INTARSIA AND MARQUETRY
OTHER VOLUMES OF THE SERIES
By the same Author
Mural Painting—the Decoration of the Wall Surface by means of Paint
Mosaic and Marble Inlay for Floor, Wall, and Vault
HANDBOOKS FOR THE DESIGNER AND CRAFTSMAN
INTARSIA AND MARQUETRY
F. HAMILTON JACKSON
EXAMINER TO THE BOARD OF EDUCATION IN PRINCIPLES OF ORNAMENT
With Illustrations from Photographs and from Drawings and Tracings by the Author
LONDON SANDS & COMPANY 1903
PRINTED BY WILLIAM HODGE AND COMPANY GLASGOW AND EDINBURGH
HISTORICAL NOTES—ANTIQUITY, 1
ITALY IN MEDIAEVAL AND RENAISSANCE TIMES, 8
THE CLOISTERED INTARSIATORI AND THEIR PUPILS, 55
IN GERMANY AND HOLLAND, ENGLAND AND FRANCE, 84
THE PROCESS OF MANUFACTURE, 104
THE LIMITATIONS AND CAPABILITIES OF THE ART, 118
WORKSHOP RECEIPTS, 133
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
1. Patterns used in Borders, facing page 8
2. Various Patterns of Borders, " 9
3. Chair Back from S. Ambrogio, Milan, " 10
4. Door of the Sala del Papa, Palazzo Comunale, Siena, " 13
5. The Prophet Amos. Figure intarsia from the } Sacristy of the Cathedral, Florence, } 6. The Annunciation. Figure intarsia from the } between pages Sacristy of the Cathedral, Florence, } 18 and 19 7. The Prophet Hosea. Figure intarsia from the } Sacristy of the Cathedral, Florence, }
8. The Nativity. Figure intarsia from the Sacristy of the Cathedral, Florence, facing page 20
9. The Presentation in the Temple. Figure Intarsia from the Sacristy of the Cathedral, Florence, " 21
10. Panel from Sacristy of S. Croce, Florence, " 23
11. Detail of Frieze from the Sacristy of S. Croce, Florence, " 24
12. Lower Seats of Choir, Cathedral, Perugia, " 25
13. Upper Seats of Choir, Cathedral, Perugia, " 26
14. One Panel, from Upper Series, Cathedral, Perugia, " 27
15. Two Panels from the Sala del Cambio, Perugia, " 28
16. Frieze from S. Mark's, Venice, " 30
17. Frieze from S. Mark's, Venice, " 32
18. Stalls from the Cathedral, Lucca, " 33
19. Lectern in Pinacoteca, Lucca, " 34
20. Two-leaved Door in the Pinacoteca, Lucca, " 35
21. Stalls at the Certosa, Pavia, " 36
22. Detail of Arabesques, lower Seats, Certosa, Pavia, " 37
23. Panel from S. Petronio, Bologna, " 38
24. Panel from S. Petronio, Bologna, " 39
25. Panel from S. Miniato, Florence, " 40
26. Panel from S. Maria Novella, Florence, " 42
27. Panel from S. Maria Novella, Florence, " 44
28. Panel in Sacristy of S. Pietro in Casinense, Perugia, " 46
29. Panel from Door of Sala del Cambio, Perugia, " 48
30. Panel from lower row of Stalls, S. Maria in Organo, Verona, " 59
31. Panels from Monte Oliveto Maggiore, now in the Cathedral, Siena, " 60
32. Frieze from Monte Oliveto Maggiore, " 62
33. Panel from S. Mark's, Venice, " 68
34. Panel from Door in Choir of S. Pietro in Casinense, Perugia, " 74
35. Lunette from Stalls in Cathedral, Genoa, " 77
36. Panel from lower row of Stalls, Cathedral, Savona, " 78
37. Panel from the Ducal Palace, Mantua, " 80
38. Panel from the Rathaus, Breslau, 1563, " 84
39. Panel from Church of S. Mary Magdalene, Breslau, " 86
40. Pilaster Strip from the Magdalene Church, Breslau, " 87
41. Panel from S. Elizabeth's Church, Breslau, " 88
42. Lower Panel of Door, 1564—Tyrolese, " 90
43. Top of Card Table in the Drawing-room, Roehampton House; Dutch, 18th Century, " 92
44. Panelling from Sizergh Castle, now in Victoria and Albert Museum, " 93
45. Cabinet with falling front, in the Drawingroom, Roehampton House, " 94
46. Cabinet belonging to Earl Granville. Boulle work of about 1740, " 96
47. Top of Writing Table in the Saloon, Roehampton House. Period of Louis XV., " 97
48. Encoignure, signed J. F. Oeben, in the Jones Bequest. Victoria and Albert Museum, " 98
49. Panel from back of Riesener's bureau, made for Stanislas Leczinski, with figure of Secrecy, " 100
50. Roundel from bureau, made for Stanislas Leczinski, King of Poland, now in the Wallace Collection, " 102
51. Antonio Barili at work, by himself, " 104
52. Panel from the Victoria and Albert Museum, " 106
53. Panel from S. Maria in Organo, Verona, " 122
54. Panel from S. Maria in Organo, Verona, " 126
55. Panel from S. Pietro in Casinense, Perugia, " 130
GENERAL PREFACE TO THE SERIES
If there is one quality which more than another marks the demand of the present day it is the requirement of novelty. In every direction the question which is asked is not, "Is this fresh thing good? Is it appropriate to, and well-fitted for, its intended uses?" but "Is it novel?" And the constant change of fashion sets a premium upon the satisfaction of this demand and enlists the commercial instinct on the side of perpetual change. While there are directions in which this desire is not altogether harmful, since at least many monstrosities offend our eyes but for a short time, a full compliance with it by the designer is likely to prove disastrous to his reputation, and recent phases in which an attempt has been made to throw aside as effete and outworn the forms which have gradually grown with the centuries, and to produce something entirely fresh and individual, have shown how impossible it is at this period of the world's history to dispense with tradition, and, escaping from the accumulated experience of the race, set forth with childlike naivete. Careful study of these experiments discloses the fact that in as far as they are successful in proportion and line they approach the successes of previous generations, and that the undigested use of natural motifs results not in nourishment but in nightmare.
The object aimed at by this series of handbooks is the recall of the designer and craftsman to a saner view of what constitutes originality by setting before them something of the experience of past times, when craft tradition was still living and the designer had a closer contact with the material in which his design was carried out than is usual at present. Since both design and craftsmanship as known until the end of the 18th century were the outcome of centuries of experience of the use of material and of the endeavour to meet daily requirements, it may be justly called folly to cast all this aside as the fripperies of bygone fashion which cramp the efforts of the designer, and attempt to start afresh without a rag of clothing, even if it were possible. At the same time it is not intended to advocate the direct copyism of any style, whether regarded as good, bad, or indifferent. Some minds find inspiration in the contemplation of natural objects, while others find the same stimulus in the works of man. The fashion of present opinion lays great stress upon the former source of inspiration, and considers the latter heretical, while, with a strange inconsistency, acclaiming a form of design based upon unnatural contortions of growth, and a treatment which is often alien to the material. It is the hope of the author to assist the second class of mind to the rivalling of the ancient glories of design and craftsmanship, and perhaps even to convert some of those whose talents are at present wasted in the chase of the will-o'-the-wisp of fancied novelty and individuality. Much of what appears to the uneducated and ill-informed talent as new is really but the re-discovery of motifs which have been tried and abandoned by bygone masters as unsuitable, and a greater acquaintance with their triumphs is likely, one would hope, to lead students, whether designers or craftsmen, to view with disgust undigested designs indifferently executed which have little but a fancied novelty to recommend them.
It is intended that each volume shall contain an historical sketch of the phase of design and craft treated of, with examples of the successful overcoming of the difficulties to be encountered in its practice, workshop recipes, and the modes of producing the effects required, with a chapter upon the limitations imposed by the material and the various modes of evading those limitations adopted by those who have not frankly accepted them.
The subject treated of in this handbook has, until lately, received scant attention in England; and except for short notices of a general nature contained in such books as Waring's "Arts Connected with Architecture," technical descriptions, such as those in Holtzapffel's "Turning and Mechanical Manipulation," and a few fugitive papers, has not been treated in the English language. On the Continent it has, however, been the subject of considerable research, and in Italy, Germany, and France books have been published which either include it as part of the larger subject of furniture, or treat in considerable detail instances of specially-important undertakings. From these various sources I have endeavoured to gather as much information as possible without too wearying an insistence upon unimportant details, and now present the results of my selection for the consideration of that part of the public which is interested in the handicrafts which merge into art, and especially for the designer and craftsman, whose business it is or may be to produce such works in harmonious co-operation in the present day, as they often did in days gone by, and, it may be hoped, with a success akin to that attained in those periods to which we look back as the golden age of art.
The books from which I have drawn my information are principally the following:—
In Italian—Borghese and Banchi's "Nuovi documenti per la storia dell' Arte Senese"; Brandolese's "Pitture, sculture, &c., di Padova"; Caffi's "Dei lavori d'intaglio in legname e d'intarsia nel Cattedrale di Ferrara"; Calvi's "Dei professori de belle arti che fiorirono in Milano ai tempi dei Visconti, &c."; Saba Castiglione's "Ricordi"; Erculei's paper in his "Catalogue of the Exhibition of works of carving and inlay held at Rome in 1885"; Finocchietti's "Report on carving and inlaid work in the Jurors' report on the Exhibition of 1867 in Paris"; Lanzi's "History of Painting in Italy"; Locatelli's "Iconografia Italiana"; Marchese's "Lives of Dominican Artists"; Milanesi's "Documenti per la Storia dell' Arte Senese"; Morelli's "Notizie d'opere di disegno nella prima meta dell' Secolo XVI."; Tassi's "Vite di pittori, architetti, &c., Bergamaschi"; Temanza's "Vite dei piu celebri architetti, &c., Dominicani"; Tiraboschi's "Biblioteca Modenese"; Della Valle's "Lettere Senesi sopra le belle Arti"; Vasari's "Lives," with Milanesi's notes and corrections, and papers in the "Bullettino di Arti, Industrie e Curiosita Veneziane," the "Atti e memorie della Societa Savonese," the "Archivio Storico dell' Arte and its continuation as L'Arte," and the "Archivio Storico Lombardo," by such men as Michele Caffi, G. M. Urb, Ottavio Varaldo, Francesco Malaguzzi Valeri and L. T. Belgrano.
