Giorgio Vasari.

Lives of the most eminent painters, sculptors and architects: (Volume 5) online

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" THE enthralling Biographies of Vasari biographies which from
their peculiar diversity and fascination caused the late unfortunate
Haydon to exclaim with enthusiasm, <!F I WERE CONFINED TO


BIBLE, SHAKESPERE, AND VASARI.' " Westminster and Foreign












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Eidolfo Ghirlandajo, and David and Benedetto Ghirlan-

dajo . . . . . .1

Giovanni da Udine . . . . .16

Battista Franco . . . . .33

Giovan-Francesco Rustici . . . .61

Fra Giovan' Agnolo Montorsoli . . .86

Francesco Sal viati . . . . .119

Daniello Ricciarelli ..... 162

Taddeo Zucchero . . . . .179

Michelagnolo Buonarroti .... 227

Francesco Primaticcio ..... 370

Titian ....... 382

Jacopo Sansovino ..... 408

Lione Lioni ...... 429

Don Giulio Clovio ..... 443

Divers Italian Artists ..... 452

Divers Flemish Artists .... 458

The Academicians of Design, Painters, Sculptors, and

Architects ...... 467

Description of the Works of Giorgio Yasari, Painter and

Architect, of Arezzo . . . .501


Passage omitted. See Life of Lione Lioni, Vol. V., p. 439; after line 26
should come the following paragraph.

A Milanese, named Leonardo, has also accomplished numerous works
in Rome, and he has very lately finished two statues of San Pietro and
San Paolo in marble, for the Chapel of the Cardinal Giovanni Riccio of
Montepulciano ; they are considered good figures and are much extolled.
The sculptors, Jacopo and Tommaso Casignuola, have executed a statue in
several pieces for the tomb of Pope Paul IV. in the Chapel of the Caraffi
in the Church of the Minerva ; it represents the Pontiff just mentioned,
robed in a mantle formed of the brocatello marble, and the frieze, with
the other decorations, is also in vari-colourecl marbles. Here then we find
an addition made to the productions of modern genius, since the sculptors,
by means of colours, make their works resemble paintings. This tomb,
out of his great goodness and gratitude, has been constructed by that truly
excellent and sacred Father and Pontiff Pius V., a man indeed most holy
;tnd most worthy to enjoy a long life.




[Flourished from the latter part and close of the 15th century, to some-
what past the middle of the 16th century.]

ALTHOUGH it appears to be in a certain sort impossible that
he who studiously imitates and carefully pursues the foot-
steps of some excellent master in our arts, should fail to
become very nearly similar, at least in certain points, to the
person thus imitated, yet we have very frequently to remark
that the sons and brothers of distinguished men do but rarelv


equal their forerunners ; nay, rather, that they do won-
derfully degenerate from the same ; and this is not, as I
believe, because the qualities of their blood have failed to
inspire them with the same readiness of mind and an equal
amount of genius, but comes rather from a totally different
cause from the too perfect ease and enjoyment secured to
them namely, and from that abundance of possessions and
indulgences which but too often prevents men from being
zealous in their studies and diligent in the labours of their
art. Yet I will not affirm this rule to be so entirely without
exception, as to preclude the occasional occurrence of the

David and Benedetto Ghirlandajo were indeed endowed
with good genius, and might, without doubt, have pursued
the footsteps in art of their brother Domenico ; yet they did
not do so, but on the death of their said brother they departed
to such an extent from the true methods of proceeding, that
the one, Benedetto that is to say, wandered long in aimless

* Of David and Benedetto Ghirlandajo, Vasari has already made men-
tion in the Life of Domenico their brother, for which see vol. ii. of the
present work, p. 200, et seq.



idleness, and the other spent his time in vainly racking his
brains about mosaics.

