Michael Angelo Buonarroti
by Charles Holroyd
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Michael Angelo Buonarroti By Charles Holroyd,

Keeper of the National Gallery of British Art, with Translations of the Life of the Master by His Scholar, Ascanio Condivi, and Three Dialogues from the Portuguese by Francisco d'Ollanda

London Duckworth and Company

New York Charles Scribner's Sons




From an early proof of the engraving by GIULIO BONASONI (In the Print Room of the British Museum)




Of all the many lives of Michael Angelo that have been written, that by his friend and pupil, Ascanio Condivi, is the most valuable. For not only is it a contemporary record, like the lives inserted by Giorgio Vasari in the two editions of his famous book, "The Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects," published in Florence in 1550 and 1568; but Condivi's work has almost the authority of an autobiography, many phrases are in the same words, as certain letters in the hand of Michael Angelo still in existence, especially those relating to the early life and the ancestry of the master, to his favourite nephew Lionardo, and concerning the whole story of the Tragedy of the Tomb to Francesco Fattucci and others.

Condivi's description of his master's personal appearance is so detailed that we can see him with his sculptor's callipers measuring the head of his dear master, and gazing earnestly into his eyes, recording the colours of their scintillations, with the patience of a painter.

Vasari's account has been translated more than once, but Condivi's never, at least never completely. Extracts have been given, and it has been the main resource of every writer on the master; but the faithful and reverent character of the whole work can only be given in a complete translation, its transparent honesty, and its loving devotion. Even had the subject of this naif and unscholarly narrative been an ordinary man in an ordinary period, it would have been worth translating for its truth to life and human nature, much more, therefore, when it is about the greatest craftsman of the Cinque Cento.

Condivi published his "Vita di Michael Angelo Buonarroti" on July 16, 1553; probably incited thereto by the master himself, who desired to correct certain misstatements of his excellent friend, Giorgio Vasari, without hurting that worthy's feelings. Nevertheless, we gather from what Vasari says in his second edition that he somewhat resented the appearance of this new biographer. Perhaps this coloured his unflattering account of Condivi as an artist, when describing Michael Angelo's scholars: "Ascanio della Ripa took great pains, but no results have been seen, whether in designs or finished works. He spent several years over a picture for which Michael Angelo had given him the cartoon, and, at a word, the hopes conceived of him have vanished in smoke." What a good thing it would have been for Vasari's reputation if his art work had vanished in smoke, too, and only his biographies remained. Condivi lives, as he said he wished to live, in the dedication of his work to Pope Julius III., with the name of being a faithful servant and disciple of Michael Angelo.

A second edition of the "Vita di Michael Angelo," by Ascanio Condivi, was published at Florence in 1746. The introduction informs us that Condivi was born at Ripa Transona, and that he outlived his master ten years, dying on February 17, 1563 (1564), aged nearly eighty-nine years.

The second part of this book may be regarded as an appendix(1) to Condivi. It is a supplementary account of the existing works of the master, and details of their fashioning that may help us to realise the mystery of their production, from contemporary documents: letters, contracts, and the life by Vasari, with some few explanations that will not interest the learned, but may help young students of the works of the great master. Londoners have peculiar facilities for this study. The bas-relief in the Diploma Gallery of the Royal Academy, the drawings in the British Museum, and the unfinished and altered picture at the National Gallery, are an excellent foundation from which to study the casts at Kensington and in the Crystal Palace (the latter are unique in this country, but, alas! in a poor state now). Students of to-day have one immense advantage over those of former times in the magnificent series of photographs that have been issued, especially those of the vault of the Sistine Chapel, which may almost be said never to have been so well seen before.

Since this book went to press, the author has seen an antique intaglio, No. 210 in the Estense Collection at Modena, which he is informed came from Ferrara in 1598, representing a Leda. This confirms the view expressed in the note on page 61, as to the genesis of the Leda by Michael Angelo, for it is exactly similar in composition.

The author desires to express his gratitude to many friends for valuable advice and assistance, especially to his wife for help in the translations, and to Mr. S. Arthur Strong for kindly looking over the proofs, and other aid; to the Earl of Leicester, of Holkham, for permission to photograph and reproduce the Cartoon at Holkham Hall; to the trustees of the British Museum and Mr. Sidney Colvin for facilities to reproduce two engravings in the Print Room; to the Signori Fratelli Alinari, Signor Anderson, Mm. Braun et Cie., and Signor Brogi, for kindly allowing their photographs to be used in making the illustrations.







Michael Angelo Buonarroti, the unique painter and sculptor, was descended from the Counts of Canossa, a noble and illustrious family of the land of Reggio, both on account of their own worth and antiquity, and because they had Imperial blood in their veins.(2) For Beatrice, sister of Enrico II., was given in marriage to Count Bonifazio of Canossa, then Signor of Mantua; the Countess Matilda was their daughter, a lady of rare and singular prudence and piety; who, after the death of her husband Gottifredo, held in Italy (besides Mantua) Lucca, Parma, Reggio, and part of Tuscany, which to-day is called the Patrimonio of San Pietro; and, having in her lifetime done many things worthy of memory, died and was buried in the Badia of San Benedetto, beyond the walls of Mantua, which abbey she had built, and largely endowed.

II. Messer Simone then, of this family, coming to Florence as Podesta(3) in the year 1250, was deemed worthy of being made a citizen, and head of a sesitiere or sixth part of the town, for into so many wards was the township divided at that time; to-day the wards are quartieri or fourth parts. The Guelph party were in power in Florence, and he, from Ghibelline that he was, became Guelph, because of the many benefits he received from that faction, changing the colour of his coat-of-arms, which originally was gules, a dog rampant with a bone in his mouth, argent—to azure, a dog or; and the Signoria afterwards granted him five lilies, gules, in a Rastrello, and at the same time the crest with two horns of a bull, the one or, and the other azure, as may be seen to this day painted on their ancient shields; the old arms of Messer Simone may be seen in the palace of the Podesta, carved in marble by his orders, according to the custom of those who held that office.

III. The reason why the family in Florence changed their name from Canossa to de'Buonarroti was because the name Buonarroto was usual in their house from age to age, almost always, down to the time of Michael Angelo himself, who had a brother called Buonarroto, and many of these Buonarroti being of the Signori, that is of the supreme magistracy of the Republic; the said brother especially, who was of that body at the time when Pope Leo was in Florence, as may be seen in the annals of the city; this name held by so many of them became a surname for the whole family, the more easily as it is the custom of Florence in the lists of voters and other nomination papers, after the proper name of the citizen, to add that of his father, his grandfather, his great-grandfather, and even of those further removed. Therefore, from the many Buonarroti thus continued, and from that Simone who was the first of the family to settle in Florence, and who was of the House of Canossa, they became Buonarroti Simoni, for so they are called at this day. Lastly, Pope Leo X. being at Florence, besides many other privileges, gave to this family the right to bear on their coat the palla or ball, azure, of the arms of the House of Medici, with three lilies, or

IV. Of such family, then, was Michael Angelo born; his father's name was Lodovico di Leonardo Buonarroti Simoni, a good and religious man, somewhat old-fashioned. Michael Angelo was born to him whilst he was Podesta of Chiusi and Caprese(4) in the Casentino, in the year of our salvation 1474,(5) on the sixth day of March, four hours before daylight on a Monday. A fine nativity truly, which showed how great the child would be and of how noble a genius; for the planet Mercury with Venus in seconda being received into the house of Jupiter with benign aspect, promised what afterwards followed, that the birth should be of a noble and high genius, able to succeed in every undertaking, but principally in those arts that delight the senses, such as painting, sculpture, and architecture. Having completed his term of office, the father returned to Florence and put the child out to nurse in the village of Settignano, three miles from the city, where he had a property, which was one of the first places in that country bought by Messer Simone da Canossa. The nurse was a daughter of a stone-carver and the wife of a stone-carver, so Michael Angelo used to say jestingly, but perhaps in earnest too, that it was no wonder he delighted in the use of the chisel, knowing that the milk of the foster-mother has such power in us that often it will change the disposition, one bent being thus altered to another of a very different nature.