In German—Becker and Hefner Alteneck's "Kunstwerke and Geraeths Schaften des Mittelalters und der Renaissance"; Bucher's "Geschichte der Technischen Kunst"; Burckhardt's "Additions to Kugler's Geschichte der Baukunst, and Geschichte der Renaissance in Italien"; Demmin's "Studien ueber die Stofflich-bildenden Kuenste"; Von Falke's "Geschichte des deutsches Kunstgewerbes"; Scherer's "Technik und Geschichte der Intarsia"; Schmidt's "Schloss Gottorp"; Seeman's "Kunstgewerbliche Handbuecher"; Teirich's "Ornamente aus der Bluethezeit italienischer Renaissance," and articles in "Blaetter fuer Kunstgewerbe," and the "Kunstgewerbeblatt of the Zeitschrift fuer bildende Kunst," by such men as Teirich, Issel and Ilg.
In French—Asselineau's "A. Boulle, ebeniste de Louis 14"; Burckhardt's "Le Cicerone"; Champeaux's "Le bois appliquee au mobilier," and "Le meuble"; Demmin's "Encyclopedie historique, archeologique, &c."; Luchet's "L'Arte industriel a l'Exposition Universelle de 1867," and other encyclopaedias.
In English—"The handmaid to the arts"; Holtzapffel's "Turning and mechanical manipulation"; Pollen's paper on "Furniture in the Kensington Catalogue of Ancient and Modern furniture"; Leader Scott's "The Cathedral builders"; Tomlinson's "Cyclopaedia of Useful Arts"; Waring's "The Arts connected with architecture"; and Digby Wyatt's "Industrial Arts of the 19th Century," together with detached articles found in various publications.
Those who desire further examples of arabesque patterns may find them in Issel's "Wandtaefelungen und Holzdecken"; Lacher's "Mustergueltige holzintarsien der Deutschen Renaissance aus dem 16 und 17 Jahrhundert"; Lachner's "Geschichte der Holzbaukunst in Deutschland"; Lichtwark's "Der ornamentstich der deutschen Fruehrenaissance"; Meurer's "Italienische Flachornamente aus der Zeit der Renaissance"; Teirich's "Ornamente aus der Bluethezeit italienischer Renaissance," and Rhenius "Eingelegte Holzornamente der Renaissance in Schlesien von 1550-1650."
I have thought it better to run the risk of incompleteness than to overload the text with the mere names of indifferent designers and craftsmen about whom and whose work scarcely anything is known, believing that my object would be attained more surely by pointing to the work and lives of those about whose capacity there can be no question.
My thanks are due to the officials of the British Museum Library and of the Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum for the great assistance which they have given me in many ways, the facilities afforded me, and their unfailing kindness and courtesy; and to the Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum for similar kindness and assistance.
I have also to thank my friend Mr. C. Bessant, whose experience in all kinds of cabinet work is so great, for very kindly looking over the section dealing with the processes of manufacture.
F. HAMILTON JACKSON.
INTARSIA AND MARQUETRY
The word "intarsia" is derived from the Latin "interserere," to insert, according to the best Italian authorities, though Scherer says there was a similar word, "Tausia," which was applied to the inlaying of gold and silver in some other metal, an art practised in Damascus, and thence called damascening; and that at first the two words meant the same thing, but after a time one was applied to work in wood and the other to metal work. In the "Museo Borbonico," xii., p. 4, xv., p. 6, the word "Tausia" is said to be of Arabic origin, and there is no doubt that the art is Oriental. It perhaps reached Europe either by way of Sicily or through the Spanish Moors. "Marquetry," on the other hand, is a word of much later origin, and comes from the French "marqueter," to spot, to mark; it seems, therefore, accurate to apply the former term to those inlays of wood in which a space is first sunk in the solid to be afterwards filled with a piece of wood (or sometimes some other material) cut to fit it, and to use the latter for the more modern practice of cutting several sheets of differently-coloured thin wood placed together to the same design, so that by one cutting eight or ten copies of different colours may be produced which will fit into each other, and only require subsequent arranging and glueing, as well as for the more artistic effects of the marquetry of the 17th and 18th centuries, which were produced with similar veneers. The process of inlaying is of the most remote antiquity, and the student may see in the cases of the British Museum, at the Louvre, and in other museums, examples of both Assyrian and Egyptian inlaid patterns of metal and ivory, or ebony or vitreous pastes, upon both wood and ivory, dating from the 8th and 10th centuries before the Christian Era, or earlier. The Greeks and Romans also made use of it for costly furniture and ornamental sculpture; in Book 23 of the "Odyssey," Ulysses, describing to Penelope the bride-bed which he had made, says—"Beginning from this head-post, I wrought at the bedstead till I had finished it, and made it fair with inlaid work of gold, and of silver, and of ivory"; the statue and throne of Jupiter at Olympia had ivory, ebony, and many other materials used in its construction, and the chests in which clothes were kept, mentioned by Homer, were some of them ornamented with inlaid work in the precious metals and ivory. Pausanias describes the box of Kypselos, in the opisthodomos of the Temple of Hera, at Olympia, as elliptical in shape, made of cedar wood and adorned with mythological representations, partly carved in wood and partly inlaid with gold and ivory, in five strips which encircled the whole box, one above another. The Greek words for inlaying used by Homer and Pindar are "[Greek: daidallo]" and "[Greek: kollao]," and their derivatives, the first being also used for embroidering; Homer and Hesiod also use "[Greek: poikilos]" for "inlaid," which shows how closely at that time the arts were interwoven. These words have left no trace in the later terms, though [Greek: kollao] means to fix together, or to glue, and it is tempting to connect the French word "coller" with it. Vitruvius and Pliny use the words "cerostrata" or "celostrata," which means, strictly speaking, "inlaid with horn," and "xilostraton." The woods used by the Greeks were ebony, cypress, cedar, oak, "sinila," yew, willow, lotus (celtis australis), and citron (thuyia cypressoides), a tree which grew on the slopes of the Atlas mountains. The value of large slabs of this last was enormous. Pliny says that Cicero, who was not very wealthy according to Roman notions, spent 500,000 sesterces (about L5400) for one table. Asinius Pollio spent L10,800, King Juba L13,050, and the family of the Cethegi L15,150 for a single slab. The value of this wood consisted chiefly in the beautiful lines of the veins and fibres; when they ran in wavy lines they were called "tigrinae," tiger tables; when they formed spirals like so many little whirlpools they were called "pantherinae," or panther tables, and when they had undulating, wavy marks like the filaments of a feather, especially if resembling the eyes on a peacock's tail, they were very highly esteemed. Next in value were those covered with dense masses of grain, called "apiatae," parsley wood. But the colour of the wood was also a great factor in the value, that of wine mixed with honey being most highly prized. The defect in that kind of table was called "lignum," which denoted a dull, log colour, with stains and flaws and an indistinctly patterned grain. Pliny says the barbarous tribes buried the wood in the ground when green, giving it first a coating of wax. When it came into the workmen's hands they put it for a certain number of days under a heap of corn, by which it lost weight. Sea water was supposed to harden it and act as a preservative, and after bathing it, it was carefully polished by rubbing by hand. The use of such valuable wood naturally led to the use of veneers, and the practice was universal in costly furniture. The word "xilotarsia" was used by the Romans to designate a kind of mosaic of wood used for furniture decoration. Its etymology suggests that the Greeks were then masters in the art. They divided works in tarsia into two classes—"sectile," in which fragments of wood or other material were inserted in a surface of wood, and "pictorial," in which the various pieces of wood covered the ground entirely. The slices of wood, "sectiles laminae," were laid down with glue, as in modern work. Wild and cultivated olive, box, ebony (Corsican especially), ilex, and beech were used for veneering boxes, desks, and small work. Besides these the Romans used the citrus, Syrian terebinth, maple, palm (cut transversely), holly, root of the elder, and poplar; the centres of the trees being most prized for colour and markings. [See note giving extracts from Pliny.]
A few notes on the exceptional scantlings of timber in antiquity may be interesting, though not strictly belonging to our subject. A stick of fir prepared to repair a bridge over the Naumachia in the time of Nero was left unused for some time to satisfy public curiosity. It measured 120 feet by 2 feet the entire length. The mast of the vessel which brought the large obelisk from Egypt, afterwards set up in the Circus Maximus, and now in front of S. John Lateran, was 100 feet by 1-1/2 feet, and the tree out of which it was cut required four men, holding hands, to surround it. A stick of cedar, cut in Cyprus and used as the mast of an undecireme, or 11 banked galley of Demetrius, took three men to span the tree out of which it was cut. It was the exceptional sizes of such pieces of timber, and veneers cut from them, which made the value of tables in Rome.
 Pliny, Book 16, Chap. 83—"Glue, too, plays one of the principal parts in all veneering and works of marquetry. For this purpose the workmen usually employ wood with a threaded vein, to which they give the name of 'ferulea,' from its resemblance to the grain of the giant fennel, this part of the wood being preferred from its being dotted and wavy." Chap. 84—"The wood, too, of the beech is easily worked, although it is brittle and soft. Cut into thin layers of veneer it is very flexible, but is only used for the construction of boxes and desks. The wood, too, of the holm oak is cut into veneers of remarkable thinness, the colour of which is far from unsightly; but it is more particularly where it is exposed to friction that this wood is valued, as being one to be depended upon; in the axle trees of wheels, for instance, for which the ash is also employed, on account of its pliancy, the holm oak for its hardness, and the elm for the union in it of both these qualities.... The best woods for cutting into layers and employing as a veneer for covering others are the citrus, the terebinth, the different varieties of the maple, the box, the palm, the holly, the holm oak, the root of the elder, and the poplar. The alder furnishes, also, a kind of tuberosity, which is cut into layers like those of the citrus and the maple. In all the other trees, the tuberosities are of no value whatever. It is the central part of trees that is most variegated, and the nearer we approach to the root the smaller are the spots and the more wavy. It was in this appearance that originated that requirement of luxury which displays itself in covering one tree with another, and bestowing upon the more common woods a bark of higher price. In order to make a single tree sell many times over laminae of veneer have been devised; but that was not thought sufficient—the horns of animals must next be stained of different colours, and their teeth cut into sections, in order to decorate wood with ivory, and, at a later period, to veneer it all over. Then, after all this, man must go and seek his materials in the sea as well! For this purpose he has learned to cut tortoise shell into sections; and of late, in the reign of Nero, there was a monstrous invention devised of destroying its natural appearance by paint, and making it sell at a still higher price by a successful imitation of wood.
