The Project Gutenberg eBook of The History of Painting in Italy, Vol. 1 (of 6)

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: The History of Painting in Italy, Vol. 1 (of 6)

Author: Luigi Lanzi

Translator: Thomas Roscoe

Release date: November 29, 2010 [eBook #34479]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Barbara Tozier, Carol Brown, Bill Tozier and
the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at














From the Original Italian












J. M'Creery, Tooks Court,
Chancery Lane, London.

[Pg iii]


After the very copious and excellent remarks upon the objects of the present history contained in the Author's Preface, the Translator feels that it would be useless on his part to add any further explanation.

It would not be right, however, to close these volumes without some acknowledgment of the valuable assistance he has received. Amongst others, he is particularly indebted to Dr. Traill, of Liverpool, who after proceeding to some length with a translation of this work, kindly placed what he had completed in the hands of the Translator, with liberty to make such use of it as might be deemed advantageous to the present undertaking. To Mr. W. Y. Ottley, who also contemplated, and in part executed, a version of the same author, the Translator has to express his obligations for several explanations of terms of art, which the intimacy of that gentleman with the fine arts, in all their branches, peculiarly qualifies him to impart.[1] Similar acknowledgments are[Pg iv] due to an enlightened and learned foreigner, Mr. Panizzi, of Liverpool, for his kind explanation of various obscure phrases and doubtful passages.

Notwithstanding the anxious desire and unremitting endeavours of the Translator to render this work, in all instances, as accurate as the nature of the subject, and the numerous difficulties he had to surmount would allow, yet, in dismissing it from his hands, he cannot repress the feeling that he must throw himself upon the indulgence of the public to excuse such errors as may be discoverable in the text. He trusts, however, that where it may be found incorrect, it will for the most part be in those passages where doubtful terms of art lay in his way, intelligible only to the initiated, and which perhaps many of the countrymen of Lanzi themselves might not be able very readily to explain.

[1] The following are among the valuable works which have been given to the public by Mr. Ottley:—The Italian School of Design, being a series of Fac-similes of Original Drawings, &c.—An Inquiry into the History of Engraving.—The Stafford Gallery.—A Series of Plates engraved after the Paintings and Sculptures of the most eminent masters of the early Florentine School, during the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries. This work forms a complete illustration of the first volume of Lanzi.—A Catalogue of the National Gallery.—Fac-similes of Specimens of Early Masters, &c.




Advertisement iii
Preface by the Author i
Biographical Notice by the Translator xli




Epoch I. Origin of the revival of paintingAssociation and methods of the old paintersSeries of Tuscan artists before the time of Cimabue and Giotto. Sect. I. 1
Florentine painters who lived after Giotto to the end of the fifteenth century. Sect. II. 51
Origin and progress of engraving on copper and wood. Sect. III. 105
Epoch II. Vinci, Bonarruoti, and other celebrated artists, form the most flourishing era of this school 147
Epoch III. The imitators of Michelangiolo 229
Epoch IV. Cigoli and his Associates improve the style of painting 280
Epoch V. Pietro da Cortona and his followers 335



Epoch I. The old masters 372
Epoch II. Foreign painters at SienaOrigin and progress of the modern style in that city 406
Epoch III. The art having declined through the disasters of the state, is revived by the labours of Salimbeni and his sons 433

[Pg i]


When detached or individual histories become so numerous that they can neither be easily collected nor perused, the public interest requires a writer capable of arranging and embodying them in the form of a general historical narrative; not, indeed, by a minute detail of their whole contents, but by selecting from each that which appears most interesting and instructive. Hence it mostly happens, that the diffuse compositions of earlier ages are found to give place to compendiums, and to succinct history. If this desire has prevailed in former times, it has been, and now is, more especially the characteristic of our own. We live in an age highly favourable, in one sense at least, to the cultivation of intellect: the boundaries of science are now extended beyond what our forefathers could have hoped, much less foreseen; and we become anxious only to discover the readiest methods of obtaining a competent knowledge, at least, of several sciences, since it is impossible to acquire them all. On the other hand, the ages [Pg ii]preceding ours, since the revival of learning, being more occupied about words than things, and admiring certain objects that now seem trivial to the generality of readers, have produced historical compositions, the separate nature of which demands combination, no less than their prolixity requires abridgment.

If these observations are applicable to other branches of history, they are especially so to the history of painting. Its materials are found ready prepared, scattered through numerous memoirs of artists of every school which, from time to time, have been given to the public: and additional articles are supplied by dictionaries of art, letters on painting, guides to several cities, catalogues of various collections, and by many tracts relating to different artists, which have been published in Italy. But these accounts, independent of want of connexion, are not useful to the generality of readers. Who, indeed, could form a just idea of painting in Italy by perusing the works of certain historians of latter ages, and some even of our own time, which abound in invectives, and in attempts to exalt favourite masters above the artists of all other schools; and which confer eulogies indiscriminately upon professors of first, second, or third-rate merit?[2] How few are there who feel[Pg iii] interested in knowing all that is said of artists with so much verbosity by Vasari, Pascoli, or Baldinucci; their low jests, their amours, their private affairs, and their eccentricities? What do we learn by being informed of the jealousies of the Florentine artists, the quarrels of the Roman, or the boasts of the Bolognian schools? Who can endure the verbal accuracy with which their wills and testaments are recorded, even to the subscription of the notary, as if the author had been drawing up a legal document; or the descriptions of their stature and physiognomy, more minute than the ancients afford us of Alexander or Augustus?[3] Not that I object to the introduction of such particulars in the lives of the great luminaries of art: in a Raffaello or a Caracci minute circumstances derive interest from the subject; but how intolerable do they become [Pg iv]in the life of an ordinary individual, where the principal incidents are but little interesting? Suetonius has not written the lives of his Cæsars and his grammarians in the same manner: the former he has rendered familiar to the reader; the latter are merely noticed and passed over.

The tastes of individuals, however, are different, and some people delight in minutiæ, as it regards both the present and the past; and since it may be of utility to those who may hereafter be inclined to give a very full and perfect history of every thing relating to Italian painting, let us view with indulgence those who have employed themselves in compiling lives so copious, and let those who have time to spare, beguile it with their perusal. At the same time, due regard should be paid to that very respectable class of readers, who, in a history of painting, would rather contemplate the artist than the man; and who are less solicitous to become acquainted with the character of a single painter, whose solitary and insulated history cannot prove instructive, than with the genius, the method, the invention, and the style of a great number of artists, with their characteristics, their merits, and their rank, the result of which is a history of the whole art.

To this object there is no one whom I know who has hitherto dedicated his pen, although it seems to be recommended no less by the passion [Pg v]indulged by princes for the fine arts, than by the general diffusion of a knowledge of them among all ranks. The habit of travelling, rendered more familiar to private persons by the example of many great sovereigns, the traffic in pictures, now become a branch of commerce important to Italy, and the philosophic genius of this age, which shuns prolixity in every study, and requires systematic arrangement, are additional incentives to the task. It is true that very pleasing and instructive biographical sketches of the most celebrated painters have been published by M. d'Argenville, in France; and various epitomes have since appeared, in which the style of painting alone is discussed.[4] But without taking into account the corruptions of the names of our countrymen in which their authors have indulged, or their omission of celebrated Italians, while they record less eminent artists of other countries, no work of this sort, and still less any dictionary, can afford us a systematic history of painting: none of these exhibit those pictures, if we may be allowed the[Pg vi] expression, in which we may, at a glance, trace the progress and series of events; none of them exhibit the principal masters of the art in a sufficiently conspicuous point of view, while inferior artists are reduced to their proper size and station: far less can we discover in them those epochs and revolutions of the art, which the judicious reader most anxiously desires to know, as the source from which he may trace the causes that have contributed to its revival or its decline; or from which he may be enabled to recollect the series, and the arrangement of the facts narrated. The history of painting has a strong analogy to literary, to civil, and to sacred history; it too requires, from time to time, the aid of certain beacons, some particular distinction in regard to places, times, or events, that may serve to divide it into epochs, and mark its successive stages. Deprive it of these, and it degenerates, like other history, into a chaos of names more calculated to load the memory than to inform the understanding.

To supply this hitherto neglected branch of Italian history, to contribute to the advancement of the art, and to facilitate the study of the different styles in painting, were the three objects I proposed to myself when I began the work which I am now about to lay before the indulgent reader. My intention was to form a compendious history of all our schools, in two volumes; adopting, with [Pg vii]little variation, Pliny's division of the country into Upper and Lower Italy. It was my design to comprehend in the first volume the schools of Lower Italy; because in it the reviving arts came earlier to maturity; and in the second to include the schools of Upper Italy, which were more tardy in attaining to celebrity. The first part of my work appeared at Florence in 1792: the second I was obliged to defer to another opportunity, and the succeeding years have so shaken my constitution, that I have scarcely been able to bring it to a conclusion, even with the assistance of many amanuenses and correctors of the press.[5] One advantage, however, has been derived from this delay; and that is, a knowledge of the opinion of [Pg viii]the public, a tribunal from which no writer can appeal; and I have been thus enabled to prepare a new edition conformable to its decision.[6] I have understood through various channels, that an additional number of names and of notices were necessary to afford satisfaction to the public; and this I have accomplished, without abandoning my plan of a compendious history. Nor does the Florentine edition on this account become useless: it will even be preferred by many to that published at Bassano; the inhabitants, for instance, of Lower Italy will be pleased to possess a work on their most illustrious painters, without concerning themselves about accounts of other places.

To a new work, then, so much more extensive than the former, I prefix a preface almost entirely new. The plan is not wholly my own, nor altogether that of others. Richardson[7] suggested that some historian should collect the scattered remarks on art, especially on painting, and should point out its progress and decline through successive ages. He has not even omitted to give us a sketch, which he brought down to the time of Giordano. [Pg ix]Mengs[8] accomplished the task more perfectly in the form of a letter, where he judiciously distinguished all the periods of the art, and has thus laid the foundations of a more enlarged history. Were I to follow their example, the chief masters of every school would be considered together, and we should be under the necessity of passing from one country to another, according as painting acquired a new lustre from their talents, or was debased by a wrong use of the great example of those artists. This method might be easily pursued, if the subject were to be treated in a general point of view, such as Pliny has considered and transmitted it to posterity; but it is not equally adapted to the arrangement of a history so fully particular as Italy seems to require. Besides the styles introduced by the most celebrated painters, such infinite diversities of a mixed character, often united with originality of manner, have arisen in every school, that we cannot easily reduce them to any particular standard: and the same artists at different periods, and in different pictures, have adopted styles so various, that at one time they appear imitators of Titian, at another of Raffaello, or of Correggio. We cannot, therefore, adopt the method of the naturalist, who having arranged the vegetable kingdom, for example, in classes more or less numerous, according to the systems of [Pg x]Tournefort or of Linnæus, can easily reduce a plant, wherever it may happen to grow, to a particular class, adding a name and description, at once precise, characteristic, and permanent. In a complete history it is necessary to distinguish each style from every other: nor do I know any more eligible method of performing this task, than by composing a separate history of each school. In this I follow Winckelmann, the best historian of ancient art in design, who specified as many different schools as the nations that produced them. A similar plan seems to me to have been pursued by Rollin, in his History of Nations, who has thus been enabled to record a prodigious mass of names and events within the compass of a few volumes, in the clearest order.

The method I follow in treating of each school is analogous to that prescribed to himself by Sig. Antonio Maria Zanetti,[9] in his Pittura Veneziana, [Pg xi]a work of its kind highly instructive, and well arranged. What he has done, in speaking of his own, I have attempted in the other schools of Italy. I accordingly omit the names of living painters, and do not notice every picture of deceased artists, as it would interrupt the connexion of the narrative, and would render the work too voluminous, but content myself with commending some of their best productions. I first give a general character of each school; I then distinguish it into three, four, or more epochs, according as its style underwent changes with the change of taste, in the same way that the eras of civil history are deduced from revolutions in governments, or other remarkable events. A few celebrated painters, who have swayed the public taste, and given a new tone to the art, are placed at the head of each epoch; and their style is particularly described, because the general and characteristic taste of the age has been formed upon their models. Their immediate pupils, and other disciples of the school, follow their great masters; and without a repetition of the general character, reference is made to what each has borrowed, altered, or added to the style of the founder of the school, or at most such character is cursorily noticed. This method, though not susceptible of a strict chronological order, is, on account of the connexion of ideas, much better adapted to [Pg xii]a history of art than an alphabetic arrangement, which too frequently interrupts the notices of schools and eras; or than the method pursued in annals, by which we are often compelled to make mention of the scholar before the master, should he survive the former; or that of separate lives, which introduces much repetition, by obliging the writer to bestow praises on the pupil for the same style which he also commends in the master, and to notice in each individual that which was the general character of the age in which he lived.

For the sake of perspicuity, I have generally separated from historical painters artists in inferior branches, such as painters of portraits, of landscape, of animals, of flowers and of fruit, of sea-pieces, of perspectives, of drolls, and all who merit a place in such classes. I have also taken notice of some arts which are analogous to painting, and though they differ from it in the materials employed, or the manner of using them, may still be included in the art; for example, engraving of prints, inlaid and mosaic work, and embroidering tapestry. Vasari, Lomazzo, and several other writers on the fine arts, have mentioned them; and I have followed their example; contenting myself with noticing, in each of those arts, only what has appeared most worthy of being recorded. Each might be the subject of a separate work; [Pg xiii]and some of them have long had their own peculiar historians, and in particular the art of engraving. By this method, in which I may boast such great examples, I am not without hopes of affording satisfaction to my readers. I am, however, more apprehensive in regard to my selection of artists; the number of whom, whatsoever method is adopted, may to some appear by far too limited, and to others too greatly extended. But criticism will not so readily apply to the names of the most illustrious artists, whom I have included, nor to those of very inferior character, whom I trust I have omitted; except a few that have some claim to be mentioned, from their connexion with celebrated masters.[10] The accusation then of having noticed some, and omitted others, will apply to me only on account of artists of a middle class, that can be neither well reckoned among the senate, the equestrian order, nor vulgar herd of painters; they constitute the class of mediocrity. The adjustment of limits is a frequent cause of legal contention; and the subject of art now under [Pg xiv]discussion, may be considered like a dispute concerning boundaries. It may often admit of doubt whether a particular artist approaches more nearly to the class of merit or of insignificance; which is, in other words, whether he should or should not obtain a place in a history of the art. Under such uncertainty, which I have several times encountered, I have more usually inclined to the side of lenity than of severity; especially when the artist has been noticed with a degree of commendation by former authors. We ought to bow to public opinion, which rarely blames us for noticing mediocrity, but frequently for passing it over in silence. Books on painting abound with complaints against Orlandi and Guarienti, for their omissions of certain artists. Still more frequently are authors censured, when the Guide to a city points out some altar-piece by a native artist, who is not named in our Dictionaries of Painting. The describers of collections repeat similar complaints in regard to every painting bearing the signature of an artist whose name appears in no work of art. Collectors of prints do the same when they discover the name of some designer, of whom history is silent, affixed to an engraving. Thus, were we to consult the opinion of the public, the majority would be inclined to recommend copiousness, rather than to express satisfaction at a more discriminating [Pg xv]selection of names. Almost all artists and amateurs belonging to every city, would be desirous that I should commemorate as many of their second rate painters as possible; and our selection, therefore, in this respect, nearly resembles the exercise of justice, which is generally applauded as long as it visits only the dwellings of others, but is cried down by each individual when it knocks at his own door. Thus a writer who is bound to observe impartiality towards every city, can scarcely shew great severity to artists of mediocrity in any. This too is not without reason; for to pass mediocrity in silence may be the study of a good orator, but not the office of a good historian. Cicero himself, in his treatise De claris Oratoribus, has given a place to less eloquent orators, and it may be observed that, after this example, the literary history of every people does not merely include its most classic writers, and those who approached nearest to them; but it adds short and concise accounts of authors less celebrated; and in the Iliad, which is a history of the heroic age, there are a few eminent leaders, many valiant soldiers, and a prodigious crowd of others, whom the poet has transiently noticed. In our case, it is still more incumbent on the historian to give mediocrity a place along with the eminent and most excellent. Many books describe that class in terms so vague, and sometimes [Pg xvi]so discordant, that to form a proper estimate of their claims, we must introduce them among superior artists, as a sort of performers in third-rate parts. Such, however, I am not solicitous to exhibit very minutely, more especially when treating of painters in fresco, and generally of other artists, whose works are now unknown in collections, or add more to the bulk than the ornament of a gallery. Thus also in point of number, my work has maintained the character of a compendium: but if any of my readers, adopting the rigid maxim of Bellori, that, in the fine arts, as in poetry, mediocrity is not to be tolerated,[11] should disdain the middle class of artists, he must look [Pg xvii]for the heads of schools, and for the most eminent painters: to these he may dedicate his attention, and turn his regard from the others like one,

"Cui altra cura stringa e morda Che quella di colui che gli è davante."[12]

Having described my plan, let us next consider the three objects originally proposed, of which the first was to present Italy with a history that may prove important to her fame. This delightful country is already indebted to Tiraboschi for a history of her literature, but she is still in want of a history of her arts. The history of painting, an art in which she is confessedly without a rival, I propose to supply, or at least to facilitate the attempt. In some departments of literature, and of the fine arts, we are equalled, or even surpassed by foreigners; and in others the palm is yet doubtful: but in painting, universal consent now yields the triumph to Italian genius, and foreigners are the more esteemed in proportion to their approach towards us. It is time then, for the honour of Italy, to collect in one point of view, those observations on her painting, scattered through upwards of a hundred volumes, and to embody them in what Horace terms series et junctura; without which the work cannot be pronounced a history. I [Pg xviii]will not conceal, that the author of the "History of Italian Literature" above mentioned, frequently animated me to this undertaking, as a sequel to his own work. He also wished me to subjoin other anecdotes to those already published, and to substitute more authentic documents for the inaccuracies abounding in our Dictionaries of painting. I have attended to both these objects. The reader will here find various schools never hitherto illustrated, and an entire school, that of Ferrara, now first described from the manuscripts of Baruffaldi and of Crespi; and in other schools he will often observe names of fresh artists, which I have either collected from ancient MSS.[13] and the correspondence of my learned friends, or deciphered on old paintings. Although such pictures are confined to cabinets, it cannot prove useless to extend a more intimate acquaintance with their authors. The reader will also meet with many new observations on the origin of painting, and on its diffusion in [Pg xix]Italy, formerly a fruitful subject of debate and contention; and likewise here and there with some original reflections on the masters, to whom various disciples may be traced; a branch of history, the most uncertain of any. Old writers of respectability often mention Raffaello, Correggio, or some other celebrated artist, as the master of a painter, without any better foundation than a similarity of style; just as the credulous heathens imagined one hero to be the son of Hercules, because he was strong; another of Mercury, because he was ingenious; a third of Neptune, because he had performed several long voyages. Errors like these are easily corrected when they are accompanied by some inadvertency in the writer; as for instance, where he has not been aware that the age of the disciple does not correspond with that of his supposed master. Occasionally, however, their detection is attended with more difficulty; and in particular when the artist, whose reputation is wholly founded upon that of his master, represented himself in foreign parts, as the disciple of men of celebrity, whom he scarcely knew by sight. Of this we have an example in Agostino Tassi, and more recently in certain soidisant disciples of Mengs; to whom it scarcely appears that he ever so much as said, "Gentlemen, how do you do?"

Finally, the reader will find some less obvious notices relating to the name, the country, and [Pg xx]the age of different artists. The deficiency of our Dictionaries in interesting names, together with their inaccuracy, are common subjects of complaint. I can excuse the compilers of these works; I know how easily we may be misled in regard to names which have been often gathered from vulgar report, or even from authors who differ in point of orthography, some giving opposite readings of the same name. But it is quite necessary that such mistakes should once for all be cleared up. The index of this work will form a new Dictionary of Painters, certainly more copious, and perhaps more accurate than usual, although it might be still further improved, especially by consulting archives and manuscripts.[14]

[Pg xxi]The second object which I had in view was to advance the interests of the art as much as lay in my power. It was of old observed that examples have a more powerful influence on the arts than any precepts can possess; and this is particularly true in respect to painting. Whoever writes history upon the model of the learned ancients, ought not only to narrate events, but to investigate their secret sources and their causes. Now these will be here developed, tracing the progress of painting as it advanced or declined in each school; and these causes being invariable, point out the means of its improvement, by shewing what ought to be[Pg xxii] pursued and what avoided. Such observations are not of importance to the artist alone, but have a reference also to other individuals. In the Roman school, during its second epoch, I perceive that the progress of the arts invariably depends on certain principles universally adopted in that age, according to which artists worked, and the public decided. A general history, by pointing out the best maxims of art, may contribute considerably to make them known and regarded; and hence artists can execute, and others approve or direct, on principles no longer uncertain and questionable, nor deduced from the manner of a particular school, but founded on maxims unerring and established, and strengthened by the uniform practice of all schools and all ages. We may add, that in a history so diversified, numerous examples occur suited to the genius of different students, who have often to lament their want of success from this circumstance alone, that they had neglected to follow the path in which nature had destined them to tread. On the influence of examples I shall add no more: should any one be desirous also of precepts under every school, he will find them given, not indeed by me, but by those who have written more ably on the art, and whom I have diligently consulted with regard to different masters, as I shall hereafter mention.

My third object was to facilitate an acquaintance with the various styles of painting. The artist or [Pg xxiii]amateur indeed, who has studied the manner of all ages and of every school, on meeting with a picture can very readily assign it, if not to a particular master, at least to a certain style, much as antiquarians, from a consideration of the paper and the characters, are enabled to assign a manuscript to a particular era; or as critics conjecture the age and place in which an anonymous author flourished, from his phraseology. With similar lights we proceed to investigate the school and era of artists; and by a diligent examination of prints, drawings, and other relics belonging to the period, we at length determine the real author. Much of the uncertainty, with regard to pictures, arises from a similitude between the style of different masters: these I collect together under one head, and remark in what one differs from the other. Ambiguity often arises from comparing different works of the same painter, when the style of some of them does not seem to accord with his general manner, nor with the great reputation he may have acquired. On account of such uncertainty, I usually point out the master of each artist, because all at the outset imitate the example offered by their teachers; and I, moreover, note the style formed, and adhered to by each, or abandoned for another manner; I sometimes mark the age in which he lived, and his greater or less assiduity in his profession. By an attentive consideration of [Pg xxiv]such circumstances, we may avoid pronouncing a picture spurious, which may have been painted in old age, or negligently executed. Who, for instance, would receive as genuine all the pictures of Guido, were it not known that he sometimes affected the style of Caracci, of Calvart, or of Caravaggio; and at other times pursued a manner of his own, in which, however, he was often very unequal, as he is known to have painted three or four different pieces in a single day? Who would suppose that the works of Giordano were the production of the same artist, if it were not known that he aspired to diversify his style, by adopting the manner of various ancient artists? These are indeed well known facts, but how many are there yet unnoted that are not unworthy of being related, if we wish to avoid falling into error? Such will be found noticed in my work, among other anecdotes of the various masters, and the different styles.

I am aware that to become critically acquainted with the diversity of styles is not the ultimate object to which the travels and the eager solicitude of the connoisseur aspire. His object is to make himself familiar with the handling of the most celebrated masters, and to distinguish copies from originals. Happy should I be, could I promise to accomplish so much! Even they might consider themselves fortunate, who dedicate their lives to [Pg xxv]such pursuits, were they enabled to discover any short, general, and certain rules for infallibly determining this delicate point! Many rely much upon history for the truth. But how frequently does it happen that the authority of an historian is cited in favour of a family picture, or an altar-piece, the original of which having been disposed of by some of the predecessors, and a copy substituted in its place, the latter is supposed to be a genuine painting! Others seem to lay great stress on the importance of places, and hesitate to raise doubts respecting any specimen they find contained in royal and select galleries, assuming that they really belong to the artists referred to in the gallery descriptions and catalogues. But here too they are liable to mistake; inasmuch as many private individuals, as well as princes, unable to purchase ancient pictures at any price, contented themselves with such copies of their imitators as approached nearest to the old masters. Some indeed were made by professors purposely despatched by princes in search of them; as in the instance of Rodolph I., who employed Giuseppe Enzo, a celebrated copyist. (See Boschini, p. 62, and Orlandi, on Gioseffo Ains di Berna.) External proofs, therefore, are insufficient, without adding a knowledge of different manners. The acquisition of such discrimination is the fruit only of long experience, and deep reflection on the style of each master: [Pg xxvi]and I shall endeavour to point out the manner in which it may be obtained.[15]

To judge of a master we must attend to his design, and this is to be acquired from his drawings, from his pictures, or, at least, from accurate engravings after them. A good connoisseur in prints is more than half way advanced in the art of judging pictures; and he who aims at this must study engravings with unremitting assiduity. It is thus his eye becomes familiarized to the artist's method of delineating and foreshortening the figure, to the air of his heads and the casting of his draperies; to that action, that peculiarity of conception, of disposing, and of contrasting, which are habitual to his character. Thus is he, as it were, introduced to the different families of youths, of children, of women, of old men, and of individuals in the vigour of life, which each artist has adopted as his own, and has usually exhibited in his pictures. We cannot be too well versed in such matters, so minute or almost insensible are the distinctions between the imitators of one master, (such as Michelangiolo, for example,) who have perhaps studied the same cartoon, or the same statues, and, as it were, learned to write after the same model.

More originality is generally to be discovered in[Pg xxvii] colouring, a branch of the art formed by a painter rather on his own judgment, than by instruction. The amateur can never attain experience in this branch who has not studied many pictures by the same master; who has not observed his selection of colours, his method of separating, of uniting, and of subduing them; what are his local tints, and what the general tone that harmonizes the colours he employs. This tint, however clear and silvery in Guido and his followers, bright and golden in Titiano and his school, and thus of the rest, has still as many modifications as there are masters in the art. The same remark extends to middle tints and to chiaroscuro, in which each artist employs a peculiar method.

These are qualities which catch the eye at a distance, yet they will not always enable the critic to decide with certainty; whether, for instance, a certain picture is the production of Vinci, or Luini, who imitated him closely; whether another be an original picture by Barocci, or an exact copy from the hand of Vanni. In such cases judges of art approach closer to the picture with a determination to examine it with the same care and accuracy as are employed in a judicial question, upon the recognition of hand-writing. Fortunately for society, nature has granted to every individual a peculiar character in this respect, which it is not easy to counterfeit, nor to mistake [Pg xxviii]for any other person's writing. The hand, habituated to move in a peculiar manner, always retains it: in old age the characters may be more slowly traced, may become more negligent or more heavy; but the form of the letters remains the same. So it is in painting. Every artist not only retains this peculiarity, but one is distinguished by a full charged pencil; another by a dry but neat finish; the work of one exhibits blended tints, that of another distinct touches; and each has his own manner of laying on the colours:[16] but even in regard to what is common to so many, each has a peculiar handling and direction of the pencil, a marking of his lines more or less waved, more or less free, and more or less studied, by which those truly skilled from long experience are enabled, after a due consideration of all circumstances, to decide who was the real author. Such judges do[Pg xxix] not fear a copyist, however excellent. He will, perhaps, keep pace with his model for a certain time, but not always; he may sometimes shew a free, but commonly a timid, servile, and meagre pencil; he will not be long able, with a free hand, to keep his own style concealed under the manner of another, more especially in regard to less important points, such as the penciling of the hair, and in the fore- and back-grounds of the picture.[17] Certain observations on the canvas and the priming ground may sometimes assist inquiry; and hence some have endeavoured to attain greater certainty by a chemical analysis of the colours. Diligence is ever laudable when exerted on a point so nice as ascertaining the hand-work of a celebrated master. It may prevent our paying ten guineas for what may not be worth two; or placing in a choice collection pictures that will not do it credit; while to the curious it affords scientific views, instead of creating prejudices that often engender errors. That mistakes should happen is not surprising. A true connoisseur is still more rare than a good artist. His skill is the result of only indirect application; it is acquired amidst other pursuits, and divides the attention with other objects; the means of attaining it fall to the lot of few; and still fewer practise it successfully. [Pg xxx]Among the number of the last I do not reckon myself. By this work I pretend not, I repeat it, to form an accomplished connoisseur in painting: my object is to facilitate and expedite the acquisition of such knowledge. The history of painting is the basis of connoisseurship; by combining it, I supersede the necessity of referring to many books; by abbreviating it I save the time and labour of the student; and by arranging it in a proper manner on every occasion, I present him with the subject ready prepared and developed before him.

It remains, in the last place, that I should give some account of myself; of the criticisms that I, who am not an artist, have ventured to pass upon each painter: and, indeed, if the professors of the art had as much leisure and experience in writing as they have ability, every author might resign to them the field. The propriety of technical terms, the abilities of artists, and the selection of specimens of art, are usually better understood, even by an indifferent artist, than by the learned connoisseur: but since those occupied in painting have not sufficient leisure to write, others, assisted by them, may be permitted to undertake the office.[18]

[Pg xxxi]By the mutual assistance which the painter has afforded to the man of letters, and the man of letters to the artist, the history of painting has been greatly advanced. The merits of the best painters are already so ably discussed that a modern historian can treat the subject advantageously. The criticisms I most regard are those that come directly from professors of the art. We meet with few from the pen of Raphael, of Titian, of Poussin, and of other great masters; such as exist, however, I regard as most precious, and deserving the most careful preservation; for, in general, those who can best perform can likewise judge the best. Vasari, Lomazzo, Passeri, Ridolfi, Boschini, Zanotti, and Crespi, require, perhaps, to be narrowly watched in some passages where they allowed themselves to be surprised by a spirit of party: but, on the whole, they have an undoubted right to dictate to us, because they were themselves painters. Bellori, Baldinucci, Count Malvasia, Count Tassi, and similar writers, hold an inferior rank; but are not wholly destitute of authority: for though mere dilettanti, they have collected [Pg xxxii]both the opinions of professors and of the public. This will at present suffice, with regard to the historians of the art: we shall notice each of them particularly under the school which he has described.

In pronouncing a criticism upon each artist I have adopted the plan of Baillet, the author of a voluminous history of works on taste, where he does not so frequently give his own opinion as that of others. Accordingly, I have collected the various remarks of connoisseurs, which were scattered through the pages of history; but I have not always cited my authorities, lest I should add too much to the dimensions of my book;[19] nor have I regarded their opinion when they seemed to me to have been influenced by prejudice. I have availed myself of the observations of some approved critics, like Borghini, Fresnoy, Richardson, Bottari, Algarotti, Lazzarini, and Mengs; with others who have rather criticised our painters than written their lives. I have also respected the opinions of[Pg xxxiii] living critics, by consulting different professors in Italy: to them I have submitted my manuscript; I have followed their advice, especially when it related to design, or any other department of painting, in which artists are almost the only adequate judges. I have conversed with many connoisseurs, who, in some points, are not less skilful than the professors of the art, and are even consulted by artists with advantage; as, for instance, on the suitableness of the subject, on the propriety of the invention and the expression, on the imitation of the antique, on the truth of the colouring. Nor have I failed to study the greatest part of the best productions of the schools of Italy; and to inform myself in the different cities what rank their least known painters hold among their connoisseurs; persuaded, as I am, that the most accurate opinion of any artist is formed where the greatest number of his works are to be seen, and where he is most frequently spoken of by his fellow citizens and by strangers. In this way, also, I have been enabled to do justice to the merits of several artists who had been passed over, either because the historian of their school had never beheld their productions, or had merely met with some early and trivial specimens in one city, being unacquainted with the more perfect and mature specimens they had produced elsewhere.

Notwithstanding my diligence I do not presume[Pg xxxiv] to offer this as a work to which much might not be added. It has never happened that a history, embracing so many objects, is at once produced perfect; though it may gradually be rendered so. The history earliest in point of time, becomes, in the end, the least in authority; and its greatest merit is in having paved the way to more finished performances. Perfection is still less to be expected in a compendium. The reader is here presented with the names of many artists and authors; but many others might have been admitted, whom want of leisure or opportunity, but not of respect, has obliged us to omit. Here he will find a variety of opinions; but to these many others might have been added. There is no man, of whom all think alike. Baillet, just before mentioned, is a proof of this, with regard to writers on literary subjects; and he who thinks the task worthy of his pains might demonstrate it much more fully with respect to different painters. Each judges by principles peculiar to himself: Bonarruoti stigmatized as drivelling, Pietro Perugino and Francia, both luminaries of the art; Guido, if we may credit history, was disapproved of by Cortona; Caravaggio by Zucchero; Guercino by Guido; and, what seems more extraordinary, Domenichino by most of the artists who flourished at Rome, when he painted his finest pictures.[20] Had these artists written of [Pg xxxv]their rivals they either would have condemned them, or spoken less favourably of them than unprejudiced individuals. Hence it is that connoisseurs will frequently be found to approach nearer the truth, in forming their estimate, than artists; the former adopt the impartial feelings of the public, while the latter allow themselves to be influenced by motives of envy or of prejudice. Innumerable similar disputes are still maintained concerning several artists, who, like different kinds of aliment, are found to be disagreeable or grateful to different palates. To hold the happy mean, exempted from all party spirit, is as impossible as to reconcile the opinions of mankind, which are as multifarious as are the individuals of the species.

Amid such discrepancy of opinion I have judged it expedient to avoid the most controverted points; in others, to subscribe to the decision of the majority; [Pg xxxvi]to allow to each his particular opinion;[21] but not, if possible, to disappoint the reader, desirous of learning what is most authentic and generally received. Ancient writers appear to have pursued this plan when treating of the professors of any art, in which they themselves were mere amateurs; nor could it arise from any other circumstance that Cicero, Pliny, and Quintilian, express themselves upon the Greek artists in the same manner. Their opinions coincide, because[Pg xxxvii] that of the public was unanimous. I am aware that it is difficult to obtain the opinion of the public concerning the more modern artists, but it is not difficult with regard to those on whom much has been already written. I am also aware that public opinion accords not at all times with truth, because "it often happens to incline to the wrong side of the question." This, however, is a rare occurrence in the fine arts,[22] nor does it militate against an historian who aims more at fidelity of narrative, and impartiality of public opinion, than the discussion of the relative merit or correctness of tastes.

My work is divided into six volumes; and I commence by treating in the two first volumes of that part of Italy, which, through the genius of Da Vinci, Michelangiolo, and Raffaello, became first conspicuous, and first exhibited a decided character in painting. Those artists were the ornaments of the Florentine and Roman schools, from which I proceed to two others, the Sienese and Neapolitan. About the same time Giorgione, Tiziano, and Coreggio, began to flourish in Italy; three artists, who as much advanced the art of [Pg xxxviii]colouring, as the former improved design; and of these luminaries of Upper Italy I treat in the third and fourth volumes; since the number of the names of artists, and the many additions to this new impression, have induced me to devote two volumes to their merits. Then follows the school of Bologna, in which the attempt was made to unite the excellences of all the other schools: this commences the fifth volume; and on account of proximity it is succeeded by that of Ferrara, and Upper and Lower Romagna. The school of Genoa, which was late in acquiring celebrity, succeeds, and we conclude with that of Piedmont, which, though it cannot boast so long a succession of artists as those of the other states, has merits sufficient to entitle it to a place in a history of painting. Thus the five most celebrated schools will be treated of in the order in which they arose; in like manner as the ancient writers on painting began with the Asiatic school, which was followed by the Grecian, and this last was subdivided into the Attic and Sicyonian; to which in process of time succeeded the Roman school.[23] The sixth and last volume contains an ample index to the whole, quite indispensable to render the work more extensively useful, and to give it its[Pg xxxix] full advantage. In assigning artists to any school I have paid more regard to other circumstances than the place of their nativity; to their education, their style, their place of residence in particular, and the instruction of their pupils: circumstances, indeed, which are sometimes found so blended and confused, that several cities may contend for one painter, as they are said to have done for Homer. In such cases I do not pretend to decide; the object of my labours being only to trace the vicissitudes of the art in various places, and to point out those artists who have exercised an influence over them; not to determine disputes, unpleasant in themselves, and wholly foreign to my undertaking.

[2] See Algarotti, Saggio sopra la Pittura, in the chapter Della critica necessaria al Pittore.

[3] For this fault, which the Greeks used to call Acribia, Pascoli has been sharply reproved. He has, in fact, informed us which among the several artists could boast a becoming and proportionate nose, which had it short or long, aquiline or snubbed, very sharp or very hollow. He most generally observes that such an artist was neither tall nor large of stature, neither handsome nor plain in his physiognomy; and who would have thought it worth his while to inquire about it? The sole utility that can possibly attend such inquiries is, the chance of detecting some impostor, who might attempt to palm upon us for a genuine portrait the likeness of some other individual. Engravings, however, are the best security against similar impositions.

[4] In the Magasin Encyclopédique of Paris, (An. viii. tom. iv. p. 63), there is a work in two volumes, edited in the German language at Gottingen, announced as well as commended. The first volume is dated 1798, the second 1801, from the pen of note the learned Sig. Florillo, the title of which we insert in the second index. It consists of a history of painting upon the plan of the present one; but there is some variation in the order of the schools.

[5] It was finished in the year 1796, and it is now given, with various additions and corrections throughout. Many churches, galleries, and pictures, are here mentioned which are no longer in existence; but this does not interfere with its truth, inasmuch as the title of the work is confined to the before mentioned year. Numerous friends have lent me their assistance in the completion of this edition, and in particular the cavalier Gio. de' Lazara, a gentleman of Padua, who possesses a rich collection, both in books and MSS., and displays the utmost liberality in affording others the use of them. To this merit, in regard to the present work, he has likewise added that of revising and correcting it through the press, a favour which I could not have more highly estimated from any other hand, deeply versed as he is in the history of the fine arts.

[6] "Ut enim pictores, et qui signa faciunt, et vero etiam poetæ suum quisque opus à vulgo considerari vult, ut si quid reprehensum sit à pluribus id corrigatur ... sic aliorum judicio permulta nobis et facienda et non facienda, et mutanda et corrigenda sunt." Cicero De Officiis, ii. c. 41.

[7] Treatise on Painting, tom. ii. p. 166.

[8] Opere, tom. ii. p. 108.

[9] A learned Venetian, skilled in the practice of design and of painting. He must not be confounded with Antonio Maria Zanetti, an eminent engraver, who revived the art of taking prints from wooden blocks with more than one colour, which was invented by Ugo da Carpi, but afterwards lost. He also wrote works, serviceable to the fine arts; and several of his letters may be seen in the second volume of Lettere Pittoriche. They are subscribed Antonio Maria Zanetti, q. Erasmo; but this is an error of the editor: it ought to be q. Girolamo, to distinguish him from the other, who was called del q. Alessandro. This mistake was detected by the accurate Vianelli, in his Diario della Carriera, p. 49.

[10] An amateur, who happens to be unacquainted with the fact, that there were various artists of the same name, as the Vecelli, Bassani, and Caracci, will never become properly acquainted with these families of painters; neither will he be competent to judge of certain pictures, which only attract the regard of the vulgar, because they truly boast the reputation of a great name.

[11] I do not admit this principle. Horace laid it down for the art of poetry alone, because it is a faculty that perishes when it ceases to give delight. Architecture, on the other hand, confers vast utility when it does not please, by presenting us with habitations; and painting, and sculpture, by preserving the features of men, and illustrious actions. Besides, let us recollect, that Horace denounces the production of inferior verses, because there is not space enough for them; "Non concessere columnæ," but it is not so with paintings of mediocrity. In any country Petrarch, Ariosto, and Tasso, may be read, and he who has never read a poor poet, will write better than if he had read a hundred. But it is not every one who can boast either in the houses or temples of his country, of possessing the works of good artists; and for purposes of worship or of ornament, the less excellent ones may suffice; wherefore these also produce some advantage.

[12] Like one who thinks of some other person than he that is before him.

[13] For the improvement of my latest edition, I am greatly indebted to the Prince Filippo Ercolani, who, having purchased from the heirs of Signor Marcello Oretti fifty-two manuscript volumes, which that indefatigable amateur, in the course of his studies, journeys, and observations, had compiled respecting the professors of the fine arts, their eras, and their labours, allowed materials to be drawn from them for various notes, by the Sig. Lazara, who superintended the edition. To the devoted attachment of these gentlemen to the fine arts, the public are indebted for much information, either wholly new, or hitherto little known.

[14] Vasari, from whom several epochs are taken, is full of errors in dates, as may be every where perceived. See Bottari's note on tom. ii. p. 79. The same observation applies generally to other authors, as Bottari remarks in a note on Lettere Pittoriche, tom. iv. p. 366. A similar objection is made to the Dictionary of P. Orlandi in another letter, tom. ii. p. 318, where it is termed "a useful work, but so full of errors, that one can derive no benefit from it without possessing the books there quoted." After three editions of this work, a fourth was printed in Venice, in 1753, corrected and enlarged by Guarienti, "but enough still remains to be done after his additions, even to increase it twofold." Bottari, Lett. Pitt. tom. iii. p. 353. See also Crespi Vite de' Pittori Bolognesi, p. 50. No one, who has not perused this book, would believe how often he defaces Orlandi in presuming to correct him; multiplying artists for every little difference with which authors wrote the name of the same man. Thus Pier Antonio Torre, and Antonio Torri, are with him two different men. Many of the articles, however, added by him, relating to artists unknown to P. Orlandi, are useful; so that this second Dictionary ought to be consulted with caution, not altogether rejected. The last edition, printed at Florence, in two volumes, contains the names of many painters, either lately dead, or still living, and often of very inferior merit, and on this account is little noticed in my history. This Dictionary, moreover, affords little satisfaction to the reader concerning the old masters, unless he possess a work printed at Florence in twelve volumes, entitled Serie degli Uomini più illustri in Pittura, to which the articles in it often refer. The Dizionario Portatile, by Mr. La Combe, is also a book of reference, not very valuable to those who look for exact information. We give a single instance of his inaccuracy in regard to the elder Palma; but our emendations have been chiefly directed towards the writers of Italy, from whom foreigners have, or ought to have borrowed, in writing respecting our artists.

[15] See Mr. Richardson's Treatise on Painting, tom. ii. p. 58; and M. D'Argenville's Abrégé de la Vie des plus fameux Peintres, tom. i. p. 65.

[16] "Some made use of pure colours, without blending one with the other; a practice well understood in the age of Titiano: others, as Coreggio, adopted a method totally opposite: he laid on his admirable colours in such a manner, that they appear as if they had been breathed without effort on the canvas; so soft and so clear, without harshness of outline, and so relieved, that he seems the rival of nature. The elder Palma and Lorenzo Lotto coloured freshly, and finished their pictures as highly as Giovanni Bellini; but they have loaded and overwhelmed them with outline and softness in the style of Titiano and Giorgione. Some others, as Tintoretto, to a purity of colour not inferior to the artists above mentioned, have added a boldness as grand as it is astonishing;" &c. Baldinucci, Lett. Pittor. tom. ii. lett. 126.

[17] See Baldinucci in Lett. Pittor. tom. ii. lett. 126, and one by Crespi, tom. iv. lett. 162.

[18] We must recollect that "de pictore, sculptore, fusore, judicare nisi artifex non potest," (Plin. Jun. i. epist. 10); which must be understood of certain refinements of the art that may escape the eye of the most learned connoisseur. But have we any need of a painter to whisper in our ear whether the features of a figure are handsome or ugly, its colouring false or natural, whether it has harmony and expression, or whether its composition be in the Roman or Venetian taste? And where it is really expedient to have the opinion of an artist, which we therefore report as we have either read it or heard it, will that opinion have less authority in my pages than on his own tongue?

[19] Abundance of quotations, and descriptions of the minutest particulars from rarer works is a characteristic of the present day, to which I think I have sufficiently conformed in my second Index. But in a history expressly composed to instruct and please, I have judged it right not to interrupt the thread of the narrative too frequently with different authorities. The works from which I draw my account of each artist are indicated in the body of the history and in the first index: to make continual allusion to them might please a few, but would prove very disagreeable to many.

[20] Pietro da Cortona told Falconieri that when the celebrated picture of S. Girolamo della Carità was exhibited, "it was so abused by all the eminent painters, of whom many then flourished, that he himself joined in its condemnation, in order to save his credit." See Falconieri, Lett. Pittor. tom. ii. lett. 17. He continues: "Is not the tribune of the church of S. Andrea della Valle, ornamented by Domenichino, among the finest specimens of painting in fresco? and yet they talked of sending masons with hammers to knock it down after he had displayed it. When Domenichino afterwards passed through the church, he stopped with his scholars to view it; and, shrugging up his shoulders, observed, 'After all, I do not think the picture so badly executed.'"

[21] The most singular and novel opinions concerning our painters are contained in the volumes published by M. Cochin, who is confuted in the Guides to the cities of Padua and Parma, and is often convicted of erroneous statements in matter of fact. He is reproved, with regard to Bologna, by Crespi, in Lett. Pittor. tom. vii.; and for what he has said of Genoa, by Ratti, in the lives of the painters of that city. Commencing with his preface, they point out the grossest errors in Cochin. It is there also observed that his work was disapproved of by Watellet, by Clerisseau, and other French connoisseurs then living: nor do I believe it would have pleased Filibien, De Piles, and such masters of the critical art. Italy also, at a later period, has produced a book, which aims at overturning the received opinions on subjects connected with the fine arts. It is entitled Arte di vedere secondo i principii di Sulzer e di Mengs. The author, who in certain periodical works at Rome, was called the modern Diogenes, has been honoured with various confutations. (See Lettera in Difesa del Cav. Ratti, p. 11.) Authors like these launch their extravagant opinions, for the purpose of attracting the gaze of the world; but men of letters, if they cannot pass them over in silence, ought not to be very anxious to gratify their wishes—"Opinionum commenta delet dies." Cicero.

[22] Of Apelles himself Pliny observes, "Vulgum diligentiorem judicem quam se præferens." Examine also Carlo Dati in Vite de' Pittori Antichi, p. 99, where he proves, by authority and examples, that judgment, in the imitative arts, is not confined to the learned. See also Junius, De Pictura Veterum, lib. i. cap. 5.

[23] See Mons. Agucchi, in a fragment preserved by Bellori, in Vite de' Pittori, Scultori, e Architetti moderni, p. 190.

[Pg xl]
[Pg xli]


Luigi Lanzi was born in the year 1732, at Monte dell' Olmo, in the diocese of Fermo, of an ancient family, which is said to have enjoyed some of the chief honours of the municipality to which it belonged. His father was a physician, and also a man of letters: his mother, a truly excellent and pious woman, was allied to the family of the Firmani. How deeply sensible the subject of this memoir was of the advantages he derived, in common with many illustrious characters, from early maternal precepts and direction, he has shewn in a beautiful Latin elegy to her memory, which appeared in his work, entitled Inscriptionum et Carminum.

Possessed of a naturally lively and penetrating turn of mind, he began early to investigate the [Pg xlii]merits of the great writers of his own country; alike in poetry, in history, and in art. His poetical taste was formed on the models of Petrarch and of Dante, and he was accustomed, while yet a child, to repeat their finest passages to his father, an enthusiastic admirer of Italy's old poets, who took pride in cultivating the same fervour in the mind of his son, a fervour of which in more northern climates, we can form little idea. His imitations of these early poets, whose spirit he first imbibed at the fountain head, before he grew familiar with the corrupt and tasteless compositions of succeeding eras, are said to have frequently been so bold and striking, as to deceive the paternal eye. To these, too, he was perhaps mainly indebted for that energy of feeling, and solidity of judgment, as well as that richness of illustration and allusion, which confer attractions upon his most serious and elaborate works. He was no less intimate with the best political and literary historians at an early age; with Machiavelli, Davila, and Guicciardini; with Muratori and Tiraboschi; whose respective compositions he was destined to rival in the world of art.

Lanzi's first studies were pursued in the Jesuits' College at Fermo, where an Italian Canzone, written in praise of the Beata Vergine, is said to have acquired for him, as a youth of great promise, the highest degree of regard. Under the care of his spiritual instructor, father Raimondo Cunich, Lanzi likewise became deeply versed in all the excellences[Pg xliii] of classical literature, not as a vain parade of words and syllables; for along with the technical skill of the scholar, he imbibed the spirit of the ancient writers. In his succeeding philosophical and mathematical studies he was assisted by Father Boscovich, one of the first mathematicians of his day. Thus to a keen and fertile intellect, animated by enthusiasm for true poetry and the beauties of art, was added that regular classical and scientific learning, inducing a love of order and of truth, capable of applying the clear logic derived from Euclid to advantage, in subjects of a less tangible and demonstrative nature. The value of such preliminary acquirements to the examination of antiquarian and scientific remains, which can only be conducted on uncertain data and a calculation of possibilities, as in ancient specimens of art, can bear no question; and of this truth Lanzi was fully aware. To feel rightly, to reason clearly, to decide upon probabilities, to distinguish degrees, resemblances, and differences, comparing and weighing the whole with persevering accuracy; these were among the essentials which Lanzi conceived requisite to prepare a writer upon works of art.

These qualities, too, will be found finely relieved and elevated by frequent and appropriate passages of eloquent feeling; flowing from that sincere veneration for his subject, and that love which may be termed the religion of the art to which he became so early attached. How intimately [Pg xliv]such a spirit is connected with the best triumphs of the art of painting, is seen in the angelic faces of Da Vinci, of Raffaello, and Coreggio; and the same enthusiasm must have been felt by a true critic, such as Lanzi. Far, however, from impeding him in the acquisition of his stores of antiquarian knowledge, and in his scientific arrangements, his enthusiasm conferred upon him only an incredible degree of diligence and despatch. He was at once enabled to decipher the age and character, to arrange in its proper class, and to give the most exact description of every object of art which passed under his review.

Lanzi thus came admirably prepared to his great task, one of the most complete models of sound historical composition, of which the modern age can boast. It was written in the full maturity of his powers; no hasty or isolated undertaking, it followed a series of other excellent treatises, all connected with some branches of the subject, and furnishing materials for his grand design. Circumstances further contributed to promote his views. Shortly after the dissolution of the order of Jesuits, to which he belonged, he was recommended by his friend Fabroni, prior of the church of S. Lorenzo, to the grand duke Leopold of Florence, who, in 1775, appointed him to the care of his cabinet of medals and gems, in the gallery of Florence. This gave rise to one of his first publications, entitled, A Description of the Florentine Gallery, which he sent in 1782 to the same friend,[Pg xlv] Angiolo Fabroni, then General Provveditore of the Studio at Pisa, and who conducted the celebrated Literary Journal of that place, in which Lanzi's Description appeared.

His next dissertation, still more enriched with antiquarian illustration and research, was his Essay on the Ancient Italian dialects, which contains a curious account of old Etruscan monuments, and the ducal collection of classical vases and urns. This was followed by his Preliminary Notices respecting the Sculpture of the Ancients, and their various Styles, put forth in the year 1789, in which he pursues the same plan which he subsequently perfected in the history before us, of allotting to each style its respective epochs, to each epoch its peculiar characters, these last being exemplified by their leading professors, most celebrated in history. He farther adduces examples of his system as he proceeds, from the various cabinets of the Royal Museum, which he explains to the reader as a part of his chief design in illustrating them. He enters largely into the origin and character of the Etruscan School, and examines very fully the criticisms, both on ancient and Italian art, by Winckelmann and Mengs.

From the period of these publications, the Grand Duke, entertaining a high opinion of Lanzi's judgment, was in the habit of consulting him before he ventured to add any new specimens to his cabinet of antiquities. He was also entrusted with a fresh arrangement of some new cabinets belonging[Pg xlvi] to the gallery, which together with the latter, he finally completed, on a system which it is said never fails to awaken the admiration of all scientific visitors at Florence. During this task, his attention had been particularly directed to the interpretation of the monuments and Etruscan inscriptions contained in the ducal gallery, which, together with the ancient Tuscan, the Umbrian, and other obsolete dialects, soon grew familiar to him, and led to the composition of his celebrated Essay upon the Tuscan Tongue. For the purpose of more complete research and illustration, he obtained permission from the duke to visit Rome, in order to consult the museums, and prepare the way for his essay, which he published there in 1789; a work of immense erudition and research.

It was here Lanzi first appeared as the most profound antiquarian of modern Italy, by his successful explanation of some ancient Etruscan inscriptions and remains of art, which had baffled the skill of a number of his most distinguished countrymen. Upon presenting it to the grand duke, after his return from Rome, Lanzi was immediately appointed his head antiquary and director of the Florentine gallery; while the city of Gubbio raised him to the rank of their first patrician order, on account of his successful elucidation of the famous Eugubine Tables. In one of his Dissertations upon a small Tuscan Urn, he triumphantly refuted some charges which had been invidiously advanced against him, and defended his[Pg xlvii] principles of antiquarian illustration by retorting the charge of fallacy upon his adversaries.

In the year 1790, Lanzi, at the request of the Gonfaloniere and priors of Monte dell'Olino, published an inquiry into the Condition and Site of Pausula, an ancient City of Piceno; said to be written with surprising ingenuity, yet with equal fairness; uninfluenced by any prejudices arising from national partiality, or from the nature of the commission with which he had been honoured. This was speedily followed by a much more important undertaking, connected with the prosecution of his great design, which it would appear he had already for some time entertained.

During the period of his travels through Italy in pursuit of antiquities, he had carefully collected materials for a general History of Painting, which was meant to comprize, in a compendious form, whatever should be found scattered throughout the numerous authors who had written upon the art. These materials, as well as the work itself, had gradually grown upon his hands, as might be expected from a man so long accustomed to method, to criticism, to perspicuity; in short, to every quality requisite in the philosophical treatment of a great subject. The artists and literati of Italy, then, were not a little surprised at the appearance of the first portion of the Storia Pittorica, comprehending Lower Italy; or the Florentine, Sienese, Roman, and Neapolitan Schools, reduced to a compendious and methodical form,[Pg xlviii] adapted to facilitate a knowledge of Professors and of their Styles, for the lovers of the art. It was dedicated to the grand duchess Louisa Maria of Bourbon, in a style, observes the Cav. Bossi, "which recalls to mind the letters of Pliny to Trajan, composed with mingled dignity and respect; with genuine feeling, and with true, not imaginary, commendations." Elogio, p. 127.

But the unfeigned pleasure and admiration expressed in the world of literature and art, on being presented with the Pictorial History of Lower Italy, was almost equalled by its disappointment at the delay experienced with regard to the appearance of the second part; and which it was feared would never see the light. Lanzi's state of health had, some time subsequent to 1790, been very precarious; and he suffered severely from a distressing complaint,[25] which frequently interrupted his travels in which he was then engaged, collecting further materials for his History of Painting in Upper Italy. While thus employed, on his return from Genoa in December, 1793, he experienced a first attack of apoplexy, as he was passing the mountains of Massa and Carrara. After his recovery, and return to Florence, he was advised in the ensuing spring to visit the baths of Albano, which being situated near Bassano, afforded him an opportunity of superintending the publication of his history, in the Remondini [Pg xlix]Press, and on a more extensive scale than he had at first contemplated. He likewise obtained permission from the grand duke Leopold to absent himself, during some time, from his charge at Florence, in September, 1793. The first portion of his labours he conceived to be too scanty in point of names and notices to satisfy public taste, so that upon completing the latter part upon a more full and extensive scale, he gave a new edition of that already published, very considerably altered and augmented.

To these improvements he invariably contributed, both in notes and text, at every subsequent edition, a number of which appeared in the course of a few years, until the work attained a degree of completeness and correctness seldom bestowed upon labours of such incredible difficulty and extent. The last which received the correction and additions of the author was published at Bassano, in the year 1809.

That a work upon such a scale was a great desideratum, no less to Italy than to the general world of art, would appear evident from the character of the various histories and accounts of painting which had preceded it. They are rather valuable as records, than as real criticism or history; as annals of particular characters and productions derived from contemporary observation, than as sound and enlightened views, and a dispassionate estimate of individual merits. Full of errors, idle prejudices, and discussions foreign to the subject, a [Pg l]large portion of their pages is taken up in vapid conceits, personal accusations, and puerile reasoning, destitute of method.

The work of Lanzi, on the other hand, as it is well remarked by the Cav. Boni, observes throughout the precept of the serie et junctura of Horace. It brings into full light the leading professors of the art, exhibits at due distance those of the second class, and only glances at mediocrity and inferiority of character, insomuch as to fill up the great pictoric canvas with its just lights and shades. The true causes of the decline and revival of the art at certain epochs are pointed out, with those that contribute to preserve the fine arts in their happiest lustre; in which, recourse to examples more than to precepts is strongly recommended. The best rules are unfolded for facilitating the study of different manners, some of which are known to bear a resemblance, though by different hands, and others are opposed to each other, although adopted by the same artist; a species of knowledge highly useful at a period when the best productions are eagerly sought after at a high rate. It is a history, in short, worthy of being placed at the side of that on the Literature of Italy by Tiraboschi, who having touched upon the fine arts at the outset of his labours, often urged his ancient friend and colleague to dilate upon a subject in every way so flattering to the genius of Italy; to Italy which, however rivalled by other nations in science and in literature, [Pg li]stands triumphant and alone in its creative mind of art.

It is, however, difficult to convey a just idea of a work composed upon so enlarged and complete a scale; which embraces a period of about six centuries, and fourteen Italian schools, but treated with such rapidity and precision, as to form in itself a compendium of whatever we meet with in so many volumes of guides, catalogues, descriptions of churches and palaces, and in so many lives of artists throughout the whole of Italy. (pp. 130-1.)

It is known that Richardson expressed a wish that some historian would collect these scattered accounts relating to the art of painting, at the same time noting down its progress and decline in every age, a desideratum which Mengs in part supplied in one of his letters, briefly marking down all the respective eras. Upon this plan, as far as regarded Venetian painting, Zanetti had partially proceeded; but the general survey, in its perfect form, of the whole of the other schools, was destined to be completed by the genius of Lanzi. Here he first gives the general character of each, distinguishing its particular epochs, according to the alterations in taste which it underwent. A few artists of distinguished reputation, whose influence gave a new impulse and new laws to the art, stand at the head of each era, which they may be said to have produced, with a full description of their style. To these great masters, their respective pupils are annexed, with the progress of their [Pg lii]school, referring to such as may have more or less added to, or altered the manner of their prototype. For the sake of greater perspicuity, the painters of history are kept distinct from the artists in inferior branches; among whom are classed portrait and landscape painters, those of animals, of flowers, of fruits, &c. Nor are such as bear an affinity to the art, like engraving, inlaying, mosaic work, and embroidery, wholly excluded. Being doubtful whether he should make mention of those artists who belong neither to the senatorial, the equestrian, nor the popular order of the pictorial republic, and have no public representation, such as the names of mediocrity; Lanzi finally decided to introduce them among their superiors, like third-rate actors, whose figures may just be seen, in order to preserve the entireness of the story. To this he was farther induced by the general appearance of their names in the various dictionaries, guides, and descriptions of cities and of galleries; and by the example of Homer, Cicero, and most great writers; Homer himself commemorating, along with the wise and brave also the less valiant—the fools and the cowards. (Elogio, pp. 129, 130, 131.)

After having resided during a considerable period at Bassano, occupied in the superintendence of the first edition of his great work, Lanzi found himself compelled to retire to Udine, in 1796, from the more immediate scene of war; a war which subsequently involved other cities of Italy [Pg liii]in its career. From Udine he shortly returned to Florence, where he again resumed his former avocations in the ducal gallery, about the period of the commencement of the Bourbon government.

Lanzi's next literary undertaking was three Dissertations upon Ancient painted Vases, commonly called Etruscan; and he subsequently published a very excellent and pleasing work, entitled, Aloisii Lanzii Inscriptionum et Carminum Libri Tres: works which obtained for him the favourable notice of the Bourbon court. Nor was he less distinguished by that of the new French dynasty, which shortly obtained the ascendancy throughout all Italy, as well as at Florence, and by which Lanzi was appointed President of the Cruscan Academy.

Among Lanzi's latest productions may be classed his edition and translations of Hesiod; entitled I Lavori, e le Giornate di Esiodo Ascreo opera con L. Codici riscontrata, emendata la versione latina, aggiuntavi l'Italiana in Terze Rime con annotazioni. In this he had been engaged as far back as the year 1785, and it had been then announced in a beautiful edition of Hesiod, translated into Latin by Count Zamagua.

The list will here close with his Opere Sacre, sacred treatises, produced on a variety of occasions, and on a variety of spiritual subjects. One of these was upon the Holy Sacrament, entitled, Il divoto del SS. Sacramento istruito nella pratica [Pg liv]di tal devozione. In truth, Lanzi was a good Christian, and may be ranked in the number of that great and honoured band of Christian philosophers, who like Newton, Locke, and Paley, have triumphantly opposed the whole strength of their mighty intellect, and vast reach of their reasoning powers to the specious and witty, but less powerful and argumentative genius of Gibbon, of Hume, and of Voltaire. Nor was the conviction of these great truths in the mind of Lanzi the result of sickness and misfortunes, or sombre reflections in the decline of life. Great as was the reputation he had acquired by his valuable labours, he was often known sincerely to declare, among his private friends, that he would willingly renounce all kind of literary honours for the pleasure of being assured, that his sacred works had in any degree promoted the cause of Christianity.

Shortly after the last edition of the History now before us, which he had personally superintended, though at a very advanced age, in the year 1809, at Bassano, Lanzi's health began rapidly to decline, and he prepared with perfect composure to meet the termination of his earthly career. He had already attained his seventy-eighth year; but his mind preserved its usual tone and vigour, though he could with difficulty pace his apartment. He wrote letters, and even pursued his beloved studies on the day of his decease, which took place on Sunday, the 30th of March, 1810, occasioned by a fresh attack of apoplexy. [Pg lv]For this he had long been prepared, and only the preceding evening had taken an affectionate leave of his friends and domestics, thanking the Cav. Boni for his kindness in continuing so long to mount his staircase to visit an old man.

[24] It may be proper to observe, that the materials of the biographical sketch here offered to the public, are extracted from an extremely pleasing and popular tribute to the memory of Lanzi, of very general repute in Italy, from the pen of his intimate friend and associate, the Cavalier Bossi, himself a man of singular merit and acquirements, whose Elogio upon his distinguished countryman has deservedly been added to the recent editions of his invaluable history.

[25] Repeated attacks of strangury which often threatened his life, unless he obtained instant relief.

[Pg lvi]
[Pg 1]







Origin of the revival of PaintingAssociation and methods of the old PaintersSeries of Tuscan Artists before the time of Cimabue and Giotto.


That there were painters in Italy, even during the rude ages, is attested not only by historians,[26] but by several pictures which have escaped the ravages of time; Rome retains several ancient specimens.[27] Passing over her cemeteries, which have handed down to us a number of Christian monuments, part in specimens of painted glass, [Pg 2]scattered through our museums, and part in those of parietal histories, or walled mosaic, it will be sufficient to adduce two vast works, unrivalled by any others, that I know of, in Italy. The first is the series of the Popes, which in order to prove the succession of the papal chair, from the prince of the Apostles down to the time of St. Leo, this last holy pontiff caused to be painted; a work of the fifth century, which was subsequently continued until our own times. The second is the decoration of the whole church of San Urbano, where there are several evangelical acts represented on the walls, along with some histories of the Titular Saint and St. Cecilia, a production which, partaking in nothing either of the Greek lineaments or style of drapery, may be attributed more justly to an Italian pencil, which has subscribed the date of 1011.[28] Many more might be pointed out, existing in different cities; as for instance the picture at Pesara, of the patron saints of the city, illustrated by the celebrated Annibale Olivieri, which is earlier than the year 1000; those in the vaults of the cathedral at Aquileja,[29] the picture [Pg 3]at Santa Maria Primerana at Fiesole, which seems the work of that or the succeeding age;[30] and the picture at Orvieto which was formerly known by the name of S. Maria Prisca, but is now generally called S. Brizio.[31] I say nothing of the figures of the virgin formerly ascribed to St. Luke, and now supposed to be the production of the eleventh or twelfth century, as I shall have to treat of them at the opening of the third book. The painters of those times were, however, of little repute; they produced no illustrious scholars, no work worthy of marking an era. The art had gradually degenerated into a kind of mechanism, which, after the models afforded by the Greek workers in mosaic employed in the church of St. Mark, at Venice,[32] invariably exhibited the same legends, in which nature appeared distorted rather than represented. It was not till after the middle of the thirteenth century that any thing better was attempted; and the improvement of sculpture was the first step towards the formation of a new style.

[Pg 4]The honour of this is due to the Tuscans; a nation that from very remote antiquity disseminated the benign light of art and learning throughout Italy; but it more especially belongs to the people of Pisa. They taught artists how to shake off the trammels of the modern Greeks, and to adopt the ancients for their models. Barbarism had not only overwhelmed the arts, but even the maxims necessary for their re-establishment. Italy was not destitute of fine specimens of Grecian and Roman sculpture; but she had long been without an artist who could appreciate their value, much less attempt to imitate them. Little else was executed in those dark ages but some rude pieces of sculpture, such as what remains in the cathedral of Modena, in San Donato at Arezzo, in the Primaziale at Pisa,[33] and in some other churches where specimens are preserved on the doors or in [Pg 5]the interior. Niccola Pisano was the first who discovered and pursued the true path. There were, and still are, some ancient sarcophagi in Pisa, especially that which inclosed the body of Beatrice, mother of the Countess Matilda, who died in the eleventh century. A chase, supposed to represent that of Hippolytus, is sculptured on it in basso relievo, which must be the production of a good school; being a subject which has been often delineated by the ancients on many urns still extant at Rome.[34] This was the model which Niccola selected, from this he formed a style which participated of the antique, especially in the heads and the casting of the drapery; and when exhibited in different Italian cities "it inspired artists with a laudable emulation to apply to sculpture more assiduously than they had before done," as we are informed by Vasari. Niccola did not attain to what he aspired. The compositions are sometimes crowded, the figures are often badly designed, and shew more diligence than expression. His name, however, will always mark an era in the [Pg 6]history of design, because he first led artists into the true path by the introduction of a better standard. Reform in any branch of study invariably depends on some rule, which, promulgated and adopted by the schools, gradually produces a general revolution in opinion, and opens a new field to the exertions of a succeeding age.

About 1231, he sculptured at Bologna the urn of San Domenico, and from this, as a remarkable event, he was named "Niccola of the Urn." He afterwards executed in a much superior style, the Last Judgment, for the cathedral of Orvieto, and the pulpit in the church of San Giovanni, at Pisa; works that demonstrate to the world that design, invention, and composition, received from him a new existence. He was succeeded by Arnolfo Florentino, his scholar, the sculptor of the tomb of Boniface VIII. in San Pietro at Rome; and by his son Giovanni, who executed the monuments of Urban IV. and of Benedict IX. in Perugia. He afterwards completed the great altar of San Donato, at Arezzo, the cost of which was thirty thousand gold florins; besides many other works which remain in Naples and in several cities of Tuscany. Andrea Pisano was his associate, and probably also his disciple in Perugia, who, after establishing himself in Florence, ornamented with statues the cathedral and the church of San Giovanni in that city; and in twenty-two years finished the great gate of bronze "to which we are indebted for all that is excellent, difficult, [Pg 7]or beautiful in the other two, which are the workmanship of succeeding artists." He was, in fact, the founder of that great school that successively produced Orcagna, Donatello, and the celebrated Ghiberti, who fabricated those gates for the same church, which Michelagnolo pronounced worthy to form the entrance of Paradise. After Andrea, we may notice Giovanni Balducci, of Pisa, whose era, country, and style, all lead us to suppose him one of the same school. He was an excellent artist, and was employed by Castruccio, Lord of Lucca, and by Azzone Visconti, Prince of Milan; where he flourished, and left, among other monuments of his art, the tomb of San Pietro Martire, at S. Eustorgio, which is so highly praised by Torre, by Lattuada, and by various other learned illustrators of Milanese antiquities.[35] Two eminent artists, natives of Siena, proceeded from the school of Gio. Pisano, namely, the two brothers, Agnolo and Agostino, who are greatly commended by Vasari as improvers of the art. Whoever has seen the sepulchre of Guido, bishop of Arezzo, which is decorated with an infinity of statues and [Pg 8]basso-relievos, representing passages of his life, will not only find reason to admire in them the design, which was the work of Giotto, but the execution of the sculpture. The brothers also executed many of their own designs in Orvieto, in Siena, and in Lombardy, where they brought up several pupils, who for a long period pursued their manner, and diffused it over Italy.

To the improvement of sculpture succeeded that of mosaic, through the efforts of another Tuscan, belonging to the order of minor friars, named Fra Jacopo, or Fra Mino da Turrita, from a place in the territory of Siena. It is not known whether he was instructed in his art by the Romans or by the Greek workers in mosaic,[36] but it is well ascertained that he very far surpassed them. On examining what remains of his works in Santa Maria Maggiore at Rome, one can hardly be persuaded that it is the production of so rude an age, did not history constrain us to believe it. It appears probable that he took the ancients for his models, and deduced his rules from the more chaste [Pg 9]specimens of mosaic, still remaining in several of the Roman churches, the design of which is less crude, the attitudes less forced, and the composition more skilful, than were exhibited by the Greeks who ornamented the church of San Marco, at Venice. Mino surpassed them in every thing. From 1225, when he executed, however feebly, the mosaic of the tribune of the church of San Giovanni, at Florence, he was considered at the head of the living artists in mosaic.[37] He merited this praise much more by his works at Rome, and it appears that he long maintained his reputation. Vasari has not been sufficiently just to the fame of Turrita, in noticing him only casually in the life of Tafi, but the verses he recites, and the commissions he mentions, demonstrate how greatly Turrita was esteemed by his contemporaries. It is maintained that he was also a painter, but this is a mistake which will be cleared up in the Sienese school, and both there and elsewhere I shall question the authority of any author who either greatly commends or underrates him.

From a deficiency of specimens, like those above recorded, painting long remained in a more rude state than mosaic, and was very far behind sculpture. But we must not imagine, that at the birth of Cimabue, in 1240, the race of artists was entirely extinct, as erroneously asserted by Vasari: [Pg 10]this must be deemed an exaggeration, for he himself has recounted several sculptors, architects, and painters then living; and the general scope of his less cautious expressions, against which so many writers have inveighed, and still continue to declaim, favours this opinion. I shall be constrained to advert, in almost every book, to their accusations, and to produce the names of the artists who then lived. I shall commence with those who then flourished in Tuscany. The city of Pisa, at this time, had not only painters, but a school for each of the fine arts[38]. The distinguished Signor Morrona, who has illustrated the Pisan antiquities, deduces its origin immediately from Greece. The Pisans, already very powerful by sea and land, having resolved in 1063 to erect the vast fabric of their cathedral, had drawn thither artists in miniature, and other painters, at the same time with Buschetto the architect, and these men educated pupils for the city. The Greeks at that time were but ill qualified to instruct, for they knew little. Their first pupils in Pisa seem to have been a few anonymous artists, some of whose miniatures and rude paintings are still in existence. A parchment, containing the exultet, as usually sung on Sabbato Santo, is in the cathedral, and we may here and there observe, painted on it, figures in miniature, with plants and animals: it is a relique of the early part of the twelfth century, yet a specimen of art not altogether barbarous. There are likewise some [Pg 11]other paintings of that century in the same cathedral, containing figures of our Lady, with the holy infant on her right arm: they are rude, but the progress of the same school may be traced from them to the time of Giunta. This artist lately received a fine eulogium, among other illustrious Pisans, from Signor Tempesta, and he was fully entitled to it from the more early historians. His country possesses none of his undoubted pictures, except a crucifixion with his name, which is believed to be among his earliest productions, a print from which may be found in the third volume of Pisa Illustrata. He executed better pictures in Assisi, where he was invited to paint by Frat' Elia di Cortona, superior of the Minori, about the year 1230. From thence we are furnished with notices of his education, which is thus described by P. Angeli, the Historian of that cathedral: "Juncta Pisanus ruditer à Græcis instructus, primus ex Italis, artem apprehendit circa An. Sal. 1210." In the church of the Angioli there is a better preserved work of the same master; it is a crucifixion, painted on a wooden cross; on the lateral edges and upper surface of which our Lady is represented, with two other half-length figures, and underneath the remains of an inscription are legible, which having copied on the spot, I do not hesitate to publish with its deficiencies now supplied:

ivnta pisanus ivntini me Fecit.

[Pg 12]I supply Juntini, because Signor da Morrona asserts,[39] that about this time, a Giunta da Giuntino is mentioned in the records of Pisa, whom by the aid of the Assisi inscription, I conjecture to be the painter we have now under notice. The figures are considerably less than life; the design is dry, the fingers excessively long, but these are vitia non hominum sed temporum; in short, this piece shews a knowledge of the naked figure, an expression of pain in the heads, and a disposition of the drapery, greatly superior to the efforts of the Greeks, his contemporaries. The handling of his colours is strong, although the flesh inclines to that of bronze; the local tints are judiciously varied, the chiaroscuro even shews some art, and the whole is not inferior, except in the proportions, to crucifixions with similar half figures usually ascribed to Cimabue. He painted at Assisi another crucifixion, which is now lost, to which may be added, a portrait of Frat' Elia, with this inscription, "F. Helias fecit fieri. Jesu Christe pie miserere precantis Heliæ. Juncta Pisanus me pinxit, An. D. 1236. Indit. IX." The inscription has been preserved by P. Wadingo in his annals of the Franciscan order for that year, and the historian describes the crucifixion as affabre pictum. The fresco works of Giunta were executed in the great church of the Franciscans, and according to Vasari he was there assisted by certain[Pg 13] Greeks. Some busts and history pieces still remain in the gallery and the contiguous chapels, among which is the crucifixion of San Pietro, noticed in the Etruria Pittrice. Some believe that those paintings have been here and there injudiciously retouched, and this may serve to excuse the drawing, which may have been altered in many places, but the feebleness of the colouring cannot be denied. When they are compared with what Cimabue executed there about forty years afterwards, it seems that Giunta was not sufficiently forcible in this species of painting; perhaps he might have improved, but he is not mentioned after 1235; and it is conjectured that he died while yet a young man, at a distance from his native country. I am induced to believe so from observing, that Giunta di Giuntino is noticed in the records of Pisa, in the early part of that century, but not afterwards; and that Cimabue was sent for to paint the altar-piece and portrait of San Francesco of Pisa, about the year 1265, before he went to Assisi. It is more likely that Giunta would have executed this, had he returned home from that city, where he had seen and perhaps painted the portrait of the Holy Father.[40]

[Pg 14]From this school the art is believed to have spread in these early times over all Tuscany, although it must not be forgotten that there were miniature painters there as well as in the other parts of Italy, who, transferring their art from small to large works, like Franco of Bologna, betook themselves, and incited others to painting on walls and on panel. Whatever we may choose to believe, Siena, at this period, could boast her Guido, who painted from the year 1221, but not entirely in the manner of the Greeks, as we shall find under the Sienese school. Lucca possessed in 1235 one Bonaventura Berlingieri. A San Francesco painted by him still exists in the castle of Guiglia, not far from Modena, which is described as a work of great merit for that age.[41] There lived another artist about the year 1288, known by his production of a crucifixion which he left at San Cerbone, a short distance from the city with this inscription; "Deodatus filius Orlandi de Luca me pinxit, A. D. 1288." Margaritone of Arezzo was a disciple and imitator of the Greeks, and by all accounts he must have been born several years before Cimabue. He painted on canvas, and if we may credit Vasari, made the first discovery of a method of rendering his pictures more durable, and less liable to cracking. He extended canvas on the panel, laying it down with a strong [Pg 15]glue, made of shreds of parchment, and covered the whole with a ground of gypsum, before he began to paint. He formed diadems and other ornaments of plaster, giving them relief from gilding and burnishing them. Some of his crucifixions remain in Arezzo, and one of them is in the church of the Holy Cross at Florence, near another by Cimabue; both are in the old manner, and not so different in point of merit, but that Margaritone, however rude, may be pronounced as well entitled as Cimabue to the name of painter.

While the neighbouring cities had made approaches towards the new style, Florence, if we are to credit Vasari and his followers, was without a painter; but subsequent to the year 1250 some Greek painters were invited to Florence by the rulers of the city, for the express purpose of restoring the art of painting in Florence, where it was rather wholly lost than degenerated. To this assertion I have to oppose the learned dissertation of Doctor Lami, which I have just commended. Lami observes, that mention is made in the archives of the chapters of one Bartolommeo who painted in 1236, and that the picture of the Annunciation of our Lady, which is held in the highest veneration in the church of the Servi, was painted about that period. It is retouched in some parts of the drapery; it possesses, however, much originality, and for that age is respectably executed. When I prepared my first edition I had no knowledge of the work of Lami, which was not then published, [Pg 16]and hence was unable to proceed further than to refute the opinion of those who ascribed this sacred figure to Cavallini, a pupil of Giotto. I reflected that the style of Cavallini appeared considerably more modern in his other works which I had examined at Assisi, and at Florence; yet, various artists whom I consulted, and among others Signor Pacini, who had copied the Annunciation, disputed with me this diversity of style. I further adduced the form of the characters written there in a book, Ecce Virgo concipiet, &c. which resemble those of the thirteenth century; nor have they that profusion of lines which distinguishes the German, commonly denominated the Gothic character, which Cavallini and other pupils of Giotto always employed. I rejoice that the opinion of Lami confirms my conjecture, and stamps its authenticity; and it seems to me highly probable that the Bartolommeo, whom he indicates, is the individual to whom the memorandums of the Servi ascribe the production of their Annunciation about the year 1250. The same religious fraternity preserve, among their ancient paintings, a Magdalen, which appears from the design and inscription, a work of the thirteenth century; and we might instance several coeval pictures that still exist in their chapter house, and in other parts of the city.[42]

[Pg 17]Having inserted these notices of ancient painters, and some others, which will be found scattered throughout the work, I turn to Vasari, and to the accusations laid to his charge. He is defended by Monsignor Bottari in a note at the conclusion of the life of Margaritone, taken from Baldinucci. He affirms, from his own observation, "That though each city had some painters, they were all as contemptible and barbarous as Margaritone, who, if compared to Cimabue, is unworthy of the name of painter." The examples already cited do not permit me to assent to this proposition; even Bottari himself will scarcely allow me to do so, as he observes, in another note on the life of Cimabue, "That he was the first who abandoned the manner of the Greeks, or at least who avoided it more completely than any other artist." But if others, such as Guido, Bonaventura, and Giunta, had freed themselves from it before his time, why are they not recorded as the first, in point of time, by Vasari? Did not their [Pg 18]example open the new path to Cimabue? Did they not afford a ray of light to reviving art? Were they not in painting what the two Guidos were in poetry, who, however much surpassed by Dante, are entitled to the first place in a history of our poets? Vasari would therefore have acted better had he followed the example of Pliny, who commences with the rude designers, Ardices of Corinth, and Telephanes of Sicyon; he then minutely narrates the invention of Cleophantes the Corinthian, who coloured his designs with burnt earth; next, that of Eumarus the Athenian, who first represented the distinction of age and sex. Then comes that of Cimon of Cleonæ, who first expressed the various attitudes of the head, and aimed at representing the truth, even in the joints of the fingers and the folds of the garments. Thus, the merits of each city, and every artist, appear in ancient history; and it seems to me just, that the same should be done, as far as possible, in modern history. These observations may, at present, suffice in regard to a subject that has been made a source of complaint and dispute among many writers.

