The Project Gutenberg EBook of The History of Painting in Italy, Vol. IV
(of 6), by Luigi Antonio Lanzi

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Title: The History of Painting in Italy, Vol. IV (of 6)
       from the Period of the Revival of the Fine Arts to the End
              of the Eighteenth Century

Author: Luigi Antonio Lanzi

Translator: Thomas Roscoe

Release Date: February 24, 2012 [EBook #38967]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


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














From the Original Italian











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







Epoch I. Of Mantegna and his successors 5
Epoch II. Giulio Romano and his school 14
Epoch III. Decline of the school, and foundation of an academy in order to restore it 26
Epoch I. The old masters 32
Epoch II. Imitation of Raffaello and Coreggio in the sixteenth century 42
Epoch III. The Modenese artists of the seventeenth century chiefly follow the example of the Bolognese 57
Epoch I. The ancients 74
Epoch II. Coreggio, and those who succeeded him in his school 79
Epoch III. Parmese school of the Caracci, and of other foreigners until the period of the foundation of the academy 134
Epoch I. The ancients 148
Epoch II. Camillo Boccaccino, Il Soiaro, the Campi 163
Epoch III. Decline of the school of the Campi. Trotti and other artists support it 182
Epoch IV. Foreign manners introduced into Cremona 194
Epoch I. Account of the ancient masters until the time of Vinci 206[a]
Epoch II. Vinci establishes an academy of design at Milan. His pupils and the best native artists down to the time of Gaudenzio 238
Epoch III. The Procaccini and other foreign and native artists form a new academy, with new styles, in the city and state of Milan 283
Epoch IV. After the time of Daniele Crespi the art declines. A third academy is founded for its improvement 305






After a consideration of the principles and progress of painting in Lombardy, I came to the conclusion that its history ought to be treated and arranged in a manner altogether different from the rest of the schools. Indeed those of Florence, of Rome, of Venice, and of Bologna, may be almost considered in the light of so many dramas, in which there occurs an interchange of acts and scenes, for such are the epochs of each school; and there is also a change of actors, for such are the masters of each new period; but the unity of place, which is no other than the capital city, is invariably preserved; while the principal actors, and as it were protagonists of the story, always continue in action, at least in the way of example. Every capital, it is true, is in possession of its own state, and in that ought to be comprehended the various other cities, and the revolutions in each; but these are [Pg 2]in general so nearly connected with those of the metropolis as to be easily reducible to the same leading law, either because the state artists have acquired the art in the principal city, or because they have taught it there, as may easily be gathered from the history of the Venetian School; while the few who wander out of the usual routine, cannot be said to infringe greatly upon the unity of the school and the succession of its histories. But it happens differently in the history of Lombardy, which, in the happier periods of the art, being divided into many more districts than it now is, possessed in each state a school distinct from all the others; enumerated also distinct eras; and when the style of one influenced that of another, such a circumstance occurred neither so universally, nor so near in regard to time, as to admit of the same epoch being applied to many of them. Hence it is, that even from the outset of this book, I renounce the received manner of speaking which would mention the Lombard School, as if in itself constituting one school, in such a way as to be compared for instance with the Venetian, which in every place acknowledged the sway of its sovereign masters; of the Bellini first, next of Titian and his noblest contemporaries, and then of Palma; and moreover established several characteristics of design, of colouring, of composition, of the use of the pencil, so as easily to distinguish it from every other school. But in that which is called the Lombard the case is otherwise. For its founders, [Pg 3]such as Lionardo, Giulio, the Campi, and Coreggio, are too widely opposed to each other to admit of being brought under one standard of taste, and referred to the same epoch. I am aware that Coreggio, being by birth a Lombard, and the originator of a new style that afforded an example to many artists in that part of Italy, has conferred the name of Lombard School upon the followers of his maxims; and according to these characteristics the contours were to be drawn round and full, the countenance warm and smiling, the union of the colours strong and clear, the foreshortenings frequent, with a particular regard to the chiaroscuro. But the school thus circumscribed, where shall we find a place for the Mantuans, the Milanese, the Cremonese, and the many others who, having been born, and having flourished in Lombardy, and moreover being the tutors of a long extended line, justly deserve a rank among the Lombards.

From such considerations I have judged it most advisable to treat severally of each school, enlarging upon them more or less, according as the number of the professors and the information respecting them may seem to render it requisite. For the accounts of some of these schools have been already separately compiled; Zaist having treated of the Cremonese painters, and Tiraboschi of the Modenese; thus conferring upon artists the same obligations which he so richly conferred upon the literati in a still greater work; a rare writer, for whose [Pg 4]loss we yet indulge a mournful recollection. In the rest of the schools I shall be supplied with ample materials from Vasari, from Lomazzo, and the Guides of the cities, besides some authors to be cited when requisite, together with my own observations and sources of information borrowed from different places; whence it is hoped that the pictoric history of Lombardy, the least known amongst all the schools of Italy, may by my means have at least some additional light thrown upon it.

[Pg 5]




Of Mantegna and his Successors.

I shall first commence with Mantua, from which there emanated two sister schools, those of Modena and of Parma. Were any one desirous of investigating the most ancient remains that the art of colouring in that state can boast, he might record the celebrated anthem book, still preserved at S. Benedetto at Mantua, a gift of the Countess Matilda to that monastery, which being founded by her long preserved her remains, transferred during the late century into the Vatican. In this book, shewn me by the learned and courteous Abbate Mari, are exhibited several little histories of the life and death of the Virgin, which, notwithstanding the barbarous period in which they were produced, display some taste, insomuch that I do not remember having seen any work of the same age at all equal to it. Upon this subject it may not be useless to observe, that in ages less uncivilized, and nearer our own, the art of miniature was practised in Mantua by a great number of professors, among whom is Gio. de Russi, who, about the year 1455, illustrated for the Duke Borso [Pg 6]of Modena, the Bible of Este, in large folio, one of the rarest specimens of that distinguished collection. But in regard to pictures, I have been able to discover no artist who flourished in that place previous to Mantegna; and it is only some anonymous productions belonging to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, that can be mentioned as remaining to this day. Of the former age, I saw in the cloister of S. Francesco, a sepulchre, erected in 1303, with a Madonna among various angels, all rude and disproportioned figures, though coloured with such strong and animated tints as to appear truly surprising. I doubt not but that the revival of painting in Lombardy, through the genius of its natives, might be fairly proved from the existence of this monument, as its age is anterior to that of the followers of Giotto, scattered throughout Italy; besides the style is different. Of the fifteenth, I have seen another Madonna upon an altar likewise of S. Francesco; and whoever may have been the author, he has shewn that the art, even in those days, had already emerged from its infancy, without arriving at that rank to which the great Andrea Mantegna conducted it, of whom we have twice already had occasion to speak shortly in the course of this work; a subject which we now resume, and shall enlarge upon more fully.

Although the honour of having given birth to Mantegna can no longer, as formerly, be denied to Padua, his school was, nevertheless, established in Mantua, where, under the auspices of Marchese [Pg 7]Lodovico Gonzaga, he settled with his family, without, however, ceasing to exert his talents elsewhere, and more particularly in Rome. The chapel which he painted at the desire of Innocent VIII. in the Vatican still exists, though injured by time; and it is clear that in the imitation of the antique constantly pursued by him he greatly improved, through the number of examples to be found throughout the city. He never varied his manner, which I described when I treated of him as a pupil of Squarcione in Padua; but he still continued to perfect it. Several works produced during his latter years are yet extant at Mantua; and far surpassing the rest is his picture of Victory, painted upon canvass. Another is the Virgin, amidst various saints, among whom S. Michele the Archangel, and S. Maurizio, are seen holding her mantle, which is stretched over Francesco Gonzaga; he is in a kneeling posture, while the Virgin extends her hand over him in sign of protection: more in the background appear the two patrons of the city, S. Andrea and S. Longino, and the infant St. John before the throne, with S. Anna, as is supposed at least by Vasari and Ridolfi, little exact in their description of this picture, inasmuch as the rosary held in her hand distinguishes her for the princess, consort of the Marchese, kneeling at her husband's side. Mantua, perhaps, boasts no other specimen equally sought after and admired by strangers; and though produced in 1495, it is still free, in a conspicuous degree, from the effects of three ages, [Pg 8]which it has already survived. It is truly wonderful to behold carnations so delicate, coats of armour so glittering, draperies so finely varied, with ornamental fruits still so fresh and dewy to the eye. Each separate head might serve as a school, from its fine character and vivacity, and not a few from imitation of the antique; while the design, as well in its naked as in its clothed parts, expresses a softness which sufficiently repels the too general opinion, that the stiff style and that of Mantegna are much the same thing. There is also an union of colours, a delicacy of hand, and a peculiar grace, that to me appears almost the last stage of the art towards that perfection which it acquired from Lionardo. His works upon canvass remind us of that exquisite taste to which he had been habituated by Squarcione, who supplied him with pictures of the same kind from various places, and indeed the whole of the above specimen discovers him to have been an artist who spared neither his colours nor his time, to produce works that might satisfy his own ideas, as well as the eye of the spectator.

His great masterpiece, nevertheless, according to the judgment of Vasari, is the Triumph of CŠsar, represented in different pictures, which, becoming the prey of the Germans in the sackage of the city, were finally sent into England. They belonged to a great hall in the palace of S. Sebastiano, "which was completed," says Equicola, an historian of his native place, "by Lorenzo Costa, an [Pg 9]excellent artist, who added to it all that pomp which used to attend upon a triumph, besides the spectators before wanting." But these pictures having perished, there yet remain other considerable relics from the works of Andrea, in a saloon of the castle, entitled by Ridolfi the Camera degli Sposi. We there behold copious productions executed in fresco, and among them several portraits of the Gonzaga family, still in good preservation; and some Genii drawn over a door-way, so joyous, animated, and airy, that nothing can be supposed to surpass them. Among collections of art we more rarely meet with specimens of him than is really believed, his genuine hand being recognized, not only by its lightness, by its rectilinear folds, or by its yellowish landscape, spread with certain minute and broken little stones; but by the skill of its design and the delicacy of its pencil. It does not appear that he produced many pictures for private exhibition, engaged as he was in works of greater magnitude, and upon many engravings. More than fifty of these last have been enumerated, for the chief part abounding with figures; labours which must have occupied a large portion of his best time. But there are some persons, as I have observed, (vol. i. p. 136,) who would considerably reduce this number, whether correctly or not posterity will, perhaps, ascertain.

The style of Andrea greatly influenced that of his age, and imitations of it are to be seen even beyond his school, which was extremely flourishing [Pg 10]in Mantua. We enumerate among his most distinguished disciples Francesco, and one of his other sons. There is a paper yet extant, in which they undertake to complete the chamber of the castle just alluded to, of which their father Andrea had only painted the walls. To these they added the beautiful vaulted recess. Whoever examines it must confess that the science of foreshortening, originally attributed to Melozio, was here improved and nearly brought to perfection by Mantegna and his sons. In the same work appear several exquisitely drawn infantine figures, under different points of view, and admirably shortened, so as to lose nothing in comparison with those of Melozio, though his painting of Paradise, drawn for the church of SS. Apostoli, was afterwards cut down and placed in the grand Palazzo Quirinale. The same sons of Mantegna likewise added lateral pictures to an altar-piece of their father, in a family chapel they had, attached to the church of S. Andrea; and in the same place they raised a beautiful monument to his memory in 1517, which has been falsely supposed by some to be the year of his death, whereas it appears, from many authentic works, that he closed his days in 1505.

After the death of Mantegna, Lorenzo Costa held the first rank, an artist of whom we shall treat more at length in the Bolognese School. He adorned the palace with various histories, and the churches with many of his pictures, continuing under Francesco to reside in the same place, and [Pg 11]afterwards under Federigo, until beyond the year 1525, in which time he produced also his picture for his family chapel. There too, like Mantegna, he wished to have his remains deposited. Following his example, he established his family in Mantua, where some of his descendants will again appear at a more modern epoch. But the young Mantegni must be referred to this more ancient period, and along with them ought to be mentioned Carlo del Mantegna, who having studied some length of time under Andrea, and cultivated a complete acquaintance with his style, afterwards introduced it, as we shall shew, into Genoa. Carlo is supposed to have assisted in the labours of the palace and the chapel above mentioned, as well as in many others ascribed to the disciples of Mantegna, among which are two histories of the ark preserved in the monastery of S. Benedetto at Mantua, where Andrea's manner appears somewhat more amplified, though boasting less beautiful forms. But few certain productions of his followers can be fixed upon, their labours being confounded by connoisseurs, from their resemblance of their style and name to those of their master. And it has thus happened in an extremely interesting historical point; for Coreggio having studied, it appears, under Francesco Mantegna, was believed a scholar of Andrea, already deceased before Allegri had attained his twelfth year.

Still more celebrated than the preceding were the names of Gianfrancesco Carotto and Francesco [Pg 12]Monsignori, of Verona. Such was the progress made by the former, that Andrea was in the habit of sending forth his labours as the work of his own hand. He was celebrated for his portraits; and for his composition, equally excellent in large as in small pieces; and he was employed by the Visconti, at Milan, as well as in the court of Monferrato, and to a still greater extent in his native place. Although an artist who flourished at so early a period, in a few of his pictures he might be pronounced more great and harmonious than Andrea himself; as we may gather from his fine altar-piece of S. Fermo, at Verona, and from that of his Angioli, at Santa Eufemia, whose side pictures represent two virgins, very manifestly imitated from Raffaello. He is not to be confounded with Giovanni Carotto, his brother and his pupil, and very greatly inferior to him. Francesco Monsignori ought not to be referred to Verona, but to Mantua, where he established himself, honoured by the Marchese Francesco with his confidence, and remunerated in the most liberal manner. If this artist, also, does not exhibit the beautiful forms, and the purity of design so remarkable in the works of his master, he approaches nearer to the modern taste; his contours more full, his drapery less trite, and his softness more finely studied. In his drawings of animals, he was also considered the Zeuxis of his age; insomuch that he succeeded in imposing upon a real dog with a copy of the animal. In perspective he was a master; and in [Pg 13]the refectory of the Franciscans, there is a picture of our Lord amidst the apostles, exhibiting an architecture, which, however much retouched, does not fail to produce great effect. In the pulpit of the same church is also a S. Bernardino, with a S. Lodovico, one of his most beautiful pieces; and elsewhere altar-grades, with figures which appear like miniature. He had a brother of the name of Girolamo, of the order of S. Domenico, also an excellent artist. The Last Supper, to be seen in the grand library of S. Benedetto, copied from that of Leonardo, in Milan, is from his hand. By many it is esteemed the best copy of that miracle of art, which now remains to us. I have before treated of several of Andrea's scholars, natives of Vicenza; and another of Cremona, I shall have to mention in due time. Yet the entire series of this school will not be completed with these names, as there are specimens of many unknown artists executed in fresco, interspersed throughout different places in Mantua. They are for the most part to be met with on the fašades of buildings, and in the churches; while in several of the galleries we may observe pictures in oil, which appear to exhibit more of the defects than of the excellences of a Mantegna.

[Pg 14]



Giulio Romano and his School.

The school of the Mantegni becoming extinct in Mantua, another of a more beautiful and distinguished character arose, sufficient to excite the envy even of Rome. Duke Federigo had succeeded to Francesco, a prince of much enlargement of mind, and so much devoted to the fine arts, that no artist of common genius would have been equal to execute his ideas. Through the interest of Baldassar Castiglione, then extremely intimate with Raffaello, Giulio Romano was prevailed upon to visit Mantua, where he became at once engineer and painter to Duke Frederic. The duties, however, of the first, occupied him more than those of the second. For the city having been damaged by the waters of the Mincio, the buildings being insecure or badly planned, and the architecture inferior to the dignity of a capital, he was thus furnished with sufficient materials on which to employ his talents, and to render him as it were a new founder of Mantua; insomuch, that its ruler, in a transport of gratitude, was heard to exclaim, that Giulio was in truth more the master of the city than he himself. The whole of these works are extensively recorded in different [Pg 15]books of architecture. The duty here required of me is to point out to the reader the originality of this artist's character; a solitary instance perhaps in history, of one who, having erected the most noble and beautiful palaces, villas, and temples, painted and ornamented a considerable portion of them with his own hand; while at the same time a regular school of his pupils and assistants was formed in Mantua, which continued for a length of years to do equal honour to the country and to the city of Lombardy.

We have already considered Giulio, in treating of the Roman School, in the character of scholar, as well as heir and continuator of the works of Raffaello; but here he is to appear in that of a master, pursuing the method of the head of this school, both in teaching and composition. When he came to Mantua he found abundance of ancient marbles, to which he continued to add specimens, out of which the statues, the busts, and the bassi-relievi, still preserved in the academy, are mere relics. To such materials, collected by the Gonzaghi, he united some of his own. He was abundantly furnished with designs, as well copied from the antique in Rome, as executed by the hand of Raffaello. Nor were his own immediate studies less valuable, no designer having better succeeded in uniting freedom of invention with selection, rapidity with correctness, a knowledge of fable and of history with a certain popular manner, and facility in treating them. Upon the death [Pg 16]of his master he began to give a freer scope to his natural genius, which inclined rather to the bold than to the beautiful, and induced him more to adopt the experience acquired by many years of application, than his own knowledge of nature and of truth. He considered it, therefore, mere amusement to adorn the palace of Mantua, and the great suburban of the TŔ, (to say nothing of his numerous other works,) in the style that Vasari relates, and which is, in part, to be seen at the present day. So many chambers with gilded entablatures; such a variety of beautiful stucco work, the figures of which have been removed for the instruction of youth; so many stories and capricci finely conceived and connected with one another, besides such a diversity of labours adapted to different places and subjects, altogether form a collection of wonders, the honour of which Giulio divided with no other artist. For he himself conceived, composed, and completed these vast undertakings.

He was accustomed himself to prepare the cartoons, and afterwards having exacted from his pupils their completion, he went over the entire work with his pencil, removed its defects, impressing at the same time upon the whole the stamp of his own superior character. This method he acquired from Raffaello; and he is commended by Vasari as the best artist known for his production of distinguished pupils. It was the misfortune of Giulio to have the touches of his own hand in his labours [Pg 17]at the TŔ, modernized by other pencils, owing to which the beautiful fable of Psyche, the moral representations of human life, and his terrible war of the giants with Jove, where he appeared to compete with Michelangiolo himself in the hardihood of his design, still retain, indeed, the design and composition, but no longer the colours of Giulio. In these last his hand will more truly appear in his War of Troy, preserved at the royal court; in his history of Lucretia; and in those little cabinets ornamented by him with grotesques and other ingenious fancies. There we might sometimes pronounce him a Homer, treating of arms, or sometimes an Anacreon, celebrating the delights of wine and love. Nor did he employ his powers less nobly in sacred subjects, more particularly for the dome, which, by commission of the Cardinal Gonzaga, brother to Federigo, and guardian of his young nephew, he not only built, but in part ornamented, though his death occurred before he was enabled to complete his celebrated work. The paintings produced for other churches by his own hand are not very numerous; such, consisting more particularly of his Three Histories of the Passion, coloured in fresco, at S. Marco; of his Santo Cristoforo, in the large altar of that church, in which he is represented with an uncommon degree of strength, yet groaning under the burden of the Lord of the Universe, who in the figure of an infant is borne upon his shoulders; an incident originating in the name itself of Cristoforo. [Pg 18]But let us come to the school of Giulio, in Mantua. It will not occupy many pages; since it did not mix the style of this artist, as in other places has happened, with foreign styles, being peculiarly true to its prototype, so that in each countenance we may trace, as it were, his own exact features, although copied unequally.

In his Mantuan School there appeared several foreigners, among whom Primaticcio proved the most celebrated; an artist whom Giulio employed to work in stucco, and whom, on being invited into the service of the king of France, he sent to that country in his stead. But we shall take no further notice of him here, having to treat of him more fully in our account of the Bolognese. The Veronese, who are in possession of a beautiful fresco, in the Piazza delle Erbe, with the name of Alberto Cavalli Savonese, have supposed this painter a scholar of Giulio, but without any other foundation beyond a strong resemblance to the style of Pippi, in the naked parts. It is strange that no other specimen of such a distinguished hand should be known in Italy, nor any memorial of him, notwithstanding the great researches that have been made; nor is it very improbable that he also may have changed his country, and died in foreign parts. Benedetto Pagni from Pescia had already tried his abilities in Rome, together with Bartolommeo da Castiglioni, with Paparello da Cortona, and with Gio. da Leone; artists of whom I know not if there exist any thing beyond the name; [Pg 19]while Pagni, who accompanied Giulio into Mantua, has been as highly esteemed by Vasari as any other name. From his hand, besides what remains in his native place, we possess a S. Lorenzo, painted in S. Andrea, at Mantua, which does credit to such a school. Companion to him in the numerous works of the TŔ, we find Rinaldo Mantovano, considered by Vasari the most celebrated painter of the city, while he laments the untimely termination of his days. His altar-piece of S. Agostino, at the TrinitÓ, proves him to have been great even in his youth, so much is the design beyond the expectation of such an age; and it has by some been pronounced the work of his master. Fermo Guisoni had a longer career; he painted in the cathedral the Vocation of S. Pietro and S. Andrea, copied from one of the most beautiful and studied cartoons of Giulio. Other pieces of his are extant, in part designed by Bertani, and in part from his own hand. Such is a picture of the Crucifixion at S. Andrea, which both in point of design and force of colouring is indeed admirable.

In this series Vasari has omitted to mention several others whom the Mantuans have enumerated as belonging to the school of Giulio, and as natives of their country. Among these is a Teodoro Ghigi, a Mantuan, as he subscribes himself, an excellent designer, and so familiar with the manner of the leader of his school, that on the decease of the latter, he was employed in the service [Pg 20]of the prince, to complete his labours in the city, and in the country. Ippolito Andreasi also painted a good deal upon the cartoons of Giulio, and produced pictures of merit in S. Barbara as well as elsewhere. There are moreover two frescos in the dome, at the chapel of S. Lorenzo, attributed to one Francesco Perla; an altar-piece at S. Cristoforo by Gio. Batista Giacarolo, neither of them greatly celebrated in this class. Raffaello Pippi was a son of the head of the school; and there only remains of him the honourable recollection of the very promising efforts of his youthful genius, cut off in its happiest spring.

Following Giulio, his pupil, the cavalier Gio. Batista Bertani continued to labour, and to instruct the school. He had accompanied his master to Rome; he was a great architect, and an excellent writer on the subject, as well as a painter of no ordinary talent. Assisted by his brother of the name of Domenico, he ornamented several chambers in the castle of the court; and he committed various altar-pieces to different painters, in the dome erected by Giulio, in Sta. Barbara, which is the work of Bertani himself, and in other churches of the place. To some of these artists he gave his designs. He was esteemed almost as another Giulio by Duke Vincenzio, though very inferior to his predecessor. For what Vasari observes of him, that his knowledge did not equal that of his master, is no less true, than that the chief part of his own assistants surpassed [Pg 21]him. His assistants were Gio. Batista del Moro, Geronimo Mazzuola, Paol Farinato, Domenico Brusasorci, Giulio Campi, Paol Veronese; whose works, displayed in that cathedral, do no less honour to the sanctuary than to the city. Yet let this be said without the least reflection upon his merit, which, particularly in design, was undoubtedly very great. This, indeed, we gather from his picture of the Martyrdom of Sta. Agata, which, executed from the design of Bertani by Ippolito Casta, approaches much nearer to the composition of Giulio than other works of Ippolito, drawn from his own invention.

There is reason to believe that Ippolito was of the family of Lorenzo Costa, together with Luigi, and another Lorenzo, both named Costa, and both Mantuans. Orlandi states Ippolito to have been a pupil of Carpi. Baldinucci includes him in the school of Giulio, either from his having frequented his academy, or in other ways having availed himself of his instructions and his models; and, indeed, his style betrays no slight traces of them. Lamo, who wrote an account of the artists of Cremona, describes him to us as a master, who about 1538 instructed Bernardino Campi; and moreover gives us reason to suppose that his brother Luigi was likewise initiated by him in the art. But he proved an inferior artist, and drew his chief celebrity from his surname. Among the assistants of Taddeo Zuccari, about 1560, Vasari mentions Lorenzo Costa, a Mantuan; and it seems [Pg 22]likely that he sprung either from Luigi or from Ippolito; and had such name conferred upon him, as was usual, in memory of Lorenzo Costa, his grandfather, or from some other relationship to him. We frequently read in the Guide of Mantua, written by Cadioli, that such a painting is from the hand of Costa, without giving his proper name; and it appears probable, that pursuing their labours in the same studio, they may have contracted a sort of family style, not indeed very correct or learned, but of a practical kind. There is a pleasing air about the heads, and some care in the colours; for the rest it is minute; not exact, nor sufficiently shaded; and in fine, modelled upon the composition of one who aimed at imitating the grace, not of rivalling the power of Giulio. The Costa are esteemed in Mantua among the last disciples of the great school; nor do I know of their having produced any pupil besides Facchetti, who devoted himself altogether to portraits.

It will here be proper to state that Giulio in imitation of Raffaello gave rise, by the influence of his taste, to a great number of artificers, who ornamented other professions. He was possessed of those general ideas of beauty and proportion, from which he drew his rules for the particular direction of every work; an enviable distinction of that age, in which the leading men were at once painters, modellers, and architects, extending their influence even from the noblest works of art down to vases and plates of earthenware, and cornices [Pg 23]of wood. I am not certain whether Giulio, like Raffaello, formed the taste of another Gio. da Udine, in drawing fruits and trees, &c.: but I know that Camillo, a Mantuan, declared by Vasari to be most excellent in point of landscape,[1] flourished about this period. Some specimens in fresco still continue to adorn his native place; but he chiefly produced his works in Venice, in Urbino, and at the ducal palace in Pesaro, where, in a chamber, since changed into an armour-room, he painted a grove, executed with so much taste and truth, that it would not be difficult to number every separate leaf upon the trees. It is certain that Giulio educated a pupil as his Perino, for his stuccos; and this was, besides Primaticcio, a Gio. Batista Briziano, commonly called Mantovano, who likewise became his Marc Antonio, engraving on copper many of the pictures of his master, as well as of other distinguished artists of his day. To him ought to be added Giorgio Ghisi, or Ghigi, who flourished at the same period; and to these succeeded Diana, daughter of Gio. Batista,[2] celebrated for her fine engravings; and this branch of art, introduced into Mantua by that eminent artist, continued to prosper there for a long course of years.

[Pg 24]Another branch of the fine arts, that of miniature, seemed to attain its perfection under one of Giulio's scholars. His name was D. Giulio Clovio, of Croazia, a regular Scopetine Canon, afterwards becoming a layman by a dispensation from the Pope. He had first turned his attention to the higher branches of the art, but Giulio, who saw he possessed a peculiar talent for diminutive figures, prevailed upon him to apply himself to these; and taught him the first of any in Rome, the method of applying tints and colours in gum and water colours, while in miniature he obtained instructions from Girolamo da' Libri of Verona. He is esteemed at the head of his profession in this line. In his design he displays a good deal of study of Michelangiolo, and of the Roman School, though approaching nearer to the practice of a good naturalist, exquisitely graceful in his colours, and admirable in his exactness of drawing the minutest objects. Great part of his labours were undertaken for sovereigns and princes, in whose libraries may be found books ornamented by him in miniature with such a degree of truth and spirit, that we appear to view these diminutive objects rather through some camera-optica, than in a picture. It is related by Vasari, that in an Office of the Virgin, made for the Cardinal Farnese, there were figures which did not exceed the size of a small ant; and that each part was nevertheless distinctly drawn. It is worth while, indeed, to read the whole description given by [Pg 25]that historian of the miniatures there inserted, in which he likewise selected subjects adapted for a multitude of figures, such as the procession of the Corpus Domini at Rome, and the feast of the Monte Testaceo: a labour of nine years, which was distributed into twenty-six little histories. He produced numerous small portraits painted for private people; (an art in which he is said by Vasari to have equalled Titian) besides a few little pictures. These are rarely to be met with in collections. There is one of the Deposizione, in the library of the Padri Cisterciensi, at Milan, a piece quite original in its composition, but which breathes altogether the taste of the golden period. Indeed, I am inclined to be of opinion that Giulio promoted this very study in Mantua; having myself seen there some exquisite miniatures, though by unknown hands. It is also worthy of notice, as Vasari remarks, that by means of Giulio, the art advanced towards perfection, not only in Mantua, but throughout all Lombardy, (a state which, in the native acceptation of the term, includes also a portion of the modern Venetian territories). This we have already in part seen; and in part shall continue to see more clearly in the course of this history.

[1] In the Life of Genga.

[2] She is also called Civis Volaterrana, from her connexion with that city; an instance that ought to be present to our recollection, when we find that different writers ascribe different countries to the same painter.

[Pg 26]



Decline of the School, and Foundation of an Academy in order to restore it.

Subsequent to the period in which Giulio flourished, the school of Mantua produced no new names which at all approached the reputation of the first. The disposition of its sovereigns was always inclined rather to invite painters of celebrity from elsewhere, with a sure prospect of being speedily and well served, than to promote the education of their young subjects in the study of an art, slow in producing fruits, and subject to rapid decay. We have already recounted a tolerable number assembled by Duke Vincenzio for the object of ornamenting his churches; of several of whom he also availed himself for the decoration of the palaces. Antonmaria Viani, called il Vianino, a native of Cremona and a scholar of the Campi, thus filled the double capacity of an artist and an architect. The frieze surrounding the gallery of the court presents a specimen of their style, where, in a ground of gold, are seen a group of most beautiful boys, painted in chiaroscuro, and playing amidst luxuriant festoons of flowers. In the same taste of the Campi he produced several sacred [Pg 27]pieces; such as the picture of S. Michele at Sta. Agnese; the Paradiso at the Orsoline; and subsequent to Duke Vincenzio, he was employed by his three successors, and died in Mantua, after having established his family in that city.

Not very long afterwards, Domenico Feti from Rome was declared painter of the same court, an artist of whose education, received under Cigoli, I have treated elsewhere. Cardinal Ferdinando, succeeding to the dukedom of Mantua, had brought him from Rome to his own court, where he had opportunities of improving himself, by studying the finest Lombard models, along with several of the Venetians. He produced many pictures in oil, for various temples and galleries; one of which, representing the Multiplication of Loaves, exists in the Mantuan academy, abounding with figures rather truly noble than large; but varied, shortened, and coloured in a very masterly style. A still more copious work was that in the choir of the cathedral, though his pieces in fresco, like those of Cigoli, have less merit than those painted in oil. With all the excellence of his compositions, he has certainly the fault of being too symmetrical in his groups, which consequently seem to correspond in an exact order, calculated in architecture to please both the eye and the mind, but by no means so in painting. His own youthful excesses deprived Venice of this fine genius, and distinguished ornament of his art, in the very flower of his age. The names of other artists likewise engaged in the service [Pg 28]of the same court, where a relish for the fine arts seems to have been almost indigenous, were Titian, Coreggio, Genga, Tintoretto, Albani, Rubens, Gessi, Gerola, Vermiglio, Castiglione, Lodovico Bertucci, with others of eminent abilities; some of whom were invited for particular commissions, and others permanently engaged for a length of time. Thus the city of Mantua became one of the most richly ornamented in all Italy; insomuch that after suffering the sackage of 1630, in which the ducal palace was despoiled of the noble collection, now dispersed abroad, it still can boast, both in private and public exhibitions, sufficient to engage the curiosity of cultivated strangers for a period of many days.

The city in the meanwhile was not deficient in native artists of superior genius, such as Venusti, Manfredi, and Facchetti; all of whom, on account of their residence in Rome, we have treated of in that school; while in that of Parma we shall have occasion to insert the name of Giorgio del Grano, supposed to be of Mantua, and of Andrea Scutellari in that of Cremona, in which he became fixed. Francesco Borgani is one of those who resided in his native place, and who adopted a good style from the paintings of Parmigianino, in which he composed several pictures in S. Pietro, in S. Simone, in S. Croce, as well as in other places, by which he deserves to be better known than he now is. This artist flourished until the latter half of the past century.

[Pg 29]Towards the same period Giovanni Canti, while yet young, came from Parma and settled in Mantua, an artist whose merits, consisting in his landscapes and battle-scenes, are to be sought for in galleries of art, not in the specimens of his altar-pieces in churches, which are very inferior. He was one of those who lay too much stress on their rapidity of hand. Schivenoglia, whose proper name was Francesco Ranieri, was one of his scholars, equally distinguished for his battles as for his landscape; superior to his master in design, but inferior in point of colouring. Next to him Giovanni Cadioli was considered a good landscape painter, and better in fresco than in oils. He wrote an account of the pictures of Mantua, and at the same period was one of the earliest founders and the first director of the academy for design at that place.

Giovanni Bazzani, a pupil of Canti, was endowed with a higher genius for the art than his master, and laid a better foundation for excellence by the cultivation of his mind, by careful study, and by copying from the most esteemed models. He more particularly directed his attention towards Rubens, whose footsteps he diligently pursued to the end of his career. He was long employed in Mantua and in its adjacent monastery, principally in works of fresco, displaying an easy, spirited, and imaginative character, in a manner that does credit to his genius. He was universally allowed to possess uncommon powers, but being crippled and [Pg 30]infirm, he was unable to exhibit them as he wished; and besides, the rapid manner acquired from Canti, diminished, for the most part, the value of his works.

Giuseppe Bottani of Cremona, educated at Rome under Masucci, afterwards established himself in Mantua, where he acquired the reputation of a good landscape painter in the manner of Poussin, and of a good figurist in that of Maratta. His best pictures are found beyond the confines of the city; in a church at Milan, dedicated to Saints Cosma and Damiano, is to be seen a Santa Paola by his hand, taking farewell of the domestics, a piece by no means inferior to that of Batoni, which is placed at its side. It had been well for his reputation as an artist had he always exerted himself with equal care, for in every composition he might have approved himself an excellent disciple of the school of Rome. His extreme haste, however, rendered him inconsistent with himself, so that in the city where he taught, there can hardly be enumerated one or two specimens among the great number he produced in public, which can at all vie with the Milanese. The reader may have already learned, in the course of this work, that of all faults celerity is one of the most fatal to the reputation of artists; the rock upon which many of the finest geniuses have struck. To few, indeed, has it been given to produce with rapidity and to produce well.

The academy of Mantua not only still exists, [Pg 31]but has been furnished by the princes of the house of Austria with splendid rooms, with select casts, and other advantages for the improvement of youth, so as to render it one of the finest academies in Italy.[3] There have appeared, under the auspices of Signor Volta, one of its members, compendious notices of the artists of Mantua, down from the year 1777; an earnest of a more extended work that we are in hopes of receiving from his able and accomplished pen. With these notices, as well as others afforded us in conversation with the same enlightened scholar, we have been glad to enrich the present chapter. Nor have we failed to keep in view the two Discourses upon the Letters and the Arts of Mantua, recited in the academy, and afterwards made public by the Sig. Abate Bettinelli, in which his character, as a fluent orator, and a diligent historian, in the various notes he has added, appears to equal advantage.

[3] Upon the establishment of the Italian republic, according to what I have recently heard from the learned P. Pompilio Pozzetti Scolopio, public librarian at Modena, the academies were reduced to two; the one in Bologna, the other in Milan; and in the rest of the cities they continue to exist as schools of the fine arts. To both of these the government is extremely favourable, as well as to letters, both very interesting objects of public education. And now, by the union of the Venetian states, the academy of Venice is greatly strengthened and increased, established by decree of the government in the year 1724.

[Pg 32]




The Ancients.

The state of Modena, such as it is now reunited under the happy government of the house of Este, will form the subject of the following chapter; and no other portion of my work can be pronounced superior in point of interest to this. Since the feeble attempts of Vedriani, and of other writers, more eager than sagacious, the pictoric history of the entire dominion has been recently illustrated, as I observed at the commencement, by a distinguished historian. I have no further object in view than to adapt it to my usual method, omitting at the same time a few names, which, either from their mediocrity, from the loss of their works, or other reasons, cannot be presumed to be greatly interesting to my readers.

The antiquity of this school may be sought for as far back as 1235, at least if it may be supposed that Berlingeri of Lucca, certainly the author of a S. Francesco remaining in the castle of Guiglia, painted in the above year, likewise produced pupils to the state of Modena, a matter which is still involved in doubt. There is another sacred [Pg 33]figure, also the production of a Modenese, consisting of the Blessed Virgin, between two military saints, a picture brought from Prague into the Imperial Gallery at Vienna. We read inscribed upon it in ancient character the two following lines:

Quis opus hoc finxit? Thomas de Mutina pinxit;

Quale vides Lector Rarisini filius auctor;

in which we ought to read Barisini, both on account of Sig. Garampi, who is profoundly skilled in the ancient characters, having thus understood it, and because this name approaches nearer to those which, though certainly different, are known to apply to the father of Tommaso, as well in Modena as in Trevigi. In the former I know not that there now remains any thing of him but the name; but in the latter is to be seen a very extensive work in the chapter of the Padri Predicatori. Here are represented the saints and scholars of the order, and the artist's name also appears with the date of 1352.[4] The design of this piece is tolerably good for those times, as appears from the engravings taken of it by the Domenican, Father Federici, the same who presented us with a learned work upon the Antiquities of Trevigi. He discovered that the father of Tommaso, by name Borasino or Bizzarrino, an [Pg 34]abbreviation he says of Buzzaccarino, became nominated to the citizenship, and to the public notaryship of Trevigi, in 1315; in all which his family was called di Modena, as that of Girolamo Ferrarese was called di Carpi. On the strength of these documents Trevigi may, perhaps, dispute with Modena the honour of producing such an artist; but I shall take no share in the question. I would here merely observe that the superscription does not say Thomas de Mutina, from which we might gather that Modena was the cognomen of the family; but that Thomas pictor de Mutina pinxit istud; whence to conclude that he there gave the name of his real country, either because he was born in Modena, or because, descended from a Modenese family, he retained his citizenship, and rather wished to appear a native of Modena than of Trevigi. However this may be, it is a signal honour for Italy to have given such an artist to Germany, a name of which the historians of that great nation have mistakenly availed themselves, in the outset of the historic series of their painters, tracing his origin to Muttersdorff, and making him the master of Theodoric of Prague, followed in succession by Wumser,[b] Schoen, Wolgemut, and Albert Durer.

Next to the pictures of Tommaso, ought to be enumerated an altar-piece by Barnaba da Modena, preserved together with the author's name in Alba, and dated 1377, a piece by one writer supposed anterior to Giotto; and in addition to this an Ancona, from the hand of Serafino de' Serafini da Modena, [Pg 35]containing various busts and entire figures, with the name also of the painter, and the year 1385. It is placed in the cathedral, and its principal subject is the Incoronation of the Virgin. In its composition it very nearly resembles that of Giotto and his school, of which, indeed, more than of any other, the whole character of the piece partakes, only the figures are, perhaps, a little more full, and as it were better fed than those of the Florentine School. If the origin of such resemblance should be sought for, let us consider that Giotto not only employed himself in the adjacent city of Bologna, but likewise in Ferrara, which, together with Modena, was then subject to the house of Este, so that one city might easily afford precepts and examples to another.

Vasari remarked at Modena some ancient paintings at S. Dominico, and he might have seen more in possession of the Padri Benedettini, and elsewhere; from which he judged, that "in every age there had been excellent artists in that place." Their names, which were unknown to Vasari, have in part been collected from MSS., consisting of a Tommaso Bassini,[5] whose age and productions are uncertain, [Pg 36]and some others of the fourteenth century, approaching nearer to a more improved era. One of these was Andrea Campana, to whom a work, bearing the initials of his name, in the Colorno Villa of the Duke of Parma, has been attributed, representing the acts of S. Piero Martire, a piece extremely pleasing and well coloured. Another is Bartolommeo Bonasia, excellent both in painting and inlaid work, a specimen of which he left in a picture placed in the convent of S. Vincenzo. There are, moreover, in Sassuolo, some notices of Raffaello Calori of Modena, beginning in 1452 and terminating in 1474; besides a picture of the Virgin in the best manner of those times, during which he was in the service of Duke Borso. Later than him flourished Francesco Magagnolo, an artist who terminated his career early in the sixteenth century, and one of the first who drew countenances in such a manner as to appear looking at the spectator, in whatever point of view he might observe them. His contemporaries, it appears, were Cecchino Setti, whose labours have wholly perished, with the exception of a few altar-ornaments, in the most finished taste; Nicoletto [Pg 37]da Modena, at once a painter, and one of the very earliest engravers, whose prints are much sought after for cabinets, and are placed at the head of collections; Giovanni Munari, commended by historians, and distinguished for the great name of his son and pupil Pellegrino; and finally Francesco Bianchi Ferrari, who died in 1510. To this last has been ascribed the honour of instructing Coreggio, which, however, can by no means be asserted beyond dispute. One of his altar-pieces was formerly to be seen in S. Francesco, executed with some degree of modern softness, though still partaking of the ancient stiffness, and the eyes designed without a due regard to rotundity.

In the smaller capitals, also, about this period, flourished artists of considerable merit. Reggio still boasts a Madonna of Loreto, painted in the dome by the hand of Bernardino Orsi, with the date of 1501; while in S. Tommaso, and elsewhere, we meet with some paintings of Simone Fornari, also called Moresini, and of Francesco Caprioli. I mention them here, not so much on account of the period which they adorned, as for the resemblance of their manner to the two Francia, more especially Fornari; many of his pictures having been attributed to those distinguished ornaments of Bologna.

Carpi, likewise, preserves several relics of the ancient arts: besides a frieze in the rudest style of sculpture, in the facade of the old cathedral, a work of the twelfth century. To the same church [Pg 38]is attached two chapels, exhibiting the commencement and the progress of painting in those parts. In one is seen the spousals of Santa Caterina, a piece so extremely infantile, that it would be difficult to find a similar example in Italy. The painting upon the walls is, however, superior; displaying an original style, no less in the drapery than in the ideas, and forcible in its action. The other chapel is divided into various niches, with the effigy of a saint in each; and in this work, which is the latest of the two, appear some traces of the style of Giotto. There is no nomenclature giving us any account of artists so very ancient. The list of the school commences with Bernardino Loschi, who, sprung from a family in Parma, signs his own name, Carpense, in some of his pictures. Without such elucidation, these might have been pronounced the works of one or other of the Francia. Loschi was employed in the service of Alberto Pio; and there exist memorials of him from the year 1495 until 1533. There remains on record the name of one of his contemporaries, Marco Meloni, one of the most accurate of artists, of whom every thing may be included in the observation, that his pictures at S. Bernardino, and elsewhere, partake in the same degree of the Bolognese manner. Probably he was a pupil of that school, as well as Alessandro da Carpi, enumerated by Malvasia among the disciples of Costa.

Finally, Coreggio likewise cultivated the fine arts before Antonio Allegri came into the world. [Pg 39]For not many years ago a fresco of tolerable execution was discovered in that cathedral, ascribed by tradition, to Lorenzo Allegri, who, in a letter of donation, subscribed by him in 1527, is called Magister Laurentius Filius Magistri Antonii de Allegris Pictor. This artist is believed to have been the first instructor of Antonio Allegri, his brother's son; and it is, at least, certain that he had a school in which he taught the rules of art to another of his nephews, as I have heard from the learned Dottore Antonioli, who is busied in preparing a life of his very distinguished fellow citizen. At present there are few paintings in Coreggio displaying the taste of the artists of the fourteenth century, from which we might judge of that school. A Madonna, painted in 1511, when Antonio Allegri had attained his seventeenth year, is, however, to be met with in the Catalogue of the Este Gallery, whither it had been transferred. It is attributed to Antonio Allegri, but there is no sufficient evidence of the fact; and we should have about equal authority for giving it to Lorenzo. The style is but middling, and in point of forms, the ancient character is not wholly laid aside in the folds of the drapery: it may, however, be pronounced of a softer tone than that of the chief part of its contemporaries, and nearer to the modern manner.

Before proceeding further, it will be right to inform the reader of a certain advantage that this tract of country, and Modena in particular, enjoyed [Pg 40]from the commencement of the fifteenth century, consisting in the abundance of its excellent modellers in clay. Of this art, the parent of sculpture, and the nurse of painting, that city has since produced the most exquisite specimens in the world; and this, if I mistake not, is the most characteristic, rare, and admirable advantage of the school. Guido Mazzoni, otherwise Paganini, a name highly celebrated by Vasari, had the reputation of an excellent artist from the time he produced his Holy Family, at St. Margherita, in 1484, presenting statues of a vivacity and expression truly surprising. This great artificer was employed by Charles VIII., both in Naples and France, where he remained upwards of twenty years, retiring at length into his native country, full of honours, to terminate his days. No slight commendation has likewise been bestowed by the historian Lancillotto, upon Gio. Abati, father of Niccolo, and his contemporary, whose sacred images in chalk were held in the highest esteem; more particularly the crucifixions, executed with a knowledge of anatomy, most exact in every separate vein and nerve. He was nevertheless far surpassed by Antonio Begarelli, probably his pupil, who by his works in clay, with figures even larger than life, has succeeded in bearing away the palm from all his competitors. In the church and monastery of the Padri Benedettini, there is preserved a noble collection of them. As he flourished during a long period, he filled those churches with monuments, groups, [Pg 41]and statues, to say nothing of others which he produced in Parma, Mantua, and other places. Vasari praises him for "the fine air of his heads, beautiful drapery, exquisite proportions, and colour of marble;" and the same author continues to relate, that they appeared so excellent to Bonarruoti that he said, "if this clay were only to become marble, woe betide the ancient statues." I am at a loss to imagine what species of eulogy could be more desirable to an artist; in particular when we reflect upon the profound science of Bonarruoti, and how tardy he was to praise. We ought not to omit to mention, that Begarelli was likewise excellent in design, and acted as a master, both of that and modelling, in the instruction of youth. Hence he greatly influenced the art of painting, and to him we are in a great measure to trace that correctness, that relief, that art of foreshortening, and that degree of grace approaching nearly to Raffaello's, in all of which this part of Lombardy boasted such a conspicuous share.

[4] It was believed some time ago that this painting was produced in 1297, this date being found on the picture, and Sig. Mechel having thus published it in his catalogue of the Royal Gallery at Vienna. Whether it still remains thus inserted I know not; but undoubtedly it ought not to be there.

[5] This information, taken from Tiraboschi, does not seem to favour the system of Father Federici, who says, that in the fourteenth century names were frequently shortened, adducing, at the same time, several examples, (vol. i. p. 53). He thus explains how Buzzaccarino became Bizzarrino, Barisino, Borasino, with many more strange terms in Trevigi. Now why might not this artist's name become Bassino, in Modena? And if in reading Tommaso di Bassino da Modena in the authorities of Tiraboschi, every one perceives the name of the painter, that of the father, and of the country to which he belonged; then why, on reading upon pictures Tommaso di Barisino, or Borisino, da Modena, are we bound to believe this last the name of a family; and so much more, as there were then few families distinguished by their surnames? Tommaso, therefore, wished it to be understood that he came from Modena; and if this became a surname which distinguished his family in Trevigi, it must have been at a later period, when he knew nothing of it.

[Pg 42]



Imitation of Raffaello and Coreggio, in the Sixteenth Century.

Such were the preparatory efforts throughout all these districts, as far as we have hitherto considered them: but the best preparation lay in the natural talent of the young artists. Of these we are told, upon the authority of Tiraboschi, that the Card. Alessandro d'Este observed, that "they appeared to have been born with a natural genius for the fine arts:" an opinion fully borne out during the lapse of the sixteenth century, when if every province of Italy produced some great name in painting, this little district of itself abounded with a sufficient number to reflect honour upon a whole kingdom. I commence my account from the city of Modena; no other city of Lombardy earlier appreciated the style of Raffaello, nor did any city of all Italy become more deeply attached to, and produce more enthusiastic imitators of it. I have already treated of Pellegrino da Modena, (vol. ii. p. 115) called in the Chronicle of Lancillotti degli Aretusi, alias de' Munari. He received his education in his native place, and produced a picture there as early as 1509, still preserved at S. Giovanni, in excellent condition, and creditable to the talent of its author, even before [Pg 43]he entered the school of Raffaello. But such was here his improvement, that his master availed himself of his assistance in adorning the open galleries of the Vatican, as well as in other works executed in Rome, sometimes along with Perino del Vaga, and sometimes by himself. Several of his pieces at S. Giacomo degli Spagnuoli boasted figures of such a truly graceful and Raffaellesque air, according to the account of Titi, that the modern retouches they received was a circumstance truly to be deplored. He is better known in his own country than at Rome, in particular at S. Paolo, where there remains a Nativity of our Lord which seems to breathe, in every part, the graces of D'Urbino. This unhappy artist had a son who, having committed homicide, was threatened with the vengeance of the parents of the deceased; and meeting with the father, they directed their fury against him, and slew him upon the spot, a truly tragic event, which occurred in 1523. Another of his sons, Tiraboschi conjectures to have been Cesare di Pellegrino Aretusi, the same, who by many writers is called Modenese, having been born in Modena; Bolognese by others, because he lived in Bologna, and there took up his citizenship. This artist, to whom we shall again refer, formed his taste in Bologna by copying Bagnacavallo, being unable to obtain the instructions of Pellegrino. A Giulio Taraschi, however, was more fortunate, and benefitted much by his instructions, as appears from many of his paintings at S. Pietro, in Modena, [Pg 44]in the Roman taste; a taste which he is said to have cultivated in two of his brothers, and transmitted to others whose names will appear as we proceed.