But to speak first of David, who was much beloved by
Domenico his brother, and who also loved him exceedingly,
both living and dead ; David, I say, finished many works
which had been commenced by Domenico, some of which he
completed in company with Benedetto, more particularly the
picture for the High Altar of Santa Maria Novella, the
back part that is to say, which is now turned towards the
choir : the gradino of the picture was finished in small
figures by some of the disciples of Domenico ; by Niccolaio*
namely, who, beneath the figure of San Stefano, represented
with much care and pains a Disputation, in which that saint
was engaged ; by Francesco Granacci, y and by Jacopo del
Tedesco,;|; who, together with Benedetto Ghirlandajo, com-
pleted the figure of Sant' Antonino, Archbishop of Florence,
with that of Santa Caterina da Siena. These artists like-
wise finished a picture in the body of the Church, Santa
Lucia namely, with the head of a Monk, which was placed
nearly in the centre of the building, to say nothing of other
pictures and paintings of various kinds which are dispersed
among the houses of the citizens.

Benedetto subsequently spent many years in France,
where he laboured to some purpose and made large gains,
insomuch that he ultimately returned to Florence with many
privileges and gifts, whereby the king of the first-named
country had borne testimony to the estimation in which his
abilities had been held there. Finally, having given his
attention not only to painting but to military matters, Bene-
detto died in the fiftieth year of his age.

Now David, although he worked and designed not a little,
did, nevertheless, not greatly surpass Benedetto, a circum-
stance that may have arisen from the fact that he was too

.* Bottari considers this Niccolaio to be the person mentioned in the
Life of Fra Filippo Lippi, as Niccolo Zoccoli, called Cartoni.

f For the Life of Granacci, see vol. iii. p. 452, et seq.

j Enumerated among the disciples of Domenico, in the Life of that
master, for which see vol. ii. p. 200.

These works were removed from the church in the year 1804, and
were taken to the Palace of the Medici-Tornaqumci family ; they were
subsequently sold ; when some of the smaller paintings were purchased by
Lucien Buonaparte. Ed, Flor., 1832-8.


wealthy and too much at his ease, and therefore did not keep
his thoughts fixed with sufficient firmness on art, who is
never to be found in her perfection but by him who zealously
seeks her ; being found, moreover, she will not be neglected
without at once taking flight.

At the upper end of an avenue in the garden which
belongs to the Monks of the Angeli in Florence, there are
two figures in fresco by the hand of David Ghirlandajo ;
they stand at the foot of a Crucifix, and represent San
Benedetto and San Romualdo : these works are opposite to
the door by which entrance to that garden is obtained.* He
did other things of similar kind, but they do not merit that
any particular record should be made of them.

But although David would not erive much attention to art

O * '

himself, it was not a little to his credit that he caused his
nephew Ridolfo, the son of Domenico, to devote his hours
with all study thereto, and to walk in the footsteps of his
father, insomuch that this youth, who was the ward of David,
and was endowed with a fine genius, received all possible aid
from his uncle, who, having engaged him to study the art of
painting, supplied him with all the facilities and encourage-
ment necessary to forward his progress in the same, and this
all the more readily, as he had begun to repent when too
late of not having laboured earnestly himself, and of having
consumed his time with mosaic.

For the King of France,! David Ghirlandajo executed a
large picture in mosaic 011 a thick panel of walnut-wood.
The subject of this work is the Madonna, with numerous
Angels around her, and the mosaic was very highly praised.
David passed much of his time at Montaione, which is a
fortified place in the Valdelsa, and he dwelt there, prin-
cipally because in that place he had furnaces, and could

* These works, having suffered by time, were re-painted by a modern
artist of very common-place character. Masselli.

f Bottari affirms this to have been the first Mosaic sent into Franc*,,
but it was to the President de Guisnes, who obtained it when he accom-
panied Charles VIII. to Naples, and not to the king of France, that the
work was sent. This is proved by an inscription, also in mosaic, on the
lower part of the picture itself, and which is as follows :

Dominus Johannes de Ganai prcesidens Parisiensis primus adduxit
de Italia Parisium hoc opus inosaicum.



readily obtain the various woods, glass, &c. which he required
for his mosaics ; he therefore executed many labours in glass
as well as in mosaic, at Montaione, more especially certain
Vases, which were given to the Magnificent Lorenzo de'
Medici the elder. David likewise produced three heads
(those of San Pietro and San Lorenzo namely, with that
'of Giuliano de' Medici), in a framework of copper, and this
is now preserved in the Guardaroba of the Duke.

