Florence and Northern Tuscany with Genoa
by Edward Hutton
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Niccolo Pisano was from Apulia. He may well have seen the beautiful fragments of Greek and Roman art scattered over the South before he came to Pisa, yet there may, too, be more truth in Vasari's tale than we are sometimes willing to admit, so that in the northern city beside Arno it may well have been with a sort of delight he came upon the art of the ancients, asleep in the beautiful Campo Santo of Pisa, and awakened it, yes, almost with a kiss.

It is, however, in the work of his pupils Giovanni Pisano and Arnolfo Fiorentino[115] that Tuscan sculpture begins to throw off the yoke of antiquity and to express itself. Fra Guglielmo, another pupil of Niccolo's, in his work at Perugia more nearly preserves the manner of his master, though always inferior to him in beauty and force: but in the work of Arnolfo which remains to us chiefly in the tomb of Cardinal de Braye in S. Domenico at Orvieto, and in the Tabernacle of S. Paolo Fuori at Rome, and more especially in the work of Giovanni Pisano in the pulpit for the Duomo of Pisa, now in the Museo, for instance, we may see the beginnings of that new Tuscan sculpture which in Andrea Pisano and Andrea Orcagna was to make the work of Nanni di Banco, of Ghiberti and Donatello possible, and through them to inspire the art of all the sculptors of the fifteenth century, that is to say of the Renaissance itself.

Here in the Bargello it is chiefly that art of the fifteenth century that we see in all its beauty and realism: and though for the proper understanding of it some knowledge of its derivation might seem to be necessary, a knowledge not to be had in the Museo itself, it is really a new impulse in sculpture, different from, though maybe directed by, that older art which we come upon, and may watch there, in its dawn and in its splendour, till with Bandinelli and the pupils of Michelangelo it loses itself in a noisy grandiosity, a futile gesticulation.

Realism, I said in speaking of the character of this fifteenth century work, and indeed it is just there that we come upon the very thought of the time. Sculpture is no longer content with mere beauty, it has divined that something is wanting, yes, even in the almost miraculous work of Niccolo Pisano himself; is it only an expression of character, of the passing moment, of movement that is lacking, or something comprising all these things—some indefinable radiance which is very life itself? It is this question which seems to have presented itself to the sculptors of the fifteenth century: and their work is their answer to it.

For even as the philosophers and alchemists had sought so patiently for life, for the very essence of it, through all the years of the Middle Age, so art now set out in search of it, the greatest treasure of all, and seems to have found it at last, not hardly or hidden away in some precipitous place of stones, or among the tombs, but as a little child playing among the flowers.

The great masters of the Middle Age had set themselves to express in stone or colour the delicate beauty of the soul, its terror, too, in the loneliness of the world, where only as it were by chance it might escape everlasting death. The subtle beauty and pathos of their art has escaped our eyes filled as they are with the marvellous work of Greece, unknown till our own time, the splendid and joyful work of the Renaissance, the mysterious and lovely work of our own day: it remains, nevertheless, a consummate and exquisite art in its dawn, in its noon, in its decadence, but it seeks to express something we have forgotten, and its secret is for the most part altogether hidden from us. It is from this art, as beautiful in its expression of itself as that of Greece, that Niccolo Pisano turns away, not to Nature, but to Antiquity. The movement which followed, producing while it continued almost all that is to-day gathered in the Bargello, together with much else that is still happily where it was born, is as it were an appeal from Antiquity to Life, to Nature. In the simplicity and impulse of this movement, so spontaneous, so touching, so full of a sense of beauty, which sometimes, though not often, becomes prettiness, the art of sculpture, awakened at last from the mysticism of the Middle Age, seems to look back with longing to the antique world, which it would fain claim as its brother, and after a little moment in the sun falls again into a sort of mysticism, a new kingdom of the spirit with Michelangelo, and of the senses merely with Sansovino and Giovanni da Bologna.

Really Tuscan in its birth, the art of the Quattrocento became at last almost wholly Florentine, a flower of the Val d'Arno or of the hills about it, where even to-day at Settignano, at Fiesole, at Majano, at Rovezzano, you may see the sculptors at work in an open bottega by the roadside, the rough-hewn marble standing here and there in many sizes and shapes, the chips and fragments strewing the highway.

In the twilight of this new dawn of the love of nature, perhaps the first figure we may descry is Piero di Giovanni Tedesco (1386-1402), who carved the second south door of the Duomo about 1398, where amid so many lovely natural things, the fig leaf and the oak leaf and the vine, you may see the lion and the ox, the dog and the snail, and man too; little fantastic children peeping out from the foliage, or blowing through musical reeds, or playing with a kitten, tiny naked creatures full of life and gladness.

The second door north of the Duomo was carved by Niccolo di Piero d'Arezzo, who was still working more than forty years after Tedesco's death; but his best work, for we pass by his Statue of St. Mark in the chapel of the apex of the Duomo, is the little Annunciation over the niche of the St. Matthew of Or San Michele. In his work on the gate of the Duomo, however, he was assisted by his pupil Nanni di Banco, who, born in the fourteenth century, died in 1420; and in his work, and in that of Jacopo della Quercia, a Sienese, and a much greater man, we see the very dawn itself.

Nanni di Banco, Vasari tells us, was a man who "inherited a competent patrimony, and one by no means of inferior condition." He goes on to say that Nanni was the pupil of Donatello, and though in any technical sense that seems to be untrue, it may well be that he sought Donato's advice whenever he could, for he seems to have practised his art for love of it, and may well have recognised the genius of Donatello, who probably worked beside him. He too worked at Or San Michele, where he carved the St. Philip, the delightful relief under the St. George of Donatello, the Four Saints, which seem to us so full of the remembrance of antiquity, and the S. Eligius with its beautiful drapery, a little stupid still, or sleepy is it, with the mystery of the Middle Age that after all was but just passing away. Something of this sleepiness seems also to have overtaken the St. Luke, that tired figure in the Duomo; and so it is with a real surprise that we come at last upon the best work of Nanni's life, "the first great living composition of the Renaissances," as Burckhardt says, the Madonna della Cintola over Niccolo d'Arezzo's door of the Duomo. Even with all the work of Ghiberti, of Donatello even, to choose from, that relief of Madonna in an almond-shaped glory, stretching out her hands among the cherubim, with a gesture so eager and so moving to St. Thomas, who kneels before her, remains one of the most beautiful works of that age, and one of the loveliest in all Tuscany.

There follows Ciuffagni (1381-1457), that poor sculptor working in his old age amid much that was splendid and strange at Rimini, where Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455) had painted in his youth. For all his genius, Ghiberti, that euphuist, did not influence those who came after him as Donatello did. His work, inspired by the past, by Andrea Pisano, for instance, is full of the lost beauty of the Middle Age, the old secrets of the Gothic manner. His solution of the problem before him, a problem of movement, of character, of life, is to make the relief as purely picturesque as possible; with him sculpture almost passes into painting, using not without charm the perspective of a picture the mere seeming of just that, but losing how profoundly, much of the nobility, the delight of pure form, the genius peculiar to sculpture. As an artist pure and simple, as a master of composition, he may well have no superior, for the fantasy and beauty of his work, its complexity, too, are almost unique, and entirely his own; but in simplicity, and in a certain sense of reality, he is wanting, so that however delightful his work may be, those "gates of Paradise," for instance, that Michelangelo praised, it seems to be complete in itself, to suggest nothing but the wonderful effect one may get by using the means proper to one art for expression in another, as though one were to write a book that should have the effect upon one of an opera, to allow the strange rhythm and sensuous beauty of Tristan and Isolde, for instance, to disengage itself from pages which were full of just musical words.

Ghiberti's gift for composition, as well as his failure to understand, or at least to satisfy the more fundamental needs of his art, may be seen very happily in those two panels now in the Bargello, which he and Brunellesco made in the competition for the gates of the Baptistery. Looking on those two panels, where both artists have carved the Sacrifice of Isaac, you see Ghiberti at his best, the whole interest not divided, as it is in Brunellesco's panel, between the servants and the sacrifice, but concentrated altogether upon that scene which is about to become so tragical. Yet with what energy Brunellesco has conceived an act that in his hands seems really to have happened. How swiftly the angel has seized the hand of Abraham; how splendidly he stands, the old man who is about to kill his only son for the love of God. And then consider the beauty of Isaac, that naked body which in Brunellesco's hands is splendid with life, really living and noble, with a truth and loveliness far in advance of the art of his time. Ghiberti has felt none of the joy of a creation such as this; his Isaac is sleepy, a little surprised and altogether docile; he has not sprung up from his knees as in Brunellesco's panel, but looks up at the angel as though he had never understood that his very life was at stake. Yet it was in those gates which, Brunellesco, as it is said, retiring from the contest, the Opera then gave into his hands, that we shall find the best work of Ghiberti. There it is really the art of Andrea Pisano that he takes as a master, and with so fair an example before him produces as splendid a thing as he ever accomplished, simpler too, and it may be more sincere, though a little lacking in expressiveness and life. All the rest of his work seems to me to be lacking in conviction, to be frankly almost an experiment. His Statue of St. John Baptist, his St. Matthew and St. Stephen, too, at Or San Michele, different though they are, and with six years between each of them, seem alike in this, that they are, while splendid in energy, wanting in purpose, in intention: he never seems sufficiently sure of himself to convince us. His reliquary in bronze containing the ashes of S. Zenobius in the apse of the Duomo, is difficult to see, but it is in the manner of the gates of Paradise. It was not to the disciples of Ghiberti that the future belonged, but to those who have studied with Brunellesco. His crucifix in S. Maria Novella, his Evangelists in the Pazzi Chapel, are among the finest work of that age, full of life and the remembrance of it in their strength and beauty.

