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Title: The Life and Writings of Henry Fuseli, Volume 3 (of 3)

Author: Henry Fuseli

Editor: John Knowles

Release date: August 10, 2012 [eBook #40474]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Margo von Romberg, Karl Eichwalder and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
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"Animo vidit, ingenio complexus est, eloquentiâ illuminavit."
Velleius Paterculus in Ciceronem.









Dorset Street, Fleet Street.





XI. On the prevailing Method of treating the History of Painting, with Observations on the Picture of Lionardo da Vinci of "The Last Supper" Page    1
XII. On the Present State of the Art, and the Causes which check its Progress 39


Chiefly relative to the Fine Arts 61


The Tuscan School153
The School of Florence193
The School of Siena231
The Roman School242
The School of Naples279
The School of Venice334
The School of Mantoua361
The School of Bologna399










In this Lecture I shall submit to your consideration some criticisms on the prevailing method of treating the History of our Art; attended by a series of observations on the magnificent picture of the Last Supper, by Lionardo da Vinci, now before you.

History, mindless of its real object, sinking to Biography, has been swelled into a diffuse catalogue of individuals, who, tutored by different schools, or picking something from the real establishers of Art, have done little more than repeat, or imitate through the medium of either, what those had found in Nature, discriminated, selected, and applied to Art, according to her dictates. Without wishing to depreciate the merit of that multitude who felt, proved themselves strong enough, and[4] strenuously employed life to follow, it must be pronounced below the historian's dignity to allow them more than a transitory glance. Neither originality, nor selection and combination of materials scattered over the various classes of Art by others, have much right to attention from him who only investigates the real progress of Art, if the first proves to have added nothing essential to the system by novelty, and the second to have only diluted energy, and by a popular amalgama to have pleased the vulgar. Novelty, without enlarging the circle of knowledge, may delight or strike, but is nearer allied to whim than to invention; and an eclectic system, without equality of parts, as it originated in want of comprehension, totters on the brink of mediocrity.

The first ideas of Expression, Character, Form, Chiaroscuro, and Colour, originated in Tuscany: Masaccio, Lionardo da Vinci, M. Agnolo, Bartolomeo della Porta. The first was carried off before he could give more than hints of dramatic composition; the second appears to have established character on physiognomy, and to have seen the first vision of chiaroscuro, though he did not penetrate the full extent of[5] its charm; the third had power, knowledge, and life sufficiently great, extensive, and long, to have fixed style on its basis, had not an irresistible bias drawn off his attention from the modesty and variety of Nature; Baccio gave amplitude to drapery, and colour to form.

Of the Tuscan School that succeeded these, the main body not only added nothing to their discoveries, but, if their blind attachment to the singularities rather than the beauties of the third be excepted, equally inattentive to expression, character, propriety of form, the charms of chiaroscuro, and energies of colour, contented themselves to give to tame or puerile ideas, obvious and common-place conceptions, a kind of importance by mastery of execution and a bold but monotonous and always mannered outline; and though Andrea del Sarto, with Francia Bigio, Giacopo da Pontormo, and Rosso, may be allowed to have thought sometimes for themselves and struck out paths of their own, will it be asserted that they enlarged or even filled the circle traced out before? The most characteristic work of Andrea's original powers, is, no doubt, the historic series in S. Giovanni dei Scalzi; yet, when compared[6] with the patriarchal simplicity of the groups in the Lunette of the Sistine Chapel, the naïveté of his characters and imagery will be found too much tainted with contemporary, local, and domestic features, for Divine, Apostolic, and Oriental agents. His drapery, whenever he escapes from the costume of the day, combines with singular felicity the breadth of the Frati, and the acute angles of Albert Durer; but neither its amplitude, nor the solemn repose and tranquillity of his scenery, can supply the want of personal dignity, or consecrate vulgar forms and trivial features.

The Roman school like an Oriental sun rose, not announced by dawn, and, setting, left no twilight. Raffaello established his school on the Drama; its scenery, its expression, its forms; History, Lyrics, Portrait, became under his hand the organs of passion and character. With his demise the purity of this principle vanished. Julio Romano, too original to adopt, formed a school of his own at Mantoua, which, as it was founded on no characteristic principle, added nothing to Art, and did not long survive its founder. Polydoro Caldara was more ambitious to emulate the forms of the antique than[7] to propagate the style of his master, which was not comprehended by Penny, called Il Fattore, mangled by Perrino del Vaga, became common-place in the hands of the Zuccari, barbarous manner during the usurpation of Giuseppe Cesari, sunk to tameness in the timid imitation of Sacchi and Maratta, and expired under the frigid method of Mengs.

A certain national, though original character, marks the brightest epoch of the Venetian School. However deviating from each other, Tiziano, Tintoretto, Jacopo da Ponte, and Paolo Veronese, acknowledge but one element of imitation, Nature herself: this principle each bequeathed to his school, and no attempt to adulterate its simplicity by uniting different methods, distinguishes their immediate successors: hence they preserved features of originality longer than the surrounding schools, whom the vain wish to connect incompatible excellence, soon degraded to mediocrity, and from that plunged to insignificance.

If what is finite could grasp infinity, the variety of Nature might be united by individual energy; till then the attempt to amalgamate her scattered beauties by the imbecility[8] of Art, will prove abortive. Genius is the pupil of Nature; perceives, is dazzled, and imperfectly transmits one of her features: thus saw M. Agnolo, Raffaello, Tiziano, Correggio; and such were their technic legacies, as inseparable from their attendant flaws, as in equal degrees irreconcilable. That Nature is not subject to decrepitude, is proved by the superiority of modern over ancient science; what hinders modern Art to equal that of classic eras, is the effect of irremovable causes.

But I hasten to the principal object of this Lecture, the consideration of the technic character of Lionardo da Vinci, one, and in my opinion the first of the great restorers of modern Art, as deduced from his most important work, the Last Supper, surviving as a whole in the magnificent copy of Marco Uggione, rescued from a random pilgrimage by the courage and vigilance of our President, and by the Academy made our own. The original of this work, the ultimate test of his most vigorous powers, the proof of his theory, and what may be called with propriety the first characteristic composition since the revival of the Art, was the principal ornament of the Refectory in[9] the Dominican Convent of S. Maria delle Gratie, at Milan.

Let us begin with the centre, the seat of the principal figure, from which all the rest emanate like rays. Sublimely calm, the face of the Saviour broods over the immense, whilst every face and every limb around him, roused by his mysterious word, fluctuate in restless curiosity and sympathetic pangs.

The face of the Saviour is an abyss of thought, and broods over the immense revolution in the economy of mankind, which throngs inwardly on his absorbed eye—as the spirit creative in the beginning over the water's darksome wave—undisturbed and quiet. It could not be lost in the copy before us: how could its sublime conception escape those who saw the original? It has survived the hand of Time in the study which Lionardo made in crayons, exhibited with most of the attendant heads in the British Gallery; and even in the feebler transcript of Del Testa.

I am not afraid of being under the necessity of retracting what I am going to advance, that neither during the splendid period immediately subsequent to Lionardo, nor in those which[10] succeeded to our own time, has a face of the Redeemer been produced which, I will not say equalled, but approached the sublimity of Lionardo's conception, and in quiet and simple features of humanity embodied divine, or, what is the same, incomprehensible and infinite powers. To him who could contrive and give this combination, the unlimited praise lavished on the inferior characters who surround the hero, whilst his success in that was doubted—appears to me not only no praise, but a gross injustice.

Yet such was the judgment of Vasari, and in our days of Lanzi, both founded on the pretended impossibility of transcribing the beauty of forms and the varied energies of expression distributed by the artist among the disciples. "The moment," says Lanzi, and says well, "is that in which the Saviour says to the Disciples, "One of you will betray me!" On every one of the innocent men the word acts like lightning: he who is at a greater distance, distrusting his own ears, applies to his neighbour; others, according to their variety of character, betray raised emotions. One of them faints,[11] one is fixed in astonishment; this wildly rises, the simple candour of another tells that he cannot be suspected: Judas, meanwhile, assumes a look of intrepidity, but, though he counterfeits innocence, leaves no doubt of being the traitor. Vinci used to tell, that for a year he wandered about, perplexed with the thought how to embody in one face the image of so black a mind; and frequenting a village which a variety of villains haunted, he met at last, by the help of some associated features, with his man. Nor was his success less conspicuous in furnishing both the Jameses with congenial and characteristic beauty; but being unable to find an ideal superior to theirs for Christ, he left the head, as Vasari affirms, imperfect, though Arminine ascribes a high finish even to that."

Thus is the modesty and diffidence of the artist, who, in the midst of the most glorious success, always sought and wished for more, brought as evidence against him by all his pretended judges and critics, if we except the single Bottari, who finds in it, with the highest finish, all the fortitude of mind characteristic of the Saviour, united to lively consideration of[12] the suffering that awaited him—though even that is, in my opinion, below the conception of Lionardo.

Lest those who have read and recollect the character of Lionardo which I have submitted to the public, should, from the predilection with which I have dwelt on what I think the principal feature of his performance, the face and attitude of the hero, suspect I shift my ground, or charge me with inconsistency, I repeat what I said then, when I was nearly unacquainted with this work, that the distinguishing feature of his powers lay in the delineation of character, which he often raised to a species, and not seldom degraded to caricature. The triumphant proof of both is the great performance before us; the same mind that could unite divine power with the purest humanity, by an unaccountable dereliction, not only of the dignity due to his subject, but of sound sense, thought it not beneath him to haunt the recesses of deformity to unkennel a villain. Did he confine villainy to deformity? If he had, he would have disdained to give him two associates in feature; for the face of him who holds up his finger, and his who[13] argues on the left extremity of the table, seem to have proceeded, if not absolutely from the same, from a very similar mould, yet they are in the number of the elect, and, though on the brink of caricature, have the air of good men. Expression alone separates them from the traitor, whom incapacity of remorse, hatred, rage at being discovered, and habitual meanness, seem to have divided into equal shares.

The portrait of Cesar Borgia, by Giorgione, now hung up for your study in the Academy for Painting, proves that the most atrocious mind may lurk under good, sedate, and even handsome features. Though his hand were not drawing a dagger, who would expect mercy or remorse from the evil methodized villainy of that eye? But Judas was capable of remorse; intolerant of the dreadful suffering with which the horrid act had overwhelmed him, he rushed on confession of his crime, restitution, and suicide.

To the countenance and attitude of St. John, blooming with youth, innocent, resigned, partaking perhaps somewhat too much of the feminine, and those of the two James's invigorated by the strength of virility, energetic[14] and bold, none will refuse a competent praise of varied beauty; but they neither are nor ought to be ideal, and had they been so, they could neither compete nor interfere with the sublimity that crowns the Saviour's brow, and stamps his countenance with the God.

The felicity, novelty, and propriety of Lionardo's conception and invention, are powerfully seconded by every part of execution:—the tone which veils and wraps actors and scene into one harmonious whole, and gives it breadth; the style of design, grand without affectation, and, if not delicate or ideal, characteristic of the actors; the draperies folded with equal simplicity, elegance, and costume, with all the propriety of presenting the highest finish, without anxiety of touch, or thronging the eye.

So artless is the assemblage of the figures, that the very name of composition seems to degrade what appears arranged by Nature's own hand. That the nearest by relation, characters and age, should be placed nearest the master of the feast, and of course attract the eye soonest, was surely the most natural arrangement; but if they are conspicuous, they[15] are not so at the expense of the rest: distance is compensated by action; the centre leads to all, as all lead to the centre. That the great restorer of light and shade sacrificed the effects and charms of chiaroscuro at the shrine of character, raised him at once above all his future competitors; changes admiration to sympathy, and makes us partners of the feast.

As expression sprang from the subject, so it gave rise to competition. That Raffaello was acquainted with Lionardo's work, and felt its power, is evident from his composition, engraved by M. Antonio: finding invention anticipated, he took refuge in imitation, and filled it with sentiments of his own; whether, beyond the dignity of attitude, he attempts to approach the profundity of Lionardo's Christ, cannot, from a print of very moderate dimensions, be decided. In the listening figure of Judas, with equal atrocity of guilt he appears to have combined somewhat more of apostolic consequence.

The well-known Last Supper of the Loggia, painted, or what is more probable, superintended by Raffaello, is, by being made a night scene, by contrast and chiaroscuro, become an[16] original conception; but as it presents little more than groups busy to arrange themselves for sitting down or breaking up, it cannot excite more interest than what is due to contrast and effect, and active groups eager to move yet not tumultuary.

But if Lionardo disdained to consult the recesses of composition and the charms of artificial chiaroscuro, he did not debase his work to mere apposition: uniting the whole by tone, he gave it substance by truth of imitation, and effect by the disposition of the characters; the groups flanking each side of the Saviour, emerge, recede, and support each other with a roundness, depth, and evidence which leave all attempts at emendation or improvement hopeless. But why should I attempt to enumerate beauties which are before you, and which if you do not perceive yourselves, no words of mine can ever make you feel?

The universality of Lionardo da Vinci is become proverbial: but though possessed of every element, he rather gave glimpses than a standard of form; though full of energy, he had not powers effectually to court the various graces he pursued. His line was free from meagreness, and his forms presented volume,[17] but he appears not to have ever been much acquainted, or to have sedulously sought much acquaintance, with the Antique. Character was his favourite study, and character he has often raised from an individual to a species, and as often depressed to caricature. The strength of his execution lay in the delineation of male heads; those of his females owe nearly all their charms to chiaroscuro, of which he is the supposed inventor: they are seldom more discriminated than the children they fondle; they are sisters of one family. The extremities of his hands are often inelegant, though timorously drawn, like those of Christ among the Doctors in the picture we lately saw exhibited. Lionardo da Vinci touched in every muscle of his forms the master-key of the passion he wished to express, but he is ideal only in chiaroscuro.

Such was the state of the Art before the appearance of M. Agnolo and Raffaello, and the establishment of style.

Of M. Agnolo it is difficult to decide who have understood less, his encomiasts or his critics, though both rightly agree in dating from him an epoch—those of the establishment, these[18] of the subversion of Art.

It is the lot of Genius to be opposed, and to be invigorated by opposition. All extremes touch each other: frigid praise and frigid censure wait on easily attainable or common powers: but the successful adventurer in the realms of Discovery, in spite of the shrugs, checks, and sneers of the timid, the malign, and the envious, leaps on an unknown or long lost shore, ennobles it with his name, and grasps immortality.

M. Agnolo appeared, and soon discovered that works worthy of perpetuity could neither be built on defective and unsubstantial forms, nor on the transient whim of fashion and local sentiment; that their stamina were the real stamina of Nature, the genuine feelings of humanity; and planned for painting what Homer had planned for poetry, the epic part, which, with the utmost simplicity of a whole, should unite magnificence of plan and endless variety of subordinate parts. His line became generic, but perhaps too uniformly grand: character and beauty were admitted only as far as they could be made subservient to grandeur. The child, the female, meanness, deformity, were by him[19] indiscriminately stamped with grandeur. A beggar rose from his hand the patriarch of poverty; the hump of his dwarf is impressed with dignity; his women are moulds of generation; his infants teem with the man; his men are a race of giants. This is the "terribil via," this is that "magic circle," in which we are told that none durst move but he. No, none but he who makes sublimity of conception his element of form. M. Agnolo himself offers the proof: for the lines that bear in a mass on his mighty tide of thought in the Gods and Patriarchs and Sibyls of the Sistine Chapel, already too ostentatiously show themselves in the Last Judgement, and rather expose than support his ebbing powers in the Chapel of Paul. Considered as a whole, the Crucifixion of St. Peter and the Conversion of Paul, in that place, are the dotage of M. Agnolo's style; but they have parts which make that dotage more enviable than the equal vigour of mediocrity.

With what an eye M. Agnolo contemplated the Antique, we may judge from his Bacchus, the early production of his youth: in style it is at least equal, perhaps in pulp and fleshiness superior, to what is called the Antique Roman[20] Style. His idea seems to have been the personification of youthful inebriety, but it is the inebriety of a superior being, not yet forsaken by grace, not yet relinquished by mind. In more advanced years, the Torso of Apollonius became his standard of form. But the Dæmons of Dante had too early tinctured his fancy to admit in their full majesty the Gods of Homer and of Phidias.

Such was the opinion formed of the plan and style of M. Agnolo by the judges, the critics, the poets, the artists, the public, of his own and the following age, from Bembo to Ariosto, from Raffaello to Tiziano, down to Agostino and Annibale Carracci. Let us now compare it with the technical verdict given by the greatest professional critic, on the Continent, of our times. "M. Agnolo," says Mengs, "seeking always to be grand, was perhaps only bulky, and by the perpetual use of a convex line, over-spanned the forms and irrecoverably lost the line of Nature. This charged style attended him in his youth, and engrossed him when a man. For this reason his works will always be much inferior to the antique of the good style; for though they made robust and muscular[21] figures, they never made them heavy:—an instance is the Hercules of Glycon, who, though so bulky, and of form so majestic, is easily seen to be swift like a stag, and elastic like a ball. The style of M. Agnolo could not give similar ideas, for the joints of his figures are too contracted, and seem only made for the posture into which he puts them. The forms of his flesh are too round, his muscles of a mass and shape always similar, which hides their springs of motion; nor do you ever see in his works a muscle in repose, than which a greater fault Design knows not. He perfectly knew what place each muscle ought to occupy, but never gave its form. Nor did he understand the nature of tendons, as he made them equally fleshy from end to end, and his bones too round. Raffaello partook of all these defects, without ever reaching the profundity of his muscular theory. Raffaello's strength lay in characterizing aged and nervous frames; he was too hard for delicacy, and in figures of grandeur an exaggerated copy of M. Agnolo." So far Mengs.

M. Agnolo appears to have had no infancy; if he had, we are not acquainted with it. His[22] earliest works are equal in principle and compass of execution to the vigorous proofs of his virility. Like an oriental sun, he burst upon us at once, without a dawn. Raffaello Sanzio we see in his cradle, we hear him stammer, but propriety rocked the cradle, and character formed his lips. Even in the trammels of Pietro Perugino, dry and servile in his style of design, he traced what was essential, and separated it from what was accidental in his model. The works of Lionardo da Vinci and the Cartoon of Pisa are said to have invigorated his eye, but it was the Antique that completed the system which he had begun to establish on Nature; from them he learned discrimination and choice of forms. He found that in the construction of the body the articulations of the bones were the true cause of ease and grace in the action of the limbs, and that the knowledge of this was the reason of the superiority of antique design. He found that certain features were fittest for certain expressions and peculiar to certain characters; that such a head, such hands, such feet, are the stamen or the growth of such a body, and on physiognomy established homogeneousness.[23] Of all artists he was the greatest, the most precise, the most acute observer. When he designed, he first attended to the primary intention and motive of his figure, next to its general measure, then to the bones and their articulations; from them to the principal muscles, or the muscles eminently wanted, and their attendant nerves, and at last to the more or less essential minutiæ. But the characteristic part of the subject is infallibly the characteristic part of his design, if it be formed even by a few rapid or a single stroke of his pen or pencil. The strokes themselves are characteristic, they follow or indicate the texture or fibre of the part; flesh in their rounding, nerves in straight, bones in angular touches.

Such was the felicity and such the propriety of Raffaello when employed in the dramatic evolutions of character,—both suffered when he attempted to abstract the forms of sublimity or beauty. The painter of humanity not often wielded with success superhuman weapons. His Gods never rose above prophetic or patriarchial forms: if the finger of M. Agnolo impressed the divine countenance oftener with sternness than awe, the Gods of Raffaello[24] are sometimes too affable and mild, like him who speaks to Jacob in the ceiling of the Vatican; sometimes too violent, like him who separates light from darkness in the Loggia: but though made chiefly to walk with dignity on earth, he soared above it in the mild effulgence and majestic rapture of Christ on Tabor, not indeed as we see his face now from the repairs of the manufacturers in the Louvre, and still more in the frown of the angelic countenance that withers all the strength of the warrior Heliodorus. Of ideal female beauty, though he himself, in his letter to Count Castiglione, tells us that from its scarcity in life he made attempts to reach it by an idea formed in his own mind, he certainly wanted that standard which guided him in character. His Goddesses and mythologic females are no more than aggravations of the generic forms of M. Agnolo. Roundness, mildness, sanctimony, and insipidity, compose the features and air of his Madonnas: transcripts of the nursery, or some favourite face. The Madonna del Impanato, the Madonna Bella, the Madonna della Sedia, and even the longer proportions and greater delicacy and dignity of the Madonna formerly in the collection[25] of Versailles, share more or less of this insipidity: it chiefly arises from the high, smooth, roundish forehead, the shaven vacuity between the arched semicircular eye-brows, their elevation above the eyes, and the ungraceful division, growth and scantiness of hair. This indeed might be the result of his desire not to stain the virgin character of sanctity with the most distant hint of coquetry or meretricious charms; for in his Magdalens, he throws it with luxuriant profusion, and surrounds the breast and shoulders with undulating waves and plaits of gold. The character of Mary Magdalen met his,—it was the character of a passion.

It is evident from every picture or design at every period of his art in which she had a part, that he supposed her enamoured when she follows the body of the Saviour to the tomb, or throws herself dishevelled over his feet, or addresses him when he bears his cross. The cast of her features, her forms, her action, are the character of love in agony. When character inspired Raffaello, his women became definitions of grace and pathos at once.


Such is the exquisite line and turn of the averted half-kneeling female with the two children among the spectators of Heliodorus. Her attitude, the turn of her neck, supplies all face, and intimates more than he ever expressed by features; and that she would not have gained by showing them, may be guessed from her companion on the foreground, who, though highly elegant and equally pathetic in her action, has not features worthy of either. The fact is, form and style were by Raffaello employed chiefly, if not always, as vehicles of character and pathos; the Drama is his element, and to that he has adapted them in a mode and with a propriety which leave all attempts at emendation hopeless: if his lines have been excelled or rivalled in energy, correctness, elegance,—considered as instruments of the passions, they have never been equalled, and as parts of invention, composition and expression relative to his story, have never been approached.

The result of these observations on M. Agnolo and Raffaello is this, that M. Agnolo drew in generic forms the human race; that Raffaello[27] drew the forms and characters of society diversified by artificial wants.

We find therefore M. Agnolo more sublime, and we sympathise more with Raffaello, because he resembles us more. When Reynolds said that M. Agnolo had more imagination, and Raffaello more fancy, he meant to say, that the one had more sublimity, more elementary fire; the other was richer in social imagery, in genial conceits, and artificial variety. Simplicity is the stamen of M. Agnolo; varied propriety, with character, that of Raffaello.

Of the great restorers of Art, the two we have considered, made Design and Style the basis of their plan, content with negative and unambitious colour; the two next inverted the principle, and employed Design and Style as vehicles of colour or of harmony.

The style of Tiziano's design has two periods: he began with copying what was before him without choice, and for some time continued in the meagre, anxious, and accidental manner of Giovanni Bellino; but discovering in the works of Giorgione that breadth of form produced breadth of colour, he endeavoured,[28] and succeeded, to see Nature by comparison, and in a more ample light. That he possessed the theory of the human body, needs not to be proved from the doubtful designs which he is said to have made for the anatomical work of Vesalio; that he had familiarized himself with the style of M. Agnolo, and burned with ambition to emulate it, is less evident from adopting some of his attitudes in the pictures of Pietro Martyre and the Battle of Ghiaradadda, than from the elemental conceptions, the colossal style, and daring foreshortenings which astonish in the Cain and Abel, the Abraham and Isaac, the Goliath and David, on the ceiling of the fabric of St. Spirito at Venice. Here, and here alone, is the result of that union of tone and style which, in Tintoretto's opinion, was required to make a perfect painter,—for in general the male forms of Tiziano are those of sanguine health, often too fleshy for character, less elastic than muscular, or vigorous without grandeur. His females are the fair dimpled Venetian race, soft without delicacy, too full for elegance, for action too plump; his infants are poised between both, and preferable to either. In portrait he has united character and resemblance[29] with dignity, and still remains unrivalled.

A certain national character marks the brightest æra of the Venetian school: however deviating from each other, Tiziano, Tintoretto, Bassan, and Paolo, acknowledged but one element of imitation, Nature herself. This principle each bequeathed to his followers; and no attempt to adulterate its simplicity, by uniting different methods, distinguished their immediate successors. Hence they preserved features of originality longer than the surrounding schools, whom the vain wish to connect incompatible excellence soon degraded to mediocrity, and from that plunged to insignificance.

The soft transitions from the convex to the concave line, which connect grandeur with lightness, form the style of Correggio; but using their coalition without balance, merely to obtain a breadth of demi-tint and uninterrupted tones of harmony, he became, from excess of roundness, oftener heavy than light, and frequently incorrect.

It is not easy, from the unaccountable obscurity in which his life is involved, to ascertain[30] whether he saw the Antique in sufficient degrees of quantity or beauty; but he certainly must have been familiar with modelling, and the helps of sculpture, to plan with such boldness, and conquer with such ease, the unparalleled difficulties of his foreshortenings. His grace is oftener beholden to convenience of place than elegance of line. The most appropriate, the most elegant attitudes were adopted, rejected, perhaps sacrificed to the most awkward ones, in compliance with his imperious principle: parts vanished, were absorbed, or emerged in obedience to it.

The Danaë, of which we have seen duplicates, the head excepted, he seems to have painted from an antique female torso. But ideal beauty of face, if ever he conceived, he never has expressed; his beauty is equally remote from the idea of the Venus, the Niobe, and the best forms of Nature. The Magdalen, in the picture of St. Girolamo of Parma, is beholden for the charms of her face to chiaroscuro, and that incomparable hue and suavity of bloom which scarcely permit us to discover the defects of forms not much above the vulgar. But that he sometimes reached the sublime, by[31] hiding the limits of his figures in the bland medium which inwraps them, his Jupiter and Io prove.

Such were the principles on which the Tuscan, the Roman, the Venetian, and the Lombard schools established their systems of style, or rather the manner which, in various directions and modes of application, perverted style. M. Agnolo lived to see the electric shock which his design had given to Art, propagated by the Tuscan and Venetian schools as the ostentatious vehicle of puny conceits and emblematic quibbles, or the palliative of empty pomp and degraded luxuriance of colour.

Of his imitators, the two most eminent are Pellegrino Tibaldi, called "M. Agnolo riformato" by the Bolognese Eclectics, and Francesco Mazzuoli, called Parmegiano.

Pellegrino Tibaldi penetrated the technic without the moral principle of his master's style; he had often grandeur of line without sublimity of conception; hence the manner of M. Agnolo is frequently the style of Pellegrino Tibaldi. Conglobation and eccentricity, an aggregate of convexities suddenly broken by rectangular, or cut by perpendicular lines, compose[32] his system. His fame principally rests on the Frescoes of the Academic Institute at Bologna, and the Ceiling of the Merchants' Hall at Ancona. It is probably on the strength of those, that the Carracci, his countrymen, are said to have called him their "M. Agnolo riformato,"—M. Agnolo corrected. I will not do that injustice to the Carracci to suppose, that for one moment they could allude by this verdict to the Ceiling and the Prophets and Sibyls of the Capella Sistina; they glanced perhaps at the technic exuberance of the Last Judgement, and the senile caprices of the Capella Paolina. These, they meant to inform us, had been pruned, regulated, and reformed by Pellegrino Tibaldi. Do his works in the Institute warrant this verdict? So far from it, that it exhibits little more than the dotage of M. Agnolo. The single figures, groups, and compositions of the Institute, present a singular mixture of extraordinary vigour and puerile imbecility of conception, of character and caricature, of style and manner.

The figure of Polypheme groping at the mouth of his cave for Ulysses, and the composition of Æolus granting to Ulysses favourable winds, are striking instances of both. Than[33] the Cyclops, M. Agnolo himself never conceived a form of savage energy, provoked by sufferings and revenge, with attitude and limbs more in unison; whilst the God of Winds is degraded to the scanty and ludicrous semblance of Thersites, and Ulysses with his companions travestied by the semi-barbarous look and costume of the age of Constantine or Attila.

From Pellegrino Tibaldi, the Germans, Dutch, and Flemings, Hemskerk, Goltzius, and Spranger, borrowed the compendium of the great Tuscan's peculiarities, dropsied the forms of vigour, or dressed the gewgaws of children in colossal shapes.

Parmegiano poised his line between the grace of Correggio and the energy of M. Agnolo, and from contrast produced Elegance; but instead of making propriety her measure, degraded her to affectation. That disengaged play of delicate forms, the "sueltezza" of the Italians, is the prerogative of Parmegiano, though nearly always obtained at the expense of proportion. He conceived the variety, but not the simplicity of beauty, and drove contrast[34] to extravagance. The figure of St. John, in the altar-piece of St. Salvador at Città di Castello, now at the Marquis of Abercorn's, and known from the print of Giulio Bonasone, which less imitates than exaggerates its original in the Cartoon of Pisa, is one proof among many: his action is the accident of his attitude; he is conscious of his grandeur, and loses the fervour of the apostle in the orator.

So his celebrated Moses, if I see right, has in his forms less of grandeur than agility, in his action more passion than majesty, and loses the legislator in the savage. This figure, together with Raphael's figure of God in the Vision of Ezekiel, is said to have furnished Gray with some of the master-traits of his Bard,—figures than which Painting cannot produce two more dissimilar: calm, placid contemplation, and the decided burst of passion in coalition.

Whilst M. Agnolo was doomed to live and brood over the perversion of his style, death prevented Raffaello from witnessing the gradual decay of his.

Such was the state of style, when, toward[35] the decline of the sixteenth century, Lodovico Carracci, with his cousins Agostino and Annibale, founded at Bologna, on the hints caught from Pellegrino Tibaldi, that Eclectic School which, by selecting the beauties, correcting the faults, supplying the defects, and avoiding the extremes of the different styles, attempted to form a perfect system. The specious ingredients of this technic panacea have been preserved in a complimentary sonnet of Agostino Carracci, and are compounded of the design and symmetry of Raffaello, the terrible manner of M. Agnolo, the sovereign purity of Correggio's style, Tiziano's truth and nature, Tintoretto's and Paolo's vivacity and chiaroscuro, Lombardy's tone of colour, the learned invention of Primaticcio, the decorum and solidity of Pellegrino Tibaldi, and a little of Parmegiano's grace, all amalgamated by Niccolo dell' Abbate.

I shall not attempt a parody of this prescription by transferring it to Poetry, and prescribing to the candidate for dramatic fame the imitation of Shakspeare, Otway, Jonson, Milton, Dryden, Congreve, Racine, Addison, as amalgamated by Nicholas Rowe. Let me only ask whether such a mixture of demands[36] ever entered with equal evidence the mind of any one artist, ancient or modern; whether, if it be granted possible that they did, they were ever balanced with equal impartiality; and grant this, whether they ever were or could be executed with equal felicity? A character of equal universal power is not a human character; and the nearest approach to perfection can only be in carrying to excellence one great quality with the least alloy of collateral defects: to attempt more will probably end in the extinction of character, and that, in mediocrity—the cypher of Art.

And were the Carracci such? Separate the precept from the practice, the artist from the teacher, and the Carracci are in possession of my submissive homage. Lodovico is the inventor of that solemn hue, that sober twilight, which you have heard so often recommended as the proper tone of historic colour. Agostino, with learning, taste, and form, combined Corregiesque tints. Annibale, inferior to both in sensibility and taste, in the wide range of talent, undaunted execution and academic prowess, left either far behind. But if he preserved[37] the breadth of the style we speak of, he added nothing to its dignity; his pupils were inferior to him, and to his pupils, their successors. Style continued to linger, with fatal symptoms of decay, in Italy; and if it survives, has not yet found a place to re-establish its powers on this side of the Alps.






Such is the influence of the plastic Arts on society, on manners, sentiments, the commodities and the ornaments of life, that we think ourselves generally entitled to form our estimate of times and nations by its standard. As our homage attends those whose patronage reared them to a state of efflorescence or maturity, so we pass with neglect, or pursue with contempt, the age or race which want of culture or of opportunity averted from developing symptoms of a similar attachment.

A genuine perception of Beauty is the highest degree of education, the ultimate polish of man; the master-key of the mind, it makes us better than we were before. Elevated or charmed by the contemplation of superior works of Art, our mind passes from the images themselves to their authors, and from them to[42] the race which reared the powers that furnish us with models of imitation or multiply our pleasures.

This inward sense is supported by exterior motives in contact with a far greater part of society, whom wants and commerce connect with the Arts; for nations pay or receive tribute in proportion as their technic sense exerts itself or slumbers. Whatever is commodious, amene, or useful, depends in a great measure on the Arts: dress, furniture, and habitation owe to their breath what they can boast of grace, propriety, or shape: they teach Elegance to finish what Necessity invented, and make us enamoured of our wants.

This benign influence infallibly spreads or diminishes in proportion as its original source, a sense of genuine Beauty, flows from an ample or a scanty vein, in a clear or turbid stream. As Taste is adulterated or sinks, Ornament takes a meagre, clumsy, barbarous, ludicrous, or meretricious form; Affectation dictates; Simplicity and elegance are loaded; interest vanishes: in a short time Necessity alone remains, and Novelty with Error go hand in hand.


These obvious observations on the importance of the Arts, lead to the question so often discussed, and at no time more important than ours—on the causes that raised them at various times, and among different nations—on the means of assisting their progress, and how to check their decay. Of much that has been said on it, much must be repeated, and something added.

The Greeks commonly lead the van of the arguments produced to answer this question. Their religious and civil establishments; their manners, games, contests of valour and of talents; the Cyclus of their Mythology, peopled with celestial and heroic forms; the honours, the celebrity of artists; the serene Grecian sky and mildness of the climate, are the causes supposed to have carried that nation within the ken of perfection.

Without refusing to each of these various advantages its share of effect, History informs us that if Religion and Liberty prepared a public, and spread a technic taste over all Greece, Athens and Corinth must be considered as the principal nurses of Art, without whose fostering care the general causes mentioned[44] could not have had so decided an effect; for nothing surely contributed so much to the gradual evolution of Art, as that perpetual opportunity which they presented to the artist of public exhibition; the decoration of temples, halls, porticoes, a succession of employments equally numerous, important, and dignified: hence that emulation to gain the heights of Art; the fervour of public encouragement, the zeal and gratitude of the artists were reciprocal: Polygnotus prepared with Cimon what Phidias with Pericles established, on public taste, Essential, Characteristic, and Ideal Styles.

Whether human nature admitted of no more, or other causes prevented a farther evolution of powers, nothing greater did arise; Polish, Elegance, and Novelty supplied Invention: here is the period of decay; the Art gradually sunk to mediocrity, and its final reward—Indifference.

The artist and the public are ever in the strictest reciprocity: if the Arts flourished nowhere as in Greece, no other nation ever interested itself with motives so pure in their establishment and progress, or allowed them so[45] ample a compass. As long as their march was marked with such dignity, whilst their union excited admiration, commanded attachment, and led the public, they grew, they rose; but when individually to please, the artist attempted to monopolize the interest due to Art, to abstract by novelty and to flatter the multitude, ruin followed. To prosper, the Art not only must feel itself free, it ought to reign: if it be domineered over, if it follow the dictate of Fashion or a Patron's whims, then is its dissolution at hand.

To attain the height of the Ancient was impossible for Modern Art, circumscribed by narrower limits, forced to form itself rapidly and on borrowed principles; still it owes its origin and support to nearly similar causes. During the fourteenth, and still more in the course of the fifteenth century, so much activity, so general a predilection for Art spread themselves over the greater part of Italy, that we are astonished at the farrago of various imagery produced at those periods. The artist and the Art were indeed considered as little more than craftsmen and a craft; but they were indemnified for the want of honours, by the dignity[46] of their employment, by commissions to decorate churches, convents, and public buildings.

Let no one to whom truth and its propagation are dear, believe or maintain that Christianism was inimical to the progress of Arts, which probably nothing else could have revived. Nothing less than Christian enthusiasm could give that lasting and energetic impulse whose magic result we admire in the works that illustrate the period of Genius and their establishment. Nor is the objection that England, France, and Germany professed Christianity, built churches and convents, and yet had no Art, an objection of consequence; because it might with equal propriety be asked, why it did not appear sooner in Italy itself. The Art forms a part of social education and the ultimate polish of man, nor can it appear during the rudeness of infant societies; and as, among the Western nations, the Italians were the first who extricated themselves from the bonds of barbarism and formed asylums for industry, Art and Science kept pace with the social progress, and produced their first legitimate essays among them.


How favourably religious enthusiasm operated on Art, their sympathetic revolutions still farther prove; they flourished, they languished, they fell together. As zeal relented and public grandeur gave way to private splendour, the Arts became the hirelings of Vanity and Wealth; servile they roamed from place to place, ready to administer to the whims and wants of the best bidder: in this point of sight we can easily solve all the phænomena which occur in the history of Art,—its rise, its fall, eclipse, and re-appearance in various places, with styles as different as various tastes.

The efficient cause, therefore, why higher Art at present is sunk to such a state of inactivity and languor that it may be doubted whether it will exist much longer, is not a particular one, which private patronage, or the will of an individual, however great, can remove; but a general cause, founded on the bent, the manners, habits, modes of a nation,—and not of one nation alone, but of all who at present pretend to culture. Our age, when compared with former ages, has but little occasion for great works, and that is the reason[48] why so few are produced:[1]—the ambition, activity, and spirit of public life is shrunk to the minute detail of domestic arrangements—every thing that surrounds us tends to show us in private, is become snug, less, narrow, pretty, insignificant. We are not, perhaps, the less happy on account of all this; but from such selfish trifling to expect a system of Art built on grandeur, without a total revolution, would only be less presumptuous than insane.

What right have we to expect such a revolution in our favour?

Let us advert for a moment to the enormous difference of difficulty between forming and amending the taste of a public—between legislation and reform: either task is that of Genius; both have adherents, disciples, champions; but persecution, derision, checks will generally oppose the efforts of the latter, whilst submission, gratitude, encouragement, attend the smooth march of the former. No madness is so incurable as wilful perverseness; and when men can once, with Medea, declare that they know what is best, and approve of it, but must, or choose to follow the worst, perhaps a revolution[49] worse to be dreaded than the disease itself, must precede the possibility of a cure. Though, as it has been observed, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries granted to the artists little more than the attention due to ingenious craftsmen; they were, from the object of their occupations and the taste of their employers, the legitimate precursors of M. Agnolo and Raffaello, who did no more than raise their style to the sublimity and pathos of the subject. These trod with loftier gait and bolder strides a path, on which the former had sometimes stumbled, often crept, but always advanced: the public and the artist went hand in hand—but on what spot of Europe can the young artist of our day be placed to meet with circumstances equally favourable? Arm him, if you please, with the epic and dramatic powers of M. Agnolo and Raffaello, where are the religious and civic establishments, where the temples and halls open to receive, where the public prepared to call them forth, to stimulate, to reward them?

Idle complaints! I hear a thousand voices reply! You accuse the public of apathy for the Arts, while public and private exhibitions[50] tread on each other's heels, panorama opens on panorama, and the splendour of galleries dazzles the wearied eye, and the ear is stunned with the incessant stroke of the sculptor's hammer, and our temples narrowed by crowds of monuments shouldering each other to perpetuate the memory of Statesmen who deluded, or of Heroes who bled at a Nation's call! Look round all Europe—revolve the page of history from Osymandias to Pericles, from Pericles to Constantine—and say what age, what race stretched forth a stronger arm to raise the drooping genius of Art? Is it the public's fault if encouragement is turned into a job, and dispatch and quantity have supplanted excellence and quality, as objects of the artist's emulation?—And do you think that accidental and temporary encouragement can invalidate charges founded on permanent causes? What blew up the Art, will in its own surcease terminate its success. Art is not ephemeral; Religion and Liberty had for ages prepared what Religion and Liberty were to establish among the ancients: the germ of the Olympian Jupiter, and the Minerva of Phidias, lay in the Gods of Aëgina, and that of Theseus, Hercules,[51] and Alcibiades in the blocks of Harmodios and Aristogiton.

If the revolution of a neighbouring nation emancipated the people from the yoke of superstition, it has perhaps precipitated them to irreligion. He who has no visible object of worship is indifferent about modes, and rites, and places; and unless some great civil provisional establishment replaces the means furnished by the former system, the Arts of France, should they disdain to become the minions and handmaids of fashion, may soon find that the only public occupation left for them will be a representation of themselves, deploring their new-acquired advantages. By a great establishment, I mean one that will employ the living artists, raise among them a spirit of emulation dignified by the objects of their occupation, and inspire the public with that spirit; not an ostentatious display of ancient and modern treasures of genius, accumulated by the hand of conquest or of rapine. To plunder the earth was a Roman principle, and it is not perhaps matter of lamentation that Modern Rome, by a retaliation of her own principle, is made to pay the debt contracted with mankind. But[52] let none fondly believe that the importation of Greek and Italian works of Art is an importation of Greek and Italian genius, taste, establishments and means of encouragement; without transplanting and disseminating these, the gorgeous accumulation of technic monuments is no more than a dead capital, and, instead of a benefit, a check on living Art.

With regard to ourselves, the barbarous, though then perhaps useful rage of image-breakers in the seventeenth century, seems much too gratuitously propagated as a principle in an age much more likely to suffer from irreligion than superstition. A public body inflamed by superstition, suffers, but it suffers from the ebullitions of radical heat, and may return to a state of health and life; whilst a public body plunged into irreligion, is in a state of palsied apathy, the cadaverous symptom of approaching dissolution. Perhaps neither of these two extremes may be precisely our own state; we probably float between both. But surely in an age of inquiry and individual liberty of thought, when there are almost as many sects as heads, there was little danger that the admission of Art to places of devotion[53] could ever be attended by the errors of idolatry; nor have the motives which resisted the offer of ornamenting our churches perhaps any eminent degree of ecclesiastic or political sagacity to recommend them. Who would not rejoice if the charm of our Art, displaying the actions and example of the sacred Founder of our religion and of his disciples in temples and conventicles, contributed to enlighten the zeal, stimulate the feelings, sweeten the acrimony, or dignify the enthusiasm of their respective audiences? The source of the grand monumental style of Greece was Religion with Liberty. At that period the artist, as Pliny expresses himself, was the property of the public, or in other words, he considered himself as responsible for the influence of his works on public principle: with the decline of Religion and Liberty his importance and the Art declined; and though the Egyptian custom of embalming the dead and suffering the living to linger had not yet been adopted, from the organ of the public he became the tool of private patronage; and private patronage, however commendable or liberal, can no more supply the want of general encouragement, than the conservatories[54] and hotbeds of the rich, the want of a fertile soil or genial climate. Luxury in times of taste keeps up execution in proportion as it saps the dignity and moral principle of the Art; gold is the motive of its exertions, and nothing that ennobles man was ever produced by gold. When Nero transported the Pontic Apollo to the golden house, and furnished the colossal shoulders of the god with his own head, Sculpture lent her hand to legitimate the sacrilege: why should Painting be supposed to have been more squeamish when applied to decorate the apartments of his pleasures and the cabinet of Poppæa with Milesian pollutions, or the attitudes of Elephantis?

The effect of honours and rewards has been insisted on as a necessary incentive to artists: they ought indeed to be, they sometimes are, the result of superior powers; but accidental or partial honours cannot create Genius, nor private profusion supply public neglect. No genuine work of Art ever was or ever can be produced, but for its own sake; if the artist do not conceive to please himself, he never will finish to please the world. Can we persuade ourselves that all the treasures of the globe[55] could suddenly produce an Iliad or Paradise Lost, or the Jupiter of Phidias, or the Capella Sistina? Circumstances may assist or retard parts, but cannot make them: they are the winds that now blow out a light, now animate a spark to conflagration. Nature herself has set her barriers between age and age, between genius and genius, which no mortal overleaps; all attempts to raise to perfection at once, what can only be reared by a succession of epochs, must prove abhortive and nugatory: the very proposals of premiums, honours, and rewards to excite talent or rouse genius, prove of themselves that the age is unfavourable to Art; for, had it the patronage of the public, how could it want them?

We have now been in possession of an Academy more than half a century; all the intrinsic means of forming a style alternate at our commands; professional instruction has never ceased to direct the student; premiums are distributed to rear talent and stimulate emulation, and stipends are granted to relieve the wants of genius and finish education. And what is the result? If we apply to our Exhibition, what does it present, in the aggregate,[56] but a gorgeous display of varied powers, condemned, if not to the beasts, at least to the dictates of fashion and vanity? What therefore can be urged against the conclusion, that, as far as the public is concerned, the Art is sinking, and threatens to sink still deeper, from the want of demand for great and significant works? Florence, Bologna, Venice, each singly taken, produced in the course of the sixteenth century alone, more great historic pictures than all Britain taken together, from its earliest attempts at painting to its present efforts. What are we to conclude from this? that the soil from which Shakspeare and Milton sprang, is unfit to rear the Genius of Poetic Art? or find the cause of this seeming impotence in that general change of habits, customs, pursuits, and amusements, which for near a century has stamped the national character of Europe with apathy or discountenance of the genuine principles of Art?

But if the severity of these observations, this denudation of our present state moderates our hopes, it ought to invigorate our efforts for the ultimate preservation, and, if immediate restoration be hopeless, the gradual recovery of Art.[57] To raise the Arts to a conspicuous height may not perhaps be in our power; we shall have deserved well of posterity if we succeed in stemming their farther downfall, if we fix them on the solid base of principle. If it be out of our power to furnish the student's activity with adequate practice, we may contribute to form his theory; and Criticism founded on experiment, instructed by comparison, in possession of the labours of every epoch of Art, may spread the genuine elements of taste, and check the present torrent of affectation and insipidity.

This is the real use of our Institution, if we may judge from analogy. Soon after the middle of the sixteenth century, when the gradual evanescence of the great luminaries in Art began to alarm the public, an idea started at Florence of uniting the most eminent artists into a society, under the immediate patronage of the Grand Duke, and the title of Academy: it had something of a Conventual air, has even now its own chapel, and celebrates an annual festival with appropriate ceremonies; less designed to promote than to prevent the gradual debasement of Art. Similar associations[58] in other places were formed in imitation, and at the time of the Carracci even the private schools of painters adopted the same name. All, whether public or private, supported by patronage or individual contribution, were and are symptoms of Art in distress, monuments of public dereliction and decay of Taste. But they are at the same time the asylum of the student, the theatre of his exercises, the repositories of the materials, the archives of the documents of our art, whose principles their officers are bound now to maintain, and for the preservation of which they are responsible to posterity, undebauched by the flattery, heedless of the sneers, undismayed by the frown of their own time.

