Lives of the most Eminent Painters Sculptors and Architects - Vol. 06 (of 10) Fra Giocondo to Niccolo Soggi
by Giorgio Vasari
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[Transcriber's note: Bold text is marked with =."

Obvious printer's errors have been corrected, all other inconsistencies are as in the original. The author's spelling has been maintained.]























FACING PAGE GIOVAN FRANCESCO CAROTO Elisabetta Gonzaga, Duchess of Mantua Florence: Uffizi, 1121 16

FRANCESCO MONSIGNORI (BONSIGNORI) Portrait of a Gentleman London: N.G., 736 28

FRANCESCO MORONE Madonna and Child London: N.G., 285 32

GIROLAMO DAI LIBRI Madonna and Child, with S. Anne London: N.G., 748 48

FRANCESCO GRANACCI (IL GRANACCIO) The Holy Family Florence: Pitti, 199 58

FRA SEBASTIANO VINIZIANO DEL PIOMBO Portrait of a Lady Florence: Uffizi, 1123 174

DOMENICO BECCAFUMI S. Catharine before the Crucifix Siena: Pinacoteca, 420 238


LIBERALE OF VERONA S. Mary Magdalene with Saints Verona: S. Anastasia 10

LIBERALE OF VERONA Miniature Siena: Duomo Library 14

GIOVAN FRANCESCO CAROTO Madonna and Child, with S. Anne and Saints Verona: S. Fermo Maggiore 18

FRANCESCO TURBIDO (IL MORO) Portrait of a Man Munich: Pinacothek, 1125 24

FRANCESCO MONSIGNORI (BONSIGNORI) S. Sebastian Berlin: Kaiser Friedrich Museum, 46c 30

FRANCESCO MORONE The Crucifixion Verona: S. Bernardino 34

PAOLO CAVAZZUOLA The Deposition Verona: Museo Civico, 392 40

GIOVAN MARIA (FALCONETTO) Palazzo del Capitanio Padua 46

GIROLAMO DAI LIBRI Madonna and Child, with Saints Verona: Museo Civico, 290 50

FRANCESCO GRANACCI (IL GRANACCIO) The Madonna giving the Girdle to S. Thomas Florence: Uffizi, 1280 62

GIOVANNI DA CASTEL BOLOGNESE (GIOVANNI BERNARDI) Cassetta Farnese Naples: Museo Nazionale 78

VALERIO VICENTINO (VALERIO BELLI) Casket of Rock Crystal Florence: Uffizi 82



MARTIN SCHONGAUER Christ and the Virgin Enthroned London: British Museum, B. 71 92

ALBRECHT DUeRER Hercules London: British Museum, B. 73 92

ALBRECHT DUeRER Christ taking leave of His Mother London: British Museum, B. 92 94

ALBRECHT DUeRER S. Jerome in his Study London: British Museum, B. 60 96

LUCAS VAN LEYDEN "Ecce Homo" of 1510 London: British Museum 98

MARC' ANTONIO BOLOGNESE The Death of Lucretia London: British Museum, B. 192 102

MARC' ANTONIO BOLOGNESE (AFTER BANDINELLI) The Martyrdom of S. Lawrence (engraving) London: British Museum 104


GIULIO ROMANO Detail: The Battle of Constantine Rome: The Vatican 146

GIULIO ROMANO The Marriage Banquet of Cupid and Psyche Mantua: Palazzo del Te 154

GIULIO ROMANO The Destruction of the Giants by the Thunderbolts of Jove Mantua: Palazzo del Te, Sala dei Giganti 160

FRA SEBASTIANO VINIZIANO DEL PIOMBO The Flagellation Rome: S. Pietro in Montorio 176

FRA SEBASTIANO VINIZIANO DEL PIOMBO Andrea Doria Rome: Palazzo Doria 182

PERINO DEL VAGA The Passage of the Red Sea Rome: The Vatican, Loggia 192



If writers of history were to live a few years longer than the number commonly granted as the span of human life, I, for my part, have no manner of doubt that they would have something to add to the accounts of the past previously written by them, for the reason that, even as it is not possible for a single man, be he ever so diligent, to learn the exact truth in a flash, or to discover all the details of his subject in the little time at his command, so it is as clear as the light of day that Time, who is said to be the father of truth, is always revealing new things every day to the seeker after knowledge. If, many years ago, when I first wrote and also published these Lives of the Painters and other Craftsmen, I had possessed that full information which I have since received concerning Fra Giocondo of Verona, a man of rare parts and a master of all the most noble faculties, I would without a doubt have made that honourable record of him which I am now about to make for the benefit of craftsmen, or rather, of the world; and not of him only, but also of many other masters of Verona, who have been truly excellent. And let no one marvel that I place them all under the image of one only, because, not having been able to obtain portraits of them all, I am forced to do this; but, so far as in me lies, not one of them shall thereby have his excellence defrauded of its due.

Now, since the order of time and merit so demands, I shall speak first of Fra Giocondo. This man, when he assumed the habit of S. Dominic, was called not simply Fra Giocondo, but Fra Giovanni Giocondo. How the name Giovanni dropped from him I know not, but I do know that he was always called Fra Giocondo by everyone. And although his chief profession was that of letters, and he was not only a very good philosopher and theologian, but also an excellent Greek scholar (which was a rare thing at that time, when learning and letters were just beginning to revive in Italy), nevertheless he was also a very fine architect, being a man who always took supreme delight in that art, as Scaliger relates in his epistle against Cardan, and the learned Bude in his book "De Asse," and in the observations that he wrote on the Pandects.

Fra Giocondo, then, who was a fine scholar, a capable architect, and an excellent master of perspective, spent many years near the person of the Emperor Maximilian, and was master in the Greek and Latin tongues to the learned Scaliger, who writes that he heard him dispute with profound learning on matters of the greatest subtlety before the same Maximilian. It is related by persons still living, who remember the facts very clearly, that at the time when Verona was under the power of that Emperor the bridge which is called the Ponte della Pietra, in that city, was being restored, and it was seen to be necessary to refound the central pier, which had been destroyed many times in the past, and Fra Giocondo gave the design for refounding it, and also for safeguarding it in such a manner that it might never be destroyed again. His method of safeguarding it was as follows: he gave orders that the pier should be kept always bound together with long double piles fixed below the water on every side, to the end that these might so protect it that the river should not be able to undermine it; for the place where it is built is in the main current of the river, the bed of which is so soft that no solid ground can be found on which to lay its foundations. And excellent, in truth, as is evident from the result, was the advice of Fra Giocondo, for the reason that the pier has stood firm from that time to our own, as it still does, without ever showing a crack; and there is hope that, by the observation of the suggestions given by that good monk, it will stand for ever.

In his youth Fra Giocondo spent many years in Rome, giving his attention to the study of antiquities, and not of buildings only, but also of the ancient inscriptions that are in the tombs, and the other relics of antiquity, both in Rome itself and its neighbourhood, and in every part of Italy; and he collected all these inscriptions and memorials into a most beautiful book, which he sent as a present, according to the account of the citizens of Verona mentioned above, to the elder Lorenzo de' Medici, the Magnificent, to whom, by reason of the great friendliness and favour that he showed to all men of talent, both Fra Giocondo and Domizio Calderino, his companion and compatriot, were always most deeply devoted. Of this book Poliziano makes mention in his Mugellane, in which he uses various parts of it as authorities, calling Fra Giocondo a profound master in antiquities.

The same Giocondo wrote some observations, which are in print, on the Commentaries of Caesar; and he was the first who made a drawing of the bridge built by Caesar over the River Rhone, and described by him in those same Commentaries, but misunderstood in the time of Fra Giocondo. Him the aforesaid Bude confesses to have had as his master in the study of architecture, thanking God that he had been taught his Vitruvius by a teacher so learned and so diligent as was that monk, who corrected in that author a vast number of errors not recognized up to that time; and this he was able to do with ease, because he was a master of every kind of learning, and had a good knowledge of both the Greek tongue and the Latin. This and other things declares Bude, extolling Fra Giocondo as an excellent architect, and adding that by the researches of the same monk there were discovered in an old library in Paris the greater part of the Epistles of Pliny, which, after having been so long out of the hands of mankind, were printed by Aldus Manutius, as may be read in a Latin letter written by him and printed with the same.

When living in Paris in the service of King Louis XII, Fra Giocondo built two superb bridges over the Seine, covered with shops—works truly worthy of that magnanimous King and of the marvellous intellect of Fra Giocondo. Wherefore that master, in addition to the inscription in his praise that may still be seen on those works, won the honour of being celebrated by Sannazzaro, a rare poet, in this most beautiful distich:

Jocundus geminum imposuit tibi, Sequana, pontem; Hunc tu jure potes dicere pontificem.

Besides this, he executed a vast number of other works for that King throughout all his kingdom; but of these, after having made mention of those above, as being the greatest, I shall say no more.

Then, happening to be in Rome at the death of Bramante, he was placed, in company with Raffaello da Urbino and Giuliano da San Gallo, in charge of the Church of S. Pietro, to the end that the structure begun by Bramante might be carried forward. Now, from the circumstance that it had been erected in haste, and for other reasons given in another place, it was threatening to fall in many parts, and by the advice of Fra Giocondo, Raffaello, and Giuliano, the foundations were in great measure renewed; in which work persons who were present and are still living declare that those masters adopted the following method. They excavated below the foundations many large pits after the manner of wells, but square, at a proper distance one from another, which they filled with masonry; and between every two of these piers, or rather pits filled with masonry, they threw very strong arches across the space below, insomuch that the whole building came to be placed on new foundations without suffering any shock, and was secured for ever from the danger of showing any more cracks.

