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Full text of "Stories Of The Italian Artists From Vasari"

125410 



STORIES FROM VASAR.I 




FROM ^VAS Alii 

A1&AN6ED&AND 




PREFACE 

THE title of this book seems to me to describe 
its contents so clearly that there will be no need 
to say much in explanation of its purport. I 
have tried in these stories to give an idea of 
the liveliness of the Renaissance in Italy and 
of that exuberant enjoyment of the revived arts, 
which finds such vivid expression in the pages 
of Vasari. That he is often incorrect has of 
course been discovered long since. As he 
himself said, "If writers of history were to 
live somewhat longer than is usually granted 
to the course of human life, they would often 
have to alter the things written by them; for 
as it is not possible that one man, however 
diligent he may be, should in so short a time 
discover all the truth, so it is as clear as the sun 
that Time, who is called the father of truth, 
will daily discover to students new things." 
As this book, however, has no pretensions to 
be a critical work, I have simply followed 



vi PREFACE 

Vasari, and tell the tales as nearly as I can in 
his own words. His treatment of Raphael has 
been attributed to prejudice, and indeed he was 
such a devoted disciple of Michael Angelo, and 
so vain of his intimacy with the great man, that 
his judgment could scarcely be unbiassed. Many 
great names will be missed here, for Vasari's 
account is often confined to a bare description 
of the painter's works with a meagre outline 
of his life ; and it must not be forgotten that 
he did not carry on his history to the later 
painters, such as Tintoretto and Veronese. 



CONTENTS 

CHAP, . PAGE 

I. CIMABUE AND GIOTTO j 

II. THE GADDI AND BUFFALMACCO . . 13 

III. ANDREA DE CIONE ORCAGNA, SPINELLO, DELLO, 

AND PAOLO UCCELLO 31 

IV. LUCA DELLA ROBBIA AND LORENZO GHIBERTI . 45 
V. FILIPPO DI SER BRUNELLESCO . . -55 

VI. DONATELLO 72 

VII. ;FRA ANGELICO 8l 

VIII. ANTONELLO DA MESSINA, ANDREA DAL CAS- 

TAGNO, AND DOMENICO VENEZIANO . . , 86 

IX. FILIPPO LIPPI AND BOTTICELLI ... 96 



X. PIERO DELLA FRANCESCA AND LUCA SIGNORELLI 106 

V 

XL GHIRLANDAJO, COSIMO ROSSELLI, AND PIERO DI 

COSIMO 112 

XII. FRA BARTOLOMMEO AND MARIOTTO ALBERTI- 

NELLI 126 

/ 

XIII. THE BELLINI AND ANDREA MANTEGNA . .134 

XIV. tSoNARDO DA VINCI 140 



viii CONTENTS 

CHAP. PACE 

XV. GIORGIONE AND FRA SEBASTIANO DEL PIOMBO 1 62 

XVI. PERUGINO AND RAFFAELLO . . . , 17 1 

XVII. ANDREA DEL SARTO 1 86 

XVIII. MATURING AND POLIDORO AND MONSIGNORI . 199 

XIX. IL ROSSO 208 

XX. PARMIGIANO 215 

XXI. PERINO DEL VAGA 222 

XXII. BACCIO BANDINELLI 233 

XXIII. RUSTICI 248 

XXIV. SALVIATI 258 

XXV. TITIAN 269 

XXVI. MICHAEL ANGELO 278 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



COLOURED PLATES 

THE CRUCIFIXION (after the central portion of 
the fresco by Perugino in the Convent of 
S. Maria Maddalena d Pazzi at Flor- 
ence) Frontispiece 

PAGE 

3. FRANCIS FEEDING THE BIRDS (after the fresco 
by Giotto in the Church of S. Francis at 
Assist) .... . To face 7 

THE ENTOMBMENT (after the fresco by Fra 
Angelico in the Convent of 5. Mark at 
Florence) ,,82 

THE VISION OF S. BERNARD (from the painting 
by Filippino Lippi in the Badia at Flor- 
ence) . 99 

THE DEATH OF S. FRANCIS (after the fresco by 
Ghirlandajo in the Church of S. Trinfta at 

Florence) , ,,115 

ix b 



x LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

THE VIRGIN AND CHILD (after the fresco by Fra 
Bartolommeo in the Convent of S. Marfc 
at Florence) To face 131 

THE NATIVITY (after the fresco by Pinturicchio 
in the Church of S. Maria del Popolo at 
Rome) ,,176 

THE PROCESSION OF THE MAGI ON THEIR WAY 
TO BETHLEHEM (after the fresco by Andvtq 
del Sarto in the Cloister of the Annunziata 
at Florence) , 188 



HALF-TONE PLATES 
THE VIRGIN AND CHILD. (Cimabue) 4 

S. JOACHIM RETIRES HUMILIATED TO HIS FLOCKS 

IN THE WILDERNESS. (Giotto) 9 

THE MARTYRDOM OF S. CATHERINE. (Buffal- 

macco) ,,26 

PART OF AN ALTAR-PIECE (fainted for the 
Church of S. Pietro Maggiore at Florence^ 
now in the National Gallery, London). 
(Orcagna) ,,33 

EPISODE IN THE LIFE OF POPE ALEXANDER 

III, (Spinello) ,,36 

MEETING OF S. DOMINIC AND S. FRANCIS. 

(Andrea della Robbia) 47 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS xi 

PAGE 

BRONZE GATES OF THE BAPTISTERY AT FLOR- 
ENCE. (Ghiberti) .... To face 52 

GENERAL GATTAMELATA. (Donatetto) 76 

HEAD or THE VIRGIN. (Filippo Lippi) . 96 

THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI. (Botticelli) . 101 

VIRGIN AND CHILD WITH S. JEROME AND S. 

FRANCIS. (Gentile Bellini) . . . 137 

PARNASSUS. (Mantegnd) . . . 138 

THE ANNUNCIATION. (Lorenzo di Credi) . 143 

DETAIL OF "Two ANGELS" (from the "S. 
John baptizing Christ"} (Verocchio and 

Lionardo da Vinci) ,,146 

MONNA LISA. (Lionardo da Vinci) . . . 154 

POPE CLEMENT VII. (Sebastiano delPiombd) . 168 

POPE LEO X. BETWEEN CARDINAL DE J MEDICI 

AND CARDINAL DE' Rossi. (Raffaello) . 194 

HEAD OF A SAINT, (Francesco Monsignon) . 203 

ALEXANDER FARNESE EMBRACED BY MINERVA. 

(Parmigtano) ,,217 

GALATEA. (Perino del Vaga) 224 

PORTRAIT OF JACOPA DONI. ( Charcoal drawing?) 

(Bandinelli) 5 , 234 



xii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

SACRED AND PROFANE LOVE. (Titian) . To face 276 



PAGE 



MARBLE PIETA IN S. PETER'S, ROME. (Michael 

Angela) 290 

DAVID. (Michael Angelo) . . . . ,, 291 



The design on the title-page of this volume was drawn by 
Mrs. Harding Andrews from the middle thirteenth century 
B.M. Royal MS. 2, B. ii., and the binding- design is copied 
from a fine fifteenth century example in the Laurentian Library, 
Florence. The letterpress is wholly revised from a previous 
publication. 



STORIES FROM VASARI 

CHAPTER I 

CIMABUE AND GIOTTO 

THE great flood of misfortunes, by which poor 
Italy had been afflicted and overwhelmed, had 
not only reduced to ruins all buildings of note 
throughout the land, but what was of far more 
importance, had caused an utter lack of the very 
artists themselves. At this time, when the supply 
seemed entirely exhausted, in the year 1 240, by 
the will of God, there was born in the city of 
Florence, Giovanni, surnamed Cimabue, of the 
noble family of that name, who was to shed the 
first light on the art of painting. He, as he 
grew, being judged by his father and others to 
possess a fine acute intellect, was sent to S. Maria 
Novella to be instructed in letters by a relative of 
his who taught grammar to the novices of that 
convent. But instead of attending to his lessons, 
Cimabue spent all the day in painting on his 
books and papers, men, horses, houses, and such 



2 STORIES FROM VASARI 

things. To this natural inclination fortune was 
favourable, for certain painters of Greece, who 
had been summoned by the rulers of Florence to 
restore the almost forgotten art of painting in 
the city, began at this time to work in the chapel 
of the Gondi in S. Maria Novella ; and Cimabue 
would often escape from school and stand all day 
watching them, until his father and the painters 
themselves judging that he was apt for painting, 
he was placed under their instruction. Nature, 
however, aided by constant practice, enabled him 
greatly to surpass both in design and colouring 
the masters who had taught him. For they, 
never caring to advance in their art, did every- 
thing not in the good manner of ancient Greece, 
but after the rude manner of those times. 

He painted in churches both in Florence and 
Pisa, and made the name of Cimabue famous 
everywhere, on which account he was summoned 
to Assisi, a city of Umbria, to paint in company 
with some Greek masters the lower church of 
S. Francis. For in those times the order of the 
Minor Friars of S. Francis having been confirmed 
by Pope Innocent III., both the devotion and the 
numbers of the. friars grew so great not only in 
Italy, but in all parts of the world, that there was 
scarcely a city of any account which did not 
build for them churches and convents at great 
expense. Two years before the death of S- 



CIMABUE AND GIOTTO 3 

Francis, while that saint was absent preaching, 
Fra Elia was prior in Assisi, and built a church 
for our Lady ; but when S. Francis was dead, and 
all Christendom was coming to visit the body of 
a saint who in life and death was known by all to 
have been the friend of God, and every man at 
the holy spot was making gifts according to his 
power, it was ordained that the church begun by 
Fra E1& should be made much larger and more 
magnificent. But there being a scarcity of good s 
architects, and the work needing an excellent one, 
for it was necessary to build on a very steep hill 
at the roots of which runs a torrent called Tescio, 
after much consideration they brought to Assisi, 
as the best architect that could then be found, 
one Master Jacopo Tedesco. He having con- 
sidered the site, and heard the will of the Fathers, 
who held a chapter-general for the purpose in 
Assisi, designed a very fine church and convent, 
making in the model three storeys, one below 
ground, and two churches, one of which on the 
first slope should serve as the vestibule, having a 
very large colonnade round it, and the other for 
the sanctuary. And he arranged that you should 
go up from the first to the second by a most 
convenient order of stairs, which wound round 
the larger chapel, dividing into two, to enter the 
second church. To this he gave the form of a 
T, making it five times as long as it was wide. 



4 STORIES FROM VASARI 

In the larger chapel of the lower church was 
placed the altar, and below it, when it was 
finished, was laid with solemn ceremonies the 
body of S. Francis. And because the tomb 
which encloses the body of the glorious saint is 
in the first, that is the lowest church, which no 
one ever enters, the doors of it are walled up, 
and around the altar are gratings of iron, with 
rich ornaments of marble and mosaic. This work 
was brought to a conclusion in the space of four 
years, and no more, by the skill of Master 
Jacopo and the careful labours of Fra Elii. 
After his death there were made round the lower 
church twelve fine towers, and in each of them a 
staircase from the ground to 'the top, and in time 
there were added many chapels and many rich 
ornaments: As for Master Jacopo, by this work 
he acquired such fame through all Italy that he 
was called to Florence, and received there with 
the greatest honour possible, although according 
to the habit the Florentines have (and used to 
have still more) of shortening names, they called 
him not Jacopo but Lapo all the days of his 
life. 

So in the lower church Cimabue painted in 
company with the Greeks, and greatly surpassed 
the Greek painters. Therefore, his courage 
rising, he began to paint by himself in fresco 
in the upper church, and painted many things, 




DKTAIL KKOM TUB VIKCilN AND CIIIU). 
(ISStti J 



CIMABUE AND GIOTTO 5 

especially the ascent of the Virgin into heaven, 
and the Holy Spirit descending upon the 
apostles. This work, being truly very great 
and rich and well executed, must in my judg- 
ment have astonished the world in those days, 
painting having been so long in such darkness, 
and to myself, who saw it in the year 1563, it 
appeared most beautiful, and I marvelled how 
Cimabue could have had such light in the midst 
of such heavy gloom. Being called to Florence, 
however, Cimabue did not continue his labours, 
but they were finished many years after by 
Giotto, as we will tell in its place. 

After his return to Florence he made for the 
church of S, Maria Novella a picture of our 
Lady, which work was of larger size than those 
that had been made before that time, and the 
angels that stand round, although they are in 
the Greek manner, yet show something of the 
modern style. Therefore this work caused such 
marvel to the people of that time, never having 
seen a better, that it was borne in solemn pro- 
cession with trumpets and great rejoicing from 
the house of Cimabue to the church, and he 
himself received great honours and rewards. It 
is said, and you may read it in certain records 
of old pictures, that while Cimabue was paint- 
ing this picture, King Charles of Anjou passed 
through Florence, and among other entertain- 



6 STORIES FROM VASARI 

ments provided for him by the people of the 
city, 'they took him to see Cimabue's picture ; 
and as no one had seen it before it was shown 
to the king, there was a great concourse of all 
the men and women of Florence to see it, with 
the greatest rejoicing and running together in 
the world. From the gladness of the whole 
neighbourhood that part was called Borgo- 
Allegri, the Joyful Quarter, and though it is 
now within the walls of the city, it has always 
preserved the same name. 

Now in the year 1276, in the country of 
Florence, about fourteen miles from the city, 
in the village of Vespignano, there was born to 
a simple peasant named Bondone a son, to whom 
he gave the name of Giotto, and whom he 
brought up according to his station. And when 
he had reached the age of ten years, showing 
in all his ways though still childish an extra- 
ordinary vivacity and quickness of mind, which 
made him beloved not only by his father but 
by all who knew him, Bondone gave him the 
care of some sheep. And he leading them for 
pasture, now to one spot and now to another, 
was constantly driven by his natural inclination 
to draw on the stones or the ground some object 
in nature, or something that came into his mind. 
One day Cimabue, going on business from 
Florence to Vespignano, found Giotto, while his 




S, PKAMI.S I''KKIUN(J T1IK ItlKKS. 



CIMABUE AND GIOTTO 7 

sheep were feeding, drawing a sheep from nature 
upon a smooth and solid rock with a pointed 
stone, having never learnt from any one but 
nature. Cimabue, marvelling at him, stopped 
and asked him if he would go and be with him. 
And the boy answered that if his father were 
content he would gladly go. Then Cimabue 
asked Bondohe for him, and he gave him up 
to him, and was content that he should take 
him to Florence. There in a little time, by the 
aid of nature and the teaching of Cimabue, the 
boy not only equalled his master, but freed 
himself from the rude manner of the Greeks, 
and brought back to life the true art of painting, 
introducing the drawing from nature of living 
persons, which had not been practised for two 
hundred years ; or at least if some had tried it, 
they had not succeeded very happily. Giotto 
painted among others, as may be seen to this 
day in the chapel of the Podesti's Palace at 
Florence, Dante Alighieri, his contemporary and 
great friend, and no less famous a poet than 
Giotto was a painter. 

After this he was .called to Assisi by Fra 
Giovanni di Muro, at that time general of the 
order of S. Francis, and painted in fresco in the 
upper church thirty-two stories from the life 
and deeds of S, Francis, which brought him 
great fame. It is no wonder therefore that 



8 STORIES FROM VASARI 

Pope Benedict sent one of his courtiers into 
Tuscany to see what sort of a man he was and 
what his works were like, for the Pope was 
planning to have some paintings made in S. 
Peter's. This courtier, on his way to see Giotto 
and to find out what other masters of painting 
and mosaic there were in Florence, spoke with 
many masters in Sienna, and then, having received 
some drawings from them, he came to Florence. 
And one morning going into the workshop of 
Giotto, who was at his labours, he showed him 
the mind of the Pope, and at last asked him 
to give him a little drawing to send to his 
Holiness. Giotto, who was a man of courteous 
manners, immediately took a sheet of paper, 
and with a pen dipped in red, fixing his arm 
firmly against his side to make a compass of 
it, with a turn of his hand he made a circle 
so perfect that it was a marvel to see it. 
Having done it, he turned smiling to the 
courtier and said, "Here is the drawing." But 
he, thinking he was being laughed at, asked, 
"Am I to have no other drawing than this?*' 
"This is enough and too much," replied Giotto, 
" send it with the others and see if it will be 
understood." The messenger, seeing that he 
could get nothing else, departed ill pleased, not 
doubting that he had been made a fool of. 
However, sending the other drawings to the 




S, JOACHIM KKI'IKKS IlUMll.fATKI) TO HIS KUKXS IN THE WILDERNESS, 



CIMABUE AND GIOTTO 9 

Pope with the names of those who had made 
them, he sent also Giotto's, relating how he 
had made the circle without moving his arm 
and without compasses, which when the Pope 
and many of his courtiers understood, they saw 
that Giotto must surpass greatly all the other 
painters of his time. This thing being told, 
there arose from it a proverb which is still used 
about men of coarse clay, "You are rounder 
than the O of Giotto," which proverb is not 
only good because of the occasion from which 
it sprang, but also still more for its significance, 
which consists in its ambiguity, tondo, " round," 
meaning in Tuscany not only a perfect circle, 
but also slowness and heaviness of mind. 

So the Pope made him come to Rome, and 
he painted for him in S. Peter's, and there never 
left his hands work better finished ; wherefore 
the Pope, esteeming himself well served, gave 
him six hundred ducats of gold, besides having 
shown him so many favours that it was spoken 
of through all Italy. 

After Giotto was returned to Florence, Robert, 
King of Naples, wrote to his eldest son, Charles, 
King of Calabria, who was at that time in Flor- 
ence, that he must by some means or other send 
him Giotto to Naples. Giotto, hearing himself 
called by a king so famous and so much praised, 
went very willingly to serve him, and did many 



io STORIES FROM VASARI 

works which pleased the king greatly. And he 
was so much beloved by him that the king 
would often visit him, and took pleasure in 
watching him and listening to his conversation, 
and Giotto, who had always some jest or some 
witty answer ready, would converse with him 
while going on with his painting. So one day 
the king saying to him that he would make 
him the first man in Naples, Giotto answered, 
"And that is why I am lodged at the Porta 
Reale, that I may be the first man in Naples." 
And another time the king saying to him, 
" Giotto, if I were you, now that it is hot, I 
would give up painting a little," he answered, 
" And so would I, certainly, if I were you." 

So pleasing the king well, he painted him a 
good number of pictures, and the portraits of 
many famous men, Giotto himself among them ; 
and one day the king, as a caprice, asked him 
to paint his kingdom. Giotto, it is said, painted 
a laden ass with a new load lying at his feet, 
which while it refused it seemed to desire, and 
both on the new and old burden was the royal 
crown and sceptre of power. And when Giotto 
was asked by the king what the picture signified, 
he replied, "Such must be the subjects and such 
the kingdom which every day desired a new lord." 

There are many other stories remaining of the 
witty sayings of Giotto, and besides those that 



CIMABUE AND GIOTTO n 

are told by Boccaccio, Franco Sacchetti tells 
many good ones, some of which I will give in 
Franco's own words. 

"How a man of low station gives Giotto 
the great painter a shield to paint. 

"Every one must have heard of Giotto, who 
was a great painter above any other. A rough 
workman, hearing of his fame, came to Giotto's 
workshop followed by one carrying his shield. 
Arrived there, he found Giotto, and said, * God 
save you, master, I want you to paint my arms 
on this shield.' Giotto, considering the man 
and his manner of speech, said nothing but, 
'When do you want it?' And he told him. 
Giotto said, 'Leave me to do it;' so he went 
away. And Giotto, left alone, said to himself, 
* What did he mean ? Has some sent him for 
a joke? I never had a shield to paint before. 
And this man was a simple fellow, and bade 
me paint his arms as if he were of the royal 
house of France. Certainly I shall have to 
make him some new arms.' So considering the 
matter, he put the shield before him and made 
a design and bade one of his pupils paint it, 
and so it was done. There was a helmet, a 
gorget, a pair of iron gloves, a cuirass, and 
cuisses, a sword, dagger, and lance. So the 
worthy man came again and said, 'Master, is 
my shield painted ? ' Giotto answered, * Cer- 



12 STORIES FROM VASARI 

tainly, bring it down.' But when it came the 
would-be gentleman looked at it and said, 
* What is this you have been painting ? I won't 
pay four farthings for it.' Giotto said, c What 
did you tell me to paint?' And he answered, 
'My arms.' 'Are not they all here?' asked 
Giotto; 'what is wanting? Nay, you are a 
great fool, for if any one were to ask you who 
you are, you would hardly know what to answer ; 
and you come here and say, Paint me my arms. 
What arms do you bear? Whence are you? 
Who were your ancestors? I have painted all 
your armour on the shield, and if there is 
anything else, tell me and I will add it.' But 
the other answered, 'You are giving me vile 
words, and have spoilt my shield.' And he 
went away and summoned Giotto before the 
justice. Giotto appeared, and on his side sum- 
moned him, demanding two florins for his paint- 
ing. And when the court had heard the matter, 
they gave sentence that the man should take his 
shield so painted, and pay six lire to Giotto." 

It is said that when Giotto was only a boy 
with Cimabue, he once painted a fly on the nose of 
a face that Cimabue had drawn, so naturally that 
the master returning to his work tried more than 
once to drive it away with his hand, thinking it 
was real. And I might tell you of many other 
jests played by Giotto, but of this enough. 



CHAPTER II 

THE GADDI AND BUFFALMACCO 

AMONG the old painters who were much alarmed 
by the praises so deservedly bestowed upon 
Cimabue and Giotto was one Margaritone, a 
painter of Arezzo, who having held a high rank 
among those who practised the art in that 
unhappy age became aware that the works of 
these new men would almost entirely eclipse 
his fame. He had been considered excellent 
by the other painters of his time who worked 
in the old Greek style, and had painted many 
pictures in Arezzo, both in tempera and fresco. 
For the church of S. Margherita he painted a 
work on canvas stretched on a panel, in which 
are many pictures containing little figures repre- 
senting stories from the lives of our Lady and 
the saints; and the picture is noteworthy not 
only because the little figures are painted so 
well that they- seem to be miniatures, but also 
because it is a marvel to see a work on canvas 
that has been preserved three hundred years. 
He made a great number of pictures all over 
the city, and having painted on wood a large 



i 4 STORIES FROM VASARI 

crucifix in the Greek style, he sent it to Florence 
to the famous citizen Farinata degli Uberti, 
because he had, among his other great works, 
saved his country from danger and ruin. After- 
wards he gave himself to sculpture with so much 
application that he succeeded much better than 
he had in painting. He died at the age of 
seventy-seven, disgusted, it is said, with life, 
because he had seen the age change so much 
and new artists obtain honour. 

Andrea Tafi for his works in mosaic was 
greatly admired, and he himself was considered 
almost divine; but Gaddo the Florentine, who 
worked with him at Pisa, showed more know- 
ledge of design, and perhaps this arose from 
his friendship with Cimabue. For either through 
conformity of nature or the goodness of their 
hearts, they were united in a close attachment, 
and while discoursing lovingly together over 
the difficulties of their art, the noblest and 
greatest conceptions were ever in their minds. 
And this so much the more because they were 
aided by the subtle air of Florence, which is 
wont to produce ingenious and subtle spirits. 
For those who are studying any science find 
that by conferring together they clear it from 
obscurity and make it more easy. But some 
on the contrary have wickedly made a pro- 
fession of friendship with specious appearance 



THE GADDI AND BUFFALMACCO 15 

of love, only in malice and envy to defraud 
others of their conceptions. True love, however, 
bound together Gaddo and Cimabue, and also 
Andrea Tafi and Gaddo. Andrea took him to 
aid him in the mosaics of S. Giovanni, and 
afterwards he worked alone and applied himself 
to the study of the Greek manner, together 
with that of Cimabue. So his fame being 
spread abroad, he was called to Rome and to 
other cities. Afterwards returning to Florence 
for rest after his labours, he set himself to 
making little tablets of mosaic, some of which 
he made of egg-shells, with incredible patience 
and diligence. He painted also many pictures 
maintaining his reputation, but because the 
manner of painting in those times cannot greatly 
help artists, I will pass them over in silence. 
Gaddo lived seventy- three years, dying in 1312, 
and was honourably buried in S. Croce by 
Taddeo his son, and although he had many 
sons, Taddeo, who had been held at the font 
by Giotto, alone applied himself to painting, 
learning the rudiments from his father and 
the rest from Giotto, who was his master four 
and twenty years. He, surpassing his fellow 
scholars, produced his first works with a facility 
given him by nature rather than by art. He 
was indeed an imitator of Giotto's manner, whom 
he always held in the greatest veneration. 



1 6 STORIES FROM VASARI 

At the command of the commune he con- 
tinued the building of Orsanmichele, begun by 
Arnolfo di Lapo, and repaired the pillars of the 
loggia, building them of well-hewn stone where 
they had first been made of brick, yet without 
altering the design that Arnolfo di Lapo had 
left for a palace of two storeys over the loggia, 
for storing the grain of the people and commune 
of Florence. And that the work might be 
finished, the Guild of S. Maria, which had the 
charge of the building, gave orders that the 
tax on the sale of grain and other little customs 
should go towards it. But what was of more 
importance, it was ordained with great wisdom 
that each of the guilds of Florence should make 
a pillar and set up in a niche in it the patron 
saint of the guild, and every year on the feast- 
day the consuls of the guild should go there 
for offerings, setting up their standard and 
standing by the pillar the whole day, but the 
offerings given to the Madonna should still be 
for the help of those in need. 

In the year 1333 a great flood of waters swept 
away the defences of the bridge Rubaconte, 
overthrew the castle Altafronte, and left nothing 
of the old bridge but the two middle piers. 
The bridge of the Holy Trinity was altogether 
destroyed except one pier, which was left in a 
shattered state; and half the bridge at Carraja 



THE GADDI AND BUFFALMACCO 17 

was swept away, the sluices of Ogni Santi burst- 
ing. So those who had the rule of the city 
deliberated upon this matter, and not being 
willing that those who lived on the other side 
of the Arno should be subjected to such dis- 
comfort as to have to pass to and from their 
houses by boats, they called for Taddeo Gaddo 
and bade him make a model and design for re- 
building the old bridge, charging him to make 
it as handsome and fine as could be. He there- 
fore, sparing neither expense nor trouble, built 
it with great piers and with magnificent arches 
of hewn stone, so that to this day it bears the 
weight of twenty-two shops on each side, in all 
forty-four, to the great advantage of the com- 
mune, which receives from them every year 
eight hundred florins for rent. For this work, 
which cost sixty thousand gold florins, Taddeo 
deserved infinite praise then, and is more to 
be commended now than ever, for, not to speak 
of other floods, it remained unmoved on the 
1 3th day of September, 1537, when the water 
brought down the bridge of the Holy Trinity, 
two arches of the Carraja bridge, ruined a great 
part of the Rubaconte, besides domg other 
notable damage. And indeed no one of any 
judgment can fail to be astonished and to 
marvel that this old bridge should have sus- 
tained unmoved the shock of the water, the 



1 8 STORIES FROM VASARI 

drift wood, and the ruins swept down from 
above, 

Taddeo, however, did not cease from painting, 
and made a great number of pictures of import- 
ance both in Florence and elsewhere ; and in 
process of time he gained so much wealth that 
he laid the foundation of the riches and nobility 
of the family, being always held to be a wise 
man and prudent. He painted the chapter- 
house of S. Maria Novella, being called to the 
work by the prior of the place. But because 
the work was great, and the chapter-house of 
Santo Spirito had been by that time uncovered, 
to the great fame of Simone Memmi who had 
painted it, the prior desired to give Simone half 
of the work, and conferring with Taddeo about 
it, found him right content, for he loved Simone 
greatly, they having been schoolfellows together 
under Giotto, and ever loving friends and com- 
panions. Oh, truly noble souls ! without emu- 
lation or envy, loving one another like brothers, 
and rejoicing each one at the honour and praise 
of the other, as if it were his own ! So the 
work was divided between them, three sides 
being given to Simone, and to Taddeo the left 
side and all the ceiling. 

So Taddeo, having procured to himself by 
his industry and labours not only a name but 
also great riches, passed to the other life, leaving 



THE GADDI AND BUFFALMACCO 19 

behind him his sons Agnolo and Giovanni, and 
hoping that Agnolo particularly would become 
excellent in painting. But he who in his youth 
showed signs of far surpassing his father, did 
not succeed according to the opinion that had 
been conceived of him, for having been born 
and brought up in ease, which has often proved 
an impediment to study, he gave himself more 
to trade and merchandise than to the art of 
painting, which thing should not be thought 
either new or strange, for avarice has often 
hindered many who would have risen to great 
heights if the desire of gain in their first and 
better years had not impeded their way. Never- 
theless he worked as the caprice took him, 
sometimes with more care and sometimes with 
less, and having in a sense inherited the secret 
of working in mosaic, having also in his house 
the instruments and other things that Gaddo 
his grandfather had used, he for pastime, when 
it seemed good to him, made some things in 
mosaic. Thus many of his works may be seen 
in Florence, at which he laboured much to his 
own profit, though he worked rather for the 
sake of doing as his fathers had done than for 
the love of it, his mind going after merchan- 
dise ; and when his sons, refusing to be painters, 
gave themselves up wholly to trade, establishing 
a house at Venice in partnership with their 



20 STORIES FROM VASARI 

father, he worked no more at his art, except 
for his pleasure. 

Buonamico di Cristofano, nicknamed Buffal- 
macco, was a pupil of Andrea Tafi, and has 
been celebrated as a jester by Boccaccio. Franco 
Sacchetti also tells how when Buffalmacco was 
still a boy with Andrea, his master had the 
habit, when the nights were long, of getting up 
before day to work, and calling his boys. This 
was displeasing to Buonamico, who had to rise 
in the middle of his best sleep, and he con- 
sidered how he might prevent Andrea from 
getting up before day to work, and this was 
what occurred to him. Having found thirty 
great beetles in an ill-kept cellar, he fastened on 
each of their backs a little candle, and at the 
hour when Andrea was used to rise, he put 
them one by one through a hole in the door 
into Andrea's chamber, having first lighted the 
candles. His master awaking, the time being 
come to call Buffalmacco, and seeing the lights, 
was seized with terror and began to tremble, 
like a fearful old man as he was, and to re- 
commend his soul to heaven, and say his 
prayers, and repeat the psalms, and at last, 
putting his head under the clothes, he thought 
no more that night of calling Buffalmacco, but 
lay trembling with fear till daybreak. The 
morning being come, he asked Buonamico if, 



THE GADDI AND BUFFALMACCO 21 

like him, he had seen more than a thousand 
demons. To which Buonamico answered no, 
for he had kept his eyes closed and wondered 
he had not been called. "What!" said Tafi, 
"I had something else to think of than paint- 
ing, and I am resolved to go into some other 
house." The next night, although Buonamico 
only put three beetles into Tafi's chamber, yet 
he from the last night's terror and the fear of 
these few demons, could get no sleep at all, and 
as soon as it was day left the house determined 
never to return, and it took a great deal of 
good counsel to make him change his mind. 
At last Buonamico brought the priest to him 
to console him. And Tafi and Buonamico dis- 
cussing the matter, Buonamico said, "I have 
always heard say that demons are the greatest 
enemies of God, and consequently they ought 
to be the chief adversaries of painters, because 
not only do we always make them hideous, 
but we also never cease making saints on all 
the walls, and so cause men in despite of the 
demons to become better and more devout. 
So these demons being enraged against us, as 
they have greater power by night than by day, 
they come playing us these tricks, and it will 
be worse if this custom of getting up early is 
not quite given up." With such words Buffal- 
macco managed the matter, what the priest said 



22 STORIES FROM VASARI 

helping him, so that Tafi left off getting up 
early, and the demons left off going about the 
house at night with candles. But not many 
months after, Tafi, drawn by the desire of gain, 
and having forgotten his fears, began afresh to 
get up early and to call Buffalmacco, whereupon 
the beetles began again to appear, until he was 
forced by his fears to give it up entirely, being 
earnestly counselled to do so by the priest. 
And the matter being noised abroad in the city 
for a time, neither Tafi nor any other painter 
ventured to get up at night to work. 

But after a time Buffalmacco, having become 
a good master himself, left Tafi, as Franco 
relates, and began to work for himself, work 
never failing him. Now he had taken a house 
both to work and to live in next to a worker 
in wool, very well to do, who was nicknamed 
Capodoca (Goosehead), and this man's wife used 
to rise at daybreak just when Buffalmacco, having 
worked till then, was going to rest. Sitting 
down to her spinning-wheel, which by ill fortune 
was just behind Buffalmacco's bed, she would set 
to work to spin. So Buffalmacco, not being able 
to sleep, began to think what he could do to 
remedy the evil. And before long he perceived 
that, on the other side of the wall of brick which 
divided him from Capodoca, was the chimney of 
his neighbour, and through a hole he could see 



THE GADDI AND BUFFALMACCO 23 

all that she did at the fire. So having considered 
his trick, he hollowed out a tube, by means of 
which, whenever she was not at the fire, through 
the hole in the wall he could put as much salt 
as he liked into his neighbour's saucepan. 
Capodoca then, coming home to his dinner or 
supper, often found that he could eat neither 
soup nor meat, because everything was too salt. 
The first time or two he was patient and 
only grumbled a little, but when he found 
words were not enough, several times he struck 
the poor woman, who was in despair, for she 
thought herself very careful about seasoning her 
cookery. And once when her husband beat 
her, she began to excuse herself, which making 
Capodoca more angry, he set to work again until 
she began to cry as loud as she could, and all 
the neighbours ran to see what was the matter. 
Among the rest came Buffalmacco, and hearing 
of what Capodoca accused his wife, and how she 
excused herself, he said to Capodoca, " In faith, 
comrade, do you think you are reasonable ? You 
complain that morning and evening your food is 
too salt, but I wonder how your good woman 
does anything right. I don't know how she 
keeps "on her feet, considering that all night she 
is at her spinning-wheel, and does not sleep an 
hour, I believe. Stop her getting up at mid- 
night, and you will see that when she has her fill 



24 STORIES FROM VASARI 

of sleep her brains will be clear and she will run 
into no more such errors." And turning to the 
other neighbours, he put the matter before them, 
so that they all said that Buonamico said the 
truth, and he had better do as he advised. And 
he believing that it was so, commanded her not 
to get up so early. So the food was found to be 
reasonably salt, unless the woman got up early, 
when Buffalmacco returned to his remedy, and 
Capodoca made her give it up. 

Among the first works that Buffalmacco un- 
dertook was the painting of the church of the 
convent of Faenza in Florence, and among other 
stories was the slaughter of the Innocents by 
Herod, in which he represented in a most lively 
manner the emotions both of the slayers and the 
other figures, some of the nurses and mothers 
tearing their children out of the murderers' 
hands, and helping themselves as best they could 
with their hands and their nails and their teeth, 
and showing themselves as full of rage and fury 
as of grief. 

While doing this work for the ladies of 
Faenza, Buffalmacco, who was very careless and 
negligent in his dress as in other things, did not 
always wear his hood and mantle as was the 
fashion at the time, and the nuns, watching him 
through the screen he had erected, began to 
complain that it did not please them to see him 



THE GADDI AND BUFFALMACCO 25 

in his doublet. At last, as he always appeared 
in the same fashion, they began to think that he 
was only some boy employed in mixing colours, 
and they gave him to understand through their 
abbess that they should prefer to see his master 
and not always him. To this Buonamico 
answered good humouredly that when the master 
came he would let them know, understanding 
nevertheless how little confidence they had in 
him. Then he took a stool and placed it upon 
another, and on the top he put a pitcher or 
water-jug and fastened a hood on the handle, and 
covered up the rest of the jug with a cloak, 
fastening it well behind the tables, and having 
fixed a pencil in the spout of the jug, he went 
away. The nuns, coming again to see the picture 
through a hole that they had made in the screen, 
saw the supposed master in his fine attire, and 
not doubting that he was working with all his 
might, doing very different work from what that 
boy did, for several days were quite content. At 
last, being desirous to see what fine things the 
master had done in the last fortnight (during 
which time Buonamico had not been there at all), 
one night, thinking the master was gone, they 
went to see his picture, and were overcome with 
confusion, when one more bold than the rest 
detected the solemn master who during the fort- 
night had done no work at all. But acknow- 



26 STUKJJttb JfKUM VAbAKl 

ledging that he had only treated them as they 
deserved, and that the work which he had done 
was worthy of praise, they sent their steward to 
call Buonamico back, and he with great laughter 
went back to his work, letting them see the 
difference between men and water-jugs, and that 
it does not do always to judge a man's work by 
his clothes. So in a few days he finished a 
picture with which they were greatly pleased, 
except that the faces seemed to them too pale and 
wan. Buonamico having heard this, and know- 
ing that the abbess had some wine which was the 
best in Florence, and which she kept for the 
mass, told them that if they wished to remedy 
the defect it could only be done by mixing the 
colours with good wine, and then if the cheeks 
were touched with the colour they would become 
red and of a more lively colour. The good 
sisters hearing this, and ready to believe every- 
thing, kept him always supplied with excellent 
wine while he worked, and he, while enjoying the 
wine himself, to please them made his colours 
more fresh and bright. 

It is said that in 1302 he was fetched to Assisi, 
and in the church of S. Francis painted the 
chapel of S. Catherine with her history. When 
passing through Arezzo after finishing the 
chapel, he was stopped by the Bishop Guido, 
who having heard that he was a pleasant man 




Ihiffalmaro 



MAKTYKDOM OK SAINT CATHERINE. 
(Lovitr Church tf S. Franci 



THE GADDI AND BUFFALMACCO 27 

and a painter of worth, desired him to paint the 
chapel in his house. Buonamico set to work, 
and had already done a great part when there 
befel him the strangest accident in the world, 
according to Franco Sacchetti. The bishop had 
a monkey the most amusing and the most mis- 
chievous that ever was seen. This animal being 
sometimes on the scaffold watching Buonamico 
work, gave his whole mind to the matter, and 
never took his eyes off him when he was mixing 
his colours, handling his paintpots, beating up 
the eggs to make the tempera, or in fact doing 
any part of his work. Now Buonamico left his 
work one Saturday evening, and on Sunday 
morning this monkey, in spite of a great log 
of wood which the bishop had had tied to his 
feet to prevent his jumping about everywhere, 
climbed on to the scaffold where he was used 
to sit and watch Buonamico work, and having 
got hold of the paintpots, poured their contents 
one into the other and made up a mixture, 
breaking up all the eggs there were, and began 
to paint with the brushes, and never stopped 
until he had repainted everything. 'This done, 
he mixed up again all the colour that was left, 
though that was little, and came down from 
the scaffold and went away. So on Monday 
morning Buonamico returned to his work, and 
finding the painting spoilt, and the paintpots in a 



28 STORIES FROM VASARI 

mess, and everything wrong side upwards, he was 
thrown into great confusion and dismay. But 
having- considered the matter well, he came to 
the conclusion that it was some native of Arezzo 
who had done it out of envy or some other 
reason; therefore going to the bishop, he told 
him what had happened and what he supposed. 
The bishop was greatly troubled, but he en- 
couraged Buonamico to set to work again, and 
repaint what had been spoiled. And because he 
thought what he suspected was very likely true, 
he gave him six of his armed soldiers with orders 
to lie in wait with their swords drawn whenever 
he was not working, and to cut down without 
mercy any one who came. So he painted it over 
a second time, and one day when the soldiers 
were on guard they heard a noise in the church, 
and behold in a moment the monkey sprang on 
the scaffold, and the new master set to work 
upon Buonamico's saints. So they called him 
and showed him the malefactor, and stood 
watching him, all bursting with laughter, Buon- 
amico especially, who could not help laughing 
till he cried. At last, dismissing the soldiers from 
their guard, he went himself to the bishop and 
said, " My lord, you want the painting done one 
way, and your monkey wants it done another." 
And having told him the thing, he added, " You 
had no need to send for painters elsewhere when 



THE GADDI AND BUFFALMACCO 29 

you had a master in your own house; but perhaps 
he did not know then how to mix his colours. 
But now that he knows and can do it all, I am 
no longer any good, and recognising his talents, 
I am content to take nothing for my work, but 
leave to return to Florence." 

The bishop hearing the story, though it dis- 
pleased him, could not restrain his laughter, 
particularly considering that an animal should 
have played a joke upon the greatest joker in the 
world. So when they had talked and laughed 
the matter over, Buonamico set to work a third 
time and finished the picture. And the monkey 
as a punishment was shut up in a great wooden 
cage and kept where Buonamico worked until he 
had quite finished, and no one can imagine the 
grimaces and gesticulations that the little animal 
made with his face and his hands and his whole 
body at seeing some one else at work and not 
being able to help. 

The work in the chapel being finished, the 
bishop, either in jest or from some caprice, 
ordered that Buffalmacco should paint on the 
fa9ade of his palace an eagle on the back of a 
lion which it had killed. 1 The crafty painter, 
having promised to do what the bishop wished, 
had a great screen erected, saying he did not 

1 The eagle being the emblem of Arezzo and the lion of 
Florence. 



30 STORIES FROM VASARI 

wish to be seen painting such a subject. And 
there, shut in all by himself, he painted the 
contrary of what the bishop desired, a lion tear- 
ing an eagle. When he had finished, he asked 
leave of the bishop to go to Florence for some 
colours that he needed. And having locked up 
his screen, he went to Florence, intending to 
return no more to the bishop, who seeing the 
time going on and the painter not returning, 
had the screen opened, and found that the painter 
had been sharper than he. Then, moved to great 
anger, he published his ban against him, which 
Buonamico hearing, he sent to bid him do his 
worst. But finally the bishop, considering that 
it was he who had begun the joke, and that it 
served him right to have it turned against him, 
pardoned Buonamico, and rewarded him liberally 
for his labours. And more than that, not long 
after he fetched him again to Arezzo, and gave 
him many things to do in the old cathedra], 
treating him as his familiar and most faithful 
servant. But lest I should be too long if I were 
to tell of all the jokes that Buonamico Buffal- 
macco played, as well as of all the pictures that 
he painted, I will end by saying that he died at 
the age of seventy-eight, and was nursed in his 
illness by the Society of the Misfcricordia, for 
he was very poor, and had spent more than he 
earned, being a man of that nature. 



CHAPTER III 

ANDREA DI CIONE ORCAGNA, SPINELLO, DELLO, 
AND PAOLO UCCELLO 

IT is rarely the case that a man is excellent in 
one thing who could not easily learn another; 
and so we find that Orcagna the Florentine was 
painter, sculptor, architect, and poet. Born in 
Florence, he began as a boy the study of sculp- 
ture under Andrea Pisano ; then he gave himself 
up to the study of drawing, and aided by Nature, 
who desired to make him a universal genius, he 
practised colouring in distemper and fresco, and 
succeeded so well with the aid of Bernardo, his 
brother, that this Bernardo took him with him 
to paint in S. Maria Novella, and by the works 
he painted in company with his brother, his fame 
spread so far that hejwas summoned to Pisa to 
paint in the Campo Santo. 

Afterwards he gave himself with all his might 
to the study of architecture, thinking it might 
be of use to him. Nor was he mistaken, for in 
the year 1355 the commune of Florence, having 
bought some houses near the palace that they 



32 STORIES FROM VASARI 

might enlarge the Piazza, and make a place 
where the citizens might retire under cover in 
winter and in time of rain, ordered designs to 
be made for a magnificent loggia near the palace. 
Among the designs made by the best masters in 
the 1 city Orcagna's was universally approved and 
accepted as the best, the most beautiful, and 
most magnificent. So he began the work, and 
brought it to a conclusion in a little time. 

And a little after the company of Orsanmichele, 
having in their possession much money, chiefly 
from the alms presented to the Madonna there 
during the mortality of 1348, resolved to make 
over her a chapel, or rather a tabernacle, not 
only carved in marble and adorned with precious 
stones, but also with mosaics and bronze-work, 
so that it should surpass in material and in ex- 
cellent work everything made before that time. 
And the charge being given to Orcagna, he 
made many designs for it, until one pleased the 
governors as better than all the others, and the 
whole matter was left to his judgment. And he 
giving to different masters from many countries 
the other parts, kept for himself and his brother 
all the figures in the work; and when it was 
finished he caused it to be built up and joined 
together without cement with fastenings of copper 
and lead, that the polished marble might not be 
stained, which succeeded so well that the whole 




Oreetffnet. Mansell, 

I'AKT OF AN AT.TAR-MKCB ORIGINALLY PAWTBD FOR THE CHURCH OF S. HETRO MACGIOKE, 
KI,(>KKNCK, NOW IN THK NATIONAL GALLERY, LONDON. 



ANDREA DI CIONE ORCAGNA 33 

chapel seems to be cut out of one piece of 
marble. But what great efforts he made in that 
dark age to display his subtle genius is chiefly 
seen in a great work in relief of the Twelve 
Apostles watching the Madonna borne up to 
heaven by angels. For one of the apostles he 
sculptured himself as he was, aged, with shaven 
face, with his cowl about his head. Below he 
wrote upon the marble these words, "Andreas 
Cionis pictor Florentinus Oratorii archimagister 
extitit hujus, MCCCLIX." The building of 
the loggia and the tabernacle cost ninety-six 
thousand gold florins, which were very well 
spent, for whether as regards architecture, sculp- 
ture, or ornament, it is as beautiful as anything 
of those times, and such that it will always keep 
alive the name of Andrea Orcagna, who used on 
his paintings to write, " Fece Andrea di Cione 
scultore," and on his sculpture, "Fece Andrea 
di Cione pittore." 

In the year 1350 was formed the Company 
and Fraternity of the Painters in Florence, for the 
masters were there in great numbers, and they 
considered that the arts of design had been born 
again in Tuscany, and indeed in Florence itself. 
They put their company under the protection of 
S. Luke the Evangelist, and their oratory was 
the larger chapel of S. Maria Nuova. The 
company was ruled by two councillors and two 



34 STORIES FROM VASARI 

treasurers, and when it was formed, Jacopo di 
Casentino painted the picture for their chapel 
representing S. Luke pourtraying the Virgin. 

This Jacopo di Casentino had for his pupil the 
painter Spinello. For Luca Spinelli having gone 
to dwell at Arezzo at a time when the Ghibellines 
were driven out of Florence, there was born to 
him there a son to whom he gave the name of 
Spinello. He was so naturally inclined to paint- 
ing that when he was a mere boy, and almost 
without teaching, he seemed to know much that 
those who have been under the discipline of the 
best masters do not know. Having formed a 
friendship with Jacopo di Casentino while he was 
working in Arezzo, he learned somewhat from 
him, but before he was twenty years old he be- 
came a far greater master than old Jacopo was. 

Beginning soon then to acquire a name as a 
good painter, Spinello was called to Florence, 
and painted in the churches of S. Niccol6 and 
S. Maria Maggiore, and in other places, until the 
sixty, citizens who governed Arezzo recalled him, 
and gave him work in the old cathedral outside 
the city. 

A little before this time a number of good and 
honourable citizens had begun to go round col- 
lecting alms for the poor to aid them in their 
need; and in the plague of the year 1348, the 
good men of this fraternity, called the Fraternity 



SPINELLO 35 

of S. Mary of Mercy, acquired so great a name 
by helping the poor and sick, burying the dead, 
and like works of charity, that gifts and legacies 
fell into their hands until they became possessors 
of the third part of the wealth of Arezzo. 
Spinello therefore, being of the fraternity, and 
having often to visit the sick and bury the dead, 
painted for the company in the church of S. 
Laurentino and Bergentino, a Madonna spreading 
her mantle over the people of Arezzo, among 
whom are many of the first men of the frater- 
nity, painted from life, with the wallet on their 
shoulder, and the wooden mallet in their hands 
that they used in knocking at the doors when 
they went seeking alms. 