It is, however, in the art of a contemporary that the new age came at last to its own—in the work of Donatello. In his youth he had worked for the Duomo and for Or San Michele side by side with Nanni di Banco, who may perhaps pass as his master. Of Donatello's life we know almost nothing If we seek to learn something of him, it must be in his works of which so many remain to us. We know, however, that he was the intimate friend of Brunellesco, and that it was with him he set out for Rome soon after this great and proud man had withdrawn from the contest with Ghiberti for the Baptistery gates. Donatello was to visit Rome again in later life, but on this first journey that he made with Brunellesco for the purposes of study, he must have become acquainted with what was left of antiquity in the Eternal City. It was too soon for that enthusiasm for antiquity, which later overwhelmed Italian art so disastrously, to have arisen. When Donatello returned about a year later to Florence to work for the Opera del Duomo, it is not any classic influence we find in his statues, but rather the study of nature, an extraordinary desire to express not beauty, scarcely ever that, but character. His work is strong, and often splendid, full of energy, movement, and conviction, but save now and then, as in the S. Croce Annunciation, for instance, it is not content with just beauty.

Of his work for the Duomo and the Campanile, I speak elsewhere; it will be sufficient here to note the splendour of the St. John the Divine in the apse of the Duomo, which, as Burckhardt has divined, already suggests the Moses of Michelangelo. The destruction of the unfinished facade has perhaps made it more difficult to identify the figures he carved there, but whether the Poggio of the Duomo, for instance, be Job or no, seems after all to matter very little, since that statue itself, be its subject what it may, remains to us.

In his work at Or San Michele, in the St. Peter, in the St. Mark, so like the St. John the Divine and in the St. George, here in the Bargello, we see his progress, and there in that last figure we find just that decision and simplicity which seem to have been his own, with a certain frankness and beauty of youth which are new in his work.

There are some ten works by the master in the Bargello, together with numerous casts of his statues and reliefs in other parts of Italy, so that he may be studied here better than anywhere else. Looking thus on his work more or less as a whole, it is a new influence we seem to divine for the first time in the marble David, a little faintly, perhaps, but obvious enough in the St. George, a Gothic influence that appears very happily for once, in work that almost alone in Italy seems to need just that, well, as an excuse for beauty. That marble statue of David was made at about the same time as the St. John the Divine, for the Duomo too, where it was to stand within the church in a chapel there in the apse. A little awkward in his half-shy pose, the young David stands over the head of Goliath, uncertain whether to go or stay. It is a failure which passes into the success, the more than success of the St. George, which is perhaps his masterpiece. Made for the Guild of Armourers, from the first day on which it was set up it has been beloved. Michelangelo loved it well, and Vasari is enthusiastic about it, while Bocchi, writing in 1571,[116] devotes a whole book to it. In its present bad light—for the light should fall not across, but from in front and from above, as it did once when it stood in its niche at Or San Michele—it is not seen to advantage, but even so, the life that seems to move in the cold stone may be discerned. With a proud and terrible impetuosity St. George seems about to confront some renowned and famous enemy, that old dragon whom once he slew. Full of confidence and beauty he gazes unafraid, as though on that which he is about to encounter before he moves forward to meet it. Well may Michelangelo have whispered "March!" as he passed by, it is the very order he awaits, the whisper of his own heart. It is in this romantic and beautiful figure that, as it seems to me, that new Gothic influence may be most clearly discerned. M. Reymond, in his learned and pleasant book on Florentine sculpture, has pointed out the likeness which this St. George of Donatello bears to the St. Theodore of Chartres Cathedral, and though it is impossible to deny that likeness, it seems at first almost as impossible to explain it. It is true that many Italians were employed in France in the building of the churches; it is equally true that Michelozzo, the friend and assistant of Donato, was the son of a Burgundian; but it seems as unlikely that an Italian artist, inspired by the French style, returned from France to work in Florence, as that Michelozzo was born with a knowledge of the northern manner which he never practised. An explanation, however, offers itself in the fact that the Religious Orders, those internationalists, continually passed from North to South, from East to West, from monastery to monastery, and that they may well have brought with them certain statues in ivory of Madonna or the Saints, in which such an one as Donatello could have found the hint he needed. That such statues were known in Italy is proved not only by their presence in this museum, but by the ivory Madonna of Giovanni Pisano in the sacristy of the Duomo at Pisa.

The Marzocco which stood of old on the Ringhiera before the Palazzo Vecchio might seem to be a work of this period, for it is only saved by a kind of good fortune from failure. It is without energy and without life, but in its monumental weight and a certain splendour of design it impresses us with a sort of majesty as no merely naturalistic study of a lion could do. If we compare it for a moment with the heraldic shield in Casa Martelli, where Donato has carved in relief a winged griffin rampant, cruel and savage, with all the beauty and vigour of Verrocchio, we shall understand something of his failure in the Marzocco, and something, too, of his success. In that heavy grotesque and fantastic Lion of the Bargello some suggestion of the monumental art of Egypt seems to have been divined for a moment, but without understanding.

In the Casa Martelli, too, you may find a statue of St. John Baptist, a figure fine and youthful and melancholy, with the vague thoughts of youth, really the elder brother as it were of the child of the Bargello, who bears his cross like a delicate plaything, unaware of his destiny. That figure, so full of mystery, seems to have haunted Donatello all his life, and then St. John Baptist was the patron of Florence and presided over every Baptistery in Italy; yet it is always with a particular melancholy that Donatello deals with him, as though in his vague destiny he had found as it were a vision. The child of the Bargello passes into the boy of the Casa Martelli, that lad who maybe has heard a voice sweet enough as yet while wandering by chance on the mountains, sandalled and clad in camel's hair. We see him again as the chivalrous youth of the Campanile, the dedicated, absorbed wanderer of the Bargello, the haggard, emaciated prophet of the Friars' Church at Venice, and at last as the despairing and ancient seer of Siena, a voice that is only a voice weary of itself, crying unheeded in the wilderness. And, as it seems to me in all these figures, which in themselves have so little beauty, it is rather a mood of the soul that Donatello has set himself to express than any delight. He has turned away from physical beauty, in which man can no longer believe, using the body refined almost to the delicacy and transparency of a shell, in which the soul may shine, or at least be seen, in all its moods of happiness or terror. That weary figure who, unconscious of his cross, unconscious of the world, absorbed in his own destiny, in the scroll of his fate, trudges through the wilderness without a thought of the way, is as far from the ideal abstract beauty of the Greeks as from the romantic splendour of Gothic art. Only with him the soul has lost touch with particular things, even as the beauty of the Greeks was purged of all the accidents and feeling that belonged alone to the individual. Like a ghost he passes by, intent on some immortal sorrow; he is like a shadow on a day of sun, a dark cloud over the moon, the wind in the desert. And in a moment, we knew not why, our hearts are restless suddenly, we know not why, we are unhappy, we know not why, we desire to be where we are not, or only to forget.

So in the bronze David now in the Bargello we seem to see youth itself dreaming after the first victory of all the conquests to come, while a smile of half-conscious delight, is passing from the lips; tyranny is dead. It is the first nude statue of the Renaissance made for Cosimo de' Medici before his exile. For Cosimo, too, the Amorino was made that study of pure delight, where we find all the joy of the children of the Cantoria, but without their unction and seriousness. And then in the portrait busts the young Gattemalata, and the terra-cotta of Niccolo da Uzzano, we may see Donatello's devotion to mere truthfulness without an afterthought, as though for him Truth were beauty in its loyalty, at any rate, to the impression of a moment that for the artist is eternity.

His marvellous equestrian statue of Gattemalata is in Padua, his tomb and reliefs and statues lie in many an Italian city, but here in the Bargello we have enough of his work to enable us to divine something at least of his secret. And this seems to me to have been Donatello's intention in the art of sculpture: his figures are like gestures of life, of the soul, sometimes involuntary and full of weariness, sometimes altogether joyful, but always the expression of a mood of the soul which is dumb, that in its agony or delight has in his work expressed itself by means of the body, so that, though he never carves the body for its own sake, or for the sake of beauty, he is as faithful in his study of it for the sake of the truth, as he is in his study of those moods of the soul which through him seem for the first time to have found an utterance. His life was full of wanderings; beside the journey to Rome with Brunellesco he went to Siena to make the tomb in the Duomo there of Bishop Pecci of Grosseto, and in 1433, when Cosimo de' Medici went into exile, he was again in Rome, and even in Naples. Returning to Florence after no long time, in 1444, he went to Padua, where he worked in S. Antonio and made the equestrian statue that was the wonder of the world. On his return to Florence, an old man, a certain decadence may be found in his work, so that his reliefs in S. Lorenzo are not altogether worthy of him, are perhaps the work of a man who is losing his sight and is already a little dependent on his pupils. One of these, Bertoldo di Giovanni, who died in 1491, has left us a beautiful relief of a battle, now in the Bargello, and later we catch a glimpse of him in the garden of Lorenzo's villa directing the studies in art of a number of young people, among whom was the youthful Michelangelo. But of the real disciples of Donatello, those who, without necessarily being his pupils, carried his art a step farther, we know nothing. His influence seems to have died with him. Tuscan art after his death, and even before that, had already set out on another road than his.

Something of that expressiveness, that intimite, which Pater found so characteristic of Luca della Robbia, seems to have inspired all the sculptors of the fifteenth century save Donatello himself. Not vitality merely, but a wonderful sort of expressiveness—it is the mood of all their work. It is perhaps in Luca della Robbia and his school that we first come upon this strange sweetness, which is really a sort of clairvoyance, as it were, to the passing aspect of the world, of men, of the summer days that go by so fast, bringing winter behind them. What the Greeks had striven to attain, that naturalness in sculpture, as though the god were really about to breathe and put out its hand, that wonderful vagueness of Michelangelo akin to nature, by which he attained the same life giving effect, a something more than mere form, bloomed in Luca's work like a new wild flower. Expression, life, the power to express the spirit in marble and terra-cotta, these are what he really discovered, and not the mere material of his art, that painted earthenware, as Vasari supposes.