But the work for which it seems to me that Fra Giocondo deserves the greatest praise is one on account of which an everlasting gratitude is due to him not only from the Venetians, but from the whole world as well. For he reflected that the life of the Republic of Venice depended in great measure on the preservation of its impregnable position on the lagoons on which that city, as it were by a miracle, is built; and that, whenever those lagoons silted up with earth, the air would become infected and pestilential, and the city consequently uninhabitable, or at the least exposed to all the dangers that threaten cities on the mainland. He set himself, therefore, to think in what way it might be possible to provide for the preservation of the lagoons and of the site on which the city had been built in the beginning. And having found a way, Fra Giocondo told the Signori that, if they did not quickly come to some resolution about preventing such an evil, in a few years, to judge by that which could be seen to have happened in part, they would become aware of their error, without being in time to be able to retrieve it. Roused by this warning, and hearing the powerful arguments of Fra Giocondo, the Signori summoned an assembly of the best engineers and architects that there were in Italy, at which many opinions were given and many designs made; but that of Fra Giocondo was held to be the best, and was put into execution. They made a beginning, therefore, with excavating a great canal, which was to divert two-thirds or at least one-half of the water brought down by the River Brenta, and to conduct that water by a long detour so as to debouch into the lagoons of Chioggia; and thus that river, no longer flowing into the lagoons at Venice, has not been able to fill them up by bringing down earth, as it has done at Chioggia, where it has filled and banked up the lagoons in such a manner that, where there was formerly water, many tracts of land and villas have sprung up, to the great benefit of the city of Venice. Wherefore it is the opinion of many persons, and in particular of the Magnificent Messer Luigi Cornaro, a Venetian gentleman of ripe wisdom gained both by learning and by long experience, that, if it had not been for the warning of Fra Giocondo, all the silting up that took place in the lagoons of Chioggia would have happened, and perhaps on a greater scale, in those of Venice, inflicting incredible damage and almost ruin on that city. The same Messer Luigi, who was very much the friend of Fra Giocondo, as he is and always has been of all men of talent, declares that his native city of Venice owes an eternal debt of gratitude for this to the memory of Fra Giocondo, who on this account, he says, might reasonably be called the second founder of Venice; and that he almost deserves more praise for having preserved by that expedient the grandeur and nobility of that marvellous and puissant city, than do those who built it at the beginning in such a weak and ill-considered fashion, seeing that the benefit received from him will be to all eternity, as it has been hitherto, of incalculable utility and advantage to Venice.

Not many years after Fra Giocondo had executed this divine work, the Venetians suffered a great loss in the burning of the Rialto, the place in which are the magazines of their most precious merchandise—the treasure, as it were, of that city. This happened at the very time when that Republic had been reduced by long-continued wars and by the loss of the greater part, or rather almost the whole, of her dominions on the mainland to a desperate condition; and the Signori then governing were full of doubt and hesitation as to what they should do. However, the rebuilding of that place being a matter of the greatest importance, they resolved that it should be reconstructed at all costs. And wishing to give it all possible grandeur, in keeping with the greatness and magnificence of that Republic, and having already recognized the talent of Fra Giocondo and his great ability in architecture, they gave him the commission to make a design for that structure; whereupon he drew one in the following manner. He proposed to occupy all the space that lies between the Canale delle Beccherie,[1] in the Rialto, and the Rio del Fondaco delle Farine,[2] taking as much ground between one canal and the other as would make a perfect square—that is, the length of the sides of this fabric was to be as great as the space which one covers at the present day in walking from the debouchure of one of those canals into the Grand Canal to that of the other. He intended, also, that the same two canals should debouch on the other side into a common canal, which was to run from the one to the other, so that the fabric might be left entirely surrounded by water, having the Grand Canal on one side, the two smaller canals on two other sides, and on the last the new canal that was to be made. Then he desired that between the water and the buildings, right round the square, there should be made, or rather should be left, a beach or quay of some breadth, which might serve as a piazza for the selling in duly appointed places of the vegetables, fruits, fish, and other things, that come from many parts to the city. It was also his opinion that right round the outer side of the buildings there should be erected shops looking out upon those same quays, and that these shops should serve only for the sale of eatables of every kind. And in these four sides the design of Fra Giocondo had four principal gates—namely, one to each side, placed in the centre, one directly opposite to another. But before going into the central piazza, by whichever side one entered, one would have found both on the right hand and on the left a street which ran round the block of buildings and had shops on either side, with handsome workshops above them and magazines for the use of those shops, which were all to be devoted to the sale of woven fabrics—that is, fine woollen cloth and silk, which are the two chief products of that city. This street, in short, was to contain all the shops that are called the Tuscan's and the silk-merchant's.

From this double range of shops there was to be access by way of the four gates into the centre of the whole block—that is to say, into a vast piazza surrounded on every side by spacious and beautiful loggie for the accommodation of the merchants and for the use of the great number of people who flock together for the purposes of their trade and commerce to that city, which is the custom-house of all Italy, or rather of Europe. Under those loggie, on every side, were to be the shops of the bankers, goldsmiths, and jewellers; and in the centre was to be built a most beautiful temple dedicated to S. Matthew, in which the people of quality might be able to hear the divine offices in the morning. With regard to this temple, however, some persons declare that Fra Giocondo changed his mind, and wished to build two under the loggie, so as not to obstruct the piazza. And, in addition, this superb structure was to have so many other conveniences, embellishments, and adornments, all in their proper places, that whoever sees at the present day the beautiful design that Fra Giocondo made for the whole, declares that nothing more lovely, more magnificent, or planned with better order, could be imagined or conceived by the most excellent of craftsmen, be his genius never so happy.

It was proposed, also, with the advice of the same master, and as a completion to this work, to build the Bridge of the Rialto of stone, covered with shops, which would have been a marvellous thing. But this enterprise was not carried into effect, for two reasons: first, because the Republic, on account of the extraordinary expenses incurred in the last war, happened to be drained dry of money; and, secondly, because a gentleman of great position and much authority at that time (of the family, so it is said, of Valereso), being a man of little judgment in such matters, and perchance influenced by some private interest, chose to favour one Maestro Zanfragnino,[3] who, so I am informed, is still alive, and who had worked for him on buildings of his own. This Zanfragnino—a fit and proper name for a master of his calibre—made the design for that medley of marble which was afterwards carried into execution, and which is still to be seen; and many who are still alive, and remember the circumstances very well, are even yet not done with lamenting that foolish choice.

Fra Giocondo, having seen that shapeless design preferred to his beautiful one, and having perceived how much more virtue there often is in favour than in merit with nobles and great persons, felt such disdain that he departed from Venice, nor would he ever return, although he was much entreated to do it. And the design, with others by the same monk, remained in the house of the Bragadini, opposite to S. Marina, in the possession of Frate Angelo, a member of that family and a friar of S. Dominic, who, by reason of his many merits, afterwards became Bishop of Vicenza.

Fra Giocondo was very versatile, and delighted, in addition to the pursuits already mentioned, in simples and in agriculture. Thus Messer Donato Giannotti, the Florentine, who was very much his friend for many years in France, relates that once, when living in that country, the monk reared a peach-tree in an earthen pot, and that this little tree, when he saw it, was so laden with fruit that it was a marvellous sight. On one occasion, by the advice of some friends, he had set it in a place where the King was to pass and would be able to see it, when certain courtiers, who passed by first, plucked all the peaches off that little tree, as suchlike people were sure to do, and, playing about with one another, scattered what they could not eat along the whole length of the street, to the great displeasure of Fra Giocondo. The matter coming to the ears of the King, he first laughed over the jest with the courtiers, and then, after thanking the monk for what he had done to please him, gave him a present of such a kind that he was consoled.

Fra Giocondo was a man of saintly and most upright life, much beloved by all the great men of letters of his age, and in particular by Domizio Calderino, Matteo Bosso, and Paolo Emilio, the writer of the History of France, all three his compatriots. Very much his friends, likewise, were Sannazzaro, Bude, and Aldus Manutius, with all the Academy of Rome; and he had a disciple in Julius Caesar Scaliger, one of the most learned men of our times. Finally, being very old, he died, but precisely at what time and in what place this happened, and consequently where he was buried, is not known.

Even as it is true that the city of Verona is very similar to Florence in situation, manners, and other respects, so it is also true that in the first as well as in the second there have always flourished men of the finest genius in all the noblest and most honourable professions. Saying nothing of the learned, for with them I have nothing to do here, and continuing to speak of the men of our arts, who have always had an honourable abode in that most noble city, I come to Liberale of Verona, a disciple of Vincenzio di Stefano, a native of the same city, already mentioned in another place, who executed for the Church of Ognissanti, belonging to the Monks of S. Benedict, at Mantua, in the year 1463, a Madonna that was a very praiseworthy example of the work of those times. Liberale imitated the manner of Jacopo Bellini, for when a young man, while the said Jacopo was painting the Chapel of S. Niccolo at Verona, he gave his attention under Bellini to the studies of design in such thorough fashion that, forgetting all that he had learned from Vincenzio di Stefano, he acquired the manner of Bellini and retained it ever after.