"It is in this way that the value of our couches is so greatly enhanced; it is in this way, too, that they bid the rich lustre of the terebinth to be outdone, a mock citrus to be made that shall be more valuable than the real one, and the grain of the maple to be feigned. At one time luxury was not content with wood; at the present day it sets us on buying tortoise shells in the guise of wood."—Pliny's Natural History, Bohn's Translation.
ITALY IN MEDIAEVAL AND RENAISSANCE TIMES
The mediaeval craft seems, however, to have been derived from the East, though Theophilus mentions the Germans as clever practitioners in woodwork. A minnesinger's harp of the 14th century, figured by Hefner Alteneck, appears to bear out his remark, though later in date, with its powdering of geometrical inlays and curiously-designed sprigs, which might almost have been produced by the latest art craze, which apes archaic simplicity. It belonged to the knightly poet Oswald von Wolkenstein, who died in 1445; the colours used are two browns, black, white, and green. The oriental inlays of ivory upon wood, elaborate and beautiful geometrical designs, are still produced in India in much the same fashion as in the middle ages, for the possibilities of geometric design were exhausted by the Arabs in Egypt and the Moors in Spain; and in Venice there was a quarter inhabited by workmen of the latter race who made both metal work and objects in wood. Except for the inlaid ivory casket in the Capella Palatina, at Palermo, which seems to be a work of Norman times, we have no work of the kind which can be dated with precision before the appearance in the north of Italy of the similar "lavoro alla Certosa," or "tarsia alla Certosina"; but since inlaying with small pieces of marble and vitreous pastes was practised in central and southern Italy certainly from the 12th century, there is little difficulty in imagining how its use arose. This work has its derivative still existing in England in the so-called "Tonbridge ware," which is made by arranging rods of wood in a pattern and glueing them together, after which sections are sliced off—the same proceeding, in effect, as that which the Egyptians made use of with rods or threads of glass. One must allow, however, that the wooden border inlays, which are also placed under this heading, show greater craft mastery, as the examples appended show, which are typical instances. The chair-back from S. Ambrogio, Milan, is a characteristic example of the simpler form on a tolerably large scale.
Historians are agreed that the cradle of Italian carving and inlaying was Siena, where there is mention of a certain Manuello, who, with his son Parti, worked in the ancient choir of the Cathedral in 1259. Orvieto was another place where tarsia work was made at an early date, but the craftsmen were all Sienese. Mastro Vanni di Tura dell' Ammanato, the Sienese, made the design of the stalls for the Cathedral in 1331, and commenced the work, some remains of which are still preserved in the Museum of the Opera del Duomo. Twenty-eight artists were employed on these stalls; Giovanni Talini, Meo di Nuti, and others, all Sienese, assisted him, but he died before they were finished, and they remained incomplete till 1414, when Domenico di Nicolo is recorded as undertaking the work; but neither did he finish it, for in 1431 the overseers gave it to Pietro di Minella, and then to his brother Antonio, and to Giovanni di Lodovico di Magno. The woods used were ebony, box, walnut, and white poplar, and the cost was 3152 lire. In the 14th century tarsia was executed at Siena, Assisi, where in 1349 Nicolo di Nicoluccio and Tommaso di Ceccolo worked at the Cathedral stalls, which no longer remain; Verona, in the sacristy of S. Anastasia, in which city are some inlays resembling those at Orvieto, and Perugia, where some inlays remain in the Collegio della Mercanzia, but remains of the period are few, as may be expected.
Domenico di Nicolo worked for 13 years at the chapel in the Palazzo Pubblico at Siena, using some of Taddeo Bartoli's designs, and also did the doors of the Sala di Balia, or of the Pope. This man, who was one of the best Sienese masters of intarsia and carving, and was head of the Opera del Duomo in 1400, and whose work brought him so much reputation that his family name of Spinelli was changed for himself and his descendants to Del Coro, or Dei Cori, is an example and a proof of the small profit which was to be made even then by conscientious and careful work. He was not only a worker in wood, in 1424 he also did the panels of the Cathedral floor, representing David and Goliath, the Amorite Kings, and Samson, ascribed by Vasari to Duccio; in 1415 he was paid 42 lire for a tabernacle made of gesso, while as early as February 28, 1397-8, he was paid 32 lire 10 soldi for 32-1/2 days' work on a window above the pulpit; yet on May 13, 1421, he petitions the priors and captain of the people to this effect. He says that he is poor, and cannot meet the requirements of his family and apprentices, each of whom, he says, costs 30 or 40 florins a year, and therefore suggests that he should have two or three boys to teach, and that the priors should subsidize him for that purpose, and binds himself to teach them all he can without reserve. The priors and captains recommended to the council that he should be paid by the chamberlain of Bicherna 200 lire, free of tax, by the year, "nomine provisionis libr: ducentos den: nitidas de gabella," and should have two or three Sienese youths to teach, and the council passed the recommendation the same day. Twenty-six years later, January 14, 1446-7, he appears again in the records with a petition to the Signory. He says that he has always, from his youth up, done his best to provide for his family, and that by his craft he has always tried to bring honour on the city and spread the fame of his works. That as they know he was granted money to teach his art to any young man who wanted to learn it, but "because this art was, and is, little profitable, there was no one who wished to go on with it except Master Mactio di Bernacchino, who followed the art thoroughly, and became an excellent master." That, as he thought he was fairly prosperous, he gave up the grant (like an honest man!), but the expenses of marrying and dowering his daughters had been so great, and added to the losses caused by the small profits on his work, had reduced him to such poverty that he did not see how he could go on, being 84 years of age, or thereabouts, and having a sick wife. He therefore asked to have a small pension settled on him for the few years he and his wife had to live. He was granted two florins a month, but three years later all mention of him ceases.
The choir of the Chapel of the Palace had been given in 1414 to Simone d'Antonio and Antonio Paolo Martini, but they did not satisfy the public, so it was taken from them and given to Domenico di Nicolo, August 26, 1415. The tarsie are 21 in number, and represent the clauses of the apostles' creed and the symbols of the apostles. The unsuccessful work was given to the prior of the Servites. In the Communal records occur the following, March 31, 1428:—"Domenico di Nicolo, called Domenico del Coro, is to have 45 florins at 4 lire the florin for his salary and the workmanship of the door which he has made at the entrance of the Sala del Papa in the Communal Palace, which salary was declared by Guido of Turin and Daniello di Neri Martini, two of the three workmen upon the contract of the said door, at 180 lire. And is to have 3152 lire for his salary and workmanship of 21 seats made in the Palace of the Magnificent Signors, with all both 'fornamenti et facti,' in full according to his contract"—accepted by Guido di Torino and Daniello di Neri Martini. He was called to Orvieto in 1416 to refix the roof of the Cathedral; he was not to have more than 200 florins a year, but if he came himself all expenses were to be paid. This suggests an appointment like that of a consulting engineer.
From Siena masters were continually sent to the other great towns to design and carry out works of architecture, sculpture, and woodwork, as entries in Sienese documents show. In early times the various arts connected with building were in close union, and it appears tolerably certain that one guild sheltered them all, proficiency being required in several crafts and mastery in one. We find the same man acting in one place as master builder or architect, and sometimes only giving advice, while elsewhere he is sculptor or woodworker. The painter, the mosaicist, and the designer for intarsia are confused in a similar manner. Borsieri calls Giovanni de' Grassi, the Milanese painter (known as Giovanni de Melano at first, a pupil of Giotto and Taddeo Gaddi; pictures of his are in the Academy, Florence, and in the cloister of S. Caterina Milan), "an excellent architect"; and he also worked in relief, besides conducting very important architectural works. He says that about 1385 Giovanni Galeazzo opened an academy of fine art in his palace, which was conducted by Giovanni de' Grassi and Michelino da Besozzo. On June 19, 1391, he was paid five florins for models executed by him, and something for the expense of execution in marble by another hand. In 1391 he was called upon by the Council of the Duomo, and after four months of uncertainty was assigned the position and pay of first engineer, with a servant who was paid by the Council. He did the door of the S. Sacristy; it was finished in July, 1395, when he was ordered to decorate it with gilding and blue. He also made designs for capitals and window traceries, and carved a God the Father for a centre boss of the vault of the N. Sacristy. He illuminated the initials, &c., of a copy of the Ambrosian ritual of Berold for the "Fabbriceria," and this was his last work, as he died July 5, 1398, and the price was paid to his son Solomon, the officials declaring that it was most moderate. His pupils were nearly all both painters and sculptors, and some of them became stained-glass painters. It is well known that Taddeo Gaddi was painter, architect, and mosaicist, and Giotto, painter, sculptor, and architect, and these details are an example of what was then continually going on. Both in mediaeval times and at the beginning of the Renaissance the most celebrated architects often called themselves by the most humble titles—"Magister lignaminio," "maestro di legname," "faber lignarius," "carpentarius." Minerva, the worker, was the patron of all workmen from Pheidias to the lowest pottery thrower, and in Christian times the Quattro Coronati, the four workmen-saints, were the patrons of all who worked with their hands.
