Immagini della pagina

pope's couriers with this letter, he pro- rant of every thing but their art. “Thou," ceeded to Florence. To the government answered the pontiff, “ hast vilified him; of this city Julius wrote: “ We know I have not : thou art no man of genius but the humour of men of his stamp; if he an ignorant fellow; get out of my sight.” will return, we promise he shall be nei- The prelate was pushed from the room. ther meddled with nor offended, and he The pope gave Michael his benediction, shall be reinstated in the apostolic grace.” restored him to full favour, and desired him Michael was unmoved. A second and a not to quit Bologna till he had given him third arrived, each more impressive, and a commission for some work. In a few Michael remained unchanged; but the days, Michael received an order from Gonfaloniere of Florence, to whom these Julius for a colossal statue of himself epistles were addressed, became alarmed in bronze. While it was modelling, the and expostulated: “You have done by pope's visits to Michael were as frequent the pope what the king of France would as formerly. This statue was grand, ausnot have presumed to do; he must tere, and majestic: the pope familiarly be no longer trifled with; we cannot asked if the extended arm was bestowing make war against his holiness to risk the a blessing or a curse upon the people. safety of the state ; and therefore you Michael answered that the action only must obey his will." Thus remonstrated implied hostility to disobedience, and inwith, Michael entertained a proposal for quired whether he would not have a book entering into the service of the sultan put into the other hand. “No," said the Bajazet II., and building a bridge from pope, a sword would be more adapted Constantinople to Pera. The sultan had to my character, I am no book-man.” even sent bim letters of credit on Flo- Julius quitted Bologna, and left Michael rence and all the cities on his way; and Angelo there to complete the statue ; he appointed escorts of Janizaries to await effected it in sixteen months, and having his arrival on the Turkish frontiers, and placed it in the facade of the church of St. conduct him, by whatever road he pleased, Petronio, returned to Rome. This product to the Mahometan capital. To divert of Michael's genius was of short existence. Michael Angelo from this course, the The prosperity of Venice under united Gonfaloniere urged that it was better to councils, and a prudent administration of die under the pope's displeasure than to its affairs, excited the hatred of the Eurolive in the Turkish service; and that if he pean powers. An infamous league was were apprehensive for his security at Rome, entered into at Cambray for the ruin of the government of Florence would send the Venetian government, and the partihim thither as its ambassador, in which tion of its territory ; Julius became character his person would be inviolable. a party to this alliance, with the hope of Michael, urged by these and other reasons, adding Romagna to the dominions of the relented, and met the pope at Bologna, á church, and retaining possession of Bocity which had been betrayed to the papallogna. Effecting his object, he withdrew arms, and taken possession of by Julius in from the league; and by a change of great pomp just before Michael's arrival. policy, and a miscalculation of his strength, The cardinal Soderini, brother to the quarrelled with Louis XII. who had asGonfaloniere, was to have introduced sisted him in subjecting Bologna. That Michael to the pope, but indisposition monarch retook the city, restored the constrained him to depute that office to Bentivoglio family, which had been disa prelate of his household. The pope placed by the papal arms, and the popuaskanced his eye at Michael with dis- lace throwing down Michael's statue of the pleasure, and after a short pause saluted pope, dragged it through the streets, and him, “ Instead of your coming to us, you broke it to pieces. With the mutilated seem to have expected that we should fragments the duke of Ferrara cast a attend upon you." Michael answered, cannon, which he named Julio, but prethat his error proceeded from too hastily served the head entire, as an invaluable feeling a disgrace he was unconscious of specimen of art, although it bore the having merited, and hoped his holiness countenance of his implacable enemy. would pardon what had passed. The offi Michael Angelo resumed Julius's maucious prelate who had introduced him, not soleum, but the pontiff had changed his thinking this apology sufficient, observed mind, and sorely against Michael's inclito the pope, that great allowance

was to pation, engaged him to decorate the ceilto be made for such men, who were igno- ings and walls of the Sixtine chapel, with