The first paintings of Liberale were in the Chapel of the Monte della Pieta in S. Bernardino, in his native city; and there, in the principal picture, he painted a Deposition from the Cross, with certain Angels, some of whom have in their hands the Mysteries (for so they are called) of the Passion, and all with their weeping faces show grief at the Death of the Saviour. Very natural, in truth, are these figures, as are other works of the same kind by this master, who strove to show in many places that he was able to paint weeping countenances. This may also be seen in S. Anastasia, a church of Friars of S. Dominic, likewise in Verona, where he painted a Dead Christ with the Maries mourning for Him on the pediment of the Chapel of the Buonaveri; and he executed many pictures in the same manner of painting as the work mentioned above, which are dispersed among the houses of various gentlemen in Verona.

In the same chapel he painted a God the Father surrounded by many Angels who are playing instruments and singing, with three figures on either side—S. Peter, S. Dominic, and S. Thomas Aquinas on one side, and S. Lucia, S. Agnese, and another female Saint on the other; but the first three are much the finer, being executed in a better manner and with more relief. On the main wall of that chapel he painted Our Lady, with the Infant Christ marrying S. Catharine, the Virgin-Martyr; and in this work he made a portrait of Messer Piero Buonaveri, the owner of the chapel. Around this group are some Angels presenting flowers, with some heads that are smiling, executed with such grace in their gladness, that they prove that he was able to paint a smiling face as well as he had painted tears in other figures. In the altar-piece of the same chapel he painted S. Mary Magdalene in the air, supported by some Angels, with S. Catharine below—a work which was held to be very beautiful. On the altar of the Madonna in the Church of S. Maria della Scala, belonging to the Servite Friars, he executed the story of the Magi on two folding-doors that enclose that Madonna, which is held in vast veneration in that city; but the work did not long remain there, for it was removed because it was being spoilt by the smoke of the candles, and placed in the sacristy, where it is much admired by the painters of Verona.

In the tramezzo[4] of the Church of S. Bernardino, above the Chapel of the Company of the Magdalene, he painted in fresco the story of the Purification, wherein is a figure of Simeon that is much extolled, as also is that of the Infant Christ, who with great affection is kissing that old man, who is holding Him in his arms; and very beautiful, likewise, is a priest standing there on one side, who, with his arms extended and his face uplifted towards Heaven, appears to be thanking God for the salvation of the world. Beside this chapel is a picture of the story of the Magi by the hand of the same Liberale; and in the pediment of the picture there is the Death of the Madonna, executed with little figures, which are highly extolled. Great, indeed, was his delight in painting works with little figures, with which he always took such pains that they seem to be the work rather of an illuminator than of a painter, as may be seen in the Duomo of the same city, where there is a picture by his hand of the story of the Magi, with a vast number of little figures, horses, dogs, and various other animals, and near them a group of rosy-coloured Cherubim, who serve as a support to the Mother of Jesus. In this picture the heads are so finished, and everything is executed with such diligence, that, as I have said, it appears to be the work of an illuminator.

He also painted stories of Our Lady on a small predella, likewise after the manner of miniatures, for the Chapel of the Madonna in the Duomo. But this was afterwards removed from that chapel by order of Monsignor Messer Giovan Matteo Giberti, Bishop of Verona, and placed in the Palace of the Vescovado, which is the residence of the Bishops, in that chapel wherein they hear Mass every morning. And there that predella stands in company with a most beautiful Crucifix in relief, executed by Giovanni Battista Veronese, a sculptor, who now lives in Mantua. Liberale also painted a panel-picture for the Chapel of the Allegni in S. Vitale, containing a figure of S. Mestro, the Confessor, a Veronese and a man of great sanctity, whom he placed between a S. Francis and a S. Dominic. For the Chapel of S. Girolamo in the Vittoria, a church and convent of certain Eremite Friars, he executed at the commission of the Scaltritegli family an altar-piece of S. Jerome in the habit of a Cardinal, with a S. Francis and a S. Paul, all much extolled. And in the tramezzo[5] of the Church of S. Giovanni in Monte he painted the Circumcision of Christ and other works, which were destroyed not long since, because it was considered that the tramezzo impaired the beauty of the church.

Being then summoned to Siena by the General of the Monks of Monte Oliveto, Liberale illuminated many books for that Order; and in these he succeeded so well, that he was commissioned in consequence to illuminate some that had been left unfinished—that is to say, only written—in the library of the Piccolomini. He also illuminated some books of plain-song for the Duomo of that city, where he would have remained longer, executing many works that he had in hand; but, being driven away by envy and persecution, he set off to return to Verona, with eight hundred crowns that he had earned, which he lent afterwards to the Monks of Monte Oliveto at S. Maria in Organo, from whom he drew interest to support him from day to day.

Having thus returned to Verona, he gave his attention for the rest of his life more to illumination than to any other kind of work. At Bardolino, a place on the Lake of Garda, he painted a panel-picture which is now in the Pieve; and another for the Church of S. Tommaso Apostolo. For the Chapel of S. Bernardo, likewise, in the Church of S. Fermo, a convent of Friars of S. Francis, he painted a panel-picture of the first-named Saint, with some scenes from his life in the predella. In the same place, also, and in others, he executed many nuptial pictures, one of which, containing the Madonna with the Child in her arms marrying S. Catharine, is in the house of Messer Vincenzio de' Medici at Verona.

On the corner of the house of the Cartai, on the way from the Ponte Nuovo to S. Maria in Organo, in Verona, he painted a Madonna and S. Joseph in fresco, a work which was much extolled. Liberale would have liked to paint the Chapel of the Riva family, which had been built in order to honour the memory of Giovanni Riva, a captain of men-at-arms at the battle of the Taro, in the Church of S. Eufemia; but he did not receive the commission, which was given to some strangers, and he was told that he was too old and that his sight was failing him. When this chapel was opened, a vast number of faults were perceived in it, and Liberale said that he who had given the commission had been much more blind than himself.

Finally, being eighty-four years of age, or even more, Liberale allowed himself to be ruled by his relatives, and particularly by a married daughter, who, like the rest, treated him very badly. At which, having grown angry both with her and with his other relatives, and happening to have under his charge one Francesco Turbido, called Il Moro, then a young man, who was a diligent painter and much affected towards him, he appointed him as heir to the house and garden that he had at S. Giovanni in Valle, a very pleasant part of the city; and with him he took up his quarters, saying that he would rather give the enjoyment of his property to one who loved virtue than to those who ill-treated their nearest of kin. But no long time passed before he died, which was on the day of S. Chiara in the year 1536, at the age of eighty-five; and he was buried in S. Giovanni in Valle.

His disciples were Giovan Francesco Caroto and Giovanni Caroto, Francesco Turbido, called Il Moro, and Paolo Cavazzuola, of whom, since they were truly excellent masters, I shall make mention in their due order.

Giovan Francesco Caroto was born at Verona in the year 1470, and after having learned the first rudiments of letters, being drawn to painting, he abandoned the studies of grammar and placed himself to learn painting under the Veronese Liberale, undertaking to recompense him for his pains. Young as he was, then, Giovan Francesco devoted himself with such love and diligence to design, that even in his earliest years he was a great assistance to Liberale both in that and in colouring. No long time after, when his judgment had increased with his years, he saw the works of Andrea Mantegna in Verona; and thinking, as indeed was the truth, that these were of another manner and better than those of his master, he so wrought upon his father that he was given leave, with the gracious consent of Liberale, to apprentice himself to Mantegna. Having gone to Mantua, therefore, and having placed himself under Mantegna, in a short time he made such proficience that Andrea sent out works by Caroto as works by his own hand. In short, before many years had passed by, he had become an able master. The first works that he executed after leaving the discipline of Mantegna were on the altar of the three Magi in the Church of the Hospital of S. Cosimo at Verona, where he painted on the folding-doors that enclose that altar the Circumcision of Christ and the Flight into Egypt, with other figures. In the Church of the Frati Ingiesuati, called S. Girolamo, in two angles of a chapel, he painted the Madonna and the Angel of the Annunciation. And for the Prior of the Friars of S. Giorgio he executed a little panel-picture of the Manger, in which he may be seen to have greatly improved his manner, since the heads of the shepherds and of all the other figures have expressions so sweet and so beautiful, that this work was much extolled, and that rightly; and if it were not that the priming of gesso is peeling off through having been badly prepared, so that the picture is gradually perishing, it would be enough by itself to keep him alive for ever in the memory of his fellow-citizens.

Next, having been commissioned by the men who governed the Company of the Angel Raphael to paint their chapel in the Church of S. Eufemia, he executed therein two stories of the Angel Raphael in fresco, and in the altar-piece, in oils, three large Angels, Raphael in the centre, and Gabriel and Michael on either side, and all with good draughtsmanship and colouring. He was reproached, indeed, for having made the legs of those Angels too slender and wanting in softness; to which he made a pleasant and gracious answer, saying that even as Angels were represented with wings and with bodies, so to speak, celestial and ethereal, as if they were birds, so it was only right to make their legs lean and slender, to the end that they might fly and soar upwards with greater ease. For that altar of the Church of S. Giorgio where there is a Christ bearing His Cross, he painted S. Rocco and S. Sebastian, with some scenes in the predella executed with very beautiful little figures. And by order of the Company of the Madonna he painted on the predella of the altar of that Company, in S. Bernardino, the Nativity of the Madonna and the Massacre of the Innocents, with a great variety of attitudes in the murderers and in the groups of children whom their mothers are defending with all their might. This work is held in great veneration, and is kept covered, the better to preserve it; and it was the reason that the men of the Fraternity of S. Stefano commissioned him to paint three pictures with similar figures for their altar in the old Duomo of Verona, containing three little scenes from the life of Our Lady—her Marriage, the Nativity of Christ, and the story of the Magi.

