world, Okakura Kakuzo, used to regard these sooty frescoes in the
transepts of the Franciscan basilica as the high point of all European
art, which should at least induce the tourist and the student to give a
second look at these battered and fading masterpieces. Recently an
inscribed date, 1296, has been discovered on the choir wall which
settles a long vexed question of chronology. The upper part of the work
in the transepts and choir must have been going on for some years
earlier, and the entire decoration of the Upper Church should roughly be
comprised between 1294 and 1300. Cimabue died about 1302 while working
on the apsidal mosaic at Pisa, where the St. John is by his hand, Figure
2. He had brought life and passion into Italian painting, as his younger
contemporary Giovanni Pisano had into Italian sculpture. Cimabue’s
defect—that of a noble spirit—was the faith that the old pictorial form
could contain the new surging emotions.


  FIG. 5. Cimabue. Calvary. Fresco.—_Upper Church, Assisi._


  FIG. 6. Pietro Cavallini. Dormition of the Virgin. Mosaic.—_S. M. in
    Trastevere, Rome._


  FIG. 7. Pietro Cavallini. Apostles, fresco, from Last Judgment.—_Santa
    Cecelia in Trastevere._

Colder spirits, as is often the case, more readily found the right way.
And the discovery was made at Rome where the sculptured columns, arches,
and sarcophagi, the pagan wall paintings and the earliest Christian
mosaics combined to continue the lesson of classic humanism. A
remarkable family of decorators, the Cosmati; with such contemporaries
as Jacopo Torriti and Filippo Rusuti begin very cautiously to free
themselves from Byzantine trammels. But it was a painter, Pietro
Cavallini,[5] who more fully grasped that glory that had been Rome. In
1291 he designed for the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere a Madonna
and four stories of the Christ Child in mosaic. Here we glimpse a new
pictorial form, Figure 6. Those Byzantine hooks and hatchings which were
quite false to form give way to a reasonable structure in light and
dark, the hair no longer wild and ropy, is disposed in sculpturesque
locks, the draperies are no longer a cobweb pattern, but cast in broad
and classic folds. All these improvements may be noted in more complete
form in the frescoed Last Judgment which has recently been uncovered in
the church of Santa Cecilia, Figure 7. Here the heads of Christ and the
Apostles are well built in carefully graduated light and shade, while
the draperies suggest Hellenistic statuary. But the renovation is on the
whole cold and academic. Cavallini has not much more to say than the
Byzantines, but that little he says with far greater gravity and
truthfulness. He was a lucid and industrious but not a fine or strong
spirit. His work later at Naples—in the Church of the Donna Regina,
about 1310—shows that when he will express strong emotions he becomes
merely hectic. Yet he recovered for Italian painting more than a hint of
the choice naturalism of old Rome, and that is his sufficient glory.
There is greater power and knowledge than his in the work of such
contemporaries as the unknown painters of the frescoed heads of prophets
in Santa Maria Maggiore at Rome and of the stories of Isaac in the Upper
Church at Assisi.[6] These show a resolute and intelligent effort to
draw in masses of light and shade, and as well an ambition to recover
the gravity of the early Christian mosaics. It is no wonder that some
critics ascribe such dramatic and superbly constructed frescoes as The
Betrayal of Esau to young Giotto, Figure 8, but the art is too mature
for any young artist. We have rather to do with a great personality of
Roman training who broke the way for Giotto. Cavalcaselle suggests, I
think rightly, that the Florentine, Gaddo Gaddi, may have done some of
this work. But we are safe only in calling this great painter “The Isaac

To recapitulate, there were three ways, all imperfect, open to a young
and progressive painter who like Giotto di Bondone was forming a style
about the year 1300. He might with the Sienese evade the issue of
passion and naturalism, choosing for gracefulness, he might try over
again the great adventure of his master Cimabue, endeavoring to bring
emotion into the old unfit forms, or he might, like Pietro Cavallini,
let emotion take care of itself and work academically towards better
structure, drapery, light, and shade. His choice was absolutely
momentous for modern painting, and I want you to feel that the issue was
quite consciously and vividly before him, for he had spent much of his
youth as a humble assistant in the basilica at Assisi, where frescoes in
the vehement Tuscan manner of Cimabue and in the dignified Roman style
of the Isaac Master were being painted side by side. His decision was to
combine the merits of the two manners—to seek, like his master,
sincerity and depth of emotion, but to embody it in the new and nobler
forms of the Roman school. This decision virtually fixed the character
of Christian art in Italy—it was to be warm and humanistic, but it was
to revive much of that abstract nobility which old Rome had inherited
from Greece. Thus Italian painting at the outset took a classic stamp
which when true to itself it has never lost. In fundamental ideas of
beauty, there is no real difference between Giotto, Masaccio, Leonardo
da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, Michelangelo.


  FIG. 8. “The Isaac Master.” Esau before Isaac. Fresco.—_Upper Church,

Giotto di Bondone,[7] according to the best information we have on a
disputed point, was born in 1266, at the village of Colle, in the lovely
valley of the Mugello. His people were prosperous and his way smooth. I
see no reason for doubting the charming legend told by Ghiberti that
Cimabue found the lad Giotto by the roadside diligently scratching the
outlines of a sheep on a slate, and that that was the beginning of their
association. In any case, we may surmise that he was early with Cimabue
as apprentice and eventually went with the Master to Assisi to grind
colors, clean brushes, and paint under direction. To be at that moment
in the Franciscan Basilica was to be at the greatest creative center of
the world. It seems to me likely that Giotto may have had a considerable
part in the actual painting of the Old and New Testament stories in the
nave, and I believe we may find his earliest designs in certain frescoes
of the upper rows. The Lamenting over Christ’s Body, for example,
singularly combines the energy of Cimabue with the dignity of Cavallini,
and there are significant echoes of the composition in Giotto’s later
version of the same theme at Padua. Tradition also ascribes to Giotto,
maybe correctly, the Resurrection and Pentecost on the entrance wall.[8]

After 1296, according to Vasari’s entirely credible account, young
Giotto took over the direction of the work for the newly elected
Franciscan General, Giovanni dal Muro. What share he had in the
vivacious and justly loved stories of St. Francis,[9] in the lower range
of the nave, is greatly disputed. Of the twenty-eight frescoes involved,
it seems clear to me that the first and the last three are by an artist
more nearly in the Sienese tradition, that Nos. II to XVIII inclusive
are designed by Giotto in the style of the Old Testament stories above
and painted by him with a certain amount of assistance, and that the
rest are largely inspired by Giotto but executed in his absence and
without his final control. What is more important is the variety and
vivacity of these narratives. Young Giotto is free to improvise, as he
was not in the standard Bible subjects, and the mood shifts readily. We
have charity, with St. Francis giving his cloak to a beggar, in an
idyllic landscape; family strife in St. Francis renouncing his father,
Figure 9; sorcery in the exorcism of the devils from Arezzo; an odd
mixture of ogreishness and witchcraft, in St. Francis’s Fire Ordeal
before the Soldan, Figure 11; a great pious intentness, in the
choristers at the Cradle Rite; intense physical appetite, in the Miracle
of the Spring; an entrancing blend of reverence and humor, in the Sermon
to the Birds, Figure 10; stark tragedy in the Death of the Knight of


  FIG. 10. The Sermon to the Birds.—_Upper Church, Assisi._


  FIG. 9.—St. Francis renounces His Father.—_Upper Church, Assisi._


  FIG. 11. St. Francis before the Soldan.—_Upper Church, Assisi._


  FIG. 12. Early Sketch Copy after Giotto’s Mosaic of the Navicella.
    Compare Fig. 31.—_Metropolitan Museum, New York._

Giotto is still chiefly a sprightly illustrator. He is as yet
insensitive to composition. He often perfunctorily splits his groups,
giving each a landscape—or architectural back-screen quite in the
Byzantine manner. His story-telling is brusque and without rhythm. His
sense of form is already strong and growing, but there is little of the
ease and style of the Isaac frescoes just above. In vitality the stories
of St. Francis mark a great advance, but they lack the gravity and
exquisiteness of balance proper to the best mural decoration.

It was at Rome that young Giotto was to broaden and refine his art. He
was called thither before the year 1300 to design the great mosaic of
Christ walking on the Sea of Galilee beside the tempest-tossed boat of
the Apostles. It stood over the inside cloister-portal of old St.
Peter’s, and has been many times moved in the rebuilding of the church,
and with each move restored, so that what we now see in the porch is
entirely remade. From certain fragments of the old mosaic, and old
sketch copies, Figure 12, we may judge that the Navicella, as the
Italians loved to call it, was an elaborate composition of great
dramatic power, the logical consummation of the experiments at Assisi.
Our best version of the Navicella is Andrea Bonaiuti’s adaptation,
Figure 31, for the vault of the Spanish Chapel, 1365.

But Giotto was soon to renounce the facile method of diffuse and genial
narrative in favor of a concise and massive style, akin to sculptured
relief, and deeply influenced by the antique. The arches and the columns
of Imperial Rome are teaching their silent lesson, the simple and noble
forms of Cavallini and his nameless rivals show how painting may vie
with sculpture in sense of mass and reality. With the problem of the
representation of mass on a flat surface, Giotto wrestled eagerly and
triumphantly. With a genius that few painters have equalled, he grasped
the truth that the figure painter’s problem of representing space is
chiefly that of emphatically suggesting mass. If you convince the eye of
the tangibility of your objects, the mind will supply elbow room and air
to breathe. It isn’t necessary to simulate a box, as the Sienese
painters often did. The painter who can give a convincing sense of mass
may handle accessories and perspective with the utmost freedom,
according to the inner law of his design. The painter who thinks first
of his space is in every way more bound to the smaller probabilities.
Much thinking of this sort must have been done by Giotto before he
worked out his new style at Padua.

After his return from Rome, Giotto sojourned for a time in Florence, and
in 1304 or thereabouts painted the gigantic Madonna formerly in the
Trinità, Figure 13. It is impressive in mass, admirable in the intent
expression of the attendant angels, rich in color, but the great figure
is unhappily crowded by the canopy. Giotto is still a bit uncertain as
to the rendering of space, and makes a good if unpleasing effort to
suggest depth despite the limitations of a gold background. With all its
nobility and tenderness, this is by no means so good a decoration as the
great Madonna by Cimabue, Figure 4, which hangs nearby in the Uffizi.

With the problems of space and mass, Giotto was soon to cope
triumphantly. A wealthy citizen of Padua, Enrico Scrovegni, was planning
a new chapel to the Virgin Annunciate. Doubtless he wished the repose of
his father’s soul, for his father had been a notorious usurer. Dante
incontinently puts him in hell with other profiteers. Enrico Scrovegni
built his chapel near the ruins of a Roman arena and dedicated it March
25, 1305. The Arena Chapel was a brick box, barrel vaulted within—a
magnificent space for a fresco painter. Giotto spread upon it the
noblest cycle of pictures known to Christian art. Over the chancel arch
he painted the Eternal, surrounded by swaying angels, and listening to
the counter-pleas of Justice and Mercy concerning doomed mankind, with
the Archangel Gabriel serenely awaiting the message that should bring
Christ to Mary’s womb and salvation to earth. This is the Prologue.
Opposite on the entrance wall is the Epilogue—a last judgment, with
Christ enthroned as Supreme Judge amid the Apostles, and the just being
parted from the wicked. Amid the just you may see Enrico Scrovegni
presenting the chapel to three angels.

The side walls are ruled off into three rows of pictures, with ornate
border bands and a basement of sculpturesque figures symbolizing the
seven virtues and vices. The story reads down from above. Below the
azure vault and still a little in the curve are the stories of the
Childhood of the Virgin—nothing in the chapel more simple and stately
than these.[10] The middle course is devoted to the early deeds of
Christ, from his birth to the expulsion of the money lenders from the
temple. The lower row depicts His Passion ending with the Miracle of
Pentecost. Much later a disciple of Giotto completed the story with the
last days of the Virgin, in the Choir. Thus the narrative in its
broadest sense is a life of the Virgin Mary, including that of her
Divine Son, and both lives are brought into an eternal scheme of things
by the prologue, which shows a relenting God, and the Epilogue which
shows a now relentless Christ awarding bliss and woe to the race for all


  FIG. 13. Giotto. Madonna Enthroned.—_Uffizi._

The first impression of a visitor to the chapel will be a feeling of awe
qualified by joy in the loveliest of colors. The whites of the classical
draperies dominate. They are shot with rose, or pale blue, or grey
green. Certain old enamels have the same quality of making the most
splendid crimsons, blues, and greens seem merely foils to foreground
masses of white which seem to include by implication all the positive
colors. It is this bright and original color scheme balancing crimsons
and azures with violets and greens which makes a thing of beauty out of
what would otherwise be a stilted checkerboard arrangement.


  FIG. 13_a_. St. Joachim and St. Anna at the Beautiful Giotto
    Gate.—_Arena, Padua._


  FIG. 14. Giotto. The Flight into Egypt.—_Arena, Padua._

Next the eye will realize splendid people gravely occupied with solemn
acts. There is the strangest blend of passion and decorum. See the eager
old man who clutches his wife before a massive city gate while she
caresses him tenderly, Figure 13_a_, note the firm gentleness of the
bearded priest who handles a screaming baby before the altar, mark the
sense of strain and hurry where a mother and child mounted on an ass,
Figure 14, are pushed and dragged along by an old man and attendants. Or
again, what sinister power in the scene where three Jewish magistrates
press money upon a haggard, bearded, nervous man. You do not need the
bat-like demon prompting him to know that it is the arch-traitor Judas,
Figure 15. Then there is a strange, serene, processional composition,
with the Virgin moving homeward among her friends to a solemn music,
Figure 16. It has a rhythm like the frieze of the Parthenon. Perhaps
your eye will fix longest on the scene where about the pale body of the
dead Christ women wail with outstretched hands, or tend the broken body,
while bearded men, accustomed to the hardness of life, stand in mute
sympathy with folded hands, Figure 17. It is what the Gospel ought to
look like. How Giotto shows every feeling, pushing its expression just
to the verge, and there stopping, so that idyl and tragedy, devotion and
wrath, treachery and fealty, fear and courage, each keeps its proper and
distinguishing aspect, while all are invested in a common dignity and
nobility. You will perhaps never have seen an art at once so varied and
moving, and nevertheless so monumental, and you may well be curious as
to the method.


  FIG. 15. Giotto. Judas betraying Christ.—_Arena, Padua._

You will see readily that these compositions are conceived sculpturally.
Every one with the slightest change could be cut in marble. Indeed the
seven Virtues, Figure 18, and seven Vices impersonated in monochrome on
the dado of the chapel are direct imitations of sculpture. The figures
throughout the life of Christ and the Virgin are of even size, and
usually all on one plane. The landscapes and architectural features are
arranged simply as frames or backgrounds for the figure groups. The
figures are, whenever the subject permits, clad in drapery of a classic
cast. Expression is conveyed not much by the faces, which have a uniform
Gothic intentness, but by the action of the entire figure and especially
of the hands. The forms are rather squat and massive, yet have a homely
gracefulness. There is nothing like perspective, and small regard for
distance, yet the figures have convincing bulk and move gravely in
adequate space. All this is due to the most consummate draughtsmanship.
Giotto simplifies his seeing; what he cares for is the thrust of the
shoulder, or the poise of hip, the swing of the back from the pelvis,
the projection of the chest, the balance of the head on the neck and its
attachment to the shoulders. All these essential facts of mass he
represents by the simplest lines of direction, by broad masses of light
and shade, often merely by the tugging lines in drapery that tell of the
form beneath. The cave men would have understood Giotto, and so would
the post-impressionists of today. Conciseness, economy, force,
mass—these are the technical qualities of the work, as human insight and
tenderness are its grace. As the great analytical critic Bernard
Berenson has well remarked, this painting makes the strongest possible
appeal to our tactile sense, stirring powerfully all our memories of
touch, and presenting the painted indications as so many swiftly grasped
clues to reality. We have to do with a magnificently conceived
shorthand. No artist before or since has made a greater expenditure of
mind or achieved a more notable inventiveness than Giotto in the Arena


  FIG. 16. Giotto. The Virgin returning from her wedding.—_Arena,


  FIG. 17. Giotto. Lamentation over Christ.—_Arena, Padua._

It was dedicated March 25, 1305, Giotto being nearly forty years old,
and it was probably not completely painted on the day of dedication,
since many draperies were borrowed from St. Mark’s, Venice, to cover,
presumably, the still unpictured parts of the walls. Giotto lived some
four years in Padua, brought his family there, received the exiled poet
Dante and with him joked not too decorously about his own ugliness and
that of his children. It seems likely enough, though not certain, that
he followed the banished Pope to Avignon about 1309, and spent some
years in Southern France. What is certain is that he was again in
Florence by 1312, and that, having found his own solution of the problem
of mass in the Arena Chapel, he thereafter rested comfortably on his
discovery, never was quite as strenuous again, and spent his later years
at a new problem—that of decorative symmetry.


  FIG. 18. Giotto. Hope.—_Arena, Padua._

The first experiment towards a sweeter and more complex style was made
in the cross vaults of the Lower Church of Assisi, immediately above the
tomb of St. Francis. The subjects were the three virtues of the
Franciscan vow—Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience—with a St. Francis in a
glory of angels. In these great triangular compositions, allegory and
symbolism run riot, and we do well to recall Hazlitt’s shrewd remark on
Spenser’s “Faery Queene”—“the allegory will not bite.” Indeed one might
forget it for the radiance of the azures, moss-greens, rose pinks, and
deeper violets, for the delightful contrast of the freely composed
groups with the intricate geometrical formality of the rich borders. Yet
to ignore the allegory completely would be to forget the master’s
intention. We may savor it best in the great composition: St. Francis
Marries his Lady Poverty, Figure 18_a_. The bridal group stands on a
central crag, Christ serving as priest, St. Francis slipping a ring on
the gaunt hand of a haggard, yet strangely fascinating bride clothed in
a single ragged garment. Her bare feet show through a crisply drawn and
blossomless rose tree. Two urchins at the foot of the little cliff stand
ready to stone so unseemly a bride. From the central group to right and
left, earnest groups of angels spread in a descending curve. In the
lower angle, left, a young man gives his rich cloak to an old beggar,
while an angel points to the bridal: Poverty is accepted. At the lower
right corner, another angel attempts to detain a young man who passes
with a gesture of contempt in the company of two portly priests: Poverty
is rejected by such. From the apex of the great triangle, the hands of
God descend to welcome two angels, one of which offers the cloak given
to the beggar, and the other a model of the church which is the splendid
covering for the body of the Saint. The fantastic beauty of this and its
companion pieces can only be appreciated on the spot. No frescoes of
Italy surpass these for loveliness of color and perfection of condition.
It is the most beautiful pictured Gothic ceiling in the world, perhaps
the most fantastically beautiful of all figured ceilings whatever.


  FIG. 18_a_. Giotto. St. Francis’ Mystic Marriage with Poverty.—_Lower
    Church, Assisi._

Because the figures are a little slight and the expression a bit
sentimentalized, and the proportions rather arbitrarily handled to meet
the exigencies of the curved spaces, many good critics, including
Venturi and Berenson, deny these compositions to Giotto. One of them,
the St. Francis in Glory, is clearly of inferior design and quality. For
the others, it seems to me that the designs can only be by Giotto, while
the execution is mostly by a charming assistant whose work in this
ceiling and elsewhere in this church makes us wish we knew his name. No
middle-aged painter of established repute was likely to undertake
personally the dirty and fatiguing work of painting a ceiling in fresco.
If we are right in supposing that Giotto may have designed this ceiling,
shortly after his return from Avignon, say, after 1312, he would have
been towards fifty years old, and provided with a shop-staff of
well-trained assistants. From this time on, indeed, we may assume that
he rather directed the work of others than painted himself. Such a view
will permit us to accept as school works many fine pictures the design
of which a too strict criticism has denied to Giotto. For example, the
admirable Coronation of the Virgin, in Santa Croce, Florence, seems to
me completely designed by Giotto, and the logical next step after the
Franciscan allegories, though there can be little actual painting by the
master on the panel, and his personal contribution may have been limited
to a small working drawing. Indeed the only one of the later panels
which seems to show throughout his actual handiwork is the lovely
Dormition of the Virgin at Berlin, Frontispiece, which was painted for
the Church of Ognissanti.

At about this period I think we may set the several crucifixes in
Florentine churches, without inquiring too narrowly whether they are by
the master or by scholars. Giotto has developed a singularly noble type.
The Christ is no longer contorted in agony as in the crucifixes by
Cimabue. He is dead, with his head quietly sunk on the powerful breast,
and the body relaxed. The conception is humanistic. One feels chiefly
the pity of stretching that glorious thing that is a man’s body on a
cross. Probably the earliest of these crucifixes is that at Santa Maria
Novella, while the finest is at San Felice. About 1320 we may set the
dismembered _ancona_, painted for Cardinal Gaetano Stefaneschi, which
originally stood on the high altar of St. Peter’s, Rome. The tarnished
fragments which you may still see in the sacristy, are more splendid in
color than any other tempera painting whatsoever. Probably only the
central panels, Christ and St. Peter enthroned, are from Giotto’s hand,
the side panels representing the martyrdom of Peter and Paul may well be
both designed and executed by the accomplished assistant who carried out
the allegories at Assisi.


  FIG. 19. Giotto. Naming of St. John the Baptist.—_Peruzzi Chapel,
    Santa Croce._

So far we have seen Giotto a wanderer. Assisi, Rome, Padua, Rimini,
delighted to do him honor, but apparently Florence had claimed few works
from his hand. We have record of frescoes in the Badia which may have
been early works. It was the decoration of Arnolfo’s great Franciscan
church of Santa Croce that finally recalled Giotto and evoked his most
accomplished work. He completed in the transepts of Santa Croce four
chapels and as many altar-pieces. The frescoes were white-washed in the
16th century, and the panels broken up and lost. But in the last century
the white-wash was scraped off from two of the chapels, and there we may
see, so far as defacement and repainting permit, the masterpieces of the
early Florentine school. We may reasonably guess the date of this work
to be somewhere about 1320, Giotto being nearly sixty.

In the chapel maintained by that noble family, the Peruzzi, Giotto
spread on the side walls three stories from the life of St. John the
Baptist, and as many more from that of St. John the Evangelist. The
figures are superb, magisterial in pose; the draperies grand and ample
after the classical fashion. Upon bulk and relief there is less
insistence than at Padua. Giotto has passed the experimental stage as
regards form, is less strenuous and more at his ease. Nothing is more
stately in the chapel than the presentation of the infant Baptist to his
father, who is temporarily stricken with dumbness, Figure 19. Simeon
gravely writes the name John; Elizabeth with her adoring group of
attendants carefully offers the vivacious child to his father’s gaze.
The gestures are slow, definite, determined. The group beautifully fills
the square space without crowding it. The composition, unlike the widely
spaced Paduan designs, is drawn together into a mass.


  FIG. 20. Giotto. Resuscitation of Drusiana by St. John.—_Peruzzi
    Chapel, Santa Croce._

Upon the Feast of Herod with Salome modestly dancing John Ruskin[11] has
expended just eulogies in the petulant yet important little book
“Mornings in Florence.” What is notable in the scene is its general
decorum and the pathetic indecision of the weak King.

But the most accomplished design as such is the miracle of the
Resuscitation of Drusiana by St. John the Evangelist, Figure 20. Even
the inscenation before a fine Romanesque city is adequately, if very
simply, realized. The gesture of the apostle is of majestic power, the
contrast of the massive, upright, columnar forms of the elders, with the
sharply bent forms of Drusiana, her mourners and bier bearers, is
admirably invented, and the drastic portraiture of a cripple at the left
adds a tang of reality while in no wise detracting from the dignity of
the scene. We have a work in the grand style, massively conceived,
warmly felt, wrought into an elaborate and satisfying symmetry. The
Ascension of St. John has an even graver and more ample rhythm. The
Golden Age of Raphael and Titian will have little to add to this except
the minor graces.

In the adjoining chapel of the Bardi family, Giotto, a little later, I
believe, painted six stories of St. Francis, and four figures of the
great Franciscan saints, St. Louis of France, St. Louis of Toulouse, St.
Clare, and St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Over the entrance arch he set an
animated picture of St. Francis receiving the stigmata, the wounds of
the Saviour. Nearly thirty years earlier he had done this subject for
the Church at Assisi, and in an altar-piece which has passed from Pisa
to the Louvre. By comparing the rigid, angular figures of the earlier
composition and their ill-adjusted accessories, with this easy and
beautifully balanced arrangement, you may see how far Giotto had gone in
the direction of grace, and you will not fail also to note how much more
tragic the earlier and less calculated work is.

For the first time, in the Bardi chapel, Giotto conceives the decoration
of the side walls as a whole. From the pointed lunettes above, through
the three compositions on each wall, there is an architectural axis,
sometimes arbitrarily imposed, about which the figures are symmetrically
distributed. Often the scene is a screen with projecting wings as in the
St. Francis before the Sultan of Morocco, or a similar fore-court, as in
the Mourning for St. Francis. It will be well to compare the story of
St. Francis renouncing his father, Figure 21, with the same subject at
Assisi. You will recall that St. Francis, when rebuked by his father for
a rash and impulsive act of charity, stripped off his clothes, then
threw them at his father’s feet, and took refuge under the robe of the
Bishop of Assisi. In the earlier version the architectural background
splits the composition in two, adding to its intensity perhaps, but
displeasing to the eye. Here in the late version a fine building seen in
perspective both unifies the two groups and serves as apex for the
decorative axis of the entire side wall.


  FIG. 21. Giotto. St. Francis renounces his Father. Compare FIG.
    9.—_Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce._

More remarkable still is the contrast between St. Francis Braving the
Fire Ordeal before the Soldan, Figure 22, as depicted at Assisi and
Florence. We have to do not merely with an immense advance in decorative
composition, the accessories at Assisi being trivial and fantastic; not
merely with progress towards a gracious symmetry and more massive and
impressive form, but also with a complete change of moral point of view.
At Assisi the Soldan is an ogre exacting a cruel test. The Moslem
priests are a cowardly pack of magicians ignobly slinking away, St.
Francis a grim fanatic. At Florence the Soldan is a noble and humane
gentleman, amazed at an unreasonable ordeal forced upon his wise men.
The Moslem doctors are splendid scholars grudgingly shrinking from an
unfair test, St. Francis an alert little enthusiast half gloating over
the confusion he has thrown into the enemy camp. With a by no means
orthodox feeling, old Giotto, humanistic Giotto, almost seems to take,
or at least to see, the pagans’ side of it. He who had written a manly
poem against the excesses and hypocrisies of the Franciscan ideal of
poverty, is now capable of criticizing the more extravagant propagandism
of the saint himself.

It is a criticism that admits all tenderness and sympathy, as may be
seen in the famous fresco representing the Mourning over the body of St.
Francis while his soul is translated to heaven, Figure 23. Again John
Ruskin is your best interpreter to this picture, which after all only
needs to be seen. It combines all the qualities for which Giotto had
striven—warmth, vivacity, ingenuity, unexpectedness in the narrative
details; massiveness and dignity of the individual forms; and a
decorative symmetry at once monumental, formal, and delightfully varied.


  FIG. 22. Giotto. St. Francis before the Soldan. Compare Fig.
    11.—_Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce._


  FIG. 23. Giotto. Death of St. Francis.—_Bardi Chapel, Santa Croce._

With this noble and deeply felt composition we virtually take leave of
Giotto. For though he lived for many years yet, the works of his old age
have largely perished. In the chapel at Assisi dedicated to St. Mary
Magdalen are fine frescoes in which he surely had a leading part. From
1330 to 1333 he worked at Naples for King Robert of Anjou. Nothing
remains from this visit except certain shrewd jests which the painter
exchanged with the King. In 1334 Florence recalled him, and made him
_capomaestro_ of the Cathedral. Giotto designed the flower-like tower
which rises lightly beside the temple of Our Lady of the Flower,
invented and perhaps cut in marble certain reliefs on the base
representing the crafts of men, but did not live to see the loveliest of
bell towers finished. The task was completed by his pupil and artistic
executor, Taddeo Gaddi. In the last years Giotto conceived vast
compositions of a religious and political sort for the public buildings
of the Commune. There were allegories of a strong and weak state, in the
Bargello, the prison-fortress of the Captain of the People. These great
symbolical designs are a kind of missing link between Giotto and the
panoramic painters who followed him. We may find an echo of this lost
work in the Civic Allegories in the Palazzo Pubblico of Siena. These
were doing at the moment of Giotto’s death by a Sienese painter,
Ambrogio Lorenzetti, who had studied the great Florentine master
devoutly. Nothing of Giotto’s latest phase is left save a few figures in
the battered frescoes in the Bargello which contain the idealized
portrait of youthful Dante, Figure 24, and the gracious Dormition of the
Virgin at Berlin, Frontispiece.


  FIG. 24. Giotto. Dante, tracing from the ruined fresco in the

Just before Giotto died, the tyrant of Milan borrowed him from Florence.
Giotto soon returned, to die early in the year 1337, being seventy years
old. Almost single-handed he had made Italian painting. He had lent life
and warmth to the cold and academic reform of the Roman painters. He had
expressed a maximum of feeling, without sacrifice of dignity. He had
worked out beautiful and impressive forms of composition wherein
symmetry and contrast met harmoniously. He had mastered the expression
of mass on a plane surface with a certainty and energy no artist before
had even imagined, and that few since have equalled. He had forecast and
led the way in every manner of realistic figure painting.

Florence, when true to herself, could only repeat Giotto in one phase or
another of his activity. In her casual and sprightly mood, she carries
on the method of Giotto’s stories of St. Francis at Assisi, in mystical
reflection and symbolism she must build on the allegories over St.
Francis’ tomb and on the lost political frescoes; in her mood of
strenuous search for reality she can but repeat the Paduan chapter of
Giotto’s strivings, in rare moments of vision and fulfilment she will
merely begin where the Santa Croce frescoes of Giotto ended.

However Giotto be ranked, and personally I see no greater artist on the
rolls of history, his is indisputably the greatest single achievement;
for no other artist who accomplished so much began with so little. It
was no exaggeration that made Lorenzo Ghiberti regard the advent of
Giotto as the coming to life of an art that had been buried for
centuries. It is indeed the measured classicism of Giotto’s art that
constitutes its greatness—its sweet and lucid reasonableness, its rugged
yet disciplined strength. Seneca or Marcus Aurelius would have
understood it perfectly, as Giotto himself, for his mellow wisdom and
wit, would have been a welcome visitor at Horace’s Sabine farm. In his
broad and flexible insight, his love of mankind, his clear perceptions
of aims and ready acceptance of limitations, in his pathos without
exaggeration, in his constructive skill without ostentation, in his
simplicity without bareness, he is the authentic and indispensable link
between the beauty of Greece and Rome and that of the Italian Golden
Age. To know him is to know almost everything that is needful about
older European painting, not to know him is to lack the very rudiments
of an artistic education.

Giotto left many followers,[12] not one of whom at all understood his
greatness. Like his friend Dante, he was distantly admired, but really
loved only in bits. As perceptive a person as the artist biographer
Vasari lavishes praise upon Giotto for his more trivial inventions—the
Christ Child struggling out of the arms of the High Priest, for example.
So Giotto’s followers picked unintelligently from his great
accomplishment, choosing what the master himself would least have
valued—his simple contours without his significant mass, his variety and
vivacity without his warmth and restraint. On their own account they
added complication. The sparse economy of Giotto’s best work could never
have appealed to Florence at large. Something richer and gayer was
wanted, more like Florentine life itself as it became after the general
loosening up of manners and morals following the plague of 1348. Its
chronicler, the author of the “Decameron,” fairly represents the new
spirit. The best of the younger painters have indeed something of
Boccaccio’s mentality—his light touch, his charm, his panoramic
richness, his fluid and undisciplined grace. Thus arises what I may call
the panoramic style of fresco painting—superficial, full of episodes and
accessories, still religious in theme, but mundane in spirit, often
cleverly conceived, and very superficially felt. These artists had
grasped neither the meaning of Giotto’s drawing nor the beauty of his
decorative formulas, they saw only his variety and energy. Meanwhile a
great Sienese painter, Ambrogio Lorenzetti, a profound admirer of
Giotto, had worked out a nobly spectacular form of painting in which the
stage setting was elaborate and realistic. He painted much in Florence
about 1334 and his novelties allured the new men. So we find fresco
painting tending in a scenic direction, and panel painting following the
same course more conservatively—not merely in Florence and Siena, but
throughout Northern Italy as well.


  FIG. 25. Giotto’s Assistant at Assisi. Flight into Egypt. Compare
    Figure 14.—_Lower Church, Assisi._


  FIG. 26. Taddeo Gaddi. St. Joachim Meets St. Anna. Compare FIG.
    13_a_.—_Baroncelli Chapel, Santa Croce._

Many of Giotto’s immediate pupils are mere names to us. Maso, whom the
sculptor commentator Ghiberti praised for his sweetness, Stefano whom he
dubbed the “ape of nature,” Puccio Capanna—their work must be at Assisi,
but criticism has not succeeded in clearly disengaging it. The nameless
master who executed the Franciscan allegories at Assisi and designed the
stories of Christ’s youthful days, in the adjoining right transept, is
the most accomplished and individual follower of Giotto. He works for
grace, pathos, sumptuousness, and decorative breadth. He is a Giotto
with the angles rubbed down. By comparing Giotto’s Flight of the Holy
Family to Egypt, with the later version at Assisi, Figure 25, we may
grasp the difference between master and scholar. Giotto is brusque,
harsh, noble; the flight through a rocky defile gives a sense of urgency
and peril; the composition carries forward like the ram of a battleship.
In the version at Assisi the flight has become an attractive family
excursion through a romantic valley; the mood is gentle, charming,
unspecific. A moment in an epic has been attenuated into an idyl. This
master never fails to express a dreamy sort of poetry, and in such
compositions as the Massacre of the Innocents, and the Calvary, he
commands a genuine pathos. He is exactly what Giotto might have been,
had he skipped the strenuous Paduan phase, and become a decorator
without the preliminary discipline of the draughtsman. There are reasons
for thinking that this work was done by a shop assistant of Giotto’s,
who for many years directed the decoration of the Lower Church at Assisi
in Giotto’s stead. Some of the work in the Childhood of Christ, I
believe, may be as late as 1330 to 1335.

Taddeo Gaddi is a more definite and less pleasing personality. He was
Giotto’s godson and his assistant for twenty-four years, presumably from
1313 to 1337, as well as his artistic executor. Whether in panel or
fresco, he was an admirable craftsman; in tempera, a fine colorist. His
panels are widely scattered, some ten being in the United States; his
frescoes, all that we need to note, are in Santa Croce. In the
Baroncelli Chapel, just after Giotto’s death, Taddeo finished these
frescoes of the early life of the Virgin, repeating themes which Giotto
had used both in Padua and elsewhere in Santa Croce itself. His way of
competing with Giotto is to stir and add and mix things up. Compare the
meeting of Anna and Joachim at the Beautiful Gate in the two masters;
Giotto at Padua is grave, noble, heartfelt; how he discriminates between
the masculine clutch of the old husband and the tender embrace of the
wife—how drastic the conception is, but also how clear and stately. Poor
Taddeo on the other hand brings the sacred pair together with the bounce
of a modern dance, Figure 26. He brings no brains to bear, and almost no
feelings, just a sprightly and wholly casual inventiveness. Certain
delightful little panels with stories of Christ and St. Francis which he
did in Giotto’s shop for the doors of the sacristy wardrobes of Santa
Croce remind us of the pity that he ever ceased to be an interpreter of
a greater man’s designs. In the fresco of Job’s trials, in the Campo
Santo, Pisa, he seems nearly a great artist. Conceivably he worked on
designs of his late master. At least he had a certain critical sense,
for at an artist’s reunion at San Miniato, about 1360, he told Andrea
Orcagna and the rest of the company that painting had constantly
declined since Giotto and was declining every day. He transmitted, his
sound craftsmanship to a son, Agnolo, who decorated the Choir of Santa
Croce with the legends of the Cross. He carried down the panoramic style
to the end of the 14th century, practicing it with more taste than his
father, achieving a grace without much inwardness or force.

A later contemporary of Giotto’s, Buonamico Buffalmacco,[13] seems to
have inherited something of Giotto’s power, but the identification of
his work is very uncertain, and he lives for us chiefly as an egregious
wag in the pages of the Italian story writers.


  FIG. 27. Giottino. Deposition—_Uffizi._

From another contemporary and possibly a scholar of Giotto, Bernardo
Daddi, we have many panel pictures and a few frescoes at Santa Croce. He
is an admirable craftsman, and a sincere illustrator, within his
limitations, applying very competently to panel painting something of
the panoramic realism of Ambrogio Lorenzetti. A prolific artist, his
exquisitely finished little panels are quite common. In America are good
examples in the New York Historical Society, in the Platt Collection,
Englewood, and a more monumental piece in the Johnson Collection,
Philadelphia. He lived well beyond the middle of the century.

Giottino, who possibly is to be identified with Giotto’s pupil Maso, is
a more delicate spirit with unusual resources of pathos. His best work
is an altar-piece of the Deposition, Figure 27, painted about 1360 for
the Church of San Remigio at Florence and now in the Uffizi. A
preference for isolated figures and for vertical lines is noteworthy, as
is the wistfulness of the attendant donors. Similar qualities of
delicate precision as of dispersion are in the frescoes in Santa Croce
which represent the Miracles of Pope Sylvester. The note is feminine and
rather Sienese than genuinely Florentine.


  FIG. 28. Andrea Orcagna. Christ conferring authority upon St. Peter
    and St. Thomas Aquinas.—_Strozzi Chapel, Santa Maria Novella._

Outside of Giotto’s _bottega_ arose the rare continuers of his
tradition. Such an artist flourished about the middle of the century in
the person of Andrea di Cione, better known by his nickname of Orcagna.
He was more of a sculptor and architect than a painter, a man of dignity
and force, a poet and thinker. Although not a pupil of Giotto, he
studied that master’s work admiringly, and sought to reproduce its
massiveness. Its brusqueness he largely rejected. Instead of sketching
the draperies summarily, he drew the folds carefully after the model; he
liked to treat the panel and wall as a whole, where Giotto had accepted
the tradition of subdivision; he gave to his faces a greater sweetness
and he occasionally attempted foreshortenings and impetuosities of
gesture that Giotto would have avoided. Unluckily Orcagna’s most
important frescoes have perished. We may grasp his nobility in the
altar-piece which he finished and dated in 1357, Figure 28, for the
chapel of the Strozzi family at Santa Maria Novella. The formality of
the composition is noteworthy, as is the stately sweetness of the
Madonna. The subject is Christ delegating his Power and Wisdom
respectively to St. Peter and to St. Thomas Aquinas.

In the same chapel the figure of Christ leaning forward over a cloud and
making the sublime gesture that decrees the end of the world and the
Judgment Day, Figure 29, is probably designed by Orcagna, as are the
larger figures below. We have here one of the freest and grandest
conceptions of the period. The lovely garden-like heaven and the quaint
and ingenious hell on the side walls are by Orcagna’s brother, Nardo di
Cione. The mood is less grave than Orcagna’s, variety counts for more.
The heads of the saints are of a most delicate beauty. Nardo has many of
the qualities of the panoramic painters without their heedlessness. He
represents a compromise between the severity of Giotto and the
diffuseness of his own day. He worked indefatigably until 1366, and his
younger brother, Jacopo, and his imitator, Mariotto, continued the
manner almost into the new century.

Orcagna was perhaps more versatile than critics have supposed. Recently
discovered fragments of frescoes in Santa Croce, Figure 30, show a
drastic power that no other Florentine possessed. The theme is miserable
folk in time of pestilence crying out to Death to end their sorrows. The
entire fresco would have shown Death passing them by and poising the
scythe for prosperous and happy folk beyond. The whole scene exists in
the famous frescoes of the Pisan Campo Santo which, while traditionally
ascribed to Orcagna, are unquestionably of Sienese inspiration. They
will occupy us later. Orcagna’s solitary position in Florence reminds us
that artistic succession is rarely from master to pupil, but from great
soul to great soul across intervening mediocrity.


  FIG. 30. Andrea Orcagna. They call Death in Vain. Fragment from ruined
    fresco of the Triumph of Death.—_Santa Croce._


  FIG. 29. Andrea Orcagna. Upper part of Fresco of Last
    Judgment.—_Strozzi Chapel, Santa Maria Novella._

Giorgio Vasari regarded Gherardo Starnina (active before 1400) as an
important link between Giotto and the Renaissance, and if Professor
Suida is right in ascribing the frescoes of the legend of St. Nicholas
in the Castellani Chapel, Santa Croce, to Starnina, Vasari was quite
right. About this mysterious pupil of Antonio Veneziano who worked in
Spain, we really know almost nothing. But the St. Nicholas frescoes have
a grimness and gravity which points back to Giotto and withal a careful
fusion of light and shade which anticipates Masolino and Masaccio.
Meanwhile Giotto’s own great compositions in still undiminished splendor
and impressiveness stood ready to give lessons to the eye and mind that
could read them aright. Before such later panoramists as Niccolò di
Pietro Gerini, Mariotto di Nardo, and Spinello Aretino were gone, that
eye was already busy, in the person of a rugged little boy of San
Giovanni in Valdarno. He may have already been called Masaccio for his
untidiness. He was to rebuild on Giotto and create the grand style of
the Renaissance.

A mere catalogue of those painters who pursued the panoramic method with
ability can hardly be expected. One and all they followed the Sienese
narrative style. Prominent would be certain incomers from other cities,
Giovanni da Milano, Antonio Veneziano, and Spinello Aretino. These are
typical decorators of the last quarter of the 14th century.


  FIG. 31. Andrea Bonaiuti, The Navicella, fresco, closely imitated from
    Giotto’s Mosaic at St. Peter’s, Rome.—_Spanish Chapel._

We do better to fix our attention upon the most remarkable example of
the Florentine panoramic style, the decoration of the Spanish Chapel,
the chapter house attached to the Dominican Church of Santa Maria
Novella.[14] The work was begun by Andrea Bonaiuti in the year 1365, as
we know from a recently discovered document. As decoration it is
delightful, if rather superficially so. The artist treats his spaces as
wholes, declining to cut them up into oblongs after the earlier fashion.
He covers his great surfaces with ease and taste, has a knack at
illustration, and a fine sense of color. The great Calvary over the
triumphal arch imposes from its very vastness; the triangles of the
cross vault, including a spirited transcript of Giotto’s Navicella,
Figure 31, are composed with clarity and skill; the famous composition
of the Dominican theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas, enthroned above the
Liberal Arts and Sciences, and their representatives in history,
combines an almost Byzantine formality and grandeur with prettiness and
ingenuity in details. But the method is better shown in the decoration
opposite, which represents the dual earthly powers, the Pope and the
Emperor, enthroned equally, and supported by the representatives of the
spiritual orders and secular estates, Figure 32. The group which
symbolizes the right government of society, according to mediæval ideas,
is set before a church which quite faithfully shows what the Cathedral
of Florence was then intended to be. High up in the arch is the goal of
all earthly endeavor—Heaven with Christ enthroned amid the angels; an
altar with a lamb before Him, symbolizing His sacrifice; His Mother
kneeling as intercessor for mankind. The Gate of Heaven with St. Peter
in attendance, is naïvely set above the church on a sort of aerial raft.
Below is a novel realistic touch, the villa-studded sky line of hills
which encloses Florence. The real guide to St. Peter’s presence is
always a Dominican monk, usually St. Dominic himself is intended—the
founder and militant evangelist of the order, as St. Thomas Aquinas was
its systematic theologian. In the lower range of the picture, St.
Dominic confutes the heretics, who tear their wicked books in despair.
Above he vainly beseeches careless gentlefolk at dalliance in an orange
grove; still higher, he leads the truly penitent to Heaven’s gate. At
the foot the Domini Canes (a bad pun for Dominicans) are vigilant. The
moral of the fresco is, happy the world which trusts its worldly and
religious business to the Emperor and the Pope, and its personal
religious problems to the Dominicans. It is a kind of glorified poster
for the order.

In its sprightliness, variety, complication and facile charm, it is a
fine example of the panoramic style. It lacks every quality of
seriousness whether as a composition or in the drawing of the figures.
But its fairy tale profuseness and ease have made it ever since it was
painted, one of the most popular decorations in Italy. Its success shows
the kind of taste with which the few disciplined artists of the
fourteenth century had to contend. Such obstacles have ever been the
fate of the artist who cares enough for his art to practice it


  FIG. 32. Andrea Bonaiuti. Dominican Allegory of Church and State.
    Fresco.—_Spanish Chapel._

Work of the facile and superficial character of the Spanish Chapel
Florence produced in abundance for two generations after Giotto’s death.
His faithful but dull disciple, Taddeo Gaddi, as we have seen, gloomily
foresaw the downfall of the art of painting. But as in a great
personality the recreations and even dissipations seldom permanently
eclipse the greater purpose, so Florence was big enough to indulge for a
time her weaker side. Had Taddeo Gaddi been more intelligent, or even
more hopeful, he would have seen that new masters must arise, and that
there would soon be pictures in Florence at which Giotto come back to
earth would gaze with that humility with which he had once viewed the
marble gods of Rome, with that understanding sympathy which he had borne
to all his fellow mortals.

                      ILLUSTRATIONS FOR CHAPTER I


Giovanni Villani, _Historie_, XII, 4, regrets the passing of decorum
with the advent of the French and the Duke of Athens in 1342, but wealth

“Formerly the clothing and costumes [of the Florentines] was the most
beautiful, noble and distinguished of any nation, in the manner of the
togaed Romans.” Evidently the look of things favored the art of a

In book XI, ch. 91–93, Villani gives remarkable and quite modern
statistics which I paraphrase and quote, in part from the Giunta
edition, Venice, 1559. The time is about 1340.

“We found by diligence that in these times there were in Florence 25,000
men fit to bear arms, from 15 to 70 years old, among whom there were
1506 nobles.... There were then in Florence 65 fully equipped knights,
though before the middle class which now rules was organized, there were
more than 250 knights.... There was estimated to be 90,000 ... men,
women and children in the city. There is supposed to be generally in the
city 1,500 foreigners, travellers, and soldiers not counting in the
population the clergy, monks, and nuns.... In the outlying districts are
supposed to be 80,000 people. We have found from the rector who baptizes
the children (since for every male who was baptized in San Giovanni—in
order to have the count—was dropped a black bean, and for every female a
white) that for every year in these times there were from 5,800 to
6,000, the males generally exceeding by 300 to 500 a year.

“We find that the boys and girls at [primary] school were from 8,000 to
10,000. The boys who study the abacus (calculation) and arabic numbers,
in six schools, from 1,000 to 1,200. And those who are learning [Latin]
grammar and logic, in four great schools, from 550 to 600.

“The churches, which were then in Florence and in the suburbs, counting
the abbeys, and monastic churches, we find to be 110, of which 57,
parish churches ... 5 abbeys and two priories with 80 monks, 24 convents
of nuns, with more than 500 women, 10 friaries with more than 700
friars, 30 hospitals with more than 1000 beds to lodge the poor and
infirm, and from 250 to 300 chaplain priests.

“The shops of the cloth makers (_arte della lana_) were 200 and more,
and they made from 70,000 to 80,000 bolts, at a value of more than
1,200,000 gold florins, although fully a third part staid in the city
for the workers, without gain for the cloth handlers, and the workers
are more than 30,000 persons....

“The warehouses of the art of the _Calimala_, for the French and
transalpine cloth, were 20, which brought in per year more than 10,000
bolts of a value of 300,000 gold florins, all of which was sold in

Banks of money changers 80.... Shops of bootmakers ... 300. The college
of judges, from 80 to 100. And notaries from 600 up, doctors of physic
and surgery 60, and druggists’ shops 100....

“The greater part of the well-to-do, rich, and noble citizens with their
families, staid in the country for four months, and some, more, a

“Other dignities and magnificences of our city of Florence I should not
fail to bring to memory, for information of such as shall come after us.
It was, within, well built with many beautiful palaces and houses, and
in these times they were continually demolishing, thus bettering the
building by making it more comfortable and rich, bringing in from
outside the examples for every sort of betterment and beauty. Churches,
cathedrals, friaries of every rule, monasteries, magnificent and rich.
Furthermore, there was no citizen who did not have a country place,
great or small, which was not richly built, indeed far greater buildings
than in the city; and every citizen sinned by inordinate spending,
whence they were thought crazy. But it was so magnificent a thing to
see, that a foreigner, not used to coming in, believed, because of the
rich structures for three miles about, that it was all one city after
the manner of Rome, not to mention the rich palaces, towers, court
yards, terraced gardens, still further from the city, which in any other
country would have been called the rural districts. In short one would
have thought that within six miles of the city were more rich and noble
inhabitants, than, taking them together, two Florences could have
produced. And let this suffice for telling of the facts of Florence.”


Giotto’s humanistic detachment from the Franciscan doctrine of voluntary
poverty is well illustrated in his poem which is quoted in part from
Dante Gabriel Rosetti’s translation. The original is in G. Milanesis’
edition of Vasari, _Le Vite_, Vol. I, Florence 1878, pp. 426–8.

              “Many there are, praisers of Poverty;
              The which as man’s best state is register’d
                When by free choice preferr’d,
              With strict observance, having nothing here.
              For this they find certain authority
              Wrought of an over-nice interpreting.
                Now as concerns such thing,
              A hard extreme to me it doth appear,
                Which to commend I fear,
              For seldom are extremes without some vice,
                Let every edifice,
              Of work or word, secure foundation find;
                Against the potent wind,
              And all things perilous, so well prepared—
              That it needs no correction afterward.”


Tommaso di Rossello Strozzi left a rough note of the terms of the
contract for the altar-piece of his chapel. Doubtless the actual
contract was much fuller. The minute is published by Filippo Baldinucci,
_Opere_, Milano 1811, Vol IV. p. 397.

“Herewith is to be written [on my part] and Andrea called Orcagna that I
Tommaso di Rossello aforesaid have given to paint for the altar-piece
which is made for the altar of [the chapel] in Santa Maria Novella, of a
breadth of five braccia, 1 sol. [over 10 feet] there or thereabouts. The
aforesaid Andrea is to paint in fine and splendid colors; and gold,
silver and everything else are truly to be used in the entire panel and
pinnacles, that is [gold] leaf. Only in the side columns may silver be
used.... And [with] as many figures as [directed] by me Tommaso it shall
be completed. And the said panel to be entirely painted by his own hand.

“[1] 354 in twenty months....

“Should it come about that the aforesaid Andrea should not give it to us
completed and painted.”

“He should pay me for every additional week that he works at the
painting as it shall seem right to the judgment of the here named

“Should it come to more than the aforesaid price, we will take the
judgment of Carlo, Paolo and Fra Jacopo.”

Such is approximately the sense of this very difficult and quite
grammarless annotation of Tommaso Strozzi. The arbitrators must have had
occasion to act, for the panel is dated 1357, two years after the
promised time.


  FIG. 33. Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Madonna of San Francesco.

                               CHAPTER II

  On the Romantic instability of Siena—Fidelity to Byzantine
      Ideals—Guido, Coppo, the Master of the Altar-front of St.
      Peter—Duccio and his great Majesty of the Madonna—His twofold
      tendency: to elaborated staged narrative; to sparse and exquisite
      decoration—Simone Martini and the Idealistic chivalric style—The
      Brothers Lorenzetti and the popular panoramic style—Second half of
      the Fourteenth Century—The Fifteenth Century: Sassetta and
      Giovanni de Paolo—Matteo, Benvenuto and Neroccio—The Renaissance
      and the downfall of the School, Francesco di Giorgio, Sodoma.

As you enter Siena by the wide Camollia gate you will read in Latin
“Siena opens her Heart still wider to thee”:—_Cor magis tibi Sena
pandit._ Thus Siena avows herself the city of the heart. Where Florence
studied and calculated, she mused and dreamed; where Florence was solid,
she was volatile. For unrewarding idealisms she had a kind of genius.
Long after the other Italian communes had seen it was worst possible
business to support the emperor, Siena was faithful to that lost cause.
Every few years she changed her form of government, and seldom for the
better. Merrymaking and pageantry were universal in old Italy, but Siena
alone had a Spendthrift Club (_Brigata Spendereccia_) devoted to
continual pleasure, and a poet, Folgore da San Gemignano, to celebrate
its gaieties. Siena was ardent in inconstant fashion. Early in the 14th
century was found a nude marble Venus so beautiful that it was set up in
the great square and thronged with admirers. Then the war with Florence
went badly, and at a few words from a pious fanatic, the citizenry
smashed up the image and secretly buried the bits on Florentine soil to
bring bad luck to the foe. Naturally no bad luck ensued to Florence, but
Siena had enjoyed two delightful emotional crises. You will see why
Siena never could produce a realistic art, any more than Ireland has
produced one. Her eye was not on the object but on her own state of
mind. Thus Florence will produce historians, scientists, and
politicians, while Siena will produce saints and miracles.

Amid this romantic inconstancy, the continuing thread was the cult of
the Blessed Virgin. No other city thought so delicately of her, and no
other art has represented her so ideally. Had she not saved the city? In
1259 the Florentine Guelfs and their allies marched with overwhelming
force to the very gates of Siena. Ruin was imminent and despair abroad,
when by a common impulse the populace marched penitently to the
Cathedral and before the rude picture of the Queen of Heaven solemnly
committed the city into her hands. In ecstacy of renewed faith the
inferior army of Siena fell upon the invaders at Montaperti and utterly
routed them. In gratitude Siena remained the city of the Virgin. When in
1310 the painter Duccio replaced the rude effigy of the Madonna of
Victory with one of the finest Madonnas known to art, Fig. 37, the whole
city suspended business and escorted the picture from the studio to the
Cathedral with hymns and litanies in honor of their divine patroness.

Nowhere else has painting paid such homage to the Virgin Mary. In other
cities it was enough to represent her enthroned with a handful of angels
or saints in attendance. The Sienese painters multiplied the celestial
escort until it became a heavenly court over which the Mother of God
presides in sweet majesty. Siena also grasped at the then not quite
orthodox subject of the Assumption of the Virgin into Heaven. You see
her slender form rising amid a glory of angels more than a hundred years
before the theme was common elsewhere.

These brief hints will tell of the temper of Siena. You will not expect
such a city to be like Florence, interested in facts and charmed by the
human spectacle. She will be rather engrossed with the beauty of old
legends and in rare forward-looking moments concerned with her own
devout imaginings. She will not wish the saints to be like the people
one knows, but like denizens of some divine, far-off fairyland. Her
painting will not be humanistic but of an unworldly idealism.


  FIG. 34. Guido of Siena. Madonna.—_Uffizi._

Such being the temper of Siena, her artists, unlike those of Florence,
had no quarrel with the Byzantine style. Its splendid irreality only
needed to be made flexible and gracious. Siena has really no new ideas
to express, merely feelings more tender and exquisite. Her pictorial
reforms are reverent and gradual, backward-looking, mediæval. Her art
from 1300 to 1500, as lovely within its narrow limits as the closed
garden of the Virgin, has the great interest of teaching us what
capacities for growth lay in the mediæval tradition itself—what painting
in Italy would have been had Siena exercised her temporary might after
Montaperti and razed Florence five years before Giotto was born.


  FIG. 35. Sienese about 1275. Altar-front of St. Peter.—_Siena._

A little earlier than the year 1225, when Florence called in strangers
to adorn the Baptistery with mosaics in the Greek style, Guido of Siena
signed and dated 1221 the most famous of his madonnas. Unhappily the
enthroned Virgin of the Palazzo Pubblico was repainted some fifty years
later, a fact which has led many critics unnecessarily to doubt the
date.[15] But from half a dozen other pictures by Guido we may learn
that he was a diligent and rather heavy-handed imitator of the current
Greek formulas, Figure 34. At the battle of Montaperti the Sienese
captured an excellent Florentine painter, Coppo di Marcovaldo, and in
1261 he painted the admirable madonna which is still in the church of
the Servi. It shows a sensitive use of the Byzantine conventions. There
is pensiveness and almost shyness in the face and posture of the Virgin,
and loving intentness in that of the Child. Their relation is to each
other and not as in earlier madonnas to the devout public. These
intimate qualities have been ascribed, I think wrongly, to restoration.
But they appear even more emphatically in the entirely unrestored
Madonna, Figure 3, in the collection of Mr. Otto Kahn, which I think may
be a Coppo[16], and is in any case of similar date and feeling.

The same process of sweetening the old style while accepting it, is
shown in the famous altar-piece of St. Peter in the Academy at Siena,
Figure 35. The gaunt figure of the Saint is completely traditional, the
little stories of the Annunciation and Nativity at the side show a new
vivacity and a new grace. Siena met the innovating painter more than
half way, for the indignant citizens soon marred with their knives the
crucifiers of the head of the Christian Church. The date of the panel
will not be far from 1275, and already the painter of genius who was to
create the sweet, new style was learning his trade.


  FIG. 36. Duccio Purcellai Madonna.—_Santa Maria Novella, Florence._

Of Duccio di Buoninsegna, the father of the Sienese school, and
everything considered its greatest master, we have numerous records,[17]
and by no means all to his credit. He must have had the artistic
temperament in a degree then unusual. The court records show half a
dozen fines against him, and he was not scrupulous about paying his
debts. One forgets these foibles before those Madonnas which are a
consummate expression of taste and those narratives which are a triumph
of tact and ingenuity. Duccio’s mind does not grasp the harsher and more
heroic emotions, but within the realm of the tender and pathetic he is
supreme. His elegance appears in his first important work, the famous
Rucellai Madonna, Figure 36, in Santa Maria Novella at Florence, which
tradition erroneously ascribes to Cimabue. It is presumably the great
panel which Duccio contracted to paint in 1285.[18] He was probably
young and unconsidered, for he took all the risks, agreeing that the
picture might be rejected at the will of the patrons. The Society of
Saint Mary the Virgin would have been foolish indeed to reject the most
gracious Madonna the world had then seen. Characteristic of Duccio are
the swaying curves of the contours and especially of the draperies, the
thin, delicately folded robes of the Child and the attendant angels and
the sensitively drawn bare feet. Working in Florence and doubtless
impressed by Cimabue, Duccio has retained in this early work a certain
austerity which gives way in his later work to a more feminine
sweetness. For that very reason the Rucellai Madonna is perhaps the
greatest Madonna of the century, since without loss of the stately
Byzantine qualities, she gains the new attributes of grace. It was no
wonder that when the name of Duccio had faded out of the Florentine
memory, Florence ascribed this noble Madonna to the venerated founder of
her native school, Cimabue. Recent criticism has righted the unconscious
wrong thus done to Siena.


  FIG. 37. Duccio. Madonna in Majesty.—_Opera del Duomo, Siena._

To mature his style Duccio needed only to intensify the qualities of
sweetness and grace which are evident already in the Rucellai Madonna.
The stages of his growth are represented in minor works at Siena and in
British and Roman collections. But his fame, for the layman, is
associated with the magnificent altar-piece which he executed for the
Cathedral of Siena, and only the special student need look beyond it. On
the 9th of October, 1309, Duccio contracted with the trustees of the
Cathedral to do a great altar-piece wholly with his own hands, at the
rate of sixteen soldi a day and expenses. He promised to take no other
work during the painting. It was finished in June of 1311 and carried in
solemn procession from the bottega outside the Porta a Stalloreggi to
the Cathedral. A chronicler describes the cortege “parading about the
Campo, as is usual, all the bells pealing a glory in devotion for so
noble a picture as this is.... And all that day they kept praying with
many alms which were given to poor folk, praying to God and His Mother,
who is our advocate, that she defend us in her infinite mercy from every
adversity and every ill, and save us from the hands of traitors and foes
of Siena.” Most characteristic of the febrile patriotism of Siena is
this constant dread of the traitor.

About a year before this ceremony the trustees enlarged the scheme for
the picture, making an additional contract for thirty-eight stories to
be paid at the rate of two florins and a half each. These were put on
the back of the altar-piece, covering very fully the life of Christ and
that of the Virgin. Thus the front of the altar-piece represents the
decorative and monumental ideals of Sienese painting while the back
exemplifies its feeling for narrative. Everything that Sienese painting
was to be is already in germ in this marvellous work.

In depicting the Virgin “in Majesty,” Figure 37, Duccio has magnified
the theme. Earlier pictures show only a handful of angels in attendance.
Here we have a cloud of celestial witnesses, the four patrons of Siena
kneeling in the foreground, at the sides charming alternation of grim,
bearded evangelists, orientally soft girl martyrs, and youthful
archangels. Seven years earlier Cimabue had conceived a similar great
Majesty for the Church of Santa Chiara at Pisa.[19] Doubtless Duccio had
seen it, and, though it is lost to us, we may assume, that the Sienese
artist outdid his prototype both in sweetness and splendor.

In many ways Duccio’s Majesty is highly traditional. It shows the
Byzantine horror of voids, is a little crowded. But this defect would be
less apparent if it were raised on its historiated base (_predella_)
with its original pinnacles above. Everything derives from Byzantine
exemplars, reverently improved in a realistic direction. Duccio has
dared to paint the Christ as a laddie; and not as a little old man; he
has shown the soft forms of His body through light draperies; he has
kept the austerity of the Byzantine apostles but has attenuated their
harshness; he has worked the insipid female masks of the older art into
forms of a positive and dreamy grace. One feels the tender mood of the
work in the Latin jingle at the foot of the throne, typical of dozens of
similar dedications in Siena:

                        Mater Sancta Dei
                        Sis caussa Senis requei
                        Sis Duccio vita
                        Te quia pinxit ita

which I may rudely paraphrase:

                 Holy Mother of God: grant Siena rest,
                 Grant life to Duccio,—he did his best.

All the sensibility of the City of the Virgin is in these prattling
rhymes with which they loved to hallow and offer great pictures.


  FIG. 38. Duccio. Entry into Jerusalem; Christ Washing the Apostles’
    Feet; Last Supper. From the back of the great Madonna.—_Opera del
    Duomo, Siena._

If the front of this panel shows only moderate innovations, the case is
not so for the back. The two score stories from the Bible or early
Christian legend, in the distribution of the figures follow faithfully
the standard Italo-Byzantine compositions. Where Duccio steps in is in
bettering the forms, giving grace to the draperies, and animation to the
gestures—above all in providing contemporary architectural accessories,
and coping with the problem of space. He also carries to their ultimate
refinement certain decorative formulas which the Byzantine painters had
glimpsed but not fully realized. Thus two quite opposed tendencies pass
into Sienese painting from Duccio;—a rather small preoccupation with
accessories and the problem of space, and a pure æstheticism concerned
with finesses of decorative arrangement—in short, the prose and the
poetry of Sienese painting.

Sienese narrative painting tends to be scrupulous about details and
inscenation, quite as a good story-teller naturally provides incidents
that make for plausibility. We may see how Duccio’s mind works in the
familiar theme of Christ entering Jerusalem, Figure 38. Duccio sets the
spectator in a garden with an open gate, thus throwing the scene back a
little. Above the procession and the rejoicing throng rises a city wall,
and still higher against the sky bristle Gothic towers and spires. Thus
the theme gains picturesqueness and variety. One forgets that there is
hardly space for the welcoming throng before the gate, and that the
donkey’s four feet are on a level although he is going up hill. These
little maladjustments show that while Duccio took infinite pains in
inventing the setting, he borrowed the figure groups bodily from earlier
Byzantine compositions in which the setting was simpler. In this
piecing-together process he turns some pretty sharp corners, but he
never sacrifices clarity and expressiveness.

In the scene where the maid servant catches the Galilean burr in Peter’s
voice, Figure 39, and asks if he be not a follower of Jesus, we find
Duccio’s method quite at its best. Nothing could be better than the
sudden turn of the girl with one foot on the steps. Fine, too, is the
concentration of the crowd on the exciting problem of gossip.
Well-observed, their actions as they warm their feet and hands at the
fire. Vivid, too, the impulsive gesture of Peter as he denies the
charge. The place, a court yard with a staircase leading right into the
picture above, which represents the court room where Jesus is being
questioned, is most elaborately planned. One looks back through a portal
into farther spaces. All this was so new and interesting that I presume
the Sienese have never noticed to this day that the seated group would
never fit in the space assigned to it and that the positions of the
figures are ambiguous. The picture does admirably its work of telling a
story spiritedly, and that is enough.


  FIG. 39. Duccio. Peter denies Christ.—_Opera del Duomo, Siena._

Duccio’s Calvary, Figure 41, is remarkable for breadth, spectacular
effectiveness, and a measured pathos. As usual he multiplies actors and
incidents while keeping the orderliness of the arrangement. The
slightness of all the forms, their little weight and uncertain balance
are apparent. And there is, on the same principle of taste, a similar
attenuation of emotion. Where Giotto at Padua gave stark tragedy, Duccio
offers a gentle flutter of restrained grief.


  FIG. 40. Duccio. The Marys at the Tomb.—_Opera del Duomo._

Such is the average of these narratives, clear, picturesque,
circumstantial, infused with a generalized and never very intense
emotion. There are some, mostly composed with few figures, which reveal
a great fastidiousness of arrangement. In such a composition as the
Marys at the Tomb, Figure 40, Duccio reveals himself as pure æsthete, as
consummate master of linear composition. The motive is essentially
insignificant, merely that the Marys shrunk at the sight of the angel at
the tomb, but out of that motive of withdrawal is wrought through the
little panel a lovely rhythm to which everything contributes—the rise of
the cliffs and their crinkly edges, the contrasting angles of the tomb
and its impossibly tilted lid, the reciprocal curve of the angel. We
grasp in the picture a general truth which reaches far beyond Duccio and
Siena, that a too conscious struggle for style precludes any complete
expression of emotional significance. For this picture is as trivial as
a narrative as it is exquisite as a decoration.


  FIG. 41. Duccio. Calvary.—_Opera del Duomo._

Duccio, who disappears from our sight about the year 1318, fixed once
for all the character of the Sienese school. In narrative it was to
adopt the placid and tender tone of legend, most unlike the urgent and
dramatic mood of Giotto. The Sienese artist was too reverent to raise
the question how did this happen, and how did the persons feel; he asked
rather “How do we feel about it as believers?” The beauty of the work,
then, is not that of outer reality but of revery and meditation. It
never has the tang and variety of good Florentine narrative painting,
but within its lovingly modulated monotony, Sienese narrative painting
is supremely charming.


  FIG. 42. Simone Martini. Madonna in Majesty. Fresco.—_Palazzo
    Pubblico, Siena._

Duccio also started in Siena a somewhat worried and petty concern with
accessories, architecture, complications of perspective. He inaugurated
a tradition of material splendor in gilding, tooling, delicate
graduation of color which remained the glory of Sienese painting for
nearly two centuries. So far as we know he painted only in tempera on
panel, and the Sienese generally were to triumph in this feminine form
of work rather than in the masculine methods of fresco. Finally Duccio
took over from Byzantine art and perfected certain finesses of highly
simplified and abstract composition, a pure æstheticism distinctly
Sienese and wholly alien to the warm humanism of Florence. You will find
this austerely lovely style at its best in Simone Martini, and surviving
as late as Sassetta and the middle of the fifteenth century.

After Duccio, Sienese painting divides itself into two tendencies, one
aristocratic, chivalric and æsthetic, deriving from his decorative
manner; the other popular, narrative and realistic, deriving from his
minutely staged scenes on the back of the great altar-piece. Of the
aristocratic style Simone Martini is the greatest exemplar, of the
popular style, the brothers Lorenzetti.

Simone Martini was born in 1283 or thereabouts. We first meet him as an
artist in the great frescoed Majesty of the Virgin, Figure 42, completed
in 1315 for the Palazzo Pubblico, Siena. The arrangement is like that of
Duccio’s Majesty, finished only five years earlier, and the facial types
are generally those of Duccio. But the great fresco gains clarity and
impressiveness from the added space, from the picturesque motive of a
canopy, from the isolation and elevation of the Madonna above her
escort, and from the rich Gothic forms of the throne, which are a
novelty in painting. While most of the faces show the orientalism of
Duccio, the Madonna has the level-browed, intent character of Gothic
art, and the Child is realistic. Gothic again is the graceful border
with its fine medallions, and the bright colors of the whole. It is the
most splendid enthroned Virgin in the world, and she is conceived
chivalrically as a sort of tournament queen with her paladins upholding
a canopy, and angel pages on their knees offering roses and lilies.

To the Sienese this was a political picture, as a rhymed inscription in
Italian shows. The saintly patrons of Siena address the Virgin:

               “Angelic flowers, roses and lilies
               With which the heavenly meadow is adorned,
               Delight me less than do good counsels.
               But sometimes I see such as verily
               Despise me and my city betray,
               And gain praise the more for evil words,
               With such as merit condemnation.”

The Virgin answers the saints patrons somewhat evasively:

                 “Fix my delights in your minds,
                 So that I shall, as ye wish,
                 Fulfil your honorable requests.
                 But if the powerful molest the weak,
                 Oppressing whether with shame or harm—
                 Let not your prayers be made for these
                 Nor for whomsoever betrays my city.”


  FIG. 43. Simone Martini. St. Martin Knighted.—_Lower Church, Assisi._

In Simone’s work this great Majesty is an exception. He preferred
generally to work on a more restricted scale, to burn the lamp of
æsthetic sacrifice. I can merely allude to the great idealized portrait
of St. Louis of Toulouse, in S. Lorenzo, Naples. It was painted for King
Robert of Anjou, whose kneeling figure appears in the picture, sometime
after 1317. The thing is resplendent in gold and azure, adorned by
curiously twisted Gothic borders; in sentiment it is impassive as a
Buddhist painting.


  FIG. 44. Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi. The Annunciation.—_Uffizi._

About the year 1325,[20] we may surmise, Simone was called to Assisi to
fresco the Chapel of St. Martin in the Lower Church. He set upon the
walls so many fairy tales, tender and sprightly in sentiment, provided
with the few essential accessories that a rapid story-teller would need.
What more charming than the boy Martin praying while they bind on him
the equipment of a knight, Figure 43, and musicians sound a fanfare!
What more gallant than the lad setting out on crusade against the
Teutons who lurk in a cleft of the background! This gracious childlike
quality, quite akin to the tender phase of Duccio, is exceptional in
Simone, who habitually is the strenuous decorator.

His sparse and austere methods appear clearly in the commemorative
fresco of Guidoriccio, hired general of Siena, and conqueror of
Sassoforte. It is in the Palazzo Pubblico and duly dated 1328. Nothing
is realistic but the horse and rider. They are isolated, hold alone a
field made up of pure symbols for camps, and fortresses and craggy
hill-tops, yet the martial effect is unmistakable and the composition
most quaintly impressive.

The quintessence of Simone’s later art is in the famous Annunciation of
the Uffizi, Figure 44. In order to justify the most nervously exquisite
of linear arrangements he has chosen the least significant moment of the
event. His Virgin is merely a sullen princess resenting an intrusion;
the Gabriel, an etherialized courtier pleading a cause with apologies.
But the contrast of the advancing and shrinking motives gave Simone
precisely what he wanted. He builds up areas richly colored or brocaded,
bounded by sharp curves, relieved by flutters and spirals of flying
drapery, and accentuated by such details as the olive twigs and the lily
which have the crisp incisiveness of finest metal work. As a triumph of
pure decoration Gothic painting has nothing better to show than this
lovely panel which was finished in 1333 for the chapel of Sant’ Ansano
at Siena. It has little quality of heart in it, and no reverence save
that of consummate workmanship.

Great honors awaited Simone. He was called to the exiled papal court at
Avignon in 1339, met Petrarch, painted Petrarch’s Laura and is lauded in
one of the poet’s sonnets. Of Simone’s work at Avignon we have only a
few small panels scattered between Antwerp, Paris, Liverpool, and
Berlin. The compositions, most of which belonged to a composite
altar-piece depicting Christ’s passion, waver between his old simple
style and a crowded and animated mood reminiscent of Duccio, and
influenced by the Lorenzetti. Simone is unable to resist the universal
tendency towards diffuse narrative, and in so far as he yields to it, he
is less than himself. Christ Bearing His Cross, in the Louvre,
exemplifies the extravagance and morbidness of this latest manner,
Figure 45. His strength lies in sacrifice and abstraction, his real
affinities are the contemporary Buddhist painters of China and Japan,
though of course he knew nothing of them. He died in 1344, leaving
behind him a tradition of fastidious artistry which was potent in Siena
for over a century.


  FIG. 45. Simone Martini. Christ bearing His Cross.—_Louvre._

As late as 1450, Lorenzo Ghiberti informs us in his “Commentaries,”[21]
the Sienese regarded Simone Martini as their greatest painter. He
differed from them, preferring, himself, Ambrogio Lorenzetti. This was
an eminently Florentine choice, Ambrogio’s warmth, concreteness, and
elaboration were on the whole Florentine. He worked for several years at
Florence, must have known Giotto, certainly studied him with discerning
admiration. With his elder brother, Pietro, Ambrogio Lorenzetti gave to
Duccio’s tradition of detailed narrative painting its perfected form.
They were great fresco painters, and most characteristic as such. In
panel painting they are less original, but they bring into this highly
conventional art a great ardor and curiosity. They represent the popular
average of Siena as Simone Martini represented its aristocratic


  FIG. 46. Pietro Lorenzetti. Madonna with Saints, 1320.—_Pieve,

We first meet Pietro Lorenzetti as an artist in the altar-back at the
Pieve, Arezzo,[22] Figure 46, which was finished in 1320. It is an
_ancona_, or compartmented piece and the most splendid that has come
down in Romanesque form. The figures are of two sorts. The Madonna is of
intent Gothic type, and the fine motive of holding off the Christchild
at elbow length in order to see him better is borrowed from Giovanni
Pisano, who in turn took it from French Gothic sculpture. So are the
forms above in the Annunciation new and graceful, while the little boxed
room with its plastic column is also novel. The Assumption of the
Madonna in the highest pinnacle is probably the earliest occurrence of
this famous Sienese theme in painting. But all the figures of saints in
the three orders of the side panels are taken almost without change from
Duccio’s great altar-piece. It would be interesting to trace Pietro’s
emancipation through a dozen panels. No one better combined dignity with
grace, and feeling, and splendor. His work in fresco is fragmentary and
confused with that of his younger brother. We are certain of nothing
except a fragment of a deeply felt Calvary in the Church of St.
Francesco, at Siena. Many critics ascribe to him the agitated and wildly
picturesque frescoes of the Passion in the left transept of the Lower
Church at Assisi.[23] But this, I think, is a mistake. Pietro is never
in his certain works so lively and indecorous and casual. We have to do
with an artist influenced by Duccio working about 1330, Pietro himself
may appear as the Stigmatization, Figure 47, and one or two of the other
simpler compositions. The other frescoes are chiefly interesting as
showing the dangers of the panoramic method of Siena. Take the Last
Supper, Figure 48. The theme is simply lost in the fantastic richness of
the accessories. It is hard to find Christ or Judas, for the eye seeks
the radiating rafters or the scullery where cats lurk and eager
scullions wipe the dishes.


  FIG. 47. Pietro Lorenzetti, or Follower. St. Francis receiving the
    Stigmata. Fresco.—_Lower Church, Assisi._


  FIG. 48. School of Pietro Lorenzetti. The Last Supper. Fresco.—_Lower
    Church, Assisi._

In the Birth of the Virgin, dated 1342, Figure 49, Pietro spoils a
carefully studied and well-felt picture by elaboration of the setting.
The frame is conceived as the plastic front of a Gothic room within and
behind which, spaces are multiplied confusingly. Here the pedantic
preoccupation with the problem of space offends the eye and destroys the
unity of what in a simpler setting would be a monumental composition. It
illustrates the dangers of that smaller realism which from Duccio down
afflicted the more progressive painters of Siena. Such a picture enables
us to appreciate the tact and thoughtfulness with which Ambrogio
Lorenzetti approached his narrative themes.


  FIG. 49. Pietro Lorenzetti. Birth of the Virgin.—_Opera del Duomo,

Ambrogio Lorenzetti was born about the beginning of the century. In 1331
and later he painted remarkable frescoes for the Church of St. Francis.
These if complete would afford the most interesting comparisons with
Giotto at Florence, but the two that remain are among the best narrative
paintings of the time. What will first strike the observer in the story
of St. Louis of Toulouse renouncing his throne as he takes the
Franciscan vow, Figure 50, is the variety and orderliness of the
emotions. The devotion of the saint is well offset by the intense,
melancholy curiosity of his brother Robert, who becomes king through the
sacrifice. The audience is divided into admiring Franciscans and idly
marveling courtiers, the whole well dominated by the kindly and reverend
figure of the Pope. Remarkable is the methodical division of the spaces.
A slender column establishes the picture plane and sets the figures
back. A sort of desk in a hollow square defines and isolates the
monastic group, while the courtiers have their appropriate location in a
third plane of alcoves. Florence has next to nothing of this sort at
this period, and it may be noted that this careful division of spaces is
not matter of display and curiosity as in Duccio, but is logical and
effective as regards the persons of the narrative.