Somewhat later, also, Coreggio began to afford a new model for the school of Modena; he who is now held their master, and whose skull is preserved, upon the example set by Rome, (vol. ii. p. 143), in the academy recently opened with so much splendour. He employed himself a good deal in Parma, in which school we shall more decidedly treat of him, though he also, in some measure, adorned Modena, Reggio, Carpi, and Coreggio; drawing scholars from all these places, who will appear in a catalogue with the rest in their appropriate chapter. In this way he early began to exercise an influence over the school of Modena, and to be esteemed in it a sort of master, whose manner might be pursued with advantage, either in emulating it altogether, or uniting it with that of Raffaello.

This became more particularly the case when his fame increased, after his decease; and when the best specimens he left behind him were collected by degrees, both from the capital and from the adjacent cities, by different dukes of Este, to adorn their Gallery, where they were to be seen until nearly the middle of the present century.[6] At [Pg 45]that period Modena was thronged with artists of every country, coming to take copies of those great productions, and to study the rules of their composition; an object in which the natives themselves were not remiss; insomuch that we trace vestiges of their imitation in every separate hand. In regard, however, to the earliest and more ancient, it would appear that their predilection and their genius were more decidedly directed towards Raffaello, and the Roman manner; whether it be that exotic commodities are more highly valued than those of native growth, or whether it were that the successors of Pellegrino alone continued for a length of time to instruct youth, and to maintain a reputation in those parts.

It would be desirable in the history of so excellent a school, that writers should inform us by whom many of those masters were educated who flourished towards the middle, or latter half of the century. Observation, however, may in some degree serve to supply the omission of historians, as the style in many approaches so nearly that of Raffaello, as to lead us to conclude, that they must have imbibed it from Munari himself, or from the Taraschi, who succeeded him in his school.

Among the works of Gaspare Pagani, who was also a portrait-painter, the picture of S. Chiara is the only remaining specimen. Of Girolamo da Vignola, a few frescos remain at S. Piero. Both were professed imitators of Raffaello; but the last one of the most happy whom that age produced. [Pg 46]Alberto Fontana displayed equal excellence in his frescos, and ornamented both within and without the public market-place; pictures, says Scanelli, which appear like Raffaello's, while he erroneously ascribes them to the hand of Niccol˛ dell' Abate. And in truth, from the observation of Vedriani, the style of one very much resembles that of the other; whether they may have both equally imbibed it from Begarelli, which the same historian seems to insinuate, or whether they derived it through some other channel, in the academy of Munari. Still the similitude of their manner is not such as to merge their more peculiar distinctions; so that if the heads of Alberto's figures are remarkable for a fine air, and for tints that rival those of Niccol˛, we can easily point out less perfect design, and occasionally a certain rudeness and heaviness. But let us turn to his competitor, and dwell upon the subject more at length, as becomes the character of a painter, enumerated by Algarotti "among the first who have adorned the world."

He is supposed by some to have been instructed by Coreggio, an assertion which cannot wholly be discredited, when we cast our eye upon some instances of his foreshortening, and of his fine relievo. But Vasari no where mentions such a circumstance; and it is only on adverting to the Martyrdom of the chiefs of the Apostles, painted by him at the Monaci Neri, that he remarks, that the figure of an executioner is taken from a picture [Pg 47]by Coreggio at S. Giovanni of Parma. Whoever may have been the tutor of Niccolino, he very evidently betrays his enthusiasm for the Roman School, in his frescos at Modena, supposed to be one of his earliest works. The same might be averred of his twelve fresco pictures upon the twelve books of the Ăneid, removed from the fortress of Candiano, and now adorning the ducal palace; sufficient of themselves to exhibit him as an excellent hand in figures, in landscape, in architecture, and in animals; in every merit requisite to a distinguished disciple of Raffaello. Proceeding at a maturer age to Bologna, he painted under the portico of the Lions, a Nativity of our Lord, in such a manner that neither in those of Raffaellino del Borgo, nor of any other artist educated in Rome, do I recollect meeting with so decided a resemblance to the head of the school. I know that a distinguished professor was in the habit of pronouncing it the most perfect painting in fresco that the city of Bologna possessed. It formed likewise the admiration and model of the Caracci, no less than other works of Niccolino, remaining in the city. Among these, the most admired by strangers, is that fine Conversazione of ladies and youths, which serves for a frieze in the hall of the Institute. Next to Raffaello this artist did not refuse to imitate some others. There is recorded, and indeed impressed upon the memory of most painters, a sonnet of Agostino Caracci, from which we learn, that in Niccolino alone was [Pg 48]assembled the symmetry of Raffaello, the terror of Michelangiolo, the truth of Titian, the dignity of Coreggio, the composition of Tibaldi, the grace of Parmigianino; in a word, the best of every best professor, and of every school. Such an opinion, though to be taken with some grains of allowance, from a poet passionately attached to the honour of his native school, might perhaps obtain more supporters, did the pieces of Abati appear somewhat more frequently in different collections. But they are extremely rare; no less because of the superior number of his frescos, than from the circumstance of his having passed into France at the age of forty. He was invited thither by the Abate Primaticcio to assist him in some of his greatest works, intended for Charles IX., nor did he ever return into Italy. Hence arose the story of his having been a pupil of Primaticcio, and taking from him his cognomen of Abate; when in fact he drew that title from his own family. About 1740 there were remaining at Fontainebleau the Histories of Ulysses, to the number of thirty-eight, painted by Niccol˛ from designs of Primaticcio; the most extensive of any of his works executed in France. According to Algarotti, it was afterwards destroyed, though engravings of it, from the hand of Van-Thulden, a pupil of Rubens, still remain.

Niccol˛'s family, also, for a long period, continued to maintain a reputation in many branches of the art. One of his brothers, Pietro Paolo, distinguished himself by his happy manner of representing [Pg 49]warlike skirmishes, in particular the terrific charges of horse: several small pictures in the ducal gallery, from their peculiar character, are thus ascribed to his hand; and they are to be seen placed immediately below those of the Ăneid. In the chronicle of Lancillotto we meet with Giulio Camillo, son of Niccol˛, who accompanied his father into France; his name thus remaining nearly unknown in Italy. The most distinguished name in the family after Niccolo, is that of Ercole, son of Giulio, though its lustre was impaired by an abandoned course of life, productive of great unhappiness. He painted a good deal; but, as is too frequently the case with persons of his character, he diminished the value of his productions by the haste and inaccuracy of his hand. Of his superior merit, however, we are assured by the number of commissions bestowed upon him by the Modenese court, to which we are inclined to give more credit than to the venal strains of Marino, who extols him to the skies. His picture of the marriage of Cana, remaining in the ducal gallery, would be sufficient to establish his fame; it is in his finest manner, and, in many points, displays much of the taste of the Venetian School. His most extensive work was produced for the hall of council, where he had a companion and rival in Schedone, assisting him in those pictures which they undertook in conjunction, and vieing with him in his separate works. Nor ought it to be esteemed any diminution of his merit to have been surpassed by so great [Pg 50]a competitor. The last of these family artists is Pietro Paolo, son of Ercole, who died in his eight and thirtieth year, 1630. I include his name here, in order not to separate him from his ancestors, of none of whom he was unworthy. Though hardly with equal genius, he pursued the manner of his father; there is a tame expression in several of his best authenticated pieces: I say best authenticated, because it is doubtful whether we should consider some pictures, attributed to him, as the inferior specimens of his father, or the best of his own.

Besides the disciples and imitators of Raffaello, I find other artists of Modena, who, during the sixteenth century, became attached to a different style; and no one among these is to be preferred to Ercole de' Setti, an excellent engraver, as well as a painter of considerable merit. A few of his altar-pieces remain at Modena; and I have seen, though very rarely, some little pieces painted for galleries, dignified rather than beautiful in point of design. He is cautious and studied in the naked parts, nearly equal to the style of the Florentines, spirited in his attitudes, and strong in his colouring. We find his name subscribed Ercole de' Setti, and also in Latin, Hercules Septimius. Along with his name Vedriani enumerates that of a Francesco Madonnina, entitling him one of the most celebrated artists in the city; but there is too little of his remaining in Modena to form a judgment of his style. As little also remains of [Pg 51]Giovanni Battista[c] Ingoni, a rival of Niccolo, as he is termed by Vasari; and what yet exists is by no means to be held in high estimation. I have discovered nothing from the hand of Gio. Batista Codibue, though I have read of his Nunziata at the Carmine being highly esteemed, besides other productions both in painting and sculpture. High commendations have likewise been bestowed upon Domenico Carnevale for his frescos, that have now perished, though a few oil paintings still exist, held in much esteem; one of the Epiphany, belonging to one of the prince's collections, and another of the Circumcision, in the palace of the Conti Cesi. He also distinguished himself at Rome; and it will be sufficient to add, that he was the artist selected to restore the pictures of Michelangiolo, as we find recorded in the notes to Vasari.

Reggio boasts the honour of having derived its first school from Raffaello; and Bernardino Zacchetti is supposed to have been one of his disciples, though the authorities cited to this effect by most historians, are not entirely conclusive. Perhaps his picture at S. Prospero, designed and coloured in the taste of Garofolo, and others which partake of that of Raffaello, may have given rise to this opinion. But Italy then abounded with the disciples of that great master, no longer instructed, indeed, by his voice, but by his paintings and engravings. The works, said to have been produced by him in Rome, and the assistance afforded to [Pg 52]Bonarruoti, in his labours at the Sistine Chapel, are assertions of Azzari, contained in his Compendio, which remain unquestioned by any ancient writer. We might more easily, however, grant him the proposition of Giarola having been a pupil of Coreggio, and as such I have reserved him for the school of Parma.

Not long after these flourished Lelio Orsi, of Reggio. Banished from his native place, he took up his residence at Novellara, a city then in the possession of the Gonzaghi, where he established himself, and derived his name of Lelio da Novellara. This distinguished character, of whom no account had been given, beyond a slight notice in the Abbecedario, has recently been honoured with an excellent life, from the pen of the Cavalier Tiraboschi, compiled from a variety of sources. Whether he was really a disciple of Coreggio still remains a disputed point with historians, though it is certain he flourished sufficiently near, both in regard to time and place, to have become acquainted with him. He, at least, studied and copied his works, of which there is an instance in a copy of the celebrated Notte, in possession of the noble house of Gazzola, at Verona. Nor are there wanting writers who maintain that Parma, likewise, was embellished by his hand, a city in which the chief ornaments of that school employed themselves. And there are false accounts, still in some measure credited, of his having been a pupil of Michelangiolo; of Coreggio having corresponded [Pg 53]with him, and even consulted him in his designs. It is true, indeed, he is an ingenious, accurate, and powerful designer. Whether he imbibed his taste at Rome, as Tiraboschi, upon the authority of a MS., seems to believe; or from Giulio in the city of Mantua; or, again, from studying the designs and models of Michelangiolo; a knowledge of the path being itself sufficient to enable enlightened spirits to run the same career with success. Decidedly his design is not of the Lombard School; and hence arises the difficulty of supposing him one of the scholars of Coreggio, in which case his earlier pieces, at least, would have partaken of a less robust character. He has admirably succeeded, however, in attaining the same grace in his chiaroscuro, in the spreading of his colours, and in the beauty and delicacy of his youthful heads. Both Reggio and Novellara possess many of his pictures in fresco, now, for the most part, perished; and we are indebted to the glorious memory of Francesco III. for such as are now to be seen at Modena, in the palace of his highness, transferred thither from the fortress of Novellara. Few of his altar-pieces remain in public in either of the cities, the rest being removed; one of which last, representing the Saints Rocco and Sebastiano, along with S. Giobbe, I happened to meet with in the studio of Signor Armanno, at Bologna. A few others attributed to him at Parma,[7] at Ancona, and at Mantua, are by no means of so authentic a [Pg 54]character; and there is every reason to believe that Lelio, dividing his time between Reggio and Novellara, never absented himself from those places long together; and has thus remained less known than many other painters of inferior rank. The silence of Vasari, of Lomazzo, of Baldinucci, as well as the chief part of foreigners, is thus likewise accounted for.

From the school of Lelio, in all probability, sprung Jacopo Borbone, of Novellara, who, in the year 1614, painted a portion of the cloister at the church of the Osservanti, in Mantua; also, Orazio Perucci, of whom there remain various pictures in private houses, and an altar-piece at S. Giovanni. Raffaello Motta was undoubtedly a pupil of Orsi, better known under the name of Raffaellino da Reggio, who left in his native place a few of his productions in fresco; an astonishing genius, deserving of Rome for his theatre of action, as indeed I before observed, and of being lamented like a new Raffaello, prematurely passing away.

At this period Carpi had to boast the name of Orazio Grillenzone, who resided mostly in Ferrara, where enjoying the acquaintance of Tasso, he was honoured and immortalized by his pen, being rendered the subject of that dialogue, bearing for its title, Il Grillenzone, or the Epitaph. But none of his paintings are now to be found in that city; and even what remains of his in Carpi is of a very disputable character. I do not here speak of the celebrated Girolamo of Carpi; because he was in [Pg 55]fact a native of Ferrara, as I elsewhere observed. There is little to be said of Ugo da Carpi, as a painter: he was of an inferior genius when he applied himself to his pencil; and fell still further below mediocrity when he became whimsical enough to paint with his fingers, recording the exploit upon the canvass, as he did in the figure of the Volto Santo, the Holy Face, at S. Pietro, in Rome. Still we ought to bear honourable testimony to his merit, as the inventor of wood engraving in two, and next in three blocks, or pieces, by which he expressed the three different tints, the shade, the middle tints, and the light.[8] In this way [Pg 56]he produced many designs and inventions of Raffaello, with greater clearness than even Marc Antonio had before done; besides opening to posterity a new path, as it were, of painting in chiaroscuro, very easily imitated and multiplied. Vasari particularly treats upon it at the close of his Introduction; and there, no less than in other places, commends the genius of Ugo as one of the most acute that was ever directed towards the fine arts.

[6] Francesco III. disposed of one hundred pictures to the court of Dresden; among which were five from the hand of Coreggio, for 130,000 zechins, which were coined in Venice.

[7] See Father Aff˛, pp. 27-124.

[8] The Germans claim the invention of the art of engraving in wood, in chiaroscuro, before Ugo announced it to the Italians. For this, they produce the cards of Gio. Ulderico Pilgrim, which, although Gothic, observes Huber, (p. 89) produce an admirable effect in regard to chiaroscuro. They make out the inventor to be very ancient, enumerating Mair and others, equally celebrated at the same period. We are told nothing, however, in regard to their mechanism, which was probably not the same as that of Ugo.

It will not here be thought irrelevant to record the new method of engraving in the Dutch manner, in imitation of coloured designs, though not executed by process of wood, but of copper. It has been introduced into Tuscany, through the efforts of the distinguished Cosimo Rossi, a gentleman of Pistoia, and vice-president of the academy. After various experiments, and making the first trials upon some representations of tombs, in the solid Egyptian style of his own invention, it soon became also imitated in other modes of engraving, and more especially in the Viaggio Pittorico of Traballesi. It were desirable that the before-mentioned gentleman should continue to apply the same in works of architecture and perspective; in which he succeeds admirably also with his pencil, very happily emulating the style of Canaletto. The method ought to be explained very minutely; but it is both too complicate and too extensive to be adapted to the degree of brevity we have bound ourselves to observe upon similar subjects.

[Pg 57]



The Modenese Artists of the Seventeenth Century chiefly follow the example of the Bolognese.

The taste introduced by Munari into Modena and the state, together with the example of Coreggio and Lelio, did not become wholly extinct in the seventeenth century. It was in some measure continued by several of their pupils and imitators, but in proportion as those of the Caracci grew into greater credit, gradually extending their influence over the other schools of Italy, it began to decline apace. It is well known that some of the Modenese frequented their academy, and Bartolommeo Schedone is included by Malvasia among the scholars of the Caracci. If such be the fact, we must conclude, either that his first productions are not known, or that he merely saluted that school, as it were, from the threshold; inasmuch as the larger works which are pointed out as his, betray few traces of the style of the Caracci. It seems more probable that he employed himself in following the successors of Raffaello in his native place, and in particular Coreggio, of whom there remained so many original pieces. His pieces in fresco, executed in competition with Ercole Abati, [Pg 58]about 1604, still exist in the public palace; and among these is the beautiful history of Coriolanus, and the Seven Sisters, who are meant to represent Harmony: whoever observes these will find they possess a mixture of the two characters before alluded to. There is, moreover, in the cathedral, a half figure of S. Geminiano, with an infant boy restored by him to life, supporting himself by the saint's staff, and apparently returning his thanks. It may be enumerated among the best of his works, and bears a striking resemblance to those of Coreggio. The same resemblance was affirmed from that period in other of his pictures transferred elsewhere; and Marini mentions them in one of his letters as a kind of phenomenon. Scanelli, who wrote about forty years after the death of Schedone, also confirms such an opinion; though to make the imitation complete, he would have wished a little more practice and solidity, in which I rather think he alludes to his perspective and design, not always quite correct. For the rest his figures, both in their character and their action, are very pleasing, while his colouring in fresco is very vivid and lively; in oils he is more serious, but more harmonious, though not always free from the ill effect produced by the bad grounds usual in the age of the Caracci. His pictures on a larger scale, such as his PietÓ, now in the academy of Parma, are extremely rare, and also his history-pieces, as the Nativity of our Lord and that of the Virgin, placed for lateral ornaments to an altar-piece [Pg 59]by Filippo Bellini. Of his Holy Families, and little sacred pieces, there are some remaining; such as are found in galleries being highly valuable, so much so, that Tiraboschi records the sum of 4,000 crowns having been required for one of them. The court of Naples is extremely rich in them, having, together with the other Farnesian pictures, obtained also those painted by Schedone, while in the service of Duke Ranuccio, his most liberal patron. This artist produced but little, being seduced by the love of gambling; nor did he survive very long after losing a large sum of money, about the end of the year 1615.

The three following names belong to the school of the Caracci, also in regard to style. Giacomo Cavedone, born in Sassuolo, but absent from the state after the period of youth, was esteemed one of the best disciples of Lodovico. Giulio Secchiari, of Modena, resided also at Rome, and in Mantua, where he produced several excellent pictures for the court, which perished in the sack of 1630. What remains of him in his native place, and in particular the Death of the Virgin, in the subterranean part of the cathedral, with four crowns around, is calculated to give rise to lively regret, that Giulio should not be equally well known in different collections, with the other disciples of the Caracci. Camillo Gavassetti, likewise of Modena, may boast also of a greater degree of merit than of fame; no less because he died young, than because of his attaching himself to works in [Pg 60]fresco, which, confined to the place in which they are produced, confine also the reputation of the artist. He is better known in Piacenza than in Modena, Parma, or, indeed, any other city. One of his paintings adorns the presbytery of the church of S. Antonino, accompanied with figures taken from the Apocalypse, so finely executed as to induce Guercino, when coming to Piacenza to complete his finest work, to bestow the highest commendation upon it; and it is still enumerated among the chief ornaments of that rich and ornate city. There is something so grand, spirited, and choice, in its whole expression, combined with so much grace and harmony of tints, that it equally surprises us when viewed together, and satisfies us when examined part by part. The action only is sometimes too extravagant, and some of the figures are hardly sufficiently studied. In fact, this artist preferred expedition to high finish; and held a dispute, reported by Baldinucci, with Tiarini, who practised and maintained the contrary, a plan by which, in all works of importance, he was preferred to him in Parma. In Santa Maria di Campagna, at Piacenza, however, where they both painted scriptural histories in opposition, Gavassetti maintains his ground against Tiarini, and other competitors, very numerous and distinguished for that period.

When the pupils of the Caracci succeeded their masters in Bologna, the young artists of the neighbouring state of Modena continued to receive instructions [Pg 61]from them, being highly esteemed in the court of Este. At that period flourished Francesco I., and Alfonso IV., both of whom, according to the history of Malvasia, were greatly attached to the followers of the Caracci; some of these they invited into their service, others they employed in their palaces, and at their public festivals; and from all they were anxious to obtain designs and pictures which they might exhibit in their churches, or in their grand collection of paintings, rendered by their means one of the richest in Europe. Hence the artists who next follow, with the exception of a very few, among whom is Romani of Reggio, will be included in one school. It seems certain that Romani studied in Venice, and there became attached to Paolo, whose style he adopted in the Mysteries of the Rosario; and even more so to Tintoretto, whose rules he usually practised, and very successfully.

Guido Reni was either the master or the prototype of Gio. Batista Pesari; if this artist, who resembles Guido in his Madonna at S. Paolo, imitated him as closely in his other works. But of this we cannot judge, as he flourished only during a short period, and part of that time in Venice, where he died before enjoying any degree of fame. Guido himself undoubtedly bestowed his instructions on Luca da Reggio, and on Bernardo Cervi da Modena. Luca I have mentioned in the preceding book. The second according to the judgment of Guido, was possessed of distinguished [Pg 62]talents for design; and though meeting with a premature fate in the pestilence of 1630, he left behind him works in the cathedral, and other churches, not inferior, perhaps, to those of Luca. From the same school sprung Giovanni Boulanger, of Troyes, painter to the court of Modena, and master in that city. We find, in the ducal palace, various specimens of his pencil truly delicate, though his want of good grounds in many pictures, occasionally casts some reflection upon his merit. He is happy in his inventions, warm and harmonious in his colours, spirited in his attitudes, but not without some touch of excessive enthusiasm. The sacrifice of Iphigenia, if a genuine production, is sufficient to establish his character; although the figure of Agamemnon may appear veiled in a capricious style, scarcely adapted to an heroic subject. Two of his best imitators and disciples are Tommaso Costa, of Sassuolo, and Sigismondo Caula, of Modena; the first of whom succeeded as a powerful colourist, of very general talent, and was eagerly employed by the neighbouring courts and cities in perspective, in landscape, and in figures. Reggio, where he usually resided, retains many of his productions: Modena has several, and in particular the cupola of S. Vincenzo bears proud testimony to his merit. Caula left his native place, only in order to improve his knowledge in Venice. Thence he returned with the acquisition of a copious and richly coloured style, as Orlandi very justly remarks, in regard to his [Pg 63]great picture of the Plague, at S. Carlo. He subsequently changed his tints, which became more languid, and in such taste are most of the pictures he produced for the ornament of altars and cabinets.

Many artists of Reggio were initiated in the art by Lionello Spada, and by Desani, his pupil, and assistant in the numerous labours he executed at that place. Among these are Sebastiano Vercellesi, Pietro Martire Armani, and in particular Orazio Talami, who, not content, like the rest, to remain in his native place, traversed Italy, studied with unwearied care the models of the Caracci, and succeeded so well in his figures, that he might be mistaken for one of their scholars. While at Rome, which he twice visited, he devoted himself much to perspective, and very scrupulously observes its rules in the noble and extensive representations of architectural objects, which he introduced into his compositions. In all respects his style is inclined rather to solidity than to amenity. His native place boasts many of his labours, and more especially two large pictures abounding in figures, preserved in the presbytery of the cathedral. Jacopo Baccarini was an imitator of his style, two of whose pictures have been engraved by Buonvicini; a Riposo di Egitto, and a S. Alessio Morto, both of which are to be seen at S. Filippo. This artist's manner displays much judgment, accompanied with a good deal of grace. Mattia Benedetti, a priest of Reggio, commended in the Abbecedario, [Pg 64]was instructed in the art of perspective by Talami himself, and, together with his brother Lodovico, occupies an honourable place in this class. Paolo Emilio Besenzi, a particular imitator of Albano, either from natural taste or education, differs a good deal in the former from Lionello. Reggio retains many pieces, especially at S. Pietro, highly creditable to this artist's talents; besides statues and buildings in very good taste; as he succeeded in uniting, like some of the best among the ancients, the various qualities of the three sister arts.

Guercino, likewise, presented the state with an excellent scholar in Antonio Triva di Reggio. He distinguished himself in various cities of Italy, and even in Venice, whither he conducted his sister Flamminia, who possessed a genius for the art. Here they both employed themselves in several public works, which acquired for them the commendation of Boschini. Occasionally he adheres so faithfully to his master, as in the Orto at Piacenza, as not even to yield to Cesare Gennari. In other pieces he is more free; though still his manner retains strong traces of his school, really beautiful, as it is pronounced by Zanetti, and, if I mistake not, full of truth. He finally visited the court of Bavaria, where he was employed until the period of his death.

To Guercino, also, we must refer another imitator[d] of his style, in Lodovico Lana. He was instructed, however, by Scarsellini, and from that circumstance, has been enumerated by some among [Pg 65]the artists of Ferrara. But Lana, most likely, was born in the state of Modena, in whose city he resided and held his school. His reputation there is great, as well on account of many very beautiful pieces, as more particularly for that in the Chiesa del Voto, in which he represented Modena freed from the scourge of the plague. It is generally agreed that he never produced a finer specimen of his art, and there are few, at this time, in those churches, that can be said to rival it in point of composition, in force of colouring, harmony, and a certain novelty and abundance of images, that produce surprise in the spectator. Lana is one of the freest among the imitators of Guercino; his touch is the same, though less strong, and in taste they exactly coincide. In his motions he has something of Tintoretto, or more properly of Scarsellini; but in his colours, and the expressions of his countenances, he preserves an originality of character. Pesari and he were rivals, as were the masters whom they respectively followed, on account of their contrast of style. Pesari, however, seemed to yield, as he transferred his talents to Venice, while his competitor became the director of an academy in Modena, which supported by his credit, then became celebrated throughout Italy. The name of Lana continues to maintain its ground in Bologna, and other adjacent places, while it is not unknown in lower Italy. The chief part of his specimens to be met with in collections, consist of heads of aged men, full of dignity, and touched [Pg 66]with a certain boldness of hand, which declares the master.

Those who flourished after him, belonging to the city of Modena and the state, were for the most part educated elsewhere. Bonaventura Lamberti, of Carpi, as I have observed in the Roman School, was instructed by Cignani; and there he had a noble theatre for the display of his powers. At the same period flourished Francesco Stringa, in Modena, where he painted a good deal in a style, if I mistake not, that approached, or seemed rather ambitious of approaching, that of Lana, and Guercino himself. By some, he is supposed to have been a pupil of the first; by others, of the second of these artists; but it is known only with certainty, that he formed himself upon their model, and that of other excellent masters, whose works, during his superintendance of the great Este Gallery, he might consult at his pleasure. Endowed with a rich imagination, spirited and rapid in execution, he produced much, which was greatly commended, both in the cathedral and in the churches. His distinguishing characteristic is the depth of his shades, the somewhat disproportioned length of his figures, and an inclination to the capricious in his actions and composition. When in advanced years he began to deteriorate in style, a case common to most artists.

He was the first master of Jacopo Zoboli, who, proceeding from Modena into Bologna, and thence to Rome, settled there, and died in 1761, with the [Pg 67]reputation of a good artist. This he in a high degree acquired by his labours in the church of S. Eustachio, where he is distinguished amongst the more modern productions by his S. Girolamo, displaying singular diligence, polish, and harmony of colours, by no means general in those times. The Primaziale of Pisa also boasted a grand picture by his hand, representing S. Matteo, in the act of dedicating a young princess to a holy life, by the imposition of the sacred veil. Two other artists of Modena, Francesco Vellani and Antonio Consetti, who died near the same time, not very long ago, were instructed in the art by Stringa and his school. Both are in a taste much resembling that of the Bolognese of their own age. The former however, is not so accurate in point of design as the latter, a strict and commendable master in that art. It is true, he has a crudeness of colours, not very pleasing to the eye; no new circumstance in an artist educated in the school of Creti. Both Modena and the state are in possession of many of their pieces.

Still more modern artists have supported with honour the reputation of such predecessors; but I could not here, without deviating from my original system, venture to mention them. The place will invariably serve to forward instruction; a collection of designs and paintings being now exhibited in the ducal gallery, which does honour to Italy, no less than to the noble taste of the family of Este that established it. Nor has it omitted, [Pg 68]from time to time, to provide for young artists the assistance of the academy, which continued to flourish there, from the times of Lana, often closed, and afterwards re-opened, until beyond the age of Consetti. But it proved too difficult an attempt, to support another academy so near that of Bologna, so widely distinguished and attended.[9]

The same celebrated state, so fruitful in every kind of merit, produced also able professors in other branches of the art. Lodovico Bertucci, of Modena, was a painter of capricci, which were at that period much admired and admitted even into palaces; and perhaps there are many of his specimens still preserved there, but known under other names. A Pellegrino Ascani, of Carpi, was an admirable flower-painter, and was succeeded, after a long interval, by Felice Rubbiani. This last was a scholar of Bettini, the companion of his travels, and the imitator of his taste. He was a favourite at court, in the cities, and the vicinity; and had commissions bestowed upon him to the number of thirty-six pictures, by the Marchesi Riva, of Mantua, all of which he varied in the most astonishing manner. There was, moreover, a Matteo Coloretti, from Reggio, excellent in portraits, and a lady of the name of Margherita Gabassi, who succeeded admirably in humourous pieces. Nor [Pg 69]ought we to omit the name of Paolo Gibertoni, of Modena, who settled at Lucca, and for this reason less known in his native place. His grotesques in fresco boast no ordinary merit; and these he varied with every species of strange animals, executed with great spirit. He was likewise very pleasing in his landscapes, which rose in value after his death, and are still much esteemed.

Most part of the artists of the Modenese state distinguished themselves in ornamental work and in architecture; such as Girolamo Comi, whose fine perspectives deserved to have been accompanied with superior figures; and Gio. Batista Modonino, called by mistake Madonnino in the Dictionary of Artists, who acquired a high reputation in Rome, and probably left several frescos in the Palazzo Spada. He died of the plague, in Naples, 1656. Antonio Ioli met with a better fate there, about the same period; having acquired the theory of architecture, he passed into Rome, and, entering the school of Pannini, he became one of the most celebrated painters in architecture and ornamental work, known to the present century. Applauded in the theatres of Spain, England, and Germany, all of which he adorned, he afterwards went to Naples, and became painter to Carlo III., and to his successor. Giuseppe Dallamano, a weak man, and, as it is said, unacquainted with his alphabet, was ignorant even of the common principles of the art; though by an extraordinary sort of talent, and especially in colouring, he attained a degree [Pg 70]of excellence truly surprising, even to the learned; by which he continued to live, employing himself in the service of the royal family at Turin. His pupil Fassetti was, likewise, an extraordinary character; applying himself, at the age of twenty-eight, to the grinding of colours, he soon began to imitate his master; and ultimately, with the assistance of Francesco Bibiena, he became one of the most skilful among the theatrical painters of Lombardy. He came from Reggio, as well as his contemporary Zinani, and the younger Spaggiasi, both educated in the school of Bibiena; although of the father of Spaggiasi, who died in the service of the king of Poland, the master's name remains unknown. To these we might add the name of Bartoli, Zannichelli, Bazzani, and of others, either yet flourishing or deceased; names by which the cavalier Tiraboschi is justified in observing, that "Reggio had the honour of having at all times produced excellent theatrical painters."

Carpi enjoys a different kind of honour, though as great in its way. For there were first commenced the works termed a scagliola, or a mischia, of mixed workmanship, the first inventor of which was Guido Fassi, or del Conte.[10] The stone, [Pg 71]called selenite, forms the first ingredient in it. It is pounded and mixed with colours, and by the application of a certain glue, the composition becomes as hard as stone, forming a kind of marble, capable, with further care, of taking a gradual polish. The first trial was made upon cornices, which thus assume the appearance of fine marbles; and there remain also in Carpi, of the same composition, two altars by the hand of Guido himself. His fellow citizens began to avail themselves of this discovery; some adding one thing to it, and some another. Annibal Griffoni, a pupil of Guido, applied it to monuments, and even ventured upon the composition of pictures, intended to represent engravings upon copper, as well as pictures in oil; an attempt not very successful, insomuch that the specimens by his son Gaspero are not valued beyond a few tabernacles, and things in a similar taste. Giovanni Gavignani afforded assistance first to Guido, and next to Griffoni, surpassing both in a skilful application of the art. Thus, the altar of S. Antonio, in the church of S. Niccolo, at Carpi, is still pointed out as something extraordinary, consisting of two columns of porphyry, and adorned with a pallium embroidered with lace; an exact imitation of the covers of the altar, while it is ornamented in the margin with medals, bearing beautiful figures. Nor is the monument from the hand of one Ferrari in the cathedral, less perfect in its kind; where the marbles are so admirably [Pg 72]counterfeited, that several tourists of the best taste have been induced to break a small portion, to convince themselves of the fact. There are, also, pictures preserved in private houses thus drawn by Gavignani; one of which consists of the Rape of Proserpine, executed with much elegance, in possession of Signor Cabassi.

Leoni, who resided in Cremona, was a disciple of the Griffoni, and the artificer of two very beautiful desks, preserved in the Ducal Museum at Modena, as well as Paltronieri and Mazzelli, who introduced the art into Romagna, where it still continues to flourish. We there meet with altars, that equally deceive the eye by their colour, and the touch by the freshness of the marble. But the most celebrated pupil of the Griffoni was a priest called Gio. Massa, who, together with Gio. Pozzuoli, produced wonderful specimens of the art in his native place, in the adjacent cities, in Guastalla, Novellara, and elsewhere. The priest proved equally successful in drawing distant views, gardens, and in particular architecture, besides adorning with it tablets, and coverings of altars, in such a manner as to reach the very perfection of the art. The most dignified objects possessed by Rome were those which he most delighted in for his views; such as the fašade of the temple of the Vatican, its colonnade, and its piazza. It appears the Duke of Guastalla took singular pleasure in similar works; and at his desire were prepared those two little tables, in the possession of Signor [Pg 73]Alberto Pio, cited by Tiraboschi, and which were, perhaps, the masterpieces of Massa. No objects appeared to me more remarkable than such works abounding almost in every church throughout those parts; and it would be very desirable that the plan of representing architectural views, by this process, should become more frequent. Massa also included figures, the honour of perfecting which has fallen upon Florence; a subject I have treated in my first volume, (p. 346). I shall merely notice here, that after the practice of modelling had been brought to vie with sculpture; and after engraving upon wood had so well counterfeited works of design, we have to record this third invention, belonging to a state of no great dimensions. Such a fact is calculated to bring into still higher estimation the geniuses who adorned it. There is nothing of which man is more ambitious, than of being called the inventor of new arts: nothing is more flattering to his intellect, or draws a broader line between him and the animals that are incapable of such inventions, or of carrying them beyond the limits prescribed by instinct. In short, nothing was held in higher reverence among the ancients; and hence it is, that Virgil, in his Elysian fields, represented the band of inventors with their brows crowned with white chaplets, equally distinct in merit as in rank, from the more vulgar shades around them.

[9] The latest attempt to restore it was made in 1786, when it continued to flourish with some credit, during ten years. In the close of the year 1796 it assumed the name of school, as I before remarked, directed by a master in the art of designing figures, together with an assistant.

[10] In the Novelle Letterarie of Florence, 1771, it is asserted that this art was introduced about two ages back into Tuscany, giving rise to imitations of marbles, besides some fancy pieces. I have diligently sought after specimens thus antique, both at Florence and at Vallombrosa, where this art was in great vogue; but what I have seen are very trivial in their character, nor do they appear of so ancient a date.

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The Ancients.

Next in order to the school of Modena, I rank that of Parma and its state; and I should very gladly have united them together, as other writers have done, if in addition to the distinction of dominions there did not also exist an evident distinction in point of taste. For it appears to me, as I have before had occasion to observe, that in the former of these cities the imitation of Raffaello prevailed; in the second that of Coreggio. This last indeed is the founder of the School of Parma, which preserved a series of disciples for several generations, so strongly attached to his examples as to bestow no attention upon any other model. The situation in which he found the city on his first arrival, is apparent from the ancient figures scattered throughout, which by no means discover a progress in the art of painting equal to that of many other cities in Italy. Not that this arose from any want of acquaintance with the arts of design; for there flourished there as early as the 12th century an artist named Benedetto Antelani, of whom a basso-relievo, representing the Crucifixion [Pg 75]of our Lord, is in the cathedral, which, though the production of a rude age, had nothing in sculpture equal to it that I have been able to meet with, until the period of Giovanni Pisano. Respecting the art of painting, the celebrated Father Aff˛ has extracted very interesting notices from published documents and MSS., in order to shew, that before 1233, both figures and historical pieces had been painted in Parma.[11] Upon the completion of the baptismal font, about 1260, that assemblage of paintings was there executed, which may now be regarded as one of the finest remaining monuments of the ancient manner that upper Italy has to boast. The subjects are in the usual taste of those times; the style is less angular and rectilinear than that of the Greek mosaicists;[e] and displays some originality in the draperies, in the ornamental parts, and in the composition. Above all, it shews very skilful mechanism in regard to gilding and colouring, which, notwithstanding the distance of five centuries, retain much of their original strength.

Down from that period there appear in several places, both at Piacenza and Parma, further specimens of the Trecentisti, sometimes with annexed [Pg 76]dates, and sometimes without any. Such as belong to Piacenza, are in the church and cloister of the Predicatori; but the best preserved of all is an altar-piece at San Antonio Martire, with histories of the titular saint in small figures, tolerably well drawn, and in costume which seems to have been borrowed, as it were, from some municipal usages peculiar to the place. Parma, likewise, possesses some of the same date, besides a few others remaining at San Francesco, in a somewhat more polished style, attributed to Bartolommeo Grossi, or to Jacopo Loschi, his son-in-law, both of whom were employed there in 1462. Subsequent to these flourished Lodovico da Parma, a pupil of Francia, whose Madonnas, executed in his master's manner, are easily recognized in Parma; and a Cristoforo Caselli (not Castelli, as he is termed by Vasari,) or Cristoforo Parmense, enumerated by Ridolfi among the pupils of Gian Bellino. He produced a very beautiful painting for the hall of the Consorziali, bearing the date of 1499; and he is much commended by Grappaldo in his work De partibus Ădium, who next to him ranks Marmitta, of whom there is no authentic specimen remaining. Still his name ought to be recorded, were it for no other reason than his being the supposed master of Parmigianino. Along with these we may mention Alessandro Araldi, one of the scholars of Bellini, of whom there remains a Nunziata, at the Padri del Carmine, with [Pg 77]his name, besides altar-pieces in different churches. He was indisputably a good artist in the mixed manner, that is now called antico moderno. The family of the Mazzuoli was much employed about the same period in Parma, consisting of three brother artists, Michele and Pierilario, falsely supposed to have been the first masters of Coreggio, and Filippo, called dalle Erbette, from succeeding better in fruits and flowers than in figure pieces. There remains an altar-piece of Pierilario in the Sacristy of Santa Lucia, executed in a method very superior to that of the "Baptism of Christ," painted for the baptismal font by his brother Filippo. But, however inferior to his other brothers in this line himself, Filippo may be pronounced at least more fortunate in his posterity, being the father of Parmigianino, whom we have so lately had occasion to commend.

Yet the two most excellent of the Mazzuoli could not, any more than their contemporaries, have been considered artists upon a great scale, when the Padri Cassinensi, instead of availing themselves of their services to decorate the tribune and cupola of their magnificent temple, dedicated to St. John, preferred inviting Antonio Allegri da Coreggio, a foreigner and a youth, to undertake the immense task; a choice which may be said to have conferred a lasting obligation upon posterity. For Coreggio, like Raffaello, stood in need of some extensive undertaking in order to bring his powers [Pg 78]into full play, and to open a new path for labours upon a grand scale, as he had before done in those of a smaller class. But of an artist who forms an era in Italian painting itself, not in this particular school only, it becomes us to treat, as well as of his imitators, in a separate chapter.

[11] The notices of the artists of Parma communicated by him to the public, are in part contained in the Life of Parmigianino, and partly in a humorous little work, entitled Il Parmigiano servitor di Piazza; and some further information on this subject I have myself received from the lips of this learned ecclesiastic.

[Pg 79]



Coreggio, and those who succeeded him in his School.

We are at length arrived at one of those distinguished characters, whom, from his high reputation, and the influence he exercised over the style of painting in Italy, we can by no means dismiss with our accustomed brevity. His name, however, must still be confined within compendious limits, adding whatever new information and reflections we may think best adapted for the illustration of such a subject; the life of Coreggio being involved in so much obscurity, as to admit, beyond that of any other artist, of fresh discussion. The more curious may consult the notices of him by the Cavalier Mengs, contained in his second volume, a little work by Cavalier Ratti, upon the life and works of Allegri, published in Finale in 1781, and Tiraboschi in his Notices of the professors of Modena, besides Padre Aff˛, in his works already cited, the most accurate, perhaps, of any in point of chronology.

The whole of these writers, following the example of Scannelli and Orlandi, have complained of Vasari for having falsely asserted the abject condition [Pg 80]of Antonio,[12] sprung, in fact, from a tolerably good family in an illustrious city, and not destitute of those conveniences of fortune that might enable him from the first to obtain an education adapted to the success of his future efforts. They have also in particular reproached him with his excessive credulity, in representing him to us as a suffering and unhappy object, burdened with a numerous family, little appreciated and badly rewarded for his labours. On the contrary they observe, we know that he was respected by the great, richly recompensed, and enabled to leave a fair heritage for his family. Now I admit that Vasari is guilty of much exaggeration, though not without some shew of truth; for we only need to compare the commissions and gains of Coreggio with those of Raffaello, of Michelangiolo, of Titian, and even of Vasari himself, to divest us of all surprise at the honest commiseration of the historian. Annibal Caracci did not only compassionate his condition, but is said to have bewailed it with his tears.[13] Besides, [Pg 81]if we reflect that the terms made use of by Vasari, of Coreggio having become si misero, so wretched, that nothing could be worse, do not exactly signify miserabile, miserable, as interpreted by some of his critics, but rather mean, miserly, and sparing, renouncing certain conveniences of life, in order to spend as little as possible, it will alter the complexion of the case. In the same manner he states, or rather as some think, imagines that Antonio, though enabled to travel like others, by water, mounted horse during the summer solstice, and shortly after died. And, indeed, if we consider the singular deprivations to which very wealthy people, for the same reason, will submit, we do not see how a reference to the possessions of the Allegri family, not without some degree of exaggeration, as has more than once been done, can disprove this charge of meanness and extreme parsimony. We trust that the Signor Dottor Antonioli will inform us more distinctly respecting the amount of Antonio's property, though we are inclined to believe it could not have exceeded the limits of mediocrity. The highest salaries received by him have been ascertained. For the cupola and larger nave of the church of San Giovanni, he was [Pg 82]paid four hundred and seventy-two gold ducats, or Venetian zecchins, and for the cupola of the cathedral, three hundred and fifty; doubtless considerable sums, though we should consider he was occupied from the year 1520 until 1530, in the designs and labours requisite for works of such magnitude, and which prevented him from accepting other offers of any account during the interval. He earned forty gold ducats by his celebrated picture of Night; his San Girolamo brought him forty-seven ducats, or zecchins, besides his subsistence during six months he was employed on it; and thus, in equal proportion, we may suppose him to have been recompensed for the time bestowed upon his lesser pieces. The two which he painted for the Duke of Mantua we may reckon at something more; but these were the only ones he produced at the request of sovereigns. Thus much being certain, it is hardly credible, that after deducting the expense of colours, of models, and of assistants, including the maintenance of his family, there should still have remained enough to leave that family in a state of affluence.

But although we admit the reality of his supposed indigence, it can form no reproach, no drawback upon the excellences of so great a man, crowning him rather with additional honour, in particular when we reflect, that with such limited means he was invariably lavish of his colours, to a degree beyond example. There is not a single specimen, whether executed on copper, on panels, [Pg 83]or on canvass, always sufficiently choice, that does not display a profusion of materials, of ultramarine, the finest lake and green, with a strong body, and repeated retouches; yet for the most part laid on without ever removing his hand from the easel before the work was completed. In short he spared neither time nor expense, contrary to the custom of all other painters, with very few exceptions. Such liberality, calculated to do honour to a rich amateur, painting for amusement, is infinitely more commendable in an artist of such circumscribed resources. It displays, in my opinion, all the grandeur of character that was supposed to animate the breast of a Spartan. And this we would advance, no less in reply to Vasari, who cast undue reflections upon Coreggio's economy, than as an example for such young artists as may be desirous of nourishing sentiments worthy of the noble profession they embrace.

It is still current in Coreggio that Antonio commenced his first studies under his uncle Lorenzo. Subsequent to which, according to Vedriani, he entered into the school of Francesco Bianchi, called Il Frari, who died in 1510, a school established in Modena. There also it appears he acquired the art of modelling, at that time in great repute; and he thus prepared in clay, along with Begarelli, the group of that PietÓ, in Santa Margherita, where the three most beautiful figures are attributed to Coreggio. In the same highly distinguished city it is most probable that he also laid [Pg 84]the foundation of that learned and cultivated taste so conspicuous in his works; the geometrical skill exhibited in his perspective, the architectural rules of his buildings, and the poetry of his warm and lively conceptions. Thus his historians, judging from the specimens of his early style, assert that he must have sought it in the academy of Andrea Mantegna at Mantua; but the recently discovered fact of Andrea's having died in 1506, does away with such a supposition. It is, nevertheless, extremely probable that he acquired it by studying the works left by Andrea at Mantua, for which I can adduce various arguments. I have described pretty fully the character of Mantegna's picture of Victory, the most extraordinary of all he produced; imitations of this are to be met with in many of the works of Coreggio, but most evidently so in the picture of his St. George at Dresden. The manner in which Coreggio could have imbibed so exquisite a taste, was always considered surprising and unaccountable, prevailing every where, as we find it in his canvass, in his laying on his colours, in the last touches of his pictures; but let us for a moment suppose him a student of Andrea's models, surpassing all others in the same taste as we before observed, and the wonder will be accounted for. Let us moreover consider the grace and vivacity so predominant in the compositions of Coreggio; that rainbow as it were of colours, that accurate care in his foreshortenings, and of those upon ceilings; his abundance of laughing boys and cherubs, [Pg 85]of flowers, fruits, and all delightful objects; and let us then ask ourselves whether his new style does not appear an exquisite completion of that of Mantegna, as the pictures of Raffaello and Titian display the progress and perfection of those of Perugino and Giovanni Bellini.

In regard to his education in the studio of Mantegna, the generally received opinion in Lombardy is, that Vedriani must have been mistaken in a name; and that in place of Andrea, he ought to have pronounced his son Francesco, the master with whom it is maintained Coreggio resided, either in quality of pupil or assistant. Mantegna's school, indeed, had risen into great reputation, having given striking proof of its excellence even in foreshortening from above; besides surpassing Melozio, as I elsewhere observed, so as only to leave another step before reaching the modern manner. This was reserved for the genius of Coreggio, in common with the master spirits of every other school, who flourished during the same period. In truth from his very first attempts, he appears to have aimed at a softer and fuller style than Mantegna's; and several, among whom is the Abate Bettinelli, have pointed out some such specimens in Mantua. Signor Volta, member of the Royal Academy there, assured me that Coreggio is named in the books of the Opera di S. Andrea, for which reason, several of the figures on the outside of the church, and in particular a Madonna, better preserved than the rest, a youthful essay, but from [Pg 86]the hand of one freed from the stiffness of the quattrocentisti, have been attributed to him.[14] In Mantua likewise I saw a little picture in possession of the Abate Bettinelli, about to be engraved, representing a Holy Family, in which, if we except a degree of stiffness in the folds, the modern manner is complete. A few other of Coreggio's Madonnas, to be referred to this period, are to be seen in the ducal gallery at Modena, with other works mentioned in various places. Among these is a picture of our Lord, taking farewell of the Virgin mother, previous to his passion, a piece recognized as a genuine Coreggio by the Abate Carlo Bianconi at Milan.[15] Doubtless many of his other early productions were of an inferior description, and are dispersed abroad, either unknown, or disputed, Vasari having recorded of him that he completed many pictures and works.

