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History of the Papacy). For it was in the temporal, not in the spiritual world that Julius lived and moved and had his being, and became, by his combination of military and diplomatic abilities, the most prominent political figure of his day. But, like other great princes of the time, Julius was a liberal and enlightened patron of the arts : it was he who laid the foundation stone of St. Peter's, and who called Michael Angelo and Raphael to his court. On the green hanging which forms the background, the cross-keys of the pontifical office are indicated, and from the two corners of the back of the chair rise two shafts, surmounted by gilt ornaments in the form of acorns—in reference to the armorial bearings of the Pope's family. 596. THE ENTOMBMENT OF CHRIST.
Marco Palmezzano (about 1456–1537). This painter was a fellow-countryman and pupil of Melozzo of Forli, who, as we have seen (under 755, p. 97), studied under Piero della Francesca, and to that extent Marco is a member of the Umbrian School. The present picture is not a favourable specimen of the master. 1128. THE CIRCUMCISION OF CHRIST.
Luca Signorelli (1441-1523). Signorelli was born at Cortona, on the boundary of Umbria and Tuscany. By early teaching he is an Umbrian, but in style a Florentine. Indeed, his position in the history of art is that of forerunner of Michael Angelo. He was a pupil of Piero della Francesca, with whom, no doubt, he acquired a knowledge of the figure from anatomical study of the nude. His frescoes in the cathedral of Orvietol were executed ten years before the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by Michael Angelo, who was largely influenced by Signorelli's example. Like Michael Angelo, Signorelli is intensely dramatic, and in pictures which do not allow of the violent action to be found in his frescoes, his figures seem to be instinct with suppressed action (see especially the next picture). Signorelli is a representative also of the literary and classical Renaissance of his time. He painted the usual religious pictures, but did not adhere to the traditional modes, and often introduced a classical element (see 1133). It is interesting to note that in his picture of some nude Greek gods (at Berlin) the composition is the same as in his regulation church pictures of the Madonna and Saints. Of Signorelli's personal life there is a pleasant account in Vasari, whose kinsman he was. He was a person of consequence in
1 The traveller will find a convenient handbook to Signorelli's frescoes in Mr. J. L. Bevir's Visitor's Guide to Orvieto.
his native city, going hither and thither to paint commissions, and then returning to the discharge of his civic duties. “He lived splendidly, in the manner,” says Vasari, “rather of a noble and a gentleman than in that of a painter." Not that he despised his profession, for he expressly advised that his little kinsman should " by all means learn to draw, that he may not degenerate, for even though he should hereafter devote himself to learning, yet the knowledge of design, if not profitable, cannot fail to be honourable and advantageous.” Of Signorelli's own devotion to his art Vasari tells another story, which has been thus versified —
Vasari tells that Luca Signorelli,
Firm and dry-eyed before the lordly canvas. 1 This picture is described as follows by Vasari : "In the church of San Francesco, in Volterra, this master painted a fresco, representing the Circumcision of Christ. This also is considered a wonderfully beautiful picture, but the Child, having been injured by the damp, was repaired by Sodoma, whereby the beauty was much diminished. And, of a truth, it would often be much better to retain the works of excellent masters, though halfspoiled, than suffer them to be retouched by less capable artists.” Vasari, however, seems to have been “anxious to place Sodoma in a bad light whenever he could. Damp was in all probability not the cause of the restoration of the infant Christ. It was very likely repainted because the public of Volterra disliked the realism with which Signorelli seems to have treated the subject " (Richter, p. 48). Another personal detail about the picture is interesting. The figure of the operator is like the portrait of himself which Signorelli introduced into his frescoes of the Preaching of Anti-Christ at Orvieto ; the figure is, moreover, clothed in the dress of the period and of the rich materials in which, Vasari says, the artist took much pleasure in dressing
| Symonds, iji. 281.
himself. Behind the central group is the aged Simeon, who blessed God and said, “ Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word.” 1133. THE NATIVITY.
Luca Signorelli (1441-1523). See under 1128, p. 117. A dramatic representation in one canvas of the Gospel story told in Luke ii. 1-17. Scene 1. “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be enrolled.” This is represented by the Roman portico behind the central group, under which, at a long table, is seated a row of scribes, who are entering the names of the people. Scene 2. “And Joseph went up ... to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife ... and she brought forth her first-born son,' and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in the manger.” This is the subject of the central scene. But the artist, no longer bound by conventional rules, treats his text freely. There is no manger, but the stable is suggested by the heads of the ox and the ass at the side ; and instead of the Babe being found “ wrapped in swaddling clothes,” it is naked. Joseph, in orange and crimson robes, is full of benevolence. The shepherds on the left are in deep reverence. The Virgin is robed in deep blue and green, typical of the depth and mystery of her divine love. In the interstices of the central group are three angels with golden hair and rainbow-hued wings—“calm shining sons of morn." Scene 3. On the left is a group of shepherds : “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” The angel of the Lord is appearing unto them from heaven, and they are sore afraid, shielding their eyes from the heavenly light. Scene 4. On the right of the spectator, and seen through an arch of natural rock, is a shepherd playing on the pipe. This figure suggests the antique ; he is crowned with ivy leaves and might almost be Orpheus. Thus, instead of representing the “Glory to God in the highest" being sung by "a multitude of the heavenly host," Signorelli gives us a Greek singer--a variation thoroughly characteristic of the classical revival of his time.