Nevertheless it cannot be denied that there is no city to which painting is more indebted than to Florence, nor any name more proper to mark an epoch, whatever may be the opinion of Padre della Valle,[43] than that of Cimabue. The artists [Pg 19]whom I have before mentioned had few followers; their schools, with the exception of that of Siena, languished, and were either gradually dispersed, or united themselves to that of Florence. This school in a short time eclipsed every other, and has continued to flourish in a proud succession of artists, uninterrupted even down to our own days. Let us then trace it from its commencement.

Giovanni Cimabue, descended from illustrious ancestors,[44] was both an architect and a painter. That he was the pupil of Giunta is conjectured in our times, only because the Greeks were less skilful [Pg 20]than the Italians. It ought to be a previous question, whether the supposed scholar and master ever resided in the same place, which it would seem, after the observations before adduced, can scarcely be admitted.[45] It appears from history, that he learnt the art from some Greeks who were invited to Florence, and painted in S. Maria Novella, according to Vasari. It is an error to assert that they painted in the chapel of the Gondi, which was built a century after, together with the church; it was certainly in another chapel, under the church, where those Greek paintings were covered with plaister, and their place supplied by others, the work of a painter of the thirteenth century.[46]

Not long since a part of the new plaister fell down, and some of the very rude figures of those [Pg 21]Greek painters became again visible. It is probable that Cimabue imitated them in early life, and perhaps at that time painted the S. Francesco and the little legends which surround it in the church of S. Croce. But, if I mistake not, it is doubtful who painted this picture; at least it neither has the manner nor the colouring of the works of Cimabue, even when young. I may refer to the S. Cecilia, with the implements of her martyrdom, in the church dedicated to that Saint, and which was afterwards removed to that of San Stefano, a picture greatly superior to that of S. Francesco.

However this may be, like other Italians of his age, Giovanni got the better of his Greek education, which seems to have consisted in one artist copying another without ever adding any thing to the practice of his master. He consulted nature, he corrected in part the rectilinear forms of his design, he gave expression to the heads, he folded the drapery, and he grouped the figures with much greater art than the Greeks. His talent did not consist in the graceful. His Madonnas have no beauty, his angels in the same piece have all the same forms. Wild as the age in which he lived, he succeeded admirably in heads full of character, especially in those of old men, impressing an indescribable degree of bold sublimity, which the moderns have not been able greatly to surpass. Vast and inventive in conception, he executed large compositions, and expressed them in grand proportions. His two great altar-pieces of the Madonna, [Pg 22]at Florence, the one in the church of the Dominicans, the other in that of the Trinity, with the grand figures of the prophets, do not give so good an idea of his style as his fresco paintings in the church of Assisi, where he appears truly magnificent for the age in which he lived. In these histories of the Old and New Testament, such as remain, he appears an Ennius, who, amid the rudeness of Roman epic poetry, gave flashes of genius not displeasing to a Virgil. Vasari speaks of him with admiration for the vigour of his colouring, and justly so of the pictures in the ceiling. They are still in a good state of preservation, and although some of the figures of Christ, and of the Virgin in particular, retain much of the Greek manner, others representing the Evangelists, and Doctors instructing the Monks of the Franciscan Order, from their chairs, exhibit an originality of conception and arrangement that does not appear in contemporary works. The colouring is bold, the proportions are gigantic even in the distance, and not badly preserved; in short, painting may there be said to have almost advanced beyond what the mosaic worker at first attempted to do. The whole of these, indeed, are steps in the progress of the human intellect not to be recounted in one history, and form beyond question the distinguishing excellence of the Florentine artist, when put into competition with either the Pisans or the Sienese. Nor do I perceive how, after the authority of Vasari, who assigns the work of [Pg 23]the ceiling to Cimabue, confirmed by the tradition of five centuries, P. della Valle is justified at this day, in ascribing that painting to Giotto, a painter of a milder genius. If he was induced to prefer other artists to Cimabue, because they gave the eyes less fierceness, and the nose a finer shape, these circumstances appear to me too insignificant to degrade Cimabue from that rank which he enjoys in impartial history.[47] He has moreover asserted, that Cimabue neither promoted nor injured the Florentine school by his productions, a harsh judgment, in the opinion of those who have perused so many old writers belonging to the city who have celebrated his merits, and of those who have studied the works of the Florentine artists before his time, and seen how greatly Cimabue surpasses them.

If Cimabue was the Michelangiolo of that age, [Pg 24]Giotto was the Raffaello. Painting, in his hands, became so elegant, that none of his school, nor of any other, till the time of Masaccio, surpassed, or even equalled him, at least in gracefulness of manner. Giotto was born in the country, and was bred a shepherd; but he was likewise born a painter; and continually exercised his genius in delineating some object or other around him. A sheep which he had drawn on a flat stone, after nature, attracted the notice of Cimabue, who by chance passed that way: he demanded leave of his father to take him to Florence, that he might afford him instruction; confident, that in him, he was about to raise up a new ornament to the art. Giotto commenced by imitating his master, but quickly surpassed him. An Annunciation, in the possession of the Fathers of Badia, is one of his earliest works. The style is somewhat dry, but shews a grace and diligence, that announced the improvement we afterwards discern. Through him symmetry became more chaste, design more pleasing, and colouring softer than before. The meagre hands, the sharp pointed feet, and staring eyes, remnants of the Grecian manner, all acquired more correctness under him.

It is not possible to assign the cause of this transition, as we are able to do in the case of later painters; but it is reasonable to conclude that it was not wholly produced, even by the almost divine genius of this artist, unaided by adventitious circumstances. There is no necessity for sending [Page 25]him, as some have done, to be instructed at Pisa; his history does not warrant it, and an historian is not a diviner. Much less ought we to refer him to the school of F. Jacopo da Turrita, and give him Memmi and Lorenzetti for fellow pupils, who are not known to have been in Rome when F. Jacopo was distinguished for his best manner. But P. della Valle thinks he discovers in Giotto's first painting, the style and composition of Giunta, (Preface to Vasari, p. 17,) and in the pictures of Giotto at S. Croce, in Florence, which "he has meditated upon a hundred times," he recognizes F. Jacopo, and finds "reason for opining" that he was the master of Giotto. (Vide tom. ii. p. 78.) When a person becomes attached to a system, he often sees and opines what no one else can possibly see or opine. In the same manner Baldinucci wished to refer to the school of Giotto, one Duccio da Siena, Vital di Bologna, and many others, as will be noticed; and he too argues upon a resemblance of style, which, to say truth, neither I nor any one I know can perceive. If I cannot then agree with Baldinucci, can I value his imitator? and more particularly as it is no question here of Vitale, or any other artist of mediocrity, almost unknown to history, but of Giotto himself. Is it likely, with a genius such as his, and born in an age not wholly barbarous, with the advantages enjoyed under Cimabue, especially in point of colouring, that he would take Giunta for his model, or listen to the instruction of Fra Mino, in order to excel his [Pg 26]master. Besides, what advantage can be obtained from thus disturbing the order of chronology, violating history, and rejecting the tradition of Giotto's native school, in order to account for his new style?

It is most probable that, as the great Michelangiolo, by modelling and studying the antique, quickly surpassed in painting his master, Ghirlandaio, the same occurred with regard to Giotto. It is at least known that he was also a sculptor, and that his models were preserved till the time of Lorenzo Ghiberti. Nor was he without good examples. There were specimens of antique sculpture at Florence, which may be yet seen near the cathedral, (not to mention those which he afterwards saw at Rome); and their merit, then already established by the practice of Niccola and Giovanni of Pisa, could not be unknown to Giotto, to whom nature had granted such a taste for the exquisite and the beautiful. When one contemplates some of his heads of men; some of his forms, proportioned far beyond the littleness of his contemporaries; his taste in flowing, natural, and becoming drapery; some of his attitudes after the manner of the antique, breathing grace and tranquillity, it is scarce possible to doubt that he derived no small advantage from ancient sculpture. His very defects discover this. A good writer (the author of the Guide of Bologna) remarks in him a style which partakes of statuary, contrary to the practice of contemporary foreign artists; a circumstance very common, as we shall observe, under [Pg 27]the Roman school, to those painters who designed from statues. I shall be told that he probably derived assistance from the sculpture of the two Pisani; especially as Baldinucci has discovered a strong resemblance between his style and that of Giovanni, and some others also have noticed the circular compositions, the proportions and casting of the drapery which one perceives in the basso-relievos of the early Pisan school. I would not deny that he also availed himself of them; but it was perhaps in the manner that Raffaello profited by Michelangiolo, whose example taught him to imitate the antique. Nor let it be objected to me that the dryness of the design, the artifice of concealing the feet by long garments, the inaccuracy of the extremities, and similar defects, betray rather a Pisan than an Attic origin. This only proves, that when he became the founder of a style, he did not aim at giving it the perfection of which it was susceptible, and which it could hardly be expected to obtain amid the numerous avocations in which he appears to have been engaged; in short, I cannot persuade myself, that without the imitation of the antique, he could in so short a time have made such a progress, as to have been admired even by Bonarruoti himself.[48]

The first histories of the patriarch S. Francesco, at Assisi, near the paintings of his master, shew how greatly he excelled him. As his work advanced [Pg 28]he became more correct; and towards the conclusion, he already manifested a design more varied in the countenances, and improved in the extremities; the features are more animated, the attitudes more ingenious, and the landscape more natural. To one who examines them with attention, the composition appears the most surprising; a branch of the art, in which he seems not only to surpass himself, but even sometimes appears unrivalled. In many historical pictures, he often aimed at ornamenting with buildings, which he painted of a red, or azure, or a yellow, the colours employed in staining houses, or of a dazzling white, in imitation of Parian marble. One of his best pictures in this work is that of a thirsty person, to the expression of which scarcely any thing could be added by the animating pencil of Raffaello d'Urbino himself. With similar skill he painted in the inferior church, and this is perhaps the best performance which has reached our times, though specimens remain in Ravenna, in Padua, in Rome, in Florence, and in Pisa. It is assuredly the most spirited of all, for he has there, with the most poetical images, depicted the saint shunning vice, and a follower of virtue; it is my opinion that he here gave the first example of symbolical painting, so familiar to his best followers.

His inventions, which, according to the custom of the age, were employed in scripture history, are repeated by him in nearly the same style in several [Pg 29]places; and are generally most pleasing when the proportions of the figures are the least. His small pictures of the Acts of St. Peter and St. Paul, with some representations of our Saviour, and of various saints, in the sacristy of the Vatican, appear most elegant and highly finished miniatures; as likewise are some others in the church of the Holy Cross at Florence, taken from scriptural history, or from the life of St. Francis. The real art of portrait painting commenced with him; to whom we are indebted for correct likenesses of Dante, of Brunetto Latini, and of Corso Donati. It was indeed before attempted, but, according to Vasari, no one had succeeded. He also improved the art of working in mosaic; a piece wrought by him in the Navicella, or ship of St. Peter, may be seen in the portico of that cathedral; but it has been so much repaired, that now the design is wholly different, and appears the work of another artist. It is believed that the art of miniature painting, so much prized in that age for the ornamenting of missals, received great improvement from him.[49] Architecture undoubtedly did; the [Pg 30]admirable belfry of the cathedral of Florence is the work of Giotto.

After collecting all the notices he could of the scholars of Cimabue and Giotto, Baldinucci endeavours to make us believe that all the benefits which accrued to painting, sculpture, and architecture in Italy, and even throughout the world, came directly or indirectly from Florence. The following is the manner in which he expresses himself in his first pages, with the proofs which he adduces. "During my researches, I have ascertained beyond all doubt the truth of an opinion I always considered as indisputable, and which is not controverted by respectable ancient historians; that these arts in the first place were restored by Cimabue and Giotto, and afterwards diffused over the world by their disciples; and I conceived the idea of making it evident by the help of a tree, which at a glance might shew their progress from the earliest to the present times." He published the first small part of this tree, just as I exhibit it to the reader; and promised in each succeeding volume to give another part, that would establish the connexion with [Pg 31]the principal root (Cimabue), or with the branches derived from it; a promise from which he adroitly delivered himself; therefore we are without any more than these few branches that follow:

Illustration: Chart

But with all his pains he has not satisfied the public expectation, as is observed by Signor Piacenza, who published the splendid Turin edition of Baldinucci as far as the life of Franciabigio, accompanied with very useful notes and dissertations.[50] It is alleged, that to make this tree fair and flourishing, he has inserted in it branches dexterously stolen from his neighbours, who have not failed to reclaim their property. I rejoice to write in an age when the opinions of Baldinucci have few followers even in Florence. The excellent work entitled "Etruria Pittrice," composed and applauded in that city in proportion as it is free from the prejudice of former times, proves this sufficiently. Following in like manner the light of history and [Pg 32]of reason, unswayed by party spirit, I shall in the first place observe, that among all the scholars of Cimabue, I do not find any named by Vasari, but Giotto and Arnolfo di Lapo, concerning whom it is certain that the historian was in error. Lapo and Arnolfo are the names of two different sculptors, disciples of Niccolò Pisano, who, being already versed in the art, assisted him in 1266 to adorn with history pieces the pulpit of the cathedral at Siena, an authentic document of which remains in the archives of the work.[51] Thus this branch of the tree belongs to Pisa, unless Cimabue have a claim to it, by contributing in some degree to the instruction of Arnolfo in the principles of architecture. Andrea Tafi was the pupil of Apollonius, a Greek artist, and assisted him in the church of St. John, in some pieces of mosaic, from scriptural history, which, according to Vasari, are without invention and without design; but he improved as he proceeded, for the last part of the work was less despicable than the beginning. Cimabue is not named in these works, nor in what Tafi afterwards executed without assistance; and as he was old when Cimabue began to teach, I cannot conceive how he can be reckoned the scholar of the latter, or a branch from that root. Gaddo Gaddi, says Vasari, was contemporary with Cimabue, and was his intimate friend, as well as that of Tafi; through their friendship he received [Pg 33]hints for his improvement in mosaic. At first he followed the manner of the Greeks, mingled with that of Cimabue. After long working in this manner, he went to Rome, and there improved his style, while employed on the façade of S. Maria Maggiore, by his own genius, assisted in my opinion by imitating the ancient workers in mosaic. He also painted some altar-pieces, and I saw at Florence one of his crucifixions, of a square figure, and very respectable workmanship. This circumstance induces me to consider Gaddo, in some measure, among the imitators of Cimabue, but not one of his pupils; for it appears to me unjust, should a contemporary communicate with an artist either as a friend, or for the sake of advice on the art, to set him immediately down as a branch from that stock. Vasari relates of Ugolino Senese, that he was a tenacious follower of the Greek style, and inclined more to imitate Cimabue than Giotto. He does not on this account, indeed, expressly say, that he had been his scholar; he rather hints that he had other instructors at Siena, for which reason it will be better to consider him under that school, there being no reason to doubt that he belonged to it. In that of Bologna we should also class Oderigo, who, as a miniature painter, was more likely to employ some other master than a painter in fresco like Cimabue. In the mean time it is useful to reflect, that were the method of Baldinucci to be pursued, nothing authentic would remain in a history of painting; and the[Pg 34] schools of the early masters would increase beyond all limits, were the scholars of each master to be confounded with his friends, acquaintances, and contemporaries, who paid attention to his maxims.

It is still more strange to peruse the account of the connexion between the first and secondary branches of the tree, or if one may use the expression, between the children and grandchildren of Cimabue. There is nothing natural in their succession, and the labour is wholly useless which derives the professors of every fine art, of whatever country, past, present, and to come, from one individual. F. Ristoro and F. Sisto were eminent architects, who rebuilt the grand bridges of the Carraja and the Holy Trinity, about 1264, when Cimabue was twenty-four years of age. Baldinucci writes of both, that they were, perhaps, disciples or imitators of Arnolfo, from the state of their works. But how comes he to found on a perhaps, what he, a little before, had vaunted as a clear demonstration? And then, on what does this perhaps rest? Is it not more probable that Arnolfo, and Cimabue himself, imitated them? That Fra Mino da Turrita should appear in his tree as a scholar of Tafi, and as posterior to Cimabue, is no less absurd. In 1225, a date omitted by Baldinucci, Mino wrought in mosaic at Florence, fifteen years before Cimabue was born. In his old age he commenced a similar work in the cathedral of Pisa, "in the same style in which he had executed his other labours," says Vasari, who adds,[Pg 35] that Tafi and Gaddi (both his inferiors in age and reputation) assisted him. The work was "little more than begun," from which we may infer that they were not long associated. It seems to me extraordinary how Baldinucci could assert, "it appears that Vasari imagined that Mino was the pupil of Andrea Tafi," which is contrary to fact: instead of the "clear demonstration," which he promised, he has amused us with "it appears," which is evident only to himself. At length, wishing to make us believe that Giovanni Pisano the sculptor is a pupil of Giotto the painter, he again turns to Vasari, from whom he brings evidence that Giovanni, having completed his work in the cathedral of Arezzo, and being then established at Orvieto, came to Florence to examine the architecture of S. Maria del Fiore, and to become acquainted with Giotto: he further notices two pieces which he executed at Florence, the one a Madonna between two little angels, over the gate of the cathedral; the other a small baptism of St. John; this happened in 1297. Here Baldinucci hazards a reflection, that "if one compares the other works of this artist with the above mentioned figure of the Virgin Mary ... we may recognize in it such improvement ... and so much of the manner of Giotto, that there cannot remain a doubt but he is to be reckoned a disciple of this master, both in respect of his imitation of him, and his observance of his precepts, which he followed during so many years in the exercise [Pg 36]of the profession." Every attentive reader will discover here not a clear demonstration of the assumption, but a mass of difficulties. He compares this to the other figures made by Pisano at Florence, before he was acquainted with Giotto; and yet this was the first which he there executed. He wishes to make Giovanni, already sixty years of age, an imitator of Giotto, then twenty-one, when it is much more probable that Giotto would follow him, the best sculptor of the age. There is no foundation for the supposed instruction which Giovanni received from Giotto, who, shortly after, departed for Rome; where, after some other works, he executed the mosaic of the boat in 1298. In short, the whole question of preceptorship rests on no better authority than a single figure. How great are the inconsistencies in this account, and how absurd the explanations and repetitions which are offered! What further shall we say? Is it not lamentable thus to see so many old and honoured artists compelled, in spite of history, to become pupils to masters so much younger and less celebrated than themselves? I know that various writers have censured Baldinucci as an historian of doubtful fidelity, artful in concealing or misrepresenting facts, captious in expounding the opinions of Vasari, and more intent on captivating than instructing his readers. I am not ignorant that his system was controverted even in his own country, as appears from his work published there, entitled Delle Veglie; and that Signor Marmi, a learned Florentine, strongly suspected his [Pg 37]fair dealing, of which we shall adduce a proof under the Sienese school. Nevertheless I take into account that he wrote in an age less informed in regard to the history of painting, and that he defended an opinion then much more common in Italy than at present. He had promised Cardinal Leopoldo de' Medici to demonstrate it incontrovertibly for the honour of his country, and of the house of Medici, and had received advice and assistance from him in order to encourage him to defend it, and to refute the contrary opinion. Under the necessity of answering Malvasia,[52] a severe writer against Vasari, and of proving his assertion, that the people of Bologna, no less than those of Siena, of Pisa, and other places, had learned the art from the Florentines, he formed a false system, the absurdity of which he did not immediately perceive; but he at last discovered it, as Signor Piacenza observes, and succeeded in escaping from its trammels. The most ingenious builders of systems have subjected themselves very frequently to the same disadvantage, and the history of literature abounds with similar instances.

Having examined this sophism, I cannot subscribe to the opinion of Baldinucci; but shall comprise my own opinion in two propositions:—The[Pg 38] first is, That the improvement of painting is not due to Florence alone. It has been remarked, that the career of human genius, in the progress of the fine arts, is the same in every country. When the man is dissatisfied with what the child learned, he gradually passes from the ruder elements to what is less so, and from thence, to diligence and precision; he afterwards advances to the grand, and the select, and at length attains facility of execution.

Such was the progress of sculpture among the Grecians, and such has been that of painting in our own country. When Correggio advanced from laborious minuteness to grandeur, it was not necessary for him to know that such was the progress of Raffaello, or, at any rate, to have witnessed it: in like manner, nothing more was wanting to the painters of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, than to learn that hitherto they had pursued a wrong path; this was sufficient to guide them into a better path, and it was not then untried; for sculpture had already improved design. We have, in fact, seen the Pisani, and their scholars, preceding the Florentines; and, as their precursors, diffusing a new system of design over Italy. It would be injustice to overlook them in the improvement of painting, in which design is of such importance; or to suppose that they did not signally contribute to its improvement. But if Italy be indebted solely to Cimabue and Giotto for its progress, all the good artists should have come from Florence. And yet, in the cathedral of Orvieto (to instance the [Pg 39]finest work, perhaps, of that age), we find, from the beginning of the fourteenth century, many artists from various other places, who would not have been called to ornament such a building, had they not previously enjoyed the reputation of able masters.[53] Add to this, if we are to derive all painters from those two masters, every style of painting should resemble that of their Florentine disciples. But on examining the old paintings of Siena, of Venice, of Bologna, and of Parma, they are found to be dissimilar in idea, in choice of colouring, and in taste of composition. All, then, are not derived from Florence.

My second proposition is, That no people then excelled in, nor contributed, by example, so much to the progress of art as the Florentines. Rival cities may boast artists of merit, even in the first era of painting; their writers may deny the fame of Giotto and his disciples; but truth is more powerful than declamation. Giotto was the father of the new method of painting, as Boccaccio was called the father of the new species of prose composition. After the time of the latter, any subject could be elegantly treated of in prose; after the former, painting could express all subjects with propriety. A Simon da Siena, a Stefano da Firenze, a Pietro Laurati, added charms to the art; but they and others owe to Giotto the transition from the old to a new manner. He essayed it in Tuscany, [Pg 40]and while yet a young man, greatly improved it, to the general admiration of all classes. He did not leave Assisi until called to Rome by Boniface VIII., nor did he take up his residence at Avignon, until invited to France by Clement V. Before going there, he was induced to stop at Padua, and on returning some years after, he again resided at the same place. At that time many parts of Italy were under a republican form of government; but abounded in potent families, that bore sway in various quarters, and which, while adorning their country, aimed at its subjugation. Giotto, beyond every other, was in universal request, both at home and abroad. The Polentani of Ravenna, the Malatesti of Rimino, the Estensi of Ferrara, the Visconti of Milan, the Scala of Verona, Castruccio of Lucca, and also Robert, king of Naples, sought to engage him with eagerness, and for some period retained him in their service. Milan, Urbino, Arezzo, and Bologna, were desirous to possess his works; and Pisa, that, in her Campo Santo, afforded an opportunity for the choicest artists of Tuscany to vie with one another,[54] as of old they contended at Corinth, [Pg 41]and in Delphi, [55] obtained from him those historic paintings from the life of Job, which are greatly admired, though they are amongst his early productions. When Giotto was no more, similar applause was bestowed on his disciples: cities contended for the honour of inviting them, and they were even more highly estimated than the native artists themselves. We shall find Cavallini and Capanna in the Roman School; in that of Bologna the two Faentini, Pace, and Ottaviano, with Guglielmo da Forli; Menabuoi at Padua; Memmi, who was either a scholar or assistant of Giotto, at Avignon; and we shall find traces of the successors of the same school throughout all Italy. This work will indicate the names of some of them; it will point out the style of others; without including the great number who, in every province, have been withdrawn from our view, for the purpose of replacing old pictures with others in the new manner. Giotto thus became the model for students during the whole of the fourteenth century, as was Raffaello in the sixteenth, and the Caracci in the subsequent century: nor can I find a fourth manner that has been so generally received in Italy as that of those three schools. There have been some who, from the inspiration of their own genius, had adopted a new manner, but they were little known or admired beyond the precincts of their own country. Of the Florentines alone can it be asserted, [Pg 42]that they diffused the modern style from one extremity of Italy to the other: in the restoration of painting, though not all, yet the chief praise belongs to them; and this forms my second proposition.

I proceed more willingly to the sequel of my work, having escaped from that part of it in which, amid the contradictory sentiments of authors, I have often suspended my pen, mindful of the maxim, Historia nihil falsi audeat dicere, nihil veri non audeat. Resuming the subject of Florence, after the death of her great artist in 1336, I find painters had there prodigiously multiplied, as I shall presently, from undoubted testimony, proceed to prove. Not long afterwards, that is, in 1349, the painters associated themselves into a religious fraternity, which they denominated the Society of St. Luke, first established in S. Maria Nuova, but afterwards in S. Maria Novella. This was not the first that had arisen in Italy, as Baldinucci affirms: in 1290 there was a company of painters previously established at Venice, of which St. Luke was the patron, the laws of which, it is believed, are still preserved in the church of St. Sophia.[56] But neither this, the Florentine, nor that of Bologna, can be called academies for design; they were only the results of Christian devotion, a sort of school, such as formerly existed, and still exist in many of the arts. They did not consist [Pg 43]of painters alone; these always possessed the most elevated rank; but in the same place were assembled artists "in metal and in wood, whose works partook, more or less, of design;" as is related by Baldinucci, in describing the Florentine association. In that of Venice were comprehended basket-makers, gilders, and the lowest daubers; in that of Bologna were included even saddlers, and scabbard-makers; who were only divided from the painters by means of lawsuits and decisions. That unrefined age did not as yet acknowledge the dignity of painting; it denominated those artists master workmen, whom we now call professors of the art, and it called shops what we name studies. I have often doubted, whether the progress of the arts was so rapid among us as in Greece, because, there, painting, either from the beginning or a very early era, was considered as a liberal art: with us its dignity was much longer in being acknowledged.

He who desires to discover the origin of those associations, will find it in the works composed of different arts then most in use, of which I shall treat somewhat fully, for the sake of illustrating the history. A little above I mentioned basket-makers: at that time, all kinds of furniture, such as cupboards, benches, and chests, were wrought by mechanics, and then painted, especially when intended as the furniture of new married women. Many ancient cabinet pictures have been cut out of such pieces of furniture, and, by this means, preserved [Pg 44]to later ages. As for images on altars, through the whole of the fourteenth century, they were not formed, as at present, on a separate piece from the surrounding ornaments. There were made little altars, or dittici,[57] in many parts of Italy, called Ancone; they first shaped the wood, and laboriously ornamented it with carving. The design was conformed to the Teutonic, or, as it is called, the Gothic architecture, seen in the façades of churches built in that age. The whole work was a load of minuteness, consisting of little tabernacles, pyramids, and niches; and various doors and windows, with semi-circular and pointed arches, were represented on the surface of the panel; a style very characteristic of that period. I have sometimes there observed, in the middle, little statues in mezzo-relievo.[58] Most frequently the painter designed these figures or busts of saints: sometimes there were also prepared various sorts of [Pg 45]little forms, or moulds—formelle—in which to represent histories. Often there was a step added to the little altar, where, in several compartments, were likewise exhibited histories of our Saviour, of the Virgin, and of the martyrs, either real or feigned.[59] Sometimes various compartments were prepared, in which their lives were represented. The carvers in wood were so vain of their craft, that they often inscribed their own names before that of the painter.[60]

Even pictures for rooms were fashioned by the carvers into triangular and square forms, which they surrounded with heavy borders, with rude foliage, lace, or Arabesque ornaments around them. In that age, pictures were rarely committed to canvass alone, though some such are to be seen at Florence, and more among the Venetians and people of Bologna; but panels were most frequently employed. The borders often inclosed portions of [Pg 46]canvass, not unfrequently of parchment, and sometimes of leather, which, in all probability, were prepared by those who usually wrought in such materials; and this is the reason why such artists, and even in some instances saddlers, were sometimes associated with painters.

History informs us that shields for war, or the tournament, and also various equestrian accoutrements, as the saddles and trappings of horses, were ornamented with painting, a custom which was retained till the time of Francia, as Vasari mentions in his life; hence, armourers and saddlers became associated with painters. Among them in like manner might be included those who prepared walls for painting in fresco, and who covered them with a reddish ground, which not unfrequently is still discovered in the flaws. On this colour the figures were designed, and such walls were the cartoons of the old masters. The stucco workers also assisted them in those relieved ornaments we see in fresco paintings. I believe they used moulds in those works, which seem nothing else than globules, flowerets, and little stars, formed with a stamp, such as we see on gilt plaister, on leather, on board, and on playing-cards. On whatever substance they painted, some gold was usually added; with it they ornamented the ground of their pictures, the glories of their saints, their garments, and fringes. Although painters themselves were skilled in such labours, it appears that they sought the assistance of gilders, and therefore gilders [Pg 47]were classed with painters, and like them inscribed works with their names.

This was the practice of Cini and Saracini, just before recorded, and particularly of a native of Ferrara, who, in the pictures of the Vivarini, at Venice, subscribes his name before theirs. (See Zanetti, Pittura Ven. p. 15.) And in the cathedral of Ceneda, below an Incoronation of the Virgin, in which the artist did not care to exhibit himself to posterity, the engraver, already noticed, left the following inscription, which Signor Lorenzo Giustiniani, a Venetian patrician of great taste and cultivation of mind, has very politely communicated to me; "1438, a di 10. Frever Christofalo da Ferara intajo."

Towards the end of the fourteenth century, when the gothic style was disappearing from architecture, the design of the carvers improved, and they began to erect over altars oblong panels, divided by partitions, which were fashioned into pilasters, or small columns, and often between these last feigned gates or windows, so that the ancona or altar bore some resemblance to the façade of a palace or a church; over them was placed a frieze, and above the frieze was a place like a stage with some figures. The saints were placed below, and their histories were painted in the compartments; and often there appeared their histories painted upon some little form, or upon the steps. The partitions were gradually removed, the proportions of the figures enlarged, and the saints were disposed [Pg 48]in a single piece around the throne of our Lord, not so erect as formerly, after the manner of statues, but in different actions and positions, a custom which prevailed even in the sixteenth century. The practice of gilding grounds declined towards the end of the fifteenth century, but it was increased on the garments, and fringes were never so deep as at that period. About the close of that century gold was more sparingly employed, and it was almost wholly abandoned in the following. No little benefit would be conferred upon the art by any one who would undertake to point out with accuracy what were the colours, gums, and other mixtures employed by the Greeks. They were undoubtedly in possession of the best methods transmitted to them by a tradition, which though in some measure corrupted, was confessedly derived from their ancestors. Even subsequent to the invention of oils, their colouring is in some degree deserving of our admiration. In the Medicean Museum there is a Madonna, subscribed with the following Latin inscription, Andreas Rico de Candia pinxit, the forms of which are stupid, the folds inelegant, and the composition coarse; but with all this, the colour is so fresh, vivid, and brilliant, that there is no modern work that would not lose by a comparison; indeed, the colouring is so extremely strong and firm, that when tried with the iron, it does not liquefy, but rather scales off, and breaks in minute portions. The frescos, likewise, of the earliest Greek and Italian painters, [Pg 49]are surprisingly strong, and more particularly in upper than in lower Italy. There are some figures of saints upon the pilasters of the church of San Niccolo, at Trevigi, quite remarkable for their durability, an account of which is given in the first volume of Padre Federici, (p. 188). I have understood from professors that such a degree of consistency must have been produced by a certain portion of wax, which was employed at that period, as will be explained in the subsequent chapter, on the subject of painting in oil. It must, however, be admitted, that we are very little advanced in these inquiries into the ancient methods of preparing colour. Were they once satisfactorily explored, it would prove highly useful in the restoration of ancient pictures, nor superfluous in regard to the adoption of that firm, fused, and lucid colouring, which we shall have occasion to commend in various Lombard and Venetian pictures, and more especially in those of Coreggio.

These observations will not be useless to the connoisseur, who doubts the age of a picture on which there are no characters. Where there are letters he may proceed with still greater certainty. The letters vulgarly called gothic, began to be used after the year 1200, in some places more early than in others; and characters were loaded with a superfluity of lines, through the whole of the fourteenth, until about the middle of the fifteenth century, when the use of the Roman alphabet was [Pg 50]revived. What forms were adopted by artists in subscribing their names, will be more conveniently explained in the course of a few pages further. I have judged it proper to give here a sort of paleology of painting; because inattention to this has been, and still is, a fruitful source of error. The reader, however, may observe, that though the rules here proposed, afford some light to resolve doubtful points, they are not to be considered as infallible and universal, and he may further recollect, that in matters of antiquity nothing is more dangerous and ridiculous, than to form general rules, which a single example may be sufficient to overthrow.

[26] See Tiraboschi, Storia della Litterat. Italiana, towards the end of tom. iv. See also the Dissertation of Lami on the Italian painters and sculptors who flourished from the year 1000 to 1300; in the Supplement to Vinci's Trattato della Pittura, printed at Florence in 1792; and see Moreni, P. iv. p. 108.

[27] See the Oration of Mon. Francesco Carrara Delle Lodi delle belle Arti, Roma, 1758, 4to. with the accompanying Notes, in which the two Bianchini, Marangoni, and Bottari, their illustrators, are cited.

[28] Pointed out to me by Sig. D'Agincourt, a gentleman deeply versed in antiquities of this sort.

[29] There were similar remains in the choir, the design of which I have seen. They were covered over in 1733. Among other curiosities was the portrait of the patriarch Popone, of the Emperor Conrad, and his son Henry; the design, action, and characters, like the mosaics at Rome; executed about the year 1030. See Bartoli, Antichità di Aquileja, p. 369; and Altan, Del vario Stato, &c. p. 5.

[30] The figure of our Lady is retouched; but two miniatures attached to it, are better preserved; the one represents a man, the other a woman: and their drapery is in the costume of that period. The figures are reversed in the engraving of them, which is published.

[31] See P. della Valle in the Preface to Vasari, p. 51.

[32] A few pictures by superior Greek artists, remain, which are very good. Of this number is a Madonna, with a Greek inscription, at the church of S. Maria in Cosmedin at Rome. There is also one at Camerino said to have come from Smyrna; and I know of no Greek picture in Italy better executed or better preserved.

[33] The lateral gate of bronze is of very rude workmanship, as described by the Canon Martini, in his account of that temple, p. 85; and by Sig. da Morrona, it is with much probability ascribed to the hand of Bonanno Pisano. From Vasari's life of Arnalfo, we learn that the same sculptor also executed the great gate of the Primaziale at Pisa, in bronze, about the year 1180, subsequently destroyed by fire. That of Santa Maria Nuova at Monreale, is likewise his. It is described by P. del Giudice, in his account of that church, and bears the name of Bonanno Pisano, with the date 1186. It is as rudely executed as the preceding one at Pisa, as I am assured by the Cavalier Puccini, accurately versed in every branch of the fine arts. If we wish to estimate the merit of Niccola Pisano, we have only to compare these two gates with the specimens which he gave us only a few years afterwards.

[34] Several specimens of similar productions also remain in Sicily, particularly at Mazzerra and Girganti. At Palermo, the tomb of the Empress Constance II. who died in the year 1222, is decorated with an antique sculpture in basso relievo, representing a chase, which is conjectured to represent that of Æneas and Dido, and which is well engraved. See the work entitled, "I Regali Sepolchri del Duomo di Palermo riconosciuti e illustrati. Nap. 1784."

Another specimen of this sort is said to be in the collection of Mr. Blundell, at Ince.

[35] In the new Guide to Milan, Sig. Abate Bianconi observes, "that these are beautiful works, and that nothing superior is to be seen in any work of that age. Vasari, by omitting this very eminent Pisan, and not mentioning these works, although he was according to his own account at Milan, has given reason to believe, that he was not over anxious in his researches." p. 215.

See also Giulini and Verri, as quoted by Sig. da Morrona in tom. i. pp. 199, 200.

[36] The mosaic school subsisted at Rome as early as the eleventh and twelfth centuries. (See Musant. Fax Chronol. pp. 319, 338.) In this the family of the Cosmati acquired great excellence. Adeodato di Cosimo Cosmati employed himself in the church of St. Maria Maggiore, in 1290, (Guide to Rome); and several of the same name exercised their talents in the cathedral of Orvieto. (See Valle Catalogo.) The whole of these are preferred to the Greek mosaic workers, who were at the same period engaged in decorating St. Mark's at Venice. (See Valle's Preface to Vasari, p. 61.)


Sancti Francisci Frater fuit hoc operatus Jacobus in tali præ cunctis arte probatus,

is the inscription on the mosaic.

[38] See Pisa Illustrata of Signor da Morrona, tom. i. p. 224.

[39] Tom. ii. p. 127.

[40] In the sacristy of the Angioli is preserved the most ancient portrait of San Francesco that is extant. It is painted on the panel which served as the saint's couch until the period of his decease, as we learn from the inscription. It is there supposed to be the work of some Greek artist anterior to Giunta.

[41] See Signor Ab. Bettinelli, Risorgimento d' Italia negli studii, nelle arti, ne' costumi dopo il mille, p. 192.

[42] To this list of early painters might perhaps be added the name of Francesco Benani, by whom there is a whole length figure of St. Jerome holding a crucifix in his hand. It possesses all the characteristics attributed by Lanzi to this early age. Near the bottom of the picture is a label, inscribed, Franciscus Benanus, Filius Petri Ablada. The size of the picture is 2 feet 8 by 2 feet 2, on panel, covered with gypsum. The vehicle of the colours is probably prepared from eggs, which were usually employed for that purpose before the invention of painting in oil, and to which an absorbent ground of lime or gypsum seems to have been indispensable. It is surprising how well the early pictures executed in this style have preserved their colouring to the present day.

[43] This writer has thrown much light upon the history of our early painters, from which I have derived and shall continue to derive, much benefit; but in the heat of dispute, he has frequently depreciated Cimabue in a way which I cannot approve. For instance, Vasari having said, that "he contributed greatly to the perfection of the art," della Valle asserts, that "he did it neither good nor harm;" and that having closely examined the pictures of Cimabue, "he has found in them a ruder style than appears in those of Giunta Pisano, of Guido da Siena, of Jacopo da Turrita, &c." (tom. i. p. 235.) Of the two last I shall speak elsewhere. With respect to the first, the writer contradicts himself four pages after; when, commenting on another passage of the historian relating to certain pictures of Cimabue, executed in Assisi in the inferior church of S. Francesco, he says, that "he there, in his opinion, surpassed Giunta Pisano." It is to be remembered that this was his first work, or amongst the first that Cimabue painted in Assisi. When he went thither, therefore, he was a better artist than Giunta. How, then, when he worked in the superior church, in Assisi, and in so many other places, did he become so bad a painter, and more uncouth than Giunta himself?

[44] See Baldinucci, tom. i. p. 17, Florentine Edition, 1767, where it is said that the Cimabuoi were also called Gualtieri.

[45] But see Baldinucci in Veglia, p. 87.

[46] We read, in the preface to the Sienese edition of Vasari's Lives, (p. 17) as follows: "To Giunta and to the other artists of Pisa, as heads of the school, was given the principal direction of adorning the Franciscan church; and Cimabue and Giotto are known to have been either disciples or assistants in their school, in which they produced several important works. Giunta had the direction of his assistant as long as he resided there, which may have been even subsequent to 1236. But how are we to suppose that he could have been at Assisi so long as to permit Cimabue (who was born in 1240, and went to Assisi about 1265) to assist, to receive instructions from, and to succeed him? Such a supposition is still more untenable as regards Giotto, who was invited to Assisi many years afterwards." (Vasari.)

[47] To the testimonies in favor of Cimabue, may be added one of no little weight, from the manuscript given to the public a few years since, by the Abbate Morelli. We there find that Cimabue painted in Padua, in the church del Carmine, which was afterwards burnt; but that a head of S. Giovanni, by him, being rescued from the flames, was inserted in a frame, and preserved in the house of Alessandro Capella. Would a painter, who had done neither good nor harm to the Florentine school, and to the art, have been invited to Padua? Would the remains of his works have been held in such esteem? Would he have been so highly valued, after so great a lapse of time, by Vasari, to whose arts he seems to wish to ascribe the reputation of Cimabue. Other proofs of this reputation may be seen in the defence of Vasari, in the present Book, third Epoch. The writer of history ought completely to divest himself of the love of system and party spirit.

[48] Vasari, tom. i. p. 322.

[49] A book is mentioned by Baldinucci ornamented by Giotto with miniatures, with histories from the Old Testament, and presented to the vestry of St. Peter, by Cardinal Stefaneschi; of this he neither adduces any proof, nor can I find any record. From the evidence, rather, of an existing necrology, where, among the presents made by Stefaneschi to the cathedral, the pictures and the mosaic by Giotto are noticed without any other work of this artist, the gift of the book is very doubtful. See Sig. Ab, Cancellieri De Secretariis Veteris Basilicæ Vaticanæ, p. 859, and 2464. Some miniatures of the martyrdom and miracles of St. George, in another book, are ascribed to him; but I am uncertain whether there is any ancient document for this; and they might, possibly, be the work of Simone da Siena, who is often confounded with him.

[50] See his first volume, pp. 131 and 202; and also P. della Valle in the preface to Vasari, p. 27; also Signor da Morrona in his Pisa Illustrata, p. 154; besides many other authors.

[51] D. Valle's preface to Vasari, p. 36.

[52] We may observe, that Malvasia is the champion, not only of Bologna, but of Italy, and of all Europe. At page 11, volume first, he has quoted a passage from Filibien, which proves that design always maintained itself in France, even in rude ages, and that at the time of Cimabue it was there equally respectable as in Italy.

[53] A catalogue of them is given in P. della Valle, in his history of that Church, and is republished in the Sienese edition of Vasari, at the end of the second volume.

[54] This place, which will ever do high honour to the magnificence of the Pisans, would be an inestimable museum, if the pictures there, executed by Giotto, by Memmi, by Stefano Florentino, by Buffalmacco, by Antonio Veneziano, by the two Orcagni, by Spinello Aretino, and by Laurati, had been carefully preserved; but the greatest number having been injured by dampness, were repaired, but with considerable judgment, within the century.

[55] Plin. xxxv. 9.

[56] Zanet. p. 3.

[57] It was a very ancient practice of Christian worship to place the silver, or ivory dittici, upon the altars during the service of the mass, and when the sacred ceremony was over, they were folded up in the manner of a book, and taken elsewhere. The same figure was retained, even in the introduction of the largest altar pieces, which likewise consisted of two wings, and were portable. This custom, of which I have seen few remnants in Italy, has been long preserved in the Greek church. At length, by degrees, artists began to paint upon one whole panel. (See Buonarroti Vetri Antichi, p. 258, &c.)

[58] In Torrello, one of the Venetian isles, there is an ancient image of St. Hadrian, which is tolerably carved, and around it the history of the saint is depicted: the style is feeble, but not Grecian.

[59] I notice this peculiarity, because the histories, either painted or engraved, belonging to those early times, are apt to perplex us; nor can they be cleared up without having recourse to books of fiction, which were, in those less civilized periods, believed. In the acts of our Saviour, and of the Virgin, it may be useful to consult Gio. Alberto Fabrizio, in the collection entitled "Codex Apocr. Novi Testamenti;" in the acts of the apostles and martyrs, it is not so much their real history, as the legends, either manifestly false or suspected, as recounted by the Bollandisti, that will throw light upon the subject.

[60] See Vasari in the life of Spinello Aretino: "Simone Cini, a Florentine, carved it, it was gilt by Gabriello Saracini, and Spinello di Luca of Arezzo, painted it in the year 1385." A similar signature may be seen in Pittura Veneziana, page 15.

[Pg 51]



Florentine Painters who lived after Giotto to the end of the fifteenth century.


It is worthy of remark, that Vasari, in the life of Jacopo di Casentino, quotes the manuscript records of the society of St. Luke, afterwards printed by Baldinucci, and mentions fourteen painters who were formerly its captains, counsellors, or chamberlains; yet he takes no notice of them in his Lives, and of but very few of the great number named in that manuscript. The same selection was employed by Baldinucci, in whose Veglia we are informed that many painters flourished about 1300, the names of whom he has refused to insert in his anecdotes. It clearly appears from his writings that he omitted about a hundred, all belonging to that age.[61] It is therefore incorrect to say, that [Pg 52]those two historians have commemorated many artists of mediocrity, merely because they were natives of Florence, an accusation alleged against them by foreigners. The artists of their country whom they have transmitted to posterity, are not less worthy of record than those ancient ones of Venice, of Bologna, and of Lombardy, whom we are accustomed to praise in their respective schools. Among this number I include Buffalmacco, the wit whose jests, as recorded in Boccaccio and Sacchetti, render him more celebrated than his pictures. His real name was Buonamico di Cristofano. He had been the scholar of Tafi, but by living long in the time of Giotto, he had an opportunity of correcting his own style. He displayed a most lively fancy, "and when he chose to exert himself (which rarely happened) was not inferior to any of his contemporaries."[62] It is unfortunate that his best works, which were in the Abbey and in Ognisanti, have perished, and there only remain some less carefully executed at Arezzo and at Pisa. The best preserved are in [Pg 53]the Campo Santo; viz. the Creation of the World, in which there is a figure of the Deity, five cubits high, sustaining the mighty frame of the heavens and the elements, and three other historical pictures of Adam, of his children, and of Noah. A crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of the Redeemer, may be seen at the same place. Good symmetry is not to be looked for in them; he knew but little of design, and he drew his figures by other rules than the roundness and facility seen in the disciples of Giotto. His heads are deficient in beauty and variety. The pious women near the cross all have the same mean and vulgar features, in which the mouths are opened even to deformity. Some of the heads of the men, especially that of Cain, possess, however, a physiognomical expression which arrests the eye of the spectator. The air of nature too in the action, as in the man, who, full of horror, flies from Mount Calvary, is highly praiseworthy. His draperies are greatly varied, are distinguished by the difference of stuffs and linings, and are laboriously ornamented with flowers and with fringes. Before he was employed in the Campo Santo, he painted in the church of St. Paul, Ripa d'Arno, where he was associated with one Bruno di Giovanni, formerly his fellow student, and believed to be the painter of a St. Ursula in a piece which still exists in the Commenda. Unable to attain the expression of Buffalmacco, he tried to atone for the defect by the aid of sentences proceeding from the mouths of his figures, which expressed what their features [Pg 54]and attitudes were incapable of explaining, a practice in which he was preceded by Cimabue, and followed by the eccentric Orcagna and several others. This Bruno, together with Nello di Dino, was associated with Buffalmacco in the jests contrived for the simple Calandrino. They all owe their fame to Boccaccio, who introduces them in the eighth day of his Decamerone; and a similar favour was conferred by Sacchetti on a Bartolo Gioggi, a house-painter, whom he introduced into his one hundred and seventieth tale. Giovanni da Ponte, the scholar of Buffalmacco, had some merit, but he was not at all solicitous to increase it by his diligence. Some remains of his pictures exist on the walls of the church of St. Francis, at Arezzo.

I believe that Bernardo Orcagna, who rivalled the fame of Buffalmacco, proceeded from some old school. He was the son of one Cione, a sculptor, and his brother Jacopo was of the same profession: but the other brother, Andrea, surpassed them all; and in himself so far united the attainments of the three sister arts, that he was by some reckoned second only to Giotto. He is known among architects for having introduced the circular arch instead of the acute, as may be seen in the gallery of the Lanzi, which he built and ornamented with sculpture. Bernardo taught him the principles of painting. They who have represented him as the pupil of Angiol Gaddi, do not appear attentive to dates. In the Strozzi chapel in the church of S. Maria Novella, he and Bernardo painted Paradise, and over against it the Infernal Regions; and [Pg 55]in the Campo Santo of Pisa, Death and the Judgment were executed by Andrea, and Hell by Bernardo. The two brothers imitated Dante in the novel representations which they executed at those places; and that style was more happily repeated by Andrea in the church of Santa Croce, where he inserted portraits of his enemies among the damned, and of his friends among the blessed spirits. These pictures are the prototypes of similar pictures preserved in S. Petronio, at Bologna, in the cathedral of Tolentino, in the Badia del Sesto, at Friuli,[63] and some other places, in which hell is distinguished by abysses and a variety of torments, after the manner of Dante. Several pictures by Andrea remain, and his name is still on that in the Strozzi chapel, which is full of figures and of episodes. On the whole, he discovers fertility of imagination, diligence, and spirit, [Pg 56]equal to any of his contemporaries. In composition he was less judicious, in attitudes less exact, than the followers of Giotto; and he yields to them in drawing and in colouring.

The same school produced Marinotto, a nephew of Andrea, and a Tommaso di Marco, whom I pass over, as well as others of little note, no longer known by existing works. Bernardo Nello di Gio. Falconi of Pisa merits consideration. He executed many pictures in that cathedral, and is supposed to be the same with that Nello di Vanni, who, with other Pisan artists, painted in the Campo Santo in the fourteenth century. Francesco Traini, a Florentine, is known as much superior to his master, by a large picture which is in the church of S. Catherine of Pisa, in which he has represented St. Thomas Aquinas in his own form, and also in his beatification. He stands in the middle of the picture, under the Redeemer, who sheds a glory on the Evangelists and him; and from them the rays are scattered on a crowd of listeners, composed of clergy, doctors, bishops, cardinals, and popes. Arius and other innovators are at the feet of the saint, as if vanquished by his doctrine; and near him appear Plato and Aristotle, with their volumes open, a circumstance not to be commended in such a subject. This work exhibits no skill in grouping, no knowledge of relief, and it abounds in attitudes which are either too tame, or too constrained; and yet it pleases by a marked expression in the countenances, an air of the antique in the draperies, and a certain novelty [Pg 57]in the composition. Let us now pass on to the followers of Giotto.

The scholars of Giotto have fallen into an error common to the followers of all illustrious men; in despairing to surpass, they have only aspired to imitate him with facility. On this account the art did not advance so quickly as it might otherwise have done, among the Florentine and other artists of the fourteenth century, who flourished after Giotto. In the several cities above mentioned, Giotto invariably appears superior when seen in the vicinity of such painters as Cavallini, or Gaddi; and whoever is acquainted with his style, stands in no need of a prolix account of that of his followers, which, with a general resemblance to him, is less grand and less agreeable. Stefano Fiorentino alone is a superior genius in the opinion of Vasari, according to whose account he greatly excelled Giotto in every department of painting. He was the son of Catherine, a daughter of Giotto, and possessed a genius for penetrating into the difficulties of the art, and an insuperable desire of conquering them. He first introduced foreshortenings into painting, and if in this he did not attain his object, he greatly improved the perspective of buildings, the attitudes, and the variety and expression of the heads. According to Landino he was called the Ape of Nature, an eulogy of a rude age; since such animals, in imitating the works of man, always debase them: but Stefano endeavoured to equal and to embellish those of nature. The most celebrated of his pictures which [Pg 58]were in the Ara Cœli at Rome, in the church of S. Spirito at Florence, and in other places, have all perished. As far as I know, his country does not possess one of his undoubted pictures; unless we mention as such, that of the Saviour in the Campo Santo of Pisa, which, indeed, is in a greater manner than the works of this master, but it has been retouched. A Pietà, by his son and disciple Tommaso, as is believed by some, exists in S. Remigi at Florence, which strongly partakes of the manner of Giotto; like his frescos at Assisi. He deserved the name of Giottino, given him by his fellow citizens, who used to say that the soul of Giotto had transmigrated, and animated him. Baldinucci alleges that there was another of the same name, who should not be confounded with him, and quotes the following inscription from a picture in the Villa Tolomei, "Dipinse Tommaso di Stefano Fortunatino de' Gucci Tolomei." But Cinelli, the strenuous opponent of Baldinucci, attributes it, perhaps justly, to Giottino. This artist left behind him one Lippo, sufficiently commended by Vasari, but who rather seems to have been an imitator than a scholar. Giovanni Tossicani of Arezzo, was a disciple of Giottino, employed in Pisa and over all Tuscany. He painted the St. Philip and St. James, which still remain on the baptismal font in Arezzo, and were repaired by Vasari while a young man, who acknowledges that he learned much from this work, injured as it was. With him perished the best branch of the stock of Giotto.

Taddeo Gaddi may be considered as the Giulio [Pg 59]Romano of Giotto, his most intimate and highly favoured pupil. Vasari, who saw his frescos and easel pictures at Florence, in good preservation, prefers him to his master, in colouring and in delicacy; but the lapse of time at this day forbids our deciding this point, although several of his pictures remain, especially in the church of Santa Croce, which are scriptural histories, much in the manner of Giotto. He discovered more originality in the chapter house of the Spagnuoli, where he worked in competition with Memmi.[64] He painted some of the acts of the Redeemer on the ceiling, and the descent of the Holy Spirit in the refectory, which is among the finest specimens of art in the fourteenth century. On one of the walls he painted the Sciences, and under each some one of its celebrated professors; and demonstrated his excellence in this species of allegorical painting, which approaches so nearly to poetry. The brilliance and clearness of his tints are chiefly conspicuous in that chapter house. The royal gallery contains the taking down of Christ, the work of his hands, which was formerly at Orsanmichele, and by some ascribed to Buffalmacco, merely because it was unascertained. Taddeo flourished beyond the term assigned him by Vasari, and outlived most of those already named. This may be collected from Franco Sacchetti, a contemporary writer, who relates in his 136th Tale, that Andrea Orcagna proposed as a question, [Pg 60]"who was the greatest master, setting Giotto out of the question?" Some answered Cimabue, others Stefano, some Bernardo, and some Buffalmacco. Taddeo Gaddi, who was in the company, said, "truly these were very able painters, but the art is decaying every day, &c." He is mentioned up to 1352, and he might possibly survive several years.

He left at his death several disciples, who became eminent teachers of painting in Florence, and other places. D. Lorenzo Camaldolese is mentioned with honour. He instructed pupils in the art; and several old pictures by him and his scholars are in the monastery of the Angeli. At that time the fraternity of Camaldulites furnished some miniature painters, one of whom, named D. Silvestro, ornamented missals, which still exist, and are amongst the best that Italy possesses. The most favoured pupils of Taddeo were Giovanni da Milano, whom I shall notice in the school of Lombardy, and Jacopo di Casentino, who also will find a place there, together with his imitators. To these two he recommended on his death-bed his two sons and disciples: Giovanni, who died prematurely, with a reputation for genius; and Angiolo, who being then very young, most needed a protector. The latter died, according to Vasari, at 63 years of age; in 1589, according to the date of Baldinucci. He did not improve the art in proportion to his abilities, but contented himself with imitating Giotto and his father, in which he was astonishingly successful. [Pg 61]The church of S. Pancrazio possessed one picture by him, containing several saints, and some histories from the Gospel, which may still be seen in the monastery, divided into several pieces, and coloured in a taste superior to what was then usual. There is another in the same style in the sacristy of the Conventual friars, by whom he was employed in the choir of the church, to paint in fresco the story of the recovery of the Cross, and its transportation in the time of Heraclius; a work inferior to the others, because much larger, and to him somewhat new. He afterwards lived at Venice, as a merchant rather than as a painter; and Baldinucci, who seizes every opportunity of supporting his hypothesis, says, that if he was not the founder of that school, he, at least, improved it. But I shall demonstrate, in the proper place, that the Venetian school was advancing to a modern style, before Angiolo could have taught in that place; and in the many old pictures I saw at Venice, I was unable to recal to mind the delicate style of Angiolo. The Venetians owe to him the education of Stefano da Verona, whom I shall consider in the second volume; and he gave the Florentines Cennino Cennini, praised by Vasari as a colourist, of whom as a writer I shall soon make mention.

In the school of Angiolo Gaddi we may reckon Antonio Veneziano, concerning whom Vasari and Baldinucci disagree. The former makes him a Venetian, "who came to Florence to learn painting of Agnolo Gaddi:" the latter, a systematic writer, as we have seen, asserts that he was born in Florence, [Pg 62]and that he obtained the surname of Veneziano, from his residence and many labours in Venice, on the authority of certain memoirs in the Strozzi library, which were, perhaps, doubted by himself; for had they been of high authority, he would not have omitted to proclaim their antiquity. However this may be, each of them is a little inconsistent with himself. As they assert that Antonio died of the plague in 1384, or, according to the correction of their annotators, in 1383, at the age of 74, it follows that he was born many years before Gaddi, whose disciple, therefore, we cannot easily suppose him. It is likewise rendered doubtful by his design in the legends of S. Ranieri,[65] which remain in the Campo Santo of Pisa, where there is a certain facility, care, and caprice in the composition, that savour of another school. Vasari, moreover, notices a method of painting in fresco, without ever re-touching it when dry, that would seem to have been introduced from other parts, different [Pg 63]from what was employed by the Tuscan artists, his competitors, whose paintings, in the time of the historian, were not in as good a state of preservation as those of Antonio. In the same place he deposited his portrait, which the describers of the ducal gallery at Florence pretend still to find in the chamber of celebrated artists. This portrait is, however, painted in a manner so modern, that I cannot believe it the work of a painter so ancient. On this occasion I must observe that there was another Antonio Veneziano, whom this picture probably represents, and who, about the year 1500, painted, at Osimo, a picture of St. Francis, in the manner of that age, and inscribed it with his name. I learned this from the accomplished Sig. Cav. Aqua, who added, that this name had been erased, and that of Pietro Perugino inserted, who certainly gains no very great honour by such substitution.

We learn from history[66] that Antonio educated in Paolo Uccello, a great artist in perspective; and in Gherardo Starnina, a master in the gay style, of whom there are yet some remnants, in a chapel of [Pg 64]the church of Santa Croce. They are among the last efforts of the school of Giotto, which succeeding artists abandoned, to adopt a better manner. One exception occurs in Antonio Vite, who executed some works in the old style, in Pistoia, his native city, and in Pisa. I may here observe, that Starnina and Dello Fiorentino shortly after introduced the new Italian manner in the court of Spain, and returned to Florence with honour and with affluence. The first remained to enjoy them in his native country, until the time of his death: the latter returned back to increase them; and, according to Vasari, he left no public work in Florence, except an historic design of Isaac, in green earth, in a cloister of the church of S. Maria Novella: perhaps he ought to have said, that he left various works, for several are there visible, all in the same taste, and so rude, as to induce us to reckon him rather a follower of Buffalmacco than of Giotto. But he excelled in small pieces; and there was none then living who could more elegantly ornament cabinets, coffers, the backs of couches, or other household furniture, with subjects from history and fable.

Among the disciples of Taddeo Gaddi I have named Jacopo del Casentino, of whom there are some remains in the church of Orsanmichele. Jacopo taught Spinello Aretino, a man of a most lively fancy, as may be gathered from some of his pictures in Arezzo, no less than from his life. He painted also at Florence, and was one of those who had the honour of ornamenting the Campo Santo [Pg 65]of Pisa with historical paintings. His pictures of the martyrs S. Petito and S. Epiro, are noticed by Vasari as his best performances. He was, however, inferior to his competitors by the meanness of his design, and the style of his colouring, in which green and black are predominant, without being sufficiently relieved by other colours. The fall of the angels still remains in S. Angelo at Arezzo, in which Lucifer is represented so terrible, that it afterwards haunted the dreams of the artist, and, deranging both his mind and body, hastened his death. Bernardo Daddi was his scholar; a man less known in his own country than at Florence, where he executed a picture, seen on the gate of San Giorgio (See Moreni, lib. v. p. 5.); as was also Parri, the son of Spinello, who modernised his style somewhat on the manner of Masolino. The latter excelled in the art of colouring, but he was barbarous in the drawing of his figures, which he made extravagantly long and bending, in order, as he was used to say, to give them greater spirit. One may see some remains of them at Arezzo in S. Domenico, and other places. Lorenzo di Bicci of Florence, another scholar of Spinello, was the Vasari of his time, for the multiplicity, celerity, and easy self-complacency, shewn in his labours. The first cloister of the church of S. Croce retains several specimens, consisting of the legends of S. Francis; and there is an Assumption on the front, in which he was assisted by Donatello, while still a young man. [Pg 66]Perhaps his best work is the fresco, ornamenting the sanctuary of S. Maria Nuova, built by Martin V. about the year 1418. His son Neri is reckoned among the last followers of Giotto. He lived but a short time; he left, in S. Romolo, a picture which would not have disgraced his father, and which is certainly more carefully executed than was usual with the latter.

During the fourteenth century, sculpture was cultivated at Pisa by as many artists as painting was at Florence; but Pisa was not on that account destitute of painters worthy of being recorded. Vasari mentions one Vicino, who finished the mosaic begun by Turrita, assisted by Tafi and Gaddi, and adds, that he was also a painter. Sig. da Morrona says, that he retained the old style of his school; which was the case with many others, as appears from several old Madonnas upon panels, both of anonymous and of ascertained painters. Of this sort is that in the old church of Tripalle, and that at S. Matthew's in Pisa. On the first is this inscription, Nerus Nellus de Pisa me pinxit, 1299: on the second we read, Jacopo di Nicola dipintore detto Gera mi dipinse. The mode of expression is derived from the μ'εποιησε of the Greeks; to which the old Pisans closely adhered in their paintings, their sculptures, and their bronzes.[67] Like the other [Pg 67]Italians they at length reformed their style, and there, as well as at Florence and Siena, families of painters arose, in which the fathers were excelled by their sons, and they by their children. Thus, from Vanni, who flourished in 1300, sprung Turino di Vanni, who flourished about 1343, and Nello di Vanni, who painted in the Campo Santo, whose son Bernardo was the disciple of Orcagna, and furnished many pictures for the palace of the primate. There was also in that city one Andrea di Lippo, who is noticed in the Academical Discourse on the literary history of Pisa, in the year 1336; the same, I believe, with that Andrea [Pg 68]da Pisa, mentioned among the artists that ornamented the cathedral of Orvieto in 1346. A work by one Giovanni di Niccolo remains in the monastery of S. Martha, and, perhaps, he painted the fine trittico of the Zelada museum at Rome, which represents our Saviour with S. Stephen, S. Agatha, and other saints, and which has this inscription, Jo. de Pisis pinxit. This is a picture of great labour, by some ascribed to Gio. Balducci; which, if it was ascertained, would confer honour on that great man, as a professor of the three sister arts. Towards the end of the century the power of the Pisans declined, rather from civil discord than from other misfortunes; till at length the city fell into the hands of the Florentines in 1406, and lay for a long time prostrate and humbled, deprived, not only of her artists, but almost of her citizens; and fully glutted the ancient hatred of her hostile neighbours. She at length rose again, not, indeed, to command, but to more dignified subjection.

The spirit of the Florentines in the mean time increasing with their power, they became chiefly solicitous to suit the magnificence of their capital to the grandeur of the state. Cosmo, at once the father of his country and of men of genius, gave stability to public affairs. Lorenzo the Magnificent, and others of the house of Medici, followed, whose hereditary taste for literature and the fine arts is celebrated in a multitude of books, and most copiously in the histories written by three eminent authors, Monsignor Fabroni, the Signor [Pg 69]Ab. Galluzzi, and Mr. Roscoe. Their house was at once a lyceum for philosophers, an arcadia for poets, and an academy for artists. Dello, Paolo, Masaccio, the two Peselli, both the Lippi, Benozzo, Sandro, the Ghirlandai, enjoyed the perpetual patronage of this family, and as constantly rendered it whatever honour they could bestow. Their pictures are full of portraits, according to the custom of the times, and continually presented to the people the likenesses of the Medici, and often represented them with regal ornaments in their pictures of the Epiphany, as if gradually to prepare the people to behold the sceptre and royal robe securely established in that house. The good taste of the Medici was seconded by that of other citizens, who were then distributed into various corporations, according to their place of residence and profession, each of which strove with reciprocal emulation to decorate their houses and their churches. Besides the desire of public ornament, they were animated by religion, which, in what relates to divine worship, is so widely spread, not only among the great, but also among the lower orders of people, that those have a difficulty in believing who have not beheld it. Their cathedral, a vast fabric, was already reared for the ceremonies of religion, and here and there some other churches arose; these and the more ancient, in emulation of each other, they adorned with paintings, a luxury unknown to their ancestors, and less common in the other cities of Italy. This disposition gave rise, after the conclusion [Pg 70]of the century, to that prodigious number of painters already mentioned; and hence sprang, in the century we now treat of, that crowd of artists in marble, bronze, and silver, who transferred pre-eminence in sculpture, the ancient inheritance of the Pisans, to the people of Florence. The Florentines were desirous of ornamenting the new cathedral and baptistery, the church of Orsanmichele, and other sacred places, with statues and basso-relievos. These brought forward Donatello, Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, Filarete, Rossellini, Pollajuoli, and Verrocchio, and produced those noble works in marble, in bronze, and in silver, which sometimes appear to have attained the perfection of the art, and to have rivalled the ancients. The rising generation was instructed in design by those celebrated men, and the universality of the principles they taught, made the transition from one art to another easy. The same individuals were often statuaries, founders in bronze, in gold, lapidaries, painters, or architects, talents that appear enviable to this age, in which an artist with difficulty acquires a competent knowledge in a single art. Such was the course of instruction at Florence in the Studies, and such the subsequent encouragement without, from which it will not appear wonderful to the reader that this city was the foremost to attain the perfection of the art. But let us trace the steps by which it advanced in Florence, and in the rest of Italy.

The followers of Giotto had now carried painting[Pg 71] beyond the period of its infancy, but it continued to give proofs of its infant faculties, especially in chiaroscuro, and still more in perspective. Figures sometimes appeared as if falling or slipping from the canvass; buildings had not a true point of view; and the art of foreshortening was yet very rude. Stefano Fiorentino perceived rather than removed the difficulty; others for the most part sought either to avoid or to compensate for the deficiency. Pietro della Francesca, whom we have elsewhere noticed, appears to have been the first who revived the Grecian practice of rendering geometry subservient to the painter. He is celebrated by Pascoli,[68] and by authors of greater note, as the father of perspective. Brunelleschi was the first Florentine who saw the method of bringing it to perfection, "which consisted in drawing it in outline by the help of intersections;"[69] and in this manner he drew the square of St. John, and other places, with true diminution and with receding points. He was imitated in mosaic by Benedetto da Maiano, and in painting by Masaccio, to both of whom he was master. About the same period Paolo Uccello, having studied under Gio. Manetti, a celebrated mathematician, applied to it with assiduity; and even so dedicated himself to the pursuit, that in labouring to excel in this, he never acquired celebrity in the other branches of painting. He delighted in it far beyond his[Pg 72] other studies, and used to say that perspective was the most pleasant of all; so true is it that novelty is a great source of enjoyment. He executed no work that did not reflect some new light on that art, whether it consisted of edifices and colonnades, in which a great space was represented in a small compass, or of figures foreshortened with a skill unknown to the followers of Giotto. Some of his historic pictures of Adam, and of Noah, in which he indulged in his favourite taste for the novel and whimsical, remain in the cloisters of S. Maria Novella; and there are also landscapes with trees and animals so well executed, that he might be called the Bassano of the first age. He particularly delighted to have birds in his house, from which he drew, and from thence he obtained his surname of Uccello. In the cathedral there is a gigantic portrait of Gio. Aguto on horseback, painted by Paolo in green earth. This was, perhaps, the first attempt made in painting, which achieved a great deal without appearing too daring. He produced other specimens at Padua, where he delineated some figures of giants with green earth in the house of the Vitali. He was chiefly employed in ornamenting furniture for private individuals; the triumphs of Petrarch in the royal gallery, painted on small cabinets are supposed by some good judges to be his.

Masolino da Panicale cultivated the art of chiaroscuro. I believe he derived advantage from having long dedicated his attention to modelling [Pg 73]and sculpture, a practice which renders relief easy to the painter, beyond what is generally conceived. Ghiberti had been his master in this branch, who at this time was unrivalled in design, in composition, and in giving animation to his figures. Colouring, which he yet wanted, was taught him by Starnina, and in this also he became a very celebrated master. Thus uniting in himself the excellences of two schools, he produced a new style, not indeed exempt from dryness, nor wholly faultless; but grand, determined, and harmonious, beyond any former example. The chapel of St. Peter al Carmine, is a remaining monument of this artist. He there painted the Evangelists, and some acts of the Saint, as his vocation to the apostleship, the tempest, the denying of Christ, the miracle performed at Porta Speciosa, and the Preaching. He was prevented by death from representing other acts of St. Peter, as for instance, the tribute paid to Cæsar, baptism conferred on the multitude, the healing of the sick, which several years afterwards were painted by his scholar Maso di S. Giovanni, a youth who obtained the surname of Masaccio, from trusting to a precarious subsistence, and living, as it was said, by chance, while deeply engrossed with the studies of his profession. This artist was a genius calculated to mark an era in painting; and Mengs has assigned him the highest place among those who explored its untried recesses. Vasari informs us that "what was executed before his time might [Pg 74]be called paintings, but that his pictures seem to live, they are so true and natural;" and in another place adds, that "no master of that age so nearly approached the moderns." He had formed the principles of his art on the works of Ghiberti and Donatello; perspective he acquired from Brunelleschi, and on going to Rome it cannot be doubted that he improved by the study of ancient sculpture. He there met with two senior artists, Gentile da Fabriano, and Vittore Pisanello, upon whom high encomiums, as the first painter of his time, may be seen in Maffei and elsewhere.[70] They who write thus had either not seen any of the paintings of Masaccio, or at most only his early productions; such as the S. Anna in the church of S. Ambrose in Florence, or the chapel of S. Catherine in S. Clement's at Rome, in which, while still young, he executed some pictures of the passion of Christ, and legends of S. Anna, to which may be added a ceiling containing the Evangelists, which are all that now remain free from retouching. This work is excellent for that time, but some doubt whether it ought to be ascribed to him; and it is inferior to his painting in the Carmine, of which we may say with Pliny, jam perfecta sunt omnia. The positions and foreshortenings of the figures are diversified and complete beyond those practised by Paolo Uccello. The air of the heads, says Mengs, is in the style of Raffaello; the expression is so managed that the mind seems no less forcibly depicted [Pg 75]than the body. The anatomy of the figure is marked with truth and judgment. That figure, so highly extolled in the baptism of S. Peter, which appears shivering with cold, marks, as it were, an era in the art. The garments, divested of minuteness, present a few easy folds. The colouring is true, properly varied, delicate, and surprisingly harmonious; the relief is in the grandest style. This chapel was not finished by him. He died in 1443, not without suspicion of poison, and left it still deficient in several pictures, which, after many years were supplied by the younger Lippi. It became the school of all the best Florentine artists whom we shall have occasion to notice in this and the succeeding epoch, of Pietro Perugino, and even of Raffaello; and it is a curious circumstance, that in the course of many years, in a city fruitful in genius, ever bent on the promotion of the art, no one in following the footsteps of Masaccio attained that eminence which he acquired without a director. Time has defaced other works of his hand at Florence, equally commended, and especially the sanctuary of the church del Carmine, of which there is a drawing in the possession of the learned P. Lettor Fontana Barnabita in Pavia. The royal gallery has very few of his works. The portrait of a young man, that seems to breathe, and is estimated at a high price, is in the Pitti collection.

After Masaccio, two monks distinguished themselves in the Florentine school. The first was a [Pg 76]Dominican friar named F. Giovanni da Fiesole, or B. Giovanni Angelico. His first employment was that of ornamenting books with miniatures, an art he learned from an elder brother, who executed miniatures and other paintings. It is said that he studied in the chapel of Masaccio, but it is not easy to credit this when we consider their ages. Their style too betrays a different origin. The works of the friar discover some traces of the manner of Giotto, in the posture of the figures and the compensation for deficiencies in the art, not to mention the drapery which is often folded in long tube-like forms, and the exquisite diligence in minute particulars common to miniature painters. Nor did he depart much from this method in the greatest part of his works, which chiefly consist of scripture pieces of our Saviour, or the Virgin, in cabinet pictures not unfrequently to be met with in Florence. The royal gallery possesses several; the most brilliant and highly finished of which, is the birth of John the Baptist. The Glory,[71] which is in the church of S. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi, from its great size, is among his rarest productions; and it also ranks with the most beautiful. His chief excellence consists in the beauty that adorns the countenances of his saints and angels; and he is truly the Guido of the age, for the sweetness of his colours, which, though in water, he diluted and blended in a manner [Pg 77]which almost reaches perfection. He was also esteemed one of the best of his age in works executed in fresco; and he was employed in the decoration of the cathedral of Orvieto, as well as the palace of the Vatican itself, where he painted a chapel—a work much commended by a number of writers. Vasari enumerates Gentile da Fabriano among his disciples, but the dates render this impossible; and says the same of Zanobi Strozzi, a man of noble origin, of whom I do not know that any certain picture exists in a public collection: I only know that, treading in the steps of his master, he surpassed the reputation of a mere amateur. Benozzo Gozzoli, another of his disciples, and an imitator of Masaccio, raised himself far above the majority of his contemporaries.

In a few points he even surpassed his model, as in the stupendous size of his edifices, in the amenity of his landscapes, and in the brilliancy of his fancy, truly lively, agreeable, and picturesque. In the Riccardi palace, once a royal residence, there is a chapel in good preservation, where he executed a Glory, a Nativity, and an Epiphany. He there painted with a profusion of gold and of drapery, unexampled, perhaps, in fresco; and with an adherence to nature that exhibits an image of that age in the portraits, the garments, the accoutrements of the horses, and in the most minute particulars. He long resided at Pisa, and died there, where he ought to be studied; for his compositions in that place are better than those at Florence, and he was [Pg 78]there also more sparing in the use of gold. The portrait of S. Thomas Aquinas is highly spoken of by Vasari and Richardson; but they especially notice the pictures from scripture history, with which he ornamented a whole wing of the Campo Santo, "a most prodigious work, sufficient to appal a legion of painters;"[72] and he finished it within two years. Here he displayed a talent for composition, an imitation of nature, a variety in the countenances and attitudes, a colouring juicy, lively, and clear, and an expression of the passions that places him next to Masaccio. I can scarcely believe that he painted the whole. In the Ebriety of Noah, in the Tower of Babel, and in some other pictures, we discern an attempt at surprising, not to be seen in some others, where figures sometimes occur that seem dry and laboured; defects which I am disposed rather to attribute to his coadjutors. Near this great work a monument is erected to his memory by a grateful city, in the public name, with an epitaph that commends him as a painter. Time itself, as if conscious of his merit, has respected this work beyond any other in the Campo Santo.

The other monk was Filippo Lippi, a Carmelite, a genius of a different stamp from B. Giovanni. He received his instruction, not from Masaccio, as Vasari would have it, but from his works. His assiduity in copying him, makes him sometimes appear a second Masaccio, especially in small histories. [Pg 79]Some of his choicest are in the sacristy of the church of S. Spirito. In that place, in the Church of S. Ambrose, and elsewhere, his pictures represent the Virgin surrounded by angels, with full and handsome countenances, distinguished by a colouring and a gracefulness peculiarly his own. He delighted in drapery like the neat folds of a surplice; his tints were very clear but delicate, and often subdued by a purple hue not common to other painters. He introduced gigantic proportions in his large frescos in the parish church of Prato; where his pictures of S. Stephen and the Baptist were, in the opinion of Vasari, his capital performances. His forsaking the convent, his slavery in Barbary, his works at Naples, at Padua, and elsewhere, his death, hastened by poison, administered by the relations of a young lady who had borne him a natural child, likewise named Filippo Lippi, are recorded by Vasari. P. della Valle is of opinion that he never professed any order, but in the register of Carmine, his death is noticed in the year 1469, and he is there denominated Fra Filippo. He died at Spoleti when he had nearly completed his large picture for the cathedral. Lorenzo the Magnificent requested his ashes from the townsmen, but was refused; on which he caused a handsome monument to be erected for him, with an inscription by Angelo Poliziano; a circumstance I mention, to demonstrate the respect paid to the art at that period. F. Diamante da Prato, the scholar of Lippi, and his assistant in [Pg 80]his last work, imitated him well; as likewise did Francesco Pesello, a Florentine of the same school; his son Pesellino, a short lived artist, followed him with still greater success. The Epiphany of Francesco, described by Vasari, in which there is a portrait of Donato Acciaiuoli, is in the royal gallery. The grado, painted by his son for the apartments of the novices of S. Croce, is there still: on this last are the histories of S. Cosma and S. Damian, of S. Anthony, and S. Francis, denominated by the historian most wonderful productions, and, perhaps, this is not too much to say when we recollect the period.

About this time other able artists flourished at Florence, who were obscured by greater names. Of this number was Berto Linaiuolo, whose pictures in private houses were, for a long time, held in great repute. They were even ordered by the King of Hungary, and procured him great fame in that kingdom. Alessio Baldovinetti, of noble extraction, was a painter particularly diligent and minute, a good worker in mosaic, and the master of Ghirlandaio. In his picture of the Nativity in the porch of the Nunziata, and in his other works, the design, rather than the colouring, may now be said to remain; for the tints have vanished, from a defect in their composition. To them we may add Verrocchio, a celebrated statuary, a good designer, and a painter for amusement rather than by profession. While he painted the Baptism of Christ at S. Salvi, his scholar, L. da Vinci, then [Pg 81]a youth, finished an angel, in a manner superior to the figures of his master, who, indignant at his own inferiority to a boy, never more handled the pencil.