  FIG. 50. Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Prince Louis of Toulouse receives the
    Franciscan Vow.—_San Francesco, Siena._

Of similar significance, but more dramatic and picturesque, is the
martyrdom of the Franciscan missionaries before the Sultan of Morocco.
The elaborated spaces make for clarity, the entirely professional and
impersonal cruelty of the Moorish tyrant and his bodyguard is splendidly
caught and effectively contrasted with the courageous submission of the
martyrs. Lorenzo Ghiberti praises the energy and character of this work,
and the observer of today feels as deeply its romantic appeal. All the
figures are set on receding platforms, the problem of space is solved
along lines of intelligent literalism.[24]


  FIG. 51. Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Madonna in Majesty.—_Massa Marittima._

It would be a pleasure to dwell on the Madonnas of Ambrogio. The tragic
Madonna of S. Francesco, Figure 33, the Madonna with St. Dorothy and St.
Lucy, in the Siena Academy, the Virgin in Mr. Dan Fellowes Platt’s
collection are among the best. No other early Italian so combined
nobility with motherly warmth. His splendor and sweet dignity may best
be felt in the Majesty of the Virgin, Figure 51, in the little town of
Massa Marittima. The central motive, Mary and the Child embracing, is
almost Ambrogio’s invention. He rings the changes on it in lovely
modulations, while always retaining monumentality. This picture is as
stately as Duccio’s Majesty, and as resplendent as Simone Martini’s,
while having qualities of ardor and fancifulness all its own. The
fairy-like Virtues on the steps of the Madonna’s throne especially show
the rich vein of pure fantasy which accompanied Ambrogio’s robustness.
The picture may be dated about 1336 or later.

Previous to its painting Ambrogio had passed some years at Florence,
where he must have studied and known Giotto, and where he himself
influenced powerfully the beginnings of the new panoramic style.
Whatever frescoes he himself did there have perished, and the only
memorials of his visit are certain delightful little panels telling with
vivacity and utmost circumstantiality the legends of St. Nicholas. At
Florence he must have analyzed Giotto’s great political frescoes, now
lost, which depicted in symbols good and bad government. These were
surely the inspiration for the political symbols and illustrations which
Ambrogio, in the year 1337 and later, painted in the great hall of the
Palazzo Pubblico at Siena.

The most famous is the Allegory of the State. The Commune sits
enthroned, above in the air are the theological virtues—Faith, Hope and
Charity; seated at the side are the four secular virtues—Prudence,
Temperance, Justice, and Fortitude—and with them two additional
personifications useful to a state—Magnanimity and Peace. The graceful
relaxed figure of Peace, Figure 52, with her filmy drapery is famous.
Below the platform on which the Commune sits with attendant virtues, are
the grim, disciplined forms of men-at-arms and a throng of magistrates
and citizenry. At the left are symbolized Concord and Justice as the
supporters of a well-ruled state. Here the symbolism is childishly
obvious. Concord holds her smoothing plane. From her hand go strings
which bind in fellowship a group of citizens below and lead above to the
figure of Justice. Still higher is Wisdom. Justice deals punishment with
one hand and grants aid with the other; the Middle Ages never admitted
that Justice was merely punitive. The figures of Justice and Concord are
superb,—Ambrogio’s Madonna type on a heroic scale.

As a pictorial representation of the finest mediæval ideas of
statecraft, this fresco is of incomparable interest. As a decoration it
is hardly successful. The theme has hampered the artist, the handling of
the figures in several scales with the largest above, produces confusion
and topheaviness. Beautiful in the parts, it is disappointing in the

Far better merely as decoration is the companion fresco which represents
the Effects of Good Government, Figure 53. We have a peaceful city, the
entrancing spectacle of Siena as she was about the year 1339. Girls are
dancing a carol in the foreground with the quaintest dignity, mounted
merchants are passing, and if the picture were better preserved, we
should see the mechanics—or “artists” as they still call themselves in
Italy—working cheerily in their shops. In its richness without
confusion, this is the very triumph of the panoramic realism which
Ambrogio made popular throughout Italy.

There are many more frescoes in this series, mostly by imitators of
Ambrogio. The Sienese region is full of works by him or by his faithful
followers. His panel pictures are in many galleries of Europe and
America. They all confirm the record of Ghiberti that Ambrogio had the
habits of a nobleman—a great sympathy, a fine scrupulousness, a real
magnanimity. Certain contemporaries seem greater, Giotto surely, Simone
Martini perhaps, but no Italian painter until Raphael himself reveals so
complete and harmonious a development. We find no trace of the brothers
Lorenzetti after 1348. Presumably they perished in the great plague of
that year.


  FIG. 52. Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Peace, from the Fresco of Good
    Government.—_Palazzo Pubblico, Siena._


  FIG. 54. Luca Tommé. The Assumption of the Virgin.—_Jarves Coll., New
    Haven, Conn._


  FIG. 53. Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Results of Good Government—The Peaceful
    City. Fresco.—_Palazzo Pubblico, Siena._

For a century after the plague year, 1348, the painters of Siena
imitated either the narrative realism of Ambrogio or the decorative
sparseness of Simone Martini. It is customary to align them as of one
camp or the other. We may indeed say that such painters as Lippo Memmi,
Andrea Vanni, and Naddo Ceccarelli faithfully echo Simone, while such a
master as the influential Bartolo di Fredi, who is traceable as late as
1388, seems completely Lorenzettian. But most of the painters follow
freely both tendencies, employing Simone’s formulas in altar-pieces with
few figures, and Ambrogio’s in narrative. Such eclecticism produced
abundantly works of charm, for delicate sentiment and ornate
workmanship, but rather few works of originality. Perhaps because of
willingly accepted limitations, the average is higher than that of
Florence. Throughout Italy it was a more popular style than the
Florentine. It dominated the coast region from Naples to Valencia,
penetrated into Umbria and the Adriatic marshes, and even got a
temporary foothold in Florence itself. It fitted in better with mediæval
ideals than the art of Giotto and Orcagna, which implied classical
antiquity and anticipated the humanism of the Renaissance. On the whole
Sienese art runs down after the Lorenzetti died, losing the robustness
which Ambrogio had learned of Giotto, but its decline is gentle and
interrupted by beneficent reactions towards its established glories. We
may pass rapidly, and chiefly considering types, the fifty-odd years
between the Lorenzetti and the new century.

Luca Tommé is credited with an exquisite little Assumption, Figure 54,
in the Jarves Collection at Yale University. The picture, though it may
be as late as 1370, repeats loyally the formulas which Pietro Lorenzetti
invented nearly fifty years earlier. Perhaps Bartolo di Fredi, a rather
superficial and over-fecund artist, best represents the average
condition as the fourteenth century closed. In such a panel as the
Adoration of the Magi, in the Siena Academy, Figure 55, we see the
familiar theme for the first time expanded in a Lorenzettian sense. It
becomes a pageant, probably under the influence of contemporary mystery
plays. It is best conceived in the little scenes in the background; the
facial types and the simplified setting on the whole recall Simone
Martini. In other narrative pictures Bartolo vies with Ambrogio
Lorenzetti in complication of planes and architecture. On the whole he
is a rather faint echo, but his note while thin is also true.


  FIG. 55. Bartolo di Fredi. Adoration of the Magi.—_Siena._


  FIG. 56. Barna. The Transfiguration.—_Collegiata, S. Gemignano._

The declining century produced only one robust painter in Siena, the
mysterious Barna whose damaged frescoes of the Passion we see in the
Collegiate Church of San Gemignano. The forms are those of Simone
Martini, the compositions even more sparse than his, denuded of all
accessories, and powerfully impressive for this reason. The mood is
brusque and tragic, with nothing of Sienese sweetness. Barna seems a
kind of provincial Giotto misplaced and unrealized in the Sienese
country. In the fresco of the Transfiguration, Figure 56, he rises to
sublimity. Fra Angelico will merely repeat him in San Marco sixty years
later. Vasari tells us that Barna died from a fall from his painting
scaffold in 1381, and that he was then young. If so, his originality was
tremendous, for he cleared away ruthlessly all the delightful but
trivial stage furniture so diligently collected by Duccio and the
Lorenzetti. Modern criticism ascribes to him several panels, and I
venture to add to the list the simple and stately Marriage of St.
Catherine in the Boston Museum of Art. Certainly it is one of the most
serious creations of the period. The type of the Christ and the concise
and characterful arrangement seem to mark it as a fine Barna. The base
is interesting, representing the composing of a blood feud, and Miracles
of St. Michael and St. Margaret. While the simple pattern continues the
tradition of Simone, Barna avoids Simone’s linear grace-notes. The
finical element of the predecessor yields to a kind of realism. Barna is
really the critic of the Sienese school. He silently insists that one
may be decorative without too much artifice, and dramatic without
overtaxing the stage carpenter, a very solitary and elevated spirit, to
whom full justice has not yet been done.


  FIG. 57. The Three Living and Three Dead, detail from the Lorenzettian
    fresco, The Triumph of Death.—_Campo Santo, Pisa._

Most remarkable among the works inspired by the Lorenzetti is the
coarsely effective Triumph of Death, Figure 57. in the famous cemetery
cloister, Campo Santo, at Pisa. It represents the hazards of the mortal
life in view of certain death and judgment. At the left a royal hunting
party is stopped short by the sight and stench of three festering bodies
in coffins. The Hermit, Saint Macarius, points the obvious lesson that
kings and lords and fair ladies will turn to dust. In the centre,
miserable folk beckon and cry to Death to descend and put them out of
their distress. The harridan death ignores the prayer and flies over a
pile of corpses towards a gay garden party. Death loves to cut down the
young and gay and happy, leaving the old and crippled to prolonged
sorrow. In the upper left hand corner you have monks going about their
quiet pursuits. The whole adjoining fresco is given up to the lives of
such desert saints. At the upper right are angels and fiends struggling
for little nude forms that represent human souls. This motive is a sort
of overflow from a picture of the Last Judgment. The grim moral of the
three pictures is that the worldly life is one of mortal peril, which
may best be avoided by renouncing the world and joining a monastic
order. The work was completed about 1375, is in the rougher following of
the Lorenzetti, and has been famous ever since it was painted on the
cloister wall. Entirely Sienese in its conception, in its ruggedness it
transcends the usual softness of the school. It is the last significant
work of the 14th century.

Siena passed into the fifteenth century without greatly changing her
art. In the work of such traditional figures as Taddeo Bartoli one may
observe a certain coarsening of the tradition. Mere splendor tends to
replace the old delicacy, narrative painting becomes ever more
complicated and confused. The latter tendency is manifested in frescoes
which Domenico di Bartolo painted, between 1440 and 1443 for the
Hospital of the Scala, Figure 58. Their crowded picturesqueness grows
legitimately out of the Lorenzettian tradition, as does the elaboration
of architectural accessories. But the work also implies a certain
knowledge of the current Florentine discoveries in linear perspective
and in architecture. A small ingenuity runs pretty wild in these
decorations, valuable as they are in picturing the times.


  FIG. 58. Domenico di Bartolo. Clothing the Naked, from fresco series,
    the Seven Acts of Mercy.—_Scala Hospital, Siena._

About the time these frescoes were designed, a renovation of Sienese
painting was being made along divergent lines by Stefano di Giovanni,
nicknamed Sassetta,[25] and by the eager eccentric, Giovanni di Paolo.
In both cases we have a reactionary reform. Sassetta restudies devoutly
Simone Martini and the Lorenzetti, infusing his own tender mysticism
both into decoration and narrative. In a manner he combines the two
great currents of Siena’s past. We may best approach him through the
triptych of the Birth of the Virgin in the Collegiate church at Asciano,
Figure 59. It is his earliest work painted not much later than 1428
when, being thirty-five years old, he joined the Painters’ Guild. The
picture is conceived in the strictest Lorenzettian fashion, the frame
being treated as the front or extension of the painted architecture.
Aside from this carefully constructed setting, with its successive
spaces, the casual and familiar distribution of the figures suggests
strongly Pietro Lorenzetti. But the rich accessories in Sassetta’s hands
are delicately selected, the humble gestures have an artless grace, the
secondary figures such as the brocaded handmaid entering from the rear
are fascinating in their own right. An air of alert gentleness runs
through the picture. It is shared by persons of all ages. Such episodes
as the chatting of two old men before a respectfully listening urchin
add nothing to the story but strongly reinforce the faery charm of the
whole. Winsomeness has supplanted the monumental quality of the older
school. Above in the side gables are the scenes of the passing of the
Virgin’s soul and her funeral procession, both conceived in the manner
of the Lorenzetti. But the familiar forms are singularly animated by a
new spirit of tenderness. By a paradox these little stories are really
more like Duccio than any intervening work.


  FIG. 59. Sassetta. The Birth of the Virgin.—_Asciano._


  FIG. 60. Sassetta. Marriage of St. Francis to Poverty.—_Chantilly,


  FIG. 61. Sassetta. Temptation of St. Anthony.—_Jarves Coll., New
    Haven, Conn._

Sassetta painted seven years on his masterpiece, the now scattered
_ancona_ for the Franciscan Church at Borgo San Sepolcro. The central
panel was a St. Francis in ecstacy, now in Bernard Berenson’s
collection. On the back were eight of the legends of the “Fioretti.” The
panel was finished in 1444. Especially delightful is the panel at
Chantilly which represents St. Francis’s mystical betrothal with
Poverty, Figure 60. This scene is before Monte Amiata, spaced off from
the group by checkerboard fields. The maidens, Chastity and Obedience,
sway lily-like beside their more resolute sister, Poverty, upon whose
timidly offered hand the little saint firmly fixes a ring. Above, the
celestial trio rises over the mountain line, Poverty turning a regretful
face to her humble bridegroom. The simple pattern with its swaying lines
derives from Simone Martini, but there is none of his petulant
superiority in it, none of his nervousness. The realm is not the airless
heights of a pure æstheticism but a very human dreamland. Again Duccio
at his best is the closest analogy. Bernard Berenson in his admirable
little book _A Painter of the Franciscan Legend_ well describes the
technical perfection of such work as this. It is conceived in “outlines
which have in themselves an energy and vitality, that, whether they are
representative or calligraphic, give off values of movement, and values
of movement have the power to suggest the unembodied, life unclogged by
matter, something in brief that comes close to the utmost limits of what
visual art can do to evoke spirit.”

Apart from these sublimated reveries of Sassetta which express
themselves in utmost delicacy of line, hue, and touch, he had a
refreshing, drastic, almost a humorous side, which may be exemplified in
a Temptation of St. Antony, Figure 61, in the Jarves Collection at New
Haven. Beside his coral-red hut in a desert bounded by a wood that seems
the world’s end, the Saint starts away from a demure and very plain
little girl. He is perplexed, divining rather than seeing the tiny bats’
wings which mark her as a demon. The horizon is so curved that one
almost feels the old earth swinging unconcernedly beneath this dilemma.
A picture full of grotesque and authentic imagination, most true to the
hobgoblin tradition of the expiring Middle Ages.

Sassetta died in 1450, and his two long-lived pupils, Sano di Pietro
(1406–1481) and Giovanni di Paolo, (1403–1482) kept something of his
influence alive for still thirty years.

Sano needs few words. He took nothing from his master but certain formal
patterns, fine gilding and blithe colors. He repeats himself tediously,
there are over fifty of his panels in the Siena Academy alone, yet is so
genuine and unpretending that one forgets his lack of delicacy and
insight. A little Coronation of the Virgin, at New Haven, may
sufficiently represent his decorative phase. It is a nosegay of fair
colors on burnished gold. In narrative painting he is Lorenzettian
without the _finesse_ of his master. At least he helped prolong a lovely
tradition beyond its natural term, and that is his chief merit. “A
famous painter and a man wholly dedicated to God”—(_Pictor famosus et
homo lotus deditus Deo_)—we read in his death notice. Siena knew how to
appreciate a traditionalist.


  FIG. 62. Giovanni di Paolo. Young St. John Baptist goes to the
    Desert.—_Formerly Charles Butler Coll., London._

Giovanni di Paolo, on the contrary, suffered not from deficient
originality but from its excess. He selects restlessly from the older
pictures. You will find pure Duccian figures in his paintings of the
fifties. He studies the sparse decorative perfections of Simone Martini
and exaggerates their nervousness. He drives expression into caricature,
seeks strength in distortion, was the post-impressionist of his day. His
extravagance is unpleasing in his larger pieces, but is piquant enough
in his numerous small panels. One of a pair in English private
possession shows the Youthful St. John jauntily setting off for the
desert, with a quite cubistic treatment, Figure 62, of the lines of the
fields. The motive is still more ingeniously employed in one of a
remarkable set of pictures belonging to Mr. Martin Ryerson of Chicago.
Giovanni’s predilection for distortion and grimace is shown in The
Baptism of Christ, a pendant to the story of the youthful John, both
being parts of one predella.


  FIG. 63. Matteo di Giovanni. Saint Barbara with Saints.—_S. Domenico._

Giovanni died in 1482 at the advanced age of seventy-nine, having
faithfully preserved the old Gothic tradition while making it a vehicle
of his own resolute eccentricity.


  FIG. 64. Matteo di Giovanni. Massacre of the Innocents.

The slight concession which Siena made to the Renaissance was
inaugurated by Lorenzo Vecchietta, active from about 1440 to 1480. He
was primarily a sculptor and his silver altar-back was deemed worthy, in
1506, to displace the great Majesty of Duccio from the high altar of the
Cathedral. Vecchietta chiefly shows the effect of his studies as
architect and sculptor in a severe regard for anatomy, and in the
Renaissance character of his architectural settings. He painted for the
Cathedral of Pienza a majestic Assumption, his masterpiece. There are
numerous frescoes by him at Siena; he is perhaps most agreeable in
little stories elaborately set amid rich architecture, but he lacks the
sprightliness of the true narrative tradition. “He was a melancholy and
solitary person,” writes Vasari, “and always sunk in thought.” He did
something to give to the Sienese painting of the end of the century a
new and complicating thoughtfulness.


  FIG. 65. Benvenuto of Siena. Assumption of the Virgin.—_Metropolitan
    Museum, New York._

Far the most versatile painter at Siena in the second half of the
fifteenth century was Matteo di Giovanni.[26] He was not a native, but
born about 1430 at Borgo San Sepolcro in upper Umbria. There he worked
for a time with that stern realist Piero della Francesca. Thus Matteo
brought to Siena better training than his fellows had, but he soon fell
contentedly into the ways of the place. His madonnas and female saints
have a new touch. They are more girlish and fragile than their
predecessors, more exquisite, more fashionable. The type is represented
in dozens of panels of which Enthroned Saint Barbara, at Saint Domencio,
dated 1477, Figure 63, is a fine example.


  FIG. 66. Girolamo di Benvenuto. Love bound by Maidens. Birth
    Salver.—_Jarves Coll., New Haven, Conn._

In such work Matteo continues the tradition of Sassetta along somewhat
superficial lines of prettiness. He is far more original in the several
versions of the Massacre of the Innocents, in which seeking a maximum of
intensity he achieves only a very interesting sort of caricature. The
picture at S. Agostino, Figure 64, dated 1482, is perhaps the best of
the group. We are in the realm of the grisly fairy tale, at an ogre’s
sports. The crowding, tumult, ornate architecture are simply Matteo’s
attempts to refurbish the old Lorenzettian tradition. His real quality
best appears in the outlines prepared for the figure decoration of the
pavement of the Cathedral. In general his is an engaging but entirely
undisciplined talent, oscillating after the fashion of the moment, alike
in Florence and Siena, between mere prettiness and sheer restlessness.
He died in 1495, Michelangelo’s star being already in the ascendent over
neighboring Florence.

A kind of petrification of the traditional charm of Siena is in the work
of Benvenuto di Giovanni, scholar of Sassetta. He cultivates a
resplendent impassivity, is severe without much background of knowledge.
His stiffness is gracious enough, like that of an aristocrat who
maintains amid difficulties the dignity of an older school. His sense of
formal pattern and skill in modeling in a very blond key may be enjoyed
in his versions of the favorite theme of the Assumption. One of the best
of these, dated at the end of the century in the year 1498, is in the
Metropolitan Museum, Figure 65. Benvenuto was born in 1436 and died
about 1518. He might, had he chosen, have studied the whole realistic
development from Fra Angelico to Leonardo da Vinci, but his painting
keeps a chill virginal quality quite apart from life, its problems and

His son Girolamo continued the manner with less monumentality until his
death in 1524. To his early activity belongs the delightful salver, Love
Bound by Maidens, Figure 66, in the Jarves Collection at New Haven. It
is merely the tray on which the gifts were presented to a young mother
during the visits of congratulation. It was painted for some member of
the famous Piccolomini family, presumably about the year 1500. The stern
maidens who are plucking and binding the stripling Love, doubtless are
personifications of Chastity, Temperance and the like. In the middle
distance a knight rides off free to adventure since Love is safely
bound. It is an odd theme for a gift to a young bride and mother, but
the Italians never required consistency in their compliments. The
daintiness of the treatment is typical for Renaissance painting at
Siena, which never assumes a robust or realistic or humanistic accent.

There is a refinement which is the harbinger of death. It appears in
Siena in the person of Neroccio di Landi. He sublimates the style of his
great predecessors, Simone and Sassetta, adding freely the more delicate
ornamentation of the Renaissance. There is a peculiar pallor in his
coloring and tension in his modelling. It is an art of nerves and
ecstasies, wholly etherial. An admirable Annunciation in the Jarves
Collection at New Haven shows the rich setting, the odd blend of
precision with a languor that marks Neroccio as true grandson of Simone
Martini. There are many little panels of Madonnas with saints of amber
translucency. They have the startling vividness and irreality of an
hallucination. And there is a portrait of a girl in the Widener
Collection, Figure 67, which is of a superlatively delicate prettiness.
Neroccio was born in 1447 and died in 1500. With him passed the special
fragrance of Sienese art.

Until 1475, Neroccio was in partnership with one whose ambition went far
to destroy what Neroccio and Siena stood for. Francesco di Giorgio was
born in 1439. With an ambition and resolution wholly un-Sienese, he
mastered the arts of painting, sculpture, architecture and engineering.
He met Leonardo da Vinci at Pavia, worked for the tyrants of Milan,
competed for the façade of the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Flower at
Florence. As architect and engineer it appears that he became a
cosmopolitan, in painting it was hardly so. He is most delightful in his
early phase which is represented by a bride-chest in the Wheelwright
collection, Boston. It represents Prince Paris insolently appraising the
charms of the rival goddesses, and at the right riding Troywards in
disregard of the despair of forsaken Œnone. The classical theme is
tinged with mediævalism, naturalized as Sienese. Later pictures, such as
The Nativity, Figure 68, in the Sienese gallery, show Francesco uneasy,
twisting his figures for grace and display of knowledge, working over
the old landscape formulas in a semi-realistic sense, adding classical
architecture, generally trying to break the bounds of the old idealism.
The result is restlessness or at best an ambiguous charm. Siena is
beginning to regret her isolation, to make vain efforts to overtake the
tide of humanistic realism, to envy Florence, and even Perugia and
Cortona. From the point of view of the Renaissance she was two
generations behind, and no longer indifferent to the fact.


  FIG. 67. Neroccio di Landi. Portrait of a Girl.—_Widener Coll., Elkins
    Park, Pa._

Not merely Francesco di Giorgio tries to do in a decade the work of a
century, but such younger contemporaries as Fungai and Pacchiarotti look
to Florence or Umbria. Siena was given no time to reconstruct, and her
old beautiful art could not readily assume new forms. Siena never
assimilated the Renaissance. It invaded her, killed her native art and
substituted one without local flavor. Before Francesco di Giorgio died,
in 1502, he had seen Luca Signorelli called to Siena and the clever
decorator Pintorricchio. Siena no longer trusted her own artists.
Francesco probably took little note of the advent in 1501, of a young
Piedmontese painter, Antonio Bazzi,[27] nicknamed Sodoma, yet with
Sodoma remained what little future there was in Sienese painting.


  FIG. 69. Sodoma. Vision of St. Catherine of Siena. Fresco.—_S.
    Domenico, Siena._

Sodoma brought to Siena the knowledge of Leonardo da Vinci, the new
draughtsmanship in light and shade. He assimilated the sensibility of
Siena but coarsened it. No painter of the time was more overtly
sentimental. His famous St. Sebastian at Florence tells all that need be
known about him,—his considerable skill, his exaggerated pathos, his
clever use of poise and balance, his sober modern tonalities. His
sentimental power is at its height in the fresco at S. Domenico, Siena,
which represents S. Catherine swooning at the vision of her lover, the
Christ, Figure 69. Sodoma worked indefatigably in and about Siena till
1549. The few local painters of a progressive sort, Domenico Beccafumi,
Girolamo del Pacchia, either directly imitate Sodoma or draw from
similar alien sources. The only man of genius Siena produced in these
years, Baldassare Peruzzi (1481–1536), soon went to Rome where in
architecture he held his own with all comers, whereas in painting he
became a modest imitator of Raphael.

In the ten years after 1500 the old art perished. Siena from being the
last radiant exemplar of the glory of the mediæval spirit sunk to the
estate of a fourth class station of the Renaissance. Her idealism could
not bear the test of reality. Her domain had been that of legend and
fairy tale and dream, she had ruled it exquisitely for two centuries
until sheer taste had absorbed her little strength. She had left
unforgettable records of her most precious feelings, but little record
of her outer activities. Think how portraits abound in Florentine and
Venetian art after 1450! There are practically none at Siena. So it
would be futile to go to Siena for a greater understanding of the active
life. But if you would requicken the sense of legend, live over again
the tenderness mankind has ever felt for the beautiful past, hear some
faint blowing of the horns of elfland—if you want this experience, then
go to The gracious City of the Virgin and you shall find fulfilled the
generous motto over her main portal—Siena will open her heart wide to


  FIG. 68. Francesco di Giorgio. Nativity.—_Belle Arti._

                      ILLUSTRATIONS FOR CHAPTER II



                        FOLGORE DA SAN GEMIGNANO

                            _translated by_

                         DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI

           “I give you horses for your games in May,
             And all of them well trained unto the course—
             Each docile, swift, erect, a goodly horse:
           With armor on their chests and bells at play
           Between their brows, and pennons fair and gay;
             Fine nets and housings meet for warriors,
             Emblazoned with the shields ye claim for yours,
           Gules, argent, or, all dizzy at noon day;

           And spears shall split and fruit go flying up
           In merry counterchange for wreaths that drop
             From balconies and casements far above;
           And tender damsels with young men and youths
           Shall kiss together on the cheeks and mouths
             And every day be glad with joyful love.”

                        HOW VENUS FARED IN SIENA

  Ghiberti, in his commentaries (ed. Frey, Berlin 1886, p. 57 ff.) tells
  how a marble Venus, bearing the name of Lysippus was dug up at Siena.

  “I saw it only as drawn by a very great painter of the city of Siena,
  who was called Ambrogio Lorenzetti. This drawing was kept with
  greatest care by a very old Carthusian. This brother was a goldsmith,
  and his father, and was a designer and delighted greatly in the art of
  sculpture; and he began to tell me how that statue was discovered as
  they were making an excavation where now are the houses of the
  Malavolti; how all those instructed and versed in the art of
  sculpture, with the goldsmiths and painters ran to see this so
  marvellous and artistic statue. Every one praised it greatly, and also
  the great painters who then were in Siena—to every one it seemed
  absolutely perfect. And with all honors they set it upon their
  fountain, as a most splendid thing. All gathered to place it with
  greatest rejoicing and honor and they fixed it magnificently upon that
  fountain, which statue reigned there but passingly.”

  “For as the city had many adversities in the war with the Florentines,
  and the flower of the citizenry were assembled in council, a citizen
  rose and spoke about the statue in this tenor: ‘Gentlemen and
  citizens, having considered that since we have found this statue it
  has always gone wrong with us, and considering that idolatry is
  forbidden by our faith, we must believe of all the adversities which
  we have that God sends them for our errors. And behold in truth that
  since we have honored this statue we have always gone from bad to
  worse. I am certain that so long as we keep it in our territory it
  will always go wrong with us. As a councillor I would advise that it
  be taken down and shattered and split up and be sent to be buried on
  the soil of the Florentines.’

  “Unanimously they confirmed the words of their citizen and put them in
  execution, and the statue was buried upon our soil.”


  “On the day that it was carried to the Duomo the shops were shut; and
  the Bishop bade a goodly and devout company of priests and friars
  should go in solemn procession, accompanied by the Nine Magistrates
  and all the officers of the Commune and all the people; all the most
  worthy followed close upon the picture, according to their degree,
  with lights burning in their hands; and then behind them came the
  women and children with great devotion. And they accompanied the said
  picture as far as the Duomo, making procession round the Campo as is
  the use, all the bells sounding joyously for devotion of so noble a
  picture as is this. And all that day they offered up prayers, with
  great alms to the poor, praying God and His Mother who is our
  advocate, that he may defend us in His infinite mercy from all
  adversity and all evil, and that He may keep us from the hands of
  traitors and enemies of Siena.”

  Translated in Edmund G. Gardiner’s _The Story of Siena_, p. 178, from
  the Anonymous contemporary chronicler published by A. Lisini in
  _Notizie di Duccio_.


  “Master Pietro, son of the late Lorenzetto, who was of Siena, solemnly
  and willingly promises and agrees with the venerable Father Guido, by
  God’s grace Bishop of Arezzo, who stipulates in the name and stead of
  the people of St. Mary of Arezzo—to paint a panel of the Blessed
  Virgin Mary, ... in the centre of which panel shall be a likeness of
  the Virgin Mary with her Son and with four side figures according to
  the wish of the aforesaid Lord Bishop, working in the backgrounds of
  these figures with finest gold leaf, 100 leaves to a florin, ... and
  the other ornaments of silver and of best and choicest colors; and
  using in these five figures best ultramarine blue; and in the other
  adjoining and surrounding spaces (panels) of this picture to be
  painted likenesses of prophets and saints, according to the wish of
  this Lord Bishop, with good and choice colors.”

  “It must be six braccia long and five braccia high in the middle,
  apart from two columns each a half braccia wide, and in each should be
  six figures worked with the aforesaid gold, and the work shall be
  approved by this Lord Bishop....”

  “And he [Pietro Lorenzetti] must begin this work according to the wish
  of this Lord Bishop, immediately after the wooden panel shall have
  been made, and must continue in this work until the completion of this
  picture, not undertaking any other work &c. And therefore the said
  Lord Bishop Guido promises to have given and assigned to him the panel
  made of wood; and to pay him for his wages for the picture and for
  colors, gold and silver one hundred and sixty Pisan lire; that is the
  third part at the beginning of the work, the third part at the middle
  of the work, and the remaining third part when the work is finished
  and complete &c.”

  “Done in the church of the Holy Angels in Arcalto outside of and next
  to the cemetery.”

  Translated and slightly abridged from Borghesi and Banchi, _Nuovi
  Documenti per la Storia dell’ Arte Senese_, (Doc. 6, p. 10) Siena,

  This contract well illustrates the elaborateness and strictness of
  such agreements. It may be compared with the picture itself (Fig. 46).
  Apparently the artist persuaded the Bishop to give up the plan of
  twelve prophets and saints on two side pilasters, and made instead a
  greater number (15) of figures in the upper arcade and pinnacles.


  FIG. 70. Andrea del Castagno. David, Slayer of Goliath. Parade
    Shield.—_Widener Coll., Elkins Park, Pa._

                              CHAPTER III
                      MASACCIO AND THE NEW REALISM

  Ghiberti, Brunellesco, and Donatello about 1400 begin to study Nature
      and the Antique—The new secular spirit—Discontent with the old
      pictorial style expressed in reaction by Lorenzo Monaco—in
      cautious reform by Fra Angelico—and Masolino—in revolutionary
      reform by Masaccio—The Cassoni painters as illustrators of
      contemporary manners—Masaccio and the new structure in light and
      shade—The Problem of the Brancacci Frescoes—Masaccio’s enduring
      influence—The early Florentine Realists—Paolo Uccello and
      Perspective—Andrea del Castagno and Anatomy—Domenico Veneziano and
      Oil Painting—Alesso Baldovinetti.

In the two earlier chapters we have considered what Giorgio Vasari calls
the vigorous childhood of Italian painting. We are now to observe its
splendid youth. The story appropriately begins with three young men and
the year 1401 and with a baby, later nicknamed Masaccio, who was born
that same year. The three young Florentines represent the new
time-spirit. The lucky one, Lorenzo Ghiberti, has just won a competition
for the new bronze doors of the Baptistery, and has in that one
commission more than twenty years of happy work ahead. Ghiberti is
sensitive and thoughtful beyond the wont of the older craftsmen artists.
He writes of an antique statue: “It has sweetness of modelling which
cannot be caught either in a strong or a dim light, only the hand and
touch can find it.” Ghiberti is a critic and analyst as well as a
creator. In his “Commentaries,” a product of his old age, he writes:
“Thus I have always sought for first principles, as to how nature works
in herself, and how I may approach her, how the eye knows the varieties
of things, how our visual power works, how visual images come about, and
in what manner the theory of sculpture and painting should be framed.”
This is the mood of the Renaissance in its most serious aspect.

This student mood was fully shared by two young friends of Ghiberti.
Donatello, the sculptor, and Brunellesco, later the designer of the dome
of the Cathedral at Florence, had lost in the competition for the
Baptistery doors. They accepted defeat magnanimously, joined forces and
went to Rome, where their persistent way of poking among the ruins got
them the name of the treasure seekers. Such indeed they were, but the
treasure they sought was not gold, but the secrets of the ancient
sculptors and architects. So Donatello refined and perfected the rugged
realism he had from nature. As early as 1416 he was to carve the alert
and noble St. George for Or San Michele. Brunellesco’s life dream was
that lightest and loveliest of domes which is still the architectural
crown of Florence, and almost incidentally he threw off designs that
filled Florence with elegant colonnades and churches which renewed the
dignity and joyousness of the best Roman building. A resolute spirit,
Brunellesco once tramped the sixty miles from Florence to Cortona to see
a newly excavated statue. Not incidentally, then, but by hardest study,
Brunellesco worked out a correct practice of linear perspective. This
needed resource for the painter was now available when any one had the
sense to ask for it, and all the time young Masaccio was growing up in
San Giovanni up the Arno.

Such is the immediate background for the forward move in painting which
begins in 1422, or thereabouts, and runs through fifty years of eager
experimentation. As in the first revival the sculptors and architects
had shown the way to the painters, so it was again. But there is also a
remoter social and commercial background for the Early Renaissance which
we must consider briefly. The great plague of 1348 cuts Florentine
history sharply in two. It marked an acceleration of gayety and
worldliness, of sports and pageantry. The chronicler Matteo Villani[28]
noted with amazement that the plague had caused not repentance but
dissipation. He was shocked to see the old toga-like costume of the
Florentines give place to the bobtailed jerkins and parti-colored hose
borrowed from wicked France. Heritages were many and heirs few. You saw
the gowns of gentle and noble ladies on backs of hussies or worse—the
new wives. People ran to “the sin of gluttony, to feasts and taverns,
delicate viands and games.” As for the poor folk, they no longer wished
to work at their trades, they expected the costliest food, they married
“_ad libitum_.” So began that loosening up of the old bourgeois morals
which culminated in the carnivals of the end of the fifteenth century
and in the libertine muse of Lorenzo the Magnificent. All this meant an
inspiring spectacle for the artist to record, and plenty of lavish
patronage, but also it meant a disintegrating tendency for art. Painting
is great in Florence in the measure that it escapes the mere
expansiveness of the times and seeks discipline. As if to assert the
permanency of the spirit of discipline, the very year that set Matteo
Villani in despair, 1348, gave him also a chapter on the founding of the
Studio, a school of higher learning which eventually became the
University of Florence. And the course of art for most of the fifteenth
century was to be a constant interplay and rivalry between the Florence
of the tavern and race-course and the Florence of the Studio, with a
final victory for the latter.

Oddly enough, the new luxury and gayety and the new scholarship
conspired to make the old painting inadequate. The panoramic style of
the fourteenth century was too simple and unornate for the Frenchified
Florentines; for the new generation of strenuous artists, it was too
slight and unskilful. All the finer spirits at the beginning of the
fifteenth century are malcontents. Their unrest expressed itself,
according to temperament, in progress or reaction. The dominating artist
of the moment was a reactionary, Don Lorenzo Monaco,[29] Camaldolese
monk. Turning from the superficiality of the current Florentine style,
he sought his corrective at Siena, his birthplace, in the decorative
exquisiteness of Simone Martini and the narrative warmth and breadth of
the Lorenzetti; and he imports these qualities into Florence in an art
as aristocratic and retrospective as that of our own Pre-Raphaelites. In
his hands Gothic painting takes a new and unwarranted lease of life. He
is a brilliant colorist, a fastidious designer, an austere spirit. Even
his great Sienese exemplars have hardly surpassed his masterpiece, the
Coronation of the Virgin, in the Uffizi. It is dated 1413. In the
richness of the Gothic frame, the profusion of small incidental figures,
the festooning curves of the swaying saints and angels, and formal
symmetry of arrangement, it well represents the most florid type of
Gothic painting as developed at Siena. It is hard to realize that this
lovely mediæval work was painted at the moment when Brunellesco and his
friends were already turning sharply to nature and to the vision of
Hellas. But Lorenzo was a cloistered man, and appropriately a votary of
past perfections. His devout mood is best expressed in the gracious
Annunciation, Figure 71, which has happily never left its original altar
in the Church of the Trinità. Here Lorenzo follows the Lorenzettian
canons of space. A girlish delicacy in the obedient Virgin is a new
note, to be echoed more sweetly by Lorenzo’s best follower, Fra
Angelico. Lorenzo died in 1425. Masaccio had already created the new
style of painting, but for a couple of decades faithful disciples of Don
Lorenzo carried on his style.

A lover of Plutarchian parallels and contrasts would swiftly pass from
Don Lorenzo Monaco to Masaccio. But one may better understand the new
movement by taking first men who gradually and normally accepted the new
knowledge. Such are Fra Angelico and Masolino, who began as Gothic
painters and ended as Renaissance masters. They show us better the
average drift of the times than does so revolutionary a figure as


  FIG. 71. Lorenzo Monaco, Annunciation.—_Trinità._


  FIG. 72. Fra Angelico. Annunciation and Adoration of the Magi.—_Museum
    of S. Marco._


  FIG. 73. Fra Angelico. Coronation of the Virgin.—_Louvre._

Fra Angelico[30] was born in 1387 and at twenty entered the religious
state as a Dominican at Fiesole. How soon Fra Giovanni, not yet
nicknamed Angelico, became a painter we hardly know. But four little
pictures designed to inclose in their frames relics of the saints may
represent his beginnings. Three are at San Marco, Florence, one in Mrs.
John L. Gardner’s collection at Boston. The Little Annunciation with an
Adoration of the Magi, Figure 72, may represent the work. It is refined,
tender, of jewel-like freshness of color, graceful in linear
arrangement, at first sight wholly Sienese in inspiration, and directly
dependent on Lorenzo Monaco. A kind of veracity under the richness of
the expression marks the work as after all straightforward and
Florentine. The date may be about 1425, Fra Angelico, being in his
middle thirties, and in his art about a century behind the times. In his
early Gothic manner he conceived some of his masterpieces, such as the
Coronation of the Virgin, with its glimpse of a celestial cloud land;
and the whimsically beautiful Last Judgment. Both are at the Museum of
San Marco. One can believe the report of Vasari that each day Fra
Angelico prayed before touching brush to such masterpieces. Such
pictures have the hush and charm of a celestial dreamland, a meditative
beauty quite un-Florentine.


  FIG. 74. Fra Angelico. Madonna dei Linaiuoli. Originally an outdoor
    tabernacle.—_Museum of S. Marco._

All the time Fra Angelico was placidly and intelligently studying the
new realistic movement launched by Donatello and Masaccio. He adopts
what suits him, rejecting heavy shadows which would dull his Gothic
coloring, but adding freely realistic details in anatomy, drapery, and
architecture. The Coronation of the Virgin in the Louvre, Figure 73,
though it may be only a few months later than that of the Uffizi, no
longer takes place in a cloudland before lucent gold, but in a quite
practicable architecture imitating the niche which Michelozzo designed
in 1423 for Donatello’s St. Louis of Toulouse. The forms too are more
substantial, more mundane. Soon the architectural accessories become of
Renaissance type, and as Mr. Langton Douglas has shown, every new
invention of Michelozzo for a space of ten years is promptly reflected
in the painting of Fra Angelico. His greatest Madonna, that of the Linen
Guild, Figure 74, painted in 1433, is almost plastic, recalling the
severe sweetness of Orcagna. The picture is really cumbered by the rich
hangings, which with the slender swaying angels in the bevel of the
frame are already an anachronism. In the Descent from the Cross, Figure
75, we find Fra Angelico skilfully adopting the new discoveries in
anatomy and landscape. The treatment is broad and panoramic in the
tradition of the Lorenzetti but all the details are carefully studied
from nature and not furnished by formula. A deeply felt scene thus gains
verisimilitude, comes out of the realm of legend and becomes an
actuality. The panel was finished in 1440, and, now that Masaccio was
gone, there was no living painter who could have put into it with equal
knowledge so much feeling.


  FIG. 75. Fra Angelico. Deposition.—_Uffizi._

The building of the great Dominican Convent of San Marco between 1437
and 1444 opened to Fra Angelico his great opportunity. It was the gift
of Cosimo de’ Medici, now unofficial ruler of Florence, who had his good
reasons for wishing to assure the occasional repose of his busy soul in
this world and its permanent repose in the next. He often sought
seclusion in the convent and doubtless saw in progress the fifty or more
frescoes that Fra Angelico made to adorn it. Fra Angelico was painting
for deeply religious men, for scholars who had the Scriptures at their
finger tips, and for this reason perhaps he rejects all smaller
realisms, reducing his compositions to the mere figures. Thus the San
Marco frescoes are more concise even than those of Giotto, and they
reach at their best a simple sublimity as yet unattained in Italian art.
Highly formal and decorative, they are free from consciously æsthetic
taint. Sometimes I think Perugino learned much at San Marco and that we
may thus regard Fra Angelico as indirectly a leading influence on
Raphael. The sparse, effective method may be illustrated in the fresco
set over the door of the guest quarters, the _Forestiera_. It represents
a pilgrim Christ being received by Dominican brothers. Figure 76. In the
stranger we entertain The Lord Himself is the simple lesson. The figures
are set against a conventional blue background but are constructed with
the authority of the new learning.


  FIG. 76. Fra Angelico. Dominicans receive Christ as Pilgrim. Guest
    house door.—_S. Marco._

In the Chapter House nearby Fra Angelico painted, about 1440, a great
Crucifixion, Figure 77. The three laden crosses stand out sharply
against a murky sky. The setting is a mere platform, on which the
familiar forms of Mary and the beloved Apostles are almost lost in a
throng of witnesses of every age. We have the Latin Fathers, and their
successors—St. Dominic and St. Francis, among others. The arrangement is
highly formal, the mood that of meditation; the sharper tragedy of the
theme is not insisted on. The characterization of the saints is precise
and fine, the drawing of their forms admirable. Had the composition been
set against a Gothic, blue background, the mood would have seemed merely
sentimental. What gives it, with all its abstractness, an almost
sensational tang of reality is the arching sky, slaty above and an
ominous orange behind the figures. The expedient brings an element of
definite place and time of day for this rendezvous of saints at a
mystically renewed Calvary.


  FIG. 77. Fra Angelico. Mystical Crucification. Chapter House.—_S.

In the cells of the convent, Fra Angelico and his helpers painted no
less than forty-three frescoes. These were intended for the private
devotions of the brother occupying the cell, and the subjects were
probably chosen not by Fra Angelico himself, but by his cloister mates.
The best are conceived like the frescoes of the lower story. The
background is just a veiled sky, there are no accessories, the figures
loom in an indefinite space. Majestic is the Transfiguration, Figure 78,
very lovely the Coronation of the Virgin. The angelic painter draws the
maximum effect from the simplest patterns and briefest means. There is
the measured and simple dignity of the early Christian mosaics with a
warmer and more personal feeling. Fra Angelico, when he wishes, can be
elaborately realistic. He is so in the garden scene where the Risen
Christ gently rebuffs the Magdalen, in the crowded Adoration of the
Magi, which tradition assigns to Cosimo de’ Medici’s cell, and in the
Annunciation, Figure 79, in the corridor with its graceful Renaissance
_loggia_. In this more circumstantial vein, Fra Angelico is delightful,
but I think below his best. In all the frescoes at S. Marco, however,
Fra Angelico appears as a wholly Florentine figure with an art based at
once on the study of nature and on an understanding admiration for the
masterpieces of Giotto and Orcagna.


  FIG. 78. Fra Angelico. Transfiguration, fresco in a cell at _S.

Something of his mediævalism, of his Sienese manner, persists in the
numerous little predella panels, such as those telling delightfully the
story of the doctor saints, Cosmo and Damian, and the series with the
life of Christ which adorned the doors of the plate lockers of the
Church of S. Marco. With their fully developed pictorialism, their
careful regard for the minor realisms of setting, these little pictures
are the prelude to his last phase at Rome. They are also the last
Florentine pictures that observe those traditional iconographical forms
which had persisted for four centuries.


  FIG. 79. Fra Angelico. Annunciation. Fresco.—_San Marco._

Fra Angelico ever refused to make money or accept promotion, but became
despite himself a celebrity. In 1445 he was ordered to Rome by Pope
Eugenius IV. The frescoes which Fra Angelico then made in the Vatican
are lost. There was an escape to Orvieto, where Fra Angelico painted
half the vault of the Chapel of S. Brixio, which Signorelli was later to
complete. Fra Angelico was peremptorily recalled to Rome in 1447 by the
new Pope, Nicholas V, who was planning a new chapel in the Vatican. We
see it today still radiant with the legends of St. Stephen and St.
Lawrence that Fra Angelico thoughtfully composed more than four hundred
years ago. Modern critics have generally agreed in finding Fra
Angelico’s masterpieces in this chapel. If they mean his fullest display
of knowledge, the opinion is incontestible. Nowhere else has Fra
Angelico invented such complications of architecture, interiors, street
perspectives; nowhere has he drawn better figures in greater variety.
Such frescoes as the lunette with St. Stephen defending himself before
the Jewish doctors and preaching to the people, Figure 80, or that
depicting St. Lawrence giving alms to cripples and poor folk before a
basilica, are learned and rich. But does not their very richness obscure
both the decorative and emotional appeal? Personally I tend to lose the
figures in the complexity of the setting. Any of Fra Angelico’s little
predellas tells its story more feelingly and clearly, and no less ably.
Under the pressure of competition at Rome, Fra Angelico for the first
time is ostentatious. To please the Pope he revives in more specious
form the trivialities of the old panoramic style. Had he grasped
Masaccio’s invention of aerial perspective and construction in light and
dark, Fra Angelico might have carried off his elaborate settings
successfully. As it is, they confuse the eye by too many linear
elements, and only mildly delight the mind. Even the sensitive mood of
legend, which is noteworthy in these frescoes, is better represented in
the smaller panels. In fairness of Gothic fresco coloring, however, they
are unsurpassed.


  FIG. 80. Fra Angelico. St. Stephen Preaching, the Saint before the
    Council. Fresco.—_Chapel of Nicholas V., Vatican._


  FIG. 81. Masolino. Annunciation.—_Henry Goldman, Esq. New York._

From the point of view of tendency, these frescoes are profoundly
instructive. They show the irresistible drift towards the formation of a
new panoramic style, a drift that even Fra Angelico, cloistered saint
and exquisite self-critic, was unable to escape. In spite of his record
and better knowledge, he becomes an inaugurator of that picturesque,
undisciplined, and decentralized manner of narrative which was to be
represented by Ghirlandaio, Botticelli, and their contemporaries.

In his later years Fra Angelico declined the archbishopric of Florence
and died at Rome in 1455. The tombstone which shows the emaciation of
his perishable form is in the Roman Church of the Minerva; his
imperishable monument is his frescoed convent home of S. Marco at

Of the traditional artists Fra Angelico is by far the most important,
but his contemporary Masolino of Panicale must be considered, partly
because tradition makes him the master of Masaccio, partly because of
the problems which cluster about his work. The picture which is here
drawn of him represents my own investigations, and differs at several
points from the views of Berenson and Toesca. If we judge Masolino only
by the work that is unquestionably his, he is not an impressive figure.
He inherits the grace of the late Gothic style, and he adds rather
partially and inconsequentially the new discoveries in anatomy and
linear perspective. Chance took him away from the centre of things,
Florence. He worked mostly in Lombardy, distant Hungary, provincial
Tuscany, and Rome. He has industry and charm, but nowhere shows much
intelligence. On the whole he is a poorer story-teller than his Gothic
predecessors, and only their fair equal in panel painting. Had Vasari
not ascribed to him, I believe erroneously, the early miracles of St.
Peter in the Church of The Carmine, at Florence, the general historian
of art would need to pay little attention to Masolino. But he has been
entangled in one of the most important of artistic problems, that of
Masaccio, so we cannot ignore him.

Masolino[31] was born in 1384, and, according to Vasari, was trained by
the mysterious Starnina. We have no very early works to show his
progress, and it is merely a good guess that the radiant Annunciation,
Figure 81, in the possession of Mr. Henry Goldman, New York, may be
considerably earlier than 1420. It shows the gentleness and animation
which are constant in Masolino. It combines the Sienese calligraphic
manner with those smaller realisms of inscenation which ultimately
derive from Duccio. It has coloristic audacities of its own in the
spotting of brightest vermillion. It gives small hint of the
Renaissance. At a later date than 1420, by which time ordinary
perspective began to be understood, I doubt if Masolino would have
indulged in that preposterous and unnecessary central pillar which
starts above in middle distance and ends below in the picture plane. A
Madonna at Bremen, dated 1423, shows him still as Gothic as Lorenzo
Monaco, who indeed seems to have influenced him dominatingly.

In this same year, it is likely that he painted the frescoes in the
Collegiate Church at Castiglione d’Olona, a lovely village at the foot
of the Alps. Masolino had to deal with refractory spaces, the narrow
triangular sectors of the apse. This has caused elongation of the
figures and piling up of fantastic architecture merely to fill the
spaces. The mood is gentle and graceful, the treatment quite Gothic.
These six stories of the Virgin must have satisfied Masolino’s humanist
patron, Cardinal Branda Castiglione; for several years later he
re-employed the painter to decorate the adjoining Baptistery. Masolino
at forty, in the Collegiate Church, was still completely Gothic. If we
may believe Vasari, at that age he suddenly mastered the new style. Only
on such a theory can he have painted the Adam and Eve and the St. Peter
reviving Tabitha, in the Brancacci Chapel, which are in the new
chiaroscuro technic. Since Masolino, years after the time when he was
working in that chapel, is still incompletely modern as regards light
and shade, it is easier to suppose that what he actually painted in the
Brancacci Chapel, about 1424, was merely the vault and the three
lunettes, which have since been destroyed. Thus all the frescoes now
visible in this famous chapel would be by Masaccio or his continuer,
Filippino Lippi. Such was the view of the excellent critic Cavalcaselle
more than fifty years ago. However that be, Masolino by 1427 was at Buda
(now Budapest), where he worked for that extraordinary Florentine exile
and soldier of fortune, Pippo Spano. After that trip, we hear no more of
Masolino at Florence—rather oddly, since the Brancacci Chapel, which he
had begun, still had three unpictured spaces after Masaccio’s death in
1428. Apparently the Brancacci family did not consider Masolino
competent to complete the work he had begun. If so, they were wise.


  FIG. 82. Masolino. Baptism of Christ, detail of fresco.—_Baptistery,
    Castiglione d’Olona._

We next find Masolino, after an interval of more than ten years,
decorating the Baptistery at Castiglione d’Olona for his old patron,
Cardinal Branda. The date is 1435. By this time Masolino had learned a
good deal, but had hardly assimilated his new attainments. Whether as
decoration or as story-telling, the stories of St. John the Baptist are
at once confused and pretentious, with little to recommend them save the
loveliness of their Gothic color, the prettiness of the heads, and
certain vivacious and well-observed gestures. In the great fresco of the
Baptism of Christ, Figure 82, the incidental nudes are so carefully
anatomized that they distract from the general effect, while the deep
river valley unhappily draws the eye away from the figures in the
foreground. A similarly pictorially inept use of foreshortened
Renaissance colonnades appears in the opposite fresco depicting the
Feast of Herod and the delivery of the head of St. John to Herodias. If
it were not for the physical discomfort of travelling to the end of
those interminable colonnades and returning to note what is happening
nearby in them, these stories themselves would seem vivacious and
well-conceived, the female heads attractive, the color gay and pleasing.
The method of composition is still Lorenzettian and the modern
architectural features inorganic.


  FIG. 83. Masolino. St. Catherine disputing with the Pagan Doctors.
    Fresco.—_S. Clemente, Rome._

A few years later Masolino was swept to Rome by the great wave of
rebuilding and redecorating which accompanied Pope Martin V’s return
from Avignon. There in the Chapel of the Sacrament, in the venerable
Basilica of S. Clemente, which had formerly been Cardinal Branda’s
titular Church, Masolino achieved his maturest work. Completely
repainted, we may still see the legends of St. Catherine, and a finely
theatrical Calvary by Masolino, and as well legends of St. Ambrose by a
follower of Masaccio. Here Masolino’s gift as a story-teller is at its
best. He has learned to subordinate his accessories, and the childlike
character of his themes enlists his talent in its most engaging aspect.
Such a fresco as St. Catherine urging the mysteries of the faith before
the Roman doctors, Figure 83, is well-felt and skilfully composed, and
withal most flimsily drawn. It is incredible that a man who could do the
Tabitha in the Brancacci Chapel at forty should have relapsed to this
level at fifty-five. The evidence of the armor[32] worn by the horsemen
in the Calvary proves that that fresco, and presumably the entire
decoration of the chapel, cannot be earlier than 1440, while of course
it cannot be later than Masolino’s own death in 1447.

To this later period belongs, I believe, the diptych at Naples which
represents two themes rare in early Florentine painting, the Assumption
of the Virgin, and the Miracle of the Snow, Figure 84. The latter scene
shows Pope Liberius tracing the foundations of the Basilica of Santa
Maria Maggiore which were indicated by a miraculous snow-fall in
midsummer. It is delightful as story-telling, and some of the minor
figures are entrancing, as is the landscape. Since Michelangelo and
Giorgio Vasari once admired this picture together at Rome, we should not
grudge it our admiration. Nor should we fail to note the curious defects
in construction. The heads of the attendant figures are set on the
shoulders like a ball on a post. You could blow any of these heads off
without overtaxing your lungs. The picture shows the utmost of which
Masolino was capable. It reveals him as lightly touched by the new
learning and faithful to the old panoramic ideals of narrative which had
come down from Taddeo Gaddi and the Lorenzetti.


  FIG. 84. Masolino. Pope Liberius tracing the snow-marked plan of Santa
    Maria Maggiore.—_Naples._

Logically we should next consider Masaccio, but first we may well give
an eye to a minor sort of narrative painting which worked in the
direction of contemporary realism. This was domestic painting as
distinguished from ecclesiastical or civic.[33] In a prosperous
Florentine home the chest was the most important article of furniture.
In the fifteenth century its front was pictured with races, pageants,
feasts, battles, or the new themes from classical mythology. Every
patrician bride normally received two such painted cassoni to contain
her trousseau. For example,[34] Giovanna di Filippo Aldobrandini when
she married Tommaso di Berto Fini, in 1418, received two bride chests
depicting the races on St. John’s day. A complete chest in the Bargello,
Florence, shows the riders carrying to the Baptistery the _palii_, or
lengths of brocade which were the prizes. The front panel of the
companion chest is in the Holden Collection, at Cleveland, and
commemorates with extraordinary vivacity and fidelity the race itself,
Figure 85. The winner is just preparing to touch the _palio_ which hangs
from the ceremonial car at the finish. Jesters, policemen, eager women,
and impatient urchins who pelt the losers make up a remarkable picture
of contemporary customs. Besides the pictured chests, a well appointed
room had at the height of a sitter’s shoulder similar but larger panels
which were called _Spalliere_. And still higher there was, on a still
larger scale, what were called cornice panels. These too were
contemporary or mythological in subject matter. Where many a room thus
had three courses of pictures from the floor to the ceiling there was
abundant opportunity for the narrative painter and remarkable stimulus
to invention. The richness and complexity of this household decoration
doubtless influenced all narrative painting, making for the
sprightliness which dominates the end of the century.


  FIG. 85. School of Uccello. A Horse Race. Detail from a _Cassone_
    Front.—_Cleveland, O._


  FIG. 86. Masaccio. Birth of St. John Baptist.—_Desco da Parto.

Besides these chest and wall panels, pictured salvers were prepared to
celebrate the birth of a patrician child. Such wooden salvers were used
to convey the congratulatory gifts which were offered with appalling
promptness to every young mother. These _Deschi da parto_, or birth
plates, as the Italians called them, bore pictures alluding either to
love and beauty or to childbirth. One of the earlier mythological
salvers is in the Bargello and represents the Judgment of Paris. As yet
the artist is not sufficiently audacious to display the goddesses in
classical nudity. The most famous of all birth-plates may serve as our
introduction to the greatest artist of the first half of the century,
Masaccio. It is in the Berlin Museum, the subject is the Birth of St.
John the Baptist, Figure 86, and the date should be about 1422. In the
excellent proportions of the Renaissance portico, in the gravity and
mass of the figures, it shows the beginnings of a new and more truthful
style, based not on previous artistic formulas but on direct and
masterful observation of nature. Mr. Berenson justly calls it “a little
giant of a picture.”

Masaccio[35] was born December 21, 1401, at San Giovanni up the Arno.
His real name was Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Tommaso Guidi. And the
slightly slurring character of his nickname was apparently given for
absent-mindedness, untidiness, and a certain clumsiness of person.
Tradition as late as Vasari declared that Masaccio lived in a world of
intense speculation concerning his art. Contemporary tax-returns show
that he died deeply in debt and that he never really knew how much he
owed. Tradition again insists that he never troubled to collect payments
due him unless his need of money were extreme.

All the same he was one of the most original minds of all ages, and on
the formal side, one of the most revolutionary. He came to Florence
early, probably learned his elements under Masolino, but really drew
more from the sculptor naturalists of Donatello’s sort. In particular he
frequented the surly architect Brunellesco and from him learned the new
art of perspective. January 7, 1422, being twenty-one years old,
Masaccio was matriculated in the Druggists’ Guild as a licensed painter.
By this time he surely had made his great discovery and taken his great
decision. Reviewing the painting of his contemporaries and predecessors,
he judged that it was all based on unnatural conventions. We can imagine
him in the Spanish Chapel viewing the carefully charted and contoured
and colored groups, and saying impatiently “things don’t look like
that.” And in truth the older painting at its best was a select
inventory or formal description of what the artist saw, and not a
representation. One can imagine Masaccio exclaiming, as Francisco Goya
was to do more than three centuries later, “Lines, always lines, I don’t
see them in nature.” And, as a matter of fact, there are no lines in
nature, just the meeting of areas variously colored and lighted,
contrasts of tone which the eye instantaneously interprets as form.

Young Masaccio, then, makes the radical innovation that the brush should
work according to nature’s laws, distributing color and light and dark
so as to give the swiftest and truest representation of mass and
distance. Besides functional light and shade, Masaccio introduced into
painting the idea of aerial perspective. He saw that distant objects
diminished not merely in size but also in definition. He felt the air as
a palpable veil between the object and the eye, and he painted not
simply the object but, as well, its veil. By a swift impulse of sheer
genius this moody lad fixed ideals of naturalistic painting which were
to remain until yesterday and the Impressionists. In fundamental
principles Velasquez marks no great advance on Masaccio.

It is only in fresco painting that Masaccio fully reveals his powers. So
passing with mere mention such panels as The Healing of a Demoniac, in
the John G. Johnson Collection, Philadelphia, the widely scattered parts
of the altar-piece for the Carmelites at Pisa, dated 1426, and the grim
Madonna with St. Ann in the Uffizi, the student will best turn directly
to the Carmelite Church at Florence and enter that sanctuary of art, the
Chapel of the Brancacci. The Church itself was dedicated April 19, 1422.
Shortly after that date, young Masaccio did in fresco the dedicatory
procession with many portraits. Its realism produced a profound
impression. Nevertheless it was heedlessly destroyed after a century or
so. By 1424, according to all probability, Masaccio was associated with
Masolino in the decoration of the Brancacci Chapel. It was dedicated to
St. Peter, and the prescribed subjects were drawn from the “Acts of the
Apostles” and “The Golden Legend.” The vaults which contained the four
evangelists and the three lunettes, which depicted The Calling of Peter
and Andrew, the Tempest-tossed Ship of the Apostles on Galilee, and
Peter denying his Lord, were by Masolino. Unhappily these upper frescoes
have been destroyed. The Chapel now has only two rows of frescoes in
twelve pictures. Of these three and a part of a fourth, all in the lower
row, are certainly by Filippino Lippi, who about 1484 completed the
chapel, probably with the aid of Masaccio’s designs. Three in the upper
row, are ascribed by many critics to Masolino. According to this view,
which is largely based on the opinion of Vasari, Masaccio would be
responsible for only five pictures and most of a sixth. Other critics,
whose views I share, believe that Masaccio painted eight of the pictures
and most of a ninth. The difference of opinion, then, concerns three
pictures which many think unworthy of Masaccio’s genius. The problem
cannot be fully debated here. The grounds of my opinion, which was that
of the great Italian critic Cavalcaselle, will appear as we review the
frescoes themselves.

In general color effect these frescoes are strangely unlike their Gothic
predecessors. They have nothing of the flower-bed gayety of the Spanish
Chapel, of Lorenzo Monaco, or of Masolino elsewhere. The effect is of a
very rich smokiness, a kind of monochrome from which only subdued colors
emerge. Yellow-browns and silvery grays predominate. There are no hard
contours. The relief is salient, but one form blends insensibly into
another. The edges of the figures are established not by lines but by
contrast of values, the contour is often completely lost. The strong
assertion of light and dark in a few structural planes builds out the
forms from an investing shadow. Indeed the whole chapel recalls not the
Gothic fresco painters, but such far later artists as Velasquez,
Rembrandt, or even Whistler. The method of the painter, whoever he was,
is completely modern, and uniform throughout the chapel. He sacrifices
minute definition to generalizations for mass; and color, to emphatic
construction in light and shade. To obtain relief in the figures and
distance in the backgrounds is the main concern. It is in intention a
luminist art and a modelling art. The procedure is nearly uniform
throughout the Brancacci Chapel, though it grows abler from fresco to
fresco. It is a method that Masolino never commanded, not at Castiglione
d’Olona ten years later, nor still ten years later at San Clemente,
Rome. Hence I can only believe that the admitted inequalities in the
Brancacci Chapel merely represent the swift development of Masaccio’s
genius, and certain interruptions in the work itself.

The first fresco, in the nave alongside, the entrance of the chapel,
depicts our first parents at the moment of the Temptation in the Garden
of Eden, Figure 87. It is stilted and awkward, yet withal dignified. The
theme, which indeed has seldom been a happy one for any artist, has not
greatly interested the painter. He has made it an occasion for studying
the nude. We have what the modern student calls an academy. As such, it
is able. The construction is highly simplified and is wholly in masses
of light and dark, the contour is freely effaced. The mystery of
background foliage is well suggested, the placing of the head of the
serpent between the tree and the figures is a perfect example of the new
art of aerial perspective. No painter but Masaccio had even the notion
of such an effect at this moment. Technically the handling of this
detail is just the same as that of the vastly more beautiful angel in
the Expulsion from Eden, Figure 91. Finally, the impassive mask of the
Eve is identical with that of the Virgin, in Masaccio’s panel in the
Uffizi. We presumably have to do with an experimental phase of Masaccio
about the year 1423–5. About that time Masolino probably was called to
Buda to work for the extraordinary Florentine soldier of fortune,
Filippo Scolari, better known by his nickname of Pippo Spano. If Vasari
is right, Masaccio had been required to prove his ability to continue
the work by painting a St. Paul near the bell-cord of the Church, in
competition with a St. Jerome by Masolino. Both are lost.


  FIG. 87. Masaccio. The Temptation.—_Brancacci Chapel._


  FIG. 91. Masaccio. The Expulsion.—_Brancacci Chapel._


  FIG. 88. Masaccio. St. Peter raising Tabitha and healing the
    Cripple.—_Brancacci Chapel._

However that be, Masaccio probably succeeded to the work in 1425, his
twenty-fourth year, and the next fresco after the Adam and Eve may well
have been the adjoining subjects of Peter raising Tabitha from the Dead
and healing a Cripple, Figure 88. As a whole the composition is somewhat
marred by inadvertences and afterthoughts. It shows the influence of
Masolino in the trite and conventional gestures of the mourners about
the bier, and in certain strained facial expressions, notably that of
the turbaned bystander. Such survivals are precisely what one would
expect in a young painter just emancipated from his master. The entirely
Masolino-like pair of strollers in the centre seem to be due to an
afterthought. The first intention is registered in the unnaturally
straight back of St. Peter’s companion, in the centre. The fresco was
apparently to have been cut into two compartments by a pilaster at that
point.[36] When the plan was abandoned in favor of putting two episodes
in one space, the two unrelated figures had to be added to fill space
and provide a transition. One is a little ashamed of pointing out small
defects in what in all essentials is a noble and impassioned work.
Technically there is nothing better in the Chapel than the establishing
of the city background. It has scale, admirable atmospheric placing,
dignity and pictorial significance. How anybody who knows Masolino’s
niggling and haphazard treatment of such architectural features at
Castiglione d’Olona can imagine that he had earlier created this
grandiose setting remains a mystery to me. Even more remarkable are the
gravity and grandeur of the Peter and the Tabitha. Here we are reminded
of Giotto. Masaccio must often have pored over the Stories of St. John
in Santa Croce, and while he by no means adopted Giotto’s shorthand
indications for mass, he did adopt Giotto’s sense for classic dignity,
beautifully calculated order, and moderation. As we continue through
these remarkable frescoes we shall see continually that the quite
ruthless innovator that was Masaccio was also a reverent traditionalist.
The particular form of his art was settled between nature and himself,
as Leonardo da Vinci later justly observed; the spirit of his art
derived mostly from Giotto. It was highly important for the whole
ongoing of art in Italy that so revolutionary a spirit was tempered by
the finest respect for the great classic tradition. And in this great
fresco of St. Peter’s miracles one may see how a quite homely and
drastic realism can be invested with abstract power and dignity. How
different it all is from the small and often charming vivacity which
Masolino displays at Castiglione d’Olona and at Rome.

Like the Temptation, the Tabitha is more linear and colorful than the
other frescoes of the Chapel. The painter has not quite mastered the
radically new method of construction in light and shade. Thus there is a
technical break between the Tabitha and the frescoes on the back wall,
which are in a more developed manner. We may assume an interruption in
the work. Indeed we need not assume it, for records prove that for most
of the year 1426 Masaccio was occupied with the great altar-piece for
the Carmelites at Pisa. On October 15, 1426, Masaccio solemnly engaged
not to do any other work until the altar-piece should be finished. We
may believe then that the work in the Brancacci Chapel was taken up anew
towards 1427.

The four frescoes on the back wall, which are divided into two groups by
the window, are the first of the new work. Of these the most remarkable
is St. Peter Baptizing, Figure 89. The drawing is magnificent. Light and
dark, without aid of the line, create so many bosses and pits which not
merely establish form but suggest the gravest emotions. A few well
chosen and well placed figures give the sense of a multitude. Mountains
tower in gigantic scale, one feels the run of the little river from its
distant source amid high ravines. The simplest modulations of light and
dark, so many sweeps of a broad brush, establish the constructional
planes of the figures and the mountains. All the early Italian writers
mark with wondering admiration the expressiveness of the shivering man
waiting his turn at the left. It is the smallest merit of the picture.
Masaccio in this great composition commands a homely and impressive
majesty, and therein shows himself true successor of Giotto, but he also
reveals a power of synthesis entirely modern and hardly excelled since
his day. One has only to turn to Masolino’s Baptism at Castiglione
d’Olona, Figure 82, with its niggling insistence on details, to
appreciate the gulf between the master and the pupil.

Across the window from Masaccio’s Baptism is St. Peter Preaching. The
same towering, mountain background is used. The somewhat linear
treatment of the faces has led Mr. Berenson, with other critics, to
ascribe this fresco to Masolino. It seems to me merely less strenuously
seen, because the subject offers little inspiration. Masaccio has lent
the theme real dignity, and, in the eager face of the nun at the front
of the audience achieves an unusual sweetness. Technically there are
good but not compelling reasons for supposing this fresco may have been
done among the first, about 1425.

The lower scenes at the back of the Chapel are, at your right, St. Peter
healing the Sick, by the mere fall of his shadow and, at the left, St.
Peter giving Alms. In both cases we have Florentine street scenes with a
classic air lent by the solemn figures of the apostles. We feel the
figures as far or near, and the air that veils them. There is great
intentness in the poor folk, and a rugged impersonality in St. Peter and
St. James. They are not indulging personal compassion so much as
fulfilling a divine mission. Again the combination of a drastic realism
with a stylistic majesty is what makes these frescoes unique. They
contain vivid portraits, among these the traditional portrait of
Masolino, a gentle, heavy, middle-aged face, bearded, and crowned with a
sort of tuque—just the man to have conceived the charming but loosely
organized compositions at Castiglione d’Olona.

What Masaccio looked like we may see in the upper fresco on the right
wall. He is the alert and determined figure impersonating St. Thomas, at
the left of the group. The story of the Tribute Money, Figure 90, is one
of the grandest creations of European art. If, as Leonardo da Vinci
asserts, the highest task of painting is to show by the pose and
gestures of the body the emotions of the soul, this is one of the
greatest paintings. It is remarkable for the dignity lent to an
apparently unpromising theme. The story is simply that Christ is
required to pay the _denarius_ when there is no money in the company. By
a miracle Peter finds the coin in the mouth of a fish and pays it to the
tax-gatherer. How the creative imagination has magnified this slender
theme! Masaccio has formed a group of potent and formidable individuals,
these simple men are fit to shake a world. He has shown them in a moment
in which discouragement and determination blend. A technicality
threatens to check the salvation of the world. He has discriminated
between the assured authority of the Christ and the wrathful energy of
St. Peter. He has invested the majestic forms with massive draperies
grandly disposed in simple folds. He has given even the tax-gatherer the
grace of a Roman athlete. Finally he has set the austere company before
a noble river plain upon which press the slopes of lofty mountains,
while the undulating crest of a remoter range almost bars off the sky.
All objects, human and inanimate, bear firmly on the ground and are
wrapped in an enveloping atmosphere. In the quality and arrangement of
the figures, it all derives from Giotto; in the vastness of the scale,
the introduction of mystery and distance, it is wholly Masaccio’s own.
Vasari rightly praised the harmony and discretion with which these
powerful assertions of form are made, and sees here the beginnings of
the modern style of painting.


  FIG. 90. Masaccio. The Tribute Money.—_Brancacci Chapel._


  FIG. 89. Masaccio. St. Peter Baptizing.—_Brancacci Chapel._


  FIG. 92. Masaccio. The Trinity, Fresco.—_Santa Maria Novella._

The organizing power of Masaccio is at its height in the Tribute Money.
His emotional intensity is fully involved only in the Expulsion from
Eden, Figure 91, the adjoining fresco in the nave of the church. Before
the sword of a serenely inexorable angel, Adam and Eve stalk forth into
the unknown. Their bodies cringe as they move, with shame and grief. An
ominous light reduces their bodies to so many pits of shadow and bosses
of light. Drawing of such accurate economy will only rarely reappear in
the world, in Leonardo da Vinci, in Rembrandt, in Honoré Daumier. The
desperate emotion is well contained within the oblong, in a monumental
balance. Remorse in the two first sinners has its shades. The man’s head
is pressed into his hands in an attempt at restraint, while Eve’s is
thrown back in anguished ululation. The high emotional pressure is new,
and symptomatic, and significantly it is contained within monumental
bounds. The Italian Renaissance in its striving for expressiveness will
rarely fail to keep expression noble. The ingrained classicism of the
Florentine point of view is never more favorably represented than in a
subject like this which seeks a maximum emotion on terms of order and

What remains of Masaccio is in a sense anti-climax. Very stately is the
fresco in this chapel, of the Resurrection of the Prince of Tyre and St.
Peter enthroned. The beauty is that of fine arrangement and
characterization. The graceful nude boy and about ten distinguished
figures behind him were added to the composition, presumably from
Masaccio’s designs, full fifty years later. They are the work of
Filippino Lippi, who also added some portraits at the left of this
fresco. He also filled the three unpainted panels, in an excellent
imitation of Masaccio’s style. Evidently Masaccio was called rather
abruptly to his last sojourn at Rome. For the fresco of the Raising of
the Boy could have been finished in a fortnight.

I have omitted a fine fresco of a Pietà in the Collegiate Church at
Empoli, though I believe it to be a splendid example of Masaccio’s early
style, and I can only mention for its magnificent architectural setting
in Brunellesco’s new style the fresco of the Trinity in Santa Maria
Novella, Figure 92. It is of his latest manner and of extraordinary
gravity and mass.

In 1428, being only twenty-six years old, Masaccio drops out of sight at
Rome. Some report that he was poisoned, others that he was slain in a
street brawl. We really know nothing about it. What we do know is that
in the recorded history of art no painter had achieved so greatly in so
short a time. Within six short years Masaccio created that method of
painting which stood uncontested till the advent of luminism only forty
years ago. And he not merely illustrated the method of construction in
light and dark, painting in atmospheric values rather than in lines and
charted areas, but he also expressed in the new technic both the noblest
traditional emotions as also poignant new emotions quite his own. In one
superb aggressive he had moved three generations into the future. For a
hundred years the most intelligent and ambitious artists in Florence as
a matter of course studied and copied in the Brancacci Chapel to form
their style. Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo,
Raphael, Andrea del Sarto thus paid homage to the untidy youth from
Castel San Giovanni, and even the iconoclasts of today, for whom
Leonardo da Vinci and his peers are scarcely artists at all, envy the
gravity and force of Masaccio. He is the real father of modern painting,
which is most true to itself when it tempers an ardent curiosity as
regards natural appearances with a respect for the great traditions of
moderation and taste.

Masaccio’s successors, very wisely, did not closely imitate him. They
saw he was an unsafe and unapproachable model. By a swift impulse of
genius, and apparently without analytical study of anatomy and
topography, he had mastered the broad effects that register form.
Details he neglected. He gives the action of hands and feet, not their
articulations, the scale of landscape and not its component parts. For
men of lesser genius, these short-cuts were dangerous. While using
Masaccio as inspiration, they had to verify his discoveries through
analytical studies before those innovations could become generally
available. The process of verification and minute research occupied
about fifty years and may be said to be complete with the maturity of
Leonardo da Vinci, say about the date of The Last Supper, 1498.

The successors of Masaccio may be divided into two groups as they
quietly adopted and popularized the immediately available part of his
discoveries, or strenuously carried his work forward. To the moderate
progressive group belong Fra Filippo Lippi and Benozzo Gozzoli, and
still later Ghirlandaio; the experimentalists are birds of quite a
different feather.

These Florentine realists may be divided into two generations. The first
asserts itself before the middle of the fifteenth century, and is
trained chiefly under the influence of such sculptors as Donatello,
Brunellesco and Ghiberti. These painters work at the problem of light
and shade, anatomy, and perspective, accepting in their art the guidance
of sculpture. The second generation of realists come to their own after
the middle of the century, are mostly trained as silversmiths, and work
at the new technic of oil painting, at landscape and at the figure in
action. Both groups relatively neglected the important matter of
composition. Most of the realists sacrificed pictorial effect the better
to master detail, but they also accumulated that vast body of knowledge
upon which rests the glory of the High Renaissance, and nobody can
understand the progress of Florentine painting without following
sympathetically their great effort.


  FIG. 93. Paolo Uccello. Battle of Cavalry.—_Louvre._

Of the first generation, the quaintest figure is Paolo Uccello. Born in
1397, he soon gave himself fanatically to the study of the new science
of perspective, especially to feats of foreshortening. His pictures are
so many experiments and have a petrified inertness. Yet at his best he
commands dignity and a considerable decorative power. About the year
1435 he painted for the Medici palace several battle scenes, three of
which are respectively in the Louvre, Figure 93, National Gallery and
Uffizi. The last, representing the Florentine victory of San Romano,
shows the style. The forms are squared, in a fashion anticipating modern
Cubism, in order to simplify the problem of placing and foreshortening.
Corpses and lances are deliberately pointed at the spectator to offer so
many problems in perspective. The landscape is minute and topographical.
The decorative coloring is bold and original with interesting
dissonances of oranges, russets, and greens. It is quite splendid after
the unreal fashion of a tapestry.