Of his two great works in marble, the tomb of Benozzo Federighi, Bishop of Fiesole, at San Miniato, and the Cantoria for the Duomo, of his bronze doors for the sacristy there, and his work on the Campanile, I speak elsewhere; but here in the Bargello, and all over Tuscany too, you may see those terra-cotta reliefs of Madonna, of the Annunciation, of the Birth of our Lord, painted first just white, and then blue and white, and later with many colours which are peculiar to him and his school—could such flower-like things have been born anywhere but in Italy?—and then, if you take them away they fade in the shadows of the North.

Among the first to give Luca commissions for this exquisite work in clay was Piero de' Medici. For him Luca decorated a small book-lined chamber in the great Medici palace that Cosimo had built. His work was for the ceiling and the pavement, the ceiling being a half sphere. For the hot summer days of Italy, when the streets are a blaze of light and the sun seems to embrace the city, this terra-cotta work with its cool whites and blues, was particularly delightful bringing really, as it were, something of the cool morning sea, the soft sky, into a place confined and shut in, so that where they were, coolness and temperance might find a safe retreat. And it was in such work as this that he found his fame. Andrea della Robbia, his nephew, the best artist of his school, follows him, and after come a host of artists, some little better than craftsmen, who add colour to colour, till Luca's blue and white has been almost lost amid the greens and yellows and reds which at last altogether spoil the simplicity and beauty of what was really as delicate as a flower peeping out from the shadow into the sun and the rain.

But of one of the pupils of Luca, Agostino di Duccio, 1418-81(?), something more remains than these fragile and yet hardy works in terra-cotta. He has carved in marble with something of Luca's gentleness at Perugia and Rimini. He left Florence, it is said, in 1446, after an accusation of theft, returning there to carve the lovely tabernacle of the Ognissanti. It is said that he had tried unsuccessfully to deal with that block of marble which stood in the Loggia dei Lanzi, and from which Michelangelo unfolded the David. Two panels attributed to him remain in the Bargello, a Crucifixion and a Pieta, which scarcely do him justice. The last sculptor of the first half of the fifteenth century, his best work seems to me to be at Rimini, where he worked for Sigismondo Malatesta in the temple Alberti had built in that fierce old city by the sea.

It is with the second half of the fifteenth century that the art contrived for the delight of private persons, for the decoration of palaces, of chapels, and of tombs, begins. Already Donatello had worked for Cosimo de' Medici, and had made portrait busts, and, as it might seem, the work of Luca della Robbia was especially suited for private altars or oratories, or the cool rooms of a people which had not yet divided its religion from its life. And then, in Florence at any rate, all the great churches were finished, or almost finished; it was necessary for the artist to find other patrons. Among those workers in metal who had assisted Ghiberti when he cast the reliefs of his first baptistery gate was the father of a man who had with his brother learned the craft of the goldsmiths. His name was Antonio Pollajuolo. Born in 1429, he was the pupil of his father and of Paolo Uccello, learning from the latter the art of painting, which he practised, however, like a sculptor, his real triumph being, in that art at any rate, one of movement and force. His best works in sculpture seem to me to be his tombs of Sixtus IV and Innocent VII in S. Pietro in Rome; but here in the Bargello you may see the beautiful bust in terra-cotta of a young condottiere in a rich and splendid armour, and a little bronze group of Hercules and Antaeus. In the Opera del Duomo his silver relief of the Birth of St. John Baptist is one of the finest works of that age; but his art is seen at its highest in that terra-cotta bust here in the Bargello, perhaps a sketch for a bronze, where he has expressed the infinite confidence and courage of one of those captains of adventure, who, with war for their trade, carried havoc up and down Italy.

It is, however, in the work of another goldsmith—or at least the pupil of one, whose name he took—that we find the greatest master of the new age, Andrea Verrocchio. Born in 1435, and dead in 1488, he was preoccupied all his life with the fierce splendour of his art, the subtle sweetness that he drew from the strength of his work. The master, certainly, of Lorenzo di Credi and Leonardo, and finally of Perugino also, he was a painter as well as a sculptor; and though his greatest work was achieved in marble and bronze, one cannot lightly pass by the Annunciation of the Uffizi, or the Baptism of the Accademia. Neglected for so long, he is at last recognised as one of the greatest of all Italian masters of the Renaissance.

The pupil of a goldsmith practising the craft of a founder, he cast the sacristy gates of the Duomo for Luca della Robbia. In sculpture he appears to have studied under Donatello, though his work shows little of his influence; and working, as we may suppose, with his master in S. Lorenzo, he made the bronze plaque for the tomb of Cosimo there before the choir, and the monument of Piero and Giovanni de' Medici beside the door of the sacristy. It was again for Lorenzo de' Medici that he made the exquisite Child and Dolphin now in the court of Palazzo Vecchio, and the statue of the young David now in Bargello. The subtle grace and delight of this last seem not uncertainly to suggest the strange and lovely work of Leonardo da Vinci. There for the first time you may discern the smile that is like a ray of sunshine in Leonardo's shadowy pictures. More perfect in craftsmanship and in the knowledge of anatomy than Donatello, Verrocchio here, where he seems almost to have been inspired by the David of his master, surpasses him in energy and beauty, and while Donatello's figure is involved with the head of Goliath, so that the feet are lost in the massive and almost shapeless bronze, Verrocchio's David stands clear of the grim and monstrous thing at his feet. Simpler, too, and less uncertain is the whole pose of the figure, who is in no doubt of himself, and in his heart he has already "slain his thousands."

In the portrait of Monna Vanna degli Albizi, the Lady with the Nosegay, Verrocchio is the author of the most beautiful bust of the Renaissance. She fills the room with sunshine, and all day long she seems to whisper some beloved name. A smile seems ever about to pass over her face under her clustering hair, and she has folded her beautiful hands on her bosom, as though she were afraid of their beauty and would live ever in their shadow.

In two reliefs of Madonna and Child, one in marble and one in terra-cotta, you find that strange smile again, not, as with Leonardo, some radiance of the soul visible for a moment on the lips, but the smile of a mother happy with her little son. In the two Tornabuoni reliefs that we find here too in the Bargello, it is not Verrocchio's hand we see; but in the group of Christ and St. Thomas at Or San Michele, and in the fierce and splendid equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni at Venice, you see him at his best, occupied with a subtle beauty long sought out, and with an expression of the fierce ardour and passion that consumed him all his life. He touches nothing that does not live with an ardent splendour and energy of spirit because of him. If he makes only a leaf of bronze for a tomb, it seems to quiver under his hands with an inextinguishable vitality.

Softly beside him, untouched by the passion of his style, grew all the lovely but less passionate works of the sculptors in marble, the sweet and almost winsome monuments of the dead. Bernardo Rossellino, born in 1409, his elder by more than twenty years, died more than twenty years before him, in 1464, carving, among other delightful things, the lovely Annunciation at Empoli, the delicate monument of Beata Villana in S. Maria Novella, and creating once for all, in the tomb of Leonardo Bruni in S. Croce, the perfect pattern of such things, which served as an example to all the Tuscan sculptors who followed, till Michelangelo hewed the great monuments in the Sacristy of S. Lorenzo. His brother Antonio, born in 1427, worked with him at Pistoja certainly in the tomb of Filippo Lazzari in S. Domenico, surpassing him as a sculptor, under the influence of Desiderio da Settignano. His finest work is the beautiful tomb in S. Miniato of the young Cardinal of Portugal, who died on a journey to Florence. In that strange and lovely place there is nothing more beautiful than that monument under the skyey work of Luca della Robbia, before the faintly coloured frescoes of Alessio Baldovinetti. Under a vision of Madonna borne by angels from heaven, where two angels stoop, half kneeling, on guard, the young Cardinal sleeps, supported by two heavenly children, his hands—those delicate hands—folded in death. Below, on a frieze at the base of the tomb, Antonio has carved all sorts of strange and beautiful things—a skull among the flowers over a garland harnessed to two unicorns; angels too, youthful and strong, lifting the funeral vases. At Naples, again, he carved the altar of the Cappella Piccolomini in S. Maria at Montoliveto. Here in the Bargello some fragments of beautiful things have been gathered—a tabernacle with two adoring angels, a little St. John made in 1477 for the Opera, a relief of the Adoration of the Shepherds, another of Madonna in an almond-shaped glory of cherubim, and, last of all, the splendid busts of Matteo Palmieri and Francesco Sassetti; but his masterpiece in pure sculpture is the S. Sebastian in the Collegiata at Empoli, a fair and youthful figure without the affectation and languor that were so soon to fall upon him.

Perhaps the greatest of these sculptors in marble, whose works, as winsome as wild flowers, are scattered over the Tuscan hills, was Desiderio da Settignano, born in 1428. He had worked with Donatello in the Pazzi Chapel, and his tabernacle in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in S. Lorenzo is one of the most charming things left in that museum of Tuscan work. Of his beautiful tomb of Carlo Marsuppini in S. Croce I speak elsewhere: it is worthy of its fellows—Bernardo Rosellino's tomb of Leonardo Bruni in the same church, and the tomb of the Cardinal of Portugal by Antonio Rossellino at S. Miniato. Desiderio has not the energy of Rossellino or the passionate ardour of Verrocchio. He searches for a quiet beauty full of serenity and delight. His work in the Bargello is of little account. The bust of a girl (No. 198 in the fifth room on the top floor) is but doubtfully his: Vasari speaks only of the bust of Marietta Strozzi, now in Berlin. He died in 1464, and his work, so rare, so refined and delicate in its beauty, comes to its own in the perfect achievement of Benedetto da Maiano, born in 1442, who made the pulpit of S. Croce, the ciborium of S. Domenico in Siena. It was for Pietro Mellini that he carved the pulpit of S. Croce, and here in the Bargello we may see the bust he made of his patron. In his youth he had carved in wood and worked at the intarsia work so characteristic a craft of the fifteenth century; but on bringing some coffers of this work to the King of Hungary, Vasari relates that he found they had fallen to pieces on the voyage, and ever after he preferred to work in marble. Having acquired a competence, of this work too he seems to have tired, devoting himself to architectural work—porticos, altars, and such—buying an estate at last outside the gate of Prato that is towards Florence; dying in 1497.

