Imagens das páginas
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

manently during the last years of her life. She had founded a retreat there for poor young girls, and devoted the time which was left from useful works to study and to Michelangelo.

Master Francesco d'Ollanda, the architect and illuminator, had been sent into Italy by the Portuguese Government to study art. He wrote the account of his journey ; this account contains some passages relating to Michelangelo and Vittoria, too characteristic not to be quoted verbatim :

Among the number of days that I passed thus in this capital (Rome),” says Master Francesco, “there was one, it was a Sunday, when I went to see, as was my wont, Messer Lactantius Toloméo, who had become friendly with Michelangelo. . . . They told me at his house that he had left word for me that he would be at Monte Cavallo, in the Church of San Silvestro, with Madam the Marchioness Pescara, to hear a reading from the Epistles of St. Paul; away I went then to Monte Cavallo. . . . She made me sit down, and when the reading was over she turned to me and said, 'One ought to be able to make presents to those who can be grateful, and so much the more as after I have given I shall have as great a share as Francesco d'Ollanda after he has received. Here, So-and-so! go to Michelangelo's, and tell him that Messer Lactantius and I are in this chapel, which is nice and fresh, and that the church is closed and pleasant. Ask him if he will be good enough to come and lose a part of the day with us, that we may have the benefit of gaining it with him; but don't tell him that Francesco d'Ollanda, the Spaniard, is here. After some moments of silence we heard a knock at the door. ... It was he. The marchioness rose to receive him, and remained standing for some time, until she placed him between herself and Messer


[ocr errors]

Lactantius. I sat a little apart. She spoke of one thing

. . and another with much intelligence and grace, without ever touching upon the subject of painting, so as to make sure of the great painter. . . . At last she said, “It's a well-known fact that a man will always be utterly beaten if he tries to attack Michelangelo on his own ground. ... As for you (she said to him), I do not think you less praiseworthy for the way in which you can isolate yourself, and avoid our trivial talk, and to refuse to paint for every prince who asks you.'

“Madam,' says Michelangelo, 'perhaps you give me more than my deserts. . . . I can assure your Excellency that even his Holiness annoys me sometimes, by asking me why I do not show myself more often. Then I say to his Holiness that I prefer working for him after my own fashion than spending a whole day in his presence, as some others do.

“Happy Michelangelo !' I exclaimed, on hearing this. ‘Only Popes, of all princes, could pardon such an offence.'

“ 'It is just such offences,' said he, “that kings ought to uverlook.' Then he added, “I can tell you that the work I am responsible for gives me so much liberty that sometimes it happens while I am talking with the Pope, that without thinking I put on my old hat, and talk freely to his Holi


However, he doesn't kill me for it.' “But Vittoria wants to accomplish her end, and make Michelangelo talk about painting. Should I ask Michelangelo,' she said to Lactantius, 'to relieve my doubts about painting, I hope he won't box my ears, as he usually does, to prove that great men are reasonable and not eccentric.'

“If your Excellency,' replied Michelangelo, 'will ask of


[ocr errors]


[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

me anything that is worth offering to her, she shall be obeyed.'

“The Marchioness continued, smiling, 'I want very much to know what you think of Flemish painting, for it seems to me more devout than the Italian.'

“Flemish painting, madam,' said Michelangeolo, will generally please any devout person more than that of Italy. The latter will never bring a tear to the eye, while the Flemish will make many a one flow; and this result is due not to the force or merit of the painting, but simply to the sensibility of the devout. Flemish painting will always seem beautiful to women, especially to the very old or very young, also to monks and nuns, and some noble spirits which are deaf to true harmony It is only to works which are executed in Italy that the name of true painting can be given, and that is why good painting is called Italian. Good painting is in itself noble and religious. Nothing elevates a good man's spirit, and carries it farther on towards devotion, than the difficulty of reaching that state of perfection nearest to God which unites us to Him. Now good painting is an imitation of His perfection, the shading of His pencil, a music in fine, a melody; and it is only a refined intellect which can appreciate the difficulty of this. That is why good painting is so rare, and why so few men can get near to or produce it It is a fact that if Albrecht Dürer, a man of fine and delicate touch, or Francesco d'Ollanda, wanted to deceive me, and were to try and counterfeit or imitate a work so as to make it appear from Italy-well! he might produce a good, indifferent, or bad work, but I give you my word that I should very soon tell that it was not painted in Italy or by an Italian.

Michelangelo was not long to enjoy the society of his noble

[ocr errors]

friend. Vittoria fell ill at the beginning of 1547.

She was taken to the house of a relative, Giulia Colonna. Her condition rapidly became alarming, and she succumbed at the end of February of the same year. Michelangelo was present at her death. “He was mad with grief,” says Condivi. “When she was dead he imprinted a kiss upon her hand, and bitterly regretted afterwards that he had not ventured to leave the like token of his love upon her brow."

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]



A.D. 1547 to 1563.


ICHELANGELO survived Vittoria sixteen years.

Although he was employed successively by Popes Julius III., Paul IV., and Pius IV. on the works of the Villa Giulia, on the fortifications, and several of the gates of Rome, on the construction of bridges, churches, and monuments, yet he devoted himself almost entirely to St. Peter's, which he was anxious to complete before his death. Old age laid its hand upon him without breaking him down, and he remained active and upright to the extreme limits of the age of man. Years did not tell upon his mind more than upon his body. He was upwards of four score years old when he made most of the calculations for the dome of St. Peter's, and the beautiful model which is preserved in the chamber of San Gregorio, above the Clementine chapel. His opinions do not seem to have been any longer contradictory. After

« AnteriorContinuar »