Wherefore is it then that in the published catalogues we meet with so very scanty a list of his pictures, nearly all esteemed excellent? It is because whatever does not appear superlatively beautiful [Pg 87]has been doubted, denied, and cast aside as unworthy of him, or attributed to some of his school. Mengs himself, who investigated the relics of this great artist, and was very cautious of admitting any disputed productions, declares that he had only seen one specimen of his early style, that of his S. Antony, in the gallery of Dresden. This, as well as a S. Francis and the Virgin, he painted in 1512, in Carpi, when he was eighteen years of age.[16] From the stiffness apparent in this last, and the contrasted softness of the others, he was led to conjecture that Coreggio must have suddenly altered his manner, and attempted to penetrate into the unknown cause of it. He suspected, therefore, that what de Piles, followed by Resta, and some other writers, first advanced in his Dissertations, against the authority of Vasari, must be correct,[17] namely, that Coreggio visited Rome, and having observed the ancient style, and that of Raffaello and Michelangiolo, along with Melozio's pictures in the sotto in su, or foreshortening, he returned into Lombardy with a different taste acquired during his stay in the capital.

Yet this able scholar proposes such a view of the case, with singular deference to the contrary opinion of others, and even presents his reader with arguments against that view, to the following effect:—"If [Pg 88]he did not behold the antique," (and the same may be averred of the two distinguished moderns,) "such as it exists in Rome, he may still have seen it as it appears at Modena and Parma; and the mere sight of an object is enough to awaken in fine spirits the idea of what it ought to be." And my readers, indeed, will be at no loss to find examples to confirm such an opinion; Titian and Tintoretto, by the mere use of modelling, having far surpassed those who designed statues; and Baroccio happening to cast his eye upon a head of Coreggio, soon distinguished himself in the same style. And if we may farther adduce an example of the power of sovereign genius, from the sciences, let us look at Galileo watching the oscillations of a bell in a church at Pisa, from which he drew the doctrine of motion and the principles of the new philosophy. So likewise might this great pictorial genius conceive the idea of a new style, from a few faint attempts of art, and thus won the applauses of the world of art, bestowed upon him from the time of Vasari, as something due less to a mortal than to a god. Doubtless in the first instance he received no slight impulse from the finer works of Andrea, from the collection of ancient relics in Mantua and Parma, from the studio of the Mantegni, and that of Begarelli, equally rich in models and designs. To these we may add an acquaintance with artists, familiar with Rome, with Munari, with Giulio Romano himself; and finally the general influence of the age, every where dissatisfied with the [Pg 89]meanness of the late style, and aiming at a more soft, full, and clear development[f] of the contours. All these united in facilitating the progressive step which Coreggio had to take, though his own genius was destined to achieve the task. This it was that first led him to study nature, with the eye of the ancient Greeks, and that of his great Italian predecessors. The leading geniuses of their age have often pursued the same career, unknown to each other, as Tully has expressed himself, "Et quÔdam ingenii divinitate, in eadem vestigia incurrerunt." But we must here check ourselves, in regard to this portion of the subject, having to treat of it anew at the distance of not many pages. At present we have only to inquire whether Coreggio really adopted the modern style at once, as has been asserted, or by gradual study.

Upon this point it is much to be regretted, that the Cavalier Mengs did not obtain a sight of some paintings in fresco, executed by Coreggio, as it is said, in his early youth, during the period he was employed by the Marchesa Gambara; but which have now perished. For, doubtless, he would thus have been enabled to throw much light upon the subject; and at least I could have wished that he had met with two pictures produced by Antonio in his native place, though but recently discovered, as in these, perhaps, he might have detected that sort of middle style, which is seen to exist between his St. Antony and his St. George at Dresden. The first of these has been called in question [Pg 90]by Tiraboschi, on the ground of there being no authentic document assigning it to Coreggio; though I think it ought to be admitted as his, until stronger arguments, or the authority of experienced professors of the art, compel us to deny it. This picture was formerly placed in the chapel of La Misericordia, and very old copies of it are still preserved in many private houses at Coreggio. It represents a beautiful landscape, together with four figures of saints, St. Peter, St. Margherita, the Magdalen, and another, most likely St. Raimond, yet unborn.[18] The figure of St. Peter bears some resemblance to one of Mantegna, in his Ascension of St. Andrew, just alluded to; while the wood and the ground are extremely like that master's composition. This fine piece was much damaged by the lights, or, as some suspect, by the varnish, purposely laid on, in order, by decreasing its value, to prevent its being carried away; but, on the contrary, it appears for this very reason to have been removed from the altar, and a copy substituted, in which the last of the above figures was exchanged for one of St. Ursula. The original afterwards came into the possession of Signor Antonio Armanno, [Pg 91]one of the best connoisseurs at this time known, in respect to the value of engravings, as well as of other productions of our best artists, which he has likewise, in a singular degree, the art of restoring even when much defaced. So in this instance, by the most persevering care, during a whole year, he at length succeeded in removing this ugly veil, which concealed the beauty of the work, now renewed in all its pristine excellence, and attracting crowds of accomplished strangers to gaze upon its merits. It is generally allowed to exhibit a softer expression, in the modern style, than the St. Antony, of Dresden; though yet far distant from the perfection of the St. George and others, produced about the same time.

About this period, Allegri painted in the church of the Conventuals, at Coreggio, what is termed an ancona, a small altar-piece in wood, consisting of three pictures. It appears certain, that the two altar-pieces already mentioned, opened the way also to this fresh commission; for from the written agreement, he seems to have been in his twentieth year, and the price fixed upon was one hundred gold ducats, or one hundred zecchins, which proves the esteem in which his talents were held. He here represented St. Bartholomew and St. John, each occupying one side;[19] while in the middle department, [Pg 92]he drew a Repose of the Holy Family flying into Egypt, to which last was added a figure of St. Francis. So greatly was Francesco I. Duke of Modena, delighted with this picture, that he sent the artist Boulanger with orders to copy it for him; and thus obtaining possession of the original, he dexterously contrived to substitute his own copy in its place, a deception which he afterwards repaired by presenting the convent with some fresh lands. It is believed that it was afterwards presented to the Medicean family, and by them was given in exchange, to the house of Este, for the Sacrifice of Abraham, from the hand of Andrea del Sarto. It is certain that it was to be seen in the royal gallery at Florence, from the end of the last century, and was there commended by Barri, in his Viaggio Pittoresco, as original. In progress of time, it began to be less esteemed, because less perfect, perhaps, than some of the masterpieces of Coreggio, and not long after, assuming another name, it began to be pointed out by some as a Baroccio, and by others as a Vanni. The same Signor Armanno, before mentioned, who was the first to recall[g] to mind the copy remaining at Coreggio, presented us, also, with this hidden treasure. Its originality, however, was disputed from the first, it [Pg 93]being objected, in particular, that Allegri had depicted the subject upon board, whereas this Medicean painting was found to be upon canvass. But this doubt was removed on comparing the work with the copy of Boulanger, made upon canvass; for certainly if the genuine production were really painted upon board, the imitator could hardly have succeeded in palming upon the holy brethren one of his copies upon canvass. The probability of its genuineness is still greater when we reflect, that no gallery was ever in possession of a Repose similar to it, so as to have contested with the city of Florence the possession of the original; so frequent an occurrence, both now and in other times, with works of art repeated in different places. Besides, the hand of the master is, in itself, nearly enough to pronounce it genuine; we see the remains of a varnish peculiar to the author; a tone of colouring perfectly agreeing with his pictures at Parma; insomuch, that many very experienced judges of art, and among others Gavin Hamilton, whose opinion carries great weight, have united in giving it to Coreggio. At the same time, they admit, that it is a piece partaking of an union of his styles, during the progress of the second; and if we are careful in comparing it with his other representation of the Repose, at S. Sepolcro, in Parma, commonly entitled the Madonna della Scodella, we shall discover much the same difference as between Raffaello's paintings in CittÓ di Castello and those at Rome. Such a distinction was noticed by some [Pg 94]very respectable professors, even during the heat of the controversy, who agreed in declaring, that the Medicean picture in part resembled Coreggio in his best manner, and in part differed from it.

There are two other pictures of his, mentioned by the Cavalier Mengs, which may be referred to the same class. One of them is the "Noli me tangere," in the Casa Ercolani, but which subsequently passed into the Escurial; the other a picture of the Virgin in the act of adoring the Divine Infant, which adorns the royal gallery in Florence; both of which he declares are in a taste which he failed to discover in the most sublime and celebrated pictures of Coreggio. To these we may add the Marsyas of the Marchesi Litta, at Milan, with a few other works of Coreggio's, inserted in the catalogue of Tiraboschi, which is the most copious extant. From such evidence it must, in short, be admitted, that this artist was possessed of a sort of middle style, between that which he formed as a scholar and that which he completed as a master. And we have equal reason for believing what has been stated respecting Coreggio's having attempted a variety of styles, before he made choice of the one by which he so greatly distinguished himself, and thus laid the foundation for his pieces being attributed, as they have been, to different masters. In fact, his conceptions of the beautiful and the perfect were deduced in part from other artists, and in part created by himself; conceptions that could not be matured without much time and labour; [Pg 95]on which account he was compelled, as it were, to imitate those natural philosophers who try an infinite number of different experiments to discover some single truth which they have in view.

During a progress thus gradually pursued, and by an artist who in every new production succeeded in surpassing himself, it is difficult to fix the precise epoch of his new style. I once saw in Rome a very beautiful little picture, representing, in the background, the taking of Christ in the garden; and in the fore part, the youth Joseph, who, in the act of flying, leaves his mantle behind him; the original of which is in England, and a duplicate at Milan, in possession of Count de Keweniller; the picture at Rome bore in ancient character the date of 1505, indisputably false. A more correct one, however, is to be found upon that of the Marriage of St. Catherine, in possession of Count Brull, late prime minister to the king of Poland, which is every way corresponding to the other, remaining at Capo di Monte; it bears the date of 1517. It is probable, that in this year, when the artist was just twenty-three, he had already sufficiently mastered his new style, from the fact of his having about 1518, or 19, produced in Parma the picture which is still in existence at the monastery of St. Paul. This, after various disputes, has recently been acknowledged to be "one of the most grand, spirited, and laboured productions that ever proceeded from that divine hand;" [Pg 96]and it has been illustrated with its real epoch, from an excellent little work of the celebrated Padre Aff˛. Such a work, indeed, confers a benefit upon history. He there explains the manner in which Coreggio might have imitated the ancients with such advantages only as he found in Parma; and endeavours to account for the difficulty presented to us in the silence of Mengs, who, having beheld this very picture, omitted to mention it among Antonio's other works. We are relieved, also, from another difficulty in respect to the manner in which a piece representing the Chase of Diana, abounding with such a variety of loves and cupids, could have been painted for a holy monastery, accompanied by those profane representations distributed throughout the same chamber, in various circular pieces, such as the Graces, the Fates, the Vestals; a naked Juno, suspended from the heavens, in the method described by Homer, in his fifteenth book of the Iliad; with other similar objects, still less becoming the sphere of a cloister. But our wonder will cease when we reflect, that the same place was once the residence of a lady abbess, at a time in which the nuns of S. Paolo lived unguarded by grates; in which every abbess sought to enjoy herself; held jurisdiction over lands and castles, and, independent of the bishop, lived altogether as a secular personage, a license in those days extremely general, as is justly observed by Muratori, in his "Italian Antiquities," tom. iii. p. 332. The above work was a commission [Pg 97]given by a Donna Giovanna di Piacenza, who was then the superior of the monastery; and whatever degree of learning we meet with in the painting, and in the devices or conceits, was, most probably, communicated to the artist by Giorgio Anselmi, a celebrated scholar, whose own daughter belonged to the same establishment. But we must not allow ourselves to proceed further in our notice of a dissertation, assuredly one of the most profound and ingenious that we ever recollect to have read. The pictures are about to be engraved by the hand of Signor Rosaspina, after those of S. Giovanni, in which the learned Abate Mazza is at present so laudably engaged, no less to the advantage of the arts than of his own reputation.

The vast undertaking, so finely executed by Coreggio, at S. Paolo, obtained for him so high a name, that the Padri Cassinensi invited him to engage in the equally extensive one of San Giovanni, entered upon in 1520,[20] and completed in 1524, as we find mentioned in the books. There, also, in addition to several minor works, he decorated the tribune, which being afterwards removed, in order to extend the choir, and rebuilt, was repainted, as we [Pg 98]shall notice elsewhere, by Aretusi. On the demolition of the tribune, the picture of the Incoronation of the Virgin, the leading subject in the fresco, was saved, and is now exhibited in the royal library; and various heads of angels, which in like manner escaped the same destruction, are preserved in the Palazzo Rondanini at Rome. There are, now, in the church of San Giovanni, two pictures in oil, placed opposite to one another, in one of the chapels; one, a Christ taken from the Cross; the other, the Martyrdom of St. Placidus, both painted on canvass made for the purpose, like some of the pictures of Mantegna. On the exterior of one of the other chapels is a figure of St. John the Evangelist, executed in the noblest manner. And, finally, there is the grand cupola, where the artist represented the Ascension of Jesus to his Father; the apostles looking on in mingled veneration and surprise; a production in which, whether we regard the proportion, and the shortening of the figures, the naked parts, or the draperies, or gaze upon it as a whole, we must alike confess that it was an unexampled specimen of the art, in its kind; the terrific Judgment of Michelangiolo,[21] not having then assumed its place in the Vatican.

[Pg 99]Astonishing, however, as such a production must be allowed to be, it will still be found to yield the palm to another, which the hand of Coreggio alone could have rendered superior. This is the celebrated Assumption of the Virgin, in the cathedral of Parma, completed in the year 1530. It is indisputably more ample; and in the background the figures of the same apostles are reproduced, as was customary, expressing feelings of surprise and piety, though in a manner altogether different from the former. In the upper part is represented an immense crowd of happy spirits, yet distributed in the finest order, with a number of angels of all dimensions, all full of action; some employed in assisting the flight of the Virgin, others singing and dancing, and the rest engaged in celebrating the triumph with applause, songs, torches, and the burning of celestial perfumes. In all, the countenances beam with mingled beauty, [Pg 100]hilarity, and triumph; a halo of light seems to envelope the whole, so that notwithstanding the piece is much defaced, it is still calculated to awaken such an enchantment of the soul, that the spectator almost dreams he is in elysium. These magnificent works, as it has been observed of the chambers of Raffaello, were calculated to promote the dignity of his manner, and led the way to that height of perfection he attained in the difficult art of working in fresco. To estimate it aright, we ought to approach near, to mark the decision and audacity as it were of every stroke; the parts, that at a distance appear so beautiful, yet effected by few lines; and that colouring, and that harmony which unites so many objects in one, produced, as it were, in sportful play. The renowned artist survived only four years, subsequent to the completion of the cupola; without commencing, during the interval, the painting of the tribune, for which he had pledged himself, and received part of the remuneration, which was afterwards restored to the revenues of the cathedral by his heirs. It has been conjectured, that the conductors of the works must, in some way, have given him offence; since the artist Soiaro, on being invited to paint at the Steccata, objects to it in the following terms: "Not wishing to remain at the discretion of so many different heads; for you know," he continues to his friend, "what was said to Coreggio in the dome." Now this, it would appear, must have consisted of some expressions derogatory to his talents; probably [Pg 101]some words which one of the artificers is said to have applied to the diminutiveness of his figures: "Ci avete fatto un guazzetto di rane." "You have presented us with a hash of frogs." Words from a workman, for which Coreggio might easily have consoled himself, as they did not express the opinion of the city of Parma.

He died, however, about four years afterwards, at his native place, before he had completed his undertaking; and without leaving any portrait of himself which can be considered genuine. Vasari's editor, at Rome, produces one of a bald old man, little agreeable to our ideas of Coreggio, who died at the age of forty. It is taken from a collection of designs by the Padre Resta, which he entitled, the "Portable Gallery," and which both the Cavalier Tiraboschi and the Padre della Valle mentioned as having been lost. Nevertheless it exists in the Ambrosian collection, and contains, among other designs, one which Resta, in the notes added thereto, declares to be the family of Coreggio, consisting of the portrait of himself, his wife, and his sons; altogether forming one female and three male heads, poor, and wretchedly attired. But it betrays evident marks of its want of genuineness, and not the least in the description of the family; inasmuch as Antonio is known to have had one son and three daughters, two of whom appear to have died at an early age. The portrait remaining at Turin, in the Vigna della Regina, engraved by the very able Valperga, bears an inscription, [Pg 102]in part obliterated by the cornice. Still I contrived to decypher the words, Antonius Corrigius, f—(that is, fecit), one of the first arguments for not admitting it, as some have done, to be a head of Coreggio. A further one may be derived from the inscription itself being written in large letters, and in a space occupying the whole length of the canvass, a method occasionally adopted to explain the subject of the piece, but never the name of the artist. There was another portrait sent from Genoa into England, with an inscription upon the back, indicating it to be that of Antonio da Coreggio, drawn by Dosso Dossi, which is to be found in the memoirs of Ratti. I have no sort of ground for asserting such a signature to have been introduced several years subsequent; a plan which was, and still is frequently adopted, by an accurate imitation of the ancient characters; I would merely observe, that there was also a distinguished painter in miniature, of the name of M. Antonio da Coreggio, who traversed Italy about the time of Dosso, and whose merits I shall treat of hereafter. Of the portrait taken of Coreggio, by Gambara, in the cathedral of Parma, it would here be improper to speak, otherwise than as an idle popular rumour. In conclusion, therefore, I am inclined to admit the seeming truth of what is advanced by Vasari, that this noble artist entertained no idea of transmitting his likeness to posterity, not justly estimating his own excellence, but adding to his numerous other accomplishments that of a remarkable [Pg 103]modesty, conferring real honour upon our history.

The latest and most perfect style of Coreggio has been minutely analysed by the Cavalier Mengs, in the same manner as he examined that of Raffaello and of Titian. And in this famous triumvirate he accorded to him the second rank, after Raffaello, observing, that this last depicted more exquisitely the affections of the soul, though inferior to him in the expression of external forms. In this, indeed, Coreggio was a true master, having succeeded by his colouring, and yet more by his chiaroscuro, in introducing into his pictures an ideal beauty, surpassing that of nature, and at the same time attracting the admiration of the most learned, by an union of art and nature in its rarest forms, such as they never before beheld. And such admiration, and such applauses, were in particular bestowed upon his St. Jerome, preserved in the academy at Parma. Algarotti declares, that he was inclined to prefer it to any other of his productions; and to exclaim in his heart: "Tu solo mi piaci!" "Thou alone pleasest me!" Annibal Caracci himself, upon first beholding this picture, as well as a few others from the same hand, declares, in the letter already cited to his brother Lodovico, that he would not even exchange them with the St. Cecilia of Raffaello, which is still to be seen in the city of Bologna. And it may be truly said, that the same art that had been carried to such a pitch of sublimity by Michelangiolo; [Pg 104]to such an exquisite degree of natural grace and expression by Raffaello; and from Titian received such inimitable perfection in its tones of colouring; displayed in Coreggio such an union of excellences, as in the opinion of Mengs, carried the whole of these to their highest point of perfection, adding to all their dignity and truth his own peculiar elegance, and a taste as captivating to the eye as to the heart of the spectator.

In design he exhausted not all that depth of knowledge, so conspicuous in Bonarruoti; but it was at once so great and so select, that the Caracci themselves adopted it for their model. I am aware, that Algarotti considered him to be somewhat incorrect in the expression of his contours; while Mengs, on the other hand, defends him very warmly from such a charge. Truly, there does not appear the same variety in his lines as is to be found in Raffaello and the ancients, inasmuch as he purposely avoided angles and rectilinear lines, preserving, as much as lay in his power, an undulating sweep of outline, sometimes convex and sometimes concave; while it is maintained, that his grace results, in a great measure, from this practice: so that Mengs in uncertainty appears at one time to commend, and at another to excuse him for it. He is lavish of his praises on the design of his draperies, on whose masses Coreggio bestowed more attention than on the particular folds; he being the first who succeeded in making drapery a part of the composition, as well by force of contrast as by its [Pg 105]direction; thus opening a new path which might render it conspicuous in large works. In particular, his youthful and infantile heads are greatly celebrated; the faces beaming with so much nature and simplicity, as to enchant, and to compel us, as it were, to smile as they smile.[22] Each separate figure may be pronounced original, from the infinite variety of foreshortenings he has introduced; there is scarcely a single head that is not seen from a point of view either above or below; not a hand, not a whole figure, whose attitude is not full of an ease and grace of motion, beyond example. By his practice of foreshortening figures upon ceilings, which was avoided by Raffaello, he overcame many difficulties still remaining to be vanquished after the time of Mantegna, and in this branch of perspective is justly entitled to the merit of having rendered it complete.

His colouring is allowed to correspond beautifully with the grace and selection of his design, Giulio Romano having been heard to assert that it was altogether the best he had ever seen; nor was he averse to the Duke of Mantua giving the preference to Coreggio above himself, when about to make a presentation of pictures to the emperor Charles V. Equal commendation is bestowed upon [Pg 106]him by Lomazzo, when he pronounces that, among the colourists, he is to be considered rather as unique than as rare in point of merit. No artist before him ever bestowed so much attention upon his canvass, which, after a slight covering of chalk, received his colours, both in point of quantity and quality, as we have before stated, from a lavish hand.[23] In the impasto, or laying on his colours, he approaches the manner of Giorgione, in their tone he resembles Titian, though in their various gradations, in the opinion of Mengs, he is even more expert. There prevails likewise in his colouring a clearness of light, a brilliancy rarely to be met with in the works of others; the objects [Pg 107]appear as if viewed through a glass, and towards evening, when the clearness of other paintings begins to fade with the decay of light, his are to be seen as it were in greater vividness, and like phosphoric beams shining through the darkness of the air. Of the kind of varnish for which Apelles has been so commended by Pliny, we appear to have no idea since the revival of the art, or if, indeed, we at all possess it, we must confess our obligations to Coreggio. Some there have been who could have liked more delicacy in his flesh tints; but every one must allow, that according to the age and the subjects he had to deal with, he has succeeded in varying them admirably, impressing them at the same time with something so soft, so juicy, and so full of life, as to appear like the truth itself.

But his grand and mastering quality, his crowning triumph and distinction above all other artists known to us, is his thorough knowledge of lights and shades. Like nature herself he does not present objects to us with the same force of light, but varied according to the surfaces, oppositions, and distances; it flows in a gradation insensibly increasing and diminishing, a distinction essential in aŰrial perspective, in which he is so great, and contributing finely to the general harmony. He observed the same principle in his shades, representing the reflection of colour upon each, in so delicate a degree, that though using them so abundantly, his shadows are always varied like nature's, never monotonous. [Pg 108]This quality is eminently conspicuous in his night-piece in the Dresden gallery;[24] and in his Magdalen, there seen reposing in a cave; a small picture it is true, but estimated in the purchase at twenty-seven thousand crowns. By the use of his chiaroscuro he not only gave superior softness and rotundity to his forms, but displayed a taste in the whole composition, such as had never been witnessed before. He disposed the masses of his lights and shades with an art, purely natural in its foundation, but in the selection and effect altogether ideal. And he arrived at this degree of perfection by the very same path pursued by Michelangiolo, availing himself of models in clay and wax, the remains of some of which are said to have been found in the cupola at Parma not many years ago. It is also currently reported, that while employed in that city, he engaged the assistance of the famous modeller Begarelli, whom he conducted thither at his own expense.

Though excellent in all, in other portions of his art he cannot be pronounced equally excellent. His conceptions were good, but occasionally they betrayed a want of unity, representing as he did one and the same story in different parts. Thus in the fable of Marsyas, in the Palazzo Litta at Milan, his contest with Apollo, Minerva consigning him over to punishment, and the punishment itself, [Pg 109]are distributed into separate groups. The same kind of repetition will, I think, be found in the story of Leda, executed for Charles V. in which the swan is twice brought into view, proceeding by degrees to familiarize himself with her charms, until in the third group he wholly possesses her. In fact his inventions, for the most part, are like the strains of Anacreon, in which the young loves, and in sacred themes the angels, are introduced under the most agreeable forms and actions. Thus in the picture of S. George, they are seen sporting about the sword and helmet of the saint; and in S. Jerome an angel is engaged in shewing our Lord the book of that great doctor of our holy church, while another is holding under his nose the uncovered vase of ointment belonging to the Magdalen. Of his powers of composition we have a proof in the execution of the cupola, already so highly commended, in which it appears as if the architecture had been formed for the effect of the painting, so admirably is this last adapted, and not the production for the place. He was fond of contrasts, no less in whole figures than their parts; but he never arbitrarily affected them, or carried them to the extravagant degree we have since beheld, in violation of all decorum and truth. In force of expression, more particularly upon tenderer subjects, he stands, perhaps, without a rival or an example; such is his Magdalen just alluded to, as she is seen bending to kiss the feet of the Holy Child, with a countenance and action expressive [Pg 110]of all the different beauties, scattered over the works of many other artists, a sentiment more fully expressed by Mengs: of this picture we may truly say with Catullus, "Omnibus una omnes surripuit Veneres." Grief was a passion likewise depicted by him with singular power; admirably varied according to circumstances in his Dead Christ at Parma, most heartfelt in that of the Magdalen, profound in the Virgin, and in a middling degree in the other female face. And though we do not meet with many examples of a loftier cast, still he could depict the fiercer passions with sufficient power, as witness the Martyrdom of S. Placidus, in which piece an executioner is so nobly drawn, that Domenichino avowedly imitated it in his celebrated picture of S. Agnes.

Finally the costume of his sacred history-pieces is deficient in nothing we could desire; though in his fables, indeed, he might have improved it, by adhering, like Raffaello and the moderns, more closely to the ancients. Thus in his Leda he has represented Juno in the guise of an elderly lady, full of spite and jealousy, secretly beholding the stolen embraces of her lord. She approaches in nothing to the antique, either in her countenance or in her symbols, and hence in the usual interpretations she is considered as a mere cypher. In the fable of Marsyas, he bears no resemblance to the Faun; Minerva has no Ăgis, nor any other of her usual attributes; while Apollo is endued neither with the limbs nor aspect which are awarded him [Pg 111]at this day; and so far from boasting of his lyre, he plays upon a violin. Here again we might adduce a fresh argument for Coreggio having never visited Rome, where even artists of mediocrity, instructed in a knowledge of the antique, knew how to avoid similar errors. In him, however, they are scarcely blemishes, and rather flattering to the name of Coreggio, inasmuch as they serve more fully to convince us that he partakes not the glory of his sovereign style with many masters or many assistants, standing great and alone. Regarded in this view he appears indeed something more than mortal; and in his presence, as Annibal Caracci truly wrote, Parmigianino and others of his rank seem to shrink into nothing.[25] But the productions of this great master are daily becoming more rare in Italy, such are the prices offered, such is the eagerness of strangers to obtain them, and the esteem in which he is held. We are still consoled for their loss by several ancient copies, more especially of his smaller pictures, such as the Marriage of S. Catherine, the Reposing Magdalen, the Young Man's Escape, pieces already mentioned; but to which we may add his Christ praying in the Garden, [Pg 112]placed in the Escurial, and his Zingherina, the Gipsey Girl, in the gallery at Dresden. The most estimable among the old copies are by Schidone, Lelio da Novellara, Girolamo da Carpi, and by the Caracci, who, by dint of copying Coreggio's pieces, approached very nearly the style of the originals; though more in point of design than in skill and delicacy of colouring.

Hitherto I have treated of the manner of Antonio, and in so doing have described the manner of his school; not, indeed, that any single artist at all equalled or approached him, but that all held very nearly the same maxims, mixed, in some instances, with different styles. The prevailing character of the school of Parma, by way of distinction likewise called the Lombard school, is the excellence of its shortenings, like the delineation of the nerves and muscles in that of Florence. Nor is it any reproach that its artists, in some instances, have become extravagant and affected in their foreshortening, as the Florentines in their representations of the naked limbs: to imitate well is in all places a difficult art. Its character may further be said to consist in a fine study of the chiaroscuro and of draperies, rather than of the human figure, in which few artists of the school can boast much excellence. Their contours are broad, their countenances selected rather from among the people, than of an ideal cast, being well rounded, high coloured, and exhibiting those features and that joyousness esteemed so original in Coreggio, as it has [Pg 113]been well remarked by a professor long resident in Parma. There we have reason to believe that our artist instructed more pupils than have been recorded by Vasari, to whose observations and opinions much additional matter has been supplied by writers of the present age, though doubts continue to prevail respecting some of his reputed scholars. I shall treat this great master as others have done in regard to Raffaello, comprehending, within the limits of his school, all those assistants and others who, educated in different academies, subsequently attached themselves to his, availing themselves of his instructions and examples.

First upon the list, therefore, I place his own son, Pomponio Allegri. He had hardly time to benefit by his father's instructions, or to receive his earliest rudiments, having lost him at the age of twelve. His grandfather then took him under his care, until the period of his death, occurring five years after, when he left a pretty handsome provision for the orphan, who boasted likewise no common degree of talent. With whom he pursued his education, however, is not known, whether with Rondani, a faithful disciple of his father, or with some other of the same school. It is certain he was a youth of fair abilities, and that with the aid of his father's studies he acquired some reputation, and established himself at Parma. In the cathedral there appears, wrought upon a large earthen bason, the story of the Israelites awaiting the arrival of Moses, to whom the Lord has just consigned the [Pg 114]tablets of the law. Though not very successful as a whole, the work displays great merit in particular parts; many of the heads are beautiful, many of the motions spirited, and there are tones of colouring extremely clear and natural. It was believed that Pomponio had early abandoned the use of his pencil, disposing of his property in Coreggio, and afterwards dying in great poverty at an early age. These false or uncertain reports, however, have been rendered nugatory by authentic documents brought forward by Father Aff˛, stating him to have enjoyed, in Parma, high reputation and honourable public commissions, and confirmed by a public decree recording him, while the best disciples of the school of Parma were yet alive, as being ottimo pittore.

We now proceed to other artists belonging to the city and state of Modena. Among these we find the name of Francesco Cappelli, a native of Sassuolo, who established himself in Bologna, without, however, leaving there any public specimen of his labours. Most probably he was employed by private persons, or, as Vedriani is led to conjecture, also by princes; though in respect to their names he is certainly mistaken. There is an altar-piece in S. Sebastiano at Sassuolo, commonly attributed to his hand, representing a figure of the Virgin, with some saints, among which last appears the Titular, the most noble and conspicuous of the whole, in such fine impasto and relief, as to be attributed to the pencil of his master.

Another of the school is Giovanni Giarola da [Pg 115]Reggio, whose productions there in fresco are to be seen in the Palazzo Donelli and other places, though they have perished in Parma. He cannot, however, be pronounced exempt from the usual negligence of fresco painters in their contours; still he was much esteemed, while he flourished, for the spirit and delicacy of his manner. Although epitaphs are by no means the most desirable sort of testimony to the worth of the deceased, it will be, nevertheless, worth while to recall that of Giarola, from which, if we deduct even nine parts of the commendation, the tenth will confer upon him no slight honour;—"Io. Gerolli, qui adeo excellentem pingendi artem edoctus fuerat, ut alter Apelles vocaretur;" who had arrived at such a masterly degree of excellence in this noble art that he was entitled to the name of another Apelles. To him we have to add a fellow citizen and namesake of Coreggio, called Antonio Bernieri, sprung from a noble stock, and who having lost his master at the age of eighteen years, inherited, in a manner, the appellation of Antonio da Coreggio, thus giving rise to several historical doubts and inaccuracies. He is enumerated by Landi, and by Pietro Aretino, among the most distinguished of the miniature painters; and also mentioned by D. Veronica Gambara, Marchioness of Coreggio. There is no genuine painting by him, however, in oil, though I have no reason for refusing him the degree of reputation so general among the miniaturists; and the portrait at Turin, described in the [Pg 116]present volume (p. 101), ought certainly I think to be attributed to him rather than to Antonio Allegri. He long flourished in Venice, visited Rome, and died at his native place. The next I have to add to this list is a name unknown, as far as I can learn, to history, and one which I only discovered from a beautiful design I happened to meet with in a collection by Father Fontana Barnabita, a collection mentioned by me with commendation in my first volume (p. 75). His name is Antonio Bruno, a native of Modena, and an artist who ably emulated the genius of Coreggio in his grace, his nature, his foreshortenings, and his broad lights, though with far less correct a pencil.

Further, among the scholars of Parma, there remain several who acquired less fame. A Daniello de Por is mentioned by Vasari in his life of Taddeo Zuccaro, who, according to his account, received some assistance from Daniello, more in the way of instructions than example. Yet he records no other of his productions besides a piece in fresco, to be seen at Vito, near Sora, where he invited Zuccaro to join him as an assistant; nor does it appear that he commends him for any thing beyond having acquired from Coreggio and Parmigianino a tolerable degree of softness of manner. In fact he must have rather occupied the place of a journeyman than of an assistant of Coreggio, and I suspect he is the same from whom Vasari obtained some information respecting this artist, in particular, such as related to his avarice, which the [Pg 117]historian had assuredly no reason either for disbelieving or inventing. But a superior pupil of the same school will be found in M. Torelli, called a native of Milan in the MS. of Resta, where he is mentioned as the companion of Rondani, in executing the Frieze at San Giovanni in Parma, painted in chiaroscuro. It was taken from the design of Coreggio, who received likewise the proceeds from the work. It is added by Ratti, that the first cloister of the same monastery was also adorned with singular felicity by the same hand.

The names of the following artists all enjoy more or less celebrity in Italy at the present day; but it is not therefore certain that they were all the pupils of Coreggio, nor that they all observed the same manner. Like young swimmers, some of them seem cautious of leaving the side of their master, while others appear fearful only of being seen to approach him too nearly, as if proud of the skill they had already acquired. To the first class belongs Rondani, who was employed along with Coreggio at the church of S. Giovanni, and to him is chiefly attributed a grotesque contained in the monastery, assigned to the school of Antonio, though we may detect some figures of cherubs which appear from the master's hand. Yet Rondani was accustomed to imitate his master pretty accurately in his individual figures; and on the exterior of the church of S. Maria Maddalena, he drew a Madonna, that in want of historical evidence, might have been attributed to Coreggio. There is also [Pg 118]an altar-piece at the Eremitani, representing saints Agostino and Geronimo, so much in the Coreggio manner as to be esteemed one of the best pictures in Parma. But Rondani was unable to reach the grandeur of the head of the school; he is accused on the other hand of having been too careful and minute in the accessaries of his art, which we gather, indeed, from one of his frescos in a chapel of the cathedral, and in general from his other works. They are rarely to be met with in collections, though I have seen one of his Madonnas, with a Child, in possession of the Marchesi Scarani at Bologna, the figure bearing a swallow in her hand, in allusion to the painter's name; besides the portrait of a man, draped and designed in the Giorgione taste, at the house of the Sig. Bettinelli in Mantua.

I have already alluded to Michelangiolo Anselmi, in the school of Siena, and I again prepare to treat of him more fully, from documents since published, or which I have since read. Upon the authority of these it is very certain that he traced his family several generations back to the city of Parma; though he is denominated da Lucca, from the circumstance of his having been born at that place, according to Ratti, in 1591; and he has been also called da Siena, because, as I am inclined to conjecture, he may have resided and pursued his studies there while young. Resta, in the MS. I have so frequently cited, contends that he acquired his art from Sodoma; Azzolini, from Riccio, son-in-law to Sodoma, both of whom are [Pg 119]known to have remained a considerable time at Lucca. There he may have been instructed in the first rudiments, and afterwards have completed his studies at Siena, where he produced the altar-piece of Fontegiusta, which bears no traces of the Lombard style. When practised in the art he returned to Parma, he was older than Coreggio, and then only capable of improving his style by availing himself of his advice and example, in the same way as Garofolo and many others, by the example of Raffaello.

When in the year 1522 Coreggio was engaged to paint the cupola of the cathedral and the great tribune, Anselmi, together with Rondani, and Parmigianino, were fixed upon to adorn the contiguous chapels. The undertaking was never executed; but such a selection shews that he was esteemed capable of accompanying the style of Coreggio, and his works sufficiently attest that he became a devoted follower of it. He is full in his outlines, extremely studied in the heads, glowing in his tints, and very partial to the use of red, which he contrives to vary and to break as it were into different colours in the same picture. Perhaps his least merit consists in his composition, which he sometimes overloads with figures. He painted in various churches at Parma; and one of the most pleasing of his productions, approaching nearest to his great model, is at S. Stefano, in which S. John the Baptist, along with the titular saint, is seen kneeling at the feet of the Virgin. His largest [Pg 120]work, however, is to be met with at the Steccata, where, upon the testimony of Vasari, he executed the cartoons of Giulio Romano. But this is disproved by the contract, which assigns to Anselmi himself a chamber in which to compose his cartoons; nor did Giulio do more than send a rough sketch of the work to Parma. In collections his specimens are rare and valuable, although he flourished, to say the least, as late as the year 1554, in which he added a codicil to his will.

Bernardino Gatti, named from his father's profession Soiaro, of whom I shall again make mention in the Cremonese School, is an artist, who, in different countries, left various specimens of his art. Parma, Piacenza, and Cremona abound with them. He ranks among the least doubtful disciples of Coreggio, and was strongly attached to his maxims, more especially in regard to the subjects treated by the hand of his master. His picture of a PietÓ, at the Magdalen, in Parma, that of his Repose in Egypt, at S. Sigismond, in Cremona, with his Christ in the Manger, at S. Peter's, in the same city, afford ample evidence of his power of imitating Coreggio without becoming a servile copyist. No one has emulated him better in the delicacy of his countenances. His young girls and his boys appear animated with the spirit of innocence, grace, and beauty. He is fond of whitish and clear grounds, and infuses a sweetness into his whole colouring which forms one of his characteristics. Nor does he want relief in his figures, [Pg 121]from which, like the head of the school, he seems never to have removed his hand until he had rendered them in every way perfect and complete. He possessed singular talent for copying, as well as for imitating those masters whom he had engaged to assist. He succeeded to the place of Pordenone, in Piacenza, where he painted the remainder of the tribune at S. M. di Campagna, of which Vasari observes, that the whole appeared the work of the same hand. His picture of S. George, at the same church, is deserving of mention, placed opposite that of S. Augustine by Pordenone, a figure displaying powerful relief and action, which he executed from the design of Giulio Romano, at the request, it is supposed, of the person who gave the commission. We may form an estimate of his unassisted powers by what he has left in the churches of Parma, and more particularly in the cupola of the Steccata. It is an excellent production in every part, and in its principal figure of the Virgin truly surprising. Another of his pieces representing the Multiplication of Loaves, is highly deserving of mention. It was executed for the Refectory of the Padri Lateranensi at Cremona, and to this his name, with the date of 1552, is affixed. It may be accounted one of the most copious paintings to be met with in any religious refectory, full of figures larger than the life, and varied equal to any in point of features, drapery, and attitudes, besides a rich display of novelty and fancy; the whole conducted upon a [Pg 122]grand scale, with a happy union and taste of colouring, which serves to excuse a degree of incorrectness in regard to his aŰrial perspective. There remain few of his pieces in private collections, a great number having been transferred into foreign countries, particularly into Spain.

Giorgio Gandini, likewise surnamed del Grano, from the maternal branch of his family, was an artist formerly referred to Mantua, but who has since been claimed by Padre Aff˛, who traced his genealogy for the city of Parma. According to the account of Orlandi he was not only a pupil of Coreggio, but one whose pieces were frequently retouched by the hand of his master. P. Zapata, who illustrated in a latin work the churches of Parma, ascribes to him the principal painting in S. Michele, the same which, in the Guide of Ruta, was attributed by mistake to Lelio di Novellara. It is one calculated to reflect honour upon that school, from its power of colouring, its relief, and its ease and sweetness of hand, though it occasionally displays a somewhat too capricious fancy. How highly he was esteemed by his fellow citizens may be inferred from the commission which they allotted him to paint the tribune of the cathedral, as a substitute for Coreggio, who died before he commenced the task which he had accepted. The same happened to Gandini, and the commission was bestowed upon a third artist, Girolamo Mazzuola, whose genius was not then sufficiently matured to cope with such vast undertakings.

[Pg 123]The names of Lelio Orsi and Girolamo da Carpi, I assign to another place, both of whom are enumerated by other writers in the school of Parma. For this alteration I shall give a sufficient reason when I mention them. The last belonging to the present class, are the two Mazzuoli; and I commence with Francesco, called Parmigianino, whose life, by Father Aff˛, has been already written. This writer does not rank him in the list of Coreggio's scholars, but in that of his two uncles, in whose studio he is supposed to have painted his Baptism of Christ, which is now in possession of the Conti Sanvitali, and as the production of a boy of fourteen years of age, it is indeed a wonderful effort of genius. It is remarked by the same historian of his life, that having seen the works of Coreggio, Francesco began to imitate him; and there are some pictures ascribed to him at that period, which are evidently formed upon that great model. Of such kind, is a Holy Family, belonging to the President Bertioli, and a S. Bernardino, at the Padri Osservanti, in Parma. Independently of these, the fact of Francesco's having been chosen, together with Rondani and Anselmi, to decorate a chapel near the Cupola of Coreggio, shews, that he must have acquired great similarity of style, and possessed docility, equal to the other two, in following the directions of such a master. He had too much confidence, however, in his own powers, to be second in the manner of another artist, when he was capable of forming one of his own. And this [Pg 124]he subsequently achieved; for owing to the delays experienced in the above undertaking, he had time to make the tour of Italy, and meeting with Giulio, in Mantua, and Raffaello, at Rome, he proceeded to form a style that has been pronounced original. It is at once great, noble, and dignified; not abounding in figures, but rendering a few capable of filling a large canvass, as we may observe in his S. Rocco, at San Petronio, in Bologna; or in his Moses, at the Steccata of Parma, so celebrated a specimen of chiaroscuro.

The prevailing character, however, in which this artist so greatly shone, was grace of manner; a grace which won for him at Rome that most flattering of all eulogies, that the spirit of Raffaello had passed into Parmigianino. Among his designs are to be seen repeated specimens of the same figure, drawn for the purpose of reaching the highest degree of grace, in the person, in the attitudes, and in the lightness of his drapery, in which he is admirable. It is the opinion of Algarotti, that he sometimes carried his heads to an extreme, so as to border upon effeminacy; a judgment analogous to the previous observation of Agostino Caracci, that he could wish a painter to have a little of Parmigianino's grace; not all, because he conceived that he had too much. In the opinion of others, his excessive study of what was graceful led him sometimes to select proportions somewhat too long, no less in respect to stature than in the fingers and the neck, as we may observe in his celebrated Madonna, [Pg 125]at the Pitti Palace, which, from this defect, obtained the appellation of collo lungo, or long neck;[26] but it boasted likewise of its advocates. His colouring, also, evidently aims at grace, and for the most part is preserved moderate, discreet, and well tempered, as if the artist feared, by too much brilliancy, to offend the eye; which, both in drawings and paintings, is apt to diminish grace. If we admit Albano as a good judge, Parmigianino was not very studious of expression, in which he has left few examples; if, indeed, we are not to consider the grace that animates his cherubs and other delicate figures, as meriting the name of expression, or if that term apply only to the passions, as very abundantly supplying its place. It is, in truth, on account of this rare exhibition of grace, that every thing is pardoned, and that in him defects themselves appear meritorious.

He would seem to have been slow in his conceptions, being accustomed to form the whole piece in idea, before he once handled his pencil; but was then rapid in his execution. Strokes of [Pg 126]his pencil may sometimes be traced so very daring and decided, that Albano pronounces them divine, and declares, that to his experience in design, he was indebted for that unequalled skill, which he always united to great diligence and high finish. His works, indeed, are not all equally well and powerfully coloured, nor produce the same degree of effect; though there are several which are conducted with so much feeling and enthusiasm as to have been ascribed to Coreggio himself. Such is the picture of Love, engaged in fabricating his bow, while at his feet appear two cherubs, one laughing and the other weeping; a piece, of which a number of duplicates, besides that contained in the imperial gallery, are enumerated, so great a favourite was it either with the artist or some other person. In regard to this production, I agree with Vasari, whose authority is further confirmed by Father Aff˛ and other judges, whom I have consulted upon the subject; although it is true that this Cupid, together with the Ganymede, and the Leda, which are mentioned in the same context, (p. 302), have been positively assigned by Boschini to Coreggio, an opinion that continues to be countenanced by many other persons.

His minor paintings, his portraits, his youthful heads, and holy figures, are not very rare, and some are found multiplied in different places. One that has been the most frequently repeated in collections, is a picture of the Virgin and Infant with S. Giovanni; while the figures of St. Catherine [Pg 127]and Zaccarias, or some similar aged head, are to be seen very near them. It was formerly met with in the Farnese gallery, at Parma, and is still to be seen, sometimes the same, and sometimes varied, in the royal gallery, at Florence; in the Capitoline; in those of the princes Corsini, Borghesi, and Albani, at Rome. In Parma, also, it is in possession of the Abate Mazza,[27] and is found in other places; insomuch, that it is difficult to suppose that they could all have been repeated by Parmigianino, however old in appearance. He produced few copious compositions, such as the Preaching of Christ to the Crowd, which is contained in a chamber of the royal palace, at Colorno, forming a real jewel of that beautiful and pleasant villa. His altar-pieces are not numerous, of which, however, none is more highly estimated than his St. Margarita, at Bologna. It is rich in figures, which the Caracci were never weary of studying; while Guido, in a sort of transport of admiration, preferred it even to the St. Cecilia of Raffaello. His fresco, which he began at the Steccata, is a singular production; besides the figure of Moses, exhibited in chiaroscuro, he painted Adam and Eve, with several Virtues, without, however, completing [Pg 128]the undertaking for which he had been remunerated. The history of the affair is rather long, and is to be found in Father Aff˛, where it is divested of many idle tales, with which it had been confounded. I shall merely state, that the artist was thrown into prison for having abandoned his task, and afterwards led a fugitive life in Casale, where he shortly died, in his thirty-seventh year, exactly at the same age as his predecessor Raffaello. He was lamented as one of the first luminaries, not only of the art of painting, but of engraving; though of this last I must say nothing, in order not to deviate from the plan I have laid down.

Parma was in some degree consoled for the loss of Francesco, by Girolamo di Michele Mazzuola, his pupil and his cousin. They had been intimate from the year 1520, and apparently had contracted their friendship some years before Francesco set out for Rome, which was continued unabated after his return. Most probably, however, it at length experienced an interruption, owing to which Francesco named two strangers his heirs, omitting his cousin. This last is not known beyond Parma and its confines, though he was deserving of more extensive fame, in particular for his strong impasto, and his knowledge of colouring, in which he has few equals. There is reason to suppose, that some of the works ascribed to Francesco, more especially such as displayed warmer and stronger tints, were either executed or repeated by this artist. Not having been in Rome, Girolamo was [Pg 129]more attached to the school of Coreggio, than Francesco, and in his style composed his picture of the Marriage of St. Catherine, for the church of the Carmine; a piece that proves how well he could exhibit that great master's character. He was excellent in perspective, and in the Supper of our Lord, painted for the refectory of S. Giovanni, he represented a colonnade so beautiful, and well adapted to produce illusion, as to compete with the best specimens from the hand of Pozzo. He could, moreover, boast ease and harmony, with a fine chiaroscuro; while in his larger compositions in fresco, he was inventive, varied, and animated. No single artist, among his fellow citizens, had the merit of decorating the churches of Parma with an equal number of oil paintings; no one produced more in fresco for the cathedral and for the Steccata; to say nothing of his labours at S. Benedetto, in Mantua, and elsewhere. It is from this rage for accomplishing too much, that we find so many of his pieces that are calculated to surprise us at first sight, diminish in merit upon an examination of their particular parts. Not a few defects are observable amidst all his beauties; the design in his naked figures is extremely careless; his grace is carried to a degree of affectation, and his more spirited attitudes are violent. But these faults are not wholly attributable to him, inasmuch as he occasionally painted the same work in conjunction with other artists. This occurred in his large picture of the Multiplication of Loaves [Pg 130]placed at S. Benedetto, in Mantua, in which, from documents discovered by the Ab. Mari, Girolamo would appear to have been assisted in his labours; there are in it groups of figures, whose beauty would confer credit upon any artist; while, on the other hand, there are faults and imbecilities that must have proceeded from some other pencil. It is true that he has admitted the same in other of his works, and there they are wholly to be ascribed to his haste. We likewise find mention of an Alessandro Mazzuola, son of Girolamo, who painted in the cathedral, in 1571; but he is a weak imitator of the family style; the usual fate of pictoric families, when arrived at the third generation.