Paolo’s masterpiece is the equestrian portrait of Sir John Hawkwood,
Figure 94, the English soldier of fortune and occasional captain of the
Florentine army, which is in the Cathedral. It is painted in gray-green
touched with color, and simulates a tomb. The date is 1437. Since Roman
times no equestrian monument of equal dignity had been created, and one
is inclined to suspect that Uccello profited by preliminary studies of
Donatello, his close friend, which later developed into the superb
Gattamelata statue at Padua. Uccello has a lighter vein illustrated by
furniture panels at Oxford, (a Hunt), at Paris, and Vienna, (St. George
and the Dragon), but his most ambitious work is the decoration of the
lunettes in the great cloister of Santa Maria Novella. The stories are
drawn from the Old Testament, were started by Paolo, about the year
1446, and continued by several assistants. The medium was gray-green,
_terra verde_, and the place accordingly is called the Green Cloister.
Uccello’s manner may be best sensed in the fresco of the Deluge, in
which the endeavor to set problems in perspective clashes unhappily with
the desire to present a scene of terror. The figures are felt one at a
time, there is little relation between them, and the picture has small
merit apart from its probity in the rendering of details and a sort of
abstract earnestness.

Uccello lived on till 1475, an indulged eccentric, ignored by the public
and ridiculed by his greater friends. His zeal for perspective was
unabated with age, and many a night his much-tried wife lost sleep as he
murmured in the small hours—“O! thou dear perspective!”


  FIG. 94. Paolo Uccello. Tomb Portrait of Sir John


  FIG. 96. Andrea del Castagno. Portrait of a young man.—_J. P. Morgan
    Coll., N. Y._


  FIG. 95. Andrea del Castagno. Pippo Spano.—_Sant’ Apollonia._


  FIG. 97. Andrea del Castagno. Tomb portrait of Niccolò da

Far the most powerful of these early realists is Andrea del
Castagno.[37] His aggressive and truculent forms savor of Donatello
without Donatello’s fineness. He searches the secrets of anatomy,
locates and describes the muscles and sinews, depicts a world ruled by
force of arm. Although he builds in heavy shadows, after Masaccio’s
fashion, he retains an outline that vibrates with nervous strength. His
truthful sternness still wins approbation. He was born about 1390. We
meet him first in full maturity, perhaps about the year 1435, as
decorator of the Villa of the Pandolfini. To strengthen the ambition of
that proud race, he painted in their great hall nine figures of heroes
and heroines noted in war or in the arts. Recently transferred to the
Convent of Sant’ Apollonia, which already had a Last Supper and a
Calvary by Andrea, you may see the austere forms of Dante, Petrarch, and
Boccaccio, of Esther, Queen Thomyris and the Cumean Sibyl, of the
warrior Farinata degli Uberti, Niccolò Accaiuoli, and Filippo Scolari.
This potent and melancholy figure of Pippo Spano, Figure 95, whom we
already know as the patron of Masolino, at Buda, is the most striking
representation that painting has given us of those masterful Italian
soldiers of fortune who managed war and government for the less advanced
nations. Pippo Spano had gone to Buda as a clerk and had quickly become
a generalissimo, Obergespann of Temesvár. For King Sigismund of Hungary
he stemmed the Turkish onslaught, did much to save Central Europe for
Christianity. As he stands thoughtfully confident, holding the scimitar,
the weapon of his foes, he is the beau ideal of that Italy soon to be
immortalized by Machiavelli, in which virtue meant successful force, and
both were on sale. A man’s portrait, Figure 96, in the collection of Mr.
J. P. Morgan, New York, has an even more sinister intensity. Equally
remarkable for its heroic aggressiveness in the young David adorning a
tournament shield in the Widener Collection, Figure 70.

In the fresco of the Crucifixion, now in the Uffizi, Andrea reveals
great knowledge linked to tragic expressiveness. No tenderness veils the
appalling theme. An athlete suffers stoically while his mother and
cousin shudder with grief. Of its ruthless kind it is a great
masterpiece and quite unforgettable.

In 1456 Andrea painted for the Cathedral the equestrian portrait of the
partisan leader, Niccolò da Tolentino, Figure 97. It is a companion
piece to Uccello’s Hawkwood, and like it simulates statuary, in
monochrome. It is more martial and restless, in the toss of the horse’s
head and the snap of the rider’s cloak. It suggests not ceremonious
dignity, but noise and impending action. It may very powerfully have
influenced Verrocchio twenty years later when he modelled for Venice the
Colleoni statue.

The truculence of Andrea’s manner led to a false and scandalous
tradition, promulgated by Vasari, that he slew his rival Domenico
Veneziano out of jealousy. As a matter of prosaic record, Domenico
Veneziano survived his alleged assassin’s death, in 1457, by all of four

Domenico came down from Venice somewhere about 1438 and brought with him
a new technical method. He finished the pictures, which he began in
tempera, with veilings or glazes in an oil or varnish medium. He avoided
the old frank Gothic coloring in favor of pale tonalities which oddly
forecast our modern open-air school. The new method permitted of bolder
brushwork and successive over paintings. For the moment it wrought havoc
with the old conventional beauty, but it offered the painter new
resources and refinements, and eventually made possible the triumphs of
Leonardo and Titian.


  FIG. 98. Domenico Veneziano. Madonna with St. Lucy.—_Uffizi._

On the whole, Domenico is merely the shadow of a great name, for we have
only a handful of works by him, and those perhaps unrepresentative. The
altar-piece of St. Lucy, in the Uffizi, Figure 98, is novel only in its
acid and original dissonance of deep rose and pale green. The rugged St.
John the Baptist shows an attempt to obtain force of modelling without
exaggerating the shadows. This tendency persists in such disciples of
Domenico as Baldovinetti and Piero della Francesca, and rules in
Florence until Leonardo’s definitive application of Masaccio’s methods.
In the profile portraiture of the period Domenico was a master, as shown
in an admirable female portrait in Mrs. John L. Gardner’s collection,
Figure 99. Many similar heads, which we can hardly ascribe to particular
masters, seem to derive from Domenico. One of the most beautiful is in
the Poldi Pezzoli Museum at Milan. All of Domenico’s pupils and
imitators excel in a minute and topographical style of landscape of
which he was probably the inventor. It may be studied in Piero della
Francesca, in the Pollaiuoli, in Baldovinetti, and there is even a trace
of it in the spacious Alpine background of the Mona Lisa.


  FIG. 99. Domenico Veneziano. Portrait of a Girl.—_Coll. Mrs. John L.
    Gardner, Boston._

Domenico died in 1461. By that time Florentine realism was emerging from
its first phase, and was beginning to investigate with its new resources
the facts of motion. It was the moment, too, when certain realists
sought to regain the grace which had largely been sacrificed in the
struggle for sheer knowledge.


  FIG. 100. A. Baldovinetti. Madonna.—_Louvre._

Alesso Baldovinetti[38] well represents this moment in a lovely Madonna
in the Louvre, Figure 100, which shows in perfection the new
topographical landscape and that juvenile graciousness which was to be
the staple of the coming generation of artists. Baldovinetti was born in
1425, and this loveliest of all his pictures may represent him about the
year 1460. He had been an assistant of Fra Angelico, but in a long
career, he died in 1499, he fell behind the times. He taught Domenico
Ghirlandaio his elements, and profoundly influenced Andrea Verrocchio
and Antonio Pollaiuolo. Thus he keeps a sure if modest place in the
progress of Florentine art.

In this chapter we have been dealing in a rough way with the Florence of
Cosimo de’ Medici. Under his astute and delicate rule from behind the
political scenes, Florence developed in wealth, splendor, and
worldliness. The old piety was waning or assuming merely æsthetic forms.
Greek studies were beginning to pave the way for an enlightened and
sceptical humanism and, withal, a revival of the pagan sense of beauty.
And when the new beauty came, it was gratefully mindful of those who had
made it possible. Leonardo de Vinci lauds Masaccio. He expresses the
immense debt that art owes to the first conscious realists. They did
good and harm, but to Florence at least they opened the only way of
progress. For whatever art may be elsewhere, in Florence it was fruitful
only as it was intellectualized. Good theory, good practice—such was the
creed imposed by the early realists and later formulated by their great
scion, Leonardo. I do not offer it as a universal formula, but in these
days when pure spontaneity—that is no theory—and false theory divide the
field, the old Florentine credo is at least worthy of consideration by
all who produce art and by all who love it. Baldovinetti was untouched
by these new stirrings which are associated with the rule of Lorenzo de’
Medici, but he dimly forecasts the grace that was soon to come. This new
spirit and its exponents must be the theme of our next chapter.


                           VASARI ON MASACCIO

  Vasari’s general estimate of Masaccio’s importance is still sound.

  “With regard to the good manner of painting, we are indebted above all
  to Masaccio, seeing that he, as one desirous of acquiring fame,
  perceived that painting is nothing but the counterfeiting of all the
  things of nature, vividly and simply, with drawing and with colours,
  even as she produced them for us.... This truth, I say, being
  recognized by Masaccio, brought it about that by means of continuous
  study he learned so much that he can be numbered among the first who
  cleared away, in a great measure, the hardness, the imperfections, and
  the difficulties of the art, and that he gave a beginning to beautiful
  attitudes, movements, liveliness, and vivacity, and to a certain
  relief truly characteristic and natural; which no painter up to his
  time had done.... And he painted his works with good unity and
  softness, harmonizing the flesh-colours of the heads and of the nudes
  with the colours of the draperies, which he delighted to make with few
  folds and simple, as they are in life and nature....

  “For this reason that chapel has been frequented continually up to our
  own day [1554] by innumerable draughtsmen and masters; and there still
  are therein some heads so life-like and so beautiful, that it may
  truly be said that no master of that age approached so nearly as this
  man did to the moderns. His labours, therefore, deserve infinite
  praise, and above all because he gave form in his art to the beautiful
  manner of the times.”

  Vasari then names twenty-five artists who studied Masaccio’s frescoes.
  From De Vere’s translation of the _Lives_, Vol. II, p. 189, 90.

                     LEONARDO DA VINCI ON MASACCIO

  Leonardo da Vinci uses Masaccio as the example of a painter who goes
  to nature rather than to other men’s painting.

  =That Painting declines and deteriorates from age to age, when
  painters have no standard but painting already done.=

  “Hence the painter will produce pictures of small merit if he takes
  for his standard the pictures of others. But if he will study from
  natural objects he will bear good fruit; as was seen in the painters
  after the Romans who always imitated each other, and so their art
  declined from age to age. After these came Giotto the Florentine
  who—not content with imitating the works of Cimabue; his master—being
  born in the mountains and in a solitude inhabited only by goats and
  such beasts, and being guided by nature to his art, began by drawing
  on the rocks the movements of the goats of which he was keeper. And
  thus he began to draw all the animals which were to be found in the
  country, and in such wise that after much study he excelled not only
  all the masters of his time but all those of many bygone ages.”

  “Afterwards this art declined again, because everyone imitated the
  pictures that were already done; thus it went on from century to
  century until Tomaso, of Florence, nicknamed Masaccio, showed by his
  perfect works how those who take for their standard any one but
  nature—the mistress of all masters—weary themselves in vain.”

           J. P. Richter “_Literary Works of L. da V._,” Vol. I. p. 660.

  But Leonardo approves also imitation of antiquity (Richter, Vol. II,
  ¶1445). “The imitation of antique things is better than that of modern
  things.” He would probably have sanctioned Masaccio’s devout study of
  Giotto. The warning is against slavish imitation of immediate

                        VASARI ON PAOLO UCCELLO

  The admirable and self sacrificing ardor of these first realists is
  best exemplified in the case of Paolo Uccello.

  “For the sake of these investigations [in perspective] he kept himself
  in seclusion and almost a hermit, having little intercourse with
  anyone, and staying weeks and months in his house without shaving
  himself. And although those were difficult and beautiful problems, if
  he had spent that time in the study of figures, he would have brought
  them to absolute perfection; for even so he made them with passing
  good draughtsmanship. But, consuming his time in these researches, he
  remained throughout his whole life more poor than famous; wherefore
  the sculptor Donatello, who was very much his friend, said to him very
  often—when Paolo showed him Mazzocchi (facetted head-fillets) with
  pointed ornaments, and squares drawn in perspective from diverse
  aspects; spheres with seventy-two diamond-shaped facets, with
  wood-shavings wound round sticks on each facet; and other fantastic
  devices on which he spent and wasted his time—‘Ah, Paolo, this
  perspective of thine makes thee abandon the substance for the shadow;
  those are things that are only useful to men who work at the inlaying
  of wood, seeing that they fill their borders with chips and shavings,
  with spirals both round and square, and with other similar things.’”

  Vasari, in Schele de Vere’s translation; Vol. II. p. 132, 3.


  Here I may illustrate a common practice of the times in an appraisal
  of Baldovinetti’s frescoes in the choir of the Trinità by fellow
  artists including Benozzo Gozzoli, Cosimo Rosselli and Pietro

  “In the name of God—on the 19 of January 1496 (n. s. ’97)

  We Benozzo di Lese, painter; and Piero di Cristofano da Castel della
  Pieve, painter; and Cosimo di Lorenzo Rosselli, painter, chosen by
  Alesso di Baldovinetti, painter, to see and judge and set a price
  on—empowered by a contract which said Alesso has with M. Bongianni
  de’Gianfigliazzi and his heirs—a chapel pictured in Santa Trinità of
  Florence—that is the choir of the said church, having seen, all
  together and agreeing, having examined all the costs of lime, azure,
  gold and all other colours, scaffolds and everything else, including
  his work, we judge from all this that the aforesaid Alesso should have
  one thousand broad gold florins.

  “And for clearness and truth of the said judgment I Cosimo di Lorenzo
  aforesaid have made this writing with my own hand this aforesaid day,
  and so I judge; and here at the foot they will sign with their own
  hands that they are agreed with what is above written, and so judge.

  Benozzo di Lese &c.

  I Piero Perugino &c.

  Translated from Herbert Horne’s edition of Alesso’s _Ricordi_ in
  _Burlington Magazine_, Vol. II. (1903) p. 383.


  FIG. 101. Ghirlandaio. Giovanna degli Albizzi.—_J. P. Morgan Coll.,
    New York._

                               CHAPTER IV

  After Masaccio two tendencies,—towards prettiness and vivacious
      narrative; towards strenuous research—Fra Filippo Lippi celebrant
      of Gay Florence—Benozzo Gozzoli and Pageantry—Antonio Pollaiuolo
      and human dynamics—Piero della Francesca and impersonal
      observation of appearances—Dissolving tendencies in the new
      panoramic style—illustrated by the early frescoes in the Sistine
      Chapel—Perugino’s return to simple symmetries—The _Cassone_
      painters once more—Domenico Ghirlandaio and spectacular
      narrative—His portraits—The charm of the slighter narrative style.

In the last chapter we have dealt chiefly with innovators and reformers.
Whether in art or life, these are not always the most agreeable
companions. The charming person is generally a traditionalist, or a
tactful profiteer by other men’s discoveries. So the popular favor has
ever gone not to the strenuous artists of Masaccio’s type or Castagno’s,
but to devotees of the charm of common folk and things, like Fra Filippo
Lippi; to masters of pageantry and incident, like Benozzo Gozzoli; or to
chroniclers of the festal richness of Florence in her short prime, like
Domenico Ghirlandaio. These artists, while by no means giants, are
highly representative of their times. They one and all aimed to please,
and amply succeeded. Their importance in the history of art is rather
slight; in the history of taste, on the contrary, they are very
important. And it is from that point of view that we shall do well to
consider them. These three masters cover the last two-thirds of the
fifteenth century. They exemplify the taste of the new-rich merchants
who flourished under the benevolent tyranny of the Medici.

Alongside of these gracious and adaptable spirits, struggled the
continuers of the realistic reform—Antonio Pollaiuolo, who first
systematically studied the anatomy and dynamics of the human form;
Andrea Verrocchio, who imbued accuracy and power with grace; Sandro
Botticelli, who explored solitary roads of sentiment and wrought out of
the ruggedness of the realists strange forms of recondite beauty. At all
times we find the endeavor for artistic adaptation running alongside the
passion for sheer discovery, and producing its own triumphs. It is this
complicated, dual process which makes the richness and continuity of the
Early Renaissance. If we compare the seventy-two years between the
beginnings of Masaccio, say 1422, and the death of Ghirlandaio, in 1494,
with the century and a half preceding, we shall note an extraordinary
acceleration both of production and progress. There are no gaps and
rests; each generation makes its discoveries and cashes them in.
Architecture, sculpture, classical scholarship develop with a whirling
rapidity which by no means precludes taste and reflection. In an almost
reckless expansion of emotion, experience, and creative activity,
Florence keeps her head though she risks losing her soul. And the true
harbinger of this intoxicating new life is one who often lost his head
and whose soul remains enigmatic, the wayward and fascinating
painter-monk, Fra Filippo Lippi.[39]


  FIG. 102. Filippo Lippi. Madonna in Adoration.—_Berlin._

He was the first Italian painter to care greatly for the look of
everyday people. Born about the year 1400, he was early orphaned and
thrust willy-nilly into the Carmelite Order. As a young man he must have
seen Masaccio painting those titanic designs in the Brancacci Chapel.
From Masaccio Fra Filippo learned his trade, rather by observation than
by direct instruction. But he cared for far different things. He really
follows the tender narrative vein of Lorenzo Monaco. To the grandeur of
miracle-working apostles, he preferred the gentle quaintness of the old
man who kept the shops and practiced the trades of Florence; to the
matronly dignity of Masaccio’s women, he preferred the shy and alluring
sweetness of the Florentine girls about him; to the majestic sweeps of
mountain and valley in Masaccio, the intimate appeal of the cypress
groves, the little ledges and trickling springs. In technique, too, he
avoided the bold short-cuts of his master. He hung on to the line, loved
details, described everything with solicitude. It is an art of
amiability and curiosity, generally disregardful of that grand style
towards which in her greater moments Florence ever aspired. The advent
of Fra Filippo in the Florence of Giotto and Orcagna and Masaccio, was
like that of an irresistibly attractive youth in a solemn company. He
loosened everything up. Unconsciously he demoralized the assembly; for
two generations the art of Florence was to be boyish and girlish. That
is its charm and its limitation, and the difference between the Early
Renaissance and the Golden Age will be largely that the latter will
prefer to depict with the gravity of maturity a world that has grown up.


  FIG. 103. Fra Fillipo Lippi. Madonna and Child.—_Uffizi._

One of the earliest and most exquisite panels by Fra Filippo was painted
shortly after 1435 for the private chapel of Cosimo de’ Medici’s new
palace, and is now at Berlin. The theme, young Mary kneeling before her
Divine Infant, Figure 102, is a favorite with the Florentine artists of
this century. Perhaps no one has conceived it more delightfully than Fra
Filippo. The picture gets its peculiar sweetness from the gentle,
girlish figure of the Maiden Mother, its quality of romance from the
ledgy background watered by springs and spangled with modest flowers,
its tang of reality from the chubby and stolid Christchild and the
boyish St. John the Baptist. You could almost see such a thing today
along the shaded upper Mensola when a young Florentine mother has taken
the children for a Sunday picnic. For the old Gothic conventions and the
bare majesty of Masaccio’s painting, Fra Filippo has substituted the
everyday joys of a feeling eye, and the charm of closely-observed little


  FIG. 104. Fra Filippo Lippi. Coronation of the Virgin.—_Uffizi._

In most of his pictures this familiar quality is marked. His saints are
not types, but people of the Florentine middle class. An early Madonna
in the Uffizi, Figure 103, shows the Virgin as a slight girl with her
ash-blond locks elaborately dressed and braided for a holiday. She is
almost overborne by her sturdy Son, an exacting brute, one may imagine,
while the attendant angel is a grinning street Arab caught in the
intervals of mischief. Such pictures with their winsomeness and
actuality worked powerfully to break down both the old Gothic decorum
and the new sublimity of Masaccio.

To grasp the novelty of Fra Filippo’s most famous panel picture, The
Coronation of the Virgin, painted for the nuns of St. Ambrogio in 1441,
Figure 104, and now in the Uffizi, one has only to recall the devoutly
formal and simple version of the subject which Fra Angelico painted
about the same time for the convent of San Marco. The composition of Fra
Filippo, on the contrary, is radiantly informal. We breathe the air of
the commencement at a very nice girls’ school, with adoring friends and
proud relatives moving at the edges of the ceremony. Indeed God the
Father has merely the air of a benevolent trustee or visiting minor
celebrity awarding a prize to the best girl. It is all like the crowning
of a _Rosière_ in a French village. Robert Browning in one of the most
admirable poems in “Men and Women” makes Fra Filippo promise

                                    “I shall paint
              God in the midst, Madonna and her Babe.
              Ringed by a bowery, flowery angel-brood,
              Lilies and vestments and white faces, sweet
              As puff on puff of grated orris-root
              When ladies crowd to church at Midsummer.”

Our picture is evidence enough that the time has come to Florentine art
when youth shall be served.

Monastic vows, and in fact duties of any sort, bore lightly on Fra
Filippo. He tasted the forbidden sweets of life recklessly, and worked
only when the rare mood urged. He was in and out of the good graces of
the Medici. Called to Prato to fresco the choir of the Collegiata, in
1455, he was nine years achieving what a steady workman would have done
in two. But in the meantime Fra Filippo had run away with the nun,
Lucrezia Buti, shuffled off his monastic vows (through the indulgence of
the humanist Pope, Pius II), married and settled down as the father of a
family. His random joyous course was nearly run, and his last frescoes
at Prato show a kind of discipline that is foreign to his earlier work.
In 1464 he completed the Feast of Herod and the Funeral of St. Stephen,
frescoes which forecast the sort of narrative painting that was to mark
the close of the century.

About the brutality of the Feast of Herod, Figure 105, Fra Filippo has
cast a dreamy glamour, as indeed Giotto had before him. The youthful
guests are absorbed in Salome’s dancing. Following the sculptors of the
day, Fra Filippo has made her slight and graceful, as she trips a
careless measure. The air is simply that of a gentle society. The grim
motive of the delivery of the head of John the Baptist to Herodias is
gently emphasized by the charming act of two little handmaids who clutch
each other for fright. The sprightliness of the invention, the
generalized idyllic charm of the feeling, the rich variety of
accessories, the youthful timbre of the whole—make this not merely one
of the best but also one of the most characteristic narrative mural
paintings of the Early Renaissance. It strikes the note which will be
echoed by Fra Filippo’s apprentice, Sandro Botticelli; which will be
exaggerated by Fra Filippo’s son, Filippino, and distantly imitated by
many another Florentine successor.


  FIG. 105. Fra Filippo Lippi. Feast of Herod. Salome’s Dance.
    Fresco.—_Collegiata. Prato._

If the Feast of Herod best exemplifies the element of homely poetry and
inventive grace in Fra Filippo, the Burial of St. Stephen, Figure 106,
just opposite in the choir proves that he was not oblivious to the high
and decorous prose of his master Masaccio. In formality and power of
construction few painters then living could have equalled it, and those
few could not have rivalled its spacious architectural setting and its
suggestion of atmosphere. At first sight it seems nearly equal to the
Tribute Money or at least to the Tabitha. On more careful survey it is
less noble, more insistently pathetic, and in every way more loosely
knit. In particular the portraits at the sides have little but a
mechanical relation to the theme. Masaccio himself had admitted a
similar gallery of mere bystanders in The Miracle of the Prince, but had
he lived to complete the fresco, he would doubtless have brought the
portrait figures into some relation of interest in the miracle. Fra
Filippo virtually waives that problem and merely flanks his real subject
with bordering groups of persons of contemporary importance. As a matter
of fact, the Florentine donor was no longer humble-minded and content to
appear among the saints in miniature and unobtrusive guise. He now
insisted in being painted to the life with his family, friends, and
dependents,—a complacent, incongruous apparition amid the humility or
heroism of the saints. Fra Filippo made the sensible adjustment that the
donors should serve as a sort of human frame for the religious picture
in the centre. This solution became tiresomely standard and lasted for
fifty years or so, until the High Renaissance had authority enough to
impose considerations of taste and self-effacement even upon wealthy

In 1465 Fra Filippo was called to Spoleto, and there having started a
lovely apse decoration, A Coronation, for the cathedral, he died and was
buried. Quite unconsciously he had temporarily shattered that
intellectual formalism which is the very essence of Florentine art, and
had inaugurated that moral and artistic holiday which is made visible in
the painting of Botticelli and Ghirlandaio and audible in the songs of
Lorenzo de’ Medici.

This holiday mood is strong in Benozzo Gozzoli, and he spread it through
Umbria and the Sienese country. Born in 1420, for a time an assistant of
Fra Angelico, Benozzo’s task was to depict with more vivacity than
insight the splendors and humors of life. This he does, whether his
theme be the legend of St. Francis, as at Montefalco in 1462, the
Cavalcade of the Magi, Florence, 1469, the Life of St. Augustine, San
Gimignano, 1465, or the doings of the Old Testament Patriarchs and
Matriarchs, at Pisa, 1468–1484. He is always sunny, profuse, witty in an
obvious way; and not without his tinge of the poetry of youth. He loves
gardens, courtyards, forests, and equally well palaces, colonnades,
crowds and incidents. He is indefatigably panoramic, and his frescoes,
if hardly good pictures, are at least good pickings, for their abundant
and often refreshing detail.


  FIG. 106. Fra Filippo Lippi. Funeral of St. Stephen.
    Fresco.—_Collegiata. Prato._

Very splendid is that pageant of the Wise Men from the East, Figure 107,
which he painted about 1469[40] for the private chapel of Cosimo de’
Medici’s palace. The gorgeous procession winds about the walls, moving
over the mountain roads and through the forests which you may still see
up the Arno valley towards Vallombrosa. Their goal was the little panel
over the altar where Filippo Lippi painted the Madonna reverently
kneeling before her Son, Figure 102. This little picture was flanked by
choirs, in fresco, of singing angels. For the oldest of the Three Kings
Benozzo chose, according to tradition, the unfortunate Emperor John
Palaeologus, who thirty years earlier had come to Florence on the vain
mission of uniting the Eastern and Western branches of the Christian
Church. The youthful kings are said to portray Giuliano and Lorenzo de’
Medici. What we really have is a pictorial version of those religious
pageants or representations which were common at the times. Many times
Florence had seen her patricians in such a cavalcade. Benozzo’s fresco
in its undiminished loveliness of color and gold—the Medici apparently
either ordered few masses or burned few candles in their family
chapel—is a most precious relic of bygone splendors. Indeed they passed
before Benozzo himself, for he lived on till 1498, four years after
Lorenzo the Magnificent’s death, and the year of Savonarola’s martyrdom;
the year, too, when Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper was being finished.
Few artists have had such emphatic intimations that their world and they
themselves were obsolete. It is in every way to be hoped in Benozzo’s
case that he was at once too cheerful and too unintelligent to grasp the
situation. This may be fairly supposed of a man who was content for
fifty years of a swiftly moving world with what could be learned from
Fra Angelico.


  FIG. 107. Benozzo Gozzoli. Detail from Procession of Magi.—_Riccardi


  FIG. 108. Antonio Pollaiuolo. Martyrdom of St. Sebastian.—_London._

Of course some painters declined to keep holiday and feverishly pursued
the lines of realistic investigation laid down by Castagno and his
contemporaries. The most notable of these is Antonio Pollaiuolo.[41] He
was trained in sculpture under Ghiberti, and worked most variously, at
sculpture, painting, engraving, glass designing, and even embroiderers’
patterns. Everywhere he pursued with an almost ferocious intensity the
secrets of anatomy and especially of the human body in violent action.
He conceived the body as a powerful machine and rejoiced to display its
mechanisms—knotted muscles, straining sinews. He chose his subjects with
this sort of display in mind: Hercules and his feats, the archers
setting their bows and crossbows for the slaying of St. Sebastian, nude
men in deadly combat with dirks and axes, nude men wildly dancing.
Nearly all these works suffer from their avowed experimentalism, but all
are alive with a tingling not to say brutal energy. Antonio Pollaiuolo
is the ancestor of all the strong painters who for over four centuries
have delighted to appal the mild and sheeplike throng with wolfish
antics. He is the first artist who is a specialist, pursuing his own
ends in disregard of the surrounding public. As a matter of fact,
Antonio’s muscular paganism fitted in fairly well with the notions of a
Florence that worshipped power. The Medici ordered the twelve feats of
Hercules for their palace, about the year 1460. The great pictures are
lost, but little copies by Antonio himself give an idea of their
truculent force. In the Uffizi are Hercules crushing the breath out of
the earthborn demigod Antæus, and Hercules slaying the Hydra. The
tension, ardor, and ferocity of these tiny pictures are extraordinary.
They seem to enhance our own physical life. At New Haven is the panel of
Hercules shooting the Centaur Nessus, who races across a ford with
Deinaira on his back. The background is an exact picture of the Arno
valley looking from the west towards Florence. The representation of the
run of the river is extraordinary. Pollaiuolo had adopted Domenico
Veneziano’s miniature conception of landscape, but has introduced swing
and motion.

Equally remarkable is the Arno landscape in the Martyrdom of St.
Sebastian, Figure 108, which was painted in 1475. It has the defects of
an experimental and academic performance, is a show piece. The
executioners are even repeated, to show both front and rear aspects. All
the same, its power is impressive and beyond the range of any artist
then living, with the possible exception of Piero della Francesca. In
painting Pollaiuolo’s accomplishment is so even, and in draped figures
so ugly, that we may well pass the series of Virtues which with his
brother Piero he did in 1469 for the Mercantile Court, and consider his
great engraving known as the Ten Nudes, Figure 109, the odd decorative
disposition of which is imitated by Botticelli in the Allegory of
Spring; and the fresco of Dancing Men, in which Pollaiuolo successfully
vies with the convivial and Bacchic themes of the Greek vase painters.
The group is odd and effective as pattern, and inspired by a joyous

Painting only claimed a fraction of Antonio’s effort; often he merely
made the sketch and left the execution to his rather tame brother,
Piero. At the end of his life he was called down to Rome to make the
bronze tomb for Sixtus IV. There he died in the year 1498, being
sixty-three years old. While his own achievement was somewhat cramped
and limited, he had made the most valuable contributions to the art, or
rather to the science of painting. He had inspired a titan like
Signorelli and a poet like Botticelli, and in certain aspects Leonardo
da Vinci and Michelangelo only continued and perfected his work. As late
as Benvenuto Cellini’s day his sketches were passed about the studios
for the instruction of young painters in anatomy.


  FIG. 109. Antonio Pollaiuolo. Fighting Men—“The Ten Nudes.” Engraving.

A kindred strenuous spirit, Piero della Francesca,[42] affords an
interesting contrast to Pollaiuolo. Though an Umbrian, he belongs
spiritually to Florence. For Piero the world was a frozen thing. He
investigated with utmost zeal the mathematical basis of perspective,
producing on that topic a laborious and quite unreadable book. He
studied anatomy and construction in light and dark, and all the
atmospheric problems therewith associated. To attain atmospheric
envelopment, he sacrificed color. His pictures exist in silvery grays,
suggesting the blondness and tonal unity of modern open-air painting.
The drama of life never engrossed him. His world is passionless and
almost motionless, coldly impressive. Although he practiced all
refinements of modelling, he never made those relaxations of contour
which suggest movement. His figures are finely constructed and
beautifully placed but emotionally unrelated. They merely exist rather
splendidly, as do some of Manet’s figures. Indeed the warning of George
Moore as regards Manet applies equally to Piero. It is futile to seek
from him anything but fine painting.


  FIG. 110. Piero della Francesca. The Resurrection.—_Borgo S.

Of his origins we know next to nothing. He was born about 1410 in the
Umbrian town of Borgo San Sepolcro. For several years after 1439 we find
him at Florence as a paid assistant of Domenico Veneziano, whose pale
tonalities and topographically minute landscape reappear throughout
Piero’s work. His austere power is best represented in the bleak
Resurrection, Figure 110, which he painted in 1460 for his native city.
The stalwart Conqueror of Death has an apparitional impressiveness. He
comes with power from beyond the grave. He dominates the world as
represented by the sleeping athletes of the guard. A most potent effect
is obtained without sacrifice to sentiment. There is a similar
detachment in the Baptism of Christ, in the National Gallery, London.
Its pearly loveliness of color is in odd contrast to its evasions of
anything like warmth or tenderness. It is less an event than a
magnificently posed scene. The landscape is a liberating and informal
feature, a skilful adaptation of the method of Domenico Veneziano and
Pollaiuolo. It is as crisp and calculated as a Japanese print, yet it
gives its effect of space and breadth.


  FIG. 111. Piero della Francesca. Battle of Constantine, detail from
    fresco.—_S. Francesco, Arezzo._

Piero’s great opportunity came about 1465 when he painted in the choir
of San Francesco at Arezzo ten stories from the Legend of the Holy
Cross. For stark impressiveness it is hard to match them in Italy in
this century. Only Masaccio and Leonardo da Vinci will at all bear the
comparison. On analysis, the power rests mostly on the seriousness with
which Piero takes his technical problem. There is little real grief or
pathos in the Last Days of Adam, it is merely impersonally solemn. Even
of the admirable fresco which represents Constantine in the uneasy dream
in which he saw the vision of the cross, there is no warmth, no
unexpected or emotional quality. So it is throughout the series; in the
Queen of Sheba visiting Solomon, even in the splendid battle-piece, the
Victory over Maxentius, Figure 111, the obvious sentiment of the theme
is ignored, the figures have a kind of splendid unrelated existence that
requires no apology or explanation. It is an effect that recalls the
best archaic Greek sculpture.

Taken all in all, Piero is a formidable and enigmatic figure, an
exception in an eager and emotional age. His truth to his vision is what
counts. One feels it in the portrait of the humanist sovereign and
captain of Urbino, Federigo da Montefeltro. It was painted about 1472
and is in the Uffizi, Figure 112. How sternly honest it is, and what a
presentation of a powerful and beneficent personality. Even the little
decorative picture on the back of the panel, a Triumph of Fame, has an
effect beyond its scale and obvious intention. It suggests wide
dominions and heavy responsibilities manfully met.

Piero della Francesca lived out his life mostly in Umbria and far from
the artistic centre of things. There is a self-sufficing quality in this
voluntary isolation. He lived on to great old age, dying in 1492, and
unless his declining years were perturbed by the faintly rising star of
Leonardo da Vinci, he might boast himself, in the words of his and
Leonardo’s friend, Fra Luca Pacioli, “the monarch of his times in the
science of painting.”

We must leave for the Umbrian chapter such sturdy continuers of Piero
della Francesca’s experimentalism as Melozzo da Forlì and Luca
Signorelli. What is more important to note in leaving him is that such
triumphs as his in fresco painting were highly exceptional in the second
half of the fifteenth century. The successes of the period are in the
minor art of panel painting. The fantasies of Botticelli, the best
portraits of Ghirlandaio, the early panels of Perugino and Signorelli
and Leonardo da Vinci—these are the outstanding things. In mural
painting Florence actually retrograded, not merely as compared with the
days of Masaccio, Fra Filippo and Fra Angelico, but even as compared
with the earlier days of Andrea Bonaiuti, Agnolo Gaddi and Spinello
Aretino. The fact has been obscured by the superficial gain in small
realism, in sprightliness, and mere prettiness, but in all the serious
qualities of monumental design the decadence is unmistakable. The
favorite decorators simply executed on a large scale the sort of
compositions that would have been charming on the front of a
bride-chest. In the general enthusiasm for the parts of pictures the
sense of pictures as a whole seemed in danger of being lost. The
undiscriminating enthusiasm for the primitive painting of the Early
Renaissance which has ruled for two generations has so clouded critical
opinion on this point, that I must be at some pains to make my case

Perhaps I can do no better than to review some of the frescoes which
Pope Sixtus IV ordered about 1481 for the new chapel of the Vatican
Palace.[43] He summoned to the Sistine Chapel the best available artists
from both Tuscany and Umbria. By the measure of their success we may
estimate the mural painting of the time.


  FIG. 112. Piero della Francesca. Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, despot of

Originally the decorative scheme, later amplified by Michelangelo,
required sixteen scriptural stories, in which the deeds of Moses were
parallelled by those of Christ. The two first and two last subjects, on
the end walls, have been destroyed, but we still see the twelve on the
side walls. In general they all show the old Gothic coloring, are mostly
vivacious in a confused and over-rich way, and lack unity of pattern and
dramatic coherence.


  FIG. 113. Assistant of Perugino. Baptism. Fresco.—_Sistine Chapel._

One of the most admired is the Baptism of Christ, Figure 113, by
Pintorricchio, (or, as Venturi suggests, Andrea of Assisi) who here
works as Perugino’s assistant. The story is told in the centre and
reinforced by a spacious landscape which is confusingly full of
attractive features. The theme is mechanically stretched to fill the
space by adding at both flanks groups which have slight or no connection
with the subject. These groups are interestingly diversified with fine
portraits of the Pope’s relatives, the Roveres, and by the alert forms
of children. The effect is fairly restful and idyllic, but the pattern
is mechanical, and the emotional effect of the real theme is frittered
away in the accessories. The method of enlarging a stock composition by
adding portrait groups is standard for the Sistine Chapel and for the
period. Masaccio had tried it more effectively in the Miracle of the
Boy, and Filippo Lippi had made it seem almost organic in The Funeral of
St. Stephen. Pintorricchio, if it be he, is more superficially alluring
for his richness and variety, but really stands on a far lower plane of
design than his predecessors.


  FIG. 114. Botticelli. Moses in the Land of Midian. Fresco.—_Sistine
    Chapel, Rome._

If this mechanical symmetry is the standard method, there are
significant exceptions in the Sistine Chapel. The more sensitive
spirits, Botticelli and Luca Signorelli, reject so trite a solution.
Botticelli’s Moses in Midian, Figure 114, offers a delicate evasion, by
promoting a minor motive to be the central theme. All the incidents that
are dramatically important—the slaying of the Egyptian taskmaster, and
the adoration of the Burning Bush from which Jehovah spoke—are done with
the most energetic feeling, but are relegated to the background and
edges of the composition. The picture is really the fine grove in which
Moses gallantly helps the nymph-like daughters of Jethro to draw water.
A fantastic idyl is foisted off on us as a substitute for one of the
decisive moments in the Providential order. Botticelli is so winning in
his evasion, that it seems almost unfeeling to note that no Gothic
painter would have done anything so shifty. His success is not merely at
the expense of the expression of his real theme, but also at the expense
of the order and dignity proper to mural design. Having ordered a canto
of an epic, the Pope received a delicious madrigal. His contentment is
characteristic of the æsthetic casualness of the times.


  FIG. 115. Signorelli, Design only. Last Days of Moses.
    Fresco.—_Sistine Chapel, Rome._

Signorelli, in the Last Days of Moses, Figure 115, makes a similar but
less egregious evasion. His centre of interest is the nude youth in the
foreground, but he does give a certain prominence to the scenes where
Moses invests Joshua with authority, and where both view the Promised
Land from Mount Horeb. Though without much emotional accent, the crowds
are agreeably disposed and diversified by graceful forms of women and
children. Only the design is by Signorelli, the execution being by an
assistant, Don Bartolommeo della Gatta. The picture is more delightful
for such passages as the Apollo-like nude youth and the mother with her
children in the right foreground than it is as a whole, though it is
full of idyllic charm, and inadequate only when one considers the
gravity of its theme.


  FIG. 116. Ghirlandaio. Christ calling Peter and Andrew.
    Fresco.—_Sistine Chapel, Rome._

In his Calling of Peter and Andrew, Figure 116, to be fishers of men,
Domenico Ghirlandaio makes a skilful and impressive use of that approved
mechanical symmetry which has already been noticed in Pintorricchio’s
Baptism. Everything is well centralized, the river view is a welcome
outlet, the stereotyped bystanders on the flanks at least are telling
portraits and, while not bound into the central motive, have withal a
gravity that sufficiently accords with it. The arrangement is lucid, and
the surplus accessories fairly well subordinated. A rather perfunctory
quality in the central scene of homage and dedication reveals
Ghirlandaio’s scanty imagination. His impressiveness has a certain
dullness about it.

Few words need be spent on the picturesque and irresponsible confusion
which reigns in Cosimo Rosselli’s Destruction of Pharaoh’s Army in the
Red Sea, Figure 117. Cosimo was one of the older painters in the chapel,
forty-two years old. Yet a juvenile sensationalism and uncalculated
restlessness prevail, and his attempts at vivacity and grace are as
unhappy as his striving for effects of terror. It may well be that his
eccentric young pupil, Piero di Cosimo, gave this fresco its febrile
energy and its theatrical landscape. Certain it is that the three other
frescoes by Cosimo are unmitigatedly dull. Oddly it was he alone who won
the praise of Pope Sixtus, mostly for his profuse introduction of gold


  FIG. 117. Cosimo Rosselli. Destruction of Pharaoh’s Army.
    Fresco.—_Sistine Chapel._


  FIG. 118. Perugino. Christ giving the Keys to Peter. Fresco.—_Sistine
    Chapel, Rome._

We have seen in the Sistine Chapel a mechanical and rather perfunctory
symmetry, various clever evasions of an idyllic sort, and a picturesque
disorder side by side. The most ambitious decorative scheme of the time
seems to result in a kind of artistic bankruptcy. But fortunately the
Sistine Chapel contains its own self-criticism and remedy, in the
extraordinary fresco by Pietro Perugino, Christ delivering the Keys to
Peter, Figure 118. Perugino is an Umbrian from Città della Pieve,
thirty-five years old, and with a certain amount of Florentine training.
He has, like Masaccio sixty years before, looked at the art of his times
and found it wanting. He has had the lucidity to see that the malady is
surplusage and disorder. Hence, he argues, the remedy is simplicity and
order. To this he adds a sense of vastness. In this picture the temple
platform, a vastness made by man, is set within the vastness of a river
valley made by nature. The foreground group is arranged in a formal half
military order which is cunningly made easy and flexible by differences
of posture and gesture. Every tilted head and pointed foot has its
reason. Without undue insistence, all the apostles are interested in the
rite which ordains their chief. Here is no casual pleasure ground in
which you may delightfully look about, here is a definite vision of a
momentous act which you must see swiftly, completely, and precisely as
the artist intends you shall see. It is the only well-considered design
among these frescoes. It points the simplest and surest way by which the
exuberance of the Early Renaissance might be disciplined into a noble
order, and within twenty years the lesson was to be reread for all Italy
by young Raphael of Urbino. Meanwhile the somewhat irresponsible
exuberance of the new narrative painting has after all its winning
aspect, is a sign of an energy and enthusiasm that need not so much to
be tamed as to be intellectualized.

In discussing the last twenty years of the fifteenth century in Florence
I am embarrassed by the richness of the field. Beside such typical
figures as Botticelli and Ghirlandaio, we have to do with such sensitive
and morbid spirits as Filippino Lippo and Piero di Cosimo; with Andrea
Verrocchio and a group of imitators of his fastidious manner, notable
among them young Leonardo da Vinci; with a host of secondary painters,
particularly of furniture panels, and small altar-pieces, while if we
consider rather artistic training than accident of birth, we must reckon
with the Florentine achievement the rugged triumphs of Luca Signorelli.
But since the more distinctive and progressive of these artists are
really precursors of the Golden Age, or symptomatic of the unrest that
was its prelude, they may best be treated later. That will leave us only
the painters who are fully representative of the festal moment of
Lorenzo the Magnificent’s greatness—the furniture painters and

Those excesses of vivacity, those extravagances of invention, those
juvenile graces which were a weakness in mural painting, were admirably
in place in the decoration of chests and wainscots. The greater artists
gladly accepted this little work, and some painters painted exclusively
trousseau chests (_cassoni_) for young brides—an enviable occupation,
for surely these fair young creatures had to be personally consulted.
The subjects glorify love, magnify valor, celebrate the festal life of
the day, its pageants, feasts, and dances. Of professional _cassoni_
painters Francesco Pesellino[44] (1422–1457) is the most famous. He is
bewitching in variety and sensitiveness of invention, in refinement of
story telling, and in glamour of color. Two admirable _cassone_ fronts
by him are owned by Mrs. John L. Gardner, Figure 119. They represent the
six triumphs described by Petrarch in so many _Canzoni_. Love, Chastity,
Death, Time, Fame, and Eternity are figured forth much as these themes
were embodied in contemporary pageants, about the year 1450. The
subjects were favorites for _cassoni_ less because of their grave moral
import than because Petrarch was Love’s accredited Poet Laureate.


  FIG. 119. Francesco Pesellino. Cassone Front. Triumphs of Love,
    Chastity, and Death.—_Mrs. John L. Gardner, Boston._

We have in the New York Historical Society the superb salver, Figure
119a, which was prepared against the birth of Lorenzo de’ Medici.
Appropriately it shows knights acclaiming fame. The date is 1448, the
painter of the school of Domenico Veneziano.

We often see the Queen of Sheba reverently approaching Solomon. It is
the admonition that a young bride should seek wisdom. Battles and Roman
triumphs are tediously common. They set a mark of valor for the
bridegroom. Wedding Feasts are almost tautological on a bride-chest, but
they afford charming pictures of the Florence that amused itself.


  FIG. 119_a._> Follower of Domenico Veneziano, perhaps Baldovinetti.
    Triumph of Fame. Birth Salver for Lorenzo de’ Medici.—_N. Y.
    Historical Society._

Mythology often dignifies these painted stories, the reference being
generally to that beauty which is institutional in brides. Thus we have
in a _spalliera_ panel in the Fogg Museum the Judgment of Paris, with
the competing goddesses more modestly clothed than Ovid’s record
justifies. The work is possibly an exceptionally amiable product of
Cosimo Rosselli, and the date may be about 1475. The Rape of Helen,
which was of course due to her fatal beauty, is a common if unedifying
subject for bride-chests. So is Actæon torn by the hounds of the Divine
Huntress for his temerity in surprising Diana at her bath. A delightful
panel in the possession of Mr. Martin Ryerson at Chicago recounts in
many episodes the adventures of Ulysses from his escape from Polyphemus
to his home-coming at Ithaca. The dalliances of the much-experienced
wanderer are by no means concealed, but at least the scene opens with
prominent display of the episode most creditable to him as a married
man, the baffling of the Sirens, and closes with the exemplary figure of
constant Penelope weaving her interminable web.


  FIG. 120. Bartolommeo di Giovanni under Botticelli’s direction.
    Nastagio degli Onesti’s Feast. Spalliera panel.—_Spiridon Coll.,

In furniture painting we are generally in the realm of comedy. But we
touch pathos in Boccaccio’s story of patient Griselda, at Bergamo,
Modena, and elsewhere; while we approach tragedy in the many versions of
chaste Susanna assailed and traduced by the elders, and attain to
notable melodrama in Boccaccio’s grim vision of the spirit lover
eternally harrying the miserable ghost of his merciless lady through the
pine wood of Ravenna. The best of these panels is in the Spiridon
Collection, Paris. The ghostly scene of the chase takes place before the
picnic party, Figure 120, artfully arranged by Nastagio degli Onesti to
prove to his unfeeling lady that there is a penalty in the next world
for being too cruel to a lover in this. The lesson Boccaccio tells us
was effective, and they lived happily together ever afterwards. The
panel was designed by Botticelli and painted by his assistant,
Bartolommeo di Giovanni, for the wedding of a Bini groom and a Pucci
bride in the year 1487.

With it we take leave of Florentine furniture painting, an art too
unpretentious to be considered at length in a general survey, yet too
charming in itself and too representative of the heyday of Florentine
wealth and gayety to be wholly neglected.

Sandro Botticelli and Domenico Ghirlandaio mark in very different
fashions the culmination and the close of the Early Renaissance in
Florence. Botticelli is the poet of its nostalgia. He expresses not its
joyous average, but the erotic and mystical subtilities of Lorenzo de’
Medici’s Platonic Academy, and later the Apocalyptic hopes and despairs
that gathered around Savonarola. He utters a discontent and ideality
which in part are completely contained in his work and in part were only
fulfilled in the rapidly approaching Golden Age. He is aristocratic and
individual, hence we shall consider him in connection with his fellow
_intellectuel_, Leonardo da Vinci. Domenico Ghirlandaio,[45] on the
contrary, is the most completely contented creature, imaginable. He
never even dreamt of anything desirable beyond his Florence. He loved
the local spectacle too dearly to represent it literally. He generally
prettified it, more rarely he glorified it. Its mundane ideals were his.
Towards its people, its young men and maidens and grave merchants and
magistrates he brought, without Fra Filippo Lippi’s sensitiveness, an
equal curiosity and admiration. And Florence fairly deserved the
adoration of such a man as was he. Wisely and generously ruled by
Lorenzo de’ Medici, who exemplified not merely the practical virtues of
the city but also her more engaging vices, author of wise policy and of
wittily dissolute songs; combining the self-respecting appearances of
liberty with the advantages of benevolent despotism, abounding in new
wealth, lavish in pleasure and spectacle, unrestrained by a religion
which was becoming merely a social decency and a form of fire-insurance
against a not impossible hell—Florence had reached a pitch of
complacency and worldly well-being the like of which the world has
perhaps never seen before or since. The menacing sword of the spirit was
already swaying over it in the eloquence of a young Dominican monk at
Ferrara. But Florence trod the primrose path unconscious of the doom at
hand for her. And Ghirlandaio was present to immortalize everything that
was pleasant in her short prime.


  FIG. 121. Domenico Ghirlandaio. St. Jerome. Fresco.—_Ognissanti._

He was born in 1449, his father appropriately being a garland-maker for
gay Florence. He was trained under Alesso Baldovinetti, but prudently
declined to compromise his own bright coloring with the new technic of
oil painting. He studied with profit the ornate narratives of Benozzo
Gozzoli. One of his earliest frescoes, painted about 1470 in Ognissanti,
already reveals the grounds of his later popularity. The vivid portraits
of the Vespucci family so crowd about a Madonna of Pity as to make her
seem quite secondary.

Somewhat later he painted the legend of Santa Fina at San Gimignano.
Here Gozzoli’s simpler vein is imitated, and the effect has a rusticity
befitting the theme. Soon the _bottega_ at Florence flourished mightily.
There were two younger brothers to help, and all commissions were
executed with businesslike dispatch. About 1480 we find him once more
painting for the Church of Ognissanti. His St. Jerome there, Figure 121,
is a beautifully groomed old prelate in a wonderfully kept study. The
Saint is caught in an interval of work, searching perhaps for the right
Latin word to render the Hebrew text before him. He is grave and not too
stern. The colors are vivid without much regard for harmony. Very little
of the fire of the missionary who declined to subject the mysteries of
God to the rules of the grammarian Donatus is suggested. One has only to
look at Botticelli’s St. Augustine, opposite in the church, agonized by
the burden of thought, to realize that Ghirlandaio has cared nothing for
the psychology of his theme, but has given us any comfortable old
Florentine scholar placidly occupied in his _scriptorium_.


  FIG. 122. Ghirlandaio. The Last Supper. Fresco.—_Refectory,

A similar lack of emotional content mars the otherwise delightful Last
Supper, Figure 122, which was painted that same year for the refectory
of Ognissanti. Pathos, not to say tragedy, is carefully kept out of the
most solemn of scenes. The eye is likely to go first to the tree-tops
and flying birds seen above the screen, then it becomes vaguely aware of
a gentle company quietly feasting. Except for a faint trace of
classicism in the costumes, it could be any governing board of any
religious confraternity of the day, decorously enjoying its annual
dinner. The qualities and defects of Ghirlandaio are fully apparent in
this fresco—his lucidity and sweetness, his emotional nullity.

The next year, 1481, Ghirlandaio painted in the Sistine Chapel at Rome
Christ Calling Peter and Andrew. We have already considered this his
nearest approach to monumental design. Shortly before the Roman trip he
married, and when his wife Costanza died, after a decent interval, he
repeated the adventure. The two wedlocks were blessed by nine children
of whom one, Ridolfo, was to become in turn a notable painter. Such
fecundity was worthy of the man who once sighed for a commission to
fresco the seven-mile circuit of the walls of Florence. On his return
from Rome Ghirlandaio decorated the great hall of the Palace of the
Priors, and from now on merely a list of his commissions and patrons
would be a blue book of the old aristocracy and new wealth of Florence.


  FIG. 123. Domenico Ghirlandaio. Miracle of the Spini Boy.

Thus in 1485 he contracted with Francesco Sassetti to do a chapel in the
Trinità with Stories of St. Francis. Sassetti was confidential treasurer
for Lorenzo the Magnificent, about the most important financial position
in the world at the moment; a selfmade and ambitious man. He had tried
in vain to get a finer chapel in a bigger church, but the patrician
vested interests prevented. Still the chapel to the right of the Choir
of the Trinità was no mean place, this Vallombrosan foundation being one
of the oldest in Florence. Ghirlandaio took special pains with the
frescoes, studying with intelligence Giotto’s famous versions of the
stories at Santa Croce. He is most nearly monumental where he follows
Giotto, as in the Death of St. Francis, but he also shows surprising
felicities of his own. The scene where Pope Honorius III constitutes St.
Francis and his fellows a monastic order, is remarkable for not only
fine incidental portraiture, but for a nobility of space composition
faintly anticipating Raphael. One scarcely realizes the subject as such.
All the dramatic features with which Giotto emphasized the eagerness of
the saint, the humility of his companions, the professional dignity of
the Pope and the half-veiled hostility of the papal court are absent.
One’s eyes go over the group to the familiar grandiose prospect of the
Piazza della Signoria at Florence, and one feels that never till now has
he rightly apprehended its amplitude and splendor. Then there are sharp
pleasant surprises. At the left is the ugly and fascinating figure of
Lorenzo de’ Medici and behind him the gross apparition of Francesco
Sassetti himself. And in front there are people coming up from a lower
level, only their heads and shoulders emerging. The swarthy man who
leads is Angelo Poliziano, greatest of humanistic poets, tutor of
Lorenzo’s sons. And the boys are these gifted children destined to be
popes, and granddukes. The combination of great spaciousness and
centrality with casual unexpected graces is so piquant and original,
that I suppose Ghirlandaio may have hit upon it almost accidentally,
owing to the inevitable relations of his Gothic lunette to the
architectural forms in the fresco. In any case Ghirlandaio never again
did anything as impressive. It is his greatest hymn of praise to the
Florence that he so dearly loved.


  FIG. 124. Domenico Ghirlandaio. Adoration of the Magi.—_Innocenti._

In the same chapel is a remarkable picture representing the Piazza of
the Trinità with St. Francis resuscitating a boy of the Spini family,
Figure 123. It has extraordinary bits of invention, but lacks the
organization of the fresco just discussed. The altar-piece for the
chapel, an Adoration of the Shepherds, now in the Uffizi, represents the
graciousness of Ghirlandaio in familiar narrative his willing acceptance
of the panoramic richness of the age, and his exceptional power of
portraiture in these rustics painted from himself and from members of
the Sassetti family. The ruggedness of the characterization suggests
Flemish painting. Ghirlandaio may well have been influenced by the great
Nativity with Portraits which Hugo van der Goes sent down from Ghent, in
1476, to the Hospital Church of Santa Maria Nuova.

Ghirlandaio’s altar-pieces are many. They are brilliant without real
harmony of color; pretty, without much insight, in the types of the
Virgin and youthful saints. The most elaborate of these panels, An
Adoration of the Magi, Figure 124, was finished in 1488 for the
Foundling Hospital dedicated to the Massacred Innocents of Bethlehem. It
still stands on its original altar in the chapel of the Innocenti, and
is a radiant thing. The crowded group of adorers in the foreground is
well knit together. Ghirlandaio had taken a shrewd look at Botticelli’s
Epiphany (now at Petrograd), or at Leonardo da Vinci’s unfinished
masterpiece. By a touching and appropriate invention, Ghirlandaio has
set two of the martyred Innocents kneeling in white robes and crowned
with a saint’s nimbus among the Wise Men. There are, as usual, many
portraits, including Ghirlandaio’s own, by the pillar at the right. The
deep river valley, suggested by northern paintings or engravings,
relieves the somewhat congested character of the figure arrangement. The
girlish Madonna would do no discredit to the front cover of a
nation-wide periodical today. So gracious and ingenious is this picture
that one regrets to note that it is rather cleverly staged than deeply
felt, its manifold prettiness and picturesqueness, of a quite obvious

As Ghirlandaio had moved from success to success, so he was destined to
end in his day of highest glory. In 1485 he signed a contract with
Giovanni Tornabuoni, of the old nobility, to decorate the choir of the
most aristocratic church in Florence, Santa Maria Novella. The subjects,
the Life of the Virgin and St. John the Baptist, were already on the
wall in the guise of water-soaked and ruined frescoes by Andrea Orcagna.
Ghirlandaio provided pastoral scenes with wide landscapes, city
prospects with charming girls plentiful in foreground, rich patrician
interiors with graceful women and their attendants making visits of
ceremony, rare religious events with heavy magistrates and dignitaries
standing inattentively by—everything in short that a prosperous and
well-bred Florentine of the moment was accustomed to think desirable in
beauty, gentleness, or worldly estate. Characteristic are the Salutation
of Mary and Elizabeth, a picture in which the solemnity of the scene, so
magnificently asserted by Giotto at Padua, slips away into mere
spectacle and civility; the Birth of Saint John, Figure 125, with a
young girl of the Tornabuoni family making her visit with her maids, and
all manner of graceful and rich accessories; or again, the Presentation
in The Temple, with a whole tribe of Tornabuonis and Ghirlandaios in
negligent attendance on the sacred rite. These may stand for the whole.
For their casual and mundane richness John Ruskin has poured upon these
frescoes his double-distilled vials of wrath. What he says as to their
superficiality and emptiness of religious feeling is true enough, yet
his denunciatory rhetoric serves but as a trip-hammer to demolish an
eggshell which has after all its iridescent frail beauty. Gentler
methods are better with so gently mundane a creature as Ghirlandaio. The
Lord’s people, as he saw them about him, were good enough for him and
for his art. Criticism should rather insist that, being worldly, he was
not worldly enough to be strong and lucid, but too readily had recourse
to promiscuous richness and perfunctory ideals of prettiness. Still, it
does not befit the age or race whose characteristic art product is the
smiling or pensive girl on the cover of the popular magazine to throw
the first stone at Domenico Ghirlandaio.


  FIG. 125. Domenico Ghirlandaio. Birth of St. John.—_Santa Maria


  FIG. 126. Domenico Ghirlandaio. Old Man and Boy.—_Paris._

Whatever the verdict as to his nominally religious painting, in
portraiture Ghirlandaio is one of the greatest figures of his time.
Portraits of the finest qualities abound in his frescoes, and he has
left a few incomparable things on panel. Few Renaissance portraits have
the authority of the amazing old man, Figure 126, in the Louvre, who
fondles an adoring boy. In this picture, deformity becomes a grace, and
the spiritual and material interpretation are of equal incisiveness and
beauty. As fine in another vein is the profile of Giovanna degli Albizzi
in the J. P. Morgan Collection, Figure 101. It is dated in 1488. It is
the supreme portrait of a Florentine beauty of a passing and lovely
moment. An instant of time, when the old simplicity had enriched itself
with new learning; when with the new humanism the tournament and court
of love persisted; when courtly manners had become an ideal without
freezing into an official code—all this is for a sensitive and informed
observer in this placid well-poised head of an ill-starred Florentine
bride. She died in 1488, a little before the overthrow of the Florence
she typifies. Her accomplished young husband, Lorenzo Tornabuoni,
equally adequate in the tilt yard, the study, or the council hall, lived
on for nine years and shared the death agony of the society of which he
was a chief ornament. When his head fell under Savonarola’s orders, a
splendid chapter of early Florentine humanism closed. Thus these young
people died with their Florence, leaving no descendants, but a memory
eternally fragrant.

The year of Giovanna’s death, 1488, Ghirlandaio, being thirty-nine years
old, took a new wife, and continued diligently at the frescoes of Santa
Maria Novella. Not being overburdened with imagination, he probably
never guessed he was occupied with a memorial of a society already
doomed. Doubtless he followed the fashionable throng to San Marco where
for a year Fra Girolamo Savonarola had been preaching against the
current vanities. Ghirlandaio presumably approved the oratory, with a
comfortable sense that while unworldliness might very properly be
preached, no sensible city could ever be induced to practice it. Perhaps
he never woke up to the appalling fact that Savonarola literally meant
business both evangelically and politically.

So Ghirlandaio’s Florence moved swiftly to its doom, and the while he
saved much of its look and grace on the walls of his choir. For a year a
touchy and ugly little boy who carried the disproportionately great name
of Michelangelo Buonarotti scrambled discontentedly about the
scaffolding of the choir, lending a hand here and there, and learning
the old art of fresco painting. Ghirlandaio of course never knew that in
the restless apprentice he was training a titan. He probably thought him
a nuisance. By the end of 1493 the frescoes of the Virgin and St. John
the patron of Florence were nearly finished, and the altar-piece, an
Assumption, was already planned. At forty-four Ghirlandaio had at once
reached his climax and painted himself down an anachronism. Of course he
didn’t know it; such self-knowledge is mercifully spared us. The luck of
Ghirlandaio was extraordinarily constant. Nowhere is it more signally
shown than in the date of his death. Some inkling that things were going
ill under Piero de’ Medici’s fitful rule must have come to him, but he
died in January 1494, a good ten months before the Medici were expelled,
their palaces sacked, and Savonarola in charge of a Florence terrified
into sobriety.

To those painters from Fra Filippo to Ghirlandaio who caught the look
and unpretentious poetry of Medicean Florence we owe an especial
gratitude. They are not in the direct line of progress and they none of
them reached the heights of art. But for centuries they have never
failed to give delightful information, while infallibly touching average
human sympathies. We do ill to idolize them, for they were after all
rather small men, but we do well also to honor them according to their
accomplishment. They did their particular task of enlivening decoration
with illustrative episodes, with tact, refinement and knowledge; with
all the sympathy of the modestly observant eye. Most of their work had
to be undone before the Grand Style was possible, but it all evinces the
vitality and variety without which as preliminary training the Grand
Style itself could hardly have attained its elaborate and strictly
ordered composure. We do well to take Vasari’s general view of these
artists of the human spectacle—not considering them so much as weak
links in a mighty chain, but as complete in themselves, as a youth may
be complete even though the young man dies in the glory of his
unfolding. Why expect prematurely the sedate splendors of middle age?
Take then this art for what it offers—an unsystematic fairy land which
is yet half real, and keep your higher standards in reserve for artists
who better deserve them. For austere standards are held by a truly
civilized person for purposes of discriminate praise and not as a ready
means of promiscuous blame.

                      ILLUSTRATIONS FOR CHAPTER I

                       PAGEANTRY IN OLD FLORENCE

  The art of Gozzoli and the _cassone_ painters, and, in part, that of
  Filippo Lippi and Ghirlandaio implies the background of public
  pageantry at Florence. There is a precious piece of old doggerel which
  describes the festivities, in May 1459, for the reception of Pope Pius
  II and Gian Galeazzo Sforza, Duke of Milan. The palaces and churches
  were completely hung with rich stuffs, the sumptuary laws were
  suspended in favor of the fair sex; besides many processions and
  feasts, there was bear baiting in the Piazza della Signoria, an all
  night open-air ball in the Mercato Nuovo, and a tournament in the
  Piazza di Santa Croce. I paraphrase the verses which describe the
  pageant of a Triumph of Love which was conducted by ten year old
  Lorenzo de’ Medici. The subject is common in _cassoni_ and _deschi da
  parto_. The boy Lorenzo mounted on a marvellously caparisoned horse
  headed the pageant, and while all the people whispered their

  “As prudent and wise lad he conducted the Triumph of the God of
  Love.... In all triumph he made Cupid come, who so gently smites the
  gentle heart. Upon a car I saw him, and so I tell, most marvellously
  adorned and wrought, how it was made I dare not say. On four wheels it
  was finely adorned with a raised stand and fixed on every corner
  thereof as a column the form and fashion of an angel. And I who saw it
  thought of a castle. Upon the four columns was a great ball and above
  it another ornamented piece. This was gilded everywhere ... so that it
  sparkled like the sun. I cannot tell of such beauties, but I can tell
  about the top part which was most delightful. Above all ... I saw
  stand a youth, with two great wings of many colors on his shoulders
  and all the rest nude, holding that bow with which he wounds all
  hearts, and playfully puts venom therein, so that while burning
  within, nothing shows without. This Triumph so marvellous and so
  invested with colors, its adornment very glorious—with so many pearls,
  carbuncles and sapphires—I couldn’t reckon how many florins that
  Triumph was worth I say.”

  The whole poem is a real treasure of such lore and should be
  translated. It is found in the new edition of Muratori, _Rerum
  Italicarum Scriptores_, Tom. XXVII. The quotation is from page 31,
  lines 1330–1363.

                       THE PROCESSION OF THE MAGI

  On St. John’s Day, 1354, Matteo Palmieri tells us in his _Annals_,
  there were many religious representations of which the most
  interesting to us, as a probable inspirer of Gozzoli’s frescoes, is
  that of the Three Kings from the East. There was—

  “A magnificent and triumphant temple for the habitation [stage
  setting] of the Magi, in which was inclosed an octagonal temple
  adorned with the seven Virtues, and on the east side the Virgin with
  the New Born Christ. [Probably figures in a tableau vivant]

  “The three Magi with a cavalcade of more than 200 horse adorned with
  many splendors came to make offerings to the New Born Christ.”

  New ed. of Muratori, Tom. XXII, p. 173.

  Probably all the artists mentioned in this chapter saw these two
  splendid pageants and many more. Such sights count for much in the
  alert and profusely ornamented painting of the fifteenth century.

                            PAGEANTS IN 1466

  Piero de’ Medici “in order to give men something to think about which
  should take their thoughts from the state, and a year having passed
  since Cosimo had died, seized the occasion to enliven the city and
  ordered two elaborate celebrations, following the others that are
  customary in that city. One which represented, when the three Kings,
  the Magi, came from the East behind the star which showed the birth of
  Christ; the which was of such pomp and so magnificent, that in
  arranging and holding it the entire city was occupied for several

  Machiavelli, _Istorie fiorentine_, Lib. VII, cap. xii.

  “The other [festival, Machiavelli continues] was a tournament (for so
  they used to call a spectacle, which represented a cavalry skirmish)
  where the first youths of the city exercised themselves against the
  most famous knights of Italy; and among the young men of Florence the
  most in repute was Lorenzo, first-born son of Piero, who not by favor,
  but by his own valor carried off the first honours.”

  Lorenzo was then a likely lad of seventeen.


             _A Trick for getting a Family Chapel in 1488_

  The choir of Santa Maria Novella was under the patronage of the Ricci
  family, but they were poor and had been unable to repair the
  waterstained frescoes of Orcagna, which had been painted a century and
  a quarter earlier. So Giovanni Tornabuoni got permission to redecorate
  the chapel on condition of setting the Ricci arms “in the most
  conspicuous and honourable place in that chapel.” And so the contract
  was drawn. Domenico Ghirlandaio actually set the Tornabuoni arms in
  huge scale on the side pilasters, whereas he painted the Ricci arms
  half a foot high on the door of the ciborium in the centre of the base
  of his altar-piece. The rest in Vasari’s words (de Vere’s translation,
  Vol. III, p. 224):

  “And a fine jest it was at the opening of the chapel, for these Ricci
  looked for their arms with much ado, and finally, not being able to
  find them, went off to the Tribunal of Eight, contract in hand.
  Whereupon the Tornabuoni showed that these arms had been placed in the
  most conspicuous and honourable part of the work; and although the
  others exclaimed that they were invisible, they were told that they
  were in the wrong, and that they must be content, since the Tornabuoni
  had caused them to be placed in so honourable a position as the
  neighborhood of the most Holy Sacrament. And so it was decided by that
  tribunal that they should be left untouched, as they may be seen
  today. Now, if this should appear to anyone to be outside the scope of
  the Life that I have to write, let him not be vexed, for it all flowed
  naturally from the tip of my pen. And it should serve, if for nothing
  else, at least to show how easily poverty falls a prey to riches, and
  how riches, if accompanied by discretion, achieve without censure
  anything that a man desires.”


  FIG. 127. Leonardo da Vinci. Cartoon of Madonna and St.
    Ann.—_Burlington House, London._

                               CHAPTER V

  Leonardo da Vinci as assimilator of the Realistic reforms—Botticelli
      as reactionary—His beginnings under Fra Filippo and
      Pollaiuolo—Height of his realistic achievement in Adoration of the
      Magi—Assertion of his fantastic vein in the Primavera—The Dante
      drawings and the distraught style of the later works, its æsthetic
      value—Minor Eccentrics: Filippino Lippi—Piero di Cosimo—Leonardo
      da Vinci, his gradual advance towards Chiaroscuro method, his
      ideals—His work with Verrocchio—The Adoration of the Kings, its
      disciplined richness—Cartoon of St. Ann—First Madonna of the
      Rocks—Leonardo at Milan. The Last Supper—At Florence again. The
      Battle Cartoon. Mona Lisa—Second Sojourn at Milan. The St. Ann,
      his influence—At Rome, in France and the end—Leonardo’s successors
      at Florence; Fra Bartolommeo— Andrea del Sarto—Agnolo
      Bronzino—Pontormo—Decline of Florentine independence and of the

The task before an ambitious young Florentine artist about 1475 was one
of assimilation. Pretty much all the knowledge essential for the new
painting existed, but in scattered shape. Masaccio had modernized
Giotto’s monumental patterns, and had found for himself the new
structural values of light and shade. Domenico Veneziano had introduced
the handier method of oil painting, and, with Piero della Francesca, had
attempted novel refinements in paler tonalities. He and Paolo Uccello
had worked out the mysteries of linear perspective. Andrea del Castagno
had achieved a systematic and learned anatomy. Antonio Pollaiuolo had
added to this an extraordinary knowledge of the human body in violent
action. Andrea Verrocchio had demonstrated that these realistic
strivings were compatible with grace. It had occurred to no one to
combine all these discoveries until Leonardo da Vinci reached his early
maturity. The synthesis worked out by him between 1480 and 1498, the
dates of his unfinished Adoration of the Kings and Last Supper
respectively, is the foundation on which Raphael built. Leonardo da
Vinci is the pioneer of the Golden Age.

It will help us to realize the greatness of his accomplishment to study
first the career of a contemporary and friend, the exquisite artist,
Sandro Botticelli. Botticelli, like Leonardo, came under the spell of
Verrocchio’s fastidiousness, and went some distance in the direction of
the new monumental beauty. Then abruptly he turned aside along solitary
lines quite unprecedented, but akin to the mystic past of Siena. His
great refusal of progress, his broken and eccentric career, give point
to the humanistic centrality and social authority of Leonardo’s
painting. The two men represent opposite escapes from the superficial
brilliance of the art dominated by Ghirlandaio. Leonardo moved out
towards the future, and has lived on as a fine inspiration of academic
painting ever since. Botticelli withdrew into himself, and has survived
flickeringly in the occasional admiration of kindred spirits. Both
express, if in very different fashion, the profound discontent that
preluded a new era of art. It will help us to perceive how great
Botticelli is in his solitary poetry, to consider two younger
contemporaries, Filippino Lippi, his pupil, and Piero di Cosimo, an
intelligent imitator of Leonardo, both of whom, sharing Botticelli’s
discontent, also sought escape in self-assertiveness of an eccentric
sort. As the modern age begins to dawn, the modern temperamental artist
appears. The _bottega_ begins to be a studio. Thus Sandro Botticelli[46]
has a double importance for us—as an exquisite artist, and even more as
the first individualist who strained sorely at the bounds imposed by the
collective taste, required a select public, and painted to please

There is nothing of this romantic isolation in his origins. He was born
a tanner’s son, in 1444, and brought up in the smiling country towards
Careggi. At thirteen he was still at school, hence was better educated
than the average painter. Soon he was put with a goldsmith, very likely
his brother Antonio, whose nickname—Il Botticello, the cask,
paradoxically attached itself to the creator of the Primavera. Before
his fifteenth year, 1459, young Botticelli was apprenticed to Fra
Filippo Lippi, the most sensitive eye of the time. Young Botticelli
presumably painted on the later frescoes at Prato, and I believe may
have been permitted to design certain of the figures in The Feast of
Herod. Two early pictures of the Adoration of the Kings, both in the
National Gallery, London, show us how whole-heartedly Botticelli adopted
his master’s discursive style, how sedulously he sought variety and
richness of gesture and facial expression. But these crowded
compositions lack Fra Filippo’s direct geniality. They are already
imagined before they are observed. Fra Filippo went to Spoleto some time
before 1468 and soon died there. So Botticelli was perhaps on his own
resources from his twenty-fourth year, though he was not inscribed in
the Company of St. Luke till 1472. What is certain is that he was
fortifying himself by imitation of far more strenuous artists than his
master. The delicate incisiveness of Verrocchio appears as an occasional
inspiration, the rugged power of Antonio Pollaiuolo dominates his
pictorial expression for many years.

A group of early pictures shows strikingly the interplay of realistic
influences with the assertion of his own originality. The delicately
expressive Madonna, Figure 128, in Mrs. John L. Gardner’s collection, is
based on Filippo Lippi’s Madonna in the Uffizi, Figure 103. The general
arrangement is the same. But what a change in feeling! All the overt
picturesque relations which Fra Filippo loved—the girlish Virgin praying
to her child, the chubby baby clutching at its mother, the impish angel
grinning out of the picture—all that is eliminated. The Virgin wistfully
reaches for the ear of wheat signifying her Son’s body that must be
broken. A well-grown, reverent angel, enigmatically smiling, offers the
grapes and wheat, symbols of the sacrament. The relation is between the
Madonna and this mysterious acolyte. Their consciousness of a prophetic
rite gains emphasis and pathos from the only unconscious thing in the
picture, the graceful babyish action of the Divine Child. The forms of
mother and Child are those of Filippo Lippi, but with elimination of
superfluous ornament and commonplace action. The reserved,
half-concealed smile of the angel and his strange beauty derive from
Andrea Verrocchio. You may trace it from his youthful David to his
disciple’s Mona Lisa. The date of the picture is merely a good guess,
but since it is free from the influence of Pollaiuolo, it may be before


  FIG. 128. Botticelli. Chigi Madonna.—_Mrs. John L. Gardner, Boston._


  FIG. 130. Botticelli. Judith.—_Uffizi._

In that year the brothers Pollaiuolo undertook the painting of seven
figures of the Virtues to decorate the wainscot behind the magistrates’
bench in the Mercanzia, the mercantile court. Evidently they were
pressed for time, for they assigned one panel representing Fortitude,
Figure 129, to Botticelli. John Ruskin has celebrated in eloquent phrase
this frail embodiment of the courage of the mind. “Worn, somewhat, and
not a little weary; instead of standing ready for all comers, she is
sitting—apparently in revery; her fingers playing restlessly and
idly—nay, I think, even nervously about the hilt of her sword. For her
battle is not to begin today, nor did it begin yesterday. Many a morn
and even have passed since it began, and now—is this to be the ending of
it? And if this—by what manner of end?”


  FIG. 129. Botticelli. Fortitude.—_Uffizi._

The passage beautifully illustrates the odd blend of purest insight and
casual chatter in Ruskin’s criticism. Forget that the sword is a
mace—Ruskin is never right in such trifles. Fortitude sits merely
because her sister Virtues do so in the imposed decorative scheme. The
nervous action of the hands is chiefly an elegance. Yet the whole
characterization expresses with singular felicity the alert and
thoughtful charm of this Fortitude amid the stolid effigies of Antonio
and Piero Pollaiuolo. Ruskin, as often, is most wrong where it least
matters. We have more prosaic business with the Fortitude—to note the
pouting snub-nosed type, and the elaborate ornaments, which are Fra
Filippo’s, the solidly drawn but ill-shapen foot, which is Pollaiuolo’s,
and the sensitiveness, which is Botticelli’s own.

A still more complete assimilation of Pollaiuolo’s energetic mode is
revealed in the admirable little Judith, Figure 130, which must have
been painted towards 1475. The faces are still Fra Filippo’s, and he
could have invented the eager doglike obsequiousness of the maid. But
the springy action and the fine, lean ankles and feet, the bony,
expressive wrists and hands, the minutely featured landscape, are
completely in Pollaiuolo’s vein. Botticelli’s specific invention is the
sublimation of the theme—Judith’s sense of walking in a dream after the
unspeakable ordeal of the night. And the flutter of the robes in the
clean morning wind has a stylistic grace that amounts to Sandro’s

As he came into his thirty-fifth year, 1478, Botticelli painted two
pictures so different that without conclusive evidence we should hardly
believe them the work of a single mind and hand. The Adoration of the
Kings, Figure 131, with the sturdy Medici portraits, sums up all
Botticelli’s realistic achievement, shows him the greatest and most
typical Florentine master of the moment, and proves that his way was
easy to such triumphs of popularity as Ghirlandaio was soon to enjoy
uncontested. The other picture, The Allegory of Spring, evinces a
strange and to many repellant originality, indulges dreams not of this
earth, appeals to experiences inaccessible save to the æsthetically
elect. It was an earnest of neglect and unpopularity, the opening of a
solitary road that no artist would travel save under inner imperious

The Adoration of the Kings is composed after the fashion of Fra Filippo
and rendered with all the improvements of Pollaiuolo. The group of the
Mother, Child and Joseph is set high and well back, the minutely drawn
ruin, with its grace of wall-flowers, and the peacock on the ruined edge
of the masonry are again pure Fra Filippo, as are the juvenile charm of
Our Lady and the alertness of the Bambino. In Fra Filippo’s best style,
too, are the flanking groups of portraits which swing back towards the
central motive, leaving the centre free. Here are great personnages set
forth with dignity and force. Masaccio also has counted for much in
these portraits, and Antonio Pollaiuolo for more. The Mage kneeling by
the Child is Piero de’ Medici, the one in front with his back turned is
Cosimo. The beautiful young king addressing him is probably Giuliano,
lately slain by the Pazzi conspirators. Lorenzo is unmistakable at the
left with his proud military pose, his hands resting on a great sword.
At the right, robed in yellow, is the fine manly figure of Botticelli
himself. There are many other portraits of the most authoritative
accent, but we have no means of identifying them.