Permit me to part with one final observation. Reynolds has told us, and from him whose genius was crowned with the most brilliant success during his life, from him it came with unexampled magnanimity, "that those who court the applause of their own time, must reckon on the neglect of posterity." On this I shall not insist as a general maxim; all depends on the character of the time in which an artist lives, and on the motive of his exertions.[59] M. Agnolo, Raffaello, Tiziano, and Vasari, Giuseppe d'Arpino, and Luca Giordano, enjoyed equal celebrity during their own times. The three first enjoy it now, the three last are forgotten or censured. What are we to infer from this unequal verdict of posterity? What, but what Cicero says, that time obliterates the conceits of opinion or fashion, and establishes the verdicts of Nature? The age of Julio and Leone demanded genius for its own sake, and found it—the age of Cosmo, Ferdinand, and Urban, demanded talents and dispatch to flatter their own vanity, and found them too; but Cosmo, Ferdinand, and Urban, are sunk in the same oblivion, or involved in the same censure with their tools—Julio and Leone continue to live with the permanent powers which they had called forth.


[1] Vel duo vel nemo—turpe et miserabile!






1. Life is rapid, art is slow, occasion coy, practice fallacious, and judgment partial.

2. The price of excellence is labour, and time that of immortality.

3. Art, like love, excludes all competition, and absorbs the man.

4. Art is the attendant of nature, and genius and talent the ministers of art.

5. Genius either discovers new materials of nature, or combines the known with novelty.

6. Talent arranges, cultivates, polishes, the discoveries of genius.


7. Intuition is the attendant of genius; gradual improvement that of talent.

8. Arrangement presupposes materials: fruits follow the bud and foliage, and judgment the luxuriance of fancy.

9. The fiery sets his subject in a blaze, and mounts its vapours; the melancholy cleaves the rock, or gropes through thorns for his; the sanguine deluges all, and seizes none; the phlegmatic sucks one, and drops off with repletion.

10. Some enter the gates of art with golden keys, and take their seats with dignity among the demi-gods of fame; some burst the doors and leap into a niche with savage power; thousands consume their time in chinking useless keys, and aiming feeble pushes against the inexorable doors.

11. Heaven and earth, advantages and obstacles, conspire to educate genius.

12. Organization is the mother of talent;[65] practice its nurse; the senses its dominion; but hearts alone can penetrate hearts.

13. It is the lot of genius to be opposed, and to be invigorated by opposition: all extremes touch each other; frigid praise and censure wait upon attainable or common powers; but the successful adventurer in the realms of discovery leaps on an unknown or long-lost shore, ennobles it with his name, and grasps immortality.

14. Genius without bias, is a stream without direction: it inundates all, and ends in stagnation.

15. He who pretends to have sacrificed genius to the pursuits of interest or fashion; and he who wants to persuade you he has indisputable titles to a crown, but chooses to wave them for the emoluments of a partnership in trade, deserve equal belief.

16. Taste is the legitimate offspring of nature, educated by propriety: fashion is the bastard of vanity, dressed by art.


17. The immediate operation of taste is to ascertain the kind; the next, to appreciate the degrees of excellence.

Coroll.—Taste, founded on sense and elegance of mind, is reared by culture, invigorated by practice and comparison: scantiness stops short of it; fashion adulterates it: it is shackled by pedantry, and overwhelmed by luxuriance.

Taste sheds a ray over the homeliest or the most uncouth subject. Fashion frequently flattens the elegant, the gentle, and the great, into one lumpy mass of disgust.

If "foul and fair" be all that your gross-spun sense discerns, if you are blind to the intermediate degrees of excellence, you may perhaps be a great man—a senator—a conqueror; but if you respect yourself, never presume to utter a syllable on works of taste.

18. If mind and organs conspire to qualify you for a judge in works of taste, remember that you are to be possessed of three things—the subject of the work which you are to examine; the character of the artist as such; and, before all, of impartiality.

Coroll.—All first impressions are involuntary[67] and inevitable; but the knowledge of the subject will guide you to judge first of the whole; not to creep on from part to part, and nibble at execution before you know what it means to convey. The notion of a tree precedes that of counting leaves or disentangling branches.

Every artist has, or ought to have, a character or system of his own; if, instead of referring that to the test of nature, you judge him by your own packed notions, or arraign him at the tribunal of schools which he does not recognize—you degrade the dignity of art, and add another fool to the herd of Dilettanti.

But if, for reasons best known to yourself, you come determined to condemn what yet you have not seen, let me advise you to drop your pursuits of art for one of far greater importance—the inquiry into yourself; nor aim at taste till you are sure of justice.

19. Misconception of its own powers is the injurious attendant of genius, and the most severe remembrancer of its vanity.

Coroll.—Much of Leonardo da Vinci's life evaporated in useless experiment and quaint research; Michael Angelo perplexed the limbs[68] of grandeur with the minute ramifications of anatomy; Rafaelle forsook humanity to people a mythologic desert with clumsy gods and clumsier goddesses; Shakspeare, trusting time and chance with Hamlet and Othello, revised a frozen sonnet, or fondled his Adonis; whilst Milton dropt the trumpet that had astonished hell, left Paradise, and introduced a pedagogue to Heaven. When genius is surprised by such lethargic moments, we can forget that Johnson wrote Irene, and Hogarth made a solemn fool of Paul.

20. Reality teems with disappointment for him whose sources of enjoyment spring in the elysium of fancy.

21. Where perfection cannot take place, a very high degree of general excellence is impossible. Negligence is the shade of energy; where there is neither, expect mediocrity, the common expletive of society; capacity without elevation, industry without predilection, practice without choice.

Coroll.—"About this time," says Tacitus, "died Poppæus Sabinus, who, from a middling[69] origin, rose to imperial friendships, the consulate, and the honours of the triumph: he was selected for the space of four-and-twenty years to govern the most important provinces,[2] not for any distinguished merit of his own, but because he was equal to his task, and not above it."

Behold here the most comprehensive epitaph of mediocrity, and the most unambiguous solution of every riddle with which its brilliant success may have perplexed your mind.

22. Determine the principle on which you commence your career of art: some woo the art itself, some its appendages; some confine their view to the present, some extend it to futurity: the butterfly flutters round a meadow; the eagle crosses seas.

23. In ranging the phenomena of art, remember carefully, though you place it on the side of exceptions, that a decided bias is not always a sign of latent power; nor indolence, indifference, or even apathy, a sign of impotence.


24. Circumstances may assist or retard parts, but cannot make them: they are the winds that now blow out a light, now animate a spark to conflagration.

Coroll.—Augustus and Mæcenas are said to have made Virgil: what was it, then, that prevented Nerva, Trajan, Adrian, and the two Antonines, from producing at least a Lucan?

25. Deserve, but expect not, to be praised by your contemporaries, for any excellence which they may be jealous of being allowed to possess themselves; leave the dispensation of justice to posterity.

26. If wishes are the spawn of imbecility, precipitation is the bantling of fool-hardiness: legitimate will, investigates and acquires the means. Mistake not an itching finger for authentic will.

27. Some of the most genuine effusions of genius in art, some of the most estimable qualities in society, may be beholden for our homage to very disputable principles.

Coroll.—The admission of a master's humanity[71] to his slave supposes the validity of an execrable right; and the courage shown in a duel cannot be applauded without submitting to the dictates of feudal barbarity. Had the poet's conception prepared us for the rashness of Lear, the ambition of Macbeth's wife, and the villany of Iago, by the usual gradations of nature, he could not have rushed on our heart with the irresistibility that now subdues it. Had the line of Correggio floated in a less expanse, he would have lost that spell of light and shade which has enthralled all eyes; and Rubens, had he not invigorated bodies to hills of flesh, and tinged his pencil in the rainbow, would not have been the painter of magnificence.

28. Genius has no imitator. Some can be poets and painters only at second-hand: deaf and blind to the tones and motions of Nature herself, they hear or see her only through some reflected medium of art; they are emboldened by prescription.

29. Let him who has more genius than talent give up as impossible what he finds difficult.[72] Talent may mimic genius with success, and frequently impose on all but the first judges; but genius is awkward in the attempt to use the tools of talent.

Coroll.—Hyperides, Lysias, Isocrates, might imitate much of Demosthenes; but he would have become ridiculous by stooping to collect their beauties.[3] The spear of Roland might be couched to gain a lady's favour; but its sole ornament was the heart, torn from the breast-plate of her foe.

30. Mediocrity is formed, and talent submits, to receive prescription; that, the liveried attendant, this, the docile client of a patron's views or whims: but genius, free and unbounded as its origin, scorns to receive commands, or in submission, neglects those it received.

Coroll.—The gentle spirit of Rafaelle embellished the conceits of Bembo and Divizio, to scatter incense round the triple mitre of his prince; and the Vatican became the flattering annals of the court of Julius and Leo: whilst Michael Angelo refused admittance to master[73] and to times, and doomed his purple critic to hell.[4]

31. Distinguish between genius and singularity of character; an artist of mediocrity may be an odd man: let the nature of works be your guide.

32. The most impotent, the most vulgar, and the coldest artists generally arrogate to themselves the most vigorous, the most dignified, and the warmest subjects.

33. He has powers, dignity, and fire, who can inspire a trifle with importance.

34. Know that nothing is trifling in the hand of genius, and that importance itself becomes a bauble in that of mediocrity:—the shepherd's staff of Paris would have been an engine of death in the grasp of Achilles; the[74] ash of Peleus could only have dropped from the effeminate fingers of the curled archer.

35. Art either imitates or copies, selects or transcribes; consults the class, or follows the individual.

36. Imitative art, is either epic or sublime, dramatic or impassioned, historic or circumscribed by truth. The first astonishes, the second moves, the third informs.

37. Whatever hides its limits in its greatness—whatever shows a feature of immensity, let the elements of Nature or the qualities of animated being make up its substance, is sublime.

38. Whatever by reflected self-love inspires us with hope, fear, pity, terror, love, or mirth—whatever makes events, and time, and place, the ministers of character and pathos, let fiction or reality compose its tissue, is dramatic.

39. That which tells us, not what might be, but what is; circumscribes the grand and the[75] pathetic with truth of time, place, custom; what gives "a local habitation and a name," is historic.

Coroll.—No human performance is either purely epic, dramatic, or historic. Novelty and feelings will make the historian sometimes launch out into the marvellous; or will warm his bosom and extort a tear.

The dramatist while gazing at some tremendous feature, or the pomp of superior agency, will drop the chain he holds, and be absorbed in the sublime; whilst the epic or lyric poet, forgetting his solitary grandeur, will sometimes descend and mix with his agents.

The tragic and the comic dramatists formed themselves on Hector and Andromache, on Irus and Ulysses. The spirit from the prison-house breathes like the shade of Patroclus; Octavia and the daughter of Soranus[5] melt like Ophelia and Alcestis.

40. Those who have assigned to the plastic arts beauty, strictly so called, as the ultimate[76] end of imitation, have circumscribed the whole by a part.

Coroll.—The charms of Helen and of Niobe are instruments of sublimity: Meleager and Cordelia fall victims to the passions; Agrippina and Berenice give interest to truth.

41. Beauty, whether individual or ideal, consists in the concurrence of parts to one end, or the union of the simple and the various.

Coroll.—Whatever be your powers, assume not to legislate on beauty: though always the same herself, her empire is despotic, and subject to the anarchies of despotism, enthroned to-day, dethroned to-morrow: in treating subjects of universal claim, most has been done by leaving most to the reader's and spectator's taste or fancy. "It is difficult," says Horace, "to pronounce exactly to every man's eye and mind, what every man thinks himself entitled to estimate by a standard of his own."[6] The Apollo and Medicean Venus are not by all received as the canons of male and female beauty; and Homer's Helen is the finest woman[77] we have read of, merely because he has left her to be made up of the Dulcineas of his readers.

42. Beauty alone, fades to insipidity; and like possession cloys.

43. Grace is beauty in motion, or rather grace regulates the air, the attitudes and movements of beauty.

44. Nature makes no parade of her means—hence all studied grace is unnatural.

Coroll.—The attitudes of Parmegiano are exhibitions of studied grace. The grace of Guido is become proverbial, but it is the grace of the art.

45. All actions and attitudes of children are graceful, because they are the luxuriant and immediate offspring of the moment—divested of affectation, and free from all pretence.

Coroll.—The attitudes and motions of the figures of Rafaelle are graceful because they are poised by Nature.

[78] 46. Proportion, or symmetry, is the basis of beauty; propriety, of grace.

47. Creation gives, invention finds existence.

48. Invention in general is the combination of the possible, the probable, or the known, in a mode that strikes with novelty.

Coroll.—Invention has been said to mean no more than the moment of any fact chosen by the artist.

To say that the painter's invention is not to find or to combine its own subject, is to confine it to the poet's or historian's alms—is to annihilate its essence; it says in other words, that Macbeth or Ugolino would be no subjects for the pencil, if they had not been prepared by history and borrowed from Shakspeare and Dante.

49. Ask not—Where is fancy bred? in the heart? in the head? how begot? how nourished?

Coroll.—The critic who inquires whether in the madness of Lear, grief for the loss of empire, or the resentment of filial ingratitude preponderated—and he who doubts whether it be[79] within the limits of art to embody beings of fancy, agitate different questions, but of equal futility.

50. Genius may adopt, but never steals.

Coroll.—An adopted idea or figure in the works of genius will be a foil or a companion; but an idea of genius borrowed by mediocrity scorns the base alliance and crushes all its mean associates—it is the Cyclop's thumb, by which the pigmy measured his own littleness,—"or hangs like a giant's robe upon a dwarfish thief."

51. Genius, inspired by invention, rends the veil that separates existence from possibility; peeps into the dark, and catches a shape, a feature, or a colour, in the reflected ray.

52. Talent, though panting, pursues genius through the plains of invention, but stops short at the brink that separates the real from the possible. Virgil followed Homer in making Mezentius speak to Rhœbus, but shrank from the reply of the prophetic courser.[7]


53. Whenever the medium of any work, whether lines, colour, grouping, diction, becomes so predominant as to absorb the subject in its splendour, the work is degraded to an inferior order.

54. The painter, who makes an historical figure address the spectator from the canvass, and the actor who addresses a soliloquy to you from the stage, have equal claims to your contempt or pity.

55. Common-place figures are as inadmissible in the grand style of painting as common-place characters or sentiments in poetry.

Coroll.—Common-place figures were first introduced by the gorgeous machinists of Venice, and adopted by the Bolognese school of Eclectics; the modern school of Rome from Carlo Maratta to Battoni knew nothing else; and they have been since indiscriminately disseminated on this side of the Alps, by those whom mediocrity obliged to hide themselves in crowds, or a knack at grouping stimulated to aggregate a rabble.

[81] 56. The copious is seldom grand.

57. Glitter is the refuge of the mean.

58. All apparatus destroys terror, as all ornament grandeur: the minute catalogue of the cauldron's ingredients in Macbeth destroys the terror attendant on mysterious darkness; and the seraglio-trappings of Rubens annihilate his heroes.

59. All conceits, not founded upon probable combinations of nature, are absurd. The capricci of Salvator Rosa, and of his imitators, are, to the fiends of Michael Angelo, what the paroxysms of a fever are to the sallies of vigorous fancy.

60. Distinguish carefully between bold fancy and a daring hand; between the powers of nature and the acquisitions of practice: most of Salvator's banditti are a medley made up of starveling models and the shreds of his lumber-room brushed into notice by a daring pencil.

[82] 61. Distinguish between boldness and brutality of hand, between the face of beauty and the bark of a tree.

62. All mediocrity pretends.

63. Invention, strictly speaking, being confined to one moment, he invents best who in that moment combines the traces of the past, the energy of the present, and a glimpse of the future.

64. Composition has been divided into natural and ornamental: that is dictated by the subject, this by effect or situation.

65. Distinguish between composition and grouping: though none can compose without grouping, most group without composing.

Coroll.—The assertion that grouping may not be composing, has been said to make a distinction without a difference: as if there had not been, still are, and always will be squadrons of artists, whose skill in grouping can no more be denied, than their claim to invention, and consequently to composition, admitted, if invention[83] means the true conception of a subject and composition the best mode of representing it. After the demise of Lionardo and Michael Angelo, their successors, however discordant else, uniformly agreed to lose the subject in the medium. Raffaello had no followers. Tiziano and something of Tintoretto excepted, what instance can there be produced of composition in the works of the Venetian school? Are the splendid masquerades of Paolo to be dignified with that name? If composition has a part in the effusions of the great founder of the Lombard school, it surely did not arrange the celestial hubbub of his cupolas, content to inspire his Io, the Zingaro, Christ in the Garden, perhaps (I speak with diffidence) his Notte. So characteristically separate from real composition are the most splendid assemblages, the most happy combinations of figures, if founded on the mere power of grouping, that one of the first, and certainly the most courteous critic in Art of the age, in compliment to the Venetian and Flemish Schools, has thought proper to divide composition into legitimate and ornamental.

[84] 66. Ask not, what is the shape of composition? You may in vain climb the pyramid, wind with the stream, or point the flame; for composition, unbounded like Nature, and her subjects, though resident in all, may be in none of these.

67. The nature of picturesque composition is depth, or to come forward and recede.

Coroll.—Pausias, in painting a sacrifice, foreshortened the victim, and threw its shade on part of the surrounding crowd, to show its height and length.[8]

68. Sculpture composes in single groups or separate figures, but apposition is the element of basso-relievo.

Coroll.—Poussin painted basso-relievo, Algardi chiselled pictures.

69. He who treats you with all the figures of a subject save the principal, is as civil or important as he who invites you to dine with all a nobleman's family, the master only excepted:[85] this sometimes may be no loss, but surely you cannot be said to have dined with the chief of the family.

70. Examine whether an artist treats you with a subject, or only with some of its limbs: many see only the lines, some the masses, others the colours, and not a few the mere back-ground of their subject.

71. Second thoughts are admissible in painting and poetry only as dressers of the first conception; no great idea was ever formed in fragments.

72. He alone can conceive and compose, who sees the whole at once before him.

73. He who conceives the given point of a subject in many different ways, conceives it not at all. Appeal to the artist's own feelings; you will ever find him most reluctant to give up that part of it which he conceived intuitively, and readier to dismiss that which harassed him by alteration.

[86] 74. Metaphysical composition, if it be numerous, will be oftener mistaken for dilapidation of fragments than regular distribution of materials.

Coroll.—The School of Athens as it is called, by Raffaelle, communicates to few more than an arbitrary assemblage of speculative groups: yet if the subject be the dramatic representation of philosophy, as it prepares for active life, the parts of the building are not connected with more regular gradation than those groups: fitted by physical and intellectual harmony, man ascends from himself to society, from society to God.

75. No excellence of execution can atone for meanness of conception.

76. Grandeur of conception will predominate over the most vulgar materials—if in the subjects of Jesus before Pilate, by Rembrandt, and the Resuscitation of Lazarus by Lievens,[9] the materials had all been equal to the conception,[87] they would have been works of superhuman powers.

77. Repetition of attitude and gesture invigorates the expression of the grand: as a torrent gives its own direction to every object it sweeps along, so the impression of a sublime or pathetic moment absorbs the contrasts of inferior agents.

78. Tameness lies on this side of expression, grimace overleaps it; insipidity is the relative of folly, eccentricity of madness.

79. The fear of not being understood, or felt, makes some invigorate expression to grimace.

80. The temple of expression, like that of religion, has a portico and a sanctuary; that is trod by all, this only admits her votaries.

81. Propriety, modesty and delicacy, guard expression from the half-conceits of the weak, the intemperance of the extravagant, and the brutality of the vulgar.

[88] 82. Sensibility is the mother of sympathy. How can he paint Beauty who has not throbbed at her charms? How shall he fill the eye with the dew of humanity whose own never shed a tear for others? How can he form a mouth to threaten or command, who licks the hereditary spittle of princes?

83. He fails with greater dignity, who expresses the principal feature of his subject and misses or neglects all the secondary, than he who consumes his powers on what is subordinate and comes exhausted to the chief.

Coroll.—Those who have asserted that Lionardo, in finishing the Last Supper, was so exhausted by his exertions to trace the characters and emotions of the disciples, that, unable to fix the physiognomy of Christ, he found himself reduced to the necessity of leaving that head unfinished,—either never saw it, or if they did, were too low to reach the height, and too shallow to fathom the depth of the conception.

84. The coward, driven to despair, leaps back into the face of danger; and the tame, stimulated to exertions and aiming at expression,[89] puffs spirit into flutter; or tears the garb of passion and flourishes the rags.

85. Affectation cannot excite sympathy. How can you feel for him who cannot feel for himself? How can he feel for himself, who exhibits the artificial graces of studied attitude?

86. The loathsome is abominable, and no engine of expression.

Coroll. When Spenser dragged into light the entrails of the serpent, slain by the Red-cross Knight, he dreamt a butcher's dream and not a poet's: and Fletcher,[10] or his partner, when rummaging the surgeon's box of cataplasms and trusses to assuage hunger, solicited the grunt of an applauding sty.

87. Sympathy and disgust are the lines that separate terror from horror: though we shudder at, we scarcely pity what we abominate.

Coroll.—Rowe, when he congratulates the ghost on bidding Hamlet spare his mother, accuses her of a crime with which the poet[90] never charged her: that Shakspeare might be hurried on to horror let the "vile jelly" witness, which Cornwall treads from Gloster's bleeding sockets.

88. Expression animates, convulses, or absorbs form. The Apollo is animated; the warrior of Agasias is agitated; the Laocoon is convulsed; the Niobe is absorbed.

89. The being seized by an enormous passion, be it joy or grief, hope or despair, loses the character of its own individual expression, and is absorbed by the power of the feature that attracts it: Niobe and her family are assimilated by extreme anguish; Ugolino is petrified by the fate that sweeps his sons; and every metamorphosis from that of Clytie to the transfusion of Gianni Fucci[11] tells a new allegory of sympathetic power.

90. Reject with indignant incredulity all self-congratulations of conscious villainy, though they be uttered by Richard or by Iago.

91. The axe, the wheel, saw-dust, and the[91] blood-stained sheet are not legitimate substitutes of terror.

92. All division diminishes, all mixtures impair the simplicity and clearness of expression.

93. The epoch which discovered expression, or what the Greeks called "manners,"[12] is marked by Pliny as that which gave importance and effect to art.

Coroll.—Homer invested his heroes with ideal powers, but copied nature in delineating their moral character. Achilles, the irresistible in arms, clad in celestial armour, is a splendid being, created by himself; Achilles the fool of passions, is the real man delivered to him by tradition.

That the plastic artist should have had an aim beyond the poet is improbable, because the poet, in general, furnished him with materials; he composed his man of beauty and ideal limbs, not to obscure, but to invigorate his character and our attention.

The limbs, the form of Ajax hurling defiance[92] from the sea-swept rock unto the murky sky, were, no doubt, exquisite; but if the artist mitigated his expression, the indignation due to blasphemy from the spectator gave way to sterner indignation at the injustice of his gods.

The expression of the ancients, from the heights and depths of the sublime, descended and emerged to search every nook of the human breast; from the ambrosial locks of Zeus, and the maternal phantom fluttering round Ulysses,[13] to the half-slain mother, shuddering lest the infant should suck the blood from her palsied nipple, and the fond attention of Penelope dwelling on the relation of her returned son.[14]

The expression of the ancients explored nature even in the mute recesses, in the sullen organs of the brute; from the Argus of Ulysses, to the lamb, the symbol of expiatory resignation,[93] on an altar, and to the untameable feature of the toad.

The expression of the ancients roamed all the fields of licit and illicit pleasure; from the petulance with which Ctesilochus exhibited the pangs of a Jupiter delivered by celestial midwives, to the libidinous sports of Parrhasius, and from these to the indecent caricature[15] which furnished Crassus with a repartee.

The ancients extended expression even to the colour of their materials in sculpture: to express the remorse of Athamas, Aristonidas the Theban mixed metals; and Alcon formed a Hercules of iron, to express the perseverance of the God.[16]

94. Invention, before it attends to composition, group, or contrast, classes its subject and ascertains what kind of impression it is to make on the whole.

95. Invention never suffers the action to expire, nor the spectator's fancy to consume[94] itself in preparation, or stagnate into repose: it neither begins from the egg, nor coldly gathers the remains; for action and interest terminate together.

96. The middle moment, the moment of suspense, the crisis, is the moment of importance, big with the past and pregnant with the future: we rush from the flames with the Warrior of Agasias, and look forward to his enemy; or we hang in suspense over the wound of the Expiring Soldier,[17] and poise with every drop which yet remains of life.

97. Distinguish between the hero and the actor; between exertions of study and effects of impulse.

98. Know that expression has its classes. The frown of the Hercynian phantom may repress the ardour, but cannot subdue the dignity[95] of Drusus;[18] the terror of the Centurion at the Resurrection[19] is not the panic of his soldiers; the palpitation of Hamlet cannot degenerate into vulgar fright.

Coroll.—Of all the eclectics, Domenichino alone composed for expression; but his expression compared with Raffaello's is the expression of Theocritus compared with that of Homer. A detail of pretty images is rather calculated to diminish than to enforce energy with the whole: a lovely child taking refuge in the bosom of a lovely mother is an idea of nature, and pleasing in a lowly or domestic subject; but amidst the terrors of martyrdom, it is a shred tacked to a purple robe. In touching the circle that surrounds the Ananias of Raffaelle, you touch the electric chain; an irresistible spark darts from the last as from the first, and penetrates and subdues. At the Martyrdom of St. Agnes,[20] you saunter amidst the mob of a lane, where the silly chat of neighbouring gossips announces a topic as silly, till you find,[96] with indignation, that instead of a broken pot, or a petty theft, you are to witness a scene for which Heaven opens, the angels descend, and Jesus rises from his throne.

99. Expression alone can invest beauty with supreme and lasting command over the eye.

Coroll.—On beauty, unsupported by vigour and expression, Homer dwells less than on active deformity; he tells us, in three lines, that Nireus led three ships, his parentage, his form, his effeminacy; but opens in Thersites a source of comedy and entertainment.

Raffaelle not only subjected beauty to expression, but, at the command of invention, degraded it into a handmaid of deformity: thus the flowers of infancy and youth, virility and age, are scattered round the temple-gate, to impress us more by comparison with the distorted beings that crawl before and defy the powers of every other hand but the one delegated by Omnipotence.[21]

100. Imitation seems to cease, where the ideal part begins.

[97] 101. The imitator rises above the copyist by generalizing the individual to a class; the idealist mounts above the imitator by uniting classes.

102. The imitator, by comparison and taste, unites the scattered limbs of kindred excellence; the idealist, by the "mind's eye," fixes, personifies, embodies possibility: modes and degrees of single powers are the province of the former; the latter unites whatever implies no contradiction in an assemblage of varied excellence.

Coroll.—This is best explained by the Ilias. Each individual of Homer forms a class, and is circumscribed by one quality of heroic power; Achilles alone unites their different energies.

The height, the strength, the giant-stride and supercilious air of Ajax; the courage, the impetuosity, the never-failing aim, the never-bloodless stroke of Diomedes; the presence of mind, the powerful agility of Ulysses; the velocity of the lesser Ajax; Agamemnon's sense of prerogative and domineering spirit,—assign to each his separate class of heroism, yet lessen not their shades of imperfection. Ajax appears[98] the warrior rather than the leader; Ulysses is too prudent to be more than brave; the hawk more than the eagle predominates in the son of Oileus; Agamemnon has the prerogative of power, but not of heroism; Diomede alone might appear to have been raised too high, had he been endowed with an assuming spirit. So far the poet found, ennobled, classified; but all these he sums up, and creates an ideal form from their assemblage, in Achilles:—he is the grandson of Jupiter, the son of a goddess, the favourite of Heaven—[22]"What arms can fit me but the shield of Ajax? The lance maddens not in the grasp of Diomede to chase the flames from the ships. Let him confer with thee, Ulysses, and the rest." Such is his language. Before the pursuer of Hector vanishes the velocity of Ajax; from destroying Agamemnon he is prevented by Minerva; he gives his armour to the son of Menœtius, and disperses all but the gods; his spear none can throw, and none tear from the ground when thrown; a miracle alone can save those that oppose him singly; when else he fights, 'tis not to gain a battle, but to subvert Troy.

What Achilles is to his confederates, the[99] Apollo, the Torso, the statues[23] of the Quirinal, are to all other known figures of gods, of demi-gods and heroes.

103. Fancy not to compose an ideal form by mixing up a mass of promiscuous beauties; for, unless you consulted what was homogeneous and what was possible in Nature, you have hatched only a monster: this, we suppose, was understood by Zeuxis when he collected the beauties of Agrigentum to compose a perfect female.[24]

104. If there be any thing serious in art, it certainly then ought to be exerted when religion is the subject; but idolaters and iconoclasts seem to have conspired, either to banish the author of their faith to the cold sphere of[100] mythology, or to debase him to the dregs of mankind.

Coroll.—Majesty is the feature of the Supreme Being; no eternal Father of the moderns approaches the majesty of Jupiter.

The gods of Michael Angelo are stern. The gods of Raffaelle are affable and weak. The gods of Guido have the air of ancient courtiers.

In the race of Jupiter, majesty is tempered by emanations of beauty and of grace, but never softened into love.

The Christ of Michael Angelo is severe. The Christ of Raffaelle is poised between the heraldry of church tradition and the dignified mildness of his own character. The Christ of Guido is a well suspended corpse.

"The character corresponding with that of Christ," says a critic and a painter,[25] "is a mixture of the characters of Jupiter and Apollo, allowing only for the accidental expression of the moment." What magic shall amalgamate the superhuman airs of Rhea's and Latona's sons with sufferings and resignation? The[101] critic, in his exultation, forgot the leading feature of his master—humility.

Whatever be the ideal form of Christ, the Saviour of mankind, extending his arm to relieve the afflicted, the hopeless, the dying, is a subject that comes home to the breast of every one who calls himself after his name:—the artist is in the sphere of adoration with the Christian.

A great and beneficent character, eminently exerting unknown healing powers over the family of disease and pain, claims the participation of every feeling man, though he be no believer:—the artist is in the sphere of sentiment with the Deist or Mahometan.

But a mean man marked with the features of a mean sect, surrounded by a beggarly ill-shaped rabble and stupid masks—is probably a juggler that claims the attention of no one.

The Resurrection of Christ derives its interest from its rapidity, the Ascension from its slowness.

In the Resurrection, the hero, like a ball of fire, shoots up resistless from the bursting tomb, and scatters terror and astonishment,—what[102] apprehension could not dream of, what the eye had never beheld, and tongue had never uttered, blazes before us,—tumultuous agitation rends the whole. Such is the spirit of the Resurrection by Raffaelle.

The Ascension is the last of many similar scenes: no longer with the rapidity of a conqueror, but with the calm serenity of triumphant power, the hero is borne up in splendour, and gradually vanishes from those who, by repeated visions, had been taught to expect whatever was amazing. Silent and composed, with eyes more absorbed in adoration than wonder, they followed the glorious emanation, till addressed by the white-robed messengers of their departed King.

105. We are more impressed by Gothic than by Greek mythology, because the bands are not yet rent which tie us to its magic: he has a powerful hold of us, who holds us by our superstition or by a theory of honour.

106. The east expands, the north concentrates images.

[103] 107. Disproportion of parts is the element of hugeness,—proportion, of grandeur; all Oriental, all Gothic styles of Architecture, are huge; the Grecian alone, is grand.

108. The female, able to invigorate her taste without degenerating into a pedant, sloven or virago, may give her hand to the man of elegance, who scorns to sacrifice his sense to the presiding phantoms of an effeminate age.

109. The collector who arrogates not to himself the praise bestowed on his collections, and the reader who fancies himself not the author of the beauties he recites to an admiring circle—are not the last of men.

110. The epoch of rules, of theories, poetics, criticisms in a nation, will add to their stock of authors in the same proportion as it diminishes their stock of genius: their productions will bear the stamp of study, not of nature; they will adopt, not generate; sentiment will supplant images, and narrative invention; words will be no longer the dress but the limbs of[104] composition, and feeble elegance will supply the want of nerves.

111. He "lisped not in numbers, no numbers came to him," though he count his verses by thousands, who has not learnt to distinguish the harmony of two lines from that of a period—whom dull monotony of ear condemns to the drowsy psalmody of one returning couplet.

112. Some seek renown as the Parthians sought victory—by seeming to fly from it.

113. He has more than genius—he is a hero—who can check his powers in their full career to glory, merely not to crush the feeble on his road.

114. He who could have the choice, and should prefer to be the first painter of insects, of flowers, or of drapery, to being the second in the ranks of history, though degraded to the last class of art, would undoubtedly be in the first of men by the decision of Cæsar.

[105] 115. Such is the aspiring nature of man, that nothing wounds the copyist more sorely than the suspicion of being thought what he is.

116. He who depends for all upon his model, should treat no other subject but his model.

117. The praises lavished on the sketches of vigorous conception, only sharpen the throes of labour in finishing.

118. As far as the medium of an art can be taught, so far is the artist confined to the class of mere mechanics; he only then elevates himself to talent, when he imparts to his method, or his tool, some unattainable or exclusive excellence of his own.

119. None but the first can represent the first. Genius, absorbed by the subject, hastens to the centre; and from that point disseminates, to that leads back the rays: talent, full of its own dexterities, begins to point the rays before they have a centre, and aggregates a mass of secondary beauties.

[106] 120. The ear absorbed in harmonies of its own creation, is deaf to all external ones.

121. Harmony disposes, melody determines.

122. There is not a bauble thrown by the sportive hand of fashion, which may not be caught with advantage by the hand of art.

Coroll.—Shakspeare has been excused for seeking in the Roman senate what he knew all senates could furnish—a buffoon. Paulo of Verona, with equal strength of argument, may be excused for cramming on the foreground of an assembly or a feast, what he knew a feast or assembly could furnish—a dog, an ape, a scullion, a parrot, or a dwarf.

123. He has done much in art who raises your curiosity—he has done all who has raised it and keeps it up restless and uniform; prostrate yourself before the genius of Homer.

124. Difficulties surmounted to obtain what in itself is of no real value, deserve pity or contempt: the painted catalogue of wrinkles by Denner[107] are not offsprings of art, but fac-similes of natural history.

125. Love for what is called deception in painting, marks either the infancy or decrepitude of a nation's taste.

126. Indiscriminate execution, like the monkey's rasor, cuts shear asunder the parts it meant to polish.

Coroll.—Francesco Barbieri broke like a torrent over the academic rules of his masters. As the desire of disseminating character over every part of his composition made Raphael less attentive to its general effect, so an ungovernable itch of copying all that lay in his way made this man sacrifice order, costume, mind, to mere effects of colour: a map of flesh, a pile of wood, a sleeve, a hilt, a feathered hat, a table-cloth, or a gold-tissued robe, were for Guercino what a quibble was for Shakspeare. The countenance of his Dido has that sublimity of woe which affects us in the Æneis, but she is pierced with a toledo and wrapped in brocade; Anna is an Italian Duenna; the[108] scene, the Mole of Ancona or of Naples, the spectators a brace of whiskered Spaniards, and a deserting Amorino winds up the farce. In his St. Petronilla the rags and brawny limbs of two gigantic porters crush the effect which the saint ought to have, and all the rest is frittered into spots. Yet is that picture a tremendous instance of mechanic powers and intrepidity of hand. As a firm base supports, pervades, unites the tones of harmony, so a certain stern virility inspires, invigorates and gives a zest to all Guercino's colour. The gayer tints of Guido vanish before his as insipid,[26] Domenichino appears laboured, and the Carracci dim. Nor was Guercino a stranger to the genuine expressions of untaught nature, and there is more of pathos in the dog which he introduced caressing the returned prodigal, than in all the Farnese gallery; as the Argus of Ulysses, looking up at his old master, then dropping his head and dying, moves more than all the metamorphoses of Ovid. If his male figures be[109] brought to the test of style, it may be said, that he never made a man; their virility is tumour or knotty labour; to youth he gave emaciated lankness, and to old age little besides decrepitude and beards—meanness to all: and though he was more cautious in female forms, they owe the best part of their charms to chiaroscuro.

127. Execution has its classes.

Coroll.—Satan summoning the Princes of Hell stretched over the fiery flood; or the giant snake of the Norway seas hovering over a storm-vexed vessel, by Gerard Douw, or Vanderverf—are incongruous ideas; would be incongruous though Michael Angelo had planned their design and Rembrandt massed their light and shade.

128. It has been said, but let us repeat it: the proportion of will and power is not always reciprocal. A copious measure of will is sometimes assigned to ordinary and contracted minds; whilst the greatest faculties as frequently evaporate in indolence and languor.

[110] 129. Mighty execution of impotent conception, and vigour of conception with trembling execution, are coalitions equally deplorable.

130. He is a prince of artists and of men who knows the moment when his work is done. On this Apelles founded his superiority over his contemporaries; the knowledge when to stop, left Sylla nothing to fear, though disarmed; the want of knowing this, exposed Cæsar to the dagger of Brutus.

131. Next to him who can finish, is he who has hid from you that he cannot.

132. If finishing be to terminate all the parts of a performance in an equal degree, no artist ever finished his work. A great part of conception or execution is always sacrificed to some individual excellence which either he possesses or thinks he possesses. The colourist makes lines only the vehicle of colour; the designer subordinates hue to his line; the man of breadth or chiaroscuro overwhelms sometimes both, and the subject itself to produce effect.

[111] 133. The fewer the traces that appear of the means by which any work has been produced, the more it resembles the operations of Nature, and the nearer it is to sublimity.

134. Indiscriminate pursuit of perfection infallibly leads to mediocrity.

Coroll.—Take the design of Rome, Venetian motion and shade, Lombardy's tone of colour, add the terrible manner of Angelo, Titian's truth of nature, and the supreme purity of Corregio's style; mix them up with the decorum and solidity of Tibaldi, with the learned invention of Primaticcio, and a few grains of Parmegiano's grace: and what do you think will be the result of this chaotic prescription, such elemental strife? Excellence, perhaps, equal to one or all of the names that compose these ingredients? You are deceived, if you fancy that a multitude of dissimilar threads can compose a uniform texture—that dissemination of spots will make masses, or a little of many things produce a whole. If Nature stamped you with a character, you will either annihilate it by indiscriminate imitation of heterogeneous excellence, or debase it to mediocrity and add one to the ciphers of art. Yet such is the prescription[112] of Agostino Carracci,[27] and such in general must be the dictates of academics.

135. If you mean to reign dictator over the arts of your own times, assail not your rivals with the blustering tone of condemnation and rigid censure;—sap with conditional or lamenting praise—confine them to unfashionable excellence—exclude them from the avenues of fame.

136. If you wish to give consequence to your inferiors, answer their attacks.

Coroll.—Michael Angelo, advised to resent the insolence of some obscure upstart who was pushing forward to notice by declaring himself his rival, answered: "Chi combatte con dappochi, non vince a nulla:" who contests with the base, loses with all!

137. Genius knows no partner. All partnership is deleterious to poetry and art: one must rule.[28]

138. The wish of perpetuating a name by[113] enlisting under the banners of another, is the ambition of inferior minds: biography, with all its branches of "Ana," translation and engraving, however useful to man or dear to art, is the unequivocal homage of inferiority offered by taste and talent to the majesty of genius.

139. Dive in the crowd, meet beauty: follow vigour, compare character, snatch the feature that moves unobserved and the sudden burst of passion—and you are at the school of nature with Lysippus.[29]

140. The lessons of disappointment, humiliation and blunder, impress more than those of a thousand masters.

141. There are artists, who have wasted much of life in abstruse theories on proportion, who have measured the Antique in all its forms and characters, compared it with Nature, and mixed up amalgamas of both, yet never made a figure stand or move.

[114] Coroll.—"The Apollo is altogether composed of lines sweetly convex, of very small obtuse angles, and of flats, but the soft convexities predominate the character of the figure, being a compound of strength, dignity and delicacy. The artist has expressed the first by convex outlines, the second by their uniformity, and the third by undulation of forms. The convex line predominates in the Laocoon, and the forms of the muscles are angular at their insertions and ends to express agitation; for by these means the nerves and tendons become more visible, straight lines meeting with concave and convex ones, form those angles which produce violence of action. The sculptor of the Farnesian Hercules invented a style totally different; to obtain fleshiness, he composed the figure of round and convex muscles, but made their insertions flat to signify that they are nervous and unincumbered with fat, the characteristic of strength."

"In the Gladiator there is a mixture of the Herculean and the Laocoontic forms, the muscles in action are angulated, whilst those at rest are short and round, a variety conformable to nature," &c.
Opere di A.R. Mengs, t. i. p. 203.

142. Neither he who forms lines without the[115] power of embodying them, nor he who floats on masses, can be said to draw: the one is the slave of a brush, the other of a point.

143. Pulp without solidity absorbs, and relentless tension tears character.

144. In following too closely a model, there is danger in mistaking the individual for Nature herself; in relying only on the schools, the deviation into manner seems inevitable: what then remains, but to transpose yourself into your subject?

145. Style is the selection of forms and groups and tones to suit a subject.

Coroll.—The Italian Style Grandioso, the French Il y a du style, the English great style and breadth, when applied to a performance, only mean, that the artist followed those who have enlarged the principles of imitation and execution.

146. Style pervades the object; manner floats on the surface.

[116] 147. Antient art was the tyrant of Egypt, the mistress of Greece, and the servant of Rome.

148. The superiority of the Greeks seems not so much the result of climate and society, as of the simplicity of their end and the uniformity of their means. If they had schools, the Ionian, that of Athens and of Sicyon appear to have directed their instruction to one grand principle, proportion: this was the stamen which they drew out into one immense connected web; whilst modern art, with its schools of designers, colourists, machinists, eclectics, is but a tissue of adventitious threads. Apollonius and the sculptor of the small Hesperian Hercules in bronze are distinguished only by the degree of execution; whilst M. Angelo and Bernini had no one principle in common but that of making groups and figures.

149. Art among a religious race produces reliques; among a military one, trophies; among a commercial one, articles of trade.

150. Modern art, reared by superstition in[117] Italy, taught to dance in France, plumped up to unwieldiness in Flanders, reduced to "chronicle small beer" in Holland, became a rich old woman by "suckling fools" in England.

151. The rules of art are either immediately supplied by Nature herself, or selected from the compendiums of her students who are called masters and founders of schools. The imitation of Nature herself leads to style, that of the schools to manner.

Coroll.—The line of Michael Angelo is uniformly grand; character and beauty were admitted only as far as they could be made subservient to grandeur:—the child, the female, meanness, deformity were indiscriminately stamped with grandeur; a beggar rose from his hand the patriarch of poverty; the hump of his dwarf is impressed with dignity; his women are moulds of generation; his infants teem with the man, his men are a race of giants.

The design of Raphael is either historic or poetic. The forms of his historic style are characteristic, those of his poetic style he himself[118] calls ideal:[30] the former are regulated by nature, but these are only exaggerations of another style.

The forms of Julio Pipi are poised between character and caricature, but verge to this; even his dresses and ornaments are caricatures; but no poet or painter ever rocked the cradle of infant mythology with simpler or more primitive grace; none ever imparted to allegory a more insinuating power, or swayed the strife of elemental war with a bolder hand. What ever equalled the exuberance of invention scattered over the T of Mantoua?

The line of Polydoro, is that of the antique basso-relievo, seen from beneath (da sotto in su).

The forms of Titian are those of sanguine health; robust, not grand; soft without delicacy.

Tintoretto attempted to fill the line of Michael Angelo with colour, without tracing its principle.

As Michael Angelo was impressed with an idea of grandeur, so Correggio was charmed with a notion of harmony: his line was correct[119] when harmony permitted; it strayed as harmony commanded.

Elegance (sueltezza) was the principle of Parmegiano's line, but he forgot proportion.

Annibale Carracci, one of the founders of the Eclectic school, attempted to combine in his line the appearance of Nature with style, and became the standard of academic drawing.

The medium, not the thing, was the object of the Tuscan and Venetian schools; the school of Urbino[31] aimed at subjecting the medium to the character of things; the Lombards strove to unite the separate attainments of the three with the unattainable spell of Correggio; the Germans, with their Flemish and Dutch branches, now humbly followed, now boldly attempted to improve their Italian masters; the French passed the Alps to study at Rome and Venice what they were to forget at Paris.

Domenichino aimed at the characteristic line of Raffaelle, the compactness of Annibale, and the beauty of the antique; and mixing something of each fell short of all.

Rosso carried anatomy, and the Bolognese[120] Abbate the poetry of their art to the court of Francis. To the haggard melancholy of the Tuscan and the laboured richness of the Lombard, the French added their own cold gaiety, and the French school arose.

The forms of Guido's female heads are abstracts of the antique. The forms of his male bodies are transcripts of models, such as are found in a genial climate, though sometimes distorted by fatigue or emaciated by want.

Pietro Testa copied the Torsos of antiquity, and supplied them with extremities drawn from the dregs of Nature.

The forms[32] of Caravaggio are either substantial flesh or the starveling produce of beggary rendered important by ideal light and shade.

The limbs of Joseph Ribera are excrescences of disease on hectic bodies.

Andrea Mantegna was in Italy what Albert Durer was at Nuremberg; Nature seems not to have existed in any shape of health in his time: though a servile copyist of the antique, he never once adverted from the monuments he copied to the originals that inspired them.

[121] The forms of Albert Durer are blasphemies on Nature, the thwarted growth of starveling labour and dry sterility—formed to inherit his hell of paradise. To extend the asperity of this verdict beyond the forms of Albert Durer, would be equally unjust and ungrateful to the father of German art, on whom invention often flashed, whom melancholy marked for her own, whose influence even on Italian art was such that he produced a temporary revolution in the style of the Tuscan school. Andrea del Sarto and Giacopo da Puntormo became his imitators and his copyists; nor was his influence unfelt by Raffaelle himself, but his Christ led to the Cross (engraved by E. Sadler),[33] compared with that of the Madonna del Spasimo, leaves the claim of superiority doubtful for sublimity and pathos. It is a likewise probable that we owe the horrors of the St. Felicitas to the abominations of his Martyr scenes. The felicity of his organs, the delicacy of his finger, the freedom and sweep of his touch, have found an encomiast in the author of the life prefixed to the Latin edition of his works. What would have been the result of his[122] intended interview, when in Italy, with Andrea Mantegna, had the death of the latter (1505) not prevented it, is difficult to guess: if some amelioration, certainly not the entire change of style, which the uninterrupted study of the antique, during a long life, had failed to produce in Andrea himself.

