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a striking foil to the blunt physiognomy of his kinsman Leo X. Brought up by his uncle Lorenzo, he, too, is a discriminating patron of art and literature. Commissioned by him, Raphael and Michael Angelo will execute their masterpieces in sculpture and painting, the Transfiguration and the monuments in San Lorenzo; and by his orders the Laurentian Library will be built, and Machiavelli's history written. His rule in Florence is beneficent, and he will leave it much regretted by his fellow-citizens when he goes to Rome as Clement VII. With him will come his wards, the young princes Ippolito and Alessandro, hereafter to be respectively Cardinal and Duke, the one with as much vocation for the Church as the other for the State. There is, already, smouldering jealousy between these two, which will end hereafter in the tragic death of the first by the agency of the second, to be expiated later by his treacherous assassination at the hands of another kinsman. They will, no doubt, be most curious to see what their young companion and friend is about, and will leave their guardian in grave converse with the master, to visit Messer Giorgio's easel. Holding fast by the Cardinal's hand we may perhaps see a little girl cousin, whose serious dark eyes have, even in their baby glance, something of the subtle intelligence of her race. Look well at the decorous little maiden in her prim brocade, for she will play a great part in history—the mother of three kings and two fair queens, she will herself rule the destinies of France for many a year, and will never fail, whatever her political errors, in the consummate tact and personal dignity required by her high station. Of her boy playfellows Catherine already prefers her cousin, for Ippolito is handsome and gentle, while Alessandro is dark-tempered and apt to be rough in his play with his little sister. Catherine has another cousin, born in the same year as herself— distant in blood but closely akin in spirit, whom she has never seen as yet, but whose policy will often cross hers in the years to come, though they will always address each other as loving kinsfolk. For Catherine will rather favour those cousins by their mother's side—her aunt's sons, the Strozzi brethren, who will hold high places in her kingdom, and will ever remain Duke Cosmo's implacable enemies. These are the figures of the court; but there are others to whom their state and splendour are distasteful—austere-visaged burghers, in sober raiment, who come to look at Andrea's work, hoping to find it inferior to that of Baccio della Porta, brother of St. Mark's, and who mutter between their teeth the predictions and denunciations of that other friar, whose ashes not so long ago strewed the Piazza della Signoria. Brother artists, too, will come to criticise or admire, Buonarroti, with his rough-hewn face, and that swaggering silversmith Benvenuto Cellini, who will boast erelong of having slain the Constable Bourbon at the storming of Rome. To all, we may be sure—customers and critics, friends and foes— timorous soul and lived in times when enmity meant assassination, and he who had not teeth or claws of his own was apt to fall a prey to those of others. He had, however, a powerful friend and patron in one of that race, who, whatever their merits or demerits as rulers, never failed to associate their name with whatever was best in the artistic and literary culture of their native city. Ottaviano de' Medici, head of that collateral branch of the family which still survives in Naples and in Tuscany, had no official post under the regency of Giulio, but had nevertheless a great deal of the actual government of Florence in his hands, particularly during the frequent absences of the Cardinal on missions connected with the general interests of the Church. His house was on the site of that long, low palace opposite Saint Mark's, whose door is still surmounted by his shield with the six embossed spheres, though the Cross of Savoy above them proclaims its present use as a government office. Here Andrea painted with all secrecy and despatch that picture whose strange story is told in the gossiping pages of Vasari, and which owes its
existence to a pious fraud on the part of Ottaviano, in order to
preserve to his native city one of its artistic treasures. For the Duke of Mantua on going through the Florence gallery had expressed such admiration of Raphael's portrait of Leo X. that the Cardinal had promised it to him as a present, and Ottaviano, not approving of his cousin's generosity, had plotted to deceive both him and the Duke. Sending for Andrea to his own house, he commissioned him to produce in all haste an exact copy of Raphael's work, which, when completed, was indistinguishable from the original, and was sent to Mantua in its place. There it deceived even the practised eye of Giulio Romano, who, seeing it some years later, believed he recognised the strokes of his own brush in portions of the drapery, and was only convinced of the substitution when Vasari gave him circumstantial details of the way in which it had been effected, and even showed him a secret mark made by Andrea