Eidolfo meanwhile, being frequently engaged in drawing
from the Cartoon of Michelagnolo, was reputed to be one of
the best artists who studied that work, and was much esteemed
by all, but more particularly by Raifaello Sanzio da Urbino,
who at that time, he being also a young man of a great
name, was sojourning in Florence, as we have said, for the
study of his art.

When Ridolfo had designed much and frequently from
the above-mentioned Cartoon, and had besides obtained con-
siderable practice in painting, under Fra Bartolommeo di
San Marco, he had made so much progress, according to the
opinion of the best artists, that Raffaello, being compelled to
leave Florence for Rome, whither he had been invited by
Pope Julius II., left to Ridolfo the care of finishing the
blue drapery, with some other small matters, still wanting to
the picture of a Madonna, painted by Raffaello for certain
gentlemen of Siena ; * and which Ridolfo, having completed the
same with very great care, did ultimately send to that city.
Nor had Raffaello dwelt any long time in Rome, before he
began to make all efforts for prevailing on Ridolfo to repair
thither also ; but the latter, who had never as the saying
is " lost sight of the Cupola,"f and could in no wise resolve
on living out of Florence, would accept no proposal which
might compel him to abandon his abode in his native place.

For the Convent of the Nuns of Ripoli, this artist painted
two pictures in oil ; the one a Coronation of Our Lady, and

* This circumstance is related, as our readers will remember, in the Life
of Raphael. See vol. iii. p. 12.

f The Cupola of the Cathedral that is to say, of which the Florentines
are jestingly declared to be enamoured to such a degree that they cannot
contentedly draw the breath of life in any place from which it is not


the other a Madonna surrounded by Saints. In the Church
of San Gallo he depicted Our Saviour Christ, bearing his
Cross and accompanied by a large body of soldiers ; the
Madonna and the other Maries, weeping in bitter grief, are also
represented, with San Giovanni and Santa Veronica, who
presents the handkerchief to Our Saviour ; and all these
figures are delineated with infinite force and animation.
This work, in which there are many beautiful portraits from
the life, and which is executed with much love and care,
caused Ridolfo to acquire a great name;* the portrait of his
father is among the heads, as are those of certain among his
disciples, and of some of his friends Poggino, Scheggia, and
Nunziata for example, the head of the latter being one of
extraordinary beauty. t

Now this Nunziata, although he was but a painter of
puppets, was nevertheless a man of distinguished ability in
certain things, more especially in the preparation of fire-
works, and those Girandoli, which, as we have said, were
made every year for the festival of St. John. He was
besides a most amusing and facetious person, insomuch that
every one had pleasure in conversing with him. A citizen
came to him one day, and, bemoaning the displeasure caused
him by such painters as knew only how to produce impro-
prieties, desired that Nunziata would make him a Madonna,
and such a one as should be decent and proper, of respectable
years that is to say, and not likely to move any one to light
thoughts, whereupon Nunziata depicted him a Madonna
with a beard. Another, wishing to have a Crucifix for a
room on the ground floor of his house, in which he was ac-
customed to pass the months of summer, could find nothing
to say but, " I want a Crucifix for summer," when Nunziata,
perceiving the man to be a simpleton, painted him a figure,
wearing no other drapery than a pair of stockings.'^

But we return to Ridolfo, who, having received the com-

* This picture was painted in 1504, and when the artist was but nineteen
years old. It was sent in the year 1813 to Paris, where it still remains.

f The picture is now 'in the Palazzo Antinoni. The Church of San
Gallo was demolished, as before related, when the city was menaced by the
Prince of Orange. .Erf. Flor., 1832-8.

t This Nunziata was the father of that Toto del Nunziata, of whom
mention has been already made, and of whom there is more in a subse-
quent page.


mission for a picture to be painted for the Monastery of
Costello, made great efforts to surpass his rivals, and executed
that work, the subject of which was the Nativity of Christ,
with all the pains and care that he could possibly command ;
the principal figures are the Madonna, who is in the act
of adoring the Divine Child, with San Giuseppo, and two
other saints, San Francesco and San Geronimo namely,
both kneeling. He added a most beautiful landscape, of a
country similar to the Sasso della Vernia, where it was that
San Francesco received the stigmata : over the hut wherein
is the Infant Saviour, moreover, there are angels singing ;
the colouring of this work is exceedingly beautiful, and it
has great relief.*