After these works, thinking that he had gained enough credit in Verona, Giovan Francesco was minded to depart and make trial of other places; but his friends and relatives, pressing him much, persuaded him to take to wife a young woman of noble birth, the daughter of Messer Braliassarti Grandoni, whom he married in 1505. In a short time, however, after he had had a son by her, she died in child-birth; and Giovan Francesco, thus left free, departed from Verona and went off to Milan, where Signor Anton Maria Visconti received him into his house and caused him to execute many works for its adornment.

Meanwhile there was brought to Milan by a Fleming a head of a young man, taken from life and painted in oils, which was admired by everyone in that city; but Giovan Francesco, seeing it, laughed and said: "I am confident that I can do a better." At which the Fleming mocked him, but after many words the matter came to this, that Giovan Francesco was to try his hand, losing his own picture and twenty-five crowns if he lost, and winning the Fleming's head and likewise twenty-five crowns if he won. Setting to work, therefore, with all his powers, Giovan Francesco made a portrait of an aged gentleman with shaven face, with a falcon on his wrist; but, although this was a good likeness, the head of the Fleming was judged to be the better. Giovan Francesco did not make a good choice in executing his portrait, for he took a head that could not do him honour; whereas, if he had chosen a handsome young man, and had made as good a likeness of him as he did of the old man, he would at least have equalled his adversary's picture, even if he had not surpassed it. But for all this the head of Giovan Francesco did not fail to win praise, and the Fleming showed him courtesy, for he contented himself with the head of the shaven old man, and, being a noble and courteous person, would by no means accept the five-and-twenty crowns. This picture came after some time into the possession of Madonna Isabella d'Este, Marchioness of Mantua, who paid a very good price for it to the Fleming and placed it as a choice work in her study, in which she had a vast number of very beautiful coins, pictures, works in marble, and castings.

After completing his work for Visconti, Giovan Francesco, being invited by Guglielmo, Marquis of Montferrat, went willingly to serve him, as Visconti straitly besought him to do. On his arrival, a fine provision was assigned to him; and, setting to work, he painted for that noble at Casale, in a chapel where he heard Mass, as many pictures as were necessary to fill it and adorn it on every side, with subjects from the Old Testament and the New, which were executed by him with supreme diligence, as was also the chief altar-piece. He then executed many works throughout the apartments of that Castle, which brought him very great fame. And in S. Domenico, by order of that Marquis, he painted the whole of the principal chapel for the adornment of the tomb wherein he was to be laid to rest; in which work Giovan Francesco acquitted himself so well, that he was rightly rewarded with honourable gifts by the liberality of his patron, who also favoured him by making him one of his own chamberlains, as may be seen from an instrument that is in the possession of his heirs at Verona. He made portraits of that lord and of his wife, with many pictures that they sent to France, and also the portrait of Guglielmo, their eldest child, who was then a boy, and likewise portraits of their daughters and of all the ladies who were in the service of the Marchioness.

On the death of the Marquis Guglielmo, Giovan Francesco departed from Casale, after first selling all the property that he had in those parts, and made his way to Verona, where he so arranged his affairs and those of his son, to whom he gave a wife, that in a short time he found himself in possession of more than seven thousand ducats. But he did not therefore abandon his painting; indeed, having a quiet mind, and not being obliged to rack his brain for a livelihood, he gave more attention to it than ever. It is true that either from envy or for some other reason he was accused of being a painter who could do nothing but little figures; wherefore, in executing the altar-piece of the Chapel of the Madonna in S. Fermo, a convent of Friars of S. Francis, wishing to show that the accusation was a calumny, he painted the figures larger than life, and so well, that they were the best that he had ever done. In the air is Our Lady seated in the lap of S. Anne, with some Angels standing upon clouds, and beneath are S. Peter, S. John the Baptist, S. Rocco, and S. Sebastian; and not far away, in a most beautiful landscape, is S. Francis receiving the Stigmata. This work, indeed, is held by craftsmen to be not otherwise than good.

For the Chapel of the Cross in S. Bernardino, a seat of the Frati Zoccolanti, he painted Christ kneeling on one knee and taking leave of His Mother. In this work, stirred to emulation by the many notable pictures by the hands of other masters that are in that place, he strove to surpass them all; wherefore, in truth, he acquitted himself very well, and was praised by all who saw it, save only by the Guardian of that convent, who, like the boorish and solemn fool that he was, reproved Giovan Francesco with biting words, saying that he had made Christ show such little reverence to His Mother as to kneel only upon one knee. To which Giovan Francesco answered by saying: "Father, first do me the favour of kneeling down and rising up again, and I will then tell you for what reason I have painted Christ so." The Guardian, after much persuasion, knelt down, placing on the ground first his right knee and then his left; and in rising up he raised first the left and then the right. Which done, Giovan Francesco said: "Did you observe, Father Guardian, that you neither knelt down nor rose up with both knees together? I tell you, therefore, that this Christ of mine is right, because one might say that He is either coming to His knees before His Mother, or beginning, after having knelt a while, to raise one leg in order to rise." At which the Guardian had to appear a little appeased, although he went off muttering under his breath.

Giovan Francesco was very sharp in his answers; and it is also related of him that once, being told by a priest that his figures were too seductive for altar-pieces, he replied: "A lusty fellow you must be, if painted figures so move you. Think how much you are to be trusted in places where there are living people for you to touch." At Isola, a place on the Lake of Garda, he painted two panel-pictures for the Church of the Zoccolanti; and at Malsessino, a township above that same lake, he painted a very beautiful Madonna over the door of a church, and some Saints within the church, at the request of Fracastoro, a very famous poet, who was much his friend. For Count Giovan Francesco Giusti, executing a subject conceived by that nobleman, he painted a young man wholly naked except for the parts of shame, and in an attitude of indecision as to whether he shall rise up or not; and on one side he had a most beautiful young woman representing Minerva, who with one hand was pointing out to him a figure of Fame on high, and with the other was urging him to follow her; but Sloth and Idleness, who were behind the young man, were striving to detain him. Below these was a figure with an uncouth face, rather that of a slave and a plebeian than of one of noble blood, who had two great snails clinging to his elbows and was seated on a crab, and near him was another figure with the hands full of poppies. This invention, in which are other beautiful details and fancies, was executed by Giovan Francesco with supreme diligence and love; and it serves as the head-board of a bedstead at that nobleman's lovely place near Verona, which is called S. Maria in Stella.

The same master painted the whole of a little chamber with various scenes in little figures, for Count Raimondo della Torre. And since he delighted to work in relief, he executed not only models for his own purposes and for the arrangement of draperies, but also other things of his own fancy, of which there are some to be seen in the house of his heirs, and in particular a scene in half-relief, which is not otherwise than passing good. He also executed portraits on medallions, and some are still to be seen, such as that of Guglielmo, Marquis of Montferrat, which has on the reverse a Hercules slaying ..., with a motto that runs: "Monstra domat." He painted portraits of Count Raimondo della Torre, Messer Giulio his brother, and Messer Girolamo Fracastoro.

But when Giovan Francesco became old, he began gradually to lose his mastery over art, as may be seen from the organ-doors in S. Maria della Scala, from the panel-picture of the Movi family, wherein is a Deposition from the Cross, and from the Chapel of S. Martino in S. Anastasia. Giovan Francesco had always a great opinion of himself, and not for anything in the world would he have ever copied another man's work in his own. Now Bishop Giovan Matteo Giberti wished him to paint some stories of the Madonna in the great chapel of the Duomo, and had the designs for these drawn in Rome by Giulio Romano, who was very much his friend (for Giberti was Datary to Pope Clement VII). But, when the Bishop had returned to Verona, Giovan Francesco would never consent to execute these designs; at which the Bishop, in disdain, caused them to be put into execution by Francesco, called Il Moro.

Giovan Francesco held an opinion, in which he was not far from the truth, that varnishing pictures spoiled them, and made them become old sooner than they otherwise would; and for this reason he used varnish in the darks while painting, together with certain purified oils. He was also the first who executed landscapes well in Verona; wherefore there are some by his hand to be seen in that city, which are very beautiful. Finally, when seventy-six years of age, Giovan Francesco died the death of a good Christian, leaving his grandchildren and his brother, Giovanni Caroto, passing well provided. This Giovanni, after first applying himself to art under his brother, and then spending some time in Venice, had just returned to Verona when Giovan Francesco passed to the other life; and thus he took a hand with the grandchildren in inspecting the things of art that had been left to them. Among these they found a portrait of an old man in armour, very beautiful both in drawing and in colour, which was the best work by the hand of Giovan Francesco that was ever seen; and likewise a little picture containing a Deposition from the Cross, which was presented to Signor Spitech, a man of great authority with the King of Poland, who had come at that time to some baths that are in the territory of Verona. Giovan Francesco was buried in the Madonna dell' Organo, in the Chapel of S. Niccolo, which he himself had adorned with his paintings.