to identify his work. This is the picture actually in the Museum of Naples, and considered by many connoisseurs a finer work than the original, from which it now differs in the richer mellowing it has acquired with time. It is, at any rate, the most wonderful copy in existence, and shows Andrea's consummate mastery of the technical part of his art. Another secret commission confided to Andrea was the execution of a pictorial jew d'esprit known as that of the Impiccati, whose wit consisted in the portraiture on the walls of the Mercatanzia, in Via Condotta, of some of the fugitives from the siege gibbeted by one foot. Such was his fear of giving offence, that he only undertook it on condition of painting at it by might, while another affected to do so by day; but his precautions were vain, for his work betrayed him, and the trained eyes of his fellow-citizens recognised it immediately. His visit to the Court of France at the invitation of Francis I. was his ruin, for though he was treated there with all honour and distinction, Lucrezia never ceased from importunities and lamentations until she persuaded him to abandon his undertakings there, break faith with the King, and return to Florence. Vasari says that he would gladly have resumed his engagements when it was too late, for he did not find it easy to get back into the old groove at home. The palmy days of art in Florence were drawing to a close, the ruling family—having lost its chief prop when the power of Clement was broken by the sack of Rome in 1527—had left the city, and many of the rich and influential patrons of art either shared their exile, or were in political retirement and disgrace at home. The morose and fanatical Piagnoni were in power once more, and were gathering their strength for the coming life and death struggle. The ominous word plague was beginning to be heard in the city, and war and famine were to add their horrors to those of its ghastly ravages. The imperial and papal parties meantime, recovered from their temporary collapse in Italy, had combined against the republic, and on October 14, 1529, their troops, under the command of the Prince of Orange, began to take up their positions on the heights to the south of Florence. The winter that followed was one of sore distress, combined with much martial enthusiasm, and in the strain and agitation of the great crisis, art and artists were forgotten. The man who could only handle brush and pencil, instead of pike and matchlock, was but a useless mouth where bread was scarce and mouths too many; and when it was rumoured that Andrea del Sarto was dead, his fellow-citizens were too busy and too troubled to take much heed. One said he had died of plague, another of hunger, but the exact circumstances and time seem never to have been ascertained with certainty. In dire distress according to the general belief, untended and alone, and probably in consequence of the mental suffering undergone by his sensitive and timorous nature in the previous months of tribulation, the ‘painter without errors’ died in the year 1530, in his house in the Via San Sebastiano, at the age of forty-two. He is buried within a stone's throw of the spot, in front of the high altar of the church of the Servites, which is adorned with some of his masterpieces. His sphere of activity during life was mainly compassed by the walls of his native city, where he still lives in his works, and in the memory of his fellow citizens. Fame seems nowhere so personal and familiar as in Florence, where every playful epithet and fond inflection of the tender Tuscan tongue, seemingly fugitive as the wave-print on the sands, has been petrified in history, like the fossil ripple on the rock. Who would not prefer the homely diminutive by which every beggar in Florence still claims the peasant boy of the fifteenth century as “our Donatello, to the most pompous epitaph in Westminster Abbey? Could any prince confer a title so proud in its humility, so ennobling of its commonplace associations, as that of the tailor's son known to all lands and to all time by his father's lowly trade? Nowhere, even in Italy, does the past of history seem so near and
departed heroes. Rome is too vast a necropolis for memory to disentangle any one set of associations from the phantom hosts that haunt her stately ruins; Naples, too glorified in living beauty to admit, while gazing on it, a thought save of the present; Venice, too pathetically discrowned in her widowed mourning, for the records of her past glories to seem aught save a bitter mockery of her actual decay. But in Florence no abrupt gulf seems to separate tradition from reality, and amid many changes much of the past still remains. She has indeed lost her girdle of mediaeval strength, and sees a stony leprosy of new masonry spreading towards her gates, but holds intact in her inmost heart precious relics as yet spared by modern innovation to old associations, and is in essentials little changed since the days when her princes were poets, and her populace connoisseurs. We still cross the river by Orcagna's bridge and leave the city by Orcagna's gate—still see the pulpit where Savonarola preached, the cell where Cosmo