« AnteriorContinuar »
drowned by shrieks of despair, and by the wailings of the 7 damned. There is no day of pardon-no, not of justice there; it is the day of vengeance and of wrath,-Dies iræ, dies illa !
The Last Judgment produced a marvellous effect, and, as might be expected, also gave rise to a host of adverse criticisms. That final catastrophe of the world, with its nude figures and forced positions, its developments of muscle and form, its giant shapes, its forgetfulness of Christian sentiment, seems to have been severely blamed by several contemporaries, and even friends, of Michelangelo, among 1 others by Aretino, who wrote to Ænea Vico that “this painting might give the artist a place among the Lutherans.” As to the Pope, he was not offended, and took a more lively view of things. One day, as he was going to visit the works in the Sixtine, acccompanied by his Master of the Ceremonies, Biagio da Cesena, he asked him what he thought of this painting. Biagio replied that he thought it was a deplorable thing to put so many figures which made a shameless exhibition of their nakedness, in so sacred a place; the proper place for them was a bathing-house or a beer-shop, not the Pope's chapel. Michelangelo heard of it, and when he was alone he put in a likeness of the unfortunate master of the ceremonies among the damned, under a representation of Minos. The resemblance was so striking that the story soon got all over the city. Biagio went to the Pope with his grievances, who asked him where Michelangelo had
“In hell," he replied. “Alas !" rejoined Paul, laughing ; "if he had only put you in purgatory, I could have got you out; but as you are in hell I can do nothing My power doesn't reach
Nulla est redemptio!”
Julius III. and Marcellus II. respected the work of the great artist, but Paul IV. wanted to efface the Last Judgment as soon as he became Pontiff. It was only with great difficulty that he was induced to revoke the order which he had actually given. “Tell the Pope," replied Michelangelo to some one who was speaking of the Pontiff's dissatisfaction, “ not to trouble himself with such a cause of distress, but to do something towards reforming mankind, a much easier thing than correcting pictures.” Paul confined himself to commissioning Daniele da Volterra to dress the figures which injured his scruples, as he had already dressed Raphael's Isaiah. The painter executed his task to the satisfaction of the Pontiff, and got the surname of braghettone-(breechesmaker,) for his pains.
Gregory XIII., no less scrupulous than Paul IV., conceived the idea of substituting a composition of Lorenzo Sabbatini for the grand work of Michelangelo; and later on the fanatical Clement XIII. made Stefano Pozzi finish the work which Daniele da Volterra began.
This fresco was not destined to be the last of Michelangelo's paintings. Paul III. had built the chapel which still bears his name in the interior of the Vatican. He commissioned Michelangelo to paint two pictures in itthe Crucifixion of St. Peter and the Conversion of St. Paul.
These frescoes were not finished till much later, probably in 1549, that is to say, a short time before the death of Paul, and when Michelangelo was 75 years old. This work had tried him greatly. “Painting, and especially fresco," says Vasari, “is not fit for old men.' Although these two works are now in bad condition, the Sixtine painter is to be recognized in them, but rather by his faults than his excellences :
the inspiration is not sustained; the drawing, bold and clever as always, is unnecessarily constrained ; and, as it is useless to conceal the fact, they bear marks of that feebleness of age which Michelangelo was free from more than any other man, but which no one entirely escapes.
The activity of Michelangelo did not however slacken, but was employed upon objects more suited to his age. Paul III., who was busy about the fortifications of the Borgo, required his advice. Michelangelo gave an opinion entirely opposed to that of San Gallo, who flew into a rage, and finished by telling him that he might be able to meddle with sculpture and painting, but understood nothing about fortifications. Michelangelo replied that he did not lay great store by his painting, but had not been very unsuccessful in the Florence defences. He reproached his opponent sharply for the blunders which he had made; and defended his own scheme so triumphantly, that the Pope abandoned San Gallo's to adopt it. Finally, at the death of San Gallo, in 1546, Michelangelo was appointed architect of St. Peter's. About this time it was that he received a commission to construct the buildings of the Capitol, and the admirable entablature of the Farnese Palace, the most inspired of his architectural works. Not being able to paint any longer, he commenced the Descent from the Cross as a recreation, and " because mallet work was necessary for his health.” The work is to be seen in an unfinished state behind the high altar in Florence Cathedral.
Notwithstanding his advanced age, he was still so vigorous that Blaise de Vigenère, who saw him at work somewhere about this time, speaks of him thus: “I saw him when he was past sixty, and moreover not one of the strongest of men, strike off more scales of marble in one quarter of an hour than
three young marble cutters would have done in three or foura thing almost incredible to anyone who did not see it ; and he set to with such force and fury that I thought the whole work must go to pieces. He brought to the ground big pieces three or four fingers thick with a single blow, so precisely on his mark that if he had struck ever so little wide of it he would have been in danger of ruining the whole, because marble cannot be repaired afterwards like clay or stucco."
MICHELANGELO AS A POET-- VITTORIA COLONNA, MARCHIONESS
OF PESCARA— RELIGIOUS SENTIMENTS—FRANCESCO D'OL
GRIEF AT THE DEATH OF VITTORIA.
A.D. 1521 TO A.D. 1547.
ICHELANGELO worked up to his latest days on the
Descent from the Cross, and on a Pietà, of which Vasari speaks, but of which nothing is known. He did not, however, undertake any other work in painting or sculpture. He was growing old. The time of great creations was gone. He was destined to consecrate his prodigious activity henceforth to the immense labour of managing the building of St. Peter's, and to other architectural works. I did not wish to interrupt the account of the longest part of his life, of which his works of art are the characteristic and principal events, to study closely the feelings which he has unfolded, with too sparing a hand, in his verses and letters which have been preserved, and upon which his ardent and pure attachment for the Marchioness of Pescara sheds an unlooked-for light. The half-concealed form of this noble lady completes that of