V. The child grew and came to be of a reasonable age. His father, noticing his ability, desired that he should devote himself to letters; he therefore sent him to the school of a certain Maestro Francesco da Urbino, who in those days taught grammar in Florence;(6) but although Michael Angelo made progress in these studies, still the heavens and his nature, both difficult to withstand, drew him towards the study of painting, so that he could not resist, whenever he could steal the time, drawing now here, now there, and seeking the company of painters. Amongst his familiar friends was Francesco Granacci, a scholar of Domenico del Grillandaio,(7) who, seeing the ardent longing and burning desire of the child, determined to aid him, and continually exhorted him to the study of art, now lending him drawings and now taking him with him to the workshops of his master when some works were going forward from which he might learn. These sights moved Michael Angelo so powerfully, following as they did his nature, which never ceased to urge him, that he altogether abandoned letters. So that his father and his uncles, who held the art in contempt, were much displeased, and often beat him severely for it: they were so ignorant of the excellence and nobility of art that they thought shame to have her in the house. This, however much he disliked it, was not enough to turn him back, but, on the contrary, made him more bold: he wished to begin to colour, and he borrowed a print from Granacci which represented the story of St. Antony when he was beaten by devils. The engraver was a certain Martino d'Olanda,(8) a brave artist for that time. Michael Angelo painted it on a panel of wood, Granacci lending him colours and brushes, in such a manner that not only did it raise the admiration of every one who saw it, but also envy, as some will have it, even in Domenico, the most famous painter of the day; as may be seen by what happened afterwards. Domenico used to say that the painting came from his own workshop in order to make it appear less wonderful. In this little picture, besides the figure of the Saint, there were many strange forms and monstrosities in the demons; these Michael Angelo executed with so much care that no part of them was coloured without reference to the natural object from which it had been derived. For that purpose he frequented the fish-market and observed the forms and tints of the scales and fins of fish and the colours of their eyes and all their other parts, copying them in his picture, which much conduced to the perfection of that work, exciting the wonder of the world, and, as I have said, some envy in Grillandaio; this was much more seen one day when Michael Angelo asked to see his book of drawings in which were represented shepherds with their flocks and dogs, landscapes, buildings, ruins, and such like things. Domenico would not lend it to him—indeed, he had the reputation of being a little envious: for not only was he hardly courteous to Michael Angelo, but even to his own brother, when he saw that he was progressing rapidly and having great hopes of himself: he sent him into France, not so much that it might be to his advantage, as some say, but that he himself might remain the first artist in Florence. The reason I have mentioned this is because I have heard it said that the son of Domenico attributes the excellence and divinity of Michael Angelo in great part to the training he received from his father: he received absolutely no assistance from him;(9) nevertheless, Michael Angelo does not complain of it, nay, even praises Domenico both for his art and his manners. But this is a slight digression; let us return to our story.

VI. Possibly not less wonderful was another labour of Michael Angelo's done at this time, perhaps as a jest. Some one lent him a drawing of a head to copy; he returned his copy to the owner instead of the original and the deception was not noticed, but the boy talking and laughing about it with one of his companions it was found out. Many people compared the two and found no difference in them, for besides the perfection of the drawing, Michael Angelo had smoked the paper to make it appear of the same age as the original. This brought him a great reputation.(10)

VII. Now drawing one thing and now another, the boy had no fixed plan or method of study. It happened one day that Granacci took him to the gardens of the Medici at San Marco. In this garden the Magnificent Lorenzo, father of Pope Leo, a man renowned for every excellence, had disposed many antique statues and decorative sculptures. Michael Angelo, seeing these things and appreciating the beauty of them, never afterwards went to the workshop of Domenico, but spent every day at the gardens, as in a better school, always working at something or other. Amongst the rest, he studied one day the head of a Faun, in appearance very old, with a long beard and a laughing face, although the mouth could hardly be seen because of the injuries of time. As if knowing what would be, or because he liked the style of it, he determined to copy it in marble. The Magnificent Lorenzo was having some marble worked and dressed in that place to ornament the most noble library that he and his ancestors had gathered together from all parts of the world. (These works, suspended on account of the death of Lorenzo and other accidents, were, after many years, carried on by Pope Clement, but even then they were left unfinished, so that the books are still packed in chests.) Now these marbles being worked, as I said, Michael Angelo begged a piece from the masons and borrowed a chisel from them: with so much diligence and intelligence did he copy that Faun that in a few days it was carried to perfection, his imagination supplying all that was missing in the antique, such as the lips, open, as in a man who is laughing, so that the hollow of the mouth was seen with all the teeth. At this moment passed the Magnificent to see how his works progressed; he found the child, who was busy polishing the head. He spoke to him at once, noticing in the first place the beauty of the work, and having regard to the lad's youth he marvelled exceedingly, and although he praised the workmanship he none the less joked with him as with a child, saying: "Oh! you have made this Faun very old, and yet have left him all his teeth: do you not know that old men of that age always lack some of them?" It seemed a thousand years to Michael Angelo before the Magnificent went away and he remained alone to correct his error. He cut away a tooth from the upper jaw, drilling a hole in the gums as though it had come out by the roots.(11) He awaited the return of the Magnificent upon another day with great longing. At last he came. Seeing the willingness and single-mindedness of the child he laughed very much, but afterwards appreciating the beauty of the thing and the boy's youth, as father of all talent he thought to bestow his favour upon such a genius and take him into his house, and hearing from him whose son he was, he said: "Let your father know that I desire to speak with him."

VIII. When he got home Michael Angelo carried out the embassy of the Magnificent; his father divining why he was called, with great persuasion from Granacci and others made ready to go: lamenting to himself that his son would be taken away. Stating, moreover, that he would never suffer his son to be a stonemason, it was useless for Granacci to explain how great was the difference between a sculptor and a mason. After all this long disputation he ultimately was ushered into the presence of the Magnificent, who asked him if he would deliver his son over to his care, for he would not neglect him; "Even so," he replied, "not only Michael Angelo, but all of us, with our lives and all our best faculties, are at the service of your Magnificence." And when the Magnificent asked what he could do for himself, he replied: "I have never practised any profession; but have always lived upon my small income and attended to the small property left to me by my ancestors; trying not only to keep it up properly, but also endeavouring to increase it as far as I may with my powers and by my diligence." The Magnificent then replied: "Very well, look about you, see if there is not something in Florence that will suit you; make use of me; I will do the best I can for you." And so dismissing the old man, he gave Michael Angelo a good room in his own house with all that he needed,(12) treating him like a son, with a seat at his table, which was frequented every day by noblemen and men of great affairs. Now they had a custom that those who were present at the beginning of a meal should take their places next to the Magnificent according to their rank, and should not change them, no matter who came in afterwards; so that often Michael Angelo was seated even above the sons of Lorenzo and other persons of quality; for in that house noble persons abounded: by all of them Michael Angelo was caressed and incited to his honourable work; but above all by the Magnificent, who would often call for him many times in the day to show him engraved gems,(13) cornelians, medals, and such like things of great price, seeing that he had genius and good judgment.

IX. Michael Angelo was between fifteen and sixteen years of age when he entered the house of the Magnificent, and he stayed with him until his death, which was in ninety-two,(14) a space of two years. During that time an office in the customs fell vacant which could only be held by a Florentine citizen; so Lodovico, the father of Michael Angelo, came to the Magnificent and spoke for it: "Lorenzo, I can do nothing but read and write; the comrade of Marco Pucci in the Dogana is dead. I should like to have his place. I believe I shall be able to carry out the duties properly." The Magnificent put his hand upon his shoulder and, smiling, said: "You will always be poor," for he expected that he would ask for some great thing. However, he continued, "If you will be the comrade of Marco, be it so, till something better turns up." This place brought him eight scudi(15) the month, a little more or a little less.

X. In the meantime Michael Angelo prosecuted his studies, showing the result of his labours to the Magnificent each day. In the same house lived Poliziano, a man, as every one knows, and as is testified by his works, most learned and witty. This man recognising the lofty spirit of Michael Angelo loved him exceedingly, and little as he needed it, spurred him on in his studies, always explaining things to him and giving him subjects. One day, amongst others, he suggested "The Rape of Deianira" and "The Battle of the Centaurs," telling him in detail the whole of the story. Michael Angelo set himself to carve it out in marble in mezzo-rilievo, and so well did he succeed, that I remember to have heard him say that when he saw it again he recognised how much wrong he had done to his nature in not following promptly the art of sculpture, judging by that work how well he might have succeeded, nor does he say this boastingly, he was a most modest man, but because he truly laments having been so unfortunate that by the fault of others he has sometimes been ten or twelve years doing nothing, as will be seen presently. This particular work may still be seen in Florence in his house; the figures are about two palms high.(16) He had hardly finished this work when the Magnificent Lorenzo passed out of this life, and Michael Angelo returned to his father's house. So much grief did he feel for his patron's death that for many days he was unable to work. When he was himself again he bought a large piece of marble, that had for many years been exposed to the wind and rain, and carved a Hercules out of it, four braccia high, that was ultimately sent into France.(17)

XI. Whilst he was working at this statue there was a great snowstorm in Florence, and Pier de' Medici, the eldest son of Lorenzo, who occupied the same position as his father, wished childishly to have a statue of snow made in the middle of the court-yard, so he remembered Michael Angelo, and had him found and made him carve the statue.(18) He desired him to live in his house as he had done in his father's time, and gave him the same apartment and a place at the table as before; where the same customs obtained as when the father was living, that is, that after they had sat down at the beginning of a meal no one should change his place however great might be the personage who came in afterwards.

