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Portrait of Dante in the Duomo.
cute their sepulchres, in commemoration of their fame and that of the republic.
Not less interesting, and more german to the proper object of his researches, are some notices recovered by Gaye of the commemorative portrait of the poet in the Duomo of Florence, which must be known to many of our readers; and regarding which the conjectures hitherto received had been erroneous. In October, 1455, the committee of works for that church are desired, for the honour and glory of the community, and in memory of the excellent poet Dante Alighieri, to place in its former position a panel picture with his portrait, that it may remain for public inspection. (Vol. i. p. 563.) Of the origin and character of this likeness we have no further details; but it probably served as the model for the one now visible in the Cathedral, the order for which was discovered by Gaye among the documents of that fabric, and is inserted in the preface of his second volume. On the 30th of January, 1465, the committee commissioned from Domenico di Michelino, pupil of Beato Angelico, "a figure, in the form and likeness of the poet Dante, which he is to paint and colour with good colours, mingling gold with the ornaments, as in the sketch given by Alessandro Baldovinetti; and he is to execute it upon a linen canvass, prepared at his own expense, and finish it within six months, for the price of one hundred lire. It is to be placed in the chapel in Santa Maria del Fiore; and when terminated the committee will have it inspected to see if it be worth the price aforesaid." In June, Alessandro Baldovinetti and Neri di Bicci, having reported that, besides conforming to the sketch, the work was finished with many farther ornamental details of great difficulty and labour, so as to be far more than perfected, the sum of a hundred and fifty-five lire was allowed to the artist. It was desired to be set up "where there was already a figure of the poet," being probably that alluded to ten years before; and, perhaps, the same which, according to a MS. in the Riccardian library, had been placed there in the beginning of the century by M. Antonio, a Franciscan friar, then public lecturer upon Dante.
With another monument in the Duomo we shall close our references to the 'Regesta.' It commemorates an English name of more note within the Alps than in his own country. Sir John Hawkwood, a soldier of fortune, who plied his profession to such purpose, that from tailoring at Norwich, he came to command armies in Italy, after various successes over the Florentines, was taken into their pay; and, during many years, his famed company of adventurers formed a standing army for their defence. The gratitude of the government, besides endowing him with the now ruined castle of Montecchio, near Arezzo, thus voted him monu
mental honours during his life. In August, 1393, the committee of works were authorised "to construct, in a distinguished and honourable part of the church, a sepulchre for the mighty and brave Sir John Haucud, of England, captain-general of the armament of the commonwealth, and to decorate it with such marbles, sculpture, and trophies, as two-thirds of them may approve; that his body may be deposited there when he dies, in order to honour and perpetuate his renown, and to manifest the munificence of the state" (p. 536). These instructions were not carried out; but Sir John, who died in the following year, was subsequently commemorated in a colossal equestrian portrait, executed in fresco by Paolo Uccello, on the northern wall of the nave, the companion of which, in memory of another eminent general, Nicolo da Tolentino, is mentioned in the 'Regesta,' as commissioned by the priors in 1455. Among the very questionable transmutations which the interior of this Cathedral underwent in 1841, these two singular monuments were transported from their original distinguished and honourable' place, to the lower end of the nave; one of the many instances in which restoration has been nearly synonymous with destruction.
A word as to sumptuary laws, restraining the extravagances of female attire. In 1299 the magistracy thus gravely regulated this matter:-" Should a woman think fit to wear in her head any gold or silver ornament, with jewels, real or imitated, or pearls, she shall pay yearly to the community fifty lire, provided always that any woman may wear gold or silver tissue not exceeding the value of three lire. And should any woman choose to affix to her mantle a fringe of gold or silver, or of gilt or plated silk, or any gold or silver tassels or pearls, or to wear an ornament of pearls on any other part of her dress, she shall be liable to the same tax.” Eight years later, gold and silver stuffs, or tissue, were again sanctioned; but there was a strict prohibition against gold or silver coronets, or jewels on the head, tassels on the back, and trains exceeding two feet in length. In 1326, the unrestrained use of tresses and fillets was formally authorised.-Vol. i., pp. 442, 447, 470.