In the church of S. Stefano he painted a 
Madonna giving the Child a rose, which was 
held in such veneration by the people of Arezzo 
that when the church was pulled down, regard- 
less of difficulty and expense they cut it out of 
the wall, and carried it into the city and placed 
it in a chapel, that they might honour it with 
the same devotion as heretofore. Nor was this 
strange, for Spinello had a natural power of 
giving to his figures a certain simple grace, so 
that his saints, and especially his virgins, breathe 
a divine holiness, which draws men to hold them 
in the highest reverence. Having painted in 
many other cities whither his fame carried him, 



36 STORIES FROM VASARI 

he returned to Arezzo, his home, or rather that 
which he considered his home, at the age of 
seventy-seven, and was received by his friends 
and relatives with affection, and held in honour 
to the end of his life, which was in the ninety- 
second year of his age. And although he was 
very old when he returned, and being rich, might 
have ceased from working, he knew not how to 
rest, but took upon him to paint for the Com- 
pany of S. Agnolo the story of S. Michael. He 
painted the Fall of the Angels, who are changed 
into devils as they fall from heaven, and S. 
Michael in the air fighting with the old serpent 
with seven heads and ten horns, and Lucifer 
changed already into a horrible beast. And be- 
cause Spinello took great pleasure in making 
him horrible and deformed, it is said that the 
figure as he had painted it appeared to him in a 
dream, demanding why he had made him so ugly 
and done him so much injury with his pencil. 
He then awaking from his sleep, could not cry 
from the greatness of his terror, but such a 
trembling fell upon him that his wife awoke and 
hastened to his succour. He was near dying of 
terror at the moment, and though he lingered a 
short time with an affrighted air and wide staring 
eyes, yet it led to his death. Such a sad event 
grieved the Aretines much, and they lamented 
him for his talents and goodness, although he 



DELLO 37 

was so old. He died at the age of ninety, and 
was buried in S. Agostino, where may be seen a 
stone bearing his arms, designed by himself, con- 
taining a hedgehog. 

Although Dello the Florentine has a name 
as a painter only, his first works were in 
sculpture. And it was not only that he was 
changeable by nature, he also perceived that 
he earned little, and that his poverty required 
him to change. So he applied himself to paint- 
ing arid succeeded, especially in little figures. 
At that time it was the custom of the people 
to have in their chambers great wooden chests 
of various forms, and every one used to have 
them painted with stories from the myths of 
Ovid and other poets, or hunting scenes, or 
jousts, or tales of love, according to the taste 
of each one. And in the same way were painted 
the beds and chairs and other furniture of the 
rooms. This practice was long in fashion, and 
the most excellent painters employed themselves 
in such work with no such sense of shame as 
many would feel now in painting and gilding 
such things. Dello then, being a good painter 
and well skilled especially, as we have said, in 
little pictures, spent many years in painting 
chests and chairs and such things, and particu- 
larly he painted for Giovanni di Medici the 
whole furniture of a room, which was considered 



38 STORIES FROM VASARI 

marvellous and most beautiful of its kind. It 
is said that Donatello, then a youth, aided him, 
making with stucco, gesso, and paste ornaments 
in bas-relief, which being gilded brought out 
well the painted pictures. Afterwards Dello 
went to Spain into the king's service, where he 
obtained such favour that no artist could desire 
more. And though it is not known what works 
he did in those parts, yet as he returned very 
rich and with great honour, we may suppose 
that they were many and fine and good. But 
after having been royally rewarded for his 
labours for some years, the desire arose within 
him to return to Florence, that he might 
show his friends how from extreme poverty he 
had risen to great riches. He asked therefore 
leave of the king, and he not only granted it 
graciously, although he would willingly have 
retained him, but in gratitude for his service 
this most generous king made him a knight. 
So he returned to Florence and demanded his 
pension and the confirmation of his privileges, 
but they were refused him by Filippo Spano 
degli Scolari, who had just returned victorious 
over the Turks, as grand seneschal of the King 
of Hungary. Dello thereupon wrote in haste 
to the king complaining of the injury done 
him; and the king interceded for him with the 
Signory so warmly that the desired honour was 



PAOLO UCCELLO 39 

granted him. It is said that Dello, returning 
to his house on horseback with his banner, and 
clad in brocade, as he passed along the Vac- 
chereccia, where were then many goldsmiths' 
shops, was jeered at by certain who had known 
him familiarly in youth, and he turning to the 
side where he heard the voices, made a gesture 
of contempt, and without saying anything passed 
on his way, so that none perceived it but those 
who had scoffed at him. But seeing by this 
and other signs that the envy felt towards him 
was as great as the unkindness shown him when 
he was poor, he determined to return to Spain. 
There he was received with great favour and 
looked upon kindly, and there he lived and 
laboured like a lord, painting always attired in 
a brocaded apron. Thus retreating before envy, 
he dwelt in honour with the king. He died 
at the age of forty-nine, and was buried honour- 
ably. He was not a very good draughtsman, 
but was one of the first to show good judgment 
in the marking of the muscles in the human 
body. His portrait was painted by Paolo 
Uccello in S. Maria Novella, in the picture re- 
presenting the drunkenness of Noah. 

Paolo Uccello would have been the cleverest 
and most original genius since the time of Giotto 
if he would have studied figures and animals as 
much as he studied and wasted his time over 



40 STORIES FROM VASARI 

perspective, for although it is an ingenious and 
fine science, yet he who pursues it out of measure 
throws away his time, makes his manner dry, 
and often himself becomes solitary and strange, 
melancholy and poor, as Paolo Uccello did. 
Donatello, his great friend, many times said to 
him when Paolo showed him his circles and his 
squares and his balls with seventy-two faces, all 
drawn in perspective, and all the other fancies in 
which he wasted his time, " Eh, Paolo, this per- 
spective of yours makes you leave what is certain 
for the uncertain ; these are things which are no 
use except for men who make inlaid work." In 
S. Miniato, outside Florence, he painted the lives 
of the Fathers, in which pictures he made the 
fields azure, the cities red, and the buildings 
varied, according to his own pleasure ; and in 
this he did wrong, for things that we suppose to 
be of stone ought not to be painted of any other 
colour. It is said that while Paolo was engaged 
on this work, the abbot of the place gave him 
scarcely anything but cheese to eat; and this 
thing becoming an annoyance, Paolo, who was 
timid, determined not to go there any more to 
work. And when the abbot sent for him, and 
he heard himself asked for by the friars, he 
always sent word that he was not at home ; and 
if by chance he met a couple of that order In 
Florence he would set off running as hard as 



PAOLO UCCELLO 41 

he could to escape them. But one day two of 
the youngest and more curious of them overtook 
him, and asked him why he did not come to 
finish the work he had begun, and why he took 
to flight whenever he met any of the friars. 
Paolo replied, " You have ruined me altogether, 
so that not only do I flee from you, but I dare 
not pass by any place where there are carpenters ; 
for your abbot, with his tarts and soup all made 
of cheese, has so filled me with it that I am 
afraid of being boiled down for glue, and if I 
had gone on any longer I should have left off 
being Paolo and become cheese." The friars 
returned home in fits of laughter and told the 
abbot about it ; whereupon he persuaded him to 
return to his work, promising that other food 
besides cheese should be supplied him. 

He painted many pictures of animals, of 
which he was very fond. He made a great 
study of them, and had always in his house 
paintings of birds, cats, and dogs, and any kind 
of strange animal that he could get a drawing 
of, not being able to keep live animals because 
he was poor ; and because he delighted most in 
birds (uccelli) he was surnamed Paolo Uccello. 
Among other pictures of animals he made some 
lions fighting together, which by their motions 
and terrible fierceness seem to be alive. But the 
most strange was a serpent fighting with a lion, 



42 STORIES FROM VASARI 

exhibiting his fury in fierce contortions, with the 
poison issuing from his eyes and mouth, while a 
peasant woman who is present taking care of an 
ox, most beautifully foreshortened, is running 
away in terror. 

In the cloister of S. Maria Novella also he 
painted the creation of the animals and the 
deluge. He was the first who gained a name 
for landscapes, carrying them to more perfection 
than any other painter before him. In S. Maria 
del Fiore he also made a monument to Sir John 
Hawkwood, the English captain of the Floren- 
tines, who died in the year 1393, a horse of 
extraordinary size, with the captain upon it. 
The work was considered and really is very fine 
for pictures of that sort, and if Paolo had not 
made the horse moving his legs on one side 
only, which horses do not naturally do or they 
would fall, the work would be perfect. Perhaps 
he made the mistake because he was not used 
to ride or study horses as he did other animals ; 
but the foreshortening of the horse is very fine. 
Paolo was taken by Donatello to Padua where 
he was working, and there he painted some 
giants, which were so fine that Andrea Man- 
tegna held them in the highest esteem. He 
also painted in fresco the loggia of the Peruzzi, 
introducing in the corners the four elements 
accompanied by an appropriate animal ; for the 



PAOLO UCCELLO 43 

earth there was a mole, for water a fish, for fire 
a salamander, and for air the chameleon, which 
lives upon it and takes every colour. And 
because he had never seen a chameleon, in his 
great simplicity he made in its stead a camel 
opening its mouth and swallowing the air to fill 
its stomach. 

Such great pains did Paolo take in his works 
that he left behind him chests full of drawings, 
as I have heard from his relatives themselves. 
In his house he had a picture of five men who 
had distinguished themselves in art: Giotto 
the painter, as the beginning and light of art, 
Filippo di Ser Brunellesco for architecture, 
Donatello for sculpture, himself for perspec- 
tive and animals, and for mathematics Giovanni 
Manetti, his friend. 

It is said that being entrusted with the paint- 
ing of S. Thomas over the gate of the church 
dedicated to that saint in the Old Market, he 
resolved to put into the work all he knew, and 
to show how much he was capable of; and so 
he made a screen round him that none might 
be able to see his work until it was finished. 
And one day Donatello, meeting him all alone, 
asked him, " What is this work of yours which 
you keep shut up so close ? " To which Paolo 
replied, "You will see in time." Donatello 
would not urge him any more, expecting to 



44 STORIES FROM VASARI 

see something marvellous. But one morning, 
going into the old market to buy fruit, he saw 
Paolo uncovering his work, and saluting him 
courteously, Paolo called upon him to say what 
he thought of his picture, eagerly desiring to 
know his opinion. Donatello, looking at the 
work carefully, replied, "Ah, Paolo, now that 
it is time to cover it up you are uncovering it." 
Paolo was greatly afflicted, that by this his last 
effort he had earned much more blame than he 
hoped to have earned praise ; and he shut him- 
self up in his house as if he had disgraced 
himself, not having courage to walk abroad any 
longer, giving himself up to perspective, and 
remained poor and obscure until his death. His 
wife used to say that Paolo would sit studying 
perspective all night, and when she called him 
to come to bed he would answer, "Oh, what 
a sweet thing this perspective is ! " And if it 
was sweet to him, his work has made it valuable 
and useful indeed to those who have studied 
it after him. 



CHAPTER IV 

LUCA DELLA ROBBIA AND LORENZO GHIBERTI 

LUCA DELLA ROBBIA was born in Florence, and 
was put by his father to learn the goldsmith's 
trade. But having made trial of his skill in 
some things in marble and bronze, he gave him- 
self up entirely to sculpture, modelling by day 
and drawing by night, with such earnestness that 
many times when his feet were chilled with cold 
at night, rather than give up his drawing, he 
would put them into a basket of shavings to 
warm them. He was scarcely fifteen years of 
age when he was taken to Rimini to work with 
other sculptors on the monument which Sigis- 
mondo di Pandolfo Malatesti was raising to his 
wife. He was called back, however, to work on 
the campanile of S. Maria del Fiore, and was 
afterwards, at the request of Vieri de' Medici, a 
very popular citizen who loved him much, en- 
trusted with the marble ornaments of the organ. 
In this work he represented the choristers singing, 
and although it was sixteen braccia from the 
ground, he worked it with great care. Donatello, 



45 



46 STORIES FROM VASARI 

however, who made the ornaments of the organ 
opposite, worked with more judgment and ex- 
perience, leaving it rougher and less finished, 
so that it appeared better at a distance than 
Luca's. 

But after he had finished these and other 
works for the cathedral, upon reckoning up how 
much he had received and the time he had spent 
upon it, and seeing that the profit was very little 
and the fatigue very great, he resolved to let 
marble and bronze alone, and see if he could not 
earn more in some other way. And considering 
that working in clay was easy, he set himself to 
find a way by which it might be defended from 
the injuries of. time. And after many experi- 
ments he found a way of covering it with a glaze 
by which it was made almost eternal. And not 
being satisfied at having made an invention so 
useful, especially for damp places, he added a 
method by which he could give it colour, to the 
marvel and great pleasure of every one. The 
fame of these works soon spread not only through 
Italy, but through all Europe, and the demand 
was so great that the Florentine merchants kept 
him continually at work and sent them all over 
the world. Not being able to supply them as 
fast as they required, he took his brothers away 
from the chisel and set them to the work, and 
they made much more by it than they had ever 



LUCA BELLA ROBBIA 47 

done before. If he had lived longer, no doubt 
greater works would have issued from his hands, 
but death, which carries off the best, took him 
away. 

After his death there were left his brothers, 
Ottaviano and Agostino, and of the same family 
was Andrea, who died in 1528. I remember 
talking to him when I was a boy, and hearing 
him say he had helped to carry Donatello to the 
grave, and I remember the good old man seemed 
to take much pride in the recollection. Andrea 
left two sons, Lucai and Girolamo, who devoted 
themselves to sculpture. Of these two Luca 
specially applied himself to the glazed works. 
But when they died not only was their family 
extinct, but the art itself was lost, for although 
some have since professed to practise it, none 
have ever arrived at the excellence of old Luca 
or Andrea or any others of that family. 

There is no doubt that those in every city 
who by their merits obtain fame become a blessed 
light to those who are born after them. For 
there is nothing that arouses the minds of men, 
and makes them indifferent to the hardships of 
study, so much as the thought of the honour and 
advantage that the labour may bring them. This 
Lorenzo di Clone Ghiberti, otherwise Di Barto- 
luccio, knew well. He in his first years was put 
to the art of the goldsmith, but delighting more 



48 STORIES FROM VASARI 

in the arts of sculpture and design, he studied 
colours and also cast little figures in bronze. 
About this time the Signory of Florence, with 
the Guild of the Merchants, seeing that there 
were at that time many excellent sculptors, both 
Florentines and strangers, determined that they 
would make the second pair of gates for S. 
Giovanni, the oldest and the chief church of that 
city. So they called upon all the best masters in 
Italy to come to Florence and make trial of their 
skill, requiring them to produce a subject pic- 
ture worked in bronze, like one of those which 
Andrea Pisano had made in the first gate. Barto- 
luccio Ghiberti thereupon wrote to Lorenzo his 
son, 1 who was then working in Pesaro, urging 
him to return to Florence, for this was an oppor- 
tunity of making himself known and showing his 
skill. These words so moved Lorenzo that 
although Pandolfo Malatesti and all his court 
were heaping him with caresses, and would 
scarcely let him go, he took his leave of them, 
and neither promise nor reward would detain 
him, for it seemed to him to be a thousand years 
before he could get to Florence. So setting forth 
he came safely to his own city. Many strangers 
had already arrived and made known their 
coming to the consuls of the guild. They made 

1 Or rather stepson. 



LORENZO GHIBERTI 49 

choice of seven, three being Florentines and 
the rest Tuscans, ordaining for them a certain 
provision of money, and requiring that within a 
year each one should finish one subject in bronze 
of the same size as those of the first gate. And 
the subject was Abraham sacrificing Isaac his son, 
for they thought that it contained all the diffi- 
culties of the art, landscape, figures nude and 
draped, and animals. Those who took part in 
the contest were Filippo di Ser Brunellesco, 
Donatello, and Lorenzo, all Florentines; and 
Jacopo della Quercia of Sienna and Niccol6 
ti'Arezzo his pupil, Francesco di Vandabrina, and 
Simone da Colle, famous for his bronzes, and 
they all made promise to finish the work in the 
time appointed. So each one set to work, and 
with all diligence and study put forth all his 
strength and knowledge to surpass the others in 
excellence, working secretly and keeping con- 
cealed what they did that they might not do the 
same things. Lorenzo alone, who worked by 
Bartoluccio's counsel, and who was required by 
him to make essays and many models before he 
resolved upon using them for the work, con- 
tinually brought in the citizens to see, and some- 
times strangers who were passing through, if they 
understood the matter, that he might hear their 
opinions ; and so it came about that the model 
was very well done and without any defect. And 



50 STORIES FROM VASARI 

having made the mould and cast it in bronze, it 
came out very well indeed, and he, with Barto- 
luccio his father, polished it with such patience 
and earnestness that it could not have been better 
finished. 

So the time being come when they were to 
be exhibited in competition, they were all finished 
and brought before the Guild of the Merchants 
for judgment. And when the consuls and many 
other citizens had seen them, opinions were very 
diverse about them. And there came many 
strangers to Florence, painters and sculptors 
and some goldsmiths, called by the consuls to 
aid them to give judgment, with others of that 
trade who dwelt at Florence. The number of 
them was thirty-four, each one most skilful in 
his art. And although their opinions were 
different, one being pleased with the manner of 
this one, and another with that, nevertheless 
they agreed that Filippo Brunellesco and Lorenzo 
had composed and finished the subject better 
than Donatello, although there was good drawing 
in his. Jacopo della Quercia had good figures, 
but there was no finish, although it was done 
with diligence. Francesco di Vandabrina's work 
had good heads and was well polished, but was 
confused in the composition. That by Simone 
da Colle was a good cast, that being his special 
art, but the design was not good. Niccol6 



LORENZO GHIBERTI 51 

d'Arezzo's figures were stunted and the work 
was not well polished. Only the piece which 
Lorenzo had brought as his specimen, which 
may still be seen in the merchants' hall, was 
perfect in all its parts; the work was well 
designed and well composed, the figures were 
graceful and their attitudes very beautiful, and 
it was finished with so much care that it had 
no appearance of having been cast and worked 
upon with iron tools, but seemed rather to have 
been breathed into existence. 

Then Donatello and Filippo, seeing the care 
that Lorenzo had taken with his work, withdrew 
into a corner, and talking together resolved that 
the work ought to be entrusted to Lorenzo, for 
it seemed to them that it would be both for 
public and private good that Lorenzo being 
^ young, for he was no more than twenty, should 
be enabled to bring forth those greater fruits 
of which this was a promise; and in their 
judgment he had executed it more excellently 
than the others, so that it would be rather the 
part of envy to take the work from him than 
a virtue to give it up to him. 

Therefore the work being entrusted to Lorenzo, 
he made a wooden frame of the proper size, and 
worked all the ornaments and decorations of the 
gate, and those that were to surround each 
compartment, and having dried the model in 



52 STORIES FROM VASARI 

a house which he had bought over against 
S. Maria Nuova, where now stands the weavers' 
hospital, he made a great furnace, which I can 
remember to have seen, and cast the frame in 
metal. But as fortune would have it, it did 
not come out well ; however, without losing 
courage, or being dismayed, he made another 
mould so quickly that none knew of it, and 
cast it again, and this time it came out excel- 
lently well. And so continuing his work he 
cast each subject by itself, and fitted it into its 
place. And the work was brought to perfec- 
tion without sparing time or fatigue, and the 
composition of each portion was so well arranged 
that it deserves that praise which Filippo had 
given to the first part, and yet greater. And 
so he was honoured by his fellow citizens and 
greatly praised by the artists both of his own 
land and strangers. The work with the orna- 
ments round, of animals and festoons of fruit, 
cost twenty-two thousand florins, and the gates 
weighed thirty-four thousand pounds. 

After this the fame of Lorenzo went on in- 
creasing every day, and he worked for an infinite 
number of persons, making for Pope Martin a 
clasp for his cope, with figures in high relief, and 
a mitre with leaves of gold, and among them 
many little figures which were held to be most 
beautiful. Also when Pope Eugenius came to 




Loreneo Ghibertt. Anderson, 

I1RONZE GATE OF THE BAPTISTERY OF S. GIOVANNI, FLORENCE. 



LORENZO GHIBERTI 53 

Florence, to the council held in 1439, an d saw 
the works of Lorenzo, he caused him to make 
for him a mitre of gold, in weight fifteen pounds, 
and the pearls of it weighed five and a half 
pounds. 

And when Florence saw that the works of their 
great artist were so much praised, it was deter- 
mined by the merchants to entrust to him the 
third pair of gates of S. Giovanni. And although 
the one he had made before had been by their 
orders made with ornaments like those on the 
gates of Andrea Pisano, yet seeing that Lorenzo 
had surpassed his, they gave him leave to make 
it in any manner he liked, so that it should be 
the most highly adorned, the richest, most per- 
fect, and most beautiful that could be imagined. 
Neither was he to regard time or expense, but as 
he had surpassed all other sculptors, so was he to 
surpass all his other works. 

Lorenzo therefore began his work, and put 
into it all that he knew. And in truth it may 
be said that the work is perfect in everything, 
and is the most beautiful work in the world that 
has ever been seen in ancient or modern times. 
And that Lorenzo merits praise we know, for 
one day Michael Angelo Buonarroti stopped to 
look at the work, and some one asked him what 
he thought of it, and if these gates were beauti- 
ful, and he answered, "They are so beautiful that 



54 STORIES FROM VASARI 

they might well be the gates of Paradise," Praise 
truly just, and given by one who could judge ! 

Lorenzo was aided in polishing and finish- 
ing the work after it was cast by many young 
men who afterwards became excellent masters, 
as Filippo Brunellesco, Paolo Uccello, Antonio 
del Pollaiuolo, and others. And besides the 
payment which the consuls of the guild gave 
him, the Signory bestowed upon him a good 
estate near the abbey of Settimo. Nor was it 
long before he was received among the Signory, 
and honoured with the supreme magistracy of 
the city. For which grateful conduct the Floren- 
tines deserve to be praised, as they have deserved 
to be blamed for the little gratitude they have 
shown towards others. 



CHAPTER V 

FILIPPO DI SER BRUNELLESCO 

IT is a habit of Nature when she makes one man 
very great in any art, not to make him alone, 
but at the same time and in the same place to 
produce another to rival him, that they may 
aid each other by emulation. And that this is 
true may be seen by the example of Florence, 
which produced at one epoch Filippo, Donatello, 
Lorenzo, Paolo Uccello, and Masaccio, each one 
most excellent in his way. This last, who came 
from Castello San Giovanni di Valdarno, was a 
most absent-minded man, and seemed like one 
who, having fixed his mind on things of art only, 
cared little for himself and less for others. And 
because he would never trouble himself about 
the things of the world, not even about dressing 
himself, and never took the pains to get money 
from those who owed it him, unless he were in 
extreme need, he was by every one nicknamed 
Masaccio 1 for Tommaso, which was his real 
name, and this not because he was a bad man, 

1 Big Tom, a contemptuous epithet. 



CHAPTER V 

FILIPPO DI SER BRUNELLESCO 

IT is a habit of Nature when she makes one man 
very great in any art, not to make him alone, 
but at the same time and in the same place to 
produce another to rival him, that they may 
aid each other by emulation. And that this is 
true may be seen by the example of Florence, 
which produced at one epoch Filippo, Donatello, 
Lorenzo, Paolo Uccello, and Masaccio, each one 
most excellent in his way. This last, who came 
from Castello San Giovanni di Valdarno, was a 
most absent-minded man, and seemed like one 
who, having fixed his mind on things of art only, 
cared little for himself and less for others. And 
because he would never trouble himself about 
the things of the world, not even about dressing 
himself, and never took the pains to get money 
from those who owed it him, unless he were in 
extreme need, he was by every one nicknamed 
Masaccio 1 for Tommaso, which was his real 
name, and this not because he was a bad man, 

1 Big Tom, a contemptuous epithet. 

55 



56 STORIES FROM VASARI 

but merely from his slovenliness, for he was 
goodness itself, and as ready to do another a 
service as any one could desire. All the most 
celebrated sculptors and painters from his time 
until now have studied his works in the Bran- 
cacci chapel, as Lionardo da Vinci, Perugino, 
the divine Michael Angelo, Raffaello da Urbino, 
Andrea del Sarto, and many more, and if I have 
not mentioned many Florentines and strangers 
who have gone to that chapel to study there, 
it is because where the heads of the art go, there 
the members are sure to follow. Yet although 
his works have always been held in such reputa- 
tion, it is the firm belief of many that he would 
have brought forth much greater fruit if death - 
had not carried him off, at the age of twenty- 
six, so suddenly that there were not wanting 
those who laid it down to poison. It is said 
that when Filippo di Ser Brunellesco heard of his 
death, he said, "We have suffered a great loss 
in Masaccio," and mourned for him deeply. 

There are some whom Nature has created 
little of stature, but with a soul of greatness 
and a heart of such immeasurable daring that if 
they do not set themselves to difficult and almost 
impossible things, and do not complete them to 
the wonder of those who behold, they have no 
peace in their lives. Thus it was with Filippo 
di Ser Brunellesco, who was small in stature like 



FILIPPO DI SER BRUNELLESCO 57 

Giotto, but great in genius. His father, Ser 
Brunellesco, taught him in his childhood the 
first principles of letters, in which he showed 
himself intelligent, but careless of perfecting 
himself in these matters. Therefore, seeing 
him occupied with matters of art, he put him 
under a goldsmith, to Filippo's great satisfac- 
tion. Having become skilled in setting stones, 
and in niello work, and in the science of the 
motion of weights and wheels, not content with 
this, there awoke within him a great desire for 
the study of sculpture. And Donatello, then a 
young man, being held in esteem as a sculptor, 
Filippo began to hold intercourse with him, and 
such an affection sprang up between them that 
it seemed as if the one could not live without 
the other. Filippo, who was capable of many 
things, was held also by those who understood 
such matters to be a good architect. He studied 
also perspective, and taught it to Masaccio his 
friend. 

Messer Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli, having 
returned from his studies, invited Filippo with 
other friends to supper in a garden, and the dis- 
course falling on mathematical subjects, Filippo 
formed a friendship with him and learned 
geometry from him. And although he was not 
learned, he would reason on all [matters from his 
own practical experience so as frequently to con- 



58 STORIES FROM VASARI 

found Toscanelli. He also applied himself to 
the study of the sacred scriptures, never failing 
to be present at the disputations or lectures of 
learned men, and making such good use of his 
wonderful memory that Messer Paolo used to 
say when he heard Filippo argue, he seemed to 
him a new St. Paul. 

Filippo, as we have said, entered into com- 
petition with Lorenzo and the others for the 
gates of S. Giovanni, but when the work was 
assigned to Lorenzo at the request of Filippo 
and Donatello, they determined to set out to- 
gether from Florence and to spend some years 
in Rome, that Filippo might study architecture 
and Donatello sculpture. And when he came 
to Rome, and saw the grandeur of the buildings 
and the perfection of the form of the temples, 
he remained lost in thought and like one out 
of his mind; and he and Donatello set them- 
selves to measure them and to draw out the 
plan of them, sparing neither time nor expense. 
And Filippo gave himself up to the study of 
them, so that he cared neither to eat or to sleep, 
having two great ideas in his mind, the one to 
restore the knowledge of good architecture, 
hoping thus to leave behind no less a memory 
of himself than Cimabue and Giotto had done, 
and the other to find a way, if it were possible, 
of raising the cupola of S. Maria del Fiore in 



FILIPPO DI SER BRUNELLESCO 59 

Florence, the difficulty of which was so great 
that since the death of Arnolfo Lapi none had 
had courage enough to attempt it. He con- 
fided his intention neither to Donatello or any 
soul living, but gave himself no rest until he 
had considered all the difficulties of the Pantheon 
and had noted and drawn all the ancient vaulted 
roofs, continually studying this matter, and if 
by chance they found any pieces of capitals or 
columns they set to work and had them dug 
out. And the story ran through Rome that 
they were " treasure seekers," the people think- 
ing that they studied divination to find treasures, 
it having befallen them once to find an ancient 
pitcher filled with medals. 

Then money becoming scarce with Filippo, 
he set himself to work for the goldsmiths, and 
remained thus alone in Rome when Donatello 
returned to Florence. Neither did he cease from 
his studies, until he had drawn every kind of 
building, temples round and square and eight- 
sided, basilicas, aqueducts, baths, arches, and 
others, and the different orders, Doric, Ionic, 
and Corinthian, until he was able to see in 
imagination Rome as she was before she fell 
into ruins. 

In the year 1407 he returned to Florence, 
and the same year there was held a meeting of 
architects and engineers to consider how to raise 



60 STORIES FROM VASARI 

the cupola of S. Maria del Fiore. Among them 
came Filippo, and gave it as his opinion that 
it should not be done according to the design 
of Arnolfo, but in another fashion, of which he 
made a model. 

Some months after, Filippo being one morning 
in the Piazza of S. Maria del Fiore with Dona- 
tello and other artists, talking about ancient 
sculpture, Donatello began -telling them how 
when he was returning from Rome he had 
journeyed by Orvieto to see the famous marble 
facade of the cathedral, and afterwards passing 
through Cortona went into the church there 
and found a most beautiful piece of ancient 
sculpture, which was then a rare thing, for they 
had not then disinterred such an abundance as 
they have in our times. So Donatello, going on 
to describe the manner of the work and its per- 
fection and excellence, kindled such an ardent 
desire in Filippo to see it that, without saying 
where he was going, he set out on foot in his 
mantle and hood and sandals, and was carried 
to Cortona by the love he bore to art. The 
sculpture pleasing him much, he made a drawing 
of it with the pen, and returned to Florence 
before Donatello or any one else had discovered 
that he was gone. And when he showed him 
the careful drawing he had made, Donatello 
marvelled greatly at his love for art. 



FILIPPO DI SER BRUNELLESCO 61 

The other architects meanwhile being dis- 
mayed at the difficulties in raising the cupola, 
the masters of the works in S. Maria and the 
consuls of the Guild of the Woollen Merchants 
assembled together, and sent to pray Filippo to 
come to them. And he being come, they laid 
before him the difficulties small and great which 
the architects felt who were also present. And 
Filippo answered them, <c Sirs, there is no doubt 
that in great undertakings you have always to 
encounter great difficulties, and in this one of 
yours there are greater than you perhaps imagine, 
for I do not think that even the ancients ever 
raised such a vaulted roof as this will be. And 
I, having considered it much, have never been 
able to come to any conclusion, the width as 
well as the height of the building dismaying me. 
But remembering that it is a temple conse- 
crated to God and the Virgin, I believe that the 
wisdom and skill of any one who undertook it 
would not be allowed to fail, and if it were 
my affair I would resolutely set myself to find 
out a way. But if you resolve upon doing it 
you must take counsel not alone of me, who am 
not sufficient to give counsel in so great a matter, 
but summon to Florence upon a fixed day within 
a year's time architects, not only Tuscan and 
Italian but German and French, and those of 
every nation, and lay before them this matter, 



62 STORIES FROM VASARI 

that having been discussed and decided by so 
many masters, it may be entrusted to him who 
has the best judgment and knows the best way." 

And this counsel pleased them well, and they 
desired that he also would consider the matter 
and make a model for it. But he made believe 
not to care about the matter, and took his leave 
of them to return to Rome. And they, seeing 
that their prayers availed not to stop him, made 
many of his friends implore him also ; and when 
he would not be moved, the members of the 
council voted him an offering of money. But 
he, keeping firm to his resolution, left Florence 
and returned to Rome, where he applied him- 
self to continual study of the matter, thinking, 
as was true, that none but he could accom- 
plish it. 

So the Florentine merchants who dwell in 
France and England and Spain were commanded 
to obtain from the princes of those lands, with- 
out sparing expense, the most skilled and gifted 
men in those regions. And when the year 1420 
was come, there were assembled in Florence all 
these masters from other lands and those of 
Tuscany, and the skilled artificers of Florence 
itself, and Filippo returned from Rome. And 
they came together in S. Maria del Fiore, with 
the consuls and members of the guild, and some 
ingenious men chosen from among the citizens, 



FILIPPO DI SER BRUNELLESCO 63 

that the minds of all might be known, and the 
manner of raising the dome decided upon. So 
one by one each architect was called upon to 
give his opinion and describe the way in which 
it should be done. And it was a fine thing to 
hear the strange and diverse opinions in the 
matter. For 'some proposed that it should be 
built of sponge-stone that the weight might be 
less, and many agreed that it would be best to 
put a pillar in the middle, while there were 
not wanting those who suggested that they 
should fill the space with earth, mixing money 
with it, and when the dome was built give leave 
to every one to take the money, by which means 
the earth would be cleared away without ex- 
pense. Filippo alone declared that he could 
make a vaulted roof without much wood, with- 
out pillars or supports, and with little expense 
of arches. It seemed to all who heard him that 
what he had said was foolish, and they mocked 
him and laughed at him, saying he was speaking 
like a madman. Then Filippo, being offended, 
said, " Though you laugh at me, you will find 
out that it can be done in no other manner." 
And as he grew warm in explaining his ideas, 
they doubted him the more, and held him to 
be a mere chattering fool. And when they had 
bidden him depart several times and he would 
not go, he was carried out by force, all supposing 



64 STORIES FROM VASARI 

him to be mad. And this was how it came 
about that Filippo used to say afterwards that 
he dared not at that time pass along any part 
of the city lest it should be said, "There goes 
that madman." So the consuls in the assembly 
were left altogether confused with the difficult 
methods proposed by the other masters, and 
Filippo's plan, which seemed to them foolish. 
And on his part Filippo was many times tempted 
to leave Florence ; but desiring to conquer, he 
had to arm himself with patience. He might 
have shown a little model that he had made, but 
he would not, knowing how little the consuls 
understood the matter, and aware of the jealousy 
of the artists, and the unstable character of the 
citizens, who favoured now one, now another. 
And I do not marvel at this, for in that city 
every one professes to know as much as skilled 
masters themselves, although there are few who 
really understand such things. 

So Filippo, not having succeeded at the 
assembly, began to treat with them separately, 
talking now to this consul, now to that member 
of the guild, and to some of the citizens, show- 
ing them part of his design. And so, having 
been moved by his arguments, they met again 
and disputed of the matter. The other archi- 
tects desired that Filippo would tell all his 
mind and show his model. This he would not 



FILIPPO DI SER BRUNELLESCO 65 

do, but made a proposal that the building of 
the cupola should be given to him who could 
make an egg stand firmly on the smooth marble, 
for by doing this he would show his skill. And 
an egg being brought, all the masters tried to 
make it stand upright, but none found the 
way. And when they bade Filippo set it up, 
he took it, and striking it on the marble made it 
stand. And the architects murmured, saying that 
they could have done that ; but Filippo replied 
laughing that they could have built the cupola, 
too, if they had seen his model and designs. 
So it was resolved that the charge of the work 
should be entrusted to him. 

But while he was making ready to begin 
to build, some began to say that such a 
work as this ought not to be entrusted to one 
only, as too great a burden for one to bear 
alone. And Lorenzo Ghiberti, having obtained 
great credit by his gates of S. Giovanni, and 
being beloved by certain who had power with 
the Government, he was joined with Filippo 
in this work. What was Filippo's bitter despair 
when he heard of this may be imagined from 
his desiring to leave Florence; and had it not 
been for Donatello and Luca della Robbia, who 
comforted him, he would have gone out of his 
mind. He set to work with little will, know- 
ing that he should have all the trouble and yet 



66 STORIES FROM VASARI 

be obliged to share the honour and fame with 
Lorenzo. In this state of torment they went on 
working together until the end of 1426, when 
they had raised the walls twelve braccia, and it 
was time to begin works of wood and stone to 
strengthen it, which, being a difficult thing, he 
consulted Lorenzo to see whether he had con- 
sidered this difficulty, and he was so barren of 
suggestions that he only replied that he would 
leave it to him. The answer pleased Filippo, 
for he thought he had found a way of driving 
him from the work. One morning, therefore, 
he did not come to the place, but took to his 
bed, and lay groaning and causing hot cloths 
to be brought him constantly, pretending to 
be ill. 

So the masons, having waited for his orders 
in vain, went to Lorenzo, and asked what they 
were to do. But he replied that it was for 
Filippo to order, and they must wait for him. 
And one asked him, "Do you not know his 
mind ? " and Lorenzo answered, " Yes, but I wiil 
do nothing without him." And this he said to 
excuse himself, for he had never seen Filippo* s 
model. But when this had lasted two days the 
chief masons went to Filippo to ask what they 
were to do. And he answered, " You have 
Lorenzo, let him do a little." So there arose 
great murmuring among the men, some saying 



FILIPPO DI SER BRUNELLESCO 67 

that Lorenzo was good at taking his salary, but 
at giving orders, no ! 

Then the wardens of S. Maria went to see 
Filippo, and after having condoled with him on 
his sickness, told him how it had brought all the 
building into confusion. But he answered with 
passionate words, " Is not he there Lorenzo ? " 
And they answered, " He will do nothing with- 
out you." " I could do very well without him," 
said Filippo. 

But seeing that Lorenzo was willing to take 
his salary without any work for it, he thought 
of another way of bringing him to scorn; so, 
returning to his work, he made proposition to 
the wardens, Lorenzo being present, that as they 
had divided the salary so they should divide the 
work. "There are now two difficulties to be 
overcome, the one the matter of the scaffolding 
to bear the men, and the other the chain-work 
to bind the building together. Let Lorenzo 
take which he will, and I will do the other, that 
no time may be lost." Lorenzo, being forced 
in honour not to refuse, chose the chain-work, 
trusting to the advice of the masons, and re- 
membering that there was something like it in 
S. Giovanni. So they set to work, and Filippo's 
scaffolds were made so that the men could work 
as if they were on firm ground. Lorenzo with 
great difficulty made the chain-work on one of 



68 STORIES FROM VASARI 

the eight faces, and when it was finished the 
wardens took Filippo to see it, but he said 
nothing. But to his friends he said it ought to 
be secured in another way to that, and that it 
was not sufficient for the weight to be put upon 
it. And his words being heard, they called upon 
him to show how the thing ought to be done. 
So he brought out his models and designs, and 
they saw into what an error they had fallen in 
favouring Lorenzo. Then they made Filippo 
sole head and manager of the building, and 
commanded that none should work thereon but 
with his consent. 

Lorenzo, although vanquished and shamed, 
was so favoured by his friends that he was 
allowed to go on drawing his salary, having 
proved that they could not legally withdraw it 
for three years. 

So the works went forward, but the masons, 
being urged on by Filippo more than they were 
used to, began to grow weary, and joining to- 
gether in a body, they said it was hard work 
and perilous, and they would not go on without 
great pay, although they had more than was 
usual. Thereupon Filippo and those who had 
the management of the works, being displeased, 
took counsel together, and resolved on the 
Saturday evening to dismiss them all. And on 
the Monday following Filippo set ten Lombards 



FILIPPO DI SER BRUNELLESCO 69 

to the work, and being constantly with them, 
saying, "Do this here, and do that there," he 
taught them in a day so much that for many 
weeks they were able to carry on the works. 
The masons, on the other hand, seeing them- 
selves dismissed and their work taken from them, 
and finding no other work so profitable, sent 
men to intercede for them with Filippo. But 
for many days he kept them in suspense, and 
then received them at lower wages than they 
had received before. 

The building had now proceeded so far that 
it was a long way for any one to climb, and 
much time was lost in going down to dinner and 
to drink, for they suffered much from thirst in 
the heat of the day. So Filippo ordered that 
eating-houses should be opened in the cupola, 
where wine should be sold, and that no one 
should leave his work till the evening, which 
was a great convenience to them and profit to 
the work. 

Although he had now overcome envy and was 
everywhere praised, he could not prevent all the 
architects in Florence, after they had seen his 
model, from producing others; even a lady of 
the Gaddi family venturing to compete with 
him. He, however, laughed at them all, and 
some of them having introduced in their models 
parts of Filippo's work, he remarked one day 



70 STORIES FROM VASARI 

when looking at them, "The next model will 
be all mine." His own was infinitely praised, 
but because people could not see the staircase 
leading up to the ball, they said it was defective. 
So some of those presiding over the work came 
to him concerning the matter, and Filippo, 
raising a little piece of wood in his model, 
showed them the staircase in one of the piers, 
formed like a pipe, with bars of bronze on one 
side by which one could climb up. He did not 
live to see the lantern finished, but he left orders 
in his will that it should be done as it was in 
his model, otherwise he protested the building 
would fall. 

While this work was going on, Filippo under- 
took many other buildings, and his fame was 
spread abroad, so that any one who desired to 
build sent for him, among whom were the 
Marquis of Mantua and Count Francesco Sforza. 
Cosimo de' Medici also proposing to build him- 
self a palace, Filippo laid aside all his other 
occupations and made a large and most beautiful 
model for it. But Cosimo, thinking it too 
sumptuous a building, and fearing not so much 
the expense as the envy it would excite, did not 
have it put in execution. While he was working 
at the model, Filippo used to say he thanked 
fortune for the opportunity of designing a house, 
which he had desired for many years. Therefore 



FILIPPO DI SER BRUNELLESCO 71 

when he heard that Cosimo had decided not to 
have it carried out, in his anger he broke it 
into a thousand pieces. But Cosimo afterwards 
repented not having followed Filippo's design. 

Filippo was a facetious man in conversation, 
and would often give a witty answer. Lorenzo 
Ghiberti had bought a farm at Mount Morello, 
called Lepriano, on which he had to spend twice 
as much as it brought him in, so that it being 
an annoyance to him he sold it. Some one 
therefore asking Filippo what was the best 
thing Lorenzo had ever done, expecting as they 
were enemies he would begin to find fault with 
his works, he answered, "Selling Lepriano." 
Filippo at his death was greatly lamented by 
other artists, especially by those who were poor, 
whom he often assisted. So having lived as a 
Christian should, he left behind him a fragrant 
memory of his goodness and his great talents. 



CHAPTER VI 

DQNATELLO 

FILIPPO'S friend Donate, who was always called 
Donatello, was born in Florence in the year 
1383, and produced many works in his youth; 
but the first thing that caused him to be known 
was an Annunciation carved in stone for the 
church of S. Croce in Florence. For the same 
church he made a crucifix of wood, which he 
carved with extraordinary patience ; and when it 
was done, thinking it a very fine piece of work, 
he showed it to Filippo that he might have his 
opinion upon it. Filippo, who expected from 
what Donatello had said to see something better, 
when he looked at it could not help smiling a 
little. Donatello, seeing it, prayed him by their 
friendship to speak his mind truly, upon which 
Filippo, who was frank enough, replied that he 
seemed to him to have put on the cross a peasant 
and not Jesus Christ, who was the man most 
perfect in everything that ever was born. Dona- 
tello, feeling the reproach more bitterly because 
he had expected praise, replied, "If it were as 



DONATELLO 73 

easy to do a thing as to judge it, my Christ 
would not look like a peasant; but take some 
wood yourself and make one." Filippo with- 
out another word returned home, and, saying 
nothing to any one, set to work upon a crucifix, 
and aiming to surpass Donatello that he might 
not condemn himself, he brought it to great 
perfection after many months. Then one 
morning he invited Donatello to dine with him. 
Donatello accepted his invitation, and they went 
together to Filippo's house. Coming to the 
old market, Filippo bought some things and 
gave them to Donatello, saying, "Go on to the 
house and wait for me, I am just coming." So 
Donatello, going into the house, found Filippo's 
crucifix arranged in a good light ; and stopping 
to consider it, he found it so perfect that, over- 
come with surprise and admiration, he let his 
apron drop, and the eggs and cheese and all the 
other things that he was carrying in it fell to 
the ground and were broken. Filippo, coming 
in and finding him standing thus lost in 
astonishment, said, laughingly, "What are you 
about, Donatello? How are we to dine when 
you have dropped all the things?" "I," said 
Donatello, "have had enough. If you want 
anything, take it. To you it is given to do 
Christs, and to me peasants." 

After this he made for the fa9ade of S. Maria 



74 STORIES FROM VASARI 

del Fiore a Daniel and a S. John the Evangelist, 
and within the same church, for the organ 
gallery, those figures which, though they are 
only roughly sketched, seem when you look 
at them to be alive and move. For Donatello 
made his figures in such a way that in the room 
where he worked they did not look half as well 
as when they were put in their places. It was 
so with the S. Mark, which in company with 
Filippo he undertook for the joiners (though 
with Filippo's goodwill he completed it all him- 
self). When the masters of the company saw 
it while it was on the ground they did not 
recognise its value, and stopped the work; but 
Donatello begged them to let him put it up 
and work upon it, and he would turn it into 
quite another figure. Then, having set it up 
and screened it from view for a fortnight, when 
he uncovered it, although he had not touched 
it, every one was astonished at it. For the 
armourers he made a S. George in armour, 
very full of life, with all the beauty of youth 
and the courage of the soldier. 

For the fa?ade of S. Maria del Fiore he made 
also four figures, two of which were portraits 
from life, one young Francesco Soderini, and 
the other Giovanni de Barduccio Cherichini, 
which is now called the Zuccone, the bald man. 
This being considered more beautiful than any- 



DONATELLO 75 

thing he had ever done, Donatello used to 
swear by it, saying, " By the faith I bear to my 
bald man." While he was working upon it he 
would look at it and say, "Speak, speak!" 

Duke Cosimo de' Medici admired his talents 
so much that he made him work for him con- 
stantly; and he on his part bore such love to 
Cosimo that he undertook what he wished at 
the least sign, and obeyed him. There is a 
story told of a Genoese merchant who, by the 
'mediation of Cosimo, prevailed upon Donatello 
to make a bronze head for him. When it was 
finished, the merchant coming to pay him, 
thought that Donatello asked too much, so the 
matter was referred to Cosimo. He had it 
brought to the upper court of the palace and 
placed on the wall overlooking the street, that 
it might be seen better. But when he tried to 
settle the difference, he found the merchant's 
offer very much below Donatello's demand, and 
turning to him he said it was too little. The 
merchant, who thought it too much, answered 
that Donatello had worked upon it for a month, 
or a little more, and that would give him more 
than half a florin a day. Donatello upon that 
turned upon him in anger, thinking these words 
too great an insult, and telling the merchant 
that he had found means in a hundredth part 
of an hour to destroy the work of a year, he 



76 STORIES FROM VASARI 

gave the head a stidden blow and knocked it 
down into the street, where it was broken into 
many pieces, adding that it was evident he was 
in the habit of bargaining about beans and not 
statues. The merchant repenting, offered to 
give him double as much if he would make it 
again, but neither his promises nor Cosimo's 
entreaties could make him consent. 

In the houses of the Martelli are many works 
done by Donatello, and among them a David 
three braccia high, with many other things given 
to that family out of his love and devotion, 
particularly a S. John in high relief worked in 
marble, a most rare thing, belonging now to the 
heirs of Ruberto Martelli, who left command 
that it should never be pledged or sold or given 
away, under heavy penalties, in testimony of the 
kindness shown them by Donatello. 

At this time the Signory of Venice, hearing 
the fame of him, sent for him to make the 
monument to Gattamelata in the city of Padua. 
He undertook it very gladly, and made the 
statue that stands in the Piazza of S. Antonio, 
with the horse chafing and neighing, and its 
proud, spirited rider. Donatello showed himself 
in this so admirable, both for proportion and 
execution, that truly it may be compared to 
any ancient work. The Paduans sought by 
every means to prevail upon him to become a 




Donatello. 



Anderson, 



GENERAL GATTAMELATA 
(Patna) 



DONATELLO 77 

citizen and to stay there, giving him much work 
to do ; but finding himself considered a marvel, 
and praised on all sides, he determined to return 
to Florence, saying if he stayed there longer he 
should forget all he knew, being praised so 
much, and that he must return to his own city 
to be continually found fault with, for this 
fault-finding would be the cause of his studying 
more, and thereby winning greater glory. 