paintings in fresco, to the memory of Sixtas splendour, and wished them ornamented VI., the pope's uncle. For the purpose of with gold. Michael answered,“ In those commencing these paintings, ropes were days gold was not worn, and the characlet through the ceiling to suspend the scaf- ters I have painted were neither rich, nor folding. Michael asked Bramante the desirous of riches; they were holy men architect, who had arranged this machi- with whom gold was an object of connery, how the ceiling was to be completed tempt.” if the ropes were suffered to remain ? The Julius soon afterwards died; and the answer did not obviate the objection. execution of his mausoleum was frustrated Michael represented to the pope that the by Leo X., to whose patronage Michael defect would have been avoided if Brą- was little indebted. He finished his celemante had better understood the applica- brated cartoon of the Last Judgment, for tion of mechanical principles, and obtained the east end of the Sistine chapel, in 1541. the pope's permission to take down the On Christmas-day in that year the chapel inefficient contrivance and erect another. was opened, and residents in the most This he effected; and his machinery was distant parts of Italy thronged to see it. so ample and complete, that Bramante In the following year, he painted the himself adopted it in the building of St. Conversion of St. Paul, and the Crucifixion Peter's. Michael gave this invention to of St. Peter, on the walls of the chapel the poor man who was his carpenter in Paolina. In 1546, when he was 72 years constructing it, and who realized a fortune old, the reigning pope nominated him from the commissions he received for architect of St. Peter's. Michael would others on the same plan. To indulge his only accept the appointment on the concuriosity, and watch the progress of the dition that he received no salary; that he work, the pope ascended the ladder to the should have uncontrolled power over the top of Michael's platform almost daily. subordinate officers; and be allowed to He was of an impetuous temper, and im- alter the original design conformably to patient to see the general effect from below his own judgment. It was necessary before the ceiling was half completed : to adapt and contract that design to the Michael, yielding to his impatience, impoverished state of the papal exchequer. struck the scaffold; and so eager weré Though numerous impediments were purmen of taste to obtain a view, that before posely opposed to his progress with this the dust from displacing the machinery splendid edifice, he advanced it rapidly; had settled, they rushed into the chapel to and before he was 74, he had completed gratify their curiosity. Julius was satis- the Farnese palace, built a palace on the fied: but Michael's rivals, and Bramante hill of the Capitol for the senator of among the rest, secretly solicited the pope Rome, erected two galleries for sculpture to intrust the completion of the car- and painting on the same site, and threw toons to Raphael. Michael had intima- up a fight of steps to the church of the tion of these wiles, and in the presence convent of Araceli-an edifice remarkof Bramante himself, claimed and ob- able for its occupying the highest part of tained of the pope the entire execution of the hill whereon the temple of Jupiter his own designs. He persevered with in- Capitolinus formerly stood, and, more cessant assiduity. In twenty months especially, for Gibbon having mused there, from the commencement of “ this stupen- while listening to the vespers of the baredous monument of human genius” it was footed friars, and conceived the first completed, and on All Saints' day, 1512, thought of writing his “ History of the the pontiff himself opened the chapel in Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." person with a splendid high mass, to In 1550, Julius III, succeeded to the crowds of devotees and artists. Whatever pontificate, and Michael to new vexations. Julius conceived he hastened with the His rivals' endeavoured to displace him ardour of youth; he was old, and knowing him for unfitness in the conduct of St. Pea that he had no time to spare, he had so ter's. A committee of architects was harassed the progress of these cartoons by appointed to investigate the charge, in the his eagerness, that the scaffolding was presence of the pope. The committee struck before they were thoroughly com- alleged that the church wanted light; and pleted; yet, as there was not any thing of they furnished the cardinals Salviati and importance to be added, Michael deter- Marcello Cervino with plans, to show mined not to undergo the labour of re- that Michael had walled up a recess erecting the machinery... The pope loved for three chapels, and made only three