Baldinucci imagines that Andrea del Castagno, a name infamous in history, was a scholar of Masaccio: he was rather his imitator, in attitude, relief, and casting of the drapery, than in grace and colouring. He lived at the time that the secret of painting in oil (discovered by John Van Eych, or John of Bruges, about 1410),[73] was known in Italy, not only by report, but by experience of the advantages of this method. Our artists, admiring the harmony, delicacy, and brilliance, which colours received from this discovery, sighed to possess the secret. For this purpose, one Antonello [Pg 82]da Messina, who had studied at Rome, travelled to Flanders, and having learned the secret, according to Vasari, from the inventor, went to Venice, where he communicated it to a friend named Domenico. After having practised much in his own country, at Loreto,[74] and other parts of the ecclesiastical states, Domenico came to Florence. There he became the general favourite, and on that account was envied by Castagna, whose dissembled friendship won him to impart the secret, and rewarded him by an atrocious assassination, which he perpetrated, in order that there might be none living to rival him in the art. The assassin was sufficiently skilful to conceal his crime, owing to which a number of innocent persons soon fell under suspicion, which did not induce the real criminal to avow the atrocious deed, until he lay upon his death-bed, when he disclosed his guilt and did justice to the innocence of others. He had the reputation of being the first artist of his time, for vigour, for design, and for perspective, having perfected the art of foreshortening. His finest works have perished: one of his pictures remains at S. Lucia de' Magnuoli, and also some of his historic pieces, executed with great diligence. There is also a Crucifixion, painted on a wall in the monastery of the Angeli.

Many writers have appeared who deny the above mentioned statement of Vasari, and maintain [Pg 83]that the art of painting in oil was known long before. It is pretended that it existed in the time of the Romans, an opinion that is adopted by Sig. Ranza, in regard to a picture said to be of S. Helena, consisting of a quilting of different pieces of silk stitched together, exhibiting a picture of the Virgin Saint with the Infant. The heads and hands are coloured in oils; the drapery is shaded with the needle, and in a great measure with the pencil. It is preserved in Vercelli, and from the tradition of its citizens reported by Mabillon (Diar. Ital. Cap. 28), it is said to be the work of S. Helena, mother of Constantine; that is, the patches of silk were sewed by her, and the gilding and painting added to it by her painter, as is conjectured by Ranza. He was not aware that the practice of drawing the Infant Christ in the lap of the Virgin (as we notice in the preface to the Roman school), was posterior to the fourth century; and that other particulars related by him of the picture cannot belong to the age of Constantine; for instance, the hooded mantle of our Lady. From such signs we ought rather to conclude that it is either not an oil painting, or that the figure, at whatever period executed, has been retouched in the same way as that of the Nunziata at Florence, or of the Santa Maria Primerana at Fiesole; the former of which in the drapery, and the latter in the lineaments, are not the same now as in their ancient state.

Others, without ascending to the first ages of the[Pg 84] church, have asserted that oil painting was known out of Italy, at least as early as the eleventh century. As a proof of this, they adduce a manuscript of the Monk Teofilo or Ruggiero, no later back than that period, which bears title, "De omni scientiâ artis pingendi," where there is a receipt for the preparation and use of oil from flax.[75] Lessing gave an account of this manuscript in the year 1774, in a treatise published at Brunswick, where he filled the office of librarian to the Prince. Morelli, also, in the Codici Naniani (cod. 39); and more at length Raspe, in his critical "Dissertation on Oil Painting," published in the English language at London, in which he enumerated the existing copies in various libraries, and gave a great part of the manuscript, entered into an examination of the subject. Lastly, Teofilo's treatise is inserted by Christiano Leist, in Lessing's collection, "Zur Geschichte unde Litteratur." Brusw. 1781. The Dottore Aglietti, in his Giornale Veneto, December, [Pg 85]1793, likewise adds his opinion; while the learned Abbate Morelli, in his "Notizia," which is often cited by me in the emendation and illustration of this edition, throws the greatest light upon the present question, agitated by so many, and, we may add, "rem acu tetigit." He, then, will be found to concede to Giovanni, whom he calls Gianes da Brugia, the boast of this great discovery, agreeing with Vasari, though in a different sense from that in which the latter writer views it. For he does not reply to his opponents, that the art of painting, as taught by Teofilo, might have gone into disuse, and was only revived by Giovanni; whence Vasari ventured to commend him as an original inventor; in the same manner as Tiraboschi replied, who followed the Roman anthologists (St. Lett. t. vi. p. 1202). Neither does he bring forward the defence advanced by the Baron de Budberg in the apology of Gio. da Bruges,[76] to the purport that Teofilo taught the art of painting in oil, only upon a ground, without figures, and without ornaments: because Teofilo, in chap. 22, whose words we have given in the note, likewise taught this art. Into what, then, does the long-boasted invention of Giovanni resolve itself? Nothing more than this: according to the ancient practice, a fresh colour was never added to the panel until the first covering had been dried in the sun: a mode, as [Pg 86]Teofilo confesses, infinitely tedious: "quod in imaginibus diuturnum et tædiosum nimis est;" (cap. 23); to which I may add, that the colours in this way could never perfectly harmonize. Van Eych saw this difficulty, and he became more truly sensible of it, from the circumstance of having exposed one of his paintings to the sun, in order to harden, when the excess of heat split the panel. Being at that period sufficiently skilled both in philosophical and philological inquiries, he began to speculate on the manner of applying oils, and of their acquiring a proper consistency without the aid of the sun. "By uniting it with other mixtures he next produced a varnish, which, dried, was water proof, and gave a clearness and brilliancy, while it added to the harmony of his colours." Such are the words of Vasari; and thus, in a very few words, we may arrive at a satisfactory solution of the question. Before the time of Van Eych, some sort of method of painting in oil was known, but so extremely tedious and imperfect, as to be scarcely applicable to the production of figure pieces. It was practised beyond the Alps, but is not known to have been in use in Italy. Giovanni carried the first discovery to its completion; he perfected the art, which was afterwards diffused over all Europe, and introduced into Italy, by means of Antonio, or Antonello da Messina.

Here again we are met by another class of objectors, who enter the lists against Van Eych, [Pg 87]against Antonello, and more decidedly against Vasari, not with arguments from books, but in the strength of pictorial skill, and chemical experiments.

Malvasia, upon the authority of Tiarini, maintains, that Lippo Dalmasio painted in oil; the Neapolitans, relying upon Marco da Siena, and other men of skill, assert the same of their artists in the thirteenth century; while a few have pretended that some of the pictures[77] produced in the fourteenth century, to be seen at Siena and Modena, in particular that from the hand of Tommaso da Modena, belonging to the Imperial cabinet, and described by me in the native school of that artist, are also coloured in oil; because, after being exposed to water, and analyzed, the colours discovered their elements, and were pronounced oil. In spite, however, of so much skill, and so many experiments, I cannot see that Vasari has yet been detected in an error. It would not be difficult to oppose other experiments and opinions, that might throw light upon the question. To begin with Tuscany:—an analysis of several Tuscan paintings was made at Pisa by the very able chemist Bianchi; [Pg 88]and though apparently coloured in oil, the most lucid parts were found to give out particles of wax; a material employed in the encausti, and not forgotten by the Greeks, who instructed Giunta and his contemporaries. It would appear that they applied it as a varnish, to act as a covering and protection from humidity, as well as to give a lucid hue and polish to the colours. It has been observed, that the proportion of wax employed greatly decreased during the fourteenth century; and after the year 1360 fell into disuse, and was succeeded by a vehicle, that carries no gloss. But in these experiments oil was never elicited, if we except a few drops of essential oil, which the learned professor conjectures was employed at that early period to dissolve the wax made use of in painting.

Besides this material, certain gums, and yolks of eggs, which easily deceive the eye of the less skilful, were also used, and very nearly resemble those pictures that display a scanty portion of oil, as is observed by Zanetti, in his account of Venetian painting (p. 20); and the analysis of Tommaso da Modena's picture has tended to confirm his opinion. This information I owe to the late Count Durazzo, who, in 1793, assured me, when at Venice, that he had himself beheld, at Vienna, the process of analyzing such pictures, by very skilful hands, at the command, and in the presence of Prince Kaunitz; and that it was the unanimous opinion of those professors, that no traces of oil were to be found. [Pg 89]The colours consisted of the finest gums, mixed with the yolk and white of eggs, a fact that afforded just ground for a like conclusion in regard to similar works by the ancients. I fully appreciate, likewise, the opinion of Piacenza upon the celebrated picture of Colantonio; this I reserve, however, together with some further reflections of my own, for the school of Naples.

I shall here merely inform the reader, that, in regard to the chemical experiments employed on these paintings, Sig. da Morrona[78] observes, that old pictures are often believed to be in a state of purity, when they have been retouched with oil colours at a subsequent period: the use of wax, and of essential oils, or of some such old methods, may frequently give rise to doubt, as I shall soon shew.

Having removed the objections brought against the opinion of Vasari, I must add a few words in regard to a passage where he seems to have forgotten what he had said in the life of Angiol Gaddi, but which will in fact throw further light upon the question. He is giving an account of the paintings and writings of Andrea Cennini, a scholar of Angelo. This person, in 1437, that is, long before the arrival of Domenico, composed a work on painting, which is preserved in MS. in the library of S. Lorenzo. He there treated, says Vasari, of grinding colours with oil, for making red, blue, and green grounds; and [Pg 90]various new methods and sizes for gilding, but not figures. Baldinucci examined the same manuscript, and found these words in the 89th chapter:—"I wish to teach thee how to paint in oil on walls, or on panel, as practised by many Germans;" and on consulting the manuscript, I find, after that passage, "and by the same method on iron and on marble; but I shall first treat of painting on walls." In the succeeding chapters he says, that this must be accomplished "by boiling linseed oil." This appears not to accord with the assertion of Vasari, that John of Bruges, after many experiments, "discovered that linseed oil and nut oil were the most drying. When boiled with his other ingredients they formed the varnish so long sought after by him and all other painters." On weighing the evidence, we should, in my opinion, take three circumstances into consideration: The first is, that Vasari does not deny that oil was employed in painting; since he affirms that it was long a desideratum, and consequently had been often attempted; but that alone is perfect which, "when dry, resists water; which brightens the colours, makes them clear, and perfectly unites them." 2. The oil of Cennini might not be of this sort, either because it was not boiled with the ingredients of Van Eych, or because it was intended only for coarse work; a circumstance rendered probable by the fact, that though he painted the Virgin, with several Saints, in the hospital of Bonifazio, at Florence, "in a good style of colouring," yet he never[Pg 91] excited the admiration nor the envy of artists. 3. The above remarks forbid us to give implicit confidence to every relation that is given of ancient oil pictures; but we are not blindly to reject all accounts of imperfect attempts of that nature. After this digression we return to our narrative.

The painters that remain to be noticed, approach the golden age of the art, of which their works in some degree participate, notwithstanding the dryness of their design, and the general want of harmony in their colouring. The vehicle of their colours was commonly water, very rarely oil. They flourished in the time of Sixtus IV., who, having erected the magnificent chapel that retains his name, invited them from Florence. Their names are Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Rosselli, Luca da Cortona, and D. Bartolommeo d'Arezzo; whom I shall here introduce, together with their followers. Manni, the historian of some of these artists,[79] conjectures that this work was executed about the year 1474. They were desired to pourtray the history of Moses on one part of the chapel, and that of Christ on the other: thus the old law was confronted by the new, the shade by the light, and the type by the person typified. The pontiff was unskilled in the fine arts, but covetous of the glory they confer on the name and actions of princes. To superintend the work, he made choice of Sandro Filipepi, from his first master, a goldsmith, surnamed Botticelli, and the pupil of F. Filippo; a [Pg 92]celebrated artist at that time, and distinguished by his pictures containing a great number of small figures in which he strongly resembled Andrea Mantegna; though his heads were less beautiful. Vasari says, that his little picture of the Calumny of Apelles, is as fine a production as possible, and he pronounces the Assumption, painted for the church of S. Pier Maggiore, to be so excellent, that it ought to silence envy. The former is in the royal gallery, the latter in a private house. What he painted in the Sistine Chapel, however, surpasses all his other works. Here we scarcely recognize Sandro of Florence. The Temptation of Christ, embellished with a magnificent temple, and a crowd of devotees in the vestibule; Moses assisting the daughters of Jethro against the Midianite shepherds, in which there is great richness of drapery, coloured in a new manner; and other subjects, treated with vigour and originality, exhibit him in this place greatly superior to his usual manner. The same observation applies to the painters we are about to notice: such were the effects produced by their emulation; by the sight of a city that is calculated to enlarge the ideas of those who visit it, and by the judgment of a public that is scarcely to be satisfied by what is above mediocrity, because its eye is habituated to what is wonderful.

History does not point out the portion of this work that was performed by Filippino Lippi; the son, as we have already observed, of F. Filippo. It is however highly probable that he assisted; because [Pg 93]he was his father's pupil from a very early age, and because the taste of Lippi, that delighted in portraying the usages of antiquity in his pictures, appears to have been formed while he was still young, and engaged in his studies at Rome. In the life which Cellini has written of himself, he tells us that he had seen several books of antiquities drawn by Lippi; and Vasari gives him credit for being the first who decorated modern paintings by the introduction of grotesques, trophies, armour, vases, edifices and drapery, copied from the models of antiquity; but this I cannot confirm, because it was before attempted by Squarcione. It is true that he excelled in those ornaments, in his landscape and in minute particulars. The S. Bernard of the Abbey, the Magi of the royal museum, and the two frescos in S. Maria Novella; the one the history of S. John, the other of S. Philip, the apostles, please more perhaps by these accessaries of the art than by the countenances, which, indeed, have not the beauty and grace of the elder Lippi. They are faithful portraits, but shew no discrimination. He was invited to Rome to ornament a chapel of the Minerva, in which there is an Assumption by his hand, and some histories of Thomas Aquinas, amongst which the Disputation is the best. In this chapel he shews great improvement in his heads, but was nevertheless surpassed in this respect by his pupil Raffaellino del Garbo, who painted a choir of angels on the ceiling, that would alone suffice to justify the[Pg 94] name by which he was distinguished. In Monte Oliveto at Florence, there is a Resurrection by Raffaellino, where the figures are small, but so graceful withal, so correct in attitude, and so finely coloured, that we can scarcely rank him inferior to any master of that age. There is mention made by the learned Moreni, in the concluding part of his "Memorie Istoriche," (p. 168) of another of his beautiful altar-pieces, still in existence at S. Salvi, with the grado entire. Some early pictures are in a similar state; but becoming the father of a numerous family, he gradually degenerated in his style, and died in poverty and obscurity.

The second whom I have mentioned among the artists in the Sistine Chapel, is Domenico Corradi, surnamed Del Ghirlandaio, from the profession of his father.[80] He was a painter, an excellent worker in mosaic, and even contributed to the improvement of these arts. He painted in the Sistine Chapel the Resurrection of Christ, which has perished; and the Call of S. Peter and S. Andrew, which still remains. He is that Ghirlandaio, in whose school, or on whose manner, not only Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio, his son, but also Bonarruoti, and the best artists of the succeeding era, formed their style. He possessed clearness and purity of outline, correctness of form, and variety of ideas, together with facility and uncommon diligence; he [Pg 95]was the first Florentine, who, by means of true perspective, attained a happy method of grouping, and depth of composition.[81] He was among the first to reject the deep golden fringes to the drapery, that the old masters introduced; who, unable to render their figures beautiful, endeavoured, at least, to make them gaudy. Some of his pictures, however, yet remain, moderately illuminated with gold; as for instance, the Epiphany in the church of the Innocents at Florence. It is a fine work, as is also his chapel in the Holy Trinity, with the actions of S. Francis, and his Nativity, in the sacristy of that church. His most celebrated work is the choir of S. Maria Novella, on one side of which he designed the history of John the Baptist, on the other that of our Lady, and on another part the murder of the Innocents, so much commended by Vasari. It contains a vast many portraits of literary men, and noble citizens, and almost every head is from the life; but they are dignified, and judiciously selected. The hands and feet of the figures, however, do not correspond, and attention to this circumstance is the peculiar merit of Andrea del Sarto, who seems to have carried the manner of Ghirlandaio to perfection. Many works of the latter are scattered over Italy, in Rome, in Rimini, and at Pisa, at the Eremitani di Pietra Santa, and the Camaldolesi of Volterra; where besides the paintings in the refectory, there is in the church a figure of S. Romualdo,[Pg 96] carved by Diana of Mantua. The pictures of this master should not be confounded with those of his scholars, as happens in many instances. Thus the holy families painted by his brothers or his scholars, frequently pass for his; but they are very far from meriting the praise we have justly bestowed on him. Davide, one of his brothers, became very eminent in mosaic; another, Benedetto, painted more in France than in Italy; Bastiano Mainardi, their brother-in-law, was rather the assistant of Domenico, than a painter of originality. Baldino Bandinelli, Niccolo Cieco, Jacopo del Tedesco, and Jacopo Indaco, are little known; except that the last is recorded as having assisted with Pinturicchio, at Rome, and was the brother of Francesco, better known as a painter at Montepulciano than in Florence.

Cosimo Rosselli, whose noble family has produced several other artists, also wrought in the Sistine Chapel. Few of his works remain in public places in his own country, besides the miracle of the sacrament in the church of S. Ambrose, a fresco picture, full of portraits; in which we discover variety, character, and truth. Vasari praises his labours at Rome, less than those of his fellow artists. Being unable to rival his competitors in design, he loaded his pictures with brilliant colours and gilded ornaments, which, though it was at that time condemned by an improving taste, yet pleased the pontiff, who commended and rewarded him beyond all the other artists. Perhaps his best work there, is Christ [Pg 97]preaching on the mount, in which the landscape is said to be the work of Pier di Cosimo, a painter likewise more remarkable for his colouring than his design; as is evident from a picture in the church of the Innocents, and his Perseus in the royal gallery. They are both, however, celebrated in history; the one as the master of del Porta, the other of Andrea del Sarto.

No other Florentine was employed to paint in the Sistine Chapel; but Piero and Antonio Pollaiuoli, who were both statuaries and painters, came there not long afterwards and wrought in bronze the tomb of Sixtus IV. Some of their paintings may yet be seen in the church of S. Miniato, without the walls of Florence, and the altar-piece was transferred to the royal museum. We may there trace the school of Castagno, the master of Piero, in the harsh features, coloured in a strong and juicy manner. Antonio, the scholar of Piero, became one of the best painters of that age. In the chapel of the Marchesi Pucci, at the church of St. Sebastiano de' Servi, there is a martyrdom of the saint by him, which is one of the best pictures of the fifteenth century I have ever seen. The colouring is not in the best style; but the composition rises above the age in which he lived, and the drawing of the naked figure shews what attention he had bestowed on anatomy. He was the first Italian painter who dissected bodies in order to learn the true situations of the tendons and muscles. Both the Pollaiuoli died at Rome, where [Pg 98]their tomb is to be seen in S. Piero in Vincoli, ornamented with a picture, which, according to some, typifies a soul in purgatory, and the efficacy of indulgences to deliver it; but whether it is by them, or of their school, I am unable to determine.

The two following artists were brought to the Sistine Chapel from the Florentine territory, the painters of which I shall now consider after those of the capital. Luca Signorelli, the kinsman of Vasari of Arezzo, and the disciple of Piero della Francesca, was a spirited and expressive painter, and one of the first Tuscan artists who designed figures with a true knowledge of anatomy, though somewhat dryly. The cathedral of Orvieto evinces this; and those naked figures which even Michelangiolo has not disdained to imitate. Although in most of his works we do not discover a proper choice of form, nor a sufficient harmony of colouring in some of them, especially in the communion of the Apostles, painted for the Jesuits in his native city, there is beauty, grace, and tints approaching to modern excellence. He painted in Urbino, at Volterra, Florence, and many other cities. In the Sistine Chapel he painted the Journey of Moses with Sefora, and the Promulgation of the Old Law, paintings full of incident, and superior in composition to the confused style of that age. Vasari and Taia have assigned him the first place in this great assemblage of artists; to me he seems at least to have equalled the best of them, and to have improved on his usual style. He had two countrymen of noble families for pupils;[Pg 99] Tommaso Bernabei, who followed him closely, and has left some works in S. M. del Calcinaio, and Turpino Zaccagna, whose style was different, as appears from a picture painted for the Church of S. Agatha in Cantalena near Cortona, in 1537.

Don Bartolommeo della Gatta executed none of his own designs in the Sistine Chapel; he lent assistance to Signorelli and to Perugino. He had been educated in the monastery of the Angeli, at Florence, rather as a painter of miniatures than of history. On being appointed Abbot of S. Clement, in Arezzo, he exercised both; and was also skilled in music and in architecture. There is of his works only a S. Jerome, executed in the chapel of the cathedral, as we find from a MS. guide to the city, and which was transferred into the sacristy in 1794. The abbot instructed Domenico Pecori and Matteo Lappoli, two gentlemen of Arezzo, who improved themselves in the art on other models, especially the first, as is evident from a picture in the parish church, in which the Virgin receives under her mantle the people of Arezzo, who are recommended to her protection by their patron saints. In it are heads in the style of Francia, good architecture, judicious composition, and a moderate use of gold.

Two miniature painters, according to Vasari, learned much from the precepts, or rather from the example of the abbot. These were Girolamo, also named by Ridolfi, as a pupil of the Paduan school, at the same time with Lancilao; and Vante, or as [Pg 100]he subscribed himself, Attavante Fiorentino. Two of his letters are inserted in the third volume of the Lettere Pittoriche; and it may be collected from Vasari and Tiraboschi,[82] that Vante ornamented with miniatures many books for Matthias, king of Hungary, which afterwards remained in the Medicean and Estensean libraries. The learned Sig. Ab. Morelli, who has the direction of the library of S. Mark at Venice, shewed me one in that place. It is a work of Marziano Capella, where the subject is poetically expressed by the painter. The assembly of the Gods, the emblems of the arts and sciences, the grotesque ornaments here and there set off with little portraits, discover in Vante a genius that admirably seconded the ideas of the author. The design resembles the best works of Botticelli; the colouring is gay, lively, and brilliant; the excellence of the work ought to confer on the artist greater celebrity than he enjoys. In the life of D. Bartolommeo, Vasari, or his printers, have confounded Attavante with Gherardo, the miniature painter, who at the same time was a worker in mosaic, an engraver in the style of Albert Durer, and a painter; of him there are some remains in each of these arts; but they were certainly different individuals, as is demonstrated by Sig. Piacenza.

Having a little before named Pietro Perugino, who long taught in Tuscany, we may here mention [Pg 101]the pupils who retained his manner. These were Rocco Zoppo, whose Madonnas remain in many private houses in Florence, I believe, to this day, and are in the manner of Pietro; Baccio Ubertini, a great colourist, and on that account willingly adopted as an assistant of his master; Francesco, the brother of Baccio, surnamed Bacchiacca, known at S. Lorenzo by the martyrdom of S. Arcadius, executed in small figures, in which, as well as in the grotesque, he was very eminent, and nearly approached the modern style. To these artists who lived in Florence, their native country, we may add Niccolo Soggi, likewise a Florentine, but who, to shun the concourse of more able painters, fixed his residence in Arezzo, where he had sufficient employment. His accuracy, his studious habits, and his high finish, may be there contemplated in the Christ in the Manger, in the church of Madonna delle Lagrime, and in many other places in the city and its environs. It would have been fortunate had he possessed more genius, but this gift of nature, which, to use the words of a poet,[83] confers immortality on books, and I would add pictures, was not granted to Soggi. Vasari has given this character of a diligent, but meagre, and frigid painter, also to Gerino da Pistoia, in which place one of his pictures, now in the royal gallery, was painted for the monks of S. Pier Maggiore; several others are in the city of S. Sepulcro, and [Pg 102]some even in Rome, where he assisted Pinturicchio. With the two preceding, I class Montevarchi, a painter so named from his own country, beyond which he is almost unknown. Among these artists, though they were scholars of Pietro, we find imitators of the Florentines of the fourteenth century. I omit the name of Bastiano da S. Gallo, who continued with him only a short time, and left him on account of the aversion he had conceived to the dryness of his style. In the Florentine history, by Varchi (book 10), we find mention of a Vittorio di Buonaccorso Ghiberti, who on occasion of the siege of Florence by the family of the Medici, in 1529, painted the figure of the Pontiff, Clement VII. on the façade of the principal chamber of the Medici, in the last act of hanging from the gallows. But neither of this, nor of any other production from so infamous a hand, do there remain any traces in Florence, at least that I have been able to discover, from which to judge either of the manner or the master of Vittorio.

I close the catalogue of old Tuscan painters with an illustrious native of Lucca, named the elder Zacchia, who was educated at Florence, though not invariably adhering to the taste of that ancient school, either in design, which was his chief excellence, or in an outline somewhat harsh and cutting, which was his greatest defect. He obtained the name of the elder, to distinguish him from another Zacchia, who, on the other hand, shewed more softness of contour, and more strength of colouring, [Pg 103]but in design, and in every other respect, was held in less estimation. I know only of one picture by the latter artist, which is in the chapel of the Magistrates; but several altar-pieces by the former, are to be seen in the churches of Lucca, and among them an Assumption in that of S. Augustine; a picture displaying much study and elegance, and among his last works, as I am led to believe by its bearing the date 1527. One of his Madonnas, surrounded by saints, formerly in the parish church of S. Stefano, is now in the house of Sig. March. Jacopo Sardini, which is enriched by other paintings, by a valuable collection of drawings, and still more by the presence of its learned possessor, to whom I am indebted for many notices interspersed throughout this work.

Such was the state of the art in Tuscany, about the beginning of the sixteenth century. Much was then attained, because nature began to be imitated, especially in the heads, to which the artists imparted a vivacity, that even at this day is surprising. On viewing the figures and portraits of those times, they actually appear to look at, and to desire to enter into conversation with the beholder. It still remained, however, to give ideal beauty to the figure, fulness to design, and harmony to colouring, a true method to aerial perspective, variety to composition, and freedom to the pencil, which on the whole was still timid. Every circumstance conspired to this melioration of the art in Florence as well as in other places. The taste [Pg 104]for magnificent edifices had revived throughout Italy. Many of the finest churches, many public edifices, and ducal palaces, which still remain at Milan, Mantua, and Venice, in Urbino, Rimini, Pesaro, and Ferrara, were executed about this period; not to mention those buildings in Florence and in Rome, where magnificence contended with elegance. It became necessary to ornament them, and this produced that noble emulation among artists, that grand fermentation of ideas, which invariably advances the progress of art. The study of poetry, so analogous to that of painting, had increased to a degree which conferred on the whole age the epithet of Golden; a name which it certainly did not merit on the score of more severe studies. The design of the artists of that period, though something dry, was yet pure and correct, and afforded the best instruction to the succeeding age. It is very justly observed, that scholars can more easily give a certain fulness to the meagre outline of their models, than curtail the superfluity of a heavy contour. On this account, some professors of the art are inclined to believe, that it would be much more advantageous to habituate students in the beginning, to the precision characteristic of the fifteenth century, than to the exuberance introduced in after-times. Such circumstances produced the happiest era that distinguishes the annals of painting. The schools of Italy, owing to mutual imitation, before that period strongly resembled each other; but having then attained [Pg 105]maturity, each began to display a marked and peculiar character.

That of the Florentine school I shall describe in the next Epoch; but I first propose to treat of several other arts analogous to that of painting, and in particular of engraving upon copper, the discovery of which is ascribed to Florence. To this the art is indebted for an accession of new aids; the work of an artist, before confined to a single spot, was diffused through the world, and gratified the eyes of thousands.

[61] "The number of artists of whom, by consulting old authors, I can collect nothing more than the time they lived, their name and occupation, and their death, (I speak of those who lived about the year 1300,) amounts in the city of Florence alone to nearly a hundred, without including those who have been discovered and noticed by some of our antiquarians; and exclusive of those we find mentioned in the old book of the Society of Painters." (See Baldinucci in Notizie del Gioggi.) The Florentine painters of this age, whose names have been produced by the Canon Moreni from the records of the diplomatic archive, may be seen in part the fourth of his Notizie Istoriche, p. 102. Others have been collected and communicated to me by the Abbate Vincenzo Follini, Librarian to the Magliabecchi collection, extracted from various MSS. of the same, besides those from the Novelle Litterarie of Florence, from the Delizie de' Letter. of the P. Ildefonso, C. S. and from the Viaggi of Targioni; works which will always be found to supply the brevity of the present history.

[62] Vasari.

[63] They are believed to be anterior to the year 1300 by the historian of the art of Painting at Friuli; but to this I cannot agree. The pictures bear a very great resemblance to the designs of Orcagna; or rather to the poetry of Dante, who, in the year above mentioned, feigns to have had his vision, and described it in the years immediately succeeding. In confirmation of this opinion, it must be remarked that the style is Florentine, and induces us to suppose that a painter of that school must have been there. See Lettera postuma del P. Cortinovis sopra le Antichità di Sesto, published in the Giornale Veneto, (or Memorie per servire all' Istoria Letter. e Civile) Semestre ii. p. 1. of the year 1800. It was reprinted at Udine in 1801, in octavo, with some excellent notes by the Cav. Antonio Bartolini, who has distinguished himself by other productions connected with bibliography and the fine arts.

[64] Vide Giuseppe Maria Mecatti, who has given an exact description of it.

[65] Vasari is by no means so bitter against the Venetian school as it is wished to make him appear. In regard to these pictures he declares, "that they are universally admitted, with justice, to be the best which were produced among many excellent masters, at different times, in that place." They are, therefore, preferred by him to the whole of the Florentine and Siennese paintings there exhibited; and his opinion is authorized by that of P. della Valle, who frequently differs from him. If it could be proved from history, as it may be reasonably conjectured, that Antonio was a painter when he came from Venice, and did not commence his art at Florence, he would merit the reputation of being the greatest artist of that school known to us; as well as of having conferred some benefit upon that of Florence, from the Venetian school. But this point is very doubtful.

[66] We cannot reconcile it to dates that Paolo Uccello was one of his scholars, having been born after the death of Antonio, if, indeed, there be not some error in regard to the chronology either of the master or of his pupil. Starnina might have been his pupil, as he is said to have been born in 1354; and, therefore, in 1370, he might possibly be one of his school. Yet it appears that Antonio had then renounced the easel. In his epitaph we find written:

Annis qui fueram pictor Juvenilibus, artis Me Medicæ reliquo tempore cœpit amor, &c.

(See Vasari ed. Senese, tom. ii. p. 297.)

[67] The old painters varied the manner of their superscriptions, even in the following ages, according to the taste of the Greeks. Sebastianus Venetus pingebat a. 1520; is written upon a St. Agatha in the Palazzo Pitti; and this corresponds to the ΕΠΟΙΕΙ, faciebat; by which the Greek sculptors wished to convey, that such work was not intended to exhibit their last effort; so that they were at liberty to improve it when they pleased. The subscription of Opus Belli is obvious, and similar ones, drawn from the ΕΡΓΟΝ, (for example,) ΛΥΣΡΡΟΥ which we see in Maffei. I recount in my fifth book as singular, the epigraph Sumus Rogerii manus; it is, however, derived from the Greeks, who, for instance, sometimes wrote ΧΕΙΡ. ΑΜΒΡΟΣΙΟΥ. ΜΟΝΑΧΟΥ, as I read in a Fabrianese church called Della Carità, where there is a picture of the General Judgment; the figures very small, and highly finished, upon a large tablet; with, I think, more figures than are seen in the Paradise of Tintoretto. ΧΕΙΡ ΒΙΤΟΡΕ, was written by Vittor Carpaccio, under his portrait cited in the index. I omit other forms better known. That adopted at Trevigi, Hieronymus Tarvisio, is very erudite; and it is imitated from the military latercoli, in which, with the same view, the soldier and his country are named. In short, where the words fecit or pinxit are not used, the best plan was that of giving the proper name in the genitive case at the foot of the picture, as the engravers of Greek gems were wont to do in inscriptions, as ΑΥΛΟΥ ΔΙΟΣΚΟΡΙΔΟΥ, &c.

[68] Pascoli, tom. i. p. 199.

[69] Vasari.

[70] Verona Illustrata, tom. iii. p. 277.

[71] Gloria is a name given in Italy to a representation of the celestial regions.

[72] Vasari.

[73] In the dictionary of Guarienti, in the article, Gio. Abeyk, appears an account of a picture of this artist, existing in the gallery at Dresden, bearing date 1416; a time, says the writer, when he enjoyed his highest reputation, by painting in his second manner, in oil. It represents the Virgin in a majestic seat with the divine infant, who is seen very gracefully receiving an apple from St. Anne, seated on a couch of straw. The young St. John is seen assisting, and also St. Joseph, whose countenance represents the portrait of the painter himself. The introduction of arms shews that the picture must have been executed for some distinguished person. It is in high preservation, and is pronounced by Guarienti the miracle of painting, from its display of extreme diligence, even in the minute furniture, and particularly because the chamber in which the scene is represented, the couch, the window, the pavement, executed a punto alto, together with the whole action, are conducted with the most exact rules of perspective.

[74] In 1454 he was in great credit at Perugia. (See Mariotti, Lett. Perug. p. 133.)

[75] Lib. i. c. 18. Accipe semen lini, et exsicca illud in sartagine super ignem sine aqua, &c. Brustolato says, it should be pounded, and again subjected to the fire in water, then put into a press between cloths, and the oil extracted. He continues: Cum hoc oleo tere minium sive cenobrium super lapidem sine aqua, et cum pincello linies super ostia vel tabulas quas rubricare volueris, et ad solem siccabis, deinde iterum linies et siccabis. And in chap. 22, he says,—Accipe colores quos imponere volueris, terens eos diligenter, oleo lini sine aqua; et fac mixturas vultuum ac vestimentorum sicut superius aqua feceras, et bestias, sive aves, aut folia, variabis suis coloribus prout libuerit.

[76] Gottingen, 1792. See Esprit des Journaux, Ottobre, 1792.

[77] Raspe (Lib. Cit.). Della Valle (Ann. al Vasari, tom. iii. p. 313). Tiraboschi (St. Lett. tom. vi. p. 407). Vernazza (Giorn. Pisano, tom. xciv. p. 220), cited by Morelli (Notizia, p. 114). More recently is added the authority of P. Federici Domenicano. It is absurd to suppose that Tommaso da Modena, or, according to him, da Trevigi, carried the discovery from this city into Germany, from whence it was subsequently communicated to Flanders.

[78] Pisa Illustrata, p. 160, et seq.

[79] See Opuscoli del Calogerà, tom. xlv.

[80] This person invented and fabricated an ornament called ghirlanda or garland, worn on the heads of the Florentine children.

[81] Mengs, tom. ii. p. 109.

[82] Tom. vi. p. 1204.

[83] Victurus genium debet habere liber. Martial.



Origin and progress of Engraving on Copper and Wood.


The subject of which I propose here to treat, ought to be more carefully examined than any other portion of this work. The age in which I write is, we know, by many called the age of brass, inasmuch as it has been less productive of great names and great pictoric works, than the preceding; yet I believe we might better denominate it such from the number of engravings, which have recently been carried to a high degree of excellence. The number of their connoisseurs has increased beyond calculation; new collections every where appear, and the prices have proportionably advanced, while treatises upon the art are [Pg 106]rapidly multiplied. It has become a part of liberal knowledge to discern the name and hand of a master, as well as to specify the most beautiful works of each engraver. Thus, during the decline of painting, the art of engraving on copper has risen in estimation; modern artists in some points equal or surpass the more ancient; their reputation, their remuneration, and the quick process of their labours, attract the regard of many men of genius born to adorn the arts, who to the loss of painting, devote their attention to the graver.

The origin of this art is to be sought for in that of cutting on wood, just as in printing, the use of wooden types led to the adoption of metal. The period of the first invention of wood engraving is unknown; the French and the Germans tracing it to that of playing-cards, which the former affirm were first used in France in the time of Charles V.; while the latter maintain they were in use much earlier in Germany, or before the year 1300.[84] Both these opinions were first attacked by Papillon, in his "Treatise upon cutting in Wood," where he claims the merit of the discovery for Italy, and finds the most ancient traces of the art about the year 1285, at Ravenna. His account of it is republished in the preface to the fifth volume of Vasari, printed at Siena; but it is mixed up with so [Pg 107]many assertions, to which it is difficult to give credit, that I must decline considering it at all. The Cav. Tiraboschi is a far more plausible and judicious advocate in favour of Italy.[85] On the subject of cards, he brings forward a MS. by Sandro di Pippozzo di Sandro, entitled Trattato del Governo della Famiglia. It was written in 1299, and has been cited by the authors of the Della Cruscan dictionary, who quote, among other passages, the following words: "if you will play for money, or thus, or at cards, you shall provide them," &c. We may hence infer, that playing-cards were known with us earlier than elsewhere, so that if the invention of stamping upon wood was derived from them, we have a just title to the discovery. In all probability, however, it does not date its origin so early; the oldest playing-cards were doubtless the work of the pen, and coloured by the old illuminators, first practised in France, and not wholly extinct in Italy at the time of Filippo Maria Visconti, duke of Milan.[86]

The first indication we meet with of printed play-cards, is in a public decree issued at Venice in 1441; where it says that "the art and trade of cards and printed figures, that is carried on at Venice," was on the decline, "owing to the great increase of playing-cards with coloured figures stamped," which were introduced from abroad; and [Pg 108]that such importation should be prohibited for the future. Sig. Zanetti, to whom we are indebted for this information,[87] is of opinion, that they were in use long before 1441; because the art is seen to have first flourished there, afterwards to have fallen into disuse, and again revived, owing to the protection afforded it by the State. These vicissitudes, that suppose the lapse of many years, will carry us back at least to the commencement of the fifteenth century. To this period, it appears, we ought to refer those ancient specimens of play-cards, which were collected for the cabinet of Count Giacomo Durazzo, formerly imperial ambassador at Venice, and are now to be seen in that of the Marquis Girolamo, his nephew. They are of larger dimensions than those now in use, and are of a very strong texture, not unlike that of the paper made of cotton, found in the ancient manuscripts. The figures are exhibited on a gold ground in the manner before described;[88] there are three kings, two queens, and two knaves, one on horseback; and each has a club, or sword, or money. I could perceive no trace of suits, either because they had not then come into use, or more probably because so limited a number of cards can convey no complete idea of the whole game. The design approaches very nearly to that of Jacobello del Fiore; to the best judges the workmanship appears the effect of printing, the colours being given by perforations [Pg 109]in the die. I know of no other more ancient specimen of its kind.

In the meanwhile printing of books being introduced into Italy, it was quickly followed by the practice of ornamenting them with figures in wood. The Germans had afforded examples of cutting sacred images in this material,[89] and the same was done in regard to some of the initial letters during the early progress of typography, a discovery which was extended at Rome, in a book published in 1467, and at Verona in another, with the date of 1472. The former contains the Meditations of Card. Turrecremata, with figures also cut in wood, and afterwards coloured: the latter bears the title of Roberti Valturii opus de re militari, and it is adorned with a number of figures, or drawings of machines, fortifications, and assaults; a very rare work, in the possession of Count Giuseppe Remondini, along with many other specimens of the earliest period, collected for his private library, where I saw it. It is worth remarking, that the book of Turrecremata was printed by Ulderico Han, that of Valturio by Gio. da Verona, and that in this last the wood-cuts are ascribed to Matteo Pasti, [Pg 110]the friend of Valturio, and a good painter for those times.[90] After this first progress the art of wood engraving continued gradually to advance, and was cultivated by many distinguished men, such as Albert Durer in Germany; in Italy by Mecherino di Siena, by Domenico delle Greche, by Domenico Campagnola, and by others down to Ugo da Carpi, who marks a new epoch in this art, by an invention, of which we shall speak in the school of Modena.

If it be the progress of the human mind to advance from the more easy to more difficult discoveries, we may venture to suppose that the art of engraving on wood led to that of engraving on copper; and so, to a certain extent, it probably did. Vasari, however, who wrote the history of Tuscan professors, rather than of painting itself, refers its origin to works in niello, or inlaid modelling work, a very ancient art, much in use, more especially at Florence, during the fifteenth century; though it was quite neglected in the following, in spite of the efforts of Cellini to support it. It was applied to household furniture, silver ornaments, and sacred vessels, such as holy cups and vases, to missals and other devotional books, and to reliquaries; as well as to profane purposes, as adorning the hilts of swords, table utensils, and many kinds of female ornaments. In some kinds of ebony desks and escrutoires it was held [Pg 111]in great request, for its little silver statues, and modelled plates, representing figures, histories, and flowers. In the cathedral of Pistoia there still remains a large silver palliotto, adorned in places with plates, on which are figured images in niello, and little scripture histories. The method was to cut with the chisel upon the silver whatever history, portrait, or flowers, was required,[91] and afterwards to fill up the hollow part of the engraving with a mixture of silver and lead, which, from its dark colour, was called, by the ancients, nigellum, which our countrymen curtailed into niello; a substance which, being incorporated with the silver, produced the effect of shadow, contrasted with its clearness, and gave to the entire [Pg 112]work the appearance of a chiaroscuro in silver. There were many excellent niellatori, or inlayers, who cast models with this substance, such as Forzore, brother to Parri Spinelli of Arezzo, Caradosso and Arcioni of Milan;[92] and three Florentines, who rivalled each other at S. Giovanni, Matteo Dei, Antonio del Pollaiuolo, and Maso Finiguerra; specimens of whose paci, cut with wonderful accuracy, acquired for them the highest reputation.

We are to attribute to Maso, says Vasari, "the beginning of engraving upon copper," an art, which for the sake of greater perspicuity, I shall distinguish into three different states; the first of which will be found as follows. Finiguerra was in the habit of never filling the little hollows or cuts prepared in the silver plate until he had first made proof of his work. "For this purpose, as in taking a cast, he impressed them with earth, upon the top of which having thrown a quantity of liquid sulphur, they became imprinted, and filled with smoke; which, with the aid of oil, gave him the effect of the work in silver. He also produced the same with moistened paper, and with the same tint or ink, pressing it sufficiently hard with a round roller, with a smooth surface throughout. [Pg 113]This gave them not only the effect of being printed, but that of having been designed with ink."[93] So far we quote Vasari in the preface to his Life of Marc Antonio. He adds, that in this plan Finiguerra was followed by Baldini, a Florentine goldsmith; next to whom he mentions Botticelli; and he might have added the name of Pollaiuolo. Finally, he concludes that the invention was communicated from Florence to Mantegna at Rome, and to Martino, called De Clef, in Flanders.

These proofs, the first of their kind, made by Finiguerra, have, for the most part, perished. Some, which are attributed to him, in possession of the fathers of Camaldoli, are not ascertained to be his.[94] [Pg 114]We are assured, however, that the sulphur of the pace[95] cut for S. Giovanni in 1452, upon which he represented the Assumption of our Lady, in a variety of minute figures, is from his hand. It was formerly in the museum of the Proposto Gori, who gave a description of it in his Dittici (a treatise upon a peculiar kind of altar-pieces, tom. iii. p. 315), and it is now in the Durazzo cabinet, with a memorandum in Gori's own hand, in which he declares that he had compared it with the original.[96] [Pg 115]Of the proofs made on paper none are ascertained to exist, with the exception of that of the Assumption recognized by the Ab. Zani, in the national collection at Paris. It was made known by him in the year 1803; and to this I may add the Epiphany, in an inferior style, but more exactly finished, which I found in the possession of the Senator Martelli, besides a duplicate belonging to S. E. Seratti. It appears from its style, the work of Finiguerra, and to have been executed before the Assumption. It is doubtful whether specimens exist in the ducal gallery, a question which I leave to the [Pg 116]solution of abler pens than mine. We have in the Durazzo collection, the proofs or models of many silversmiths, whose names are unknown; and for many more we are indebted to Sig. Antonio Armanno, an excellent connoisseur in prints, to whom I shall have occasion to recur more than once. Following the ideas thrown out by Vasari in the passage cited, he concluded that these impressions might happen to have been confounded with pen designs, owing to the resemblance between them; he therefore sought for them in collections of designs, and, having recognized them, purchased them for Count Giacomo, his patron.

Many of these were met with in the ancient Gadi gallery at Florence; the work of artificers much inferior to Finiguerra, at least if we except two specimens not unworthy even of his hand. To these a number of others were afterwards added from different schools of Italy. Sometimes we may gather their origin from the design; sometimes with more certainty from inscriptions, and other unequivocal signs of the period. For instance, we read the following words in a Presepio,[97] engraved in reversed characters: "Dominus Philippus Stancharius fieri fecit;" where the family which is named, along with other circumstances, shew it to have been executed at Bologna. One small print represents a woman turning towards a cat; and on it is written, also in reverse, "Va in la Caneva;" [Pg 117]in another we read Mantengave Dio; both which are either Lombard or Venetian, if we may judge from the dialect. From all this we have a right to conclude that Vasari's words, which ascribe to Finiguerra the practice of proving his works before he inserted the niello, are not to be limited to him only, or to his school. On the contrary, it appears that Caradosso, as well as all the best Italian artificers, considered it as no small portion of their art, and that they only attained correctness in the process of inlaying and modelling by dint of such proofs, and not by mere chance. Nor does Vasari's silence militate against this. He repeatedly complains, in different parts of his work, that he could not obtain sufficiently full and satisfactory information regarding the Venetian and Lombard schools; and if he confesses his ignorance of so many things pertaining to their schools of painting, it is not surprising that he should know less of their engraving.

The proofs, therefore, of the niellatori on paper are to be found in all parts of Italy, and they may be particularly known from the position of the letters, which being written on the original models in the ordinary way, appear in the impression like the eastern characters, from right to left; and in like manner the other part of the impression is seen in reverse; as for instance, a saint is seen standing on the left hand, who, from his dignity, ought to have occupied the right, and the actors all write, play music, and do every thing with the [Pg 118]left hand. There are other signs which serve to distinguish them; because, having been pressed by hand, or with a roller, they leave no mark or furrows in the outlines; nor are we to look for that delicacy and precision in the lines that appear in impressions from under the press. They are moreover characterized by their colour, which merely consisted of lamp black and of oil, or of some other very slight tint; though both this and the preceding are dubious signs, as we shall shew. It is conjectured that proofs of a similar[98] nature were made by silver carvers, in regard to their graphic labours, and to others in which the niello was not employed. At all events they preserved them in their studies, and in those of their pupils, to whom they afforded a model; and in this way several have been handed down to our own times.

From these early efforts, the art gradually advanced, as it appears to me, until it attained what I call the second state of the impression. When the pleasing effect of these proofs was seen, the idea was struck out, of forming works in the same delicate and finished taste, and for this purpose to make use of the same means as had been until then adopted for impressions in wood. We might thus observe, that in the workshop of the goldsmith was prepared the art of chalcography, and the first labours were executed upon silver, upon tin, or, as[Pg 119] Heineken observes, upon some composition less hard than copper. We may remark, that such was the practice of the Italians, before they cut their subjects in copper; but whatever material the first goldsmiths might adopt, it was not difficult for them to substitute for the shadow they produced by the niello, the shadow of the cut itself, and to execute the subject on the reverse, in order to receive the impression right. From that time, they proceeded gradually to refine the art. Both the roller and the press which they had then in use were very imperfect, and, to improve the impression, they first enclosed the plate in a frame of wood, with four small nails to prevent its slipping; upon this they placed the paper, and over it a small moist linen cloth, which was then pressed down with force. Hence, in the first old impressions, we may plainly trace on the reverse the marks of the linen, for which felt was next substituted, which leaves no trace behind it.[99] They next made trial of various tints; and gave the preference to a light azure or blue, with which the chief part of the old prints are coloured.[100] The same method [Pg 120]was adopted in forming the fifty cards, which are commonly called the game of Mantegna. I saw them, for the first time, in possession of his excellency the Marchese Manfredini, major-domo to the Duke of Tuscany, whose cabinet is filled with many of the choicest prints. Another copy I found in possession of the Ab. Boni, and a third formerly belonging to the Duke of Cassano, was afterwards transferred to the very valuable collection made by the Senator Prior Seratti. There is also a copy of this game on a large scale, with some alterations (as, for instance, La Fede bears a large instead of a small cross, as in the original), and is of a much later date. A second copy, not so very rare, with a number of variations, is in existence; and in this the first card bears the Venetian lion as ensign, with the two letters C. and E. united. The card of the Doge is inscribed the Doxe; and elsewhere we read in the same way, Artixan, Famejo, and other words in the Venetian idiom, which proves that the author of so large and fine a work must have belonged to the city of Venice or to the state. The design displays much of Mantegna, and of the Paduan school; though the cut is not ascertained to be that of Andrea, or of any other known master of that age. A careful but timid hand is discernible, betraying traces of a copyist of another's designs, rather than of an original invention. Time only may possibly clear up this doubt.

Proceeding from cards to books, we are made [Pg 121]acquainted with the first attempts at ornamenting them with cuts in metal. The most celebrated of these consist of the Monte Santo di Dio, and the Commedia of Dante, both printed at Florence, and the two editions of Ptolemy's Geography, at Rome and Bologna; to which we may add the Geography of Berlinghieri, printed at Florence; all the three accompanied with tables. The authors of these engravings are not well known; except so far as we learn from Vasari, that Botticelli was one who acquired the most reputation. He represented the Inferno, and took the impression; and the two histories, executed by Gio. de Lamagna in his Dante, display all the design and composition of Sandro, so as to leave no doubt of their being his.[101] Other prints are likewise found pasted in a few of the copies of the same edition, amounting, more or less, to the number of nineteen; and their manner is more coarse and mean,[102] as we are informed by the Cav. Gaburri, who collected them for his cabinet. They must have been executed by some inferior hand, and with the knowledge of the printer, who had left blank spaces in parts of the work intended to receive the engravings, not yet completed on the publication of the work. Of a similar cast were other anonymous engravers of that period, nor is there any name, except those of Sandro and of Pollaiuolo, truly distinguished in the art among the Florentines. In Upper Italy, besides [Pg 122]Mantegna, Bartolommeo Montagna, his pupil, from Vicenza, (to whom some add Montagna his brother,) and Marcello Figolino, their fellow citizen, were both well known. Figolino is asserted to have been the same artist as one Robetta, or rather one who subscribes himself so, or R. B. T. A.; yet he ought not to be separated from the Florentine school, to which Vasari refers him, which the character of his design confirms. The names of Nicoletto da Modena, F. Gio. Maria da Brescia, a Carmelite monk, and of his brother Gio. Antonio, have also survived; as well as Giulio and Domenico Campagnola of Padua. There are not a few anonymous productions which only announce that they were executed in the Venetian or Lombard manner. For such artificers as were in the habit of taking impressions from the roller, either wholly omitted names, or only affixed that of the designer, or merely gave their own initials, which are now either doubtful, or no longer understood. For instance, they would write M. F., which Vasari interprets into Marc-antonio Francia, while others read Marcello Figolino, and a third party, Maso Finiguerra; this last quite erroneously, as, after the most minute researches, made by the very able Cavaliere Gaburri, throughout Florence, there is no engraving of that artist to be found.[103] In the Durazzo collection, after twelve plates, which are supposed to be [Pg 123]proofs of the silver engravers, printed in reverse, we find several others of the first impressions taken with the roller, and appearing to the right; but not unlike the proofs in the mechanical part of the impression, and in regard to the uncertainty of their artists. For this, and other information on the subject, I am indebted to the kindness of the Ab. Boni, who having enjoyed the familiar acquaintance of Count Giacomo, is now engaged in preparing a full account of his fine collection.

The last state of engraving on copper I consider to be that in which the press and the printing ink being now discovered, the art began to approach nearer perfection; and it was then it became first separated from the goldsmith's art, like the full grown offspring, received pupils, and opened its studio apart. It is difficult to fix the precise epoch when it attained this degree of perfection in Italy. The same artificers who had employed the roller, were some of them living, to avail themselves of the press, such as Nicoletto da Modena, Gio. Antonio da Brescia, and Mantegna himself, of whose prints there exist, as it were, two editions; the one with the roller, exhibiting faint tints, the other in good ink, and from the press. Then the engravers first becoming jealous lest others should appropriate their reputation, affixed their own names more frequently to their works; beginning with their initials, and finally attaching the full name. The Germans held out the earliest examples, which our countrymen imitated; with one[Pg 124] who surpassed all his predecessors, the celebrated Marc Antonio Raimondi, or del Francia. He was a native of Bologna, and was instructed in the art of working in niello by Francesco Francia, in which he acquired singular skill. Proceeding next to engravings upon metal, he began with engraving some of the productions of his master. At first he imitated Mantegna, then Albert Durer, and subsequently perfected himself in design under Raffaello d'Urbino. This last afforded him further assistance; he even permitted his own grinder of colours, Baviera, to manage the press, in order that Marc Antonio might devote himself wholly to engraving Raffaello's designs, to which we owe the number we meet with in different collections. He pursued the same plan with the works of antiquity, as well as those of a few moderns, of Bonarruoti, of Giulio Romano, and of Bandinelli, besides several others, of which he was both the designer and engraver. Sometimes he omitted every kind of mark, and every letter; sometimes he adopted the little tablet of Mantegna, either with letters or without. In some engravings of the Passion he counterfeited both the hand and the mark of Albert Durer: and not unfrequently he gave the initial letters of his own and of Raffaello's name, and that of Michel Angiolo Fiorentino upon those he engraved after Bonarruoti. He was assisted by his two pupils, Agostin Veneziano and Marco Ravignano, who succeeded him in the series of engravings from Raffaello; which led Vasari to observe, in his Life of Marc[Pg 125] Antonio, that, "between Agostino and Marco nearly all Raffaello's designs and paintings had been engraved." These two executed works conjointly; till at length they parted, and each affixed to his productions the two initial letters of his name and country.

It was thus the art of engraving in the studio of Raffaello, and by means of Marc Antonio, and of his school, rose to a high degree of perfection, not many years after its first commencement. Since that period no artist has appeared capable of treating it with more knowledge of design, and with more precision of lines and contour; though in other points it has acquired much from the hand of Parmigianino, who engraved in aqua-fortis,[104] from Agostino Caracci, and from different foreigners of the last century, among whom we may notice Edelink, Masson, Audran, Drevet, and, in the present age, several, both Italians and strangers, of whom, in this place, we must refrain from speaking.

I may be permitted, in this place, to enter into a brief investigation of the long contested question of engraving upon copper, whether its discovery is to be attributed to Germany or to Italy; and if to Italy, whether to Florence or to some other place. Much has been written upon the subject, both by natives and foreigners, but, if I mistake [Pg 126]not, it has scarcely been treated with that accuracy which is necessary for the attainment of truth. That it is quite requisite to divide this branch of art into three several states or stages, I trust I have already sufficiently shewn. In following up this division we shall have a better chance of ascertaining what portion of merit ought to be awarded to each country. Vasari, together with Cellini, in his "Treatise upon the Goldsmith's art," as well as most other writers, are inclined to refer its commencement to Florence, and to the artist Finiguerra. Doubts have since arisen; while so recent an author as Bottari, himself a Florentine, mentions it as a circumstance not yet ascertained. The epoch of Maso was altered through mistake, by Manni, who speaks of his decease as happening previous to 1424.[105] This has been corrected by reference to the authentic books of the Arte de' Mercanti, in which the pace already cited is mentioned as being paid for in the year 1452. About the same time, Antonio Pollaiuolo, still a youth, as we learn from Vasari, in his life, was the rival of Finiguerra in the church of S. Giovanni; and as Maso had at that period already acquired great celebrity, we may conclude that he was of a mature age, and experienced in the art. We have further a right to suppose, with Gaburri and Tiraboschi, that having then taken proofs "of all the subjects which he had engraved on silver," he had observed this custom from the year 1440, and perhaps earlier; [Pg 127]and we thus discover the elements of chalcography in Florence, satisfactorily deduced from history.[106] For neither with the aid of history, monuments, nor reasoning, am I enabled to discover an epoch equally remote belonging to any other country; as we shall shew, in the first place, in regard to Germany. It possesses no annals so far back as that period. The credulity of Sandrart[107] led him to question the truth of this, by referring to a small print of uncertain origin, on which he believed he could read the date 1411, and upon another that of 1455. At this period, however, when the authority of Sandrart is of small account, no less from his frequent contradictions than his partiality, which has rendered him suspected even by his own countrymen, we may receive his two engravings as false coin, not valuable enough to purchase the credit of the discovery from us. Those two distinguished writers, Meerman,[108] and the Baron Heineken,[109] were equally bent upon refuting [Pg 128]him. They do not pretend to trace any earlier engraver in Germany than Martin Schön, called by others Bonmartino, and by Vasari, Martino di Anversa,[110] who died in 1486. Some are of opinion that he had two brothers, who assisted him, but who are unknown; and not long after appear the names of Israel Meckeln,[111] Van Bockold, Michael Wolgemuth, master to Albert Durer, with many others who approached the sixteenth century. It is contended, however, that engraving on copper was known in Germany anterior to these; as there exist specimens by doubtful hands, which have the appearance of being much earlier. Meerman, on the authority of Christ,[112] adduces one with the initials C. E. and the date 1465, besides two described by Bar. Heineken, dated 1466, the first of which is signed f. Illustration: Upsidedown 4 s, the second b x s, and both the artists unknown. He declares that he had never seen older engravings that bore a name, (p. 231,) and observes that their manner resembles [Pg 129]that of Schön, only coarser, which leads him to suspect that the authors must have been his masters, (p. 220). But whoever was Schön's master, Heineken concludes he must have flourished more than ten years earlier than his time, so as to bring it back to 1450, when the art of engraving by the burin was undoubtedly practised in Germany, (p. 220). And as if this appeared too little to be granted, he adds, about four pages further on, "that he was tempted to place the epoch of its discovery at least towards the year 1440."

The cause is well pleaded, but it is not carried. Let us try to confront reasons with reasons. The Italians have the testimony of history in their favour; the Germans have it against them. The former, without any attempt at exaggeration, proceed as far back as 1440, and even farther;[113] the latter, by dint of conjecture, reach as far as 1450, and are only tempted to anticipate it by ten years date. The Italians commence the art with Maso, not from his master; the Germans are not content to date from Schön, but from his master, an advantage they either deny to Italy, and thus fail to draw an equal comparison; or if they concede the master, we still anticipate by ten years their origin of chalcography. The Italians, again, confirm the truth of their history by a number of authentic documents, proofs in niello, first impressions, and the progress of the art from its earliest stages to maturity. The Germans supply their historic [Pg 130]deficiency by monuments, in part proved to be false, in part doubtful, and which are easily convicted of insufficiency for the proposed object. Because who can assure us that the prints of 1465 or 66, are not the production of the brothers or the disciples of Schön, since Heineken himself confesses that they were possibly the work of some contemporary artists, his inferiors? Do we not find in Italy that the followers of Botticelli are inferior to him, and appear to be of earlier date? Moreover, who can assure us that Schön was instructed by a master of his own nation; when all his engravings that have been hitherto produced, appear already perfect in their kind;[114] nor do we find mentioned in Germany either proofs in niello, or first essays in metals of a softer temper? The fact therefore, most probably is, what has invariably obtained credit,—that the invention was communicated from Italy to Germany, and as a matter not at all difficult to the goldsmiths, was speedily practised there with success; I might even add, was greatly improved. For both the press and printer's ink being well known there, artists were enabled to add to the mechanic part of the art, improvements with which Italy was unacquainted; I will produce an example of what I mean, that cannot fail to convince. Printing of books was discovered in Germany: history and monuments alike confirm [Pg 131]it, which are to be traced gradually from tabular prints to moveable types, still of wood, and from these to characters of metal. In such state was the invention brought to Italy, where, without passing through these intermediate degrees, books were printed not only in moveable characters of metal, but with tables cut in copper, thus adding to the art a degree of perfection which it wanted. Heineken objects that the Germans at that period had very little correspondence with the cities of Italy, with the exception of Venice, (p. 139). To this I answer that our universities of Pisa and Bologna, besides several others, were much frequented by young men from Germany, at that period; and that for the convenience both of strangers and of natives, a Dictionary of the German language was printed at Venice, in 1475, and in 1479, at Bologna; a circumstance sufficient of itself to prove that there was no little communication between the two nations. There are, besides, so many other reasons to believe that a great degree of intercourse subsisted, more particularly between Germany and Florence,[115] during the period [Pg 132]we treat of; that we ought not to be at all surprised at the arts belonging to the one being communicated to the other. Hitherto I have pleaded, as far as lay in my power, the cause of my country; though without having been able, I fear, to bring the question to a close. Some time, it is possible, that those earliest essays and proofs of the art, which have hitherto eluded research, may be discovered: it is possible that some one of their writers, who are at once so truly learned and so numerous, may improve upon the hint thrown out by Heineken (p. 139), that the Germans and the Italians, without any kind of corresponding knowledge on the subject, struck out simultaneous discoveries of the modern art. However this may chance to be, it is my part to write from the information and authorities which I have before me.

It remains to be seen whether, on the exclusion of Germany, there is any other part of Italy that may have anticipated the discovery of Finiguerra at Florence. Some of his opponents have ventured to question his title on the strength of metallic impressions of seals, which are met with on Italian parchments from the earliest periods. This shews only that the art advanced during several ages on the verge of this invention; but it does not prove that the very origin of the discovery is to be sought for in seals; otherwise we should be bound to commence the history of modern typography from the seals of earthen-ware, with which our museums abound. No one will contend [Pg 133]that certain immemorial and undigested elements that lay for many ages neglected and unformed, ought to have a place in the history of art; and this we are now treating on, ought not to date its commencement beyond the period when silversmiths' shops had been established, where, in fact, it took its origin and grew to maturity. We must then compare the proofs remaining to us of their labours, and see whether such proofs were in use at any other place, before the time of Finiguerra. I might observe that there are two threads, as it were, which may serve as a clue to this labyrinth, until we may somewhere or by some means ascertain the actual date; and these two are the character and the design. The character in all the proofs I have examined, is not at all (as we commonly call it) of a gothic description; it is round and roman, according to the observation before made (at p. 49), and does not lead us farther back than the year 1440. The design is more suspicious: in the Durazzo collection I have seen proofs of nielli with more coarse designs than are displayed in the works of Maso, but they are perhaps not the offspring of the Florentine school. I shall not here attempt to anticipate the judgment of those who may engage to illustrate these ancient remains; nor that of the public, in regard to the engravings correctly taken from them, which must pronounce their definitive sentence. If I mistake not, however, true connoisseurs will be cautious how they pass a final opinion. It will not be difficult for them to discern a Bolognese from a Florentine [Pg 134]artist, in modern painting, after it is seen that each school formed its own peculiar character both in colouring and in design; but in regard to proofs of nielli,[116] to distinguish school from school, will not be so easy a task. For though it may be ascertained, for instance, that such a proof came from Bologna; can we pronounce from the fact of its being coarser and rawer than the designs of Finiguerra, that it is so far more ancient? Maso and the Florentines, after the time of Masaccio, had already softened their style towards the year 1440; but can we assert the same of the other schools of Italy? Besides, is it certain that the silversmiths, from whose hands proceeded the proofs, sought out the best designers;[117] and did not copy, for instance, the Bolognese, the design of a Pietà by Jacopo Avanzi, or the Venetians, a Madonna by Jacobello del Fiore? The more dry, coarse, and clumsy specimens therefore, cannot easily be adduced against Finiguerra as a proof of greater antiquity; otherwise we should run into the whimsical sophistry of Scalza, who affirmed that the [Pg 135]Baronci were the most ancient men in Florence, and in the whole world, because they were the ugliest.[118] We must therefore permit Maso to rest quietly in possession of the discovery, until further and more ancient proofs are adduced, than are to be found in his cards and his zolfi.

In my account of the second state of engraving, I shall not make mention of the German masters, in regard to whom I have not dates that may be thought sufficient; I shall confine my attention to those of Italy. I shall compare the testimony of Vasari and Lomazzo; one of whom supposes the art to have originated in Upper, the other in Lower Italy. In his Life of Marc Antonio, Vasari observes, that Finiguerra "was followed by Baccio Baldini, a Florentine goldsmith, who being little skilled in design, every thing he executed was after designs and inventions of Sandro Botticello. As soon as Andrea Mantegna learned this circumstance at Rome, he first began to turn his attention to the engraving of his own works." Now in the life of Sandro he makes particular mention of the time when he applied himself to the art, which was at the period he had completed his labours in the Sistine chapel. Returning directly after to Florence, "he began to comment upon Dante, he drew the Inferno, and engraved it, which occupying a large portion of his time, was the occasion of much trouble and inconvenience in his future life." Botticelli is here considered an engraver from about[Pg 136] 1474, at the age of thirty-seven years; and Baldini, who executed every thing from the designs of Sandro, also practised the art. At the same period flourished Antonio Pollaiuolo, who acquired a higher reputation than either of the last. Few of his impressions remain, but among these is the celebrated battle of the naked soldiers, approaching nearest in point of power to the bold style of Michelangiolo. The epoch of these productions is to be placed about 1480, because having acquired great celebrity by them, he was invited to Rome towards the close of 1483, to raise the monument of Sixtus IV., who died in that year.

According to Vasari, Mantegna having decorated the chapel of Innocent VIII. at Rome, about 1490,[119] from that or the preceding year is intitled to the name of engraver, computing it from about his sixtieth year. He flourished more than sixteen years after this period; during which is it to be believed that he produced that amazing number of engravings,[120] amounting to more than fifty, of [Pg 137]which about thirty appear to be genuine specimens, on so grand a scale, so rich in figures, so finely studied and Mantegnesque in every part; that he executed these when he was already old, new to the art, an art fatiguing to the eye and the chest even of young artists; that he pursued it amidst his latest occupations in Mantua, which we shall, in their place, describe, and that he produced such grand results within sixteen or seventeen years. Either Vasari must have mistaken the dates, or wished to impose upon our credulity by his authority. Lomazzo leads us to draw a very different conclusion, when in his Treatise[Pg 138] (p. 682) he adds this short eulogy to the name and merits of Mantegna, "a skilful painter, and the first engraver of prints in Italy;" but wherein he does not mention him as an inventor, meaning only to ascribe to him the merit of introducing the second state of the art at least in Italy; because he believed that it had already arisen in Germany. Such authority as this is worth our attention. I shall have occasion in the course of my narrative to combat some of Lomazzo's assertions; but I shall also feel bound to concur with him frequently in the epochs illustrated by him. He was born about twenty-five years subsequent to Vasari; he had more erudition, was a better critic, and on the affairs of Lombardy in particular, was enabled to correct him, and to supply his deficiencies. I am not surprised, then, that Meerman (p. 259) should suppose Andrea to have been already an engraver before the time of Baldini and Botticelli; I could have wished only that he had better observed the order of the epochs, and not postponed the praise due to him until the pontificate of Innocent VIII. In fact, it is not easy to ascertain the exact time when Mantegna first directed his attention to the art of engraving. It decidedly appears that he commenced at Padua; for the very confidence he displays in every plate, shews that he could be no novice; nor is it credible that his noviciate began only in old age. I suspect he received the rudiments of the art from Niccolo, a distinguished goldsmith, as he gave his[Pg 139] portrait, together with that of Squarcione, in a history piece of S. Cristoforo, at the Eremitani in Padua; each most probably being a tribute of respect to his former master. It is true that we meet with no specimens of his hand at that, or even a later period of his early life; though we ought to recollect that he never affixed any dates to his works. So that it is impossible to say that none of them were the production of his earlier years, however equal and beautiful they appear in regard to their style; inasmuch as in his paintings we are enabled to detect little difference between his history of S. Cristoforo, painted in the flower of youth, and his altar-piece at S. Andrea of Mantua, which is considered one of his last labours. A specimen of his engraving with a date, is believed, however, by some, to be contained in a book of Pietro d'Abano; intitled "Tractatus de Venenis," published in Mantua, 1472, "in cujus paginâ prima littera initialis aeri incisa exhibetur, quæ integram columnæ latitudinem occupat. Patet hinc artem chalcographicam jam anno 1472 extitisse." Thus far writes the learned Panzer,[121] but whether he ever saw the work that exists in folio, and of seven pages, I am not certain.[122] A quarto edition [Pg 140]was likewise edited in Mantua, 1473, and a copy is there preserved in the public library, but without any plates.

It is certain, however, that about this period copper engraving was practised, not only in Mantua, where Mantegna resided, but also in Bologna. The geography of Ptolemy, printed in Bologna by Domenico de Lapis, with the apparently incorrect date of 1462, is in the possession of the Corsini at Rome, and of the Foscarini at Venice.[123] It contains twenty-six geographical tables, engraved very coarsely, yet so greatly admired by the printer, that he applauds this new discovery, and compares it to the invention of printing, which not long before had appeared in Germany. We give his words as they are quoted from the Latin without being refuted, by Meerman, at p. 251: "Accedit mirifica imprimendi tales tabulas ratio, cujus inventoris laus nihil illorum laude inferior, qui primi litterarum imprimendarum artem pepererunt, in admirationem sui studiosissimum quemque facillime convertere potest." The same writer, however, along with other learned men, contends that the date ought to be corrected, chiefly on the authority of the catalogue of the correctors of the work, among whom we find Filippo Beroaldo, who, in 1462, was no more than nine years of age. Hence Meerman infers, that we ought to read 1482; Audifredi [Pg 141]and others, 1491; neither of which opinions I can agree with. For the work of Ptolemy being published at Rome, accompanied by twenty-seven elegant charts in 1478, what presumption, or rather folly, in the publisher of the Bolognese edition, to think of applauding its beauty, after the appearance of one so incomparably superior! I am therefore compelled to refer the former to an earlier period than the last mentioned year. Besides, I ought to inform the reader, that the engraving of twenty-six geographical plates, full of lines, distances, and references, must have been a long and difficult task, particularly during the infancy of the art, sufficient to occupy several years; as we are certain that three or four were devoted to the same purpose at Rome by more modern engravers, far more expert. We are therefore bound to antedate the epoch of the Bolognese engraving several years before the publication of the book, which belongs perhaps to the year 1472.[124] I shall not, however, set myself up as an umpire in this dispute; anxiously expecting, as I do, an excellent treatise from the pen of Sig. Bartolommeo Gamba; which I feel assured will not fail to gratify the public.[125] [Pg 142]In regard to Bologna, therefore, I shall only seek to prove that the progress of the goldsmith's art to that of engraving upon metal, was more rapid than it has been supposed. Heineken himself observes, in describing the Ptolemy, that it is evident, from the traces of the zigzag, which the goldsmiths are in the habit of putting on the silver plates, the work is the production of one belonging to that art. The earliest works that can be pointed out with certainty at Florence, are the three elegant engravings of the Monte Santo di Dio, published in 1477; and the two in the two cantos of Dante, 1481; one of which, as if a third engraving, was repeated in the same book; while all of them seem to have been drawn from the roller, the art of inserting the plates in the letter-press being then unknown. We have yet to notice the thirty-seven geographical charts, in whatever way executed, affixed to the book of Berlinghieri, which was printed about the same period, without any date. These also contain several heads with the names Aquilo, Africus, &c., but they are all of youthful appearance, and tolerable in point of design; whereas the same heads in Bologna are of different ages, with long beards and caps, and in a coarser manner. [Pg 143]The three before mentioned works appeared from the press of Niccolo Tedesco, or Niccolo di Lorenzo de Lamagna, the first who printed books at Florence with copper plates.

The last and most complete state of engraving upon copper, comes next under our notice. For this improvement, it appears to me, we are as much indebted to Germany as for the art of printing books. The press there first discovered for typography, opened the way for that applied to copper plates. The mechanical construction to be sure was different, in the former the impression being drawn from cast letters which rise outwards; in the latter from plates cut hollow within by the artist's graver. A kind of ink was at the same time adopted, of a stronger and less fuliginous colour, than had been used for engravings in wood; but as it is termed by Meerman (p. 12), "singulare ac tenuius." The same author fixes the date of this improvement in the art at about 1470; and most probably he meant to deduce it from the earliest copper engravings which appeared in Germany. Of this I cannot venture to speak, not having seen the two specimens cited by Heineken, and the others that bear a date; nor is it at all connected with our present history of Italian art, as far as regards engraving. We gather from it, that such improvement was brought to us from Germany by the same Corrado Sweyneym, who prepared the beautiful edition of Ptolemy at Rome. We learn from the anonymous preface prefixed, that Corrado devoted three years[Pg 144] to the task, and left it incomplete; and it was continued by Arnold Buckinck, and published by him, as I already observed, in 1478. The tables are engraved with a surprising degree of elegance, and are taken from the press, as Meerman, adopting the opinion of Raidelio, and of such bibliographers as have described it, has clearly shewn, (p. 258). It is conjectured that Corrado commenced his labours about 1472, a fact ascertained no less from the testimony of Calderino, the corrector of the work, than from the tables, impressions of which were taken in 1475.[126] Some are of opinion that the engraving was from the hand of Corrado, although the author of the preface simply observes, "animum ad hanc doctrinam capessendam applicuit (that is, to geography) subinde matematicis adhibitis viris quemadmodum tabulis æneis imprimerentur edocuit,[127] triennioque in hâc curâ consumpto diem obiit." And it seems very probable, that as he employed Italians in the correction of the text, he was also assisted by some one of the same nation in the engravings. It strikes me, likewise, [Pg 145]that Botticelli was attracted by this novel art at Rome, since on his return about the year 1474, he began to engrave copper plates with all the ardour that Vasari has described, and was in fact the first who represented full figures and histories in the new art. Perhaps the cause of his impressions being less perfect than others, arose from his ignorance of the method of printing upon a single page, both the plates and the characters; as well as from the want of the press, and that improved plan derived from the office of the German printers. But from whatever cause, it is certain, that our engravers long continued to labour under this imperfection in the art, as I have already recounted. In the time of Marc Antonio, who rose into notice soon after the year 1500, the art, in its perfect state, had been introduced into Italy, insomuch that he was enabled to rival Albert Durer and Luca d'Ollanda, equalling them in the mechanism of the art, and surpassing them in point of design. It is from this triumvirate of genius that the more finished age of engraving takes its date; and nearly at the same period we behold the most improved era in the art of painting. The completion of the new art soon diffused good models of design through every school, which led the way to the new epoch. Following the steps of Durer, the imitators of nature learned to design more correctly; while they composed, if not with much taste, at least with great variety and fertility, examples of which appear in [Pg 146]the Venetian artists of the time. Others of a more studied character, formed upon the model of Raffaello and of the best Italian masters, exhibited by Marc Antonio, applied with more diligence to compose with order, and to attain elegance of design; as we shall further see in the progress of this History of Painting, which after such necessary interruption, we prepare once more to resume.

[84] See Baron d'Heineken's "Idéé générale d'une Collection," &c. p. 239. See likewise the same work, p. 150, in order to give us a proper distrust of the work of Papillon. Sig. Huber agrees with Heineken: see his "Manuel," &c. p. 35.

[85] Storia Letter. tom. vi. p, 1194.

[86] Muratori, Rerum Ital. Scriptores, vol. xx. Vita Phil. M. Visconti, chap. lxi.

[87] Lettere Pittoriche, tom. v. p. 321.

[88] Vide ante, p. 46.

[89] In the ancient monastery of Certosa, at Buxheim, there remains a figure of S. Cristoforo in the act of passing the river, with Jesus upon his shoulders; and there is added that of a hermit lighting the way with a lantern in his hand. It bears the date 1423. A number of other devout images are seen in the celebrated library at Wolfenbuttel, and others in Germany, stamped upon wood in a manner similar to that of playing-cards. Huber, Manuel, tom. i. p. 86.

[90] See Maffei, Verona Illustrata, Part iii. col. 195, and Part ii. col. 68, 76.

[91] There was collected for the ducal gallery in 1801, a silver pace that had been made for the company of S. Paolo, and sold upon the suppression of that pious foundation. It represents the saint's conversion, with many tolerably executed figures, from an unknown hand, though less old and valuable than that of Maso. He had ornamented it with niello; but in order to ascertain the workmanship, it was taken to pieces some years since, and the plate examined in the state it came from under the tools of the silversmith. The cuts were found not at all deep, resembling those of our engravers upon sheets of copper, upon the model of which the silver plate, being provided with the ink, was put into the press, and from it were taken as many, perhaps, as twenty fine proofs. One of these is in the collection of the Senator Bali Martelli; and upon this a foreign connoisseur wrote that it was the work of Doni, I know not on what authority, unless, from an error of memory, the name Doni was inserted instead of Dei.

[92] Ambrogio Leone mentions both, De Nobilitate rerum, cap. 41, and he particularly praises, for his skill in working niello, the second, who is so little known in the history of the arts. See Morelli, Notizia, p. 204.

[93] Vasari, who is difficult to understand, at least by many, on account of his brevity, touches upon the different processes used by Maso, which are these: When he had cut the plate, he next proceeded to take a print of it, before he inlaid it with niello, upon very fine earth; and from the cut being to the right hand, and hollow, the proof consequently came out on the left, shewing the little earthen cast in relief. Upon this last he threw the liquid sulphur, from which he obtained a second proof, which, of course, appeared to the right, and took from the relief a hollow form. He then laid the ink (lamp black or printer's ink) upon the sulphur, in such a way as to fill up the hollows on the more indented cuts, intended to produce the shadow; and next, by degrees, he scraped away from the ground (of the sulphur) what was meant to produce the light. And this is also the plan pursued in engraving on copper. The final work was to polish it with oil, in order to give the sulphur the bright appearance of silver.

[94] They are to be seen in a little portable altar; and are most probably the proofs of some niello worker of the time; who had executed those histories in silver to ornament some similar little altar, or the place in which sacred relics were laid. Before introducing the niello, he had cast proofs of his work in these zolfi (sulphurs), which were subsequently inlaid with great symmetry and taste in the altar-piece. They consist of various forms and sizes, and are adapted to the architecture of the little altar, and to its various parts. Many of them have now perished, though several are yet in existence, the smallest of which chiefly represent histories from scripture, and the largest of them the acts of the Evangelists, to the number of fourteen, and about one-sixth of a braccio (an arm, two-thirds of a yard) in height.

[95] Pace, a sort of sacred vessel borne in procession by the priests; literally, it means peace.