XII. Lodovico, the father of Michael Angelo, now became more friendly to his son, seeing that he was almost always in the society of great personages, and he dressed him in finer clothes. The youth lived with Piero some months and was much caressed by him. Piero used to say, boastingly, that he had two remarkable men in his establishment: one was Michael Angelo, and the other a certain Spanish groom who, besides being marvellously beautiful to look upon, was so nimble and strong and so long-winded that, let Piero ride as fast as he could, he was not able to pass the runner by a finger.

XIII. At this time, Michael Angelo, to please the Prior of Santo Spirito, a church much venerated in Florence, carved a crucifix in wood, a little under life size, which to this day may be seen over the high altar of that church.(19) He had much familiar intercourse with the Prior, and received many kindnesses from him, amongst others the use of a room and subjects to enable him to study anatomy. Nothing could have given him more pleasure, and this was the beginning of his study of the science of anatomy, which he followed until fortune had made him a master of it.(20)

XIV. There was living in the house of Piero a certain man named Cardiere, who had been very acceptable to the Magnifico, he improvised songs to the lyre most marvellously; in fact, he made a profession of it, and practised his art nearly every evening after supper. This man was friendly with Michael Angelo and imparted to him a vision, which was this: That Lorenzo de' Medici had appeared to him with nothing but a black cloak, all torn, over his naked body, and had commanded him to speak to his son, and tell him that shortly he would be hunted out of his house and never return to it again. Piero de' Medici was so proud and insolent that neither the generosity of his brother, Giovanni the Cardinal, nor the courtesy and kindness of Giuliano, were so powerful to keep him in Florence as those vices were to hunt him out. Michael Angelo exhorted Cardiere to inform Piero of the vision and carry out the will of Lorenzo, but he, fearing Piero's nature, kept all to himself. One other morning Michael Angelo was in the court-yard of the Palace, and beheld Cardiere all terrified and weeping: that night, he said, Lorenzo had appeared to him again in the same form as at first, and looking him through and through had given him a terrible box on the ears, because he had not reported what he had seen to Piero. Michael Angelo scolded him to such purpose that Cardiere plucked up his spirit and set out on foot for Careggi, a country house of the Medici, about three miles from the city, where his master was staying. But when he was half-way there he met Piero on the road returning home to Florence; Cardiere stopped him and told him all he had seen and heard. Piero only laughed at him, and made even his grooms jeer at him. The Chancellor, who was afterwards the Cardinal Bibbiena, said to him: "You must be mad! Do you think Lorenzo would rather appear to you or to his own son? Would he not rather appear to him than to any one else?" They ridiculed him and let him go. He went home and bemoaned himself to Michael Angelo, and he spoke so effectually of the vision, holding that the thing was true, that two days afterwards with two companions they left Florence together for Bologna, and from there went to Venice, fearful lest that which Cardiere prophesied should come to pass, and Florence not be safe for them!

XV. In a few days lack of funds (his companions having spent all his money) made Michael Angelo think of returning to Florence; but coming to Bologna a curious chance hindered them. Now there was a law in that land in the time of Messer Giovanni Bentivogli that every stranger who entered into Bologna should be obliged to have a great seal of red wax impressed upon his nail. Michael Angelo inadvertently entered without being sealed, so he was conducted, together with his companions, to the office of the Bullette, and condemned to pay a fine of fifty Bolognese lire: not having the wherewithal he was obliged to remain at the office. A certain Bolognese gentleman, Messer Gian Francesco Aldovrandi, who was then of the Sixteen, seeing him there, and hearing the reason, liberated him, chiefly because he was a sculptor. Aldovrandi invited the sculptor to his house. Michael Angelo thanked him, but excused himself because he had two companions with him who would not leave him, and he would not burden the gentleman with their company. To this the gentleman replied: "I, too, will come and wander over the world with you, if you will pay my expenses." With these and other words he prevailed over Michael Angelo, who excused himself to his companions and took leave of them, gave them what little money he had, and went to lodge with the gentleman.

XVI. By this time the House of the Medici, with all their followers, having been hunted out of Florence, came to Bologna and were lodged in the House of the Rossi. Thus the vision of Cardiere, whether a delusion of the devil, a divine warning, or a strong imagination that had taken hold of him, was verified; a thing so truly remarkable that it is worthy of being recorded. I have narrated it just as I heard it from Michael Angelo himself. It was about three years after the death of the Magnificent Lorenzo that his children were exiled from Florence, so that Michael Angelo was between twenty and twenty-one years of age when he escaped the first popular tumults by remaining with the aforesaid gentleman of Bologna until the city of Florence settled down again. This gentleman honoured him highly, delighting in his genius, and every evening he made him read something from Dante or from Petrarca, or now and then from Boccaccio, until he fell asleep.

XVII. One day walking together in Bologna they went to see the ark of San Domenico, in the Church dedicated to that Saint; two marble figures were still lacking, a San Petronio and a kneeling angel supporting a candlestick in his arms. The gentleman asked Michael Angelo if he had the heart to undertake them, and he replying "yes," had it arranged that he should have them to do; he was paid thirty ducats for it, eighteen for the San Petronio, and twelve for the angel. The figures were three palms high; they may still be seen in that same place. But afterwards Michael Angelo mistrusted a Bolognese sculptor, who complained that he had taken away the commission for the before-mentioned statues from him, as it had first been promised to him, and as he threatened to do him an injury Michael Angelo went back to Florence to accommodate matters,(21) as affairs had now become quiet and he could live safely in his house. He remained with Messer Gian Francesco Aldovrandi a little over a year.



XVIII. Having returned to his native town Michael Angelo set to work to carve out of marble a god of Love, between six and seven years of age, lying asleep; this figure was seen by Lorenzo di Pier Francesco de' Medici (for whom in the meantime Michael Angelo had carved a little Saint John), and he judged that it was most beautiful and said of it: "If you can manage to make it look as if it had been buried under the earth I will forward it to Rome, it will be taken for an antique and you will sell it much better." Michael Angelo hearing this immediately prepared it as one from whom no craft was hidden, so that it looked as if it had been made many years ago. In this state it was sent to Rome; the Cardinal di San Giorgio bought it as an antique for two hundred ducats; though the man who took all that money only paid thirty ducats to Michael Angelo as what he had received for the Cupid. So much of a rogue was he that he deceived at the same time both Lorenzo di Pier Francesco and Michael Angelo.(22) But meanwhile it came to the ear of the Cardinal how the putto was made in Florence. Angry at being made a fool of, he sent one of his gentlemen there, who pretended to be looking for a sculptor to do some work in Rome. After visiting many others he came to the house of Michael Angelo; with a wary eye for what he wanted he observed the young man and inquired of him if he could let him see any work; but Michael Angelo not having any to show, took a pen (for in those days the pencil was not in general use) and drew a hand with so much ease that the gentleman was astonished. Afterwards he inquired if he had never done any works of sculpture. Yes, replied Michael Angelo, and amongst the rest a Cupid, in such and such a pose and action. The gentleman understood then that he had found the man he sought, and narrated how the affair had gone, and promised him that if he would come with him to Rome he would make the dealer disgorge, and arrange matters with his lord which he knew would be much to his satisfaction. Michael Angelo then, partly to see Rome, so much be praised by the gentleman as the widest field for a man to show his genius in, went with him and lodged in his house near the palace of the Cardinal, who, advised by letter in the meantime how the matter stood, laid hands on the merchant who had sold the Cupid to him as an antique, returned the statue to him, and got his money back; it afterwards came, I know not how, into the hands of the Duke Valentino, and was presented to the Marchesana of Mantua. She sent it to Mantua, where it is still to be found in the house of the lords of that city.(23) The Cardinal di San Giorgio was blamed in this affair by many, for the work was seen by all the craftsmen of Rome, and all, equally, considered it most beautiful; they thought that he ought not to have deprived himself of it for the sake of two hundred scudi, although it was modern, as he was a very rich man. But he, smarting under the deceit, being able to punish the man, made him disburse the remainder of the payment. But nobody suffered more than Michael Angelo, who never received anything more for it than the money paid him in Florence. Cardinal di San Giorgio understood little and was no judge of sculpture, as is shown clearly enough by the fact that all the time Michael Angelo remained with him, which was about a year, he did not give him a single commission.(24)

XIX. All the same, others were not wanting who understood such things and who made use of Michael Angelo. For Messer Iacopo Galli, a Roman gentleman of good understanding, made him carve a marble Bacchus, ten palms in height, in his house; this work in form and bearing in every part corresponds to the description of the ancient writers—his aspect, merry; the eyes, squinting and lascivious, like those of people excessively given to the love of wine. He holds a cup in his right hand, like one about to drink, and looks at it lovingly, taking pleasure in the liquor of which he was the inventor; for this reason he is crowned with a garland of vine leaves. On his left arm he has a tiger's skin, the animal dedicated to him, as one that lives on grapes; and the skin was represented rather than the animal, as Michael Angelo desired to signify that he who allows his senses to be overcome by the appetite for that fruit, and the liquor pressed from it, ultimately loses his life. In his left hand he holds a bunch of grapes, which a merry and alert little satyr at his feet furtively enjoys. He appears to be about seven years old, and the Bacchus eighteen.(25) The said Messer Iacopo desired also that he would carve him a little Cupid.(26) Both of these works may still be seen in the house of Messer Giuliano and Messer Paolo Galli, courteous and worthy gentlemen, with whom Michael Angelo has always retained a real and cordial friendship.

