LIVES OF THE MOST EMINENT PAINTERS SCULPTORS AND ARCHITECTS BY GIORGIO VASARI VOLUME II. BERNA TO MICHELOZZO MICHELOZZI 1912
LIVES OF THE MOST EMINENT PAINTERS SCULPTORS & ARCHITECTS BY GIORGIO VASARI: NEWLY TRANSLATED BY GASTON Du C. DE VERE. WITH FIVE HUNDRED ILLUSTRATIONS: IN TEN VOLUMES
PHILIP LEE WARNER, PUBLISHER TO THE MEDICI SOCIETY, LIMITED 7 GRAFTON ST. LONDON, W. 1912-14
CONTENTS OF VOLUME II
ANTONIO VINIZIANO 13
JACOPO DI CASENTINO 21
SPINELLO ARETINO 27
GHERARDO STARNINA 41
DON LORENZO MONACO 53
TADDEO BARTOLI 59
LORENZO DI BICCI 65
THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE TO THE SECOND PART 75
JACOPO DELLA QUERCIA [JACOPO DELLA FONTE] 89
NICCOLO ARETINO [NICCOLO D'AREZZO OR NICCOLO DI PIERO LAMBERTI] 99
NANNI D'ANTONIO DI BANCO 111
LUCA DELLA ROBBIA 117
PAOLO UCCELLO 129
LORENZO GHIBERTI [LORENZO DI CIONE GHIBERTI OR LORENZO DI BARTOLUCCIO GHIBERTI] 141
MASOLINO DA PANICALE 163
PARRI SPINELLI 169
FILIPPO BRUNELLESCHI [FILIPPO DI SER BRUNELLESCO] 193
DONATO [DONATELLO] 237
MICHELOZZO MICHELOZZI 257
INDEX OF NAMES 273
ILLUSTRATIONS TO VOLUME II
PLATES IN COLOUR
FACING PAGE BERNA The Agony in the Garden San Gimignano 4
DUCCIO Central Panel: The Majestas Siena: Opera del Duomo 10
DUCCIO The Three Maries at the Siena: Opera del Duomo 10 Tomb
BERNARDO DADDI Altar-piece: Madonna and Florence: Accademia, 127 26 Child Enthroned
SPINELLO ARETINO The Death of the Virgin Siena: Pinacoteca, 125 34
DON LORENZO MONACO The Annunciation Florence: Accademia, 143 58
TADDEO BARTOLI Central Panel of Altar- Perugia: Pinacoteca 60 piece: Madonna, Child, and Angels
DOMENICO BARTOLI Madonna Orans Siena: Chapel of the Refugio 64
LORENZO DI BICCI Madonna and Child, with Empoli: Gallery 70 a Donor
PAOLO UCCELLO The Battle of San Egidio London: N. G., 583 134
MASOLINO DA PANICALE Madonna and Child Empoli: S. Stefano 166
MASACCIO The Adoration of the Magi Berlin: Kaiser Friedrich Museum, 58A 184
MASACCIO Madonna Enthroned, with Brant Broughton: Rev. A. Angel Musicians F. Sutton's Collection 190
PLATES IN MONOCHROME
BERNA Madonna and Child Asciano: S. Francesco 2
LUCA DI TOME The Assumption of the Newhaven, U.S.A.: Jarvis Virgin Collection 6
DUCCIO The Madonna Enthroned Siena: Opera del Duomo 8
DUCCIO Triptych London: N. G., 566 12
ANTONIO VINIZIANO The Return of S. Ranieri Pisa: Campo Santo 16 JACOPO DI CASENTINO Tabernacle Florence: Arte della 24 Lana SPINELLO ARETINO The Annunciation Arezzo: SS. Annunziata 32
DON LORENZO MONACO The Coronation of the Virgin Florence: Uffizi, 1309 56
TADDEO BARTOLI Polyptych Perugia: Gallery, 9 62
DONATO (DONATELLO) David Florence: Bargello 86
JACOPO DELLA Detail from the Tomb: Lucca: S. Martino 90 QUERCIA Head of Ilaria del Carretto
JACOPO DELLA QUERCIA Madonna and Child Bologna: S. Petronio 94
MATTEO CIVITALI Tomb of S. Romano Lucca: S. Romano 96
MATTEO CIVITALI Madonna and Child Lucca: Museo 98
NICCOLO ARETINO S. Mark Florence: Duomo 102
NANNI D'ANTONIO DI BANCO Madonna Della Cintola Florence: Duomo 114
LUCA DELLA ROBBIA Cantoria Florence: Opera del 118 Duomo
LUCA DELLA ROBBIA Tomb of Bishop Federighi Florence: S. Trinita 120
LUCA DELLA ROBBIA The Madonna of the Roses Florence: Bargello 122
ANDREA DELLA ROBBIA Altar-piece Arezzo: S. Maria in Grado 126
ANDREA DELLA ROBBIA The Annunciation La Verna 126
GIOVANNI DELLA The Visitation Pistoia: S. Giovanni ROBBIA Fuorcivitas 128
PAOLO UCCELLO The Deluge Florence: S. Maria 136 Novella PAOLO UCCELLO Portraits Paris: Louvre, 1272 138
LORENZO GHIBERTI S. John before Herod Siena: Baptistery 150
LORENZO GHIBERTI Detail: The Fall of Jericho Florence: Paradise Gate, the Baptistery 156
LORENZO GHIBERTI Detail: The Creation Florence: Paradise Gate, See also at p. 200 of Eve the Baptistery 156 below
MASOLINO DA PANICALE S. John the Baptist Castiglione d'Olona: Baptistery 164 MASOLINO DA PANICALE Madonna and Child Bremen: Kunsthalle 168
MASACCIO The Trinity Florence: S. Maria 186 Novella
MASACCIO The Tribute Money Florence: S. Maria 192 del Carmine
FILIPPO BRUNELLESCHI The Crucifixion Florence: S. Maria 198 Novella LORENZO GHIBERTI The Sacrifice of Florence: Bargello 200 Isaac
FILIPPO BRUNELLESCHI The Sacrifice of Florence: Bargello 200 Isaac FILIPPO BRUNELLESCHI The Dome of the Florence 216 Cathedral
FILIPPO BRUNELLESCHI The Old Sacristy of Florence 226 S. Lorenzo
DONATO (DONATELLO) Poggio Bracciolini Florence: Duomo 240
DONATO (DONATELLO) Judith Florence: Loggia 242 dei Lanzi
DONATO (DONATELLO) General Gattamelata Padua: Piazza di 246 S. Antonio
DONATO (DONATELLO) Madonna and Child Padua: S. Antonio 248
DONATO (DONATELLO) Altar Relief: The Padua: S. Antonio 250 Entombment See also at p. 86 above
MICHELOZZO MICHELOZZI Palazzo Riccardi Florence 264
. Asciano: Church of S. Francesco)
LIFE OF BERNA
PAINTER OF SIENA
If those who labour to become excellent in some art did not very often have the thread of life cut by death in their best years, I have no doubt that many intellects would arrive at that rank which is most desired both by them and by the world. But the short life of men and the bitterness of various accidents, which threaten them from all sides, snatch them from us sometimes prematurely, as could be seen in poor young Berna of Siena, who, although he died young, nevertheless left so many works that he appears to have lived very long; and those that he left were made in such a way, that it may well be believed from this showing that he would have become excellent and rare if he had not died so soon. In two chapels of S. Agostino in Siena there are seen some little pictures with figures in fresco, by his hand; and in the church, on a wall now pulled down in order to make chapels there, was a scene of a youth led to execution, as well made as it could possibly be imagined, there being seen expressed in it the pallor and fear of death, in so lifelike a manner that he deserved therefore the highest praise. Beside the said youth was a friar painted in a very fine attitude, and, in short, everything in that work is so vividly wrought that it appears, indeed, that in this work Berna imagined this event as most horrible, as it must be, and full of most bitter and cruel terror, seeing that he portrayed it so well with the brush that the same scene appearing in reality would not stir greater emotion.