  FIG. 131. Botticelli. Adoration of the Magi.—_Uffizi._

Artistically this magnificent little picture suffers from two centres of
interest. It is an ambiguity, however, that would have troubled no
contemporary Florentine. He was willing to take the sacred group for
granted and to gaze delightedly at the figures of his rulers and
benefactors. In technical expression the picture is established through
light, shade, and color, its linear quality counting for rather little
in the effect. It is a logical and attractive combination of all the
realistic experiments of fifty years past, no single feature being
over-emphasized. It is prose of a most convincing and eloquent cadence.


  FIG. 132. Botticelli. Primavera—Allegory of Spring.—_Uffizi._

Before turning to a picture which is all poetry, the Primavera, we may
profitably consider Botticelli’s portrait, the robust body, the moody
sensual face. He was a celibate. One need not espouse the vagaries of a
Freud to know that such men, when gifted with imagination, dream strange
dreams. The Primavera, Figure 132, was painted for the Medici Villa of
Castello, where later Botticelli placed his Birth of Venus and
Signorelli his Pan as God of Music. All these pictures represent that
sudden homesickness for the idyllic scenes of classical antiquity which
fell upon the Italian world about this time. The _cassone_ painters,
working for work-a-day people, had represented the mythologies as so
many jolly stories. For the deeply cultured circle of the Medici, these
retrospections were fraught with sadness. The life where the gods moved
among alluring nymphs and amusing fauns seemed infinitely far off and
infinitely desirable. Through Horace and Virgil and Theocritus one could
glimpse it tantalizingly. Modern poets, like Angelo Poliziano, could
recover it faintly in Greek and Latin, or more rarely in Italian verse.
But the Italian loves to see, and here was the difficulty. The brown
soil had not yet yielded up the great store of old marbles. The actual
look of the bygone Golden Age, which within half a century was to become
matter of archæological certainty, was now matter of hesitant intuition.
One could brood over the old poets, arrange masques in which lightly
robed Tuscan girls played the nymph or goddess—whatever expedient was
used to live oneself back, the visual ingredients of the dream were
inevitably local and Tuscan. Such pictures as the Primavera represent
this transient and appealing mood. They tremble with unfulfilled
aspirations, breathe exquisite nostalgias, perpetuate as no other
records do the very soul of the humanists that surrounded Lorenzo the


  FIG. 133. Botticelli. Primavera. Detail. Venus, Flora, Spring,

For the fundamental decorative arrangement of the picture, white forms
swaying before a vertical paling, Botticelli skilfully borrowed the
motive of Pollaiuolo’s engraving, the Ten Nudes. Figure 109. From
Pollaiuolo, too, come the nervous contours, the wiry ankles, and slender
feet, and the curiously sprung knees. The old poets Lucretius and Horace
give just the hint for the persons of the idyl. Lucretius tells of the
coming of Spring blown in by the West wind, of Flora strewing flowers
before, Figure 133, with Venus and her son as witnesses. And Horace
tells how the three graces with ungirt robes dance before Mercury. But
Botticelli has contributed what gives the work its penetrating, sad
charm. His is the gloomy screen of orange trees and olives, the carpet
of spring flowers, the billowing lines that sweep across the panel. It
is conceived in two great rhythms of motion. The wave that is suave in
playful Spring becomes crisp and sharp in the robe of Flora, and is
nearly arrested in the heavy drapery of Venus, it passes with her raised
hand to the shimmering veil of the dancing Graces, and dies in the
firmly set form of Mercury, whose uplifted arm carries the movement into
the steady background, which stabilizes it all. Even to mention the
particular finesses and beauties of this fantastically lovely scene
would require an essay. I have made a fuller if very imperfect analysis
in my book, “Estimates in Art.” Now it is best to note merely that the
only joyous forms are Zephyrus, Spring and Cupid, the rest are sad or
enigmatically grave, as is Flora. Though they celebrate the renewal of
life through love in springtime, those whose immortality has witnessed
many springs carry in their faces and bearing the old knowledge that
life and love are constantly reborn under death sentence, and that what
is renewed spring after spring has but

                   “The frail duration of a flower.”

Again and again the poets have told this to unregarding man. Nobody has
made it visible save Botticelli.

I suppose only a score of people at the time knew how fine the Primavera
was, and a few hundred in the world today may know it. The thing was
hidden from the public, and Botticelli was painting himself into the
most obscure sort of glory. In his remaining thirty-two years, there are
a few reversions to his realistic vein, but his most characteristic
works merely carry on the recondite charm, the acute and personal
rhythms of the Primavera.

In 1480 was painted the Faust-like figure of St. Augustine. Figure 134.
One feels in the gnarled features and hand clutching the breast the
burden of lifelong meditation on the terrible mysteries of free will and
God’s eternal decrees. It is the effigy of one who has agonized in
thought, and is still seeking by that Calvary of the mind a tense and
hazardous peace.

The next year Botticelli went to Rome to take charge of the decoration
of the Sistine Chapel. We have already considered his best fresco there,
Moses in Midian. Figure 114. Of the two others—the Temptation of Christ,
and the Destruction of Korah—we need only add that they are immensely
rich in details, effective as narratives, and as decorative arrangements
surpassed on the Sistine walls only by Signorelli and Perugino.


  FIG. 134. Botticelli. St. Augustine. Fresco.—_Ognissanti._


  FIG. 135. Botticelli. Madonna with six Angels.—_Uffizi._

There are rare moments of something like serenity in Botticelli’s
troubled career. One was when he painted the Pallas and the Centaur, and
another when he designed the loveliest of his round panels, the Madonna
with Six Angels, in the Uffizi, Figure 135. Unlike the more famous and
popular Magnificat, it is in immaculate preservation. The composition is
subtler and less obvious, the worn and burdened look of the Madonna
oppressed by her tragic fate, more specific and appealing. The late
Herbert P. Horne, Botticelli’s best biographer, sets the picture about
1487. About the same time were done those nuptial frescoes for Lorenzo
Tornabuoni and his bride, Giovanna degli Albizzi. Torn from the villa
walls at Careggi, they are now among the treasures of the Louvre.
Lorenzo is represented as received by the seven liberal arts, Giovanna
as presented to Venus by the Graces. We have seen in the last chapter
how these young people shared and illustrated the doom impending over
Medicean Florence. Botticelli captures, if not their look, at least a
fine symbol for their as yet unchallenged beauty and discretion.


  FIG. 136. Botticelli. Birth of Venus.—_Uffizi._

A little earlier perhaps he added to the Primavera at Castello the Birth
of Venus, Figure 136. It is conceived in the same bold rhythms, which
this time converge on the slight, smooth form of Venus and are steadied
by the horizon and the trees. Compared with the Primavera, the whole
thing is less rich, varied and naturalistic. Everything is more
schematic and conventional; gold is freely used without realistic
pretext. The wistful mood is still that of the Primavera. Venus comes to
earth with no joyous expectation. She glimpses unfulfilled desires, the
eternally deferred goal of earthly love. She obeys a destiny with
resignation and a pensive humility—almost asks pardon for the confusion
she is fated to produce among mortals. These involutions and refinements
have nothing to do with the whole-souled sensuousness of classical
antiquity, they have everything to do with that scrupulous balancing of
divine and earthly love which was the standing problem of the
Neo-Platonists surrounding Lorenzo the Magnificent.


  FIG. 137. Botticelli. Dante and Beatrice in Paradise.—_Print Room,

During the ’80s Botticelli was much occupied with the illustration of a
great manuscript of the “Divine Comedy.” Figure 137. These outlines in
silverpoint retouched with the pen find their equals only in the best
Far Eastern art. The line whips and dances and swirls across the
parchment, halting and turning to define a detail, then speeding anew on
its task of suggesting motion. Figures that float, groups that march or
dance as one, trailing smoke of incense—these volatile features are
rendered with the most energetic delicacy. And the most incredible
episodes of Dante’s poem gain credence with the eye through the deftest
use of the pure line. It hardens to suggest bone and sinew, tightens to
express joints that bear weight and preserve balance, loosens and
gallops to give the flutter of drapery over twinkling limbs. And all
this is done with a thin pen line that hardly changes thickness or
blackness—done with a touch as light as a feather and yet as firm as the
swing of a draughtsman’s compass. The study of such drawings is a
liberal education in the æsthetics of pure line.

These drawings freely distort the actual forms for the sake of greater
expressiveness. Such distortion is the characteristic mark of
Botticelli’s latest style. One may note it in the furniture panels which
tell the story of St. Zenobius and the tragic lot of the Roman heroines,
Lucretia and Virginia; in the Annunciation of the Uffizi and the Last
Communion of St. Jerome, in the Metropolitan Museum. The new manner is
characterized by habitually vehement expression. Intensity becomes
morbid, effective withal. We have to do with tortured but very fine
nerves. What personal history is involved we can merely surmise. We
know, however, that Botticelli followed eagerly the theocratic
revolution of Savonarola and suffered deep chagrin when the attempt to
make Florence a city of God collapsed amid sordid political jealousies.
His art becomes that of a _Piagnone_, a Savonarolist, a contemner of the
careless world. His method changes. The figures are unmodelled and flat,
they hurtle wildly and glisten metallically before airless landscapes.
Most of the hard-won Florentine realisms drop out, and the linear
rhythms recall the Gothic poignancy of Simone Martini.

Perhaps the finest picture of this sort is the Calumny of Apelles,
Figure 138, painted about 1490, and now in the Uffizi. It recreates
after an anecdote of Lucian, made current by Leonbattista Alberti, a
lost masterpiece by Apelles, which was painted to convince Alexander the
Great of the evil of calumny. An innocent prisoner is haled before an
ignorant judge. Calumny bearing a torch drags him by the hair. Treachery
and Deceit act as her tiring maids. The sordid figure of Envy is her
guide to a judge into whose asses’ ears Ignorance and Suspicion whisper
their counsels. Naked Truth pleads in vain for the victim as Remorse
turns to her with sullen helplessness. By a pictorial irony, the
sinister whirling group is set in a stately court adorned with statues
of magnanimous heroes of old, and one glimpses through the rich arches a
cloudless sky and an untroubled sea. Very rich in imaginative content,
ornate in its use of color and gold, sharp and definite in its rhythms,
discreet in its expressive distortions, this is perhaps the masterpiece
of Botticelli’s late style.


  FIG. 138. Botticelli. The Calumny of Apelles.—_Uffizi._

But one regards with surely almost pleasure and with more lively
sympathy the little Nativity in the National Gallery, Figure 139, a
celestial idyl in sentiment, and of greatest beauty of muted coloring.
Above the shed where the Virgin Mother worships her Divine Child, a
dancing ring of angels hovers. They hold olive branches from which
depend martyrs’ crowns. Wreathed shepherds, figures from some Theocritan
idyl, kneel outside the shed. Below, angels eagerly embrace three
youthful crowned figures, while impish baffled fiends lurk in crevices
of the rocks. The three figures may well typify Savonarola and his two
fellow-martyrs. A Greek inscription gives the date of 1500 and hints at
the fall of Savonarola and the shame of the French invasion. There is a
tenderness about the picture that recalls the Primavera, but it is more
elusive and unearthly, more implicit in every bit of the workmanship
itself than dependent on explicit symbolism.

What Botticelli could achieve in stark tragedy at this time is shown in
the Piet of the Munich gallery, a masterpiece which many critics have
quite unaccountably ascribed to an inferior imitator. It is of
tremendous effect. The compressing rocks seem to confine a grief too
great to be liberated in space. A shudder concentrates itself upon the
fair, youthful body of the dead Christ. One assists at a cosmic
mourning, the intolerable tension of which is mercifully relieved in the
swooning form of the Mother of Sorrows. The colors are sombre, the whole
effect fairly sculptural, though mass is attained more by linear accents
than by systematic light and shade. Balance and pose obey not a law of
physics but one of feeling.


  FIG. 139. Botticelli. Mystical Nativity.—_London._

The picture may be one of Botticelli’s latest. He lived on till 1510, a
lonely and indulged eccentric. He witnessed the youthful triumphs of
Raphael and Michelangelo at Florence, and saw the superb maturity of his
friend Leonardo da Vinci. He saw the artistic world move away from
himself towards ideals of gravity and decorum and disciplined
monumentality. He could have followed that high road himself. Instead he
had sought a romantic self-expression leading to an _impasse_. At least
he had made the _impasse_ singularly thrilling. Being a wag as well as a
poet, he had his compensations for neglect and doubtless he never
regretted his impolitic choice. Among artists of febrile and romantic
fibre he is one of the greatest. To know him thoroughly is an
incomparable exercise in exquisite feeling.

Taken in its social aspect, Botticelli’s later style is a protest
against the current, superficial, narrative and decorative modes.
Against prevailing successful commonplace, he opposes a highly refined
idiosyncracy. While the more stolid artists of the end of the century
were content to rework Ghirlandaio’s glittering vein, the more sensitive
spirits sought distinction in eccentricity. Eccentricity appears
whenever an old style has gone stale and a new one is imminent. It is
the natural expression of souls too independent to conform and too weak
to reconstruct. The grotesque was in the air. Luigi Pulci in the
“Morgante Maggiore” burlesques the ideal romances of chivalry, and mixes
the old clear categories of good and evil. Lorenzo de’ Medici at once
mimics and caricatures the simplicity of the peasant pastorals. Cynicism
runs riot in the short-story writers and in the new comedy. There is a
confusion of standards, a new complexity of appreciation, that at once
bewilders and allures delicate spirits. Thus they really express such a
moment of hesitation better than stronger or more ordinary artists. So a
Post-Impressionist of today may have a high symptomatic importance even
though his art be null, and a Filippino Lippi and Piero di Cosimo really
tell us more about the time-spirit than a Leonardo da Vinci.

Filippino[47] was born in 1457, at Prato, and presumably received his
first instruction from his father, Fra Filippo. At fifteen we find him
an orphan and studying with Botticelli, whom he probably assisted at
Rome in 1482. At twenty-seven, in 1484, he had the extraordinary honor
of completing Masaccio’s frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel. Doubtless he
had his great predecessor’s sketches to aid him. With a somewhat lighter
accent, he imitated as he might Masaccio’s simple and massive
construction in light and shade. Filippino’s Peter before the Proconsul,
Figure 140, and Crucifixion of St. Peter are of a gravity and weight to
have passed for Masaccio’s with good critics. But the fine portraits are
distinctive for the later date, as are the portraits and the graceful
kneeling boy painted opposite in the fresco left unfinished by Masaccio.


  FIG. 140. Filippino Lippi. St. Peter before Nero. Detail of
    Fresco.—_Brancacci Chapel._

As a work of pious assimilation, Filippino’s frescoes are amazing; all
his more original work is so much falling-off from his beginnings. His
characteristic sensitive prettiness may be best observed in the
altar-piece in the Badia representing St. Bernard’s Vision of the
Virgin. Figure 141. As he writes her praises, she approaches his desk
escorted by eager angels. The scenic picturesqueness of the landscape,
the accentuated prettiness of the faces are characteristic.
Superficially like Botticelli, Filippino is less selective and always
more sentimental. He is rudely shaken out of a mode in which he is
attractive by the advent of the new giants of painting, Leonardo and
Signorelli. In his last work, painted about 1502 for the Strozzi Chapel
of Santa Maria Novella, he spends himself in superfluous and ineffective
inventions,—trophies, archæological ornaments. To lend impressiveness
and tragedy to the martyrdom of St. Philip and St. James, or to the
miracle of Drusiana, Figure 142, he has recourse to hideous contortions
of mouth and brows, to creaking joints and bursting muscles, to clamor
and sensationalism of all sorts. It is the bankruptcy of the gentle
spirit who only twenty years earlier had shown himself almost a great
artist in the Carmine, and only ten years earlier had proved himself an
accomplished decorator, at the Minerva, Rome. And the pity of this
plunge into competitive and hopeless exhibitionism is that Filippino was
a man of taste and character, a collector of classical antiques, an
obliging and generous spirit. He died in 1504 at the moment when
Leonardo da Vinci was planning a real and successful sensation for
Florence, in The Fight for the Standard.


  FIG. 141. Filippino Lippi. St. Bernard’s Vision.—_Badia._


  FIG. 143. Piero di Cosimo. Primitive Man. Spalliera
    panel.—_Metropolitan Museum, N. Y._


  FIG. 142. Filippino Lippi. Raising of Drusiana by St. John.—_S. M.
    Novella, Florence._

If Filippino became an eccentric through pressure of circumstances,
Piero di Cosimo[48] was one by nature. Born in 1462, he soon came under
the dullest of masters, Cosimo Rosselli. To Cosimo’s four hopeless
frescoes in the Sistine Chapel he added certain vivacious features, and
there he learned to know some of the ablest artists of his day. Always a
bachelor and recluse, he pursued serious studies in imitation of such
stern realists as Antonio Pollaiuolo and Luca Signorelli. He lived
sordidly in his _bottega_, literally from hand to mouth, on the eggs
which he boiled in his glue pot, in weekly batches. Alone he planned
strange mythologies, bestially pungent, and there he thought out odd
terrible pageants which shocked and enthralled his Florence. And as he
made these bizarre inventions, he mocked them and himself. His
admirations were shifting—now Signorelli, again the Flemish realists and
Leonardo: incompatible attractions.


  FIG. 144. Piero di Cosimo. Cleopatra.—_Chantilly._

You may sense his quality in two wall panels, now in the Metropolitan
Museum,[49] made for some palace. Piero had read over the legend of
primitive man as told by Ovid, and quickly his mind bred phantoms. First
he conceived a state where dominion trembled between man and the brute
creation. Savage men with the unfair advantage of fire are exterminating
the beasts, among whom fight those half-men, the centaurs, Figure 143.
In the companion panel the mood changes abruptly from strife and tumult
to the quaintly pastoral strains of a stone-age minuet. We assist at a
troglodyte water-party. Lovely woman dominates the new scene. The now
domesticated centaur proudly bears her. In courtly fashion skin-clad
warriors hand her into a rude pleasure raft which may perhaps waft the
picnickers to the joys of a cannibal feast. These inventions have
immense fantastic power, and their real originality by no means
precludes the suspicion that the artist is smiling at his own ingenuity
and at our complaisance.


  FIG. 145. Piero di Cosimo. Death of Procris.—_London._

Take again his Cleopatra, Figure 144, at Chantilly. The snub-nosed
Florentine beauty airs her abundant charms in a romantic landscape,
while the asp does his by no means disagreeable duty. What a travesty of
the dignity of Plutarch, and how fetching it is as distinguished

Cautiously and perhaps grudgingly, in the early years of the new
century, Piero follows the improvements of Leonardo. This influence is
palpable in the Rescue of Andromeda, in the Uffizi. The chained princess
carelessly displays her appetizing attractions, while the leering and
hungry dragon lurches on the beach and surveys his prey. High up in the
sky is hope, in the brisk, knightly figure of Perseus. A musical party
lolls deliciously on the strand, equally prepared to enjoy a heroic
rescue or a monster at feeding time. We are in the superbly
irresponsible world of the fairy tale, and the thrilling _raconteur_ has
his clever tongue in his cheek.

Exceptionally, as in that wistful poesy, The Death of Procris, Figure
145, at London, Piero is serious enough. The girlish body lies very
quiet amid meadow flowers. A puzzled faun and a more comprehending hound
are very touching mourners amid the unregarding beasts and birds of a
tranquil lake-side afternoon. Such refinements of sentiment are often
the compensation for an unstable spirit. The vein is rare in Piero, who,
aside from his mythological ironies and quite conventional religious
pieces, is also a vivacious portraitist as the galleries of New Haven,
Conn., the Hague, and London attest.

Piero lived on till 1521, surviving both Leonardo and Raphael. The
greatest artistic effort of modern times had spent itself before his
eyes, and he had mostly been content to be witty. He represents at least
a fine scorn of his flimsy training, and remains a consummate type of
the artist who lives, like a bear in winter, on his own fat.

After a long detour, we are once more on the high road. Perugino, with
his simple and gracious symmetries, had shown the painting of the end of
the century what ailed it. But his cure was too obvious to be acceptable
until a youngster of Raphael’s entirely modest intelligence should come
along. The reform, as often in other than artistic affairs, had to be
made from within, and was conducted by one who had much sympathy with
the random richness of the Early Renaissance style, Leonardo da

Leonardo’s discoveries, pursued with the most patient and gradual care,
shocked no one and were quickly taken up. He was nearly thirty before he
reached consciousness of his mission, and having attained his artistic
end, he dropped painting, with a kind of scorn, for mathematical and
scientific investigation. In his admirable “Tractate on Painting” he has
left the fullest and most eloquent records of his ideals. The first is
that the painter must know clearly what he is about. “Without good
theory no good practice is possible.” Next the artist should be in a
filial relation to nature, admiring and imitating her directly, and not
through the eyes of other artists. As to the main object of painting,
Leonardo wavers between two definitions. Repeatedly he insists that that
painting is greatest which through the postures of the body shows the
emotions of the soul. As often, he uses a more technical definition—the
chief business of painting is to create a sense of relief or projection
where there is none. This relief is effected by delicate and accurate
distribution of light and shade. Light and dark are conceived in a
double fashion, as factors in relief and as offering intrinsic beauties
in their gradations. We have a refinement on the method of Masaccio,
which is merely structural and dramatic and without much intrinsic
charm. But the new beauty of chiaroscuro soon turns out to be
incompatible with the old beauty of frank color. Pictures become dusky
and mysterious, tending to black and white values. Ever since Leonardo,
academic painting has had the sore limitation of regarding shadow as
negation of color. It is the defect of his teaching and practice.

On broader matters, however, Leonardo is profoundly right. Seeing is a
mental process and should be selective. Represent all the muscles
emphatically, and your nude will look like a sack full of nuts. Accuracy
is necessary, but is of no value without accompanying dignity and grace.
Choose the most gracious aspects of reality, the pervasive moderate
light of evening rather than the sharp glare of the overhead sun.
Observe deaf-mutes so that you may learn the possibilities of expression
through gestures. Seek equilibrium and an active and vital balance
whether in the pose of the single figure or in the relations of the
figures to each other. Get the action right, and afterwards add the
details. These are some of the precepts which Leonardo scribbled off
about the year 1500 when he was nearing fifty and his work as a painter
was almost over. He is really describing the principles under which,
while accepting the richness and variety of the early Renaissance style,
he had once for all put it in order.

Of course this was a very gradual process. To the end Leonardo retained
something of a primitive quality, and he was by no means precocious. He
was born in 1452, the lovechild of a peasant girl of Vinci and a young
Florentine notary, Piero da Vinci. His earliest recollections must have
been of the hills and distant mountain prospects of his native hamlet of
Vinci, between Florence and Pisa. But he was soon taken into his
father’s home at Florence, and given an education which hardly exceeded
the proverbial “Three R’s”. Just when he was put with the painter and
sculptor, Andrea Verrocchio, is uncertain, but it can hardly have been
later than Leonardo’s thirteenth year, 1465. As a painter, Verrocchio
exists for us chiefly in the work of his pupils. As a sculptor, however,
he is a definite enough figure. His aim was plainly to infuse the new
realism with an aristocratic elegance. What a young patrician is his
David composing himself for the ordeal with a restrained well-bred
smile! There is a splendid dandyism in his valor. Or consider the
Madonna in terra-cotta, with her ornate head-dress, rich brooch, and
carefully arranged robe, her almost too sweet self-possession. She is a
clue to the fastidiousness of Verrocchio. Again consider the proud hard
face and the marvelously firm and delicate hands of the unknown lady
Verrocchio cut in marble. These things are dominant for the early
development of Leonardo, as the alert, powerful and aggressive Colleoni
monument is for his later heroic creations. Something of Verrocchio’s
scrupulous and eminently dilatory character also passed over to his
brilliant pupil. Verrocchio remained a bachelor and wholly devoted to
his art, yet he took eighteen years to give to his famous bronze group
of Christ and St. Thomas its dignity and sensitive feeling. Leonardo
remained some ten years or more with Verrocchio, painting many works
that are lost to us, and a few, I believe, that we may identify. In this
most contested matter I follow in the main the views of Dr. Sirén.


  FIG. 146. Leonardo da Vinci, Head at Left; Verrocchio, Head at Right.
    Details from Verrocchio’s Baptism.—_Uffizi._


  FIG. 146_a._> Verrocchio and Leonardo. Baptism of Christ.—_Uffizi._


  FIG. 147. Leonardo da Vinci under Verrocchio’s Direction.

For many years Leonardo ventured little on his own account, following
with docility the directions of his master. The single painting which we
may with certainty ascribe to Verrocchio, the Baptism of Christ, Figure
146a, in the Uffizi, already bears traces of Leonardo’s hand. The
general composition is borrowed from an insignificant panel of
Baldovinetti’s. The stalwart ugly forms derive from Pollaiuolo.
Delightful features added in oils by Leonardo are the exquisite angel at
the left, Figure 146, and the vaporous distance and mountain skyline. We
may surmise that these improvements were added about 1470 to a picture
started several years earlier. One other picture was designed by
Verrocchio and finished after his death in 1488 by his assistant,
Lorenzo di Credi. This Madonna, in the cathedral of Pistoia, affords an
excellent contrast between the puffy forms of Lorenzo and the firm and
living contours of Leonardo. The famous Annunciation in the Uffizi,
Figure 147, seems a kind of joint product, the actual painting being by
Leonardo, the badly balanced composition and intrusive heavy lectern, as
well as the rather cheap attitude of surprise of the Virgin,
representing a perfunctory mood of Verrocchio. The vista of remote
mountains hanging pale in the blue sky is such as only Leonardo could
have created. The delightful Gabriel also seems wholly his invention.
The composition again rests on one of Baldovinetti’s, at S. Miniato, and
the date of the picture may be about 1475. Of about the same date is a
Madonna with an Angel in the National Gallery, which may well be a
composition of Verrocchio interpreted by Leonardo. The note of sweetness
is a little forced, as in most work of this kind. We meet Leonardo in
his own right a little earlier, in a pen sketch of a broad landscape
dated in midsummer summer of 1473, Figure 148. Its spaciousness and
schematic handling of horizontals ally it to the landscape backgrounds
we have been considering. The last work of this Verrocchian character is
the Portrait of a Girl, in the Liechtenstein Gallery, Vienna. Here we
are in a field where Leonardo and his master are almost
indistinguishable, but the picturesquely broken background, the bit of
landscape, and the ease of the contours, speak for the younger man. As
late as 1476, his twenty-fifth year, Leonardo was still with Verrocchio.
He probably set up his own _bottega_ a year or so afterwards.


  FIG. 148. Leonardo da Vinci. Landscape. Pen Drawing.—_Uffizi._


  FIG. 149. Leonardo da Vinci. Annunciation.—_Louvre._

There followed four or five years of eager experiment, much being
planned and rather little carried to completion. Relieved from the
pressure of a master, actual painting seems to have become irksome. He
loves to sketch, to turn his designs over until they reach perfection,
leaving them in the condition of the swiftest and most accurate
notations. Lack of system and paralysis of will are already apparent.
For about two years of this joyous and irresponsible creation he
remained a primitive. Such he is in the idyllic little Annunciation of
the Louvre,[51] Figure 149, which should be for its fluent technic no
earlier than 1476. He takes the motive which he had previously done
under restrictions, reduces it to a symmetrical order, rejects
distracting details, floods it with warm light breaking through ragged
apertures of the trees, and invests it with a penetrating humility and
grace. The little picture, which many critics set too early, is really
Leonardo’s declaration of independence. It shows features which
anticipate his mature style—a combination of a severe geometrical
symmetry in figure composition with a romantically strange setting and

Of less import is the unpretentious little Madonna of the Flower,
recently discovered, and in the Hermitage, at Petrograd. It is
authenticated by numerous composition sketches. Its vivacity and
youthful lightness of effect are entirely in Verrocchio’s manner,
nothing is new but heavier shadows and more emphatic modelling.


  FIG. 150. Leonardo da Vinci. Pen Sketches for the Madonna of the
    Cat.—_British Museum._

On a sheet of drawings in the Uffizi, which characteristically combines
with sketches of men’s heads studies of machinery, we read “This day I
began the two Virgin Marys.” The day is effaced, but it is a month in
1478, ending in _-bre_—September, October or November. One of these
Madonnas is, no doubt, the Madonna of the Flower.[52] As to the other we
have no certainty, but the sketches of this time show at least five
madonnas in process of invention. A Madonna holding a mischievous Child
who hugs a writhing cat, a Madonna with a Dish of Fruit, a Madonna
kneeling before the Child, a theme later developed into the Madonna of
the Rocks; a Madonna seated on the Ground, and a Madonna seated in the
open with the Christchild and St. John. Dr. Jens Thys thinks the last
composition may be the one actually begun as a picture, since such early
Raphaels as the Belle Jardinière seem to imply such a picture as their
model. We do well to turn from such speculations to the marvelous
sketches for these Madonnas, Figure 150. Nothing firmer, lighter or more
charming can be imagined. Of the line, thinned to a hair or widened to a
blot, there is the completest control. These little figures, a couple of
inches high at the most and often of thumb-nail minuteness, may be
enlarged to life size without losing in structure or character. Nothing
shows better the sheer fecund genius of Leonardo than these sheets,
crowded with figures, scribbled with his right-to-left handwriting, and
slantingly shaded from upper left downwards, after the fashion of a
lefthanded draughtsman. They show how Leonardo worked in spurts of
inspiration, creating a dozen lovely compositions and contented with
none. They represent so many tensely joyous half-hours, with doubtless
long intervals of other activities and withal of sheer brooding and
unrecorded observation. They help one grasp the spasmodic and
discontinuous quality of Leonardo’s genius—why the actual execution of
pictures was ever a matter of pain and drudgery to him. Up to his
twenty-ninth year he apparently made no prolonged effort of any sort,
but spent himself furiously in separate investigations. Then he pulled
himself together for a great picture, and though it too never got beyond
the underpainting, it broke the new path to the Golden Age.

For several years Leonardo had turned over the theme of an Adoration of
the Child in his sketch books. These desultory inventions were brought
abruptly to a focus in March 1481, when he agreed to do an altar-piece
for the monks of S. Donato at Scopeto. We have the best circumstantial
evidence for identifying this piece with the unfinished Adoration of the
Kings, now in the Uffizi. When we live ourselves into this dusky and
mysterious sketch we step out of the early Renaissance into a new,
ardent, rich and ordered region of invention such as the world had not
witnessed since the glory of Greece faded. The composition went through
at least three main stages. At first, as we see from a pen study in the
Bonnat Museum, at Bayonne, an Adoration of the Shepherds was considered,
the Madonna kneeling over the Christ between flanking groups of
worshippers. The scheme was rejected as too thin and obvious. A picture
of Lorenzi di Credi’s shows us its limited possibilities. Then the
picture became an Adoration of the Kings, with the thatched shed, much
action in the foreground group and a ruined amphitheatre in the
background. This sketch in the Louvre, Figure 151, contains all the
elements of the picture, but an extraordinary work of clarification and
refinement remained to be done. The figures were studied and restudied
till they reached both highest expressiveness and individuality,[53] and
an exact relation to the dense and intricate articulation of the
foreground group. Often there are half a dozen separate studies for each
motive. The central group was more closely massed till it became a rose
of eager faces and flickering hands and kneeling forms pressing inward
towards the Child. To increase this concentration, a mound is erected
behind the group shutting it off from the wide background. To steady the
group, the Madonna is no longer swung athwart the motion, but her nearly
straight position becomes a sort of axis carried up by the trees above.
In the richness, variety and animation of the compact group of adorers,
Leonardo has met the Early Renaissance on its own ground and outdone it.
In the wider setting he still observes the old precepts, but in a
profounder and more significant sense. He has swept the traditional shed
aside and opened up a world, a world furtive and active and combatant in
its own wilfulness—playing, hiding, and fighting amid the crumbling
ruins of old civilizations, and before distant towering crags which were
there before civilization or man himself was; a world oblivious of the
sublime mystery accomplishing itself in the kings who pay homage to a
Babe. What an ironic substitute for the joyous pastoralism with which
contemporary artists invested their pictures of the Epiphany!


  FIG. 151. Leonardo. Sketch for Adoration.—_Louvre._


  FIG. 152. Leonardo da Vinci. Adoration of the Magi.

The Adoration of the Kings, Figure 152, is the richest, most
complicated, most beautifully ordered picture of its century; even
Leonardo was not to surpass it simply as a composition. Like all rich
things it will bear many analyses. You may consider it as a triangle,
with the reciprocal forms enriched, or, with Dr. Thys, as the
combination of two radiating motives, one centred on the Madonna’s face,
the other on the soft alert body of the Child. Such analyses are only
important as temporary aids to understanding of the main fact that in
the making of such a masterpiece a clear and subtile geometry is
involved. Later Leonardo was to declare that there is no science which
cannot undergo mathematical demonstration, and he probably would have
added—no art. Of his own art at least the saying is true. It may have
been not so much his native indolence that arrested a work which had
claimed months of passionate preparation at the moment when creation was
at its height, as the conviction that it would lose something if fully
realized. One can see how he loved the summary touches of dark and
light, the swift, sufficient evocation of body and soul which he had
learned from Masaccio. He may have hated to cover up such work, and a
critic today may well be in doubt whether the gain in finishing it would
have atoned for the loss. Or Leonardo da Vinci may already have been
called to Milan and a new artistic life. However that be, the monks of
Secopto, after a long wait, turned to Filippino Lippi, who had already
undertaken one lapsed commission for Leonardo, and he promptly achieved
an Adoration of the Kings which only shows how inimitable Leonardo was,
and how little mere richness counts in any picture.

For two years between 1481 and 1483, there is silence. It seems to me
that in this time we may set the crowning of his early work in the
Madonna of the Rocks at the Louvre and the Cartoon of St. Ann at London.
The Madonna of the Rocks, Figure 153, is the logical outcome of a half
dozen Adorations which we may trace through the drawings of 1478. A
sheet of sketches in the Metropolitan Museum shows him turning the theme
over, rejecting the established profile arrangement of Fra Filippo, and
hitting on the formal pyramidal pattern which appears in the picture
itself. There the pyramid is felt not merely in plane, but also in
depth. The forms and faces are superbly tense without either rigidity or
the fluency of Leonardo’s later work. The setting is primitive, with
minutely studied textures of rock and crisp shapes of wall-flowers.
Everything derives from Fra Filippo and Botticelli, but with new
meaning. The romantic strangeness of the setting, the glimpses of sky
and opening in the rock, the sifting in of light from the heart of the
picture itself, the broad contrast of the formality of the figure
arrangement with the picturesque wildness of the setting—all this is
purest Leonardo and represents the culmination of many experiments. One
can trace this idea of irregularly broken light and an informal screen
as foil for a geometrical pattern, from the little Annunciation of the
Louvre, through the unfinished St. Jerome of the Vatican. The Early
Renaissance steps into the background, where it belongs. Leonardo never
rejects it; he fulfils it with an exquisite sense of proportion.


  FIG. 153. Leonardo. Madonna of the Rocks.—_Louvre._

If the first Madonna of the Rocks was painted before 1482, in Florence,
so probably was the cartoon of the Madonna with St. Ann, Figure 127,
perhaps the most precious single work that Leonardo has left us. The
inwardness of the relation between the two women is in the mood of the
Adoration of the Kings, single motives suggest the drawings for the
Madonna of the Cat. Later Leonardo was to lend to the motive greater
complication and formal elegance, somewhat at the cost of emotional
insight. Pictures of intense and natural feeling Leonardo does not
produce after his thirtieth year. Instead we have dramatic objectivity
in one phase, and in another, exquisite subtilities, a calculated
graciousness sweet to morbidity.

What drew Leonardo from Florence to Milan we do not surely know.
Probably he was called directly by the Duke Lodovico Sforza to undertake
the colossal equestrian statue of his father Francesco. Moreover,
Leonardo seems to have achieved notoriety at Florence without gaining
much confidence or achieving much success. After all, he had rather
little to show for his genius—just his sketch books and his good
intentions in unfinished masterpieces. He seems, too, never to have
mastered the practice which ever brought the best commissions, fresco
painting. Thus he had every reason to seek new fortunes.

He heralded his coming to Milan with the most truthfully boastful of
letters in which he arrogated to himself all ability as an inventor,
civil and military engineer, painter, sculptor, and architect; and he
entered the presence of Lodovico bearing a silver lute wrought in the
form of a horse’s skull. This dramatic entrance was the forecast of
arduous duties as an entertainer. He sang, told anecdotes and fables,
arranged pageants and masques, conducted debates on his art—in short,
accepted the thousand and one duties and distractions of a courtier.

He painted the portraits of the Duke’s mistresses, and it is possible
that we have the girlish figure of Cecilia Gallierani in the lady with
an Ermine[54] at Cracow. The forms and feeling are entirely like
Leonardo’s work in the early eighties. He agreed to do an altar-piece
for the Church of San Francesco, and delivered it only after a delay of
twenty-three years. This most postponed of pictures is the version of
the Madonna of the Rocks now at London. Meanwhile Leonardo’s constant
concern was “the horse,” as he calls it. For seven years he worked at a
rearing horse with a fallen foe trodden beneath. It is shown in many
drawings. It was too sensational a theme to please him in the long run.
So in 1490, spurred by the risk of losing the job, he restudied the
horse, using the walking motive, which had come down from classical
antiquity. Eventually the clay model was set up before the Sforza
castle, just in time for the invading French archers to make a target of
it. The rider was never even definitely planned. The whole project
remained a chagrin to Leonardo even after the horse itself had
disappeared. One day in Florence he civilly accosted Michelangelo who
turned on him with the taunt—“Thou who did’st model a horse and could’st
not cast it in bronze.”

Amidst the distractions of the court, the irksomeness of the rashly
undertaken Sforza monument, and the increasing passion for scientific
research, Leonardo managed to carry through his single monumental work,
the Last Supper, in the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

For three years Leonardo worked spasmodically on the Last Supper, and it
was finished in 1498. The design had been most carefully elaborated. He
started with the customary arrangement of the apostles in pairs, John in
Jesus’ bosom—a refractory motive, and Judas in sinister isolation on the
near side of the table. Almost by accident he fell upon the effective
grouping of the apostles by threes. Then he set himself to giving in
expression and gesture the maximum emotion that could be contained
within a monumental design. He eliminated the old casual accessories and
made all the lines of perspective converge on the face of Christ. He
gave to all the figures a classical gravity, though admitting many
varieties of age and character.

Thus even in its ruined estate The Last Supper, Figure 154, is perhaps
the most impressive picture in the world. The moment is that when Christ
says “One of you shall betray me.” The arrangement is in five great
balancing waves. From the Christ there is an outgoing gesture of
resignation and love, from the apostles converging, incoming waves of
horror, amazement, curiosity and indignation. Each undulation is double.
Extended arms or pointed hands check the motion where it is excessive or
connect the separate groups. Only Judas is out of the converging rhythm.
He swings back defiantly pondering his part. Highly agitated in details,
the whole is held within a noble and pathetic decorum. It is the very
ideal of a Renaissance composition—dense, rich, energetic, varied, yet
unified by a severe and calculated pattern which subordinates to its
purpose the most diverse components. Raphael can only imitate it in the
lower part of the Disputa, and monumental design ever since has gone to
school with it.


  FIG. 154. Leonardo da Vinci. Last supper.—_S. Maria delle Grazie,

It was unhappily painted in tempera, not in oils as older accounts
say,[55] on the dry wall, and it soon began to deteriorate. What we see
today is merely the wraith of it, yet a wraith that imposes itself and
moves us as few better preserved masterpieces do.

In the year 1500 the French overran Lombardy, and, Leonardo, after
wandering in Northern Italy and a martial episode as engineer for
conquering Cæsar Borgia, returned, in 1503, to his native Florence. He
is fifty and already in spirit an old man. His always limited will power
has given out, he broods incessantly over mathematical and physical
lore, wastes himself over fantastic inventions. His exhibit is only a
cartoon, now lost, for a St. Ann. He makes portraits by proxy, but
paints, himself, only under peculiar incentives. Such he found in the
commission for a great battle-piece for the Priors’ Palace and in the
personality of Mona Lisa.


  FIG. 155. Leonardo da Vinci. Sketches for the Battle of
    Anghiari.—_Windsor Castle._

Early in the year 1504 he began to work on the cartoon for the Battle of
Anghiari. He chose the incident of a cavalry fight for the standard. He
composed a whirl of horses and infuriated riders, hacking and slashing
about a flag—a literal picture of bloodlust at its height. The ability
he expended on this atrocious theme may be sensed in a dozen preparatory
sketches, Figure 155. The portion which he actually painted on the wall
is represented only by inferior copies. The original soon faded from
deficient technical methods. The old copies tell us that this great
piece, while the marvel of its day, was sensational and highly
exhibitionistic. We need not too much mourn its loss. The admiration it
evoked was that of an age eager for novelty and responsive to display.


  FIG. 156. Leonardo. Mona Lisa.—_Louvre._

While working on the battle-piece, Leonardo met the young Neapolitan
wife of Francesco del Giocondo and began her portrait, Figure 156. She
had lost children and was habitually sad. He employed musicians to charm
the inscrutable fascinating smile to her face. He set her demure and
watchful before a romantic expanse of river plain rimmed by blue alps.
Against this wild charm of nature, he made Mona Lisa a symbol for all
that is cultured, self-contained, sophisticated, civilized. Simple
people instinctively dislike her, and are right. Subtle people adore
her, and are also right. Such as wish poetic commentary on her
mysterious beauty may find it for themselves in Walter Pater’s admirable
essay. They will do well to temper his eloquence with Kenyon Cox’s[56]
just if prosaic observation that this portrait is simply the finest,
most accurate, and subtle bit of modelling in the world. Its mystery is
perhaps merely one of amazing vision and impeccable workmanship. The
truth may well lie between two interpretations, each of which is valid
in its own field. Had there not been some extraordinary spell in the
woman herself, Leonardo, now well weary of painting, would hardly have
studied either her soul or her modelling with such tenacity.

During his brief sojourn in Florence, Leonardo did cartoons for two
designs of Leda and the Swan, his only mythological picture. One
represents her standing, the other crouching. If we may trust the
inferior imitations, in which alone we know these subjects, their
calculated sensuousness was almost cloying. Their mood is that of his
least agreeable imitator, Sodoma.


  FIG. 157. Leonardo. Madonna with St. Ann.—_Louvre._

In May 1506 Florence lent Leonardo to Charles d’Amboise, the French
viceroy at Milan, and there he spent the most of the next five years.
The Franciscans had been biding their time, and under legal duress made
him finish the Madonna which he had promised twenty-three years earlier.
Thus the second Madonna of the Rocks, at London, was painted somewhat
against the grain. It has more simplicity and breadth than the earlier
version and shows improvements in the position of the angel. It also
lacks the minute and painstaking delicacy of its original, reveals a
tired hand and mind. Otherwise Leonardo achieved in painting only the
third version of the Madonna and St. Ann, Figure 157, now in the Louvre.
The interweaving of the figures is compact and masterly, the solution of
the difficult problems of the two heads consummately clever. It has
passages of the utmost loveliness, like the foot of the Madonna, but
there is some suspicion of oversophistication, and Leonardo never
summoned the energy to finish it. Painting little himself,—for he was
busy with canals, architecture, and the never finished equestrian
monument of Trivulzio,—Leonardo gave his stamp to the entire Milanese
school. Such pupils as Boltraffio, Cesare da Sesto, Andrea Solario, his
old partner, Ambrogio de Predis, and his intimate, Francesco Melzi,
readily grasped his mannerisms, and filled Italy with Leonardesque
pictures of inferior inspiration. More robust and independent spirits,
like Bernardino Luini, adapted his manner intelligently to the needs of
mural painting. Lombardy under his influence for a moment seemed to vie
with Florence and Rome.

In 1513 Leonardo was called to Rome by the new Pope Leo X, Lorenzo de’
Medici’s son, Giovanni. It was the moment for artistic ambition to flame
in one who felt himself a great painter. Michelangelo had recently
unveiled the Sistine ceiling, and Raphael had completed the Camera della
Segnatura. Leonardo was sixty-one, when a painter should be at his best.
Yet he plunged himself into scientific experiments, perpetrated strange
practical jokes on his patrons, produced nothing but disorderly notes,
and after two wasted years left the repute of one rather an amateur
magician than an artist.

Having lived a wanderer, it was appropriate that Leonardo should die an
exile. Francis I, an enthusiastic patron of Italian art, called him to
France and settled him honorably in the Château of Cloux, near Amboise.
We hear of him as immensely learned and venerable, but palsied, and
dependent on the affectionate care of his pupil Melzi. He died on the
morrow of Mayday 1519 at peace with the church, leaving money to sixty
poor persons who should follow his body with candles to the tomb.
Doubtless you could have marked in that pitiful procession many of those
gnarled, toothless and haggard faces which Leonardo formerly loved to
sketch in the intervals of his endless quest of beauty. As we study the
marvelous drawing of himself in old age, Figure 158, we may surmise that
he was glad to go. It is hard to see in it the courtier who bore the
fantastic silver lute to Lodovico, the artist who charmed a smile from
the weary and cautious face of Mona Lisa. One sees a man immensely old,
though at an age generally robust and cheery—one who has tried to crowd
many lives into one and has paid the inevitable penalty.


  FIG. 158. Leonardo da Vinci. His own portrait.—_Turin._

Broken and intermittent as it had been, Leonardo’s painting had sufficed
to show the way. He had substituted mystery of light and shade for
allurement of frank color, study of the subtler and finer shades of
emotion for obvious characterization, had founded modern portraiture. He
had shown how to express power and passion with delicacy, had combined
the richest animation and variety with monumental severity of design.
After him the art of painting was never to be the same again. Its
standards became ampler and more classic. Stolid men like Fra
Bartolommeo immediately accepted his principles of composition and so
did miraculously alert intelligences like Raphael’s. His mere passing
contact and tradition inspired that admirable language of light and dark
that became poetry in Giorgione and Correggio. The good and the harm he
did is active today in thousands of academies and art schools. His is
assuredly the finest intelligence that ever applied itself to the
painter’s art, and if he failed in will and in fecundity, he has
impressed himself upon posterity as no other Italian painter save
Titian. His art had its limitations, but its capacity for influence, to
which he added the thoughtful eloquence of his written word, seems
limitless; and his glory is imperishable.

Nowhere does the superiority of Florence show more clearly than in the
attitude of her artists to Leonardo. Where his Milanese followers aped
his superficial mannerisms, his Florentine admirers studied and
assimilated his construction in light and shade and his principles of
geometrical composition. Unhappily the early years of the sixteenth
century were a slack time in Florence. Such transitional painters as
Piero di Cosimo, Granacci, Franciabigio, Il Bacchiacca, and Ridolfo
Ghirlandaio were not men to carry forward Leonardo’s discoveries, but
they and others, at least paid him an intelligent homage and sensibly
clarified their practice under his influence. Greater intelligences like
Fra Bartolommeo and Andrea del Sarto not merely adopted Leonardo’s
canons, but even at certain points criticized them. Both saw the
drawback of Leonardo’s passionate concern with chiaroscuro—that it
flooded the canvas with colorless shadow, tending to reduce the palette
to black and white. Both men then therefore kept their rich shadows
colorful. Both worked for a more compact and intricate composition as
well as for graceful, abstract poses. In these latter endeavors they
simplified and sharpened principles which Leonardo himself only rarely
carried to their logical extreme.

Leonardo retained certain primitive qualities. He seldom reduced his
compositions to dense arrangements of the figures, loving to allow elbow
room and delighting to open up landscape backgrounds. And while in the
“Treatise on Painting” he advocated elaborately balanced and
counterpoised poses, in practice he usually sought an excuse for them in
action. A consummate stylist, he achieved style on a basis of function.
The pose, in his own words, must express “the emotions of the soul.”
Right here his ablest followers took issue with him. Posture with them
no longer expressed specific or individual emotion, but abstract
beauties of grace, dignity or grandeur. The figures no longer do or feel
anything, they are arranged as the general composition and mood of the
picture require. Such gradual advance towards pure style heralds the
advent of the High Renaissance.


  FIG. 159. Fra Bartolommeo. God appearing to two Saints.—_Lucca._

Of the somewhat stolid and occasionally sentimental sublimity of Fra
Bartolommeo[57] nothing much need be said except that it was a formative
influence on young Raphael. The Dominican monk is an impressive and
amiable figure personally. Working solely for the glory of God and the
profit of the Convent of San Marco, perturbed by the tragic fate of his
cloister mate, Savonarola, he strove incessantly for a fuller color and
a greater dignity. In his numerous Holy Families he is stately in a
conventional way, nowhere more so than in the unfinished design for a
Madonna with St. Ann, in the Uffizi. Occasionally, in such pictures as
the Deposition of the Uffizi, and the Madonna of Pity at Lucca he
achieves poignant, one is tempted to say operatic effects, forecasting
the mood of the Baroque. Lucca also affords in the great picture God
Adored by Two Saints, Figure 159, a fine example of this painter’s
simple and massive compositions. In the fresco of The Last Judgment,
which, being ruined, is better represented by Copies, Figure 160, we
find an elaboration, in Leonardo’s sense, of the simple symmetries of
Perugino. It is the precedent for Raphael’s monumental frescoes at Rome.
His short career, from about 1495 to 1517, fell on evil times for
Florence. In happier days he might have harmonized more perfectly the
stylist and the lyrical dramatist that, as it was, never quite came to
terms in his grave and noble personality. Yet to have mediated between
Leonardo and Raphael would seem glory enough for any painter, and it was
also no slight service to borrow for Florentine painting, rapidly
becoming starved of color, something of the colorful richness of
Giovanni Bellini and Giorgione.


  FIG. 160. Fra Bartolommeo. Copy of Lost Fresco of Last

“The Perfect Painter” was what the Florentines called Andrea del
Sarto,[58] and he merited the title. He produced no masterpiece of the
first order, but his Work is singularly uniform on a high level. Its
chief qualities are dignity and grace with a great richness of color.
The deep shadows are warm and full of dusky light, the stylistic poses
of the figures always easy, and the weaving of the complicated groupings
ever tasteful and harmonious. To the refractory art of fresco painting
Andrea brought a richness, depth and variety of color that others hardly
attained in oil painting. Only Luini in the north came near him in this
regard. In short he is a consummate technician, carrying his art as far
as skill and taste unillumined by sheer genius will reach.


  FIG. 161. Andrea del Sarto. Birth.—_Annunziata._

Little of his excellence can be laid to his early training. Before 1500
he was working with Piero di Cosimo, and Andrea’s youthful frescoes of
the miracles of S. Filippo Benizzi, in the fore-court of the Annunziata,
show the loose and animated arrangements and the exaggeration of
picturesque landscape features characteristic of his master. But Andrea
learned rather of the time-spirit than of any other master. By 1514 his
art is complete and one may see its flowering in the frescoes of the
Birth of the Virgin, Figure 161, and the Madonna of the Sack, Figure
162, respectively in the fore-court and in the cloister of the
Annunziata. It is a sumptuous and grave kind of design redeemed from
heaviness by its exquisite balance of color masses, and from
conventionality by the hint of portraiture in the artfully disposed


  FIG. 162. Andrea del Sarto. Madonna of the Sack.—_Annunziata._

Scores of times Andrea repeats these perfections in the great
altar-backs required for the new Renaissance chapels. The Four Saints in
the Pitti, the Madonna of the Harpies in the Uffizi, Figure 162a, the
Enthroned Madonna at Berlin may serve among many to illustrate his
accomplishment in this new vein. Somewhat reminiscent of the heavier
monumentality of Fra Bartolommeo, these great pictures add a personal
and disquieting note from the presence of the moody, handsome wife,
Lucrezia whose caprices and infidelities are the tragic element in an
otherwise even life.


  FIG. 162_a._ Andrea del Sarto. Madonna of the Harpies.—_Uffizi._

Andrea in his later years won new glories but added no new note to his
art. The monochrome frescoes in the Cloister of the Scalzo representing
the Life of St. John Baptist merely show the old gravity somewhat
exaggerated. The series which extended over many years (1515–1526) is
uneven, and many of these perhaps overestimated compositions are plainly
of student execution. Without his color, Andrea seems somewhat coldly
academic. It was precisely this quality of stylistic grandeur, however,
that appealed paradoxically to the romantic monarch, Francis I. He
called Andrea to France in 1518 and kept him there in honor for a year.
Had Andrea possessed any of the capacities of a teacher and theorist, he
might have inaugurated the Renaissance in France. As it was he remained
merely a harbinger of such inferior but more influential spirits as Il
Rosso and Primaticcio who a few years later were to found the School of

Often the portfolios of a great technician are more thrilling than his
major works. This is the case with Andrea del Sarto. His numerous
sketches in red chalk, have an athletic charm which his painting lacks.
Others have drawn differently in this medium, but no one has drawn

When Andrea died in 1531, “full of glory and domestic trials,” as Vasari
recounts, the normal development of Florentine painting ended, and
Florence had already seen her artistic star dimmed by the rising
splendors of Venice and Rome. Artistically she became a city of wit and
ingenuity, chronicling and criticizing art rather than producing it.
Moreover the obsession of Michelangelo’s sublimity worked havoc with his
dilettante imitators. Some of these have the grace of lucidity, like
Agnolo Bronzino, who (1502–1572)[59] practiced a reactionary sort of
portraiture based on the old tradition of tempera painting. In sheer
beauty of surface, enamel one is tempted to call it, he is little
inferior to his great German contemporary, Hans Holbein, and his sense
of character is only less keen because less individual. In the haughty
patricians surrounding the person of Cosimo, the first grandduke, he
found congenial sitters, Figure 163. In the narrow field of portraiture
he is nearly in the first rank, while in his rare mythologies and
religious pictures his limitations appear painfully. He was a vicious
person, a cold æsthete, with few of the generous virtues that nourish
the soul. Yet in his flinty way he was quite perfect, and as one of the
first professionally unmoral artists he cannot be neglected by the
psychological critic.


  FIG. 164. Pontormo. The Deposition.—_S. Felice._

A more appealing figure is his master, Jacopo Carrucci, called from his
birthplace Il Pontormo.[60] His was a tender and deeply religious spirit
with the poet’s capacity for elation and melancholy. In his
altar-pieces, such as the Deposition, Figure 164, at San Felice he seeks
and achieves a positive pathos. Influenced by Michelangelo’s sublimity,
he converts it to more specific and psychological ends. Often he is
restless and over-emphatic as in the frescoes of the Passion in the
cloister of the Florentine Certosa, or in the strangely complicated and
contorted little picture of the Martyrdom of St. Mauritius and his
Legionaries, in the Uffizi. In such work he moves towards the absolute
expressionism of an El Greco, preluding also the more conventional
emotionalism of the Baroque. As a portraitist he had no equal at
Florence except his pupil Bronzino. Often the sensitiveness and
moodiness of his characterizations recall his Venetic contemporary,
Lorenzo Lotto. Even when he is robust he is sensitively psychological,
as in the superb portrait of a Halberdier, Figure 165. Above all he was
a powerful and subtle draughtsman whether with pen or chalk. His line
writhes in a fashion at times sinister, at times singularly blithe, and
his figure sketches have something of the imaginative thrill of the
figure studies of Blake. For the grandducal palace of Poggio a Cajano,
Figure 166, he did in a huge lunette pierced by a great round window a
most original decoration for the odd triangles at the base. The
unconventional fields are filled each by a rather small figure
energetically posed and surrounded by greenery. The thing is at once
monumental and pastoral and its freedom and tonality almost as modern as
a Besnard. I would willingly dwell longer on so sympathetic an artist,
but can only refer the interested reader to Dr. F. M. Clapp’s two
authoritative volumes.


  FIG. 163. Bronzino. Eleonora of Toledo and her son.—_Uffizi._


  FIG. 165. Pontormo. The Halberdier.—_C. C. Stillman, N. Y._

For a century and more after Pontormo’s death in 1556 there are still
occasional artists of talent at Florence, but there is no longer a
Florentine school. The masterpieces of Michelangelo were at Rome, those
of Raphael widely scattered. Conscious of her decline, Florence begins
to import artists—the Flemish portraitist, Sustermans; the Venetian
decorator, Luca Giordano. One of her own abler painters, Francesco
Salviati, attaches himself to the Venetian manner. Being an academic
city, Florence eschews the rugged naturalism of Caravaggio, but has no
longer vitality enough to find a substitute of her own. In the late
sixteenth century her fresco painting sinks to the pompous emptiness
represented by Giorgio Vasari, or by the hardly better mythologies of
the brothers Federigo and Taddeo Zuccaro. In the seventeenth century she
still can produce an idyllist of great romantic and sensuous charm in a
Francesco Furini and a genial illustrator in a Giovanni di San Giovanni.
But such names only suggest the incoherence of the times. Florence is no
longer a main current but an eddy, and what small flood-tide still runs
courses in the more resolute academism of Bologna, which is to be
capable of inspiring a Poussin; and in the raw naturalism of Naples,
which is about to give lessons to a Velasquez.


  FIG. 166. Pontormo. Frescoed Lunette.—_Poggio a Cajano._

                      ILLUSTRATIONS FOR CHAPTER V


  Reversing the maxim _ut pictura poesis_, the Renaissance believed that
  painting should be poetical. Indeed the term _poesia_ is commonly
  applied to all painting of a mythological or idyllic sort. Angelo
  Poliziano’s unfinished but very popular poem on the joust of 1468 is
  lavish in descriptions, of which the painters made use. Botticelli
  surely got more than a hint for the Birth of Venus from stanzas
  xcix-ci of _La Giostra_, though the mood of the picture is wholly
  Sandro’s own and unlike the pagan joyousness of Poliziano.

                              “One saw
  Born in the sea, free and joyous in her acts,
  A damsel with divine visage
  Driven ashore by the ardent zephyrs
  Balancing on a shell; and it seemed the heavens rejoiced thereat.”

  “True the foam and true the sea you would have said
  True the shell, and the blowing of the winds true.
  You would have seen the gleam of the Goddess’ eye
  And the heavens laugh about her, and the elements.
  And the Hours in white garments on the strand,
  And the winds toss their spreading soft locks.”

         ·       ·       ·       ·       ·

  “You could swear that you could see the goddess coming from the waves
  Wringing out her hair with her right hand
  And with the left covering the sweet mount of desire,
  And the sand, once trodden by her feet,
  Clothing itself with grass and flowers.
  Then with joyous and expectant glance
  You would have seen her clasped by the three nymphs
  And wrapped in a starry robe.”

  Botticelli’s charming and even slyly humorous picture of Venus with
  sleeping Mars, at London, follows afar and discreetly _La Giostra_, I.
  stanzas cxxii-iii, but Botticelli has taken the motive out of doors
  and otherwise considerably subtilized it. Venus is

                 “Seated in bed outside the covers
                 Just released from the arms of Mars
                 Who, lies backward on her lap

                        ·       ·       ·       ·       ·

                 “Above them and around the tiny loves
                 Played naked, flying now here now there

                        ·       ·       ·       ·       ·

                 “One fills the quiver with fresh flowers
                 Then comes and empties it on the bed.”

  Poliziano also supplied to Raphael the theme of the Galatea, in the
  Farnesina, _Giostra_, I. cxviii (Fig. 192a)

          “Two shapely dolphins draw a car;
          On it is Galatea who holds the reins,
          And they swimming breathe with equal breath.
          Around circle the more amorous throng.
          One spits out the salt wave, the others circle round;
          One seems to play at love and dallies.
          The fair nymph with her trusted sisters
          Laughs charmingly at their hoarse singing.”

  Titian, too, may have had in mind the _Giostra_, I. cxi, when he
  composed his Bacchus and Ariadne. (Fig. 260)

           “Comes upon a car covered with ivy and rushes
           Drawn by two tigers—Bacchus
           And with him it seems that fauns and mænads
           Tread the deep sand and shout with raised voices.
           One we see staggering; others seem to stumble,
           One clashes the cymbal; others seem to laugh.
           One drinks from a horn, one from his hand.
           One has grabbed a nymph, and one turns handsprings.”


  The extraordinary mixture of liberality and dogmatism, of naturalism
  and taste in Leonardo is best illustrated from his own _Trattato della
  Pittura_. I quote from the standard edition of H. Ludwig, Vienna,
  1882, using his paragraph numbers:


  ¶ 412. “The first object of the painter is to make a flat plane appear
  as a body in relief and projecting from that plane, and he who in such
  art excels the others, deserves the greater praise, and such research,
  or rather crown of such science, is born from light and shade, or I
  mean chiaroscuro. Then he who flees from shadows, flees also from the
  glory of our art among noble spirits and gains it with the ignorant
  herd, which desires nothing in painting but beauty of colors,
  forgetting entirely the beauty and wonder of showing a flat thing as
  if it were in relief.”

                      ON JUDGING A PAINTER’S WORK

  ¶ 483. “The first thing is that you consider the figures, if they have
  the relief which the place and light demand....

  “The second is that the scattering, or rather distribution of the
  figures be made according to the way in which you wish the story to

  “The third is that the figures be alert and intent on their particular


  ¶ 122. “The most important thing which can be found in the theory of
  painting are the movements appropriate to the mental state of each
  being,—as desire, scorn, wrath, pity and the like.”


  ¶ 82. “Draw first designs of a good master made in the fashion of
  nature and not mannered; then from a relief, in the presence of a
  drawing made from that relief; then from a good natural object.”

                       JUDGMENT VERSUS DEXTERITY

  ¶ 62. “That painter who does not doubt learns little. When the work
  surpasses the judgment of the worker, that worker acquires little, and
  when the judgment surpasses the work, that work never ceases to grow
  better, unless avarice prevents it.”


  ¶ 67. “Also I have proved it to be of no little use to me, when you
  find yourself in bed in the dark, to repeat in the imagination the
  things studied earlier, or other things of notable sort comprised in
  subtle thought, and this is truly a laudable act and useful in fixing
  things in memory.”

                         ON SELECTIVE IMITATION

  ¶ 58a. “The painter should be solitary and think over what he sees and
  discuss with himself, selecting the most excellent parts of the
  species of whatever he sees, acting after the fashion of a mirror
  which transmutes into as many colors as there are things what is set
  before it. And so doing he will seem to be himself a second nature.”

  ¶ 98. “Winter evenings should be used by young painters in the study
  of things prepared in summer, that is bring together all the nudes
  which you have made in the summer, and make a choice of the better
  limbs and bodies and practice from them and fix them in mind.”

                           ON HIGH STANDARDS

  ¶ 59. “If you painter will seek to please the first painters, you will
  make your pictures well, because they alone can guide you truthfully,
  but if you wish to please those who are not masters, your pictures
  will have few foreshortenings and little relief or alert movement, and
  thereby you will fail in that part in which painting is held to be an
  excellent art, that is in giving an effect of relief where there is
  nothing in relief.”


  ¶ 87. “The light cut off from the shade too clearly is greatly blamed
  by painters. Hence to avoid such a fault, if you paint bodies in the
  open country, you will not make the figures as lighted by the sun, but
  imagine some sort of mist or transparent clouds to be interposed
  between the object and the sun, whence, since the figure is not
  emphasized by the sunlight, the demarcations of light and shade will
  not be emphasized.”

                       ON THE MOST PLEASING LIGHT

  ¶ 138. “If you have a court yard that can be covered as you wish with
  a linen awning, that will be a good light; or when you wish to draw
  anyone, draw him in bad weather, towards nightfall, and make the
  sitter stand with his back to one of the walls of this court. In the
  streets set your mind towards nightfall on the faces of the men and
  women, in bad weather, how much grace and sweetness appears in them.”

                     ON COUNTERPOISE OF THE FIGURE

  ¶ 88. “Do not have the head turned the way the breast is, nor the arm
  the way the leg is; and if the head is turned over the right shoulder
  make the parts lower on the left than on the right” [and vice versa].

  At first blush this stylistic counsel flatly contradicts Leonardo’s
  principle that poses and emotions should express state of mind, but as
  a matter of fact many expressive movements obey this law of
  counterpoise or active equilibrium. Leonardo himself generally finds
  motives for such poses. Such successors as Raphael and Andrea del
  Sarto habitually used such poses without other excuse than that of
  their own inherent gracefulness.


  ¶ 189. “Have you never considered the poets composing their verses?
  They take no trouble to make fine letters, nor do they mind cancelling
  some of the verses and making them better. Do you, then, painter, make
  the limbs of your figures roughly and attend first to the movements
  appropriate to the mental state of the beings composing your story,
  rather than to the beauty and rightness of their members, because you
  must understand that if such a composition in the rough will meet the
  needs of the invention, it will please all the more after it has been
  adorned with the perfection appropriate to all its parts. I have seen
  in the clouds and spots on the wall what has aroused me to fine
  inventions of various things, since these spots though entirely
  without perfection in any part, did not lack perfection in their
  movements and other actions.”


  ¶ 12. “If you shall despise painting, which is the only imitator of
  all the apparent works of nature, assuredly you will despise also that
  careful investigation which with philosophical and careful speculation
  considers all the qualities of forms: the sea, place, plants, animals,
  herbage, flowers, which are enveloped in light and shade. And truly
  this speculation is science and the legitimate child of Nature, since
  painting is born of this nature. But, to speak more correctly, we will
  say grandchild of nature, since all apparent things are born of
  Nature, of which things painting is born. Hence rightly we shall call
  it the grandchild of this nature and the kinsman of God.”


  ¶ 50. “The painter, or rather designer, should be solitary, and
  especially when he is intent on speculations and considerations which
  continually appearing before the eyes give matter to be well kept in
  memory. And if you are alone, you will be entirely yours. And if you
  shall be accompanied by a single companion you will be half yours, and
  so much the less as the indiscretion of your companionship shall be
  the greater ... And if you would say ‘I will do in my fashion, I will
  hold myself apart’ ... one cannot serve two masters. You will fulfil
  badly the duty of a companion, and worse the aim of reasoning on the
  art ... And if you say ‘I will withdraw myself entirely,’ ... I tell
  you you will be held a madman, but, lo, thus doing you will at least
  be alone.”

  Here Leonardo takes sharpest issue with the easy-going sociable
  methods which for generations had held in the painter’s bottega, and
  shows himself an individualist of modern type.

                       RUBENS’ PRAISE OF LEONARDO

  Peter Paul Rubens, who had copied Leonardo’s battle-piece, has left
  the following perceptive tribute to the genius of his predecessor:

  “Nothing escaped him that related to the expression of his subject:
  and by the heat of his fancy, as well as by the solidity of his
  judgment, he raised divine things by human, and understood how to give
  men those different degrees, that elevate them to the character of

  “The best of the examples which he has left us is our Lord’s Supper,
  which he painted at Milan, wherein he has represented the apostles in
  places that suit with them, and our Saviour in the most honourable,
  the midst of all, having nobody near enough to press or incommode him.
  His attitude is grand, his arms are in a loose and free posture, to
  show the greater grandeur, while the apostles appear agitated one side
  to the other by the vehemence of their inquietude, and in which there
  is, however, no meanness, nor any indecent action to be seen. In short
  by his profound speculations he arrived to such a degree of
  perfection, that it seems to me impossible to speak so well of him as
  he deserves, and much more to imitate him.”

  _The Art of Painting ... Translated from the French of Monsieur De
  Piles_, London about 1725. p. 107 f.


  FIG. 167. Raphael. Count Baldassare Castiglione, author of “the

                               CHAPTER VI
                             THE GOLDEN AGE
                        RAPHAEL AND MICHELANGELO

  On pride and humility in Art—The new Grand Style defined—Umbrian
      humility in the Early Painters—Gentile da Fabriano—The Fifteenth
      Century—Luca Signorelli—Perugino—Raphael; Early development—Roman
      triumph—Michelangelesque aberrations—Michelangelo.

Whether the greatest art is grounded in pride or in humility has divided
the critics. To most it will seem evident that the artist’s assertion of
his own powers is an act of pride—a pride of person which is often
reinforced by that of nation and race. As fine a critic as John Ruskin,
on the contrary, has insisted that the greatest art springs from
humility—reverence for God, admiration of His works in nature, homage
also to one’s earthly master in art and withal to the great tradition of
one’s craft. The difference is world-wide. According to one
interpretation or the other, the work of art becomes an act of display
or of worship. Such opposites in the realm of analysis often meet
comfortably enough in the realm of practice. A haughty individualist
like Leonardo da Vinci insists that his investigations of appearance and
reality lead to that knowledge of God without which love is impossible.
And the Golden Age of painting itself, though mostly based on corporate
and individual pride, has also its infusion of humility. If Michelangelo
represents the flowering of three generations of research, of that pride
of intellect which ever ruled Florence, so equally does Raphael
represent many generations of humility and teachableness in his native
Umbria. For about ten years pride and humility worked side by side, and
that was the Golden Age. Pride prevailed over humility, and the
classical style of Central Italy sunk to a pretentious exhibitionism.

Our theme is that brief moment of accomplishment which witnessed the
rise of Rome as centre of art, and the greatest painting of Raphael and
Michelangelo. We need not hesitate to apply to it the oldfashioned term,
the Golden Age. But we shall not use it with quite the oldfashioned
unction, knowing as we do the heavy sacrifice involved in attaining the
so-called Grand Style, and the still heavier penalty it imposed upon the
art that succeeded it.

The Florentines believed that painting had reached its height in the
years 1504 and 1505, when Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were
designing the great competitive battle-pieces for the Priors’ Palace at
Florence, and Raphael was painting his loveliest Madonnas. Modern
critics might rather be inclined to date the grand climacteric from a
pathetic incident of a few years later. In 1508, when Pope Julius II
wished to decorate the new ante-rooms of the Vatican, the famous
_Stanze_ he called the best of the older painters—Sodoma, Perugino,
Signorelli, among others. No sooner had they begun to decorate the
vaults than their work seemed inadequate. They were turned off
incontinently and the young man Raphael called down from Florence to
take their place. The incident shows how suddenly the new beauty dawned
upon the world of art patronage. Vividly conscious of its advent, the
Italians were less conscious of the equally sudden waning of the great
style. With the wisdom of hindsight we can now see that the whole
development was a marvelous spurt, lasting a bare dozen years, from the
battle cartoons of 1505 to Raphael’s tapestry cartoons of 1516. Raphael
and Michelangelo, who created the lasting glory of the Renaissance, also
dug its grave. Before considering the creative and destructive energies
of these two giants, we may profitably note the characteristics of what
whether for praise or mockery has ever since been called the Grand
Style. And here I have little to do beyond condensing Professor
Wölfflin’s excellent book.

In the Grand Style the accent was on maturity, decorum, and measured
power. Vivacious and picturesque incidents are eschewed. The new art
demands simplicity and centrality. The human figure dominates the
compositions. The frame is filled densely with a complicated group. The
figures themselves are ample and mature. The Madonna is no longer a
girl, but a gracious woman of thirty years. The Christ Child is no
longer an infant, but a well-grown lad, whose supple curves harmonize
with those of grown folks. As to pose, the figures no longer are
casually arranged or in some posture required by a specific action. They
are cast in conventional poses which bring out the active beauty of the
body. Heads swing across shoulders, the upper body turns against the
thrust of the lower, the arms counter the action of the legs. Such
counterpoise is always active, implying motion. Straight lines give way
to weavings of S curves—so many springs whose tension is kept equal.
Violent motion or torsion of the body is frequent, but one motion or
torsion must be immediately taken up and balanced by some equivalent.
Following the general principle of centrality, colors are fewer and more
studied. In portraiture, for example, we no longer have landscape or
elaborate interiors, but plain dark backgrounds. At all points we have
left spontaneity and happy accident behind and have entered a world of
exquisite calculation. Society had moved with art towards ideals of
simplicity and decorum. You no longer find the braided, beribboned and
jewelled coiffures of Botticelli’s women, but serene brows with the hair
drawn back evenly from its part and disposed as a mass in a net. Young
gallants wear their abundant locks much the same way and sport
seignorial spade beards. Old men are even more magnificently provided
with beards of monumental scale. Such men are clothed no longer in
parti-colored raiment, but in richly sober black. The ideal is dignity,
composure, and magnanimity. You may trace it through all its intricacies
of casuistry in what is still one of the best pictures of what a
gentleman and lady should be, the _Cortegiano_ of Baldassare
Castiglione. It was finished in 1516 while his friend Raphael was
designing the tapestry cartoons. And you may read much of this high
teaching in Count Castiglione’s own sensitive and comprehending face,
Figure 167, as Raphael then painted it. It breathes that fine interplay
of pride and humility which was the mainspring of the Renaissance, and
it brings us back to the double origin of the Grand Style in the pride
of Florence and the humility of Umbria.

Umbria in the narrow sense includes only the lovely stretches of the
upper Tiber, and the rolling banks of Lakes Trasimene and Bolsena. But
all the way over the mountains to the Adriatic the civilization was of a
similar type, and so the art. Thus we may reckon the Adriatic Marches
from Ancona to Ravenna as Umbrian from the point of view of the
historian of painting. There were no great cities and little commerce.
It is a region of small hill-top communes within the walls of which the
peasants huddled for protection at night, going down to the fields in
the day. It was a country of hot passions and violent feuds, and equally
of religious enthusiasm and mystical piety. Great heresies had swept the
land and so had the joyous and practical Christianity of St. Francis,
greatest of Umbria’s sons. We have much of the volatility that we noted
in Siena, without, however, a capital city to centralize it, and we also
have what Siena lacked—an abiding and beautiful humility. Umbria knew
her provincial estate and accepted its limitations.

Nowhere is this more plainly shown than in her art. For two centuries
she was in the position of inducing foreign artists to come in, ever in
an attitude of admiration and docility. Thus Giunta of Pisa, Cimabue and
his Roman contemporaries; Giotto and his Florentine pupils; Simone
Martini and other Sienese painters decorated the chief monument of
Umbria, the Basilica of St. Francis at Assisi. Their work extended over
a century to say 1330. Later still Sienese artists were employed at
Perugia, among others, Taddeo Bartoli, and the region promised to become
an artistic dependency of Siena. But with the dawning of the Renaissance
and the extension of Florentine power beyond Arezzo, Florentine artists
are preferred. We find Domenico Veneziano at Perugia, in 1438, in the
pay of the ruling Baglioni. A little earlier Fra Angelico had painted
for several years at Cortona. In the early fifties Benozzo Gozzoli
painted his Franciscan frescoes at Montefalco, and was otherwise active
in the Tiber valley. In 1468 Fra Filippo Lippi was called to Spoleto.
Soon after, Umbria learned to depend on her own artists. In the Adriatic
Marches there had been a limited penetration of Giotto’s style, chiefly
by way of Padua and Rimini. By the end of the century the Lorenzettian
manner dominated. It was succeeded by the influence of the Venetian
Renaissance as exemplified by such rather backward artists as the
Vivarini and Carlo Crivelli. Still later the diffused influence of
Giovanni Bellini meets harmoniously that of Perugino.

Thus in humility and teachableness Umbria very slowly, and through most
various stages of discipleship, worked out her own originality. And when
it came one felt deeply in it the teaching of her spacious intervals and
blue mountains.

It is so with the first notable painter that Umbria produced, Gentile da
Fabriano.[61] He felt landscape as no artist before him. Born about
1360, he was trained by his fellow townsman, Alegretto Nuzi. Alegretto
had made sound studies at Florence and had also observed with admiration
the pictures of the Lorenzetti. His own altar-pieces have the Sienese
splendor with a touch of sweetness that is wholly Umbrian. His pupil
Gentile prefers more ornate and florid compositions such as we see in
his early Coronation of the Virgin at Milan. Soon Gentile gave himself
to the panoramic narrative style, outdoing the Lorenzetti in
elaboration, vivacity, and gracefulness. Superficially he resembles such
Florentine contemporaries as Lorenzo Monaco and Masolino, but his mood
is broader and more genial, and his decorative accent more splendid.
Before 1410 he was called to Venice to paint in the new Ducal Palace.
His animated historical frescoes were soon destroyed by fire, but his
sojourn was long enough to impress his manner, through his pupil Jacopo,
Bellini, and numerous imitators, on the Venetian narrative school.