To sum up, Donatello was so admirable in 
knowledge, in judgment, and in the practice of 
his art that he may be said to have been the 
first to ^illustrate the art of sculpture among the 
moderns ; and he deserves the more commenda- 
tion because in his time few antiquities had been 
uncovered. He was one of those who aroused 
in Cosimo de* Medici the desire to bring anti- 
quities into Florence. He was most liberal and 
courteous, and kinder to his friends than him- 
self; nor did he care for money, keeping it in 
a basket hanging from the ceiling, where his 
workmen and friends could help themselves 
without saying anything to him. When he 
got old, therefore, and could not work, he was 
supported by Cosimo and his friends. Cosimo 
dying, recommended him to Piero his son, who, 
to carry out his father's wishes, gave him a farm 
in Cafaggiuolo on which he could live comfort- 
ably. Donatello was greatly pleased, thinking 



78 STORIES FROM VASARI 

he was now more than secure from dying of 
hunger. But he had not held it a year before 
he came to Piero and gave it him back, saying 
that he could not give up all his quiet to attend 
to domestic matters and to listen to the troubles 
of the farmer, who was at him every third day, 
now to complain that the wind had taken the 
roof off the pigeon-house, now that all the cattle 
had been taken to pay the taxes, and again that 
the storm had destroyed his vines and fruit trees ; 
that he was weary of the trouble, and would 
rather die of hunger than have to think of such 
things. Piero laughed at his simplicity, and 
taking back the land, made him a provision of 
the same value in money paid him every week, 
with which he was quite content, and passed all 
the rest of his life as friend and servant of the 
Medici without trouble or care. 

One of his pupils was Nanni d' Antonio di 
Banco, who, although he inherited riches and 
was not of low birth, yet delighting in sculpture, 
was not only not ashamed to learn it and to 
practise it, but obtained not a little glory in 
it. He was by nature rather slow, but modest, 
humble, and agreeable in conversation. The 
S. Philip in marble which is outside the Orsan- 
michele in Florence is from his hand. The 
work had been first allotted to Dpnatello by 
the guild of the shoemakers, but not being able 



DONATELLO 79 

to agree with him about the price, to spite 
Donatello they gave it to Nanni, who promised 
to take whatever they would give him. But 
when the statue was finished and set up, he 
asked a greater price than Donatello had asked. 
The consuls of the guild therefore turned again 
to Donatello, thinking that envy would make 
him estimate the value of the statue much lower 
than if it had been his work. But they were 
deceived, for Donatello gave judgment that 
more should be given to Nanni than he had 
asked. And they, not willing to agree to such 
a judgment, cried out to Donatello, "Why, if 
you would have done the work for less, do you 
value it more highly from the hand of another, 
and constrain us to pay more than he himself 
asks, and yet you acknowledge that it would 
have been better done if you had done it?" 
Donatello answered, laughing, "The good man 
is not as good at the art as I am, and suffers 
much more fatigue than I ; therefore it appears 
to me that as just men you are bound to pay 
him for the time that he has spent." So his 
decision was accepted, the two parties having 
agreed to abide by it. 

Below the niche in which it was placed are 
four saints in marble, made by Nanni for the 
guilds of the smiths, carpenters, and masons. 
It is said that when they were all finished he 



78 STORIES FROM VASARI 

he was now more than secure from dying of 
hunger. But he had not held it a year before 
he came to Piero and gave it him back, saying 
that he could not give up all his quiet to attend 
to domestic matters and to listen to the troubles 
of the farmer, who was at him every third day, 
now to complain that the wind had taken the 
roof off the pigeon-house, now that all the cattle 
had been taken to pay the taxes, and again that 
the storm had destroyed his vines and fruit trees ; 
that he was weary of the trouble, and would 
rather die of hunger than have to think of such 
things. Piero laughed at his simplicity, and 
taking back the land, made him a provision of 
the same value in money paid him every week, 
with which he was quite content, and passed all 
the rest of his life as friend and servant of the 
Medici without trouble or care. 

One of his pupils was Nanni d' Antonio di 
Banco, who, although he inherited riches and 
was not of low birth, yet delighting in sculpture, 
was not only not ashamed to learn it and to 
practise it, but obtained not a little glory in 
it. He was by nature rather slow, but modest, 
humble, and agreeable in conversation. The 
S. Philip in marble which is outside the Orsan- 
michele in Florence is from his hand. The 
work had been first allotted to Dpnatello by 
the guild of the shoemakers, but not being able 



DONATELLO 79 

to agree with him about the price, to spite 
Donatello they gave it to Nanni, who promised 
to take whatever they would give him. But 
when the statue was finished and set up, he 
asked a greater price than Donatello had asked. 
The consuls of the guild therefore turned again 
to Donatello, thinking that envy would make 
him estimate the value of the statue much lower 
than if it had been his work. But they were 
deceived, for Donatello gave judgment that 
more should be given to Nanni than he had 
asked. And they, not willing to agree to such 
a judgment, cried out to Donatello, "Why, if 
you would have done the work for less, do you 
value it more highly from the hand of another, 
and constrain us to pay more than he himself 
asks, and yet you acknowledge that it would 
have been better done if you had done it?" 
Donatello answered, laughing, "The good man 
is not as good at the art as I am, and suffers 
much more fatigue than I ; therefore it appears 
to me that as just men you are bound to pay 
him for the time that he has spent." So his 
decision was accepted, the two parties having 
agreed to abide by it. 

Below the niche in which it was placed are 
four saints in marble, made by Nanni for the 
guilds of , the smiths, carpenters, and masons. 
It is said that when they were all finished he 



80 STORIES FROM VASARI 

found that it was not possible to get more than 
three into the niche, he having made some of 
them extending their arms. Then in despair he 
came to Donatello and prayed him to advise 
him how to repair his mistake, Donatello, 
laughing at his dilemma, said, "If you will 
promise to pay for a supper for me and my 
lads I will undertake to make the saints go 
into the niche without any trouble." Nanni 
then, having given the promise very readily, 
Donatello sent him to take some measures t 
Prato, and to do some other matters that would 
take a few days. And when he was gone, 
Donatello, with all his pupils and workmen, 
set to work and cut off from the statues here 
a shoulder and there the arms, making them 
fit in close together, with the hand of one 
appearing over the next one's shoulder. So 
Donatello having linked them together to con- 
ceal Nanni's mistake, they remain as tokens of 
concord and brotherly kindness; while those 
who know nothing of the matter would never 
perceive the error. Nanni, on his return, find- 
ing that Donatello had rectified his mistake, 
gave him infinite thanks, and most willingly 
paid for the supper. 



CHAPTER VII 

FRA ANGELICO 

FRA GIOVANNI ANGELICO DA FIESOLE, whose 
secular name was Guido, deserves to be held in 
most honourable remembrance, both as an excel- 
lent painter and illuminator, and also as a perfect 
monk. He might have lived comfortably in the 
world, earning whatever he wished by his art, 
in which he excelled when still young, but being 
by nature good and serious, for his satisfaction 
and quiet, and also principally to save his soul, 
he entered the order of the Preaching Friars. 
There are in the convent of S. Marco in Florence 
some choir books illuminated by his hand, which 
are so beautiful that nothing could be better, 
and some others like them, which he left at 
S. Domenico of Fiesole, painted with incredible 
patience. It is true that in these he was aided by 
an elder brother, who was also an illuminator and 
skilled in painting. 

One of the first of this good father's paint- 
ings was in the Certosa of Florence, our Lady 
with the Child in her arms and angels at her feet 



82 STORIES FROM VASARI 

singing and playing. He also painted in fresco 
in S. Maria Novella. He was so beloved by 
Cosimo de' Medici that when the church and 
convent of S. Marco were built, he caused him 
to paint in it all the Passion of Jesus Christ, 
with many of the Saints. They say that for the 
figure of S. Cosimo Fra Giovanni drew from 

o 

life his friend the sculptor, Nanni d' Antonio 
di Banco. Below he painted S. Domenic at the 
foot of a tree, and in medallions among the 
branches all the popes, cardinals, bishops, saints, 
and doctors who had belonged to the order h of 
the Preaching Friars. In these the friars aided 
him by sending to different places and obtaining 
portraits from life. 

He also painted a picture for the high altar of 
S. Domenico of Fiesole, but this has been re- 
touched by other masters and injured; but 
other pictures there by him have been better 
preserved, and there are a number of little 
figures in celestial glory, which are so beautiful 
that they seem really in Paradise, and no one 
who sees them can ever weary of looking at 
them. But beyond all that Fra Giovanni ever 
did is a painting in the same, church of the 
Coronation of the Virgin in the midst of a choir 
of angels and an infinite number of saints, which 
it gives one a wonderful pleasure to look at, 
for it seems as if blessed spirits could look no 




THK KNTOMBMKNT. 
(J/terthefmw by 1'raJngtlttt) in the Convent ffS. Mark at Flormu, i 



FRA ANGELICO 83 

otherwise in heaven, at least if they had bodies, 
and they are all so lifelike and so sweet ; and 
the whole colouring also of the work seems to 
be from the hand of a saint or an angel, so that 
it was with good reason that he was always 
called Fra Giovanni Angelico. 
- By so many works the name of Fra Giovanni 
became famous in all Italy, and Pope Nicholas V. 
sent for him, and made him paint the chapel of 
the palace where the Pope hears mass, and also 
illuminate some books, which are most beautiful. 
And because Fra Giovanni seemed to the Pope, 
as he was indeed, a man of most holy life, quiet 
and modest, when the archbishopric of Florence 
fell vacant he adjudged him worthy of the rank ; 
but the friar, hearing of it, prayed his Holiness 
to give it to another, because he did not feel, 
himself "apt at governing men, and said that 
his order had another friar, loving to the poor, 
learned, skilled in government, and God-fearing, 
whom the dignity would much better become 
than it would him. The Pope hearing this, and 
perceiving that what he said was true, granted 
him the favour, and so. Fra Antonino, of the 
order of Preaching Friars, was made Archbishop 
of Florence, a man of such holiness that he was 
canonised by Adrian VI. in our days. And this 
great goodness of Fra Giovanni was in truth a 
rare thing, thus to give up a dignity and honour 



84 STORIES FROM VASARI 

offered him to one whom in sincerity of heart he 
judged more worthy of it than himself. And 
would to God that all religious men would 
spend their time as this truly angelical father 
did, in the service of God and to the benefit of 
the world and their neighbours. Fra Giovanni 
was a simple man and most holy in his habits, 
and one day when Pope Nicholas V. desired him 
to dine with him, he had scruples of conscience 
about eating meat without his prior's leave, not 
considering the Pope's authority. He would 
not follow the ways of the world, but lived 
purely and holily, and was a great friend of the 
poor. He painted constantly, and would never 
represent anything but the saints. He might 
have been rich, but did not care about it, saying 
that true riches are nothing else than being con- 
tent with little. He might have governed many, 
and would not, saying it was less troublesome to 
obey, and one was less liable to err in obeying. 
It was in his power to hold dignities among 
the friars and elsewhere, but he did not esteem 
them, affirming that he sought no other dignity 
than to escape hell and attain to Paradise. He 
was most kind and sober, keeping himself free 
from all worldly ties, often saying that he who 
practised art had need of quiet and to be able to 
live without cares, and that he who represents 
the things of Christ should always live with 



FRA ANGELICO 85 

Christ. He was never seen in anger by the 
friars, which is a great thing, and seems to me 
almost impossible to believe ; and he had a way 
of admonishing his friends with smiles. To 
those who sought his works he would answer, 
that they must content the prior, and then he 
would not fail. To sum up, this father, who 
can never be enough praised, was in all his works 
and words most humble and modest, and in his 
paintings facile and devout ; and the saints whom 
he painted have more the air and likeness of 
saints than those of any one else. It was his 
habit never to retouch or alter any of his paint- 
ings, but to leave them as they came the first 
time, believing, as he said, that "such was the will 
of God. Some say he would never take up his 
pencil until he had first made supplication, and 
he never made a crucifix but he was bathed in 
tears. 



., CHAPTER VIII 

ANTONEIXO DA MESSINA, ANDREA DAL CAS- 
TAGNO, AND DOMENICO VENEZIANO 

FROM the time of Cimabue pictures either on 
panel or canvas had been painted in distemper, 
although the artists felt that a certain softness 
and freshness was wanting. But although many 
had sought for some other method, none had 
succeeded, either by using liquid varnishes, or by 
mixing the colours in any other way. They 
could not find any way by which pictures on 
panels could be made durable like those on the 
walls, and could be washed without losing the 
colour. And though many times artists had 
assembled to discuss the matter, it had been in 
vain. This same want was felt also by painters 
out of Italy, in France, Spain, and Germany, and 
elsewhere. But while matters were in this state 
John of Bruges, 1 a painter much esteemed in 
Flanders, set himself to try various kinds of 
colours and different oils to make varnishes, being 
one who delighted in alchemy. For having once 

1 Johann van Eyck. 

86 



ANTONELLO DA MESSINA 87 

taken great pains in painting a picture, when he 
had brought it to a conclusion with great care, 
he put on the varnish and put it to dry in the 
sun, as is usual. But either the heat was too 
great or the wood not seasoned enough, for the 
panel opened at all the joints. Upon which 
John, seeing the harm that the heat of the sun 
had done, determined to do something so that 
the sun should not spoil any more of his works. 
And he began to consider whether he could 
not find a varnish that should dry in the shade 
without his having to put his pictures in the sun. 
He made many experiments, and at last found 
that the oil of linseed and the oil of nuts were 
the best for drying of all that he tried. Having 
boiled them with his other mixtures, he made 
the varnisli that he, or rather all the painters of 
the world, had been so long desiring. He saw 
also that when the colours were mixed with these 
oils, not only were they safe from injury by 
water when once they were dry, but the colours 
also had more lustre without the aid of any 
varnish, and besides, which seemed more mar- 
vellous to him, the colours blended better than 
in tempera. 

The fame of this invention soon spread not 
only through Flanders, but to Italy and many 
other parts of the world, and great desire was 
aroused in other artists to know how he brought 



88 STORIES FROM VASARI 

his works to such perfection. And seeing his 
pictures, and not knowing how they were done, 
they were obliged to give him great praise, while 
at the same time they envied him with a virtuous 
envy, especially because for a time he would not 
let any one see him work, or teach any one his 
secret. But when he was grown old he at last 
favoured Roger of Bruges, his pupil, with the 
knowledge, and Roger taught others. But 
although the merchants bought the paintings 
and sent them to princes and other great 
personages to their great profit, the thing was 
not known beyond Flanders. The pictures, 
however, especially when they were new, had 
that strong smell which mixing oil with colours 
gives them, so that it would seem the secret 
might have been discovered ; but for many years 
it was not. 

It came about then that some Florentines who 
traded in Flanders and Naples sent a picture by 
John containing many figures painted in oil to 
King Alfonso I. of Naples, and the picture 
pleasing him from the beauty of the figures and 
the new method of colouring, all the painters in 
the kingdom came together to see it, and it was 
highly praised by all. 

Now there was a certain Antonello da Messina, 
a man of an acute mind and well skilled in his 
art, who had studied drawing at Rome for many 



ANTONELLO DA MESSINA 89 

years, and afterwards worked at Palermo, and 
finally came back to Messina, his native place, 
having obtained a good repute for his skill in 
painting. He, going on business from Sicily to 
Naples, heard that this picture by John of Bruges 
had come from Flanders to the King Alfonso, 
and that it could be washed, and was altogether 
perfect. He contrived therefore to see it, and 
the vivacity of the colours, and the way in which 
they were blended, had such an effect upon him 
that, laying aside all other matters, he set off for 
Flanders. And when he came to Bruges he 
presented himself to John, and made him many 
presents of drawings in the Italian manner, and 
other things, so that John, moved by these and 
the deference Antonello paid him, and feeling 
himself growing old, allowed Antonello to see 
his method of painting in oil, and he did not 
leave the place until he had learnt all that he 
desired. But when John was dead Antonello 
returned to his country to make Italy participate 
in his useful and convenient secret. And after 
having spent some months- in Messina he went 
to Venice, where, being a person much given to 
pleasure, he determined to settle and end his 
days. There he painted many pictures in oil, 
and acquired a great name. 

Among the other painters of name who were 
then in Venice, the chief was a Master Domenico. 



9 o STORIES FROM VASARI 

He received Antonello when he came to Venice 
with as much attention and courtesy as if he 
were a very dear friend. Antonello therefore, 
not to be outdone in courtesy, after a little while 
taught him the secret of painting in oil. No act 
of courtesy or kindness could have been more 
pleasing to him, for it caused him to gain lasting 
honour in his native place. 

Now emulation and honest rivalry are things 
praiseworthy and to be held in esteem, being 
necessary and useful to the world ; but envy, 
which cannot endure that another should have 
praise and honour, deserves the utmost scorn and 
reproach, as may be seen in the story of the un- 
happy Andrea dal Castagno, who, great as he was 
in painting and design, was greater still in the 
hatred and envy that he bore to other painters, so 
that the shadow of his sin has hidden the splen- 
dour of his talents. He was born at a small farm 
called Castagno, from which he took his surname 
when he came to live in Florence.- Having been 
left an orphan in his childhood, he was taken by 
his uncle and employed by him many years in 
keeping cattle. While at such work it happened 
one day that to escape the rain he took refuge in 
a place where one of those country painters who 
work for little pay was painting a countryman's 
tabernacle. Andrea, who had never seen anything 
like it before, excited by curiosity, set himself to 



ANDREA DAL CASTAGNO 91 

watch and to consider the manner of such work, 
and there awoke within him suddenly such a 
strong desire and passionate longing for art that 
without loss of time he began to draw little 
figures and animals in charcoal, and carve them 
with the point of a knife on the walls or the 
stones, so as to excite no little marvel in those 
who saw them. The fame of this new study of 
Andrea's spread among the country people, and, 
as fortune would have it, it came to the ears of 
a Florentine gentleman, named Bernardetto de' 
Medici, 'who had land in those parts, and he 
desired to see the boy. And having heard him 
talk with much quickness and intelligence, he 
asked him if he would like to be a painter. And 
Andrea answering that there was nothing he 
desired more, he took him with him to Florence, 
and placed him with one of the masters who were 
at that time held to be the best. So Andrea, 
giving himself to study, showed great intelligence 
in overcoming the difficulties of the art. His 
colour was somewhat crude, but he was excellent 
in the movement of figures and in the heads both 
of men and women. One picture of his which 
excited the astonishment of artists was a fresco 
of the Flagellation, which would be the finest of 
all his works if it had not been so scratched 
and spoiled by children and simple people, who 
destroyed the heads and arms of the Jews to 



92 STORIES FROM VASARI 

avenge, as it were, the injury done to the 
Lord. 

Afterwards he was charged to paint a part of 
the larger chapel of S. Maria Nuova, another 
part being given to Alesso Baldovinetti, and a 
third to Domenico da Venezia, who had been 
brought to Florence on account of his new 
method of painting in oil. Then Andrea was 
seized with envy of Domenico, for although he 
knew himself to be more excellent than he in 
drawing, yet he could not bear that a foreigner 
should be caressed and honoured in such a 
manner by the citizens, and his rage and anger 
grew so hot that he began to think how he could 
rid himself of him. Nevertheless, Andrea was 
as clever in dissimulation as he was in painting, 
and could assume a cheerful countenance when- 
ever he liked ; he was ready in speech, proud, 
resolute in mind and in every gesture of his body. 
Being jealous of others as well as of Domenico, 
he used secretly to scratch their paintings. Even 
in his youth, if any one found fault with his 
works, he would let him know by blows or insults 
that he knew how to defend himself from injury. 

But now, resolving to do by treachery what he 
could not do openly without manifest danger, he 
feigned great friendship for this Domenico ; and 
he, being a good fellow and amiable, fond of 
singing and playing the lute, willingly made 



ANDREA DAL CASTAGNO 93 

friends with him, Andrea appearing to be both 
a man of talent and good company. And this 
friendship continuing, on one side real and on 
the other feigned, every night they were found 
together enjoying themselves, and serenading their 
loves, which Domenico much delighted in. He 
also, loving Andrea truly, taught him how to paint 
in oils, which was not yet known in Tuscany. 

Meanwhile, in the chapel of S. Maria Nuova, 
Andrea painted the Annunciation, which is con- 
sidered very fine ; and on the other side 
Domenico painted in oils S. Joachim and S. 
Anna and the birth of our Lady, and below the 
Betrothal of the Virgin, with a good number of 
portraits from life: Bernardetto de' Medici, 
constable of the Florentines, in a red cap, Ber- 
nardo Guadagni, the gonfalonier, Folco Portinari, 
and others of that family. But this work was 
left unfinished, as will be seen. Andrea, on his 
side, painted in oils the death of the Virgin, and 
showed that he knew how to manage oil colours 
as well as Domenico his rival. In this picture 
also he put many portraits from life, and in a 
circle himself like Judas Iscariot, as he was in 
truth and deed. 

Then having brought this work to a successful 
termination, blinded by envy at the praises he 
heard given to Domenico, he meditated how to 
rid himself of him ; and having thought of many 



94 STORIES FROM VASARI 

ways, he at last proceeded in this manner. One 
evening in summer, Domenico as usual took his 
lute and departed from S. Maria Nuova, leaving 
Andrea in his chamber drawing, he having re- 
fused to accompany him on the excuse of having 
to make certain drawings of importance. So 
Domenico being gone out to his pleasure, Andrea 
disguised himself and went to wait for him at the 
corner, and when Domenico came up, returning 
home, he struck at him with a leaden instru- 
ment, and breaking his lute, pierced him in the 
stomach at the same moment. But thinking he 
had not done his work as he wished, he struck 
him on the head heavily, and leaving him on 
the ground, returned to his room in S. Maria 
Nuova, and sat down to his drawing as Domenico 
had left him. In the meantime the servants, 
having heard a noise, ran out and heard what 
had happened, and came running to bring the 
evil tidings to Andrea, the traitor and mur- 
derer, whereupon he ran to the place where lay 
Domenico, and could not be consoled, crying 
out without ceasing, "Oh, my brother, my 
brother ! " At last Domenico died in his arms, 
and it could not be found out who it was that 
had slain him. Nor would it ever have been 
known, if Andrea on his death-bed had not 
made confession of the deed. 

He lived in honour ; but spending much, par- 



ANDREA DAL CASTAGNO 95 

ticularly on his dress and in his manner of living, 
he left little wealth behind him. When Giuliano 
de' Medici was slain, and his brother Lorenzo 
wounded, by the Pazzi and their adherents, the 
Signory resolved that the conspirators should be 
painted as traitors on the facade of the palace 
of the Podesta. And the work being offered to 
Andrea, he accepted it willingly, being much 
beholden to the house of Medici. He painted 
it surprisingly well, and it would be impossible 
to describe how much art he displayed in the 
portraits, painted for the most part from the 
men themselves, representing them hanging by 
their feet in all sorts of strange attitudes. The 
work pleased the people so much that from that 
time he was called no more Andrea dal Cas- 
tagno, but Andrea degli Impiccati, Andrea of 
the hanged men. 



CHAPTER IX 

FILIPPO LIPPI AND BOTTICELLI 

FRA FILIPPO DI TOMMASO LIPPI was born in 
Florence in a street called Ardiglione, behind the 
convent of the Carmelite fathers. By the death 
of Tommaso, his father, he was left an orphan 
when a poor little boy of two years old, his 
mother having died at his birth. He remained 
with his aunt until he was eight years old, when, 
being no longer able to support him, she made 
him a Carmelite friar. In the convent, although 
he was clever and dexterous with his fingers, he 
showed himself stupid at his letters, and would 
never apply his mind to learning. For the boy, 
who was still called by the name of Filippo, in- 
stead of studying while he was in his noviciate 
and under the discipline of the grammar master, 
did nothing but cover his books with drawings 
of figures, until at last the prior determined to 
give him every help in learning to paint. The 
chapel in the Carmine had been recently painted 
by Masaccio, and being most beautiful, pleased 
Fra Filippo greatly, and he used to go there 




DETAIL FROM THE VIRGIN AND CHILD. 
fPtUt Gallery, Florence.) 



FILIPPO LIPPI AND BOTTICELLI 97 

every day for his recreation. Working there in 
company with the many other youths who were 
always drawing there, he surpassed them greatly 
both in knowledge and skill, so that it was 
considered certain that he would do something 
wonderful in time. But even in his tender years 
he did something so good that it was marvel- 
lous ; for he painted a pope confirming the rule 
of the Carmelites and other pictures so much in 
Masaccio's style that many said that the spirit of 
Masaccio had entered into Fra Filippo. 

Finding himself thus praised by every one, at 
the age of seventeen he threw off the cowl. And 
going to Ancona, he was disporting himself one 
day with some of his friends in "a boat in the sea, 
when they were all captured by some Moorish 
ships that were scouring the bay, and carried off 
to Barbary, where they were chained as slaves. 
In this condition, in much suffering, he remained 
for eighteen months, but being much with his 
master, it came into his head one day to make 
his portrait, and taking a piece of charcoal out 
of the fire, he drew him at full length on the 
white wall in his Moorish dress. The other 
slaves told his master what he had done, and 
he thought it was a miracle, neither drawing nor 
painting being known in those parts, and this was 
the cause of his being set free from captivity. 
For having completed some works in colour for 

G 



98 STORIES FROM VASARI 

his master, he was conducted in safety to Naples, 
whence he soon returned to Florence. He was 
taken into great favour by Cosimo de' Medici, 
but being devoted to pleasure, he neglected his 
work for it. Cosimo therefore, when he was 
working for him in his house, caused him to be 
shut in, so that he could not go out and waste 
his time; but he, cutting up the sheets of the 
bed with a pair of scissors, made a rope and let 
himself down by the window. When after many 
days he returned to his work, Cosimo gave him 
his liberty, considering the peril he had run, 
and sought to keep him for the future by many 
favours, and so he served him more readily, 
saying that genius is a heavenly being, and not 
a beast of burden. 

While he was painting for the nuns of S. 
Margherita, he saw one day the daughter of 
Francesco Buti, a Florentine citizen, who was 
there either as a boarder or a novice. Fra 
Filippo, seeing Lucrezia, who was very beautiful, 
persuaded the nuns to let him paint her for the 
figure of our Lady. And falling in love with 
her, he contrived, when she was going to see 
the girdle of our Lady, the chief relic of the 
place, to carry her away. The nuns were much 
distressed at it, and Francesco, her father, was 
never happy again, and dicl all he could to re- 
cover her, but she would not return. 




( l>'rom t 



TIIK VISION 01- S. BERNARD. 
HtiHtf (*>' b'dippmo Lippi tn thf Baiim at Flo 



FILIPPO LIPPI AND BOTTICELLI 99 

Sandro Botticelli was a disciple of his, and his 
Own son Filippo was also a painter of fine genius. 
After his 'father's death, being then very young, 
he became Sandro Botticelli's pupil, . though his 
father in dying had commended him to Fra 
Diamante his friend, almost his brother. He 
was a man of great talent, copious invention in 
ornament, and introduced new methods of vary- 
ing the dresses, attiring many of his figures in 
antique garments. He made great use of ancient 
Roman vases, trophies, armour, swords, togas, 
and other such things. And when he died he 
was wept by all who had known him, not only 
for his excellence in his art, but for his good life 
and his courteous and amiable disposition. 

It was in the time of the magnificent Lorenzo 
de' Medici, which was indeed an age of gold 
for men of genius, that that Alessandro flourished 
who was -nicknamed according to our custom 
Sandro di Botticello. He was the son of a 
Florentine citizen, Mariano Filipepi, and was 
carefully taught all that it was usual to teach 
children in those times before they were ap- 
prenticed; but though he learnt readily all he 
wished, he was restless and discontented, so that 
his father, wearied with his fancies, placed him 
in despair with one of his acquaintances, a gold- 
smith named Botticello. There was at that time 
great intimacy and continual intercourse between 



ioo STORIES FROM VASARI 

the goldsmiths and the painters, and Sandro, 
attracted by painting, determined to take to it. 
His father, learning his wish, took him therefore 
to Fra Filippo, and placed him with him to learn 
his art. Giving himself to study, he followed 
his master so closely that he won Fra Filippo's 
affection, and was so well instructed by him as 
to rise rapidly to unexpected success. Having 
made himself a reputation, he was employed to 
paint in S. Marco, and did many things in the 
house of Lorenzo de' Medici, especially a Pallas 
as large as life, and a Sebastian. - He painted 
also in many houses in the city, and among 
them are a bust of Venus, and another Venus 
whom the Graces deck with flowers, denoting the 
spring. 

In S. Pietro Maggiore he made a picture for 
Matteo Palmieri with an infinite number of 
figures. This is the Assumption of our Lady, 
with the Zones of the heavens, the Patriarchs, 
Prophets, Apostles, Evangelists, Martyrs, Con- 
fessors, Doctors, and Hierarchies, according to 
the design given him by Matteo Palmieri, and 
this work he painted in a masterly manner and 
with infinite diligence. At the foot of the 
picture are Matteo and his wife kneeling. But 
although this work is most beautiful and ought 
to have overcome envy, some evil-minded persons, 
not able to find any other fault, said that Matteo 



FILIPPO LIPPI AND BOTTICELLI 101 

and Sandro were guilty of grave heresy, which, 
whether it be true or not, is not for me to judge. 
It is enough that Sandro deserves praise for his 
labours and the skill with which he represents 
the circles of the heavens, and for the fore- 
shortening of the figures of the angels and their 
various postures, all being well carried out with 
good drawing. 

About this time Sandro was charged with the 
painting of a little picture to be placed in S. 
Maria Novella, between the two doors. This is 
the Adoration of the Magi, and you may notice 
the first old man kissing the feet of our Lord, 
and overcome with tender emotion at the con- 
summation of his long journey. The figure of 
this king is the portrait of old Cosimo de' 
Medici, the most lifelike and most natural to 
be found in our days. The second king is 
Giuliano de' Medici, the father of Clement VII., 
who may be seen intent on offering devout 
reverence to the Child, and presenting his gift. 
The third, who is kneeling, and appears to 
be adoring Him and confessing Him the true 
Messiah, is Giovanni, son of Cosimo. 

Having made a name by such works, he was 
sent for by Pope Sixtus IV., who had built the 
chapel in his palace at Rome, and desired to 
have it adorned with paintings. He appointed 
Sandro master of the works, and there he painted 



102 STORIES FROM VASARI 

many things, by which he gained among his 
fellow-workers, both from Florence and other 
cities, fame and a great name. He received 
from the Pope a good sum of money, but this 
being soon consumed by living improvidently, 
as was his custom, and the work assigned him 
being finished, he returned to Florence. Being 
fond of sophistry, he made a commentary on 
Dante, and made illustrations for the " Inferno " 
and engraved them, spending much time upon 
them. He also engraved many of his designs, 
but in a bad manner, the best from his hand 
being the triumph of the faith of Fra Girolamo 
Savonarola of Ferrara, of whose sect he was such 
a strong partisan that he gave up painting. As 
he had no means of his own, this threw him 
into great difficulties; but adhering obstinately 
to that party, and becoming, as they called it, a 
Piagnone, he gave up working, so that at last 
he found himself old and poor ; and if Lorenzo 
de' Medici while he lived, and after him other 
of his friends, had not remembered him, he 
would have died of hunger. 

Sandro was a very amusing person, and fond of 
playing tricks on his pupils and friends. There 
is a story that he had a pupil named Biagio, who 
copied a round picture of his master's, repre- 
senting the Madonna with angels round her, for 
sale, and Sandro sold it for him to a citizen for 



FILIPPO LIPPI AND BOTTICELLI 103 

six gold florins. Meeting Biagio afterwards he 
said to him, " I have sold your picture at last, 
so to-night you must hang it where it will be 
better seen, and to-morrow go and fetch the man 
and bring him here that he may see it well, then 
he will pay the money." " Oh, how well you 
have done, master ! " said Biagio ; and going to 
the workshop he hung the picture up and went 
away. Then Sandro and Jacopo, another of his 
pupils, made of paper eight red caps, such as 
the citizens of Florence wear, and fixed them 
with some white wax on the heads of the eight 
angels round the Madonna in the picture. The 
next morning Biagio appears, bringing with him 
the man who had bought the picture, and who 
knew all about the trick. And coming in, 
Biagio raised his eyes and saw his Madonna, 
not in the midst of the angels, but sitting in the 
midst of the Signory of Florence; and he was 
about to cry out and to begin to excuse himself 
to the purchaser, when he perceived that he was 
silent and only praised the picture, so he re- 
mained silent also. At last Biagio, going with 
the man to his house, received his six florins as 
his master had agreed, and returned to- the work- 
shop. Meanwhile Sandro and Jacopo had taken 
off the caps, and he saw his angels were angels, 
and not citizens in caps. Altogether stupefied, 
he knew not what to say, but at last, turning 



104 STORIES FROM VASARI 

to Sandro, he cried, "Master, I do not know 
whether I am dreaming, or whether it was true. 
These angels when I came in had red caps on 
their heads, and now they have not ; what does 
it mean ? " " You are out of your mind, Biagio," 
answered Sandro. "This money has sent you 
mad. If it had been so do you think the man 
would have bought it?" "That is true,'* 
answered Biagio, <e he said nothing about it ; it 
seemed to me strange all the time.'' And all the 
other boys came round him and talked till they 
made him believe he had been off his head. 

A cloth weaver came at one time to live next 
door to Sandro, and set up eight looms, which 
when they were at work not only deafened poor 
Sandro with the noise of the treadles, but also 
shook the house, so that there was no wall 
strong enough to stand it, and with one thing 
and another it was impossible to work or to stay 
in the house. He asked his neighbour many 
times to put a stop to this annoyance, but he 
only answered that in his own house he could 
and would do what pleased him. Then Sandro, 
getting angry, set up on his wall, which was 
higher than his neighbour's, and not very strong, 
a huge stone, poised so that every time the wall 
shook it seemed to be just about to fall and 
crush the roof and beams and the looms of his 
neighbour. The man, alarmed at the danger, 



F1LIPPO LIPPI AND BOTTICELLI 105 

came running to Sandro, but he gave him answer 
in his own words, that in his own house he could 
and would do whatever pleased him ; and the 
weaver could get no other answer, until at last 
he was forced to come to terms, and be a better 
neighbour to Sandro. 

It is said that he held in high honour those 
whom he knew to be studious in art, and that 
he earned much himself, but from want of 
management and carelessness things went wrong. 
When he was old he became infirm, and used to 
go about with two sticks, not being able to stand 
upright ; and so he died at the age of seventy- 
eight, and was buried in Ogni Santi in Florence, 
in the year 1515. 



CHAPTER X 

PIERO DELLA FRANCESCA AND LUCA 
SIGNORELLI 

THERE are some unhappy men who, having 
striven by labour and study to produce work 
profitable to others which will keep their names 
in memory, are prevented by infirmity or death 
from bringing their work to perfection. And 
often it happens that their works left unfinished 
are appropriated by others, who seek thus to hide 
their ass's hide under the lion's skin. So it befell 
Piero della Francesca dal Borgo S. Sepolcro, a 
great master in perspective, arithmetic, and geo- 
metry, who was prevented by blindness in his 
old age from bringing to light the books he had 
written. And he who, having learnt all he knew 
from him, ought to have used all his powers to 
win for him glory and a great name, sought 
instead to conceal the name of Piero his pre- 
ceptor, and to usurp his honour, by publishing 
the good old man's works under his own name, 
that of Fra Luca dal Borgo. 

Piero was born in Borgo S. Sepolcro, now a 



106 



PIERO BELLA FRANCESCA 107 

city, but not so at that time, and he was called 
della Francesca after his mother, because his 
father was dead before he was born, and it was 
she who brought him up, and aided him to attain 
to the rank he reached. Piero studied mathe- 
matics in his youth, and although from the age 
of fifteen he became a painter, he never gave 
up his mathematical studies, and his productions 
brought him so much credit that he was em- 
ployed by the Duke of Urbino, and left in that 
place many of his writings on geometry and per- 
spective, which are inferior to none of his time. 

Afterwards, being fetched to Rome by Nicholas 
V., he painted in his palace two pictures, which 
were afterwards destroyed by Pope Julius II., 
that Raffaello might paint there the imprison- 
ment of S. Peter. Thence he went to Loreto, 
and painted there in company with Domenico 
Veneziano ; but the plague breaking out, he left 
his work unfinished, and it was afterwards com- 
pleted by Luca of Cortona his pupil. From 
Loreto he went to Arezzo, where he painted 
the whole history of the Cross, from the time 
when the sons of Adam, laying him in the tomb, 
placed under his tongue the seeds of the tree 
from which the cross sprang, to the exaltation 
of the Cross by the Emperor Heraclius. 

Piero was, as we have said, most studious in 
his art, and had a good knowledge of Euclid, 



io8 STORIES FROM VASARI 

so that Maestro Luca dal Borgo, who wrote on 
geometry, was his pupil. Lorentino d'Angelo 
was also his pupil, and finished the works that 
he left incomplete at his death. There is a 
story told of this Lorentino that once when 
the carnival was near his children kept begging 
him to kill a pig, as the custom was in those 
parts. Then, remembering that he had no 
money, they said, " What will father do to buy 
the pig without money ? " To which he replied, 
"Some saint will help us." But when he had 
said this many times and no pig appeared, their 
hopes began to fail. But at last there came a 
countryman who, to fulfil a vow, wanted a S. 
Martin painted, but had nothing to give for the 
picture but a pig that was worth five lire. When 
Lorentino heard this he said he would paint the 
picture, and would take nothing but the pig for 
it. Lorentino painted the saint, and the country- 
man brought the pig, and so the saint provided 
the pig for the poor children. 

Piero Perugino was also his pupil, but the 
one who did him most honour was Luca 
Signorelli of Cortona. For Luca Signorelli was 
in his time as famous a painter in Italy as any 
one has ever been. While he worked in Arezzo 
with Piero, dwelling in the house of Lazzaro 
Vasari his uncle, he imitated the manner of Piero 
his master, so that one could be hardly known 



LUCA SIGNORELLI 109 

from the other. His first works were in Arezzo, 
where he painted in many churches. There is 
a S. Michael weighing souls, which is admirable, 
and in which may be seen his power in painting 
the splendour of armour with all the reflections 
of light. Having come to Florence to see the 
works of the masters there, he painted on a 
canvas some of the old gods, which were much 
admired, and a picture of our Lady, and pre- 
sented them both to Lorenzo, who would never 
be surpassed by any one in magnificent liberality. 

In the principal church of Orvieto he com- 
pleted the chapel begun by Fra Giovanni da 
Fiesole, painting the story of the end of the 
world with a strange and fantastical imagination ; 
with angels, demons, earthquakes, fire, and ruin, 
together with many beautiful figures, and essaying 
to represent the terror of the last tremendous 
day. So that I do not marvel that Luca's works 
were always highly praised by Michael Angelo, 
nor that some things in his own divine Judg- 
ment were taken in part from Luca, such as 
angels, demons, the. order of the heavens, and 
other things in which he imitated him, as any 
one can see. 

It is told of him that when one of his sons 
whom he loved much was killed at Cortona, 
being very beautiful in face and form, Luca in 
the midst of his grief set himself with great 



i io STORIES FROM VASARI 

constancy to paint his portrait, shedding no tears, 
nor giving way to grief, that he might always 
see through the work of his hands him whom 
nature had given to him and adverse fortune 
taken from him. 

At last, having produced works for almost all 
the princes of Italy, he returned to Cortona, and 
in his last years worked rather for pleasure than 
anything else. Thus in his old age he painted a 
picture for the nuns of Santa Margherita in 
Arezzo, and another for the company of S. 
Girolamo, which was borne from Cortona to 
Arezzo on the shoulders of men of the com- 
pany. Luca, old as he was, came to put it up, 
desiring again also to see his friends and relations. 
He lodged in the house of the Vasari; I was 
then a little boy of eight years old, and I 
remember how the good old man, who was very 
courteous and gracious, having heard from the 
master who gave me my first instruction that 
I attended to nothing at school but drawing 
figures, I remember, I say, how he turned to 
Antonio, my father, and said, "Antonio, let 
Giorgino learn to draw by all means, for even 
if later he takes to literature, drawing will still 
be of use and honour and profit to him, as it 
is to all men." Then turning to me, as I was 
standing in front of him, he said, " Study, little 
kinsman," adding many other things of which 



LUCA SIGNORELLI in 

I will say nothing, because I know I have not 
confirmed the opinion which the good old man 
had of me. When he heard that I suffered from 
nose-bleeding to such a degree that I was often 
left half dead, he with great tenderness hung a 
piece of jasper round my neck, and this remem- 
brance of Luca is for ever fixed in my mind. 

So having put the picture in its place, he 
returned to Cortona, accompanied for a great 
distance by many of the citizens and of his 
friends and relatives. 



CHAPTER XI 

GHIRLANDAJO, COSIMO ROSSELLI, AND 
PIERO DI COSIMO 

DOMENICO DI TOMMASO DEL GHIRLANDAJO 

was put by his father to his own art of a gold- 
smith. Tommaso had been the first to make 
those ornaments for the head which are worn by 
Florentine girls, and which are called garlands, 
whence he acquired the name of Ghirlandajo. 
But although Domenico was a goldsmith he was 
continually drawing, and became so quick and 
ready at it, that many say he could draw a like- 
ness of any one who passed the shop ; and this 
is the more readily to be believed as there are in 
his works a great number of lifelike portraits. 

Having brought himself into notice by his 
works, he was employed by Francesco Sassetti to 
paint a chapel with the story of S. Francesco, in 
which he introduced among many other noted 
citizens the magnificent Lorenzo de' Medici. 
Afterwards he was called to Rome to help in 
the painting of the Sistine Chapel, atnd while 
there was employed by Francesco Tornabuoni in 



GHIRLANDAJO 113 

painting the wall round the tomb of his wife 
which Andrea Verrocchio made. He painted 
here four pictures, with which Francesco was 
so pleased that when Domenico returned to Flo- 
rence, he recommended him by letter to Giovanni, 
one of his relatives. When Giovanni heard it, 
he began to wish to employ him upon some 
magnificent work which would bring honour to 
his own memory and fame to Domenico. And 
at that time it happened that the principal chapel 
in S. Maria Novella, which had been painted by 
Andrea Orcagna, through a fault in the roof had 
been spoilt by water. Many of the citizens had 
been wishing to have it restored or repainted, 
but the owners, being the Ricci, would not agree, 
not being able to bear the expense themselves, 
and not willing that others should do it, lest 
they should lose their rights and their arms 
should be taken down. Giovanni, desiring to 
give it to Domenico to paint, set himself to 
obtain leave in some way or other, and at last 
promised the Ricci to bear all the expense him- 
self, and to put their arms in the most con- 
spicuous and honourable place in the chapel. 
So, having come to terms, and a contract being 
drawn up of very strict tenour, Giovanni set 
Domenico to work, the price to be twelve hundred 
ducats of gold, and if the work pleased him two 
hundred more. 



ii 4 STORIES FROM VASARI 

So Domenico set to work and never rested till 
he had finished it in four years, which was in 
1485, to the very great satisfaction of this 
Giovanni, who allowed that he had been well 
served, and confessed ingenuously that Domenico 
had earned the two hundred ducats extra, but 
said it would give him pleasure if he would be 
content with the first sum ; and Domenico, who 
loved glory more than riches, gave up the re- 
mainder at once, saying he cared more to satisfy 
him than to have the money. 

Then Giovanni had two great coats-of-arms 
made in stone, one of the Tornaquinci family 
and the other of the Tornabuoni, and set them 
up on. piers outside the chapel, and in the arch, 
besides other arms of the same family with 
different names and different shields, the Gia- 
chinotti, Popoleschi, Marabottini, and Cardinali. 
And when Domenico made the altar-piece under 
an arch in the gilded ornament of the picture, he 
had a very beautiful tabernacle for the Sacrament 
made, and in the front of it he put a little shield 
blazoned with the arms of the Ricci. And the 
best of it was at the opening of the chapel, for 
the Ricci having sought with a great outcry for 
their arms, not being able to find them, went to 
the magistrates, taking the contract with them. 
But the Tornabuoni showed that their arms had 
been placed in the most conspicuous and the 



GHIRLANDAJO 115 

most honourable place in the chapel, and though 
they exclaimed .that they could not be seen, 
they were told that they were wrong, and that 
as they had been placed in the most honourable 
place, near to the Holy Sacrament, they must 
be content. And so it was decided by the 
magistrates. 

For the same Giovanni Tornabuoni Domenico 
painted a chapel in his house a little way from 
the city. He was so fond of work, and so 
anxious to please every one, that he used to tell 
his scholars to take any commission that was 
brought to the shop, if it were only the hoops 
for women's petticoat panniers, for if they would 
not do them he would paint them himself rather 
than that any one should go away from his shop 
discontented. He disliked greatly any domestic 
cares, and therefore left all the management to 
his brother David, saying, "Let me work and 
you see about providing everything, for now that 
I have begun to understand the methods of the 
art, I am sorry that they have not given me the 
whole circuit of the walls of Florence to paint." 
They say that when he was drawing the anti- 
quities at Rome, arches, columns, coliseums, and 
amphitheatres, he did it all by eye, without rule 
or measurement. Drawing the Coliseum in this 
way, he put at the foot of it a figure erect, by 
measuring which you can find the measurement 



ii6 STORIES FROM VASARI 

of the whole building, for, being tried by capable 
men after his death, it was found correct. 

He painted some things at the Abbey of 
Passignano belonging to the monks of Vallom- 
brosa, together with his brother David and 
Bastiano da S. Gimignano. Before the arrival 
of Domenico, the painters found themselves very 
ill entertained by the monks, so they requested 
the abbot to serve them better, saying it was not 
fair to treat them like labourers. The abbot 
promised to do so, and excused himself, saying 
it came from ignorance and not malice. But 
Domenico came, and all went on in the same 
way, so David, going to the abbot again, said he 
came not on his own account, but because of his 
brother's worth and talents. The abbot, being 
however an ignorant man, made a similar reply. 
In the evening, as they sat down to supper, the 
monk who had the charge of the strangers, came 
bringing a board with porringers and food fit 
only for coarse people just as before ; upon which 
David, springing up in a rage, flung the soup 
over the friar's back, and taking up the loaf from 
the table attacked him with it, and struck him 
so fiercely that he was carried half dead to his 
cell. The abbot, who was already in bed, hear- 
ing the noise, sprang up and came out, thinking 
the monastery was falling into ruins, and finding 
the friar in bad case began to reproach David. 



GHIRLANDAJO 117 

But he, being infuriated, bade him take himself 
off, for his brother Domenico was worth more 
than all the pigs of abbots that ever were in that 
monastery. And from that time the abbot took 
pains to treat them as they ought to have been 
treated. 

Domenico had a pupil named Jacopo 1'Indaco, 
who was a reasonably good master in his time. 
It is not strange that few works left his hands, 
for he was a merry, idle fellow, and would never 
work if he could help it. He used to say it was 
not a Christian thing to do nothing but labour 
and take no pleasure. He was very intimate 
with Michael Angelo, and that great artist, when 
he wanted recreation after his great labours of 
mind and body, could find no one more to his 
humour. And because he found pleasure in his 
chatter and his jokes, he used to have him 
constantly to dine with him. But one day, 
becoming wearisome, as such people generally 
do become to their friends by their continual 
chatter without discretion and at wrong times, 
Michael Angelo, to get rid of him, having 
something else to do, sent him out to buy some 
figs. And as soon as Jacopo was out of the 
house he fastened the door behind him, deter- 
mined not to let him in when he came back. 
So when 1'Indaco came back from the market, 
and found, after knocking at the door in vain 



n8 STORIES FROM VASARI 

for some time, that Michael Angelo would not 
open it, he took the figs and the leaves in which 
they were wrapped and strewed them all over the 
threshold. Then he went away, and for many 
months he would not speak to Michael Angelo ; 
and though they afterwards made it up, they 
were never such friends as before. 