[96] In this edition I ought to mention another zolfo (a sulphur cast) of the same pace of S. Giovanni, in possession of his excellency the Senator Prior Seratti. This, when compared with the model, corresponds line for line; there is a full display of the very difficult character of Maso's heads, and what is still more decisive, is, that it is cut, or indented, an effect that must have been produced according to the manner already described. The zolfo Durazzo, as appears from the impression, does not correspond so well; some of the flowers and ornaments of drapery are wanting; it is not equally finished, and it seems smooth on the surface. This does not derogate from its genuineness, for as several proofs were taken of the same pace, which was cut by degrees, if we find less completeness in the Durazzo proof, it is only an indication of its having been taken before the rest. And if the impressions of the cuts are not so plainly traced as in the other, I do not, therefore, conjecture that they do not exist. The zolfi of the fathers of Camaldoli already cited, seem as if they were printed, and smooth. A fragment breaking off, highly polished on the surface, the cuts were then discovered, even to the minutest lines, as many professors, even the most experienced in the art of printing, to their surprise, have witnessed; and they conjectured that the ocular illusion might arise, 1st, from the fineness of cut made with the style, or possibly with the graver, which was diminished in proportion as it passed from the sheet to the earthen mould, and from this to the zolfo; 2d, from the density of the ink, when hardened between the cuts or hollows of the zolfo; 3d, from a coat of bluish colour laid on the work, of which there remain traces, and from that which time produces both in paintings and on cards. I have not a doubt, that, if the experiment were tried on the Durazzo zolfo, the result would appear exactly the same. The extrinsic proofs of its origin, also adduced by Gori, together with the aspect of the monument, which is fresh in my memory, do not authorize me to suspect the existence of a fraud.

[97] Christ in the manger.

[98] Heineken gives a general nomenclature of the works of these silver carvers. Idéé, &c. p. 217].

[99] I must remark, that some copper of the earliest age may have been preserved and made use of after the introduction of felt and of the press. In this case there will remain no impression of the linen cloth, but the print will be poor and faint.

[100] In the prints of Dante, and other Florentine books, a yellowish colour prevails; and we may observe stains of oil and blots at the extremities. A pale ash colour was also used for wood prints by the Germans, and Meerman remarks that it was employed to counterfeit the colour of designs.

[101] See Lettere Pittoriche, tom. ii. p. 268.

[102] Ibid. p. 269. I should add, that the twenty others are now known, obtained for the Riccardi library at Florence.

[103] Lettere Pittoriche, tom. ii. p. 267. It is ascertained that Maso flourished less recently; and the Dante prints, inferior to those of Botticelli, were ascribed to him only on account of their coarseness, as we gather from Gaburri.

[104] It is denied that he was the inventor of this mode of engraving by many learned Germans, who give the merit of it to Wolgemuth. Meerman, L. C. p. 256.

[105] Notes to Baldinucci, tom. iv. p. 2.

[106] It was observed, at p. 115, that the Epiphany of Maso is anterior to the work of the Assumption. The progress from the minute and careful, to the free and great style, is very gradual. The present work contains many examples of this, even in the loftiest geniuses, in Coreggio, and in Raffaello himself.

[107] A sample of his ignorance appears in what he wrote of Demone; not well understanding Pliny, he did not believe Demone to be the fabulous genius of Athens; but set him down as a painter of mortal flesh and blood, and gave his portrait with those of Zeuxis, Apelles, and other ancient painters.

[108] Origines Typographicæ, tom. i. p. 254.

[109] Idéé Générale d'une Collection Complète d'Estampes, pp. 224, 116, where he gives his opinion on Sandrart's work. See also Dictionnaire des Artistes, vol. ii. p. 331.

[110] He says that his cipher was M. C. which P. Orlandi reads Martinus de Clef, or Clivensis Augustanus. But he was not from Anversa; but was, according to Meerman, Calembaco-Suevus Colmariæ, whence we may explain the cipher to mean Martinus Colmariensis. In many of his prints it is M. S.

[111] Called by Lomazzo "Israel Metro Tedesco, painter and inventor of the art of engraving cards in copper, master of Bonmartino," in which I think we ought rather to follow the learned natives already cited, than our own countryman.

[112] Diction. des Monogram. p. 67.

[113] See Tiraboschi, 1st. Lett. tom. vi. p. 119.

[114] The prints of Schön, even such as represent works in gold and silver, are executed with admirable knowledge and delicacy. Huber, tom. i. p. 91.

[115] The Florentine merchants, during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, especially such as advanced money upon interest, abounded in Germany; insomuch that part of a town was called Borgo Fiorentino. This I learn from Dottore Gennari, a Paduan gentleman, not long since lost to the republic of letters. The number of German Princes who coined money in Florence, may be gathered from the work of Orsini, and other writers, upon our modern coinage.

[116] The direction given by the Ab. Zani for similar specimens is this: "The engravings of the Venetian school, generally speaking, are of a delicate, soft, and full design; the figures are large, few, and very beautiful in the extremities. Those of the Florentines are engraved in a stronger manner, and are less soft and round; sometimes even harsh; the figures are small, pretty numerous, with the extremities less highly finished." Materiali, p. 57.

[117] Cellini, in his preface to his Treatise upon the art of working in gold, asserts that Maso himself copied from the designs of Pollaiuolo, which has been completely refuted by the Ab. Zani. Materiali, p. 40.

[118] Boccaccio, Decamerone, Giorn. vi. Nov. 6.

[119] See Taia, Description of the Vatican Palace, p. 404].

[120] Forty of these I find cited, and I am informed of some others not yet edited. The Ab. Zani (p. 142) assures us "that the genuine impressions which are now acknowledged to be from the hand of Mantegna, do not amount to twenty; and nearly all of them are executed with few figures." Such an assertion appears no less singular to me than to others on whose judgment I could rely, whom I have consulted. How can we admit its accuracy, when confronted with the account of Mantegna's fellow citizen and contemporary Scardeone, who collected his works, and who expressly declares, as cited by the Ab. Zani, "that Mantegna engraved Roman triumphs, Bacchanalian festivals, and marine deities: also the descent of Christ from the cross, and the burial," engravings exhibiting a variety of figures, and in number more than a dozen. After this enumeration the historian adds, "et alia permulta," and many others. To confute this excellent testimony, the Ab. Zani refers only to the words of the same Scardeone, who thus continues: "Those plates are possessed by few, and held in the highest esteem; nine of them, however, belong to me, all of them different." This writer therefore, in spite of his expression "et alia permulta," confesses that he had only nine specimens from the hand of his fellow citizen. Yes, I reply, he confesses his scanty portion, but admits the superior number that exists in various cabinets, and what reason have we for believing the first assertion and not the second? For my part, I give credit to the historian; and if any one doubt, from a diversity of style between the plates, that there is any exaggeration in his statement, I should not hence conclude that they are from different hands, but executed by the same hand, the works of the artist's early life being inferior to his last. For what artist ever devoted himself to a new branch, and did not contrive to cultivate and improve it? It is sufficient that the taste be not wholly opposite.

[121] Panzer, Ann. Typogr. tom. ii. p. 4.

[122] The Catalogue of the Libreria Heideggeriana is cited as the first source; but after fresh research, nothing certain has been discovered. Volta conjectures that this edition de Venenis was not a separate book, but a part of the Conciliatore of Pietro d'Abano, printed in folio at Mantua, 1472.

[123] This splendid copy has been transferred from the Biblioteca Foscarini, into the choice selection of old prints and books illustrated by the Ab. Mauro Boni.

[124] See de Bure, Bibliographie Instructive, Histoire, tom. i. p. 32. From the tenor of this opinion, which I shall not examine, we are authorized in adding to the inscription, anno mcccclxii another x, omitted by inadvertency, if not purposely; instances of which are to be found in the dates of books belonging to the fifteenth century. In 1472, Beroaldo was already a great scholar, and in 73 he opened his academy.

[125] This little work, whose title will be found in the second Index, is now published, and has been well received by scholars on account of its learning and bibliographical research. The author approves the supposition that we ought to read 1472. We wish him leisure to produce more such works as this, which, like those of Manuzi, at once combine the character of the elegant typographer and the erudite scholar.

[126] Maffei, Verona Illustrata, p. ii. col. 118.

[127] That is, in Rome, where he also taught the art of printing books, as we are informed in the same preface. This last is wholly devoted to Roman matters, and it would be vain to look in it for the general history of typography and engraving in Italy. It appears then, that Sweyneym instructed the artists of Rome in the best manner of printing from copper plates with the press; though others may have taught the art of printing them more rudely and in softer metal at Bologna.

[Pg 147]



Vinci, Bonarruoti, and other celebrated artists, form the most flourishing era of this School.

Nations have their virtues and their vices; and it is the duty of the historian to give them credit for the one, and to confess the other. Thus it is with the Schools of Painting; no one of which is so perfect as to leave us nothing more to desire; no one so faulty that it has not much in it to commend. The Florentine school (I do not speak of its greatest masters, but of the general practice of the others) had no great merit in colouring, from which Mengs was induced to denominate it a melancholy school; nor did it excel in its drapery, from which arose the saying, that the drapery of figures appeared to be fashioned with economy in Florence.

It did not shine in power of relief, a study not generally cultivated till the last century, nor did it exhibit much beauty, because, long destitute of fine Grecian statues, Florence was late in possessing the Venus: and only through the attention of the Grand Duke Leopold, has been enriched by the Apollo, the group of Niobe, and other choice specimens. [Pg 148]From these circumstances this school aimed only at a fidelity of representation that resembles the works of those who copied exactly from nature, and in general made a judicious selection of its objects. It could not boast of superior grouping in the composition of a picture, and it was more inclined to erase a superfluous figure, than to add one unnecessarily to the rest. In grace, in design, and in historic accuracy, it excels most other schools; chiefly resulting from the great learning that always adorned this city, and invariably gave a bias to the erudition of her artists.

Design forms the peculiar excellence of this school, and its hereditary patrimony, to which the national characteristic of minute correctness has greatly contributed; and it may justly be observed, that this people has excelled others no less in the symmetrical delineation of the figure, than in purity of idiom. It may also boast of having produced a great many excellent painters in fresco; an art so superior to that of painting in oil, that Bonarruoti looked on the latter as mere sport, when compared with the former, as it necessarily requires great dexterity, and the talent of executing well and with rapidity, very difficult attainments in any profession. This school had but few engravers on copper, from which circumstance, though abounding in historians,[128] and rich in paintings, it has not [Pg 149]a sufficient number of prints to make it known in proportion to its merit; a defect which the Etruria Pittrice has in some measure supplied. Finally, the reader may indulge in this very just reflection, that the Florentine school first taught the method of proceeding scientifically, and according to general rules. Some other schools have originated in an attentive consideration of natural effects; by mechanically imitating, if we may be allowed the expression, the external appearances of objects. But Vinci and Bonarruoti, the two great luminaries of this school, like true philosophers pointed out the immutable objects and established laws of nature, thence deducing rules which their successors, both at home and abroad, have followed with great benefit to the art. The former has left a Treatise on Painting, and the public were induced to look for the publication of the precepts of the latter, which have however never yet been produced;[129] [Pg 150]and we obtain some idea of his maxims only from Vasari, and other writers. About this time also flourished Fra Bartolommeo, Andrea del Sarto, Rosso, the young Ghirlandaio, and other artists, whom we shall name in the sequel of this grand epoch, which unfortunately was of short duration. Towards the middle of the sixteenth century, when Michelangiolo, who survived the other great artists, was still living, a less auspicious era began; but we must proceed with this epoch.

Lionardo da Vinci, so called from a castle in lower Valdarno, was the natural son of one Pietro, notary to the Florentine republic, and was born in 1452.[130] He was endowed by nature with a genius uncommonly elevated and penetrating, eager after discovery, and diligent in the pursuit; not only in what related to the three arts dependant on design, but in mathematics, in mechanics, in hydrostatics, in music, in poetry, and also in the accomplishments of horsemanship, fencing, and dancing. He was so perfect in all these, that when he performed any one, the beholder was ready to imagine that it must have been his sole study. To such vigour of intellect he joined an elegance of features and of manners, that graced [Pg 151]the virtues of his mind. He was affable with strangers, with citizens, with private individuals, and with princes, among whom he long lived on a footing of familiarity and friendship. On this account, says Vasari, it cost him no effort always to behave and to live like a man of high birth.

Verrocchio taught him painting; and as we have said, while still a youth, he surpassed his master. He retained traces of his early education through his whole life. Like Verrocchio, he designed more readily than he painted; he assiduously cultivated mathematics; in his design and in his countenances, he prized elegance and vivacity of expression, more than dignity and fulness of contour; he was very careful in drawing his horses, and in representing the skirmishes of soldiers; and was more solicitous to improve the art than to multiply his pictures. He was an excellent statuary, as is demonstrated by his S. Tommaso in Orsanmichele at Florence, and by the horse in the church of S. John and S. Paul at Venice. Vinci not only modelled in a superior manner the three statues cast in bronze by Rustici, for the church of S. John at Florence, and the colossal horse at Milan, but assisted by this art, he gave that perfect relief and roundness, in which painting was then wanting. He likewise imparted to it symmetry, grace, and spirit; and these and his other merits gave him the title of the father of modern painting,[131] though[Pg 152] some of his works, as was observed by Mariette, participate, in some degree, in the meanness of the old school.

He had two styles, the one abounded in shadow, which gives admirable brilliancy to the contrasting lights; the other was more quiet, and managed by means of middle tints. In each style, the grace of his design, the expression of the mental affections, and the delicacy of his pencil, are unrivalled. Every thing is lively in his paintings, the foreground, the landscape, the adventitious ornaments of necklaces, flowers, and architecture; but this gaiety is more apparent in the heads. In these he purposely repeats the same idea, and gives them a smile which delights the mind of a spectator. He did not, however, consider his pictures as complete, but from a singular timidity,[132] often left them imperfect, as I shall more fully state under the Milanese school. There he will appear with the dignity of a consummate master, and a portion of his fame must at present suffice for his native school.

The life of Lionardo may be divided into four periods, the first of which includes the time he remained [Pg 153]at Florence, while still a young man. To this era may be referred, not only the Medusa of the royal gallery, and the few pieces mentioned by Vasari; but some others also, less powerful in the shadows, and less diversified in the folds of the drapery, and which present some heads more delicate than select, and apparently derived from the school of Verrocchio. Such is the Magdalen of the Pitti palace at Florence, and that of the Aldobrandini palace at Rome; some Madonnas and Holy Families which are in several collections, as in the Giustiniani and Borghese galleries; and some heads of the Redeemer and of the Baptist, which are to be seen in various places; although it is often reasonable to suspend our judgment in regard to the genuineness of such pieces, on account of the great number of Lionardo's imitators. The child, laid in a bed richly ornamented, enveloped in its clothes, and adorned with a necklace, which is in the house of his excellency the Gonfaloniere of Bologna, is of a different class, and of undoubted originality.

After this first period, Lionardo was brought to Milan by Lodovico Sforza, "whom he highly gratified by his performance on the lyre; a curious and new instrument, almost entirely of silver," which Lionardo carried with him, and had constructed with his own hands. All the musicians there assembled were vanquished, and the whole city being struck with admiration of his extemporaneous poetry, and his eloquence, he was retained by the [Pg 154]prince, and remained there till 1499, engaged in abstruse studies, and in mechanical and hydrostatical labours for the service of the state. During this time he painted little, except the celebrated Last Supper; but by superintending an academy of the fine arts, he left a degree of refinement in Milan, which was so productive of illustrious pupils, that this period may be reckoned the most glorious era of his life.

After the misfortunes of Lodovico Sforza, he returned to Florence, where having remained thirteen years, he went to Rome at the time his patron Leo X. ascended the papal chair; but his stay there was short. Some of his best works at Florence may be referred to this period; among which number we may reckon the celebrated portrait of Mona Lisa, which was the labour of four years, and yet was left unfinished; the Cartoon of S. Anna, prepared for a picture in the church of the Servi, which was never executed in colours; the cartoon of the battle of Niccolo Piccinino, intended to dispute the palm of excellence with Michelangiolo in the council chamber at Florence,[133] but like the other, never executed by Vinci, after failing in an attempt to paint it in a new method in oil on the wall. He probably employed another method in painting [Pg 155]the Madonna with the child in her arms, in the monastery of S. Onofrio, of Rome, a picture in the style of Raffaello, but which is now peeling off the walls in many places. There are some other fine pieces, which if we may be allowed to hazard a conjecture, might be with propriety assigned to this period, in which Lionardo, having attained his highest skill, and unoccupied by other pursuits, painted in his best manner. Such is the specimen that was preserved at Mantua, but which was stolen, and concealed during the sack of the city; after many vicissitudes, however, it was sold for a high price to the imperial court of Russia. The subject is a Holy Family; in the back-ground is seen a woman of a very beautiful and majestic countenance standing in an upright position. It bears the cipher of Lionardo, consisting of a D interlaced with an L and a V, as it is seen in the picture of the Signori Sanvitali, at Parma. The Consigliere Pagave, who left a memorandum of it in his MSS. was the first to observe and to recognise it, upon its being brought to Milan in 1775, where it was also kept concealed. The same judicious critic in painting has conjectured that this production was executed in Rome, for one of the princesses of Mantua, or rather for the sister-in-law of Leo X.; inasmuch as it displayed a decided emulation of Raphael's manner, at that time highly extolled in Rome. Such a conjecture might receive support from his picture of a Madonna, which ornaments San Onofrio, also in the Raphael manner; and in order that [Pg 156]this picture, and that of Mantua just mentioned, might not be confounded by posterity with the works of Raffaello, Lionardo, according to Signor Pagave, took care to affix the cipher of his name. Indeed, this is not at all improbable: both writers and painters are impelled by their natural genius to adopt a peculiar style; and whoever will compare the portraits that remain, expressive of the elevated, touching, penetrating, and beautiful spirit, incessantly bent upon acquiring something still more exquisite in art, which inspired these two prodigies, will find little difficulty in believing that both produced works, which owing to a similarity of natural taste, selection and admiration of the same object, might be mistaken for specimens of the same hand. Of this number is his own portrait, at an age which corresponds with this period, in the ducal gallery, a head that surpasses every other in that room for energy of expression; also another head, which is in a different cabinet, and is called a portrait of Raffaello; together with the half-length figure of a young nun so much commended by Bottari, and which he points out as one of the greatest treasures in the splendid mansion of the Marchese Niccolini. In the same rank we may include the much admired specimens in the possession of some of the noble families at Rome; as the picture of Christ disputing in the Temple, and the supposed portrait of queen Giovanna, ornamented with fine architecture, in the Doria palace; the Vanity and [Pg 157]Modesty in the Barberini palace, the tints of which no pencil has been able to imitate; the Madonna of the Albani Palace, that appears to be requesting the lily which the infant Jesus holds in his hand, while he draws back, as if unwilling to part with it; a picture of exquisite grace, and preferred by Mengs to every other painting contained in that fine collection. It would, however, be presumptuous to assign a date to every picture of an artist who became early a distinguished painter, and who frequently discontinued a work before it was completed.

When this celebrated artist had attained his sixty-third year, he appears to have renounced the art for ever. Francis I. who saw his Last Supper at Milan, about the year 1515, attempted to saw it from the wall, that it might be transported to France; and not succeeding in his project, was desirous of possessing the artist, though now an old man. He invited Vinci to his court, and the artist felt little regret at leaving Florence, where, since his return, he found in the young Bonarruoti a rival that had already contended with him, and was even employed in preference to Vinci both in Florence and in Rome; because the former gave them works, if we may credit Vasari, while the latter amused them with words.[134] It is known that they had a quarrel; and Lionardo consulting his repose,[Pg 158] which their emulation embittered, passed over into France, where, before he had employed his pencil, he expired in the arms of Francis I., in the year 1519.

Though his style is highly worthy of imitation, it was less followed in Florence than in Milan; nor is this surprising. Vinci left at Florence no picture in public; he there taught no pupil; and it appears that he retained Salai, whom I shall notice among the Milanese artists, in the station of a dependant, during his residence at Florence. In Florence we meet with pictures in the possession of private individuals, that seem the work of Vinci; and sometimes the dealers extol them as his, gravely adding that they cost a large sum. Such pieces are probably the productions of Salai, or of other imitators of Lionardo, who availed themselves of his cartoons, his drawings, or his few paintings. We are informed that Lorenzo di Credi, whose family name was Sciarpelloni, made use of them more than any other Florentine. Educated, as well as Vinci, in the school of Verrocchio, he followed rules nearly similar; he was patient, and aimed at the same object; but he approached less closely to the softness of the moderns. He copied, with such precision, a picture by Lionardo, which was sent to Spain, that the copy was not distinguishable from the original. Private houses contain many of his circular Holy Families, of which the invention and gracefulness remind us of Lionardo. I possess one which represents the Virgin sitting with Christ in her arms, and at her side [Pg 159]the young S. John, to whom she turns as if to lay hold of him, at which the child seems timid, and draws back: it is in a lovely manner; but the style is not well suited to such a subject. Some of Credi's pictures, which Bottari did not meet with in public places, are now exhibited; as the Magdalen with S. Nicholas and S. Julian, adduced by Vasari as an example of a picturesque and highly finished style. His Christ in the manger may be also seen at S. Chiara; and it is one of his finest pictures, for the beauty of the faces, the vigour of expression, the finish of the back-ground, and the good colouring of the whole. Both in this, and in his other original pictures, we may discern some imitation of Vinci, and of Pietro Perugino, another friend of Credi: he possesses, however, some originality, which his scholar, Giovanni Antonio Sogliani, successfully imitated and improved.

This artist lived twenty-four years with Lorenzo; and in imitation of his model was contented to paint less than his contemporaries, that he might do it better. He likewise attempted to imitate Porta; but his natural disposition led him rather to follow the simple grace of his instructor, than the sublimity of this master. Few of this school can compare with him for the natural appearance he gave the naked as well as the clothed figure, or for the conception of "handsome, good-natured, sweet, and graceful features."[135] Like Lionardo, he possessed the rare talent of representing images of [Pg 160]virtue by the faces of his saints, and of vice by those of his wicked characters. This is exemplified in his Cain and Abel, in the cathedral of Pisa, where he has introduced a landscape, that of itself would do honour to any painter. With equal felicity in the figure and the back-ground, he painted the crucifixion of S. Arcadius, which was brought from another church to that of S. Lorenzo at Florence, where it still remains. He entered into competition with Perino del Vaga, with Mecherino, and Andrea del Sarto, at Pisa, where he was noted for his dilatoriness, but admired for that happy simplicity and elegance which he always preserved. Some have praised a few of his pictures as inclining to the manner of Raffaello, a commendation also bestowed on Luini, and other followers of Lionardo. He had pupils who afterwards followed other masters: but a Zanobi di Poggino, who painted many pictures for Florence, which are now unknown, appears to have had no other master.

One of the best imitators of Vinci, almost equal to Luini himself, may be recognized in the sacristy of S. Stephen, at Bologna, in which there is a S. John in the Desert, with the inscription Jul. Flor. If this be read Julius Florentinus, the artist is unknown; but perhaps we should read Julianus, and ascribe it to Bugiardini. We are informed by Vasari that he was at Bologna, and that he painted a Madonna between two Saints, for the church of S. Francis; where it still is, and approaches the style of Lionardo fully as much as any other manner. [Pg 161]Both pictures, on comparing the style, seem the work of the same artist; and to this artist also belongs a Nativity, in the cloister of the canons of S. Salvatore; and various pictures that may be found in some private houses with a similar epigraph. If we embrace the opinion of Vasari, we must consider Giuliano as a feeble painter, but uncommonly careful, and consequently slow. We should rather suppose him the imitator of any other artist than of Vinci; for he is described as the fellow student of Bonarruoti, the assistant of Albertinelli, and the colourist of some works of Fra Bartolommeo. One can readily perceive that Vasari was wrong, as in many other instances, in his slight estimation of this artist, on which account he has not paid a due attention to his works or to his style. He has represented this man as amiable in disposition, as a picture of contented poverty, as also an unbounded admirer of his Madonnas, and very profuse in his own commendations; qualities which rendered him highly amusing even to Michelangiolo. Intent on amusing his reader with the character of the man, he has not perhaps sufficiently rated the merits of the artist. This is proved by the little respect with which he mentions the martyrdom of S. Catherine in S. Maria Novella, which Bottari has called "a work worthy of admiration," not only for the figures of the soldiers, which, as Giuliano found himself unequal to the performance, were outlined with charcoal by Michelangiolo, and afterwards painted by Giuliano; but for the [Pg 162]other parts of the story. The truth seems to be, that he had not much invention, and did not adhere to one style; but now and then borrowed a thought; as in the Nativity already noticed, where one may recognize the style of Fra Bartolommeo. On considering each figure separately, he appears on the whole happy in his imitations, especially in Bologna, where the S. John is held in the highest esteem. In Florence he painted many Madonnas and Holy Families, which, with the aid of the Bolognese pictures, may perhaps be recognized as his by their clearness, the masculine and somewhat heavy proportions, and the mouths sometimes expressive of melancholy; although the subject did not properly call for it. One of these is to be seen in the collection of the noble family Orlandini.

Michelangiolo Bonarruoti, of whom memoirs were published by two of his disciples while he was still living,[136] was born twenty-three years after Lionardo da Vinci. Like him he was endowed with a ready wit, and consummate eloquence. His bon mots rival those of the Grecian painters, which are recorded by Dati, and he is even esteemed the most witty and lively of his race. He possessed not the polish and elegance of Vinci, but his genius was more vast and daring. Hence he attained the three sister arts in an eminent degree, and has left specimens in painting, sculpture, and architecture,[Pg 163] sufficient to immortalize three different artists. Like Vinci he gave proofs of talent in his boyish years, that compelled his master to confess his own inferiority. This master was Domenico Ghirlandaio, who sent his own brother Benedetto to paint in France, from jealousy of his preeminence; and, perhaps, fearing the wonderful powers of Bonarruoti, turned his attention to sculpture. Lorenzo the Magnificent, desirous of encouraging the statuary art, which was on the decline in his country, had collected in his gardens, adjacent to the monastery of S. Mark, many antique marbles; and committing the care of them to Bertoldo, a scholar of Donatello, he requested of Ghirlandaio some young man to be there educated as a sculptor; and this artist sent him Michelangiolo. This transaction was disliked by his father, Lodovico, in whose mind the art appeared degrading to his high birth; but he had no reason to repent it. On obtaining his object, Lorenzo not only added to the fortune of Lodovico, but retained Michelangiolo in his house, rather as a relation than a dependant, placing him at the same table with his own sons, with Poliziano, and other learned men who then graced his residence. During the four years that he remained there he laid the foundation of all his acquirements; he especially studied poetry, and thus was enabled to rival Vinci in his Sonnets, and to relish Dante, a bard of a sublimity beyond the reach of vulgar souls.[137] Bonarruoti studied [Pg 164]design in the chapel of Masaccio, he copied the antiques in the garden of Lorenzo, and attended to anatomy, a science, to which he is said to have dedicated twelve years, with great injury to his health, and which determined his style, his practice, and his glory.[138] To this study he owed that style from which he obtained the name of the Dante of the art. As this poet made choice of materials very difficult to be reduced to verse, and from an abstruse subject extracted the praise of sublimity and grandeur, in like manner Michelangiolo explored the untrodden path of design, and in pursuing it, displayed powers of execution at once scientific and magnificent. In his works, man assumes that form which, according to Quintilian,[139] Zeuxis delighted to represent; nervous, muscular, and robust: his foreshortenings, and his attitudes are most daring; his expression full of vivacity and energy. The poet and the painter have other[Pg 165] points of resemblance; a display of knowledge, from which Dante appears sometimes to critics, a declaimer rather than a poet, Bonarruoti, an anatomist rather than a painter; a neglect of elegance, from which the first often, and, if we subscribe to the opinions of the Caracci and of Mengs, the second sometimes, degenerated into harshness.[140] On points like these, which depend wholly on taste, I shall not decide, but content myself with warning the reader that such comparisons should not be pushed too far: for this poet, from his desire of surmounting difficulties in conception and versification, has sometimes so deviated from the usual path, that he cannot always be proposed as a model for imitation: but every design of Michelangiolo, every sketch, as well as his more finished works, may be regarded as a model in art; if in Dante we trace marks of labour, in Michelangiolo every thing exhibits nature and facility.[141] It was one of [Pg 166]his observations, that the compasses ought to lie in the eyes; a principle apparently drawn from Diodorus Siculus, where he asserts that the Egyptians had the rules of measurement in their hands; the Greeks in their eyes.[142] Nor is such eulogy inapplicable to our artist; who, whether he handled his pen, his chisel, or a piece of charcoal, even in sport, still displayed infallible skill in every part of his design.

Bonarruoti was extolled to the skies by Ariosto for his painting, as well as for his sculpture;[143] but Condivi and others prefer his chisel to his pencil; and he undoubtedly exercised it more professedly and with greater reputation. His Moses on the tomb of Julius II. in the church of S. Pietro in Vincoli, his Christ in the Minerva, his Piety in S. Pietro Vaticano, and the statues in the church of S. Lorenzo at Florence, and in the ducal palaces, must be acknowledged to be the finest specimens of sculpture, in themselves forming schools of the revived art. I will not extol them so highly as Vasari does the colossal David, placed near the Palazzo Vecchio, when he says "that it bore away the palm from every statue, modern or ancient, either Grecian [Pg 167]or Roman;" nor shall I follow his annotator, Bottari, in whose judgment Bonarruoti has greatly surpassed the Greeks, who are not so successful in statues larger than the life. I have heard competent judges remark, that we do an injury to the Grecian masters, not only by preferring any modern to them, but even by comparing them; but my pen ought not to wander too far from the canvass and from colouring.

The few remaining drawings of Michelangiolo demonstrate how little he painted. Conscious of his superiority in sculpture, he seems to have dreaded appearing as a second or a third-rate painter. The majority of his compositions that have reached our time, like those of Vinci, are mere outlines; and therefore, though many cabinets are rich in his drawings, none can boast the possession of his paintings. The cartoon of the battle of Pisa, prepared for a competition with Vinci in the saloon of the public palace at Florence, is said to have been a wonderful production in this species of art. Mariette supposes, in the letter above quoted, that the example of Vinci paved the way for this great undertaking, which he confesses surpassed the original. Michelangiolo did not rest satisfied with representing the Florentines cased in armour, and mingling with their enemies; but choosing the moment of the attack upon their van, while bathing in the river Arno, he seized the opportunity of representing many naked figures, as they rushed to arms from the water; by [Pg 168]which he was enabled to introduce a prodigious variety of foreshortenings, attitudes the most energetic, in a word, the highest perfection of his peculiar excellences. Cellini observes in the thirteenth chapter of his life, that when Michelangiolo "painted the chapel of Pope Julius, he reached not half that dignity;" and Vasari adds, that "all the artists who studied and designed after this cartoon, became eminent;" among these he reckons the best Florentine artists of the second epoch, from the time of Frate, and to them he joined Raffaello d'Urbino. This is a point of critical disquisition not yet sufficiently cleared up, though much has been written both for and against the opinion of Vasari. I am not of the number of those who suppose that the labours of Bonarruoti had no influence on the style of Raffaello, because it appears dissimilar. It would seem to me an act of injustice to this divine genius, to imagine that profiting as he did by the finest productions of the art, he neglected those sources of information. I therefore firmly believe, that Raffaello likewise studied Michelangiolo, which he himself appears to acknowledge, as I shall afterwards relate. I cannot, however, grant to Vasari that he saw this cartoon on his first short visit to Florence.[144]

[Pg 169]This cartoon has perished, and report accuses Baccio Bandinelli of tearing it in pieces, either that others might not derive advantage from viewing it, or because from partiality to Vinci, and hatred to Bonarruoti, he wished to remove a subject of comparison, that might exalt the reputation of the latter above that of Lionardo. This circumstance is not authenticated, nor are we much interested in the supposed criminal, who though eminent as a designer and a sculptor, painted a very few pieces, that may almost all be reduced to an Ebriety of Noah, and the Imprisonment of the Fathers of the Church. Baccio soon renounced the pencil, and Michelangiolo appears to have done the same, for he was called to Rome by Julius II. as a sculptor, and when the Pope, about 1508, asked him to paint the ceiling of the chapel, he declined it, and wished to transfer the commission to Raffaello.

He was, however, constrained to undertake it, and, unaccustomed to work in fresco, he invited some of the best painters in this branch from Florence,[145] that they might assist, or rather that they [Pg 170]might instruct him. When he had acquired what he deemed necessary, he effaced their labours entirely, and set about the work without an assistant. When the task was about half finished, he exhibited it for a little time to the public. He then applied himself to the other part, but proceeding more slowly than the impatience of the pontiff could endure, he was compelled by threats to use quicker despatch, and without assistance finished the greater part, then incomplete, in twenty months. I have said that he was unaided, for such was the delicacy of his taste, that no artist could please him; and as in sculpture, every piercer, file, and chisel, which he used, was the work of his own hands, so in painting, "he prepared his own colours, and did not commit the mixing and other necessary manipulations to mechanics or to boys."[146] Here may be seen those grand and finely varied figures of the Prophets and the Sybils, the style of which is pronounced by Lomazzo, an impartial judge, because an artist of a different school, "to be the finest in the world."[147] There, indeed, the dignity of the aspects, the solemn majesty of the eyes, a certain wild and uncommon casting of the drapery, and[Pg 171] the attitudes, whether representing rest or motion, announce an order of beings who hold converse with the Deity, and whose mouths utter what he inspires. Amid this display of genius, the figure most admired by Vasari is that of Isaiah, "who, absorbed in meditation, places his right hand in a book, to denote where he had been reading; and with his left elbow on the book, and his cheek resting on that hand, he turns round his head, without moving the rest of his body, on being called by one of the children that are behind him; a figure which, if attentively studied, might fully teach the precepts of a master." No less science is displayed in his pictures of the Creation of the World, of the Deluge, of Judith, and in the other compartments of that vast ceiling. All is varied and fanciful in the garments, the foreshortenings, and the attitudes: all is novel in the composition and the designs. He that contemplates the pictures of Sandro and his associates on the walls, and then, raising his eyes to the ceiling, beholds Michelangiolo "soaring like an eagle above them all," can hardly believe that a man, not exercised in painting, in what may be considered as his first essay, should so nearly approach the greatest masters of antiquity, and thus open a new career to modern artists.

In the succeeding pontificates, Michelangiolo, always occupied in sculpture and architecture, almost wholly abandoned painting, till he was induced [Pg 172]by Paul III. to resume the pencil. Clement VII. had conceived the design of employing him in the Sistine Chapel on two other grand historical pictures; the Fall of the Angels, over the gate, and the Last Judgment, in the opposite façade, over the altar. Michelangiolo had composed designs for the Last Judgment, and Paul III. being aware of this, commanded, or rather entreated him, to commence the work; for he went to the house of Michelangiolo, accompanied by ten Cardinals, an honour, except in this instance, unknown in the annals of the art. On the suggestion of F. Sebastiano del Piombo, he was desirous that the picture should be painted in oil; but this he could not procure, for Michelangiolo replied, that he would not undertake it except in fresco, and that oil painting was employment only fit for women, or idlers of mean capacity. He caused the plaister prepared by Frate to be thrown down, and substituting a rough-cast suited to his purpose, he completed the work in eight years, and exhibited it in 1541. If in the ceiling of the chapel he could not fully satisfy himself, and was unable to retouch it as he wished to do after it was dry, in this immense painting he had an opportunity of fulfilling his intentions, and of demonstrating to the full the powers of his genius. He peopled this space, and disposed innumerable figures awakened by the sound of the last trumpet; bands of angels and of devils, of elected and condemned souls:[Pg 173] some of them rising from the tomb, others standing on the earth; some flying to the regions of bliss, while others are dragged down to punishment.

Bottari observes[148] that there have been some who affected to depreciate this picture, on comparing it with the works of other artists, by remarking how much he might have added to the expression, to the colouring, or to the beauty of the contours: but Lomazzo, Felibien,[149] and several others, have not failed on that account to acknowledge him supreme in that peculiar branch of the profession, at which he aimed in all his works, and especially in this of his Last Judgment. The subject itself appeared rather created than selected by him. To a genius so comprehensive, and so skilled in drawing the human figure, no subject could be better adapted than the Resurrection; to an artist who delighted in the awful, no story more suitable than the day of supernal terrors. He saw Raffaello pre-eminent in every other department of the art: he foresaw that in this alone could he expect to be triumphant; and, perhaps, he indulged the hope also that posterity would adjudge the palm to him who excelled all others in the most arduous walk of art. Vasari, his confidant, and the participator of his thoughts, seems to hint at something of this sort in two passages in his Life of Michelangiolo.[150] He informs us, "that applying himself to the human [Pg 174]figure, the great object of art, he neglected the attractions of colouring, all sporting of the pencil, and fantastic novelty:" and again, "neither landscapes, trees, nor houses, are to be seen in it, and we even look in vain for some degree of variety and ornament, which are never attempted, probably because he disdained to submit his towering genius to such objects." I cannot suppose in Michelangiolo such arrogance, nor such negligence of his own improvement in an art which embraces every object in nature, that he would limit himself to the naked figure, which is a single branch, and to one only character, his own sublime and awful manner. I rather imagine, that discovering his strength in this style, he did not attempt any other. There he proceeded as in his peculiar province, and, what one cannot wholly commend, he observed no limits, and wished for no control. This Last Judgment was filled with such a profusion of nudity, that it was in great danger of being destroyed: from a regard to the decency of the sanctuary, Paul IV. proposed to white-wash it, and was hardly appeased with the correction of its most glaring indelicacies, by some drapery introduced here and there by Daniel da Volterra, on whom the facetious Romans, from this circumstance, conferred the nick-name of the Breeches-maker.[151]

Other corrections have been proposed in it by different critics, both with regard to the costume and the conception. The artist has been censured [Pg 175]for confounding sacred with profane history; for introducing the angels of Revelation with the Stygian ferryman; Christ sitting in judgment, and Minos, who assigns his proper station to each of the damned. To this profanity he added satire, by pourtraying in Minos the features of a master of the ceremonies, who, in the hearing of the Pope, had pronounced this picture more suitable for a bagnio than a church;[152] but Bonarruoti did not set the example in such composition. Scannelli has expressed a wish that there had been greater variety in the proportion, and muscularity according to the diversity of age;[153] although, by an evident anachronism, this criticism is attributed to Vinci, who died in 1519. Albani, as quoted by Malvasia,[154] says, that "had Michelangiolo contemplated Raffaello, he might have learned to dispose the crowd that surround the judgment-seat of Christ in a superior manner;" but here I am uncertain whether he blames the composition or the perspective.[155] I can discover, however, an anachronism in his imagining the Last Judgment an earlier work than it really is by many years; as if it had been executed before Raffaello came to Rome.

[Pg 176]I find that Albani rendered justice to the merit of Michelangiolo; he reckoned not three great masters in painting only, as is now commonly done; but he added a fourth, and thought that Bonarruoti surpassed Raffaello, Tiziano, and Coreggio, "in form and in grandeur."[156] We may here observe, that when Michelangiolo was so inclined, he could obtain distinction for those endowments in which the others excelled. It is a vulgar error to suppose that he had no idea of grace and beauty; the Eve of the Sistine Chapel turns to thank her maker, on her creation, with an attitude so fine and lovely, that it would do honour to the school of Raffaello. Annibale Caracci admired this, and many other naked figures in this grand ceiling, so highly, that he proposed them to himself as models in the art, and according to Bellori,[157] preferred them to those of the Last Judgment, that appeared to him too anatomical. In chiaroscuro Michelangiolo had not the skill and delicacy of Coreggio; but the paintings of the Vatican have a force and relief much commended by Renfesthein, an eminent connoisseur, who, on passing from the Sistine Chapel to the Farnesian gallery, remarked how greatly in this respect the Caracci themselves were eclipsed by Bonarruoti. Dolce speaks less favourably of his colouring,[158] for this author was captivated by Tiziano and the Venetian school: no [Pg 177]one, however, can deny that the colouring of Michelangiolo in this chapel is admirably adapted to the design,[159] and the same, also, would have been the case with his two pictures in the Pauline Chapel, the Crucifixion of S. Peter and the Conversion of S. Paul, but they have sustained great injury from time.

None of his paintings are to be seen in public, except in those two chapels; and those described as his in collections, are almost all the works of other hands. During his residence at Florence he painted an exquisite Leda for Alphonso, Duke of Ferrara, to whom however it was not sold. Michelangiolo, offended at the manner in which it was demanded by one of the courtiers of that prince, refused to let him have it: but made a present of it to his pupil, Antonio Mini, who carried it to France. Vasari describes it as "a grand picture, painted in distemper, that seemed as if breathed on the canvass;" and Mariette affirms, in his notes on Condivi, that he saw the picture in a damaged state, and that it appeared as if Michelangiolo had there forgot his usual style, and "approached the tone of Tiziano." This expression inclines one to suspect that he is describing a copy taken in oil by some able painter; especially as D'Argenville informs us that this painting was burnt in the reign of Louis XIII. It is said there is also one of his pictures, representing the Virgin and the Divine Infant, in an upright position, standing [Pg 178]near the cradle upon a rock, a figure drawn of the size of nature, formerly in possession of the noble house of Mocci (Mozzi) at Florence; and afterwards transferred to the cathedral of Burgos, where it still remains.[160] Michelangiolo executed likewise a circular Holy Family, with some naked figures in the distance, for Agnol Doni. It is now in the tribune of the Florentine gallery, in a high state of preservation. It is praised by Richardson and some others for the vigour of its tints, and is painted in distemper. Placed among the works of the greatest masters of every school that vie with each other in this theatre of art, it appears the most scientific, but the least pleasing picture: its author seems the most powerful designer, but the feeblest colourist among them all. In it aerial perspective is neglected, inasmuch as the figures are not indistinct in proportion to their diminution, a fault not uncommon in that age. I cannot so readily decide whether his style appears in certain pictures that are described as his in several collections in Florence, Rome, and Bologna, as well as in the catalogue of the imperial gallery at Vienna, and in the royal collections in Spain, that represent the subjects of the Crucifixion,[161] [Pg 179]the Pietà,[162] the Infant Jesus asleep, and the Prayer in the Garden. They resemble the design of Michelangiolo, but their execution betrays another pencil. This is rendered probable by the silence of Vasari; their high finish seems incredible in an artist, who, even in sculpture, very rarely attempted it; and our scepticism is confirmed by the opinion of Mengs, and other competent judges, whom I have consulted to elucidate this point. Some of them, in which the distribution of the tints was perhaps originally made under his inspection, resemble his style. These may have been copied by Fiamminghi, as the tints of some of them indicate, or by other Italian artists of the various schools, since they differ so much in their mode of colouring. Some copies may be the work of the scholars of Michelangiolo, though Vasari informs us they were all but feeble artists. He gives us the names of those who dwelt in his house; Pietro Urbano of Pistoia, a man of genius, but very indolent; Antonio Mini of Florence, and Ascanio Condivi da Ripatransone, both eager in their profession, but of little talent, [Pg 180]and therefore the authors of no work worthy of record. The people of Ferrara include their countryman Filippi in this school, an artist unknown to Vasari, but worthy of notice. Lomazzi mentions Marco da Pino as one of the number. To these Palomino adds Castelli of Bergamo, (whose master, while he was in Rome, is not noticed by any of our writers) and Gaspar Bacerra, of Andalusia, a celebrated Spanish painter. We may likewise add Alonzo Berrugese, who is reckoned by Vasari only among those that studied the cartoon of Michelangiolo, at Florence, with Francia, and other strangers, who were not among his disciples. In the history of Spanish painting, there is mentioned by all the writers a Roman, of the name of Matteo Perez d'Alessio, or d'Alessi. They recount that he lived many years at Seville, and produced many works there, among which his S. Cristoforo, in the cathedral, which cost 4,000 crowns, is by far the grandest. They add, that Luigi Vargas, a very able disciple of Perino del Vaga, having returned from Rome, Alessi was glad to leave the field open to him, and to return into Italy; where Preziado finds him. Indeed he rather finds him at Rome, and at the Sistine Chapel, where two histories, painted "opposite to the Last Judgment of his master," are ascribed to him; these however are the production of Matteo da Leccio, who aimed at imitating Michelangiolo and Salviati; but he is only despised by Taia, and by every one who has a grain of sense. He executed this work in the time of Gregory XIII.; and neither he nor the supposititious Alessio,[163] [Pg 181]an imaginary name, had any connexion with Michelangiolo. The rest we refer to the note, in order to proceed without delay to names which may boast a better title to such a connexion.

Many other figures and historic compositions were designed by Michelangiolo, and painted at Rome by F. Sebastiano del Piombo, an excellent colourist of the Venetian school. The Pietà in the church of S. Francis of Viterbo,[164] the Flagellation, [Pg 182]and Transfiguration, with some other pieces at S. Pietro in Montorio, are of this number. Two Annunciations, designed by Bonarruoti, were coloured for altar-pieces by Marcello Venusti of Mantua, a scholar of Perino, who adopted the style of Michelangiolo, without apparent affectation. The one was put up in the church of S. Giovanni Laterano, the other in the Della Pace. He is said to have painted also some cabinet pictures after designs of Bonarruoti; as the Limbo,[165] in the Colonna palace; the Christ going to Mount Calvary, and some other pieces in the Borghese; also the celebrated copy of the Last Judgment, which he painted for Cardinal Farnese, that still exists in Naples. Although a good designer, and the author of many pieces described by Baglione, he obtained greater celebrity by clothing the inventions of Michelangiolo in exquisite beauty, especially in small pictures, of which, Vasari says, he executed a great many. This writer, and Orlandi following him, have erroneously named him Raffaello, not Marcello. Batista Franco coloured the Rape of Ganymede, after a design of Bonarruoti, which was also done by the artist who painted the small picture which D'Argenville describes in France; and another on a larger scale, to be seen at Rome in the possession of the Colonna family: [Pg 183]it was also painted in oil by Giulio Clovio. Pontormo employed himself in a similar manner at Florence, on the design of Venus and Cupid; and on the cartoon of Christ appearing to Mary Magdalen, a work which was re-executed by him for Città di Castello, Bonarruoti having said, that none could perform it better. Francesco Salviati painted another of his designs, and Bugiardini, as we have already noticed, executed some figures designed by him. Such is the information transmitted to us by Vasari; and he would have been justly reprehensible if he had written with such minuteness on the drawings of Michelangiolo, and of those employed to finish them, and had neglected to inform us as to those pieces which Michelangiolo himself executed. Hence it is not easy to avoid scepticism on the genuineness of the Annunciation, the Flagellation, or any other oil painting ascribed to Bonarruoti by Bottari, D'Argenville, or the describers of collections. We have noticed his aversion to this method of painting. We are informed that during his lifetime he employed others in this branch; and we know that after his death artists availed themselves of his designs; as Sabbatini did in a Pietà for the sacristy of the Church of S. Peter, a work copied by some other artist for the Madonna de' Monti, and some others made known to us by Baglione. Can we then hesitate as to the originality of any picture, if we give credit to the oil paintings of Michelangiolo? The portraits of Bonarruoti ascribed [Pg 184]to his own hand, are also, in my opinion, supposititious. Vasari knew of no likeness of him except the figure cast in bronze by Ricciarelli, and two portraits, the one painted by Bugiardini, the other by Jacopo del Conte. From these are derived the very old and well known portraits, preserved in the ducal gallery, in the collection of the Capitol, in the Caprara palace at Bologna, and that in the possession of Cardinal Zelada at Rome.

Franco, Marco da Siena, Tibaldi, and other foreign artists, who have imitated Michelangiolo, shall be noticed under their respective schools. The Florentine school abounded in them, and these we shall consider all together in the succeeding epoch. I shall here only notice two, who lived on intimate habits with him, who executed works under his own eye, and for a long time received directions from his own lips; circumstances which cannot be said of Vasari, of Salviati, nor of any other able artist of his school. One of these was Francesco Granacci of Florence, characterized by Vasari as an excellent artist, who derived much of his merit from his early intimacy with Michelangiolo. He was the fellow student of the latter, under Domenico Ghirlandaio, and also in the garden of Lorenzo; and from his precepts, and by studying his cartoon, he enlarged his own manner, and approached near the modern style. After the death of his master, he remained with the brothers of that artist, to complete some of the works of the deceased, and was employed in painting some Holy[Pg 185] Families, and cabinet pictures, in distemper, which might easily pass under another name, as they resemble the best productions of that school. In his new style he never entirely abandoned the simplicity of the old manner; but there is a specimen in the church of S. Jacopo without-the-walls, more studied in design, and more determined in the colouring. In this picture S. Zanobi and S. Francis appear near our Lady under a lofty canopy; a subject then familiar in every school. His style seems more matured in an Assumption which was in S. Pier Maggiore, a church now suppressed: here he inserted, between two other figures, a S. Thomas, wholly in the manner of Michelangiolo. Few other considerable paintings can be ascribed to this artist, who was left in easy circumstances by his father, and painted rather as a commendable amusement than from necessity.

Ricciarelli, usually known in history by the name of Daniele di Volterra, enjoys a greater name, and is generally described as the most successful follower of Michelangiolo. Educated in Siena, according to report, by Peruzzi and Razzi, he became the assistant of Perino del Vaga, and acquired an astonishing talent for imitating Bonarruoti, who greatly esteemed him, appointed him his substitute in the labours of the Vatican, brought him into notice, and assisted and enriched him with designs. It is known that Michelangiolo was often with Daniele when he painted in the Farnese palace, and it is said that Bonarruoti, during his [Pg 186]absence, "O vero o falso che la fama suoni," mounted the scaffold, and sketched with charcoal a colossal head that is still seen there. Volterra let it remain, that posterity might judge of the powers of Bonarruoti, who without pre-meditation and in mere jest, had finished a work in such proportion, and so perfect. Nor did Daniele execute, without the assistance of Michelangiolo, the wonderful Descent from the Cross in the Trinità de' Monti, which, together with the Transfiguration by Raffaello, and the S. Girolamo of Domenichino, may be reckoned among the finest paintings in Rome.[166] We seem to behold the mournful spectacle, and the Redeemer sinking with the natural relaxation of a dead body in descending: the pious men engaged in various offices, and thrown in different and contrasted attitudes, appear assiduously occupied with the sacred remains which they seem to venerate; the mother of Jesus having fainted between the sorrowing women, the beloved disciple extends his arms and bends over her. There is a truth in the naked figures that seems perfect nature; a colouring in the faces and the whole piece that suits the subject, and is more determined than delicate; a relief, a harmony, and, in a word, a skill that might do honour to the hand of Michelangiolo himself, had the picture been inscribed with his name. To this the artist, I believe, alluded, when he painted Bonarruoti with a mirror near it; as if [Pg 187]in this picture he might behold a reflection of himself. Volterra painted some other Crucifixions in the Orsini Chapel, where he was employed for seven years; but they are inferior to that described above. He employed his pupils in another chapel of that church, (Michele Alberti, according to the Guide to Rome, and Gio. Paolo Rossetti,) and supplied them with designs; one of which he himself executed in a picture, with figures of a moderate size. The subject is the Murder of the Innocents, and it is now deposited in the Tribune of the Royal Gallery of Florence; an honour that speaks more for it than my eulogy. The Grand Duke Leopold purchased it at a high price from a church in Volterra, where there is now no other public specimen of this master. The Ricciarelli family possess a fine Elijah, as an inheritance and memorial of this great man; and a beautiful fresco remains in a study in the house of the Dottor Mazzoni, relating to which we may refer the reader to the excellent historiographer of Volterra, (tom. i. p. 177).

There was a youth of Florence, named Baccio della Porta, because his study was near a gate of that city; but having become a Dominican, he obtained that of Fra Bartolommeo di S. Marco, from the convent where he resided, or, more shortly, that of Frate. Whilst he studied under Rosselli, he became enamoured of the grand chiaro-scuro of Vinci, and emulated him assiduously. We read that his friend Albertinelli studied modelling, and[Pg 188] copied ancient basso-relievos, from a desire of obtaining correctness in his shadows; and we may conjecture the same of Baccio, although Vasari is silent on this head. The Prince has a Nativity and Circumcision of Christ in his early manner; most graceful little pictures, resembling miniatures. About this period he also painted his own portrait in the lay habit, a full-length figure, most skilfully inclosed in a small space, and now in the splendid collection of the Signori Montecatini at Lucca. He entered the cloister in 1500, at the age of thirty-one, and for four years never handled the pencil. The execution of Savonarola, whom he knew and respected, preyed upon his mind; and, like Botticelli and Credi, he gave up the art. When he again resumed it, he seems to have advanced daily in improvement, during the last thirteen or fourteen years of his life; so that his earlier productions, though very beautiful, are inferior to his last. His improvement was accelerated by Raffaello, who came to Florence to pursue his studies in 1504, contracted a friendship for him, and was at the same time his scholar in colouring, and his master in perspective.[167] Having gone to Rome some years after, to see the works of Bonarruoti and Raffaello, if I am not deceived, he greatly elevated [Pg 189]his style; but his manner was at all times more conformable to that of his friend than of his fellow citizen, uniting dignity with grace in his heads and in his general design. The picture in the Pitti palace is a proof of this, which Pietro da Cortona imagined to be the work of Raffaello, though Frate had painted it before he went to Rome. In that place he appeared with diminished lustre, says the historian, in the presence of those two great luminaries of the art, and speedily returned to Florence; a circumstance which also happened to Andrea del Sarto, to Rosso, and to other truly eminent masters, whose modesty was equal to the confidence of innumerable artists of mediocrity, who frequently enjoyed at Rome much ill placed patronage. Frate left there two figures of the Chief Apostles, that are preserved in the Quirinal palace; the S. Peter, which was not finished, had its last touches from the hand of Raffaello. One of his pictures is also in the Vatican palace, where it was deposited by Pius VI., with many other choice paintings. A Holy Family exists in the Corsini collection by the same hand, and is perhaps his finest and most graceful performance.

His most finished productions are in Tuscany, which boasts various altar-pieces, and all of them very valuable. Their composition is in the usual style of the age, which may be observed in the production of every school, not even excepting Raffaello, and which continued in the Florentine until the time of Pontormo; viz. a Madonna seated, [Pg 190]with an infant Jesus, and accompanied by saints. But in this hackneyed subject, Frate distinguished himself by grand architecture, by magnificent flights of steps, and by the skilful grouping of his saints and cherubims. He introduces them, one while seated in concert, another time poised on their wings to minister to their king and queen; of whom some support the drapery, others have charge of the pavilion, a rich and happily conceived ornament, which he readily connected with such thrones, even in cabinet pictures. He departed from this mode of composition in a picture that he left at S. Romano of Lucca, called Madonna della Misericordia, who sits in an attitude full of grace, amid a crowd of devotees, shielding them with her mantle from the wrath of heaven. His rivals occasioned the production of two more altar-pieces: according to the example of other eminent men, he answered their sneers by his classic performances; a retort the most galling to the invidious. They had stigmatized him as unequal to large proportions; and he filled a large piece with a single figure of S. Mark, which is admired as a prodigy of art in the ducal gallery, and is described by a learned foreigner as a Grecian statue transformed into a picture. He was accused of being ignorant of the anatomy of the human figure; and to refute this calumny he introduced a naked S. Sebastian in another picture, which was so perfect in drawing and in colouring, that "it received the unbounded applause of artists;" but becoming too much the admiration [Pg 191]of the female devotees of that church, it was first removed by the fathers into a private room, and was afterwards sold, and sent into France.

To sum up all, he knew how to excel at pleasure, in every department of painting. His design is most chaste, and his youthful faces are more full and fleshy than was usual with Raffaello; and according to Algarotti, they are but little elevated above the standard of ordinary men, and approach to vulgarity. His tints at one period abounded with shadows produced by lamp black or ivory black, which impairs the value of some of his pictures; but he gradually acquired a better manner, and, as we have related, was able to instruct Raffaello. In firmness and clearness he yields not to the best of the school of Lombardy. He was the inventor of a new method of casting draperies; having taught the use of the wooden figure, with moveable joints, that serves admirably for the study of the folds of drapery. None of his school painted them more varied and natural, with more breadth, or better adapted to the limbs. His works are to be seen in several private collections in Florence; but they are rare beyond the precincts of that city: they are there eagerly sought after by foreigners, but are very rarely to be sold. One of his Madonnas was procured within these few years by his Excellency the Major-Domo of the ducal household, whose collection may be reckoned another Florentine Gallery in miniature, consisting of about thirty pictures of the best [Pg 192]masters of different schools. The Fathers of S. Mark have a considerable number of his paintings in their private chapel, and among these is a S. Vincenzo, said by Bottari to resemble a work of Tiziano or Giorgione. His best and rarest performances are in the possession of the Prince, in whose collection the last work of Fra Bartolommeo remains, a large picture in chiaroscuro, representing the patron saints of the city surrounding the Virgin Mary. The Gonfalonier Soderini intended this piece for the Hall of the Council of State; but it was left only as a design at the death of its author, in 1517, like the projected works of Vinci and Bonarruoti. It would seem as if some fatality attended the decoration of this building, which ought to have employed the pencil of the greatest native artists. Among this number Frate must undoubtedly be included; and Richardson remarks, that had he possessed the happy combinations of Raffaello, he, perhaps, would not have been second to that master.[168] The last mentioned production, though imperfect, is looked upon as a model in the art. The method of this artist was first to draw the figure naked, then to drape it, and to form a chiaroscuro, sometimes in oils, that marked the distribution of the light and shadow, which constituted his great study, and the soul of his pictures. This large picture demonstrates such preparatives; and it has as high a value in painting, as the antique plaster models have in sculpture, in which [Pg 193]Winckelmann discovers the stamp of genius and compass of design better than in sculptured marbles.

Mariotto Albertinelli, the fellow student and friend of Baccio, the sharer of his labours and his concerns, emulated his first style, and approaches to his second in some of his works; but they may be compared to two streams springing from the same source; the one to become a brook, the other a mighty river. Some pictures in Florence are supposed to be their joint performances; and the Marquis Acciaiuoli possesses a picture of the Assumption, in the upper part of which are the Apostles, by Baccio, and the lower is deemed the work of Mariotto. He is somewhat dry in several of his pictures, as in the S. Silvestro, in Monte Cavallo at Rome; where he also painted a S. Domenick, and a S. Catharine of Siena, near the throne of the Virgin Mary. He should likewise be known at Florence. He executed two pictures for the church of S. Giuliano, remarkable for the force of colouring, and the many imitations of the style of Frate. The best of all and the nearest to his model is the Visitation, transferred from the Congregazione de' Preti to the Ducal gallery, and even to its most honoured place, the Tribune. Albertinelli obtained great credit by his two pupils, Franciabigio and Innocenzio da Imola, of whom I shall speak in the proper place as ornaments of their school. I find Visino praised beyond them both: he painted but little in Florence, and that in private; but he was much employed in Hungary. [Pg 194]

Benedetto Cianfanini, Gabriele Rustici, and Cecchin del Frate, who inherited his master's name, were the scholars of Fra Bartolommeo in his best time; but they are no longer known by any undoubted works. Fra Paolo da Pistoia, his colleague, who was honoured in his own country with a medal, which I have seen, with those of many eminent men of Pistoia, in the possession of the Sign. Dottor Visoni, obtained the richest inheritance in all the studies of Baccio; and from his designs this artist painted many pictures at Pistoia, one of which may be seen in the parochial church of S. Paul, over the great altar. Those designs were afterwards carried to Florence, and in the time of Vasari there was a collection of them at the Dominican convent of S. Catharine, in the hands of Sister Plautella Nelli. The noble family of this lady possesses a Crucifixion painted by her, in which there is a multitude of small figures most highly finished. She seems on the whole a good imitation of Frate; but she also followed other styles, as may be seen in her convent. A Descent from the Cross is there shewn, said to be the design of Andrea del Sarto, but the execution is by her; and likewise an Epiphany, entirely her own, in which the landscape would do honour to the modern, but the figures savour of the old school.

Andrea Vannucchi, called Andrea del Sarto, from the occupation of his father, is commended by Vasari as the first artist of this school, "for being the most faultless painter of the Florentines,[Pg 195] for perfectly understanding the principles of chiaroscuro, for representing the indistinctness of objects in shadow, and for painting with a sweetness truly natural: he, moreover, taught how to give a perfect union to frescos, and in a great measure obviated the necessity of retouching them when dry, a circumstance which gives all his works the appearance of having been finished in one day." He is censured by Baldinucci, as barren in invention; and undoubtedly he wanted that elevation of conception, which constitutes the epic in painting as well as in poetry. Deficient in this talent, Andrea is said to have been modest, elegant, and endued with sensibility; and it appears that he impressed this character on nature wherever he employed his pencil. The portico of the Nunziata, transformed by him into a gallery of inestimable value, is the fittest place to judge of this. Those chaste outlines that procured him the surname of Andrea the Faultless, those conceptions of graceful countenances, whose smiles remind us of the simplicity and grace of Correggio,[169] that appropriate architecture, those draperies, adapted to every condition, and cast with ease, those popular expressions of curiosity, of astonishment, of confidence, of compassion, and of joy, that never transgress the bounds of decorum, which are understood at first sight, and gently affect the mind without [Pg 196]agitating it, are charms that are more readily felt than expressed. He who feels what Tubules is in poetry, may conceive what Andrea is in painting.

This artist demonstrates the ascendancy of native genius over precept. When a boy he was put under the tuition of Giovanni Barile, a good carver in wood, employed on the ceilings and doors of the Vatican, after the designs of Raffaello, but a painter of no celebrity. While still a youth, he was consigned to Pier di Cosimo, a practical colourist, but by no means skilled in drawing or in composition: hence the taste of Andrea in these arts was formed on the cartoons of Vinci and Bonarruoti; and, as many circumstances indicate, on the frescos of Masaccio and of Ghirlandaio, in which the subjects were more suited to his mild disposition. He went to Rome, but I know not in what year; that he was there, appears not to me to admit of dispute, as in the case of Correggio. I do not argue this from his style approaching near to that of Raffaello, as it appeared also to Lomazzo and other writers, though with less of ideal beauty. Raffaello and Andrea had studied the same originals at Florence; and nature might have given them corresponding ideas for the selection of the beautiful. I ground my opinion entirely on Vasari. He informs us, that Andrea was at Rome, that seeing the works of the scholars of Raffaello, timidity induced him to despair of equalling them, and to return speedily to Florence. If we credit so many other stories of the pusillanimity of Andrea, [Pg 197]why should we reject this? or what faith shall we give to Vasari, if he was erroneous in a circumstance relating to one who was his master, and which was written in Florence soon after the death of Andrea, while his scholars, his friends, and even his wife, were still living, an assertion, too, uncontradicted in the second edition, in which Vasari retracted so much of what he had affirmed in the first?

His improvement and his progress from one perfection in art to another was thus not sudden, as has happened to some other artists; but was gradually acquired during many years residence at Florence. There, "by reflecting on what he had seen, he attained such eminence that his works have been esteemed, and admired, and even more imitated after his death, than in his lifetime:" so says the historian. This implies that he improved at Rome; chiefly, however, by his own genius, which led him, as it were, by the hand, from one step to another, as may be observed in the Compagnia dello Scalzo, and in the convent of the Servi, where some of his pictures, executed at different periods, are to be seen. At the Scalzo, he painted some stories from the life of S. John in chiaroscuro, the cartoons for which are in the Rinuccini palace: in this work we may notice some palpable imitations, and even some figures borrowed from Albert Durer. We may trace his early style in the Baptism of Christ; his subsequent progress, in some other pictures, as in the Visitation, painted some years after; and [Pg 198]his greatest excellence and broadest manner in others, especially in the Birth of the Baptist. In like manner, the pictures from the life of S. Filippo Benizi, in the lesser cloister of the Servi, are very beautiful productions, though they are among the first efforts of Andrea's genius. The Epiphany of our Saviour, and the Birth of the Virgin in the same place, are more finished works; but his finest piece is that Holy Family in Repose, which is usually called Madonna del Sacco, from the sack of grain on which S. Joseph leans, than which few pictures are more celebrated in the history of the art. It has frequently been engraved; but after two centuries and a half, it has at length employed an engraver worthy of it in Morghen, who has recently executed it, and also a similar composition after Raffaello. Both prints are in the best collections; and to those who have not seen either Rome or Florence, Andrea appears rather a rival than an inferior to the prince of painters. On examining this picture narrowly, it affords endless scope for observation: it is finished as if intended for a cabinet; every hair is distinguished, every middle tint is lowered with consummate art, every outline marked with admirable variety and grace: and amid all this diligence a facility is conspicuous, that makes the whole appear natural and unconstrained.

In the ducal palace at Poggio a Caiano, there is a fresco picture of Cæsar, seated in a hall, ornamented with statues, on a lofty seat, to whom a [Pg 199]great variety of exotic birds and wild animals are presented as the tribute of his victories; a work of itself sufficient to mark Andrea as a painter eminent in perspective, in a knowledge of the antique, and in every excellence of painting. The order for ornamenting that palace came from Leo X.; and Andrea, who had there to contend with Franciabigio and Pontormo, exerted all his energy to please that encourager of art, and to surpass his competitors. The other artists seem to have been discouraged, and did not proceed: some years after Alessandro Allori put a finishing hand to the hall. The royal palace possesses a treasure in the oil pictures of Andrea. Independent of the S. Francis, the Assumption, and other pictures, collected by the family of the Medici, the Grand Duke Leopold purchased a very fine Pietà from the nuns of Lugo, and placed it in the Tribune as an honour to the school. The introduction of S. Peter and S. Paul in that piece, contrary to historical facts, is not the error of the painter who represented them so admirably, but of those who commissioned the picture. Critics have remarked a slight defect in the dead Christ, which they think sustains itself more, and has a greater fulness of the veins, than is suitable to a dead body: but this is immaterial in a picture the other parts of which are designed, coloured, and composed, so as to excite astonishment. A Last Supper, if it were not confined to the cloisters of the monastery of S. Salvi, would, perhaps, be equally admired. The soldiers [Pg 200]who besieged Florence in 1529, and destroyed the suburbs of the city, undoubtedly admired it: after demolishing the belfry, the church, and part of the monastery, they were astonished on beholding this Last Supper, and had not resolution to destroy it; imitating that Demetrius who, at the siege of Rhodes, is said to have respected nothing but a picture by Protegenes.[170]

Andrea painted a great deal; and on this account is well known beyond the limits of his own country. Perhaps his best performance in the hands of strangers is a picture translated to a palace in Genoa from the church of the Domenicans of Sarzana, who possess several others, very beautiful. It is composed in the manner of F. Bartolommeo; and besides the Saints distributed around the Virgin, or on the steps, four of whom are standing and two on their knees, there are two large figures in the foreground that seem to start from the lower part of the picture, and are seen as high as the knee. I am aware that this disposition of the figures displeases the critics; yet it gives variety in the position of so many figures, and introduces a great distance between the nearest and most remote, by which the space seems augmented, and every figure produces effect. The best collections are not deficient in his Holy Families. The Marquis Rinuccini, at Florence, possesses two; and some of the illustrious Romans have even a greater number; but all different, except [Pg 201]that the features of the Virgin, which Andrea usually copied from his wife, have always some resemblance. Many others may be seen in Rome and in Florence, and not a few in Lombardy, besides those noticed in the catalogues of foreign nations.

So much genius merited success: and yet if one was to write a book on the misfortunes of painters, as has already been done on those of authors, nothing would awaken more compassion than the lot of Andrea. The poverty of Correggio is exaggerated, or perhaps untrue; the misery of Domenichino had a termination; the Caracci were ill rewarded, but lived in easy circumstances. Andrea, from his marriage with Lucrezia del Fede until his death, was almost always pressed with griefs. In his first edition, Vasari says, that he was despised by his friends, and abandoned by his employers, from the time of his marriage with this woman; that, the slave of her will, he left his father and mother to starve; that through her arrogance and violence none of the scholars of Andrea could continue long with him; and this must have happened to Vasari himself. In the second edition he omitted this censure, either because he repented of it, or was appeased; but did not, however, conceal that she was a perpetual source of misfortune to her husband. He there repeated that Andrea was invited to the French court by Francis I. where, caressed and rewarded, he might have excited the envy of every artist; but influenced by the womanish complaints[Pg 202] of Lucrezia, he returned to Florence; and remained in his own country, in violation of his faith solemnly pledged to that monarch. He afterwards repented and was anxious to regain his former situation; but his efforts were ineffectual. He dragged out a miserable existence, amid jealousy and domestic wretchedness, until, infected with the plague, and abandoned by his wife and every other individual, he died, in 1530, in the forty-second year of his age, and had a very mean funeral.

The two who approximated most nearly to the style of Andrea were Marco Antonio Francia Bigi, as he is named by Baldinucci, called also Franciabigio, or Francia, as Vasari denominates him, and Pontormo. Francia was the scholar of Albertinelli for a few months, and then appears to have formed himself on the best models of the school; and few are commended so highly by Vasari for a knowledge of anatomy, for perspective, for the daily habit of drawing the naked figure, and the exquisite finish of all his performances. One of his Annunciations was formerly in S. Pier Maggiore; the figures were small and highly finished, accompanied by good architecture, but not without a certain degree of dryness. Andrea, his friend, and the associate of his studies, helped him to a more elevated style. From a companion Francia became his enthusiastic follower; but, inferior in talents, he never attained the art of representing such sweetness of disposition, affection so true, and grace so natural. A semicircular piece of his, representing [Pg 203]the Marriage of the Virgin, may be seen near the works of Andrea, in the cloister of the Nunziata, where we recognize him as a painter who sought to attain by labour what the other accomplished by genius. This work was never completed. Some of the monks having uncovered it before it was finished, the artist was so offended that he struck the work some blows with a hammer, in order to deface it; and though they prevented his accomplishing this, he never after could be prevailed on to complete it, and no other dared to undertake the task. He was a competitor with Andrea also in the Scalzo, where he executed two histories that are not much eclipsed by the pictures in their vicinity. He imitated his friend likewise at Poggio a Caiano, in a picture of the return of Cicero from exile: a work of merit, though never finished. It is the great glory of his pencil, that it was so often employed in contending with Andrea, in whom it awakened emulation and industry, from the fear of being surpassed.

Jacopo Carrucci, called Pontormo, from the place of his nativity, was a man of rare genius, whose early productions obtained the admiration of Raffaello and Michelangiolo. He got a few lessons from Vinci, and was afterwards under the care of Albertinelli, and Pier di Cosimo, but he finally became the pupil of Andrea. He excited the jealousy of this master, was induced by unhandsome treatment to withdraw from his school, and afterwards became not only the imitator of Andrea, but [Pg 204]his rival in many undertakings. The Visitation in the cloister of the Servi, the picture of several saints at S. Michelino, the two pictures of the History of Joseph, represented in minute figures, in an apartment of the ducal gallery, shew that he trod without difficulty in the footsteps of his master, and that congeniality of talent led him into a similar path. I use the term similar; for he is not a copyist, like those who borrow heads or whole figures, but invariably retains a peculiar originality. I saw one of his Holy Families in the possession of the Marquis Cerbone Pucci, along with others by Baccio, by Rosso, and Andrea: the picture by Pontormo vied with them all; but yet was sufficiently characteristic.

He had a certain singularity of disposition, and readily abandoned one style to try a better; but he was often unsuccessful; as likewise happened to Nappi, of Milan; to Sacchi, of Rome; and to every other artist who has made this attempt, at an age too far advanced for a change of manner. The Carthusian Monastery at Florence has some of his works, from which connoisseurs have inferred the three styles attributed to him. The first is correct in design, vigorous in colouring, and approaches the manner of Andrea. In the second the drawing is good, but the colouring somewhat languid; and this style became the model for Bronzino and the artists of the succeeding epoch. The third is a close imitation of Albert Durer, not only in the composition but in the heads and draperies;[Pg 205] a manner certainly unworthy of so promising an outset. It is difficult to find specimens of Pontormo in this style, except some histories of the Passion, which he servilely copied from the prints of Albert Durer, for the cloister of that monastery, where he trifled away several years. We might perhaps notice a fourth manner, if the Deluge and Last Judgment, on which he spent eleven years at S. Lorenzo, had still existed: but this his last performance, with the tacit consent of every artist, was whitewashed. Here he attempted to imitate Michelangiolo, and like him to afford a model of the anatomical style, which at this time began to be extolled at Florence above every other: but he taught us a different lesson, and only succeeded in demonstrating that an old man ought not to become the votary of fashion.

Andrea pursued the custom of Raffaello and other artists of that age, in conducting his works with the assistance of painters experienced in his style, whether they were friends or scholars; a remark not useless to those who may trace in his pictures the labours of another pencil. It is known that he gave Pontormo some pieces to finish, and that he retained one Jacone, and a Domenico Puligo; two individuals who possessed a natural turn for painting, ready and willing to try every species of imitation, and more desirous of recreation than of fame. The façade of the Buondelmonte Palace, at S. Trinità, by the former, was highly extolled. It was in chiaroscuro; the drawing, in[Pg 206] which department he excelled, was very beautiful, and the whole conducted in the manner of Andrea. He also executed some oil pictures at Cortona, which are much commended by Vasari. Domenico Puligo was less skilled in design than in colouring: his tints were sweet, harmonious, and clear, but he apparently aimed at covering the outline, to relieve him from the necessity of perfect accuracy. By this mark he is sometimes recognized in Madonnas and in cabinet pictures, (his usual occupation) which having been perhaps designed by Andrea, at first sight pass for the work of that master. Domenico Conti was likewise very intimate with Andrea, was his scholar and the heir to his drawings; and that great artist was honoured with a tomb and epitaph designed by Conti, in the vicinity of his own immortal works in the Nunziata. Excepting this circumstance, Vasari notices nothing praiseworthy in Conti, and therefore I shall take no more notice of him. He gives a more favourable opinion of Pierfrancesco di Jacopo di Sandro, on account of his three pictures in the church of S. Spirito. He makes honourable mention of two other artists, who lived long in France, viz. Nannoccio and Andrea Squazzella, who always retained a similarity to the style of Andrea del Sarto. It is not our present business to notice those who abandoned it; for in this work it is my wish to keep sight rather of the different styles than of the masters.

The fine copies that so often pass for originals,[Pg 207] in Florence and other places, are chiefly the work of the above mentioned artists; nor does it seem credible that Andrea copied so closely his own inventions, and reduced them with his own hand from the great scale to small dimensions. I have seen one of his Holy Families, in which S. Elizabeth appears, in ten or twelve collections; and other pictures in three or four private houses. I found the S. Lorenzo surrounded by other saints, at the Pitti Palace, in the Albani gallery; the Visitation, in the Giustiniani palace; the Birth of our Lady, in the convent of the Servi, in the possession of Sig. Pirri, at Rome: all these are beautiful little pictures, all on small panels, all of the old school, and all believed the work of Andrea. It seems to me not improbable that the best of these were at least painted in his studio, and retouched by him, a practice adopted by Tiziano, and even by Raffaello.

Rosso, who contended in the cloisters of the Nunziata, with the best masters, and who appears in his Assumption to have aimed at a work not so much superior in beauty as in size to the productions of the other artists, is among the greatest painters of his school. Endowed with a creative fancy, he disdained to follow any of his countrymen or strangers; and indeed one recognizes much originality in his style: his heads are more spirited, his head dresses and ornaments are more tasteful, his colouring more lively, his distribution of light and shade broader, and his pencilling more firm and [Pg 208]free, than had been hitherto seen in Florence. He appears in short to have introduced into that school a peculiar spirit, that would have been unexceptionable, had it not been mingled with something of extravagance. Thus, in the Transfiguration at Città di Castello, instead of the Apostles he introduced a band of gypsies at the bottom of the picture. His picture in the Pitti palace, however, is far removed from any such fault. It exhibits various saints, grouped in so excellent a manner, that the chiaroscuro of one figure contributes to the relief of another; and it has such beautiful contrasts of colour and of light, such energy of drawing and of attitude, that it arrests attention by its originality. He likewise painted for the State: an unfinished Descent from the Cross may be seen in the oratory of S. Carlo, in Volterra; and another in the church of S. Chiara at Città S. Sepolcro; in the cathedral of which there are many old pictures. Its great merit consists in the principal group, and that twilight, or almost nocturnal tint, that gives a tone to the whole piece, sombre, true, and worthy of any Flemish artist. The works of this painter are very scarce in Italy; for he went to France into the employment of Francis I. during his best time, and superintended the ornamental painting and plaster work then going on at Fontainebleau. Whilst engaged in this work, he unhappily put an end to his existence by poison; and in the enlargement of the building many of his works were defaced by Primaticcio, who was a[Pg 209] rival, but not a follower, as is pretended by Cellini.[171] Thirteen pictures, dedicated to the fame and actions of Francis I. have escaped, and are described by Abbé Guget, in his Memoir on the Royal Academy of France.[172] Among these is the remarkable one of Ignorance Banished by that monarch; a picture that has been three different times engraved. He was assisted in those works by several artists, amongst whom were three Florentine painters, Domenico del Barbieri, Bartolommeo Miniati, and Luca Penni, the brother of that Gianfrancesco, called Il Fattore in the school of Raffaello.

Ridolfo di Domenico Ghirlandaio lost his father in his infancy; but was so well initiated in the art, first by his paternal uncle Davide, and afterwards by Frate, that when Raffaello d'Urbino came to Florence, he became his admirer and his friend. On his departure from that city he left with him a Madonna, intended for Siena, that it might be completed by him; and having soon after gone to Rome, he invited him to assist in the decorations of the Vatican. Ridolfo declined this, unfortunately for his own name, which might thus have[Pg 210] rivalled that of Giulio Romano. He undoubtedly possessed a facility, elegance, and vivacity of manner, to enable him to follow closely the style of his friend. That he was ambitious of imitating him, may be inferred from the pictures in his early manner, preserved in the church of S. Jacopo di Ripoli, and S. Girolamo, that bear some resemblance to the manner of Perugino, like the early productions of Raffaello. His taste is displayed to more advantage in two pictures, filled with many moderate sized figures, which were transferred from the Academy of Design to the Royal Gallery. They represent two stories of S. Zenobi, and perhaps approach nearer to the two pictures by Pinturicchio, in the cathedral of Siena, that were painted under the direction, and partly by the assistance of Raffaello, than to any other model; with this exception, that they retain more traces of the old school. We may remark, in the pictures of Ridolfo, some figures strikingly like those of Raffaello; and in the whole there appears a composition, an expression, and skill in improving nature to the standard of ideal beauty, apparently proceeding from principles conformable to the maxims of that great master. That he did not afterwards perfect them, is to be attributed to his not having seen the best productions of his friend, and to his study of the art having been retarded by his commercial pursuits.