  FIG. 168. Gentile da Fabriano. Adoration of the Magi.—_Uffizi._


  FIG. 169. Gentile da Fabriano. The Nativity. Predella piece from
    Adoration of Magi.—_Uffizi._

Passing to Florence, he left there the fullest expression of his
gracious talent in the resplendent Adoration of the Kings, Figure 168,
now in the Uffizi, which was painted for Palla Strozzi’s chapel in the
Trinità. It was signed in May 1423, and perhaps because it was the
season of flowers, Gentile painted in the rich pilasters growing sprays
of morning glory, iris, anemone, and cornflower. Within its fantastic
Gothic frame we witness a pageant such as Italy often saw on holy
days—the procession of the Wise man moving through her streets. Around
the Mother and her Child devotion reigns, but soon the scene passes off
into the tumult of waiting men-at-arms, of chafing steeds, and snarling
animals of the chase. The color is a radiance of scarlet, crimson, azure
and gold, after the Gothic fashion. But the picture is more than Gothic
in the tender and almost atmospheric shading of the rolling hills in the
background. Skilfully blending Sienese idealism with narrative breadth
and vivacity, the picture is the last and most magnificent memorial to a
chivalry now merely an afterglow, but dying with all the iridescence of
the sunset hour.

As is usually the case, the modern contribution of the picture is
modestly made in the _predella_ panels. The Nativity, Figure 169, with
the light radiating tenderly from the Christ Child and golden stars
glimmering above the hill-top pastures is perhaps the first nocturne in
art, and still one of the loveliest. The Flight into Egypt, shows a
joyous sunrise creeping over the glad hills. The means are conventional,
the highlights are touched in with gold, but the mood and effect are
there. Young Masaccio surely considered these little panels before he
undertook his more naturalistic adventure in structural light and shade.


  FIG. 170. Andrea da Bologna. Madonna of Humility.—_Cleveland._

Soon Pope Martin V, returning from exile at Avignon and planning to
restore the splendors of Christian Rome, called Gentile and set him to
decorating the nave of St. John Lateran. Again fire has deprived us of
the monumental works which constituted Gentile’s contemporary fame. We
know that they won the praise of the greatest Flemish painter who
visited Renaissance Italy, Rogier de la Pasture of Tournai. And two
generations later crabbed Michelangelo declared almost sentimentally
that Gentile was gentle both by name and by nature. For us it is
important to note that Gentile forecast precisely the future triumphs of
Raphael, carrying the glory of Umbrian painting widely through Italy
before asserting it at Rome.

Of course such work as Gentile’s was highly exceptional in the Umbrian
Marches. The average state of things is represented by the shy and
humble Madonnas which Francescuccio Ghisi repeated indefinitely. This
type of Madonna of Humility is nowhere more delightfully represented
than in the lovely panel at the Cleveland Museum, Figure 170, for which
I have elsewhere suggested the attribution of Andrea da Bologna.[62] She
is most unlike the majestic Madonnas of Florence and Siena. To assure us
that this gentle Mother is after all Queen of Heaven and the Second Eve
come for our salvation, the artist has given her a resplendent aureole
with tiny miniatures of her champions, the apostles, and has stretched
at her feet that First Eve in whom we all sinned. The picture will have
been painted before 1380, and, with its Byzantine reminiscences, it well
exemplifies the mediævalism that held its own in the Adriatic Marches
long after Tuscany had set her face towards the Renaissance.

It would add little to our survey of Umbria to dwell on Ottaviano Nelli
at Urbino, a gently vivacious story-teller; nor yet on those early
painters at Camerino and San Severino who tinged the softer native style
with the splendid severity of the early Venetian manner. I pass their
works with regret, for they are often lovely in their frank dependence
on greater spirits. In a general survey the middle years of the
fifteenth century in Umbria show rather little to attract us until the
rise of Pietro Perugino. He emerges in an artistic world dominated in
the Tiber Valley by the Florentine, Gozzoli, and beyond the mountains by
Carlo Crivelli and the Vivarini. Such predecessor of Perugino as
Benedetto Bonfigli of Perugia need not detain us. He had learned a
little, a very little, from the Florentine, Domenico Veneziano, paints
Madonnas with a modest ideality; and narratives, the life of St.
Ercolano in the Communal Palace of Perugia, with abundant and muddled
detail, after the fashion of Gozzoli and Domenico di Bartolo. His
_bottega_ was a factory of those quaint and often terrible religious
banners, Figure 171, which the devout Umbrians carried processionally to
avert the recurrent plague. We need not dwell upon Perugino’s alleged
master, Fiorenzo di Lorenzo, whose ugly and emphatic draughtsmanship
derives from Verrocchio and the Pollaiuoli. We may best appreciate
Perugino’s extraordinary originality by considering contemporaries who
came up with equal advantages. Lorenzo di San Severino exemplifies the
usual Umbrian blend of Gozzoli and Venetian influences. And in such a
picture as the Enthroned Madonna, Figure 172, in the Holden Collection,
at Cleveland, he attains an ideality of feeling and a beauty of
workmanship of the most refreshing sort. This picture must have been
painted about 1490. It may represent the high mark reached in the
Marches towards the end of the century—may thus dispense us from
considering such inherently charming painters as Girolamo da Camerino
and his fellow townsman Giovanni Boccatis.


  FIG. 171. Bontigli Plague Banner. The Virgin protecting her Devotees
    from plague Shafts hurled by Christ.—_Chiesa del Gonfalone,


  FIG. 172. Lorenzo di San Severino. Madonna and Saints.—_Cleveland, O._

A very similar training produces more ambitious but hardly more pleasing
results in Niccolò Liberatore of Foligno, (1430 to 1502). Early
influenced by Gozzoli, he later aped the intensity of the Venetian,
Carlo Crivelli. Niccolò thus chafes within the modest bounds proper to
art in Umbria. He essays tragedy and too often achieves burlesque. He
paints, like most of the Umbrians, processional banners, and also the
most complicated altar-pieces, in which cusps, carving and pinnacles
almost efface the Madonna and saints, who show a peasantlike uneasiness
amid so much splendor. Such is the character of the triptych in the
Vatican, which is dated 1466. It represents rather favorably Niccolò’s
at once slender and ambitious talent.


  FIG. 173. Melozzo da Forlì. Pope Sixtus IV and his Court.

Such obscure artists as we have been considering[63] could maintain the
idealism out of which a Perugino should grow, could provide his
spiritual background. They could do little to nurture him on the
positive side. That task fell to men of greater power, who had saturated
themselves with Florentine realism—Melozzo da Forlì[64] and Luca
Signorelli. Both were pupils of that giant among Umbro-Florentines,
Piero della Francesca. Melozzo was born in 1438 and early employed by
the Dukes of Urbino. He practices an energetic draughtsmanship both in
decoration and portraiture, indulges the boldest foreshortening, adds a
positive athleticism to that pride of life which we have noted in more
static form in his master. Thus his frescoes for the domes of the
sacristy of the Santa Casa at Loreto, and the justly famous fragments of
playing angels from the demolished sacristy of old St. Peter’s at Rome
reveal a strength and measured audacity which at once rival the
contemporary effort of Mantegna at Mantua and forecast the more pagan
exuberance of Mantegna’s greatest pupil, Correggio. This robust and
masculine manner appears in a more restrained and traditional form in
the superb fresco portraits of Pope Sixtus IV and his Court, Figure 173,
in the Vatican. Such work transcends Umbrian standards.


  FIG. 174. Luca Signorelli. Pan, God of Music.—_Berlin._

Even more does the intense and rugged art of Melozzo’s fellow disciple,
Luca Signorelli.[65] Born at Cortona in 1441, we know little of his
early career except that he studied with Piero della Francesca, passed
to Florence and was permanently swayed by the anatomical and passionate
realism of Antonio Pollaiuolo. Signorelli’s early work is obscure to us.
We may well study him first in the pastoral mythology, Pan, God of
Harmony, Figure 174, now at Berlin. It was painted about 1490 for the
Medici, for the villa for which Botticelli designed the Primavera and
Birth of Venus. It is inferior to its companion pieces in imagination
and delicacy, and particularly in color, but in its own measured way it
echoes delightfully the poetic wistfulness of early Florentine humanism.
Similar qualities of imagination are in the great fresco The Last Days
of Moses, in the Sistine Chapel, painted in 1482 after his design. But
the vein is exceptional in Signorelli. Soon he gave himself to a rugged
realism, unpleasing in his religious themes. Meeting little favor in the
great cities, he painted many altar-pieces for the Umbrian towns. These
pictures are stern in spirit and leaden in color. There is no attempt to
please. Relentlessly Signorelli pursued his personal quest of expressive
anatomy. Legend tells us that, dry-eyed, he sketched the fair body of
his own murdered son for the picture of the Entombment at Cortona. We
see him introducing nude figures into the background of the round
Madonna at the Uffizi, Figure 175. The experimentalist dominates the


  FIG. 175. Signorelli. Madonna.—_Uffizi._

In the year 1500, being nearly sixty, he found the real use for his
truculent art. He was called to paint in the Chapel of S. Brixio, in the
Cathedral of Orvieto. The subject was the Last Judgment. More than fifty
years earlier Fra Angelico had begun the work with angel choirs in the
vaults. With a far different temper Signorelli continued the task. At
the entrance and back of the Chapel he showed mankind scourged by the
final plagues. In the four arched spaces at the sides he set The
Preaching of Antichrist, a sinister scene detailed with all the
circumstantiality of the Early Renaissance. For the three remaining
scenes, the Resurrection of the Dead, Figure 176, the Condemnation of
the Sinful, Figure 177, and the Reward of the Just, he invented new
modes both of interpretation and of composition. How far we are from the
solemn assizes of Giotto or the garden and labyrinth motives of Fra
Angelico! In every case we have in the lunette celestial figures, or at
least supernal, while below we have swarming masses of nude folk,
bewildered at the forgotten light, aspiring heavenwards or shrinking
from the clutches of the fiends.

What distinguishes these frescoes is a magnificently just
matter-of-factness. Only one question is raised by the artist. Given the
literal truth of the Book of Revelations, how would the last judgment
look, and how would one feel if he were indeed there? So he reasons it
out—the struggle of the skeletons to push up to the light, their
reinvestiture successively with sinews, muscles and skin, the
embarrassment as a half assembled body vainly seeks recognition. And all
this he contrasts with the confident, strong bearing of the archangels
above. Again in the Ascent of the Just to Heaven, the aspiration is
chiefly physical, magnificently so. These clean strong bodies chiefly
wish to escape the corruption from which the last trump has summoned
them. And even the guardian angels are less tender than jubilant at the
thought of fit recruits to replenish St. Michael’s celestial militia.
Equally the damned wince, not from conscience, but from physical dread
of the chains and claws and the imminence of the eternal fires.


  FIG. 176. Luca Signorelli. The General Resurrection.—_Cathedral,


  FIG. 177. Luca Signorelli. The Souls of the Damned.—_Cathedral,

This sturdy, upright art seems hardly Italian. The spirit of it is
ruthless and Northern. It mitigates nothing, tells pretty much
everything, presents the body in its ugliness, disregards obvious
considerations of style. Yet as a successful blend of a vast technical
experiment in anatomy with an honest and powerful effort of imagination,
this is one of the most remarkable achievements of the Italian
Renaissance. It has little of the Italian nobility, but it powerfully
influenced those who had. Perugino and Raphael imitated Signorelli’s
orderly arrangement of his scenes in a double, vertical order, and
Michelangelo fed his dream of a heroic world of splendid nudity from the
drastic visions of Signorelli. Over-rich and over-emphatic as Signorelli
is, he is also an elemental, tonic power. No one is quite the same after
a visit to the Chapel of S. Brixio.

If Signorelli was the greatest character in Umbria before Raphael,
Pietro Perugino was the finest intelligence and taste. He was born in
1446 at Città della Pieve and at nine years old was put with a poor
Perugian painter. His early activity is matter only of ingenious
conjecture.[66] There is an ambiguous range of pictures variously
ascribed to him and to Fiorenzo di Lorenzo, a difficult and rather
unimportant problem which I willingly let alone. What is certain is that
in his early twenties Perugino was studying with Verrocchio at Florence
alongside of Leonardo da Vinci. By 1481 and 1482 Perugino emerges
artistically full-grown in the Sistine Chapel.

His superiority, as shown in the fresco of the Giving of the Keys to
Peter, Figure 118, and in numerous works of his forty-two remaining
years, is so uniform and almost monotonous that its greatness has until
recently passed unnoticed. Only such critics as Mr. Berenson and
Professor Wölfflin have done him full justice. He worked upon perfectly
clear and conscious ideals of simplicity, symmetry, and spaciousness; in
all of which he took issue with his times. Rejecting the picturesque
richness and confusion of the Early Renaissance, he took counsel of the
Byzantine painters and of Fra Angelico at San Marco. They taught him the
worth of simple geometrical forms of figure composition, and how to
sacrifice details to broad effects. That his groups disposed in simple
pyramids, oblongs, or ovals should not seem too bare, he cunningly
varied the positions of the figures, thus relieving the severity of the
underlying symmetry. Every tilted head, pointed foot and swaying thigh
has its precise compositional value. As for the figures, there is no
strenuousness of draughtsmanship, they are simply good enough. A
principle of artistic economy, alien to the spirit of the moment, rules
here as elsewhere.


  FIG. 178. Perugino. Mystical Crucifixion. Fresco.—_Santa Maria
    Maddalena de’ Pazzi. Florence._

So far he appears as a critic and amender of the Early Renaissance
style. His positive contribution was a particularly spacious and lovely
sort of landscape, an immensity of light and air to set behind the
restricted patterns of his figures. This landscape is a beautiful
generalization of the scenery of the upper Tiber valley. The forms are
few. Feathery trees mark the middle distance; a river valley opens
gently with interlocking banks toward distant blue mountains. Above a
silvery horizon, the heavens gradually deepen to an intense blue,
accentuated by sparse floating clouds. There are few colors, a warm
brown, a fresh green, a paler and a deeper blue, a variety of grays.
With these simple means is attained a sense of infinite space and of
encompassing peace.

All these perfections are in the great frescoed Crucifixion Figure 178,
in the convent of Santa Maria Maddelena dei Pazzi, at Florence. The date
is 1495, Perugino’s fifty-second year. The lyrical quietism of the
effect rests on delicate evasions of the very formal symmetry. Such
features as the tilted head of the Saint John and the three trees at the
left balancing the Magdalen at the right of the cross are essential.
Indeed any slight change either in the position of the figures or the
lines of the landscape would produce a discord.


  FIG. 179. Perugina. Enthroned Madonna.—_Vatican._

We have a very similar effect with the addition of a stately and simple
architecture in the enthroned Madonna of the Vatican. Figure 179. Again
the formality of the pyramidal pattern is relieved by varied
dispositions of the figures which individually considered may seem
affected, but which are essential to the composition. More overtly
emotional but still restrained is the Deposition, Figure 180a, of the
Uffizi Gallery. It is arranged as an oval with catenary internal curves,
anticipating much more complicated patterns of Raphael. At this moment,
1494, no living artist but Leonardo could have woven this group together
with such certainty of taste, and he could have hardly equalled its
broad and serene landscape.

In the first years of the new century Perugino decorated the merchants’
exchange of Perugia, the Cambio, with frescoes partly religious, partly
moral and symbolical. The most famous represent the Virtues, Figure 180,
in pairs, hovering in the heavens with their representatives below. For
example, Prudence and Justice with the great law-givers. So Fortitude
and Temperance are represented respectively by the venerable forms of
brave Horatius, and Leonidas; of Cato and Cincinnatus. It seems that
Perugino executed most of this latter decoration through assistants, and
it has been suggested that Raphael is responsible both for the design
and painting of the beautiful Sibyls.[67]


  FIG. 180. Perugino. Prudence and Justice with their Representatives.
    Fresco.—_Cambio, Perugia._

Like most of his contemporaries Perugino outlived his fame. He was
insulted by Michelangelo, criticized for repeating his figures, thrust
out of the Vatican in 1508 and superseded by his former helper, Raphael.
And his exquisite art in his later years shows a certain relaxation. He
died of the plague in 1524 and was denied Christian burial, although in
his day he had painted plague banners to protect the faithful.

The known atheism of Perugino affords a curious problem. How reconcile
it with the mild and gentle religiosity of his art? Were he a modern
artist, one might hold that he entered by æsthetic sympathy into
experiences of religion which his rational self denied. For an atheist
of the Renaissance the explanation seems too subtle. They were of tough
fibre and kept their sympathy logically in hand. Mr. Berenson has
offered the ingenious explanation that in his noble composition in space
Perugino appealed to emotions which are so nearly akin to religion as to
be readily substituted therefor. In the great spaces of Perugino the
spirit finds liberation and a sense of the infinite. Such intuition of
infinity one finds also in personal religion, and the two experiences
are in a degree interchangeable. Æsthetically satisfactory, this
explanation may fail to convince a devout person. He will want to know
how the art of an avowed atheist enthralled the pious folk inhabiting
the valley sanctified by the memory of St. Francis. Whatever be the
explanation, the space composition of Perugino later sufficed to express
Raphael’s vision of the central mystery of Christianity, of the nobility
of pagan intellect and of the serene splendor of the Grecian Olympians.


  FIG. 180_a._> Perugino. The Deposition.—_Uffizi._

Raphael Sanzio[68] is the finest example of the Umbrian virtue of
teachableness. His course is a series of exquisitely felt admirations.
His readiness to assimilate any sort of excellence was his strength, and
at times his weakness, for he was not always self-critical enough to
reject merits alien to his own personality. His admitted primacy rests
on perfection of composition, and that perfection represented a
beautiful synthesis of the methods of Perugino, Fra Bartolommeo, and
Leonardo da Vinci. In dramatic power, force of draughtsmanship, and
charm of color many of his contemporaries surpassed him. His, indeed, is
a triumph of tact and judgment, and not of any single achievement. He
seems one of the young men of the Platonic dialogues come back to
earth—graciously prudent, gently effective, superior yet companionable.
He approached art as his fellow Umbrian, St. Francis, approached life,
with friendly confidence. He was equally at home with noble and artisan,
with austere prelate and libertine humanist. Men readily gave him their
loyalty and women their love.

Raphael Sanzio was born at Urbino in 1483. His father, Giovanni, a
mediocre poet and painter, left him an orphan at eleven. Raphael’s first
steps in painting were probably guided by Timoteo Viti, who practiced,
partly under Perugino’s influence, the timidly idyllic style of the
Northern Marches—Bologna and Ferrara. Such boyish efforts of Raphael as
the Orleans Madonna, the Three Graces, and the Dream of a Knight, in the
National Gallery show Raphael’s complete assimilation of this idyllic
manner. The little picture at London in which a stripling Hercules
slumbers between an attractive girlish Wisdom and a most innocent effigy
of Vice—holding the flower that signifies the primrose path—shows us
Raphael at seventeen and by no means precocious.

In the year 1500 he was called from Urbino to work in Perugino’s home
shop at Perugia, soon rising to the position of foreman. In four years
he made the most devout and complete assimilation of his master’s style.
Such pictures as the Coronation of Mary, in the Vatican, and the
Marriage of the Virgin, Figure 181, at Milan, would surely be reckoned
as consummate Perugino’s were it not for signatures and old tradition.
The Marriage of the Virgin in particular is merely a rearrangement of
Perugino’s composition for the Giving of the Keys to Peter. But Raphael
has eliminated unnecessary incidents and has outdone Perugino himself in
sweetness and calm. The picture was finished in 1504, and that year
Raphael took letters of recommendation from his first patroness, the
Duchess of Urbino, to the Magistracy of Florence.


  FIG. 181. Raphael. Marriage of the Virgin.—_Milan._


  FIG. 182. Raphael. Maddalena Doni.—_Pitti._

Imagine a youngster of twenty-one who has diligently mastered a
pictorial style only to learn that it is already obsolete. That is
Raphael taking the manner of Perugino to a Florence agog over the battle
cartoons of Leonardo and Michelangelo. The coolness with which young
Raphael faced this emergency is characteristic. In four years he made
himself over into a realistic draughtsman. Abandoning the readymade
faces and figures of Perugino, he wisely held to Perugino’s sweetness
and spacious compositional patterns. Young Raphael achieves an
extraordinary act of criticism. He takes from the reformers just what he
needs and no more—from Leonardo his incisiveness and psychology as a
draughtsman and his dense and rich compositional patterns, from Fra
Bartolommeo his dignity and monumentality, from Michelangelo very little
as yet; and, withal, he retains whatever still seemed valuable from his
Umbrian experience. Thus with resolute and unperturbed intelligence
within four years he completely reconstructed his style, and put himself
on a parity with older contemporaries who had been experimenting for a
score of years.

The steps of this re-education are most interesting. In 1505 he did the
portraits of Agnolo Doni and his wife Maddalena, Figure 182. The posture
of the woman is that of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. The draughtsmanship and
characterization are severe, the hint of Umbrian landscape is a
survival. In later portraits we shall see the elimination of
accessories, the line yielding to the most refined modelling in light
and dark, the effect concentrated without insistency. A comparison of
the Doni portraits with those of ten years later, the Julius II and the
Fornarina, will tell better than words of the tendency of Raphael’s
portraiture towards its ultimate mastery.

In 1505 Raphael returned for a time to Perugino to paint the fresco of
the Trinity at the Convent of San Severo. In the splendid geometrical
pattern he has already improved on the flat groupings of Perugino. The
consistory of Saints bends back in depth after the fashion of a
semi-dome. Raphael borrows the new motive from Fra Bartolommeo’s fresco
of the Last Judgment painted in 1499 for the Florentine Hospital of
Santa Maria Nuova. Sixteen years later Perugino added the languid saints
at the base of the Trinity, a touching reversal of the natural relations
of master and pupil. As for Raphael, in a single experiment he has
mastered the sort of symmetrical composition in depth which should
suffice within five years for his masterpiece, the Disputa.


  FIG. 183. Raphael. Madonna del Granduca.—_Pitti._


  FIG. 184. Raphael. La Belle Jardinière.—_Louvre._

The matronly sweetness of Raphael’s early madonnas has won them
affection from the first. With increasing dignity, they retain a hint of
the girlish refinement of their predecessors of the Early Renaissance.
But they are less assertively fastidious, more normal and natural. All
these obvious reasons for liking them are sound, and these pictures
afford as well an insight into Raphael’s consciously directed studies.
The effect is ever towards richer and more complicated composition, and
towards more interesting and stylistic dispositions of the figures. The
naturalness is that of taste and calculation. Near the beginning of the
series we have the lovely Madonna of the Grand Duke, 1505, Figure 183.
The upright, frontal position and form and serene oval of the face
recall Perugino. But reality has supervened,—Perugino never painted such
a Bambino,—and for the sake of concentration the background is kept
plain. We see in the Madonna of the Tempi Family, at Munich, the Madonna
turned in three-quarters position, the pose energized, the body swaying
in a slight counterpoise. Then he tries seated poses which offer the
triangular pattern of Leonardo. Perhaps the earliest of this series is
the lovely Cowper Madonna, now in the Widener Collection. Soon he adds
figures, constructs the pyramids more ornately and restores the
background of landscape. At the head of this line is the Madonna of the
Finch in the Pitti. It illustrates that gracious formality which
Leonardo established in the Madonna of the Rocks. Finding the balance of
the two standing nude children a little too obvious, Raphael carries the
motive to its perfection in the Belle Jardinière of the Louvre. Figure
184. Here, to break the rigid symmetry, the St. John kneels, and
superfluous trees have been cleared away from the background. He seeks
further to enrich the pyramid, and in the Madonna of the Canigiani
family, at Munich, Figure 185, finished in 1507, we have at once the
densest of symmetries and the stylistic handling of all the figures in
active and counterpoised attitudes. In two years the process is
complete. Later, in the Madonna of the Fish and of the Pearl, executed
by students, Raphael will adopt diagonal arrangements, he will take up
the old Circular form in the Madonna of the Chair, and will amplify the
simple patterns of Perugino in the Sistine Madonna and the Madonna of
Foligno. The forms and faces will become graver, nobler, more mature,
but the whole course is fully anticipated in the joyous and lucid years
of experiment from 1505 to 1507.


  FIG. 185. Raphael. Canigiani Holy Family.—_Munich._

In that year Raphael pulled himself together to produce a masterpiece
and signally failed. So far he must have seemed only a charming painter,
a more gracious Fra Bartolommeo or a more learned Albertinelli, he will
now surpass Leonardo and equal Michelangelo—a perilous competition for a
man of twenty-five. In 1507 Atalanta Baglioni of Perugia ordered a
Deposition to be set over the tomb of her murdered son, the tyrant
Astorre. Raphael, in a theme properly lyrical and pathetic, tries to add
tumult and drama—tries too hard. At first he adopted a scheme very
similar to that of Perugino’s masterpiece, with the dead Christ on the
ground, a quietly mourning group and a spacious landscape. The design is
shown in a pen sketch at Oxford. He rejects this motive as too quiet and
familiar. By successive efforts and exaggerations he arrives at the
picture which we now see in the Borghese Gallery. Figure 186. It has
become a disagreeable tangle of legs, a display of over-muscular arms
which support nothing—a welter of histrionic gestures. The clew to the
trouble is in the effective but meaningless pose of the woman at the
right, which is borrowed directly from Michelangelo’s Madonna of the
Doni Family. Figure 195. The landscape no longer liberates the spirit,
but almost crowds the figures out of the frame. Doubtless so
self-critical an artist as Raphael learned much from this failure. It
must have shown him that the rich density and measured dramatic effect
of Leonardo were not as accessible as he had thought, and he accordingly
restudied the whole problem of energetic monumental design. Moreover it
showed him, at least for some years, that Michelangelo was the worst of
models for him and threw him back upon his proper exemplars, Perugino
and Fra Bartolommeo—in short, upon that native humility which was at
once his charm as a man and his strength as an artist.


  FIG. 186. Raphael. The Entombment.—_Borghese, Rome._

In 1508 Raphael was called to Rome through the influence of a former
Urbino friend, Bramante, now the architect of new St. Peter’s. The task
set by Pope Julius II was the decoration of the four new antechambers
called the _Stanze_. About the same time Michelangelo began on the
ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Thus the two artists worked within two
hundred feet of each other, but held apart partly by a natural rivalry,
and even more by the irascible and suspicious nature of Michelangelo.
And two masterpieces were produced as from two different
worlds—Michelangelo’s all tragic and perturbed, Raphael’s all hopeful
and serene. Between 1509 and 1511 Raphael frescoes the Camera della
Segnatura, mostly with his own hand. The scheme comprised the finest
leading ideals of contemporary humanism, and the little room is the most
important of documents for the student of the Renaissance. Religious
authority, legal justice, secular philosophy and science, the arts—such
are the four great themes impersonated on the side walls, and echoed in
symbol and human illustration on the beautiful ceiling; these are the
props of a perfect society.

Religious authority and theology are represented by the famous fresco
called erroneously the Dispute concerning the Sacrament, Figure 187.
Christ, as the fully revealed member of the Trinity, sits in a heaven
rayed and studded with gold; beside him sit the prophets and
apostles—the actual witnesses of his passion. The seated group sweeps
grandly back describing a sort of semi-dome in space. Below and
precisely in the centre, on an altar, glitters the wafer which in the
recurrent miracle of the Mass becomes Christ’s body. To right and left
of the altar are closely compacted and agitated groups insisting on the
truth of the miracle of transubstantiation. These are the martyrs and
church doctors, those who after the apostolic age either in experience
or divine intuition certified to the central mystery of the Church. The
upper group is composed after the fashion of Fra Bartolommeo and
Perugino, is a mere expansion of Raphael’s fresco at San Severo; the
lower group is held together after the fashion of Leonardo da Vinci’s
Last Supper, the vehemence of the particular gestures being assimilated
in a running balance of thrust against thrust, so that the whole effect
is of a rich and energetic harmony. The figures themselves are
established adequately, but in draughtsmanship are inferior either to
Leonardo’s or Michelangelo’s. With the thriftiness of a born decorator,
Raphael makes the figure count in its place and beyond that takes no
unnecessary pains. It might indeed be argued that the decoration would
be worse as a whole if the parts were more perfect. Finally, note how
essentially classical, Roman, juridical the motive is; how concrete and
material. Raphael seeks to express nothing more mystical than the
obvious equation of Christ and the host, and he merely cites a multitude
of witnesses to prove that the equation is true. This very simplicity of
motive has thoroughly humanized what might have been a tenuous theme.
The picture is a magnificent conclave out of many ages, a symbol of the
cumulative splendor of the Catholic tradition.


  FIG. 187. Raphael. La Disputa—The Truth of the Eucharist.


  FIG. 188. Raphael. The School of Athens. Fresco.—_Vatican._

On the opposite wall, in the School of Athens, Figure 188, Raphael
pictures a similar continuity of human thought on the secular plane. The
arched space opens into a vast basilica whose gods, represented as
colossal statues at the sides, are Apollo and Minerva. Raphael has
studied the Basilica of Constantine and has modestly scanned Bramante’s
plans for new St. Peter’s. He invents a vaulted interior more impressive
than any that man has ever built. Within finite bounds he suggests the
infinity of Umbrian space. Without the figures, or with quite other
figures, we should still have a great picture. But the group is as nobly
disposed as the architecture. You may imagine a foreshortened ring of
which the reverend forms of Plato and Aristotle are the twin jewels.
Aristotle at the right is in the vigor of middle age as a scientist
should be. His disciples crowd towards him or gather in secondary groups
about some leader. Science is social and co-operative. Raphael puts
himself in this group. Plato at the left is immensely old and feeble.
Speculative philosophy requires only strength of spirit. His disciples
are generally isolated in personal meditation. Philosophical truth is
arrived at not in society but in solitude. Certain ardent young faces
recall Leonardo da Vinci, and the construction of the group is his. We
have linking motives, like that of sprawling Diogenes on the steps,
curves that repeat or counter the vault above, turns and thrusts of
bodies in active balance, an energetic variety within a serene harmony.
The mood is less agitated than that of the Disputa, while the
composition is freer. Human science and philosophy are at once less
bound than is theology, and move more equably because they strive for
more readily attainable ends. Like its companion piece, the School of
Athens is both a citation of witnesses and a profession of faith, of
faith in the capacity of the human mind.

The fresco of Parnassus repeats approximately the grouping of the School
of Athens, but changes the mood to one of lyrism, and shifts the scene
to a hill top. About Apollo and the Muses wander the forms of the elder
and recent poets. Often the faces are a bit insipid, but no one thinks
of that, so easy are the postures, so gracious the whole effect, so
instinct with the quiet good breeding of an academic pastoral. All the
Umbrian reticence and discretion and humility of Raphael are in this
beautifully calculated work. It betrays, too, certain ominous symptoms
of display, in the way, for example, in which the figures at the window
protrude beyond the wall. Primarily this is only a way of softening two
ugly angles of the window opening, but it is also a concession to
Michelangelo’s dangerous habit of painting away the architecture. All
the forms have an amplitude and dignity akin to that of classical
sculpture. Hellas is for Raphael no longer a far-away, inaccessible
world, as it was, for example, to Botticelli. Raphael has effectively
reconstructed it, in part by a gracious act of intuition, in part by
study of the wall paintings and statues of old Rome.


  FIG. 189. Raphael. Prudence, Temperance, Force—generally called
    Jurisprudence. Fresco.—_Vatican._

The decoration of the Camera della Segnatura was completed triumphantly
with the fresco symbolizing Jurisprudence, Figure 189, in which Raphael
invents a new and beautiful compositional formula. Having to deal with a
lunette awkwardly shortened by the window, he used three seated figures
signifying the judging, restraining and rewarding aspects of justice.
There is no strict centrality and no exact symmetry. The large curves of
the figures play off from each other in a continuous rhythm melting into
the bounding curve. One may conceive it in terms of the growth of
plants, as so many sprays meeting, diverging, opposing each other, and
all managing to conform to the line of an arch. It is a type of
composition that Raphael will develop with still greater subtlety in the
Sibyls of the Madonna della Pace.

When Raphael finished the Camera della Segnatura he was about
twenty-eight years old. His remaining nine years added certain
remarkable portraits, the Castiglione, the Leo X, Figure 190, the
Fornarina and the young Cardinal at Madrid, one sublime altar-piece, in
the Sistine Madonna; a dramatic masterpiece in the Transfiguration, and
a few frescoes. But in the main these are years of retrogression. His
popularity had got beyond his power to utilize it. Michelangelo in 1512
had unveiled the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Raphael, with all Rome,
felt qualities of energy and grandeur which he himself lacked, and, with
less than his usual intelligence, began a fruitless emulation. The last
three _Stanze_ show in their very look that Raphael is no longer his
unperturbed self. The figures no longer hold up their place on the wall,
they crowd out toward the spectator appallingly. The compositions no
longer show restful patterns which conform to the flatness of the wall.
There are disturbing flashes of light and obscure gaps. The figures
themselves are contorted and vehement; straining sinews and knotted
muscles are advertised for their own sake. Emulating the sublimity of
Michelangelo, Raphael only achieves sensationalism. Then he is no longer
a painter but a director of painting. Nothing but the designs are now
his own. The working sketches and cartoons are by his pupils, who work
under the sway of a young Mantuan of facile and brutal talent, Giulio
Romano. One passes through the last three Stanze with mixed feelings.
The high pleasures of art are left behind; remains the spell of great
power and intelligence now almost untouched by taste.


  FIG. 190. Raphael. Pope Leo X.—_Pitti._


  FIG. 191. Raphael. Heliodorus driven from the Temple by a Celestial
    Horseman. Fresco.—_Vatican._

The Stanza of Heliodorus finished in 1514 contains a superbly dramatic
fresco of Heliodorus, Figure 191, thrust by a celestial horseman from
the temple he would profane. The execution is mostly by Giulio Romano.
Raphael himself appears in one of his most massive designs, the Mass of
Bolsena. The theme is a sceptical priest persuaded of the truth of the
sacramental miracle through the bleeding of the wafer. The miracle takes
place in the presence of Pope Julius II. There is a weight of character
in the picture which is unique in Raphael’s mural painting. The
adjustment of masses is in an impeccable symmetry all the more difficult
that the space is irregular and refractory. The fine figures that carry
the theme down into the narrow rectangles alongside the window are in
part repainted by a young rival of Raphael, Michelangelo’s protegé,
Sebastiano del Piombo.

The Chamber of the _Incendio_, finished in 1517, shows even more plainly
the devastating influence of Michelangelo. The subject is a fire
arrested miraculously by Pope Leo IV, Figure 192. It is a magnificent
display of poses and anatomy, an artistic show window rather than a
decoration. The eye wanders in bewilderment to find the picture and
finds nothing but isolated, splendid forms posing superbly or simulating
unfelt emotions. From the point of view of decoration, the space has
been systematically violated. Again the remorseless hand of Giulio
Romano is everywhere felt. This is the last anteroom of the Vatican
which Raphael saw finished, though he left to his helpers many sketches
for the two remaining _Stanze_.


  FIG. 192. Raphael’s Design executed by Giulio Romano. Il Borgo. The
    Fire at Rome.—_Vatican._

In 1516 and 1517 Raphael is superintending half a dozen great tasks at
once. From the early months of 1515 he had been Bramante’s successor as
architect of new St. Peter’s, the same year he became superintendent of
all archæological excavations at Rome. To these heavy administrative
charges he adds the decoration of the Farnesina, the continuation of the
_Stanze_, designs for mosaics in Santa Maria del Popolo, plans for two
private palaces, sixteen cartoons for the Vatican tapestries, and the
preliminary studies for the Loggia of the Vatican. He designs half a
dozen great altar-pieces and paints with his own hand the Portrait of
Leo X, the marvelous St. Cecilia at Bologna, the Sibyls of the Pace, and
the Sistine Madonna. He was rich and beloved, great nobles pressed him
with social attentions, and a cardinal vainly sought to ally him with
his family by marriage.

We can consider these multiform activities of the later years only in
general terms. The tapestry cartoons at South Kensington representing
the miracles of St. Peter and St. Paul complete that magnificent line of
narrative painting that begins with Giotto. Raphael works for simplicity
and concentration and dignity in an eminently classic spirit. One feels
the influence of Masaccio. Though rudely executed to guide the Flemish
weavers and executed by the assistant, Penni, the mind of Raphael
controls the form throughout. Such designs as the Miraculous Draught of
Fishes, Paul Preaching at Athens, the Death of Ananias, the Blinding of
the Sorcerer Elymas are among the marvels of our art. Yet many of these
designs are over-studied, and few I feel fully bear the comparison with
the best of Giotto and Masaccio. A little over-emphasis of style recalls
the bitter word of Michelangelo concerning Raphael—that he succeeded not
by grace of nature but by study.

The frescoes of the Life of Psyche, in the Farnesina, are beautiful in
arrangement and full of a robust paganism. But the wall is overcharged
with the weight of figures which too often show Giulio Romano’s heavy
and insolent hand. All the same, the whole effect is gracious and the
garlanded borders of the coves and spandrels by Giovanni da Udine are
delightful. To realize how much these frescoes lost from student
execution one has only to consider the Galatea, Figure 192a, in the same
Palace, which Raphael painted himself in 1514. It is on the verge of
over-ripeness, but keeps its saving element of restraint. In answer to
an inquiry from that great diplomat and gentleman, Count Baldassare
Castiglione, Raphael wrote that though beautiful models were not rare,
for the Galatea as for other figures, he had followed only an idea; and
indeed the mind’s eye is what ever counts with Raphael.


  FIG. 192_a._> Raphael. Galatea. Fresco.—_Farnesina, Rome._


  FIG. 193. Raphael. The Sistine Madonna.—_Dresden._

Raphael’s final work for the Vatican was the decoration of an open,
vaulted Loggia. He invented fifty-two little Bible stories, leaving most
of the painting to his assistant, Penni, and he drew about the arches,
pilasters and window frames the most delicious arabesques. From study of
similar decoration in the Baths of Titus he worked out a style, crisp,
formal and sophisticated, and as various as Gothic ornament itself.
Geometrical, animal, and plant forms meet and blend audaciously. There
is interplay of spiral and angular motives, the whole effect is highly
playful and ingenious. The style has had vogue to our own day and still
speaks to us charmingly of the unserious side of Raphael.


  FIG. 194. Raphael. The Transfiguration.—_Vatican._

Perhaps in the harassed, competitive years we have been describing,
Raphael turned occasionally upon his own ingenuity, and refreshed
himself by renewing these simple and gracious modes in which he had been
bred. Such a theory would account for the Sistine Madonna, Figure 193,
and in part for his last picture, the Transfiguration. The most
memorable of Raphael’s Madonnas is based on the lucid symmetry of
Perugino. Although, for greater concentration, the background is merely
a sky, the hovering figures are easily spaced in the usual triangle. The
effect is ineffably grand and gentle. A quiet silvery cloudland is
created and filled by the devotion of the attendant saints and the
inspired glance of the Virgin and her Son. With all the resources of the
Renaissance, Raphael has expressed an emotion as intense and reverent as
that of Fra Angelico. It is an amazing act of the sympathetic
intelligence, for there is no reason to suppose that the painter was
ever a deeply religious spirit.

Almost as traditional was the unfinished picture before which in
springtime of 1520 Raphael’s body lay in state. The Transfiguration,
Figure 194, repeats the method of the Disputa. The celestial group of
Christ and Moses and Elijah is disposed as Perugino would have
counselled, in a swaying triangular group set before the gulf of the
firmament. Raphael painted this part with his own hand. The lower part,
which was left to Giulio Romano to finish, rests on the maxims and
practice of Leonardo. An energetic variety compelled into a close
balance is the ideal, a formal order which contains and softens
otherwise extravagant expressions and gestures. There is perhaps
intended not merely an illustration of the Gospel text, but also the
contrast between that life of contemplation towards which the soul
aspires, and that world of suffering of mind and body which presses
closely upon our rare moments of spiritual escape.

Even that world of facts had been very kind to Raphael. It was fitting
then that in his last days he should forget the haunting spectre of
Michelangelo’s sublimity, and should use his last forces in an imitation
which was a sort of gratitude to those two great masters who had set him
on the right way. One would like to believe that the Sistine Madonna and
the Transfiguration are the sign that Raphael when overtaken by an
untimely death was purging himself of an unfruitful rivalry, and
becoming once more master of his own soul. Yet since even Michelangelo
shipwrecked on the Michelangelesque, it is an open question whether
Raphael could ever have permanently recovered his natural equipoise.
However that be, Raphael in the glorious years from 1500 to 1512 resumes
and perfects every gentle, orderly, and reasonable strain in Italian
painting. Whether in portraiture or narrative, in mythology or
symbolism, in pictures of the Madonna or in pure decoration, he gave to
Italian painting its final stamp. He achieved a grandeur of space
composition akin to the movement of a symphony, a hidden structure more
appealing than any separate hue or form. His best work rests on a great
humility, and his later pride went far towards undoing him as an artist.
Such pride was the breath of life and the source of strength to his
rival Michelangelo, the fulfiller and perfector of everything that had
been insurgent, unbounded and not quite reasonable in the art of

By a peculiar irony all that was valuable in such truculent and
self-sufficing predecessors as Donatello and Bertoldo, Andrea del
Castagno, Antonio Pollaiuolo and Luca Signorelli was finally
concentrated in the small and ill-favored body of a neurasthenic. There
is the tragedy of Michelangelo[69] in its simplest terms. A Titan in
capacity to feel and work, he lived in an atmosphere of suspicion and
fear. Thrice he ran away from physical danger, once was virtually a
military deserter. To unworthy dependent relatives he gave lavishly,
scolding and fretting as he gave. He deliberately affronted two of the
most courteous and accomplished colleagues, Leonardo da Vinci and
Perugino. He suspected the worst of his gracious and generous rival,
Raphael. From a Roman studio as unkempt and filthy as its owner, he
snarled at the world and himself like a dog from a kennel.

Yet, note the paradox, this snarling is embodied in fine poetry, and
this haggard and more than untidy artist is the friend of such elect
spirits as Tommaso Cavalieri and Vittoria Colonna. Transient solaces.
Near the end of his long life he writes:—

             “Alas! Alas! again and once again
             I see my past and there I find not one—
             In all, not one whole day that has been mine.”

These were the words of a man who was admired like a god and had
achieved a lifework of unexampled copiousness and athleticism.

The great enigma, how Michelangelo converted what are usually weaknesses
into sources of artistic strength, may best be faced in his life and
works. He was born at Caprese in 1475, soon taken back to Florence and
put to nurse with a stonecutter’s wife, with whose milk he later used to
say he sucked in the mallets and chisels he wielded so powerfully. At
thirteen he was articled to Ghirlandaio as a paid assistant and
doubtless did some minor work on those prettiest of frescoes in the
choir of Santa Maria Novella. Extricating himself from an uncongenial
task, he became one of the protegés of Lorenzo de’ Medici, studying the
antique marbles of the Medici Gardens under the kindly guidance of old
Bertoldo. There he mingled freely for three years in the most learned
and gentle society of the time. He mastered anatomy and modelling,
searched the compositional secrets of Masaccio. Soon Savonarola’s
revolution dismantled that artistic paradise which had been the Medici
Gardens, and Michelangelo became what he frequently was afterwards, a
fugitive and a solitary man, without either fixed friendships or abiding


  FIG. 195. Michelangelo. Holy Family of the Doni.—_Uffizi._

How he made himself great in sculpture is not our theme. He was thirty
and already the master of the David and the Pietà before he began to be
a painter. His first commission, in 1505, was for a Holy Family, Figure
195, in medallion form for Agnolo Doni, who at the same time was having
his portrait painted by Raphael. The picture as we see it in the Uffizi
shows a master who thinks in fresco. The brown flesh, the dull yellows
and blues of the draperies could have come from the Brancacci chapel.
Remarkable is the complete waiver of charm and sweetness. The superb
figures are skilfully contorted into interesting poses, the circle is
densely filled and the few interstices left by the main figures are
filled with athletic nudes. The aim, which is successfully attained, is
an austere grandeur. There is to be no ordinary human appeal in our
youthful Lord and his parents.


  FIG. 196. Michelangelo. Detail from Cartoon of the Bathers, by the
    contemporary engraver, Marcantonio.

At this moment Leonardo was already well advanced on the cartoon for the
Battle of the Standard, treating it in terms of literal narrative. In
1505 Michelangelo received a signal honor in the commission for the
companion fresco, the Battle of Pisa. Both were for the Hall of the
Great Council. We can imagine Michelangelo casting about for a reason to
abandon a narrative treatment and to find one that could be expressed by
the nude. He found it in an incident in Leonardo Aretino’s Chronicle. It
seemed that the trumpet found the Florentine men-at-arms bathing in the
Arno. Here was the theme of what was properly called The Bathers. Great
muscular forms are drawing themselves up the bank, and are hurrying into
clothes and armor. We have not a fight, but its alarm and imminence, a
fine imaginative substitute for the obvious event. The picture was never
executed, and the cartoon, which was the marvel of its day, was soon
destroyed, but Michelangelo’s sketches tells us something of the
composition, and the contemporary engraver, Marcantonio, Figure 196, has
left us a masterly print of the central group. It is plain that
Michelangelo made a display of minute anatomy that put his
contemporaries to shame, plain also that he subordinated this feature to
monumental effect. The failure to execute the fresco and the destruction
of the cartoon must count among the capital losses in the history of

Burdened already with the impossible task of the tomb of Julius II,
Michelangelo was called to Rome to fresco the vault of the Sistine
Chapel. Contemporary gossip believed that he was proposed by the jealous
and shifty Bramante, architect of St. Peter’s, in the hope of
discrediting him. If so, Bramante reckoned ill. At first Michelangelo
planned a very modest scheme of colossal figures of Apostles in the
twelve spandrels. Soon, dismissing his incompetent helpers, he attacked
single-handed the present great scheme. He worked at it four bitter
years, and came out of it temporarily crippled and with eyes distorted
from the constant strain of looking upwards. The ceiling was unveiled on
All Saint’s Day of 1512 and has been a portent ever since.


  FIG. 197. Michelangelo. The two Western Compartments of the Ceiling of
    the Sistine Chapel: God parting Light from Darkness; God creating
    the Sea and Plants. Example of the Decorative Scheme.

Enter the Sistine Chapel, turn your back to the overwhelming apparition
of the Last Judgment, and your eye will naturally seek the lightest part
of the rich decoration. In a long strip, down the centre of the ceiling,
made up of nine oblongs alternately large and small, colossal figures
stand out against the sky. We see the drama of the Creation and Fall of
man. Nude titans play the minor parts in so many simultaneous scenes.
The gigantic, draped form of the Eternal dominates the first five. We
see him an aged athlete, an expression of utmost physical force, rending
chaos asunder into light and darkness; by his touch illumining the sun
and moon; Figure 197, drawing out the plants from the earth. I know no
more sublime conception in painting than the figure of God assigning the
oceans their place, Figure 198. Here is a form that would weigh tons
hovering with the lightness of an eagle in space, with extended
beneficent arms as solid as reality but coaxed out of the wet plaster
with touch and hues as delicate as those of a Whistler symphony. A
miracle of conception and of workmanship.


  FIG. 198. Michelangelo. God hovering over the Waters. Shows the
    decorative use of the so-called “Slaves.”—_Vatican._


  FIG. 199. Michelangelo. Creation of Adam.

The eye will dwell longest on the great fresco of the Creation of Adam,
Figure 199. It is all noble energy in the figure of God giving life by
His touch, all noble languor in the relaxed form of Adam only dimly
conscious of himself and wistful. There could be no truer or more
striking illustration of the pessimistic view that life was imposed upon
the earth and brought sadness with it. The titan form of Adam has a
singular and enigmatic relaxation. He undergoes a gift he has never
besought and faces it with something between confusion, mistrust and
resignation. Perhaps the splendid body would have been more at ease, had
the soul not been added. So in a spirit of Christian pessimism
Michelangelo represents Deity sharing its divine powers with the first

At the centre of the ceiling is the creation of Eve, again an
extraordinary study in lassitude, but with a significant difference in
the figure of Eve. The woman, the chosen receptacle and transmitter of
life, accepts the gift eagerly. She presses up to God in thankful
adoration. No doubts or ambiguities here. And what a figure—fit to be
the mother of a race, exulting already in a fecundity that is to be most
grievous. Compare her action with the languid and almost disdainful
gesture of Adam in the last fresco, and learn that if the world is still
peopled it is due to the unreflective and unshaken fealty to life of all
Eve’s true daughters.


  FIG. 200. Michelangelo. The Temptation and Expulsion from Eden.

Perhaps the most decorative subject, if one may use the word of themes
so morally impressive, is that which represents the sin of the forbidden
fruit and the expulsion from Eden, Figure 200. The elements of pathos
which are strong in the story of Genesis are absent. Michelangelo has
not deigned to show us a habitable or desirable Eden. We see instead the
swiftly changing episodes of a great doom, which culminates in this
scene. Marvelous are the paired groups, superb the contrast between
careless appetite under the tree of knowledge and utter shame in the
exiled pair. One feels that Eve, who shrinks most, will soonest recover.
Her mission is still valid in the world of sin and shame. The
composition is the first one made up entirely of nudes.

We may pass quickly over the three compartments devoted to the story of
Noah. The scale of the figures, especially in the Deluge, is too small
to count at the distance from the eye. These three frescoes were the
beginning of the work, the proper scale being arrived at through trial
and error. Inherently the two small oblongs are among the most beautiful
in the ceiling, having a stylistic grace that is less marked in the
earlier more august themes. With the charm of Greek intaglios these
stories of Noah combine monumentality.


  FIG. 201. Michelangelo. The Prophet Jeremiah.

I have tried to put myself in the position of a visitor to the Sistine
Chapel following the instincts of his eye. At this point, having glanced
over the ceiling, his mind might well come in and ask the meaning of a
whole of which he is becoming dimly aware. The nine scenes above are
simply the historic axioms upon which the Christian scheme of redemption
is based. The abstract sparseness of the nine episodes from Genesis is
justified by the fact that they are less human events than terms in a
great argument, which runs as follows: We were created innocent, sinned
in our first parents, were spared in the world-flood and promised
eventual redemption.

This prolonged drama of redemption is witnessed by a solemn chorus of
draped male and female figures enthroned impressively in the spandrels.
Here, representing respectively the pagan and Hebrew world, are seven
sibyls and five prophets who had the dim but certain vision of a coming
Redeemer. These figures as Hawthorne has well said are “necessarily so
gigantic because the weight of thought within them is so massive.” They
brood quietly or sway with the burden of yearning. They are
magnificently draped and contrast most decoratively with the many nudes
of the ceiling. They vary in age and disposition. Contrast the actively
inspired and youthful Daniel, or the fiery Ezechiel with the ponderous
gravity of Jeremiah, Figure 201. What shades of delicate
characterization are in the athletic loveliness of the Delphic Sibyl,
Figure 202, the powerfully concentrated senility of The Cumean Sibyl,
she who predicted to Virgil the new era of salvation, and the
aristocratic aloofness of the Libyan seeress, Figure 203, most daintily
preparing her day’s work in divination.


  FIG. 202. Michelangelo. The Delphic Sibyl.


  FIG. 203. Michelangelo. The Libyan Sibyl.

Magnificent is the indignant sprawling form of the unwilling prophet
Jonah, remanded by the sea to an ungrateful mission. He is the active
counterpart of the passive Adam on the ceiling. He obeys under protest.
The form itself, foreshortened against the curve of the spandrel, is a
masterpiece of draughtsmanship. Decoratively it is the link between the
nudes of the ceiling and the draped prophets and sibyls.

Below the prophetic figures, in the older frescoes of the side walls,
are set the foreshadowing of the work of salvation in the life of Moses
and its accomplishment in the life of Christ, and the drama closes with
Michelangelo’s Last Judgment on the altar wall. There Christ separates
eternally the saved from the damned, echoing the definitive gesture with
which God in the adjoining ceiling separates light from darkness. So the
scheme closes with the inexorable logic with which it began.

The decorative task of Michelangelo was to mediate between the prophets
and sibyls and the ceiling frescoes above, and likewise to link the
great figures with the side walls below. Above, he set a multitude of
nude forms. On the massive sides of the twelve thrones are four
caryatids in two pairs. At the top of these piers are seated the lithe
forms of nude youths, Figure 198, forty in all, supporting medallions
and bent into every conceivable attitude that might set off the
flexibility and power of these superb young bodies. But however
extravagant any single pose may be, it is immediately balanced by an
opposing thrust from some other body, so that the whole composition is
locked together into an active and thrilling equilibrium. Even the
triangles over the coves are filled with huddled nudes most adroitly
disposed in the narrow and refractory spaces.

Below the prophets and sibyls, the linking motives are made up of draped
figures. Weakest are the caryatid geniuses below each throne. The
triangular splays at the corners contain those four bloody and
sensational acts which assured the perpetuity of God’s Chosen People—the
Raising of the Brazen Serpent, the Slaying of Goliath and of
Holophernes, the Hanging of Haaman.


  FIG. 204. Michelangelo. Decoration of Cove over Window.

In the triangles roofing the coves and in the lunettes about the arched
window heads are family groups of the ancestors and precursors of
Christ. Figure 204. The mood of anticipation which has been calm and
official in the prophets becomes agitated, passionate, personal in these
half hidden groups. So many pilgrims of eternity yearn for the
fulfillment that shall give meaning to their wanderings—a promised goal
and rest. Very subtle and beautiful is the contrast between the groups
sundered by the window heads, individually meditative, and those which
blend their longing in the close relations forced by the triangular
coves. What has begun as noble abstraction finishes in terms of almost
inexpressible tenderness. In color the whole gigantic composition is
unified by a sonorous chord of yellow and violet which is moderately
asserted in the ceiling and pushed to the utmost in the spandrels. Of
the color John La Farge has written: “The unity is so great, the balance
of effects so harmonious, that it is only by study that we see expressed
in the methods of the painting the ancient rules, handed down by
practice, which unite with the latest teaching of modern scientific
coloring.” What a mind it took to hold the tumultuous and pathetic
details of this great work within an enveloping order and calm!


  FIG. 205. Michelangelo. The Last Judgment.

In framing his great work out of nudes relieved by draped figures,
Michelangelo renewed the Grecian practice. Precisely the difference
between the Sistine ceiling and the metopes of the Parthenon, or the
frieze of Pergamon, raises the question—What does the nude of
Michelangelo express? I do not find in it, at least in the Sistine
ceiling, much of that terribleness, _terribiltà_, which has been
remarked by critics from Vasari to Henri Beyle. It seems to me rather an
art of lassitude and relaxation, the reluctantly awaking Adam being the
clue to the mood. Except for the gestures of God and Eve, the gestures
and poses are unspecific. The lithe bodies of the slaves are twisted
only that they may attain consciousness of powers which have no use. The
relaxation which marks nearly all the nudes, whether in the stories or
in the incidental ornament, is not that of fatigue after action, nor yet
that of preparation for an ordeal. In barren lassitude we have expressed
powers which do not imply action or use, but breathe a great melancholy.
We are far from the splendors of passion and achievement, we see
humanity confused at a fate that calls itself God, a passive factor in
an arbitrary process that makes the glory of the flesh a vain thing. As
a humanist, Michelangelo asserts that failing glory, as a Christian he
accepts the nothingness of mankind and the rightness of God’s
inscrutable and apparently cruel designs. Perhaps the spell of
Michelangelo, his æsthetic, to put it pedantically, is simply the noble
resignation with which the humanist accepts the Christian pessimism as
regards this world. And here I may note that Rodin has significantly
shown that even the forms of Michelangelo are not uprising and resilient
like the antique, but compressed and yielding like those of the
Christian Gothic sculptors.

Twenty-one years after the Sistine ceiling was unveiled, Michelangelo
began reluctantly the great fresco of the Last Judgment, Figure 205. He
worked on it for seven years, and it was unveiled on Christmas Day of
1541. How the choristers had the heart to chant the angelic message of
peace and good will before it, I cannot imagine. Michelangelo was
sixty-six years old, a disillusioned and embittered man, an alien in the
corrupt and pleasure loving Rome of Paul III. He has put into the Christ
all his contempt for mankind. The Christ who earlier wrathfully hurled
the darts in the Umbrian plague banners has become a far darting Apollo,
Figure 206, rejoicing in his dire task. Behind him the murky air is full
of hurtling contorted angels, in aspect quite indistinguishable from
fiends, who bear the implements of the Passion. Below, the just and
unjust rise or fall in knots and festoons of writhing nude bodies all
equally sinister. The conception is violently corporeal, and never
elsewhere in painting has the human body been used with such ingenuity
and power. But it is a power that defeats itself. I believe the
spectator is not so much appalled as confused before the Last Judgment.
Its vehemence seems so unrelieved and insensate. If this be indeed the
goal of mankind, no wonder moody Adam in the ceiling above faces his
Creator with doubt and a hint of distrust.


  FIG. 206. Michelangelo. Christ with the Virgin and the Apostles. From
    the Last Judgment.

Its sheer display of force won all contemporaries, and the French critic
and superman, Stendhal, has highly praised the work for its burning
energy. While not sharing his enthusiasm, I gladly refer the reader to
his admirable pages. In my own opinion the creative ardor of
Michelangelo had waned by this time. He offers, instead, his spleen,
which is more valuable than most men’s genius, and his amazing technical
skill. Michelangelo has become Michelangelesque. That is deplorably true
in the frescoes for the Pauline Chapel which were finished in 1547, his
seventy-second year. Nothing is left but sensationalism, and the Pope
does well not to exhibit these works. As regards humanity,
Michelangelo’s vein is completely exhausted. He still is capable of
exquisite calculation, as in the design for the dome of St. Peter’s,
still retains a dæmonic capacity for work and emotion, but the sculptor
in him is nearly dead and the painter completely so. The poet of the
rugged sonnets has superseded them both. When he died at 89, in 1564,
the little ill-favored body was honored like that of a king. His sheer
power had swept the whole rising generation of artists under his sway.
To their own hurt and to the bankruptcy of the Golden Age.

Such forms as Michelangelo’s are tolerable only when possessed by that
melancholy poetry of his which gives them meaning. If the serene
intelligence of a Raphael had not found emotions to fill such forms, if
Michelangelo himself in his later years falls back on a monotonous
formula of terribleness, what hope was there for such uninspired
imitators as the Venustis, Volterras, and Vasaris? One and all, they
entertained monstrous delusions of effortless attainment—cleverly
contorted their nudes, shrewdly calculated their terrors. And the Roman
art of the Golden Age, forgetting both the wise humility of Umbria and
the reasonable pride of Florence, suddenly collapsed in the ugliest and
most irrational ostentation. Michelangelo had passed—to fulfill and to

                      ILLUSTRATIONS FOR CHAPTER VI


  In an offhand mention in _The Courtier_ Baldasarre Castiglione tells
  us who seemed to be great artists to a cultured and well-informed
  gentleman about the year 1508. Titian had not yet emerged and of the
  older men only Leonardo da Vinci and Mantegna are remembered. As
  seniors, they are the first mentioned.

  “Again various things give equal pleasure to the eyes, so that we can
  with difficulty decide what are more pleasing to them. You know that
  in painting Leonardo da Vinci, Mantegna, Raphael, Michelangelo,
  Giorgio da Castelfranco are very excellent, yet they are all unlike in
  their work; so that no one of them seems to lack anything in his own
  manner, since each is known as the most perfect in his style.”

  _The Book of the Courtier by Count Baldesar Castiglione_, translated
  by Leonard Ekstein Opdycke, New York, 1903, p. 50.


  It is said then that Michelangelo once gave his advice to Marcoda
  Siena, his pupil, that “one should make the figure pyramidal, spiral,
  (_serpentinata_) and multiplied by one, two, and three.” Lomazzo
  _Trattato_, Milan, 1484, p. 23. The pose, that is, should be contained
  geometrically, should display opposing thrusts, and should be
  mathematically proportioned within the inclosing geometrical form.

                      VASARI ON THE “MODERN STYLE”

  Vasari’s account of the Grand Style or “Third Manner,” in the Preface
  to Part III (De Vere’s translation, Vol. IV, pp. 79–85) is still
  authoritative. He praises the artists before Leonardo, but finds in
  them a certain hardness, lack of finish and uncertainty of
  proportions. The change to the perfect manner was caused by the
  discovery of ancient marbles.

  “After them [the predecessors of Leonardo], their successors were able
  to attain to it through seeing excavated out of the earth certain
  antiquities cited by Pliny as amongst the most famous, such as the
  Laocoon, the Hercules, the Great Torso of the Belvedere, and likewise
  the Venus, the Cleopatra, the Apollo, and an endless number of others,
  which, both with their sweetness and their severity, with their fleshy
  roundness copied from the greatest beauties of nature, and with
  certain attitudes which involve no distortion of the whole figure but
  only a movement of certain parts, which are revealed with a most
  perfect grace, brought about the disappearance of a certain dryness,
  hardness, and sharpness of manner....

  [He mentions the contemporary admiration of such precursors as Francia
  and Perugino.]

  “But their error was afterwards clearly proved by the works of
  Leonardo da Vinci, who, giving a beginning to that third manner which
  we propose to call the modern—besides the force and boldness of his
  drawing, and the extreme subtlety wherewith he counterfeited all the
  minutenesses of nature exactly as they are—with good rule, better
  order, right proportion, perfect drawing, and divine grace, abounding
  in resources and having a most profound knowledge of art, may be truly
  said to have endowed his figures with motion and breath.

  “There followed after him, although at some distance, Giorgione da
  Castelfranco, who obtained a beautiful gradation of colour in his
  pictures ...; and not inferior to him in giving force, relief,
  sweetness, and grace to his pictures, with his colouring, was Fra
  Bartolommeo di San Marco. But more than all did the most gracious
  Rafaello da Urbino, who, studying the labours of the old masters and
  those of the Moderns, took the best from them, and, having gathered it
  together, enriched the art of painting with that complete perfection
  which was shown in ancient times by the figures of Apelles and Zeuxis,
  nay, even more, if we may make bold to say it, as might be proved if
  we could compare their works with his. Wherefore nature was left
  vanquished by his colours....

  “In the same manner, but sweeter in colouring and not so bold, there
  followed Andrea del Sarto, who may be called a rare painter, for his
  works are free from errors.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  “But he who bears the palm from both the living and the dead,
  transcending and eclipsing all others, is the divine Michelangelo
  Buonarotti, who holds the sovereignty not merely of one of these arts,
  but of all three together. This master surpasses and excels not only
  all those moderns who have almost vanquished nature, but even those
  most famous ancients who without a doubt did so gloriously surpass
  her; and in his own self he triumphs over moderns, ancients, and
  nature, who could scarcely conceive anything so strange and so
  difficult that he would not be able, by the force of his most divine
  intellect and by means of his industry, draughtsmanship, art, judgment
  and grace, to excel it by a great measure; and that not only in
  painting and in the use of colours under which title are comprised all
  forms, and all bodies upright or not upright, palpable or impalpable,
  visible or invisible, but also in the highest perfection of bodies in
  the round, with the point of his chisel.”


  The humanist Benedetto Varchi, renewing the debate which Leonardo da
  Vinci had started concerning the relative rank of sculpture and
  painting, sent the text of his lecture to Michelangelo and asked for
  his opinion. The sculptor writes in 1549:

  “In my opinion painting should be considered excellent in proportion
  as it approaches the effect of relief, while relief should be
  considered bad as it approaches the effect of painting. I used to
  consider that sculpture was the lantern of painting and that between
  the two things there was the same difference as that between the sun
  and the moon. But now that I have read your book, in which, speaking
  as a philosopher, you say that things which have the same end are
  themselves the same, I have changed my opinion; and I now consider
  that painting and sculpture are one and the same thing, unless greater
  nobility be imparted by the necessity for a keener judgment, greater
  difficulties of execution, stricter limitations and harder work. And
  if this be the case, no painter ought to think less of sculpture than
  of painting and no sculptor less of painting than of sculpture. By
  sculpture I mean the sort that is executed by cutting away from the
  block: the sort that is executed by building up resembles painting.
  That is enough, for as one and the other, that is to say, both
  painting and sculpture proceed from the same faculty, it would be an
  easy matter to establish harmony between them and to let such disputes
  alone, for they occupy more time than the execution of the figures
  themselves. As to that man [Leonardo da Vinci] who wrote saying that
  painting was more noble than sculpture, as though he knew as much
  about it as he did of the other subjects on which he has written, why
  my serving-maid would have written better!”

  From Robert W. Carden, _Michelangelo, a Record of his Life_, Boston
  and New York, 1913, a book which from Michelangelo’s letters gives a
  very intimate view of the sculptor’s character.


  No critic of art has better expressed the ideal of the Grand Style
  than Sir Joshua Reynolds. I quote from the third of his _Discourses_,
  in the admirable edition of Roger E. Fry, New York, 1906. pp. 51 ff.

  “Every language has adopted terms expressive of this excellence. The
  _gusto grande_ of the Italians, the _beau idéal_ of the French and the
  _great style_, _genius_ and _taste_ among the English, are but
  different appellations of the same thing. It is this intellectual
  dignity, they say, that ennobles the Painter’s Art; that lays the line
  between him and the mere mechanic: and produces those great effects in
  an instant, which eloquence and poetry, by slow and repeated efforts,
  are scarcely able to retain....” [The grand style is seen to rest upon
  a sort of generalizing tendency.] “The whole beauty and grandeur of
  the Art consists, in my opinion, in being able to get above all
  singular forms, local customs, particularities and details of every
  kind.” [The artist] “being enabled to distinguish the accidental
  deficiencies, excrescences, and deformities of things, from their
  general figures, he makes out an abstract idea of their forms more
  perfect than any one original; and, what may seem a paradox, he learns
  to design naturally by drawing his figures unlike to any one object.”
  [Sir Joshua advocates the study of the antique, not to imitate any
  single work, but to master the principle that underlies them all.]
  “Beauty and simplicity have so great a share in the composition of the
  great style, that he who has acquired them has little else to learn.
  It must not, indeed, be forgotten that there is a nobleness of
  conception, which goes beyond any thing in the mere exhibition of
  perfect form; there is an art of animating and dignifying the figures
  with intellectual grandeur, of impressing the appearance of
  philosophic wisdom, or heroic virtue. This can only be acquired by him
  that enlarges the sphere of his understanding by a variety of
  knowledge, and warms his imagination with the best productions of
  ancient and modern poetry.”


  The ideals of the High Renaissance are eloquently, if incidentally,
  defined by the late Kenyon Cox in _The Classic Point of View_, New
  York, 1911. pp. 3–5.

  “The Classic spirit is the disinterested search for perfection; it is
  the love of clearness and reasonableness and self-control; it is,
  above all, the love of permanence and of continuity. It asks of a work
  of art, not that it shall be novel or effective, but that it shall be
  fine and noble. It seeks not merely to express individuality or
  emotion, but to express disciplined emotion and individuality
  restrained by law. It strives for the essential rather than the
  accidental, the eternal rather than the momentary—loves impersonality
  more than personality, and feels more power in the orderly succession
  of the hours and the seasons than in the violence of earthquake or of
  storm. And it loves to steep itself in tradition. It would have each
  new work connect itself in the mind of him who sees it with all the
  noble and lively works of the past, bringing them to his memory and
  making their beauty and charm a part of the beauty and charm of the
  work before him. It does not deny originality and individuality—they
  are as welcome as inevitable. It does not consider tradition as
  immutable or set rigid bounds to invention. But it desires that each
  new presentation of truth and beauty shall show us the old truth and
  the old beauty, seen only from a different angle and colored by a
  different medium. It wishes to add link by link to the chain of
  tradition, but it does not wish to break the chain.”


  An artistic collapse whether in an artist or a nation is usually due
  to a prior collapse in morale. Florence suffered such loss of face
  when the Imperialists stormed the city and crushed the Republic. We
  may study the disaster in Michelangelo’s personal case and in its
  effect on the citizenry at large. Michelangelo was military engineer.
  Writing from Venice, Sept. 25, 1529, he describes his desertion with
  singular objectivity:

  “I had intended to remain in Florence to the end of the war, having no
  fears for my own safety. But on Tuesday morning, the 21st of
  September, a certain person came out by the Porta a San Nicolò while I
  was engaged in inspecting the bastions, and whispered in my ear that I
  must remain there no longer if I valued my life. He accompanied me to
  my house, dined there, brought me horses, and never left my side until
  he had carried me out of Florence, declaring that it was for my good
  that he so acted. Whether it were God or the devil I cannot say.”

  From Robert W. Carden, _Michelangelo, a Record of his Life_, Boston
  and New York, 1913, p. 168.

  Florence suffered not from hallucinations, as this seems to have been,
  but from the humiliation and confusion incident upon defeat and
  foreign occupation. I translate from Benedetto Varchi’s _Storia_, the
  extract in Ancona and Bacci’s _Manuele della Letteratura Italiana_,
  Vol. II, p. 506.

  “The city of Florence when her liberty was lost was full of such
  sorrow, of such terror, of such confusion, that it can hardly be
  described or even imagined.... The nobles were indignant among
  themselves and inwardly resented being scorned and vilified by the
  lowest classes; the plebeians in extreme need, would not refrain at
  least from relieving their minds about the nobility; the rich, how
  they could manage not to lose their property; the poor, day and night,
  what they should do not to die utterly and of famine; the citizens
  were dismayed and desperate, because they had spent and lost a lot:
  the peasants, much more, because there remained for them nothing at
  all; the priests were ashamed of having deceived the laity; the laity
  grieved at having believed the priests; men had become extraordinarily
  suspicious and covetous; women immeasurably incredulous and
  distrustful: finally, every one with lowered face and staring eyes,
  seemed beside himself, and all without exception pallid and bewildered
  feared at all times every sort of ill.”

  From such a shell-shocked community as this, no serene or noble art
  was to be expected. It was much that Florence in bondage still could
  nurture the exquisitely morbid art of a Pontormo and the aristocratic
  detachment and _finesse_ of a Bronzino.


  FIG. 207. Giovanni Bellini. St. Francis receiving the Stigmata.—_H. C.
    Frick Coll., New York._

                              CHAPTER VII

  On the splendor of Venice—Italo-Byzantine painters of the 14th
      Century—Paduan, Veronese, and Umbrian Painters at Venice—Jacopo
      Bellini—Squarcione’s school at Padua, Carlo Crivelli—Andrea
      Mantegna, mentor for Northern Italy—Antonello da Messina’s
      Realism—The flowering of the old Narrative School in Gentile
      Bellino—Giovanni Bellini—The backward Vivarini—Carpaccio and the
      end of the old Narrative Style—Literary background of Giorgione’s
      Art—Giorgione of Castelfranco.

When, about the middle of the fifth century, a pitiful throng of
refugees sought safety from Attila and his Huns in the fens at the head
of the Adriatic, they took with them what was left of the constructive
genius of the Roman Empire. They raised amid the lagoons a healthful and
convenient city, which in the course of centuries became the most
beautiful in Europe. They developed a strong and wise oligarchy, under
forms sufficiently democratic to satisfy the people. They attained an
extraordinary capacity for diplomacy and overseas trade—a brilliant
commercialized civilization. Secure in their isolation and wealth, the
Venetians mediated the long strife between the popes and the Teutonic
emperors, making favorable terms with both. Venice enjoyed a wholly
exceptional political stability. No other commune of Europe could have
fittingly assumed the title, Serenissima. Her galleys and sailing craft
plied to Candia, Rhodes, Smyrna, Alexandretta, Constantinople. Down the
Adriatic to Malta, her trading stations shone white under the yellow
cliffs. Her incoming ships brought back the splendid rugs and silks and
embroideries from the Levant, the beautiful potteries of Asia Minor,
Persia and distant China, the veined marbles and porphyries of Egypt and
of Istria to build into her churches and palaces. She was astute and
powerful enough to divert a crusade into a plundering expedition against
her rival, Constantinople. And thus she got the four antique bronze
horses still chafing above the portico of St. Mark’s and many a relic of
the later Byzantine splendor. Her doors ever opened to the Orient. Her
quays swarmed with turbaned traders. The Greeks had their churches and
confraternities at Venice, and so had the Slavonians. For articles of
luxury the northern caravans came to Venice over the Brenner to load
from the German warehouses on the Grand Canal.

So stable, rich and proud a city was singularly slow in producing its
own art. Venice was never primarily a manufacturing community, and from
the first she expected to import most articles of luxury and display.
Thus when the manydomed Basilica rose over the body of her patron, St.
Mark, Venice called masters from Constantinople to enrich the surfaces
with mosaics, and when, towards the end of the fourteenth century, she
wished to picture the new Palace of the Doges, she called not her own
artists to the task, but those of Padua, Verona and distant Fabriano.
Her originality and greatness in painting do not clearly assert
themselves until about 1475 in the work of the brothers Bellini, and by
1577, the year of Titian’s death, the period of her artistic supremacy
has passed. The whole development is comprised within a century; its
acceleration is even more remarkable than the tardiness of its
appearance. In three generations Venetian painting made the progress
that had required six in Tuscany, and the whole preparatory period,
which in Florence stretched over a century and three-quarters, is
included in the single life of such a master as Giovanni Bellini.

This means that Venetian painting followed simpler and more unperturbed
ideals than that of Florence. The composure, complacency, and
self-centered quality of the Venetians was a source of strength to their
artists and as well a limitation. The city stuck closely to its chief
business of gaining greatly in order to live magnificently. And unlike
Florence, Venice interprets magnificence in the most material terms, in
terms of velvet and veined marbles, fair skins and lustrous hair, in
feasting and measured revelry, grave and gentle manners, colorful
pageantry in honor of God, his saints and the Serenissima Republica. You
will not find poets, scholars, scientists a-plenty at Venice. Her
painters have no tendency to be also architects, sculptors,
mathematicians, theorists in æsthetics; they stick placidly to the main
business of painting. And perhaps just because the Venetian painter
refused to be diverted from the problems proper to his craft, his
progress was so rapid and assured, and the Venetian school, simply as
painting, the most beautiful school of painting the world has ever seen.

It was written in the lagoon itself that Venetian painting should be a
school of color. Long before the marble and porphyry palaces and the
shining bridges of Renaissance Venice spanned the canals, the brown
water gave its satiny reflections of rude hut, coppered galley, tawny
sail, and, in days of complete calm, of the serrated ivory of the Julian
Alps or the velvety azure of the Euganean Hills. As the city grew
palatially, the marble and gold of the palace fronts, and spires and
domes, with the buff and red of soaring bell towers, further enriched
the shimmering of the lagoon. Its waters were ruffled not merely by
winds blending and effacing the weaving of borrowed colors, but also by
the passing of gilded processional barges with rhythmical oars
celebrating the Assumption of the Virgin or the marriage of Venice to
the Adriatic.

Ashore the splendor was hardly less. Along the balustrades of
innumerable little bridges, the rose or yellow marble got an ineffable
finish from the touch of countless hands. Dusky archways gave upon
courts encrusted with variegated marbles, porphyry and mosaics. In the
gloomy streets, gay pictorial frescoes enlivened the fronts of the less
pretentious houses. In the great Piazza of St. Mark and other open
spaces, often passed in solemn procession the religious confraternities
called Schools, the members garbed with a splendor rare even in the
Renaissance. There were clubs of young fops, not yet broken to the
paternal commerce, who gave themselves to the invention and display of
the finest tailoring and haberdashery. And the unorganized kindred
activities of the women of all ages were as effective from the point of
view of social display. Such was the spectacle that Venice offered the
painter for record and even more for inspiration. And the greatness of
the Venetian painters lay in their capacity to lend to this chiefly
material splendor their own kind of ideality.


  FIG. 208. Presentation; Flight to Egypt; Miracle at Cana; Temptation.
    From an Italo-Byzantine Altar-front of about 1350.—_Trieste._

When Venetian painting about the year 1350 made its first timid
assertions of originality, the leading influence was that of the late
Byzantine artists of the Slavonian coast and the Ionian Islands. We see
their narrative painting assuming a very slightly Italian guise in the
composite altar-front preserved in the museum of Trieste. Figure 208.
Its date cannot be very late in the fourteenth century, and the
stereotyped religious compositions represent models vividly before the
Venetian painter up to the Renaissance. Such Venetian masters as Paolo,
active from 1332 to 1358, and Lorenzo, whose work falls a generation
later, make slight and external improvements on the Byzantine
manner.[70] They reject its more rigid formulas—the gold web over
drapery, the multiplied small folds, the painfully schematized muscles.
They add on their own account radiant blond coloring, splendid brocades,
more gorgeous fashions of gilding, and a new type of architectural
arrangement. The elaborate altar-backs with perforated pilasters, and
flamboyant arches and cresting; with full-length figures below and
half-length of like scale above, become the standard form of Venetic
_ancona_ about 1350 and remains so for nearly a century and a half. We
may see the form, with the upper central panel modernized, in Lorenzo’s
Annunciation of 1357, in the Venetian Academy. The effect depends
largely on the frame-maker. Such altar-pieces are made more thoughtfully
by Caterino and Donato and indeed persist in all Northern Italy until
after 1450. Figure 211. We may study a similar type of _ancona_ with
narratives instead of single figures in the very accomplished and
colorful work doubtfully ascribed to Nicolo Semitecolo, towards the
beginning of the new century. Though the narratives follow pretty
closely the old Byzantine requirements, the whole surface shows the
flower-bed variety and harmony of color which is proper to Venice. Such
work, as a blend of Byzantine and Gothic features, repeats what Siena
had effected with far greater originality and _finesse_ about seventy
years earlier under Duccio and Simone Martini. Modena and Bologna and
Padua through the latter half of the fourteenth century share this
development, but again on a basis of rather marked inferiority to Siena.

