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Lorenzo and his relations with Piero would have rendered suspicious, left Florence and betook himself to Venice. Finding nothing to do there he went to Bologna, where by a lucky accident he became acquainted with Aldovrandi, one of the Council of Sixteen, who got him several commissions. Aldovrandi kept Michelangelo with him for more than a year, loading him with tokens of his friendship and esteem, and "charmed with his beautiful_pronunciation, making him read Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, and other Tuscan poets to him.”

On his return to Florence in 1495, Michelangelo made a statuette of St. John, and also the famous Sleeping Cupid, which was the cause of his first visit to Rome. Biographers have insisted on a somewhat childish story about this statue. If I tell it in a few words, it is because of the lasting effect that Michelangelo's stay in the Eternal City had upon the rest of his life. Lorenzo, son of Piero de' Medici, saw this figure and thought it so beautiful that he advised Michelangelo to bury it, so as to give it the appearance of age, and then to send it to Rome, where it would be sure to pass for an antique, and where he would get a much better price for it than in Florence. The Cardinal San Giorgio was taken in by the device and bought the statue.

When he learned that he was the victim of a fraud, he sent one of his gentlemen to discover the author of it, and furious at the idea of being cheated he broke off the bargain and recovered his money. Such is Vasari's tale. He does not, however, seem to think that Michelangelo was a party to the trick. He adds that, despite his anger, the Cardinal brought Michelangelo to Rome, though he left him, it is true, for a year without employment. A very curious letter, of which only a few fragments exist, written by Michel

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angelo to this Lorenzo de' Medici, directly he got to Rome, completes and corrects the story as told by his biographer. It shows too, that from his early youth Michelangelo was animated by that scrupulous integrity which remained the rule of his life. Nothing less than the stir which this affair made would induce us to believe that at the end of the 15th century and in Rome any one could have taken a statue of the youthful Florentine master for an antique. Vasari tells us, it is true, that the Cardinal had no taste for art whatever, and that he was a very ignorant man.

Michelangelo lived in Rome from 1496 to 1501. How were these five years occupied ? This is just what we do not perfectly know. He was already famous, in all the vigour of youth, and we can hardly suppose that the four statues now in existence which date from this time were the only works which occupied him there. For, not to mention the fifteen figures for the library of Siena Cathedral, which were ordered by Cardinal Piccolomini, of which we have but very inadequate information, though four of them seem to have been completed, we only know of the Bacchus, the Cupid of the South Kensington Museum, the Adonis of the Uffizi at Florence, and the Pietà now at St. Peter's, which belong to this first stay in Rome. The Bacchus was ordered by an amateur, named Jacopo Galli : the Pietà by Cardinal Jean de la Grolaye de Villiers, Abbot of St. Denis, Ambassador of Charles VIII. to Alexander VI., and not by Cardinal Amboise, as Condivi and Vasari think. As to the Adonis of the Uffizi at Florence, it is probably the statue which Michelangelo began directly he got to Rome, and of which he speaks in his letter to Lorenzo de' Medici.

The Pietà of St. Peter's reveals the course which Michelangelo was going to take more distinctly than any of his


early works. The marble shall no longer represent the beauty of form in an abstract and general manner; it shall translate, under the touch of a mighty hand, the thoughts and feelings of the artist's soul. “The greatest artist may not shut up his conceptions in the heart of the marble ; he needs a hand obedient to the thought to make the block give it forth. An obedient hand will ever try to give the stone a voice it has never had before.” This Virgin possesses the youthful yet grave beauty which is peculiar to Michelangelo's women. The form of the Christ stretched out upon his mother's knees, even in the repose of death, bears marks of the sufferings which the God-man has just passed through. The undeniable beauty of the legs, the joints, the extremities, is a foreshadowing of the most perfect and characteristic works of the master.

The production of this Pietà was a great event in Rome, still we know that its strongly-marked expressions, its

speaking forms” created some astonishment. Vasari is satisfied with treating as 6 fools” those who maintained that Michelangelo had given the Virgin too youthful an appearance, for the true age which he had allowed the Christ.

Condivi, with less brevity and contempt, has given us the explanation which he had from Michelangelo himself. “ Don't you know,” he said, " that chaste women keep their youthful looks much longer than others ? Isn't this much more true in the case of a Virgin who had never known a wanton desire to leave its shade upon her beauty! ... It is quite the contrary with the form of the 'Son of God,' because I wanted to show that he really took upon him human flesh, and that he bore all the miseries of man, yet without sin.”

Whatever be the value of Michaelangelo's explanation,

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