On modernizing his manner, and by this means obtaining reputation, he aimed at nothing further; [Pg 211]and continued to study painting rather as an amusement, than as a profession. He assembled round him artists of every description, and disdained not to impart advice to painters of ensigns, of furniture, or of scenes; still less to those who executed pictures for cabinets or churches. Many such who flourished about the middle of the sixteenth century, are mentioned in history either as his pupils, or his companions. The following is a brief catalogue of them. Michele di Ridolfo assumed his name; because, on passing from the schools of Credi and Sogliani into that of Ridolfo, he was treated not so much as a companion as a son, till the death of Ghirlandaio. They painted many pictures conjointly, which always pass under their name; and of this number is the S. Anne of Città di Castello; an exquisite picture, both for elegance of design, and a peculiar fulness of colouring. Michele was particularly eminent in this department, which he diligently studied in his own works, and employed in his fresco pictures over several of the gates of the city; and he was selected by Vasari as the companion of his labours. Mariano da Pescia must have been much esteemed by Ridolfo; for when this master painted the frescos in the State Chapel of the Old Palace, a work which gained him high honour, he wished the smaller pieces to be painted by Mariano. There is a Holy Family in that place, in a firm but agreeable style: it is the only remaining production of this artist, who died young. He was of the Gratiadei [Pg 212]family; a piece of information for which, with various others, I am indebted to the politeness of his fellow citizen Sig. Innocenzio Ansaldi, an able writer, both in poetry and prose, in whatever relates to the art. Carlo Portelli da Loro in Valdarno, proceeded from the same school. He painted much in the City, and sometimes with little harmony: yet the testimony of Vasari, and the picture of S. Romulus, which remains at the Santa, demonstrate his ability as an artist. Of Antonio del Ceraiuolo, little remains to commemorate the painter but the name. Mirabello da Salincorno, who was employed on the funeral obsequies of Bonarruoti, devoted himself to cabinet pictures; and an Annunciation, with his name, and the date of 1565, is said to be in the hands of the Baldovinetti family. It would be tiresome to follow Vasari, who, in several passages of his history, mentions artists now sunk into oblivion, that might have found a place here. I close the list with two illustrious names, Perino del Vaga, already noticed, but afterwards to be more frequently mentioned; and Toto del Nunziata, reckoned by the English the best of the Italian artists, who, in that century visited their island; though almost unknown among us.[173] [Pg 213]He was the son of an obscure artist, but obtained celebrity; and Perino himself had not a more formidable rival in the school of Ridolfo.

This glorious epoch was not deficient in good landscape painters; although the art of landscape painting without figures was not yet in great repute. Vasari highly praises in this line one Antonio di Donnino Mazzieri, a scholar of Franciabigio, a bold designer, and a man of great invention in representing horses, and in landscape.

The grotesque came into fashion through the efforts of Morto da Feltro, and Giovanni da Udine. Both artists were settled at Florence, and there painted; especially the second, who decorated the palace of the Medicean family, and the chapel in the church of S. Lorenzo. Andrea, called di Cosimo, because he was the scholar of Rosselli, learnt this art from Morto,[174] and he obtained the surname [Pg 214]of Feltrini, or perhaps Feltrino, from his best known master. He exercised the invention not only on walls but on furniture, on banners and festive decorations: abounding in fancy, he was the leader of a taste originating with him, and much imitated in Florence. His ornaments were more copious and rich than those of the ancients; were united in a different manner, and his figures were admirably adapted to them. Mariotto and Raffaello Mettidoro were his associates; but no artist was more employed than he in designing foliage for brocades on cloth, or in ornamental painting. Pier di Cosimo, and Bachiacca, or Bachicca, were very eminent in the grotesque; of whom, with others who began the study about the end of the first Epoch, I have already treated, among the old masters: but none of them modernized more than the latter, who was usually employed on small subjects, particularly on the furniture of private houses, and on small pictures, many of which were sent to England. About the time of his decease he was employed by the Duke Cosmo. He drew most elegant small historical designs for tapestry and beds, which were executed by his brother Antonio, an embroiderer whom Varchi commends; [Pg 215]and by Gio. Rossi, and Niccolo Fiamminghi, who introduced the art of tapestry weaving into Florence.[175] His best work was a cabinet, which he ornamented divinely, says Vasari, with flowers and birds in oil colours.

Perspective was not cultivated in Italy during the 15th century, except so far as subservient to historical painting, and in this department the Venetian and Lombard masters were no less eminent than those of Florence or of Rome. After this period, artists began to represent arches, colonnades, porticos, and every other kind of architecture, in pictures appropriated to such subjects, to the great ornament of the theatres, and of religious and convivial festivities. One of the first who devoted himself to this study was Bastiano di Sangallo, the nephew of Giuliano, and of Antonio, and the brother of another Antonio, all of whom were eminent in architecture. He got the surname of Aristotile, from his disquisitions on anatomy, or on perspective, accompanied by a certain philosophic authority and ingenuity. He acquired the principles of his art from Pietro Perugino, but he soon abandoned his school, to adopt a more modern style. He exercised himself for several years in painting figures; he copied some subjects after his friends Michelangiolo and Raffaello; and aided by the advice [Pg 216]of Andrea and Ridolfo, he produced not a few Madonnas and other pictures of his own composition: but not possessing invention in an eminent degree he latterly dedicated his attention wholly to perspective, in which he was initiated by Bramante; and exercised it during this epoch, when Florence abounded with grand funeral obsequies, and public festivities. Of these, the most memorable were those instituted on the election of Leo X. in 1513, and on his visit to Florence in 1515. He had in his train Michelangiolo, Raffaello, and other professors of the art, to deliberate concerning the façade of the church of S. Lorenzo, and other works which he meditated. His court added pomp to every spectacle; and Florence became, as it were, a new city. Arches were erected in the streets by Granacci and Rosso; temples or new façades were designed by Antonio da San Gallo, and Jacopo Sansovino; chiaroscuros were prepared by Andrea del Sarto; grotesques by Feltrino; basso-relievos, statues, and colossal figures, by Sansovino above mentioned, by Rustici, and Bandinelli; Ghirlandaio, Pontormo, Franciabigio, and Ubertini, adorned with exquisite taste the residence of the pontiff. I say nothing of the meaner artists, although in another age even these would not have been classed with the vulgar herd, but have obtained distinction: I shall content myself with observing that this emulation of genius, this display of the fine arts, in short this auspicious period, sufficed to confer on Florence the lasting appellation of another [Pg 217]Athens; on Leo the name of another Pericles or Augustus.

Spectacles of this sort became afterwards more common to the citizens; for the Medici, on commencing their domination over a people whom they feared, affected popularity, like the Roman Cæsars, by promoting public hilarity. Hence, not only on extraordinary occasions, such as the elevation of Clement VII. to the papal chair, of Alexander, and of Cosmo to the chief magistracy of their country, on the marriage of the latter, on that of Giuliano and of Lorenzo de' Medici, and on the arrival of Charles V.; not only on such occasions, but frequently at other times, they instituted tournaments, masquerades, and representations, of which the decorations were magnificent, such as cars, robes, and scenery. In this improved state of every thing conducive to exquisite embellishment, industry became excited, and the number of painters and ornamental artists increased. Aristotile, to return to him, was always much employed; his perspectives were in great request in public places; his scenes in the theatre: the populace, unaccustomed to those ocular deceptions, were astonished; and it seemed to them as if they could ascend the steps, enter the edifices, and approach the balconies and windows in the pictures. The long life of Aristotile, coeval with the best epoch of painting, permitted him to serve the ruling family and his country, until his old age, when Salviati and Bronzino began to be preferred to him. He died in 1551.

While the city of Florence acquired so much [Pg 218]glory by the genius of her artists, the other parts of the state afforded materials for future history, chiefly through the assistance of the Roman school. This happened more especially after 1527, when the sack of Rome dispersed the school of Raffaello and its young branches. Giulio Romano trained Benedetto Pagni at Pescia, who ought to be noticed among the assistants of his master at Mantua. If we credit some late writers, his native place possesses many of his works: but I acquiesce in the opinion of Sig. Ansaldi, in refusing to admit any of them as genuine, except the façade of the habitation of the Pagni family, now injured by time, and the picture of the Marriage of Cana in the Collegiate church, which is not his best production. Pistoia is indebted to Gio. Francesco Penni, or perhaps to Fattore, for a respectable scholar: this was Lionardo, an artist much employed in Naples and in Rome, where he was named Il Pistoia. I find him surnamed Malatesta by some, Guelfo by others; but I suspect that his true family name is to be collected from an inscription on an Annunciation in the little chapel of the canons of Lucca, which runs thus, Leonardus Gratia Pistoriensis. I am indebted to Sig. T. F. Bernardi above mentioned for this fact: and the picture is worthy of a descendant of Raffaello. I do not know that there is a single trace of Lionardo remaining in his native place: at the village of Guidi, in the diocese of Pistoia, one of his pictures is to be seen in the church of S. Peter, where the titular, and three other saints, stand around the[Pg 219] throne of the Virgin.[176] Sebastiano Vini came from Verona, in I know not what year of the 16th century, and was enrolled among the citizens of Pistoia. His reputation and his pictures did honour to the country that adopted him. He left many works both in oil and fresco; but his most extraordinary production was in the suppressed church of S. Desiderio. The façade over the great altar was storied with the crucifixion of the ten thousand martyrs, a work abounding in figures and invention. I have noticed the younger Zacchia of Lucca, who belongs to this epoch, in the preceding one, that I might not separate the father and the son. I am unable to find any other artists sufficiently worthy of record in this district of Tuscany.

On the opposite side of it we may turn our eyes to Cortona, and notice two good artists. The one was Francesco Signorelli, the nephew of Luca, who, though unnoticed by Vasari, shows himself[Pg 220] a painter worthy of praise, by a circular picture of the patron saints of the city, which was executed for the council hall, in 1320; after which period he lived at least forty years. The other was Tommaso Paparello, or Papacello, both which names are given him by Vasari, when writing of his two masters, Caporali and Giulio Romano. He assisted them both, but I can discover no trace of any work wholly his own.

Borgo, afterwards named Città San Sepolcro, could then boast its Raffaello, commonly called Raffaellino dal Colle, born at a small place a few miles from Borgo. He is reckoned among the disciples of Raffaello; but rather belongs to the school of Giulio, whose pupil, dependant, or assistant in his labours at Rome, and in the Te at Mantua, he is considered by Vasari. It is singular that he did not write a separate life of this artist; but assigns him scanty praise in a few scattered anecdotes. His merit is but little known to the public, as he painted for the most part in his native place, or the neighbouring cities; and I am able to add to the catalogue of his pictures from having seen them. He has two pictures at Città San Sepolcro, his only works specified by Vasari. One represents the resurrection of our Saviour, who, full of majesty, regards the soldiers around the sepulchre with an air of displeasure, which fills them with terror. This very spirited picture is in the Church of S. Rocco, and is repeated in the cathedral. The other, which is in the Osservanti of S. Francis, represents[Pg 221] the Assumption of the Virgin; a piece agreeable both in colouring and design, but its value is diminished by a figure I am unable to explain, drawn at one side of it by another hand. The same subject is treated in the church of the Conventual friars, at Città di Castello, where great beauty is joined to the highest possible finish, but it loses something of its effect by standing opposite to a fine picture by Vasari, which throws it strongly into the shade. An entombing of Christ by Raffaellino, is in the Servi; a very beautiful picture, but the colouring is less firm; and there is another of his works at S. Angelo with S. Michael, and S. Sebastian, who humbly presents an arrow, a type of his martyrdom, to the infant Jesus and the Virgin. In this the composition is simple but graceful in every part. A picture of our Lady, with S. Sebastian, S. Rocco, and a canonized bishop, painted in a similar style, is to be seen in the church of S. Francis of Cagli; in it the figures and the landscape much resemble the manner of Raffaello. His Apostles in the sacristy of the cathedral of Urbino are noble figures, draped in a grand style, in small oblong pictures, firmly coloured. The Olivet monks of Gubbio have in one of their chapels a Nativity by Raffaellino, and two pieces from the history of S. Benedict, painted in fresco, in which he was, I believe, assisted by his scholars. The former is certainly superior to the two last, although he has introduced in them real portraits, finely conceived architecture, and added a figure of Virtue in the[Pg 222] upper part, that seems a sister of the Sybils of Raffaello. He also painted, in the castle of Perugia, and in the Imperiale of Pesaro, a villa of the duke of Urbino, to whom he afforded more satisfaction than the two Dossi. After having assisted Raffaello and Giulio, he disdained not to paint after the designs of less eminent artists. On the arrival of Charles V. at Florence, in 1536, he assisted Vasari, who was one of the decorators; and he painted cartoons after the designs of Bronzino, for the tapestry of Cosmo I.; after which period I do not find him mentioned. Another instance of his diffidence is the following: on the arrival of Rosso at San Sepolcro, Raffaellino, out of respect to that artist, gave up to him an order for a picture which he was to have executed; a rare instance among painters, who are in the habit of using kindly those artists only, who come merely to see a city, and immediately leave it. He kept a school at San Sepolcro, whence proceeded Gherardi, Vecchi, and other artists, some of whom, perhaps, surpassed him in genius; but they did not equal him in grace, nor in high finish.

About this time many artists flourished in Arezzo, but of these two only are praised by Vasari, who is not sparing in his commendations of the Florentines, as I have remarked, but deals them scantily to his own townsmen. Giovanni Antonio, the son of Matteo Lappoli, was the scholar of Pontormo, and the friend of Perino and of Rosso, with whom he lived in Tuscany, and whose style he emulated [Pg 223]in Rome. He was more employed in painting for private houses than for churches. Guglielmo, surnamed Da Marcilla, by Vasari, a foreigner by birth, became a citizen of Arezzo from inclination and long residence; he was dear to the citizens, who afforded him the means of enjoying life, and grateful to the city, where he left most beautiful monuments of his genius. He had been a Dominican in his own country; he became a secular priest on arriving in Italy, and at Arezzo he was called the Prior. He was an excellent painter on glass, and on this account, was brought to Rome by one Claude, a Frenchman, to execute windows for Julius II.; but he also employed himself in fresco. He studied design in Italy, and so improved in that art, that his works at Rome seem designs of the fourteenth century, while the Aretine ones appear the work of a modern. He painted some ceilings and arches in the cathedral, with scriptural subjects in fresco. In design he followed Michelangiolo, as nearly as he could; but his colouring was not firm. His paintings on glass are quite in a different style; there, to very good drawing, and uncommon expression, he joined tints that partake of the emerald, the ruby, and of oriental sapphire, and which, when illuminated by the sun, exhibit all the brilliance of the rainbow. In Arezzo, there are so many windows of this glass at the cathedral, at S. Francis, and at many other churches, that they might excite the envy of much larger cities. They are so finely wrought [Pg 224]with subjects from the New Testament, and other scriptural histories, that they seem to have reached the perfection of the art. The Vocation of S. Matthew, in a window of the cathedral, is highly praised by Vasari; it exhibits "perspectives of temples and flights of steps, figures so finely composed, landscapes so well executed, that one can hardly imagine they were glass, but something sent down from Heaven for the delight of mankind."

This place and period remind me, that before I pass on to another epoch, I ought to say a few words concerning the invention of painting on glass, which was anciently likewise styled Mosaic, because it was composed of pieces of different coloured glass, connected by lead, which represented the shadows. We may observe glass windows that emulate well composed pictures on canvass or on panel; and this art is treated of by Vasari in the thirty-second chapter of the introduction to his work. From the preface to the treatise De omni scientiâ artis pingendi, by Theophilus the Monk, I find that France was celebrated for this art beyond any other country;[177] and there the art seems to have been invariably cultivated, and brought by degrees to perfection. From the earliest ages of the revival of painting, the Italians wrought windows with different coloured glasses, as is remarked [Pg 225]by P. Angeli in his description of the churches of Assisi, where the most ancient specimens are to be seen. In the church likewise of the Franciscan friars at Venice, we find that one Frater Theotonius, a German, worked in tapestry and glass windows, and was imitated by one Marco, a painter, who lived in the year 1335.[178] It may also be observed, that such windows over the altars supplied the place of sacred paintings in churches; Christian congregations, in lifting up their eyes, there sought the resemblance of what "they hoped some time to behold in the celestial paradise: che ancor lassù nel ciel vedere spera," and they often addressed their supplications to those images. In the fifteenth century Lorenzo Ghiberti, a man eminent in various arts, still further improved this, and ornamented the oval windows of the façade of the church of S. Francis, and of the cathedral of Florence with coloured glass. In a similar manner he finished all the oval apertures in the cupola of the cathedral, except that of the Assumption, executed by Donatello. The glass was manufactured at Florence, for which purpose one Domenico Livi, a native of Gambassi, in the principality of Volterra, who had learnt and practised the art at Lubec, was[Pg 226] invited to that place, as is proved by Baldinucci in his correction of Vasari.[179] From this school apparently came Goro, and Bernardo di Francesco, with that train of Ingesuati, whose workmanship, exhibited at S. Lorenzo and elsewhere, has been much commended by the Florentine historians. (See Moreni, part vi. p. 41.) This art afterwards flourished at Arezzo, where it was introduced by Parri Spinelli, a scholar of Ghiberti. About the same time flourished in Perugia P. D. Francesco, a monk of Cassino, not merely a painter in glass, but a master in that city; and some conjecture that Vannucci profited by his school, though a comparison of dates does not much favour such a supposition. This art also flourished in Venice, about 1473, where one window was executed after the design of Bartolommeo Vivarini, in the church of S. John and S. Paul, and another was erected at Murano; but the art of painting glass could not be unknown at this last place, where it originated.

It is true, that in process of time the Florentine and Venetian glass appeared to be not sufficiently transparent for such purposes; and that a preference was given to that of France and of England, the clearness and transparency of which was better adapted for receiving the colours, without too much obscuring the light. It had this other advantage, that the colours were burnt in the glass, in the manner described by Vasari, instead of being laid on with [Pg 227]gums or other vehicles; hence they had greater brilliancy, and were more capable of resisting the injuries of time. This was a Flemish, or rather a French invention, and the Italians unquestionably received it from France. Bramante invited from that country the two artists above mentioned, who, besides the windows of the Vatican palace, that were wrought with colours burnt into the glass, and destroyed in the sack of Rome, in the time of Clement VII. ornamented two in the church of S. Maria del Popolo, with those scriptural histories that yet remain perfectly brilliant in colour, after the lapse of three centuries. Soon after this Claude died at Rome. William survived him many years, and from that time continued to reside in Arezzo. He there was engaged in the service of the capital, where one of his painted glass windows is preserved in the Capponi chapel, at the church of S. Felicità; and he taught the art to Pastorino of Siena, who exercised it very skilfully in the state saloon of the Vatican, after the designs of Vaga, and in the cathedral of Siena. This artist is reckoned the best scholar of his master. Maso Porro, Michelagnolo Urbani, both natives of Cortona, and Batista Borro of Arezzo, were trained in the same school, and were afterwards employed in Tuscany and elsewhere. In ornamenting the old palace, Vasari availed himself of the assistance of two Flemish artists, Walter and George, who wrought after his designs. Celebrated equal to any artist is Valerio Profondavalle of Louvain, [Pg 228]who settled at Milan after the middle of the sixteenth century, a man of fertile invention, and a pleasing colourist in fresco painting, but chiefly eminent in painting on glass, as we are informed by Lomazzo. Orlandi celebrates Gerardo Ornerio Frisio, and his windows executed about 1575, in the church of S. Peter at Bologna. This art afterwards declined, when custom, the arbiter of arts, by excluding it from palaces and churches, caused it gradually to be forgotten.

Another method of painting on glass, or rather on crystal, was much in fashion in the last century, and was employed for ornamenting mirrors, caskets, and other furniture of the chambers of the great. Maratta and his contemporaries on crystal for such works in the same style that they employed in painting on canvass; and above all Giordano, who taught it to several pupils. Among these, the best was Carlo Garofalo, who was invited to the court of Charles II. of Spain, to practise this species of painting,[180] the era of which does not embrace a great number of years.

[128] Although Vasari, Borghini, and Baldinucci, have also treated of other schools, they have chiefly illustrated that of Florence, with which they were best acquainted. To them succeeded the respectable authors of the Florentine Museum, and of the Series of the most celebrated Painters, containing choice anecdotes of those masters, which are now republished, and accompanied by a print from the work of each painter, in the Etruria Pittrice of the learned Sig. Ab. Lastri. Other anecdotes are to be found in the work of P. Richa On the Churches of Florence, and in Sig. Cambiagi's Guide to that City. Pisa too, has its Guide by the Cav. Titi; to which has succeeded the much larger work of Sig. da Morrona, above noticed. Siena has one by Sig. Pecci, Volterra another by Ab. Giachi, and Pescia and Valdinievole by the Ab. Ansaldi. Sig. Francesco Bernardi, an excellent connoisseur in the fine arts, prepared a guide to Lucca after Marchiò; it remains inedited since his death, together with his anecdotes of the painters, sculptors, and architects of his native country. Meanwhile the Diario of Mons. Mansi affords considerable information.

[129] Condivi promised to publish them, but this was never performed. See Bottari's notes on the life of Michelangiolo, p. 152, in Florent. edit. 1772.

[130] See the fine eulogy on him by Sig. Durazzini, among his Panegyrics on illustrious Tuscans, where he corrects Vasari, his annotators and others, who have fixed the birth of Lionardo before this year. Tom. iii. n. 25.

[131] See Sig. Piacenza, in his edition of Baldinucci, t. ii. p. 252. He has dedicated a long appendix to Vinci, in which he has collected all the anecdotes scattered through Vasari, Lomazzo, Borghini, Mariette, and other modern authors.

[132] "Leonardo seems to have trembled whenever he sat down to paint, and therefore never finished any of the pictures he began; for by meditation on the perfection of art, he perceived faults in what to others appeared admirable." Lomazzo, Idea del Tempio della pittura, page 114.

[133] Both have perished, after serving as models to the best painters of that age, and even to Andrea del Sarto. See what has been written by Vasari, and by M. Mariette, in the long letter concerning Vinci, which is inserted in tom. ii. of Lett. Pittoriche.

[134] It was on account of the same procrastinating disposition that Leo X. withdrew the patronage he had conferred on him, and which he was accustomed to bestow upon all men of genius.

[135] Vasari.

[136] Vasari, who published a life of him in 1550, and enlarged it in another edition; and Ascanio Condivi da Ripatransone, who printed one in 1553, ten years before the death of Bonarruoti.

[137] He was very partial to this poet; whose flights of fancy he embodied in pen-drawings in a book, which, unfortunately for the art, has perished; and to whose memory he wished to sculpture a magnificent monument, as appears from a petition to Leo X. In it the Medicean Academy requests the bones of the divine poet; and among the subscribers we read the name of Michelangiolo, and also his offer. Gori Illustraz. alla vita del Condivi, p. 112.

[138] He projected a tract on "All the movements of the human body, on its external appearances, and on the bones, with an ingenious theory, the fruit of his long study." Condivi, p. 117.

[139] "Zeuxis plus membris corporis dedit, id amplius et augustius ratus; atque ut existimant Homerum secutus, cui validissima quæque forma etiam in fœminis placet." Inst. Orat. lib. xii. c. 10.

[140] None however of these great men presumed to despise Michelangiolo so much, as to compare the picture of Christ, in the Minerva, to an executioner; like the author of the Arte di Vedere. Mengs, whom he rather flatters than follows, would have disdained to use this and similar expressions; but it is the office of adulators not merely to approve the opinion of the object flattered, but greatly to exaggerate it. Juvenal, with his peculiar penetration into the vices of mankind, thus describes one of the race. (See Satire iii. v. 100.)

——"rides? majore cachinno Concutitur; flet si lacrymam conspexit amici, Nee dolet: igniculum brumæ si tempore poscas Accipit endromidem; si dixeris: æstuo, sudat."

[141] Bottari confesses "that he shews somewhat of mannerism, but concealed with such skill that it is not perceptible;" an art which very few of his imitators possess.

[142] See Winckelmann in his "Gems of Baron Stochs," where he records and comments upon the text of the historian, p. 316.


"Duo Dossi e quel che a par sculpe e colora Michel più che mortal Angiol divino." Orl. Fur. Cant. xxxiii. 2.

[144] Raffaello came to Florence towards the end of 1504. (Lett. Pitt. tom. i. p. 2.) In this year Michelangiolo was called to Rome, and left his cartoon imperfect. Having afterwards fled from Rome, through dread of Julius II., he completed it in three months, in the year 1506. Compare the Brief of Julius, in which he recals Michelangiolo (Lett. Pitt. tom. iii. p. 320), with the relation of Vasari (tom. vi. Ed. Fiorent. p. 191). During the time that Michelangiolo laboured at this work, "he was unwilling to shew it to any person (p. 182); and when it was finished it was carried to the hall of the Pope," and was there studied (p. 184). Raffaello had then returned to Florence, and this work might open the way to his new style, which, as a learned Englishman expresses it, is intermediate between that of Michelangiolo and of Perugino.

[145] He chose the companions of those who had painted in the Sistine, Jacopo di Sandro (Botticelli), Agnolo di Donnino, a great friend of Rosselli, and the elder Indaco, a pupil of Ghirlandaio, who were but feeble artists. Bugiardini, Gianacci and Aristotile di S. Gallo, of whom we shall take further notice in the proper place, were there also.

[146] Varchio, in his Funeral Oration, p. 15.

[147] Idea del Tempio della Pittura, p. 47. Ed. Bologn.

[148] Tom. vi. p. 398.

[149] See Entretiens sur les Vies et sur les Ouvrages des plus excellens Peintres, tom. i. p. 502.

[150] See pp. 245, 253.

[151] Lett. Pitt. tom. iii. lett. 227. Rosa, Sat. iii. p. 85.

[152] Salvator Rosa in his third satire, p. 84, narrates the rebuke which the Prelate gave Michelangiolo for his indecency in painting the Saints themselves without garments.

[153] Microscosmo, p. 6.

[154] Tom. ii. p. 254.

[155] He is also blamed for this part of the perspective by others. (See P. M. della Valle in the "Prosa recitata in Arcadia," 1784, p. 260, of the Giorn. Pis. tom, liii.)

[156] Malv. tom. ii. p. 254.

[157] Vite de' Pittori, &c. p. 44.

[158] Dialogo sopra la Pittura.

[159] Idea del Tempio della Pittura, p. 41.

[160] Conca, Descriz. Odeporica della Spagna, tom. i. page 24.

[161] The ignorant believe that Michelangiolo "nailed a man to a cross and left him there to expire, in order to paint from the life a figure of our Saviour on the cross." See Dati, in his notes of the Life of Parrhasius, who is said to have committed a similar homicide. This story of the latter is probably a fable, and undoubtedly it is so of Michelangiolo. The crucifixions of this artist are often repeated, sometimes with a single figure, sometimes with our Lady and S. John; at other times with two Angels, who collect the blood. Bottari mentions several of these pictures in different galleries. To these we may add the picture of the Caprara palace, and those in the possession of Monsignor Bonfigliuoli and of Sigg. Biancani in Bologna. Sig. Co. Chiappini of Piacenza has a very good one, and there is another in the church of the college of Ravenna.

[162] A name given by the Italians to pictures of a dead Christ on the knees of his mother.

[163] Bottari, in his Notes to the Letter of Preziado, doubts whether this supposed scholar of Michelangiolo be Galeazzo Alessi, remarking at the same time that this last was rather an architect than a painter. I am inclined to think that the Matteo in question may have been the foregoing Matteo da Lecce, or da Leccio, and that owing to one of those errors, which Clerche in his "Arte Critica," calls ex auditu, his name in Spain became D'Alessi, or D'Alessio, the letters c and s in many countries being made use of reciprocally. Besides, this Leccese, of whom we write in the fourth volume, flourished in the time of Vargas, went to Spain, affected the style of Michelangiolo, and never settled himself in any place from his desire of seeing the world. Memoirs of him appear to have been collected in Spain, by Pacheco, who lived in 1635 (Conca, iii. 252), who in his account, at this distance of time, must have been guided by vulgar report; a bad authority for names, particularly those of foreigners, as was noticed in the Preface. That he should further be called Roman instead of Italian, in a foreign country, and that he should there adopt the name of Perez, not having assumed any surname in Rome, can scarcely appear strange to the reader, and the more so as he is described as an adventurer—a species of persons who subsist upon tricks and frauds.

[164] Sebastiano painted it again for the Osservanti of Viterbo; and there is a similar one described in the Carthusian Monastery, at Naples, which is painted in oil, and is supposed to be the work of Bonarruoti.

[165] Limbo, among theologians of the Roman Church, is the place where the souls of just men, who died before the coming of our Saviour, and of unbaptized children, are supposed to reside.

[166] This noble fresco was ruined during the revolutionary tumults at Rome.—Tr.

[167] That Raffaello was at this time well versed in perspective it is unreasonable to doubt, as Bottari has done: he proceeded from the school of Perugino, who was very eminent in that science; and he left a good specimen at Siena, where he remained some time before he came to Florence.

[168] Vol. iii. p. 126.

[169] This is conspicuous in a S. Raffaello with Tobias, which was transferred from the royal gallery of Florence to the imperial gallery of Vienna.—See Rosa Scuola Italiana, p. 141.

[170] Plin. Hist. Nat. lib. xxxv. cap 10.

[171] "Any excellence he possessed was stolen from the admirable manner of our Florentine painter, Rosso; a man truly of wonderful genius." Cellini, in his life, as quoted by Baldinucci, tom. v. p. 72. He who writes thus of the ablest pupil of Giulio Romano, either was unacquainted with his works in Bologna, and in Mantua, executed before he knew Rosso, or blinded by party rage, was incapable of appreciating them.

[172] Page 81.

[173] About the time when Michele taught, there resided in Spain one Tommaso Fiorentino; one of whose portraits is mentioned by the Sig. Ab. Conca, (tom. i. p. 90,) belonging to the Royal Palace at Madrid. In the Ducal Palace of Alva, there are also galleries of grotesques, where we read the name of Tommaso Fiorentino, the author, to which is added (tom. ii. p. 362) "The name of this professor of the art is quite new to me; in his grotesques we meet with the exact style of the sons of Bergamasco, &c." I hardly know how the name can appear new to the Ab. Conca, when he had already mentioned it elsewhere; nor how the composition of an artist, who painted in 1521, could resemble that of others who were still young in the year 1570, in which their father died.

[174] Vasari, in his Life of Morto, says, that he came to Florence in order to improve his skill in figures, in which he was deficient, by studying the models of Vinci and of Michelangiolo. In despair, however, he returned to his grotesques. Now I shall elsewhere produce an unedited document shewing his ability in figure painting, which I should not have occasion to do if the beautiful portrait of Morto, in the Royal Gallery at Florence, was, as is conjectured, by his hand. But I am inclined to think that it is the likeness of an unknown person, who, as I have seen in other portraits, caused himself to be drawn with a finger pointing to a death's head, in order to remind him of his mortality, but in this picture the head has been capriciously interpreted as a symbol of the name of Morto, and the painting given as the portrait and work of Feltrese; of whom Vasari gives a very different one.

[175] They wrought from the designs of Pontormo, and still more those of Bronzino. They also wrought for the Duke of Ferrara after the designs of Giulio Romano, published by Gio. Battista Mantuano, among his prints.

[176] A similar composition is to be seen in an altar-piece in the cathedral of Volterra. It is inscribed, Opus Leonardi Pistoriens. an. 1516. This, however, ought not to be passed over on account of an historical doubt started by the Cavalier Tolomei, whether there flourished, at the same period, two Lionardi da Pistoja; thus insinuating they were of different families. And this would appear to be the case. The painter of the piece in Volterra was not Grazia, at Naples, probably, surnamed Guelfo; since his master Penni, if we are to believe Vasari, was in that year, 1516, still the scholar and assistant of Raffaello; nor does it seem probable that he educated a pupil of so much merit. The Leonardo, therefore, who painted in Volterra, must have been some other of more proficiency.

[177] "Hic invenies quidquid diversorum colorum generibus et mixturis habet Græcia ... quidquid in fenestrarum varietate pretiosa diligit Francia."

[178] Zanetti, Nuova Raccolta delle Monete e Zecche d'Italia, (tom. iv. p. 158). In this work we meet with a long Latin document, which makes mention of a brother of Marco, named Paolo, also a painter; qui habet in cartâ designatam mortem S. Francisci, et Virginis gloriose, sicut picte sunt ad modum theutonicum in pano (i. e. panno) ad locum minorum in Tarvisio.

[179] Tom. iii. p. 25.

[180] Bellori vite de' Pittori, &c. page 392.

[Pg 229]



The Imitators of Michelangiolo Bonarruoti.

After the time of the five great masters above mentioned, the Florentines were so rich in fine specimens of art that they had no occasion to apply to foreign schools for improvement. They had only to select the best specimens from the works of native artists; as, for instance, grandeur from Michelangiolo, grace from Andrea, and spirit from Rossi; they could learn colouring and casting of draperies from Porta, and chiaroscuro from Vinci. They appear, however, to have assiduously applied to design, but to have paid little attention to the other branches of painting. Even in that branch they imagined that every thing was to be found in Bonarruoti; and imitated him alone. Their choice was influenced by the celebrity,[181] the success, and very long life of this artist, who, [Pg 230]having survived all his eminent fellow citizens, naturally recommended to employment the followers of his maxims, and the adherents of his manner; hence it has been observed by some, that Raffaello lived too short a time for the progress of the fine arts, Michelangiolo too long. But artists ought to keep in mind the opinion, or rather prophecy of Bonarruoti—that his style would be productive of inept artists, which has invariably been the character of those who have imitated him without judgment.

Their study and constant practice has been to design from his statues: for the cartoon on which so many eminent men formed their style, had already perished; and his paintings were not to be seen in Florence but in Rome. They transferred into their compositions that statue-like rigidity, that strength of limb, and those markings of the origin and insertion of muscles, that severity of countenance, and those positions of the hands and figures, which characterized his sublimely awful style; but without comprehending the principles of this extraordinary man, without thoroughly understanding the play of the softer parts of the human figure, either by inserting them in wrong situations, or by representing, in the same manner, those in action and at rest; those of a slender stripling, and of the full-grown man. Contented with what they imagined grandeur of style, they neglected all the rest. In some of their pictures we may observe a multitude of figures arranged one above the other, with a total disregard of their [Pg 231]relative situations; features that express no passion, and half naked figures that do nothing, except pompously exhibit, like the Entellus of Virgil, magna ossa lacertosque. Instead of the beautiful azure and green formerly employed, they substituted a languid yellowish hue; the full body of colour gave place to superficial tints; and, above all, the bold relief, so much studied till the time of Andrea, went wholly into disuse.

In several passages Baldinucci confesses this decline, which, however, scarcely extended to two or three generations, and seems to have commenced about 1540. During this unfortunate era the Florentines did not degenerate as much as some other schools. The churches are full of pictures of this era, which, if they are not to be admired like those of the preceding, are, at least, respectable. Whoever sees the church of S. Croce, S. Maria Novella, and other places, where the best artists of this era painted, will undoubtedly find more to praise than to condemn. Few of them were eminent as colourists, but many in design; few were entirely free from the mannerism above noticed; many, however, by progressive improvement, at length attained gracefulness. We shall proceed to consider them, chiefly following the steps of Vincenzio Borghini, their contemporary; the author of Il Reposo, a dialogue worthy of perusal, both for the matter and the style. We shall commence with Vasari, who not only belongs to this epoch,[Pg 232] but has ever been charged with being one of the chief authors of the decline of the art.[182]

Giorgio Vasari, of Arezzo, was descended from a family attached to the fine arts; being the great grandson of Lazzaro, who was the intimate friend of Pietro della Francesca, and the imitator of his paintings; the nephew of another Giorgio, who, in modelling vases in plaster, revived the forms of the antique, in their basso-relievos, and their brilliant colours; specimens of whose art exist in the royal gallery at Florence. Michelangiolo, Andrea, and some other masters, instructed him in design; Guglielmo da Marcilla, called the Prior, and Rosso, initiated him in painting: but he chiefly studied at Rome, whither he was brought by Ippolito, Cardinal de' Medici, the person to whom he owed his success; for by his means Giorgio was introduced to this family that loaded him with riches and with honour. After having designed all the works of his first master, and of Raffaello, at Rome, and likewise much after other schools and antique marbles, he formed a style in which we may recognise traces of his studies; but his predilection for Bonarruoti is apparent. After acquiring skill in painting figures, he became one of the most excellent architects of the age; and united in himself the various branches which were known to Perino, Giulio, and their scholars, who followed the example of Raffaello. He could unaided direct the construction of a grand [Pg 233]fabric, adorn it with figures, with grotesques, with landscapes, with stuccos, with gilding, and whatever else was required to ornament it in a princely style. By this means he began to be known in Italy; and was employed as a painter in several places, and even in Rome. He was much employed in the hermitage of the Camaldules, and in several monasteries of the Olivets. In their monastery at Rimino he executed a picture of the Magi, and various frescos for the church; in that at Bologna three pieces from sacred history, with some ornaments in the refectory; but still more in that at Naples, where he not only reduced the refectory to the rules of true architecture, but splendidly adorned it with stuccos and pictures of every description. Assisted by many young men he spent a year in this work; and, as he himself says, was the first who gave an idea of the modern style to that city. Some of his pictures are to be seen in the Classe di Ravenna, in the church of S. Peter at Perugia, at Bosco, near Alessandria, in Venice, at Pisa, in Florence, and at Rome, where the largest part of them are in various places of the Vatican, and in the hall of the Chancery. These pictures are historical frescos of the life of Paul III. undertaken at the desire of Cardinal Farnese; with whom originated the idea of writing the lives of the painters, afterwards published at Florence. Brought into notice by these works, honoured by the esteem and friendship of Bonarruoti, and recommended by his multifarious abilities, [Pg 234]he was invited to the court of Cosmo I. He went there with his family in 1553; at which time the artists above alluded to were either dead or very old, and, therefore, he had little to fear from competitors. He superintended the magnificent works executed by that prince; among which it would be wrong not to distinguish the edifice for the public offices, which is esteemed among the finest in Italy; and the old palace, with its several sub-divisions, which were all painted and decorated by Vasari and his pupils for the use of government. In one part of it, each chamber bears the name of some distinguished member of the family, and represents his exploits. This is one of his best works; and here the chamber of Clement VII. is chiefly conspicuous, on the ceiling of which he represented the Pontiff in the act of crowning Charles V., and all around disposed the emblems of his virtues, his victories, and his most remarkable exploits. In this work the magnificence of the prince is rivalled by the judgment and taste of the artist. The reader may find notices of his other works, which are either in churches or in private houses, and of his temporary decorations for funerals or festivals, by consulting his life written by himself down to 1567, and the continuation of it to 1574, the year of Giorgio's decease.

It remains for us to discuss the merits of this artist, who has been praised by some and condemned by other authors that have treated of the fine arts, especially in Italy. I shall consider him[Pg 235] first as a painter, and next as a writer. Had all his works perished but some of those in the old palace, the Conception, in S. Apostolo at Florence, which Borghini commends as his finest production, the Decollation of S. John, in the church of the Baptist at Rome, which is adorned by exquisite perspective, the Feast of Ahasuerus, in the possession of the Benedictines at Arezzo, some of his portraits, which Bottari scruples not to compare with those of Giorgione, and some of his other pictures that demonstrate his ability, his reputation would have been much greater than it is. But he aimed at too much; and for the most part preferred expedition to accuracy. Hence, though a good designer, his figures are not always correct; and his painting often appears languid, from his meagre and superficial colouring.[183] The habit of careless execution is usually the companion of some maxim that may serve to excuse it to others, as well as to our own self-love: Vasari has recommended in his writings the acquirement of compendious methods,[184] and "the expedition of practice;" [Pg 236]in other words, to make use of former exercises and studies in painting. This method is highly advantageous to the artist, because it increases his profits; but is prejudicial to the art, which thus degenerates into mannerism, or, in other words, departs from nature: Vasari fell into this error in many of his works, especially in his hasty productions, or where he borrowed the hand of others; apologies which he frequently offers to the readers of his "Lives." He was principally induced, I believe, to offer such apologies for his practice, from the strictures on his paintings contained in the hall of the Chancery, which were finished in a hundred days, according to their author, in order to please the cardinal: but he ought then rather to have excused himself to Farnese, and to have requested him to employ some other artist, than to make his apology to posterity, and to intreat us to excuse his faults. He ought to have listened to the admonitions of his friends; among whom Caro did not fail to remind him of the injury his reputation might sustain by such hasty productions.[185] As he long superintended the decorations of the capital, ordered by Cosmo I. and Prince D. Francesco, and was assisted in them by many young men, Baldinucci affirms that he chiefly contributed to that dry manner which prevailed in Florence.[186]

This opinion is probably not erroneous; for the example of a painter employed by the court was [Pg 237]sufficient to seduce the rising generation from pristine diligence, to a more careless manner. After all, the Florentines who assisted him were chiefly the scholars of Bronzino, and, except two or three, they did not adopt the style of Vasari: some others also may have done so for a little time. Francesco Morandini, called Poppi, from his native place, was his disciple and imitator; and in his picture of the Conception, at S. Michelino, in the superior one of the Visitation, at S. Nicholas, and in his many other works, he appears a follower of Giorgio; except that he was more minute, and attended more to gay and cheerful composition. Giovanni Stradano Fiammingo, for ten years a dependant of Vasari, adopted his colouring, but imitated the design of Salviati; with whom and also with Daniele di Volterra he had lived in Rome. There is a Christ on the Cross, by him, at the Serviti, which is preferred to any other he painted at Florence, where he executed many designs for tapestry, and many prints. He had a fertile invention; he is praised by Vasari as highly as any other artist then in the service of the court, and is considered by Borghini among the eminent masters. Vasari after him retained Jacopo Zucchi, whose works exhibit none of the carelessness of Giorgio. He sometimes imitated him; but his style is better and more refined. He lived long at Rome, under the protection of Ferdinando, Cardinal de' Medici, in whose house, and more especially in the Rucellai palace, he painted in fresco with incredible [Pg 238]diligence. His picture of the Birth of the Baptist, in S. Giovanni Decollato, is esteemed the best in that church; and in this piece he appears more a follower of Andrea, than of any other master. He usually introduced real portraits of distinguished characters and men of letters in his compositions, and he shewed a peculiar grace in the figures of children and of young people. Baglioni praises both this artist and his brother Francesco, who was a good artist in mosaic, and an excellent painter of fruit and flowers.

In considering Giorgio as a writer, I shall not consume much time; having so frequently to notice him in the course of my work. He wrote precepts of art and lives of the painters, as is well known; and he added to them some dissertations on his own occupations,[187] and his pictures.[188] He entered on this work at the instigation of Cardinal Farnese, as well as of Monsig. Giovio; and he was encouraged in it by Caro, Molza, Tolomei, and other literary men belonging to that court. His first intention was to collect anecdotes of artists, to be extended by Giovio. They wished him to commence [Pg 239]with Cimabue; with which, perhaps, he ought not to have complied; but this circumstance diminishes the fault of Vasari in passing over the older masters in silence, and raises the glory of Cimabue far above all his contemporaries. When it was discovered that Vasari could write well,[189] and was capable of extending the anecdotes in even more appropriate language than Giovio himself, the whole task devolved on him; but in order to render the work more worthy of the public, he had the assistance afforded him of men of letters. In 1547, on finishing the book, he went to Rimino; and whilst he was employed in painting for the fraternity of Olivets, Father D. Gio. Matteo Faetani, abbot of the monastery, corrected his work and caused it to be wholly transcribed; about the end of that year it was sent to Caro for perusal. He signified his approbation of it, "as written in a fine style, and with great care;"[190] except that in some passages a less artificial style was desirable. After being corrected in this respect, it was printed in two volumes by Torrentino, at Florence, in the year 1550; in this edition he received considerable aid from Father D. Miniato Pitti, then an Olivetine friar.[191] Vasari complained that "many things were there [Pg 240]inserted he knew not how, and were altered without his knowledge or consent;"[192] but I cannot agree with Bottari,[193] that these alterations were made by Pitti or any other monk. If Vasari could not discover their author, we are much less likely to find him out; and there is some ground for believing that Vasari had offended many persons by certain invidious anecdotes, and thus endeavoured to excuse himself as well as he could. Who can believe that the many things cancelled in the second edition, which seems almost a new work, were all liberties taken by other persons, "he did not know how" and not mistakes, at least for the most part, made by himself?

In whatever way it happened, he had an opportunity of correcting his lives, of augmenting them, and again printing them, accompanied by portraits of the artists. After publication of the first edition he had availed himself of the manuscripts of Ghiberti, of Domenico Ghirlandaio, of Raffaello d'Urbino; and had himself collected a number of anecdotes in his different journeys through Italy. He undertook a new tour in 1566, to prepare for the new edition, as he informs us in the life of Benvenuto Garofolo; he again examined the works of different masters, and obtained new information from his friends, some of whom he mentions by name, when treating of the artists of Forli and Verona. He would have been still more full of [Pg 241]anecdote in his Lives, had his success corresponded with his diligence. On this account, in the beginning and at the end of the Life of Carpaccio, he laments that "he was not able to obtain every particular of many artists;" nor to possess their portraits; and he "entreats us to accept what he is able to offer, although he cannot give all he might desire." He republished his Lives in 1568, and affirmed in the Dedication to Cosmo I. that "as for himself he wished for nothing more in them." The new edition issued from the press of the Giunti; of the additions, consisting of fine observations upon philosophy and Christian morality, which cannot be ascribed to Giorgio, part was supplied by Borghini, and still more by Father D. Silvano Razzi, a Camalduline monk, as Bottari conjectures in his Preface,[194] but it does not follow[Pg 242] that they assisted in correcting the work. It is full of errors; sometimes in the grammatical construction, often in the names, and frequently in the dates; and though it was reprinted at Bologna, in 1648; at Rome, with the notes and corrections of Bottari, in 1759; in Leghorn and Florence, in 1767, with fresh notes and additions by the same; and lastly, in Siena, with those of P. della Valle; it still remains not so much a judicious selection of facts, as a mass of chronological emendations, some of which shall be noticed in the sequel.[195]

This, if I am not deceived, is the objection that can be most frequently, and almost continually urged against the work. The other strictures to be [Pg 243]met with in authors are, for the most part, exaggerations of writers, offended at Vasari for his silence or his criticisms, on the works of the artists of their country. There is nothing so flattering to the vanity of an author, as defending the character of his native place, and of those citizens who have rendered her illustrious. In whatever manner he writes, all his countrymen, who are all the world to him, think him in the right; and in the coffeehouses he frequents, in the shops of the booksellers, and in all public places, they hail him as the public advocate. Hence we need not be surprised that such an author writes as if his country had appointed him her champion, assumes a spirit of hostility, and then the transition is easy from a just defence to an injurious attack. From such causes some writers appear to me actuated by unbecoming enmity to Vasari. The passages of the first edition, cancelled in the second, have been quoted against him; he has incurred odium for some deformed portraits, as if he was accountable for the defects of nature; his most innocent expressions have been tortured into a sinister meaning; his enemies would have us believe that, intending to exalt his darling Florentines, he neglected the other Italian artists, as if, in order to do justice to these, he had not travelled and sought for information, although often in vain, as I before mentioned. The historians of all the other schools have used him as the commentators of Virgil treated Servius; all have abused him, and all [Pg 244]have availed themselves of his labours. For if all the information collected by Vasari concerning the old masters of the Venetian, Bolognese, and Lombard schools be taken away, how imperfect does their history remain? In my opinion, therefore, he deserves our best thanks for what he has done, and much forbearance for what he has omitted.

If his judgment appears less accurate on some artists of a different school, he ought not, on that account, to be taxed with malignity and envy, as is well observed by Lomazzo. He has protested that he has done his best to adhere to truth, or to what he believed to be true,[196] and it is sufficient to read him without prejudice to give him credit for such justification. He seems a man who writes as he thinks. Thus, he bestows commendations upon Baldinelli and upon Zuccaro, his enemies,[197] as well as upon his friends: he distributes censure and praise with an equal hand to Tuscan and other artists. If he discovers painters of little merit in other schools, he finds them also in that of Florence; if he relates the jealousies of foreign artists, he does not conceal those of the Florentines, of which he speaks with a playful freedom in the Life of Donatello, in his own, and more especially in that of Pietro Perugino. [Pg 245]His partial criticisms therefore on certain artists arose less from his nationality, than from other causes. It is certain that he saw but little of some masters; his opinion of others was formed upon incorrect information; and he could not attain the same certainty that we now boast, on what related to a number of artists then living, who, as usually happens, were then more censured than admired. Some allowance too should be made for his other avocations; by the multiplicity of which he doubtless wrote as he painted, with the expedition of his mode of practice. A proof of this is afforded by the repetitions that occur, as we have before observed, in successive passages, and the contradictory characters he sometimes gives of the same picture, pronouncing it good in one sentence, and in another allowing it scarcely the praise of mediocrity. This was particularly the case in regard to Razzi, towards whom he seems to have entertained ill will; arising, however, more from the bad reputation of the man than from prejudice against the school of the artist. For the incorrectness of such censures, in which he, however, was sincere, I blame his maxims of art, and the age in which he lived. He reckoned Bonarruoti the greatest painter that had ever existed;[198] and exalted him above the ancient Greeks,[199] and, from his practice, held a bold and vigorous design as the summit of perfection in painting; compared to which, beauty [Pg 246]and colouring were nothing.[200] From such fundamental principles proceeded some of his obnoxious criticisms on Bassano, Tiziano, and on Raffaello himself. But is this the effect of his malignity, or of his education? Does it not happen in philosophy as in painting, that every one gives a decided preference to those of his own sect. Has not Petrarca generalized the observation, when he asks,

——"Or che è questo Che ognun del suo saper par che si appaghi?"

We may, then, forgive in Vasari what appeared to this philosophic poet a weakness of human nature; and may observe on a few passages in his work what was applied to Tacitus; that we condemn his principles, but admire his history. Such, I believe, was the opinion of Lomazzo, who though not wholly satisfied with the opinions of Vasari, not only excused but defended him;[201] and in this he acted properly.

Vasari is, moreover, the father of the history of painting, and has transmitted to us its most precious materials. Educated in the most auspicious era of the art, he has in some measure perpetuated the influence of the golden age. In perusing his [Pg 247]Lives, I fancy myself listening to the individuals of whom he has collected the traditions and the precepts. It was thus, think I, that Raffaello and Andrea imparted these facts to their scholars; thus spoke Bonarruoti; the friends of Giorgio heard this from Vinci and Porta, and in this manner must have related it to him. I am delighted with the facts, and also with the luminous, simple, and natural manner in which they are expressed, interwoven with the technical terms that originated in Florence, and worthy of every writer whose subject is the fine arts. Finally, should I discover in him any prejudice of education, or, if you will, arising from self-love, it seems to me unjust on account of such a fault, to forget his many services, and to declare hostilities against him for such blemishes.

Another service Vasari conferred on the fine arts yet remains to be noticed, and that is the establishment of the Academy of Design in Florence, about the year 1561, principally through his exertions. The society of S. Luke there existed from the fourteenth century, but it had fallen into decay, and was almost extinct, when F. Gio. Angiolo Montorsoli Servita, a celebrated statuary, conceived the design of reviving it. He communicated his idea to Giorgio, who so effectually recommended it to Cosmo I., that, shortly after, it arose with new vigour, and became at the same time a charitable institution and an academy of the fine arts. The prince wished to be considered its head, and D. Vincenzio Borghini was appointed his [Pg 248]representative in transacting his ordinary business, which situation was afterwards filled by Cav. Gaddi, by Baccio Valori, and successively by some of the most accomplished gentlemen of the city; an arrangement maintained by the sovereigns down to the present day. The chapter house of the Nunziata, "decorated with the sculpture and pictures of the best masters" of the age, was granted to this college of artists for a hall, as we are informed by Valori.[202] Another place was assigned for their meetings, and they have frequently experienced the liberality of succeeding princes. Their rules were drawn up by the restorers of this institution, of whom Vasari was one. He wrote concerning it to Michelangiolo,[203] and asserted that every member of this academy "was indebted to him for what he knew;" and indeed this academy in all its branches partakes strongly of his style. A similar doctrine, as we have observed, already prevailed at Florence; but it would have been better that every one followed the master whom his genius pointed out. In the choice of a style nature ought to direct, not to follow; every one should make his election according to his talents. It is true that the error of the Florentines is common to other nations; and has given rise to an opinion, that academies have had a baneful influence on the arts; since they have only tended to constrain all to follow [Pg 249]the same path; and hence Italy is found fruitful in adherents to systems, but barren in true painters. To me the institution of academies has always appeared highly useful, when conducted on the plan of that of the Caracci, of which we shall treat under their school. In the mean time I return to the Florentine school.

The contemporaries of Vasari were Salviati and Jacopo del Conte, both of whom lived also with Andrea del Sarto, and Bronzino, the scholar of Pontormo. Like Giorgio, their genius led them to an imitation of Michelangiolo. Francesco de' Rossi, called Salviati, from the surname of his patron, was the fellow student of Vasari, under Andrea del Sarto and Baccio Bandinelli. The last mentioned artist was an excellent sculptor, who usually taught design to students in painting, an art which, like Verrocchio, he sometimes practised for amusement. While at Rome, Salviati, contracting an intimate friendship with Giorgio, pursued the same studies, and adopted the same fundamental principles of the art. He finally became a painter more correct, more elevated, and more spirited than his companion, and Vasari classes him among the best artists then in Rome. There he was employed in the palace of his patron, in the Farnese and Riccio palaces, in the Chancery, in the church of S. Gio. Decollato, and in various other places, where he filled extensive walls with historical frescos, an employment which was his chief delight. His invention was very fertile, his compositions [Pg 250]varied, his architecture grand; he is one of the few who have united celerity of execution with scientific design, in which he was deeply versed, although occasionally somewhat extravagant. His best production now in Florence is the battle and triumph of Furius Camillus, in the saloon of the old palace, a work full of spirit, that appears from the representations of armour, draperies, and Roman customs, conducted by an able antiquary. There is also in the church of Santa Croce, a Descent from the Cross; to him a familiar subject, which he repeated at the Panfili palace at Rome, and in the Corpus Domini at Venice; and it may be seen in some private collections, in which his Holy Families and portraits are not rare. The octagonal picture of Psyche, in the possession of the Grimani family, is highly celebrated, and Giorgio pronounces it the "finest picture in all Venice." His remark would have been less invidious, had he said it was the most scientific in design; but who can concede to him that it appeared a paragon in that city? The features of Psyche have nothing uncommon; and the whole, though well composed, and adorned with a beautiful landscape, and an elegant little temple, cannot be compared to the charming compositions of Tiziano, or of Paolo Veronese, in which we sometimes behold, as Dante would express it, "the whole creation smile." The design of Salviati was better than his colouring; and on this account he did not meet with success at Venice; on his going to France he was but little[Pg 251] employed, and is now less sought after and esteemed than Tiziano or Paolo. In ornamental arts such as poetry and painting, it would seem that mankind are more easily contented with a mediocrity in knowledge, than with mediocrity in the art of pleasing. It was very correctly observed by Salvator Rosa, when requested to give his opinion upon the relative merits of design and colouring, that he had been able to meet with many Santi di Tito in the shops of the suburbs, at a very low price, but that he had never seen there a single specimen of Bassano. Salviati was the best artist of this epoch, and if he was little employed at Florence, according to Vasari, it arose partly from the envy of malevolent persons, partly from his own turbulent, restless, and haughty demeanour. He trained up, however, some artists who belong to this school. Francesco del Prato, an eminent goldsmith, and an excellent artist in the inlaying of metals, when advanced in life, imbibed the love of painting from Salviati, and became his pupil. Having a good idea of design, he was soon able to execute cabinet pictures; two of which, the Plague of Serpents and the Limbo, are pronounced most beautiful by Vasari. It is not improbable that some of the minor pictures ascribed to Salviati may be the work of this artist, who is as little named as if he had never existed. Bernardo Buontalenti, a man of rare and universal genius, was instructed in miniature painting by Clovio, and had Salviati, Vasari, and Bronzino, for his masters [Pg 252]in the other branches of painting. He was so successful that his works were in request by Francis I., by the emperor, and the king of Spain. His portrait is in the royal gallery, besides which little in Florence can be ascribed to him with certainty, for he dedicated his time chiefly to architecture and to hydrostatics. Ruviale Spagnuolo, Domenico Romano, and Porta della Garfagnana, belong to the school of Salviati. We shall notice the last among the Venetians, among whom he lived. In the treatise of Lomazzo, Romolo Fiorentino is assigned to the same school; the individual conjectured by P. Orlandi to be the Romolo Cincinnato, a Florentine painter, employed by Philip II. of Spain. He is very honourably mentioned by Palomino, together with his sons and pupils, Diego and Francesco, both eminent artists favoured by Philip IV. and Pope Urban VIII. by whom they were knighted.

Jacopino del Conte, who is also noticed in the Abecedario Pittorico, under the name of Jacopo del Conte, and considered not as the same individual, but as two distinct artists, was little employed in Florence, but in great request in Rome. He was eminent as a portrait painter to all the Popes and the principal nobility of Rome, from the time of Paul III. to that of Clement VIII., in whose pontificate he died. His ability in composition may be discovered in the frescos in S. Gio. Decollato, and especially in the picture of the Deposition in that place, a work which is reckoned among his [Pg 253]finest productions. There the competition of his most distinguished countrymen stimulated his exertions for distinction. He was an imitator of Michelangiolo, but in a manner so free, and a colouring so different, that it seems the production of another school. Scipione Gaetano, whom we shall consider in the third book of our history, was his scholar. Of Domenico Beceri, a respectable pupil of Puligo, and of some others of little note, I have nothing further to add.

Angiolo Bronzino was another friend of Vasari, nearly of the same age, and was enumerated among the more eminent artists, from the grace of his countenances, and the agreeableness of his compositions. He is likewise esteemed as a poet. His poems were printed along with those of Berni; and some of his letters on painting are preserved in the collection of Bottari.[204] Although the scholar and follower of Pontormo, he also recals Michelangiolo to our recollection. His frescos in the [Pg 254]old palace are praised, adorning a chapel, on the walls of which he represented the Fall of Manna, and the Scourge of the Serpents, histories full of power and spirit; although the paintings on the ceiling do not correspond with them, being deficient in the line of perspective. Some of his altar-pieces are to be seen in the churches of Florence, several of them feebly executed, with figures of angels, whose beauty appears too soft and effeminate. There are many, on the other hand, extremely beautiful, such as his Pietà at S. Maria Nuova, and likewise his Limbo at Santa Croce, in an altar belonging to the noble family of Riccasoli. This picture is better suited for an academy of design, from the naked figure, than for a church; but the painter was too much attached to Michelangiolo to avoid imitating him even in this error. This picture has been lately very well repaired. Many of his portraits are in Italian collections of paintings, which are praiseworthy for their truth and spirit; but their character is frequently diminished by the colour of the flesh, which sometimes partakes of a leaden hue, at other times appears of a dead white, on which the red appears like rouge. But a yellowish tint is the predominant colour in his pictures, and his greatest fault is a want of relief.

The succeeding artists, who are chiefly Florentines, are named by Vasari in the Obsequies of Bonarruoti, in the memoirs of the academicians, written about the year 1567, and in several other[Pg 255] places. Their works are scattered over the city, and many of them are to be found in the cloister of S. Maria Novella. If these semicircular pictures had not been retouched and altered, this place would be, with regard to this epoch, what the cloister of the Olivetines in Bologna is to that of the Caracci; an era, indeed, more auspicious for the art, but not more interesting in an historical point of view. Another collection, of which I have spoken in my description of the tenth cabinet of the royal gallery, is better preserved, and indeed is quite perfect. It now occupies another apartment. It consists of thirty-four fabulous and historical pictures, painted on the panels of a writing desk for Prince Francesco,[205] by various artists of this epoch. Vasari, to whom the work was entrusted, there represented Andromeda delivered by Perseus, and procured the assistance of the academicians, who thus emulated each other, and strove to recommend themselves to the court. Most of them have put their names to their work;[206] and, if the defects common to that age, or peculiar to the individual, are here and there visible in the work, it demonstrates that the light of painting was not yet extinguished in Florence. Nevertheless, [Pg 256]I advise him who examines this collection, to suspend his judgment on the merits of those artists until he has considered their other productions in their own country or at Rome, where some of them have a place in the choicest collections. They may be divided in several schools: we shall begin with that of Angiolo.

Alessandro Allori, the nephew and pupil of Bronzino, whose surname he sometimes inscribed on his pictures, is reckoned inferior to his uncle. Wholly intent upon anatomy, of which he gave fine examples in the Tribune of the Servi, and on which he composed a treatise for the use of painters, he did not sufficiently attend to the other branches of the art. Some of his pictures in Rome, representing horses, are beautiful; and his sacrifice of Isaac, in the royal museum, is coloured almost in the Flemish style. His power of expression is manifested by his picture of the Woman taken in Adultery in the church of the Holy Spirit. He was expert in portrait painting; but he abused this talent by introducing portraits in the modern costume in ancient histories, a fault not uncommon in that age. On the whole his genius appears to have been equal to every branch of painting; but it was unequally exercised, and consequently unequally expanded. He painted much for foreigners, and enjoyed the esteem of the ducal family, who employed him to finish the pictures at Poggio a Caiano, begun by Andrea del Sarto, Franciabigio, and Pontormo, and by them left [Pg 257]more or less imperfect. Opposite to these pictures he painted, from his own invention, the Gardens of the Hesperides, the Feast of Syphax, and Titus Flaminius dissuading the Etolians from the Achæan league; all which historical subjects, as well as those of Cæsar and Cicero, were chosen as symbols of similar events in the lives of Cosmo and Lorenzo de' Medici. Such was the manner of thinking in that age; and moderns personified in ancient heroes obtained a less direct, but higher honour from the art. Giovanni Bizzelli, a disciple of Alessandro, of middling talents, painted in S. Gio. Decollato, at Rome, and in some Florentine churches. Cristofano, a son of Alessandro, became eminent; but he is to be considered hereafter.

Santi Titi, of Città San Sepolcro, a scholar of Bronzino and Cellini, studied long at Rome, whence he returned, with a style full of science and of grace. His beautiful is without much of the ideal; but his countenances exhibit a certain fulness, an appearance of freshness and of health, that is surpassed by none of those who took nature for their model. Design was his characteristic excellence; and for this he was commended by his imitator, Salvator Rosa. In expression he has few superiors in other schools, and none in his own. His ornaments are judicious; and having practised architecture with applause, he introduced perspectives, that gave a dignity and charm to his compositions. He is esteemed the best painter of this epoch, and belongs to it rather from the [Pg 258]time in which he lived than his style; if we except his colouring, which was too feeble, and without much relief. Borghini, at once his critic and apologist, remarks that even in this department he was not deficient, when he chose to exert himself; and he seems to have studied it in the Feast of Emmaus, in the church of the Holy Cross at Florence, in the Resurrection of Lazarus, in the cathedral of Volterra, and in a picture at Città di Castello, in which he represents the faithful receiving the Holy Spirit from the hands of the Apostles; a painting that may be viewed with pleasure, even after the three by Raffaello which adorn that city.

Among his numerous pupils in design, we may reckon his son Tiberio; but this artist attended less to the pursuits of his father, than to painting small portraits in vermilion, in which he had singular merit; these were readily received into the collection formed by Cardinal Leopold, which now forms a single cabinet in the royal museum. Two other Florentines are worthy of notice, viz. Agostino Ciampelli, who flourished in Rome under Clement VIII.; and Lodovico Buti, who remained at Florence. They resemble twins by the similarity between them; less scientific, less inventive, and less able in composition, than Titi, they possessed fine ideas, were correct in design, and cheerful in their colouring, beyond the usage of the Florentine school; but they were somewhat crude, and at times profuse in the use of red tints not sufficiently [Pg 259]harmonized. Frescos by the first may be seen in the Sacristy at Rome, and the chapel of S. Andrea al Gesù, and an oil painting of the Crucifixion at S. Prassede, in his best manner. A Visitation, with its two companions, at S. Stephen of Pescia, may be reckoned among his choicest works; to which the vicinity of Tiarini does little injury. The second may be recognised by a picture of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, abounding in figures, which is in the royal gallery. Baccio Ciarpi, a pupil of the same school, is celebrated as the master of Berrettini, and deserves to be commended for his diligence and correctness. He was thought worthy of being employed at La Concezione at Rome, a most splendid gallery, painted by the greatest artists of that age. A portrait of one Andrea Boscoli, his pupil and imitator, remains in the royal museum of Florence, and many of his paintings with horses are dispersed through the city. He travelled into different parts, leaving various specimens of his art in different countries, at S. Ginesio, at Fabriano, and other places in the district of Piceno. His largest work is a S. John the Baptist in the attitude of prayer, at the Teresiani of Rimino; a picture that shews invention, but it was unknown to Baldinucci, who compiled anecdotes of this artist. Constantino de' Servi is conjectured by Baldinucci to be a scholar of Titi. He is well known to have been originally his imitator, and having gone into Germany, there adopted the style of Pourbus. In foreign countries [Pg 260]he seems to have painted few portraits, a branch in which he had greater merit than employment. His celebrity was greater as a master architect and engraver of gems, as we shall notice in a subsequent epoch. In closing the account of the school of Santi, it may be proper to observe, that his example reclaimed a great proportion of the succeeding generation, and inclined artists to mitigate the severity of the style of Michelangiolo, by introducing more grace in the contours, and a better taste in the heads.

Batista Naldini holds the third rank among the scholars of Bronzino. He was first the pupil of Pontormo, afterwards of Bronzino, and having resided some time at Rome, he was chosen by Vasari as the companion of his labours in the old palace, and retained by him about fourteen years. The historian makes honourable mention of Naldini, even when a young man, and denominates him a painter skilful and vigorous, expeditious and indefatigable. Naldini obtained similar praise in Rome from Baglione, especially for the chapel of John the Baptist, at Trinità de' Monti, which he painted with the history of the saint. He painted many pictures in his native city, some of which, as the taking down from the Cross, and the Purification of the Virgin, are commended by Borghini for the colouring and the design, for the disposition, the perspective, and the attitudes. The defects observable in most of his pictures are, that the knees are rather too much swollen, the eyes too open, and marked [Pg 261]with a certain fierceness, by which he may be generally recognized; his colouring is also characteristic, and those changeable hues in which he delighted more than any other artist of the age.

He taught according to the method then pursued by most masters, which was to employ his scholars in designing after the chalk drawings of Michelangiolo, and to give them his own finished pictures to copy; for, like bees, artists were exceedingly anxious to work in secret, and ready to wound all who overlooked them. Baldinucci has recorded several instances of this peculiarity. From these circumstances the fault of the scholars of Naldini was stiffness, the common failing of that age; they had little of that free touch and taste in colouring which he possessed, but yet they deserve to be recorded. Giovanni Balducci, called also Cosci, from the surname of his maternal uncle, was long his assistant. His Last Supper in the cathedral, the Finding of the Cross at the Crocetta, his historical compositions in the cloister of the Domecans at Florence, and in S. Prassede at Rome, prove his genius to have been more refined than that of his master. To second the latter, he now and then, perhaps, went beyond his province, and to some, his attitudes at times appear affected. He resided and died at Naples, and he is deservedly praised by the historians of that city. Cosimo Gamberucci appears to have aimed at a totally different object. On examining a great part of his works, we may say of him, as was observed of the[Pg 262] ancient artist, that he has not sacrificed to the Graces. He seems finally to have improved, for he has left some fine pictures, worthy of the following epoch. Peter healing the lame in S. Pier Maggiore, a picture in the style of the Caracci, is the work of his hand. The Servitian monks have a good picture by him in their public hall; and his holy families and cabinet pictures of a high class are to be met with in the city. The Cav. Francesco Currado had a still better opportunity of improvement, for he lived ninety-one years, constantly employed in painting and in teaching. One of his best pictures is on the altar of S. Saverio, in the church of S. Giovannino. He was very eminent in small figures, and in this style he painted the history of the Magdalen, and especially the martyrdom of S. Tecla, of the royal gallery, which are works of his best time. In the same school we may include Valerio Marucelli, and Cosimo Daddi, both artists of some merit; the second is memorable for his celebrated pupil Volterrano, in whose native place he married, and two of his altar-pieces still remain there.

Giovanni Maria Butteri, and Lorenzo dello Sciorina, were two other scholars of Bronzino, and assisted Vasari in the above mentioned pictures on the escrutoire, and in his preparations for festivals. The first imitated Vasari, his master, and Titi; but at all times his colouring was inharmonious; the second has little to boast of beyond his design. Both are honourably mentioned among [Pg 263]the academicians; as is also Stefano Pieri, who assisted Vasari in the cupola of the metropolitan church. The sacrifice of Isaac, of the Pitti palace, is ascribed to him, and it is the best of his works executed at Rome, which are censured as hard and dry by Baglione. Cristofano dell'Altissimo, whose talent lay in portrait painting, may be added to these. Giovio had formed the celebrated collection of portraits of illustrious men, which is still preserved at Como, though now divided between the two families of the Conti Giovio, one of which possesses the portraits of learned men, the other those of warriors. From this collection, which the prelate styled his museum, that still existing at Mondragone was copied, and also the collection now in the Florentine gallery, by the labours of Cristofano, who was sent for that purpose to Como by Cosmo I. He copied the features of those celebrated men, but attended little to other circumstances; whence it happens that the Giovian collection exhibits many very dissimilar manners, the Medicean one alone; but the features of the originals are very faithfully expressed.

Michele di Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio instructed many artists in this epoch. From his school, proceeded Girolamo Macchietti, or G. del Crocifissaio, the assistant of Vasari for six years, who afterwards studied for two years at Rome, though already an adept in the art. His example merits imitation, for that school speaks more to the eye than the ear; and he who there employs his eyes [Pg 264]judiciously, cannot fail to reap the advantage. After his return to Florence he finished a few valuable pictures with care and assiduity, among which may be noticed an Epiphany for the chapel of the Marquis Della Stufa, at S. Lorenzo, and a martyrdom of S. Lorenzo S. Maria Novella, which is greatly praised by Lomazzo. Borghini also, after commending the beauty, the expression, and the picture in general, scarcely found any thing to censure. It is certainly among the most striking pictures in that church. Macchietti also went to Spain, and was not a little employed at Naples and at Benevento, where he is said to have painted his best pictures. In the Dizionario Storico of the professors of the fine arts at Urbino (Colucci tom. xxxi.) I find mention that Girolamo Macchietti produced some battle-pieces for the hall of the Albani at S. Giovanni; but I see no reason why he should be admitted to a place among native artists belonging to that city, or to the state of Urbino.

Vasari mentions Andrea del Minga, then a youth, as contemporary with Macchietti; yet he is reckoned by Orlandi and Bottari, the fellow student of Michelangiolo. He was among the last pupils of Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio, when the school was chiefly under the direction of Michele; and hence he rather followed the latter than the former. His own works are by no means among the most excellent. In the Prayer in the Garden, which remains in the church of the Holy Cross, he rivals any of [Pg 265]his contemporaries; and hence it is alleged, that he was assisted in this picture by three of his friends. Francesco Traballesi, mentioned by Baglione as the painter of some historical frescos in the Greek church at Rome, was a pupil of Michele, but lived too short a time to do him honour. The fable of Danaë, on the writing desk, is the work of his brother Bartolommeo.

About this time lived Bernardino Barbatelli, surnamed Poccetti, an artist omitted by Vasari in the school of Michele, and in the catalogue of the academicians; because at that period he painted only grotesques and fronts of buildings, in which, though he had arrived at great eminence, he had not the reputation he afterwards attained in Rome as an architect, from assiduously studying the works of Raffaello, and of other great masters. He subsequently returned to his native place, not only a pleasing and graceful figurist, but rich and learned in his compositions; hence he was enabled to adorn his historical subjects with beautiful landscapes, with sea-views, with fruit, and flowers, not to mention the magnificence of his draperies, and tapestries, which he imitated to admiration. Very few of his pictures on panel or on canvass, but many of his frescos, remain in almost every corner of Florence; nor does he yield to many Italian masters in this art. Pietro da Cortona used to express his astonishment that he was in his time less esteemed than he merited; and Mengs never came to Florence without going to study him, and [Pg 266]diligently searching after his most forgotten frescos. He often painted with careless haste, like a class of poets whose minds are imbued with Parnassian fury and fine imagery, and who recite verses with little preparation, and with little trouble. He is, however, always to be admired, always shews facility and freedom, with that resolute and firm pencil which never makes an erroneous touch; a circumstance from which he has been denominated the Paul of his school. He often studied and made great preparation for his works, and corrected his outline as one would do in miniature painting. Whoever wishes to estimate the powers of this artist should examine the Miracle of the drowned restored to life in the cloister of the Santissima Nunziata, a picture reckoned by some connoisseurs among the best in the city. His fresco works are to be met with nearly throughout all Tuscany, and his circular pictures in the cloister of the Servi at Pistoja, are greatly commended.

Maso Manzuoli, or M. di S. Friano, a scholar of Pierfrancesco di Jacopo and of Portelli, is esteemed equal to Naldini and Allori by Vasari. Nor will this appear strange to any one who beholds his Visitation, which, for many years, decorated S. Pier Maggiore, and was afterwards carried to Rome, where it was deposited in the gallery of the Vatican. It was painted when he was about thirty years of age; and, in the opinion of the historian, it abounds with beauty and grace in the figures, in the draperies, in the architecture, and in every[Pg 267] other circumstance. This is his finest work, and is even among the best of that age. In his other pictures at S. Trinità, in the ducal gallery, and elsewhere, he is something dry; and may be compared to some writers who, though they offend not against grammar, are not entitled to the praise of eloquence. Alessandro Fei, or A. del Barbiere, was his companion, and partly his scholar. This artist, who painted in private, received his first instruction in the school of Ghirlandaio, and of Piero Francia. He had a bold and fertile genius, adapted to large historical frescos, in which he introduced fine architecture and grotesques. In his pictures he attended more to design and expression than to colouring; except in some pieces, supposed to be his last productions, and executed after the reformation of the art by Cigoli. His picture of the Flagellation in S. Croce is highly approved by Borghini. Baldinucci admires him, especially in small historical subjects, such as, amongst the pieces on the writing desk, are the Daniel at the Feast of Belshazzar, and that of the goldsmith's art.

Federigo Zuccaro may be reckoned among the instructors of the artists of this epoch; for whilst employed in painting the cupola of the cathedral, where Vasari had only finished a few figures at his death, he taught painting to Bartolommeo Carducci, who became an architect and statuary under Amannati, and an artificer in stucco under another master. Carducci acquired distinction by those [Pg 268]talents in the court of his Catholic Majesty, where he was introduced by Zuccaro; and where he established himself and his younger brother and pupil, Vincenzio. Both are mentioned by Palomino among the eminent artists who painted in the court of Spain. Both must be well known there; especially the latter, who lived but little at Florence, and who painted more pictures when in the service of Philip III. and Philip IV. than any of his predecessors or successors. He printed a dialogue in the Spanish tongue, De las Excelencias de la Pintura, from which Baldinucci has quoted some passages in the account of this artist.

Of some of the artists mentioned by Vasari as his assistants in the decoration of the palace, in the preparations for the marriage of Prince Francesco, in the funeral obsequies of Bonarruoti, or in the collection of pictures on the writing desk, the masters are unknown; and the knowledge would be of little consequence. Such artists are Domenico Benci, and Tommaso del Verrocchio, whom he names in his third volume at page 873, and Federigo di Lamberto, a Fleming, called F. del Padovano, whom he had a little before noticed as a new citizen of Florence, and as a considerable ornament to the academy. Omitted by Vasari, but inscribed on the writing desk, we find the names of Niccolo Betti, who painted the story of Cæsar; of Vittor Casini, who there represented the Forge of Vulcan; of Mirabello Cavalori, who pourtrayed Lavinia Sacrificing, and also the emblems of the art [Pg 269]of weaving; of Jacopo Coppi, who there painted the Family of Darius, and the invention of gunpowder. I suspect that they were all scholars of Michele; and Vasari has more than once thus generally noticed them. Perhaps Cavalori is the Salincorno mentioned in another place, and Coppi is believed to be that Jacopo di Meglio, who is more severely treated by Borghini than any other in the church of the Holy Cross; and not without reason; for his Ecce Homo in that place has all the defects of this epoch. Whether Coppi is to be identified with this person or not, he cannot be equally reprehended for his pictures on the writing desk; and in S. Salvator at Bologna, he produced a picture of the Redeemer Crucified by the Jews, that might vie with the best pictures in that city previous to the time of the Caracci, and is yet one of those most full of subject and most carefully studied. He imitated Vasari in colouring, and in propriety of invention, in variety of figures, and in diligence in every part, I have seen no picture of Vasari by which it is surpassed. It bears the date of 1579, together with his name. There is an account of two of his frescos in the Guida di Roma; one of which, very copious in subject, is placed in the tribune of S. Pietro in Vincoli.

To the same period belongs the name of Piero di Ridolfo, by whom there is a large altar-piece, consisting of the Ascension, and bearing the date 1612; it is supposed that he took his name from the last of the Ghirlandai, in whose service he [Pg 270]may have been during his early life. Whoever may be desirous of adding to the list of names, will find a great number in a letter of Borghini to the Prince D. Francesco (Lett. Pittor. tom. i. p. 90), in which he suggests a plan for the preparations of the Prince's nuptials, as well as the artists best qualified to conduct them. The names, however, I here give would be more than amply sufficient, were it not my wish to illustrate Vasari by every means in my power.

