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690. HIS OWN PORTRAIT.
Andrea del Sarto (1487–1531). Mr. Browning's poem, in which he sets forth the pathos of the artist's life and character, is the best commentary on this portrait. The real name of Andrea del Sarto—" Andrew of the Tailor,” so called from his father's trade—was Andrea d'Agnolo : his monogram, formed of two inverted A's, may here be seen on the background to the left. The Italians called him “the faultless painter :" faultless, they meant, in all the technical requirements of painting. In drawing, composition, disposition of draperies and feeling for light and shadow, he was above criticism
All is silver-grey, . Placid and perfect with my art. But men may be “faultily faultless"; and what he lacked was just the one thing needful—the consecration and the poet's dream, which lift many works by less skilful hands than his into the higher region of imaginative art
There burns a truer light of God in them,
My works are nearer heaven, but I sit here.
“ Friend, there's a certain little sorry scrub
“Would bring the sweat into that brow of yours !” Yet Andrea himself too was once pricked on by kings. Two pictures of his had been sent to the King of France, 1 who thereupon invited the painter to his court. And there for a time he worked and was honoured ; but in the midst of it all he sat reading the letters which Lucrezia, his wife, sent him to Paris. “ You called me and I came home to your heart”-not emptyhanded either, for Francis entrusted him with money to buy pictures, but Andrea spent it and some of his own in building a house for her in Florence. It is her face which we see everywhere in Andrea's Madonnas, and if at any time he took his model from any other face, there was always a resemblance to hers in the painting
1 It is interesting to note that the picture-dealer grievance was rife even in those days. One of the pictures sent to France was a Madonna (now in the Louvre) "of extraordinary beauty," but, adds Vasari (iii. 201) "the merchants received four times as much for the work as they had paid for it to the painter."
You smile ? why, there's my picture ready made ! But Lucrezia served as his model, not his ideal. She had been married before to a hatter, but was remarkable, says Vasari, who worked in Andrea's studio and had a grudge against her, " as much for pride and haughtiness, as for beauty and fascination." 1 And
Had the mouth there urged
I might have done it for you. So it seems. It is in some such mood of communing with himself that we seem here to see the painter; yet there is a certain undercurrent of contentment below the look of melancholy. “The force of a beautiful face carries me to heaven;" so sang Michael Angelo. Lucrezia dragged her husband down ; his rivals overcame him
Because there's still Lucrezia, -as I choose.
the whole seems to fall into a shape
A twilight piece.
Cristofano Allori (1577-1621). Notice the richly embroidered head-dress, resembling in form the Venetian rolled coif or turban which often occurs in pictures of Titian. 698. THE DEATH OF PROCRIS.
Piero di Cosimo (1462–1521). A very characteristic work by Piero, called di Cosimo, after his godfather and master, Cosimo Rosselli (II. 227, p. 41). Piero's peculiarities are well known to all readers of George Eliot's Romola, where everything told us about him by Vasari is carefully worked up. The first impression left by this picture-its quaintness—is precisely typical of the man. He shut himself off from the world, and stopped his ears; lived in the untidiest of rooms, and would not have his garden tended, “preferring to see all things wild and savage about him.” He took his meals at times and in ways that no other man did, and Romola used to coax him with sweets and hard-boiled eggs. His fondness for quaint landscape (" he would sometimes stand beside a wall,” says Vasari, “and image forth the most extraordinary landscapes that ever were ") may be seen in this picture : so also may his love of animals, in which, says Vasari, he took “indescribable pleasure.”
1 Lucrezia's character has, however, been whitewashed of late years : see Gazette des Beaux Arts, December 1876 and three following months.
The subjects of his pictures were generally allegorical. In Romola he paints Tito and Romola as Bacchus and Ariadne ; here he shows the death of Procris, the story in which the ancients embodied the folly of jealousy. For Procris being told that Cephalus was unfaithful, straightway believed the report and secretly followed him to the woods, for he was a great hunter. And Cephalus called upon “aura," the Latin for breeze, for Cephalus was hot after the chase : “Sweet air, O come,” and echo answered, “Come, sweet air.” But Procris, thinking that he was calling after his mistress, turned to see, and as she moved she made a rustling in the leaves, which Cephalus mistook for the motion of some beast of the forest, and let fiy his unerring dart, which Procris once had given him.
