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clearly marked from which the last monoliths had been cut, that the work of the Romans was resumed. Now a Belgian company sells “giallo antico " similar to that used in Augustan Rome, and no more beautiful specimen of it could be seen than that used for the side walls of the stair flight before us. The cornice above the “giallo antico" walls is of "pavonazzetto" from the Apennines, near Pisa, and the same marble forms the base of the red columns. These splendid columns come from quarries near Chenouah, just west of Algiers, which were first opened by the French some twelve years ago. Red Etruscan is the unmeaning trade name of this jasper-like stone, which is also used for door frames all through the new rooms (I., II., III., V., VI.) with very sumptuous effect.
Standing in the Vestibule and looking back, the visitor will see two
LANDSCAPES WITH FIGURES
by Gaspar Poussin (French : 1613–1675). There will be better opportunities of studying this painter presently (see Room XIII.)
On the left wall of the Vestibule are hung
1216, 1216 a&b. THE FALL OF THE REBEL ANGELS.
Spinello Aretino (Florentine : about 1333–1410). These fragments of a fresco, 1 now transferred to canvas, are of particular interest from the following mention of it by Vasari. He relates how Spinello Aretino, after executing important works in various cities of Italy, returned to his native city, Arezzo, and very shortly settled down to decorate the church of St. Maria degli Angeli. The subject chosen was certain stories from the life of St. Michael. “At the high altar,” says Vasari, 2 “he represented Lucifer fixing his seat in the North, with the fall of the angels, who are changed into devils as they descend to the earth. In the air appears St. Michael in combat with the old serpent of seven heads and ten horns, while beneath and in the centre of the picture is Lucifer, already changed into a most hideous beast. And so anxious was the artist to make him frightful and horrible that it is said—such is sometimes the power of imagination—that the figure he had painted appeared to him in his sleep, demanding to know where the painter had seen him looking so ugly as that, and wherefore he permitted his pencils to offer him, the said Lucifer, so mortifying an affront?” The vision appears to have had a fatal effect on the painter, for it is stated that he only survived the shock a short time. Some years ago the church of the Angeli was dismantled, and the greater portion of the frescoes perished. Sir A. H. Layard, who was passing Arezzo at the time, was fortunately able to secure a large piece of the principal fresco. The fragment is from the centre of the composition, and contains a portion of the figure of Michael and six of the angels following him. The archangel, with raised sword, is striking at the dragon ; his attendants, armed with spears and swords, thrust down the demons. The type of face, with its long, oval, elongated eyes and blown-back hair, is suggestive of the Sienese development of the art of Giotto. Besides these figures, Sir A. H. Layard was able to save a portion of the decorated border of the fresco (1216 A & B).— Times, July 24, 1886.
i For an explanation of this term see p. 67 n.
? Bohn's edition (5 vols.) of 1855, vol. i. p. 269. The references to Vasari are made throughout to that edition.
On the right wall of the Vestibule is hung the following picture
Lent by Mr. Henry Willett. GIOVANNA (DEGLI ALBIZI), WIFE OF LORENZO DE
Domenico Ghirlandajo (Florentine : 1449-1494). Domenico was the son of a goldsmith - Tommaso Bigordi del Ghirlandajo—so called for his skill in making garlands, as the headdresses of gold and silver worn by Florentine maidens were called. He was brought up to his father's trade, and “was to the end of his life a mere goldsmith, with a gift of portraiture” (Mornings in Florence, ii. 26). He was the first to introduce portraits into “historical" pictures for their own sake, and his series of frescoes in S. Maria Novella is particularly interesting for the numerous portraits of his friends and patrons, dressed in the costume of the period and introduced into scenes of Florentine life and architecture. "There is a bishop,” says Vasari, “in his episcopal vestments and with spectacles on his nose "-Ghirlandajo was the first master who ventured to paint a figure wearing spectacles—“he is chanting the prayers for the dead ; and the fact that we do not hear him, alone demonstrates to us that he is not alive, but merely painted.”
The artist himself takes a less exalted view of his portraits than the enthusiastic critic; for on the inscription here (dated 1488) he says, with a pretty compliment to his sitter, “If art could but paint the manners and the mind, then would this picture be the most beautiful in the world.”
The picture in question is probably the original portrait by Domenico Ghirlandajo for the figure of the lady, who appears three times in the above-mentioned frescoes. They were executed for Giovanni Tornabuoni (father of Lorenzo), and were completed in 1490. The lady is popularly known as “ Ginerva da Benci,” by which name Longfellow refers to her in one of his posthumous poems-
And lo! the lovely Benci
A splendid vision. Giovanni's only married son was Lorenzo, and it is likely enough that Lorenzo's wife should have been introduced into the frescoes. In the Louvre there are two frescoes, attributed to Botticelli, which were taken from a house at Fiesole, formerly the residence of Lorenzo Tornabuoni. The first of these frescoes is a portrait of the husband, Lorenzo, receiving the Sciences; the latter of his wife, Giovanna, receiving the Graces. In that fresco she is wearing the coral necklace which hangs on the wall in this picture.1
1 I am indebted for the above particulars to the kindness of Mr. Willett. The picture was bought by him ten years ago from a private family in France, some of the members of which had in former times been collectors. A full discussion of the picture will be found in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries for March 14, 1878. Here, as in some other cases, I take the liberty of borrowing from some contributions of my own to the Pall Mall Gasette,
“This is the way people look when they feel this or that—when they
have this or that other mental character: are they devotional,
Each face obedient to its passion's law,
ROBERT BROWNING : Pictor Ignotus. "GREAT nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts ;—the book of their deeds, the book of their words, and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others; but of the three, the only quite trustworthy one is the last.” The reason for this faithfulness in the record of art is twofold. The art of any nation can only be great “by the general gifts and common sympathies of the race ;” and secondly, "art is always instinctive, and the honesty or pretence of it therefore open to the day” (St. Mark's Rest, Preface). It will be seen from the remarks made under Room IV. how Floren
tine art in its infancy was thus the record of the times out of which it sprang. In this room and in Rooms II. and III., where other Florentine pictures are hung, we may trace the history of Florence in succeeding stages. The first thing that will strike any one who takes a general look at the early Florentine pictures and then at this room, is the fact that easel pictures have now superseded fragments of fresco and altar-pieces. Here at once we see reflected two features of the time of the Renaissance. Pictures were no longer wanted merely for church decoration and Scripture teaching ; there was a growing taste for beautiful things as household possessions. And then also the influence of the church itself was declining; the exclusive place hitherto occupied by religion as a motive for art was being superseded by the revival of classical learning. Benozzo Gozzoli paints the Rape of Helen (Room II.), Botticelli paints Mars and Venus, Piero di Cosimo paints the Death of Procris, and Pollajuolo the story of Apollo and Daphne. The Renaissance was, however, “a new birth” in another way than this; it opened men's eyes not only to the learning of the ancient world, but to the beauties of the world in which they themselves lived. In previous times the burden of serious and thoughtful minds had been, “ The world is very evil, the times are waxing late ;" the burden of the new song is, “ The world is very beautiful.” Thus we see the painters no longer confined to a fixed cycle of subjects represented with the traditional surroundings, but ranging at will over everything that they found beautiful or interesting around them. And above all they took to representing the noblest embodiment of life—the human form. Some attempts at portraiture may be perceived in the saints of the early pictures in Room IV.; but here we find professed portraits on every wall. This indeed was one of the chief glories of the Florentine School—" the open expression of the living human soul.” This widening and secularising of art did not pass in Florence, as we know, without a protest; and here, too, history is painted on the walls. Some of the protest was silent, as Angelico's (Room II.), who painted on through