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patched to Florence to see whether their author could
be persuaded to visit France and enter the king's
service. The agent arrived at a propitious moment,
when del Sarto, conscious of some of the mistakes he
had made in life, was overburdened by the extrava-
gances of his wife and with the care of her family.
Some friends who were with him when the invitation

* Probably now in the Louvre.

t There are interesting sketches for the angels in the Uffizi.

24




Miss Bulwer photo}



PIETA



PERIOD IN FRANCE 25

came urged him to accept it, and to leave his wife in
some safe abode till such time as he should be well
established in the French Court, and able to send for
her, when they could live together in honour and
comfort.

Before leaving Florence Andrea carefully arranged
his affairs, and provided for his wife's comfort as well
as for the needs of his own journey. On May 25,
1518, he deposited a sum of money in the " Spedale
di Santa Maria Nuova," which, in case of his death
should come to Lucrezia.

It was at this time also on May 23, 1518 that he
gave the receipt for her marriage portion,* 1 50 fiorini, to
his wife's father.

All having been put in order, Andrea started for
France, taking with him his pupil Andrea Squazzella ;
and the king's envoy gave him money and ample
provision for the journey.

Del Sarto's visit to France lay between the dates
25th May 1518 and i/th October 1519, when we find
him again depositing money in person in the Spedale
di Santa Maria Nuova.

He was well received in the French capital, luxuri-
ously lodged and generously treated. The king at
once made him handsome presents of clothes and
money, and employed him to paint a portrait of the
young Dauphin (born February 28, 1518), for which
he was paid 300 gold pieces.

He then proceeded to paint the Charity, now in the
Louvre (No. 43), a picture of immense power both in

* Archivio generale dei Contratti di Firenze. Regiti dal 1516 al 1518
a carte 255 tergo.



26 ANDREA DEL SARTO

composition and technique, which has suffered sadly
by repeated transferences. It was originally on wood,
but in 1550 was transferred to canvas by Picault ; and
at a later date, having suffered from damp, it was
again transferred to a fresh canvas (1842).

These constant manipulations are enough to account
for the French character which has found its way into
the expression of the Charity's face. The work be-
longs to del Sarto's ripest perfection, and is done
with consummate art. An interesting sketch for one of
the children's heads is preserved in the Louvre. This
picture is signed " Andreas Sartus Florentinus me
pinxit MDXVIII." The Pieta now in the Belvedere
in Vienna (No. 23) belongs also to this time, and is
rendered with equally great creative power. Here the
dead Christ is bewailed by the Virgin and two angels
yet, while the work is one of great dignity as well
as power, it leaves the spectator cold, as it is lacking
in sympathy and in that elevation of sentiment which
the subject demands.

There were also many other pictures now painted
for the king and for his court. Andrea's life was,
as Vasari says, a sudden change from an extreme of
wretchedness to one of happiness and good fortune,
but it was not destined to last long. One day, when
at work at a picture for the king's mother (a St
Jerome which cannot now be traced), he received
letters from Florence which greatly disturbed his
peace of mind. His wife wrote urging his return, and
very cleverly played upon his feelings by describing
her days as spent in weeping and solitude. She told
him that her life had become so sad and lonely without




Braun photo]



[Louvre, Paris



CHARITY





Braun photo]



SKETCH FOR CHILD'S HEAD
IN CHARITY



[Louvre, Paris



PERIOD IN FRANCE 27

him that, unless he were to come at once, he would
not find her alive. The letter contained many tender
words, and the poor man, "who loved her but too
well," as Vasari says, at once set about planning his
return, choosing rather to suffer the old misery than
to pursue the glory and fame of his art. His inten-
tion once formed to return to his wife, he became full
of childlike impatience to show her his fine clothes
and the many beautiful gifts he had received. Andrea
obtained the king's leave to visit Florence for a time,
and he promised to return before long, and to bring
his wife with him, so that he might have no further
hindrance in his work. The king gave him commis-
sion to bring back many works of art, and provided
him with large sums of money for their purchase ;
such at least is the story related by Vasari, who adds
that to make assurance doubly sure, Andrea took an
oath upon the Gospel to return within a few months.
And so he went to Florence, but, once arrived, he
forgot all about his promises in the joy of being again
with the wife of his affections ; and, unmindful of his
trust, he lavished upon her and upon her family the
money with which the king had entrusted him.