Cosimo Rosselli was called to Rome at the 
same time as Domenico Ghirlandajo to paint in 
the Sistine Chapel, and there, working in company 
with Sandro Botticelli, Luca da Cortona, and 
Piero Perugino, he painted three pictures. There 
is a story told that the Pope had offered a prize 
to the painter who, according to the Pope's own 
judgment, should work best. When the pictures 
were finished, his Holiness went to see -them, 
every painter having done his utmost to deserve 
the reward. Cosimo, knowing himself to be weak 
in invention and design, had sought to hide his 
defects by covering his picture with the finest 
ultramarine and other bright colours, and there 
was not a tree, or a blade of grass, 'or a garment, 
or a cloud that was not shining with gold, for he 
thought that the Pope, understanding little of 
art, would give him the prize on that account. 
When the day was come that all their works 
were uncovered, and his was seen, it was received 
with great laughter and many scoffing jests by 
the other artists, who all mocked him without 



HERO DI COSIMO 119 

pity. But in the end the laughter was turned 
against them, for, as Cosimo had imagined, the 
colours dazzled the eyes of the Pope, who did 
not much understand such matters, although he 
took great pleasure in them, and he decided that 
Cosimo had done much better than all the others. 
And having given him the prize, Jhe commanded 
the others to cover their pictures with the best 
azure that could be found, and to touch them up 
with gold, that they might be like Cosimo's in 
colour and richness. So the poor painters, filled 
with despair at having to satisfy the Holy Father's 
small understanding, set themselves to spoil all 
their good work, and Cosimo laughed at those 
who a little before had laughed at him. 

He afterwards returned to Florence with a little 
money, and lived comfortably there, having as his 
pupil Piero, who was always called Piero di Cosimo. 

This Piero was the son of one Lorenzo, a 
goldsmith, but is never known under any other 
name than Piero di Cosimo. His father, seeing 
his inclination to drawing, gave him into Cosimo's 
care, who received him willingly, and loved him 
as his son; and always considered him as such. 
The boy had by nature a lofty spirit, being 
absent-minded, and very different from the other 
boys who studied under Cosimo. He would 
get so intent -on what he was doing that if a 
matter was being discussed with him it would 



120 STORIES FROM VASARI 

sometimes be necessary to begin again, and go 
over the whole matter a second time, because 
his mind had gone away to something else. 
And he was so fond of solitude that he had 
no greater pleasure than going by himself to 
weave fancies and build castles in the air. His 
master Cosimo made great use of him, and 
could leave him to conduct matters of import- 
ance, knowing that Piero had a better manner 
and more judgment than himself. He took him 
with him to Rome when Pope Sixtus summoned 
him to work in his chapel, and in one of his 
pictures there Piero painted a most beautiful 
landscape. And because he drew well from 
nature he painted in Rome the portraits of 
many distinguished men. 

After the death of Cosimo he shut himself 
up, and would let no one see him work, living 
more like a wild beast than a man. He would 
never have his rooms swept, eat just when he 
felt hungry, would not have his garden dug or 
the fruit trees pruned, but let the vines grow 
and their branches trail on the ground, and 
seemed to find pleasure in seeing everything as 
wild as his own nature, saying that things of 
this sort ought to be left to nature to take 
care of. He would often go to see any animal 
or plant that was made strangely, and would 
talk of it until he wearied his hearers. 



PIERO DI COSIMO 121 

He had seen some things of Leonardo's, 
finished with the extreme care that Lionardo 
would take when he wished to show his art, 
and this manner pleasing Piero, he sought to 
imitate it, though he was very far from attaining 
to Leonardo's skill, and was unlike him ; indeed, 
he may be said to have changed his manner in 
almost everything he did. If he had not been 
so abstracted, and had taken more care of 
himself, he would have made his great genius 
known, so that he would have been adored; 
whereas he was generally held to be mad, 
though he did no harm except perhaps to 
himself, and did good to his art by his works. 

I must not forget to say that Piero in his 
youth, having a fantastic and strange invention, 
was often employed in the masquerades at the 
carnival, and was therefore much in favour with 
the noble Florentine youths, greatly improving 
with his invention that pastime. Some say he 
was the first to turn them into a kind of 
triumphal procession ; at any rate, he improved 
them, introducing music appropriate to the 
subjects represented, and adding pompous and 
splendid processions of men and horses in suit- 
able habits and costumes. And certainly it was 
a fine thing to see at night twenty-five or 
thirty pairs of horses, richly accoutred, with 
their masters attired according to the subject 



122 STORIES FROM VASARI 

represented, six or eight attendants in livery 
following each cavalier, torch in hand, perhaps 
to the number of four hundred, and behind 
them the car with trophies and fantastical 
extravagances, all which things give great plea- 
sure to the people. I will just touch briefly 
on one of his inventions in mature years, not 
because of its agreeableness, but, on the con- 
trary, because by its strange and unexpected 
horror it gave no- little pleasure to the people. 
This was the car of Death, made in such secrecy 
in the hall of the Pope that no one was allowed 
to see it. It was a triumphal car, hung in black 
and painted with dead men's bones and white 
crosses, and drawn by buffaloes; and on the 
car was a great figure of Death with a scythe 
in his hand, and all round were tombs. At the 
places where the triumphal procession was used 
to stop to sing, the tombs opened and there 
came out figures dressed in black, on which 
were painted the bones of the skeleton, horrible 
to look at, and they sang to the sound of muffled 
trumpets in melancholy music that noble song 

" Dolor, pianto e penitenza," &c. 

Before and after the car rode a great number 
of the dead on horseback, singing in a trembling 
voice the Miserere. 



PIERO DI COSIMO 123 

This spectacle, from its novelty, satisfied all, 
and Piero, the author and inventor, was much 
praised and commended. 

I heard Andrea di Cosimo, and Andrea del 
Sarto, his pupils, who aided him in the prepara- 
tion, say that it was the opinion of the time 
that it was intended to signify the return of 
the house of Medici, for they were then exiles, 
or, as you may say, dead, and were soon to rise 
again ; and so some of the words of the song 
were interpreted. 

None could paint horrible dragons better than 
he, as may be seen from a sea monster which 
he presented to the magnificent Giuliano de' 
Medici. This monster is now in the Guardaroba 
of Duke Cosimo de' Medici, where is also a 
book of animals of the same kind, most beautiful 
and strange, and drawn with the greatest patience. 
Indeed, in all his works there is a spirit very 
different from that of others, and a certain sub- 
tilty in investigating nature regardless of time 
or fatigue, only for his own pleasure. And 
indeed it could not be otherwise, for, enamoured 
of nature, he cared not for his own comfort, 
but brought himself to living on hard eggs, 
which, to spare firing, he cooked when he boiled 
his varnishes, not six or eight at once, but by 
fifties, keeping them in a basket to consume 
by degrees. This sort of life he enjoyed so 



i2 4 STORIES FROM VASARI 

much that he thought all other to be mere 
slavery. He could not endure the crying of 
children, the sound of coughing, the ringing of 
bells, or the chanting of friars; but when the 
skies were pouring down rain he liked to see 
it rushing from the roofs and streaming down 
the streets. He had great fear of lightning, 
and when it thundered he would wrap himself 
in his cloak, and shutting his windows and the 
door of his room, would hide himself in a 
corner until it was over. His conversation was 
so varied that sometimes he would say things 
that would make people shake with laughing. 
But with old age he grew more strange and 
fantastical, and would not even have his pupils 
near him. He wanted still to work, but could 
not, being paralysed, and in paroxysms of rage 
would try to force his hands to keep steady, 
and would drop now his mahlstick, and now 
his pencils, until it made one sad to see him. 
The flies and even the shadows irritated him. 
He would talk of the sufferings of those who have 
lingering diseases, and would accuse physicians 
and nurses of letting sick men die of hunger, 
besides torturing them with syrups and medicines. 
He would say that it was a fine thing to die by 
the hand of justice in the open air, with many 
people round you, supported by good words, 



PIERO DI COSIMO 

and having the priest and the people praying 
for you, and going with the angels to Paradise. 
In such strange talk and ways he lingered on, 
till one morning he was found lying dead at 
the foot of the stairs. 



CHAPTER XII 

FRA BARTOLOMMEO AND MARIOTTO 
ALBERTINELLI 

IN the country of Prato, distant from Florence 
ten miles, at a village called Savignano, was born 
Bartolommeo, whose name, according to Tuscan 
use, was shortened into Baccio. Showing apti- 
tude for drawing in his childhood, through the 
mediation of Benedetto da Maiano he was placed 
in Cosimo Rosselli's workshop, dwelling for many 
years with some of his relatives near the gate 
of S. Piero Gattolini, so that he was never known 
by any other name than Baccio della Porta. In 
the same workshop was Mariotto Albertinelli, 
who formed such a close intimacy with Baccio 
della Porta that they were one soul and one 
body, and there was such a brotherly friendship 
between them that, when Baccio left Cosimo to 
practise his art by himself as a master, Mariotto 
went with him, and there at the gate of S. Piero 
Gattolini they lived, producing many works 
together. But as Mariotto was not so well 

grounded in drawing as Baccio, he gave himself 

126 



FRA BARTOLOMMEO 127 

to the study of the antiquities that were then in 
Florence, the greater number and the best of 
which were in the house of the Medici. For the 
garden there was full of antique fragments, the 
study not of Mariotto alone, but of all the 
sculptors and painters of his time. Mariotto 
profited greatly by the study of these antiquities, 
and took service with Madonna Alfonsina, the 
mother of Duke Lorenzo, who gave him every 
assistance. He drew Madonna Alfonsina from 
life very well, and seemed to have found his 
fortune by being admitted to her friendship. 
But in the year 1494, Piero de' Medici being 
banished, her aid failed him, and he returned 
to the house of Baccio, where he set himself to 
study from nature, and to imitate Baccio* s works, 
until in a little while many mistook his paintings 
for Baccio's. 

Baccio was much beloved in Florence, being 
assiduous at work, quiet, good-hearted, and God- 
fearing. A quiet life pleased him best; he 
avoided all vicious habits, delighted in hearing 
preaching, and sought the company of learned 
and grave persons. At this time Fra Girolamo 
Savonarola from Ferrara, the famous theologian 
of the order of Preaching Friars, was at S. Mark's, 
and Baccio, constantly frequenting his preaching, 
came into close intercourse with him, and almost 
lived at the convent, being joined in friendship 



128 STORIES FROM VASARI 

with the other friars also. Fra Girolamo preach- 
ing constantly that evil pictures and amorous 
books and music tempted men to evil deeds, the 
people were heated by his words; and at the 
Carnival, when it was the custom to make bon- 
fires on the piazzas, and on the Tuesday evening 
to dance round them, Fra Girolamo's influence 
prevailed so greatly that they brought to that 
place pictures and sculpture, many even from the 
hands of great masters, and also books, lutes, and 
songs, and there was great destruction, especially 
of pictures. Baccio brought all the studies and 
drawings that he had made from nude figures, 
and Lorenzo di Credi imitated his example, and 
many others also who were known as Piagnoni. 
Also from the affection he bore to Fra Girolamo 
he painted his portrait, which was a most beautiful 
work. Afterwards it happened that the contrary 
party rose against Fra Girolamo to seize him 
and deliver him into the hands of justice. The 
friends of the friar, being aware of it, assembled 
in S. Mark's to the number of more than five 
hundred, and shut themselves up there, Baccio 
being one of them. But being 'indeed a man of 
little courage, or rather, very timid and cowardly, 
when he heard them attack the convent, and saw 
some wounded and killed, he began to be in 
great fear, and made a vow that if he escaped 
he would assume the religious habit. So when 



FRA BARTOLOMMEO 129 

the tumult was over, and the friar was taken and 
condemned to death, as historians have related, 
Baccio went away to Prato, and made himself a 
friar of S. Domenic at that place, as you will find 
written in the chronicles of the convent, on the 
26th day of July, 1500, to the great grief of all 
his friends, who lamented his loss exceedingly, 
and chiefly because they had heard that he had 
made up his mind not to have anything more to 
do with painting. 

Mariotto, losing his companion, was almost 
beside himself, and so strange did it seem to him 
that he could take no pleasure in anything ; and 
if he had not always disliked the society of 
friars, whom he constantly spoke against, being 
of the party that was contrary to the faction of 
Fra Girolamo, his love for Baccio would have 
operated so strongly that he would himself have 
assumed the cowl in the same convent. But 
Gerozzo^Dini prayed him to finish a picture of 
the Judgment which Baccio had left unfinished, 
and Fra Bartolommeo entreated him also, having 
received money for the picture, and his conscience 
therefore reproaching him; so Mariotto applied 
himself to it, and completed it with such dili- 
gence and earnestness that many would think it 
was done by one hand alone. 

Afterwards Mariotto, with his pupils, painted 
a picture of the Crucifixion in the Certosa of 



130 STORIES FROM VASARI 

Florence. But the friars not treating them in 
the matter of food to their taste, some of the 
boys who were studying with him, without 
Mariotto knowing anything about it, contrived 
to counterfeit the keys of the windows through 
which the friars received their pittance into their 
cells, and secretly, sometimes from one and 
sometimes from another, they stole the food. 
There were great complaints on the subject 
among the friars, for in questions of eating they 
are as quick to feel as others ; but the boys doing 
it dexterously, and being supposed honest, the 
blame was laid on some of the friars, until at 
last one day the thing was found out. Then 
the friars, that the work might be finished, con- 
sented to give double rations to Mariotto and his 
scholars. 

Mariotto was a restless person and fond of 
good living, and taking a dislike to the mental 
exertion necessary to painting, being also often 
stung by the tongues of other painters, as is their 
way, he resolved to give himself to a less labo- 
rious and more jovial profession, and so opened a 
hostelry outside the gate S. Gallo, and the tavern 
of the Dragon at the old bridge. This life he 
led for many months, saying that he had taken 
up an art that was without muscles, foreshorten- 
ing, or perspective, and what was better still, 
without fault-finding, and that the art that he 




( . l/ttr t 



THE VIRGIN AND CHILD. 
I>v l-ra Krtoh>tttt\t in the t onrfni o/ i*. Mark at /'/< f. ?, 1 



MARIOTTO ALBERTINELLI 131 

had given up imitated flesh and blood, but this 
made flesh and blood ; in this if you had good 
wine you heard yourself praised, but in that 
every day you were blamed. But at last the low 
life became an annoyance to him, and, filled with 
remorse, he returned to painting. 

After Fra Bartolommeo had been many months 
at Prato, he was. sent by his superiors to 
S. Mark's at Florence, where the brethren re- 
ceived him gladly. And in those days Bernardo 
del Bianco had made a chapel in the abbey of 
Florence, and desiring to put a picture there 
worthy of the ornament, it came into his mind 
that Fra Bartolommeo would be the right man, 
and he set all his friends to work to obtain him. 
Now Fra Bartolommeo was in the convent, think- 
ing of nothing but the holy services and his rule, 
although the prior had prayed him earnestly, and 
the friends most" dear to him besought him, to 
paint something, and already four years had 
passed since he had done anything; but now, 
being pressed by Bernardo del Bianco, he at last 
began the picture of the Vision of S. Bernard. 

Raffaello da Urbino came at this time to study 
art at Florence, and taught the rules of perspec- 
tive to Fra Bartolommeo; for Raffaello, being 
desirous to colour in the friar's manner, was 
always with him. Afterwards, when he heard of 
the great things that the graceful Raffaello and 



1 32 STORIES FROM VASARI 

Michael Angelo were doing in Rome, Fra Bar- 
tolommeo obtained leave to go there, and being 
entertained by Fra Mariano del Piombo, he 
painted for him two pictures of S. Peter and 
S. Paul. But because he could not succeed there 
as he had done at Florence, being, as it were, 
overwhelmed by the ancient and modern works 
which he saw in such abundance, he determined 
to depart, leaving Raffaello to finish one of the 
pictures, the S. Peter, which was given to Fra 
Mariano, entirely retouched by Raffaello's hand. 
So he came back to Florence ; and many having 
reproached him with not being able to paint the 
human body, he set himself to work to show he 
was as apt at it as any one else, and painted a 
S. Sebastian, which received great praise from 
artists. But the friars removed it from the 
church, and it was afterwards sent to the King 
of France. 

Fra Bartolommeo held that it was best when 
you were working to have the things before 
you, and for the draperies and armour, and such 
things, he made a model of wood as large as life, 
with joints, and clothed it with garments, by 
which he accomplished great things, being able at 
his pleasure to keep them without being moved 
until he had finished his work. 

While he was painting for Pietro Soderini, in 
the Council Hall, it happened that he had to 



MARIOTTO ALBERTINELLI 133 

work under a window, and the light striking 
upon him constantly, he was paralysed on that 
side, and could not move himself. He was ad- 
vised, therefore, to go to the baths of S. Fiiippo, 
where he stayed a long time, but to little purpose. 
Fra Bartolommeo was very fond of fruit, but it 
was hurtful to him; and one morning, having 
eaten a great many figs, he was taken with a 
violent fever, which cut short his life in four 
days, at the age of forty-eight. His friends, 
and especially the friars, mourned him much, and 
they gave him honourable burial in S. Mark's. 



CHAPTER XIII 

THE BELLINI AND ANDREA MANTEGNA 

JACOPO BELLINI, the Venetian painter, had been 
a pupil of Gentile da Fabriano, and after the 
departure of Domenico Veniziano from Venice, 
found himself without a rival there. He had 
also two sons of fine genius, the one named 
Giovanni and the other Gentile, named after 
Gentile da Fabriano, whom he held in memory 
as his loving master and father. As his two sons 
grew up, Jacopo himself taught them diligently 
the principles of drawing, but before long they 
both surpassed their father greatly. This re- 
joiced him much, and he constantly encouraged 
them, saying that as the Tuscans boasted that they 
grew strong by conquering each other, so he desired 
that Giovanni should first conquer him, and then 
that he and Gentile should contend together. 

He painted many pictures with the aid of his 
sons on canvas, as they almost always do in that 
city, using very seldom the panels of maple or 
poplar, which are so pleasant to work upon. For 
if they use wood in Venice, it is always the wood 



134 



THE BELLINI 135 

of the fir-tree, which is brought in abundance to 
that city down the river Adige from Germany. 
But usually they paint on canvas, either because 
it does not crack or because you can make the 
picture any size you will, or for the convenience 
of sending them about. 

Afterwards separating, they lived apart, but 
none the less did the two sons reverence each 
other, and both their father, praising each the 
other, and each esteeming himself inferior, thus 
seeking to surpass one another no less in kindness 
and courtesy than in the excellence of their art. 

The admiration excited by their paintings 
caused many of the Venetian gentlemen to pro- 
pose that they should take advantage of the 
presence of such rare masters to have the Hall 
of the Great Council painted with stories of the 
great deeds done by the city in war, and other 
things worthy of memory. And this work was 
entrusted by those in rule to Giovanni and 
Gentile Bellini, and the painter Vivarino; but 
poor Vivarino, having accomplished part with 
great honour, died, and it was necessary that 
Giovanni Bellini should complete his work. 

Not long after, some portraits having been 
taken to Turkey to the Grand Turk by an 
ambassador, that emperor was so struck with 
astonishment that, although the Mahometan laws 
prohibit pictures, he accepted them with great 



136 STORIES FROM VASARI 

goodwill, praising the work without end, and 
what is more, requesting that the master himself 
be sent to him. But the senate, considering that 
Giovanni could ill support the hardships, resolved 
to send Gentile his brother, and he was conveyed 
safely in their galleys to Constantinople, where 
being presented to Mahomet, he was received 
with much kbdness as a new thing. He pre- 
sented a beautiful picture to the prince, who 
admired it much, and could not persuade himself 
to believe that a mortal man had in him so much 
of the divinity as to be able to express the things 
of nature in such a lively manner. Gentile 
painted the Emperor Mahomet himself from life 
so well that it was considered a miracle, and the 
emperor, having seen many specimens of his art, 
asked Gentile if he had the courage to paint 
himself; and Gentile having answered "Yes," 
before many days were over he finished a life-like 
portrait by means of a mirror, and brought it to 
the monarch, whose astonishment was so great 
that he would have it a divine spirit dwelt in 
him. And had not this art been forbidden by 
the law of the Turks, the emperor would never 
have let him go. But either from fear that 
people would murmur, or from some other cause, 
he sent for him one day, and having thanked 
him, and given him great praise, he bade him to 
ask whatever he would and it should be granted 



THE BELLINI 137 

him without fail. Gentile modestly asked for 
nothing more than that he would graciously give 
him a letter of recommendation to the Senate and 
Signory of Venice. His request was granted in 
as fervent words as possible, and then, loaded 
with gifts and honours, and with the dignity of a 
cavalier, he was sent away. Among the other 
gifts was a chain of gold of two hundred and 
fifty crowns weight, worked in the Turkish 
manner. So, leaving Constantinople, he came 
safely to Venice, where he was received by his 
brother Giovanni and the whole city with joy, 
every one rejoicing in the honours which Mahomet 
had paid him. When the Doge and Signory 
saw the letters of the emperor, they ordered 
that a provision of two hundred crowns a year 
should be paid him all the rest of his life. 

Gentile painted a few works after his return ; 
but at last, being near eighty, he passed away to 
another life, and was buried honourably by his 
brother Giovanni. Giovanni, widowed of Gentile, 
whom he had always loved tenderly, continued 
to work for some time, and applied himself to 
painting portraits from life with such success 
that it became the custom for every one who 
attained to any rank or position to have their 
portraits painted by him, or some other. At 
last, having attained to the age of ninety, he died 
and was buried by the side of his brother. 



138 STORIES FROM VASARI 

Connected with this family by marriage was 
Andrea Mantegna, who came of very low birth, 
and when a boy kept cattle in the country round 
Mantua ; but as he grew up, Jacopo Squarcione, 
a Paduan painter, took him into his house and, 
perceiving his talents, adopted him as a son. 
Squarcione, however, knowing himself to be not 
the best painter in the world, and desiring that 
Andrea might learn more than he knew himself, 
made him study from copies of antique statues 
and pictures, which he fetched from different 
places, particularly Tuscany and Rome. By 
these means Andrea learnt much, and began to 
produce works of so great promise that Jacopo 
Bellini, the father of Gentile and Giovanni, and 
the rival of Squarcione, gave him for a wife one 
of his daughters. But when Squarcione heard of 
it, he was so enraged with Andrea that he became 
his enemy, always finding fault with his pictures 
publicly, saying it would be better if he did not 
colour his pictures, but made them the colour 
of marble, for they had no resemblance to life. 
These reproaches stung Andrea much, but 'they 
were of use to him, for he perceived that they 
were in great part true, and set himself therefore 
to study from life. Nevertheless it was always 
Andrea's opinion that for study good antique 
figures were 'better than life, because in them 
the perfection of nature taken from many 



ANDREA MANTEGNA 139 

persons is united, which is rarely the case in 
one body. 

For Lodovico Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, 
who esteemed him greatly, he painted much, re- 
presenting for him the Triumph of Caesar, which 
is the best thing he ever did. He gained so 
much fame by it that Innocent VIII. , hearing of 
him, sent for him to Rome. It is said that the 
Pope, being much occupied, did not give money 
to Mantegna as often as he wanted it, and there- 
fore when he was painting the Virtues he put 
among them Discretion. And the Pope, going 
one day to see the work, asked Andrea what it 
was, and he answered, "She is Discretion/* So 
the Pope answered, " If you would have her well 
accompanied, put by her side Patience." And the 
painter saw what the Holy Father meant, and said 
no more. But when the work was finished, the 
Pope sent him away with many rewards and 
favours. 

He delighted, as Pollaiuolo did, in engraving, 
and among other things engraved his Triumph. 
He was a man of gentle manners, and will be 
remembered not only in his country but through 
all the world, so that he deserved to be celebrated 
by Ariosto, who at the beginning of the 33rd 
canto, enumerating the most illustrious painters 
of his time, says 

" Lionardo, Andrea Mantegna, Gian Bellino." 



CHAPTER XIV 

LIONARDO DA VINCI 

ANDREA DEL VERROCCHIO was in his time a 
goldsmith, sculptor, carver in wood, painter, and 
musician. For, having made a name for himself 
as a goldsmith, he was sent for to Rome, to work 
in the Pope's chapel, and perceiving the great 
esteem in which the ancient statues which had 
been found in Rome were held, he determined 
to apply himself to sculpture, and, entirely aban- 
doning his goldsmith's trade, he set himself 
to cast some figures in bronze. These being 
much praised, he took courage and began to 
work in marble also. Just at that time the 
wife of Francesco Tornabuoni died, and the 
husband, who had loved her much, desired to 
set up a monument to her honour, and entrusted 
it to Andrea, who carved upon it the death of 
the lady and three figures of Virtues, which 
brought him much praise. So he returned to 
Florence with money, fame, and honour, and 
was employed to cast in bronze the ornaments 

for the tomb of Giovanni and Piero di Cosimo 

140 



LIONARDO DA VINCI 141 

de* Medici, and other works. But finding that 
he could not increase his fame in this art, being 
also a person to whom it was not enough to excel 
in one thing only, he turned his thoughts to 
painting, and made some sketches for pictures. 
He began to work upon them in colour, but 
from some cause they were left unfinished. 
There are many drawings by his hand, and 
among them some heads of women, with the 
hair arranged in that manner that Lionardo 
da Vinci always imitated. 

The cupola of S. Maria del Fiore was now 
finished, and after much consultation it was 
resolved to make the ball of copper, to be placed 
on the top according to the directions left by 
Filippo Brunellesco. The work was entrusted 
to Andrea, and he made it four braccia high, 
and set it up, fixing it firmly so that the cross 
could be put upon it securely. The work was 
finished and set up with great feasting and 
rejoicing. It required great ingenuity and care, 
for it had to be made so that it could be entered 
from below, and strengthened with supports, lest 
the wind should do it injury. 

Andrea was never at rest, but always working 
at something, though he often changed from 
one work to another, growing weary of the 
same thing. Though he never carried out the 
sketches for pictures which we mentioned before, 



i 4 2 STORIES FROM VASARI 

he did paint some pictures, and among them 
was one for the friars of Vallombrosa, of 
S. John baptizing Christ, in which Lionardo 
helped him, and which was the cause that Andrea 
resolved never to touch a brush again. 

At this time the Venetians were desiring to 
pay honour to Bartolommeo Colleoni da Bergamo, 
who had won them many victories ; and having 
heard of the fame of Andrea, they fetch3T~iiim 
to Venice, and gave him command to make a 
bronze statue of the captain, to be set up on 
the Piazza of S. Giovanni and S. Paolo. He 
made therefore the model of a horse, and was 
preparing to cast it in bronze, when it was 
decided, at the wish of some of the nobles, that 
Vellano da Padova should make the figure of 
the general, and Andrea the horse only. As 
soon as Andrea heard this, he broke off the head 
and the legs of his model, and, without saying 
a word, returned to Florence in a rage. When 
the Signory heard of his departure, they sent 
a message to him that he had better not dare 
ever to return to Venice, or they would cut. 
off his head, to which he replied in writing that 
he would take - care, for if they cut off people's 
heads, it was not in their power to put them 
on again, while he could restore the head to 
the horse that he had broken off, or a finer one 
still. The reply did not displease the Signory, 




orenzodi Credt. 



THE ANNUNCIATION. 
( Vffisi Gallery, Florenct ) 



Anderson. 



LIONARDO DA VINCI 143 

and they made him return to Venice, doubling 
the money for his provision. So he mended 
his first model, and cast it in bronze ; but , he 
did not perfectly finish it, for being heated in 
casting it, he caught a chill, of which he died 
in a few days. 

Among his many disciples the one he loved 
most was Lorenzo di Credi. He was the son 
of Andrea Sciarpelloni, and was apprenticed by 
his father to Master Credi the goldsmith, where 
before long he became so excellent in the work 
that to the great honour of Credi he was always 
called not Lorenzo Sciarpelloni, but Lorenzo 
di Credi. Afterwards he attached himself to 
Andrea Verrocchio, having Piero Perugino and 
Lionardo da Vinci for his companions ; and 
because Lionardo's manner of painting pleased 
him greatly, he learnt to imitate him. Lorenzo 
was so much beloved by his master that when 
Andrea went to Venice he left Lorenzo in charge 
of all his business and his revenues, with all his 
drawings and statues and materials for work. 
And Lorenzo on his side was so attached to his 
master that, besides attending to his affairs in 
Florence with wonderful affection, he went more 
than once to Venice to see him and render him 
account of his management. This gave Andrea 
so much satisfaction that, if Lorenzo would have 
consented, he would have made him his heir. 



i 4 4 STORIES FROM VASARI 

When Andrea died Lorenzo went to Venice 
and brought his body back to Florence, giving 
up to the heirs everything that was Andrea's, 
except the statues and drawings and things 
of art. 

But the greatest of all Andrea's pupils was 
Lionardo da Vinci, in whom, besides a beauty 
of person never sufficiently admired and a won- 
derful grace in all his actions, there was such 
a power of intellect that whatever he turned 
his mind to he made himself master of with 
ease. 

Marvellous and divine, indeed, was Lionardo 
the son of Ser Piero da Vinci. In erudition and 
letters he would have distinguished himself, if 
he had not been variable and unstable. For he 
set himself to learn many things, and when he 
had begun them gave them. up. In arithmetic, 
during the few months that he applied himself 
to it, he made such progress that he often 
perplexed his master by the doubts and diffi- 
culties that he propounded. He gave some 
time to the study of music, and learnt to play 
on the lute, improvising songs most divinely. 
But though he applied himself to such various 
subjects, he never laid aside drawing and 
modelling in relief, to which his fancy inclined 
him more than to anything else; which Ser 
Piero perceiving, he took some of his drawings 



LIONARDO DA VINCI 145 

one day and carried them to Andrea del 
Verrocchio, with whom he was in close friend- 
ship, and prayed him to say whether he thought, 
if Lionardo gave himself up to drawing, he 
would succeed. Andrea was astounded at the 
great beginning Lionardo had made, and urged 
Ser Piero to make him apply himself to it. 
So he arranged with Lionardo that he was to 
go to Andrea's workshop, which Lionardo did 
very willingly, and set himself to practise every 
art in which design has a part. For he had 
such a marvellous mind that, besides being a 
good geometrician, he worked at modelling 
(making while a boy some laughing women's 
heads, and some heads of children which seem 
to have come from a master's hand), and also 
made many designs for architecture ; and he 
was the first, while he was still quite young, 
to discuss the question of making a channel 
for the river Arno from Pisa to Florence. 
He made models of mills and presses, and 
machines to be worked by water, and designs 
for tunnelling through mountains, and levers 
and cranes for raising great weights, so that it 
seemed that his brain never ceased inventing ; 
and many of these drawings are still scattered 
about. Among them was one drawn for some 
of the citizens then governing Florence, to show 
how it would be possible to lift up the church 

K 



146 STORIES FROM VASARI 

of S. Giovanni, and put steps under it without 
throwing it down ; and he supported -his scheme 
with such strong reasons as made it appear 
possible, though as soon as he was gone every 
one felt in his mind how impossible it really 
was. 

He delighted much in horses and also in all 
other animals, and often when passing by the 
places where they sold birds he would take 
them out of their cages, and paying the price 
that was asked for them, .would let them fly 
away into the air, restoring to them their lost 
liberty. 

While, as we have said, he was studying art 
under Andrea del Verrocchio, the latter was 
painting a picture of S. John baptizing Christ ; 
Lionardo worked upon an angel who was holding 
the clothes, and although he was so young, he 
managed it so well that Lionardo's angel was 
better than Andrea's figures, which was the 
cause of Andrea's never touching colours again, 
being angry that a boy should know - more 
than he. 

There is a story that Ser Piero, being at his 
country house, was asked by one of the country 
people to get a round piece of wood, which he 
had cut from a fig-tree, painted for him in 
Florence, which he very willingly undertook 
to do, as the man was skilled in catching birds 




Verocchio and Lionardo. 

DETAIL FROM SAINT JOHN BAPTISING CHRIST. 
(Accademia, Florence.) 



LIONARDO DA VINCI 147 

and fishing, and was very serviceable to Ser 
Piero in these sports. So having it brought to 
Florence without telling Lionardo where it came 
from, he asked him to paint something upon 
it. Lionardo, finding it crooked and rough, 
straightened it by means of fire, and gave it to 
a turner that it might be made smooth and even. 
Then having prepared it for painting, he began 
to think what he could paint upon it that would 
frighten every one that saw it, having the effect 
of the head of Medusa. So he brought for this 
purpose to his room, which no one entered but 
himself, lizards, grasshoppers, serpents, butterflies, 
locusts, bats, and other strange animals of the 
kind, and from them all he produced a great 
animal so horrible and fearful that it seemed to 
poison the air with its fiery breath. This he 
represented coming out of some dark broken 
rocks, with venom issuing from its open jaws, 
fire from its eyes, and smoke from its nostrils, 
a monstrous and horrible thing indeed. And 
he suffered much in doing it, for the smell in 
the room of these dead animals was very bad, 
though Lionardo did not feel it from the love 
he bore to art. When the work was finished, 
Lionardo told his father that he could send for 
it when he liked. And Ser Piero going one 
morning to the room for it, when he knocked 
at the door, Lionardo opened it, and telling him 



148 STORIES FROM VASARI 

to wait a little, turned back into the room, placed 
the picture in the light, and arranged the window 
so as to darken the room a little, and then 
brought him in to see it. Ser Piero at the first 
sight started back, not perceiving that the creature 
that he saw was painted, and was turning to go, 
when Lionardo stopped him saying, "The work 
answers the purpose for which it was made. 
Take it then, for that was the effect I wanted 
to produce." The thing seemed marvellous to 
Ser Piero, and he praised greatly Lionardo's 
whimsical idea. And secretly buying from a 
merchant another circular piece of wood, painted 
with a heart pierced with a dart, he gave it to 
the countryman, who remained grateful to him 
as long as he lived. But Lionardo's Ser Piero 
sold to some merchants in Florence for a hun- 
dred ducats, and it soon came into the hands of 
the Duke of Milan, who bought it of them for 
three hundred ducats. 

Lionardo was so pleased whenever he saw a 
strange head or beard or hair of unusual appear- 
ance that he would follow such a person a whole 
day, and so learn him by heart, that when he 
reached home he could draw him as if he were 
present. There are many of these heads to be 
seen, both of men and women, such as the head 
of Americo Vespucci, which is the head of an 
old man most beautifully drawn in chalk ; and 



LIONARDO DA VINCI 149 

also of Scaramuccia, captain of the gipsies. 
When Giovan Galeazzo, Duke of Milan, was 
dead, and Lodovico Sforza became duke in the 
year 1494, Lionardo was brought to Milan to 
play the lute before him, in which he greatly 
delighted. Lionardo brought an instrument 
which he had made himself, a new and strange 
thing made mostly of silver, in the form of a 
horse's head, that the tube might be larger and 
the sound more sonorous, by which he surpassed 
all the other musicians who were assembled there. 
Besides, he was the best improvisatore of his 
time. The duke, hearing his marvellous dis- 
course, became enamoured of his talents to an 
incredible degree, and prayed him to paint an 
altar-piece of the Nativity, which he sent to the 
emperor. 

He also painted in Milan for the friars of 
S. Domenic, at S. Maria delle Grazie, a Last 
Supper, a thing most beautiful and marvellous. 
He gave to the heads of the apostles great 
majesty and beauty, but left that of Christ im- 
perfect, not thinking it possible to give that 
celestial divinity which is required for the re- 
presentation of Christ. The work, finished after 
this sort, has always been held by the Milanese 
in the greatest veneration, and by strangers also, 
because Lionardo imagined, and has succeeded in 
expressing, the desire that has entered the minds 



150 STORIES FROM VASARI 

of the apostles to know who is betraying their 
Master. So in the face of each one may be seen 
love, fear, indignation, or grief at not being able 
to understand the meaning of Christ; and this 
excites no less astonishment than the obstinate 
hatred and treachery to be seen in Judas. Be- 
sides this, every lesser part of the work shows 
an incredible diligence; even in the table-cloth 
the weaver's work is imitated in a way that could 
not be better in the thing itself. 

It is said that the prior of the place was very 
importunate in urging Lionardo to finish the 
work, it seeming strange to him to see Lionardo 
standing half a day lost in thought; and he 
would have liked him never to have put down 
his pencil, as if it were a work like digging the 
garden. And this not being enough, he com- 
plained to the duke, and was so hot about it that 
he was constrained to send for Lionardo and 
urge him to the work. Lionardo, knowing the 
prince to be acute and intelligent, was ready to 
discuss the matter with him, which he would not 
do with the prior. He reasoned about art, and 
showed him that men of genius may be working 
when they seem to be doing the least, working 
out inventions in their minds, and forming those 
perfect ideas which afterwards they express with 
their hands. He added that he still had two 
heads to do ; that of Christ, which he would not 



LIONARDO DA VINCI 151 

seek for in the world, and which he could not 
hope that his imagination would be able to con- 
ceive of such beauty and celestial grace as was 
fit for the incarnate divinity. Besides this, that 
of Judas was wanting, which he was considering, 
not thinking himself capable of imagining a form 
to express the face of him who after receiving so 
many benefits had a soul so evil that he was 
resolved to betray his Lord and the creator of 
the world; but this second he was looking for, 
and if he could find no better there was always 
the head of this importunate and foolish prior. 
This moved the duke marvellously to laughter, 
and he said he was a thousand times right. So 
the poor prior, quite confused, left off urging 
him and left him alone, and Lionardo finished 
Judas's head, which is a true portrait of treachery 
and cruelty. But that of Christ, as we have 
said, he left imperfect. The excellence of this 
picture, both in composition and incomparable 
finish of execution, made the King of France 
desire to carry it into his kingdom, and he tried 
every way to find architects who could bring it 
safely, not considering the expense, so much he 
desired to have it. But as it was painted on the 
wall his Majesty could not have his will, and it 
remained with the Milanese. 

In the refectory, and while he was working at 
the Last Supper, he painted Lodovico with his 



152 STORIES FROM VASARI 

eldest son, Massimiliano, and on the other side 
the Duchess Beatrice with Francesco her other 
son, both afterwards Dukes of Milan. While 
he was employed upon this work he proposed to 
the duke that he should make a bronze eques- 
trian statue of marvellous size to perpetuate the 
memory of the Duke (Francesco Sforza). He 
began it, but made the model of such a size that 
it could never be completed. There are some 
who say that Lionardo began it so large because 
he did not mean to finish it, as with many of his 
other things. But in truth his mind, being so 
surpassingly great, was often brought to a stand 
because it was too venturesome, and the cause of 
his leaving so many things imperfect was his 
search for excellence after excellence, and perfec- 
tion after perfection. And those who saw the 
clay model that Lionardo made, said they had 
never seen anything more beautiful or more 
superb, and this was in existence until the French 
came to Milan with Louis, King of France, when 
they broke it to pieces. There was also a small 
model in wax, which is lost, which was considered 
perfect, and a book of the anatomy of the horse 
which he made in his studies. Afterwards with 
greater care he gave himself to the study of 
human anatomy, aided by, and in his turn aiding, 
that Messer Marc Antonio della Torre who was 
one of the first to shed light upon anatomy, 



LIONARDO DA VINCI 153 

which up to that time had been lost in the shades 
of ignorance. In this he was much helped by 
Lionardo, who made a book with drawings in 
red chalk, outlined with a pen, of the bones 
and muscles which he had dissected with his 
own hand. There are also some writings of 
Lionardo written backward with the left hand, 
treating of painting and methods of drawing and 
colouring. 

In his time the King of France came to Milan, 
and Lionardo was entreated to make something 
strange for his reception, upon which he con- 
structed a lion, which advanced some steps and 
then opened his breast and showed it full of 
lilies. Having returned to Florence, he found 
that the Servite monks had entrusted Filippino 
with the work of painting an altar-piece; but 
when Filippino heard that Lionardo had said he 
should have liked such a piece of work, like the 
courteous man he was he left off working at it, 
and the friars brought Lionardo to their convent 
that he might paint it, providing both for himself 
and his household. For a long time, however, 
he did nothing, but at last he made a cartoon of 
our Lady with S. Anne and the infant Christ, 
which not only astonished all artists, but when 
it was finished, for two days his room was filled 
with men and women, young and old, going as 
to a solemn festival to see Lionardo's marvels. 



154 STORIES FROM VASARI 

This cartoon afterwards went to France. But 
he gave up the work for the friars, who recalled 
Filippino, but he was surprised by death before 
he could finish it. 

Lionardo undertook to paint for Francesco del 
Giocondo a portrait of Mona Lisa his wife, but 
having spent four years upon it, left it unfinished. 
This work now belongs to King Francis of 
France, and whoever wishes to see how art can 
imitate nature may learn from this head. Mona 
Lisa being most beautiful, he used, while he was 
painting her, to have men to sing and play to 
her and buffoons to amuse her, to -take away that 
look of melancholy which is so often seen in 
portraits ; and in this of Lionardo's there is a 
peaceful smile more divine than human. By the 
excellence of the works of this most divine of 
artists his fame was grown so great that all who 
delighted in art, and in fact the whole city, 
desired to have some memorial of it. And the 
Gonfalonier and the chief citizens agreed that, the 
Great Hall of the Council having been rebuilt, 
Lionardo should be charged to paint some great 
work there. Therefore, accepting the work, 
Lionardo began a cartoon representing the story 
of Nicoli Piccinino, captain of the Duke Filippo 
of Milan, in which he drew a group of cavalry 
fighting for a standard, representing vividly the 
rage and fury both of the men and the horses, 




Ltonardo da Vinci. 



Manittt 



MONNA LISA. 
(TheLoitvre.) 



LIONARDO DA VINCI 155 

two of which, with their fore feet entangled, 
are making war no less fiercely with their teeth 
than those who ride them. We cannot describe 
the variety of the soldiers' garments, with their 
crests and other ornaments, and the masterly 
power he showed in the forms of the horses, 
whose muscular strength and beauty of grace he 
knew better than any other man. It is said that 
for drawing this cartoon he erected an ingenious 
scaffolding that could be raised and lowered. 
And desiring to paint the wall in oil, he made a 
composition to cover the wall ; but when he began 
to paint upon it, it proved so unsuccessful that 
he shortly abandoned it altogether. 

There is a story that having gone to the bank 
for the sum which he was accustomed to receive 
from the Gonfalonier Piero Soderini every month, 
the cashier wanted to give him some packets of 
farthings, but he refused to take them, saying, 
" I am no farthing painter." As some accused 
him of having cheated Soderini in not finishing 
the picture, there arose murmurs against him, 
upon which Lionardo, by the help of his friends, 
collected the money and restored it to him, but 
Piero would not accept it. 

When Leo was made Pope, Lionardo went 
to Rome with Duke Giuliano de' Medici, and 
knowing the Pope to be fond of philosophy, 
especially alchemy, he used to make little animals 



156 STORIES FROM VASARI 

of a wax paste, which as he walked along he 
would fill with wind by blowing into them, and 
so make them fly in the air, until the wind being 
exhausted, they dropped to the ground. The 
vinedresser of the Belvedere having found a very 
strange lizard, Lionardo made some wings of the 
scales of other lizards and fastened them on its 
back with a mixture of quicksilver, so that they 
trembled when it walked; and having made for 
it eyes, horns, and a beard, he tamed it and kept 
it in a box, but all his friends to whom he 
showed it used to run away from fear. 

It is said that when the Pope entrusted him 
with some work for him he immediately began 
to distil oil for the varnish, upon which Pope 
Leo said, " Oh, this is a man to do nothing, 
for he thinks of the end before he begins his 
work." 

There was great ill-feeling between him and 
Michael Angelo Buonarroti, on which account 
Michael Angelo left Florence. But when Lio- 
nardo heard this, he set out and went into 
France, where the king, having already some 
of his works, was well affectioned towards him, 
and desired that he should colour his cartoon 
of S. Anne ; but he, according to his custom, 
kept him waiting a long time. At last, having 
become old, he lay ill for many months, and 
seeing himself near death, he set himself to study 



LIONARDO DA VINCI 157 

the holy Christian religion, and though he could 
not stand, desired to leave his bed with the help 
of his friends and servants to receive the Holy 
Sacrament. Then the king, who used often and 
lovingly to visit him, came in, and he, raising 
himself respectfully to sit up in bed, spoke of 
his sickness, and how he had offended God and 
man by not working at his art as he ought. 
Then there came a paroxysm, a forerunner of 
death, and the king raised him and lifted his 
head to help him and lessen the pain, whereupon 
his spirit, knowing it could have no greater 
honour, passed away in the king's arms in the 
seventy-fifth year of his age. 

The loss of Lionardo was mourned out of 
measure by all who had known him, for there 
was none who had done such honour to painting. 
The splendour of his great beauty could calm 
the saddest soul, and his words could move the 
most obdurate mind. His great strength could 
restrain the most violent fury, and he could 
bend an iron knocker or a horseshoe as if it 
were lead. He was liberal to his friends, rich 
and poor, if they had talent and worth; and 
indeed as Florence had the greatest of gifts in 
his birth, so she suffered an infinite loss in his 
death. 

I think I have said that it was in the little 
town of Vinci in the Valdarno that Ser Piero 



158 STORIES FROM VASARI 

the father of the great Lionardo dwelt. To 
this Piero was born after Lionardo another son, 
Bartolommeo, who remained at Vinci, and when 
he was come to years of discretion, took to wife 
one of the first ladies of the town. Bartolommeo 
was very desirous of having a son, and he used often 
to tell his wife of the great genius of his brother 
Lionardo, and to pray God to make her worthy 
to bring forth another Lionardo, he being already 
dead. And when according to his desire a boy 
was born, he desired to name it Lionardo, but by 
the counsel of his relations he gave it the name 
of Piero after his father. At the age of three 
years it was a child of beautiful countenance and 
curling hair, with much grace in all its gestures 
and a wonderful quickness of mind. And there 
came to Vinci and lodged in the house of Barto- 
lommeo an excellent astrologer named Giuliano 
del Carmine, and with him a priest skilled in 
palmistry, and they, looking at the head and 
hand of the child, predicted both of them alike 
that he would be a great genius, and in a very 
short time would make great progress in the arts, 
but that his life would be very short. And too 
true was their prophecy ! 

Piero, then, as he grew was taught his letters 
by his father, but without a master he set himself 
to draw and to make little figures of clay, so 
Bartolommeo trusted that his prayer had been 



LIONARDO DA VINCI 159 

heard and his brother given back to him in his 
son. Therefore, taking him to Florence, he 
placed him first with Bandinello and afterwards 
with II Tribolo. This master being then em- 
ployed on some fountains at Castello, set Piero 
to work upon the figure of a boy, and he finished 
this so well that II Tribolo prophesied he would 
show himself of rare skill. Taking courage by 
his success, he produced other works which 
astonished those who saw them. At this time 
few knew that he was the nephew of lionardo 
da Vinci; but when his works had made him 
known, it was discovered of what family he 
came, and they left off calling him Piero and 
called him II Vinci. II Vinci, therefore, having 
heard much of Rome, felt a great desire to go 
there, not only to see the antiquities, but also 
Michael Angelo's works and Michael Angelo 
himself, then living in Rome. He went there- 
fore with some of his friends, but having seen all 
that he desired, returned to Florence, considering 
wisely that the works there were too profound 
for him, and should be seen not by beginners, 
but by those who have greater knowledge of 
art. Nevertheless after more study he returned 
again to Rome, and spent there a year making 
many things worthy of memory, and for his 
friend Luca Martini he made a copy in wax of 
Michael Angelo's Moses. While he was there 



160 STORIES FROM VASARI 

Luca Martini was made by the Duke of Florence 
Proveditore of Pisa. And not forgetting his 
friend, he wrote to him that he had prepared 
a room for him and provided a piece of marble. 
Vinci therefore, moved by this invitation and 
the love he bore to Luca, left Rome and chose 
Pisa for his residence for some time. And the 
duke being then intent on benefiting and em- 
bellishing the city of Pisa, II Vinci was employed 
by him. 