The preceding notices may afford some idea of the varied information to be drawn from the Regesta.' The contents of the 'Carteggio' are of a still more comprehensive description; and among the earliest are the statutes of painters and jewellers in the fourteenth century. The arts,' or guilds, are well known as the political machinery whereby the constitutions of most Italian republics were secured and rendered efficient. They were, in many respects, analogous to the trades' companies of London, and the crafts of Scotch burghs; except that, whilst the representatives
Devotional Spirit-Statutes of the Florentine Painters. 335
chosen from these formed the municipality of their town, the priors of arts were a legislative and executive sovereignty. In Florence, the most important and durable of the democracies, the priors, deputed from the respective arts to the general council or seigneury, were changed every two months. From the regulations of these companies much may be learned of the government, economy, commerce, and manners of Italy. Gaye has printed only those of the Florentine and Paduan painters, and of the Siennese painters and jewellers; the latter being then a guild nearly allied to the fine arts, and often the cradle of great names in painting and sculpture. In times when the imitative arts were handmaids, if not objects of devotion, painters were, in many respects, a holy fraternity, and their rules breathed a spirit of extraordinary sanctity. To illustrate this fact, hitherto so little observed, but so material to a correct estimate of the true spirit of early Italian art, we shall quote largely from the prelude to the statutes of the Florentine painters, who were incorporated in 1339; and, by a singular arrangement, were a branch of the medical art.
"In the name of God Almighty, of the blessed Virgin Mary, and of Messer St. John Baptist, of M. St. Zanobio, confessor, and of our lady Sta Reparata, virgin; and of the glorious M. St. Luke evangelist, the father, founder, and first cause of this company and fraternity; and for the honour and respect due to the holy mother-church, and to M. the Pope and his brother cardinals, and to M. the Bishop of Florence and his clergy; and for the welfare and consolation of the souls of all such as are or may become of this fraternity, these are the conventions and ordinances of the company of the glorious M. St. Luke evangelist, made and ordained by those of the art of Florentine painters, to his laudation and reverence, and to the solace of their own souls.
ing that it is our purpose and resolution, whilst in this perilous pilgrimage, to have the blessed M. St. Luke evangelist, for our special intercessor before the divine Majesty, and before the glorious Virgin Mary, who being mirrors of purity must have pure and sinless service, we therefore ordain, that all such of either sex as shall come to enrol themselves in this company, must be contrite and confessed of their faults, or at least must intend to confess themselves on the first opportunity.
And all who are received into this company are bound to say daily five pater-nosters and five ave-marias; but should they, from oversight or interruption, have omitted any of these, they may say them next day, or when they recollect them. And, in order that they may devoutly adhere to the service of the blessed M. St. Luke evangelist, they ought to confess frequently, and to communicate at least once a year, if they can well do so."-Vol. ii., pp. 32—34.
A similar spirit pervades the bye-laws of the Siennese painters in 1355, which form a much more complete code than those of
the Florentines. There the strict observance of church festivals, in number exceeding the sundays of the year, and the regular contribution of wax-lights and other oblations, are more insisted on than the proper mysteries of the profession. The rules of the jewellers of that city in 1361 are, however, the most detailed, as to the government and discipline of the guild brethren, the maintenance of their monopoly and fair competition, the standard of their metal and quality of their work. There are also prohibitions against buying valuables under suspicious circumstances, setting false jewels, or making church plate of any but the precious metals.