He also bought a piece of ground between the Via
Mandorla and St Sebastiano, where he built himself a
house,* which still exists in the corner of the Gino

*"Diexv. Octobris 1520. Actum in Archiepiscopali curia Florentie,
presentibus Sebastiano Laurenti Antonii pictore (Aristotile da Sangallo)
e ser Francisco de Fighino. Dominicus Johannis de Canochis civis
florentinus vendidit excellent! magistro Andree Angeli del Sarto, pictori
ibidem present! unum petium terre brachionim tradecim per latitudinem,
et brachiorum octuaginta quinque cum dimidio per longitudinem, positum
Florentie in populo Santi Michaelis Vicedominorum cum fundamento a



28 ANDREA DEL SARTO

Capponi and Mandorlo Streets, and bears a tablet
with the following inscription :
" In questa casa
Abite il pittore senza errori
Andrea Vannucchi Fiorentino

detto il Sarto

Che reduce di Francia la edefice
E vi moriva nell' anno MDXXX.
Pieno di gloria e di domestic! affanni." *

When the time came that del Sarto should return to
France the king's money was all squandered, and his
wife so wrought upon him with tears and lamentations
that she persuaded him to break his oath to the king,
and to remain in Florence.

This is Vasari's story ; but the truth of his statement
is open to doubt from the fact that recent investigations
have brought to light the accounts of King Francis,
which appear to have been kept by him with the utmost
accuracy.

parte anterior!, et iuxta viam magistram ; cuia a primo via publica que vadit
ab Oratorio Sancti Sebastiani ad menia civitatis ; a secundo bona Sebastiani
Laurentii pictoris ; a 3 dicti Sebastiani, a 4 bona reverendi domini Generalis
Vallisumbrose ; pro pretio ducatorum quinquaginta auri largoram in auro
nitidorum." (Archiv. gen. dei Contratti di Firenze. Rogiti diser Scipione
Braccesi, protocollo dal 1519 al 1524. a-c. 96 tergo.)

* After del Sarto's time this house passed into the possession of
Frederigo Zucchero (1543-1609), and later into that of Giovanbattista
Paggi (1555-1629), two artists of repute. Later it belonged to the
Rafanelli family, and it is now in the possession of F. G. Caccia, Esq.
In the year 1890, while having some repairs made, Mr Caccia's mason
came across an interesting bronze medal built into the outer wall of the first
storey. This medal had been struck in commemoration of Zucchero's
having finished painting the cupola of the Duomo, which Vasari had begun
1572, and which was completed by Zucchero in 1578. The medal bears
the bust of Zucchero on one side, and on the other a section of the dome,
with name and date.



PERIOD IN FRANCE 29

In these no trace can be found of any sums, large or
small (beyond the payments due for his own work), as
having been entrusted to del Sarto.

This evidence, with the knowledge that no efforts
were made by the king to obtain restitution, or secure
punishment for the offender, is enough to make us
believe that Vasari's statements on the subject are
untrustworthy, and tend to acquit from dishonesty the
memory of the simple man who could not tear himself
from his wife, and who for her sake was content to
break his promises, and to forego the honourable
career which awaited him in the French court.

During the absence of Andrea in France the Scalzo
Brotherhood, not expecting his return, commissioned
Franciabigio to proceed with the decoration of their
cloister, and he there painted the little St John receiving
his father's benediction before his departure for the
desert, and the meeting by the way of the same with
the child Jesus.

These frescoes are certainly inspired by del Sarto,
if indeed not taken from his designs. In the Benedic-
tion of St John the central figures of the child,
St Elizabeth, and Zacharias are unmistakably the work
of Franciabigio, heavy of proportion, the heads and
hands large, the hair massive, as if sculptured rather
than painted.

The two young men on the staircase, however, are
quite other in their proportions, and the treatment
of their hair. Here the type is distinctly that of del
Sarto, the head small, and the form Mance, the hair
is treated with natural suavity, while the hands are
nervous and well-modelled.



30 ANDREA DEL SARTO

In the second of these frescoes " San Giovanni fanci-
ullo incontro il Bambino Gesii," while there is no
question but that the Zacharias is Franciabigio's, it
is equally evident that the St Elizabeth comes directly
or indirectly from the design of Andrea the delicate
hand, the small head, and the sartesque drapery could
have had no other source. If feebler in execution than
the rest of the Scalzo work, these two frescoes have
a certain grace of sentiment which is poetic and
very charming. It is probable Franciabigio would have
finished the Scalzo frescoes had it not become known
that Andrea had returned, and that he was resolved to
remain in Florence.