XX. A little afterwards, at the request of the Cardinal de San Dionigi (called the Cardinal Rovano), he carved from a block of marble that marvellous statue of our Lady, which is now in the church of the Madonna della Febbre;(27) although at first it was placed in the chapel of the King of France in the Church of Santa Petronilla, near to the Sacristy of Saint Peter's, formerly, according to some, a temple of Mars; this church was destroyed by Bramante for the sake of his design for the new Saint Peter's. The Madonna is seated on the stone upon which the Cross was erected, with her dead son on her lap. He is of so great and so rare a beauty, that no one beholds it but is moved to pity. A figure truly worthy of the Humanity which belonged to the Son of God, and to such a Mother; nevertheless, some there be who complain that the Mother is too young compared to the Son. One day as I was talking to Michael Angelo of this objection, "Do you not know," he said, "that chaste women retain their fresh looks much longer than those who are not chaste? How much more, therefore, a virgin in whom not even the least unchaste desire ever arose? And I tell you, moreover, that such freshness and flower of youth besides being maintained in her by natural causes, it may possibly be that it was ordained by the Divine Power to prove to the world the virginity and perpetual purity of the Mother. It was not necessary in the Son; but rather the contrary; wishing to show that the Son of God took upon himself a true human body subject to all the ills of man, excepting only sin; he did not allow the divine in him to hold back the human, but let it run its course and obey its laws, as was proved in His appointed time. Do not wonder then that I have, for all these reasons, made the most Holy Virgin, Mother of God, a great deal younger in comparison with her Son than she is usually represented. To the Son I have allotted His full age." Considerations worthy of any theologian, wonderful perhaps in any one else, but not in Michael Angelo, whom God and Nature have formed not only for his unique craftsmanship, but also capable of any, the most divine, conceptions, as may be seen not only in this but in very many of his arguments and writings. He may have been twenty-four or twenty-five years old when he finished this work. He gained great fame and reputation by it, so that already, in the opinion of the world, not only did he greatly surpass all others of the time and of the times before, but also he challenged the ancients themselves.



XXI. These works being finished, he had to return to Florence for family affairs; he stayed there long enough to carve the statue called by all men the Giant, which is placed to this day by the door of the Palazzo della Signoria at the end of the balustrade.(28) The thing happened in this wise. The Operai(29) of Santa Maria del Fiore possessed a piece of marble nine braccia high, which had been brought from Carrara by an artist(30) who was not so wise as he ought to have been, as it appeared. Because to transport the marble with greater convenience and less labour, he had roughed it out on the quay itself in such a clumsy way, however, that neither he nor any one else had the courage to put their hands to the block to carve a statue out of it, either of the full size of the marble or even one very much less. As they were not able to get anything out of this piece of marble likely to be any good, it seemed to Andrea del Monte a San Savino, that he might obtain the block, and he asked them to make him a present of it, promising that by joining certain pieces on to it he would carve a figure from it; but the Operai, before disposing of it, sent for Michael Angelo, and told him the wish and offer of Andrea, and, having heard his opinion that he could get something good out of it, in the end they offered it to him. Michael Angelo accepted it, and extracted the above-mentioned statue without adding any other piece at all, so exactly to size that the old surface of the outsides of the marble may be seen on the top of the head and in the base. He has left the same roughnesses in other of his works, as that statue for the tomb of Pope Julius II., which represents Contemplative Life. This is the custom of great masters, lords of their art. But in the Giant it is more wonderful than ever, because, besides not adding any pieces, he amended the faults of the roughing out, an impossible or, at least, a most difficult thing to do (as Michael Angelo himself has said). He received four hundred ducats for this work, and finished it in eighteen months.

XXII. In order that no copy of the Giant should exist which was not his own handiwork, he had it cast in bronze, of the size of the original, for his good friend Pier Soderini, who sent it to France; and similarly he cast a David with Goliath under him. The one to be seen in the middle of the court-yard of the Palazzo de'Signori is by Donatello, a man excellent in his art, and much praised by Michael Angelo, except for one thing—he had not the patience to properly polish his works; so that in the distance they look admirable, but close to they lose their quality. Michael Angelo also cast a bronze group of the Madonna with her Son in her lap, which was sent into Flanders(31) by certain Flemish merchants, the Moscheroni, great people at home; they paid him one hundred ducats for it. And, in order not altogether to give up painting, he executed a round panel of Our Lady(32) for Messer Agnolo Doni, a Florentine citizen, for which he received seventy ducats.

XXIII. It was some time since he had worked at that art, having given himself up to the study of poets and authors in the vulgar tongue and writing sonnets for his own pleasure. After the death of Pope Alexander VI. he was called to Rome by Pope Julius II., and received a hundred ducats in Florence as his viaticum. At this time Michael Angelo was about twenty-nine years old; for if we count from his birth in 1474, already stated, to the death of the above Alexander, which was in 1503, we shall find the number of years as given.



XXIV. Coming then to Rome, many months(33) passed before Julius II. resolved in what way to employ him. Ultimately it came into his head to get him to make his monument. When he saw Michael Angelo's design it pleased him so much that he at once sent him to Carrara to quarry the necessary marbles, instructing Alamanno Salviati, of Florence, to pay him a thousand ducats for this purpose. Michael Angelo stayed in these mountains more than eight months with two workmen and his horse, and without any other salary except his food. One day whilst he was there he saw a crag that overlooked the sea, which made him wish to carve a colossus that would be a landmark for sailors from a long way off, incited thereto principally by the suitable shape of the rock from which it could have been conveniently carved, and by emulation of the ancients, who, perhaps with the same object as Michael Angelo not to be idle, or for some other end, left several records unfinished and sketched out, which give a good idea of their powers. And of a surety he would have done it if he had had time enough, or the business upon which he had come had allowed him. He afterwards much regretted not having carried it out. Enough marbles quarried and chosen, he took them to the sea coast and left one of his men to have them embarked. He himself returned to Rome, and because he stopped some days in Florence on the way, when he arrived at Rome he found the first boat already at the Ripa(34) unloading. He had the blocks carried to the piazza of St. Peter's, behind Santa Caterina, where he had his workshop near the Corridore.(35) The quantity of marble was immense, so that, spread over the piazza, they were the admiration of all and a joy to the Pope, who heaped immeasurable favours upon Michael Angelo; and when he began to work upon them again and again went to see him at his house, and talked with him of monuments and other matters as with his own brother; and in order that he might more easily go to him, the Pope ordered that a drawbridge should be thrown across from the Corridore to the rooms of Michael Angelo, by which he might visit him in private.

XXV. These many and frequent favours were the cause (as often is the case at Court) of much envy, and, after the envy, of endless persecution, since Bramante, the architect, who was much loved by the Pope, made him change his mind as to the monument by telling him, as is said by the vulgar, that it is unlucky to build one's tomb in one's lifetime. Fear as well as envy stimulated Bramante, for the judgment of Michael Angelo had exposed many of his errors. Bramante, as every one knows, was given to all kinds of pleasures and a great spendthrift. The pension allotted to him by the Pope, however rich it might be, was not enough for him; he tried to make money out of the works, building the walls of bad materials, which, notwithstanding their greatness and width, are not very firm or solid. As is manifest to every one in the works of Saint Peter's, the Corridore di Belvedere, the Convents di San Pietro ad Vincula, and other fabrics built by him, it has been necessary to put new foundations and to strengthen all of them by props and buttresses, like buildings about to fall. Now because he had no doubt that Michael Angelo knew these errors of his, he always sought to remove him from Rome, or, at least, to deprive him of the favour of the Pope, and of the glory and usefulness that he might have acquired by his industry. He succeeded in the matter of the tomb. There is no doubt that if he had been allowed to finish it, according to his first design,(36) having so large a field in which to show his worth, no other artist, however celebrated (be it said without envy), could have wrested from him the high place he would have held. Those parts which he did finish show what the rest would have been like. The two slaves were done for this work: those who have seen them declare that no such worthy statues were ever carved.

XXVI. And to give some idea of it, I say briefly that this tomb was to have had four faces, two of eighteen braccia, that served for the flanks, so that it was to be a square and a half in plan. All round about the outside were niches for statues, and between niche and niche terminal figures; to these were bound other statues, like prisoners, upon certain square plinths, rising from the ground and projecting from the monument. They represented the liberal arts, as Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, each with her symbol so that they could easily be recognised; denoting by this that, like Pope Julius, all the virtues were the prisoners of Death, because they would never find such favour and nourishment as he gave them. Above these ran the cornice that tied all the work together. On its plane were four great statues; one of these, the Moses, may be seen in San Piero and Vincula. It shall be spoken of in its proper place. So the work mounted upward until it ended in a plane. Upon it were two angels who supported an arc; one appeared to be smiling as though he rejoiced that the soul of the Pope had been received amongst the blessed spirits, the other wept, as if sad that the world had been deprived of such a man. Above one end was the entrance to the sepulchre in a small chamber, built like a temple; in the middle was a marble sarcophagus, where the body of the Pope was to be buried; everything worked out with marvellous art. Briefly, more than forty statues went to the whole work, not counting the subjects in mezzo rilievo to be cast in bronze, all appropriate in their stories and proclaiming the acts of this great Pontiff.