In the city of Cortona, also, besides many other works scattered in many places in that city, he painted the greater part of the vaulting and of the walls of the Church of S. Margherita, where to-day is the seat of the Frati Zoccolanti. From Cortona he went to Arezzo in the year 1369, exactly when the Tarlati, formerly Lords of Pietramala, had caused Moccio, a sculptor and architect of Siena, to finish the Convent and the body of the Church of S. Agostino in that city, in the lesser aisles of which many citizens had caused chapels and tombs to be made for their families; and there, in the Chapel of S. Jacopo, Berna painted in fresco some little scenes of the life of that Saint, and especially vivid is the story of Marino the swindler, who, having by reason of greed of gold given his soul to the Devil and made thereunto a written contract in his own hand, is making supplication to the Saint to free him from this promise, while a Devil, showing him the contract, is pressing him with the greatest insistence in the world. In all these figures Berna expressed the emotions of the mind with much vivacity, and particularly in the face of Marino, which shows on one side fear, and on the other the faith and trust that make him hope for his liberation from S. James, although opposite there is seen the Devil, hideous to a marvel, who is warmly speaking and declaring his rights to the Saint, who, after having instilled into Marino extreme penitence for his sin and for the promise made, is liberating him and leading him back to God. This same story, says Lorenzo Ghiberti, by the hand of the same man, was in a chapel of the Capponi, dedicated to S. Nicholas, in S. Spirito at Florence, before that church was burnt down. After this work, then, Berna painted a great Crucifix in a chapel of the Vescovado of Arezzo for Messer Guccio di Vanni Tarlati da Pietramala, and at the foot of the Cross a Madonna, S. John the Evangelist, and S. Francis, in most sorrowful attitudes, together with a S. Michelagnolo, with so much diligence that it merits no small praise, and above all by reason of having been so well preserved that it appears made only yesterday. Below, moreover, is the portrait of the said Guccio, kneeling in armour at the foot of the Cross. In the Pieve of the same city, in the Chapel of the Paganelli, he painted many stories of Our Lady, and portrayed there after the life the Blessed Rinieri, a holy man and prophet of that house, who is giving alms to many beggars who are round him. In S. Bartolommeo, also, he painted some stories of the Old Testament and the story of the Magi; and in the Church of Spirito Santo he painted some stories of S. John the Evangelist, and in certain figures the portrait of himself and of many of his friends, nobles of that city.
Returning after these works to his own country, he made on wood many pictures both small and great; but he made no long stay there, because, being summoned to Florence, he painted in S. Spirito the Chapel of S. Niccolo, which we have mentioned above, and which was much extolled, and other works that were consumed in the miserable burning of that church. In the Pieve of San Gimignano in Valdelsa he wrought in fresco some stories of the New Testament, which he had already very nearly brought to completion, when, falling by a strange accident from his scaffolding to the ground, he bruised himself internally in such a manner, and injured himself so grievously, that in the space of two days, with greater loss to art than to himself, who went to a better place, he passed from this life. And the people of San Gimignano, honouring him much in the way of obsequies, gave to his body honourable burial in the aforesaid Pieve, holding him after death in the same repute wherein they had held him in life, and not ceasing for many months to attach round his tomb epitaphs both Latin and Italian, by reason of the men of that country being naturally given to fine letters. So, then, they conferred a suitable reward on the honest labours of Berna, celebrating with their pens him who had honoured them with his pictures.
Giovanni da Asciano, who was a pupil of Berna, brought to completion the remainder of that work; and he painted some pictures in the Hospital of the Scala at Siena, and also some others in the old houses of the Medici at Florence, which gave him considerable fame. The works of Berna of Siena date about 1381. And because, besides what has been said, Berna was passing dexterous in draughtsmanship and was the first who began to portray animals well, as bears witness a drawing by his hand that is in our book, all full of wild beasts of diverse sorts, he deserves to be consummately praised and to have his name held in honour by craftsmen. His disciple, too, was Luca di Tome of Siena, who painted many works in Siena and throughout all Tuscany, and in particular the panel and the chapel that are in S. Domenico at Arezzo, belonging to the family of the Dragomanni; which chapel, German in architecture, was very well adorned, by means of the said panel and of the work that is therein in fresco, by the hand and by the judgment and genius of Luca of Siena.
LIFE OF DUCCIO
PAINTER OF SIENA
Without doubt those who are inventors of anything notable receive the greatest attention from the pens of the writers of history, and this comes to pass because the first inventions are more observed and held in greater marvel, by reason of the delight that the novelty of the thing brings with it, than all the improvements made afterwards by any man whatsoever when works are brought to the height of perfection, for the reason that if a beginning were never given to anything, there would be no advance and improvement in the middle stages, and the end would not become excellent and of a marvellous beauty. Duccio, then, painter of Siena and much esteemed, deserved to carry off the palm from those who came many years after him, since in the pavement of the Duomo of Siena he made a beginning in marble for the inlaid work of the figures in chiaroscuro, wherein to-day modern craftsmen have made the marvels that are seen in them. He applied himself to the imitation of the old manner, and with very sane judgment gave dignified forms to his figures, which he fashioned very excellently in spite of the difficulties of such an art. With his own hand, imitating the pictures in chiaroscuro, he arranged and designed the beginnings of the said pavement, and he made in the Duomo a panel that was then placed on the high-altar, and afterwards removed thence in order to place there the Tabernacle of the Body of Christ, which is seen there at the present day. In this panel, according to the description of Lorenzo di Bartolo Ghiberti, there was a Coronation of Our Lady, wrought, as it were, in the Greek manner, but blended considerably with the modern. And as it was painted both on the back part and on the front, the said high-altar being isolated right round, on the said back part there had been made by Duccio with much diligence all the principal stories of the New Testament, with very beautiful little figures. I have sought to learn where this panel is to be found to-day, but, for all the diligence that I have thereunto used, I have never been able to discover it, or to learn what Francesco di Giorgio, the sculptor, did with it when he remade the said tabernacle in bronze, as well as the marble ornaments that are therein.
He made, likewise, many panels on grounds of gold throughout Siena, and one in Florence, in S. Trinita, wherein there is an Annunciation. He painted, next, very many works for diverse churches in Pisa, in Lucca, and in Pistoia, which were all consummately praised and acquired for him very great fame and profit. Finally, it is not known where this Duccio died, nor what relatives, disciples, or wealth he left; it is enough that, for having left art the heir to his invention of making pictures of marble in chiaroscuro, he deserves infinite commendation and praise for such a benefit to art, and that he can be assuredly numbered among the benefactors who confer advancement and adornment on our profession, considering that those who go on investigating the difficulties of rare inventions leave their memory behind them, besides all their marvellous works.
They say in Siena that Duccio, in the year 1348, gave the design for the chapel that is in the square, against the wall of the Palazzo Principale; and it is read that there lived in his times a sculptor and architect of passing good talent from the same country, named Moccio, who made many works throughout all Tuscany, and particularly one in the Church of S. Domenico in Arezzo, namely, a tomb of marble for one of the Cerchi, which tomb acts as support and ornament for the organ of the said church; and although it may appear to some that it is not a very excellent work, yet, if it is considered that he made it while still a youth, in the year 1356, it cannot but seem passing good. This man served in the building of S. Maria del Fiore as under-architect and as sculptor, making certain works in marble for that fabric; and in Arezzo he rebuilt the Church of S. Agostino, which was small, in the manner that it is to-day, and the expense was borne by the heirs of Piero Saccone de' Tarlati, according as he had ordained before he died in Bibbiena, a place in the Casentino; and because Moccio erected this church without any vaulting, and laid the weight of the roof on the arches of the columns, he exposed himself to a great peril and was truly too bold. The same man made the Church and Convent of S. Antonio, which, before the siege of Florence, was at the Porta a Faenza, and to-day is wholly ruined; and he wrought in sculpture the door of S. Agostino in Ancona, with many figures and ornaments similar to those which are on the door of S. Francesco in the same city. In this Church of S. Agostino he also made the tomb of Fra Zenone Vigilanti, Bishop, and General of the Order of the said S. Augustine; and finally, he built the Loggia de' Mercatanti of that city, which has since received, now for one reason and now for another, many improvements in the modern manner, with ornaments of various sorts. All these works, although they are in these days much less than passable, were then much extolled, according to the standard of knowledge of these men. But returning to our Duccio, his works date about the year of our salvation 1350.