II Vinci's name and talents were now known 
and admired by all, and being still young, it 
appeared likely that he would equal any man 
in art, when the term prescribed by Heaven came 
to an end, and his rapid course was stopped. 
It happened that the Duke sent Luca Martini 
to Genoa on matters of importance, and he, 
loving II Vinci and his company, and thinking 
it would be an amusement to him to see Genoa, 
took him with him. But almost immediately 
he was seized with a fever, and the distress was 
doubled by his friend being obliged to leave 
him and return to the Duke in Florence. He ( 
commended him to the care of Abate Nero; 
but II Vinci, finding himself growing daily worse, 
sent for one of his pupils from Pisa, and with 
his aid was brought to Leghorn by water, and 
thence to Pisa in a litter. Arriving at Pisa one 
evening at twenty-two o'clock, worn out with 



LIONARDO DA VINCI 161 

the hardships of the road and the sea and the 
fever, he could get no rest that night, and the 
next morning at break of day passed away to 
another life, not having reached the age of three 
and twenty. 



CHAPTER XV 

GIORGIONE AND FRA SEBASTIANO DEL PIOMBO 

AT the same time that Florence was acquiring 
such fame by the works of Lionardo, Venice 
received no little honour by the talents and 
excellence of one of its citizens, who far sur- 
passed the Bellini, who were held in such esteem, 
and every other who had up to that time painted 
in their city. This was Giorgio, born at Castel- 
franco in the Trevisan in the year 1478, after- 
wards called Giorgione, from his fine person and 
the greatness of his soul, for he, though of low 
birth, was all his life distinguished for his gentle 
manners. He was brought up in Venice, and 
sang and played so divinely that he was often 
invited to musical entertainments, and received 
by noble persons. He gave himself, however, 
to drawing, and was so favoured by nature that 
he, falling in love with her beauty, would never 
use anything in his works which he had not 
drawn from life^ so that he acquired the repu- 
tation not only of having surpassed Gentile 
and Giovanni Bellini, but of having equalled 



GIORGIONE 163 

those who worked in Tuscany, and were the 
authors of the modern manner. Giorgione had 
seen some things of Lionardo's worked with great 
depth of shadow but blended and softened, and 
this manner pleased him so much that all his life 
he used it and imitated it when painting in oil. 

It was in 1504 that a great fire destroyed the 
German Exchange near the bridge of the Rialto, 
consuming all the merchandise, to the very great 
loss of the merchants. The Signory of Venice 
ordered that it should be rebuilt, and it was 
speedily completed, with greater accommodation 
and magnificence and beauty; and the fame of 
Giorgione having by this time grown great, it 
was decided by those in authority that he should 
paint it in fresco according to his own fancy, 
provided he displayed his utmost powers, and 
made an excellent work of it, for it was in the 
best situation, and the finest view of the whole 
city. Giorgione, setting to work, thought only 
how he could design figures that would best 
display his art ; and in fact there is no story in 
it, nor does it represent the story of any person, 
ancient or modern. I for my part have never 
understood it, nor have I ever found anybody 
who did ; for here is a woman and there a man, 
in certain attitudes, one with the head of a lion 
near him, and the other with an angel in the 
guise of Cupid. In short, his figures look well 



1 64 STORIES FROM VASARI 

together, and there are heads very well drawn 
and coloured, and all he did was evidently from 
life, and not in imitation of any manner. 

There is a story that Giorgione was talking to 
some sculptors at the time that Andrea Verrocchio 
was making his bronze horse, and they contended 
that because sculpture showed in one figure dif- 
ferent sides, and could be seen all round, it 
surpassed painting, which only showed one part. 
Giorgione argued that a picture could show all 
sorts of views of a man at one glance, without his 
having to walk round it, and he undertook to 
show in one picture the back and the front and 
the two sides of one single figure, a thing which 
puzzled them ; but he did it in this way. He 
painted a man, turning his back to the spectators, 
and having at his feet some smooth water, in which 
the front view was reflected ; on one. side of him 
was a polished corslet which he had taken off, on 
which was plainly reflected his left profile, while 
on the other hand was a mirror, in which might 
be clearly seen his other side a fanciful conceit 
which was highly admired. 

He made many portraits of different Italian 
princes, and painted from life Caterina, Queen of 
Cyprus. But while he was expecting still to add 
to his honours and those of his country, he fell 
ill of the plague, in the year 1511, and at the 
age of thirty-four passed to another life, to the 



FRA SEBASTIANO DEL PIOMBO 165 

infinite grief of his many friends and with damage 
to the world who lost him. Nevertheless there 
remained his two excellent pupils, Sebastiano 
Veniziano del Piombo and Titian, who not only 
equalled him but greatly surpassed him. Sebas- 
tiano's first profession was not painting but 
music, which made him very acceptable to the 
nobles of Venice, with whom he lived on inti- 
mate terms. But when still young, desiring to 
learn painting, he studied first with Giovanni 
Bellini, who was then an old man, and afterwards, 
when Giorgione had introduced a more modern 
manner, he left Bellini and joined Giorgione, and 
stayed with him until he had acquired his style 
so accurately that many who have no great know- 
ledge of art mistake his works for Giorgione's. 

A rich merchant of Sienna, Agostino Chigi, 
hearing of his fame, sought to persuade him to 
go to Rome, being pleased not only with his 
painting but also with his music and his agree- 
able conversation. It was not hard to persuade 
Bastiano to go, for he knew that that city had 
always been the protector of men of genius. So 
when he was come to Rome Agostino set him 
to work, and he did some things in Agostino's 
palace in the style that he had brought from 
Venice, very different from that which the 
best painters in Rome employed. Afterwards, 
Raffaello having painted the story of Galatea in 



1 66 STORIES FROM VASARI 

the same place, Bastiano painted by the side of it 
a Polyphemus. He also painted some things in 
oil, and having learnt a soft style of colouring 
from Giorgione, he obtained by them a great 
reputation. 

Raffaello by this time had earned such honour 
by his paintings that his friends and adherents 
said that they were better than Michael Angelo's, 
being pleasant in colouring, fine in invention, 
excellent in expression, and good in drawing, 
while Buonarroti's had none of these qualities 
but the drawing. And so they said that Raffaello 
was at least equal to him in drawing, and sur- 
passed him in his colour. But Sebastiano was not 
of these, being a man of exquisite judgment. So 
Michael Angelo being drawn towards Sebastiano, 
and being pleased with his colouring and graceful 
style, took him under his protection, thinking 
that, if he aided Sebastiano in his drawing, he 
could through him contend with those who 
opposed him. Sebastiano's paintings being there- 
fore more highly valued through the praise that 
Michael Angelo had given them, a gentleman 
from Viterbo much favoured by the Pope gave 
Sebastiano a picture of a dead Christ to paint 
for a chapel in San Francesco at Viterbo. But 
though Sebastiano carried it out with great 
diligence, the design was by Michael Angelo. 
The work was held by all who saw it to be most 



FRA SEBASTIANO DEL PIOMBO 167 

beautiful, and Sebastiano gained great credit by 
it And Pier Francesco Borgherini, a Florentine 
merchant, having taken a chapel in S. Piero in 
Montorio, entrusted the painting of it to Sebasti- 
ano, thinking, as was indeed the case, that Michael 
Angelo would make the design. Sebastiano 
carried it out with great diligence and care, and 
thinking he had found a way of painting in oil 
on a wall, he covered the plaster with a suitable 
preparation, and all that part which has the 
scourging of Christ he painted in oil. Nor 
will I conceal that many think that Michael 
Angelo not only made a little drawing for the 
work, but that the figure of Christ was put in 
altogether by him, there being a great difference 
between that and the other figures. When 
Sebastiano had uncovered this work his enemies' 
tongues were silenced, and few ventured to attack 
him. Afterwards, when Raffaello painted for the 
Cardinal de' Medici that picture of the Trans- 
figuration which was placed after his death in 
S. Piero in Montorio, Sebastiano painted another 
picture of the same size, as if in rivalry, repre- 
senting the raising of Lazarus, and this also was 
worked under the guidance of Michael Angelo, 
and in some parts from his drawings. The two 
pictures when they were finished were exhibited 
together, and both received great praise, for 
although Raffaello's works have no equals for 



1 68 STORIES FROM VASARI 

grace and beauty, yet none the less Sebastiano 1 s 
efforts were universally applauded. 

This man had to labour greatly at all his 
works ; they did not come with the facility that 
nature and study sometimes give. So in the 
chapel of Agostino Chigi, where Raffaello had 
made the sibyls and prophets, there was a niche 
below in which Bastiano undertook to paint 
something to surpass Raffaello, and set to work to 
prepare the wall ; but he left it untouched when 
he died ten years after. Sebastiano indeed could 
draw quickly and easily from life, but it was just 
the contrary in subject pictures. Indeed portrait 
painting was his true work. 

When Cardinal Giulio de' Medici was made 
Pope under the name of Clement VII., he inti- 
mated to Sebastiano that he would seek occasion 
to favour him. Therefore, upon the death of 
Fra Mariano Fetti, the Frate del Piombo, Sebas- 
tiano reminded him of his promise, and made 
request for the office of the Piombo. And 
although Giovanni da Udine, who had served his 
Holiness long, preferred the same request, the 
Pope gave orders that Sebastiano should have the 
office, on the agreement to pay to Giovanni a 
pension of three hundred crowns. So Sebastiano 
assumed the habit of a friar, and at the same 
time his nature seemed to change; for having 
wherewith to satisfy his desires without using his 




Fro, Sebastiano del Piombo. 



Anderson. 



POPE Ct.EMENT VII. 
(Museo Naaionale, Naples,) 



FRA SEBASTIANO DEL PIOMBO 169 

pencil, he let it repose, and made up for his labori- 
ous days by rest and ease. Thus the magnificent 
liberality of Clement VII. rewarding Sebastiano 
too highly was the cause that from a hardworking, 
industrious man he became slothful and negligent, 
and having laboured constantly when he was 
competing with Raffaello and his fortune was low, 
he ceased to work as soon as he had enough. 
He had a very good house, which he had built 
himself, and in this he lived in the greatest con- 
tentment, without any wish to paint. He used 
to say that it was just as prudent to live a quiet 
life as to be ever struggling restlessly to leave 
a great name behind. And he acted according 
to his words, having always the best wines and 
rarest dainties he could get, taking more account 
of good living than of art. Being censured by 
some, who said it was a shame that now that he 
had the means of living he worked no more, he 
answered, " Now that I have the means of living 
I do no work, because there are clever men in the 
world now, who can do in two months as much 
as I used to do in two years, and I think if I live 
much longer everything will have been painted ; 
so as these men do so much, it is a good thing 
that there should be some who do nothing, that 
they may have more to do." And in pleasantries 
of this kind he would run on, and indeed there 
was no better companion than he. 



170 STORIES FROM VASARI 

As we have said, Bastiano was much beloved 
by Michael Angelo, but when the Pope's chapel 
was to be painted, where now is Michael Angelo's 
Judgment, there was some ill-feeling between 
them. For Fra Sebastiano had persuaded the 
Pope to make Michael Angelo paint it in oil, 
whereas he would not do it except in fresco. 
Michael Angelo therefore saying neither yes or 
no, the wall was prepared in Fra Sebastiano's 
way ; Michael Angelo left it untouched for some 
months, and when they implored him to begin it, 
he said at last that he would not do it except in 
fresco, for oil painting was an art for women and 
lazy people like Fra Sebastiano. So the plaster 
being taken down it was prepared for working in 
fresco, and Michael Angelo set to work upon it, 
but never forgot the injury Fra Sebastiano had 
done him. 

Fra Sebastiano, having brought himself to 
doing nothing whatever except the work of his 
office, and living well, fell sick at last of a violent 
fever and died. Art lost little by his death, for 
he might have been counted among those whom 
it had lost from the time he put on the friar's 
habit ; but many of his friends mourn him still 
for his pleasant converse. He had at different 
times many young men with him to study art, 
but to no great profit, for they learnt little from 
him but how to live well. 



CHAPTER XVI 

PERUGINO AND RAFFAELLO 

OF what great use poverty may be to genius, 
and how it may be powerful in perfecting it, 
may be clearly seen in the life of Pietro Perugino, 
who, driven from Perugia by want, came to 
Florence, desiring to make a position for himself 
by his talents. For many months, having no 
other bed to lie on, he slept in a box, applying 
himself with the utmost fervour to the study 
of his profession, and knowing no other pleasure 
than painting. For he had always before his 
eyes the fear of poverty, and he was spurred 
by want, desiring, if he could not be highest 
and supreme, at least to have wherewith to 
support himself. Therefore he cared neither 
for cold, nor hunger, nor discomfort, nor fatigue, 
that he might one day live at ease, quoting always 
the proverbs, that after bad weather must come 
good, and that in fine weather you should build 
the house to cover you when you need it. 

According to the common story, he was born 
in Perugia, the son of a poor man of Castello 



172 STORIES FROM VASARI 

della Pieve, named Cristofano, who gave him 
in baptism the name of Pietro. Growing up 
in misery and want, he was apprenticed to a 
painter of Perugia, who, though he was not very 
good at his trade, held in great veneration art 
and the men who excelled in it. He did nothing 
but impress upon Pietro what an honour and 
advantage painting was to those who practised 
it well, relating the glory of ancient and modern 
painters, by which he kindled in Pietro the 
desire to become one of them. So he used to 
be always asking where men could prepare 
themselves for the trade best, and his master 
always answered in the same way, that it was 
in Florence more than anywhere else that men 
grew perfect in all the arts, especially painting. 
For in that city men are spurred by three things : 
First there are many there ready to find fault, 
the air of the place making men independent in 
mind and not easily contented with mediocre 
works. Secondly, if a man wished to live there 
he must be industrious, for Florence, not having 
a large and fertile country, could not provide 
for the wants of those who dwelt there at little 
expense. And thirdly, there is the desire of 
glory and honour, which the air excites to a 
high degree in men of every profession, so that 
no man who has any spirit will consent to be 
only like others, much less be left behind. 



PERUGINO 173 

Moved therefore by this advice, Pietro came 
to Florence and studied under the discipline of 
Andrea Verrocchio, And in a few years he 
obtained such reputation that not only were 
Florence and Italy full of his works, but they 
were sent also to France, Spain, and many other 
countries, and the merchants began to purchase 
them that they might send them abroad to their 
own great profit. 

There is a story which I have heard told of 
a prior of a convent who had employed him to 
paint in its cloisters. This prior was very good 
at making ultramarine, and having therefore 
abundance of it, he desired that Pietro should 
put a great deal into his works; he was, 
however, so miserably suspicious that he would 
not trust Pietro, but would always be present 
when he was using the ultramarine. Pietro, 
being by nature upright and honest, took it ill 
that the prior should distrust him, and thought 
how he could shame him out of it. So he took 
a basin of water, and setting himself to his work, 
for every two brushfuls that he took he washed 
his brush in the basin, so that there was more 
colour left in the water than he put into his 
work. The prior, seeing his bag getting empty, 
and the picture not getting on, kept saying, 
" Oh, how much ultramarine that plaster con- 
sumes ! " " You see ! " answered Pietro. But 



174 STORIES FROM VASARI 

when the prior was gone, Pietro collected the 
ultramarine that was at the bottom of the basin ; 
and when the time seemed to him to be come, 
he gave it back to the prior, saying, "Father,, 
this is yours; learn to trust honest men who 
never deceive those who trust in them, but know 
how to deceive, when they choose, suspicious 
men like you." 

The fame of Pietro was so spread abroad in 
Italy that he was sent for by Pope Sixtus IV. 
to work in his chapel in the company of many 
excellent artists ; but these works were destroyed 
in the time of Pope Paul III. to make place for 
the Judgment of the divine Michael Angelo. 
Pietro worked so much, and had always so much 
to do, that he often repeated the same things 
in his pictures, and his art was thus reduced to 
a manner, so that he gave to all his figures the 
same air. About this time, Michael Angelo 
made his appearance on the scene, and Pietro 
had a great desire to see his works from the 
report which artists gave of them. But when 
he perceived that he himself would be eclipsed 
by the greatness of him who had made so great 
a beginning, he allowed himself in his anger to 
attack with bitter sarcasm many of the artists 
in Florence. Therefore he deserved not only 
to be attacked by other artists, but even 
that Michael Angelo should declare in public 



PERUGINO 175 

that his art was rude. Pietro, however, could 
not endure such an insult, and brought the 
matter before the magistrates ; but came off with 
little honour. When his friends told him that 
he had wandered away from the good path, 
either from avarice or from fear of losing time, 
Pietro would answer, " I have put into rny work 
the figures which you formerly praised and which 
pleased you greatly. If now they displease you, 
what am I to do?" 

But when sonnets were written upon him 
attacking him, he left Florence and returned 
to Perugia. There he painted in fresco in the 
church of S. Severo, the young Raffaello da 
Urbino, his pupil, doing some of the figures. 
He also began a work in fresco of no little im- 
portance at Castello della Pieve, but this he did 
not finish. For, as if he could trust nobody, he 
used to carry about him all the money he had, 
as he went backwards and forwards to Castello ; 
and so it fell out that some men, laying wait for 
him, robbed him, but at his earnest entreaty they 
spared his life. Afterwards, by means of his 
friends, he recovered a great part of the money 
that had been taken from him; nevertheless he 
was near dying of grief. For Pietro was a man 
of very little religion, and would never believe 
in the immortality of the soul. His hopes were 
all set on the gifts of fortune, and he would 



176 STORIES FROM VASARI 

have done anything for money. He had a most 
beautiful young woman for his wife, and took so 
much pleasure in seeing her well adorned, both 
at home and abroad, that it is said he often 
dressed her with his own hands. 

He died at last in Castello della Pieve, an old 
man of seventy-eight. He made many masters 
in painting, and one who surpassed him by a 
long way, the wonderful Raffaello Sanzio da 
Urbino. Pinturicchio, the Perugian painter, was 
also his pupil, who, although he executed many 
works, had a much greater name than he deserved. 
He was called to Sienna by Cardinal Piccolomini 
to paint the library erected there by Pope Pius II. 
But the sketches and drawings for these pictures 
were all by the hand of Raffaello, then very 
young, who had been his schoolfellow under 
Pietro. He worked also in Rome under Pope 
Sixtus, and painted an infinite number of pic- 
tures all over Italy, which as they were not very 
excellent I will pass over in silence. 

When he was fifty- nine years of age he was 
charged to paint the Birth of our Lady in S. 
Francesco in Sienna, and the friars there gave 
him a room to dwell in, which at his desire 
they emptied of everything except a great chest, 
which seemed to them too big to move. But 
Pinturicchio, being a strange, fanciful man, made 
so much disturbance about it that the friars at 




THE NATIVITY. 
( After the fresio by Pmittriichw in the C/iitrth ofS> .Maria del Popoloat Rome.) 



RAFFAELLO 177 

last set to work to carry it away, and in moving 
it a plank gave way, and discovered five hundred 
ducats of gold, Pinturicchio, however, was so 
much vexed at the friars' good fortune that, not 
being able to forget it, he fell sick and died. 

His great schoolfellow, Raffaello, one of those 
possessed of such rare gifts that it is impossible 
to call ' them simply men, but rather, if it is 
allowable so to speak, mortal gods, was born in 
the famous city of Urbino in Italy, in the year 
1483, on Good Friday, at three o'clock of the 
night. He was the son of Giovanni de' Santi, 
a painter but not a very excellent one, a man of 
good understanding, and capable of directing his 
son in that good way which unfortunately had 
not been shown to himself in his youth. And 
because Giovanni knew of what consequence it 
was that the child should be nursed by his own 
mother and not left to the care of a hired nurse, 
he kept him in his own house that he might learn 
good ways, rather than the rough customs of 
common men. And as soon as he was grown, 
he began to teach him painting, so that it was 
not long before he was able to help his father in 
many of his works. But at last the good father, 
knowing that his son could learn little from him, 
determined to put him with Pietro Perugino, 
and going to Perugia, told him his desire. And 
Pietro, who was very courteous, and a lover of 

M 



178 STORIES FROM VASARI 

men of talent, accepted Raffaello. Therefore 
Giovanni, returning joyfully to Urbino, took the 
boy, not without many tears, from his mother, 
who tenderly loved him, and brought him to 
Perugia. And when Pietro saw his manner of 
drawing and his pleasant ways, he pronounced 
that judgment upon him which time has proved 
most true. It is a very remarkable thing that 
while Raffaello was studying under Pietro he 
imitated him so closely that it is impossible to 
distinguish their works. 

When Pinturicchio was entrusted with the 
painting of the library of Sienna, Raffaello accom- 
panied him thither; but while they were there, 
some painters spoke to him of the cartoons 
of Lionardo da Vinci and Michael Angelo at 
Florence, praising them so much that the desire 
came upon him to see them, and he set out for 
Florence. He was no less pleased with the city 
than with the works he came to see, and he 
determined to tarry there some time, making 
friends with many young painters. And after he 
had been to Florence his manner changed greatly, 
for while there he studied the old works of 
Masaccio and the labours of Lionardo and 
Michael Angelo, and he was in close intercourse 
with Fra Bartolommeo di S. Marco, whose colour 
pleasing him much, he sought to imitate it, while 
in return he taught the good father perspective. 



RAFFAELLO 179 

Then Bramante da Urbino, who was in the 
service of Julius IL, being distantly related to 
Raffaello and of the same district, wrote to him 
that he had been using his influence with the 
Pope to obtain for him leave to display his 
powers in certain rooms of the palace. The 
tidings pleased Raffaello, and leaving his works 
at Florence unfinished, he departed for Rome, 
where he found that many of the chambers of 
the palace had been already painted, or were 
being painted, by other masters. Being received 
with much kindness by Pope Julius, he began 
in the chamber of the Segnatura, and painted a 
picture of the reconciliation between Philosophy 
and Astrology, and Theology. He enriched this 
work with many figures, and finished it in so 
delicate and sweet a manner that Pope Julius 
caused all the pictures of the other masters, 
both ancient and modern, to be destroyed that 
Raffaello might have all the work of the 
chambers. So Raffaello painted the ceiling of 
this chamber with the figures of Knowledge, 
Poetry, Theology, and Justice, and on the walls 
represented Parnassus with the Poets, and Heaven 
with the Saints and Doctors of the Church, and 
Justinian giving the laws to the Doctors, and 
Pope Julius the canon laws. And the Pope, 
being satisfied with the work, gave him the 
second chamber to paint. 



178 STORIES FROM VASARI 

men of talent, accepted Raffaello. Therefore 
Giovanni, returning joyfully to Urbino, took the 
boy, not without many tears, from his mother, 
who tenderly loved him, and brought him to 
Perugia. And when Pietro saw his manner of 
drawing and his pleasant ways, he pronounced 
that judgment upon him which time has proved 
most true. It is a very remarkable thing that 
while Raffaello was studying under Pietro he 
imitated him so closely that it is impossible to 
distinguish their works. 

When Pinturicchio was entrusted with the 
painting of the library of Sienna, Raffaello accom- 
panied him thither; but while they were there, 
some painters spoke to him of the cartoons 
of Lionardo da Vinci and Michael Angelo at 
Florence, praising them so much that the desire 
came upon him to see them, and he set out for 
Florence. He was no less pleased with the city 
than with the works he came to see, and he 
determined to tarry there some time, making 
friends with many young painters. And after he 
had been to Florence his manner changed greatly, 
for while there he studied the old works of 
Masaccio and the labours of Lionardo and 
Michael Angelo, and he was in close intercourse 
with Fra Bartolommeo di S. Marco, whose colour 
pleasing him much, he sought to imitate it, while 
in return he taught the good father perspective. 



RAFFAELLO 179 

Then Bratnante da Urbino, who was in the 
service of Julius II., being distantly related to 
Raflkello and of the same district, wrote to him 
that he had been using his influence with the 
Pope to obtain for him leave to display his 
powers in certain rooms of the palace. The 
tidings pleased Raffaello, and leaving his works 
at Florence unfinished, he departed for Rome, 
where he found that many of the chambers of 
the palace had been already painted, or were 
being painted, by other masters. Being received 
with much kindness by Pope Julius, he began 
in the chamber of the Segnatura, and painted a 
picture of the reconciliation between Philosophy 
and Astrology, and Theology. He enriched this 
work with many figures, and finished it in so 
delicate and sweet a manner that Pope Julius 
caused all the pictures of the other masters, 
both ancient and modern, to be destroyed that 
Raffaello might have all the work of the 
chambers. So Raffaello painted the ceiling of 
this chamber with the figures of Knowledge, 
Poetry, Theology, and Justice, and on the walls 
represented Parnassus with the Poets, and Heaven 
with the Saints and Doctors of the Church, and 
Justinian giving the laws to the Doctors, and 
Pope Julius the canon laws. And the Pope, 
being satisfied with the work, gave him the 
second chamber to paint. 



i8o STORIES FROM VASARI 

Raffaello had now acquired a great name, 
having moreover gentle manners admired by all ; 
but though he studied continually the antiquities 
in the city, he had not yet given to any of his 
figures that grandeur and majesty which appeared 
in his later works. It happened at this time that 
Michael Angelo, having that difference with the 
Pope of which we shall speak in his life, had fled 
to Florence, and Bramante,- having the key of 
the Sistine Chapel, showed it to Raffaello his 
friend, that he might learn Michael Angelo's 
methods. And this was the cause of his 
repainting the prophet Isaiah, which he had 
already finished in the church of S. Agostino, 
greatly improving and elevating his manner in 
this work, and giving it more majesty. 

Not long after, Agostino Chigi, a very rich 
merchant of Sienna, entrusted him with the 
painting of a chapel, Raffaello having before 
painted for him in the loggia of his palace a 
picture of Galatea. So Raffaello, having made 
the cartoon for the chapel which is in the church 
of S. Maria della Pace, carried it out in fresco 
in his new and grander manner, painting there 
some of the Prophets and Sibyls ; and this work 
is the best and most excellent that he produced 
in his life. 

Continuing then his work in the chambers of 
the Vatican, he painted the Miracle of the Mass 



RAFFAELLO 181 

of Bolsena and S. Peter in prison, with the 
punishment of Heliodorus, and on the ceiling 
pictures from the Old Testament. But at this 
time Pope Julius died, who had ever been an 
encourager of talent. Nevertheless Leo X., 
being created pope, desired the work to continue, 
so Raffaello painted the coming of Attila to 
Rome, and Pope Leo III. going out to meet 
him. 

Meanwhile Raffaello painted many other pic- 
tures, and his fame grew great, and reached to 
France and Flanders, and Albert Dlirer, the great 
German painter and engraver, sent to Raffaello 
a tribute of his own works, a portrait of himself 
painted in water-colour on very fine linen, so 
that it showed equally on both sides. And 
Raffaello, marvelling at it, sent to him many 
drawings from his own hand, which were much 
prized by Albert. The goldsmith Francesco 
Francia of Bologna also heard of him, and desired 
greatly to see him. For while he was enjoying 
in peace the glory he had earned by his labours 
in Bologna, many gentlemen of that city going 
tjp Rome went to see Raffaello and his works. 
And as men usually like to praise to others 
those of their own house who have talent, so 
these Bolognese began to talk to Raffaello in 
praise of Francia's works, and his life and 
virtues; and thus between them there sprang 



182 STORIES FROM VASARI 

up a kind of friendship, and Francia and Raffaello 
saluted each other by letter. Francia, hearing 
of the fame of the divine works of Raffaello, 
desired much to see them, but being already old 
was loth to leave his Bologna. Then it happened 
that Raffaello painted a picture of S. Cecilia, 
which was to be sent to Bologna and placed in 
a chapel in S. Giovanni in Monte, and having 
packed it, he directed it to Francia as his friend 
that he might set it up in the chapel. At which 
Francia was very glad, having so long desired 
to see one of Raffaello's works. And having 
opened Raffaello's letter (in which he prayed 
him, if he found it scratched, to mend it, and 
also, if he saw any error, like a true friend, to 
correct it), with great delight he drew the picture 
out of the case and put it in a good light. But 
so great was his astonishment at what he saw 
that, recognising his foolish presumption, he fell 
sick of grief, and in a short time died. The 
picture of Raffaello was indeed divine, not a 
painted thing but living ; and Francia, half dead 
with the shock, and altogether disheartened by 
the extreme beauty of the picture compared with 
those which he saw around him done by his 
own hand, had it placed carefully in the chapel 
where it was to be, and then in a few days took 
to his bed, feeling that in art he was nothing 
compared to what he had thought himself to 



RAFFAELLO 183 

be and was* reputed by others, and thus died of 
grief and melancholy. However, some people 
say that his death was so sudden that it was 
more like poison or apoplexy. 

After this Raffaello painted for the Brothers 
of Monte Oliveto, in the monastery called S. 
Maria dello Spasimo of Palermo, a picture of 
Christ bearing His cross, which when it was 
finished nearly came to a bad end. For as it 
was being borne by sea to Palermo, a great 
tempest cast the ship upon a rock, and it was 
broken to pieces, and the crew lost, and all the 
cargo, except this picture, which was carried in 
its case by the sea to Genoa. Here being drawn 
to shore, it was seen to be a thing divine, and 
was taken care of, being found uninjured, even 
the winds and waves in their fury respecting the 
beauty of such a work. When the news of it 
was spread abroad, the monks sought to regain 
it, and with the intercession of the Pope obtained 
it, satisfying the demands of those that saved 
it. It was carried safe to Sicily, and placed in 
Palermo, where it has a greater reputation than 
the volcano itself. 

While Raffaello was working at these paintings 
he did not cease to labour in the Pope's chambers, 
keeping men constantly employed in painting 
from his designs, and himself overlooking every- 
thing. 



1 84 STORIES FROM VASARI 

It was not long, therefore, before he uncovered 
the chamber of the Borgia Tower, in which he 
had painted the burning of the Borgo Vecchio 
of Rome, and Leo IV. stopping it with his 
blessing, with another picture of the life of 
St. Leo. The ceiling of this room had been 
painted by Perugino his master, and Raffaello 
therefore would not have it destroyed. 

He also embellished the other parts of the 
palace, making the designs for the staircases and 
for the loggie which Bramante had begun. And 
Leo X. wishing to display great magnificence and 
liberality, Raffaello made the designs for the 
ornaments in stucco, and for the pictures to be 
painted in the loggie, setting Giovanni da Udine 
over the stucco work, and Giulio Romano over 
the figures, though he worked little upon them, 
Giovan Francesco, called II Fattore, Perino del 
Vaga, and others chiefly painting them. 

The Pope also desiring to have some arras 
woven of gold and silk, Raffaello made some 
coloured cartoons of the proper form and size 
with his own hands, which were sent into 
Flanders to be woven, and when the cloth was 
finished it was sent back to Rome. For Giulio 
Cardinal de' Medici he painted the Transfigura- 
tion of Christ, and brought it to the greatest per- 
fection, working at it continually with his own 
hand, and it seemed as if he put forth all his 



RAFFAELLO 185 

strength to show the power of art in the face of 
Christ ; and having finished it, as the last thing 
he had to do, he laid aside his pencil, death over- 
taking him. 

For, being seized with a fever, he made his 
will, and having confessed, he ended his course 
on the same day that he was born, that is, Good 
Friday, being thirty-seven years of age. They 
placed at the head of the room in which he lay, 
the picture of the Transfiguration, which he had 
finished for the Cardinal de' Medici, and the 
sight of the dead body and the living work filled 
all with grief. 



CHAPTER XVII 

ANDREA DEL SARTO 

ONE of Piero di Cosimo's pupils was Andrea del 
Sarto, the son of a tailor, who took his name 
from his father's trade. At the age of seven 
years he was put with a goldsmith, but Gian 
Barile, a Florentine painter, seeing his drawings, 
took him to work with him. After three years' 
earnest study, Gian Barile perceived that the boy 
would have extraordinary success if he attended 
to his studies, and he spoke of him to Piero di 
Cosinio, who was then considered one of the 
best painters in Florence, and put him under his 
care. Andrea, desirous to learn, never rested 
from his studies, and being a born painter, he 
managed his colours as if he had worked for fifty 
years. So Piero loved him much, and was 
wonderfully pleased to hear that whenever he 
had time, especially on feast-days, he would 
spend it in the hall of the Pope, where were the 
cartoons of Michael Angelo and Lionardo da 
Vinci, and that he surpassed, though young, all 
the other artists, natives or strangers, who came 

186 



ANDREA DEL SARTO 187 

constantly to study there. Among these Andrea 
was most pleased with the conversation of Francia 
Bigio, and Francia being equally so with Andrea, 
they became friends; and Andrea told Francia 
that he could endure no longer the eccentricities 
of Piero, who was then getting old, and that he 
must take a room for himself. Francia being 
forced to do the same, because Mariotto Alberti- 
nelli, his master, had given up painting, proposed 
that they should join together. So they took 
a room in the Piazza del Grano, and did many 
works in company. Afterwards they took new 
rooms near the convent 'of the Nunziata, and it 
happened that Jacopo Sansovino, then a youth, 
was working in the same place under Andrea 
Contucci, and he and Andrea formed so close a 
friendship that they were never apart day or 
night ; and as all their conversation was about art 
it is no wonder that they both became excellent 
masters. 

In the convent of the Servites there was a 
sacristan named Fra Mariano, who constantly 
hearing Andrea praised and spoken of as one 
making marvellous progress, thought to get 
something out of him at little expense. So to 
try Andrea, who was soft and pliable where 
honour was concerned, he began to express a wish 
to help him in a matter which would bring him 
honour and profit. Now some years before, 



1 88 STORIES FROM VASARI 

Cosimo Rosselli had begun in the first cloister 
a picture of S. Filippo, the founder of the order, 
taking the habit of monk, but the picture was 
not finished when he died. The friar, therefore, 
wishing the rest to be painted, thought by making 
Andrea and Francia rivals, to get it at less ex- 
pense. So opening his mind to Andrea, he per- 
suaded him to undertake it, pointing out that it 
was a public place and much frequented, and he 
would become known to strangers as well as 
Florentines; he ought not therefore to consider 
the price, and if he would not do it there was 
Francia, who had offered to do it and left the 
price to him. The first suggestions inclined 
Andrea to undertake it, but when he heard of 
Francia he resolved at once, and an agreement 
was made in writing that no one else might 
interfere. So the friar having set him to work, 
he was first to finish the life of S. Filippo, having 
no more than ten ducats for each picture, which 
the friar said he gave him out of his own money, 
more for his good than for the profit of the 
convent. But when he ha'd painted one side of 
the cloisters, finding the price too little, and that 
they made too much of the honour, he deter- 
mined to give up the rest of the work, at which 
the friar complained greatly, and held him to his 
agreement. So Andrea promised to do two more 
if he would raise the price. ' Francia Bigio mean- 




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ANDREA DEL SARTO 189 

while was entrusted with the painting in the 
cloister, and represented there the Marriage of 
the Virgin. The friars, desiring that Andrea's 
and Francia's pictures should be uncovered for a 
certain feast, on the night that Francia had finished 
his they presumptuously went and uncovered it 
themselves, not understanding that Francia might 
retouch it. In the morning the news was brought 
to Francia that his work and Andrea's had been 
uncovered, and it grieved him almost to death. 
But falling into a passion with the friars for their 
presumption in showing him so little respect, -he 
rushed to his picture, and climbing on to the 
scaffold, which had not yet been taken down, 
seized a mason's hammer which was lying there 
and struck at some of the women's faces, spoiling 
the Virgin's altogether. The friars and others, 
running in at the noise, held his hands to prevent 
his spoiling the whole picture. But although 
they offered him double payment he would never 
mend it, and he was so much honoured that no 
other would ever finish it. So the work remained 
in this state. 

These works brought Andrea into greater 
notice, and many pictures and works of import- 
ance were entrusted to him, and he made for 
himself so great a name in the city that he was 
considered one of the first painters, and although 
he had asked little for his works he found himself 



1 90 STORIES FROM VASARI 

in a position to help his relatives. But falling in 
love with a young woman who was left a widow, 
he took her for his wife, and had enough to do 
all the rest of his life, and had to work harder 
than he had ever done before, for besides the 
duties and liabilities which belong to such a 
union, he took upon him many more troubles, 
being constantly vexed with jealousy and one 
thing and another. And all who knew his case 
felt compassion for him, and blamed the sim- 
plicity which had reduced him to such a con- 
dition. He had been much sought after by his 
friends before, but now he was avoided. For 
though his pupils stayed with him, hoping to 
learn something from him, there was not one, 
great or small, who did not suffer by her evil 
words or blows during the time he was there. 

Nevertheless, this torment seemed to him the 
highest pleasure. He never put a woman in any 
picture which he did not draw from her, for 
even 'if another sat to him, through seeing her 
constantly and having drawn her so often, and, 
what is more, having her impressed on his mind, 
it always came about that the head resembled hers. 

A certain Florentine, Giovanni Battista Puccini, 
being extraordinarily pleased with Andrea's work, 
charged him to paint a picture of our Lady to 
send to France, but it was so beautiful that he 
kept it himself and did not send it away. How- 



ANDREA DEL SARTO 191 

ever, trafficking constantly with France, and being 
employed to send good pictures there, he gave 
Andrea another picture to paint, a dead Christ 
supported by angels. When it was done every 
one was so pleased with it that Andrea was 
entreated to let it be engraved in Rome by 
Agostino Veniziano, but as it did not succeed 
very well he would never let any other of his 
pictures be engraved. The picture itself gave 
no less pleasure in France than it had done in 
Italy, and the king gave orders that Andrea 
should do another, in consequence of which he 
resolved at his friend's persuasion to go himself 
to France. But- that year 1515 the Florentines, 
hearing that Pope Leo X. meant to honour his 
native place with a visit, gave orders that he should 
be received with great feasting, and such mag- 
nificent decorations were prepared, with arches, 
statues, and other ornaments, as had never been 
seen before, there being at that time in the city a 
greater number of men of genius and talent than 
there had ever been before. And what was most 
admired was the fa9ade of S. Maria del Fiore, 
made of wood and painted with pictures by 
Andrea del Sarto, the architecture being by 
Jacopo Sansovino, with some bas-reliefs and 
statues, and the Pope pronounced that it could 
not have been more beautiful if it had been in 
marble. 



192 STORIES FROM VASARI 

Meanwhile King Francis L, greatly admiring 
his works, was told that Andrea would easily be 
persuaded to remove to France and enter into his 
service; and the thing pleased the king well. 
So he gave command that money should be paid 
him for his journey ; and Andrea set out joyfully 
for France, taking with him Andrea Sguazzella 
his pupil. And having arrived at the court, he 
was received lovingly by the king, and before the 
first day was over experienced the liberality of 
that magnanimous king, receiving gifts of money 
and rich garments. He soon began to work, 
and won the esteem of the king and the whole 
court, being caressed by all, so that it seemed to 
him he had passed from a state of extreme un- 
happiness to the greatest felicity. Among his 
first works he painted from life the Dauphin, 
then only a few months old, and therefore in 
swaddling clothes, and when he brought it to the 
king he received for it three hundred crowns of 
gold. And the king, that he might stay with 
him willingly, ordered that great provision should 
be made for him, and that he should want for 
nothing. But one day, while he was working 
upon a S. Jerome for the king's mother, there 
came to him letters from Lucrezia his wife, 
whom he had left in Florence, and she wrote 
that when he was away, although his letters told 
her he was well, she could not cease from sorrow 



ANDREA DEL SARTO 193 

and constant weeping, using many sweet words 
apt to touch the heart of a man who loved her 
only too well, so that the poor man was nearly 
beside himself when he read that if he did not 
return soon he would find her dead. So he 
prayed the king for leave to go to Florence and 
put his affairs in order, and bring his wife to 
France, promising to bring with him on his 
return pictures and sculptures of price. The 
king, trusting him, gave him money for this 
purpose, and Andrea swore on the Gospels to 
return in a few months. He arrived in Florence 
happily, and enjoyed himself with his beautiful 
wife and his friends. At last, the time having 
come when he ought to return to the king, he 
found himself in extremity, for he had spent on 
building and on his pleasures his own money and 
the king's also. Nevertheless he would have 
returned, but the tears and prayers of his wife 
prevailed against his promise to the king. When 
he did not return the king was so angered that 
for a long time he would not look at a Florentine 
painter, and swore that if ever Andrea fell into 
his hands, it should be to his hurt, without regard 
to his talents. 

When Frederick II., Duke of Mantua, passed 
through Florence, going to pay homage to Pope 
Clement VII., he saw over a door in the Medici 
Palace that portrait of Pope Leo between Cardinal 



I 9 4 STORIES FROM VASARI 

Giulio de' Medici and Cardinal de' Rossi, which 
was made by the great Raffaello da Urbino. 
Being extraordinarily pleased with it, he con- 
sidered how he could make it his own, and when 
he was in Rome, choosing his time, he made 
request for it from Pope Clement, who granted 
it to him courteously, and orders were sent to 
Florence to Ottaviano de' Medici to put it into 
a case and send it to Mantua. But the thing 
greatly displeased Ottaviano, who would not 
have Florence deprived of such a picture. He 
replied therefore that he would not fail to serve 
the duke, but that the frame of the picture 
being bad, he would have a new one made, and 
when it was gilded, he would send the picture 
securely to Mantua. Then Ottaviano, with the 
view, as we say, of saving both the goat and 
its fodder, sent secretly for Andrea and told him 
how matters stood, and that there was nothing 
else to be done but to have the picture copied 
as fast as possible, and to send the copy to the 
duke, secretly keeping the picture from Raffaello's 
hand. So Andrea promised to do the best he 
could, and having had a panel made of the 
same size, he worked at it secretly in Ottaviano's 
house, and laboured to such effect that, when 
it was finished, Ottaviano himself, who under- 
stood these things well, did not know one from 
the other, Andrea having even copied some dirty 




POPE LEO X WITH CARDINALS DE* MEDICI AND DE* KOSSI. 
(Pita Gallery, Florence ) 



Anderson 



ANDREA DEL SARTO 195 

stains that were on the original. So having 
hidden Raffaello's picture, they sent Andrea's 
to Mantua, and the duke was perfectly satisfied. 
Even Giulio Romano the painter, Raffaello's 
disciple, did not perceive the thing, and would 
always have believed it to be from Raffaello's 
hand if Giorgio Vasari (who, being Ottaviano's 
favourite, had seen Andrea working at the 
picture) had not discovered the matter to him. 
For when Giorgio came to Mantua, Giulio paid 
him much attention, and showed him the anti- 
quities and pictures, and among them this picture 
of Raffaello's, as the best thing that was there ; 
and Giorgio answered, "The work is most 
beautiful, but not from the hand of Raffaello." 
"No?" said Giulio; "do not / know, when 
I can recognize the touches that I put upon 
it ? " " You have forgotten," answered Giorgio, 
" for this is by Andrea del Sarto, and in proof 
of it look at this sign (showing it to him), which 
was put upon it in Florence, because the two 
being together were mistaken the one for the 
other." When he heard this Giulio -had the 
picture turned round, and when he saw the 
countersign, he shrugged his shoulders and said, 
" I esteem it none the less than if it were from 
Raffaello's hand, rather the more, for it is a thing 
beyond nature that a good painter should imitate 
so well another's manner and make it so like." 



196 STORIES FROM VASARI 

Not long after, Baldo Magini of Prato, desiring 
to have a picture painted for the Madonna della 
Carcere, among many other painters Andrea was 
proposed to him, and Baldo, though he did not 
know much about the matter, was more inclined 
to him than any other, and had already intimated 
to him that he would employ him, when a 
Niccol6 Soggi of Sansovino, having friends in 
Prato, was recommended so strongly to Baldo 
that the work was given to him. Nevertheless 
Andrea's friends sent for him, and he, thinking 
certainly the work was to be his, went with 
Domenico Puligo and some other painters his 
friends to Prato. But when he arrived he found 
that Niccol6 had not only turned Baldo against 
him, but was himself so daring and insolent as 
to propose in the presence of Baldo that they 
should make a wager who could paint the best 
picture. Andrea, knowing what Niccol6 was 
worth, answered (though he was generally a 
man of little spirit), " I have this pupil of mine 
with me who has not been studying long ; if you 
like to have a wager with him, I will put down 
the money for him ; but nothing will make me 
consent to compete with you, for if I were to 
win, it would be no honour to me, and if I lost, 
it would be the greatest disgrace." Then telling 
Baldo that he did right to give the work to 
Niccoli, for he would do it so that it would 



ANDREA DEL SARTO 197 

please people going to market, he returned to 
Florence. 

Here he was employed by Giacomo, a Servite 
friar, who, when absolving a woman from a vow, 
had commanded her to have the figure of our 
Lady painted over a door in the Nunziata. 
Finding Andrea, he told him that he had this 
money to spend, and although it was not much, 
it would be well done of him to undertake it ; 
and Andrea, being soft-hearted, was prevailed 
upon by the father's persuasions, and painted 
in fresco our Lady with the Child in her arms, 
and St. Joseph leaning on a sack. This picture 
needs none to praise it, for all can see it to be 
a most rare work. 

One day Andrea had been painting the 
intendant of the monks of Vallombrosa, and 
when the work was done some of the colour 
was left over, and Andrea, taking a tile, called 
Lucrezia, his wife, and said, cc Come here, for as 
this colour is left, I will paint you, that it may 
be seen how well you are preserved for your age, 
and yet how you have changed and how different 
you are from your first portraits." But the 
woman, having some fancy or other, would not 
sit still, and Andrea, as if he guessed that he was 
near his end, took a mirror and painted himself 
instead so well that the portrait seems alive. This 
portrait is still in possession of Lucrezia his wife. 



198 STORIES FROM VASARI 

During the siege of Florence some of the 
captains of the city escaped, carrying with them 
the pay of their soldiers ; therefore Andrea was 
charged to paint them in the Piazza del Podesd, 
together with some other citizens who had 
escaped and become rebels. That he might not 
be nicknamed Andrea of the Hanged Men, as 
Andrea dal Castagno had been, he gave it out 
that one of his pupils, Bernardo del Buda, was 
doing it; but, having enclosed the place with 
a hoarding, he used to go in and out by night, 
and carried out the work with his own hand 
so well that the figures appeared alive. The 
paintings on the fa?ade of the old Mercatanzia 
were many years afterwards covered with white- 
wash that they might not be seen. 

After the siege was over, Florence was filled 
with the soldiers from the camp, and some of 
the spearmen being ill with the plague caused 
no little panic in the city, and in a short time 
the infection spread. Either from the fear 
excited by it, or from having committed some 
excess in eating after the privations of the siege, 
Andrea one day fell ill, and taking to his bed, 
he died, it is said, almost without any one 
perceiving it, without medicine and without 
much care, for his wife kept as far from him 
as she could for fear of the plague. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

MATURING AND POLIDORO AND MONSIGNORI 

IN that age of gold, as we may well call the happy 
age of Leo X., among the most noble minds 
Polidoro da Caravaggio has an honourable place. 
He came to Rome about the time when the 
loggie of the Pope's palace were being built, 
under the direction of Raffaello, and until he was 
eighteen years of age was employed in carrying 
the bricklayer's hod for the builders. But when 
the painting began Polidoro's desires turned to 
painting, and he made himself intimate with all 
the young men of talent that he might learn their 
method of working. But from among them all 
he chose for a companion Maturino, a Florentine, 
with whom he worked, taking so much pleasure 
in the art that in a few months he did things 
which astonished every one who had known 
him in his former condition. And the love 
of Maturino for Polidoro, and Polidoro's for 
Maturino, grew so strong that they resolved to 
live and die together like brothers, having their 
work and money in common. And because 



199 



200 STORIES FROM VASARI 

Baldassare of Sienna had been doing the fa?ades 
of some houses in chiaroscuro they determined 
to follow his example. They began, therefore, 
to study the antiquities of Rome, and copied the 
ancient marbles until they both alike acquired 
the antique style, and the one was so like the 
other that, as their minds were moved by the 
same will, so their hands expressed the same 
knowledge. Of what great use they have been to 
the art of painting may be seen by the number of 
foreign artists who continually study their works ; 
for all artists in Rome copy the pictures of 
Polidoro and Maturino more than all the other 
modern paintings. Nevertheless they could never 
give that beauty to works in colour which they 
constantly gave to works in chiaroscuro, or in 
bronze or clay, and some children whom they 
painted in colour in S. Agostino in Rome do 
not look as if they came from the hands of 
illustrious men, but rather to have been done by 
some novices learning to paint. But if I were to 
name all their works, I should have to make a 
whole book of the doings of these two men, for 
there is no house or palace or garden or vine- 
yard where there are not works by Polidoro and 
Maturino. 

