« НазадПродовжити »
though they dealt in skins or spices instead of Assumptions and Holy Families. It is from this point of view, as an illustration of the conditions of art in his time, that his life is worth studying ; less in its details than in its general bearing. He was born in 1487, not in Florence but in the adjacent district of Gualfonda, where his greatgrandfather had been an agricultural labourer, his grandfather a linenweaver, and where his parents, Agnolo and Costanza, still lived during his infancy. He was but seven years old when he was apprenticed to a goldsmith, for the mechanical part of whose trade he displayed, however, a decided aversion, while he showed such marked taste for drawing that Gian Barile, an inferior artist, took him into his own workshop next door, and finally recommended him to his subsequent master, Piero di Cosimo. But this wayward genius, whose erratic fancy was far beyond his powers of execution, seems to have had little influence in producing the methodical perfection of the painter without errors ;' and the cartoons of Da Vinci and Buonarroti, and the frescoes of Masaccio and Ghirlandaio were Andrea's true school. It is also evident that he studied attentively the engravings of Albert Dürer, as the chiaroscuros at the Scalzo contain figures in which their style is distinctly traceable. His earliest independent enterprise was opening a shop in the Piazza del Grano in partnership with Francia Bigio, and there he throve and prospered, attaining such reputation as to be entrusted with the execution of the important frescoes illustrating the life of St. Philip Benizi, in the courtyard of the Church of the Servite Fathers. On these, and on the series of the Life of the Virgin,' in the same place, he worked from 1509 to 1514, and in order to be near the scene of his labours he took rooms in the Sapienza close by.
This choice of residence had an important influence on his future life in more ways than one, for in the neighbourhood lived the batter Carlo Recanati, whose blooming wife soon caught the painter's fancy; and in the same block of buildings lodged the architect Sansovino, who became his intimate friend. Here, too, was formed the merry artists' club, called the Company of the Kettle,' each member of which was allowed to bring four guests to their dinners, and was bound to be the bearer of his quota of the provender, being liable to a fine if he hit upon the same dishes as his neighbour. The comic poem of the Battle of the Mice and Frogs,' ascribed by some to Andrea del Sarto, and by others to Ottaviano de' Medici, was composed and recited for the delectation of this gay society; so we may conclude that our artist was something of a poetaster, as well as a lively companion in his hours of recreation. The Trowel Club, founded in 1512, superseded that of the Kettle, and likewise numbered Andrea among its adherents. Its principal object was the performance of burlesques and masquerades, and Machiavelli's
Mandragola’ was thus brought out in 1524, with scenes painted by Del Sarto and Aristotile da San Gallo. The boy princes Alessandro and Ippolito were present at this representation, which gives a strange
These glimpses of Andrea's social surroundings suggest the picture of a gay and brilliant life, amid companions with whom his artistic position evidently counterbalanced his humble origin. But the darker side of his story was that witnessed by his domestic walls, and only partially revealed to the outer world.
Amid the houses occupied by illustrious Florentines, still known and standing to help us to realise more vividly their daily life, is that which Andrea del Sarto built for himself when he was already a prosperous man. It stands at the corner of the Via San Sebastiano and Via del Mandorlo, and is not preserved as a museum like that of Michael Angelo, but let furnished at a moderate rent. Externally it is nowise distinguishable from its neighbours, except by the tablet over the door, recording that “here lived and died, full of public glory and domestic tribulations, Andrew, the tailor's son, surnamed by his contemporaries the painter without errors.” The interior is pretty and cheerful, but without any special record of the great master's presence save the frescoes on the vaulted ceilings, the work not of himself, but of his pupils. The house now stands in a handsome modern quarter of Florence, but was, when built, a pretty rural retreat on the outskirts of the city, where the Servite brothers had just built their gorgeous church, while the adjacent suburban villa of Lorenzo the Magnificent had a pleasant suggestion of sylvan shades in its name Cafaggio or Beechfield. The painter's house has a pretty garden to the rear, with a loggia opening on it from the ground floor, and here the peace-loving, timorous man may well have hoped to enjoy that tranquillity for which he so much craved, but which neither the unquiet age in which he lived nor his own domestic circumstances were calculated to afford him. For he, who was in his thirteenth year at the opening of the sixteenth century, had his lot cast in those troublous days intervening between the expulsion of Piero de' Medici, in 1494, and the final restoration of the dynasty in 1530, and was destined to end his life in the darkest hour of his native city, neglected and forgotten by all, amid the threefold horrors of war, pestilence, and famine.