LIFE OF ANTONIO VINIZIANO
Many who would fain stay in the country where they are born, being torn by the tooth of envy and oppressed by the tyranny of their fellow-citizens, take themselves off, and choosing for country those places where they find that their talent is recognized and rewarded, they make their works therein; and striving to become very excellent in order to put to shame, in some sort, those by whom they have been outraged, they become very often great men, whereas, by staying quietly in their country, they would peradventure have had little more than a mediocre success in their arts. Antonio Viniziano, who betook himself to Florence in the wake of Agnolo Gaddi in order to learn painting, grasped the good method of working so well that he was not only esteemed and loved by the Florentines, but also greatly cherished by reason of this talent and of his other good qualities. Whereupon, being seized by a wish to show himself in his own city in order to enjoy some fruit of the fatigues endured by him, he returned to Venice, where, having made himself known by many works wrought in fresco and in distemper, he was commissioned by the Signoria to paint one of the walls of the Council Chamber. This he executed so excellently and with so great majesty that, according to his merit, he would have obtained an honourable reward; but the emulation, or rather, the envy of the craftsmen, and the favour that some gentlemen showed to other painters from abroad, caused the affair to fall out otherwise. Wherefore the poor Antonio, finding himself thus crushed and overborne, took the wiser part and returned to Florence, with the intention never again to consent to return to Venice, and determined once and for all that his country should be Florence. Establishing himself, then, in that city, he painted in the cloister of S. Spirito, in a little arch, a Christ who is calling Peter and Andrew from their nets, and Zebedee and his sons; and below the three little arches of Stefano he painted the story of the miracle of Christ with the loaves and fishes, wherein he showed infinite diligence and lovingness, as it is clearly seen in the figure of Christ Himself, who, in the air of His countenance and in His aspect, is showing the compassion that He has for the multitude, and the ardour of the love wherewith He is causing the bread to be dispensed. Great affection, likewise, is seen in the very beautiful action of an Apostle, who is exerting himself greatly in dispensing the bread from a basket. From this work all who belong to art learn ever to paint their figures in a manner that they may appear to be speaking, for otherwise they are not prized. Antonio demonstrated the same thing on the outer frontal in a little scene of the Manna, wrought with so great diligence, and finished with so fine grace, that it can be truly called excellent. Afterwards, in S. Stefano al Ponte Vecchio, on the predella of the high-altar, he made some stories of S. Stephen, with so great lovingness that it is not possible to see either more gracious or more beautiful figures, even if they were done in miniature. In S. Antonio al Ponte alla Carraja, moreover, he painted the arch over the door, which, with the whole church, was thrown to the ground in our own day by Monsignor Ricasoli, Bishop of Pistoia, because it took away the view from his houses; although, even if he had not done this, we should to-day, in any case, be deprived of that work, the late flood of 1557, as it has been said before, having carried away on that side two arches and the abutment of the bridge on which was built the said little Church of S. Antonio.
Antonio, being summoned after these works to Pisa by the Warden of Works of the Campo Santo, continued therein the painting of the stories of the Blessed Ranieri, a holy man of that city, formerly begun by Simone Sanese, following his arrangement. In the first part of the work painted by Antonio there is seen, in company with the said Ranieri when he is embarking in order to return to Pisa, a good number of figures wrought with diligence, among which is the portrait of Count Gaddo, who died ten years before, and that of Neri, his uncle, once Lord of Pisa. Among the said figures, also, that of a maniac is very notable, for, with the features of madness, with the person writhing in distorted gestures, the eyes blazing, and the mouth gnashing and showing the teeth, it resembles a real maniac so greatly that it is not possible to imagine either a more lifelike picture or one more true to nature. In the next part, which is beside that named above, three figures (who are marvelling to see the Blessed Ranieri showing the Devil, in the form of a cat on a barrel, to a fat host, who has the air of a gay companion, and who, all fearful, is commending himself to the Saint) can be said to be truly very beautiful, being very well executed in the attitudes, the manner of the draperies, the variety of the heads, and all the other parts. Not far away are the host's womenfolk, and they, too, could not be wrought with more grace, Antonio having made them with certain tucked-up garments and with certain ways so peculiar to women who serve in hostelries, that nothing better can be imagined. Nor could that scene likewise be more pleasing than it is, wherein the Canons of the Duomo of Pisa, in very beautiful vestments of those times, no little different from those that are used to-day and very graceful, are receiving S. Ranieri at table, all the figures being made with much consideration. Next, in the painting of the death of the said Saint, he expressed very well not only the effect of weeping, but also the movement of certain angels who are bearing his soul to Heaven, surrounded by a light most resplendent and made with beautiful invention. And truly one cannot but marvel as one sees, in the bearing of the body of that Saint by the clergy to the Duomo, certain priests who are singing, for in their gestures, in the actions of their persons, and in all their movements, as they chant diverse parts, they bear a marvellous resemblance to a choir of singers; and in that scene, so it is said, is the portrait of the Bavarian. In like manner, the miracles that Ranieri wrought as he was borne to his tomb, and those that he wrought in another place when already laid to rest therein in the Duomo, were painted with very great diligence by Antonio, who made there blind men receiving their sight, paralytics regaining the use of their members, men possessed by the Devil being delivered, and other miracles, all represented very vividly. But among all the other figures, that of a dropsical man deserves to be considered with marvel, for the reason that, with the face withered, with the lips shrivelled, and with the body swollen, he is such that a living man could not show more than does this picture the very great thirst of the dropsical and the other effects of that malady. A wonderful thing, too, in those times, was a ship that he made in this work, which, being in travail in a tempest, was saved by that Saint; for he made therein with great vivacity all the actions of the mariners, and everything which is wont to befall in such accidents and travailings. Some are casting into the insatiable sea, without a thought, the precious merchandize won by so much sweat and labour, others are running to see to their vessel, which is breaking up, and others, finally, to other mariners' duties, whereof it would take too long to relate the whole; it is enough to say that all are made with so great vividness and beautiful method that it is a marvel. In the same place, below the lives of the Holy Fathers painted by Pietro Laurati of Siena, Antonio made the body of the Blessed Oliverio (together with the Abbot Panuzio, and many events of their lives), in a sarcophagus painted to look like marble; which figure is very well painted. In short, all these works that Antonio made in the Campo Santo are such that they have been universally held, and with great reason, the best of all those that have been wrought by many excellent masters at various times in that place, for the reason that, besides the particulars mentioned, the fact that he painted everything in fresco, never retouching any part on the dry, brought it about that up to our day they have remained so vivid in the colouring that they can teach the followers of that art and make them understand how greatly the retouching of works in fresco with other colours, after they are dry, causes injury to their pictures and labours, as it has been said in the treatise on Theory; for it is a very certain fact that they are aged, and not allowed to be purified by time, by being covered with colours that have a different body, being tempered with gums, with tragacanths, with eggs, with size, or some other similar substance, which tarnishes what is below, and does not allow the course of time and the air to purify that which has been truly wrought in fresco on the soft plaster, as they would have done if other colours had not been superimposed on the dry.
[Footnote 1: I.e., Emperor.]
Having finished this work, which, being truly worthy of all praise, brought him honourable payment from the Pisans, who loved him greatly ever afterwards, Antonio returned to Florence, where, at Nuovoli without the Porta a Prato, he painted in a shrine, for Giovanni degli Agli, a Dead Christ, the story of the Magi with many figures, and a very beautiful Day of Judgment. Summoned, next, to the Certosa, he painted for the Acciaiuoli, who built that place, the panel of the high-altar, which was consumed by fire in our day by reason of the inadvertence of a sacristan of that monastery, who left the thurible full of fire hanging from the altar, wherefore the panel was burnt, and afterwards the altar was made by those monks, as it stands to-day, entirely of marble. In that same place, also, the same master made in fresco, over a wardrobe that is in the said chapel, a Transfiguration of Christ which is very beautiful. And because he studied the science of herbs in Dioscorides, being much inclined thereunto by nature, and delighting to understand the property and virtue of each one of them, at last he abandoned painting and gave himself to the distilling of simples and to seeking them out with all diligence. Changing thus from painter to physician, for a long time he followed this art. Finally, falling sick from disease of the stomach, or, as others say, from plague caught while acting as physician, he finished the course of his life at the age of seventy-four, in the year 1384, when there was a very great plague in Florence, having been no less expert as physician than he was diligent as painter; wherefore, having made infinite experiments in medicine by means of those who had availed themselves of him in their necessities, he left to the world a very good name for himself in both one and the other of these arts. Antonio drew very graciously with the pen, and so well in chiaroscuro, that some drawings by him which are in our book, wherein he made the little arch of S. Spirito, are the best of those times. A disciple of Antonio was Gherardo Starnina, the Florentine, who imitated him greatly; and Paolo Uccello, who was likewise his disciple, did him no small honour.
The portrait of Antonio Viniziano, by his own hand, is in the Campo Santo in Pisa.