The forms of Luke of Leyden are the vegetation of a swamp.

The forms of Martin Hemskerck are dislocated lankness.[34]

The forms of Spranger and Goltzius are blasphemies on art; the monstrous incubations of dropsied fancy on phlegm run mad. This verdict, though uniformly true of every male figure of Goltzius that demanded energy of exertion, cannot be equally applied to his females, the features of the face excepted. On limbs and bodies resembling the antique in elegance if not correctness, he placed heads with Dutch features, ideally, often voluptuously dressed: such are his Venus between Ceres and Bacchus; and still more his Diana and[123] Calisto, a composition which in elegance and dignity excels that of Tiziano. In the dreadful familiarity with which the guardian snake of the Beotian well approaches the companions of Cadmus, he has touched the true vein of terror and its limits, and atoned in some degree for the loathsome horror that had polluted his graver, when he condescended to copy the abominable process of that scene from the design of Pistor.

The male forms of Rubens are the brawny pulp of slaughtermen, his females are hillocks of roses: overwhelmed muscles, dislocated bones, and distorted joints are swept along in a gulph of colours, as herbage, trees and shrubs are whirled, tossed, or absorbed by vernal inundation.

The female forms of Rembrandt are prodigies of deformity; his males are the crippled produce of shuffling industry and sedentary toil.

The line of Vandycke is balanced between Flemish corpulence and English slenderness.

Sebastian Bourdon, sublime in his conceptions, filled classic ground and eastern vests with local limbs and Gallic actors.

[124] Poussin renounced his national character to follow the antique; but could not separate the spirit from the stone.

152. The imitator seldom mounts to the investigation of the principles that formed his model; the copier probably never.

153. Many beauties in art come by accident, that are preserved by choice.

Coroll.—Neither the froth formed on the mouth of Jalysus' hound by a lucky dash from the sponge of Protogenes, nor the modern experiments of extracting composition from an ink-splashed wall, are relatives of the beauties alluded to in this aphorism.

154. The praise due to a work, reflects not always on its master; and superiority may beam athwart the blemishes that we despise or pity; some, says Milton, praised the work and some the master: would you prefer him who is able to finish the image which he was unable to conceive, to its inventor?

[125] 155. It is the privilege of Nature alone to be equal. Man is the slave of a part; the most equal artist is only the first in the list of mediocrity.

156. He who seeks the grand, will find it in a trifle: but some seem made to find it only there. Rösel saw man like an insect, and insects as Michael Angelo men.

157. Physiognomy teaches what is homogeneous and what is heterogeneous in forms.

158. The solid parts of the body are the base of physiognomy, the muscular that of pathognomy; the former contemplates the animal at rest, this its action.

159. Pathognomy allots expression to character.

160. Those who allow physiognomy to regulate the great outlines of character, and reject its minute discriminations, admit a language and reject its elements.

[126] 161. The difficulty of physiognomy is to separate the essence from accident, growth from excrescence.

162. He who aims at the sublime, consults the classes assigned to character by physiognomy, not its anatomy of individuals; the oak in its full majesty, and not the thwarted pollard.

163. None ever escaped from himself by crossing seas; none ever peopled a barren fancy and a heart of ice with images or sympathies by excursions into the deserts of mythology or allegory.

164. The principles of allegory and votive composition are the same; they unite with equal right the most distant periods of time and the most opposite modes of society: both surround a real being, or allude to a real act, with symbols by long general consent adopted, as expressive of the qualities, motives, and circumstances that distinguished or gave evidence to the person or the transaction. Such is the gallery of the Luxembourg, such the Attila of the Vatican.

[127] 165. Pure history rejects allegory.

Coroll.—The armed figure of Rome, with Fortune behind her frowning at Coriolanus, surrounded by the Roman matrons in the Volscian camp (by Poussin), is a vision seen by that warrior, and not an allegory; it is a sublime image, which, without diminishing the credibility of the fact, adds to its importance, and raises the hero, by making him submit, not to the impulse of private ties, but to the destiny of his country.

166. All ornament ought to be allegoric.

167. Dignity is the salt of art.

Coroll.—In the Salutation of Michael Angelo,[35] the angelic messenger emerges from solitary twilight, his countenance seems to labour with the awful message, and his knees to bend as he approaches the mysterious personage: with virgin majesty and humble grace Mary bows to the extended arm of the lucid herald, as if waked from sacred meditation, and appears entranced by celestial sounds.

[128] The Madonnas of Raffaelle, whether hailed parents of a God, or pressing the divine offspring to their breast, whether receiving him from his slumbers, or contemplating his infant motions, are uniformly transcripts from the daily domestic images of common life and of some favourite face matronized: the eyes of his Fornarina beamed with other fires than those of sanctity; the sense and native dignity of her lover could veil their fierceness, but not change their language.

The Madonna of Titiano receives her celestial visitant under an open portico of Palladian structure, and skirted by gay gardens; the usual ray precedes the floating angel; gold-ringleted and in festive attire, he waves a lily wand: in sable weeds the Virgin receives the gorgeous homage, proudly devout, like a young abbess amidst her cloistered lambs.

Tintoretto has turned salutation into irruption. The angel bursts through the shattered casement and terrifies a vulgar female; but his wings are tipped in heaven.[36]

[129] 168. Dignity gives probability to the impossible: we listen to the monstrous tale of Ulysses with all the devotion due to a creed. By dignity, even deformity becomes an instrument of art: Vulcan limps like a god at the hand of Homer: the hump and withered arm of Richard are engines of terror or persuasion in Shakspeare; the crook-back of Michael Angelo strikes with awe.

169. Luxuriance of ornament destroys simplicity and repose, the attendants of dignity.

Coroll.—"Simon Mosca, one of the most distinguished sculptors of ornament and foliage in the sixteenth century, when proposed by Vasari to embellish by his designs the monument of the Cardinal di Monte, was discountenanced by Michael Angelo on this principle." Vasari, vita de Simone Mosca.

170. Judge not an artist from the exertions of accidental vigour or some unpremeditated flights of fancy, but from the uniform tenor, the never-varying principle of his works: the line and style of Titian sometimes expand themselves like those of Michael Angelo; the[130] heads and groups of Raphael sometimes glow and palpitate with Titiano's tints; and there are masses of both united in Correggio: but if you aim at character, let Raphael be your guide; if at colour, Tiziano; if harmony allure, Correggio: they indulged in alternate excursions, but never lost sight of their own domain.

Coroll.—No one, of whatever period of art, of whatever eminence or school, out-told Rembrandt in telling the story of a subject, in the choice of its real crisis, in simplicity, in perspicuity: still, as the vile crust that involves his ore, his local vulgarity of style, the ludicrous barbarity of his costume, prepossess eyes less penetrating than squeamish against him, it requires some confidence to place him with the classics of invention. Yet with all these defects, with every prejudice or superiority of taste and style against him, what school has produced a work (M. Angelo's Creation of Adam, and the Death of Ananias by Raffaelle excepted,) which looks not pale in the superhuman splendour that irradiates his conception of Christ before Pilate, unless it be the raising of Lazarus by Lievens, a name comparatively obscure, whose awful sublimity reduces the[131] same subject as treated by Rembrandt and Sebastian of Venice, to artificial parade or common-place?

171. Tone is the moral part of colour.

172. If tone be the legitimate principle of colour, he who has not tone, though he should excel in individual imitation, colours in fragments and produces discord.

173. Harmony of colour consists in the due balance of all, equally remote from monotony and spots.

174. The eye tinges all nature with its own hue. The eye of the Dutch and Flemish schools, though shut to forms, tipped the cottage, the boor, the ale-pot, the shambles, and even the haze of winter, with orient hues and the glow of setting suns.

175. Clearness, freshness, force of colour, are produced by simplicity; one pure, is more than a mixture of many.

[132] 176. Colour affects or delights like sound. Scarlet or deep crimson rouses, determines, invigorates the eye, as the war-horn or the trumpet the ear; the flute soothes the ear, as pale celestial blue or rosy red the eye.

177. The colours of sublimity are negative or generic—such is the colouring of Michael Angelo.

178. The passions that sway features and limbs equally reside, fluctuate, flash and lower in colour.

179. The colours of pleasure and love are hues.

180. The colour of gravity, reverie, solemnity, approaches to twilight.

181. Colour in Raffaelle was the assistant of expression; to Titian it was the vehicle of truth; Correggio made it the minister of harmony. It was sometimes seized, and though reluctant held, but oftener neglected by the[133] first; it was embraced, it domineered over, it coalesced with the second; it attended the third like an enchanted spirit.

182. Lodovico Carracci was the first who gave in oil the colours of gravity, the dignified twilight of cloistered meditation.

183. Annibale Carracci, from want of feelings, though impressed by a grave principle, changed the mild evening-ray of his master to the bleak light of a sullen day.

184. Colour owes its effect sometimes more to position and gradation than to its intrinsic value.[37]

185. The colour of Titian is the most independent of surrounding objects; their union may assist, but their discrepance cannot destroy it.

[134]186. The harmony of Correggio is independent of colour.

187. Historic colour imitates, but copies not.

188. The portrait-painter copies the colour of his object, but chooses the medium through which that object is seen.

189. The mixtures that anticipate the beauties of time are big with the seeds of premature decay.

190. The colours of health are neither cadaverous nor flushed like meteors.

191. There are works whose effect is entirely founded on the contrast of tints, of what is termed warm and cold colour, and on reflected hues: strip them of this charm, reduce them to the principles of light and shade and masses, and as far as the want of those can degrade a picture, they will be fit to take their places on sign-posts.

192. Him who has freshness without frigidity,[135] who glows without being adust, whose tints luxuriate though not fermented by putrefaction; who is juicy yet not clammy, though broad not empty, sharp without dryness, clear not pellucid, airy not volatile, without being clumsy plump—him you may venture to call a colourist.

193. Breadth is not vacuity—Breadth might easily be obtained if emptiness could give it.

194. The forms of virtue are erect, the forms of pleasure undulate: Minerva's drapery descends in long uninterrupted lines; a thousand amorous curves embrace the limbs of Flora.

195. Subordination is the character of drapery. The heraldry of dress, the rows of aggregated mitres and pontifical trappings, are noticed only for the sake of their wearers in the compositions of the Vatican.

Coroll.—The superiority of style in drapery over that of the limbs which it covers in the earliest essays of art after its restoration, is not accounted for by the assertion that it is transcribed from the antique: if it is, by what unaccountable perverseness did the forms of[136] the nudities uniformly escape observation? In painting, this dissonance continues more or less offensively from the epoch of Cimabue to that of Masaccio, and, him excepted, down to Pinturicchio; and ceases not to shock us in sculpture from the Pisani, to the appearance of Lorenzo Ghiberti. Nor did that style of drapery mark only the productions of Italian art; on this side of the Alps it invested that of Germany, from the Angels and Madonnas of Martin Schongaver and Albert Durer, to those of Aldegraver and Sebald Behm: in nearly all their performances, Trans and Cisalpine, the wearer is the appendix of his garment, chucked into vestments not his own, a dwarfish thief hid in a giant's robe.

196. Raffael's drapery is the assistant of character; in Michael Angelo it envelopes grandeur; it is in Rubens the ponderous robe of pomp.

197. If Nature has not taught you to sketch, you apply in vain to art to finish your work.[38]

[137] 198. Some must be idle lest others should want work.[39]

199. He who submits to follow, is not made to precede.[40]

200. Consider it as the unalterable law of Nature that all your power upon others depends on your own emotions. Shakspeare wept, trembled, laughed first at what now sways the public feature; and where he did not, he is stale, outrageous or disgusting.

201. None but indelible materials can support the epic. Whatever is local, or the volatile[138] creature of the time, beauties of fashion and sentiments of sects, tears shed over roses, epigrammatic sparkling, passions taught to rave, and graces trained to move, the antiquary's mouldering stores, the bubbles of allegorists—are all with equal contempt passed over or crushed by him who claims the lasting empire of the human heart.

202. The invention of machines to supersede manual labour will at length destroy population and commerce;[41] and the methods contrived to shorten the apprenticeship of artists annihilate art.

203. Expect no religion in times when it is easier to meet with a saint than a man; and no art in those that multiply their artists beyond their labourers.

204. Expect nothing but trifles in times when those who ought to encourage the arts[139] are content to debase them by their own performances.

205. Mediocrity despatches and exults; the man of talent congratulates himself on the success of his exertions—Genius alone mourns over defeated expectation.

206. Pride.—Call not him proud who is influenced by the tide and ebb of opinion.

207. Modesty.—The touchstone of genuine modesty is the attention paid to criticism, and the temper with which it is received, or its advice adopted; the most arrogant pretence, the most fiery ambition, the most towering conceit, may fence themselves with smoothness, silence and submissive looks—Oil, the smoothest of substances, swims on all.

208. Praise.—Despise all praise but what he gives who has been praised for similar efforts; or his whose interest it is to blame.

209. Emulation.—The vindication of the innate powers, of the individual dignity of man,[140] careless of appendages and accidental advantage, grasps the substance of its object.

210. Envy, the bantling of desperate self-love, grasps the appendages, heedless of things. Emulation embalms the dead; Envy the vampire, blasts the living.

211. Flattery, the midwife of half-born conceits and struggling wishes, sometimes persuades, a boy that he is a man, a dwarf that he is a giant, but too often enervates the limbs of energy.

212. Vanity.—The vain is the most humble of mortals: the victim of a pimple.

213. Those reduced to live on the alms of genius, are the first to deny its existence.

214. Shakspeare is to Sophocles what the incessant flashes of a tempestuous night are to daylight.

215. Things came to Raffaelle and Shakspeare; Michael Angelo and Milton came to things.

[141] 216. The women of Michael Angelo are the sex.

Coroll.—Eve emerging from the side of Adam; Eve reclining under the tree of knowledge, in the Capella Sistina; the figures of Night and Dawn on the tombs of the Medici, are pure generic forms, little discriminated by character, and more expressive by action than emotion of features; solidity without heaviness separates them from the females in the Last Judgment, which, with the exception of the Madonna and St. Catharine, are less beholden to grace than anatomy. The Cartoon of the Leda proves that he was not inattentive to the detail of female charms, but beauty did not often visit his slumbers, guide his hand, or interrupt the gravity of his meditation.

217. The women of Raffaelle are either his own mistress, or mothers.

Coroll.—This relates chiefly to his Madonnas—Of his saints the St. Cecilia at Bologna has most of antique beauty, and, whether imitated or conceived, resembles the Niobe; but pride is absorbed in devotion, she is the enraptured victim of divine love, and glows with[142] celestial fire: the goddesses of the Farnesina, however gracefully imagined, are too ponderous for aërial forms and amorous conceits.

218. The women of Correggio are seraglio beauties.

Coroll.—The enchantment of the Magdalen, in the picture of the St. Jerome in the Pilotta at Parma, is produced by chiaroscuro and attitude. Sensuality personified is the general character of his females, and the grace of his children, less naiveté than grimace, the caricature of jollity.

219. The women of Titiano are the plump, fair, marrowy Venetian race.

Coroll.—Venus taking a reluctant farewell of Adonis; Diana starting at the intrusion of Acteon, with every allure of attitude, with heads dressed by the Graces, are local beauties, sink under the weight of Venetian limbs, and are only distinguished by contrast from the model that plumped herself down for his Danae. The reposing figure commonly called the Venus of the Tribuna, is an exquisite portrait of some favourite female, but not a Venus.

[143]220. The women of Parmegiano are coquettes.

221. The women of Annibale Carracci are made up by imitation and vulgarity.

Coroll.—Venus with Anchises, Juno with Jupiter, Omphale with Hercules, Diana and Calisto in the Farnese gallery, owe their charms and dignity of action to imitation; the celebrated three Maries, Magdalen penitent in her hempen shroud, are the conceptions of his own mind.

222. The women of Guido are actresses.

223. The forms of Domenichino's female faces are ideal; their expression is poised between pure helpless virginity and sainted ecstasy.

224. The veiled eyes of Guercino's females dart insidious fire.

225. Such is the fugitive essence, such the intangible texture of female genius, that few combinations of circumstances ever seemed to favour its transmission to posterity.

[144] 226. In an age of luxury women have taste, decide and dictate; for in an age of luxury woman aspires to the functions of man, and man slides into the offices of woman. The epoch of eunuchs was ever the epoch of viragoes.

227. Female affection is ever in proportion to the impression of superiority in the object. Woman fondles, pities, despises and forgets what is below her; she values, bears and wrangles with her equal; she adores what is above her.

228. Be not too squeamish in the choice of your materials; you will disgrace the best, if you cannot give value to the worst: the gold and azure wasted on Rosselli's[42] draperies cannot give value to their folds or hide the wants beneath.

229. There are moments when all are men, and only men, and ought to be no more; but the artist, who when his daily task is over can lock his meditation up with his tools—ranks with mechanics.

230. Date the death of emulation and of excellence[145] from the moment of your employer's indifference; and mediocrity of success from the moment of his meddling with the process of your work.

231. One of the most unexplored regions of art are dreams, and what may be called the personification of sentiment: the Prophets, Sibyls and Patriarchs of Michael Angelo are so many branches of one great sentiment. The dream of Raffaello is a characteristic representation of a dream; the dream of Michael Angelo is moral inspiration, a sublime sentiment.

Coroll.—Of three visionary subjects ascribed to Raffaello and known from the prints of Marc Antonio, Georgio Mantuano, and Agostino Veneziano, this alludes to the last, called by the Italians Stregozzo, by the French "La Carcasse:" an association of ideas big with the very elements of dreams, and almost a definition. That it be a conception of Raffaello rests on no other proof than the tablet of Marc Antonio and its own internal merit; which is so uniform that although one principal figure is undoubtedly transcribed from another in the[146] cartoon of Pisa, the whole can never be considered as a pasticcio.

232. A trite subject becomes interesting by the introduction of appropriate ornaments; a small statue of Moses breaking the tables in the back-ground of a Salutation; and a number of Baptists in that of a Madonna with her son and Joseph, expressing the dissolution of the old and the institution of the new doctrine, both by Michael Angelo,[43] give unexpected sublimity to subjects for which Raffaelle and Titiano had ransacked in vain the nursery and heaven.

233. Compilation is the lowest degree in art, but let him who means to borrow with impunity, follow the statesman's maxim: "strip the mean and spare the great."

Coroll.—A composition of which every thing was borrowed from himself, being shown to[147] Michael Angelo, and his opinion asked, "I commend it," said he, "but when on the day of judgement each body shall claim its original limbs, what will remain in this picture?"

234. He ought to possess some himself, who attempts to make use of borrowed excellence: a golden goblet on a beggar's table, serves only to expose its companions of lead.

235. Resemblance, character, costume, are the three requisites of portrait: the first distinguishes, the second classifies, the third assigns place and time to an individual.

236. Landscape is either the transcript of a spot, or a picturesque combination of homogeneous objects, or the scene of a phenomenon. The first pleases by precision and taste; the second adds variety and grandeur; the third may be an instrument of sublimity, affect our passions, or wake a sentiment.

237. Selection is the invention of the landscape painter.

[148] 238. He never can be great who honours what is little.

Coroll.—Grandeur of style and execution do not exclusively depend upon dimensions: but in an age and amidst a race who have erected littleness or rather diminutiveness of size to the only credentials of admissibility into collections, to the passports without which Raffaelle himself finds it difficult to penetrate the sanctuaries of pigmy art, that which ennobled the age of Pericles, of Julio, and Leone, must be content to look to posterity for its reward. If it were physiognomically true, that the structure of every human face bears some analogy to that of some brute, it might reasonably surprise, that an individual marked by nature with no very remote resemblance to a Hippopotamus, should be considered as the legislator of a taste equally noted for tameness of conception and effeminate finish; but as it is improbable that one individual, however favoured by circumstances or endowed with all-persevering activity, or arrogance, could stamp the taste of a nation exclusively with his own, it may be fairly surmised that he did no more than find[149] and rear the seeds of that Micromania which infects the public taste.

239. The medium of poetry is time and action; that of the plastic arts, space and figure. Poetry then is at its summit, when its hand arrests time and embodies action: and these, when they wing the marble or the canvass, and from the present moment dart rays back to the past and forward to the future.

Coroll.—Subjects are positive, negative, repulsive. The first are the proper materials, the voluntary servants of invention; to the second she gives interest and value; from the last she can escape only by the help of execution, for execution alone can palliate her defeat by the last. The Laocoon, the Hæmon and Antigone, the Niobe and her daughters, the death of Ananias, the Sacrifice at Lystra, Elymas struck blind, are positive subjects, speak their meaning with equal evidences to the scholar and the unlettered man, and excite the sympathy due to the calls of terror and pity with equal energy in every breast. St. Jerome presenting the translation of his Bible to the Infant Jesus, St.[150] Peter at the feet of the Madonna receiving the thanksgivings of victorious Venice, with every other votive altar-piece, little interesting to humanity in general, owe the impression they make on us to the dexterous arrangement, the amorous or sublime enthusiasm of the artist;—but we lament to see invention waste its powers, and execution its skill, to excite our feelings for an action or event that receives its real interest from a motive which cannot be rendered intuitive; such as Alceste expiring, the legacy of Eudamidas, the cause of Demetrius's disorder.


[2] Tacit. Annal. lib. VI. "Nullam ob eximiam artem, sed quod par negotiis, neque supra erat."

[3] D. Longin. περι ὑψους, § 34.

[4] "Les hommes qui ont changé l'univers, n'y sont jamais parvenus en gagnant des chefs; mais toujours en remuant des masses. Le premier moyen est du ressort de l'intrigue, et n'amène que des résultats secondaires; le second est la marche du Génie, et change la face du monde."— Napoleon.

[5] Tacit. Annal. lib. xiv. et xvi.

[6] Difficile est proprie communia dicere. Hor. A.P.

[7] Τον δ' αρ' ὑπο ζυγοφιν προσεφη ποδας αἰολος ἱππος.
Iliad xix. 404.—
Rhœbe diu, etc.—
Virg. x.

[8] Plin. lib. xxxv.

[9] This picture, during a period of nearly half a century, graced the collection of Charles Lambert, Esq. of Paper-buildings, Temple; where it remained without having been washed or varnished. At his death it was purchased by my friend Mr. Knowles, has been cleaned by a skilful hand, and restored to nearly its pristine state.

[10] Sea Voyage, Act 3rd. sc. 1st.

[11] Dante Inferno, Cant. xxiv.

[12] ΗΘΗ. Mores. Plin. l. xxxv.

[13] The Necromantia of Nicias—the sacking of a town, by Aristides. Plin. l. xxxv.

[14] A group of Stephanus in the Villa Ludovisi, known by the name of Papyrius and his mother, called a Phædra and Hippolytus, or an Electra with Orestes, by J. Winkelmann, bears more resemblance to an Æthra with Theseus, or a Penelope with Telemachus.

[15] Gallum inficetissime linguam exserentem.—Plin. l. xxxv.

[16] Plin. l. xxx. W. c. xiv.

[17] Commonly named the Dying Gladiator; by J. Winkelmann called a Herald; with more probability the "Vulneratus deficiens, in quo possit intelligi quantum restet animæ." A work of Ctesilas in bronze, was probably the model of this. Plin. l. xxxiv.

[18] Sueton. l. vi.

[19] In one of the cartoons of Raffaello, now lost, but still in some degree existing in tapestry and in print.

[20] Engraved by G. Audran.

[21] In the cartoon of Peter and John.

[22] Iliad, L. xviii. l. 93; L. xvi. l. 74 and 75; L. ix. l. 346.

[23] Commonly called the Castor and Pollux of Monte Cavallo,—the name given from their horses to the Quirinal.

[24] Plin. N.H. l. xxxv. c. ix. Tantus diligentia, ut Agrigentinis facturus tabulam, quam in templo Junonis Lucinæ publice dicarent, inspexerit virgines eorum nudas, et quinque elegerit, ut quod in quaque laudatissimum esset, pictura redderet.

[25] Mengs Lettera à don A. Ponz. Opere di A.R. Mengs, t. ii. p. 83.

[26] Such was probably that austerity of tone in the works of Athenion, which the ancients preferred to the sweetness or gayer tints of Nicias—"austerior colore et in austeritate jucundior."—Plin. l. xxxv. c. xi.

[27] See the sonnet of Agostino Carracci, which begins "Chi farsi un bon Pittor cerca e desia," &c. which the author himself seems to ridicule by the manner in which he concludes.

[28] Οὐκ ἀγαθον πολυκοιρανιη εἱς κοιρανος ἐστω.
Il. ii. 204.

The conception of every great work must originate in one, though it may be above the power or strength of one to execute the whole.

[29] Pliny, l. xxxiv. c. 8.

[30] In the Letter to C.B. Castiglione. Ideal is properly the representation of pure human essence.

[31] Raffaelle and the best of his pupils; their successors, commonly known by the name of the Roman school, followed principles diametrically opposite.

[32] "Macinava carne," said Annibale Carracci.

[33] Ægidius Sadeler sculpsit ex Prototypo Alberti Dureri.

[34] "Elumbis," as applied by the author of the Dialogue on Orators to the style of Brutus, will nearly suit all imitators of Michael Angelo.

[35] In the Sacristy of St. Giovanni in Laterano, painted from the cartoon by Marcello Venusti.

[36] This and the foregoing picture are in the Scuola di S. Rocco at Venice. The skeleton of the former is known by an etching of Le Fevre.

[37] "Whoever looks at a picture by Correggio of a glorified Madonna with a St. Sebastian and other figures, at Dresden, is instantly surprised by the light of the glory, which has all the splendour of a sun, though painted with a low-toned yellow, and dim at the extremities."
Opere di R. Mengs, t. ii. p. 161.

[38] John, called da Bologna, showed a model to Michael Angelo smoothly polished; Michael Angelo took, and, heedless of its finish, twisted it about; then giving it back to the student, "Learn," said he, "to sketch before you attempt to finish."

[39] Such was the proud answer of Frà Sebastian del Piombo, grown fat by the signet of St. Peter, when asked why he had entirely resigned all exercise of his art.

[40] Said Michael Angelo, when asked whether the copy of the Laocoon by Baccio Bandinelli was not equal or superior to the original. Titiano, with more mordacity though surely with less discrimination, ridiculed the copyist by a caricature in which the Trojan with his sons were changed to baboons.

[41] "Sineret se plebeculam pascere," said Vespasian to the artist who had contrived a machine to convey some large columns with a trifling expense to the Capitol, and rewarded him without accepting his offer.

[42] Cosmo Rosselli, one of the Tuscan painters who preceded Michael Angelo in decorating the Chapel of Sixtus IV.

[43] This is the Madonna painted for Angelo Doni, now in the Tribuna of Florence, and probably the only existing oil-picture of Michael Angelo, though Lanzi rejects its title to that. Vasari mentions it with his usual extravagance of praise, but appears ignorant of the real meaning of the figures.





The analogy of style observable in the figures impressed on Tuscan coins of the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth century, and those found in the miniatures that decorate the manuscripts of the contemporary periods, proves that Tuscany had its artists long before the epoch which Vasari and his copyists fix for the importation of Greek art with Greek artists: whether those paintings be all pure Tuscan, or here and there interspersed with Greek ones, none will venture to decide, who knows the impossibility of drawing a limitary line sufficiently severe to distinguish the last spasms of an expiring art from the first stammerings of an infant one. Of the still surviving monuments of painting during those epochs, it may be sufficient to mention[154] the famed Christ, painted on canvass and glued to a wooden cross, of a date anterior to 1003.

In subsequent times, the earliest and least unsuccessful essays in art, were made by the Pisano. Whilst a Greek sarcophagus at Pisa, storied with the incidents of Hippolytus and Phædra, furnished some elements of form to the sculptors Niccolo and Giovanni Pisano, painting made some progress with Giunta Pisano: his composition of Christ on the Cross at the Angeli of Assisi, though defective in design, possesses life and expression.[44]

A similar progress was made by his contemporary Guido or Guidone of Sienna; a name not mentioned by Vasari, though in his frequent excursions to Sienna, he could not remain unacquainted with the works of Guido, at least one which still exists in the chapel of the Malevolti[155] in S. Dominico, with the following often repeated inscription and date:—

Me Guido de senis diebus depinxit amenis
Quem Christus lenis nullis velit agere penis.

This Madonna, twenty years anterior to the birth of Cimabue, is superior to his Madonna in expression, and nearly equal in taste and colour, though inferior in style.

Duccio di Boninsegna, probably of his school, was celebrated as the restorer of that inlaid kind of Mosaic, called "Lavoro di Commesso." His works are from 1275, the year in which he received a commission for Sta. Maria Novella at Florence, to 1311, the period at which he was employed in the Domo of Sienna. If these dates be genuine, he can scarcely have lived till 1357, the year at which Fiorillo fixes his death. It is not probable that he should have stretched his span beyond a century, which must have been the case, if we suppose that he was twenty at the time he painted in S. Maria Novella; it is not probable that he should have chosen, or been suffered, to remain idle with the celebrity he had acquired in the labours of the Domo; and it is still less probable, that, if he was employed,[156] what he produced in the interval, between that period and his death, should have perished or been destroyed, whilst we are still in possession of the paintings in the Domo, which made nearly an epoch in art, at which he laboured three years, for which he was paid upwards of 3000 scudi d'oro, the expense of gilding and ultramarine included. That part of it which faced the audience, represented in large figures the Madonna and various saints; that which fronted the choir, divided into many compartments, exhibited numerous compositions of Gospel subjects in figures of small proportion; it cannot be denied, that with all its copiousness, the whole savours strongly of the Greek manner.

Andrea Taffi, born 1213, the scholar of Apollonius, a Greek painter, and his assistant in some mosaics at S. Giovanni of Florence, is not mentioned out of that line by Vasari and Baldinucci: but the discovery of a picture with his name by Ignazio Stugford adds another legitimate name to the predecessors of Cimabue.

Buonamico di Cristofano, or Buffalmacco, of facetious memory, was the pupil of Taffi. His[157] best works are lost, but from the remains it may be suspected that he owes at least as much to the tales of Boccaccio and Sacchetti, for the preservation of his name, as to his own powers. There still exists in Campo Santo at Pisa, a fresco of the Creation with a God Father five ells high, supporting Heaven and the elements; and three other stories of Adam, Noah and his Sons; a Crucifix, a Resurrection, and an Ascension. We must not look here for much symmetry of design or Giottesque elegance; his heads have little variety, and less beauty; sameness of features, a vulgar cast, and a gaping deformity of mouth, characterize his women; but now and then attention rests on the vivacity or physiognomy of some male countenance, especially that of Cain. Sometimes he snatches some movement from nature, such as that of the terrified man who flies from Calvary: he overflows in particoloured drapery, and delights in laboured ornaments of flowers and lace. A St. John the Baptist of his, yet existing, deserves to be mentioned as an instance of the utility of comparing works in painting and sculpture with contemporary coins, in order to ascertain their dates; for the same[158] figure is exactly repeated on the Florentine scudo d'oro of that age. A jocular host of artists, scholars of this school, we pass over, as more important to the reader of the Decamerone and the Novelle, than to the student of art.

Lucca, about 1235, possessed Bonaventura Berlingieri, whose St. Francis still exists in the castle of Guiglia, near Modena, and is described as a work of considerable merit for its time: Margaritone of Arezzo, a pupil and follower of the Greeks, appears to have been several years anterior to Cimabue. He painted on canvass, and was the first, according to Vasari, who found the method of giving a more solid texture to pictures. Some crucifix of his is still seen at Arezzo, and another at Santa Croce in Florence, facing one of Cimabue. The style of both is antiquated, but not so different in merit to make us refuse a painter's name to Margaritone if we grant it to Cimabue.

Giovanni Cimabue,[45] of noble lineage, was an architect and painter. He is considered as the father of Italian art, because with him legitimate history and a less interrupted series of[159] dates, begin; because he succeeded better than his predecessors in disentangling himself from the shackles of Greek barbarity, and chiefly because he discovered and called forth the genius of Giotto. Vasari may be right in making him the scholar of those Greeks whom the Florentine Government had employed to paint the Church of Santa Maria Novella; but he errs in placing them in the Chapel Gondi, which, with the body of the church, was not erected till the subsequent century; he should have assigned them another chapel under the church, where time has discovered some vestiges of ancient painting. It seems, however, more probable, that Giunta Pisano gave Cimabue instruction, if it be ascertained, as Fiorillo asserts, that he worked in the great church of Assisi, 1253, when he was in his thirteenth year, and Giunta superintended the decorations of that fabric.

The pompous visit which Charles of Anjou paid to Cimabue in passing through Florence, sufficiently proves the celebrity he enjoyed, if it has not been sanctioned by the authority of Dante, who calls him the unrivalled champion of his day. Cimabue was then painting the Madonna with the Infant adored by six angels;[160] the picture when finished was carried in procession from Borgo Allegro to Santa Maria Novella, and placed in the Chapel Rucellai, where it still exists. The heraldic arrangement of the figures, their physiognomic monotony, the exility of the detail and barbarous execution, contrast strangely with the elevation and novelty of the artist's conception. Cimabue lost the female and the mother in the Queen of Heaven. Insensible to the blandishments of beauty, fierce like the age in which he lived, he excelled in male, especially aged characters; these he impressed with something of a stern grandeur, not often surpassed since. Vast and comprehensive in his ideas, he seized on subjects of numerous composition, and expressed them in large proportions; those features of prophetic grandeur which surprise in his frescoes at the Dominicans and Santa Trinità of Florence, are still excelled by the features which he displayed in the upper church of Assisi—meteors of the age in which he lived. They still exist, nor is it easily conceived how works of so different style, against the testimony of Vasari, and the uniform tradition of five centuries, could, as they were of late, be[161] ascribed to the more regulated hand and gentler spirit of Giotto.

Giotto's year of birth has been disputed; Vasari fixes it to 1276, Baldinucci to 1265. He was the son of a cottager at Vespignano, and bred to be a shepherd; but, a painter born, he amused himself from infancy with attempts to draw whatever object struck his fancy. A sheep which he had copied on a flat stone caught the eye of Cimabue, who was in the neighbourhood, happened to pass by, demanded him of his father, and carried him to Florence to instruct him; but he soon rivalled, and in a short time eclipsed his master by a grace and an amenity of execution which remained unequalled to the time of Masaccio.

For the rapidity of this progress, unless we were to ascribe it to inspiration, we must account from the happy coincidence of external advantages with the genius of the man. A period so obscure, admits of little more than conjecture, but there is no improbability in supposing that Giotto outstripped his master and the times by the same means which rendered Michael Agnolo so soon superior to Ghirlandaio,[162] —modelling and the study of the antique. We know that he was a sculptor, and that his models still existed in the time of Lorenzo Ghiberti. Good originals he could find among the fragments of antiquity discovered before his time, and scattered over Florence and Rome: from what other source could he derive the character of his male heads, and that squareness of form so different from the exility and indecision of all contemporary styles? The few majestic natural folds of his draperies, and the composure and unaffected air of his figures, breathe the spirit of the antique. His very defects are the consequences of such a study. His manner has been charged with a kind of statuine precision (del statuino), unknown to other schools, and unknown to artists who do not form themselves on the antique.

If to these conjectures it be objected, that the want of uniformity, dryness of design, extremities either faulty or hid under a preposterous length of drapery, rather betray a nurseling of Pisa than a pupil of the ancients; it ought to be considered that uniformity is the result of settled principles; that he who had to remove[163] the rubbish could not be expected to give the polish; that he who had to teach eyes to look, hands to move, and feet to stand, could not be supposed to make them do it with all the correctness, propriety or elegance, they were capable of; that a certain gymnophobia equally attends the infancy and the decrepitude of taste, and that the approbation of a public and an artist's flattery are always reciprocal.

And no artist commanded more of public favour than Giotto. Legislator of taste, not in Tuscany alone, but at Rome, Naples, Bologna, and the Venetian State, he excelled his master as much in celebrity as he had excelled him in grace and method. How soon he did this may be seen on comparing his earliest works at Assisi with those of his master in the same place. Genuine elements of composition, expressions inspired by Nature, accuracy of design, progressively appear. It is no hyperbole to affirm, that in certain characters no artist ever went nearer the source of expression than Giotto, and that in the maiden airs of untainted virginity none ever excelled, and perhaps, Raphael and Domenichino excepted, few ever approached him.


Though not the inventor, Giotto was the restorer of portrait-painting; resemblance, with character of face and attitude, date from him. He gave us Dante, Brunetto Latini, Corso Donato, &c. Mosaic was improved by him, and his powers in it shown by the celebrated Navicella, or boat of Saint Peter, in the portico of the Basilica at Rome; though restoration has transformed it to a work of shreds and patches, and reduced his claim on it to the mere name. Missal painting likewise owes him some gratitude; and in architecture the grand steeple of the Domo at Florence is the work of Giotto.

Implicit imitation checks progress; the numerous school of Giotto were for the greater part content to walk behind their master. Taddeo Gaddi, the most familiar and most favoured of his pupils, is said by Vasari, whom time still suffered to judge with some competence, to have excelled him in colouring and mellowness. The works of Taddeo in Sta. Croce are inferior in originality and execution to his compositions in the Capitolo degli Spagnuoli, where, in the ceiling, he represented some Gospel subjects, and in the Cenacolo the Descent of the Holy Spirit, one of the beautiful relics of the fourteenth[165] century. On the sides he painted the Sciences, with their most eminent professors under each, no unfair specimen of poetic conception; here is what remains of vivacity and brightness in his tints. Taddeo outlived the period assigned him by Vasari; we find him mentioned as late as 1352, which still might not be the ultimate date of his life.

Another conspicuous name among his pupils is Stefano of Florence, (Fiorentino,) whom Vasari, without hesitation, in every part of the art prefers to his master. He was the son of one Catharina, a daughter of Giotto; an ardent and inquisitive spirit, quick to discover and eager to overcome difficulties; the first who ventured on foreshortening, and if success did not fully second his efforts in that, it favoured him in perspective, which he much improved, and in the attitudes, variety and vivacity of heads. Landino fancied to compliment his memory by repeating the silly epithet of "Scimia della Natura," "Ape of Nature," which, from the resemblance of his portraits, was given him by the vulgar and the dilettanti of his day. His works in Ara Cœli at Rome, at S. Spirito of Florence, and elsewhere, perished, and nothing[166] can safely be stamped with his name, if it be not a Madonna in Campo Santo at Pisa, grander in style than those of his master, but retouched.

Of Tommaso, his son and reputed scholar, a Pietà, which might be taken for a work of Giotto, exists at S. Remigi of Florence; and still some frescoes at Assisi. They entitle him to the surname of "Giottino," given him by his fellow-citizens, who used to say that the spirit of Giotto had passed into him and animated his hand.

Without embarrassing ourselves with conjectures on Ugolino da Sienna, we pass to the more celebrated name of Simone Memmi, or Simon di Martino, a native of the same place, the painter of Laura, and the friend of Petrarca, who in two affected sonnets has transmitted him to posterity. Whether Simone were the pupil of Maestro Mino as the Siennese, or of Giotto as the Florentine writers pretend, is a point beyond decision: he restored a picture of the first, and his style has some analogy to that of the second, though with more suavity of colour, and more poetry of conception. He was the first who dared to fill a spacious façade with one composition without dividing it into compartments.[167] Such is that in the Capitolo degli Spagnuoli of Santa Maria Novella at Florence, where Vasari discovered every beauty of his own time, and where, in the crowd of introduced portraits, many have fancied, in spite of chronology, to discover the portraits of Laura and her friend; whom probably he did not become personally acquainted with till four years after the completion of that work, 1336, when he was sent to the Pope at Avignon, became familiar with Petrarca, painted Laura, and, strange to tell, reached the expectation of the lover, who saw

"Il lampegiar dell' angelico riso."

Miniature, though the last object of this work, was not the least of Memmi's powers. Lanzi has noticed one which fronts a MS. Virgil with the commentary of Servius, now in the Ambrosiana at Milan, but formerly possessed by Petrarca, who probably dictated the subject, and added the following lines:-

Mantua Virgilium qui talia carmina finxit,
Sena tulit Simonem digito qui talia pinxit.

The painting represents Virgil in a sitting attitude ready to write, with his face turned upwards as invoking the Muse. Æneas, in martial[168] vest and attitude, stands before him, and pointing to his sword, alludes to the subject of the Æneis, "Arma Virumque." A shepherd and a husbandman, symbols of the Pastorals and Georgics, placed somewhat lower, listen to the theme; whilst Servius draws a transparent curtain, to denote his labours in unveiling the beauties and removing the obscurities of the poet. In this miniature, the originality of conception, the beauty and harmony of colour, the varied and appropriate drapery, are, however, balanced by rudeness of design, vulgarity of character, and deformed extremities.

It was a barbarous singularity of Simone, promiscuously to admit different proportions on the same plane: to flank or cross figures of natural size with figures a third less than nature.

Lippo, or Filippo Memmi, was the relative, scholar, and imitator, of Simone: assisted by his designs, Lippo often executed works, which, had he not marked them with his name, would be ascribed to the master: when left to his own invention, he rose in nothing above mediocrity, but in colour. Sometimes they were partners in the same picture, as in that at[169] S. Ansano di Castel Vecchio, at Sienna; sometimes the second finished what the first began, as in some works at Ancona and Assisi; and at Sienna there remains still something entirely executed by Lippo.

Simone co-operated in the works of S. Maria Novella with Taddeo Gaddi, who, with his son, Angelo Gaddi, left a number of pupils, imitators through him of Giotto, inferior to both, not much distinguished by tradition, and less favoured by time. Of Jacopo di Casentino, the most conspicuous, what vestiges remain in the church of Orsanmichele at Florence, are in conformity with the style of Taddeo; barriers soon overleaped by the vivid fancy of his scholar, Spinello the Aretine, whom his own conception of a demon is said to have terrified into insanity and death. His son, Parri Spinelli, with barbarous incongruities of line, possessed exquisite colour; and his pupil, Lorenzo di Bicci, has been compared to Vasari, for the number, dispatch, and opinion of his works. Antonio, surnamed Veneziano, whether he were a Venetian or a Florentine, is, against evidence of dates and style, supposed to have been a pupil of Angelo Gaddi,[170] and to have educated Paolo Uccello, the first master of perspective, and Gherardo Starnina, an artist of gay style, whose relics live still a chapel of Sta. Croce. They are numbered among the last productions of Giotto's expiring epoch, and the verge of the fourteenth century, in which we have still to mark, though pupils of some other school, the family of Orcagna; Bernardo, a painter; Jacopo, a sculptor; but chiefly Andrea, conspicuous for writing, painting, sculpture, and architecture, in a degree little inferior to Giotto himself. Architects date from him the abolition of the acute angle and restoration of semicircular arches, as in the Loggia of the Lanzi, which he likewise decorated with sculpture. Some, without attention to time, have supposed him the pupil of Angelo Gaddi, but he was probably trained to the art by his brother Bernardo, jointly with whom he painted in the Capella Strozzi of Sta. Maria Novella, in the Campo Santo at Pisa, and alone and better in Sta. Croce, Death, Judgement, Paradise, and Hell, placing with Dantesque licence his friends among the elect, his enemies with the damned.


The downfall of Pisa had raised Florence to the metropolis of Tuscany, and the spirit of its citizens to render its appearance worthy of that pre-eminence. Cosmo, styled the father of his country, who tuned the public affairs, might with better right have been called the father of distinguished talents: never was tyranny meditated on a less suspicious plan, or approached by more popular means. The house of the Medici, in the quaint Italian phrase, became the Lyceum of Philosophers, the Arcadia of Poets, the Academy of Artists. Dello, Paolo, Masaccio, the two Peselli, both the Lippi, Benozzo, Sandro, the Ghirlandai, were the clients of the family, and emulated each other in their homage. Their pictures, according to the usage of the age, full of portraits, perpetually presented to the people likenesses of the Medici, and often in the characters of the Magi royally robed, the sceptre firmly held in the gripe of the Medici, to prepare the public eye gradually for what it was soon to witness, the firm establishment of sovereignty in that House. The competition of rival citizens, and still more the wide-extended influence of religion, diffused Taste and beckoned Talent to Florence as to[172] its centre, from every part of Italy. At her call Donatello, Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, Filarete, the Rossellini, Verrocchio arose, and with their works spread the Elements of Art.

Poetry, that supplies the real features and materials of expression when it inspires the thought, arrives at the full display of its powers long before its sisters have disentangled themselves from the impediments of infancy; and of these, Sculpture, whose aim is infinitely less complex, raises the vigorous fabric of forms, whilst Painting is still impotently struggling with the rudiments of line, perspective, keeping, chiaroscuro, colour; which to unite in an equal degree has hitherto been found above the lot of humanity. The imitators of Giotto were in this state of struggle; they saw little in chiaroscuro, and less in perspective and line; their figures still slip from their planes, their fabrics have no true point of sight, their fore-shortenings depended solely on the eye: Stefano dal Ponte rather saw than overcame; the rest either avoided or palliated these difficulties. The Umbrian Pietro della Francesca seems to have been the first who called geometry to the assistance of painting, and taught[173] by his works at Arezzo the principles of perspective; Brunelleschi formed it into system for architecture, and the mathematician Manetti roused the attention of Paolo Uccello, who owes the perpetuity of his name nearly exclusively to the study of that science. His immoderate attachment to perspective is become proverbial;[46] and almost equalled his fondness for birds, from which he got his surname. He applied it, from grounds and buildings, to the human body, which he foreshortened with a skill unknown to his predecessors: and some proofs of it still exist in the figures of God and Noè among the chiaroscuroes in the chiostro of Sta. Maria Novella, and in the equestrian colossus of Gio. Aguto (John Montacute), which he painted in chiaroscuro of terra verde, and which is still in the duomo. The art, since its revival, perhaps for the first time showed that, if it had dared much, it had dared well: nor did he fall[174] short of it in the gigantic imagery of the House Vitali at Bologna; he was, however, more employed in painting private furniture: the triumphs of Petrarch on some small presses in the gallery of Florence are supposed to come from his hand. That he was a master of expression, the instances adduced by Vasari leave no doubt; and in describing the flying drapery of some friar in the series of pictures relative to S. Benedetto, the same writer tells us, that it served as a model to all succeeding artists: to such powers, praise of variety is added by the truth and diligence with which he copied trees, plants, birds and animals, and for which some critic styles him the Bassano of the first epoch. In the nearly general wreck of Paolo's works, it is difficult to form a judgment of his technic character independent of tradition: but, comparing what remains with what we are told, it is evident that he reached from one extreme of the Art to the other; and that, if he was blameable for frequently playing with a tool instead of using it, mistaking an instrument of the Art for Art itself, and means for the end of execution, he has been[175] deprived by partiality of the praise due to powers which he appears to have possessed in a degree unknown to the times that preceded Masaccio.

