E.V. Lucas.

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famous cornice. The iron lantern and other smithwork were by Lorenzo
the Magnificent's sardonic friend, "Il Caparro," of the Sign of the
Burning Books, of whom I wrote in the chapter on the Medici palace.

The first mistress of the Strozzi palace was Clarice Strozzi,
née Clarice de' Medici, the daughter of Piero, son of Lorenzo the
Magnificent. She was born in 1493 and married Filippo Strozzi the
younger in 1508, during the family's second period of exile. They
then lived at Rome, but were allowed to return to Florence in
1510. Clarice's chief title to fame is her proud outburst when she
turned Ippolito and Alessandro out of the Medici palace. She died
in 1528 and was buried in S. Maria Novella. The unfortunate Filippo
met his end nine years later in the Boboli fortezza, which his money
had helped to build and in which he was imprisoned for his share in
a conspiracy against Cosimo I. Cosimo confiscated the palace and all
Strozzi's other possessions, but later made some restitution. To-day
the family occupy the upper part of their famous imperishable home,
and beneath there is an exhibition of pictures and antiquities for
sale. No private individual, whatever his wealth or ambition, will
probably ever again succeed in building a house half so strong or
noble as this.



CHAPTER XXIII

The Pitti

Luca Pitti's pride - Preliminary caution - A terrace view - A
collection but not a gallery - The personally-conducted - Giorgione
the superb - Sustermans - The "Madonna del Granduca" - The "Madonna
della Sedia" - From Cimabue to Raphael - Andrea del Sarto - Two Popes
and a bastard - The ill-fated Ippolito - The National Gallery - Royal
apartments - "Pallas Subduing the Centaur" - The Boboli Gardens.

The Pitti approached from the Via Guicciardini is far liker a prison
than a palace. It was commissioned by Luca Pitti, one of the proudest
and richest of the rivals of the Medici, in 1441. Cosimo de' Medici,
as we have seen, had rejected Brunelleschi's plans for a palazzo
as being too pretentious and gone instead to his friend Michelozzo
for something that externally at any rate was more modest; Pitti,
whose one ambition was to exceed Cosimo in power, popularity, and
visible wealth, deliberately chose Brunelleschi, and gave him carte
blanche to make the most magnificent mansion possible. Pitti, however,
plotting against Cosimo's son Piero, was frustrated and condemned to
death; and although Piero obtained his pardon he lost all his friends
and passed into utter disrespect in the city. Meanwhile his palace
remained unfinished and neglected, and continued so for a century,
when it was acquired by the Grand Duchess Eleanor of Toledo, the wife
of Cosimo I, who though she saw only the beginnings of its splendours
lived there awhile and there brought up her doomed brood. Eleanor's
architect - or rather Cosimo's, for though the Grand Duchess paid,
the Grand Duke controlled - was Ammanati, the designer of the Neptune
fountain in the Piazza della Signoria. Other important additions were
made later. The last Medicean Grand Duke to occupy the Pitti was Gian
Gastone, a bizarre detrimental, whose head, in a monstrous wig, may
be seen at the top of the stairs leading to the Uffizi gallery. He
died in 1737.

As I have said in chapter VIII, it was by the will of Gian Gastone's
sister, widow of the Elector Palatine, who died in 1743, that the
Medicean collections became the property of the Florentines. This
bequest did not, however, prevent the migration of many of the
best pictures to Paris under Napoleon, but after Waterloo they came
back. The Pitti continued to be the home of princes after Gian Gastone
quitted a world which he found strange and made more so; but they were
not of the Medici blood. It is now a residence of the royal family.

The first thing to do if by evil chance one enters the Pitti by the
covered way from the Uffizi is, just before emerging into the palace,
to avoid the room where copies of pictures are sold, for not only is
it a very catacomb of headache, from the fresh paint, but the copies
are in themselves horrible and lead to disquieting reflections on
the subject of sweated labour. The next thing to do, on at last
emerging, is to walk out on the roof from the little room at the
top of the stairs, and get a supply of fresh air for the gallery,
and see Florence, which is very beautiful from here. Looking over
the city one notices that the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio is almost
more dominating than the Duomo, the work of the same architect who
began this palace. Between the two is Fiesole. The Signoria tower is,
as I say, the highest. Then the Duomo. Then Giotto's Campanile. The
Bargello is hidden, but the graceful Badia tower is seen; also the
little white Baptistery roof with its lantern just showing. From the
fortezza come the sounds of drums and bugles.