JACOPO DI CASENTINO
LIFE OF JACOPO DI CASENTINO
Now that the fame and the renown of the pictures of Giotto and his disciples had been heard for many years, many, desirous of acquiring fame and riches by means of the art of painting, and animated by zealous aspirations and by the inclination of nature, began to advance towards the improvement of the art, with a firm belief that, exercising themselves therein, they would surpass in excellence both Giotto and Taddeo and the other painters. Among these was one Jacopo di Casentino, who, being born, as it is read, of the family of Messer Cristoforo Landino of Pratovecchio, was apprenticed by a friar of the Casentino, then Prior at the Sasso della Vernia, to Taddeo Gaddi, while Taddeo was working in that convent, to the end that he might learn drawing and colouring in the art, wherein in a few years he succeeded so well that, betaking himself to Florence and executing many works in company with Giovanni da Milano in the service of Taddeo their master, he was made to paint the shrine of the Madonna of the Mercato Vecchio, with the panel in distemper, and likewise the one at the corner of the Piazza di S. Niccolo and the Via del Cocomero, which were restored a few years ago, both one and the other, by a worse master than was Jacopo; and for the Dyers he painted that which is in S. Nofri, at the corner of the wall of their garden, opposite to S. Giuseppe. In the meanwhile, the vaults of Orsanmichele over the twelve piers having been brought to a finish, a low rustic roof was placed upon them, in order to pursue as soon as might be possible the building of that palace, which was to be the granary of the Commune; and it was given to Jacopo di Casentino, as a person then much practised, to paint these vaults, with instructions that he should make there, as he did, together with the patriarchs, some prophets and the chiefs of the tribes, which were in all sixteen figures on a ground of ultramarine, to-day half spoilt, not to mention the other ornaments. Next, on the walls below and on the piers, he made many miracles of the Madonna, and other works that are recognized by the manner.
This work finished, Jacopo returned to the Casentino, and after he had made many works in Pratovecchio, in Poppi, and other places in that valley, he betook himself to Arezzo, which then governed itself with the counsel of sixty of its richest and most honoured citizens, to whose care was committed the whole administration. There, in the principal chapel of the Vescovado, he painted a story of S. Martin, and in the Duomo Vecchio, now in ruins, a number of pictures, among which was the portrait of Pope Innocent VI, in the principal chapel. Next, in the Church of S. Bartolommeo, for the Chapter of the Canons of the Pieve, he painted the wall where the high-altar is, and the Chapel of S. Maria della Neve; and in the old Company of S. Giovanni de' Peducci he made many stories of that Saint, which to-day are covered with whitewash. In the Church of S. Domenico, likewise, he painted the Chapel of S. Cristofano, portraying there from nature the Blessed Masuolo, who is liberating from prison a merchant of the Fei family, who caused that chapel to be built; which Blessed Masuolo, as prophet, predicted many misadventures to the Aretines in his lifetime. In the Church of S. Agostino, in the chapel and on the altar of the Nardi, he painted in fresco some stories of S. Laurence, with marvellous manner and execution.
And because he exercised himself also in the things of architecture, by order of the sixty aforesaid citizens he reconducted under the walls of Arezzo the water that comes from the foot of the hill of Pori, three hundred braccia distant from the city. This water, in the time of the Romans, had been brought first to the theatre, whereof the remains are still there, and from that theatre, which was on the hill where to-day there is the fortress, to the amphitheatre of the same city, on the plain; but these edifices and conduits were wholly ruined and spoilt by the Goths. Jacopo, then, as it has been said, having brought this water below the walls, made the fountain which was then called the Fonte Guizianelli, and which is now named, by the corruption of the word, the Fonte Viniziana; this work endured from that time, which was the year 1354, up to the year 1527, and no more, for the reason that the plague of that year, the war that came afterwards, the fact that many intercepted the water at their own convenience for the use of their gardens, and still more the fact that Jacopo did not sink it, brought it about that to-day it is not, as it should be, standing.
The while that the aqueduct was going on being built, Jacopo, not leaving aside his painting, wrought many scenes from the acts of Bishop Guido and Piero Sacconi in the palace that was in the old citadel, now in ruins; for these men, both in peace and in war, had done great and honourable deeds for that city. In the Pieve, likewise, below the organ, he wrought the story of S. Matthew and many other works. And so, making works with his own hand throughout the whole city, he showed to Spinello Aretino the principles of that art which was taught to him by Agnolo, and which Spinello taught afterwards to Bernardo Daddi, who, working in his own city, honoured it with many beautiful works of painting, which, together with his other most noble qualities, brought it about that he was much honoured by his fellow-citizens, who employed him much in magistracies and in other public affairs. The paintings of Bernardo were many and in much esteem, and above all the Chapel of S. Lorenzo and of S. Stefano, belonging to the Pulci and Berardi, in S. Croce, and many other paintings in diverse places in the said church. Finally, having made some pictures over the gates of the city of Florence on the inner side, he died, laden with years, and was given honourable burial in S. Felicita, in the year 1380.
But returning to Jacopo; besides what has been told, in his time, in the year 1350, there was founded the Company and Confraternity of Painters; for the masters who were then living, both those of the old Greek manner and those of the new manner of Cimabue, being a great number, and reflecting that the arts of design had had their new birth in Tuscany—nay rather, in Florence itself—created the said Company under the name and protection of S. Luke the Evangelist, both in order to render praise and thanks to God in its oratory, and also to come together sometimes and to give succour, in spiritual matters as well as in temporal, to anyone who on occasion might have need of it; which custom is also in use among many Guilds in Florence, but was much more so in ancient times. Their first oratory was the principal chapel of the Hospital of S. Maria Nuova, which was conceded to them by the family of the Portinari. And those who were the first governors of the said Company, with the title of captains, were six, besides two counsellors and two treasurers, as it may be seen in the old book of the said Company, begun at that time, whereof the first chapter begins thus: "These articles and ordinances were drawn up and made by good and discreet men of the Guild of Painters in Florence, and at the time of Lapo Gucci, painter; Vanni Cinuzzi, painter; Corsino Buonaiuti, painter; Pasquino Cenni, painter; Segna d'Antignano, painter. The counsellors were Bernardo Daddi and Jacopo di Casentino, painters; and the treasurers, Consiglio Gherardi and Domenico Pucci, painters."
The said Company being created in this way, at the request of the captains and of the others Jacopo di Casentino painted the panel of their chapel, making therein a S. Luke who is portraying Our Lady in a picture, and on one side of the predella the men of the Company, and on the other all the women, kneeling. From this beginning, sometimes assembling and sometimes not, this Company has continued up to its arrival at the condition wherein it stands to-day, as it is narrated in its new articles, approved by the most Illustrious Lord Duke Cosimo, most benign protector of these arts of design.
Finally, being heavy with years and much fatigued, Jacopo returned to the Casentino, and died in Pratovecchio at the age of eighty, and was buried by his relatives and friends in S. Agnolo, the Abbey of the Order of Camaldoli, without Pratovecchio. His portrait, by the hand of Spinello, was in the Duomo Vecchio, in a story of the Magi; and of the manner of his drawing there is an example in our book.
LIFE OF SPINELLO ARETINO
Luca Spinelli having gone to dwell in Arezzo on one of the several occasions when the Ghibellines were driven out of Florence, there was born to him in that city a son, to whom he gave the name of Spinello, so much inclined by nature to be a painter, that almost without a master, while still a boy, he knew what many exercised under the discipline of the best masters do not know; and what is more, having had friendship with Jacopo di Casentino while he worked in Arezzo, and having learnt something from him, before he was twenty years of age he was by a long way a much better master, young as he was, than was Jacopo himself, already an old painter. Spinello, then, began to be reputed a good painter, and Messer Dardano Acciaiuoli, having caused the Church of S. Niccolo to be built near the Sala del Papa, behind S. Maria Novella, in the Via della Scala, and having given burial therein to one his brother, a Bishop, caused him to paint the whole of that church in fresco with stories of S. Nicholas, Bishop of Bari; and he delivered it completely finished in the year 1334, having been at work on it two years without ceasing. In this work Spinello acquitted himself so well, both in the colouring and in the design, that up to our own day the colours had remained very well preserved and the excellence of the figures was clearly visible, when, a few years since, they were in great part spoilt by a fire that burst out unexpectedly in that church, which had been unwisely filled with straw by some foolish men who made use of it as a barn or storehouse for straw. Attracted by the fame of this work, Messer Barone Capelli, citizen of Florence, caused Spinello to paint in fresco, in the principal chapel of S. Maria Maggiore, many stories of the Madonna and some of S. Anthony the Abbot, and near these the consecration of that very ancient church, consecrated by Pope Paschal, second of that name; and all this Spinello wrought so well that it appears made all in one day, and not in many months, as it was. Beside the said Pope is the portrait of Messer Barone himself from the life, in the dress of those times, made very well and with very good judgment. This chapel finished, Spinello painted in fresco, in the Church of the Carmine, the Chapel of S. James and S. John, the Apostles, wherein, among other things, there is wrought with much diligence the scene when the wife of Zebedee, mother of James, is demanding of Jesus Christ that He should cause one of her sons to sit on the right hand of the Father in the Kingdom of Heaven, and the other on the left; and a little beyond are seen Zebedee, James, and John abandoning their nets and following Christ, with liveliness and admirable manner. In another chapel of the same church, which is beside the principal chapel, Spinello made, also in fresco, some stories of the Madonna, and the Apostles appearing to her miraculously before her death, and likewise the moment when she dies and is then borne to Heaven by the Angels. And because the scene was large and the diminutive chapel, which was not longer than ten braccia and not higher than five, would not contain the whole, and above all the Assumption of Our Lady herself, Spinello, with beautiful judgment, caused it to curve round within the length of the picture, on to a part where Christ and the Angels are receiving her. In a chapel in S. Trinita he made in fresco a very beautiful Annunciation; and in the Church of S. Apostolo, on the panel of the high-altar, he made in distemper the Holy Spirit being sent down on the Apostles in tongues of fire. In S. Lucia de' Bardi, likewise, he painted a little panel, and another in S. Croce, larger, for the Chapel of S. Giovanni Battista, which was painted by Giotto.