A linari photo\



\Scalzo Cloister, Florence



CHARITY



CHAPTER IV

RETURN TO FLORENCE

UPON hearing of his return his old patrons summoned
him to continue the work, which he again took in hand
in 1520, and which was not finally completed till
1526. It is in the cloister of the Scalzo that the work
of del Sarto in chiaroscuro must be studied in order
to see him at his best. Faint and faded as, alas, these
priceless works have now become, they have never been
surpassed for mastery of design and noble execution.
" The conditions of monochrome which excluded all
charm of colour appear to have stirred up the master to
do his very best " (Burckhardt) ; and as they embrace a
time stretching from 1509 to 1526 the work of the artist
at various intervals can be profitably observed. He now
painted the Charity and Faith, and received, on their
account "lire ventuna" (twenty lire), August 19, 1520.
The Charity is one of del Sarto's most perfect com-
positions, perhaps only equalled by that of the Louvre,
which was done but a short while previously, and which
is more grandiose in treatment. It is the portrait of
Lucrezia ; upon her head burns the Divine flame ; one
child clings to her neck, two others to her feet, one of
whom recalls the movement of a putto in the Madonna
deir Arpie. Professor Max Miiller possesses an early
sketch of the whole, drawn on small sheets of very old
paper pasted together, and measuring 2\ feet by
3 1



32 ANDREA DEL SARTO

2 feet 10 inches. It is marked " Abbozzo di Andrea
del Sarto," and on the back is written, " Dono d' Marchel-
lini nel 1648 per ricordo, Carrara!" This sketch is an
interesting record, but does not appear to be original,
though thought to be so by some.

It was in the same year, 1520, del Sarto painted the
Tabernacolo outside the Porta a Pinti a fresco of the
Madonna and child, and the little laughing St John
whose grimace is painful.

This Tabernacolo, Bottari calls " a Divine picture,"
and he describes it as one of the most beautiful works
which ever issued from the hand of man.

Thanks to its marvellous beauty it escaped destruc-
tion during the siege of Florence, 1529, when the Jesuit
Convent beside it was razed to the ground. As late as
1880 it still existed, but in a ruined condition, and it
has since completely disappeared.

Bocchi recounts how the Grand Duke Cosimo sought
to have it moved to a place of greater safety within the
walls, and how he brought with him architects and
engineers to see how best this could be done ; but one
and all declared against the attempt, fearing lest the
fresco should be injured : so there it remained until the
ravages of wind and weather, and the vandalisms of an
inartistic eighteenth century completed its destruction.

There is an early sketch of the whole (not original)
in the Vienna Museum ; but the relic of most interest
is the original sketch for the head of St John, now in
the possession of the Earl of Warwick a masterly
drawing full of life and vigour.

In 1521 Andrea was at work in the Medici Villa
at Poggio a Cajano, employed with other artists, by




Braun photo]



MADONNA, CHILD, AND ST JOHN



[Vienna. Museum




Alinari photo]



[ I 'ilia of Poggio a Cajano



TRIBUTE OF CAESAR
FRESCO IN GRAND HALL



RETURN TO FLORENCE 33

Ottaviano de' Medici, to adorn the walls of the great
hall for Leo X. He here painted Caesar receiving
tribute, a large fresco full of movement and of vigorous
incident, very bright in colour and lively in design.
There is a magnificent and very difficult perspective
of stairs which ascend to the throne of Caesar, adorned
with statues, up which crowd a motely assembly bringing
their gifts of strange and Oriental animals. A yellow-
coated Indian carries on his head a cage full of parrots,
and others follow with Indian goats, lions, giraffes,
panthers, wolves, lynxes, apes, all having great merit,
and exceedingly well arranged.* The work, though
unlike Andrea in composition, is wholly his in its
disregard of difficulties and in its ease of drawing.
It was left unfinished at the death of the Pope, and
so it remained for upwards of fifty years.

In 1532 Clement VII. wished Pontormo to complete
the fresco, but he let the order slip, and it was not till
the time of Ferdinand I., G.D., that anything was done.
It was then completed by Allori, and is signed, " Anno
dm. MDXXI. Andreas Sartius, pingebat, et A.D.,
MDLXXXII. Alexander Allorius sequbatur." Vasari
describes the original drawing as the most finished he
had ever seen, and says that he kept it in his own
possession. Rossini argues that this fresco contains
proof that del Sarto must have visited Rome after the
death of Raphael, and there received impressions which
show themselves in this work, the composition of which
is quite outside his usual range. He says the perspective,
the statues, the foreign animals, and the sontuosita of
the drapery all prove " that his mind had been opened

* Vasari, v. 36.
C



34 ANDREA DEL SARTO

beyond the limits of his usual timidity," and he therefore
argues that the visit to Rome, about which early writers
hint, though none speak with precision, must have
preceded the paintings of this versatile composition.*
It is related that Michael Angelo held del Sarto in
high estimation, and was heard to remark to Raphael,
" There is a bit of a manikin in Florence who would
bring the sweat to your brow if he chanced to be
employed on the great undertakings entrusted to you ! "
The fact of his visit to Rome cannot be affirmed with
any certainty, and is only gathered incidentally, as, for
instance, when Mariette speaks of having sixty landscape-
sketches by him, and describes one as being of the
Colosseum.