Such was the state of the art in Parma about the middle of the sixteenth century, at which period the Farnese family acquired dominion there, and greatly contributed to promote the interest of that school. Coreggio's disciples had already produced pupils in their turn; and though it be difficult to ascertain from what school each artist proceeded, it is easy to conjecture, from their respective tastes, that they were all inclined to pursue the career of the two most illustrious masters of the school of Parma; yet Mazzuola was, perhaps, more followed than Coreggio. It is too favourite an opinion, both with dilettanti and artists, that the new style must invariably be the most beautiful; permitting fashion even to corrupt the arts. Parmigianino, perhaps, educated no other pupil besides his cousin; Daniel da Parma [Pg 131]had studied also under Coreggio; and Batista Fornari, after acquiring little more than a knowledge of design from Francesco, turned his attention to sculpture, producing, among other fine statues, for the Duke Ottavio Farnese, the Neptune, which is now placed in the royal gardens. The name of Jacopo Bertoia, (often written by mistake Giacinto) has been added by some to this list. He was a good deal employed by the court at Parma and Caprarola; and not very long ago, some of his small paintings were transferred from the palace of the royal garden into the academy. The subjects are fabulous, and both in the figures of his nymphs, and in every thing else, the grace of Francesco is very perceptible. Yet the memorials discovered by P. Aff˛, do not permit us to name Parmigianino as his master. He was still young in 1573, and Lomazzo, in his "Tempio," calls him the pupil of Ercole Procaccini. He produced many small pictures for private ornament, which were at one time in great repute; nor does Parma possess any large painting by his hand, excepting two banners for companies or associations.

It is rather, likewise, from a resemblance of style, than upon historical authority, that one Pomponio Amidano has been enumerated among the pupils of Parmigianino. He may be mentioned, however, as one of his most strenuous followers; insomuch as to have had one of his altar-pieces, which adorns the church of Madonna del Quartiere, attributed even by no common artists to the [Pg 132]hand of Francesco. It is the most beautiful work of its author that the city of Parma has to boast. The style of this artist is full and noble, were it not, adds the Cav. Ratti, that it is sometimes apt to appear somewhat flat.

Pier Antonio Bernabei, called della Casa, does not belong to the school of Parmigianino, but is to be referred to some other assistant or pupil of Coreggio. I cannot account for the slight praise bestowed upon him by Orlandi, when his painting of the cupola at the Madonna del Quartiere is calculated to impress us with the opinion that his powers were equal to those of any artist who then flourished in Lombardy, or even in Italy, as a painter of frescos. He there represented, as was very common upon the cupolas, a Paradise, very full, but without any confusion; with figures in the Coreggio[h] his tints are powerful, and relieved with a force which might be pronounced superfluous in the more distant figures, from a deficiency of the due gradations. This cupola still remains perfectly entire after the lapse of more than two centuries, and is his great masterpiece, though some of his other paintings likewise produce a great effect. Aurelio Barili, and Innocenzio Martini, of Parma, must have enjoyed very considerable reputation in their day, having been employed at S. Giovanni and the Steccata: some specimens of their fresco work are still pointed out, but are cast into the shade by the vicinity of more attractive beauties.

[Pg 133]About the same period another subject of the same state painted, in his native place of Piacenza. His name was Giulio Mazzoni, at one time pupil to Daniel da Volterra, in the life of whom he is much commended by Vasari. Some figures of the Evangelists still remain in the cathedral by his hand, though the ceiling of S. M. di Campagna, which he adorned with histories, has been renewed by another pencil. He did not acquire a knowledge of foreshortening in the school of Daniello, and here he failed, however respectable in other points.

[12] In the opening of the Life we find—"He was of a very timid disposition, and with extreme inconvenience devoted himself to incessant labour in order to provide for a numerous family." Towards the conclusion he adds—"Like those who have a numerous family, Antonio was desirous," (he had four sons,) "of hoarding his money, and thus soon became one of the most miserable of men." Elsewhere it is observed—"He held himself in slight esteem, and was satisfied with little."

[13] "It almost drives me mad with grief to think of the wretchedness of poor Antonio; to think that so great a man, if he were not an angel in human shape, should be thus lost in a country which could not appreciate him, and though with a reputation reaching to the skies, destined to die in such a place so unhappily." In a letter to Lodovico, written from Parma, 1580, (Malvas. vol. i. p. 366). Annibal likewise exaggerated, because the Padri Benedettini, as well as others, were aware of the value of Antonio.

[14] There is a document existing in the same archives, where Francesco Mantegna binds himself to ornament the outside of the church. It may thus be conjectured, that the picture of the Ascension, placed over the gateway, is from his hand, while the Madonna, evidently from another, is the work of Coreggio. The master, in executing his commissions, often employed his pupil or his assistant.

[15] This excellent judge of art, more particularly in point of engravings, and also extremely skilful in portraits drawn with the pen, departed this life at the beginning of 1802.

[16] Thus conjectures Tiraboschi, with arguments that prove the fact rather than shew its probability.

[17] Ortensio Landi, in his Observations, had put on record that Coreggio died young, without seeing Rome. Tiraboschi.

[18] Tiraboschi, p. 257, gives a different account of it, and appears to confound the original with the copy, which for a long time has been placed on the altar, also considerably defaced and discoloured. Respecting this picture, likewise, we hope we shall be better informed by the Dottor Antonioli, to whom we here confess our obligations for much information inserted in this chapter, obtained from his own mouth upon the spot.

[19] These two saints had already been withdrawn from the altar, (Tiraboschi, p. 253,) nor does a copy of them remain at San Francesco. That made by Boulanger is in the convent, and was evidently produced in haste, and upon a bad ground; hence it is neither very exact, nor in good preservation. It is, nevertheless, valuable as throwing light upon Coreggio's history, and his different styles; while it also tends to prove, that if the ancona was made of wood, the picture was made portable, and painted on canvass.

[20] Tiraboschi was unable to discover any certain work from the hand of Antonio, between the years 17 and 20, of the same age. This gave rise to the assertion of Vasari's annotator, that he remained in Rome in quality of Raffaello's pupil during this interval, and on his master's death, in 1520, returned to Lombardy. Such a supposition becomes utterly void, after the above epochs adduced by us.

[21] It is worth notice, that Ratti, persuaded of Coreggio's residence at Rome, has availed himself of the argument of certain figures being borrowed by him from the Judgment, before Michel Angiolo had painted it. Equally valid is his conjecture, founded upon several figures of Raffaello's, which he detected in Coreggio, as if these two artists had never studied from the same book of nature. Such an opinion is asserted also by Padre della Valle, cited in our second volume, p. 121. But writers will always be liable to these mistakes, as long as they pretend to make discoveries and throw light upon ancient facts, without adhering to historical dates, and in their conjectures rather consult novelty and their own vanity than truth. But this fault, brought into vogue about the middle of the eighteenth century, has produced no little evil, both in letters and religion, and surely cannot continue to receive encouragement at this enlightened period. Let us rather trust, that the love of truth, never altogether extinguished, will resume its former influence in the investigation of historical points, and that one of its leading objects will be to free both sacred and profane history from those foolish sophisms that so much obscure it.

[22] This is an expression of Annibal Caracci. Elsewhere he observes: "This kind of delicacy and purity, which is rather truth itself than verisimilitude, pleases me greatly. It is neither artificial nor forced, but quite natural."

[23] One of the professors being employed in restoring a piece of Coreggio, analyzed the mode of colouring. Upon the chalk, he said, the artist appeared to have laid a surface of prepared oil, which then received a thick mixture of colours, in which the ingredients were two thirds of oil and one of varnish; that the colours seemed to have been very choice, and particularly purified from all kind of salts, which in progress of time eat and destroy the picture; and that the before-mentioned use of prepared oil must have greatly contributed to this purification by absorbing the saline particles. It was, moreover, his opinion, that Coreggio adopted the method of heating his pictures, either in the sun, or at the fire, in order that the colours might become as it were interfused, and equalized in such a way as to produce the effect of having been poured, rather than laid on. Of that lucid appearance which, though so beautiful, does not reflect objects, and of the solidity of the surface, equal to the Greek pictures, he remarks, that it must have been obtained by some strong varnish unknown to the Flemish painters themselves, who prepared it of equal clearness and liveliness but not of equal strength. See vol. i. p. 49.

[24] It is more accurately entitled by others the Opening of Day.

[25] His words are, "It is my unalterable opinion that Parmigianino in no way approaches Coreggio, whose thoughts and fine inventions are all clearly drawn from himself, always original. All other artists look out for some support, some foundations for their efforts taken from other sources; one to models, one to statues, another to cartoons: all their productions are represented such as they might have been, Coreggio's such as they really are." (See second Letter to Lodovico, Malvasia, vol. i. p. 367.)

[26] He might have pleaded the example of the ancients, who in their draped statues, observed similar proportions, in order to avoid falling into vulgarity. The length of the fingers was rather subject of praise, as is noticed by the commentators on Catullus. (See his 44th Ode.) A long neck in virgins is inculcated by Malvasia, as a precept of the art, (tom. i. p. 303); and the Can. Lazzarini drew his Madonnas according to this rule. These observations are all intended to be applied with that judgment, which, in every art, is not presumed to be taught, but understood.

[27] It is mentioned and compared with that of the Borghesi, (in both the virgin is seen on one side) by P. Aff˛, in a letter edited by the Advocate Bramieri, in the notes to the Elogio d'Ireneo Aff˛, composed by P. D. Pompilio Pozzetti; a very excellent scholar, (no less than his annotator,) and deserving to stand high in the estimation of all learned Italians.

[Pg 134]



Parmese Pupils of the Caracci, and of other Foreigners, until the period of the Foundation of the Academy.

In the year 1570, when the most celebrated imitators of the Coreggio manner were either greatly advanced in years, or already deceased, the Parmese School began to give place to that of Bologna; and I proceed to explain the mode, and the causes which, partly by design and partly by chance, led to that event. It was intended to ornament a chapel in the cathedral, a commission bestowed upon Rondani and Parmigianino, but which, through a variety of interruptions, had been so long deferred, that both artists died before undertaking it. Orazio Sammachini was then invited from Bologna; he gave satisfaction, and if I mistake not, derived great improvement from his study of Coreggio, whom he more nearly resembled than any other Bolognese artist of that age. Ercole Procaccini, likewise, painted in the dome itself; nor was it long before Cesare Aretusi was invited from Bologna, to become court painter to Duke Ranuccio. This artist, as we before observed, was employed in restoring the painting of the tribune at S. Giovanni. In order [Pg 135]to lengthen the choir, it was resolved to destroy the old tribune; but such parts as Coreggio had there painted, were to be correctly repeated to adorn the new; an example that deserves to be adopted as a law, wherever the fine arts are held in esteem. We are informed by Malvasia, that Aretusi undertook this task, though he refused to take a copy of it upon the spot; observing, that such an employment was more adapted for a pupil than for a master. Annibal Caracci was in consequence of this called in, and assisted by his brother Agostino, he took a copy of that vast work in various portions, which are now at Capo di Monte. Guided by these, Aretusi was afterwards enabled to repaint the new edifice in the year 1587. To this account Aff˛ opposes the contract of Aretusi, drawn out in 1586, where he binds himself "to make an excellent copy of the Madonna Coronata;" and provision is promised him for a boy who is to prepare the cartoons: a circumstance that cannot be made applicable to Annibal, who appeared in the character of a master as early as 1586. What conclusion we are to draw from such a fact, no less than from the cartoons so generally attributed to Annibal, and which are pronounced worthy of his hand, quŠrere distuli; nec scire fas est omnia. Hor. I shall merely observe, that Annibal, after spending several months in studying and copying Coreggio during 1580, frequently returned again to admire him, and that such devoted enthusiasm was of wonderful advantage to him in acquiring [Pg 136]the character of his model. It was at this time that he painted the picture of a PietÓ for the Capuchin friars, at Parma, approaching the nearest that ever was seen to that at S. Giovanni, and from that period the Duke Ranuccio gave him several commissions for pictures, which are now to be met with at Naples.

The duke was a great lover of the arts, as we gather from a selection of artists employed by him, among whom were Lionello Spada, Schedoni, Trotti, and Gio. Sons, an able figure and a better landscape painter, whom Orlandi believes to have been instructed in Parma, and perfected in the art at Antwerp. It appears, that he also had much esteem for Ribera, who painted a chapel, which is now destroyed, at Santa Maria Bianca, in so fine a style, that according to Scaramuccia, it might have been mistaken for Coreggio's, and it awakened emulation even in the breast of Lodovico Caracci.[28] The chief merit, however, of the duke, and of his brother, the cardinal, consisted in estimating and employing the genius of the Caracci. In that court they were both fairly remunerated, and held in esteem; though, owing to the arts of some courtiers, history has preserved circumstances regarding these great men, calculated to move compassion.[29] To this early patronage we may trace the events which we find in the history of the Caracci, [Pg 137]at different periods: Annibal engaged to paint the Farnese Gallery at Rome; Agostino called to Parma, in quality of its court-painter, an office in which he died; and Lodovico sent to Piacenza, along with Camillo Procaccini, in order to decorate the cathedral of that city. Hence also arose the principles of a new style at Parma, or rather of several new styles, which during the seventeenth century continued to spread both there and throughout the state, and which were first introduced by the artists of Bologna.

Their scholars, besides Bertoia, were Giambatista Tinti, pupil to Sammachini, Giovanni Lanfranco, and Sisto Badalocchi, who, having been acquainted with the younger Caracci, at Parma, became first attached to the school of Lodovico, in Bologna, and afterwards followed Annibal to Rome, where they continued to reside with him. These, although they were educated by the Bolognese, resemble certain characters who, though they may abandon their native soil, are never able to divest themselves of its memory or its language. In respect to Lanfranco, it is agreed by all, that no artist better imitated the grandeur of Coreggio in works upon a large scale; although he is neither equal to him in colouring, nor at all approaches him in high finish, nor is destitute of an air of originality peculiar to the head of a school. At Parma, he produced a picture representing all the saints in the church that bears their name; and in Piacenza, besides his saints Alessio and Corrado [Pg 138]at the cathedral, works highly commended by Bellori, he painted an altar-piece of St. Luke, at the Madonna di Piazza, as well as a cupola, so avowedly imitated from that of S. Giovanni at Parma, that it can scarcely escape the charge of servility. Sisto Badalocchi,[30] no way inferior to Lanfranco in point of facility, and other endowments of the art, approached very nearly to his style. It was even doubted in Parma, whether the picture of S. Quintino, in the church of that name, was the production of Lanfranco or his. Of the rest who flourished for the most part among the disciples of the Caracci, beyond the limits of their own state, we shall treat more opportunely under the Bolognese School.

Giambatista Tinti acquired the art of design and of colouring from Sammachini at Bologna; he studied Tibaldi with great assiduity, and painted upon his model at S. Maria della Scala, not without marks of plagiarism.[31] Having subsequently established himself at Parma, he selected for his chief model the works of Coreggio, and next proceeded to the study of Parmigianino. The city retains many of his productions, both in private and in public, among which that of the Assumption in the cathedral, abounding with figures, and the Catino, at the old Capuchin Nuns, are accounted some of the last grand works belonging to the old school of Parma.

[Pg 139]From the time these artists ceased to flourish, the art invariably declined. Towards the middle of the seventeenth century we find mention, in the Guide of Parma, of Fortunato Gatti and Gio. Maria Conti, both Parmese, who were shortly followed, if I mistake not, by Giulio Orlandini. They are better qualified to shew the succession of Parmese artists than of great painters. The name of one Girolamo da' Leoni, of Piacenza, is also recorded, who was employed along with Cunio, a Milanese, about the time of the Campi. At Piacenza likewise, after the middle of the century, appeared one Bartolommeo Baderna, pupil to the Cavalier Ferrante, whose works display more diligence than genius; whence Franceschini took occasion to say, that he had knocked loudly at the door of the great painters without being able to gain admission. In the mean while the court continued to promote the study of the fine arts throughout the state. It even sent a young man of talent, named Mauro Oddi, under the direction of Berettini, with a salary to Rome. He fulfilled the expectations of his patrons by his productions at the villa of Colorno, and he adorned some churches with specimens of his altar-pieces; but still he aimed more at the fame of an architect than of a painter. At the same time there was employed at court an artist named Francesco Monti, who painted likewise for churches and private collections. He was mentioned in the Venetian School, and exercised a more marked influence over the art at Parma. [Pg 140]presenting it in Ilario Spolverini with a disciple of merit. Ilario, no less than his master, acquired reputation from his battle-pieces; and whether owing to exaggeration or to truth, it was commonly said that the soldiers of Monti threatened, and that those of Spolverini seemed to kill. He threw no less fierceness and terror into some of his assassin scenes, which are esteemed equal to his battles. He painted chiefly for the Duke Francesco, though there are some of his works on a larger scale, in oil and in fresco, placed in the cathedral, at the Certosa, and other places throughout the city and the state.

Spolverini instructed in the art Francesco Simonini, a distinguished battle-painter of that period. Orlandi says he was a scholar of Monti, and educated at Florence upon the model of Borgognone. He long resided at Venice, where, in the Sala Cappello, and in different collections, he left pictures which abound in figures, ornamented with fine architecture, and varied with every kind of skirmish and military exploits. Ilario instructed several young Parmese in the art, among whom, perhaps, were Antonio Fratacci, Clemente Ruta, and more indisputably the Ab. Giuseppe Peroni. The first under Cignani became a better copyist of his master than a painter, being called pittor pratico, a mechanical hand, by Bianconi in his Guide to Milan, where, as well as in Bologna, a few of his pictures are to be seen. At Parma he was not employed in public, as far as I can learn, but for collections, in which [Pg 141]he holds a pretty high rank. Ruta was likewise educated in the academy of Cignani at Bologna. Returning to his native state, whose paintings he has described, he there entered into the service of the Infant Charles of Bourbon, as long as he remained at Parma, after which he accompanied his patron to Naples. Subsequently returning to Parma; he continued to employ himself with credit, until, near the period of his decease, he lost the use of his eyes.

The Ab. Peroni, in the first instance, repaired to Bologna, where he received the instructions of Torelli, of Creti and of Ercole Lelli. He next visited Rome, where he became pupil to Masucci; though it is probable that he was struck with the colouring of Conca and Giacquinto, who were then much in vogue, as his tints partake more or less of their verds, and other false use of colouring. For the rest he could design well, and in elegant subjects partakes much of Maratta, as we perceive from his S. Philip in S. Satiro at Milan, and from the Conception, in possession of the Padri dell' Oratorio, at Turin. In Parma his productions are to be seen at S. Antonio Abbate, where his frescos appear to advantage, and there is an altar-piece of Christ Crucified, placed in competition with Battoni and Cignaroli, and here more than elsewhere he is entitled to rank among the good painters of this last age. He adorned his native place and its academy with his pictures, and died there at an advanced age. The career of Pietro Ferrari was [Pg 142]much shorter, although he had time to produce several fine pictures for the public, besides that of his B. da Corleone in the church of the Capuchins, as well as more for private collections. He imitated the ancient manner of his school, no less than more recent styles.[32]

In Piacenza there flourished Pier Antonio Avanzini, educated by Franceschini at Bologna. He is said to have been wanting in imagination, which led him, for the most part, to copy from his master's designs. Gio. Batista Tagliasacchi, from Borgo S. Donnino, sprung from the school of Giuseppe del Sole, and displayed a fine genius for elegant subjects, which induced him to study Coreggio, Parmigianino, and Guido. He was particularly ambitious of adding Raffaello to the list, but his parents would not permit him to visit Rome. He resided and employed himself chiefly at Piacenza, where there is a Holy Family much admired in the [Pg 143]cathedral, which, in its ideal cast of features, partakes of the Roman style, and is not inferior to the Lombards in point of colouring. He was an artist, if I mistake not, of far greater merit than fortune.

Finally, the state was never in want of excellent masters in minor branches of the art. Fabrizio Parmigiano is commended by Baglioni amongst the landscape painters of his age. He was assisted by his wife Ippolita in drawing for Italian collections, and he visited a variety of places previous to his arrival at Rome, where he also adorned a few of the churches with his wood-scenes, and views, with hermits, &c. and died there at an early age. His style was, perhaps, more ideal than true, as it prevailed before the time of the Caracci; but it was spirited and diligent. There is known also one Gialdisi, of Parma, whom, from his residence in Cremona, Zaist enumerates among the professors of that school as a celebrated painter of flowers. He frequently represented them upon small tables covered with tapestry, and he added also musical instruments, books, and playing-cards, the whole depicted with an air of truth and a fine colouring, that obtained for him from such inconsiderable objects a large portion of fame. I must also record Felice Boselli of Piacenza, who became, under the direction of the Nuvoloni, a tolerable artist in figures, though he succeeded best in copying ancient pictures, even so as to deceive the eye of experienced judges by the exactness of his imitations. Following [Pg 144]the bent of his genius, he began to draw animals, sometimes with their skins, and at others, as they are exposed to view in the shambles; besides collections of birds and fishes, arranging them in order, and all coloured from the life. The palaces in Piacenza abound with them, Boselli, having survived beyond his eightieth year, and despatching them with facility and mechanically, whence all his productions are not equally entitled to esteem. Gianpaolo Pannini belonged to the Roman School, in which he both learned and taught, and in treating of which I rendered him that justice which the public admiration of his perspective views, and of his peculiar grace in small figures, seemed to require. Many fine specimens were sent from Rome to his native country, and among these the Signori della Missione possess a very rare picture, inasmuch as the figures are on a larger scale than those which he in general drew. It represents the Money Changers driven out of the Temple by our Lord; the architecture is truly magnificent, and the figures full of spirit and variety. The governor, Count Carasi, the able illustrator of the public paintings in Piacenza, declared that he was the only artist then deceased, of whom the city could justly boast. Such deficiency ought not to be ascribed to its climate, abounding as it does with genius, but to the want of a local school, a want, however, which was converted into a source of great utility to the city. If we examine the catalogue of painters who flourished there, [Pg 145]with which the Count Carasi closes his work, we shall find that, with the exception of the capitals, no other city of Italy was so rich in excellent painters belonging to every school. Had it possessed masters, they would have produced for every excellent disciple, at least twenty of only middling talent, whose works would have filled its palaces and churches, as it has happened to so many other secondary cities.

Like one university for letters, one academy for the fine arts is usually found sufficient for a single state; and in particular, where it is established, supported, and encouraged in the manner of that at Parma. It owed its origin to Don Philip of Bourbon, in 1757, the tenth year of his government; and his son, who at this time bears sway, continues to promote the interests of the institution.[33] Nothing can be better calculated to revive among us the noble genius of the art of painting, than the method there adopted in the distribution of premiums. The subject of the painting being proposed, the young artists invited to the competition are not confined to those of the state; and consequently the industry of the most able and best matured students is laid under contribution, in every place, for the service of Parma. The method of holding the assembly, the skill and integrity of the umpires, and the whole form of the decision, excludes every doubt or suspicion respecting [Pg 146]the superiority of the piece adjudged. The artist is largely remunerated; but his highest ambition is gratified in having been pronounced the first among so many competitors, and before such an assemblage. This is of itself always sufficient to raise the successful candidate above the common standard, and often leads to fortune. The prize painting assumes its perpetual station in one of the academic halls, along with the favourite pieces of previous years, forming a series which already excites a warm interest among the lovers of the fine arts. Since the period when the Cortona manner began[i] to lose ground in Italy, a manner that, under such a variety of names and sects, had usurped so wide a sway, the art in our own times has approached a sort of crisis, which as yet forms an essay of new styles, rather than any prevailing one characteristic of this new era. It is in such a collection, better than in any book, that we may study the state of our existing schools; what maxims are now enforced; what kind of imitation, and with how much freedom, is allowed; from what source we are to look for a chance of recovering the ancient art of colouring; what profit painting has derived from the copies of the best pictures published in engravings, and from the precepts of the masters communicated through the medium of prints. I am aware that a variety of opinion is entertained on this head, nor would my own, were I to interpose it, give weight to any of the conflicting arguments in this matter. But I [Pg 147]am happy to say, that finding at length appeals made to reason, which were formerly referred to practice, I feel inclined rather to indulge hopes than doubt or diffidence in regard to the future.

[28] See Lettere Pittoriche, tom. i. p. 211.

[29] Bellori, in his Life of Annibal, pp. 34, 35. See also Malvasia, tom. i. pp. 334, 404, 405, 442. And Orlandi under the head Gio. Batt. Trotti.

[30] By Malvasia, tom. i. p. 517, he is called Sisto Rosa.

[31] Malvasia, tom. i. p. 212.

[32] I wish here to offer a brief tribute to the merit of his deceased master, (he died two years since) who, though a native of Pavia, resided a long period at Parma. He studied in Florence under Meucci, next at Paris, where one of his pictures was greatly applauded, and the artist elected to a place in that distinguished academy of art. On his return he became first painter to the court at Parma, and produced works no less than pupils calculated to reflect credit on his country. His Prometheus freed by Hercules, placed at the academy, his large portrait-piece of the family of Philip, Duke of Parma, which is pointed out in the Guardarobas as his best specimen, fully justify the reputation he enjoyed while living, and which continues beyond the tomb. The name of this artist was Giuseppe Baldrighi, and he died at Parma, aged eighty years.

[33] The professors who reflect credit upon it are enumerated by P. Aff˛ in the works cited in this chapter.

[Pg 148]




The Ancients.

I have never perused the history of Bernardino, and the rest of the pictoric family of the Campi, written some time since by Baldinucci, and more recently by Giambatista Zaist, without thinking that I see in the school which these artists established at Cremona, a sketch of that which was subsequently formed by the Caracci in Bologna. In both these cities a single family projected the formation of a new style of painting, which should partake of all the Italian schools, without committing plagiarism against any; and from each family in its respective city sprung a numerous series of excellent masters, who partly by themselves and partly by means of their disciples, adorned their country with their works, the art by their example, and history itself with their names. Why the Cremonese School did not keep pace with that of Bologna in reputation, nor continue so long as the Caracci's, and why the latter completed in a manner what the other only essayed, was occasioned by a variety of causes which [Pg 149]I shall gradually explain in the course of the present chapter. In the outset, agreeably to my usual plan, I mean to investigate the origin and principles of this school, nor shall we need to go farther back than the foundation of the magnificent cathedral in 1107, which as speedily as possible was decorated with all that sculpture and painting could afford. Its specimens of both are such as to gratify the eye of the antiquary, who may wish to trace through what channels, and by what degrees, the arts first began to revive in Italy. The sculpture there does not indeed present us with any works that may not likewise be found in Verona, in Crema, and other places; whereas the paintings remaining in the ceiling of the two lateral naves, may be considered uniques, and deserve the trouble of examining them more nearly, on account of the smallness of the figures and the want of light. They consist of sacred histories; the design is extremely dry, the colours are strong, and their drapery wholly novel, except that some of them still continue to be seen in the modern masks and theatres of Italy. Some specimens of architecture are introduced, presenting only right lines, like what we see in our oldest wood engravings, and explanations are also inserted, indicating the principal figures, in the manner of the more ancient mosaic-workers, when the eye, yet unaccustomed to behold pictoric histories, required some such illustration of the subject. Yet we can gather no traces of the Greek mosaics; the whole is Italian, [Pg 150]national, and new. The characters leave us in doubt whether we ought to ascribe them to the age of Giotto, or to that preceding him, but the figures attest that their author was indebted neither to Giotto nor his master for what he knew. I can learn nothing of his name from the ancient historians of the school, neither from Antonio Campi, Pietro Lamo, nor Gio. Batista Zaist, whom I have already cited, and who compiled two volumes of memoirs of the old artists of Cremona, edited by Panni in the year 1774.

I may, however, safely assert that there were painters who flourished in the Cremonese as early as 1213; for on occasion of the city obtaining a victory over the people of Milan, the event was commemorated in a picture, in the palace of Lanfranco Oldovino, one of the leaders of the Cremonese army, and for this we have the testimony of Flameno in his History of Castelleone.[34] There is also recorded by the Ab. Sarnelli, in his "Foreigner's Guide to Naples," as well as by the Can. Celano, in the "Notices of the Beauties of Naples," a M. Simone of Cremona, who, about 1335, painted in S. Chiara, and is the same mentioned by Surgente, author of the "Naples Illustrated," as Simon da Siena, and by Dominici as Simone Napolitano. In a former volume I adhered to the opinion of Dominici, inasmuch as he cites Criscuolo and his archives; but let the authority rest with them. Other names might be added, which Zaist has in part collected [Pg 151]from MSS., and in part from published documents, such as Polidoro Casella, who flourished about 1345, Angelo Bellavita in 1420, Jacopino Marasca, mentioned in 1430, Luca Sclavo, named by Flameno, subsequent to 1450, among excellent painters, and among the friends of Francesco Sforza, besides Gaspare Bonino, who became celebrated about the year 1460. Hence it may be perceived that this school was not destitute of a series of artists, during a long period, although no specimens of their art survive to confirm it.

The earliest that is to be met with bearing a name and certain date, is a picture which belonged to Zaist, representing Julian (afterwards the saint) killing his father and mother, whom he mistakes for his wife and her paramour. Below the couch on which they are found, are inscribed the two following verses:

Hoc quod ManteneŠ didicit sub dogmate clari,

Antonii CornŠ dextera pinxit opus.—mcccclxxviii.

The name of Antonio della Corna is handed down to us by history, and from this monument he is discovered to have been a pupil of Mantegna, and a follower of the first rather than the second style of his master. But he does not appear to have flourished a sufficient time, or he was not in repute enough to have a place among the painters of the cathedral, in the fourteenth century, who left there a monument of the art that may vie with the Sistine chapel; and if I mistake not the figures of those ancient Florentines are more correct, those [Pg 152]of the cathedral more animated. There is a frieze surrounding the arches of the church, divided into several squares, each of which contains a scriptural history painted in fresco. Upon this work a number of Cremonese artists, all of high repute, were successively employed.

The first in this list, subscribed in one of these compartments, Bembus incipiens, and in the other compartment 14— ... under his paintings of the Epiphany and the Purification. The remaining figures after the above, have long been concealed by a side wing of the organ. But the sense is very clear, the name and the date of the centuries appearing together; nor are we at a loss to perceive that the artist, in an undertaking to be conducted by many, and during many years, was desirous of commemorating his name, as the first who commenced it, and in what year. Some, nevertheless, have wished to infer, by detaching the words Bembus incipiens from the rest, that the artist meant to inform us he was then first entering upon his profession; as if the people of Cremona, in the decoration of their finest temple, which was long conducted by the most celebrated painters, would have selected a novice to begin. It is, however, a question whether the inscription refers to Bonifazio Bembo, or to Gianfrancesco his younger brother; but apparently we ought to give it, with Vasari, to the former, a distinguished artist who was employed by the court of Milan as early as 1461, while Gio. Francesco flourished later, as we [Pg 153]shall shortly have occasion to shew. In the two histories with which Bembo commenced his labours, as well as in those that follow, he shews himself an able artist, spirited in his attitudes, glowing in his colours, magnificent in his draperies, although still confined within the sphere of the naturalists, and copying from the truth without displaying much selection, if he does not occasionally transgress it by want of correctness. Both our dictionaries of artists and Bottari have confounded this Bonifazio with a Venetian of the same name, whom we have mentioned in his place.

Opposite to those of Bembo is a painting, a history of the Passion, representing our Redeemer before his judges, painted by Cristoforo Moretti,[35] the same, according to Lomazzo, who was employed with Bembo in the court of Milan, and also painted at the church of S. Aquilino. One of his Madonnas is still to be seen there, seated amid different saints, and upon her mantle I was enabled to decipher, Christophorus de Moretis de Cremona, in characters interweaved in the manner of gold lace. Cremonese writers call him the son of Galeazzo Rivello, and father and grandfather to several other Rivelli, all artists, Moretti being only an assumed appellation. From the inscription I have adduced, there appears some difficulty in the way of such a tradition, since de Moretis is an expression importing a family name, not an acquired one. Whatever may be thought on this head, it [Pg 154]is certain that he was one of the reformers of the art in Lombardy, and particularly in the branches of perspective and design; and in this history of the Passion, in which he excluded all kind of gilding, he is seen to approach the moderns.

Somewhat later, and not before 1497, Altobello Melone and Boccaccio Boccaccino, two Cremonese artists, were employed in completing the frieze of the cathedral. The former, according to Vasari, painted several histories of the Passion, truly beautiful and deserving of commendation. But he was the least consistent in point of style, introducing, as it has been observed, figures of small and large proportions in the same piece, and also least excellent in his frescos, colouring them in a manner that now gives them the look of tapestry. But he excelled in his oil paintings, as we gather from his altar-piece of Christ descending into Limbo, which is preserved in the sacristy of the Sacramento, a piece for which the canons refused to receive a large sum that was offered for it. The figures are very numerous, of somewhat long proportions, but coloured with equal softness and strength. His knowledge of the naked figure is beyond that of his age, combined with a grace of features and of attitudes that conveys the idea of a great master. In the Notizia of Morelli, his picture of Lucretia, painted for private ornament, is mentioned. It is executed in the Flemish style, and he is said to have been the pupil of Armanino, perhaps an artist of that nation.

[Pg 155]Boccaccio Boccaccino bears the same character among the Cremonese as Grillandaio, Mantegna, Vannucci, and Francia, in their respective schools, the best modern among the ancients, and the best of the ancients in the list of the moderns. He had the honour of instructing Garofolo during two years previous to his visiting Rome in 1500. In the frieze of the cathedral, Boccaccino painted the Birth of the Virgin, along with other histories, relating to her and the Divine Infant. The style is in part original, and in part approaches that of Pietro Perugino, whose pupil Pascoli says he was. But he is less regular in his composition, less beautiful in the air of his heads, and less powerful in his chiaroscuro, though richer in his drapery, with more variety of colours, more spirit in his attitudes, and scarcely less harmonious or less pleasing in his architecture and landscape. He is, perhaps, least attractive in some of his figures, which are somewhat coarse, owing to their having a fulness of drapery, and not being sufficiently slender, a defect carefully avoided by the ancient statuaries, as I have formerly observed.[36] It is remarked by Vasari that he visited Rome, in which I agree with him, both because it is in some degree alluded to by Antonio Campi, and because there are evident traces of his imitation of Pietro, as in his Marriage of the Virgin Mary, and in a very magnificent temple, that appears erected upon lofty steps, [Pg 156]a subject repeated by Pietro several times. It has been also noticed that his Madonna at S. Vincenzo, with the titular Saint and S. Antonio, seems like the work of Vannucci, and he certainly approaches very near him in other figures. I can easily believe, therefore, that Boccaccino[j] was at Rome; but I also believe that what is written of him by Vasari and by Baldinucci, if not fictitious, is at least wide of the mark.

Let us briefly examine this matter. It is said that he there attempted to depreciate the works of Michelangiolo, and that after exhibiting his own productions at the Traspontina, which met with ridicule from the Roman professors, in order to escape from the hisses they excited on all sides, he was compelled to return to his native place. This story, added to others of a like nature, irritated the Lombard artists. Hence Scanelli in his Microcosm, Lamo in his Discourse on Painting, and Campi in his History, renewed the complaints of the other schools against Vasari. These are recorded by Zaist (p. 72) with the addition of his own refutation of this account. The refutation rests upon the epochs which Vasari himself points out, and which of themselves, say his opponents, afford a decided negative to the story of Boccaccino's journey to Rome in time to have cast reflections upon the paintings of Michelangiolo. It is the custom of less accurate historians, when they give the substance of a fact, to add to it circumstances [Pg 157]of time, of place, or of manner, that had really no existence. Ancient history is full of such examples, and the severest criticism does not presume to discredit facts on the strength of some interpolated circumstance, provided there be others sufficiently strong to sanction them. In this instance, the historian, and a great friend of Michelangiolo, narrates an affair relating to that friend, and which is supposed to have taken place at Rome, only a short period before the author wrote. We can hardly then believe it to have been a mere idle report without any foundation in truth. I would reject indeed some of its accessaries, and in particular condemn those unwarranted reflections in which Vasari indulges at the expense of one of the most distinguished artists who at that time flourished in Lombardy.

Next to the four historical paintings just mentioned, follow those conducted by Romanino di Brescia and by Pordenone, two master spirits of their age, who left examples of the Venetian taste at the cathedral, which were not neglected by the Cremonese, as will be seen. We ought in justice to add, that their city has always shewn a laudable wish to preserve these ancient productions from the effects of age, as far as in her power. When towards the close of the sixteenth century they began to exhibit marks of decay, they were instantly ordered to be examined and restored by a painter and architect of some reputation, called Il Sabbioneta, his real name being Martire Pesenti. [Pg 158]The same degree of care and attention has been shewn them in the present day by the Cav. Borroni.

Two other citizens exhibited specimens in the same place, of the style which is now called antico moderno. Alessandro Pampurini, as it is said, drew some figures of cherubs, round a cartellone, or scroll for inscriptions, together with a kind of arabesques, bearing the date of 1511; and in the subsequent year Bernardino Ricca, or Ricco, produced a similar work opposite to it, which owing to its having been executed with too much dryness, perished in a few years, and was renewed by a different hand. But there still exists his picture of a PietÓ at S. Pietro del Po, with some specimens likewise by his companion, sufficient to prove that both are worthy of commemoration for their time.

Having thus described the series of artists who decorated the cathedral, there remain a few other names unconnected with that great undertaking, but which, nevertheless, enjoyed considerable celebrity in their day. Such are Galeazzo Campi, the father of the three distinguished brothers, and Tommaso Aleni. This last so nearly resembled Campi in his manner, that their pictures can with difficulty be distinguished, as may be seen at S. Domenico, where they painted in competition with each other. It is loosely conjectured by many that they were the pupils of Boccaccino, an opinion which I cannot entertain. The disciples of the best masters in the fourteenth century continued [Pg 159]to free themselves, the longer they flourished, from the dry manner of their early education. Galeazzo, on the other hand, the only one we need here mention, approaches less closely to the modern style than his supposed master, as we perceive in the suburban church of S. Sebastiano, where he painted the tutelar saint and S. Rocco standing near the throne of the Virgin with the Infant Christ. The picture bears the date of 1518, when he was already a finished master, and nevertheless he there appears only a weak follower of the Perugino manner. His colours are good and natural, but he is feeble in chiaroscuro, dry in design, cold in his expression; his countenances have not a beam of meaning, while that of the holy infant seems as if copied from a child suffering under an obliquity of the eyes, those of the figure are so badly drawn. The observation, therefore, of Baldinucci, or of his continuator, that he "had rendered himself celebrated even beyond Italy," would seem in want of confirmation; nor do I know whence such confirmation can be derived. Certainly not from the ancients, for even his own son Antonio Campi only remarks of Galeazzo, that he was "a tolerable painter for his age."

Nor did some others of Galeazzo's contemporaries rise much above mediocrity. To this class belonged Antonio Cigognini and Francesco Casella, a few of whose productions remain in their native place; Galeazzo Pesenti, called Il Sabbioneta, a painter and sculptor; Lattanzio of Cremona, [Pg 160]who having painted at the school of the Milanese in Venice, has been recorded by Boschini in his Miniere della Pittura, besides Niccolo da Cremona, who was employed, according to Orlandi, in 1518 at Bologna. There are two, however, who merit a larger share of consideration, having produced works of a superior character which still exist, and belong in some degree to the golden period of the art. The name of the first is Gio. Batista Zupelli, of whom the Eremitani possess a fine landscape with a Holy Family. His taste, although dry, is apt to surprise the eye by its originality, and attracts us by a natural and peculiar grace, with which all his figures are designed and animated, as well as by a certain softness and fulness of colouring. If Soiaro had not acquired the principles of his art from Coreggio, we might suppose that this Zupelli had instructed him in regard to the strong body of his colouring, which is remarkable both in him and in his school. The second is Gianfrancesco Bembo, the brother and disciple of Bonifazio, highly commended by Vasari, if, indeed, he be, as is supposed, the same Gianfrancesco, called Il Vetraro, who is recorded by the historian in his Life of Polidoro da Caravaggio. It appears certain that he must have visited Lower Italy, from the style which he displays in one of his altar-pieces, representing saints Cosma and Damiano, at the Osservanti, to which his name with the date of 1524 is affixed. I have not observed any thing in a similar taste, either in [Pg 161]Cremona or in its vicinity. It retains very slight traces of the antique, much as may be observed in those of F. Bartolommeo della Porta, whom he greatly resembled in point of colouring, however inferior in the dignity of his figures and his draperies. A few more of his specimens are met with in public places and the houses of noblemen, which exhibit him as one of those painters who added dignity to the style of painting in Lombardy, and improved upon the ancient manner.

[34] See Zaist, p. 12.

[35] See Lomazzo, Treatise on Painting, p. 405.

[36] Chapter iii.

[Pg 162]



Camillo Boccaccino, Il Soiaro, The Campi.

After the time of Vetraro, nothing occurs worthy of putting on record until we reach the moderns; and here we ought to commence with the three distinguished artists, who, according to Lamo, were employed in Cremona in the year 1522. These were Camillo Boccaccino, son of Boccaccio, Soiaro, recorded in the preceding chapter, and Giulio Campi, who subsequently became the head of a numerous school. Other Cremonese artists, it is true, flourished about the same period, such as the two Scutellari, Francesco and Andrea, who have been referred by some writers to the state of Mantua; but as few of their works remain, and those of no great merit, we shall proceed at once to the great masters of the school whom we have mentioned above. The grand undertaking of the cathedral proved useful likewise in the advancement of these artists, and in particular the church of S. Sigismondo, already erected by Francesco Sforza at a little distance from the city, where these artists and their descendants, painting as it were in competition, rendered it a noble school for the fine arts. We may there [Pg 163]study a sort of series of these artists, their various merit, their prevailing tastes in the Coreggio manner, their different style of adapting it, and their peculiar skill in fresco compositions. With these they not only decorated temples, but by applying them to the fašades of palaces and private houses they gave an appearance of splendour to the state, which excited the admiration of strangers. They were surprised, on first entering Cremona, to behold a city arrayed as if for a jubilee, full of life, and rich in all the pride of art. Strange then that Franzese, who wrote the Lives of the best painters (in four volumes) should have compiled nothing relating to the Cremonese, far more deserving of commemoration than many others in his collection whom he has greatly praised.

Camillo Boccaccino was the leading genius of the school. Grounded in the ancient maxims of his father, though his career was short, he succeeded in forming a style at once strong and beautiful, insomuch that we are at a loss to say which is the prevailing feature of his character. Lomazzo pronounces him, "very able in design, and a noble colourist," placing him, as a model for the graceful power of his lights, for the sweetness of his manner, and for his art of drapery, on a level with da Vinci, Coreggio, Gaudenzio, and the first painters in the world. According to the opinion of Vasari, against whom the Cremonese have so bitterly inveighed, Camillo was "a good mechanical hand, and if he had flourished for a longer period [Pg 164]would have had extraordinary success, but he produced few works except such as are small, and of little importance." In respect to his paintings at S. Sigismondo, he adds, not that they are, but are only "believed by the Cremonese to be, the best specimens of the art they have to boast." They are still to be seen in the cupola, in the grand recess, and on the sides of the great altar. The most distinguished pieces are the four Evangelists in a sitting posture, excepting the figure of S. John, who, standing up in a bending attitude, with an expression of surprise, forms a curved outline opposed to the arch of the ceiling, a figure greatly celebrated, no less on account of the perspective than the design. It is truly surprising how a young artist who had never frequented the school of Coreggio, could so well emulate his taste, and carry it even farther within so short a period; this work, displaying such a knowledge of perspective and foreshortening, having been executed as early as the year 1537.

The two side pictures are also highly celebrated, both in Cremona and abroad. One of these represents the Raising of Lazarus, the other the Woman taken in Adultery, both surrounded with very elegant ornaments, representing groups of cherubs, which are seen in the act of playing with the mitre, the censer, and other holy vessels in their hands. In these histories, as well as in their decorations, the whole of the figures are arranged and turned in such a way, as scarcely to leave a [Pg 165]single eye in the figures visible, a novelty in respect to drawing by no means to be recommended. But Camillo was desirous of thus proving to his rivals that his figures were not, as they asserted, indebted for their merit to the animated expression of the eyes, but to the whole composition. And truly in whatever way disposed, they do not fail to please from the excellence of the design, their fine and varied attitudes, the foreshortening, the natural colouring, and a strength of chiaroscuro which must have been drawn from Pordenone, and which makes the surrounding paintings of the Campi appear deficient in relief. Had he exhibited a little more choice in his heads of adults, with a little more regularity in his composition, there would, perhaps, have been nothing farther to desire. We may, moreover, mention his painting on a fašade in one of the squares of Cremona, where, not long ago, were to be seen the remains of figures which Camillo executed so as to excite the admiration of Charles V. and obtain the highest commendations. There remain likewise two of his altar-pieces, one at Cistello and the other at S. Bartolommeo, both extremely beautiful.

The name of Bernardino, or Bernardo Gatti, for he subscribed both to his pictures, was mentioned at length among the pupils of Parma; and I have now to record it among the best masters of Cremona. Both Campi and Lapi refer him without scruple to Cremona, though he is given by others to Vercelli, and supposed to be the same [Pg 166]Bernardo di Vercelli who succeeded Pordenone in painting S. Maria di Campagna at Piacenza, as we find related in Vasari. By others he is supposed again to have come from Pavia, where he was employed in the cupola of the cathedral, and according to the testimony of Count Carasi, mentioned before with commendation, he there subscribed his name Bernardinus Gatti Papiensis, 1553. I leave the question to others, though it seems hardly credible that two contemporary historians, who wrote shortly after the death of Bernardino, while the public recollection of his native place must have been yet fresh, and ready to refute them, should have each fallen into error. We might add that Cremona is in possession of many of Soiaro's paintings from his earliest age until he became an octogenarian, and owing to a paralytic affection was in the habit of painting with his left hand. At that advanced period he produced for the cathedral his picture of the Assumption, fifty hands in height, and which, although he never lived to complete it, is a work, as is justly observed by Lamo, that excites our wonder. Moreover he left his possessions and a family at Cremona, from which sprung two artists deserving of record, one of whom is celebrated in history, the other never before noticed. As there still remains some degree of foundation for attributing him to Pavia, upon the authority also of Spelta, who wrote the Lives of the Pavese Bishops, and was almost contemporary with Bernardino, and what is more, he himself thinks that the difference might be thus [Pg 167]reconciled, we may agree with him in stating that our artist was either derived from, or a citizen of Pavia, and at the same time a citizen and a resident at Cremona.

Gervasio Gatti, Il Soiaro, nephew to Bernardino, was initiated by him in the same maxims and principles which he had himself imbibed, by studying and copying the models left by Coreggio at Parma. The advantage he derived from them may be known from his S. Sebastiano, which was painted for S. Agatha, at Cremona, in 1578, a piece that appears designed from the antique, and coloured by one of the first figurists and landscape painters in Lombardy. In the same city is his Martyrdom of S. Cecilia, at S. Pietro, surrounded with angels, in the Coreggio manner, a picture nobly coloured, and finished with exquisite care. In composition it resembles those of his uncle, for one of which it might be mistaken, did we not find the name of Gervasio and the date of 1601. But he was not always equally diligent, and sometimes betrays a mechanical hand, while there is often a monotony in his countenances, and a want of selection in his heads, no unusual fault in portrait-painters, among whom he held a high rank. It is most probable that he saw the works of the Caracci, traces of which I have discovered in some of his productions, and particularly in those at S. S. Pietro and Marcellino. Perhaps it was a brother of this artist who left a picture of a Crucifixion, surrounded by different saints, at S. Sepolcro in Piacenza, [Pg 168]bearing an inscription of Uriel de Gattis dictus Sojarius, 1601. It boasts great strength of colouring, combined with no little elegance, but the manner is insignificant and it is feeble in chiaroscuro. This, if I mistake not, is the same Uriele who, on the testimony of the Cav. Ridolfi, had been selected for some undertaking at Crema in preference to Urbini, as I formerly observed. Bernardino likewise instructed Spranger, a favourite artist of the Emperor Rodolph II. as well as the Anguissole, of both of whom we shall give some account shortly. What more peculiarly distinguishes him is his title to be considered the great master of the Cremonese School, which, benefitted by his presence and guided by his precepts and examples, produced during so long a period such a variety of admirable works. To speak frankly what I think, Cremona would never have seen her Campi, nor her Boccaccino rise so high, if Soiaro had not exhibited his talents in that city.