After these works, being recalled to Arezzo by the sixty citizens who governed that place, by reason of the great name that he had acquired while working in Florence, he was made by the Commune to paint the story of the Magi in the Church of the Duomo Vecchio, without the city, and, in the Chapel of S. Gismondo, a S. Donatus who is slaying a serpent with his benediction. In like manner, he made diverse figures on many pilasters in that Duomo, and, on a wall, the Magdalene anointing the feet of Christ in the house of Simon; with other pictures, whereof there is no need to make mention, since that church, which was full of tombs, of bones of saints, and of other memorable things, is to-day wholly ruined. I will say, indeed, to the end that there may at least remain this memory of it, that it was erected by the Aretines more than thirteen hundred years since, at the time when first they came into the faith of Jesus Christ, converted by S. Donatus, who was afterwards Bishop of that city; and that it was dedicated to his name, and richly adorned, both within and without, with very ancient spoils. The ground-plan of this edifice, whereof we have discoursed at length in another place, was divided without into sixteen sides, and within into eight, and all were full of the spoils of those temples which before had been dedicated to the idols; and it was, in short, as beautiful as a temple thus made and very ancient can be, when it was destroyed.
After the many pictures made in the Duomo, Spinello painted in S. Francesco, in the Chapel of the Marsuppini, Pope Honorius confirming and approving the Order of that Saint, and made there from nature the portrait of Innocent IV, from whatsoever source he had it. He painted also in the same church, in the Chapel of S. Michelagnolo, many stories of him, in the place where the bells are rung; and a little below, in the Chapel of Messer Giuliano Baccio, an Annunciation, with other figures, which are much praised; all which works made in this church were wrought in fresco, with very resolute handling, from 1334 up to 1338. Next, in the Pieve of the same city, he painted the Chapel of S. Pietro e S. Paolo, and below it, that of S. Michelagnolo; and, for the Confraternity of S. Maria della Misericordia, he painted in fresco, on the same side of the church, the Chapel of S. Jacopo e S. Filippo; and over the principal door of the Confraternity, which opens on to the square—namely, on the arch—he painted a Pieta, with a S. John, at the request of the Rectors of that Confraternity, which had its origin in the following way. A certain number of good and honourable citizens had begun to go about collecting alms for the poor who were ashamed to beg, and to succour them in all their needs: and in the year of the plague of 1348, by reason of the great name acquired by these good men for the Confraternity in assisting the poor and the sick, in burying the dead, and in doing other similar works of charity, so many were the legacies, the donations, and the inheritances that were left to it, that it inherited the third of the riches of Arezzo; and the same came to pass in the year 1383, when there was likewise a great plague. Spinello, then, belonging to this Company, it was often his turn to visit the sick, to bury the dead, and to do other similar pious exercises, such as the best citizens of that city have ever done and still do to-day; and in order to make some memorial of this in his pictures, he painted for that Company, on the facade of the Church of S. Laurentino e S. Pergentino, a Madonna who, having her mantle open in front, has under it the people of Arezzo, among whom are portrayed from life many of the chief men of the Confraternity, with their wallets on their shoulders and with wooden hammers in their hands, like to those that they use for knocking at the doors when they go seeking alms. In like manner, for the Company of the Annunciation he painted the great shrine that is without the church, and part of a portico that is opposite to it, and the panel of that Company, wherein there is likewise an Annunciation in distemper. A work of Spinello's, likewise, is the panel which is now in the Church of the Nuns of S. Giusto, wherein a little Christ, who is in the arms of His mother, is marrying S. Catherine, together with six little scenes, with small figures, of her acts; and it is much praised.
Being next summoned to the famous Abbey of Camaldoli in the Casentino, in the year 1361, he made for the hermits of that place the panel of the high-altar, which was removed in the year 1539, when, that church having been just rebuilt completely anew, Giorgio Vasari made a new panel, and painted in fresco the whole of the principal chapel of that abbey, and the tramezzo of the church, also in fresco, and two other panels. Summoned thence to Florence by Don Jacopo d'Arezzo, Abbot of S. Miniato sul Monte, of the Order of Monte Oliveto, Spinello painted on the vaulting and on the four walls of the sacristy of that monastery, besides the panel in distemper for the altar, many scenes in fresco of the life of S. Benedict, with great mastery and with much vivacity of colouring, learnt by him by means of long practice and of labouring continually with zeal and diligence, even as in truth all must do who wish to acquire any art perfectly.
[Footnote 2: See note on p. 57, Vol. I.]
After these works, the said Abbot departed from Florence, having been made Governor of the Monastery of S. Bernardo, of the same Order, in his own country, precisely when the building was almost wholly finished on the site conceded by the Aretines to those monks, just where there was the Colosseum; and he caused Spinello to paint in fresco two chapels that are beside the principal chapel, and two others that are one on either side of the door that leads into the choir, in the tramezzo of the church. In one of these, which is beside the principal chapel, is an Annunciation in fresco, made with very great diligence, and on a wall beside it is the Madonna ascending the steps of the Temple, accompanied by Joachim and Anna. In the other chapel is a Christ Crucified, with the Madonna and S. John, who are bewailing Him, and a S. Bernard kneeling, who is adoring Him. He made, also, on that inner wall of the church where there is the altar of Our Lady, the Virgin herself with her Son in her arms, which was held a very beautiful figure; together with many others that he made for that church, over the choir of which he painted Our Lady, S. Mary Magdalene, and S. Bernard, very vividly. In the Pieve of Arezzo, likewise, in the Chapel of S. Bartolommeo, he made many scenes of the life of that Saint; and opposite to it, in the other aisle, in the Chapel of S. Matteo (which is below the organ, and was painted by Jacopo di Casentino, his master), he made in certain medallions on the vaulting—besides many stories of that Saint, which are passing good—the four Evangelists in a bizarre manner, seeing that, making the busts and members human, he gave to S. John the head of an eagle, to Mark the head of a lion, to Luke that of an ox, and to Matthew alone the face of a man, or rather, of an angel.
[Footnote 3: See note on p. 57, Vol. I.]
Without Arezzo, also, in the Church of S. Stefano, erected by the Aretines on many columns of granite and of marble in order to honour and to preserve the memory of many martyrs who were put to death by Julian the Apostate on that spot, he painted many figures and scenes, with infinite diligence, and with such a manner of colouring that they had remained very fresh up to our own day, when, not many years since, they were ruined. But what was marvellous in that place, besides the stories of S. Stephen made with figures larger than life, was to see Joseph, in a story of the Magi, beside himself with joy at the coming of those Kings, on whom he was gazing with most beautiful manner, while they were opening their vessels full of treasures and were offering them to him. A Madonna in that same church, who is handing a rose to the Infant Christ, was and still is held in so great veneration among the Aretines, as being a very beautiful and devout figure, that without regard for any difficulty or expense, when the Church of S. Stefano was thrown to the ground, they cut the wall away round her, and, binding it together ingeniously, they bore her into the city and placed her in a little church, in order to honour her, as they do, with the same devotion that they showed to her before. Nor should this appear anything wonderful, because, it having been something peculiar and natural to Spinello to give to his figures a certain simple grace, which has much of the modest and the saintly, it appears that the figures that he made of saints, and above all of the Virgin, breathe out a certain quality of the saintly and the divine, which moves men to hold them in supreme reverence; as it may be seen, apart from the said figure, in the Madonna that is on the Canto degli Albergotti, and in that which is on an outer wall of the Pieve in the Seteria, and in one of the same sort, likewise, that is on the Canto del Canale.