About the same time Ridolfo executed a picture which
was sent to Pistoja, and commenced two others for the
Company or Brotherhood of San Zanobi, who have their seat
near the Canonicate of Santa Maria del Ficre ; these pictures
being intended to stand one on each side of the Annuncia-
tion, which had formerly been executed in that place by
Mariotto Albertinelli, as we have related in his life. These
works Ridolfo brought to conclusion in a manner which was
greatly to the satisfaction of the Brotherhood, representing
in one of the two, San Zanobi restoring to life a child which
had died in the Borgo degli Albizzi, at Florence ; this
story is depicted with much power and animation, an
effect which is heightened by the circumstance that many
of the heads are portraits from the life, to say nothing of
certain women, whose faces express most truthfully the joy
and surprise with which they behold the child revive, and
see his spirit return to him.

The second of the pictures painted for the Brotherhood
of San Zanobi represents that saint when carried by six
bishops from San Lorenzo, where he was first buried, to
Santa Maria del Fiore, and when, passing by the Piazza of
San Giovanni, an Elm, which had been dried up and dead,
being touched by the coffin wherein was the holy corpse, put
forth leaves, for such was the will of God, and bore flowers
anew. On the place where the tree stood there is now a

* When the Monastery passed from the Cistercian Monks to the Car-
melite Nuns of Santa Maddalena de' Pazzi, this picture was stolen from
the building. Masselli.


column of marble with a cross upon it, as a memorial of that
miracle. This picture was no less beautiful than were those
before described as produced by the abovenamed Ridolfo.*

Now these works were all performed by our artist dur-
ing the lifetime of his uncle David, wherefore that good
old man was much rejoiced thereby, and thanked Grod that
he had lived so long as almost to have seen the genius of
Domenico living again in Ridolfo. At length, and when, in
his seventy-fourth year that is, he was preparing, though
then so old, to visit Rome, there to take part in the Holy
Jubilee of 1525, he fell sick and died in that same year.
He received sepulture from Ridolfo in the Church of Santr.
Maria Novella, where the other members of the Ghirlandajo
family are buried.

Ridolfo had a brother in the Camaidoline Monastery of
the Angeli in Florence; and this ecclesiastic, who was called
Don Bartolommeo, was a truly upright and worthy man.
Ridolfo, who greatly loved him, painted a picture for him in
the cloister which looks on the garden ; in the Loggia that
is to say, wherein are these stories from the life of San
Benedetto, which were painted in Verdaccio by the hand of
Paolo Uccello. The subject of Ridolfo's story, which is on
the right of the entrance as you go in by the door of the
garden, is the abovenamed Saint seated at table with two
Angels beside him ; he is waiting until Romano shall send
him bread into the grotto, but the devil has cut the cord to
pieces with stones. San Benedetto is furthermore depicted
as investing a young brother of his order with the monastic
habit. But the best of all the figures in that arch of the
Loggia is the portrait of a dwarf who was at that time wont
to stand at the door of the monastery.

At the same place, and over the Holy Water vase which
stands near the entrance of the Church, Ridolfo painted a
fresco in colours, Our Lady namely, with the Divine Child
in her arms, and little Angels, which are most beautiful,
hovering around her; over the door of a small chapel, which
is in the cloister opposite to the Capitular buildings also, he
painted a fresco in one of the lunettes, San Romualdo that

These works are still in good preservation, and may be seen in the
Public Gallery of Florence (the Uffizj), among the paintings of the
Tuscan School. .Ed. Flor., 1832-8.


is to say, with the Church of the Hermitage of Camaldoli
in his hand.* No long time after having completed the
above, Ridolfo furthermore executed a very fine picture of
the Last Supper for the same monks; this work, which is a
fresco, is at the upper end of their Refectory : for that paint-
ing our artist received his commission from the Abbot Don
Andrea Dossi, who had formerly been a monk in the monas-
tery, and who caused his own portrait to be painted in one
of the lowermost corners of the picture.