It is with a prolific master, Mino da Fiesole, the last pupil, according to Vasari, of Desiderio da Settignano, that the delicate and flower-like work of the Tuscan sculptors may be said to pass into a still lovely decadence. His facile work is found all over Italy. The three busts of the Bargello are among his earliest and best works—the Piero de' Medici, the Giuliano de' Medici, and the small bust of Rinaldo della Luna. There, too, are two reliefs from his hand, and some tabernacles which have no great merit. A relief of the Madonna and Child is a finer achievement in his earlier manner, and in the Duomo of Fiesole there remains a bust of the Bishop, Leonardo Salutati, while in the same chapel, an altar and relief, from his hand, seem to prove that it was only a fatal facility that prevented him from becoming as fine an artist as Benedetto da Maiano.

With Andrea Sansovino, born in 1460, we come to the art of the sixteenth century, very noble and beautiful, at any rate in its beginning, but so soon to pass into a mere affectation. The pupil, according to Vasari, of Antonio Pollaiuolo, Sansovino's work is best seen in Rome. Here in Florence he made in his youth the altar of the Blessed Sacrament in the left transept of S. Spirito, and in 1502 the Baptism of Christ, over the eastern gates of the Baptistery, but this was finished by another hand. And there followed him Benedetto da Rovezzano, whose style has become classical, the sculptor of every sort of lovely furniture,—mantelpieces, tabernacles, and such,—yet in his beautiful reliefs of the life of S. Giovanni Gualberto you see the work of the sixteenth century at its best, without the freshness and delicate charm of fifteenth-century sculpture, but exquisite enough in its perfect skill, its real achievement.

There follows Michelangelo (1475-1564). It is with a sort of surprise one comes face to face with that sorrowful, heroic figure, as though, following among the flowers, we had come upon some tragic precipice, some immense cavern too deep for sight. How, after the delight, the delicate charm of the fifteenth century, can I speak of this beautiful, strong, and tragic soul? It might almost seem that the greatest Italian of the sixteenth century has left us in sculpture little more than an immortal gesture of despair, of despair of a world which he has not been content to love. His work is beautiful with the beauty of the mountains, of the mountains in which he alone has found the spirit of man. His figures, half unveiled from the living rock, are like some terrible indictment of the world he lived in, and in a sort of rage at its uselessness he leaves them unfinished, and it but half expressed;—an indictment of himself too, of his own heart, of his contempt for things as they are. Yet in his youth he had been content with beauty—in the lovely Pieta of S. Pietro, for instance, where, on the robe of Mary, alone in all his work he has placed his name; or in the statue of Bacchus, now here in the Bargello, sleepy, half drunken with wine or with visions, the eyelids heavy with dreams, the cup still in his hand. But already in the David his trouble is come upon him; the sorrow that embittered his life has been foreseen, and in a sort of protest against the enslavement of Florence, that nest where he was born, he creates this hero, who seems to be waiting for some tyranny to declare itself. The Brutus, unfinished as we say, to-day in the Bargello, he refused to touch again, since that city which was made for a thousand lovers, as he said, had been enjoyed by one only, some Medici against whom, as we know, he was ready to fight. If in the beautiful relief of Madonna we find a sweetness and strength that is altogether without bitterness or indignation, it is not any religious consolation we find there, but such comfort rather as life may give when in a moment of inward tragedy we look on the stars or watch a mother with her little son. What secret and immortal sorrow and resentment are expressed in those strange and beautiful figures of the tombs in the Sacristy of S. Lorenzo! The names we have, given them are, as Pater has said, too definite for them; they suggest more than we know how to express of our thoughts concerning life, so that for once the soul of man seems there to have taken form and turned to stone. The unfinished Pieta in the Duomo, it is said, he carved for his own grave: like so much of his great, tragical work, it is unfinished, unfinished though everything he did was complete from the beginning. For he is like the dawn that brings with it noon and evening, he is like the day which will pass into the night. In him the spirit of man has stammered the syllables of eternity, and in its agony of longing or sorrow has failed to speak only the word love. All things particular to the individual, all that is small or of little account, that endures but for a moment, have been purged away, so that Life itself may make, as it were, an immortal gesticulation, almost monstrous in its passionate intensity—a mirage seen on the mountains, a shadow on the snow. And after him, and long before his death, there came Baccio Bandinelli and the rest, Cellini the goldsmith, Giovanni da Bologna, and the sculptors of the decadence that has lasted till our own day. With him Italian art seems to have been hurled out of heaven; henceforth his followers stand on the brink of Pandemonium, making the frantic gestures of fallen gods.


[115] It seems necessary to note that probably Arnolfo Fiorentino and Arnolfo di Cambio are not the same person. Cf. Crowe and Cavalcaselle, op. cit. vol. i. p. 127, note 4.

[116] Eccellenza della Statua di S. Giorgio di Donatello: Marescotti, 1684.



Florentine art, that had expressed itself so charmingly, and at last so passionately and profoundly, in sculpture, where design, drawing, that integrity of the plastic artist, is everything, and colour almost nothing at all, shows itself in painting, where it is most characteristic, either as the work of those who were sculptors themselves, or had at least learned from them—Giotto, Orcagna, Masaccio, the Pollaiuoli, Verrocchio, and Michelangelo—or in such work as that of Fra Angelico, Fra Lippo Lippi, Botticelli, and Leonardo, where painting seems to pass into poetry, into a canticle or a hymn, a Trionfo or some strange, far-away, sweet music. The whole impulse of this art lies in the intellect rather than in the senses, is busied continually in discussing life rather than in creating it, in discussing one by one the secrets of movement, of expression; always more eager to find new forms for ideas than to create just life itself in all its splendour and shadow, as Venice was content to do. Thus, while Florence was the most influential school of art in Italy, her greatest sons do not seem altogether to belong to her: Leonardo, a wanderer all his life, founds his school in Milan, and dies at last in France; Michelangelo becomes almost a Roman painter, the sculptor, the architect in paint of the Sistine Chapel; while Andrea del Sarto appears from the first as a foreigner, the one colourist of the school, only a Florentine in this, that much of his work is, as it were, monumental, composing itself really—as with the Madonna delle Arpie or the great Madonna and Saints of the Pitti, for instance—into statuesque groups, into sculpture. So if we admit that Leonardo and Michelangelo were rather universal than Florentine, the most characteristic work of the school lies in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, in the work of Giotto, so full of great, simple thoughts of life; in that of the Pollaiuoli, so full of movement; but most of all perhaps in the work of Angelico, Lippo Lippi, and Botticelli, where the significance of life has passed into beauty, into music.

The rise of this school, so full of importance for Italy, for the world, is very happily illustrated in the Accademia della Belle Arti; and if the galleries of the Uffizi can show a greater number of the best works of the Florentine painters, together with much else that is foreign to them; if the Pitti Palace is richer in masterpieces, and possesses some works of Raphael's Florentine period and the pictures of Fra Bartolomeo and Andrea del Sarto, as well as a great collection of the work of the other Italian schools, it is really in the Accademia we may study best the rise of the Florentine school itself, finding there not only the work of Giotto, his predecessors and disciples, but the pictures of Fra Angelico, of Verrocchio, of Filippo Lippi, of Botticelli, the painters of that fifteenth century which, as Pater has told us, "can hardly be studied too much, not merely for its positive results in the things of the intellect and the imagination, its concrete works of art, its special and prominent personalities with their profound aesthetic charm, but for its general spirit and character, for the ethical qualities of which it is a consummate type."

The art of the Sculptors had been able to free itself from the beautiful but sterile convention of the Byzantine masters earlier than the art of Painting, because it had found certain fragments of antiquity scattered up and down Southern Italy, and in such a place as the Campo Santo of Pisa, to which it might turn for guidance and inspiration. No such forlorn beauty remained in exile to renew the art of painting. All the pictures of antiquity had been destroyed, and though in such work as that of the Cavallini and their school at Assisi there may be found a faint memory of the splendour that had so unfortunately passed away, it is rather the shadow of the statues we find there—in the Abraham of the upper church of S. Francesco, for instance—than the more lyrical and mortal loveliness of the unknown painters of Imperial Rome. Yet it is there, in that lonely and beautiful church full of the soft sweet light of Umbria, that Giotto perhaps learned all that was needed to enable him not only to recreate the art of painting, but to decide its future in Italy.

Here in the Accademia in the Sala dei Maestri Toscani you may see an altarpiece that has perhaps come to us from his hands, amid much beautiful languid work that is still in the shadow of the Middle Age, or that, coming after him, has almost failed to understand his message, the words of life which may everywhere be found in his frescoes in Assisi, in Florence, in Padua, spoiled though they be by the intervention of fools, the spoliation of the vandals.

Those strange and lovely altarpieces ruthlessly torn from the convents and churches of Tuscany still keep inviolate the secret of those who, not without tears, made them for the love of God: once for sure they made a sunshine in some shadowy place. Hung here to-day in a museum, just so many specimens that we number and set in order, they seem rude and fantastic enough, and in the cold light of this salone, crowded together like so much furniture, they have lost all meaning or intention. They are dead, and we gaze at them almost with contempt; they will never move us again. That rude and almost terrible picture of Madonna and Saints with its little scenes from the life of our Lord, stolen from the Franciscan convent of S. Chiara at Lucca, what is it to us who pass by? Yet once it listened for the prayers of the little nuns of S. Francis, and, who knows, may have heard the very voice of Il Poverello. That passionate and dreadful picture of St. Mary Magdalen covered by her hair as with a robe of red gold, does it move us at all? Will it explain to us the rise of Florentine painting? And you, O learned archaeologist, you, O scientific critic, you, O careless and curious tourist, will it bring you any comfort to read (if you can) the inscription—

"Ne desperetis, vos qui peccare soletis Exemploque meo vos reperate Deo."

