Imagens das páginas



the reputation it merits. There is another kindness I wish of you as anxiously as I did that you should paint me the St. Jerome. I want you to do for me a holy Magdalene, as tearful as possible, in a picture about the same size, or a trifle larger; and that you should do your utmost to make it beautiful, which will be no great effort for you who cannot make it otherwise: also, that you will complete it quickly, as I wish to present it to the most illustrious Lord Marquis del Vasto, my devoted friend. Be pleased then, I especially entreat you, to serve me in this." &c.

The anxiety of the dowager marchioness, whose taste and zeal for art these volumes amply demonstrate, induced her to write twice to her son's envoy at Venice on the subject of this commission, and she sent a messenger on purpose to fetch the picture when completed. Forty days from the date of the marquis's order, Titian thus writes to him:

"I have, at length, completed the picture of the Magdalene which your excellency commissioned from me, with every possible speed, having laid aside all my other works. In it I have done my utmost, in some measure to express what is expected from this art; others must judge how far I have succeeded. If my hands and pencil had truly responded to the grand conceptions of my mind and will, I might, indeed, hope to have satisfied my anxiety to serve your excellency; but they have fallen a long way short of that. Yet for such short-coming accord me pardon; that I may more readily obtain which, this Magdalene has promised me to supplicate it with her folded hands, and to beseech it as a favour to herself."

It would, perhaps, be useless to speculate which of the many repetitions of this subject, so attractive to sentimental devotion, was sent to Mantua; the St. Jerome is conjectured by Gaye to have been that now in the Escurial. On the 19th of April, the marquis writes to acknowledge the picture, which exceeded even his expectations, having found it "most beautiful and most perfect; indeed, of all that I have seen in painting, nothing has ever appeared to me finer, and I am more than satisfied. The most illustrious lady, my mother, says the same. * Nothing could be desired better, nor can I express how acceptable it is to me, nor find words to express my good will." The correspondence is concluded by a suitable reply from the artist. (Vol. ii., pp. 223 to 226.) Among other similar letters we find this, dated the 27th of April, 1536.-Vol. ii., p. 262.

"My dearest Messer Titian,

"I should esteem it a great pleasure that you come here, and bring with you that picture of the emperor you have done for me, for which purpose I have thought fit to write you this, by a special express, to induce you to come; and should you want a carriage or riding horses for the journey you will let me know, informing me, at the same time,

where and when to send them, and your commands shall be executed: and being so soon to see you, I shall only say how much I am at your disposal. "THE DUKE OF MANTUA.”

This picture referred to, Gaye thinks was a portrait of Charles V., but it was more likely one of the series of the Cæsars, which Titian executed for the Palazzo del T., and regarding which we find letters from the marquis to him in the following spring.

We have also a number of letters between the marquis and Julio Romano, his chief architect and decorator of the palaces at Mantua and del T., which are not only valuable for art, but pleasing illustrations of the honourable position accorded in those days to men of genius. The duke addresses the painter as "our noble and very dear;" yet, but a few weeks after, the dilatory proceedings of the latter brought down upon him this very altered style.

"Julio! With the utmost displeasure we have heard that the chambers and rooms, which you were willing to finish decorating a week ago at latest, are not yet ready; nor have you wanted for money, though we are well aware that half more has been spent than you said was requisite. And much we wonder at your working so slowly; and we tell you that if by next Thursday, when we intend for certain to be in Mantua, we do not find all these rooms and apartments finished, and in all respects complete for our habitation, we shall cut the matter short with you in a way that will annoy you excessively; do not, therefore, give us reason for anger with you.' Vol. ii., p. 242.

Julio's death on the 5th of November, 1546, is thus feelingly announced by the Cardinal Gonzaga to his younger brother.