Political storms might, however, have been disregarded by the umambitious burgher amid the manifold interests of his prosperous career, had he had a happy home for his brief hours of recreation; but such solace was denied him. There sat an unquiet spirit by his hearth to embitter his repose and vex the artist's soul with domestic discord. There surely can be no worse infamy than that of the woman who goes down to posterity as the evil genius of a great man, pilloried, to all time, in the light of his fame. Such an evil notoriety is attached to the memory of Lucrezia del Fede, Andrea's wife, whom he married in 1513, on the death of her first husband, and whose bourgeoise beauty is so strangely familiar to us from his works. This buxom, red-haired dame, whose comely face so often meets us under the Madonna's hood, is accused by the chronicler of having caused customers, of having hindered him from assisting his father and mother, of having driven away his pupils by her violent outbreaks, and finally, after spoiling his career at the Court of France, and inducing him to break faith with Francis I. in order to return to Florence, of having left him in his last hours to die in want and misery. It is but fair to add that Vasari, in his second edition, has somewhat modified this strong invective, but tradition persists in taking the worst view of Madonna Lucrezia's character. It is at all events certain that the pretty house in the Via San Sebastiano was anything but a peaceful refuge to the poor painter, whose domestic woes are recorded on its wall, and who had no great firmness of purpose or strength of character to enable him to bear them. Andrea was an instance of that strange, but not infrequent anomaly, the existence of the first order of genius without exercising any ennobling influence on the rest of the character, but working in the man like a second soul, guiding and directing him in a certain set of actions, while remaining quite extraneous to everything else in his life and conduct. The biography of the artist is thus too often a disappointing study, and we are forced to turn back to his works, in which he has given us the best part of himself, in order to forget the failings and weaknesses that marred his life. I have said that Andrea rose to the head of his profession in Florence, although Michael Angelo and Leonardo were residing there during great part of his active life. They, however, had both too much of the dilettante element, Da Vinci was too slow—he is said to have often given words instead of deeds—Buonarroti too desultory in his mode of work—to compete with Andrea in the practical business of their art. The atelier of a master in those days was a great picture factory, where dozens of works were in progress under the hands of his apprenticed pupils at the same time; all executed from his designs and under his direct superintendence, all receiving, though in varying proportions, a certain amount of his workmanship, but few, if any, the sole product of his own hand. These great workshops were not called schools or studies, but simply shops, and the artist was a plain maestro di bottega, like any hosier or haberdasher of Via Calzaioli or Porta Rossa. There was nothing fraudulent in the system of execution, for it was openly practised and fully recognised, and a customer who had ordered a picture of Andrea might look in any day and see it progressing under the brush of Iacone or Domenico Puligo, of Nannoccio or Andrea Sguazzella, and might stipulate that the face of the Madonna or the drapery of the patron-saint should receive the last touches from the master's hand. The impress of the artist's genius was, however, stamped on everything that left his workshop, and posterity has on the whole reason to be grateful to the system of joint labour, which multiplied indefinitely the great master's power of production, and raised the work of his pupils, by the influence of his presence and pre
that it opened the door to much spurious imitation in later times, and perhaps to a greater extent in regard to the work of Andrea del Sarto than of any other artist, as many of the pictures passing under his name would do no credit to the worst of his scholars.
We may well believe that these coarse forgeries were never produced in that busy studio, where his pupils were reduced to so many sets of deft fingers guided by one supreme intelligence, and where we can in fancy see the master with pale thoughtful brow and dark eyes, in his flat cap and working blouse or doublet, going from easel to easel, here commending, there reproving, or again with a few touches of his magic brush producing in a moment the effect that the pupil had been labouring for hours to attain. Meantime some important work rapidly growing to perfection under his own band would naturally form the admiration of all visitors, and be the talk of Florence, from the palace in Via Larga, to the hucksters' stalls in Mercato Vecchio.
