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without m fact touching it, contriving dexterously to drop from his hand some marble dust; as he proceeded, the fastidious critic declared himself satisfied with the improvement, and with this last touch the statue was pronounced complete.— For this workhe received 400 ducats. He also executed a bronze statue of David for Sodarini, and was employed in some other works, particularly in the execution of a picture for one Agosto Doni, who was a collector of specimens of the fine arts; this work is stated to be the only authentic specimen now remaining of an easel picture by him. On sending it home, his servant, by his master's direction, demanded seventy ducats. Doni, thinking to get it for less, sent back forty; Michael Angelo returned the forty ducats, and insisted on having 100 ducats or his picture. Doni, to compromise matters, sent the seventy which were first required, but the painter replied that he would now have twice seventy ducats or his picture; Doni, knowing the value of the work, and the pertinacity of the painter, rather than lose it, sent the 140 ducats.
In some subsequent pages, we shall devote a short space to the consideration of the revival of painting, tracing the art up to the age of Michael Angelo. At the head of those who most conduced to the perfection of it will be found Leonardo da Vinci, whose various attainments placed him amongst the most remarkable persons of his time. Hitherto Michael Angelo had chiefly devoted himself to sculpture ; and at the period when he was at Florence, Da Vinci, who was considerably older, had already attained the first rank as a painter.—Some jealousy had long subsisted between the two rival artists/and an opportunity was now afforded to them of making an effort which should decide to whom the palm of superiority was to be awarded.
Sodarini (whose admiration for the genius of Michael Angelo increased daily) determined to employ him to paint one side of the council hall of the government palace, and Leonardo da Vinci was, at the same time, directed to execute a picture for the opposite part. Da Vinci chose for his subject the victory gained by Anghiari over the celebrated Piccinino, the general of the Duke of Milan; the principal objects in the foreground were a mclce of cavalry and the taking of a standard. This work,
though it displays great excellence, and has been designated by an eminent critic as exhibiting " such talent as rarely occurs in the world," was by common assent admitted to be surpassed by the production of his rival. Buonaroti's subject was the battle of Pisa; in the historical account of the battle it was stated that the day on which it was fought was particularly hot, and that a part of the infantry was bathing quietly in the Arno, when on a sudden the call to arms was heard, the enemy being discovered in full march to attack the troops of the republic: the first impulse produced by this surprise, was the moment of time selected by Michael Angelo. Neither artist, however, executed the paintings, only the cartoons,or original drawings on paper representing the composition, having been prepared.
Benvenutn Cellini (who cannot be accused of being a panegyrist of Michael Angelo) says of this work, " The different attitudes of the soldiers suddenly preparing for battle, are so admirably expressed, that no work, either of the ancients or moderns, has attained such excellence: as I have said, the cartoon of Leonardo da Vinci was also very excellent; the one was placed in the hall of the pope, the other in the palace of the Medici, and whilst they remained, they formed the study of the whole world. Although Michael Angelo has since executed the pictures in the Sistine chapel, he did not exhibit half the talent which was shewn in his cartoon of the battle, nor did he afterwards produce any thing equal to this effort of his early genius."
Vasari particularly notices the expression of an old soldier, who, to shade himself from the sun's rays, had placed a chaplet of ivy on his head; he is sitting on the ground dressing himself, and the
Eeculiar excitement and haste occasioned y the difficulty of passing his garments over his wet limbs, shewn by the strong marking of the muscles and an expression of impatience about the mouth, is described as unequalled. It was considered at the time the most excellent design that had ever been executed. All the celebrated painters of the day attended to make studies from it. The cartoon itself was, however, a few years after its completion, destroyed. Its destruction is attributed to the envy of Baccio Bandinelli, a friend and partisan of Da Vinci's, who is supposed to have got admission to the room where
On'Julius the Second succeedmg to the papal crown, he called around him the most learned men, together with the must eminent artists of the age. Michael Angelo was amongst the first who were invited to Rome, the pope having determined to employ him in the execution of a magnificent sepulchral monument, which he contemplated erecting in his life-time. From the original design, it appears that this was to have been a parallelogram of thirtyfour by twenty-three feet, ornamented with forty figures, some of which were colossal; in addition to the figures, there were to have been a vast number ot bronze and marble columns, basso relievos, and other architectural ornaments. If this work had been completed in conformity with the plan, it would have been the most splendid monument of the kind ever produced; a sketch of the original design has been published in Bottari's edition of Vasari.*
Although the execution of the figures would have given full scope to Michael Angelo's powers, yet as the chief part of the design was to have consisted of representations of Poetry, Painting, Architecture, and the provinces conquered by the pope, in attitudes expressive of their grief for his loss; it must have been deficient in sentiment, and like all allegories have failed in creating any real interest, beyond that excited by the excellence of the mechanical execution.
It became difficult to find a site suited for the reception of this intended work. SanGallo, the architect, suggested, that so considerable a monument was worthy of having a chapel built on purpose to receive it. Julius considering that it could not be well placed in the old basilica of St. Peter's, it was at last determined that the church itself should be rebuilt, and hence the origin of the present church of St. Peter's, the most stupendous structure that the art of man ever produced.