Masolino da Panicale cultivated chiaroscuro: he was enabled to treat it with more truth than his predecessors, by a long practice of modelling under the tuition of Lorenzo Ghiberti, the master of design and grouping in those days, but whose animation he did not attain. Starnina instructed him in colour; and thus by uniting the characteristics of two schools, he produced that new style, which, though still infected by dryness and clogged by inelegance, possesses grandeur, union and breadth: the proofs still remain in the chapel of S. Pietro al Carmine, where, besides the Evangelists, he painted several subjects from the story of that Apostle. The remaining ones, which he did not live to finish, were some years afterward added by his scholar Tomaso Gisioli, celebrated by the name of Masaccio from his careless way of living.

Historians, biographers, and poets, unite in dating a new period from Masaccio. The compass of his mind led him to uniformity of pursuit, and the introduction of style; he had[176] formed his principles on the works of Ghiberti and Donatello; perspective he had learnt of Brunelleschi, and in an excursion to Rome, it is unreasonable to suppose that he did not improve himself on the antique. Gentile da Fabriano and Vittore Pisanello were then at Rome, and the high opinion which they are said to have expressed of him[47] as the first painter of the age has been recorded: it is, however, difficult to say on what that opinion could be founded: they were too far advanced in life to see more of Masaccio than his juvenile essays, perhaps such as the S. Anna in S. Ambrogio at Florence, or what he painted in the chapel of St. Catherine, in the church of St. Clemens of Rome, the figures of the ceiling excepted, all retouched, and though fine works for the time, of doubtful authority, and in no manner to be compared to the pictures del Carmine. Here appear the virility of his powers and the legitimacy of his superior claim: here the figures, however varied by attitude, pose or are foreshortened with that truth and uniformity of success which the less established principles[177] of Paolo Uccello did not always reach. In expression, sublimity distinguishes Donatello; he always aims at, and sometimes succeeds in personifying a sentiment or a passion.[48] Masaccio, more dramatic, poises expression by character and propriety; hence he has been said, and truly said, to resemble Raffaello.

To be praised immoderately for what, with regard to judgment, deserved it least, has, as of others, been likewise the lot of Masaccio: the introduction and masterly execution of the man who, in the baptism of St. Peter, appears to shiver with cold, is extolled by Vasari, and makes, by the verdict of Lanzi, an epoch in art. Had the apostle immersed the race of a Northern clime, a man frost-bitten, (assiderando di freddo,) or impatient of cold, might have been admitted without impropriety, but under an Asiatic sun he is worse than superfluous. This either Masaccio did not consider, or if he did, fondly sacrificed propriety to the expression of an incident, which, had it[178] even been admissible, had in itself less dignity, and incomparably less pathos, than that of the sick monk on whose eyes and lips the hope of recovery seemed to tremble, introduced among the series of pictures from the life of St. Benedict, by Paolo Uccello.[49]

A higher and more legitimate praise of Masaccio's expression is, that Raffaello not only imitated its general character, but in the same or similar subjects sometimes individually adopted it, as in the gesture of Paul in the Cartoon of the Areopagus, and that of Adam dismissed from Paradise, in the Loggia; and that, if he improved the taste and added elegance to the Tuscan's drapery, he closely adhered to its principles, simplicity, propriety, and breath.

Of Masaccio's colour, what remains possesses truth, variety, delicacy, union, and great relief. He lived not to finish the whole of the Chapel, some stories still remaining to be added in 1443, the reputed year of his death,[50] which was[179] not without suspicion of having been hastened by poison. His other frescoes at Florence have been destroyed by time, and perhaps no gallery can produce an authentic picture by his hand, if we except the portrait of a youth in the Pitti palace, a work that breathes life.

Ghiberti and Donatello had taught Masaccio to find style by selection from nature; his followers for half a century, content to look at him without adhering to his method, gradually shrunk back to the exility and meagreness of the preceding age: without embarrassing ourselves with the angelic prettinesses of Frà Giovanni da Fiesole, a name dearer to sanctity than to art, and whom both his age and missal-taste prove the nursling of another school, we pass to Benozzo Gozzoli, his pupil, who strove to forget his puny lessons in the bolder dictates of Masaccio.

That he could not soon do it, is evident from the profusion of ornamental glitter and tinsel colouring in the frescoes of the Chapel Riccardi. He succeeded better at Pisa, where his Scripture stories cover an entire wing of Campo Santo. This enormous enterprise, which, in[180] the phrase of Vasari might smite with fear a legion of painters,[51] he is said to have completely achieved in two years. Everywhere inferior to his model in composition, design, and expression, he often goes beyond him in vastness and amenity of scenery, a certain play of ideas and picturesque exuberance. After all, perhaps more than one hand shared in the execution. Benozzo lived long, and lies buried near his work, where public gratitude had placed his sepulchre, and inscribed it with an eulogy.[52]

Filippo Lippi, a Carmelitan friar, studied and imitated the works of Masaccio, especially in compositions of small proportion, with great success. Suavity of conception and colour animates his angels and Madonnas: in the large historic frescoes at Pieve di Prato, he introduced proportions exceeding the natural size, praised as his masterpieces by Vasari, who has related Lippi's escape from the convent; his captivity among the Moors; the pictures which he painted at Naples, Padoua, and elsewhere;[181] his premature death by poison from the relatives of the female by whom he had a natural son, Filippino Lippi. Frà Filippo died at Spoleti, 1469, on the point of finishing his great work in the dome, where Lorenzo de' Medici, who had demanded but not obtained his ashes from the citizens, entombed them under a stately monument inscribed by Angelo Poliziano. His scholars and imitators were F. Diamante of Prato, the partner of his last work; F. Pesello of Florence, and Pesellino his son, whom, if we believe Vasari, shortness of life alone intercepted from superior excellence.

About this period the first attempts of painting in oil were made at Florence, by Andrea dal Castagno, of detested memory, who had improved himself by looking at Masaccio. Domenico, called Veneziano, to whom Antonello of Messina had communicated the novel mystery of Johan Van Eyk, after practising it with success at home, Loretto, and other parts of the Papal State, came to exercise it at Florence: caressed and encouraged, he excited the envy and cupidity of Castagno, who under the mask of submissive attachment, wheedled himself into his confidence, obtained the secret, and then[182] assassinated the hapless donor. The treacherous but complete acquisition added lustre to his practice during life, but time has swept the sacrilegious produce of his hand, and left nothing to the memory of "Andrea degli Impiccati," but the execration of posterity.[53]

The farther we leave Masaccio behind, the nearer we approach the golden epoch, the more lurid becomes the atmosphere of art. Mediocrity, tinsel ostentation, and tasteless diligence mark the greater number of that society of craftsmen whom Sixtus IV. conscribed (1474, Manni,) to decorate or rather to disfigure the panels of the grand Chapel which took its name from him (La Sistina): one of its sides was to be occupied by subjects from the Pentateuch, the other by Gospel stories. Pietro Perugino[183] excepted, the artists convoked were nearly all Florentines or Tuscans; viz. Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Bigordi, Cosimo Rosselli, Luca, Signorelli of Cortona, and Don Bartolomeo of Arezzo, with their assistants. The superintendence of the whole the Pope, with the usual vanity and ignorance of princes, gave to Sandro, the least qualified of the group, whose barbarous taste and dry minuteness palsied, or assimilated with his own, the powers of his associates, and rendered the whole a monument of puerile ostentation, and conceits unworthy of its place. Nor is it from what there remains of either, that the names of Luca Signorelli and Domenico Bigordi claim that attention which history owes to the first as the real precursor of Michael Angelo, and to the second as the master of his rudiments.

Luca Egidio Signorelli, of Cortona,[54] less to be considered as the reviver of Masaccio's style than as the founder of that which distinguished the succeeding epoch, might have led its banners, as his life stretched beyond that of Raphael and Lionardo, had his principle been more uniform. The greater part of his works exhibit[184] the evident struggle of his own perceptions with the prescriptive ones of his time, and a kind of coalition between the barbarity of the expiring and the emancipated taste of the rising æra. The best evidence of this is in the Duomo of Orvieto, where in the mixed imagery of final dissolution and infernal punishment, he has scattered ideas of original conception, character and attitude, in copious variety, but not without numerous remnants of Gothic alloy. The angels who announce the impending doom or scatter plagues, exhibit with awful simplicity bold foreshortenings, whilst the St. Michael presents only the tame heraldic figure and attitude of a knight all cased in armour. In the expression of the condemned groups and dæmons, he chiefly dwells on the supposed perpetual renewal of the pangs attending on the last struggles of life with death, contrasted with the inexorable scowl or malignant grin of fiends methodizing torture: a horrid feature reserved by Dante for the last pit of his Inferno, and far beyond the culinary abominations of Sandro Botticelli.[55]


Though Luca's style of design was no more that of Masaccio than Michael Agnolo's that of Raphael, less characteristic than grand, and fit to be the vehicle of those conceptions and attitudes which furnished hints of imitation to the painter of the Last Judgement in the Sistina, yet he was master of a grace in celestial scenery and angelic attitudes unapproached by his contemporaries, seldom equalled and never surpassed by his successors.

Luca Signorelli was a painter of much popularity. Urbino, Volterra, Florence, Rome, his native and many other towns, possess or possessed works of his. He was related to the family of the Vasari of Arezzo, and caressed and encouraged to the art his infant biographer.[56]

Another of the artists employed in the Sistina,[186] inferior to Luca, but of no despicable (though, if we look at Masaccio, too highly rated) powers, was Domenico Bigordi, commonly called Del Ghirlandajo;[57] this is he under whose auspices not only his son Ridolfo, but even Bonaroti and the best artists of the succeeding epoch, began their course. Precision of outline, decorum of countenance, variety of ideas, facility and diligence, distinguish his works. He is the first of Florentines, who gave depth and keeping to composition: if gold and tinsel glitter are not entirely banished from his colours, they appear at least less often. He was fond of introducing portraits among his actors, but with selection and of distinguished characters; though hands and feet had no part in his attention to physiognomy. The churches Degli Innocenti, Santa Trinità, and Sta. Maria Novella at Florence, possess his most celebrated productions, and many are scattered over Tuscany and the Ecclesiastic State. Of the two which he painted in the[187] Sistina, the Resurrection of Christ perished; the Vocation of Peter and Andrew to the Apostolate Survives.

Cosimo Rosselli and Pier di Cosimo likewise employed at the Sistina, inferior in all essential parts to their competitors, owe the perpetuity of their names less to their parti-coloured glare and immoderate display of gold and azure, which attracted the vulgar eye of their employer the Pope, than to the luck of having been the masters of Bartolomeo della Porta, and Andrea del Sarto.

Piero and Antonio Pollajuoli, though employed only as statuaries in the same Chapel, possessed no inconsiderable powers as painters. Piero's pictures at S. Miniato discover the scholar of Castagno, austere countenances and deep and massy colour; but in novelty of composition and design he yields to his brother and pupil Antonio, whose Martyrdom of St. Sebastian in the Chapel Pucci of that church, though humble in style, crude in colour, and oddly rather than originally conceived, has been numbered with the first productions of the age, because with the earliest traces of legitimate anatomy it exhibits its application, and subordinates[188] enumeration to function. Both the Pollajuoli died at Rome.

Don Bartolomeo of Arezzo, having nothing to add of his own to the works of the Sistina, is mentioned here only as the helper of Luca Signorelli and Pietro Perugino; nor is Filippino Lippi, the natural son of Frà Filippo, numbered among the companions of Sandro his master, though the perpetual recurrence of antique customs and dresses in his works makes it probable that he formed his juvenile studies at Rome. Inferior in real capacity to his father, he may be praised rather for the accessory than the substantial parts of his works: he filled with an unequal hand the remaining panels left by Masaccio al Carmine; and in the Minerva at Rome, yields the palm in expression and amenity of ideas to his own scholar Raffaelino del Garbo, whose early works at Monte Oliveto of Florence, and elsewhere, give sufficient evidence that he might have raised himself to the first artists of his day, had not the cravings of a numerous family crushed his powers, and poverty and dejection hastened his death. His contemporary Andrea Verocchio, though a celebrated statuary, and a designer of[189] style, has deserved our notice as a painter, only because he was the master of Lionardo da Vinci, the first name in the annals of Tuscany's golden epoch.

Vinci, a burgh of Lower Valdarno, had the honour of giving a surname to Lionardo, the natural son[58] of one Ser Piero, a state notary at Florence. Elevated by nature above the common standard of men, born to discover, he joined to boundless inquiry intrepidity of pursuit, and lofty conception to minute investigation, nor only in the arts connected with his own, music and poesy, but in science, philosophy, mathematics, mechanics, hydrostatics: this wide mental range, supported by equal vigour and gracefulness of body, was commended by every accomplishment of a gentleman. Such[190] was the genius whom Nature had destined to establish art on elements, to open the realms of light and shade, to inspire the subject with its tone, and to poise expression between insipidity and caricature.

Notwithstanding the distractions of so many diverging inclinations, for powers they could not yet be called, an innate attachment to the art appears to have predominated at the earliest period to such a degree that Ser Piero determined to place Lionardo under his friend Verocchio, whom he soon excelled in painting,[59] and in modelling equalled.

The obscurity which involves the life of Lionardo from his boyish years, through the bloom of youth, to the vigour of manhood, can only be accounted for by that independence of[191] mind which made him prefer indulgence of his own various inclinations to a decided, steady, and if more confined, more lucrative pursuit of art. By what means he, whom Vasari describes as possessing "nothing,"[60] was enabled to gratify studies and fancies equally expensive, no where appears; it appears not that he was patronized by the great and rich; he escaped the eye of the Medici;[61] it was reserved for Lodovico Sforza to discover and to conduct the first citizen of Florence to Milano, and for aught we are told, rather from expectation of amusement than motives of homage. Lodovico was a dilettante in music, and wished to increase the harmony of his concerts with the silver tones of the lyre, invented and constructed by Lionardo, who, we are told, soon distanced all rival performers, and by the aid of his powers as an[192] "Improvisatore," became the object of general admiration: it was then, and perhaps not till then, that the Duke cast a steadier eye on his superior accomplishments, and allowed the musician to become a benefactor to the public in adopting his plans for the establishment and direction of an academy; and granting the means for carrying into effect the still more important ones of conducting the Adda to Milano, and a navigable canal from Martisana to Chiavenna, and the Valteline, &c. plans and effects only interrupted by the fall of the Sforzas and the captivity of Lodovico.


[44] This picture has been confounded with another of the same subject by the same master, and the addition of the Donor's portrait, Frate Elia, which exists no more. The mutilated inscription on that mentioned above, has been thus restored by Lanzi,

JunTINI Me fecit.

[45] Born 1240, died 1300.

[46] "Oh che dolce cosa è questa prospettiva!" Oh what a dulcet thing is this perspective! This exclamation, usual with Paolo nodding over his compasses when his wife called him to bed, though too late to furnish the hint of a Novel to Boccaccio, has been fondly repeated by some grave writers from Vasari to the author of Lorenzo de' Medici, and has contributed to place Paolo, with the mystic help of his surname, in rather a ludicrous light.

[47] Maffei's Verona Illustrata, t. iii. p. 277.

[48] He was the precursor of Michael Agnolo, and deserved the motto by which Borghini marked some of their designs in the portfolio of Vasari, (Vita di Donato.) viz.

Ἠ Δωνατος Βοναρρωτιζει,
Ἠ Βοναρρωτος Δωνατιζει.

[49] "Vi è un monacho vecchio con due grucce sotto le braccia, nel qual si vide un affetto mirabile, e forse speranza di riaver la sanità."—Vasari, Vita di P. Uccello, t. ii. p. 56.

[50] Born in 1401.

[51] "Opera Terribilissima—impresa chi arebbe giustamente fatto paura a una legione di pittori." On the whole, Vasari seems to lay more stress on the quantity than the quality of Benozzo's works.

[52] 1478.

[53] 1478, when by the conspiracy of the Pazzi and their adherents, Giuliano de' Medici was assassinated in S. Maria del Fiore, and his brother Lorenzo wounded, it was resolved by the Signoria that paintings of the conspirators, hung by their feet, should be exposed in front of the Governor's palace; and the commission being given to Andrea, he executed it with such felicity of resemblance, such variety of hanging attitudes, and so much to the contentment of connoisseurs, that from that instant he lost the name of Andrea dal Castagno in that of "Andrea degli Impiccati," or of the hanged.—Vasari. Of this exhibition the loss may be regretted, as it would have showed us Andrea in his element.

[54] 1439-40—1521.

[55] There is to the old edition in folio, of Dante, by Niccolo della Magna, a print of the Inferno annexed, which bears the name of Sandro Botticelli; Vasari in his Life says, that he commented a part of Dante and figured his Inferno and published it.

[56] He was the nephew of Lazzaro Vasari, a helper of Pietro della Francesca, and great uncle of Giorgio the biographer; who in the Life of Luca, with not less fondness than vanity, relates the admonition and encouragement he gave to his father and himself, in a visit which he paid in his old age to their family at Arezzo.—Vita di L. Signorelli, t. iii. p. 9.

[57] His father, who was a goldsmith, invented and first manufactured the garlands which were at that time the fashionable head-dress of the Florentine girls.—Vasari, Vita di D. Ghirlandajo, vol. ii. p. 410.

[58] Among the uncertainties of dates, those relative to the birth of illegitimate children, for obvious reasons the most frequent, are the most perplexing. The birth of Lionardo has been fixed at various dates, viz. 1443; Lett. Pittor. t. ii. p. 192; 1445, according to the computation of Vasari; 1455, by Dargenville; 1467, by Padre Resta; with more probability 1444, by D.V. Pagave of Milano, followed by Fiorillo; but with most at 1452, by Durazzini, adopted by Lanzi. It seems improbable that Verocchio, the friend of Ser Piero, should have been only twelve years older than his pupil. Lionardo died in 1519.

[59] In the figure of the Angel, conceived and executed by him, in the Baptism of the Saviour, at St. Salvi, which excelled the work of Verocchio so much, that indignant to be outdone by a boy, he dropped the pencil, and for ever abandoned painting. The statues of St. Thomas, in Orsanmichele at Florence, and of the Horse of Collevere at Venice, prove that Verocchio's real talent was sculpture: but the models of the three statues cast in bronze, by Rustici, for S. Giov. at Florence, and that of the great horse at Milano, place the pupil at least upon a level with the master in that branch of art.

[60] "E non avendo egli, si può dir nulla, e poco lavorando, del continuo tenne servitori, e cavalli, &c." For all this it is the more difficult to account, as an attempt to possess himself of the philosopher's stone has never been mentioned among Lionardo's eccentricities, though he was familiar with alchymists.

[61] Lorenzo de' Medici occurs not in the Life of Lionardo, and his acquaintance with Leo X. and Giuliano de' Medici relates to the latter periods of it.



We are now arrived at the epoch which forms the distinctive character of the Tuscan school, the epoch of Michael Agnolo. In placing him here, chronology has been less attended to than the spirit of works; for Frà Bartolomeo, Andrea del Sarto, and others, his contemporaries or juniors, belong more properly to the period of Lionardo than his; the elements of which he gave in the Cartoon of Pisa, and the consummation in the Capella Sistina, on which his school and the imitation of his style were founded; and to which the politics of his time, the splendid oligarchy of the Medici, and the fierce republican spirit of their opponents, gave an energy and produced efforts, unknown to society in repose.

Notwithstanding the insinuating arts by[194] which the Medici had debauched public affection, and that undermining power which at last changed influence to tyranny, they were in less than a century[62] three times exiled from their country. The first, the banishment of Cosmo, called the Father of his Country, lasted not above one year, and drew no consequences; for the interval between it and the next (1494) was marked with uniform success, and its last twenty years[63] with the splendid administration and the extended patronage of Lorenzo the Magnificent. His Garden near the church of S. Marco, which he opened as a repository and a school of art, has been little less celebrated than the Hesperian ones of old: it contained, if not all that had been discovered, what could be purchased of antique statues, basso-relievoes, and fragments of every kind; and the apartments were hung with pictures, cartoons, and designs of Donatello, Brunellesco, Paolo Uccello. Frà Giovanni da Fiesole, Masaccio, &c.; here the student was not only instructed, but, by the magnificence of the founder, supported;[195] and it may without exaggeration be asserted, that whatever rose to eminence in the art at that period, was the offspring of Lorenzo's garden.

His death was followed by the expulsion of his sons, Pietro, Giovanni, afterwards Leo X., and Julian, in the sequel Duke of Nemours. An immediate anarchy succeeded the expulsion; the populace broke into their houses, destroyed or carried off their furniture, and demolished the residence of Giovanni, the garden of Lorenzo, and the palace on the Via Larga,[64] at once. The numerous partisans of the family, however, contrived to save much.[65]

Other circumstances conspired to render this interval of anarchy pernicious to art, till the return of the Medici in 1512. Towards the close of the fifteenth century, the Dominican Frà Girolamo Savonarola, of enthusiastic memory, by prophecies and sermons, loaded with democratic principles, gained gradually such an ascendancy[196] over the minds of the people, that the Signoria found themselves forced to adopt a senate at large; in other words, to submit to a democracy. But Savonarola, not content with political victory, aimed at a total revolution in morals, and continued to lash the profligacy of public manners, overflowing in voluptuous song and music, or gazing at the lascivious nudities of statues and pictures, as irresistible incentives to vice. It had been customary during carnival, to erect certain cabins in the market-place, to set them on fire on the eve of Ash-Wednesday, and bid them farewell amid the shouts of convivial mirth and the frolic of amorous dalliance. Savonarola instituted in 1497 a public festival of another kind: a large scaffold was erected in the market-place, a vast number of the finest specimens in painting and sculpture, offensive from their nudities, were collected; the pictures placed on the first step; the sculptures, especially when portraits of first-rate Florentine belles, disposed on the second; the whole inclosed by foreign precious tapestry, and that, with great solemnity, set on fire. The scaffolding of the next year excelled the first in magnificence; its gorgeous apparel invested the[197] busts of the most celebrated beauties of former years; those of the Bencina, Lena Morella, Bina and Maria de'Lenzi, works of the most eminent sculptors; on it was placed a copy of Petrarca, decorated with gold, missal-painting, and miniatures, estimated at fifty scudi d'oro; and to prevent theft, the whole was constantly guarded. The procession approached, surrounded the scaffold, and amid a concert of consecrating hymns, bells, trumpets, cymbals, and the acclamations of the Signoria and the people, the victims, sprinkled with holy water, were delivered to flame by the torches of the guards.[66] Such was the epidemic influence of this enthusiasm, that even artists, the gentle Frà Bartolomeo, Lorenzo di Credi, and many more caught the infection, and contributed to the sacrifice, till the death of Savonarola and the return of the Medici extinguished the furor.[67]

The democracy, however, gave origin to two works, which not only atoned for the ravages[198] it had committed, but whose splendour no subsequent æra of art has been able to eclipse, or perhaps to equal: the two Cartoons of Lionardo da Vinci and M. Angelo Buonarroti, destined to decorate the senatorial hall, by order of Pietro Soderini. They produced an immediate revolution in art, but disappeared like meteors in the tumult that attended the reinstatement of the Medici and the fall of the Gonfaloniere, 1512.

The third expulsion of the Medici—Hippolyto and Alessandro, the sons of Giuliano the Magnificent, and all their relatives—was the consequence of the sack of Rome, 1527, and the Pontificate of Clemente VII. The Medici, pressed by the moment, consigned part of their technic treasure, their bronzes, cameos, &c. to the care of their client Baccio Bandinelli.[68] During the havoc, Michael Angelo's statue[199] of David lost an arm,[69] and the waxen figures of Leo X. and Clemente VII. in the church of the "Annunciata," were mutilated and carried off; and perhaps much more was lost in the demolition of the suburbs, which took place to secure the town itself against the siege of 1529. But active resistance and lampoons proved equally ineffectual; the destiny of the Medici prevailed, and Florence paid ducal homage in 1530 to Alessandro; whose assassination, indeed, by Lorenzo his relative, commonly called Lorenzino, produced, six years afterwards, another sedition and farther damage to their stores of art by the soldiers, who, at the instigation of Alessandro Vitelli, broke into and plundered both their houses. Cosmo the First succeeded Alessandro, and left uninterrupted dominion to his heirs: but if the consolidation of monarchy prevented the momentary devastations of insurrection, it failed to re-produce the splendid period that flashed athwart the storms of democracy.




M. Angelo was born at Castel Caprese, and showed such early proofs of a decided attachment to art, that he was put into the school of Domenico del Ghirlandaio. Here he soon advanced beyond the principles of the master, who, jealous of a rival in his pupil, recommended him to Lorenzo de Medici, for admission among the students of sculpture in his garden; where, under the tuition of Bertoldo,[201][70] an ancient scholar of Donatello, he soon mastered the elements, and, equally conspicuous for his superiority and diligence, attracted the attention and gained the patronage of Lorenzo, but excited the envy of his fellow-students, one of whom, Torrigiano, on some slight provocation, with a blow of the fist shattered his nose, which left him with a mark for life.

That predilection for sculpture imbibed from his earliest days and now invigorated by the incessant study of the antique with practice, the successful specimens mentioned in copies and productions of his own,[71] leave little authority to the tradition that he studied much after Masaccio.

His mind appears to have anticipated the expulsion of the Medici, and he left Florence for Bologna, where he found a protector in Aldrovandi, for whom he executed two small statues, of an Angel and of a St. Petronius on the tomb of S. Dominico. After his return to Florence he continued to work in sculpture, and a legend, less probable than amusing, of an Amor sold[202] for an antique to Cardinal Riario, has been fondly repeated by his biographers. He now went to Rome and produced two of his most surprising works—the Bacchus of the Museo Fiorentino, and the Madonna della Pietà in one of the chapels of the Basilica of S. Pietro. On his return to Florence, Pietro Soderini tried his powers on a huge block of marble, mutilated by the ignorance of one Maestro Simone: he contrived to rear from it the statue of David, which, in 1504, was placed, and still remains in front of the old palace. These works, not less discriminated by peculiarity of character, than connected by propriety of style and energy of finish, were produced within the short period of six years, and equally prove the wide range of his powers, and the perseverance of his application to sculpture.

What he did as painter, during, or soon after this period, is for us reduced to the single specimen which he executed for Angelo Doni; for the far-famed Cartoon of Pisa, of which we soon shall have occasion to speak, begun in contest with Lionardo da Vinci, but not finished till after his second return from Rome, perished, as a whole, long before the middle of the sixteenth century.


Soon after his election to the Pontificate, Giulio II. smitten with the wish of a sepulchral monument, called M. Angelo to Rome for that purpose. His first plan was to make it colossal, and on all sides detached, but the obstacles which were thrown in its way for a number of years, reduced it at length to the form in which it now appears at S. Pietro in Vincoli, with probably one figure only by M. Angelo's own hand, the celebrated statue of Moses in front. The attachment of Giulio to M. Angelo was great, but the independent spirit of the artist greater. Indignant at being refused access once to the Pontiff, whose mind was worried by the disturbances at Bologna, he fled, and though pursued by five messengers with letters pressing him to come back, obstinately went on to Florence; nor could his three breves[72] addressed[204] to the Signoria, draw him from his asylum; till Pier Soderini guaranteed his safety by investing him with the title of envoy from the Republic. Thus equipped, and accompanied by Cardinal Soderini, brother to the Gonfaloniere, he set out for Bologna, was reconciled to the Pope, and made his statue in bronze. It was placed over the gate of S. Petronio, but was thrown down in 1511 by the party of the Bentivogli, and, with the exception of the head, said to have been preserved by Duke Alfonso of Ferrara, converted into a piece of heavy artillery.

Scarcely returned to Rome, M. Angelo, by command of Giulio, instigated as it is supposed by Bramante and Giuliano da Sangallo, found himself forced to try his powers on a novel theatre of art, the decoration of the ceiling and lunette of the Capella Sistina. Whatever were the motives of the two architects, whether private pique, or envy of M. Angelo's influence over the Pontiff, or friendship for Raffaello, and the desire of showing his superiority over one whom they deemed a novice in fresco,[205] they deserved the thanks of their own and every succeeding epoch, for the most eminent service ever rendered to art. Vasari owns that M. Angelo, conscious of his want of practice, endeavoured to escape from the commission, and even proposed Raffaello as fitter for the task; but his powers soon supplied what circumstances had refused, and single conquered with every obstacle Time itself; for, nearly fabulous to relate, the whole, though interrupted more than once by the Pontiff's impatience, was sufficiently finished to be exhibited to the public in one year and ten months.

This task finished, M. Angelo, eager to resume his labours on the monument, was disappointed by the sudden death of Giulio, (1513,) and the election of Leo X. produced a total change in his situation; he was ordered to Florence to construct the front of the Laurentian Library.

Though the death of Leo, or rather the accession of Adrian VI. had paralysed art, Michael Angelo employed the dull interim by adding some statues to the monument of Giulio; till, in 1523, Clemente VII. reappointed him to the superintendence of the new sacristy and library of S. Lorenzo. It was about this[206] time that he finished and sent to Rome the statue of Christ, still placed in the Minerva.

The arts received a new shock from the sack of Rome, 1527, and the expulsion of the Medici from Florence, at which crisis the Signoria conferred on Michael Angelo, who was a warm Republican,[73] the superintendence of the fortifications[207] and the defence of Monte Miniato, on which the safety of the city depended. Meanwhile what time he could save from his public trust, he secretly[75] employed to finish or advance the symbolic and monumental statues[208] of S. Lorenzo, and from the cartoon to paint in distemper a Leda for the Duke of Ferrara. Finding, however, that no defence could save the city, he saved himself by the secret paths of S. Miniato, and escaped to Venice, 1529; from whence he only returned to find the dominion of the Medici once more established, himself pardoned, again employed by Clemente at S. Lorenzo, and soon after sent for to Rome on a plan of painting two central frescoes, the Last Judgement and the Fall of Lucifer, for the Sistine Chapel,—long favourite ideas of the artist,[76] but with the works at Florence for that time checked by the death of Clemente,[209] 1534. He now with redoubled ardour applied to the monument of Giulio, urged by his devotion to the house of De Rovere, the considerable pecuniary advance he had received, and the threats of the executors and the Duke of Urbino; but the accession of Paul III. again frustrated his exertions: the Pontiff resolved to have the exclusive boast of powers he had so long admired, interposed his authority, and obliged the executors and agents of the Duke to give up the original circumambient plan, and content themselves with the storied front which exists now.

This adjusted, Michael Angelo immediately proceeded to comply with the wishes of the Pope: if Paolo was inferior to Giulio in impetuosity, he was his equal in fervour of attachment to art, and excelled him, if not every other name which patronage has distinguished, in personal respect and public homage to the artist. No work ever received countenance[210] and honours equal to those conferred on the Last Judgement of Michael Angelo, from its plan to its ultimate finish by Paolo Farnese. His first visit to the artist was attended by a train of ten cardinals:[77] though ambitious to have the work consecrated to his own name, in deference to Michael Angelo's attachment to the memory of Giulio, he submitted to his refusal of displacing the arms of De Rovere at the top of the picture, in favour of the Farnesian.[78] Induced by the specious sophistry of[211] Sebastian del Piombo to prefer oil to fresco in the execution of the work, he permitted the wall to be prepared for that purpose, but on Michael Angelo's declaring oil painting an art for women only and sedentary tameness, he yielded to the decision, and patiently saw the whole apparatus dashed to the ground. When, before its final disclosure to the public, he took a private view of the whole composition at the Chapel, less convinced than irritated by the bigoted philippic of an attendant prelate against the daring display of immodest nudity, he acquiesced in the artist's well-known revenge, and refused to revoke or mitigate[212] the punishment inflicted on the unlucky critic.[79]

The first conception of the Last Judgement, which completes the plan originally laid down for the decoration of the Chapel, notwithstanding the obstacles which protracted the execution,[213] must find its date in the Pontificate of Giulio, from the Cartoons probably begun under Clemente. M. Angelo proceeded to the fresco itself at an early period, if not immediately after the accession of Paolo, 1534, and finished it in 1541, or perhaps 1542; for both these years are mentioned by Vasari; who, if not present at the removal of the scaffolding, attended its immediate display to the public. The completion of this 'multitudinous' work, M. Angelo, at an age of 68, or somewhat beyond, might justly consider as the consummation of his public career in painting: but the Pontiff, still ambitious to possess exclusive specimens of his powers in a fabric built by his own orders and consecrated to his own name, obliged him to continue his labours in two huge frescoes of the Capella Paolina, representing the Conversion of St. Paul and the Crucifixion of St. Peter. The lassitude inseparable from the waste of so much energy on the Last Judgement, the mental and bodily fatigue attendant on the arrangement and execution of new plans, if less enormous less congenial, protracted their ultimate completion to his 75th year, proved them children of necessity rather than choice, and[214] confirmed the truth of his observation to Vasari, that painting in fresco, the union of powers required for a great public work, is not an art of old age.

And here indeed terminates the career of the Painter; the remainder of his life was divided between architecture and sculpture. This, which had always been his favourite pursuit, was now become the darling companion of his private hours, the amusement of his solitude, and the preservative of his health—for this purpose he furnished his study with a colossal block, destined for the complicated group of a Pietà: but though age had neither tamed his conception nor palsied his hand,[80] it checked his perseverance; he no longer struggled to subdue the flaws of his[215] materials or to give them the air of beauties; he dismissed the group unfinished, and continued to exercise himself on another of inferior size.

The death of Antonio da S. Gallo, 1546, put it in the power of Paolo to create M. Angelo architect of S. Pietro, a trust of which he acquitted himself with a superiority which baffled all the opposition of venality and envy. He was probably, from Ictinus to our time, the first and the last of architects who refused salary and emolument, and consecrated his labours to divine love. Some of his successors, perhaps, might insinuate that he indemnified himself with being at the same time architect of the Campidoglio and the Farnese Palace.

After the demise of Paolo, Cosmo I. Duke of Florence, by means of Vasari, earnestly intreated him to pass the remainder of his life at Florence; but the infirmities of age, and still more, inward grief for the subversion of the republic, with indignation at the established usurpation of the Medici, rendered these intreaties[216] ineffectual. Equally unshaken by them and the vile rumour of his dotage, spread by the venal gang of Pirrho Ligorio, after crowning the Basilica with its cupola, he steered through calm and tempest on to his ninetieth year, the last of his life, 1564, and was buried in S. Apostoli; but, by the orders of Cosmo, secretly conveyed to Florence, where the pomp of academical exequies, the starched eloquence of Varchi, and a monument in Santa Croce from a design of Vasari, awaited his remains.

It is difficult to decide who understood Michael Angelo less, his admirers or his censors; though both rightly agree in placing him at the head of an epoch; those of the re-establishment, these of the perversion, of style.

All extremes touch each other: languid praise and frigid censure belong to the paths of mediocrity, but he who enlarges the circle of knowledge, passes from the realm of talents to that of genius, leaps on an undiscovered or long-lost shore, and stamps it with his name, commands indiscriminate homage, and provokes irreconcilable censure. He who reflects on the "Più che Uman, Angelo divino" of Ariosto, the "via terribile" of Agostino[217] Carracci, and for centuries on the general homage of a nation allowed to legislate in art, will not be easily persuaded that these epithets, this prerogative, were granted to an artist merely for correctness of design or anatomic discrimination, or that he exclusively obtained them for uniting sculpture, painting, and architecture in himself; three branches of one stem, and diverging only in mechanism and application, they have been more than once eminently united by others, and were seldom altogether separated before the time of Carlo Maratta. And yet this is all on which the eminence of Michael Angelo has been hitherto supposed to rest, all that can be gathered from the astrologic nonsense and the Tuscan loquacity of his blind adorer, Vasari—and what he found not, it would be time idly lost to search for in his contemporaries and successors, down to Reynolds, who, though chiefly smitten with the breadth of Michael Angelo, knew him better than all the copyists of his school.

The art preceded Michael Angelo as a craft; more or less practice alone distinguishes Pietro Perugino from Cimabue: whilst copy and imitation[218] remain synonymes, there can be no choice in art; instead of the real nature it will copy the accidents of objects, and substitute the model for the man.

Michael Angelo appeared and soon felt that the candidate of legitimate fame is to build his works, not on the imbecile forms of a degenerate race, disorganized by clime, country, education, laws, and society; not on the transient refinements of fashion or local sentiment, unintelligible beyond their circle and century to the rest of mankind; but to graft them on Nature's everlasting forms and those general feelings of humanity, which no time can efface, no mode of society obliterate;—and in consequence of these reflections discovered the epic part of painting: that basis, that indestructibility of forms and thoughts, that simplicity of machinery on which Homer defied the ravages of time, which sooner or later must sweep to oblivion every work propped by baser materials and factitious refinements.

The subject of the Sistine Chapel is Theocracy and Religion, the Origin and the first Duty of Man. All minute discrimination of character is alien to the primeval simplicity[219] of the moment—God and Man alone appear. The veil of Eternity is rent; Time, Space, and Matter teem; life darts from God, and adoration from the creature; deviation from this principle is the origin of Evil; the economy of Justice and Grace commences; Prophets and Sibyls in awful synod are the heralds of the Redeemer, and the host of patriarchs the pedigree of the Son of Man. The brazen Serpent and the fall of Haman, the Giant subdued by the Stripling, and the Conqueror destroyed by female weakness, are types of His mysterious progress, till Jonah pronounces Him immortal, and the magnificence of the Last Judgement sums up the whole and re-unites the Founder and the race.

Michael Angelo, in his Last Judgement, with a few exceptions, has wound up the life of man, considered as the subject of religion, faithful or rebellious; and in a generic manner has distributed happiness and misery.

The more finished a character, the more, discriminated by his actions and turn of thought from his contemporaries, he pursues paths of his own, so much the more he attracts, so much the more he repels; the ardour of the one is[220] equal to the violence of the other: he is not merely disliked, he is detested by all who have no sense for him; whilst by those who enter his train of thought, or sympathise with him, he is adored. Indifference has no share in what relates to him, it is a softer word for antipathy—it resembles the indifference of a female wooed; her indifference, her apathy, is a refusal without a verbal repulse. Where yes or no must decide, the mouth that can form neither, rejects. The principles, the style of Michael Angelo, are of that so closely-connected magnitude, that they are either all true or all false: pretended gold is either gold or not—the purer, the simpler a substance, the less it can coalesce with another; a pretended diamond of the size of a fist, is either of inestimable value or of none. If Michael Angelo did not establish art on a solid basis, he subverted it; he can claim only the heresies of paradox and receive their reward—disgust.

What Armenini relates as a proof of his nearly intuitive power of conception and execution, may be repeated as a much stronger instance of his deference and gratitude for the most humble claims. "Meeting one day, behind[221] S. Pietro, with a young Ferrarese, a potter who had baked some model of his, M. Angelo thanked him for his care, and in return offered him any service in his power: the young man, emboldened by his condescension, fetched a sheet of paper, and requested him to draw the figure of a standing Hercules: M. Angelo took the paper, and retiring to a small shed near by, put his right foot on a bench, and with his elbow on the raised knee and his face on his hand stood meditating a little while, then began to draw the figure, and having finished it in a short time, beckoned to the youth, who stood waiting at a small distance, to approach, gave it him, and went away toward Belvedere. That design, as far as I was then able to judge, in precision of outline, shadow, and finish, no miniature could excel; it afforded matter of astonishment to see accomplished in a few minutes what might have been reasonably supposed to have taken up the labour of a month."

After the demise of Raffaello, legislation in Art was no longer disputed with M. Angelo; he not only became the oracle of youth, but appears to have inherited all the popularity of his great rival. A signal, though little known proof[222] of this, is told by Bellori, in the Life of Federigo Barrocci, who, he says, used to tell, that when, drawing one day in company with Taddeo Zuccari a frieze of Polidoro, Michael Angelo, as usual, passed by on his little mule on his way to the palace, all the youths rose and ran to meet him with their drawings in their hands; Federigo alone remained bashfully behind in his place, which when Taddeo saw, he took his little portfolio to Michael Angelo, who attentively examined the designs, among which was a careful copy of his Moses; he praised it, and desiring to see the lad who had drawn that figure, animated him to pursue the method of study which he had begun.

The deference which he paid to the unassuming and the humble, he amply redeemed by the full assumption of his rights, and conscious assertion of superiority, when provoked to the contest by those who considered themselves as his equals, entered into competition with him, or attempted to share in his labours. Thus he repaid the sarcasms of Pietro Perugino, by calling him publicly a dunce in art; and when Pietro smarting, impatient of the ridicule, summoned him to the Tribunal of the Eight, he made good his[223] charge, and saw him dismissed with contempt. Thus he rejected all partnership with Jacopo Sansovino, in the execution of the Facciata of San Lorenzo at Florence, though Leone X. appears to have intended it, by sending both together to Pietra Santa to provide the marbles necessary for that purpose, and examining both their models.

When Paolo III. had resolved on the fortifications of the Borgo, and, in order to ascertain the best mode of doing it, had assembled many persons of rank, with Antonio da Sangallo, Michael Angelo, as architect of the fortifications of S. Miniato at Florence, was likewise invited to join the assembly, and, after much contest, his opinion asked; he freely told it, though contrary to that of Sangallo and others present; and when the architect bade him to be content with the prerogatives of sculpture and painting without pretending to skill in fortification, he replied, that of the former two he knew little, but that of fortification, considering the time his mind had dwelt on it, and the proofs he had given of the solidity of his theory, he did not hesitate to claim more knowledge than what came to the share of Sangallo and all his relatives; and then[224] proceeded, in the presence of all, to point out the many errors which Antonio had committed.

Another instance of a still greater independence of mind, Vasari[81] has recorded in the peremptory answer which M. Angelo gave to the Committee of Cardinals, &c. instigated by the partisans of Sangallo, (La Setta Sangallesca, Vasari,) to inspect the process of the fabric of S. Pietro, and to examine his plan. Ignorant of his design to derive the main light of the edifice from the cupola, they found fault with the scanty distribution of light, and told the Pontiff that M. Angelo had spoiled S. Pietro, and instead of a luminous temple, was erecting a gloomy vault. Giulio having communicated this to him at a general meeting of the deputies and inspectors, M. Angelo replied, I wish to hear these deputies talk myself: "Here we are," answered Cardinal Marcello—"Then know, Monsignore," said he, "that over these windows, in the vault which is to be raised, there are to be placed three more."—"You never told us this before!" said Cervino.—"No," replied M. Angelo, "I am not, nor ever will be bound to tell your Eminence, or any other person, what I must or what I mean to do: your duty is to provide[225] money and take care that it be not stolen; what belongs to the plan and execution of the building you are to leave to me." Then turning to the Pope, "Holy Father," continued he, "you see what I gain; the fatigue I undergo is time and labour lost, unless my soul gain by it." The Pope, who loved him, and rejoiced at the defeat of the cabal, laying hands on his shoulders, said, "Doubt not your soul and body shall be equal gainers by it."

Among the many expectations in which he was disappointed, that which he appears to have formed on the early talent of Jacopo Carucci, as it was the most sanguine, must have been the most distressing; for, on seeing his figures of Faith and Charity with attendant Infants, in fresco, at the Nunziata, and considering them as produced by a youth of nineteen, he said, in the words of Vasari, "This young man, from what appears, grant life and pursuit, will raise this art to heaven."

But Jacopo did neither long pursue the same principles nor adopt superior ones: infected, like Andrea del Sarto, by the temporary fever which the style of Albert Durer had spread[226] over Florence. He was, however, the favourite copyist in oil of M. Angelo's Cartoons, and as such, in preference, recommended by him to Alfonso D'Avalo, Marchese del Guasto, and Bartolomeo Bettini, his friend, who had obtained cartoons, the former of a Noli-me-tangere; this of a naked Venus caressed by Cupid.[82]


The name of Giuliano Bugiardini, supported only by its own feeble powers, would probably long have sunk to oblivion, had it not been kept afloat by the personal attachment of M. Angelo. In Vasari, Giuliano is the synonyme, of helpless impotence; he had certainly neither the dexterity nor the grasp of the Aretine biographer; but he also had neither the pretension nor the craft. There is, and chiefly among artists, a singular class of men, who, with great moral simplicity, but a capacity less than moderate, court with ungovernable passion an art which they are doomed never to possess, but to whom self-complacency compensates for every disappointment of the most ungrateful perseverance, public neglect and private irrision: they neither envy nor suspect, and though not intimidated by a superiority which they do not fully comprehend, are ready to respect the part that comes within their compass. Such a man was Bugiardini; and such a character M. Angelo was likely to appreciate;[83] and though aware that he was not equal to serious communication in art, to select him as a companion of[228] his leisure, and to assist or submit to him, as the simplicity of his character required;—of either we shall select from Vasari an instance. When he was occupied with the picture of Sta. Catherina, for the Church of Sta. Maria Novella, he requested the advice of M. Angelo on the arrangement of a file of soldiers which he meant to place on the foreground, flying, fallen, wounded, killed; because the idea of their having formed a file, could not be expressed within the scanty space he had allotted them, without having recourse to fore-shortenings, which he confessed to be beyond his power. M. Angelo, to please him, took a coal, and with his own comprehension drew on the panel a file of naked figures, variously fore-shortened, falling different ways, forwards, backwards, with others dead or wounded: but the whole being merely in outlines, left Giuliano still at a loss. Tribolo, therefore, to draw him from this dilemma, undertook to form them in clay, leaving the surface of each figure rough, to increase more forcibly the chiaroscuro: this method, however, so little pleased the neatness of Giuliano, that the moment Tribolo left him, he with a wet pencil licked them into a polish, which took away grain and effect together,[229] and when the picture was finished, left no trace of M. Angelo's ever having seen it.