After considering the artists of Florence, on turning to the rest of Tuscany, we find in many places other associates of Giorgio, who, perhaps, had as many assistants in painting as bricklayers in architecture. Stefano Veltroni, of Monte Sansavino, his cousin, was a man of slow parts, but very respectable in the art. He assisted Vasari in the vineyard of Pope Julius; or rather he superintended the grotesque works in that place; and followed his cousin to Naples, to Bologna, and to Florence. I know not whether Orazio Porta, likewise a native of Sansavino, and Alessandro Fortori of Arezzo, ever left Tuscany; they appear to have painted chiefly in their native city and its vicinity. Bastiano Flori and Fra Salvatore Foschi, both natives of Arezzo, were employed in the Roman Chancery, along with Bagnacavallo, and the Spaniards Ruviale and Bizzerra. Andrea Aretino, the scholar of Daniello, lived at a later period, or at least until 1615.[207]

[Pg 271]About this time Città San Sepolcro was a seminary for painters, who were either wholly or chiefly educated by Raffaellino; and from this place Vasari invited not only the master, but several of the scholars to assist him in his labours. He was greatly assisted by Cristoforo Gherardi, surnamed Doceno, whose life he has written. This artist was his right hand, if we may be allowed the expression, in almost every place where he was much employed. Gherardi followed his designs with a freedom resulting from a genius pliant, copious, and natural, adapted to ornamental works. Such was his talent for managing fresco colours, that Vasari pronounces himself his inferior: but the grotesques of the Vitelli palace, which are wholly his own, shew him not to have been more vigorous in his colouring. The oil picture of the Visitation in the church of S. Domenico, at Città di Castello, is entirely his own; but Vasari does not mention it. The upper part of the picture of S. Maria del Popolo, at Perugia, is likewise his; and is no less elegant and graceful, than the lower part, which is the work of Lattanzio della Marca, is firm and vigorous. Doceno died in his native place in 1552; and Cosmo I. honoured his tomb with a bust of marble, and an epitaph, in which he is said to be Pingendi arte præstantissimus, and Vasari, who had approved of his labours in the old palace, is called hujus artis facile princeps. It is written in the name of all the Tuscan painters,[208] and is alone sufficient[Pg 272] to demonstrate the state of this school, and the taste of Cosmo. After this specimen, it is not surprising that the prince neglected to have his portrait painted by Tiziano, whom he would esteem little in comparison to his own Vasari. It is a true observation that virtues are not hereditary, or, as it is expressed by the poet, they rarely spring up again in the branches. Leo X. was the patron of the arts, and he knew how to appreciate them; but Cosmo encouraged, without possessing taste to discriminate.

The Three Cungi (or Congi, as some will have it) are also claimed by San Sepolcro. Gio. Batista was the servant of Vasari for seven years; Lionardo is described to us as an eminent designer, in the life of Perino, and in that of Zuccaro is said to have been a painter employed in the pontifical palace about 1560, along with his countryman Durante del Nero. For a knowledge of the third brother, Francesco, I am indebted to my learned friend Sig. Annibale Lancisi; and I have since received more particular information from Sig. Giachi, who gives an account of an altar-piece of S. Sebastiano, in the cathedral at Volterra, together with the receipt for its purchase money in 1587, where he is called Francesco di Leonardo Cugni da Borgo. At Rome we cannot judge properly of their style, but it may be discovered in their own country, in the church of S. Rocco, at the convent of the Osservanti, and in other places. Their compositions display great simplicity, their ideas are chiefly [Pg 273]drawn from nature, and they attended sufficiently to colouring. Raffaele Scaminossi, a scholar of Raffaellino, painted in a similar but somewhat more lively manner. I learn nothing of Giovanni Paolo del Borgo, except that he was the assistant of Vasari in his very hasty labours in the Chancery, about 1545. He cannot be the Gio. de' Vecchi who painted so much in Rome, as we are informed by Baglione; and who chiefly excelled at Caprarola, when contending with Taddeo Zuccaro, and in the church of S. Lorenzo in Damaso, in the various histories of the Martyr. He appears to have arrived at a later period, as did the three Alberti, who were of a family in San Sepolcro, abounding in painters. They went to study at Rome, and easily formed themselves on the style common to artists in the time of Gregory XIII. There they took up their abode, and there died, after having executed many works, especially in fresco, in that city, and also some memorials of their art in their native country.

The cathedral contains a Nativity by Durante, a subject which he handled better in the Vallicella of Rome, and which is, perhaps, his best performance in that city: in others he is often languid, both in design and colouring, and appears rather a laborious artist than a man of genius. Cherubino, the reputed son of Michele, and the assistant of Daniel di Volterra,[209] was a celebrated engraver [Pg 274]on copper, and from this art he derived great assistance in design. Although late in applying to painting, he obtained a name in those times. His proportions were light and spirited; his choirs of angels were agreeable and original; his penciling and whole composition were dexterous and spontaneous. Such is the character of his Trinity in the cathedral of Borgo, in which place there remains the façade of a palace, well conceived, ornamented with arms, genii, and other fanciful devices. He painted the ceiling of the chapel of Minerva in Rome with various ornaments and figures, on a golden ground; in that city, however, he generally assisted his younger brother Giovanni, who introduced a new era in perspective; not only by his works, existing in the houses of private individuals at San Sepolcro, and other cities, but by the fresco perspectives which he executed at Rome. He claims admiration in the sacristy of the church of S. Gio. Laterano, where he imitated the salient and receding angles of architecture; and still more in the grand Clementine salon, the most prodigious and exquisite work in perspective then existing. Baglione highly commends the S. Clement and other figures with which it is ornamented; and remarks that they are admirably foreshortened, and are superior to those of Cherubino, who was [Pg 275]not so eminent in perspectives. Baglione mentions a Francesco, the son of Durante, who died at Rome. I am uncertain whether he is the Pierfrancesco to whom we attribute the Ascension, in the church of S. Bartholomew at Borgo, with some pictures of no great merit in the church of S. John, and in other places. History mentions also Donato, Girolamo, Cosimo, and Alessandro Alberti, of whom I can collect nothing further.

The writers of Prato exalt their countryman, Domenico Giuntalocchio, pupil to Soggi, in whose life Vasari mentions Domenico more as an engineer than a painter. He describes him as a correct portrait painter, but so extremely tardy in his works in fresco, that he became tiresome to the Aretini, with whom he for some time dwelt. I cannot point out any genuine picture from his hand; but his memory is still fresh in the minds of his fellow citizens, because, instead of leaving his native place ornamented with his pictures, he left 10,000 crowns as a fund to be appropriated to the education of young artists.

After the death of Daniel, his scholar and relation Giovanni Paolo Rossetti, retired to Volterra, and, as is attested by Vasari, executed works of great merit in this his native place; among which we may reckon the Deposto, in the church of S. Dalmatius. At a short distance from the city is a place which gave name to Niccolò dalle Pomarance, of the family of Circignani. Vasari describes him as a young man of ability. He neglects to inform us [Pg 276]who was his master; but he appears to have been Titi, whom he assisted in the great salon of the Belvidere palace. He grew old in Rome, where he left numerous specimens of the labours of his pencil, which he employed with freedom, and at a good price. He shewed himself greatly superior to the artists of this period, in some of his works, as in the Cupola of S. Pudenziana. Cavalier Roncalli was a native of the same place; there are pictures by them both at Pomarance; where there are also some by Antonio Circignani, the son of the former, an able artist, though little known. All three will again be treated of in the third book.

Pistoia possessed at the same time two scholars of Ricciarelli; Biagio da Cutigliano, noticed by Vasari,[210] and P. Biagio Betti Teatino, a miniature painter, sculptor, and historical painter of merit, whom Baglione represents as constantly employed in the service of the church and convent to which he belonged. Leghorn gave birth to Jacopo Rosignoli, pupil of an unknown master, who lived in Piedmont, where his works must be sought. Baccio Lomi, whose style much resembles that of Zuccaro, remained at Pisa: he owes much of his skill and of his reputation to his two nephews, as we shall afterwards relate. Though unknown beyond the limits of his native country, he must not be passed [Pg 277]over in silence. The Assumption, in the residence of the Canons, and some of his other pictures, participate of the hardness of the age, but exhibit very good design and colouring.

Paolo Guidotti distinguished himself in the neighbouring state of Lucca, as a painter of genius and of spirit, no less than a man of letters, and well grounded in anatomical knowledge; but his taste was not polished and refined. He came to Rome in the distracted times of Gregory and Sixtus, and lived there during the pontificate of Paul V., who created him a knight, and conservator of Rome: he further permitted him to assume the additional name of Borghese, the family name of the pontiff. Many of his paintings in fresco are preserved at Rome, in the Vatican library, in the Apostolic chamber, and in several churches: the artists with whom he was associated, prove that he was reputed a good artist. Several of his pictures are in his native place; and there is a large piece representing the Republic, in the palace. Girolamo Massei pursued a similar track, only confining himself to the art of painting. Baglione, who gave an account of him, introduces him into Rome as an artist, already much commended for his accuracy; to which Taia adds, that he was both a good designer and colourist; so much so as to lead us to distinguish him from the crowd of Gregorian and Sixtine practitioners, in the same way that he was chosen by P. Danti to ornament the chambers of the Vatican; of which more hereafter. He returned [Pg 278]to his native place in his old age, not to employ himself anew, but to die in tranquillity among his friends. Benedetto Brandimarte, of Lucca, is mentioned by Orlandi. I saw a decollation of S. John by this artist in the church of S. Peter, at Genoa, which was but a miserable performance; a single production, however, is not sufficient to decide the character of an artist.

The name of a Pietro Ferabosco is mentioned only by the continuator of Orlandi; he is supposed to have been a native of Lucca, though he is referred to the academy of Rome, where he probably pursued his first studies; I say probably, because the excellence of his colouring in the Titian manner, would lead me rather to include him among the Venetian artists. There are three of his half-length figures, together with his name, and the date of 1616, reported as being in the possession of a gentleman in Portugal; where he resided, most likely, a longer period than in Italy.

We have already noticed some Tuscans who acquired distinction in the inferior branches of painting; such as Veltroni, Constantino de' Servi, Zucchi, and Alberti: Antonio Tempesti, of Florence, a scholar both of Titi and Stradano, was among the first to acquire a celebrated name in Italy for landscapes and for battles. He practised engraving on copper, prepared cartoons for tapestry, and gave scope to his genius in the most fanciful inventions in grotesque and ornamental work. He surpassed his master in spirit, and was inferior to none, not even [Pg 279]to the Venetians. In a Letter on Painting by the Marquis Giustiniani,[211] he is adduced as an example of great spirit in design, a gift conferred by nature, and not to be acquired by art. He attempted few things on a large scale, and was not so successful as in small pictures. The Marquis Niccolini, the Order of the Nunziata, and several Florentine families, possess some of his battles painted on alabaster, in which he appears the precursor of Borgognone, who is said to have studied him attentively. He most frequently painted in fresco, as at Caprarola, in the Este Villa at Tivoli, and in many parts of Rome, from the time of Gregory XIII. Most of the historical pictures in the Vatican gallery are the work of his hands; the figures are a palm and a half high, and display astonishing variety and spirit, accompanied by beautiful architecture and landscapes, with every species of decoration. He is not, however, very correct; and his tints are sometimes too much inclined to a brownish hue; but all such faults are pardonable in him, as being occasioned by that pictoric fury which inspired him, that fancy which hurried him from earth, and conducted him through novel and sublime regions, unattempted by the vulgar herd of artists.

[181] "All painters seem to worship him as their great master, prince, and god of design." It is thus Monsig. Claudio Tolomei writes in a letter to Apollonio Filareto, towards the end of the fifth book. Such is the opinion of the artists of the Leonine age, whatever may be the judgment passed in the age of Pius VI.

[182] Baldinucci, tom. ix. p. 35.

[183] He executed a picture of S. Sigismund for the church of S. Lorenzo, at the desire of the noble family of Martelli, which delighted the Duke Cosmo. This picture ought to be removed from the altar, for the tints are fading.

[184] We learn from Pliny, that Filosseno Eretrio, celeritatem præceptoris (Nicomachi) secutus breviores etiamnum quasdam picturæ vias, et compendiarias invenit. (Lib. xxxv. cap. 36.) We perceive, however, from the context, that his pictures were no less perfect on that account; and I believe that those compendious means were more particularly connected with the mechanism of the art.

[185] See Lettere Pittoriche, tom. ii. let. 2.

[186] Bald. tom. ix. p. 35.

[187] See his "Description of the preparations for the marriage of the Prince D. Francesco, of Tuscany." It is inserted in volume xi. of the ed. of Siena, which we frequently allude to.

[188] "Treatises by the Cav. Giorgio Vasari, painter and architect of Arezzo, upon the designs painted by him at Florence, in the palace of their Serene Highnesses, &c.; together with the design of the painting commenced by him in the cupola." It is a posthumous work, supplied by his nephew Giorgio Vasari, who published it in 1588 at Florence. It was republished at Arezzo in 1762, in 4to.

[189] He had been well imbued with literature at Arezzo, and, when a youth at Florence, "he spent two hours every day along with Ippolito and Alessandro de' Medici, under their master Pierio." Vasari nella Vita del Salviati.

[190] See Lett. Pittoriche, tom. iii. lett. 104.

[191] Bottari adduces an authentic document of this in his Preface, page 6.

[192] In the Dedicatory Letter to Cosmo I., prefixed to second edit.

[193] See Lett. Pittor. tom. iii. let. 226.

[194] It is founded also on Vasari's remark, in his Life of Frate: "There is likewise a portrait by F. Gio. da Fiesole, whose life we have given, which is in the part of the Beati;" which cannot, observes Bottari, apply to any other except D. Silvano Razzi, author of the "Vite dei S. S. e Beati Toscani;" among which is found that of B. Giovanni. But this indication would be little; or at least it is not all. The document which clearly reveals the fact, has been pointed out to me by the polite attention of Sig. Luigi de Poirot, Secretary to the Royal Finances; and this is in the "Vite de' SS. e BB. dell' ordine de' Frati Predicatori di Serafino Razzi Domenicano," published after the death of Vasari, in Florence, 1577. In these, treating of works in the fine arts in S. Domenico at Bologna, he adds; "we cannot give a particular account of these histories, but whoever is desirous of it may consult the whole, in the Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, written, for the most part, by D. Silvano Razzi, my brother, for the Cav. Giorgio Vasari of Arezzo, his very intimate friend." After such information, we must suppose that Vasari, having communicated his materials to this monk, received from him a great number of Lives, that boast such elegant prefaces and fine reflections; but that he here and there retouched them; adding things either from haste or inadvertency, not well connected with the context, or repeated elsewhere. And in this way we may account for the many inconsistencies to be met with in a number of Lives, very finely written, but containing passages that do not appear to come from the same pen, and frequently make the author contradict himself.

[195] It is to be observed that Bottari wrote principally to mark the changes that the works described by Vasari had undergone during 200 years. In regard to the emendations pointed out by us, he declares in the Preface, that he could not undertake them for want of time, health, books, and most of all, inclination. However, we are indebted for not a few to him, and also to P. Guglielmo, though not equally so in every school. Both are writers of merit; the former by his citations from printed works, the second for his information of MSS. and unedited authors.

[196] Tom. vii. p. 249.

[197] Vide Taia Descrizione del Palazzo Vaticano, p. 11. Zuccaro did not so readily pardon Vasari, whose work he noted with severity: as did also one of the three Caracci. Lett. Pittor. tom. iv. lett. 210.

[198] Tom. viii. p. 203.

[199] P. 117.

[200] Tom. viii. p. 123.

[201] "Although I do not deny, that he shews himself a little too much the partizan, he ought not to be defrauded of his due praise, as is attempted by the ignorant and invidious; for the completion of such an elegant and finished history must have cost him great study and research, and demanded much ingenuity and discrimination." Idea del Tempio, &c. cap. iv.

[202] Lett. Pittor. tom. i. p. 190.

[203] Lett. Pittor. tom. iii. p. 51.

[204] He examines the question, then keenly contested, whether Sculpture or Painting was the most noble art. He decides in favour of his own profession: and there are some other letters in that volume on the opposite side of the question worthy of perusal. Bonarruoti, on being asked this question by Varchi, was unwilling to give a decision. (See tom. i. p. 7, and p. 22.) After Bonarruoti's decease the contest was renewed, and prose and verse compositions appeared on both sides. Lasca wrote in favour of painting, while Cellini defended sculpture. (See Notes to the Rime of Lasca, p. 314.) Lomazzo is well worthy of notice in his Treatise, lib. ii. p. 158, in which he gives a MS. of Lionardo, drawn up at the request of Lodovico Sforza, where he prefers painting to the sister art.

[205] For an account of this writing desk, which was made during the life of Cosmo I., see Baldinucci, tom. x. p. 154 and 182.

[206] We there may read Allori, Titi, Buti, Naldini, Cosci, Macchietti, Minga, Butteri, Sciorini, Sanfriano, Fei, Betti, Casini, Coppi, and Cavalori; besides Vasari, Stradano, and Poppi, already noticed.

[207] Baglione, in the Life of P. Biagio Betti.

[208] Pictores Hetrusci.

[209] Vasari calls him Michele Fiorentino, and the painter of the Slaughter of the Innocents, which we have noticed at page 187. Orlandi makes him the father of Cherubino, an assertion which is not contradicted by Bottari. I follow Baglione, the contemporary of Cherubino, who says that he was the son of Alberto Alberti, an eminent engraver on copper.

[210] Vasari writes the name da Carigliano, in which he has been followed by other writers on the art, including myself, until I was informed by Sig. Ansaldi that it ought really to be written Cutigliano, taken from a considerable territory in the Pistoiese.

[211] Tom. vi. p. 25.

[Pg 280]



Cigoli and his associates improve the style of Painting.

Whilst the Florentines regarded Michelangiolo and his imitators as their models, they experienced the fate of the poets of the fifteenth century, who fixed their eyes on Petrarca and his followers alone; they contracted a strong similarity of style, and differed from each other only according to their individual talents and genius. As we have above remarked, they began to exhibit some diversity after the age of Titi; but they were still languid colourists, and required to be impelled into another career. About 1580 the period had at length arrived, when they began to abandon the manner of their countrymen for that of foreign artists; and then, as we shall have occasion to shew in treating of this epoch, the Florentine styles became firm and varied. This revolution originated with two young artists, Lodovico Cigoli and Gregorio Pagani. We learn from Baldinucci, that, attracted by the celebrity of Barocci, and a picture which he had recently sent from Urbino to Arezzo, which is now in the royal gallery at Florence, they went together to see it; they examined [Pg 281]it attentively, and were so captivated with the style, that they immediately renounced the manner of their master. Passignano followed their steps, continues Baldinucci, and Cigoli, in his company, took a second journey as far as Perugia, when Barocci had completed his celebrated Deposition from the Cross; but here the historian fell into a chronological error, inasmuch as Bellori, the accurate writer of Barocci's life, describes his picture at Perugia as anterior to that at Arezzo by several years. In whatever way the mistake ought to be cleared up, it is certain that Passignano promoted the views of Cigoli. Their example turned the rising generation from the old manner to a more vigorous style. This was more especially the case with Empoli, with Cav. Curradi, and some of those above mentioned, who were followed by Cristofano Allori, and Rosselli, artists that transmitted the new method to their new disciples. They did not, however, imitate Barocci so much as Correggio, who was the model of Barocci. Unable to visit Lombardy, they studied the few copies of his pictures, and still fewer originals, that were to be met with in Florence, in order to acquire his management of chiaroscuro, a branch of the art then neglected in Florence, and even at Rome. To this end they began to model in clay and wax; they wrought in plaster; they studied attentively the effects of light and shade; they paid less attention to practical rules, and more to nature. Hence arose a new style which, in my opinion, is among [Pg 282]the best hitherto attempted in Italy; corrected upon the model of the Florentine school; soft and well relieved on that of Lombardy. If their forms had approached to Grecian elegance, if their expression had been more refined, the improvement of painting, which about this time took place in Italy, should have been ascribed no less to Florence than to Bologna.

Some favourable circumstances assisted the progress of the Florentine school; among these we may mention a succession of princes friendly to the art;[212] the readiness with which the celebrated Galileo imparted to artists his discoveries, and the laws of perspective; the travels of several Florentine masters to Venice, and through Lombardy; and the long residence of foreign artists, eminent as colourists, at the court of Florence. But it was chiefly owing to Ligozzi, who studied under the Venetian masters, then considered as the best in Italy, and who animated the old Florentine style with greater spirit and brilliancy than it had hitherto displayed. After noticing the good style of that period, we must not omit to mention one less[Pg 283] praiseworthy; a sombre manner, which usurped the place of the other, and at this day renders many pictures of that period of little or no value. Some ascribe the fault to the method of mixing the colours, which was everywhere changed; and hence it is not peculiar to the Florentines, but is found diffused over Italy. It was partly owing likewise to the rage for chiaroscuro carried to excess. It is the characteristic of every school of long standing to carry to an erroneous excess the fundamental maxims of its master: this we have remarked in the preceding epoch, this we shall find exemplified in every period of painting, and this, if it were consistent with our present undertaking, we might demonstrate to have happened in literature; for a good rule extravagantly pursued leads to the corruption of taste. We shall now direct our attention to the fourth epoch, in which, omitting the two older authorities, Vasari and Borghini, we shall chiefly follow Baldinucci, who was acquainted with the artists we are now to consider, or with their successors.[213]

Lodovico Cardi da Cigoli, the scholar of Santi di Tito, first awakened his countrymen to a nobler style, as we have already observed. The additional observation of Baldinucci, that he perhaps surpassed[Pg 284] all his contemporaries, and that few or none derived such benefit as he did, from the study of Correggio, will not readily be granted by those who are conversant with Schedone, the Caracci, or even Barocci, when they chose to imitate the manner of that great master. From the pictures that have reached our time, Cigoli appears to have acquired a fine effect of light and shade from Correggio; to have united this to a scientific design, to a judicious perspective, the rules of which were previously taught him by Buontalenti, and to a vivacity of colouring superior to his countrymen, among whom he unquestionably holds a high rank. His works, however, exhibit not that contrast of colouring, that mellowness and clearness, that grace in foreshortenings and features, that characterize the ornament of the Lombard school. In short he was the inventor of a style always beautiful, but not always equal; especially if we compare his early works with his pictures executed after his visit to Rome. His general colouring savours of the school of Lombardy, his draperies sometimes resemble those of Paolo Veronese, and he often rivals the bold style of Guercino.

Independent of the great number of his pictures in the royal gallery, and many in the possession of the noble family of Pecori, there are a few in some private houses in Florence. The following are his most esteemed pictures: the Trinity, in S. Croce; the S. Alberto, in S. Maria Maggiore; the Martyrdom of St. Stephen, in the nunnery of Monte Domini,[Pg 285] which Pietro da Cortona considers one of the finest pictures in Florence. Of the same class is the picture which he placed in the church of the Conventualists at Cortona, in which S. Anthony is represented in the act of converting an unbeliever, by a miracle of a mule that is seen kneeling before the holy sacrament: in this piece he aspired at surpassing any work of art in that highly decorated city. In the Vatican he painted S. Peter healing the Lame, a wonderful production, which, among the pictures in Rome, was reckoned by Sacchi next in excellence to the Transfiguration by Raffaello, and the S. Girolamo by Domenichino. The Florentine school may well be proud of this opinion, pronounced as it was by a profound connoisseur, by no means usually lavish of his commendations. This masterpiece, which obtained him the honour of knighthood, is, however, utterly ruined by the dampness of the church, and the ignorance of one who undertook to repair it: but his frescos in the church of S. Maria Maggiore at Rome still remain; and there, by some error in perspective, he appears inferior to himself;[214] nor was he permitted to retouch them, notwithstanding that he employed both interest and entreaties to that effect. Fortune, in some degree, persecuted [Pg 286]this great artist; for had those frescos perished, and that oil painting remained to our times, Cigoli would have enjoyed a higher fame, and Baldinucci obtained more credit.

Andrea Comodi and Giovanni Bilivert, nearly approached Cigoli; Aurelio Lomi followed at a greater distance. Of the latter, I shall speak among the Pisan artists, a few pages further on; and of two Romans, belonging to the same school, in the third book. Comodi, the associate rather than the scholar of Cigoli, is almost unknown at Florence; but there are many of his copies after celebrated masters, which often pass for originals, both in that city and at Rome. This was his peculiar talent; in this he was unrivalled; and it employed his best years. He produced, however, several original works that are highly valuable for the design, the exquisite finish, and the strong body of colouring they display. In these we may trace the friend of Cigoli, and the copyist of Raffaello. They are chiefly Madonnas, and are greatly admired for the disposition of the fingers, which are somewhat spread out, for the graceful slender neck, and a certain virgin air peculiarly his own. The Corsini family at Rome possess a very fine one. Some of his fresco pictures remain in the church of S. Vitale, in that city; and there is a picture of the Titular saint in S. Carlo a' Catinari, which appears dark and cloudy; an uncommon circumstance with so good a colourist.

Gio. Bilivert is a name which we in vain look[Pg 287] for in Orlandi, who has transformed him into two painters, one of whom he calls Antonio Biliverti, and the other, in imitation of Baglione, whose knowledge of him was inaccurate, Gio. Ballinert; both Florentines, and pupils of Cigoli. Like the preceding artist, Bilivert is not always equal to himself. He finished some pictures that had been left imperfect by Cigoli, to whose design and colouring he endeavoured to unite the expression of Titi, and a more avowed and frequent imitation of the ornaments of Paolo Veronese. Bilivert is not sufficiently choice in heads; but he abounds in expression, as may be seen at S. Gaetano and S. Marco, where there are many of his historical pictures, particularly the Raising of the Cross, esteemed one of his best performances. Those pieces which he engaged to execute, and in which he never appears able to satisfy himself, are repeated by his scholars: sometimes inscribed with the initials of his name, especially when he himself retouched them; at other times they are without an epigraph. None of his productions are so worthy of being copied as Joseph with Potiphar's wife; which arrests the eye of every spectator in the ducal gallery. Many copies of it are to be found in Florence; it may be seen in foreign collections, in the Barberini Palace at Rome, in the Obizzo collection at Cattaio, and in several other places.

The ornamented style of Bilivert had many imitators, whose works, in galleries and in private houses, would pass for those of Venetian artists, [Pg 288]had they greater spirit and a better colouring. Bartolommeo Salvestrini is at their head; but he was cut off in his prime, by the plague of 1630, so disastrous to Italy and the art. Orazio Fidani, an assiduous artist, and skilled in the style of his master, painted much at Florence; where his Tobias, that was finished for the fraternity of Scala, but is now removed, is especially commended. Francesco Bianchi Buonavita was engaged in few public works. He was chiefly employed in copying ancient pictures, which the court presented to foreign princes, and in furnishing cabinets with little historical pieces, that were at that time in great request in countries beyond the Alps. They were painted on jasper, agate, lapis lazzuli, and other hard stones; the spots in which assisted in forming the shadows of the pictures. Agostino Melissi contributed much to the tapestry of the ducal family, by furnishing cartoons from the works of Andrea del Sarto, and also some of his own invention. He likewise possessed a genius for oil painting; in which branch his S. Peter at the Gate of Pilate, which he painted for the noble family of Gaburri, is particularly praised by Baldinucci. Francesco Montelatici, by some supposed a Pisan, by others a Florentine, and surnamed Cecco Bravo, from his quarrelsome disposition, abandoned the style of Bilivert, or at least mixed it with that of Passignano. He was a fanciful and spirited designer, and not a bad colourist. A fine painting of S. Niccolo Vescovo, by this artist, is to be seen at [Pg 289]the church of S. Simone; but his works are rare in churches, for he was chiefly employed in painting for private, and sometimes for royal collections. He died painter to the court of Inspruck. Giovanni Maria Morandi remained but a little time with Bilivert, and on going to Rome, adopted the style of that school.

Gregorio Pagani was the son of Francesco, who died young; but was highly esteemed by his countrymen. He had studied the works of Polidoro and of Michelangiolo, at Rome, and executed admirable imitations of them for private gentlemen in Florence. Gregorio himself could scarcely distinguish them. He received the rudiments of his art from Titi, but was initiated in a better style by Cigoli. Strangers praised him as a second Cigoli, whilst his country possessed at the Carmine the picture of the Finding of the Cross, which has been engraved; but when the painting, with the church, was consumed by fire, no great work of his remained in public, except a few of his frescos; one of which, though somewhat injured by time, is an ornament to the cloister of S. Maria Novella. He is rarely to be met with in Florentine collections, as he chiefly painted for foreigners. Of his school I here say nothing: it only produced one eminent pupil; but this one was so conspicuous that he may be said to form a new era, as we shall find in the sequel.

Another associate of Cigoli was Domenico da Passignano, the scholar of Naldini and of Federigo [Pg 290]Zuccaro, whom he resembles most, from his long residence at Venice; where he likewise married. He became so decided an admirer of the merits of this school, that he was accustomed to say that he who had not seen Venice, ought not to boast that he was a painter. This circumstance sufficiently accounts for his style, which is not the most profound, nor the most correct; but it exhibits contrivance, is vast, rich in architecture and in drapery, resembling more the manner of Paolo Veronese, than that of the Florentine school. Sometimes he resembles Tintoretto in his attitudes, and in that oily colouring which ought to have been avoided; and through which many works of both artists have perished. This has been the fate of his Crucifixion of St. Peter, which he executed for the great church in Rome, under Paul V. and of the Presentation of M. V. which he also painted at the same place under Urban VIII. Several pictures, however, remain in some Italian cities, that were begun by his scholars and finished by him, with a degree of care that hands him down to posterity as a great artist. A dead Christ, in the chapel of Mongradone, at Frascati, is in this style; as are an Entombing of Christ, in the Borghese palace, at Rome; a Christ bearing the Cross, in the college of S. Giovannino, and some other works of his at Florence. Passignano, his native place, possesses what is perhaps his most perfect work, in the font of the Church of the Fathers of Vallombrosa. He there painted a Glory, that proclaims [Pg 291]him an excellent artist, and worthy of a place with his pupils, Lodovico Caracci, the founder of the Bolognese school, and Tirani, one of its great ornaments. His Tuscan pupils did not attain equal celebrity. Sorri of Siena, whom we reserve for that school, is the one best known in Italy; having painted with applause in several of her cities. Here we must consider those artists connected with Florence.

Fabrizio Boschi is a spirited painter, whose characteristic excellence appears to consist in novelty of composition, united to a precision superior to the generality of his school. A S. Bonaventura in the act of celebrating mass, in All Saints' church at Florence, is much praised: and, perhaps, his two historical frescos of Cosmo II. which he painted in the palace of Cardinal Gio. Carlo de' Medici, in emulation of Rosselli, are superior to any of his other works. Ottavio Vannini became eminent in colouring and was very attentive to every other branch of painting; but he was sometimes poor and cold; and although good in each part of his pictures, was not happy in the whole. Cesare Dandini, a disciple of several schools, imitated Passignano in design, in brilliancy, and also in the perishable nature of his colours: he was diligent in other things, and very assiduous. His best picture is a S. Carlo, surrounded by other saints, in the church of Ancona: the composition is fine, and the whole in good preservation. Many works of this artist, and of Vannini, decorate collections.

[Pg 292]Nicodemo Ferrucci, the favourite pupil of Passignano, and the companion of his labours at Rome, possessed much of the boldness and spirit of his master. By his example he was led to affix a good price to his pictures, mostly frescos executed at Florence, Fiesole, and for the State. He died young at Fontebuoni; but many of his works, too good to be here omitted, still remain in Rome; one of the most esteemed of which is found at S. Gio. de' Fiorentini, besides two histories of Maria S. S. which, if I mistake not, have suffered from being retouched.

Cristofano Allori was at perpetual variance with Alessandro, his father and preceptor, on account of his attachment to the novel maxims of the three masters we have just commended. In the opinion of many he is the greatest painter of this epoch. When the excellence he attained, during a long life, is considered, he appears to me in some degree, the Cantarini of his school. They resembled each other in the beauty, grace, and exquisite finish of their figures; with this difference, that the beauty of Cantarini partakes more of the ideal, and that the flesh tints of Allori are more happy. This circumstance is the more surprising, inasmuch as he knew nothing of the Caracci, nor of Guido; but supplied all by a nice discrimination, and an unwearied perseverance; for it was his custom never to lift his pencil from the canvass until his hand had obeyed the dictates of his fancy. From this method, and from vicious habits that often seduced [Pg 293]him from his labours, his pictures are extremely rare, and he himself is little known. The S. Julian of the Pitti palace is the grandest effort of his genius; and if it is not among the finest pictures in this magnificent collection, it undoubtedly claims the highest rank in the second class. His picture of Beato Manetto, in the church of the Servi, a small piece, but excellent in its kind, is reckoned the next in merit.

Many young men were sent to be instructed by him in the art of painting; but few of them remained long: most of them were disgusted at the dissipation of the master, and the insolence of some of their fellow students. He formed some landscape painters, whom we shall notice under their class; and also some copyists, whose labours may boast of hues and retouching, the work of his hand. Of this class were Valerio Tanteri,[215] F. Bruno Certosino, and Lorenzo Cerrini. These, and other artists of this school, continued the Giovian series of the later race of illustrious men, by transmitting to us many of their portraits, to which he also lent his hand. To them we owe numerous duplicates of his most celebrated pictures, which are scattered through Florence, and over all Italy; more especially of that Judith, so beautifully and magnificently attired, which is a portrait of his mistress; while her mother appears in the character [Pg 294]of Abra, and the head of Holofernes is that of the painter, who permitted his beard to grow a considerable time for this purpose. Zanobi Rosi lived to a later period, and finished some pieces that were left imperfect by the death of Cristofano; but he never obtained the praise of invention. The name of Giovanni Batista Vanni is superior to any other scholar of the school of Allori. The Pisans claim him as their countryman; Baldinucci assigns him to Florence. After taking lessons from Empoli and other masters, he attended Allori for six years; and whilst he imitated this master admirably in colouring, and rivalled him in design, he also imbibed his lessons of intemperance. Had he conducted himself with more propriety, and adhered more to fixed principles, the genius he possessed might have raised him to more celebrity. He visited the best schools of Italy, and copied on the spot, or at least designed, the choicest productions of each. Many praise some of his copies of Tiziano, of Correggio, and of Paolo Veronese: from the works of the two last he likewise made etchings. Notwithstanding such studies his colouring degenerated, and he became so much a mannerist, that he has not left behind him a truly classical work. The S. Lorenzo in the church of S. Simone, which is reckoned the masterpiece of Vanni, has nothing uncommon, except it be that the light of the fire invests the spectators, and gives the picture novelty and surprising harmony.

Jacopo da Empoli, a scholar of Friano, retains[Pg 295] in most of his works the stamp of his early education; but he adopted a second manner which is not deficient in fulness of design, nor in elegance of colouring. Such is his S. Ivo, which, among painters of great name in a cabinet of the ducal gallery, surprises most strangers more than the other pictures. He executed other works on similar principles, from which we might infer that he belongs to an era favourable to the art. Painters cannot, like authors, amend the first on a second edition of the same subject: their second editions, by which they should be judged, pass as other pictures superior to their first performances. Two of Jacopo's pictures in fresco are commended by Moreni (tom. ii. p. 113), one belonging to the Certosa, the other to the monastery of Boldrone; both which prove the extent of his ability in this branch of the art; but after the period of his fall from the scaffolding in the Certosa, he abandoned this method and devoted himself wholly to painting in oil. Empoli gave all the beauty and fine effect of large works to those pleasing pictures he painted for private individuals, and in this style he was very successful.

This artist taught Vanni the principles of painting; but his greatest pupil was Felice Ficherelli; a man of the most indolent disposition, lazy in every occupation, and, as if afraid of disturbing his tongue, usually silent unless when asked a question: hence he was named Felice Riposo by the Florentines. He executed few pictures; but what proceeded[Pg 296] from his studio may be held up as an example of industry in the art; simple, natural, and studied, without appearing to be so. There is a picture of S. Anthony by him in S. Maria Nuova, where he seems to have been directed by his intimate friend Cristofano, whose work it strongly resembles. He is rare in collections; but always makes a good figure there by his graceful design, his full body of colouring, and his softness. The Adam and Eve driven out of Paradise, in the gallery of the Rinuccini palace, is worthy such a collection. He copied Pietro Perugino, Andrea del Sarto, and some other masters so well, that his work might pass for the originals; and to this employment we may chiefly attribute the exquisite finish of his pictures.

To this period we may assign some other artists, who, from whatever cause, are, perhaps, less commended by historians than they deserve. Of this number is Giovanni Martinelli, of whom there is a capital work in the Conventualists of Pescia, viz. the Miracle of S. Anthony, a subject mentioned a little above, as having been also executed by Cigoli. His Feast of Belshazzar, in the ducal gallery at Florence, and his Guardian Angel at S. Lucia de' Bardi, are pictures of note, but inferior to that at Pescia. Of the same class also is Michel Cinganelli, a scholar of Poccetti, who was employed in the metropolitan church of Pisa, where he ornamented the corbels of the cupola, and strove to emulate the best Tuscan artists of his age in an historical [Pg 297]picture of Joshua. Such is Palladino, mentioned in the Guide of Florence in reference to a S. Giovanni Decollato; a work deserving notice, for its freedom from the beaten track of his school. He seems to have studied the Lombard more than native artists, and to have been acquainted with Baroccio. I saw his altar-piece at S. Jacopo a' Corbolini. I suspect that this artist is the same as Filippo Paladini, pointed out by Hackert, born and educated at Florence, and who resided in foreign parts. He was compelled to fly from Milan on account of some disturbance, and took refuge in Rome, where he was received by Prince Colonna, and being pursued he went to Sicily, and resided at Mazzarino, an estate belonging to the Colonna family. There, as well as at Syracuse, Palermo, Catania, and elsewhere, he left works that display much elegance and fine colouring, but not free from mannerism, the fault also of the picture above cited at Florence. Benedetto Veli painted in the cathedral of Pistoia an Ascension of Christ, placed at the entrance to the presbytery, upon an immense scale. It is the companion to one of the Pentecost by Gregorio Pagani, which sufficiently proves that it has no common merit. There lived some other painters about this time, of whom Tuscany, as far as I know, retains no trace; but they are recognized in other schools: thus Vaiano is recognized in the Milanese, and Mazzoni in the Venetian schools, where we shall give some account of them.

[Pg 298]Last among the great masters of this period I place Matteo Rosselli, a scholar of Pagani and of Passignano, as likewise of several old masters, under whom he studied assiduously at Rome and at Florence. He became so distinguished a painter that he was invited to the court of the Duke of Modena, and was retained by Cosmo II. Grand Duke of Tuscany, in his own service. In painting, however, he had many equals; but very few in the art of teaching, for which he was adapted by a facility of communicating instruction, a total want of envy, and a judicious method of discovering the talents of each pupil, and of directing his progress: hence his school, like that of the Caracci, produced as many different styles as he had pupils. His placid genius was not fitted for the conception of novel and daring compositions, nor for pursuing them with the steadiness that characterizes the painter of elevated fancy. His merit lies in correctness in the imitation of nature; in which, however, he is not always select; and there is a peculiar harmony and repose in the whole, by which his pictures (though they are generally in a sombre tone) please, even when compared with works of the most lively and brilliant colouring. He excels in dignity of character; some of the heads of his apostles, to be seen in collections, so strongly resemble the works of the Caracci, that connoisseurs are sometimes deceived. At times he strove to rival Cigoli: as in his Nativity of our Saviour at S. Gaetano, which is thought to be his masterpiece, [Pg 299]and in the Crucifixion of S. Andrew in All Saints church, which has been engraved at Florence. His fresco paintings are greatly admired: so well do his labours, on the principles of the past age, preserve their freshness and brilliancy. The cloister of the Nunziata has many of his semicircular pieces; and that representing Alexander IV. confirming the Order of the Servi, appeared a grand work to Passignano and Cortona. He ornamented a ceiling in the royal villa of Poggio Imperiale with some histories of the Medicean family. The chamber where this painting was placed was ordered to be demolished in the time of the Grand Duke Peter Leopold; but so highly was Rosselli esteemed that the ceiling was preserved, and transferred to another apartment. His chief praise, however, arises from his preserving that fatherly regard for pupils, which Quintilian thinks the first requisite in a master: hence he became the head of a respectable family of painters whom we shall now consider.

Giovanni da S. Giovanni (this is the name of his native place; his family name was Manozzi), could boast of being one of the best fresco painters that Italy ever possessed. Gifted by nature with a fervid and bold genius, a lively and fertile imagination, celerity and freedom of hand, he painted so much in the dominions of the Church, and even in Rome, especially in the church of the Four Saints, so much in Tuscany, in Florence, and even the Pitti [Pg 300]palace,[216] we can scarcely believe that he began to study at the age of eighteen, and died when only forty-eight years old. His style is very far from the solid manner of his master; he carried the celebrated maxim of Horace "All is allowable" to excess; and in many of his works he preferred whim to art. Amid choirs of angels he introduced the singular novelty of female angels; if we may ascribe this to him, and not to the Cavalier d'Arpino or Alessandro Allori, as some are inclined to do. But whatever exertions he made (if we may so express it) to discredit himself, he did not succeed. His spirit is greatly superior to the conceits of other artists; and his performances at Florence, in which he bridled his eccentricities, prove that he knew more than he was ambitious to shew. Among these we may notice his Flight into Egypt in the royal academy, some semicircular pieces in the church of All Saints, the Expulsion of the Sciences from Greece, of the Pitti palace, in which the blind Homer appears groping his way with great nature, as he is exiled from his native land. It is related of Pietro di Cortona, that on seeing some one of the works of Giovanni, which did him no credit, [Pg 301]he did not therefore condemn him; but, pointing to the piece, only observed, "Giovanni painted that when he was already conscious of being a great man." His pictures on panel and on canvass are less admired, nor are they always exempt from crudity. He had a son called Gio. Garzia, who produced several fresco works at Pistoia, tolerably well executed.

Baldassare Franceschini, surnamed Volterrano, from the place of his nativity, and also the younger Volterrano, to distinguish him from Ricciarelli, seemed to have been formed by nature to adorn cupolas, temples, and magnificent halls, a style of work in which he is more conspicuous than in painting cabinet pictures. The cupola and nave of the Niccolini chapel, in the church of the Holy Cross, is his happiest effort in this way; and surprises even an admirer of Lanfranco. That of the Nunziata is most beautiful; and we must not omit the ceiling of a chapel in S. Maria Maggiore, where Elias appears so admirably foreshortened, that it calls to mind the S. Rocco of Tintoretto, by the optical illusion occasioned by it. His talents excited the envy of Giovanni da S. Giovanni, who having engaged him as his assistant in the decoration of the Pitti palace, speedily dismissed him. His spirit is tempered by judgment and propriety; his Tuscan design is varied and ennobled by an imitation of other schools; to visit which, he was sent to travel for some months by his noble patrons of the house of Niccolini. He derived great advantages [Pg 302]from studying the schools of Parma and of Bologna. He knew Pietro di Cortona, and adopted some of his principles, which was a thing not uncommon among the artists of this epoch.

Volterrano painted a great many frescos in Florence, one in the Palazzo del Bufalo at Rome, and some at Volterra, that are noticed by Baldinucci. The praise bestowed on him by the historian appears rather scanty than extravagant to those who duly consider the propriety of his inventions, the correctness of his design, qualities so rare in this class of artists, his knowledge of the perspective, of foreshortening figures in ceilings,[217] the spirit of his attitudes, the clearness of his graduated, well balanced, and properly united colours, and the pleasing and quiet harmony of the whole. The same talents are proportionally evident in his oil pictures, as may be observed in his S. Filippo Benizi, in the Nunziata of Florence; in his S. John the Evangelist, a noble figure which he painted along with other saints in S. Chiara at Volterra; his S. Carlo administering the communion to those sick of the plague, in the Nunziata of Pescia, and some of his other paintings that are well finished, which was not the case with all his works. The same observations apply to his cabinet pictures, which abound in the ducal palace, and in the houses of the nobility of Volterra, especially in those of the families of Maffei and Sermolli.

[Pg 303]Cosimo Ulivelli is also a good historical painter; and his style is sometimes mistaken for that of his master by less skilful judges; but a good connoisseur discovers in him forms less elegant, a colouring less strong and clear, a character approaching to mannerism and to meagreness. We ought to form an opinion from the works of his best period, such as his semicircular pieces in the cloister of the Carmine. Antonio Franchi, a native of Lucca, who lived at Florence, is reckoned by many inferior to Ulivelli; but he is generally more judicious, if I do not mistake, and more diligent. His S. Joseph of Calassanzio, in the church of the Fathers of Scolopi, is a picture of good effect, and is commended also for the design. Another of his fine works is in the parish church of Caporgnano, in the state of Lucca; it represents Christ delivering the keys to S. Peter, and I am informed by an experienced artist that it is the most esteemed of his productions; many more of which may be found in the account of his Life, published at Florence, by Bartolozzi. He was painter to the court, by which he was much employed, as well as by private individuals. He was a moderate follower of Cortona. He wrote a useful tract on the Theory of Painting, in which he combated the prejudices of the age, and enforced the necessity of proceeding on general principles. It was printed in 1739; and afterwards defended by the author against certain criticisms made on it. Giuseppe and Margherita, his two sons, have met with some commendation, [Pg 304]and I am told there is a fine altar-piece by the former, which adorns the parish church at Borgo Buggiano. It is retouched, however, by his father, who honourably makes mention of the fact. I repeat, honourably; because many fathers are known to have aided their sons with a view of obtaining for them a reputation beyond their deserts. Michelangiolo Palloni da Campi, a pupil of Volterrano, is well known in Florence by a good copy of the Furius Camillus, of Salviati, in the old palace; which was placed by the side of the original. He resided long, and was much employed in Poland. An eminent pupil of Baldassare, named Benedetto Orsi, was omitted by Baldinucci. A fine picture of S. John the Evangelist, in the church of S. Stephen, at Pescia, his native place, is attributed to him. He also painted the Works of Mercy, for the religious fraternity of nobles. These oil paintings were shewn to strangers among the curiosities of that city; but they were dispersed on the suppression of the order. There still exists a large circular picture which he produced at Pistoia for S. Maria del Letto, enumerated by good judges among the finest works of Volterrano, until an authentic document discovered the real author. Last in this list I have to mention Arrighi, the fellow citizen of Franceschini, and his favourite pupil. He has nothing remaining in public, in which his master cannot boast a great share.[218]

[Pg 305]After Franceschini, who may be considered the Lanfranco of the Rosselli, or rather Florentine school, we proceed to Francesco Furini, who is its Guido and its Albano. Foreigners recognized him as such: hence he was invited to Venice, for the express purpose of painting a Thetis, as a companion to an Europa by Guido Reni. He had seen the works of masters of this class at Rome, and appears to have aspired at rivalling, rather than at imitating them. His ideas certainly do not seem borrowed from them, nor from any other artists. He spent a long time in meditating on his subject, and was accustomed to consider his picture completed when he had finished his studies for it; so little time and trouble did it cost him to embody his ideas in colours. Having been ordained a priest about his fortieth year, and becoming curate of S. Ansano in Mugello, he executed some pictures truly valuable, both on account of the rarity of his works and their excellence, for the neighbouring town of S. Lorenzo. Above all, we may notice with admiration a S. Francis receiving the Stigmata, and a Conception of the Blessed Virgin, in which, elevated above mortality, she appears soaring and resplendent. But his great name in Italy arose from his cabinet pictures, which are rare out of Florence, and in Florence are highly esteemed, though considerable numbers of them remain there. His Hylas carried away by the Nymphs, which he painted for the family of Galli, and in which he introduced noble figures that are grandly [Pg 306]varied, is highly celebrated; not to mention the three Graces of the Strozzi palace, and the many historical pieces and half-length figures dispersed through the city that are unnoticed in his life. They chiefly consist of nymphs, or of Magdalens, no less naked than the nymphs; for Furini was a very expert painter of delicate flesh, but not one of the most modest. Furini must have had a great number either of pupils or imitators, as his pictures for private houses before mentioned, which were copied, are of frequent occurrence in Florence. They are often of a dusky hue, through the defect of their ground, and Simone Pignone is made, often erroneously so, their most common author. He was Francesco's best pupil; very delicate in the colours of his fleshes, as we may judge from the altar-piece of B. Bernardo Tolomei, at Monte Oliveto, where the Virgin and the Infant are coloured very beautifully in the flesh, if not handsome in their features. His picture of St. Louis, king of France, at S. Felicità, is still more celebrated. It was much commended by Giordano, and the artist received five hundred crowns for its execution. In the first volume of Lettere Pittoriche we are informed, that Maratta only esteemed Gabbiani and Pignone among all the Florentine painters of his time. He was also praised by Bellini in the work entitled Bucchereide, where he coins a new term for Pignone, (a liberty extremely common among our jocose poets,) I know not how far susceptible of imitation in another tongue: "È l'arcipittorissimo de' buoni."

[Pg 307]Lorenzo Lippi, like his friend Salvator Rosa, divided his hours between poetry and painting. His Malmantile Racquistato,[219] which is a model of Tuscan purity of language,[220] is a work less read perhaps, but more elegant than the satires of Salvator; and is sprinkled with those graceful Florentine idioms that are regarded as the Attic salt of Italy. In looking for a prototype among the artists of his own school, guided by similarity of genius, he made choice of Santi di Tito. A delineator of the passions sufficiently accorded with the genius of the poet, and a painter of the choicest design was highly congenial to so elegant a writer. He, however, added to his style a greater force of colouring; and in drapery he followed the practice of some Lombard masters and of Baroccio, in modelling the folds in paper, a practice of which their works retain some traces. The delicacy of pencil, the clearness, harmony, and to sum up all, the good taste, pervading his pictures, demonstrate that he had a feeling of natural beauty superior to most of his contemporaries. His master admired him, and said, with a liberality not always to be found among history painters, "Lorenzo, thou art more knowing than I." His pictures are not very rare at Florence, although he resided far from it for many years, for he was painter to the court of [Pg 308]Inspruck. A Crucifixion, among his best performances, is in the ducal gallery. The noble family of Arrighi possesses a S. Saverio recovering from the claws of a crab, the Crucifix which he had dropped into the sea. Baldinucci and the author of The Series of the most Illustrious Painters have spoken very highly of his Triumph of David, painted for the hall of Angiol Gaddi, who wished him to represent his eldest son as the son of Jesse, and his other sixteen children as the youths and virgins, that with songs and timbrels greet the victor, and hail the deliverance of Israel. In this celebrated piece, the artist was enabled to give full scope to his talent for portrait painting, and to the style approaching to nature, which he loved, without troubling himself about studied and artful embellishments. It was his maxim to write poetry as he spoke, and to paint what he observed.

Mario Balassi perfected himself under Passignano, and after the choicest examples of the Roman and other schools. He was an excellent copyist of the old masters, and a painter of invention above mediocrity. Some of his small historical pictures, and a few pieces representing eatables, are to be met with in private houses; and, above all, there are many of his half-length figures finely coloured and relieved. In his old age he changed his manner, and retouched as many of the works of his youth as he could lay his hands on; but in striving to improve, he only injured them.

Francesco Boschi, the nephew and scholar of [Pg 309]Rosselli, was an excellent portrait painter. In the cloister of All Saints, where his uncle Fabrizio also painted, there are some of his portraits that seem absolutely alive, and are executed in fresco so admirably, that they clearly shew the school from which he proceeded. He finished some pieces in oil, that were left imperfect by the death of Rosselli, and painted others entirely his own, the subjects of which were chiefly religious, where the countenances are strikingly expressive of probity and sanctity. As he grew older he assumed the ecclesiastical habit, and sustained its dignity by his exemplary conduct, the account of which Baldinucci has extended at some length. During twenty-four years in which he lived a priest, he did not resign his pencil; but he employed it less frequently, and generally less successfully, than in his youth. His elder brother Alfonso promised much, and even attained a great deal, though cut off in early life.

The style of Jacopo Vignali has some resemblance to that of Guercino, but less in the forms than in the dark shadows and the grounds. He is amongst those scholars of Rosselli who are seldom mentioned, although he painted more than any of the rest for the prince and the state. He often is weak, especially in attitude; often, however, he appears praiseworthy, as in the two pictures at S. Simone, and in the S. Liborio, which is possessed by the Missionaries. He is most conspicuous in fresco painting, with which he ornamented the chapel of the Bonarruoti. He painted good historical pictures [Pg 310]in the palaces of many of the nobility, and he even boasts noble pupils, none of whom did so much honour to his memory as Carlo Dolci.

Dolci holds the same rank in the Florentine, that Sassoferrato holds in the Roman school. Both, though destitute of great powers of invention, obtained great reputation for Madonnas and similar small subjects, which have now become extremely valuable; for the wealthy, desirous of possessing pictures, at once estimable and religious, to hang up in their oratories, have brought those two masters into great request, notwithstanding that they operated on very different principles. Carlo is not so celebrated for beauty, (for he was like his master, a mere naturalist,) as for the exquisite pains with which he finished every thing, and the genuine expression of certain affecting emotions; such as the patient suffering of Christ, or of the Virgin Mary; the penitential compunction of a Saint, or the holy confidence of a Martyr devoting himself as a victim for the living God. The colouring and general tone of his pictures accord with the idea of the passion; nothing is turgid or bold; all is modesty, repose, and placid harmony. In him we may retrace the manner of Rosselli brought to perfection, as we sometimes can view the features of the grandsire in his descendants. A few of his larger works still remain, such as the S. Antonio, in the royal museum; the Conception of our Lady, in the possession of the Marquis Rinuccini; also a very few of his subjects from profane story, a [Pg 311]few of his portraits, and the celebrated figure of Poetry in the palace of Prince Corsini. His small pictures, for each of which he usually received 100 crowns, are very numerous; and were frequently repeated by himself or by his pupils, Alessandro Lomi and Bartolommeo Mancini; and often by Agnese Dolci, his daughter, a good artist and follower of the style of her father; but not his equal. His two Madonnas in the cabinet of the Grand Duke, and his martyrdom of S. Andrew, in the possession of the Marquis Gerini, have been often copied.

Of Onorio Marinari, the cousin and scholar of Carlo, but few pictures remain at Florence, either in private or in public. After imitating his master, (which usually is the first exercise of students in the art, and often, from dissimilarity of genius, is their great bane,) he formed another style, by yielding to the bent of his natural powers; which was more grand, had more of the ideal, and deeper shadows; and of this several specimens remain in the churches of S. Maria Maggiore, and S. Simone. This artist died young, very unfortunately for the school to which he belonged.

About the period we have been describing, some foreign artists resided at Florence for a considerable time, to the no small advantage of the native painters, as we have already observed. Paggi came there in the reign of the Grand Duke Francis I., remained there twenty years, and left some works behind him. About the same time Salvator Rosa, Albani, Borgognone, Colonna, Mitelli, and many [Pg 312]more, either invited by the princes from abroad, or coming there of their own accord, were retained by them for the decoration of the palace and the city. We shall consider them particularly under the schools of the countries where they were born, or in which they taught; but here we shall give a place to Jacopo Ligozzi, whom the Florentine school may claim on account of his residence, his employment, and his scholars. He had studied at Verona under Paolo Veronese, according to Baldinucci; but under Gio. Francesco Carrotto, according to the emendation of Maffei, without reflecting that this artist died when Jacopo was scarcely three years old. Some foreign writers make him the son of Gio. Ermanno, the painter; a circumstance unknown to Cav. del Pozzo, the townsman and historian of them both. Ferdinand II. appointed him painter to the court, and superintendant of the gallery. This was very honourable, when conferred by such a prince on him, in preference to many eminent Florentines. Ligozzi executed some works at Rome, and introduced at Florence a freedom of pencil, an art in composition, a taste for the ornamental, and a grace and gaiety, till then rare in that city. His design was sufficiently correct, and uniformly improved while he remained in Tuscany. As to his colouring, although it was not that of Paolo, it was not deficient in truth and vigour.

His seventeen semicircular pictures in the cloisters of All Saints, are valued at Florence; especially [Pg 313]the interview between S. Francis and S. Domenick, the founders of the order. On this picture he wrote, To the confusion of our friends, meaning the envious and malignant. This is his masterpiece in fresco. He painted more frequently in oil colours in several churches. The S. Raymond in the act of reanimating a child, in S. Maria Novella, is a picture full of art; and there is another in the same style at the Scalzi of Imola, representing the four Crowned Saints. The martyrdom of S. Dorothea, I do not hesitate to call a wonderful picture; in which we recognize a follower of Paolo, and which is in possession of the Conventual Friars of Pescia. The scaffold, the executioner, the Prefect on horseback who is ordering him to strike, the great crowd of spectators variously affected, and all the apparatus of a public punishment, strike and astonish equally the connoisseur and the unskilled in painting; the holy martyr especially interests us, who, on her knees, with a placid composure, willingly resigns her life, and is about to receive from angels the eternal crown purchased with her blood. In other performances he shews more simplicity, as in the S. Diego at All Saints, or in the Angels at the P. P. Scolopi; but he is an artist who always pleases, and who shews that he felt what he painted. Ligozzi painted much for private individuals. In his very small pictures, a style in which he was expert, he finished as highly as if they were miniatures. Several of his works were published by Agostino Caracci, and other engravers.

None of his Florentine pupils is esteemed equal[Pg 314] to Donato Mascagni, for such was his real name, which may be seen subscribed to two Scriptural pieces, in possession of Sig. Ab. Giachi, at Volterra. Having entered the order of Servi, he assumed the name of Fra Arsenio; and several of his works painted after that period are to be seen in Florence, executed in a manner not very full and soft, but diligent; of which there are several other specimens in his Miracles of the Nunziata, which are engraved and illustrated in the little work of Padre Lottini. What does him greatest honour is the picture preserved in the library of the monastery of Vallombrosa. It represents the donation of the State of Ferrara to the Holy Seat, by the Countess Matilda, as is believed by some, or rather the distribution of some privileges by her to the order of Vallombrosa, and is a picture full of subject, and the chief glory of this master.

In casting our eyes over other cities of Tuscany, we find some painters very capable of decorating houses and altars. Francesco Morosini, surnamed Montepulciano, may be recognized in the church of S. Stephen, of Florence, where he painted a Conversion of S. Paul, in the manner of his master Fidani. Arezzo produced the two Santini. Of one of them, there named the Elder, several pictures were pointed out to me by the accomplished Cav. Giudici; among which was a S. Catherine, in possession of the Conventual Friars: it savours of the Florentine manner during this epoch; except that the use of changing tints is more frequent. Bartolommeo and Teofilo Torre, of Arezzo, are[Pg 315] noticed as fresco painters by Orlandi, who mentions halls, and even whole houses, being ornamented by the latter with historical pieces; which, if deficient in design, he praises for their colouring. Francesco Brini left a good picture of the Immaculate Conception, at Volterra: of his country and school I am ignorant. I do not know the master of Pompeo Caccia; it is certain that he called himself a native of Rome, perhaps because it is easy to substitute the capital, so well known, for places in the state of less notoriety. In Rome, however, I do not find any traces of him. I find, indeed, that he left several pictures at Pistoja; among which is the Presentation (at the Selesiane) of Jesus in the Temple, to which is affixed the date 1615. Alessandro Bardelli was a native of Pescia; in his style we find traces of his preceptor Curradi and of Guercino. He was a good painter, and executed the ornamental border for the portrait of S. Francis, painted by Margaritone, for his church in Pescia: he represented around it the virtues of the Saint, and a choir of Angels above. I am doubtful whether we should include Alessio Gimignani, one of a family of artists in Pistoia, to be recorded in the fifth epoch, among the pupils of Ligozzi, but he was undoubtedly his follower.

About this period two schools arose, highly deserving of notice, those of Pisa and of Lucca. The Pisan school recognizes as its founder, Aurelio Lomi, first a scholar of Bronzino, and afterwards of Cigoli. His very correct performances, in the[Pg 316] cathedral of Pisa, are executed after both masters; but when compared to Cigoli he is more minute, and has much less softness. His aim appears to be to surprise the multitude by an agreeable colouring, and a magnificence of draperies and ornaments. This style pleased at Florence, in Rome, and more especially at Genoa, where he was preferred to Sorri, many years established and in good repute. His works in that city are very full of subject; as his S. Anthony, belonging to the Franciscans, and his Last Judgment, in S. Maria of Carignano; pictures which surprise by an air of novelty: the first is graceful, rich, but modest in the tints; the second terrible, and the colours more vivid than those he employed on any other occasion. A S. Jerome, in the Campo Santo, is less glowing, but it is esteemed by the Pisans his capital work; at the bottom of this piece he put his initials and the date 1595.

He most probably taught the principles of the art to his brother, Orazio Lomi; who was called Gentileschi, from the surname of an uncle. Gentileschi formed his style, however, on the finest examples in Rome, assisted by his friend Agostino Tassi. Tassi was an eminent ornamental landscape painter, and Gentileschi executed appropriate figures to his inventions in the Loggia Rospigliosi, in the saloon of the Quirinal palace, and in other places. He also painted some smaller pictures in Rome, particularly at the Pace, from which we cannot ascertain his merit, either because they were performances of his unripe years, or [Pg 317]because they have become black from age. He had not then attained the beautiful colouring, nor the Lombard-like manner of managing the shadows, which we observe in many of his cabinet pictures. A fine specimen, representing S. Cecilia with S. Valerian, is in the Borghesi palace. The choicest adorn the royal palace of Turin, and some houses in Genoa. In the collection of his Excellency Cardinal Cambiasi, there is a David standing over the dead Goliath; so relieved, and with tints so vivid and so well contrasted, that it gives the idea of a style entirely new. He was esteemed by Vandyck, and inserted by him in his series of portraits of one hundred illustrious men. When already old he went to the English court, where he died at the age of eighty-four.

Artemisia, his daughter and disciple, followed her father into that island; but she passed her best years in Italy. She was respected for her talents, and celebrated for the elegance of her manners and appearance. She is noticed both by Italian and foreign writers, and by Walpole among the latter, in his Anecdotes of Painting in England. She lived long at Naples, married there a Pier Antonio Schiattesi; and was there assisted and improved in the art by Guido Reni, studied the works of Domenichino, and was not unskilled in other approved styles. She shews variety of style in her few remaining historical pictures. Some of them are at Naples and Pozzuolo, and there are two in Florence inscribed with her name; one in the ducal gallery, and the other in possession of [Pg 318]my noble and learned friend Sig. Averardo de' Medici; the former representing Judith slaying Holofernes, is a picture of a strong colouring, of a tone and perspicuity that inspires awe; the latter, a Susanna and the Elders, is a painting that pleases by the scene, the elegance of the principal figure, and the drapery of the others. Artemisia, however, was more celebrated for her portraits, which are of singular merit; they spread her fame over all Europe, and in them she surpassed her father.

Orazio Riminaldi was a scholar of the elder Lomi in Pisa, and of the younger in Rome, but imitated neither of them; from the beginning he gave himself up to the guidance of Manfredi, in the manner of Caravaggio, and afterwards became a follower of Domenico Zampieri, to rival whom he seems intended by nature. From the time that the art of painting revived in Pisa, that city had not perhaps so eminent a painter, nor have many better been born on the banks of the Arno, a soil so propitious to the arts. Grand in contour and in drapery, after the manner of the Caracci, pleasing and agreeable in his carnations, full, free, and delicate in the management of his pencil, he would have been faultless, had not the wretched style of engraving raised prejudices against him. Excessive fatigue, or, as others will have it, the plague of 1630, snatched him in early life from his country; for the fame of which alone he seems to have lived to maturity. He there ornamented many altars with fine pictures, one of which representing the martyrdom of S. Cecilia, was afterwards placed in[Pg 319] the Pitti palace. In the choir of the cathedral there are two of his scriptural pieces, that form a perfect study for any one who wishes to become acquainted with this epoch. The judgment of the master of the works was conspicuous in engaging Riminaldi to paint the cupola, even before he had finished the above pictures, and in making choice of him in preference to any other artist. The Assumption of the Virgin Mary, which he painted in oil, is one of the best conceived and most perfect works that Tuscany had ever beheld, and it was the last labour of Orazio. His brother Girolamo completed it feebly, by introducing some figures that were wanting, and the family received 5,000 crowns as its price. Girolamo is rarely to be met with in Pisan collections, and still more rarely in other places. He was, however, well known in his day, having been invited to Naples to ornament the chapel of S. Gennaro, and to the court of Paris by the queen.

From among many Pisan artists of this period recorded by Sig. da Morrona, or Sig. Tempesti, we shall select some of the most considerable. Ercole Bezzicaluva is worthy of notice, both for his engravings and his picture representing various saints in the choir of St. Stephen's at Pisa. So likewise is Gio. del Sordo, otherwise called Mone da Pisa; but his colouring seems superior to his invention. Zaccaria Rondinosi, I believe, of the Florentine school, was more skilled in ornamental than in any other branch of painting. He repaired the pictures [Pg 320]in the Campo Santo, and on that account was honoured by the citizens with a tomb there, and near it an inscription on the marble. I know not whether any picture of Arcangela Paladini, an excellent embroiderer, except her own portrait, has reached our times. It was hung in the ducal gallery among the portraits of illustrious painters: to be deposited in such a place, and to remain there from 1621, is an unequivocal proof of its merit; since it is the custom of the place not lightly to refuse the portraits of tolerably good painters, but to keep them there as if only lodgers, and then send them to some villa of the prince, when new guests arrive, to take a place in the cabinets which are named de' Pittori. Gio. Stefano Marucelli, both an engineer and a painter, was not born in Pisa, but he may be reckoned a Pisan from his long residence and attachment to the place. Having come from Umbria into Tuscany, according to the tradition of the Pisans, he became a pupil of Boscoli, and remaining at Pisa, he contended with the celebrated artists whom we have noticed as employed from time to time in ornamenting the tribune of the cathedral. The Abraham entertaining the three angels is a work of his, commended for felicity of invention, and beauty of colouring. In the church of S. Nicolas at Pisa, there remains a memorial of Domenico Bongi of Pietrasanta, who was a follower of Perino del Vaga. He flourished in 1582.

The series of the principal artists of Lucca commences [Pg 321]with Paol Biancucci, the best scholar of Guido Reni, whose grace and full power of colour he has imitated in many of his works. He sometimes so strongly resembles Sassoferrato as to be mistaken for him. The Purgatory which he painted at Suffragio, the picture representing various saints which he left at the church of S. Francis, two in possession of the noble family of Boccella, and many others scattered over the city, are of such merit, that Malvasia should have noticed him among the pupils of Guido, which he has not done. He has also omitted Pietro Ricchi of Lucca, who went to Bologna from the school of Passignano. It is true that the preceptorship of Guido is in this instance doubtful, though Baldinucci and Orlandi both assert it: for Boschini, who was his intimate friend, says not a word upon the matter, merely observing that Ricchi regretted he had not studied in Venice. It is certain he frequently imitated the forms of Guido; but in colouring and design adhered to the manner of Passignano; he also imbibed the principles of the Venetian school, as we shall relate in the proper place. Two of his pictures are preserved at the church of S. Francis in Lucca, and some others remain in private hands; small remains of a genius very fertile in invention, and of a hand most rapid and almost indefatigable in execution. He painted in several cities of France, in the Milanese, and still more in the Venetian states, where he died at Udine, in the MS. guide to which place he is often named.

[Pg 322]Pietro Paolini long lived and taught at Lucca; he was a pupil of the Roman school, as history informs us; but to judge from his works one would pronounce him of the Venetian. In Rome he frequented the study of Angelo Caroselli, who was by education a follower of Caravaggio, but exceedingly expert in copying and imitating every style. Under him Paolini acquired a manner that shews good drawing, broad shadows, and firm touches, compared by some to the style of Titian, and by others to that of Pordenone: one also remarks in his works undoubted imitations of Veronese. The martyrdom of S. Andrew, that exists at S. Michele, and the grand picture, sixteen cubits long, preserved in the library of S. Frediano, would be sufficient to immortalize a painter. In this he represented the pontiff S. Gregory, entertaining some pilgrims; it is a magnificent picture, ornamented in the style of Veronese, with plate and architectural perspective, full of figures, and possessing a variety, harmony, and beauty, that have induced many poets to extol it as a wonderful production. His cabinet pictures of conversations and rural festivals, which are not rare at Lucca, are exquisite. Two, of the Massacre of Valdestain, belonging to the Orsetti family, were especially commended by Baldinucci. The historian remarks that he had a particular talent for such tragic themes, and in general for the energetic; he admires him less in the delicate, and even accuses him of marking the action of his female figures [Pg 323]too strongly. That he could however be very pleasing when he inclined, we are led to believe from his large work in the church of the Trinity; which he is said to have conducted in this graceful style, to demonstrate that he was not inferior to his rival Biancucci.

It is uncertain whether Pietro Testa, called at Rome Il Lucchesino, was his disciple; but it appears highly probable, when his age is compared with that of Paolini, that he learnt from the latter the principles of the art, which he had undoubtedly acquired in Lucca before he came to Rome. He there had several masters, and was chiefly under Pietro da Cortona, from whose school he was expelled, because he treated the maxims of the master with contempt. He then put himself under Domenichino, on whose principles, says Passeri, he gloried to rely; but his style, in his own despite, at times approaches nearly to that of Cortona. He has also some resemblance to his friend Poussin, both in his figures (which at one time he made too slender), in his landscapes, and in his study of the antique, of which he was deeply enamoured; having applied himself to designing the finest specimens in architecture and in sculpture that Rome afforded. In this branch he is excellent. The death of B. Angelo, placed in S. Martino a' Monti, a picture of great force, is the only piece before the public. Testa is more frequently recognized in galleries: there is a Joseph sold to the Ishmaelites by him in the capitol; a Murder of the Innocents, in the [Pg 324]Spada palace; but there are not many of his pictures elsewhere; for he engraved more than he painted.[221] He left some oil paintings at Lucca, one in a feeble style at S. Romano, several at S. Paolino, in the Buonvisi gallery, and in other places, in his best manner. Two of his works in fresco remain there; viz. the allegorical picture of Liberty in the senate house, and the small very elegant cupola of the oratory in the Lippi palace. He settled at Rome, where he lived unhappily, and either from despair, or some affront, drowned himself in the Tiber. His fate may teach young artists of genius not to overrate their own talents, nor to despise those of others. By these failings, Testa alienated the minds of his contemporaries, so that neither in reputation nor in employment was he so successful as many others; and his perpetual complaints occasioned doubts even of his sanity.

Omitting some scholars of Paolini less addicted to his manner, we shall notice the three brothers, Cassiano, Francesco, and Simone del Tintore. I find nothing recorded of the first that exalts him above mediocrity; and when one meets with an indifferent picture of the school of Paolini, it is ascribed to Cassiano, or some such pupil; or sometimes [Pg 325]to the dotage of Paolini, when he produced sketches rather than paintings. Francesco is recognized as an able artist in the Visitation, in the apartments of his excellency the Gonfaloniere; and in some pieces in the Motroni collection. Simone was expert in depicting birds, fruit, and other objects in the inferior walks of the art, to which, as I usually do at the end of each epoch, I shall here devote a few pages.

And to pursue this pleasing branch of painting, I may observe that Angiol Gori and Bartolommeo Bimbi of Florence, distinguished themselves in fruit, and more especially in flowers: the second was the scholar of the first in this line, and of Lippi in figures. Lippi himself induced Andrea Scacciati to abandon figures for fruit and flowers, and animals, in which department he succeeded well, and sent many pictures into foreign countries. Bimbi was the Mario of his school. He instructed Fortini, whom we shall notice by and by along with Moro, a painter of flowers and animals. All these gave place to Lopez of Naples, who visited Florence in his journeys through Italy, and shall be afterwards mentioned.

The art of painting landscapes, and their introduction into collections, began during this epoch: the first style that became fashionable at Florence was that of Adriano Fiammingo: but Cristofano Allori excelled all by the neat and firm touch of his pencil, and by the exquisite figures which he introduced into his landscapes. Guasparre Falgani [Pg 326]surpassed him in the number of such subjects: he was initiated in the art by Valerio Marucelli, and imitated by Giovanni Rosi, and Benedetto Boschi, the brother and fellow student of Francesco. The landscapes of this age have often their greens changed into black; and are reckoned of the old school by Baldinucci. The new style was introduced into Florence by Filippo d'Angeli, or Philip the Neapolitan, who was long retained at the court of Cosmo II; but chiefly by Salvator Rosa. This artist was brought to Florence by Cardinal Gio. Carlo, and remained there for seven years; where in the capacity of painter, poet, and author of comedies, he was constantly applauded for his fine genius, and his society courted by men of learning; with whom, in every department of letters, the country then abounded. He formed no pupils at that place, but many young men there became his copyists and imitators; as Taddeo Baldini, Lorenzo Martelli, and many others. Antonio Giusti, a pupil of Cesare Dandini, was particularly skilled in this art; but he likewise practised every other branch of painting; and Orlandi has described him as an universal painter. Signor da Morrona notices the Poli, two brothers, who executed many pleasing landscapes, which are known in the collections of Florence and of Pisa.

Passing from landscape to sea-views, I do not find any Tuscan who in this respect equalled Pietro Ciafferi, otherwise called Lo Smargiasso,[222] and recorded [Pg 327]among the Pisan artists. It is said that he resided long at Leghorn, a place well suited to his genius. He there decorated façades of houses with disembarkations and naval enterprizes; and of such subjects, ports, sea-coasts, and ships, he composed oil paintings, that are usually highly finished, and ornamented with small figures, well designed and fancifully draped. He likewise succeeded greatly in architectural views. Leghorn and Pisa are rich in his easel pictures; and one in possession of Sig. Decano Zucchetti of this place bears the name of the artist and the date 1651.

Perspective was much cultivated at Florence about this period; and the Bolognese had carried it to a degree of excellence, that will claim attention in the proper place. Lessons in it were given by Giulio Parigi, an excellent architect; and afterwards by Baccio del Bianco, who became engineer to his Catholic Majesty Philip IV. Their theoretic views were seconded by the example of Colonna, who came to Florence in 1638, along with Mitelli, a native of that place, and remained six years in the service of the court. After this period Florence produced many painters of cabinet pieces, and in the ornamental line, or rather a new school of painting was founded by Jacomo Chiavistelli, a painter of sound and more chaste taste than was common in that age. One may form an idea of him in several churches, and in many saloons in the city; as for instance, in that of the Cerretani palace, which is among his most elegant works.[Pg 328] He likewise painted for cabinets, where his perspective pieces are frequently to be met with. Orlandi notices his most considerable pupils, Rinaldo Botti, and his cousin Lorenzo del Moro,[223] Benedetto Fortini, and Giuseppe Tonelli, who also studied at Bologna. To these may be added, Angiol Gori, Giuseppe Masini, and others who assisted him about 1658, in painting the corridore of the ducal gallery, which is not their best performance. I find in the anecdotes of Mondina and Alboresi, edited by Malvasia, that Antonio Ruggieri contended with them in Florence: he was, I believe, a scholar of Vannini, and a S. Andrew by him exists in the church of S. Michele, in Berteldi, now commonly called S. Gaetano. Nor were these the only artists capable of introducing figures into their perspective pieces; but a great many of the painters in fresco were, if we may say so, ambidexter, for each could paint perspectives and figures at the same time.

Portrait painting, the school of the best artists who aspire to fidelity of representation, was greatly promoted by Passignano, who instructed Filippo Furini, surnamed Sciameroni, the father of the celebrated Francesco. He also taught the art to Domenico and Valore Casini, two brothers celebrated [Pg 329]by Baldinucci: Valore was remarkable for a free pencil, and was a faithful copyist of every lineament. The capital is filled with his portraits. Cristofano Allori painted portraits, both on commission and for exercising his hand in the delineation of the most beautiful forms. His portraits on canvass are reckoned valuable, even when the subjects are not known: this is the case with that in possession of the senator Orlandini; and some on small pieces of copper, in the grand Medicean collection. Cerrini, among his disciples, followed his steps; he is, I think, also admitted into that museum. Giovanni Batista Stefaneschi, a monk of Monte Senario, a scholar of Comodi, and an excellent miniature painter, was conspicuous among the painters of portraits and copyists.

Justus Subtermans, a native of Antwerp, who was educated by William de Vos, was also greatly admired. Having fixed his residence at Florence, in the time of Cosmo II., he was retained by the court to the end of the reign of Cosmo III.; and went to other princes in Germany and Italy, who were ambitious of having a specimen of a portrait painter, esteemed little inferior to Vandyck. He was much esteemed by the latter, who requested his portrait, prefacing his request by sending him his own. Peter Paul Rubens likewise honoured him, and presented him with one of his own historical pictures, regarding him as an honour to their country. Subtermans painted all the living members of the Medicean family, in a variety of attitudes;[Pg 330] and when Ferdinand II. ascended the throne, while still a young man, Subtermans executed a stupendous picture, wholly composed of portraits. He represented in it the ceremony of swearing allegiance to the new sovereign; and pourtrayed him not only with his mother and grandmother, but the senators and nobility who were present. This picture was very large: it has been engraved on copper and still remains in the gallery. The artist had a neatness and elegance of pencil that appeared extraordinary even in the school to which he belonged; and possessed moreover a peculiar talent of ennobling every countenance without injuring the likeness. It was his practice to study the peculiar and characteristic air of the person, and to impart it to his work; so that when he would sometimes conceal the face of a portrait, the bystanders could with certainty tell whom it represented, from the disposition of the hands and the figure.

Jacopo Borgognone remained long in Florence, and was highly respected by Prince Matthias; whose military achievements in Germany and in Italy, and the places where they happened, he represented to the life, as an historian would have described them. This artist's battle-pieces are not rare in Florence; but I do not know that he had any pupils in that place. The person who promoted most the imitation of Jacopo, and whose works are everywhere, was Pandolfo Reschi, of Danzig, who was one of his best scholars; eminent [Pg 331]in landscape in the style of Salvator Rosa, and in architectural subjects. In the hands of Dr. Viligiardi, I saw a picture by him, with a view of the Pitti palace, and the additions to it then wanting; but which were afterwards supplied by the Austrian princes, to the great ornament of the royal residence. Those additions were from a design of Giacinta Marmi; but the whole picture was the work of Pandolfo. He enlivened it with figures, and excites surprise by the whole, excepting the distribution of the light and shadow, in which he is not so happy. One Santi Rinaldi, surnamed Il Tromba,[224] a painter of battle-pieces and of landscapes, formed himself under Furini: he was contemporary with Pandolfo; but is less known in Florence.

Baccio del Bianco, having become a good designer and tolerable painter in the school of Bilivert, went into Germany with Pieroni, the imperial architect and engineer, from whom he learnt perspective. He afterwards taught it with applause in Florence, as we have said; and did not omit to exercise his pencil, especially in fresco. Naturally facetious, he became distinguished by his burlesques, which, for the most part, were only designed with the pen. He coloured some small oil pictures of much force, which were portraits in the style of the Caracci, and sometimes painted freaks of scaramouches, and similar abortions of nature.

[Pg 332]Gio. Batista Brazze, called Il Bigio,[225] a scholar of Empoli, employed his genius in another branch of the capricious style: it consisted of what appeared human figures when seen at a distance, but a nearer approach shewed them to be composed of different sorts of fruit, or machines, artfully arranged. Baldinucci reckons him the inventor of this art; but to me it appears, that prior examples may be found in the Milanese school, in which I treat of them fully at the end of the second epoch.