Giovanni Caroto, brother of Giovan Francesco, although he followed the manner of the latter, yet gained less reputation in the practice of painting. This master painted the altar-piece in the above-mentioned Chapel of S. Niccolo, wherein is the Madonna enthroned on clouds; and below this he placed a portrait of himself, taken from life, and that of his wife Placida. He also painted some little figures of female Saints for the altar of the Schioppi in the Church of S. Bartolommeo, together with a portrait of Madonna Laura degli Schioppi, who had caused that chapel to be built, and who was much celebrated by the writers of those times no less for her virtues than for her beauty. Giovanni likewise painted a S. Martin in a little altar-piece for S. Giovanni in Fonte, near the Duomo; and he made a portrait of Messer Marc' Antonio della Torre (who afterwards became a man of learning and gave public lectures at Padua and Pavia) as a young man, and also one of Messer Giulio; which heads are in the possession of their heirs at Verona. For the Prior of S. Giorgio he painted a picture of Our Lady, which, as a good painting, has been kept ever since, as it still is, in the chamber of the Priors. And he painted another picture, representing the transformation of Actaeon into a stag, for the organist Brunetto, who afterwards presented it to Girolamo Cicogna, an excellent embroiderer, and engineer to Bishop Giberti; and it now belongs to Messer Vincenzio Cicogna, his son.

Giovanni took ground-plans of all the ancient buildings of Verona, with the triumphal arches and the Colosseum. These were revised by the Veronese architect Falconetto, and they were meant for the adornment of the book of the Antiquities of Verona, which had been written after his own original research by Messer Torello Saraina, who afterwards had the book printed. This book was sent to me by Giovanni Caroto when I was in Bologna (where I was executing the work of the Refectory of S. Michele in Bosco), together with the portrait of the reverend Father, Don Cipriano da Verona, who was twice General of the Monks of Monte Oliveto; and the portrait, which was sent to me by Giovanni to the end that I might make use of it, as I did, for one of those pictures, is now in my house at Florence, with other paintings by the hands of various masters.

Finally, having lived without children and without ambition, but with good means, Giovanni died at about the age of sixty, full of gladness because he saw some of his disciples, particularly Anselmo Canneri and Paolo Veronese, already in good repute. Paolo is now working in Venice, and is held to be a good master; and Anselmo has executed many works both in oils and in fresco, and in particular at the Villa Soranza on the Tesino, and in the Palace of the Soranzi at Castelfranco, and also in many other places, but more at Vicenza than anywhere else. But to return to Giovanni; he was buried in S. Maria dell' Organo, where he had painted a chapel with his own hand.

Francesco Turbido, called Il Moro, a painter of Verona, learned the first rudiments of art, when still quite young, from Giorgione da Castelfranco, whom he imitated ever afterwards in colouring and in softness of painting. But just when Il Moro was making progress, he came to words with I know not whom, and handled him so roughly, that he was forced to leave Venice and return to Verona. There, abandoning his painting, since he was somewhat ready with his hands and associated with the young noblemen, being a person of very good breeding, he lived for a time without doing any work. And associating in this way, in particular, with the Counts Sanbonifazi and the Counts Giusti, two illustrious families of Verona, he became so intimate with them that he lived in their houses as if he had been born in them; and, what is more, no long time passed before Count Zenovello Giusti gave him a natural daughter of his own for a wife, and granted him a commodious apartment in his own house for himself, his wife, and the children that were born to them.

It is said that Francesco, while living in the service of those noblemen, always carried a pencil in his pouch; and wherever he went, if only he had time, he would draw a head or something else on the walls. Wherefore the same Count Zenovello, seeing him to be so much inclined to painting, relieved him of his other duties, like the generous nobleman that he was, and made him give his whole attention to art; and since Francesco had all but forgotten everything, he placed himself, through the good offices of that patron, under Liberale, a famous painter and illuminator of that time. And thus, practising under that master without ever ceasing, he went on making such progress from one day to another, that not only did all that he had forgotten awaken in his memory, but he also acquired in a short time as much more knowledge as sufficed to make him an able craftsman. It is true, however, that, although he always held to the manner of Liberale, he yet imitated the softness and well-blended colouring of Giorgione, his first instructor, believing that the works of Liberale, while good in other respects, suffered from a certain dryness.

Now Liberale, having recognized the beauty of Francesco's spirit, conceived such an affection for him, that he loved him ever afterwards as a son, and, when death came upon him, left him heir to all his possessions. And thus, after the death of Liberale, Francesco followed in his steps and executed many works, which are dispersed among various private houses. Of those in Verona which deserve to be extolled above all others, the first is the great chapel of the Duomo, on the vaulting of which are four large pictures painted in fresco, wherein are the Nativity of the Madonna and the Presentation in the Temple, and, in the picture in the centre, which appears to recede inwards, three Angels in the air, who are seen foreshortened from below, and are holding a crown of stars wherewith to crown the Madonna, who is in the recess, in the act of ascending into Heaven, accompanied by many Angels, while the Apostles are gazing upwards in attitudes of great variety; and these Apostles are figures twice the size of life. All these pictures were executed by Il Moro after the designs of Giulio Romano, according to the wish of Bishop Giovan Matteo Giberti, who gave the commission for the work, and who, as has been said, was very much the friend of that same Giulio.

After this Il Moro painted the facade of the house of the Manuelli, which stands on the abutment of the Ponte Nuovo, and a facade for Torello Saraina, the doctor, who wrote the above-mentioned book of the Antiquities of Verona. In Friuli, likewise, he painted in fresco the principal chapel of the Abbey of Rosazzo, for Bishop Giovan Matteo, who held it "in commendam," and, being a noble and truly religious dignitary, rebuilt it; for it had been allowed to fall completely into ruin, as such buildings are generally found to be, by those who had held it "in commendam" before him, attending only to the drawing of the revenues and spending not a farthing in the service of God and of the Church.

=. Munich: Pinacoteca, 1125_)


Il Moro afterwards painted many works in oils at Verona and in Venice. On the outer wall (of a chapel) in S. Maria in Organo he executed in fresco the figures that are still there, with the exception of the Angel Michael and the Angel Raphael, which are by the hand of Paolo Cavazzuola. For the same chapel he painted an altar-piece in oils, wherein he made a portrait of Messer Jacopo Fontani, who gave the commission for the work, in a figure of S. James, in addition to the Madonna and other very beautiful figures. And in a large semicircle above that altar-piece, occupying the whole width of the chapel, he painted the Transfiguration of Our Lord, and the Apostles beneath, which were held to be among the best figures that he ever executed. For the Chapel of the Bombardieri, in S. Eufemia, he painted an altar-piece with S. Barbara in the heavens, in the centre, and a S. Anthony below, with his hand on his beard, which is a most beautiful head, and on the other side a S. Rocco, which is also held to be a very good figure; whence this work is rightly looked upon as one executed with supreme diligence and unity of colouring. In a picture on the altar of the Santificazione, in the Madonna della Scala, he painted a S. Sebastian, in competition with Paolo Cavazzuola, who executed a S. Rocco in another picture; and he afterwards painted an altar-piece that was taken to Bagolino, a place in the mountains of Brescia.

Il Moro executed many portraits, and his heads are in truth beautiful to a marvel, and very good likenesses of those whom they were meant to represent. At Verona he executed a portrait of Count Francesco Sanbonifazio, who, on account of the length of his body, was called the Long Count; with that of one of the Franchi, which was an amazing head. He also painted the portrait of Messer Girolamo Verita, which remained unfinished, because Il Moro was inclined to be dilatory in his work; and this, still unfinished, is in the possession of the sons of that good nobleman. Among many other portraits, likewise, he executed one of the Venetian, Monsignor de' Martini, a knight of Rhodes, and to the same man he sold a head of marvellous beauty and excellence, which he had painted many years before as the portrait of a Venetian gentleman, the son of one who was then Captain in Verona. This head, through the avarice of the Venetian, who never paid him, was left in the hands of Francesco, and he disposed of it to Monsignor de' Martini, who had the Venetian dress changed into that of a shepherd or herdsman. It is as rare a portrait as ever issued from the hand of any craftsman, and it is now in the house of the heirs of the same Monsignor de' Martini, where it is rightly held in vast veneration. In Venice he painted a portrait of Messer Alessandro Contarini, Procurator of S. Mark and Proveditor of the forces, and one of Messer Michele San Michele for one of Messer Michele's dearest friends, who took the portrait to Orvieto; and it is said that he executed another of the same architect, Messer Michele, which is now in the possession of Messer Paolo Ramusio, the son of Messer Giovan Battista. He also painted a portrait of Fracastoro, a very famous poet, at the instance of Monsignor Giberti, by whom it was sent to Giovio, who placed it in his museum.

Il Moro executed many other works, of which there is no need to make mention, although they are all well worthy of remembrance, because he was as diligent a colourist as any master that lived in his day, and because he bestowed much time and labour on his work. So great, indeed, was his diligence, that it brought upon him more blame than praise, as may also be seen at times to happen to others, for the reason that he accepted any commission and took the earnest-money from every patron, and trusted to the will of God to finish the work; and if he did this in his youth, everyone may imagine what he must have done in his last years, when to his natural slowness there was added that which old age brings in its train. By this method of procedure he brought upon himself more entanglements and annoyances than he cared for; and Messer Michele San Michele, therefore, moved by compassion for him, took him into his house in Venice and treated him like a friend and man of talent.