insufficient windows.“ Over those win- chamber, and in the presence of them and dows are to be placed three others,” an- his physicians uttered this verbal will :swered Michael. “You never said that be- “My soul I resign to God, my body to fore," answered one of the cardinals. To the earth, and my worldly possessions to this Michael indignantly replied, “I am my nearest of kin :" then admonishing not, neither will I ever be, obliged to tell his attendants, he said, “In your passage your eminence, or any one else, what I through this life, remember the sufferings ought or am disposed to do; it is your of Jesus Christ.' office to see that money be provided, to Thus died one of the greatest artists, keep off the thieves, and to leave the and one of the noblest men of modern building of St. Peter's to me." The pope times. The ceremony of his funeral was decided in Michael's favour. From that conducted at Rome with great pomp, but time Julius prosecuted no work in paint- his remains were removed

within a month ing or sculpture without Michael's ad- to Florence, and finally deposited in the vice; and his estimation of him was so church of Santa Croce at Florence. In high, that he told him at a public audi- 1720, the vault was opened; the body ence, that if he died before himself, he retained its original form, habited in the should be embalmed, and kept in his own costume of the ancient citizens of Flopalace, that his body might be as perma- rence, in a gown of green velvet, and Dent as his works. Soon after the death slippers of the same. of Julius III. in 1555, Paul IV., the new According to his English biographer, pontiff, expressed his displeasure of the Mr. Duppa, Michael Angelo was of the academical figures in the Last Judgment, middle stature, bony in make, rather and intimated an intention to “reform" spare, and broad shouldered ; his comthe picture. Michael sent this message plexion good, his forehead square and to him: “ What the pope wishes, is very a somewhat” projecting; his eyes hazel little, and may be easily effected; for if and rather small; his brows with little his holiness will only reform' the opi- hair; his nose flat from a blow given him nions of mankind, the picture will be in his youth by Torrigiano; his lips thin; reformed of itself.” This holy father his cranium large in proportion to his plunged Italy in blood by his vindictive face. Within these pages a detail of his passions; and while war ravaged its works will not be sought. The few parplains, Michael, at the age of 82, retreated ticulars mentioned are from Mr. Duppa's for a while to a monastery. On coming quarto life, where many of them are enufrom his seclusion, he wrote to Vasari, merated, and outline sketches of some of “I have had a great deal of pleasure in them are engraved. visiting the monks in the mountains of The portrait of Michael Angelo selectSpoleto: indeed, though I am now return- ed by Mr. Duppa, to precede his life, is ed to Rome, I have left the better half of engraved by Bartolozzi, from a profile in myself with them; for in these trouble- Gori's edition of “ Condivi's Memoir." He some times, to say the truth, there is no says its original was a drawing supposed happiness but in such retirement.” The to have been made by Julio Bonasoni, death of this pope filled Rome with from which Mr. Duppa presumes that ar" tumultuous joy," and the papal chair tist to have etched a print bearing his name, was ascended by Pius IV., in whose pon- and dated in the year 1546. There is an tificate, wearied and reduced by the in- engraved portrait dated 1545, without cessant attacks and artifices of his ene- any artist's name attached._Mr. Duppa mies, Michael, at the age of 87, resigned says, “of these two prints Bonasoni's is his office of architect to St. Peter's ; but much the best; and although the second the pope, informed of the frauds which has a prior date, it appears to have been had occasioned it, reinstated him, and engraved from the same original.” That to induce him to retain the appointment, original,” whatever it was, is no longer ensured strict adherence to his designs in existence. Certainly Bonasoni's print until the building should be completed. is better as a print, for it has the grace of

At the age of eighty-nine a slow fever that master's point, yet as a likeness the indicated Michael Angelo's approaching print of 1545 seems to the editor of the decease. His nephew, Leonardo Buo- Every-day Book to have a stronger claim narrotti, was sent for ; but not arriving, to regard ; not because it is of prior date, and the fever increasing, he ordered the but because it has more decisive marks persons who were in the house into his of character. He conjectures, that the

anonymous print of 1545 inay have been cuted from a marble “ original." While executed from a bust or statue of Mi- correctness seems to have been the aim of chael. There is a laboured precision in the engraver in this anonymous print, the contour, and a close mannered mark- elegance appears to have been the object ing of the features, that denote the “ oni of the painter Bonasoni in his etching. Bow ginal” to have been marble. The conjec- nasoni's portrait is comparatively common; ture is strengthened by the fact, that the the anonymous one is rare; a copy of it eye in the anonymous print is without from the print in the editor's possesan iris; a deficiency which exists in no sion, is executed on wood, by Mr. T. Wilengraved portraits unless they are exe- liams, and placed under the reader's eye.