The remaining portion of our chapter will be devoted almost wholly to the Campi, a family that filled Cremona, Milan, and other cities of the state, both in private and public, with their paintings. They consisted of four individuals, all of whom devoted themselves indefatigably to the art until they reached an extreme old age. They were by some denominated the Vasari and the Zuccari of Lombardy, a comparison founded on some degree of truth in regard to the extent and the vast mechanism of their compositions; but not just, as [Pg 169]far as intended to be applied to any desire of achieving much, rather than what was excellent in its kind. Giulio and Bernardino, the most accomplished of their family, were accused of too great rapidity and want of accuracy; but they are not very often liable to the charge, and many of their faults must be ascribed to their assistants. They generally produced good designs, which were invariably well coloured, and these still remain entire, while those of Vasari and Zuccari stand in need of continual restoration and retouching from the fading of their colours. Of both these masters, however, as well as the rest of the Campi, we must now proceed to treat in their individual character.

Giulio may be pronounced the Lodovico Caracci of his school. The eldest brother of Antonio and Vincenzo, and the relation, or the instructor at least, of Bernardino, he formed the project of uniting the best qualities of a number of styles in one. His father, who was his first preceptor,[37] not conceiving himself equal to perfecting him in the art, sent him to the school of Giulio Romano, established at that period in Mantua, and which had begun, according to Vasari, to propagate the taste imbibed by its master from the most distinguished ornament of the art. Romano, too, instructed his pupils in the principles of architecture, painting, [Pg 170]and modelling, and rendered them capable of directing and conducting all the branches of a vast and multiplied undertaking with their own hands. Such an education was enjoyed by the eldest Campi, and by his brothers, owing to his care. The church of S. Margherita was wholly decorated by him; and the chapels at S. Sigismondo were all completed by him and his family. They contain almost every variety of the art, large pictures, small histories, cameos, stuccos, chiaroscuros, grotesques, festoons of flowers, pilasters, with gold recesses, from which the most graceful forms of cherubs seem to rise with symbols adapted to the saint of the altar; in a word, the whole of the paintings and their decorations are the work of the same genius, and sometimes of the same hand. This adds greatly to their harmony and in consequence to their beauty, nothing in fact being truly beautiful that has not perfect unity. It is a real loss to the arts that these various talents should be divided, so as to compel us to seek a different artist for works of different sorts; whence it arises that in a number of halls and churches we meet with collections, histories, and ornaments of every kind, so extremely opposite, that not only one part fails to remind us of the other, but sometimes repels it, and seems to complain of its forced and inharmonious union. But we must again turn our attention to Giulio Campi.

It appears then that he laid the foundation of his taste and principles under Giulio Romano. [Pg 171]From him he derived the dignity of his design, his knowledge of anatomy, variety and fertility of ideas, magnificence in his architecture, and a general mastery over every subject. To this he added strength when he visited Rome, where he studied Raffaello and the antique, designing with a wonderful degree of accuracy the column of Trajan, universally regarded as a school of the ancients always open to the present day. Either at Mantua or elsewhere he likewise studied Titian, and imitated him in an equal degree with any other foreign artist. In his native state he met with two more models in Pordenone and Soiaro, in whose style, according to Vasari, he exercised himself, before he became acquainted with the works of Giulio. From such preparatory studies, combined with imitating whatever he met with in Raffaello and Coreggio, he acquired that style which is found to partake of the manner of so many different artists. On visiting the church of S. Margherita just alluded to, in company with an able professor of the art, we there noticed several of his heads, each drawn after a different model, insomuch that on viewing the works of this artist we feel inclined to pronounce the same opinion on him, as Algarotti did on the Caracci, that in one of their pictures one kind of taste prevails, and in another an opposite manner. Thus in his S. Girolamo, in the cathedral at Mantua, and in his Pentecost at S. Gismondo in Cremona, we meet with all the strength of Giulio, though his most successful [Pg 172]imitation is to be found in the castle of Soragno in the territory of Parma, where he represented the labours of Hercules in a grand hall, which might be pronounced an excellent school for the study of the naked figure. In the larger picture at the church of S. Gismondo, where the duke of Milan is seen with his duchess in the act of being presented by the patron saints to the Holy Virgin, and also in that of saints Pietro and Marcellino at the church bearing their name, Campi displays so much of the Titian manner as to have been mistaken for that artist. One of his Histories of the Passion, in the cathedral, representing Christ before Pilate, was also supposed to be from the hand of Pordenone, though ascertained to be his. Finally in a Holy Family, painted at S. Paolo in Milan, particularly in the figure of the child seen caressing a holy prelate, who stands lost in admiration, we are presented with all the natural grace, united to all the skill that can be required in an imitator of Coreggio. The picture is exquisitely beautiful, and an engraving of it in large folio was taken by Giorgio Ghigi, a celebrated artist of Mantua.

Nor did Giulio's admiration of great painters lead him to neglect the study of nature. It was nature he consulted, and selected from; a study which he inculcated likewise upon the rest of the Campi. A choice is thus perceptible in their heads, more especially in those of their women, evidently drawn from nature, and I may add from [Pg 173]national truth, inasmuch as they express ideas and attitudes that are not usually met with in other artists; the hair and temples often appearing bound with a ribbon, as was then customary in the city, and is still in use in some of the villages. The colouring of the heads approaches near that of Paul Veronese, and in the whole of their paintings the Campi were accustomed to make use of the distribution of colours that had prevailed before the time of the Caracci, though in their manner of disposing and animating them they acquired a peculiar beauty which Scaramuccio pronounces wholly original. Judging, therefore, from their colours, and the air of their heads, it is difficult to discern the individual hands of the Campi; but if we examine the design we shall more easily distinguish them. Giulio surpasses the rest in point of dignity; and he likewise aims at displaying more knowledge, both of the human frame and of the effects of lights and shadows. In correctness too he is superior to his two brothers, though he is not equal to Bernardino.

The Cav. Antonio Campi was instructed by his brother in architecture and painting, in the former of which he employed himself more than Giulio. This was useful to him in the distribution of his large works, where he often introduced perspective views of great beauty, and displayed great skill in foreshortening. A fine specimen of his powers is to be seen in the sacristy of S. Pietro, with that beautiful colonnade, above which appears [Pg 174]the chariot of Elias in the distance. Antonio was also a modeller, an engraver, and the historian of his native state, whose annals, enriched with many of his copper-plates, he published in 1585. In the Campi family, therefore, he will be found to occupy the same place as Agostino among the Caracci, an artist of great versatility, conversant with polite letters. He was well known and appreciated by Agostino, who engraved one of his most beautiful productions, the Apostle of the Gentiles in the act of raising a person from the dead. It is placed at S. Paolo in Milan, a noble church, where all the Campi, in the same manner as at S. Sigismondo, are seen in competition with each other. Antonio there appears to great advantage, no less in the forementioned picture than in that of the Nativity, though the frescos adorning the chapels, ascribed to him, are deficient in accuracy. Thus he also produced works of unequal merit at S. Sigismondo, as if he wished to shew that he knew more than he was ambitious of expressing. His most familiar model, as is remarked also by Lomazzo, was Coreggio, and the feature that he most aimed at expressing was that of grace. To this he often attained in point of colouring, but was less happy in design, where, owing to his study of elegance, he at times becomes disproportionately thin, and at others, in order to display his power, he exhibits a foreshortening somewhat out of place. He is still more mannered in his more robust subjects, and occasionally borders upon [Pg 175]heaviness and vulgarity, into which his imitation of Coreggio's grandeur, more difficult, perhaps, than his grace, doubtless betrayed him. There are many of these exceptions, however, along with his incorrectness of design, so often discernible, which are to be attributed to his numerous assistants, employed in these vast undertakings. But this will not apply to his over-grouping, which is so remarkable in some of his compositions, nor to the introduction of caricatures into his holy histories, which is a sort of jesting out of season. In a word his genius was vast, spirited, resolute, but often in want of the rein; and in this respect, and generally in what relates to pictorial learning, we should do wrong to put him in competition with Lodovico Caracci.

In the church of S. Paolo, at Milan, there is an inscription by Vincenzio Campi, in which he mentions Giulio and Antonio as his younger brothers. Most probably, however, it has been inserted there by some other hand, being quite contradictory to what is established by history. For he is represented by Antonio as the youngest of the brothers, and by others as an indefatigable assistant in their labours, and little more worthy of being compared with them than Francesco Caracci with his brother Annibal or Agostino. His portraits, however, are held in esteem, as well as his fruit pieces, which he painted on a small scale for private rooms in a very natural manner, and they are by no means rare at Cremona. In the colouring of his figures [Pg 176]he was equal to his brothers, but in point of invention and design greatly inferior to them. He appears to have imitated Antonio rather than Giulio, as far as we can judge from the few works he has left, which are now known to be his. He painted a few altar-pieces for his native place, four of which consist of Descents from the Cross. That in the cathedral extorted the praise of Baldinucci; and truly in the figure of Christ his foreshortening deceives the eye like that of Pordenone in his Dead Christ, while his heads and his colouring have likewise been commended. I cannot, however, think that the attitude of the Virgin mother, who is seen grasping his face with both her hands, is very becoming; nor do I approve of the saints Antonio and Raimondo, who lived at a period so remote from that of Christ, being here introduced, the one supporting his arm, the other kissing his hand. It moreover betrays several errors, of a kind which Baldinucci, so familiar with a more learned and severe school, would not so easily have forgiven had he happened to have beheld this picture. Vincenzio seems to have possessed greater skill in small than in large figures, in common indeed with a great number of artists. Mention is made in his Life of six little pictures which he executed on slate, and which were sold after his death for three hundred ducats. Zaist, whom I follow in my index, has presented us with the epochs applying to these three artists in such a manner as to leave them in considerable doubt. The inscription [Pg 177]at S. Paolo in Milan, recorded in the Guide (p. 152) is as follows:Vincentius una cum Julio et Antonio fratribus pinxerunt an. mdlxxxviii. Now Bianconi does not seem inclined to credit the authenticity of this; nor is it improbable but it may have been written some years subsequent to the painting, and by another hand.

Bernardino Campi, perhaps some way related to the other three Campi, occupied the same place in his family as Annibal Caracci amongst his brothers. Receiving his first instructions from the eldest Campi, he entered into similar views of forming a style which should include that of many other artists, and in a short time he rivalled, and in the opinion of many surpassed his master. He had at first attached himself to the goldsmith's art by the advice of his father; but happening to behold two tapestries, copied by Giulio Campi from Raffaello, he resolved to change his profession, and devoting himself to the school of Campi at Cremona, and next to that of Ippolito Costa at Mantua, he began to profess the art at the age of nineteen, and acquired a great proficiency in it at that early age. At Mantua he cultivated an acquaintance with Giulio Romano and his school, and we may infer, that from the study of his works he was enabled to enlarge his views and his capacity for great undertakings. But the love of Raffaello was fixed in his heart, and he took delight in nothing so much as his pictures, his designs, and his engravings; while in Giulio and the rest he was only anxious to emulate those portraits [Pg 178]which appeared to him to bear some resemblance to his Raffaello. There too he applied himself to the study of Titian's series of the CŠsars, eleven in number; and after having copied them he added a twelfth in a style so perfectly consistent, as to exhibit no traces of imitation. By the liberality of one of his patrons he was enabled also to visit Parma, Modena, and Reggio, in order to become acquainted with the manner of Coreggio; and the advantage he thence derived, his pictures at S. Gismondo sufficiently display. From these first principles, with such as he studied in his native place, he derived one of the most original styles that is to be met with in the list of imitators. His imitation is never, like that of so many others, apparent to the eye, but rather resembles our poet Sannazzaro's, of the best Roman writers, who colours with them every line, but that line is still his own. In so great a variety of models, the most beloved and the most honoured, as Virgil was by Sannazzaro, was Raffaello by Bernardino; but it was unfortunate for him that he did not see Rome, and the originals which that great pictoric genius there produced. The want of this he supplied with ability, and formed for himself several maxims drawn from nature and simplicity, which serve to distinguish him from the rest of his school. By the side of the other Campi he perhaps appears the most timid artist, but the most correct; he has not the magnificence of Giulio, but he has more ideal beauty, and much more captivates the heart. He resembles [Pg 179]Antonio rather than Giulio in the length of his proportions; but not so in other points, for he occasionally borders upon dryness, as in his Assumption at the cathedral, in order to avoid falling into mannerism.

But it is the church of S. Sigismondo which inspires us with the loftiest ideas of this artist, in every view. We can imagine nothing more simply beautiful, and more consistent with the genius of the best age, than his picture of St. Cecilia, in the act of playing on the organ, while St. Catherine is seen standing near her, and above them a group of angels, apparently engaged with their musical instruments and with their voices, in pouring forth in concert with the two innocent virgins, strains worthy of Paradise. This painting, with its surrounding decoration of cherub figures, displays his mastery in grace. Still he appears to no less advantage in point of strength in his figures of the Prophets, grandly designed, for the same place; although he seems more anxious to invest them with dignity of feature and of action, than to give strength and muscle to their proportions. Above all, he shone with most advantage in the grand cupola, with which few in Italy will bear a comparison, and still fewer can be preferred for the abundance, variety, distribution, grandeur, and gradation of the figures, and for the harmony and grand effect of the whole. In this empyrean, this vast concourse of the blessed, belonging to the Old and New Testament, there is no figure that may not [Pg 180]be recognised by its symbols, and that is not seen in perfection from its own point of view, whence all appear of the natural proportion, although they are on a scale of seven braccia in height. Such a work is one of those rare monuments which serve to prove, that it is possible for a great genius to execute rapidly and well; it was wholly conducted by him in seven months; and to satisfy the workmen, who were more sensible of the brevity of the time than the merit of the work, he obtained a written acknowledgment from Soiaro and Giulio Campi, that he had achieved a laudable task. Bernardino was younger than either of them, or than Boccaccino, and the citizens took pleasure in placing him in competition with one or the other of them in their public works, in order that a noble emulation might call forth all their powers, nor suffer them to slumber. Nevertheless, the Nativity of our Lord, at S. Domenico, has been pronounced his masterpiece; a kind of abstract, in which he aimed at comprehending the various excellences of the art. This, at least, is the opinion of Lamo, who composed a diffuse life of this artist; such as to render his information far the most copious we possess upon the subject. He also compiled a correct catalogue of his works, executed both in his native place and at Milan, where he passed a great part of his time, and of those he painted in foreign parts. We find a great number of portraits of princes, as well as of private persons, enumerated; his skill in this branch of the art, in [Pg 181]which very few equalled him, greatly adding to his fame and fortune. The precise period of his decease is not known, though it must have been somewhere towards 1590, at which time the art assumed quite a new aspect at Cremona.

[37] We may here correct the mistake of Orlandi, who assigns the death of Galeazzo to the year 1536, and Giulio's birth to 1540, when it is known that he began his labours as early as 1522.

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Decline of the School of the Campi. Trotti and other Artists support it.

From the brief description already given, it will easily be perceived how far the Campi School was a sort of sketch of that of the Caracci; and what were the causes which contributed to the superiority of the latter, although they had both the same original outline. The Caracci were all excellent designers, and invariably aimed at appearing such; they were likewise united by affection, no less than by their place of residence, and were continually engaged in assisting each other. Finally, they supported an academy, much frequented, the object of which was, not so much to study the various manners of different artists, as to examine the different effects produced by nature, so as to render their works her real offspring, as it were, and not her more distant relations. The Campi, on the other hand, did not so uniformly aspire to the same excellence, nor did they reside, and unite together in forming so methodical and well-established an academy; each maintaining a separate school and residence, and teaching, if I mistake not, rather [Pg 183]how their pupils should imitate them, than how they should paint. Hence it arose, that while Domenichino, Guido, Guercino, and others of the Caracci School, distinguished themselves by their novelty and originality of manner, the scholars of the Campi were confined to the sphere of imitating, as nearly as lay in their power, the painters of their own city, either severally or in a select number. And thus, as man is every where the same, it here ensued, as in the rest of the Italian schools, that having acquired a tolerable degree of skill in imitating their predecessors, artists began to slacken their industry. The first had accustomed themselves to copy only from the life; they drew cartoons, they modelled in wax, and carefully arranged all the divisions of their folds, with every accessary; but the second contented themselves with making a few sketches, and some heads taken from nature, executing the rest of their work in a mere mechanical manner, and as they judged to be most convenient. Thus by degrees this great school degenerated, and it happened also about the same period, when the disciples of Procaccini observed the same method at Milan. From this cause, during the seventeenth century, Lombardy was filled with the sectarists of the art, among whom the followers of Zuccheri themselves would have appeared in the rank of masters. A few there were who struggled to free themselves from the herd of imitators; and Caravaggio afforded them an opportunity. Born in the vicinity of Cremona, he was [Pg 184]partly considered their compatriot, and the more willingly followed by the Cremonese; more particularly as it became popular to cry down the style of the last masters as feeble, and to demand one of a more vigorous character. The attempt succeeded admirably in a few; while others, on the contrary, as it occurred in Venice, at Cremona also became only coarse and sombre. I have not been very anxious to cultivate an acquaintance with the artists of this period; though I shall take care to make mention of such as succeeded in raising themselves above the crowd.

Each of the Campi, therefore, claims his own disciples, though they have not always been distinguished in history, being described under the general designation of pupils of the Campi; as the two Mainardi, Andrea and Marc Antonio, by Orlandi. The two pupils of Giulio, best entitled to commendation, namely, Gambara of Brescia, and Viani of Cremona, having flourished in other schools, have been recorded by us, the first among the Venetians; and the second among the Mantuan artists.

Antonio Campi has left us an account of three of his own disciples: Ippolito Storto, Gio. Batista Belliboni, and Gio. Paolo Fondulo, who passed into Sicily. All of them remained in obscurity, however, in Lombardy, and are omitted in the painters' Dictionaries. Towards the close of his life, he instructed one Galeazzo Ghidone, an artist of weak health, who employed himself only at intervals, but with [Pg 185]success; as we may judge from his picture of the Preaching of St. John the Baptist, at S. Mattia, in Cremona, which has been highly commended by good connoisseurs. Another, is Antonio Beduschi, who, in his twenty-sixth year, produced a PietÓ for S. Sepolcro, in Piacenza, and a still superior painting of the Martyrdom of S. Stefano; he is referred to the school of the Campi, and strongly partakes of the style of Antonio; I esteem him one of his imitators, if not in the list of his pupils. He was unknown to the historian Zaist, and is indebted for commemoration to the Sig. Proposto Carasi.

Luca Cattapane was initiated in the art by Vincenzio, and devoted much time to copying the works of the Campi family. He succeeded in this by exhibiting a rare boldness of hand, so as to give his pieces the air of originals, and they continue to impose upon the most experienced, even to the present day. He likewise counterfeited the style of Gambara in a PietÓ of his, at the church of S. Pietro, in Cremona; and in order to enlarge the picture, he added three figures in a taste agreeable to the former. For the rest, being misled by his ambition to form a new style, or to approach nearer Caravaggio, he became even more sombre than the Campi, with still less taste. Many of his altar-pieces yet remain. In S. Donato, at Cremona, he represented the Beheading of St. John; one of his most successful works, in which the effect is superior either to the design or to the expression. [Pg 186]To these we may add a number of his fresco paintings, though inferior to those he executed in oil.

Bernardino, however, was the favourite master, and the most frequented of any belonging to the school. His successors have continued to flourish longer, and even reached the confines of the present age. I first propose to enumerate a few of his most distinguished scholars, who either did not teach, or taught the art only to a few; and I shall afterwards treat of Malosso and his school, which, about the year 1630, held the chief sway in Cremona, and became one of the most celebrated throughout Lombardy.

Coriolano Malagavazzo, who is erroneously called Girolamo Malaguazzo, in the "Painters' Dictionary," assisted in the labours of his master, insomuch as to render it uncertain whether Cremona possesses any painting designed and executed by himself; for it is supposed that he drew his fine altar-piece, in S. Silvestro, representing the Virgin with S.S. Francesco and Ignazio, the martyr, from one of Bernardino's designs. Nothing, likewise, that has not been questioned, remains of Cristoforo Magnani da Pizzichettone, a young artist of great promise, as we are informed by Antonio Campi, who laments the shortness of his career. Lamo, too, complains of his loss, when he mentions him and Trotti as the two greatest geniuses of the school. His chief talent lay in portraits; though he was also well skilled in compositions. I have seen one of his [Pg 187]productions, consisting of Saints Giacomo and Giovanni, at S. Francesco, in Piacenza, an early effort, but very well conceived and executed. Andrea Mainardi, called Chiaveghino, employed himself both singly and with Marcantonio, his nephew, in painting for the city, and more especially for its environs. By Baldinucci, he is pronounced a weak painter; and such indeed he appears wherever he worked in haste, and for a small sum. But several of his altar-pieces, laboured with more care, tend to redeem his character; there he shews himself a successful disciple of Bernardino, both in his minute style, as in his Marriage of S. Anne, at the Eremites, and in his loftier manner, as in his large picture of the Divin Sangue, or divine blood. He exhibits that prophetic idea, torcular calcavi solus, and the Redeemer is seen standing upright under a wine-press, and, crushed by the Divine Justice, emitting from his holy body, through the open wounds, whole streams of blood, which are received into sacred vessels by S. Agostino, and three other Doctors of the church; and are afterwards shed for the benefit of an immense crowd of the Faithful, who are seen gathered round. The same subject I saw in one of the churches of Recanati, and in some others, but no where so appropriately expressed. It is a picture that would reflect credit on any school; exhibiting fine forms, rich draperies, warm and lively colouring. In the distribution of his small and frequent lights he might, indeed, have been more happy, as [Pg 188]well as in the grouping of his figures; a fault, however, common to many of his school.

The best, however, of these disciples of Bernardino, with a number of others whom I omit, were all surpassed by a fair votary of the art named Sofonisba Angussola, sprung from a noble family at Cremona. Along with her younger sister, Elena, who afterwards took the veil, she received his instructions at her father's request, in his own house. Upon his going to Milan, Soiaro was selected to supply the place of Bernardino, and Sofonisba soon attained to such a degree of excellence, more particularly in portraits, as to be esteemed one of the most finished painters of her age. She at first superintended the pictorial education of her four younger sisters, whose names were Lucia and Minerva, who died young; Europa and Anna Maria, of whom the former married, and died in the flower of her age; and of the second, likewise married, there remains no further account. Vasari bestows the highest commendations upon Sofonisba, and upon the other sisters, with whom he was acquainted at Cremona, when they were young. At that period Sofonisba had already been invited as court painter, by Philip II. into Spain, where, besides the portraits she took of the royal family and of Pope Pius IV., she painted several other princes and lords of rank, all ambitious of the same honour, insomuch that we might apply to her the words of Pliny: "Illos nobilitans quos esset dignata posteris tradere." Entering afterwards into matrimony [Pg 189]with one Moncada, she resided with him some years at Palermo, and after his death again married a gentleman of the name of Lomellino. She died at Genoa, at a very advanced age, infirm and blind; though she continued to converse and give her advice upon the art until her last moments; insomuch that Vandyck was heard to say, that he had acquired more knowledge from her, than from any one else he knew. Her portraits are greatly esteemed in Italy; and in particular, two which she took of herself; one of which is in the ducal gallery at Florence, and the other in possession of the Lomellini family at Genoa.

I next approach that celebrated pupil of Bernardino, whom I promised to mention at the close of the chapter; and this is the Cavalier Gio. Batista Trotti, who published his master's life, during his lifetime, written by Lamo. None of Campi's pupils was so much attached to him as this artist, who married his niece, and was left heir to his valuable studio. On his competing at Parma with Agostino Caracci, and being more applauded at court, it was said by Agostino, with pleasantry, that they had given him a hard bone to gnaw. Hence he acquired the surname of Malosso, which he adopted, and sometimes made use of in signing his name, besides transmitting it, as an hereditary appellation, to his nephew. Thus he converted into a source of applause, the satiric trait launched against him by Caracci, meant to convey, that the people of Parma had preferred to him an artist of [Pg 190]inferior worth. Nor indeed was Malosso his equal either in design or in solid judgment; though he could boast pictoric attractions which made him appear to advantage when opposed to other artists. He displayed little of Bernardino's taste, except in a few of his first efforts; he afterwards studied Coreggio, and, most of all, aimed at resembling Soiaro, whose gay, open, and brilliant style, varied shortenings, and spirited attitudes, he exhibited in the chief part of his works. But he carried it too far, making an extravagant display of his white and other clear colours, without sufficiently tempering them with shade, insomuch that I have heard his paintings compared to those on porcelain; while he has been accused of want of relief, or according to Baldinucci, of some degree of harshness. His heads are, however, extremely beautiful, smiling with loveliness, and of a graceful roundness, not unlike Soiaro's; though he is too apt to repeat them on the same canvass, nearly alike in features, colours, and attitude. Here his rapidity of hand alone was in fault, as he was in no want of fertility of ideas. When he pleased he could give variety to his lineaments, as we gather from his Beheading of St. John, at S. Domenico, in Cremona, as well as to his compositions; having represented at S. Francesco and at S. Agostino, in Piacenza, and if I mistake not, elsewhere, a picture of the Conception of the Virgin, in every instance abounding with fresh ideas. Nor do we often meet with any of his paintings throughout the numerous cities in which [Pg 191]he was employed, that have much resemblance in point of invention. He was equally varied in his imitations when he pleased, as appears from his Crucifixion, surrounded by saints, in the cathedral of Cremona, executed in the best Venetian taste; while his S. Maria Egiziaca driven from the Temple, to be seen at S. Pietro in the same town, partakes as much of the Roman. There is also a PietÓ of his at S. Abbondio, which shews that he was occasionally happy in catching the Caracci manner.

His most esteemed works in fresco, for which he was honoured with the title of cavaliere, were exhibited in the palace called del Giardino, at Parma. His labours in the Cupola of S. Abbondio, before-mentioned, were on a magnificent scale, though designed from Giulio Campi. But they display a mastery of hand, and strength of colouring, fully equal, if not superior, to the invention of the work. For Giulio, indeed, did not possess the same skill in varying his groups of angels as the Caracci; inasmuch as both he and his family were accustomed to arrange them like the horses we see in the ancient chariots, all drawn up in a line, or in some other manner unusual in the best schools. The Cremonese historian endeavours, in some degree, to defend Trotti from the charge of harshness, casting it upon his assistants and disciples, whose altar-pieces have been attributed to Malosso, by Baldinucci. This may be the case with some, but there are others inscribed with the name of Trotti, especially at Piacenza, which more [Pg 192]or less exhibit the same fault. Nor ought we to cast reflections upon an artist of a secondary character, on account of some errors, as these are precisely the cause of his exclusion from the rank of the very first masters.

Trotti educated a number of artists who flourished about the year 1600, devoted to his manner, although in course of time the method of preparing grounds becoming corrupted throughout Italy, and the age attached to a more sombre style of colouring, they were induced to abandon much of that clearness which forms a chief characteristic of his colouring. Baldinucci gives some account of Ermenegildo Lodi, as well as Orlandi, who could not discern which of two paintings belonged to the master, and which to the scholar. This, I conjecture, arose from painting under the eye of his preceptor, whom he assisted in many of his labours, together with his brother Manfredo Lodi. When we consult the few which he executed alone, particularly at S. Pietro, they discover nothing to have excited the jealousy of Agostino Caracci, nor to have gained for the artist the appellation of Malosso. The productions likewise of Giulio Calvi, called Il Coronaro, might be mistaken for the least perfect of those of Trotti, says Zaist, where they are not inscribed with his name. The same may be averred of two other artists, Stefano Lambri and Cristoforo Augusta, a youth of great promise, cut off in the flower of his age; and both excellent disciples of the school. These, no less than Coronaro, may be [Pg 193]seen and compared with each other in the church and convent of the Padri Predicatori, which possess specimens of each.

Of Euclide Trotti, before-mentioned, there remains in his native place no work clearly ascertained to be his, except two history-pieces of St. James the Apostle, at S. Gismondo. These too were sketched by Calvi, and completed by Euclide, with a very able imitation of his uncle Gio. Batista's style. The altar-piece of the Ascension, however, at S. Antonio, in Milan, is wholly ascribed to him; and displays much beauty, and a more serious manner than is generally to be met with in the works of the elder Malosso. No other painting is attributed to him, nor was he capable of executing many. For while yet young, he was tried and found guilty of felony against the prince. Being thrown into prison, he is there supposed to have died by poison, which was administered by his friends, in order to avoid the disgrace of a public execution. In conclusion, we must not omit the name of Panfilo Nuvolone. He was attached to Malosso, whom he imitated from the outset; but he afterwards followed a more solid and less attractive style. One of his works, which is omitted in the account of his life, is his S. Ubaldo giving his benediction to the sick, at S. Agostino, in Piacenza. Mention will be made of this painter also in the Milanese School, where he flourished, together with his two sons, Giuseppe and Carlo, who obtained the appellation of the Guido of Lombardy.

[Pg 194]



Foreign Manners introduced into Cremona.

Among the descendants of Malosso the Cremonese School continued to decline; and here, as in the instance of so many others, it was compelled to resort to foreign sources, in order to restore its somewhat aged and exhausted powers. Carlo Picenardi, of a patrician family, was the first to lead the way, an artist who had ranked among the favourite pupils of Lodovico Caracci. He was very successful in burlesque histories, and likewise exhibited to the public some of his paintings, executed for churches, which were imitated by another Carlo Picenardi, called the younger, who had formed his style in Venice and at Rome. Other artists of the city attached themselves to other schools, insomuch, that before the middle of the seventeenth century many new manners had arisen which assumed the place of more native styles. In the train of Malosso Zaist enumerates Pier Martire Neri, or Negri, a good portrait-painter and composer, though, adds the historian, he procured from a foreign source a character of more boldness and strength of shadow, at the same time adducing as [Pg 195]an instance, his great picture of the Man born Blind receiving his sight from our Saviour, which is preserved at the hospital of Cremona. He painted likewise a S. Giuseppe at the Certosa, in Pavia, a work which, if I mistake not, is superior in point of taste to the former, and there are others to be met with in Rome, where the artist's name is found among the academicians of S. Luke.

Andrea Mainardi opened school simultaneously with Malosso; and two of his pupils, Gio. Batista Tortiroli and Carlo Natali, became particularly distinguished. Both abandoned their native place, Gio. Batista going first to Rome and thence to Venice, where he formed a style which partakes most of the younger Palma, united to an evident imitation of Raffaello. Such it appears in his picture of the Slaughter of the Innocents, at S. Domenico, commendable in point of composition, and extremely well coloured. This, and a few other productions, are regarded however only as specimens of his powers, the artist dying in his thirtieth year, leaving behind him a pupil of the name of Gio. Batista Lazzaroni. This last flourished at Piacenza and in Milan, was an excellent portrait-painter, and much employed by the princes of Parma and other personages of high rank. Carlo Natali, surnamed Il Guardolino, attended the school of Mainardi, and afterwards that of Guido Reni, to which he added a long residence at Rome and Genoa, observing all that was most valuable, and exerting his own talents in the art. [Pg 196]It was while engaged in executing a frieze in the Doria palace at Genoa, that he instructed Giulio Cesare Procaccini in the principles of painting, who had previously devoted himself to sculpture, and in him he presented us with one of the most successful imitators of Coreggio. Carlo's attachment to architecture, however, permitted him to produce few specimens, which are highly esteemed in his native state, in particular his Santa Francesca Romana, painted for S. Gismondo, a piece, which if not perfect, is certainly above mediocrity.

He had a son named Giambatista, whom he instructed in both these arts; though he was desirous that he should acquire a more perfect knowledge of them under Pietro da Cortona at Rome. There he pursued his studies and left some specimens of altar-pieces, producing works upon a still more extensive scale upon his return to Cremona, where he opened school and introduced the Cortona manner, although with little success. There is a large picture of his at the P. Predicatori, displaying some skilful architecture, and in which the holy patriarch is seen in the act of burning some heretical books; nor is it at all unworthy of a disciple of Pietro. In the archives of the royal gallery at Florence I discovered, at the period I was drawing up my index, some letters addressed by Gio. Batista to the Card. Leopoldo de' Medici, one of which was written from Rome, dated 1674, wherein he states that he was then engaged in collecting notices respecting the artists [Pg 197]of his native place. Hence we may gather the real origin of their lives, as contained in the work of Baldinucci, for whom the Cardinal, who patronized him, likewise procured other materials for his history from different places. Had Zaist been informed of this he would rather have directed both his eulogies and his complaints to Natali, than to Baldinucci or his continuator. The pupils of Natali were Carlo Tassone, who became, on the model of Lovino, a painter of portraits, much admired at Turin and other courts; Francescantonio Caneti, afterwards a Capuchin Friar, and a pretty good miniature-painter in his day, and who left a fine painting in the church of his own order at Como; with Francesco Boccaccino, the last of that pictoric family, who died about the year 1760. Having familiarized himself at Rome, first with the school of Brandi, and next with that of Maratta, he acquired a manner that came into some repute in private collections, for which he employed himself more than for churches. He resembles Albano, and was fond of portraying mythological subjects. A few of his altar-pieces still adorn Cremona, which may be esteemed good for the period at which they were produced.

While the Cremonese artists left their native state in search, as we have observed, of more novel methods, a foreigner took up his residence, and not only studied, but taught at Cremona. This was Luigi Miradoro, commonly called Il Genovesino, from his native city of Genoa, whence, after being [Pg 198]initiated in the principles of his art, he appears to have gone, while young, to Cremona, towards the beginning of the seventeenth century. There he began to study the works of Panfilo Nuvolone, and afterwards formed a manner partaking of the Caracci, though neither so select nor studied, but bold, large, correct in colouring, harmonious, and productive of fine effect. This artist, equally unknown in his native place and in foreign cities, as well as passed over by Orlandi and his continuator, is nevertheless held in high repute in Lombardy, and particularly in Cremona, where his pictures adorn several churches, among which that of his S. Gio. Damasceno, at S. Clemente, has been most highly commended. The Merchants' College likewise at Piacenza possesses a very beautiful painting of a PietÓ from his hand. In all subjects he was successful, and remarkably so in those of a terrific cast. In the Casa Borri at Milan there is a piece representing a variety of punishments inflicted upon some accomplices in a conspiracy, a magnificent production of its kind. Others are to be met with, though not very frequently, in collections belonging to the above mentioned cities, on one of which I read the date of 1639.

Agostino Bonisoli was pupil to Tortiroli, and subsequently, for the space of a year, to Miradoro, though he was more indebted to his own genius than to any master, with the aid of studying excellent models, more especially that of Paul Veronese. From him he borrowed his grace and [Pg 199]spirit, his design from other artists. He painted little for churches, and Cremona possesses scarcely any other specimen than the Dialogue of S. Antonio with the tyrant Ezzelino, which is preserved at the church of the Conventuali. His portraits and history-pieces are to be met with in private houses, for the most part taken from sacred records, and intended for the decoration of rooms. Many of these passed into Germany and other foreign parts; for, having been in the service of Gio. Francesco Gonzaga, prince of Bozolo, in which he remained twenty-eight years, his paintings were frequently presented as gifts, or requested by foreigners of rank. As long as he continued in his native state he maintained an academy for the study of naked figures, in which he gave instructions to youth.

Two other artists flourished after him in Cremona, of whom their biographer observes that they must have drunk at the same fountain, from the great resemblance of their paintings, at least during a certain period, though they differed greatly in point of colouring. One is Angelo Massarotti, a native of Cremona, the other Roberto La Longe, born at Brussels, ranked among those artists who have been denominated Fiamminghi, or Flemish, in Italy, an appellation which has given rise to frequent mistakes in history. Angelo was undoubtedly pupil to Bonisoli, and though he studied many years with Cesi at Rome, where he painted at S. Salvatore in Lauro, he exhibits very little [Pg 200]of the Roman, except a more regular kind of composition than belongs to the Cremonese style. For the rest he was fonder of introducing portraits than ideal forms into his canvass, nor was he sufficiently careful to shun the faults of the naturalists; owing to which, more particularly in his draperies, he sometimes became heavy. He boasts moreover a more rich and oily colouring than was then prevalent at Rome, which gives his pictures an appearance of fulness and roundness, while it adds to their preservation. Perhaps his masterpiece is to be seen at S. Agostino, a vast production, in which the saint is represented giving rules to various religious orders, which form a body militant under his banners, and in such a crowd of figures, the ideas, the attitudes, and the draperies are all well varied.

Most probably Roberto la Longe frequented the academy of Bonisoli, and occasionally, as we have observed, conformed to the manner of Massarotti. But both there and at Piacenza, where he long resided and closed his days, he painted in a variety of styles, yet always soft, clear, and harmonious; much as if he had never ventured beyond the confines of Flanders. At times he emulates Guido, as in some histories of S. Teresa, painted for S. Sigismondo at Cremona; and in some histories of S. Antonio Martire, at Piacenza, he approaches Guercino, while at others he displays a mixture of strength, delicacy, and beauty, as in his picture of S. Saverio, in the cathedral at Piacenza, seen in the act of [Pg 201]dying, and supported by angels. His landscapes give singular attraction to his figures, though the latter might be better designed, and more gradation may be desired in his landscape, as well as in other parts of his works.

Both these last masters had for their pupil Gian Angiolo Borroni, who, being taken under the patronage of the noble house of Crivelli, was retained many years at Bologna, during the period the Creti rose into repute. Monti and Giangioseffo del Sole, to whose style he most attached himself, were then likewise flourishing at the same place. He was particularly employed in ornamenting the palaces of his patrons, who were desirous of having him with them, both at Cremona and at Milan, and in this last city he spent the best part of his life, dying very infirm in the year 1772. There too he left the chief portion of his works, some of which are upon a very large scale, distributed throughout its temples and palaces, besides others in different cities of the Milanese, more especially in his native place. In the cathedral remains his picture of S. Benedetto, in the act of offering up prayers for the city, of which he is the patron, to paint which the Cav. Borroni exerted his utmost degree of industry and art. Its success was sufficient indeed to have placed it upon an equality with the best of its age, had the draperies been folded with a degree of skill at all corresponding to the rest of the work; but in this he certainly was not happy. A little subsequent to him began to flourish Bottani, [Pg 202]an artist who has been mentioned also in the Mantuan School; for, though a native of Cremona, he resided elsewhere. Good artists continue to flourish at Cremona to this day, whose merits, however, according to my plan, I leave untouched to the judgment of posterity.

Professors of minor branches of painting were not wanting in this school, one of whom, named Francesco Bassi, who had fixed his residence at Venice, was there called Il Cremonese da' Paesi. His powers were extremely varied and pleasing, united to great polish, powerful in his shadows, warm in his airs, while he often added to his pieces figures of men and animals in a pretty correct taste. They enrich many collections both in Italy and elsewhere, and some, as we find from the catalogue published in Venice, were included in Algarotti's. We must be cautious to avoid mistaking this painter for another Francesco Bassi, also a Cremonese, who is in that city called the younger. He was a pupil of the former in the art of landscape, and although much inferior to him, is not unknown in different collections. But a still higher rank in the same class is occupied by Sigismondo Benini, a scholar of Massarotti, the inventor of beautiful methods in his landscapes, with well retiring grounds, and with all the accidents of light well portrayed. His composition is polished, distinct, and coloured with equal harmony and vigour, though to continue agreeable he ought not to have transgressed the limits of landscape; [Pg 203]for, by the addition of his figures, he diminished the value of his works.

About the same period a family, sprung from Casalmaggiore in the Cremonese, distinguished itself in the line of architectural and ornamental painting. Giuseppe Natali, the elder, impelled by his natural inclination for this art, entered upon it notwithstanding the opposition of his father, which, being at length overcome, he was permitted to visit Rome, and to remain some time at Bologna in order to qualify himself. He flourished precisely at the period which the architectural painters are fond of considering as the happiest for their art. It had very recently been improved by Dentone, by Colonna, by Mitelli, and boasted, from its attractive novelty, a number of young geniuses, whom it inspired with the dignity of masters, and with the prospect of rewards, a subject on which I shall treat more particularly in the Bolognese School. He formed a style at once praiseworthy for the architectural, and judiciously pleasing for the ornamental parts. He gratifies the eye by presenting it with those views which are the most charming, and gives it repose by distributing them at just distances. In his grotesques he retains much of the antique, shunning all useless exhibition of modern foliages, and varying the painting from time to time, with small landscapes, which he also executed well in little oil pictures, which were in the highest request. The softness and harmony of his tints extorted [Pg 204]great commendation. He did not permit his talents to remain idle, ornamenting a number of halls, chambers, chapels, and churches throughout Lombardy, often with a rapidity that appears almost incredible. He more particularly distinguished himself at San Sigismondo, and in the palace of the Marchesi Vidoni.

He had three brothers who followed in his footsteps, and all of whom he had himself instructed. Francesco, the second, approached nearest to Giuseppe in point of merit, and even surpassed him in dignity. He was employed in works on a large scale for the churches of Lombardy and Tuscany, as well as for the courts of the dukes of Massa, of Modena, and of Parma, in which city he closed his days. Lorenzo, the third, chiefly assisted his brothers, or if he had the misfortune to execute any works alone, he was rather pitied than applauded. Pietro, the fourth brother, died young and uncommemorated. There were two sons, the one of Giuseppe, the other of Francesco, who were initiated by their parents in the same art. The first, named Giambatista, became court-painter to the elector of Cologne; and the second, who bore the same name, honourably occupied a similar rank at the court of Charles, King of the two Sicilies, and in that of his son, a station in which he died. Giuseppe educated a pupil of merit in Gio. Batista Zaist, a name to which we have frequently referred. Memoirs of him were collected by Sig. Panni, both his pupil and relation. To him also [Pg 205]we are indebted for the publication of the work of Zaist, by which we have been guided in this account. It is a guide, however, not to be followed by a reader who is in haste, inasmuch as he is found to proceed very leisurely, and is very apt to go over the same ground again.

[Pg 206]




Account of the Ancients until the time of Vinci.

If in each of our pictoric schools we have adhered to the plan of tracing back the memorials of more barbarous ages, and thence proceeding to more cultivated periods, Milan more especially as the capital of Lombardy, and the court of the Lombard kings, will afford us an epoch remarkable no less for its lofty character than for the grandeur of its monuments. When Italy passed from the dominion of the Goths to that of the Longobards, the arts, which invariably follow in the train of fortune, transferred their primary seat from Ravenna to Milan, to Monza, and to Pavia. Each of these places still retains traces of the sort of design now entitled, both on account of the place and the time, Longobardic, much in the same manner as in the diplomatic science we distinguish by the same name certain characters peculiar to that age, or rather to those ages, for after the Longobards were driven from Italy, the same taste in writing and sculpture continued to flourish during a great [Pg 207]part of them. This style, as exhibited in works, both of metal and of marble, is coarse and hard beyond the example of any preceding age, and is seen most frequently and to most advantage in the representation of monsters, birds, and quadrupeds rather than of human figures. At the cathedral, at S. Michele, and at S. Giovanni in Pavia, appear some friezes over the gates, consisting of animals chained in a variety of ways to one another, sometimes in natural positions, and sometimes with the head turned behind. In the interior of the same churches, as well as in some others, we meet also with capitals, presenting similar figures, not unfrequently united to historical representations of men, differing so much from the human figure as to appear belonging to another species. The same kind of abuse of the art was practised in places under the sway of the Longobard dukes, one of which was the Friuli, which still preserves a number of these barbarous efforts. In Cividale there is a marble altar, first begun by Duke Pemmone, and completed by his son Ratchi, who lived during the eighth century. The bassi-relievi consist of Christ seated between different angels, his Epiphany, and the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin.[38] Art would appear scarcely capable of producing any thing more rude than these figures, yet whoever will be at the pains of examining the frieze on a gate at the same place, or [Pg 208]the capitals of the pillars of S. Celso at Milan,[39] works of the tenth century, will admit that it was susceptible of still greater corruption when it added absurdity to its coarseness, and produced distorted and dwarfish figures, all hands and all heads, with legs and feet incapable of supporting them. There are an infinite number of similar marbles, and of like design, at Verona and other places. To these, nevertheless, are opposed other monuments which will not permit us to admit, as a general rule, that every trace of good taste was then extinct in Italy. I might easily adduce instances, drawn from different arts, and in particular from that of working in gold, which, during the tenth century, boasted its Volvino, who produced the very celebrated altar-piece at S. Ambrogio in Milan, a work which may be pronounced equal in point of style to the finest specimens of the dittici, or small ivory altar-pieces, that the museums of sacred art can boast.

Confining myself, however, to the subject before me, we know that Tiraboschi remarked in the palace of Monza, some of the most ancient pictures belonging to those ages, while other similar reliques are pointed out at S. Michele in Pavia, although placed in too elevated a situation to permit us to form an exact judgment of them. Others yet more extensive exist in Galliano, of which a [Pg 209]description is given in the Opuscoli of P. Allegranza, (p. 193). Upon this point I may observe, that the Treatise upon Painting already mentioned, was discovered in a manuscript in the University of Cambridge to have had this title:—Theophilus Monachus (elsewhere qui et Rugerius), de omni scientiÔ artis pingendi. Incipit Tractatus Lumbardicus qualiter temperantur colores, &c. This is a convincing proof, that if painting could then boast an asylum in Italy, it must have been more particularly in Lombardy. And in the church of S. Ambrogio, just mentioned, proofs of this are not wanting. Over the Confessional is seen a ceiling in terra cotta, with figures in basso-relievo, tolerably designed and coloured, resembling the composition of the best mosaic-workers in Ravenna and in Rome, supposed to be the work of the tenth century, or thereabouts. The figures of the Sleeping Saints are also seen near the gate, which must have been painted about the same time, and were at one time covered with lime, though they have since been brought to light and very carefully preserved by the learned ecclesiastics who are entrusted with the care of the temple. The portico has also a figure of the Redeemer, with a holy man worshipping at his feet, wholly in the Greek manner; besides a Crucifixion, which, to judge from the characters, might more suitably be ascribed to the thirteenth century than to the next. I omit the mention of several figures of the Crucified Saviour and of the Virgin, interspersed [Pg 210]through the city and the state; contenting myself with referring to those of our Lady placed at S. Satiro and at Gravedona, which are of very ancient date.

From the period of these first efforts, I am of opinion that the art of painting continued to flourish throughout the state and city of Milan, though we are not fortunate enough to retain sufficient memorials of it to compile a full historical account. For little mention has been made by our oldest writers concerning the artists, except incidentally, as by Vasari in his Lives of Bramante, of Vinci, and of Carpi, and by Lomazzo, in his Treatise, and in his Temple, or Theatre[40] of Painting. As little likewise has been said by several of the more modern writers, nor that always with good authority, such as Torre, Latuada, Santagostini, whose narratives were collected by Orlandi, and inserted in his Dictionary. Some supplementary information has been supplied by Notices of the Paintings of Italy as to a variety of artists, and their exact age; and by the New Guide to Milan, truly new and unique until this period in Italy, and reflecting the highest credit upon the Ab. Bianconi, who not only points out every thing most rare in the city, but teaches us, by sound rules, how best to distinguish excellence from mediocrity and inferiority [Pg 211]in the art. To this we may add the name of the Consiglier de' Pagave, who published very interesting notices relating to this school, in the third, fifth, and eighth volumes of the new Sienese edition of Vasari. I am also enabled to furnish considerable information in addition, politely transmitted to me in manuscript by the last writer, for the present work. From these I am happy to announce we may become acquainted with the names of new masters, along with much chronological information of a sounder kind, relating to those already known, frequently derived from the Necrologio of Milan, which had been carefully preserved by one of the public functionaries of that city.