But now while Rome in smiles was embellish- 
ing herself with their works, and they were 
looking for the reward of their labours, envious 



MATURING AND POLIDORO 201 

fortune sent to Rome the Constable Bourbon, 
who in the year 1527 sacked the city. By this 
disaster it befell not only Maturino and Polidoro 
but many thousands of friends and relatives to 
be separated. Maturino, taking flight, had not 
gone far when he died of the plague, and was 
buried in S. Eustachio. Polidoro took his way 
to Naples, but finding the nobles there little 
curious in matters of art, he was like to die of 
hunger, and was forced to support life by work- 
ing for other painters. Seeing, therefore, that 
the people of Naples took more account of a 
horse that could jump than of a man who could 
paint figures that seemed alive, he went on board 
a galley and departed to Messina, where he 
found more honour, and there he produced many 
works, which are scattered in different places. 

When Charles V. returned from his victory at 
Tunis he passed through Messina, and Polidoro 
made some very fine triumphal arches, by which 
he earned a name and great rewards. And he in 
whom was always burning the desire to see again 
that Rome for which those who have lived there 
many years always pine, set himself to paint, as 
his last picture, Christ bearing His Cross, after 
which he resolved to depart from that country, 
although he was held in good account there ; and 
he took out of the bank a good sum of money 
that he had, and prepared to set out. Now 



202 STORIES FROM VASARI 

Polidoro had had in his service for a long time 
a boy of the country, who bore greater love to 
Polidoro's money than to himself, but because he 
kept it in the bank he had never been able to 
touch it. But now a wicked and cruel thought 
came into his mind, and he resolved with the aid 
of some of his friends to put his master to death 
the next night while he was sleeping, and to 
share his money with them. So they set upon 
him while he was in his first sleep and strangled 
him with a cord, and afterwards inflicted many 
wounds upon him ; and to show it was not they 
who had done it, they carried him to the door 
of a house where dwelt a lady whom Polidoro 
loved, that it might be supposed it was her 
kinsmen who had slain him. 

Then the boy, having given a good part of the 
money to the ruffians who had aided him and 
sent them away, went weeping to the house of a 
count who was a friend of his dead master, and 
told him what had happened, and a diligent 
search was made for those who had done the 
treacherous deed ; but nothing came to light. 
At last, as Heaven would have it, one who had 
no interest in the matter chanced to say that it 
was impossible that any one but the boy himself 
could have assassinated him. Upon that the 
count caused him to be seized and put to torture, 
when he confessed his crime and was condemned 



MONSIGNORI 203 

to the gallows. But this would not give back 
life to Polidoro. So they celebrated his obsequies 
with solemn ceremonies, and with the infinite grief 
of all Messina he was buried in the cathedral. 

There have always flourished in Verona from 
the time of Fra Giocondo men excellent in paint- 
ing and architecture. Among these was Fran- 
cesco Monsignori, who being encouraged by his 
father to apply himself to drawing, went to 
Mantua to find Mantegna, who was working in 
that city. He laboured so unweariedly, spurred 
on by the fame of his preceptor, that it was not 
long before Francesco II., Marquis of Mantua, 
who delighted in every kind of painting, took 
him into his service, gave him a house in Mantua 
to live in, and assigned him an honourable pro- 
vision. Francesco was not ungrateful for these 
benefits, and served this lord with the greatest 
fidelity and affection, and the marquis, on his 
side, grew daily more fond of him, until at last 
he never left the city without Francesco, and was 
heard to say that Francesco was dearer to him 
than his whole state. 

One day the marquis was watching him while 
he was working upon a picture of S. Sebastian, 
and said to him, "Francesco, you must have 
a finely formed model for this saint?" And 
Francesco replied, " I am drawing from a porter 
whose body is very finely formed, and I tie 



204 STORIES FROM VASARI 

him up, as I want to make my work look 
natural." And the marquis answered, "But 
the limbs of your saint do not look right, for 
there is no appearance of constraint ; and there 
is not that terror which one would imagine in 
a man who is tied up and being shot at ; but 
if you like, I will show you what you should 
do to make the figure right." "I pray you 
to do so, my lord," said Francesco. And he 
answered, " When you have tied up your porter 
send for me, and I will show you what you 
ought to do." So the next day Francesco tied 
him up as he wanted him and sent secretly to 
call the marquis, not knowing what he meant 
to do. Then the marquis rushed into the room 
in a fury, with a loaded cross-bow in his hand, 
and ran at the porter, crying aloud, "Traitor, 
you are a dead man ; I have caught you at last," 
and other like words, and the poor fellow, hearing 
them, and thinking himself a dead man, struggled 
to free himself from the ropes with which he 
was bound, and in his panic fear represented 
vividly the horror of death in his face and in 
his distorted limbs. Then the marquis said to 
Francesco, "There, that is how he should be; 
the rest you must do yourself." And the painter, 
considering the matter, gave his figure all the 
perfection that could be imagined. 

The Grand Turk had sent by one of his men 



MONSIGNORI 205 

a present to the marquis of a very fine dog, a 
bow, and a quiver. Thereupon the marquis 
set Francesco to paint the dog and the man 
who had brought it and the other things; and 
when it was done, wishing to see if the dog 
was lifelike, he caused one of -his own dogs, 
who was a great enemy to the Turkish dog, 
to be brought into the room where the dog 
was painted, standing on a stone pavement. And 
as soon as the live dog saw the painted one 
standing as if it were alive, and just like the 
one whom he mortally hated, he threw himself 
upon it to seize it, breaking away from the 
man who held him, and striking his head with 
such force against the wall that he dashed his 
skull to pieces. 

Benedetto Baroni, Francesco's nephew, had a 
picture of his, about which a story has been told 
by some people who were present. It was a 
picture of little more than two spans in length, 
a half-length of the Madonna, and at her side 
the Child from His shoulder upwards, with His 
arm lifted in the act of caressing His mother ; 
and it is said that when the Emperor was master 
of Verona, Don Alonzo of Castile, and Alarcone, 
the famous captain, were in that city, and being 
in the house of Count Lodovico da Sesso, said 
that they should like very much to see this pic- 
ture. So having sent for it, they were standing 



206 STORIES FROM VASARI 

one evening looking at it in a good light and 
admiring the skill of the work, when the count's 
wife, the Lady Caterina, came by with one of 
her sons, who had in his hand one of those green 
birds which are called in Verona " terrazzani," 
because they make their nest on the ground, 
and which will perch on your wrist like a hawk. 
It happened then that while she was standing 
with the others looking at the picture, this bird, 
seeing the outstretched arm of the painted Child, 
flew up to perch upon it, and not being able to 
attach itself to the picture, fell down, but twice 
it returned, thinking it was one of the living 
children who were always carrying it on their 
wrists. The lords, greatly astonished, would 
have paid Benedetto a great price to have had 
the picture, but they could not get it from him 
by any means. And when, not long after, they 
planned to steal it from him at a feast, he was 
warned of it, and their design did not succeed. 

Francesco was a man of holy life, and an 
enemy of vice, so that he would never paint 
any evil pictures though the marquis many 
times prayed him. And his brothers were like 
him in goodness. The third, who was a friar 
of the Observantines of S. Dominic, called Fra 
Girolamo, was also a reasonably good painter. 
He was a person of most simple habits, and 
quite a stranger to the things of the world. 



MONSIGNORI 207 

He lived at a farm belonging to the convent, 
and that he might escape all trouble and dis- 
turbance, he kept the money which was sent 
him for his work, and which he used for buying 
colours and such things, in an uncovered box 
hanging to a beam in the middle of his room, 
so that any one could take it. And that he 
might not have trouble every day about his 
food, he used on Monday to cook a saucepan 
of beans to last him the week. When the plague 
came to Mantua, and the sick were abandoned, 
as has often happened in such cases, Fra Giro- 
lamo, moved by the noblest charity, would not 
leave the poor sick fathers, but served them 
with his own hands, caring not that for the 
love of God he lost his own life, and so he took 
the infection and died, to the grief of all who 
knew him. 



CHAPTER XIX 

IL ROSSO 

THE Florentine painter II Rosso, whowas honoured 
above every one of his trade by so great a king 
as the King of France, was endowed with many 
gifts besides that of painting. For he was a 
man of splendid presence, with a gracious and 
serious manner of speaking, a good musician, 
and with a knowledge of philosophy. In archi- 
tecture also he was excellent, and always, however 
poor he might be, he showed himself rich and 
great in soul. In his youth he drew from 
Michael Angelo's cartoon in the Council Hall, 
but would have little to do with any masters. 
Having obtained some reputation by his works, 
he was entrusted with the painting of a picture 
which Raffaello had left unfinished. He also 
painted for Gio. Bandini a story from the life 
of Moses, which I think was sent to France. 
Another for Cavalcanti, who was going to 
England, was of Jacob at the well. II Rosso 
was living while he was at work upon it in the 
Borgo de' Tintori which joins on to the garden 



IL ROSSO 209 

of the friars of S. Croce, and he was at that 
time much attached to a monkey, which had 
the nature of a man rather than an animal. 
He kept him always with him, and loved him 
as himself, and because he had a marvellous 
understanding, he taught him to perform many 
services. The animal attached himself to one 
of his lads named Battistino, who was very 
beautiful, and he seemed to understand every- 
thing he wanted him to do. Now against the 
back of the house which looked out on the 
friars' garden, there was a. trellis covered with 
a vine full of great San Colombo grapes, and 
the young fellows used to send the monkey 
down and draw him up again by a rope with 
his hands full of grapes. The friar, who had 
the charge of the vines, finding his vines getting 
thinned and suspecting the mice, kept watch, 
and discovered II Rosso's monkey descending. 
Full of rage, he snatched up a stick and ran 
towards him to beat him. The monkey, seeing 
that if he began to climb he would catch him, 
and the same if he stood still, began leaping 
about in a way that threatened to bring down 
the vine, and took hold of the trellis, intending 
to throw himself on the friar's back. At the 
same moment the friar waved his stick, and the 
monkey in his terror shook the trellis so violently 
that the beams gave way, and trellis and monkey 



210 STORIES FROM VASARI 

and all carne down on the top of the friar, who 
cried out for mercy, while Battistino and the 
others pulled the monkey up safe into their 
room. The friar meanwhile went off in a rage, 
and proceeded in great anger to the office of 
the Council of Eight, magistrates who were 
much feared in Florence. Having lodged his 
complaint, II Rosso was summoned, and the 
monkey was jokingly condemned to have a 
weight attached to him, that he might not be 
able to jump about as he had done. So II Rosso 
made a roller which turned on an iron bar, so 
that he might go about the house, but not 
climb into other people's gardens. The monkey, 
finding himself condemned to such a piece of 
torture, seemed to guess that the friar' was the 
cause of it; he set to work therefore, and 
practised himself every day in leaping, carrying 
the weight in his hands, until at last he was 
ready for his design. Then one day, being left 
loose by accident, he leaped from roof to roof 
until he came to the friar's own room, just at 
the hour when the friar was at vespers. Then 
dropping the weight, he had such a merry dance 
on the roof for half-an-hour that there was not 
a tile that was not broken when he returned 
to the Jiouse. 

When II Rosso had finished his work he went 
off with Battistino and the monkey to Rome, 



IL ROSSO in 

where great things were expected of him, for 
some of his drawings had been seen which were 
considered marvellous. He produced one work 
in the Pace above Raffaello's paintings, but he 
never painted anything worse in all his life ; 
nor can I imagine how this came about unless 
it was the change of place. It may be that 
with the air of Rome and the astounding things 
that he saw, the architecture and sculpture and 
the pictures and statues of Michael Angelo, he 
was not himself; in the same way Fra Barto- 
lommeo and Andrea del Sarto fled from Rome 
without leaving any works behind them. What- 
ever was the cause, II Rosso never did worse, and 
moreover the painting has to stand comparison 
with Raffaello's. 

When the sack of Rome happened, poor 
II Rosso was made prisoner by the Germans, 
and very badly treated, for having stripped him 
of his clothes, they made him go barefoot and 
bareheaded carrying heavy weights, until he 
succeeded in escaping to Perugia. Afterwards 
he came to Arezzo, and was entrusted with a 
painting in fresco in the Madonna delle Lagrime. 
But when "the siege of Florence began in 1530, 
the people of Arezzo looked with an evil eye 
upon the Florentines, and II Rosso would not 
trust himself to them, and went away to Borgo 
S. Sepolcro, leaving the cartoons and the drawings 



212 STORIES FROM VASARI 

for the work shut up in the citadel, and he 
would never return, but finished the picture 
there. 

He had always had a desire to end his life 
in France, and escape, as he said, from the certain 
misery and poverty which befall men who work 
in Tuscany, and in the lands where they are 
born; so he determined now to depart, and 
studied for that purpose the Latin language, 
that he might take a better position. He was 
forced, however, to hasten his departure, for on 
Holy Thursday, being in church with a young 
Aretine who was a pupil of his, the young fellow, 
with a candle and some pitch, produced some 
flames while they were holding the service of 
the Tenebrae, for which he was reproved and 
somewhat knocked about by some of the priests. 
II Rosso, who was sitting by the side of the 
boy, started up angrily in the priest's face, which 
occasioned a disturbance, and no one knowing 
exactly what was the matter, all rushed sword 
in hand against poor II Rosso, who was struggling 
with the priests. He betook himself to flight, 
and dexterously made his escape to his abode 
without being hurt. However, considering 
himself insulted, he set off at night, and went 
by the way of Pesaro to Venice and thence to 
France, where he was received with many caresses 
by the Florentines there. 



IL ROSSO 213 

He presented some pictures to King Francis 
which pleased him greatly, but still more did his 
presence and bearing and conversation ; for he 
was tall in person, of a red complexion, agreeing 
with his name, and in all his gestures grave 
and judicious. The king therefore immediately 
ordered him a provision of four hundred crowns, 
and gave him a house in Paris, where, however, 
he lived but little, spending most of his time 
at Fontainebleau. He also set him over all the 
buildings and pictures of that place, and he 
adorned it with paintings. The king was so 
pleased with them that before long he gave him 
a canonry in the chapel of the Madonna at Paris, 
with other gifts. Here II Rosso lived like a 
lord, with a great number of servants and horses, 
and gave banquets to all his friends and acquaint- 
ances, especially to the Italians, and had his 
house supplied with tapestry and silver and 
furniture of value. But fortune, who seldom 
or never leaves undisturbed the glory of those 
who trust too much in her, brought him most 
strangely to a miserable end. For while Fran- 
cesco di Pellegrino, a Florentine, one who de- 
lighted greatly in painting, and a great friend 
of his, was working with him, it happened that 
II Rosso was robbed of some hundreds of ducats, 
and not knowing whom to suspect except this 
Francesco, he caused him to be brought before 



2i 4 STORIES FROM VASARI 

the courts and subjected to a rigorous examina- 
tion and put to the torture. But he confessing 
nothing was found innocent and let go free, and 
moved by a just anger, resented the injurious 
charge which had been brought against him, and 
summoning II Rosso in his turn, pressed his com- 
plaint in such a manner that II Rosso, not know- 
ing how to defend himself, found himself in evil 
case. For he had not only falsely accused his 
friend, but had stained his own honour. So 
he determined rather to kill himself than be 
punished by others. One day, therefore, when 
the' king was at Fontainebleau, he sent a man to 
Paris for a certain poison, representing that he 
wanted to use it for his colours or varnishes. 
The man while returning with it held his thumb 
over the mouth of the bottle, which, however, 
was stopped with wax ; but such was the malignity 
of the poison that he almost lost his finger, which 
was as it were eaten away by it. II Rosso himself 
taking it, in a few hours cut short his life. The 
news being brought to the king displeased him 
greatly, for it seemed to him that by his death he 
had Jost the greatest artist of his time. 



CHAPTER XX 

PARMIGIANO 

AMONG the many in Lombardy who have been 
endowed with a gift for drawing and a spirit 
of invention and a talent for painting beautiful 
landscapes, none is to be put before Francesco 
Mazzuoli Parmigiano. If he had only kept to 
the study of painting, and not gone after the 
nonsense of congealing mercury to make him- 
self rich, he would have been without compare. 
Francesco was born in Parma in 1504, and his 
father dying when he was a child of tender age, 
he was left in the custody of two old uncles, both 
painters, who brought him up with the tenderest 
love, and taught him all that a Christian and a 
citizen ought to know. He had no sooner taken 
a pen in his hand to learn to write than he began 
to draw marvellously, and his master, perceiving 
this, persuaded his uncles to let him apply him- 
self to painting. They, although they were old, 
and painters of no great fame, were men of 
good judgment, and placed him under excellent 
masters. And because they found that he had 



215 



216 STORIES FROM VASARI 

been born, as they say, with a pencil in his hand, 
sometimes they urged him on, and sometimes, 
fearing that too much study would injure his 
health, they restrained him. At length, having 
reached the age of sixteen, he completed a picture 
of S. John baptizing Christ, which even now 
causes astonishment that a boy could have done 
such a thing. 

Many others he painted before he attained the 
age of nineteen. Then came upon him the desire 
to see Rome, hearing men greatly praise the 
works of the masters there, especially of Raffaello 
and Michael Angelo, and he told his desire to 
his old uncles. They, seeing nothing in the 
desire that was not praiseworthy, agreed, but said 
that it would be well to take something with 
him which would gain him an introduction to 
artists. And the counsel seeming good to Fran- 
cesco, he painted three pictures, two small and 
one very large. Besides these, inquiring one day 
into the subtleties of art, he began to draw himself 
as he appeared in a barber's convex glass. He had 
a ball of wood made at a turner's and divided in 
half, and on this he set himself to paint all that 
he saw in the. glass, and because the mirror en- 
larged everything that was near and diminished 
what was distant, he painted the hand a little 
large. Francesco himself, being of very beauti- 
ful countenance and more like an angel than a 




Anderson. 



ALEXANDER FARNE8E EMBRACED BY MINERVA. 
(Ahtseo Naxionale> Naples ) 



PARMIGIANO 217 

man, his portrait on the ball seemed a thing 
divine, and the work altogether was a happy 
success, having all the lustre of the glass, with 
every reflection and the light and shade so true, 
that nothing more could be hoped for from the 
human intellect. 

The picture being finished and packed, together 
with the portrait, he set out, accompanied by one 
of his uncles, for Rome ; and as soon as the 
Chancellor of the Pope had seen the pictures, 
he introduced the youth and his uncle to Pope 
Clement, who seeing the works produced and 
Francesco so young, was astonished, and all his 
court with him. And his Holiness gave him the 
charge of painting the Pope's hall. 

Francesco studying in Rome wished to see 
everything, ancient and modern, sculpture and 
painting, that there was in the city ; but he held 
in special veneration the works of Michael Angelo 
and Raffaello da Urbino, and people said when 
they saw a youth of such rare art and such 
gentle, graceful manners, that the spirit of 
Raffaello had passed into the body of Fran- 
cesco, seeing also that he strove to imitate him 
in everything, especially in painting, and not 
in vain. 

But while he was painting a picture for S. 
Salvadore del Lauro came the ruin and the sack of 
Rome, which not only banished all art for the time, 



2i8 STORIES FROM VASARI 

but cost the lives of many artists, and Francesco 
was very near losing his ; for at the beginning 
of the tumult he was so intent on his work that 
when the soldiers began entering the houses 
and some Germans were already in his he, for 
all the noise they made, did not move from his 
place. But they, coming suddenly upon him, 
and seeing his painting, were so astonished by it 
that, like good fellows, they let him alone. And 
while the poor city was ruined by the impious 
cruelty of the barbarians, sacred and profane 
things alike suffering, without respect to God or 
man, he was taken care of by these Germans, and 
honoured and defended from injury. All the 
annoyance that he suffered from them was that, 
one of them being a great connoisseur in paint- 
ing, he was forced to make a number of drawings 
in water-colour or in pen and ink, which were 
taken as the payment of his ransom. But on 
the soldiers being changed, Francesco fell into 
trouble, for while he was going to look for some 
friends, he was made prisoner by some other 
soldiers, and obliged to give up the few crowns 
he had. His uncle, seeing that all hope of Fran- 
cesco's acquiring knowledge, fame, and wealth 
was cut off, and that Rome was little less than 
ruined, and the Pope a prisoner in the hands of 
the Spaniards, determined to take him back to 
Parma. 



PARMIGIANO 219 

But having reached Bologna, and meeting 
there many friends, he stayed some months in 
that city, and caused some of his works to be 
engraved, having with him for that purpose 
one Antonio da Trento. But this Antonio one 
morning when Francesco was in bed opened a 
chest, took out all the engravings and wood- 
cuts, and whatever drawings he could find, and 
took himself off it was never known where ; and 
though Francesco recovered the engravings, which 
the fellow had left with a friend, intending pro- 
bably to get them when it was convenient, he 
never saw his drawings again. Half desperate, 
he returned to his painting, and was forced for 
the sake of earning some money to paint the 
portrait of some Bolognese Count or other. 

When the Emperor Charles V. came to 
Bologna that Clement VII. might crown him, 
Francesco went to see him dine, and without 
drawing his portrait painted a very large picture 
of this Caesar, with Fame crowing him with laurel. 
And when it was finished, he showed it to Pope 
Clement, and it pleased him so much that he 
sent both the picture and Francesco to the 
emperor, accompanied by -the Bishop of Verona. 
The picture pleasing his Majesty also, he gave 
him to understand that he was to leave it ; but 
Francesco, by the counsel of a not very faithful 
or not very wise friend, said it was not finished, 



220 STORIES FROM VASARI 

and so his Majesty did not have it, and he was 
not rewarded as he certainly would have been. 

So Francesco, after many years' absence from 
his home, having gained experience in art, and 
acquired friends but no wealth, returned at last 
to Parma. And immediately he was set to paint 
in fresco in the church of S. Maria della Steccata. 
He was also employed in painting a picture for a 
gentleman of Parma, and for the church of S. 
Maria de' Servi. But it soon appeared that he 
was neglecting the work in the Steccata, or at 
least taking it very easily ; it was evident things 
were going badly with him ; and the reason was 
that he had begun to study alchemy, and to put 
aside painting for it, hoping to enrich himself 
quickly by congealing mercury. He used his 
brains no longer for working out fine conceptions 
with his pencils and colours, but wasted all his 
days instead over his charcoal and wood and glass 
bottles and such trash, spending more in a day than 
he earned in a week by his painting in the Steccata. 
Having no other means, he began to find that his 
furnaces were ruining him little by little, and 
what was worse still, the company of the Steccata, 
seeing that he neglected his work, and having 
perhaps paid him beforehand, began a suit against 
him. He therefore fled by night with some of 
his friends to Casal Maggiore, where putting his 
alchemy for a while out of his head, he returned 



PARMIGIANO 221 

to his painting, and made a Lucretia, which was 
the best thing that had ever been seen from his 
hand. But his mind was constantly turning to 
his alchemy, and he himself was changed from 
the gentle, delicate youth to a savage with long, 
ill-kept hair and beard, and in this melancholy 
state he was attacked by a fever, which carried 
him off in a few days. 



CHAPTER XXI 

PERINO DEL VAGA 

THERE was in the city of Florence one Giovanni 
Buonaccorsi, who being young and high-spirited, 
joined the service of Charles VIII. , and spent all 
his property in the wars and in gambling. To 
him was born a son named Piero, whose mother 
died of the plague when he was only two months 
old, and he was brought up in great poverty, 
being fed with goat's milk, until his father going 
to Bologna took as his second wife a woman who 
had lost her first husband and her sons of the 
plague. She nursed the little Piero, calling him 
by the pet name of Pierino, and this name clung 
to him always. His father afterwards brought 
him to Florence, and left him with some of his 
relations there when he returned to France. He 
was taken as he grew older by Andrea de' Ceri, a 
painter who was pleased with his ways and looks. 
Andrea was a very ordinary painter, and kept an 
open shop, working in public all sorts of mecha- 
nical things, and he used to paint tapers every 
year for the feast of S. John, by which he obtained 



PEKING DEL VAGA 223 

the name of Andrea de' Ceri, and Perino for a 
time was known as Perino de' Ceri. Andrea 
kept Perino for some years, and taught him to 
the best of his power the principles of art, but 
was forced when he reached the age of eleven 
years to put him with a better master, and being 
intimate with Ridolfo, son of Domenico Ghirlan- 
daio, who had many youths in his workshop, he 
put Perino with him. There was one among 
them named Toto del Nunziata, who was a con- 
tinual spur to urge him on, and Perino competing 
with him was not long in becoming an excellent 
scholar. 

There came at that time to Florence II Vaga 
the. Florentine^ who was working in Toscanella, 
and though he was not an excellent master, work 
was abundant with him, and he needed helpers. 
Therefore, seeing Perino working in Ridolfo's 
workshop, and superior to the other scholars, 
being also a beautiful youth, and courteous, 
modest, and gentle, he asked him if he would 
go with him to Rome. Perino had such a great 
desire to attain a high rank in his profession 
that when he heard of Rome his heart glowed, 
but he said he must speak to Andrea de' Ceri, 
for he would not abandon him who had helped 
him till that time. So Vaga persuaded Ridolfo 
and Andrea to let him go, and took him with 
him to Toscanella, where he began to work, and 



224 STORIES FROM VASARI 

Perino to help him. And when Perino lamented 
that the promise of taking him to Rome was 
delayed, and began. to think of going by himself, 
Vaga left his work and took him himself to 
Rome ; and when he would return to Toscanella 
he recommended Perino to all the friends he 
had that they might help him, and so from that 
time forward he was always called Perino del 
Vaga. 

Perino, burning with the love of art and his 
desire to become great in it, was forced to work 
like a day labourer, now with one painter and 
now with another, but finding this very incon- 
venient for his studies, he determined to work 
half the week for pay, and to give the other 
half to study, reserving also all the feast days 
and a great part of the nights. So he studied 
in the Pope's chapel, taking Raffaello as his 
model, and learnt how to work in stucco, 'and 
copied ancient marbles, stinting himself to the 
utmost and begging his bread, if only he might 
through any misery become excellent in his pro- 
fession. And before long he became the best 
draughtsman among those who were studying 
in Rome, and Giulio Romano and Giovan Fran- 
cesco, called II Fattore, made him known to 
their master, RafFaello. Now Raffaello was then 
working at the loggie that Leo X. had ordered, 
and he had chosen in Rome or brought thither 




Pcrino del Vagst. 



GALATEA. 
(Doria Gallery, Rome.) 



Anderson. 



PEKING DEL VAGA 225 

many masters, a company of men of worth, to 
work, some In stucco, some in grotesques, some 
on leaves, festoons, and such things ; and as soon 
as he found that any one did well, he brought 
him forward and gave him better wages, and 
by this means many youths were perfected who 
afterwards became well known. Into this com- 
pany Perino was brought, and soon showed 
himself the best for drawing and colour. He 
always showed submission and reverent obedience 
towards Raffaello, so that he was loved by him 
as his own son. And his name becoming known, 
he was employed by others, accomplishing many 
works in Rome and making himself famous. 

In the year 1523 the plague broke out in 
Rome, and Perino, to save his life, determined 
to leave; and Piloto the goldsmith, a friend 
of Perino's, being at table with him one day, 
persuaded him to go with him to Florence. It 
was many years since he had been there, but 
although Andrea de' Ceri and his wife were 
dead, it was still dear to him as the place of 
his birth. So it was not long before he and 
Piloto set off one morning and came to Florence. 
And being arrived there, he found the greatest 
pleasure in looking again at the old things 
painted by masters long dead, which had been 
his study in his childish years, and also in seeing 
the works of the masters then living. 



226 STORIES FROM VASARI 

One day it happened that many artists, 
sculptors, architects, and goldsmiths, having met 
together according to the old custom to do 
him honour, some wishing to see Perino and 
hear what he had to say, and some wanting 
to see what was the difference between the 
artists of Rome and those of Florence in their 
methods of working, it happened, I say, that 
talking of one thing and another, they came 
to the church of the Carmine to see Masaccio's 
chapel. And each one considering it attentively, 
and adding his mite to the praise of this great 
master, all affirmed that it was marvellous that 
he who had seen nothing but Giotto's paintings 
should have worked in so modern a style, and 
that even now there was no one who could equal 
him in relief and in execution. This conversation 
pleased Perino well, and he replied to the artists, 
" I do not deny that what you say is true, and 
much more besides, but that no one has equalled 
his manner, I deny; rather, I should say, that 
I know many a one whose style is bolder and 
more graceful, and I, who am not among the 
first in art I am sorry that there is no room 
here for me to paint a figure by the side of one 
of these in fresco, that you may see if there is 
no one among the moderns who can equal him." 
There was present a master who was considered 
the first in Florence, and he being curious to 



PERINO DEL VAGA 227 

see Perino's work, and perhaps desirous to lower 
his pride, said, " Although this side is full, yet 
as you have such a desire certainly a good and 
praiseworthy one there is a space on the other 
side where his S. Paul is, and you can easily 
show us what you say, by painting another 
apostle by the side either of Masolino's S. Peter 
or Masaccio's S. Paul." The S. Peter was nearest 
the window, and there was more space there 
and better light, while it was as fine a figure as 
the S. Paul. So they all urged Perino to do it, 
because they wanted to see this Roman manner, 
and many said he would be the means of ridding 
their minds of a fancy which they had held to 
for scores of years, and if his was better they 
would all run after the modern things. So 
Perino was persuaded at last by hearing one of 
the masters say that he might paint a figure in 
fresco in a fortnight, and they would spend 
years in praising it, and he resolved to make 
the attempt. And the prior of the convent 
was called, and courteously gave them leave to 
paint in the place. And they took the measure 
of the space, the height and the width, and 
departed, 

Then Perino made a cartoon, choosing the 
apostle S. Andrew, and finished it carefully, and 
had the scaffolding prepared for painting it. But 
before his coming some j|f his friends, who had 



228 STORIES FROM VASARI 

seen his works in Rome, had procured for him 
a commission for a painting in fresco. There 
were a number of men in the Camaldoli in 
Florence who had formed themselves into a com- 
pany called the Company of the Martyrs ; and 
they desired to have painted the story of those 
martyrs who having been taken in battle were 
condemned by the two Roman emperors "to be 
crucified. And this had been entrusted to Perino, 
who undertook it gladly, although the price was 
small, for he thought it would bring him the 
consideration he deserved among the citizens and 
artists in Florence. He made therefore a small 
drawing, which was pronounced divine, and then 
began a cartoon as large as the work. And 
when this was seen, all said that nothing equal 
in beauty and drawing had been seen since Michael 
Angelo had made his cartoon for the Council 
Hall. 

Now Perino had long been friendly with a Ser 
Raffaello di Sandro, a priest of S. Lorenzo, and 
he persuaded him to take up his quarters with 
him, and Perino lodged there many weeks. But 
the plague began to show itself in certain places 
in Florence, and Perino for fear of it determined 
to depart. He wished first, however, to re- 
munerate Ser Raffaello, but he would not con- 
sent to take anything, saying, " A scrap of paper 
from your hand would be enough." So Perino 



PEKING DEL VAGA 229 

took a thick piece of cloth about four braccia in 
size, and fixed it to a wall, and painted on it in 
bronze colour in a day and a night the Crossing 
of the Red Sea. And this he gave to Ser Raffaello, 
who was as glad of it as if he had made him prior 
of S. Lorenzo. 

Then Perino departed from Florence, leaving 
the Martyrs unfinished, to his great regret ; 
indeed, if it had been in any other place than 
the Camaldoli he would have finished it, but that 
convent had been set apart for the infected, and 
he chose rather to save his life than to leave a 
fame of himself in Florence, having already shown 
by his drawings what he was worth. 

For many months he fled from place to place 
to escape the plague, but when it had ceased he 
returned to Rome. Now after the death of 
Raffaello it had been resolved to make Giulio 
Romano and Giovan Francesco, called II Fattore, 
directors of the works, that they might divide 
the work among the other painters ; but Perino 
showed himself so excellent that they did not 
doubt he would be placed above them, being also 
a disciple of Raffaello. They therefore deter- 
mined to attach him to their interests, and for 
that purpose gave him the sister of Giovan Fran- 
cesco to wife, and thus changed their friendship 
into kinship. 

And this lasted until in the year 1527 came 



230 STORIES FROM VASARI 

the ruin of Rome, and Perino, with his wife and 
his little girl hanging on his neck, ran about from 
place to place seeking a shelter, and at last was 
made prisoner. And they made him pay such a 
sum for his ransom that he was nearly out of 
his mind ; and even after the fury of the sack 
was over, he was so much overwhelmed by his 
ruin that he could do nothing in his art, until 
II Baviera, who was the only one who had not 
lost much, made him draw for him the Meta- 
morphoses of the Gods, which was engraved by 
Jacopo Caraglio. 

But while he was in such misery there came 
to Rome Niccola Veniziano, a servant of Prince 
Dona's, and he out of old friendship for Perino 
persuaded him to go to Genoa, promising him 
that the prince, who was a lover of painting, 
would give him work ; and Perino was not hard 
to persuade. So leaving his wife and child with 
their relatives in Rome, he set out for Genoa, 
and was received with great kindness by the 
prince. And the prince determined to make a 
palace adorned with stucco and with pictures in 
fresco and oil ; and there Perino produced those 
works which are his best. 

It is said that before his coming Girolamo da 
Trevigi had been painting there, and when he 
saw Perino making cartoons and sketches on 
different sheets of papers, and not beginning the 



PEKING DEL VAGA 231 

work itself, he began to raise a complaint against 
him, saying, "Cartoons, nothing but cartoons! 
I carry my art at the end of my brush." These 
words came to Perino's ears, and being angry, he 
caused his cartoon to be fixed on the ceiling 
where he was to paint, and taking away some of 
the scaffolding that it might be seen from below, 
he opened the hall. And all Genoa ran to see 
the picture, and were astonished at it. And 
among them came Girolamo da Trevigi, and 
seeing what he had never expected to see from 
Perino's hand, overwhelmed by its beauty, he 
departed from Genoa, without even , taking leave 
of Prince Doria, and returned to Bologna. 

So Perino proceeded with his work, and adorned 
many of the rooms with his paintings; and deco- 
rated the poops of Prince Doria's galleys, and 
made many banners and standards, so that he was 
much loved by the prince, and would have been 
greatly rewarded by him. But while he was 
working there the fancy took him to fetch his 
wife from Rome, and to buy himself a house in 
Pisa. He intended, as he was growing old, to 
settle there, but the remembrance of Rome in the 
happy days of Leo filled him with a great desire 
to return, and one morning the whim took him 
and he left Pisa and went to Rome. 

Nevertheless for some months he was left 
without employment, and was tempted to depart 



232 STORIES FROM VASARI 

again ; but his friends comforted him, and bade 
him have patience, saying that Rome was no 
longer what she had been. And after a time 
he was employed in the chapel of the Pope, where 
Michael Angelo painted the Last Judgment, and 
by degrees much work came into his hands. 

But in his last works he followed the example 
of Raffaello, and the designing of his works 
pleasing him more than the completing of them, 
he gave them to others to carry out. He, 
however, who would preserve his name should 
do the whole work himself. But Perino had so 
many things entrusted to him that he was forced 
to employ others; besides, he had now a thirst 
for gain rather than glory, having prospered so 
ill in his youth. He acquired such an influence 
that almost all the work in Rome was entrusted 
to him. But he had taken upon himself too 
great a burden, considering his infirmities. He 
had to work day and night, not only at great 
works, but at drawings for embroidery, carving, 
and all kinds of ornaments, so that he had not 
an hour of repose, except when he sat with his 
friends at the tavern, which he held to be the 
true blessedness of life. So, worn out with his 
labours and the hardships of his life, he fell into 
a consumption, and one evening while talking 
to a friend near his house he fell dead, at the 
age of forty-seven. 



CHAPTER XXII 

BACCIO BANDINELLI 

IN the days when art was flourishing at Florence, 
under the favour of the magnificent Lorenzo 
de' Medici, there was in the city a goldsmith 
named Michael Angelo di Viviano da Gaiuole, 
who worked excellently with his chisel, and was 
skilled in niello work, and had great knowledge 
of jewels, so that his shop was considered the 
first in Florence. He was also very familiar 
with the sons of Lorenzo, and when the Medici 
fled from Florence in the year 1494, they left 
with him much plate and treasure, which he 
kept secretly and restored faithfully when they 
returned. To him was born a son whom he 
named Bartolommeo, but who was always called, 
after the manner of Florence, Baccio. And as 
in those times no one was thought to be a good 
goldsmith who was not a good draughtsman 
and could not work well in relief, he put him 
with other boys to learn drawing. While Baccio 
was still a child he was one day in the shop of 
Girolamo del Bada, on the Piazza of S. Pulinari, 



933 



234 STORIES FROM VASARI 

and there had been a heavy fall of snow, which 
had been piled up in heaps. Girolamo, turning 
to Baccio, said to him in jest, "Baccio, if that 
snow were marble we might carve out of it a 
great giant like Marforio lying down." "So 
we might," said Baccio; "let us treat it as if 
it were marble." So putting on his cloak he 
set to work, and helped by some other boys, 
he made a rough model of a Marforio eight 
braccia long, lying down, which astonished every 
one, not so, much at the work itself, as at the 
spirit with which so small a boy set himself to 
so great a work. 

His father, seeing his inclination, put him 
under the care of Rustici, the best sculptor of 
the city, with whom Lionardo da Vinci had 
constant intercourse. He saw Baccio's drawings 
and was pleased with them, and praising to him 
Donatello's works, bade him do something in 
marble. 

It was at this time that the cartoon of Michael 
Angelo in the Council Hall was uncovered, and 
all the artists ran to copy it, and Baccio among 
others. He went more frequently than any one, 
having counterfeited the key of the chamber. 
In the year 1512, Piero Soderini was deposed 
and the house of Medici reinstated. In the 
tumult, therefore, Baccio, being by himself, 
secretly cut the cartoon into several pieces. 




CHARCOAL PORTRAIT OF JACOPA DOW. 
(Tlit I.onvrt.) 



BACCIO BANDINELLI 235 

Some said he did it that he might have a piece 
of the cartoon always near him, and others that 
he wanted to prevent other youths from making 
use of it; others again say that he did it out 
of affection for Lionardo da Vinci, or from the 
hatred he bore to Michael Angelo. The loss 
anyhow to the city was no small one, and Baccio's 
fault very great. 

Having obtained the reputation of being a 
good draughtsman, he desired to learn how to 
paint in colours, being firmly of opinion that he 
should not only equal Buonarroti but surpass him 
greatly ; however, he wished to pretend that he 
had found out how to manage the colours by 
himself and had not been taught by others. He 
went therefore to his friend Andrea del Sarto, 
and asked him to paint his portrait in oils, 
thinking he should get two things by this scheme ; 
first, he should see how the colours were mixed, 
and then the picture would be his and he could 
use it as a model. But Andrea perceived what 
Baccio was about, and was angry at his artfulness, 
although he would have been ready to show him 
all he wanted if he had asked him as a friend. 
However, he did not pretend to have found him 
out, but instead of mixing his colours as he 
usually did, he put them all on to his palette at 
once, and mixed them together with his brush, 
taking a little now of one and now of another 



236 STORIES FROM VASARI 

with great rapidity, so that Baccio, being obliged 
to sit still if he wanted to be painted, could not 
discover what he wished to know. Nevertheless 
Baccio did not give up his desire, but obtained 
assistance from the painter II Rosso, whom he 
told more openly what he wanted. He also gave 
himself to the study of anatomy, persevering in 
it for many months and years. And certainly 
the man had a desire to do good work and gain 
honour by it, which is greatly to be praised. He 
spared no fatigue and wasted no time, but was 
always intent on his work. 

When Leo X. passed through Florence and 
the city was decorated in his honour, a colossal 
statue was entrusted to Baccio. It was a Her- 
cules, and from Baccio's talk it was expected 
to surpass Buonarroti's David ; but as his deeds 
did not correspond with his words, nor the work 
to his boasts, Baccio lost greatly in the esteem of 
artists and of all the city. Pope Leo then sent 
him to help Andrea Contucci in some works that 
he was employed upon at Loreto. And when he 
came there he wa$ received gladly by Andrea, 
and welcomed because of his fame and because 
the Pope had recommended him. A piece of 
marble being assigned him, he set to work, but 
being a person who could not endure rivalry, and 
seldom praised other people's work, he began 
to find fault with Andrea's work to the other 



BACCIO BANDINELLI 237 

sculptors, saying it was wanting in drawing, and 
he said the same of the others, so that in a little 
while he had aroused a great deal of ill-will. 
Then what he had said coming to Andrea's ears, 
he, like a wise man, began to reprove him gently, 
saying that sculpture was to be done with the 
hands and not with the tongue, and that he 
ought to speak of him with more respect. But 
Baccio replied to him with such insulting lan- 
guage that Andrea could bear it no longer, and 
attacked him as if he were going to murder him, 
but some people coming in hindered him. So 
Baccio was forced to depart from Loreto and 
come to Rome. 

Now about that time two ambassadors arrived 
from King Francis, and they went to see the 
Belvedere statues, and expressed much admiration 
for the Laocoon. The Cardinals de' Medici and 
Bibbiena, who were with them, asked if the king 
would value such a thing, but they replied it 
would be too great a gift. Then the cardinal 
answered that either this statue, or one so like 
it that the difference could not be found out, 
should be sent to his Majesty. And he resolved 
to have a copy made of it, and remembering 
Baccio, he sent for him and asked if he had 
courage to try to make a Laocoon equal to the 
original. Baccio replied that not only would he 
make one equal to it, but he would surpass it. 



238 STORIES FROM VASARI 

So the cardinal resolved it should be done, and 
while he was waiting for the marble Baccio made 
a model in wax, and a cartoon in black and white 
of the same size as the statue. Then the marble 
arrived, and Baccio, having made a screen in the 
Belvedere, set to work. But before it was very 
far advanced the Pope died, and Adrian VI. 
being made pope in his room, Baccio returned 
with the cardinal to Florence. But when Adrian 
was dead, and Clement VII. became pope, he 
returned to Rome and to his Laocoon, which he 
completed in two years with greater excellence 
than he had ever shown in his work. He also 
restored the right arm of the ancient statue which 
had been broken off and was never found. The 
work appeared so good to his Holiness that he 
changed his mind and determined to send some 
other ancient statues to the king, and to send 
this to Florence, where it was placed in the palace 
of the Medici. 

Now in the time of Leo X., while the marble 
for the S. Lorenzo of Florence was being hewn 
in Carrara, another piece had been cut nine and 
a half braccia high and five broad. Michael 
Angelo had designed to carve from this Hercules 
killing Cacus, to be placed by the side of his 
colossal David, and had made many drawings for 
it ; but the death of Leo had stopped everything. 
When Clement was made pope, however, he 



BACCIO BANDINELLI 239 

desired that Michael Angelo should resume his 
work on the tombs of the Medici heroes in 
S. Lorenzo, and it was necessary to get more 
marble. The works were under the care of 
Domenico Boninsegni. He tried secretly to per- 
suade Michael Angelo to join him in defrauding 
the Pope, but Michael Angelo refusing, Domenico 
took such a hatred to him that he did everything 
he could to annoy him, but covertly. He per- 
suaded the Pope to give the marble for the 
colossal statue to Baccio, who at that time had 
nothing to do, saying that his Holiness would be 
better served by stirring up two such great men 
to emulation. His counsel pleased the Pope, and 
he followed it. Baccio was granted the marble, 
and made a wax model of the Hercules. He was 
sent to Carrara to see the marble, and orders were 
given that it should be brought by water to Signa 
on the river Arno. But when it arrived there, 
the river being low between Signa and Florence, 
they determined to take it by land, and while 
being disembarked it fell into the water, and 
through its great weight sank so deep in the mud 
that they could not get it out. However the 
Pope commanded that the marble was to be re- 
covered by some means or other, and at Piero 
Rosselli's suggestion they turned the river out of 
its course, and by means of cranes and levers 
brought it to land. The accident tempted many 



2 4 o STORIES FROM VASARI 

to write Tuscan and Latin verses satirising Baccio, 
who was much hated. One of them related how 
the marble, knowing the genius of Buonarroti, 
and fearing to be disfigured by Baccio's hands, 
had flung itself into the river in despair at such 
a fate. While the marble was being brought to 
land, Baccio measuring it found that he could 
not cut out of it the statue he had modelled. 
Going therefore to Rome he showed the Pope 
that he must give up his first model and make 
another. Having planned many, he at last made 
one that pleased the Pope, and returning to 
Florence, he found that the marble had been 
brought thither, and began therefore to work 
upon it. But in the year 1527 the Medici left 
Florence after the sack of Rome, and Baccio, not 
feeling himself secure in consequence of a private 
quarrel with a neighbour who was of the popular 
faction, went away to Lucca. The popular party 
thus ruling Florence, entrusted Michael Angelo 
with the fortifications of the city, and showed him 
the marble upon which Baccio had begun to work, 
proposing, if it were not too much spoilt, that he 
should take it and make two figures after his own 
manner. Michael Angelo considering it, deter- 
mined to give up the Hercules and make instead 
Samson with two Philistines, having killed one of 
them, and being about to slay the other with the 
jawbone of the ass. But the war being directed 



BACCIO BANDINELLI 241 

against the city of Florence, Michael Angelo 
had other things to think about than polishing 
marble, and was obliged to leave the city. 

When the war was over Pope Clement made 
Michael Angelo return to the sacristy of S. 
Lorenzo, and sent Baccio back to his giant. 
He, to show himself affectionately attached to 
his Holiness, wrote to him every week, not only 
about things of art, but entering into particulars 
about the citizens and those who administered 
the government. This behaviour brought down 
upon him more hatred than ever, and the citizens 
hindered his work as much as ever they could. 
But when Pope Clement and the emperor met 
at Bologna, Baccio went to kiss the Pope's feet, 
and told him of the hindrances and annoyances 
to which he was subjected, -and being terrible 
with his tongue, he persuaded the Pope to charge 
Duke Alessandro to take care that the work 
was brought to a conclusion. So he returned 
to Florence, and working at it continually, at 
last finished it. Duke Alessandro, in consequence 
of the ill-feeling of the citizens, did not care to 
have it set up, but the Pope interceding, it was 
with great labour brought to the piazza and 
set in its place. It would not be easy to describe 
the multitude that filled the piazza for two days, 
coming to see the giant directly he was uncovered ; 
and many different opinions were given, but all 



242 STORIES FROM VASARI 

finding fault with the work and the sculptor. 
Tuscan and Latin verses were affixed to the 
pedestal, but some of them going beyond any 
reasonable limit. Duke Alessandro, considering 
that the statue was a public monument, was 
forced to throw some of the writers into prison, 
which stopped people's mouths. Baccio, con- 
sidering his work, thought that in the open air 
the muscles seemed too weakly marked, so he 
set up a new scaffold and deepened the markings. 
But by those who are capable of judging, it has 
been always held to be well studied, and the 
figure of Cacus specially well managed. In truth 
Michael Angelo's David, standing near it, and 
being the most beautiful colossal statue that 
ever was made, deprives it of much of the 
praise it deserves ; but if one considers Baccio's 
Hercules by itself, it cannot but receive great 
commendation. 