Lastly, mosaic work in hard stone owes its rise in Florence to this epoch; and after gradually improving during two centuries, is now everywhere known as a work of this capital, and almost exclusively its own. In a letter of Teofilo Gallaccini,[226] we read that this species of mosaic "had been invented in Florence, in the time of Ferdinand I.;" an assertion which is not true. Before that period it flourished in Lombardy. The Carthusian Monastery of Pavia had in its pay a family of the name of Sacchi; which has existed there to our own times, and has filled the great church with this kind of mosaic. There are specimens of it in Milan of very ancient date. In that place Giacomo da Trezzo, who executed the tabernacle for the church of the Escurial, which is esteemed the most beautiful and magnificent in Christendom,[227] received [Pg 333]his instruction. About the time of Cosmo I., Florence herself witnessed the rudiments of this art in a "small picture composed of gems" which she possessed, as is recorded by Vasari.[228] A similar one was executed for Francis I., from a design of Vasari, by Bernardino di Porfirio of Leccio, (a district of the Florentine state) "composed of oriental alabaster, and large slabs of jasper, heliotrope, cornelian, lapis lazzuli, agate, and other stones and gems, which they estimate at 20,000 crowns." But pictures so wrought in large pieces, were not of that perfect kind of mosaic that contained a vast variety of colours and middle tints. Such are executed in every shade of colour, from the natural stains of the stone itself; and the tints are lowered, heightened, and managed, so as almost to rival painting. For this purpose, every species of hard stone is collected and sawed; innumerable colours are thence selected, graduating from the deepest to the lightest shade, which are kept ready for use. This art was in request at Milan; where, on account of the vicinity of Alpine countries abounding in every species of hard stone, it arrived at great perfection. Francesco I. meditating the erection of the magnificent chapel for the sepulture of the royal family, in the church of S. Lorenzo, and the ornamenting it with urns and altars wrought in [Pg 334]hard stone, invited Giovanni Bianchi from that city to his court, in the year 1580, and committed the works in mosaic to his direction. Soon after Ferdinando ascended the throne, and the new art gained ground under him; it was promoted by Constantino de' Servi, and afterwards by other artists, who progressively improved it. The tables, cabinets, and coffers, small landscapes, and architectural pieces which were there executed, and sent as presents to princes, are dispersed over Europe. In one cabinet of the ducal gallery there is an exquisite octagonal table, the round central piece of which was designed by Poccetti, and the ornamental border by Ligozzi. Jacopo Autelli executed the work, on which, with numerous assistants, he was employed for sixteen years, and finished it in 1649. In the cabinet of cameos and engraved gems, there are figures in mezzo-relievo, and entire little statues in hard stone, fabricated by the same company of artists; not to mention what is in the Pitti palace and the church of S. Lorenzo. A similar company still exists, under the direction of the Signori Siries, and abounding in subordinate artists, which is supported with royal magnificence by the prince, for whom it is constantly employed.

[212] The new style began in the reign of Francesco I., who was greatly skilled in design, which he had learnt of Buontalenti. He was succeeded by Ferdinando I., Cosmo II., Ferdinando II., all of them celebrated for their magnificent works in ornamenting the city and the palace: Cardinals Gio. Carlo and Leopoldo de' Medici also flourished there, both of them patrons of the arts; and the latter is recorded in history for his knowledge of them, and the splendid collection which he formed. We may add to these Prince Mattia, and others of that family.

[213] He was born in 1624, and died in 1692, leaving materials for the completion of the work, which were afterwards arranged by Saverio, his son, a gentleman of the law, who put the finishing hand to the whole. Piacenza. Ristretto della Vita di Filippo Baldinucci, p. xvi.

[214] In this branch of the art, indeed, he was not so greatly skilled; and the Cav. Titi, after commending his Assumption, which is exhibited in the entablature of the cathedral at Leghorn, adds, that not having been conducted according to the rules of foreshortening, some exceptions may be made to it.

[215] There is a Visitation by this artist, and inscribed with his name, in the church of S. Anthony of Pisa, which he executed in a weak style in 1606.

[216] In the great saloon he has poetically represented the protection afforded to literature by Lorenzo de' Medici. With some licences peculiar to that age, and usual with him, the composition and the figures are very beautiful; and there is an imitation of basso-relievo in his painting, that would deceive the most skilful, and tempt them to believe it absolutely raised from the wall. This work, left imperfect by him, was completed by Pagani, by Montelatici, and by Furini, with some semicircular pieces.

[217] This is expressed by the Italians by "il possesso del sotto in su." Tr.

[218] See tom. ii. of Signor Giachi, p. 202.

[219] The Ragged Cloak recovered.

[220] It was published with notes by Dr. Paolo Minucci, and was reprinted with other illustrations of Sig. Antonio Biscioni.

[221] Passeri, a great admirer of his tints, pronounces him a master of invention; and, treating of his engravings, says, "such vigour of conception, such novelty, and such variety, were never the gift of any other artist. He is a poet in all his historic pieces, his composition is full of fancy; this, however, is not equally commended by all, who look for the simple action without other accessaries."

[222] The Bully.

[223] Botti is pronounced a famous fresco painter by Magalotti, in Lett. Pitt. tom. v. p. 229. There are various mechanical works of Lorenzo. He painted the whole ceiling of the church of the Domenicans at Fiesole, which was considered by Conca among the respectable productions of his age.

[224] The Trumpet.

[225] The Swarthy.

[226] Lett. Pitt. tom. i. p. 308.

[227] The Ab. Conca, tom. ii. p. 53, writes of this artist, that with this and similar works he acquired so much reputation in Madrid, that the name of a principal street in which he lived was borrowed from his; from the time of Philip II. it has been called Jacome Trezzo.

[228] Tom. viii. p. 156.

[Pg 335]



Pietro da Cortona and his followers.

After the middle of the seventeenth century, the Florentine school, and also that of Rome, underwent a remarkable revolution, occasioned by the vast number of the followers of Pietro da Cortona. Sects in painting have the same fate as sects in philosophy: one succeeds another; and the new principles are propagated more or less rapidly, according to the degree of opposition they have to encounter where they happen to be diffused. The manner of Cortona met with considerable opposition in Rome, as we shall find in the proper place. He was invited to Florence by Ferdinand II. about the year 1640, to ornament some of the apartments of the Pitti palace; and this work, in which he spent several years, has appeared to connoisseurs the most beautiful he ever performed. He was directed in this work by Michelangiolo Bonarruoti the younger, a literary man of great judgment; and Cortona appears also to display learning in the execution. In one apartment he painted the four ages of the world, which the poets of all nations have described in imitation of Hesiod; five other chambers were dedicated to [Pg 336]five fabulous deities, from whom they were named the chamber of Minerva, of Apollo, of Mars, of Jupiter, and of Mercury. He united the mythology of each with history. Thus, for instance, in the chamber of Apollo, he represents this patron of the fine arts on the ceiling in the act of receiving the young Hercules, who is introduced by Minerva, that he may be instructed; and on the walls he painted Alexander reading the works of Homer, Augustus listening to Virgil, and other similar stories, which are fully described by Passeri in his Life of Cortona. The great work was finished by Ciro Ferri; for after Cortona had begun the chamber of Mercury, on some disgust, which is variously related, he secretly withdrew from court, returned to Rome, and always declined when repeatedly invited to revisit Florence. There, however, he had laid the foundations of a new school. Baldinucci remarks on the style of Pietro, that it was no sooner seen at Florence, than praised by the best judges.[229] The predilection of Cosmo III. contributed to bring it into credit; this prince pensioned Ciro Ferri in Rome, that he might instruct the Tuscans who came there to study. At that time there was no artist of that country who did not, more or less, imitate this style. We shall now describe it, and trace it to its origin.

Pietro Berrettini, a native of Cortona, the scholar of Comodi in Tuscany, and of Ciarpi at [Pg 337]Rome, is mentioned also among the writers on the art.[230] He acquired his knowledge of design by copying antique basso-relievos, and the chiaroscuros of Polidoro, a man who appears inspired by the soul of an ancient. Pietro chose Trajan's column as his favourite study; and from it he may have drawn his heavy proportions, and the appearance of strength and robustness, that characterize even his female forms and his children: in their eyes, noses, and lips, he surpasses the medium standard; and their hands and feet are certainly not remarkable for their light elegance. But in contrast, or the art of opposing group to group, figure to figure, and part to part, in which he was distinguished, he appears to have followed Lanfranco, and partly to have formed it from the Bacchanalian vases, which are particularly mentioned in his life by Passeri. His taste may probably have been drawn, in some measure, from the Venetian school; since having gone to study there, and then returned to Rome, he destroyed what he had previously done, and executed his works anew in the Barberini palace, according to the account of Boschini, his great admirer. Generally speaking, he finishes nothing highly but what was intended to be most conspicuous; he [Pg 338]avoids strong shadows, is fond of middle tints, prefers the less brilliant grounds, colours without affectation, and is reckoned the inventor and chief artist of a style, which, in the opinion of Mengs, combines facility with taste. He employed it in pictures of all sizes with applause; but in painting of furniture, and still more on ceilings, in cupolas, and recesses, he carried it to a pitch of beauty which will never fail to procure him panegyrists and imitators. The judicious division of his historical compositions, which derives aid from the architecture, that skilful gradation by which he represents the immensity of aerial space beyond the clouds, his knowledge in the art of foreshortening what is seen from below, that play of light seemingly celestial, that symmetrical disposition of his figures, are circumstances which enchant the eye and fascinate the soul.

It is true that this manner does not always satisfy the mind; for intent on gratifying the eye, it introduces useless figures, in order that the composition may not be deficient in the usual fulness; and for the sake of contrast, figures in the performance of the gentlest actions, are painted as if the artist was representing them in a tournament or a battle. Gifted by nature with facility of genius, and no less judgment, Berrettini either avoided this extravagance, as in his stupendous Conversion of S. Paul, or did not carry it to that absurdity, which in our times has marked his followers, from the usual tendency of all schools to overcharge the characteristic [Pg 339]of their master. Hence the facility of this style has degenerated into negligence and its taste into affectation; until its chief adherents begin as at present to abandon it, and to adopt a superior manner.

But not to wander from the Florentine school, we must confess that this epoch has been the least productive of eminent painters. Pietro had some pupils at that place, who did him equal honour with the Romanelli and the Ferri at Rome. I shall first mention a foreigner, who having established himself at Florence, may be reckoned of that school. Livio Mehus, a native of Flanders, came into Tuscany from Milan, where he had received some instruction in the art from another Fleming, named Charles, was taken under the protection of Prince Matthias, and recommended to Berrettini, who gave him lessons for a little time both in Florence and at Rome. By copying the antique he became a good designer, and he studied colouring at Venice and in Lombardy. He retained little of the manner of Cortona besides the composition. He imitated the Venetians less in colouring, than in the light and firm touches of his pencil. His tints are modest, his attitudes lively, his shadows most beautiful, and his inventions ingenious. He painted few altar pieces, but many cabinet pictures, for he was pensioned by the prince, and employed by noble families, in whose houses his works are often to be met with. The historical picture of the Repose of Bacchus and Ariadne, which he painted for Marquis Gerini, in emulation of Ciro Ferri, is [Pg 340]very highly praised. Ferri conceived some jealousy of him, when he painted the cupola of the Pace at Florence; where he appears to approach the Lombard school, and even to surpass Cortona.[231] He was imitated by a Lorenzo Rossi, previously a scholar of Pier Dandini, who, according to P. Orlandi, executed some elegant small pictures.

Vincenzio Dandini went from the school of his brother Cesare into that of Cortona, or rather into the Roman school, where he copied, as well as he could, with unwearied assiduity, the finest specimens in painting, sculpture, and architecture. On this foundation, aided by practice in anatomy, at the academy for the naked figure, which still flourished at Florence, he became superior to his brother in design and in softness of colouring: he also finished more highly than Cesare, was more studious in his drapery, and in the other branches of the art. In All Saints there is a Conception of the Virgin, and three other pictures by his hand. He was employed in the ducal villas: in that of Poggio Imperiale he painted a beautifully foreshortened figure of Aurora, attended by the Hours, in a recess he had erected; and at Petraia painted in oil the Sacrifice of Niobe. In him the pupil of Cortona is very manifest. A similar style, but degenerated both in execution and in manner, is discoverable in Pietro, his son and scholar. This artist was superior to all the other Dandini; and by more extensive travels he obtained a greater knowledge of [Pg 341]foreign painters: it would have been well if he had not attempted to surpass them also in his emoluments. From avarice he undertook too many works, and contented himself with a certain mediocrity in study; for which he, in some measure compensated by a freedom of pencil that is always admirable. Where well paid, he demonstrated his abilities; as in the cupola of S. Mary Magdalen; in several frescos in the ducal palace at Florence, in the royal villas, and in the copious historical picture of the taking of Jerusalem, which he painted in the public palace at Pisa. He also painted some altar-pieces worthy of himself; as the S. Francis in S. Maria Maggiore or the Beato Piccolomini in the attitude of saying mass, in possession of the Servi; a beautiful picture, full of spirited attitudes. His son, Ottaviano, appears his follower in some semicircular pictures in the cloister of S. Spirito, in a piece representing various saints in the church of S. Lorenzo; and wherever he was employed. One of his grandest works may be seen in S. Mary Magdalen at Pescia, the ceiling of which he painted in fresco.

The Dandini family had many scholars, who, with their descendants, have kept alive the school of Cortona, even to our own days. This school was not eminent; it requires but little examination, or prolixity of description. It has produced some good artists; but few of them are above mediocrity; a fault less to be attributed to their genius, than the times. The more modern style was [Pg 342]esteemed the best: the last master seemed to discover new maxims in painting, and abolished the old: and thus artists of little celebrity gave birth to others more minute and mannered, resembling their prototype in maxims, but inferior in reputation. About this time it became fashionable to paint with a certain degree of careless ease, or Sprezzatura, as it is styled by some; and Giordano and some Venetians are applauded for this manner. Several Florentine artists tried to imitate them, and have produced works that resemble sketches: this species of mannerism is not uncommon in other schools. It is unnecessary to be particular, but only to observe generally that such artists are as rare in choice collections of pictures, as Andrea del Sarto or Cigoli: the latter are there scarce, because they painted with great care; the former class because they painted with very little. In the work entitled Series of the most celebrated painters, we find Antonio Riccianti, Michele Noferi, and some others whose names are merely mentioned as scholars of Vincenzio; and Gabbiani is the only one particularly praised. In like manner, among the pupils of Pietro Dandini we find the names of Gio. Cinqui, whose portrait is in the ducal gallery, Antonio Puglieschi, of Florence, who studied under Ciro, and Valerio Baldassari of Pescia; but there is a particular eulogy bestowed on Fratinelli, whom we shall notice hereafter. I find also that P. Alberigo Carlini, a Minorite monk of Pescia, was the pupil of Ottaviano, and attended Conca at Rome. [Pg 343]He painted some good pictures, chiefly in the church of his order at Pietrasanta. To his we may also add the name of Santarelli, a patrician of the same country, and who died at Rome.

The most celebrated pupil of the Dandini was Anton Domenico Gabbiani, not long ago mentioned; before he was the pupil of Vincenzio, he had lessons from Subtermans, and finished his education at Rome under Ciro Ferri, and at Venice by studying the best masters. We must not give credit to Pascoli, who has represented him as a mean artist.[232] Gabbiani ranks amongst the best designers of his age; a collection of his drawings is in the possession of Sig. Pacini, which was often inspected and commended by Mengs for the facility and elegance he there discovered. Many of his designs were engraved and published in his life by Ignatius Hugford. His colouring sometimes borders on the languid, but is generally good: he is correct and natural, especially in fleshy tints; juicy, and tempered by a pleasing harmony. The greatest fault in the style of this artist is in his draperies, which, though correct, and studied with his usual diligence, always exhibit a degree of heaviness in the execution, are too confined, and sometimes are not quite true in the colouring. His merit is very great in light subjects: in the Pitti, and other palaces of some of the nobility of Florence, his dances of genii and groups of boys are to be met with, and yield little [Pg 344]to those of Baciccio. One of the finest is in the house of the Orlandini family; and the Marquis of Riccardi has specimens among the mirrors placed in his collection. His largest and most celebrated work in fresco is the vast cupola of Cestello, which he did not wholly finish. His oil pictures are esteemed precious even in the ducal gallery. Several of his works of unequal merit are preserved in churches; but his S. Philip, in possession of the fathers Dell' Oratorio, justifies the assertion of Redi, that, except Maratta, there was then no painter in Rome that could eclipse him.[233] The catalogue of his scholars is extensive; but some of them, as happens to every master, may be also claimed by other preceptors. Benedetto Luti was an honour to Gabbiani and to Florence. Having formed himself in this school, he went to Rome, in hopes of receiving the instructions of Ciro Ferri; but the death of that master intervening, he was guided by his own genius, and the monuments of art existing in that city. The style he there formed may be considered a compound of various imitations, select in the forms, pleasing and bright in colouring, shewing art in the distribution of light and shade, and as harmonious to the eye as is the orator to the ear, who enchants an audience by his well turned periods; the delightful fascination is felt, but the source of it cannot be assigned. In that metropolis we shall find him master of the new style; but in Tuscany we cannot point out many [Pg 345]of his pictures besides those in the ducal palace: private collections are rich only in his crayon pieces, which are likewise well known out of Italy. There is one of his large pictures on canvass at Pisa, the subject of which is the Vestment of S. Ranieri; and it is the most admired among the larger paintings of the cathedral. Luti sent it to Gabbiani for his correction before it was exposed to the public; a circumstance highly honourable to the modesty of the scholar and the abilities of the master.[234] His portrait is in the ducal gallery; and the more rigid critics, on looking at it, have been known to say, "Behold the last painter of his school."

Tommaso Redi was a pupil of the same master; and is noticed in the Lettere Pittoriche, as a good composer of historical pictures, and is also praised for design, colouring, and spirit. From the school of Gabbiani he went under the tuition of Maratta and Balestra, both artists respectable for their style, and declared enemies to the innovations which have occupied and debased our schools for so long a period. Redi also visited the most celebrated schools, but for the sole purpose of studying the old masters, and of making copies of their works, some of which, with a few pieces of his own invention, remain in his family. In the eulogy of Anton Domenico we find honourable mention made of his nephew, Gaetano Gabbiani; of Francesco Salvetti, his intimate friend; of Gio. Antonio Pucci, [Pg 346]a painter and a poet; of Giuseppe Baldini, whose promising career was cut short by death, and of Ranieri del Pace, a native of Pisa, who afterwards yielding to the torrent of fashion, became a complete mannerist. Ignatius Hugford, born in Florence, but whose father was a native of England,[235] was admirably skilled in recognizing the hands of different masters, and likewise painted in a good manner a picture of S. Raphael at S. Felicità, and some other pieces, which were mostly small, and have been admitted into the royal museum. The[Pg 347] feeble paintings in possession of the Vallombrosani at Forli, and some of the same stamp at Florence, are likewise by this artist.

Alessandro Gherardini, a rival of Gabbiani, and in the opinion of many, his superior in genius as a painter, had wonderful facility in counterfeiting different styles. He would have equalled any of his contemporaries, had he always painted in the style of his Crucifixion of our Lord in Candeli, in which he calls to mind a happy imitation of different schools. It is a work studied in every part, especially in the general tone, which artfully expresses the darkness of that hour. A history piece of Alexander the Great, in Casa Orlandini, with figures of half-length, and executed with great industry, is also held in high esteem; but he aimed at painting pictures of every degree of merit. One of his pupils, no less fertile in talent, and named Sebastiano Galeotti, is rather remembered than known at Florence. He left his native place when young, travelled about a long time without any fixed residence, and has left specimens behind him in many parts of Upper Italy. He at length settled at Genoa, where we shall again notice him. The ducal gallery contains portraits both of the master and of the scholar, by the side of those of Gabbiani and Redi. Other considerable painters of this epoch have obtained a similar honour; among whom we may mention Agostino Veracini, a scholar of Sebastian Ricci, Francesco Conti, a disciple of Maratta, and Lapi, a follower of Giordano; [Pg 348]each of these has successfully imitated his guide.[236] The S. Apollonia of the first, painted for the church of that name; various Madonnas of the second, in the hands of private gentlemen; and the Transfiguration of the last, in the ducal gallery, are calculated to do them honour, and even to shed a lustre on some of their less refined productions. Some others now dead have been equally honoured by a portrait, of whom I have not discovered any other work. Of this number are Vincenzio Bacherelli, Gio. Francesco Bagnoli, Anton Sebastiano Bettini, Gio. Casini, Niccolo Nannetti, and others, who are mentioned in the Museo Fiorentino.

Giovanni Camillo Sagrestani, a scholar of Giusti, was esteemed at Florence, even during the lifetime of Gabbiani and Gherardini. To study different masters, he visited the best schools of Italy, and for some time attended the school of Cav. Cignani, whose manner he copied rather than emulated. One of his Holy Families is in the Madonna de' Ricci, the beauty of which has more of an ideal cast, and the colouring is more florid, than is usual with his contemporaries of this school. One of the first judges in Florence assured me that this painting was the work of Sagrestani, although others ascribe it to his scholar, Matteo Bonechi. Bonechi had excellent parts, but not an equal knowledge of the art, in which he is reported to have been instructed [Pg 349]by a species of dictation; for he practised under the eye, and was directed by the voice of his master. He thus became one of those practical artists who make up for the poverty of their design by their spirit and their colouring. There are some of his pictures that in any collection would be particularly calculated to attract the eye. Among his works in fresco, the picture at Cestello, where he finished what was begun by Gabbiani, is worthy of record; and also that in the Capponi palace near the Nunziata, where he continued the work of Marinari.

About this time Cignani died in Bologna, and Gio. Gioseffo del Sole, denominated the modern Guido, enjoyed the highest reputation. Florence employed three of his eminent pupils; one of the two Soderini, Meucci, and Ferretti, who although called da Imola, was born and lived in Florence. Mauro Soderini enjoyed the reputation of a good designer, and aimed at beauty and effect in his pictures. The Death of S. Joseph in the cathedral is said to be by his hand, though it is in fact by Ferretti; the Child revived by S. Zanobi, in the church of S. Stephen, is really his. Vincenzio Meucci was chiefly employed in works of perspective, which he executed in many parts of Tuscany, and even in the cupola of the royal chapel in S. Lorenzo. If there was any one who could dispute with him pre-eminence in fresco painting, it was his fellow disciple, Giovanni Domenico Ferretti, whose works may be seen in Florence, in several other parts of [Pg 350]Tuscany, and at Bologna; from which he appears to have surpassed Meucci in fancy and in spirit, and especially at the Philippini at Pistoia, where his performance in the cupola is highly praised. In fresco works they were both excellent; but in oil paintings they often were too hasty, an error into which all fresco painters, not excepting the most esteemed, have fallen. Hence Ferretti, although he painted the Martyrdom of S. Bartolommeo, for the church dedicated to that saint at Pisa, in an excellent style, did not give equal satisfaction by his History of S. Guido, in the archiepiscopal church. Several of the works of Meucci are dispersed through the various churches in Florence; and in a chapel of the Nunziata, where he painted the recess, he coloured a Madonna, which is allowed to be one of his most diligent and best finished pictures. He was there rivalled by Giuseppe Grisoni, a scholar of Redi; and it is reported that vexation at this circumstance shortened his days. Grisoni had travelled more than he in visiting the schools of Italy, had even gone to England, and had acquired great skill in figures, and still more in landscape. He therefore was induced to add landscape not only to historical, but also to portrait painting; as in the instance of a portrait of himself that is one of the most respectable in the second chamber of painters. He added it also to the S. Barbara, painted in competition with Meucci; and it is a picture which does honour to the school in form,[Pg 351] relief, and taste of colouring. He likewise painted other pieces on the same plan, in which, however, he did not succeed so well.

Meucci and Grisoni cannot be reckoned Italian artists of the same rank with Luti; but if all are to be estimated by the times in which they flourished, each was eminent in his day. I had noticed them briefly in my first edition, and some painters have informed me, that with them I ought to have mentioned Giuseppe Zocchi, who was a painter of note, and should not have been omitted even in a compendium of the history of the art. I now correct my error, and produce what information the noble family of Gerini, under whose protection he was received when a boy, and who, after his elementary studies at Florence, sent him to Rome, to Bologna, and other parts of Lombardy, for his instruction in the different schools, have supplied me. I may be allowed to add, that the Florentine nobility have always been most liberal in this way; and there are not a few living artists who owe their education in the fine arts to the bounty of some noble family: such clients are an ornament to a nobleman, and are not to be numbered among his servants. Zocchi had a genius fertile in invention, pliant in imitation, and judicious in selection; and hence at the conclusion of such a course of study, he was able to compose large works with skill, and to colour beautifully. He painted four pretty large frescos in the villa Serristori, beyond the gate of S. Nicholas, some [Pg 352]apartments in the Rinuccini palace, and one in the Gerini gallery; and these are believed to be his best works of this sort. In smaller pieces he was still greater; as in his oil picture of the festivities at Siena, on the arrival of the Emperor Francis I., a work very true in the perspective, and graceful in the multitude of figures which he there inserted. It is deposited in the splendid Sansedonii collection of pictures at Siena, where the entertainment given to the Grand Duke Peter Leopold may also be seen: with this object in view the painter went to Siena, where he caught the epidemic disorder that raged there in 1767, and soon after died at Florence.

On turning to the other parts of Tuscany, we find them from the beginning of the eighteenth century full of the followers of Cortona; San Sepolcro boasted one Zei, of whom I find no further account than that of his painting an altar-piece representing the souls in purgatory, for the cathedral of that place, a work extremely well coloured, and conducted in the maxims of the school, though the countenances are of a common cast; and if we except the liberating angel, of poor expression. Among this sect we cannot include Gio. Batista Mercati, one of the latest painters of that city, not unknown at Rome, and much noted in his native place, where he painted either at a more mature time of life, or with greater pains. Two of his historical frescos, representing our Lady, are in S. Chiara; and at S. Lorenzo there is a picture of the titular with other saints; in both there is [Pg 353]an air apparently drawn from the school of the Caracci, especially in the breadth of the drapery, which is well cast, and skilfully varied. In the Guides to Venice and to Rome, several of his works are mentioned, and in that of Leghorn, the only picture in the cathedral esteemed worthy of notice is that of the Five Saints, painted by Mercati with great care. Orlandi notices Tommaso Lancisi, a scholar of Scaminossi, and two of his brothers, and adds, that painting was an hereditary honour in this family.

One only of the countrymen of Berrettini is known to me as his follower; his name is Adriano Palladino; he is mentioned by Orlandi, which is the only trace of him that I have discovered; I never saw any of his works, nor heard them mentioned by any one.

Arezzo abounds with pictures in the manner of Cortona. Salvi Castellucci, the scholar of Pietro, either at Florence or at Rome, was a great imitator of his style, and painted with expedition, according to the practice of the school. He executed many good pieces in the cathedral, and other churches, besides numerous cabinet pictures that are in private houses, which are estimable for the facility and good taste of their colouring. One of his frescos, representing our Lady surrounded by the patron saints of the city, is in the public palace; but he is greater in oil painting. He had a son, on whom he bestowed the name of Pietro, probably [Pg 354]in honour of his master. He also was a follower of Cortona, but never equalled his father.

Pistoia, however, had two Gimignani, the father Giacinto, and Lodovico, his son, of whom it is still disputed which was the most eminent. From the school of Poussin, Giacinto entered that of Berrettini; and as he approached nearer his first master in design and composition, so in colouring and in taste for architecture he came nearest to the second. He moreover took the lead in works of fresco. Here he rivalled Camassei and Maratta, at the baptistery of S. Gio. Laterano, where he painted the histories of Constantine, besides leaving other specimens in different parts of Rome, in the Niccolini palace at Florence, and other places. In some pictures he also emulated Guercino, as for instance in the Leander in the ducal gallery, which was long considered as a Guercino. Though Lodovico was the scholar of Giacinto, he is not so correct in design, but was superior to his father in all the faculties that excite pleasing emotions; his ideas are more beautiful, his tints more lovely, his attitudes more spirited, and his harmony more agreeable. It would appear either that the style of his maternal uncle Orbetto, had attracted his attention, or that Bernini, the director of his studies, had led him into this path. He obtained great applause for his works in fresco, and those he executed at Rome in the church of the Virgins are studied by artists for the attitudes, the clouds,[Pg 355] and the grace of the wings with which his angels were furnished. He chiefly resided at Rome, which possesses several of his paintings for churches, and a far greater number for halls and private rooms; being moreover much employed in these for foreign countries. Two histories of S. John by the hand of Giacinto, are in the church dedicated to that saint at Pistoia; and there was also a S. Rocco in the cathedral, which was esteemed excellent. Lodovico executed a beautiful picture for the church of the Capuchins, now converted into a parish church.

After the death of both, Lazzaro Baldi still remained, another great ornament of the school of Cortona, and of Pistoia, his native place. He may be there recognised in two pictures, the Annunciation in the church of S. Francis, and the Repose in Egypt in that of the Madonna della Umiltà. This latter place is a most majestic octagonal temple, executed by Ventura Vitoni of Pistoia, the great pupil of Bramante, and surmounted by a cupola, which is reckoned among the noblest in Italy. Baldi finally established his abode in Rome; where he was much employed, as well as in other parts of the states of the Church. One of the most studied pictures he ever painted is at S. Camerino, and represents S. Peter receiving the pontifical power. A still more recent artist is Gio. Domenico Piastrini, a scholar of Luti, who in the porch of Madonna della Umiltà, filled two large spaces with pictures, illustrative of the history of this[Pg 356] church, and who rivalled the best followers of Maratta, in S. Maria in Via Lata, at Rome. It is not foreign to this period to notice Gio. Batista Cipriani, who was born in Florence, but descended from a family of Pistoia;[237] especially as he left specimens of his pencil in the neighbourhood of the places we have just mentioned. Two of his altar-pieces were in the abbey of S. Michael-on-the-Sea; one of S. Thesaurus, the other of S. Gregory VII. which are valuable, as Cipriani painted but little. His excellence lay in design, which he acquired from the collection of the studies of Gabbiani, before mentioned. Having afterwards gone to London, he was much employed by the celebrated Bartolozzi, who has immortalized the painter by engraving his inventions. We might augment our catalogue with the two Giusti and Michele Paoli, a Pistoian of the school of Crespi; but they did not attain maturity, if we depend on the information afforded by the continuator of Felsina Pittrice.[238]

[Pg 357]Of those within the Florentine territory, the Pisans, and of those beyond it, the artists of Lucca, yet remain to be considered. Camillo Gabrieli, a scholar of Ciro, was the first who transplanted the style of Cortona into Pisa; and in this manner executed a good oil painting at the convent of the Carmelites, and also several for private individuals; in this kind of painting he was more happy than in fresco. In this line, however, his memory is honoured in his native place, both for his works in the grand saloon of the Alliata palace, and in the apartments of other noblemen's houses; and likewise on account of his pupils, the two Melani, who have contributed much to his reputation. We shall notice Francesco among the professors of architectural design: Giuseppe his brother, and a knight of the golden spur, became no common artist in figures, and was worthy of painting in the cathedral a large oil picture of the death of S. Ranieri. Although this piece ranks in the scale of mediocrity in this sanctuary of the arts, it does honour to its author; the invention is good, the perspective is regular, and exhibits no marks of carelessness, as is so often the case. But his place is among the painters in fresco; in which department he ornamented with figures the architectural works of his brother; and has shewn himself tenacious of the manner of Cortona, both in what is commendable in it, as the perspective, colouring, and harmony; and also where it is less praiseworthy, as in the heaviness and imperfect finish of the figures.

[Pg 358]With a similar instance we shall commence the series of artists of Lucca: the two brothers, Ippolito and Giovanni Marracci, obtained equal applause in very different branches of the art; the former was a painter of architecture, the latter of figures; and of him only we shall here speak. Although little known beyond Lucca, he is reckoned among the eminent scholars and most successful imitators of Pietro da Cortona; and merits this name, either when he painted in fresco, as in the cupola of S. Ignatius, at S. Giovanni; or when he wrought in oil, as he did in several pictures in the possession of the brotherhood of S. Lorenzo, in the collegiate church of S. Michael, and in other places. With equal success two other artists, natives of Lucca, who had been educated in his school, became imitators, for a period, of Pier Cortona. These were Giovanni Coli and Filippo Gherardi, who were trained in the school of their native place, and resembled each other no less in style than in disposition; so that though they usually painted in the same piece, all their joint labours appear the work of a single artist. They afterwards adopted a manner that participates of the Venetian and Lombard schools; and in this style they painted the vast ceiling of the library of S. Giorgio Maggiore at Venice. Rome possesses some of their stupendous works in the church of the Lucchesi, and in the magnificent Colonna gallery. The most celebrated picture with which they ornamented their native place was the fresco [Pg 359]of the tribune of the church of S. Martin, and next to it that in S. Matthew's, which they decorated with three oil pictures. After the death of Coli, his companion resided and continued to paint in Lucca: the whole cloister of the Carmelite monastery was painted by him alone.

The manner of Cortona was likewise adhered to by Gio. Batista Brugieri, a scholar of Baldi and of Maratta, who was in his day highly applauded for his works in the chapel of the Sacrament, at the Servi, and his other productions in public. P. Stefano Cassiani, from the fraternity to which he belonged, surnamed Il Certosino, or the Carthusian, painted in fresco the cupola of his church, and two large histories of our Lady, besides other reputable works in the style of Cortona, at the Certosa of Pisa, of Siena, and elsewhere. Girolamo Scaglia, a disciple of Paulini and of Gio. Marracci, is surnamed Parmegianino. In architecture he imitated Berrettini, as is remarked by Sig. da Morrona;[239] in his shadows he followed Paulini, and sometimes approached Ricchi: as a painter his effect was superior to his design; or as it was observed by the Cav. Titi, (p. 146) on beholding his picture of the Presentation, painted at Pisa, it exhibits extreme industry and very little taste. Gio. Domenico Campiglia was reckoned among the best designers in Rome; and of him the engravers of antiquities particularly availed themselves. He was not without merit as a painter; [Pg 360]and in Florence, where he executed some pictures, his portrait has a place among those of eminent artists. A picture painted by Pietro Sigismondi, of Lucca, for the great altar of S. Nicholas in Arcione at Rome, is honourably mentioned by Titi: I know not whether any of his works remain in his native place; and the same is the case with Massei and with Pini, who will be considered in another school.

I shall close this series with two other artists; and had the age produced many like them, Italian painting would not have declined so much as it has done during the eighteenth century. Giovanni Domenico Lombardi lived not, like his pupil, Cav. Batoni, within the enlightening precincts of Rome, but in merit he was at least equal to Batoni. He formed his style on the works of Paulini, and improved it by studying the finest colourists at Venice, and also by paying attention to the school of Bologna. The genius of this artist, his taste, his grand and resolute tone, appear in several of his pictures, executed in his best time, and with real pains. Such are his two pieces on the sides of the choir of the Olivetani, which represent their founder, S. Bernard, administering relief to the citizens infected with the plague. There are two others in a chapel of S. Romano, which are painted with a magic force approaching to the best manner of Guercino; and one of them, in the opinion of the most rigid critics, seems the work of that artist himself. He should always have painted thus; [Pg 361]and never have prostituted his pencil to manufacture pieces at all prices. Batoni, who will be noticed in our third book among the Roman masters, supported better his own dignity and that of the art. He adhered in a great measure to the maxims of this school, a circumstance which did not altogether please his first master, who on examining some of his early performances, remarked, that they required a greater covering of dirt, for they appear to him too trimly neat. One who has not an opportunity of examining his capital works, may satisfy himself in Lucca, either in the church of the Olivetine fathers, where he painted the Martyrdom of S. Bartolommeo; or in that of S. Catharine of Siena, where she is represented receiving the mystic wounds of the crucifixion.

I shall not here mention many artists in the inferior walks of the art. The example of Cortona influenced none in this class, except a few ornamental painters, and some artists who accompanied their figures by landscapes. The painters of landscapes, flowers, and the like, continued to follow their original models. Chiavistelli, for instance, has been followed by various artists in fresco of this age, who besides executing figures, have exercised, as before remarked, other branches of painting. Pure architectural and ornamental painting in a good taste are, however, distinct arts; and to attain excellence in them requires all the faculties of man. Angiol Rossi, of Florence, applied himself to it, as I believe, in Bologna; and assiduously [Pg 362]practised it at Venice, as we are informed by Guarienti. Two artists of Lucca, Pietro Scorzini and Bartolommeo Santi, received their education at Bologna, and were the favourite decorators of many theatres. Francesco Melani, of Pisa, adhered strongly to Cortona. As learned in perspective as his brother was in figures, his style was so similar, that no architectural painter was so well suited to accompany the figures of the other. This will be allowed by all who view the ceiling in the church of S. Matthew at Pisa, which is their finest work, or their paintings in Siena, and at other places, where they were employed together. They educated a pupil worthy of them, in Tommaso Tommasi, of Pietra Santa, a man of vast conception, who succeeded in Pisa to the commissions bestowed upon his masters, and produced very pleasing specimens of his powers in the nave of the church of S. Giovanni. Ippolito Marracci, of Lucca, the scholar of Metelli, appears a successful rival of his master, either when he painted by himself, as in the Rotonda, at Lucca, or when associated with his brother, as was generally the case. Domenico Schianteschi, a disciple of Bibieni, lived in San Sepolcro; his perspectives in that city are to be seen in the houses of many of the nobility, and are much esteemed.

Florence has boasted professed portrait painters, even to the present time; among whom Gaetano Piattoli is particularly extolled. He was pupil to a French artist, Francesco Riviera, who had resided [Pg 363]and died at Leghorn, and was very much prized in collections for the excellence of his Conversazioni and Turkish ballets. He is well known too, in other countries; for he was employed to take portraits of the foreign nobility who visited Florence. The portrait of himself, which he painted for the ducal gallery, indicates the style of the rest. An illustrious female artist emanated from the school of Gabbiani, although assisted in her studies by other masters, and this was Giovanna Fratellini, who was not without invention, and was most expert in portrait painting. She executed in oil, in crayons, in miniature, and in enamel, various portraits of the family of Cosmo III. and of other princes, to paint whom she was sent by her sovereign to several cities of Italy. That which she painted of herself, is in the ducal gallery: in it she has blended the employment of the artist with the affection of a mother. She is represented in the act of taking a likeness of Lorenzo, her only son and pupil, who died in the flower of his age. It is painted in crayons, an art in which she may be called the Rosalba of her time. Domenico Tempesti, or Tempestino, is rather included among engravers than painters; though he was instructed by Volterrano in Florence, in the latter art, and exercised it with credit both in landscape and portrait. He is mentioned by Vianelli in the catalogue of his pictures. It would appear that he was the same Domenico de Marchis, called Tempestino, whom Orlandi casually notices [Pg 364]in the article of Girolamo Odam, whom Domenico had initiated in the elements of landscape painting. Orlandi gives also a separate article, under the head of Domenico Tempesti, in which his voyages through Europe, and his long residence at Rome, are dwelt upon.

Many landscapes, chiefly rural views, painted by Paolo Anesi, are dispersed through Florence, and there are also many of them in Rome. Francesco Zuccherelli, a native of Pitigliano, born in the year 1702, was his scholar. On going to Rome, he resided there a long time, and first entered the school of Morandi, and afterwards of Pietro Nelli. His first intention was to study figures, but by one of those circumstances which discover the natural predilection, he applied himself to painting landscape; and pursued it in a manner that united strength and sweetness; and has been highly extolled not only in Italy, but over all Europe. His figures also were elegant, and these he was sometimes employed to introduce in the landscapes and architectural pieces of other artists. His principal field in Italy was Venice, where he was settled, until the celebrated Smith made him known in England, and invited him to that island, in which he remained many years, exercising his pencil for the court, and for the most considerable collections of pictures. He enjoyed the particular esteem of Count Algarotti; in the possession of whose heirs are two landscapes by Tesi, with figures by Zuccherelli: of the first artist I shall [Pg 365]again speak in the school of Bologna. Algarotti was commissioned by the court of Dresden to procure the works of the best modern painters, and suggested to Zuccherelli subjects for two pictures, in which he succeeded admirably, and was employed to repeat them for the king of Prussia. In his old age he returned to Rome, and was employed there, at Venice and in Florence, where he died in 1788. These anecdotes of Zuccherelli I obtained along with many others from the Sig. Avvocato Lessi, a gentleman deeply versed in the fine arts.

The name of this artist brings to a fair conclusion the series of Florentine painters, which has been continued for little less than six centuries, in an uninterrupted succession of native artists, without the intervention of one foreign master in this school, at least one so eminent as to mark an era. With the exception of the last years, in which art was on the decline throughout Italy, the Florentine school, with all its merit, and that is undoubtedly very great, owes its progress to native genius. It was not unacquainted with foreign artists, but from them it disdained to borrow; and its masters never adopted any other style on which they did not engraft a peculiarity and originality of manner.

I might write much in praise of masters now living,[240] but I propose not to enter on their merits, [Pg 366]and shall leave them wholly to the judgment of posterity. In other arts I indulge a greater latitude, but not frequently. I may add with truth, that during the course of six centuries, the artists of Florence have been fortunate in a government most auspicious to the fine arts. The last princes however of the Medicean family had shewn more [Pg 367]inclination than activity in patronizing them; and the reign of the Emperor Francis I., though generally distinguished for enterprize,[241] was nevertheless that of an absent sovereign. The accession of the Grand Duke Peter Leopold to supreme power in Tuscany, in 1765, marked a new era in the history of the arts. The palace and royal villas were repaired and embellished; and amid the succession of undertakings that attracted the best artists, painting was continually promoted. The improvement of the ducal gallery was most opportune for it; and afforded new commissions to painters, and new specimens of the art: for the Prince ordered all the inferior pieces to be removed from the collection, and their place to be supplied by vast numbers of choice pictures. Fine specimens of antique marbles were likewise added: to him Florence owes the Niobe of Praxiteles,[242] the Apollo, and other statues; the basso-relievos, and busts of the Cæsars, which complete the grand series in the corridore: the cabinets of the gallery were then only twelve in number, and they contained a confused assemblage of paintings, statues, bronzes, and drawings, antiquities and modern productions. He [Pg 368]reduced this chaos to order; he separated the different kinds, assigned separate apartments to each, made new purchases of what was before wanting, and increased the number of cabinets to twenty-one. This great work, one branch of which he was pleased to commit to my charge,[243] was worthy of record. I laid it before the public, in 1782, in a memoir, which was inserted also in the forty-seventh volume of the Journal of Pisa. Whoever compares this book with the Description of the Gallery, published in 1759, by Bianchi, will clearly perceive that Leopold was rather a second founder than a restorer of that emporium of the fine arts: so different is the arrangement, so remarkable are the[Pg 369] additions to the building, to its ornaments, and to the articles it contains.[244] I have been diffuse in my description of the antiquities which appeared to me deserving of more particular elucidation; of the pictures I merely indicated the artist and the subject. Since that period, other descriptions of the gallery, by very able writers, have been given to the public, in which my nomenclature and expositions of the antiquities have been adopted; but a fuller and better catalogue of the paintings is given on the plan of that of the imperial cabinet of Vienna, and similar works.

Ferdinand III. who now for five years has promoted the welfare of Tuscany, succeeded no less to the throne of his august father, than to the protection of the fine arts. The new buildings already completed, as the right wing of the Pitti palace, or now begun, as the vestibule of the Laurentian library, which is to be finished upon a design of Michelangiolo, are matters foreign to my subject. Not so, however, are the additions made by the prince to the gallery and the academy of[Pg 370] design. To the first he has added a vast number of prints and pictures of those schools in which it was formerly deficient; and the gallery is increased by a collection of Venetian and another of French masters, which are separately arranged in two cabinets.[245] The academy, since 1785, had been as it were created anew by his father; had obtained a new and magnificent edifice, new masters, and new regulations, circumstances already well known over Europe, and here unnecessary to be repeated. This institution, which required improvement in some particulars, has been at length completed, and its apartments and its splendour augmented by the son; seconded by the superintendence of those accomplished connoisseurs, the Marchese Gerini, the Prior Rucellai, and the Senator Alessandri. To the artists in every branch of the fine arts which were before in Florence, he has recently added the engraver Sig. Morghen, an ornament to the city and the state. The obligations of the fine arts to Ferdinand III., are eloquently stated by Sig. Cav. Puccini, a nobleman of Pistoia, and superintendant of the ducal gallery, in an oration on the arts, pronounced not long ago in this academy, of which [Pg 371]he is the respected secretary, and since published, accompanied by engravings.[246]

[229] Life of Matteo Rosselli, in tom. x. p. 72.

[230] Tiraboschi, Storia della Lett. Ital. (tom. viii. p. 258.) ed. Ven. "Pietro Berrettini, in addition to the letters pointed out by Mazzucchelli (Scritt. Ital. tom. ii. p. 925,) wrote also along with P. Giandomenico Ottonelli da Fanano, a Jesuit, a 'Treatise upon painting and sculpture, their use and abuse; composed by a painter and a theologian.'" This work is become very rare.

[231] Lett. Pitt. tom. i. p. 44.

[232] In the Life of Luti. See Lett. Pitt. tom. i. p. 69.

[233] Lett. Pitt. tom. ii. p. 69.

[234] See Lett. Pitt. tom. ii. lett. 35.

[235] He was brother to Henry Hugford, a monk of Vallombrosa, to whom we owe, in a great measure, the progress of working in Scagliola, which was afterwards successfully practised in Florence by Lamberti Gori, his pupil; and at this day by the Signor Pietro Stoppioni, who receives numerous commissions. Although the portraits, and in general the figures, of a variety of colours, are very pleasing, yet the dicromi, or yellow figures upon a black ground, attract most notice, copied from ancient vases formerly called Etruscan, and these copies either form separate pictures, or are inserted for ornament in tablets. The tragic poet Alfieri caused his epitaph to be inscribed on one of these small tables covered with scagliola work. Being found after his death, it quickly spread abroad, but was not inscribed on his tomb. Upon another of these he had written the epitaph of a great personage, whom he wished to be interred near him; and the two little tablets united together folded one upon another in the way of a dittico or small altar, or of a book, on the side of which was written Alfieri liber novissimus. In this way others write, on tablets of scagliola, fine precepts from scripture, a philosophy that comes from and leads to heaven, intended to be placed in private sanctuaries, to aid meditation in sight of the crucifix. The silver tablets I have seen for the same purpose are more valuable, but less artificial.

[236] In his larger works (such as the altar-pieces at the Missionari and at the Monastero Nuovo,) it would appear that Conti aimed at approaching the style of Trevisani.

[237] See Saggio Istorico della R. Galleria de Firenze, tom. ii. p. 72. This work, valuable for its learning and authenticity, is written by Sig. Giuseppe Bencivenni (formerly Pelli) a gentleman of Florence, and formerly director of the ducal gallery, who is also known by his other literary labours, on the lives of the most eminent painters, by the life of Dante, and by the learned dissertation on coins, appended to the lives of the followers of Cortona. He arranged the collection of modern coins, that of engravings and of drawings, and the paintings of the ducal gallery; of these, and also of the gems and medals, he has there left manuscript catalogues.

[238] See that work at p. 232.

[239] Tom iii. p. 113.

[240] It was necessary to confine myself thus in the preceding edition. In the present we may give free scope to our commendation of Tommaso Gherardini, a Florentine, and pupil to Meucci; and who, having completed his studies in the schools of Venice and Bologna, succeeded admirably in basso-relievo and chiaroscuro. He decorated a large hall in the Medicean gallery in fresco, and painted likewise much in oil for the imperial gallery of Vienna, for German and English gentlemen, and various countries that have ornamented their collections. He shewed, at least for his age, no less skill in fresco histories, which are seen in many Florentine palaces and villas. The best of these are such as he executed in mature age, or at his own suggestion; like his Parnaso in Toscana, placed in the Casa Martelli, one of his patrons from his early years; besides others in the noble houses of Ricciardi and Ambra. He died in 1797; the senator Martelli, on the decease of the Archbishop his uncle, and that of his father, continued his patronage to the artist, and considers him as one who has reflected the greatest degree of credit on his house. The clients of that family, from the time of Donatello, have been numerous, a taste for the fine arts being hereditary in the family. The master of the academy, Pietro Pedroni, ought not to be here omitted; an oil painter of merit, whose four pictures, executed subsequent to his studies at Parma and Rome, are an ornament to his native place. Owing to ill health, he produced little during his residence at Florence, which, added to other disappointments, induced him, always the best resource, to travel. If not a rare painter, he was at least an able master: profound in theory, and eloquent in conveying his knowledge to his pupils, of whom history will treat in the ensuing age. Their success, their affection and esteem for Pedroni, is the best eulogy on him which I can transmit to posterity.

[241] See Il Saggio Istorico of Sig. Pelli, towards the conclusion.

[242] See Le Notizie su la Scoltura degli antichi e i vari suoi stili, p. 39. This short tract, illustrative of many marbles in the ducal gallery, is inserted in the third volume of Saggio di Lingua Etrusca. It was intended as a preface to a full Description of the Museum, which was then in the press, but it was suspended in consequence of the numerous changes and additions made in that place.

[243] It was the cabinet of antiquities, not then arranged. In each class I have noticed the additions of Leopold. To the busts of the Cæsars I was able to add about forty, some of which had been purchased, and others removed from the royal palaces and villas. See the Description above quoted, p. 34. The collection of heads of philosophers and illustrious men was almost all new. I give an account of it in p. 85. The series of busts of the Medicean family was completed at the same time, and Latin inscriptions were added, which are to be found in various descriptions of the gallery, with some errors, that are not to be attributed to me, but to the printers; and this remark applies to other royal epitaphs, as published in many books. The cabinet of antique bronzes is described in p. 55. For the collection of antique earthenware, see p. 157; of Greek and Latin inscriptions on stones, see p. 81. For the Hetruscan and carved cinerary urns, see p. 46. This cabinet I also endeavoured to illustrate in Saggio di Lingua Etrusca, &c. published at Rome, in 1789. For the cabinet of antique medals, arranged by the celebrated Sig. Ab. Eckell, see p. 101; the others, arranged by Sig. Pelli, are mentioned a little before.

[244] After the departure of the prince, his bust in marble was erected, and beneath it the following inscription, of which he was pleased to approve:

petrvs. leopoldvs. francisci. avg. f. avstriacvs. m. d. ep

ad. vrbis. svae. decvs. et. ad. incrementvm. artivm. optimarvm

mvsevm. medicevm

operibvs. ampliatis. copIsqve. avctis

ordinandvm. et. splendidiore. cvltv. exornandvm. cvravit

anno. m.dcc.lxxxix.

[245] He employed in this work the highly esteemed Sig. Cav. Puccini, from whom I understand, that almost a third of the pictures now in the gallery were placed there by the munificence of Ferdinand. Sig. Puccini has arranged them in a manner so symmetrical and instructive as to form a model for all other collections.

[246] In 1801 Lodovico I. began his reign in Tuscany. Dying shortly after, he was succeeded by the infant Carlo I., under the regency of the Queen-mother Maria Louisa. From this period the arts have experienced new patronage and encouragement. The very copious and select Salvetti library has been appropriated for the use of the academy; a noble example to all parts of Italy, possessing similar institutions. A new improvement also here made, is the reunion in one place of masters in scagliola, and mosaic work, gems, and the restoring of pictures, an occupation recently introduced; and in place of a master, who formerly presided, a director, with greater authority and emolument, has been appointed. Sig. Pietro Benvenuti, whom I dare not venture to commend as he deserves, for he is still living, was selected for this charge. The addition of casts also by our new rulers is of great utility, in particular those from the works of the celebrated Canova, who has been requested to produce a new statue of Venus, on the model of the Medicean, lost to us by the chance of war. The honour conferred by the queen regent upon the arts, deserves likewise a place in history; who, in the meeting of the academy, held in 1803, Sig. Alessandri being president, distributed rewards to the young students, and encouraged them to do well. It was upon this occasion that the same Cavaliere Puccini, secretary to the institution, delivered another excellent discourse, intended to prove that the pursuit of the fine arts forms one of the most expeditious and least perilous paths to human glory;—a discourse that, equally for the credit of the writer and of the fine arts, was given to the world at Florence, in the year 1804.

[Pg 372]




The old Masters.

The Sienese is the lively school of a lively people; and is so agreeable in the selection of the colours and the air of the heads, that foreigners are captivated, and sometimes even prefer it to the Florentine. But this gaiety of style forms not the only reason of this preference; there is another, which few have attended to, and none have ever brought forward. The choicest productions of the painters of Siena are all in the churches of that place; and he who wishes to become acquainted with the school, after having seen these, need not be very solicitous to visit the private collections, which are numerous and well filled. In Florence it is otherwise: no picture of Vinci, of Bonarruoti, of Rosso, is to be seen in public; none of the finest productions of Andrea, or of Frate, and few of any other master who has best supported the credit of the school: many of the churches abound in pictures of the third and fifth epochs; which are certainly respectable, but do not excite astonishment like the works of the Razzi, the Vanni, and other first rate [Pg 373]artists, every where to be met with in Siena. They are, moreover, two different schools, and ought not to be confounded together in any work of art; possessing, for a long period of time, different governments, other heads of schools, other styles; and not affected by the same changes. A comparison between the two schools is drawn by P. della Valle,[247] whom we have mentioned, and shall afterwards mention with respect; and his opinion appears to be, that the Florentine is most philosophical, the Sienese the most poetical. He remarks on this head, that the school of Siena, from its very beginning, displays a peculiar talent for invention; animating with lively and novel images the stories it represents; filling them with allegory, and forming them into spirited and well constructed poetic compositions. This originates in the elevated and fervid genius of the people, that no less aids the painter, whose poetry is addressed to the eye, than the bard who yields it to the ear. In the latter, and also in extemporary poets, the city abounds, and still maintains in public estimation, those laurels, which, after Petrarca and Tasso, her Perfetti won in the capital. He likewise observes that those artists particularly attended to expression. Nor was this difficult, in a city so adverse to dissimulation as Siena, whose natural disposition and education have adapted the tongue and countenance to express the emotions of the heart. This vivacity of [Pg 374]genius has perhaps prevented their attaining perfection in design, which is not the great attribute of those masters, as it is reckoned of the Florentines. To sum up all, the character of the school of Siena is not so original as that of some others; and we shall find, during its best period, that some of its artists distinctly imitated the style of other painters. With regard to the number of its artists, Siena has been prolific in the proportion of its population; its artists were numerous while it had many citizens; but on the decrease of the latter, its professors of the fine arts also diminished, until every trace of a school was lost.

The accounts of the early painters of Siena are rather confused during the three first centuries by the plurality of the Guidi, the Mini, the Lippi, the Vanni (abbreviations of Giacomo, Filippo, Giovanni), and such sort of proper names as are used without a surname: hence it is not sufficient to peruse only such accounts; we must reflect on them and compare them. They are scattered in many histories of the city, especially in Ugurgieri, who was pleased to entitle his work Le Pompe Sanesi; in the Diary of Girolamo Gigli; and in several works of the indefatigable Cav. Gio. Pecci, whom we have before noticed. Many manuscripts, rich in anecdotes of painting, still remain in the libraries: of this number are the histories of Sigismondo Tizio, of Castiglione, who lived at Siena from 1482 to 1528; the Cathedral of Siena, minutely described by Alfonzo Landi; the Treatise on old [Pg 375]Paintings of Giulio Mancini; and some Memoirs of Uberto Benvoglienti, whom Muratori denominates diligentissimus rerum suæ patriæ investigator. From these, and other sources,[248] P. della Valle has drawn what is contained in the Lettere Sanesi, and repeated in the notes on Vasari concerning the school of Siena. By the work of Della Valle it has acquired a celebrity to which it has long been entitled. I take him for my guide in the documents and anecdotes which he has given to the public;[249] in the older authorities I follow Vasari and Baldinucci in many circumstances, but dissent from them in others: and hostile to error, and anxious for the truth, I shall pursue the same plan with regard to the historians of the school of Siena. I shall omit many names of old masters, of whom no works now remain, and here and there shall add a few modern artists who have come to my knowledge, by the examination of pictures, or by the perusal of books.

The origin of the Sienese school is deduced either from the crusades in the east, whence some Grecian painter has been brought to Siena; or from Pisa, which, as we have seen, had its first artists from Greece. On such a question every [Pg 376]one may judge for himself: to me the data necessary for resolving it appear to be wanting. I know that Italy was never destitute of painters, and artists who wrought in miniature; that from such, without any Grecian aid, or example, some Italian schools took their origin. Siena must have had them in the twelfth century. The Ordo officiorum Senensis Ecclesiæ which is preserved in the library of the academy at Florence, was written in the beginning of the thirteenth century, and exhibits initial letters, surrounded with illuminations of little stories and ornaments of animals. They are painted in vermilion, in a very hard and meagre style; but they are valuable on account of their era, 1213, in which they were executed by Oderico Canonico of Siena.[250] Similar books were ornamented by the same painter in the parchment of the leaves, and painted on the covers without;[251] and afford a proof that thus the art of ornamenting with miniatures might lead to large compositions. All, however, more or less, savour of the Greek design; either because the Italians were originally disciples of the Greeks, dispersed over Italy, or because [Pg 377]they regarded the Grecian masters as models, and ventured not to attempt much beyond them.

The most ancient pictures in the city, the Madonna of the Graces, the Madonna of Tressa, the Madonna of Bethlehem, a S. Peter in the church dedicated to that saint, and a S. John the Baptist, surrounded by many small historical representations at S. Petronilla, are believed to be older than 1200; but it is by no means clear that they are the works of Italians, though often believed such from their initial characters, plaister, and design. On the two last the names of the saints near the figures are in Latin characters; a circumstance, however, which does not prove an Italian painter. On the mosaic works at Venice, on the Madonna of Camerino, brought from Smyrna,[252] and on other pictures executed by the Greeks for Italian cities, ignorant of their language, they wrote, or got others to write, inscriptions in Latin; and they did the same on statues.[253] The method of painting on gilt plaister, which we observe in some old pictures, decidedly Italian, is no argument; for I have several times observed a similar practice in what was unquestionably the work of a Greek artist. The [Pg 378]drawing of the features in those pictures, the grimness of the aspect, and the composition of the stories, all accord with the productions of the Greeks. They may, therefore, have been painted by Greek artists, or by a scholar, or, at least, by an imitator of the Greeks. Who, then, can determine whence the artist came, whether he was a restorer of painting, and whether he executed those paintings at Siena, or sent them from some other place? This is certain, that painting quickly established itself at Siena, sent out roots, and rapidly multiplied its blossoms.

The series of painters known by name commences with Guido, or Guidone, already noticed in the beginning of this volume. He flourished before Cimabue of Florence saw the light; and seems to have been at the same time an illuminator of manuscripts and a painter. The writers of Siena have declaimed against Vasari and Baldinucci for omitting this artist; notices of whom could not have escaped the former, who was many times at Siena; nor the latter, who was made acquainted with them before the publication of his Decennali. Cav. Marmi, a learned and celebrated Florentine, thus notices the omission in one of his letters.[254] "Baldinucci laboured to make us credit the restoration of painting by Cimabue and Giotto; and to give stability to his hypothesis, it is probable that he omitted to make any mention of the painters who, independent of the two just named, departed [Pg 379]from the raw and feeble manner of the Greeks." And Guido certainly left it not a little behind, in his picture of the Virgin, now hung up in the Malevolti chapel in the church of S. Domenico. On it he has thus inscribed his name and the date:

Me Guido de Senis diebus depinxit amenis Quem Christus lenis nullis velit agere poenis. An. 1221.

And this example was often followed by the masters of this school, to the great benefit of the history of painting. The countenance of the Virgin is lovely, and participates not in the stern aspect that is characteristic of the Greeks; we may discover some trace of a new style in the drapery. The Madonnas of Cimabue which are at Florence, the one in the church of the Trinity, the other in S. Maria Novella, are not, however, inferior. In them we may discern the improvement of the art; a more vivid colouring, flesh tints more true; a more natural attitude of the head of the infant, while the accompaniments of the throne, and of the glory of angels, proclaim a superior style.

On this subject I make two remarks, in which I widely dissent from the opinion of the author of the Sienese Letters, without committing any breach of our long established friendship. The one is, that to prove Guido superior to Cimabue, he frequently compares the Madonna of S. Domenico, which is the only one of his pictures which he mentions,[255] with the paintings of Cimabue, which [Pg 380]are numerous, and full of subject; and without setting any value on the colouring, the fertility of invention, and the various other qualities in which the Florentine surpassed the artist of Siena, he dwells on certain little particulars, in which it appears that Guido was superior. An artist of whom it is not known that he ever attempted any picture but Madonnas, might become more or less perfect in this subject; but painting is not so much indebted to him, as to one who has carried it to the higher walks of the art; a merit which Marco of Siena, a writer not inclined to favour the Florentines, denies not to Cimabue, as we shall find in the fourth book. The other circumstance alluded to is, that when he mentions a picture which does honour to the fame of Cimabue, he attempts to discredit its history, and the tradition; as I have already observed with regard to the two large pictures in the church of Assisi, and am now under the necessity of remarking with regard to the two Madonnas at Florence above mentioned. He "strongly suspects"[256] them to be the work of Mino da Turrita, since mosaic, in which Mino was expert, is there represented by a skilful hand; and Cimabue was not dexterous in that art; as if a painter could not represent buildings without being an architect, or garments without knowing how to cut them out, or drapery without being versed in the art of weaving. He even doubts whether Giotto visited France, for, had this been the case, he, and not Simone da Siena, would have painted [Pg 381]the portrait of Laura, as if history did not inform us that Giotto visited that country about 1316, long before the period when Petrarca first became enamoured of that beauty. He has introduced some other speculations, which he would not have admitted, had he not been betrayed into it, almost involuntarily, by a system which has some probable foundation, but is carried to an extravagant length. I should have been silent on this subject; but when writing of these artists it became me to recollect that the unicuique suum was no less the duty of the historian than the judge.

The authors of chronicles require correction on the era of this painter. The most undoubted picture of Guido is that bearing the date 1221, for the other in the church of S. Bernardino, dated 1262, is ascribed to him without sufficient evidence. It is hardly probable that he who was so eminent in a new art in 1221, was still alive in 1295, as is affirmed by some,[257] on the faith of a sum of money paid to one Guido, a painter. The celebrated Guido must then have been at least 105 years of age: it is more probable that he was dead, and the name applied to another Guido, without any danger of a mistake.

It is generally believed that the elder Guido instructed F. Mino, or Giacomino da Turrita, the celebrated artist in mosaic, of whom we have spoken in the first book. On the era of Mino also much has been written without sufficient authority. Baldinucci says he died about 1300; and omits to mention in his life that he was employed in 1225;[Pg 382] although this date is legible on the mosaic of Mino in the church of S. Giovanni at Florence, in letters a cubit in length.[258] This circumstance has likewise escaped the historians of Siena, some of whom have prolonged his life to the year 1298, on the authority of payment made to Minuccio, a painter; and others have extended it to about 1200, on account of the tomb of Boniface VIII. which is said to be the work of Turrita. The utmost period that can be granted them is about 1290: for Titi observes, in his Description of the Paintings in Rome, that Mino finished the mosaic of S. Maria Maggiore in 1289, and died, after beginning another in S. Giovanni Laterano, which was completed by Gaddo Gaddi in 1292. This renders it extremely doubtful that F. Mino was taught painting by Guido, that he imparted it not only to Giotto, whom, for other reasons, we have excluded from his school (p. 20) but to the Sienese artists, Memmi and Lorenzetti,[259] and even that he was a painter; all which is founded on the following memorandum, under the year 1289, [Pg 383]in a manuscript in the library of Siena: "Paid on the twelfth day of August, nineteen lire to Master Mino, the painter, who painted the Virgin Mary, and other SS. in the council room of the public palace, the balance, &c."

He who is here denominated Maestro Mino, not Fra Mino; who is sometimes called Minuccio, a diminutive not fitted for an old monk; and appears to have been employed in Siena when Fra Mino was at Rome, is another artist. Thus we discover another eminent painter of the name of Mino, or Minuccio, who seems to be in reality the author of the picture of 1289, above alluded to, which remained in the council hall even within my memory, and of others, down to 1298. He there represented the Virgin and Child, surrounded by angels, and under a canopy, supported by Apostles and the patron saints of the city. The size of the figures, the invention and the distribution of the work, are surprising for that age; of the other qualities one cannot speak with certainty; for it was repaired in 1321 by Simone da Siena, and there are beauties in the features and the drapery that can be ascribed only to the restorer. The mistake thus occasioned by the same name being cleared up, the system of the learned author of the Lettere Sanesi, is in part confirmed, and in part falls to the ground. He is right in refusing to Giotto certain Sienese pupils, referred to him only from traces of a more modern style; for we here discover an artist who made some advances towards the new manner even previous to Giotto, who, in 1289, [Pg 384]was only thirteen years of age. Now this Mino, and Duccio, of whom we shall soon treat, might certainly have formed pupils able to compete with the school of Giotto, and even in length of years to surpass Giotto himself. There is no reason, however, to prefer the Sienese painters to Cimabue, on the strength of this painting, as the author in question has so often done. Comparison ought to be employed between painter and painter, between contemporary and contemporary. F. Mino, to whom this single picture was attributed, is now shewn to have been merely a mosaic worker: Mino or Minuccio began to be known when Cimabue was fifty years of age; and is the author of a single work, not so free from retouches, nor so large as that of Assisi, already described. The comparison then is not just.

Every school thinks itself sufficiently honoured when it can produce two or three painters of the thirteenth century: the school of Siena is peculiarly rich in them, and these are recorded in the twenty-fifth letter On the disciples of Guido. As usual I shall omit the names of those least entitled to recollection. I will not affirm that all of them proceeded from the school of Guido; for in a city where the fine arts flourished so rapidly, masters unknown to us may have been produced. Much less will I ascribe artists of other cities to this school. In the manuscripts of Mancini, one Bonaventura da Lucca is mentioned, who is the Berlingieri already mentioned.[260] I neither assign him [Pg 385]to Guido nor to Giunta. Who can tell whether Lucca had not also in those early times an original school, now unknown to us? Setting aside uncertain points therefore, we can only assert, that after the middle of the century, Siena abounded in painters, more, perhaps, than any other city of Italy; and the causes of this are as follows.

The cathedral was begun several years before, in a style of magnificence suited to the lordly views of the citizens. It was not a work to be completed in a short time: hence it was frequently interrupted, and a long period had elapsed before it was finished. During this time many architects (magistri lapidum) and sculptors either were invited from other places, or were reared up in the city; and in 1250 they formed a corporate body, and required particular laws.[261] Although nothing is ascertained with regard to their mode of study, it is natural to suppose that the study of sculpture contributed to the advancement of painting, a sister art. The celebrated battle of Monte Aperto, in which the people of Siena defeated the Florentines, happened in 1260. This victory produced an era of peace and opulence to the city, and encouraged both in public and in private the arts depending on luxury. The victory was ascribed to the interference of the blessed Virgin Mary, to whom the city was consecrated; the adoration of her votaries increased, and her images were multiplied in the streets, and in all other places; and thence painting [Pg 386]obtained fresh encouragement, and new followers.

Ugolino da Siena should be referred to this era; he died decrepid in 1339, and consequently might have been born before 1260. We cannot agree with Vasari, who insinuates that he was the scholar of Cimabue; nor with Baldinucci, who ingrafts him on his Tree; nor yet with others who assert that he was the pupil of Guido; for the latter must have been dead when Ugolino was very young. That he was educated in Siena, seems to me highly probable, from the number of masters then in that city, and because the colouring of his Madonna of Orsanmichele at Florence is in the style of the old school of Siena; less strong and less true than that of Cimabue and the Florentines. This fact appears to me of importance, for it depends on the mechanism of the art, which was different in different schools. Design at that early period savoured more or less of the Greeks; and in this respect Ugolino adhered to them too closely. "He painted pictures and chapels over all Italy," says Vasari; and if I am not mistaken he came to Florence after his travels, and at length died at Siena.

Duccio di Boninsegna is another master of this age, of whom I shall speak in another place, as the inventor of a new species of painting. Tizio says he was the pupil of Segna, an artist now almost unknown in Siena. He must, however, have enjoyed great celebrity in his day among his countrymen; for Tizio informs us that he painted a picture at[Pg 387] Arezzo, containing a figure which he pronounces excellent and highly esteemed. He has transmitted to us the following remarkable testimony concerning Duccio: "Ducius Senensis inter ejusdem opificii artifices eâ tempestate primarius; ex cujus officinâ veluti ex equo Trojano pictores egregii prodierunt."

The eâ tempestate refers to 1311, when Giotto was at Avignon; and when Duccio was employed on the picture that still exists in the opera-house, which was completed in three years, and almost forms an era in the art. It was large enough to have formed a picture for the great altar of the metropolitan church for which it was intended. On the side facing the people he painted large figures of the Virgin, and of various saints; on that fronting the choir he represented scriptural subjects, in many compartments, in which he introduced a vast number of figures a palm in length. Pius II. relates in his Annals of Siena, which were never published, that it cost 2,000 florins; others raise it to 3,000; but not so much on account of the workmanship as the profusion of gold and ultramarine. The style is generally thought to approach the Greek manner; the work, however, is the most copious in figures, and among the best executed productions of that age. Duccio was employed in many parts of Tuscany, and in the church of the Trinity at Florence he painted an Annunciation which, in the opinion of Baldinucci, "leaves no doubt that he was a scholar of Giotto, [Pg 388]or of his disciples." But this will not be granted or believed by those who have seen it; for both the colouring and the style are totally dissimilar. Chronology, too, opposes the conclusion; unless we introduce here also a confusion, arising from artists with similar names: Duccio painted from 1282,[262] and died about 1340.[263]

The history becomes more complete, when we arrive at the celebrated Simone Memmi, or Simone di Martino,[264] the painter of Laura, and the friend of Petrarca, who has celebrated him in two sonnets that will hand him down to the latest posterity. The poet has also eulogized him in his letters, where he thus speaks: "duos ego novi pictores egregios ... Joctum Florentinum civem, cujus inter modernos fama ingens est, et Simonem Senensem;" which is not, however, comparing him to Giotto, to whom he pays a double compliment, but it is giving Memmi the next rank. In such a convenient place the poet would not, in my opinion, have omitted Jocti discipulum, had he been acquainted with such a circumstance: but he appears to have no knowledge of it; and this renders it doubtful whether Simone was the pupil of Giotto at Rome, notwithstanding the assertion of Vasari, who adds that the latter was then engaged [Pg 389]in the mosaic of the Navicella. The writers of Siena contradict him with good reason; for in 1298 Simone was only fourteen years of age.[265] They reckon him the scholar of their Mino, and certainly he derived much from the large fresco before noticed: but as he retouched it himself we cannot put much faith on the resemblance. His colouring is more vivid than that of the followers of Giotto, and in floridness it seems a prelude to Baroccio. But if he was not the scholar of Giotto, he may have assisted him in some of his works, or, perhaps, studied him closely, as many eminent painters have often done with the best masters. This may account for his imitating Giotto so admirably in S. Peter's at Rome; a merit which procured him an invitation to the papal court at Avignon, where he [Pg 390]died. The picture of the Vatican has perished; but some of his other works still exist in Italy; and they are not so numerous at Siena as in Pisa and Florence. In the Campo Santo of Pisa we find various actions of S. Ranieri, and the celebrated Assumption of the Virgin, amid a choir of angels, who seem actually floating in the air, and celebrating the triumph. Memmi was excellent in this species of composition, as I believe, from the numerous pictures of this subject which he painted at Siena, where there is one at the church of S. John, which is more copious but not more beautiful than that at Pisa. Some of his larger works may be seen in the chapter house of the Spanish Friars at Florence; several histories of Christ, of S. Domenico, and of S. Peter Martyr; and there the Order of the Preaching Friars are poetically represented as engaged in the service of the church, in rejecting innovators, and in luring souls to paradise. Vasari, to whom the inventions of Memmi appear "not those of a master of that age, but of a most excellent modern artist," especially praises the last: and, indeed, it might be supposed that it was suggested by Petrarch, did not a comparison of dates refute such an idea. The picture was painted in 1332, and Simone went not to France till 1336; what is said about the portrait of Laura in the chapterhouse is a mere fable. Taddeo Gaddi, an undoubted pupil of the improved and dignified school of Giotto, was there his competitor; and as far surpassed Memmi in the qualities of that school, as he was excelled [Pg 391]by the latter in spirit, in variety of the heads and attitudes, in fancy of the draperies, and in originality of composition. Simone paved the way to more complex pictures, and extended them over a whole façade, so as to be taken in at one glance of the eye; whereas Giotto used to divide a large surface into many compartments, in each of which he painted an historical picture.

Although I do not usually dwell on miniature painting, I cannot resist mentioning one which is to be seen in the Ambrosian library at Milan, which appears to me a singular production. In that place, there is a manuscript of Virgil, with the commentary of Servius, which formerly belonged to Petrarca. In the frontispiece is a miniature that is reasonably conjectured to have been suggested to Simone by the poet, who has subjoined the following verses:

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

The artist has represented Virgil sitting in the attitude of writing, and with his eyes raised to heaven, invoking the favour of the Muses. Æneas is before him in the garb and with the demeanour of a warrior, and, pointing with his sword, intimates the subject of the Æneid. The Bucolics are represented by a shepherd, and the Georgics by a husbandman; both of whom are on a lower foreground of the piece, and appear listening to the strain. Servius, in the mean time, appears drawing aside a veil of great delicacy and transparency, to intimate [Pg 392]that his readings unveil what would otherwise have remained obscure and doubtful to the reader of that divine poet. An account of this picture is contained in a letter of the secretary Ab. Carlo Bianconi,[266] where the author praises the originality of the idea, the colouring and harmony of the picture, the propriety and variety in the costume according with the subject. He also remarks a little rudeness in the design, more of truth than of beauty in the heads, and the largeness of the hands; that usually, indeed, were the characteristics of every school at this period.

Simone had a relation named Lippo Memmi, whom he himself instructed in the art. Although he was not equal in genius to Simone, he succeeded admirably in imitating his manner, and, aided by his designs, produced pictures that might have passed for the work of the former, had he not inscribed them with his name. When he wrought without such assistance there is a manifest mediocrity in his invention and design; but he is still a good colourist. A picture executed by them both is preserved in S. Ansano di Castelvecchio of Siena.[267] [Pg 393]In Ancona, Assisi, and other places, pictures existed that were begun by the former, and finished by the latter. There is a picture wholly the work of Lippo in Siena; and the author of the Description of Pisa records one at the church of S. Paul in that place, which is not without merit. In my first edition, implicitly following the writers of chronicles, I mentioned a Cecco di Martino as the brother of Simone. But on considering that he flourished about 1380, and that there was a less celebrated Simon Martino, in Siena, about 1350, mentioned by Cittadini, I do not judge it right to follow their authority.

An artist named Lorenzo, and familiarly Lorenzetto, was the father of another family of painters: he had a son named Ambrogio, who is surnamed Lorenzetti by historians. A large picture by this artist, on which he subscribes himself Ambrosius Laurentii, is to be seen in the public palace, and may be designated a poem of moral precepts. The vices of a bad government are there represented under different aspects, and with appropriate symbols; accompanied by verses explanatory of their nature and consequences. The Virtues, too, are there personified with suitable emblems: and the whole is adapted to form governors and politicians for the republic, animated by the spirit of genuine patriotism alone. Had there been a greater variety in the countenances of the figures, and a superior arrangement [Pg 394]in the piece, it would have been little inferior to the finest pictures in the Campo Santo of Pisa. Siena possesses many of his frescos and large pictures; but they are not so surprising as his smaller works, in which he appears as the forerunner of B. Angelico, whom we have commended in another place. I have observed nothing similar in his contemporaries; and it possesses a nationality of character that prevents his being confounded with the followers of Giotto: the ideas, the colouring, and the draperies, are wholly different. In a similar taste is a picture in the possession of Sig. Abate Ciaccheri, librarian to the university of Siena, where Ambrogio painted some very original works, in which he very far surpassed the Orcagni. His style was admired in Florence; where, to please his friends, who were desirous of seeing a specimen of his art, he painted several pieces from the life of S. Nicholas, in the church of S. Proculus, that were afterwards transferred to the abbey.

Another son of Lorenzo was called Pietro, and, in conjunction with his brother, painted the Presentation, and Nuptials of Our Lady, in the hospital of Siena, on which the following inscription was legible: Hoc opus fecit Petrus Laurentii et Ambrosius ejus frater, 1335. The inscription is preserved by Cav. Pecci, who in 1720, when the painting was destroyed, transcribed it most opportunely for correcting Vasari, who had read Petrus Laurati instead of Laurentii in another inscription; from which he concluded this artist not [Pg 395]to be the brother of Ambrogio; and from some similarity between his style and that of Giotto, had concluded that he was the disciple of the latter: but it is highly improbable that with such a father and such a brother, Pietro would have gone from home for instruction. Vasari gives, however, a most favourable opinion of this illustrious Sienese, which may suffice to vindicate his impartiality. He says of one of his pictures, "that it was executed with a better design and in a superior manner to any thing that Tuscany had then seen;" and in another place he asserts, that Pietro "became a better master than either Cimabue or Giotto." What could he have said further? might it have been asserted that he was, if not the disciple of Giotto, at least his fellow student in the school of F. Mino? (Vasari, tom. ii. p. 78. ed. Sen.) But granting that Giotto was not his master, how are we to believe him his fellow student? The first pictures of Giotto are traced to 1295; those of Pietro to 1327. And where, when, or to whom did F. Mino teach painting? Pietro's historical picture of the Fathers dell' Eremo remains in the Campo Santo of Pisa, where, in conformity with ecclesiastical history, he has painted the various discipline of those recluses. This picture, if I am not mistaken, is richer in ideas, more original, and better conceived than any one in that place. In the ducal gallery there is a copy of this picture, if not a duplicate by the artist himself: the taste of the colouring certainly belongs not to the Florentine, but to the Sienese school, of that period.