By aid of these, and other materials I have to bring forward, I prepare to treat of the Milanese School from as early a date as 1335, when Giotto was employed in ornamenting various places in the city, which, down to the time of Vasari, continued to be esteemed as most beautiful specimens of the art. Not long subsequent to Giotto, an artist named Stefano Fiorentino was invited thither by Matteo Visconti, and is celebrated as one of the most accomplished pupils of the former. But he was compelled by indisposition to abandon the work he had undertaken in that city; nor do we know that at that period he had any successor in the Giotto manner. About the year 1370, Gio. da Milano, pupil to Taddeo Gaddi, arrived there, so able an artist that his master, at his death, entrusted to him the care of his son Angiolo, and another [Pg 212]son, whom he was to instruct in a knowledge of the art. It is therefore evident that the Florentine early exercised an influence over the Milanese School. We are informed at the same time of two native artists, who, according to Lomazzo, flourished at the period of Petrarch and of Giotto. These are Laodicia di Pavia, called by Guarienti, pittrice, and Andrino di Edesia, also said to belong to Pavia, although both his name and that of Laodicia lead us to conjecture that they must have been of Greek origin. To Edesia and his school have been attributed some frescos which yet remain at S. Martino and other places in Pavia.[41] I cannot speak positively of the authors; their taste is tolerably good, and the colouring partakes of that of the Florentines of the age. Michel de Roncho, a Milanese, is another artist discovered by Count Tassi, at the same time that he gives some account of the two Nova who flourished at Bergamo. Michele is said to have assisted in their labours in the cathedral of that city, from the year 1376 to 1377, and remnants of these paintings survive, which shew that they approached nearer the composition of Giotto than the artists of Pavia. There are some pictures in Domodossola that also bring us acquainted with an able artist of Nova. They are preserved in Castello Sylva and elsewhere, and bear the following memorandum—Ego Petrus filius Petri Pictoris de NovariÔ hoc opus pinxi, [Pg 213]1370. Without, however, going farther than Milan, we there find in the Sacristy of the Conventuali, as well as in different cloisters, paintings produced in the fourteenth century, without any indication of their authors, and most frequently resembling the Florentine manner, though occasionally displaying a new and original style, not common to any other school of Italy.

Among these anonymous productions in the ancient style, the most remarkable is what remains in the Sacristy of Le Grazie, where every panel presents us with some act from the Old or the New Testament. The author would appear to have lived during the latter part of the fourteenth and beginning of the fifteenth centuries; nor is it easy to meet with any other Italian production, conducted during that age by a single artist, so abundantly supplied with figures. The style is dry, but the colouring, where it has escaped the power of the sun, is so warm, so well laid on, so boldly relieved from its grounds, that it yields in nothing to the best Venetian or Florentine pieces of the time, insomuch that whoever be the artist he is fully entitled to all the praise of originality. Another Lombard artist, formerly believed to be a Venetian, is better known. His name has been incorrectly given by Vasari, in his life of Carpaccio, and in that of Gian Bellini, as well as by Orlandi and by Guarienti, in three articles inserted in the Dictionary of art. In one article, following Vasari, he is called by Orlandi, Girolamo Mazzoni, or Morzoni, [Pg 214]and in the two others he is named Giacomo Marzone, and Girolamo Morzone, by Guarienti, a writer happier perhaps in adding to the errors and prejudices entertained about the old painters, than in correcting them. His real name is to be found upon an altar-piece which is still preserved at Venice, or in its island of S. Elena, a piece representing the Assumption of the Virgin, with the titular saint, S. Gio. Batista, S. Benedetto, and a holy Martyr, along with the following inscription—Giacomo Morazone Ó laurÓ questo lauorier. An. Dni. mccccxxxxi. The excellent critic Zanetti is persuaded, from its Lombard dialect, as well as from the fact of the artist having painted a good deal in different cities of Lombardy, as related by Vasari, that he does not belong to the Venetian, but to the Lombard School, and the more so as he took his name from Morazzone, a place in Lombardy. It is true, that granting this, there is no great sacrifice made, inasmuch as this Giacomo, who, when in Venice, was the competitor of Jacobello del Fiore, displayed little merit, at least in this picture, which cannot boast even a foot placed upon the ground according to the rules of perspective, nor any other merit that raises it much above the character of the thirteenth century.

Michelino was an artist who also retained the ancient style, and continued to the last the practice of making his figures large and his buildings small, a practice blamed by Lomazzo even in the oldest painters. He assigns to him a rank, however, [Pg 215]among the best of his age on account of his designs of animals of every kind, which he painted, says Lomazzo, wonderfully well, and of the human figure, which he executed with effect, rather in burlesque than in serious subjects; and in this style was esteemed the model of his school. He would appear likewise to have been esteemed by foreigners, as we find in the Notizia Morelli, that in the house of the Vendramini at Venice there was preserved "a small book in 4to. bound in kid-skin, with figures of animals coloured" by this artist. At a little interval, according to Pagave, we are to place the period of Agostino di Bramantino, an artist unknown to Bottari, as well as to more recent investigators of pictorial history. I apprehend that an error committed by Vasari gave rise to an additional one in the mind of Pagave, a very accurate writer. Vasari, remarking that in a chamber of the Vatican, which was subsequently painted by Raffaello, the previous labours of Pier della Francesca, of Bramantino, of Signorelli, and of the Ab. di S. Clemente, were destroyed to accommodate the former, supposes that the two first of the artists, thus sacrificed, conducted them contemporaneously under Nicholas V. about 1450. Induced by the esteem he had for the same Bramantino, he collected notices also of his other works, and discovered him to be the author of the Dead Christ foreshortened, of the Family which deceived the horse at Milan, and of several perspectives; the whole of which account is founded [Pg 216]in error, when attributed to a Bramantino, who flourished about 1450, yet the whole is true when we suppose them to have been the work of one Bramantino, pupil to Bramante, who lived in the year 1529. I cannot perceive, however, in what way the Consiglier Pagave could have detected Vasari's mistake in the Milanese works; whilst in those of the Vatican, which, according to Vasari himself, all belong to the same individual, he has taken occasion to repeat it. He had better have asserted that the historian had erred in point of chronology, in supposing that Bramantino painted under the pontificate of Nicholas V. than have ventured on the hypothesis of the existence of an ancient Bramantino, called Agostino, by whom a very beautiful work was to be seen in the papal palace, and no other specimen at Rome, at Milan, or elsewhere. I disclaim all belief then in this old artist until more authentic proofs are brought forward of his existence, and I shall be enabled to throw new light upon the subject before I conclude the present epoch.

In the time of the celebrated Francesco Sforza, and of the Cardinal Ascanio his brother, both desirous no less of enriching the city with fine buildings than these last with the most beautiful decorations; there sprung up a number of architects and statuaries, and, what is more to our purpose, of very able painters for the age. Their reputation spread through Italy, and induced Bramante to visit Milan, a young artist who possessed the noblest [Pg 217]genius, both for architecture and painting, and who, after acquiring a name in Milan, taught the arts to Italy and to the world. The former had made little progress in point of colouring, which, though strong, was somewhat heavy and sombre, nor in regard to their drapery, which is disposed in straight, hard folds, until the time of Bramante, while they are also cold in their features and attitudes. They had improved the art, however, in regard to perspective, no less in execution than in writing on the subject; a circumstance that led Lomazzo to observe, that as design was the peculiar excellence of the Romans, and colouring of the Venetians, so perspective seemed to be the chief boast of the Lombards. It will be useful to report his own words, from his Treatise upon Painting, p. 405. "In this art of correctly viewing objects, the great inventors were Gio. da Valle, Costantino Vaprio, Foppa, Civerchio, Ambrogio and Filippo Bevilacqui, and Carlo, all of them belonging to Milan. Add to these Fazio Bembo da Valdarno, and Cristoforo Moretto of Cremona, Pietro Francesco of Pavia, and Albertino da Lodi;[42] who, besides the works they produced at other places, painted for the Corte Maggiore at Milan, those figures of the armed barons, in the time of Francesco Sforza, first duke of Milan:" that is to say, between the period of 1447 and 1466.

[Pg 218]In treating of these artists, I shall observe nothing further in reference to the last four, having described those of Cremona in their own place, and not being aware that any thing more than the name of the other two survives at Milan; I say at Milan, because Pier Francesco of Pavia, whose surname was Sacchi, left, as we shall find, some fine specimens at Genoa, where he resided during some time. It is doubtful whether any altar-piece remains by the first of these, (Gio. della Valle,) it being impossible to ascertain the fact. Nor do I know of any genuine work belonging to Costantino Vaprio, though there is a Madonna painted by another Vaprio, surrounded by saints in different compartments, at the Serviti, in Pavia, with this inscription:—Augustinus de Vaprio pinxit 1498: a production of some merit.

Vincenzio Foppa, said by Ridolfi to have flourished about the year 1407, is esteemed almost the founder of the Milanese School, in which he distinguished himself during the sovereignty of Filippo Visconti, and that of Francesco Sforza. I alluded to his name in the Venetian School, to which he is referable from his being of Brescia, whatever Lomazzo may on the other hand contend. It is my wish to avoid all questions of nationality, and the compendious method of my work will be a sufficient apology in this respect, more particularly as far as relates to the names of less celebrated artists. But with the head of a school, such as Foppa, I cannot consider it a loss of time to investigate [Pg 219]his real country, in particular as the elucidation of many confused and doubtful points in the history of the art is found to depend upon this. In Vasari's Life of Scarpaccia we find it mentioned, that about the middle of the century "Vincenzio, a Brescian painter, was held in high repute, as it is recounted by Filarete." And in the life of this excellent architect, as well as in that of Michelozzo, he says, that in some of their buildings, erected under Duke Francesco, Vincenzo di Zoppa (read Foppa), a Lombard artist, painted the interior, "as no better master was to be met with in the surrounding states." Now that there was a Vincenzo, a Brescian artist, who then and subsequently flourished, and who ranked among the best artists, is proved by Ambrogio Calepino, in his ancient edition of 1505, at the word pingo. There, after having applauded Mantegna beyond all other artists of his age, he adds:—Huic accedunt Jo. Bellinus Venetus, Leonardus Florentinus, et Vincentius Brixianus, excellentissimo ingenio homines, ut qui cum omni antiquitate de picturÔ possint contendere. After so high a testimony to his merits, written, if I mistake not, while Foppa was still living, though edited after his decease, (as we noticed from the eulogy written by Boschini on Ridolfi, in its proper place); let us next attend to that found on his monument in the first cloister of S. Barnaba at Brescia, which runs as follows:—Excellentiss. ac. eximii. pictoris. Vincentii. de. Foppis. ci. Br. 1492. (Zamb. p. 32.) To these [Pg 220]testimonials I may add that from the hand of the author, which I discovered in the Carrara Gallery at Bergamo, where, on a small ancient picture, conducted with much care, and a singular study of foreshortening, extremely rare for the period, representing Christ crucified between the two Thieves, is written:—Vincentius Brixiensis fecit, 1455.—What proof more manifest can be required for the identity of one and the same painter, recorded by various authors with so much contradiction with regard to name, country, and age?

It must therefore be admitted, after a comparison of the passages adduced, that there is only a single Brescian artist in question, that he is not to be referred to so remote a period as reported, and that he could not have painted in the year 1407 of the vulgar era, inasmuch as he very nearly reaches the beginning of the sixteenth century. We may for the same reasons dismiss from history those specious accounts interspersed by Lomazzo, asserting that Foppa drew the proportions of his figures from Lysippus; that Bramante acquired the art of perspective from his writings, out of which he composed a treatise of essential utility to Raffaello, to Polidoro, and to Gaudenzio; and that Albert Durer and Daniel Barbaro availed themselves, by plagiarism, of Foppa's inventions. Such assertions, already in a great measure refuted by the learned Consiglier Pagave in his notes to Vasari,[43] first took their rise in supposing that the age of Foppa was [Pg 221]anterior to Piero della Francesca, from whom perspective in Italy may truly be said to have dated its improvement. Next to him Foppa was one of the first who cultivated the same art, as clearly appears from the little picture already mentioned at Bergamo. In Milan there are some of his works remaining at the hospital, executed upon canvass, and a martyrdom of S. Sebastiano, at Brera, in fresco, which, for design of the naked figure, for the natural air of the heads, for its draperies and for its tints, is very commendable, though greatly inferior in point of attitude and expression. I have frequently doubted whether there were two Vincenzi of Brescia, since Lomazzo, besides Vincenzo Foppa, whom, against the received opinion, he makes a native of Milan, marks down in his index a Vincenzio Bresciano, of whom I am not aware that he makes the slightest mention throughout the whole of his work. I am led to suspect, that meeting with some works bearing the signature of Vincenzio Bresciano, without the surname of Foppa, beyond the limits of Milan, the historian, fixed in his persuasion that Foppa must be a native of Milan, set down two artists of the name instead of a single one, and that this, moreover, was perhaps an old prejudice, prevailing in the Milanese School, and which Lomazzo was unable to dismiss. National errors and prejudices are always the last to be renounced. In the Notizia Morelli, a Vincenzo Bressano the elder is twice mentioned, an adjunct, which, if not [Pg 222]a surname, as it was in the instance of Minzocchi, may have arisen from some false report connected with the two Vincenzi Bresciani. Indeed we have repeatedly observed that the names of artists have been very frequently drawn, not from authentic writings, but from common report, which generally presents us with a worse account of what has been ill heard or understood.

Vincenzo Civerchio, denominated by Vasari Verchio, to which Lomazzo, who asserts him to have been a Milanese, added the surname of Il Vecchio, is an artist whom we have recorded in the Venetian School, to which he is referred as a native of Crema, though he resided at Milan and educated several excellent pupils for that school, and with the exception of Vinci is the best entitled of any master to its gratitude. Vasari, when he praises his works in fresco, considers him in no way inferior to Foppa. In his figures he was extremely studied, and admirable in his method of grouping them in the distance, so as to throw the low grounds back, and bring down the higher parts with a gentle gradation. Of this he affords a model at S. Eustorgio in some histories of S. Peter Martyr, painted for a chapel of that name, which are highly commended by Lomazzo, though they have since been covered with plaister, there remaining only from the hand of Civerchio the summits of the cupola, which we trust will enjoy a longer date.[44] Ambrogio Bevilacqua [Pg 223]is an artist known by a production at S. Stefano, representing S. Ambrogio with saints Gervasio and Protasio standing at his side. Other paintings procured for him the reputation of a fine drawer of perspective, though in the specimen here mentioned he has undoubtedly not adhered to its rules. The design, however, is such as approaches, with some slight traces of dryness, to a good style. Memorials of this artist are found as early as 1486; but of his brother Filippo, his assistant, and of Carlo, a native of Milan, mentioned by Lomazzo in the same work, I am able to find no account. There are two, however, who are referred by our already highly commended correspondent to this more remote epoch. These are Gio. de' Ponzoni, who left a picture of S. Cristoforo in a church near the city, called Samaritana, and a Francesco Crivelli, who is reported to have been the first who painted portraits in the city of Milan.

Of those who here follow, a part formed the body of painters under the government of Lodovico the Moor, during whose time Vinci resided at Milan, and others were gradually making progress during the following years, though not any wholly [Pg 224]succeeded in freeing themselves from the old style. The first on the list are the two Bernardi, as frequently also called Bernardini, natives of Trevilio in the Milanese, the one of the family Butinoni, the other of that of Zenale, both pupils of Civerchio, and his rivals both in painting and in writing. Trevilio is a territory in the Milanese, at that period included in that of Bergamo, and for this reason comprehended by Count Tassi in its school. It is also a considerable distance from Trevigi, where he took advantage of the resemblance of the name to announce one Bernardino da Trevigi, a painter and architect, who never existed. Vasari mentions a Bernardino da Trevio (he meant to say Trevilio) who, in the time of Bramante, was an engineer at Milan, "a very able designer, and esteemed an excellent master by Vinci, though his manner was somewhat harsh and dry in his pictures;" and he then cites among his other works a picture of the Resurrection at the cloister of the Grazie, which presents some beautiful foreshortenings. It is surprising how Bottari should have changed Trevio into Trevigi, and how Orlandi should have understood Vasari as writing of Butinone, when, guided by Lomazzo, at page 271, and in other parts of the treatise, it was easy to conjecture that he was there speaking of Zenale of Trevilio. He was a distinguished character, in the confidence of Vinci,[45] and in the Treatise upon Painting compared [Pg 225]with Mantegna, besides being continually referred to as an example in the art of perspective, on which, when old, in 1524, he composed a work, and put down a variety of observations. There, too, among others, he treated the question so long contested in those days, whether the objects represented small and in the distance ought to be less distinct in order to imitate nature, than those that are larger and more near, a question which he explained in the negative, contending rather that distant objects should be as highly finished and well proportioned as those more fully before the eye. This, then, is the Bernardino, so much commended by Vasari, whose opinion of this artist may be verified by viewing the Resurrection at Le Grazie, and a Nunziata at San Sempliciano, presenting a very fine piece of architecture, calculated to deceive the eye. This, however, is the best portion of the painting, as the figures are insignificant, both in themselves and in their drapery. In respect to Butenone, his contemporary, and companion also when he painted at San Pietro in Gessato, we may conclude that he displayed an excellent knowledge of perspective, since it is affirmed by Lomazzo. For the rest, his works, with the exception of a few pictures for rooms, better designed [Pg 226]than coloured, have all perished. There is a Madonna represented between some saints, which I saw in possession of the Consiglier Pagave, at whose suggestion I add to the pupils of Civerchio, a Bartolommeo di Cassino of Milan, and Luigi de' Donati of Como, of whom authentic altar-pieces remain.

At the period when these artists were in repute, Bramante came to Milan. His real name, as reported to us by Cesariani his disciple and the commentator on Vitruvius, was Donato, and he was, as is supposed, of the family of Lazzari, though this has been strongly contested in the AntichitÓ Picene, vol. x. There it is shewn, at some length, that his real country was not Castel Durante, now Urbania, as so many writers assert, but a town of Castel Fermignano. Both places are in the state of Urbino, whence he used formerly to be called Bramante di Urbino. There he studied the works of Fra Carnevale, though Vasari gives no further information respecting his education. He continues to relate that on leaving his native place he wandered through several cities in Lombardy, executing, to the best of his ability, small works, until his arrival at Milan, where, becoming acquainted with the conductors of the cathedral, and among these with Bernardo, he resolved to devote himself wholly to architecture, which he did. Before the year 1500 he went to Rome, where he entered the service of Alexander VI. and Julius II., and died there in his seventieth year, in 1514. We may here conjecture [Pg 227]that the historian gave himself very little anxiety about investigating the memoirs of this great man. Sig. Pagave has proved to be a far more accurate inquirer into the truth. Animated by his love of this quality, the soul of all history, he at once renounced the honour his country would have derived from having instructed a Bramante; nor yet has he referred to[k] him as a pupil to Carnevale, or to Piero della Francesca, or to Mantegna, like some writers cited by Signor Colucci. He has properly noticed his arrival at Milan, already as a master, in 1476, after having erected both palaces and temples in the state of Romagna. From this period, until the fall of Lodovico, that is until 1499, he remained at Milan, where he executed commissions, with large salaries for the court, and was employed as well by private persons in works of architecture, and sometimes of painting.

Cellini in his second treatise denies Bramante the fame of an excellent painter, placing him in the middling class, and at this period he is known by few in lower Italy, where he is never named in collections, though he is very generally met with in the Milanese. Cesariano and Lomazzo had already asserted the same thing, the latter having frequently praised him in his work when giving an account of his pictures both sacred and profane, in distemper and in fresco, as well as of his portraits. His general manner, he observes, much resembles that of Andrea Mantegna. Like him he had employed himself in copying from casts, which [Pg 228]led him to throw his lights with too much force on his fleshes. In the same manner also as Mantegna he covered his models with glued canvass, or with pasteboard, in order that in the curves and folds he might correct the ancients. And like him he employed for painting in distemper, a kind of viscous water, an instance of which is adduced by Lomazzo, who repaired one of the specimens. Most of Bramante's pictures in fresco, mentioned by Lomazzo and by Scaramuccia as adorning the public places in Milan, are now destroyed or defaced, if we except those that are preserved in the chambers of the Palazzi Borri and Castiglioni, which are pretty numerous. There is also a chapel in the Certosa at Pavia, said to have been painted by him. His proportions are square, and sometimes have an air of coarseness, his countenances are full, the heads of his old men grand, his colouring is very lively and well relieved from the ground, though not free from some degree of crudity. This character I have remarked in one of his altar-pieces, with various saints, and with fine perspective, in possession of the Cav. Melzi, and the same in a picture at the Incoronata in Lodi, a very beautiful temple erected by Gio. Bataggio, a native of the place, from the design of Bramante. His masterpiece, which is to be seen at Milan, is a S. Sebastiano, in that saint's church, where scarcely a trace of the style of the fourteenth century is perceptible. The Notizia Morelli points out his picture of a PietÓ, at S. Pancrazio, in Bergamo, which Pasta had [Pg 229]mistaken for one of Lotto, and mentions also his picture of the Philosophers, painted by Bramante in 1486, belonging to the same city.

He educated two pupils in Milan, whose names have survived. One of these is Nolfo da Monza, who is said to have painted from the designs furnished by Bramante, at S. Satiro and other places; an artist who, if not equal to the first painters, was nevertheless, it is remarked by Scanelli, of a superior character. In the sacristy also of S. Satiro, placed near the beautiful little temple of Bramante, are a number of old pictures, most probably from the hand of Nolfo. The other artist is Bramantino, supposed by Orlandi to have been the preceptor of Bramante, by others confounded with him, and finally discovered to have been his favourite disciple, from which circumstance he obtained his surname. His real name was Bartolommeo Suardi, an architect, and, what is more to my purpose, a painter of singular merit. In deceiving the eye of animals, he equalled the ancients, as we are acquainted by Lomazzo in the opening of his third book. During a period he followed his master; but on occasion of visiting Rome he improved his style, though not so much in regard to his figures and proportions, as in his colouring and his folds, which he made more wide and spacious. He was doubtless invited or conducted to Rome by Bramante, and there, under Pope Julius II., painted those portraits so highly praised by Vasari, and which, when about to be removed, to give [Pg 230]place to Raffaello's, were first copied at the request of Jovius, who wished to insert them in his museum. It is certain that the Vatican paintings by Bramantino do not belong to the time of Nicholas V. as we have shewn. He returned from Rome to Milan, as we are informed by Lomazzo; and to this more favourable period we may refer his production of S. Ambrogio, and that of S. Michele, with a figure of the Virgin, coloured in the Venetian style, and recorded in the select Melzi gallery, and to be mentioned hereafter. There are also some altar-pieces both designed and coloured by him, in the church of S. Francesco, which display more elevation and dignity than belonged to his age. But his chief excellence was in perspective, and his rules have been inserted by Lomazzo in his work, out of respect to this distinguished artist. He likewise holds him up as a model, in his picture of the Dead Christ between the Maries, painted for the gate of S. Sepolcro, a work which produces a fine illusion; the legs of the Redeemer, in whatever point they are viewed, appearing with equal advantage to the eye. Other artists I am aware have produced the same effect: but it is a just, though a trite saying, that an inventor is worth more than all his imitators. The Cistercian fathers have a grand perspective in their monastery, representing the Descent of Christ into Purgatory, from his hand. It consists of few figures, little choice in the countenances, but their colouring is both powerful and natural; they are [Pg 231]well placed, and well preserved in their distance, disposed in beautiful groups, with a pleasing retrocession of the pilasters, which serve to mark the place, united to a harmony that attracts the eye. He had a pupil named Agostin da Milano, well skilled in foreshortening, and who painted at the Carmine a piece that Lomazzo proposes, along with the cupola of Coreggio at the cathedral of Parma, as a model of excellence in its kind. His name is made very clear in the index of Lomazzo, as follows:—Agostino di Bramantino of Milan, a painter and disciple of the same Bramantino. I cannot imagine how such a circumstance escaped the notice of Sig. Pagave, and how he was led to present us with that more ancient Agostino Bramantino, (so called from his family name, not from that of his master) whose existence we have shewn to have been ideal, wholly arising out of a mistake of Vasari. The one here mentioned was real, though his name is so little known at Milan, as to lead us to suppose he must have passed much of his time in foreign parts. And we are even authorized to conjecture that he may be the same Agostino delle Prospettive whom we meet with in Bologna, in 1525. All the circumstances are so strong, that in a matter of justice, they would have proved sufficient to establish his identity; his name of Agostino, his age, suitable to the preceptorship of Suardi, his excellence in the art, which procured for him his surname, and the silence of Malvasia, who could not be ignorant of him, but who, because [Pg 232]he was drawing up a history of the Bolognese School only, omitted to mention him.

There were other artists about 1500, who, as it is said, following Foppa, painted in the style which we now call antico moderno. Ambrogio Borgognone represented at S. Simpliciano the histories of S. Sisinio and some accompanying martyrs, which adorn one of the cloisters. The thinness of the legs, and some other remains of his early education, are not so displeasing in this work, as we find its accurate study, and the natural manner in which it is conducted, calculated to please. The beauty of his youthful heads, variety of countenance, simplicity of drapery, and the customs of those times, faithfully portrayed[l] in the ecclesiastical paraphernalia, and mode of living, together with a certain uncommon grace of expression, not met with in this or any other school, are sufficient to attract attention.

Gio. Donato Montorfano painted a Crucifixion, abounding with figures for the refectory of Le Grazie, where it is unfortunately thrown into the shade by the Grand Supper of Vinci. He cannot compete with a rival to whom many of the greatest masters are compelled to yield the palm. He excels only in his colouring, which has preserved his work fresh and entire, while that of Vinci shewed signs of decay in a few years. What is original in Montorfano is a peculiar clearness in his features, as well as in his attitudes, and which, if united to a little more elegance, would have left him but few equals in his line. He represents a group of soldiers [Pg 233]seen playing, and in every countenance is depicted attention, and the desire of conquest. He has also some heads of a delicate air, extremely beautiful, though the distance in regard to their position is not well preserved. The architecture introduced, of the gates and edifices of Jerusalem, is both correct and magnificent, presenting those gradual retrocessions in perspective upon which this school at the time so much prided itself. He retained the habit which continued till the time of Gaudenzio at Milan, though long before reformed in other places, of mixing with his pictures some plastic work in composition, and thus giving in relief glories of saints, and ornaments of men and horses.

Ambrogio da Fossano, a place in the Piedmontese,[46] was an artist, who, at the grand Certosa in Pavia, designed the superb fašade of the church, being an architect as well as a painter. In the temple before mentioned there is an altar-piece, which is ascribed either to him or his brother, not very highly finished, but in a taste not very dissimilar from that of Mantegna. Andrea Milanese, [Pg 234]who has been confounded by one of Vasari's annotators with Andrea Salai, extorted the admiration of Zanetti, by an altar-piece he produced at Murano, executed in 1495, and it would appear that he studied in Venice. I cannot agree with Bottari that he is the same as Andrea del Gobbo, mentioned by Vasari in his life of Coreggio, since this last was a disciple of Gaudenzio.[47] About the same time flourished Stefano Scotto, the master of Gaudenzio Ferrari, much commended by Lomazzo for his art in arabesques, and of his family is perhaps a Felice Scotto, who painted a good deal at Como for private individuals, and left a number of pictures in fresco at S. Croce, relating to the life of S. Bernardino. His genius is varied and expressive, he displays judgment in composition, and is one of the best artists of the fourteenth century known in these parts. He was probably a pupil of some other school, his design being more elegant, and his colouring more clear and open than those of the Milanese. We might easily amplify the present list with other names, furnished by Morigia in his work on the Milanese nobility, where we find mentioned with praise Nicolao Piccinino, Girolamo Chiocca, Carlo Valli, or di Valle, brother to Giovanni, all of them Milanese, besides Vincenzo Moietta, a native of Caravaggio, who flourished in Milan about 1500, or something earlier, along with the foregoing. About the same [Pg 235]period the study of miniature was greatly promoted by the two Ferranti, Agosto the son, and Decio the father, three works by whom are to be seen in the cathedral at Vigevano, consisting of a Missal, a book of the Evangelists, and one of the epistles illuminated with miniatures in the most exact taste.

Other professors then flourished throughout the state, of whom either some account remains in books, or some works with the signature of their names. At that period the Milanese was much more extensive than it has been since the cession of so large a portion to the house of Savoy. The artists belonging to the ceded portion will be considered by me in this school, to which they appertain, being educated in it, and instructing other pupils in it, in their turn. Hence besides those of Pavia, of Como, and others of the modern state, we shall in this chapter give some account of the Novarese and Vercellese artists (of whom I shall also give the information found in the prefaces to the tenth and eleventh volumes of Vasari, edited at Siena by P. della Valle), with others who flourished in the old state. Pavia boasted a Bartolommeo Bononi, by whom there is an altar-piece bearing the date of 1507, at San Francesco, and also one Bernardin Colombano who produced another specimen at the Carmine in 1515. In other churches I likewise met with some specimens by an unknown hand, (but perhaps by Gio. di Pavia, inserted by Malvasia in his catalogue of the pupils of Lorenzo Costa,) partaking a good deal of the Bolognese [Pg 236]style of that age. At the same period flourished Andrea Passeri of Como, for whose cathedral he painted the Virgin among different apostles, in which the heads and the whole composition have some resemblance to the modern. But there is a dryness in the hands, with use of gilding unworthy of the age, (1505) in which his picture was painted. A Marco Marconi of Como, who flourished about 1500, displayed much of the Giorgione manner, and was probably a pupil of the Venetians. Troso da Monza was employed a good deal at Milan, and painted some pieces at S. Giovanni in his native place. Several histories of the Queen Teodelina, adorning the same church, executed in various compartments in 1444, are now also ascribed to him. It is not very easy to follow his inventions, somewhat confused and new in regard to the drapery and the Longobardish customs which he has there exhibited. There are some good heads, and colouring by no means despicable; for the rest, it is a mediocre production, and perhaps executed early in life. He is an artist much praised by Lomazzo for his other works which he left at the Palazzo Landi. They consist of Roman histories, a production, says Lomazzo, (p. 272) quite surprising for the figures as well as the architecture and the perspective, which is stupendous. Father Resta, cited by Morelli, who saw it in 1707, says that it almost astounded him by its surpassing excellence, beauty, and sweetness. (Lett. Pittor. tom. iii. p. 342.)

[Pg 237]In the new state of Piedmont is situated Novara, where, in the archives of the cathedral, Gio. Antonio Merli painted in green earth Pietro Lombardo, with three other distinguished natives of Novara; an excellent portrait-painter for his age. In Vercelli, adjoining it, there flourished about 1460 Boniforte, Ercole Oldoni, and F. Pietro di Vercelli, of which last there is an ancient altar-piece preserved at S. Marco. Giovenone afterwards appeared, who is esteemed in that city as the first instructor of Gaudenzio, although Lomazzo is silent upon it. If he was not, he was worthy of the charge. The Augustin fathers possess a Christ risen from the Dead, between saints Margaret and Cecilia, with two angels, a picture of a noble character, in the taste of Bramantino and the best Milanese artists, and conducted with great knowledge of the naked figure and of perspective.

[38] The inscription is annexed to it, and may be found in Bertoli, AntichitÓ di Aquileia, num. 516.

[39] See the Dottore Gaetano Bugati, in his Historical and Critical account of the relics and the worship of San Celso the Martyr, p. 1; and the P. M. Allegranza, Explanations and Reflections relating to some sacred monuments at Milan, p. 168.

[40] He borrowed the idea of this work from the Theatre of Giulio Camillo, with whom he compares his own Treatise in chap. ix. Hence, as in the case of some books which have two titles, I judge it best to call it by this name (Theatre) also, as others have done.

[41] See Notizie delle Pitture, Sculture, ed Architetture d'Italia, by Sig. Bertoli, p. 41, &c.

[42] Note that Lomazzo would not have passed over the name of Agostino di Bramantino, were it true that he had flourished as early as 1420, and employed himself at Rome, an honour to which the rest of these Milanese did not attain.

[43] Vasari, vol. iii. p. 233.

[44] The epochs relating to this artist appear difficult, and almost irreconcileable. From Lomazzo's account he was a painter as early as 1460, and according to Ronna, in his Zibaldone Cremasco, for the year 1795, p. 84, there are existing documents which prove that he was still living in 1535. If we give credit to these, Civerchio must have flourished to an extreme age, so as to be ranked in this point with Titian, with Calvi, and the other hoary-headed octogenarians of the art.

[45] Lomazzo, in his Treatise, (book i. chap, ix.), relates that Vinci in his Supper had endued the countenance of both the saints Giacomo with so much beauty, that despairing to make that of the Saviour more imposing, he went to advise with Bernardo Zenale, who to console him said, "Leave the face of Christ unfinished as it is, as you will never be able to make it worthy of Christ among those Apostles," and this Leonardo did.

[46] A number of places which are now included in the Piedmontese, formerly belonged to the state of Milan, as we have already observed. The city of Vercelli was united to the house of Savoy in 1427, and was subsequently subject to a variety of changes. Many of its more ancient painters are referred to the Milanese as their scholars; but they may be enumerated among the Piedmontese as citizens. This remark will apply to many different passages, both in this and in the fifth volume.

[47] Lomazzo, Trattato, c. 37.

[Pg 238]



Leonardo da Vinci establishes an Academy of Design at Milan. His Pupils and the best native Artists down to the time of Gaudenzio.

In treating of the Florentine School we took occasion to enter into a brief examination of the pictoric education of Vinci, of his peculiar style, and of his residence in different cities, among which was mentioned Milan, and the academy which he there instituted. He arrived in that city, according to the testimony of Vasari, in the year 1594, the first of the reign of Prince Lodovico Il Moro; or rather he resided there, if not altogether, at least for the execution of commissions, from 1482, as it has been recently supposed,[48] and left it after its capture by the French in 1499. The years spent by Lionardo at Milan were, perhaps, the happiest of his life, and certainly productive of the most utility to the art of any in the whole period of his career. The duke had deputed him to superintend an academy of design, which, if I mistake not, was the first in Italy, [Pg 239]which gave the law to the leading ones in other parts. It continued to flourish after the departure of Vinci, was much frequented, and formed excellent pupils, maintaining in the place of its first director, his precepts, his writings, and his models. No very distinct accounts indeed of his method have survived; but we are certain that he formed it on scientific principles, deduced from philosophical reasoning, with which Vinci was familiar in every branch. His treatise upon painting is esteemed, however imperfect, as a kind of second canon of Polycletes, and explains the manner in which Lionardo taught.[49] We may also gather some knowledge of it from his other numerous and various writings, which, having been left to the care of Melzi, and in the course of time distributed, now form the ornament of different cabinets. Fourteen volumes of these presented to the public, are in the Ambrosian collection, and many of them are calculated to smooth the difficulties of the art to young beginners. It is further known that the author, having entered into a familiar friendship with Marcantonio della Torre, lecturer [Pg 240]of Pavia, united with him in illustrating the science of anatomy, then little known in Italy, and that he represented with the utmost exactness, in addition to the human figure, that of the horse, in a knowledge of which he was esteemed quite unrivalled. The benefit he conferred upon the art by the study of optics is also well known, and no one was better acquainted with the nature of aŰrial perspective,[50] which became a distinctive and hereditary characteristic of his school. He was extremely well versed in the science of music, and in playing upon the lyre, and equally so in poetry and history. Here his example was followed by Luini and others; and to him likewise it was owing that the Milanese School became one of the most accurate and observing in regard to antiquity and to costume. Mengs has noticed before me that no artist could surpass Vinci in the grand effect of his chiaroscuro. He instructed his pupils to make as cautious an use of light as of a gem, not lavishing it too freely, but reserving it always for the best place. And hence we find in his, and in the best of his disciples' paintings, that fine relief, owing to which the pictures, and in particular the countenances, seem as if starting from the canvass.

For a long period past, the art had become gradually more refined, and considered its subjects more minutely; in which Botticelli, Mantegna, and others [Pg 241]had acquired great reputation. As minuteness, however, is opposed to sublimity, it ill accorded with that elevation in which the supreme merit of the art would seem to consist. In my opinion Lionardo succeeded in uniting these two opposite qualities, before any other artist. In subjects which he undertook fully to complete, he was not satisfied with only perfecting the heads, counterfeiting the shining of the eyes, the pores of the skin, the roots of the hair, and even the beating of the arteries; he likewise portrayed each separate garment and every accessary with minuteness. Thus, in his landscapes also, there was not a single herb or leaf of a tree, which he had not taken like a portrait, from the select face of nature; and to his very leaves he gave a peculiar air, and fold, and position, best adapted to represent them rustling in the wind. While he bestowed his attention in this manner upon the minutiŠ, he at the same time, as is observed by Mengs, led the way to a more enlarged and dignified style; entered into the most abstruse inquiries as to the source and nature of expression, the most philosophical and elevated branch of the art; and smoothed the way, if I may be permitted to say so, for the appearance of Raffaello. No one could be more curious in his researches, more intent upon observing, or more prompt in catching the motions of the passions, as exhibited either in the features or the actions. He frequented places of public assembly, and all spectacles [Pg 242]in which man gave free play to his active powers; and there, in a small book always ready at hand, he drew the attitudes which he selected; and these designs he preserved in order to apply them, with expressions more or less powerful, according to the occasion, and the degree of expression he wished to introduce. For it was his custom, in the same manner as he gradually strengthened his shadows until he reached the highest degree; so also in the composition of his figures, to proceed in heightening them until he attained the perfection of passion and of motion. The same kind of gradation he observed in regard to elegance, of which he was perhaps the earliest admirer; since previous artists appeared unable to distinguish grace from beauty, and still more so to adapt it to pleasing subjects in such a way as to rise from the less to the more attractive points, as was practised by Lionardo da Vinci. He even adhered to the same rule in his burlesques; always throwing an air of greater ridicule over one than another, insomuch that he was heard to say, that they ought to be carried to such a height, if possible, as even to make a dead man laugh.

The characteristic, therefore, of this incomparable artist, consists in a refinement of taste, of which no equal example, either preceding or following him, is to be found; if, indeed, we may not admit that of the old Protogenes, in whom Apelles was unable to find any reason why he himself should be preferred to him, except it were the superabundant [Pg 243]industry of his competitor.[51] And, in truth, it would appear, that Vinci likewise, did not always call to mind the maxim of "ne quid nimis," in the observance of which, the perfection of human pursuits is to be found. Phidias himself, said Tully, bore in his mind a more beautiful Minerva and a grander Jove, than he was capable of exhibiting with his chisel; and it is prudent counsel, that teaches us to aspire to the best, but to rest satisfied with attaining what is good. Vinci was never pleased with his labours if he did not execute them as perfectly as he had conceived them; and being unable to reach the high point proposed with a mortal hand, he sometimes only designed his work, or conducted it only to a certain degree of completion. Sometimes he devoted to it so long a period as almost to renew the example of the ancient who employed seven years over his picture. But as there was no limit to the discovery of fresh beauties in that work, so, in the opinion of Lomazzo, it happens with the perfections of Vinci's paintings, including even those which Vasari and others allude to as left imperfect.

Before proceeding further, it becomes our historical duty, having here mentioned his imperfect works, to inform the reader of the real sense in which the words are to be taken when applied to [Pg 244]Vinci. It is certain he left a number of works only half finished, such as his Epiphany, in the ducal gallery at Florence, or his Holy Family, in the archbishop's palace at Milan. Most frequently, however, the report is grounded upon his having left some portion of his pieces less perfectly finished than the rest; a deficiency, nevertheless, that cannot always be detected even by the best judges. The portrait, for instance, of M. Lisa Gioconda, painted at Florence in the period of four years, and then, according to Vasari, left imperfect, was minutely examined by Mariette, in the collection of the king of France, and was declared to be carried to so high a degree of finish, that it was impossible to surpass it. The defect will be more easily recognized in other portraits, several of which are yet to be seen at Milan; for instance, that of a lady belonging to the Sig. Principe Albani; and one of a man, in the Palazzo Scotti Gallerati. Indeed Lomazzo has remarked, that, excepting three or four, he left all the rest of his heads imperfect. But imperfections and faults like his would have been accounted distinguishing qualities in almost any other artist.

Even his grand Supper has been stated in history as an imperfect production, though at the same time all history is agreed in celebrating it as one of the most beautiful paintings that ever proceeded from the hand of man. It was painted for the refectory of the Dominican fathers, at Milan, and may be pronounced a compendium not only of [Pg 245]all that Lionardo taught in his books, but also of what he embraced in his studies. He here gave expression to the exact point of time best adapted to animate his history, which is the moment when the redeemer addresses his disciples, saying, "One of you will betray me." Then each of his innocent followers is seen to start as if struck with a thunderbolt; those at a distance seem to interrogate their companions, as if they think they must have mistaken what he had said; others, according to their natural disposition, appear variously affected; one of them swoons away, one stands lost in astonishment, a third rises in indignation, while the very simplicity and candour depicted upon the countenance of a fourth, seem to place him beyond the reach of suspicion. But Judas instantly draws in his countenance, and while he appears as it were attempting to give it an air of innocence, the eye rests upon him in a moment as the undoubted traitor. Vinci himself used to observe, that for the space of a whole year, he employed his time in meditating how he could best give expression to the features of so bad a heart; and that being accustomed to frequent a place where the worst characters were known to assemble, he there met with a physiognomy to his purpose; to which he also added the features of many others. In his figures of the two Saints Jacopo, presenting fine forms, most appropriate to the characters, he availed himself of the same plan; and being unable with his utmost diligence to invest that of [Pg 246]Christ with a superior air to the rest, he left the head in an unfinished state, as we learn from Vasari, though Armenini pronounced it exquisitely complete. The rest of the picture, the tablecloth with its folds, the whole of the utensils, the table, the architecture, the distribution of the lights, the perspective of the ceiling, (which in the tapestry of San Pietro, at Rome, is changed almost into a hanging garden) all was conducted with the most exquisite care; all was worthy of the finest pencil in the world. Had Lionardo desired to follow the practice of his age in painting in distemper, the art at this time would have been in possession of this treasure. But being always fond of attempting new methods, he painted this masterpiece upon a peculiar ground, formed of distilled oils, which was the reason that it gradually detached itself from the wall, a misfortune which had also nearly befallen one of his Madonnas, at S. Onofrio, at Rome, though it was preserved under glass. About half a century subsequent to the production of his great Supper, when Armenini then saw it, it was already half decayed; and Scanelli, who examined it in 1642, declares that it "was with difficulty he could discern the history as it had been." In the present century a hope had been indulged of this magnificent painting being restored by aid of some varnish, or other secret, as may be seen by consulting Bottari. In regard to this, however, and the other vicissitudes of this great picture, we ought also to consider what is stated [Pg 247]in a tone of ridicule and reproach by Bianconi, in his New Guide.[52] It will be sufficient for my purpose to add, that nothing remains in the modern picture from the hand of Vinci, if we except three heads of apostles, which may be said to be rather sketched than painted. Milan boasts few of his works, as those which are ascribed to him are for the most part the productions of his school, occasionally retouched by himself, as in the altar-piece of S. Ambrogio ad nemus, which has great merit. A Madonna, however, and Infant, in the Belgioioso d'Este palace, as well as one or two other pictures in private possession, are undoubtedly from his hand. We are assured, indeed, that he left few pieces at Milan, as well from his known fastidiousness in painting, as from his having been diverted from it, both by inclination and by the commissions received from the prince, to conduct works connected with engineering, hydraulics, and machinery for a variety of purposes, besides those of architecture;[53] and especially in regard to that celebrated [Pg 248]model of a horse, of which, owing to its size, as we are told by Vasari, no cast could be taken in bronze. And this writer is the more entitled to credit, as well because he flourished near the period of which he treats, as because he could hardly be ignorant of a work, which would almost have placed the fame of our Italian on an equality with that of Lysippus.[54]

Of all his labours in Milan, therefore, nothing is better deserving of our notice than the academy which he founded, whose pupils constitute the proudest and most flourishing epoch of this school. They are not all equally well known; and we often find, both in collections and in churches, that pictures are pointed out as being of the school of Vinci, without specifying the particular artists. Their altar-pieces seldom display composition, varying much from that common to other schools of the age; namely, figures of the Virgin with the Infant, upon a throne, surrounded by saints, chiefly in an erect posture, and a few cherubs on the steps. Vinci's disciples, however, if I mistake not, were the first who conferred on their figures some degree of unity in action, so as to give them the appearance of conversing with each other. In [Pg 249]the remaining parts, also, they exhibit a pretty uniform taste; they represent the same faces, all somewhat oval, smiling lips, the same manner in their precise and somewhat dry outlines, the same choice of temperate colours, well harmonized, together with the same study of the chiaroscuro, which the less skilful artists overcharge with darkness, while the better ones apply it in moderation.

One who approached nearest to his style, at a certain period, was Cesar da Sesto, likewise called Cesare Milanese, though not recorded by Vasari, or Lomazzo, in the list of his disciples. Still he is generally admitted by more modern writers. In the Ambrosian collection is the head of an old man, so extremely clear and studied, in the Vinci manner, by this artist, as to surprise the beholder. In some of his other works he followed Raffaello, whom he knew in Rome; and it is reported, that this prince of painting one day said to him, "It seems to me strange that being bound in such strict ties of friendship as we two are, we do not in the least respect each other with our pencils," as if they had been rivals on a sort of equality. He was intimate too with Baldassar Peruzzi, and was employed with him in the castle of Ostia. In this work, which was one of the earliest efforts of Baldassare, Vasari seems inclined to yield the palm of excellence to the Milanese artist. He was esteemed Vinci's best pupil; and he is more than once held up by Lomazzo, as a model in design, in attitude, and more particularly in the art of using his lights. He cites [Pg 250]an Herodias by him, of which I have seen a copy in possession of the Consiglier Pagave, and the countenance bore an extreme resemblance to the Fornarina of Raffaello. The Cav. D. Girolamo Melzi has likewise one of his Holy Families, in the Raffaello manner, which he obtained a few years ago at an immense sum, as well as that celebrated altar-piece painted for S. Rocco. It is divided into compartments; in the midst is seen the Titular Saint and the Holy Virgin, with the Infant, imitated from a figure by Raffaello, which is at Foligno. From his Dispute of the Sacrament he likewise borrowed the S. Gio. Batista seated on a cloud, which is accompanied with the figure of St. John the Evangelist, placed in the same position. These decorate the upper part of the picture; the lower being occupied by the figures of the two half-naked saints, Cristoforo and Sebastiano, both appropriately executed, and the last exhibiting a new and beautiful foreshortening. They are on a larger scale than the figures of Poussin, and with such resemblance to Coreggio's, that, in the opinion of the Ab. Bianconi, they might have been easily ascribed to him, in default of the artist's name; such is the softness, union, and brightness of the fleshes, such their beauty of colouring, and the harmony investing the whole painting. It used to be closed with two panels, where, with a certain correspondence of subjects, were drawn the two princes of the Apostles, with Saints Martino and Giorgio on horseback; all of which display the same maxims, though not equal diligence in the art. [Pg 251]Hence we may infer that this artist did not, like Vinci, aspire at producing masterpieces as an invariable rule, but was content, like Luini, with occasional efforts of the kind.

At the church of Sarono, situated between Pavia and Milan, are seen the figures of four Saints, drawn on four narrow pilasters; the two equestrian saints, already mentioned, and Saints Sebastiano and Rocco, to whom especially invocations are made against the plague. They are inscribed with the name CŠsar Magnus, f. 1533: the foreshortening is well adapted to the place; and the figure of S. Rocco more especially displays a composition such as we have mentioned. The features are not very pleasing, with the exception of those of St. George, as they are somewhat too round and full. These pieces are in general assigned to the artist of whom we here treat, and many are inclined to infer, from the inscription, that he belonged to the family of the Magni. But it is doubted by others; the frescos not appearing to justify his high reputation, however excellent in their way. Besides, I find the death of Cesare da Sesto recorded, in a MS. communicated to me by Sig. Bianconi, as occurring in the year 1524, though not in such a manner as to remove all kind of doubt. I find some reason for inclining to an opposite opinion in the great diversity of style, remarkable in this artist, the conformity of various ideas in the frescos and in his altar-piece, together with the silence of Lomazzo, generally so [Pg 252]exact in his mention of the best Lombards, and who records no other Cesare but da Sesto.

I ought not to separate the name of this noble figurist from that of Bernazzano the landscape painter, as they were united no less in interest than in friendship. It is uncertain whether he was instructed by Vinci; he doubtless availed himself of his models, and in drawing rural landscape, fruits, flowers, and birds, he succeeded so admirably as to produce the same wonderful effects as are told of Zeuxes and Apelles, in Greece. This indeed Italian artists have frequently renewed, though with a less degree of applause. Having represented a strawberry-bed in a court-yard, the peafowl were so deceived by its resemblance, that they pecked at the wall until the painting was destroyed. He painted the landscape part for a picture of the Baptism of Christ, and on the ground drew some birds in the act of feeding. On its being placed in the open air, the birds were seen to fly towards the picture, as if to join their companions. As this artist had the sense to perceive his own deficiency in figures, he cultivated an intimacy with Cesare, who added to his landscapes fables and histories, sometimes with a degree of license that is reprobated by Lomazzo. These paintings are held in high esteem, where the figure-painter has made a point of displaying his powers.