The oldest of the differentiated guilds appears to be that of the painters, at least in Siena, where one was established in 1355, while in Florence they were obliged to enrol themselves in the "Art" of the "medici e speziali," unless they preferred, as many of them did, to be reckoned with the goldsmiths. In Siena the Goldsmiths' Guild followed the Painters' Guild in 1361, while the workers in stone formed their guild still later. Among the painters were included designers of every sort—moulders, and workers in plaster, stucco, and papier mache, gold beaters, tin beaters, &c., and masters and apprentices in stained glass, also makers of playing cards—a most comprehensive guild. Vasari, in his life of Jacopo Casentino, architect and painter, says, however, "Towards 1349 the painters of the old Greek style, and those of the new, disciples of Cimabue, finding themselves in great number, united and formed at Florence a company under the name and protection of S. Luke the Evangelist"; and Baldinucci, in his "Notizie dei professori di disegno," prints the articles of association at length. Others hold that the Confraternita dei Pittori was not founded till 1386.
The rapid rise of the last-named city in wealth and importance was the reason that so much of the best later 15th century inlaid work was done there, or at least by Florentines, though the art was not new to Florence, the names of Matteo di Bernardino, Pietro Antonio, Giovanni del Mulinella, and Domenico Tassi being recorded as working there in the 14th century. Vasari, as usual, is somewhat inaccurate; he says that tarsia was first introduced in the time of Brunelleschi and Paolo Uccello, "that, namely, of conjoining woods, tinted of different colours, and representing with these buildings in perspective, foliage, and various fantasies of different kinds." Both he and Lanzi say that Brunelleschi gave lessons in perspective and "tarsia" to architects and others, of which Masaccio in painting and Benedetto da Majano in his inlaid works availed themselves. Vasari held but a poor opinion of tarsia, which, he said, "was practised chiefly by those persons who possessed more patience than skill in design," and goes on to say that the subjects most suitable to the process are "perspective representations of buildings full of windows and angular lines, to which force and relief are given by means of lights and shades"; that although he had seen some good representations of figures, fruit, and animals, "yet the work soon becomes dark, and is always in danger of perishing from the worms or by fires." He adds that it was first practised in black and white alone, but Fra Giovanni da Verona improved the art by staining the wood with various colours by means of liquors and tints boiled with penetrating oil in order to produce light and shadow with wood of various colours, making the lights with the whitest pieces of the spindle tree; to shade, some singed the wood by firing, others used oil of sulphur, or a solution of corrosive sublimate and arsenic. The "most solemn" masters of tarsia in Florence were the Majani, La Cecca, Il Francione, and the da San Gallo. The first name which he gives is that of Giuliano da Majano (1432-90), architect and sculptor, who executed as his first work the seats and presses of the sacristy of S. S. Annunziata at Florence, with Giusto and Minore, two masters in tarsia. He also did other things for S. Marco. In the archives of the Duomo, Giuliano di Nardo da Maiano is named in a contract for ornamental wood-work in the sacristy, to be finished in 1465. There is still existing in the Opera del Duomo a panel of S. Zenobio standing between two deacons, executed by him from cartoons by Maso Finiguerra, who designed five figures for the panels of the sacristy. The heads were painted by Alessio Baldovinetti. There are also several subjects in the sacristy, a Nativity, resembling Lippino Lippi's picture in the Accademia; a Presentation in the Temple, not without a reminiscence of Ghirlandajo's manner; and an Annunciation. The whole scheme of the decoration of this wall was Giuliano's, but it was the completion of work begun in 1439 by Angelo di Lazzero of Arezzo, Bernardo di Tommaso di Ghigo, Giovanni di Ser Giovanni detto Scheggione, painter and brother of Masaccio, and Antonio Manetti. Milanesi says his father was Leonardo d'Antonio da Majano, master of wood and stone work. He entered the Arte del legnajuolo in company with his younger brother Benedetto, and the first mention of his work in connection with the "Arte" is in 1455, when he made for the Compagnia di S. Agnese delle Laudi, which met in the Carmine, a chest with a bookcase of some sort. Five years later he carved some candlesticks for the Monastery of S. Monaca, and constructed some cupboards ornamented with inlaid work and perspectives for the Badia of Fiesole. Among his architectural work may be mentioned the Chapel of S. Fina at S. Gemignano, which Ghirlandajo embellished with frescoes. He commenced a choir for the Duomo at Perugia, decorated with both carving and tarsia, but since he went to Naples shortly after 1481, and died there in 1490, the greater part of the credit of this work must be given to Domenico del Tasso, who completed it in 1491. His brother Benedetto, to whom he turned over most of his commissions for tarsia, when he became much occupied with architectural work, was born in 1442. He assisted his brother in many of his works, such as the doors of the hall of audience in the Palazzo Vecchio, made between 1475 and 1480, representing Dante and Petrarch, with ornamental borders and other panels, in which Il Francione also had a hand. He gave up tarsia in disgust for the following reason, according to the story told by Vasari:—"He made two chests, with difficult and most splendid mastery, of wood mosaic, which he wished to show to Matthew Corvinus, then King of Hungary, who had many Florentines at his Court, and had summoned him with much favour; so he packed his chests up and sailed for Hungary, where, when he had made obeisance to the King, and had been kindly received, he brought forward the said cases and had them unpacked in his presence, who much wished to see them; but the damp of the water and the mouldiness of the sea had so softened the glue that when the parcels were opened almost all the pieces of the tarsia fell to the ground, at which every one may understand how astonished and speechless Benedetto was in the presence of so many lords. However, he put the work together again as he best might, and satisfied the King; still he was disgusted with that kind of work, not being able to forget the vexation which he had suffered, and gave it up, taking to carving instead." He finished his brother's presses in the sacristy of S. Maria dei Fiori, and, in the opinion of Vasari, surpassed him and became the best master of his period. He died in 1497. Vasari ascribes the celebrant's seat in Pisa Cathedral to Giuliano, together with another of spindlewood, "to be placed in the nave where the women sit," finished and sent home in 1477, and put up by Baccio Pontelli. Milanesi says, however, that the choir of this Cathedral was done by Francesco di Giovanni di Matteo da Firenze, called Il Francione. Guido da Seravallino, between 1490 and 1495, made for the choir of the sacristy of this Cathedral more than 15 perspectives; the usual price appears to have been 11 lire. He was a Pisan, and his father's name was Filippo. Domenico di Mariotto first appears in the accounts in 1489, when he began the choir and seats for the Campo Santo; he went on with various works of tarsia and carving till 1513. He was a Florentine, but lived in Pisa for many years, dying there in 1519. Other names which appear in the accounts are Giuliano di Salvatore and Michele Spagnuolo. In 1486 Cristophano d'Andrea da Lendinara and Jacopo da Villa came to make a seat for the choir, but this does not seem to have been a success, and Il Francione, who had been at Pisa as long before as 1462, and Baccio di Fino Pontelli, who appears in 1471, were put in charge of the work. Giovanni Battista Cervelliera is mentioned first in 1522. He was son of Pietro d'Altro Pietra, a native of Corsica, who began the singing gallery of the organ in S. Martino, Pietra Santa, finished by his son, who died in about 1570. In 1596 a great fire took place. After this the best pieces saved were used in the decoration of the new choir, in 1606, by Pietro Giolli, who also had some fresh ones made; others were mended by Girolamo Innocenti, and placed round the walls and round the nave piers in 1613. The pieces of Giuliano da Majano's work now remaining are in the side aisles, two at the right, one at the left; one represents King David with his harp and with a label in the other hand, "Laudate Pueri Dominum." The other two figures are prophets, and have scrolls, "Benedicam, benedicam," and "Ve qui condunt legem." Pontelli's Faith, Hope, and Charity are on the pier near the Chapel of S. Ranier, three half-length figures of women. The seated figures of the liberal arts on the side panelling of the church are Il Francione's, women with symbols, arithmetic, grammar, geometry, astrology, logic, and music. The great seat in the nave is the work of Giovanni Battista del Cervelliera. In the centre is a large round-headed panel with the Adoration of the Magi; at each side are three lower seats with architectural subjects in the centre and objects in the side panels and below the seats. It is signed and dated 1536. The whole collection of panels is well worth a stay at Pisa to see, even if there were not other attractions in that pleasant little town. In the registers of the "Opera" is an annual charge for two "sbirri," or two servants of the captain of the people, to watch the seats of the Cathedral "so that children may not damage them in the obscurity," which shows that even Italian children could not always be trusted not to be mischievous.
Il Francione had a pupil called Il Cecca. His name was really Francesco d'Agnolo, but like most men at that time he went by a nick-name. Cecca is a corruption of Francesco into Cecco, Cecca, from being Francione's companion and disciple. He was born in 1447; his father was Angelo di Giovanni, a mender of leather or "galigajo." He came to Florence from Tonda, a little place near S. Miniato al Tedesco. His father died in 1460; he and three older sisters were left to his mother, Monna Pasqua. So the 13 year-old boy went bravely to work to keep his mother and sisters, and entered Il Francione's workshop. When he was 25 he left him and set up for himself, taking a shop in the Borgo de' Greci, where he lived and slept as well as worked. In 1481 he had a commission from the magistrates, called "degli ufficiali di Palazzo," for all the wood-work of the Hall of the Seventy, Bernardo di Marco Renzi helping him. Afterwards he did other work for different parts of the Palace and for other places, all of which has perished. Finally, he spent most of his time as architect and engineer, and had a great deal to do with the fortification of various places and with the great cars for the "feste"—a not uncommon juxtaposition of engagements. He died in 1488.