[Pg 396]After painting had attained so high a degree of excellence in Siena, it was liable to decline, both from the usual lot of the most auspicious eras, to which an age of servile imitation, and of hurried execution, generally succeeds, and also from the terrible plague which, in 1348, desolated Italy and Europe; sweeping off distinguished masters and pupils in every school. Siena, however, did not lose her Lorenzetti, who constituted her ornament for several years; but if her population at one time equalled 75,000, it was afterwards greatly diminished. She could, however, still vie in the number of her artists with Florence itself. This clearly appears from The Statutes of the Painters of Siena,[268] published by P. della Valle, in his first volume, letter sixteen. They are drawn up with the characteristic simplicity, clearness, and precision of the thirteenth century; and are a very admirable body of regulations for the due propriety and direction of artists, and for the honour of the art. We can discern that this society consisted of cultivated and well educated persons; and it does not excite astonishment to find that, democratic in government as Siena then was, the highest magistrates of the republic were sometimes elected from among the professors of the art. They formed a body-corporate; not merely a fraternity, nor an academy of design; and received their charter, not from the bishop but from the city, or the republic in 1355. Some have conjectured that those statutes are as old as the preceding century; and that they [Pg 397]were translated into Italian from the Latin about 1291: for Tizio informs us that, in this year, "Statuta maternâ linguâ edita sunt ad ambiguitates tollendas." But Tizio must have meant the statutes concerning wool, and others then existing; and those of the artists may have been framed at a subsequent period. Indeed, the manner in which they are drawn up, without a reference to preceding ordinances, indicates a first edition. If there were statutes published in the vulgar tongue in 1291, why was the sanction of the law deferred for 66 years? or why are the new not distinguished from the old, as is usual in similar codes?

In the code to which I refer, the names of a great number of artists are inscribed, who lived after 1350 and at the beginning of the next century. With the exception of a few who merit some consideration I shall pass them over in silence as I did in the Florentine school. I find among them Andrea di Guido,[269] Jacomo di Frate Mino, and Galgano di Maestro Minuccio; and I bring these forward to confirm what I have before observed, that painters of the same name have introduced confusion into the history of this school. I also find there N. Tedesco, Vannino da Perugia, Lazzaro da Orvieto, Niccolò da Norcia, Antonio da Pistoia, and other foreign artists: thence I infer that Siena, like a university for painting, had furnished [Pg 398]masters to various cities of Italy, and other countries. We here meet with some painters of whom there still remains some trace in history, or in the inscriptions on pictures. Martino di Bartolommeo is the artist who, in 1405, painted the Translation of the Body of S. Crescentius at the cathedral, and of whom a still better picture remains at S. Antonio Abate. His family name brings to mind Bartolommeo Bolonghino, or Bolgarino, mentioned by Vasari as the best pupil of Pietro Laurati, and the painter of some excellent pictures in Siena, and other parts of Italy. He was a man of rank, and obtained the honour of the magistracy. Andrea di Vanni is undoubtedly the painter of the S. Sebastian in the convent of S. Martin, and of the Madonna surrounded by saints in that of S. Francis; an artist not unknown beyond the limits of his native country, especially in Naples, where he painted before 1373. He was likewise employed in public embassies, and, like another Rubens, was a magistrate, and ambassador of the republic to the Pope: and was honored by S. Catherine of Siena, who, in one of her letters, gives him some excellent advice on the subject of government.

About the year 1370 flourished Berna, (i. e. Bernardo) da Siena, of whom Vasari says, that "he was the first who painted animals correctly;" and at the same time allows him no common merit in the human figure, especially in what regards expression. One of his frescos remains in the parish church of Arezzo, more praiseworthy on account[Pg 399] of the extremities, in which he was superior to many of that age, than for the drapery or the colouring, in which many artists surpassed him. He died in the prime of life, about the year 1380, at S. Gimignano, after having made considerable progress in a copious work, consisting of some subjects from sacred history, that still remains in that parish church. The work was continued with a superior colouring, but with a less pure design, by Giovanni d'Asciano, who is his reputed scholar. The whole still exists, and thirteen of the pictures, or perhaps more, are the work of the scholar who exercised his art at Florence, under the protection of the Medicean family, much respected by his fellow artists. As those two painters lived long abroad, I find no mention of them in the catalogue just quoted. There is a well executed altar-piece in Venice, with the name Bernardinus de Senis. Some of his pictures have been discovered in the diocese of Siena, by the Archbishop Zondadari, who has formed a good collection of ancient pictures of the Sienese school. In these pictures Berna appears to be a pretty good colourist, a talent which he does not display in his frescos. Luca di Tomè, another scholar of Berna, noticed by Vasari, is there mentioned. One of his Holy Families remains at S. Quirico, in the convent of the Capuchins, and bears the date of 1367. It has not sufficient softness, but in other respects is very reputable.

In the beginning of the fifteenth century, not[Pg 400] only individual painters, but whole families of artists had multiplied, in which the art for a long series of years descended from father to son. This circumstance contributed greatly to the progress of painting: for the master, who is likewise the father, teaches without any feeling of jealousy, and generally aims at forming a pupil superior to himself. The family of the Fredi, or the Bartoli, became celebrated beyond all the rest. The reputation of Taddeo, who began to be distinguished in the fourteenth century, rose very high. In the records he is styled Thaddæus magistri Bartholi magistri Fredi,[270] from his father[271] and grandfather, artists of some name. By him, "as the best master of the age," says Vasari, the chapel of the public palace was painted, where some historical pieces representing our Lady, are yet to be seen; and in 1414 he ornamented the adjoining hall. Besides some pictures from sacred history, he there formed, as it were, a gallery of illustrious men, chiefly republicans; and for the edification of the citizens, added some Latin and Italian verses; a mode of instruction very liberally employed in this school. The chief merit of the work lies in the dignity and originality of its invention, which was afterwards imitated in part by Pietro Perugino,[Pg 401] in the hall of the Exchange, at Perugia. The portraits are ideal; they are dressed in the costume of Siena, even when they represent Romans and Grecians, and their attitudes are not happy. His pictures at Pisa and in Volterra, mentioned by Vasari, still exist; and that of the Arena in Padua, in the tribune of the church, is well preserved. In it we discover practical skill, little variety, and less grace in the heads, feeble tints, and imitations of Giotto, that lose their value on a comparison with the original. Some of his small pictures do him greater honour; and in them an imitation of Ambrogio, his great prototype, is conspicuous, and also the subdued but agreeable colouring of this school; which, like all the others in Italy, excelled about this period more in small than in large proportions.

The manner of Taddeo was first pursued and afterwards meliorated, and greatly aggrandized by Domenico Bartoli, his nephew and disciple. Foreign connoisseurs behold with delight the various fresco pictures which he painted in the pilgrim's ward of the hospital, representing the circumstances of its foundation, and the exercises of christian charity bestowed upon the sick, the dying, and the indigent. On comparing these, one with another, the artist displays considerable improvement, and a greater freedom than usual from the old dryness: his design and perspective are better, his compositions more scientific; without taking into account the richness and variety of ideas, [Pg 402]which he has in common with the artists of this school. From those pictures Raffaello and Pinturicchio, while painting at Siena, took many of their notions of national costume, and, perhaps, of some other particulars: for it is characteristic of great minds to derive advantage even from examples not above mediocrity.

Thus the art was gradually advancing in the republic, when new opportunities were afforded for producing works on a grand scale; occasions in which genius is developed and invigorated. Siena gave Pius II. to the chair of S. Peter, who, to the most ardent love of his country, united a taste for magnificence; and during his residence in the city, it was embellished with architecture, and every kind of ornament. He would have been still more profuse, had he not, disgusted with the ingratitude of the people, turned his attention and beneficence to Rome. Among other advantages he conferred on the state of Siena, was that of adding to its territory the city of Corsignano, his native place; which from him was afterwards called Pienza. The new city received from him another form, and new edifices, among which was the cathedral. It was erected in 1462, and for its decoration he invited the best artists of Siena, Ansano and Lorenzo di Pietro, Giovanni di Paolo, and Matteo his son. Their style was laborious and minute; the universal character of that age: for the manner of painting was introduced and transferred from one country into another, without our[Pg 403] being able to discover where it originated; but in the arts depending on design, as we have before remarked, when the path is once opened, the natural genius of each school will regulate its further progress. These four artists are mentioned in the catalogue of Sienese artists; and Ansano, or Sano, at one time enjoyed the highest reputation. About 1422 he had painted the beautiful fresco which still remains over the Roman gate; and which represents the Coronation of the Virgin: it is much in the style of Simone, and in some respects it surpasses him. A picture by this artist of inferior merit remains in the church of Pienza. Lorenzo di Pietro, surnamed Il Vecchietta, was eminent in sculpture and in casting in bronze; and he is noticed by Vasari. He was less successful in painting, and offends by hardness, as far as we can determine from the small remains of him in Siena, for there are none existing at Pienza. A picture of his, with the date 1457, was lately added to the Medicean gallery. Giovanni di Paolo makes a good figure in Pienza; and a still better in a Descent from the Cross, painted four years afterwards in the Osservanza of Siena; in which the defects of the age are counterbalanced by qualities, at that time by no means common, displaying a considerable knowledge of the naked figure.

Matteo di Giovanni was then young, but surpassed them all in the extent of his genius. This is the Matteo denominated by some the Masaccio of this school, although there is a great distance[Pg 404] between him and the Florentine Masaccio. The new style of Matteo begins to be recognized in one of his two pictures in the cathedral. He afterwards improved it in his works in the church of S. Domenico, at Siena, in Madonna della Neve, and in some other churches; and it was he who first excited the Neapolitan school to attempt a less antiquated style. Having learnt the process of painting in oil, he imparted sufficient softness to his figures; and from his intimacy with Francesco di Giorgio, a celebrated architect,[272] he imbibed a good taste in buildings, and diversified them very ingeniously with alto and basso-relievos. He foreshortened level objects well; he cast draperies with more of nature, and with less frippery than was common in that age; if he imparted little beauty to the features, he attained, at least, variety of expression; and was sufficiently attentive in marking the muscles and veins in his figures. He did not always aim at novelty and display in his invention; on the contrary, after painting a Murder of the Innocents, which was his best composition,[273] he often repeated it in Siena, and in Naples, but always with improvements: his most[Pg 405] studious picture on this subject is that at the Servi of Siena, painted in 1491, which must have been near the close of his life. He was accustomed to introduce into his pictures some episode, unconnected with the principal story, in small figures, a style in which he excelled. The noble house of Sozzini and some other families in Siena, possess several of his small pictures. As an artist, he is inferior to Bellini, to Francia, or Vannucci; but surpasses many others. Another eminent Sienese, who flourished in the first ages of oil painting, is made known to us by Ciriaco Anconitano,[274] who was acquainted with him in 1449, at the court of Leonello, Marquis of Este. This artist was named Angelo Parrasio: he painted the nine muses in the palace of Belfiore, near Ferrara, in imitation of the manner of Giovanni and Ruggieri da Bruggia.

[247] See Lettere Sanesi, tom. ii. let. 23, addressed to the author of this work.

[248] See Lett. Sen. tom. ii. p. 23, et sequent.

[249] In regard to these documents the public is much indebted to the Abate Ciaccheri, the learned librarian of the city, who employed himself for many years in collecting them; but his eyes failing him, it became necessary that others should publish them: the excellent historian has frequently made mention of him.

[250] The work was published by Trombelli, at Bologna, in 1766. Della Valle, tom. i. p. 278. What he adds, that this very Oderico may be the Oderigi da Gubbio, noticed by Dante in the xith canto of his Purgatorio, ought not to be admitted. Dante might, for the sake of rhyme, change Oderico into Oderigi; but he has said, in the middle of the verse, that the celebrated miniature painter was a native of Gubbio. Moreover, the latter, who died about 1300, could not have painted in 1213.

[251] See Della Valle, tom. ii. p. 273.

[252] This is an Annunciation, with the following verse:

Virgo parit Christum velut Angelus intimat ipso.

The error in the last word stands on the picture.

[253] Hard by the cathedral of that city there are two lions, on one of which, in a mixture of Greek and Latin characters, is written,

Mahister Thexde fevit (fecit) & fevit fieri ambos istos.

[254] See Lettere Sanesi, tom. i. p. 243.

[255] Tom. ii. p. 15.

[256] P. 288.

[257] See Lett. Sen. tom. ii. p. 276.

[258] Vigintiquinque Christi cum mille ducentis, &c. Vide Piacenza, tom. i. p. 70. Baldinucci was extremely diligent in his research of epochs; but he took care not to mention this, inasmuch as it overturned his system.

[259] History only gives him some assistants in mosaic; at Pisa Tafi and Gaddo Gaddi; at Rome, in S. Maria Maggiore, a Franciscan monk, who there executed a portrait of himself, and inscribed his name, that is now illegible, and his native place, which was Camerino. One F. Giacomo da Camerino painted in the cathedral of Orvieto in 1321, and it is probable that this is the same artist.

[260] See ante, p. 14.

[261] See Lett. Sen. p. 279.

[262] Lett. Sen. tom. i. p. 277.

[263] Ibid. tom. ii. p. 69.

[264] Martino was the father of Simone; Memmo or Guglielmo his father-in-law; and in the inscriptions on his pictures he sometimes assumes the one name, and sometimes the other. Benvoglienti.

[265] I conjecture this on the authority of Vasari, who says, that he died in 1345, at the age of 60. In the genuine books at S. Domenico, of Siena, we find this sentence "Magister Simon Martini pictor mortuus est in curiâ; cujus exequias fecimus ... 1344." Since Vasari approaches so near the truth in the time of the painter's death, we may reasonably credit him also in his age. Mancini says he was born about 1270; which gives occasion for P. della Valle to mention Simone as a contemporary, and a competitor of Giotto at Rome. I cannot agree with him on this date, and the information drawn by him from books belonging to the Sienese hospital, that Simone was in Siena in 1344, only a few months before his death, at the court of the Pope at Avignon, strengthens my opinion. I cannot believe that an old man of seventy-four would transfer his residence from Siena to Avignon. If we credit Vasari the difficulty vanishes, inasmuch as Simone, being then scarcely sixty, might be equal to undertake so long a journey.

[266] See Lett. Senesi, tom. ii. p. 101.

[267] There is on it A. D. 1333, Simon Martini et Lippus Memmi de Senis me pinxerunt. It is now in the ducal gallery at Florence. It may be remarked on the chronology of this painter, that where we find not Memmi but only Lippo or Filippo, it does not always seem intended for him. Thus the M. Filippo, who received a sum of money in 1308, and that Lippo, who, in 1361, is said to be the assistant of another artist, (Lett. Sen. tom. ii. p. 110), most probably are not to be identified with Memmi. He was younger than his relation, and according to Vasari, survived him 14 years.

[268] Statuti dell' arte de' Pittori Senesi.

[269] This Guido da Siena is, perhaps, the one mentioned by Sacchetti in his eighty-fourth tale, and of whom there remains a picture in the church of S. Antonio, painted in 1362. Baldinucci.

[270] Manfredi.

[271] In the parish church of S. Gimignano is an historical fresco of this artist, dated 1356, and in that of S. Agostino, a painting in a much better style, according to Vasari, executed in 1388, which date P. della Valle gives as 1358.

[272] He was a good sculptor; and, according to the custom of the time of uniting the three sister arts, he also practised painting, but not with great success. I have not seen any of his pictures but a Nativity, in which he chiefly appears emulous of Mantegna. It is in the possession of Sig. Abate Ciaccheri, whose collection will greatly assist any one desirous of becoming acquainted with this school.

[273] An engraving of it is in the third volume of Lettere Sanesi.

[274] In the fragment of a letter, quoted by Sig. Abate Colucci in Antichità Picene, tom. xv. p. 143. "Cujus nempe inclytæ artis et eximii artificum ingenii egregium equidem imitatorem Angelum Parrasium Senensem, recens picturæ in Latio specimen vidimus," &c.

[Pg 406]



Foreign Painters at Siena. The origin and progress of the modern style in that city.

Before this era we have met with no strangers who had taught painting, or had changed the manner of this school. The art had there existed for three centuries, always, or almost always,[275] under the guidance of native painters; and it had even been provided by the statutes of the art, that no foreigner might be encouraged to practise it at Siena. In one chapter it is enacted, that "any stranger, wishing to be employed, shall pay a florin;" and elsewhere, that "he may receive a just and sufficient recompense to the extent of twenty-five livres." The provision was subtle: on the one hand they did not, with a marked inhospitality, positively exclude strangers; but, on the other, they deprived them of any chance of rivalling the artists of the city in employment at Siena. Hence it came to pass, according to P. della Valle, that no pictures[Pg 407] of other schools, but those of a late period, are to be found there. But this circumstance, though favourable to the artist, was, in no small degree, detrimental to the art: for the school of Siena, by admitting strangers, would have swelled the list of her great masters; and she might have kept pace with other schools; but this she neglected, and, after having vied with the Florentine school in painting, and even surpassed it for some years, towards the close of the fifteenth century Siena could not, perhaps, boast of a better artist than Capanna, who executed some façades from the designs of others;[276] or than Andrea del Brescianino, who, in conjunction with one of his brothers, is said to have painted some pictures, with which I am unacquainted, in the church of the Olivetine Friars. They have been more commended by historians than Bernardino Fungai, an artist whose style was modernized, but dry,[277] than Neroccio, or any other Sienese painter of that period; but they could not be compared to the best masters of Italy. The nobility perceived the decline of the native school, and the necessity of supporting it by the accession of foreign artists; they wished for such assistance, to the dissatisfaction, probably, [Pg 408]of the populace, every where apt to contend that the provender of the land should rather feed the native beast of burden than the foreign steed. The Florentine style of painting found its way to Rome; but ancient rivalry and political jealousy prevented its introduction into Siena. Perugia seemed a less objectionable ally; and from that place, first Bonfigli, and afterwards his scholar Pietro Perugino, who executed two pictures at Siena, were invited; and at length several scholars also of the latter were called, who long remained in the service of two celebrated natives of Siena. The one was Cardinal Francesco Piccolomini, who soon after became Pius III. For the purpose of decorating the sacristy of the cathedral, and the chapel of his family, with various pictures from the life of Pius II. he invited Pinturicchio to Siena, and this artist carried along with him other scholars of Perugino, and even Raffaello himself, who is reported to have designed either wholly, or in a great measure, those historical pictures. The other was Pandolfo Petrucci, who, for some time, usurped the government of the republic: eagerly desirous of embellishing the palace and some churches, he availed himself of Signorelli, and of Genga,[278] and recalled Pinturicchio.

This passed at the beginning of the sixteenth century; for the sacristy was completed in 1503; [Pg 409]the return of Pinturicchio took place in 1508; and, after a short interval, it appears that Genga, the scholar of Perugino, and Signorelli, came to Siena. From that period, the Sienese school began to assume the modern style; and design, a full tone of colouring, and perspective, all attained perfection in a few years. Had Siena produced a family equal to the Medicean in taste, power, and a disposition to encourage the fine arts, what might it not have attained! Siena about this time could boast of four men of talents admirably adapted to produce a great revolution in the art, and these were Pacchiarotto, Razzi, Mecherino, and Peruzzi, all of whom (with the exception of Razzi), Baldinucci, for some reason unknown to me, has derived from the school of Raffaello. The works of Raffaello, then a young man, and of other foreign artists, far from repressing their spirit, awakened in them an honourable emulation. Whoever compares the pictures of Matteo with their works, would conclude that many years had intervened; yet they were all living at the death of Matteo. We now come to the bright era of the school of Siena; and to the consideration of its most eminent masters.

Jacopo Pacchiarotto[279] followed the manner of[Pg 410] Pietro more closely than any of them, although he was not his scholar, and, perhaps, had not been out of Siena before 1535. In that year there happened an insurrection of the people against the government of that city, in which he was a ringleader, and would have suffered an ignominious death, had he not been saved by the Osservantine fathers, who concealed him for some time within a tomb. From thence he secretly withdrew to France, where he assisted Rosso, and is supposed to have died. Siena possesses several of his cabinet pictures and altar-pieces, in the style of Perugino; especially a very beautiful one in the church of S. Christopher. In his frescos, in the church of S. Catherine and of S. Bernardino, where he emulated the ablest artists of Siena, he appears great in composition. The most admired is the copious picture representing the Visit of the Virgin, S. Catherine, to the body of S. Agnes of Montepulciano: the others are executed in a similar taste. He unquestionably appears to have studied Raffaello with the greatest care; and there are heads and whole figures so lively, and with such a grace in the features, that, to some connoisseurs, they seem to possess the ideal beauty of that great artist. Nevertheless, Pacchiarotto is almost unknown beyond the limits of his native place, for he is only incidentally mentioned by Vasari; and his works [Pg 411]have passed under the name of Perugino, or of his school.

Giannantonio Razzi, surnamed Il Sodoma, undoubtedly enjoyed the citizenship of Siena; but it is disputed whether he was born at Vergelle, a Sienese village, or at Vercelli, in Piedmont. Vasari expressly states, that he was invited to Siena by some of the noble family of Spannocchi, and that he was a native of Vercelli; in which opinion he is supported by Tizio, Giovio, Mancini, and all who wrote before Ugurgieri. I am confirmed in it by observing his carnations, his style of chiaroscuro, and other peculiarities of the old school of Milan, and of Giovenone, who flourished at Vercelli in the early years of Razzi; and of this style there appears to me traces in the works of Gio. Antonio; especially in those he executed shortly after he had left his master. I have not observed the historical pictures of S. Benedict, which he painted at Monte Oliveto about 1502, and are so ably described by Sig. Giulio Perini, secretary to the academy of Florence. I have seen those he executed at Rome in the pontificate of Julius II. He painted several in the Vatican, that were defaced, because they did not satisfy the Pope. Raffaello substituted other pictures, but spared the grotesques. Razzi afterwards executed some pictures from the life of Alexander the Great, in the Chigi, now the Farnese palace. The nuptials of Roxana, and the suppliant family of Darius, are the best of them. They do not exhibit the facility, grace, and dignified[Pg 412] heads, that characterize the style of Vinci; but they shew much of his chiaroscuro, which was then greatly followed by the Lombards: perspective, their hereditary attribute, is there conspicuous; they abound in gay images, in little Cupids with their arrows, and a pomp that is captivating.

His works in Siena, the fruit of his studies in Rome, and of his mature age, are still superior. The Epiphany, in the church of S. Augustino, appeared wholly in the style of Vinci to an eminent foreign connoisseur, who mentioned it to me with rapture. The Flagellation of Christ, in the cloister of S. Francis, is preferred to the figures of Michelangiolo by those who are reckoned judges of the art: their unanimous opinion seems to be that Razzi never produced a finer picture. Some think as highly of his S. Sebastian, now in the ducal gallery, which is supposed to have been copied from an antique Torso. The Swoon of S. Catherine of Siena, which he painted in fresco in a chapel of S. Domenico, is a picture in the manner of Raffaello. Peruzzi greatly admired it, and affirmed that he had never seen a swoon so naturally represented. The air and varied expression in the heads of his picture, however, are not borrowed from any artist, and on this account he seems to have extorted the applause even of Vasari. His models, as was usual with the other artists of this school, were selected from among the Sienese, whose heads possess a great degree of innate[Pg 413] gaiety, openness, and spirit. He painted frequently in a hurried manner, without any preparatory study; especially in his old age, when reduced to poverty at Siena, he sought for employment at Pisa, at Volterra, and at Lucca: but in all his pictures I discover traces of an able artist, who, though careless of excellence, never painted badly. Vasari, the great enemy of his fame, who generally styles him Mattaccio,[280] has ascribed to chance, to fortune, or to fancy, whatever he performed well; as if his usual style had been that of a bad painter. Here Vasari betrays a want of memory; for he confessed in the life of Mecherino, that Razzi "possessed the grand principle of design;" in another passage he has praised the brilliant colouring he brought with him out of Lombardy; and before noticing the works of his old age, he has often pronounced the others beautiful, or sometimes most beautiful and wonderful: hence it may be said of him, modo ait, modo negat. Guided by public estimation, Giovio has written of Razzi in a different manner, when speaking of the death of Raffaello, he subjoins: "plures pari pene gloriâ certantes artem exceperunt, et in his Sodomas Vercellensis."[281] He who objects to the [Pg 414]testimony of this eminent scholar, will receive that of a celebrated painter: Annibale Caracci, passing through Siena, said, "Razzi appears a very eminent master of the greatest taste, and (speaking of his best works at Siena) few such pictures are to be seen."[282]

During the many years that Giannantonio lived at Siena, he must have educated many pupils. A few of them only are noticed by Mancini in one of his Fragments;[283] and these are Rustico, the father of Cristofano, an excellent painter of grotesques, with which he filled Siena; Scalabrino, a man of genius, and a poet;[284] and Michelangiolo Anselmi, or Michelangiol da Siena, a painter claimed by several places. We shall consider him in the school of Parma, as he left no work in Siena, except a fresco in the church of Fonte Giusta, a production of his youth, and not worthy of so great a name. A scholar of Razzi, then his assistant, and finally his son-in-law, was Bartolommeo Neroni, otherwise called Maestro Riccio, who after the death of the four great pillars of the school of Siena, supported its [Pg 415]reputation for many years, and probably educated one of its restorers. He may be recognized at the Osservanti, in a Crucifixion with three saints standing around, and people in the distance. But his masterpiece was a Descent from the Cross, much in the manner of Razzi, at the Derelitte. Some of his other pictures yet remain in the city, in which he sometimes appears to mingle the style of his father-in-law, with a certain resemblance to the manner of Vasari, in the distribution of his tints. He is known to have been very excellent in perspective, and particularly so in painting scenery; a specimen of which was engraved by Andreani. He was also greatly skilled in architecture, and had a pension from the magistrates of Lucca for his assistance in their public works. Some books include among his disciples Anselmi, who was rather his kinsman; and Arcangiolo Salimbeni, who finished some of his works after his death, and on this account only has been supposed his scholar. From him we shall commence a new epoch in this school.

Domenico Beccafumi derived the surname of Mecherino from a citizen of Siena, who, having remarked him when a shepherd boy designing something on a stone, augured favourably of his genius; and obtaining the consent of his father, brought him to the city, and according to Gigli, recommended him to Capanna as a scholar. He there employed himself in copying the designs of eminent artists, and in imitating the pictures of Pietro Perugino, whose manner he at first adopted; [Pg 416]nor did he ever wholly get rid of it; and his works in the cathedral of Pisa exhibit a dryness, though they are the productions of his maturer years.[285] Having gone to Rome in the pontificate of Julius II., a new scene was opened to him in the specimens of ancient sculpture, of which he was a most sedulous designer, and in the pictures in which Michelangiolo and Raffaello had assayed their skill. After two years he returned home, and there continuing his close attention to design, he found himself strong enough to contend with Razzi; and, if we may credit Vasari, even to surpass him. He had acquired skill in perspective, and was fertile in invention as a painter. In Siena, Mecherino is ranked after Razzi; and the many places where they vied with each other, facilitates the comparison to those who are disposed to make it. At first he humoured his placid disposition by painting in a sweet style; at that time he made choice of beautiful airs for his heads; and very frequently inserted the portrait of his mistress in his pictures. In this style is his fine picture at the church of the Olivetines of S. Benedict; in which he has represented the titular saint, with S. Jerome, and the Virgin S. Catherine, and where he has added some circumstances of her life in small figures. The last annotator on Vasari prefers this work to many[Pg 417] other pictures of Mecherino, and laments, that, captivated by the energy of Bonarruoti, he had deviated from his original manner. And, indeed, when he aspired to more vigour he frequently appears coarse in his proportions, negligent in his extremities, and harsh in his heads. This defect so increased in his old age that his heads of that period appeared without beauty even to Vasari.

His mode of colouring is not the most true; for it was mannered with a reddish hue, which is, however, fascinating and cheerful to the eye; it is neat, clear, and of such a body that it remains on walls at this day, in the highest preservation. A few of his works remain in Genoa, where he painted the palace of Prince Doria; they are not numerous at Pisa; but they abound in his native place, both in public and in private. His merit was greater in distemper than in oil colouring; and his historical frescos do him greater honour than his other paintings. His skill was great in distributing them to suit the place, and in adapting them to the architecture; he ornamented them with grotesque decorations in such a manner that he required not the aid of gilt stucco, or other gaudy trappings. These inventions have such felicity, that a single glance recals the story to the memory of one acquainted with its circumstances. He treats his subject copiously, with dignity, and with perfect nature: he imparts grandeur to it by his architectural views, and elegance by introducing the usages of antiquity. He peculiarly delighted in the more[Pg 418] recondite principles of the art, which were then less generally employed; as peculiar reflections of fires and other lights; difficult foreshortenings, especially as applied to ceilings, which were then very rare in lower Italy. Vasari has minutely described his figure of Justice; the feet of which are in dark shadow, gradually diminishing to the shoulders, which are invested with a most brilliant celestial light: "Nor is it possible," says he, "to imagine, much less to find, a more beautiful figure ... amongst all that ever were painted to appear foreshortened when viewed from below." According to this verdict, Mecherino deserves the appellation of the Coreggio of lower Italy, in this very difficult branch of painting; for no modern artist had attempted so much before his time. The above mentioned figure is painted on the vaulted ceiling of the consistory of the government; and the artist has arranged below it various oval and square pictures, each representing some memorable exploit of a republican hero. He pursued the same idea in an apartment in the mansion now in possession of the Bindi family, which P. della Valle reckons his masterpiece. The figures resemble those in the Logge of Raffaello: they are better coloured than those in the consistory, and being smaller are, on that account, better designed: for the style of Mecherino resembles a liquor which retains its qualities when shut up in a phial, but evaporates and is dissipated when poured into a larger vessel. This circumstance, however, was common to many others: his [Pg 419]peculiarity consists in what he communicated to Vasari; that, "out of the atmosphere of Siena, he imagined he could not paint successfully;" an effect, according to P. Guglielmo, of the climate; which would be a happy secret for peopling it with painters. Perhaps it is to be explained by the greater degree of quiet and tranquillity that he enjoyed at home, in the society of his friends, among a people ready to encourage him by praise, not to chill him by reproach, and surrounded by all the spectacles and the lively genius of his country; objects eagerly desired by the natives of Siena, but not easily found in other places.

The style of Mecherino, now described, expired with him: for his pupil, Giorgio da Siena, became a painter of grotesques, and imitated Gio. da Udine, both in his own country and at Rome: Giannella, or Gio. da Siena, turned his attention from painting to architecture; and Marco da Pino, surnamed also da Siena, united a variety of styles. Baglione, and the historians of Siena, say, that he was there educated by Beccafumi, and Baldinucci adds, likewise by Peruzzi: P. della Valle, from his brilliant colouring, denies him to them, and assigns him to Razzi. All, however, are agreed that he obtained his knowledge principally from Rome, where he first painted from the cartoons of Ricciarelli or of Perino; and if we may credit Lomazzo, was also instructed by Bonarruoti. We cannot readily find any Florentine capable of following the precepts of Michelangiolo, [Pg 420]without ostentation; but he acquired the principles without the affectation of displaying his knowledge. His manner is grand, select, and full of elegance: it is adduced by Lomazzo as a perfect model for the human figure, and for the just distribution of the light according to the distance of objects; a department of the art in which he shares the glory with Vinci, Tintoretto, and Baroccio. He painted little in Siena except a picture, with which I am not acquainted, in the mansion of the Francesconi family; and few of his works are to be seen at Rome, with the exception of a Pietà, in an altar of Araceli, and some frescos in the church Del Gonfalone. Naples was his field; and there he will again appear as a master and historian of that school.

If conjecture were allowable in assigning masters to painters of the old schools, I should be inclined to reckon Daniele di Volterra rather the scholar of Mecherino, than of Razzi or Peruzzi. We know for certain that he studied at Siena in early life, when those three artists kept an open academy. Peruzzi was wholly a follower of Raffaello; Razzi disliked the Florentine style; and Beccafumi alone aspired to be esteemed a faithful imitator of Bonarruoti: by regarding him, therefore, as the master of Daniele, we can best account for the already noticed predilection of the latter for the style of Michelangiolo. No artist was capable of initiating him better in the art of casting in bronze than Mecherino; or afford him more frequent examples of[Pg 421] that strong opposition of bright and sombre colours that appears in some works of Daniele. Yet I will not depart from the more correct rule which forbids us in such doubtful points to depart readily from history: for each painter was always free to choose his style; he might be directed in one path by his master, and drawn a different way by his own genius, or by accidental circumstances.

Baldassare Peruzzi is one of the numerous individuals whose merit must not be measured by their good fortune. Born in indigent circumstances in the diocese of Volterra, but within the territory of Siena, and of a Sienese father,[286] he was nurtured amid difficulties, and through life was the perpetual sport of misfortune. Reckoned inferior to his rivals, because he was as modest and timid as they were arrogant and impudent; despoiled of his whole property in the sack of Rome; constrained to exist on a mere pittance at Siena, at Bologna, or at Rome,[287] he died when he began to be known, not without suspicion of being poisoned, and with the affliction of leaving a wife and six children almost beggars. His death demonstrated to the world better than his life the greatness of his genius; [Pg 422]and the justness of his epitaph, in which he is compared to the ancients, is allowed by posterity. General consent ranks him among the best architects of his age; and he would also have been classed with the greatest painters, had he coloured as well as he designed, and had always been equal to himself; a thing he could not command during a life so chequered and wretched.

After Peruzzi had received the elements of the art in his native place from an unknown master, he went to Rome for the completion of his studies, in the time of Alexander VI. He knew, admired, and imitated Raffaello (of whom some suppose him a pupil), especially his Holy Families.[288] He approached him nearly in some works in fresco; such as the Judgment of Paris in the castle of Belcaro, which is deemed his best performance, and the celebrated Sybil foretelling the birth of Christ to Augustus, in the Fonte Giusta, of Siena, which is admired as one of the finest pictures in that city. He imparted to it such a divine enthusiasm, that Raffaello himself never surpassed him in treating [Pg 423]this subject; nor Guido, nor Guercino, of whom so many Sybils are exhibited. In great compositions, such as the Presentation in the Pace at Rome,[289] he designs well, gives a faithful representation of the passions, and embellishes the subject by appropriate edifices. His oil paintings are very rare; those representing the Magi, which are shewn in many collections at Florence, Parma, and Bologna, are copies from one of his chiaroscuros, which was afterwards coloured by Girolamo da Trevigi, as we are informed by Vasari. I was told at Bologna, that the picture of Girolamo was lost at sea, and that the picture which the Rizzardi family of that place possess, is a copy by Cesi. His small altar-pieces are uncommonly scarce likewise: and I am unable to point out any of them but one, which contains three half-length figures of the Virgin, the Baptist, and S. Jerome, and is at Torre Babbiana, eighteen miles from Siena.

What I have here related would have added to the glory of any other artist; but is little to the merit of Baldassare. The genius of this man was not limited to the production of excellent cabinet pictures and frescos. I have already said he was an architect; or, as Lomazzo has expressed it, a universal architect: and in this profession, the fruit of his assiduous study of ancient edifices, he ranks among the foremost, and is even preferred to Bramante. [Pg 424]The encomiums bestowed on him by the most celebrated writers on architecture are mentioned in the third volume of the Sienese Letters.[290] No one, however, has done him greater honour than his scholar Serlio, who declares in the introduction to his fourth book, that, whatever merit his work possesses, is not due to himself, but to Baldassare da Siena, of whose manuscripts he became the heir, and the plagiarist, if we are to credit Giulio Piccolomini,[291] and his other townsmen. The declaration above stated absolves Serlio from this imputation, unless it is insisted that he ought to have affixed the name of Baldassare to every anecdote that he learnt or took from those manuscripts; a thing which it would be unreasonable to demand. He has, indeed, frequently mentioned him, and commended him for a sound taste, for facility, and elegance, both in designing edifices, and in ornamenting them. To say the truth, his peculiar merit lies in giving a pleasing effect to his works; and I have not observed any idea of his which in some way does not exhibit the stamp of a lively imagination. This character is apparent in the portico of the Massimi at Rome, the great altar of the metropolitan church of Siena, and the large gateway of the Sacrati palace at Ferrara, which is so finely ornamented that it is named among the rarities of that city, and, in its kind, even of Italy. But what chiefly establishes his reputation as a man of excellent and various genius, [Pg 425]is the Farnese palace, which is "executed with such exquisite grace that it appears created by enchantment, rather than built by human hands."[292]

He was eminently skilled in ornamenting façades; in painting so as to represent real architecture, and basso-relievos of sacrifices, Bacchanalian scenes, and battles, which "serve to maintain the buildings sound and in good order, while they improve their appearance," according to Serlio.[293] He left fine specimens of this art at Siena and in Rome, where he was followed by Polidoro, who carried it to the summit of perfection. Peruzzi practised it at the Farnese palace in those pictures in green earth, with which he covered the outside, and still more in the internal decorations. Not to mention F. Sebastiano, Raffaello himself was employed in the same place: and in one apartment, finished without assistance, the celebrated Galatea. Baldassare painted the ceiling and the corbels with some fables of Perseus, and other heroes: the style is light, spirited, and resembles that of Raffaello, but is unequal to that of his model. Though inferior in figures he was not behind in some other branches. His imitation of stucco ornaments appears so relieved that even Titian was deceived by it, and found it necessary to change his point of view before he could be convinced of his error. A similar ocular deception is produced by the hall where a colonnade [Pg 426]is represented, the intercolumniations of which make it appear much larger than it really is. This work induced Pietro Aretino to say, that the palace "contained no picture more perfect in its kind."[294] And if the scenes which he painted for the plays, represented in the Apostolical palace for the amusement of Leo X. had survived to our days, the perspective paintings of Peruzzi would have obtained greater fame than the Calandra of Card. da Bibbiena; and it would have been said of him, as of the ancient, that he discovered a new art, and brought it to perfection. The observation of Vasari, Lomazzo, and other old writers, that Peruzzi was not to be surpassed in perspective, has been recently confirmed by Sig. Milizia in the Memoirs of Architects. In this art he appears to me to have given the first and most classic examples. When I have occasion hereafter to notice celebrated perspectives in Rome, in Venice, or Bologna, we must recollect, that if others surpassed him in the vastness of their works, they never did so in their perfection. Maestro Riccio is praised in Siena as second to him in perspective, and was his scholar for some time; but afterwards he imitated the figures of his father-in-law.

The merit of Baldassare in grotesque is better seen at Siena than in Rome. This sort of painting, always the offspring of a whimsical fancy, was congenial to Mecherino and to Razzi; and both practised it with success. The latter seemed born to conceive and to execute it with unpremeditated [Pg 427]facility; he painted in this style in the Vatican, and obtained the approbation of Raffaello, who was unwilling to cancel his grotesques as he did his historical compositions: he also executed some at Monte Oliveto that are highly facetious, and may be called an image of his own brain. Cristoforo Rustici and Giorgio da Siena obtained great fame in this style; but none of them equalled Peruzzi. This artist, graceful in all his works, was most elegant in grotesque; and amid the freedom that a subject wholly capricious inspires, he preserved an art which Lomazzo has studied, in order to comprehend its principles. He employs every species of idea; satyrs, masks, children, animals, monsters, edifices, trees, flowers, vases, candelabra, lamps, armour, and thunderbolts; but in their arrangement, in the actions represented, and in every other circumstance, he bridled his caprice by his judgment. He distorts and connects those images with a surprising symmetry, and adapts them as devices emblematic of the stories which they surround. This man, living in the brightest period of modern art, is in short, one of the individuals most interesting in its history. He had many pupils in architecture, but few in painting: among the latter are a Francesco Senese, and a Virgilio Romano, who are commended by Vasari for their frescos, and to whom grotesques, of uncertain origin, are sometimes attributed in Siena.

Somewhat later, but certainly before the complete revival of the art at Siena, I am disposed to class a fresco painter, whom Baglione and Titi call [Pg 428]Matteo da Siena; but who is named Matteino in his native place, that he may not be confounded with the Matteo of the fourteenth century. He lived at Rome in the time of Niccolò Circignani, in whose pictures, and in those of artists of the same class, he inserted perspectives and landscapes. The efforts of his pencil may be seen at S. Stefano Rotondo, in thirty-two historical pictures of martyrs painted by Circignani, which have been engraved by Cavalieri. Many of his landscapes are in the Vatican gallery, which are beautiful, although in the old style. At the age of fifty-five he died at Rome, where he was established in the pontificate of Sixtus V. These circumstances make it appear to me unlikely, that he had painted in the Casino of Siena, about 1551, or in the Lucarini palace, along with Rustichino: the first period I consider too early, and the latter too late.

I shall now give some account of the chiaroscuros executed in mosaic, which owe their perfection to the school of Siena, during the epoch of which we are about to finish our account. I have already mentioned the erection of the magnificent cathedral of Siena, a work of many years; and may now add, that though it was grand in all its parts, nothing shewed such originality, or was so generally admired as the pavement around the great altar, all storied with subjects taken from the New Testament, of which the figures were surrounded by appropriate ornaments, which served to vary and divide the immense ground of the painting. A succession of artists always labouring[Pg 429] to improve this work, carried it in a few years to an astonishing pitch of excellence. The nature of the stone quarries in the Sienese territory, afforded also facilities to the art which could not be so easily attained in other places. It originated like other arts from small and rude beginnings. Duccio commenced this ornamented pavement. The part which he executed is constructed of stones, in which the limbs and contours of the figures are scooped out: it is a dry but not ungraceful production of the thirteenth century. The young woman in the choir who kneels with her arms leaning on a cross, and, as an inscription informs us, implores the mercy of the Lord, is the work of Duccio: it probably represents Christian piety; and certainly both the attitude and the countenance are expressive of what she asks. Those who continued the pavement immediately after Duccio, are not so well known. We read of an Urbano da Cortona, and an Antonio Federighi, who designed and executed the two Sybils; the rest was in like manner the work of artists of little note. They all, however, improved the art in some degree, cutting the figures with the chisel, and filling up what was removed by the iron, with pitch or some black composition; and this was a rude sort of chiaroscuro. To them succeeded Matteo di Giovanni, who, from an attentive consideration of what his predecessors had done, fell on a method of surpassing them. He remarked a vein of the marble in the drapery of a figure of David, which formed a very natural fold, and by[Pg 430] the contrast of the colours made the knee and leg appear in relief: in like manner he discovered in a figure of Solomon a shade of colour in the marble, well suited to produce effect. He then selected marbles of different colours; and joining them after the manner of an inlaying with stained wood, produced a work that was entitled to the name of a marble chiaroscuro. In this manner he executed without assistance a Slaughter of the Innocents, a composition which he frequently repeated, as we before remarked. He thus opened the path for Beccafumi's histories, who wrought in a superior style a large part of that pavement, which his exertions, says Vasari, rendered "the most beautiful, the largest, and most magnificent that was ever executed." This work employed his leisure hours till he attained to old age; and though painting interrupted his labours, he did not abandon it until his death, and hence, some of the historical compositions were completed by other hands, as is supposed from his cartoons. He executed the Sacrifice of Isaac, in figures as large as life; and Moses striking the Rock, with a crowd of Hebrews rushing to catch the water, and slake their thirst; besides several other subjects, which are described by Vasari; and more minutely by Landi.[295] I shall[Pg 431] subjoin a few observations on the mechanism of the art. The first attempt of Beccafumi was to compose a picture of inlaid wood, which was long preserved in the studio of Vanni, and afterwards was in the possession of the Counts of the Delci family. He represented the Conversion of S. Paul in this piece, by employing wood of the colours only that were necessary to produce a chiaroscuro. After this model he selected white marble for the light parts of his figures, and the very purest for the catching lights; grey marble for the middle tints, black for the shadows, and for the darkest lines he sometimes employed a black stucco. He cut the pieces of these marbles, which are all indigenous, and inlaid them so nicely that the joinings are not easily discernible. This has induced some to believe that white marble is alone employed in this pavement, and that the middle tints and shadows are formed by certain very penetrating colours, capable of softening the marble and of colouring it throughout. We learn from a letter of Gallaccini, that this idea was adopted by some natives of Siena, and it appears from another of Mariette, that this great connoisseur was impressed with it, and gained over Bottari to his opinion.[296] Inspection overturns this supposition, for we may discover the seams between the different colours; and this circumstance induces the author of the Sienese Letters and the best informed persons, to disbelieve[Pg 432] the artificial colouring of the marble. The truth is, the secret of colouring marble was not then known, but was afterwards discovered in Siena by Michelangiolo Vanni, who has transmitted the memory of his invention to posterity.[297] He erected a monument for his father, Cav. Francesco, with columns, ornaments, festoons, and figures of children; accompanied by a genealogy of the family, which were all designed on a white slab, and every part carefully and appropriately coloured, so as to resemble mosaic of different marbles. It is supposed that the colours were imparted to the marble by some mineral essences to impregnate it, because they penetrated a considerable way. He entitles himself the inventor of this art, in the monumental inscription. A secret of this nature was known to Niccolò Tornioli, of Siena, about the year 1640; and this artist is said to have painted a Veronica in that manner, the marble of which he caused to be sawed, and the same picture was found on each side of the section.[298] He was probably a scholar of Vanni; and the latter seems anxious by the inscription that he should not claim the honour of the invention. The connexion of the subject has led me to notice these two artists in this place. Their true place is in the third epoch of the Sienese school, to which I shall immediately proceed.

[275] Baldinucci, in his Life of Antonio Veneziano, contends that this artist resided, during some time, at Siena; but the silence of the city historians as to such a fact, leads us to doubt the truth of his assertion.

[276] Vasari calls him "a pretty good master" in the Life of D. Bartolommeo: from the note of Bottari on this passage we collect that he flourished about 1500. Gigli makes him the master of Beccafumi.

[277] There is a Coronation of the Virgin by him at Fonte Giusta, and a picture, representing various saints, at Carmine, dated 1512.

[278] See Lett. Sanesi, tom. iii. p. 320, where the inscription of Signorelli on his pictures in the Petrucci palace is quoted, and Vasari is corrected.

[279] He is thus named by Baldinucci; but Vasari, in his Life of Razzi, mentions a Girolamo del Pacchia, a rival of Razzi himself; and this person appears to be Pacchiarotto. He also mentions Giomo, or Girolamo del Sodoma, who died young; and whom both Orlandi and Bottari have confounded with Pacchiarotto; when we ought rather to believe that he was a pupil of Razzi, and died while he was yet young.

[280] Mattaccio signifies a buffoon. Tr.

[281] In P. della Valle, in the Supplement to the life of Razzi, See Vasari, edit. of Siena, p. 297. In the following page there is a chronological error. He agrees with Baldinucci that Razzi was born in 1479, and says that his picture of S. Francis was executed in 1490, that is, when the artist was about eleven years of age.

[282] See also Perini, in his Lettera su l' Archicenobio di Monte Oliveto, p. 49, where he defends Razzi from the charge of indecorum made by Vasari, on a view of the grotesques and fancy subjects which he painted in that place.

[283] Tom. iii. p. 243.

[284] I am in doubt as to his native place. The name of one Scalobrinus Pistoriensis, a painter of merit, and belonging to the same age, is found inscribed at the church of S. Francesco, without the Tuscan gate, where he left seven specimens of altar-pieces. Memorie per le belle Arti, tom. ii. p. 190.

[285] See Sig. da Morrona, tom. i. p. 116. Mecherino there painted the Evangelists, and some historical pieces from the life of Moses: Razzi executed in the same place a Descent from the Cross, and an Abraham offering his Son, which are among his last, and not his best works.

[286] The Sienese historians prove this in opposition to Vasari, who makes him by descent a Florentine. See Lett. Sen. tom. iii. p. 178.

[287] For his labours in the cathedral of Siena he had thirty crowns a year; as the architect of S. Peter's, two hundred and fifty. He derived little advantage from private commissions, for people generally took advantage of his modesty, in either not paying him at all, or rewarding him scantily.

[288] I saw one in the possession of Cav. Cavaceppi in Rome, of which this great connoisseur used to say, that it might pass for a Raffaello, if it had been as like in colouring as in every thing else. The Sergardi family at Siena have another, and a Holy Family, by Razzi, as its companion. These are reckoned among their first performances, and are believed to have been painted in competition with each other. In that of Peruzzi one recognizes, even at that time, that elegance of design which he delighted afterwards to exhibit in his figures, especially in the Chigi, now called the Farnese palace.

[289] It is a fresco, and, though retouched, surprises at once by the novelty and expression of the figures. A. Caracci designed it for one of his studies.

[290] Lett. vii.

[291] Siena Illustre.

[292] The expression in the original is: "condotto con quella bella grazia che si vede-non murato, ma veramente nato." Vasari.

[293] P. 191.

[294] Serlio, 1. c.

[295] Lettere Senesi, tom. iii. lett. 6. See also lett. 8. page 223, where there are many observations on the design of Mecherino, and on the execution committed to the Martini, brothers, and eminent sculptors of that period. For the prints from their works by Andreani and Gabuggiani, see the notes of Bottari on the life of Mecherino, p. 435.

[296] See Lett. Pittoriche, tom. i. p. 311, and tom. iv. p. 344. See also Notes on Vasari, tom. iv. p. 436. Ed. Fiorentin.

[297] He inscribed the monument, "Francisco Vannio ... Michael Angelus ... novæ hujus in petrâ pingendi artis inventor et Raphael ... Filii parenti optimo m. p. a. 1656.

[298] See the note of Bottari on Gallaccini's letter. tom. i. p. 308.

[Pg 433]



The art having declined in Siena through the disasters of the state, is revived by the labours of Salimbeni and his sons.

We have related the progress and best works of the Sienese school from the beginning, to about the middle of the sixteenth century; but we have not yet considered a circumstance that adds greatly to the merit of the artists and works of that period. If we search into the history of that half century, we shall find that all Italy groaned under the pressure of public calamities; but Siena, to a greater degree, and for a longer period than any other place, endured an accumulation of the most terrible evils. Famine, pestilence, and a suspension of commercial intercourse, afflicted other states, but here they seem to have exhausted their rage: civil commotions and external enemies agitated other states, but here, during a period of many years, they allowed not a moment of tranquillity. The republic of Siena, strong in the valour of her citizens, was feeble in every thing besides; and hence it resembled a gulph, where tempests are more frequent and more violent than on the ocean. The usurpation [Pg 434]of the Petrucci, the dissensions between the nobles and the people, and jealousy of foreign powers, who sought her subjugation, kept Siena in constant alarm, and often incited to arms and to bloodshed. The remedy which they now expected in the protection of the emperor, at another time from France, only served to aggravate internal commotion and foreign aggression. Amid this perpetual agitation, I know not whether most to admire the genius of the people, ever directed to the decoration of their houses and public edifices, or the spirit of the artists, who could summon all the powers of their minds to such efforts: this I know, that similar instances are rare in other countries. The year 1555 at length arrived, when Cosmo I. deprived the Sienese of their long defended liberty. To any enemy but the Florentines they would have submitted with less reluctance; and on this account our astonishment is lessened on finding that, on this occasion, two thirds of the inhabitants abandoned their native soil, refusing to live subject to enemies so abhorred.

At this time, and in the disasters above alluded to, the city lost many able artists, and also several families, from whom eminent artists were descended, and whose Sienese origin is confirmed by history. Baglione says of Camillo Mariani, that he was born at Vicenza, and that his father was a native of Siena, who had expatriated himself on account of the wars; and he praises the cabinet pictures of this artist, who died at Rome with the [Pg 435]reputation of an excellent sculptor. I likewise find at Bologna an Agostino Marcucci, of Siena, who is wholly unknown in that place, probably because he was the son of an emigrant. He was a disciple of the Caracci, till a schism arose in that school, which we shall notice in its proper place, when he ranged himself with the foremost adherents of Facini, the leader of the party, and they had the boldness to set up a new academy in opposition to that of the Caracci. He continued to reside in Bologna, and to teach to the time of his death, and is reckoned by Malvasia among "the first men" of that age. Of his scholars Malvasia mentions only Ruggieri, and he only notices one of his pictures at the Concezione;[299] to which several others, however, are added in the New Guide.

Siena, in the mean time, began to breathe from her misfortunes, and to be reconciled to the new government, which, through the prudence of Cosmo, appeared rather a reformation in the old, than a new domination. No long time elapsed before the void left in the city by the artists who had emigrated was filled up by others. Rustico had remained there, as well as his superior, Riccio, who painted the celebrated scene, already noticed, on the coming of Cosmo. Siena also possessed Tozzo and Bigio, whom Lancillotti reckons "among the most famous painters," I believe, in small figures; and it is not easy to distinguish between those two artists, who had an extraordinary similarity of [Pg 436]style. Arcangiolo Salimbeni, who is expressly said by Baldinucci to be a "scholar of Federigo Zuccari," may have received the rudiments of the art from one of them. Perhaps, as the historian goes on to say, during his residence at Rome he might contract an intimate friendship with Zuccari; but the style of Salimbeni discovers very opposite principles from those of that master; and notwithstanding all researches, no one has succeeded in finding pictures of his that bear indications of that school. He loved precision more than fulness of design; and we may even observe in him an attachment to the manner of Pietro Perugino, as was observed by Della Valle with regard to a Crucifixion attended by six Saints, in the parish church of Lusignano. In his other pictures at Siena, especially in the S. Peter-Martyr, in possession of the Dominicans, he appears wholly modern;[300] but diligent, and free from the defects which we often observe in Federigo, who may be considered as a professed mannerist of that period. It was the good fortune of the Sienese school, that Riccio was succeeded by this artist, who, if he had not a lofty genius, possessed, at least, the judgment to avoid the faults of his contemporaries. [Pg 437]Hence, amid the degeneracy of the neighbouring schools this remained uncontaminated, or but slightly infected; and the new disciples it sent forth contributed to the improvement of the art in Italy. They were not so much attached to home as Mecherino; they painted equally well beyond the territory of Siena; they visited very distant cities, and in them all left specimens of their art, both in public and in private, which are still preserved. After receiving the first instruction from Salimbeni, or some less known artist, each chose his own guide. We shall here proceed with their history.

After receiving the rudiments of the art at Siena, Pietro Sorri went to Florence, under Passignano, and became his son-in-law, and the associate of his labours in that place and in Venice. He emulated the style of Passignano, which partook, as we have observed, of the Florentine and the Venetian: he succeeded so well, that their works bear a perfect resemblance, and are held in equal estimation. He painted less expeditiously than his father-in-law; but his colouring was more durable, and, if I mistake not, his design more graceful. The convent of S. Sebastian, which was ornamented by a competition of the best Sienese artists of this epoch, has one of his pictures, which are rather uncommon in Siena; for his best years were spent in other places. He was much at Florence: and afterwards visited many other Tuscan cities; and there is scarcely any considerable place among them which[Pg 438] cannot boast the efforts of his easy and graceful pencil; but particularly Pisa, the cathedral of which could not but attract such an artist. He there represented the Consecration of that church on one large canvas, and, on another, Christ disputing with the Doctors, which is inscribed with his name: and never did he approach nearer to the excellence of Paul Veronese in architecture and other accompaniments. He was employed in the Carthusian monastery of Pavia, and also in Genoa, where we shall find him as a preceptor in that school.

Casolani took his surname from Casole, the little town from which his family removed to Siena. In the ducal gallery of Florence there is a portrait of a lady with three men, in the same piece, which is said to represent Lucrezia Piccolomini, with her three sons, Alessandro Casolani, Francesco Vanni, and Ventura Salimbeni, whom she bore to different husbands, in the course of a few years. This makes Alessandro the stepson of Arcangiolo Salimbeni, and the uterine brother of Ventura and of Vanni. I cannot find this story in any author, except in Niccolò Pio, a Roman writer of no authority, whose manuscript, containing notices of two hundred and fifty artists, which was drawn up about 1724, is preserved in the Vatican library.[301] The old writers of Siena have taken no notice of so remarkable an event, and we cannot, therefore, give [Pg 439]credit to Pio, a stranger, and a modern author. The relation then in which Alessandro stands to Arcangiolo is that of scholar; but he learnt more from Cav. Roncalli in Siena and in Rome. He remained long in the latter city: he designed the finest works it contained, and obtained some idea of different styles. This knowledge was increased by a journey which he made some years afterwards to Pavia, where he painted in the Carthusian monastery, and in other places. His manner is prodigiously varied. It exhibits traces of the best style of Roncalli, a good design, sobriety of composition, a modesty of colouring, and tranquil harmony. He seems also to have aimed at originality, for he was continually altering his style, mingling it with the graces of various artists, and sometimes striking out into a novel path. He possessed promptness of genius and of execution: he was quick in committing his ideas to the canvas; and when dissatisfied with his work, he often chose to cancel the whole, rather than to correct a part. Although unacquainted with ideal beauty, he was esteemed by Guido, who may be considered as the father of modern painters, and who said of him "this truly is a painter." Whoever would see his best work, may examine the martyrdom of S. Bartholomew, at the Carmine of Siena. It is a picture of considerable size, with great variety in the figures and in the expression, and altogether excites surprise. We are told that when Roncalli examined it, he at length exclaimed, that the art of that period was comprised in that picture. But the [Pg 440]short life of Casolani prevented him attaining the excellence which this specimen promised. His works are in various cities of Tuscany, and also in Naples, Genoa, and Fermo, in the metropolitan church of which there is a picture of S. Louis of France, that is numbered among the choice paintings in that city.

A good many of his works in Siena shew traces of, and even whole figures by other hands; having been finished by Vanni, and Ventura Salimbeni, or by other artists, either of his own or of different schools. Ilario Casolani, his son, by a daughter of Rustici, finished the Assumption for the Church of S. Francis; and afterwards went to Rome, where he was "noticed by Cav. Pomaranci, out of respect to his father," says Mancini, as of a thing he knew, and adds, that Pomaranci had good hopes of him. Baglione and Pio called him Cristoforo, a name he, perhaps, received along with several others at baptism; and which probably the Sienese artist thought more becoming at Rome than Ilario, since he is named Cristoforo, by Roncalli. Under Pomaranci he became a proficient in his style in fresco, and imitated it particularly at Madonna de' Monti, in some pictures from the history of the Virgin, and in an Ascension on the ceiling; the best work, perhaps, produced in the short course of his life. Titi uniformly names him Cristoforo Consolano; but a consideration of the anecdotes of Mancini and Baglione leads us to convert it into Casolano. A Resurrection of Lazarus, begun by Alessandro for the church of S. Francis, was finished [Pg 441]by Vincenzio Rustici; who was probably his scholar and his kinsman, and who is the least celebrated among this family of painters. One of his pictures, intended for Santuccio, was finished by Sebastiano Folli. The frescos of this artist are more numerous at Siena than his oil pictures: the ornamental parts of them are superior to his figures, in which he inclined to mannerism; his compartments are beautiful, his architecture finely conducted, his imitations of stucco deceive the eye, and he was expert in foreshortening what was to be seen from below. In 1608 he painted the frescos of S. Sebastian, in competition with various artists, and in this trial of skill he only yields to Rutilio Manetti. In the Guide of the Cav. Pecci I find mention made of designs of Casolani, executed in fresco by Stefano Volpi, whose name not unfrequently occurs in that work, and who was probably a scholar of that excellent artist.

Cav. Ventura, the son of A. Salimbeni, is reckoned the third scholar of that master, though his lessons from Arcangiolo must have been but few. The young man left his home early, and journeying through the cities of Lombardy, he studied the works of Correggio and others, whose taste began to be applauded in Tuscany. He went to Rome in the pontificate of Sixtus V. and raised a very favourable opinion of his genius, which, giving himself up to dissipation, he did not afterwards fulfil. In that city he left many frescos that are praised by Baglione, among which, the Abraham entertaining the Angels, in a chapel of the Gesù, appears,[Pg 442] on the whole, the work of a consummate painter. It has something lively and graceful in the colouring and the countenances, which he always retained: it also shews attention to design and chiaroscuro, which, in a great measure, he afterwards neglected in his paintings. In conjunction with Vanni he executed some ceilings, and, perhaps, derived advantage from observing this painter, though his junior by eight years. In many of his works he undoubtedly resembles him in his imitation of Baroccio, and hardly yields to him in grace of contour, in expression, and in delicacy and clearness of colouring. He is admired in the church of S. Quirico, and in that of S. Domenick: in the one is his Appearance of the Angel at the Sepulchre; in the other a Crucifixion, with various Saints around, which are superior to the generality of his works. In several other places in Siena there are others of great merit, especially where he painted in the vicinity of the works of the best masters of his school. He likewise executed some beautiful historical pieces when he vied with Poccetti, in the cloister of the Servi at Florence, and in the cathedral of Pisa, where he was surrounded by such great painters. His Marriage of the Virgin, in the cathedral of Foligno, his S. Gregory, in the church of S. Peter at Perugia, his works in Lucca, in Pavia, and in various cities of Italy, justify the remark of Baglione, that Salimbeni was impatient of remaining long in any one place. In Genoa, however, his stay was not so short. The beautiful chamber in the Adorno palace, and other[Pg 443] works which he there executed, are still in existence, while many others have perished. He went to Genoa at the same time with Agostino Tassi, who served him for an ornamental and landscape painter, and, perhaps, it was through him that Ottavio Ghissoni, of Siena, came to that place; an artist, if I am not mistaken, forgotten in the annals of his own country; in fresco he was more lively than correct. He studied at Rome under Cherubino Alberti; but his country, his style, and the time of his arrival at Genoa, afford ground to suspect that he had also received the lessons of Salimbeni. Soprani gives Ventura the surname of Bevilacqua, which is rather an addition to his name granted him by Cardinal Bevilacqua when he knighted him in Perugia.

Cav. Francesco Vanni, in the opinion of many, is the best painter of this school; and is reckoned one of the restorers of Italian painting in the sixteenth century. The early instruction of his genius is to be assigned with greater probability to his brother than to his stepfather. At sixteen years of age he went to Rome, for the purpose of designing after Raffaello and the best masters. He was for some time under the tuition of Gio. de' Vecchi, whose style he introduced into his native country. There are specimens of him in many churches, and it is related that they were not relished by his fellow citizens; a circumstance which might occasion him uneasiness at the time, but soon after afforded him a lasting source of satisfaction. It induced him to examine the pictures of Lombardy, as his brother[Pg 444] had done: and having remained in Parma to design some of them, he afterwards went to Bologna, where he was assiduously occupied. Ugurgieri writes that he was at that place in 1667, at which time he was twelve years old: this I believe to be incorrect; for it was unknown to Mancini, who was acquainted with Vanni. Malvasia repeats it on the authority of Ugurgieri; but he can discover nothing further of Vanni, at Bologna, than his being there after he had arrived at manhood, and designing in the academy of Facini and Mirandola, to which he was probably introduced by his countryman Marcucci. He left some works at Bologna, in the style of the Caracci, if he is the painter of a Madonna, which was shewn me as a Vanni, in a cabinet of the Zambeccari collection. His Flight into Egypt, painted for the church of S. Quirico, in Siena, bears also undoubted marks of the Bolognese school.

Although he attempted other styles, he was not like Casolani an adherent to none. Vanni attached himself to the elegant and florid manner of Barocci, in which he was eminently successful. Of this, the Humiliation of Simon the Sorcerer, which he painted on a stone slab for the church of S. Peter at Rome, affords a proof; a picture which, though recently cleaned with little judgment, is still an object of admiration. Both the design and colouring are in the manner of Barocci; and it is prepared with a due regard to the humidity of that church; nor has it been found necessary to remove it, as has happened to other pictures. He also [Pg 445]painted in Siena, and in other Italian cities, where he has approached the manner of Barocci more closely than Viviani, or any other pupil of that artist. His Marriage of S. Catherine, with a numerous group of angels, at the Refugio, is much praised in Siena: as is the Madonna, surrounded by saints, painted for the church of Monna Agnese; and the S. Raymond walking on the Sea, in the possession of the Domenican Fathers, which is supposed by some to be his best picture in Siena, where his works are very numerous. Among the finest pictures in the cathedral of Pisa, is the Dispute about the Sacrament, painted in emulation of his brother Ventura, who had surpassed his usual style in the altarpiece of the angels. At the Umiltà of Pistoia, in the convent of the Camaldules of Fabriano, and in that of the Capuchins of S. Quirico, are some of his most exquisite works; and they are so numerous in other places, that I do not imagine a full catalogue of them has ever been made out. He is generally a follower of Barocci, as we have observed; and amateurs, deceived principally by his colouring, and the heads of his boys, which appear cast in the mould of Barocci, frequently confound the latter with Vanni: but one, well acquainted with Federigo, observes in him more grandeur of design, and greater freedom in the touches of the pencil. The pictures which Vanni executed negligently, or at low prices (of which there are several at Siena), can hardly be recognized as his.

By the example and lessons of Vanni, the honour[Pg 446] of painting was long supported at Siena. He taught many pupils, who did not, however, rigidly adopt his style; but, as is usually the case, imitated the master most recently in vogue, or, in other words, followed the fashion of the time. We shall begin with his two sons, to whom he had given the names most celebrated in the art. Michelangiolo, the eldest, we have mentioned with applause, as the inventor of staining marble: but he did not attain much celebrity except in this art. I know not whether he ever was out of Siena, and there we find few of his paintings, except a S. Catherine in the act of praying with the Redeemer, which was painted for the Olivetine monks. Raffaele, the second, left an orphan at the age of thirteen, was recommended to Antonio Caracci, and in that school, according to Mancini, made such progress as even to surpass his father; but this is not the opinion of posterity. All allow that he possessed grandeur of design, and a fine taste in shadows and in colouring, with some resemblance to Cortona, who, in his day, drew after him even his contemporaries. The birth of the Virgin Mary, in the Pace at Rome, and several of his other pictures, have no small portion of the ideas and contrasts of the followers of Cortona. He lived long in Rome, and on that account is frequently mentioned by Titi. Tuscany is not deficient in his works. At the church of S. Catherine, at Pisa, there is a picture of the titular Saint; Florence possesses the pictures of the Riccardi saloon; and at the church of [Pg 447]S. George, in Siena, is his Procession of our Saviour to Calvary. These are esteemed among his finest productions; and the last is characterized as his masterpiece. Both brothers had the honour of knighthood; but it was more worthily bestowed on the second than on the first.

Contemporary with the Cav. Raffaello, as well as his assistant at S. Maria della Pace at Rome, and in several places at Siena, we find the name of Bernardino Mei. I am unacquainted with that of his master; and P. della Valle, who saw several of his works, sometimes compares him to the Caracci, at others to Paul Veronese, and to Guercino, much as the eclectic philosophers adopt or change the maxims of the different schools. He commends him for the airs of his heads, and, as one of his best productions, alludes to a fresco in the Casa Bandinelli, with an Aurora in a ceiling, and with several other elegant figures and designs.

Francesco di Cristofano Rustici, called Rustichino, is better known in Siena than those just mentioned. He obtained the name of Rustichino, either because he was the last of a family that had produced three painters before him, or because he died in the outset of life. This circumstance, perhaps, has contributed to his reputation. All his remaining works are beautiful, which seldom happens to artists who live to a great age, and who abate in diligence as they advance in reputation and in years. He is a graceful follower of Caravaggio; and particularly excels in confined or candle [Pg 448]lights, much in the style of Gherardo della Notte; but he is perhaps more select. The Dying Magdalen, in possession of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and the S. Sebastian, cured by S. Irene, which belongs to Prince Borghese, in Rome, are in this style. But it was not the only one in which Rustichino painted. He had visited Rome, and had studied the works of the Caracci and of Guido, of which traces may be discovered in several of his works; but, at the same time, all of them possess a certain originality, and something peculiarly his own. The best of all his pictures at Siena is an Annunciation, in Provenzano, before which the Virgin, S. Catherine, prays, surrounded by a multitude of angels. If Rustichino pleases in other works, in this he enchants us. He began a work on the history of the city in the public palace, in which his father, whose figures were not equal to his decorations, was also employed, and it was finished by other artists.

Rutilio Manetti, or, as Pecci writes it, Mannetti, followed Caravaggio with less discrimination, but with greater force in the shadows. His pictures at Siena are easily recognized by invariably partaking of a certain sombre hue, which deranges the due balance and participation of light and shade. The same objection lies against many of his contemporaries of every school. The method of purifying colours, and of composing vehicles,[302] had degenerated;[Pg 449] and the injury sustained from this defect was not observed in the pictures: the artist only looked to the grand effect, to which the age so much aspired. Manetti united an improved design to ideas above the common order, and beautiful architecture; and hence, at times, he approaches rather to Guercino than to Caravaggio. In the cathedral of Siena is his Elijah under the juniper tree, in which the historian of that church commends the force of the colouring, which is juicy [Pg 450]and natural. Many of his works remain in the Carthusian monastery of Florence, and in several churches of Siena, the most admired of which is the Repose of the Holy Family, in S. Peter's of Castelvecchio. In private collections, where pictures are better preserved than in churches, we find very beautiful Madonnas by this artist; and there is a most exquisite Lucretia in the possession of the Bandinelli family. He sometimes departed from his usual manner, as in the Triumph of David, in the ducal gallery, in which the shadows are not so dark, and the tone of the whole is more lively. Mention is made in the Lettere Pittoriche,[303] of Bernardino Capitelli, a scholar of Manetti, and an etcher: and in the third volume there is casual mention of one Domenico Manetti, probably of the same family, but not to be mistaken for the great individual of the same name. He appears rather to have employed himself in ornamenting private collections, and painted a Baptism of Constantine for the casa Magnoni, that has been much commended.

Astolfo Petrazzi, as well as Vanni, was a pupil of the younger Salimbeni and of Sorri; and seems, more than any other, to have adhered to the manner of his master. He frequently aims at pleasing the eye, and not unfrequently chooses his models from the schools of Upper Italy. A Marriage-feast of Cana, by his hand, in a private house, brings Paolo strongly to our recollection. His Communion of S. Jerome, in the possession of the[Pg 451] Augustine friars, partakes, perhaps, too strongly of the manner of the Caracci. This picture, which he painted at Rome, was much admired at Siena, and was the origin of his great employment in that city, where his pictures are always decorated with most pleasing choirs of angels. His cabinet pictures were also lively; witness the four Seasons at Volte, a seat of the noble family of Chigi. He kept an open academy for painting in his house, which was much frequented by natives of Siena, and honoured by the attendance of Borgognone, who stopt some months with Astolfo before he went to Rome. Hence, many of this artist's early battle-pieces and landscapes are to be met with at Siena: the house of Sig. Decano Giovanelli, a literary ornament of that city, abounded with them.

I find some other painters of this school who are known beyond the state of Siena. Antiveduto Grammatica, an eminent painter, of Sienese extraction, was known at Rome, where he was president of the academy of S. Luke. It is true that he was deprived of that office for attempting to substitute one of his own copies for a S. Luke, by Raffaello, which he had sold to a gentleman. He had a peculiar talent in the art of copying, especially heads, and, on this account, he was a good portrait painter. Although we are not certain that he had any master but one Domenico Perugino, a painter of little wooden scenes,[304] he obtained applause [Pg 452]in large compositions. There is an Annunciation by Grammatica of a most brilliant colouring, in the hospital of the Incurables; and several of his other pictures, in different churches. He died at Rome in 1626.

Two other artists, unknown in their native place, are made known to me by their signatures. On a Last Supper, in the convent of the Angioli, below Assisi, I discovered Franciscus Antonius Senensis, 1614, or thereabouts. The style has enough of Baroccio to lead me to suspect that he was the scholar of Vanni, or of Salimbeni: nor must he be reckoned the meanest of that school, for he was master of expression in a degree superior to mediocrity. The figure of the departing Judas is the image of desperate resolve, and would be much better had he not given it the feet of a bat; a grotesque conceit. In the same neighbourhood, at the church of Foligno, I read, beneath a Holy Family, the name of Marcantonio Grecchi, and the date 1634. The style is solid, expressive, and correct; more resembling Tiarini di Bologna than [Pg 453]any master of Siena. Niccolo Tornioli, lately mentioned, painted in the church of S. Paul, at Bologna, in various cities of Italy: in Siena he left, perhaps, no picture in public but the Vocation of S. Matthew, still remaining in the custom-house. Towards the close of the century, painting was practised at Siena chiefly by foreigners. Annibale Mazzuoli, a fresco painter of rapid execution but of little merit, was most employed: he afterwards went to Rome, and is the last name inserted in the Eulogies of Pio.

Painting, however, came again into repute at Siena, about 1700, when its credit was restored by Cav. Giuseppe Nasini, a scholar of Ciro Ferri. Nasini possessed the qualities for which I have commended many of his nation, a fervid genius, a fertile imagination, and a poetic vein; but his poetry was of the species that prevailed in Italy during his younger days, a composition unrestrained by fixed rules. To this spirit we not unfrequently discover some analogy in his paintings, in which we could desire to find more order, a more choice design, and colouring less vulgar. He always shews, however, a taste for allegory, great command of pencil, and an imposing air on the whole; and the observation of Redi, that "he stuns the beholder," is not without some foundation.[305] This remark was made when Nasini had finished the cupola of the chapel of S. Anthony, in the church of the Apostles at Rome; in which chapel there is a picture by Luti. He afterwards entered into a competition [Pg 454]with Luti, and the first artists then in Rome, in the large prophets of the lateran cathedral. His masterpiece is supposed to be the S. Leonard, in Madonna del Pianto, at Foligno, the ceiling of which he painted with good frescos. Siena contains some of his finest productions of every kind; above all, the pictures of the Novissimi, intended for the Pitti palace, but transferred from it to the church of the Conventuals of Siena. It contains a great number of figures neither so select nor so well arranged as to arrest the eye of the spectator; but he who would contemptuously overlook it, let him say how many painters then in Italy could have produced such a picture.

Giuseppe brought up two pupils in his house. He had a brother named Antonio, who was a priest, whose likeness is among the eminent portrait painters in the gallery at Florence. Cav. Apollonio Nasini, the son of Giuseppe, was inferior to his father in the profession; yet assisted him in his greatest works, and held an honourable rank among his contemporaries. Gioseffo Pinacci, of Siena, a disciple of Mehus in figures, and of Borgognone in battle-pieces, lived in the time of Nasini. He was a good painter of portraits, and made a considerable fortune, first at the court of Carpio, Viceroy of Naples, and afterwards in the service of the grand duke Ferdinand, at Florence, where several of his works remain. But his chief merit consisted in a knowledge of the pencilling of the old masters. Nicolo Franchini distinguished himself rather by restoring the work of other [Pg 455]hands than by his own productions, and thus furnished Pecci with much convenient information for his City Guide; "by his skill," says the Cavaliere, "in restoring injured specimens to their original beauty, without applying to them a fresh pencil, and in supplying the faded colours with others taken from paintings of less value, he entitled himself, in fact, to the praise of a new discovery." We shall here conclude the school of Siena; and shall add in its praise, that if it did not produce painters of the very highest class, it at least boasts many artists, eminent when we consider their era, and few inferior, or not above mediocrity.[306] It indeed appears, that either a genius for painting is natural to that people, or that none of them have embraced the art who were not capable of prosecuting it successfully.

[299] See Malvasia, tom. i. p. 571; and tom. ii. p. 355.

[300] It has his name and the year 1579, which date must be false. The widow of Arcangiolo married again, and bore Francesco Vanni in 1565. Consequently the latter could not be the scholar of Arcangiolo, though such an idea is very prevalent; and he could give lessons only for a short time to his son, Ventura, or to Sorri, and Casolani, if the period of their birth is true.

[301] See letter 127 in vol. v. of Lett. Pittor., in which there is a catalogue of those painters.

[302] The idea that the brilliant colouring of the Venetian school was owing to the use of a peculiar vehicle for the colours, or a certain varnish, has been long entertained by artists and connoisseurs; and the opinion has been sanctioned by great names: yet it is highly probable that the great secret of the Venetian painters consisted not in vehicles nor in varnishes, but in employing mineral colours, and in laying them on the canvas as little mixed as possible. No colour derived from the vegetable kingdom will stand well when mixed with oil, and our best colours are composed of metallic oxides, or earthy bodies highly charged with those oxides. When colours are much mixed on the palette they become invariably muddy, and to him who aims at brilliancy of colouring no maxim is of greater consequence than to keep his palette as clean as possible. The use of transparent colours in the shadows is another great cause of brilliancy, and this cannot be obtained by the use of mixed colours. It is produced by what is called glazing, or laying transparent colours one over another. In nothing is the effect of glazing, in giving transparency, more obvious, than in the astonishing clearness of the skies and water in the works of the best Dutch artists. That the magical effect of Kuyp's pictures is thus produced, I had an opportunity of knowing, from the blunder of a picture-cleaner, who thought he had made a great discovery when he found the Rhine of a deep blue in a picture by this master; from which, along with the varnish, he had removed a thin coating of yellow, with which the blue was glazed over, to produce the beautiful greenish hue of the water. (Note by Dr. Traile.)

[303] Tom. i.

[304] His name alone survives in Perugia; though it is believed that one of his pictures remains in the church of S. Angelo Magno, at Ascoli, where the figure of S. Giovanni is ascribed by Lazzeri, in his Ascoli in Prospettiva, to one Giandomenico da Perugia, and the landscape to Gio. Francesco da Bologna, that is to say, to Grimaldi. The figure is in the Guercino taste, according to the opinion of Sig. Orsini; but I cannot conceive how he or the Sig. Mariotti (p. 273) should not have remarked that it must be the production of Giandomenico Cerrini, of Perugia, contemporary with Grimaldi and Guercino, and not of that Domenico, the painter of wooden scenes, who lived about an age anterior to them.

[305] Lett. Pittoriche, tom. ii. p. 69.

[306] A few of the names that obtained least celebrity in Siena are pointed out by P. M. della Valle in the third volume of the Lettere Senesi, (p. 459,) among which are found Crescienzio Gamberelli Nasinesco, Deifobo Burbarini, a poor artist, Aurelio Martelli, called Il Mutolo, Gio. Batista Ramacciotti, a priest and connoisseur in painting; and the same may be said of Bernardino Fungai, and of the noble Marcello Loli, of Galgano Perpignano, with others of like merit, either omitted or slightly mentioned by Sig. Pecci. P. della Valle excuses himself from the task of treating of them in favor of happier writers, but as we do not pretend to aspire to that felicity, we shall leave others to avail themselves of the Father's liberality.


[Pg 456]J. M'Creery, Tooks Court,
Chancery-lane, London.

Transcriber's Notes:

Archaic punctuation and spelling of words, names, titles, and places, were not changed. Minor punctuation errors were corrected. Inconsistent hyphenation was standardized. Footnotes were moved to the end of each chapter. A chapter heading was added to Florentine School, Epoch I, Section III, for consistency with remaining chapters.

The remaining corrections are indicated by dotted lines under the corrections. Scroll the mouse over the word and the original text will appear.