Finally, having been invited back to Verona by his former patrons, the Counts Giusti, Il Moro died among them in their beautiful Palace of S. Maria in Stella, and was buried in the church of that villa, being accompanied to his tomb by all those loving noblemen, and even laid to rest with extraordinary affection by their own hands; for they loved him as a father, since they had all been born and brought up while he was living in their house. In his youth Il Moro was very courageous and agile in body, and handled all kinds of arms with great skill. He was most faithful to his friends and patrons, and he showed spirit in all his actions. His most intimate friends were the architect, Messer Michele San Michele, Danese da Carrara, an excellent sculptor, and the very reverend and most learned Fra Marco de' Medici, who often went after his studies to sit with him, watching him at work, and discoursing lovingly with him, in order to refresh his mind when he was weary with labour.

A disciple and son-in-law of Il Moro, who had two daughters, was Battista d' Agnolo, who was afterwards called Battista del Moro. This master, although he had his hands full for a time with the complications of the inheritance that Il Moro bequeathed to him, has yet executed many works which are not otherwise than passing good. In Verona he has painted a S. John the Baptist in the Church of the Nuns of S. Giuseppe, and in the tramezzo[6] of S. Eufemia, above the altar of S. Paolo, a scene in fresco showing the latter Saint presenting himself to Ananias after being converted by Christ; which work, although he executed it when still a lad, is much extolled. For the noble Counts Canossi he painted two apartments, and in a hall two friezes with battle-pieces, which are very beautiful and praised by everyone. In Venice he painted the facade of a house near the Carmine, a work of no great size, but much extolled, in which he executed a figure of Venice crowned and seated upon a lion, the device of that Republic. For Camillo Trevisano he painted the facade of his house at Murano, and in company with his son Marco he decorated the inner court with very beautiful scenes in chiaroscuro. And in competition with Paolo Veronese he painted a large chamber in the same house, which proved to be so beautiful that it brought him much honour and profit.

The same master has also executed many works in miniature, of which the most recent is a very beautiful drawing of S. Eustachio adoring Christ, who has appeared to him between the horns of a deer, with two dogs near him, which could not be more excellent, and a landscape full of trees, receding and fading away little by little into the distance, which is an exquisite thing. This drawing has been very highly praised by the many persons who have seen it, and particularly by Danese da Carrara, who saw it when he was in Verona, carrying out the work of the Chapel of the Signori Fregosi, which is one of rare distinction among all the number that there are in Italy at the present day. Danese, I say, having seen this drawing, was lost in astonishment at its beauty, and exhorted the above-mentioned Fra Marco de' Medici, his old and particular friend, not for anything in the world to let it slip through his hands, but to contrive to place it among the other choice examples of all the arts in his possession. Whereupon Battista, having heard that Fra Marco desired it, and knowing of his friendship with his father-in-law, gave it to him, almost forcing him to accept it, in the presence of Danese; nor was that good Father ungrateful to him for so much courtesy. However, since that same Battista and his son Marco are alive and still at work, I shall say nothing more of them for the present.

Il Moro had another disciple, called Orlando Fiacco, who has become a good master and a very able painter of portraits, as may be seen from the many that he has painted, all very beautiful and most lifelike. He made a portrait of Cardinal Caraffa when he was returning from Germany, which he took secretly by torch-light while the Cardinal was at supper in the Vescovado of Verona; and this was such a faithful likeness that it could not have been improved. He also painted a very lifelike portrait of the Cardinal of Lorraine, when, coming from the Council of Trent, he passed through Verona on his return to Rome; and likewise portraits of the two Bishops Lippomani of Verona, Luigi the uncle and Agostino the nephew, which Count Giovan Battista della Torre now has in a little apartment. Other portraits that he painted were those of Messer Adamo Fumani, a Canon and a very learned gentleman of Verona, of Messer Vincenzio de' Medici of Verona, and of his consort, Madonna Isotta, in the guise of S. Helen, and of their grandson, Messer Niccolo. He has likewise executed portraits of Count Antonio della Torre, of Count Girolamo Canossi, and his brothers, Count Lodovico and Count Paolo, of Signor Astorre Baglioni, Captain-General of all the light cavalry of Venice and Governor of Verona, the latter clad in white armour and most beautiful in aspect, and of his consort, Signora Ginevra Salviati. In like manner, he has portrayed the eminent architect Palladio and many others; and he still continues at work, wishing to become in the art of painting as true an Orlando as once was that great Paladin of France.

In Verona, where an extraordinary degree of attention has been given to design ever since the death of Fra Giocondo, there have flourished at all times men excellent in painting and architecture, as will now be seen, in addition to what has been observed hitherto, in the Lives of Francesco Monsignori, of Domenico Morone and his son Francesco, of Paolo Cavazzuola, of the architect Falconetto, and, lastly, of the miniaturists Francesco and Girolamo.

Francesco Monsignori, the son of Alberto, was born at Verona in the year 1455; and when he was well grown he was advised by his father, who had always delighted in painting, although he had not practised it save for his own pleasure, to give his attention to design. Having, therefore, gone to Mantua to seek out Mantegna, who was then working in that city, he exerted himself in such a manner, being fired by the fame of his instructor, that no long time passed before Francesco II, Marquis of Mantua, who found an extraordinary delight in painting, took him into his own service; and in the year 1487 he gave him a house for his habitation in Mantua, and assigned him an honourable provision. For these benefits Francesco was not ungrateful, for he always served that lord with supreme fidelity and lovingness; whence the Marquis came to love and favour him more and more every day, insomuch that he could not leave the city without having Francesco in his train, and was once heard to say that Francesco was as dear to him as the State itself.

Francesco painted many works for that lord in his Palace of S. Sebastiano at Mantua, and also in the Castello di Gonzaga and in the beautiful Palace of Marmirolo without the city. In the latter Francesco had finished painting in the year 1499, after a vast number of other pictures, some triumphs and many portraits of gentlemen of the Court; and on Christmas Eve, on which day he had finished those works, the Marquis presented to him an estate of a hundred fields in the territory of Mantua, at a place called La Marzotta, with a mansion, garden, meadows, and other things of great beauty and convenience. He was most excellent at taking portraits from life, and the Marquis caused him to paint many portraits, of himself, of his sons, and of many other lords of the house of Gonzaga, which were sent to France and Germany as presents for various Princes. And many of these portraits are still in Mantua, such as those of the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa; of Doge Barbarigo of Venice; of Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan; of Massimiliano, also Duke of Milan, who died in France; of the Emperor Maximilian; of Signor Ercole Gonzaga, who afterwards became a Cardinal; of his brother, Duke Federigo (then a young man); of Signor Giovan Francesco Gonzaga; of Messer Andrea Mantegna, the painter; and of many others; of all which Francesco preserved copies drawn on paper in chiaroscuro, which are now in the possession of his heirs at Mantua.

Above the pulpit of S. Francesco de' Zoccolanti, in the same city, is a picture that he painted of S. Louis and S. Bernardino holding a large circle that contains the name of Jesus; and in the refectory of those friars there is a picture on canvas as large as the whole of the head-wall, of the Saviour in the midst of the twelve Apostles, painted in perspective and all very beautiful, and executed with many proofs of consideration. Among them is the traitor Judas, with a face wholly different from those of the others, and in a strange attitude; and the others are all gazing intently at Jesus, who is speaking to them, being near His Passion. On the right hand of this work is a S. Francis of the size of life, a very beautiful figure, the countenance of which is the very presentment of that sanctity which was peculiar to that most saintly man; and he is presenting to Christ the Marquis Francesco, who is kneeling at his feet, portrayed from life in a long coat pleated and worked with a curly pattern, according to the fashion of those times, and embroidered with white crosses, perchance because he may have been at that time Captain of the Venetians. And in front of the Marquis is a portrait, with the hands clasped, of his eldest son, who was then a very beautiful boy, and afterwards became Duke Federigo. On the other side is painted a S. Bernardino, equal in excellence to the figure of S. Francis, and likewise presenting to Christ the brother of the Marquis, Cardinal Sigismondo Gonzaga, a very beautiful kneeling figure, robed in the habit of a Cardinal, with the rochet, which is also a portrait from life; and in front of that Cardinal is a portrait of Signora Leonora, the daughter of the same Marquis, who was then a girl, and afterwards became Duchess of Urbino. This whole work is held by the most excellent painters to be a marvellous thing.