Baccio, desiring to hear what people said of 
it, sent an old pedagogue whom he kept in the 
house into the piazza, bidding him report to 
him what he heard. He returned in quite a 
melancholy state to the house, having heard 
nothing but evil, and when Baccio questioned 
him, replied that all with one voice found fault 
with it, and that it did not please them. cc And 
you, what do you say of it?" said Baccio. 
"I speak well of it, and it pleases me." "I 



BACCIO BANDINELLI 243 

do not want it to please you/' said Baccio; 
" speak evil of it too, for, as you may remember, 
I never speak well of anybody, so we are quits." 
Thus he dissembled his vexation and, according 
to his custom, pretended not to care that people 
found fault with his works. Nevertheless his 
disappointment was really great, for when men 
labour hard for honour and only earn blame, 
although the blame may be unjust, the heart 
is secretly distressed and tormented by it. He 
was consoled by the gift of an estate from Pope 
Clement, which was doubly dear to him because 
it was close by his villa of Pinzerimonte and 
had belonged to Rignadori the rebel, his mortal 
enemy. 

After the death of Pope Clement he heard 
that the Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici, with three 
other of the cardinals and Baldassare Turini, 
were appointed executors in his will, and that 
they were to name the sculptors who were to 
make the statues of Leo and Clement. The 
work had been promised to Alfonso Lombardi 
by Cardinal de' Medici, but as he was going 
to meet Charles V. he died of poison. As soon 
as Baccio heard this he set off for Rome, and 
went to Madonna Lucrezia Salviata de' Medici, 
Pope Leo's sister, and sought to show her that 
no one could do greater honour to the memory 
of these pontiffs than himself, and that Alfonso 



244 STORIES FROM VASARI 

could not without the aid of others accomplish 
such an undertaking. He worked also by other 
means and in other ways, and succeeded in 
making them change their minds and entrust 
the statues and reliefs to him. He made there- 
fore two models, in which he showed either too 
little religion or too much adulation, or perhaps 
both, and when they were finished he took them 
to the garden of Cardinal Ridolfi, where the 
other cardinals and Baldassare were assembled. 
While they were at dinner II Solosmeo a sculptor 
arrived, a bold, witty man, who was fond of 
saying hard things of every one, and who was 
no friend of Baccio's. A message came in that II 
Solosmeo was asking leave to enter. Ridolfi 
bade them open to him, and then turning to 
Baccio said, "I should like to know what 
II Solosmeo says about the monuments ; lift the 
tapestry and go behind it." Baccio obeyed, and 
when II Solosmeo had come in and they had 
given him something to drink, they began upon 
the monuments that had been given to Baccio 
to make. II Solosmeo reproached the cardinals 
with the bad choice they had made, and began 
saying all kinds of evil of Baccio, accusing him 
of ignorance in art and arrogance and avarice. 
Baccio, hidden behind the tapestry, could not 
wait till II Solosmeo had done, but issuing forth 
in a rage cried out, " What have I done to you 



BACCIO BANDINELLI 245 

that you speak of me with so little respect?" 
At the sight of Baccio II Solosmeo became mute ; 
then turning to Ridolfi he said, " What deceivers 
these lords are! I will have no more to do 
with priests ; " and he went away. But the 
cardinals laughed heartily at both of them, and 
Salviati turning to Baccio said, " You hear what 
is the judgment of men of art ; see to it that 
by your work you give them the lie." 

Nevertheless Baccio took little pains with the 
work, and left it half finished; and having 
received all the money, left Rome and went to 
Florence to serve Duke Cosimo. And by little 
and little he grew into, such familiar favour with 
the duke that every one feared him. He per- 
suaded the duke to ask Michael Angelo for 
some marbles that he had in Florence, among 
which were some statues begun and one more 
advanced, and when the duke had obtained them 
and given them to Baccio, he cut them to pieces 
and ground them to powder, thinking thus 
to revenge himself and spite Michael Angelo. 
Baccio made for the duke the ornaments of his 
audience chamber, and many things for S. Maria 
del Fiore. 

In those days came Benvenuto Cellini from 
France, who had served the King Francis as a 
goldsmith, and he made for the duke a statue 
of Perseus and other things. But as the potter 



246 STORIES FROM VASARI 

always envies the potter, so the sculptor does 
the sculptor, and Baccio could not endure the 
favours that were shown to Benvenuto. He 
thought it was a strange thing that a goldsmith 
should suddenly become a sculptor, and one who 
was used to medals and little figures should 
undertake colossal statues. Nor could Baccio 
conceal his opinion, but betrayed it to every 
one, and he now found one ready to answer 
him ; for saying evil things of Benvenuto in 
the presence of the duke, Benvenuto, who was 
no less proud, gave him back what he received. 
The duke took pleasure in hearing them, for 
there was wit and acuteness in their satire, and 
he gave them free leave to say what they liked 
before him, but not abroad. However, one day 
Benvenuto, after many bitter things had been 
said, came up threatening and menacing Baccio, 
saying, "Prepare yourself for another world, 
for I will send you out of this ; " to which 
Baccio replied, "Let me know the day before, 
that I may confess and make my will, and not 
die like the beast you are." Upon this the 
duke imposed silence upon them, fearing some 
ill end to the matter. 

After that came Giorgio Vasari to do some 
work for his Excellency, and Baccio thought the 
duke had no more use for him because he em- 
ployed others; and in his grief and displeasure 



BACCIO BANDINELLI 247 

he became so strange and full of humours that 
no one could hold any converse with him ; even 
his son Clemente suffered many things from him, 
and went to Rome to escape from him, where the 
same year he died, a great loss to his father and 
to art, as Baccio found out when he was dead. 
He had left behind him a half-finished sculpture 
of the dead Christ supported by Nicodemus, and 
when Baccio heard that Michael Angelo was 
working upon the same subject in Rome, intend- 
ing to put it over his tomb in S. Maria Maggiore, 
he began to work upon his son's, and with the 
aid of others finished it. Then he went through 
all the principal churches in Florence seeking for 
a place in which to make his own tomb. And 
having by the intercession of the duchess, who 
was ever his friend, obtained a place in the 
church of the Servites, he removed thither the 
bones of his father. But whether it were from 
disturbance of mind, or from fatigue in moving 
the marble, he went to his house ill, and growing 
every day worse, died at the age of seventy-two, 
having been until then so robust that he had 
never known sickness. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

RUSTICI 

IT is a wonderful thing that all those who studied 
in the school of the Medici garden, and were 
favourites of the magnificent Lorenzo, became 
excellent masters. It could not have happened 
if this true Mecsenas of men of talent had not 
been a man of great judgment, able to recognise 
genius as well as to reward it. Giovan Francesco 
Rustici, having distinguished himself there, was 
placed by Lorenzo with Andrea del Verrocchio, 
with whom was the rarely gifted youth, Lionardo 
da Vinci. And Lionardo's manner greatly pleas- 
ing Rustici, when Andrea went away to work in 
Venice he joined himself to him, serving him 
with loving submission. Being of a noble family, 
he had enough to live upon, and gave himself to 
art for his pleasure and from desire of honour. 
To have to work indeed, as many have to do, to 
supply the need of the day, is not good for men 
who should be working for glory and honour, 
for good work does not come without long 

consideration. Rustici used to say in his mpre 

248 



RUSTICI 249 

mature years that you should first think over 
your subject, then make sketches, afterwards 
drawings, and then put them away for weeks and 
months and not look at them, after that choosing 
the best, set to work upon them, which no one 
can do who works for gain. 

When the Medici family returned to Florence, 
Rustici made himself known to Cardinal Giovanni 
as one who had been favoured by his father 
Lorenzo, and was received by him with many 
caresses. But the ways of the court did not 
please him, being contrary to his nature, which 
was quiet and sincere, and not full of envy and 
ambition. 

When he had gained some reputation, the 
consuls of the Guild of the Merchants entrusted 
to him the making of three bronze figures for 
the door of S. Giovanni, the subject being 
S. John preaching, with a Levite and Pharisee 
beside him. The work was greatly to his taste, 
being for a place so celebrated and important. 
He would have nobody near him when he worked 
but Lionardo da Vinci, who, while he was making 
the mould, and in fact until the statues were 
cast, did not leave him, so that many said (but 
they did not really know), that Lionardo worked 
at them himself, or at least aided him with his 
counsel. While he was working upon them 
Rustici, not liking the annoyance of having to 



250 STORIES FROM VASARI 

ask the consuls or their servants for money, sold 
a farm which he had outside Florence. But 
after all the expense and trouble, he was badly 
remunerated by the consuls and the citizens. 
For one of the Ridolfi, out of private spite, 
or perhaps because Rustici had not shown him 
enough honour, nor let him see the figures before 
they were finished, was always against him. And 
when his work was to be valued, Rustici having 
called Michael Angelo Buonarroti to act for him, 
at the persuasion of Ridolfi, Baccio d'Agnolo was 
named for the other side. At this Rustici was 
much grieved, saying before them all that it was 
strange that a wood carver should have to value 
the labours of a statuary, and almost told the 
magistrates they were a herd of oxen, to which 
Ridolfi answered that Rustici was a proud, 
arrogant man. But what was worse, the work, 
which was well worth two thousand crowns, was 
only estimated at five hundred, and this was 
never entirely paid, but only four hundred, 
through the intercession of Cardinal Giulio de* 
Medici. Rustici therefore, almost in despair, 
resolved never to work for the public again, nor 
to undertake anything where the matter would 
depend upon more than one man. 

So he withdrew into private, and lived a 
solitary life, only working for pastime and not 
to be idle. He used to go and stroll about out- 



RUSTICI 251 

side the city, taking off his long robe and carry- 
ing it over his shoulder ; and once, finding it hot, 
he hid it in a wood among some bushes, and 
going on to the palace of the Salviati, stayed 
there two days before he remembered it. Then 
sending one of his men to seek for it, when he 
saw he had found it, he exclaimed, " The world 
is too good ; it will not last long." He was a 
man of great kindness and very good to the poor, 
and would never let any one go away without 
assistance, but keeping his money in a basket, 
whether he had little or much, he gave to those 
who asked. A poor man, therefore, who often 
went to him for alms, seeing him always go to 
the basket, said, not thinking to be heard, " Oh, 
if I only had what is in that basket, my difficulties 
would soon be over." Rustici heard him, and 
looking at him fixedly said, " Come here, I will 
content you," and he emptied the basket into a 
corner of his cloak. Niccoli Buoni, a great 
friend of his, managed all his matters for him, 
and gave him so much money every week. 
There never was a man who delighted- more in 
animals. He had a porcupine which was so 
tame that it went about under the table like a 
dog, and used to rub itself against people's' legs 
and make them draw back very quickly. He 
had an eagle, and a crow who could say many 
things as clearly as a human being. He also 



252 STORIES FROM VASARI 

gave himself to necromancy, and by the things 
he did caused great terror to, his pupils and 
acquaintances. He had walled up a place like a 
fishpond, and in this he kept a great many snakes 
and worms, which could not get out, and he used 
to take great pleasure in standing watching their 
mad gambols. 

There used to assemble in his rooms a number 
of good fellows called the Company of the 
Saucepan, which was limited to twelve members, 
and each one of the twelve might bring four 
and no more to their suppers. And each one 
was bound to bring something to the supper 
made with skill and invention, and when he 
came he presented it to the master of the feast, 
who handed it on to any one he liked. One 
evening when Rustici was giving a supper to 
his Company of the Saucepan, he ordered that, 
instead of a table, a great kettle or saucepan 
should be made out of a wine vat, and they all 
sat inside it, and it was lighted from the handle 
which was over their heads. And when they 
were all comfortably settled, there rose up in 
the middle a tree with many branches bearing 
the supper, that is, the food on plates. And 
then it descended again and brought up a second 
course, and afterwards a third, and so on, while 
there were servants going round with precious 
wines and musicians playing below. This was 



RUSTICI 253 

greatly praised by the men of the Company. 
Rustici's dish that time was a cauldron made of 
pastry, in which Ulysses was dipping his father 
to make him young again. The two figures 
were capons with their limbs arranged to make 
them look like men. Andrea del Sarto, who 
was one of the Company, presented a temple 
with eight sides, like S. Giovanni, but resting 
on columns. The pavement was of gelatine, 
like different-coloured mosaics ; the pillars, which 
looked like porphyry, were great sausages, the 
base and capitals of Parmesan cheese, the cornices 
of sugar, and the tribunes of marchpane. In the 
middle was placed the choir desk of cold veal, 
with a book of macaroni paste, having the letters 
and notes for singing made with peppercorns, 
and those who were singing were thrushes with 
their beaks open and wearing little surplices, 
and behind these for the bassi were two fat 
pigeons, with six ortolans for the soprani. Spillo, 
another member, brought the model of a smith, 
made of a great goose, or some such bird, with 
all the tools for mending the saucepan if it were 
necessary. Domenico Puligo brought a roast 
pig, made to represent a girl with her distaff 
by her side watching a brood of chickens. The 
other things represented were also very good, 
but we cannot tell them one by one. 

There was also the Company of the Trowel 



254 STORIES FROM VASARI 

to which Giovan Francesco belonged, and which 
began in this way. A supper was being given 
by Feo d'Agnolo, a humpbacked piper and a 
very amusing fellow, in his garden in the Cam- 
paccio, and while they were eating their ricotta, 
II Baja, one of the guests, noticed a little heap 
of mortar, with a trowel lying by it, as a mason 
had left it the day before. Taking a little of 
the mortar on the trowel, he popped it into 
Feo's mouth, which happened to be opening for 
a great mouthful of ricotta, upon which all the 
company cried aloud, " A trowel ! a trowel ! " 
Out of this incident the Company was formed, 
which was to contain twenty-four members, the 
sign of which was a trowel (cazzuola\ to which 
they added those little black vessels with a large 
body and a tail which are also called cazzuote. 
Their patron saint was S. Andrew, and they 
celebrated his feast day with a solemn supper. 
Before many years had passed it grew into 
such reputation that Giuliano de' Medici and 
many other important people joined it. Their 
feasts were innumerable. On one occasion, 
under the direction of Bugiardino and Rustic!, 
they all appeared in the dress of masons and 
labourers, and set to work to build an edifice 
for the Company with ricotta for mortar, cheese 
for sand. The bricks, carried in baskets and 
barrows, were loaves of bread and cakes. But 



RUSTICI 255 

their building being pronounced badly done, it 
was condemned to be pulled down, upon which 
they threw themselves upon the materials and 
devoured them all. At the end, when it was 
time to break up, there came a cleverly managed 
shower of rain with much thunder, which forced 
them to leave off work and return home. 

Another time Ceres seeking Proserpine came 
to the members of the Company and prayed 
them to accompany her to the lower regions. 
Descending, they found Pluto, who refused to 
give her up, but invited them to his wedding 
feast, where all the provisions were in the form 
of horrid and disgusting animals, snakes, spiders, 
frogs, and scorpions, and such creatures, which 
being opened contained food of the most delicate 
kinds. 

Another time the master of the feast, intend- 
ing to reprove some who had spent too much 
on the banquets of the Company, eating them- 
selves alive, as the expression is, arranged his 
banquet in this way. At the place where they 
were used to meet, he caused to be painted on 
the fa9ade such figures as are usually seen 
represented on the outside of an almshouse 
or hospital, the master receiving the poor and 
strangers, and this picture was uncovered just 
as the members arrived. They were received 
in a large room like the wards of a hospital, 



256 STORIES FROM VASARI 

with beds on each side, and in the middle of 
the room near a great fire were some of the 
members dressed like beggars, who taking no 
notice of the others coming in, carried on a con- 
versation about the Company and themselves, 
abusing them for throwing away more than was 
right in feasts and suppers. And when all the 
guests were come, S. Andrew, their patron, came 
in, and delivering them from the poor-house, led 
them to another room magnificently prepared, 
where they sat down to supper and feasted 
gaily, after which their saint commanded them 
to content themselves with one feast a year, and 
so save themselves from the poor-house. And 
this command they obeyed, having one magnifi- 
cent feast only, with a dramatic representation. 

But to return to the life of Rustici. After 
the Medici were driven out in 1528, not finding 
life at Florence to his taste, he went to France, 
and was received by King Francis with great 
favour, and received a provision of five hundred 
crowns a year. But when King Francis died and 
Henry began his reign, the expenses of the court 
being curtailed, his pension was taken from him, 
and he, being now old, was reduced to living on 
the rent of a palace which Francis I. had given 
him. But fortune inflicted another blow upon 
him, for King Henry presented this palace to 
Signer Piero Strozzi, and Rustici found himself 



RUSTICI 257 

in extreme need. But Strozzi, hearing of his ill 
fortune, came to his aid and sent him to an 
abbey, or some such place, which belonged to his 
brother, where he was taken care of to the end 
of his life. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

SALVIATI 

IN the year 1523 Silvio Passerini, Cardinal of 
Cortona, passed through Arezzo, and Antonio 
Vasari, being a kinsman of his, went to pay his 
respects to him, taking his eldest son Giorgio 
with him. The cardinal, finding that the child, 
who was only nine years old, had been already 
introduced to the study of letters, and that he 
knew a great part of Virgil by heart, and that he 
had learnt drawing from a French painter, desired 
that Antonio Vasari should take his child to 
Florence. There he placed him in the house of 
Niccol6 Vespucci, a knight of Rhodes, who dwelt 
near the Ponte Vecchio, and sent him to study 
under Michael Angelo Buonarroti. At this time 
Francesco was living in the lane by Messer Bivi- 
gliano's house with his father, a velvet weaver; 
and as every creature loves its like, he made 
friends with Giorgio through M. Marco da Lodi. 
He had shown Giorgio a portrait painted by this 
Francesco, who had just been placed with the 

painter Giuliano Bugiardini, which pleased him 

258 



SALVIATI 259 

greatly. Vasari had not then given up the study 
of letters, but by the cardinal's orders was work- 
ing for two hours every day with Ippolito and 
Alessandro de' Medici, under their master II 
Pierio. The friendship then contracted between 
Vasari and Francesco has always lasted between 
them, though from a certain haughty way of 
speaking which Francesco had, and from their 
competing against each other, some have thought 
otherwise. Vasari, having been some months 
with Michael Angelo, was placed by him with 
Andrea del Sarto when he had to go to Rome ; 
and then Giorgio used secretly to convey his 
master's drawings to Francesco, who had no 
greater desire than to study them day and night. 
Afterwards also, when Giorgio was placed by the 
magnificent Ippolito with Baccio Bandinelli, who 
was glad to have the boy, he would not rest till 
he had got Francesco there too, to the great 
profit of both, for learning and working together, 
they made more progress in a month than they 
would have done otherwise in two years. 

When the Medici were driven out in 1527, 
during the fighting round the palace of the 
Signoria, a bench was thrown down upon those 
who were fighting round the gate, but, as fortune 
would have it, it struck the arm of Buonarroti's 
David, and broke it into three pieces. And when 
the pieces had lain on the ground for three days 



260 STORIES FROM VASARI 

without any one touching them, Francesco went 
to the Ponte Vecchio and sought out Giorgio, 
and the two boys together went to the piazza; 
and going among the soldiers on guard, without 
considering the danger, they picked up the pieces 
and carried them to the house of Francesco's 
father, where afterwards Duke Cosimo found them 
and had them repaired with copper rivets. 

The Medici being thus banished, and with 
them the Cardinal of Cortona, Antonio Vasari 
took his son back to Arezzo, to the no small 
grief both of himself and of Francesco, for they 
loved each other like brothers. But they were 
not long separated, for the next August Giorgio 
lost his father and others of his family by the 
plague, and being urged by letters from Fran- 
cesco, who had himself nearly died of it, he 
returned to Florence, and they worked together 
for two years with such incredible earnestness 
that they made marvellous progress. Afterwards 
Francesco went to be with Andrea del Sarto, and 
was there during the siege, suffering such hard- 
ships that he repented he had not gone with 
Giorgio, who was staying that year at Pisa. 

Not long afterwards Benvenuto dalla Volpaia, 
the clockmaker, being in Rome, was asked by 
Cardinal Salviati to tell him of a young painter 
to live with him and paint for him, and Ben- 
venuto proposed Francesco. The cardinal, being 



SALVIATI 261 

pleased with his description of him, gave him 
money for his journey ; and so Francesco went to 
Rome, where his manners pleasing the cardinal, 
he ordered that rooms should be given him and 
four crowns a month, and a place at his gentle- 
men's table. Francesco, being in Rome, had no 
greater desire than to see his friend Giorgio 
Vasari in that city, and fortune was favourable 
to him, and still more to Vasari ; for Cardinal 
Ippolito, passing through Arezzo, found Giorgio, 
who had lost his father and was getting on as 
best he could, and gave orders that he should 
go to Rome. As soon as Giorgio arrived there 
he went at once to Francesco, who told him 
joyfully in what high favour he was with the 
cardinal his master, and that he was in a place 
where he could satisfy every desire for study, 
adding, " I am not only enjoying myself now, but 
I hope for better things still, for besides having 
you here in Rome to talk with over matters of 
art, I am hoping to get into the service of Car- 
dinal Ippolito de' Medici, from whose liberality 
and the favour of the Pope I may expect more 
than I have at present, and I shall be a made 
man, if a youth who is expected does not come." 
Giorgio knew that the youth who was expected 
was himself, and that the place was kept for him, 
but he would not say anything, thinking it pos- 
sible that the cardinal might have some one else 



262 STORIES FROM VASARI 

in his mind. At length they went to the palace, 
and Giorgio was received kindly by the cardinal, 
and orders were given that rooms should be pre- 
pared for him, and a place at the page's table. 
Francesco thought it strange that Giorgio had 
not confided the matter to him, but concluded 
he had done it for good reasons, and all that 
winter they studied together, leaving nothing 
noteworthy in Rome which they did not draw. 
And because they could not draw when the Pope 
was in the palace, as soon as he had ridden forth 
to his villa of the Magliana, they went into the 
rooms and stayed there from morning to night 
without eating anything but a little bread, and 
sometimes chilled with cold. But in the July 
of the next year Giorgio, from the hardships of 
the winter and the heat of the summer, fell ill 
and was carried in a litter to Arezzo, to the great 
grief of Francesco, who also was taken ill and 
nearly died. He recovered, however, and was 
entrusted with some work in S. Maria della Pace, 
and considering that it was not only for a public 
place, but also in a church where were pictures 
by the greatest men, Raffaello and others, he put 
his whole powers into the work, and succeeded 
very well. As Francesco was living with Car- 
dinal Salviati, and was known as his dependant, 
he began to be called Cecchino Salviati, which 
name he bore till his death. 



SALVIATI 263 

In the year 1536 great and sumptuous pre- 
parations were made for the coming of Charles 
V., and all the artists good and bad were em- 
ployed under the direction of Antonio da San 
Gallo. Francesco was charged with some pictures 
in chiaroscuro, which were placed on the Arch 
of San Marco, and which were the best in the 
decorations. At the same time there was paint- 
ing there a Venetian, Battista Franco, who had 
given much time to drawing, studying only the 
drawings, pictures, and sculptures of Michael 
Angelo. If, however, he had learnt earlier to 
paint, and had studied the management of colours, 
he would have excelled. But remaining obsti- 
nately of the opinion, which many hold, that 
drawing is enough for a painter, he did himself 
great harm. When Salviati afterwards was em- 
ployed by the Company of the Misericordia, 
Battista sought to be employed there also, think- 
ing to show himself greater than Francesco, and 
the best master in Rome. But although he 
carried out the picture with great labour and 
pains, it was a long way from being equal to 
Salviati's, being in a crude, melancholy manner, 
and without the grace and pleasant colouring 
that Francesco's had. 

Afterwards entering the service of Duke Giu- 
dobaldo of Urbino, Battista was employed in 
making designs for the pottery works at Castel 



264 STORIES FROM VASARI 

Durante, where they made great use of engrav- 
ings from the works of Raffaello and others. 
This porcelain, as far as the quality of the clay 
goes, resembles much what used to be made in 
old days in Arezzo, in the time of Porsena, King 
of Tuscany. But the Romans had not this sort 
of painting on their vases, as far as we can tell. 
For the vases which are found from those days 
containing the ashes of the dead, and others be- 
sides, have figures outlined on one colour only, 
black or red or white, but never with a vitreous 
lustre, nor with those pleasant pictures which we 
see in our time. Nor can it be said that the 
colours were once there, but that they have been 
destroyed by time or by being buried in the 
earth ; for we see that ours can resist time and 
everything, and they might be buried for four 
thousand years under the ground and the pictures 
would not be spoilt. But although vases and 
painted china are made all over Italy, the best 
and most beautiful are those which are made at 
Castel Durante, a place in the State of Urbino, 
and those of Faenza, wjiich are for the most 
part very white, with the design in the centre or 
round the border, very pleasantly and gracefully 
drawn. 

But to return to Francesco Salviati. He was 
called upon now for many other pictures, which 
he showed Giorgio when he went to Rome for 



SALVIATI 265 

two months, after the death of Duke Alessand.ro. 
And he told him that when he had finished some 
pictures upon which he was employed he meant 
to return to Florence, that he might see his 
native city and his friends, for his father and 
mother were still living. He had always assisted 
them greatly, especially in settling his sisters, one 
of whom was married, and the other a nun in 
the convent of Monte Domini. He came there- 
fore to Florence, and was received with great 
joy by his relatives and friends ; and coming just 
at the time of the wedding of Duke Cosimo, one 
of the pictures to be painted for the occasion 
was entrusted to him. He undertook it gladly, 
but before it was finished went away to Venice, 
leaving it to another to complete. He was 
afterwards urged to return, as being certain to 
be employed by Duke Cosimo, who had no good 
masters round him ; so being persuaded, he came 
and obtained permission to paint a hall of the 
ducal palace, desiring no payment, but only 
leave to paint there. He put forth his utmost 
efforts in this work, desiring to leave a worthy 
memorial of himself in his native place. But 
he had many vexatious hindrances. He was of 
a melancholy nature, and did not care to have 
people round him when he was working ; but at 
first, doing violence to his feelings, he allowed 
his friends to see him work. When, however, he 



266 STORIES FROM VASARI 

found himself growing in favour with the court, 
he returned to his old choleric and satirical ways, 
and, what was worse, found fault with the works 
of others, and exalted his own to the skies. By 
this means he earned for himself such hatred 
that his former friends became his enemies, and 
did all they could to hinder him ; and by their 
malice and envy he was reduced to such a state 
that he wanted to leave the place altogether. 
His friends outside Florence, however, com- 
forted him, and Giorgio Vasari, replying to a 
letter that Salviati wrote to him, desired him 
to have patience. So, in spite of all his per- 
secutions, poor Francesco finished the hall, and 
produced other works for the duke. 

In 1554 Andrea Tassini was charged to send 
a painter to the King of France, and having 
asked Giorgio Vasari in vain (for he replied he 
would not leave the service of Duke Cosimo for 
any money), he agreed with Francesco. Before 
he left for France he sold all he had, thinking 
he should never return. But as soon as he 
arrived in Paris he was discovered to be a strange 
kind of man, and, from whatever cause, his works 
were not much applauded. Neither was he him- 
self much liked by the men of that country, for 
just as much as they like cheerful and jovial men 
who are fond of company and banquets, so are 
men like Francesco, who are melancholy, sober, 



SALVIATI 267 

and morose, I will not say avoided, but less loved 
and caressed. And although his constitution did 
not allow him to eat and drink too much, he 
might have been more pleasant in conversation. 
Finding the king therefore occupied in war, he 
determined to return to Italy, and coming to 
Florence, told Vasari he had done well in refusing 
to go to France, relating such things as would 
have checked any one's desire to go there. From 
Florence he went to Rome, and sought to have 
a share in the painting of the Hall of the Kings, 
which had been entrusted to Danielle da Volterra, 
and the matter was long in dispute between them, 
Michael Angelo favouring Daniello ; but Vasari, 
loving the man, recommended him to Duke 
Cosimo, who did him so much service with the 
Pope that half the hall was entrusted to him. 
He set to work therefore, but first of all threw 
down a picture begun by Daniello, and paid no 
attention to Pirro Ligorio the architect, who had 
been his friend. Pirro therefore, becoming in 
some sort his enemy, proposed to the Pope to 
employ many young men in the hall, which 
when Francesco heard, and saw that the Pope was 
favourable to his proposal, he mounted his horse 
and rode away to Florence, where he established 
himself at an inn, as if he had had no friends and 
had not been a native of the place at all. Vasari 
therefore advised him to sell his things in Rome 



268 STORIES FROM VASARI 

and settle at Florence. He, however, moved 
by anger and the desire of revenge, returned to 
Rome ; but, afflicted in mind and of an unhealthy 
constitution, which he had weakened by con- 
stantly doctoring himself, he fell sick of a mortal 
disease, which brought him to his end. 



CHAPTER XXV 

TITIAN 

TITIAN was born in the little town of Cadore, 
on the Piave, five miles from the Alps. He 
sprang from the family of the Vecelli, one of the 
most noble of those parts ; and when he reached 
the age of ten years, showing a fine spirit and 
quickness of mind, he was sent to Venice to the 
house of one of his uncles, an honoured citizen. 
He, seeing that the boy was much inclined to 
painting, put him with the famous painter Gian 
Bellini, under whose discipline he studied draw- 
ing, and showed himself in a short time to be 
endowed by nature with all that was necessary 
for the art of painting. Gian Bellini and the 
other painters of that country, having no know- 
ledge of ancient art, were accustomed mostly, in 
fact entirely, to draw from life, though in a dry, 
crude manner, Titian therefore learnt in this 
way. But when Giorgione da Castelfranco came, 
the manner of working did not altogether please 
him, and he began to give his works more soft- 
ness and greater relief, following nature indeed, 

269 



270 STORIES FROM VASARI 

and imitating her as well as he could in colour, 
but not making any drawing, holding firmly that 
painting in colours without studying the drawing 
in a cartoon was the true and best way of work- 
ing. Titian then, seeing Giorgione's method, left 
Gian Bellini's manner and adopted the new way, 
imitating it so well that his pictures were mis- 
taken for works of Giorgione. And when Gior- 
gione was employed upon the fafade of the 
German Exchange a part was given to Titian. 
Some gentlemen, not knowing that Giorgione 
had ceased to work there, and that Titian was 
employed upon it, meeting Giorgione one day, 
began to congratulate him, saying he was doing 
better on this facade than he had done on that 
one on the Grand Canal. And this vexed Gior- 
gione so much that until the work was finished, 
and it was known that Titian had done that 
part, he would not be seen, and from that time 
he would not let Titian work with him or be 
his friend. 

In the year 1508 Titian published a woodcut 
of his Triumph of the Faith. And I remem- 
ber Fra Sebastiano del Piombo talking to me 
about it, and saying that if Titian had been to 
Rome, and had seen Michael Angelo's work, 
and Raffaello's, and the ancient statues, and had 
studied drawing, he would have done astonishing 
things, because he had such' a fine method of 



TITIAN 271 

colouring, and deserved the praise of being the 
best imitator of nature in the matter of colour 
of our time. 

Giovanni Bellini left unfinished at his death 
the picture, in the hall of the Great Council, 
of Frederic Barbarossa kneeling before Pope 
Alexander III. Titian completed it, altering 
many things, and introducing many portraits of 
his friends and others. For this he obtained from 
the Signory an office which is called the Senseria, 
which brings in three hundred crowns a year. 
This office has usually been given to the best 
painter of that city, with the duty of painting 
from time to time their prince or Doge, at the 
price of eight crowns only, paid them by this 
prince, and this portrait is afterwards placed in 
his memory in the palace of S. Mark's. 

The Duke Alfonso of Ferrara had engaged 
Giovanni Bellini to paint a picture for a room 
in his palace, but he had been unable to complete 
it on account of his age, and, Titian therefore 
was summoned to finish it, and for this prince 
he painted several things, and was liberally re- 
warded by him. At this time he formed a 
friendship with the divine Ludovico Ariosto, 
who celebrated him in his " Orlando Furioso." 

After his return to Venice he painted many 
pictures for the churches, and among others for 
the church of S. Rocco he painted Christ bearing 



272 STORIES FROM VASARI 

the Cross. This, which many have supposed to 
be from Giorgione's hand, has become the chief 
object of devotion in Venice, and has received 
in alms more crowns than Titian and Giorgione 
earned in their whole life. Bembo, who was 
then secretary to Pope Leo X., pressed him to 
come to see Rome, Raffaello, and others; but 
Titian went on putting it off from day to day 
until Leo and Raffaello both were dead. 

When Pietro Aretino, before the sack of Rome, 
came to stay in Venice, he formed a great friend- 
ship with Titian, which was very useful to him, 
for he made him known as far as his pen could 
reach, and to princes of importance. 

But to return to Titian's works. For the 
church of S. Giovanni and S. Paolo he painted 
an altarpiece representing S. Peter Martyr in a 
wood of high trees, struck down by a fierce 
soldier, who has wounded him in the head, and 
as he lies but half alive you can see in his face 
the horror of death, while another friar fleeing 
shows signs of fear. In the sky are two angels 
coming in the light of heaven, which lights up 
a beautiful landscape. The work is the most 
finished one that Titian ever did. 

When the emperor Charles V. was in Bologna, 
Titian, at the suggestion of Pietro Aretino, was 
summoned by Cardinal Ippolito de 7 Medici to 
the palace, and painted a very fine portrait of 



TITIAN 273 

his Majesty in full armour. Alfonso Lombard! 
had a great desire to portray him also, and having 
no other way of accomplishing it, he begged 
Titian to take him in the place of one of the 
men who carried the colours, not telling him 
what he was intending to do. Titian, like the 
courteous man he always showed himself, agreed, 
and took him with him into the emperor's room. 
Then, afc soon as Titian had set to work, Alfonso 
placed himself where he could not be seen by 
him, and taking out a little box, he modelled in 
gypsum a portrait medallion of the emperor, and 
had just brought it to completion when Titian 
had finished his portrait. When at last the 
emperor rose, Alfonso closed the box, and was 
hiding it in his sleeve that Titian might not see 
it, when his Majesty said to him, "Show me 
what you have done ; " and he was obliged to 
put it into his hand. The emperor, having con- 
sidered it and praised it much, said, " Have you 
the courage to do it in marble?" "Yes, your 
sacred Majesty," answered Alfonso. "Do it 
then," replied the emperor, " and bring it to me 
at Genoa." Any one can imagine how strange 
this seemed to Titian. I fancy he thought he 
had compromised himself. But what must have 
seemed most strange to him was that his Majesty, 
sending him one thousand crowns, bade him give 
half to Alfonso and keep the other five hundred 



274 STORIES FROM VASARI 

himself. Alfonso, applying himself with the 
utmost diligence, completed the head so success- 
fully that it was pronounced a very rare piece of 
work, and when he brought it to the emperor, 
his Majesty gave him another three hundred 
crowns. 

In the year 1546 he was called by Cardinal 
Farnese to Rome, where he found Vasari em- 
ployed in the hall of the cardinal, and Titian 
being recommended to his care, he took him 
about to see Rome. And after he had rested 
some days, rooms were given him in the Belve- 
dere that he might paint the Pope Paul IIL, 
Cardinal Farnese, and Duke Ottavio, which he 
completed to their great satisfaction. After- 
wards he painted an Ecce Homo to present to 
the Pope ; but whatever the' cause might be, it 
did not appear to painters equal to his other 
paintings, especially his portraits. 

One day Michael Angelo and Vasari went 
together to see Titian in the Belvedere, and he 
showed them a picture he had just painted of 
Danae in the shower of gold, and they praised 
it much. After they had left him, talking over 
Titian's work, Buonarroti commended him greatly, 
saying that his colour pleased him, but that it 
was a mistake that at Venice they did not learn 
first of all to draw well, for if this man, he 
said, were assisted by art as he is by nature, 



. TITIAN 275 

especially in imitating life, it would not be pos- 
sible to surpass him, for he has the finest talent 
and a very pleasant, vivacious manner. 

Titian left Rome at length, having received 
many gifts, particularly a benefice with good 
revenues for his son Pomponio. Coming to 
Florence, he saw the rare things in that city, and 
was no less astonished than he had been at Rome, 
and so returned to Venice. 

But because his works are infinite, especially 
his portraits, it is impossible to mention them 
all. So to speak only of the most remarkable 
without order of time. He painted Charles V. 
many times, and was at last called to his court 
that he might paint him as he was almost in his 
last years ; and so much did he please that in- 
vincible emperor that he would never afterwards 
be painted by any other painter, and every time 
Titian painted him he had a donative of one 
thousand crowns of gold. His Majesty also 
made him a knight, with a provision of two 
hundred crowns from the treasury of Naples. 
When he painted the portraits of Philip, King of 
Spain, and his son Carlos, he received from him 
a settled provision of two hundred crowns; so 
that, adding these four hundred to the three 
hundred that he had from the Venetian Signory, 
he received seven hundred crowns a year, without 
any labour for it. He painted Ferdinand, King 



276 STORIES FROM VASARI 

of the Romans, and his sons, and the Queen 
Maria. But what is the use of losing time in 
enumerating his portraits? There is no lord of 
note or prince or great lady who has not been 
painted by Titian ; and besides, at different times, 
he produced many other works. 

It is true that his way of working in his last 
pictures is very different from that of his youth. 
For his first works were finished with great dili- 
gence, and might be looked at near or far, but 
the last are worked with great patches of colour, 
so that they cannot be seen near, but at a distance 
they look perfect. This is the reason that many 
think they are done without any trouble, but 
this is not true. And this way of working is 
most judicious, for it makes the pictures seem 
living. 

All these works, with a great many others, 
which cannot be mentioned lest I should become 
tedious, he has completed, having now reached 
the age of seventy-six. He has been most 
healthy, and as fortunate as any one has ever 
been. In his house at Venice he has received 
all the princes, and learned and famous men, 
who have come to Venice ; for besides his ex- 
cellence in art, his manners have been most 
pleasant and courteous. He has had some rivals, 
but not very dangerous ones. He has earned 
much, for his works have always been well paid ; 



TITIAN 277 

but it would be well for him, in these his last 
years, to work only for pastime, lest he diminish 
his reputation. 

When the present writer was in Venice in 
1566, he went to visit Titian, and found him, 
old as he was, with his brush in his hand paint- 
ing, and he found great pleasure in seeing his 
works and talking with him. 

Thus Titian having adorned Venice, or rather 
Italy, and indeed other parts of the world, with the 
finest pictures, deserves to be loved and studied by 
artists, and in many things imitated, for he has 
done works worthy of infinite praise, which will 
last as long as illustrious men are remembered. 



CHAPTER XXVI 

MICHAEL ANGELO 

IN 1474, under a lucky star, was born a son to 
Lodovico di Lionardo Buonarroti Simoni, de- 
scended, it is said, from the ancient and noble 
family of the Counts of Canossa. This Lodovico 
was Podesti that year of Chiusi and Caprese, 
near Vernia, where S. Francis Deceived the stig- 
mata, and, as I have said, there was born to him 
on Sunday the 6th of March, in the eighth hour 
of the night, a son, to whom he gave the name 
of Michael Angelo, perceiving that he was some- 
thing greater than usual, Mercury and Venus 
at his birth being in the second house of Jove, 
which demonstrated that he would produce mar- 
vellous and stupendous works of art and genius. 
Lodovico, his time of office being finished, re- 
turned to Florence to Settignano, three miles 
from the city, where he had a small estate. The 
place was rich in a hard stone, which was con- 
stantly being worked by stonecutters, mostly 
born in the place, and the wife of one of these 
stonecutters was made nurse to Michael Angelo. 
Speaking of this once to Vasari, Michael Angelo 



MICHAEL ANGELO 279 

said jestingly, " Giorgio, if I have anything of 
genius, it came to me from being born in the 
subtle air of your country of Arezzo, while from 
my nurse I got the chisel and hammer with which 
I make my figures." 

As in time many sons were born to Lodovico, 
and his revenues were small, he set them to the 
woollen and silk trades, Michael Angelo, who was 
already growing up, being placed at school with 
Master Francesco da Urbino. But his inclination 
to the arts of design being strong, he spent all 
his time in drawing, as far as he could do so 
secretly, for he was often scolded by his father 
and those who were over him, and sometimes 
beaten for it, they supposing, perhaps, that it 
was a low thing, and unworthy of his ancient 
house. At that time Michael Angelo made 
friends with Francesco Granacci, who, being 
then a youth, had been placed with Domenico 
del Ghirlandajo to learn painting ; and Granacci 
loving Michael Angelo, and seeing him clever 
at drawing, used to give him every day drawings 
of Ghirlandajo's, who was esteemed not only in 
Florence but through all Italy as one of the best 
masters then living. By this means the desire 
grew stronger every day in Michael Angelo, and 
Lodovico, seeing there was no help for it, by 
the advice of his friends determined to put him 
with Ghirlandajo. 



280 STORIES FROM VASARI 

Michael Angelo was at this time fourteen 
years old, and he made such progress that he 
astonished Domenico, who saw that he not only 
surpassed his other pupils, of whom he had a 
great number, but often equalled the things he 
did himself. It happened once that one of the 
boys who was learning there had copied with a pen 
some women out of one of Ghirlandajo's works, 
and Michael Angelo, taking the paper, with a 
thicker pen outlined one of the women again, 
as she should have been drawn; and it is a 
wonderful thing to see the difference, and con- 
sider the courage of the youth who was daring 
enough to correct his master's things. I have 
this drawing still, as a relic, having received it 
from Granaccio; and in the year 1550, when he 
was in Rome, Giorgio showed it to Michael 
Angelo, who recognised it and was glad to see 
it, saying modestly that he knew more of the 
art when he was a boy than now he was old. 

At that time the magnificent Lorenzo de' 
Medici had filled his garden on the Piazza of 
S. Marco with ancient and good sculpture, so 
that the terraces and alleys were adorned with 
good antique figures in marble, and with pictures 
and other things by the best masters in Italy and - 
elsewhere. And not only were they a great orna- 
ment to the garden, but they became a school 
and academy for young painters and sculptors, 



MICHAEL ANGELO 281 

particularly for young nobles ; for Lorenzo held 
that those who are born of noble blood can 
more easily attain perfection in anything than 
those who come of low birth. Lorenzo there- 
fore always favoured men of talent, but parti- 
cularly nobles who had any inclination to art ; 
so it is no wonder that some came forth from 
that school to astound the world. Besides this, 
he not only provided food and clothing for those 
who being poor could not afford time for study, 
but he also offered rewards for those who excelled 
in anything, that the youths by competing to- 
gether might become more perfect. The head 
of this academy was Bertoldo, an old Floren- 
tine sculptor and a pupil of Donatello's. He 
taught the youths, and at the same time had 
the care of the things in the garden, and many 
drawings, cartoons, and models from the hand of 
Donatello, Brunellesco, Masaccio, Paolo Uccello, 
Fra Giovanni, and other masters native and 
foreign. And, indeed, these arts cannot be 
learned except by long study and by copying 
good works, and he who has not the opportunity, 
although he may be greatly endowed by nature, 
will be long in attaining perfection. 

Lorenzo, therefore, lamenting that there were 
no great sculptors in his time, though there 
were many painters of the greatest fame, asked 
Domenico Ghirlandajo if he had in his workshop 



282 STORIES FROM VASARI 

any youths who were inclined to sculpture, to 
send them to his garden. Now Domenico held 
Michael Angelo and Francesco Granacci to be 
the best of his pupils. So these two going to 
the garden, found young Torrigiano there work- 
ing upon some figures in clay as Bertoldo had 
directed him. This Torrigiano was by nature 
very proud and choleric, and being robust and 
fierce and courageous, he domineered over all the 
others. His principal occupation was sculpture, 
but he also worked in clay in a very beautiful 
manner. He could not endure, however, that 
any one should ever surpass him, and would 
with his own hands injure any work of another 
which he could not equal; and if the other 
resented it, they often came to something more 
than words about it. He took a particular dis- 
like to Michael Angelo, for no other reason 
than because he saw that he worked studiously, 
and knew that he drew at home secretly at night 
and on feast days, by which means he surpassed 
all the others in the garden, and was much in 
favour with the great Lorenzo. Therefore, 
moved by envy, he was always seeking to offend 
him in word or deed, and having one day come 
to blows, Torrigiano gave Michael Angelo such 
a blow with his fist on his nose that he broke 
it, and Michael Angelo bore the mark of it as 
long as he lived. The thing having come to 



MICHAEL ANGELO 283 

the ears of Lorenzo, he was so angry that if 
Torrigiano had not fled from Florence he would 
have been severely punished. He fled to Rome, 
and was employed by Alexander VI. in the 
building of the Borgia tower, but being led 
astray by some Florentine youths, he turned 
soldier, and joining the Duke Valentino, bore 
himself valiantly in the war in Romagna. He 
was afterwards in the war of Pisa, and was with 
Pietro de' Medici in the deed of arms on the 
Garigliano, where he obtained a pair of colours 
and earned the name of the brave standard-bearer. 
But finding he was never likely to attain to the 
rank of captain, and had not advanced his own 
affairs by war, but had rather lost his time, he 
returned to sculpture. He made some little 
figures in marble and bronze for some Florentine 
merchants, and was by them brought to Eng- 
land. There he worked for the king many 
things in marble, bronze, and wood, competing 
with the masters of that land, all of whom he 
surpassed ; and he earned such honours and re- 
wards that if he had not been a person without 
any self-control, he would have lived and died 
there quietly. However, leaving England, he 
went to Spain, where he produced many works 
which are much esteemed, and was charged by 
the Duke of Arcos to make a Madonna and 
Child for him, the duke making him such fine 



284 STORIES FROM VASARI 

promises that he thought he should be rich for 
ever. Having finished the work, the duke paid 
him in those coins which are called maravedis, 
which are worth little or nothing; but Torri- 
giano, seeing two men laden with money come 
to his house, was fully persuaded that he was 
very rich. When, however, he had had it 
counted by one of his Florentine friends, and 
reduced to Italian money, he found there was 
not quite thirty ducats. Upon this, supposing 
himself to have been cheated, he went and 
destroyed in his fury the statue he had made 
for the duke. The Spaniard in his turn, con- 
sidering himself insulted, accused Torrigiano of 
heresy. He was taken to prison, and brought 
up day after day, being sent from one inquisitor 
to another, and finally adjudged worthy of the 
gravest punishment. But meanwhile Torrigiano 
had fallen into a state of melancholy, and passed 
several days without eating, by which he brought 
himself to such weakness that he died, saving 
himself thus from shame, for it is said he had 
been condemned to death. 

Another of the students in the garden of the 
Medici was Giuliano Bugiardini, who was united 
in close and intimate friendship with Michael 
Angelo, and loved him much. Michael Angelo 
returned his love, not because he saw anything 
very profound in him, but because he bore so 



MICHAEL ANGELO 285 

much love to art. There was a certain natural 
goodness and simplicity in him, without any envy 
or malice, which pleased Buonarroti infinitely. 
He had no other fault than loving his own 
works too much. For though this is a common 
fault with men, he passed all bounds ; for which 
reason Michael Angelo used to call him blessed, 
because he was content with what he knew, and 
himself unhappy because his works never satisfied 
him fully. 

Ottaviano de' Medici having secretly asked 
him to draw Michael Angelo, he set to work, 
and having kept him still for two hours, for he 
was fond of his conversation, he said to him, 
" Michael Angelo, if you would like to see 
yourself, come here, for I have just caught your 
look." Michael Angelo got up, and looking at 
the portrait said, " What have you done ? you 
have put one of my eyes in my temple; look 
and see." Giuliano looked at it several times, 
and said, "It does not seem so to me; but sit 
down and I shall see a little better how it is." 
Buonarroti, who saw what the mistake was, sat 
down laughing, and Giuliano looked again and 
again at Michael Angelo and the portrait, and 
then getting up at last said, " It seems that the 
thing is exactly as I have drawn it." " Then," 
answered Buonarroti, " it is a defect of nature ; 
go on, and do not spare pencils or art." 