In the little Church of the Misericordia, on the Piazza of
San Giovanrri, Ridolfo painted three most beautiful Stories
from the Life of Our Lady, on a gradino or predella, and
these are so delicately executed that they appear to be
miniatures. For Matteo Cini the same artist painted a
Tabernacle at the corner of his house which is near the
Piazza of Santa Maria Novella ; the subject of the work is
Our Lady with St. Matthew the Apostle and San 'Dome-
nico ; two little sons of Matteo Cini, portraits from the
life, are represented as kneeling before the Virgin ; this pic-
ture although but a small one, is exceedingly pleasing and

For the Nuns of San Girolamo, of the Order of San
Francesco de' Zoccoli, who have their Convent on the height
of San Giorgio, this artist depicted two Stories, the one
representing San Girolamo in the act of doing penance, while
the Nativity of Our Saviour Christ is set forth in the lunette
above ; and the other, which is opposite to the first, being an
Annunciation ; in the lunette above the same is Santa Maria
Maddalena receiving the sacrament. "J" In the palace, which
is now the property of the Duke,:]: Grhirlandajo painted the
Chapel, wherein the Signori hear mass, depicting the Most
Holy Trinity in the centre of the vaulted ceiling, with figures
of Angels in the form of children, and bearing the mysteries
of the Passion, in some of the divisions thereof. There are
besides the heads of the twelve Apostles, and in the four
angles are the whole-length figures of the Four Evangelists;
while on the principal wall of the Chapel is the Angel

* These works were destroyed when the church was* restored. Bottarl.
f These two paintings are still in their places. Masselli.
Commonly called the Palazzo Vecchio. The chapel here in question
is no.v used for the purposes of the Guardaroba. Ibid.


Gabriel approaching with the Annunciation to the Virgin.
Riclolfo added a kind of landscape in the back ground.,
exhibiting the Piazza of the Nunziata in Florence, and con-
tinuing even to the Church of San Marco. The whole
work is admirably executed, and has numerous and beautiful
decorations ; when it was finished our artist painted a picture
which was placed in the Deanery of Prato, and represents
Our Lady offering her girdle to St. Thomas, who is there
seen, together with the other Apostles.*

For Monsignor de' Bonafe, Director of the Hospital of
Santa Maria Novella, and Bishop of Cortona, Ridolfo painted
a picture to be placed in the Church of Ognissanti ; the
subject of this work was Our Lady, with San Giovanni
Battista and San Romualdo ; and as the Bishop considered
himself to have been served well and duly, he caused our
artist to execute certain other paintings for him; but of these
\ve need make no further mention. He next copied three
pictures which had formerly been painted in the Medici
palace by Anton Pollaiuolo, and the subjects of which were
taken from the labours of Hercules ; these Ridolfo painted
for Giovambattista d&lla Palla, by whom they were sent into

Having executed these and many other paintings, and
finding in his possession all the requisites for mosaic- work,
which had belonged to his uncle David, and to Domenico his
father, Ridolfo, who had also acquired some knowledge of
the processes to be pursued in that work, determined to make
an attempt therein. Having completed certain pieces accord-
ingly and finding that he succeeded, he then undertook to
decorate in mosaic the arch which is over the door of the
Church of the Nunziata, and in this he placed a figure of
the Angel who is bringing the Annunciation to the Virgin ;t

* Now in the chantry of the Cathedral at Prato. To have been exact,
Vasari should have said, St. Thomas with other Saints, and not " other
Apostles," since many of the figures do not represent apostles. Ed. Flor.,

f A compatriot of our author remarks that, although this fact, which
Vasari may have received from Ridolfo himself, is not to be called in
question, yet that it ought to have been mentioned earlier, and the mosaic
placed among the works executed during the lifetime of his uncle David,
since it was certainly the last-named artist who received the commission for
that work from the Monks, and who, if he permitted Ridolfo to execute


but not having the patience required for joining those
innumerable little morsels together, he never attempted any-
thing more in that manner.

For the Company of the Vfoolcoinbers, Ridolfo painted
a picture in their little Church at the upper end of the
Campaccio, the Assumption of Our Lady namely, with a
choir of angels and the Apostles standing around her tomb ;
but it happened unfortunately that in the year of the siege,
the place wherein this work was executed being filled with
young birches for making fascines, the humidity thus occa-
sioned caused the intonaco to fall off, and the picture was

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