XXVII. Having seen this design the Pope sent Michael Angelo to Saint Peter's to decide where it might most conveniently be erected. The church was in the form of a cross. At the head Pope Nicolas V. had begun to rebuild the tribune; the walls were already three braccia above the ground when he died. It seemed to Michael Angelo that this place was very suitable. When he returned to the Pope he told him what he thought, and added, that if it seemed good to his Holiness, it would be necessary to go on with the building and roof it in. The Pope asked him, "What would be the cost of this?" Michael Angelo replied, "One hundred thousand scudi." "Let it be two hundred thousand," said Julius. And sending San Gallo, the architect, and Bramante to see the place, by their suggestion it came into the mind of the Pope to rebuild the church altogether. He directed them to prepare designs, and that of Bramante was approved, as being more graceful and better understood than the others. Thus, Michael Angelo was the cause, both that those parts of the building already begun were completed, which otherwise might have remained as they were to this day, and that it came into the mind of the Pope to rebuild the rest of the church on a more magnificent scale.

XXVIII. Returning to our story, Michael Angelo became acquainted with the change in the wishes of Julius in the following manner: The Pope instructed Michael Angelo that if he needed money he was to come direct to him and not to others, so that he might not have to go from one to another for it. It happened one day that the rest of the marbles that had been left at Carrara arrived at the Ripa; Michael Angelo had them disembarked and carried to Saint Peter's, and desiring at once to pay the freight, the landing, and the porterage, he went to ask the Pope for money, but found access to the palace more difficult than usual, and his Holiness occupied. So he returned home, and not to incommode the poor men who had earned their wages he paid them all out of his own pocket, thinking that his money would be returned by the Pope at a more convenient season. One morning he returned and entered the ante-chamber for an audience. A groom came up to him and said: "Pardon me, I have been ordered not to admit you." A bishop was present, and hearing the words of the man, cried out: "You cannot know who this man is?" "I know him very well," replied the groom, "but I am obliged to do what I am bid by my masters without further question." Michael Angelo, who had never before been kept waiting or had the door barred against him, seeing himself so turned off and scorned, was angered and replied: "You may tell the Pope that, henceforward, if he wants me he must look for me elsewhere." So he returned to his house and instructed his two servants to sell all his furniture, and when they got the money to follow him to Florence. He himself took horse and at the second hour of the night reached Poggibonsi, a castle in the Florentine territory, eighteen or twenty miles from the city, where, as in a safe place, he rested.

XXIX. A little later five messengers from Pope Julius arrived with orders to bring Michael Angelo back wherever they might find him. But overtaking him in a place where they were unable to offer him any violence, Michael Angelo threatening them with death if they dare lay hands on him, they turned to entreaties; then not succeeding, they obtained from him the concession that at least he would reply to the letter from the Pope which they had given to him, and that he should particularly write that they had only overtaken him in Florence that the Pope might understand that they were unable to bring him back against his will. The letter of the Pope was of this tenour: "At sight of this return immediately to Rome, under pain of my displeasure." Michael Angelo replied briefly: "That he was never going to return, and that his good and faithful service had not deserved this change, to be hunted away from his presence like a rogue; and as his Holiness did not wish to have anything more to do with the tomb, he was free and did not wish to bind himself again." So dating the letter as has been said he let the messengers go, he himself went on to Florence, where, during the three months he remained there, three Briefs were sent to the Signoria, full of menaces, demanding that he should be sent back either by fair means or force.

XXX. Pier Soderini, who was then Gonfaloniere of the Republic for life, having formerly let him go to Rome much against his will, wished him to work for him by painting in the Sala del Consiglio. On receipt of the first Brief he did not oblige Michael Angelo to return, hoping that the anger of the Pope would abate; but when a second and a third arrived, he called Michael Angelo to him and said: "_You have braved the Pope as the King of France would not have done, therefore prayer is unavailing. We do not wish to go to war with him on your _account and risk the State, so prepare yourself to return_."(37) Michael Angelo, seeing it had come to this, and fearing the wrath of the Pope, thought of going to the Levant, principally because he had been sought after by the Turk with rich promises, through the agency of certain Franciscan Friars, to throw a bridge from Constantinople to Pera, and for other works. But the Gonfaloniere, hearing of this, sent for him and dissuaded him, saying: "_That it was better to die with the Pope than to live with the Turk; nevertheless, there was nothing to fear, for the Pope was kind, and sent for him because he loved him well, not because he wished him harm; and if he was still afraid, the Signoria would send him as ambassador, because violence was not offered to public persons without it being offered to those who sent them._" By reason of these and other arguments Michael Angelo prepared to return.

XXXI. Whilst he was still in Florence two things happened. One was that he finished the marvellous cartoon he had begun for the Sala del Consiglio, which represented the war between Florence and Pisa, and the many and various events that occurred in it, which cartoon of consummate art was a light to all those who afterwards took pencil in hand. I cannot tell what evil fortune happened to it afterwards, it was left by Michael Angelo in the Sala del Papa (a place so called in Florence) at Santa Maria Novella. Fragments of it can be seen in the various places, preserved with greatest care like something sacred.(38) The other thing was, that Pope Julius had taken Bologna and had gone there; he was delighted with the acquisition, and this gave courage to Michael Angelo to appear before him more hopefully.



XXXII. So he arrived at Bologna one morning, and going to San Petronio to hear mass,(39) behold, the grooms of the Pope, who recognised him and conducted him to his Holiness, who was at table in the Palazzo de' Sedici. When he saw Michael Angelo in his presence, Julius, with an angry look, said to him, "_You ought to have come to us, and you have waited for us to come to you_." Meaning to say, that his Holiness being come to Bologna, a place much nearer to Florence than Rome is, it was as if he (the Pope) had come to him. Michael Angelo with a loud voice and on his knees craved pardon, pleading that he had not erred maliciously but through indignation, for he could not bear to be hunted away as he had been. The Pope kept his head lowered and replied nothing, to all appearances much troubled, when a certain monsignore, sent by the Cardinal Soderini to excuse and intercede for Michael Angelo, broke in, saying: "_Your Holiness, do not remember his fault, for he has erred through ignorance; these painters in things outside their art are all like this._" The Pope indignantly replied: "_You _abuse him, whilst we say nothing; you are the ignorant one, and he is not the culprit; take yourself off in an evil hour._" But as he was not going, he was, as Michael Angelo used to tell, hustled out of the room with blows by the servants of the Pope. Thus the Pope having spent his fury on the bishop, called Michael Angelo closer to him, and pardoned him, ordering him not to leave Bologna until another commission had been given to him. Nor was he long before he sent for him and said that he wished Michael Angelo to make a great portrait statue of him in bronze, which he wished to place on the front of the Church of San Petronio. And he left a thousand ducats in the bank of Messer Antommaria da Lignano to carry out the work when he departed for Rome. It is true that before he left Michael Angelo had already modelled it in clay, but he was doubtful as to what the statue should hold in the left hand, the right was raised as if giving a benediction. He asked the Pope, who had come to see the statue, if it pleased him that he should be made holding a book. "_What! a book?_" he replied, "_a sword! As for me, I am no scholar._" And jesting about the right hand, which was in vigorous action, he said, smiling the while, to Michael Angelo, "_Does this statue of yours give a blessing or a curse?_" Michael Angelo replied to him: "_It threatens this people, Holy Father, lest they be foolish._" But, as I have said, Pope Julius returned to Rome and Michael Angelo remained behind at Bologna, and spent sixteen months in completing the statue and erecting it where the Pope had directed. Afterwards, on the return of the Bentivogli to Bologna, this statue was thrown to earth in the fury of the populace and destroyed. Its height was more than three times that of life.



XXXIII. After he had finished this work he went to Rome, where Pope Julius wished to employ him, keeping still to his purpose of not going on with his tomb. It was put into his head by Bramante and other rivals of Michael Angelo that he should make him paint the vault of the chapel of Sixtus the Fourth, in the Vatican, making him believe that he would do wonders. This was done maliciously, to distract the Pope from works of sculpture; and because they thought it was certain, either, that by his not accepting such a commission, he would stir up the Pope's anger against himself, or that by accepting it he would come out of it very much inferior to Raffaello da Urbino, whom they heaped with favours on account of their hatred for Michael Angelo, judging that his principal art was sculpture, as in truth it was. Michael Angelo, who as yet had never used colours and knew the painting of the vault to be a very difficult undertaking, tried with all his power to get out of it, proposing Raffaello and excusing himself, in that it was not his art and that he would not succeed, refusing so many demands that the Pope was almost in a passion. But seeing his obstinacy, Michael Angelo set himself to do the work, which to-day is seen in the palace of the Pope, and is the admiration and wonder of the world; it brought him so much fame that it lifted him above all envy. I will give some brief account of this work.