=. Berlin: Kaiser Friedrich Museum, 46 c_)


The same master painted a picture of S. Sebastian, which was afterwards placed in the Madonna delle Grazie, without the city of Mantua; and to this he devoted extraordinary pains, copying many things in it from the life. It is related that the Marquis, going one day, while Francesco was executing this picture, to see him at work, as he used often to do, said to him: "Francesco, you must take some fine figure as your model in painting this Saint." To which Francesco answered: "I am using as my model a porter with a very handsome figure, whom I bind in a fashion of my own in order to make the work natural." "But the limbs of this Saint of yours," rejoined the Marquis, "are not true to life, for they have not the appearance of being strained by force or by that fear which one would expect in a man bound and shot with arrows; and by your leave I will undertake to show you what you ought to do in order to make this figure perfect." "Nay, but I beg you to do it, my lord," said Francesco; and the Marquis added: "When you have your porter bound here, send for me, and I will show you what you must do." The next day, therefore, when Francesco had the porter bound in the manner that he wished, he sent a secret summons to the Marquis, but without knowing what he intended to do. And the Marquis, bursting out of a neighbouring room in a great fury, with a loaded cross-bow in his hand, rushed towards the porter, crying out at the top of his voice, "Traitor, prepare to die! At last I have caught thee as I would have thee," and other suchlike words; which hearing, the wretched porter, thinking himself as good as dead, struggled in a frenzy of terror with the ropes wherewith he was bound, and made frantic efforts to break them, thus truly representing one about to be shot with arrows, and revealing fear in his face and the horror of death in his strained and distorted limbs, as he sought to escape from his peril. This done, the Marquis said to Francesco, "There he is in the state that he ought to be: the rest is for you to do"; which the painter having well considered, made his figure as perfect as could be imagined.

Francesco painted in the Gonzaga Palace, besides many other things, the Election of the first Lords of Mantua, with the jousts that were held on the Piazza di S. Piero, which is seen there in perspective. When the Grand Turk sent one of his men with a most beautiful dog, a bow, and a quiver, as presents for the Marquis, the latter caused the dog, the Turk who had brought it, and the other things, to be painted in the same Gonzaga Palace; and, this done, wishing to see whether the painted dog were truly lifelike, he had one of his own dogs, of a breed very hostile to the Turkish dog, brought to the place where the other one stood on a pedestal painted in imitation of stone. The living dog, then, arriving there, had no sooner seen the painted one than, precisely as if it had been a living animal and the very one for whom he had a mortal hatred, he broke loose from his keeper and rushed at it with such vehemence, in order to bite it, that he struck his head full against the wall and dashed it all to pieces.

Another story is told by persons who were present at the scene, of a little picture by the hand of Francesco, little more than two span in height, and belonging to his nephew Benedetto Baroni, in which is a Madonna painted in oils, from the breast upwards, and almost life-size, and, lower down, in the corner of the picture, the Child, seen from the shoulders upwards, with one arm uplifted and in the act of caressing His Mother. It is related, I say, that, when the Emperor was master of Verona, Don Alfonso of Castille and Alarcon, a very famous Captain, happened to be in that city on behalf of His Majesty and the Catholic King; and that these lords, being in the house of the Veronese Count Lodovico da Sesso, said that they had a great desire to see that picture. Whereupon it was sent for; and one evening they were standing contemplating it in a good light, and admiring its masterly workmanship, when Signora Caterina, the wife of the Count, entered into the room where those noblemen were, together with one of her sons, who had on his wrist one of those green birds—called in Verona "terrazzani,"[7] because they make their nests on the ground—which learn to perch on the wrist, like hawks. It happened, then, that, while she stood with the others contemplating the picture, the bird, seeing the extended arm and wrist of the painted Child, flew to perch upon it; but, not having been able to find a hold on the surface of the painting, and having therefore fallen to the ground, it twice returned to settle on the wrist of that painted Child, precisely as if it had been one of those living children who were always holding it on their wrists. At which those noblemen, being amazed, offered to pay a great price to Benedetto for the picture, if only he would give it to them; but it was not possible by any means to wrest it from him. Not long afterwards the same persons planned to have it stolen from him on the day of the festival of S. Biagio in S. Nazzaro; but the owner was informed of this, and their design did not succeed.

For S. Paolo, in Verona, Francesco painted a panel-picture in gouache, which is very beautiful, and another, also most beautiful, for the Chapel of the Bandi in S. Bernardino. In Mantua he executed for Verona a picture with two most lovely nudes, a Madonna in the sky, with the Child in her arms, and some Angels, all marvellous figures, which is in the chapel where S. Biagio is buried, in the Black Friars Church of S. Nazzaro.

Francesco was a man of saintly life, and the enemy of every vice, insomuch that he would never on any account paint licentious works, although he was very often entreated to do so by the Marquis; and equal to him in goodness were his brothers, as will be related in the proper place. Finally, being old, and suffering in the bladder, Francesco, with the leave of the Marquis and by the advice of the physicians, went with his wife and many servants to the Baths of Caldero, in the territory of Verona, to take the waters. There, one day, after he had drunk the water, he allowed himself to be overcome by drowsiness, and slept a little, being indulged in this by his wife out of compassion; whereupon, a violent fever having come upon him in consequence of his sleeping, which is a deadly thing for one who has just taken that water, he finished the course of his life on the second day of July, 1519; which having been reported to the Marquis, he straightway sent orders by a courier that the body of Francesco should be brought to Mantua. This was done, although it gave little pleasure to the people of Verona; and he was laid to rest with great honour in the burial-place of the Compagnia Segreta in S. Francesco at Mantua. Francesco lived to the age of sixty-four, and the portrait of him which belongs to Messer Fermo was executed when he was fifty. Many compositions were written in his praise, and he was mourned by all who knew him as a virtuous and saintly man, which he was. He had for wife Madonna Francesca Gioacchini of Verona, but he had no children.

The eldest of his three brothers was called Monsignore; and he, being a person of culture and learning, received offices with good salaries in Mantua from the Marquis, on account of that nobleman's love of Francesco. He lived to the age of eighty, and left children, who keep the family of the Monsignori alive in Mantua. Another brother of Francesco had the name of Girolamo when in the world, and of Fra Cherubino among the Frati Zoccolanti di San Francesco; and he was a very beautiful calligrapher and illuminator. The third, who was a Friar of S. Dominic and an Observantine, and was called Fra Girolamo, chose out of humility to become a lay-brother. He was not only a man of good and holy life, but also a passing good painter, as may be seen in the Convent of S. Domenico in Mantua, where, besides other works, he executed a most beautiful Last Supper in the refectory, with a Passion of Christ, which remained unfinished on account of his death. The same friar painted the beautiful Last Supper that is in the refectory of the very rich abbey which the Monks of S. Benedict possess in the territory of Mantua. In S. Domenico he painted the altar of the Rosary; and in the Convent of S. Anastasia, in Verona, he painted in fresco the Madonna, S. Remigio the Bishop, and S. Anastasia; with a Madonna, S. Dominic, and S. Thomas Aquinas, all executed with mastery, on a little arch over the second door of entrance in the second cloister.

Fra Girolamo was a person of great simplicity, wholly indifferent to the things of the world. He lived in the country, at a farm belonging to his convent, in order to avoid all noise and disturbance, and the money sent to him in return for his works, which he used for buying colours and suchlike things, he kept in a box without a cover, hung from the ceiling in the middle of his chamber, so that all who wished could take some; and in order not to have the trouble of thinking every day what he was to eat, he used to cook a pot of beans every Monday to last him the whole week.

When the plague came to Mantua and the sick were abandoned by all, as happens in such cases, Fra Girolamo, with no other motive but the purest love, would never desert the poor plague-stricken monks, and even tended them all day long with his own hands. And thus, careless of his life for the love of God, he became infected with that malady and died at the age of sixty, to the great grief of all who knew him.

But to return to Francesco Monsignori: he painted a life-size portrait, which I forgot to mention above, of Count Ercole Giusti of Verona, in a robe of cloth of gold, such as he was wont to wear; and this is a very beautiful likeness, as may be seen in the house of his son, Count Giusto.

Domenico Morone, who was born at Verona about the year 1430, learned the art of painting from some masters who were disciples of Stefano, and from works by the same Stefano, by Jacopo Bellini, by Pisano, and by others, which he saw and copied. Saying nothing of the many pictures that he executed after the manner of those times, which are now in monasteries and private houses, I begin by recording that he painted in chiaroscuro, with "terretta verde," the facade of a house belonging to the city of Verona, on the square called the Piazza de' Signori; and in this may be seen many ornamental friezes and scenes from ancient history, with a very beautiful arrangement of figures and costumes of bygone days. But the best work to be seen by the hand of this master is the Leading of Christ to the Cross, with a multitude of figures and horses, which is in S. Bernardino, on the wall above the Chapel of the Monte di Pieta, for which Liberale painted the picture of the Deposition with the weeping Angels. The same Domenico received a commission to paint the chapel that is next to that one, both within and without, at great expense and with a lavish use of gold, from the Chevalier, Messer Niccolo de' Medici, who was considered to be the richest man of his day in Verona, and who spent great sums of money on other pious works, being a man who was inclined to this by nature. This gentleman, after he had built many monasteries and churches, and had left scarcely any place in that city where he had not executed some noble and costly work to the honour of God, chose as his burial-place the chapel mentioned above, for the ornamentation of which he availed himself of Domenico, at that time more famous than any other painter in that city, Liberale being in Siena.

Domenico, then, painted in the interior of this chapel the Miracles of S. Anthony of Padua, to whom it is dedicated, and portrayed the Chevalier in an old man with shaven face and white hair, without any cap, and wearing a long gown of cloth of gold, such as Chevaliers used to wear in those times. All this, for a work in fresco, is very well designed and executed. Then, in certain medallions in the outer vaulting, which is all overlaid with gold, he painted the four Evangelists; and on the pilasters both within and without he executed figures of Saints, among which are S. Elizabeth of the Third Order of S. Francis, S. Helen, and S. Catharine, which are very beautiful figures, and much extolled for the draughtsmanship, colouring, and grace. This work, then, can bear witness to the talent of Domenico and to the magnificent liberality of that Chevalier.