[graphic][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors]

He was

Michael Angelo was remarkable for ture in her undescribable sublimity, he nothing but his genius. He slept little, achieved with corresponding greatness and was abstemious; he was accustomed and beauty. His forms and their intellecto say, “However rich I may have been, tual expression are of the highest order. I have always lived as a poor man.” He He never did any thing little. All was in obtained the reputation of being proud harmony with a mind which he created and odd; for he found little pleasure in of himself by adding fact to fact, by sethe society of men from whom he could vere reading, by close observation, by not learn, or whom he could not teach. study, by seclusion. He was the quarHe was pleased by originality of charac- rier, and architect, and builder-up of his ter in whatever rank he met with it; and own greatness. cultivated in mature life the society of persons respected for their talents and Sir Joshua Reynolds speaks with belearning. When young he endeavoured coming deference of Michael Angelo's to acquaint himself with every branch of powers.-“It will not be thought presumpknowledge that could contribute to his tuous in me to appear in the train, I canimprovement. In common with all who not say of his imitators, but of his adhave obtained a deserved eminence, he was

mirers. I have taken another course, one never satisfied with his performances; if more suited to my abilities, and to the he perceived an imperfection that might taste of the times in which I live. Yet have been avoided, he either threw aside however unequal I feel myself to that atthe work in disgust, or commenced it tempt, were I now to begin the world anew.

again, I would tread in the steps of that He continued to study to the end of great master : to kiss the hem of his garhis life. In his old age the cardinalment, to catch the slightest of his perfecFarnese found him walking in solitude tions, would be glory and distinction amidst the ruins of the Coliseum and ex- enough for an ambitious man. pressed his surprise. Michael answered, the bright luminary from whom painting * I go yet to school that I may continue has borrowed a new lustre, under whose to learn." He lived much alone. His hands it assumed a new appearance, and great excess seems to have been indulg- became another and superior art, and ence in reflection, and the labours of his from whom all his contemporaries and profession. The power of generalizing successors have derived whatever they facts, and realizing what he conceived, he have possessed of the dignified and drew from this habit: without it some majestic.” men have become popular for a time, but no man ever became great.

There are excellent casts from three of

Michael Angelo's statues exhibited by Grandeur was wichael Angelo's pre- Mr. West at Mr. Bullock's museum, in railing sentiment. In his architecture of Piccadilly; they are, Christ, from the St. Peter's, he seems to have been limited church of Sta. Maria at Florence, Lorenzo by the impossibility of arriving to excel- de Medici from his monument, and the lence without adopting the ancient styles, celebrated Moses, from the church of St. and the necessity of attempting something Pietro, in Vincoli, at Rome. The editor great without them; and to speak with of the Every-day Book has conversed with the severity of uncompromising truth he persons who think themselves pupils and failed. Of what else he did in that students in sculpture and painting with science, and he did much, for which he out having seen these ! obtained deserved renown, there is neither room nor occasion to speak. In Michael Angelo had studied anatomy painting and sculpture, if he did not profoundly... Condivi, who was his pupi! always succeed in embodying his feel- and one of his biographers, says that his ings, yet he succeeded more frequently knowledge of human anatomy and or than any other artist since the revival of other animals was so correct, that those arts; and, as his power was greater who had studied it as a profession all than theirs, so he accomplished greater their lives, scarcely understood it so well. works. His aim was elevated as that of When he began to dissect he conceived the giants who warred against the fabled disgust from the offensiveness of the gods; in one respect he was unlike them- operation and desisted; but reflecting that he conquered. Majestic and wild as na- it was disgraceful to abandon what others

« IndietroContinua »