Messer Ottaviano de' Medici had requested Giuliano to paint him a portrait of M. Angelo. He obtained the consent of M. Angelo: having held him between chat and work two hours at the first sitting—for M. Angelo delighted to hear him talk—Giuliano got up, and said, "M. Angelo, if you want to see yourself, rise: I have settled the character of the face." M. Angelo rose, looked at the portrait, and said, smiling, "What the devil (che diavolo) have you been doing? you have clapt one of the eyes into one of the temples—look to it." Giuliano having for some time looked silently at the portrait, and the sitter, resolutely replied, "I do not see what you said; but take your place, and I'll give another glance at nature." M. Angelo, who knew where the defect lay, sat down again sneering; and Giuliano, having eyed repeatedly now the picture and now M. Angelo, at last rose and said, "It appears to me that the thing is as I have drawn it, and that nature shows it so." "Oh, then it is a defect of nature!" replied Michael Angelo, "go on and prosper in your work."

Francesco Granacci, the companion of his[230] early studies, and Jacopo, called L'Indaco, the enlivener of his solitude, enjoyed the same degree of his familiarity; but as the real basis of friendship is equality, and mutual esteem founded on similarity of character and powers, attachments merely formed by early habits or congenial humour between men too dissimilar else to admit of comparison, never can aspire to its privileges and name. Condescension is not always delicate, and the indiscretions of simplicity sooner or later provoke the pride, contempt, and arrogance of superior powers. Giuliano, Granacci, and L'Indaco, experienced all three from Michael Angelo; they were among his conscripts for assisting in the frescoes of the Capella; but finding their pigmy capacities unequal to his colossal style, he not only, in lofty silence, destroyed what they had begun, but barring all access to the Chapel and himself, forced them to return, vainly grumbling, to Florence.


[62] 1433—1527. They underwent three banishments in less than a century.

[63] 1472—1492. Most splendid period of Florence this.

[64] Nardi Storia, lib. 1. Bernardo Rucellai de Bello Italico, Lond. 1733, 4to. p. 52. Pauli Jovii Histor. sui temporis, lib. 1. Memoires de Philippe de Comines, l. vii. c. 9.

[65] Vasari, Vita di B. Bandinelli, Ed. del Bottari, t. ii. p. 576; e Vita del Torrigiano, t. ii. p. 75.

[66] Nardi, Storia di Firenze, lib. ii. Vasari, Vita di Frà Bartolomeo; but chiefly the Life of Savonarola, by Burlamachi, inserted in Balusii Miscell. ed. Mansi, t. i. p. 558, &c.

[67] Giovanni dalle Carniole, a celebrated engraver on stone, was an adherent of Savonarola; there is a portrait of that reformer by him, on a cornelian of uncommon size, in the Museo Flor. with this inscription,

Hieronymus Ferrariensis Ord. Præd.
Propheta Vir et Martyr

It is known from impressions in paste and bronze. In politics, at least, Michael Angelo was a votary of Frà Girolamo, although the nursling of the Medici.

[68] Vasari, Vita di B.B. t. ii. p. 557.

[69] Varchi, Storia Fiorent. p. 36.

[70] "The two masters of Michael Angelo," says Fiorillo, "descend in equidistant degrees from the School of Cimabue and Giotto: the following scale shows the technic pedigree of M. Angelo at one glance:

Taddeo Gaddi.

Angelo Gaddi.Jacopo Casentino.
Ant. Veneziano.Spinello.
Paolo Uccello.Lorenzo Bicci.
Aless. Baldovinetti.Donatello.
Dom. del Ghirlandaio.Bertoldo.

M.A. Buonarroti."

What pity that this laboured scale, which has all the air of an astrologic conceit of Vasari, and gives to chance the sanction of predestination, could not be extended to Architecture! As the notion of a writer who dates the subversion of Art from the epoch and style of M. Angelo, it must appear ludicrous even to the most declared votary of that great name on this side of idolatry.

[71] The mask of an antique Satyr, and the basso-relievo of the Centaurs, undertaken at the suggestion of Poliziano.

[72] One has been preserved, and as a document of the relation in which power at that time stood with art, may interest the reader.

"Julius P.P. II. Dilectis Filiis Prioribus Libertatis, et Vexillifero Justitiae Populi Florentini.

"Dilecti filii, salutem et apostolicam benedictionem. Michael Angelus sculptor, qui a nobis leviter et inconsulte discessit, redire, ut accepimus, ad nos timet, cui nos non succensemus: Novimus hujusmodi hominum ingenia. Ut tamen omnem suspicionem deponat, devotionem vestram hortamur, velit ei nomine nostro promittere, quod si ad nos redierit, illæsus inviolatusque erit, et in ea gratia apostolica nos habiturus, quâ habebatur ante discessum. Datum Romæ, 8 Julii, 1506, Pontificatûs nostri Anno iii."

[73] There went a tale that Michael Angelo proposed to demolish the palace of the Medicis, like that of the Bentivogli at Bologna, and to call the site "Piazza de' Muli," the place of Bastards, in allusion to the illegitimacy of Clemente VII. Alessandro, and others of that family. "A feature," says Fiorillo, "if true, as characteristic of his natural ferocity as disgraceful to his heart, after the benefits heaped on him from his infancy by that family. Varchi, however, defends him against this charge."[74] Whether this tale confutes itself or not, may be left to the reader; but on an estimate of his private and public conduct, as man and artist during the long course of his life, it must be owned, that this is the period which offers the most specious opportunity to a sceptic in morals, of fixing some doubts on the integrity of his principles. His earliest actions prove that he drew a severe line between the duty which he owed to his country, and gratitude imposed by private obligations. He left the family of Pier de' Medici on finding his principles incompatible with the laws of a free state; and on the expulsion of the petty tyrants, without lending a hand to the devastation of their property, felt it his duty to act as a free man on the re-establishment of liberty, and to obey the laws of a state whose right to legislate for itself had been acknowledged by all Italy. It will not be said, that it is palliating duplicity to assert, that as a private individual he had a right to accept the behests of Leo X. and Clemente VII. for decorating a sacred edifice; but when he became a leader of the revolution, the trustee of his country's safety, the main defender of the city, did he not more than degrade himself, by forgetting the patriot in the artist, and "secretly" sacrificing time to raise monuments to men whose titles he opposed and whose principles he detested? Thus, whilst his conduct may prove the absurdity of the tale, that he publicly, and with illiberal sarcasms, advised the demolition of palaces belonging to a family whose memory he secretly laboured to perpetuate in monuments inspired by the most amorous phantasy; it certainly does not screen his character from the imputation of a duplicity to which no other period of his life offers a parallel.

[74] Stor. Fior. lib. vi. p. 154.

[75] "Lavorava," says Vasari, "le statue per le sepolture di S. Lorenzo segretamente,"—p. 224, ed. B. And again, "Lavorando egli con sollecitudine e con amore grandissimo tali opere, crebbe (che pur troppo gli impedi il fine) lo assedio."—p. 229. Impossible as the secrecy of his labours for the Chapel of S. Lorenzo may appear, the publicity of his situation considered, it must be admitted, to account for the confidence placed in him by the City.

[76] Of the Fall of Lucifer and his Host, which was to face the altar-piece of the Last Judgement, no sketch that could give an idea of the whole has yet been discovered; its place over the grand door of the Chapel was reserved for the sacrilegious 'bravura' of the Neapolitan Matteo da Lecca, under the pontificate of Gregorio XIII.: his composition, if impudence of grouping deserve that name, must be supposed to bear infinitely less analogy to the original conception of Michael Angelo, than the tumultuary fresco of the Sicilian; who, says Vasari, having lived many months with Michael Angelo as a servant and colour-grinder, became possessed of some design of his for that subject, and painted it in fresco in a chapel of the Trinità del Monte. Notwithstanding the incompetence of the adventurer to manage such materials, the naked groups showering from Heaven, and the hubbub of transformed fiends grappling below in the abyss, struck the beholder with terror and surprise;—a mass of Dantesque images, and in Dantesque language described by the biographer.—V. di M.A. t. vi. 237.

[77] This pompous visit appears to have been made for the purpose of inspecting the Cartoon; to remove the obstacles to its completion which the unfinished state of the Giulian monument still presented; and to convince the artist of the value he set on the exclusive service of his genius. But, besides the obligation of fulfilling his contract with the House of De Rovere, Vasari seems to think that one principal reason of Michael Angelo's tardiness to comply with the wishes of the Pope, was the Pontiff's age, (vedendolo tanto vecchio,) i. e. apprehension, if he lived long enough to prevent the termination of the monument, of his dying too soon for the completion of the fresco, and thus leaving him exposed to the revenge of the Duke of Urbino: a conjecture not countenanced by the Pontiff's age, who, at his accession, was only eight years older than the artist.

[78] Bastiano, says Vasari, was a favourite of Michael Angelo, but a disagreement took place between them about the best method of painting the Last Judgement. Frà Bastiano had persuaded the Pontiff to give the preference to oil, but Michael Angelo resolved to execute it only in fresco. On seeing the Frate's preparation adopted, without agreeing to it or opposing it, he remained inactive for several months; till, on being pressed, he finally declared, that he would either do it in fresco or not at all; that oil paint was a woman's art, and the refuge of idlers at their ease like Frà Bastiano. In consequence of which, the Frate's incrustation being dashed to the ground, and the wall duly prepared for fresco, he set about the work, but never forgot the insult he fancied to have received from the friar during life.—Vasari, Vita di F.S.

[79] Michael Angelo had finished more than three-fourths of the work, when the Pontiff visited the Chapel, and on inspection, turning to Messer Biagio, of Cesena, then master of ceremonies, in his train, asked him what he thought of the work? The scrupulous prelate replied, that so daring an aggregate of shameless nudities in a sacred place was obscene profanation, and an exhibition fitter for a tavern or a brothel than a papal chapel. Michael Angelo, indignant, and eager to revenge the affront, only waited for his departure, and then, from memory, drew him in the character of Dante's Minos, with a snake encircling his body and gnawing his middle, in the midst of a hillock of fiends. In vain did Messer Biagio supplicate the Pontiff and Michael Angelo to take him out; he remained, and is there still. So far Vasari; but tradition adds, that on Biagio's application, the Pope asked in what part of the picture he was placed, and being answered, in Hell, replied, had you been lodged in Purgatory, you might perhaps have been dismissed, "sed ex Inferno nulla est redemptio." Condivi notices the story not at all.

In the Diary of Paris de' Grassi, Messer Biagio is said to have been appointed master of ceremonies by Leo X. 1518, in the room of Nicola da Viterbo, and, if we believe Ducange, (Table des Auteurs dans le Supplement du Glossaire,) he has written a diary himself.—See Fiorillo, i. p. 389.

[80] Blaise de Vigenere, the translator of Philostratus and Callistratus, tells us, in his observations on the latter, page 855, that "he saw M. Angelo, at the age of sixty, strike off more marble from a block in one quarter of an hour, than four stonemasons usually did in three or four hours." If this happened in 1550, as will appear from the following passage, M. Angelo was then in his seventy-sixth year.—"L'entrepris aussi de Michel l'Ange estoit hautaine et fort hardie, sentant bien sa main assurée, le quel commança l'an 1550, que j'estois à Rome, un Crucifiement où il y avoit de dix à douze personnages, non pas moindres que le naturel, le tout d'une seule pièce de marbre, qui était un chapiteau de l'une de ces huict grandes colomnes du temple de la Paix de Vespasian, dont il s'en void encore une toute entière et debout, mais la mort——"

[81] Vol. vi. p. 272.

[82] Vasari's account of both pictures is sufficiently curious to be communicated in his own words. "Alfonso D'Avalo, Marchese del Guasto, having obtained from Michael Angelo, by means of Frà Nicolo della Magna, a cartoon of Christ appearing to Magdalen in the Garden, made every exertion to have it executed in painting by Puntormo, as he had been told by Michael Angelo that no one could serve him better. Jacopo undertook the work, and succeeded to a degree of excellence, which made Alessandro Vitelli, captain of the Florentine guards, bespeak a second copy of him, which he placed in his house at Cività di Castello."

"Michael Angelo, to oblige his intimate friend Bartolomeo Bettini, made him a Cartoon of Venus naked and Cupid kissing her, to be executed by Puntormo in oil, for the centre piece of an apartment, on the sides of which Bronzino had begun to paint Dante, Petrarca, and Boccaccio, to be followed by the rest of Tuscan love-songsters. The picture of Puntormo was miraculous, but instead of being given to Bettini for the price stipulated, was, by some favour-hunters, his enemies, nearly extorted from Jacopo, and carried off as a present to Duke Alessandro, returning the cartoon to Bettini. A transaction which, when he heard it, irritated Michael Angelo, who loved his friend, and made him dislike Jacopo for it."—Vasari, Vita di Jacopo da, P.V.

[83] They had been fellow-scholars in the garden of Lorenzo de' Medici.



In the enumeration of Tuscan art, some lovers of subdivision have fancied, with more refinement than solidity, to discover in the style of Sienese artists a characteristic sufficiently distinct from the Florentine, to erect Siena into a school. This characteristic, we are told, is a peculiar gaiety in the selection of colour, and an air of physiognomic vivacity and serenity of face; both, it seems, the inheritance of the Sienese race. They have, accordingly, divided this school into three epochs: the first is that of the ancients (gli antichi); and its first palpable patriarch, Guido, or Guidone, commonly called Guido da Siena, and noticed already in the beginning of our chapter on the Florentine school. He flourished before the birth of Cimabue, in the first half of the thirteenth[232] century, and is followed by the names of Ugolino da Siena and Duccio surnamed di Boninsegna, the precursors of Simone Memmi, the contemporary of Giotto, who painted Laura and survives in the sonnets of her lover. Lippo Memmi and Cecco da Martino, his relatives, float in the obscurity which prevailed till the appearance of Ambrogio and Pietro Lorenzetti. Of the first there still exists an extensive work in the public palace, or rather a didactic poem, which in suitable allegories and in varied views, exhibits the vices of a bad government, and personifies the qualities necessary to form the rulers of a virtuous republic—a work which, with less monotony of features, and more judgment in the division of the subjects, would, in the opinion of Lanzi, find little to envy in the best-treated histories of Pisa's Campo Santo. In partnership with his brother Pietro, he painted, in the Hospital of Siena, the Presentation and the Espousal of the Madonna—pictures destroyed in 1720. This is that Pietro who, in the Campo Santo of Pisa, painted the Hermits of the Desert, and the Terrors of Solitude invaded by an Infernal Apparition, with a novelty of conception and a richness of fancy, that render his work the[233] most interesting of the whole series. That, notwithstanding the plague, which had wasted the population of Siena at that period, the art continued to flourish, is proved by the numbers who formed themselves into a civil body under the immediate patronage of the Republic itself. In some families it became an heirloom: such were the Vanni and the Bartoli. Andrea di Vanni, or more properly, di Giovanni, not only figured as an artist in his native city, but was delegated by the Republic to the Pope at Avignon, and appears in the records as "Capitano del Popolo;" and among the letters of Santa Caterina da Siena, there are three addressed to him.[84] Vasari has mentioned Taddeo di Bartolo, (1351—1410.) whose works still exist in the public palace and the adjoining hall. They pretend to represent a number of celebrated republicans, and chiefly Greeks and Romans, but their physiognomies are all ideal, and their dresses the costume of Siena. Something was added to the monotony of these family styles under the Pontificate of Pio II. or Enea Silvio, (1503,) by Matteo di Giovanni,[234] in disposition, variety, expression, drapery; he has accordingly been complimented by some as the Masaccio of Siena, but remained unknown to Vasari. The art gained still more under the auspices of a second Piccolomini, Pio III. (1503.) He employed Pinturicchio, Raffaello, and other strangers, to perpetuate the achievements of his predecessor Enea; and they, Raffaello excepted, continued with Signorelli and Genga to exercise their talents in decorating the Palace of Pandolfo Petrucci, who had usurped supreme power in the Republic.

The second period of Sienese art opens with the sixteenth century, and the works of Giacomo Pacchiarotto, or Pacchiarotti. They resemble the produce of Perugino's school, though distinguished by more vigour of composition. But what entitles this epoch to the claim of establishing the peculiar style of this school, must be looked for in the works of Giannantonio Razzi, Domenico Beccafumi, and Baldassare Peruzzi.

Giannantonio Razzi,[85] commonly called "Il Soddoma," is said by some to have been a native[235] of Vergille, in the territory of Siena; by others, of Vercelli, in Piedmont. Long residence, however, supplied the want of birthright: Siena claims him for her own; and if a charming whole, suavity of tint combined with force of chiaroscuro, be the principal characteristic of that school, no native has expressed it with equal evidence and felicity. This gaiety of tone and manner some have traced to the jovial turn of the man himself; as careless as gay, ever in pursuit of youth and beauty, though with an indiscretion that brands him with the stain tacked to his name, from a character so volatile and dissipated, that inequality of execution might be expected which marks his happiest effusions. Thus, in the Church of S. Domenico, where he represented Sta. Caterina of Siena, on receiving the stigmata, fainting in the arms of two sister nuns, we forgive to the energy of conception, the pathos of expression, and the sympathy of tone that press the principal group on our hearts, that neglect which left the figure of the Saviour below mediocrity, and own, with Baldassare Peruzzi, that we never saw mental dereliction and fainting beauty expressed with deeper sentiment and truth; a verdict which[236] receives full sanction from him who relates it, Vasari, less the biographer than the merciless censor of the obnoxious Razzi, for whose moral turpitude and technic slovenliness his sanctimonious asperity found no other excuse than that of madness, which swayed him to neglect or misapply the powers of genius. Thus, in speaking of the fresco at Monte Oliveto, in which Soddoma had chosen to represent a bevy of harlots let loose with song and dance on St. Benedetto and his flock, to try their sanctity, he reprobates the licentiousness that had larded the subject with additional obscenity, whilst he concludes by owning that it is one of the best pictures in the Convent. How are we to reconcile the neglect which, disdaining to consult Nature, or to regulate a picture by cartoon or design, relied for the whole on practice and on chance, with the praise bestowed on Razzi's composition, the faces that speak, the breasts that palpitate, the torsos compared by some to the antique, by others to Michael Angelo, but by that indifference which often distinguishes the man of genius from the man of talent, him who possesses by Nature from him who acquires by art?[237] Capacity and attachment unite not always; and to Soddoma, vain, whimsical, volatile, art appears to have been no more than the readiest means of procuring amusement or pleasure. "My art dances to the sound of your purse," said he to the Abbot of Monte Oliveto.

Agostino Chigi, pleased with the art, and still more the whimsies of Soddoma, if we believe Vasari, carried him to Rome, and introduced him to Giulio II. to co-operate with Pietro Perugino, &c. in the Vatican; but his labours being superseded by the novel powers of Raffaelle, Agostino, whose attachments were not regulated by the Pontiff's whims, employed him in the decorations of his own palace, now the Farnesina; where, in a principal apartment leading to the great saloon reserved for Raffaelle, he painted the Nuptials of Alexander and Roxana in a style no doubt inferior to the Loves of Amor and Psyche, but not of an inferiority sufficient to account for the enormous disparity of fame that separates both.

Domenico Mecherino,[86] the son of a Sienese peasant, better known by the adopted name of Beccafumi, inferior to Razzi in elegance of line[238] and suavity of colour, excelled him in energy of conception and style. Vasari, who invests Beccafumi with every excellence and virtue, of which the defect or opposite vice disgraced Razzi, still owns that he did not reach the physiognomic suavity that marks the faces of Soddoma; and after leading him from the scanty elements of Pietro Perugino to Rome, the Antique, the Chapel of M. Angelo, and the works of Raffaelle, by a kind of anticlimax brings him back to Siena to complete his studies by adopting the principles of Giannantonio. A modern writer,[87] on the contrary, has discovered that the talents of Domenico, overpowered by the genius of M. Angelo, turned their current awry, and failed to produce the legitimate efforts which might have been expected from a steady adherence to the principles of Raffaelle—opinions less founded on the character of the artist and the spirit of his works than on the partiality and prejudice of the critics. Beccafumi was not of the first class, less made to lead than to follow with an air of originality; to amalgamate principles not absolutely discordant—thus, in single figures,[239] he sometimes more than imitates, he equals M. Angelo, as in those noticed by Bottari;—and again, in larger compositions, such as those on the pavement of the Cathedral, works by which he is chiefly known, we see him on the traces of Raffaelle, and emulating the variety and graces of Polydoro: these graces frequently vanished, and correctness as often ceased with the increased size of his figures: the foreshortenings, in which he delighted, savour more of the "sotto in su," introduced by Correggio to Upper Italy, than of the principles of M. Angelo; they are generally attended by a magic chiaroscuro, like that of the figure of Justice, on which Vasari expatiates, on the ceiling of the public hall at Siena, which, from profound darkness gradually rising into light, seems to vanish in celestial splendour. He is said by Vasari to have preferred fresco and distemper to oil paint, as a purer, simpler, and of course more durable medium; and though the predominant red of his flesh-tints has more freshness than glow, such is the solidity of his impasto and the purity of his method, that his panels present us to this day less with the injuries than the improvements of time.


The style of Mecherino did not survive him: for Giorgio da Siena, his pupil, confined himself to grotesque work, in imitation of Giovanni da Udine; Giannella, or Giovanni of Siena, turned to architecture: of Marco Pino, commonly called Marco da Siena, his reputed pupil, the style, decidedly built on the principles of M. Angelo, renders all notion of his having received more than the first rudiments from Beccafumi or any other master, nugatory: but the conjecture of Lanzi, that Domenico was the master of Danielle Ricciarelli, known to have begun his studies at Siena, though unsupported by tradition, acquires an air of probability less from the supposed mutual attachments to M. Angelo, than the versatility of their talents and similarity of pursuits.

Baldassare Peruzzi,[88] born in the diocese of Volterra, but in the Sienese State, and of a citizen of Siena, with considerable talents for painting, possessed a decided genius in architecture. His style of design is temperate and correct, but quantity is the element of his composition, if indeed an aggregate of fortuitous figures deserve that name. The[241] Adoration of the Magi, preserved in various coloured copies from his original chiaroscuro, embraces every fault of ornamental painting without its only charm: it is not exaggeration to say, that the principal figures are the least conspicuous, that the leaders are sacrificed to their equipage, that the architect every where crosses the painter, and that the quadrupeds, however brutally placed or impertinently introduced, for conception, chiaroscuro, spirit and style, give to the work what merit it can claim. The same principle prevails in his fresco of the Presentation at the Pace, and both are so evidently opposite to Raffaello's system of composition, that it is not easily understood how he could be supposed to have been a pupil or imitator of that master in propriety. If he resembles him any where, it is in single expressions, as in the Judgement of Paris at the Castello di Belcaro, according to Lanzi; and still more in the prophetic countenance of the celebrated Sibyl predicting the birth of the Virgin to Augustus, at Fonte Giusta, in Siena, whose divine enthusiasm no prophetess of Raffaello has excelled, and no Sibyl of Guido or Guercino approached.


[84] Lettere della Beata Vergine, S. Caterina da Siena. Venez. 1562., 4to. p. 286, 242. The last was written at the period of Vanni's dignity.

[85] 1481-1554.

[86] 1484-1549?

[87] Fiorillo, i. 335.

[88] 1481-1536.



The Roman School comprises, besides the natives of the metropolis, those of the whole Ecclesiastic State, Bologna, Ferrara, and some part of Romagna excepted.

The origin of this school recedes into the earlier periods of modern art, if we consider Oderigi of Gubbio, a painter of miniature, contemporary with Cimabue, as one of its founders. His death, which preceded that of the Florentine at least one year, the branch of art he exercised, missal-painting, and what we know of his situation, make it extremely improbable that he owed the elements of design to that master, with whom he seems to have had little in common but the honour of rearing a pupil, who in the sequel eclipsed his name, and became the founder of another school.


Perhaps he made some scholars too at home: in 1321 we find Cecco and Puccio of Gubbio, engaged as painters to the Dome of Orvieto; and about 1324, Guido Palmerucci Eugubino, employed in the Town-hall of Gubbio; a few half figures yet remaining of this evanescent work are in a style not inferior to that of Giotto, at whose period we are now arrived.

Giotto, at Rome, gave instructions to Pietro Cavallini in painting and mosaic, and with what success we may form some idea from the wonder-working Christ in S. Paolo at Rome, the Salutation at S. Marco of Florence, and a Crucifixion at Assisi; a crowded composition of soldiers, mob, and horses, varied in dress and not ill discriminated by expression, with groups of angels hovering over them in sable robes. In vastness of conception and spirit it resembles Memmi, and in one of the crucified men, foreshortening is not unsuccessfully attempted; the colours have still a degree of freshness, especially the blue, which here and in other places of the church forms, in the metaphor of Lanzi, a ceiling of oriental sapphire.

After the demise of Cavallini, who, notwithstanding a life of eighty-five years, appears to[244] have left taste nearly in the state he found it; a band of obscure and insignificant artists led the art in a style neither Giottesque nor Greek to the verge of the fifteenth century—that important period when the Popes, re-established at Rome, searched for the best hands to decorate its Vatican and temples. The first name that occurs, is that of Ottaviano Martis, whose Madonna in Sta. Maria Nuova at Gubbio, bears the date of 1403; she has a choir of stripling angels round her in attitudes not ungraceful, but with faces as like to each other as if they had all been cast in one mould.

The name of Gentile da Fabriano is of more consequence; it is he whose style Michael Angelo compared to his name (Gentile.) About 1417 we find him at Orvieto among the painters of its Dome, registered with the title of Magister Magistrorum. Under Martin V. he painted with Pisanello in the Lateran at Rome: what he did there perished, and so did his works in the public palace at Venice, where he resided, was pensioned, and raised to the rank of Patrician. "In that city," says Vasari, "he was the master and like a parent to Giacopo Bellini, the father of Giovanni and Gentile Bellini, founders of the Venetian[245] school and masters of Giorgione and Tizian. Of his numerous works the remains are in the Marca d'Ancona, the state of Urbino, at Gubbio and Perugia: Florence still preserves two of his pictures, one in S. Nicolo with the image and histories of that bishop, another in the sacristy of the Trinità, with an Epiphany and the date of 1423. His style resembles that of Frà Angelico da Fiesole, with the exception of forms less elegant, less female grace, and more profusion of gold lace and brocade. Antonio da Fabriano, with the date 1454, and Bartholomæus Magistri Gentilis de Urbino, 1497 and 1508, are inscriptions on pictures at Matelica, Pesaro, and Monte Cicardo, that have no other claim to attention than the relation their names seem to indicate with Gentile.

Piero della Francesca, or Piero Borghese, an Umbrian, of Borgo S. Sepolcro, is a superior name. He must have been born about 1398, as, according to Vasari, his works were about 1458; he grew blind at sixty, and died eighty-five years old. He was instructed in painting at the age of fifteen, after having laid a foundation in mathematics, and distinguished himself in both. His beginnings were minute; his master has escaped search. The first scene[246] of his talent was the Court of Guidobaldo Feltro the old, Duke of Urbino, where the perspective of a vase drawn by him, provokes the astonishment of his biographer; but besides perspective, Painting owes to him her first notions of the effects of light, of muscular precision, and the method of preparing clay models for the study of drapery.[89]

He painted much at Rome, and in the Floreria of the Vatican there still exists a large fresco reputed his, representing Niccolo V. with some cardinals and prelates, whose faces interest by a character of truth. At Arezzo, he seems to have improved even upon Giotto and his school, by the novelty of his foreshortenings, vigour of tone, and powers which attended by equal grace, would have set him on a level with Masaccio.

Nicolo Alunno of Foligno, advanced the art still farther; this is evident on comparing a picture of his painted 1480, with another at S. Nicolo of Foligno, dated 1492. The tone of his colour, even in distemper, has novelty and vigour; his heads have vivacity, though with trivial and sometimes caricatured characters: and in gilding he is moderate. Vasari, who[247] places him in the time of Pinturicchio, praises above all a Pietà in a chapel of the Domo, in which, he says, "there are two angels who weep with such expression of grief, that, in my opinion, no other painter, however excellent, could have done much more."

Nor was Urbino without painters at this period: Fiorillo names Lorenzo da San Severino. At Urbino some pictures still remain of Giovanni Sanzio, the father of Raphael, who by the Duchess Giovanna della Rovere is called a very ingenious artist: a foreshortened figure of St. Sebastian, painted by him for the church of that saint, has been imitated by Raphael in an early picture of Our Lady's Wedding, at Città di Castello. He subscribed himself Io. Sanctis Urbi.; viz. Urbinas. Such at least is the inscription on his Annunciation at Sinigaglia, a work of high finish, but unequal in its parts, and in the best, though less genial, approaching the style of Pietro Perugino, with whom he had for some time co-operated. But the most distinguished Urbinese artist was Bartolommeo Corradini, a Dominican, commonly called Frà Carnevale: at the Osservanza there is a picture of his, defective in perspective, with draperies frittered into the usual tatters of the time, but[248] with faces that breathe and speak, and airs of dignity and ease: he was one of the first who introduced portrait into historic composition, a method adopted and often practised by Raphael, who at Urbino had studied his works.

Perugia laid an early claim to Art, at least as a craft. Mariotti tells of one Tullio a Perugine painter about 1219, and in a long file of quattrocentists, allots the most conspicuous places to Lorenzo di Lorenzo, Bartolommeo Caporali, whose works are dated about 1487, but above all to Benedetto Bonfigli. Yet with this abundance of home-bred artists, Perugia employed in its public works the hands of strangers, and chiefly Tuscans; it was to Florence, States and Princes looked for that master-style which could give splendour to a great commission. When Sisto IV. planned the decorations of the Sistina, the greater number of conscripts for the work were Tuscans, and Pietro Perugino the only artist drawn from his subjects among them.

Pietro Vannucci, of Città della Pieve, as he subscribed some pictures, or of Perugia, as he did others, being a citizen of that place, studied, if we believe Vasari, under a master of little[249] eminence; but according to the more authentic researches of Mariotti,[90] was a pupil, and sufficiently advanced himself by the instructions of Bonfigli and Piero della Francesca, to finish his style on the works of Giotto and Masaccio at Florence, without entering the school of Verrocchio.

Those who have contemplated the works of Pietro will without much difficulty discover two styles of composition, form, colour, and execution: the first was the result of the instructions he received in the Roman, the second, that of the impression made on his mind and hand by the Tuscan School: what he painted in oil and of small dimensions, generally belongs to the first; what he executed in fresco to the second period. There we find the hardness, the haggard forms, the miserly scantiness of drapery, the Gothic apposition and anxious finish with which he is charged, relieved by azure blues, emerald greens, violet and crimson hues, the legacies of missal-painting, and a certain air of juvenile and female grace, with suavity of countenance and colour: beauties which not only followed him in his second style, but were rendered more impressive by[250] rudiments of that breadth which seems to be the privilege of fresco, by keeping, mellowness, tone, and approaches to composition, as in the altar-piece of the Kindred of the Saviour and the fresco in the Hall of the Change, at Perugia.

Whilst the physiognomic monotony which had hitherto dulled the human feature, began to give way to expression and character in the works of this period, it is not easy to explain why its companion, that Gothic symmetry in the arrangement of the whole, should not only have been retained but aggravated into a studied parallelism; not that pathetic repetition of attitude and gesture which forces the moment of the subject more irresistibly on the mind than the most varied contrasts, but a nearly rectilinear apposition, whose principal law was to place, by a central figure, on each side of the picture, an equal number of subordinate ones; a law that extended itself to the most minute detail, and bade buildings, flowers, clouds and pebbles, re-echo each other; and all this in the face of Giotto, whose Navicella, Death of Maria, and other works, gave evidence that his composition had, a century before, disdained to move in the trammels which were now suffered[251] to check that of Pietro Perugino, and for no inconsiderable time the composition of Raphael himself.

Invention was not the element of Pietro. His crucifixions, depositions, burials, ascensions, and assumptions, are the brothers and sisters of one family. He was blamed for this sterility even in his own time, and defended himself by saying that, if he possessed little, he owed nothing, and that what had pleased in one place could not displease in another. It does not indeed offend to find the scenery of his St. Peter receiving the keys in the Sistina, repeated in the Wedding of our Lady at Perugia, and to meet the beauties here concentrated which he had singly scattered over various places.

Pietro had vigour of constitution and length of life, and if he profited by the works of Raphael, whom he outlived, might have done so by those of Lionardo and Buonarroti. In few men so many contradictory qualities seem to have united: ridiculed for a degree of avarice, which, it was said, made him withhold the necessary drapery from his figures, he is yet allowed by Vasari to have been greedier to accumulate than sordid in the use of wealth, and to[252] have pleased himself by marrying "a beautiful damsel, whom he so much delighted in seeing elegantly dressed both abroad and at home, that he was often suspected of having dressed her himself." By her he had children, but no records enable us to judge of him as a parent. That he was a good and kind master, is proved by the numerous scholars he reared, and still more by the pride which the most eminent and best of them took, by introducing him more than once in his works, to perpetuate with his own gratitude the memory of his master. With this kindness for his pupils, Pietro connected intolerance of rivals and a mordacity of language, which provoked Michael Agnolo to call him publicly a dunce (goffo) in art. His life was spent in receiving commissions from the clergy, in meditating and composing subjects of devotion; and yet, if we believe his biographer, he carried infidelity to a degree which resisted all arguments for the immortality of the soul, and with words dictated by an obstinacy worthy of his marble brains,[91] rejected all invitations to better information. Of the numerous scholars whom he had reared, the greater part followed his[253] manner with servile attachment; hence many of their works have been ascribed to him, by those who did not form their judgment at Perugia, or at Florence in Sta. Chiara and the Ducal palace: thus he pays forfeit for many a holy family of Guerino da Pistoia, Rocco Zoppo, or some other of his Tuscan scholars. The best and least enthralled of his pupils belong to the Roman school: Bernardino Pinturicchio, less praised by Vasari than he deserves, without the correctness of his master, and with more Gothic profusion of gold-lace and brocade, possesses magnificence of plan, expression of countenance, and propriety of composition. Familiar with Raphael, who was his assistant at Siena, he made attempts to imitate his grace, and sometimes not without success: at Rome, the Vatican and Araceli Temple possess some of his works; at Siena he painted, in ten pictures, the history of Pio II. and added one of Pio III. his employer, and these, with what he left in the Dome of Spello, are the best of his labours.

Of at more independent and grander spirit was Andrea Luigi, of Assisi, surnamed L'Ingegno, the Genius. He assisted Pietro in the Change-hall at Perugia, and there and in his[254] Prophets and Sibyls at Assisi, aggrandized and mellowed the style of his master to a degree, which led Sandrart, with others, to ascribe the latter work to Raphael; but blindness checked his career in the bloom of life, and left the art to Raphael without a rival.

Domenico di Paris Alfani added, likewise, some improvements to the style of Pietro. His name was nearly sunk in that of his son or brother Orazio, and time and dates alone have re-asserted its right to some excellent works long adjudged to the other; and which, were it not for an insipid sweetness of tone bordering on that of Baroccio, seem to have been inspired by the principles of Raphael.

Of Pietro's many ultramontane pupils, Giovanni Spagnuolo, a Spaniard, called Lo Spagna, who settled at Spoleto, is considered by Vasari as the most eminent. But all these names united confer less celebrity on Pietro, than the felicity of having reared the powers of Raffaello Sanzio, if not the founder, the great establisher of the Roman School.

Raffaello Sanzio, born at Urbino on Holy Friday, April 1483, was the son of Giovanni[255] Sanzio, named among the contemporaries and occasional helpers of Pietro, in whose school, after having imparted the first rudiments of Art to his son, conscious of his own inferiority, he had the modesty to place him. Here his progress was so rapid that he soon rendered himself completely master of Vannucci's style, soon became his favourite pupil, soon his co-adjutor, and in a short period more than his competitor: for though the pictures which he painted at Cività di Castello and Perugia, and are so amorously dwelt on by Lanzi, still betray in composition, design, and colour, the principles of the master, they exhibit symptoms of that expression, that beauty, those simple graces, that refinement and precision of finish, which not only had remained unknown to Pietro, but in their purity were never attained by any subsequent artist.—Some of these are perceivable already, if scantily, in the Procession to Golgotha, preceded by horsemen and attended by the Madonna and her female train; and still less perceptibly in one of its predelle which exhibits the Saviour held extended by his Mother, Magdalen and John: they cannot be mistaken in the predelle which[256] represents him among the sleeping disciples praying in the garden,—performances of his puerility, and most probably before he left the school of Pietro.

After an enumeration of Raffaello's juvenile works at Cività di Castello and at Perugia, we are told that he who ascribed Sanzio's art to length of study and not to nature, was not acquainted with the powers of his mind.[92]

That such was the verdict of Michael Agnolo, is recorded by Condivi; and from aught that appears, it does not seem either invidious or incompetent. If Art be a complete system of invariable rules, he only is a master of Art who substantiates its precepts by equal uniformity of execution and taste; and till he arrives at that point, he can only be said to have seized more or less of its parts in making approaches to the whole, and to be indebted to "study" and not to "nature," if he put himself at last in possession of it.

Such was the progress of Raffaello; he arrived by degrees at style in design, by degrees at style in composition, by degrees at invention, expression, and at what appeared to him colour.[257] His genius emancipated him from the shackles of prescription and fashion, rapidly, if we compare his progress with the shortness of his life or the progress of the rest of his contemporaries, but slowly, if we compare him with Michael Angelo, whose system of Art seems to have been born with him, whose infancy, virility, age, exhibit one uniform principle. Every element of the system displayed in the Capella Sistina and on the tombs in S. Lorenzo, may be traced in his essays at the garden of the Medici and in the Holy Family painted for Angelo Doni: but what eye will discover the future painter of the Heliodorus, or the composer of the Cartoons in the bridal arrangements of our Lady's Wedding at Cività di Castello, or even in the Cartoons for the sacristy of the Duomo at Sienna?

Though the commission of painting in that place a series of the most memorable events in the life of Pope Pio II. (a Siennese celebrated by the name of Enea Silvio,) had been given to Pinturicchio, who had sufficient modesty and taste to avail himself of the superior and growing powers of his friend,—it has been asked what enterprise of equal magnitude had[258] in that infant state of Art ever been consigned to a single hand, without considering that the co-operation of Raffaello was adventitious, and less owing to the opinion which he had established of himself in the public mind than to the modesty of Pinturicchio. And had not Luca Signorelli singly been entrusted with a work at Orvieto, whose tremendous and universally interesting subjects beyond comparison excelled whatever the embassies, the poetic and papal honours, the canonization of a nun, the ceremonies of a council, the death of the hero himself, and the transportation of his corpse from Ancona to Rome, however varied by character, impressed by the sensibility of the artist, or raised above the heraldry of the times, could pretend to achieve beyond the precincts of Sienna?

Whether Raffaello furnished the whole of the Cartoons for that work, or only part, cannot be ascertained from the contradictory account of Vasari,[93] who in the life of Pinturicchio asserts[259] the first, and in that of Raffaello, the second. As he, however, did not leave Sienna for Florence till 1504, it is probable that he continued to assist his friend in completing the whole historic series: the work itself is in perfect preservation, and though better informed eyes than those of Bottari[94] might not be competent to discriminate the parts which exclusively belong to Raffaello, it is certain that in the progress of the pictures there is an evident progress toward style.

Aggrandisement of style might reasonably be supposed to have been the motive that drew Raffaello to Florence. The David of M. Angiolo was placed; he had begun his cartoon, which from its very inaccessibility, and the high character of the artist whom it opposed, must have been an object of eager curiosity to the public, and of tremulous expectation to the student. Florence was, no doubt, at that period divided into two technic factions, Vinciists and Bonarotists; it does not, however, appear that Raffaello adhered[260] to either of the two leaders; neither the learning and energy of Bonaroti, nor the magic chiaroscuro of Lionardo, could divert the future painter of the passions from his course; he therefore attached himself to the study of Masaccio, as a more direct guide to the drama. The implicit application of that master's conceptions in the same or similar subjects, when he was in the vigour of his powers, if it be the most celebrated proof of this, is a less convincing one than the similarity of taste and vein of thought which pervades their works, and might, to men of bolder conjecture than I pretend to, prove that Masaccio might have been what Raffaello was, had time and means conspired.

According to the account of Vasari,[95] Raffaello went three times to Florence: the first[261] time when, according to the biographer, roused by the fame of Lionardo and M. Angiolo, he left the partnership of Pinturicchio, 1504—the date of the recommendatory letter with the affixed name of Joanna Feltria, Duchess of[262] Urbino, addressed to the Gonfaloniere Pietro Soderini, and said to be still preserved at Florence among the papers of the Gaddi family. Supposing the date of the letter (1st October, 1504) to be correct, and the writer of it to have been acquainted with the person she recommends, its genuineness, as Fiorillo observes, is liable to strong suspicion. Its expressions might fit a lad of ten or twelve years, but certainly not a young man of one-and-twenty, the age of Raffaello, who had painted many pictures, was at that very time employed in a great public work, and only three years after was called to Rome by Giulio the Second.

Though Raffaello's talents had spread his name, and attracted the attention and the wishes of Giulio the Second to employ him in the decoration of the Vatican, it may be presumed that the persuasive influence of his relative, Bramante Lazzari, decided the Pontiff to distinguish him by that immediate and exclusive call to Rome, which raised him above all rival competition, and opened the most splendid period of his life, most probably 1507. Which was the picture he began with, would not have been contested by his biographers, encomiasts,[263] and critics, from Vasari to Mengs, had they attended less to hearsay, for tradition it cannot be called, than to the evidence of the works themselves. To date the dispute on the Sacrament after the School of Athens, equally inverts the progressive powers of the artist in conception, taste, style, and execution. Everywhere that composition betrays a young performer, enviably successful in each individual part, but whom experience has not yet enabled to spread an harmonious whole. The connection of its upper with the lower scene, less divided than rent asunder, depends entirely on a mental effort in the spectator. The parallelism of the celestial synod, impresses more with formal monotony than awful energy, and the ostentatious abuse of gold impairs its dignity. In the lower part of the picture, less sublime than dramatic, the artist moves in his own element; its parallelism and its contrasts, no longer the result of ceremonious symmetry, but of the inspiring principle, warms contemplation to sympathy, and its characteristic correctness exhibits in Raffaello's own unassisted, or rather unalloyed hand, the style of the School of Athens, the Mass of[264] Bolsena, the female part of the Heliodorus, and with a felicity unattained in the Parnassus and the Attila,—the more ample outlines and the increased volume of forms in the Angels, and the Heliodorus and his accomplices on the foreground.

A description of two Drawings by Raffaello, from an account of the Collection of Drawings and Prints in the Gallery of Duke Albrecht, of Sachsen Teschen, at Vienna.[96]


Two naked male figures, apparently studies from Nature, on one leaf, drawn in red chalk: one with nearly all his back turned to the eye, rests the left hand on his hip, and with the right points to something before him. Somewhat behind you see the other, sideways, in perfect repose, leaning with both hands on a long spear-like staff; the background has some rudiments of a sketched head. To the right of the spectator, at the side of the first figure, you read, "1515, Raffahell di Urbin der so hoch vom Pobst geacht ist gwest, hat diese nakte[265] Bild gemacht, und hat sy dem Albrecht Dürer gen Nornberg geschikt, in seini hand zu weissen."[97]

That Raffaello in his last years, and when at the height of his celebrity, did exchange drawings with Albert Durer, is attested by the biographers of both: and that the design here described is one of that number, is incontestably proved, not only by the peculiarity of style, the elegance and facility of outline, the characteristic contrast of solid and muscular parts, but by the identity of the handwriting with the manuscripts of Albert still existing at Nürnberg, his native city.

I therefore think it no improbable conjecture to suppose that Raffaello, by transmitting this specimen of his hand to Albert, intended to make him sensible of the difference between imitating Nature and dryly copying a model, and so impress him with the necessity of contrasting his outline according to the different texture of the parts in the bodies before him.


This interesting leaf is one foot three inches three lines in height, and ten inches eight lines in width, Vienna measure; and in perfect preservation.


This design differs in nothing from the well-known picture of the Transfiguration, but the absolute nudity of all the figures.

That Raffaello was accustomed to sketch in naked outlines, may be known from most collections that possess something of his hand; but perhaps none but this may be able to produce a design, of a numerous and complete composition, in which every figure is rendered with anatomical correctness and finished chiaroscuro.

Another singularity of this important leaf is, the characteristic disparity of execution in the figures; for though all are drawn with the pen, and on the first glance seem hatched in one uniform manner, it soon appears on close inspection, that they cannot have been produced by the same hand.

The figures of the three Disciples on the Mount, especially the foreshortened one, are[267] treated with that spirited facility and confident decision which always mark the pen of Raffaello. Those of the Saviour and the collateral prophets, though drawn with less precision and contours here and there, by repeated strokes, corrected, still exhibit on the whole the same spirit, facility, and confidence of hand. Of the actors below, the figure of John, with hands crossed on his breast, and the three next to him have the same Raffaellesque characteristics, and so the whole of the females kneeling on the foreground; but of the adjoining apostle, with the book in his hand, the projected leg and foot are absolutely out of drawing; whilst the Demoniac and his father, with all the remaining figures, drawn by mere practice, without a symptom of the master spirit, give palpable proofs of a different hand.

It appears no improbable conjecture that Raffaello, after settling the plan and fully arranging the figures of his picture, drew the nudities of this design as the bases of his draperies: for this reason only, the principal parts of the forms, and those muscles that would act most visibly on the draperies, are designed correctly, and finished with decision; whilst the[268] heads, and what was either to be naked in the picture or did not act immediately on the drapery, remained in careless and superficial lines.

That Raffaello suffered parts of his Transfiguration, and in my opinion some of the most important parts, to receive all but the last finish from a pupil, if tradition had not told us, there is ocular demonstration in the picture itself. The proportions of the Demoniac's father are neglected as a whole, in relation of limb to limb, and the figure is sacrificed to place. The face of Christ himself, as it was seen in the Louvre, is unworthy of Raffaello's hand and conception.[98]

The reason why some of the figures are drawn in the true spirit of the artist, and others in a bald and insignificant manner, may be,[269] that after slightly sketching the whole, he gave his own finish in the design to those parts only which he intended to execute with his own hand in the picture; and less solicitous for the rest, left them to the hand of some inferior pupil.