"We have lost our Julio Romano, with as much regret as if I had been deprived of a right hand. I was in no haste to give your excellency this news, believing that the longer you were of hearing of such a loss, the less painful it would be, especially as you are at the mineral waters. Like those who would always extract some good from evil, I begin to fancy that the death of this remarkable man will in some degree profit me, by taking away my appetite for building, and accumulating plate, pictures, and such like. For, in fact, I shall have no longer any inclination to make such things, without the designs of that fine genius, so that, after completing the few things for which I have the sketches by me, I mean to bury with him all my longings that May God grant him peace, which I with good reason hope, having found him a worthy man, very pure towards the world, and I trust also towards God. I cannot tire of speaking of his merits, with tears in my eyes, but I must have done, since it has pleased Him who disposes of all to end his life."-Vol. ii. p. 501.


In 1531, the Marquis of Mantua commissioned one of his relations to supplicate Clement VII. that Michelangelo might be allowed to do something for the Palazzo del T., working for him on holidays and at any spare moments when not actually employed upon certain things which he had promised to finish for his Holi


ness, ere he undertook any farther orders whatever. Regarding this great artist, for whose idle hours foreigners thus canvassed, we have many new and important notices and documents. The taxreturns of his property for 1534, when he was at the height of his fame, exhibit his means as having progressively increased under careful management. Of eight farms and vineyards, seven are noted as purchased by himself in 1505, 1512, 1515, 1518, 1519, 1520; there are three houses in the Via Ghibellina, one of which was that in which he lived, and which, to the honour of his heirs, has been preserved much as he inhabited it, even to the furniture and ornaments of the sitting-rooms and studio. The schedule does not contain the usual information regarding the state of his family, but from other previous returns Gaye has appended materials for this genealogy.-Vol. ii., p. 253.


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Lisa b. 1423

There is a remarkable set of documents regarding one of the earliest and most remarkable productions of Michelangelo's chisel, which serve to acquit him in a great degree of its defects, and which correct the loose account given of it by Vasari. About 1463, a colossal statue had been executed by Agostino di Guccio, (whose true name, now first restored by Gaye, had been hitherto confused with the family name of Della Robbia,) and set up in the Via dei Servi, which the committee of works for the Duomo of Florence resolved upon imitating, in a series of statues to be placed on pilasters round the exterior of the church. They, therefore, in August, 1464, ordered from that artist a figure of Carrara marble, seventeen feet high, in four pieces; it was to be finished in eighteen months for three hundred florins. It does not appear under what circumstances the work was suspended, after having received, up to a certain point, the approval of the committee, having been wrought from a single block. It seems, however, agreed that it was the same referred to in August, 1501, when the guild of woollen manufacturers engaged Michelangelo "to

2 A


complete and terminate a certain human figure called the Giant, of nine braccii, lying in the workshops of the cathedral, long since botched by M. Agostino **** of Florence, and that within the next two years, at a salary of six florins a month." Should the deacons of the company consider, on its completion, that it was worth a larger sum, they were to refer it to arbitration. The task was commenced on the 13th of September, and in five months was proceeding so well that the price was raised to four hundred florins, and the name David had been then bestowed upon it. It was nearly ready in January, 1503, when the question as to its site was referred to twenty-eight of the best artists in Florence. Their opinions are given at length, beginning with that of M. Francesco Araldo, architect, who says, "You have two places which would support this statue, that (in the Loggia di Lanzi) where the Judith now is, and that in the middle of the court of the Palazzo Publico, where the David (by Donatello) stands. As to the first, Judith is a fatal emblem, and not suitable, as our emblems are the cross and the lily; nor is it decorous that the woman should slay the man, especially as it was set up under an unlucky star; indeed, ever since, you have gone on from bad to worse, and have since lost Pisa. The David in the court is a defective figure, for the right leg is bungled. I therefore advise you to put up this statue in one of these situations, but rather where the Judith is." Several other places are suggested, but on the opinion of San Gallo that the marble was of a soft and perishable quality, the general opinion became in favour of the Loggia di Lanzi. Accordingly, in May, 1504, it was transported there from the Duomo, on rollers, four days and seventy-six lire being spent in the operation, and it was set up in the site of the Judith, which was moved to the Palazzo. (Vol. ii., p. 454, &c.)