The Venetian authorities were fully conscious of the backwardness of
their own artists. When the Ducal Palace was finished in 1365, they
called to fresco its great hall not any of the various local followers
of Paolo and Lorenzo, but Guariento from neighboring Padua. He executed
the great Coronation of the Virgin which was later damaged by fire and
covered by Tintoretto’s Paradise. The temporary removal of Tintoretto’s
canvas showed for a time the crumbling remains of Guariento’s fresco. It
is in an elaborate Gothic-Byzantine style and abounds in incidental
architectural ornament. Below the ceremony of the Coronation there is a
screen of pierced marble niches occupied by graceful angels. It is a
motive that will often recur in the new century. On the whole Guariento
brings little new to Venice, but he does demonstrate the decorative
possibilities of the local style. His influence was restricted because
the Venetians soon ceased to work in fresco.

The impetus necessary to lift Venetian painting out of its routine
condition was supplied in the fifteenth century by Gentile da Fabriano
and Pisanello. Gentile, who worked in the Ducal Palace about 1410,
commanded both the exquisiteness of the Sienese style and its narrative
breadth. Unhappily his Venetian frescoes which are lauded in
contemporary accounts have perished. His sweetness and ideality are
attested by various Madonnas. We may infer his raciness and vivacity as
a narrative painter from the predella of his master work, the Adoration
of the Kings (1423). The little panel of the Presentation in the Temple
is admirable for its architectural inscenation and for the actuality of
its incidental figures. We have a man whose eye takes in the look of
things. This is even more the case with Pisanello (1397–1455), who
worked a little later in the same hall. He has severe notions of
draughtsmanship, as befitted the greatest of all medallists. He brought
from Verona, where his artistic ideas were formed, the ideal of
elaborate and credible setting, especially as regards the relations of
figures to architecture. In his ruined fresco of St. George of Verona,
Figure 209, we may catch his quality. But the Veronese style is really
better represented by such immediate predecessors as Avanzo and
Altichiero. Jointly about 1385 they frescoed the great Oratorio of St.
George at Padua. Especially remarkable are the legends of the titular
saint, Figure 210. Through repainting one may still discern the dignity
and discretion of the arrangement, and in particular the just and
tasteful elaboration of contemporary architectural features. Florentine
and Sienese frescoes of the time are hardly as accomplished. The festal
value of the architecture persists as a leading ideal of the school of
Verona down to her greatest master, Paolo Veronese, and the ideal was
taken up with conviction at Venice—became indeed the distinctive feature
of her narrative school.


  FIG. 210. Altichiero of Verona. St. George baptizes the Family of the
    Princess. Fresco.—_Oratory of St. George, Padua._


  FIG. 209. Pisanello. St. George meets the Princess. Fresco.—_Sant’
    Anastasia. Verona._

Jacopo Bellini,[71] the first great painter whom Venice herself
developed, was the pupil of Gentile da Fabriano and also profoundly
influenced by the Veronese. Thus he combines in himself the two main
strains of early Venetian painting—its desire for sweetness and its
desire for vivacity and elaborate truthfulness in narrative. Alongside
of Jacopo Bellini worked the faithful imitators of Paolo, Lorenzo, and
Guariento. Such artists as Jacobello del Fiore and Michele Giambono,
while often inherently attractive, are of small importance. Their
contemporary, Antonio Vivarini, though in most ways less sensitively the
artist, prepared the way for the conservative school of Murano.
Antonio’s quality is somewhat obscured by his habit of working with a
German partner, Giovanni. Yet the part of Antonio, as represented by his
altar-piece in the Vatican, dated 1464, Figure 211, seems to have been
merely to build cautiously on the work of Guariento and Lorenzo. His
nephew, Alvise, and his younger brother, Bartolommeo, become influential
figures towards the end of the century.

The hope of the future rested with that far more searching spirit,
Jacopo Bellini. He gave to art not merely his own indefatigable
curiosity but two sons of genius, Gentile and Giovanni. All the leading
tendencies of the Early Renaissance in Venice originate with this
remarkable family. We first meet Jacopo Bellini in 1424 as an assistant
of Gentile da Fabriano and he worked on till 1470. The great decorative
canvases which he made for the Ducal Palace, and for the Schools of St.
Mark and St. John the Evangelist have perished, while the few pictures
remaining from his brush are mostly of late date and inadequately
express his ambitions. His Madonnas at the Uffizi, Venice, Paris, and
Milan retain the exquisite sweetness of his master’s vein. Their modest
grace may be felt in the little Madonna, Figure 212, at Venice. Of
admirable gentleness and spirit is the ornate Annunciation painted in
1444, in Sant’ Alessandro at Brescia. Its predella panels, although
probably of student execution, show how definitely his narrative
compositions derive from Altichiero and the Veronese.


  FIG. 211. Antonio Vivarini. St. Antony (polychromed wood statue) and
    Saints. 1464.—_Vatican Gallery, Rome._


  FIG. 212. Jacopo Bellini. Madonna.—_Venice._

But we get the full stature of the man, not from the minor paintings
which chance has spared, but from the two extraordinary sketch books
respectively in the Louvre and the National Gallery. Here we trace his
day by day exercises. Perspective is his constant concern. He piles up
elaborate architecture with an extravagance which even his Veronese
exemplars never ventured. The subject matter gets lost in the setting.
The Annunciation becomes a mere episode in an architectural
extravaganza. So does the Feast of Herod, Figure 213. The buildings
generally are of ornate Early Renaissance type. He loves to adorn them
with swags and statues and low reliefs. Sometimes he sketches actual
Roman sculptures and coins, medallions, and inscriptions. He makes
strange, stern backgrounds for his outdoor scenes, with twisted
stratified mountains and stately distant cities. He loves wild beasts;
draws capital horses for St. George or for Perseus. He is a bit of a
humanist, doing bacchanals, with mischievous satyrs. There are a few
fine portraits and designs for Madonnas. Thus these sketches with the
silver point and quill pen anticipate every mode of the next
generation—the narrative style, the altar-piece, the pastoral mythology.
One feels in the sketch books a nature rather alert and curious than
thorough—a certain lack of concentration and real seriousness. But the
sketches evince an inexhaustible fancy, and if they are ever published
cheaply, they should rival in popularity the most loved picture-books of
fairyland. Jacopo was not only a versatile but a travelled artist.
Active for a time at the brilliant court of Lionello d’Este at Ferrara,
he had also visited Florence and probably Rome. But his most important
move as regards the history of art, was to Padua, about 1453. There the
whole course of Venetian painting was shaped by the apparently casual
fact that an austere young painter named Andrea Mantegna fell in love
with Jacopo’s daughter, Niccolosia, and married her. Through that
alliance, the most formidable of brothers-in-law became the artistic
mentor of Gentile and Giovanni Bellini.


  FIG. 213. Jacopo Bellini. The Feast of Herod (in upper right
    loggia).—_From the Paris Sketch Book._

For a moment, indeed, Padua and Mantegna quite efface Venice in
interest. For ten years before this lucky marriage, Padua had been the
scene of intense artistic activity. Donatello, the most powerful realist
sculptor of Florence, was at work on the bronze reliefs for the altar of
Sant’ Antonio, and on the Gattamelata statue. He gave young Mantegna a
strong impulse in the direction of constructive realism. Such Florentine
realists as Paolo Uccello and Fra Filippo Lippi were also transient
visitors at this time. And Padua, ever an academic city, saw the first
systematic art school started by a shrewd and able master, Francesco
Squarcione. Squarcione collected Roman marbles and bronzes, concerned
himself with the new mysteries of perspective, foreshortening and
precise anatomy. He made his students acquire a line with the resiliency
of bronze. He made them copy minutely veined marbles and sculptured
reliefs. He insisted that every picture should have garlands of laurel
mixed with vegetables and fruits. The whole surface had to be brought to
the lustrous surface of an enamel. Severe teaching usually attracts good
pupils. So it was in Squarcione’s case; he had scores of pupils from all
of the Venetic region and even from Dalmatia beyond the Adriatic. He was
too sensible to paint much himself; it didn’t pay so successful a
teacher. So the few pictures ascribed to him are either of small
importance or of dubious authenticity. But his stamp is on all his
pupils. What his teaching meant may be grasped in early Mantegna and
even better in a painter who never emancipated himself—Carlo Crivelli,
of Venice, “Eques Aureatus.”


  FIG. 214. Carlo Crivelli. Madonna. Angels bearing Symbols of the


  FIG. 215. Carlo Crivelli. Pietà.—_Boston._

Crivelli’s[72] fame was great but provincial. Originally most of his
altar-pieces adorned churches of the Adriatic Marches. Dozens have
passed thence to the museums of Europe and America. One and all they
seem less painted things than the most splendid of mineral productions.
It is incredible that mere brush and paint can achieve so tense a line
and such jewel-like surfaces. Entirely typical is an early Madonna, at
Verona, Figure 214. The great ancona of 1476 in the National Gallery
shows him faithful to the arrangements of the early Venetians. The
Annunciation, in the same gallery, painted ten years later, reveals him
affected by the narrative tradition of Jacopo Bellini. In America fine
Pietàs at Boston, Figure 215, New York, and in the Johnson Collection,
Philadelphia, exemplify his rectitude and energy. While Mrs. Gardner’s
St. George and the Dragon, as the most fastidious of fairy tales,
consoles us for the absence of this subject among the few pictures of
Jacopo Bellini. From his beginnings about 1460 to his death in 1493,
Carlo Crivelli remained true to his early teaching. Whoever understands
his works has little need to consult further the entirely similar
achievement of such great Ferrarese painters as Marco Zoppo (1440
ca.–1498) and Cosimo Tura (1430 ca.–1495). The influence of Squarcione
passed to the conservative painters at Venice, and influenced the entire
Murano school. We have a resplendent masterpiece of this sort in the
single known work of Antonio da Negroponte, Figure 216, in San Francesco
della Vigna, at Venice. It combines with its evident Squarcionesque
features, the magnificence of the old Gothic-Byzantine style, and much
of the sweetness of Jacopo Bellini. Its date is about 1450, and the
picture is an excellent point of departure for our understanding of the
radical reform that came into Venice and all Lombardy with the activity
of Andrea Mantegna.


  FIG. 216. Fra Antonio da Negroponte. Madonna.—_S. Francesco della

Born in 1431 at Vicenza, we find Mantegna[73] enrolled at the tender age
of thirteen in the painters’ guild at Padua. He is described as an
adoptive son of Squarcione. Mantegna was scarcely twenty-four when he
engaged with other fellow pupils to decorate a chapel in the Church of
the Eremitani, the subject being the legends of St. James and St.
Christopher. In the six panels assigned to Mantegna, his quality and
superiority are already manifest. His style is severely archæological
and Roman. He endeavors honestly to reconstruct the times of the
apostles. But his method is more severe than that of the Romans
themselves. The line moves with the slow authority of an engraved
contour. The relief is dry and harsh. There is little sense of
difference between living forms and sculptured figures. The landscape is
built in spiral strata as if worked out of metal. Here transpires
clearly the influence of Jacopo Bellini, which is as evident also in the
ornate architectural settings. The colors are at once dull and garish,
the textures scrupulously studied after Squarcione’s precepts. A most
strenuous art this, and with all its pedantry full of power and dignity.


  FIG. 217. Mantegna. St. James led to Execution. Fresco.—_Eremitani,

Certain innovations in perspective should be noted. In the fresco, St.
James led to Execution, Figure 217, Mantegna avoids the usual
conventional perspective, which tilts the picture towards the spectator;
and treats the group as if it were on an actual stage set at the height
of the fresco. Thus no ground is seen; the projecting floor cuts off the
feet of the figures; and all vanishing points are precisely set at the
level of the spectator’s eye below. The aim is to create illusion.


  FIG. 218. Andrea Mantegna. Madonna with Saints.—_San Zeno, Verona._

Before the completion of the Eremitani frescoes, Mantegna had married
Niccolosia Bellini, had profited largely by her father’s advice, and had
influenced strongly her two brothers, Gentile and Giovanni. They seem to
have been the first eager pupils of the man who was soon to be the
artistic schoolmaster for all Northern Italy. Two years after his
marriage, in 1455, Mantegna liberated himself from legal bondage to
Squarcione, and soon after began the masterpiece of his developed
Renaissance style, the altar-back for San Zeno Maggiore at Verona,
Figure 218. It was finished in 1459, the artist being twenty-eight years
old. It is a little over-rich, finished throughout like a miniature, and
very stately. In arrangement it obeys the artist’s new law of illusion.
The base of the picture is precisely at the level of the eye, so no
floor is seen. The carved classical frame is regarded as the front of an
actual pavillion which is continued in paint. Without the frame, the
architectural perspective of the picture would not explain itself, and
if the picture were set higher or lower all the perspective relations
would be wrong. At Siena, a century and more earlier, the Lorenzetti had
devised this motive of an open box of which the frame is the plastic
front. Mantegna made this sort of illusionism standard for Venice and
all Northern Italy. Its value is open to question, but I believe that
the monumental altar-pieces of Mantegna and Giovanni Bellini gain
something in gravity and stability from this careful adjustment of the
perspective to the actual position of the spectator. At any rate it was
the rigid logic and probity of Mantegna that gave to Venetian art
precisely the tonic stimulus it needed.

By thirty he was famous, and yielding to repeated persuasion, he left
Padua for Mantua and the court of the most generous art patrons of the
moment, the Gonzagas. His most notable work for them was the decoration
of the Camera degli Sposi, 1474, in their great palace, and the canvases
of the triumphs of Cæsar, 1481 to 1494, which, sadly damaged and
repainted, are now seen at Hampton Court. The two series represent
strikingly the dual and never completely harmonized strains in
Mantegna’s genius—realism and archaism. He was never more the realist
than in the room decorated in honor of the marriage of Lodovico Gonzaga
and Barbara of Brandenburg, the Camera degli Sposi. The motives are
wholly novel—no religious subjects, nothing mythological, just the
Gonzaga family and their courtiers, sitting in conversation, meeting
ceremoniously, or preparing for the hunt. Nowhere before had such a
consistent use of the principle of illusionism been made, not even in
Roman mural painting of the Antonine age. Mantegna has completely
painted away the real walls of the room, and has replaced the real
architecture by a simulated classical pavillion, with arcades looking
out to the country side and a round opening above. All the figures are
out of doors. To see the scheme properly you must stand precisely in the
centre of the room and turn on your heel. The arrangement in short is
periscopic. As you look up you will see a balcony with cupids, Figure
219, standing on the outside ledge and maids of honor and peacocks
looking down over the balustrade. You see everything feet foremost as if
it were actually there. Then you look out through the arcades where the
view of outside doings is sometimes interrupted by a curtain. Generally
it is drawn aside that you may see these great folk at ease outside
their pleasure house, Figure 220. The portraits are of utmost dignity
and authority. In dealing with real people Mantegna’s style is less
pinched than in his classical decorations. If I have insisted on the
point of illusionism, it is only because the audacious logic of
Correggio and a host of baroque followers for a century and more really
grows out of this scheme at Mantua. You will see the open well with
figures outside the parapet in Correggio’s dome at Parma, and the
figures outside the painted roof in the Convent of St. Paolo. Indeed,
you have only to let the clouds come down through such open roofs and
seat decorative figures on the clouds to arrive at the fully developed
baroque style. And it is odd enough that its most romantic extravagances
are clearly deducible from this rather sober and pedantic illusionism of
Andrea Mantegna.


  FIG. 219. Mantegna. Detail of Ceiling.—_Camera degli Sposi, Mantua._


  FIG. 220. Mantegna. Portraits of the Gonzaga Family. Fresco.—_Camera
    degli Sposi, Mantua._

Of the painted cloths representing the Triumphs of Cæsar, Figure 221,
(1484–1492), nine remain in debased condition at Hampton Court, England.
Here the classicism of Mantegna finds its most legitimate expression.
The designs are better seen in the engravings of his school and in the
later woodcut copies by Andreini.


  FIG. 221. Mantegna. Triumph of Cæsar.—_Hampton Court, England._

Despite such great commissions, Mantegna lived in something near
poverty. He could never resist a beautiful antique, and he was proud and
difficult in his relations to exacting patrons. His style after his
Roman visit of 1488 to 1490 loses something of its tension and develops
breadth. Perhaps the most impressive picture of this time is the Madonna
of Victory, Figure 222, in the Louvre, which was painted in 1495 to
celebrate Gianfrancesco Gonzaga’s drawn battle with the French at
Fornovo. Its severity is mollified by the graciousness of the evergreen
bower in which the group is set and by the contrasting seriousness of
St. Elizabeth and the kneeling donor. These figures forecast a mystical
and tender quality in certain of the later Madonnas.

In his last years Mantegna undertook an attractive but difficult task in
decorating the study of the famous bluestocking, Isabella d’Este, wife
of Gianfrancesco. With the pertinacity of a suffragette born out of due
time, this great lady framed the most elaborate written programmes, upon
the literal accomplishment of which she insisted. Her correspondence
with such unfortunate protegés as Perugino and Lorenzo Costa is among
the delightful eccentricities of Renaissance annals. The resultant
decorations reflect the sophisticated and somewhat brittle grace of
Isabella’s own personality. None are better than those of Mantegna which
were done about the year 1500. His Parnassus, Figure 223, with its
romantically picturesque gods and godesses, and its admirable round of
dancing muses, is the best that Northern Italy can show in comparison
with Botticelli’s mythologies, unless it be the companion piece, Minerva
expelling the Vices, Figure 224, which is wonderful alike in energy,
inventiveness and grotesque humor, anticipating in its mood similar
refinements in Spenser’s “Faerie Queene” and Milton’s “Comus.” Mantegna
in these works becomes the true precursor of that poetic pastoralism
which in Giorgione soon dominates the Venetian scene.


  FIG. 222. Mantegna. Madonna of Victory.—_Louvre._


  FIG. 223. Mantegna. Parnassus.—_Louvre._


  FIG. 224. Mantegna. Minerva Expelling the Vices.—_Louvre._

Mantegna lived on, none too well treated by the younger Gonzagas, until
1506. To relieve his poverty he offered for sale his most treasured
marble, an Agrippina. He left in his studio his most rigid and painful
piece,—the Foreshortened Christ he called it. All his probity is in the
picture. For Giovanni Bellini and others it served as the highest model
of the tragic style, and it refutes the shallow views of such as find
Mantegna merely academic and cold. He left many engravings and
marvellous drawings in which perhaps better than in the paintings we may
feel the exquisiteness of his austerely fastidious taste. Such a drawing
as the Judith in the Uffizi, Figure 225, is an epitome of all that
Mantegna had to bequeath to the Renaissance.

Well his contemporaries knew the value of his example. It rebuked the
slackness of their own practice. Alongside the exquisitely modelled foot
of his St. Sebastian in the Louvre, stands the severed marble foot from
a Greek statue. As he ever measured his work against the antique, so the
painters of Milan, Vicenza, Ferrara, Verona and Venice had to measure
their work against his. And that simple act of honest comparison in a
single generation furthered the art of Northern Italy to a degree that
in Tuscany it had taken a century to attain.


  FIG. 225. Andrea Mantegna. Judith. Wash Drawing.—_Uffizi._


  FIG. 226.—Antonello da Messina. The Condottiere.—_Louvre._


  FIG. 227. Antonello da Messina. St. Jerome in his Study.—_London._

At the moment when Mantegna’s influence was at its height, it was
happily modified in a realistic direction by the advent of Antonello da
Messina.[74] Despite recent discoveries, the career of this great
Sicilian realist remains obscure. Vasari imagined him a traveler in
Flanders and a direct pupil of Jan van Eyck, whose invention of oil
painting he was believed to have adopted. The legend is thoroughly
discredited by newly discovered documents. Antonello came up in Sicily
under the influence of visiting Spanish masters. From them he caught at
second hand the point of view of Northern realism, from them he learned
the advantages of the more fluid and lustrous oil vehicle. But he must
also have seen and carefully studied fine paintings of the Flemish
school. There were such in Sicily and at Naples. Antonello emerges about
1470 as the most energetic and truthful draughtsman of his time, and a
portraitist of powerful character equipped with a new and better
technique. In 1475 he was in Venice and Lombardy. Such portraits as the
captain of mercenaries, Il Condottiere, Figure 226, at the Louvre,
immediately set the standard for the entire region. We no longer find
flat profiles, but heads perfectly drawn in three-quarters aspect,
modelled minutely, but with no loss of character and effect. No such eye
as Antonello’s, unless it were that of Piero della Francesca, had as yet
applied itself to the problems of painting. Whether in the nude, in his
St. Sebastians and Crucifixions, or in his rare interiors, such as the
St. Jerome in his Study, Figure 227, in the National Gallery, he
announced new perfections in lighting, modelling and perspective. He
painted for the Church of San Cassiano at Venice a stately and massive
Madonna which led the local painters in the direction of mass and
monumentality. Recent criticism has recognised the mutilated central
panel in the Vienna gallery. Antonello’s work imposes itself primarily
by its mere intensity of existence. It has no charm, and no especial
emotion. Precisely this impersonality makes it an admirable and safe
model. Before his coming the Venetians had experimented with oil
mediums, but they gladly adopted his lustrous enamels, and strong
shadows. He returned soon to his native Sicily, where he died in 1479,
but his brief sojourn in the North had left its stamp. Montagna of
Vicenza, Cima of Conegliano, Buonsignori of Verona, Alvise Vivarini of
Venice are among his conscious emulators, and all the figure painting of
Venice assumes new gravity and authority. And we may mark his influence
even in the leading masters of the new school, Gentile and Giovanni

The tardy emergence of these two brothers of genius is one of the
puzzles of the Venetian school. Neither makes any impression till he is
in his forties, and their work has no directive influence till after
1480. The simplest explanation is that of Mr. Berenson. He suggests that
the brothers loyally contented themselves with the position of partners
in their father’s _bottega_ until his death in 1470. From that moment
their progress is swift. Giovanni enlarges the style of the altar-piece
in a Renaissance and monumental sense, and later moves gradually in a
pastoral direction. Gentile brings to its perfection the complicated
narrative style of his father. Both paint admirable portraits. Since
Gentile is less an innovator than a perfector of an established mode, we
may well begin with him.


  FIG. 228. Gentile Bellini. Sultan Mahomet II.—_London._


  FIG. 229. Gentile Bellini. A Turkish Youth. Miniature.—_Mrs. John L.
    Gardner, Boston._

Such early works as the organ shutters of St. Mark’s and the
processional banner with the portrait of the Blessed Lorenzo
Giustiniani, 1465, show that he based himself on Mantegna. His career,
however, is associated with narrative mural paintings for the schools,
in which work he developes a real originality. Whatever he painted in
1466 for the Great School of St. Mark was soon destroyed in a fire. It
was presumably the fame of these canvases that got him in 1469 the
titles of knight and count palatine. In 1479, being fifty years old, he
was called to Constantinople to serve that cruel voluptuary, Sultan
Mahomet II. Gentile’s portrait of him, now in the National Gallery,
Figure 228, is an appalling piece of exact characterization. One feels
the malignity of a character softened by vices, but retaining all mental
lucidity and capacities for both cruelty and calculated self-indulgence.
A more amiable souvenir of this trip is the exquisite miniature portrait
of a young Moslem prince, Figure 229, which is at Fenway Court. Gentile
brought back to Venice the new title of Pasha. We do not find him about
his proper work until 1492, when he agrees to do “not for money but by
superhuman inspiration” the new canvases necessitated by the fire in the
Great School of St. Mark.

The greatest of these is the view of the Piazza of St. Mark’s with the
procession made by the School itself on Corpus Christi day, Figure 230.
In the centre is their venerated relic of the True Cross. About it
attention is fixed and almost military, relaxing gradually at the sides.
There are hundreds of figures and scores of portraits in the picture,
yet there is no smallness of presentation. Such eighteenth century town
painters as Canale and his followers could hardly improve upon the
truthfulness of the scene as regards light and air even. Its value as
record is immense. And, barring a certain stiffness, its value as art is
hardly less.


  FIG. 230. Gentile Bellini. Corpus Christi Procession in Piazza of S.

Another panel from this series shows Gentile’s really great capacity as
an out-of-doors painter. It represents the miraculous recovery of the
reliquary of the cross which had fallen into the canal. How perfectly
the play of light over the encrusted and plastered palaces is felt, its
shimmer upon the smooth water and through the moving crowds! In the
essentials of _plein-airisme_ we moderns have not so much surpassed this
work. And if Gentile seems after all not quite a great artist, it is due
to that impassivity which is proper to a luminist. With equal realism,
Gentile’s imitator, Carpaccio, added sentiment, hence he is beloved and
Gentile ignored. Yet early Venetian narrative painting is complete with
Gentile, and from every consideration of naturalism it is immensely
superior to anything produced at Florence in this period. It gains all
the smaller points of representation with the most amazing ease, perhaps
because it waives the greater issue of monumentality. It is well put
together, but shows little selection, is even at its best rather
casually full of persons and things. This produces, as compared with
Florence, an odd reversal of conditions. The altar-piece, which in
Florence is rather intimate, is in Venice far the most monumental type
of painting. We study the development of monumental design better in
Giovanni Bellini’s altar-backs than in his brother’s narratives. To
Gentile, at once a searching spirit in details and a conservative on the
whole, it must have been a great satisfaction to have perfected the
narrative mode that his father had so brilliantly inaugurated.


  FIG. 231. Giovanni Bellini. Pietà.—_Milan._

After 1500, being in the seventies and ailing, old Gentile acquired the
ominous habit of frequently making and unmaking wills. His last one,
which became effective in 1507, left to his vigorous brother, Giovanni,
the precious paternal sketch books and the heavy duty of finishing for
St. Mark’s School the vast Canvas of St. Mark Preaching at Alexandria,
which is now at Milan. Giovanni was nearly eighty himself, but he put
the great work through handsomely.


  FIG. 232. Giovanni Bellini. Christ at Gethsemane.—_London._

Giovanni Bellini[75] was a natural son, but as was the humane Italian
custom, taken into his father’s family. He was born about 1430, and his
early efforts were completely dominated by Mantegna. Indeed he hardly
finds himself artistically until he is fifty, and then he develops a
most gracious capacity for growth which ceases only with his death at
eighty-five. Of the score of pictures which are Mantegnesque in quality
the earliest and most remarkable is the Pietà at Milan, Figure 231. In
the tragic power it outdoes Mantegna himself, and with all its hardness,
it is more painter-like. The distribution of light and dark is broader,
the expression more homely and genuine. Only a little later, perhaps
towards 1470, is the Christ on the Mount of Olives, at London, Figure
232. With a very similar picture by Mantegna in the same gallery, it is
based on a sketch of Jacopo Bellini’s. Although Giovanni frankly
imitates the rigid folds of drapery and landscape from Mantegna, it is
with a distinct difference. The mood is gentler, details are less
obtrusive, there is an exquisite sense of evening sky, and of hills in
gloom, and of the coming of twilight over a river plain. It is the first
greatly felt landscape in Venetian painting, and though Giovanni was far
to surpass it in fineness and accuracy, even he never excelled it in
depth and truthfulness of feeling. The serenity of the eventide is the
fitting foil to Our Lord’s single moment of human weakness and despair.


  FIG. 233. Giovanni Bellini. Madonna.—_Estate Theodore Davis._

Giovanni’s early Madonnas are singularly various. We have one very
stately and tender in the estate of Theodore M. Davis, Figure 233. The
Madonna in the John G. Johnson collection, Philadelphia, is wistful and
emaciated. One belonging to Mr. Philip Lehman, New York, is of sensuous,
peasant type, while the painting, unlike the soberness of the two
earlier ones, shows the utmost resplendence of Mantegnesque enamels. Its
date may be about 1470. So we see Giovanni wholly flexible and
experimental at forty, and developing chiefly under Mantegna’s

Giovanni’s emancipation from Mantegna takes place very gradually. It is
virtually complete in the Transfiguration, Figure 234, at Naples which
may be dated towards 1480. Bellini asserts himself fully in the gracious
monumentality of the chief group, while his Arcadian mood is forecast in
the ample landscape softly invested with a colorful light and shade.
There is a more specific emotion and a more romantic richness of setting
in St. Francis receiving the Stigmata, Figure 207, Frick Collection,
which may be a year or two later. These are both Wordsworthian pictures,
imbued with a mystical tenderness for natural appearances. Such are the
sources from which Giorgione will soon draw his pagan pastoralism.


  FIG. 234. Giovanni Bellini. The Transfiguration.—_Naples._

Towards 1480 Giovanni Bellini’s work assumes monumental breadth, and
withal a new sweetness. His Madonnas settle into what was to be the
Venetian type—superb, mature forms at once queenly and maternal. Earlier
there had been no Madonna type in his work but a singular variety of
forms and faces. In generalizing the stately charm of Venetian
motherhood, Giovanni moves towards the grand style, and does so nearly
twenty years sooner than the Florentines. His characteristic works are
now great altar-pieces, with monumental distribution of the figures
within fine architectural spaces. Generally the frame is a part of the
pictorial organism, the plastic front of a pavillion. It is about the
only survival of Mantegna’s practice in these solemn and gracious
pictures. Unluckily the first of the series perished in 1867 in the
disastrous fire which robbed us also of Titian’s Death of St. Peter
Martyr. But surviving copies of this altar-back for the Church of S.
Giovanni e Paolo confirm the tradition that it was painted well before
1480. In its arrangement and details, especially in the tendency to
crowd the many figures forward, it reveals to me the influence of
Antonello da Messina’s great altar-piece for San Cassiano. It had
apparently a somewhat rigid formality like that of the slightly earlier
piece at Pesaro. Bellini is not yet quite at ease in his new and broader
style, but he has at least glimpsed the ideal of monumentality and
acquired a new technique, that of oil painting, in which to express it.


  FIG. 235. Giovanni Bellini. Madonna with Saints.—_Frari, Venice._


  FIG. 235_a._> Giovanni Bellini. Madonna of St. Job.—_Venice._

We find him full-grown in the noble Madonna of St. Job, Figure 235a,
made for the church of that name about 1484 and now in the Venice
Academy. In this picture the new Venetian ideals of ardor and gravity
unite harmoniously with the old ideal of material splendor. What
playings of light and half-lights there are over mosaics, polished
marbles and carvings! How admirably the strict symmetry of the group is
relieved by varying the postures of the six saints and by contrasting
the sober garb of the monkish saints with the superb nudity of Saints
Job and Sebastian and the shimmering silks of the playing angels below.
And the great picture, with all its monumentality, retains much of that
old lyrical fire, which is gradually yielding to more sedate and
reflective aims.

We shall find the two great Madonnas of 1488, for the Frari, Figure 235,
and for St. Peter’s at Murano, conceived more impassively. For the city
church, Bellini insisted on hieratic effect and incidental splendors,
reverting to the form of the triptych and arranging it after Mantegna’s
fashion with the frame and picture in one perspective. It is perhaps the
grandest as it is the most formal of his altar-backs, consciously regal
in the attitude of the Virgin, with saints as magisterial as so many
Venetian senators. For the suburban church at Murano he set the Madonna
low amid her paladins and opened up delicious landscape vistas at the
sides. The thing, with all its dignity, is lyrical, and almost intimate.
It anticipates the mood of the later open-air Sacred Conversations.


  FIG. 236.—Giovanni Bellini. Madonna with St. Paul and St.

In the nineties and the early years of the new century, masterpiece
follows masterpiece, and we must proceed by selection. Giovanni invents
a charming form of altar-piece for private chapels. These Madonnas and
saints at half-length have already the mood of the later conversation
pieces, and need only the less symmetrical scheme which Bellini’s pupil,
Titian, will soon give them. For harmony one might prefer the Madonna
with two female saints, or for robust contrast and vitality the Madonna
with two burly military champions, Figure 236. Both are in the Venetian


  FIG. 237. Giovanni Bellini. Madonna of the Trees.—_Venice._

The single, half-length Madonnas, Figure 237, of this period are counted
by scores, and are in many public and private collections in Europe and
America. They are singularly uniform in inspiration, and yet the mood is
so rich and noble that an apparent monotony is never cloying. Bellini’s
gift in these pictures is to combine a kind of serene obviousness with
great delicacy. There are hints of wistfulness and sadness through the
series, but such sentiments are never much insisted on. The real
mysticism of these pictures is nothing but the notation of the most
natural and mysterious thing in the world—the bond between mother and
babe, the pride of it, the exclusiveness of it, the joyous burden of it.
Art could hardly be less theological or more genuinely religious than in
these Madonnas. I think no human being could miss either their
naturalness or their sacredness.

As Giovanni Bellini approached the scriptural term of years, and the
century drew to its close, he cultivates by way of recreation certain
old leads which become new and powerful influences on his successors.
The element of tact in the man is miraculous. He does nothing till the
time has come when the doing will be most useful. Thus such pastoral
recreations as the Religious Allegory in the Uffizi, Figure 238, and the
little symbolical panels in the Venice Academy lead directly to the
fantastic Arcadianism of Giorgione. The Religious Allegory is vaguely an
illustration for the old French poem “Man’s Pilgrimage.” We have a
Paradise, with the new souls in infant form. The apostles Peter and Paul
stand guard outside the celestial barrier, while the Madonna presides
within. Beyond a dark stream is the hazardous world, a place of caverns
and crags, and hermits and centaurs; of mystery and uncertainty. Perhaps
Giovanni Bellini cared rather more for the darkling shadows over water
and river bank, for the broken light under a veiled sky than for the
formal allegory. Certainly the element of strangeness and glamour is
evident enough in the five little panels depicting virtues and vices.
Again the faery quality, our earth grown strange to us, is the basis of
the charm. We have noted similar fantastic inventions at Florence,
notably in the work of Piero di Cosimo. Bellini evokes a more normal
poetry which is based on a more intimate study of nature. Such
landscapes as his, even when unpeopled, suggest nymphs and shepherds.


  FIG. 238. Giovanni Bellini. Religious Allegory, Souls in


  FIG. 240. Giovanni Bellini. Doge Loredano.—_London._


  FIG. 239. Giovanni Bellini. Madonna with Saints.—_S. Zaccaria._

At seventy, at the opening of the new century, Giovanni Bellini’s mind
was still flexible, so much so that we hardly know whether he leads or
follows such pupils of genius as Titian and Giorgione. His color
acquires a deeper glow, his warm shadows are heavier and more carefully
graduated; he drops his few remaining Mantegnesque habits. In the
Madonna for San Zaccaria, Figure 239, dated 1505, we have no longer the
illusionistic perspective of the altar-pieces of the ’80s. The group is
set well back, the suffusion of the niche with air is more dense, the
saintly figures have exchanged the old resolute, hieratic attitudes for
a gentle dreaminess; the mood is that of Giorgione’s contemporary
altar-piece at Castelfranco. In the portrait of Doge Loredano, Figure
240, of the same year resolution and wistfulness blend fascinatingly.
The delineation has the force and certainty of Antonello da Messina with
a refinement Antonello never even glimpsed.

In these later years Giovanni Bellini multiplied, largely through
student aid, conversation pieces with gracious gatherings of saints in
the open air. The mood is that of courtly revery. Titian and Palma will
later repeat the theme indefinitely. One of the best is at S. Francesco
della Vigna, and bears the date 1507. It is an idyl borrowing religious
forms. In the altar-piece painted in 1513, Figure 241, for the church of
S. Giovanni Crisostomo, Giambellino anticipates the new and
compositional forms of the rising generation. The rich architecture
opens upon a contemplative old man reading on a crag, with majestic
mountain lines behind him athwart a serene sky. Everything above is off
centre and diagonal, stability being preserved by the great vertical
figures of the saints in the foreground, and by the formality of the
parapet behind them. We have almost a picture within a picture, the
maximum of formality and informality, of nature and artifice—all those
elaborate and calculated beauties which we associate with Titian’s
maturity. There is withal a mystical earnestness of which Titian himself
lacked the secret.


  FIG. 241. Giovanni Bellini. St. John Crisostom.—_S. Giov. Crisostomo._

In his remaining two years Bellini designed the lovely and modest nude
Lady at her Toilet, at Vienna, and the Feast of the Gods, Figure 242,
now in Mr. Joseph Widener’s collection at Philadelphia. His career ends
in a rather skeptical acceptance of the sensuous graces of the new
humanism, for the gods are merely Venetian picnickers on an excursion.
The penetrating poetry of the picture is of a homely sort without
pretensions to grandeur. The landscape is partly by Titian.

Giovanni died in 1515, being more than eighty-five years old. As late as
1506, Albrecht Dürer found him the greatest artist at Venice. He had
begun with the faint dawn of the Renaissance and ended in its midday
glow. He had raised Venetian painting to monumental estate, had mastered
the secrets of landscape and its illumination, had initiated a
delightful pastoralism, had conveyed religious emotion in forms humanly
sweet and grave, had made the best of every world. Scores of his pupils
extended his manner to Brescia, Bergamo, Vicenza, and Treviso. His
genius knew neither haste nor hesitation, he was almost never below his
best. The Renaissance produced a few painters of greater scope and
powers, but none more consistently great as an artist or more venerable
as a personality.


  FIG. 242. Giovanni Bellini. Feast of the Gods.—_Widener Coll., Elkins
    Park, Pa._


  FIG. 243. Bartolommeo Vivarini. Madonna with Saints.—_Naples._

To appreciate his value a glance at less progressive contemporaries will
suffice. We find Bartolommeo Vivarini normally continuing the routine of
the Murano School. In the polyptych at Bologna, done with his elder
brother Antonio in 1450, we have with slight Squarcionesque improvements
the old attenuated Venetian forms. In the highly decorated Madonna at
Naples, dated 1465, we have an intelligent use of both the
Squarcionesque realisms, and the refinements of Jacopo Bellini. Figure
243. Later pieces such as the triptych of 1487 at the Frari reveal a
heavy-handed imitation of Mantegna, and any little originality of the
master soon gets lost in the voluminous output of the shop. Bartolommeo
died in the last year of his century, whose fair average he had well
represented. His nephew Alvise Vivarini deserves notice as the
transmitter of the realism of Antonello da Messina to such artists as
Montagna, Cima, and Lorenzo Lotto. As a portraitist he has real power.
His great altar-pieces have their bleak and unattractive nobility.
Venice greatly honored him in confiding several of the new panels for
the Ducal Palace to his care. But since these works of the eighties were
soon burned, our view of Alvise remains imperfect. I suspect modern
criticism has somewhat exaggerated his importance. He was active from
about 1460 to 1503, and his altar-pieces afford the best foils for
Giovanni Bellini, as revealing a lesser capacity for growth.


  FIG. 244. Carpaccio. Prince Hero Taking Leave of his Father (L) and
    Greeting Ursula (R).—_Venice._

We have now to trace the old narrative style to its climax and end in
Vittore Carpaccio.[76] He inherited all the panoramic and luministic
accomplishments of Gentile Bellini, but applied them with far greater
imagination. He deals with legend, giving it contemporary color, and in
his sensitive hands it becomes the most veridical and charming of fairy
lands. Carpaccio’s training is obscure to us. It may be that the very
mediocre narrative painter, Lazzaro Bastiani, first taught him. In any
case he drew more from Gentile Bellini’s resolute handling of light,
textures and costume. We first meet Carpaccio as an artist in the
decoration of the Great School of St. Ursula from 1492 to 1495. He was
probably all of fifty years old. The childlike legend, with its numerous
embassies, meetings and partings, settings out and arrivings, gave him
spectacular opportunities of which he made the most winning use. In the
nine canvases now in the Academy we find an epitome of the courtesy,
circumstance and adventure that accompanied travel in those days, and
the mere spectacle is underlaid with a pensive ideality; for these are
no ordinary journeys, but the quest of martyrdom by a princely youth and
maiden. Nothing is insisted on, however, but the gayety of the events,
and the picturesqueness of their settings. As in all good story-telling,
the persuasiveness depends on veracious minor episodes. There are the
most attentive scribes and secretaries, as if to carry off the unlikely
matter they are inditing. The heavy ease of men-at-arms and
self-conscious elegance of young Venetian fops make them credible
witnesses to else incredible legend. To adorn his tales Carpaccio
borrowed from the woodcut illustrations to Breydenbach’s “Itinerary to
Jerusalem.” It is remarkable how he invests these mere skeletons of
cities with color, sunlight, the glamour of the orient. About all he
draws a veil of air saturated with sunlight, concentrated into rising
clouds whose shadows darken the lustrous blue of the tranquil lagoon.
There never was a more ravishing raconteur in the art of making
incidentals count for essentials. Such a picture as Prince Hero taking
leave of his father and greeting St. Ursula, Figure 244, is the
fulfilment of all that old Jacopo Bellini and his Veronese precursors
had dreamed of. It is typical of a series which has its more intimate
phases only by way of exception. The virginal beauty of the legend gets
a real expression only in the Vision of St. Ursula. Figure 245. The
character of the earnest, slumbering face and the sweet slight body
carries through the exquisitely indicated space, and we hardly need to
be told that the wistful boyish angel is offering a martyr’s palm.
Possibly it takes a mundane person like Carpaccio to realize the beauty
of the more fantastic religious ardors. A completely devout person takes
them as in the day’s work.


  FIG. 245. Carpaccio. Dream of St. Ursula.—_Venice_.

Before the end of the century, Carpaccio painted for the School of S.
Giovanni Evangelista the Miracle of the healing of a Demoniac. The
picture is now in the Academy. It is a marvellous panorama of
contemporary Venice, with the bustle of eager crowds, the slipping of
gondolas over the canal, and light flickering over and caressing the
manifold colors of the gay scene. It has the fidelity of Gentile Bellini
without his dryness.


  FIG. 246. Carpaccio. St. George and the Dragon.—_School of St. George
    of the Slavonians._

The most delightful if not the most important monument of Renaissance
Venice is unquestionably the School of St. George of the Slavonians. It
is the only school that retains its primitive paintings still set in the
original carved and golded wainscoting. There one sees in the ground
floor the legends of St. Jerome, an odd mixture of gravity, richness,
and humor. Nothing more sumptuous than the Saint in his exquisitely
appointed study, or more archly comic than the scene of consternation
when the Saint brings home his lion from the desert. The series was
painted about 1502. Upstairs we have the chivalric legend of St. George
of Cappadocia, painted some eight years later. Nothing could be more
romantically entrancing than the boyish champion charging intrepidly
over the sun-dried shreds and tatters of his predecessors into the very
jaws of the most confidently virulent of dragons, Figure 246, unless it
be the scene where he leads his tame dragon into the astounded court, or
that in which he proudly baptizes his future bride and her parents while
a Turkish band plays a fanfare. About the blowing of these horns of
elfland there is no faintness whatever. We are in the realm of most
palpable adventure and romance, and the emphasis depends on splendid
color and on drawing of a magical alertness.

Carpaccio’s merit as the liveliest and most persuasive of _raconteurs_
seems so definite that it is almost a shock to meet him in other
capacities. Also a disappointment to find in the New Testament subjects
from the School of the Albanians, 1504, that in such stereotyped
subjects he can be almost mediocre. Certainly in the great altar-piece
of the Presentation in the Temple, Figure 247, at the Academy, he shows
that he fully understands the new monumentality of Giovanni Bellini. The
date is 1510. The picture is of the most reverent composure, and as
tender as it is grand. In the portrait of Two Courtesans on a Balcony,
in the Correr, Carpaccio shows a force of character wholly modern. With
a kind of irony he has taken the moral emptiness of his sitters out of
doors, flooded it with sunlight and air, given it harshness and
ugliness, lavishing upon the rich costumes and fair skins the most
delicate pains. John Ruskin will tell you that these are honest women.
Such faith is more worthy of reverence than of imitation. The greatness
of Carpaccio lies in the impartiality with which he renders a certain
kind of life on its own terms. The romancer is capable of appalling


  FIG. 247. Carpaccio. The Presentation.—_Venice._

That he was also a mystic of the most intense sort is hard to believe.
Yet if the marvellous Meditation on the Passion, Figure 248, in the
Metropolitan Museum, be really by him, such is the case. In a desert the
Dead Christ sits in a crumbling throne, while two grim sages, St. Job
and St. Onophrius, sit in rapt contemplation. Their mood has evoked the
bodily vision of their Lord. Art has produced few such symbols for the
hallucinative intensity of the life contemplative. These weather-beaten
forms seem an emanation from the sands and blistering sunlight. They
have few relations to our world. Their souls move in vast uninhabited
spaces. That Carpaccio can have produced this masterpiece as late as
1520, and cast it deliberately in a style learned forty years earlier
seems to me a fantastic hypothesis, even if it has enlisted grave
authority. The abundant similarities of the landscape with that of the
St. Francis of the Frick Collection make me feel that the invention of
this picture is Giovanni Bellini’s, at his moment of highest emotional
power, about 1480. Since the actual painting is evidently in large part
Carpaccio’s, I am driven to the by no means satisfactory hypothesis that
Carpaccio may have executed this masterpiece, and the group to which it
belongs, while serving as studio assistant to Giovanni Bellini. Such a
view at least expresses my conviction that the picture transcends
Carpaccio’s powers.


  FIG. 248.—Ascribed to Carpaccio, perhaps Giovanni Bellini’s Design.
    Desert Hermits Meditating the Passion.—_New York._

As for his later years, his work goes off, he loses most of his Venetian
patronage, and paints for the obscure Istrian and Dalmatian seaports,
the critics mock him, he dies some time after 1523, leaving no deep
impression. Vasari dispatches him with a few condescending lines, and
nobody cares for him till young Burne-Jones came to Venice some sixty
years ago. He plainly stands out of the main line of progress. He was
too romantically traditional in his themes, and too minutely
naturalistic in his vision to fit into the monumental development of the
Renaissance. In a sense he merely brings the old narrative tradition to
a splendid close. But in so doing he preserves the look of an exquisite
moment—of Venice still in her mediæval gayety and splendor, not yet
reduced to her ultimate magnificent decorum. In him we glimpse the eager
comeliness of patrician youth, self-sufficient in love of living. And
this we see between the glistening waters of the lagoon and the lambent
blue heavens, with pearly domes and bell towers rising as lightly as the
drifting summer clouds above. All this may or may not be apart from what
the wise esteem artistic greatness. In any case it is charm of the most
persuasive and durable kind.

Whether Giorgione of Castelfranco is to be regarded as the last of the
Venetian primitives or as the first of the men of the Renaissance is no
simple problem. It is further complicated by the fact that we do not
surely know what pictures he painted. According to the austerity or
geniality of the critics, the lists vary from eight, Lionello Venturi’s,
to over seventy, Herbert Cook’s. Naturally I also have my own list,
which, with old copies, runs to twenty-four, but I am unwilling to claim
demonstrative weight for what are merely strong subjective convictions.
Walter Pater daintily evaded the issue by writing the most subtle of
essays not on the person, but on the School of Giorgione. I shall in
part imitate him in defining first the Giorgionesque mood before
considering the canon of his works.


  FIG. 249. Giorgione. Portrait of a Youth.—_Berlin._

On the side of minor technique Giorgione marks a great advance. He early
abandons the old frank coloring of Giovanni Bellini for a mysterious
method which abolishes line, builds in mass, invests the picture with
deep shadows that are marvellously warm and colorful. What
contemporaries loved to call the Venetian fire originates with him about
1505. Vasari may well be right in saying that he learned the method
directly from Leonardo da Vinci, who was a fugitive in Venice in the
year 1500. Only Leonardo never taught him that shadow is color. That was
Giorgione’s own beautiful discovery, one immensely important for all
decorative painting ever since.

In his early phase, if I am right in thinking that Sir Martin Conway’s
two stories of Paris, Figure 250, and the Ordeal of the Infant Moses and
Judgment of Solomon in the Uffizi, are his, Giorgione was merely a
graceful continuer of the slighter narrative mood of Giovanni Bellini
and Carpaccio,—that is, distinctly a primitive artist. In his fully
developed Arcadian vein he is neither a primitive nor fully of the
Renaissance, but midway between, and his work constitutes not so much a
pioneer effort as a delectable episode quite complete in itself.
Unhappily we are almost without biographical details. Giorgione was born
in 1478, in Castelfranco, a long day’s ride towards the Friulian Alps.
The country abounds in streams, meadows, and immemorial trees—is a
subalpine Arcadia. He came pretty young to Venice and worked with
Giovanni Bellini. Legend tells us that he was big and handsome, amorous,
and a musician. We know that he died of the plague of 1510, in his
thirty-third year. The rest is conjecture from pictures some of which
are his, and all of which are inspired by him.


  FIG. 250. Giorgione. The Infant Paris found by Shepherds.—Sir Martin
    Conway. _Maidstone, England._

These breathe a single mood, that of Arcadian revery. It is a world of
desire indulged for its own sweetness, of day dreaming apart from will,
action, and results. More blithely it had pre-existed in the Idyls of
Theocritus; more pensively, in the Eclogues of Virgil. This world
revives a far-away pastoral golden age, of lovers and their lasses, of
nymphs and fauns, of vague ardors at once tempered and reinforced by a
sympathetic nature. We are dealing with one of the oldest resources of
poetry, and we can only understand this most beautiful visualization of
the old theme by associating it with the tradition of literary

Of course the Eclogues of Virgil were read generation by generation, if
not very understandingly, through the Middle Ages. Still the more
sensitive felt the appeal of mountain shadows lengthening over the
evening meadows and the pathos of love-lorn shepherds sighing musically
for hard-hearted shepherdesses. By the middle of the fourteenth century,
the pastoral mode becomes once more contemporary, incidentally in the
interludes of Bocaccio’s _Decameron_, explicitly in his idyl of
alternate prose and verse, the _Ameto_. These are pale lights before the
dawn. Pastoralism becomes widely current in the _Arcadia_ of Jacopo
Sannazaro, the bulk of which was ready by 1489. It is the parent of
those slow-moving, sentimental, and ever lengthy romances in verse and
prose of which Sir Philip Sidney’s _Arcadia_ is the most familiar to the
modern reader. Dante had once longed for a magic boat in which congenial
souls should drift forever and do nothing but discourse of love.
Transfer these discourses to a leafy nook beside a running stream, with
the herds in view below the branches, and nymphs and satyrs overhearing
the debate—and you have Sannazaro’s _Arcadia_. We have the eternal
poetry and perhaps eternal fallacy of a bygone golden age where duty and
effort are absent, where love and poesy reign.

In his most famous song, _Alma beata_, Sannazaro, celebrating a dead
beauty, makes heaven itself merely an Arcadia—

         “Other mountains, other plains,
         Other groves and streamlets
         In heaven I see, and withal new blossoms.
         Other fauns and sylvans, through sweet summer places,
         Pursue their nymphs in happier loves than ours.”

You find the mood clear cut in the Venetian nobleman and prelate, Pietro
Bembo, both in his _Asolani_ and in the separate poems. These were being
handed about in Giorgione’s time, from 1500 on. Thus Bembo sings of the
shepherd’s life:

           “Tryphon, who in place of ministrants and lackeys,
           Loggias and marbles, woven gold and purple,
           Lovest about thee willows leafy, cloister
           Of joyous hillocks, plants and rivulets—
           Well may the world admire thee.”

Naturally the denizens of such paradises live and dress in a state of
nature. The nymphs are lightly clothed and readily discard their slight
draperies for the joys of the bath, which they considerately take within
the range of their shepherd swains. Bembo warmly praises those
“courteous garments” which do not too much hide the fair throat and
bosom, and roundly curses more churlish concealing fashions.

Sannazaro describes with a confusing mixture of metaphors what may be
called a fortunate bath fall.

        “Leading one day my herds beside a stream,
        I saw a light amid those waters fair,
        Which bound me fast straightway with two blond tresses,
        And stamped a face all milk and roses
        Forever on my heart.”

Earlier painters than Giorgione[77] had essayed these pastoral themes.
Botticelli, Signorelli; in a sardonic way, Piero di Cosimo; Giovanni
Bellini and even Andrea Mantegna had variously attempted this sort of
painted poesy. But the flavor of the Giorgionesque poesy is fuller and
richer. His beauty is that of languor, revery, dream. Whatever the
ostensible theme may be, his painting is Arcadian. His people have not
merely no relation to our world, but slight and ambiguous relations to
each other within the picture. They are isolated in their own musings,
rarely look at each other, never suggest an action, but only a mood.
Even the portraits suggest rather temperament than character or will.
The proud youth, at Berlin, Figure 249, withdraws himself from purpose
and deed. It is an early Giorgione. The Shepherd with a Flute, at
Hampton Court, is bemused with his own fancy. It is of the later years.
The fastidious patrician, at New York, reveals an almost worried and
sickly detachment. If indeed a Giorgione, which I cannot doubt, it is of
his latest manner.


  FIG. 251. Giorgione. Fire Ordeal of Infant Moses.—_Uffizi._


  FIG. 252. Giorgione. “Soldier and Gipsy.”—_Giovanelli Palace._

Take the little Carpaccian idyls at Florence which cannot be much later
than 1500. How far we are from real narrative! In the Ordeal of Moses,
Figure 251, a child is thrusting his tender fingers among live coals.
Ladies and gentlemen stand languidly about and bask in the pleasantness
of their own thoughts. There is a similar nonchalance in the Judgment of
Solomon where a newborn babe is threatened with the sword. The horror is
treated as a negligible incident of an _al fresco_ party.


  FIG. 253. Giorgione. The Three Philosophers.—_Vienna._

Again what is the meaning of the mysterious idyl in Prince Giovanelli’s
gallery? Figure 252. In view of the picturesque walls and moat of
Castelfranco, a half nude mother, oblivious of a coming thunder shower,
nurses her child. Equally oblivious of her and the weather, a
fashionably dressed youth turns away. Ruins reflect the ominous
lightning flashes. Old records call this (one of the few certain
Giorgiones) The Soldier and the Gipsy—evidently a bad guess. A learned
Viennese professor chooses to think that this is Prince Adrastus finding
the forsaken Princess Hypsiphile. Nobody can prevent such conjectures or
disprove them. It is safer to imagine that coming rain and thunder at
Venice recalls some old memory of similar weather and state of mind at
Castelfranco, evokes some old desire of which this richly fanciful
masterpiece is the enigmatic symbol. Some story of loving and parting
surely underlies the poesy, it would be foolish to be more specific than
Giorgione himself has chosen to be. The Three Philosophers, at Vienna,
Figure 253, again has been explained as Aeneas surveying the future site
of Rome. What we actually have is a glowing nook at eventide in which
three grave men of different ages go separately about some task
requiring thought and mathematical calculation. And even this duty is
yielding to the spell and mystery of the evening hour. These pictures
are probably a little earlier than the altar-piece of 1504 at


  FIG. 254. Giorgione. Madonna with St. George and St.


  FIG. 255. Giorgione. Landscape by Titian. Sleeping Venus.—_Dresden._

That lovely work, Figure 254, has much of the intimacy of Bellini’s
altar-piece at S. Zaccaria, in formal arrangement it is rather
monumental. The mood, however, is one of revery. St. Francis of Assisi
makes his gesture only for himself, and St. George, exponent of the
active life, broods moodily beneath his slackly held pennon. The
Arcadian landscape quietly reinforces the idyllic feeling. Externally
the thing is splendid in color, and as saturated with atmosphere as it
is with mood.

From now on the question of chronology becomes at once difficult, and,
since we are dealing only with five years or so, relatively unimportant.
The sleeping Venus at Dresden, Figure 255, may have been designed about
1505. A Cupid slumbering at the Goddess’s feet has been painted out, and
the landscape was finished by Titian. The noble sleeping body, to use a
word of Lucretius which Montaigne commends, seems “poured out” on the
receptive earth—so grandly and easily it lies. The gestures are
unconscious caresses. The Goddess dreams of old joys. What faun or
sylvan even would not respect that dream? Not with passion, then, though
himself knowing all its sting, does Giorgione deal, but with ardors
sublimated in memory. The marvellous lines of this Venus, as sweeping as
the curves of hills or river currents, were imitated again and again,
but neither Titian, Palma Vecchio, nor the rest ever recaptured the
evasive poetry of their model.


  FIG. 256. Giorgione. Judith.—_Petrograd._

In 1508, working with Titian, Giorgione finished certain frescoes for
the outside of the German Warehouse. The remaining red blurs, and
Zanetti’s fragmentary copies, tell us that the postures begin to have
the breadth and conscious counterpoise of the advancing Renaissance, but
that the mood is still that of languor. Very like one of these figures
is the fascinating Judith, at Petrograd, Figure 256. After the horrors
of the night, she stands dreamily. Her lovely left leg escapes from the
courteous draperies, and the foot touches lightly the brow of the
peaceful, severed head of Holophernes. The touch of the foot is almost
careless, as if merely to assure herself that the portent is really
true. Her head bends gently, her nerveless beautiful fingers barely feel
her girdle or support her great sword. Behind her, morning forests and
fields stretch towards a tranquil sea and sky. The gestures are those of
one between sleeping and waking, irresolutely feeling for some basis in
reality. We are in a realm where the most awful deeds and experiences
count only as raw material for delicate imaginings.


  FIG. 257. Giorgione. Pastoral Symphony.—_Louvre._

In the later works problems multiply, and a critic is pretty well
reduced to personal intuitions. No doubt, however, should attach to the
pathetic and nearly effaced Christ of St. Roch. The Christ is nobler
than the earlier example at Fenway Court, the feeling more expansive.
Still nobody, not even the executioner, seems to will the atrocity of
the deed. The thing is not an act but a vision, pervaded by a dreamy

The completely repainted Pastoral Concert, Figure 257, at the Louvre is
never the less fraught with Giorgione’s peculiar poetry. A courtly lover
has struck a chord on the lute, and gazes intently, perhaps sadly, at a
shepherd sitting close to him. A rustic, nude nymph whose back only is
seen takes the pipe from her lips to listen. A proud beauty turns toward
a fountain, light draperies slip away from her superb form, and with a
graceful gesture of idleness she pours back into the fountain a tinkling
jet from a crystal pitcher, while she bends to note the ripple and catch
the pleasant, idle sound. This strange scene takes place on the edge of
a vale that winds down to a glittering sea, affording a path to a
shepherd and his flocks. The meaning? Modern criticism is loath to look
beyond contrasts of nude and clothed forms, swing of tree-tops and of
sky, subtle interplay of light and shade. My own reading is merely based
on the contrast between the rustic and urban lovers, and an intuition
that the courtier in peering so wistfully at the shepherd is merely
seeing himself in a former guise. In lassitude, perhaps in satiety,
beside a courtly mistress who is absent from him in spirit, there rises
the vision of earlier simpler love and of a devoted shepherdess who once
piped for him in the shade. The vision rises as his listless hand sweeps
the lute strings in a chord unmarked by the far lovelier mistress at the
fountain. The golden age of love, like Arcady itself, is ever in the
past. Such may be the reading of this poesy. Indeed all Giorgione’s
pictures are less facts than apparitions born of roving thought in
idleness,—such stuff as dreams are made of.

The famous Concert, Figure 258, of the Pitti since Morelli’s time has
been generally classed as an early Titian, I think erroneously. The
precise and powerful execution of the Monk’s head is certainly his, but
I question if the motive itself lay within the scope of his lucid and
uncomplicated imagination. An Augustinian monk holds the initial harmony
on the clavichord and turns towards the ’cellist while the singer waits
impassively. And this simple theme becomes a universal symbol for
thwarted desire. The player asks a kind of sympathy which this world
rarely affords, which certainly these companions cannot give. As in the
Pastoral Symphony, the music awakens impossible longings, is the
accompaniment of inadequacy. Titian was too robust ever to have imagined
such a thing, and I feel we need only modify the old tradition to the
extent of giving Titian a hand in an unfinished Giorgione to account for
this poignant and most characteristic masterpiece.


  FIG. 258. Giorgione _cum_ Titian. The Concert.—_Pitti._

There remains old and good tradition for crediting Giorgione with the
design of the altar-piece in San Giovanni Crisostomo. The execution is
unquestionably by Sebastiano del Piombo. If this view be correct,
Giorgione attained the external features of the coming Renaissance
style, missing its athleticism. Certainly the abstraction of the saint
and the unmotivated appearance of the three virtues, and their unrelated
gracefulness, is entirely in Giorgione’s manner, while the whole
invention is alien to Sebastiano’s heavy and forthright talent.

For the view I have tried to give of this poet picture-maker I may claim
at least the merit of consistency. There is only one theme—languor of
love and of remembered happiness; and there is only one setting—the
Arcadia of the pastoral poets. Giorgione is the first painter who
realized Leonardo’s definition of painting as “mute poetry,” yet not
quite mute for there is generally a suggestion of music. And the music
is less heard than contemplated, as is the case in one of his latest
pictures, the Shepherd Boy, Figure 259, who hesitates to set the flute
to his lips lest the melody fall short of that which the imagination has
already heard.


  FIG. 259. Giorgione. Shepherd with a Flute.—_Hampton Court._

For ten years after Giorgione’s death his mood dominated Titian with
most of the rising artists. It seemed likely to replace the sturdy and
objective art of Venice with a quite alien subjectivism. Meanwhile the
normal effort of old Giovanni, Bellini and of young Titian continued.
The Renaissance offered to the outer eye new dignities and splendors.
The inner eye went bankrupt in the numerous imitators of Giorgione, in
trivial symbolism and merely playful mythology. After her brief pause in
Arcadia, Venice once more took account of her own proud charms. The
nymphs paled before the comparison, Arcadia vanished. But it never was
wholly forgotten, and, ever since, those who have craved actually to see
the golden age of poesy have had to consult Giorgione of Castelfranco.

                      ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER VII


The immense authority of Mantegna kept his name on all honor lists of
painters long after his death.

Lorenzo of Pavia, writing in 1504 to Isabella d’Este, says of a Madonna
by Giovanni Bellini:

“The Painter has made a great effort to do himself honour, chiefly out
of respect to M. Andrea Mantegna, and although it is true that in point
of invention it cannot compare with the work of Messer Andrea, that most
excellent master, I pray Your Excellency to take the picture, both for
your own honour and also because of the merit of the work.”

Julia Cartwright, _Isabella d’Este_, New York, 1903, Vol. I, p. 351.

A little later Lorenzo writes:

“And, as I have said before, in point of invention no one can rival
Andrea Mantegna, who is indeed a most excellent painter, the foremost of
our age. But Zuan Bellini excels in colouring.” l. c. 352.

On Oct. 16, 1506, Lorenzo writes, on learning of Mantegna’s death:

“I am much grieved to hear of the death of our Messer Andrea Mantegna.
For indeed we have lost a most excellent man and a second Apelles, but I
believe that the Lord God will employ him to make some beautiful work.
As for me, I can never hope to see again a finer draughtsman and more
original artist.”

Isabella replied:

“Lorenzo,—We were sure that you would grieve over the death of M. Andrea
Mantegna, for, as you say, a great light has gone out.”

                                                           l. c. I. 369.

                       TITIAN’S VIEW OF MANTEGNA

As late as 1519, Titian admired the Mantegnas at Mantua. Girolamo da
Sestola, Isabella’s music master, writes to her:

“M. Dosso and M. Tiziano, another good master who is making a fine
picture here [The Bacchanal, at Madrid] for the Lord Duke, went to
Mantua. He saw all Mantegna’s works, and praised them greatly to our
signor, and he also praised your studies. But above all, he admired your
_Tondo_ [the frescoed ceiling of the Camera degli Sposi, Fig. 219]
exceedingly, and calls it the finest thing he has ever seen. Our Signor
has one here, but Titian says yours is incomparably the finest.”

                                                       l. c. II. 171, 2.


Ariosto as late as 1515 still includes Mantegna and Giovanni Bellini
among the best artists. The list is instructive as to the fallibility of
contemporary judgments. The two Dossi and Sebastiano del Piombo today
have lost their place in the roll.

        “And those who were and still are in our days—
        Leonardo, Andrea Mantegna, Giambellino,
        The Dossis, he who chiselled and colored equally
        Michel, more than mortal, Angel divine,
        Sebastian, Raphael, Titian who honors
        No more Cadore, than they Venice and Urbino.”
                            _Orlando Furioso_, Canto XXXIII, 2.


  “Each painter has naturally had a genus more conformable to one poet
  rather than another, and has followed that poet in his work, as it is
  easy to see in the modern painters. For one sees that Leonardo has
  expressed the movement and decorum of Homer, Polidoro the grandeur and
  sweep of Virgil, Michelangelo the profound obscurity of Dante, Raphael
  the pure majesty of Petrarch, Andrea Mantegna the keen judgment of
  Sannazaro, Titian the variety of Ariosto, and Gaudenzio Ferrari the
  devotion which one finds expressed in the books of the saints.”

  Paolo Lomazzo, _Trattato dell’ Arte delle Pittura_, Milan, 1584, p.

  See also Castiglione’s list in Illustrations to Chapter VI, p. 313.


  “What moves thee, O man, to quit thy city habitations and leave thy
  friends and kin, and go in places wild by reason of mountains and
  valleys, if not the natural beauty of the world, the which, if thou
  well considerest, thou enjoyest only through the sense of sight? And
  if the poet wishes to call himself also a painter in such matters, why
  do you not take such sites as described by the poet and stay at home
  without feeling the excessive heat of the sun? And would not this be
  more useful and less wearisome since it is done in coolness and
  without moving about and risk of illness?

  “But the mind cannot enjoy the benefit of the eyes, windows of its
  habitation, and cannot receive the varieties of delightful spots,
  cannot see the shady valleys furrowed by the play of winding streams,
  cannot see the various flowers which with their colors make a harmony
  for the eye—and so with all the things which can be represented to
  that eye.”

  “But if the painter in the cold and harsh winter time sets before thee
  those same places painted, and others, in which thou mayest have
  experienced thy pleasures beside some fountain, thou canst see again
  thyself as a lover, with thy loved one in blossoming meadows, under
  the sweet shadow of verdurous trees—wilt thou not receive quite an
  other pleasure than from hearing such an effect described by the

                                Leonardo, _Trattato_, Wien, 1882, p. 44.

This is so fully in the mood of Giorgione’s idyllism that one likes to
think that he may have talked over such themes with Leonardo when they
met in Venice in 1500.


  FIG. 260. Titian. Bacchus and Ariadne.—_London._

                              CHAPTER VIII

  Titian before 1545—Some contemporaries, Sebastiano del Piombo, Palma
      Vecchio—The advent of Modern Sensitiveness in Lorenzo
      Lotto—Moretto of Brescia—Correggio—Titian’s last Manner, its
      subjectivism and impressionism—The Portraitist Moroni—Tintoretto
      and the new dramatic emotionalism—Paolo Veronese, his spectacular
      mastery and impressionism, his characteristic works—Eighteenth
      Century Venetians: Tiepolo, Canaletto and Guardi—Longhi.

The glory of Venetian painting is to an unusual degree that of a single
individual, Titian[78] of Cadore. He lived nearly a hundred years, from
1477 to 1576, and we can trace his painting for more than seventy years
of serene and unbroken progress. He had great contemporaries—Sebastiano
del Piombo, Palma Vecchio, Tintoretto, Paolo Veronese, Lorenzo Lotto,
Moroni, Moretto of Brescia—but so various and comprehensive is his
achievement that their work seems merely so many extensions of the paths
first explored by him. In his noble and measured sensuousness, he seems
nearer the Greeks than any other Italian painter.

If he is something less than admirable as a character, it is because of
an unpleasantly calculating side. He schemed ruthlessly for preferment
and lucrative sinecures, had the repute of envying young artists of
talent, flattered to the limit his Hapsburg patrons, bargained and
begged concerning prices, let himself be puffed egregiously by his
blackguard friend, Pietro Aretino, first and most formidable of yellow
journalists. Yet this element of craft in the man was eminently
Venetian. They schemed for splendor and pleasure, and measured even
their indulgences. Thus we should not expect lyrical raptures or
extremes of any sort in Titian. His art is one of judgment and
moderation. Indeed that calculating spirit which makes him unamiable as
a man was a source of strength to him as an artist. One of his pupils,
Palma Giovine, has described his manner of working. First he laid in his
pictures heavily in neutral tones. Then he turned them to the wall for
months to dry. Then he would pass from one to the other, scrutinizing
each “as if it were his worst enemy.” He would add color, amend drawing
and composition, thus systematically carrying many pictures forward at a
time, and subjecting each to repeated criticism and correction. He never
painted a figure at one go, saying that “he who improvises his song
never achieves learned verses or well turned.” Precisely the greatness
of Titian lay in his capacity to put ardor into these prolonged critical
processes. Thus if certain raptures are denied him, he is never below
himself, but always as noble in sentiment as he is resplendent in color.

Tiziano Vecellio was born at Cadore, in the Dolomites, in 1477.[79] Its
shadowy oaks and blue alps live in his backgrounds. At eleven he was put
with a mosaic worker, Zuccati, at Venice. He may have worked for a time
with Gentile Bellini, but attained his real development in the studio of
Giovanni Bellini, under the stimulus of his fellow pupil, Giorgione.
This intimate and poetical phase of Titian’s genius lasts from before
1505 to 1516 and the Assumption.

His second period is that of fullest color and vitality. It runs from
1517 to say 1536, Titian’s fortieth to fifty-ninth year, and the
characteristic works are the monumental altar-pieces at Venice and the
Mythologies painted for the Este family at Ferrara.

The third period extends from about 1537 to 1548. It is marked by deeper
resonances of color that is tending towards tone, and by a more
objective and static ideal. Energy is no longer squandered, and intimate
poetry is not sought. Typical works are those mythologies and portraits
done for the Duke of Urbino, and the early Hapsburg portraits.


  FIG. 261. Titian. Portrait so-called “Ariosto.”—_London._


  FIG. 262. Titian. Portrait of a Youth.—_Temple Newsham, England._

The fourth period begins with 1548 or a little earlier, Titian’s
seventieth year, and lasts nearly thirty years till his death. A looser
and more synthetic construction, the substitution of broken shades and
tone for frank color, a more tragic and ardent mood, a more energetic
grandeur of composition, with lesser formality, are the marks of this
amazing last phase, in which Titian becomes a precursor of Rembrandt and
Velasquez. Since he now works chiefly for the Hapsburgs, the great
examples are at Madrid and Vienna.


  FIG. 263. Titian. The Tribute Money.—_Dresden._

The earliest Titians show the sultry shadows of Giorgione, and are
distinguishable from his work only by a more linear quality, and by a
greater explicitness of mood. Titian’s poetry is direct and rarely
ambiguous. What ardors of flesh and spirit are suggested in his early
portraits of men! The portrait of a bearded man in London, Figure 261,
is conceived entirely in Giorgione’s fashion, as a short bust showing
the hands, and the mysterious envelopment in warm shadow is Giorgione’s
as is the sensitiveness of touch and characterization. But with all his
gentle beauty, the man is formidable. His aloofness is no revery, but
some preparation of will for action. Again Giorgione would hardly have
labored to suggest the material splendor of the silvery satin sleeve.
Even more perfect is the half-length of a young patrician at Temple
Newsham, Figure 262, England. It is full of a reserved poetry, yet the
effect is as well almost shrewd and diplomatic. This youth has the
Venetian capacity for both passion and affairs. Both these portraits
should be a little earlier than 1510. Such masterpieces of smouldering
ardor as the Knight of Malta, erroneously ascribed to Giorgione and the
Man with a Glove, at Paris, must be a little later. In concentration
these are as fine as Giorgione’s portraits, but quite a different spirit
transpires from the investing shadows. These men of Titian are no
day-dreamers, but resolute and purposeful. They live little in memory
and much in prospect. Their imagination implies action and possession.
Even the drawing is more resolute. Study the eye sockets, temples, and
cheek bones of these early Titians. Nowhere in Giorgione do you get such
a sense of inner bony structure, of thicker and thinner cushions of
flesh, of tenser or slacker skin. The method finds its most admirable
expression in the two marvellous heads of the Tribute Money (1514–5), at
Dresden, Figure 263. Yet how little mystery or pathos is invoked. With a
gesture and an expression of exquisite consideration and breeding, the
Saviour baffles the most eager and fanatical of inquisitors. Nothing
could be more unlike the abstracted and almost morose Christs of
Giorgione. As usual, Titian stands on the ground of the finest
worldliness, as the Greeks had done. With the supernal, whether in
heaven or Arcadia, he has little concern.


  FIG. 264. Titian. The Three Ages.—_Bridgewater House, London._

In the early poesies Titian at once manifests his adoration of Giorgione
and his own independence. In the Three Ages, Figure 264, at Bridgewater
House we may grasp at its highest beauty his robust Arcadianism. In a
meadow landscape an ardent nymph woos her bronzed swain. Complacently he
accepts her unreserved advances. Nothing could be more explicit than the
relation between the lovers, and with equal plainness an old man and
sleeping child serve to teach us that youth and its sweetest ardors are
but a brief pause between childhood and old age. Let us then seize the
moments when nature and love are kind to us. Such is the forthright
poetry of Titian. It is the poetry of every boy and every girl—simple,
classic, unchangeable. Think of the overtones and personal
interpretations with which Giorgione would have overlaid such a theme.
Such twilight mysteries are alien to Titian’s fervent and lucid spirit.
He loves the morning hour with work and love ahead, as Giorgione loves
the veiling glamour and brooding memories of eventide.


  FIG. 265. Titian. “Sacred and Profane Love.”—_Borghese, Rome._

The Three Ages was probably painted about 1512, the far more famous
poesy, misnamed Sacred and Profane Love, Figure 265, is two or three
years later. The sumptuous variety and richness of Titian are here at
their height. Luminous marbles, pearly nude forms, lustrous stuffs, dark
shimmer of foliage and sun-swept slopes of grass seem created merely to
set off their respective beauties of hue and texture. Purples, azure,
rose, saturated greens form a sonorous chord of colors which is so
satisfying that one scarcely asks why a Cupid stirs the waters of a
magic fountain, and why a splendidly clothed figure sits tranquilly at
the side while a superb nude figure turns impulsively and holds aloft a
burning lamp.

Explanations of the fable abound. It is Venus persuading Helen to harken
to Paris, or Medea to aid Jason. So the Germans. I am sure only that if
we knew the meaning it would be quite as simple as these explanations.
My friend, the late William P. Andrews, suggested that we have a lovely
symbolism for the inquietude of maidenhood and the composure of
matronhood—love in prospect and retrospect. The universality of the
interpretation is in its favor. Titian’s mind worked socially and
concretely. Plainly the nude figure is reminiscent of Giorgione’s
listless beauty by the fountain in the Pastoral Concert, Figure 257.
Titian’s maiden lacks something of the momentary grace and spontaneity
of her model, but has in compensation a fuller grandeur.


  FIG. 266. Titian. Flora.—_Pitti._

Perhaps the ideal portrait of Flora (1515–16), in the Pitti, Figure 266,
should be reckoned with the poesies rather than with portraits. In
material beauty few Titians excel it. The curded whites of the drapery
vie with the flushed ivory of face and bosom. The sweetness of the
impression is almost awe-inspiring. What a world it is that thrusts
forth carelessly such beauty as this! Think of Giorgione’s quite similar
Shepherd with the Pipe, Figure 259, and imagine again the twilight
mystery with which he would have invested this apparition. Titian on the
contrary thinks and feels like every man, but with an intensity and
clearness quite his own. The lyrical and subjective note is incidental
and superficial in him even when he most seems to resemble his lost

Titian’s progress in composition is best noted in the religious pieces.
From the first he seeks to break up the old inert symmetries. He invents
active balances, brings the main thrusts to the sides of the pictures
rather than to the centre. Thus even his Conversation Pieces gain
implications of action and energy. In the altar-piece of St. Peter with
Donors, at Antwerp, perhaps as early as 1502, and still somewhat in
Bellini’s style, we find the enthroned figure moved to the side and the
accessory figures arranged in a processional approach. The somewhat
later altar-piece of St. Mark at the Salute, painted probably in 1504,
Figure 267, again evades the old central symmetries. The Saint is
enthroned off centre and his position gains great energy and novelty
from its elevation and consequent foreshortening. The four plague saints
keep the old symmetry, their types are partly from Bellini (the St.
Sebastian), partly from nature. The structure in glowing shadow is that
of Giorgione. We trace the same evasion of old symmetries and the same
Giorgionesque fire in the Baptism of Christ, in the Capitoline at Rome,
and Christ and Mary Magdalen, at London. Such pictures with their
slightly conscious emphasis prepare the way for the more assured and
sonorous harmonies of the great altar-backs of the ’20s.