Gio. Antonio Beltraffio, as his name is written on his monument, was a gentleman of Milan, who [Pg 253]employed only his leisure hours in painting, and produced some works at Milan, and other places; but the best is at Bologna. It is placed at the Misericordia, and bore his signature, with that of his master Vinci, and the date 1500, though these have been since erased. In it is represented the Virgin between Saints John the Baptist and Bastiano, while the figure of Girolamo da Cesio, who gave the commission for the picture, is seen kneeling at the foot of the throne. It forms the only production of Beltraffio placed in public, and is on that account esteemed the more valuable. The whole of it exhibits the exact study of his school in the air of the heads, judicious in composition, and softened in its outlines. His design, however, is rather more dry than that of his fellow pupils; the effect, perhaps, of his early education, under the Milanese artists of the fourteenth century, not sufficiently corrected.

Francesco Melzi was another Milanese of noble birth, enumerated among Lionardo's disciples, though he had only the benefit of his instructions in design during his more tender years. He approached nearest of any to Vinci's manner, conducting pieces that are frequently mistaken for those of his master; but he employed himself seldom, because he was rich.[55] He was greatly esteemed by Vinci, inasmuch as he united a very fine countenance to the most amiable disposition, his gratitude inducing him to accompany his master [Pg 254]on his last visit into France. He was as generously rewarded for it, becoming heir to the whole of Vinci's designs, instruments, books, and manuscripts. He promoted as far as possible the reputation of his master, by furnishing both Vasari and Lomazzo with notices for his life; and by preserving for the eye of posterity the valuable collection of his writings. For as long as the numerous volumes deposited at the Ambrosian library continue to exist, the world must admit that he was one of the chief revivers, not only of painting but of statics, of hydrostatics, of optics, and of anatomy.

Andrea Salai, or Salaino, was, from similar qualities, a great favourite with Vinci, who chose him according to the language of the times, as his creato, using him as a model for beautiful figures, both of a human and angelic cast. He instructed him, as we are told by Vasari, in matters pertaining to the art, and retouched his labours, which I think must gradually have changed their name; as a Salai is not now esteemed like a Vinci. There is a St. John the Baptist pointed out as his, elegant, but rather dry, in the archbishop's palace; a very animated portrait of a man, in the Aresi palace; with a few other pieces. His picture in the sacristy of S. Celso, is more particularly celebrated. It was drawn from the cartoon of Lionardo, executed at Florence, and so greatly applauded, that the citizens ran to behold it, as they would have done some great solemnity. Vasari calls it the cartoon of St. Anna, who, with the Virgin, is seen [Pg 255]fondling the Holy Child, while the infant John the Baptist is playing with him. Subsequently, this cartoon rose into such repute, that when Francis I. invited Vinci to his court, he entreated that he would undertake the colouring; but the latter, says Vasari, according to his custom, amused him a long while with words. It appears, moreover, from a letter of P. Resta, inserted in the third volume of the Lettere Pittoriche, that Vinci formed three cartoons of his St. Anna, one of which was coloured by Salai. This artist admirably fulfilled the design of the inventor, in the taste of his well harmonised and low colours, in the agreeable character of his landscape, and in grand effect. In the same sacristy, opposite to it, was placed, for some time, a Holy Family by Raffaello, now removed to Vienna; nor did it shrink from such competition. A similar copy of the same cartoon was obtained from Vienna for our reigning sovereign, Ferdinand III. and now adorns the ducal gallery at Florence, likewise, perhaps, from the hand of Salai.

Marco Uglone, or Uggione, or da Oggione, ought to be included among the best Milanese painters. He did not employ himself exclusively on favourite pictures, like most of the scholars of Vinci, who preferred to paint little and well; but was celebrated for his frescos; and his works at the Pace still maintain their outline entire, and their colours bright. Some of these are in the church, and a very magnificent picture of the Crucifixion is to be seen in the refectory; surprising for the variety, beauty, and spirit of its figures. Few Lombard artists attained [Pg 256]the degree of expression that is here manifested; and few to such mastery of composition and novelty of costume. In his human figures, he aimed at elegance of proportion; and in those of horses he is seen to be the disciple of Vinci. For another refectory, that of the Certosa, in Pavia, he copied the Supper of Lionardo, and it is such as to supply, in some measure, the loss of the original. Milan boasts two of his altar-pieces, one at S. Paolo in Compito, and another at S. Eufemia, in the style of the school we have described, and both excellent productions; though the manner which he observed in his frescos, is more soft and analogous to modern composition.

In the historical memoirs of Vinci, written by Amoretti, one Galeazzo is mentioned as one of his pupils, though it is difficult to decide who he was, along with other artists recorded in the Vinci MSS. These are one Jacomo, one Fanfoia, and a Lorenzo, which might perhaps be interpreted to be Lotto, did not the epochs pointed out by Count Tassi and P. Federici, relating to this artist, appear inapplicable to the Lorenzo of Vinci, who was born in 1488, and came to Lionardo in April, 1505, and probably while Vinci was at Fiesole, since he was there in the month of March in that year; that is, a month before,[56] and continued to reside with him at least while he remained in Italy. I am inclined to believe he filled the place of his domestic.

Father Resta, in his "Portable Gallery," cited [Pg 257]by me in the third chapter, inserts also, among Vinci's Milanese disciples, one Gio. Pedrini, and Lomazzo, a Pietro Ricci, of whom I can learn nothing farther. Some, indeed, include in the same list Cesare Cesariano, an architect and painter in miniature, whose life has been written by Poleni. Lattuada, too, mentions Niccola Appiano, and makes him the author of a fresco painting over the gate of the Pace, which is certainly in the Vinci manner. Cesare Arbasia, of whom we shall further treat in the sixth book of the fifth volume, under the head of Piedmont, was erroneously referred, at Cordova, to the school of Vinci, and is mentioned as his pupil by Palomino. This was impossible, if we consider the epochs of his life, together with the character of his paintings. Were a resemblance of style enough to decide the question of preceptorship, I might here add to Leonardo's school a number of other Milanese, both of the city and the state. I cannot, however, dispense with a maxim, which, under a variety of forms, I have recommended to my readers; that history alone can ascertain for us the real pupils, as style does such as are imitators. Being unable, therefore, to pronounce them disciples, I shall give to Vinci only as his imitators the names of Count Francesco d'Adda, who was accustomed to paint on panels and on slate for private cabinets; Ambrogio Egogui, of whom there remains at Nerviano a fine altar-piece, executed in 1527; Gaudenzio Vinci, of Nova, who is distinguished also for another [Pg 258]altar-piece at Arona, with a date anterior to the preceding. I never saw any of these; but it is agreed by all, that they are in the Vinci manner; and that the last especially is an astonishing production. Another work, which made its appearance only a few years ago at Rome, representing the figure of the Virgin, and quite in Leonardo's composition, as I have heard, bears the following inscription: Bernardinus Faxolus de Papia fecit, 1518. It was purchased by the Sig. Principe Braschi, for his very choice gallery; and it appeared truly surprising at Rome, that such a painter should be presented to our age, as it were alone, and without a word of recommendation from any historian. Yet similar occurrences are not unknown in Italy, and it forms a portion of her fame to enumerate her celebrated artists by ranks and not by numbers.

It remains for us to do justice to Vinci's most distinguished imitator, Bernardin Lovino, as he writes it, or Luini, as it is generally expressed; a native of Luino, in the Lago Maggiore. Resta asserts, that he did not arrive at Milan until after the departure of Vinci, and that he was instructed by Scotto. The author of the Guide, (at page 120) includes him in the list of Lionardo's pupils, and this, from the period when he flourished, might, I think, have been the case. Because if Gaudenzio, born in 1484, was at once the disciple of Scotto and of Lovino, as we are informed in the treatise of Lomazzo, (p. 421) it follows, that Bernardino must [Pg 259]already have been a master about 1500, the time when Vinci left Milan. To much the same period Vasari refers Bernardino da Lupino, (he should have said da Luino,) an artist who painted the Marriage and other histories of the Virgin in so highly finished a taste at Sarono. One of Vasari's annotators erroneously again changes the name of Lupino into Lanino, a pupil of Gaudenzio. My supposition respecting the age of Bernardino, is further confirmed by a portrait which he drew of himself at Sarono, in his Dispute of the child Jesus with the Doctors, where he appears then old, and this picture was executed in the year 1525, as appears from the date. Luini, therefore, may have been one of Vinci's disciples; and he certainly frequented his academy. Others indeed of the school surpassed him in delicacy of hand, and in the pleasing effect of the chiaroscuro, a quality for which Lomazzo commends Cesare da Sesto, declaring that Luini drew his shadows in too coarse a style. Notwithstanding this, no artist approached nearer Vinci, both in point of design and colouring than Bernardino, who very frequently composed in a taste so like that of his master, that out of Milan many of his pieces pass for those of Vinci. Such is the opinion of true connoisseurs, as reported and approved by the author of the New Guide, who is assuredly one belonging to this class. He adduces two examples in the pictures at the Ambrosiana; namely, the Magdalen, and the St. John, who is seen caressing his lamb, a piece which foreigners can hardly [Pg 260]be persuaded is not from Vinci's own hand. I have seen other pictures of equal, or nearly equal, merit, in different Milanese collections which I have frequently mentioned.

We must, however, add what I observed in reference to Cesare da Sesto just before, that in some of his works there is great resemblance to the manner of Raffaello, such as in a Madonna, belonging to the Prince of Keweniller, and one or two others which I know were purchased under the impression of their being Raffaello's. Hence, I imagine, must have arisen the opinion, that he had visited Rome, which is very properly questioned by the Ab. Bianconi, (p. 391), who rather inclines to the negative. Nor can I myself admit it without some further proofs, a similarity of manner to me appearing far too weak an argument to decide the fact. The same point was discussed in the third chapter on the subject of Coreggio; and if we found reason to conclude, that Coreggio succeeded in enlarging and refining his divine genius to such a degree, without seeing either Raffaello or Michelangiolo at Rome, we may admit the same to have been the case in the instance of Luini. The book of nature is equally open to all artists; taste is a sure guide to selection; and, by degrees, practice leads to the complete execution of what is thus selected. Vinci's taste so nearly resembled that of Raffaello in point of delicacy, grace, and expression of the passions, that had he not been diverted by other pursuits, and had he sacrificed some degree of his high finish, [Pg 261]for the sake of adding to his facility, amenity, and fulness of outline, his style would naturally have run into competition with that of Raffaello, with whom, as it is, in some of his heads especially, he has many points in common. It was the same with Bernardino, who had embued himself with the taste of Vinci, and nourished during a period that bordered on an improved degree of freedom and softness of manner. At first, indeed, he adopted a less full and somewhat dry style, such as we easily recognise in his PietÓ, at the Passione; subsequently he proceeded gradually to modernize it. Even that fine little picture of the Ebriety of Noah, which is shewn at S. Barnaba, as one of his most exquisite pieces, retains a certain precision in its design, a hardness of drapery and a direction of folds, which remind us of the fourteenth century. He becomes more modern in his histories of S. Croce, executed about 1520, several of which he repeated at Sarono five years after, where he appears to surpass his own productions. These last are the works which most resemble Raffaello's composition; though they retain that minuteness in decoration, the gilding of glories, and the abundance of little ornament in the temples, such as we see in Mantegna and his contemporaries; all of which were abandoned by Raffaello, when he arrived at his best manner.

It is my opinion, in fact, that this artist was not so much indebted to Rome, from whose masters he probably only imitated some prints or copies, as to Vinci's academy, with whose maxims he became [Pg 262]completely familiar; and more especially to his own genius, vast in its kind, and equalled by very few. I say in its kind; for I allude to all that is sweet, beautiful, pious, and sensitive in the art. In those histories of our Lady, at Sarono, her features present us with a lovely union of beauty, dignity, and modesty, such as approach to Raffaello, although they are not his. They are, moreover, always consistent with the history the artist represents, whether we behold the Virgin at the marriage, or listening with wonder to the prophecies of Simeon; when, penetrated with the grand mystery, she receives the wise men of the east; or when, with a countenance of mingled joy and sorrow, she inquires of her divine son, teaching in the temple, why he had thus left her. The other figures possess a corresponding beauty; the heads appear to live, the looks and motions seem to be expecting a reply; combined with variety of design, of drapery, and of passions, all borrowed from nature; a style in which every thing appears natural and unstudied, which gains at a first view, which compels the eye to study part by part, and from which it cannot withdraw itself without an effort: such is the character of Luini's style in that temple. We observe little variation in his other pictures, which he executed with more care, and at a more mature age, at Milan; nor can I imagine what could lead Vasari to assert that the whole of his works are tolerable; when we meet with so many calculated to excite our wonder. Let us consult his [Pg 263]picture of Christ scourged, at S. Giorgio, and inquire by what hand the countenance of our Redeemer has been drawn more full of kindness, humility, and piety; or turn to his smaller cabinet paintings in the possession of the Signori Litta, and other noble houses, so beautifully finished, and inquire again how many artists in his own times could have equalled him in these? The genius of Luini does not, moreover, appear to have been at all fastidious or slow; at least in his fresco paintings. Thus his Crown of Thorns, placed at the college of S. Sepolcro, a picture abounding with figures, for which he received one hundred and fifteen lire, occupied him thirty-eight days, besides eleven more, during which one of his pupils was engaged on the work. He availed himself of similar aid, likewise, in painting the choir of Sarono, in the Monastero[m] Maggiore, at Milan, in several churches of Lago Maggiore, and in other places; and to these assistants we ought apparently to ascribe whatever parts we find less perfect.

Two only of his disciples, his own sons, as far as I can learn, are known. At the period when Lomazzo published his treatise, in 1584, they were both living, and both mentioned by him with commendation. Of Evangelista, the second brother, he remarks, that in the art of ornamenting and festooning, he was equally ingenious and fanciful, at the same time giving him a high rank in other branches of painting; though it is to be regretted that he did not point out any of his productions. [Pg 264]Aurelio Luini is frequently praised in the same work, as well as in the Teatro, for his knowledge of anatomy, and for his skill in landscape and perspective. He is subsequently introduced in the Treatise upon Painting, among the most celebrated artists of Milan who then flourished, as a successful rival of Polidoro's style, of which a specimen is praised, consisting of a large fresco, on the fašade of the Misericordia. After the lapse of two centuries, Bianconi has written of him with more freedom, declaring, that though the son, he was not the follower of Bernardino, the purity of whose style he was far from attaining. And, in truth, if we except his composition, there is not much calculated to please in this artist. We may, indeed, often trace the paternal manner, much deteriorated however, and tainted with mannerism; his ideas are common, his attitudes less natural, the folds of his drapery are minute, and drawn in a mechanical manner. This character prevails in some genuine pieces of his that I have seen; among which is one in the Melzi Collection, with his name and the date of 1570. Others, however, which I have examined at Milan, are in a better taste, especially at S. Lorenzo, where an altar-piece with the Baptism of Christ, is ascribed to him, that would have done credit to Bernardino. Aurelio instructed in the art Pietro Gnocchi; and, if I mistake not, he was surpassed by his pupil, both in selection and in good taste. A Pietro Luini, having the reputation of a soft and accurate hand, and esteemed the last of the Luini, being admitted [Pg 265]in history, I doubt whether he be not the Pietro of whom we here treat, occasionally surnamed from the house of his master, as we find in the case of Porta, and others of the sixteenth century. To him was ascribed the S. Pietro, painted for S. Vittore, seen in the act of receiving the Keys; but in the New Guide it is correctly given to the hand of Gnocchi.

Having thus shewn, as in a family tree, the regular successors of Leonardo at Milan, we must prepare to examine the other school, that traces its origin to Foppa, and other artists of the fourteenth century, who are mentioned in their place. It is not to be confounded with that of Vinci, and is separately considered by writers on the subject, though it is known to have derived great advantage from his models, and, I believe, from his discourse, inasmuch as he is allowed, like Raffaello, to have been extremely courteous and agreeable in his reception of every one, and in communicating his knowledge to all who desired it without any feeling of jealousy. If we take the pains to examine Bramantino and the rest of the Milanese artists, subsequent to the middle of the sixteenth century, we shall find them all more or less imitators of Vinci, aiming at his mode of chiaroscuro and his expression, rather dark in their complexions, and addicted to colour rather with force than with amenity. They are, however, less studious of ideal beauty, less noble in their conceptions, less exquisite in their taste, with the exception of Gaudenzio, [Pg 266]who in every thing rivals the first artists of his age; and he is the only one of the ancient school who inculcated its maxims by teaching as well as by example.

Gaudenzio Ferrari da Valdugia is called by Vasari Gaudenzio Milanese. We mentioned him among Raffaello's assistants, referring to the account of Orlandi, who gives him as a pupil to Pietro Perugino, and noticing certain pictures that are attributed to him in lower Italy. But in those parts, where he only tarried a short time, or attempted some new method, he can scarcely be recognized, the information regarding it being very doubtful, which will be further shewn under the Ferrarese School. In Lombardy we may now treat of him with more certainty, many of his works being met with, and many particulars of him from the pen of Lomazzo, his successor in the art, as we shall shortly shew. He mentions Scotto as his master, and next to him Luini; and that previous to either of these he studied with Giovanone, is a current tradition at Vercelli. Novara is thought to be in possession of one of his first paintings, an altar-piece with various divisions at the cathedral, in the taste of the fourteenth century, and with the gilt decorations then so much in request. Vercelli possesses at S. Marco his copy of the cartoon of S. Anna, to which are added the figures of S. Joseph and some other saints. It is a youthful production, but which shews Gaudenzio to have been an early imitator of Vinci, from whom, says Vasari, [Pg 267]he derived great assistance. He went young to Rome, where he is said to have been employed by Raffaello, and acquired a more enlarged manner of design, and greater beauty of colouring than had been practised by the Milanese artists. Lomazzo, against the opinion of Scannelli, ranks him among the seven greatest painters in the world, among whom he erred in not including Coreggio. For whoever will compare the cupola of S. Giovanni at Parma with that of S. Maria near Sarono, painted by Gaudenzio about the same period, must admit that there are a variety of beauties in the former, we may in vain seek for in the latter. Although we must admit that it abounds with fine, varied, and well expressed figures, yet Gaudenzio will be found in this, as in some other of his works, to retain traces of the old style; such as a degree of harshness; too uniform a disposition of his figures; his draperies, particularly of his angels, some of them drawn in lines like Mantegna's; with figures occasionally relieved in stucco, and then coloured, a practice he observed also in his trappings of horses, as well as in other accessaries in the manner of Montorfano.

With the exception of these defects, which he wholly avoided in his more finished pieces, Gaudenzio must be pronounced a very great painter, and one who approached nearest of any among Raffaello's assistants to Perino and to Giulio Romano. He displays also a vast fund of ideas, though of an opposite cast, Giulio having frequently directed his genius to profane and licentious subjects, while [Pg 268]the former confined himself to sacred compositions. He appears truly unequalled in his expression of the divine majesty, the mysteries of religion, and all the feelings of piety, of which he himself offered a laudable example, receiving the title of Eximie pius in one of the Novarese assemblies. He was excellent in strong expression; not that he aimed at exhibiting highly wrought muscular powers, but his attitudes were, as Vasari entitles them, wild, that is, equally bold and terrible where his subjects admitted of them. Such is the character of his Christ's Passion, at the Grazie in Milan, where Titian was his competitor; and his Fall of S. Paul, at the Conventual friars in Vercelli, a picture approaching the nearest of any to that of Michelangiolo in the Pauline chapel. In the rest of his pictures he shews great partiality for the most difficult foreshortenings, which he introduces very frequently. If he fails in reaching the peculiar grace and beauty of Raffaello, he at least greatly partakes of that character, as we observe in his S. Cristoforo, at Vercelli, where, in addition to the picture of the titular saint, he painted upon the walls various histories of Jesus Christ, and others of Mary Magdalen. In this great work he appears more perhaps than in any other, in the character of a beautiful painter, presenting us with the most lovely heads, and with angels as lively in their forms as spirited in their attitudes. I have heard it praised as his masterpiece, though Lomazzo and the author of the Guide both agree in asserting that the manner he [Pg 269]adopted in the Sepolcro of Varallo surpassed all he had elsewhere produced.

If we examine into further particulars of his style, we shall find Ferrari's warm and lively colouring so superior to that of the Milanese artists of his day, that there is no difficulty in recognizing it in the churches where he painted; the eye of the spectator is directly attracted towards it; his carnations are natural, and varied according to the subjects; his draperies display much fancy and originality, as varied as the art varies its draperies; with middle tints, blended so skilfully as to equal the most beautiful produced by any other artist. And if we may so say, he represented the minds even better than the forms of his subjects. He particularly studied this branch of the art, and we seldom observe more marked attitudes or more expressive countenances. Where he adds landscape or architecture to his figures, the former chiefly consists of very fanciful views of cliffs and rocks, which are calculated to charm by their novelty; while his edifices are conducted on the principles of the best perspective. As Lomazzo, however, has dwelt so much at length on his admirable skill both in painting and modelling, it would be idle to insist upon it further. But I ought to add, that it is a great reflection upon Vasari that he did not better know, or better estimate such an artist; so that foreigners, who form their opinions only from history, are left unacquainted with his merit, and have uniformly neglected to do him justice in their writings.

[Pg 270]Ferrari's disciples for a long period maintained the manner of their master, the first in succession with more fidelity than the second class, and the second than the third. The chief part were more eager to imitate his expression and his facility than the elegance of his design and colouring, even so far as to fall into the bordering errors of negligence and of caricature. The less celebrated scholars of Gaudenzio were Antonio Lanetti da Bugnato, of whom I know of no remaining genuine production; Fermo Stella da Caravaggio, and Giulio Cesare Luini Valsesiano, who are still to be met with in some of the chapels at Varallo. Lomazzo, in the thirty-seventh chapter of his Treatise, besides Lanino, to come shortly under consideration, mentions, as imitators of Gaudenzio, Bernardo Ferrari of Vigevano, where two sides of the cathedral organ are painted by his hand; and Andrea Solari, or del Gobbo, or Milanese, as he is called by Vasari at the close of his life of Coreggio, in whose age he flourished. He says he was "a very excellent and beautiful painter, and attached to the labours of the art," adducing some of his pictures in private, and an Assumption at the Certosa in Pavia, in which Torre (p. 138) gives him Salaino as a companion. His two most distinguished pupils were Gio. Batista della Cerva and Bernardino Lanino, from whom sprung two branches of the same school, the Milanese and that of Vercelli.

Cerva took up his abode at Milan, and if he painted every picture like that which adorns San Lorenzo, representing the Apparition of Jesus [Pg 271]Christ to S. Thomas and the other Apostles, he is entitled to rank with the first of his school, such is the choice and spirited character of the heads, such the warmth and distribution of his colouring, and so truly noble and harmonious is its effect as a whole. He must have been deeply versed in the art, though we possess no more of his public works, as he became the master of Gio. Paolo Lomazzo of Milan, who acquired from him the maxims he afterwards published in his Treatise upon Painting in 1584, and which he condensed in his Idea of the Temple of Painting, printed in 1590, to say nothing of his verses, for the most part connected with the same profession.

In his account of this writer Orlandi inserted several erroneous epochs of his life, subsequently cleared up by Bianconi, who fixes that of his loss of sight about 1571, in the thirty-third year of his age. Until this misfortune he had continued to cultivate all the knowledge he could derive from those times, which indeed in certain branches are in some measure undervalued. He took a tour through Italy, attaching himself to polite letters and to the sciences, for which he indulged such an enthusiasm, in his ill placed ambition to appear a philosopher, astrologer, and mathematician, that he treated matters even the most obvious in an abstruse and often false manner, as mistaken as the principles of the current astrology itself. This defect is very perceptible in his larger work, though being dispersed scantily here and there, it is the [Pg 272]more easily excused. But it is more serious in his compendium, or Idea of the Temple of Painting, where it is presented to us in a point of view truly repugnant to common sense. Whilst engaged in teaching an art which consists in designing and colouring well, he flies from planet to planet; to each of the seven painters, whom he calls principals, he assigns one of these celestial bodies, and afterwards one of the metals to correspond. Extravagant as this idea is, he gave scope to still more strange fancies; so that with this method, combined with a most fatiguing prolixity, and the want of an exact index, his treatises have been little read. It would be well worth while to re-model this work, and to separate the fruit from the husk, as it abounds not only with much pleasing historical information, but with the best theories of art heard from the lips of those who knew both Leonardo and Gaudenzio, as well as with excellent observations upon the practice of the best masters, and much critical knowledge relating to the mythology, history, and customs of the ancients. His rules of perspective are particularly valuable. They were compiled from the MSS. of Foppa, of Zenale, of Mantegna, and of Vinci, (Tratt. p. 264); in addition to which he has preserved some fragments of Bramantino, who was extremely ingenious in this art, (p. 276). By these qualities, united to a certain ease of style, not so agreeable perhaps as that of Vasari, yet not so mysterious and obscure as that of Zuccaro, nor so mean as that of Boschini, [Pg 273]the treatise of Lomazzo is deserving of attention, even from confessed masters, and of their selection of some of the best chapters for the benefit of their oldest pupils. I know of no other better adapted to furnish youthful genius with fine pictoric ideas on every theme, none more likely to attach him, and to instruct him how to treat questions upon ancient art, none that displays a more extensive acquaintance with the human heart—what are its passions, and by what signs they are manifested, and how they assume a different dress in different countries, with their appropriate limits; and no writer, finally, includes, in a single volume, more useful precepts for the formation of a reflecting artist, a fine reasoner, in a spirit congenial to Vinci, at once the father of the Milanese School, and I may add of pictoric philosophy, which consists in sound reflection upon each branch of the profession.

None of Lomazzo's paintings are doubtful, as the author has celebrated his own life and works in certain verses, composed, as I have reason to think, to beguile the tedium of hours wholly passed in darkness, and which he entitled Grotteschi.[57] His first efforts, as in all instances, are feeble, of which kind is his copy of Vinci's Supper, which [Pg 274]may be seen at the Pace. In his others we trace the hand of a master eager to put his maxims into execution, and who succeeds more or less happily. One of the most fundamental of these was to consider as dangerous the imitation of other artists, whether taken from paintings or engravings. It is contended that an artist should aim at becoming original, forming the whole of his composition in his own mind, and copying the individual portions from nature and from truth. This precept, first derived from Gaudenzio, was put in force both by Lomazzo and others of his own time. In his pictures we may always discover some original traits, as in that at S. Marco's, where, instead of putting the keys in the hands of S. Peter, according to the usual custom, he represents the Holy Child offering them to him in a playful attitude. His novelty appears still more conspicuous in his large histories, such as his Sacrifice of Melchisedech, in the library of the Passione, a picture abounding with figures, in which the knowledge of anatomy is equal to the novelty of the drapery, and the animation of the colours to that of the attitudes. He has added to it a combat in the distance, well conceived, and in good perspective. I have seen no other painting of his that displays more knowledge. In other instances he is confused and overloaded, sometimes also extravagant, as in that grand fresco [Pg 275]painted for the refectory of S. Agostino at Piacenza, or as it is called of the Rocchettini, which represents the subject of the Forty Days' Fast. This is an ideal feast of meagre meats, where the sovereigns are seen in different seats (some of them portraits of the age), with lords of rank feasting at a splendid banquet of fish, while the poor are devouring such food as they have, and a greedy man is struggling with a huge mouthful sticking in his throat. The Lord blesses the table, and above is seen the sheet which was shewn in a vision to S. Peter. It is a grand picture, calculated to surprise the eye by the exactness with which the particular parts are copied from nature, and with a delicacy that Girupeno asserts was unequalled even by Lomazzo in the works he executed at Milan. But it is not happy as a whole; the canvass is too full, and there is a mixture of sacred and burlesque subjects, from scripture and from the tavern, that cannot be reconciled or approved.

Lomazzo gives the names of two Milanese as his pupils, Cristoforo Ciocca and Ambrogio Figino. He could not long have afforded them his instructions, as at the period when he wrote his treatise, being then blind, they were both still in early youth. He commends them for their portraits, and the first would appear never to have been an able composer, having left, perhaps, no other pieces in public, except his histories of S. Cristoforo, at S. Vittore al Corpo, by no means excellent. Figino succeeded no less admirably [Pg 276]in portraits, which he painted also for princes, with high commendation from the Cav. Marino, than in large compositions almost always executed in oil, and more distinguished by the excellence than by the number of the figures. Some of his pictures, as his S. Ambrogio, at S. Austorgio, or his S. Matteo, at S. Raffaello, though presenting few figures, fail not to please by the grandeur of character expressed in the faces of those saints; nor has any other artist of Milan approached in this art nearer to Gaudenzio who left such noble examples in his S. Girolamo and S. Paolo. In works of a larger scale, such as his Assumption at S. Fedele, and the very elegant Concezione at S. Antonio, he also excels. His method is described by his preceptor, in his Treatise, (p. 438). He proposed for his imitation the lights and the accuracy of Leonardo, the dignity of Raffaello, Coreggio's colouring, and the outlines of Michelangiolo. Of the last in particular he was one of the most successful imitators in his designs, which are consequently in the highest repute; but independent of which he is little known, either in collections or in history, further than Milan. This artist must not be mistaken for Girolamo Figino, his contemporary, a very able painter, and an exact miniaturist, if we are to credit Morigia. There is also ranked, among Lomazzo's disciples, a Pietro Martire Stresi, who acquired some reputation by his copies from Raffaello.

The other branch of Gaudenzio's school, before mentioned, sprung from Bernardino Lanini of Vercelli, [Pg 277]who there produced some excellent early imitations of the style of Gaudenzio, his master. At S. Giuliano there is a PietÓ, with the date of 1547, which might be ascribed to Gaudenzio, had not the name of Bernardino been affixed. It is the same with his other pictures, executed at his native place, when still young, and perhaps the chief distinction consists in his inferior accuracy of design, and less force of chiaroscuro. At a riper age he painted with more freedom, and a good deal in the manner of the naturalists, ranking among the first in Milan. He had a very lively genius both for conceiving and executing, and adapted like that of Ferrari for noble histories. The one of S. Catherine, in the church of that name, near S. Celso, is greatly celebrated, and the more so, from what Lomazzo has said of it, being full of pictoric spirit in the features and the attitudes, with colouring like Titian's, and embued with grace, no less in the face of the saint, which partakes of Guido, than in the choir of angels, which rivals those of Gaudenzio. If there be any portion deficient, it is in the want of more care in arranging his drapery. He was much employed, both for the city and the state, particularly at the cathedral of Novara, where he painted his Sibyllo, and his Padre Eterno, so greatly admired by Lomazzo; besides several histories of the Virgin, which though now deprived of their colour, still attract us by the spirit and clearness of the design. He was sometimes fond of displaying [Pg 278]the manner of Vinci, as in his picture of the Patient Christ, between two angels, painted for the church of Ambrogio; so complete in every part, so beautiful and devotional, combined with so fine a relief, as to be esteemed one of the most excellent productions that adorn that church.

Bernardino had two brothers, not known beyond Vercelli; Gaudenzio, of whom there is said to be an altar-piece in the Sacristy of the Padri Barnabiti representing the Virgin between various saints; and his second brother Girolamo, from whose hand I have seen a Descent from the Cross, belonging to a private individual. Both display some distant resemblance to Bernardino in the natural expression of the countenances, the former also in the force of his colouring, though alike greatly inferior in design. Three other Giovenoni, subsequent to Girolamo, flourished about the period of Lanini, whose names were Paolo, Batista, and Giuseppe; the last became an excellent portrait-painter. He was brother-in-law to Lanini, two of whose sons-in-law were likewise good artists; Soleri, whom I reserve for the school of Piedmont, and Gio. Martino Casa, a native of Vercelli, who resided, however, at Milan, whence I obtained my information. Perhaps the last in the list of this school was Vicolungo di Vercelli. In a private house at that place, I saw his Supper of Belshazzar, tolerably well coloured, abounding with figures, extravagant drapery, poor ideas, and no way calculated [Pg 279]to surprise, except by exhibiting the successors of Raffaello reduced thus gradually to so mean a state.

Good landscape painters were not wanting in this happy epoch in Milan, particularly in the school of Bernazzano, their productions appearing in several collections, though their names are unknown. To this list perhaps belongs the Francesco Vicentino, a Milanese so much commended by Lomazzo, who, in a landscape, succeeded even in shewing the dust blown about by the wind. He was also a good figure-painter, of which a few fine specimens remain at the Grazie and other churches. Some ornamental painters and of grotesques we have already noticed, to which list we may add Aurelio Buso, mentioned with praise among the native Venetian artists, and here again justly recorded for his labours. Vincenzio Lavizzario, an excellent portrait-painter, may be esteemed the Titian of the Milanese, to whose name we may unite that of Gio. da Monte of Crema, treated in the preceding book, and deserving of repetition here. Along with him flourished Giuseppe Arcimboldi, selected for his skill in portrait, as the court-painter of Maximilian II., in which office he continued also under the emperor Rodolph. Both these artists were much celebrated for those capricci, or fancy pieces, which afterwards fell into disuse. At a distance they appeared to be figures of men and women; but on a nearer view the Flora disappeared in a heap of flowers and leaves, and the Vertumnus [Pg 280]was metamorphosed into a composition of fruits and foliage. Nor did these fanciful artists confine themselves to subjects taken from ancient fable; they added others in which they poetically introduced various personifications. The former even represented Cucina, with her head and limbs composed only of pots and pans and other kitchen utensils; while the latter, who acquired great credit from these strange inventions, produced a picture of Agriculture, consisting of spades, ploughs, and scythes, with other appropriate implements.

We have lastly to record an art connected with the inferior branches of painting, scarcely noticed by me in any other place, being, indeed, purposely reserved for the Milanese School, where it more particularly flourished. This is the art of embroidering, not merely flowers and foliage, but extensive history and figure-pieces. It had continued from the time of the Romans in Italy, and there is a very valuable specimen remaining in the so called Casula Dittica, at the Museo di Classe at Ravenna, or more properly some strips of it brocaded with gold, on which, in needlework, appear the portraits of Zenone, Montano, and other saintly bishops. It is a monument of the sixth century, and has been described by the Ab. Sarti, and afterwards by Monsig. Dionisi. The same custom of embroidering sacred walls with figures would appear, from the ancient pictures, to have continued during the dark ages, and there are yet [Pg 281]some relics to be seen in some of our Sacristies. The most entire are at S. Niccolo Collegiata in Fabriano, consisting of a priest's cope, with figures of apostles and different saints; and a vestment with mysteries of the passion, worked in embroidery, with the dry and coarse design of the fourteenth century. In Vasari we find frequent mention of this art; and, to say nothing of the ancients, he presents us with many names greatly distinguished in it in more cultivated ages: such as Paolo da Verona, and one Niccolo Veneziano, who being in the service of the Prince Doria, at Genoa, introduced Perin del Vaga at that court, as well as Antonio Ubertini, a Florentine, to whom we alluded under his own school.

Lomazzo traces the account of the Milanese from the earliest period. Luca Schiavone, he observes, carried this branch to the highest degree, and communicated it to Girolamo Delfinone, who flourished in the times of the last Duke Sforza, whose portrait he executed in embroidery, besides several large works, among which is the life of our lady, worked for the cardinal Baiosa. This skill became hereditary in the family, and Scipione, the son of Girolamo, was equally distinguished. His chases of different animals were in great request for royal cabinets, a number of them being collected by Philip of Spain and the English King Henry. Marcantonio, son of Scipione, followed the genius of the family, and is mentioned by Lomazzo in 1591 as a youth of great promise. This [Pg 282]writer has also praised for her skill in the same line, Caterina Cantona, a noble Milanese lady, and has omitted the name of Pellegrini, the Minerva of her time, only perhaps because she had then hardly become celebrated. Other individuals of this house are mentioned in the list of artists. Andrea, who painted in the choir of S. Girolamo, and a Pellegrino his cousin, celebrated in the history of Palomino for his productions in the Escurial, and being both architect and painter to the royal court. The lady of whom I write, how far related to them I know not, devoted herself wholly to her needle, and by her hand were embroidered the great pallium (vestment) and other sacred furniture, still preserved in the sacristy of the cathedral, and exhibited to strangers with other curious specimens of ancient learning and the arts. In the Guide for 1783, she is called Antonia, and in that for 1787 Lodovica, unless, indeed, they were two different persons. In the following age Boschini mentioned, with high commendation, the unrivalled Dorothea Aromatari, who, he adds, produced with her needle all those beauties which the finest and most diligent artists exhibited with their pencil. To hers he unites with praise the names of some other female embroiderers of the age; and we, in mentioning that of Arcangela Paladini, had occasion to commend her paintings and her needlework at the same time.

[48] Amoretti, Memorie Storiche di Leonardo da Vinci, p. 20.

[49] This work was reprinted at Florence, together with the figures, 1792, an edition taken from a copy in the hand of Stefano della Bella, belonging to the Riccardi library. It was published by the learned librarian, the Ab. Fontani, with the eulogy of Vinci, abounding with information on his life and paintings, as well as on his designs attached to it. To this is added the eulogy of Stefano, and a Dissertation of Lami upon the Italian painters and sculptors who flourished between the tenth and the thirteenth centuries.

[50] Cellini declares that he borrowed a great number of excellent observations upon perspective from one of Vinci's discourses. (Tratt. ii. p. 153.)

[51] Plin. lib. xxxv. c. 10. Uno se prŠstare, quod manum ille de tabulÔ nesciret tollere. This he said in reference to that Jalysus, on which Protogenes had bestowed no less than seven years.

[52] (Page 329.) The Sig. Baldassare Orsini has likewise inveighed against the inconsiderate retouchings of old paintings, in his Risposta, p. 77; where he also alludes to a letter of Hakert's, in defence of varnishes, and to another in reply, in which the use of them is disapproved by force of examples. He moreover cites a Supplementary Letter drawn from the Roman Journal of Fine Arts, for December, 1788.

[53] A number of designs are to be seen in his MS. volumes belonging to the Ambrosian collection. See Mariette's letter, in vol. ii. of Lett. Pittoriche, p. 171; and, also, "Observations upon the Designs of Lionardo," by the Ab. Amoretti, Ed. of Milan, 1784.

[54] It was intended for the equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza, father of Lodovico. The Cav. Fr. Sabba da Castiglione has mentioned in his Ricordi, No. 109, that this very ingenious model, so greatly celebrated in the annals of the arts, which cost Vinci sixteen years to complete, was seen by the writer in 1499, converted into a target for the Gascon bowmen in the service of Louis XII. when he became master of Milan.

[55] Amoretti, Mem. Stor. del Vinci, p. 130.

[56] See Amoretti, p. 90.

[57] Can there be any doubt whether he was blind or not, when he wrote the following verses:

Quindi andai[n] a Piacenza, et ivi fei

Nel refetorio di Sant'Agostino

La facciata con tal historia pinta.

Da lontan evvi Piero in orazione

Che vede gi¨ dal ciel un gran lenzuolo

Scender pien d'animai piccioli e grandi

Onde la Quadragesma fu introdotta, &c.

[Pg 283]



The Procaccini and other foreign and native artists establish a new Academy, with new styles, in the city and state of Milan.

The two series which we have hitherto described have gradually brought us towards the seventeenth century, when there scarcely remained a trace either of the Vinci or Gaudenzio manner. This arose from their latest successors, who adopted, more or less, those new manners which were gradually introduced into Milan at the expense of the ancient style. As early as the time of Gaudenzio appeared in that city the Coronation of Thorns, painted by Titian, which was so greatly admired that several of his pupils came to establish themselves there, besides other foreigners. Some unfortunate circumstances also occurred; particularly the plague, which more than once, in the same century, desolated the state, and which, sweeping off native artists, opened the way to strangers who succeeded to their commissions. Hence Lomazzo, at the close of his Tempio, only commends three [Pg 284]among the Milanese figure-painters, who then flourished, Luini, Gnocchi, and Duchino, the rest being all foreigners. The attachment shewn by several noble families to the arts, conduced to invite them thither, and in particular that of the Borromea, which presented to the archiepiscopal seat of their country two distinguished prelates, cardinal Carlo, who added to the number of saints at the altar, and Federigo, who nearly attained the same honours. Both were inspired by the same spirit of religion; they were simple in private, but splendid and liberal in public. Out of their economy they clothed and fed numbers of citizens, and promoted the dignity of the sanctuary, and of their country. They erected and restored many noble edifices, and decorated with paintings a far greater number both in and beyond the city, insomuch as to make it observed that Milan was no less indebted to the Borromei than Florence to her Medici, or Mantua to her Gonzaghi. The Car. Federigo, who received his education first at Bologna, then at Rome, not only possessed a decided inclination but a taste for the fine arts; and he also enjoyed a longer and more tranquil pontificate than Carlo, so as to enable him to afford them superior patronage. Not satisfied with employing the ablest architects, sculptors, and painters in public works, he rekindled, as it were, the spark that yet survived of Vinci's academy, instituting, with much care and expense, a new academy of the fine arts. He provided it with schools, with [Pg 285]casts, and a very choice picture gallery,[58] for the benefit of the young students, taking advantage of the plan and rules of the Roman academy, founded a few years before, with his co-operation. The grand colossal figure of S. Carlo reflects equal honour on the new school and on its founder, being executed in bronze from the design of Cerani, and exhibited at Arona, the place where the saint was born; a statue fourteen times the height of the human figure, and vieing with the grandest productions of Greek or Egyptian statuary. In painting, however, to say the truth, the new is not equal to the ancient school, though by no means deficient in fine artists, as we shall shew. Meanwhile we must resume the thread of our history, and explain how the Milanese, being reduced to very few artists, while painters were much in request for the ornament of churches and other public edifices, greatly [Pg 286]on the increase, were superseded by foreign artists, such as the Campi, the Semini, the Procaccini, and the Nuvoloni, who introduced new styles, while others were sought out in foreign parts by some of the citizens of Milan, particularly by Cerano and by Morazzone. These became the instructors of almost all the Milanese youth, and of the state; these commencing their labours about 1570, which they continued until after 1600, at length rose so superior to the ancient schools, not so much in soundness of taste and maxims, as in the amenity of their colours, as gradually to extinguish them. Nor did they only aim at teaching new styles; some of them began to treat them with so much haste as to fall into mannerism, from which period their school began to decline, and appeared to have adopted as a maxim to praise the theory of the ancients, and to practise the haste of the moderns. But let us return to our subject.

I mentioned, not far back, in treating of Titian's disciples, the names of Callisto da Lodi and Gio. da Monte, and I have here to add that of Simone Peterzano, or Preterazzano, who, on his PietÓ, at S. Fedele, inscribed himself Titiani Discipulus; and his close imitation seems to confirm its truth. He produced also works in fresco, and particularly at S. Barnaba several histories of St. Paul. He there appears to have aimed at uniting the expression, the foreshortening, and the perspective of the Milanese to the colouring of the Venetian artists; noble works, if they were thoroughly correct; [Pg 287]and if the author had been as excellent in fresco as in oil painting. From Venice, or rather from its Senate, we trace the name of Cesare Dandolo, who went to settle at Milan, and whose paintings adorn various palaces, esteemed no less for their art than on account of the rank of the noble artist.

The Campi were among the most eager to establish themselves at Milan, where they were much employed, and Bernardino more than the rest. He painted, likewise, in the adjacent cities, and it was at that period that he completed for the Certosa, at Pavia, the before-mentioned altar-piece of Andrea Solari, which, remaining unfinished at his death, was, after the lapse of many years, completed in the same style by Bernardino, so as to appear wholly from the same hand. Unable alone to despatch his commissions, he had his cartoons coloured by his pupils, who became, like their master, accurate, precise, and worthy of the commendations bestowed upon them by Lomazzo. One of these was Giuseppe Meda, both painter and architect, who represented upon an organ, in the Metropolitana, the figure of David seen playing before the ark. This work is cited by Orlandi, under the name of Carlo Meda, who, perhaps, belonged to the family of the preceding, and who, as stated in the dictionary, appears younger. Few of his other pictures are to be seen, as is observed by Scannelli. Another was Daniello Cunio, of Milan, who became a landscape painter of great merit; perhaps a brother, [Pg 288]or other relation of the same Ridolfo Cunio, who is met with in several Milanese collections, and is particularly celebrated for his design. The third was Carlo Urbini da Crema, one of the least celebrated but most deserving artists of his age, and one whom we have commemorated elsewhere. Lamo observes, that Bernardino had a vast number of scholars and assistants, and from his account, we are here enabled to add the names of Andrea da Viadana, Giuliano or Giulio de' Capitani, of Lodi, and Andrea Marliano, of Pavia. Perhaps, also, Andrea Pellini belongs to this list, who, though unknown in his native city of Cremona, is celebrated at Milan for his Descent from the Cross, placed at S. Eustorgio, in 1595.

Of a later date, appeared at Milan the two Semini, from Genoa; both of whom were much employed, and both disciples of the Roman more than any other style. Ottavio, the eldest, instructed Paol Camillo Landriani, called Il Duchino, who was justly praised in the Tempio of Lomazzo as a youth of the greatest promise. He subsequently produced a number of altar-pieces, among which was a Nativity, at S. Ambrogio, in which, to the design and elegance of his master, he unites perhaps a greater degree of softness. The professors hitherto described, do not reach the era of the art's decline, except, possibly, in their extreme old age; insomuch as to be fully worthy of the praise I bestow.

The artists, however, who more particularly employed [Pg 289]themselves in painting and teaching at Milan during this period, were the Procaccini of Bologna. Though not mentioned by Lomazzo in his Treatise, in the year 1584, they are afterwards, in 1590, recorded with much honour in his Tempio; so that we may infer that they became celebrated during the intervening period at Milan, where they afterwards established themselves in 1609. Ercole is at the head of this family, whom Orlandi, following Malvasia, represents in a military manner, as having lost the field at Bologna, where he could no longer "make head against the Samacchini, the Cesi, the Sabbatini, the Passarotti, the Fontana, the Caracci, though he afterwards encountered the Figini, the Luini, the Cerani, and the Morazzoni, at Milan." I am at a loss how to verify such an assertion. Ercole was born in 1520, as I gathered from a MS. of P. Resta, in the Ambrosian library; and in 1590, when the "Temple of Painting" first issued from the press, he was very old, nor did he ever exhibit any of his pictures in public at Milan, so that Lomazzo ought to have sought subjects for commendation of him from Parma, and more particularly Bologna. Many of his works still remain there, from which we may decide whether Malvasia and Baldinucci had more reason to represent him as an artist of mediocrity, or Lomazzo to entitle him a very successful imitator of the great Coreggio's colouring, as well as of his grace and beauty. In my own opinion he appears somewhat minute in design, and feeble in his colouring, [Pg 290]resembling the tone of the Florentines; a thing so common among his contemporaries, that I know not why it should be made a peculiar reproach to him. For the rest he is more pleasing, accurate, and exact, than most artists of his age; and possibly his over diligence acted as an obstacle to him in a city where the rapid Fontana bore the chief sway. But this quality, besides exempting him from the mannerism then beginning to prevail, rendered him an excellent preceptor; whose principal duty is found to consist in checking the impatience of young artists, and accustoming them to precision and delicacy of taste. Thus many excellent pupils sprung from his school, such as Samacchini, Sabbatini, and Bertoia. He instructed also his three sons, Camillo, Giulio Cesare, and Carlo Antonio, from which last sprung Ercole the younger; all masters of young Milanese artists, and of whom it will be our business to treat in succession.