As a curious illustration rather of the writer than of the painter to whom it was addressed, we shall give a letter to Michelangelo from the scurrilous ribald, Pietro Aretino.-Vol. ii., pp. 333—7. "To the great Michelangelo Buonarroti, at Rome. "Signor Mio,

"In looking at the entire sketch of your Day of Judgment, I am enabled to appreciate the singular grace of Raffaelle, and the captivating beauty of his conceptions. Farther, as a Christian, I blush at the liberty, so unpermissible to the imagination, which you have taken in expressing your conceits, as to the conclusion towards which tends every sentiment of our most unquestionable creed. Thus Michelangelo, the unequalled in fame; Michelangelo, the noted for prudence; Michelangelo, the admired of all, has thought fit to display to the world not less irreligious blasphemy than pictorial perfection! Is it possible that you, who in fancied divinity despise the fellowship of men, have done such things in the worthiest temple of God, over the chief altar of Christ, in the grandest of earthly oratories, wherein the great cardinals of the church, the reve

Aretino's scurrilous Letter to Michelangelo.


rend prelates, the vicar of Christ, make confession with sacred rites and holy orisons, and adoringly contemplate his body, his flesh, and his blood? Were it not loathsome to introduce such a comparison, I might boast of my virtue in the treatise of the Nanna, preferring my own prudence to your indiscretion, seeing that upon a licentious and obscene subject, I not only employ guarded and decorous words, but even speak in chaste and unexceptionable language; whilst you, in treating a theme so lofty, exhibit angels and saints, the latter devoid of earthly beauties, the former destitute of heavenly grace. Look to the heathens! who made no such displays, not only in the sculpture of a draped Diana, but when modelling a nude Venus, whom they make conceal with her hands what should not be displayed: and where is the Christian who, considering art more than religion, thinks it a fine exhibition that martyrs and sainted virgins should abandon decorum; not to speak of the indecent attitude of him who is borne away, towards which even a brothel would shut its eyes in astonishment. Your composition would befit a voluptuous bath, not a celestial choir. With such a creed, it would be a worse sin than you suppose, to impair the faith of others. But even now the excess of such rash extravagances goes not unpunished, since their marvels are fatal to your fame. You had, therefore, better repair your popularity, by making of your flames modesty pieces for the damned, and others for the beatified out of the sunbeams; or you may imitate the Florentine decorum, which veils your fine Colossus [the David] with some gilt leaves, though standing in a public piazza, and not in a consecrated place. And now, God pardon you all this, for I speak not thus from anger against such omissions, but because you ought diligently to perform what you promised to send me, and thereby appease my indignation, which would not have you persuaded but by Gherardi and Tomai. But if the treasure left you by Julius [II], that you might deposit his remains in a tomb of your sculpture, was inadequate to make you observe your engagement, what hope have I? Yet not your ingratitude and greed, oh, mighty painter! but the bounty and worth of the pontiff, occasioned that; since it is God's will that his fame should be immortalised by simply having his tomb made during his own life, not by any haughty machine of a sepulchre in virtue of your style. Hence your having failed in your obligation is accounted equal to a theft. And, since your souls have more need of devotional feeling than of energetic design, may God inspire his Holiness Pope Paul, as he inspired St. Gregory, who formerly thought fit to disembellish Rome of her superb idol-statues, the merit whereof attracted the respect due to the humble images of saints. Lastly, if in composing the universe and the spacious void, and paradise with the glory, and honour, and terror, therein depicted, you had been guided by the learning, the example, and the literary acquirements which the age reads in me; I dare say that nature and every benign influence would have in noways regretted giving you that distinguished intelligence, which renders you the beau ideal of a prodigy of eminent talent; but that all-watchful providence would have given such a superintendence to the work, that it might have even observed the laws proper for the government of these hemispheres. Your servant,

"From Venice, November, 1545.


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