The height of this extraordinary design is one foot eight inches four lines; its breadth one foot two inches five lines; it is without injury.

Taddeo and Federigo Zuccari, the first declared mannerists of this school, sons of Ottaviano Zuccari, a mediocre painter of S. Angiolo in Vado, came to Rome successively, formed a school, and filled towns and states with an immense farrago of good, tolerable, and bad pictures. From the instructions of Pompeo da Fano and Giacomone da Faenza, but chiefly from an obstinate study of Raffaello's works, Taddeo, at no protracted period, gathered enough to diffuse over his own, an air, though not reality, of style, and to anticipate by contrivance and facility the rewards which time owes to invention and genius. Courting the[270] senses of the multitude, he became the hero of the day; they saw their portraits in his faces, their limbs in his forms, their action in his attitudes; his draperies, hair, beards, had a cut of fashion. The simplicity of his disposition is often contrasted by half figures emerging from his foregrounds; perhaps less from a principle of imitating his more remote predecessors, than to invigorate the effect of his chiaroscuro, a method not unknown to Parmegiano.

Rome possesses vast works in fresco of Taddeo; among the best of these are some Gospel stories at the Consolazione. He seldom painted in oil, and less commendably in large than small: some of these are cabinet pictures of exquisite finish,—such a one, (formerly in the collection of the Duke of Urbino, but more recently at Osimo in the Palace Leopardi,) is the Nativity of the Saviour, and in Taddeo's very best style. But the work on which his fame chiefly rests, are the paintings of the Palazzo Farnese, at Caprarola (engraved in a moderate volume, by Prenner, 1748). They represent the Feats of the Farnese Family, in peace and war; to which are joined other stories, both sacred and[271] profane; but what attracts attention most, is the celebrated "Stanza del Sonno," an apartment dedicated to Sleep, replete with a great variety of allegoric imagery, suggested to him by Annibale Caro, in a long, quaint letter, printed among his familiar ones, and reproduced among the "Lettere Pittoriche," t. iii. l. 99.

Dissimilar in the pursuits of life, Taddeo resembled Raffaello in death; he completed thirty-seven years, and obtained a monument close to Sanzio, in the "Rotonda."

His brother and pupil Federigo, inferior in design, resembles him in taste, though more mannered, more capricious in conceit, more crowded in composition. He completed what death had prevented Taddeo from finishing in the Sala Regia, that of Farnese, the Trinità de' Monti, and elsewhere, with the airs of heir-at-law to his brother's talents. Thus he raised an opinion of capacity for greater enterprise, and was invited by Francis I. to paint the great Cupola of the metropolitan church at Florence, which death alone had saved from Vasari's hands. There Federigo painted more than[272] three hundred figures of fifty feet in height each, besides that of Lucifer, "so enormous," to use his own phrase, "that it makes the other figures appear infants;[99]—figures," he adds, "larger than the world ever witnessed before in Art." So little, however, hugeness excepted, is there to admire in this work, that at the time of Pier da Cortona, a painting of that master would have been substituted for it, had it not been feared that he would not live long enough to terminate the whole. After the Cupola, every work of consequence at Rome appeared his due, and he was recalled by Gregorio to paint the ceiling of the Paolina, and give a successor to Michael Angelo. It was at that period, that, on a charge preferred against him by some courtiers or domestics of Gregorio, he painted and exhibited the picture of Calumny, and his accusers with asses-ears, which raised a clamour that obliged him to fly from Rome. During his exile, which lasted some years, he visited Flanders, Holland, England; had a call even from Venice to paint a subject in the Ducal Palace,[273] was everywhere caressed and remunerated, and, the Pope being mitigated, returned to reassume his interrupted labours in the Capella; the best work perhaps which, without the assistance of his brother, he has produced at Rome, though the larger altar-piece of S. Lorenzo in Damaso, and that of the Angioli at Gesù, with some others dispersed in other churches, may claim their share of merit. He built a house on Monte Pincio, rapidly and with the assistance of his scholars furnished with family portraits, conversations, and other whims in fresco, and left to prove him a trifler in Art, and the leader of decay.

Invited by Philip II. he went to Madrid, but failed to please; his place was supplied by Tibaldi, and he sent back with a good pension to Italy. Towards the end of his life he made another journey, scouring the principal towns of Italy, and leaving his works wherever he could place them: of these the Assumption of the Madonna in an oratorio at Rimini on which he wrote his name, and her Death at Sta. Maria in Acumine of the same place, with figures more than usually studied, deserve notice. His Presepio in the Duomo[274] of Foligno, has simplicity and grace; nor less have the two stories relative to the Madonna, painted for the Duke of Urbino in a chapel at Loretto. The Miracle of the Snow, in the library of the Cistercians at Milano, is a multitudinous composition filled with portraits as usual, variously coloured and well preserved. The Borromean College at Pavia, has a saloon painted in fresco from incidents in the life of S. Carlo: the most approved of these is the Saint praying in his recess: nor might the other two, that of the consistory in which he received the Cardinal's hat, and the Pest of Milano, want commendation had they overflowed less in figures. At Torino he painted for the Jesuits a St. Paul; began to ornament a gallery for the Duke, Charles Emanuel; published his Idea de' Pittori Scultori ed Architetti, and dedicated it to the Duke. This was followed, at his return to Lombardy, by two other treatises; "La dimora di Parma del Sig. Cav. Federico Zuccaro; and Il passaggio per Italia, colla dimora di Parma del Sig. Cav. Federigo Zuccari," both printed at Bologna 1608. Next year, on his return to Rome, he fell sick at Ancona, and there died. His talents, which extended to sculpture and architecture, were inferior to his fortune, which[275] preceded that of all his contemporaries, and was in a great measure the effect of personal qualities; lordly aspect and demeanour, some literary culture, persuasive manners, and a liberality that absorbed the wealth which his hand had accumulated.

Emulation seems to have been his chief motive of writing: he longed to break a lance with Vasari, whom, from whatever cause, as appears from the postils tacked to the Vite, he disliked. They have been sometimes, especially in the Life of Taddeo, quoted and treated as effusions of envy and malignity by the annotator of the Roman edition. To prove his superiority over the Tuscan, he chose a style as obscure and inflated as that of Giorgio is diffuse and plain; the whole of the treatise printed at Torino reels in a round of internal and external design, and contains less precept than peripatetic speculation, which rendered the schools of that day more loquacious than learned. His language runs over in intellective[100] and formative conceits, in substantial substances[276] and formal forms; even the titles of his chapters are larded with equal fulsomeness of phrase, like that of the XIIth., that "philosophy and to philosophize, is metaphoric and similitudinarious design." These are the bait of fools—for none but fools can hope to gather meaning from the bubbles of sophistry, or stoop to disentangle etymologies which derive disegno from "Dei signum," the sign of God!

This treatise was probably the offspring of his presidency in the Academy of St. Luke; for office gives insolence. The Academy dates its origin from the Pontificate of Gregorio XIII., who granted the brief of its foundation[101] to Muziano. It had not, however, its full effect till after the return of Zuccari from Spain, who put it in force and was unanimously declared "Principe," or President. That was his day of triumph; he returned from the inauguration in the church of S. Martino at the foot of the Campidoglio, accompanied by a great concourse of artists and litterators to his own house, where shortly after he built a saloon[277] for the accommodation of the Academy, in whose praise he overflowed in prose and poems, more than once quoted in his larger treatise; and to seal his extreme affection, bequeathed like Muziano, in case his own line should fail, the bulk of his fortune to the establishment.

Giuseppe Cesari, sometimes distinguished by the name of Il Cavaliere d'Arpino,[102] his native place, was in art what Marino was in poetry—brilliancy without substance is the characteristic of both, and either proved the ancient observation, that Arts and Republics receive the greatest damage from the greatest capacities. The talent of Cesari bubbled up from his infancy, made him an object of admiration, procured him through F. Danti, the protection of Gregorio XIII., and in a short time the reputation of the first master at Rome. Less than the felicity with which he is said to have executed some pictures from certain designs of M. Agnolo, in the possession of Giacomo Rocca, his exuberance alone was sufficient to establish supremacy of name among a race who measured genius by quantity, and science by confidence of method. If his numbers were[278] rabble, he arranged them with the skill of a general; if common-place furnished him with features, arrogance of touch brushed them into notice; and the horses which he drew with equal truth and fire, supplied the incorrectness or imbecility of the rider. The excellence of his colour in fresco, the gaiety which he spread over a vast surface, hid from the common eye monotony of manner, poverty of character, and want of finish in the detail of parts.

They were observed, reprobated and opposed by M.A. Caravaggio, A. Caracci, and the few who saw and thought with them. Quarrels arose, and challenges were given: that of Caravaggio, Cesari refused to accept, because he had not yet been knighted, and Annibale rejected that of Cesari, because, said he, "I know no other weapon than my pencil." They both experienced the difference of the difficulties that attend legislation and reform of taste, and were left ineffectually to struggle with an empiric, who outlived either upwards of thirty years, and then left a race worse than himself behind him.


[89] Bramante.

[90] Lett. Perug. V.

[91] "Cervello di porfido."

[92] See Vasari on Michael Angelo's observations on Tizian.

[93] "Fece li Schizzi e i Cartoni di tutte le Istorie."
Vita di Pinturicchio.
"Fece alcuni de' disegni e Cartoni di quell' opera."
Vita di Raffaello.

[94] In the picture on the facciata, Bottari says, "Si vede non solo il disegno, ma in molte teste anche il colore di Raffaello."

[95] Essendo con Pinturicchio a Siena—messo da parte quell' opera, e ogni utile e commodo suo, se ne venne a Fiorenza. Morta la Madre, partì e andò a Urbino, e accomodate le cose sue, ritornò a Perugia. Prima che partisse, &c.—Così venuto a Firenze, fece il cartone per il quadro di Madonna Atalanta Baglioni; dipinse per A. Doni e Dom. Canigiani; studiò le cose vecchie di Masaccio; acquistò miglioramento dai lavori di Lionardo e di Michelagnolo; ebbe stretta domestichezza con Frà Bartolomeo di S. Marco; ma in su la maggior frequenza di questa pratica fu richiamato a Perugia, dove finì l'opera della gia detta Madonna Atalanta Baglioni, &c.—Finito questo lavoro e tornato a Fiorenza, gli fu dai Dei cittadini Fiorentini allegata una tavola, &c. ma chiamato da Bramante si trasferì a Roma.—Vasari, Vita di Raffaello da Urbino, ed. Firenze, 1771. p. 163, 167, 172.

According to this account of Vasari, Raffaelle went three times to Florence; the first time, when roused by the fame of Lionardo and Michael Angelo, he left Pinturicchio 1504, and continued at Florence till he was called away by the death of his mother to Urbino, from whence, having settled his affairs, and painted certain things, he went to Perugia, and after some public works there, returned again to Florence with a commission from A. Baglioni. This is the period fixed by Vasari of his acquaintance with Bartolomeo di S. Marco, the progressive improvements of his style, and his pictures for A. Doni and D. Canigiani, and must have been his longest stay in that capital, though interrupted by a new call to Perugia, during which he finished the picture of the Burial of Christ, now in the Borghese Palace, for the Chapel Baglioni, and then returned for the third time to Florence.

[96] From the "Annalen der bildenden Künste für die Osterreichischen Staaten, Von Hans Rudolph Füessli." Erster theil. Wien. 1801. Annals of the Plastic Arts in Austria.

[97] 1515. Raffahell di Urbin, who was so highly esteemed by the Pope, has made these naked figures, and has sent them to Albrecht Durer at Nornberg, to show him his hand.

[98] This observation is founded on close inspection of this picture, in the room of the "Restoration," in 1802. The face of Christ not only appeared no longer that which all thought it to be who had seen it at S. Pietro in Montorio, but even inferior to that in the print of Dorigny, had assumed an expression nearer allied to meanness than to dignity, without sublimity austere, and forbidding. It is probable, however, that these changes originated under the sacrilegious hands of the restorers, who had before destroyed the better part of the Madonna di Foligno.

[99] "Sì smisurata, che fa parere le altre, figure di Bambini," &c. Idea de' Pittori, Scultori, e Architetti, inserted among the Lettere Pittoriche, t. vi. p. 147.

[100] Disegno interiore ed esteriore; concetti intellettivi e formativi; sostanze sostanziali, forme formali.—Titolo del capitolo XII. che la filosofia e il filosofare è disegno metaforico similitudinario.—Disegno, Segno di Dio.

[101] Baglioni, Vita di Muziano.

[102] 1560-1640.



Social refinements and elegance of taste in arts had shed their splendour over the Hesperian colonies of Greece long before Rome had learnt to value more than the ploughshare and the sword; Herculaneum, Stabiæ, Pompeii, with their still remaining multitude and variety of legitimate monuments, prove that a technic school of eminence flourished in the Neapolitan states after they had been incorporated with the Roman empire; and what time has spared or tradition recorded of the attempts made by Goths, Greeks, Longobards, Saracens, and Normans, to repair their waste of desolation, sufficiently shows, that though the art itself at intervals vanished, the craft still subsisted during the gloom of the middle ages.


But not to soil these pages with too much legend, we date the revival of Neapolitan art from the name of Tommaso de' Stefani, born 1230, the contemporary of Cimabue and Charles of Anjou, who, though on his passage through Florence he had been led to visit that object of Tuscan dotage, on his establishment at Naples employed Tommaso in his new-founded church; a questionable honour, of which a native writer[103] avails himself to insinuate the superiority of his countryman over Cimabue, as if the suffrage of a prince could defeat the evidence of works, or stand against the verdict of Marco da Siena,[104] who from them, judged him inferior to the Florentine in grandeur of style and breadth.

The favours of Charles were continued to Tommaso by his successor, and emulated by the principal families of the city; the chapel de' Minutoli, named by Boccaccio, was storied by him with subjects drawn from the Saviour's passion; and others from the life of S. Gennaro,[281] and some sainted bishops, by his hand, are said still to exist in a roomy chapel of the ancient Episcopio. Some semblance of the same saint in S. Angelo a Nido, formerly S. Michele, is considered as his work, and some fragments have survived of others, with dates of 1270 and 1275. He was the master of Filippo Tesauro, who painted in the church of S. Restituta the life of S. Nicholas the Hermit, the only fresco of his which has reached our time.[105]

About 1325, Giotto was invited by King Robert to Naples, for the purpose of painting the church of Sta. Chiara; he came and filled it with Gospel history, and apocalyptic mysteries, from inventions, said in the time of Vasari to have been formerly communicated to him by Dante. These works, because they darkened the church, were whitewashed in the beginning of the last century, with the exception of a Madonna called della Grazia, and some other[282] sainted image, preserved by female piety. Giotto conducted other works in Sta. Maria Coronata, and still others, which no longer exist in the Castle dell' Uovo. Maestro Simone, a Cremonese, according to some, but more probably a native of Naples, was the chosen partner of these works, and from so distinguished a choice, acquired some celebrity himself: from the resemblance of his style to Tesauro and to Giotto, he might have been the pupil of either, and was perhaps of both. Certain it is, that after the departure of Giotto, he received from Robert and Queen Sancia, many important commissions for various churches, and especially that of S. Lorenzo; there he painted Robert receiving the crown from his brother Lewis, Bishop of Toulouse, but died before he could finish the compartment of the chapel dedicated to that prelate after his demise and canonization. Though confessedly inferior in invention, character, and suavity of tone, he has nearly reached Giotto in some of his works: such as the dead Christ supported by his mother, in the church dell' Incoronata, and the Madonna with the Infant, on a gold-ground,[283] now in the convent of the church della Croce, supposed by some to have been painted in oil.[106]

Simone had a son, Francesco di Simone, who died in 1360. His works are not numerous, but what has reached our days in the Capitolo di S. Lorenzo, is distinguished by an air of superior dignity and grace. Two other pupils of Simone, Gennaro di Cola and Stefanone, a similarity of manner associated in several public works, such as the chapel of S. Lewis, begun by Simone, and what still exists in S. Giovanni da Carbonara of subjects relative to our Lady. They are similar, however, without monotony. Gennaro, impressed by the difficulties of his art, and bent to overcome each obstacle by labour, appears precise, studied, and hard. Stefanone, guided by a spirit which in better days might have been called genius, boldly executed what he had conceived with warmth.

The pretended improvements of Colantonio del Fiore, (born 1352, died 1444,) a pupil of Francesco, neither appear to have been considerable enough in themselves, nor sufficiently authenticated,[284] to place him at the head of a new epoch in style. Those barbarous relics of the middle ages, that meagerness of contour, dryness of colour, and want of perspective, which he is said to have abolished, had in a great measure vanished before, at the glance of Giotto. The gold grounds continued after both;[107] and if in enumerating some of his works his encomiast is in doubt whether they may not rather belong to M. Simone, what is it but a tacit confession, that the art had made no considerable progress during the course of a century?

The life of Colantonio grasped nearly the half of two centuries, and the refinements for which he has been extolled must be looked for in those of his works, on whose authenticity there is no hesitation, produced on the verge of life. Such is the Madonna, &c. in Sta. Maria Nuova, a compound of harmonious hues, though painted on a gold ground; and still more in S. Lorenzo, Saint Jerome drawing a thorn from the lion's foot, the date 1436, a picture full of[285] truth, in high esteem with foreigners, and for its better preservation removed by the fathers of the convent from the church itself to the sacristy. He had a scholar in Angiolo Franco, who has obtained the praise of Marco di Siena, for having invigorated the most successful imitation of Giotto by the tone and chiaroscuro of his master.

But a name of far greater importance to art is that of Antonio Solario, commonly called Lo Zingaro, the reputed son-in-law of Colantonio. His story, still more romantic than that which in Quintin Metsis transformed a blacksmith to a painter, tells that Solario, bred to the forge, became enamoured of a daughter of Colantonio, forsook the anvil, and by successful submission to a ten years' trial of painting, and the mediation of a queen, obtained the idol of his soul. Let those who told the tale vouch for its truth: what is less disputable, and interests this history more, are his travels from Naples to Bologna, where for several years he studied under Lippo Dalmasio, and from thence over Italy, to become acquainted with the principles of other masters; those of Vivarini at Venice; of Bicci at Florence; of Galasso at Ferrara; of[286] Pisanello and Gentile da Fabriano at Rome. These two, it is believed that he assisted, and Luca Giordano asserted that some heads in their pictures at the Lateran bore the legitimate marks of Solario's pencil. In heads he excelled; he inspired them, according to Marco da Siena, with the air of life. In perspective, if the times be weighed, his skill was considerable; in composition not contemptible. There is variety in his scenery; and if his dresses be not drapery, they are at least naturally folded. In the design of the extremities he was less happy; his attitudes often border on caricature, as his colour on crudeness. On his return to Naples, nine years after his departure, applauded by Colantonio and the public, he enjoyed the patronage of King Alfonso. His greatest work is the Life of S. Benedetto, in the compartments of the cloister of S. Severino,—frescoes filled with an incredible variety of objects. Other churches possess some altarpieces by him: he left many portraits and some very attractive Madonnas; but in the Dead Christ of S. Domenico Maggiore, and the S. Vincent of S. Pier Martire, including some stories of that Saint's life, he is said to have[287] excelled himself. Zingaro reared a school, which with more or less felicity disseminated his principles for nearly half a century, and retained his name. Of its pupils, Niccola di Vito, long forgot in his works, is barely remembered as a buffoon; Simone Papa and Angiotillo di Roccadirame, scarcely emerged to mediocrity; Pietro and Ippolito (Polito) del Donzello deserve less transient attention. Sons-in-law of Angiolo Franco, and pupils of Giuliano da Majano in architecture, they were, according to Vasari,[108] employed by him to decorate with paintings the fabric of Poggio Reale, which he had constructed for King Alfonso, where, continuing to operate under his son and successor Ferdinand, they represented the story of the Conspiracy formed in against him, a work celebrated by Jacopo Sannazaro.[109] Ippolito, alone or with his brother, filled the refectory of Sta. Maria Nuova with a number of subjects for the same prince,[288] and then retired to Florence, where, not long after, he died. Piero remained at Naples distinguished and followed. Their style is that of their master, but with more suavity of colour. The first successful imitation of friezes, trophies, and storied basso-relievoes in chiaroscuro, may with probability be dated from them. That Pietro excelled in portraits, is evident from some animated heads saved among the ruins of certain frescoes of his on a wall of the Palace Matalona. Both were, however, surpassed in tone, and force of light and shade, and mellowness of outline, by Silvestro de Buoni, their pupil, whose pictures, scattered over the temples of Naples, have been enumerated by Dominici. Silvestro himself yields to Tesauro of questionable name,[110] whose works approach much nearer to the succeeding epoch than the united labours of his predecessors in vigour of invention, in judgment, propriety of attitude, truth of expression, and general harmony of the whole, with a relief beyond what seems credible in an artist unacquainted with other schools and other[289] works than those of his native place. Such was his power of execution, that it challenged the wonder of Luca Giordano in the vigour of his career, when he contemplated the ceiling of San Giovanni de' Pappacodi, where Tesauro had painted the Seven Sacraments. They have been minutely described, and the portraits of Alfonso II. and of Ippolita Sforza, whom he is said to have represented, for the work itself is no more, in the Sacrament of Matrimony, afford some light as to the time in which it was painted. Another of his works, equally praised, in the Chapel Tocco of the Episcopal church, which represented a series of subjects from the life of Saint Asprenas, perished under the hands of one of Solimena's pupils. He was the father or uncle of Raimo Epifanio Tesauro, a considerable Frescante, who, according to Stanzioni, rekindled the evanescent spark of Zingaro's principles. Some few vestiges of his works remain in Sta. Maria Nuova and Monte Vergine. His dates reach from 1480 to 1501, and he may be considered as the last of this school, for Gio. Antonio d'Amato acquired fame by abandoning its style for that of Pietro Perugino.


Such were the masters that marked the first epoch of the Neapolitan school; neither inconsiderable in number, nor contemptible in progress, for a state nearly always perplexed by war: it derives, however, its greatest lustre from having produced within the state the memorable artist whose resolution and perseverance made Italy mistress of the new-discovered method in oil-painting, and changed the face of art.[111]

Antoniello, a Messinese, of the Antonj family,[291] universally known by the name of Antoniello da Messina, educated, according to Vasari, to the art at Rome, returned from that place to Sicily, and after some successful practice at Palermo and Messina, sailed to Naples, where he saw an historical picture painted in oil by John ab Eyk, which had been presented or disposed of to king Alfonso, by some Florentine traders. Charmed by the method, Antoniello forgot every other concern, passed into Flanders, and by close attendance, and some presents of Italian designs, captivated the heart of the old painter, who made him completely master of the secret, and soon after died. Antoniello then left Flanders, and after some months spent at Messina, repaired to Venice, where he practised with general admiration of his new method; communicated it to Domenico there, and he at Florence to the felon Castagna, till by gradual progress it embraced all Italy. What remains to be related of Antoniello, is reserved for the history of the Venetian school, to which by residence and practice he properly belongs, and which alone carried his new discovered method to the height it was capable of.

[292] The second epoch of Neapolitan art was auspicious. P. Perugino had painted for the Cathedral an Assumption of the Virgin, now lost, a work which led to a better taste. Already, Amato, as we observed, had abandoned the manner of Zingaro to follow Pietro, though his style had still too much of the former to form more than the connecting link between the two epochs; when Raffaello and his school came into vogue, Naples was the first of exterior towns to profit by them, and they, about the middle of the century, were followed by some adherents of Michael Angiolo; nor till near 1600, was any attention paid to other masters, if we except Tiziano.

The new series begins with Andrea Sabbatini[112] of Salerno. Smitten with the style of P. Perugino, Andrea set out for Perugia, to enter his school; but hearing some painters at an inn on the road talk of Raffaello and the Vatican, he altered his mind and route, and went to Rome. Though not long under the guidance of Sanzio, being by the death of his father, 1513, obliged to return to Naples, he returned another man. He is said to have painted with Raffaello at the Pace and in the Vatican. A[293] good copyist, and what is rare, a better imitator, if he did not soar with Giulio, he kept pace with the best of that school, and excelled some in correctness, and a style equally remote from affectation and manner, with depth of chiaroscuro, breadth of drapery, and a colour which has defied time. His works in oil and fresco, scattered over the metropolis and the kingdom at large, have been celebrated as miracles of art, though now either lost or greatly impaired.

Of his scholars all persevered not in his manner: thus Cesare Turco, as commendable in oil as unsuccessful in fresco, drew nearer to P. Perugino. More of Andrea was retained by Francesco Santafede, the father and master of Fabrizio,—painters whom few of that school equal in colour, and so uniform that their works can only be discriminated by the superior tinge and chiaroscuro of the father. But the scholar who most resembled Andrea was one Paolillo, whose works, nearly all ascribed to his master, till restored to their real author by Dominici, leave little doubt of his right to the first honours of that school, had his career not been intercepted by a violent death, occasioned by intrigue. Polidoro Caldara, of Caravaggio,[294] escaped to Naples in 1527, from the sack of Rome, but not, as Vasari with less information than credulity relates, to starve. Received in the house of Andrea, formerly his fellow scholar, he soon acquired acquaintance, commissions, and even formed pupils before his departure for Sicily. He had been celebrated for his chiaroscuros at Rome: at Naples and Messina he attempted colour. The shadowy and pallid specimens he has left, leave a doubt whether he would ever have arrived at a degree of strength or brilliancy worthy of invention and style, though he has been praised with enthusiasm by Vasari for the colour of the Christ led to Calvary, a numerous composition, and the last before his assassination at Messina.

Gian Bernardo Lama left the school of Amato to attach himself to Polidoro, whom he more than once imitated with sufficient success to incur the suspicion of having been assisted by the master: he had, however, more sweetness than energy, and, in the sequel, was noted for his opposition to the vigorous inroads of the Tuscan style and the prevalence of Marco di Pino.


Francesco Rubiales, a Spaniard, from his felicity of imitation called Polidorino, is likewise named in Naples among the scholars of Caldara, whom he assisted in painting for the Orsini, and singly conducted several works at Monte Oliveto, and elsewhere, the greater part of which are no more.

There are who class with the scholars of Polidoro, Marco Cardisco, called Marco Calabrese.[113] Him Vasari prefers to all the natives of that epoch, and admires as a plant sprung from a soil not its own: he knew not, perhaps, that, of Magna Grecia, modern Calabria was the spot most favoured by the arts. Possessed of a dextrous hand and florid colour, Cardisco spread his labours over Napoli and the State: of what remains, the most praised is the Dispute of Saint Augustine at Aversa. Gio. Batista Crescione and Lionardo Castellani are slightly mentioned by Vasari as his scholars.

Gio. Francesco Penni, called "Il Fattore," came to Naples some time after Polidoro; and, during the short time which he lived, for he died in 1528, contributed to the advancement of the art by leaving his great copy of Raffaello's[296] Transfiguration and his pupil Lionardo Grazia, of Pistoia, behind him, a name more celebrated for colour, and far less for design, than might have been expected from a nurseling of the Roman School. He is said to have been one of the masters of Francesco Curia, who went to Rome to study the style of Raffaello, but returned with the manner of Zucchero. His composition is, however, praised for decorum and suavity, his angels and female countenances for beauty, and his colour for a tone of nature:—their full display distinguished that Circumcision at the Church della Pietà, which Ribera, Giordano, and Solimene placed among the masterpieces of Naples. Curia left a close imitator in Ippolito Borghese, of whom little is seen at home, where he seldom resided, but the Assumption of Maria at the Monte della Pietà,—an extensive work, marked by equal vigour of execution.

Perino del Vaga, at Rome, instructed, and was assisted by, two Neapolitans, Giovanni Corso and Gianfilippo Criscuolo. The best that remains of Corso at Naples, is a Christ bearing his Cross, in S. Lorenzo. Long a pupil of Sabbatini, Criscuolo, during the little time of his[297] stay at Rome, studied the works of Raffaello with a perseverance which acquired him the name of the Studious Neapolitan; but without native vigour, timid, correct, and dry, he remained fitter to teach than to lead. Such were the principal followers of the Roman School at Naples; for neither Francesco Imparato, who abandoned the dry precepts of Criscuolo for the genial example of Tiziano, nor his son Girolamo, who long after followed the same principles with more pretence and less success, can properly be classed among the pupils of Rome. About 1544[114] a Tuscan introduced at Naples, what is as commonly as impertinently called, the style of Michael Angiolo: a cold enumeration of sesquipedalian muscles, groups uninspired by thought, feeble in effect, and crude or faint in colour, methodized by manner and despatched by practice. Thus Giorgio Vasari filled the Refectory of Monte Oliveto, during one year of residence, with an enormous work, which he considered as the electric stroke that was to animate that indolent taste, till then vainly solicited by Raffaello and his school. Whether he disgusted the national[298] pride by such insolent civility, or provoked the indignation of those who, in Andrea Sabbatini, venerated a superior name, it appears that, so far from creating a school, he was discountenanced by the public, and incurred the perpetual censure of every Neapolitan writer on art. He ought to have known, that he who challenges a nation, courts an eternal feud.

Another, less pompous, but more effectual follower of Michael Angiolo, was Marco da Pino, or Marco da Siena: the date[115] of his arrival at Naples ought probably to be placed after 1560. He was well received, presented with the freedom of the city, and deserved the courtesy by the amenity of his manners and sincerity of character. With the reputation of the first artist, Marco was employed in the most conspicuous churches of the city and the state. Though he sometimes repeated his inventions, he approached Michael Angiolo nearer than any other Tuscan, because he affected less to do it. His forms are appealed to by Lomazzo as instances of just proportion, and, in keeping and aërial perspective, he is ranked with Lionardo and Robusti. As his[299] design is less charged, so is his colour more vigorous and glowing than the usual tinge of the Tuscan School: sometimes, however, he is unequal, trusts to practice, and deviates into manner. He was an able architect, and of the good writers on that art.

Of many pupils reared in his school, none was comparable to Gio. Angiolo Criscuolo, brother of G. Filippo. Though bred a notary, he had practised miniature from his youth; emulation with his brother prompted him to attempt larger proportions; and, under the tuition of Marco, he became a good imitator of his style.[116]

To dwell circumstantially on the crowd of artists that fill the biographic pages of this period, humiliating as mere nomenclature[300] may appear, is below the dignity of an art, which, like poetry, admits not of mediocrity. Reputation during life, the partiality of friends and countrymen, some single work which escaped to excellence from the insignificant productions of a long career, are but equivocal claims on the homage of posterity: and more legitimate ones in oil or fresco, have neither Silvestro Bruno, Simone del Papa, the younger Amato, Mazzolini, Cola dell' Amatrice, Pompeo dell' Aquila, Giuseppe Valeriani, Marco Mazzaroppi, Gio. Pietro Russo, Pietro Negrone of Calabria, nor the Sicilian Gio. Borghese. Pirro Ligorio, the favourite architect of Pio IV. in Rome, and the engineer of Alphonso II. at Ferrara, owes the preservation of his name more to his Augean collections of antiquarian lumber and the intrigues by which he perplexed the last years of M. Angiolo, than to the flimsy exertions of his pencil.

Matteo da Leccè, of obscure education, displayed in Rome a perverse attachment to the manner of M. Angiolo by the usual conglobation of muscles and extravagance of action. He worked chiefly in fresco, and with a relief, which, in the phrase of Baglioni, makes some[301] of his figures burst from the wall. Though many Florentines were then at Rome, he alone appeared capable of completing the plan of Buonarroti, in the Sistina, by facing the Last Judgement with the Fall of the Rebel Angels. Matteo girt himself boldly for the work, and left it a lamentable proof of the ridicule that must attend the presumption of a mere craftsman to ally himself with a man of genius. He worked likewise in Malta and in Spain, and, passing from thence to the Indies, became a thriving trader, till duped by the rage of digging for treasures, he dissipated his wealth, and died of penury and grief.

After the middle of the sixteenth century, the flame-like rapidity of Tintoretto's style at Venice, and soon after, the powerful contrast of Caravaggio's method at Rome, and the eclectic system of the Carracci, at Bologna, spread general emulation over Italy, and divided Naples into three parties, of nearly equal strength, led by Corenzio, Ribera, and Caracciolo, differing from each other, but ready to unite against all foreign competition. During their flourish, Guido, Domenichino, Lanfranco,[302] Artemisia Gentileschi were at Naples, and formed some pupils;—a period as enviable in the number of excellent artists and the progressive powers of execution, as disgraceful for the dark manœuvres and the vile intrigues that fill it—intrigues and manœuvres too closely interwoven with the history of Neapolitan art, and, unfortunately, too well attested, merely to be dismissed with silence and contempt.

Belisario Corenzio,[117] an Achæan Greek, after passing five years in the school of Tintoretto, fixed his abode at Naples about 1590. A native stream of ideas and unparalleled celerity of hand placed him, perhaps, on a level with his master in the dispatch of a prodigious number, even of most extensive works; but his rage was too ungovernable often to admit of more distinguished comparisons with Robusti; though few excelled him in design, and his works abound in conceptions, attitudes, and airs of heads confessedly inimitable to the Venetians themselves. The work in which he has best succeeded as an imitator of Tintoretto, is the Miraculous Feeding of the Crowd by the Saviour, in the Refectory of the Benedictines,[303] a huge performance, but, under his hands, a task of forty days. Though generally too much of a mannerist to sacrifice the readiest to the best, he still preserves a character of his own, an air of originality, in glories especially, which he embosomed in darkness and clouds pregnant with showers. With a decided turn for works of large dimension in fresco, which seldom allowed him to submit to the finish of oil colour, he contrived to please by various compositions of sacred history, in small proportions, and is even said to have enlivened the perspectives of the Frenchman Desiderio with diminutive figures admirably toned and adapted to the scenery.

The native country of Giuseppe Ribera[118] was a subject of dispute between the Spaniards and Neapolitans, till the production of[304] an extract from the baptismal register of Xativa (Antologia di Roma, 1795) decided the claim in favour of Spain, and proved him a native of that place, now "San Felipe," in the district of Valencia. If the date of his birth, January 12, 1588, be correct, he must have come to Italy and entered the school of Caravaggio at a very early period. From him Ribera went to Rome, Modena, Parma, saw Raffaello, Annibale, Correggio, and in imitation of their works attempted to form a more luminous and gayer style, in which he had little success, dismissed it soon after his return to Naples, and once more embraced the method of Caravaggio, as more eminently calculated by its force, truth, and effect to fix the eye of the multitude, the object of his ambition; he soon became painter to the court, and by degrees the arbiter of its taste.

The studies he had pursued enabled him to go beyond Caravaggio in invention, mellowness, and design: the grand Deposition from the Cross at the Certosa proves the success of his emulation, a work, by the verdict of Giordano, alone sufficient to form a painter: the Martyrdom of S. Gennaro in the royal chapel, and[305] the S. Jerome of the Trinità, excel his usual style, and possess Titianesque beauties. S. Jerome was among his darling subjects; S. Jerome he painted, he etched in numerous repetition, in whole-length and in half figures. He delighted in the representation of hermits, anchorets, apostles, prophets, perhaps less to impress the mind with gravity of character and the venerable looks of age, than to strike the eye with the imitation of incidental deformities attendant on decrepitude, and the picturesque display of bone, veins, and tendons athwart emaciated muscle. A shrivelled arm, a dropsied leg, were to Ribera what a breast-plate and a gaberdine were to Rembrandt. As in objects of imitation he courted meagreness or excrescence, so in the choice of historic subjects he preferred to the terrors of ebullient passions, features of horror or loathsomeness, the spasms of Ixion, St. Bartholomew under the butcher's knife. Nor are the few ideas of gaiety by which he endeavoured to soothe his exasperated fancy, less disgusting: Bacchus and his attendants are grinning Lazaroni or bloated wine-sacks; brutality under his hand distorts the feature of mirth.


Giambatista Caracciolo,[119] first attached to Franc. Imparato, then to Caravaggio, grew to manhood before he had produced any work of consequence: roused afterward by the fame and the impression made on his mind by some picture of Annibale, he went to Rome, and by a pertinacious study of the Farnese Gallery became one of the best imitators of that style. This was the basis of his fame on his return to Naples, and by this, whenever provoked to competition, he maintained it: such are the Madonna of S. Anna de' Lombardi; S. Carlo, in the church of S. Agnello; and the Christ under the Cross, at the Incurabili. The rest of his performances, by their strength of chiaroscuro, betray the school of Caravaggio. From so considerate and finished an artist, haste and flimsiness were not to be feared, and yet there exist productions of his so feeble that his biographer[120] is reduced to account for them from the artist's wish of retaliating by paltry work for paltrier prices; or from suffering them to be finished by Mercurio d'Aversa, no very estimable pupil.

Such were the three leaders of that cabal[307] which for some years persecuted every stranger of eminence in the art who freely came, or was invited to come, to Naples. Reputation, fiction, violence, had raised Belisario to the tyranny of fresco; the most lucrative commissions he considered as due to himself, the rest he distributed among his dependants, the greater number of whom possessed little merit. Massimo Santafede, though independent of him, remained neuter, afraid to interfere with a man who, to obtain his purpose, would stop at neither fraud nor crime; a proof of which he is said to have given, in administering poison to the gentlest and best of his pupils, Luigi Roderigo, whose growing powers he envied.

To maintain his primacy in fresco, the exclusion of every stranger who excelled in that branch became, of course, his principal object. Annibale Caracci arrived at Naples in 1609, to paint the churches "dello Spirito Santo" and "di Gesu Nuovo," and produced a small picture as a specimen of his style. The Greek and his associates, called upon to give their opinion of it, unanimously condemned it as cold, and its master far too tame to manage an extensive work. Thus baffled, Annibale returned[308] to Rome during the most oppressive heats of summer, and soon after died. But the work most contested with strangers was the royal chapel of S. Gennaro, which the deputies had reserved for Giuseppe d'Arpino, then painting the choir of the Certosa. Belisario, leaguing himself with Spagnoletto, not less fierce and arrogant, and with Caracciolo, who both aspired to that commission, attacked Cesari with a fury which forced him, before he could terminate his choir, to fly for safety, first to Monte Cassino, and then back to Rome. The commission was now given to Guido; but not long after, two men unknown cudgelled his servant and dismissed him with a message to his master immediately to depart or to prepare for death. Guido fled; but Gessi his pupil, not intimidated, having demanded and obtained the grand commission, repaired to Naples with two assistants, G. Batista Ruggieri and Lorenzo Menini; both were decoyed on board a galley, that immediately slipped its cable and transported them to some place which no researches could discover, and Gessi was obliged to return with his disappointment to Rome.

Dispirited by the violence of these manœuvres,[309] the deputies began to give way to the cabal of the monopolists, allotting the frescoes to Correnzio and Caracciolo, and flattering Spagnoletto with the hope of being intrusted with the altar-pieces; when all at once, repenting of their agreement, they ordered the two fresco painters to throw up their work, and transferred the whole of the chapel to Domenichino, at the splendid price of a hundred ducats for every entire, fifty for each half figure, and twenty-five for every head.[121] They likewise took measures for his personal safety, by obtaining the Viceroy's protection, but in vain. The faction, not content with crying him down as a cold insipid painter and discrediting him with those who see with their ears and fill every place, alarmed him with anonymous letters, threw down what he had painted, mixed ashes with his materials to crack the ground he had prepared, and, by a stroke of the most refined malice, persuaded the Viceroy to give him a commission of some pictures for the Court of Spain. These, when little more than[310] dead-coloured, they carried from his study to court, where Ribera superciliously ordered what alterations he thought proper, and then, without allowing him leisure to terminate the whole, dispatched them to Spain. The insolence of the rival, the complaints of the deputies on the successive interruptions of their work, and hence the suspicion of mischief, induced Domenichino at last secretly to depart for Rome, in hopes of being able from thence to bring his affairs into a better train,—and not without success; the rumours of his flight subsided, new measures for his safety were taken, he returned to Naples, and, without more interruption, completed the greater part of the frescoes, and considerably advanced the altar-pieces.

Here death surprised him, accelerated, as some have suspected, by poison, certainly by repeated causes of disgust from his relations, competitors, and, above all, the arrival of his old adversary Lanfranco. He succeeded to Domenichino in the remaining fresco, Spagnoletto in one of the oil pictures, and Stanzioni in another. Caracciolo was dead; Belisario, excluded by age from sharing in the spoil, soon[311] after was destroyed by a ruinous fall from a scaffold. Nor had Ribera, if the prevailing fame be true,[122] a desirable end; dishonoured in his daughter, gnawed by remorse for the vile persecutions in which he had shared, odious to himself, and sick of light, he escaped to sea, and none tells where he perished.

Opposed at its onset by these three, the School of Bologna triumphed after their demise, and Naples was divided into its imitators; for the mannered style of Cesari, which approached that of Belisario, terminated with Luigi Roderigo, and his relative Gian Bernardino.

At the head of those who adopted Caracciesque principles with success, may be placed Massimo Stanzioni[123] a scholar of Caracciolo, and, as he himself asserts, of Lanfranco in fresco, in portrait of Santafede. At Rome he strove to embody the forms of Annibale with the tints of Guido. Thus equipped, he braved the foremost talents at Naples, and opposed at the[312] Certosa a Dead Christ among the Maries to Spagnoletto, who, to escape comparisons, persuaded the friars to have the picture of his rival washed to recover its somewhat darkened tone, and with a corrosive liquor so defaced it, that Stanzioni, declaring so black a fraud ought to remain an object of public indignation, refused to retouch it; he left, however, other specimens of his powers at that repository of rival talents, and above all the masterpiece of S. Bruno. The ceilings of Gesu Nuovo and of S. Paolo give him a distinguished rank among fresco painters. His gallery pictures, though not rare at Naples, are seldom met with elsewhere. Whilst single, he sought and aimed at excellence, and courted the art for its own sake; after his marriage, with a woman of fashion, gain became necessary to maintain her in a state of splendour, and he sunk by degrees to mediocrity.

The School of Massimo is celebrated for the number and excellence of its pupils, but the two who promised most, Muzio Rossi and Antonio de Bellis, perished in the bloom of life. The first, who had entered the School of Guido at Bologna, was at the age of eighteen thought[313] worthy to face at the Certosa men of the first ability, and shrinks from no comparison, but scarcely survived his work. The second, whose style is nearly balanced between Guido and Guercino, began at the church of S. Carlo various pictures from the life of that Saint, which he lived not to finish.

Francesco di Rosa, called Pacicco, another pupil of that school, gave himself up to the imitation of Guido, by Massimo's own advice. Pacicco is one of the few artists mentioned by Paolo de Matteio in a MS. which admits no name of mediocrity. His forms, his colour, the elegance of his extremities, the grace and dignity of his characters, are equally commended. He had models of beauty in three nieces, one of whom, Aniella di Rosa, in charms, talents, and manner of death has been compared to Elizabeth Sirani: poison, administered by the malignity of strangers, swept the Bolognese—a dagger and a husband's jealousy, the Neapolitan: he was Agostin Beltrano, her fellow pupil, and frequent partner of her works.

The remaining scholars of this school, Paul Domenico Finoglia, Giacinto de' Popoli, and Giuseppe Marullo, all three of Orta,—Andrea Malinconico, and Bernardo Cavallino, were, if[314] we except the last, with more or less felicity, imitators of their master. Cavallino, more original, is said to have provoked the jealousy of Massimo, who advised him to paint in small: this ought to be admitted with hesitation, for it is difficult to believe, that he who feels himself made for the grand, could be persuaded to waste his life on trifles.

Another convert to the Caracci School, was Andrea Vaccaro,[124] the friend and competitor of Massimo, a man made for imitation, says Lanzi, and says too much; for, if he had no equal in that of Caravaggio, he was, when imitating Guido, inferior to Massimo: nor did he, till after the demise of Stanzioni, acquire that supremacy at Naples which remained undisputed till the arrival of Giordano, young, vigorous, and fraught with the novel style of Pietro Beretini. Both concurred for the great altar-piece of Sta. Maria del Pianto, both presented their sketches, and Vaccaro obtained preference by the verdict of Pietro da Cortona himself, who declared him equally superior in experience and correctness of style to his own scholar;[315] but, when contending with Giordano in fresco, to which he had not been trained by early practice, Vaccaro lost the honours he had gained. The best of his school was Giacomo Farelli, whom Luca found no contemptible antagonist: had he been content to follow the style of his master, without aspiring at that of Domenichino, for which he was unfit, he might have deserved the historian's notice for more than one picture.

On the School of Domenichino, the Sicilians, Pietro, Giacomo, and Teresa del Po, cannot confer much honour. The father had more theory than practice, the son less evidence than ostentation, the daughter shone in miniature. Nearer to the master, both in style and temper, was Francesco di Maria: correct, slow, irresolute, author of few but eminent works, especially the subjects relative to S. Lawrence, at the Conventuals of Naples. He excelled in portraits, one of which, exhibited at Rome with one of Vandyk and another by Rubens, was, by Poussin, Cortona, and Sacchi, preferred to both. He often has been mistaken for his master, and commands high prices: the want of grace alone betrays him—of grace Nature had[316] not been liberal to Francesco. Hence he became the proverb of Giordano, "that sickening over bone and muscle, he rendered beauty tame." He, in retort, held up Giordano's style as heresy in art, a flowery medley of incoherent charms.

Though the reputed master, Lanfranco was not the model of Massimo; his principal imitator was Giambatista Benaschi, or Bernaschi, numbered with Roman artists by Orlandi, but who fixed his residence at Naples, and opened a numerous school; a decided machinist, but with a grasp of fancy which never suffered him to repeat a figure in the same attitude. His points of sight from below upward, are correct, and his foreshortenings dextrously contrived. None ever approached a master nearer, and forsook him with less success.

Guercino never saw Naples, but Mattia Preti,[125] commonly called Calabrese, smit with his novel style, went to study it at Cento; not indeed exclusively, for no Italian school escaped the attention of Preti. Unpractised in colour to his twenty-sixth year, he attended solely to design, less to form beauty or trace characters[317] of delicacy, than to express robust and energetic ones: in such he often succeeded, but sometimes sunk to heaviness. His colour resembled his line, not soft and airy, but dense, cut into masses of chiaroscuro, and with a general tone of ashy hues, tints of sorrow, contrition, anguish, the favourite topics of his pencil. The frescoes of Calabrese at Modena, Naples, Malta, have a stamp of grandeur. At Rome, in S. Andrea della Valle, he appears to less advantage, too enormous for the place, and too ponderous at the side of Domenichino. Italy is filled with his oil pictures, for his life was long, his hand rapid, and every place he visited, a scene of exercise: what he painted for galleries consisted commonly of half figures, like those of Guercino. He long, and nearly alone, contested the field with Giordano, to whose captivating airiness his weight was at last forced to yield. He retired and died in Malta, a Knight of its order, without leaving a pupil who rose above mediocrity.