Camillo is the only one of the three who was known to Lomazzo, who describes him as an artist distinguished both for his design and his colouring. He received his first instructions from his father, and often displays a resemblance in his heads, and in the distribution of his tints; though, where he painted with care, he both warmed and broke them, as well as employed the middle colours, in a superior manner. He studied other schools, and if we are to believe some of his biographers, he practised at Rome from the models of Raffaello and Michelangiolo, besides being passionately devoted [Pg 291]to the heads of Parmigianino, an imitation of which is perceptible in all his works. He possessed wonderful facility both in conception and execution; added to nature, beauty, and spirit, always attractive to the eye, though they do not always satisfy the judgment. Nor is this surprising, as he early threw off the reign of paternal instruction, and executed works enough to have employed ten artists, at Bologna, at Ravenna, Reggio, Piacenza, Pavia, and Genoa. He was by many called the Vasari, and the Zuccaro of Lombardy; although to say truth, he surpasses them in sweetness of style and of colours. He was particularly engaged at Milan, a city which boasts some of his best productions, by which he obtained reputation there; and many of his worst, with which he satisfied those who valued his name. Of his earliest works there, and the most free from mannerism, are those adorning the exterior of the organ at the Metropolitana, along with various mysteries of our Lady, and two histories of David playing upon his harp; all described very minutely by Malvasia. But he produced nothing in Milan equal to his Judgment at S. Procol di Reggio, esteemed one of the finest specimens of fresco in all Lombardy; and to his S. Rocco among the sick and dying of the plague, a picture that intimidated Annibal Caracci, when he had to paint a companion for it, (see Malvasia, p. 466). The pictures produced by Camillo, in the cathedral of Piacenza, where the Duke of Parma had placed [Pg 292]him in competition with Lodovico Caracci, whose genius was then mature, are well and carefully executed. He there represented our Lady crowned Queen of the Universe by the Almighty, surrounded with a very full choir of Angels, in whose forms he displayed the most finished beauty. It was the part of Lodovico to represent other angels around; and opposite to the Coronation the Padri del Limbo. The first occupied the most distinguished place in the tribune; though both then and now he was esteemed by spectators the least worthy of the two. However advantageously he there appears, and entitled to the applause of Girupeno and other historians, as well as travellers, he at the same time loses a portion of his consequence at the side of Caracci, who, by the novelty of his ideas, the natural expression of his countenances, of his attitudes, and of his symbols, especially in those angels opposed to the more common conceptions of his rival, makes the monotony and weakness of Procaccini the more remarkable. Caracci's superior dignity, likewise, in his figures of the patriarchs, throws that of Camillo's Divinity into the shade. They also executed some histories of the Madonna, placed opposite each other; and almost bearing the same proportion as we have already mentioned. But as the Caracci were few, Procaccini for the most part triumphed over his competitors. He is even now well received in the collections of the great, and our own prince has recently obtained one of his Assumptions, with [Pg 293]Apostles surrounding the tomb of Jesus, a picture full of variety, and in a grand manner.

Giulio Cesare, the best of the Procaccini, at first devoted himself to sculpture with success, subsequently attaching himself to painting, as to a less laborious and more pleasing art. He frequented the Caracci Academy at Bologna; and it is said, that taking offence at some satirical observations of Annibal's, he struck, and even wounded him. His French biographer states Giulio's birth to have occurred in 1548, though he postpones this quarrel until 1609, in which year the Procaccini established themselves at Milan. It must have occurred, however, much earlier, as in 1609 Giulio was a renowned painter, while Annibal was in his decline. Giulio Cesare's studies were directed to the models of Coreggio, and it is the opinion of many, that no one approached nearer to the grand style of that artist. In his small pictures, with few figures, in which imitation is more easy, he has often been mistaken for his original, though his elegance cannot boast the same clear and native tone, nor his colours the same rich and vigorous handling. One of his Madonnas, at S. Luigi de' Francesi, at Rome, was, in fact, engraved not long since for a work of Allegri, by an excellent artist; and there are other equally fine imitations at the Sanvitali Palace, in Parma; in that of the Careghi, in Genoa, and other places. Among his numerous altar-pieces, the one I have seen, which displays most of the Coreggio manner, is at [Pg 294]S. Afra, in Brescia. It represents the Virgin and Child, surrounded with some figures of Angels and Saints, which are seen gazing and smiling upon him. He has perhaps, indeed, gone somewhat beyond the limits of propriety, in order to attain more grace, which is the case with his Nunziata, at S. Antonio, in Milan; in which the Holy Virgin and Angel are seen smiling at each other; a circumstance hardly compatible either with the time or the mystery. In his attitudes, also, he was occasionally guilty of extravagance, as in his Martyrdom of S. Nazario, in the church of that name, a picture attractive by its harmony and its grace, though the figure of the executioner is in too forced a position. Giulio left many very large histories, such as his Passage of the Red Sea, at S. Vittore, in Milan; and more in Genoa, where Soprani has pointed them out. What is surprising, in so vast a number of his pieces, is the accuracy of his design, the variety of his ideas, and his diligence both in his naked and dressed parts, combined at the same time with a grandeur, which, if I mistake not, he derived from the Caracci. In the Sacristy of S. Maria, at Sarono, is his picture of Saints Andrea, Carlo, and Ambrogio, displaying the most dignified character of their school; if, indeed, we are not to suppose, that in common with the Caracci, he acquired it from those magnificent models of the art at Parma.

To these two may be added Carlantonio Procaccini, not as a figure, but a good landscape [Pg 295]painter, and a tolerable hand in drawing fruits and flowers. He produced a variety of pieces for the Milanese gallery, which happening to please the court, then one of the branches of Spain, he had frequent commissions from that country, insomuch that he rose, though the weakest of the family, into the highest repute.

The Procaccini opened school at Milan, where they obtained the reputation of kind and able masters, educating, both for the city and state, so great a number of artists, that it would be neither possible nor useful to comprise them all in a history. They could boast among them some inventors of a new style, the same as the disciples of the Caracci; though most of them aimed at observing the manner of their masters; some maintaining it by their accuracy, and others injuring it by their over haste. We reserve the series of them, however, to the last epoch, in order not to disperse the same school through different parts.

The last of the foreigners who then gave instructions at Milan, was Panfilo Nuvolone, a noble Cremonese, of whose style we treated at length in the list of the Cav. Trotti's disciples. He was a diligent rather than an imaginative artist, and produced no works of any extent at Milan, except for the nunneries of Saints Domenico and Lazzaro, where he painted in the ceiling the history of Lazarus and the Rich Man, with true pictoric splendour; which is no less apparent in his Assumption of the Virgin, in the cupola of the Passione. In his [Pg 296]altar-pieces, and histories executed for the ducal gallery at Parma, he aimed rather at perfecting than at multiplying his figures. He instructed his four sons, two of whom are unknown in the history of the art, and the two others are frequently mentioned by different illustrators of the paintings of Milan, of Piacenza, of Parma, and of Brescia; where they are also surnamed, from their father, the Panfili. We shall, however, treat of them more particularly in the age during which they flourished.

Fede Galizia introduced another foreign style into Milan, a female artist, who, according to Orlandi, was a native of Trent. Her father, Annunzio, was a celebrated miniaturist, born at the same place, and a resident at Milan, and from him perhaps she acquired that taste for accuracy and finish of hand, no less remarkable in her figures than in her landscapes; in other points, more similar to the Bolognese predecessors of the Caracci, than to any other school. There are some specimens of her style in foreign collections. One of her best studied pictures is seen at S. Maria Maddalena, where she painted the titular saint, with the figure of Christ in the dress of a gardener. This lady has been criticised by the excellent author of the Guide, for her too great study of the ideal, which she aimed at introducing both into her design and colouring, at the expense of nature and of truth, a practice pretty much in vogue at that period in Italy. About the same time, one Orazio Vaiano was employed a good deal at Milan, where he long resided, [Pg 297]called Il Fiorentino from his extraction. He, in some way, came to be confounded, in some of his pictures, with the elder Palma, as we are informed by Orlandi; but how, it is difficult to say. The specimens of his composition at S. Carlo and at S. Antonio Abate, are judicious and diligent, though somewhat feeble in point of colouring; and in the distribution of their lights much resembling the tone of Roncalli. He likewise visited Genoa; but neither he nor Galizia, as I am aware, left any pupils at Milan. The same may be said of the two Carloni, noble fresco painters belonging to Genoa, and of Valerio Profondavalle, from Lovanio, who painted glass, as well as in oil and in fresco, for all which he had frequent commissions at court.

We ought here to add the name of Federigo Zuccari, an artist invited by the Card. Federigo Borromeo to take up his residence at Milan, where, as well as at Pavia, he painted, as we have mentioned, (at p. 139, vol. ii). I am indebted to the polite and kind attention of Sig. Bernardo Gattoni, chaplain and rector of the other Borromean college at Pavia, for correcting an error into which I had fallen, from following the local tradition rather than the written authority of the same Zuccheri, in his "Passaggio per l'Italia," a very rare work, and which I had not seen at that time. In it are described the pictures of the Borromean college at Pavia; and it appears, that Zuccari produced no other besides the principal picture, that of S. Carlo, who is seen in the Consistory in the act of [Pg 298]receiving the cardinal's hat; the rest being from the hand of Cesare Nebbia, who flourished at the same period. In order to have them retouched at leisure, while they were left to dry, the cardinal Federigo despatched the two artists to visit the sacred mount of Varallo, whence they passed to Arona, and next to the Isola Bella, situated upon the Lago Maggiore, where the cardinal joined them, and where each of them left a work in fresco, upon two pilasters of the chapel at that place. There has since been found in the archives of the college, an original letter of the cardinal, in which he recommends to the then rector, that Nebbia should be received into the college, and the sums of money disbursed to both, entered in the books of account.

Proceeding next to those artists who studied at other places, I shall briefly mention Ricci of Novara, with Paroni and Nappi of Milan, not omitting others of the same place, commemorated in the lives of Baglioni. Residing at Rome, they in no way contributed to the fame of their native school, neither by their pupils, nor their example; and even at Rome, they may be said to have added rather to the number of paintings than to the decoration of the city. Ricci was a fresco painter, very well adapted to the hasty temper of Sixtus V., whose works he superintended, and promoted the effeminate taste then so prevalent; he possessed much facility and beauty of forms. Paroni pursued the manner of Caravaggio, but his career was short. [Pg 299]Nappi displays great variety; and when he painted in his Lombard manner, such as in his Assumption, at the cloister of the Minerva, with other pieces at the UmiltÓ, he shewed himself a naturalist far more pleasing than the mannerists of his time.

There flourished likewise, for a few years, at Rome, the Cav. Pier Francesco Mazzuchelli, called from his birthplace Morazzone. After practising there for a period, from all the best models, which influenced both his mind and his productions, he directed his attention to the Milanese School, in which he taught, and succeeded beyond all example, in improving his own style. It will be sufficient to compare his picture of the Epiphany which he painted in fresco for one of the chapels of S. Silvestro in capite, which boasts no beauty beyond that of colouring; and his other Epiphany, placed at S. Antonio Abate, at Milan, which appears like the production of another hand; such is the superiority of the design, the effect, and the display of drapery, in the manner of the Venetians. He is said to have studied Titian and Paul Veronese; and some of his angels are painted with arms and legs, in those long proportions that are not the best characteristics of Tintoretto. In general, the genius of Morazzone was not adapted for the graceful, but for the strong and magnificent; as appears in his S. Michael's Conquest over the bad Angels, at S. Gio. di Como, and in the chapel of the Flagellazione, at Varese. In 1626 he was invited to Piacenza, to paint the [Pg 300]grand cupola of the cathedral, a work which was left very incomplete by his death, and bestowed upon Guercino. He had drawn the figures of two prophets, which, in any other place, would have appeared to the greatest advantage; but there they are thrown into the shade by those of his successor, that magician of his art, who threw into it the whole enchantment of which he was capable. Morazzone was employed for different collections, no less than for churches; and received a number of commissions from Cardinal Federigo, and the king of Sardinia, from which last he received his title of cavalier.

Contemporary with him flourished Gio. Batista Crespi, better known by the name of Cerano, his native place, a small town in the Novarese. Sprung from a family of artists, which left specimens of its genius at S. Maria di Busto, where his grandfather Gio. Piero, and Raffaello, his father or uncle, (I am not certain which,) had been employed. He studied at Rome, and at Venice, uniting to that of painting great knowledge in the art of modelling, as well as in architecture; being, moreover distinguished for good taste in literature and for polite accomplishments. With such qualifications he took the lead at the court of Milan, from which he received a salary; no less than in the great undertakings of the Card. Federigo, and in the direction of the academy. Not to dwell upon the buildings, statues, and bassi-relievi, which he either designed or executed, but which are less [Pg 301]connected with my subject, he painted a great number of altar-pieces, in which he at once exhibited, if I mistake not, great excellences and great defects. He is invariably free, spirited, and harmonious; but he frequently, from too great affectation of grace or of magnificence, falls into a degree of mannerism, as in some of his histories at the Pace, where his naked figures are heavy, and the attitudes of others too extravagant. In his other subjects these defects are less apparent; but here he has also overloaded his shadows. In the greater part of his works, notwithstanding, the correct and the beautiful so far abounds, as to shew that he was one of the first masters of his school. Thus in his Baptism of S. Agostino, painted for S. Marco, he rivals Giulio Cesare Procaccini, whose productions are placed opposite, and in the opinion of some he surpasses him. Another instance occurs in his altar-piece of saints Carlo and Ambrogio, at Santo Paolo, where, in taste of colouring at least he surpasses the Campi; and a third in his celebrated picture of the Rosario, at S. Lazzaro, which casts into shade the fine fresco painting of Nuvoloni. He was particularly skilled in drawing birds and quadrupeds, of which he composed pictures for private ornament, as we gather from Soprani in his life of Sinibaldo Scorza. He educated many pupils, whom we shall reserve for an inferior epoch, excepting Daniele Crespi of Milan, who, on account of his worth, and the period in which [Pg 302]he flourished, ought not to be separated from his master.

Daniele is one among those distinguished Italians who are hardly known beyond their native place. He possessed, however, rare genius, and, instructed by Cerano, and afterwards by the best of the Procaccini, undoubtedly surpassed the first, and in the opinion of many likewise the second, though he did not live to reach the age of forty. He had great penetration in learning, and equal facility in executing, selecting the best part of every master he studied, and knowing how to reject the worst. Familiar with the maxims of the Caracci school, even without frequenting it, he adopted and practised them with success. He shews this in his distribution of colours, and in the varied expression of his countenances; select and careful in disposing them according to the prevailing passions of the mind; and above all, admirable in catching the beautiful and devotional spirit that ought to inspire the heads of saints. In the distribution of his figures he at once observes a natural and well judged order, so that no one would wish to behold them placed otherwise than they are. Their drapery is finely varied, and very splendid in the more imposing characters of the piece. His colouring is extremely powerful, no less in oil than in fresco; and in the highly ornamented church of La Passione, for which he painted his grand Descent from the Cross, he left many portraits of distinguished [Pg 303]cardinals, all composed in the best Titian taste. He is indeed one of those rare geniuses who delight in being constant rivals of themselves, calling forth their highest energies in each production, in order that they may in some way surpass the last; geniuses, who know how to correct in their later paintings the errors they committed in their first, exhibiting in them the full maturity of those excellences which they discovered in their early attempts. His last pieces, consisting of acts from the life of S. Brunone, at the Certosa, in Milan, are of all the most admired. That of the Dottor Parigino is more particularly celebrated, in which, having raised himself on his bier, he declares his state of reprobation. What desperation he exhibits! what horror in the faces of the beholders! Nor is that of the Duke of Calabria less excellent, where, in going to the chase, he meets with the holy hermit, a picture upon which the artist inscribed, Daniel Crispus Mediolanensis pinxit hoc templum. An. 1629. This was the year before his death, as he was unhappily cut off by the plague of 1630, together with his whole family.

We may here add, as a sort of corollary to the foregoing, the names of some other artists who displayed great merit, though it is uncertain of what school. Such is Gio. Batista Tarillio, by whom there was an altar-piece with the date of 1575, painted for the now suppressed church of S. Martino in Compito. There are some pictures [Pg 304]by another native of Milan, named Ranuzio Prata, at Pavia. These I have not seen; they are, however, greatly commended by others. He flourished about 1635. The Novarese also boasted at that period two artists who were brothers, both of whom coloured in pretty good taste. These were Antonio and Gio. Melchiore Tanzi, the former a very able designer, who competed with Carloni at Milan, distinguished himself at Varallo, and painted at S. Gaudenzio di Novara the Battle of Senacherib, a work full of spirit and intelligence. There are likewise other of his works preserved in the galleries of Vienna, of Venice, and of Naples, representing both histories and perspectives; but of his brother there is nothing remaining of any great degree of merit.

[58] He was one of the first in Italy who collected paintings of the Flemish School, which was then fast rising into reputation. His agreement with Gio. Breughel[o] still exists, who painted for the academic collection at Milan the Four Elements, pictures very often repeated, of which copies are to be seen in the royal gallery at Florence, in the Melzi collection at Milan, and in several at Rome. The artist, who had great skill in drawing flowers, fruits, herbs, birds, and animals, of which he formed copious and beautiful compositions, displayed a grand variety in these, and was no less admirable in his high finish, in the clearness of his colours, and in other qualities which acquired him the esteem of the greatest artists, among whom Rubens was one who availed himself of his talents for landscape, which he introduced into his own pictures.

[Pg 305]



The Art continues to decline after the time of Daniele Crespi. A third Academy is founded with a view of improving it.

We now approach the last epoch, which may be truly entitled the decline of this school. I recollect hearing the opinion of a good judge, that Daniele Crespi might be called the last of the Milanese, just as in another sense Cato was pronounced ultimus Romanorum. The observation is correct, so far as it applies to certain geniuses superior to the common lot, but false if we should extend it to the exclusion of every artist of merit from the period which it embraces. It would be injustice to the names of Nuvoloni and Cairo, and several others who flourished in an age nearer our own. But in the same way as Cassiodorus and some other writers are insufficient to remove the stain of barbarism from their age, so the artists we treat of cannot redeem theirs from the stigma of its decline. It is the majority which invariably gives a tone to the times; and he who may have seen Milan and its state would be at no loss to remark, that after the introduction of the Procaccini School, design was more than ever neglected, and [Pg 306]mechanical practice succeeded to reason and taste. Artists, after the visitation of the plague, had become more rare; and subsequent to the death of the Cardinal Borromeo, in 1631, they became less united, insomuch that the academy founded by him remained closed during twenty years; and if by the exertions of Antonio Busca it was then re-opened, still it never afterwards produced works similar to those of other times. Whether owing to the manner of teaching, to the want of its great patron, or to the abundance of commissions and the kindness of those who gave them, which urged young artists prematurely to make abortive efforts; no school, perhaps, on the loss of its great masters, was filled with so great a number of inferior and bad ones. I shall not give much account of them, yet must not omit such names as have attained to some consideration. In general it may be remarked of the artists of this epoch, that though the pupils of different schools, they display a mutual resemblance, as much as if they had been instructed by the same master. They possess no character that strikes the eye, no beauty of proportions, no vivacity of countenance, no grace in their colouring. Their whole composition appears languid, even their imitation of the head of the school does not please, as it is either deficient, or overdone, or falls into insignificance. In their choice of colours we detect a certain resemblance to the Bolognese School, to which their guides were not very much opposed, though we often perceive [Pg 307]that sombre cast which then prevailed in nearly all the other schools.

To this uniformity of style in Milan, Ercole Procaccini the younger most probably contributed, an artist in whom an unprejudiced critic will be at no loss to detect the character we have described. But in his more studied works, as we find in an Assumption, at S. M. Maggiore, in Bergamo, he exhibits dignity, spirit, and a happy imitation of the Coreggio manner. He received his first instructions from his father Carlantonio, and next from Giulio Cesare, his paternal uncle. It is known that by public report, by his insinuating manners, and by the family reputation, he arrived at a degree of consideration beyond his merit, and lived till he reached the age of eighty. Hence he induced many to follow his maxims, and the more as he kept an open academy for the study of the naked figure at his own house, and succeeded his uncles in their instructions; equal to them perhaps in rapidity, but not so well grounded in the art. He painted much; and in the best collections in Milan, if he is not in as much request as many others, he yet maintains his place.

Two young artists educated in his school reflected credit upon it; Carlo Vimercati, who owed his success to the most pertinacious study of Daniele's works at the Certosa, which he daily visited for a long period while at Milan, and Antonio Busca, who likewise employed his talents upon the best models both at Milan and Rome. Vimercati [Pg 308]exhibited few of his pictures in public at Milan; he painted more at Codogno, and in his best manner, as well as in a new one in which he was greatly inferior. Busca assisted his master, and at S. Marco also was employed in competition with him. There, placed opposite to some histories by Procaccini, is seen his picture of the Crucifixion full of pious beauty, surrounded with figures of the Virgin, of Mary Magdalen, and S. John, who are all weeping, and almost draw tears from the eyes of the spectator. But he did not always succeed as in this specimen; the gout deprived him of the use of his feet, and he fell into a weak and abject style, the result of mere mechanic practice. In this state of health, I imagine, he must have conducted two holy histories, placed opposite each other, in the chapel of S. Siro at the Certosa in Pavia, in which he idly repeated in the second the same features as distinguished the first, so greatly is an artist sometimes in contradiction with himself. A similar complaint might be alleged for a different reason, in regard to the style of Cristoforo Storer, a native of Constance. A pupil to the same Ercole, he also produced works of solid taste, as in the instance of his S. Martino, which I saw in possession of the Ab. Bianconi, a picture much valued by its intelligent owner. Subsequently he became a mannerist, and not unfrequently adopted gross or common ideas. In other points he displays much spirit, and is one of the few belonging to that age who may lay claim to the title of a good [Pg 309]colourist. I am uncertain whether Gio. Ens, of Milan, sprung from the same school, as well as at what precise time he nourished; I know that he was an artist of less talent, whose delicacy often bordered upon weakness, as we may perceive at S. Marco in Milan. Lodovico Antonio David of Lugano, a scholar of Ercole, of Cairo, and of Cignani, resided at Rome. There he produced some portraits, and at one period made the tour of Italy. The city of Venice possesses one of his Nativities at S. Silvestro, conducted in a minute manner, that betrays a disciple of Camillo more than of any other of the Procaccini. He wrote too upon painting, and compiled some account of Coreggio, for which the reader may consult Orlandi under the head of that artist,[59] or perhaps in preference, Tirasboschi, in his life of him.

Next to the nephew of the best Procaccini, I may place the son-in-law of one of the others. This is the Cav. Federigo Bianchi, on whom, after affording him his instructions, Giulio Cesare bestowed the hand of one of his daughters. He derived from his father-in-law his maxims, rather than his forms and attitudes, which display an original air in Bianchi, and are at once graceful and beautiful without affectation. Some of his Holy Families [Pg 310]at S. Stefano and at the Passione are held in much esteem, besides some of his other pictures exhibiting few, but well conceived figures. Such is that of a Visitazione at S. Lorenzo, every way creditable to one of the favourite pupils of Giulio Cesare. He was not distinguished in compositions of a grander character; but he was full of ideas, united to harmony and good keeping, and altogether one of the first Milanese artists in the present age. He was much employed in Piedmont, and we are indebted to him for notices of many artists which he communicated to P. Orlandi, by whom they were made public. This artist is not to be confounded with one Francesco Bianchi, a friend and almost inseparable companion of Antonmaria Ruggieri. They painted together for the most part in fresco, and without the least dispute consented to share all the emolument, all the praise and blame they might receive. They belong to the present age, to which they have bequeathed a more noble example of mutual attachment than of the art they professed.

The greater part of the Procaccini disciples sprung from the school of Camillo. He had likewise taught at Bologna, though his only pupil known there is Lorenzo Franco, who, with his instructions, afterwards became an excellent imitator of the Caracci. In the opinion of P. Resta, however, his style was somewhat too minute; this artist resided and died at Reggio. The school of Camillo at Milan was always full, and no one reflected [Pg 311]upon it greater credit than Andrea Salmeggia of Bergamo, of whom we treated in the preceding book. Becoming a follower of Raffaello at Rome, he occasionally returned to his native place, where he attracted admiration by his productions. Like the rest Gio. Batista Discepoli, called Zoppo di Lugnano, was at one time the disciple of Camillo, but afterwards added much of other styles, and was one of the most natural, powerful, and rich colourists of his time. For the rest he is to be included in the rank of the naturalists, rather than among the lovers of the ideal. Several of his pictures are at Milan, in particular that of his Purgatorio at S. Carlo, executed with much skill; and he painted a good deal for his native place and its confines, as well as at Como, where he ornamented Santa Teresa with a picture of the titular saint, with lateral squares, esteemed one of the best altar-pieces belonging to the city. Carlo Cornara acquired equal reputation, though in an opposite style. He produced few works, but all conducted with an exquisite degree of taste, peculiarly his own, which renders them valuable in collections. One of his best altar-pieces was painted for S. Benedetto, at the Certosa, in Pavia, a picture now much defaced by time, and there are a few others completed by one of his daughters after his death, who added to them some original pieces of her own.

Giovanni Mauro Rovere, an artist who exchanged the manner of Camillo for that of Giulio [Pg 312]Cesare, was among the earliest followers of the Procaccini, and might be referred to their epoch from the period in which he flourished, did not his inferior character, arising from too great rapidity of hand, prevent his admission into the same rank. He had all that fire, which, when directed with judgment, is the soul of painting, but when abused destroys the beauty of the art. It was very seldom that he was able to command it, though, in a Supper of our Lord, at S. Angelo, in which he used great care, he obtained corresponding success. He had two brothers, named Giambatista and Marco, who assisted him in his labours both for churches and private houses, both of whom were inaccurate but spirited. They have left works in fresco, besides some histories in oil, perspectives, battle-pieces, and landscapes, to be met with in almost every corner of the city. I find that they were also surnamed Rossetti, and still better known under the name of Fiamminghini, derived from their father Riccardo, who came from Flanders to establish himself at Milan.

To these three Rossetti, succeeded the three Santagostini, of whom the first, named Giacomo Antonio, was pupil to Carlo Procaccini. He gave few pieces to the public, though his sons Agostino and Giacinto were more indefatigable, both conjointly, as we may gather from their two grand histories at S. Fedele, and separately. They were distinguished above most of their contemporaries, more especially Agostino. He was the first who wrote [Pg 313]a little work upon the paintings of Milan; it was entitled L'ImmortalitÓ e Glorie del Pennello, and published in 1671. Whatever rank a book with such a title ought to assume among the writers of the age, it is certain that his pictures exhibit him in the light of a good painter for his time, in particular a Holy Family, painted for S. Alessandro, and a few others among the more highly finished, in which he displays expression, beauty, and harmony, although somewhat too minute. The names of Ossana, Bissi, Ciocca, Ciniselli, with others still less celebrated at Milan, I may venture to pass over without much loss to this history.

The two Nuvoloni, not long since mentioned, though instructed by their father, may be said, in some way, to belong to the Procaccini. Thus Carlo Francesco, the elder, early adopted the manner of Giulio Cesare; and in Giuseppe we every where trace a composition and colouring derived from that school. The former, however, impelled by his genius, became a follower of Guido, and so far succeeded as to deserve the name, which he still enjoys, of the Guido of Lombardy. He does not abound in figures, but in these he is pleasing and graceful, elegant in his forms and the turn and air of his heads, united to a sweetness and harmony of tints which are seldom met with. I saw one of his heads at S. Vittore, where he drew the Miracle of St. Peter over the Porta Speciosa, and many other pieces at Milan, Parma, Cremona, Piacenza, and Como, in the same excellent taste. [Pg 314]This artist was selected to take the portrait of the Queen of Spain when she visited Milan; and there still appear in private houses those of many noble individuals who employed him. The faces of his Madonnas are in high request for collections, one of which is in the possession of the Conti del Verme, displaying all the grace and beauty so peculiar to him, and which he has here perhaps indulged at the expense of that dignity which should never be lost sight of. Orlandi gives an account of his devotional exercises, which he always performed previous to his painting the portraits of the Virgin. I know not what opinion may be formed upon this point, either by his or my readers. For my own part I indulge the same peculiar admiration of this artist in the rank of painters, as I do of Justus Lipsius among literary men, who, though both seculars, always observed great filial piety towards our Holy Lady; a piety that has descended from the earliest fathers of the church, in a regular line, down to the elect of our own times. His younger brother painted on a much larger scale; boasted more pictoric fire and more fancy; but he did not always display equal taste, nor was exempt from harsh and sombre shadows that detract from his worth. He was more indefatigable than Carlo, painting not only for the cities of Lombardy above mentioned, but for the state of Venice, and many churches in Brescia. His pictures at S. Domenico in Cremona, in particular his grand piece of the Dead Man raised by the [Pg 315]saint, adorned with beautiful architecture, and animated with the most natural expression, are among some of his best works. They were apparently executed in the vigour of life, inasmuch as there are others bearing traces of infirmity, he having pursued the art until his eightieth year, in which his death occurred.

I cannot learn that he left any pupils of note. His brother, Carlo Francesco, however, instructed Gioseffo Zanata, extremely well versed in the art, according to the opinion of Orlandi. Under him, and subsequently under the Venetian artists, studied likewise Federigo Panza, an artist who began with using strong shadows, which he improved as his genius grew more mature. He was well employed and remunerated by the court of Turin. Filippo Abbiati frequented the same school, a man of wonderful talent, adapted for works on an immense scale; rich in ideas, and resolute in executing them. He painted with a certain freedom, amounting to audacity, which, however imperfect, does not fail to please, and would have pleased much more had he been better versed in the principles of his art. He was placed in competition with Federigo Bianchi, in the grand ceiling of S. Alessandro Martire, and with other fine fresco painters; and he every where left evidence of a noble genius. He appears to singular advantage in his Preaching of S. John the Baptist at Sarono, a picture to which is affixed his name. It has few figures, but they are fine and varied, with strong [Pg 316]tints, and very appropriate shadows, which produce a good effect. Pietro Maggi, his disciple, was not equal to him in genius, nor did he observe his moderation and care. Giuseppe Rivola, employed for private persons more than for the public, is also deserving of mention, his fellow citizens esteeming him among the best of Abbiati's pupils.

Cerano, though engaged in a variety of other labours, instructed many pupils, and more particularly Melchiorre Giraldini, with success. He very happily caught the manner of his teacher, easy, agreeable, and harmonious, but still inferior to him in the more masterly power of his pencil. At the Madonna at S. Celso is seen a picture of S. Caterina da Siena by his hand, that has been greatly commended. Cerano gave him his daughter in marriage, and left him the whole of his studio. He engraved in acqua forte some minute histories and battle-pieces in the manner of Callot, and he instructed his son in the same branch, whose battle-pieces have been much prized in collections. He also taught a young artist of Gallarate, named Carlo Cane, who, devoting himself at a more advanced age to the manner of Morazzone, became a great proficient in it. He imitated with some success his strength of colouring and his relief; in other points he was common both in his forms and conceptions. He painted some altars, and in the larger one of the cathedral at Monza, there is one representing different saints, at the feet of whom is seen the figure of a dog, which he inserted in all [Pg 317]his pieces, even that of Paradise, to express his name. He observed an excellent method in his frescos, his histories of Saints Ambrogio and Ugo, which he painted for the grand church of the Certosa at Pavia, as well as others, still retaining all their original freshness. He opened school at Milan, and we may form an idea of the character of his pupils from his own mediocrity. Cesare Fiori, indeed, acquired some degree of reputation, several of whose ornamental works on a great scale, have been made public. He too had a scholar named Andrea Porta, who aimed at catching the manner of Legnanino. There are others who approach the two best of the Cerani, namely, Giuliano Pozzobonelli, an artist of good credit, and Bartolommeo Genovesini,[60] by whom there remain works possessing some degree of grandeur; besides Gio. Batista Secchi, surnamed from his country Caravaggio, who painted for S. Pietro in Gessato, an altar-piece of the Epiphany with his name.

Morazzone had to boast a numerous list of pupils, imitators, and copyists, both at Milan and elsewhere. The Cav. Francesco Cairo reflected honour upon this school, who, having commenced his career, as is usual, by pursuing his master's footsteps, afterwards changed his manner on meeting with better models, which he studied at Rome and Venice. He also worked on a great scale, [Pg 318]and coloured with effect, united, however, to a delicacy of hand and grace of expression, altogether forming a style that surprises us by its novelty. His pictures of the four saints, founders of the church at S. Vittore, of his S. Teresa swooning with celestial love at S. Carlo, his S. Saverio at Brera, various portraits in the Titian manner, and other pieces, public and private, at Milan, at Turin, and elsewhere, entitle him to rank high in the art, though he is not always free from the reproach of sombre colouring. Morazzone derived some credit from the two brothers Gioseffo and Stefano Danedi, more commonly called the Montalti. The first, after being instructed by him in the art, became more refined in his taste under Guido Reni, of whose style he sufficiently partakes, as we may perceive in his Slaughter of the Innocents at S. Sebastiano, and in his Nunziata its companion. Stefano frequented no foreign schools that I know of, though he did not wholly confine himself to Morazzone's manner, rather aiming at refining it upon the example of his brother, and painting with a degree of accuracy and study that he did not find recommended by the taste of his times. His martyrdom of S. Giustina, which he produced for S. Maria in Pedone, forms a specimen of this refinement, while it is moreover exempt from that cold and languid tone which diminishes the value of his other works. One of those artists most attached to Morazzone's style, and who nearest approaches him in the boldness of his pencil, is the Cav. Isidoro Bianchi, [Pg 319]otherwise called Isidoro da Campione, a better fresco than oil painter, from what we gather at the church of S. Ambrosio at Milan, and in others at Como. He was selected by the Duke of Savoy, to complete a large hall at Rivoli, left imperfect by the decease of Pier Francesco. There he was declared painter to the ducal court in 1631.

About the same period flourished at Como, besides the Bustini,[61] the two brothers Gio. Paolo and Gio. Batista Recchi, whose chief merit was in painting frescos, disciples likewise of Morazzone. These artists decorated S. Giovanni, and other churches of their native place, two chapels at Varese, with others in the same vicinity. The second of them also became eminent beyond the state, particularly at S. Carlo in Turin, where he is placed near his master. His style is solid and strong, his colouring forcible, and in the skill of his foreshortening on ceilings, he yields to very few of his day. Pasta in his Guide for Bergamo has deservedly praised him on this score, when speaking of a Santa Grata, seen rising into heaven, a work, he observes, that is admirably delightful. In some of the chambers of the Veneria, at Turin, he was assisted by one Gio. Antonio his nephew. The Milanese Guide mentions several other artists, apparently, judging from their style, instructed by the [Pg 320]preceding, such as Paolo Caccianiga, Tommaso Formenti, and Giambatista Pozzi.

Whilst the Milanese School was thus hastening to its close, and no longer afforded masters of equal promise, either to the first or second of its series, its youth were compelled to have recourse to richer and more genuine sources, and at this period began to disperse in search of new styles. I omit the family of the Cittadini, which established itself at Bologna, or to say truth, I reserve it to its own school. Stefano Legnani, called Il Legnanino, in order to distinguish him from his father Cristoforo, a portrait-painter, became one of the most celebrated artists in Lombardy towards the beginning of this century, having studied the schools of Cignani at Bologna, and Maratta at Rome. In either of these cities he would have been esteemed one of the best disciples of these two masters, had he left there any of his productions; although in course of time he fell into a degree of mannerism. He is tasteful, sober, and judicious in his compositions, with a certain strength and clearness of colouring, not common among the disciples of Maratta. He became famous for his fresco histories, which are seen at S. Marco and at S. Angiolo, where there is also one of his battles, which is won by the protection of St. James the Apostle, which shews a pictoric fire equal to handling the most difficult themes. He left too a variety of works in Genoa, Turin, and Piedmont, besides his painting of the cupola at [Pg 321]Novara, in the church of S. Gaudenzio, than which he produced nothing more truly beautiful.

Andrea Lanzani, after receiving the instructions of Scaramuccia, pupil to Guido, who remained for some period at Milan, passed into the school of Maratta at Rome. But his genius finally decided him to adopt a less placid style, and he began to imitate Lanfranco. His best productions, as it has been observed of others, are those which on his first return from Rome he executed in his native place, while still fresh from the Roman maxims and the Roman models. A proof of this is seen in his S. Carlo Beatified, which on certain days is exhibited along with other pictures in the capital. He painted also a fine piece for the Ambrosian library, representing the actions of Cardinal Federigo, in which there is a rich display of imagination, of drapery, and good effect of chiaroscuro. He is for the most part praised on account of his facility, and the boldness of his hand. He died in Germany, after being honoured with the title of Cavalier, and left no better pupil behind him in Italy than Ottavio Parodi, who resided for a long period at Rome, and is mentioned with commendation by Orlandi. From Rome also, and from the school of Ciro Ferri, Ambrogio Besozzi returned to Milan, in order to study the Cortona manner as a counterpoise to that of Maratta. But he chiefly employed himself in ornamental, rather than historic painting, though very able in the last, [Pg 322]as far as we may judge from his S. Sebastian, at S. Ambrogio. He studied Pagani at Venice, and likewise taught there, boasting the celebrated Pellegrini as one of his disciples. Zanetti remarks that he introduced into the academies of that city a new taste of design for the naked figure, somewhat overstrained, indeed, but of good effect. He left there a few pieces in public, and returned to close his days in Lombardy. The churches and collections of Milan abound with his pictures, and there are others in the Dresden gallery.

Pietro Gilardi passed from his native school into that of Bologna, and there, under Franceschini and Giangioseffo del Sole, greatly improved himself. His style is clear, easy, harmonious, and adapted to adorn cupolas, ceilings, and magnificent walls, as appears in the refectory of S. Vittore, at Milan, where his works do him credit. At Varese he completed the chapel of the Assumption, after the cartoons of Legnanino, who died before it was finished; and a few of his own works left imperfect by death were, in their turn, continued and finished by the Cav. Gio. Batista Sassi.

The style of this artist, who had assiduously employed himself under Solimene in Naples, is tolerable in regard to design. Though he painted for several churches in Pavia, and at Milan, he acquired most reputation from his small pictures, intended for private ornament. I am not certain whether he introduced into these parts those greenish tints in colouring, which, from Naples, spread [Pg 323]through different schools, or whether it came by way of Turin, where one Corrado Giaquinto was employed in drawing figures, and in painting. Such method, however, did not here displease. Gioseffo Petrini da Carono, pupil to Prete of Genoa, has carried it to its highest point, while Piero Magatti of Varese is not wholly free from it, who flourished very recently: both were reputed good artists according to their time. Nor could so great a city be in want of some Venetian disciples, who have distinguished themselves in our own times; we behold some imitations of Piazzetta, and some of Tiepolo, in a few of the churches, it being usual with young artists to follow living masters in lucrative practice, in preference to the deceased whose emoluments are past. We ought here to insert the name of an eminent Milanese, who reflected honour on his native state in foreign parts. This was Francesco Caccianiga, well known at Rome, though little among his own countrymen. Having treated of him, however, in the Roman School, I shall merely recall his memory and merits to my readers. Neither must I omit his contemporary, Antonio Cucchi, who remained at Milan, not as his equal, but because he became eminent in the footsteps of the Romans, for the diligence, if not for the spirit of his pencil. Nor shall I pass over Ferdinando Porta, distinguished for a number of pictures, conducted in imitation of Coreggio; an artist, however, too inconstant and unequal to himself. These names will suffice for the present [Pg 324]epoch, which produced, indeed, others of some note, but not known beyond the confines of their own state. Such works as the Pitture d' Italia, and the Nuova Guida di Milano, will furnish the curious with information respecting them, until some further accounts of them be presented to the public.

From the period when the capital began to encourage the foreign schools preferably to her own, the cities of the state followed the example, in particular that of Pavia, which, during this last century, has had to boast more professors than any other state. Yet none of these moderns are much known beyond the precincts of their native place. Carlo Soriani,[62] however, deserved to be better known, an artist who painted for the cathedral his picture of the Rosario, accompanied by fifteen mysteries, an elegant production in the taste of Soiaro. The series of the artists alluded to begins with Carlo Sacchi, who is said by Orlandi to have been taught by Rosso of Pavia, but most probably by Carlantonio Rossi, a Milanese, who painted for the cathedral of Pavia his S. Siro, and two lateral pieces in the best Procaccini taste, and is described in the Abbeccederio as an eccentric man, though well versed in his art. Sacchi continued his studies at Rome and Venice, and when he wished to imitate Paul Veronese, as in his Miracle of the Dead resuscitated by S. Jacopo, which is placed at the Osservanti, he succeeded admirably, shewing himself a good [Pg 325]colourist, splendid in ornament, spirited in attitude, except that in these he is somewhat extravagant and affected. He supplied different collections, and I saw an Adam and Eve by him in possession of the Cav. Brambilla at Pavia, entitled to a place in that fine collection. It is doubtful whether Gio. Batista Tassinari ought to be ranked among his fellow disciples, if we only regard the period in which he flourished. But we may with more certainty, upon Orlandi's authority, pronounce Carlo Bersotti to have been his pupil, an excellent artist in inferior branches, to which he confined himself. Tommaso Gatti, together with Bernardino Ciceri, were, however, his best pupils, the first of whom pursued his studies at Venice, the second at Rome, and both succeeded at least as practical artists. Gatti instructed Marcantonio Pellini, and then consigned him to the schools of Venice and Bologna, which did not carry him beyond the sphere of his master. Ciceri was succeeded by his disciple Gioseffo Crastona, who, embued with Roman erudition, became a painter of figures and of landscapes in that city, of which a number may be seen at Pavia. Among the latest are Pierantonio Barbieri, pupil to Bastiano Ricci, and Carlantonio Bianchi, a disciple of the Roman manner. The artists whom I have described almost in a series, have filled all the churches of Pavia, though many, with their respective paintings and their frescos, conferring additional novelty perhaps, but little [Pg 326]additional splendor upon their native state; and no one visits Pavia altogether on their account.

Others also belonging to the state and its vicinity, about the time of Sacchi, quitted their native place, and became celebrated in other quarters; as Mola, of the state of Como, of whom we have treated; and Pietro de' Pietri, who, born in the Novarese, studied and died at Rome, where he has been commended by us in the school of Maratta. Antonio Sacchi, also a native of Como, acquired his knowledge at Rome, whence returning into Lombardy, he undertook to paint a cupola for his native place, but fixing on too high a point of perspective, he made his figures so gigantic that he broke his heart and died. From Como likewise sprung one Fra Emanuele, of the order of the Minori Riformati, whose name is incorrectly inserted by Orlandi in the Abbeccedario, as a self-taught painter. The fact is, that on being sent to reside at Messina, he became a pupil to Silla, and improving the feeble manner he had acquired in his native town, he decorated a number of places belonging to his order, both in Rome and Sicily, in a better taste. There are two of his pictures at Como, at the Riformati; a Supper in the refectory, feebly executed in the style of the declining school of Milan, and a PietÓ in the church, with different saints, in a better manner; such is the advantage of practice, reflection, and good guidance even at a mature age.

This epoch produced a fine perspective painter, [Pg 327]of whom mention is made under the Roman School, in which he studied and left some works. This is Gio. Chisolfi, a pupil of Salvator Rosa, who, on his return to Milan, besides his architectural pieces, which were esteemed among the very first, devoted himself to large histories and altar-pieces, and executed frescos in a good taste for the Certosa of Pavia, and the Santuario of Varese. He was followed with success by one of his nephews, Bernardo Racchetti, whose perspectives, no less than those of Clemente Spera, are frequently met with in collections. Torre makes mention also of a native of Lucca, who succeeded in perspective and in figures, named Paolo Pini. I have seen only of his a history of Rahab, at S. Maria di Campagna, at Piacenza, of which the architecture is very fine, the figures light and touched with a spirited hand. In extensive works of ornamental fresco, Pier Francesco Prina is commended by Orlandi, with the two Mariani, Domenico and his son Gioseffo. The father remained stationary at Milan, and educated, among other pupils, Castellino da Monza; but the son visited Bologna, and there succeeded in improving his paternal manner so as to distinguish himself throughout Italy and Germany. These names will suffice to give a view of a period, not remarkable for the best taste in this species of painting.

Fabio Ceruti was a landscape painter of some repute in the style of Agricola his master. His pictures are pretty numerous, both throughout [Pg 328]the city and the state. Mention is also made of one Perugini, recorded by the Cav. Ratti, in his life of Alessandro Magnasco of Genoa, called Lisandrino. The latter, educated in the school of Abbiati, and a long time resident in Milan, added to the pictures of Perugini, of Spera, and other artists, small figures of such merit as will be entitled to a particular description in his native school.

In compositions of a minor branch, wholly executed by himself, Magnasco may be pronounced an able artist, especially in those diminutive pieces on the Flemish scale, consisting of childish scenes and representations of a popular cast, with which he decorated many collections. He also opened school at Milan, and was imitated by Coppa and other artists, though Bastiano Ricci approached him the nearest of any, possessing a wonderful versatility of genius in respect to imitation. In a similar taste Martino Cignaroli painted at Milan, who had acquired at Verona and at the school of Carpioni, singular skill in conducting pictures for private cabinets. He established himself together with Pietro his brother and his family, in this his new abode, where he had a son named Scipione, who became a good landscape painter at Rome, and subsequently flourished at Milan and at Turin.

About the year 1700 Lorenzo Comendich established himself in the former of these cities, an artist already recorded in this work among the disciples of Monti. In the residence of the Baron Martini, his patron, he produced a variety [Pg 329]of works, the most commended among which was his Battle of Luzzara, won by Louis XIV., who is said to have beheld it, as represented by this artist, with singular pleasure.

In pictures of herds of animals of every kind, more perhaps than for his human figures, Carlo Cane rose into some repute. Orlandi likewise greatly commends Angiolmaria Crivelli in the same branch, though I have seen nothing from his hand entitling him to so much eulogy. At Milan this artist is known by the name of Crivellone, in distinction to his son Jacopo, whose principal merit lay in his drawings of birds and fishes. He was much employed by the court of Parma, and died in 1760. Still nearer us in point of time is Londonio, an artist also of some repute for his herds of cattle: his rural and pastoral views are in possession of the Counts Greppi, and other noble houses. At Como flourished one Maderno, whose skill consisted in drawing all kind of kitchen furniture, in the taste of the Bassani, with whom less experienced judges are apt to confound him. I have seen several small pictures by him in possession of the Counts Giovio, that display great beauty. He was also a fine flower-painter, though he was here surpassed by Mario de' Crespini, one of his pupils, whose productions are interspersed throughout his own and the adjacent cities. Of some other artists of inferior note I have given accounts in different places.

[Pg 330]It remains for me to mention a third academy which was founded at Milan in 1775, by that distinguished princess, Maria Teresa, and which was afterwards invariably encouraged by new benefactions from her two sons, the emperors Joseph and Leopold, and by their successor to the Empire, Francis II. who, amidst all the distractions of war, is not unmindful of the prosperity of the fine arts. The complete institutions of which this academy had to boast, even in its outset, are described in a compendious manner by its accomplished secretary, in his work entitled the New Guide, already frequently cited. In this we find an account of the number, the variety, and the merit of the different professors; the collections of models, of designs, of prints, and of books, which are there provided for the use of the students; to which he adds the methods of education there inculcated, to the great benefit of the nation, which has already, for some time past, been embued with a more refined taste, and displayed a more extended cultivation.

[59] In the additions to the Dictionary, made by Guarienti, following the article Orlandi, we find Lodovico David of Lugano, of whose pencil he could only trace the picture at S. Silvestro in Venice. This is one of the mistakes committed by this continuator.

[60] I thus named him in the former edition, because all other writers had so done before me, but his family name was Roverio and his surname Genovesino. See the first index.

[61] Benedetto Crespi, who possessed, according to Orlandi, a manner at once strong and elegant, with Antonio Maria, his son and pupil, and Pietro Bianchi, to whom he left his designs, all three called Bustini.

[62] He is thus called by Bartoli.


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

Transcriber's Notes:

Punctuation, use of hyphens, and accent marks were standardized. Obsolete and alternative spellings were left unchanged. For example, the author consistently uses 'Bonarruoti' rather than the usual 'Buonarroti,' 'accessaries' for 'accessories,' and 'canvass' for 'canvas.' Spelling corrections are provided as footnotes, below.

Footnotes were moved to the end of the section to which they pertain.

The following changes were made for consistency within the text:

'Michel Angiolo' to 'Michelangiolo'
'rilievo' to 'relievo'
'intitled' to 'entitled'

Additional changes:

[a] original reads '106'
[b] original reads 'Wmser'
[c] original reads 'Batista'
[d] original reads 'imtator'
[e] original reads 'musaicists'
[f] original reads 'developement'
[g] original reads 'recal'
[h] original reads 'Coregio'
[i] original reads 'begun'
[j] original reads 'Boccaccini'
[k] added 'to' ... nor yet has he referred to him as a pupil ...
[l] original reads 'pourtrayed'
[m] original reads 'Monistero'
[n] original reads 'Andai'
[o] original reads 'Brenghel'

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