XXXIV. The shape of this ceiling is what is commonly called a barrel vaulting, resting on lunettes, six to the length and two to the width of the building, so that the whole formed two squares and a half. In this space Michael Angelo has depicted, firstly, the creation of the world, and then almost the whole of the Old Testament. He has divided the work after this fashion: Beginning at the brackets, where the horns of the lunettes rest, up to almost a third of the arch of the vault, the walls appear to continue flat, running up to that height with certain pilasters and plinths imitating marble, which project into the open like a balustrade over an additional storey, with corbels below, and with other little pilasters above the same storey, where sit the prophets and sybils. The first pilasters grow from the arches of the lunettes, placing the pedestals in the middle, leaving, however, the greater part of the arch of the lunette—that is to say, the space they contain between them. Above the said plinths are painted some little naked children in various poses, who, in guise of terminals, support a cornice, which binds the whole work together, leaving in the middle of the vault from end to end, as it were, the open sky. This opening is divided into nine spaces; for from the cornices over the pilasters spring certain arches with cornices, which traverse the highest part of the vault, and join the cornice on the opposite side of the chapel, leaving from arch to arch nine openings, large and small. In the smaller spaces are two fillets, painted like marble that cross the opening in such a way that in the middle rest the two parts and one of the bands, where medallions are placed, as shall be told in due course; and this has been done to avoid monotony, which is born of sameness. Now, at the head of the chapel, in the first opening, which is one of the smaller ones, is seen how the Omnipotent God in the heavens by the movement of His arms divides light from darkness. In the second space is how He created the two great lights. The Creator is seen with arms extended: with the right He lights the sun, and with the left the moon. With Him are child-angels; one on the left hides his face against the bosom of his Creator, as though shielding himself from the harmful light of the moon. In the same space on the left God is seen turning to create the trees and plants of the earth, painted with such art that wherever you turn He appears to turn away also, showing the whole of the back down to the soles of His feet—a thing most beautiful, and which shows what may be done by foreshortening. In the third space the great God appears in the heavens, again with a company of angels, looking upon the waters and commanding them to bring forth all those forms of life nourished in that element, just as in the second He commands the earth. In the fourth is the creation of Man. God is seen with arm and hand stretched forth as if giving His commandments to Adam, what to do and what not to do; with His other arm He draws His angels about Him. In the fifth is how He drew woman from the side of Adam. She comes forth with her hands joined, raising them in prayer towards God, bending with gracious mien and offering thanks as He blesses her. In the sixth is how the Devil tempted man. From the middle upwards the wicked one is of human form, and the rest of him like unto a serpent, his legs transformed into tails winding around a tree. He seems to reason with the man and persuade him to act contrary to the commands of his Creator, and he offers the forbidden apple to the woman. On the other side of the space the two are seen driven forth by the angel, terrified and weeping, flying from the face of God. In the seventh is the sacrifice of Abel and of Cain;(40) the one grateful to and accepted by God, the other hateful and refused. In the eighth is the Deluge, when the ark of Noah is seen in the distance in the midst of the waters; some men attempt to cling to it for safety. Nearer, in the same abyss of waters, is a boat laden with many people, which, both by the excessive weight she has to carry and by the many and tumultuous lashings of the waves, loses her sail, and, deprived of every aid and human control, she is already filling with water and going to the bottom. It is an admirable thing to see the human race so wretchedly perishing in the waves. Likewise, nearer to the eye, there still appears above the waters the summit of a mountain, like unto an island, on which, fleeing from the rising waters, collect a multitude of men and women, who exhibit different expressions, but all wretched and all terrified, dragging themselves beneath a curtain stretched over a tree to shelter them from the unusual rains; and above them is represented with great art the anger of God, which overwhelms them with water, with lightnings, and with thunderbolts. There is also another mountain-top on the right,(41) much nearer the eye, and a multitude labouring under the same disasters, of which it would be long to write all the details; it shall suffice me to say that they are all very natural and tremendous, just as one would imagine them in such a convulsion. In the ninth, which is the last, is the story of Noah when he was drunken with wine, lying on the ground, his shame derided by his son Ham and covered by Shem and Japhet. Under the before-mentioned cornice which finishes the walls, and above the brackets where the lunettes rest, between pilaster and pilaster, sit twelve large figures—prophets and sybils—all truly wonderful, as much for their grace as for the decoration and design of their draperies. But admirable above all the others is the prophet Jonah, placed at the head of the vault, because contrary to the form of this part of the ceiling, by force of light and shade, the torso, which is foreshortened so that it goes back away into the roof, is on the part of the arch nearest the eye, and the feet and legs which, as it were, project within the walls, are on the part more distant. A stupendous performance, which shows what marvellous power was in this man of turning lines in foreshortening and perspective. Now in the spaces that are below the lunettes, as well as in those above, which have a triangular shape, are painted all the genealogy, or, I should say, all the ancestors of the Saviour, except the triangles at the corners, which come together, and so, two make up one of double the area. In one then of these, above the wall of the Last Judgment on the right hand,(42) is seen how Aman, by command of King Ahasuerus, was hung upon a cross; and this was because, in his pride and arrogance, he wished to hang Mordecai, the uncle Queen Ester, for not honouring him with a reverence as he passed by. In another corner is the story of the bronze serpent, lifted by Moses on a staff, in which the children of Israel, wounded and ill-treated by lively little serpents, are healed by looking up. Here Michael Angelo has shown admirable force in those figures that are struggling to free themselves from the coils of the serpents. In the third corner, at the lower end of the chapel, is the vengeance wreaked upon Holofernes by Judith, and in the fourth that of David over Goliath. And these are briefly all the histories.

XXXV. But no less marvellous is that part which does not relate to the histories at all, that is to say, certain nudes who sit upon plinths above the before-mentioned cornice, one on either side holding up the medallions, which, as has been said, appear to be of metal, on which, in the style of reverses, are designed several stories, all however appropriate to their principal histories. By the beauty of the divisions, by the variety of the poses, and by the balance of the proportionate parts, in all of them Michael Angelo exhibited the highest art. But to tell the particulars of these things would be an infinite labour, a book to them alone would not be enough; therefore I pass over them briefly, wishing rather to give a little light upon the whole than to detail the parts.

XXXVI. In the meanwhile he did not lack troubles; for, having finished the picture of the Deluge, the work began to grow mouldy,(43) so much so that the figures could hardly be distinguished. Michael Angelo, thinking that this excuse would suffice to enable him to shake off his burden, went to the Pope and said to him: "I have already told your Holiness that this is not my art; all that I have done is spoiled; if you do not believe it send and see." The Pope sent Il San Gallo, who, when he examined the fresco, saw that the plaster had been applied too wet, and the dampness running down caused this effect; and informing Michael Angelo of this he made him proceed, and the excuse was unavailing.

XXXVII. Whilst he was painting Pope Julius went to see the work many times, ascending the scaffolding by a ladder, Michael Angelo giving him his hand to assist him on to the highest platform. And, like one who was of a vehement nature, and impatient of delay, when but one half of the work was done, the part from the door to the middle of the vault,(44) he insisted upon having it uncovered, although it was still incomplete and had not received the finishing touches. Michael Angelo's fame, and the expectation they had of him, drew the whole of Rome to the chapel, where the Pope also rushed, even before the dust raised by the taking down the scaffolding had settled.

XXXVIII. After this, Raphael, having seen this new and marvellous manner as one who excelled in imitating, tried by the aid of Bramante to get the rest of the chapel to paint. Michael Angelo was much troubled, came before the Pope, and bitterly complained of the injury Bramante was doing him; and in his presence grieved over it with the Pope, discovering to him all the persecution he had suffered from him, and afterwards unfolded to him many of Bramante's shortcomings, principally that in pulling down the old church of Saint Peter's he threw to earth those marvellous columns that were therein, not respecting them or caring whether they were broken to pieces or not, when he might have lowered them gently and preserved them whole; explaining how it was an easy thing to pile brick on brick, but to make such a column was most difficult, and many other things that it was most necessary to relate; so that the Pope, hearing of all these sad doings, willed that Michael Angelo should continue the work, showing him more favour than ever. He finished all this work in twenty months(45) without assistance,(46) not even any one to grind the colours. It is true that I have heard him say that the work is not finished as he would have wished, as he was prevented by the hurry of the Pope, who demanded of him one day when he would finish the chapel. Michael Angelo said: "When I can." The Pope, angered, added: "Do you want me to have you thrown down off this scaffolding?" Michael Angelo, hearing this, said to himself: "Nay, you shall not have me thrown down," and as soon as the Pope had gone away he had the scaffolding taken down and uncovered his work upon All Saints Day. It was seen with great satisfaction by the Pope (who that very day visited the chapel), and all Rome crowded to admire it. It lacked the retouches "a secco" of ultramarine and of gold in certain places, which would have made it appear more rich. Julius, his fervour having abated, wished that Michael Angelo should supply them; but he considering the business it would be to reerect the scaffolding, replied that there was nothing important wanting. "It should be touched with gold," replied the Pope. Michael Angelo said to him familiarly, as he had a way of doing with his Holiness: "I do not see that men wear gold." The Pope again said: "It will seem poor." "Those who are painted here were poor also," Michael Angelo replied. This he threw out in jest; but so the vault has remained. Michael Angelo received for this work and all his expenses three thousand ducats, of which I have heard him say he spent in colours about twenty or twenty-five.