286 STORIES FROM VASARI 

M. Palla Rucellai had given him a picture to 
paint for his altar in S. Maria Novella, and 
Giuliano began the martyrdom of S. Catherine ; 
but he kept it on hand for' twelve years, not 
having invention or knowledge enough for such 
a work. But Rucellai pressing for it to be done, 
he resolved one day to take Michael Angelo to 
see it, and having told him with what trouble 
he had made the lightning coming down from 
heaven and breaking the wheel, and the sun 
coming out of a cloud, he prayed Michael 
Angelo, who could not help laughing at his 
troubles, to tell him how to do eight or ten 
principal figures of the soldiers standing in file 
on guard, for he could not see how to fore- 
shorten them so that they should appear all in 
a row, or how he could find room for them in 
so narrow a place. Buonarroti, feeling com- 
passion for the poor man, took up a piece of 
charcoal and sketched a file of naked figures 
with all the judgment and excellence proper to 
him, and went away with many thanks from 
Giuliano. Not long after, the latter brought 
II Tribolo his friend to see what Buonarroti had 
done, and told him all about it ; but because 
Buonarroti had only sketched them in outline, 
without any shadow, Bugiardini could not carry 
them out; so II Tribolo resolved to help him, 
and he made some rough models in clay, giving 



MICHAEL ANGELO 287 

them all that rough force which Michael Angelo 
had put into the drawing, and so he brought 
them to Giuliano. But this manner did not 
please Bugiardini's smooth fancy, and as soon 
as II Tribolo was gone he took a brush and, 
dipping it in water, smoothed them all down. 
II Tribolo, hearing about it from Giuliano him- 
self, laughed at his honest simplicity, and the 
work was at last finished, so that none would 
have known that Michael Angelo had ever 
looked at it. 

Giuliano, when he was old and poor, and 
doing little work, took great pains over a Pieti 
in a tabernacle which was to go to Spain. To 
represent the darkness at the death of the 
Saviour, he made a Night on a black ground, 
copying the figure from Michael Angelo's in the 
sacristy of S. Lorenzo. But that statue having 
no emblem but an owl, Giuliano added his 
own conceits a net with a lantern for catching 
thrushes at night, a little vessel with a candle 
in it, besides nightcaps and pillows and bats. 
And when Michael Angelo saw the work he 
nearly killed himself with laughing at the strange 
things with which Bugiardini had enriched his 
Night. 

Giuliano was once telling II Bronzino how he 
had seen a very beautiful woman, and after he 
had praised her a great deal, II Bronzino asked, 



288 STORIES FROM VASARI 

" Do you know her ? " " No," he replied ; " but 
she is very beautiful. Think she is like a picture 
of mine, and that is enough." 

But to return to Michael Angelo in the garden. 
When he saw Torrigiano's work in clay he was 
fired with emulation. He set himself to imitate 
an ancient head of an old faun, and although he 
had never touched marble or a chisel before, he 
succeeded so well that Lorenzo was quite as- 
tonished. Seeing that out of his own fancy he 
had opened the mouth and shown the tongue 
and teeth, De' Medici said in jest, but speaking 
gravely, as was his wont, "You ought to know 
that old men never have all their teeth, but have 
always lost some." Michael Angelo, with his 
simple respect and love for Jthis lord, thought he 
spoke in earnest, and no sooner was he departed 
than he broke away a tooth and altered the gum 
to look as if he had lost it, and waited with 
desire the return of his Magnificence. He, 
when he came and saw the simplicity of Michael 
Angelo, laughed much, telling the story to his 
friends. But desiring to assist him, he sent for 
Lodovico his father, and prayed him to give him 
his son, promising that he would treat him like 
a son of his own. And he willingly consenting, 
Lorenzo gave him a room in his house, and he 
eat continually at his table with his sons and the 
noble persons who were around his Magnificence. 



MICHAEL ANGELO 289 

This was in the year after he had gone to 
Domenico, when he was about fifteen or sixteen 
years old, and he stayed in that house four years, 
until the death of the magnificent Lorenzo. 

Afterwards Michael Angelo returned to his 
father's house, but Piero de' Medici, Lorenzo's 
heir, often sent for him, and one winter when it 
snowed heavily in Florence, he made him make 
a statue of snow in his courtyard, which was 
most beautiful. When the Medici were driven 
out of Florence, Michael Angelo had gone to 
Bologna and Venice, having left some weeks 
before, for he feared some evil would befall him 
from his intimacy with that house, seeing the 
insolence and bad government of Piero de' 
Medici. He tarried in Bologna a year and then 
returned to Florence, where he made a sleeping 
Cupid, which being shown by Baldassari del 
Milanese to Lorenzo di Pier Francesco de' 
Medici, he said, " If you were to bury it till 
it looked old, and then sent it to Rome, I am 
sure it would pass for an antique, and you would 
get much more for it than if you sold it here." 
Some say that Michael Angelo did so, making 
it look old, and others that Milanese carried it 
to Rome and buried it in one of his vineyards, 
and then sold it as an antique for two hundred 
ducats to the Cardinal S. Giorgio. However it 
may be, it brought such reputation to Michael 



2 9 o STORIES FROM VASARI 

Angelo that he was summoned to Rome by the 
Cardinal S. Giorgio, and tarried there a year, but 
the cardinal, knowing little of art, g&ve him 
nothing to do. Nevertheless during his stay in 
Rome he made much progress in the study of 
art, and the Cardinal de S. Denis, desiring to 
leave some worthy memorial of himself in so 
famous a city, caused him to make a Piet& in 
marble for the chapel of the Virgin in S. Peter's. 
To this work Michael Angelo bore such love 
that he inscribed his name on the girdle of our 
Lady, a thing he never did again. For one day 
Michael Angelo, entering the place where it stood, 
found a number of Lombard strangers there. 
And as they were giving it great praise, one of 
them asked another who had made it, and he an- 
swered, " Our hunchback from Milan." Michael 
Angelo remained silent, but it seemed strange to 
him that his labours should be attributed to 
another. And one night he shut himself into 
the place with a light and cut his name upon it. 

At this time some of his friends wrote to him 
advising him to come back to Florence, because 
there was some talk of having the great piece 
of marble which was lying spoilt made into a 
statue, and Piero Soderini the Gonfaloniere had 
talked of giving it to Lionardo da Vinci, and 
now was preparing to give it to Andrea Contucci. 
Michael Angelo had desired to have it many 




icha.il Angela. 



MARBLE 1'IKTA IN ST. PKTER*S. 

(Rome.) 



MICHAEL ANGELO 291 

years before; so he returned to Florence, and 
tried for it. It was a piece of marble nine 
braccia in size, out of which a Master Simone 
da Fiesole had begun to carve a giant, and had 
managed it so badly that the heads of the works 
at S. Maria del Fiore, without caring to have 
it finished, had abandoned it, and it had been 
lying thus for many years. Michael Angelo 
measured it again, and examined it to see if a 
reasonable figure could be cut out of the rock 
by accommodating its attitude to the maimed 
condition in which Master Simone had left it, 
and resolved to make request for it from the 
architects and Soderini. They, considering it a 
useless thing, granted it to him, thinking that 
anything would be better than the state it was 
in. Then Michael Angelo made a model in wax 
of a young David with a sling in his hand, and 
began to work in S. Maria del Fiore, setting up 
a hoarding round the marble, and working at 
it continually without any seeing it until he had 
brought it to perfection. Master Simone had so 
spoilt the marble that in some places there was 
not enough left for Michael Angelo' s purpose, 
and certainly it was a miracle restoring thus one 
that was dead. 

When Piero Soderini saw it, it pleased him 
much, but he said to Michael Angelo, who was 
engaged in retouching it in certain places, that 



292 STORIES FROM VASARI 

he thought the nose was too thick. Michael 
Angelo, perceiving that the Gonfaloniere was 
below the statue, and could not see it truly, to 
satisfy him went up the scaffold, taking a chisel 
in his left hand with a little marble dust, and 
began to work with his chisel, letting a little 
dust fall now and then, but not touching the 
nose. Then looking down to the Gonfaloniere, 
who was watching, he said, " Look at it now." 
" It pleases me better," said the Gonfaloniere ; 
"you have given it life." So Michael Angelo 
came down pitying those who make a show of 
understanding matters about which they really 
know nothing. Michael Angelo received from 
Soderini for the statue four hundred crowns, 
and it was set up in the year 1504. 

Lionardo da Vinci was now occupied in paint- 
ing the great Council Hall, and Pietro Soderini 
assigned one part of it to Michael Angelo, who 
chose for his subject the war of Pisa. He took 
a room in the dyers' hospital at S. Onofrio, and 
began a great cartoon, which he would not allow 
any one to see. He covered it with nude figures 
of the soldiers bathing in the river Arno and 
suddenly called to arms, the enemy making an 
assault. Some are coming out of the water, 
others are hastening to arm themselves and go 
to the help of their companions, buckling on 
their cuirasses and their other arms. When it 




Michael Angtlo. 



Andersen, 



THE VOUNG DAVID. 
(AccadcnHa, Florenrt.J 



MICHAEL ANGELO 293 

was shown, many said that such a thing had 
never been seen before, either from his hand or 
another's. And indeed this must be true, for 
all who have studied this cartoon have become 
men excellent in the art. And because it be- 
came thus a study for artists it was carried to 
the Medici palace, and was left in too great 
security in the hands of the artists. For during 
the sickness of Duke Giuliano, when no one was 
thinking of the matter, it was torn and cut into 
many pieces, and dispersed in many places, some 
pieces being to be seen now in Mantua. 

Michael Angelo's fame was grown so great 
that in the year 1503, when he was twenty-nine 
years of age, Julius II. sent for him to come and 
build his tomb. Therefore he proceeded to 
Rome, and after many months he completed 
a design which in beauty, ornament, and the 
number of the statues surpassed every ancient 
or imperial sepulchre. Thereupon Pope Julius 
enlarged his projects, and resolved to rebuild 
the church of S. Peter's that it might contain 
it. So Michael Angelo set to work and went 
to Carrara with two of his youths to obtain 
the marble, and spent in those mountains eight 
months. Having chosen a quantity of marble, 
he caused it to be carried to the sea and thence 
to Rome, where it filled half the Piazza of S. 
Peter's, and the part round S. Caterina, and the 



294 STORIES FROM VASARI 

space between the church and the corridor that 
goes to the castle, where Michael Angelo had 
made a room in which to work at the statues 
and the rest of the tomb. And that the Pope 
might easily come and see the work, he had a 
drawbridge made from the corridor to the room. 
Being treated with such familiarity he became 
exposed to great persecution, and much envy 
was aroused among the artists. 

Of this work Michael Angelo finished four 
statues and began eight more. Some of the 
marble was carried to Florence, where he worked 
for some time to escape the bad air of Rome. 
In Rome he made the two Captives, and the 
Moses, which no other modern work will ever 
equal in beauty. Meanwhile the rest of the 
marble, which had been left at Carrara, arrived; 
and was carried to the Piazza of S. Peter's, and 
it being necessary to pay those who had brought 
it, Michael Angelo went as usual to the Pope, 
but finding that his Holiness was occupied with 
important business concerning the affairs of 
Bologna, he returned home and paid for the 
marble himself. He returned another day to 
speak of it to the Pope, but found difficulty 
in obtaining admission, one of the lacqueys 
bidding him have patience, for he had orders 
not to let him in. A bishop said to the lacquey, 
"Perhaps you do not know this man;" but he 



MICHAEL ANGELO 295 

answered, " I know him too well, but I am here 
to do what my superiors and the Pope command 
me." This displeased Michael Angelo, and 
thinking it treatment contrary to what he had 
before experienced, he replied in anger to the 
Pope's lacquey, bidding him say, when his Holi- 
ness asked for him, that he had gone elsewhere. 
He returned home and set off in haste at two 
o'clock of the night, leaving two servants with 
orders to sell all the things in the house to 
the Jews, and to follow him to Florence. He 
journeyed on till he reached Poggibonsi, a place 
in the Florentine district. It was not long before 
five couriers arrived with letters from the Pope 
to bring him back ; but he would listen neither 
to their prayers nor to the letters, which com- 
manded him to return to Rome under pain of 
disgrace. At last the couriers' entreaties induced 
him to write a few words to his Holiness, saying 
that he must pardon him for not returning to 
his presence since he had been driven away, that 
his faithful service had not deserved such treat- 
ment, and therefore his Holiness must seek else- 
where for one to serve him. And so coming to 
Florence he set himself to finish the cartoon for 
the Great Hall, which Pier Soderini greatly de- 
sired he should execute. In the meantime there 
came three briefs to the Signory, commanding 
them to send back Michael Angelo to Rome. 



296 STORIES FROM VASARI 

He, perceiving the fury of the Pope, meditated 
going to Constantinople to serve the Turk, who 
desired to have him to construct a bridge from 
Constantinople to Pera. At last Pier Soderini 
persuaded him against his will to go back to the 
Pope, sending him back as a public person, with 
the title of ambassador of the city, and recom- 
mending him to his brother, Cardinal Soderini. 
So he came to Bologna, whither his Holiness had 
come from Rome. 

Some tell the story of his departure from 
Rome in another manner, and say that the Pope 
was angry with Michael Angelo because he would 
not let him see his work, and that he came more 
than once disguised when Michael Angelo was 
not at home, and corrupted his lads with money 
to let him in to see the chapel of Sixtus his 
uncle, which he was painting, and that once 
Michael Angelo, doubting his boys, hid himself 
and let something fall upon the Pope as he 
entered the chapel, which, made him rush out 
in a fury. 

However it was, as soon as he reached Bologna, 
before he had taken off his boots, he was con- 
ducted by the Pope's servant to his Holiness, 
accompanied by a bishop from Cardinal Soderini, 
the cardinal himself being ill. Arrived in the 
Pope's presence, Michael Angelo knelt down, 
and his Holiness looked at him severely as if in 



MICHAEL ANGELO 297 

anger, saying, " Instead of coming to us, you 
have .waited for us to come to you/' meaning 
that Bologna was nearer to Florence than Rome. 
Michael Angelo humbly begged pardon, saying 
he had not done it to offend, but that he could 
not endure to be driven away in such a manner. 
And the bishop who had brought him in began to 
excuse him, saying that such men were ignorant, 
except in matters of art, and were not like other 
men. Upon this the Pope grew angry, and with 
a stick he had in his hand he struck the bishop, 
saying, "It is you who are ignorant and speak 
evil of him, which we did not do/' So the 
bishop was driven out from his presence by the 
lacquey, and the Pope, having vented his anger 
upon him, blessed Michael Angelo, and showered 
upon him gifts and promises. 

He was employed to make a bronze statue of 
Pope Julius, five braccia high, for the city of 
Bologna. The attitude is most beautiful, having 
great dignity, and in the drapery there is richness 
and magnificence, and in the countenance vivacity 
and force, promptness and terrible majesty. It 
was set up in a niche over the gate of S. 
Petronio. It is said that while Michael Angelo 
was working upon it, Francia the goldsmith and 
also a most excellent painter came to see it, 
having heard much of him and his works, and 
never having seen any of them. Gazing upon 



298 STORIES FROM VASARI 

the work with astonishment, he was asked by 
Michael Angelo what he thought of it, and he 
answered that it was a very beautiful cast and 
a fine material. Michael Angelo, thinking that 
he was praising the bronze rather than the artist, 
said, " I am as much obliged to Pope Julius who 
gave it to me as you are to the men from whom 
you get your colours for painting," adding before 
some gentlemen that he was a fool. 

Michael Angelo finished this statue in clay 
before the Pope left Bologna for Rome, and his 
Holiness went to see it. He asked what was to 
be in his left hand, and whether the right hand, 
which was raised with so haughty a gesture, was 
blessing or cursing. Michael Angelo replied 
that he was advising the people of Bologna to 
conduct themselves well, and prayed him to 
decide if he should put a book in his left hand, 
but he answered, "Put a sword, for I am not 
a man of letters." This statue was afterwards 
destroyed by Bentivogli, and the bronze sold to 
Duke Alphonso of Ferrara, who made it into 
a cannon called the Julia, but the head is still 
preserved. 

When the Pope was returned to Rome, 
Bramante (a friend of Raffaello's, and therefore 
little a friend to Michael Angelo) tried to turn 
his mind from finishing his sepulchre, saying it 
was an evil augury and seemed like hastening 



MICHAEL ANGELO 299 

his death to make his own grave; and he per- 
suaded him that on Michael Angelo's return he 
should set him to paint the ceiling of the chapel 
in the palace, in memory of Sixtus his uncle. 
For Bramante and Michael Angelo's other rivals 
thought to draw him away from sculpture, in 
which they saw he was perfect, and make him 
produce less worthy works, not to be compared 
with Raffaello's, knowing he had had no experience 
in painting in fresco. So when he was returned 
and proposed to the Pope to finish his tomb, 
he desired him instead to paint the ceiling of 
the chapel Michael Angelo sought in every 
way to shift the load off his back, proposing 
Raffaello instead. But the more he excused 
himself, the more impetuous the Pope became. 
So seeing that his Holiness persevered, he re- 
solved to do it, and the Pope ordered Bramante 
to make the scaffold. He made it hanging by 
ropes passed through holes in the ceiling, which 
when Michael Angelo saw, he asked Bramante 
how the holes were to be stopped up when the 
painting was finished. He answered, " We must 
think of that afterwards, but there is no other 
way." So Michael Angelo knew that either 
Bramante was worth little or that he was no 
friend to him, and he went to the Pope and told 
him the scaffolding would not do. So he told 
him to do it his own way. He therefore ordered 



300 STORIES FROM VASARI 

it to be made on supports, not touching the wall, 
and he gave to a poor carpenter who made it 
so many of the useless ropes that by the sale 
of them he obtained a dowry for one of his 
daughters. 

The Pope having resolved that the pictures 
which had been painted there by the masters 
before him in the time of Sixtus should be de- 
stroyed, Michael Angelo was forced by the great- 
ness of the undertaking to ask aid, and sent 
to Florence for men. And having begun and 
finished the cartoons, and never having coloured 
before in fresco, he brought from Florence some 
of his friends to aid him, and that he might see 
their method of working in freseo, among whom 
were Granacci, Bugiardini, and others. So he 
set them to begin the work, but their efforts being 
far from satisfying him, one morning he resolved 
to destroy all that they had done, and shutting 
himself up in the chapel, would not open the 
door for them, nor show himself to them at 
home. They therefore, after this had gone on* 
some time, were offended, and took leave and went 
back to Florence with shame. Then Michael 
Angelo prepared to do the whole work himself, 
and brought it to a successful termination with 
great labour and study, nor would he let any one 
see it, by which means the desire grew strong in 
all. When the half was done and uncovered, 



MICHAEL ANGELO 301 

all Rome went to see it, the Pope the first ; 
and Raffaello da Urbino, who was excellent in 
imitating, having seen it, changed his manner. 
Then Bramante sought to persuade the Pope to 
give the other half to Raffaello. But the Pope, 
seeing every day the powers of Michael Angelo, 
judged that he should finish the other half. So 
he brought it to an end in twenty months by 
himself without even the help of a man to grind 
the colours. Michael Angelo complained that 
from the haste of the Pope he could not finish it 
as he would, for the Pope constantly asked him 
when it would be finished. Once he answered, 
" It will be finished when I have satisfied myself." 
"But we will," replied the Pope, "that you 
should satisfy us in our desire to have it quickly." 
And he added that if it was not done soon he 
would have him thrown from his scaffold. The 
Pope used often to tell Michael Angelo to make 
the chapel rich in colour and gold, but Michael 
Angelo would answer the Holy Father, "In 
those times men did not wear gold, and those 
whom I am painting were never very rich, but 
holy men despising riches." 

The work was done in great discomfort from 
constantly looking up, and it so injured his sight 
that he could only read or look at drawings 
in. the same position, an ffeect which lasted 
many months. But in the ardour of labour 



302 STORIES FROM VASARI 

he felt no fatigue and cared for no discomfort. 
The work has been, indeed, a light of our art, 
illuminating the world which had been so many 
centuries in darkness. Oh, truly happy age, 
and oh, blessed artists, who at such a fountain 
can purge away the dark films from your eyes ! 
Give thanks to Heaven, and imitate Michael 
Angelo in all things. 

So when it was uncovered every one from 
every part ran to see it, and gazed in silent 
astonishment ; and the Pope, inspired by it and 
encouraged to greater undertakings, rewarded 
him liberally with money and rich gifts. The 
great favours that the Pope showed him proved 
that he recognised his talents, and if sometimes 
he did him an injury, he healed it with gifts 
and signal favours ; as when, for instance, 
Michael Angelo once asked leave of him to 
go to work in S. Giovanni in Florence, and 
requested money for the purpose, and he said, 
"Well, and this chapel, when will it be 
finished?" "When I can, Holy Father." 
The Pope having a stick in his hand struck 
Michael Angelo, saying, "When I can! when 
I can ! I will make you finish it ! " Michael 
Angelo therefore returned to his house and 
prepared to leave for Florence, but the Pope 
in haste sent his chamberlain after him with 
five hundred crowns to pacify him, and ordered 



MICHAEL ANGELO 303 

him to make his excuses and say it was all 
done in love and kindness. And he, seeing it 
was the nature of the Pope and really loving 
him, took it in good part and laughed at it, 
finding also that it turned to his profit, for 
the Pope would do anything to keep him his 
friend. 

But when the chapel was finished, and before 
the Pope died, he gave orders to Cardinal 
Santiquattro and Cardinal Aginense, his nephew, 
that in the case of his death they were to 
complete his monument, but after a less magni- 
ficent design than the first. So Michael Angelo 
returned again to his work upon the tomb, 
hoping to carry it out to the end without 
hindrance, but it was to him the cause of more 
annoyance and trouble than anything else he 
did in his life. At that time befell the death 
of Julius, and the whole plan was abandoned 
upon the creation of Pope Leo X. For he 
having a mind and talents no less splendid 
than those of Julius, desired to leave in his 
native city, of which he was the first pontiff", 
such a marvellous work in memory of himself 
and of the divine artist, his fellow-citizen, as 
a great prince like himself was able to produce. 
So he gave orders that the fa9ade of S. Lorenzo 
m Florence, a church built by the house of 
Medici, should be erected, and he commanded 



3 o 4 STORIES FROM VASARI 

that the sepulchre of Julius should be abandoned 
that Michael Angelo might prepare plans and 
designs for this work. Michael Angelo made 
all the resistance he could, alleging that he was 
bound to Santiquattro and Aginense for the 
tomb. But the Pope replied that he was not 
to think about that, for he had already con- 
sidered that, and had procured their consent 
to his departure. So the matter was settled 
to the displeasure both of the cardinals and 
Michael Angelo, and he departed weeping. He 
consumed many years in procuring marble, 
though in the meantime he made models in 
wax and other things for the work; but the 
matter was so delayed that the money set apart 
for it was consumed in the war of Lombardy, 
and the work was left unfinished at the death 
of Leo. 

At this time, in the year 1525, Giorgio Vasari 
was brought as a boy to Florence by the Cardinal 
of Cortona and put with Michael Angelo to 
learn the art. But he being called by Pope 
Clement VII. to Rome, determined that Vasari 
should go to Andrea del Sarto, and went himself 
to Andrea's workshop to recommend him to 
his care. 

When Clement VII. was made pope he sent 
for Michael Angelo, and he agreed with the 
Pope to finish the sacristy and library of S. 



MICHAEL ANGELO 305 

Lorenzo, and to make four tombs for the bodies 
of the fathers of the two Popes, Lorenzo and 
Giuliano, his brother, and for Giuliano, brother 
of Leo, and Duke Lorenzo, his nephew. At 
this time befell the sack of Rome and the 
banishment of the Medici from Florence. Those 
who governed the city desired to re-fortify it, 
and made Michael Angelo commissary-general 
of all the fortifications. He surrounded the 
hill of S. Miniato with bastions and fortified 
the city in many places, and he was sent to 
Ferrara to view the fortifications of Duke 
Alfonso, who received him with much courtesy, 
and prayed him at his leisure to make some 
work of art for him. Returning to Florence, 
and engaged again upon the fortifications, he 
nevertheless found time both to make a painting 
of Leda in tempera for the duke, and to work 
upon the statues for the monument in S. 
Lorenzo. Of this monument, partly finished, 
there are seven statues. The first is Our Lady, 
and though it is not finished, the excellence of 
the work may be seen. Then there are the 
four statues of Night and Day, Dawn and 
Twilight, most beautiful, and sufficient of them- 
selves, if art were lost, to restore it to light. 
The other statues are the two armed captains, 
the one the pensive Duke Lorenzo, and the 
other the proud Duke Giuliano. 



306 STORIES FROM VASARI 

Meanwhile the siege of Florence began, and 
the enemy closing round the city, and the hope 
of aid failing, Michael Angelo determined to 
leave Florence and go to Venice. So he departed 
secretly without any one knowing of it, taking 
with him Antonio Mini his pupil, and his faith- 
ful friend Piloto the goldsmith, wearing each one 
their money in their quilted doublets. And they 
came to Ferrara and rested there. And it hap- 
pened because of the war that Duke Alfonso had 
given orders that the names of those who were 
at the inns and of all strangers should be brought 
him every day. So it came about that Michael 
Angelo' s coming was made known to the duke. 
And he sent some of the chief men of his court 
to bring him to the palace, with his horses and 
all he had, and give him good lodging. So 
Michael Angelo, finding himself in the power of 
another, was forced to obey and went to the 
duke. And the duke received him with great 
honour, and making him rich gifts, desired him 
to tarry in Ferrara. But he would not remain, 
though the duke, praying him not to depart 
while the war lasted, offered him all in his power* 
Then Michael Angelo, not willing to be outdone 
in courtesy, thanked him much, and turning to 
his two companions, said that he had brought to 
Ferrara twelve thousand crowns, and that they 
were quite at his service. 



MICHAEL ANGELO 307 

And the duke took him through his palace 
and showed him all his treasures, especially his 
portrait by the hand of Titian, which Michael 
Angelo commended much; but he would not 
stop at the palace, and returned to the inn, and 
the host where he lodged received from the duke 
an infinite number of things with which to do 
him honour, and command to take nothing from 
him for his lodging. 

He proceeded thence to Venice, but many de- 
siring to make his acquaintance, for which he had 
no wish, he departed from the Giudecca where he 
had lodged. It is said that he made a design for 
the bridge of the Rialto at the request of the 
Doge Gritti, a design most rare for invention and 
ornament. 

But Michael Angelo was recalled by his native 
city, and earnestly implored not to abandon her, 
and they sent him a safe conduct. At last, over- 
come by his love for her, he returned, not without 
peril of his life. He restored the tower of S. 
Miniato, which did much injury to the enemy, 
so they battered it with great cannon, and would 
have overthrown it, but Michael Angelo defended 
it, hanging bales of wool and mattresses to 
shield it. 

When the peace was made, Baccio Valore was 
commissioned by the Pope to seize some of the 
ringleaders, and they sought for Michael Angelo, 



308 STORIES FROM VASARI 

but he had fled secretly to the house of a friend, 
where he lay hid many days. When his anger 
was passed, Pope Clement remembered his great 
worth, and bade them seek him, ordering them 
to say nothing to him, but that he should have 
his usual provision and should go on with his 
work at S. Lorenzo. 

Then Duke Alfonso of Ferrara, having heard 
that he had completed a rare piece of work for 
him, sent one of his gentlemen to him that he 
might not lose such a jewel, and he came to 
Florence and presented his letters of credence. 
Then Michael Angelo showed him the Leda, 
and Castor and Pollux coming out of the egg ; 
but the messenger of the duke thought he ought 
to have produced some great work, not under- 
standing the skill and excellence of the thing, 
and he said to Michael Angelo, "Oh, this is a 
little thing." Then Michael Angelo asked him 
what was his trade, for he knew that none are 
such good judges of a thing as those who have 
some skill in it themselves. He replied con- 
temptuously, "I am a merchant," thinking that 
Michael Angelo did not know he was a gentle- 
man; and so, being rather offended by the question, 
he expressed some contempt for the industry of 
the Florentines. Michael Angelo, who perfectly 
understood his meaning, answered, "You have 
shown yourself a bad merchant this time, and 



MICHAEL ANGELO 309 

to your master's damage; take yourself off." 
Afterwards, Anton Mini, his pupil, having two 
sisters about to be married, asked him for the 
picture, and he gave it to him willingly, together 
with the greater part of his drawings and cartoons, 
and also two chests of models. And when Mini 
went into France he took them with him there, 
and the Leda he sold to King Francis, but the 
cartoons and drawings were lost, for he died in 
a short time and they were stolen. 

Afterwards the Pope desired Michael Angelo 
to come to him in Rome and paint the walls 
of the Sistine Chapel. Clement wished that he 
should paint the Last Judgment and Lucifer 
driven out of heaven for his pride, for which 
many years before he had made sketches and 
designs. However, in 1533 followed the death 
of Pope Clement, and Michael Angelo again 
thought himself free to finish the tomb of 
Julius II. But when Paul III, was made pope, it 
was not long before he sent for him, and desired 
him to come into his service. Then Michael 
Angelo refused, saying he was bound by contract 
to the Duke of Urbino to finish the tomb of, 
Julius II. But the Pope m anger cried out, " I 
have desired this for thirty years, and now that 
I am Pope I will not give it up. I will destroy 
the contract, and am determined that you shall 
serve me." Michael Angelo thought of de- 



3 io STORIES FROM VASARI 

parting from Rome, but fearing the greatness 
of the Pope, and seeing him so old, thought 
to satisfy him with words. And the Pope came 
one day to his house with ten cardinals, and 
desired to see all the statues for the tomb of 
Julius, and they appeared to him miraculous, 
particularly the Moses ; and the Cardinal of 
Mantua said this figure alone was enough to 
do honour to Pope Julius. And when he saw 
the cartoons and drawings for the chapel, the 
Pope urged him again to come into his service, 
promising to order matters so that the Duke of 
Urbino should be contented with three statues, 
the others being made from his designs by good 
masters. The new contract, therefore, being 
confirmed by the duke, the work was completed 
and set up, a most excellent work, but very far 
from the first design; and Michael Angelo, 
since he could do no other, resolved to serve 
Pope Paul, who desired him to carry out the 
commands of Clement without altering anything. 
When Michael Angelo had completed about 
three-quarters of the work, Pope Paul went to 
see it, and Messer Biagio da Cesena, the master 
of the ceremonies, was with him, and when he 
was asked what he thought of it, he answered 
that he thought it not right to have so many 
naked figures in the Pope f s chapel. This dis- 
pleased Michael Angelo, and to revenge himself, 



MICHAEL ANGELO 311 

as soon as he was departed, he painted him in 
the character of Minos with a great serpent 
twisted round his legs. Nor did Messer Biagio's 
entreaties either to the Pope or to Michael 
Angelo himself, avail to persuade him to take 
it away. At this time it happened that the 
master fell from the scaffold, from no little 
height, and hurt one of his legs, but would not 
be doctored for it. Thereupon Master Baccio 
Rontini, the Florentine, his friend and a clever 
doctor, feeling pity for him, went one day and 
knocked at his door, and receiving no answer, 
made his way to the room of Michael Angelo, 
who had been given over, and would not leave 
him until he was cured. When he was healed, 
returning to his painting, he worked at it 
continually, until in a few months it was 
brought to an end, and the words of Dante 
verified, "The dead seem dead and the living 
living." And when this Last Judgment was 
uncovered, he was seen to have vanquished 
not only all the painters who had worked there 
before, but even to have surpassed his own work 
on the ceiling- He laboured at this work eight 
years, and uncovered it in the year 154?-, on 
Christmas Day, I think, to the marvel of all 
Rome, or rather all the world ; and 1 who went 
that year to Rome was astounded. 

Afterwards he painted for Pop6 Paul the Con- 



3 i2 STORIES FROM VASARI 

version of S. Paul and the Crucifixion of S. Peter. 
These were the last pictures he painted, at the 
age of seventy-five, and with great fatigue, as he 
told me; for painting, and especially working 
in fresco, is not an art for old men. But his 
spirit could not remain without doing something, 
and since he could not paint, he set to work 
upon a piece of marble, to bring out of it four 
figures larger than life, for his amusement and 
pastime, and as he said, because working with 
the hammer kept him. healthy in body. It repre- 
sented the dead Christ, and was left unfinished, 
although he had intended it to be placed over 
his grave. 

It happened in 1546 that Antonio de Sangallo 
died, and one being wanted in his place to super- 
intend the building of S. Peter's, his Holiness 
sent for Michael Angelo and desired to put him 
in the office, but he refused, saying that archi- 
tecture was not his proper art. Finally, entreaties 
availing nothing, the Pope commanded him to 
accept it, and so, to his great displeasure and 
against his will, he was obliged to enter upon 
this office. Then one day going to S. Peter's to 
see the model of wood which Sangallo had made, 
he found the whole Sangallo party there. They 
coming up to him said they were glad that the 
charge of the work was to be his, adding that 
the model was a field which would never fail to 



MICHAEL ANGELO 313 

provide pasture. "You say the truth," answered 
Michael Angelo, meaning to infer, as he told a 
friend, " for sheep and oxen, who do not under- 
stand art." And he used to say publicly that 
Sangallo held more to the German manner than 
to the good antique, and besides that fifty years* 
labour might be spared and 300,000 crowns' 
expense, and yet the building might be carried 
out with more grandeur and majesty. And he 
showed what he meant in a model which made 
every one acknowledge his words to be true. 
This model cost him twenty-five crowns, and was 
made in fifteen days. Sangallo's model cost more 
than four thousand, it is said, and took many 
years to make, for he seemed to think that this 
building was a way of making money, to be 
carried on with no intention of its being finished. 
This seemed to Michael Angelo dishonest, and 
when the Pope was urging him to become the 
architect, he said one day openly to all those 
connected with the building, that they had better 
do everything to prevent him having the care of 
it, for he would have none of them in the build- 
ing; but these words, as may be supposed, did 
him much harm, and made him many enemies, 
who were always seeking to hinder him. But at 
last the Pope issued his commands, and created 
him the head of the building with all authority. 
Then Michael Angelo, seeing the Pope's trust 



314 STORIES FROM VASARI 

in him, desired that it should be put into the 
agreement that he served for the love of God 
and without any reward. But when a new Pope 
was made, the set that was opposed to him in 
Rome began again to trouble him ; therefore the 
Duke Cosimo desired that he should leave Rome 
and return to Florence, but he, being sick and 
infirm, could not travel. At that time Paul IV. 
thought to have the Last Judgment amended, 
which when Michael Angelo heard he bade them 
tell the Pope that this was a little matter, and 
might easily be amended; let him amend the 
world, and then the pictures would soon amend 
themselves. 

The same year befell the death of Urbino his 
servant, or rather, to speak more truly, his com- 
panion. He had come to him in Florence after 
the siege in 1530, and during twenty-six years 
served him with such faithfulness that Michael 
Angelo made him rich, and loved him so much 
that when he was ill he nursed him and lay all 
night in his clothes to watch him. After he was 
dead, Vasari wrote to him to comfort him, and 
he replied in these words : 

"Mr DEAR MESSER GIORGIO, It is hard 
for me to write ; nevertheless, in reply to your 
letter, I will say something. You know that 
Urbino is dead, to my great loss and infinite 
grief, but in the great mercy of God. The 



MICHAEL ANGELO 315 

mercy is that dying he has taught me how to 
die, not in sorrow, but with desire of death. I 
have had him twenty-six years, and have found 
him most rare and faithful ; and now that I had 
made him rich, and hoped that he would have 
been the support of my old age, he has left me, 
and nothing remains but the hope of meeting 
him again in Paradise. And of this God gave 
me promise in the happy death he died, for he 
regretted, far more than death, leaving me in 
this treacherous world with so many infirmities, 
although the chief part of me is gone with him, 
and nothing remains but infinite misery." 

Until this time Michael Angelo worked almost 
every day at that stone of which we have spoken 
before, with the four figures, but now he broke 
it, either because the stone was hard or because 
his judgment was now so ripe that nothing he 
did contented him. His finished statues were 
chiefly made in his youth ; most of the others 
were left unfinished, for if he discovered a mis- 
take, however small, he gave up the work and 
applied himself to another piece of marble. He 
often said this was the reason why he had finished 
so few statues and pictures. This Pieti, broken 
as it was, he gave to Francesco Bandini. Tiberio 
Calcagni, the Florentine sculptor, had become a 
great friend of Michael Angelo's through Ban- 
dim, and being one day in Michael Angelo's 



316 STORIES FROM VASARI 

house, and seeing this Pied broken, he asked 
him why he had broken it, and spoilt so much 
marvellous work. He answered it was because 
of his servant Urbino's importunity, who was 
always urging him to finish it, and besides that, 
among other things, he had broken a piece off 
the Virgin's arm, and before that he had taken 
a dislike to it, having many misfortunes because 
of a crack there was in it; so at last, losing 
patience, he had broken it, and would have 
destroyed it altogether if his servant Antonio 
had not begged him to give it him as it was. 
Then Tiberio spoke to Bandini about it, for 
Bandini desired to have a work of Michael 
Angelo's, and he prayed Michael Angelo to 
allow Tiberio to finish it for him, promising 
that Antonio should have two hundred crowns 
of gold, and he being content, made them a 
present of it. So Tiberio took it away and 
joined it together, but it was left unfinished 
at his death. However, it was necessary for 
Michael Angelo to get another piece of marble, 
that he might do a little carving every day. 

The architect Pirro Ligorio had entered the 
service of Paul IV., and was the cause of renewed 
vexation to Michael Angelo, for he went about 
everywhere saying that he was becoming childish. 
Indignant at this treatment, Michael Angelo 
would willingly have returned to Florence, and 



MICHAEL ANGELO 317 

Giorgio urged him to do so. But he felt he was 
getting old, having already reached the age of 
eighty-one, and he wrote to Vasari saying he 
knew he was at the end of his life, as it were in 
the twenty-fourth hour, and that no thought 
arose in his mind on which death was not carved. 
He sent also a sonnet, by which it may be seen 
that his mind was turning more and more to- 
wards God, and away from the cares of his art. 
Duke Cosimo also commanded Vasari to en- 
courage him to return to his native place; but 
though his will was ready, his infirmity of body 
kept him in Rome. 

Many of his friends, seeing that the work at 
S. Peter's proceeded but slowly, urged him at 
least to leave a model behind him. He was for 
many months undecided about it, but at last he 
began, and little by little made a small clay 
model, from which, with the help of his plans 
and designs, Giovanni Franzese made a larger one 
of wood. 

When Pius V. became pope, he showed Michael 
Angelo much favour, and. employed him in many 
works, particularly in making the design of a 
monument for the Marquis Marignano,his brother. 
The work was entrusted by his Holiness to Lione 
Lioni, a great friend of Michael Angelo's, and 
about the same time Lione pourtrayed Michael 
Angelo on a medallion, putting at his wish on 



3 i 8 STORIES FROM VASARI 

the reverse a blind man led by a dog, with the 
words, " Docebo iniquos vias tuas, et impii ad te 
convertentur," and because the thing pleased him 
much, Michael Angelo gave him a model in wax 
of Hercules and Antaeus. There are only two 
painted portraits of Michael Angelo, the one by 
Bugiardini and the other by Jacopo del Conte, 
besides one in bronze by Daniello Ricciarelli, and 
this one of Lione's, of which there have been so 
many copies made that I have seen a great number 
in Italy and elsewhere. 

About a year before his death, Vasari, seeing 
that Michael Angelo was much shaken, prevailed 
upon the Pope to give orders concerning the 
care of him, and concerning his drawings and 
other things, in case anything should befall him, 
His nephew Lionardo desired to come to Rome 
that Lent, as if foreboding that Michael Angelo 
was near his end, and when he fell sick of a slow 
fever, he wrote for him to come. But the sick- 
ness increasing, in the presence of his physician 
and other friends, in perfect consciousness, he 
made his will in three words, leaving his soul in 
the hands of God, his body to the earth, and his 
goods to his nearest relations, charging his friends 
when passing out of this life to remember the 
sufferings of Jesus Christ ; and so, on the seven- 
teenth day of February, at twenty-three o'clock 
of the year 1563, according to the Florentine 



MICHAEL ANGELO 319 

style, which after the Roman would be 1564, he 
expired to go to a better life. 

Michael Angelo's imagination was so perfect 
that, not being able to express with his hands 
his great and terrible conceptions, he often aban- 
doned his works and destroyed many of them. 
I know that a little before his death he burnt 
a great number of drawings and sketches. It 
should appear strange to none that Michael 
Angelo delighted in solitude, being as it were in 
love with art. Nevertheless he held dear the 
friendship of many great and learned persons, 
among whom were many cardinals and bishops. 
The great Cardinal Ippolito de* Medici loved him 
much, and once, having heard that Michael 
Angelo was greatly pleased with a Turkish horse 
of his, he sent it to him as a gift with ten mules' 
burden of hay and a servant to keep it. He 
loved the society of artists, and held intercourse 
with them; and those who say he would not 
teach are wrong, for he was ready to give counsel 
to any one who asked. But he was unfortunate 
with those pupils who lived in his house ; for 
Piero Urbano was a man of talent, but would 
never do anything to tire himself; Antonio Mini 
would have done anything, but he had not a 
brain capable of much, and when the wax is hard 
you cannot get a good impression ; Ascanio dalla 
Ripa Transone worked very hard, but nothing 



320 STORIES FROM VASARI 

came of it : he spent years over a picture of which 
Michael Angelo had given him the drawing, but 
at last all the great expectations that had been 
formed of him went off into smoke, and I re- 
member Michael Angelo had so much compas- 
sion for his difficulty in painting that he helped 
him with his own hand. 

He has often said to me that he would have 
written something for the help of artists, but 
feared not being able to express in writing what 
he wished. But he delighted much in reading 
the poets, particularly Dante and Petrarca, and 
in making madrigals and sonnets. And he sent 
much, both in rhyme and prose, to the illustrious 
Marchioness of Pescara, of whose virtues he was 
greatly enamoured, and she of his. Many times 
she went from Viterbo to Rome to visit him, and 
Michael Angelo made many things for her. He 
delighted much in the sacred scriptures, like the 
good Christian he was, and held in veneration the 
works of Fr. Girokmo Savonarola, having heard 
him preach. In his manner of life he was Itiost 
abstemious, being content when young with a 
little bread and wine while at his work, and until 
he had finished the Last Judgment he always 
waited for refreshment till the evening, when he 
had done his work. Though rich he lived poorly, 
never taking presents from any one. He took 
little sleep, but often at night he would rise to 



MICHAEL ANGELO 321 

work, having made himself a paper cap, in the 
middle of which he could fix his candle, so that 
he could have the use of his hands. Vasari, who 
often saw this cap, noticed that he did not use 
wax candles, but candles made of goats' tallow, 
and so he sent him four bundles, which would 
be 40 Ibs. , His servant took them to him in the 
evening, and when Michael Angelo refused to 
take them, he answered, " Sir, carrying them here 
has almost broken my arms, and I will not carry 
them back again ; but there is some thick mud 
before your door in which they will stand straight 
enough, and I will set light to them all." Upon 
which Michael Angelo answered, "Put them 
down here, then, for I will not have you playing 
tricks before my door." He told me that often 
in his youth he had slept in his clothes, too worn 
out with his labours to undress himself. Some 
have accused him of being avaricious, but they 
are mistaken, for he freely gave away his draw- 
ings and models and pictures, for which he 
migl^t have obtained thousands of crowns. And 
then, as for the money earned by the sweat of 
his brow, by his own study and labour can any 
one be called avaricious who remembered so 
many poor as he did, and secretly provided for 
the marriage of many girls, and enriched his 
servant Urbino ? He had served him long, and 
once Michael Angelo asked him, " If I die, what 

x 



322 STORIES FROM VASARI 

will you do?" He answered, "I shall serve 
another." " Oh, poor fellow ! " answered Michael 
Angelo, "I will mend your poverty." And he 
gave him at once two thousand crowns, a gift for 
a Caesar or a great pontiff. 

He had a most tenacious memory; he could 
remember and make use of the works of others 
when he 'had only once seen them; while he 
never repeated anything of his own, because he 
remembered all he had done. In his youth, 
being one evening with some painters, his friends, 
it was proposed that they should try who could 
make a figure without any drawing in it, like 
those things that ignorant fellows draw on the 
walls, and the one that could make the best 
should have a supper given him. He remem- 
bered having seen one of these rude drawings on 
a wall, and drew it as if he had it in front of 
him, and so surpassed all the other painters a 
difficult thing for a man to do who had such 
knowledge of drawing. 

He felt very strongly against those who had 
done him an injury, but he never had recourse 
to vengeance. His conversation was full of 
wisdom and gravity, mixed with clever or 
humorous sayings. Many of these have been 
noted down, and I will give some. A friend of 
his was once talking to him about death, and 
saying that he must dread it very much because 



MICHAEL ANGELO 323 

he was so continually labouring in his art ; but 
he answered, " All that was nothing, and if life 
pleased us, death was a work from the hand of 
the same Master, and ought not to displease 
us." A citizen found him once at Orsanmichele 
in Florence, looking at the statue of S. Mark by 
Donatello, and asked him what he thought of 
it. He answered that he had never seen a more 
honest face, and that if S. Mark was like that, 
we might believe all that he had written. A 
painter had painted a picture in which the best 
thing was an ox, and some one asked why it was 
that the painter had made the ox more lifelike 
than anything else ? Michael Angelo answered, 
" Every painter can pourtray himself well/' 

He took pleasure in certain men like II Meni- 
ghella,- a common painter, who would come to 
him and get him to make a drawing for a S. 
Rocco or a S. Antonio, which he was to paint for 
some peasant. And Michael Angelo, who could 
hardly be persuaded to work for kings, would at 
once lay aside his work, and make simple designs 
suited to II Menighella's wishes. He was also 
attached to Topolino, a stone-cutter, who fancied 
himself a sculptor of worth. He resided for 
many years in the mountains of Carrara for the 
purpose of sending marble to Michael Angelo, 
and he never sent a boatload without three or 
four roughly hewn figures of his own carving, 



324 STORIES FROM VASARI 

which used to make Michael Angelo die with 
laughing. After he came back from Carrara 
he set himself to finish a Mercury which he 
had begun in marble, and one day, when it was 
nearly completed, he asked Michael Angelo to 
look at it and give him his opinion on it. 
"You are a fool," said Michael Angelo, "to 
try to make figures. Don't you see that this 
Mercury is the third part of a braccio too short 
from the knee to the foot that you have made 
him a lame dwarf?" "Oh, that is nothing! 
If that is all, I will soon remedy that." Michael 
Angelo laughed again at his simplicity, but when 
he was gone Topolino took a piece of marble, 
and having cut Mercury under the knees, inserted 
the marble, joining it neatly, and giving Mercury 
a pair of boots, the top of which hid the join. 
When he showed his work to Michael Angelo 
he laughed again, but marvelled that ignorant 
fellows like him, when driven by necessity, should 
be capable of doing daring things which sculptors 
of real worth would not think of. 

Michael Angelo was a very healthy man, thin 
and muscular, although as a boy he was sickly. 
When grown up he had also two serious illnesses; 
nevertheless he could support any amount of 
fatigue. He was of middle height, wide across 
the shoulders, but the rest of his body in good 
proportion. 



MICHAEL ANGELO 325 

Certainly he was sent into the world to be an 
example to men of art, that they should learn 
from his life and from his works; and I, who 
have to thank God for felicity rare among men 
of our profession, count among my greatest 
blessings that I was born in the time when 
Michael Angelo was alive, and was counted 
worthy to have him for my master, and to be 
treated by him as a familiar friend, as every 
one knows. 



THE END 



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