Those small pictures of the life of St. Mary, which surround her still with their beauty, do you even know what they mean? And if you do, are they any more to you than an idle tale, a legend, which has lost even its meaning? No, we look at these faint and far-off things merely with curiosity as a botanist looks through his albums, like one who does not know flowers.

Then there is the great Ancona (102) from S. Trinita attributed to Cimabue about which the critics have been so eloquent, till under their hands Cimabue has vanished into a mere legend; and Madonna too, is she now any more than a tale that is told? Beside it you find another Madonna (103) from Ognissanti which they agree together is really from the hand of Giotto, though with how much intervention and repainting; but they confess too that there is little to be learnt from it, since Giotto may be seen to better advantage and more truly himself in his frescoes, which yet remain in the churches as of old. And it is for this we have robbed the lowly and stolen away the images of their gods.

It is a lesser because a merely imitative art that you see in the work of Taddeo Gaddi and the Madonna and Child with six saints of his son Agnolo, or the Entombment ascribed to Taddeo but really the work of an inferior painter, Niccolo di Pietro Gerini from Or San Michele. Yet those twelve scenes from the lives of Christ and St. Francis are lovely enough; and in the Crucifixion there (112) we seem to see the work of a master. A host of painters, "the Giottesques," as we may call them, followed: Puccio Capanna, Buffalmacco, Francesco da Volterra, Stefano Fiorentino, the grandson of Giotto, Giottino, and Spinello Aretino, all of whom were painting about the middle of the fourteenth century in Giotto's manner but without his genius, or any true understanding of his art. The gradual passing of this derivative work, the prophecy of such painters as Masolino, Masaccio, and Fra Angelico may be found in the work of Orcagna, of Antonio Veneziano, and Starnina, and possibly too in the better-preserved paintings of Lorenzo Monaco of the order of S. Romuald of Camaldoli, in the Annunciation (143), for instance, here in this very room.

Andrea Orcagna was born about 1308. He was a man of almost universal genius, but his altarpiece in S. Maria Novella is nearly all that remains to us of his painting, and splendid though it be, has been perhaps spoiled by a later hand than his. In the Accademia here there is a Vision of St. Bernard (No. 138), faint, it is true, but still soft and charming in colour, while in the Uffizi there is in the corridor an altarpiece with St. Matthew in the midst that is certainly partially his own. Nothing at all remains to us of the work of Starnina, the master of Masolino, and thus we lose the link which should connect the art of Giotto and the Giottesques with the art of Masolino and Angelico.[117] It was about the same time as Starnina was painting in the chapel of S. Girolamo at the Carmine that Lorenzo Monaco was working in the manner of Agnolo Gaddi. His work is beautiful by reason of its delicacy and gentleness, but it is so completely in the old manner that Vasari gives his altarpiece of the Annunciation now here in the Accademia (No. 143) to Giotto, praising that master for the tremulous sweetness of Madonna as she shrinks before the Announcing Angel just about to alight from heaven. It is a very different scene you come upon in his altarpiece in S. Trinita, where Gabriel, his beautiful wings furled, has already fallen on his knees, and our Lord Himself, still among the Cherubim, speeds the Dove to Mary, who has looked up from her book suddenly in an ecstasy.

No work that we possess of the fourteenth century, save Giotto's, prepares us for the frescoes of Masolino: they must be sought in the Brancacci Chapel of the Carmine. But of the work of Masaccio his pupil, though his best work remains in the same place, there may be found here in the Accademia an early altarpiece of Madonna and Child with St. Anne (Sala III, No. 70). Born in 1401, dying when he was but twenty-seven years of age, he recreated for himself that reality in painting which it had been the chief business of Giotto to discover. Influenced by Donatello, his work is almost as immediate as that of sculpture. Impressive and full of an energy that seems to be life itself, his figures have almost the sense of reality. "I feel," says Mr. Berenson, "that I could touch every figure, that it would yield a definite resistance ... that I could walk round it." There follow Paolo Uccello, whose work will be found in the Uffizi, and Andrea del Castagno, who painted the equestrian portrait of Niccolo da Tolentino in the Duomo, and the frescoes in S. Apollonia.

Thus we come really into the midst of the fifteenth century, to the work of Fra Angelico, Fra Lippo Lippi, and Botticelli, which we have loved so much.

It is really the Middle Age, quite expressed for once, by one who, standing a little way off perhaps, could almost scorn it, that we come upon in Gentile da Fabriano's picture, on an easel here, of the Adoration of the Shepherds. It is one of the loveliest of all early Umbrian pictures, full of a new kind of happiness that is about to discover the world. And if with Gentile we seem to look back on the Middle Age from the very dawn of the Renaissance, it is the Renaissance itself, the most simple and divine work it achieved in its earliest and best days, that we see in the work of Fra Angelico. One beautiful and splendid picture, the Descent from the Cross, alas! repainted, stands near Gentile's Adoration, among several later pictures, of which certainly the loveliest is a gentle and serene work by Domenico Ghirlandajo, an Adoration of the Shepherds; but the greater part of Angelico's work to be found here is in another room. There, in many little pictures, you may see the world as Paradise, the very garden where God talked with Adam. Or he will tell us the story of S. Cosmas and S. Damian, those good saints who despised gold, so that with their brethren they were cast into a furnace, but the beautiful bright flames curled and leaped away from them as at the breath of God, licking feverishly at the persecutors, who with iron forks try to thrust the faggots nearer, while one hides from the heat of the fire behind his shield, and another, already dead, is consumed by the flames. Above in a gallery of marble, decked with beautiful rugs and hangings of needlework, the sultan looks on astonished amid his courtiers. Or it is the story of our Lord he tells us: how in the evening Mary set out from Nazareth mounted on a mule, her little son in her arms, Joseph following afoot, with a pipkin for the fire in the wilderness, and a fiasco of wine lest they be thirsty, a great stick over his shoulder for the difficult way, and a cloak too, for our Lady. Or it is the Annunciation he shows us: how in the dawn of that day of days, his bright wings still tremulous with flight, Gabriel fell like a snowflake in the garden, in the silence of the cypresses between two little loggias, light and fair, where Madonna was praying; far and far away in the faint clear sky the Dove hovers, that is the Spirit of God, the Desire of all Nations. Or it is Hosanna he sings, when Christ rides under the stripped palms into Jerusalem, while the people strew the way with branches. Or again he will tell us of Paradise, beneath whose towers, in a garden of wild flowers, the saints dance with the angels, crowned with garlands, in the light that streams through the gates of heaven from the throne of God.

How may we rightly speak of such a man, who in his simplicity has seen angels on the hills of Tuscany, the flowers and trees of our world scattered in heaven? Truly his master is unknown, for, as perhaps he was too simple to say, St. Luke taught him in an idle hour, after the vision of the Annunciation, when he was tired of writing the Magnificat of Mary: and Angelico was his only pupil. That such things as these could come out of the cloister is not so marvellous as that, since they grew there, we should have suppressed the convents and turned the friars away. For just as the lily of art towered first and broke into blossom on the grave of St. Francis, so here in the convent of S. Marco of the Dominicans was one who for the first time seems to have seen the world, the very byways and hills of Tuscany, and dreamed of them as heaven.

It was another friar who was, as it were, to people that world, a little more human perhaps, a little less than Paradise, which Angelico had seen; to people it at least with children, little laughing rascals from the street corner, caught with a soldo and turned into angels. Another friar, but how different. The story, so romantic, so full of laughter and tears, that Vasari has told us of Fra Lippo Lippi, is one of his best known pages; I shall not tell it again. Four little panels painted by him are here in this room, beside the work of Fra Angelico. While not far away you come upon two splendid studies by Perugino of two monks of the Vallombrosa, Dom Biagio Milanesi and Dom Baldassare, the finest portraits he ever painted, and in some sort his most living work.[118] Four other works by Perugino may also be found here,—the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, a Pieta, and the Agony in the Garden in the Sala di Perugino, a Crucifixion in the Sala di Botticelli. The Assumption was painted at Vallombrosa late in the year 1500, and is a fine piece of work in Perugino's more mannered style. Above, God the Father, in a glory of cherubim with a worshipping angel on either side, blesses Madonna, who in mid-heaven gazes upward, seated on a cloud, in a mandorla of cherubs, surrounded by four angels playing musical instruments, while two others are at her feet following her in her flight; below, three saints, with St. Michael, stand disconsolate. In the Pieta, painted much earlier, where the dead Christ lies on His Mother's knees, while an angel holds the head of the Prince of Life on his shoulders, and Mary Magdalen weeps at his feet, and two saints, St. John and St. Joseph, perhaps, watch beside Him, there might seem to be little to hold us or to interest us at all; the picture is really without life, just because everything is so unreal, and if we gather any emotion there, it will come to us from the soft sky, full of air and light, that we see through a splendid archway, or from a tiny glimpse of the valley that peeps from behind Madonna's robe. And surely it was in this valley, on a little hill, that, as we may see in another picture here, Christ knelt; yes, in the garden of the world, while the disciples slept, and the angel brought Him the bitter cup. Not far away is Jerusalem, and certain Roman soldiers and the priests; but it is not these dream-like figures that attract us, but the world that remains amid all interior changes still the same, and, for once in his work, those tired men, really wearied out, who sleep so profoundly while Christ prays. In the Crucifixion all the glamour, the religious impression that, in Perugino's work at least, space the infinite heaven of Italy, the largeness of her evening earth, make on one, is wanting, and we find instead a mere insistence upon the subject. The world is dark under the eclipsed sun and moon, and the figures are full of affectation. Painted for the convent of St. Jerome, it was necessary to include that saint and his lion, that strangely pathetic and sentimental beast, so full of embarrassment, that looks at one so wearily from many an old picture in the galleries of the world. If something of that clairvoyance which created his best work is wanting here, it has vanished altogether in that Deposition which Filippino Lippi finished, and instead of a lovely dream of heaven and earth, one finds a laboured picture full of feats of painting, of cleverness, and calculated arrangement. This soft Umbrian world of dreamy landscape, which we find in Perugino's pictures, is like a clearer vision of the land we already descry far off with Fra Angelico, where his angels sing and his saints dance for gladness.