After this survey of the Bolognese School at Naples, the native one of Ribera claims attention. None ever swore more implicitly to a master's dictates: the energy of his style absorbed[318] their eye, the atrocity of his character too often debauched their hearts. Inferiority alone discriminates the works of Giovanni Do and Bartolommeo Passante from those of Spagnoletto; though, in the advance of life, the first attempted to tinge with less vulgarity, and the second now and then affected a more select outline. Francesco Fracanzani had a certain grandeur of execution and bloom of colour: his "Transito," or Death of St. Joseph, at the Pellegrini, is among the first pictures of the city. But, by the pressure of poverty, he first became a dauber, then a criminal, and received sentence of death, which respect for his profession, from the public ignominy of the halter, mitigated to secret execution by poison.

Aniello Falcone[126] and Salvator Rosa, who is to be mentioned more at large elsewhere, are the greatest boast of this school, though Rosa frequented it for a short time only, and chiefly profited by the instruction of Falcone. The strength of Falcone lay in battles, which he painted in all dimensions, from the Sacred books, history, or poems. Countenance, arms, dresses were in unison with the national character[319] of the combatants. His expression was vivid, the figures and movements of his horses select and natural, and his tactics correct, though he had neither served in, nor seen a battle. He drew with precision, everywhere consulted the life, and laid his colour on with equal strength and finish. That he instructed Borgognone is not probable. Baldinucci, who published the Memoirs of that Jesuit, is silent on that head; but they knew and esteemed each other. He had a numerous set of scholars, and with them, and the assistance of some other painters, contrived to revenge the murder of some relative and of a pupil assassinated by the presidial Spaniards: for, at the revolutionary hubbub of Maso Aniello, he and his gang formed themselves into a troop, which they called "the Company of Death," and, protected by Ribera, who palliated their proceedings at court, spread horrid massacre, till, scared by the return of order, this band of homicides dispersed, and sought their safety in flight. Falcone himself retired for some years to France, which has many of his works; the rest escaped to Rome, or sought the usual asylums of revenge and murder.


A numerous set of various but inferior artists, in power and pursuit, fills the remaining period of this epoch and the Neapolitan catalogues of art: the best of these issued from the desperate School of Falcone, to whose method they adhered in all their diverging branches. Of these Domenico Gargiuoli, nicknamed Micco Spadaro, a character as fierce as pliant, leads the van—no contemptible figurist in large, but of endless combination in groups of small proportion. The perspectives of Viviano Codagora, his sworn brother, receive an exclusive lustre from his figures. The battles of their fellow scholar, Carlo Coppola, might sometimes be mistaken for those of Falcone, had he given less fulness to his horses. Paolo Porpora left battles to paint quadrupeds, but chiefly and best, fish and sea-shells: in fruit and flowers he was far surpassed by Abraham Brueghel, who at that time had settled at Naples. Giuseppe Recco and Andrea Belvedere, from the same school, excelled in game and birds; and the last still more in flowers and fruit, so as to contest superiority in that branch with Giordano, asserting that no figurist could reach the polish, or give the finish required in minute objects. Luca maintained, that the more implies the[321] less, and, composing a picture of game, fruit, and flowers, gave it such an air of illusion, that Andrea, shrinking from his presence crestfallen, retired among the literati of the day, of whom he was not the least.

After the middle of the seventeenth century, the revolutionary style of Luca Giordano[127] reversed every preceding principle, and, by the suavity of its ornamental magic, enchanted the public taste. A vast, resolute, creative, talent attended him from infancy: in his eighth year he is said to have painted, and not for the first time in fresco, two infant angels, for the church of Sta. Maria La Nuova.[128] Struck with wonder, the Vice Rè Duke Medina de Las Torres placed him with Ribera, whose principles he studied for some time, but, aspiring to a more ample theatre of art, escaped to Rome, followed by his father, Antonio, a weak artist, but an unceasing monitor, and the more relentless because he placed all his hopes on the rapid success of his son. To insure it, he did not, if[322] we believe one writer, suffer Luca to intermit his labours by regular meals, but fed him whilst at work, as birds their callow young, perpetually chirping into his ear, Luca, dispatch![129]—Luca, dispatch! repeated his fellow-students, till the joke became nickname, by which he is oftener distinguished than by his own.

So brutal a method would have excited in a mind less vigorous nothing but weariness and despondency, but to the combining spirit of Luca gave with portentous velocity of hand the rudiments of that varied power, which, to a degree of deception, taught him to imitate the predominant air of every master's style in line and colour, which he was set or chose to copy,[323][130] and he had in nearly endless repetition, copied the best of what Rome possessed of its own, the Lombard, Venetian, and foreign schools, when he entered that of Pietro da Cortona, whose wide-extended and ostentatious plans met most congenially his own.

No single master's manner did he, however, exclusively adopt. His first works exhibit the pupil of Ribera, with evident aims at the energy of that style; his subsequent and best manner is marked by the beauties and the faults of Pietro da Cortona, the same contrast of composition, the same masses of light, with equal monotony of expression, which in female features was often supplied by his wife; a predilection for the ornamental splendour of Paolo Veronese distinguishes with less advantage a third class of his works—in this, stuffs are mixed with draperies, the tints are less vigorous, the chiaroscuro less decided, the execution heavier. It has been observed, that his[324] works, when compared with the finished masterpieces of the classic schools, are little better than embryos, that he carried nothing to perfection, and that the delusive power alone, by which he united a number of jarring parts in one pleasing whole, can save him from sinking to the mediocrity which overwhelmed his imitators. But it ought likewise to be considered, what was the object of his exertions, and the end which he pursued;—they were, by conquering the eye, to become the favourite of the public, and he was made for both. Others see by degrees, arrange, reject, select;—into the fancy of Giordano, the subject with its parts showered at once; the picture stood complete before him. In colour, little solicitous about the dictates of art, or the real hues of Nature, he created an ideal and arbitrary tone, which represented the air of things without diving into their substance, and, content with absolute dominion over the eye, left it to others to inform the mind. If his method was compendiary; none ever knew better how to improve an accident to a beauty, and give to the random strokes of haste the look of deliberate practice. That he knew the laws of design, we know,[325] but debauched by facility and the rage of gain, neglected the toil of correctness: hence likewise the superficial manner in which he often laid on his colours, diluted, unembodied, and unable to retain the fugitive imagery of his pencil.

Naples is full of Giordano—few, if any in so vast a metropolis, are the churches that want his hand. In that of the P.P. Girolamini, the Expulsion of the Venders is one of his most admired works; but the best of his frescoes, in which he seems to have concentrated his powers, are those in the treasury of the Certosa. The cupola of S. Brigida, rapidly painted in competition with Francesco di Maria, exhibits the first specimens of that flattering tone which baffled the learning of his rival, intoxicated the vulgar, and corrupted the growing taste. The admired picture of St. Xavier, of copious composition and the most seductive colour, was the work of one day and a half. Among the public and private paintings at Florence, the chapel Corsini and the gallery Riccardi are by the hand of Luca; nor was he unemployed by the Sovereign; and Cosmo III., in whose presence he invented and coloured a large composition[326] with momentary velocity, declared him a painter formed for princes. He obtained the same praise from Charles II. of Spain, whom he served for thirteen years, but from the multitude of his works might be supposed to have served during a long life. There he continued the series of pictures begun by Cambiasi, in the church of the Escurial, on the most extensive plan, but inferior in style and execution to the frescoes of Buon-Ritiro. Of his oil pictures, that of the Nativity, for the Queen Mother, has shared unlimited praise, as combining with superior felicity of execution, a research and a depth of study seldom found in his other works.

Grown old, he returned to Naples, loaded with riches and honours, and soon after died, regretted as the first painter of his time.

Though Giordano did not propose his process as a model of imitation to his scholars, it may easily be guessed that his success made a deeper impression on them than his precepts, and that without previously submitting to the labours of his education, they attempted to snatch with the charms the profits of his manner. Hence a swarm of bold craftsmen and[327] mannerists was let loose upon the public, who with gay mediocrity overwhelmed what yet was left of principles in art. Of these, his favourites were Aniello Rossi, and Matteo Pacelli, who accompanied him to Spain, returned well pensioned, and continued to live in obscure ease. Niccolo Rossi, Giuseppe Simonelli, Andrea Miglionico and Ramondo de Dominici, came nearer their master; and the Spaniard Franceschitto, as he had raised the hopes, might have excited the jealousy of Luca, had he not been intercepted by death. He left a specimen of his powers in the picture of S. Pasquale, at Sta. Maria del Monte.

But the best of his pupils, and heir of his dispatch, was Paolo de' Matteis, a name that ranks with the foremost of that day, not unknown to France or Rome; his chief abode was, however, Naples, where his frescoes are spread over churches, galleries, halls and ceilings; if unequal to those of his master in merit, nearly always produced with equal speed. It was his unexampled vaunt to have painted the enormous Cupola del Gesù Nuovo in sixty-six days, a boast which Solimene checked with the cool reply, that the work told its own tale[328] without assistance: and yet it possesses beauties, especially in the parts that imitate Lanfranco, which excite wonder, considering the fury of execution. Nor, if he chose to work with previous study and with diligence, as in the church of the 'Pii Operai,' in the gallery Matatona, and in many private pictures, was he destitute of composition, grace of outline, or beauty of countenance, though little varied. His colour at the onset was Giordanesque; in the sequel he increased the force of his chiaroscuro, though not without delicate gradation of tints: particularly in Madonnas and Infants, which give an idea of Albano's suavity, and the Roman style. A school more numerous than distinguished by talent, contributes little to his celebrity.

Francesco Solimene,[131] called "L'Abate Ciccio," born at Nocera de' Pagani, took the elements of art from his father Angelo, formerly a pupil of Massimo, and went to Naples. He successively frequented the schools of Francesco di Maria and of Giac. del Po, and left both to follow his own inclination, which at first exclusively[329] led him to imitate the style of Pietro da Cortona, and even to adopt his figures. He next formed a manner which, of all others, approached next to Preti; the design, indeed, is less exact, the colour less true, but the faces handsomer, now in imitation of Guido, then nearer to Maratta, and often picked from life: hence the byname of "the Gentler Calabrese."[132] To Preti he joined Lanfranco, whom he surnamed the "Master," and from him borrowed and exaggerated that serpentine sweep of composition: his chiaroscuro, balanced between both, lost some of its vigour and became softer with the advance of life. He drew and revised his forms from Nature with much accuracy before he painted, but often sacrificed his outline to the fire of execution in the process. The facility and elegance which distinguish him in poetry, mark his invention in painting, to no branch of which he could be called a stranger, and might have excelled singly in each. His works are scattered over Europe, for he lived to the age of ninety, and yielded in velocity of hand to Giordano only,[330] his competitor and friend, at whose demise he succeeded to the Primacy of taste.

Of the public works that most distinguish Solimene, are the stories of the sacristy in S. Paolo Maggiore de' P.P. Teatini, nor less the pictures substituted for those of Giacomo del Po on the arches of the Chapels in the Church de' S.S. Apostoli. Specimens of his high finish may be seen in the Chapel of S. Filippo in the Church dell' Oratorio; he painted the principal altar-piece of the Nuns di "S. Gaudioso," and the four large histories in the choir of the church at Monte Cassino. Of private works, the gallery of Sanfelice is the most conspicuous at Naples; at Rome, some stories in the Albani and Colonna palaces; and at Macerata, in the Buonacorsi collection, among several mythologic subjects, the Death of Dido, a picture of large dimensions and striking effect. In the refectory of the Conventuals of Assisi, the Last Supper of our Lord, a polished performance, is by his hand.

Of that most numerous band of pupils whom he let loose upon the public, the most celebrated was, no doubt, Sebastiano Conca, a native of Gaeta, generally classed with the[331] Roman school, for Rome became his residence and the theatre of his talent. After having served a pupilage of sixteen years under Solimene, and persevered in the practice of that style for several years at Rome, he ominously proved the futility of attempting at an advanced period to escape from the tyranny of early habits. At forty he dared to leave his brushes, became once more a student, and spent five years in drawing after the antique and the masters of design: but his hand and eye, debauched by manner, refused to obey his mind, till, wearied by hopeless fatigue, he followed the advice of the sculptor Le Gros, and returned to his former practice, though not without considerable improvements, and nearer to Pietro da Cortona than to his master. Conca had fertile brains, a rapid pencil, and a colour which at first sight fascinated every eye by its splendour, contrast, and the delicacy of its flesh-tints. His dispatch in fresco and in oil was equal to his employment, and there is scarcely a collection of any consequence without its Conca. He was courted by sovereigns and princes, and Pope Clement XI. ennobled him at a full assembly of the academicians of St. Luke. He[332] was assisted in his labours by his brother Giovanni, a man of similar taste, but less power, and an excellent copyist. The maxims of Conca are considered[133] as having completed the ruin of art; but every school had its own canker, and his influence did not extend to all. Without deviating into a catalogue of mediocrity, it may be sufficient to name three of his principal scholars, Gaetano Lapis of Cagli, Salvator Monosilio, a Messinese, and Gaspero Serenari, a Palermitan. Lapis had too much originality of conception and too much solidity of taste to adopt the flowery style of his master. The public works he left at home, and the Birth of Venus in a ceiling of the Borghese Palace, as correct as graceful, deserved and would have attained more celebrity, had not self-contempt and diffidence intercepted the fortune which his talent might have commanded. The two Sicilians, complete machinists, shared with the imitation the success of their master.

Next to Conca, the most successful pupil of Solimene was Francesco de Mura, surnamed Franceschiello, born at Naples and greatly employed in its churches and private galleries:[333] the works, however, to which he owes most of his celebrity, were the frescoes painted in various apartments of the royal palace at Torino, in competition with Claudio Beaumont, who was then at the height of his vigour. Mura ornamented the ceiling of some rooms, chiefly filled with Flemish pictures, with subjects widely different, Olympic games, and actions of Achilles.

Corrado Giaquinto of Molfetta, may conclude what yet deserves to be recorded of this school. He too left Naples, came to Rome, and attached himself to Conca, whose maxims he made nearly all his own; as resolute, as easy, but less correct. Rome, Macerata, and other parts of the Roman state, are acquainted with his works. He painted in Piemont, was employed by Charles III. in Spain, appointed Director of the Academy of S. Fernando, pleased and continued to please the greater part of the public, even after the arrival of A.R. Mengs.


[103] Dominici.

[104] "Le opere superstiti ne deon decidere; e secondo queste Marco da Siena, ch'è il padre della Storia pittorica Napolitana, giudicò che in grandezza di fare Cimabue prevalepe."—Lanzi, ii. I. 580.

[105] Tommaso had a brother Pietro de' Stefani, who professed painting, but practised sculpture: of his works the monuments of Pope Innocenzio IV., who died at Naples 1254, of Charles the First and Second, are the most eminent. The two sitting statues of these two kings are still seen over the small gates of the Episcopal palace.

[106] Signorelli Vicende della Coltura delle due Sicilie,—t. iii. 116.

[107] The Vatican alone is sufficient to prove that gold-grounds were still recurred to in the best years of the sixteenth century.

[108] In the life of Giuliano da Majano. They are the first painters of the Neapolitan schools mentioned by him, though with an ambiguity which might induce us to believe that he meant to give them for Tuscany.

[109] In the forty-first sonnet, addressed to King Federigo: "Vedi invitto Signor come risplende," &c.

[110] Some call him Giacomo, some Andria, most, and with greater probability, Bernardo.

[111] See the remarks relative to Antoniello, in the history of Venetian art; but it is in place here to observe on the assertions of the Neapolitan writers, that, if the tradition of a Greek picture in oil at the Duomo of Messina be not fabulous, Antoniello could not have remained ignorant of it. If Colantonio was in possession of oil painting, how is the astonishment to be accounted for, which the method of John ab Eyk excited at Naples? How came the name of an obscure Fleming to fill in a short period all Europe, every prince to solicit his pencil, every painter to submit to his dictates or those of his scholars? Who, on the contrary, who out of Naples or its state, knew then Colantonio? who courted Solario? a man so apt, the son-in-law and scholar of the former, and before of Lippo Dalmasio—how forgot he to learn, or why did he neglect a method they are said to have practised so well, for the vulgar one of distemper? Either they knew nothing of the mystery at all, or in a degree too insignificant to affect the authority of Vasari, and the claims of John ab Eyk and Antoniello.

[112] A. Sabbatini from 1480 to 1545.

[113] 1508 to 1542.

[114] Vasari.

[115] Said to be in 1587.

[116] These two laid the foundation of a History of Neapolitan Art. The transient manner in which Vasari had mentioned Marco in the new edition of his Lives, his silence on many Sienese, and omission of most Neapolitan painters, were probably the causes that provoked the literary opposition of Marco. His pupil, the Notary, furnished him with materials, from the archives and domestic tradition, for the Discourse which he composed in 1569, the year after the edition of Vasari; though it remained in MS. till 1742, when, jointly with the Memoirs of Criscuolo, in the Neapolitan dialect, &c., the greater part of it was, published by Dominici.

[117] B. Corenzio, 1558 to 1643.

[118] In an inscription on one of his pictures, mentioned by Palomino, he styles himself "Jusepe de Ribera Español de la Ciutad de Xativa, e reyno de Valencia, Academico Romano, año 1630;" but the Neapolitans, who maintained that he was born of Spanish parents in the neighbourhood of Lecce, ascribe this and similar subscriptions on his works rather to his ambition of ingratiating himself with the government, which was Spanish, than to a genuine desire of acquainting posterity with his native country.

Lo Spagnoletto 1588, vivo in 1649.

[119] Caracciolo di Batistiello, died 1641.

[120] Dominici.

[121] As it is evident that the deputies broke a formal contract with Correnzio and Batistiello, it is not easily discovered on what principle Lanzi has praised their conduct.

[122] It is contradicted only by the unsupported assertion of Bermudez, who tells that Ribera died rich and honoured 1656 at Naples.

[123] M. Stanzioni, 1585 to 1656.

[124] Vaccaro, 1598 to 1671.

[125] M. Preti, 1613 to 1699.

[126] A. Falcone, 1600 to 1665.

[127] Born 1632, died 1705.

[128] The assent of Carlo Celano (Giornata IV.) seems to authenticate this tradition.

[129] Luca, fa Presto!

[130] He used to tell, that then he had drawn twelve times the Stanze and the Loggia of Rafaello, and nearly twenty the Battle of Constantine, without mentioning his copies from the Sistina, Polidoro, A. Caracci, &c.; hence, some one has called him by a bold but pertinent allusion "The Thunderbolt of Art," as others its Proteus, from the singular talent of mimicking the manner and touch of every master. Many are the pictures painted by him, which passed for works of Albert Durer, Bassano, Tiziano, and Rubens, not only with connoisseurs, a task less difficult, but with his rivals, whose eyes malignity as well as discernment might have sharpened: these deceptions fetched at sales doubly and trebly the price of an ordinary Giordano. Specimens are still to be found in the churches of Naples; for instance, the two altar-pieces in that of S. Teresa, which have all the air of Guido, especially that which represents the Nativity of the Saviour.

[131] Born 1657; died 1748.

[132] Il Calabrese ringentilito.

[133] Mengs.



The conquests, commerce and possessions of Venice in the Levant, and thence its uninterrupted intercourse with the Greeks, give probability to the conjecture, that Venetian art drew its origin from the same source, and that the first institution of a company, or, as it is there called, a School (Schola) of Painters, may be dated up to the Greek artists who took refuge at Venice from the fury of the Iconoclasts at Constantinople. The choice of its Patron, which was not St. Luke, but Sta. Sophia, the patroness of the first temple at that time, and prototype of St. Mark's, distinguishes it from the rest of the Italian Schools. Anchona, the vulgar name of a picture in the technic language, the statutes,[335][134] and documents of those times, is evidently a depravation of the Greek Eikon. The school itself is of considerable antiquity; its archives contain regulations and laws made in 1290, which refer to anterior ones; and though not yet separated from the mass of artisans, its members began to enjoy privileges of their own.

In various cities of the Venetian State we meet with vestiges of art anterior in date[135] to the relics of painting and mosaic in the metropolis, which prove that it survived the general wreck of society here, as in other parts of Italy. Of the oldest Venetian monuments, Zanetti has[336] given a detailed account, with shrewd critical conjectures on their chronology; though all attempts to discriminate the nearly imperceptible progress of art in a mass of works equally marked by dull servility, must prove little better than nugatory; for it does not appear that Theophilus of Byzantium, who publicly taught the art at Venice about 1200, or his Scholar Gelasio[136], had availed themselves of the improvements made in form, twenty years before, by Joachim the Abbot, in a picture of Christ. Nor can the notice of Vasari, who informs us that Andrea Tafi repaired to Venice to profit by the instructions of Apollonios in mosaic, prove more than that, from the rivalship of Greek mechanics, that branch of art was handled with greater dexterity there than at Florence, to which place he was, on his return, accompanied by Apollonios. The same torpor of mind continued to characterise the succeeding artists till the first years of the fourteenth century, and the appearance of Giotto, who, on his return from Avignon 1316, by his labours at Padua,[337] Verona, and elsewhere in the state, threw the first effectual seeds of art, and gave the first impulse to Venetian energy and emulation[137] by superior example.

He was succeeded by Giusto, surnamed of Padova, from residence and city rights, but else a Florentine and of the Menabuoi. To Padovano, Vasari ascribes the vast work of the church of St. John the Baptist; incidents of whose life were expressed on the altar-piece. The walls Giusto spread with gospel history and mysteries of the Apocalypse, and on the Cupola a glory filled with a consistory of saints in various attire: simple ideas, but executed with incredible felicity and diligence. The names 'Joannes & Antonius de Padova,' formerly placed over one of the doors, as an ancient MS. pretends, related probably to some companions of Giusto, fellow pupils of Giotto,[338] and show the unmixed prevalence of his style, to which Florence itself had not adhered with more scrupulous submission, beyond the middle of the century, and the less bigoted imitation of Guarsiento, a Padovan of great name at that period, and the leader of Ridolfi's history. He received commissions of importance from the Venetian senate, and the remains of his labours in fresco and on panel at Bassano and at the Eremitani of Padova, confirm the judgment of Zanetti, that he had invention, spirit, and taste, and without those remnants of Greek barbarity which that critic pretends to discover in his style.

Of a style still less dependant on the principles of Giotto, are the relicks of those artists whom Lanzi is willing to consider as the precursors of the legitimate Venetian schools, and whose origin he dates in the professors of miniature and missal-painting, many contemporary, many anterior to Giotto. The most conspicuous is Niccolo Semitecolo, undoubtedly a Venetian, if the inscription on a picture on panel in the Capitular Library at Padova be genuine, viz., Nicoleto Semitecolo da Venezia, 1367. It represents a Pietà, with some stories of S. Sebastian,[339] in no contemptible style: the nudities are well painted, the proportions, though somewhat too long, are not inelegant, and what adds most to its value as a monument of national style, it bears no resemblance to that of Giotto, which, though it be inferior in design, it equals in colour. Indeed the silence of Baldinucci, who annexes no Venetian branch to his Tuscan pedigree of Art, gives probability to the presumption, that a native school existed in the Adriatic long before Cimabue.

A fuller display of this native style, and its gradual approaches to the epoch of Giorgione and Tizian, were reserved for the fifteenth century: an island prepared what was to receive its finish at Venice. Andrea da Murano, who flourished about 1400, though still dry, formal, and vulgar, designs with considerable correctness, even the extremities, and what is more, makes his figures stand and act. There is still of him at Murano in S. Pier Martire, a picture, on the usual gold ground of the times, representing, among others, a Saint Sebastian, with a Torso, whose beauty made Zanetti suspect that it had been copied from some antique statue. It was he who formed to art the family[340] of the Vivarini, his fellow-citizens, who in uninterrupted succession maintained the school of Murano for nearly a century, and filled Venice with their performances.

Of Luigi, the reputed founder of the family, no authentic notices remain. The only picture ascribed to him, in S. Giovanni and Paolo, has, with the inscription of his name and the date 1414, been retouched.[138] Nor does much more evidence attend the names of Giovanni and Antonio de' Vivarini, the first of which belonged probably to a German, the partner of Antonio,[139] who is not heard of after 1447, whilst Antonio,[341] singly or in society with his brother Bartolommeo Vivarini, left works inscribed with his name as far as 1451.

Bartolommeo, probably considerably younger than Antonio, was trained to art in the principles before mentioned, till he made himself master of the new-discovered method of oil-painting, and towards the time of the two Bellini became an artist of considerable note. His first picture in oil bears the date of 1473; his last, at S. Giovanni in Bragora, on the authority of Boschini, that of 1498; it represents Christ risen from the grave, and is a picture comparable to the best productions of its time. He sometimes added A Linnel Vivarino to his name and date, allusive to his surname.

With him flourished Luigi, the last of the Vivarini, but the first in art. His relics still exist at Venice, Belluno, Trevigi, with their dates; the principal of these is in the school of St. Girolamo at Venice, where, in competition with Giovanni Bellini, whom he equals, and with Vittore Carpaccia, whom he surpasses, he represented the Saint caressing a Lion, and some monks who fly in terror at the sight. Composition, expression, colour, for felicity, energy,[342] and mellowness, if not above every work of the times, surpass all else produced by the family of the Vivarini.

At the beginning of the century, Gentile da Fabriano, styled Magister Magistrorum, and mentioned in the Roman School, painted, in the public palace at Venice, a naval battle, now vanished, but then so highly valued that it procured him an annual provision, and the privilege of the Patrician dress. He raised disciples in the state: Jacopo Nerito, of Padova, subscribes himself a disciple of Gentile, in a picture at S. Michele of that place, and from the style of another in S. Bernardino, at Bassano, Lanzi surmises that Nasocchio di Bassano was his pupil or imitator. But what gives him most importance, is the origin of the great Venetian School under his auspices, and that Jacopo Bellini, the father of Gentile and Giovanni, owned him for his master. Jacopo is indeed more known by the dignity of his son's than his own works, at present either destroyed, in ruins, or unknown. What he painted in the church of St. Giovanni at Venice, and, about 1456, at the Santo of Padova, the chapel of the family Gattamelata,[343] are works that exist in history only. One single picture, subscribed by his name, Lanzi mentions to have seen in a private collection, resembling the style of Squarcione, whom he seems to have followed in his maturer years.

A name then still more conspicuous, though now nearly obliterated, is that of Jacopo, or as he is styled Jacobello, or as he wrote himself, Jacometto del Fiore, whose father Francesco del Fiore, a leader of art in his day, was honoured with a monument and an epitaph in Latin verse at S. Giovanni and Paolo: of him it is doubtful whether any traces remain, but of the son, who greatly surpassed him, several performances still exist, from 1401 to 1436. Vasari has wantonly taxed him with having suspended all his figures, in the Greek manner, on the points of their feet: the truth is, that he was equalled by few of his contemporaries, for few like him dared to represent figures as large as life, and fewer understood to give them beauty, dignity, and that air of agility and ease, which his forms possess; nor would the lions in his picture of Justice at the Magistrato del Proprio,[344] have shared the first praise, had not the principal figures, in subservience to the time, been loaded with tinsel ornament and golden glitter.

Two scholars of his are mentioned: Donato, superior to him in style, and Carlo Crivelli, of obscure fame, but deserving attention for the colour, union, grace, and expression, of the small histories in which he delighted.

The ardour of the capital for the art was emulated by every town of the state; all had their painters, but all did not submit to the principles of Venice and Murano. At Verona the obscure names of Aldighieri and Stefano Dazevio, were succeeded[140] by the vaunted one of Vittore Pisanello, of S. Vito: though accounts grossly vary on the date in which he[345] flourished, and the school from which he sprang, that his education was Florentine is not improbable, but whoever his master, fame has ranked him with Masaccio as an improver of style. His works at Rome and Venice, in decay at the time of Vasari, are now no more; and fragments only remain of what he did at Verona. S. Eustachio caressing a Dog, and S. Giorgio sheathing his Sword and mounting his horse, figures extolled to the skies by Vasari, are, with the places which they occupied, destroyed: works which seem to have contained elements of truth and dignity in expression with novelty of invention, and of contrast, style, and foreshortening in design: a loss so much the more to be lamented, as the remains of his less considerable works at S. Firmo and Perugia, far from sanctioning the opinion which tradition has taught us to entertain of Pisano, are finished indeed with the minuteness of miniature, but are crude in colour, and drawn in lank and emaciated proportions. It appears from his works, that he understood the formation, had studied the expression, and attempted the most picturesque attitudes of animals. His name is well known to[346] antiquaries, and to the curious in coins, as a medallist, and he has been celebrated as such by many eminent pens of his own and the subsequent century.[141]

From the crowd[142] of obscure contemporary artists, which the neighbouring Vicenza produced, the name of Marcello, or as Ridolfi calls him Gio. Battista Figolino, deserves to be distinguished: a man of original manner, whose companion, in variety of character, intelligence of keeping, landscape, perspective, ornament, and exquisite finish, will not easily be discovered at Venice, or elsewhere in the State, at that period; and were it certain that he was anterior to the two Bellini, sufficiently eminent to claim the honours of an epoch in the history[347] of Art: in proof of which Vicenza may still produce his Epiphany in the church of St. Bartolommeo.

But the man who had the most extensive influence on Art, if not as the first artist, as the first and most frequented teacher, was Francesco Squarcione,[143] of Padova; in whose numerous school perhaps originated that eclectic principle which characterised part of the Adriatic and all the Lombard schools. Opulent and curious, he not only designed what ancient art offered in Italy, but passed over to Greece, visited many an isle of the Archipelago in quest of monuments, and on his return to Padova formed, from what he had collected, by copy or by purchase, of statues, basso-relievos, torsos, fragments, and cinerary urns, the most ample museum of the time, and a school in which he counted upwards of 150 students, and among them Andrea Mantegna, Marco Zoppo, Girolamo Schiavone, Jacopo Bellini.

Of Squarcione, more useful by precept than by example, little remains, and of that little,[348] perhaps, not all his own. From the variety of manner observable in what is attributed to him, it may be suspected that he too often divided his commissions among his scholars; such as some stories of St. Francis, in a cloister of his church, and the miniatures of the Antifonario in the temple della Misericordia, attributed by the vulgar to Mantegna. Only one indisputably genuine, though retouched work of his, is mentioned by Lanzi; which, in various compartments, represents different saints, subscribed 'Francesco Squarcione,' and conspicuous for felicity of colour, expression, and perspective.

These outlines of the infancy of Venetian art show it little different from that of the other schools hitherto described; slowly emerging from barbarity, and still too much busied with the elements to think of elegance and ornament. Even then, indeed, canvass instead of panels was used by the Venetian painters; but their general vehicle was, a tempera, prepared water-colour: a method approaching the breadth of fresco, and friendly to the preservation of tints, which even now retain their virgin purity; but unfriendly to union and mellowness.[349] It was reserved for the real epoch of oil-painting to develope the Venetian character, display its varieties, and to establish its peculiar prerogative.

Tiziano, the son of Gregorio Vecelli, was born at Piave, the principal of Cadore on the Alpine verge of Friuli, 1477.[144] His education is said to have been learned, and Giov. Battista Egnazio is named as his master in Latin and Greek;[145] but his proficiency may be doubted, for if it be true that his irresistible bent to the art obliged the father to send him in his tenth year to the school of Giov. Bellini at Venice, he could be little more than an infant when he learnt the rudiments under Sebastiano Zuccati.[146]

At such an age, and under these masters, he acquired a power of copying the visible detail of the objects before him with that correctness of eye and fidelity of touch which distinguishes[350] his imitation at every period of his art. Thus when, more adult, in emulation of Albert Durer, he painted at Ferrara[147] Christ to whom a Pharisee shows the tribute money, he out-stript in subtlety of touch even that hero of minuteness: the hair of the heads and hands may be counted, the pores of the skin discriminated, and the surrounding objects seen reflected in the pupils of the eyes; yet the effect of the whole is not impaired by this extreme finish: it increases it at a distance, which effaces the fac-similisms of Albert, and assists the beauties of imitation with which that work abounds to a degree seldom attained, and never excelled by the master himself, who has left it indeed as a single monument, for it has no companion, to attest his power of combining the extremes of finish and effect.



"It might almost be said that vice is the virtue of the Venetian school, because it rests its[351] prerogative on despatch in execution, and therefore is proud of Tintoretto, who had no other merit."[148] Such, in speaking of the great genius before us, is the equally rash, ignorant, unphilosophic verdict of a man exclusively dubbed "The Philosophic Painter."

G. Robusti of Venice was the son of a dyer, who left him that byname as an heir-loom.[149] He entered the school of Tiziano when yet a boy; but he, soon discovering in the daring spirit of his nursling the symptoms of a genius which threatened future rivalship to his own powers, with that suspicious meanness which marks his character as an artist, after a short interval, ordered his head pupil, Girolamo Dante, to dismiss the boy; but as envy generally defeats its own designs, the uncourteous[352] dismissal, instead of dispiriting, roused the energies of the heroic stripling, who, after some meditation on his future course, and comparing his master's superiority in colour with his defects in form, resolved to surpass him by an union of both: the method best suited to accomplish this he fancied to find in an intense study of Michael Angelo's style, and boldly announced his plan by writing on the door of his study, THE DESIGN OF M. ANGELO, AND THE COLOUR OF TIZIAN.

But neither form nor colour alone could satisfy his eye; the uninterrupted habit of nocturnal study discovered to him what Venice had not yet seen, not even in Giorgione, if we may form an opinion from what remains of him—the powers of that ideal chiaroscuro which gave motion to action, raised the charms of light, and balanced or invigorated effect by dark and lucid masses opposed to each other.

The first essays of this complicated system, in single figures, are probably the frescoes of the palace Gussoni;[150] and in numerous composition,[353] the Last Judgement, and its counterpart, the Adoration of the Golden Calf, in the church of Sta. Maria dell' Orfo.

It is evident that the spirit of Michael Angelo domineered over the fancy of Tintoretto in the arrangement of the Last Judgement, though not over its design; but grant some indulgence to that, and the storm in which the whole fluctuates, the awful division of light and darkness into enormous masses, the living motion of the agents, notwithstanding their frequent aberrations from their centre of gravity,[151] and the harmony that rules the whirlwind of that tremendous moment, must for ever place it among the most astonishing productions of art. Its sublimity as a whole triumphs even over the hypercriticisms of Vasari, who thus describes it:—"Tintoretto has painted[354] the Last Judgement with an extravagant invention, which, indeed, has something awful and terrible, inasmuch as he has united in groups a multitudinous assemblage of figures of each sex and every age, interspersed with distant views of the blessed and condemned souls. You see likewise the boat of Charon, but in a manner as novel and uncommon as highly interesting. Had this fantastic conception been executed with a correct and regular design, had the painter estimated its individual parts with the attention which he bestowed on the whole, so expressive of the confusion and the tumult of that day, it would be the most admirable of pictures. Hence he who casts his eye only on the whole, remains astonished, whilst to him who examines the parts it appears to have been painted in jest."

In the Adoration of the Golden Calf, the counterpart in size of the Last Judgement, Tintoretto has given full reins to his invention; and here, as in the former, though their scanty width does not very amicably correspond with their height, which is fifty feet, he has filled the whole so dexterously that the dimension[355] appears to be the result of the composition. Here too, as in the Transfiguration of Raffaelle, some short-sighted sophist may pretend to discover two separate subjects and a double action; for Moses receives the tables of the decalogue in the upper part, whilst the idolatrous ceremony occupies the lower; but the unity of the subject may be proved by the same argument which defended and justified the choice of Sanzio. Both actions are not only the offspring of the same moment, but so essentially relate to each other that, by omitting either, neither could with sufficient evidence have told the story. Who can pretend to assert, that the artist who has found the secret of representing together two inseparable moments of an event divided only by place, has impaired the unity of the subject?

Nowhere, however, does the genius of Tintoretto flash more irresistibly than in the Schools of S. Marco and S. Rocco, where the greater part of the former and almost the whole of the latter are his work, and exhibit in numerous specimens, and on the largest scale, every excellence and every fault that exalts or debases his pencil: equal sublimity and extravagance of conception;[356] purity of style and ruthless manner; bravura of hand with mental dereliction; celestial or palpitating hues tacked to clayey, raw, or frigid masses; a despotism of chiaroscuro which sometimes exalts, sometimes eclipses, often absorbs subject and actors. Such is the catalogue of beauties and defects which characterize the Slave delivered by St. Marc; the Body of the Saint landed; the Visitation of the Virgin; the Massacre of the Innocents; Christ tempted in the Desert; the Miraculous Feeding of the Crowd; the Resurrection of the Saviour; and though last, first, that prodigy which in itself sums up the whole of Tintoretto, and by its anomaly equals or surpasses the most legitimate offsprings of art, the Crucifixion.[152]


It is singular that the most finished and best preserved work of Tintoretto should be one which he had least time allowed him to terminate—the Apotheosis of S. Rocco in the principal ceiling-piece of the Schola, conceived, executed, and presented, instead of the sketch which he had been commissioned with the rest of the concurrent artists to produce for the examination of the fraternity: a work which equally strikes by loftiness of conception, a style of design as correct as bold, and a suavity of colour which entrances the eye. Though constructed on the principles of that sotto in su, then ruling the platfonds and cupolas of upper Italy, unknown to or rejected by M. Angelo, its figures recede more gradually, yet with more evidence, than the groups of Correggio, whose ostentatious foreshortenings generally sacrifice the actor to his posture.

That Tintoretto acquired, during his stay with or after his dismissal from the study of Tiziano's principles, the power of representing the surface and the texture of bodily substance with a truth[358] bordering on illusion, is proved with more irresistible because more copious evidence, in the picture of the Angelic Salutation; though it cannot be denied that the admiration due to the magic touch of the paraphernalia is extorted at the expense of the essential parts: Gabriel and Maria are little more than foils of her husband's tools; for their display, the artist's caprice has turned the solemn approach of the awful messenger into boisterous irruption, the silent recess of the mysterious mother into a public dismantled shed, and herself into a vulgar female. Nowhere would the superiority of refined over vulgar art, of taste and judgment over unbridled fancy, have appeared more irresistibly than in the sopraporta by Tiziano on the same subject and in the same place, had that exquisite master been inspired more by the sanctity of the subject than the lures of courtly or the ostentatious bigotry of monastic devotion. If Maria was to be rescued from the brutal hand that had travestied her to the mate of a common labourer, it was not to be transformed to a young abbess, elegantly devout, submitting to canonization, amongst her delicate lambs; if the angel was not to[359] rush through a shattered casement on a timid female with a whirlwind's blast, the waving grace and calm dignity of his gesture and attitude, ought to have been above the assistance of theatrical ornament; nor should Palladio have been consulted to construct classic avenues for the humble abode of pious meditation. It must however be owned that we become reconciled to this mass of factitious embellishments by a tone which seems to have been inspired by Piety itself; the message whispers in a celestial atmosphere,

Θειη ἀμφεχυτ' ὀμφη

and so forcibly appears its magic effect to have influenced Tintoretto himself, ever ready to rush from one extreme to another, that he imitated it in the Annunciata of the Arimani Palace:[153] not without success, but far below the mannerless unambitious purity of tone that pervades the effusion of his master, and of which he himself gave a blazing proof in the Resurrection of the Saviour,—a work in which sublimity of conception, beauty and[360] dignity of form, velocity and propriety of motion, irresistible flash, mellowness and freshness of colour, tones inspired by the subject, and magic chiaroscuro, less for "mastery strive," than relieve each other and entrance the absorbed eye.


[134] Thus in an order of the Justiziarii we read: "Mcccxxii. Indicion Sexta die primo de Octub. Ordenado e fermado fo per Misier Piero Veniero & per Miser Marco da Mugla Justixieri Vieri, lo terzo compagno vacante. Ordenado fo che da mo in avanti alguna persona si venedega come forestiera non osa vender in Venexia alcuna Anchona impenta, salvo li empentori, sotto pena, &c. Salvo da la sensa, che alora sia licito a zaschun de vinder anchone infin chel durerà la festa," &c. And a picture in the church of S. Donato at Murano, has the following inscription: "Corendo Mcccx. indicion viii. in tempo de lo nobele homo Miser Donato Memo honorando Podestà facta fo questa Anchona de Miser S. Donato."

[135] In the church at Cassello di Sesto, which has an abbey founded in 762, there are pictures of the ninth century.

[136] Gelasio di Nicolo della Masuada di S. Giorgio, was of Ferrara, and flourished about 1242. Vid. Historia almi Ferrariensis Gymnasii, Ferraria, 1735.

[137] At that time he painted in the palace of Cari della Scala at Verona, and at Padoua a chapel in the church 'del Sarto;' he repeated his visit in the latter years of his life to both places. Of what he did at Verona no traces remain, but at Padoua the compartments of Gospel histories round the Oratorio of the Nunziata all' Arena, by the freshness of the fresco and that blended grace and grandeur peculiar to Giotto, still surprise.

[138] Fiorillo has confounded this questionable name with the real one of Luigi, who painted about 1490.—See Fiorillo Geschichte, ii. p. 11.

[139] In S. Giorgio Maggiore is a St. Stephen and Sebastian, with the inscription:

Johannes de Alemania
 et Antonius de Muriano.

from which, another picture at Padova, inscribed "Antonio de Muran e Zohan Alamanus pinxit," and some traces of foreign style where his name occurs, Lanzi suspects that the inscription in S. Pantaleone, "Zuane, e Antonio da Muran, pense 1444," on which the existence of Giovanni is founded, means no other than the German partner of Antonio.

[140] In no instance seems Vasari to have given a more decisive proof of his attachment to the Florentine school, than by building the fame of Pisano on having been the pupil of Andrea del Castagno, and having been allowed to terminate the works which he had left unfinished behind him about 1480; an anachronism the more absurd as the Commendator del Pozzo was possessed of a picture by Pisano, inscribed 'Opera di Vittor Pisanello de San V. Veronese, mccccvi.' a period at which probably Castagno was not born. The truth is, that Vasari, whose rage for dispatch and credulity kept pace with each other, composed the first part of Pisano's life nearly without materials, and the second from hearsay.

[141] What Vasari says of the dog of S. Eustachio and the horse of St. Giorgio, though on the authority of Frà Marco de' Medici, warrants the assertion; and still more the foreshortened horse on the reverse of a medal struck in 1419, in honour and with the head of John Palæologus. The horse, like that of M. Antoninus, has an attitude of parallel motion. The medal has been published by Ducange in the appendix to his Latin Glossary, by Padre Banduri, Gori and Maffei.

[142] See their lists in Descrizione delle Architetture, Pitture e Sculture di Vicenza con alcune osservazioni, &c. Vicenza, 1779, 8vo. p. I. II.

[143] Ridolfi, i. 68. Vasari, who treats his art with contempt, calls him Jacopo; and Orlandi, afraid of choosing between them, used both, and made two different artists.

[144] Vasari dates his birth 1480.

[145] Liruti, Notizie de' Letterati del Friuli, t. ii. p. 285.

[146] Sebastiano Zuccati of Trevigo, flourished about 1490. He had two sons, Valerio and Francesco, celebrated for mosaic about and beyond the middle of the sixteenth century. Flaminio Zuccati, the son of Valerio, who inherited his father's talent and fame, flourished about 1585. See Zanetti.

[147] See Ridolfi. The original went to Dresden; but Italy abounds in copies of it. Lanzi mentions one which he saw at S. Saverio in Rimini, with Tiziano's name written on the fillet of the Pharisee, a performance of great beauty, and by many considered less a copy than a duplicate. The most celebrated copy, that of Flaminio Torre, is preserved at Dresden with the original.

[148] "Si può quasi dire, che il vizio sia la virtù della Scuola Veneziana, poichè fa pompa della sollecitudine nel dipingere; e perciò fa stima di Tintoretto, che non avea altro merito." Mengs, Opere, t. i. p. 175. ed. Parm.

[149] It has supplanted, was probably perpetuated in allusion to his rapidity of execution, and remains familiar to ears that never heard of Robusti.

[150] See Varie Pitture a fresco de' principali Maestri Veneziani, &c. Venez. fol. 1760. Tab. 8, 9, p. viii. No one who has seen the original figures of the Aurora and Creposcolo in S. Lorenzo, can mistake their imitation, or rather transcripts, in these.

[151] The frequent want of equilibration found in Tintoretto's figures, even where no violence of action can palliate or account for it, has not without probability been ascribed to his method of studying foreshortening from models loosely suspended and playing in the air; to which he at last became so used that he sometimes employed it even for figures resting on firm ground, and fondly sacrificed solidity and firmness to the affected graces of undulation.

[152] It would be mere waste of time to recapitulate what has been said on the efficient beauties of this astonishing work in the lectures on colour and chiaroscuro, and in the article of Tintoretto, in the last edition of Pilkington's Dictionary. It has been engraved on a large scale by Agostino Carracci, if that can be called engraving which contents itself with the mere enumeration of the parts, totally neglecting the medium of that tremendous twilight which hovers over the whole and transposes us to Golgotha. If what Ridolfi says be true, that Tintoretto embraced the engraver when he presented the drawing to him, he must have had still more deplorable moments of dereliction as a man than as an Artist, or the drawing of Agostino, must have differed totally from the print.

[153] It is engraved by Pietro Monaco, as that of Tiziano, by Le Fevre, but in a manner which makes us lament the lot of those who have no means to see the original.



Mantoua,[154] the birth-place of Virgil, a name dear to poetry, by the adoption of Andrea Mantegna and Giulio Pippi claims a distinguished place in the history of Art, for restoring and disseminating style among the schools of Lombardy.

Mantoua, desolated by Attila, conquered by Alboin, wrested from the Longobards by the[362] Exarch of Ravenna, was taken and fortified by Charles the Great: from Bonifazio of Canossa it descended to Mathilda; after her demise, 1115, became a republic tyrannized by Bonacorsi, till the people conferred the supremacy on Lodovico Gonzaga, under whose successors it rose from a marquisate, 1433, to a dukedom, 1531, and finished as an appendage to the spoils of Austria.