XXXIX. When he had finished this work Michael Angelo, because he had painted so long a time with his eyes turned upwards towards the vault, could hardly see anything when looking down, so that when he had to read a letter or look at a minute object it was necessary for him to hold it above his head. Nevertheless, little by little, he became able to again read looking down. By this we are able to judge with how much attention and assiduity he had carried out his work. Many other things happened to him during the life of Pope Julius, who loved him from his heart, having a more jealous care for him than for any one else he had about him, as one may see clearly by what we have already written. Indeed, one day fearing that Michael Angelo was angry, he immediately sent to pacify him. It happened in this wise. Michael Angelo wanting to go to Florence for Saint John's Day asked the Pope for money; and he demanded when his chapel would be finished. Michael Angelo, as his custom was, replied, "When I can." The Pope, who was of a hasty nature, struck him with a stick that he had in his hand, saying: "When I can, indeed; when I can!" After he got home Michael Angelo was preparing, without more ado, to go to Florence, when Accursio arrived, a highly favoured young man, sent by the Pope, and brought him five hundred ducats and pacified him as best he could, making the Pope's excuses. Michael Angelo accepted the apology and went away to Florence. So that it seems as if Julius cared more than for anything else to keep this man for himself; nor was he contented with his services during his life only, but required them after his death; wherefore coming to die he commanded that the Tomb which Michael Angelo had formerly begun should be finished for him, giving this charge to the old Cardinal Santi Quattro and the Cardinal Aginense, his nephew: they, however, had new designs prepared, the first appearing to them too large. So Michael Angelo again became involved in the Tragedy of the Tomb, which had no better success than at first; on the contrary much worse, it brought him infinite vexations, troubles, and labours; and, what is worse, by the malice of certain men, shame, from which he was hardly able to clear himself for many years. Michael Angelo then began all over again and set to work. He brought many masters from Florence, and Bernardo Bini, who was trustee, provided the money as he needed it. But it had not got on very far when he was interrupted, much to his disgust, for it came into the head of the Pope Leo, who had succeeded Julius, to ornament the facade of San Lorenzo, in Florence, with sculpture and marble work. This was the church built by the great Cosimo de' Medici; and, except for the facade mentioned above, was all completely finished. This part, then, Pope Leo resolved to supply. He thought of employing Michael Angelo, and sending for him he made him prepare a design, and finally on that account wished him to go to Florence and take upon himself all this charge. Michael Angelo, who was working with love and diligence at the tomb of Julius, made all the resistance that he could, saying that he was bound to Cardinal Santi Quattro and to Aginense, and could not fail them. But the Pope, who was determined in this matter, replied: "Leave me to deal with them; I will content them." So he sent for both of them and made them release Michael Angelo, much to the sorrow both of himself and the Cardinals, especially of Aginense, nephew, as has been said, of Pope Julius, for whom, however, Pope Leo promised that Michael Angelo should work in Florence, and that he would not hinder him. In this fashion, weeping, Michael Angelo left the tomb and betook himself to Florence. As soon as he arrived he put everything in order for building the facade, he himself went to Carrara to transport marbles, not only for the facade but also for the tomb, relying upon the promise of the Pope that he would be able to go on with it. In the meantime the Pope was informed that in the mountains of Pietrasanta, in the Florentine territory, there were marbles as good and beautiful as at Carrara. When this was discussed with Michael Angelo, he, as a friend of the Marchese Alberigo, and having come to an understanding with him about the marbles, preferred rather to quarry at Carrara than at these new places in the State of Florence. The Pope wrote to Michael Angelo and commanded him to go to Pietrasanta and see if it was as he heard from Florence. He went there and found the marble very unmanageable and unsuitable;(47) and even if it had been suitable, it would be a difficult and very expensive business to bring it down to the sea; for it would require a new road to be constructed for several miles over the mountains with pickaxes, and across the plains, which were very marshy, on piles. Michael Angelo wrote all this to the Pope; but he rather believed those who had written to him from Florence, and ordered him to make the road. So to carry out the will of the Pope he constructed this road,(48) and by it carried a vast quantity of marble to the sea coast, amongst them five columns of the right size; one of them is to be seen on the Piazza of San Lorenzo, brought by him to Florence;(49) the other four, because the Pope had changed his mind and turned his thoughts elsewhere, are still lying on the sea shore. But the Marchese di Carrara, thinking that Michael Angelo, as a citizen of Florence, might have been the originator of the quarrying at Pietrasanta, became his enemy; nor would he allow him to return to Carrara afterwards even for marble that he had already quarried, which was a great loss to Michael Angelo.



XL. Now having returned to Florence, and finding, as was said before, that the fervour of Pope Leo was all spent, Michael Angelo, grieving, remained there doing nothing for a long while, having, first in one thing and then in another, thrown away much of his time, to his great annoyance. Nevertheless, with certain blocks of marble that he had placed in his own house, he proceeded with the work of the Tomb. But Leo departing this life, Adrian was created Pope, and the work was interrupted again, for they charged Michael Angelo with having received from Julius for this work quite sixteen thousand scudi, and that he did not trouble himself to get on with it, but stayed at Florence for his own pleasure. All these accusations called for his presence in Rome; but the Cardinal de' Medici, who afterwards became Pope Clement VII., and who then had the government of Florence in his hand, did not wish him to go; and to keep him employed, and to have an excuse, he made him begin the Medici Library in San Lorenzo, and at the same time the sacristy with the tombs of his ancestors, promising to satisfy the Pope for him, and arrange matters. Then Adrian living only a few months and Clement succeeding him in the Papacy, nothing more was said about the Tomb of Julius for some time. But Michael Angelo was advised that the Duke of Urbino, Francesco Maria, nephew of Pope Julius of happy memory, complained greatly of him, and menaced him with vengeance if he did not quickly come to Rome. Michael Angelo conferred with Pope Clement about the affair, and he counselled him to call the agents of the Duke and prepare an account with them of all that he had received from Julius and all the work he had done for him, knowing that if Michael Angelo's work were properly estimated he would turn out to be the creditor rather than the debtor. Michael Angelo remained in Rome about this against his will; and having arranged affairs returned to Florence, principally because he anticipated the ruin that a little while afterwards came upon Rome.

XLI. In the meantime the House of Medici was driven out of Florence by the opposing faction, because they had taken more authority to themselves than could be suffered in a free city that ruled herself by her Republic. As the Signoria did not expect that the Pope would do anything to forego his family's authority they expected certain war, and turned their minds to the fortifications of their city, and appointed Michael Angelo Commissary-General for that work. He then, accepting this preferment, besides many other preparations carried out by him on every side of the city, encircled with strong fortifications the hill of San Miniato, that stands above the city and overlooks the surrounding plain. If the enemy took this hill nothing could prevent him becoming master of the city also. This fort was judged to be the saving of the country, and very dangerous to the enemy; being, as I have said, of high elevation, it menaced the hosts of their antagonists, especially from the bell-tower of the church, where two pieces of artillery were placed, which continually did great damage to the besiegers. Michael Angelo, notwithstanding that he had made provision beforehand for whatever might occur, posted himself upon the hill. After about six months the soldiers began to grumble amongst themselves of I know not what treachery; Michael Angelo partly knowing about this himself, and partly by the warnings of certain captains, his friends, betook himself to the Signoria and discovered to them what he had heard and seen, showing them in what danger the city stood, saying that there was yet time to provide against the danger, if they would. But instead of thanking him they abused him, and reproached him with being a timid man and too suspicious. He who replied to him thus had better have opened his ears to him, for the House of Medici entered into Florence and his head was cut off; whereas, if he had listened, he might have been yet alive.

XLII. When Michael Angelo saw how little his word was considered, and how the ruin of the city was certain, by the authority he had he caused a gate to be opened, and went out with two of his people, and betook himself to Venice. And certainly this notion of a treachery was no fable; but he who arranged it judged that it would pass over with less disgrace if it was not discovered just then, as time would achieve the same result by his merely failing in his duty and hindering others who wished to do theirs. The departure of Michael Angelo was the occasion of many rumours, and he fell into great disgrace with the governors. All the same, he was recalled with many prayers, with appeals to his patriotism, and by those who urged that he must not abandon the responsibilities that he had taken upon himself, and that the matter was not at such an extremity as he had been given to understand, and many other things. Persuaded by all this, and by the authority of the personages who wrote to him, but chiefly by his love for his country, after he had received a safe conduct for ten days before the day of his arrival in Florence, he returned, not without danger to his life.