The del Tasso lived in the village of S. Gervasio, and moved to a place near the walls of Florence, a few steps from the Porta a Pinti. Then they went into the city and had a house in the parish of S. Ambrogio, in which church Francesco di Domenico made a tomb for himself and his family in 1470. They had arms; at first they were a goldsmith's anvil (tasso or tassetto), and above a ball or heap of silver. Afterwards the field of the shield was divided, and they added in the upper part two little badgers (tassi) at the side of the anvil, and put below the keys of S. Peter, crossed, and interspersed with four roses. "And this they did, not only to point out the parish of S. Pier Maggiore in the gonfalon 'Chiavi' of the quarter of S. Giovanni, where the del Tasso lived, but also to differentiate their arms from those almost similar of another Florentine family of the same name." Evidently there was no College of Heralds in Florence in those days! The first of the family recorded is Chimenti di Francesco, who, in 1483-4 made a grating or gridiron of wood in the Chapel of S. Lorenzo in the Monastery of S. Ambrogio, and the dossal of the altar called "del Miracolo." In 1488 he carved a choir of walnut, outlined with tarsia, for the Chapel Minerbetti in S. Pancrazio, for which he was paid 100 florins of gold. He had, among others, two sons, Lionardo and Zanobi, who became sculptors under Benedetto da Majano and Andrea Sansovino. They also worked in S. Ambrogio, and the figure of S. Sebastian is by Lionardo. The two brothers in 1499 made nine antique heads of marble and bronze, which the republic sent as a gift to the Marechal de Guise in France. Chimenti had two brothers, also carvers and joiners, Cervagio and Domenico, who brought up their sons to follow the same calling, who did many things for triumphal arches, cars, &c., for "feste." Domenico did the tarsia and rosettes in the seat backs of the refectory of S. Pietro, Perugia, and a credence of walnut, ordered on October 20, 1490, for the table of the priors, on which were festoons, griffins, and other inlaid work. The year after he finished the choir of the Cathedral left by Giuliano da Majano, and was paid 1404 florins, according to the estimate of Crispolto and Polimante, Perugian joiners. For the same choir he made the panelling of wood, for which he was paid 60 florins. There were 34 seats with ornaments at 36 florins each, and three with figures, which were estimated at 60 florins apiece. Payments were also made to him for work in the Sala del Cambio, sometimes for wood, sometimes on account of salary, so that it seems certain that he made the benches there on finishing the choir of the Cathedral, since they were being made between 1491 and 1494. The first cost 130 florins and 6 soldi in 1491, but it was not finished till the next year. Polimante da Nicola was made citizen of Perugia in 1473. Three years after he began the choir of S. Domenico, which cost 11 florins per seat. Four years later it was still unfinished. "Mastro Crespolto and Mastro Giovagne" were his assistants. Domenico had three sons, Chimenti, Francesco, and Marco, who followed the paternal calling. Chimenti was one of those who were judges in 1490 in the competition for the facade of S. Maria del Fiore, and in 1504 was one of those chosen to decide the position in the piazza to be occupied by Michael Angelo's David. Marco was an enthusiastic follower of Savonarola; in 1491 he was, with his brother Francesco, at Perugia helping his father, and six years later he undertook work there on his own account. They did half of the choir of La Badia in 1501-2, and the very elaborate lectern. The son of Mark was Giambattista, called Maestro Tasso, who was a fine carver in wood, and, in the opinion of Cellini, the best in his profession. He did many things both for ephemeral and lasting purposes, and became an architect, designing the door of the Church of S. Romolo and the Loggia of Mercato Nuovo, Florence, and superintending the construction of the latter between 1549 and 1551. In 1548 he designed an addition to the Palazzo Vecchio, then the ducal residence, and also undertook to execute all the joinery. At the same time he made a model of the Palace which he intended to build in Pisa, which, however, was not carried out. He died in 1555. He was said by Vasari to spend his time in playing the wag, in enjoyment rather than work, and in criticising the works of others. But Cellini calls him pleasant and gay; Bronzino, good, lovable, and honest; and so does Luca Martini, who was a great friend of his. The following story of him, related by Il Lasca, shows that he was not above playing a practical joke of a rough character, and that he took great pride in the achievements of his fellow-artists:—"A Lombard Benedictine abbot on the way to Rome stayed in Florence, and wished one day to see the figures on the Medicean tombs in the sacristy of San Lorenzo carved by Michael Angelo, and having therefore gone thither with his two attendant monks, the prior of the church asked Tasso, who was then working at the floor of the library together with his son-in-law Crocini Antonio di Romolo, under the direction of Michael Angelo, to show the abbot the sacristy and the said library. Which abbot, after having seen the figures in the sacristy, and thought very little of them, set off to see the library, and while he was gently ascending a stair which conducted to it, talking with Tasso, happened to turn his eyes on the cupola of Brunellesco, and stopping to look at it commenced to say that, although it was considered by all the world as a marvel, he had heard a person worthy of credence say that the dome of Norcia was much more beautiful, and made with greater art. Which words so much exasperated Tasso that, pulling the abbot backwards with force, he made him tumble down the staircase, and he took care to let himself fall on him (!) and calling out that the frater was mad, he got two cords, with which he bound his arms, his legs, and all his person, so that he could not move, and then taking him, hanging over his shoulders, carried him to a room near, and, stretching him on the ground, left him there in the dark, locking the door and taking away the key." What happened to the unfortunate abbot after, and whether he was much damaged or not one does not know, for the anecdote stops here. Another instance of a family which devoted itself for many years to the production of tarsia and wood-work, displaying hereditary aptitude in the craft and gaining great repute, is given by the Canozii of Lendinara. The first member who took up tarsia, abandoning his craft of painting for that purpose, was Lorenzo Genesino da Lendinara, surnamed Canozio, to give him his full description. From him descended many excellent workers in wood. He studied in Padua, where he had Mantegna as fellow-student, and worked in company with his brother, his son, and a relation called Pier Antonio dell' Abate di Modena, who did the intarsia in the choir of S. Francesco at Treviso in 1486. He died in 1477, and is buried in the first cloister of S. Antonio at Padua, for which he made the stalls, as his epitaph states. They were commenced in 1462, were worked at continuously for three years, and after an interval finished in 1468. They were then coloured and gilded in places by "Maestro Ugozon de Padoa, depentor." Burnt in 1749, only two stalls remain, made into confessional boxes, in the Chapel of the Beato Belludi. The designs for the tarsia of the sacristy were made by Squarcione, master of Mantegna and Lorenzo, who was paid for them in 1462. There were 90 seats in this choir, so that it was a very important piece of work. A contemporary account by Matteo Colaccio (1486) shows what were the aims of the intarsiatori of the period as understood and admired by the more or less cultivated populace. "In past days in visiting those intarsiad figures, I was so much taken with the exquisiteness of the work that I could not withhold myself from praising the authors to heaven! And to commence with the objects that one sees around every day, here are books expressed in tarsia that seem real. Some are one on the other, and arranged carelessly, or by chance, some closed, some newly bound and difficult to close; candles of wax with the ends of wicks, now in well-turned wooden candlesticks, one straight, one crooked, less or more, with another crossing it. Elsewhere one sees clouds of smoke which spread out from new chimneys, fish which turn round from a full basket, a cithern which hangs from the centre of a narrow niche. Close by is a cage of bars expressed with wonderful spirit. Palaces, towers, and churches, through the half-closed doors of which one can see in the interior arches and windows, cupolas and steps. Most natural, then, is it not to be able to decide which tower to approach; these mountains appear to one covered with grass and with stones; and where earth of various colours appears there all green is taken away. But what shall I say of the images of the saints. Of their uncut and curled beards, of their hands, the joints of their fingers, their nails? Of their clothes, their sinuous folds, and the shadows? Nor less pleased me the little collar of rich pearls under the chin of S. Prosdocimus. Then round the angel Gabriel and the most pious mother one admires branches with such fruit and twigs that nature does not make them more true. And this is specially admirable, that through the dull colour of their leaves they seem to have been taken from the tree scarcely a day ago." And then he praises in a pompous fashion the folds of the Virgin's and the Angel's drapery, the silk veil over a chalice, and the perspective of a flight of steps which support the feet of the Madonna, &c. One of his first works was done for S. Mark's, Venice, in 1450. His reputation was much increased by the stalls of the Cathedral of Modena, made in 1472 by Lorenzo and Cristoforo, and restored in 1540 by Mastro Angelo de Piacenza, one of their pupils. He also worked at Parma in 1473. Fra Luca Pacioli (1509) makes an enthusiastic eulogium upon Lorenzo, "who, in the said art (perspective), was in his time supreme, as he showed in all his famous works, as in tarsia in the worthy choir of the Santo and its sacristy, and in Venice in the Cha Grande, as well as in painting in the same places and elsewhere. And at the present time his son, Giovan Marco, my dear comrade, who is worthy of his paternity, as his work at Rovigo shows, and that in the choir of our convent in Venice, and in Mirandola, the architecture of which fortress is well understood." In the sacristy of the Cathedral at Lucca are five panels from the seats which once surrounded it, signed "Cristopharus de Canociis de Lendinaria fecit opus, MCCCCLXXXVIII." One shows S. Martin, the bishop, full length, the others perspectives, perhaps of various streets of the city as then existing. He did these in conjunction with Matteo Civitale, and they were his last works. He died in 1491. Bernardino da Lendinara, who worked at Parma in 1494, and later, and was a citizen of that town and of Modena, was son of Cristoforo, who was also citizen of those cities from 1463.
The stalls from the Cathedral at Lucca, which are illustrated, are now in the Picture Gallery. They were made by Leonardo Marti, of Lucca. When in 1620 the choir was spoilt (they thought that they were making grand improvements) they were moved to the church of the Riformati of S. Cerbone, being badly mutilated to adapt them to their new position. There, in two centuries of neglect they became in such a state that the brothers thought them no longer decent, and wished to sell them and make a new choir. The Opera of the Cathedral and the Commission of Art paid them something for them, and thus preserved them as they now are, having executed some restorations here and there.