When the Pope's death, in 1521, interrupted the
work at his country villa, del Sarto returned to the
Scalzo cloister, and there painted, at intervals, the
Dance of Salome, the Decapitation of St John Baptist,
the Presentation of St John's Head, and the Annuncia-
tion to Zacharias ; the latter bears the cypher, and is
inscribed on the base of the altar, "A.D. M.D. (xxii.)."
Both it and the allegorical figure of Hope were paid
for on the same day, 22nd August 1523.1

Andrea appears now to have been anxious to make
amends for his wrong-doing towards the King of
France, and he painted sundry pictures, with a view
to sending them to that country ; but whether or not

* Lanzi says, "Vide Roma, non so in quel anno, ma pur la vide."

t Et de avere adl 22 d'agosto 1523, L.cinquanzei sono pe dipittura de
quadro de la Nunzione (sic) di Sa Govani, chome si vede ne nostro
ciostro. E de avere adl detto L.ventuna sono per avere dipitto una figura
a latto a la porto ne ciostro coe Speranza. (Archivio di stato compa di
San Gian Battista dello Scalzo. Libro B. dal 1514 al 1535, carte 83.)




Aliitari phato\



ST JOHN BAPTIST



[Pitti Palzce, Florence




Alinari photo]



[Pitti Palace, Florence



ST JOHN BAPTIST



RETURN TO FLORENCE 35

they ever reached their destination is unknown. In
any case, the breach was never healed, and Andrea did
not again leave Florence, or its immediate neighbour-
hood. Two pictures of St John were now painted, one
of which is probably the much over-cleaned but very
charming little half-figure of the Pitti, No. 272. Painted
for the Grand Constable of France, with the hope of
recalling himself to the memory of the king ; it was
never sent, but was finally sold to Ottaviano de Medici.

The two pictures from the story of Joseph, now
in the Pitti (Nos. 87 and 88), also belong to this
period. They were painted to ornament the Cassoni,
or large linen chests, ordered by Salvi Borgherini on
the occasion of his son Pier Francesco's marriage to
Margharita Accajuoli. One of the old man's wedding
gifts to his son was the furniture of the nuptial
chamber, all of which was decorated by the best artists
of the time Baccio d'Agnolo, del Sarto, Granacci,
Pontormo, and Bacchiacca, as well as others.*

So great was the beauty of their work that during
the siege of Florence an effort was^made to despoil
the house and carry off its art treasures. In fact,
Giovanbattista della Palla, the agent of the King of
France, persuaded the Florentine Government to let
him have the furniture of the Borgherini Palace, with
a view to sending it as a gift to his patron Francis I.,
hoping thus to propitiate his aid for the Republic.
Borgherini's wife, however, viewed the matter differ-
ently, and stoutly refused to let her house be sacked.
She received della Palla with high words, and refused
to give him admission. " Begone, vile broker unworthy

* See Vasari's " Life of Pontormo."



36 ANDREA DEL SARTO

salesman ! " she cried, " how dare you think to carry
off the ornaments of a lordly house, and to despoil this
city of its treasures, in order to embellish the abodes
of strangers and enemies! The bed you seek to
remove was made for our wedding, in honour of
which my husband's father ordered all this royal and
magnificent furniture, which I love and revere, and
will preserve with the last drop of my blood." With
these words Margharita Borgherini drove her crest-
fallen visitor from the doors. Soon afterwards Palla
was imprisoned, and forfeited his life as a traitor. Del
Sarto's share in the decoration of this princely abode
was confined to the two panels which now hang in the
Pitti Palace, where in small figures incidents from the
life of Joseph are set forth. The pictures are full of
atmosphere and colour, and No. 87 possesses Andrea's
favourite hillock, seen in so many of his landscapes.
It was in 1523 that Frederick II., Duke of Mantua,
passed through Florence on his way to Rome, to pay
homage to Pope Clement VII.; and he then saw and
admired Raphael's portrait of Leo X. and the two
cardinals, of whom Clement himself was one. The
Duke, whether from policy or appreciation, told the
Pope how much he admired the portraits, and how
gratified he would be if the panel might be his ;
whereupon Clement sent orders to Ottaviano de
Medici that Raphael's picture should be sent to the
Duke at Mantua. Ottaviano, however, knew too well
the value of the original, and so he employed del
Sarto to make a copy, which was sent to Mantua,
whilst the original remained in Florence. Andrea's
work was so excellent that it was accepted without



RETURN TO FLORENCE 37

suspicion, and when, some time later, Vasari visited
Mantua, and was going through the Palace with Giulio
Romano, he pointed it out to him as the only Raphael
in the ducal collection, and one of incomparable beauty.