By the hand of Spinello, also, on a wall of the Hospital of Spirito Santo, is a scene of the Apostles receiving the Holy Spirit, which is very beautiful; and so, too, are the two scenes below, wherein S. Cosimo and S. Damiano are cutting off a sound leg from a dead Moor, in order to attach it to a sick man, from whom they had cut off one that was mortified; and likewise the very beautiful "Noli me tangere," which is between those two works. In the Company of the Puraccioli, on the Piazza di S. Agostino, in a chapel, he made an Annunciation very well coloured, and in the cloister of that convent he wrought in fresco a Madonna, a S. James, and a S. Anthony; and he portrayed there a soldier in armour on his knees, with these words: HOC OPUS FECIT FIERI CLEMENS PUCCI DE MONTE CATINO, CUJUS CORPUS JACET HIC, ETC. ANNO DOMINI 1367, DIE 15 MENSIS MAII. Likewise, with regard to the chapel that is in that church, with paintings of S. Anthony and other Saints, it is known by the manner that they are by the hand of Spinello, who, shortly afterwards, working in the Hospital of S. Marco (which is to-day the Monastery of the Nuns of S. Croce, by reason of their monastery, which was without the city, having been thrown to the ground), painted a whole portico with many figures, and portrayed there Pope Gregory IX from nature, to represent S. Gregory the Pope, who is standing beside a Misericordia.
The Chapel of S. Jacopo e S. Filippo, which is in S. Domenico in the same city, just as one enters the church, was wrought in fresco by Spinello with beautiful and resolute handling, as was also the half-length of S. Anthony painted on the facade of his church, so beautiful that he appears alive, in the midst of four scenes of his life; which same scenes, with many more also of the life of S. Anthony, likewise by the hand of Spinello, are in the Church of S. Giustino, in the Chapel of S. Antonio. In the Church of S. Lorenzo, on one side, he made some stories of the Madonna, and without the church he painted her seated, showing great grace in this work in fresco. In a little hospital opposite to the Nunnery of S. Spirito, near the gate that leads to Rome, he painted a portico entirely by his own hand, showing, in a Christ lying dead in the lap of the Maries, so great genius and judgment in painting, that he is recognized to have proved himself the peer of Giotto in design, and to have surpassed him by a long way in colouring. In the same place, also, he represented Christ seated, with a theological significance very ingeniously contrived, having placed the Trinity within a sun in such wise that from each of the three figures there are seen issuing the same rays and the same splendour. But to this work, to the great loss, truly, of the lovers of this art, there has befallen the same thing as to many others, for it was thrown to the ground in fortifying the city. Without the Church of the Company of the Trinita there is seen a shrine wrought very well in fresco by Spinello, containing the Trinity, S. Peter, and S. Cosimo and S. Damiano clothed in such garments as physicians used to wear in those times.
The while that these works were in progress, Don Jacopo d'Arezzo was made General of the Congregation of Monte Oliveto, nineteen years after he had caused many works to be wrought in Florence and in Arezzo, as it has been said above, by our Spinello; and living, according to the custom of these dignitaries, at Monte Oliveto Maggiore di Chiusuri in the district of Siena, as the most honoured seat of that Order, he conceived a desire to have a very beautiful panel made in that place. Sending therefore for Spinello, by whom he had found himself very well served at another time, he caused him to paint in distemper the panel of the principal chapel, wherein Spinello made an infinite number of figures both great and small on a ground of gold, with much judgment; and an ornament being made for it afterwards, carved in half-relief, by Simone Cini, the Florentine, he made for it in certain parts, with gesso mixed with size and rather thick, or truly gelatinous, another ornament which turned out very beautiful, and which was afterwards all overlaid with gold by Gabriello Saracini, who wrote at the foot of the said panel these three names:
SIMONE CINI, THE FLORENTINE, MADE THE CARVING; GABRIELLO SARACINI OVERLAID IT WITH GOLD; AND SPINELLO DI LUCA OF AREZZO PAINTED IT IN THE YEAR 1385.
This work finished, Spinello returned to Arezzo, having received from that General and from the other monks, besides payment, many kindnesses; but making no long stay there, because Arezzo was harassed by the Guelph and Ghibelline parties, and was sacked in those days, he betook himself with his family and his son Parri, who was studying painting, to Florence, where he had friends and relatives enough. There, without the Porta a S. Piero Gattolini, on the Strada Romana, where one turns to go to Pazzolatico, he painted an Annunciation, as it were to pass the time, in a shrine that to-day is half-ruined, and other pictures in another shrine near the hostelry of Galluzzo.
He was then summoned to Pisa in order to finish, below the stories of S. Ranieri in the Campo Santo, certain stories that were lacking in a space that had remained not painted; and in order to connect them together with those that had been made by Giotto, Simone Sanese, and Antonio Viniziano, he made in that place, in fresco, six stories of S. Petito and S. Epiro. In the first is S. Epiro, as a youth, being presented by his mother to the Emperor Diocletian, and being made General of the armies that were to march against the Christians; and also Christ appearing to him as he is riding, showing him a white Cross and commanding the Saint not to persecute Him. In another story there is seen the Angel of the Lord giving to that Saint, who is riding, the banner of the Faith with the white Cross on a field of red, which has been ever since the ensign of the Pisans, by reason of S. Epiro having prayed to God that He should give him a standard to bear against His enemies. Beside this story there is seen another, wherein, a fierce battle being contested between the Saint and the pagans, many angels in armour are combating to the end that he may be victorious. Here Spinello wrought many things worthy of consideration for those times, when the art had as yet neither strength nor any good method of expressing vividly with colour the conceptions of the mind; and such, among the many other things that are there, were two soldiers, who, having gripped each other by the beard with one hand, are seeking with their naked swords, which they have in the other hand, to rob each other of life, showing in their faces and in all the movements of their members the desire that each has to come out victorious, and how fearless and fiery of soul they are, and how courageous beyond all belief. And so, too, among those who are combating on horseback, that knight is very well painted who is pinning to the ground with his lance the head of his enemy, whom he has hurled backwards from his horse, all dismayed. Another story shows the same Saint when he is presented to the Emperor Diocletian, who examines him with regard to the Faith, and afterwards causes him to be put to the torture, and to be placed in a furnace, wherein he remains unscathed, while the ministers of torture, who are showing great readiness there on every side, are burnt in his stead. And in short, all the other actions of that Saint are there, up to his beheading, after which his soul is borne to Heaven; and, for the last, we see the bones and relics of S. Petito being borne from Alexandria to Pisa. This whole work, both in colouring and in invention, is the most beautiful, the most finished, and the best executed that Spinello made, a circumstance which can be recognized from this, that it is so well preserved as to make everyone who sees it to-day marvel at its freshness.
Having finished this work in the Campo Santo, he painted many stories of S. Bartholomew, S. Andrew, S. James, and S. John, the Apostles, in a chapel in S. Francesco, which is the second from the principal chapel, and perchance he would have remained longer at work in Pisa, since in that city his works were known and rewarded; but seeing the city all in confusion and uproar by reason of Messer Pietro Gambacorti having been slain by the Lanfranchi, citizens of Pisa, he returned once again with all his family, being now old, to Florence, where, in the one year and no more that he stayed there, he made many stories of the lives and deaths of S. Philip and S. James in the Chapel of the Macchiavelli in S. Croce, dedicated to those Saints; and as for the panel for the said chapel, being desirous to return to Arezzo, his native city, or, to speak more exactly, held by him as his native city, he wrought it in Arezzo, and from there sent it finished in the year 1400.
Having returned there, then, at the age of seventy-seven or more, he was received lovingly by his relatives and friends, and was ever afterward cherished and honoured up to the end of his life, which was at the age of ninety-two. And although he was very old when he returned to Arezzo, and, having ample means, could have done without working, yet, as one who was ever used to working, he knew not how to take repose, and undertook to make for the Company of S. Agnolo in that city certain stories of S. Michael, which he sketched in red on the intonaco of the wall, in that rough fashion wherein the old craftsmen used generally to do it; and in one corner, for a pattern, he wrought and coloured completely a single story, which gave satisfaction enough. Then, having agreed on the price with those who had charge thereof, he finished the whole wall of the high-altar, wherein he represented Lucifer fixing his seat in the North; and he made there the Fall of the Angels, who are being transformed into devils and raining down to earth; while in the air is seen a S. Michael, who is doing combat with the ancient serpent of seven heads and ten horns; and below, in the centre, there is a Lucifer, already transformed into a most hideous beast. And Spinello took so much pleasure in making him horrible and deformed, that it is said (so great, sometimes, is the power of imagination) that the said figure painted by him appeared to him in a dream, asking Spinello where he had seen him so hideous, and why he had offered him such an affront with his brushes; and that he, awaking from his sleep, being unable to cry out by reason of his fear, shook with a mighty trembling, insomuch that his wife, awaking, came to his rescue. But he was none the less thereby in peril—his heart being much strained—of dying on the spot by reason of such an accident; and although he lived a little afterwards, he was half mad, with staring eyes, and he slipped into the grave, leaving great sorrow to his friends, and to the world two sons, of whom one was Forzore, the goldsmith, who worked admirably at Florence in niello, and the other was Parri, who, imitating his father, laboured continually at painting, and surpassed him by a long way in design. This sinister misfortune, for all that Spinello was old, was a great grief to the Aretines, who were robbed of the so great talent and excellence that were his. He died at the age of ninety-two, and was given burial at Arezzo in S. Agostino, where there is still seen to-day a tombstone with a coat of arms made according to his fancy, containing a hedgehog. Spinello knew much better how to draw than how to execute a painting, as it may be seen in our book of the drawings of diverse ancient painters, in two Evangelists in chiaroscuro and a S. Louis, drawn by his hand and very beautiful. And the portrait of the same man, which is seen above, was copied by me from one that was in the Duomo Vecchio before it was pulled down. His pictures date from 1380 up to 1400.