At Ferrara are some remains of stalls in the apse of the Cathedral which were commissioned from Bernardino da Lendinara in 1501, though not made by him owing to the defalcations of a dishonest steward. In 1519 the Chapter of the Cathedral renewed the contract with Pietro de' Rizzardi and Bernardino, but as he died in 1520, M. Angelo Discaccia, of Cremona, son of M. Cristoforo (da Lendinara?), was substituted, and assisted Rizzardi till the work was finished in 1525. The gilding was done by Baldassare dalla Viola and Albertino dalla Mirandola. A note in the books of the Fabbrica, June 30, 1525, states that "Mro. Piero di Richardo dale Lanze" owes for work not yet completed 58 lire 20 soldi. There are three rows of seats, 132 in all, and the Episcopal throne in the middle. The upper row is of 56 seats, without the throne, the middle one 42, the lowest 34. Originally there were 150, but in the alterations of 1715 nine from each side were taken away, as the high altar was placed further within the apse. The upper stalls are divided by a chancelled column with Corinthian capital, and terminated in a shell hood. The intarsia on the back showed ornament of fine style, drawings of sacred objects and perspectives of fine buildings drawn from various parts of the city. Two of the best preserved show the ducal castle and the ancient ducal courtyard with the still-existing staircase constructed by Ercole I. in 1481. The usual bird in a cage appears, the symbol of human passions conquered by religious abnegation. The lower rows of seats are also worked in tarsia, but with ornaments of geometrical form, books, and joint-stools, the diamond, the cognisance of Ercole I. (who gave the original commission), and the pomegranate, that of Alfonso, and this last figure, which only occurs in the third stall to the right in the lower order, makes one think that only that part was finished under him. The frames surrounding are carved with restraint. The work cost altogether 2771 lire 8 soldi 2 denari besides the expense of making the lower seats, which cost 3984 lire marchesane 16 soldi 10 denari. The lira marchesana in 1523-25 corresponded to 43 Roman bajocchi 9 denari, about 2 francs 35 centimes of modern Italian money.
The Canozii were also at Reggio, in the Emilia, in 1474 and in 1485, but the work of the stalls in the Cathedral seems rather more archaic than their period, and the lectern is dated 1459. It is probably the work of Antonio da Melaria, who three years later made one exactly like it, with other things, for the Church of S. Domenico. This was done for Antonia di Fiordibelli, and the contract shows what were the conditions under which such work was done. He was given 50 lire at once to buy material with, 50 when he began working, 50 when he had finished a third of the work, 50 when it was half done, 50 more when three-quarters was finished, and the rest of the whole price of 336 lire when it was completed. He was to use wood of Piella, and give 48 planks to the lady—a very curious clause in the contract.
At Citta di Castello there are tarsie designed by Raffaello da Colle in the Cathedral.
The choir stalls at the Certosa, Pavia, were made by Bartolommeo Poli, surnamed dalla Polla, from designs by Borgognone, as is said, and the style certainly seems to bear out the assertion, though no document has yet been found directly connecting him with them. They were restored in 1847 by Count Nava with wax and stucco coloured to imitate the missing pieces of wood. The upper row contains a series of figures of saints and prophets, and below are exceedingly graceful and flowing arabesques. A document in the Brera Library notes that in 1490 "Mro. Bartolommeo de Polli da Mantoa, who made the inlaid choir and the doors of the chapels, has a right to 8 ducats per door, and also for the wooden pulpits 30 ducats a pulpit." He was the son of Andrea da Mantova, who was born at Modena, but lived and worked at Mantua, and also with his brother Paolo in S. Mark's, Venice. The stalls were made between 1486 and 1501, and are the only work which he is recorded to have executed. A Cremonese, Pantaleone de' Marchi also worked on these stalls—a relation of the large family of the Marchi of Crema, perhaps, who worked in S. Petronio, Bologna, in 1495. The father was named Agostino, and he had six sons, Giacomo, Nicolo, Taddeo, Biagio, Agostino, and a second Giacomo. The stalls in the Chapel of S. Sebastian are signed Jacopo de Marchis. Some stalls by Pantaleone de' Marchi are in the Museum at Berlin, acquired in 1883. They probably came from Bramante's Church, the Madonna of Tirano, in the Valtelline, which was built in 1505, and where there are still some remains of seats similar in style. The upper range of panels has a few half-lengths of saints, landscapes, and the usual open cupboard doors revealing objects on the shelves within. On the backs of the seats below are arabesques, and the pilaster panels and divisions between are also inlaid, as is the cornice. He also worked at Savona.
One of the best Sienese masters has not yet been mentioned, Antonio Barili, much of whose work has perished, like that of many other intarsiatori, an example of which the collectors for the Austrian K.K. Museum at Vienna have picked up, however, where it may now be seen. He was born in Siena, August 12, 1453. His first work on his own account was the choir of the Chapel of S. Giovanni, in the Cathedral, Siena, of which a few poor remains have escaped the carelessness of the last century, and are in the Collegiate Church of S. Quirico in Osenna, 26 miles from Siena, on the old Roman road. The contract is dated January 16, 1483, and in it he engages to finish it in about two years. He was to be paid 50 florins of 4 lire beyond what he expended, and was to go on working at the rate of 10 florins a month. If he did not finish it in the given time he was to forfeit 100 florins, except for cause of infirmity, plague, &c. It was to be valued in the usual manner, and 100 florins was the penalty for the breaking of the contract on either side. As a matter of fact it took him nearly 20 years to complete. On one of the panels Barili made a portrait of himself at work, the one referred to above, now in the K.K. Austrian Museum at Vienna, which shows the very simple means used by the great intarsiatori. His tools consist of a folding pocket-knife, a square-handled gouge, and a short-bladed, long-handled knife, which he holds with the left hand and presses his shoulder against, so as to use the push of the shoulder in cutting, while in the right he holds a small pencil, with which he appears to direct the knife edge. The panel upon which he is at work bears the inscription, "Hoc ego Antonius Barilis opus c[oe]lo non penicello excussi. Anno. D., 1502." He works in a window opening with panelled framing, and behind him a tree spreads across a courtyard against the sky, upon a branch of which a parrot is seated. Von Tschudi says that the panel is about 2 feet 10 inches long by 1 foot 9-1/2 inches broad, and that the woods employed are pear and walnut, oak, maple, box, mahogany, palisander, and one as hard as birch in texture. A full description of it as it originally was is appended in a note taken from Della Valle's "Lettere Senese." It was valued by Fra Giovanni of Verona at 3990 lire. While this work was in progress he made the benches and other wood-work in the Cathedral Library for Francesco Piccolomini at a cost of 2000 lire, and did other work for private persons. Another great work was the choir of the Certosa of Maggiano, which has entirely disappeared. He was not only intarsiatore, but was much employed by the commune on architectural works. In 1484 he was sent to rebuild the bridge of Buonconvento, broken by a flood of the Ombrone, and in the same year, with Francesco di Giorgio, and on equal terms with him, restored the bridge of Macereto. In 1495 he was asked to make designs and models for a bastion to be erected over against the bridge of Valiano, taken by the Florentines. Owing to a bad guard being kept this was taken, and between 1498 and 1500 Barili was sent again to rebuild it larger and stronger. Finally, in 1503, he was sent to make designs and models of the new walls for the fortifications of Talamone, an important coast town. In his intarsias he was helped by his nephew, Giovanni, whose salary, when working for Leo X. at Rome, was five ducats a month. He died in 1516.
Other names mentioned by Vasari are Baccio Albini and his pupil Girolamo della Cecca, pipers to the signoria, as good intarsiatori who worked also in ivory when Benedetto da Majano was yet a young man, and David of Pistoia and Geri of Arezzo, who decorated the choir and pulpit of S. Agostino in the latter town. Geri also made intarsie for S. Michele, Arezzo. Milanesi says Girolamo della Cecca was of Volterra, and calls Baccio, di Andrea Cellini; he was in Hungary in 1480 with his brother Francesco; they were brothers of Giovanni, who was father of Benvenuto and piper also. The stalls in S. Miniato, Florence, were made in 1466 by Francesco Manciatto and Domenico da Gajuolo; but perhaps the highest point reached by Florentine intarsia is shown by the stalls of S. Maria Novella, made by Baccio d'Agnolo from Filippino Lippi's designs. There are 40 stalls and 30 different ornamental fillings; the capitals, pilasters, and frieze are inlaid, the rest carved; the execution of figures, scrolls, leaves, and ornamental forms is as near perfection as may be.
Baccio, or Bartolommeo d'Agnolo Baglioni, was born May 19, 1462. "In his youth he did very fine intarsia in the choir of S. Maria Novella, in which are a very fine S. John Baptist and S. Laurence, and also carved the ornaments in the same place and the organ case"—so says Vasari. The organ case is no longer there, having been sold in England, but the stalls still remain. After carving the surroundings of the altar at S. S. Annunziata, which no longer exist, he went to Rome and studied architecture, of which Vasari remarks, "the science of which has not been exercised, for several years back, except by carvers and deceitful persons, who made profession of understanding perspective without knowing even the terminology and the first principles" (!) When he returned to Florence he made triumphal arches of carpentry for the entry of Leo X. But he still stuck to his shop, in which, especially in the winter, fine discourses and discussions on art matters were held, attended at different times by Raffaello, then quite young; by Andrea Sansovino, il Maiano, il Cronaca, Antonio and Giuliano San Gallo, il Granaccio, and sometimes, by chance, by Michel Agnolo, and many young men, both Florentines and strangers. He did a great deal of work for the great hall of the Palazzo Vecchio in conjunction with others, and the staircase of the Sala del Dugento. After this he did many architectural works, palaces and additions to churches, some of which are still existing. The design of Brunelleschi for the gallery to surround the dome of the Cathedral having been lost, Baccio was commissioned to make a fresh one, and a piece of it was put up; but when Michael Angelo came back from Rome he said it was not large enough in style for the dome; in fact, he called it a cage for grasshoppers (grilli), and made a design to replace it himself; as, however, the authorities could not make up their minds to accept it, and Baccio's work was much blamed, it went no farther, and was never finished. He died on May 6, 1543, at the age of 83, being still in full possession of his faculties, and leaving three sons, of whom the second, Giuliano, did a good deal of carving both in stone and wood, and architectural design, working in conjunction with Baccio Bandinelli, among which was the choir of the Cathedral of Florence. Another son, Domenico, showed great promise, but died young.