  FIG. 267. Titian. St. Mark with Plague Saints.—_Salute._

The Madonnas and Conversation pieces again show us most vividly how his
taste is working. The Gipsy Madonna, Figure 268, at Vienna, painted
about 1505, is highly Giorgionesque, but Giorgione never painted such
sculptural forms, nor ever conceived so resolute a Christchild. Even the
throwing of the outlet to one side reveals Titian. At Madrid and Vienna
are superb half-length Madonnas arranged symmetrically after Bellini’s
fashion, but with greater freedom of pose. Titian soon saw that the old
compositional forms could not express the new energy. He makes repeated
experiments, shifts the Madonna to one side, as in the unfinished
Madonna with St. Anthony at Florence. He adds figures and rearranges
them until the Conversation piece becomes an audience, with the saints
and donors approaching the Madonna, as in an Adoration of the Magi. We
find the completed form in the admirable Conversation piece, of about
1510 with its two versions in the Louvre and at Vienna, Figure 269; and
considerably later, a further development in those numerous full-length
Holy Families in landscapes of which the Madonna of the Hare (1530),
Figure 270, and The Marriage of St. Catherine, at London, are consummate
types. And with all the conscious experimentalism of this work, the
sense of character and of beauty is unperturbed. As compared with the
contemporary Holy Families of Raphael, the accent is more individual and
local. These superb Madonnas and gracious female saints with attendant
martyrs and church doctors, are merely the lads and lasses of
Carpaccio’s legends, grown up to manhood and womanhood, increased in
dignity and sweetness.


  FIG. 268. Titian. Gipsy Madonna.—_Vienna._


  FIG. 269. Titian. Madonna with Saints.—_Vienna._

Until the death of Giovanni Bellini, in 1515, Titian seems a little
hampered by his example as by that of Giorgione. Then, as if relieved of
a restraint, Titian pursues his own aims. His design, in such great
altar-backs as the Assumption and the Madonna of the Pesaro family,
doubles its breadth and energy. His mythologies, in the bacchanals for
the Alabaster Chamber of Alphonso d’Este, at Ferrara, are no longer
pensive lyrics, but dithyrambs; primordial lyrics, for animation and
power. The religious pictures, such as the noble Entombment in the
Louvre, are no longer insistently pathetic. Subjective poetry is
everywhere giving way to masculine assertion of the splendor of love,
motherhood, comradeship. And these great objective commonplaces, which
were the very staple in their day of Greek Epic and Sculpture, receive
in Titian their finest modern embodiment. His new energy requires a
changed color. All the hues are brighter and more resonant. Their
harmonies no longer require the bond of deep shadow, but are positive
and established at the middle of the color scale, where color is most
itself. If the music of Giorgione was that of vibrating lute strings,
that of Titian has the clarity and clangor of exquisitely harmonized
woodwind and brass.


  FIG. 270. Titian. Holy Family with Rabbit.—_London._

Before sounding this new music, Titian prudently secured the sinecure, a
Commissionership of the Salt Taxes, which old Giovanni Bellini had
enjoyed. While scheming for it, he was designing also the most famous of
his great altar-pieces, the Assumption, Figure 271. It was finished in
1518, set on the high altar of the Friar’s Church, whither it has lately
returned. Titian adopts a form of composition which Fra Bartolommeo and
Raphael had employed. The upper celestial tier is symmetrically
arranged, almost in a domical way, the lower tier abounds in swinging
turns and gestures, one carefully balancing the others. The forms are
large and athletic, such as the Renaissance preferred, for greater
gravity. Their weight is compensated by the ease with which they hold
themselves and by the numerous floating and falling cherubs, playfully
at home in their clouds, like so many celestial rose leaves for the
crispness and lightness with which Titian’s brush has touched them in.


  FIG. 271. Titian. The Assumption.—_S. M. dei Frari._


  FIG. 272. Titian. Pesaro Madonna.—_Frari._

An over-spiritual observer might ask, Why are the Apostles so jubilant
at losing their beloved Mistress? Only a little earlier, Giovanni
Bellini, who painted the theme for San Pietro Martire at Murano,
invested his witnesses with pathos, silence, wonder and awe. In
comparison Titian is obvious, and barely reverent. He thinks of nothing
but that this is Mary’s moment of highest glory, so of course her
friends cheer boisterously as they wave her off heavenwards. Titian’s
mind does not work in half tones of sensibility, yet he is honestly
religious in his own way. The Lord’s people are good enough for him, and
he likes them not in the hush of devotion but in the expansive moments
of action. The attitude is operatic. Choruses have no business with
overtones, all voices shall be _robusto_. What infallible taste he shows
along these simple lines! There is no smallness, no mere floridness of
utterance, no hint of over-emphasis. Such art is the despair of the
modern artist. He cannot feel so simply. The great enduring commonplaces
are denied to his more complicated genius.

Perhaps Titian is even more himself in the Madonna of the Pesaro Family,
Figure 272, which was in hand from 1519 to 1526. For animation he sets
the throne of Mary to the right, and carries splendid columns back in
depth. He gives to every gesture of saint or donor a balancing relation
to the gracious curve of the body of the Queen of Heaven. He renews the
Giorgionesque mystery in the portraits of children, adds picturesque
accessories of armor, velvet, and silken banner. The picture is as rich
as it is logical and monumental, as varied in character as it is unified
in mood. It is only by chance that it stands almost over Titian’s tomb,
and yet it would have been hard to find a picture that better represents
both his more intimate and his more objective perfections. Even such
masterpieces as the Madonna with six Saints in the Vatican (1523), and
the lost Slaying of Saint Peter Martyr (before 1530), which enjoyed
three centuries of praise, seem a little set and over-reasonable in

Alphonso d’Este’s Alabaster Chamber at Ferrara represented the high
point of mythological poesy for the Full Renaissance, as Castello with
its Signorelli and Botticellis marked a similar culmination for the
Early Renaissance. It is lamentable that we see these essential
expressions of two great moments torn from their context and relegated
to the promiscuity of museums. Yet the scattered poesies from the
Alabaster Chamber remain a delight, at London, Madrid, and Philadelphia,
and give us the truest impression of the pagan greatness of Titian in
his maturity. For this series old Giovanni Bellini, in 1514, painted a
sylvan Feast of the Gods, Figure 242. Titian, succeeding to the work,
freely repainted the landscape, to harmonize it with his own poesies.
Two years later Titian set up The Worship of Venus, now in the Prado.
Before the white image of the goddess the shadowy lawn swarms with
winged loves. They frolic, dally, pluck apples shaken down by their
mates from the trees above. The strong little bodies glow delicately
like the inside of a great shell. A rhythm of joyous life runs through
the picture. In due course Rubens, Boucher and Fragonard will fill earth
and air with tumbling Cupids like these, but will hardly recapture the
spontaneous ecstasy of this scene. It is baffling to learn that its
origins are academic—from the imaginary gallery of the Alexandrian
philosopher, Philostratus. Again a two year interval, for Titian ever
declined to be hurried, and, in 1520, the Bacchanal, or Bacchus among
the Andrians, was ready. About the lolling figures of two clothed
nymphs, the sleek brown bodies of nude sylvans bend in grand gestures as
they pour the wine. At the left Bacchus in professional aloofness goes
about the serious business of emptying a flagon. At the right is flung
the relaxed body of a nymph overcome by sleep and wine. Her splendid
nudity shines forth in competition with a soaring afternoon cloud, while
behind her a lightly draped shepherd dances with his lass. The orgy is
swept by the clean breeze and dappled with sunlight—purifying elements.
We have not intoxication in the gross sense, but the Greek notion of an
elemental Bacchic inspiration.

The decoration was triumphantly completed in 1523 with the Bacchus and
Ariadne, Figure 260, now in the National Gallery. The noisy train of the
god of wine sweeps into the picture oblivious of the heroine. As the
leopards swing the car along the strand, the God flings himself
rapturously towards the form of startled Ariadne, who with a grand,
hesitating gesture turns her head and body away while her legs and feet
still bear her towards her wooer. The thing sparkles with wine-red and
azure, tingles electrically with passion, gives forth a clamor which is
also a harmony. Its exuberance is well contained in noble compositional
forms. The passionate yet disciplined soul of Titian approaching fifty
is fully expressed in this marvellous work.


  FIG. 273. Titian. The Entombment.—_Louvre._

Passing to the religious pictures once more, the Entombment, Figure 273,
now in the Louvre, which was painted for the Gonzagas about 1525, is
again a masterpiece of unaffected feeling and of finest disposition of
masses. The central group looms against the sky with the grandeur of a
great dome. Whoever has seen strong men caring for the dead or stricken
will realize the reserve and nobility of acts which are expressions of
sympathies too deep for words. I saw things like that at the Messina
earthquake. Equally fine and restrained is the protective attitude of
the Magdalen towards a Mary stark and mute with grief. Magnificent is
the contrast of the grand nude forms of the dead Christ, with the rich
stuffs in which the attendants are clothed. I imagine when Titian
conceived this simple elegy with such power and pathos he may have had
scornful reference to Raphael’s distorted and sensational version of the
same theme, Figure 186. And perhaps the æsthetic lesson of the picture
is that choice feeling is far more difficult of attainment than fine

In 1533, Titian, by command, met the Emperor Charles V at Augsburg, was
promptly made a knight and later a count palatine. From now on he was
much employed by the Emperor and his son Philip. With that relationship
a change begins to come over his art. He becomes less exuberant, more
official and objective. Titian at sixty has said almost every possible
thing on his own account, and is content for a space to be observer and
recorder of the stately world about him. We have descriptions of him at
this time, maintaining a princely hospitality in his palace, and
declining to share the dissipations which he willingly provided for such
loose-living friends as Francesco Sansovino and Pietro Aretino.

He strangely depoetizes himself. The change comes somewhere about 1536,
and a notable evidence of it is in the portrait of a lady in peacock
blue velvet, in the Pitti. Posterity has agreed to call her simply La
Bella, and so impersonal a style well befits her impassive beauty.
Materially Titian has never painted more exquisitely, but it has become
a painting of surfaces. The appeal is vague, general, social, there are
no personal intimations, merely a magnificent statement of entirely
obvious perfections.

Again Titian is content to be the mere painter in the so-called Venus of
Urbino, Figure 274. It was painted about 1538, and is in the Uffizi.
Evidently the sleeping Venus of Giorgione is in Titian’s mind, but what
a loss in awaking her! Titian sees the gracious forms for what they are
of nacreous light and rosy shadow, he sees the room for what it is in
distribution of curtained interior and alcove space irradiated by
morning light. He studies curiously the delicate nuances of bluer sheet
and creamier skin, he models out the slender body with faintest
investment of almost imperceptible shadow. In short, he is just a
painter, but what a painter he is!


  FIG. 274. Titian. Venus of Urbino.—_Pitti._

About the same time he did the official portraits of Eleonora and
Federigo Gonzaga. He treats them as grandees. They are imposing, almost
pompous, every inch the prince and princess. He sees with a courtier’s
eye, and gives to official portraiture that impersonal cast which it has
since only too faithfully retained. He revives the great traditions of
Venetian narrative painting. The great wall painting, in the Ducal
Palace, of the Imperial Victory at Cadore has perished. Old copies and
engravings tell us of its energy, picturesqueness and panoramic breadth.
Fortunately the great mural canvas, finished in 1538 and representing
Mary entering the Temple, is still in its place; for the old School of
the Carità has become the Academy. In this picture Titian realizes all
that the Veronese and Venetian painters from Altichiero down had sought
for. Like his predecessors, he is chiefly spectacular, subordinating
character, but he attains a monumental breadth which they never remotely
glimpsed. The scheme is worked out in magnificent oblongs varied by
triangular forms which repeat the motive of the steps. The chief
narrative motives, the childish determination of the Virgin, the
gracious expectancy of the high priest, the admiration of the women
below, hold their own amazingly in the vast space. The surface sings
with color. The painting was affixed to the wall in 1538, fully ten
years before Paolo Veronese had made this sort of pageantry his special

Almost as dispassionate is the great canvas, depicting Christ before the
People (1543), at Vienna. It becomes less an expression of the
submission of Christ than an exaltation of the Imperial power that has
him in charge and of the mob spirit that cries for his blood. The
architectural surroundings are magnificent. There are wonderful details,
as in the howling boy at the left and the white form of a girl caught in
the throng. Her sudden apparition as an element of relief and mystery
anticipates by nearly a century a similar device in Rembrandt’s Night

Very characteristic in its patrician decorum is The Disciples at Emmaus,
in the Louvre, Figure 275, which was painted about 1545. Here there is
no intensity in the moment of surprise and revelation. Benignly the
Christ breaks bread; reverently and without excitement the disciples
give him his due worship. All the homeliness and surprise that are in
St. Luke’s narrative, and that Rembrandt later emphasized, have been
leveled out in the interest of discretion and nobility. The disciples
show no more enthusiasm than a Venetian dignitary and prelate should.


  FIG. 275. The Supper at Emmaus.—_Louvre._

Two portraits which were both painted within the year 1545 show Titian
at the parting of the ways. The Aretino, in the Pitti Palace, the even
finer sketch being in the Frick Collection, New York, Figure 276,
reveals the truculent and sensual man of letters in all his formidable
massiveness. The satin and velvets in which he is clad are painted
lightly but with fullest regard for their textures and material beauty.
Titian liked Aretino and had profited by his bitter and venal pen. So
without emphasizing Aretino’s effrontery and brutality Titian brings out
his resolute intelligence.

In the portraits of Paul III, Figure 277, especially in that scene where
the decrepit Pope muses craftily between two smooth flatterers and
traitors, his own kinsmen, the sinister air seems filled with contesting
wills. A veil of atmosphere interposes itself before the figures. The
touch is light, contrasts are evaded, materials count for very little,
there is no copying of rich surfaces. Even the color is reduced to tones
of gray merely warmed with reds or cooled with blues.


  FIG. 276. Titian. Pietro Aretino.—_Frick Coll., N. Y._


  FIG. 277. Titian. Paul III and his Nephews.—_Naples._

In its tremulous psychology, in its reticence, in its substitute of
richly broken monochrome for a gamut of real color, this picture is a
kind of negation of everything Titian had attained. His remaining thirty
years were given to ideals which are no longer bounded by the Venetian
lagoon, but are as broad perhaps and indeterminate as the modern
imagination itself. Before exploring this mystery of Titian’s renovation
of his art at seventy, and since his Venetian style has closed, we may
do well to consider some of his contemporaries at Venice and in

Sebastiano del Piombo[80] was born at Venice in 1487, and like most of
his generation emulated the smouldering harmonies of Giorgione. He
paints such admirable portraits as the so-called Fornarina, at Florence,
which long passed for a Raphael. He soon passes from the lyrism of
Giorgione to a dramatic mode quite his own. He was called to Rome, made
keeper of the Papal Seal, became an executant of Michelangelo’s designs,
and thus indulged a losing rivalry with Raphael. He commands a heavy
dignity in his male portraits, and in his various pictures of the Dead
Christ and Mary, attains a robust and telling pathos. Down to his death,
in 1547, he maintained a tradition of Giorgionesque color in the alien
air of Rome, and represented something of the gravity of the Venetian
Renaissance in a city rapidly giving itself to sensationalism.


  FIG. 278. Palma Vecchio. Adoration of the Shepherds.—_Louvre._

Palma Vecchio[81] is a more considerable figure. Born at Serinalta amid
the Bergamesque hills, in 1480, we find him at Venice, by 1505 among the
pupils of Giovanni Bellini. Like the rest, he is touched by Giogione’s
poetry, but on the whole he merely intensifies and refines upon simpler
methods. He follows Titian in the conversation piece, and does many
Arcadian Holy Families which are beautifully lighted, radiantly colored
and felt with a warmth and simplicity that just misses sentimentality.
Among the best is the Adoration of the Shepherds, Figure 278, in the

With Titian, he loves women of generous build and he sets off their
impressive charms by careful posing, employing all the new devices of
counterpoise. One may see him at his grandest in the altar-piece of St.
Barbara, Figure 279, painted after 1561. The saint is worthy to be the
patroness of artillerymen. She holds her martyr’s palm like a field
marshal’s baton, she is imperiously confident and yet gentle—a lovely
Amazon of the Christian pantheon.


  FIG. 279. Palma Vecchio.—_S.M. Formosa._

In the Arcadian nude Palma has delicacy and refinement of workmanship,
but the mood is obvious. For him beauty is literally skin deep, and he
gives himself to the impossible competition of paint with nature’s
nacreous shades and ineffable carnations. But he so nearly succeeds that
just as a painter of lovely surfaces no Venetian painter quite equalled
him, not even Titian, and with this single talent Palma almost made
himself a great portraitist. Indeed if painting surfaces were all of
portraiture, he would be the greatest portraitist of the Renaissance.
But his big, blond models lose condition in his hands. Charming as is
such a group as the Three Graces at Dresden, or the dozen or more single
portraits of men and women, they lack the last quality of distinction.
He tries to gain it by adopting rather overtly the pathos and
wistfulness of Giorgione, but it doesn’t suit his exquisitely groomed
cavaliers nor yet their even more exquisitely groomed and most ample
light o’loves. Indeed, despite a handful of superb portraits, Palma has
ever the air rather of a consummate beauty doctor than that of a great
artist. However that be, his influence was widespread throughout
Northern Italy, and especially around his native Bergamo. He died in
1528, leaving a Veronese pupil, Bonifazio, to complete his unfinished
canvases and to carry on to the middle of the century his brilliant and
gentle style. Within his narrow range Palma is admirable, never uneasy,
never below himself. In his unperturbed Arcadianism and even in his
harmless sentimentalism, in his delicacy and robustness, he seems more
Venetian than the Venetians themselves.

Composure is the very soul of the grand style whether in fifth century
Athens or in sixteenth century Florence, Rome, or Venice. It accepts the
human spectacle as worthy and thrilling, admires without misgivings the
best things that come before its eye. That is why radicals hate the
grand style—and rightly, for it is always aristocratic, caring rather
little for the average man and much for that privileged remnant which
lives in highest bodily efficiency and mental ease. The grand style is
on the side of what Matthew Arnold called the barbaric virtues of
wealth, health, and generous living. The moment the artist begins to
question the social order, to be curious about the foibles and fates of
individuals as such, the grand style is in peril. This delicate and
inquisitive sensibility makes its appearance in Italy not long after the
death of Raphael. You will find it in Pontormo, at Florence, in Lorenzo
Lotto, in the Venetic region, in Moretto of Brescia, above all in
Correggio, more assertively in Tintoretto, and latent in Titian’s last
phase. It is a tremor on the sea of history that heralds a new dawn.


  FIG. 280. Lorenzo Lotto. Adoration of the Shepherds.—_Brescia._

Lorenzo Lotto,[82] born at Treviso in 1480, first and most
characteristically embodies the new intimacy. He worked widely through
Lombardy and the Marches, enjoying a transitory vogue at Venice. Trained
in the austere methods of Alvise Vivarini, he soon gave himself to his
own native melancholy. One may see his qualities and defects in the
great Enthroned Madonna, in San Bartolommeo at Bergamo. Mr. Berenson has
well remarked that the saints are no longer demi-gods and objects of
worship, but “pious souls in whose faces and gestures we discern the
zeal, the fervor, the yearning, the reverie, or even the sentimental
ecstacy peculiar to the several temperaments most frequently occurring
among the children of Holy Mother Church.” Note too how the stately
architecture derived from Giovanni Bellini and the crowded figure group
mutually dwarf one another. Intimacy and monumentality do not live well
together. This picture was finished in 1516, the year that Titian began
the Assumption. Does not the contrast show Lotto an alien in his time
and a harbinger of ours? In later pictures of less monumental
pretensions,—as in a Nativity, Figure 280, at Brescia, which may
profitably be contrasted with Palma’s more assured version,—he attains a
penetrating beauty of a morbid kind, and his sensitiveness makes him a
most appealing portraitist. He has left an extraordinary gallery of shy,
inadequate, sometimes morose and invalid men, and women, Figure 281.
They have not the confidence of the Renaissance, but hesitations like
our own. Which shows perhaps that the Renaissance mood was ever urban
and the affair of a minority of statesmen, merchants and humanists. In
the little cities where there was no enlightened court the human spirit
retained and betrayed its immemorial frailties and misgivings. Lotto
died in 1556, having widely diffused his sensitive art through the Marca
and Lombardy.


  FIG. 281. Lorenzo Lotto. The Marriage Yoke.—_Madrid._


  FIG. 282. Moretto of Brescia. Madonna with St. Nicholas.—_Brescia._


  FIG. 283. Correggio. Detail of Ceiling.—_Convent of S. Paolo, Parma._

It is significantly the provincial painters and not the born Venetians
who indulge these quite feminine refinements of sensibility. Such a one
is Moretto of Brescia, born in 1498 and active until 1555. Although
closely in touch with Palma and Titian, he avoids their positive color
and dreams his pictures in delicate harmonies of silver and blue. There
is a morning coolness about them which anticipates certain perfections
of early Velasquez and even of the figure painting of Corot. He is a
distinguished spirit but an anomaly in the age of Aretino. Milton would
have understood him. In portraiture, as in the richly clad nobleman of
the National Gallery, he forces the note of picturesqueness to
restlessness. In such religious pictures as the Madonna in Glory,
(1540), in San Giorgio Maggiore, at Verona, or in the Madonna with St.
Nicholas, at Brescia, (1539), Figure 282, he shows an ecstatic lyrical
feeling, and finds the free and florid compositional forms to express
it. It has an informality which Titian would never have permitted
himself at this moment.


  FIG. 284. Correggio. St. Augustine. Fresco. Toschi’s Copy.—_Cathedral,

Of course the greatest of those who in the name of sentiment undermined
the grand style was Antonio Correggio,[83] a provincial painter, a
disappointed and unsuccessful man, who lived out his less than fifty
short years (1489?–1534) in or near Parma. His ideas he took from
Mantegna, master of all Northern Italy, whose illusionism he carried a
point further. He made in 1518 for the ceiling of the reception room of
the Convent of San Paolo, Figure 283, a trellis through the verdurous
ovals of which one sees pairs of nude boy geniuses at play. He paints
away the domes of the Church of San Giovanni (1524) and of the Cathedral
(1530), shows us Christ or His Mother soaring into the clouds with hosts
of accompanying angels. He brings the clouds down through the painted
wall and sets them before the pendentives. Church Doctors, Figure 284,
or Evangelists ride their cloud-thrones easily in the company of the
fairest nude angels of either sex. The painting fairly annuls the
architecture. These decorative frescoes are so vital and so richly
various that they demand admiration and disarm criticism. To walk among
the demi-gods and goddesses that loll on the parapet painted about the
Cathedral dome, Figure 285, is to have known the company of Homer’s
immortals. The impression is over-powering and unforgettable. Cautious
people have always resented such profusion and such unrestrained
assertion of life and joy. At the time they called the dome, with its
confusion of wriggling rosy legs of ascending angels, the “frog pond.”
They cavilled at Correggio’s price and appealed to Titian, who knowing a
miracle of fine workmanship, told them that if they turned the dome over
and filled it with ducats, it would not be too much.


  FIG. 285. Correggio. Detail of fresco decoration of Dome of the
    Cathedral. After Toschi’s Copy.—_Parma._

It was Correggio’s distinction to fill an immense decoration with
lyrical ecstacy. Michelangelo in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel had
done as much in elegiac vein. Both set a destructive example to smaller
men who followed. For two centuries after Correggio’s death in 1534 the
clouds blew into churches, and rosy angelic apparitions cooled their
nude charms in these clouds and dangled their delicate legs therefrom,
and painters worked their will upon mere architecture, and the baroque
style took possession of all Catholic Europe. At its best it is
captivating even to an unwilling Protestant imagination, but it never
regained the height of its beginnings in Correggio.


  FIG. 286. Correggio. “The Day.”—_Parma._


  FIG. 287. Correggio. Marriage of St. Catherine.—_Louvre._

In his religious pieces and mythologies, Correggio is respectful to the
grand style. He had in one way or another taken account of his Titian,
Raphael, and Michelangelo, and he builds his groups in their active
symmetries. But such an allegiance to the decorous style is merely
superficial, his affinities are with the following centuries and the
devotees of sensibility. Even in a grandly composed picture like the
Holy Family called The Day, Figure 286, the women are disquieting in
their personal loveliness. There is no relation to the Parthenon
marbles, as there always seems to be in Titian, no suggestion of a
larger air. These Maries know love, and raptures and tears. In the
somewhat earlier Marriage of St. Catherine, Figure 287, at Paris, the
mood is simply one of great tenderness. In later pictures like the
Madonna with St. George and the Holy Night, at Dresden, the excitement
of all the figures becomes almost unpleasant. So, in the mythologies,
Leda, or Danae, or Antiope, Figure 288, is not goddesslike but
perturbingly feminine and desirable. A most delicate erotic appeal is in
all this work. It is like Alexandrian sculpture. It is still noble, but
less so than Titian or Raphael, less abstract and stylistic. The
exquisite ambiguity of the mood is not quite compatible with the
compositional formulas. One feels it is but a step and a legitimate one
from Correggio to the rare, sentimental nudes of Gainsborough and Sir
Joshua and Romney.


  FIG. 288. Correggio. Jupiter and Antiope.—_Louvre._

In every phase Correggio’s work is distinguishable by the most beautiful
handling of color and light and dark. Like Moretto and Lotto he prefers
a blonder scale than the Venetian, and makes his surfaces so many
miracles of ivory, silvery grays and straw yellows, invested with shadow
tenuously modulated, yet of strongest modelling power. He cares nothing
about textures or individually rich passages; it is the whole picture
that counts. The brush sweeps lightly and swiftly, there is no loading
of color, everywhere an exquisite economy and a subtlety that conceals
itself. At all points, technically as well as psychologically, Correggio
deals in overtones. And by that token he is not of the Renaissance, but
is greater or smaller than it, as you may choose to decide. He is more
our contemporary than he is Titian’s.

Meanwhile Titian himself is passing into a subjective phase. In 1545 he
was at Rome. Michelangelo, who offered him unusual courtesies, doubtless
showed him the Sistine ceiling and the recently finished Last Judgment.
Titian, as he writes himself, studied with humble amazement the
“marvellous old stones” that the Roman soil was yielding up to the newly
founded museums.


  FIG. 289. Charles V. at Mühlberg.—_Madrid._

Even before the Roman trip, his style begins to show an old man’s
restless vehemence. The titanic ceiling decorations for the Salute, of
1543 and 1544, Abraham and Isaac, Cain and Abel, David and Goliath,
display at once an almost sensational energy and a lesser regard for the
superficial attractions of color. The rugged designs are hacked out in
bold splotches of light and dark. The method begins to be luministic.
The partial foreshortening of the figures to adjust them to being seen
from below is the decorative compromise which prevails at Venice from
Tintoretto to Tiepolo. The new point of view is easiest studied in
Christ crowned with Thorns, in the Louvre. Titian passes swiftly through
this overtly dramatic stage. The same year, 1548, that saw the Crowning
with Thorns, saw also the equestrian portrait of Charles V, Conqueror,
Figure 289, after the battle of Mühlberg. What is odd about the picture
is the elimination of all military conventions—no battle reek, no
stricken foes, no busy staff. Instead just the pale, inflexible,
thoughtful face of a slight old man, physically frail but firmly seated
on a cantering horse. There is no frank color except the purple scarf
and the gold of armor and horse trappings. Everything is expressed in
marvellous grays and browns which contain hints of all the colors. There
is no linear drawing; edge melts into edge without abrupt contrasts. A
twilight mystery, a veiled quality, adds immensely to the expression of
melancholy and might. The mere spectacle of life has become relatively
uninteresting to Titian. He rather meditates on those creative throes of
the mind which underlie action. His conqueror is a thinker.


  FIG. 290. Titian. The Rape of Europa.—_Mrs. John L. Gardner, Boston._

In Titian’s own portrait, of 1550, at Berlin, the new method is more
strongly announced. The form grows out of a silvery gloom by reason of
hesitating flickers of light which yet have extraordinary modelling
power. In character the work is remarkable. One senses smouldering under
the weathered surfaces of this man of seventy-three the most formidable
capacities for wrath and for passion.

The nudes and mythologies of these final years, the various Danae’s and
the Nymph and Faun at Vienna, the Calisto and Actæon at Bridgewater
House, the Venus and Adonis at Madrid, all show a very different temper
from the early poesies. There is no suggestion of meditative dalliance,
no shy Arcadianism. These are mortals stung and lashed by desire. Love
is not sweet on their lips but bitter and fateful. Even Europa, Figure
290, at Fenway Court, the finest of these later poesies, seems to fill
the sunlight sky and sea with a spasm of erotic expectancy. Passion
becomes cosmic. Strange capacities for tenderness also appear. Compare
the Deposition in the Prado, Figure 291, of 1559, with the masterpiece
of forty years earlier, Figure 273, at the Louvre. The noble domelike
arrangement persists, but within the compositional dome what a change!
The body of the Christ is no longer grandly disposed. It crumples as it
is turned into the tomb. The thing has the unexpectedness of fact. The
canvas is soberly incandescent with half-lit faces which gleam through
the deep grays and browns. Each light is a focus of compassion. Titian
himself, impersonating St. Joseph of Arimathea, supports the Christ.


  FIG. 291. Titian. The Entombment.—_Madrid._


  FIG. 292. Titian. Education of Cupid.—_Borghese, Rome._

In one of the latest poesies, the Education of Cupid, Figure 292, at the
Borghese, Rome, the new method may be studied. The forms are built up of
little and apparently indeterminate touches of russets and grays that
glow from within. The form builds itself out vibratingly. It is no
longer as palpable to the hand as that of the early Titians, but it is
more palpable to the eye and to the mind. Tone has driven out color;
atmospheric envelopment has replaced minute description; the artist
merely creates gradations of light which afford the illusion of bulk. It
is what we call today, rather loosely, impressionism, or, more
accurately, luminism. In the character of these goddesses we have no
longer wistfulness, that ineffable adolescent quality of Titian’s early
poesies, but women fully conscious of their power to give or take away.

His later pictures, The Crowning with Thorns at Munich (1570) and the
Pietà (1576) in the Venice Academy, are nobly tragic in mood. Titian
faces the last great event not as a humanist, but as a humble believer
sorrowing in the suffering of his Lord. Carried off by the plague in
1576, Titian had lived nearly a century, for over seventy years had been
a famous painter. In that long course there is no sign of failure of
power. His dominant mood changes according to his age from the ardent
pastoralism of his early maturity, through the dramatic energy of his
middle age, and the impersonal splendor of his first old age. And when
he had passed the scriptural term, he developed new depths of feeling,
and created to contain them a pulsating realm of light and dark in
twilight. He had begun with the cool preciseness of Giovanni Bellini and
closed with a passionate mystery of expression which foretells
Rembrandt. So far as Venice was concerned, he not merely led its
Renaissance, but was its Renaissance, both in rise and decay. And it is
noteworthy that while Raphael and Michelangelo end in ostentation of
power and decline of feeling, Titian ends in deeper capacities whether
for passion or sympathy, works away from the daylight realities of
humanism towards new depths in natural appearance and new depths in his
own soul.

Around such a man a throng of able painters naturally grew up. The
poorest imitated him, the better took hints from his marvellous practice
and went their own way. Among these was Giambattista Moroni of Bergamo,
born in 1520 and trained under Moretto of Brescia. Mediocre as a
religious painter, he was a portraitist of acutest vision for character.
A provincial, he cared little for the idealizations of the time. In such
a portrait as the Tailor, at London, or the amazing old Abbess in the
Metropolitan Museum, or the Husband and Wife, at Cleveland, or The
Widower, at Dublin, Figure 293, he gives us the very look of people,
even to their uneasiness as they submit to the ordeal of being
portrayed, and withal their intelligence, diligence, and patience.
Titian, when overdriven with portrait commissions, habitually referred
his clients to Moroni, as an abler artist in the specialty. And indeed
Moroni, while lacking Titian’s style, looked harder at his sitters than
Titian ever did. He died in 1572, four years before his generous friend.


  FIG. 293. G-B. Moroni. The Widower.—_Dublin._

The Bassanos, the father Jacopo and his sons Leandro and Francesco, were
too popular to be omitted. Their style is pretty eclectic with something
of late Titian and Tintoretto in it. They treat the old religious
themes, are good portraitists, and carry out on their own initiative a
bucolic sort of painting, with abundant horses, cattle and dogs. So
homely a tradition has its place in breaking down the decorum of the
grand style. The excellent average of the family in their craft may be
judged from Leandro’s Pietà, at Cleveland.

Sometimes over the velvety calm of Venice and the lagoon will roll up a
thunder storm. The radiant color becomes more sombrely rich under the
tossing clouds. Their steely edges break into the lightning flash; domes
and towers for a moment stagger under the lashing of the rain squall.
The storm passes, the leaden clouds show saffron backs against the blue,
the evening is here with double serenity and purity. Such is Jacopo
Tintoretto amid the reflective tranquility, and confident splendors of
Venetian painting—a wind of the spirit, a shattering, yet consoling,
apparition. Tenderness, tragedy, romance, are his realm. Where his
contemporaries dealt in superb averages, he deals in transcendent
exceptions. Thus he has ever been a baffling figure to the critics. For
the febrile Ruskin, he is among the greatest of painters; for the coolly
analytical Kenyon Cox, he is little better than a reckless
sensationalist. Every one, friend or foe of his art, must admit its
Shakespearean richness and variety. He lacks Titian’s Olympian poise,
but is more universal.


  FIG. 294. Tintoretto. Tithonus and Aurora. Tempera color
    sketch.—_British Museum._

Jacopo Robusti,[84] the dyer’s son, was born in Venice in 1518. At
seventeen he was put with Titian. Once passing through the studio Titian
saw on the floor a number of Tintoretto’s sketches. Not trusting himself
to speak, he sent word that the newcomer should never again enter his
studio. An act which contemporary gossip ascribed to jealousy, is rather
to be referred to disgust at Tintoretto’s unbridled vehemence. Whoever
has studied Tintoretto’s tempera sketches, Figure 294, in the British
Museum may realize how Titian felt. The sketches are superb, but Titian
in 1535 was in no way to realize their value. Twenty years later he may
have appreciated them.


  FIG. 295. Tintoretto. Presentation of Virgin in the Temple.—_S. M.
    dell’ Orto._

Driven out by the best master in Venice, Tintoretto was reduced to the
process of self-education, in which he was aided by that brilliant
decorative colorist and ever luckless artist, Andrea Schiavone.
Tintoretto’s earliest work of note is the decoration of his own parish
church of the Orto, which he undertook about the year 1546 for the
costs. The gigantic canvases of the Deluge and Worship of the Golden
Calf in the Choir made his fame, but we see his peculiar quality better
in the Presentation in the Temple, Figure 295. It was finished only a
few years after Titian’s masterpiece in the Scuola della Carità, hence
the contrast between the two works on the same theme is enlightening.
Titian’s picture is fundamentally a spectacle and a ceremony. Everything
goes as arranged and expected. Tintoretto’s picture is a sudden and
thrilling event full of unexpected graces. The little Virgin is well
within the picture, but keeps her prominence through her position
against the sky and even more by reason of the focusing of intense
interest on her by all the persons in the composition. It is a charming
invention that three mothers and their infant daughters on the steps
should share in the glory of her consecration. At the left a prophetic
figure suddenly grasps the import of the moment and sways with wide
stretched arms towards the hope. From him to the head of the steps rises
a pathetic line of cripples and beggars mercifully veiled in half light.
These are witnesses to the human misery that the Virgin through her Son
is to assuage. The unifying principle, apart from the fine linear
design, is the light which floods out of the picture over the
beautifully carved steps. Everything is conceived in depth, while
Titian’s Presentation is relatively on one plane. Golden browns and
yellows of great luminosity are prevailing colors, the crimsons and
blues serving merely as relief and accent. With all its richness of
illustrative content, the thing is a noble decoration.

A little later, perhaps in 1548, Tintoretto did the first of three
canvases for the Scuola Grande di San Marco. It represents the moment
when a Christian slave is about to be brained. The liberating figure of
St. Mark, Figure 296, swoops down, the maul snaps in the executioner’s
hand. With a singular delicacy the entire interest of the bystanders is
concentrated on the helpless white body of the martyr. The suspense is
breathless. Only the old magistrate high at the right has seen the
miraculous breaking of the executioner’s sledge. His gesture carries the
eye to the figure of the downward swooping saint, thus the most
sensational feature is last seen and comes as a climax. Such dramatic
modulations are of the very essence of Tintoretto’s genius. Again,
though the sweeping curves of the linear design are splendidly balanced,
the light is the ultimate harmonizer. It ripples out in an increasing
wave towards the spectator, kindling as it goes the colors of rich
stuffs and the bronzed or pearly roundings of brows, shoulders, throats
and limbs. The carrying of a uniform rhythm of motion through earth and
sky is again Tintoretto’s invention. He uses it here as elsewhere not as
a sprightly device—which was later the baroque attitude—but as a
necessary factor in emotional expression.


  FIG. 296. Tintoretto. Miracle of the Slave.—_Venice._

In 1561 Tintoretto finished the great Marriage at Cana for the Salute.
The picture is tremendously developed in depth, and the Christ is set in
the distance. The foreground figures alone are concerned with the
miracle. Very effective is the contrast of the quiet feasters with those
who are stirred by the marvel. The lighting is consummately fine. There
are passages of extreme loveliness, such as the swaying row of women’s
faces on the right of the table, but the whole thing is far from clear;
illustrative and decorative features are imperfectly harmonized. In this
great scale Tintoretto’s richness and insatiate inventiveness tend to
work against him.

Before considering his colossal labor in the School of St. Roch, we
should note his avowed ideal. It might be read on the walls of his
studio: “The Drawing of Michelangelo and the Coloring of Titian.” In the
studio were casts of Michelangelo’s sculptures brought up at great
expense from Florence and Rome. And to Michelangelo we owe the slender
and alert proportions of Tintoretto’s figures, quite different as they
are from the gravity, almost ponderosity of Titian, Palma, and Paolo
Veronese. The color is based on late Titian, but is more sonorous,
simple, and uncomplicated by minor tones. The brush stroke is unlike
anything earlier—sketchy, impetuous, definitive, working by first
intention. Accordingly the surfaces are much broken, and, to a near
view, lack preciousness. We have neither the fluent enamel of Giorgione
and early Titian, nor yet the muffled richness of Titian’s later manner.
But in the best Tintorettos the touch is infallibly crisp, right and
expressive. To exaggerate these generously avowed influences of the
master who repudiated him and the master he never saw would be easy. As
a matter of fact, Tintoretto is always more the illustrator than either
of his models. If he adopts the grand poses of Michelangelo, he does so
not for abstract beauty, but ever seeks a motive for them. If he chooses
Michelangelo’s slender, athletic proportions, he invests them with
tenderness and enthusiasm. Unlike Titian, he avoids both classical
draperies and rich contemporary costumes, choosing compromise forms of
dress which, without ceasing to be classical, should seem familiar, and
fit for a real world. If he adopts Titian’s coruscating light, he gives
it a special poetry. It does not glow evenly through the picture, but
flashes intermittently, as an accent or accompaniment to emotion.

In 1560 the famous charitable confraternity of St. Roch determined to
decorate their beautiful School. They called Federico Zuccaro, and
Francesco Salviati, who had Roman honors, Tintoretto, and his friends,
Schiavone and Paolo Veronese. The subject in competition was to be a
cartoon of St. Roch in glory for the ceiling of the refectory. When the
day came, Tintoretto unveiled not a cartoon but the finished oval. That
was his drawing, he said; he hoped they would not be offended, but he
knew no other way. The misunderstandings due to this summary procedure
were soon cleared up. Tintoretto became titular painter to the School,
later a member, and worked at the two great halls and ante-rooms for
twenty-eight years.

St. Roch was the Physician Saint who cared for the plague stricken. Thus
the upper hall was pictured with examples of miraculous mercy and
deliverance chosen from the Old Testament. The lower hall was devoted to
the more familiar stories of the life of Christ and of His Mother. Sadly
darkened and neglected, often in impossible light, these pictures baffle
all but the enthusiast. One needs all the vicarious enthusiasm that may
be drawn from a Ruskin to do San Rocco with any thoroughness. Whoever
persists will be rewarded, for while Tintoretto is by no means at his
greatest as a painter in this work, it reveals his inexhaustible
inventiveness, his warmth and tenderness, and power, as no other series
does, whereas it has in the little moonlit landscapes with St. Mary
Magdalen and St. Mary of Egypt faery refinements elsewhere lacking in
the master.

Everybody knows at least the great Calvary, with its sense of cosmic
disaster. Marvellous is the storm which sweeps towards the cross from
behind, superb alike the cluster of faithful friends at the foot of the
cross and the proud riders at the flanks. Hate, love and indifference
mingle in the scene. It gets its profound tragedy on terms of fact, is
free from all mystical sentimentality. What was it like on that awful
evening? is the only question the artist asks himself, and his answer, a
sheer gift of the imagination, transcends all the lyrical sweetness and
measured solemnity of the ritual crucifixions. Humanism and religion
unite for once in this masterpiece.


  FIG. 297. Tintoretto. Christ Tempted by Satan.—_Scuola di S. Rocco._

Among the scores of narratives in the two halls the eye will rest upon
Moses Smiting the Rock, for its majesty; upon the meeting of Mary and
Elizabeth which has the intensity of Giotto’s fresco at neighboring
Padua, with an abandon all its own; upon the Flight into Egypt, with its
idyllic landscape; upon the awful tumult and despair of the Massacre of
the Innocents; upon the pathos of the white-robed Christ, awaiting his
doom from an indifferent proconsul. These occur among many that are
equally memorable. Perhaps the subtle humanism of Tintoretto is best
shown in the Temptation of Christ, Figure 297. Instead of the ignoble
bat-like Satan of the mediæval painters, we have a magnificent
starry-eyed youth, a veritable genius of the pride of life. With
outstretched, generous arms he offers unstinted power and pleasure. The
Christ regards him with tranquil kindness, as one might a splendid
animal fawning too eagerly. For so Christian a man as Tintoretto, it
implies extraordinary sympathy to imagine a Satan in his own way
gloriously sure of his case. In these compositions the method is most
various. But where there are many figures Tintoretto generally avoids
the convention of placing the chief personages on the picture plane. You
look over heads or between bodies to glimpse the Saints or the Blessed
Virgin or Christ. And curiously this procedure does not confuse the eye.
On the contrary these apparently casual but really most thoughtful
arrangements heighten the sense of reality; one feels like a witness,
like one himself on the edges of the throng.

Along with the decoration of San Rocco, Tintoretto undertook frequent
commissions for the Ducal Palace. But the fire of 1577 consumed his
picture of the naval victory at Lepanto, with much else. In the
mythologies of the Anticollegio painted in 1578 we have the loveliest
poesies of the Venetian school. These are the Marriage of Bacchus and
Ariadne, Mercury and the Graces, Minerva expelling Mars and the Forge of
Vulcan. From the point of view both of decoration and sentiment these
are perhaps the finest nudes in painting. They glow with outdoor health,
the firm wholesome bodies sway from sheer joy in motion, or hover
lightly in the limpid air. The noble forms are fixed for us in
transparent shadows, and broad dapplings of light. There is little of
the sheer dreaminess of Giorgione, who yet counts for something in the
work, nor yet of the explicit sensuousness of Titian. These noble
creatures go about our business,—marrying, seeking grace in life,
composing strife, providing munitions should strife arise. Miss
Phillipps is probably right in divining here an allegory of the
greatness of Venice, bride of the Adriatic, protected by her diplomacy,
admired for her arts, yet ever ready in her arsenals. What is better
worth noting is the combination of breadth and delicacy in the finest of
these poesies, The Marriage of Bacchus and Ariadne, Figure 298. The
interlocking of the superb forms in a flowing rhythm or pattern, the
technical miracle of Venus’s easy turn in the air as she offers the ring
and the starry crown, the exquisite alternations of light and half light
others might conceivably have invented. What is proper to Tintoretto and
to him alone is the hesitating hand of Ariadne and her almost resigned
and reluctant acceptance of a new love, being mindful of love once
betrayed. Also the delicacy of Bacchus’s ardent gesture, as knowing
himself to be not only wooer but consoler, is purest Tintoretto. The
picture with its companion pieces is the effulgent afterglow of the
Arcadianism that began with Giorgione. It breathes a charm that has
never since been fully recoverable.


  FIG. 298. Tintoretto. Bacchus and Ariadne.—_Ducal Palace._

While these poesies were in progress, about 1575, Tintoretto painted for
the Church of San Cassiano the most original of his Crucifixions, Figure
299. One looks over the narrow top of Golgotha to a peaceful expanse of
marbled evening sky. The heads and serried pikes of the Roman
legionaries suggest a throng behind the hill. The sharpest note of color
is a banner, and the purple robe just stripped from the Christ. Between
John and Mary and the executioners on the ladder and against the sky the
strangest episode passes. It is the moment when a Pharisee hands up to
the executioner the mocking placard “Jesus of Nazareth King of the
Jews.” With a sudden impulse John points out the act to Mary, to console
her. Christ’s enemies affirm the truth of him. Even in the hour of
defeat and death he is eternally his people’s king. The level light
which ripples softly over the nude forms of Christ and the thieves takes
away all harshness. At San Rocco Tintoretto presented an epic and cosmic
terror. Here he suggests all the intimate and lyrical hopes that have
grown out of the sacrifice on Calvary.


  FIG. 299. Tintoretto. Calvary.—_S. Cassiano._

Like all the Venetians Tintoretto was an admirable portraitist. His
sober and powerful vein is well shown in the Madonna with Three
Magistrates, Figure 300.


  FIG. 300. Tintoretto. Madonna with Three Magistrates.—_Venice._

Among the later altar-pieces none is finer than the Miracle of St. Agnes
in the Orto. It has all of Tintoretto’s sweetness, power and suddenness,
and is nearly in its original condition of color. In 1587, being nearly
seventy years old, he got the commission for his greatest and perhaps
his last picture, the Paradise, in the Hall of the Great Council in the
Ducal Palace. Darkened and dried, it is still to the perceptive observer
a billowing sea of rapturous faces of the blest, obeying in its widening
circles of cloud-borne angels an oceanic rhythm. During the three years
that Tintoretto was painting it, his young daughter and comrade,
Marietta, dressed like a Shakespearean page for greater convenience,
worked and chattered beside him on the scaffolding. She hardly lived to
see the great canvas set on its wall. Tintoretto lived on till 1594, and
then his aged and withered body was carried across the canal from his
palace to his vault in the Orto. Such friends as Schiavone and Paolo
Veronese had gone before him, the old merrymakings and impromptu
concerts in his home had ceased. It was a very tired old man who bid his
sons continue the honorable trade of painting. He had shared nobly the
greatest range of human emotions, and his last artistic vision was of an
ecstatic peace in Paradise.

After Tintoretto, Paolo Veronese[85] seems an anti-climax. His
imagination is very limited. His greatest pictures treat the sole theme
of stately feasts. His soul is that of a very high class society editor.
But no well-advised person looks to Paolo Veronese for soul. One rather
seeks in him judgment and fine painting. Both are at their maximum.

Paolo Caliari was born at Verona in 1528, trained by a half primitive
master, Antonio Badile, and influenced by the energetic compositions of
Brusasorci. Paolo inherited the long Veronese tradition for spectacular
narrative painting with splendid architectural accessories, and he
carries the local tradition to its close and height. He came to Venice
at twenty-seven, a finished and famous artist, bringing with him a novel
sort of color. He avoids the contrasts and keen resonances of the true
Venetians, painting rather in luminous half tones based on gray and
blue. His forms are rich and solid without heavy shadow, and his
canvases have the generally blond and uniform color quality of the
modern out-of-door school.

His preference is for feasts and pageants. We have the spectacle of a
rich and gentle society, dignified in its pleasures and resplendent in
its costume. Gold brocade sets off the pearly skins of the portly and
gracious ladies in his pictures, and their cavaliers are as
magnificently clad in satins, velvets and furs. The feasts are generally
half out of doors in great colonnades, with the light glinting
impartially upon fair throats and faces and upon channeled columns and
sculptured balustrades. Behind, pale cornices and spires swim against a
blue sky.

It was the habit of the wealthy chapters of monks who maintained the
great Venetian churches to paint in their refectories some Scriptural
feast, as a warrant perhaps for their own daily convivialities. Earlier,
the most solemn of all meals, The Last Supper, would have been chosen.
Not so with Veronese and his contemporaries. They chose instead the
Marriage at Cana or the Feast in the House of Simon or of Levi, Figure
301,—splendid events of small or only incidental religious significance,
and treated merely as contemporary banquets.


  FIG. 301. Paolo Veronese. Feast in Levi’s House.—_Venice._

Of the four great feasts painted by Paolo Veronese the Marriage at Cana,
in the Louvre, painted in 1563, is earliest, and most imposing. It
builds up indefinitely from the marble pavement, with tier upon tier of
people, clinging to columns and peering from balconies. One may count no
less than two hundred and fifty heads. It has all the stir of a public
banquet and everywhere the greatest richness of table accessories and
costumes. The theme called for little religious emotion. The miracle
itself is a convivial one. Yet Veronese has made this different from
other feasts by a most complicated system of guiding lines which always
lead the eye to the gentle face of the Christ in the centre. He fairly
dominates all this animation and splendor. In the trio of musicians in
the foreground Veronese has given us a precious hint of the part music
played in the life of all Venetian artists. Paolo himself plays the
viola, Tintoretto the ’cello, and Titian the bass. What is remarkable
about the great canvas is its unity. Bathed in equable cool light, the
eye takes it in at a glance; there is no confusing or distracting
emphasis; the whole thing is nobly tranquillizing.

In 1569 Veronese was in Rome. We may possibly see some slight influence
of Michelangelo in the frescoes of the Villa Barbaro, at Maser. These
contain the only nudes of Veronese that have a real athleticism, and the
whole decoration has a more positive and sprightly spirit than is usual
in Veronese’s placid style. Working in a country house for liberal and
congenial patrons, Daniele Barbaro was himself an architect of merit,
Veronese sheds something of that professional dignity which is sometimes
excessive in his official work.


  FIG. 302. Paolo Veronese. Marriage of St. Catherine.—_Santa Caterina._

Among his numerous altar-pieces, the Marriage of St. Catherine, Figure
302, in the Venetian Church of that name is perhaps the most gracious.
The women are adorable—hothouse flowers, incredible for poise, hue and
delicate surface bloom. They are not very personal, their charm is a
social one. But they are very gentle, reasonably unconscious of their
own beauty, and quite unforgettably lovely. It took a wonderful eye to
see them at once so simple and so regal.

In the last twelve years of his life, Veronese was constantly employed
in the Ducal Palace and the adjoining public buildings. He employed
assistants freely, and the work affords difficult critical problems. The
work is uneven. In mythology he belies the hopes based on the frescoes
at Maser, where it seemed as if he too might attain the Olympian mood.
It is sadly lacking in the hoydenish group that enacts Europa and the
Bull, Figure 303, in the Ducal Palace. Why are these heavy Venetian
lasses risking their skins and skirts and shins near the seaside and a
bull? The flat prose of the feeling, or rather the absence of any real
feeling, makes one forget the splendor of the painting. Such also is the
effect of the superbly painted Venus and Mars, at New York, and of most
of the mythologies. We have to do with sheer prose and not very sincere
prose at that.


  FIG. 303. Paolo Veronese. Rape of Europa.—_Ducal Palace._

When, however, the theme can be drawn from everyday Venice, Veronese is
overpoweringly fine. Again and again in looking at the ceilings of the
Ducal Palace one catches his breath before such visions of magnificence
as Venice as Justice, Figure 304, Venice as Queen of the World. For all
its contemporary quality, it attains a strange other-worldliness. It is
as if some one had looked at superb Venice through a magnifying glass
that ennobled the forms and greatly enhanced the colors. You feel how
Veronese loved it all and how little he cared for anything beyond the
splendor, dignity and prosperity of his adoptive city. He gives us the
look of Venice at her climax of Renaissance glory, as Carpaccio had
given the dying radiance of her mediæval estate. From the point of view
of judgment, style and fine craftsmanship, it is impossible to
overpraise Veronese. He should be regarded rather as a great painter in
the narrower sense than a supreme artist. When he died in 1588, only
fifty years old, he left a very enduring inheritance.


  FIG. 304. Paolo Veronese. Venice attended by Force and Justice.
    Ceiling Panel.—_Ducal Palace._

It was on the whole his moderate and judicious sumptuousness that
inspired the painters of the next century. It was well that they sought
his imitable merits and not the passion of Titian and Tintoretto. It was
largely thanks to Veronese that Venetian art suffered no such sharp
decline as befell that of Florence and Rome. The decorative tradition of
Veronese sufficed to nourish a Piazetta and a Tiepolo a century and a
half after his death.


  FIG. 305. G-B. Tiepolo. Time revealing Truth.—_Villa Biron, Vicenza._

For Giovanni Battista Tiepolo[86] (1695–1770) in sheer force and
fertility yields to none of his Renaissance predecessors. There never
was a more valiant draughtsman or a more splendid colorist. Such
decorations as those of the Scuola del Carmine, and the Labia Palace
fall little behind Veronese’s pageantry in grandeur while representing
an audacity of stroke and coloration which Veronese lacked. So the
tragic scenes of Christ’s Passion at San Luigi have the intensity of
Tintoretto if lacking something of his nobility. In the ceiling
decorations of Tiepolo, Figure 305, we see the freest fancies of the
Baroque, its customary tumult of shimmering clouds and hovering pearly
figures, repeated with a lightness and audacity and withal measure which
the Baroque itself never attained save in its great initiator Correggio.
Such powers as Tiepolo’s soon won him international patronage. He
painted in Austria and died at Madrid. With him perishes the grandeur of
the Venetian school. Only a tinge of masquerade and exhibitionism puts
him lower than his constant exemplar, Paolo Veronese.


  FIG. 306. Antonio Canale. Island of San Michele.—_Royal Collections,

Indeed the simplicity which is the most enduring charm of any art is
more felt in the minor Venetians of Tiepolo’s time, as in Antonio
Canale, called Canaletto, Figure 306, who painted the irradiated
panorama of the Venetian lagoon and canals with the ardent precision of
a reborn Gentile Bellini. Francesco Guardi[87] (1712–1765), Canaletto’s
pupil, with a freer brush and fancy paints the spectacle of Venice,
Figure 307, its balls and promenades and water pageants, with the
sensitiveness of a Carpaccio. But Carpaccio’s youthful world is no
longer there to paint. Romance has given way to casual amorous intrigue,
sentiment to show. But out of the welter of sophisticated gayety still
rise clean against the heavens the pale domes and bell towers of an
older and finer Venice. Guardi is perhaps at his best in the numerous
tiny oil sketches which deal with the remote and solitary groves and
ruins of the lagoon. Here we have felicities of broken color and
niceties of observation, accurate notations of evanescent effects of
light, which can still give lessons to the most modern landscapists.


  FIG. 307. Francesco Guardi. Scuola di San Marco. Pen and Wash
    Drawing.—_Lamperti Coll., Milan._

In Pietro Longhi (1702–1762) Venice developed a sympathetic chronicler
of her social pleasures, Figure 308. The world of his delicate and witty
little canvases is that of the card party, the formal call, the vanity
and ceremony of philandering, the shop, the musicale, the masked ball.
Only Holland has given so true and sympathetic a record of her smaller
affairs, and at the moment, only Hogarth in England and Chardin in
France were doing the thing with equal ability.


  FIG. 308. Pietro Longhi. Maskers at the Zoo.—_London._

Nothing better shows the slightly anachronistic quality of Tiepolo’s
grandeur than a fine Longhi. The Venetian imagination had moved indoors,
so to speak, had foregone in favor of individual gratifications the old
vision of the collective splendor. Venice no longer dines grandly in the
open with Veronese, she coquettishly sips coffee with Longhi. If she had
declined in nobility, she had at least kept her sincerity and taste. Her
affair had ever been rather with appearances than with ideals or
interpretations. But since the Greeks no other nation had considered
appearances with such noble candor. She kept to the end the good
pictorial habit of letting appearances explain themselves. Thus if a
Titian will stand beside a Pheidian marble, so will a Tiepolo beside an
Alexandrian masterpiece, while a trim belle of Pietro Longhi need feel
no confusion before a Tanagra figurine. Time passes gently over a city
whose artistic aims are as limited as her taste is sure. Venice had ever
been gracious in her grandeur, and gracious she remained even after she
had ceased to be grand.



Titian’s contemporaries were fully aware that the Assumption (1518)
marked the beginning of the Grand Style at Venice and that the change
was revolutionary. The critic Lodovico Dolce writes in his _Dialogo
della Pittura_, Florence, 1735, p. 286 f. putting the words into the
mouth of Aretino:

  “After not much time [after the Fondaco frescoes, 1508] he was given
  to paint a great panel for the high altar of the Friars Minor; where
  Titian, still young, painted in oils the Virgin, who rises to heaven
  among many angels who accompany her, and above her he figured a God
  Father flanked by two angels. It seems really as if she rises with a
  face full of humility, and her robes fly lightly. At the bottom are
  the disciples who with various attitudes manifest joy and amazement,
  and are mostly larger than life, and assuredly in that picture is
  contained the grandeur and terribleness of Michelangelo, the
  pleasingness and grace of Raphael, with the coloring proper to nature,
  and, moreover, this was the first public work which he made in oils;
  and he made it in very little time, and young.”

  “Thereupon the stupid painters and the vulgar herd who up to then had
  seen nothing but the cold and dead things of Giovanni Bellini, of
  Gentile, and of [Alvise] Vivarini (since Giorgione, working in oils,
  had not yet had any public work; and for the most part made no other
  works than half figures and portraits) which were without movement and
  without relief, spake great ill of that picture. Afterwards, as envy
  cooled, and opening their eyes a little to the truth, the people began
  to be amazed at the new manner discovered in Venice by Titian: and all
  the painters from then on strove to imitate it; but being off their
  own path, became confused. And surely it must seem a miracle that
  Titian, without having at that time seen the antiquities of Rome,
  which were the light of all the good painters, solely with that little
  spark, which he had discovered in the works of Giorgione, saw and
  perceived the idea of perfect painting.”

The general critical justness of this statement must condone its
abundant overstatements and errors of fact.


“Aurelio Luini has excellently understood this art [of landscape] to
whom it once happened that visiting Titian, and asking him his opinion
about the background of trees, besides many reasons which he heard from
him about making the foliage sparkle against the background, he saw one
of his [Titian’s] wonderful landscapes which he had at home, which,
having seen quietly, Aurelio thought a daubed up thing, but afterwards,
having withdrawn to a distance, it seemed to him that the sun shone
resplendently in it, making the paths retreat on this side and that; so
that Aurelio had to say that he had never seen a rarer thing in the
world in the way of landscapes.”

                            Lomazzo, _Trattato_, Milan, 1584, p. 474, 5.


The Renaissance idea that Nature must be ennobled and corrected by the
Antique is plainly formulated by Dolce, again under the name of Aretino,
_Dialogo_, p. 190.

  “One should then choose the most perfect form, imitating nature in
  part.... And partly one should imitate the beautiful marble and bronze
  figures of the ancient masters. Whereof who so shall taste and possess
  fully the marvellous perfection, will be able with certainty to
  correct many defects of nature, and make his pictures noteworthy and
  grateful to all. Inasmuch as the ancient things contain the entire
  perfection of art, and can be the exemplars of all beauty.”

This is one of the earliest full statements of the notion of _belle
nature_, and of the antique as normative. The dogma persists with
unabated rigor down to Sir Joshua Reynolds (see Illustration to Chapter
VI, p. 316) and Jacques Louis David.


“The revival of the Greek Language and Greek Literature raised the long
ebb into a wave that swept over civilized Europe. On its glittering
crest the Venetian painters especially were lifted into the society of
gods, goddesses, nymphs, and satyrs. They might see sky, sea and earth
peopled with radiant beings; perhaps with a sort of semi-belief such as
we accord to the Lorelei and fairies, creations that somehow easily
worked in with creeds and experience. Anyhow, they might see Pan come
dallying down the sparkling brook-side, now shouting to the laughing
brown nymphs rustling through the reeds, and pretending to be afraid,
now scattering a shower of notes from his pipes that would fall upon the
ears as the brightness of the iris over a fountain falls upon the

“It may seem strange if I place the Venetian school and Titian, with his
liberal line—which, however, is by no means wanting in reticence—in
closer relationship with Greek art of the great period than the more
classical schools of Tuscany and Rome. Supposing one were to endeavor to
paint a restoration of the pediments of the Parthenon, it would be
possible to interpolate with figures by Titian, never with any by
Poussin, or, I think, even by Raphael or Michael Angelo.”...

“In spite of extravagant and even absurd defects (for the great artist’s
eyes no longer served him faithfully), when Titian, towards the end of
his life painted the ‘Europa’ ... the muse who inspired Pheidias laid
her hand on the old man’s shoulder, and she inspired the wealth of
volume, ease of line, and glowing sense of nature’s exuberance.”

_George Frederick Watts, his Life and Writings_, London and New York,
Vol. III., pp. 251, 253, 254.


  FIG. 309. Caravaggio. Death of the Virgin.—_Louvre._

                               CHAPTER IX
                       THE REALISTS AND ECLECTICS

  The Confusion following Raphael and Michelangelo—Giulio
      Romano—Caravaggio and realistic Revolt—Salvator Rosa, romantic
      Individualism and the Picturesque—The Carracci and the Eclectic
      Ideal—Later Eclectics; Guido Reni—Domenichino—The Waning of
      Italian Greatness—Influence of Italy on the Schools of France,
      Flanders, and Spain.

Italian painting suddenly declined for lack of taste. The followers of
Raphael and Michelangelo possessed astonishing power and knowledge, but,
save their own cleverness, no longer had anything to express. Thus
painting became merely an art of self-exploitation and display, a matter
of difficult foreshortenings, complicated groupings, and novel
constructions in light and shade. Such at least was the case at Rome,
and partly at Florence. At Venice, Milan, Cremona, Ferrara, and
generally in the North the decline was gradual and benign. Sincere art
of a minor character was still produced. But in the artistic centre the
collapse was complete, and all the more disastrous that nobody realized
that a collapse had come.

It is staggering to find that Vasari, in the face of merited ridicule,
had no doubt that he was a great painter. How he boasts of his own
powers! “But what matters most for this art, is that they have made it
so perfect today, and so easy for him who possesses design, that where
formerly a picture was made by one of our masters in six years, today
our masters make six in one. And I am the credible witness of this both
by my observation and by my work. And many more perfect and finished
pictures are now seen, than formerly were made by the important
masters.” (Vol. IV, p. 13.) Nothing is more appalling than to find
Vasari at Florence and Lomazzo at Milan regularly naming Giulio Romano,
Polidoro and Maturino along with Raphael and Michelangelo. Evidently the
old sure taste of the Renaissance has yielded to confusion.


  FIG. 310. Giulio Romano. Battle for Troy. Fresco.—_Palazzo del Tè.

Indeed patronage had changed. It is no longer spontaneous but organized.
We now have academies, art schools, art criticism, exhibitions,
archæologists, picture dealers. Art no longer rests on generally
accepted ideas and broad approbations, but is a game between experts.

To enumerate the followers of Michelangelo and Raphael and allot to each
his due dispraise would be in no way profitable. Giulio Romano may
represent them all. With extraordinary powers as a draughtsman of the
figure, and with paradoxical taste in minor decoration, we know him
already as the vulgarizer of Raphael’s designs in the Stanza of
Heliodorus and of the Burning City. Later (1524–46) removed from
Raphael’s influence, at Mantua, he develops a coarse titanism. The old
Castello of the Gonzagas and the Palazzo del Tè, Figure 310, are
tediously full of sensational and occasionally obscene mythologies which
are done with amazing energy and facility, but are as restless and
undecorative in design as they are hot and foxy in color. And the
immoderations and indecencies have not even the excuse of naturalness,
they are coldly calculated and studied. Such talented Florentine
imitators of Michelangelo as Pontormo and Bronzino we have already
considered. At Rome, he left at least one disciple of talent, Daniele da
Volterra, in the composition of whose masterpiece the Deposition in the
Convent of the Trinità, at Rome, the master himself may have had a hand.
Rather than delay over these complacent epigones we do well to pass to
those few more intelligent artists who saw that something was amiss.

Michelangelo Amerighi, (1569–1608), called from his Lombard birthplace
Caravaggio, and Annibale Carracci of Bologna are here the outstanding
names. The former bitterly fought the grand style in the name of
naturalism, the latter attempted to reintegrate it through a critical
eclectism. Their influence is dominant from the last decade of the
sixteenth century.

Caravaggio[88] had carefully studied the impressionistic manner of late
Titian but finally adopts a harsh and resolute chiaroscuro with the
light restricted and the canvas mostly black. Thus his modelling is both
brutal and academic. His real fight was with the nobility of Raphael.
His saints are taken from the streets and often from the gutters. He
loves character above all, and wants it proletarian. Within his chosen
limitations he is a powerful and sincere artist. His masterpieces are
the Entombment in the Vatican, and the Death of the Virgin in the
Louvre, Figure 309, which created so much disapproval that it had to be
removed from its altar. Both pictures take the theme out of the realm of
legend, making it drastic and contemporary. Both, while rejecting all
grandeur in the figures, preserve the tradition thereof in the
composition. One gets Caravaggio in epitome in The Peter denying his
Lord of the Vatican. Figure 311. It is a powerful character study from
low life. Indeed character is his watchword. One finds it extravagantly
over-emphasized in his famous pothouse and gambling scenes, a
revolutionary innovation. The most famous and one of the best is The
Card Players, at Dresden, Figure 312. It is the symbol of the painter’s
love of low life. He killed his man in a duel, and died himself when
turned out of prison into the August sun.

Before that fitting end he had fled to Naples where amid the corruption
of the Spanish overlordship his proletarian ideals became generally
contagious. They were taken up eagerly by the Valencian, José Ribera,
who with an equal sense for character and a more genuine religious
feeling transmitted the manner to Seville and eventually to Velasquez.
So Caravaggio became the founder of the modern realistic and
impressionistic schools, a precursor of Courbet and Manet. Except for a
surplusage of too emphatic character studies, smiling and weeping
philosophers, Ribera was a true and most skilful artist. Having no
quarrel with an earlier grand style, he had the grace of simplicity.


  FIG. 311. Caravaggio. St. Peter denying his Lord.—_Vatican._


  FIG. 312. Caravaggio. The Card Players.—_Dresden._

Both at Rome and Naples swaggering Caravaggio had enormous success. His
heads, we read, brought more than other men’s compositions. He boasted
himself the greatest painter of all time, and was often believed. From
his swarthy tones his entire school took the name, the Tenebrists. His
experiments in interior and artificial lighting were widely imitated,
and again ultimately passed into recent Impressionism. His rejection of
noble form in favor of what one sees, and of decorative color in favor
of natural, was the sharpest possible challenge of the Renaissance
style, and outside of Italy where the noble tradition was only incipient
did much to arrest its diffusion. From the point of view of modern art
there are few more important figures. From the point of view of art
broadly he has his serious limitations. Most damaging is his waiver of
civilization, he looks at low life not with the eyes of a detached
artist but with those of a ruffian. He did not have the intelligence to
live up to his own formula. Annibale Carracci was once looking at
Caravaggio’s Judith, and, being pressed for an opinion, remarked that it
was “too natural.” He spoke as an admirer of the grand style. A modern
realist would make the far more radical criticism that Caravaggio is
never natural enough. He really makes no close study of the subtleties
of natural appearance or of the actual refinements of illumination, but
rather substitutes for the old stately formulas a new, more ugly, and
less studied formula of his own. Logically he should have gone forward
with Ribera and Velasquez to a real investigation of appearances. But
his logic was only that of scorn, and it would doubtless have somewhat
compensated him for a sordid and premature end, could he have forseen
that his biographers would credit him with the ruin of Italian painting.

Through Ribera, Caravaggio’s influence passes to the Neapolitan,
Salvator[89] Rosa (1615–1673). With greater vivacity and better color
Salvator repeats the character studies and tavern scenes, also bringing
the proletarian mood into mythology. He painted battle pieces of real
ferocity. He was an irascible, vain and capricious person, proud of
being so; a scorner of his own patrons and of the bourgeois generally; a
maker of epigrams, and a writer of satires. His specialty is the
sinister and picturesque, and he practices it with gusto and ability,
Figure 313. Salvator is the real discoverer of the picturesque, the
first enthusiast for the savage aspects of nature. Likewise he was one
of the first artists to study effects—sunsets, storms, mists, and
whirling clouds. He excursioned in the Abruzzo, equally savoring its
crags, torrents, and forests, and its ferocious banditti. His letters on
these wanderings are among the first and most important documents of the
modern cult of nature. He writes: “You have saddened me by giving me the
news of your having been in Garfagna, and having rejoiced in the
savagery of that country so congenial to my nature.... To be merely
reminded of it brings the tears to my eyes.” Again he writes from the
Adriatic Apennines: “I have been two weeks in continual travel and the
trip is much more strange and picturesque than that of Florence, beyond
comparison so, since there is such an extravagant mixture of the rough
and cultivated, of the level and precipitous that nothing more could be
desired for the satisfaction of the eye.”... “At Terni, four miles off
the road I saw the famous falls of the Velino, a thing to haunt and
possess the most insatiable mind because of its horrid beauty. To see a
river that plunges straight down a mountain for half a mile, and sends
up its foam as high!” Much of the stormy and energetic character of such
scenes is transcribed in the best landscapes of Salvator, Figure 314. In
their age they evoked little following. But these forests, cascades,
evening seaports, and ruined sites were freely bought by the English,
greatly admired and had their part in producing the literary enthusiasm
for wild nature in the eighteenth century.


  FIG. 313. Salvator Rosa. Landscape with figures.—_Pitti._

Salvator avows his “extravagant genius,” is driven by the lust for
novelty, is a modern and romantic spirit. Withal he was a man of
capacity and taste with an open-minded understanding of quite alien
merit. “Here, we esteem M. Poussin,” he writes in October, 1665, “more
than any one else in the world.”

Poussin could never have returned the compliment. His approbation was
for Raphael, the Carracci and Domenichino. Indeed a chief glory of the
Bolognese Eclectics was that their critical method sufficed to nurture
so classic a spirit as Poussin’s and so to establish the academic
tradition for Northern Europe.


  FIG. 314. Salvator Rosa. Landscape.—_Pitti._

Though the Eclectic movement is properly associated with the cousins
Lodovico and Annibale Carracci,[90] it somewhat antecedes them. The
impetus comes from Flanders with the painter of Antwerp, Denis Calvert,
who came to Bologna late in the sixteenth century and founded an art
school. Like all the better educated Flemings, he represented a profound
nostalgia for Renaissance grandeur, and also a certain detachment from
the particular Italian artists who had embodied the ideal of
_grandezza_. Such a man is, perforce, an eclectic, studying widely the
methods of his great predecessors and seeking to assimilate in his own
art their various perfections. Besides, methods of comparative study
which had formerly been extremely difficult if not impossible were now
easy. Casts were available of the antique marbles, fairly faithful
engravings were at hand for all the great painters. It is significant
that both the Carracci were reproductive engravers. Denis Calvert was no
genius, but a prudent and sagacious artist who made the most of a
slender endowment. His critical and assimilative spirit passed over to
his best pupils. Their reform, unlike Caravaggio’s, was not
revolutionary, but based on a careful restudy of the grand style, which
they had never wavered in venerating.

Annibale Carracci was reared in devotion to Raphael, whose fine St.
Cecilia was at Bologna. Venice lured him, but he was rebuffed by
Tintoretto. Annibale made profound studies of Correggio at Parma, whence
he writes that Raphael now seems wooden to him in comparison. He is now
launched on the impossible quest of combining with the austere grandeur
of the Roman School, the charm of Venetian coloring and the emotional
instability of Correggio. Thus it was an attempt to restore the grand
style largely in the name of one of its chief disintegrators, and as
such it was from the first headed for failure. Yet it was an attempt
dictated by the times, and the inevitable choice of any superior spirit
who wished to reknit the Renaissance tradition.

It was the moment of the Catholic Reaction and of the endeavor of the
new Jesuit Order to rebuild a shaken Church on the basis of persuasion.
Largely shorn of authority, the Church must now be popular or perish. It
wisely chose to be popular, adopting the thrilling novelties of Baroque
architecture, borrowing from the opera its swelling choral cadences,
everywhere stressing the note of charm, surprise and emotion. So the
moderation and austerity which underlay the Renaissance style were
forbidden to the Eclectics, and they chiefly differed from the rival
Naturalists in choosing to make their sensationalism as decorous as the
circumstances permitted. Such is the social background of the Carracci’s
reform, and they deserve utmost credit for achieving so much under such


  FIG. 315. Lodovico Carracci. Assumption.—_Bologna._


  FIG. 316. Annibale Carracci. Madonna in Glory.—_Bologna._

Agostino (1568–1602) was the brains of the family, courtier, scholar,
man of the world. Annibale (1560–1609) was the nerves,—moody, shy,
solitary, with titan ambitions in a small and unprepossessing frame. His
cousin, Lodovico (1555–1619), was possibly the best artist of the three
if only because he attempted less and followed sentimentalism frankly
without too much bothering about grandeur.

Lodovico, Figure 315, and Annibale, Figure 316, enriched the churches of
Bologna with great animated altar-pieces which enthralled their
contemporaries, and today seem more than a little affected. But that is
merely because we no longer share what was an entirely sincere way of
religious feeling. They started an Academy in which the antique, the
nude, and competitive composition were the staple of instruction quite
as in French and British State art schools today. In the Bolognese
palaces the Carracci did in fresco great mythological series, consulting
Homer, Virgil and Ovid and Apollonius of Rhodes. In the main they had
friezes to do, and they drew heavily from Correggio, tempering his
alacrity with something of the heavier energy of the Roman style.

In 1585 the Carracci set up their Academy. It was soon thronged.
Agostino, a courtly, learned and accomplished person, was the leading
influence, being lecturer as well as drawing master. Even, Annibale,
habitually an offish and difficult man, is said to have been affable and
helpful to his disciples.

In studying his pictures, one feels that he was thwarted of his true
development. Not only was he much of a realist, painting tavern scenes,
Figure 317, after Caravaggio’s lead, but also a studious and charming
landscape painter, Figure 318. His soberly colored and gracefully
composed landscapes were an important influence on Poussin. Annibale’s
adventures in the grand style, though audacious and loudly applauded,
really did some violence to his modest and sensitive spirit. His was the
least academic temperament imaginable, and the final disastrous quarrel
with his eminently academic brother, Agostino, was inevitable.


  FIG. 317. Annibale Carracci. The Bean Eater.—_Prince Colonna, Rome._


  FIG. 318. Annibale Carracci. Flight to Egypt.—_Doria, Rome._


  FIG. 319. Annibale Carracci. Ceiling Detail.—_Farnese Palace, Rome._

Annibale and Agostino were called to Rome in 1595 to fresco Cardinal
Odoardo Farnese’s palace. Annibale was thirty-five years old, Agostino a
few years younger. Both had reaped all honors possible at Bologna, and
they came to the Eternal City at a fortunate moment. The favorite
decorators were men of routine talent, Taddeo Zuccaro and the Cavaliere
d’Arpino. Caravaggio’s amazing and perturbing genius had already
asserted itself, but he was not a mural painter. After a preliminary
series of mythologies in the riverside casino of the Palazzo Farnese,
Annibale turned, in 1597, to the decoration of the great hall. It was a
lofty tunnel-like room of refractory proportions. The theme was to be
the loves of the gods. But the great spaces in which are represented
Bacchus and Ariadne, the Judgment of Paris, Polyphemus and Galatea,
Cephalus and Aurora, Hero and Leander, amongst other subjects, yield in
effect to the general plan and the incidental decoration. Annibale, who
despite contemporary accounts to the contrary, controlled everything,
has taken as his motive the architectural framework which Michelangelo
designed for the Sistine, with its burden of decorative nudes. One looks
past heavy painted cornices, Figure 319, to painted statuary in
profusion, thickly set, and, behind, more nudes in natural hues, the
whole echoed by nudes in stucco relief on the walls. We have instead of
the relative flatness of Michelangelo and his predecessors a consistent
lumpiness, which, while theoretically tasteless, is actually rich,
satisfying, and even light. Only an extraordinary ability could have
kept any kind of unity in this wilful and extravagant complexity, Figure
320. But unity there is and coherent expression of a mood at once
pompous and festal.


  FIG. 320. Annibale Carracci and Helpers. Grand Hall, Farnese

The pictures, as we have noted, seem to count for less than their
borders. When we examine the love scenes, we find them at once coarse
and mannered. They are superficially like Giulio Romano at Mantua but
without his self-satisfied brutality. To this extent they are inferior,
and indeed the strain to be at once grand, graceful, and passionate is
only too apparent throughout the pictorial part. Yet as a whole the
decoration seems hardly inferior in power, ingenuity, and rhythmical
fulness to such ancient masterpieces of kindred inspiration as the
Pergamon frieze. For the moment the decoration was enthusiastically
acclaimed, after three-quarters of a century it taught Charles Le Brun
the way to decorate the Louvre and the Palace at Versailles, and even
today the admirer of the fountains of Rome and of her Baroque churches
must admit that Annibale caught the very spirit of his day, in its
superfluity of learned vaingloriousness and shortage of the simpler and
more noble passions.