It is a different and a more real life that you see in the work of Fra Lippo Lippi. Realism, it is the very thought of all Florentine work of the fifteenth century. Seven pictures by the Frate have been gathered in this gallery,—the Madonna and Child Enthroned, the St. Jerome in the Desert, a Nativity, a Madonna adoring Her Son, and the great Coronation of the Virgin, the Archangel Gabriel and the Baptist, and a Madonna and St. Anthony.

Here in the Accademia you may see Lucrezia Buti, that pale beauty whom he loved, very fair and full of languor and sweetness. She looks at you out of the crowd of saints and angels gathered round the feet of Madonna, whom God crowns from His throne of jasper. Behind her, looking at her always, Lippo himself comes—iste perfecit opus,—up the steps into that choir where the angels crowned with roses lift the lilies, as they wait in some divine interval to sing again Alleluia. And for this too he should be remembered, for his son was Filippino Lippo and his pupil Sandro Botticelli.

The Accademia possesses some five pictures by Botticelli,—the Coronation of the Virgin and its predella (Nos. 73, 74), the Madonna with saints and angels (No. 85), the Dead Christ (No. 157), the Salome (No. 161), and the Primavera (No. 80). The Coronation is from the Convent of S. Marco, and seems to have been painted after Botticelli had fallen under the strange, unhappy influence of Savonarola; much the same might be said of the Madonna with saints and angels, where his expressiveness, that quality which in him was genius, seems to have fallen almost into a mannerism, a sort of preconceived attitude; and certainly here, where such a perfect thing awaits us, it is rather to the Spring we shall turn at once than to anything less splendid.

The so-called Primavera was painted for Lorenzo de' Medici, and in some vague way seems to have been inspired by Poliziano's verses in praise of Giuliano de' Medici and Bella Simonetta—

"Candida e ella, e Candida la vesta, Ma pur di rose e fior dipinta e d'erba: Lo innanellato crin dell' aurea testa Scende in la fronte umilmente superba. Ridele attorno tutta la foresta, E quanto puo sue cure disacerba. Nell' atto regalmente e mansueta; E pur col ciglio le tempeste acqueta."[119]

Here at last we see the greatest, the most personal artist of the fifteenth century really at his best, in that fortunate moment of half-pensive joy which was so soon to pass away. How far has he wandered, and through what secret forbidden ways, from the simple thoughts of Angelico, the gay worldly laughter of Lippo Lippi. On that strange adventurous journey of the soul he has discovered the modern world, just our way of looking at things, as it were, with a sort of gift for seeing in even the most simple things some new and subtle meaning. And then, in that shadowy and yet so real kingdom in which, not without a certain timidity, he has ventured so far, he has come upon the very gods in exile, and for him Venus is born again from the foam of the sea, and Mars sleeping in a valley will awake to find her beside him, not as of old full of laughter, disdain, and joy; but half reconciled, as it were, to sorrow, to that change which has come upon her so that men now call her Mary, that name in which bitter and sweet are mingled together. With how subtly pensive a mien she comes through the spring woods here in the Primavera, her delicate hand lifted half in protest, half in blessing of that gay and yet thoughtful company,—Flora, her gown full of roses, Spring herself caught in the arms of Aeolus, the Graces dancing a little wistfully together, where Mercurius touches indifferently the unripe fruit with the tip of his caducaeus, and Amor blindfold points his dart, yes almost like a prophecy of death.... What is this scene that rises so strangely before our eyes, that are filled with the paradise of Angelico, the heaven of Lippo Lippi. It is the new heaven, the ancient and beloved earth, filled with spring and peopled with those we have loved, beside whose altars long ago we have hushed our voices. It is the dream of the Renaissance. The names we have given these shadowy beautiful figures are but names, that Grace who looks so longingly and sadly at Hermes is but the loveliest among the lovely, though we call her Simonetta and him Giuliano. Here in the garden of the world is Venus's pleasure-house, and there the gods in exile dream of their holy thrones. Shall we forgive them, and forget that since our hearts are changed they are changed also? They have looked from Olympus upon Calvary; Dionysus, who has borne the youngest lamb on his shoulders, has wandered alone in the wilderness and understood the sorrow of the world; even that lovely, indifferent god has been crucified, and she, Venus Aphrodite, has been born again, not from the salt sea, but in the bitterness of her own tears, the tears of Madonna Mary. It is thus Botticelli, with a rare and personal art, expresses the very thought of his time, of his own heart, which half in love with Pico of Mirandola would reconcile Plato with Moses, and since man's allegiance is divided reconcile the gods. You may discern something, perhaps, of the same thought, but already a little cold, a little indifferent in its appeal, in the Adoration of the Shepherds which Luca Signorelli painted, now in the Uffizi, where the shepherds are fair and naked youths, the very gods of Greece come to worship the Desire of all Nations. But with Botticelli that divine thought is altogether fresh and sincere. It is strange that one so full of the Hellenic spirit should later have fallen under the influence of a man so singularly wanting in temperance or sweetness as Savonarola. One pictures him in his sorrowful old age bending over the Divina Commedia of Dante, continually questioning himself as to that doctrine of the Epicureans, to wit, that the soul dies with the body; at least, one reads that he abandoned all labour at his art, and was like to have died of hunger but for the Medici, who supported him.[120]


[117] Cf. Crowe and Cavalcaselle, History of Painting in Italy, 1903, vol. ii. p. 290.

[118] For a full consideration of these and other works of Perugino, Gentile da Fabriano, and the Umbrian masters, see my Cities of Umbria.

[119] Poliziano, Stanza I, str. 43, 44, 46, 47 68, 72, 85, 94; and Alberti, Opere Volgari, Della Pittura, Lib. III (Firenze, 1847).

[120] Of the work of Verrocchio in this gallery, the Baptism of Christ, in which Leonardo is said, I think mistakenly, to have painted an angel in the left hand kneeling at the feet of Jesus, I speak in the chapter on the Uffizi.



If it is difficult to speak with justice and a sense of proportion of the Accademia delle Belle Arti, how may I hope to succeed with the Uffizi Gallery, where the pictures are infinitely more varied and numerous. It might seem impossible to do more than to give a catalogue of the various works here gathered from royal and ducal collections, from many churches, convents, and monasteries, forming, certainly, with the gallery of the Pitti Palace, the finest collection of the Italian schools of painting in the world. And then in this palace, built for Cosimo I, by Giorgio Vasari, the delightful historian of the Italian painters, you may find not only paintings but a great collection of sculpture also, a magnificent collection of drawings and jewels, together with the Archives, the Biblioteca Nazionale, which includes the Palatine and the Magliabecchian Libraries. It will be best, then, seeing that a whole lifetime were not enough in which to number such treasures, to confine ourselves to a short examination of the sculpture, which is certainly less valuable to us than to our fathers, and to a brief review, hardly more than a personal impression, of the Italian pictures, which are its chiefest treasure.

Of the rooms in which are hung the portraits of painters, those unfortunate self-portraits in which some of the greatest painters have not without agony realised their own ugliness, exhibiting themselves in the pose that they have hoped the world would mistake for the very truth, I say nothing. It is true, the older men, less concerned perhaps at staring the word in the face, are not altogether unfortunate in their self-revelation; but consider the portrait of Lord Leighton by himself,—it must have been painted originally as a signboard for Burlington House, for the summer exhibition of the Academy there, as who should say to a discerning public: Here you may have your fill of the impudent and blatant commonplace you love so much. And if such a thing is really without its fellow in these embarrassing rooms, where Raphael, Leonardo, Titian, and Velasquez are shouted down by some forgotten German, some too well remembered English painter, it is but the perfect essence of the whole collection, as though for once Leighton had really understood what was required of him and had done his marvellous best.

It is on the top floor of this palace of Cosimo I, after passing the busts of the lords and dukes of the Medici family, that one enters the gallery itself, which, running round three sides of a parallelogram, opens into various rooms of all shapes and sizes. It was Francesco I, second Grand Duke of Tuscany, who began to collect here the various works of art which his predecessors had gathered in their villas and palaces. To this collection Cardinal Ferdinando de' Medici, his brother, added, on his succession to the Grand-Dukedom, the treasures he had collected in the villa which he had built in Rome, and which still bears the name of his house. To Cosimo II, it might seem, we owe the covered way from this Palazzo degli Uffizi across Ponte Vecchio to the Palazzo Pitti, while Ferdinand II began the collection of those self-portraits of the painters of which I have spoken. Inheriting, as he did through his wife, Vittoria della Rovere, the treasures of Urbino, he brought them here, while it is to his son, Cosimo III, that we owe the presence of Venus de' Medici, which had been dug up in the gardens of Hadrian's villa, and bought by Ferdinando I when he was Cardinal. Most of the Flemish pictures were brought here by Anna, the sister of Gian Gastone, and daughter of Cosimo III, when she returned a widow to Florence from the North. The house of Lorraine also continued to enrich the gallery, which did not escape Napoleon's generals. They took away many priceless pictures, all of which we were not able to force them to restore, though we spent some L30,000 in the attempt. We were, however, able to send back to Italy the Venus de' Medici, which Napoleon had thought to marry to the Apollo Belvedere.