Yet even in this sanctuary of art the painter is not always safe from his domestic troubles, and even here will his household fury sometimes pursue him, loud-voiced and stormy, to disgrace him before the public and lower him in the eyes of his pupils. They, we may be sure, are not slow to point and titter as they see the master cower before the handsome termagant, and take advantage of the momentary distraction to make sly caricatures of the scene behind his back. One of them, a lively and inquisitive young man, a special object of enmity to Madonna Lucrezia, will be in a position to take a signal vengeance on her some years later, when he will write a certain chronicle with her failings unsparingly detailed for the benefit of posterity. This student is from Arezzo, where his family, as his patronymic implies, have been famous potters (another instance of the utilitarian tendency of Renaissance art), and some of the vases made by his grandfather, another Giorgio Vasari, are still to be seen in the collections of Florence. Though not nobly born, he is already high in court favour, sharing the daily studies of the young princes Ippolito and Alessandro, in the former of whom he will later have a friend and patron of much help to him in pushing his fortunes. An ambitious young man and likely to succeed, showing, too, much aptitude for art, though over-fond of doing too much and too rapidly, and anxious to hit upon some expeditious method, some royal road to painting, shorter than that gradual and laborious one which Messer Andrea can show him. He has previously been a pupil of Michael Angelo's, and will to the last retain more stamp of his teaching than of that of his present master, from whose school indeed the sharp tongue and temper of Lucrezia will prematurely drive him.
Another pupil of great promise will also leave it before completing his course, but in his case it is Andrea's jealousy of his talent (alas for human nature !), and consequent harshness, that will compel him to leave, to become a formidable competitor and rival,
genius, this Jacopo Carrucci, better known as a Da Pontormo, from the place of his birth, admired by Raphael and Michael Angelo, and capable of great things; but somewhat unsettled in character, and ever caught by some new model of style. He has already had three masters, Piero di Cosimo, Albertinelli, and Da Vinci, and, ductile as wax, will go through many phases, without ever hardening into a permanent mould. Connoisseurs find in his works in the Certosa examples of three different manners: the first resembling that of Andrea, the second indeterminate, the third a servile imitation of Albert Dürer. A fourth would likewise exist had the whitewashers spared his Deluge and Last Judgment in San Lorenzo, painted in emulation of Buonarroti, to leave to Florence an example of the energetic anatomical style of the Sistine frescoes. Many other disciples sit at the easels in Andrea's workshop: Iacone, and Domenico Puligo, a pair who, despite much talent and facility, have something of the scapegrace in their dispositions, and prefer the pursuit of pleasure to that of honour; and beside them Domenico Conti, the constant friend of the master and future heir of his designs, who will erect a monument to him after his death. Messer Giorgio Vasari, however, tells us that few of these students remain long, or can stand for a continuance the shrewish temper of the painter's wife. Madonna Lucrezia, however, is not always there to rave and scold, but sometimes serene and placid, hooded and draped as model for Our Lady, with some other woman's boy in her arms, for she herself is childless. The fair fury is then tame enough, for she likes well to see herself the central figure of her husband's glorious groups, receiving reverent homage from saints and angels. Woe betide Andrea should he attempt to employ another model; no other ideal of female beauty than his wife's commonplace good looks is ever to be permitted to him, and public and patrons must equally content themselves with Lucrezia as the sole type of all that is excellent and lovely in woman. Other figures come and go in the busy painter's shop, for there all the notabilities of Florence will frequently gather to see some great work before it leaves the easel. There we may see the courtly figure of Philip Strozzi, with no shadow of the future on his handsome features; and by his side, striplings yet, those high-spirited sons, all doomed to die in exile, leaving no descendants after the third generation. There too, accompanied by a brilliant train of courtiers and companions, will come his Magnificence the Duke of Urbino, Captain of Holy Church, whom a greater artist than Andrea will one day pourtray keeping guard over his own sepulchre in profoundest meditation, as though the clay were waiting there for the spirit to reanimate it and share its doom. Later there will come, with all the state of a prince temporal and spiritual, in the purple and fine linen of a great churchman, the Cardinal Legate, virtual ruler of Florence. We know Giulio's face well, for in Raphael's great picture his handsome olive-tinged features, and subtly-smiling dark eyes, form