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suffer no movement to be made," says Vasari, “that would cause dust to settle on his pictures.” What Vasari adds about him may be partly seen in this and the companion picture (593, p. 19), with their bright colouring and pretty distances: “His works were finished with so much delicacy that every other painting looks but just sketched and left incomplete as compared with those from his hand.”
The adoration of the Virgin was a favourite subject with him ; the spirit is that of the old Carol-
O Lamb, my love inviting,
727. THE TRINITY.
Francesco Pesellino (1422–1457). Francesco, called Pesellino to distinguish him from his grandsather Pesello, by whom he was brought up, was a pupil of Fra Filippo Lippi.
This picture shows the conventional Italian representation of the mystery of the Trinity. The Son on a crucifix is supported by the Father, whilst the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove hovers over the head of the Son.
766, 767. HEADS OF SAINTS.
Domenico Venesiano (Died 1461). Though Domenico describes himself as Venetian (as on the signature to 1215), he worked at Florence, and his works belie any connection with Venetian art. The works by his hand we possess give no evidence of his being an oil painter, but he is known to have used oil, and indeed was celebrated as one of the earliest Italian painters in that medium (see under II. 1138, p. 47 n.)
Of Domenico's works, except a fresco now in the Uffizi Gallery at Florence, the National Gallery possesses all that have escaped destruction. These two heads, together with the finer Madonna, hanging between them, were all originally frescoes on a tabernacle in the Canto (street corner) de' Carnesecchi in Florence, and were for centuries exposed to wind and weather. The central portion was transferred to canvas in 1851.
1215. MADONNA AND CHILD.
Domenico Veneziano (Died 1461). The Madonna, on a throne of red porphyry and green serpentine, holds the Son of Man on her knees; whilst from God above, the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a flying dove. The sweet and stately lady stands, as it were, midway between God and man, thus realising that
Vision in the heart of each,
BROWNING. 1143. THE PROCESSION TO CALVARY.
Ridolfo Ghirlandajo (1483-1561). Ridolfo Bigordi was the son of Domenico Ghirlandajo (see for the origin of this name p. 3). One may see a trace of goldsmith's work also in this bright picture by Domenico's son. Later on Ridolfo came under the influence of Raphael, who, says Vasari, was much attached to him, and employed him to fill in part of the blue drapery in the “ Belle Jardinière” (Louvre).
An early work by Ghirlandajo, painted when he was twentytwo, and under the influence of Leonardo da Vinci (see Morelli, P. 346). One of the pictures in the Gallery which are additionally interesting from being mentioned and praised by Vasari -who, by the way, was himself a friend of Ridolfo. “In the Church of St. Gallo,” says Vasari, “he depicted our Saviour Christ, bearing his Cross and accompanied by a large body of soldiers; the Madonna and the other Maries, weeping in bitter grief, are also represented, with San Giovanni and Santa Veronica, who presents the handkerchief to our Saviour ; all these figures are delineated with infinite force and animation. This work, in which there are many beautiful portraits from the life, and which is executed with much love and care, caused Ridolfo to acquire a great name; the portrait of his father is among the heads, as are those of certain among his disciples, and of some of his friends—Poggino, Scheggia, and Nunziata, for example, the head of the latter being one of extraordinary beauty.” It is interesting in this connection to notice that the procession to Calvary was one of the regulation subjects with mediæval painters (see for a picture of it, some
two hundred years earlier, II. 1189, p. 48), and familiarity bred contempt for the pathos of the scene; it became a mere opportunity for variegated compositions, and curiously enough two of the brightest pictures in the Gallery (this and IX. 806, p. 196), are of this subject. For the story of St. Veronica see XI. 687, p. 266. 790. THE ENTOMBMENT OF CHRIST.
Michael Angelo (1475–1564). See also 809, p. 26. Michelangelo (commonly anglicised as above) Buonarroti (which, surname, however, is commonly dropped) was at the age of thirteen apprenticed for three years to Domenico Ghirlandajo, to whom the picture 809 was formerly ascribed. He was the rival of Raphael ; and amongst the artists who were present at the unveiling of his great statue of David were Perugino, Botticelli, Lorenzo di Credi, Leonardo da Vinci, and Filippino Lippi. He lived through the fall of Rome and Florence, and survived into the decadence of Italian art. In the many-sidedness of his genius he may be compared to Leonardo da Vinci. He was at once painter, sculptor, architect, and man of action, being appointed commissary-general of the fortifications at Florence in 1529. The greatness of his work was reflected in that of his character. He passed most of his life at Rome, amidst the petty intrigues of a debased Court ; but he never placed his self-respect in jeopardy. Filial duty, too, was one of the mainsprings of his life. He lived most sparingly, and sent all the money he could save to support his father's family at Florence. “Whence they must pray God,” he says in one of his letters, “that all his works may have good success.” He was proud, and would brook no insult; and when Pope Julius left him with unpaid marbles and workmen on his hands, he mounted his horse and rode off to Florence. There are many stories, too, of the quiet sarcasm with which he would “reproach men for sin.” “What does the raised hand denote?” Julius asked of a statue of him. self. “You are advising the people of Bologna to be wise," was Michael Angelo's reply. With all this, however, he was for the most part above the jealousy of other artists, and when he was appointed architect of St. Peter's he refused to permit any material alteration of Bramante's design, though Bramante had perpetually intrigued against him. Michael Angelo was a poet also (his sonnets have been translated by Mr. J. A. Symonds), his poetry being mostly inspired by Vittoria Colonna, widow of the Marquis of Pescara, to whom late in life he became attached, and whose friendship was, until her death in 1547, the solace of his life. He has left passionate regrets that when called to her death - bed he had only kissed her hand and not her face also. To the greatness of his reputation as an artist two tributes may here be
1 And on his countenance. He had a strong bar of bone over his eyes, the sign of intellectual power ; hence Tennyson speaks (see In Memoriam, LXXXVII.) of “Over those ethereal eyes, The bar of Michael Angelo,"
mentioned. Raphael “thanked God that he was born in the days of Michael Angelo, and Sir Joshua Reynolds says, in his Discourses, that “to kiss the hem of his garment, to catch the slightest of his perfec. tions, would be glory and distinction enough for an ambitious man.”