As may be supposed, the Gallery of the Uffizi, gathered as it has thus been from so many sources, is as various as it is splendid. It is true that it possesses no work by Velasquez, and if we compare it with such collections as those of the National Gallery or the Louvre, we shall find it a little lacking in proportion as a gallery of universal art. It is really as the chief storehouses of Italian painting that we must consider both it and the Pitti Palace. And both for this reason, and because under its director, Signor Corrado Ricci, a new and clearer arrangement of its contents is being carried out, I have thought it better to speak of the pictures in no haphazard fashion, but, as is now becoming easy, under their respective schools, as the Florentine, the Sienese, the Umbrian, the Venetian, thus suggesting an unity which till now has been lacking in the gallery itself.


Florentine painting in the fourteenth century may be seen to best advantage in the churches of Florence and in the Accademia delle Belle Arti, for here in the Uffizi there is nothing from Giotto's or Orcagna's hand, though the work of their schools is plentiful. In the first long gallery, among certain Sienese pictures of which I speak elsewhere, you may find these works; and there, too, like antique jewels slumbering in the accustomed sunlight, you come upon the tabernacles and altar-pieces of Don Lorenzo Monaco, monk of the Angeli of Florence, as Vasari calls him, the pupil of Agnolo Gaddi, who has most loved the work of the Sienese. Lorenzo was of the Order of Camaldoli, and belonged to the monastery of the Angeli, which was founded in 1295 by Fra Guittone d'Arezzo, himself of the Military Order of the Virgin Mother of Jesus, whose monks were called Frati Gaudenti, the Joyous Brothers. Born about 1370, seventeen years before Angelico, and dying in 1425, his works, full of an ideal beauty that belongs to some holy place, are altogether lost in the corridors of a gallery. Those works of his, the Virgin and St. John, both kneeling and holding the body of our Lord (40), dated 1404; the Adoration of the Magi (39), or the triptych (41), where Madonna is in the midst with her little Son standing in her lap, while two angels stand in adoration, and St. John Baptist and St. Bartholemew, St. Thaddeus and St. Benedict, wait on either side, was painted in 1410, and was brought here from the subterranean crypt of S. Maria of Monte Oliveto, not far away. Another triptych (1309), the Coronation of the Virgin, in the Sala di Lorenzo Monaco, is perhaps his masterpiece. In the midst is the Coronation of our Lady, surrounded by a glory of angels, while on either side stand ten saints, and on the frames are angels, cherubs, saints, and martyrs, scattered like flowers. Painted in 1413 for the high altar of the Monastery of the Angels, it was lost on the suppression of the Order, and only found about 1830 at the Badia di S. Pietro at Cerreto, in Val d'Elsa. Though it has doubtless suffered from repainting, for we read of a restoration in 1866, it remains, lovely and exquisite beyond any other work of the master.

Fra Angelico may well have been the pupil of Lorenzo Monaco. Here in the Uffizi are two of his works, the great Tabernacle (17), with its predella (1294), and the great Coronation of the Virgin (1290), with its predelle (1162 and 1178). The Tabernacle was painted in 1433 for the Arte de' Linaioli, which paid a hundred and ninety gold florins for it. It is an early work, but such an one as in Florence at any rate, only Fra Angelico could have achieved. Within the doors is the Virgin herself, with Christ standing on her knee between two saints, surrounded by twelve angels of heavenly beauty playing on various instruments of music In the doors themselves are St. John Baptist and St. Mark while outside are St. Peter and St. Jerome. In the predella St. Peter preaches at Rome, St. Mark writes his Gospel, the Kings come to adore Jesus in Bethlehem, and St. Mark is martyred. The whole is like some marvellous introit for St. Mark's day, in which the name of Mary has passed by.

The Coronation of the Virgin (1290) is like a litany of the saints and of the Virgin herself, chanted in antiphon, ending in the simpler splendour of Magnificat, sung to some Gregorian tone full of gold, of faint blues as of a far-away sky, of pale rose-colours as of roses fading on an altar in the sunlight, and the candles of white are more spotless than the lily is. Amidst a glory of angels, the piping voices of children, she in whose name all the flowers are hidden is crowned Queen of Angels by the Prince of Life. This marvellous dead picture lived once in S. Maria Nuova; its predelle have been torn away from it, but may be found here, nevertheless, in the Birth of St. John Baptist (1162) and the Spozalizio (1178).

It is to a painter less mystical, but not less visionary, that we come in the work of Paolo Uccello, the great "Battle" (52), of which two variants exist, one in the Louvre, the other, the most beautiful of the three, in the National Gallery. It is, as some have thought, a picture of the Battle of S. Egidio, where Braccio da Montone made Carlo Malatesta and his nephew Galeotto prisoners in 1416. Splendid as it is, something has been lost to us by restoration. Paola Uccello, the friend of Donatello and of Brunellesco, was all his life devoted to the study of perspective. Many marvellous drawings in which he traced that baffling vista, of which he was wont to exclaim when, labouring far into the night, his wife poor soul, would entreat him to take rest and sleep: "Ah, what a delightful thing is this perspective." And then, much beautiful work of his has perished. It was on this art he staked his life. "What have you there that you are shutting up so close?" Donatello said to him one day when he found him alone at work on the Christ and St. Thomas, which he had been commissioned to paint over the door of the church dedicated to that saint in the Mercato Vecchio. "Thou shalt see it some day,—let that suffice thee," Uccello answered. "And it chanced," says Vasari, "that Donato was in the Mercato Vecchio buying fruit one morning when he saw Paolo Uccello, who was uncovering his picture." Saluting him courteously, therefore, his opinion was instantly demanded by Paolo, who was anxiously curious to know what he would say of the work. But when Donato had examined it very minutely, he turned to Paolo and said: "Why, Paolo, thou art uncovering thy picture just at the very time when thou shouldst be shutting it up from the sight of all." These words wounded Paolo so grievously that he would no more leave his house, but shut himself up, devoting himself only the more to the study of perspective, which kept him in poverty and depression to the day of his death.

Paolo had been influenced, it is said, by Domenico Veneziano, who in his turn was influenced by the work of Masolino and Masaccio. Nothing is known of the birthplace of this painter, who appears first at Perugia, and was the master of Piero della Francesca. His work is very rare; in Florence there are two heads of saints in the Pitti, and Mr. Berenson speaks of a fresco of the Baptist and St. Francis in S. Croce. Here in the Uffizi, however, we have a Madonna and four Saints (1305) from his hand, formerly in the Church of S. Lucia de' Magnoli in the Via de' Bardi. It is a very splendid work, and certainly his masterpiece; something of Piero della Francesca's later work may perhaps be discerned there, in a certain force and energy, a sort of dry sweetness in the faint colouring that he seems to have loved. The Virgin is enthroned, and in her lap she holds our Lord; on the left stands St. John Baptist and S. Francis, on the right St. Nicholas and S. Lucia.

In the only work by Filippo Lippi in the Uffizi, the beautiful Madonna and Child (1307) that has been so much beloved, we come again to a painter who has been influenced by Masaccio, and thought at least to understand and perhaps transform the work of Lorenzo Monaco and Fra Angelico It is once more in the work of his pupil, Botticelli, that we find some of the chief treasures of the gallery. There are some nine works here by Sandro,—the Birth of Venus (39), the Madonna of the Magnificat (1269 bis), the Madonna of the Pomegranate (1269), the Judith and Holofernes (1158), the Calumny (1182), the Adoration of the Magi (1286), and a Madonna and Child, a Portrait of Piero de' Medici (1154), and St. Augustine (1179).

Painted for Pierfrancesco de' Medici, the Birth of Venus is perhaps the most beautiful, the most expressive, and the most human picture of the Quattrocento. She is younger than the roses which the south-west wind fling at her feet, the roses of earth to the Rose of the sea. Not yet has the Shepherd of Ida praised her, nor Adon refused the honey of her throat; not yet has Psyche stolen away her joy, nor Mars rolled her on a soldier's couch amid the spears and bucklers; for now she is but a maid, and she cometh in the dawn to her kingdom dreaming over the sea. If we compare her for a moment with the Madonna of the Magnificat, with the Mary of the Pomegranate, she seems to us more virgin than the Virgin herself; less troubled by a love in which all the sorrow and desire of the world have found expression, less weary of the prayers that will be hers no less than Mary's. How wearily and with what sadness Madonna writes Magnificat, or dreams of the love that even now is come into her arms! Is it that, as Pater has thought, the honour is too great for her, that she would have preferred a humbler destiny, the joy of any other mother of Israel? Who is she, this woman of divine and troubling beauty that masquerades as Venus, and with Christ in her arms is so sad and unhappy. Tradition tells us that he was Simonetta, the mistress of Giuliano de' Medici, who, dying still in her youth, was borne through Florence with uncovered face to her grave under the cypresses. Whoever she may be, she haunts all the work of Botticelli, who, it might seem, loved her as one who had studied Dante, and, one of the company of the Platonists of Lorenzo's court, might well love a woman altogether remote from him. As Venus she is a maid about to step for the first time upon the shores of Cypris, and her eyes are like violets, wet with dew that have not looked on the sun; her bright locks heavy with gold her maid has caught about her, and the pale anemones have kissed her breasts, and the scarlet weeds have kissed her on the mouth. As Mary, her destiny is too great for her, and her lips tremble under the beauty of the words she is about to utter; the mystical veils about her head have blinded her, her eyelids have fallen over her eyes, and in her heart she seems to be weeping. But it is another woman not less mysterious who, as Judith, trips homeward so lightly in the morning after the terrible night, her dreadful burden on her head and in her soul some too brutal accusation. Again you may see her as Madonna in a picture brought here from S. Maria Nuova, where she would let Love fall, she is so weary, but that an angel's arm enfolds Him.