  FIG. 321. Guido Reni. Madonna with two Saints.

For the artist the work brought only chagrin. The Cardinal treated him
with stinginess and personal spite. His irritation with his brother
reached the explosive point. Agostino left him staggering under the
weight of an ungrateful task, he fell into a dangerous melancholy, and
in 1609 died miserably, leaving his helpers Albani and Domenichino to
finish the gallery.

Of the followers of the Carracci, Guido Reni[91] (1575–1642) and
Domenichino (1581–1641), are the most important. At his worst Guido Reni
is the most repellant of sentimentalists, at his best a realist of the
calibre of Ribera himself. In his time there are no grander old men than
his, better painted or more fully realized as characters. You find them
at their best in the Madonna of St. Paul, at Berlin, or the Immaculate
Conception at Petrograd, or the Madonna with St. Jerome, in the Vatican,
Figure 321. It is hard to reconcile them with his sleek and cheaply
seductive Magdalens, Cleopatras and Venuses. What steadies him in his
inconsistency is a fine and simple sense of composition. He is lucid
where his masters, the Carracci, tend to be confused. His taste is more
coherent than his character. Under other conditions than those of
academic Bologna and Papal Rome he might easily have become a realist of
Zurbaran’s type. As it was, he undertook the usual synthesis of the
grand style with the new sentimentality. Generally speaking he is
neither grand nor sentimental enough, but superficial in both regards.
Yet his discretion saves him in such works as the ceiling of the Villa
Rospigliosi (1615) and the supremely elegant St. Michael, Figure 323, of
the Cappucini. I like the Aurora, Figure 322, nay love it well this side
of idolatry, for the same reason that I like Kipling’s lines

                  “An’ the dawn comes up like thunder
                  Outer China ’crost the bay.”

Both the fresco and the verses have the same pounding and obvious, yet
thrilling cadences, both bring lyricism to the brink of bombast without
letting it go over.


  FIG. 322. Guido Reni. Aurora. Ceiling Fresco.—_Casino Rospigliosi,


  FIG. 323. Guido Reni. Saint Michael.—_Cappucini, Rome._


  FIG. 324. Domenichino. Last Communion of St. Jerome.—_Vatican._

Domenico Zampieri, called Domenichino,[92] (1581–1641) is a far more
serious figure. We see him best not in the sentimental sibyls which he
multiplied nor even in the studied emotionalism of his most famous
altar-piece, the Last Communion of St. Jerome, in the Vatican, Figure
324, but, rather in such decorations as those in S. Andrea della Valle,
and in the monastic church of Grotta Ferrata. Here we find a heavy and
simple emphasis, a great clarity both of figure construction and of
composition. For his personal awkwardness, patience and quietism his
comrades mockingly called him the Ox. It took character to play the ox
amid the febrile sprightliness of the Catholic Reaction. His gravity is
marked also in his color. He forsakes the old decorative conventions of
the Renaissance and works in olive and silvery tones which suggest in a
generalizing way the coolness and freshness of nature. Above all he is
not facile like most of his contemporaries, but studious, dilatory, and
considerate. At times he yields to the prevailing sentimentality, but
usually he is both spontaneous and reticent. He seldom insists, but
candidly lets the picture be seen. All these qualities appear in the
modestly hoydenish masterpiece, Diana and her Nymphs, in the Borghese
Gallery, Figure 325. It is completely captivating for its element of
surprise, its manly wholesomeness, its winsome setting of lithe girlish
bodies amid verdure under a gray sky. This unaffected mood in mythology
has rarely been recaptured. We have it in Vermeer’s little Diana at the
Hague and, only yesterday, in the Nausicaa of Lucien Simon. Such
qualities of lucidity, reserve, and simple nobility made Domenichino the
natural model for Nicholas Poussin. We can trace the influence through
Poussin’s masterpieces, and had France been wise enough to understand
her greatest painter, her academic tradition, which was promoted in
Poussin’s name, might have taken a much more fruitful course than it
actually did.


  FIG. 325. Domenichino. Diana and her Nymphs.—_Borghese, Rome._

An ill fate finally took Domenichino to Naples. There he found the
ruffianly local painters banded against every foreigner, and in
particular he met the systematic animosity of the truculent Spaniard,
Ribera. Outright terrorism alternated with petty persecution. They
defaced his work and tampered with his materials. Soon they broke his
delicate and timid spirit, even turned him against the wife with whom he
had lived on terms of ideal affection. Today it remains uncertain
whether he died of shattered nerves or was actually poisoned. Presumably
the barbarous Neapolitans would have done about the same to any visiting
artist, but doubtless they turned the screw a shade harder upon a gentle
idealist who brought into their realistic stews some afterglow of the
quietistic dignity of a Montagna or a Cima.

When all reservations are made, the Eclectics had fairly done their work
of correcting the disorder of the late Renaissance and of restoring
something of the old decorum. They made possible the revival of the
grand style at Rome, in the eighteenth century, by Carlo Maratta and
Raphael Mengs. The Eclectics were the bridge by which the classical
manner passed over into Western Europe, an indispensable link in the
chain of the great hellenistic tradition. That should be enough to keep
them in memory if not in unqualified honor.

Our review of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth, century in Italy
will have served its purpose if it has convinced the reader that this
was no time of stagnation. We have rather to do with activities of
exploration and reconstruction which are much too restless and various.
The intellectual power of the Italian painters had not greatly
diminished in comparison with the Renaissance. Italy still was capable
of giving the leads which have guided painting elsewhere ever since.
What was lacking was not energy but patience, reflection and taste. The
Italian artist tended to regard himself as a swift and resolute
executant first of all, and no longer knew how to nourish his spirit as
a man. Even as executants, the realists and eclectics had the
humiliation of finding themselves outdone by foreigners. Successively in
the seventeenth century Ribera, Rubens, Van Dyck, Velasquez, Claude
Lorrain and Poussin came to Italy and sojourned there. It was in every
case apparent that the foreigner excelled all native artists in his
field. The traditional authority of Italian painting still held, but its
contemporary glory was evidently waning.

But even in decline Italy was strong enough to hand on her torch to
newer hands. From Titian stems the florid classicism and aristocratic
portraiture of Rubens and Van Dyck, which dominated the whole eighteenth
century in France and England; through Caravaggio and Ribera, Italy made
Velasquez the founder of those most characteristic nineteenth century
movements, realism and impressionism; through Raphael, the Carracci and
Domenichino, she fed the white flame of Poussin’s classicism, which in
one way or another has determined the academic development of all
Western Europe. Thus Italian painting, eternally alive in the timeless
region where dwells the fame of Giotto, Masaccio, Leonardo, Giorgione,
Raphael, Michelangelo, Titian, is as well most practically and actually
alive in the recent and present struggles, failures, and triumphs of our
modern schools. Without understanding Italian painting we cannot
understand our own painting. And while the modern world will hardly
return to the coherence, solidity, and grace of the great Gothic and
Renaissance masters, I am confident that there can be no exit from our
present confusion and incoherence until our painters learn at least to
consult those great Italian predecessors who dwelt on the heights above
which is the abode of the human spirit’s creative rest.

                      ILLUSTRATIONS FOR CHAPTER IX

                         ON THE ECLECTIC IDEAL

The nearly contemporary account of Carlo Cesare Malvasia, _Felsina
Pittrice_, Bologna, 1841, Tom. I. p. 263 is instructive.

  “Lodovico ... was the first who supplied a firm prop to tottering
  painting and was able to save it from imminent harm and ruin. He was
  the one who courageously opposed that vainglorious time, which
  succeeded the most perfect age, and liberating it from the common ills
  of those erroneous mannerisms which dared to tyrannize that fair
  profession that had been raised so high, not only wished to restore it
  to its first vigor, but also to a state still more perfect and
  sublime.... Taking the best from all the best artists, one sees him,
  with a facility no longer used and valued, form from them a brief
  compendium, rather a precious extract, outside of and beyond which
  little more remained for the studious to desire. And coupling and
  uniting with the discretion of Raphael the intelligence of
  Michelangelo, and adding withal with the color of Titian the angelic
  purity of Correggio, he succeeded in forming from all these manners a
  single one, which had nothing to envy in the Roman, Florentine,
  Venetian and Lombard manners.”

A Sonnet supposed, without complete evidence, to have been addressed by
Annibale Carracci to the painter Niccolò d’Abate gives an even more
complete and correct account of the elements that blended in the style
of the Carracci. I quote it from Rouchès, _La Peinture Bolonaise_,
Paris, 1913, p. 123, note 1.

            “To make a good painter let him have
            At ready and eager hand the drawing of Rome,
            The movement with the shading of Venice,
            And the dignified coloring of Lombardy.
            The terrible manner of Michelangelo
            And Correggio’s pure and sovereign style
            And the true symmetry of Raphael,
            Tibaldi’s decorum and substance,
            The inventiveness of learned Primaticcio
            And a little of Parmigianino’s grace.
            Not without having strenuously made such studies
            Let him place before himself for imitation
            The works which our Niccolò has left here.”

                                THE END


                               CHAPTER I.

Footnote 1:

  For the altar as tomb-shrine see Yrjö Hirn’s learned and fascinating
  book, _The Sacred Shrine_, London, 1912.

Footnote 2:

  For the Byzantine pictorial style see the excellent summary in _Fogg
  Art Museum, Collection of Mediaeval and Renaissance Paintings_,
  Harvard Univ. Press, 1919, pp. 3–10; also a more extended treatment in
  O. M. Dalton _Byzantine Art and Archaeology_, Oxford, 1911, chapters
  V, VI, VII.

Footnote 3:

  For the influence of St. Dominic, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Francis
  read the respective chapters in Taylor, _The Mediaeval Mind_; for St.
  Francis, Thomas Okey’s translation, _The little Flowers of St.
  Francis_ in “Everyman’s Library.” E. Gebhart, _Italie Mystique_,
  Paris, 1908, is also enlightening.

Footnote 4:

  _Burlington Magazine_, Vol. XXXII (1918) pp. 45–6. Mr. Berenson in
  _Rassegna d’Arte, “Dedalo,”_ Vol. II., (1921) fasc. V, makes this
  superb Madonna a Constantinople picture of the late 12th century. His
  confessedly slight argument fails to convince me. Aside from the air
  of the picture, the form of the wooden throne is specific for Tuscany
  and the second half of the 13th century.

  _Cimabue._ Andreas Aubert, _Cimabue Frage_, Leipzig, 1907, is the
  standard work. The various views on the early frescoes of the Upper
  Church at Assisi are well summarized in Brown and Rankin, _A Short
  History_, pp. 54 and 57–59.

  An unsuccessful attempt to reduce Cimabue to a myth has been made by
  Langton Douglas in his edition of _C. &. C._, Vol. I., p. 187–193. The
  constructive and accepted view is that of Aubert. My list differs
  slightly from his and is:

  Louvre Madonna, about 1275, Louvre.

  Trinità Madonna, about 1285, Uffizi.

  The frescoes of the Choir and transepts of S. Francesco at Assisi,
  saving possibly the big Ascent to the Cross, circa 1296, Assisi.

  Madonna with St. Francis (fresco), after 1290, Assisi, Lower Church of
  San Francesco.

  St. John in mosaic in the Apse of the Cathedral at Pisa, 1301.

  Venturi’s endeavor to attach to Cimabue some of the later New
  Testament mosaics in the vault of the Florentine Baptistry, see
  _Storia_, Vol. V., p. 229—is plausible but not convincing. His
  attribution of lost frescoes in the portico of old St. Peter’s, known
  from sketch copies, _Storia_, Vol. V, p. 195—has no solid basis. Two
  fresco fragments, heads of Peter and Paul, remain, and are published
  by Wilpert, _Die Mosaiken &_, bd. I, fig. 144, and by him correctly
  assigned to Cavallini or some Roman follower.

  R. van Marle, in _La Peinture Romaine_, Strasbourg, 1921, has made a
  most careful study of all the earliest frescoes in the Upper Church.
  Generally I concur in his conclusions, but cannot see Cavallini in the
  far abler work of the Isaac Master. The date, 1296, which Van Marle
  found in the Choir at Assisi, makes it pretty certain that all the
  frescoes in the Upper Church were executed between 1293–5 and 1300.

  In _Toskanische Maler im XIII Jahrhundert_, Berlin, 1922, Dr. O. Sirén
  makes a comprehensive survey of the earliest painters of Lucca, Pisa,
  and Florence. He endeavors to reconstruct the works of Coppo di
  Marcovaldo whom he regards as a formative influence on Cimabue. To the
  usual list of Cimabue’s works Dr. Sirén adds, with Aubert, a great
  Madonna in the Servi, Bologna; and also a Madonna in the Verzocchi
  Collection, Milan; and an extraordinarily fine crucifixion in the
  d’Hendecourt Collection, London. Dr. Sirén also accepts for Cimabue
  the triptych of Christ, St. Peter and St James, which Berenson first
  published in _Art in America_, for 1920. Of these accretions none but
  the d’Hendecourt Crucifixion is at all persuasive to me.

Footnote 5:

  The latest and fullest discussion of Pietro Cavallini is by Stanley
  Lothrop in _Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome_, Vol. II, 1918. I
  think he is in error in seeing Cavallini at Assisi and Perugia. Van
  Marle, note above, has thrown additional light on the continuity of a
  Roman school.

Footnote 6:

  _C. &. C._ (Ed. Hutton) Vol. I, pp. 194–5. Zimmermann (_Giotto_ &c.,
  Leipzig, 1899), H. Thode (_Franz von Assisi_, Berlin, 1904), and Fr.
  Hermanin (_Gallerie nazionali Italiane_, Vol. V (1902), p. 113)
  ascribe the Stories of Isaac and some other superior frescoes of the
  upper row to youthful Giotto. They seem too accomplished and mature
  for that and are all allied to Gaddo Gaddi’s mosaics at Rome.

Footnote 7:

  _Giotto._ Osvald Sirén, _Giotto and Some of his Followers_, Cambridge,
  Harvard Univ. Press, 1917, in 2 Vols., gives a reasonable chronology
  and is valuable for illustrations.

  Roger E. Fry, _Monthly Review_, Vol. I, pp. 126–151; Vol. II, pp.
  139–157; Vol. III, pp, 96–121 is an admirable critical analysis of
  Giotto’s style, but the ascriptions and chronology are often doubtful.
  Excellent on the frescoes at Sta. Croce. The essay is reprinted in
  _Vision and Design_, London, 1921.

  J. B. Supino’s startling views in the chronology of Giotto, expressed
  in _Giotto_, Florence, 1920, in 3 Vols., seem to me fantastic.

  His general order is the Allegories of the Lower Church and the
  Baroncelli altar-piece about 1300, the Arena frescoes 1305, the St.
  Francis series in the Upper Church about 1310, the Peruzzi Chapel
  about 1312, etc.

  My list would be:

 The Early Part of the St. Francis Series (II-XVIII)   before         1300
 The Mosaic of the Navicella (completely restored)     about          1300
 Stigmatization of St. Francis (Louvre)                  „              „
 The Arena Frescoes                                    about          1305
 The Madonna of Ognissanti                               „              „
 The Franciscan Allegories, Lower Church (design only)   „           1312–20
 The Stefaneschi Altar-piece (in part)                   „    1320, perhaps earlier
 The Peruzzi Chapel, Santa Croce                       after          1320
 The Bardi Chapel,     „   „                           about          1325
 The Dormition of the Virgin, at Berlin                  „            1325
 Madonna, Ancona, Bologna (design only)                  „            1330
 The Paradise in the Bargello                          after          1330
 Part of the Magdalen Legends there                      „              „
 Part of the Magdalen Legends, Lower Church, Assisi      „              „
 Baroncelli Altar-piece (design only)                    „              „
 Small panels of the Life of Christ
 at New York, Fenway Court, Boston;                      „              „
 Munich and Berenson Collection,                         „              „
 Settignano (bottega works)                              „              „

Footnote 8:

  Padre Angelis, _Collis Paradisi_, 1704, I, p. 33.

Footnote 9:

  About the 28 stories of St. Francis there is no agreement except that
  Nos. I and XXVI-VIII are by the “Cecelia Master.” Venturi sees Giotto
  only in the later stories. I agree with Berenson that the ruder
  frescoes, II-XVIII, which are based on the so-called Roman work above
  show us Giotto at his beginnings. For the various views consult Brown
  and Rankin, _A Short History_, pp. 48–9, 59, 61.

Footnote 10:

  Alex. Romdahl’s attempt to set the upper row many years later than the
  rest is entirely unconvincing to me. See _Jahrbuch der K. Preussischen
  Kunstsammlungen_, 1911, pp. 3–18.

Footnote 11:

  John Ruskin, _Mornings in Florence_, _passim_.

Footnote 12:

  _Giotto’s Followers._ Osvald Sirén, _Giotto and Some of his
  Followers_, see note 7, may be freely consulted for illustrations and
  very cautiously for attributions.

Footnote 13:

  Peleo Bacci’s ascription of the recently discovered Passion frescoes
  in the Badia to Buffalmacco seems reasonable, _Bollettino d’ Arte_, V
  (1911) pp. 1–27. Dr. Sirén ascribes these frescoes to Nardo di Cione
  and follows Venturi in identifying Buffalmacco with the “Cecelia
  Master.” _Burlington Magazine_, Vol. XXXVI, p. 10. The hypothesis
  still lacks solid foundation.

Footnote 14:

  By Vasari the Spanish Chapel was divided between Taddeo Gaddi and
  Simone Martini. _C. &. C._ discovered that the work was by an Andrea
  da Firenze who as a document attests painted stories of S. Ranieri at
  Pisa, in 1377. The contract which proves this Andrea to have been
  Andrea Bonaiuti, active 1343–77, was published in _Arte e Storia_,
  Florence, Feb., 1917, p. 33. It gives the date of the contract for the
  Spanish Chapel, 1365.

  The very elaborate decoration of the Spanish Chapel is fully described
  in _C. &. C._ (Hutton) Vol. I., pp. 309–312. There are useful literary
  illustrations in Venturi, _Storia dell’ arte italiana_, Vol. V., pp.
  792–809. Ruskin in _Mornings in Florence_ gives a partial analysis
  which is fascinating from a literary point of view, but badly
  overestimates the merit of the work.

                           CHAPTER II.—SIENA


 Langton Douglas. _A History of Siena._ New York, 1902.
 Ferdinand Schevill. _Siena, the Story of a Mediæval Commune_, New York,
 Edmund G. Gardiner. _The Story of Siena and San Gemignano_, London,
 William Heywood and Lucy Olcott. _Guide to Siena, History and Art_,
    London, 1903.


      Emil Jacobsen. _Sienesische Meister des Trecento in der Gemälde
          Galerie zu Siena_, Strassburg, 1907; _Das Quattrocento in
          Siena_, Strassburg, 1908; _Sodoma und das Cinquecento in
          Siena_, Strassburg, 1910; all very valuable for illustrations.

      Venturi, _Storia dell’ Arte Italiana_, Vols. V and VII.

      Bernard Berenson, _Central Italian Painters of the Renaissance_,
          New York and London, 1909.

      C. Ricci, _Il Palazzo Pubblico di Siena e la Mostra d’Antica Arte
          Senese_, Bergamo, 1904, offers a good and inexpensive survey
          of Sienese handicraft in general.

      catalogues of the Fogg Museum, Harvard; and of the Jarves
      Collection, Yale. Also many special articles in _Art in America_,
      especially the series in Vol. VIII-IX, by F. Mason Perkins, _Some
      Sienese Paintings in American Collections_.

Footnote 15:

  The fact that the Madonna of the Palazzo Pubblico had been much
  repainted in Duccio’s time not unnaturally threw Milanesi and other
  critics off the track. But the date is entirely genuine (see _C. & C._
  [Douglas] Vol. I, p. 162, note 1*; and E. Jacobsen, _Das Trecento_, p.
  18). The latter writes, “The signature and date are genuine. There is
  no tenable ground for doubting them.”

  I have satisfied myself by close inspection that such is the case, and
  the half dozen or so other panels associated with this Madonna
  stylistically all seem to belong to the first half of the 13th

Footnote 16:

  Sirén, _Burlington Magazine_, XXXII (1918) p. 45, ascribes this panel
  to Cavallini. Berenson in _Dedalo_, Vol. II, fasc. v, allots it to
  Constantinople at the end of the 12th century. Neither view is even
  plausible to me.

Footnote 17:

  _Duccio._ A. Lisini, _Notizie di Duccio_ &c. Siena, 1898. Curt
  Weigelt, _Duccio di Buoninsegna_, Leipzig, 1911, the standard
  monograph, well illustrated.

Footnote 18:

  The whole matter of the Rucellai Madonna is well discussed by Douglas
  in his edition of _C. & C._, Vol. I. Appendix to chapter VI. Andreas
  Aubert, _Cimabue_, p. 138 ff., and Curt Weigelt, _Duccio_, both agree
  that the Rucellai Madonna is the picture called for by the contract of
  1285, hence is by Duccio. Aside from many stylistic similarities to
  Duccio’s early Madonna with Franciscans in the Siena Academy, the
  exquisitely drawn bare feet of the Angels in the Rucellai Madonna
  amount almost to a signature for Siena’s greatest painter. H. Thode
  and O. Sirén hold that a picture designed and begun by Duccio was
  finished by Cimabue, _Toskanische Maler_, pp. 308–9, and note 41 to
  latter page. The hypothesis that Duccio was strongly influenced by
  Cimabue in this work seems simpler.

Footnote 19:

  The contract is worth quoting in part from G. Fontana, _Due documenti
  inediti riguardanti Cimabue_, Pisa, 1878; it is reprinted in
  Strzygowski, _Cimabue und Rom_, Wien, 1888. The papers were recovered
  from a grocer who was about to use them for wrappers.

  “Which picture of the Majesty of Divine and Blessed Virgin Mary and of
  the Apostles and other saints is to be made in columns and in the
  predella and [main] spaces of the picture good and pure florin gold
  shall be used; the other pictures which are to be made in the
  aforesaid panel above the columns in tabernacles, gables, and frames
  shall be made ... of good silver gilt.”

  The picture apparently was a polyptych of three, five, or seven panels
  with columns and round arches, with an upper order of gables and
  tabernacles. It seems to have been the first well-peopled Madonna in
  Majesty, and it probably served as Duccio’s exemplar. Cimabue died
  before finishing it, but since in Nov. 1302 he received a large
  installment of 40 Pisan _lire_, he must at least have fully drawn the
  composition on the panel.

Footnote 20:

  _Simone Martini._ See the standard work by Raimond van Marle, _Simone
  Martini_, Strasbourg, 1920.

  There is considerable difference among critics in dating these
  frescoes, and no objective evidence. The early date, 1322–25,
  suggested by Venturi and Van Marle, is confirmed by the stylistic
  character of the work. It lacks the calligraphic, linear formulas
  which abound in Simone’s works after 1330. The early date also agrees
  with the general probabilities of the course of events in the
  decoration of the Lower Church at Assisi.

Footnote 21:

  Frey’s ed. Berlin, 1886, p. 42.

Footnote 22:

  The contract for this altar-piece is translated in the illustrations
  to chapter II, p. 106.

Footnote 23:

  Venturi, Vol. V, pp. 680–694, offers a sensible compromise view of the
  authorship of this series, assigning to Pietro himself only the
  Deposition, Entombment, Stigmatization of St. Francis and a Madonna
  and Saints, ascribing most of the subjects to an assistant. Dr. Ernest
  Dewald in a forthcoming Princeton dissertation takes a more skeptical
  view than Venturi as to Pietro’s presence at Assisi.

Footnote 24:

  However the “Cecelia Master,” active about 1300, deals ably with such
  spatial problems. See O. Sirén, _Burlington Magazine_, Vol. XXXIV, p.
  234, and XXXVI, p. 4. and _Giotto_, plates 11–13, Vol. II.

Footnote 25:

  _Sassetta._ Bernard Berenson. _A Painter of the Franciscan Legend_,
  (Sassetta), London and New York, 1909.

Footnote 26:

  _Matteo di Giovanni._ We have the standard work of G. Hartlaub,
  _Matteo da Siena_, Strassburg, 1910. Mr. Berenson in _Essays in the
  Study of Sienese Painting_, New York, 1918, essay on Cozzarelli, has
  made useful criticisms of the list of pictures usually ascribed to

Footnote 27:

  _Sodoma._ Hobart Cust, _Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, usually styled
  “Sodoma,”_ New York, 1906.


On the general matter of the realists of the Early Renaissance not much
has been added to Crowe and Cavalcaselle, but Mr. Berenson’s comment in
_Florentine Painters_ and _Central Italian Painters of the Renaissance_
is of high critical value. Vasari is interesting, but never more
inaccurate than when dealing with this group. As usual the latest
collected information is in Venturi. _Storia_, Vol. VII, part I, and

Footnote 28:

  Matteo Villani, _Istorie_, Florence, 1581, Lib. I, cap. iv, pp. 5–6.

Footnote 29:

  _Lorenzo Monaco._ The standard work is by O. Sirén, _Don Lorenzo
  Monaco_, Strassburg, 1905.

Footnote 30:

  _Fra Angelico._ Langton Douglas. _Fra Angelico_, London and New York,

  Vasari’s _Life_ is admirable and in essentials correct.

Footnote 31:

  _Masolino-Masaccio._ The summary in _C. & C._ (Douglas) Vol. IV;
  (Hutton), Vol. II, reasonably brings the controversy up to date. The
  latest review is by Dr. Richard Offner, _Art in America_, Vol. VIII,
  pp. 68–76, _A St. Jerome by Masolino_. Dr. Offner, in _Dedalo_, Mar.,
  1923, publishes a fine St. Julian, by Masolino, which reveals in a new
  light that artist’s romantic temperamentalism. Mr. Berenson, l. c.,
  publishes a predella piece for the same panel.

  The large album of plates accompanying August H. Schmarsow’s
  _Masaccio, der Begründer des Klassischen Stils_ &c. Kassel, 1900, is
  indispensable to the serious student. It is available in the great
  libraries. Cuts of all the works involved in the controversy are more
  readily attainable in P. Toesca’s _Masolino da Panicale_, Bergamo,
  1908, and in Venturi, _Storia_, Vol. VII, pt. I.

Footnote 32:

  The rider with his back turned at the left of the fresco of the
  Calvary has a rondel protecting the nape of his neck. It is a
  short-lived and unsuccessful invention which was not used before
  1435–40. This information, which I owe to Dr. Bashford Dean of the
  Metropolitan Museum, dates the Calvary well after Masaccio’s death,
  and, inferentially, all the other frescoes in the same chapel.

Footnote 33:

  _Cassoni_ and other Furniture Panels. The standard work is by Paul
  Schubring, _Cassoni_ &c. Leipzig, 1915.

  Many of the examples in American Collections have been published and
  discussed by William Rankin and myself in the _Burlington Magazine_,
  Vol. VIII, IX. See also a popular sketch by me in _Arts and
  Decoration_, Dec. ’05. The furnishing and decoration of a patrician
  Florentine house in the 15th century is learnedly and delightfully
  treated by A. Schiaparelli, _La Casa fiorentina_ &c., Florence, 1908.

Footnote 34:

  See my article in _Art in America_, Vol. VIII, p. 154, and in _Arts
  and Decoration_, Note 6, above.

Footnote 35:

  _Masaccio_, bibliography in Note 4 above.

  In essentials the view and chronology of Masaccio’s works here given
  differs from Cavalcaselle’s only in relegating the frescoes in S.
  Clemente to Masolino and their proper date in the late 30s or early
  40s. In this I have been partially anticipated by Pietro Toesca,
  _Masolino da Panicale_, Bergamo, 1908.

  The reader may justly wish me to commit myself on this most disputed
  question to the extent of a list. I give it in a tentative
  chronological order assuming that Masaccio may have begun to work as
  early as 1420.

                _Early Works under Masolino’s influence_:

  Madonna and Saints (fresco). Shrine at Montemarciano near S. Giovanni.
  Pietà (fresco).   Cathedral, Empoli.
  Miracle of healing by Christ (ruined by repainting). John C. Johnson
     Coll., Philadelphia.
  Madonna and St. Ann.   Uffizi, Florence.
  Adam and Eve Tempted (fresco).   Brancacci Chapel.
  Resuscitation of Tabitha (fresco).   Brancacci Chapel.

                              _Later Works_:

  St. Peter Preaching (fresco, possibly earlier). Brancacci Chapel.
  Birth of St. John (salver). Kaiser Friedrich Museum, Berlin.
  Polyptych for the Carmine, Pisa, 1426.
      The Madonna, some small pilaster pieces, and a small rondel with
         bust of God Father. National Gallery, London.
      Three predella panels (largely school work) and some small
         pilaster pieces. Kaiser Friedrich Museum, Berlin.
      Crucifixion central pinnacle. Naples Museum.
      A Saint (upper order). Civic Museum, Pisa.
      A Saint (upper order). Lanckoronski, Vienna.
  The Trinity (fresco). S. Maria Novella, Florence.
  All the remaining frescoes of the Brancacci Chapel save the parts and
     panels now universally assigned to Filippino Lippi.

Footnote 36:

  Schmarsow, _Masaccio Studien_, bd. 3. p. 27, 8.

Footnote 37:

  _Andrea del Castagno_, see the important articles by Herbert P. Horne
  in the _Burlington Magazine_, Vol. VII, 1905. Richard Offner, in _Art
  in America_, Vol. VII, pp. 227–35, first published the admirable
  portrait in Mr. Morgan’s Library, New York. A magnificent tournament
  shield with the figure of a David is in the Widener Collection, Elkins
  Park, Penna., and was first published by Guido Cagnola in _Rassegna d’
  Arte_, Vol. XIII (1913), p. 49.

  Andrea worked at Venice in 1442. See G. Fiocca, _Burlington Magazine_,
  Vol. XL, p. 11.

Footnote 38:

  _Alesso Baldovinetti._ See E. Londi, _Alesso Baldovinetti_, Firenze,


Footnote 39:

  _Fra Filippo Lippi._ Edward C. Strutt, _Fra Filippo Lippi_, London,
  1906. Vasari’s _Life_ is capital. Robert Browning’s poem, in _Men and
  Women_, an admirable side-light.

Footnote 40:

  _Benozzo Gozzoli._ I accept Col. G. F. Young’s date for these
  frescoes. See _The Medici_, New York, 1909, Vol. I., Chapter vii,
  where there is a good analysis of this decoration.

Footnote 41:

  _Antonio Pollaiuolo._ Maud Crutwell’s _Antonio Pollaiuolo_, London and
  New York, 1907. For later information consult Venturi, _Storia_, Vol.
  VII, pt. I, pp. 558–578.

Footnote 42:

  _Piero della Francesca._ W. G. Waters, _Piero della Francesca_,
  London, 1901; and Corrado Ricci’s superbly illustrated folio, _Piero
  della Francesca_, Rome, 1910.

Footnote 43:

  _Early Frescoes of the Sistine Chapel._ Magnificently reproduced in
  the album accompanying Ernst Steinmann’s _Die Sixtinische Cappelle_,
  Munich, 1901.

Footnote 44:

  _Francesco Pesellino._ Consult Dr. W. Weisbach’s able and beautifully
  illustrated work, _Francesco Pesellino und die Romantik der
  Frührenaissance_, Berlin, 1901. For cuts of _Cassoni_, Paul Schubring,
  _Cassoni_, Leipzig, 1915, and the books and articles already cited in
  note 6 to Chapter 3.

Footnote 45:

  _Domenico Ghirlandaio._ A copious and satisfactory life is that of
  Gerald S. Davies, _Ghirlandaio_, London and New York, 1909. Briefer
  but of greater cultural scope is Ghirlandaio, by Henri Hauvette,
  Paris, “Les maîtres de l’art.” For a summary criticism my article in
  _The Nation_ (N. Y.), Aug. 20, 1908, p. 167. Ruskin’s famous assault
  on Ghirlandaio in _Mornings in Florence_ is joyous reading if
  whimsically exaggerated.


Footnote 46:

  _Botticelli._ The standard work is Herbert P. Horne, _Sandro
  Botticelli_, London, 1908. A little additional information may be
  found in Crowe and Cavalcaselle, _A History of Painting in Italy_,
  Hutton Ed. Vol. II, and in Venturi, _Storia dell’ Arte Italiana_, Vol.
  VII, pt. 1.

  Walter Pater’s essay in _The Renaissance_ offers beautifully a
  one-sided view. The essays, the _Soul of a Fact_, and
  _Quattrocentisteria_, in Maurice Hewlett’s _Earthwork out of Tuscany_
  are poetically illuminative. Mr. Berenson’s analysis in _Florentine
  Painters of the Renaissance_ is important. I have written more fully
  on Botticelli in _Estimates in Art_, New York, 1912.

  Botticelli’s Dante illustrations are published in a cheaper and more
  sumptuous form by Friedrich P. Lippmann. _Botticelli, Zeichnungen von
  Sandro Botticelli_, Berlin, 1896.

  Lists of Botticelli’s works differ considerably. I incline to accept a
  number of early paintings which are neglected by such exclusive
  critics as Berenson and Horne. My own list, which for reasons of space
  cannot be given here, would not differ much from that of A. Venturi,
  in _Storia_ VII, i, 588–642.

Footnote 47:

  _Filippino Lippi._ I. B. Supino, _Les deux Lippi_, Firenze, 1904.

Footnote 48:

  _Piero di Cosimo._ Fritz Knapp, _Piero di Cosimo_, Halle, 1899. As
  usual later information in Venturi, _Storia_, Vol. VII, pt. 1.

Footnote 49:

  This extraordinary series of which four have been recovered is fully
  discussed and somewhat differently interpreted by Roger E. Fry, in
  _Burlington Magazine_, Vol. XXXVIII, p. 131_f._ See also letter on
  page 257.

Footnote 50:

  _Leonardo da Vinci._ The standard life is by W. von Seidlitz,
  _Leonardo da Vinci_, Berlin, 1909. The early work of Leonardo and his
  relations with Verrocchio have been thoroughly and lucidly analyzed by
  Jens Thys, _Leonardo da Vinci_, London, 1913. Amid the confusingly
  rich bibliography, the student may do well to stick to Vasari’s
  admirable _Life_ in any of the translations, to Dr. O. Sirén’s
  scholarly and cautious book _Leonardo da Vinci_, New Haven, and
  London, 1916 and to the late Dr. J. P. Richter’s incomparable work
  “The Literary Works of Leonardo da Vinci,” London, 1883, obtainable
  only in libraries. Giovanni Poggi, _Leonardo da Vinci_, Firenze, 1919,
  has thoroughly edited Vasari’s _Life_, and should be consulted for
  latest views and for illustrations. My own view on the early
  development of Leonardo, a most disputed matter, is set forth more
  fully in _Art and Archæology_, Vol. IV. pp. 111–122.

  For literary side-lights Walter Pater’s essay, in _The Renaissance_;
  for an iconoclastic view Berenson in _Study and Criticism of Italian
  Art_, Fourth Series, New York, 1920. Edward McCurdy’s selected
  translations from _The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci_, New York,
  1906, are valuable for those to whom Richter is inaccessible.
  Leonardo’s drawings, which are no less important than his paintings,
  may best be approached through Mr. Berenson’s monumental work, _The
  Drawings of the Florentine Painters_, New York and London, 1903, while
  the drawings before 1480 are clearly and ably discussed by Dr. Thys.

Footnote 51:

  The capital mistake of the more exclusive critics of Leonardo’s early
  work is that they set this delightful little masterpiece at the
  beginning of the series in an impossibly early date. There is no such
  manipulation of paint and no such feeling for unity of landscape
  before 1475 or so. Being a revision of the design of the Uffizi
  Annunciation, it is necessarily later.

  My list of Leonardo’s would include, in approximate order:

   1. In Verocchio’s Baptism. The landscape at left and distance, the
        Angel kneeling to right, about 1470, Uffizi.

   2. Madonna and Child with an Angel, design by Verrocchio, London.

   3. The Annunciation, design mostly by Verrocchio, about 1475, Uffizi.

   4. Portrait of a Girl, possibly a Verrocchio, Prince Liechtenstein,

   5. Annunciation, Louvre.

   6. Benois Madonna, about 1478–9, Petrograd.

   7. St. Jerome, unfinished, Vatican, Rome.

   8. Adoration of the Magi, left unfinished about 1481, Uffizi.

   9. Cartoon of St. Ann, Burlington House, London.

  10. Madonna of the Rocks, between 1480–83, Paris.

  11. So-called Belle Ferronnière, perhaps bottega piece, about 1490,

  12. Girl with an Ermine, perhaps a bottega piece, about 1495, Cracow.

  13. Clay model of the Sforza horse, destroyed in 1500.

  14. Last Supper, 1498, Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan.

  15. Cartoon for a St. Ann, lost but represented by sketches at Venice,

  16. Madonna of the Distaff, represented by old copies.

  17. Cartoon for Battle of Anghiari, only central group painted, partly
        represented by sketches and old copies, 1504.

  18. Portrait of Mona Lisa, Paris.

  19. Cartoon for a standing Leda, probably only the figure, since
        numerous old copies have widely varying accessories.

  20. Madonna of the Rocks, 1507, London.

  21. Cartoon for a Kneeling Leda, the figure only. Sketches and old

  22. Madonna and St. Ann, Paris.

  23. St. John, half-length, Paris.

  All Leonardo’s main activity as a painter lies from 1470–1500. He
  painted a picture about every two years.

  Various sculptures have been ascribed to Leonardo. Of these only two,
  which will have been made in Verrocchio’s _bottega_ and under his
  direction, seem to me to deserve the distinction. A terra cotta
  Madonna and Child in the Metropolitan Museum, there ascribed to
  Verrocchio’s school, may represent Leonardo’s modelling about 1465. A
  stucco Madonna owned by Mr. George Diblee, at Oxford, is perhaps ten
  years later. The first is discussed by me in _Art and Archaeology_,
  Vol. IV, p. 122; the second is reproduced and accepted as a Leonardo
  by Prof. A. Venturi in _L’ Arte_, Vol. XXV, p. 131.

Footnote 52:

  The best study of this picture and of its contemporary influence is
  that of George Gronau in _Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst_. N. F. Vol.
  XXIII, pp. 253–259. He fails to perceive that so primitive a picture
  as late as 1478 furnishes the best reason for accepting most of the
  rejected early Leonardos.

Footnote 53:

  In all this matter Jens Thys’s admirable studies are indispensable.
  See note 5 above.

Footnote 54:

  The Lady and the Ermine and the Belle Ferronnière are thoroughly
  discussed by H. Ochenkowski, _Burlington Magazine_, Vol. XXXIV, p. 186
  _f._, where a full bibliography will be found.

Footnote 55:

  This error which has persisted since Vasari was finally corrected by
  the great restorer Cavenaghi in his report of the last restoration.
  Malaguzzi Valeri in _Milano_, Bergamo, 1906, pt. 2, p. 14, first
  advanced the correct view that the painting was done in tempera.

Footnote 56:

  Kenyon Cox, _Concerning Painting_, New York, 1917, p. 73.

Footnote 57:

  _Fra Bartolommeo._ The standard work is Fritz Knapp’s _Fra Bartolommeo
  della Porta_, Halle, 1903. H. v. d. Gablentz, _Fra Bartolommeo_ in 2
  vols., Leipzig, 1922.

Footnote 58:

  _Andrea del Sarto._ H. Guinness, _Andrea del Sarto_, London and New
  York, 1901. Andrea’s drawings are finely analyzed by Bernard Berenson
  in _The Drawings of the Florentine Painters_.

Footnote 59:

  _Bronzino._ Hans Schulze, _Die Werke Angelo Bronzino’s_, Strassburg,

Footnote 60:

  _Pontormo._ We have two admirable books by the same writer, Dr. F. M.
  Clapp; _Les Dessins de Pontormo_, Paris, 1914; _Pontormo, his Life and
  Work_, New Haven, 1916.

  Pontormo’s supreme masterpiece of portraiture, The Halberdier, is
  published by myself in _Art in America_, Vol. X, p. 66.

                              CHAPTER VI.

THE HIGH RENAISSANCE. The indispensable books are, for leading ideas, J.
C. Burckhardt, _Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy_, New York,
1890; for the stylistic development in Art, H. Wölfflin, _The Art of the
Italian Renaissance_, New York, 1913. Very valuable for history and
biography are J. Addington Symonds’s _The Renaissance in Italy_, 5
Vols., London; and H. O. Taylor’s _Thought and Expression in the
Sixteenth Century_, New York, 1920. For Renaissance ideals of nobility
and moderation the capital contemporary work is _Il Cortegiano_, by
Baldassare Castiglione, translated as _The Courtier_ by L. E. Opdycke,
New York, 1905. For stylistic analysis Berenson’s introductions to
_Florentine Painters_, and to _Central Italian Painters of the
Renaissance_, are suggestive and important.

Footnote 61:

  _Gentile da Fabriano._ A. Colasanti, _Gentile da Fabriano_. Bergamo,
  1909. Also my Essay review. _The Nation_, Vol. 89 (1909) pp. 168–170.

Footnote 62:

  _Andrea da Bologna._ _The Nation_ (N. Y.) Vol. 95. (1912) p. 392.

Footnote 63:

  _Fifteenth Century Umbrians._ Walter Rothes, in _Anfänge ... der
  Alt-Umbrischen Malerschulen_, Strassburg, 1908, gives excellent
  illustrations for the Early Umbrian Artists. Also for cuts, U. Gnoli,
  _La Mostra Umbra_, Bergamo.

Footnote 64:

  _Melozzo da Forlì._ A. Schmarsow, _Melozzo da Forlì_, Berlin, 1886,
  and C. Ricci, _Melozzo da Forlì_, Rome, 1911, are the standard works.

Footnote 65:

  _Luca Signorelli._ Maud Crutwell, _Luca Signorelli_, London, 1901. See
  Venturi, vii, as usual.

Footnote 66:

  _Pietro Perugino._ Venturi, _Storia_, Vol. VII, pt. 2, ch. v, makes
  Perugino the direct pupil of Piero della Francesca, ascribing to
  Perugino many pictures formerly ascribed to Fiorenzo di Lorenzo. The
  view while attractive is not wholly convincing to me. All of
  Perugino’s works are published in _Klassiker der Kunst_, No. XXV,
  Stuttgart, 1914. The best general estimate of Perugino is that of
  Wölfflin and of Berenson, in _Central Italian Painters_.

Footnote 67:

  The _Cambio_ frescoes. While it is inherently likely that Raphael
  worked on these frescoes, Prof. Venturi’s plea for Raphael’s
  authorship of God, the Prophets and Sibyls, _Storia_, Vol. VII, pt. 2,
  p. 828 _ff._ depends largely on the shaky evidence of drawings
  attributed arbitrarily to Raphael.

  RAPHAEL AND MICHELANGELO. From the point of view of pure style the
  best treatment of these artists and of the High Renaissance is that of
  Heinrich Wölfflin in _The Art of the Italian Renaissance_, New York,
  1913. It is a book that every student should read and if possible own.
  Mr. Berenson’s treatment of space composition, in the introduction to
  _Central Italian Painters of the Renaissance_, is perhaps his finest
  achievement in criticism.

Footnote 68:

  _Raphael._ Hermann Grimm’s two volume _Life of Raphael_ is still
  valuable for background. Among the numerous popular books in English
  none is outstanding. Henry Strachey’s _Raphael_, in “Great Masters of
  Art,” is good, and so are Julia Cartwright’s two monographs: _The
  Early Work of Raphael_ and _Raphael in Rome_, in the _Portfolio
  Series_, London, 1895.

        For Raphael’s participation in the frescoes of the Cambio it
  seems to me that Professor Venturi, in _Storia dell’ Arte Italiana_,
  Vol. VII, part 2, makes out only a plausible case.

        Reproductions of all of Raphael’s works in _Klassiker der
  Kunst_, No. I., _Raphael_, Stuttgart and Leipzig.

        Among the innumerable essays on Raphael none is more
  understanding than John La Farge’s, in _Great Masters_, New York,

Footnote 69:

  _Michelangelo._ The best source for the study of Michelangelo,
  painter, is the superb plates in Ernst Steinmann’s _Die Sixtinische
  Cappelle_, Munich, 1901. Among recent short biographies that of
  Charles Holroyd, _Michelangelo_, London and New York, 1911 and Romain
  Rolland (a longer study, _The Life of Michelangelo_, New York, 1912; a
  different and shorter work, _Michelangelo, a Study, &c._, New York,
  1915) are perhaps the best. The two volume biographies by Hermann
  Grimm and by J. Addington Symonds are valuable, especially for
  historical background. But the reader may be wise to content himself
  with one of the brief biographies and such contemporary lives as
  Vasari’s, Ascanio Condivi’s, and Francesco d’Olanda’s. The two latter
  are translated in Holroyd’s book. The drawings of Michelangelo are
  admirably discussed and presented in a perfect selection by Mr.
  Berenson in _The Drawings of the Florentine Painters_. The drawings
  are chronologically arranged and beautifully reproduced by Karl Frey,
  _Die Handzeichnungen Michelangelo’s_, 2 vols., Berlin, 1911. W. R.
  Valentiner treats _The Late Years of Michelangelo_ (New York, 1914)
  with insight, devoting himself chiefly to the more finished drawings.
  For a brief yet comprehensive survey, John La Farge in _Great
  Masters_, New York, 1903. The works are completely reproduced in
  _Klassiker der Kunst_, No. VII. _Michelangelo_, Stuttgart and Leipzig.


Footnote 70:

  Little literature of a general sort is available to the English
  speaking reader. Crowe and Cavalcaselle, _A History of Painting in
  Northern Italy_, admirably edited by Tancred Borenius, in three
  volumes, London, 1913, is the chief repository of facts. Evelyn March
  Phillipps, _The Venetian School of Painting_, London, 1912, is an
  excellent brief survey. For readers of Italian Lionello Venturi’s _Le
  Origini della Pittura Veneziana_, Venice, 1911, is the best book. A
  treasure house of materials in Laudadeo Testi’s two volumes, _La
  Storia della Pittura Veneziana_, Bergamo. John Ruskin’s masterpiece,
  _Stones of Venice_, may be consulted with profit and delight. There
  are treasures of antiquarian information in Pompeo Molmenti, _La
  Storia di Venezia nella Vita Privata_, 3 vols., Bergamo, 1905.

Footnote 71:

  _Jacopo Bellini._ The extraordinary and fascinating sketch books are
  published in two forms, by Corrado Ricci, _Jacopo Bellini e i suo
  libri di designi_, 2 vols., Florence, 1908, and by V. Goloubew, _Les
  Dessins de Jacopo Bellini_, Bruxelles, 1908.

Footnote 72:

  G. McNeill Rushforth, _Carlo Crivelli_, London, 1900.

Footnote 73:

  _Andrea Mantegna._ The standard work is by Paul Kristeller, _Andrea
  Mantegna_, London and New York, 1901. Maud Crutwell’s short biography,
  _Andrea Mantegna_, London, 1901, is excellent. Mr. Berenson’s subtle
  analysis in _North Italian Painters of the Renaissance_ perhaps
  overstresses Andrea’s defects. Mantegna’s complete works are
  reproduced in _Klassiker der Kunst_, No. XVI, Stuttgart, 1910.

Footnote 74:

  _Antonello da Messina._ See L. Venturi, _Le Origini_, and A. Venturi,
  _Storia_, VII, pt. 4. Recent attributions, Bernard Berenson, _Study
  and Criticism of Italian Art_, 3rd Series, London, 1916, p. 79 _ff._

Footnote 75:

  _Giovanni Bellini._ Nothing notable in English except casual criticism
  by Ruskin and Roger E. Fry’s admirable little book, _Giovanni
  Bellini_, London, 1899, which is unfortunately out of print. For such
  as read German—Georg Gronau, _Die Künstler-familie Bellini_, Leipzig,
  1907, with abundant illustrations. Recently discovered pictures and a
  better chronology, in Bernard Berenson: _Venetian Painting in
  America_, New York, 1916.

Footnote 76:

  _Vettor Carpaccio._ Ludwig and Molmenti’s _The Life and Works of
  Victor Carpaccio_, London, 1907, gives, aside from its main topic, a
  vivid picture of the cultural condition of Venice about 1500. See my
  essay review of it in _The Nation_, Vol. 86, (1908) pp. 315 _ff._ John
  Ruskin’s delightful comments on Carpaccio are mostly in the _Guide to
  the Academy_ at Venice and in _St. Mark’s Rest_, chapter _The Shrine
  of the Slaves_, Library ed. Vol. XXIV.

Footnote 77:

  _Giorgione._ For the smallest list L. Venturi, _Giorgione e il
  Giorgionismo_, Milan, 1913; for the longest list Herbert Cook,
  _Giorgione_; for a middle view L. Justi, _Giorgione_, 2 vols., Berlin,
  1908, most useful plates.

  The general conditions of the problem are clearly stated by the late
  Richard Norton in _Bernini and other Studies_, New York, 1914. L.
  Hourticq, in _La Jeunesse de Titien_, Paris, 1919, has lately worked
  over the pictures which lie between Titian and Giorgione in an
  interesting but highly subjective fashion. Kenyon Cox, _Art in
  America_, Vol. I, pp. 115 _ff._, makes the plausible suggestion that
  the several portraits signed V or VV are by Titian, the letters
  meaning Vecellius Venetus. This would make the Berlin portrait a

  Walter Pater’s essay on _The School of Giorgione_, in _The
  Renaissance_ is as masterly for insight as it is for verbal beauty.

  I hesitate to add one more to the varying opinions concerning
  Giorgione’s paintings. At least I may introduce a novelty by classing
  them according to probability, or rather according to the completeness
  of my own conviction. In the whole matter we are largely in the field
  of taste and opinion. E means early.

                  _Paintings, m. j. surely by Giorgione_

  1. The Shepherds finding the Infant Paris (repainted fragment, E)

  2. “The Soldier and the Gipsy” E. Prince Giovanelli

  3. Madonna with St. Francis and St. George (1504) Castelfranco

  4. The Three Philosophers (finished by Sebastiano del Piombo) Vienna

  5. Orpheus and Eurydice (_cassone_ panel) Bergamo

  6. The Sleeping Venus (landscape by Titian) Dresden

  7. Fresco of Nude Woman, nearly effaced (1508), represented by
  Zanetti’s print Fondaco de’ Tedeschi

  8. Judith (cut down at sides) Petrograd

  9. His own Portrait (much cut down and damaged) Brunswick

  10. Christ with his Cross Church of S. Rocco

  11. The Concert (finished by Titian? or repainted in his manner?)

  _Paintings probably by Giorgione._ I accept these, but do not think
  the evidence demonstrative.

  12–13. Stories of the Infant Paris (two _cassone_ panels, E.) Sir
  Martin Conway, Allington Castle, Maidstone, England

  14. The Fire Ordeal of Moses (door panel, E.) Florence

  15. The Judgment of Solomon (door panel, E.) Florence

  16. Christ bearing his Cross, E. Fenway Court, Boston.

  17. Homage to a Poet, E. London

  18. Portrait of a Young Man (possibly an early Titian) Berlin

  19. Boy With an Arrow (old copy?) Vienna

  20. Shepherd with a Flute Hampton Court

  21. David with Goliath’s Head (copy? or ruined original?) Vienna

  22. Altar-piece of St. John Chrysostom (mostly executed by Sebastiano
  del Piombo) S. Giovanni Crisostomo

  23. The Pastoral Symphony (radically repainted in recent times.) Paris

  24. Portrait of a Man New York

  This list might still be extended by half a dozen numbers by including
  pictures which may represent lost originals by Giorgione, but here we
  are in a field too subjective for profitable discussion in a handbook.

  _Pictures generally ascribed to Giorgione, I think erroneously._

  The Knight of Malta (probably a Titian about 1515) Florence

  Portrait of Broccardo Budapest

  Storm Calmed by St. Mark (probably a Palma) Venice

  Judgment of Solomon (Hourticq plausibly regards as copy of lost fresco
  by Titian) Banks Coll., Kingston Lacy

  Madonna with St. Antony and St. Roch (probably a Titian) Madrid

  Portrait of a Woman Casino Borghese, Rome

  The reason for excluding such works is their over-pathetic or
  over-dramatic quality. The argument applies especially to the
  Adulteress before Christ at Glasgow. Corroborative technical evidence
  against this group may be found in L. Venturi’s excellent monograph.


On the Venetian Renaissance in general we have the works cited at the
head of Notes for Chapter VII and for biographies and lists D. V.
Hadeln, new ed. Ridolfi, _Le Maraviglie dell’ Arte_, Berlin, 1914. A
brief survey by the late Kenyon Cox, in _Concerning Painting_, New York,
1917, pp. 98–132, is valuable.

Footnote 78:

  _Titian._ Crowe and Cavalcaselle’s _The Life and Times of Titian_, in
  2 vols., London, 1881, is still the fullest repository of information.
  Georg Gronau’s popular but carefully done _Titian_, London and New
  York, 1904, takes account of later documentary discoveries. As a
  painter’s analysis of technical aims Charles Rickett’s _Titian_,
  London, 1910, is noteworthy. Nearly all of Titian’s works are
  published in _Klassiker der Kunst_, No. III, Stuttgart, 1906. Several
  newly discovered pictures are reproduced in the recent volumes,
  1918–22, of the _Burlington Magazine_, _Art in America_, and
  _Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst_.

Footnote 79:

  _Titian’s Age._ All the available material on this disputed matter is
  offered by Mr. Herbert Cook and Dr. George Gronau in a controversy
  printed as appendices to Cook’s _Giorgione_, London, 1907. The early
  evidence is very conflicting.

    Writing in 1557   Dolce implies    Titian was born about  1489
       „    „  1566–7 Vasari             „     „   „     „    1489
       „    „  1564   A Spanish Envoy          „   „     „    1474
       „    „  1567   A Spanish Consul         „   „     „    1482
       „    „  1571   Titian himself     „     „   „     „    1477
       „    „  1584   Borghini           „     „   „     „   1478–9

  Writing in 1545 and 1548 Titian refers to his old age and disabilities
  (Cook, p. 141 note), expressions more natural if he was sixty-eight
  and seventy-one than they would be if he were only fifty-six and

  Mr. Cook’s theory that Titian and his Spanish official friends grossly
  exaggerated his age to secure prompter remittances from the Emperor
  seems to me gratuitous and flimsy. Dr. Gronau convinces me that
  neither Dolce nor Vasari can be regarded as serious witnesses. L.
  Hourticq in _La Jeunesse de Titien_, Paris, 1919, adds next to nothing
  to Cook in maintaining the later date for Titian’s birth.

  The whole weight of evidence points to the fact that Titian told the
  broad truth about his age, perhaps, indulging in a round number. I am
  sure he was well over ninety when he described himself as ninety-five
  in the letter of 1571, and that he died all but a centenarian.

Footnote 80:

  Pietro d’Achiardi, _Sebastiano de Piombo_, Roma, 1908.

Footnote 81:

  Max von Boehn, _Giorgione und Palma Vecchio_, Leipzig, 1908.

Footnote 82:

  Bernard Berenson, _Lorenzo Lotto_, London, 1905. Comprises also
  careful studies of Alvise Vivarini, Cima, Montagna and other Venetic
  painters. In _The Study and Criticism of Italian Art_, 3rd series,
  London, 1916, the superb Saint Justine of the Valsecchi Collection is
  rightly restored to Giovanni Bellini, l.c. p. 38 _ff._

Footnote 83:

  _Correggio._ The standard work, C. Ricci, _Antonio Allegri da
  Coreggio_, New York, 1896. A delightful critical study, T. Sturge
  Moore, _Correggio_, London and New York, 1906. The complete works in
  _Klassiker der Kunst_, No. XVII, Stuttgart.

  A new and convincing view of Correggio’s date of birth and early
  development in Venturi, _Storia_, Vol. VII, pt. iii, pp. 1152 _ff._

Footnote 84:

  Evelyn March Phillipps, _Tintoretto_, London, 1911. Many of the
  extraordinary tempera sketches are reproduced in the _Burlington
  Magazine_ for January and February, 1910. H. Thode, _Tintoretto_,
  Leipzig, 1901.

  Many eloquent criticisms by Ruskin in _Modern Painters_ and _Stones of
  Venice_ (see indices) and in the _Guide to the Academy at Venice_,
  Library ed. Vol. XXIV.

Footnote 85:

  _Paolo Veronese._ See Kenyon Cox’s masterly essay in _Old Masters and
  New_, New York.

Footnote 86:

  _G. B. Tiepolo._ The standard work is by Pompeo Molmenti. _G. B.
  Tiepolo_, Milan, 1909.

Footnote 87:

  G. A. Simonson. _Francesco Guardi_, London, 1905. Numerous additions
  by the same author in the _Burlington Magazine_ for succeeding years.


On this period there is little available literature in English, but
there are excellent sketches of most of the artists treated in this
chapter in C. Ricci, _Art in Northern Italy_, New York, 1911.

A. Pératé in A. Michel, _Histoire de l’Art_, Vol. Vª, gives a fuller

Footnote 88:

  _Caravaggio._ W. Kallab, Austrian _Jahrbuch_, Vol. XXVI (1906), p. 272
  _ff._, brief illustrated essay. Felix Witting, _Michelangelo da
  Caravaggio_, Strassburg, 1916.

Footnote 89:

  _Salvator Rosa._ Lady Morgan, _The Life and Times of Salvator Rosa_,
  in two vols., Paris, 1824. Leandro Ozzola, _Vita e opere di Salvator
  Rosa_, Strassburg, 1908.

  The passages translated in the text are from Bottari, _Raccolta di
  lettere sulla Pittura_ &c., Vol. I, pp. 447, 450 _f._, Milan, 1822.

Footnote 90:

  _The Carracci._ The fundamental source is Carlo Cesare Malvasia’s
  highly contentious and anecdotal work _Felsina Pittrice_; I have used
  the two volume edition, Milan, 1841.

  Gabriel Rouchès, _La Peinture Bolonaise à la Fin du XVI^e Siècle_,
  Paris, 1913, is the standard work on the Eclectic School. On the
  landscape of this school, which is highly important as preparatory to
  Claude and Poussin, Rouchès has two remarkable essays in _Gazette des
  Beaux Arts_, 5^e période Tome, III. (Jan. and Feb. nos. 1921) pp. 7
  _ff._, and 119 _ff._

  Hans Tietze, in Austrian _Jahrbuch_, Vol. XXVI (1906) p. 51 _ff._,
  _Annibale Carracci’s Galerie im Palazzo Farnese und seine Römische
  Werkstätte_—a very thorough and richly illustrated monograph on the
  Carracci, including such scholars as Francesco Albani, and

Footnote 91:

  _Guido Reni._ Max von Boehn, _Guido Reni_, Leipzig, 1910, fully

Footnote 92:

  _Domenichino._ Luigi Serra, _Domenico Zampieri detto Domenichino_,
  Rome, 1909. Also Tietze’s article, above, note 3.

                           HINTS FOR READING

readers the greatest resource for reference is Crowe and Cavalcaselle,
_A New History of Painting in Italy_, which covers the Central Italian
field up to about 1500. I prefer the three volume edition by Edward
Hutton, published by J. M. Dent and Co., London; and E. P. Dutton, New
York, (1908–9) to the fuller six-volume edition annotated by Langton
Douglas and published conjointly by the Murrays of London and the
Scribners of New York. For the North Italian field Crowe and
Cavalcaselle’s _History of Painting in Northern Italy_, re-edited in
three volumes by Tancred Borenius, John Murray-Charles Scribner’s Sons,
1912, is indispensable. Both works are ordinarily cited as “C. & C.” The
Italian articles in A. Michel’s _Histoire de l’Art_, Paris, are

MANUALS. Bernard Berenson’s four Handbooks, _Venetian Painters of the
Renaissance_, _Florentine Painters of the Renaissance_, _Central Italian
Painters of the Renaissance_, and _Northern Italian Painters of the
Renaissance_, New York and London, G. P. Putnam and Sons, are uniquely
useful. Each contains a thorough critical discussion and lists of the
works of the more important painters. The latest editions should be

_A Short History of Italian Painting_, by Alice van Vechten Brown and
William Rankin, Dent-Dutton, 1914, offers brilliant, if uneven,
characterizations and able summaries of contested points.

TECHNIQUE. Consult the delightful _The Book of Art by Cennino Cennini_,
edited by Christiana J. Herringham, London: George Allen, 1922, for
methods of painting in tempera and fresco.

BIOGRAPHY. Giorgio Vasari’s picturesque _Lives of the Painters_ may most
profitably be read in the translation of Gaston DuC. de Vere, in ten
volumes, London: Philip Lee Warner; New York: The Macmillan Company.
There are many color-prints. The matter is available inexpensively in
the handy “Everyman’s Library.” Mrs. Ady, “Julia Cartwright,” has
epitomized the chief lives agreeably, with necessary corrections, in
_The Painters of Florence_, E. P. Dutton and Company, 1916.

PERIODICALS. The reader may most profitably cultivate the habit of
paging over the files of _The Burlington Magazine_ and _Art in America_,
_Rassegna d’Arte_ and _L’Arte_, which contain good reproductions of many
fine Italian pictures in private collections.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND. Excellent the many Italian Chapters in Henry
Osborn Taylor’s _The Mediaeval Mind_, in two volumes, The Macmillan
Company, 1911. For Florentine conditions consult Guido Biagi, _Men and
Manners of Old Florence_, Chicago, A. C. McClurg and Company, 1909, and
_The Builders of Florence_, by J. Wood Brown, London, Methuen and
Company, 1907.

PHOTOGRAPHS, etc. The ideal way to use a handbook would be to skim it
before visiting a great European gallery and to reread it carefully
while the impression of the pictures themselves was still vivid. But the
student must also depend much on photographic reproductions. For Italy
those of Messrs. Alinari at Florence and of Dominick Anderson at Rome
are comprehensive, finely made, and remarkably cheap. Alinari has most
of the Italian paintings of the Louvre and Dresden Gallery; Anderson,
those of the Prado, Madrid, and National Gallery, London. The
collections of Hanfstaengl and of Bruckmann, Munich, cover most of the
galleries of Northern and Central Europe. Photographs of the Italian
pictures in the Metropolitan Museum, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts,
Boston; the Fogg Museum, Cambridge, Mass., and the Jarves Collection,
Yale University, New Haven, Conn., may be purchased from those museums.
Besides these four main collections of Italian pictures in America, that
of the New York Historical Society, New York, and of Mrs. John L.
Gardner, Fenway Court, Boston, occasionally open to the public, are
noteworthy. The art museums of Worcester, Mass., Providence, R. I.,
Cleveland, O., Indianapolis, Detroit, Chicago and Minneapolis have
Italian pictures of quality. There is something in the Wilstach Gallery,
Philadelphia, and whenever the John G. Johnson Collection shall be
worthily exhibited, Philadelphia will be rich indeed in Italian art. The
student should not fail to utilize such local resources, however slight
they may seem, for one minor original thoroughly enjoyed is worth days
of poring over reproductions.

For students who cannot afford a considerable number of photographs the
_University Prints_, Newton, Mass., afford a tolerable substitute. For
quick reference the numerous cuts in Venturi’s monumental _Storia dell’
Arte Italiana_, Milan, Ulrico Hoepli, are very useful. The halftones in
the “Künstler Monografien,” Leipzig, Velhagen and Klasing, and the
larger prints in the “Klassiker der Kunst,” Stuttgart and Leipzig, serve
a similar purpose. Details may be had from any importing bookseller.


Where an artist has a family name, that is the indexed word, e.g.,
Bellini, Giovanni. Where there is no surname, the Christian name is
used, e.g., Nardo di Cione, Andrea da Bologna. So is the Christian name
the index word when an apparent surname is really only descriptive of
birthplace or civil estate, e.g., Domenico Veneziano, Lorenzo Monaco. In
the case of well-known artists, the most familiar name is employed,
e.g., Angelico, Fra; Giorgione, Titian, Perugino, Raphael, Andrea del
Sarto, Pontormo, Botticelli, Michelangelo, etc.

 Academic, light and shade, Leonardo, 226;
   theory of generalization, Sir Joshua Reynolds, 318;
   of selection and Belle Nature, Leonardo, 258;
   L. Dolce, 445

 Altar, as shrine and tomb, influence on subjects of painting, 7

 Alunno (Niccolò Liberatore), 273

 Andrea da Bologna, 271

 Andrea del Castagno, 146–147, 201

 Andrea del Sarto, 248–253

 Angelico of Fiesole, Fra, 112, 114–122, 267

 Antonello da Messina, 345–348, 355, 360

 Antonio da Negroponte, 335

 Ariosto, list of greatest painters, 385

 Baldovinetti, Alesso, 148;
   an official appraisal of his frescoes, 153

 Barna of Siena, 88, 89

 Bartolo di Fredi, 86

 Baroque decorative painting, derives from Mantegna, 337, 340–341;
   Correggio, 340, 415–416;
   Tiepolo, 442;
   Influence of Catholic Reaction on mood of, 459

 Bartolommeo, Fra (Baccio della Porta), 246, 247–248, 282, 290

 Bartolommeo della Gatta, Don, 177

 Bellini, Gentile, 348–352, 364

 Bellini, Giovanni, 324, 352–362, 369

 Bellini, Jacopo, 330–333, 334

 Bembo, Pietro, 373

 Benvenuto di Giovanni, 99

 Birth salvers (deschi da parto), 99, 128, 181

 Bologna School and Eclecticism, _passim_, 458–465, 471

 Bonfigli, Benedetto, 271

 Botticelli, Sandro (Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi), 122, 163, 175,
    184, 202–220, 255

 Brancacci Chapel, problem of the frescoes, 131–141

 Byzantine manner, 10–12;
   in Venetia, 324, 326, 327

 Bartolommeo di Giovanni, 183

 Bassano, Jacopo and Leandro, 424

 Bonauiti, Andrea, decorator of the Spanish Chapel, 51–53

 Bronzino, Agnolo, 251

 Brunellesco, investigator of perspective, 110

 Canale, Antonio, 442

 Caravaggio (Michelangelo Amerighi), 453–456, 470

 Carpaccio, Victor, 364–370

 Carracci, their academy at Bologna, 461.;
   Carlo Malvasia on the Eclecticism of the C., 471

 Carracci, Annibale, 453, 459–465;
   sonnet ascribed to, 471

 Cassone painters, before 1450, 127–130;
   after 1450, 180–183

 Castiglione, Baldassare, 266, 298;
   list of greatest artists, 315

 Cavallini, Pietro, 16–18

 Cimabue, 12, 14–15, 20

 Classic Spirit, Kenyon Cox on, 319

 Correggio (Antonio Allegri), 340, 415–417;
   Initiator of the Baroque Manner, 416

 Cox, Kenyon, on the Classic Spirit, 319

 Crivelli, Carlo, 267, 271, 334–335

 Dante, 3, 8;
   Giotto’s portrait of, 40;
   Botticelli’s drawings for, 215

 Domenico di Bartolo, 89

 Domenico Veneziano, 147–148, 168, 201, 267, 271

 Domenichino (Domenico Zampieri), 465, 467–469

 Donatello, 110, 333

 Duccio di Buoninsegna, 12, 13, 60, 63–72;
   Procession on installation of his great Madonna, 106

 Florence, about 1300 described, 2–4, 55;
   the new looser manners after the plague of 1348, 110, 111;
   Renaissance pageantry in, 195–196;
   Savonarola’s revolution, 193, 215, 302;
   End of liberty in and demoralization, 320

 Folgore da San Gemignano, Sienese sonnet quoted, 104

 Francesco di Giorgio, 100

 Francis of Assisi, St., initiator of the new emotionalism in painting,
    7, 8

 Fresco, method of painting in, 6

 Gaddi, Agnolo, 46

 Gaddi, Gaddo, possibly to be identified with the “Isaac Master,” 18

 Gaddi, Taddeo, 40, 45, 46

 Gentile da Fabriano, 267–270, 328, 330

 Ghiberti, Lorenzo, Sienese anecdote by, 104;
   his studies, 109

 Ghirlandaio (Domenico Bigordi), 122, 142, 143, 177, 184–194

 Giorgione, 370–383;
   problem of, 370;
   early works, 371, 372;
   his Arcadianism related to pastoral poetry, 373–374;
   his dreamy and indeterminate mood, 374–377;
   Castelfranco Madonna, and other later works, 378–380;
   pastoral symphony, 380–382;
   The Concert, its problems, 381–382;
   Summary, 383;
   Suggestion of G’s subjects in Leonardo’s “Trattato,” 385–386

 Giottino, 46

 Giotto’s pupils, “Master of the Right Transept,” 43–45;
   Taddeo Gaddi, 45, 46;
   Buffalmacco, 46;
   Bernardo Daddi, 46;
   Giottino, 46, 47

 Giotto di Bondone, 18;
   early work at Assisi, 20–22;
   at Rome, 23;
   at Padua, 23–29;
   later work, the Allegories at Assisi, 31–34;
   at Santa Croce, 34–39;
   The Campanile and last phase, 40, 41;
   general characterization, 42, 43;
   poem by, 56;
   mentioned, 136, 267

 Giovanni di Paolo, 93–95

 Girolamo di Benvenuto, 99

 Giulio Romano, 294, 297, 452–453

 Gozzoli, Benozzo, 142, 143, 165–166, 267, 271

 Grand style defined, 265–266;
   Sir Joshua Reynolds on, 318–319;
   L. Dolce on, in Titian, 445

 Guariento of Padua, 324

 Goya, Francisco, quoted, 131

 Guardi, Francesco, 443

 Guido of Siena, 12

 “Isaac Master,” perhaps Gaddo Gaddi, 18

 Isabella d’Este, Marchioness of Mantua, relations with Mantegna, 343;
   Opinion of him, 384

 Landscape, new sense of the picturesque in, and Salvator Rosa, 456–457

 LeBrun, Charles, dependence as decorator on A. Carracci, 465

 Leonardo da Vinci, 1;
   on Masaccio, 151, 202, 223–235, 260;
   His new principles, 224;
   Early Florentine period, 225–237;
   Adoration of the Magi, 233–236;
   Madonna of the Rocks, 236;
   First Milanese period, 238–240;
   Last Supper, 239–240;
   Second Florentine Period; Mona Lisa, Anghiari, 239–241;
   Second Milanese Period; St. Ann, Second Madonna of the Rocks,
   Roma and France, 244–245;
   His Influence, 245–246;
   Tractate on Painting, 257–260, 285, 286, 287, 290, 292, 300, 371,
      383, 385

 Lomazzo, Paolo, Great Italian painters compared with the poets, 385

 Longhi, Pietro, 444

 Lorenzetti, Ambrogio, 40, 42–45, 72, 76, 79, 84

 Lorenzetti, Pietro, 76–78;
   Followers of, at Assisi, 79;
   Contract for Arezzo altar-piece, 105–106

 Lorenzetti followers, Triumph of Death, Pisa, 88, 89

 Lorenzettian, panoramic style, 86, 126, 172

 Lotto, Lorenzo, 411–413

 Lorenzo de’ Medici, his birth salver, 181–184

 Lorenzo Monaco, Don, 112

 Lorenzo da San Severino, 272

 Lorenzo Veneziano, 326, 327

 Mantegna, Andrea, 333, 337–345, 348, 352, 355, 356.;
   Titian on, 324

 Marcovaldo, Coppo di, 62

 Masaccio (Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Tommaso Guidi), 50, 130–142, 151,

 Masolino da Panicale, 122–127

 Matteo di Giovanni, of Siena, 97–99

 Melozzo da Forlì, 273–274

 Michelangelo Buonarotti, 19, 193, 263;
   perturbing influence on Raphael, 288, 294, 295;
   Early works;
     Doni Madonna, The Bathers, 301–303;
     The Sistine Ceiling, 304–313;
     The Last Judgment, 313–314;
   Defects of his followers, 315;
   Advice on posture, 317,
   on the unity of painting and sculpture, 317, 318, 407, 429

 Michelozzo, 115

 Modern sensibility, in Pontormo, 253;
   Moretto, Lotto, Correggio, Tintoretto, 411

 Moretto of Brescia, 412–413

 Moroni, Giambattista, 423

 Nardo di Cione, 48

 Neroccio di Landi, 100

 Oil Painting, introduced at Florence by Domenico Veneziano, 147,;
   practiced in Lombardy by Antonello da Messina, 345

 Orcagna (Andrea di Cione), 47–50;
   Contract for Strozzi altar-piece, 56

 Ottaviano Nelli, 271

 Palma Giovine, on Titian’s technique, 390

 Palma Vecchio, 407, 411

 Paolo Veronese (Caliari), 436–440

 Pastoral poetry as background of Giorgione’s inventions, 370–374

 Perspective, discovery by Brunellesco, 110,;
   Uccello’s experiments in, 144, 152;
   Piero della Francesca’s book on, 169;
   Mantegna’s illusionistic, 337, 339–340;
   further developed by Correggio, 340, 415–416

 Perugino (Pietro Vannucci), 117, 178, 223, 265, 269, 276–280, 283, 288,
    297, 267, 271, 273, 278–282, 285, 290, 299

 Pesellino, Francesco, 181

 Piero della Francesca, 169–172, 201, 273

 Pollaiuolo, Antonio, 158, 166–169, 201, 205

 Piero di Cosimo, 177, 202, 221–223, 246

 Pintorricchio, 101, 174

 Pisanello (Antonio Pisano), 328

 Plague banners, Umbrian, 263, 313

 Poliziano, Angelo, his poetry as an inspiration for Botticelli,
    Raphael, Titian, 255–256

 Pontormo (Jacopo Carrucci), 253

 Poussin, Nicholas, derives from Raphael and the Eclectics, 458

 Raphael Sanzio, 19, 256, 263;
   His Umbrian beginnings, 282–283.
   At Florence, 283–288.
   At Rome, The Segnatura, 289–293;
   Stanze of Heliodorus and of the Incendio, 294–296.

 Realists, Early Florentine, enumerated, 143

 Reni, Guido, 465–466

 Reynolds, Sir Joshua, on the Grand style, 318–319

 Rodin, Auguste, on Michelangelo, 313

 Roman revival before 1300, 16

 Rosa, Salvator, 456–457

 Rosselli, Cosimo, 172, 221

 Rubens, Peter Paul,
   his praise of Leonardo, 258,
   derives from Titian, 468

 Sannazaro, Jacopo, 373, 374

 Sassetta (Stefano di Giovanni), 72, 90–92

 Sebastiano del Piombo, 295, 408–409

 Signorelli, Luca, 176, 273–278

 Sistine Chapel, early frescoes analyzed, 173–179

 Savonarola, Fra Girolamo, 193, 215, 217, 302

 St. Dominic, 8, 52

 Siena, the Sienese temperament illustrated, 59–61;
   its artistic conservation, 61

 Simone Martini, 72–76, 267

 Sodoma (Antonio Bazzi), 102, 471

 Squarcione, Francesco, School of, 334

 Starnina, Gherardo, 50

 Tempera, painting in, 5, 6

 Tiepolo, Giovanni Battista, 440–442, 444

 Tintoretto (Jacopo Robusti), 424–435

 Titian of Cadore (Tiziano Vecellio), 256, 389–408, 418–423.
   His calculating character and technique, 389–390;
   his four periods, 390–391;
   Early, Giorgionesque period, 392–398;
   (1515–1533), 396–404;
   (1533–1548), 404–407;
   (1548–1577), subjective and impressionistic phase, 418–423.
   Lodovico Dolce on T’s impressionism in landscape, 446;
   G. F. Watt on T’s classical quality, 446

 Tommé, Luca, 86

 Torriti (Jacopo), 12

 Uccello, Paolo, 143–144, 152, 201, 334

   its characteristics, 266–267;
   foreign painters in, 267

 Vasari, Giorgio, on Masaccio, 151;
   on Paolo Uccello, 152;
   on a Trick to get a chapel, 196–197;
   on the “Modern style,” 316, 317;
   boasts of his own dexterity, 451.

 Velasquez, draws from Caravaggio and the Italian Tenebrists, 456, 470

 Venice, its colorful aspect, and nature of its civilization, 323–326

 Veronese, see Paolo Veronese

 Veronese, early panoramic manner, 328–330, 331

 Verrocchio, Andrea, 158, 201, 203, 227–230

 Villani, Giovanni, summary of Florence, 9, 54–56

 Villani, Matteo, on the relaxation of Florentine morals after the
    plague of 1348, 110–111

 Vivarini, Antonio, 330, 363

 Vivarini, Bartolommeo, 362, 363

 Vivarini, Alvise, 363


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The third edition was revised from end to end—590 poems added, pages
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                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES

 1. Silently corrected obvious typographical errors and variations in
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 5. Enclosed bold font in =equals=.
 6. Denoted superscripts by a caret before a single superscript
      character, e.g. M^r.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A history of Italian painting" ***