'Henry the Eighth, in the beginning of his reign, also conceived the same idea as Julius the Second; and ordered Torrigiaoo, the rival of Michael Angelo in the garden of Lorenzo de Medici, and who was employed to execute the tomb in the chapel of Henry the Seventh, to make a magniBcent monument for himself and his queen.—Although this was not intended to be so large as that originally designed by Michael Angelo, yet in richness and number of figures, it would (if it had been executed) have much excelled it. It appears from the description in Speed, which was taken from a drawing approved by the king, that the height was to have been 27 feet, breadth 20 feet, the depth 15 feet, and there were to have been 133 statues, 43 basso relievos of gilt bronze, and 20 columns in the architecture, of porphyry, oriental alabaster, and serpentine marble.
"By those," observes Mr.Duppa, "who are curious in tracing the remote causes of great events,Michael Angelo may,perhaps, be found, though unexpectedly, thus to have laid the first stone of the reformstion. His monument demanded a building of corresponding magnificence: to prosecute the undertaking, money was wanted; and indulgences were sold to supply the deficiency of the treasury; a monk of Saxony opposed the authority of the church, and it is singular that the means which were employed to raise the most splendid edifice to the Catholic faith which the world had ever seen, should, at the same time, have shaken that religion to its foundation."
In order to procure blocks of marble fitting for the execution of the monument, Michael Angelo, who spent eight months at Carrara, sent a portion of what was requisite to Rome and the remainder to Florence, intending, during the unwholesome season at Rome, to execute some of the figures in that city. The marble was placed in the court in front of St. Peter's, and the pope, in order that he might be enabled to watch the progress of the work, had two covered way constructed from the Vatican to the study of Michael Angelo, who enjoyed his friendship and esteem, and whom he used frequently to visit.
Whilst at Carrara, he conceived the idea of executing a colossal statue, out of an insulated rock on the coast, at a point where it would have been seen by the vessels passing either from Genoa or Leghorn : it is said the same idea had occurred to the ancients, and some works in the rock are still shewn as having been the commencement of a similar design. The only colossal statue now existing, is the bronze one of St. Charles Bots romeo, near Arona, looking over the Lake of Como, and those only who have seen this work, (the head of which is large enough to hold several persons,) can form any just idea of the probable effect which such a statue, by Michael Angelo, would have produced.
As the figures for the monument proceeded, they obtained universal admiretion; but excellence and eminence are accompanied by envy. The favour shewn to Michael Angelo had early produced him enemies, and his disposition, which was independent.unsuspectmg.and somewhat haughty, was not such as to guard him against their evil machinations. By the pope's directions he always applied to him for the money requisite for the work; on the arrival of some marble from Carrara, payment for the freight being required, he went to the Vatican. —He found the pope engaged in state matters, and therefore returned home and paid for it with his own monies, thinkmg to be reimbursed immediately: on returning however to the pope, he was repulsed by a groom of the chamber, and refused admittance to his patron, apparently, nevertheless, not by the direction of Julius. He went home in anger, and, ordering his servants to sell off all his effects, fled immediately to Florence. When Julius heard of his departure, he dispatched five couriers, one after another, to induce him to return; but Michael Angelo, who had reached the Florentine states, and was thus out of the pope's power, refused to listen to them, though he was at last induced to return an answer, in which he stated, that having been repulsed with ignominy, he had determined to retire from his service, and seek employment elsewhere. Julius, being unsuccessful in prevailing on him to return, actually dispatched a brief to the Florentine republic.requesting that he might be sent back. These proceedings of the pope are a convincing proof of the estimation in which his services were held: —the document is so curious that we shall give it at length.
"Health, and apostolic benediction to our dearly beloved Michael Angelo, who has left us capriciously, and without any reason that we have been able to learn, is now in Florence, and remains there in fear of our displeasure, but against whom we have nothing to allege, as we know the humour of men of his character. However, that he may lay aside all suspicion, we invite him, with the same affection that you bear towards us; and if he will return we promise on our part that he shall be neither touched nor offended, and be reinstated in the same apostolic grace he enjoyed before he left us."
This brief was also disregarded by Michael Angelo, who hoped that the pope, not having an answer, might cease to think of the matter. On his return to Florence he proceeded to complete his cartoon of the battle of Pisa, which had been left unfinished; but in addition to the first letter, two others followed, and these were couched in a more authoritative tone than the former. Dreading the
anger of Julius, should he be compelled to return to Rome, he determined, in consequence of an invitation from Bajazet the Second, to proceed to Constantino pie, to superintend the erection of a bridge between that city and Pera.