Returning from this terrace we skirt a vast porphyry basin and reach
the top landing of the stairs (which was, I presume, once a loggia)
where there is a very charming marble fountain; and from this we
enter the first room of the gallery. The Pitti walls are so congested
and so many of the pictures so difficult to see, that I propose to
refer only to those which, after a series of visits, seem to me the
absolute best. Let me hasten to say that to visit the Pitti gallery
on any but a really bright day is folly. The great windows (which
were to be larger than Cosimo de' Medici's doors) are excellent to
look out of, but the rooms are so crowded with paintings on walls
and ceilings, and the curtains are so absorbent of light, that unless
there is sunshine one gropes in gloom. The only pictures in short that
are properly visible are those on screens or hinges; and these are,
fortunately almost without exception, the best. The Pitti rooms were
never made for pictures at all, and it is really absurd that so many
beautiful things should be massed here without reasonable lighting.

The Pitti also is always crowded. The Uffizi is never crowded; the
Accademia is always comfortable; the Bargello is sparsely attended. But
the Pitti is normally congested, not only by individuals but by flocks,
whose guides, speaking broken English, and sometimes broken American,
lead from room to room. I need hardly say that they form the tightest
knots before the works of Raphael. All this is proper enough, of
course, but it serves to render the Pitti a difficult gallery rightly
to study pictures in.

In the first chapter on the Uffizi I have said how simple it is,
in the Pitti, to name the best picture of all, and how difficult in
most galleries. But the Pitti has one particular jewel which throws
everything into the background: the work not of a Florentine but of a
Venetian: "The Concert" of Giorgione, which stands on an easel in the
Sala di Marte. [9] It is true that modern criticism has doubted the
lightness of the ascription, and many critics, whose one idea seems
to be to deprive Giorgione of any pictures at all, leaving him but
a glorious name without anything to account for it, call it an early
Titian; but this need not trouble us. There the picture is, and never
do I think to see anything more satisfying. Piece by piece, it is
not more than fine rich painting, but as a whole it is impressive and
mysterious and enchanting. Pater compares the effect of it to music;
and he is right.

The Sala dell' Iliade (the name of each room refers always to the
ceiling painting, which, however, one quite easily forgets to look at)
is chiefly notable for the Raphael just inside the door: "La Donna
Gravida," No. 229, one of his more realistic works, with bolder colour
than usual and harder treatment; rather like the picture that has
been made its pendant, No. 224, an "Incognita" by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio,
very firmly painted, but harder still. Between them is the first of the
many Pitti Andrea del Sartos: No. 225, an "Assumption of the Madonna,"
opposite a similar work from the same brush, neither containing quite
the finest traits of this artist. But the youth with outstretched hand
at the tomb is nobly done. No. 265, "Principe Mathias de' Medici,"
is a good bold Sustermans, but No. 190, on the opposite wall, is a
far better - a most charming work representing the Crown Prince of
Denmark, son of Frederick III. Justus Sustermans, who has so many
portraits here and elsewhere in Florence, was a Belgian, born in 1597,
who settled in Florence as a portrait painter to Cosimo III. Van Dyck
greatly admired his work and painted him. He died at Florence in 1681.

No. 208, a "Virgin Enthroned," by Fra Bartolommeo, is from S. Marco,
and it had better have been painted on the wall there, like the Fra
Angelicos, and then the convent would have it still. The Child is very
attractive, as almost always in this artist's work, but the picture
as a whole has grown rather dingy. By the window is a Velasquez, the
first we have seen in Florence, a little Philip IV on his prancing
steed, rather too small for its subject, but very interesting here
among the Italians.