prayed, the stone on which Dante sat in meditation —and still look from the tower defended by Buonarroti to the villa where Boccaccio laid his romance, across the narrow circuit so thrice hallowed by art, by patriotism, and by religion. Within that circuit are still contained all Andrea's best works, which is perhaps the reason that his reputation abroad is scarcely as great as he deserves, and that the traveller visiting Florence for the first time is often surprised to find how high a place he holds among the great colour-poets of his day. In the city or its immediate vicinity are all his frescoes, and in this branch of his art he ranks second to none. Vasari says that ‘he showed the manner of painting in fresco with perfect union, and without retouching much on the dry plaster, so that all his works appear as if completed in one day.” In his fresco of the “Last Supper’ in the monastery of San Salvi, outside the walls of Florence, the colours have the strength and depth of oil. This work saved the monastery in 1529, when the patriotic citizens decreed the demolition of all suburban buildings calculated to give shelter to the enemy in his approaches to the walls. Many beautiful and interesting monuments were sacrificed, but the party entrusted with the work of destruction outside the Porta alla Croce stayed their hands at the sight of Andrea's fresco, and spared the monastery for its sake. The Triumph of Caesar, painted, by order of Leo X., on the walls of the villa at Poggio a Caiano, the Life of St. John at the Scalzo, and of the Madonna and St. Philip Benizi at the Santissima Annunziata, are among his principal works in fresco; but his masterpiece is the lunette over a door in the cloisters of the latter church, where he has painted the “Repose in Egypt; and if we compare the impressive force of the treatment with the simplicity of the subject, we shall not be surprised at the celebrity of this famous group. It tells its story, not by Oriental landscape or conventional accessories of travel, but by the abandon of weariness and rest in the expression and attitudes of the figures. St. Joseph, reading from
takes its name ; while the Madonna, sunk on the road in utter lassitude, looks towards the spectator with an expression of almost stupefied fatigue, that touches Lucrezia's familiar features with a sublime pathos. The vigorous and splendid boy in her arms alone seems fresh and full of life, as if his companions had allowed him to feel none of the weariness of the way.
Vasari specially praises Andrea for his chiaroscuro, and for his mastery of the art of giving relief by subtle gradation of tone, instead of heaviness of shadow, so that his figures seem to stand, not on a mere painted surface, but on a background of liquid atmosphere. In a shadowed clearness as of twilight we see his solemn group of saints disputing on the Trinity, and seem to listen to their superhuman counsels as we gaze on the rapt earnestness of their faces, while the grave harmony of tone has no note of discord with the sublimity of the subject. In the foreground of this picture is a kneeling female figure with her back to the spectator, which as a piece of flesh treatment can scarcely be matched in the works of any painter, and more nearly approaches to antique marble. Here, as in Greek sculpture, the appearance of the softness and suppleness of nature is given by almost insensible gradation of relief, without the exaggeration of a single muscle; outline is distinct yet intangible, and we seem rather to feel than see the tender modelling of the form. As Andrea scarcely ever painted a figure even partially undraped like this, it is the more valuable as a proof that he refrained not from incapacity, but from a sense that such treatment would have been out of keeping with his subjects; in fact, from that calm artistic self-control, so wanting in Michael Angelo, who because he had studied anatomy could not bear to disguise a single muscle.
In the room adjoining that which contains the • Dispute ' is a small Annunciation by Andrea, which seems painted with a brush dipped in flame; yet while colour is here raised to the highest point of burning purity, we can as little call it glaring as the sunset sky which seems to open to our view the shadowless fires of heaven itself. It is a long panel, on which the two figures-robed the one in roseate orange, the other in ethereal crimson-are divided by a flood of golden light veiling the landscape in a luminous haze, while a heavy curtain falling at each side frames the celestial vision in a mass of neutral tint, like the tone of an evening cloud against the sunset which has forsaken it.
The Pitti contains a great number of other works by AndreaHoly Family, a Descent from the Cross, two large Assumptions, and several portraits of himself, one of them taken with his wife, in the act of showing her a letter, with a pleading expression, while she looks towards the spectator with an immovable look of resolve on her handsome features. In the same gallery is the beautiful St. John, which has just been the subject of an interesting experiment, having undergone the process of cleaning, newly invented in Italy, by which