LIFE OF GHERARDO STARNINA
Verily he who journeys far from his own country, dwelling in those of other men, gains very often a disposition and character of a fine temper, for, in seeing abroad diverse honourable customs, even though he might be perverse in nature, he learns to be tractable, amiable, and patient, with much greater ease than he would have done by remaining in his own country. And in truth, he who desires to refine men in the life of the world need seek no other fire and no better touchstone than this, seeing that those who are rough by nature are made gentle, and the gentle become more gracious. Gherardo di Jacopo Starnina, painter of Florence, being nobler in blood than in nature, and very harsh and rough in his manners, brought more harm thereby on himself than on his friends; and more harm still would this have brought on him if he had not dwelt a long time in Spain, where he learnt gentleness and courtesy, seeing that in those parts he became in such wise contrary to that first nature of his, that on his returning to Florence an infinite number of those who bore him deadly hatred before his departure, received him on his return with very great lovingness, and ever after loved him very straitly, so thoroughly had he become gentle and courteous.
Gherardo was born in Florence in the year 1354, and growing up, as one who had an intellect inclined by nature to design, he was placed with Antonio Viniziano in order to learn to draw and to paint; and having in the course of many years not only learnt drawing and the practice of colouring, but also given proof of himself in certain works wrought with beautiful manner, he took his leave of Antonio, and beginning to work by himself he made in S. Croce, in the Chapel of the Castellani (which was given him to paint by Michele di Vanni, an honoured citizen of that family), many stories in fresco of S. Anthony the Abbot, and also some of S. Nicholas the Bishop, with so great diligence and with so beautiful a manner that they caused him to become known to certain Spaniards, who were then staying in Florence on some business of their own, as an excellent painter, and what is more, caused them to take him into Spain to their King, who saw him and received him very willingly, and above all because there was then a dearth of good painters in that land. Nor was it a great labour to persuade him to leave his country, for the reason that, having had rough words with certain people in Florence after the affair of the Ciompi and after Michele di Lando had been made Gonfalonier, he was rather in peril of his life than otherwise. Going, then, to Spain, and executing many works for that King, he became, by reason of the great rewards that he gained for his labours, as rich and highly honoured as any man of his own rank; wherefore, being desirous to make himself seen and known by his friends and relatives in that better state, he returned to his country, and was there much cherished and received lovingly by all the citizens.
Nor was it long before he was commissioned to paint the Chapel of S. Girolamo in the Carmine, where, making many stories of that Saint, he painted, in the story of Paola and Eustachio and Jerome, certain costumes that the Spaniards wore at that time, with very characteristic invention, and with an abundance of manners and conceptions in the attitudes of the figures. Among other things, painting a scene of S. Jerome learning his first letters, he made a master who has caused a boy to climb on the back of another and is beating him with his rod, in a manner that the poor lad, kicking out with his legs by reason of the great pain, appears to be howling and trying to bite the ear of the one who is holding him; and all this Gherardo expressed gracefully and very charmingly, as one who was going on investigating on every side the things of nature. Likewise, in the scene where S. Jerome, at the point of death, is making his testament, he counterfeited some friars with beautiful and very ready manner; for while some are writing and others earnestly listening and gazing on him, they are all hanging with great affection on the words of their master.
This work having acquired for Starnina rank and fame among the craftsmen, and his ways of life, with the sweetness of his manners, bringing him very great reputation, the name of Gherardo was famous throughout all Tuscany—nay, throughout all Italy—when, being called to Pisa in order to paint in that city the Chapter-house of S. Niccola, he sent thither in his stead Antonio Vite of Pistoia, in order not to leave Florence. This Antonio, having learnt the manner of Starnina under his teaching, wrought in that chapter-house the Passion of Jesus Christ, and delivered it finished in that fashion wherein it is seen to-day, in the year 1403, to the great satisfaction of the Pisans. Starnina having then finished, as it has been said, the Chapel of the Pugliesi, and the Florentines being greatly pleased with the stories of S. Jerome that he made there, by reason of his having represented vividly many expressions and attitudes that had never been depicted up to that time by the painters who had lived before him, the Commune of Florence—in the year when Gabriel Maria, Lord of Pisa, sold that city to the Florentines at the price of 200,000 crowns, after Giovanni Gambacorti had sustained a siege of thirteen months, and had at last agreed to the sale—caused him to paint in memory of this, on the facade of the Palace of the Guelph party, a picture of S. Dionysius the Bishop, with two angels, and below him the city of Pisa, portrayed from nature; in which work he used so great diligence in everything, and particularly in colouring it in fresco, that in spite of the air, the rains, and its being turned to the north, it has always remained and still remains at the present day a picture worthy of much praise, by reason of its having been preserved as fresh and beautiful as though it had only just been painted. Gherardo, then, having come by reason of this and of his other works into very great repute and fame, both in his own country and abroad, envious death, ever the enemy of noble actions, cut short in the finest period of his labour the infinite expectation of much greater works, for which the world was looking from him; for at the age of forty-nine he came unexpectedly to his end, and was buried with most honourable obsequies in the Church of S. Jacopo Sopra Arno.
Disciples of Gherardo were Masolino da Panicale, who was first an excellent goldsmith and afterwards a painter, and certain others, of whom, seeing that they were not very able men, there is no need to speak. The portrait of Gherardo is in the aforesaid story of S. Jerome, in one of the figures that are round that Saint when he is dying, in profile, with a cap wound round the head and wearing a buckled mantle. In our book are certain drawings by Gherardo, made with the pen on parchment, which are not otherwise than passing good.
LIFE OF LIPPO
PAINTER OF FLORENCE
Invention has ever been held, and ever will be, the true mother of architecture, of painting, and of poetry—nay, of all the finer arts also, and of all the marvellous works that are made by men, for the reason that it pleases the craftsmen much, and displays their fantasies and the caprices of fanciful brains that seek out variety in all things; and these discoveries ever exalt with marvellous praise all those who, employing themselves in honourable ways, give a form marvellous in beauty, under the covering and shadow of a veil, to the works that they make, now praising others dexterously, and now blaming them without being openly understood. Lippo, then, a painter of Florence, who was as rare and as varied in invention as he was truly unfortunate in his works and in his life—for it lasted but a little time—was born in Florence, about the year of our salvation 1354; and although he applied himself to the art of painting very late, when already grown up, nevertheless, he was so well assisted by nature, which inclined him to this, and by his intelligence, which was very beautiful, that soon he produced therein marvellous fruits. Wherefore, beginning his labours in Florence, he made in S. Benedetto (a very large and beautiful monastery of the Order of Camaldoli, without the Porta a Pinti, and now in ruins) many figures that were held very beautiful, and in particular a chapel painted entirely with his own hand, which showed how soon diligent study can produce great works in one who labours honourably through desire of glory.
Being summoned from Florence to Arezzo, he made in fresco, for the Chapel of the Magi in the Church of S. Antonio, a large scene wherein the Magi are adoring Christ; and in the Vescovado he painted the Chapel of S. Jacopo e S. Cristofano for the family of the Ubertini. All these works were very beautiful, Lippo showing invention in the composition of the scenes and in the colouring, and above all because he was the first who began to sport, so to speak, with the figures, and to awaken the minds of those who came after him; a thing which had not even been suggested, much less put into use, before his time.