In the Calumny you see a picture painted from the description Alberti had given in his treatise on painting of the work of Apelles. "There was in this picture," says Alberti, "a man with very large ears, and beside him stood two women; one was called Ignorance, the other Superstition. Towards him came Calumny. This was a woman very beautiful to look upon, but with a double countenance (ma parea nel viso troppo astuta). She held in her right hand a lighted torch, and with the other hand she dragged by the hair a young man (uno garzonotto), who lifted his hands towards heaven. There was also a man, pale, brutto, and gross, ... he was guide to Calumny, and was called Envy. Two other women accompanied Calumny, and arranged her hair and her ornaments, and one was Perfidy and the other Fraud. Behind them came Penitence, a woman dressed in mourning, all ragged. She was followed by a girl, modest and sensitive, called Truth."[121]

The Birth of Venus was the first study of the nude that any painter had dared to paint; but profound as is its significance, Florentine painting was moving forward by means less personal than the genius, the great personal art of Botticelli. Here in the Uffizi you may see an Annunciation (56) of Baldovinetti (1427-99), in which something of that strangeness and beauty of landscape which owed much to Angelico, and more perhaps in its contrivance to Paolo Uccello, was to come to such splendour in the work of Verrocchio and Leonardo. Baldovinetti's pupil, Piero Pollaiuoli (1443-96), the younger brother of Antonio (1429-98), whose work in sculpture is so full of life, was, with his brother's help and guidance, giving to painting some of the power and reality of movement which we look for in vain till his time. In a picture of St. James, with St. Vincent and St. Eustace on either side (1301), you may see Piero's work, the fine, rather powerful than beautiful people he loved. It is, however, in the work of one whom he influenced, Andrea Verrocchio, the pupil of Donatello and Baldovinetti, that, as it seems to me, what was best worth having in his work comes to its own, expressed with a real genius that is always passionate and really expressive. The Baptism in the Accademia, a beautiful but not very charming work, perhaps of his old age, received, Vasari tells us, some touches from the brush of Leonardo, and for long the Annunciation of the Uffizi (1286) passed as Leonardo's work. Repainted though it is, in almost every part (the angel's wings retain something of their original brightness), this Annunciation remains one of the loveliest pictures in the gallery, full of the eagerness and ardour of Verrocchio. In a garden at sunset, behind the curiously trimmed cypresses under a portico of marble, Madonna sits at her prie dieu, a marvellously carved sarcophagus of marble, while before her Gabriel kneels, holding the lilies, lifting his right hand in blessing. The picture comes from the Church of Monte Oliveto, not far away.

Verrocchio was the master of Lorenzo di Credi and of Leonardo, while, as it is said, Perugino passed through his bottega. There are many works here given to Lorenzo, who seems to have been a better painter than he was a sculptor: the Madonna and Child (24), the Annunciation (1160), the Noli me Tangere (1311), and above all, the Venus (3452), are beautiful, but less living than one might expect from the pupil of Verrocchio. Verrocchio's true pupil, if we may call him a pupil of any master at all who was an universal genius, wayward and altogether personal in everything he did, was Leonardo da Vinci. Of Leonardo's rare work (Mr. Berenson finds but nine paintings that may pass as his in all Europe) there is but one example in the Uffizi, and that is unfinished. It is the Adoration of the Magi (1252), scarcely more than a shadow, begun in 1478. Leonardo was a wanderer all his life, an engineer, a musician, a sculptor, an architect, a mathematician, as well as a painter. This Adoration is the only work of his left in Tuscany, and there are but three other paintings from his hand in all Italy. Of these, the fresco of the Last Supper, at Milan, has been restored eight times, and is about to suffer another repainting; while of the two pictures in Rome, the St. Jerome of the Vatican is unfinished, and the Profile of a Girl, in the possession of Donna Laura Minghetti, is "not quite finished" either, Mr. Berenson tells us. It is to the Louvre that we must go to see Leonardo's work as a painter.

Tuscan painting at its best, its most expressive, in the work of Botticelli, fails to convince us of sincerity in the work of his pupil Filippino Lippi, the son of Fra Filippo. Of all his pictures here in the Uffizi, the two frescoes—the portrait of himself (286), the portrait of an old man (1167), the Adoration of the Magi (1217), painted in 1496, the Madonna and Saints (1268), painted in 1485, it is rather the little picture of Madonna adoring her Son (1549) that I prefer, for a certain sweetness and beauty of colour, before any of his more ambitious works. Ghirlandajo too, that sweet and serene master, is not so lovely here as in the Adoration of the Shepherds at the Accademia. In his so-called Portrait of Perugino (1163),[122] the Adoration of the Magi (1295), and the Madonna and Child with Saints and Angels (1297), his work seems to lack sincerity, in all but the first, at any rate, to be the facile work of one not sufficiently convinced of the necessity for just that without which there is no profound beauty.

But the age was full of misfortune; it was necessary, perhaps, to pretend a happiness one did not feel. Certainly in the strangely fantastic work of Pier di Cosimo, the Rescue of Andromeda (1312), for instance, there is nothing of the touching sincerity and beauty of his Death of Procris, now in the National Gallery, which remains his one splendid work. His pupil Fra Bartolommeo, who was later so unfortunately influenced by Michelangelo, may be seen here at his best in a small diptych (1161); in his early manner, his Isaiah (1126) and Job (1130), we see mere studies in drapery and anatomy. His most characteristic work is, however, in the Pitti Gallery, where we shall consider it.

Much the same might be said of his partner Albertinelli, and his friend Andrea del Sarto, whom again we shall consider later in the Pitti Palace. It will be sufficient here to point out his beautiful early Noli me Tangere (93), The Portrait of his Wife (188), the Portrait of Himself (280), the Portrait of a Lady, with a Petrarch in her hands (1230), and the Madonna dell' Arpie (1112), that statuesque and too grandiose failure that is so near to success.

Michelangelo, that Roman painter—for out of Rome there are but two of his works, and one of these, the Deposition in the National Gallery, is unfinished—has here in the Uffizi a very splendid Holy Family (1139), splendid perhaps rather than beautiful, where in the background we may see the graceful nude figures which Luca Signorelli had taught him to paint there. Luca Signorelli, born in Cortona, the pupil of Piero della Francesca, passes as an Umbrian painter, and indeed his best work may be found there. But he was much influenced by Antonio Pollaiuolo, and is altogether out of sympathy with the mystical art of Umbria. Here in the Uffizi are two of his early works, the Holy Family (1291) and a Madonna and Child (74), where, behind the Virgin holding her divine Son in her lap, you may see four naked shepherds, really the first of their race. This picture was painted for Lorenzo de' Medici, and doubtless influenced Michelangelo when he painted his Holy Family for Messer Angelo Doni, who haggled so badly over his bargain.

It is really the decadence, certainly prophesied in the later work of Andrea del Sarto, that we come to in the work of that pupil of his, who was influenced by what he could understand of the work of Michelangelo. Jacopo Pontormo's work almost fails to interest us to-day save in his portraits. The Cosimo I (1270), the Cosimo dei Medici (1267), painted from some older portrait, the Portrait of a Man (1220), have a certain splendour, that we find more attenuated but still living in the work of his pupil Bronzino, who also failed to understand Michelangelo. Fine though his portraits are, his various insincere and badly coloured compositions merely serve to show how low the taste of the time—the time of the end of the Republic—had fallen.

Thus we have followed very cursorily, but with a certain faithfulness nevertheless, the course of Florentine Art. With the other schools of Italy we shall deal more shortly.


It is as a divine decoration that Sienese art comes to us in the profound and splendid work of Duccio di Buoninsegna, the delicate and lovely work of Simone Martini, the patient work of the Lorenzetti. The masterpiece, perhaps, of Duccio is the great Rucellai Madonna of S. Maria Novella. There is none of his work in the Uffizi; but one of the most beautiful paintings in the world, the Annunciation of Simone Martini (23), from the Church of S. Ansano in Castelvecchio, is in the first Long Gallery here. On a gold ground under three beautiful arches, in the midst of which the Dove hovers amid the Cherubim, Gabriel whispers to the Virgin the mysterious words of Annunciation. In his hand is a branch of olive, and on his brow an olive crown. Madonna, a little overwhelmed by the marvel of these tidings, draws back, pale in her beauty, the half-closed book of prayer in her hands, catching her robe about her; between them is a vase of campanulas still and sweet. Who may describe the colour and the delicate glory of this work? The hand of man can do no more; it is the most beautiful of all religious paintings, subtle and full of grace. Simone was the greatest follower of Duccio. Born in 1284, in 1324 he married Vanna di Memmo, and his brother, Lippo Memmi, sometimes assisted him in his work. Lippo's hand cannot be discerned in the Annunciation—none but Simone himself could have achieved it; but the two saints, who stand one on either side, are his work, as well as the four little figures in the frame.

Of the other early Sienese painters, only Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti are represented in the Uffizi. The first, by a Madonna (15) and a Thebaid; the second (16), in the two predella pictures for the altar-piece of S. Procolo, Sassetta, the best of the Sienese Quattrocento painters, is absent, and Vecchietta is only represented by a predella picture (47); it is not till we came to Sodoma, whose famous St. Sebastian (1279) suggests altogether another kind of art, a sensuous and sometimes an almost hysterical sort of ecstasy, as in the Swooning Virgin or the Swoon of St. Catherine at Siena, that we find Sienese painting again.


Influenced in the beginning by the Sienese, the Umbrian school of painting remained almost entirely religious. The Renaissance passed it by as in a dream, and although in the work of Perugino you find a wonderful and original painter, a painter of landscape too, it is rather in the earlier men, Ottaviano Nelli, whose beautiful work at Gubbio is like a sunshine on the wall of S. Maria Nuova; Gentile da Fabriano, whose Adoration of the Magi is one of the treasures of the Accademia delle Belle Arti; of Niccolo da Foligno, and of Bonfigli whose flower-like pictures are for the most part in the Pinacoteca at Perugia, than in Perugino, or Pinturicchio, or Raphael, that you come upon the most characteristic work of the school.

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