The landscape is also thoroughly characteristic of the mediæval mind-which loved the fields but dreaded the mountains. See here, for instance, how lovingly the flowers in the foreground are painted, and note the trailing ivy in the centre of the
picture, as well as the flowers and ferns; whereas the rocks upon which these latter grow are altogether impossible in form and position (see Modern Painters, vol. iii. pt. iv, chs. xiv. and xv, where the landscape of Dante, of whom Signorelli was a close student, is analysed).
908. THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST.
Piero della Francesca (Borgo S. Sepolcro : 1416–1492). Piero della Francesca was so called after his mother : “Francesca's Peter," for, says Vasari, “he had been brought up solely by herself, who furthermore assisted him in the attainment of that learning to which his good fortune had destined him.” He was a native of Borgo San Sepolcro, but studied in Florence, where it is probable that he was a pupil of Paolo Uccello (see III. 583, p. 53). Like that master he was a great student of perspective, which he “reduced to rules which have hardly admitted of subsequent improvement.” His resemblance to Paolo goes farther, however, than this. One instance will be seen in 665, p. 122 ; another in 758, p. 121; whilst here we may notice the excellent modelling and effect of roundness in the cheek. After study. ing in Florence, Piero returned to paint in his native city a:.d other Umbrian towns, until, in his old age, “the ban Of blindness struck both palette from his thumb And pencil from his finger."
“ This painting is said to be unfinished. But even minute details, such as the pearls on the robes of the angels and on the head-dress of the Virgin, have been worked out with an accuracy which excites astonishment. One of the two shepherds, standing on the right side and seen in front, appears to have no pupils to his eyes, and this strange fact might account for the theory of the unfinished state of the picture. On the other hand it seems to me to have suffered very much from repainting in all the flesh parts. ... The restorer has, I believe, forgotten to paint in the pupils of the shepherd's eyes after having destroyed them by the cleaning of the original painting" (Richter, pp. 16, 17). The beauty of the picture is in the choir of angels, with their mouths in different attitudes of singing, making such music sweet
As never was by mortal finger strook --
MILTON : Hymn on Christ's Nativity.
911. ULYSSES AND PENELOPE. Pinturicchio (Perugia : 1454-1513). See under 693, p. 105.
Penelope was wife of Ulysses, King of Ithaca, whose wanderings after the Trojan war are told in Homer's “Odyssey," and shown in summary in the distance of this picture. Through the open window is seen the ship of Ulysses, with the hero bound to the mast; the sirens, whose coasts he passed unhurt, are sporting in the sea; and on an island near is the palace of Circe, who changed his companions into swine. In his absence Penelope was beset by many suitors, such as are here seen clad in joyous raiment, and was in sore straits to resist their importunity. But "some god put it into my heart to set up a great web in the halls, and thereat to weave a robe fine of woof and very wide ; and anon I spake among them, saying: “Ye princely youths, my wooers, now that goodly Odysseus is dead, do ye abide patiently, how eager soever to speed on this marriage of mine, till I finish the robe ... even this shroud for the hero Laertes, father of Odysseus, against the day when the deadly doom shall bring him low, of death that lays men at their length.'... So spake I, and their high hearts consented thereto. So then in the daytime I would weave the mighty web, and in the night unravel the same” (xix. 138-150: Butcher and Lang's translation). And for the space of three years Penelope's web was still unwoven, and the suitors were deceived; but afterwards, when they chid her loudly, she finished the web, and could neither escape marriage nor devise any further counsel, for that her son too chafed while the suitors devoured his livelihood. But Ulysses then returned: he is now in the doorway just entering ; and presently Penelope will take down her husband's bow --- now hanging with a quiver of arrows above her head - which the suitors could not bend, but was bent by Ulysses. 1219. THE HISTORY OF JOSEPH: Part 2.
Francesco Ubertini, called Il Bacchiacca
(Florentine : 1494-1557). See under 1218, p. 123. 758. PORTRAIT OF THE COUNTESS PALMA
See under 908, p. 120. Ascribed by Morelli to Paolo Uccello. “ The treatment of the hair recalls that of one of the portraits in Paolo's battle-piece (III.