Having afterwards wrought many works in Bologna, and a panel in Pistoia which was passing good, he returned to Florence, where, in the year 1383, he painted the stories of S. John the Evangelist in the Chapel of the Beccuti, in S. Maria Maggiore. On the wall of the church beside this chapel, which is on the left hand of the principal chapel, there follow six stories of the same Saint by the same man's hand, very well composed and ingeniously ordered, wherein, among other things, there is very vividly depicted a S. John who is causing his own garment to be placed by S. Dionysius the Areopagite over some corpses, which are returning to life in the name of Jesus Christ, to the great marvel of some who, being present at this deed, can scarce believe their own eyes. In the figures of the dead, likewise, there is seen very great mastery in some foreshortenings, whereby it is clearly demonstrated that Lippo knew, and in part grappled with, certain difficulties of the art of painting. It was Lippo, likewise, who painted the folding leaves in the Church of S. Giovanni—namely, those of the shrine wherein are the angels and the S. John in relief by the hand of Andrea; and on them he wrought very diligently in distemper stories of S. John the Baptist. And because he also delighted in working in mosaic, in the said S. Giovanni, over the door that leads to the Misericordia, between the windows, he made a beginning, which was held very beautiful and the best work in mosaic which had been made in that place up to that time; and he also restored some works in that church, likewise in mosaic, which were spoilt. Without Florence, too, in S. Giovanni fra l'Arcora without the Porta a Faenza, a church which was destroyed in the siege of the said city, he painted in fresco, beside a Passion of Christ wrought by Buffalmacco, many figures which were held very beautiful by all who saw them. In like manner, in certain little hospitals at the Porta a Faenza, and in S. Antonio within the said gate, near the hospital, he painted certain beggars in fresco, in diverse beautiful manners and attitudes; and within the cloisters, with beautiful and new invention, he painted a vision wherein he represented S. Anthony gazing on the snares of the world, and beside these the will and the desires of men, who are drawn by both the first and the second to the diverse things of this world; and all this he painted with much thought and judgment. Lippo also wrought works in mosaic in many parts of Italy, and in the Palace of the Guelph party in Florence he made a figure with the head glazed; and in Pisa, also, there are many of his works. But none the less it can be said that he was truly unfortunate, not only because the greater part of his labours are now thrown down, having gone to ruin in the havoc of the siege of Florence, but also because he ended the course of his life very unhappily; for Lippo being a litigious person and fonder of discord than of peace, and having one morning used very ugly words towards an adversary at the tribunal of the Mercanzia, he was waylaid by this man one evening when he was returning to his house, and stabbed in the breast with a knife so grievously, that a few days afterwards he died miserably. His pictures date about 1410.
[Footnote 4: The Tribunal of commerce.]
About the same time as Lippo there was in Bologna another painter, Dalmasi, also called Lippo, who was an able man, and who painted, among other works, in the year 1407 (as it may be seen in S. Petronio in Bologna), a Madonna which is held in great veneration; and in fresco, the arch over the door of S. Procolo; and in the Church of S. Francesco, in the tribune of the high-altar, he made a large Christ between S. Peter and S. Paul, with good grace and manner, and below this work there is seen his own name written in large letters. He drew passing well, as it may be seen in our book; and he taught the art to M. Galante da Bologna, who afterwards drew much better than he, as it may be seen in the said book, in a portrait from the life, a figure in a short coat with puffed sleeves.
DON LORENZO MONACO
LIFE OF DON LORENZO MONACO
OF THE ANGELI IN FLORENCE, PAINTER
For a good and religious person, I believe, there must be great contentment in having ready to his hand some honourable exercise, whether that of letters, or of music, or of painting, or of any other liberal or mechanical arts, such as are not blameworthy, but rather useful and helpful to other men; for the reason that after the divine offices the time passes honourably with the delight that is taken in the sweet labours of these pleasant exercises. And to this it may be added that not only is he esteemed and held in price by others the while that he lives, provided that they be not envious and malign, but that he is also honoured after death by all men, by reason of his works and of the good name that he leaves to those who survive him. And in truth one who spends his time in this manner, lives in quiet contemplation and without being molested by those ambitious desires which are almost always seen, to their shame and loss, in the idle and unoccupied, who are for the most part ignorant. And even if it comes about that our virtuous man is sometimes smitten by the malign, so powerful is the force of virtue that time covers up and buries the malice of the wicked, and the virtuous man, throughout the ages that follow, remains ever famous and illustrious.
Don Lorenzo, then, a painter of Florence, was a monk of the Order of Camaldoli in the Monastery of the Angeli, which monastery was founded in the year 1294 by Fra Guittone d'Arezzo, of the Militant Order of the Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ, or rather, as the monks of that Order were vulgarly called, of the Joyous Friars; and he applied himself in his earliest years to design and to painting with so great zeal, that he was afterwards deservedly numbered among the best of the age in that exercise. The first works of this painter-monk, who held to the manner of Taddeo Gaddi and his disciples, were in his Monastery of the Angeli, where, among many other things, he painted the panel of the high-altar, which is still seen to-day in their church, and which was completely finished, as it may be seen from letters written below on the ornament, in the year 1413, when it was set in place. On a panel, likewise, which was in the Monastery of S. Benedetto, of the same Order of Camaldoli, which was outside the Porta a Pinti and was destroyed in 1529, in the siege of Florence, Don Lorenzo painted a Coronation of Our Lady, even as he had also done in the panel for his own Church of the Angeli; and this panel, painted for S. Benedetto, is to-day in the first cloister of the said Monastery of the Angeli, in the Chapel of the Alberti, on the right hand. About the same time, or perchance before, in S. Trinita at Florence, he painted in fresco the Chapel of the Ardinghelli, with its panel, which was much praised at that time; and there he made from nature the portraits of Dante and of Petrarca. In S. Piero Maggiore he painted the Chapel of the Fioravanti, and the panel in a chapel in S. Piero Scheraggio; and in the said Church of S. Trinita he painted the Chapel of the Bartolini. In S. Jacopo Sopra Arno, also, there is seen a panel by his hand, very well wrought and executed with infinite diligence according to the manner of those times. In the Certosa without Florence, likewise, he painted some pictures with good mastery; and in S. Michele in Pisa, a monastery of his Order, he painted some panels that are passing good. And in Florence, in the Church of the Romiti (also belonging to the Order of Camaldoli), which, being in ruins together with the monastery, has to-day left no memory but the name to that quarter on the other side of the Arno, which is called Camaldoli from the name of that holy place, among other works, he painted a Crucifix on panel, with a S. John, which were held very beautiful. Finally, falling sick of a cruel imposthume, which kept him suffering for many months, he died at the age of fifty-five, and was honourably buried by his fellow-monks, as his virtues deserved, in the chapter-house of their monastery.
[Footnote 5: Church of the Hermits.]
And because it often happens, as experience shows, that from one single germ, with time and by means of the study and intelligence of men, there spring up many, in the said Monastery of the Angeli, where in former times the monks ever applied themselves to painting and to design, not only was the said Don Lorenzo excellent among them, but many men excellent in the matters of design also flourished there for a long space of time, both before and after him. Wherefore it appears to me by no means right to pass over in silence one Don Jacopo, a Florentine, who lived long before the said Don Lorenzo, for the reason that, even as he was a very good and very worthy monk, so was he a better writer of large letters than any who lived either before or after him, not only in Tuscany, but in all Europe, as it is clearly proved not only by the twenty very large volumes of choral books that he left in his monastery, which are the most beautiful, as regards the writing, as well as the largest that there are perchance in Italy, but also by an infinity of others which are to be found in Rome, in Venice, and in many other places, and above all in S. Michele and in S. Mattia di Murano, a monastery of his Order of Camaldoli; for which works this good father well deserved, very many years after he had passed to a better life, not only that Don Paolo Orlandini, a very learned monk of the same monastery, should celebrate him with many Latin verses, but that his right hand, wherewith he wrote the said books, should be preserved with much veneration in a shrine, as it still is, together with that of another monk called Don Silvestro, who, according to the standard of those times, illuminated the said books no less excellently than Don Jacopo had written them. And I, who have seen them many times, remain in a marvel that they were executed with so much design and with so much diligence in those times, when the arts of design were little less than lost; for the works of these monks date about the year of our salvation 1350, more or less, as it may be seen in each of the said books. It is said, and some old men still remember it, that when Pope Leo X came to Florence he wished to see the said books and examine them carefully, remembering that he had heard them much praised to Lorenzo de' Medici the Magnificent, his father; and that after he had looked at them with attention and admiration, as they all lay open on the desks of the choir, he said, "If they were according to the Roman Church, and not, as they are, according to the monastic use and ordering of Camaldoli, we would be pleased to take some volumes of them for S. Pietro in Rome, giving just recompense to the monks"; in which church there were formerly, and perhaps there still are, two others of them by the hand of the same monks, both very beautiful. In the same Monastery of the Angeli there are many ancient embroideries, wrought with very beautiful manner and with much design by the ancient fathers of that place, while they were living in perpetual enclosure under the name not of monks but of hermits, without ever issuing from the monastery, in such wise as do the sisters and nuns of our own day; which enclosure lasted until the year 1470.