Revolutions so uninterrupted, aggravated by accidental devastations of floods and fire, may account for the want of earlier monuments of art in Mantoua and its districts, than the remains from the epoch of Mathilda.[155] A want perhaps more to be regretted by the antiquary[363] than the historian of art, whose real epoch begins with the patronage of Lodovico Gonzaga and the appearance of Andrea Mantegna.[156]

This native of Padova[157] was the adopted son and pupil of Squarcione, in whose school he acquired that taste for the antique which marks his works at every period of his practice; if sometimes mitigated, never supplanted by the blandishments of colour and the precepts of Giovanni Bellino, whose daughter he had married.

Perhaps no question has been discussed with greater anxiety, and dismissed from investigation[364] with less success, than that of Correggio's origin, circumstances, methods of study, and death.

The date of his birth is uncertain, some place it in 1475, others in 1490; were we to follow a MS. gloss in the Library at Gottingen, mentioned by Fiorillo, which says he died at the age of forty in 1512, he must have been born in 1472; but the true date is, no doubt, that of the inscription set him at Correggio, viz. that he died in 1534, aged forty. The honour of his birth-place is allowed to Correggio, though not without dispute.[158] His father's name was Pellegrino Allegri, according to Orlandi, countenanced by Mengs. He was instructed in the elements of literature, philosophy, and mathematics; however doubtful this, there can be no doubt entertained on the very early period in which he must have applied to Painting. The brevity of his life, and the surprising number of his works, evince that he could not devote much time to literature, and, of mathematics, probably contented himself with what related to perspective and architecture. On the authority of Vedriani and of Scannelli,[365] Mengs and his follower Ratti make Correggio in Modena the pupil of Franc. Bianchi Ferrari, and in Mantoua of Andr. Mantegna, without vouchers of sufficient authenticity for either: the passage quoted by Vedriani from the chronicle of Lancillotto, an historian contemporary with Correggio, is an interpolation; and Mantegna, who died in 1505, could not have been the master of a boy who at that time was scarcely in his twelfth year.

Some supposed pictures of Correggio at Mantoua, in the manner of Mantegna, may have given rise to this opinion. An imitation of that style is visible in some whose originality has never been disputed: such as in the St. Cecilia of the Palace Borghese, and a piece in his first manner of the Gallery at Dresden.

Father Maurizio Zapata, a friar of Casino, in a MS. quoted by Tiraboschi, affirms that the two uncles of Parmegianino, Michele and Pier Stario Mazzuoli, were the masters of Correggio,—a supposition without foundation; it is more probable, though not certain, that he gained the first elements from Lorenzo Allegri his uncle, and not, as the vulgar opinion states, his grandfather.


Equal doubts prevail on his skill and power of execution in architecture and plastic: the common opinion is, that for this he was beholden to Antonio Begarelli. Scannelli, Resta, and Vedriani, pretend that Correggio, terrified by the enormous mass and variety of figures to be seen foreshortened from below in the cupola of the Domo at Parma, had the whole modelled by Begarelli, and thus escaped from the difficulty, correct, and with applause. They likewise tell in Parma, that by occasion of some solemn funeral, many of those models were found on the cornices of the cupola, and considered as the works of Begarelli: hence they pretend that Correggio was his regular pupil, and as such finished those three statues which a tradition as vague as silly has placed to his account in Begarelli's celebrated composition of the Deposition from the Cross in the church of St. Margareta.

That either Correggio himself or Begarelli made models for the cupola admits no doubt, the necessity of such a process is evident from the nature and the perfection of the work; but there is surely none to conclude from it to that of a formal apprenticeship in sculpture. He who had arrived at the power of painting the[367] cupola at Parma, may without rashness be supposed to have possessed that of making for his own use small models of clay, without the instructions of a master, especially in an age when painting, sculpture, and architecture frequently met in the same artist; and, as we have elsewhere[159] observed, when sketching in clay was a practice familiar to those of Lombardy.

Correggio's pretended journey to Rome is another point in dispute: two writers of his century, Ortensio Landi and Vasari, reject it. The first says[160] Correggio died young without having been able to visit Rome; the second affirms that Antonio had a genius which wanted nothing but acquaintance with Rome to perform miracles. Padre Resta, a great collector of Correggio's works, was the first who opposed their authority.[161] He pretends, in some writing of his own, to have adduced twelve proofs of Correggio's having twice visited Rome, viz. in 1520 and 1530. But the allegations of a crafty monk, a dealer in drawings and pictures, cannot weigh against authorities like those of Vasari and Landi. His conjectures rest partly on some supposed drawings of Correggio's[368] in his possession, from the Loggie of the Vatican, and partly on an imaginary journey, in which, he tells us, Correggio traversed Italy incognito, and made everywhere copies, which all had the good luck to fall into his own reverend hands. These lures, held out to ensnare the ignorant and wealthy, he palliated by a pretended plan of raising a monument to the memory of the immortal artist at Correggio, the expenses of which were to be defrayed by the produce of his stock in hand. He had even face enough to solicit from that town an attestation that their citizen had travelled as a journeyman painter.

Mengs, and of course Batti, embrace the same opinion. Mengs draws his conclusion from the difference between Correggio's first and second style, which he considers less as the imperceptible progress of art than as the immediate effect of the works of Raphael and Michel Agnolo. Mengs was probably seduced to believe in this visionary journey on the authority of Winkelmann, who pretended to have discovered, in the museum of Cardinal Albani, some designs after the antique by Mantegna, Correggio's reputed master. Bracci, in opposition,[369] assert that Allegri was beholden to none but himself for his acquirements, and appeals to a letter of Annibale Carracci, who says that Correggio found in himself those materials for which the rest were obliged to extraneous help. The words of Carracci, however, with all due homage to the genius of Correggio and the originality of his style, appear to refer rather to invention and the poetic, than to the executive part of his works.

If there be any solidity in the observation of Mengs on Correggio's first manner, as a mixture of Pietro Perugino's and Lionardo's style, and of course not very different from Raphael's, how comes it that in the works of his second and best manner all resemblance to either, and consequently to Raphael, disappears? The simplicity of Raphael's forms is little beholden to that contrast and those foreshortenings which are the element of Correggio's style. Raphael sacrificed all to the subject and expression; Correggio, in an artificial medium, sacrifices all to the air of things and harmony. Raphael speaks to our heart; Correggio insinuates himself into our affections by charming our senses. The essence of Raphael's beauty is dignity of mind;[370] petulant naïveté that of Correggio's. Raphael's grace is founded on propriety; Correggio's on convenience and the harmony of the whole. The light of Raphael is simple daylight; that of Correggio artificial splendour. In short, the history of artists scarcely furnishes characteristics more opposite than what discriminate these two. And though it may appear a paradox to superficial observation, were it necessary to find an object of imitation for Allegri's second and best style, the artificial medium, the breadth of manner and mellowness of transition, with the enormous forms and foreshortenings of Michel Angelo, though adopted by so different a mind, from as different motives, for an end still more different, will be found to be much more congenial with his principles of seeing and executing, than the style of any preceding or coetaneous period.

The authenticity of Correggio's celebrated "Anch' io son Pittore," is less affected by the improbability of his journey to Rome, than by its own legendary weakness: though not at Modena or Parma, for there were no pictures of Raphael in either place during Antonio's life, he might have seen the St. Cecilia at Bologna;[371] and if the story be true, perhaps no large picture of that master that we are acquainted with could furnish him with equal matter of exultation. He was less made to sympathize with the celestial trance of the heroine, the intense meditation of the Apostles, and the sainted grace of the Magdalen, than to be disgusted by a parallelism of the whole which borders on primitive apposition, by the total neglect of what is called picturesque, the absence of chiaroscuro, the unharmonious colour, and dry severity of execution.

The next point is to fix the dates of Correggio's works; the certain, the probable, the conjectural.

The theatre of Correggio's first essays in art is supposed to have been his native place and the palace of its princes; but that palace perished with whatever it might contain. From a document in the parochial archive of Correggio, of 1514, it appears that in the same year he painted an altar-piece for one hundred zechini, a considerable price for a young man of twenty. This picture was in the church of the Minorites, where it remained till 1638, when a copy was unawares put into the place of the[372] original. The citizens alarmed, in vain made representations to Annibale Molza, their governor; it even appears from a letter of his to the Court of Modena, in whose name he governed, that, many years before, two other pieces of Antonio had been removed from the same chapel by order of Don Siro, the last prince of the House of Correggio; those represented a St. John and a St. Bartholomew; the subject of the altar-piece was the Madonna with the child, Joseph and St. Francis.

The fraternity of the Hospital della Misericordia possessed likewise an altar-piece of Antonio. The centre piece represented the Deity of the Father; the two wings, St. John and Bartholomew. According to a contract which still remains in the archives, it was estimated by a painter of Novellara, Jacopo Borboni, at three hundred ducats, bought for Don Siro in 1613, and a copy put in its place. The originals of all these pictures are lost.

The picture with the Madonna and child on a throne, St. John the Baptist, the Sts. Catharina, Francis, and Antony, inscribed "Antonius de Allegris P." now in the gallery of Dresden, was, as Tiraboschi correctly supposes, an altar-piece in the church of St. Nicolas of[373] the Minorites, at Carpi: a copy of it by Aretusi, is at Mantoua. To this period, and perhaps even an earlier one, belongs the St. Cecilia of the Borghese palace. The general style of this picture is dry and hard, and the draperies in Mantegna's taste; but the light which proceeds from a glory of angels, and imperceptibly expands itself over the whole, is a characteristic too decisive to leave any doubt of its originality.

In the gallery of Count Brühl was the Wedding (sposalizio) of St. Catharine, with the following inscription on the back:—"Laus Deo: per Donna Metilde d'Este Antonio Lieto da Correggio fece il presente quadro per sua divozione, anno 1517." This inscription appears, however, suspicious, as at that time there was no princess of that name at the court of Ferrara. At the purchase of the principal pictures in the Modenese gallery by Augustus III. this was presented by the Duke to Count Brühl; from him it went to the Imperial Gallery at Petersburg. A similar one was in the collection of Capo di Monte at Naples, and Mengs considers both as originals. Copies of merit by Gabbiani and Volterrano are in England and Toscana. It is singular[374] that an artist, than whom none had more scholars and copyists, and whose short life was occupied by the most important works, should be supposed to have painted so many duplicates, and that a set of men, as impudent as ignorant, should meet with dupes as credulous as wealthy, eager to purchase their trash at enormous prices, in the face of the few legitimate originals.

In 1519, Antonio went to Parma, and soon after his arrival is said to have painted a room in the Nunnery of St. Paul. The authenticity of this work, placed within the clausure of the convent and consequently inaccessible, has been recently disputed, and the author of a certain dialogue even attempts to prove the whole a fable. To ascertain the fact, a special licence to visit the place was obtained for some painters and architects of note, and on their declaring the paintings one of Correggio's best works, Don Ferdinando de Bourbon, with some of the courtiers and Padre Iveneo Affo, followed to inspect it. What he tells us of monastic constitution in those times accounts for the admission of so profane an ornament in such a place; for in the beginning of the sixteenth century,[375] clausure was yet unknown to nunneries; abbesses were elected for life, their power over the revenue of the convent was uncontrolled, their style of life magnificent, and their political influence not inconsiderable. Such was the situation of nunneries when Donna Giovanna da Piacenza, descended from an eminent family at Parma, the new-elected abbess of St. Paul's, ordered two saloons of her elegant apartments to be decorated with paintings; one by Correggio, and another, as it is conjectured, either by Alessandro Araldi of Parma, or Cristoforo Casella, called Temperello. Padre Affo proves that Correggio must have painted his apartment before 1520, immediately after his arrival at Parma, and four or five years before the introduction of the clausure. Of a work so singular and questionable, it will not appear superfluous to repeat some of the most striking outlines from his account:—"The chimney-piece represents Diana returned from the chase, to whom an infant Amor offers the head of a new-slain stag; the ceiling is vaulted, raised in arches over sixteen lunettes; four on each side of the walls; the paintings are raised about an ell from the floor, and form a series of mythologic[376] and allegoric figures, which breathe the simplicity, the suavity, and the decorum of Art's golden age. Of these the three Graces naked, in three different attitudes, offer a charming study of female beauty, and a striking contrast with the Parcæ placed opposite; the most singular subject is a naked female figure, suspended by a cord from the sky, with her hands tied over her head—her body extended by two golden anvils fastened with chains to her feet, floating in the attitude of which the Homeric Jupiter reminds his Juno.[162] The high-arched roof embowers the whole with luxuriant verdure and fruit, and is divided into sixteen large ovals, overhung with festoons of tendrils, vine-leaves, and grapes, between which appear groups of infant Amorini, above the size of children, gamboling in various picturesque though not immodest attitudes."

Neither the pretended inaccessibility of place, nor the veil thrown by monastic austerity over the profaneness of the subject, can sufficiently account for the silence of tradition, and the obscurity[377] in which this work was suffered to linger for nearly three centuries. Supposing it, on the authorities adduced, to be the legitimate produce of Correggio, and considering its affinity to the ornamental parts of the Loggie in the Vatican, it affords a stronger argument of Allegri's having seen Rome, studied the antique, and imitated Raphael, than any of those that have been adduced by Mengs, who (with his commentator D'Azara,) appears to have been totally uninformed of it, notwithstanding his familiarity at Parma with every work of Correggio, his perseverance of inquiry and eager pursuit of whatever related to his idol, the influence he enjoyed at Court, and unlimited access to every place that might be supposed to contain or hide some work of art.

Soon after his arrival at Parma, Antonio probably received the commission of the celebrated cupola of S. Giovanni, which he completed in 1524, as appears from an acquittance for the last payment subscribed 'Antonio Lieto,' still existing at Parma.

In the cupola he represented the Ascension of the Saviour, with the Apostles, the Madonna, &c. and the Coronation of the Virgin on the[378] tribune of the principal altar, whose enlargement in 1584 occasioned, with the destruction of the choir, that of the painting: a few fragments escaped; an exact copy had, however, been provided before, by Annibale Carracci, from which it was repainted on the same place by Aretusi. The same church preserved two pictures in oil of Correggio, the martyrdom of St. Placidus and Flavia, and Christ taken from the cross on the lap of his mother; both are now (1802) in the collection of the Louvre.

The success of the cupola of S. Giovanni encouraged the inspectors of the Domo to commit the decoration of theirs to the same master. Of their contract with him, the original still remains in the archive of their chapter; it was concluded in 1522, and amounted to about one thousand zecchini, no inconsiderable sum for those times, and alone sufficient to do away the silly tradition of the artist's mendicity. The decorations of the chapel, next to the cupola, were distributed among three of the best Parmesan painters at that time, Parmegianino, Franc. Maria Rondani, and Michael Angelo Anselmi. From all the papers hitherto found, it appears, however, that Correggio did not actually begin to paint the[379] cupola before 1526: it represents the Ascension of the Virgin, and without recurring to an individual verdict, has received the sanction of ages, as the most sublime in its kind, of all that were produced before and after it; a work without a rival, though now dimmed with smoke, and in decay by time. These were the two first cupolas painted entire, all former ones being painted in compartments. Nothing occurs to make us surmise that Correggio had partners of his labour in these two works; for Lattanzio Gambara of Brescia, mentioned by Rossi as his assistant in the Domo, was born eight years after Correggio's death.

During the progress of these two great works, Correggio produced others of inferior size but equal excellence; the principal of which are the two votive pictures of St. Jerome, and La Notte. That of St. Jerome represents the Saint offering his Translation to the Infant Christ, who is seated in his Mother's lap, with St. Magdalen reclining on and kissing his feet, and flanked by Angels. The commission for this picture is said to have been given in 1523, by Donna Briseide Colla, the[380] widow of Orazio or Ottaviano Bergonzi of Parma, who in 1528 gave it as a votive offering to the church of S. Antonio del Fuoco. The price agreed on, was 400 lire; 40,000 ducats were offered for it afterwards by the King of Portugal; and the then Abbot of the convent was on the point of concluding the bargain, when the citizens of Parma, to prevent the loss, applied to the Infante Don Philippo. He ordered it in 1749 to be transposed from S. Antonio to the Domo; there it remained till 1756, when, on the application of a French painter, expelled by the Canons for his attempt to trace it, the Prince had it transferred under an escort of twenty-four grenadiers to Colorno; and from thence to the newly instituted academy, where it remained till 1797, and now, (1802,) with other transported works of Art, glitters among the spoils of the Louvre.

The second picture known by the name of "La Notte," represents the birthnight of the Saviour, and was the commission of Alberto Pratonieri, as appears from a writing dated in 1522, though it was not finished till 1527 according to Mengs, or 1530 as Fiorillo surmised, when it was dedicated in the Chapel[381] Pratonieri of S. Prospero at Reggio: from whence, 1640, it was carried to the gallery of Modena, by order, of Duke Francesco I. and from thence at length to that of Dresden.

A chapel in the church del S. Sepolcro at Parma, possessed formerly the altar-piece known by the name of "La Madonna della Scodella," because the Virgin, represented on her flight to Egypt, holds a wooden bowl in her hand: a figure, whom Mengs fancies the Genius of the Fountain, pours water into it; and in the back ground an angel, whose action and expression he considers as too graceful for the business, ties up the ass. This picture, he tells us, was, thirteen years before the date in which he wrote, nearly swept out of the panel by the barbarous wash of a Spanish journeyman painter who had obtained permission to copy it. It is now in the Louvre, and how much of its present florid colour is legitimate, must be left to the decision of the committee "de la Restoration."

If the most sublime degree of expression be entitled to the right of originality, Mengs must be followed in his decision on the Ecce Homo, formerly in the Palace Colonna, without much[382] anxiety whether it be the same that belonged to the family of Prati at Parma, or that which Agostino Carracci engraved.

The Madonna seated beneath a palm-tree, bending in somnolently pensive contemplation over the Infant on her lap, watched by an Angel above her, and attended by a Leveret, known by the name of "La Zingarella" or the Egyptian, from the sash round her head, formerly in the gallery of Parma, and now at Naples in that of Capo di Monte, has suffered so much from a modern hand, that little of the master remains but the conception. Nearly a duplicate of it was presented by Cardinal Alessandro Albani to king Augustus of Poland; but Mengs hesitates to pronounce it an original.

In the period of these, about 1530, we may probably place the two celebrated pictures of Leda and Danae, than which no modern works of art have suffered more from accident and wanton or bigoted barbarity, or been tossed about by more contradictory tradition.

If the subject that takes its name from Leda be, as Mengs says, rather an allegory than a fable, it alludes to what would aggravate even the story of that mistress of Jupiter. The central[383] figure represents a female seated on the verge of a rivulet with a swan between her thighs, who attempts to insinuate his bill into her lips; but at her side, and deeper in the water, is a tender girl, who with an air of innocence playfully struggles to defend herself from the attacks of another swimming swan; farther on, a girl more grown up to woman, gazes, whilst a female servant dresses her, with an air of satiate pleasure after a swan on the wing, that seems just to have left her; at some distance appears half a figure of an aged woman, draped, and with looks of regret. On the other side of the principal group, the graceful form of a full-grown Amor strikes the lyre, and two Amorini contrive to wind some horn instruments. The scene of all this is a charming grove on the brink of a pellucid lake.

The second picture represents the daughter of Acrisius, but with poetic spirit. The virgin gracefully reclines on her bed; a full-grown Cupid, perhaps a Hymen, lifts with one hand the border of the sheet on her lap that receives the celestial shower, whilst his other presents the mystic drops to her enchanted glance: two[384] Amorini at the foot of the bed try on a touchstone, that, one of the golden drops, this, the point of an arrow, and he, says Mengs, has a vigour of character much superior to the other, plainly to express, that Love proceeds from the arrow, and its ruin from gold; he likewise finds that the head and head-dress of Danae are imitated from those of the Medicean Venus.

Vasari, and after him Mengs with others, tell that in 1530, Federigo Gonzaga, then created Duke of Mantoua, intended to present Charles the Fifth at the ceremonial of his coronation with two pictures worthy of him, and in the choice of artists gave the preference to Correggio. From this, a correct inference is drawn against that pretended obscurity in which Correggio is said to have lingered; for at that time Giulio Romano lived at the Court of Mantoua, and Tizian was in the service of the Emperor. Vasari is silent on the date of the pictures, but he affirms that, at their sight, Giulio Romano declared he had never seen a style of colour approaching theirs. So far all seems correct; but that they were actually presented to Charles, sent to Prague, and after the[385] sacking of that city by Gustavus Adolphus, carried to Stockholm, is unproved or erroneous. If it is not likely that the Emperor, instead of sending them to Madrid, the darling depository of his other works of art, should have sent them into a kind of exile to Prague, it is an error to pretend they were removed from thence by Gustavus Adolphus, who was slain at Lutzen sixteen years before the Swedes sacked that city, 1648. The truth is, that these pictures were not given to the Emperor, but placed in his own gallery by the Duke, where they remained till 1630, when the Imperial General Colalto stormed Mantoua, sacked it, deprived it of its cabinet of treasures, of the celebrated vase since possessed by the House of Brunswick, and transmitted its beautiful collection of pictures to Prague, from whence by the event of war we have mentioned, they became the property of Queen Christina, at whose abdication, when the whole was packing up for Rome, the two pictures in question were discovered in the royal stables, where they had served as window-blinds, mutilated and despised. Whether so unaccountable a neglect be imputable to the Queen's want of taste, as Tessin asserts, or to[386] accident, or, what is most unlikely, to her modesty, cannot now be decided. They were repaired, and at her demise left to Cardinal Azzolini, of whose heirs they were purchased by Don Livio Odescalchi, and by him left to the Duke of Bracciano, were sold to the Regent of France, whose son, from a whim of bigotry, had the picture of the Leda cut to pieces in his own presence, in which state Charles Coypel requested and obtained it for his private study. At his death it was vamped up, repieced, disposed of by auction, and, at a high price, sold to the King of Prussia. What became of the Danae is matter of dispute.[163]

The picture of Io embraced by Jupiter, inbosomed in clouds, by a silent water in which a stag quenches his thirst, was their companion: a work to which the most lavish fame has done no justice, and beyond which no fancy ever soared. The Io shared a still more barbarous fate. Not content with mangling her like the Leda, the bigot prince burnt her head; and, were it not for the beautiful duplicate which fortune preserved in the Gallery of Vienna,[164] we[387] should be reduced to guess at Correggio in the fragments at Sans Souci, and the prints of Surregue and Bartolozzi. The Imperial Gallery possesses, likewise, the Rape of Ganymede, by Correggio, of the same size with the Io; a Mountain Scene; a full-grown Cupid, seen from behind, with his head turned to the spectator, shaping a bow, accompanied by a laughing and a weeping infant, in struggling attitudes, which was likewise sold by the heirs of Don Livio Odescalchi, has equally exercised opinion. Vasari, Tassoni, Du Bois, de St. Gelais, &c. ascribe it to Parmegiano; Mengs and Fiorillo, who judge from the duplicate at Vienna, with greater probability give it to Correggio. The contrast of the attitudes is produced more by naïveté than affectation, the lines have more simplicity than the style of Mazzuola admitted of, and the colour more breadth. The conception of the whole, whether the infants be the symbols of successful and unsuccessful love, or denote the dangers of love, or be simply children, though not beyond the fancy of Parmegiano, has more the air of a Correggiesque conceit. Numberless copies were made after it,[388] some by Parmegiano himself, whose handling may be recognized in the picture at Paris.

We are now arrived at those works of Correggio's which cannot be fixed to a certain period. Such are probably, in the Gallery of Dresden, those known under the names of S. Giorgio and S. Sebastiano, of both of which Mengs gives a circumstantial account. He is, however, mistaken when he imagines the last to have been voted by the City of Modena after a plague: the commission of it was given by the fraternity of St. Sebastian.

The half-length portrait, formerly known at Modena as that of Correggio's Physician, belongs to the same doubtful period. Mengs, though he praises the colour and the impasto of it, is inclined to think it painted about the time of his first Cupola, when he had not yet sufficiently studied detail of forms and variety of tints. The style resembles that of Giorgione, but is less vivid, though of equal pasto, and somewhat more limpid.

The last, though not least celebrated piece of Antonio in this Gallery, is the small Meditating Magdalena: of the pictures mentioned, it is the[389] only one painted on copper, the rest are on panel. It is little more than a palm in height, and not quite a palm and a half long. It was, with other small pictures, stolen out of the Gallery in 1788, but soon recovered. The purchase price, according to Mengs, when the Gallery was disposed of, was 27,000 Roman crowns. It has been copied by Albani, and, if we believe Richardson, by Tizian.

Besides the spoils of Parma, there is now (1802) in the Gallery of the Louvre, from the former collection of Versailles, a picture representing in half-length figures of natural size the Wedding of St. Catherine, with a St. Sebastian, and their Martyrdom in the distance. It does not appear that Mengs ever saw more than some good copy of it, or the prints engraved from it, else his praise would have probably been nearer to astonishment than admiration; and though none would dare to repeat what he ventures to say of the Magdalen's head in the St. Jerome, it might safely be asserted, that perhaps no other picture can boast to have united in the same degree the tints of Tizian, the glow and impasto of Giorgione, and the breadth of Guido,[390] with that bloom of hue and suavity of manner peculiar to Correggio.

This divine performance was presented by Cardinal Barberino to Cardinal Mazarin, with two others painted in water colours on canvass, representing in allegoric figures the heroism of Virtue and the debasement of Vice. The first, in physiognomy and attitudes, abounds in what is commonly called the grace of Correggio; the second in picturesque energy and expression: they are likewise placed among the collections of the Louvre. An unfinished repetition of the first in the House Doria Panfili at Rome, is adduced by Mengs as a proof of Correggio's intelligence in sketching, and the superiority of his principle in the progress of a work.

Of two pictures in the Cabinet at Madrid, the principal is that of Christ praying in the Garden, with an Angel on high pointing to a Cross and a Crown of Thorns on the ground, scarcely discernible. The open but drooping arms of the Saviour express his entire resignation to the will of his Father. The most poetic singularity of this picture is its chiaroscuro: Christ receives his light from Heaven, the Angel from Christ: at a distance on lower ground,[391] and nearly evanescent, are the three Disciples in graceful and picturesque attitudes, and farther off, the approaching host of captors. At first sight, the whole seems to be divided into two masses only of light and darkness, but on inspection, the ambient medium and the more and less of distinctness in the objects as they approach the light or recede from it, is divinely expressed. There is a tale, which even Lomazzo and Scanelli repeat, that Correggio parted with this picture to his apothecary for four scudi, which he owed him; that afterwards it was sold for five hundred crowns to Pirrho Count Visconti, who resold it for seven hundred and fifty gold doubloons, to the Marchese Camarena, Governor of Milan, by whom it was bought in commission for Philip the Fourth. Every day discovers some copy, or, if you choose to believe those who wish to dispose of them, some duplicate or triplicate of this picture. Padre Resta possessed not one, but four, all of which he insisted on being believed in as originals: one on copper, another on wood, which Lelio Orsi was said to have copied on canvass; a third, likewise on panel but somewhat worm-eaten, disposed of to Monsignor[392] Marchetti, and a fourth again on copper. Some of these are probably in England.

The companion of this picture is the Madonna dressing the Infant, with Joseph planing a board in the back-ground; a performance though inferior in style to the former, not less original from the pentimenti still discoverable in the two principal figures.

The Duke of Alba possesses of Correggio, in figures somewhat less than Nature, Mercury teaching Cupid to read in the presence of Venus. Venus has the singular attribute of wings, and of a bow in her left hand; and Mengs persuades himself to discover in her forms a reminiscence of an imitation of the Apollino, formerly in the Villa Medici at Rome. The characteristic excellence of the execution, and an evident pentimento in the arm of the Mercury, leave no doubt of its having a better claim to originality than the duplicates in France and Germany. It formerly made part of the collection of Charles the First, and Sandrart saw it in the Palace of Whitehall, from whence it was purchased by an ancestor of the Duke of Alba.

Not to waste time on conjectural works, we finish this list with a picture formerly in the[393] house Barberini, now supposed to be in England: it is painted on panel, and represents from the narrative of S. Marc, the young man who followed our Saviour at the moment of his captivity, but fled on being laid hold of, and left his garment in the hands of the captors. Mengs describes a duplicate of this picture, painted on canvass, at his time in the hands of an Englishman at Rome, and though, in his opinion, only the study for the other, in the principal parts, especially the figure of the youth, highly finished: his expression, form and attitude, remind the critic so strongly of the same in the eldest son of the Laocoon, that he is persuaded they are an imitation, though in a style more consonant with Correggio's manner.

The cause and circumstances of his death we are not acquainted with, since the idle tale has been discarded which Vasari tells, of his perishing in consequence of having carried home a load of sixty scudi in copper, which he had received in payment at Parma. He who considers what strength would be required to carry sixty crowns in quattrini, will find its confutation in the tale itself; let it be added that the extreme heat which is said to have aggravated[394] the fatigue, and accelerated his death, is, even in Italy, not coincident with the season in which he must have taken the journey,[165] as he died on the fifth of March. The magnificence and number of his commissions; the deference paid to his powers in the face of rival artists, by the very patrons of those men, or societies, that might have saved expense by admitting concurrence; the handsome, though not quite metropolitan prices, which he received, and what Mengs has observed, the expensive goodness of his colours, of his panels, and canvasses—make it not only extremely improbable that he should have lived in the depressed circumstances, to which vulgar tradition has sunk him; but add an air of truth to the opinion of those who thought him, if not opulent, yet nearer allied to affluence than want.

Correggio was a monument without a tomb; but it appears strange that a century and a half should have elapsed before the thought of erecting him one occurred to the Senate and citizens of his native place, and then was suffered[395] to evaporate in ineffectual projects. The boastful intentions of Padre Resta proved equally nugatory: the tombstone set and inscribed by Girolamo Conti still remains a solitary offering to his genius:

D. O. M.
Antonio. Allegri. Civi.
. Il Correggio.
Arte. Picturæ. Habitu. Probitatis.
Monum. Hoc. Posuit.
Hier. Conti. Concivis.
Siccine. Separas. Amara. Mors.
Obiit. Anno. Ætatis. XL. Sal. MDXXXIV.

On such a face as Correggio's, physiognomy might have established principles or drawn some inferences from it, had not a perverse destiny left us as ignorant of it, as of his complexion, stature, character, and habits. Vasari's exertions to obtain a portrait of him were not only unsuccessful, but hopeless; and the profile which is shown in the dome of Parma as his, becomes inadmissible from the very name of the artist to whom it is ascribed.[166] The head which found its way into the third and every following edition of Vasari, has certainly nothing[396] repugnant with the notions we may form of his character, but age. Meditation, simplicity, serenity, compose it. It is said to have been copied from a picture not quite finished, which appears to have the touch of Correggio, and came from Sicily to Naples. He is represented contemplating a design, the original of which, report has placed at Vienna with Prince Esterhazy. The portrait which is at Turin, in the "Vigna della Regina," engraved by Valperga, with the epigraph, in part hid by the frame, but read by Lanzi "Antonius Corrigius f." (i. e. fecit) though by some believed genuine, appears spurious from this very circumstance, the large character of the letters and the space they occupy; a manner of writing often used to indicate the person painted, never the painter. Another portrait, which from Genoua is said to have been carried to England, with the indorsed inscription "Dosso Dossi dipinse questo ritratto di Antonio da Correggio," fronts the Memorie of Ratti. Without examining the authenticity of this inscription, it is sufficient to observe, that Antonio da Correggio is likewise the name of Antonio Bernieri, a celebrated miniature painter, and fellow[397] citizen of Allegri, whose date coincides with that of Dosso, and whom there will be occasion to mention again.

Of Correggio's numerous pretending imitators, Lodovico Carracci appears to be the only one who penetrated his principle. The axiom, that the less the traces appear of the means by which a work has been produced, the more it resembles the operations of Nature, is not an axiom likely to spring from the infancy of art. The even colour, veiled splendour, the solemn twilight; that tone of devotion and cloistered meditation, which Lodovico Carracci spread over his works, could arise only from the contemplation of some preceding style, analogous to his own feelings and its comparison with Nature; and where could that be met with in a degree equal to what he found in the infinite unity and variety of Correggio's effusions? They inspired his frescoes in the cloisters of S. Michele in Bosco: the foreshortenings of the muscular labourers at the hermitage, and of the ponderous demon that mocks their toil; the warlike splendour in the Homage of Totila; the Nocturnal Conflagration of Monte Casino; the wild graces of deranged beauty, and the insidious[398] charms of the sister nymphs in the garden scene, equally proclaim the pupil of Correggio.

His triumph in oil is the altar-piece of St. John preaching in a chapel of the Certosa at Bologna, whose lights seem embrowned by a golden veil, and the shadowy gleam of Valombrosa; though he sometimes indulged in tones austere, pronounced, and hardy: such is the Flagellation of Christ in the same church, whose tremendous depth of flesh-tints contrasts the open wide-expanded sky, and less conveys than dashes its terrors on the astonished sense.


[154] Mantoua preserved a certain attachment to Virgil in the darkest ages; for besides numerous coins stamped with his image, his statue, honoured by annual festivals, remained in the forum, till the brutal fanaticism of Carlo Malatesta condemned it to the river. Vide Ant. Possevini Junioris Gonzaga, lib. v. p. 486. Paul of Florence and Peter Paul Vergerius wrote against Malatesta: the latter under the following title, 'De Diruta Statua Virgilii P.P.V. eloquentissimi Oratoris epistola ex tugurio Blondi sub Apolline.' No date.

[155] Some codices decorated with miniatures and the portrait of that Countess: the most conspicuous of which is that by Donizone, a Benedictine at Canossa, in the diocese of Reggio, but a German by extraction, who lived at the court of Mathilda, and in two books of barbarous verse composed her life and history. It is preserved in the Vatican Library, No. 4922, and was first published by Sebastian Tagnagolio, at Ingolstadt, 1612. 4to.

The original portrait of Mathilda, by an unknown hand, drawn from her monument at Polirone, has been published by J. Bat. Visi in Notizie Storiche della città di Mantoua e dello stato, t. ii. p. 122. She is represented on a horse with a pomegranate in her hand.

[156] In the Convent "alle Grazie," tradition dates the remains of several old pictures from the time of Mantegna. That miniature or rather missal painting had attained a high degree of excellence at that period, is proved by a large folio Bible, in the Estensian Library, decorated with admirable copies of insects, plants, and animals. The contract made between Duca Borso, 1455, and the two artists who painted it, Taddeo de Crivelli and Zuanne de Russi da Mantova, has been preserved by Bettshelli, Lett. Mant. Mantova, 1774. 4to.

[157] Vasari, whom rage of dispatch and eager credulity seldom suffered to wait for authentic information, not content, in spite of his epitaph, to tell us that he was born of low parents in some district of Mantoua, confounds the date of his death with that of the inscription itself.

[158] See Nic. Vleughels, in his notes to Dolci.

[159] Garofalo.

[160] Cataloghi, p. 498.

[161] Indice del Pam. de' Pittori, p. 21.


—"περὶ χερσὶ δὲ δεσμὸν ἴηλα
Χρύσεον, ἄῤῥηκτον
Ilias, xv. 19.

[163] Du Change. Copy of the Leda in the Colonna.

[164] In the palace Godolphin.

[165] In the obituary of the Franciscans at Correggio we read, "A di 5 Marzo 1534 mori Maestro Antonio Allegri Dipintore e fu sepolto a 6 detto in S. Francesco sotto il Portico."

[166] Lattanzio Gambara.



Three epochs divide the history of painting in Bologna and the neighbouring districts. The first is from its restoration to the time of Francesco Raibolini, or Francia; the second reaches from him to the Carracci, when it attained its height, and gradually decayed in the variety of deviations which mark the third.

Bologna, at an early period of the fifth century, appears to have been considered as a nursery of sciences and arts; the foundation of its University is dated up to Petronius, its bishop at that period; afterwards, under the successive invasions of barbarians, when the alternate prey of clerical and secular rapacity, as a powerful republic, or oppressed by civic usurpation, and at last reduced to a Papal province,[400] Bologna never lost its predilection for sciences and arts.

Of the progress made in painting anterior to the time of Cimabue, some monumental relics still remain, though by far the greater part were ignorantly destroyed at the beginning of the last century. Some that escaped the whitewasher's hand are ascribed to an artist who marked his work with the letters P.F. Of these, one which represents a Maria, is preserved in the Church della Baroncella, and was done about 1120. Two others are in the Basilica of S. Stephano.

Baldi, a collector of antique pictures, in a MS. quoted by Malvasia, mentions some of Guido da Bologna, painted in 1178 and 1180, and others executed by Ventura da Bononia in 1197. Of this last something still remains, especially one picture with the date 1217, and the inscription Ventura pinsit: and the name of Urso, or Ursone, a contemporary of Guido da Siena, is found on a picture inscribed Urso f. 1226; and some others ascribed to him have dates of 1242 and 1244. In those times painting, sculpture, architecture, chasing, were frequently exercised by one man. A certain[401] Manno, contemporary with Cimabue, is mentioned as the painter of a Madonna by Baldi, and as the sculptor of Pope Bonifazio VIII. by Ghirardacci who calls him likewise a goldsmith. His dates are from 1260 to 1301. Some remains or rather ruins of these masters are still visible in the palace Malvezzi.

The age of Giotto and Dante gives Art an air of greater certainty. Tradition and monument go hand in hand. Franco of Bologna, with his supposed master Oderigi of Gubbio, are celebrated in the poet's poem of the Purgatory. Franco was called to Rome by Bonifazio VIII. to decorate the books and missals of the Vatican library with miniature; and on his return to Bologna founded a school which numbered among its scholars Vitale, Lorenzo, Simone, and Jacopo d'Avanzi, whose works, especially what remains of the two last, make it probable that Vasari is correct when he asserts that Franco excelled in large as well as in miniature painting. Michael Agnolo and the Carracci are said to have been struck with the fire of conception and the tone of colour in the pictures still preserved of Simone and Jacopo d'Avanzi, at the Madonna di Mezzaratta,[402] and to have advised a careful restoration of the decaying parts. Simone, who loved to paint the crucifix, from the number which he executed obtained the surname of "de' Crocefissi;" and Jacopo, smitten with the love of Maria, was marked by the title "dalle Madonne." He excelled, however, in subjects of a martial kind, if the conflict in the Chapel of S. Jacopo del Santo at Padova, and the Capture of Jugurtha, with the Triumph of Marius, in a saloon at Verona, be his performances: works which excited the wonder of Mantegna. As he sometimes subscribed "Jacobus Pauli," it has been surmised that he was of Venetian extraction, and perhaps the son and assistant of that Paolo who painted the Ancona of S. Marc.

Of the artists who at that period painted in Mezzaratta, Cristoforo, whether of Ferrara, Modena, or Bologna, for he is claimed by all, seems to have shared the highest repute. He had the commission of the principal altar, where he painted on panel the Madonna with the Infant between her knees, and some figures kneeling before her; it still exists, marked with his name Christofano, 1380. A most copious[403] work of his, divided into ten compartments of saints, rudely designed, languid in colour, but of original style, is preserved among the fragments of the house Malvezzi.

Lippo di Dalmatio,—who was supposed to have been a Carmelite, till Bianconi, in Piacenza's edition of Baldinucci, produced proofs of his wife and family,—came from the school of Vitale, and from his predilection for the Mother of Christ acquired, like Jacopo d'Avanzi, the byname of "Lippo dalle Madonne." There goes a tale that he gave instruction to Saint Catherine Vigri, of whom certain miniatures and an Infant Christ on panel still remain. A better union of tints, and some easier arrangement in the folds of his draperies, though with a profusion of gold lace, is all that discriminates him from the crudeness and exility of the ancient style. Such, however, was his felicity in the character of Madonnas, that they captivated Guido Reni,[167] who used to repeat that Lippo, in expressing at once the majesty, the sanctity, and the mildness of the divine mother, must have been assisted by a celestial power. Some of these Madonnas[404] are said to be in oil colours, with dates of 1376, 1405, and 1407. Guido is likewise the guarantee of certain frescoes representing facts of Elia, painted with great spirit by the same master.

After 1409, the last date of Lippo's pictures, the School of Bologna somewhat declined, nor could it be otherwise: no vigorous school ever sprang from the timid precepts of a portrait painter, and Dalmatio possessed more of that than of historic power: this, rather than the supposed imitation of certain images imported from Constantinople, was the cause of that insignificance which consigned, with few exceptions, his school and successors to oblivion. Of Pietro Lianori, Michele di Matteo, Bombologno, Severo and Erçole Bologna, Catherina di Vigri, Giacopo Ripanda, Marco Zoppo, time has left little but the names, and of that little, enough not to regret the loss of what vanished. Let us not, however, be too fastidious to repeat what tradition has persevered to report of some; if Bombologno may be left to the votaries of the crucifix, and Catherina to the rubric that saints her, Michele Lambertini claims the attention of artists for a mellowness[405] of tints which Albano judged superior to the tints of Francia; Giacopo Ripanda for the dangers which he braved in designing the groups of the Trajan pillar;[168] and Marco Zoppo as no despicable competitor of Andrea Mantegna, and the reputed master of Francesco Francia.

Francesco Raibolini, surnamed Francia, born in 1450, may be considered as the head of the Bolognese school, because his works appear to have been framed on that collective principle which became its leading feature in the sequel, and was probably the result of the long theory that preceded his practice, assisted by that readiness in design which distinguished him as a goldsmith, chaser,[169] and die-cutter, professions[406] to which he had been trained up from his infancy, and which he raised to celebrity before he attained complete manhood.

Francia was fortunate in contemporaries; the School of Squarcione had furnished him with style and form; the genius of Lionardo da Vinci, with effect and chiaroscuro; Pietro Vanucchi with arrangement if not composition, and though not beauty, with amenity of aspect; and Bellino with tone, breadth of drapery and colour. Ardour of mind, energy of application and dexterity, supplied the want of early practice, and we find him in the palace of Giov. Bentivoglio on a par with the most expert Frescanti conscribed from Ferrara and Modena, and soon after intrusted with the commission of painting the altar-piece of his chapel at S. Jacopo, a work of great subtlety of execution; though modestly inscribed "Opus Francia Aurificis,"[407] and a pledge of that superior style at which he aimed and in the sequel attained.

If from what has been premised of Bolognese artists anterior to Cimabue, it is evident that the germs of art belong to their own soil, their claim to originality in the progress of style has been and still is matter of dispute between the champions of the Tuscan school and those of their own. The Florentines insist on having taught the Bolognese, what the Bolognese deny to have learnt from the Florentines.[170] As in a dispute of this kind, candour is often sacrificed to the fervour of patriotic vanity, and the obstinacy of local attachment, the real state of the question is better learnt from those monuments of the fourteenth century, which still remain scattered over Romagna or collected and more classically arranged in Bologna itself. Among all these some specimens will be found evidently Greek, others as evidently Giottesque; some in a Venetian style, and not a few in a manner peculiar to Bologna only. These have a body of[408] colour, a taste in perspective, a mode of design in figures, and a choice of forms and hues in draperies, which no other school practised. From all which it appears, that if Giotto during his stay at Bologna raised pupils, and formed imitators, his own school had no influence on, nor dislodged, that aboriginal one which continued to disseminate and to improve the principles imbibed from the antique mosaics and the painters of miniature.


[167] Malvasia.

[168] "Floret item nunc Romæ Jacobus Bononiensis, qui Trajani Columnæ picturas omnes ordine delineavit, magna omnium admiratione, magnoque periculo circum machinis scandendo."—V. Raphaelis Volaterrani Anthropologia, p. 774. A. ed. 1603. fol.

[169] "Unum apud modernos reperio, de quo apud antiquos nulla extat memoria, de incisoribus seu sculptoribus in argento; quæ sculptura Niellum appellatur. Virum cognosco in hoc celeberrimum et summum, nomine Franciscum Bononiensem, aliter Franza, qui adeo in tam parvo orbiculo seu argenti lamina, tot homines, tot animalia, tot montes, arbores, castra ac tot diversa ratione situque posita figurat seu incidit, quod dictu ac visu mirabile apparet."—Camillo Leonardi, Speculo Lapidum, lib. iii. c. 2.

The assertion that Niello was unknown to the ancients, it is unnecessary to refute here. Francia was master of the mint during the usurpation of the Bentivogli, after their expulsion by Giulio the Second, and continued to superintend its issue to the Pontificate of Leo. His coins and medals are said by Vasari to equal those of the Milanese Caradosso; and it is probably for their excellence that he was looked up to as a god (un Dio) at Bologna.

[170] Δύο——ἐνείκεον——
ὁ μὲν εὔχετο, πάντ' ἀποδοῦναι,
Δήμῳ πιφαύσκων· ὁ δ' ἀναίνετο, μηδὲν ἑλέσθαι.

Ilias. Lib. xviii. l. 498.



Dorset Street, Fleet Street.


Obvious typos have been silently corrected.

Idiosyncratic spellings have been left unchanged. This includes inconsistent spellings of proper names, hyphenated words, oe ligatures and capitalisation.

For example: Julio Pipi on p. 118 and Giulio Pippi on p. 361.

Similarly, the spellings "domo" and "duomo" both appear, and have been left unchanged.

There are numerous Greek quotations, in which accents and smooth breathings are used only occasionally, and rough breathings are nearly always marked. Missing accents and breathings have NOT been added.

The following items are worth special note:

1) The phrase "terribil via" on p. 19 should possibly be "terribilis via" or "terribile via", but has been left unchanged.

2) On p. 28 "Goliah" has been amended to "Goliath", but the spelling "Goliah" also appears in vol. 2 and may have been an accepted spelling.

3) In footnote 96 on p. 264, "Osteireichischen" has been amended to "Osterreichischen".

4) On p. 265, "seini" has been amended to "sein".

5) "Matatona" on p. 328 should possibly be "Matalona", as on p. 288, but has been left unchanged.

6) On p. 330, "Buoancorsi" has been amended to "Buonacorsi".

7) The phrase "sotto in sù" (page 357) has been amended to match "sotto in su", which appears twice elsewhere.

8) The spelling "pinsit" instead of "pinxit" on p. 400 has been retained as it may record an error in the original inscription.