" It is very fine, but not Raphael's," said Vasari.

" Not his ! " cried Romano. " Should not I know,
who can recognise the strokes of my own brush ? "

"It is by del Sarto, as I can prove to you from
a sign on the back," replied Vasari, turning the picture
round, and pointing to del Sarto's sign.

" I esteem it none the less, but rather all the more ! "
exclaimed Giulio, generously ; " for it is a thing
beyond nature that one man could so faultlessly
imitate the manner of another, and make a picture so
exactly alike ! " Raphael's original now hangs in the
Pitti (No. 40), and Andrea's copy is in the Naples Gallery.

In 1841 an argument was started denying the authen-
ticity of the Pitti original, and claiming as Raphael's
the del Sarto copy of Naples. A long and tedious
controversy between the Neapolitans and Tuscans
followed, and a war of pamphlets,* which left the
victory if, indeed, victory it could be called where
it was : Andrea's copy being indubitably at Naples,
and Raphael's original at Florence.

Whilst Andrea was copying the Raphael for the
Duke, he also made a copy of the head of Cardinal
Giulio for Ottaviano, who presented it to the old Bishop
of Marzi. The picture bearing this title in the Naples
Museum, and attributed to del Sarto, would hardly
appear to be the one alluded to.

* Giov. Masselli, Cav. Niccolini, and Carlo Pancaldi all wrote on the
subject.



CHAPTER V

DURING THE PLAGUE

FOR some years an illness, known as the Pest or
Plague, had from time to time broken out in Florence,
devastating the city, and driving from within its walls
all who could get away.

In the year 1522 it once more appeared, coming
this time from Rome. At first it confined itself to
certain streets, which were carefully shut off; but, in
spite of all precautions, the illness augmented, and in
1523 it became so bad that all who could fled from
the city. Andrea took his family to Mugello, where
his friend and patron, Brancacci, obtained for him a
commission from the abbess of the Convent of St Piero
in Luco. In the quiet of the convent del Sarto and
his family remained for several months, and were
entertained with friendliness and hospitality by the
abbess and her nuns, whilst he painted for them the
Pieta of the Pitti (No. 58), a Visitation, and a Head
of the Saviour, similar to that in the SS. Annunziata,
but on canvas. The Pieta is a fine dramatic picture,
forcible in movement, and of elevated realism. It
represents the dead Christ supported by the Evangelist,
while at His feet kneels Mary Magdalen, with clasped
hands, and behind her St Catherine. The Virgin leans
forward and clasps the hand of her Son (the beautiful

38




[Pitti Pa/ace, Florence



PI ETA




A linari photo]



{Uffizi Palace, Florence



STUDY FOR HEAD OF S. MARY MAGDALEN
IN THE PITTI PALACE PIETA



DURING THE PLAGUE 39

original drawing for these two hands is in the Louvre
collection), and behind stand St Peter and St Paul
the latter introduced by command. The picture is
one of perfect equipoise in composition ; and we are
fortunate in possessing not only the original sketch
for the whole, but also studies for many of the details.
The original sketch for the dead Christ, in red chalk,
is in the Louvre, for which collection a sum of 150
florins was paid for it. There, too, is a study for the
head of St Catherine, while the sketch for the head of
the Magdalen is in the Uffizi. We are thus able to
trace this beautiful work from its very first inception
in the artist's mind, and to follow the interest of its
development. On October n, 1524, del Sarto was
paid by the abbess for this picture and for the Visita-
tion (now, unfortunately, disappeared) a sum of 80
ducats in gold.

The Plague having somewhat abated, Andrea returned
to Florence, and in the November of that year (1524)
the Visitation of the Scalzo is painted and paid for ;
and this was quickly followed by the Madonna and
Saints of the Pitti (No. 307) a fine work, in which the
Madonna and Child, seated on clouds, ar adored by
six saints, who stand and kneel below. This picture
was painted by order of del Sarto's intimate friend,
Becuccio Biccherai da Gambassi, of whom and his wife,


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