In the next large room - the Sala di Saturno - we come again to
Raphael, who is indeed the chief master of the Pitti, his exquisite
"Madonna del Granduca" being just to the left of the door. Here we
have the simplest colouring and perfect sweetness, and such serenity
of mastery as must be the despair of the copyists, who, however,
never cease attempting it. The only defect is a little clumsiness
in the Madonna's hand. The picture was lost for two centuries and it
then changed owners for twelve crowns, the seller being a poor woman
and the buyer a bookseller. The bookseller found a ready purchaser
in the director of the Grand Duke Ferdinand III's gallery, and the
Grand Duke so esteemed it that he carried it with him on all his
journeys, just as Sir George Beaumont, the English connoisseur, never
travelled without a favourite Claude. Hence its name. Another Andrea
del Sarto, the "Disputa sulla Trinita," No. 172, is close by, nobly
drawn but again not of his absolute best, and then five more Raphaels
or putative Raphaels - No. 171, Tommaso Inghirami; No. 61, Angelo Doni,
the collector and the friend of artists, for whom Michelangelo painted
his "Holy Family" in the Uffizi; No. 59, Maddalena Doni; and above
all No. 174, "The Vision of Ezekiel," that little great picture,
so strong and spirited, and - to coin a word - Sixtinish. All these,
I may say, are questioned by experts; but some very fine hand is
to be seen in them any way. Over the "Ezekiel" is still another,
No. 165, the "Madonna detta del Baldacchino," which is so much better
in the photographs. Next this group - No. 164 - we find Raphael's
friend Perugino with an Entombment, but it lacks his divine glow;
and above it a soft and mellow and easy Andrea del Sarto, No. 163,
which ought to be in a church rather than here. A better Perugino
is No. 42, which has all his sweetness, but to call it the Magdalen
is surely wrong; and close by it a rather formal Fra Bartolommeo,
No. 159, "Gesu Resuscitato," from the church of SS. Annunziata, in
which once again the babies who hold the circular landscape are the
best part. After another doubtful Raphael - the sly Cardinal Divizio
da Bibbiena, No. 158 - let us look at an unquestioned one, No. 151,
the most popular picture in Florence, if not the whole world, Raphael's
"Madonna della Sedia," that beautiful rich scene of maternal tenderness
and infantine peace. Personally I do not find myself often under
Raphael's spell; but here he conquers. The Madonna again is without
enough expression, but her arms are right, and the Child is right,
and the colour is so rich, almost Venetian in that odd way in which
Raphael now and then could suggest Venice.

It is interesting to compare Raphael's two famous Madonnas in this
room: this one belonging to his Roman period and the other, opposite
it, to Florence, with the differences so marked. For by the time he
painted this he knew more of life and human affection. This picture,
I suppose, might be called the consummation of Renaissance painting in
fullest bloom: the latest triumph of that impulse. I do not say it is
the best; but it may be called a crown on the whole movement both in
subject and treatment. Think of the gulf between the Cimabue Madonna
and the Giotto Madonna, side by side, which we saw in the Accademia,
and this. With so many vivid sympathies Giotto must have wanted with
all his soul to make the mother motherly and the child childlike; but
the time was not yet; his hand was neither free nor fit. Between Giotto
and Raphael had to come many things before such treatment as this was
possible; most of all, I think, Luca della Robbia had to come between,
for he was the most valuable reconciler of God and man of them all. He
was the first to bring a tender humanity into the Church, the first
to know that a mother's fingers, holding a baby, sink into its soft
little body. Without Luca I doubt if the "Madonna della Sedia" could
be the idyll of protective solicitude and loving pride that it is.

The Sala di Giove brings us to Venetian painting indeed, and glorious
painting too, for next the door is Titian's "Bella," No. 18, the lady
in the peacock-blue dress with purple sleeves, all richly embroidered
in gold, whom to see once is to remember for ever. On the other side of
the door is Andrea's brilliant "S. John the Baptist as a Boy," No. 272,
and then the noblest Fra Bartolommeo here, a Deposition, No. 64, not
good in colour, but superbly drawn and pitiful. In this room also is
the monk's great spirited figure of S. Marco, for the convent of that
name. Between them is a Tintoretto, No. 131, Vincenzo Zeino, one of his
ruddy old men, with a glimpse of Venice, under an angry sky, through
the window. Over the door, No. 124, is an Annunciation by Andrea,
with a slight variation in it, for two angels accompany that one who
brings the news, and the announcement is made from the right instead
of the left, while the incident is being watched by some people on the
terrace over a classical portico. A greater Andrea hangs next: No. 123,
the Madonna in Glory, fine but rather formal, and, like all Andrea's
work, hall-marked by its woman type. The other notable pictures are
Raphael's Fornarina, No. 245, which is far more Venetian than the
"Madonna della Sedia," and has been given to Sebastian del Piombo;
and the Venetian group on the right of the door, which is not only
interesting for its own charm but as being a foretaste of the superb
and glorious Giorgione in the Sala di Marte, which we now enter.