The seats near the high altar at S. Maria Novella, and other things there were made between 1491 and 1496. The floor of the hall of the Great Council in the Palazzo Vecchio was begun in 1496, and with other works there went on till 1503. On October 1, 1502, he engaged to do the choir of S. Agostino Perugia from Perugino's designs at 1120 florins of 40 bolognini each, but he did not work at it much at that time, since on June 20, 1532, he made a fresh contract with the monks to continue and complete the choir of their church. Adamo Rossi gives other curious details about this work drawn from Perugian records, which are worth noting. He says that in 1501 Bacciolo d'Agnolo, not having a good design to show, agreed with the prior Federico di Giuliano in three months' time to submit two different seats for the choir of S. Agostino, and confessed to having received 50 broad ducats of gold as part of the price of the choir and the two stalls mentioned. He also agreed to return the money if he did not undertake the choir or did not finish it according to contract. He presented them accordingly, and in 1502 the contract was signed at 30 florins for each upper seat. Rossi also says that he finds trace of another Baccio d'Agnolo in the collection of wills of Pietro Paolo di Lodovico, under date June 11, 1529, and thinks that the work was done by him. One Baccio was elected capo-maestro of the Duomo in 1507 together with Giuliano and Antonio da San Gallo and il Cronaca (Simone del Pollajuolo), and continued in that office until 1529.
Rossi also gives other interesting details about the making of various pieces of joinery in Perugia and their makers, from which I extract the following:—"In the refectory of S. Agostino two Sienese, Giovanni and Cristoforo de'Minelli, worked in 1477. The cupboards in the sacristy of S. Pietro in Casinense were made by Giusto di Francesco of Incisa and Giovanni di Filippo da Fiesole in 1472. They were bought in Florence, and are particularly fine and large in their treatment of flowers, &c. The work was finished with the assistance of Mariotto di Mariotto of Pesaro, three workmen coming from places at considerable distances from each other, proving that they wandered about the country a good deal. The lectern in the same church, which is well inlaid and finely carved, was made by Battista the Bolognese, Ambrose the Frenchman, and Lorenzo. The contract was between the abbot and Fra Damiano's brother, Maestro Stefano di Antoniuolo de' Zambelli da Bergamo, and was for the whole choir at 30 scudi for each seat, wood being provided. The lectern itself cost 176 florins, and was finished in 1535. In the Sala del Cambio, besides Domenico del Tasso's seats, there is a fine door which was made by Antonio di Benciviene da Mercatello da Massa, for which he was paid 10 florins 93 soldi 6 denari. The orator's desk, the 'ringhiera,' was made by Antonio di Antonio Masi, the Fleming, though often ascribed to Mercatello. It was estimated by Eusebio del Bastone as worth 68 florins. At Assisi the choir of the upper church, which is the most important in all Italy for the number of its stalls, the mastery of its figure intarsia, and the elegance of its form, was made by Domenico da S. Severino, who agreed with the superiors on July 8, 1491, to make it for 770 ducats of gold. It was not finished till 1501, but no payments are noted in the archives after November 18, 1498. In the lower church two Sienese worked in 1420, and a Florentine from 1448 to 1471. The choir of the Cathedral in the same city was made by Giovanni di Piergiacomo, also of S. Severino, and there is sometimes confusion between the two artists. The price was 57 florins. On one of the backs is carved the date 1520. The most ancient piece of joinery in Perugia is that executed for the Arte della Mercanzia in the 14th century."
Rossi prints a priced list of joiners' tools, dated November 8, 1496, which is interesting as showing the small amount of tools and furniture required in a joiner and intarsiatore's workshop at that period. It runs thus:—
Bernardino di Lazzaro buys from Angelo di Maestro Jacopo, called Boldrino, joiner, the underwritten tools and apparatus at the price at which they were valued by Master Giovanni da Siena and Ercolano di Gabriele of Perugia.
Two benches, 2 0 Four planes, 1 0 Two screw profiles, one broad and one narrow, 0 40 Two rules, 0 16 Four straight edges, one large and three small, 0 28 One outliner for tarsia, 0 8 Rods for making cornices, 0 12 A cross beam, 0 6 Two compasses, one large and one small, 0 12 Two rulers, 0 5 Four one-handed little planes, 0 16 One two-handed little plane, 0 8 Two broad planes, 0 12 Two hollow moulding planes, 0 12 Three pieces of unfinished tarsia, and one with a wire drawing iron, 1 30 Two large squares and one "grafonetto" and one little square, 0 8 Two old irons for making cornices, 0 8 Nine files, large and small, round and straight, 0 30 Fifteen "gulfie," large and small, 0 24 Three chisels, one glued and one all of iron and one "a tiro colla manacha de legusa saietta," 0 7 One small hammer, 0 16 Two arm chairs, 0 8 A big "tenevello," 0 25 A little anvil, 0 20 A pair of big pincers, 0 32 Two little axes, 0 20 A two-handed axe, 0 25 A two-handed saw with a file, 0 60 A cutting saw, 0 25 Two stools, 0 16 Nine presses (clamps), 0 60 Two cupboards, 0 90 Five pieces of panels, two on the benches and three outside, 0 20 Three pieces of tarsia frieze and two pictures with a box without a lid, 1 0 A bench to put the tarsia on, 0 40
The words untranslated are, I suppose, Perugian words. At all events, they do not appear in the large Italian dictionary edited by Tommaseo and Bellini.
This Bernardino six years earlier worked as apprentice with Maestro Mattia da Reggio, and was paid 6 florins 22 soldi for four months. His name appears in the list of masters of stone and wood.
Frederic of Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, built himself a splendid palace in that city between the years of 1468 and 1480, which cost 200,000 golden scudi. At that time a sack of corn cost rather less than five modern Italian lire in the duchy, and a hectolitre of wine only one franc sixty centimes, and one may gain some idea of the way in which princes of liberal tastes lavished their money over the production of works of art by comparing these figures. Among the decorations, which include much stone carving of the most extraordinary finish, which in the interior of the palace appears as fresh as the day it was completed, were some splendidly inlaid doors, eight or nine of which still remain. The palace was constructed upon the foundations of an older palace of 1350, much enlarged, and here he lived magnificently, and collected that fine library which was subsequently removed to Rome, of which Vespasiano da Bisticci, the Florentine bookseller, who had a good deal to do with it, says that it was the most perfect that he knew, for in others there were either gaps or duplicates, from which defects it was free. Castiglione's "Cortigiano," the ideal of a courtier in those days, describes the Court of Urbino as it was under Guidobaldo, his son and successor. Among the decorations of the palace which still remain is the panelling of a small studio on the piano nobile, close to the tiny chapel, which is entirely surrounded by intarsia of the finest description, which represents in the lower part a seat something like the misereres of choir stalls surrounding the apartment, some parts of which are raised and some lowered. In the spaces rest some portions of the duke's arms, a sword, a mace, &c., leaning in the corners, and on the lower parts of the seat are musical instruments, fruits and sweetmeats in dishes, cushions, books, &c. The upper panels show cupboards with doors partly open, showing all sorts of things within in the usual fashion, and there are four figure panels inserted at intervals containing the portrait of the duke and the Christian virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity which he strove to exemplify in his life. At one end of the room are two recesses divided by a projecting pier; in the one to the left the armour of the duke is represented as hanging piece by piece on the wall, in that on the right is shown his reading desk, made to turn on a pivot, with books upon it and around, and on the pier between, a landscape, seen through an arcade with a terrace in front, upon which are a squirrel and a basket of fruit. Close to the reading desk is a representation of an organ with a seat in front of it, upon which is a cushion covered with brocade or cut velvet, which is most realistic, and on the organ is the name Johan Castellano, which is supposed to be the name of the intarsiatore, though this name does not appear in the accounts. The custodian called him a Bergamase, I do not know on what authority. The designs of the figures are ascribed to Botticelli, and some of them look as if the ascription might possibly be correct. The only names of intarsiatori found in the ducal accounts are Beneivegni da Mercatello, who worked in the Sala del Cambio at Perugia, and no doubt had to do with the making of the doors, which resemble that work, and perhaps a Taddeo da Rovigno, the town from which the Olivetan Fra Sebastian came. Pungileone, however, found a payment of seven florins in 1473 to "Maestro Giacomo, from Florence, on account of intarsia for the audience hall." Dennistoun says that this study contained "arm-chairs encircling a table all mosaicked with tarsia, and carved by Maestro Giacomo of Florence," but it is now quite bare, though, fortunately, the tarsie are well preserved. He goes on to say that "on each compartment of the panelling was the portrait of some famous author and an appropriate distich," which leads one to suppose either that his information was inaccurate or that he was referring to the similar small study on the lower floor, in which Timoteto delle Vite did some painting.
The duke and his son Guidobaldo were both great builders, and Urbino was not the only town in which they raised palaces, though the others were not of so much importance. The names by which they were denominated show this. It is always the corte at Urbino, at Pesaro it is the palazzo, and at Gubbio the modest casa. Nevertheless, at this last place the intarsias were of almost as great importance, though now the palace is ruinous and the intarsias dispersed, some of them being at South Kensington. Dennistoun quotes descriptions from Sig. Luigi Bonfatti and Mr. F. C. Brooke, which are worth reproducing, as showing the care some times expended on the decoration of quite small apartments. This study, which was commissioned by Duke Guidobaldo, is only 13 by 6-1/2 feet in plan, though it is 19 feet high. The inlaid work only went half-way up, as at Urbino, the upper part of the walls having been covered with tapestries. The tarsie showed "emblematic representations of music, literature, physical science, geography, and war; bookcases, or rather cupboards, with their contents, among which were a ship, a tambourine, military weapons, a cage with a parrot in it, and as if for the sake of variety only, a few volumes of books, over one of which, containing music, with the word 'Rosabella' inscribed on its pages, was suspended a crucifix. On the central case opposite the window, and occupying as it were the place of honour, was the garter, with its motto, 'Honi soit q. mal i pense,' a device which was sculptured on the exterior of the stone architrave of the door of this apartment. It appeared again in tarsia in the recess of the window, where might also be seen, within circles, 'G. Ubaldo Dx. and Fe Dux.' Amongst the devices was the crane standing on one leg, and holding, with the foot of the other, which is raised, the stone he is to drop as a signal of alarm to his companions. Among other feigned contents of a bookcase were an hour-glass, guitar, and pair of compasses; in another were seen a dagger, dried fruits in a small basket made of thin wood, and a tankard, while in a third was represented an open book surmounted with the name of Guidobaldo, who probably made the selection inscribed on the two pages of the volume, comprising verses 457-491 of the tenth AEneid." On the cornice was an inscription. It was thought to be the work of Antonio Mastei of Gubbio, a famous artist in wood, who executed the choir of S. Fortunato at Todi, and who is known to have been much in favour with Dukes Guidobaldo and Francesco Maria I., the latter of whom gave him an exemption from imposts.
