Imagens das páginas
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the individuality which is the dominant feature of his genius, and which shows itself in intended and deliberate expressions, is already plainly manifest in these early works. Hereafter it is destined to become still more marked and to be the covering of that powerful, lofty, original form which makes the slightest works of Buonarroti inimortal creations. Michelangelo will increase in greatness and surpass every one who has gone before him; his giant imagination will

n hurl forth upon the world new forms truer than life. Intoxicated with his own genius, he will climb the loftiest summits of art; he will go to the utmost limits of rash daring, even into excesses; but, from his first steps, it is a giant who is striding onward, and if at the end of his long course he has preserved the fervour and activity of youth, he has never known the uncertainty, the feebleness, the groping after a road, which generally make the setting out into life so bewildering

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A.D. 1501 TO A.D. 1508.


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FTER the expulsion of the Medici, Florence was for

some years the scene of incessant conflicts. The death of Savonarola, which secured the defeat of the violent reformers, brought the moderate party into power, and men began again with more eagerness than ever to cultivate the arts, which had been for a moment proscribed by the fiery Dominican. Michelangelo longed to see his native place again, and soon found the opportunity to return. At the works of Santa Maria del Fiore there had been for a long time an enormous block of Carrara marble, which several sculptors had tried in vain to make use of, but had only succeeded in spoiling. Soderini had urged Leonardo da Vinci to take it in hand, but he had declared that he could do nothing with it. Some friends wrote to Michelangelo. He wanted no temptation to undertake an impossibility ; he

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was on the spot at once, and guaranteed a figure from it without any patching. He obtained a concession of the block to him by a resolution of the 16th of August, 1501, and was to produce from it a statue of David, which he was to finish in two years; he was receive six gold florins per month in payment. He built a workshop on the spot, and shut himself up for eighteen months without letting any one see his work. The colossal figure in front of the palace of the Signory was the result of this solitary toil. In the execution of this statue Michelangelo was no doubt hampered by the dimensions of the marble. He was obliged to abandon an idea which he had at first of giving more movement to the figure. A design of the utmost interest, formerly in the possession of Mariette and described by him, which after many wanderings has come back to the Louvre, reveals the first conception of this work. David is planting his foot upon the head of Goliath. This action, which brought the knee forward, made the execution of the figure, according to this conception, impossible, because of the form of the marble. Michelangelo had to give up his first intention, and we are compelled to admire in this statue rather the dignity of the attitude, the graceful power of the figure, the consummate skill and finish of the work, than the exact representation of an historical personage. Contemporaries

. were evidently struck with the undecided character of this figure, for Condivi calls it simply “ The Giant.”

The David was put in its place on the 8th of June, 1504, and completely finished on the 8th of September, in the same year. The place which this colossal figure was to occupy was agreed upon finally after stormy disputes. The difficult task of transport was accomplished under the direction of Pollajuolo and San Gallo. Documents preserved among the

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