Sodarini, however, at length, prevailed on him to listen to the pope's wishes, probably not feeling any inclination to involve the state in a dispute with the Holy See. To ensure him from any violence, he was invested with the title of ambassador from the state, and recommended to a cardinal, the brother of Sodarini, who undertook to introduce him to the pope, who had just then entered Bologna as a conqueror at the head of his army. Julius, angry and impatient at the opposition to his wishes, on receiving Michael Angelo, said, "What! instead of coming to me, you have waited till I came to you," alluding to his being then at Bologna, which is near to Florence. He deprecated the pope's anger, and requested pardon for a fault which he had been excited to commit, under the impression that he had been repulsed with unmerited indignity. A bishop who, from the illness of Cardinal Sodarini, had been deputed by him to introduce the penitent to the pope, conceived this was a good opportunity to entreat the forgiveness of his holiness, urging that the culprit was ignorant of life, and of all but his art: this turned the tide in Michael Angelo's favour, and the unfortunate bishop was reproached by the pope for having dared to insult one whom he, the pope, even in his anger had never degraded; thus the audience ended with the hasty expulsion of the bishop and the reception of the artist into favour, who received the holy benediction, accompanied by a solid earnest of future protection.
Whilst at Bologna he was commanded to execute a bronze statue of the pope. When Julius went to inspect the model of this work, observing that he was represented with an air of severity, with one arm raised as giving the benediction, he asked the artist if he meant to make him giving a benediction or a malediction to the people. Michael Angelo dexterously answered that it was only intended to threaten them in case they did not shew obedience. On being asked whether he would have a book in his left hand, Julius (who had entered the city at the head of his army, and who had distinguished himself in many military encounters) replied, No; a sword suits me better than a book, as I know more about the one than the other.
The pope returned to Rome, and Michael Angelo remained sixteenmonths to finish this bronze; but the people, unmindful of the pope's malediction, destroyed the statue as soon as his partisans ceased to have power in Bologna; and the pieces (except the head, which was long preserved in the museum of Duke Alphonso at Ferrara) were cast into a piece of ordnance, and christened Julia after the pope.
When this statue had been completed, Michael Angelo returned to Rome: here he was again thwarted by the jealousy of one of his rivals, Bramante, then the architect of St. Peter's, who, conceiving that the pope inclined more to sculpture than architecture, persuaded him to abandon for a while the completion of the monument, urging that it was ill-omened to prepare a tomb during his life. It was he who suggested to the pope that Michael Angelo should be employed in the painting the vault of the Sistine chapel, erected to the memory of his uncle Sixtus. Bramante's object in doing this was a hope that by these means Michael Angelo would be prevented from displaying his genius in that art in which he most excelled, and would, in the exercise of one in which he was almost unskilled, be brought in comparison with his relation Raphael, then just rising into eminence and favour at the papal court. Michael Angelo, at once desirous of completing the monument, and of avoiding the execution of a work in colours, an art which he had not practised, did all he could to persuade the pope to consign the ornamenting the chapel to Raphael.
Julius, whose temper was too eager and ardent to enable him to wait with any thing like patience the time requisite for the completion of the monument, which required much study and thought, was not sorry for an excuse to change the employment of Michael Angelo; and it is probable his independence and unbending manner were displeasing to a pontiff, little accustomed to opposition; this, and the frequent demands for money as the work proceeded, may have made him glad to find some reason for suspending the completion of the tomb.
When Michael Angelo found that he could not change the pope's determina
tion, he set to work on his design in good earnest. Finding the scaffolding erected by Bramante unsuited to his object, he invented one of a superior construction and of great simplicity, which was adopted in the building of St. Peter's; and, as suggested by Mr. Duppa, is most probably the same admirable piece of machinery which is now used at Rome whenever there is occasion for scaffolding to repair or construct the interior of public buildings. He gave this invention to the poor carpenter who was employed to construct it, and who, by the profits derived from it, was enabled to raise a marriage portion for his two daughters. Unused to working in fresco, which is done by painting on the wet plaster so that the colour becomes incorporated in the wall, and requires much experience and practical dexterity, Michael Angelo met with many difficulties in the progress of his work, and at first sent for two artists from Florence to instruct and assist him, but these were soon dismissed, and the whole work executed by himself. Julius, who was old, and eager for the completion of whatever he had once planned, used frequently to visit the painting during its progress, and became so impatient to see the effect of the design, that, in order to gratify his curiosity, the scaffolding was by his order removed before the picture was finished; and so desirous were all to see the ceiling about which such expectation had been raised, that the area of the chapel was immediately filled, the pope entering even before the dust occasioned by the removal of the boards had cleared away. Vasari says, that Raphael on seeing this great work, changed his style, from the hints it afforded: this, however, is questioned by the partisans of that great painter. It is not, however, of much importance to consider how far it was correct: no one will be so hardy as to deny that in the art of design, the greatness of Michael Angelo's genius might have furnished hints for improvement even to so distinguished a master as Raphael.
Bramante, if he had really conceived that he should lower the reputation of Michael Angelo, by compelling him to work at a branch of the art with which he had previously but slight acquaintance, must have been completely disappointed in his object. It is stated, however, that he tried to prevent Michael Angelo from completing the whole,