The spectator who comes with such praises sounding in his ears to this picture will probably be much disappointed, and he will be right. For, in the first place, the picture is one of Michael Angelo's few oil paintings-a vehicle which he did not like, and of which he said that it was only fit for women and children. Then, secondly, the picture, like so many of his works, is unfinished. In this connection a point which has been noticed in his sculpture may also be observed in some of the figures, both here and in 809 : “When once your attention is directed to this point, you will perhaps be surprised to find how many of Michael Angelo's figures, intended to be sublime, have their heads bandaged. If you have been a student of Michael Angelo chiefly, you may easily have vitiated your taste to the extent of thinking that this is a dignified costume ; but if you study Greek work instead, you will find that nothing is more important in the system of it than a finished disposition of the hair; and as soon as you acquaint yourself with the execution of carved marbles generally, you will perceive these massy fillets to be merely a cheap means of getting over a difficulty too great for Michael Angelo's patience." The authenticity of this picture has, it should be said, been much disputed, but the balance of authority is decidedly in its favour, and it exhibits numerous characteristics of the master's style.1
1 See Richter's Italian Art in the National Gallery, 1883, hereafter referred to as Richter, p. 44, where a resumé of recent criticism and a facsimile of the Albertina drawing will be found. Signor Frizzoni, cited with approval by Richter, says : “ Although the composition seems to me not in the least attractive, nor even successful (and for this very reason the picture might have been left unfinished), yet I cannot but consider it to be an original, and moreover, a specially interesting one, and worthy of being looked at closely by those who wish to study the master in the numerous characteristic features of his style. In my opinion it is an early work by him; and this becomes evident especially from the purity and delicacy in the features of one of the Maries, standing on the right side, in which, if I am not mistaken, the pure types of his first master, Domenico Ghirlandajo, are much more perceptible than Buonarroti's own grand style. In other parts, however, the sculpturesque manner of modelling peculiar to him is not less noticeable--in the muscles, sturdy as usual, and in the prominent rendering of the corpse."
The history of the picture is interesting. It was formerly in the gallery of Cardinal Fesch, which was sold and dispersed after his death. From
Thus, in the third place, we may notice-among the characteristics that marked the approaching decline of Italian art, the artist's disregard of charm and beauty. The body is now principal, instead of the face. “Take the heads from a painting of Angelico,—very little but drapery will be left ;-drapery made redundant in quantity and rigid in fold, that it may conceal the forms, and give a proud or ascetic reserve to the actions, of the bodily frame. Bellini and his school, indeed, rejected at once the false theory, and the easy mannerism, of such religious design, and painted the body without fear or reserve, as, in its subordination, honourable and lovely. But the inner heart and fire of it are by them always first thought of, and no action is given to it merely to show its beauty. Whereas the great culminating masters, and chiefly of these, Tintoret, Correggio, and Michael Angelo, delight in the body for its own sake, and cast it into every conceivable attitude, often in violation of all natural probability, that they may exhibit the action of its skeleton and the contours of its flesh," And lastly, whereas “Correggio and Tintoret learn the body from the living body, and delight in its breath, colour, and motion, Michael Angelo learned it essentially from the corpse, and had great pride in showing that he knew all its mechanism. The simplicity of the old religious art was rejected not because it was false, but because it was easy; and the dead Christ was thought of only as an available subject for the display of anatomy" (Modern Painters, vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. iv.; Relation between Michael Angelo and Tintoret, passim).
1227. VIRGIN AND CHILD.
Marcello Venusti (Died 1579). See under 1194, p. 17. Also St. Joseph and St. John the Baptist, with the skin of a wild beast quaintly treated as a head-dress.
its unfinished state and neglected condition it attracted little attention, and was bought literally " dirt cheap" by Mr. Macpherson, an English gentleman established as a photographer in Rome. After the dirt upon its face had been removed, it was submitted to competent judges, who un. hesitatingly pronounced it to be the work of Michael Angelo. The dis. covery caused a great sensation. A law-suit was instituted against Mr. Macpherson for the recovery of the picture, which was sequestrated pending the decision of the Roman courts. After some years he obtained a judgment in his favour, removed the picture to England, and sold it to the National Gallery for £2000.