But Procris lay among the white wind-flowers,
AUSTIN DOBSON : Old World Idylls.
651. AN ALLEGORY: “ALL IS VANITY.”
Angelo Bronzino (1502-1572). Angelo di Cosimo, called Il Bronzino, was born in a suburb of Florence, of poor parents ; he became a popular artist, “nor have we any one in our day,” says Vasari, “who is more ingenious, varied, fancisul,
and spirited, in the jesting kind of verse.” Vasari was a great friend of his, and speaks in the warmest terms of his generosity and kindness. He was a pupil of Pontormo (see 649, p. 22). In the history of Florentine art he belongs to the period of decline. Mr. Ruskin cites him as an instance of the “base grotesque of men who, having no true imagination, are apt, more than others, to try by startling realism to enforce the monstrosity that has no terror in itself” (Modern Painters, vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. viii. $ 8).
Venus, crowned as Queen of Life, yet with the apple of discord in her hand, turns her head to kiss Cupid, whose wings are coloured in Delight, but behind whom is the gaunt figure of Jealousy, tearing her hair. Folly, with one foot in manacles and the other treading on a thorn, is preparing to throw a handful of roses
Sweet is Love and sweet is the Rose,
Each has a flower and each has a thorn. A Harpy, the personification of vain desire and fitful passion, with a human face, but with claws to her feet and with a serpent's body, is offering in one hand a piece of honey-comb, whilst she holds her sting behind her in the other. In one corner, beneath the God of Love, doves are billing and cooing ; but over against them, beneath Folly, there are masks, showing the hideous emptiness of human passion. And behind them all is Time, with wings to speed his course and the hour-glass on his shoulders to mark his seasons, preparing to let down the veil which Pleasure, with grapes twined in her hair, and with the scowl of angry disappointment on her face, seeks in vain to lift
“ Know'st thou not me?" the deep Voice cried ;
So long enjoyed, so oft misused -
Desired, neglected, and accused ?
While in my glass the sand-grains shiver,
Scott: The Antiquary. 589. THE VIRGIN AND CHILD.
Fra Filippo Lippi (about 1406-1469).
See under III. 666, p. 52. Combined with Lippi's realism of representation, “there is also an unusually mystic spiritualism of conception. Nearly all the Madonnas, even of the most strictly devotional schools,
themselves support the child, either on their knees or in their arms. But here, the Christ is miraculously borne by an angel” (Fors Clavigera, 1875, p. 308). 915. MARS AND VENUS. Sandro Botticelli (1446-1510). See under III. 1034, p. 56.
So the picture is usually called — Mars, the God of War, asleep, and the young satyrs playing with his discarded armour, while one of them attempts to rouse him by blowing a shell. But the subject is almost identical with that which Spenser draws in the Faërie Queene, where Sir Guyon, the Knight of Purity, overthrows the Bower of Bliss in which Acrasia (or Pleasure) dwells—the last and worst of Sir Guyon's trials, for “it is harder to fight against pleasure than against pain.” Note especially the expression of the sleeping youth : he is overcome with brutish paralysis, and they cannot awaken him. Note also the swarm of hornets issuing from the tree-trunk by his head-significant of the power that sensual indulgence has of venomously wounding. Visitors who have been in Venice may remember similar details in Carpaccio's picture of St. George and the Dragon (J. R. Anderson in St. Mark's Rest, Second Supplement, p. 20).
Upon a bed of Roses she was layd,
The young man, sleeping by her, seemd to be
His warlike armes, the ydle instruments
Faërie Queene, bk. ii. 12, SS lxxvii.-lxxx. 8. A DREAM OF HUMAN LIFE.
From a design by Michael Angelo. See under 790, p. 14.
The naked figure, typical of the human race, and reclining on a slippery globe, is awakening, at the sound of a trumpet froni