Here we find a Rembrandt, No. 16, an old man: age and dignity emerging
golden from the gloom; and as a pendant a portrait, with somewhat
similar characteristics, but softer, by Tintoretto, No. 83. Between
them is a prosperous, ruddy group of scholars by Rubens, who has
placed a vase of tulips before the bust of Seneca. And we find Rubens
again with a sprawling, brilliant feat entitled "The Consequences
of War," but what those consequences are, beyond nakedness, one
has difficulty in discerning. Raphael's Holy Family, No. 94 (also
known as the "Madonna dell' Impannata"), next it might be called the
perfection of drawing without feeling. The authorities consider it a
school piece: that is to say, chiefly the work of his imitators. The
vivacity of the Child's face is very remarkable. The best Andrea is
in this room - a Holy Family, No. 81, which gets sweeter and simpler
and richer with every glance. Other Andreas are here too, notably on
the right of the further door a sweet mother and sprawling, vigorous
Child. But every Andrea that I see makes me think more highly of the
"Madonna della Sacco," in the cloisters of SS. Annunziata. Van Dyck,
who painted much in Italy before settling down at the English court,
we find in this room with a masterly full-length seated portrait of
an astute cardinal. But the room's greatest glory, as I have said,
is the Giorgione on the easel.

In the Sala di Apollo, at the right of the door as we enter, is
Andrea's portrait of himself, a serious and mysterious face shining
out of darkness, and below it is Titian's golden Magdalen, No. 67,
the same ripe creature that we saw at the Uffizi posing as Flora,
again diffusing Venetian light. On the other side of the door we find,
for the first time in Florence, Murillo, who has two groups of the
Madonna and Child on this wall, the better being No. 63, which is both
sweet and masterly. In No. 56 the Child becomes a pretty Spanish boy
playing with a rosary, and in both He has a faint nimbus instead of
the halo to which we are accustomed. On the same wall is another fine
Andrea, who is most lavishly represented in this gallery, No. 58,
a Deposition, all gentle melancholy rather than grief. The kneeling
girl is very beautiful.

Finally there are Van Dyck's very charming portrait of Charles
I of England and Henrietta, a most deft and distinguished work,
and Raphael's famous portrait of Leo X with two companions: rather
dingy, and too like three persons set for the camera, but powerful and
deeply interesting to us, because here we see the first Medici pope,
Leo X, Lorenzo de' Medici's son Giovanni, who gave Michelangelo the
commission for the Medici tombs and the new Sacristy of S. Lorenzo;
and in the young man on the Pope's right hand we see none other
than Giulio, natural son of Giuliano de' Medici, Lorenzo's brother,
who afterwards became Pope as Clement VII. It was he who laid siege
to Florence when Michelangelo was called upon to fortify it; and it
was during his pontificate that Henry VIII threw off the shackles
of Rome and became the Defender of the Faith. Himself a bastard,
Giulio became the father of the base-born Alessandro of Urbino,
first Duke of Florence, who, after procuring the death of Ippolito
and living a life of horrible excess, was himself murdered by his
cousin Lorenzino in order to rid Florence of her worst tyrant. In
his portrait Leo X has an illuminated missal and a magnifying glass,
as indication of his scholarly tastes. That he was also a good liver
his form and features testify.

Of this picture an interesting story is told. After the battle of
Pavia, in 1525, Clement VII wishing to be friendly with the Marquis
of Gonzaga, a powerful ally of the Emperor Charles V, asked him what
he could do for him, and Gonzaga expressed a wish for the portrait
of Leo X, then in the Medici palace. Clement complied, but wishing
to retain at any rate a semblance of the original, directed that the
picture should be copied, and Andrea del Sarto was chosen for that
task. The copy turned out to be so close that Gonzaga never obtained
the original at all.

In the next room - the Sala di Venere, and the last room in the long
suite - we find another Raphael portrait, and another Pope, this time
Julius II, that Pontiff whose caprice and pride together rendered
null and void and unhappy so many years of Michelangelo's life,
since it was for him that the great Julian tomb, never completed, was
designed. A replica of this picture is in our National Gallery. Here
also are a wistful and poignant John the Baptist by Dossi, No. 380;
two Dürers - an Adam and an Eve, very naked and primitive, facing
each other from opposite walls; and two Rubens landscapes not equal
to ours at Trafalgar Square, but spacious and lively. The gem of the
room is a lovely Titian, No. 92, on an easel, a golden work of supreme
quietude and disguised power. The portrait is called sometimes the
Duke of Norfolk, sometimes the "Young Englishman".