Domenico died very old, and was buried in S. Bernardino, wherein are the works by his hand described above, leaving his son, Francesco Morone, heir to his property and his talents. This Francesco, who learned the first principles of art from his father, afterwards exerted himself in such a manner that in a short time he became a much better master than his father had been, as the works that he executed in emulation of those of his father clearly demonstrate. Below his father's work on the altar of the Monte, in the aforesaid Church of S. Bernardino, Francesco painted in oils the folding-doors that enclose the altar-piece of Liberale; on the inner side of which he depicted in one the Virgin, and in the other S. John the Evangelist, both life-size figures, with great beauty in the faces, which are weeping, in the draperies, and in every other part. In the same chapel, at the foot of the face of that wall which serves as head-wall to the tramezzo,[8] he painted the Miracle that Our Lord performed with the five loaves and two fishes, which satisfied the multitude; and in this are many beautiful figures and many portraits from life, but most of all is praise given to a S. John the Evangelist, who is very slender, and has his back partly turned towards the spectator. He then executed in the same place, beside the altar-piece, in the vacant spaces on the wall against which it rests, a S. Louis, Bishop and Friar of S. Francis, and another figure; with some heads in foreshortening in a sunk medallion on the vaulting. All these works are much extolled by the painters of Verona. And for the altar of the Cross, on which are so many painted pictures, between that chapel and the Chapel of the Medici, in the same church, he executed a picture which is in the centre above all the others, containing Christ on the Cross, the Madonna, and S. John, and very beautiful. In another picture, which is above that of Caroto, on the left-hand side of the same altar, he painted Our Lord washing the feet of the Apostles, who are seen in various attitudes; in which work, so men say, this painter made a portrait of himself in the figure of one who is serving Christ by bringing water.

For the Chapel of the Emilii, in the Duomo, Francesco executed a S. James and a S. John, one on either side of Christ, who is bearing His Cross; and the beauty and excellence of these two figures leave nothing to be desired. The same master executed many works at Lonico, in an abbey of Monks of Monte Oliveto, whither great multitudes flock together to adore a figure of the Madonna which performs many miracles in that place. Afterwards, Francesco being very much the friend, and, as it were, the brother of Girolamo dai Libri, the painter and illuminator, they undertook to paint in company the organ-doors of S. Maria in Organo, a church of Monks of Monte Oliveto. In one of these, on the outer side, Francesco painted a S. Benedict clothed in white, and S. John the Evangelist, and on the inner side the Prophets Daniel and Isaiah, with two little Angels in the air, and a ground all full of very beautiful landscapes. And then he executed the great altar-piece of the altar of the Muletta, painting therein a S. Peter and a S. John, which are little more than one braccio in height, but wrought so well and with such diligence, that they have the appearance of miniatures. The carvings of this work were executed by Fra Giovanni da Verona, a master of tarsia and carving.

In the same place, on the wall of the choir, Francesco painted two scenes in fresco—one of Our Lord riding on an ass into Jerusalem, and the other of His Prayer in the Garden, wherein, on one side, is the armed multitude coming to take Him, guided by Judas. But more beautiful than all the rest is the vaulted sacristy, which is all painted by the same master, excepting only the S. Anthony being scourged by Demons, which is said to be by the hand of his father, Domenico. In this sacristy, then, besides the Christ and some little Angels that are seen in foreshortening on the vaulting, he painted in the lunettes, two in each niche, and robed in their pontifical vestments, the various Popes who have been exalted to the Pontificate from the Order of S. Benedict. Round the sacristy, below the lunettes of the vaulting, is drawn a frieze four feet high, and divided into compartments, wherein are painted in the monastic habit various Emperors, Kings, Dukes, and other Princes, who have abandoned the States and Principalities that they ruled, and have become monks. In these figures Francesco made portraits from life of many of the monks who had their habitation or a temporary abode in that monastery, the while that he was working there; and among them are portraits of many novices and other monks of every kind, which are heads of great beauty, and executed with much diligence. In truth, by reason of these ornaments, that was then the most beautiful sacristy that there was in all Italy, since, in addition to the beauty of the room, which is of considerable size and well proportioned, and the pictures described above, which are also very beautiful, there is at the foot of the walls a range of panelled seats adorned with fine perspective-views, so well executed in tarsia and carving, that there is no work to be seen of those times, and perchance even of our own, that is much better. For Fra Giovanni da Verona, who executed this work, was most excellent in that art, as was said in the Life of Raffaello da Urbino, and as is demonstrated not only by his many other works in houses of his Order, but also by those that are in the Papal Palace at Rome, in Monte Oliveto di Chiusuri in the territory of Siena, and in other places. But those of this sacristy are the best of all the works that Fra Giovanni ever executed, for the reason that it may be said that in them he surpassed himself by as much as he excelled in the rest every other master. Among other things, Fra Giovanni carved for this place a candelabrum more than fourteen feet in height to hold the Paschal candle, all made of walnut-wood, and wrought with such extraordinary patience that I do not believe that there is a better work of the same kind to be seen.

But to return to Francesco: he painted for the same church the panel-picture which is in the Chapel of the Counts Giusti, in which he depicted the Madonna, with S. Augustine and S. Martin in pontifical robes. And in the cloister he executed a Deposition from the Cross, with the Maries and other Saints, works in fresco which are much extolled in Verona. In the Church of the Vittoria he painted the Chapel of the Fumanelli, which is below the wall that supports the choir which was built by the Chevalier Messer Niccolo de' Medici; and a Madonna in fresco in the cloister. And afterwards he painted a portrait from life of Messer Antonio Fumanelli, a physician very famous for the works written by him in connection with his profession. He painted in fresco, also, on a house which is seen on the left hand as one crosses the Ponte delle Navi on the way to S. Paolo, a Madonna with many Saints, which is held to be a very beautiful work, both in design and in colouring; and on the house of the Sparvieri, in the Bra, opposite to the garden of the Friars of S. Fermo, he painted another like it. Francesco painted a number of other works, of which there is no need to make mention, since the best have been described; let it suffice to say that he gave grace, unity, and good design to his pictures, with a colouring as vivid and pleasing as that of any other painter. Francesco lived fifty-five years, and died on May 16, 1529. He chose to be carried to his tomb in the habit of a Friar of S. Francis, and he was buried in S. Domenico, beside his father. He was so good a man, so religious, and so exemplary, that there was never heard to issue from his mouth any word that was otherwise than seemly.

A disciple of Francesco, and much more able than his master, was the Veronese Paolo Cavazzuola, who executed many works in Verona; I say in Verona, because it is not known that he ever worked in any other place. In S. Nazzaro, a seat of Black Friars at Verona, he painted many works in fresco near those of his master Francesco; but these were all thrown to the ground when that church was rebuilt by the pious munificence of the reverend Father, Don Mauro Lonichi, a nobleman of Verona and Abbot of that Monastery. On the old house of the Fumanelli, in the Via del Paradiso, Paolo painted, likewise in fresco, the Sibyl showing to Augustus Our Lord in the heavens, in the arms of His Mother; which work is beautiful enough for one of the first that he executed. On the outer side of the Chapel of the Fontani, in S. Maria in Organo, he painted, also in fresco, two Angels—namely, S. Michael and S. Raphael. In the street into which there opens the Chapel of the Angel Raphael, in S. Eufemia, over a window that gives light to a recess in the staircase of that chapel, he painted the Angel Raphael, and with him Tobias, whom he guided on his journey; which was a very beautiful little work. And in S. Bernardino, in a round picture over the door where there is the bell, he painted a S. Bernardino in fresco, and in another round picture on the same wall, but lower down, and above the entrance to a confessional, a S. Francis, which is beautiful and well executed, as is also the S. Bernardino. These are all the works that Paolo is known to have painted in fresco.

As for his works in oils, he painted a picture of S. Rocco for the altar of the Santificazione in the Church of the Madonna della Scala, in emulation of the S. Sebastian which Il Moro painted for the other side of the same place; which S. Rocco is a very beautiful figure. But the best figures that this painter ever executed are in S. Bernardino, where all the large pictures that are on the altar of the Cross, round the principal altar-piece, are by his hand, excepting that with the Christ Crucified, the Madonna, and S. John, which is above all the others, and is by the hand of his master Francesco. Beside it, in the upper part, are two large pictures by the hand of Paolo, in one of which is Christ being scourged at the Column, and in the other His Coronation, painted with many figures somewhat more than life-size. In the principal picture, which is lower down, in the first range, he painted a Deposition from the Cross, with the Madonna, the Magdalene, S. John, Nicodemus, and Joseph; and he made a portrait of himself, so good that it has the appearance of life, in one of these figures, a young man with a red beard, who is near the Tree of the Cross, with a coif on his head, such as it was the custom to wear at that time. On the right-hand side is a picture by Paolo of Our Lord in the Garden, with the three Disciples near Him; and on the left-hand side is another of Christ with the Cross on His shoulder, being led to Mount Calvary. The excellence of these works, which stand out strongly in comparison with those by the hand of his master that are in the same place, will always give Paolo a place among the best craftsmen.

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