It would be difficult to find any more glowing picture of the religion prevalent among the devout aristocracy of the fourteenth century, than is displayed in six letters from Nicolo Acciajuola, a Florentine soldier of fortune, who rose to be High Steward of Naples, and whom, notwithstanding the less flattering notice of Boccaccio, Gaye holds up as the mirror of chivalry, the Bayard of his age. In 1341 he had conceived the idea of founding a suburban monastery near his native city, and his zeal increasing with his wealth, his views expanded into the stately Céstosa, one of the most imposing monastic fabrics in Italy. His wishes are thus expressed, in writing to his brother from Naples, in 1356:
"As I formerly wrote to you, I am much pleased with what you have done for my building (habitaculo) at the monastery, and I shall be still more so to hear that it proceeds rapidly. Do not imagine, that if the fabric turn out very sumptuous it will, on that account, be less gratifying, for since all the other substance which God has granted me must go I know not to what heirs, this monastery alone with its ornaments will be mine to all futurity, and will render my name durable and unfading in my native city. And if the soul be immortal, as Monseigneur the Chancellor maintains, mine will be thereby rejoiced, wherever it may be ordained to dwell. Be pleased, therefore, to promote to the utmost its completion, and I shall send you what aid I can, that you may hurry it on. Let it be your chief care to fortify the monastery; and in excavating the necessary stones, it will be well to see that a deep ditch be left before the wall; but, as I have already said, let your thought be above all to render the place impregnable, for the community must approve of its being provided with every means of defence.”
In another letter, he warms with his subject.
"I tell you, James, that all my consolation rests upon our holy monastery. There centres my every resource in trouble and misfortune. Nothing else that I possess seems my own but that monastery. whatever moment I think upon it, anger and sadness pass from me. Most assuredly, had I money, I should render it the most noble place in all Italy. Yet, by denying myself many things, I hope that, should I live with tolerable luck for four years, I may make it superlatively beau
The Baptistery Gates at Florence.
tiful. Nor shall I deny my folly, for I had rather that habitation were finished as you have described, than that I had an income of two hundred moggia [about 625 quarters] of wheat from the finest land about Florence,-nay, I may almost say, above three hundred. I therefore pray you to gratify this longing of mine, and to account it rather a worthy than a vicious one."-Vol. i., pp. 61–64.
There are noticed sales of pearls, gold and enamels, to raise the funds for the fabric, which grew apace, and from the habitaculo of 1360 became in 1385 a vast palace with a church and porticos;' but the munificent seneschal did not live to witness the consummation of his 'folly,' in the citadel convent which spreads a substantial glory around his name.
From a variety of sources, partly inedited, Gaye has brought together some curious facts as to the two baptistery gates at Florence, which Michael Angelo characterised as worthy the portals of paradise. The earlier of them was commissioned in November 1403, from Lorenzo di Ghiberti, then about twenty-two years of age. He was to finish three compartments yearly, the figures, trees, and other important parts being executed by his own hand; but for the minor details he was allowed to employ his father, Bartolo, and such other assistants as he thought fit; the number of these varied from eleven to twenty, and among them were Donatello and Paolo Uccello," shop-boy." This limit as to time was not observed, and April 1424 arrived ere the work was completed. In the following January, Lorenzo began the other gate, which was terminated in June 1452, nearly forty-nine years being thus consumed on these master-pieces; an incredible time did we not consider how different the hand-chasing of that age was from the process for bronze-casting now in use, and did we not know that the many intermediate works which occupied his chisel brought to the artist wealth as well as fame (vol. í. p. 106). On the cost of these gates, which is known to have been enormous, our industrious investigator has thrown no new light, but we glean from his researches various particulars regarding the remuneration obtained for works of art. This Lorenzo, in 1427, anticipated four hundred florins for a pair of bronze bas-reliefs he was then chasing for the baptismal font in the cathedral at Sienna, and half that sum for a casket, ordered by Cosmo de' Medici, which is still to be seen in the museum of the Uffizii. The famous pax of that collection, executed in niello by Finiguerra, about 1450, was paid for at the rate of one florin an ounce, costing in all sixtysix florins, of which seven tenths were the estimated value of the workmanship. The well-known monuments of Baldassare Cossa in the Florentine baptistery, and of Cardinal Brancacci in the Church of S. Angelo in Nilo at Naples, were commissioned