Returning to the first room - the Sala of the Iliad - we enter the Sala
dell' Educazione di Giove, and find on the left a little gipsy portrait
by Boccaccio Boccaccino (1497-1518) which has extraordinary charm:
a grave, wistful, childish face in a blue handkerchief: quite a new
kind of picture here. I reproduce it in this volume, but it wants
its colour. For the rest, the room belongs to less-known and later
men, in particular to Cristofano Allori (1577-1621), with his famous
Judith, reproduced in all the picture shops of Florence. This work is
no favourite of mine, but one cannot deny it power and richness. The
Guido Reni opposite, in which an affected fat actress poses as
Cleopatra with the asp, is not, however, even tolerable.

We next pass, after a glance perhaps at the adjoining tapestry room
on the left (where the bronze Cain and Abel are), the most elegant
bathroom imaginable, fit for anything rather than soap and splashes,
and come to the Sala di Ulisse and some good Venetian portraits:
a bearded senator in a sable robe by Paolo Veronese, No. 216, and,
No. 201, Titian's fine portrait of the ill-fated Ippolito de'
Medici, son of that Giuliano de' Medici, Duc de Nemours, whose
tomb by Michelangelo is at S. Lorenzo. This amiable young man was
brought up by Leo X until the age of twelve, when the Pope died,
and the boy was sent to Florence to live at the Medici palace,
with the base-born Alessandro, under the care of Cardinal Passerini,
where he remained until Clarice de' Strozzi ordered both the boys to
quit. In 1527 came the third expulsion of the Medici from Florence,
and Ippolito wandered about until Clement VII, the second Medici
Pope, was in Rome, after the sack, and, joining him there, he was,
against his will, made a cardinal, and sent to Hungary: Clement's idea
being to establish Alessandro (his natural son) as Duke of Florence,
and squeeze Ippolito, the rightful heir, out. This, Clement succeeded
in doing, and the repulsive and squalid-minded Alessandro - known as
the Mule - was installed. Ippolito, in whom this proceeding caused
deep grief, settled in Bologna and took to scholarship, among other
tasks translating part of the Aeneid into Italian blank verse;
but when Clement died and thus liberated Rome from a vile tyranny,
he was with him and protected his corpse from the angry mob. That
was in 1534, when Ippolito was twenty-seven. In the following year
a number of exiles from Florence who could not endure Alessandro's
offensive ways, or had been forced by him to fly, decided to appeal
to the Emperor Charles V for assistance against such a contemptible
ruler; and Ippolito headed the mission; but before he could reach the
Emperor an emissary of Alessandro's succeeded in poisoning him. Such
was Ippolito de' Medici, grandson of the great Lorenzo, whom Titian
painted, probably when he was in Bologna, in 1533 or 1534.

This room also contains a nice little open decorative scene - like a
sketch for a fresco - of the Death of Lucrezia, No. 388, attributed
to the School of Botticelli, and above it a good Royal Academy Andrea
del Sarto.

The next is the best of these small rooms - the Sala of
Prometheus - where on Sundays most people spend their time in
astonishment over the inlaid tables, but where Tuscan art also is
very beautiful. The most famous picture is, I suppose, the circular
Filippino Lippi, No. 343, but although the lively background is
very entertaining and the Virgin most wonderfully painted, the Child
is a serious blemish. The next favourite, if not the first, is the
Perugino on the easel - No. 219 - one of his loveliest small pictures,
with an evening glow among the Apennines such as no other painter
could capture. Other fine works here are the Fra Bartolommeo, No. 256,
over the door, a Holy Family, very pretty and characteristic, and his
"Ecce Homo," next it; the adorable circular Botticini (as the catalogue
calls it, although the photographers waver between Botticelli and
Filippino Lippi), No. 347, with its myriad roses and children with
their little folded hands and the Mother and Child diffusing happy
sweetness, which, if only it were a little less painty, would be one
of the chief magnets of the gallery.

Hereabout are many Botticelli school pictures, chief of these the
curious girl, called foolishly "La Bella Simonetta," which Mr. Berenson
attributes to that unknown disciple of Botticelli to whom he has given
the charming name of Amico di Sandro. This study in browns, yellow,
and grey always has its public. Other popular Botticelli derivatives
are Nos. 348 and 357. Look also at the sly and curious woman (No. 102),
near the window, by Ubertini, a new artist here; and the pretty Jacopo
del Sellaio, No. 364; a finely drawn S. Sebastian by Pollaiuolo;
the Holy Family by Jacopo di Boateri, No. 362, with very pleasant
colouring; No. 140, the "Incognita," which people used to think was
by Leonardo - for some reason difficult to understand except on the
principle of making the wish father to the thought - and is now given
to Bugiardini; and lastly a rich and comely example of Lombardy art,
No. 299.

From this room we will enter first the Corridio delle Colonne where


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