« AnteriorContinuar »
the Sacristy of San Lorenzo, which he did not execute till ten years afterwards. He also ordered plans for the Laurentian Library, where the wonderful collection of manuscripts by Cosimo and Lorenzo the Magnificent, which had been dispersed during the troubles of 1494, were to be brought together. He was at Florence when the Academy of Santa Maria Nuova, of which he was an energetic member, resolved to bring the ashes of Dante from Ravenna to Bologna, and addressed that beautiful petition to the Pope, which Gori has preserved for us, bearing the signatures of the most celebrated men of the time, among others that of Michelangelo, with this memorial :-“I, Michelangelo, the sculptor, also supplicate your Holiness, and offer to execute a tomb worthy of the divine poet in a place of honour in the city.” Leo did not entertain the idea favourably, and it was abandoned. The Statue of Christ on the Cross
, which had been ordered by Med Antonio Metelli, and which is in the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, was probably executed during the rare sojourns which Michelangelo made in Rome during Leo's pontificate. So great had become his discouragement that he had it finished and set up by a Florentine sculptor named Federigo Frizzi, at the end of 1521. The statue of the Christ, one which bears marks of the highest finish and intelligence of all that came from the hands of Michelangelo, is in my opinion far from equalling other works of the great sculptor. It was, however, the rapidly-acquired celebrity of the work finished by Federigo Frizzi which decided Francis I. to send Primaticcio into Italy, under orders to copy for him the Christ of the Minerva, to order a statue from Michelangelo, and to put into his hands that flattering letter which is preserved in the precious collection at Lille. Leo X. died on the 1st of December, 1521, a year after) 꿩
Raphael. His successor, the humble and stern Adrian, knew nothing of painting except that of Van Eyck and Albrecht Dürer. His simple manners were in most striking contrast with the ostentatious habits of Leo. Under his pontificate all the great works were stopped in Rome and slackened in Florence. While Michelangelo was working quietly on the Laurentian Library, the grand age of Art was coming to an end. Raphael and Leonardo were dead, and their pupils were rapidly hurrying on a downward course. Character began to decline with talent, and Michelangelo, who had, so to speak, opened this great epoch, was destined to remain alone when all had gone, like those lofty peaks which are the first to receive the morning rays, and the last to lose the light, even when night is deepening and all about them is becoming dark.
ROME—THE LAST JUDGMENT-APPOINTED ARCHITECT OF
A.D. 1521 TO A.D. 1546.
ULIUS II. died without completely attaining his double
aim, the expulsion of foreigners from Italy and the
absorption of the different States of the Peninsula by the Papal power. He increased his sway by diminishing the power of Venice, but destroyed for ever one of the strongest bulwarks of Italian independence. The crafty policy of Leo upheld the supremacy of the Church, but the indecision of Clement VII. was not long in compromising the results which had been obtained by the courage and skill of his two illustrious predecessors.
Francis I. laid claim to Naples, the Emperor to Milan, and Italy was once more a prey to all the devastating agents of the most terrible of wars. The Constable of Bourbon did not stop at Florence; it was the sack of Rome which the Spanish and German hordes demanded, of Rome defenceless
and more brilliant than she had ever been. The republican party in Florence took advantage of the downfall and captivity of Clement VII. to drive out the Medici again. The name of Michelangelo is closely bound up with this supreme effort which his country made for the recovery of her independence, and to have been among her most useful and active defenders is not one of his least titles to
When the events of 1527 occurred, Michelangelo had been | in Florence for several years, employed on the works of San
Lorenzo and the tomb of the Medici. He was then more than fifty years old. His character, which had always been impetuous, was not softened by age. Carrying his love of solitude almost to a mania, caring little for most of the men among whom he lived, as the sarcastic and offensive words which are attributed to him abundantly prove, he was never mixed up in party conflicts. There were reasons for his abstaining, apart from his character. His republican convictions made him detest the tyrannical and impotent rule of the later Medici ; but his attachment to Lorenzo and the gentle remembrance which he had retained of him as a patron and friend made it difficult for him to enter the lists against his degenerate successors.
However, in the midst of his advancing career, and just as he had determined to devote himself more than ever to his art, events occurred which imperatively demanded a change in his resolves, and which gave a peculiar character to the second part of his life, by throwing him headlong into political struggles. The captivity of Clement VII. did not last long. Charles V. had just become reconciled to the Pope, and the re-establishment of the Medici was one of the principal stipulations of the Treaty of Barcelona.. The
FORTIFICATIONS OF FLORENCE.
Florence government did not wait for the Pope to lay siege to the city before taking steps for its defence. The fortifications were inadequate and in a bad state. All eyes turned to Michelangelo. He was named Director and CommissionerGeneral of the Fortifications. His sympathy with the movement which gave liberty to Florence was perfect. Whatever his repugnance might be on personal grounds he did not think that genius absolved him from being an honest man, and he accepted.
The activity which he displayed on this occasion seems to have been prodigious. “He fortified the city at many points,” says Vasari, “and surrounded San Miniato with stout bastions of chestnut and oak, not of the ordinary turf and brushwood. He even substituted bricks of animal hair and dung for the turf.” In April and May he was at Leghorn, in June at Pisa, engaged in the citadel works and the Arno fortifications. The following month he was off to Ferrara, whither the Signory of Florence sent him to study the new style of fortification employed by Duke Alfonso. Again, in September, he was at Arezzo, directing the defences there.
The fortifications of Michelangelo, which Vauban studied and admired, still enclose the lovely church and the cypress trees of San Miniato ; they encircle the most charming of hills with a dark and sombre belt. I am not competent to judge of these ramparts as military works, but I have never seen them without thinking of the great man who constructed them, and who, when he might have been content with his reputation as an artist, determined to take part in his country's last struggle for liberty.
According to Vasari, Michelangelo remained almost continually in the fortress for the six months which preceded