XLIII. Again in Florence the first thing he did was to protect the bell-tower of San Miniato, which was all broken by the continual cannonading of the enemy, and had become very dangerous to those within. The method of defence was in this wise: a large number of mattresses, well filled with wool, were slung with stout cords from the top of the tower to the bottom, covering parts likely to be hit. And as the cornice projected considerably, the mattresses hung out from the main wall of the bell-tower more than six hands, so that the cannon-balls of the enemy, partly on account of the distance from which they were fired, and partly by the opposition of these mattresses, did little or no damage, not even injuring the mattresses themselves, because they were so yielding. Thus he held that tower all the time of the siege, which lasted a year, without its suffering any injury, and rejoicing greatly in the salvation of the land and the damage he did to the enemy.

XLIV. But afterwards the enemy entered the city by treachery, and many of the citizens were taken and killed. The court sent to the house of Michael Angelo to seize him; all the rooms and the chests were searched by them, even to the chimney and closet; but Michael Angelo, afraid of what might follow, had taken refuge in the house of a great friend. Here he remained in hiding many days, no one knowing that he was there except the friend who saved him. When the fury was over, Pope Clement wrote to Florence that Michael Angelo must be sought out, and ordered that, when found, he should be set at liberty if he would go on with the work of the Medici tombs formerly begun, and that he must be used courteously. Michael Angelo, hearing this, came out; and, although it was some fifteen years since he had touched the chisel, yet he set himself so earnestly to his task that in a few months he carved all the statues now to be seen in the sacristy of San Lorenzo, urged on more by fear than by love.(50) It is true that none of these statues have received their last touches; nevertheless, they are carried so far that the excellence of the workmanship can be very well seen; nor does the lack of finish impair the perfection and the beauty of the work.

XLV. The statues are four, placed in a sacristy erected for this purpose on the left of the church opposite the old sacristy; and although each figure balances the other in design and general shape, nevertheless, they are quite different in form, idea, and action. The sarcophagi are placed against the side walls, and above their lids recline two figures, larger than life—that is to say, a man and a woman, signifying Day and Night; and by the two of them Time, that consumes all things. And in order that his idea might be better understood, he gave to the Night, who was made in the form of a woman of a marvellous beauty, an owl and other symbols suitable to her; similarly to the Day, his signs; and for the signification of Time he intended to carve a rat, because this little animal gnaws and consumes, just as Time devours, all things. He left a piece of marble on the work for it, which he did not carve, as he was afterwards prevented. There were besides other statues, which represented those for whom the tombs were erected. All, in conclusion, were more divine than human; but above all, the Madonna, with her little child straddling across her thigh, of this I judge it better to be silent than to say but little, and so I pass it by.(51) We owe thanks to Pope Clement for these masterpieces; and if he had done no other praiseworthy act in his life (but, of course, he did many), this one was enough to cancel all his faults, for through him the world possesses these noble statues. And much more we owe him in that he did not fail to respect the virtue of this man when Florence fell, just as in olden times Marcellus respected the virtue of Archimedes when he entered Syracuse, although in that case it was of no effect; in this case, thanks be to God, it availed much.

XLVI. For all that Michael Angelo lived in great fear, because he was greatly disliked by the Duke Alessandro, a young man, as every one knows, very fierce and vindictive. There is no doubt that, if it had not been for the fear of the Pope, he would have had him put away long ago; the more so, as this Duke of Florence, when erecting those fortresses of his, sent for Michael Angelo, by Signor Alessandro Vitelli, to ride out with him and indicate where they would most usefully be placed, and he would not, replying that he had received no such commission from Pope Clement. The Duke was much angered; so that for this reason, as well as for the old ill-will he bore him, and on account of the nature of the Duke, Michael Angelo had good reason to fear him. And truly it was a blessing of God that he was not in Florence at the time of the death of Clement; he was called to Rome by the Pontiff before he had quite finished the tombs at San Lorenzo. He was received gladly. Clement respected this man like one sacred, and talked with him familiarly, both on grave and trivial subjects, as he would have done with his equals. He sought to relieve him of the burden of the Tomb of Julius, so that he might settle in Florence permanently, not only to finish the works already begun, but that he might execute others no less worthy.

XLVII. But before I say any more about this it behoves me to write of another fact concerning Michael Angelo, which I have inadvertently omitted. After the violent departure of the Medici from Florence, the Signoria fearing, as I have said above, the coming war, and intending to fortify their city, sent for Michael Angelo, as they knew him to be a man of consummate ingenuity and most active in whatever he undertook; nevertheless, by the advice of certain citizens who favoured the cause of the Medici and wished covertly to hinder or delay the fortification of the city, they sent him to Ferrara, under pretext that he should study the system by which Duke Alfonso had armed and fortified his city, knowing that his Excellency was most expert in these matters and in everything else most prudent. The Duke received Michael Angelo gladly, not only for the great worthiness of the man, but also because Don Ercole, his son and now Duke in his stead, was Captain of the Signoria of Florence. The Duke riding with him in person there was nothing that he did not show him, even more than was needful, so many bastions, so many pieces of artillery, and, indeed, he opened to him his cabinet also and showed him everything with his own hands, especially certain works of painting and portraits of his ancestors, by masters excellent in their day.(52) But when Michael Angelo had to depart, the Duke said to him jestingly: "Michael Angelo, you are my prisoner. If you want me to let you go free you must promise to do some work for me with your own hands, whatever suits you best, let it be what you will, sculpture or painting." Michael Angelo agreed, and returned to Florence. Although much occupied in arming the country, yet he began a large easel picture, representing Leda and the Swan, and near by the egg from which Castor and Pollux were born, as is fabled by ancient writers. When the Duke heard that the Medici had entered Florence, fearing to lose so great a treasure in the tumult, he immediately sent one of his own people. His man, when he came to the house of Michael Angelo and saw the picture, said: "Why! this is but a small matter." Michael Angelo asked him what his business was? Realising that every one thinks they know other people's business best, he replied simpering, "I am a merchant;" perhaps disgusted by such a question, and not being taken for a gentleman, while at the same time despising the industry of the Florentine citizens, who for the most part are merchants, as if he had said: "You ask what is my business, would you ever believe that I am a merchant?" Michael Angelo heard what he said, and replied: "You have done bad business for your lord; leave my sight." So having dismissed the Ducal messenger, he gave the picture shortly afterwards to one of his assistants, who had two sisters to marry off. It was sent into France, where it still is,(53) and was bought by King Francis.

XLVIII. Now to return, Michael Angelo having been called to Rome by Pope Clement, thereupon began the affair with the Duke of Urbino's agents concerning the Tomb of Julius. Clement, who wished to employ him in Florence, tried by every means to free him, and gave him for his attorney one Messer Tommaso, of Prato, who afterwards became Datario. But Michael Angelo, who knew and feared the ill-will of Duke Alessandro towards him, and at the same time loved and revered the bones of Pope Julius, and all the illustrious House della Rovere, did all he could to remain in Rome and work at the Tomb; the more so because he was accused by every one of having received from Pope Julius for that purpose fully sixteen thousand scudi, and of having enjoyed it without doing what he had undertaken. As he held his honour dear he could not bear the disgrace, and desired that the affair should be cleared up, not refusing, although he was old, the heavy task he had begun. It came to this pass: the adversaries were unable to prove payments that came within a long way of the sum they had at first stated; on the contrary, more than two-thirds were wanting of the entire sum agreed upon by the two Cardinals. Clement thought this a fine opportunity to get rid of the business, and to leave Michael Angelo free to serve him. He called him and said: "Come, tell me, you wish to complete this tomb; but you want to know who is to pay for the rest of it." Michael Angelo, who knew the Pope's mind, and that he wished to make use of him himself, replied: "And what if some one were found who would pay me?" Pope Clement said to him: "You are quite mad if you imagine that any one is likely to come forward to offer you a penny." So when Messer Tommaso, his attorney, appeared in court making his proposition to the agents of the Duke, they began to look one another in the face, and determined together that some sort of tomb should be made for the money that had already been advanced. Michael Angelo, thinking well of it, consented willingly, moved chiefly by the influence of the Cardinal of Montevecchio, a follower of Julius II. and uncle to Julius III., now, thanks be to God, our Pontiff. The agreement was: That Michael Angelo should make a tomb with one facade only, and that he should use the marbles already carved for the quadrangular tomb, arranging them as best he could; and that he should supply six statues from his own hand. It was conceded to Pope Clement that Michael Angelo should serve him in Florence, or wheresoever he pleased, four months in the year, his Holiness requiring this for the work in Florence. Such was the contract agreed upon between his Excellency the Duke and Michael Angelo.

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