In the 17th century tarsia was more used for domestic furniture than for stationary decoration. The character of the design changed in consequence, and mother-of-pearl, ivory, tortoiseshell, silver, and other materials were used. The first Tuscan, or one of the first who did so was Andrea Massari of Siena. A few works in tarsia were still executed, but none of much importance. The choir of S. Sigismondo, outside Cremona, commenced by Gabriel Capra and finished by his son Domenico in 1605, is one of the principal, and the choir of S. Francesco, Perugia, where Fortebraccio was buried, but this latter no longer exists. Marquetry was produced in Florence, Venice, Milan, and Genoa down to a still later date, but the fashion for ivory and ebony carried all before it. The Italian work of this kind is often most beautifully engraved, but less accurate than that produced in France. The later Italian marquetry does not lose decorative effect though the figure drawing becomes very conventional, and the curves of ornament are often cut with a mechanical sweep. A good deal of it is in only two colours, a return to the simplicity of earlier days.
 There were nineteen subjects, divided by channelled pilasters with a carved frieze, above a bench which ran round the circular wall from one doorpost to the other, the whole work crowned with a cornice also carved with foliated ornament. The first subject on the right was an open cupboard with architects' and joiners' tools. The second was the portrait described above. The third showed a cupboard half open, worked with a grille of pierced almond shapes and divided. "In the upper part is a naked boy, standing with a ball in his left hand, below is a large circle with a bridge within and without in the form of a diamond. Within the closed part of the grille one sees a ewer above and a basin below. The fourth is a figure of S. Ansano, half-length, below whom is the head of a man who receives baptism with joined hands, and the saint with a vase in his hand pours water on his head, holding in his right hand a standard. The fifth shows a cupboard open and shelved in the middle—above is a chalice and paten, below is a salver with fruit within and falling from it. The sixth contains an organ case with a man who, with raised head, enjoys the sweetness of the sounds, on the side of the organ are the arms of the Opera and below are the arms of the rector Arringhieri. The seventh is a cupboard half open with pierced doors, in the upper half a censer, and an incense boat, with a label above with these words, 'Dirigatur Domine oratio mea sicut incensum in conspectu tuo.' Below is the holy water pot with the sprinkler within, and with a pair of sacrament cruets. The eighth shows the figure of a man with a glory and a diadem on his head, with face and right arm raised to heaven, representing whom I do not understand; above him is a garden full of different flowers and trees. The ninth is a cupboard cut across and half open; in the upper part a label with these words 'Qui post me venit, ante me factus est. Cujus non sum dignus calceamente solvere;' below are different musical instruments, the words above are set to plain song. The tenth, that is the centre one, is a half-length of S. John Baptist with the cross in his left hand, and in the right a label with the words, 'Ecce Agnus Dei,' while with his finger he points to Christ in a figure which represents him. The eleventh shows another cupboard half open and shelved, above is a label on which are some lines of the hymn of S. John Baptist, with notes in plain song and with the name of the author above, which was Alessandro Agricola, and below is a flute and a violin with its bow. The twelfth is the figure of a young man with a label below which says, 'Johannis Baptistae discipulus.' This is generally thought to represent S. Andrew the apostle. The thirteenth is another open cupboard with a shelf. In the upper part is a chalice and more fruit, and in the lower a hollow dish with a foot also full of fruit. The fourteenth shows the half-length of a man who plays a lute, above him appears a garden with different trees. The fifteenth is a cupboard with open division, with a little gate and grating with almond shaped openings, above is a candlestick with a candle half burnt, and below is a box full of yellow tapers. The sixteenth represents S. Catherine with her wheel, half-length, disputing with the tyrant, before her is an open book on which are cut these words, 'Catharina disputationis virginitatis ac martirii palmam reportat.' The seventeenth shows a cupboard divided and half closed, with a grating like the others, above is a missal laid down, with a chalice upright, and a paten on the missal, and there are also a pair of spectacles and another paten leaning against the wall, below there is a closed book which seems to be a breviary, upon which is an open book with these words, 'Ecce mitto angelum meum ante faciem tuam, qui preparabit viam tuam ante te. Vox clamantis in deserto; parate viam Domini: rectas facite semitas ejus.' The eighteenth shows a fine gate through which one sees a garden, within which appear different trees with fruit on them, and at the bottom is a little table upon which is an inkstand with a pen and a penknife with a label which issues from the inkstand with these words, 'Alberto Aringherio operaio fabre factum.' The last panel shows an open cupboard with shelf and grating, above is a harp and below is a violin and other musical instruments. The rector Arringhieri paid 4090 scudi for the work as a matter of compromise on the valuing of Fra Giovanni da Verona. It was in so dark a place that it could not be seen except with lighted torches, and it was also damaged because it was put in a newly built place, the walls of which were not sufficiently dry to receive such delicate work." This account was written in 1786.
THE CLOISTERED INTARSIATORI AND THEIR PUPILS
The Order of the Olivetans took its rise from the piety and liberality of a Sienese noble, Bernardo Tolomei, who, with two companions, Ambrogio Piccolomini and Patricio Patrizzi, established himself as a hermit on a barren point of land at Chiusuri, some miles from Siena, in the same manner as did S. Benedict at Subiaco. This was in 1312, but the Papal charter by which the Order was founded dates from 1319. It was called "Monte Oliveto," from a vision seen by Guido Tarlati, Bishop of Arezzo, the Papal commissary, in which the Virgin ordered that the monks should have a white habit, and that the badge of the Order should be three hills surmounted by a branch of olive. It was a branch of the Benedictines, and, like them, the monks devoted their lives to useful labours. As Michele Caffi says, "The Olivetans did not strive in political or party struggles, but spent their simple lives in works of charity and industry, and showing great talent for working in wood succeeded to the heirship of the art of tarsia in coloured woods, which they got from Tuscany."
The first master of intarsia mentioned among the Olivetan monks is a certain lay brother, "laico Olivetano," who came from Tuscany in the first half of the fifteenth century, and taught the art to the monks of S. Elena, the island which lies just beyond the Public Gardens at Venice, and was so beautiful before the iron foundry was established upon it. His principal pupil was Fra Sebastiano of Rovigno, known as the "Zoppo Schiavone," the lame Slavonian, who taught Fra Giovanni da Verona and Domenico Zambello of Bergamo, Fra Damiano. Fra Giovanni, again, was master to Vincenzo dalle Vacche and Raffaello da Brescia, and perhaps to the oblate of S. Elena, Antonio Preposito, in 1493.
Fra Sebastiano da Rovigno was probably born in 1420. The register of professions and deaths at Monte Oliveto Maggiore says—"In conventu Paduae professus est sub die 15 Augusti, an 1461, fr: Sebastianus de Rovinio"; his death is shown by another extract—"Venetiis, obiit in Mon. S. Helenae, anno Domini, 1505, fr: Sebastianus de Histria, conversus" (lay brother). He was at S. Maria in Organo, in 1464-5 and 1468-9, and at S. Elena in 1479-80-81, and again from 1484 to 1494. He was also at Monte Oliveto 1466-7, 1474-5, and 1482-3, and at S. Michele in Bosco, Bologna, from 1494 till shortly before his death, in all of which places were important works in tarsia. The inscription in the corner of the sacristy at S. Elena runs thus:—"Extremus hic mortalium operum fr: Sebastianus de Ruigno Montis Oliveti, qui III. id: Sept: diem obiit, 1505." Some of his work is in the stalls and sacristy cupboards of S. Marco, signed C.S.S., or S.S.C., that is, "Converso Sebastiano Schiavone," or "Seb: Sch: converso." His pupil Fra Giovanni da Verona was one of the most celebrated of the carvers and intarsiatori, and left works in many places in Italy. He was born in Verona in 1457, and no one has been able to discover either his family name nor who his father was. When still a boy he left his native town and went into Tuscany to Monte Oliveto di Chiusuri of Siena, the principal monastery of the Olivetan order. He may perhaps have gone with Liberale of Verona, who was of about the same age, the first time he went to Monte Oliveto, in 1467, or more probably on the second occasion, in 1474, his business being to illuminate the choir books. In the administration books of that convent it is recorded that in 1467 Liberale had as assistant a certain Bernardino, and in 1474 another whose name is not mentioned. This may have been Fra Giovanni, who might then have learnt to illuminate, which was his first profession, and in which he succeeded excellently. He resolved to "profess religion" about this time, and was received as novice in the beginning of 1475. The year of noviciate being passed he made his solemn profession on March 25, 1476, and remained for about four years more in the monastery, during which time he finished his studies and became priest. In 1480 he was sent for a short time to the monastery of S. Elena, near Venice. Here he found the lay brother Fra Sebastiano da Rovigno, whom he may perhaps have known before, since they were both at Monte Oliveto in 1475. At all events he spoke to him about learning his art, and finding him willing to teach him, "set about it with so much diligence and assiduity that he was soon able to give him valuable assistance." The work was on the cupboards of the sacristy and on the backs of the choir stalls, which were 34 in number. On these the principal cities of the world, as they then were, were drawn in perspective "with great beauty and cleverness." About 1485 he went to an abbey of Olivetan monks at Villanova, a small village in lower Lombardy, where he illuminated 20 choral books with heads of saints and prophets, with very beautiful borders of flowers, fruits, and animals. These were sold by an ignorant and greedy priest for 17 zecchins, and only a few of the miniatures have been recovered, which are now kept in the sacristy. Of them, Vincenzo Sabbia, the Olivetan abbot, who was "confratello di religione" and nearly contemporary, says, when describing the abbey and its treasures in 1594, that there are there "stupendous and wonderful choral books to the number of twenty, made about the year 1485, and rare and wonderful miniatures are among the letters, like lovely flowers in a delicious garden, and many most beautiful imaginings, heads of saints and of all the ancient prophets, and other wonderful things of like kind, made and illuminated by that celebrated Fra Giovanni da Verona, around the text."